GONEN SEGEV: ISRAEL EX-MINISTER ADMITS SPYING FOR IRAN












Former Israeli cabinet minister Gonen Segev is to be jailed for 11 years after he admitted spying for Iran, Israel's justice ministry says. Segev, who served as energy minister in the 1990s, was allegedly recruited while working as a doctor in Nigeria.He was accused of leaking details about Israeli officials and security sites.

Segev was detained in Equatorial Guinea in May and extradited to Israel. He pleaded guilty to serious espionage as part of a deal with prosecutors. The 63-year-old will be formally sentenced at a hearing on 11 February.

There was no immediate comment from the Iranian authorities. Ever since the Islamic Revolution in 1979, when religious hardliners came to power, Iran's leaders have called for Israel's elimination. Iran rejects Israel's right to exist, considering it an illegitimate occupier of Muslim land.

In 2005, Segev was given a five-year prison sentence after being convicted of trying to smuggle 30,000 ecstasy pills from the Netherlands to Israel using a diplomatic passport with a falsified expiry date.

He also had his licence to practice medicine revoked, but he was allowed to work as a doctor in Nigeria when he moved there after his release from jail in 2007.

Israel's internal security service, Shin Bet, said in June that Segev had confessed to making contact with Iranian embassy officials in Nigeria in 2012 and visiting Iran twice to meet his handlers. He was allegedly given a classified communications system to send coded messages and passed on "information related to the energy sector, security sites in Israel and officials in political and security institutions".

While Segev admitted to the charge of espionage, he reportedly told investigators that he had been trying to "fool the Iranians and come back to Israel a hero".

An initial charge of "assisting an enemy during a time of war" was removed from his indictment as part of his plea bargain.

Further details of the case remain under a gag order.

"The district attorney's office wants to reveal more details about the affair, and once it's out, it will be clear that Segev indeed had contacts with Iranians, but not to aid them," Segev's legal team told the newspaper Yedioth Ahronoth.

"That is why the treason charge was removed from the amended indictment." -BBCi


WJC LAUNCHES MASS GLOBAL AWARENESS INITIATIVE OF INTERNATIONAL HOLOCAUST REMEMBRANCE DAY


The World Jewish Congress recently launches its annual #WeRemember campaign, to combat anti-Semitism and all forms of hatred, genocide and xenophobia. The campaign, which runs January 6-27, will take off simultaneously in 50 countries, in 20 languages, with a number of partners including several social media giants and the United Nations Educational, Scientific, and Educational Organization (UNESCO).
 
The 2019 #WeRemember initiative, now in its third year, urges people around the world to photograph themselves holding a #WeRemember sign and post it to social media, to spread the message that never again must mean never again. Last year, the campaign reached more than 650 million people – more than one out of 11 people worldwide.
 
Participant photos, interviews with Holocaust survivors, and messages from influencers of varied backgrounds, professions, ages and religions will be projected on the walls of Auschwitz-Birkenau and live streamed from January 24-27. The campaign is being held in advance of International Holocaust Remembrance Day on January 27, the anniversary of the liberation of the Auschwitz-Birkenau Nazi death camp in 1945.

Social media companies, including Twitter and Snapchat, will support the World Jewish Congress’ campaign in various ways. On Snapchat, for example, the Our Story coverage of the day, including content related to Holocaust education, will be available on the Discover page on 27 January 27. Snapchatters can join the conversation by submitting their Snaps to the public Our Story using the available Filters.
 
The United Nations Educational, Scientific, and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) has also joined the WJC as an integral partner, after launching together a joint website on Holocaust education (aboutholocaust.org).  Roberta Grossman and Nancy Spielberg,  the filmmakers of Who Will Write Our History, and their distributor Abramorama, are supporting the We Remember project during the global event screening in over 200 venues around the globe.

“With levels of antisemitism, xenophobia and Holocaust-denial rampant and rising across the world, it is imperative that the memory of the Holocaust be shared more widely than ever, to ensure that the atrocities we witnessed just seven decades ago never repeat themselves,” said World Jewish Congress President Ronald S. Lauder. “A concerning report by the European Union Agency for Fundamental Rights (FRA) last month found that nine out of 10 European Jews said they believed antisemitism was getting worse, and a shocking CNN poll released shortly before that found that more than one-third of Europeans know little to nothing about the Holocaust. With fewer survivors among us, it is the responsibility of the next generation to keep their stories and memories alive. Together, we must remember the past to protect our future for generations to come.”

