Friday, December 19, 2008


Posted Friday - December 19, 2008 - 3:46 PM EST

*Crook-lyn DA Charles Hynes*

As Israel's Supreme Court approaches a final decision on whether or not to extradite Mondrowitz to stand trial in Brooklyn -- we're talking about the man police believe sodomized or sexually abused hundreds of boys, nearly all Jewish -- the silence around the process is deafening! All the more so because things may not be going smoothly.

We know Mondrowitz has powerful supporters in Israel. And the shameful record of Brooklyn D.A. Charles J. Hynes in this case shows he'd be only too happy never to have to prosecute Mondrowitz... never to have to expose his enablers and accomplices in the community... never shine a light on a case his office has avoided ever since he took office. Well, IF WE STAY QUIET -- HE MAY NOT HAVE TO!!!

The Jewish Week is already reporting that Israel's top court may be considering a "compromise" by which Mondrowitz isn't sent back -- and gets tried, IF AT ALL, in Israel... probably meaning a much lighter sentence, and certainly keeping other guilty parties -- the D.A., Ohel, the rabbis who covered for Mondrowitz for years, and anybody he may have traded victims or kid porn with (who knows?) -- conveniently out of the picture.

I've learned more. And it's not comforting!

Israel's Supreme Court has ordered the State's attorneys (who have been pushing for extradition) to file additional papers by TUESDAY, DECEMBER 23. The judges -- who apparently didn't manage to read the record or the lower court's 40-page decision that explained in detail why Mondrowitz should be sent back for trial -- are suddenly worried that the alleged child rapist's "rights" may be jeopardized if he gets sent back so many years after his crimes were allegedly committed. Never mind that his prosecution is certainly timely under New York law -- because he was a fugitive since 1984, New York's "speedy trial" time limit didn't run. But maybe, asked the judges, it's all America's fault, not the alleged rapist's? Maybe America caused all the trouble by not renewing the extradition request until 2007?

Now, remember: NOBODY wanted Mondrowitz put on trial until WE got active and started demanding it -- with information in our hands provided by committed people like attorney Michael Lesher and Mark Weiss, and Michael's other (anonymous) clients. Israel refused Elizabeth Holtzman's extradition request in 1985; the Shas Party's Yitzchak Peretz refused to deport Mondrowitz after that; Roni Milo, the next Interior Minister, refused to deport Mondrowitz in 1987 after promising he would; then Charles Hynes got elected D.A. in 1989 and pulled the plug on the case.

Remember how the documents Michael Lesher finally extracted from the State Department showed that Hynes closed the Mondrowitz case, saying he wouldn't seek Mondrowitz as long as he stayed in Israel? Because he knew damn well that Israel didn't want him brought to justice any more than Hynes did!

Well, they still don't want it -- and now the dodge they seem to be trying is claiming that since America dropped the ball on the extradition request, it's not fair to Mondrowitz to send him back to Brooklyn after all... now that a wised-up community is not just listening to the Herbert Bomzers and other "rabbis" who said (you saw it on TV!) "Leave him alone." We want justice! -- and they know it -- and that's exactly what they DON'T want.

Okay: the facts. Michael has given me permission to post two things here. One is a copy of a document that proves the "America dropped the ball" argument is false. Oh yes, Hynes, dropped the ball (if he ever carried it in the first place); it was criminal of him to drop the case, it was unpardonable of him not to use all his efforts to try to get this animal returned to face his accusers. BUT, this embassy cable from September 9, 1988 shows that even back then, after Israel's criminal law expanded to include sodomy, leading Israeli officials were not interested in extraditing Mondrowitz UNTIL A NEW EXTRADITION TREATY WAS SIGNED... which didn't happen until 2007.


Read it and weep -- with anger! Mondrowitz's lawyer is lying, and if he gets away with it, Israel's Supreme Court will be lying too!! I'm also posting (with Michael's permission) an urgent letter he faxed to the Attorney General. The letter outlines the legal reasons why there should be NO question about sending this wanted, indicted multiple felon back to Brooklyn for the trial he deserves -- finally!

The amazing this is, with so much in the balance, NO ONE IS SPEAKING. Not the State Department (which ought to want to see its own extradition request carried out); not our Justice Department; not Israel's Ministry of Justice; and certainly not D.A. Charles Hynes!! Not a word from any of them!

Why not? Well, actually, we don't have to ask that... do we? What DO we have to do? Obviously, DO THE TALKING!! Our voices helped push the D.A. into finally asking for extradition in the fall of 2007; the publicity we generated got Mondrowitz arrested in Israel in November 2007; now we need to go public again! Let's let the people in charge know that we're watching this case, and if there is any dodge, any deal, any mealymouth about Mondrowitz's "rights," ANYTHING that keeps him from being sent back for trial -- we're going to have to know the reason why! And someone may pay for it!! No justice -- no peace!

Here's some contact information for people who ought to hear from the public: At the Brooklyn D.A.'s office, there's the sex crimes unit head:

JausR@BrooklynDA.org. You can let her know we'd appreciate hearing her voice, and her boss's, loud and clear, saying that Mondrowitz's extradition to Brooklyn is very important to the justice system and the entire community. She and Hynes have said they want to prosecute Mondrowitz: this is the right time to say that again, strongly. You might also ask her if she's sitting on the Mondrowitz file to frustrate a Freedom of Information Law request made over a year ago, in order to shed light on Hynes' recent actions in the case -- and still not responded to! You can also contact the D.A.'s Orthodox community liaison: WhiteH@BrooklynDA.org.

At the U.S. State Department, the public communication division phone: 202-647-6575. The main switchboard is 202-647-4000.

Israel's Ministry of Justice, public inquiries fax: 011-972-2-646-6357.

The message for these characters is that we're watching this case closely, we believe the law and facts clearly favor extradition and we hope their efforts toward achieving that result are completely successful.

Finally, there's Israel's High Court, Public Affairs Department. Phone is 011-972-2-675-9612 and 011-972-2-675-9613. I believe their email address is: tlunotrasham@court.gov.il and the fax number is 011-972-2-651-3191.

Bear in mind it's not proper to try to influence judges, so the message there is more or less: we are very interested in this case and its status; we know its history; we intend to continue to follow its progress. If they get enough calls, the word is sure to filter through. Remember: final briefs are being filed on TUESDAY, DECEMBER 23. A decision from the court will follow. If we wait until a dirty deal is announced -- God forbid! -- it will be too late.

THIS IS THE TIME TO MAKE OUR VOICES HEARD. Let's show that there are still responsible citizens out there, and Jews who care more for the victim than the criminal!

Wednesday, December 17, 2008


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{Via e-mail} We can’t allow HIS rav to keep covering for him and not force him to face his psak. I don’t understand why there are no organized demonstrations outside the Gerer Rebbe’s home and Yeshiva here and in E”Y, why there are no organized demonstration outside Mondrowitz’s home and the homes of his family both here and in E”Y. If this does not take place immediately and we wait for the OFFICIALS to do what they should do and not listen to the askanim backing him, justice will never take place.

Demonstrations should be legal and organized but they should take place immediately both here and in E”Y, round the clock. I know that he has at least one brother in Boro Park and maybe others. Some of you might know more. His family is protecting him and his friends are protecting him, NO ONE protected his victims. NOW IS THE TIME TO STAND UP FOR HIS VICTIMS. And honestly, I don’t want to hear about chilul hashem and being in the media, this would be the biggest Kidush Hashem to put this monster behind bars and make him the biggest example of what will happen to any molester who DARES to touch a yiddishe neshoma.


At the Brooklyn D.A.'s office, the best contact is Rhonnie Jaus, head of the sex crimes unit. Her email: JausR@BrooklynDA.org. You might also want to write to the D.A.'s liaison to the Orthodox community, Henna White, at WhiteH@BrooklynDA.org. These people should be speaking publicly about the importance of retrieving this wanted criminal for trial in New York's worst child sex abuse case. So should their boss, D.A. Charles Hynes. The U.S. State Department has the most direct responsibility for pursuing Mondrowitz's extradition: you can call its public communication division at: 202-647-6575. The main switchboard is 202-647-4000. Just let them know you care very much about the successful completion of the State Dept.'s efforts to extradite Mondrowitz. In Israel, the case for Mondrowitz's extradition is being argued by the Ministry of Justice. You can fax to the "Public Inquiries" number, which is: 011-972-2-6466357. Again, you can let them know how much the case means to us and our community. Of course, the actual decision is being made by Israel's High Court. It's improper to try to influence judges, so there's no way to contact them directly. However, you can call the Public Affairs Department at the court to express your strong interest in the Mondrowitz case and to ask how to follow its progress. The two numbers are: 011-972-2-675-9612 and 011-972-2-675-9613.

You can also email the Israel Supreme Court at:


It's case: 2144/08 Avraham Mondrowitz versus State of Israel

All support, actions and tefillos will be deeply appreciated by all Mondrowitz victims. Let's hope we can see justice done.

Michael Lesher, Esq.
Attorney for 6 Mondrowitz victims, author and activist


Archived Post --- Colmer is in prison awaiting trial!

Recently (June 14, 2007) Stefan Colmer was arrested in Israel at the request of U.S. authorities, who are seeking his extradition to stand trial in Brooklyn on charges of severe child sexual abuse involving at least two victims (ages 13-14), both Orthodox Jewish boys.

Sadly, it will come as no surprise to those familiar with these issues that Colmer is far from being the only party responsible for these crimes. Colmer's history of child abuse goes back more than ten years, and it was no secret to several rabbis, none of whom ever reported Colmer's crimes to authorities. Instead, Colmer was shuffled from community to community -- without so much as a warning to each new neighborhood -- while rabbis falsely claimed to victims that Colmer was "under control" or "being watched," and in some cases actively discouraged them from contacting police.

