Saturday, July 09, 2016

Yaron Shmuel, Oded Ellner, Omer Marmari,

June 29, 2001, Virtual Jerusalem, Palestinian agent kills Israeli handler, by Amos Harel, Courtesy of Ha'aretz,

October 5, 2001, The Jewish Weekly [NY] Israel Deflated After War Not Joined; Will Israeli wartime leaders be a Churchill or a Lewinsky?, by Jonathan Mark,

October 12, 2001, The Jewish Weekly [NY] Israel Put At Center Of Holy War; Jerusalem dismisses bin Laden charge that Palestinian conflict prime reason for terror., by Stewart Ain - Staff Writer,
October 12, 2001, The Jewish Week, Silence In The Face Of Evil 'Holy war' against America and Jews, by Eric Greenberg, Staff Writer,

November 2, 2001, The Jewish Week [NY] Caught In A Dragnet, by Stewart Ain, Staff Writer,

November 30, 2001, The Jewish Week [NY] Detained Israelis Allege Brutal Treatment; Here ‘It was a nightmare,’ said one held since Sept. 11, by Stewart Ain, Staff Writer,


June 29, 2001, Virtual Jerusalem, Palestinian agent kills Israeli handler, by Amos Harel, Courtesy of Ha'aretz,

Intelligence officer's bodyguard then shoots attacker dead; another guard hurt

A senior IDF intelligence officer was killed yesterday morning near the Tunnel Road by the Palestinian agent he had gone there to meet. Army investigators suspect that severe security lapses on the officer's part contributed to the murder.

Lieutenant Colonel Yehuda Edri, 45, of Ma'aleh Adumim, is the highest-ranking officer killed during the current Intifada. He was buried last night in Jerusalem's Mount Herzl cemetery. He is survived by a wife and three children.

One of Edri's bodyguards, an IDF soldier, was moderately wounded in the jaw and throat by the attack, and is being treated at Hadassah Hospital in Jerusalem. The other succeeded in killing the perpetrator, Hassan Abu-Sha'aria.

Military investigators believe Abu-Sha'aria was probably pressured into the attack either by his comrades in the Fatah movement or by Palestinian security services.

The attack occurred at 10 A.M., at the northern end of the road, which leads from Jerusalem to Gush Etzion. This site is a few hundred meters south of Jerusalem's Gilo neighborhood. Edri was waiting there in his car for a meeting with Abu-Sha'aria, a 23-year-old Fatah activist from the Aza refugee camp near Bethlehem.

When Abu-Sha'aria arrived, he approached the car, pulled out a pistol and shot Edri at point-blank range. The shots wounded one bodyguard, but the other soldier got out of the car and gave chase. He caught up with Abu-Sha'aria about 30 meters from the road and shot him; Abu-Sha'aria died of his wounds shortly thereafter.

Investigators have learned that Abu-Sha'aria spoke with Edri by cellular phone shortly before the meeting. According to one account, which is still being checked, he asked Edri in this conversation to send away the bodyguards and meet him alone, but Edri refused.

Military Intelligence is investigating the incident carefully to determine whether it needs to change the procedures governing meetings between Palestinian agents and their Israeli operators. But several puzzling facts have already emerged. For instance, the guards apparently never searched Abu-Sha'aria. In addition, it is not clear why all three Israelis were in the car while the Palestinian was outside; standard procedure would have called for the bodyguards to take up positions outside the car.

According to Shin Bet regulations, adopted after two Shin Bet officers were murdered by the agents they handled in the early 1990s, handlers should not meet their agents in the field at all. Instead, guards meet the agent and bring him to a different location, where the handler is waiting.

According to IDF sources, Edri was one of his unit's most veteran officers, with years of experience in handling Palestinian agents. He had been in contact with Abu-Sha'aria for several months.

Palestinian media reports yesterday described Abu-Sha'aria as a Fatah member, and some added that the attack was in revenge for the IDF's killing of a senior Fatah official, Hussein Abayat, in Bethlehem last November. The Palestinians claim that Edri was responsible for Abayat's death.