The campaign will launch with a unique call by a number of Holocaust survivors who have a mission to educate the world to create a better future, and to share their stories with younger generations. These survivors include, inter alia, Toby Levy, a social media activist who has dedicated her life to educating the next generation about the danger of hatred, and Saul Dreier, the founder of the Holocaust Survivor Band and an advocate for using music as a form of remembrance. Participants amplifying the 2019 initiative also include reformed neo-Nazis, sports teams and association and people of all religions and backgrounds.

Lauder added: “Education is the key to combatting the spread of antisemitism and hatred, and given today’s digital sphere of influence, social media is the best tool to reach the masses. Since the #WeRemember initiative began, it has become a grassroots movement of wide impact. We urge everyone – Jewish and non-Jewish alike - to participate in the 2019 World Jewish Congress #WeRemember campaign to inspire these important conversations and help further spread awareness.”

Previous campaign participants include: Pope Francis, United Nations Secretary General António Guterres, First Lady Melania Trump, Prime Minister of Israel Benjamin Netanyahu, Prime Minister of Belgium Charles Michel, Former U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Nikki Haley, Senator of New York Charles Schumer, actress Gal Gadot, Foreign Minister of Russia Sergey Lavrov, Former Minister for Foreign Affairs of Germany Sigmar Gabriel, Holocaust survivors, and supporters from all walks of life fighting rampant antisemitism.


AGUDATH ISRAEL LAUDS THE RLUIPA SETTLEMENT ANNOUNCED FOR CONGREGATION SHOMREI TORAH OF CLIFTON, NJ


Agudath Israel of America hailed a recent unanimous decision by the Clifton (New Jersey) City Council to settle their decade-old zoning discrimination case with Congregation Shomrei Torah.

The $2.5 million settlement is one of the largest-ever recoveries under the Religious Land Use and Institutionalized Persons Act (RLUIPA). The federal law, which was enacted in 2000, prohibits local zoning boards from imposing or implementing zoning and other land use regulations in a manner that significantly affects the free religious exercise of a person, assembly, or institution. The Congregation was represented pro bono by the Weil, Gotshal & Manges law firm.

"Agudath Israel of America helped draft RLUIPA," explained Agudath Israel's New Jersey director Rabbi Avi Schnall, "and we have been involved in several recent cases in New Jersey which have successfully employed this critical tool to protect religious liberty."

"Our community owes the Weil team (led by partner Yehudah Buchweitz, counsel David Yolkut, associate Kaela Dahan, and others), a tremendous debt of gratitude for going above and beyond personally and professionally to ensure a satisfactory settlement to this case," said Duvy Gross, president of the congregation and co-chair of the New Jersey office of Agudath Israel of America.


THE EUROPEAN CAPITAL COBBLED WITH JEWISH GRAVESTONES


Each year millions of visitors walk through the cobbled streets of Prague's Old Town - without realising, most likely, that many of the stones below their feet have been looted from what was meant to be sacred ground. The BBC's Rob Cameron only recently learned their secret.

We stood, blocking the pedestrian traffic, on one of the busiest streets in the Czech capital. A steady stream of people pushed by us muttering as they clutched bags of Christmas shopping and souvenirs and we peered at the ground. In the distance, at the bottom of Wenceslas Square, crowds congregated around street performers and kiosks selling sausages and beer.

"There," said Leo Pavlat, the owlish, bearded director of the Prague Jewish Museum, pointing at a thin strip of dark, square cobblestones at our feet. "There! You see? All along there." He looked up, his eyes following the strip as it ran along the short pedestrianised street.

He delved into a plastic bag and brought out two cobblestones. They were almost identical to those embedded in the ground below us. But these ones you could turn over in your fingers, revealing a single smooth side of polished granite that would otherwise have been hidden face down.

One bore fragments of a date, 1895. The other featured three letters of the Hebrew alphabet - he, vav, bet, the gold paint which lined the chiselled inscriptions glinting in the winter sun.

"What does it mean?" I asked. "Is it part of a name?" Leo frowned. "No idea. It's not enough to tell. Possibly it's part of a eulogy."

Leo Pavlat has owned these stones for more than 30 years, ever since he slipped them into his pocket one spring morning some time in the late 1980s.

"It must have been shortly before Gorbachev came, because I remember they redid the cobblestones here especially for his visit," he said.  Later I looked online and discovered that the Soviet leader first visited Prague in April 1987, and the trip had indeed included an hour-long walkabout at the bottom of Wenceslas Square.