This is bad enough. But if we don't act quickly, another inexcusable injustice along the same lines will be committed. Even as Stefan Colmer's extradition is being sought from Israel for his crimes against our children in Brooklyn -- and despite pleas from victims and their advocates -- the Brooklyn District Attorney has so far refused to add an extradition request for Avrohom Mondrowitz, who has already been indicted for child sex abuse even worse and more extensive than the charges against Colmer. Under the current extradition treaty, Mondrowitz is subject to extradition just as Colmer is, and legally the case against him is ready for trial. Unfortunately, D.A. Charles Hynes continues to believe that the Orthodox community is unwilling to see Mondrowitz prosecuted for his heinous crimes against children, and is therefore -- amazingly -- ignoring this outrageous case.

WE MUST CHANGE THIS. NOW -- while the extradition of one child molester is being formally sought from Israel to Brooklyn -- now is the time to show the D.A. that WE WANT MONDROWITZ BROUGHT BACK FOR TRIAL TOO. This is a man believed to have abused or sodomized as many as hundreds of our children, and who has been living openly in Jerusalem for years, thumbing his nose at his victims.

WE MUST DEMAND JUSTICE NOW. With the recent improvement in the U.S.-Israel extradition, nothing is lacking to have Mondrowitz brought to trial but the will of the Brooklyn D.A. to stand up against the rabbis' wall of silence and demand the prosecution that is his legal obligation. It would be an insult to Mondrowitz's many victims if justice is selectively pursued for one hareidi child abuser who took refuge in Israel -- but not Mondrowitz.





Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Lack of Ethics

Oldie but goodie -- Appropriate in light of the Madoff scandal!

Lack of Ethics
Rabbi Gregory Marx

"I have a confession to make. I read the newspaper Jewish-style. I look for those articles that are about Jews and things that affect Jews. All events can be interpreted by the question, 'Is it good for the Jews?' 'Economy falters.' Is it good for the Jews? Middle East flare up…Is it good for the Jews? All heroes and criminals are subject to that probing question: are they Jewish and will their behavior influence public opinion about the Jews? ...

Tonight, I want to talk about other types of Jews who are in the news. And it doesn’t make me proud. I read recently that Jews from Israel are the leading importers of Ecstasy into this country. That’s right, the drug lords of New York speak Hebrew. Last summer, New York police seized over one million Ecstasy pills from Israelis David Roash and Israel Ahkenzi. They had a street value of forty million dollars.

Those of us who travel on El Al, are not only with Yeshiva students and Zionists, we are traveling with drug dealers as well. And who are the carriers?

According to the Jerusalem Report, Bobover Chassidim are paid $1500 and a free trip to Europe for carrying up to $500,000 in cash to Amsterdam and returning with a load of Ecstasy.

They travel back to Israel with 30,000 to 40,000 aspirin-sized pills, which are then sent to America, Australia and New Zealand for sale.

Colleagues that I work with have deeply disappointed me. In Florida, an Orthodox colleague of mine is currently in prison, serving a multi-year term for soliciting minors on the Internet. He solicited a 14-year-old boy and was caught establishing a liaison with the youth. In his depravity he decided not to prey on his Bar/Bat Mitzvah students, but went instead to outside youths that he met in Internet chat rooms and subsequently dark parking lots.

We still await the beginning of the retrial for a south Jersey rabbi who is accused of hiring a troubled man in his congregation to bludgeon his wife to death. Then there are the cantors from New York and Harrisburg who are accused of molesting young boys in their own family and beyond.

And of course, a neighboring synagogue suffered for the past year, having discovered that its trusted employee allegedly embezzled over $1.2 million. While the staff was taking pay cuts in order to stem the financial hemorrhage, two employees were allegedly cutting checks to themselves for thousands of dollars a week.

More often than I care to admit, Jews in the news are not making us proud ... Four Chassidim ripped off the government to the tune of millions and millions of dollars by getting federal grants for schools that didn't even exist! And that didn't stop their fellow Chassidim from coming to the defense of their cohorts by claiming they didn't keep any of the money for themselves.

The chief rabbis of the community defended their actions, because it was strengthening the religious efforts of the community against the evils of secularization. What is happening to our community?

Rabbi Elimelech Naiman was given a prison sentence for mail fraud and misappropriation of government funds. He was the deputy director of the Council of Jewish Organizations of Borough Park.

Rabbi Jacob Lustig got 3 years’ probation and a million-dollar fine for skimming more than 2 million dollars from his synagogue's bingo proceeds.

Rabbi Hertz Frankel got nabbed for cheating the government out of six million dollars.

Recently, Rabbi Yizchok Fried was arrested for dealing in drugs. Two Chassidim were jailed for rigging an election in England!

And headlines in the New York Post and Daily News told the world of the arrest of 14 Satmar Chassidim of running a multi-million dollars 'full service fraud factory,' which bilked banks, credit card companies, individuals and the IRS of millions of dollars.

These are just a few from within the Orthodox community!

Not only have Jews in the news sunk to moral lows, but worse still, they have failed to accept responsibility for their moral wrongdoings.

I will never forget officiating at the funeral of a mother of two infants who was stabbed to death by her husband from Monsey, New York. Her two children are too young to remember the events that changed their lives, but when they mature, they will sadly come to understand their loss of innocence, the intrusion of violence and the betrayal of trust that turned their lives upside down. One parent gone, another in jail for the murder. I know that it goes on all around us.

It’s part of the daily news that makes up the larger world. But I’m not talking to the larger world. I’m talking to our community. You’re the only ones who will listen.

We Jews are supposed to be a light unto the nations. We are supposed to define our characters by our behavior. And judging from the past years, we are in terrible shape ...

We are here to remind the world, that deeds not faith redeem the world. If we lose sight of this teaching, if we forget to live like decent people, then we lose the essence of our faith.

We have become irrelevant. The world won’t need Jews anymore.

With all these recent revelations and scandals, it's not so much my concern what God thinks about it, and it is not even my concern what non-Jews think and say about it.

My deepest concern is how our own Jewish children feel about it!

A congregant told me that she swelled with pride when she discovered her elementary school-aged children avidly reading a front-page story in the newspaper. But then she was horrified to learn what article they were reading.

It was the headline about jury selection for a rabbi accused of murdering his wife. Who would have dreamed that a Jewish standard bearer would gain national prominence before children’s eyes in this way? ... So yes, 'Why be Jewish?' is being asked by many. And 'Why marry Jewish?' is being asked by many more. Can I still say because of our moral passion?

Can I still say, that it’s because we Jews have historically taken the ethical high road?

What do I say when our children are bombarded every day with stories of Jews who are corrupt and have sunk to the lowest levels of inhumanity ???

Sunday, December 14, 2008

It's Not Just Individuals - It's The Community!

A telling post from Daas Hedyot sent in by Malach Hamovies!

It's Not Just Individuals - It's The Community!

Oftentimes in my life, when people discover that I used to be religious, they inquire as to why I chose to leave that lifestyle behind me. When I first encountered people asking me this, I would try to explain that the choice I made was a very personal one, based on what I concluded was right for me specifically, and that my decision wasn't intended to make a statement about the objective truth of Judaism in general. It's not that theological and ideological arguments didn't play a contributing part - they most definitely did, in that they significantly loosened the grip which my fundamentalist upbringing had held me in. And it's not that I was oblivious to all the scholarship (from science, history, biblical scholarship, and other fields) which challenged the veracity of Orthodox Judaism.

While I never did get too involved in those discussions, I was well aware of how powerfully they undermined many of the foundations of Orthodoxy. But more importantly, I knew myself, and I knew that what was really motivating me was the particular social and psychological needs which I was facing in my life. Orthodoxy was doing nothing for me (intellectually, spiritually, socially, emotionally, and in other ways) and even worse, I felt it was actively crippling me, by forcing me to subscribe to a lifestyle and value system which I didn't believe in at all.

So when someone would assume from my decision that it was an indictment of Orthodoxy as a whole, I would go out of my way to correct the mistaken impression. I would try to make it clear that while I was most definitely critical of aspects of that world, the community as a whole was not deserving of condemnation and that there were still many Orthodox people who I wholeheartedly respected (well, maybe "a few" is more accurate). But to presume that I was critical of Orthodoxy as a whole was an assumption that was not justified.

However, these days, when faced with this question of "Why am I not religious?" I find myself frequently questioning this approach I had previously settled upon. While it's obvious that the motivations for my choice couldn't have retroactively changed, the simple fact is that I am finding myself less and less able to look at the chareidi community that I came from and be able to describe it as anything other than a corrupt, dysfunctional, and totally unhealthy environment to be a part of.

The many recent indiscretions, dysfunctions, and outright misdeeds of individuals within the Orthodox community have been well documented in the media: Hundreds of sexual abuse cases being reported, including many by rabbis and principals (Kolko, Mondrowitz, Weingarten, Beis Yakov Principal, Satmar Principal in Williamsburg, West Bank Rabbi, Baltimore Rabbi), acid and bleach thrown at those not dressing modestly enough, beatings by modesty squads, attacking women who sit in the front of the bus, tax fraud by Hassidic Rebbes, infants killed by abusive fathers, indictments at glatt kosher slaughterhouses, eviction threats because of not being frum enough, etc., etc. I can keep on going, but I think the picture is clear. There's a lot of ugliness to be found within the chareidi community. A hell of a lot. This is way more than just a few isolated incidents.

However, despite the fact that these stories are appearing with ever increasing frequency, I don't think that these incidents are truly representative of the entire community. They are unfortunately more than just a few people, but I don't think that these sorts of extremely awful behaviors are actually widespread in the frum community. And I honestly don't think it's fair to tar the whole community with the transgressions of a small minority who make the rest of the community look bad.

The thing is though, that small minority of deviants aren't the reason that I think so negatively of the community as a whole. If it was only these incidents, I probably wouldn't be as critical as I am of the frum world. Rather, what fills me with such a repugnance is the behavior of the entire community itself, specifically in how it reacts to the many truly awful crimes happening in their midst.

