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Israeli start-up leads fight against remote car-hacking — video

July 24th, 2015

A chilling demonstration of hackers taking control of a moving vehicle draws attention to Argus

BY David Shamah / TimesOfIsrael.com

As part of their hack, Charlie Miller and Chris Valasek broadcast their cartoon images on the entertainment center display of a Jeep Cherokee driven by Wired's Andy Greeberg

As part of their hack, Charlie Miller and Chris Valasek broadcast their cartoon images on the entertainment center display of a Jeep Cherokee driven by Wired’s Andy Greeberg

Remote-controlled car hacking has arrived — and with it, an important opportunity for Argus, an Israeli cyber-security start-up that currently has the world’s only effective system to detect and prevent the kind of attack demonstrated recently, when a pair of hackers took control of a Jeep Cherokee driving in St. Louis.

“Argus’s mission is to promote car connectivity without compromising on security,” said Tom Bar Av, a spokesperson for the company. “In the Jeep case, as well as in other hacking attempts that have been demonstrated over the past year, our solutions could have played a pivotal role in successfully preventing such attacks from affecting a vehicle’s systems.”

The frightening incident was outlined in an article and accompanying video in Wired magazine, which describes how “white-hat” hackers Charlie Miller and Chris Valasek took control of a Jeep vehicle being driven at top speed by Wired journalist Andy Greenberg. Miller and Valasek turned the radio on full-blast, ran the air conditioner, and even took control of the accelerator — scaring Greenberg to the point where he was forced to “drop any semblance of bravery, grab my iPhone with a clammy fist, and beg the hackers to make it stop.”

The demonstration was an extension of an attack the two hackers undertook in 2013 when they took control of the braking system of a Ford Escape and Toyota Prius – but with laptops connected to the cars’ computers.

In their latest escapade, the two relied entirely on the Jeep’s wifi connection, exploiting a weakness in Chrysler’s Uconnect software, which allows connection to the Internet in hundreds of thousands of Chrysler and Fiat vehicles already on the road. All a hacker has to do is identify a vehicle’s IP address – it has to have one, of course, in order to access the Internet – and the rest is by-the-book scripting, similar to taking control of a remote computer, smartphone, or any other Internet-connected device.

White hat hackers Charlie Miller and Chris Valasek

White hat hackers Charlie Miller and Chris Valasek

Coincidentally, the attack came on the same day that U.S. Senators Edward J. Markey (D-Mass.) and Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.) introduced the The Security and Privacy in Your Car (SPY Car) Act, requiring the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) and the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) to establish federal standards to secure cars and protect drivers’ privacy.

The Act would also establish a rating system — or “cyber dashboard” — to inform consumers how well the vehicle protects drivers’ security and privacy beyond those minimum standards, similar to the “green” ratings that rank vehicles on how their emissions impact the environment.

“Rushing to roll out the next big thing, automakers have left cars unlocked to hackers and data-trackers,” Blumenthal said. “This common-sense legislation protects the public against cybercriminals who exploit exciting advances in technology like self-driving and wireless-connected cars.”

If the bill becomes law, chances are that at least some car companies will be knocking on the door of Israeli cyber-security start-up Argus, which is developing its Intrusion Prevention System (IPS) system to detect and prevent real-time hacking of connected cars.

Argus Founders from right to left: Zohar Zisapel, Chairman; Oron Lavi, VP R&D; Ofer Ben Noon, CEO; Yaron Galula, CTO.

Argus Founders from right to left: Zohar Zisapel, Chairman; Oron Lavi, VP R&D; Ofer Ben Noon, CEO; Yaron Galula, CTO.

As cars become connected to the Internet and to external devices such as smartphones, smart keys, diagnostic tools, and other vehicles, they are more vulnerable to cyber-attacks, according to Bar Av. With a bit of effort, hackers would even be able to access a vehicle’s Electronic Control Units (ECUs), allowing manipulation of a car’s engine, brakes, airbags, and other safety systems or vehicle components, the company said.

To prevent this, Argus has designed a system that does a thorough analysis of the communication packets (the segments of data) that come into and go out of the vehicle. Because the range of communications in a vehicle’s infrastructure is limited – it’s only supposed to be sending or receiving specific kinds of communication, to specific IP addresses – the analysis can quickly determine if anything is amiss, preventing a vehicle’s critical components from being hacked in real time. The system can be integrated into any vehicle production line, to ensure that it is not tampered with. The system can also generate reports and alerts for remote monitoring of a vehicle’s “cyber health.” The company has R&D facilities in Israel and a center in Michigan to be near the business center of the American automotive industry.