But back to Leo and his cobblestones. On that spring morning just over 30 years ago he was on his way to work in the Albatros children's publishing house, a short distance from where we now stood. He'd passed a sight that's still familiar in Prague today - piles of new cobbles waiting to be laid by workers in overalls and kneepads.

Something about them caught his eye, and he bent down for a closer look. They were fragments of Jewish tombstones that had been cut into perfect cubes of granite. Judging by the dates, they'd been taken from a 19th Century cemetery. Shocked, Leo pocketed a few and walked briskly away.

"It wasn't easy being Jewish back then," he told me. "I was an active member of the community, though not in the official circles. And I wasn't a member of the Communist Party."

Even attending the officially-sanctioned weekly service in one of the few functioning synagogues was enough to prompt a chat with the secret police, he said.  "There were no publications, no education. I think the regime just wanted the Jewish community to slowly die."

Czechoslovakia's Jewish population of some 350,000 people before World War Two, was reduced to about 50,000 in 1946 - including the few who had staggered back from the concentration camps.

Official anti-Semitism and voluntary emigration followed during the decades of communism. By the late 1980s, the population barely numbered 8,000.

 And across the country, on the edges of villages and towns, some 600 Jewish cemeteries lay untended and forgotten. The Communist authorities - and, it seems, the leaders of the Jewish community too - saw them as repositories of valuable building material that would otherwise go to waste.  Leo Pavlat couldn't remember where his stones had come from, but directed me to an article he'd written several years before. His cobbles, it seems, were cut from tombstones taken from a Jewish cemetery established in 1864 in the town of Udlice in North Bohemia.

There'd been a Jewish community there since the 17th Century, with a synagogue, yeshiva (a religious school) and two cemeteries. By 1930, the Jewish population of Udlice had fallen to 13. By the 1980s, when its cemetery was looted, it was - presumably - zero.  After a few minutes' walk, we reached the end of the granite line, at the bottom of Wenceslas Square. Tourists and locals jostled past us.

I asked Leo what he wanted the city to do. "It's not easy. The gravestones can never be put back together, and laying new cobbles would cost millions," he said.  "I don't think it was done deliberately by the Communists, to offend us Jews. But it is insensitive."

He'd like the city to put up a small plaque. A plaque that would remind people, he said, of the once vibrant Jewish life here. And the barbarism of the Communist regime. --BBCi

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                            8-14 Shevet, 5779                                      Jan 14-20, 2019 -- THE JEWISH OBSERVER, LOS ANGELES --  618th Web Ed.

                                                                           

                                                                                                         

'OFFENSIVE' JEWISH REMARKS AM JENNY RATHBONE RE-ADMITTED TO PARTY GROUP











h. --BBCi


A Labour AM accused of anti-Semitism has been allowed back into the party's group in the assembly while an investigation continues. Jenny Rathbone was suspended after suggesting the security fears of Jewish people at a Cardiff synagogue could be "in their own heads".

BBC Wales understands the decision to re-admit her was taken last year despite objections from some party AMs.

Ms Rathbone had previously apologised for the comments.

UK Labour said her comments were still under investigation.

In a recording, obtained by the Jewish Chronicle, of a meeting in her constituency in 2017 the Cardiff Central AM was asked about increased security measures at the synagogue.

She had said: "The fact that the Jewish synagogue in Cyncoed is, is become one of these, you know, fortress is really uncomfortable.

"How much of it is for real and how much of it is in their own heads is really hard for an outsider to judge, but I think siege mentalities are also part of it."

    Labour AM suspended over Jewish remarks
    AM's remarks 'offensive'

Cardiff Rabbi Michael Rose said at the time the comments were "extremely offensive".

BBC Wales understands that the decision was taken by former Labour chief chip Julie James after Mark Drakeford was elected as Welsh Labour leader, but before he appointed his cabinet.

One Labour AM said there had been a "quite a long discussion about it" at a group meeting before Christmas. "It's not good," the AM said.

Ms Rathbone's suspension came after an earlier private meeting of Labour AMs in November. BBC Wales has also been told that two AMs Julie Morgan and Jane Hutt had spoken against the suspension - both have since been appointed to the Welsh Government.

An assembly Labour group spokesman said on Wednesday: "Jenny Rathbone was readmitted to the group at the start of the spring term following a seven week suspension. A complaint has been referred to the UK Labour Party."

The Welsh Conservative's Mohammad Asghar said: "This decision raises so many questions about the Labour Party's attitude towards the Jewish citizens of our country.

"This only goes to demonstrate that Labour do not care about the Jewish community, the hate aimed at them, and their security concerns."

