Tag Archives: Israel

Sean Spicer Apologizes For Holocaust Remarks

“It was a mistake,” the White House press secretary said.

White House press secretary Sean Spicer apologized Tuesday for his remarks on the Holocaust, telling CNN’s Wolf Blitzer that his comments during a White House press briefing were a “mistake.”

Discussing the use of chemical weapons by Syrian President Bashar Assad’s regime on Tuesday, Spicer argued that Adolf Hitler “didn’t even sink to using chemical weapons.” (That is false: The Nazis, under Hitler’s leadership, gassed millions of Jewish people in concentration camps.)

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3 Famous Billionaire Drug Kingpins and the Art They Adored

joaquin-el-chapo-guzman

In the wake of the daring prison escape pulled off on July 11 by notorious Mexican drug lord Joaquin Guzmán, aka “El Chapo” (shorty), artnet News looked into how big a role art has played in his illicit activities and money laundering.

Continue reading 3 Famous Billionaire Drug Kingpins and the Art They Adored

Israel’s Mossad takes hunt for foreign spies and informants online

JERUSALEM: It is already common for intelligence agencies to recruit their officers online, but Israel’s Mossad has gone one further by touting for local agents and informants too. 

Israel, which has full diplomatic ties with only two Arab countries, Egypt and Jordan, lacks embassies elsewhere in the Middle East that would-be informants could turn to, leaving it in need of other local recruitment channels.

“All are welcome, regardless of religion, nationality or occupation, to contact our organisation — Mossad — to work for us or to be involved in activities which could bring great personal benefit,” reads the new “Contact us” section of the Mossad website, also available in Arabic, Farsi, French or Russian.

“Rest assured that total discretion and confidentiality is of the utmost priority and is the basis of our connection.”

Even in Egypt and Jordan, Israel’s embassies are under heavy scrutiny and, apparently heeding the risk that online offers of information or help may also be far from secure, Mossad adds:

“We suggest you consider whether the computer you are using and your location is secure enough. It would be safer to fill in the form using means that are not directly connected to you.”

The glossy Mossad website went up a decade ago to boost recruitment for officers and analysts amid increasingly fierce competition from Israel’s booming private high-tech sector. In one promotional video, a couple are shown racing from shadowy spy missions to family time at home.

Gad Shimron, a former Mossad field officer who now writes on intelligence and military affairs, said the new approach “seems to be an effort by the Mossad to attract the maximum number of interested parties”. 

“If some of them prove to be valuable sources of information or help, even if 90% get written off as useless, that could still be worthwhile.” — Reuters

Israel: Eid al-Adha and Yom Kippur Clashes in Jerusalem Feared

Inside Israel’s Tourism Industry – Jerusalem

Israel is on high alert over fears of possible violent clashes as two of the most important holidays in the Jewish and Muslim religions overlap for the first time in 30 years.

Yom Kippur and Eid al-Adha will be celebrated by Muslims and Jews around the world this weekend. But Israeli police are preparing for sectarian violence by closing off roads and reinforcing security contingents in the region’s major cities, which are fraught with religious tension.

Police spokeswoman Luba Samri said extra police had been deployed across Israel, particularly in the cities with significant Muslim minorities: Jerusalem, Jaffa, Haifa and Acre.

The military has also closed off access from Israel to the West Bank and the Gaza Strip, which is a common practice during major Jewish holidays.

The meaning behind the holidays

Eid al-Adha animal sacrifice

A Yemeni man carries a goat at a livestock market in the capital Sanaa on 2 October ahead of Eid al-Adha(Getty)

Yom Kippur is Judaism’s Day of Atonement during which Jews ask God to forgive them for their transgressions and refrain for eating and drinking, instead attending intense prayer services in synagogues.

The holiday, which is the holiest day of the year for Jewish people, is a 25-hour period and will begin at sunset on Friday 3 October.