The Argus system, said Bar Av, has gotten a thumbs-up from the U.S. Department of Transportation – the only mobile cyber-security system to have gotten such approval so far. “Argus solutions are ready-to-embed and provide car manufacturers with a real-time Cyber Dashboard, providing them with real-time overview of their fleet’s cyber health and with the ability to detect new threats and quickly respond to cyber attacks,” said Bar Av.

Netanyahu Blasts UN ‘Hypocrisy’ After Ban’s Comments on Gaza Report

July 23rd, 2015

“There is no limit to the hypocrisy”, says PM after UN chief accuses Israel of making Gazan children “suffer”.


By Elad Benari / IsraelNationalNews.com

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu blasted the UN’s hypocrisy immediately after the head of the global body, Ban Ki-moon, accused the IDF of making Gazan children “suffer” last summer in its counter-terror operation.

“This is a dark day for the United Nations,” Netanyahu said. “Instead of mentioning the fact that Hamas turned Gaza’s children into hostages when it fired from kindergartens on the children of Israel, the UN chooses again to preach to Israel, which makes sure to act according to international standards, as determined just this week by senior generals from the United States and Europe.”

“At the same time,” Netanyahu continued, “the Hamas terrorist organization receives immunity from the UN despite the fact that it has been proven beyond doubt that it committed war crimes when it fired from hospitals, mosques, and UN facilities. It turns out that there is no limit to the hypocrisy.”

Ban had earlier said that last year [2014] “was one of the worst in recent memory for children in countries affected by conflict” and added he is “deeply alarmed at the suffering of so many children as a result of Israeli military operations in Gaza last year.”

More than 500 children died during the conflict in Gaza last year, although Ban failed to note that Hamas embedded its terror infrastructure in civilian populations to maximize casualties on the Gazan side and portray the IDF negatively. Hamas also widely used civilian shields, callously using local people, and particularly children, in the line of fire.

Israel has pointed out that many facilities in Gaza were struck because they were being used to launch rockets on Israeli civilians and store weapons.

Hamas has been busily developing its domestic rocket arsenal since the last war and is siphoning off construction materials to rebuild its terror attack tunnels into Israel in preparation for its next terror war against the Jewish state.

Netanyahu’s comments followed earlier criticism from Deputy Foreign Minister Tzipi Hotovely (Likud), who said the UN was showing “outrageous bias” against Israel.

“At a time when ceaseless war rages in the Middle East and children are slaughtered on a daily basis, the UN decides to mention Israel in the same breath with states that since long ago have not had any basic human rights,” she said.

Israeli Ambassador to the UN Ron Prosor criticized the UN the same day, responding to the UN report on children and armed conflict that was prepared by Leila Zerrougui of Algeria.

Ban said the report showed “the unprecedented and unacceptable scale of the impact on children in 2014 raises grave concerns about Israel’s compliance with international humanitarian law…(and) excessive use of force.”

Prosor responded, saying that Israel asked to provide information for the report but was refused, as Zerrougui relied only on radical anti-Israel groups. The report completely failed to mention Hamas’s role in the impact on children in Gaza.

The ambassador further pointed out that 2% of the report discusses Iraq and Islamic State (ISIS), while 6% of it is dedicated to Syria. Over 10% of the report, though, discusses Israel’s “aggression against children.”

A deal between Greece and Europe averts one disaster, and hastens the next

July 19th, 2015

Pain Without End

July 18, 2015 edition of The Economist|

“We have an a-Greek-ment,” declared Donald Tusk, president of the European Council, on the morning of July 13th. Mr Tusk’s little joke seemed forgivable at the time: after talking through the night, euro-zone leaders had thrashed out a deal that averted Greece’s imminent exit from the single currency. The reality is grimmer. A decent deal would have put Greece on the path to sustainable growth and taken the prospect of Grexit off the table. Instead, Europe has cooked up the same old recipe of austerity and implausible assumptions. The IMF is supposed to be financing part of the bail-out. Even it thinks the deal makes no sense.

Greece unemployment rate chart

True, some ideas are useful. In exchange for talks on a package estimated at €82 billion-86 billion ($90 billion-94 billion), the creditors have put structural reforms higher up the agenda than in the two previous bail-outs. That is welcome: opening closed-shop industries to competition is a surer path to growth than austerity is. But even if they are carried out, structural reforms take a long time to pay off. In the meantime, the Greek economy is suffocating because of bank closures and capital controls. The agreement does too little to ease this chokehold.