For example, let's look at the child molestation issue: It's not just that there are child molesters in the community. Yes, that's awful, but as bad as it is, I'd concede that it's not more than a tiny percentage of the community, and I wouldn't judge the whole community based on just that. But what isn't a tiny percentage is the number of people who willfully and knowingly hamper efforts to bring these molesters to justice. What isn't a small number is the amount of people who would prefer to let these criminals remain free rather than risk sullying the reputation of their venerated institutions.

When a community as a whole allows such crimes to go unpunished and penalizes those who are trying to help innocent children, they can no longer hide behind the defense of "it's just a few lone individuals". At that point the community is also guilty. When the leadership (both rabbinic and lay) which the community looks up to is continuously silent on such a grave matter, it is a clear indication of where the community's priorities are.

When a community leader publicly admits that he has knowledge of hundreds of abuse cases, and yet his constituents prefer him to keep it all away from the police, the community has then become complicit in the crimes. When everyone cares more about what their neighbor is going to say about them, or their children's shidduch chances, or what yeshiva their kids will get into, or about being shunned by their friends (all commonly heard excuses for why no one wants to step up to the plate on any of these issues) - when they care more about all that than they do actually solving the problem, they're saying that they care more about maintaining the community's standards than doing what is right and just. That it's better to keep these things quiet.

This is why I can no longer look at the chareidi world with even a modicum of respect. The community as a whole has clearly expressed that they place the reputation of their society, and their place in that society, above the well being of their own children. How can anyone not be disgusted by such a society?

If the community truly cared, then it wouldn't ostracize people who try to bring the criminals to justice. If the community cared, a chassidish family wouldn't be afraid to tell the police who raped their 14 year old daughter. If the community cared it wouldn't stand behind and support a man convicted of killing his own baby (UTJ Knesset member Meir Porush called him a "good, quiet and disciplined" young man). If the community really cared, people wouldn't have to continuously be ashamed to report abuse to the police.

When last year, a chassidish man was found to be selling the Monsey community non-kosher chicken, the community showed how much they cared. The man and his family were run out of the community, in shame and in fear for his life. The community showed what they cared about then. And when the community allows accused child molesters to peaceably remain a part of their community, but those who try to help victims are harassed and attacked, they make it even clearer to the world what they care about. When a frum politician is able to back down on a promise to stop a molester from teaching kids, and no one demands that he keep his word, it shows where the community's concerns lie. When the rabbonim get more worked up about "illicit" music and "heretical" books than they do about yeshivas harboring molesters they reveal to us just what matters most to them.

This is why I have become so absolutely and utterly disgusted with the frum community as a whole. It is no longer just individuals committing these crimes. It is also the general public, and the leadership, which is responsible for allowing these horrible injustices to be perpetrated. It is the community and rabbis which turn a blind eye (or worse) towards these indiscretions. Their inaction, and relative silence (aside from a few vocal and brave activists), is a shocking admission of where their priorities truly lie. Their unwillingness to step up, and yes - risk condemnation and possible political fallout - is a clear indication of what the community values. If your community is going to condemn you for bringing a criminal to justice, isn't the community unambiguously saying that they prefer to protect criminals? Aren't they also then complicit in their crimes?

Admittedly, I know that there are many individuals in the community who are as horrified and sickened by all this as much as I am. Probably more so. But then why don't you speak up? I know the answer to that - because it's too costly for you. You will be shunned, ostracized, maybe even worse. I understand that. But how can you not be ashamed of yourself? With your silence, you are making a choice, a choice to be part of a society that prefers to let some of the very worst crimes of humanity - rape, violence, murder, abuse - go unpunished.

How can any self-respecting person - let alone one who considers themselves spiritual and religiously principled --- stand to be a part of this world?

Thursday, December 11, 2008

New York Magazine Investigative Reporter Seeking Sexual Abuse Survivors In The Orthodox Jewish Community

UOJ ARCHIVES MARCH 10, 2006 - 9:47 AM

And they thought I was bluffing!

I would ask everyone to send an e-mail to Bob, and tell him what a difference he's made with his award-winning article. We all owe him a huge debt of gratitude! Thanks once again Bob --- big-time!




My name is Bob Kolker, and I am a writer for New York magazine.
I am writing an investigative story about sexual abuse in
New York's Orthodox Jewish community, and I am writing this message in hopes of reaching out to people who are based in New York.

Specifically, I am hoping to interview survivors and tell their stories.

I understand that being interviewed might be a painful and difficult
thing to ask. But I have learned from interviews with experts how the
reporting of abuse is sketchy and perhaps even frowned upon
in certain parts of the Orthodox Jewish community.

The very difficult challenge I have ahead of me with
this story is to find the most accurate and sensitive way
to describe the difficulties suvivors have had in reporting
their abuse and getting the help they need. The best way to describe this to readers, I feel, is to interview survivors personally and learn what they went through.

The obvious goal of this story is to try to prevent future victims of
abuse from having the same problems. I hope that this story, as a work of advocacy journalism, can help raise awareness and sensitivity to this issue and to work toward the removal of a stigma for people who have been abused.

But for equally obvious reasons, I'm dedicated to being sensitive
toward my interviewees for this story.

Of course, I am more than willing to protect your anonymity
and to work with you on exactly how you would like your story to be presented. My only requirement is that I must interview people from the New York area.

A brief word about me: I have been a writer for New York magazine for seven years. I write mainly about public policy and criminal justice. My past stories include an investigation of airport safety and a close look at New York's public education.

Once again, I hope this isn't too much of an intrusion, but with your
help I am hoping to raise awareness and sensitivity to this issue.

You can call me any time at 212-508-0811, or email me at: robert_kolker@newyorkmag.com

Many thanks for your assistance,

Bob Kolker
Robert Kolker
Contributing Editor
New York Magazine
444 Madison Ave.
New York, NY 10022
office: 212-508-0811
mobile: 917-743-9843

Monday, December 08, 2008

From Main St. To Saddle River Road - Monsey, New York 10952

Beth Medrash Elyon
From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Beth Medrash Elyon is a yeshiva in Spring Valley, New York. It was considered one of the elite yeshivas during the 1950s and 1960s. It closed sometime during the 1960s due to disagreements among the leaders of the yeshiva. Its Roshei Yeshiva have included Rabbis Reuven Grozovsky, Gedalia Schorr, and Yaacov Kamenetsky. Among its graduates are Rabbis Yisroel Belsky, J.D. Bleich, Yosef Goldman, Nosson Scherman, Moshe Leib Rabinovich (current Munkatcher Rebbe), Lipa Margolis, and Professor Aaron Twerski. The two brothers, Rabbis Dovid Shustel and Shlomo Feivel Shustel studied there as well. Their father Rabbi Simcha Shustel was the Rosh Kollel.

The yeshiva reopened in the recent years. It is currently headed by R' Don Ungarisher, who is the son-in-law of R' Reuven Grozovsky.


I'm sitting on a very humble couch, in a very humble living room, in a very, very humble house in Monsey, New York. My cousin Rabbi Menachem is speaking passionately with my father z"l, sitting to my right.

I'm very young - I'm hearing words that I never heard before in conjunction with rabbis and Orthodox Jews. NEVER!

"Forged deeds, forged signatures, fraudulent notary seals, grand theft, embezzlement, defrauding Yeshiva Torah Vodaath of millions of dollars." New homes - being built on land owned by Torah Vodaath - but the new legal entity with all the official looking title documents and seals, called Batei Elyon Inc., had as officers, people by the names of George Schorr and Louis Septimus. These homes were built on Saddle River Road right behind Bais Medrash Elyon, on parcels still owned by Yeshiva Torah Vodaath - Brooklyn, N.Y., a non-profit corporation --- the holy of holiest of all yeshivas, (even though they had scumbags passing through like Aron Twerski, Yisroel Belsky and Lipa Margulies)--- once upon a time! Rabbi Menachem is gesturing, hands flailing in the air, and brings, what seemed like 50 pounds of legal documents to the couch. I'm feeling very ill, sensitive stomachs run in my family. I barely made it to the bathroom --- I puked my guts out all over the place!

In the early 1940's --- Rabbi Shraga Feivel Mendlowitz ztvk"l, had a vision of building a Torah community in a town nobody ever heard of --- Monsey. He had already picked out the local grocer to-be - Mr. Stern - to house a kosher market for the "soon to be thriving" Torah community. The principal and the first rabbi of the new Torah community was selected; Yeshiva of Spring Valley and Congregation Bais Yisroel were on the drawing board to be headed by Rabbi Dov Greenbaum z"l - a son in-law of RSFM.

So he convinced anybody and everybody that had a dollar to their name, and had a Jewish name - to fund the purchase of this huge tract of land - acres and acres of farmland with a few farmhouses, from Main St. to Saddle River Road - on behalf of Yeshiva Torah Vodaath.

Mr. Moshe Fensterheim a"h - told me that RSFM was a man with no shame - he asked R' Moshe, a talmid, for maaser money (to tithe) from his wedding gifts. One can only imagine the amount of wedding money R' Moshe received.


They laughed and scoffed "what did he know about building communities?" - he beat them up --- badly! So badly --- their grandchildren and great-grandchildren are devout Orthodox Jews. How's that for revenge?

The transaction happened -- a post-graduate yeshiva and a kollel was established --- Aish Dos and Bais Medrash Elyon. The first out of town Orthodox training ground for future rebbes in yeshivas, and the first kollel of its kind on American soil. Now RSFM was ready to implement yet another "crazy idea" --- an organization that was going to create a yeshiva day school movement, providing authentic chinuch to Jewish children in every major American city --- Torah Umesorah.

Back to the humble couch in Monsey.....

(To be continued... not necessarily in consecutive posts)

Sunday, November 30, 2008

In Mourning...

