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“AND THEN, ACHOTINU” (one act) By Scott Krane

Dramatis Personae:

Danziger Ben Colman - mastermind of “Achotinu”
Mordechai Ben Colman - Danziger’s father
Detective
Alvarez - special forces police officer
Guards
Shmuel Fieberman - member of “Achotinu”
Pachenko - Member of “Achotinu”
Professor Alkobi - head of “Achotinu” under Ben Colman
Stern - chassidic Jew
Officer
Black Jerry

Part I

In the interrogation room of the main Jerusalem precinct, 20 members of “Achotinu” have been seized. They are sharing a holding cell and awaiting their interrogations. Only Danziger Ben Colman, the mastermind, is still on the loose.

Detective: Where is Ben Colman?

Feiberman: I don’t know why don’t you ask Black Jerry?
(the detective smacks the suspect)

Detective: When was the last time you saw him?

Feiberman: Four days before it happened. We held a meeting that morning, all of us, in a cave in the Judean Desert.
(the suspect is holding his face where he has been smacked)

Detective: What was your duty in Achotinu?

Feiberman: After my audition and initiation I received an order to find work around the Kotel. I was hired by maintenance.

Detective: Tell me about the audition and initiation.

Feiberman: They were held on two consecutive days. The audition consisted of my painting an impressionistic variation of the Israeli flag on a cave wall. For the initiation I simply swore on a Tanach.

Detective: And was the same procedure mandatory for all?

Feiberman: Yes I think so.

Detective: What kind of paint did you use?

Feiberman: Oil paint. The same we used for the mural.

Detective: That’s all for now – you may go.
(the two officers escort Feiberman back to his cell…a tall Chassidic man is escorted in)
Bring me Stern.

Detective: (aside) Get this man some water! Shalom Stern.
(Stern says a blessing on the glass of water)

Detective: Amen. Stern, can you tell me what it is that you saw?

Stern: (clears his throat) I wanted to be first at morning prayers. I try to do this about once a week, it is a great Mitzvah. As I approached the security gate I saw, leaned up against the wall, the first officer, tied up, gagged, his weapon stripped and lying on his back. As I moved through the gate I saw three more officers bound like so.

Detective: Hmm. And is this when you called the police?

Stern: Yes. Well, no. This is when I saw it. The giant mural painted on the Kotel. It must have been 400×375 meters. It was the Israeli flag and a mysterious angelic woman waving it. She was wearing a golden robe and one of her breast’s were exposed. Oh Father of Mercy! Oh Hashem!
(the Chassidic Jew begins to weep…the detective hands him a tissue and pats his hand, while helping him out of his chair…Stern leaves the room weeping)

Officer: Detective, your wife’s on the phone.

Detective: Tell her I can’t talk now. It’s going to be a long night and Ben Colman’s still on the loose. Bring me Pachenko.
(A pale-faced lad is led in forcefully – he is hardly an adult yet)

Detective: You look nervous Pachenko. Can I get you something? Some vodka? Coffee—

Pachenko: I am an art student at the Bezalel! I was pushed into this. I am a pawn!

Detective: Where is he?

Pachenko: He’s still missing?
(Pachenko looks puzzled…Black Jerry, the dog is heard barking in another room)

Detective: How did you become affiliated with Achotinu?

Pachenko: All I know is that Ben Colman saw my portfolio – the work which I had been doing in school. It was still my first year. Professor Alkobi called my cell phone toward the end of the second semester. He told me that Professor Ben Colman had admired my work and that there was a job for me. He then told me to be at the Kotel after the coming Shabbat and to wear a pink shirt. That night, Professor Alkobi spoke to us, representing Ben Colman. There were ten of us there if I do recall correctly. It was all very secret, you see.

Detective: Didn’t you want to know how much you were going to be paid?

Pachenko: I didn’t care. It was unimportant. I did not need any kind of persuasion. Furthermore, I thought that if I refused to participate – Professor Alkobi would make my life hell, even ruin my career. Listen, when someone offers you a commission to work for Ben Colman, you don’t turn it down. You just don’t.

Detective: No audition? No initiation?

Pachenko: No, nothing like that.
(The detective lites a cigarette)

Detective: What was your duty?

Pachenko: I worked on the frame of the mural.

Detective: Did you have a cover? Around Jerusalem I mean?