The creditors are concocting a bridge-financing package designed to prevent Greece from defaulting to the European Central Bank (ECB) on July 20th. But money will not flow until reforms have gone through the Greek parliament (a first batch was passed on July 15th) and the details of the bail-out are settled. Money will also be made available to recapitalize the banks, but the extent of their capital shortfall will only be clear after the summer. The ECB can meanwhile keep the banks afloat with emergency financing, but capital controls will remain. Given the possibility that losses will be imposed on creditors, the incentives to put money into Greek banks are non-existent. The IMF increased its estimate of Greece’s financing needs by €25 billion after only two weeks of banking limbo; as today’s misery drags on, the hole will deepen.

Even now, there is a huge financing gap to fill. One hope is privatization: the agreement requires Greece to transfer assets to an independent fund that will generate €50 billion by selling them off. Fat chance. Over the past five years Greece’s government has managed to raise a grand total of just €3 billion from asset sales.

In another triumph of wishful thinking, the deal also reckons Greece can soon borrow in private markets. Although previous bail-outs have greatly reduced the burden of interest payments to euro-zone creditors, which start only after 2020, Greece’s debt stock is now projected to peak at 200% of GDP. No private creditor is going to lend money to Greece at reasonable rates when its debt load is unsustainable. The only option—one that has, miraculously, united Alexis Tsipras, the Greek prime minister, and the IMF—is debt relief. Yet the euro zone has ruled out forgiving any debt outright, and put off the decision of whether to extend maturities for another day.

That leaves the old standby of austerity. Among the initial measures passed by the Greek parliament on July 15th was one leading to “quasi-automatic spending cuts” in the event of shortfalls in Greece’s budget targets. If those cuts were ever enacted, they would only harm the economy further. The politics are little better. Marshaling ongoing domestic support for the bail-out in Greece, with his own left-wing Syriza MPs in revolt, will be an enormous problem for Mr Tsipras (see article). Years more hardship will only radicalize a country that is already a haven for the hard left and the fascist right.

The hokey-cokey currency
If Greece trips up, whether in the coming days or quarters, Grexit will immediately hove back into view. This week Mr Tsipras saw what a strong negotiating position really looks like, as Germany’s irascible finance minister, Wolfgang Schäuble, openly dangled plans for a temporary Grexit. That idea was excised from the final agreement, but too late. Germany’s unshakable commitment to the irrevocability of the single currency has gone and it cannot be reinvented. Greece must toe the line, or get out. The summit made it clear that Greek membership of the euro is transactional and contingent.

Greece and euro crisis chart

Plenty have called the agreement a coup d’état; Mr Tsipras himself talks of having had a knife at his throat. That conveniently ignores his own culpability in sowing mistrust among the other 18 euro-zone members: his decision to break off negotiations and call a referendum earlier this month squandered any political capital he had left in Brussels.

The summit has deepened the tension between sovereignty and stability that bedevils the euro. If it is to work, the euro zone requires more fiscal centralisation. But the Greek referendum and this week’s deal have laid bare the trade-offs involved, away from national self-determination and towards more intrusive external control. Saving Greece is hard enough; securing the euro will be tougher still.

Hamas, Fatah exchange threats after wave of arrests

July 18th, 2015

PA security forces arrest 170 Hamas men in connection with shooting attacks against Israelis, raising the wrath of Gaza’s ruling faction.

Elior Levy / YNetNews.com

The Palestinian Authority arrested 170 Hamas men in the West Bank over a period of a few days, according to Palestinian security source, leading to threats from the Gaza terror organization.

The source said the arrests were made in connection with a series of shooting attacks against Israelis in the Binyamin area over the past few weeks that claimed the lives of Malachi Rosenfeld and Danny Gonen.

According to the source, there is evidence pointing to Hamas being behind the series of attacks, which also included a shooting at a Maden David Adom ambulance that ended with no casualties.

Palestinian Authority police. (Photo: Mohammed Shinawi)

Palestinian Authority police. (Photo: Mohammed Shinawi)

The arrests were made in three waves. In the first and biggest raid, 108 Hamas men were arrested in one night, some of them former prisoners released from Israeli and PA jails.

The PA security forces’ spokesman, Adnan al-Damiri, said Hamas was trying to undermine the security situation in the West Bank, adding that the Gaza rulers were doing so while holding indirect contacts with Israel to secure a long-term ceasefire in the Gaza Strip.

Hamas condemned the wave of arrests, and Hamas official Ismail al-Ashqar threatened that if the PA continues these arrests, Palestinian security forces will become a target to the “Palestinian resistance” in the West Bank.

Other Hamas officials said the security forces in the West Bank were operating as part of a plan to eliminate Hamas in the West Bank, a plan they charged serves Israel.

“If Hamas tries to test our patience and commit a terror attack that affects Palestinian security, the organization will meet with a response it cannot imagine,” Fatah said in response.