In deference to the hundreds of families in mourning for their loved ones slaughtered in Mumbai, India --- out of respect for the grieving Jewish Family around the world - I will suspend posting and comments until after the funeral of the Holtzbergs in Israel, whenever that takes place.

I just returned from a remotely located Chabad House, where I spent Shabbos. That was the only thing I could think of doing as a show of solidarity with my fellow Jews, as the horrific news tortured me on Friday.

I am not able to moderate or read the hundreds of comments and e-mails that poured in over the last few days.


Friday, November 28, 2008

Five hostages at Nariman House killed! "Black Friday" - Indeed!

Live Stream at - IN.COM

(AP)NEW YORK – A New York rabbi and his wife were among the dead in the terrorist attacks in Mumbai, India, slain in a Jewish center that they ran, the ultra-Orthodox Chabad-Lubavitch movement confirmed Friday.

Rabbi Gavriel Noach Holtzberg, 29, and his wife, Rivkah, 28, died in the attack on the movement's center in Mumbai, Rabbi Zalman Shmotkin said in New York.

The group said the three other victims in the building had apparently been visiting there. Shmotkin identified them as Bentzion Chroman, Leibish Teitlebaum and an Israeli woman whose name was not released.

The Holtzbergs' toddler son, Moshe, was rescued by an employee and taken to his grandparents.

More than 150 people had been killed since gunmen attacked 10 sites across India's financial capital, also known as Bombay, starting Wednesday night, officials said.

The U.S. State Department confirmed their deaths.

Members of the Chabad-Lubavitch movement gathered at the group's headquarters Friday to pray for the families of the dead.

"Gabi and Rivky Holtzberg made the ultimate sacrifice," said Rabbi Moshe Kotlarsky, vice chairman of the educational arm of Chabad-Lubavitch.

"As emissaries to Mumbai, Gabi and Rivky gave up the comforts of the West in order to spread Jewish pride in a corner of the world that was a frequent stop for throngs of Israeli tourists," he said.

Shmotkin said at least three of the five victims at the center held U.S. citizenship: Teitlebaum was an American from Brooklyn, while the Israeli-born rabbi, who moved to the U.S. as a child, and Chroman both had dual Israeli-U.S. citizenship. Officials here were not sure whether Rivkah Holtzberg, also born in Israel, had obtained dual citizenship.

Twelve hours after gunmen stormed the center Wednesday, Sandra Samuel, a cook at the center, heard little Moshe's cries outside the room in which she had barricaded herself. She opened the door, grabbed the toddler and ran outside with another center worker. The little boy's pants were soaked with blood, and Samuel said she saw four people lying on the floor as she fled.

The Holtzbergs arrived in Mumbai in 2003 to run a synagogue, provide religious instruction and help people dealing with drug addiction and poverty, Kotlarsky said.

Rabbi Yehuda Krinsky said Moshe will turn 2 on Saturday. "Today, he became an orphan," he said. A second son, who has been ailing, was with relatives in Israel when the attack happened. A third child died earlier this year of a genetic disease, the group said.


When Rabbi Gavriel Noach Holtzberg and his wife landed in India to run a Jewish outreach center, the couple worked tirelessly, serving homemade kosher meals to their many guests and strengthening their connection with God.

Their outpost was in Mumbai, a dusty and chaotic port city. But the pair never let the tough conditions prevent them from creating a comfortable home for Jews visiting India or from helping the needy.

"They were amazing people," said Hillary Lewin, 24, of New York, who met the Holtzbergs last summer at the center in India. "They had this wisdom, courage and braveness about them. It's a shame. The world needs people like them."

The 29-year-old rabbi and his 28-year-old wife were killed this week after gunmen assailed the ultra-Orthodox Chabad-Lubavitch movement's center in Mumbai, one in a series of attacks across India's financial capital that left six Americans dead.

The couple's toddler son, Moshe, was rescued by an employee and taken to his grandparents. At least eight people died at the Jewish center.


Israel Reacts to the Mumbai Massacre - Time.Com
By Tim McGirk / Jerusalem Friday, Nov. 28, 2008

Israeli TV channels were on the scene in Mumbai, covering the explosions and the lengthy siege, interspersed with gun battles, that ensued as commandos fought their way from adjacent structures onto the roof of the five-story guesthouse and then into the building itself. It was later confirmed that the Chabad center director, a young New York Rabbi, Gavriel Holtzberg, and his Israeli wife, Rivka, were among the five hostages found dead. Earlier, the couple's two-year-old son, Moshe, was rescued by an Indian maid who fled the building clutching the toddler. There are Chabad Houses around the world. Set up by the Chabad Lubavitchers, a Brooklyn-based movement of Orthodox, Hasidic Jews, the centers provide Jewish travelers with a place to pray in a synagogue, eat kosher meals, celebrate the Sabbath and keep in contact with their families by Internet. India is a favorite destination of Israeli back-packers and was considered fairly safe — until now. (See pictures here of the Mumbai terror.)

Israeli officials are waiting to hear if the Jewish hostages were killed when commandos stormed the building, which is in a crowded Mumbai residential neighborhood, or whether they had been slain earlier by their captors, presumed to be Muslim militants.

Soon after terrorists struck Mumbai on Wednesday, Israeil Defense Minister Ehud Barak offered to send help to India. "The attacks are part of a global wave of terror, which Israel is quite familiar with," Barak said. But India declined the assistance. Some Israeli officials voiced criticism over the way that Indian forces immediately began firing at the gunmen, rather than gathering intelligence on their adversary, or attempting to enter into negotiations with them first. Meanwhile, in India, rumors circulated that the Israelis had indeed been part of the rescue operation, a notion that may have been kick-started by the combination of Israelis staying at the Chabad house and the presence of foreign agents belonging to a security firm that happened to be in the Oberoi (also taken over by the terrorists) to prepare for the visit of an English cricket team.

Israeli officials were cautious about linking the attacks on the Chabad house to al-Qaeda or some of Israel's foes closer to home, such as Palestinian militants, Hamas or the Lebanese militia Hezballah. They say that the terrorists' target was foreigners, not just Israelis, and that the attacks against luxury hotels, restaurants, a hospital, a train station and Chabad house were designed for maximum shock value.

Israeli Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni said on Friday: "Our world is under attack, and it doesn't matter if it's in India or somewhere else. Only when things like this happen do we understand that we are partners in the same battle. This is a reminder to the world. We are the target, and it's not just Israel but the whole Western world. As we understand it, they were looking for guests with American, British, and Israeli citizenship." Several Israeli tourists and businessmen were among those held hostage in the Taj and Oberoi hotels but later managed to escape or were freed.

Israeli officials also remarked that the Mumbai gunmen never demanded the release of Palestinian prisoners from Israeli jails or even mentioned the Middle East conflict. Police say the gunmen spoke Urdu, a language of northwestern India and Pakistan, and their focus was on the disputed Himalayan state of Kashmir, where Muslim militants are fighting Indian troops for autonomy. Indian media reported that a terrorist inside the Chabad center phoned a local television channel to complain about abuses committed against Muslims in Kashmir by Indian troops, who are mostly Hindus.

"Ask the government to talk to us, and we will release the hostages," said the man, identified by the India TV channel as Imran. "Are you aware how many people have been killed in Kashmir? Are you aware how your army has killed Muslims? Are you aware how many of them have been killed in Kashmir this week?"


(AP) MUMBAI, India – Commandos who stormed the Mumbai headquarters of an ultra-orthodox Jewish group found the bodies of five hostages inside, an Israeli emergency medical crew said, as a fresh battle raged at the luxury Taj Mahal hotel and other Indian forces ended a siege at another five-star hotel.

More than 150 people have been killed since gunmen attacked 10 sites across India's financial capital starting Wednesday night, including 22 foreigners — two of them Americans, officials said.

Early Friday night, Indian commandos emerged from a besieged Jewish center with rifles raised in an apparent sign of victory after a daylong siege that saw a team rappel from helicopters and a series of explosions and fire rock the building and blow gaping holes in the wall.

Inside, though, were five dead hostages.

A delegation from Israel's ZAKA emergency medical services unit entered the building after the raid and reported through an Indian aide that five hostages and two gunmen were dead, a ZAKA spokesman in Israel said. The spokesman had no information on the hostages' identities or whether there were wounded inside.

Jewish law requires the burial of a dead person's entire body, and the mission of the ultra-Orthodox ZAKA volunteers is to rescue the living — and in the case of the dead, carry out the task of gathering up all collectable pieces of flesh and blood.

Moshe Holtzberg, the 2-year-old who was smuggled out of the center by an employee, is now with his grandparents. His grandfather told Israel Radio on Friday that he had no news of Moshe's parents.


NSG commandos have come out of the Nariman House amid cheering crowds where five hostages and two terrorists have been found dead inside the building.

Thousands of people have gathered outside the building. The Rapid Action Force is using lathis to control the crowd.

According to the announcement at the Nariman House, the operation is not yet over. An NSG Major and a commando have been killed in the operation. The NSG is combing Nariman House to ensure no more terrorists are inside.

Earlier, seven hostages were taken out from the building.


Mumbai: Five hostages have been killed by terrorists holed up inside Nariman House, a Jewish centre, in Colaba (Mumbai) even as National Security Guard commandos have secured major parts of the building.

"We had taken over the second floor of the house when grenade was launched from above. Three hostages were killed by terrorists before they moved upstairs. NSG commandos moved upstairs to kill two terrorists on the fourth floor. Terrorists killed two hostages in this floor," NSG Director General Jyoti Krishan Dutt said.

"Nariman House charge will be given to CRPF and Mumabi Police after the operation is over," Dutt said. "We are on the last floor and any time we will finish this operation," he said.

The fate of terrorists is still unclear.

The Jewish centre had earlier been badly damaged after a strong explosion took place at the third floor of the building.

Light a candle, take a pledge against terror

Your say: What can we do to make India safe?

At least six Israelis still held hostage in Mumbai

Portions of the Jewish centre have been damaged after rocket-propelled grenades were launched as part of terrorist flush-out operation.

