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a different side of Israel

Tag: Jerusalem (page 1 of 48)

Christian Holy Sites in Jerusalem Desecrated by Vandals

Israel’s Holy See ambassador, Zion Evrony, announced that a recent string of graffiti on Christian holy areas in Jerusalem must be publicly addressed or else it can harm Israel’s image as a nation that enjoys freedom of religion.

Evrony and Pope Benedict XVI met in Rome for a meeting to discuss the current relationship shared between Israel and the Vatican. The vandalism has been termed as “price tag” assaults and has been widely condemned by the Catholic Church in Italy. Despite the recent wave of vandalism, the pope and ambassador met under positive circumstances as the former was presented a gold figurine of a dove that symbolized peace. The meeting concluded with the pope sending a prayer of blessing to the Israeli people.

Price tag vandalism began recently when unknown vandals spray painted defamatory comments on the walls of a monastery on Mount Zion. The graffiti contained inscriptions that read “Jesus, son of a whore, price tag.”

The assailants remain on the loose though authorities suspect that the culprits may be tied to an extreme pro-settler Jewish organization that have already claimed responsibility for similar attacks on mosques, churches and even equipment belonging to the Israeli military. The vandalism is believed to be in retaliation for what is perceived by the group as Israel’s pro-Palestinian policies set by the government.

Christians make up less than two percent of the country’s population but have already faced repeated instances of defacing of their sacred sites. President Shimon Peres has publicly denounced the attacks and said that the actions are not values shared by the Jewish community.

Just a month prior, when a settlement outpost in the West Bank that was illegally built was torn down, vandals responded by spray painting a door on a monastery with the inscription “Jesus is a Monkey.”

Jerusalem in The Democratic National Convention

Is Jerusalem in or out? You decide…

Israel Rejoices as the Country Celebrates Jerusalem Day

Israel rejoices as it celebrates Jerusalem Day, which marks Jerusalem’s reunification in 1967 after being occupied by Jordan for 19 years.

The Wailing Wall in JerusalemDuring Israel’s war for independence, thousands of Jewish settlers, who had ancestral ties to the land, were forced to flee during the fighting. Heavy artillery shelling destroyed a total of 48 synagogues, leaving only one intact. The Jordanians desecrated old gravestones and even converted sacred burial sites into latrines.

2012 marks the 45th anniversary of the reunification. Most synagogues were filled to capacity as thousands gathered for morning services. The Hallel prayer was recited and a memorial held for Israel Defense soldiers who gave their lives in battle.

A special session was held at Ammunition Hill, which historical textbooks cite as the focal point for the Six Day’s War. During the fierce back and forth battle, 36 paratroopers lost their lives. At this session, the government will also vote over how to transform Jerusalem into a spot that betters its economy and boost tourism.

High school students and youth groups will also be partaking in Jerusalem Day Rikudglaim, where a parade of dancers and marchers will occupy the Old City and proudly wave the Israeli flag.

Celebrations will also be held in the Zionist yeshiva, Merkaz Harav Kook, where Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu and senior rabbis will be present to observe the festivities. A team of dancers comprising of Merkaz Harav students will dance their way starting from the yeshiva and move over to the Western Wall. The event will be broadcasted and streamed live by various media outlets.

In 1967, after being denied access by the Jordanians, Israelis marched by the thousands and stepped foot into Jerusalem for the first time in 19 years. This event marked a significant chapter in Israel’s history and is now celebrated with an unshakable pride and patriotism.

Backpacking in Jerusalem

For most young travelers setting out with nothing but their backpack and a dream to stamp up there passport with as many countries as possible, the first places they consider visiting are in Western Europe, Eastern Asia, and Australasia, however this is rapidly changing. World travelers and gap year students are looking for more unique places to visit than just the same old stops, which is what makes a place like Jerusalem, Israel so appealing.