Another report, on Voice of Palestine radio, said that Palestinian security services had suspected Abu-Sha'aria of being an Israeli agent. If this were the case, it is likely that either Fatah or the security services pressured him to kill Edri in order to clear his name.

(c) 2001 Ha'aretz


October 5, 2001, The Jewish Weekly [NY] Israel Deflated After War Not Joined; Will Israeli wartime leaders be a Churchill or a Lewinsky?, by Jonathan Mark,

Yes, it was exactly like Pearl Harbor. America’s new war was an old war for the Jews. By Dec. 7, 1941, the first of the Six Million had been dead for eight years. Munich (or was it Oslo?) was deep in the past. To say that we Jews lost our innocence on Pearl Harbor day would be obscene. So it is with this new Day of Infamy. This new war, for Jews, is already an old and deadly one.

Asked by The New Yorker (Sep. 23) to write about the World Trade Center, novelist Aharon Appelfeld felt he had to write about Jerusalem: "For almost a year now, Jerusalem has been under siege. Not a day goes by without something terrible happening: a man stabbed on a quiet street, a bomb exploding from a watermelon, a booby-trapped car.... I used to feel that those of us who had suffered in the Holocaust were immune to fear. I was wrong. We are more sensitive to danger. We can smell it."

James Taranto, in The Wall Street Journal (Sep. 21), praised Pres. Bush, with "greatness thrust upon him," for responding with "an eloquent, soaring address to Congress" that united the country.

With Jerusalem "under siege," did Prime Minister Sharon, or Barak before him, or did any Jewish leader unite our people in a similar way over the past year? Did any Israeli leader dare to pressure the world, as did Bush by saying, "Either you are with us, or you are with the terrorists?" The Jewish Observer (Sept.) sadly notes, "One after another, Jews are murdered, families are destroyed, and we just krechtz, and move on."

Krechtz, we did. The Israeli media didn't mention Winston Churchill in the last year, other than to compare Ariel Sharon.s appointment of Shimon Peres as foreign minister to the improbability of Churchill appointing Neville Chamberlain as his. Nothing in Israel seriously reminded anyone of Churchill, no quotes or inspiration. By contrast, in the past three weeks, the U.S. media was full of references to Churchill; our president and mayor and leaders and editorials quoted Churchill and evoked him, although in 1940 Churchill didn’t have much of a military or political solution either. But Churchill didn’t krechtz.

After Black Tuesday, at least briefly, the krechtzing stopped. Israeli papers hoped the U.S. would get the message. Yediot Ahronot (Sept. 12) thought the deadly hijackings would propel Israel into the world's heart. Maariv (Sept. 13) was excited by this "rare opportunity to turn public opinion Israel's way and take the diplomatic and military steps that it has avoided to this point from fear of the international reaction. After seeing the Palestinian celebrations the world now has a better idea of who we are dealing with." (Yes, the story of Palestinians celebrating the WTC attack was widely reported). There was a solution, after all. Hatzofeh (Sep. 13) said, "Common sense dictates that Israel must open a determined and crushing offensive against all the terrorist branches in the territories. One must hope that starting two days ago, the world understands in a different way."

Instead, Israel's dreams were quickly deflated. Rather than the Roosevelt-Churchill partnership, President Bush had another relationship in mind: "Monica Lewinsky," writes the Israeli paper Hatzofeh (Sept. 23): Jews must love and do America’s bidding but never be acknowledged in public as America's darling, and never, but never, get into any fights that make it awkward for the sugar daddy. In public, Israel must not say a word while the U.S. will publicly promenade with the very Arab bloc that wants Israel dead.

"The assumption is," writes Hatzofeh, "that Israel is capable of taking every possible slap in the face, an assumption which - in light of the Sharon government’s conduct - is hard to refute."

Even the left-wing Haaretz (Sept. 23) warned that the willingness of Peres “to turn a blind eye and meet with Arafat, nearly at any price, also signals to the head of the Palestinian Authority that he can continue playing with Israel while continuing the violence, in accordance with his political needs and requirements at the time.”