Nablus governor Akram Rajoub, who used to be a senior official in the Palestinian security forces, said that any attack against the PA will turn all of Hamas’s men in the West Bank into a target.

Despite the mutual threats, the Palestinian security source said Hamas would not dare execute an attack against the PA security forces, but did not rule out the possibility that Hamas men could open fire at PA security when they come to arrest them.

Greek Jews struggle and brace for more turmoil

July 17th, 2015

By Gavin Rabinowitz / JTA.org

Greeks waiting in line outside a shuttered bank to withdraw their daily allowance of 60 euros. (Gavin Rabinowitz)

Greeks waiting in line outside a shuttered bank to withdraw their daily allowance of 60 euros. (Gavin Rabinowitz)

ATHENS, Greece (JTA) — For 55 needy Jewish families, a cash welfare payment is the only thing that gets them through the month. But when they came to the Athens Jewish Community last week for their July assistance, they were given only a portion of the payment in cash — the rest was in supermarket food coupons.

“We just don’t have cash and we can’t get anymore, the banks are closed,” said Taly Mair, the community director who oversees the welfare program. “We hope to make the rest up to them later.”

Scenes of turmoil and uncertainty have played out across Greece over the past week with the country on the verge of bankruptcy after failing to make a payment to the International Monetary Fund. Banks have been shut, ATM withdrawals are limited to 60 euros (about $66) a day, and panicked citizens are stocking up on staples such as bottled water, pasta, lentils, and baby formula.

Amid the economic crisis — and especially following the country’s overwhelming rejection in a referendum of the terms offered by Greece’s European creditors — the Greek Jewish community of about 5,000 is grappling with two main concerns: how to provide emergency assistance to Jews in need and how to ensure that the Jewish institutions can continue to function.

Among those particularly hard hit are the poor and elderly members of the Jewish community, including many Holocaust survivors. A number of them don’t have bank cards, meaning they are unable to access their pensions or Holocaust restitution payments.

While the government insisted that the referendum’s defeat left Greece better positioned to negotiate a deal beneficial to Greek citizens, many observers believe that Greece as a result could be forced out of the Eurozone, the community of nations that have adopted the euro as a common currency. The country’s finance chief resigned July 6.

The Jewish community has traditionally been in favor of staying in the Eurozone, and in the European Union, but did not take an official position ahead of the referendum, encouraging members to decide for themselves.

Greece has been in a deep financial crisis for the past six years; two massive financial bailouts from Europe and international institutions have failed to alleviate the problems. A harsh austerity plan imposed by creditors has seen the country’s economy shrink by 25 percent and its unemployment rates rise sharply.

For the Greek Jewish community, the financial crisis is just the latest setback in a chain of events that has seen Europe’s oldest, and one of its most storied, communities dwindle to just a few thousand members.

Jews trace their history in Greece to 300 B.C., and the country is home to the ruins of the oldest known synagogue in the Diaspora. Greece’s Romaniote Jews, neither Ashkenazic nor Sephardic, were joined in the 15th century by Spanish Jews who had been expelled from their homeland. Greece’s Jewish community numbered 78,000 on the eve of World War II — most lived in the port city of Thessaloniki — and was nearly wiped out in the Holocaust.

In recent years, the community has been diminished further by the economic woes and the European Union-imposed austerity measures, including cuts to wages and pensions. Many younger Greek Jews, faced with youth unemployment of 50 percent, left the country, most of them looking to work or study in other European countries.

Today, most of the nation’s Jews live in Athens, and a large portion of them are elderly. In recent years the community has sought assistance from the Jewish Agency for Israel and other international Jewish groups, such as the World Jewish Congress and the American Jewish Committee. The American Jewish Joint Distribution Committee has provided some $400,000 this year in emergency funding the Greek Jewish community, the organization said.

The economic crisis also brought with it a rise in anti-Semitism. In 2012, neo-Nazi Golden Dawn became the third-largest party in Greece, while surveys from the Anti-Defamation League show that Greece has the highest levels of anti-Semitic feelings in Europe. According to the polls, 85 percent of Greeks believe some Jewish stereotypes, such as Jews have too much influence over the global economy.

The week before the referendum, in response to an impasse in negotiations over a new bailout deal, panicked Greeks pulled billions from their accounts, forcing the government to shut banks. Which is why welfare payments from the Jewish community are so crucial.

The Central Board of Jewish Communities in Greece “is continuing to help, in the spirit of Jewish solidarity, so that no Jew will be left without a meal or can’t meet their basic needs,” said Victor Eliezer, a member of the umbrella organization of Greece’s Jewish communities.

In addition to food coupons, the Athens community is also working with a pharmacy to ensure that community members have access to needed medications, said Mair of the Greek capital’s community.

