Anti – Zionist Fundamentalism
Police say the suspects allegedly attempted to extort businesses, harassing and threatening company officials with ultimatums to advertise in HaPeles (the “Jerusalem Faction”‘s newspaper), warning that the failure to do so would be seen as an insult to a large segment of the haredi population and would have serious consequences. The harassment of the targeted officials was reportedly ongoing on a daily basis.
28 arrested in crackdown on anti-Zionist radicals
Police operation against anti-draft Yerushalmi Faction nets 28 suspects, including senior members of ‘Hapeles’ newspaper.
Police arrested 28 suspects in a pre-dawn raid early Tuesday morning in a crackdown against the haredi anti-draft group known as the Yerushalmi Faction.
The Yerushalmi Faction, led by Rabbi Shmuel Auerbach, has had mass demonstrations and blocked roads across the country to protest the draft of yeshiva students into the IDF. Unlike mainstream haredi groups, the Yerushalmi Faction discourages its members from seeking deferments from the army as yeshiva students, arguing that such behavior legitimizes the existing draft law.
Among the 28 suspects arrested Tuesday are senior members of the Hapeles newspaper, the mouthpiece of the Yerushalmi Faction.
Police say the suspects allegedly attempted to extort businesses, harassing and threatening company officials with ultimatums to advertise in Hapeles, warning that the failure to do so would be seen as an insult to a large segment of the haredi population and would have serious consequences. The harassment of the targeted officials was reportedly ongoing on a daily basis.
Tuesday’s operation also included searches of offices maintained by Hapeles.
The arrestees included residents of Jerusalem, Modiin Illit, Bnei Brak, Ashdod, Rechasim, and Hadera.
During the arrests of suspects in Bnei Brak, some locals clashed with police, hurling stones and other objects at officers.
Hasidic man gets four years for role in group beating of gay black man in Brooklyn
It’s four years for an eye.
A Brooklyn judge sentenced a Hasidic Jewish man to four years in prison for participating in a vicious beatdown that left a gay black man blind in one eye.
Mayer Herskovic was not the only person who assaulted Taj Patterson on Flushing Ave. in December 2013. But he’s the only attacker getting prison time.
“Those who stomped and chased (Patterson) did try to injure him. The defendant was involved, he participated and was found guilty for that,” said Brooklyn Supreme Court Justice Danny Chun.
Patterson, 25, did not attend the court proceedings in Brooklyn Supreme Court on Thursday — he previously said he wants to move on with his life.
Nonetheless, the lasting effects of the senseless attack will remain with him.
“Mr. Patterson asked himself why all this happened to him and he concluded it’s because he was a young black male in a predominately Orthodox neighborhood,” Assistant District Attorney Timothy Gough said on behalf of the victim.
According to trial testimony, Patterson was walking to his Fort Greene home when men — some belonging to the Williamsburg Shomrim, a Jewish patrol group — began chasing after him. The attackers mistook him for the suspect in a car vandalism streak, prosecutors previously said.
“This defendant, that group and the community couldn’t see him as an individual, but as a criminal,” said Gough, who recommended Herskovic receive five years in prison.
Video surveillance showed men chasing Patterson for blocks. One person with a walkie-talkie was identified at trial as Yoelli (Joel) Itzkowitz, but he was not questioned for his role in the attack.
One of Patterson’s lawyers has urged the Brooklyn DA’s office to indict Itzkowitz, alleging prosecutors have overlooked Itzkowitz because his brother is the politically connected coordinator of the Williamsburg Shomrim.
Four men in addition to Herskovic were charged in the beating. Two of the cases were dismissed and two of the attackers took plea deals sentencing them to 150 hours of community service each.
“Amongst all participants who stomped and beat Mr. Patterson, this defendant wasn’t the most culpable,” Chun said of Herskovic. “Mr. Patterson was chased for blocks, but not by the defendant before me.”
Prosecutors placed Herskovic at the scene thanks to DNA found on one of Patterson’s sneakers that was thrown to the roof of a nearby building.
The “deeply scarred” Patterson asked the judge to sentence Herskovic to the maximum of 15 years in prison for the second-degree gang assault and unlawful imprisonment charges.
“When Patterson woke up in the hospital, he didn’t know where he was. He was upset, frightened and alone,” said Gough.
The victim has had surgery three times, but he’ll never regain eyesight in his right eye.
