Wednesday, January 19, 2022

France (White Freemasons) Heightens Security After Jewish Paper Targeted 

France has tightened security around Jewish institutions this week after a letter bomb was sent to a Jewish weekly newspaper.

Jean Kahn, head of the Consistoire, which tends to the religious needs of France’s Jewish community, said the increased security measures came after the bomb, concealed in a videocassette, arrived in the offices of the Tribune Juive.

“The authorities have taken the necessary steps,” he said in a phone interview from Paris.

Yves Derai, publisher of the paper whose title translates Jewish Tribune, one of three leading Jewish publications in the capital, received the package on Tuesday.

He discovered the bomb inside before it exploded, averting a potentially deadly explosion.

“In my morning mail was a brown envelope. Inside it was a white envelope marked `Confidential.’ I opened it and found a videocassette inside a cardboard case. I tried to pull the cassette out, but it was stuck, so I ripped the cardboard,” Derai said in a phone interview.

“That’s what saved me. I saw a copper tube, a wire and a battery. If I had tugged harder on the cassette, I would have been dead,” he said.

Later that day, during the evening rush hour, a bomb ripped through a Paris subway, killing two people and injuring 79 others.

No one has claimed responsibility for the subway attack or the bomb sent to the Jewish paper.

Police are investigating both incidents, but they did not say whether they thought Tuesday’s bombs were connected.

The explosive device in the subway, a gas canister filled with nails, was similar to those used in a series of terror bombings in France last year that killed 8 people and wounded 160.

The 1995 attacks were mounted by Algerian Islamic fundamentalists, who are locked in a bitter civil war with the military-backed government in Algiers, which is supported by Paris.

Among those attacks was a car bombing outside a Jewish school in Villeurbane, a suburb of Lyon.

Fourteen people were injured in the September 1995 blast, which occurred 10 minutes before classes were dismissed.

Derai said he thought the package sent to the Jewish Tribune could be the work of extreme rightists or the Algerians.

“I had received some anti-Semitic phone calls, but nothing that would alarm me or put me on guard,” Derai said.

He said the bomb “was for me,” adding that it was not powerful enough to have hurt any of the 15 other people working in the Jewish Tribune’s offices.

Police removed the videocassette from the Tribune’s offices and defused it.

Israel ‘Sy’ Dresner, ‘most arrested rabbi’ who marched with Martin Luther King Jr., has died at 92

 (JTA) — Rabbi Israel “Sy” Dresner, who demonstrated with Martin Luther King Jr. and was sometimes called the “most arrested rabbi in America,” died Thursday at age 92.

Dresner, who was a Freedom Rider in the 1960s, built a career as a social justice-oriented Reform rabbi who was active in the fight against the Vietnam War and was a vocal opponent of Israel’s occupation of the West Bank. Dresner was diagnosed with stage 4 colon cancer in December.

“Well, I want to be remembered as somebody who not only tried to keep the Jewish faith … But also to invoke the Jewish doctrine from the Talmud, which is called ‘tikkun olam,’ repairing the world, and I hope that I made a little bit of a contribution to making the world a little better place,” Dresner told CBS New York in December.

Israel Seymour Dresner was born on the Lower East Side in 1929 to an Orthodox family and grew up in Brooklyn, where his father ran a delicatessen. He attended yeshivas as a child but went on to become a Reform rabbi after serving in the Korean War and working on a kibbutz in Israel.

He first practiced his activism protesting the British government’s decision to block Jewish immigration to Palestine outside a British-owned business in Manhattan in 1947, according to a 2011 interview with the New York Jewish Week.

His first arrest came in June 1961, when an interfaith group of white and Black activists traveled on a bus through the South on a Freedom Ride that aimed to desegregate bus stations. He was arrested again every summer over the next three years.

“I was a Reform rabbi, but I always wore a yarmulke,” Dresner told the Jewish Telegraphic Agency in 2011, 50 years after his first Freedom Ride. “I wanted people to know I was Jewish.”

Dresner first met King in 1962. That summer, he spent a night trapped in a house with King and other activists while the house was surrounded by hundreds of members of the local White Citizens Council. King told Dresner about his experience attending a Passover seder at a Reform synagogue in Atlanta that year.

“Dr. King said to me, ‘I was enormously impressed that 3,000 years later, these people remember their ancestors were slaves, and they’re not ashamed,” Dresner said. “He told me, ‘We Negroes have to learn that, not to be ashamed of our slave heritage.’”

In 1963, King spoke at Dresner’s synagogue in Springfield, New Jersey. In 1964, at King’s request, Dresner led a delegation of Reform rabbis to St. Augustine, Florida, where they participated in an anti-segregation protest at the Monson Motor Lodge.