Another concern is making sure that Jewish institutions — synagogues, the retirement home outside Athens, community centers, and schools — can stay open.

The Jewish youth summer camp started, despite many concerns.

“We have to figure it out, how are we going to organize, provide food, transport and security for all the children,” Mair said, adding that many parents have been reluctant to send their children away in such times of uncertainty. “Parents are afraid when the situation is so fragile.”

There is also worry about how to keep all the other institutions running, too, and no clear plan, said David Saltiel, who leads the Jewish community in Thessaloniki.

“Very shortly we won’t have money to pay salaries and the needy,” he said. “The whole system is down, and the community functions within the system.”

Oskar Groening: ‘Accountant of Auschwitz’ Sentenced to 4 Years in Jail

July 16th, 2015

By ALISON SMALE / NYTimes.com

Oskar Gröning in Luneburg, Germany. From 1942 to 1944, his job was to seize cash and valuables from Auschwitz prisoners. Credit Markus Schreiber/Associated Press

Oskar Gröning in Luneburg, Germany. From 1942 to 1944, his job was to seize cash and valuables from Auschwitz prisoners. Credit Markus Schreiber/Associated Press

LÜNEBURG, Germany — In what is likely to be among the last chances to bring justice for the Holocaust, a German court convicted a 94-year-old former SS soldier of colluding in mass murder, and delivered an unstinting depiction both of the horrors of Auschwitz and the depths of German guilt.

The former soldier, Oskar Gröning, was sentenced on Wednesday [July 15,2015] to four years in jail for complicity in the murder of 300,000 Hungarian Jews who were brought to the Nazis’ grimmest death camp in the summer of 1944.

In a sweeping 75-minute speech, Judge Franz Kompisch presented what amounted to a reckoning with decades of German justice and the failure to prosecute thousands of perpetrators. The judge made it plain that every German had a choice about how far to go along with the Nazis.

“This is a point that must be made clearly,” the judge said. To join the SS and take “a safe desk job” at Auschwitz “was your decision.” He added, “It was perhaps affected by the era, but it was not because you were unfree.”

Mr. Gröning, a trained bank teller who during his 12-week trial offered chilling insight into the workings of Auschwitz-Birkenau, was employed there from September 1942 to October 1944, assigned to seize cash and valuables from arriving prisoners.

While he was not accused of gassing prisoners, Mr. Gröning’s trial suggested that he had witnessed enough violence and cruelty to have a clear understanding of the systematic mass murder carried out at the camp in Nazi-occupied Poland.

“You had freedom to think,” Judge Kompisch said to Mr. Gröning. Yet “you asked to join the SS.”

The main lawyer for the dozens of plaintiffs, Thomas Walther, called Mr. Kompisch’s judgment “historic,” saying that it was wonderful for his clients and could serve as a corrective to decades of lax prosecution of Nazis in German courts.

On Wednesday, the state prosecutor’s office in Frankfurt announced that another former SS soldier who worked at Auschwitz, this one 92, is facing charges of being an accessory to murder. But with World War II having ended 70 years ago, the number of people who could be tried for Nazi crimes is dwindling.

In a biting passage, the judge noted that the state prosecutor’s office of Lüneburg, a midsize jurisdiction, handled some 30,000 cases a year. By comparison, he noted, experts say 6,500 people worked for the SS at Auschwitz, yet only 49 of those have been convicted.

As the judge took the court on a journey to what he described as a seemingly distant past, the only sound in the makeshift courtroom — a meeting hall converted to accommodate interest in the trial — was the low background buzz of interpreters working in English, Hungarian and Hebrew.

The sentence exceeded the three and a half years that state prosecutors had requested. Mr. Gröning’s lawyers had sought an acquittal.

Both state prosecutors and Hans Holtermann, a lawyer for Mr. Gröning, said they would consider whether to appeal in the next week. If so, it could be months before any sentence is final. Mr. Gröning would not be jailed during that time.

The judgment came a day after Mr. Gröning, increasingly frail though mentally alert, offered the court what he clearly intended as a direct apology for his crimes. “I am truly sorry,” he said. He refrained, however, from asking forgiveness from his victims.

Mr. Gröning’s remarks as the trial opened on April 21 offered a remarkably clear if often harrowing account of his time in Auschwitz. He admitted his moral complicity, but stopped short of an apology. On July 1, he addressed the court once more, saying that the evil of the Holocaust was too great to entitle him to a pardon from anyone other than God.
None of the dozens of plaintiffs, who joined state prosecutors in accusing Mr. Gröning, were in court on Wednesday. Their lawyers said that the judge’s surprising decision on Tuesday to move immediately to a verdict meant that none had had the time to get back to Lüneburg.