“I wish I can take back what happened to Mr. Patterson all those years ago … I hope he finds peace for all he has suffered and endured,” Herskovic told the judge as he pleaded for a lenient sentence.
“I’m 24, my life is about family, helping people,” he added. “I work as a construction worker. I work with all kinds of people, black, white, Hispanic, gay and not gay.”
Nevertheless, his lawyer Stuart Slotnick asserted outside of court that “the DNA evidence was completely and totally flawed.”
Eliezer Vigdarovich, a well-connected and well-known figure in the Gur Hasidic community, is facing an array of serious criminal charges in an affair that some in the district attorney’s office describe as “straight out of a Hollywood script.”
The amended indictment filed on Monday in Jerusalem District Court alleges that for the last few years, Vigdarovich has blackmailed by means of threats, engaged in aggravated assault, fabricated evidence, supplied drugs, kidnapped for the purpose of imprisonment and other serious crimes.
The schemes were orchestrated with the aim of incriminating an innocent couple in order to keep the woman away from her nine children (a goal that has so far been accomplished).
In December 2015, an Israeli couple was arrested at the airport in Boryspil, Ukraine, as they prepared to board a flight home, after a commercial quantity of marijuana, nearly 700 grams, was discovered in their luggage. The man, P., and the woman, H., were arrested and charged with drug possession and attempted drug smuggling.
Their trial is still ongoing in Ukraine.
Immediately after their arrest, suspicions were raised in the Gur community that they had been set up. An indictment was brought against Vigdarovich on Tuesday.
He is alleged to have planted the drugs on the couple in order to trap them outside of Israel and prevent the woman from having contact with her children.
Erez Padan, an assistant Jerusalem district attorney, tweeted: “One of the most difficult and convoluted cases we have dealt with this year culminated in an indictment today. Like a Hollywood script.”
H., a mother of nine, divorced her husband in September 2015. Even after the divorce proceedings were concluded, she and her husband continued to fight in the rabbinical court over custody for some of their nine children. Various people from the Gur community who also wished to sever her connection to the children also became involved.
Following the divorce, H., expressed her desire to marry P., a divorcé who had provided marriage counseling to her and her ex-husband while they were still married.
For a long time, members of the Gur community meddled in the family conflict. According to the indictment, they first pressured H. Then Vigdarovich himself pressured P. to leave H., even paying people to beat him up (one of the two attackers was also named in the charge sheet).
Vigdarovich was allegedly involved in later attempts to get P. and H. to marry, with the thought that it would then be easier to separate her from her children.
In one instance, Vigdarovich flew P. to Switzerland. Two thugs hired by Vigdarovich took him to an apartment, beat him, handcuffed him and threatened to kill him using a fake gun. Vigdarovich came to the apartment and issued P. a series of demands, including ordering him to make sure that H. surrenders custody of her children.
At P.’s request, H. flew to Italy meet him and Vigdarovich in order to discuss the conditions.
After the couple refused his proposal that they remain abroad for a year, Vigdarovich was still able to convince P. to look into a job offer in Uman, Ukraine.
The couple flew there, but when Vigdarovich learned that the job wasn’t going to pan out and they were planning to return, he came up with the plan to plant drugs in their luggage.
“The plot was to plant the drugs so that they would easily discovered during the expected security check at the Boryspil Airport near Kiev, before their return flight to Israel… in order to incriminate them and get them arrested for a long period of time, so they would be unable to return to Israel for many years,” says the indictment.
The plot was carried out with the aid of locals whose identities are unknown to the prosecutors, Chen Bar Shalom and Aviad Dwek.
Vigdarovich was arrested last September.
The indictment states that he gave various false statements under questioning. At one point he signed a state’s witness agreement, promising to obtain recordings and evidence against the people who placed the drugs in H. and P.’s luggage and lead the police to them.
In wake of that agreement, he was released to house arrest, which he took advantage of to “mislead the police detectives and to obstruct the investigation with the intent of… disrupting the investigation, obscuring evidence and avoid having to go to trial for his role in the plot to plant drugs on the couple and get them imprisoned.”
Herpes cases among babies linked to ultra-Orthodox Jewish circumcision ritual
New York health department alerts doctors to infections linked to ancient ritual in which circumcision wound is cleaned by mouth
A baby boy was rushed to hospital when he developed herpes following a controversial ancient circumcision ritual, it has been reported.
The New York health department alerted doctors to the case of a newborn who fell ill after undergoing the ultra-Orthodox Jewish practice in which the circumcision wound is cleaned by mouth.