The trouble is, offers the Jerusalem Post (Sep. 24), Peres "seems to be constantly attempting to lower, rather than raise, the standard of what is being expected from Arafat. If the Bush administration announced that it would meet with Osama bin Laden after 48 hours of 'absolute quiet,' it would be the laughing stock of the world."

Nevertheless, American media sentiment is growing against Israel, with The Washington Post, Salon, The Los Angeles Times, the Sacramento Bee and the Boston Globe, among others, running editorials rebuking Sharon for opposing an Arafat-Peres meeting, or suggesting that Israel is getting too uppity and high-maintenance.

America has reacted to the horror by turning to God, writes Peggy Noonan in the Wall Street Journal (Sep. 28), noting that new de facto national anthem is "God Bless America." Noonan adds, "I find myself thinking in mystical terms of President Bush's speech to Congress and the country.  It seemed to me a God-touched moment and a God-touched speech."

Moshe Feiglin (who has contended for Likud leadership) writes in Arutz Sheva (Sep. 30) that he was taken aback when President Bush declared a day of prayer: "Now that's interesting, I think to myself, I can't recall an Israeli Prime Minister who declared a day of prayer. [But] Americans sing "God bless America." Israelis have lost their connection to God in their anthem, and all that remains is a dismal hope for a meaningless sort of freedom."

Jonathan Mark’s e-mail address: jonathan


October 12, 2001, The Jewish Weekly [NY] Israel Put At Center Of Holy War; Jerusalem dismisses bin Laden charge that Palestinian conflict prime reason for terror., by Stewart Ain, Staff Writer,

As the United States and Britain launched air and missile strikes against targets in Afghanistan in its war against terrorism, Israel — which has been fighting terrorism for much of its existence — found itself being blamed by Osama bin Laden for his holy war on America.

But Israeli officials, though concerned, dismissed bin Laden's claim as a "red herring."

In a taped speech broadcast after the U.S.-British assault began shortly after noon Sunday, bin Laden, the prime suspect in the assaults on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon that killed more than 6,000, linked those actions to the Palestinian issue.

"Israeli tanks are wreaking havoc in Palestine — in Jenin, Ramallah, Rafah and Beit Jala and other parts of the land of Islam, but no one raises his voice [in protest] or bats an eyelid," he said.

"The Islamic nation cannot accept the crime of the establishment of Israel, which has been ongoing for 50 years. You American people and the whole world should know that we will not tolerate a recurrence of the Andalusia tragedy [the end of Moorish rule in Spain] in Palestine," bin Laden went on. "We would rather see this whole [Islamic] nation perish than see al-Aqsa Mosque destroyed. We cannot accept that Palestine will become Jewish.

"I swear by God that America and those who live in America won’t dream of having security before we have it in Palestine and all infidel armies depart from the land of Mohammed."

Dore Gold, an adviser to Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon, said bin Laden was "using the Palestinian issue as a red herring to distract attention from his real goals, which are first and foremost the removal of the American presence from the Arabian peninsula and freeing Iraq from United Nations sanctions. The issue of Israel appears only a distant third in his priorities."

Gold noted that when bin Laden spoke of the infidel armies in the land of Mohammed, he was referring "not to Israel but rather to the Hiraj, that portion of Saudi Arabia where the holy cities of Islam are located [and the American military has a base]. That is his real priority. For bin Laden, Israel is a sideshow.

"Nevertheless, he is following the strategy of [Iraqi President] Saddam Hussein, conveniently pointing to the issue of Israel in order to split the Muslim world and pull it away from the American-led war on terrorism."

Foreign Minister Shimon Peres also questioned bin Laden's claims, telling Israel Radio that Israel had offered the Palestinians "liberation without war."

"Who needs him?" Peres said. "There was a difference of opinion between us and the Palestinians over 3 or 4 percent of the territory. Is this the reason to kill 6[,000] or 7,000 people in New York? Just because of one lunatic — who appointed him? What did he bring to the world besides murder, killing, hatred and idiocy?"