But Leon Schwarzbaum, 94, like Mr. Gröning, was on hand. Although not a plaintiff, he had come especially from Berlin to see if justice would be done. Born in Hamburg in 1921, transported to Auschwitz from a Polish ghetto in 1943, Mr. Schwarzbaum said he lost 30 relatives in the Holocaust. He survived Auschwitz-Birkenau, Buchenwald, Sachsenhausen and at least one other camp.

Mr. Schwarzbaum said afterward that, although too long delayed, justice had been served.

For decades, the German legal system made it difficult to prosecute former SS members and camp guards if there was no direct evidence linking them to the mass killings of the Holocaust.

But the case of John Demjanjuk, a Ukrainian who immigrated to the United States after World War II, changed that. A former autoworker, he was eventually extradited and sentenced in Munich in 2011 to five years in prison for his involvement in the killing of 28,000 Jews at the Sobibor camp in Nazi-occupied Poland. He died in 2012, before his appeal could be heard.

This opened the path for prosecutors in Germany to charge aging former camp personnel with complicity in the Holocaust.

Among those who helped pioneer the shift in German legal thinking was Mr. Walther, a former judge who went to work in 2006 for Germany’s central office for tracking Nazi war crimes, based in Ludwigsburg.

Mr. Walther and his colleague Cornelius Nestler represented 51 of the 65 plaintiffs. Some of the survivors had directly confronted Mr. Gröning with their memories in searing testimony.

Hedy Bohm, 87, told the court that she had never expected the chance to appear as a witness at the trial of one of her German persecutors. But most of all, she said, she wanted to hear Mr. Gröning say “three little words: I am sorry.” He uttered them, but attached such qualifications that, she said, the apology would in fact not be enough.

Several of the other plaintiffs said that what they sought was an apology and a legal judgment. As Eva Fahidi, 90, put it, it was not a matter of sending an old man to live out the rest of his days in a jail as much as getting a formal acknowledgment of the unspeakable pain the Nazis had inflicted. She lost 49 relatives.

Mr. Walther said that Mr. Kompisch and his two judges had clearly listened closely to the plaintiffs’ account of how they were violently uprooted from homes across Hungary and delivered into what the judge described as a “Nazi-perfect” construct that hid behind euphemisms and a bureaucratic division of labor.

The judge went into excruciating detail on the three-day rail transports to Auschwitz and the sorting of prisoners into two groups: those “saved” to work and the masses stripped of their last possessions and gassed.

In his final statement to the court on July 7, Mr. Walther virtually assumed the identities of the Hungarian Jews he represented. “We survivors of Auschwitz have the right to accuse and, for our murdered families, we have the duty to do so,” he said. “We accuse because of time, which heals no wounds but instead burns them deeper into our souls.”

Capturing Israel’s future, one drop at a time

July 1st, 2015

By Leiba Chaya David / JNS.org

While water crises are fast becoming a significant part of life around the world, that trend is moving in the opposite direction in Israel.

Pictured here is a recent program in which 1,000 students from 25 schools across Israel came to Be’er Sheva River Park to study water as part of the Green Horizons-JNF Rainwater Harvesting Project. Credit: Jewish National Fund.

Pictured here is a recent program in which 1,000 students from 25 schools across Israel came to Be’er Sheva River Park to study water as part of the Green Horizons-JNF Rainwater Harvesting Project. Credit: Jewish National Fund.

Until recently, Israel experienced a perpetual water shortage that reached extreme proportions, primarily due to drought and over-consumption. But for the past several decades, Jewish National Fund (JNF) has worked to alleviate and mitigate Israel’s chronic water shortage through a range of water collection and conservation initiatives.

For example, JNF’s construction of close to 250 water reservoirs, which store reused and treated wastewater for agriculture, in addition to collecting flood and runoff water, effectively free up fresh water for human consumption. Likewise, JNF’s research on water treatment and geothermal water sources increase Israel’s water supply.

Solutions in the schoolyard

For the thousands of school children who participate annually in the Green Horizons-JNF Rainwater Harvesting Project, solutions for water conservation can be found right outside on the playground.

These budding young environmental stewards are taking action to address a particular aspect of the water shortage—inadequate use of rainfall. Currently, only 20 percent of Israel’s rainfall is being used, with the other 80 percent lost to evaporation or runoff into sewers or to the sea. In urban areas, where roads and buildings almost completely prevent saturation into groundwater, 95 percent of rainwater is wasted.