A rash is said to have spread across the child’s genitals, buttocks, inner thighs and ankle two weeks after the procedure.
There have been six cases of herpes among children who have had the ritual known as metzitzah b’peh performed on them since February 2015, reported the New York Daily News.
The majority of Jewish circumcision ceremonies do not include metzitzah b’peh, in which the mohel, or circumciser, places their mouth directly on the wound to suck away the blood.
An estimated 3,000 babies are circumcised each year using the method in New York City, home to the largest Jewish population outside Israel.
The city’s mayor Bill de Blasio told reporters officials were in the process of identifying the mohel who had performed the procedure and expected “full cooperation from the community”.
Mr de Blasio retracted the requirement for a parental consent form for the practice two years ago in a compromise with ultra-Orthodox leaders who agreed to help identify and isolate any mohels found to be responsible for an infection.
Of the six previously undisclosed cases, two occurred last year and three in 2015.
Since 2000, there have been 24 cases of infant herpes linked to circumcision, leading to two deaths and two cases of brain damage, according to the New York Post.
Herpes, a highly contagious viral disease which can cause blisters and ulcers, is more severe in newborn babies as their immune systems are not fully developed.
DeVos praises Orthodox Jewish group that strongly backs public funding for religious schools
DeVos met with leaders of Agudath Israel of America, which is based in New York and has active branches in more than 25 states, including Texas, Florida, California, Maryland and New Jersey. Its leaders have successfully lobbied for using public taxpayer dollars to subsidize religious schools in several states.
In a statement released Wednesday, March 8, 2017, about the meeting at the Education Department with Agudath Israel leaders, DeVos said:
I applaud Agudath Israel for their leadership and commitment to providing their community with access to educational options that meet the academic and religious needs of their families. Agudath is a terrific partner and advocate for their families, and I welcomed today’s discussion.
I look forward to continuing to work with Agudath Israel of America, the Orthodox Jewish community and all who believe that every child, regardless of where they live or their family’s income, should have an equal opportunity to a quality education.
DeVos and President Trump have made clear that expanding school choice is an education policy priority. The administration is believed to be considering a new federal school-choice program, likely a tax credit scholarship program that would offer individuals and corporations incentives to donate money to help families pay for tuition and other educational needs at private and religious schools. There is now is one federally funded voucher program, in Washington D.C., expected to be expanded by the Trump administration.
Trump has said he wants to spend $20 billion to promote school choice, while DeVos has spent decades advocating for charter schools and voucher/tax credit programs. A billionaire from Michigan, DeVos and her family have spent millions of dollars to support religious schools. In 2015, she said in a speech that traditional public education is “a dead end,” and her critics say that she wants to privatize public education, a departure from any previous U.S. administration.
Last week, Trump and DeVos made their first official joint trip to a school — a Catholic school in Florida. It was the first official school trip for Trump, and the first time a U.S. president had visited a Catholic school since Ronald Reagan visited St. Agatha Catholic School in the Archdiocese of Detroit on Oct. 10, 1984, years after he was elected.
In New York, Agudath Israel has been instrumental in winning state funds for Jewish schools, and has praised Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo, a Democrat, for ensuring that millions of dollars in state funds would be spent for security and other services for these schools. On March 5, Cuomo announced a new “New York-Israel Commission” to strengthen economic and cultural ties between New York and Israel, and among the members is Sol Werdiger, chairman of Agudath Israel.
Although Agudath Israel of America does not ordinarily advocate for Cabinet members, it urged its supporters to lobby the Senate to confirm DeVos, with whom it has worked for years on school-choice issues. When she was nominated as education secretary by then-president-elect Trump, the group put a story on its website saying in part:
Shlomo Werdiger, chairman of Agudath Israel’s board of trustees, expressed his enthusiastic support for Mrs. DeVos’s nomination. “I have had some excellent discussions with Betsy DeVos,” Mr. Werdiger said. “She is intelligent, compassionate and effective. President-elect Trump has chosen wisely.”
The organization supported the Hasidic Jews who took control of the school board in East Ramapo, N.Y., more than a decade ago and were accused by state officials of financial mismanagement that harmed the public schools in the district but helped the private Jewish schools. In 2015, Agudath Israel lobbied against a bill in the state legislature that sought to appoint an overseer for the school board, and despite support for the bill from Cuomo and the chancellor of the New York State Board of Regents, it didn’t pass in the state Senate. In 2016, a compromise bill passed that provided more state money for public schools but did not include a state-appointed board monitor.
