Aryeh Greenes (L) and Aviv Mizrahi. (Courtesy FBI)
The state prosecution on Thursday filed a request with the Jerusalem District Court to allow the extradition of two men accused by the US of participating in a multi-million dollar bank fraud scheme.
Aviv Mizrahi and Aryeh Greenes, both US citizens, have been charged with defrauding California banks for $33 million between 2004-2008.
The FBI has said the two fled to Israel to escape arrest.
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Sexual Abuse, Shonda and Concealment in Orthodox Jewish Communities: Michael Lesher, McFarland & Company, 287 pps. $45.
By STEVE LIPMAN
The disgrace of sexual abusers (nearly entirely men) who identify themselves as Orthodox Jews is a well-known subject, covered extensively in recent decades in the Jewish and general media.
Lesher, an attorney whose specializes in this part of family law, is a longtime community activist on behalf of the victims of sexual abuse. He is an outspoken critic of what he sees as a failing of the Orthodox community he came to as an adult. His book concentrates on one disturbing aspect of the phenomenon – the propensity of Orthodox Judaism’s leaders and rank-and-file members, in the United States and Israel, to defend and support the abusers, at the expense of the victims and the victims’ families.
He writes, as he summarizes in the book’s introduction, about “how influential rabbis and community leaders have sided with the alleged abusers against their victims; how victims and witnesses of sexual abuse have been pressured, even threatened, not to turn to secular law enforcement for help; how autonomous Jewish ‘patrols,’ displacing the role of official police in some large and heavily religious Jewish neighborhoods, have played an inglorious part in the history of cover-ups; … how some Jewish communities have even succeeded in manipulating law enforcement officials to protect suspected abusers.”
This makes for a hard read, a searing indictment of putative religious Jews – from Modern Orthodox Jews to chasidic and the black hat, yeshivish community – who have in effect reintroduced a system of child sacrifice, sacrificing the interests of children (young boys and girls are overwhelmingly the victims of Orthodox Judaism’s sexual abusers) to those of the accused abusers and to the Orthodox community’s perceived image in wider society. According to Lesher, the children and their family members who take steps against abusers are usually regarded as traitors who unfairly harm the lives of the abusers and the abusers’ families; it’s “blame the victim” to an unconscionable degree.
Lesher painstakingly documents case after case of a communal mentality of Shah! What will the goyim think? It’s a mentality that bullies and ostracizes and often silences the victims who dare bring the crimes of Orthodox Jews to the secular criminal justice system and to any type of media. He writes of the indifference and hostility that the victims encounter. He covers the familiar territory of a corrupt beit din (rabbinic court) system and cites the self-serving misuse of Jewish law and of Jewish history to justify Orthodox Jews turning their backs on the victims. He describes, in the words of one chapter’s title, a “culture of denial,” an Orthodox community in which accusations against victims have become orthodox behavior.
Lesher names names – among them, the revered leaders of the Orthodox community – who, he claims, almost without exception help foster a cover-up of sexual abuse committed by ostensibly Orthodox Jews.
“’Cover-up’ is the only appropriate name for the deliberate evasion of a highly topical reality,” he writes. “I must add, sadly, that few in Orthodoxy have broken this code of silence.”
To read the remainder of the article, click here.
“There’s a huge gap between what the ultra-Orthodox establishment is doing and what the people want,” said Michal Zernowitski, who is seeking Labor Party backing to run for Parliament.CreditCreditCorinna Kern for The New York Times
TEL AVIV — It is primary season in Israel, and the creaky Labor Party, hemorrhaging support and desperate to project energy and vitality, has invited its 44 candidates for Parliament to a college campus for a night billed as speed dating with hundreds of voters.
At the front of a classroom sit an array of typical center-left candidates — a longtime incumbent, a well-known journalist, a leader of the Druze minority — and one who is like no candidate ever seen at this kind of gathering: an ultra-Orthodox woman.
The woman, Michal Zernowitski, grew up in a religious party that does not allow female candidates. The political parties supported by most of her neighbors in Elad, a bastion of ultra-Orthodoxy, belong to the right-wing governing coalition that she abhors.
Ms. Zernowitski, 38, has chosen a different path. It is hard to imagine a more arduous one. And yet she seems to relish the steep uphill climb.
Again and again, as the audiences move from room to room, Ms. Zernowitski waits her turn, smiles, stands and delivers a five-minute stump speech that turns heads and opens minds.