Together, JNF and the Green Horizons youth leadership organization are raising awareness about the water crisis, promoting conservation, and helping students develop skills to address environmental challenges. In 24 schools throughout the country, Green Horizons provides guidance in those areas, and JNF water professionals teach students how to build and operate a rainwater harvesting system that collects and stores water in large barrels, then redirects it into school toilets and landscaping. The system not only reduces water consumption, but also increases school-wide awareness about water conservation.

After a training period, the project is run by the students themselves, with older children teaching the younger children. Occasionally, the arrangement works the other way around. In the Acacia “open school” in Rehovot, for example, an enthusiastic and water-savvy second-grader, Alon (name changed for this article to protect his privacy) has reportedly taken over the instruction of the high school students.

The Green Horizons-JNF partnership has already generated 24 rain harvesting projects. By last December, students in one Jerusalem school had already collected 22,500 gallons of water. With some 4,500 schools in Israel, the potential to increase utilization of rainwater is impossible to ignore.

Celebrating the harvest

Recently, a group of 1,000 school children from 25 schools throughout Israel gathered at the Be’er Sheva River Park to celebrate the culmination of another year of the rainwater harvesting project.

At the beginning of the event, each class received a map to help it navigate 15 fun and educational stations throughout the park that were created by JNF, Green Horizons, and the Weitzman Institute of Science. The stations required the students to complete water-related tasks, such as directing water from one place to another via channels in the dunes, or assembling a puzzle that reflected an important lesson about water conservation.

The contest’s first-prize winner was a class from the Torah and Science School in Sderot, a school that combines religious and secular studies for a mostly haredi student body. Together with the other students, the winners signed a declaration of commitment to conserve and protect Israel’s water resources.

When the students return to school next year, the Green Horizons-JNF Rainwater Harvesting Project will seek to continue to empower them to take charge of their own water consumption and become environmental leaders in their schools and communities.

Ido Reichman Eisikovits, Green Horizons’ liaison to JNF, noted the diversity of the rainwater harvesting project.

“Because it looks at water from a lot of perspectives—science, geography, local, and global issues—it appeals to all kinds of students,” he said.

Pastor Saeed Abedini ‘Viciously Beaten’ in Iranian Prison, Told His Only Way Out Is to Deny Jesus Christ

June 26th, 2015

BY STOYAN ZAIMOV / CHRISTIANPOST.com

U.S. Pastor Saeed Abedini in this undated photo.

U.S. Pastor Saeed Abedini in this undated photo.

American pastor Saeed Abedini has reportedly been “viciously beaten” by fellow prisoners in an unprovoked attack in the Iranian prison where he’s being held. The pastor was punched in the face, leaving his eyes beaten black and blue, but prison guards intervened and prevented further injury.

The American Center for Law and Justice, the law group which represents his wife, Naghmeh Abedini, and the couple’s two children in the U.S., said that the prisoners also demolished a small table that the pastor had used to study and read during the beating that he endured the first week of June.

Abedini was allowed to see a prison doctor, who determined that he does not have any broken bones. The following week, he was able to see a family member who came to visit him and see his injuries firsthand.

“It is heartbreaking to me and my family that Saeed was again beaten in prison. Saeed’s life is continuously threatened not only because he is an American, but also because he is a convert from Islam to Christianity. It’s time to get Saeed home before it is too late,” Naghmeh Abedini said in response to the news.

Back in May, Abedini marked his 35th birthday in prison, where he has spent over two and a half years for his Christian faith. He was arrested in Iran in 2012 while working on an orphanage for children, and later sentenced to eight years in prison.

The pastor has faced a number of beatings while in prison, both from other inmates and guards. The ACLJ and Naghmeh Abedini have expressed concerns that his condition worsens after each beating.

After the beating, Abedini spoke before Congress, pleading for further actions to be taken to help free her husband.

“Over the last three years, I have had to watch my two children, Rebekka (who is 8 years old) and Jacob (who is 7 years old), suffer daily as they have grown up without a father,” Abedini said.

“I am here today as a single mother who is trying to be strong for her children, and as a wife who humbly admits, I need your help. I cannot bear to look at my children’s longing eyes one more time and explain to them why their daddy is still not home.”

She later told The Christian Post that Abedini has been told his prison sentence will be increased unless he denies his Christian faith — something she insists her husband will not do.

“The times they have moved him in and out of solitary [confinement] and the times they have threatened him, they said ‘You will stay here longer than the eight years and your only key to freedom is if you deny your Christian faith and you return to Islam.’ The guards have said that, officials have said that continuously,” Abedini said.