Sharon issued a statement saying Israel would keep a "low profile" and "continue to offer assistance...but not take part" in the war. He added that "Israel has taken the defense measures necessary to protect its citizens."

Avrum Burg, speaker of the Israeli Knesset, said Israel had no specific warnings of any planned attack by bin Laden or his supporters. But he said: "When you chop wood in the forest, sometimes chips fly," alluding to the possibility that bin Laden might strike at Israel.

Burg noted that Israel for years has been fighting its own Islamic extremists — Hamas, Islamic Jihad and Hezbollah — in addition to forces within the Palestinian Authority.

"One way or another, we are [always] in a state of alert," he said.

But Burg noted that Israel had to "do our best to lower our profile to enable as many Muslim governments to participate in the world coalition [against terrorists] because we don't want it just to be an American-Christian coalition against the Islamic world."

At the same time, he added, Israel has "a lot of information and experience in this field and whatever it takes will be given to the Americans to help them in the war. We will do our best to help the world coalition and put away our immediate needs. We will do our best not to embarrass the coalition. On the other hand we will not let our immediate enemies exploit the situation; we will react when given a kick."

In recent weeks, about 200,000 Israelis have gone to gas mask distribution centers to refresh their masks. There were no reports of long lines outside those centers after Sunday's attack.

Gerald Steinberg, a political science professor at Bar-Ilan University and a Jerusalem resident, said that judging by the crowds in supermarkets and on the street, the war had little immediate impact.

"People are buying for the chag [holiday of Simchat Torah]," he said. "The level of concern has gone up. There is more security on the streets, but there is no panic. It's a rerun of the Iraq war [of 1991].

"It’s said that this is not our war and that Israel is not going to be an active participant. If everyone is on high alert, that is the best we can do to prevent [an attack]."

Israeli military intelligence sources have said that bin Laden supporters twice tried unsuccessfully to infiltrate the territories. One of those attempts was reported last year.

Nabil Ukal, a 27-year-old Palestinian who was said to be one of bin Laden's main operatives among the Palestinians, was arrested by Israeli security services on June 1, 2000, in Rafah in the southern Gaza Strip. The Israeli daily Haaretz said Ukal had undergone military training at a base in Afghanistan of bin Laden's al-Qaida organization. He returned to the territories to set up a paramilitary structure while staying in touch with bin Laden and his associates in Jordan and Britain, according to the paper.

As part of the effort to maintain a low profile, Sharon decided to cancel a U.S. trip that had been planned for this week for Minister Dan Meridor, national security adviser Maj. Gen. Uzi Dayan and Zalman Shoval, former Israeli ambassador to the United States. The three had planned to have strategic discussions in Washington with senior members of the Bush administration.

Shoval said that because of the war, the people they were to meet might not have been available and the trip might have been used "to bolster Arab propaganda that the terror attack on America had something to do with the Israeli-Palestinian conflict."

President George W. Bush called Sharon about an hour before Sunday’s attack to notify him of the action. Shoval said it was a "very friendly conversation. The word 'friend' figured in the conversation on both sides. We pray for an American victory."

Shoval said Israel agreed with several of the points Bush made in his speech to the nation announcing the start of Sunday's attack. Among them was his assertion that governments that sponsor terrorists who kill innocent people have “become murderers and outlaws themselves.” Shoval said Iran, Iraq and Syria all qualify.

But Steinberg said there is some concern among Israelis that the U.S. is not going to pursue the second and third phases of the anti-terrorism war that would include Hamas, Islamic Jihad and Hezbollah but rather will stop after eliminating bin Laden.

"The concern is that just as the U.S. stopped short of deposing Saddam Hussein, opposition [at home], an unwillingness to pay the price and opposition in the Arab world would cause the U.S. to say that it has done as much as it could and leave," he said. "That would leave Israel once again out in the cold."