Pachenko: No. Until the night of the operation I had no idea that all of the Kotel’s security and maintenance were artists and working for the master. Professor Ben Colman simply handed me a sheet of paper with what to paint and when to arrive. He did not want to interrupt my education. The master values education very highly.

Detective: We’ve seen your work Pachenko. You are a very fine artist. (laughs) Perhaps you’ll be able to paint in jail. (hysterical laughter) Any last words boy?

Pachenko: (breaking down) I am sorry, I am so sorry, I did it for God. I didn’t think that I would be hurting anyone—”

Detective: (face suddenly looks cruel) Get him out of here. Find me Alkobi!
(The officers drag the resisting man away screaming)

Pachenko: Let me call my mother! Ima! Ima! Help, God, I am innocent! I am a simple art student. I am not the man that you need!
(everyone notices a urin stain on Pachenko’s pants…shouts are heard in the hallway as Alkobi is dragged in screaming)

Mazal Tov to LabPixies

Google has announced an agreement to acquire the Israeli start-up Labpixies for an estimated $25 million, in a move which it hopes will strengthen its search pages through the development of Web site gadgets to attract even more users.
LabPixies

“We are excited to welcome Labpixies, they are a natural fit with our Israel team and represent all that is attractive and innovative about the Israeli tech start-up scene,”

Said Yossi Matias, the Director of Google Israel R&D center.

The acquisition is actually the first-ever deal that Google has made in the Jewish Country since its center in Israel was launched in 2005. Google claims that the deal is a strategic step for its Israel research & development center. The Labpixies team, under the terms of the deal, will be integrated into the Google Israel office based in Tel Aviv working across a wide variety of platforms and anchoring the iGoogle search page across Europe, the Middle East, and Africa.

Google said:

“The shared focus on the user and passion for applications made this the right time to come together and an exciting opportunity to do more together for users and developers…The acquisition is an opportunity to learn from each other to bring more applications to users, help developers and improve the overall developer ecosystem.”

Founded in 2006, Labpixies creates interactive gadgets for web environments. These mini-applications are personalized web gadgets, known as “widgets” including iGoogle, Android and iPhone, and are developed in-house, from inception to creation.

LabPixies’ widgets range from handy tools such as calendars, news feeds and to-do lists to entertainment and games.

The start-up, which is run by a tiny team of 10 employees, has until now developed 70 widgets and has over 40 million users. The start-up is financed by private investors and received $1 million in a series round of funding in June 2008. Among the investors is Yaron Carni, who represents a boutique Angel group of high added value individuals from New York and London, who invest privately in a variety of strictly Israeli based companies.

CEO of Labpixies, Ran Ben-Yair said:

“We started Labpixies to create a truly personalized online experience and develop fun widgets that people find useful every day…Working at Google will help us scale to more people as well as giving our team greater opportunities.”

In recent years, the Labpixies and Google team have worked on many projects together, including the launch of global OpenSocial. In addition, Labpixies was one of the first developers to create gadgets for iGoogle, in order to give users greater access to useful everyday information such as news, weather, games and videos as well as email.

Good Coffee Has to Have Good Aroma

Aroma Espresso BarMazal Tov to the Aroma Espresso Bar chain! A 2009 restaurant contest held by a popular Ukrainian website, Lasun reported that Aroma is Kiev’s best coffee shop. The Israeli chain, which opened shop in the capital of Ukraine one year ago, is among the city’s fastest growing successes.

For the second year in a row, the contest has been ranking restaurants in 23 different categories. The goal is to develop a food culture in the country. The candidates are first ranked by specialists and then by web surfers.

Yaakov Lipshitz, manager of the Kiev branch and a partner in the Aroma chain had this to say:

“The win was a complete surprise…We provide for a real need in the market for espresso bars and food service that just doesn’t exist here, meaning fast, high quality food. We didn’t know if the concept of Aroma would catch on with the Ukrainian crowd but I guess we have succeeded in cracking the code.”

Olga Nasnova, a judge in the competition had this to say:

“It is a special blend of coffee shop and fast food…Aroma’s service method is also innovative. Reading the names of clients over the loudspeaker has become an attraction, and people call themselves by funny names and movie heroes’ names to attract attention.”