Fortunately for backpackers, they are not the only people interested in opening up the Middle East to more travelers. In 2010, one of the first accommodation options designed to meet the needs of budget travelers looking for a cultural, hospitable, and fun place to stay, opened up right in the heart of Jerusalem. Abraham Hostel Jerusalem was built by its founders, who are also travelers at heart, on a vision to help backpackers and tourists truly discover and experience all that the Middle East has to offer. While many travelers worry about terrorism and their own safety in a place like Jerusalem, staying at a hostel like Abraham Hostel offers a fun and safe environment where travelers can get inside information about the best places to visit in the city. Top Israel hostels are becoming more and more popular as travelers discover how fun it is to stay in a place where they can not only save money, but also can meet other backpackers and experience Jerusalem in a whole new way.

From Biblical landmarks to historical destinations and top museums in the world, backpackers will have no trouble finding great places to visit during the day in Jerusalem. The Western Wall, the Church of the Holy Sepulchre, the Temple Mount and more are must-sees no matter a traveler’s personal religious views. In the evening however, night life can be a little trickier to find in Jerusalem. Many people suggest just heading to Tel Aviv, which is just an hour away and world-renowned for its night clubs and bars, however with a little effort, backpackers can discover great night life options in Jerusalem. Zion Square offers clubs for dancing and the city center of west Jerusalem is a great place for hip bars and pubs. That being said, the best way to discover music and nightlife in Jerusalem is by just asking the knowledgeable staff at a backpacker like Abraham Hostel for their in-the-know suggestion.

In these unique times of internationalism and the importance of learning about cultural respect, backpackers who are interested in an off-the-beaten track experience can find exactly what they are looking for in Jerusalem.

Wailing at The Wall in Jerusalem

Placing Notes in the Wailing Wall

Placing Notes in the Wailing Wall

The Western Wall, Wailing Wall or Kotel, is found in Jerusalem’s Old City, at the disputed western side of the ancient Temple Mount site. It is a remnant of the buttress of the ancient wall which once surrounded the Jewish Temple’s courtyard. For this, it is one of the most sacred sites in Judaism, that is, beside for the Temple Mount itself. More than half the wall, including the seventeen paths found underneath the ancient street level, dates from the later era of the Second Temple. It was built around 19 B.C. by King Herod the Great. The layers that remained were added from the seventh century on wards. Not only does the name, Western Wall, refer to the exposed section facing a large plaza in the Jewish Quarter, but also to the concealed sections behind the structures running along the whole length of the Temple Mount.

For centuries, the Wailing Wall has been the site of Jewish pilgrimage and prayer. The earliest source mentioning Jewish attachment to the site dating from the 4th century. From the middle of the 19th century and on wards, efforts to buy the wall and its immediate area were made several times by various wealthy Jews and Jewish organizations, although, alas none were actually successful.

Then, in the early 20th-century, with the rise of the modern Zionist movement, the wall turned into a source of friction for the Jewish community and the religious Muslim leadership, who were concerned that the wall was being used to further the push for Jewish nationalism to the Temple Mount and to Jerusalem. As a sad result of these Muslim concerns about Jewish statehood, outbreaks of violence at the foot of the wall were commonplace and an international commission convened in the year 1930 to determine the claims and the rights of Jews and Muslims in connection with the wall. Then, after the 1948 Arab-Israeli War the wall fell under Jordanian control and Jews were barred from the site for nineteen tragic years until Israel captured the Old City in 1967, when provoked by rocket and missile attacks by the Jordanian army.

Certainly there are ancient Jewish texts that seem to refer to a “western wall of the Temple”, however there is much doubt whether these texts were referring to today’s Western Wall or to another wall that stood within the Temple complex. The earliest use of the term Western Wall in terms of the wall that is actually visible today was by the 11th-century Ahimaaz ben Paltiel. The name “Wailing Wall”, and certain descriptions such as “wailing place” appeared in English literature during the 19th century. It was known as Mur des Lamentations in French and Klagemauer in German. The term itself was actually a translation of the Arabic term, el-Mabka, or “Place of Weeping.”