Businesses and airports shut down and TV and radio stations go silent. Highways will be largely empty of cars as Jewish people refrain from driving (as is typical on the weeklyShabbas). The annual holy day leaves much of Israel’s roads clear for secular Israelis to travel and cycle on the empty streets.

Eid al-Adha is the second most important holiday in the Muslim calendar. It last for three days and starts on Saturday 4 October and is an occasion for family celebrations and outings to celebrate the willingness of the prophet Ibrahim (or Abrahim as he is known in the Bible) to sacrifice his son in accordance with God’s will.

On the start of Eid, Muslims slaughter sheep, cattle and other livestock and give part of the meat to the poor.

The holidays coincide once every 33 years. However, due to the quirks of the Jewish leap year and the fact that the faiths use different lunar calendars, it will also occur again in 2015.

The Gaza problem

Tensions are high between Arab Muslims and Jews after the 50-day war in Gaza this summer and near-constant rioting in east Jerusalem, which has a large Muslim population.

The confluence of the two holidays has leaders of both states concerned that any interaction between Muslim and Jewish groups during Saturday’s celebrations could quickly degenerate into widespread violence, as seen in 2008.

A Palestinian prepares to throw fire crackers during clashes with Israeli police in the East Jerusalem neighbourhood of Wadi al-Joz September 8, 2014.

East Jerusalem neighbourhood of Wadi al-Joz expected to be a hot spot of tension as the religious holidays clash(Reuters)

Acre in Israel saw widespread rioting on Yom Kippur in 2008 when an Arab resident drove through an observant Jewish neighbourhood playing loud music.

Following an agreement between Muslim and local officials, the old city of Acre had been closed to all traffic and small electric cars (that would make less noise that engines during the Jewish holy day) were provided to those wishing to go to the mosque and pray.

A clash of customs

Each religion’s different customs could also lead to increased tensions this weekend. Rabbi Michael Malchior told Times of Israel:

“The way that Jews celebrate Yom Kippur is very internal… We go into our homes and into our synagogues, it’s not a day of external celebrations.

We’ve had bad riots here in Jerusalem over the past couple of months and a terrible war this summer. There’s been a lot of bloodshed and a lot of bad feelings.– Rabbi Michael Malchior

“This is the exact opposite of Eid al-Adha. They visit each other, they travel to visit family and friends, they have a custom of going to visit grave yards, they play music. So if you don’t know that it’s a festival, some Jews might assume that the Muslim celebration is a provocation or something, which of course is not intended in any way.”

Over the past seven weeks, leaders from both communities have been working to combat this lack of knowledge.

The Chief Rabbis of Israel put out a statement to encourage Jews to be respectful of their Muslim neighbours’ customs. The Education Ministry sent a similar letter to all students explaining the holiday.

Neighbourhood rabbis of cities with mixed Muslim-Jewish populations have also appealed to their congregations for calm.

Melchior said: “This year, especially, it’s happening on such a gloomy background.

“We’ve had bad riots here in Jerusalem over the past couple of months and a terrible war this summer. There’s been a lot of bloodshed and a lot of bad feelings. I would like to take this to a place of tikkun, of healing. Maybe this is a sign that we will be going to a better place.”

End of Gaza war doesn’t translate into peace

Palestinians sit outside their house that witnesses said was heavily shelled by Israel during the offensive, in the Shejaia neighbourhood, east of Gaza City August 31, 2014. REUTERS/Suhaib Salem
Palestinians sit outside their house that witnesses said was heavily shelled by Israel during the offensive, in the Shejaia neighbourhood, east of Gaza City August 31, 2014.

(Reuters) – A week after the guns fell silent in the Gaza war, Israel and the Palestinians seem to have little appetite or incentive for a return to U.S.-sponsored peace and statehood talks that collapsed five months ago.

With conflicts raging in Ukraine, Iraq and Syria – and the future of the Gaza Strip largely uncharted by a broadbrush Egyptian-mediated ceasefire deal – world powers also are not rushing headlong into the Israeli-Palestinian stalemate.