In a statement issued last year Ms Rathbone said: "I accept that comments I made [in 2017] were insensitive and have laid me open to accusations of intolerance.

"I've always appreciated the good relationship I've had with my local Jewish community and I apologise for any upset that my remarks may have caused to individual constituents and the wider Jewish community.

"With levels of anti-Semitism on the rise in many western countries, and following the devastating attack on Pittsburgh synagogue, no one can or should downplay the fears and concerns that many Jewish people are experiencing.

"I had no intention of doing so and I am deeply sorry that I did." --BBCi


BRUSSELS JEWISH MUSEUM KILLINGS: MEHDI NEMMOUCHE TRIAL BEGINS


The trial of a man accused of killing four people at the Jewish Museum of Brussels has started in Belgium.  Frenchman Mehdi Nemmouche is accused of shooting two tourists, a volunteer and a receptionist in the 2014 attack.

He allegedly fought in a jihadist group in Syria's war before returning to Europe and carrying out the anti-Semitic attack.

Nemmouche faces a life sentence if convicted, and denies the charges contained in the 200-page indictment.  Another Frenchman, Nacer Bendrer, is also on trial, accused of providing the weapons used in the shooting.

The lengthy indictment document contains details of the attack and the investigation which followed, and will be read out to jurors at the beginning of the trial in a Brussels criminal court.

What happened in the attack?

On 24 May 2014, a lone gunman entered the lobby of the Jewish Museum in Brussels. He opened fire on those inside and fled within a couple of minutes.

Three people died at the scene, while a fourth victim died two weeks later from their injuries. They were Myriam and Emmanuel Riva from Israel, who were tourists visiting the city; Dominique Sabrier, from France, who was volunteering at the museum; and Alexandre Strens, a Brussels native who worked there.

Investigators say Nemmouche carried out the attack, reportedly while carrying a camera with him to record the shooting, which failed to operate.  He was arrested six days later in Marseille, in the south of France, as he got off a bus. A Paris prosecutor said he was carrying a Kalashnikov rifle and a handgun believed to be have been used in the attack.

Who is Mehdi Nemmouche?

Nemmouche comes from the town of Roubaix in France, born into a family of Algerian origin.  He was previously known to French authorities, having served five years in prison for robbery. He is said to have met Mr Bendrer, who allegedly supplied the weapons in the Belgium attack, while in prison.

Both have been described as "radicalised" prisoners. He travelled to Syria in 2013 for one year, during which time it is alleged he fought for a jihadist group in the country's civil war.

Investigators say that while there, he met Najim Laachraoui, who was a suicide bomber in the Brussels airport attack of March 2016, which killed 32 people.

Four French people held hostage in Syria allege they were guarded by both Laachraoui and Mr Nemmouche during their captivity.

Links have also been drawn between Laachraoui's group and the one which carried out the Paris bombings of November 2015.

Nemmouche was extradited to Belgium to face charges connected to the museum shooting, but may also face trial in France over the allegations he was involved in the French prisoner's captivity. --BBCi


JEWISH AGENCY FIGURES REVEAL 5% RISE IN ALIYAH DURING 2018, INCLUDING 45% INCREASE FROM RUSSIA


JERUSALEM -- The Jewish Agency for Israel today published its official year-end data on Aliyah during 2018. According to the figures, more than 29,600 people immigrated to Israel from around the world this year, compared with 28,220 new immigrants in 2017, a 5-percent increase year over year.

The country with the largest number of olim (immigrants to Israel) in 2018 was Russia, with approximately more than 10,500 immigrants, representing a 45-percent increase from last year. Also within the former Soviet Union, more than 6,500 people made Aliyah from Ukraine, a 9-percent decrease from 2017.

A total of 3,550 individuals immigrated to Israel from North America (US and Canada), similar to last year’s figure, according to data coordinated with Nefesh B'Nefesh.

As many as 2,660 made Aliyah from France, a 25-percent decline. Elsewhere, more than 660 immigrants came from Brazil and over 330 arrived from the United Kingdom, both decreases of 4 percent. The more than 330 new immigrants from Argentina in 2018 marked a 17-percent rise from last year, and the over 320 from South Africa represented a 2-percent increase.

“I welcome this year’s increase in the number of immigrants to Israel,” said Jewish Agency Chairman of the Executive Isaac Herzog. “Every Jew who comes to Israel and establishes a home here completes another piece of the wonderful mosaic of the Jewish people in their historic homeland. After 70 years of the state’s independence and the tremendous number of olim who have already made it to Israel, the potential for even greater Aliyah remains significant, and The Jewish Agency will continue to work to achieve that goal.”