Brush Fire in Zion

“The dry heat combined with a light wind” caused the Jerusalem forest “blaze to spread quickly as eight firefighting crews along with two planes attempted to gain control over the blaze.” wrote Israeli reporter Sharon Udasin.

Yad Vashem was evacuated as the inferno that broke out in the Mount Herzl area began to spread towards Har Nof, Bayit Vegan and the Pi Glilot oil refinery.

Jerusalem fire 2011Haaretz reported that “one worker suffered from smoke inhalation and was taken to the hospital.” The Fire Department spokesman said on Channel 10, “large teams of firefighters have been deployed in the entire area, and curious onlookers should clear out. Firefighting planes are flying above us in an attempt to put out the fire.”

Director of Yad Vashem said:

“The firefighters took an hour from the moment we notified them. They arrived very tardily. Our maintenance teams stopped the fire at the last minute…The fire reached a distance of just 40 meters from the Yad Vashem archives. We stopped it just before it could destroy our most precious treasures. I don’t know and don’t want to think what would have happened if we hadn’t stopped it.”

Last Saturday, a fire broke out near the Church of Capernaum on Lake Kinneret’s northern shore, causing damage to banana groves. The fire started in a brush-field near Route 87.

Beck to the Rescue

Glenn Beck will be holding a major rally in Israel in August.

He said recently:

“Things in Israel are going to get bad…it’s only a matter of time…They are going to attack the center of our faith, our common faith, and that is Jerusalem. And it won’t be with bullets or bombs. It will be with a two-state solution that cuts off Jerusalem, the old city, to the rest of the world…It is time to return inside the walls that surround Jerusalem and stand with people of all faiths all around the world.”

The event will be called “Restoring Courage,” a spinoff of last summer’s “Restoring Honor” rally held on 8/28 in Washington, D.C.

Meanwhile, last Sunday, Pastor John Hagee of Cornerstone Church in San Antonio, TX devoted an entire service to honoring the Jewish State. Pro-Palestinian protesters got the scoop and showed up at the service, planting themselves in the audience, and standing to shout anti-Israel messages.

With Satan In The Driver’s Seat, Peace Is Nowhere To Be Found

Jerusalem, nay, the Middle East is a place where everyone thinks they have authority over the ‘other-guy’, yet the situation is proverbially out-of-control.

Led by Hezbollah member, Raed Salah, the Northern Branch-Israeli Islamic Movement has demanded all Mezuzot be taken off the gates of Jerusalem’s Old City.

Salah said:

“This is a disgusting attempt to Judaize the Arab and Islamic heritage of the old city…and all Islamic institutions are called upon to act quickly to remove the Mezuzot.”

(Judaize the Jewish State? I don’t know you guys!)

Spokesman for the Al-Aqsa “institution” Mahmoud Abu Atta, says:

“The only religion who owns Jerusalem is Islam…The old city of Jerusalem to the Arabs forever.”

Jerusalem Little Kotel Meanwhile, in a different part of the Old City, the Jerusalem Development Authority opened its Muslim Quarter site – ‘Little Kotel‘ – to Jewish prayer. Scaffolding was removed from under an arch supporting Palestinian homes.

According to the Ateret Cohanim Website, students at Yeshivat Ateret Yerushalayim pray every Friday in the courtyard, where no disturbances a have been recorded in recent years.

This move does not come in response to Palestinian groups last month claiming the Western Wall is not a Jewish holy site, and instead, is sacred to Muslims.

And then, in an unrelated story, Gaza’s health sector seems to be on the verge of collapse due to a lack of medicine.

Medical care, said Medhat Abbas, general director of the Ash-Shifa medical complex in Gaza City, must be separated from political disputes.

Gaza’s Health Ministry has blamed its counterpart in Ramallah for a shortage of medicine in the Strip. Health Minister of Hamas, Bassem Naim, said Gaza was lacking 40% of basic medicines which he accused the PA of withholding.

Meanwhile, Israeli spokesman, Ofer Gendalman, warned Hamas to stop firing projectiles into southern Israel.