Steinberg added that Israel would "pay the price" if Hamas, Islamic Jihad and Hezbollah were excluded from the list of terrorist organizations and instead declared liberation groups with legitimate grievances. The three groups are on the State Department roster of terror organizations, but were not among the 27 groups whose assets were frozen last week by Bush in the war against terrorism.

Sharon, who had been pressing the Bush administration to include those groups on the list whose assets were frozen worldwide, suspended those efforts once the Sunday military offensive began.

After the attacks were launched, a Hamas spokesman was quoted as condemning "U.S. aggression against the Afghan nation."

On Monday, Palestinian police shot dead two Palestinian demonstrators at a Hamas-organized rally in Gaza City in support of bin Laden. It was the first time Palestinians were killed by their own security forces since the violence erupted a year ago.

Even as the U.S. was launching its global war against terrorists, Syria was elected this week to one of the 10 rotating seats on the UN Security Council. Last year, the U.S. successfully kept Sudan from sitting on the council because it sponsored terrorism and there were other candidates for the seat. But this year, even though Syria is at the top of the U.S. list of nations that sponsor terrorism, the U.S. did not try to block Syria’s selection. Syria ran unopposed and only Israel and Jewish groups opposed the election.

Steinberg said Israelis followed the UN vote because "Syria is considered to be a major port of terrorism. Its election will enhance and legitimize a lot of the anti-terrorist groups.”

Gold, Israel's former ambassador to the United Nations, pointed out that to be eligible for a Security Council seat, a nation must support international peace and security.

"Syria, through its support of international terrorism both in Damascus and in eastern Lebanon [where it is contesting the UN-drawn boundary line between Israel and Lebanon], is massively disrupting international security and violating UN resolutions on Lebanon," he said.


October 12, 2001, The Jewish Week, Silence In The Face Of Evil 'Holy war' against America and Jews, by Eric Greenberg, Staff Writer,

While the United States grapples with what religion scholars are calling the first holy war declared against it, some are concerned that America’s major religious leaders and organizations are conspicuously silent in confronting the challenge.

Jewish interfaith leaders say there has been a disturbing quiet from leaders of America’s major faiths in directly challenging the declaration of jihad, or holy war, against “America and Jews” by Islamic fundamentalists, most publicly declared last week by Osama bin Laden’s organization.

"Absolutely there is a significant silence,” said Abraham Foxman, national director of the Anti-Defamation League. “Where is the Christian voice of conscience on the issue of hate in faith? It’s not just Catholics; it’s all denominations. No one is speaking out about hate in the name of God."

Bin Laden's Al-Queda organization issued a fiery statement Sept. 25 saying that: "Wherever there are Americans and Jews, they will be targeted."

In a release faxed to news organizations in the name of the group’s chief military commander, Naseer Ahmed Mujahed, the statement added, “Wherever there are Muslims, they should prepare for jihad, and by the grace of God, the victory will be Islam's."

Following the U.S. attack on Afghanistan Sunday, bin Laden released a videotaped statement calling the American response “a battle of believers and non-believers” — again framing the conflict in religious terms of Islam against the West, a notion that President Bush and British Prime Minister Tony Blair have tried to reject.

But American religion scholar Martin Marty said in fact this is the first holy war in U.S. history.

"There was never a 'holy war' declared against America," he told The Jewish Week.

All the more reason, experts say, for America’s religious leaders to publicly oppose it.

For months several national Jewish organizations have publicly decried the increasingly vitriolic statements from Islamic circles calling for jihad and advocating the killing of Jews and infidels.

While the nation’s religious leaders have joined together in interfaith prayer sessions, decrying racial stereotyping and in providing assistance to victims and their families, few have stood up to challenge the holy war declaration on its own terms.

"It’s appalling that there has been no Christian outcry, particularly when [bin Laden’s] targets are Christianity and Christians,” said veteran American interfaith leader Rabbi James Rudin. “I have not yet seen leaders of major Christian groups speak out with real force against bin Laden’s policies of annihilation of Americans and Jews."