The parties themselves, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s bickering governing coalition and Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas, are on a collision course over threatened Palestinian unilateral moves toward statehood and exploration of war crimes prosecution against Israel in the absence of direct talks.

Israel drew Palestinian and international criticism on Sunday by announcing a major appropriation of occupied land in the West Bank, the most significant such move in 30 years.

As head of a governing coalition divided over trading territory for peace, Netanyahu is now speaking, in amorphous terms, of an alternative route towards ending decades of conflict – a “new horizon” – or possible regional alliance with moderate Arab countries alarmed, like Israel, by radical Islam.

Closer to home and with the Gaza situation still in flux, there is nothing on the immediate horizon as far as peacemaking with Abbas is concerned, Israeli government sources said.

Under the Egyptian-brokered truce agreement, Israel and the Palestinians agreed to address complex issues such as Hamas’s demands for a Gaza seaport and the release of Palestinian prisoners via indirect talks starting within a month.

With the start of those negotiations still up in the air, Netanyahu wants to see whether Abbas takes over responsibility from Hamas for administering Gaza’s borders and that measures are taken to prevent the group from smuggling in weaponry.

Netanyahu, who appears to be weathering an approval rating plunge after the Gaza war ended without a clear victor, took a swipe at Abbas last week, summing up a conflict which the Palestinian leader persistently tried to bring to an end.

“Abu Mazen has to choose which side he is on,” Netanyahu told a news conference, using Abbas’s nickname.

The comment harked back to Israel’s decision in April to cut off peace talks with Abbas after he clinched a unity deal with Hamas, a bitter rival that had seized the Gaza Strip from his Fatah forces in 2007.

Those negotiations, on creating a Palestinian state in the occupied West Bank and in the Gaza Strip, were already going nowhere, with Palestinians pointing to expanding Israeli settlement on land they claim as their own and balking at Israel’s demand to recognize it as the Jewish homeland.

REGIONAL PEACE

In an editorial laden with scepticism, Israel’s liberal Haaretz newspaper questioned whether “as in the past” Netanyahu’s remarks on casting a regional peace net, “are only empty slogans”.

Some of his cabinet ministers are also pressing Netanyahu to get moving on a wider track.

“We cannot and will not allow a situation whereby this ceasefire is the beginning of the countdown to the next round of fire. If we don’t take the diplomatic initiative, this is exactly what will happen,” Finance Minister Yair Lapid said.

Justice Minister Tzipi Livni, Israel’s chief negotiator in now-dormant talks with the Palestinians, said: “(Netanyahu) has to be put to the test on this.”

Livni, speaking on Israel Radio, said Israel should “create a front with Egypt, Jordan and Saudi Arabia – those countries threatened by all of those beheaders running around the region”.

But, she said, “they can cooperate with us only if there is a basic minimum of a peace process – dialogue with the moderate elements in the Palestinian Authority”.

In the past, Netanyahu has expressed little interest in embracing a regional peace plan, such as the 2002 Arab initiative that offered normalized ties with Israel if it withdrew fully from territory captured in a 1967 war.

But last year, he signaled in a speech to parliament a readiness to consider the proposal, raised at an Arab League summit 12 years ago, as long as it did not contain “edicts”.

Any land-for-peace moves would elicit even more dissent from right-wingers in his government who have been vocal over Netanyahu’s reluctance to heed their calls during the Gaza war for a full-scale invasion to crush Hamas.

For now, he appears to be in little danger of seeing his political partnerships unravel.

About a month into the war, 77 percent of Israelis surveyed in a Haaretz-Dialog poll described Netanyahu’s performance during the conflict as either good or excellent. That figure dropped to around 50 percent after the ceasefire was announced.

But the snap poll taken a day after the truce went into effect showed that despite his flagging popularity, he continued to top, by a wide margin, the list of politicians whom Israelis believed were most suited to lead them as prime minister.

The second-place pick was “Don’t know”.