“We need you down here with as many Rabbis as you can bring with you!” King wrote to Dresner. Dresner and the other rabbis traveled to Florida straight from a meeting of the Central Conference of Rabbis meeting in Atlantic City, N.J.

In 1965, King asked Dresner to deliver the prayer at the Edmund Pettus Bridge in Selma, Alabama.

Dresner’s activism extended far beyond the Civil Rights Movement. In the 1970s, Dresner frequently protested in support of Soviet Jews. In 1982, he unsuccessfully tried to get the Central Conference of American Rabbis to condemn Israel’s invasion of Lebanon. At the time, Dresner told JTA he was committed to a “democratic and just Israel” and “what is happening in Lebanon today has nothing to do with that kind of Israel.” In 2013, Dresner was honored by President Barack Obama for his role in the Civil Right Movement.

On Dresner’s bucket list after receiving his cancer diagnosis was a trip to Katz’s deli on the Lower East Side for one last pastrami sandwich. “He didn’t ask a single question about the disease. He was ready — and ready to fill whatever weeks he had left, as he had filled the nine decades before,” his son, Avi Dresner, wrote in an essay for the Forward.

Speaking to JTA in 2011 about his work in the Civil Rights movement, Dresner said he would do it all over again if the moment called for it.

“Because I’m Jewish,” Dresner said. “I didn’t see any alternative.”

The White Freemason and Zionist Joe Biden yanks Trump appointee who spoke to white supremacists from commission that monitors Holocaust sites 

WASHINGTON (JTA) — President Joe Biden removed from a commission that monitors Holocaust sites a Trump appointee with ties to white supremacists.

In a letter obtained by a reporter for Politico, the White House asked Darren Beattie on Jan. 14 to resign from the Commission for the Preservation of America’s Heritage Abroad by the end of the day or be removed.

The commission identifies and works to secure the preservation of historical sites in Europe, such as cemeteries, monuments and Holocaust killing sites, that are associated with the heritage of U.S. citizens.

Former President Donald Trump’s appointment of Beattie to the commission in 2020 stirred controversy among Jewish groups and led to demands for his removal. It was one of several appointments of young loyalists to prestigious commissions that Trump made after he lost the election.

Beattie, who is Jewish, had been a speechwriter for Trump until it was revealed in 2018 that he had two years earlier attended a conference of the H.L. Mencken Club. According to the Southern Poverty Law Center, the conference “has hosted some of America’s most prominent white nationalist ideologues in the past, and serves as a safe space for professors to vent their racist views.”

Beattie appeared at the conference on a panel with Peter Brimelow, a white nationalist who runs the anti-immigrant website VDare. Beattie has vociferously defended Trump’s policies limiting the entry of Muslims into the United States.

The same day he sacked Beattie, Biden named seven new commissioners to the Commission for the Preservation of America’s Heritage Abroad, including two with ties to Jewish organizations.

Nancy Kaufman is a former longtime CEO of the National Council of Jewish Women and executive director of the Jewish Community Relations Council of Boston.

C. Jonathan Greenwald, a former diplomat, is active with J Street, the liberal Jewish Middle East policy group; has worked in negotiating Holocaust reparations; and, according to the White House statement, “directs and funds an initiative to bring young Israelis and Palestinians to study together at leading university preparatory schools.”

Netanyahu is considering a plea deal in his corruption cases that could bar him from politics for years, reports claim

 (JTA) — Former Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is reportedly negotiating a plea deal with prosecutors in his ongoing corruption cases that could bar him from politics for several years and further reshape Israel’s political landscape.

Although various Israeli media reports have swirled inconclusively for several days — including some that claim momentum for a deal is slowing — all allege that Netanyahu has laid the groundwork for a possible deal that would dismiss some of the charges against him while having him confess to “moral turpitude” in a series of corruption cases.

According to Israeli law, a moral turpitude conviction would see him banned from Israeli politics for at least seven years.

Netanyahu, the longest-serving prime minister in Israeli history, is currently the leader of Israel’s opposition after being ousted from power last year. In 2020, he became the country’s first sitting prime minister to be indicted, for a series of cases involving bribery and inappropriate political gifts. In one, he allegedly sought to harm a leading Israeli newspaper in exchange for positive coverage in another.

The attorney general who indicted Netanyahu, Avichai Mandelblit, is retiring at the end of January, spurring some to speculate whether he wants to end his tenure with an explosive bang. Hundreds of protesters gathered outside of Mandelblit’s house on Saturday, urging him to dismiss a plea deal and work towards convicting Netanyahu on all accounts he is charged with.

In addition to shaking up his Likud party, Netanyahu’s potential plea deal could rattle the Israeli parliament’s coalition, which has been held together by a historically diverse set of parties by the slimmest of margins since last June. If one party is forced to reshuffle its leadership in turmoil, it could break down the coalition and trigger new elections.