She rails against the state-funded but privately run ultra-Orthodox, or Haredi, education system, where, she says, “your background” and “who you know” determine “who gets into the good schools.” She recounts how she became a trailblazer as an ultrareligious woman in high-tech, but laments how her children are stuck “in the same place I was before.”
She blasts the Haredi parties, which she says are a half-century behind the times on women’s rights, gay rights and many other issues, and the right-wing government over which those parties hold outsize sway, because she says it ignores problems affecting Haredi communities for fear of antagonizing its coalition partners.
And she explains, like an emissary from another planet, to urban hipsters who may never have talked with their black hat- or wig-wearing neighbors, that a “revolution” is underway among the ultra-Orthodox: The “new Haredim,” as she calls them — younger, worldlier people who use smartphones and commute to diverse workplaces in the big cities — are hungry for change, dying to engage with and be embraced by broader Israeli society, and ready like never before to break ranks at the ballot box.
“There’s a huge gap between what the ultra-Orthodox establishment is doing and what the people want,” Ms. Zernowitski says.
A man rises with a question for all five candidates: How can we bring more people with skullcaps into Labor? He means: Is there a way we can bring more of the Orthodox into such a heavily secular party, given that religious observance generally goes hand-in-hand with right-wing beliefs?
But a woman sitting nearby jumps in: “If Labor wants to change its image,” she says, “it’s Michal.”
At the very top, Israeli politics is consumed with the fate of Benjamin Netanyahu, the embattled prime minister, in April’s elections. But at the local level, the identity politics that divides Israelis in myriad ways — Arab and Jewish; Ashkenazi and Mizrachi; pro- and anti-settlement; secular and religious; left, right and center, and so on — has been producing unexpected results, nowhere more so than among the Jewish religious right.
In Beit Shemesh, a fast-growing ultra-Orthodox center, thousands ignored their rabbis’ orders and helped elect a woman mayor in October. In Bnei Brak, where Ms. Zernowitski was raised, Mr. Netanyahu’s Likud party won two seats, a signal achievement on a city council long dominated by Haredi parties. And in Telzstone, a tiny Haredi enclave on the outskirts of Jerusalem, an upstart who took on the rabbis’ anointed candidate in a special mayoral election last month earned 40 percent of the vote — a seismic shift, despite falling short, for a population that has long exerted power by voting in lock step.
The overwhelming majority of ultra-Orthodox still identify with right-wing policies, experts say. But those who do not are making their presence felt: In April’s elections, Adina Bar-Shalom, the daughter of the founder of one of the main Haredi parties, is running for Parliament on a social-justice platform and is widely expected to join a centrist ticket.
Ms. Zernowitski — who in keeping with modesty strictures wears a wig, but one so subtle it is impossible to notice — sees herself as embodying the generational yearnings of ultra-Orthodox voters who, unlike forebears who saw the land of Israel as holy but were uncertain about the state, want to feel more fully a part of the country in which they are citizens. “They’re trying to integrate into Israel and leave their ghettos,” she said.
As an advocate for women, too, she has an added motivation to break out of the confines of the Haredi world. After she finished a radio interview recently, she said, the station brought on a sitting Haredi lawmaker who said that women did not belong in politics just as they did not belong working at a garbage dump, “because politics is garbage.”
Actually getting elected, however, would require something approaching a miracle: Ms. Zernowitski’s chosen party, Labor, is in a shambles. Some polls show it winning just seven seats in the Knesset, down from 18 in the current government; one new poll suggested it might not win any seats at all. The primaries will therefore be a blood bath; any newcomer would be lucky to earn a winnable spot on the party’s ranked list among the returning incumbents, and many are battling for the chance.
So Ms. Zernowitski talks up the “tens of thousands, maybe hundreds of thousands” of modern Haredi voters she says are waiting for a candidate like her — and begs Labor voters to take a leap of faith. “I believe that if you open the door, these people will come and vote,” she says.
The experts say she is unlikely to test that premise.
“She has no chance,” declared Gilad Malach, an expert on the ultra-Orthodox at the Israel Democracy Institute. But he said Ms. Zernowitski, if ahead of the curve, was nonetheless onto something: The Haredi parties are calcified and vulnerable to breakaway voters, he said.
“On the day that an ultra-Orthodox representative will be successful outside the classic political parties,” he said, “there’s a chance more people will choose that party because it works.”