A guide to the world’s biggest drug cartels

Mexico Drugs Cartels 2012

The Sinaloa cartel, Mexico

The biggest gang in Mexico right now is the Sinaloa, whose leader, Joaquín Guzmán Loera, known as “El Chapo” or “Shorty”, is considered the most powerful drug lord in the world, perhaps ever. The Sinaloas smuggle cocaine, marijuana, methamphetamine and heroin by land or through tunnels into the US, often via Arizona.

Yamaguchi-gumi, Japan

The largest of Japan’s Yakuza groups, the Yamaguchi has its base and origins in Kobe, but works on a global scale. With a membership running into tens of thousands, they deal in drugs, weapons, gambling, extortion rackets and prostitution.

Solntsevskaya Bratva, Russia

The term “Russian Mafia” describes a range of criminal bratvas, or brotherhoods, the largest of which is from Solntsevo district on the southern outskirts of Moscow. The group is known to have links to Semion MogilevichEurope‘s and perhaps the world’s, most powerful criminal.

The ‘Ndrangheta, Italy

The ‘Ndrangheta from Calabria has now eclipsed the nearby Sicilian Cosa Nostra and the Neapolitan Camorra syndicates to become one of the biggest drug gangs in the world. Its annual income from cocaine importation and other businesses is estimated in the tens of billions of dollars.

Abergil family, Israel

The imprisonment last year of brothers Itzhak and Meir Abergil has done little to curtail the activities of the huge organisation they led. IThe Abergils have been one of the world’s largest exporters of ecstasy, into the US and elsewhere, and prolific in gambling and embezzlement too.

via Guardian

A Former Mossad Agent Just Revealed The Last Words Of Nazi War Criminal Adolf Eichmann

Adolph Eichmann on trial holocaust nazis wwII

The last words of Nazi war criminal Adolf Eichmann before he was hanged by Israel for war crimes, crimes against humanity, and crimes against the Jewish people, were “I hope that all of you will follow me,” the Israeli intelligence officer who accompanied him to the gallows said.

Rafi Eitan, who had commanded the operation to capture Eichmann in Argentina in 1960, told an Israeli TV documentary broadcast on Monday night that he was standing behind Eichmann at the gallows, at Ramle jail in 1962. “I accompanied him to the hanging. I saw him from the back. I did not speak with him at that moment,” Eitan said.

Did Eichmann say anything? the interviewer asked. “What he said was, ‘I hope that all of you will follow me,'” Eitan said.

That was what he mumbled before he was hanged? the interviewer asked. “Correct,” Eitan said.

Eichmann’s last words have generally been reported as having been: “Long live Germany. Long live Argentina. Long live Austria. These are the three countries with which I have been most connected and which I will not forget. I greet my wife, my family, and my friends. I am ready. We’ll meet again soon, as is the fate of all men. I die believing in God.”

Eitan, speaking on the Uvda investigative news program on Israel’s Channel 2, described the task of capturing Eichmann in Argentina, operationally speaking, as “one of the easiest missions we did.”

He described the physical maneuver performed on Eichmann to twist him quickly into the back seat of the car in which he was taken to a Mossad safe house after being captured in Buenos Aires, and recalled the Nazi’s head resting on his knees in the silent car.

In the safe house, they stripped him naked, blinded his eyes, and checked to make sure he was not carrying poison on his body or in his mouth.

The Shin Bet interrogations officer assigned to the team, Zvi Aharoni, asked Eichmann once for his name, Eitan recalled, and was told Otto Henninger. He asked a second time and was told Ricardo Klement.

The native German speaker then asked Eichmann for his SS number and was given the precise ID number. Then, Eitan said, Aharoni asked for his name again and he said, Adolf Eichmann. “Immediately afterward he says, ‘May I have a glass of red wine,'” Eitan recalled.