Ten Minutes About Living Near Gaza

June 23rd, 2015

Listen to 27-year-old Anna’s non-political perspective as a kibbutznik who lives near Israel’s border with Gaza. She refutes the media’s portrayal of Israel in summer 2014 as a heartless monster and explains that the IDF acts humanely, like allowing terrorists to get away if they suspect that catching them would harm nearby innocents. Anna mentions the frequency of rockets falling and hearing 30-40 alarms some days. She sheds real tears in empathy for Gazans who aren’t part of Hamas but are used as part of their human shields; she expresses her fear of terrorists popping up in her formerly safe neighborhood from nearby tunnels, wanting to kill her and her family.

Nonetheless, Anna is “happy to live in place that is like heaven. … It’s surreal how beautiful it is!” She speaks for normal Israeli citizens and asks you to think about how their lives have changed because of Hamas in Gaza and how the Israel Defense Forces (IDF) defend and protect them and then are condemned by the media. She asks how people in other countries, say, Paris or California, would like living like Israelis in southern Israel and then asks that the viewers put themselves in her position before judging Israel.

Grab your box of tissues. Her plea is heartfelt.

UN chief singles out Israel in debate on kids in armed conflict

June 19th, 2015

‘Deeply alarmed’ by casualties of Gaza war, Ban urges Jerusalem to do more to protect children; Israel decries UN bias

BY AFP, TIMES OF ISRAEL STAFF AND AP

Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon (center) addresses a UN Alliance of Civilizations panel discussion on youth and peacebuilding on June 17, 2015. (Eskinder Debebe/UN)

Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon (center) addresses a UN Alliance of Civilizations panel discussion on youth and peacebuilding on June 17, 2015. (Eskinder Debebe/UN)

UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon singled out Israel on Thursday (June 17, 2015) in a Security Council debate on children killed or injured in armed conflicts, drawing fire from Israel’s top diplomat. While Ban mentioned war zones such as Iraq, Syria and South Sudan, Israel was the only country he called on to take action to protect children in war zones.

“Last year was one of the worst in recent memory for children in countries affected by conflict,” the UN leader said, adding he is “deeply alarmed at the suffering of so many children as a result of Israeli military operations in Gaza last year.”

“I urge Israel to take concrete and immediate steps, including by reviewing existing policies and practices, to protect and prevent the killing and maiming of children, and to respect the special protections afforded to schools and hospitals,” he added.

The secretary-general’s latest report said that in the Gaza conflict at least 561 children were killed — 557 of them Palestinians. It said 4,271 youngsters were injured, all but 22 Palestinians. A recent Israeli report said 369 of those killed during the 50-day conflict were children under the age of 15.

The 557 Palestinian deaths in the UN tally were the third-highest death toll of any conflict in 2014, after Afghanistan’s with 710 child killings and Iraq’s with 679 — but ahead of Syria’s with 368.

The UN chief didn’t address the reasoning behind his decision last week not to include Israel on his annual list of parties that kill or injure children in armed conflict in a speech to a Security Council meeting. That decision sparked protests from human rights groups and many in the Arab world and elsewhere.

Deputy Foreign Minister Tzipi Hotovely decried the UN’s “biased and one-sided” approach.

“While wars are waged incessantly in the Middle East and children are slaughtered, the UN regularly decides to mention Israel in the same breath as countries that have long not had any basic human rights,” Hotovely said in a statement. “The State of Israel does everything to protect the lives of civilians on enemy territory, while Hamas cynically uses children and civilian infrastructure and deliberately brings harm to human life.”

Meretz Member of Knesset Ilan Gilon slammed the UN leader’s naming of Israel alongside countries “who use terror against their citizens” as “utter stupidity and completely invalidates the UN’s moral authority,” the NRG website reported.

Ban’s statement came hours after Israel’s Ambassador to the UN Ron Prosor sent a letter to the secretary general saying a report released that day on children and armed conflict focused disproportionately on the Jewish state compared to other war zones.

In his missive, Prosor raised “deep concerns regarding the improper conduct — at every working level — of the office of… [Algerian legal expert Leila] Zerrougui in the process of drafting and producing the report.”

Prosor also accused Zerrougui of “biased conduct against Israel” and maintained that Israel did not violate international law during the summer 2014 conflict in the Gaza Strip, when the Israel Defense Forces battled against Hamas and other Palestinian militias for 50 days.

Ban defended his report, saying the content “should speak for itself.”

He said a debate is appropriate “but national interests should not cloud the objective at stake, which is protecting children.”

Zerrougui also said she stood by the report. She told reporters that Israel has been included in the annual report since 2005, and the same working methods have been used and it never complained in the past.

Some 2,100 Gazans were killed during last summer’s war between Israel and Hamas led-fighters, according to Palestinian tallies. Israel says that up to half of those killed were fighters and blames Hamas for all civilian deaths in Gaza, since Hamas and other terror groups placed military infrastructure in residential areas of the crowded enclave.


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