National Security Guard commandos had stormed the building where at least four people were believed to have been taken hostage by a group of heavily armed terrorists.

There was heavy exchange of fire at Nariman House and terrorists also lobbed grenades on the commando team.

NSG commandos entered the building early on Friday morning after rappelling from a helicopter onto the roof of the Jewish centre.

Meanwhile, the death toll has risen to 155 while 327 others have been injured in the terror attacks that began on Wednesday night. The dead include eight foreigners.

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

US bans Chinese dairy products - FDA finds traces of melamine in US infant formula!

FDA finds traces of melamine in US infant formula - Associated Press
Reuters – US bans Chinese dairy products

Traces of the industrial chemical melamine have been detected in samples of top-selling U.S. infant formula, but federal regulators insist the products are safe. The Food and Drug Administration said last month it was unable to identify any melamine exposure level as safe for infants, but a top official said it would be a "dangerous overreaction" for parents to stop feeding infant formula to babies who depend on it.

"The levels that we are detecting are extremely low," said Dr. Stephen Sundlof, director of the FDA's Center for Food Safety and Applied Nutrition. "They should not be changing the diet. If they've been feeding a particular product, they should continue to feed that product. That's in the best interest of the baby."

Melamine is the chemical found in Chinese infant formula — in far larger concentrations — that has been blamed for killing at least three babies and making at least 50,000 others ill.

Previously undisclosed tests, obtained by The Associated Press under the Freedom of Information Act, show that the FDA has detected melamine in a sample of one popular formula and the presence of cyanuric acid, a chemical relative of melamine, in the formula of a second manufacturer.

Separately, a third major formula maker told AP that in-house tests had detected trace levels of melamine in its infant formula.

The three firms — Abbott Laboratories, Nestle and Mead Johnson — manufacture more than 90 percent of all infant formula produced in the United States.

The FDA and other experts said the melamine contamination in U.S.-made formula had occurred during the manufacturing process, rather than intentionally.

The U.S. government quietly began testing domestically produced infant formula in September, soon after problems with melamine-spiked formula surfaced in China.

Sundlof said there have been no reports of human illness in the United States from melamine, which can bind with other chemicals in urine, potentially causing damaging stones in the kidney or bladder and, in extreme cases, kidney failure.

Melamine is used in some U.S. plastic food packaging and can rub off onto what we eat; it's also contained in a cleaning solution used on some food processing equipment and can leach into the products being prepared.

Sundlof told the AP the positive test results "so far are in the trace range, and from a public health or infant health perspective, we consider those to be perfectly fine."

That's different from the impression of zero tolerance the agency left on Oct. 3, when it stated: "FDA is currently unable to establish any level of melamine and melamine-related compounds in infant formula that does not raise public health concerns."

FDA scientists said then that they couldn't set an acceptable level of melamine exposure in infant formula because science hadn't had enough time to understand the chemical's effects on infants' underdeveloped kidneys. Plus, there is the complicating factor that infant formula often constitutes a newborn's entire diet.

The agency added, however, that its position did not mean that any exposure to a detectable level of melamine and melamine-related compounds in infant formula would result in harm to infants.

Still, the announcement was widely interpreted by manufacturers, the news media and Congress to mean that infant formula that tested positive at any level could not be sold in the United States.

The Grocery Manufacturers Association, for example, told its members: "FDA could not identify a safe level for melamine and related compounds in infant formula; thus it can be concluded they will not accept any detectable melamine in infant formula."

It was not until the AP inquired about tests on domestic formula that the FDA articulated that while it couldn't set a safe exposure for infants, it would accept some melamine in formula — raising the question of whether the decision to accept very low concentrations was made only after traces were detected.

On Sunday, Sundlof said the agency had never said, nor implied, that domestic infant formula was going to be entirely free of melamine. He said he didn't know if the agency's statements on infant formula had been misinterpreted.

In China, melamine was intentionally dumped into watered-down milk to trick food quality tests into showing higher protein levels than actually existed. Byproducts of the milk ended up in infant formula, coffee creamers, even biscuits.

The concentrations of melamine there were extraordinarily high, as much as 2,500 parts per million. The concentrations detected in the FDA samples were 10,000 times smaller — the equivalent of a drop in a 64-gallon trash bin.

There would be no economic advantage to spiking U.S.-made formula at the extremely low levels found in the FDA testing. It neither raises the protein count nor saves valuable protein, said University of California, Davis chemist Michael Filigenzi, a melamine detection expert.

According to FDA data for tests of 77 infant formula samples, a trace concentration of melamine was detected in one product — Mead Johnson's Infant Formula Powder, Enfamil LIPIL with Iron. An FDA spreadsheet shows two tests were conducted on the Enfamil, with readings of 0.137 and 0.14 parts per million.

Three tests of Nestle's Good Start Supreme Infant Formula with Iron detected an average of 0.247 parts per million of cyanuric acid, a melamine byproduct.

The FDA said last month that the toxicity of cyanuric acid is under study, but that meanwhile it is "prudent" to assume that its potency is equal to that of melamine.

And while the FDA said tests of 18 samples of formula made by Abbott Laboratories, including its Similac brand, did not detect melamine, spokesman Colin McBean said some company tests did find the chemical. He did not identify the specific product or the number of positive tests.

McBean did say the detections were at levels far below the health limits set by all countries in the world, including Taiwan, where the limit is 0.05 parts per million.

"We're talking about trace amounts right here, and you know there's a lot of scientific bodies out there that say low levels of melamine are always present in certain types of foods," said McBean.

Mead Johnson spokeswoman Gail Wood said her company's in-house tests had not detected any melamine, and that the company had not been informed of the FDA test results, even during a confidential agency conference call Monday with infant formula makers about melamine contamination.

The FDA tests also detected melamine in two samples of nutritional supplements for very sick children who have trouble digesting regular food. Nestle's Peptamen Junior medical food showed 0.201 and 0.206 parts per million of melamine while Nestle's Nutren Junior-Fiber showed 0.16 and 0.184 parts per million.

The agency said that while there are no established exposure levels for infant formula, pediatric medical food — often used in feeding tubes for very sick, young children — can have 2.5 parts per million of melamine, just like food products other than infant formula.

The head of manufacturing for Nestle Nutrition in North America, Walter Huber, said in an interview that the company took samples alongside FDA officials who visited a manufacturing plant, and that those samples showed similar results to what FDA found for the two pediatric medical foods. Huber added that Nestle didn't fund cyanuric acid in any of the samples.

The FDA shared its results with Nestle a few weeks ago, Huber said. He said he wasn't sure whether Nestle had tested other of its products beyond what it did related to the FDA.

Rep. Rosa DeLauro, D-Conn., who heads a panel that oversees the FDA budget, said the agency was taking a "marketplace first, science last" approach.

"The FDA should be insisting on a zero-tolerance policy for melamine in domestic infant formula until it is able to determine conclusively based on sound independent science that the trace levels would not pose a health risk to infants," DeLauro said.

Rep. Bart Stupak, D-Mich., a frequent critic of the FDA, said: "If no safe level of melamine has been established for consumption by children, then the FDA should immediately recall any formula that has tested positive for even trace amounts of the contaminant."

Several medical experts said trace concentrations would be diluted even in an infant, and are highly unlikely to be harmful.

"It's just a tiny amount, it's very unlikely to cause stones," said Stanford University Medical School pediatrics professor Dr. Paul Grimm.

Dr. Jerome Paulson, an associate professor of pediatrics at Children's National Medical Center in Washington, D.C., said he didn't think the FDA's decision was unreasonable. He added, however, that the agency should research the impacts of long-term, low-dose exposure, "and not just assume it's safe, and then 15 years from now find out that it's not."


• Nestle's Good Start Supreme Infant Formula with Iron had two positive tests for melamine on one sample, with readings of 0.137 and 0.14 parts per million.

• Mead Johnson's Infant Formula Powder, Enfamil LIPIL with Iron had three positive tests for cyanuric acid, at an average of 0.247 parts per million.

Separately, a third major formula maker — Abbott Laboratories, whose brands include Similac — told AP that in-house tests had detected trace levels of melamine in its infant formula. Those levels were below what FDA found in the other formulas, an Abbott spokesman said, and below any nation's safety guidelines.

The three firms — Abbott Laboratories, Nestle and Mead Johnson — manufacture more than 90 percent of all infant formula produced in the United States.

Monday, November 24, 2008

All the Wrong Policies - Blundering Crooks In Leadership Roles!

The notion that people in leadership positions know what they are doing and care about your welfare, must be exorcised out of your indoctrinated brain. This foolishness was imbibed to you through your mother's milk and is destroying your life. It's like melamine in the Chinese milk, it's killing you, some quicker than others.

The *D-A-A-S - T-O-R-A-H* myth, lie and distortion, is destroying the Orthodox Jewish community -- tearing its guts out and creating - group - mental illness.

These so-called, self-appointed, rabbis/leaders, know nothing about the affairs of the world or care about your welfare. -- At most -- they may be able to explain a difficult R' Chaim.

A father approached me a while back and asked if I could explain the following:

His son -- a disciple of Rabbi Shmuel Feivelson of Monsey, New York (Eliezer Eizgrau's mentor and godfather), was given guidelines by Feivelson -- for dating. One of the guidelines was --- never to open the door of the car for the female -- on a date. It lacked, he said , of appropriate behavior for a ben Torah and a Torah way of life. It was the female, that had to figuratively open the door for him -- because, he, not she -- symbolized Torah.

Further, he said, the young man had to be certain that his potential mate was put into place right from the get-go. Is there any wonder that there is a shidduch crisis - with clowns like this offering Torah-prescribed dating advice?

Soon after -- Feivelson invited himself to address the kollel that I spent my then available time at. I decided that I was going to verify this crass, demented ideology. In brief, Feivelson verified as true, what was told to me. All, except for two people of the chavrei kollel, for their own reasons, waited until he walked in to the beis midrash, started his address -- and en-mass walked out.