*The Jewish Agency emphasizes that the figures released today comprise the official statistics on Aliyah during 2018 through the end of November as well as the temporary data through December, in addition to estimates of the expected arrival of more immigrants in the remaining days of this month.


WJC LAUNCHES MASS GLOBAL AWARENESS INITIATIVE OF INTERNATIONAL HOLOCAUST REMEMBRANCE DAY


The World Jewish Congress recently launches its annual #WeRemember campaign, to combat anti-Semitism and all forms of hatred, genocide and xenophobia. The campaign, which runs January 6-27, will take off simultaneously in 50 countries, in 20 languages, with a number of partners including several social media giants and the United Nations Educational, Scientific, and Educational Organization (UNESCO).
 
The 2019 #WeRemember initiative, now in its third year, urges people around the world to photograph themselves holding a #WeRemember sign and post it to social media, to spread the message that never again must mean never again. Last year, the campaign reached more than 650 million people – more than one out of 11 people worldwide.
 
Participant photos, interviews with Holocaust survivors, and messages from influencers of varied backgrounds, professions, ages and religions will be projected on the walls of Auschwitz-Birkenau and live streamed from January 24-27. The campaign is being held in advance of International Holocaust Remembrance Day on January 27, the anniversary of the liberation of the Auschwitz-Birkenau Nazi death camp in 1945.

Social media companies, including Twitter and Snapchat, will support the World Jewish Congress’ campaign in various ways. On Snapchat, for example, the Our Story coverage of the day, including content related to Holocaust education, will be available on the Discover page on 27 January 27. Snapchatters can join the conversation by submitting their Snaps to the public Our Story using the available Filters.
 
The United Nations Educational, Scientific, and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) has also joined the WJC as an integral partner, after launching together a joint website on Holocaust education (aboutholocaust.org).  Roberta Grossman and Nancy Spielberg,  the filmmakers of Who Will Write Our History, and their distributor Abramorama, are supporting the We Remember project during the global event screening in over 200 venues around the globe.

“With levels of antisemitism, xenophobia and Holocaust-denial rampant and rising across the world, it is imperative that the memory of the Holocaust be shared more widely than ever, to ensure that the atrocities we witnessed just seven decades ago never repeat themselves,” said World Jewish Congress President Ronald S. Lauder. “A concerning report by the European Union Agency for Fundamental Rights (FRA) last month found that nine out of 10 European Jews said they believed antisemitism was getting worse, and a shocking CNN poll released shortly before that found that more than one-third of Europeans know little to nothing about the Holocaust. With fewer survivors among us, it is the responsibility of the next generation to keep their stories and memories alive. Together, we must remember the past to protect our future for generations to come.”

The campaign will launch with a unique call by a number of Holocaust survivors who have a mission to educate the world to create a better future, and to share their stories with younger generations. These survivors include, inter alia, Toby Levy, a social media activist who has dedicated her life to educating the next generation about the danger of hatred, and Saul Dreier, the founder of the Holocaust Survivor Band and an advocate for using music as a form of remembrance. Participants amplifying the 2019 initiative also include reformed neo-Nazis, sports teams and association and people of all religions and backgrounds.

Lauder added: “Education is the key to combatting the spread of antisemitism and hatred, and given today’s digital sphere of influence, social media is the best tool to reach the masses. Since the #WeRemember initiative began, it has become a grassroots movement of wide impact. We urge everyone – Jewish and non-Jewish alike - to participate in the 2019 World Jewish Congress #WeRemember campaign to inspire these important conversations and help further spread awareness.”

Previous campaign participants include: Pope Francis, United Nations Secretary General António Guterres, First Lady Melania Trump, Prime Minister of Israel Benjamin Netanyahu, Prime Minister of Belgium Charles Michel, Former U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Nikki Haley, Senator of New York Charles Schumer, actress Gal Gadot, Foreign Minister of Russia Sergey Lavrov, Former Minister for Foreign Affairs of Germany Sigmar Gabriel, Holocaust survivors, and supporters from all walks of life fighting rampant antisemitism.

The World Jewish Congress (WJC) is the leading international organization representing more than 100 diverse Jewish communities on six continents, under the leadership of President Ronald S. Lauder. The #WeRemember initiative, currently in its third year, is the world’s largest Holocaust commemoration event, and is dedicated to spreading awareness of all forms of xenophobia and genocide.