Dozens of projectiles have been launched from Gaza at Israel since the start of 2011. The launches have been the work of the Democratic Front for the Liberation of Palestine, the National Resistance Brigades, the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine and Islamic Jihad.

Big Gaza No No

“Gaza, Gaza, Gaza, we understand it is too much to ask for you to recognize the State of Israel, or to cease acts of terrorism and violence. But when you fire rockets at Israel, can you please not use white phosphorous.”

Your pal,
The Jewish State of Israel.

Last week, Israel fielded a protest at the United Nations because Palestinians were firing mortar shells and rockets across the Gaza border, using white phosphorous; the chemical frequently used in weapons since World War II, which causes severe burns. Three were fired in September, and on November 19th (and last August) the Salah al-Din Brigade fired four mortar shells containing white phosphorus into southern Israel from the Gaza Strip.

White phosphorous, a.k.a. WP, “Willie” or “Peter” is a material made from an allotrope of the chemical element phosphorus used in smoke, tracer, illumination and incendiary munitions. The use of phosphorous on civilians is banned under international law. Israel admits to using white phosphorous during Operation Cast Lead, two years ago, in Gaza, but in risking UN sanctions, have since stopped. At that time, NATO forces also used white phosphorous, but have also since reportedly stopped.

The United States has accused Taliban militants of using white phosphorus weapons illegally on at least 44 separate occasions and likewise, in May 2009, Colonel Gregory Julian, spokesman for General David McKiernan, the commander of U.S. and NATO forces in Afghanistan, confirmed that Western military forces in Afghanistan use white phosphorus in order to illuminate targets or as an incendiary for destroying bunkers and the equipment of enemies. In November 2009, Houthi fighters in Yemen claimed Saudi warplanes dropped phosphorus bombs on villages in north Yemen. The Saudi government denied this.

A coalition of militant Palestinian groups (including the al-Qaeda linked, Ansar al-Sunna) known as the Popular Resistance Committees claimed responsibility for the latest attacks on Israel. They claim it was retaliation for Israel’s targeted killing of two leaders of the al-Qaida-linked Army of Islam in recent air strike on Gaza last Wednesday. Israel claimed the group was planning to kidnap nationals in Sinai Peninsula to use them as bargaining chips for the release of Palestinian prisoners.

Meanwhile some polling by the Jerusalem Post does show some improvement. 56% of Gazans and 53% of West Bank Palestinians are sick of Hamas. The Islamo-Fascists in green are getting the Palestinian cause nowhere! These numbers are down from the 35% and 44% who had favorable views of Hamas in July 2009. Fatah got high approval ratings, also in Gaza, which is a positive sign. While most Palestinians (like Israelis) favor a two-state solution, they see it as a step towards having a one-state solution someday, Insha’Allah.

Palestinians in both the West Bank and the Gaza Strip hold animosity toward Iran.
Altogether, 54% of Palestinians think peace with Israel is a possibility and only 43% are despondent. The majority are ready for renewed Peace Talks with the Jews.

AND THEN, ACHOTINU (one act) By Scott Krane Part 2

(enter Professor Alkobi)
Alkobi: aahhh! You barbarians. What are you trying to do, break my hand? Where is my?—

Detective: Start talking professor.

Alkobi: About what?
(for this sarcasm the professor is rewarded a smack)

Detective: Where is he Professor, where is he!

Alkobi: Where is who? Why don’t you—
(another smack…this time with the back of the detective’s hand. Alkobi puts his finger underneath the bleeding nostril)

Jewish Temple
Detective: Don’t play stupid with me Alkobi! Where’s your boss? (Black Jerry is again heard barking from down the hall) Someone shut that damn dog up.
(The detective lights another cigarette, rises from his chair and walks to the other side of the interrogation table. He applies the cherry of the cigarette to the art professor’s hand. Alkobi falls to his knees, his chair collapsing underneath him)

Alkobi: ahhh! You barbarians. Have you not bigger fish to fry? Where are the soldiers, kidnapped by European activists?
(Black Jerry begins again to bark)

Detective: That’s it. Kill the damn dog!
(one gunshot is heard. The dog wimpers. Another gunshot – now silence)

Alkobi: I don’t know where he is. Really. (holds his wounded hand, climbing back in his chair)
I do not know where Danziger ben Colman is. We made the mural so fast. It was all a blur. If I could help you – God knows I would. You think I know something that you don’t, but you are wrong, you are wasting your time. All I know is art, and here is what I can tell you: Herod himself would weep at the beauty of this mural! The ruins of our temple have finally found a proper place in God’s service. Anyway, wherever ben Colman is, you’ll never be able to find him. He will be as elusive to you as the meaning of his art.