Now this hallucinating idiot is advising young men -- on the do's and dont's of frum dating. There are a hundred upon hundreds of these frauds masquerading as rabbis, rosh yeshivas, and school principals, offering advice on topics they are ignorant of. What's worse, that these "pearls" are disguised as "daas Torah"!

There are hundreds if not thousands of frauds masquerading as "treasury secretaries" and in other leadership positions. The Feivelsons and the Paulsons of the world -- should be locked up in a criminal insane asylum.

The stock market is down 22% since Paulson's "bailout" of his Wall St. buddies --- the greatest financial crime in American history, and hundreds of people have left traditional Orthodox Judaism since the greatest crime on American soil by Jews has been exposed --- the cover-up of rabbi sex-abuse in our schools and community!

All the Wrong Policies: Paulson Gets 'F-Minus' from Former Regulator Posted Nov 21, 2008 02:52pm EST by Aaron Task

As bad a year as the stock market is having, Treasury Secretary Paulson is having an even worse one, according to William Black, Associate Professor of Economics and Law at the University of Missouri.

The professor, who was counsel to the Federal Home Loan Bank Board during the S&L Crisis and blew the whistle on the "Keating Five" in 1989, says Paulson deserves an "F-minus" for his role in the financial crisis.

"All of his policies made [the crisis] worse," says Black, citing Paulson's:

Pushing for more deregulation of the securities and mortgage businesses.
Failure to recognize the liquidity crisis in credit markets sooner.
Failure to act to stop foreclosures sooner.
Opposition to the government taking equity stakes in financial institutions, until very late in the crisis.
"And he gets the worst grade because as head of Treasury he's also in charge of banking and thrift regulation," Black continues, noting he "destroyed" rather than beefed up supervision. "I hope you like the consequences."

Black, author of "The Best Way to Rob a Bank Is to Own One," says there's ample reasons why the financial markets have lost confidence in the Secretary.

He also notes Paulson steered Goldman Sachs into subprime and alt-A mortgage securities before becoming Treasury Secretary in 2006. Goldman began shorting those instruments shortly after Paulson's departure, he notes.

The current crisis is "not a hundred-year flood, that suggests it's an act of God caused by random forces," Black says. "This was one cause by bad policies, the same policies that have caused prior crises."


Former Regulator: Clear Fraud in Financial Crisis -- Why Isn't Anyone in Jail?

Posted Nov 21, 2008 12:47pm EST by Aaron Task

In the aftermath of the corporate scandals earlier this decade, investor confidence was (partially) restored by a parade of "perp walks" of fallen chieftains like Ken Lay, Bernie Ebbers, and Dennis Kozlowski.

But nearly two years into the bursting of booms in housing and mortgage securities, scant few related arrests have been made — and most of those have been focused on individual mortgage brokers vs. major industry leaders.

"There is no poster child [for the housing scandal] because you need to investigate, and you need to bring cases and we haven't done either against the major players," says William Black, Associate Professor of Economics and Law at the University of Missouri — Kansas City and a former federal regulator.

Black, who was counsel to the Federal Home Loan Bank Board during the S&L Crisis and blew the whistle on the "Keating Five" in 1989, says investigations have shown fraud incidence of 50% at (once) major subprime lenders like IndyMac and Countrywide.

But even though the FBI warned of an "epidemic" of mortgage fraud in 2004, they subsequently made a "strategic alliance" with the Mortgage Bankers Association, which serves the major industry players.

In this case, the foxes truly were guarding the hen house.

Black notes it was only this year that the total number of FBI agents devoted to mortgage-fraud investigations rose to more than 200. By comparison, during the S&L and Enron investigations in the 1980s and '90s, respectively, multiple task forces totaling hundreds of agents were employed.

"The DOJ has refused to emulate its successes in the S&L debacle, and even dealing with Enron, by creating a large task force that would take on the major fraud participants," Black said. "In this context, that would mean creating a large task force to investigate major, nonprime lenders."

Thursday, November 20, 2008

The Continuing Agriprocessors Fiasco...

I choose not to comment on the legal troubles of the Rubashkins - atleast for now. For the news, well...it's available everywhere. I feel like hiding in a mountain cabin somewhere --- I'm sickened by what they've wrought on themselves, and on the furthering of the image of the Jew as money-grubbing thieves.

Thank you - the OU kashruth organization for your complicit involvement in this scandal. Were you to get out when the KAJ did - we would perhaps have avoided the "blood libel" media frenzy. They would have been unable to sell their foodstuff as kosher - and perhaps would have been just another slaughterhouse, not an ultra-orthodox Jewish owned - rabbis endorsed - Torah sanctioned business.

But of course, the rabbis always do what's best for the Jewish community.

To Hersh Weinreb - The executive vice president of the OU, once again you've sold out the interests of the Jewish people for your personal benefit, as you did in Baltimore when you were a rabbi there.

You were aware that Moshe Eisemann was a very ill person that was a danger to children, and you did nothing! Your retirement from Jewish communal life can not come too soon. Good riddance to another Shea Fishman type despicable criminal bozo!
Here Comes Steve: (I think he wants my job.)

"The OU is in the licensing business, first and foremost. To them it has nothing to do with kashrus, ethics or the prevention of chillul hashem. It's all about making a buck and the marketing of the OU brand. With Rubashkin, it was a no-brainer for them. They were cashing in for years, based solely on the OU brand, rather than actual hashgocho. For hashgocho, they relied on others, first the KAJ and then Weissmandl.

How reliable was that hashgocho, especially when the owners were of questionable integrity to begin with and the fact that non-kosher meat was constantly in contact with kosher? It didn't matter to the executives at OU Licensing LLC. They were making money and the fact that their logo was on millions of tons of "glatt kosher chicken" and beef was something for them to be proud of. Their executive board headed by CEO Menachem Genack and Kashruth Committee Chairman, the (dis)Honorable Dr. Steven Katz was turning a huge profit with this low-risk, low overhead enterprise.

Their logo became the Versace of the kashrus industry. Or so they tell people. Never mind that they had no presence whatsoever at the Rubashkin plant (Seth Mandel's occasional visit to pick up his check doesn't count), never mind that they affix their logo on thousands of products where they have no presence at the respective factories, never mind that they affix their logo on products that absolutely do not need any hechsher, WHO CARES? They made money and that's all that counts. When they had to actually hire a mashgiach for a restaurant that was under their "supervision", they pulled a Weissmandl and muzzled him! An injunction!

They shut him up! How dare Isaac Bitton state that the chef at Le Marais violated kashrus rules? Isaac is our employee and he must toe the company line. Hear no evil, see no evil, speak no evil! It would be hefseid merubah to lose an account like Le Marais, or chas veshalom, Rubashkin. Kashrus? Ethics? Chillul Hashem? Newspaper articles? They can handle all that. That was until the Rubashkin scandal reached epic proportions this past summer and Genack needed to save face by stating that they must hire a new CEO. No problem. In stepped Sholom's lawyer Bernie, the guy that helped get him out of the Allou money laundering case.

Problem solved!

Rubashkin is all kosher again. Meat for Yom Tov he claimed was the issue. Everybody go back to fressing on their salmonella and feces infested treife. Lawyer Bernie made everything all better, so now the OU can continue cashing in their licensing fees. Genack pulled off what he thought was a brilliant PR stunt.

I'm sure Katz helped him come up with it. After all, Dr. Simcha is no stranger to kashrus scandals. He himself was (is?) owner of Central Glatt Meats, partnered with Brach from L.I. In 1985, there was a small, minor problem, something about a truckload of treife meat, labeled as kosher, headed to NYC from Ohio that was luckily caught by government officials before it made its way onto our dinner plates. It's nice to know that the OU is always looking out for our best interests and making sure we only eat "strictly" kosher products. That's why they only hire the best in the business--that is the licensing business."

Wednesday, November 19, 2008


UOJ ARCHIVES - SEPEMBER 17, 2006 - On the two year anniversary of my "retirement"!

A while back I "retired" from actively and publicly being involved in all the Jewish organizations I was affiliated with. I decided that I can do more for my brethren privately, without fanfare or publicity. I was right. I set up a free loan fund, (gemach) a Tomchei Shabbos type organization, and felt I was helpful to many that were in dire straits.

I did not buy the Jewish newspapers, kept my opinions most of the time to myself, and went merrily about my business. I thought that I would want to keep a personal diary of my experiences, so I started writing as " UOJ - The Un-Orthodox Jew"; simply stated, there was very little I did in my life that was "conventional" or within any particular framework, other than my own.

So I started writing on topics that were important to me and infuriating. The more I looked at the written word, the more upset I seemed to get...Wondering about the therapeutic value of what I was doing. People were contacting me and encouraging me to write on, and were commenting in a passionate manner, pro & con.

The rest, as they say, is history.

I love Judaism and can't stand to see what happened to it. The more I read about the goings on, the more I verified the despicable information coming across my desk, the more I realized the extent that "organized" Orthodox Judaism has been destroyed.

I choose to save whatever remnants of emunah (faith) that remain; any more time I spend looking into the corruption and utter destruction of authentic Judaism, I risk losing all of my emunah. So I say farewell; I do not want to read anymore Jewish newspapers, magazines or blogs, I do not want to hear more and more of the destruction we are wreaking on our children and ourselves, and do not want to verify what I already know; organized Orthodox Judaism is on the precipice of self-destruction.

This is my last post. I will leave comment moderation on until Rosh Hashanah, and will be available by e-mail: a_unorthodoxjew@yahoo.com - until after Sukkot.

Wishing all Jewish people of good will a K'siva V'chasima Tova!


The UOJ diaries can be found on three blogspots.


Sunday, November 16, 2008

The Ethics of the Rabbis - The Forward - Gets It Exactly Right!