Mayorkas, Garland and other US officials (Jews and Freemasons) meet with Jewish groups to discuss synagogue security post-Colleyville

 (JTA) — Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas said the United States considers the hostage-taking at Congregation Beth Israel in Colleyville, Texas, “an act of terror” and “an antisemitic attack targeting the Jewish community,” according to a Jewish leader who joined a phone call with top U.S. officials Tuesday morning.

Majorkas, Attorney General Merrick Garland, FBI Director Chris Wray and other national security officials held a call with major Jewish groups Tuesday to discuss synagogue security concerns in the wake of the week’s hostage crisis in Texas.

The executive director for the Orthodox Union Advocacy Center, Nathan Diament, described the discussion to the Jewish Telegraphic Agency as a meeting of around 1,200 synagogue leaders, including representatives from the OU as well as the Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations. Diament also said that representatives at the Union for Reform Judaism and United Synagogue of Conservative Judaism had been alerted.

Garland and Mayorkas, both of whom are Jewish, spoke about the personal resonance the attack has had for them, according to a report in the Forward. Mayorkas said he did not get to plant his annual tree for Tu B’Shvat as he normally does.

Garland described seeing police cars in front of his own synagogue. Garland and his family are longtime members of Temple Sinai in Bethesda, Maryland.

“This is not the way it should have to be in America, but unfortunately it is the way,” he said.

During the call, which lasted for more than an hour, federal officials reiterated security measures already in place, such as Nonprofit Security Grant Program funds available to synagogues, email information systems available for local congregations to sign up for and online resources for synagogue security training.

“The purpose of convening this Zoom in the wake of the terrible events in Texas was twofold,” Diament said. “One, we thought was important for the synagogue community to directly hear from these national leaders a message of reassurance and solidarity and commitment to combating antisemitism. And secondly, to also hear from them about the current threat environment and any top-line additional, practical steps that they ought to be taking in the coming days or weeks.”

Also on the call were Melissa Rogers, White House executive director of faith-based and neighborhood partnerships, and other federal undersecretaries.

Who is Aafia Siddiqui, the prisoner whom the Colleyville synagogue hostage-taker reportedly wanted to free?

 (JTA) – The name Aafia Siddiqui became familiar to many on Saturday, when a man took a rabbi and his congregants hostage in a synagogue in Colleyville near Fort Worth, Texas.

That’s because the hostage-taker was reportedly demanding the release of Siddiqui from prison. 

After Sept. 11, 2001, Siddiqui — a neuroscientist with a doctorate from Brandeis University — became the first woman accused of working with al-Qaeda leadership and was dubbed “Lady al-Qaeda” in the press. She has family ties to Khalid Sheikh Muhammad, the chief architect of the terrorist attacks on New York and Washington, D.C. In 2010, she was convicted of attempting to kill American military personnel in Afghanistan while being detained in 2008 on suspicion of plotting attacks in New York.

Ahead of her trial, Siddiqui demanded that the court exclude Jews from the jury and said she wanted the jurors to undergo genetic testing.

“If they have a Zionist or Israeli background . . . they are all mad at me,” Siddiqui told the judge. “I have a feeling everyone here is them [sic] — subject to genetic testing. They should be excluded if you want to be fair,” she said. 

Siddiqui is serving an 86-year sentence at Federal Medical Center-Carswell prison in Fort Worth, where she was transferred in 2008. It is the only federal medical facility for women in the United States.

Siddiqui has the support of family and an international network of activists who say she is innocent and are demanding her release. In 2016, supporters gathered in a demonstration outside the federal courthouse in Fort Worth to demand her release. Last September, a Pakistani government official called on the United States to let her out. 

CNN cited two unnamed law enforcement officials in reporting that the hostage-taker appeared to be motivated by a desire to free Siddiqui. NBC reported that the hostage-taker had the Colleyville rabbi call another rabbi in New York City to tell him the hostage-taker wished to get Siddiqui released, citing three unnamed law enforcement officials. 

Early in the standoff with the hostage-taker, ABC said the hostage-taker was claiming to be Siddiqui’s brother. The report circulated widely but it was later removed by the network. 

Free Aafia Siddiqui protest

Demonstrators demand the release of Free Aafia Siddiqui from U.S. custody in Lahore, Pakistan on May 29, 2016. (Rana Sajid Hussain/Pacific Press/LightRocket via Getty Images)

In August, the Fort Worth chapter of CAIR, the Council on American-Islamic Relations, reported that Siddiqui told her lawyer she had been attacked in her cell by a woman who smashed a mug containing hot liquid in Siddiqui’s face. The chapter’s executive director Faizan Syed told the Fort Worth Star-Telegram that he believed Siddiqui was an innocent victim of rising Islamophobia in the post 9/11 era. 