Charged with washing and feeding Eichmann, Eitan said he found himself curious about the man’s capabilities and whether he was superior to him. “I found that I was his better,” Eitan said, noting that Eichmann was loyal to his new masters, adhering to all of the Israelis’ orders. “That would not have happened to me. If I was in his situation, that would not have happened to me.”

Rafi EitanYonathan Weitzman/REUTERSIsraeli Pensioners Party leader Rafi Eitan, 79, at a gathering of new parliament members at the Knesset in Jerusalem on April 6, 2006.

The TV program provided a look into the interior world of Eitan, formerly one of Israel’s top spy masters — an unrepentant man who deemed regret a “non-practical word” for which he, even at age 88, has no use.

Eitan, in a blue dress shirt and black Adidas sneakers, spoke of the first time he was asked to take a life for his country, in the mid-1940s. His officer chose him and another man to lay an ambush for the German – often pro-Nazi – Templers, who remained in pre-state Israel and to kill some of them to deter their co-coreligionists from returning to Palestine after the Second World War.

Eitan, then 19, found the appropriate spot, stopped the carriage near the Jezreel Valley town of Alonei Abba, and quickly and randomly shot two men.

He said he remembered their faces well but neither now nor then felt any need to learn their names. “We did not feel any feeling of guilt,” he said. “On the contrary, we felt we were doing our duty as sons of the Jewish People.”

Eitan also revealed that he turned his back on US spy-for-Israel Jonathan Pollard, giving the order to bar Pollard from the Israeli Embassy in Washington, D.C., in 1985 as Pollard attempted to enter and gain asylum.

For all intents and purposes, he further divulged that former Prime Minister Shimon Peres and defense minister Yitzhak Rabin were well aware of the fact that Israel was running an agent within the US armed forces.

Asked whether the two Israeli leaders were aware of the spy’s actions prior to his capture, he said, after some deliberation, “of course.”

Pollard, a civilian intelligence analyst for the US Navy, passed reams of classified material to Israel from the summer of 1984 until November 1985. He has been serving a life sentence in US federal prison since 1987 and will be eligible for parole in November 2015.

Described by his wife Miriam as “destructively emotionally detached,” Eitan said in the TV interview that he felt no regret at the way the Pollard affair played out. Although it was he who gave the order “to throw him out” of the Israeli embassy on Nov. 21, 1985, he said that he made his decision “in accordance with the interests of the state of Israel” and that anyone “who is in a role such as mine and decides otherwise, is mistaken.”

pollardWikimedia CommonsJonathan Pollard in a photo dated April 10, 2011.

He further alleged that Pollard had an escape plan that he failed to execute — a suspect claim, because the American US Navy analyst was under tight surveillance — and that “the moment he decided to come to the embassy as he decided to come, he decided on his own that he was going to prison.”

That night he went to Peres and Rabin and told them that Pollard had been arrested.

Pressed to express regret or to admit to a guilty conscience, Eitan told the interviewer Ben Shani, “look for that on other people. I’m built differently.”

Pollard was recruited by an up-and-coming Israel Air Force officer, Col. Aviem Sella, and run by Eitan.

He described the crucial moment when he learned that Pollard had fled to the embassy, bringing his FBI tail to the gate.

A call from the embassy’s encoded phone explained the predicament to Eitan. “What do you say to yourself then?” the interviewer asked Eitan.

“I don’t say anything [to myself],” he recalled. “I said right away: throw him out.”

According to the documentary, Eitan knew about Pollard’s impending arrest three days before it occurred, and informed the prime minister and defense minister that Pollard would soon be detained.

Peres, a 2012 recipient of the Medal of Freedom, the US’ highest civic award, is portrayed in Michael Bar-Zohar’s authorized biography as being “stricken by shock” upon Pollard’s capture, leaving the reader uncertain as to whether the cause for surprise was the capture or the espionage.

Visibly bemused, Eitan recalled in the TV interview: “I said in advance, I take all of the responsibility on me. I gave the order. Only I gave the order. No one authorized me.”

That arrangement, he added, “solved the problem for the people of Israel.”

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