Where does one find "the emes and the law" in the Jewish community? Not in Dovid Zwiebel's mouth! Nor at the OU or in Hassidic communities ---- So where for God's sake does the lying, deceiving, cover-ups, feigned ignorance... get us - and where do we find Torah values? --- In a secular Jewish newspaper - the Forward!.... Moetzes resign, I'm pleading with you --- before you totally destroy whatever is left, not very much I might add, of Torah values in the U.S.A.!

The Ethics of the Rabbis - The Forward - Editorial

On the surface, the crisis besetting America’s largest kosher meatpacker looks a lot like the larger infection that is crippling the nation’s economy and undoing so many iconic brands, from Lehman Brothers to AIG to Circuit City. Like other firms, Agriprocessors fell victim to the arrogance of its owners and the dereliction of outside regulators. Like others, the crippling of Agriprocessors hits hard in thousands of households where daily life was dependent on the smooth operations of a trusted company.

Unlike the others, however, Agriprocessors’ downfall is not simply an economic crisis, but also a spiritual and moral one. Kosher food is not meant to be a mere foodstuff, but rather a vehicle for bringing sanctity into one of the most basic activities of daily life. Those who choose to live by that discipline rely on kosher certification to guarantee that the food they eat has been produced in a manner worthy of its spiritual mission. The behavior attributed to Agriprocessors and its owners — abusing employees, illegally hiring and endangering children, befouling the environment, overlooking sanitation rules — ought to disqualify the company’s products from receiving religious certification by any standard worthy of the name. That the products continue to be accepted as kosher, even as the company’s owners face massive fines and jail time on suspicion of misdeeds that have shocked a nation, is a scandal nearly as great as the owners’ actions themselves.

Ever since the Forward published its first reports two years ago on working conditions at the Agriprocessors slaughterhouse in Postville, Iowa, Orthodox rabbinic authorities have insisted that the violations attributed to the company are not directly related to the rules of kosher slaughter, and therefore are outside the certifying rabbis’ jurisdiction. Kosher certification, they have explained, follows time-honored biblical and talmudic principles that cannot be altered by modern rabbinic fiat. Many have derided and even ridiculed the Conservative rabbinate for seeking to develop a new form of certification, Hekhsher Tzedek, that would consider a company’s ethical behavior alongside its slaughtering techniques.

Besides, Orthodox rabbis told us, protecting workers and safeguarding the environment are the job of government, not the clergy. If the government with all its lawyers has not acted against the Postville plant, why should rabbis presume to?

The arguments were specious from the outset, as we have argued before. Kosher certification standards have been altered repeatedly over the years in response to behavior unrelated to the slaughter itself. A generation ago, kosher restaurants in New York were commonly open on Saturdays. Today the practice has all but disappeared, shut down by kosher certifiers. Kosher hotels in Israel used to offer New Year’s Eve parties, mixed dancing and even belly dancers. Nowadays such activities lead to loss of certification.

Rabbis routinely use their certification power to regulate activities that have nothing to do with knives. It’s one of the only enforcement powers they have in the modern world. Qualified rabbinic authorities could have used that power in response to growing evidence of Agriprocessors’ abuses. They did not. Instead, they crossed their fingers, hoped for the best and waited for the government to act.

Why did the kosher authorities not take action? Part of the reason was fear for the integrity of the community’s food supply. Agriprocessors had managed, by cutting costs and beating back the competition — in ways that deserve their own examination — to dominate the nationwide market for kosher beef. Rabbis feared that if the company were to stonewall in the face of a rabbinic threat of decertification they might be forced to ban much of the country’s kosher meat supply, leaving their public without a food staple.

In part, too, rabbis were deterred by mistrust of the labor, animal rights and other liberal groups that led the protests against the company. There was a widespread suspicion in the Orthodox community that the protesters were motivated by concerns other than simple ethics. Acknowledging the abuses, many thought, would have put traditional Judaism and the Jewish community in a bad light. In the choice between siding with critics and circling the wagons of their community, most Orthodox leaders chose the latter. Only a handful of mostly young activists chose to speak out against the abuse. Their protests were mostly ignored by the kosher consuming public.

In the end, events took their own course. Government authorities acted far more harshly than anyone had anticipated, with terrible results for both the kosher marketplace and the reputation of traditional Judaism. Agriprocessors was forced to shut down production amid a circus of theatrical law enforcement and front-page media coverage. News media across the country have responded gleefully to images of a company run by devout Jews, its primary mission to enable the observance of Jewish religious rules, acting in ways that violate the ethical and moral standards of everyone else. And the bottom fell out of the kosher meat supply.

For all that, it must not be forgotten that the real victims in this saga are the Agriprocessors’ employees whose mistreatment sparked the controversy in the first place. During the long months that Jewish community leaders debated the ethics of Agriprocessors and its certification, the mostly immigrant workers toiled on in largely unchanged conditions. The same long hours, short pay, dangerous conditions and on-the-job harassment that they had endured unseen for years continued in daylight while outsiders discussed whether and how to act.

And when the government finally did step in, as the rabbis had said it should, it did not act to protect workers’ legal rights and public safety standards — but rather to punish the workers for being on the job. In one of the largest workplace law-enforcement raids in American history, close to 400 Agriprocessors employees were arrested for immigration violations and taken without notice from their homes and families. In a move of astonishing callousness, authorities did not simply deport the detainees to their home countries, but first jailed them on charges of stealing identity documents — papers whose illegality the workers themselves had no way of knowing about.

Now, five months later, as our Nathaniel Popper reports, dozens of them are out of prison, their sentences completed, but they are not free. In a Kafkaesque turn of events, they are being held in Iowa so that they can testify against their former employers on charges of child labor and employing illegal immigrants. They cannot leave, they cannot see their families, they cannot yet work and the government will not provide them with the wherewithal to live while they wait. They live day to day on the charity of a Catholic church as they prepare to help the government prosecute their former abusers for the suffering that they continue to endure, now at the government’s hands.

The rules of kashruth are a legacy of the Jewish spiritual tradition, preserved by the courage of countless generations as a gift to the present. Dishonoring them and violating their spirit shames all Jews. Those who honor the laws must stand up to their abuse.

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Dear Avi Shafran,

Hey...it's been a while since we communicated directly. It's sure nice to see you checking in on my blog - like 40 times each day.

Seriously now, remember when we hardly knew each other -- like two years ago, when I respectfully asked for an invitation to address the urgent issue of child sex-abuse in the Orthodox Jewish community --- at the Agudah Convention? Sheesh...those were the good old days Avi. You were the "big macher" --- I was the "lunatic blogger". My, oh my --- seemingly our nicknames have switched owners. Dats life --- one day you're a macher --- the next day you're a lunatic!

So bubele ---- let me try again. You seem to be headlining the Convention with the "Kashruth" theme. I understand you will be having cows in every room (not the ones from Borough Park - those are behaimas) - nice twist instead of the Agudah yarmulkes --- ya know with the embroidered picture of a Catholic priest in heat.

I know a few things about kashruth and behaimas myself. Not as much as say - Nat Lewin - but enough to fake it and be entertaining at the same time. Whaddya say Avi --- we bury the mohel's hatchet, kiss and make-up, naa bad idea -- just let's make-up, send me an invite to speak, and let by-gones be by-gones. You may even get to like me if you gave yourself a chance. I'll even lay off the pummelling of you for a week or so.

I'll give you back your title as "big macher"... in truth - you truly deserve that honor - because Gertzulin tells me you've been walking around with full pants since we "met"..... Give me enough notice so I can stop off at Bencraft for a new hat.

Hope to hear from you --- regards to the boyz!



"Personally, I'm looking forward to the fressfest. I can't wait to see who they trot out there to defend the Rubashkins and cry out "ant-semitism, nazism, blood libel, etc." This line of defense and excuses would be so laughable if not for the tragic state that Orthodox Judaism is in. Between the kashrus scandals, the child sexual abuse plague, "frum" white-collar crime, OTD teens, lack of formal education in yeshivos, the abuse of the kollel system, the geirus industry, political in-fighting, modesty patrols and ridiculous bans, you would think that this self-appointed representative organization of Orthodox Jews would have more important things on their agenda than trying to resurrect a totally corrupt meat business. Not just any corrupt meat business, but a family business that was deceiving unwitting kosher consumers for over twenty years and showing a total disregard for both religious and secular law. WHY???

The answer is simple, just like it was two years ago when they dedicated their plenary session to UOJ: HEF$EID MERUBAH!!!! Too many chashuva families and companies were benefiting from the Rubashkins. From the rav hamachshil, to the meshichist shochtim, to the muzzled and blindfolded "mashgichim", to the licensing, er, kashrus agencies, to the PR firms, to the heilige lawyers, to the yeshivos who received "charity" in return for lucrative contracts, and last but not least, the Pesach hotel-type fressers who care more about their stomachs than the massive chillul hashem and their own timtum halev. To the Agudah, this is an emergency situation! MI YAACHILEINU BASSAR??? Or better yet, MI YAACHILEINU MAMON??? First amendment rights! Meat shortages! Vayishman Yeshurun Vayivaat Shamanta Avita Kasita! We need twenty more years of Rubashkin abuses, chillul hashem and treifos!

Two years ago, after UOJ exposed the child sexual abuse plague and coverup in our midst, instead of planning an emergency session to deal with this scourge, they decided to attack the messenger. WHY??? They need to protect the status quo!!! HEF$EID MERUBAH!!! Who will come to our next dinner if the truth is exposed? What if we get sued and have to pay a settlement? What if some yeshivos get sued? Oy vey! This is their only concern. Not the children, not the community, not kashrus, not Torah, not chillul hashem, not education, not peace and tranquility, not ahavas yisroel, NO!!! MONEY!! That's all that matters. Elokei Kessef Veelokei Zahav! That's what's on the agenda. Pass the pastrami."

Anonymous Adds!