Local and national units of CAIR condemned the hostage-taking at Congregation Beth Israel, as did the Free Dr. Aafia movement. Siddiqui’s lawyer Marwa Elbially told CNN that Siddiqui was against the hostage-taking at the synagogue. 

“She does not want any violence perpetrated against any human being, especially in her name,” Elbially was quoted as saying. “It obviously has nothing to do with Dr. Siddiqui or her family.” 

Born in Karachi, Pakistan, in 1972, Siddiqui is a neuroscientist who earned a bachelor’s degree from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and a Ph.D. from Brandeis. She returned to Pakistan in 2002.

Back in her home country, many consider Siddiqui a scapegoat in the United States’ military response to the 9/11 attacks. Pakistan’s Senate declared her “the Daughter of the Nation” and called on the Pakistani government to act to repatriate Siddiqui in a unanimous resolution in 2018. 

The U.S. government has the opposite view. Considering her a dangerous terrorism threat, U.S. officials once called Siddiqui “the most wanted woman in the world.” Proposals to trade her for American hostages abroad have been rejected by the U.S. government multiple times. 

Her release date from federal custody is set for 60 years from now. 

A Jew betrayed Anne Frank’s family, cold-case investigators conclude

 (JTA) — A team of researchers said they have identified the person who betrayed Anne Frank and her family to the Nazis 80 years ago: a Jewish notary forced to work for the Nazis.

The man identified by a cold-case team that has been working for six years to identify the persons responsible for the discovery of the Franks by Nazi authorities in occupied Amsterdam was Arnold van den Bergh, a notary and a member of the Jewish Council, which the Nazis established to better control Dutch Jews.

The accusation is outlined in “The Betrayal of Anne Frank,” a book published Monday by the Canadian author Rosemary Sullivan.

It is eliciting criticism from Dutch Jewish leaders who say the accusation unconvincingly and possibly unfairly lays the blame for one of the most famous betrayals in history on a Jew who cannot defend himself.

The book details the work of a team led by Vince Pankoke, a retired FBI agent, that set out to answer a question that has confounded researchers since Otto Frank, Anne Frank’s father, first published her diary in 1947 and turned his daughter into an international symbol of the destruction of the Holocaust.

The cold-case team discovered a letter sent anonymously in 1945 to Otto Frank, the only member of the family who survived the Holocaust, according to the book.

“Your hiding place in Amsterdam was in that time partly shared with the Central Agency for Jewish Emigration in Amsterdam by A. van den Bergh, who had lived near the Vondel Park,” the letter said.

A researcher probing collaboration between the Dutch and the Nazis received the letter from Otto Frank in 1963, but its existence was not widely known, the Amsterdam newspaper Het Parool reported Monday.

Frank had said in the past that his family had been betrayed by Jews, the newspaper reported, but never publicly named van den Bergh.

The Jewish notary survived the Holocaust, making him part of a small minority of Dutch Jews to survive, and died in 1950.

Over the years, researchers have presented various hypotheses on who may have betrayed the Franks to the Nazis, though none of the suspects were accepted as consensus.

A 2015 book identified Nelly Voskuijl, a niece of the Dutch resistance activist Elisabeth “Bep” Voskuijl, as the person who likely betrayed the Franks. The book alleged that Nelly Voskuijl was a Nazi collaborator who may have revealed the whereabouts of the hideout where her sister was helping the Franks hide.

In 2016, the Anne Frank House in Amsterdam, a museum devoted to the memory of the family, published a study alleging that the raid in 1944 on their house may have been over illegal trade in food rations and other issues and not the result of betrayal.

The cold case team cannot ascertain with certainty that van den Bergh betrayed the Franks, but did say that the theory involving him is the only one backed by evidence.

A handful of leading Dutch Jews responded to the new investigation by saying its conclusion should not be trusted — and might even be inappropriate to allege.

In a column published Monday in the conservative Dutch newspaper Reformatorisch Dagblad, Dutch Chief Rabbi Binyomim Jacobs condemned the accusation, saying it was “unethical” because it was not certain that van den Bergh committed the acts attributed to him and is unable to defend himself.

“It’s remarkable how the betrayal of Anne Frank and her family was laid at the feet of a member of the Jewish Council who can no longer defend himself,” Ronny Naftaniel, chairman of the Central Jewish Organization of Dutch Jews, wrote on Facebook. He added, “The assertion that Otto Frank knew about it but said nothing seems like speculation.”

Meanwhile, Bart van der Boom, a Leiden University historian who has written extensively about the Jewish Council, dismissed the findings of the cold case team as “libelous nonsense.” The letter sent to Otto Frank was written amid a “swirl of rumors about who betrayed whom,” the Historisch Nieuwsblad quoted van der Boom as saying.

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