At a Labor candidates’ night in Jerusalem, Ms. Zernowitski addressed a roomful of activists and retirees who snapped up her brochures. Afterward, Izzy Almog, 81, holding his cane, smiled up at her from his seat.
“Don’t be offended, but I don’t know what your chances are,” he said. “But you’re a long-term investment.”
Continue reading the New York Times article here.
Israeli Justice Minister Ayelet Shaked is seen at the podium as she gives a statement at the Knesset in Jerusalem on November 19, 2018 (Photo by: THOMAS COEX/AFP/Getty Images)
Israel’s Justice Minister Ayelet Shaked is facing calls to resign as Israeli politicians accuse her of complicity in a sex scandal that has rocked the country’s judiciary.
Shaked yesterday hit back at accusations that she bore responsibility for the scandal, in which the head of the Israel Bar Association, Efraim (Efi) Nave, allegedly helped appoint a female judge in return for sexual favours.
Nave is thought to be a powerful ally of Shaked’s within the judicial system, with both sitting on Israel’s Judicial Appointments Committee which assigns judges to the Israeli courts. Shaked’s political opponents are now claiming she allowed Nave to allegedly abuse his power under her watch in order to promote her own political interests.
Shaked yesterday hit back at this criticism, labelling it “an unbridled, false and inflammatory attack,” the Times of Israel (ToI) reported. The Israeli daily added that Shaked took “particular issue with female ‘left-wing Knesset members’,” telling a Bar Association seminar that “we have our political differences, but I considered them colleagues. They are all women, and that is my disappointment”.
Shaked was likely referring to criticism levelled against her by Shelly Yachimovich, who earlier this week slammed the justice minister for her alleged involvement in the affair. Yachimovich – who replaced Tzipi Livni as leader of the opposition following the latter’s unceremonious dismissal earlier this month – said in a statement on Wednesday: “[The] judicial selection committee operated under terror and corruption, under the destructive leadership of Justice Minister Shaked, and the rotten environment and broken alliances that created it are the ground for the horrific affair being exposed today.”
The scandal in which Shaked is implicated has shaken the Israel judicial system since details first emerged on Wednesday. Nave was arrested by the Israel Police on suspicion of offering promotions in exchange for sexual favours, as part of an investigation which saw his home and the Israel Bar Association offices in Jerusalem raided, Haaretz reported. The police seized documents and computer files during the raid. Nave has been released to house arrest for eight days pending further investigation.
Nave is suspected of appointing a female judge to an Israeli magistrates’ court in return for illicit acts. According to the Times of Israel, he is also “suspected of having sexual relations with the wife of another judge, for the purpose of helping her husband advance from a magistrate’s court to a district court position”.
Though the incidents are thought to have taken place several years ago, the Lahav 433 anti-fraud unit of the Israel Police only opened the probe two weeks ago, after Israel Army Radio journalist Hadas Shteif provided information to the police about the case. Additional details continue to emerge, with the investigation initially placed under gag order by Israel’s censor.
Israel’s Attorney General Avichai Mandelblit has disqualified himself from dealing with the case “given his friendship with the main suspect”. Instead the case will be overseen by State Attorney Shai Nitzan, who ToI explains personally authorised Nave’s arrest.
The political ramifications of the scandal are yet to play out, though the revelations could be damaging to Shaked’s newly-formed New Right (Hayemin Hehadash) party. Shaked, along with Education Minister Naftali Bennett, broke away from the Jewish Home party in a bid to head into Israel’s upcoming general election with a clean slate, distancing themselves from what the religious-Zionist camp and hoping to steal seats from the ruling Likud party.
Other Knesset members (MKs) however blamed Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu for fostering an environment marred by corruption. Revital Swed, of the Israel Labor party, said: “The new affair highlights the four-year campaign of destruction, in which the prime minister and the justice minister abused the judicial system, politicizing it. When this is the norm, it is no wonder that the committee for the appointment of judges is also desecrated.”
Swed was of course referring to the numerous corruption cases levied against Netanyahu. The prime minister is under investigation in three separate probes –dubbed Case 1000, Case 2000and Case 4000 respectively – and has repeatedly attacked the police and judicial system, claiming they are biased against him.