Detective: What is the meaning of this mural? – The nation’s flag and the mysterious angelic woman? Were you protesting something?

Alkobi: The master seeks not to protest anything. The master has worshipped at the Kotel his entire life. It is a very holy place to him. The master seeks merely to express the ennui of the current state of Zion and his longing for the Messianic era. The master seeks to express the unsung Dyonisian genius of the Jewish country. He feels that the beauty of Jewish Man’s creative expression is the missing link to Israel’s redemption. The master’s mural was his offering to the Lord of Hosts. To color the material world with art in hope to influence God to send us redemption. To build God a temple of Jewish Man’s creative expression.

Detective: (a silly look on his face) Tell me what it was like being in ben Colman’s classroom. You WERE his pupil once.

Alkobi: He would sit on top of his desk while teaching at the Bezalel. His legs would cross at his shins, hovering above the ground, pointing upward – they would bend and twist with his feet in all different directions. This is how you could tell that his mind was active. His legs looked like they wanted to break free from his stationary torso and run – striding across fields of vacant pastures – away from the familial expectations and cultural norms which so terrified him – these hilly pastures were his imagination.

Detective: Well, enough about his legs. What did he wear?!

Alkobi: He dressed like his father. Black pants. White shirt. Black shoes. His pants would sag slightly below the desired position – slightly – and the gentlemen would be too embarrassed to be seen sloppily sliding his fingers into the waist line or hooking a belt loop to attempt a hopeless lift. A corner of his shirt might become untucked. A string from his tzitzit might occasionally escape the darkness of its tucked in home. He had no problem though, proudly pushing his hand through his light brown hair and casually groping his traditional black skull-cap. Not to set it in place on his scalp – but to make sure that the thing had not fallen off – as if some mysterious wind, felt only by him, was blowing it off.

Detective: Very eloquently put Professor. You talk like you paint. I do apologize about your hand. I hope they won’t do worse to you in prison.
(The detective motions for the guards to take him away)

Alkobi: (being dragged away) You fools! You’ll never find him!

Detective: Is Mordechai ben Colman still here? Bring him in. (The detective gets up from his chair and begins pacing)
(Enter Danziger Ben Colman’s father, unescorted)

Detective: Good evening sir. I am sorry about the circumstance. I believe that you do not know anything more about Achotinu or your son’s whereabouts than we do. Just tell us a little about Danziger as a boy. It may give us clues as to where he could be hiding.

Mr. Ben Colman: He was a good boy. A good heart. Not a slow Torah learner. He was strange though. (he begins to weep…the detective hands the ultra-Orthodox Jew a tissue) He stole once in his life – but he returned daf tzadi of the Rav’s Tractate Nezikim after sketching a portrait of the Rav in almost microscopic proportion below the Ayn Mishpat. For this, they almost kicked Danziger out of the Yeshiva. None of the other boys would talk to him. He would just hang out with that damn dog, Black Jerry.
(someone in the room coughs)

Detective: Did you ever have to discipline him?

Mr. Ben Colman: One year, motze Yom Kippur, I yanked him by his scrawny arm to the electric stove and forced his hand on the hot top.

Detective: Why?

Mr. Ben Colman: He tore apart my Shulchan Aruch. He divided each law and explanation with scissors and pasted the shapes to the living room table. Halachicly indexed! It was sad, his mother did not touch him – Black Jerry whimpered and licked his hand, I’ll never forget.
(suddenly an officer barges in…his clothes wet from the rain)

Officer: We can’t find him. We’ve combed nearly the entire country.