The NY Times and The Jewish Week stories...Hikind subpoena...Yudi and Lipa, look at what you have wrought. Think back a couple of years to UOJ's offer...Yudi leaves YTT and everything goes away...sounds like a pretty good offer now, doesn't it? Stupidity and Gaiva...what a price to pay.


Sunday, November 09, 2008

Unrepentant Idiots!

You know the type! You talk to them until you're blue in the face --- and nothing! That dumb look - glassy-eyed - deer in the headlights - the imbecilic non-response!

The Agudath Israel hoodlums had to be chained to the back of a Borough Park Lincoln Navigator and dragged through the muck - to get them to agree - to what any sane person should understand; mandatory fingerprinting and background checks on people who work around children - is not optional. Any lowly job in government --- any employer who deals in "precious jewels" - does background checks.

Yet, these unrepentant idiots had to be shamed into agreeing with this most logical, sensible, humane requirement.


It began with Moshe Sherer's brand of narcissism. Sherer understood too well - you did not need substance to succeed in the political arena. He was the prime example of that --- the Elvis --- the king of bling!

Surround yourself with respected rabbis initially - manipulate the heck out of these tired senior citizens - wear them down and overwhelm them with your linguistic chicanery - take their words and thoughts and twist them until they mean nothing. Throw parties and conventions - put these rabbis on display at the dais - and poof - they are viewed by the gullible masses as endorsing Moshe Sherer!

Moshe Sherer, the Obama-like master manipulator of people, had the gift of charisma - was a superb orator --- but was a man obsessed with himself; his welfare, his agenda, he was totally devoid of substance, and only promoted what was good for Moshe Sherer.

He was the consummate "community organizer" and the Agudath Israel was his ACORN! Lie, cheat, manipulate, create facts out of lies, raise all kinds of money from all kinds of people.... Surround yourself with yes-men - who, if had the ability to think on their own - you got rid of --- or never hired them in the first place.

It is no wonder that Rabbi Shraga Feivel Mendlowitz ztvk"l threw him out of Yeshiva Torah Vodaath and warned Rabbi Ruderman z"l of Ner Israel, that "Sherer needs to be carefully watched."

It is little wonder to me that Rabbi Yaakov Kaminetzky ztvk"l, said about Sherer --- "he has a "chezkas shakran."

For a period of about one year, I interacted with Moshe Sherer on a weekly basis. To describe him as an eloquent huckster is way too kind....And that was the legacy he left to Bloom, Zwiebel and Gertzulin. (I happen to like Gertzulin)

Therefore, it is no surprise to me that the Agudath Israel is - what it is - nothing!

Then you add some bargain basement 99 Cents Stores interior decorating; Shmuel Kaminetzky, Yaakov Perlow, Aron Schechter, Aron Feldman, A.C. Levin....and voila --- you got the Playboy Mansion, without the playboy!

But the hookers remained!




We are looking for dedicated responsible orthodox women to work on a helpline for survivors of sexual abuse and molestation. Training and helpline are both at Beth Israel Medical Center in Manhattan.

For more information or to schedule an interview please call Carole Sher at 212-420-4516.

Tuesday, November 04, 2008



Jonathan Rosenblum's focus below is the Obama/Israel scenario, which I happen to agree with. I am duly concerned with Obama's "American agenda" for all Americans, that would turn this proud country into a nation of proud beggars - and totally be at the mercy of an all-powerful government that would punish the wealthy, and institute a really ugly version of "social justice".

Israel had sixty years to get their economic house in order --- instead they too are an economic basket-case, counting on the U.S.A. for their daily (military) bread. The leaders of Israel should understand now and forever that they have nobody to count on --- but themselves (maybe). They should have seen this coming - and just as they were able to construct industries based on foreign "investment" rather than hand-outs, they must realize that the Americans had enough of supporting foreign countries with grants and other financial aid, as this country slides into a very deep recession.

Regardless of who wins the election - and I pray that the Republicans do, the party is over, and should be over, for an Israeli populace who has lost their pride and turned themselves into a country of shnorrers! We never learn --- we are on our own --- sans a reprieve here and there.

Who Says Jews are Smart?
by Jonathan Rosenblum


Arab-Americans overwhelmingly support Senator Barack Obama for president. So do Jewish-Americans. One of these two groups either does not care much about the Arab-Israeli conflict and/or is stupid. My money is on the Jews.

American Jews care less and less about Israel. Over 50% of non-Orthodox Jews under 35 say they would not view the destruction of the State of Israel as a personal tragedy. Israel is not a popular cause on college campuses. Many Jewish students struggle against being identified with Israel, lest it complicate their social lives. In the under 35 cohort, only 54% profess to be comfortable with the idea of a Jewish state.

Other Jews who still find it uncomfortable to disavow concern with Israel have convinced nevertheless themselves that it is in Israel’s best interests to be forced back to the 1949 armistice lines. A talkback to a recent Jerusalem Post piece of mine nicely captures the mindset.

Nathan Berkowicz writes: “What do you expect us Jews to do, hold the Palestinians hostage forever? Get your head out of the sand and wake up to the fact that we are going to have to hammer out a peace deal, a real peace deal, if for no other reason but to show ourselves that we are willing to humanely and fairly deal with a problem we created for ourselves.”

Berkowicz places the exclusive onus on Israel for the creation of the Palestinian problem – either by virtue of its creation or for having the effrontery to win in 1967. In addition, he blames Israel for the failure to achieve a “real peace deal.” The infamous “three No’s” of the Arab League in response to the Israeli offer to withdraw from the West Bank after the Six Day War played no role; ditto Arafat’s decision to return to open warfare and reject Prime Minister Ehud Barak’s offer of well over 90% of the West Bank at Camp David. Finally, Berkowicz wants the Jews of Israel to demonstrate their humanity. He never mentions ensuring their own survival as a desideratum. So goes the “pro-Israel” case for Obama.

THOSE WHO SEE ISRAEL’S SALVATION in its being pushed back to its 1967 borders have good reason to eagerly anticipate an Obama presidency. Obama has described the Palestinian-Israeli conflict as a “sore, . . . infect[ing] all our foreign policy,” and placed return to the “peacemaking” of the Clinton years is at the top of his foreign policy agenda.

The express goal of that “peacemaking” will be an Israeli withdrawal to its 1967 “Auschwitz borders.” In a June interview with Jerusalem Post editor David Horowitz, Obama said he can understand Israel’s desire for “‘67 plus” in terms of security buffers, but Israel should consider whether it would be worth the cost in Palestinian antagonism.

The overwhelming majority of Israel’s Jews dread a return to the Oslo process, which claimed 1,471 Israeli lives in terrorist attacks, without bringing peace any closer. Oslo made a fetish of process over actual peace, as a pattern of concrete Israeli concessions in return for recycled Palestinian promises took shape. Obama offers more of the same: “Israel’s government must make difficult concessions for the peace process to restart,” he says.

On security grounds alone, the vast majority of Israelis oppose further territorial withdrawal from the West Bank at present. Earlier withdrawals from southern Lebanon and Gaza resulted in the creation of heavily armed Iranian proxies on Israel’s southern and northern borders. Israeli intelligence predicts that Hamas would quickly take over the West Bank as well in the event of an Israeli withdrawal. The near elimination of successful terror attacks from the West Bank since 2002 demonstrates that only Israeli troops and on the ground intelligence gathering capabilities can deter terrorism.

Oslo taught that peace cannot be imposed from the outside and has nothing to do with signed agreements. Only a bottom-up transformation of a Palestine society would make peace possible, argues Natan Sharansky, and that transformation has never seemed so far away after the Hamas takeover of Gaza.

Even the “moderate” Mahmoud Abbas recently declared a festive celebration in honor of the leader of the Coastal Road Massacre in which 37 Israelis were murdered. Demonization of Israel and Jews continues unabated in the official Palestinian media. No wonder three-quarters of Palestinians say that reconciliation with Israel is impossible in this generation, even after the signing of a peace agreement and creation of a Palestinian state.

The greatest threat to Israel’s existence is a nuclear Iran. By calling for direct American-Iranian negotiations, without offering anything new to the Europeans’ approach over the last five years of unconditional negotiations, Obama only grants Ahmadinejad more time and increased internal legitimacy. And by linking any sanctions to Chinese and Russian cooperation, he dooms those efforts from the start. Bottom line: an Obama presidency guarantees a nuclear Iran.

And all this leaves aside dozens of troubling Obama associations. For twenty years, he sat complacently in the church of a pastor – “my spiritual mentor” – who spewed contempt for whites, America, and Israel.

Virtually his whole public career has been closely intertwined with the unrepentant former Weatherman William Ayers.

Another member of Ayers’ Hyde Park circle was former PLO official and the current Edward Said Professor at Columbia University, Rashid Khalidi, whom Obama credits with opening his eyes to the plight of Palestinians. He has been heavily funded by the virulently anti-Israel George Soros.

Obama has numerous ties to the Nation of Islam, in particular through Tony Rezko, the convicted, Syrian-born racketeer, who partly paid for Obama’s home.

Obama’s foreign policy advisors have included: Zbigniew Brzezinski, Jimmy Carter’s national security advisor and thirty-year critic of Israel; Samantha Powers, who has called for an end to aid to Israel and the introduction of American forces to protect the Palestinians; and Robert Malley, who has made a career of advancing, together with a former Arafat advisor, a revisionist account in which Israel was responsible for the breakdown of Camp David.

Even the Republicans touted for an Obama cabinet – Chuck Hagel and Richard Lugar – have been among the handful of senators, sometimes the only ones, to consistently oppose sanctions against Iran, Syria, and Saddam Hussein’s Iraq. Hagel laments the intimidation on Capitol Hill by the “Jewish lobby.”

No doubt the “pro-Israel” Obama supporters have good explanations of why none of these relationships are of concern. After all, why did G-d make Jews so smart if not to prove the emperor is fully-clothed.