Hearing my name read in the local Aroma Espresso Bar’s PA system has kept me coming back too! Well that and the Jerusalem Salad with the Zandvich Iraqi, chetzi of course!

Israeli Women Continue To Make Less Than Men

The average woman in Israel lives to age 83, gives birth to three children, and makes a third less than the average man, according to recent data published by the Central Statistics Bureau in honor of International Women’s Day – celebrated on May 8.Israeli Women Continue To Make Less Than Men

The bureau did find that in the past year, women have climbed further up the corporate ladder, with the percentage holding managerial positions having nearly doubled what it was in 1990.

The number of women who work while attending an institute of higher education also is significantly on the rise from observations in the past decade: from 39% to 48%.

The differences however in salaries, remain similar despite the progress made by women in the workforce. In 2008 the average male monthly salary was $2,548, while the female average was only $1,609 – or 37% less.

One explanation is this: women tend to work shorter hours than men, but hourly rates were also compared and found to be different, with women making 27% less than men on average, per hour.

The bureau’s data also shows that 152,500 women gave birth in 2008. Sadly around 11% of all pregnancies were aborted. Israeli women give birth to three children on average and live to the age of 83, while the average life expectancy for men is 79 years.

The bureau found that of all women aged 20-45 who worked and gave birth, around 25% ceased working, while just 1% of men stopped working due to a new baby. 16% of women lessened their work hours after giving birth, while just 3% of men were found to have done the same.

The number of women studying for their bachelor’s degree is steadily rising, with numbers reaching 55% of all students in 2008. 58% of all students studying for a master’s degree are women, as well as 52% of those found in the process of acquiring their doctorates.

Women are present in the highest percentage in education studies – showing 86%, as well as nursing – showing 81%. Though in the fields of architecture and engineering their numbers are lowest – just 27%.

The Wicked Witch of Caesaria

A former housekeeper has filed a lawsuit accusing the Israeli prime minister’s wife of abusing her.
Lillian Peretz, who worked as the Netanyahu’s housekeeper at their beachside home in the town of Caesaria for six years, claims that Sara Netanyahu verbally abused her and forced her to change clothes and shower several times a day to maintain a “sterile” environment. It also alleges that she was paid less than minimum wage and forced to work on the Jewish Sabbath despite the fact that she is an observant Jew.
The prime minister’s office claimed that the lawsuit is “false and full of lies and defamation” and that the housekeeper is part of a media-orchestrated political conspiracy.
Peretz is asking for about $80,000 in the lawsuit filed last week and publicized on Friday in the Yediot Ahronot daily.
Sara Netanyahu, a former flight attendant who is now a practicing psychologist, also got attention during her husband’s first term as prime minister from 1996 to 1999. She came under fire for squabbling with her staff, flaunting her young children in public and meddling in state affairs. Among these scandals, she was accused of firing a nanny for burning a pot of soup and of throwing a pair of shoes at an assistant.
According to the lawsuit, Sara Netanyahu

“like in the story of Cinderella, burdened her (Peretz) with impossible chores, tyrannized her and screamed to the point of terror.”

The lawsuit also alleges that Peretz was not allowed to drink the family’s bottled water, only tap water.
The Netanyahu’s dismissed the allegations, saying that Peretz had warm and loving treatment in the home. They produced pictures of the two women embracing, a copy of Peretz’s letter of resignation, signed

“with lots of love and appreciation,”

and a newspaper clipping of Peretz expressing her love for Sara Netanyahu.

Levels of Jewish in Israel Explained to “Strange Workers”

Yair Nitzani explains to foreign workers in Israel (Strange Workers) about the different levels of Jewish in Israeli society.

Shana Tova 2010

To all our OJ readers, friends, haters and other vegetables – Happy New Year!!!
May the coming year bring peace and quiet and may your camel spit nothing but dates!

Merry Xmas From The Holy Land

With the various legal action taken against diplomats from Israel in different countries we thought this was appropriate.

Merry Christmas from the Holy Land!!

Jimbo Be Sorry

Former U.S. President, Jimmy Carter sent a seasonal message to the Jewish community, asking for forgiveness for any stigma he may have caused Israel. The conclusion of the letter read:


“We must recognize Israel’s achievements under difficult circumstances, even as we strive in a positive way to help Israel continue to improve its relations with its Arab populations, but we must not permit criticisms for improvement to stigmatize Israel. As I would have noted at Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur, but which is appropriate at any time of the year, I offer an Al Het for any words or deeds of mine that may have done so.”