Detective: The deserts?

Officer: yes.

Detective: The forests?

Officer: yes.

Detective: Well, keep on looking. I want every damn inch of this country scrutinized. I mean it! It’s only been 48 hours. Every home, the sea, everything! Dispatch the Navy! Call the United States, whatever you can do!

Officer: One thing detective.

Detective: What is it Alvarez?

Officer: Where is Black Jerry, he might hold a clue.

Detective: I had the dog shot.

Officer: You imbecile! Don’t you know that he spent all of his damn time since his childhood with the dog?

Mr. Ben Colman: That’s true too.

Officer: If there were any way to find Danziger the dog would have been needed. We could have had it psychoanalyzed by the K9 specialist. And I wonder detective, if your haste in killing Black Jerry, does not represent your inability to understand the unsung Dyonisian genius of this country!

“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)

Rihanna Does Israel Right

The Grammy Award winning popular rhythm and blues singer Rihanna performed at Tel Aviv’s Bloomfield Stadium Sunday night.

The 22-year-old singer, born in Barbados and currently based in the United States, spent two days prior to the concert touring sites in Israel – one such site was of course the Kotel where she purchased a Red-String Protection From Evil Eye Bracelet. She bought it on the steps in front of the Beit Midrash of the Aish HaTorah world center and made of it a photo opportunity.

As part of a volunteer project, Rihanna also helped paint a mural on the Kfir Scouts community center in Tel Aviv.
She said that her Israel journey was an “amazing, amazing experience.”

In September 2009, Rihanna performed at Jay-Z’s “Answer to Call” concert, a tribute to the police officers and firefighters who died during the September 11 attacks.
Metallica also performed in Israel a couple of weeks ago and other artists, such as the Pixies and Elton John have shows scheduled in Israel this summer.

In addition to her tour of Jerusalem, Rihanna’s first Israel visit also included a taste of hummus in Abu Gosh. The young artist refused to tell the reporters what she wrote in the note she hid in the Western Wall, saying that it was between her, God and the wall.

It was requested of the reporters to not to ask about her personal life or about the cancellation of the Elvis Costello gigs. Most of the press conference was devoted to the volunteering project, with Rihanna expressing her delight over the success of the campaign.

Tel Aviv was Rihanna’s last destination in her current European tour, which was launched to promote her latest album, “Rated R”. In the past two months she performed in Ireland, the United Kingdom, Switzerland, Germany, Belgium, Holland and Scotland.

Russia Steps In

President MedvedevPresident of Russia, Dmitry Medvedev has urged the United States to actively work to achieve peace in the Middle East – citing the “human tragedy in Gaza”.
The comment apparently indicates Moscow’s willingness to become an active Middle East mediator. Are they wanted? Last week, during a visit to Syria, Medvedev said that the Israeli-Arab tension threatens to draw the Middle East into a “new catastrophe”.

Bibi, despite insider allegations of the contrary, claims that he does not “intend to halt construction of Jewish housing in east Jerusalem”. The Palestinians, of course, accuse the Jewish Country of undermining trust and urge Obama, who supports establishing an independent Palestinian state alongside Israel, to intervene.

Medvedev claims that no one should be excluded from the peace process, clearly referencing Khaled Mashaal, the exiled leader of Hamas – shunned as a terrorist organization by the U.S. and European Union nations – and rightly so. Medvedev did urge Mashaal to free Gilad Shalit, according to Kremlin spokeswoman, Natalia Timakova, according to the RIA Novosti news agency.

At the meeting in Damascus with Syrian counterpart, Bashar Assad, the two presidents agreed on the affirmation of Iran’s right to develop a nuclear energy program.

Something Is Rotten in the State of Israel

Holyland Project

To say that Israeli politicians have never been morally bankrupt is a lie – even some of the notable heroes of Israel politics like Golda Meir made mistakes, all be them honest ones – but this so-called Holyland case, concocted of the childish, conniving and greedy behavior of middle-aged Israeli political and corporate power-hitters is sickening – that is the activity, not the investigation.

