Just outside the city of Shiraz, in Iran’s stark and arid south, lies the gravesite of Cyrus the Great, founder of the first empire in human history to declare religious tolerance for all its peoples. Cyrus, acclaimed in the Bible for allowing the Jews exiled by Babylonia to return to their homeland and rebuild their Temple in 538 BCE, lies in an unadorned and simple stone tomb, a reflection, historians say, of the man’s humble character.
The United States has long barred the types of “physical pressure” outlawed by Israel’s Supreme Count this week in an historic ruling. But that has not hamstrung law enforcement officials here in their counterterrorism efforts, say experts.
This applies even to so-called “ticking time bomb” cases — where authorities are acting to prevent an imminent terrorist attack — of the sort that Israel claims pose a unique threat to its society, these sources say.
Chai L’Yisrael, the cheaper of the two at $180 round trip from New York, is offering flights tied to the May 17 election for prime minister and parliament, the Knesset. The latter will decide the fate of the Orthodox religious parties.
Kesher’s round-trip flights are for an expected June 1 runoff between Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu of the right-wing Likud Party and Ehud Barak of the left-leaning One Israel Party. Kesher’s fares are $449 from New York and $649 from Los Angeles.
Implicitly rebutting several senior government authorities, the Central Jewish Committee of Iran last week publicly asserted for the first time that 13 Iranian Jews currently imprisoned on suspicion of spying for Israel and the United States are innocent.
Putting its own resources on the line, the committee, which serves as the umbrella group for Iran’s 25,000 Jews, also announced it was prepared to raise money for attorneys to defend the imprisoned Jews.
A key prosecution witness has been harassed and threatened in an effort to intimidate him from testifying in the trial of Assemblyman Dov Hikind and Rabbi Elimelech Naiman, federal prosecutors claimed this week.
The alleged tactics, by members of the Ger chasidic sect, have not been tied by prosecutors to either of the defendants. And at the judge’s urging, Naiman, a Ger leader, has obtained rulings from Ger religious courts in Jerusalem and Brooklyn demanding that any such actions cease.
The courtroom light switches off, the overhead projector flicks on. And once more, the prosecutor speaks dryly of checks, contracts and budgets as the documents are projected on screen to the jurors. There are checks from the Council of Jewish Organizations of Boro Park — then Brooklyn’s largest Jewish community council — and its spinoffs to the political coffers of Brooklyn Assemblyman Dov Hikind, and other political campaigns.
There are government contracts sponsored by Hikind and awarded to the council for social service programs.
Were contracts drawn up by senior officials of Brooklyn’s largest Jewish community council in response to subpoenas long after the work was supposedly done complete fabrications? Or was real work accomplished without agreements being signed at the time?
In the wake of testimony this week at the trial of Assemblyman Dov Hikind, it is virtually certain that point will be vigorously contested by prosecutors and defense lawyers.
One side painted the charity and the assemblyman as partners in a complex web of corruption, deceit and political manipulation.
The other side cited their partnership as the instrument that lifted up the lives of hundreds of thousands, Jews and non-Jews, helping them find jobs, housing and training.
Just two weeks from trial, the federal corruption case against Assemblyman Dov Hikind took a surprising turn last week when one of his two codefendants suddenly pleaded guilty to paying off the Brooklyn political leader.
Paul Chernick, a top official of the Council of Jewish Organizations of Boro Park, then Brooklyn’s largest Jewish community council, told a Brooklyn court last Thursday that he had made illegal payoffs to Hikind in exchange for government grants Hikind secured for the council.