National director of the Anti-Defamation League, Abraham Foxman, was pleased by the statement, calling it a “beginning of reconciliation”:

“We welcome any statement from a significant individual such as a former president who asks for Al Het…to what extent it is an epiphany, time will tell. There certainly is hurt which needs to be repaired.”

Carter has angered many Jews in recent years with writings and statements which place the burden of peacemaking on the Jewish country, by likening Israel’s settlement policies to apartheid, and blaming the pro-Israel lobby for inhibiting a fair US foreign policy.

Born in Plains, GA on October 1st, 1924, Jimmy Carter was the thirty-ninth President of the United States of America, from 1977 to 1981.

His books “Palestine Peace Not Apartheid,” from 2006, and “We Can Have Peace in the Holy Land: A Plan That Will Work” from 2009, were both best-sellers which brewed much controversy and negative sentiments toward Israel.

Gordon Brown Apologizes

Apparently things aren’t as bad as we thought they were when I posted a couple of days ago about English lawyers issuing arrest warrants for senior Israeli officials.

ivni brownIsrael’s President Shimon Peres said that the warrant was “one of Britain’s biggest political mistakes in recent years.” Before heading to Copenhagen for the climate conference, Peres said that London “had pledged to remedy this situation, and that it was high time it did.”

The British Prime Minister Gordon Brown called the leader of the Kadima party on Wednesday to assure her that she is welcome in England anytime.

On Tuesday, Israel confirmed that Livni canceled her planned trips to London this month after she received word of a secretly issued arrest warrant, awaiting her British arrival.

Brown insists that he will take action to change the legal parameters that gave way to the situation, in the first place. Britain pledges to reform the strange legal auspices, which lets judges order the arrest of visiting politicians and generals. One day, under the current legal stance, arrest warrants could feasibly become issued against Barack Obama or Vladimir Putin, let alone Israelis.

Foreign Secretary David Miliband issued this statement:

“Israel is a strategic partner and a close friend of the United Kingdom. We are determined to protect and develop these ties….Israeli leaders – like leaders from other countries – must be able to visit and have a proper dialogue with the British government.”

British Lawyers: Fe Fi Fo Fum I Smell The Blood of A Palestinian

An arrest warrant has been issued in a London court against Tzipi Livni for alledged war crimes committed during Operation Cast Lead. Livni’s office had this to say:

livni in the UK

“The opposition chairwoman is proud of all her decisions regarding Operation Cast Lead. The operation achieved its objectives to protect the citizens of Israel and to reinstate Israel’s deterrence capability. Livni will continue to present this stance everywhere in the world…Hamas is not a dialogue partner, and we must therefore take forceful action against them, while engaging in negotiations with moderate elements. As such, no comparison between IDF soldiers and terrorists can be made. This is Livni’s position whether or not an arrest warrant was issued, which is something we are as of yet unaware of.”

A few months ago, when Defense Minister Ehud Barak visited Britain, he was faced with accusations by local lawyers of committing war crimes; but the court rejected the accusations, and Barak was not detained.

In 2005, Major General Doron Almog arrived in London, but remained on board his plane and was forced to fly back to Israel in fear of being arrested. The warrant issued against him was eventually canceled.

Similarly, former IDF Chief of Staff Moshe Yaalon postponed a recent trip to Britian following legal recommendations. Pro-Palestinian British lawyers are hot on the Jewish State’s trail.

Livni has canceled her plans to speak at Jewish National Fund’s Vision 2010 conference held in Hendon, near London. She insists that it is not out of fear of being arrested, but these claims are suspect.

Fear and Loathing in Yasuf

Before sunrise on Friday, on the heels of a Shabbat and Hanukkah sandwich, vandals snuck into a Palestinian village in the West Bank and vandalized a mosque. Holy books and furniture were burnt, and graffiti writing sent messages of intimidation.

yasufThe recent attacks on West Bank Palestinians and their property is a response to Israel’s recent halt on settlement construction; the civilian attacks have been dubbed the “price tag” policy.