Ehud Olmert is proof that the higher you climb in Israeli society, if you don’t watch your step, the lower, harder and faster you are bound to fall. In a time and place where everything you do is not only scrutinized by the non-understanding eyes of the global community, but attacked by hate-filled finger-pointers, is it too much to seek some role-model grade behavior among our leaders. Is this unrealistic?

Sure, bribery and other scandals is nothing new among the politicians of the Jewish Country – I don’t think that I need to name names or incidents, and we the Israeli people have become somewhat hardened by it – or the unscrupulous behavior of a few greed-driven politicians is certainly drowned out by the voices of our boys on the front lines or the risk of terrorism. Right? Well it appears that the Holyland case may be something of a record-breaker.

The main player in the case is an unnamed individual who allegedly received 55 million NIS from Holyland developers, acting as the intermediary, passing the bribery funds to the necessary persons towards advancing the project and eventually gaining the permits to build the monstrous structure which now stains the not unstained holiness of the Jerusalem skyline.

Another key suspect is an unnamed accountant, who police believe did made payoffs in the form of legitimate donations, seeking to pressure him into turning over the facts in the case, to incriminate others. Police also think that in some cases, opponents of the project were persuaded to become supporters after they received free apartments.

Former Jerusalem Mayor Uri Lupoliansky is accused of playing a vital role in the illegal activity, as head of the planning board. On Wednesday night speaking publicly with Channel 10 News, Lupoliansky shifted the responsibility to another former Jerusalem Mayor Ehud Olmert. Lupoliansky explained that the mayor is the one calling the shots, not his deputy.

Ehud Olmert’s former Bureau Chief Shula Zaken will probably be detained and interrogated after returning to Israel from the United States. Her home was searched about a week ago, in her absence, when investigators seized several documents which tied her to the Holyland scandal.

On Wednesday, police detained businessman Danny Dankner and former head of the Israel Lands Administration Yaakov Efrati. Both of them were arrested as part of the National Fraud Unit’s Holyland corruption affair investigation, which apparently has shed light on further illegal corruption situations.

Danker, the former Chairman of Bank Hapoalim was interrogated by the National Fraud Unit on suspicion of committing criminal offenses like bribery and breach of trust. Efrati currently serves as Chairman of the Directorate of Israel Railways.

Meanwhile, police have completed their investigation of allegations against Mayor Zvi Bar of Ramat Gan and believe that there is sufficient evidence to press charges.
The mayor is suspected of corruption, money laundering, bribery and income tax violations.

Unique Israeli Artist Jack Jaget

Jack Jaget is a graduate of Music and Art High School and the Cooper Union Art School of New York. For some years he was the Art Director at the World Publishing Company. Once, this master designed books for most major publishing companies in the States, for which he won many awards, among these:

Best 50 Books – American Institute of Graphic Arts, AIGA children’s book selection (A total of 14 books), honor book for the Caldecott Medal, and he was a member of AIGA and the American Heritage of Graphic Arts.

In 1974 Jaget, his wife and three children immigrated to Israel and founded a graphic studio which turned out designs for companies, hotels and banks such as the Sheraton and Carlton Penta, Bank Hapoalim, the BIRD Foundation, and others.
Hebrew Wood Mezuzah Case by Jack Jaget
Wood-working has long been Jack’s great love – so he turned it into an occupation. Each Jack Jaget piece is individually fashioned in various woods and decorated with gold leaf. All of the metallic parts are gold plated. He uses the finest lacquer finishes, to give his creations a unique and mysterious Middle Ages aura.

A number of Jack’s pieces have been presented to CEOs and notable scholars. Among well-known personalities who were the recipients of Jack’s books are, the late King of Jordan, as well as US President George W. Bush.

His work includes; Bibles, Tehillim, Sidurim, Pesach Haggadot, Machzorim, Tzadakah Boxes, Torah Pointers and Mezuzah Cases.

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