Lori Shem-Tov and the Effi Naveh Arrest
We have been following the Shem-Tov case closely because as anonymous bloggers, we would like to believe that our identities are protected. Lori’s case proves that anonymity may not always be as safe as we would like to think. It further proves the lengths to which those who are scrutinized will go to gain and retain silence.
We have published the majority of the following article related to a judicial sexual scandal (which was the partial basis for the Shem-Tov case) absent permission of the author. Our publication should not be assumed to indicate any support of our blog by that blogger or any endorsement of that blog by us. We ask that you revert back to the original source for further reading.
For ease of reference, we have highlighted in red the pertinent parts of the Sex Scandal as it relates to the Shem-Tov case. It should be understood that Lori has been held in jail in Israel, or under some form of arrest absent a formal trial on charges of what is called “scandalizing the courts”. Her information was obtained by the authorities in Israel from WordPress through international channels on the grounds that she was a so-called web terrorist. These are serious charges and allegations.
Considering the integrity of the judges she was criticizing, one should be asking at this juncture whether or not it might be time to drop the charges. Justices in any country are the law of the land. They are the ultimate arbiters of democracy and the democratic process. If they cannot be trusted, who then, as a society can we trust.
Judicial sex scandal in Israel turns into wave of arrests. Head of Israeli Bar arrested
Following two weeks of rumours after the head of Police Lahav 433 went to Netanya and asked for a gag order of a sensitive pot[sic] involving the Judiciary, this morning January 16 2019, started with arrests, seizures and interrogations of the main suspects. It turns out Telem Yahav, head of Lahav 433, leaked his visit to Netanya as a dragnet ploy to catch Netanya Judge Etti Krieff off guard.
The police leaked that they avoided filing the gag order in Rishon LeZion so as not to disclose the investigation into a judge who is close friends with Effi Naveh – head of the Israel Bar. It is now revealed that Judge Etti Krieff was the real suspect for offering sexual pleasures to Effi Naveh in exchange for her promotion from her position as a policewoman to that of a Judge. Krieff fell into the trap and talked on the phone, whilst the police were listening.
Apparently District Court Judge Eitan Orenshtein signed the wiretap order. Once deciphered, this morning Effi Naveh was arrested, the entire possessions of his house loaded onto trucks as evidence. Naveh’s relatives announced that he is temporarily suspending his position as head of the Bar. This afternoon he will be brought before a judge, probably Judge Allah Masrawa of the Tel Aviv Ha Shalom Court.
Also raided were the main offices of the Israel Bar in central Tel Aviv. Naveh’s law office is situated directly across from the Prosecution offices. The District Attorney in Tel Aviv has not yet been raided.
Also called for interrogation this morning was Susie Ozsinay Aranya, an attorney married to Judge Rafi Aranya in Rishon LeZion. Susie Aranya is the daughter of a billionaire Turkish Industrialist, who is now running in the primaries at the Likud Party which is financed by her dad. Susie may not have been surprised about her impending call from the police, since rumours about her were published by Richard Silverstein from California. Silverstein wrote that Susie offered sexual services to Effi Naveh, in return for promoting Judge Aranya to the Tel Aviv District Court.
Incidentally, the blogger Lory Shem Tov, arrested in February 2017, still imprisoned, was charged with sexually molesting Susie and Rafi Aranya for reporting in a blog 3 years ago that Mrs Aranya was in sexual cahoots with E.xxx (referring to Effi) to promote her husband. Now it appears she was correct.
Before her arrest, Shem Tov was in touch with Barak Lazer, legal Advisor of the Court Administration, who leaked to her confidential information. The police obtained a search warrant for Lazer’s phone and computer where they found evidence of nefarious contacts with Naveh, Aranya and other judges such as Yosef Elron, Einat Ron, Shelly Rozman Farkash, Iris Arbel Asal, and others. This treasure trove served as the basis for collecting the data at the police.
All this would have stayed permanently dormant but for an interview at Uvda TV news show with Ilana Dyan where Effi Naveh bragged about his powers with Ayelet Shaked, Minister of Justice, and blamed Shai Nitzan, Shaked’s nemesis, for personally chasing hi, and ordering his indictment for border control skipping with his new lover, Ms. Bar Katz.
To Continue reading click here.
Lori Shem-Tov, Judicial Actions, WordPress and Subpoenas
We have partially reposted the following article absent the permission of the author. Should the author of this article ask that we take down what we have posted, we will do so. Our posting should not be deemed an endorsement of the positions on the “Website Planet” blog nor should it be taken as an endorsement of our blog by those behind Website Planet. To read the article in its entirety, click here.