The Education Department issued a release Wednesday about the meeting between DeVos and Agudath leaders. Here’s the complete text:
This morning, U.S. Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos met with leaders of Agudath Israel of America about her commitment to supporting all educational opportunities, the importance of IDEA and higher education.
Agudath leaders thanked the Secretary for her leadership and expressed their desire to work closely with her to ensure their schools and community members have access to quality educational opportunities that respect their religion.
After the meeting, Secretary DeVos issued the following statement:
“I applaud Agudath Israel for their leadership and commitment to providing their community with access to educational options that meet the academic and religious needs of their families. Agudath is a terrific partner and advocate for their families, and I welcomed today’s discussion.
“I look forward to continuing to work with Agudath Israel of America, the Orthodox Jewish community and all who believe that every child, regardless of where they live or their family’s income, should have an equal opportunity to a quality education.”
Sol Werdiger, Chairman of the Board of Trustees
Rabbi David Zwiebel, Executive Vice President
Rabbi Abba Cohen, Vice President for Federal Affairs, Washington Director and Counsel
Rabbi A. D. Motzen, National Director of State Relations
And other members of Agudath Israel of America
U.S. Education Secretary Betsy DeVos, who has made school “choice” a policy priority, met on Wednesday with leaders of an Orthodox Jewish group that has been instrumental in pushing voucher programs across the country. She praised their “leadership and commitment” in helping communities secure schools that “meet the academic and religious needs of their families” and said she looks forward to working with them.
A Brooklyn dad claims the borough’s former district attorney Charles Hynes targeted him while cutting a sweetheart deal with a prominent rabbi accused of sexually abusing boys.
Samuel Kellner says in a federal civil rights lawsuit that Hynes falsely charged him with extortion after he led an effort to lock up Baruch Lebovits.
“The ‘investigation’ by Hynes into [Kellner] deviated so egregiously from acceptable law enforcement activity as to demonstrate an intentional or reckless disregard for proper procedures,” reads the lawsuit targeting Hynes and the city.
The sordid saga began in 2008 when Lebovits allegedly molested Kellner’s son.
A prosecutor told Kellner that the district attorney’s office wasn’t going to open an investigation because the alleged offense was a misdemeanor and there were no other known victims, the suit says.
But Kellner, working with a detective, found other boys who were preyed upon by Lebovits.
Hynes’ office launched a probe but Kellner claims the former DA did nothing when Lebovits’ supporters succeeded in convincing one of his victims to drop the case.
“Hynes’ deliberate indifference towards [the boy’s] plight and failure to protect him was part of a policy, custom and practice of deliberate indifference towards witness tampering and intimidation of victims of pedophiles and their families within the ultra-Orthodox community,” says the suit filed in Brooklyn Federal Court.
Lebovits was ultimately convicted in March 2010 of multiple counts of sexual assault and sentenced to serve up to 32 years.
Kellner’s joy was short-lived.
He claims in the suit that Hynes quietly dismissed his son’s case against Lebovits in October 2010.
“The suffering and courage of a victim in coming forward to report his abuse meant nothing to Hynes,” Kellner’s attorney Niall Macgiollabhui wrote in the suit.
Things got worse for Kellner in April 2011 when he was charged with trying to blackmail Lebovits’ wealthy family and paying a man to falsely accuse the rabbi.
Hynes held a news conference trumpeting Kellner’s arrest.
Lebovits was sprung from jail the next day. His conviction was overturned in 2012.
“What is truly shocking is that instead of locking up pedophiles and protecting children, Hynes was instrumental in securing the release of a notorious predator from prison and dismissing the cases of two victims he and his office knew to have been abused,” Macgiollabhui told the Daily News.
“At some point Hynes will have to explain why he conspired in the shadows with the family of a convicted child rapist to undermine the conviction his own office had just secured.”
The criminal charges against Kellner were dropped in March 2014 after a prosecutor re-examining the case found inconsistencies in the accounts of two key witnesses.
Lebovits pleaded guilty to reduced charges in May 2014 and was sentenced to serve another year.
He was released after just 86 days.
Hynes’ lawyer did not return a request for comment.
A spokesman for the city’s Law Department said it will review the complaint.
Kellner filed a defamation suit against the Jewish Daily Forward newspaper in November 2014. That case was settled in January under a confidentiality agreement.