Prime Minister
Binyamin Netanyahu
has vowed to catch the “criminals” behind the attack. Israeli President Shimon Peres said:

“The government, the security forces and the law enforcement institutions must take every measure, with the utmost urgency, to find the perpetrators and put them on trial in accordance with the gravity of the acts…It can’t be that an extremist group endangers the status of Israel as a state that abides laws and respects religions.”

Defense Minister Ehud Barak said:

“This is an extremist act geared toward harming the government’s efforts to advance the political process for the sake of Israel’s future…”

Calling the act a violation of religious freedom, Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas claimed:

“The torching of the mosque in Yasuf is a despicable crime, and the settlers are behaving with brutality…”

In addition, the U.S. State Department released a statement saying that:

“We condemn this attack in the strongest terms and call for the perpetrators to be brought to justice.”

Whether or not the settlement freeze is justified, or a cowardly crumbling under pressure from the west, is a good question.

Cheap Shot

I know this is a cheap shot literally but we can’t help it. A reader sent this in and well, you be the judge.

This is the official statement from Tiger

Cheap Shot - The Woods

Shame Shame

Starving children, constant rioting, what’s next? What COULD be next? Jerusalem’s haredi neighborhood has found another way to offend their comrades…who they refuse to admit as being such.

Private investigators of the Education Ministry have revealed that several ultra-orthodox schools in the holy city have enrolled students who are probably fictitious.

The Education Ministry of the State of Israel provides elementary schools an annual sum of NIS 6,000 (about $1,597) per student. An inquiry showed that Haredi schools in Jerusalem were registering children affiliated with the Eda Haredit, who do not acknowledge the State of Israel and whose children do not attend its establishments. Altogether millions of shekels have been stolen from the government.

The Eda Haredit admitted that they may know something of the phenomenon but refused to cooperate with Israeli investigators.

“We are not interested in dealing with the State of Israel’s losses…it’s not our problem. We solve our problems in our courts.”

Satmar KinderlachThe Eda Haredit are the ones, by the way, who have refused to accept Intel’s compromise about keeping their Jerusalem factory open on Shabbat but not employing Jewish workers and are therefore responsible for embarrassing dangerous and needless demonstrations – just don’t torch any parked cars you guys!

If there was once a portion of the hard-working Israeli soul which felt guilty for being less religiously observant than the Haredim or for showing up in the holy land at a later era, these sentiments may be put to rest. When the State’s religious core has become almost the greatest example of vanishing morals in the entire country, we may as well reassert our values and our hearts.

From Russia With Love

Gee-Wiz – what’s happening in Russia these days? Corruption, lies, murder, and it all seems to get suspiciously brushed under the carpet away from the public eye – it is really beginning to look like the last days of the Soviet empire.
Sergey Magnitsky was mysteriously laid to rest on Monday November 24th in a pre-detention center in Moscow. The 37-year-old lawyer was a key witness in a fierce battle of alleged tax fraud between the Russian government and Hermitage Capital Management – once the country’s top investment fund.

From Russia with LoveLast November a case was filed by the government against the company’s co-founder William Browder. Browder had accused Russian officials of using Hermitage and like companies to fake tax refunds, there by duping Russian taxpayers out of millions.

The young Magnitsky was arrested in connection to his involvement with Hermitage Capital Management. He was being kept for the better part of a year in Matrosskaya Tishina jail; and this is where it starts getting weird…

A 40-page affidavit sent to Russia’s general prosecutor Yuri Chaika explained that Magnitsky who suffered from acute pancreatitis, was denied numerous requests to see a doctor. The attorney’s eventual death was ascribed to a ruptured abdominal membrane. The affidavit went on to describe the unsanitary conditions of the prison. “At night you can hear them squeaking,” wrote

Magnitsky of the rats who ran up and down the halls of the jail. He was held in a cramped 8.2 square meter cell with two others; and he claimed that he was starved during court outings. He was also refused the right to see his wife and two young children.

Sergey Magnitsky’s lawyer Dmitry Karitnov had called for a criminal investigation into the officials in charge of the pre-detention facility – but get this – he was shot down. Russia’s procurator said there would be no criminal investigation until a complete review of the death has been completed.

Now that the story is all over the media, Russian President Dmitry Medvedev is calling for an investigation into Magnitsky’s death.

Browder who has been barred from Russia since 2005 because of similar matters, denies committing tax fraud. There is little chance that he could be extradited, but the Londoner was however put on the Interpol wanted list.

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