Our interest in the article is as it applies the Lori Shem-Tov case. She is a blogger, currently jailed absent trial over what is being deemed to be crimes against the State. Her information was obtained from WordPress through international channels on the grounds that she was an internet terrorist. Ultimately she is questioning the integrity of the judiciary system in Israel. If we cannot trust our judges to the highest levels of judicial conduct, we are all really quite doomed.
This blog knows that firsthand.
Israel Police Prods WordPress.com Compliance Using Fake Blog & False Subpoena
[Published January 30, 2019]
TL;DR: Israeli police obtained a subpoena, based on intentionally false information, with the judge’s knowledge, for the identity of a WordPress.com blog owner, which was, in fact, the police itself, to uncover how Automattic, WordPress.com’s owner, handles such orders, and whether it informs bloggers of subpoenas relating to them.
Machzor1986 (Hebrew for “Class 1986”) is a blog on WordPress.com, Automattic‘s blog hosting platform. It contains all of three posts, one showing a photo of a man and a woman in what seems to be a club, one with a stock photo of a girl looking up, basking in the sun, and a third with a broken image. There’re no headlines or text. The stock girl elicited one one-word comment, the Hebrew word for “cool”, posted by the blog owner. All posts and the comment are timestamped Dec 2015. Just another boring blog on WordPress, and a defunct one at this. But there’s actually a really interesting story behind it, published today by Haartez’s Revital Hovel. (Hebrew version available here.)
In early 2017, Israeli police arrested six suspects in what has been named the Web Terror Affair, suspected among other things of running a network of blogs, some of them on WordPress.com, defaming judges, social workers, prosecutors, cops and physicians, for their alleged part in removing children from their parents’ custody.
Court documents relating to one of the suspects, Lori Shem-Tov, revealed that before contacting Automattic for the suspects’ identities and information, police wanted to make sure such a request wouldn’t prematurely reveal their investigation to the suspects. So they plotted a scheme: They would set up a blog on WordPress.com, then subpoena the fake blogger’s identity claiming he’d violating Israeli law, and wait to see if Automattic notified the fake blogger about the subpoena.
To do that, the police would have to either actually break the law on the blog, lie to a judge, or convince a judge to play along and knowingly issue a subpoena based on false information. They went with the latter, probably assuming it’s safer to have a judge on their side.
Their request, submitted by Advanced Staff Sergeant Major Elli Lurie, said (in Hebrew) that “Since it’s a delicate subject and a work interface with WORDPRESS.COM hasn’t been established yet, we don’t have an indication whether our requests to them reach the woman who runs the requested sites. To check this we opened a site on WORDPRESS.COM called machzor1986.wordpress.com. We’re asking for a subpoena for this site for the aforementioned indication”. Ironically, it was important for Lurie to make it clear that the police wasn’t breaking the law – the privacy law, anyway: “We hereby declare that this site is under our control meaning that receiving information about it doesn’t constitute any kind of privacy invasion”.
The next day, Sergeant Major Hanny Giladi appeared before Tel Aviv Magistrate’s Judge Ronit Poznanski-Katz, declaring under oath that the petition was true. Judge Poznanski-Katz issued the subpoena, in English, requiring “Wordpress.com” (and not Automattic, the company that runs it), to produce for Israel Police “All information regarding website: machzor1986.wordpress.com[;] IP addresses that created this website[;] IP addresses that accessed this from the date that is created to the present day. Including Phone No. and email address […] immediately upon the receipt of the order” (all mistakes sic).
Judge Poznanski-Katz went on to flat out lie: “I hereby rule that the petition is confirmed for the following reasons: form the evidences in the police file no. 311470/15 there is a reasonable impression to the violation by a suspect whose details are requested from WordPress.com Company”. The court documents include a print-out of a post no longer available on machzor1986.wordpress.com, containing a photo of a woman raising her hands and the text (in Hebrew) “Dror testing”. Very subtle, Israel Police
A complaint, filed with Chief Justice Esther Hayut three years later by the Association for Civil Rights in Israel (ACRI), originated in a complaint filed by suspect Shem-Tov against Judge Poznanski-Katz, when the latter successfully petitioned the High Court of Justice to reverse her dismissal following another embroilment.
To read keep reading click here.