Asked why this is, Rabbi Rudin said: “Dealing with what I call ‘radical evil’ seems to be very hard for some Christian leaders. They cannot accept that it exists or they have troubling believing it. One thing Jews have learned is that whether you read Hitler, Hussein or bin Laden, you must take it seriously."

Rabbi Rudin also offered that American Christian leaders might be reticent to speak out against the jihad because of the fear of persecution of Christian minorities living in Islamic countries.

"I’ve heard those excuses for year, but it makes no sense when you’re facing radical evil, especially when you are mentioned as the target."

Foxman said the Christian quietness could be the result of discomfort over the concept of “holy war,” which Christianity was engaged in during the Middle Ages.

"The last Middle Eastern holy war was a crusade led by Christian forces in the name of God. Maybe this baggage is a historical handicap."

But Marty suggested an all-too-mortal explanation for the official Christian “silence”: bureaucracy and organizational politics.

Unlike American Jewish groups, which quickly and constantly put out “official statements” on all kinds of current events issues, “in Christianity there is much more diffuseness," he said.

"Back in 1967 or the 1972 [Israel-Arab] war, for instance, Christian organizations were criticized for not coming to Israel’s defense as church bodies within six days,” Marty explained. “I wrote a column with a twist to it: it takes Presbyterians, Episcopalians, Lutherans, Methodists, etc. four years to come up with an official position on anything; everything goes through two or three biennial conventions, and few yield power to headquarters to make statements for them — and headquarters is cautious because of that democratic policy."

But perhaps more important, say the religion experts, is the lack of public condemnation of the jihad against America from Islamic leaders.

The critics questioned a certain political correctness that seems to be holding sway in the nation, perhaps best exemplified by statements from President Bush, who called Islam a religion of peace while failing to confront the power of fundamentalist Islam that is driving the suicide attackers in this jihad.

"I don't hear the religious leadership of Islam throughout the world proclaiming this is against Islam,” said Foxman.

Rabbi Rudin agreed. He acknowledged that many Muslim religious leaders denounced the Sept. 11 attack on America and proclaimed that Islam is a “religion of peace” while also decrying physical and verbal attacks on American Muslims.

"But so far, Americans have not seen or heard Muslim religious leaders effectively challenge bin Laden's obscene expropriation of Islamic symbols, language and theology. The Islamic terrorists have not only hijacked airplanes, they’ve also hijacked an entire religion."

Meanwhile, one religion expert warns that the newly engaged U.S. war with bin Laden has apocalyptic dimensions.

"This is the first real blow of Armageddon," warned Richard Landes, director of the Center for Millennial Studies at Boston University. "Bin Laden is a central player in a cosmic battle that pits the warriors for truth against the agents of Satan and evil in this world."

Landes said the Islamic fundamentalists, fueled by apocalyptic visions, are fighting to have Islamic law rule the world.

"Now rages the battle between cosmic good [warriors for Allah] and evil [the West], especially its most Satanic forces, Israel and the USA," Landes said. He noted that numerous apocalyptic pamphlets circulating in Palestinian and other Muslim circles declare Israel, and especially Jerusalem, is the center of this apocalyptic struggle.

Increased Christian apocalyptic fervor at the start of the Third Millennium — which many celebrated in 2000 but really began in 2001 — has also intensely infected Islamic thought.

Landes said it is crucial for Western thinkers to recognize and understand the apocalyptic foundations of this new "terrorism war."

"We are in a very poor position to distinguish between the religiosities that support and enhance civil societies, and those that despise them and seek their destruction," he cautioned.

"It will not help to pretend that elements of Islam that have yet to make the step into the civic agreement of voluntarism have already done so. Nor will it help to brand all of Islam with the brush of its anti-modern tendencies.

"To distinguish will take maturity, discernment, and an honest dialogue with Muslims of genuine good will who may not yet understand the problems plaguing their troubled religion."


November 2, 2001, The Jewish Week [NY] Caught In A Dragnet; Case of five Israelis held here since Sept. 11 reveals tension between civil rights and fight against terrorism, by Stewart Ain, Staff Writer,

Just as President George W. Bush was announcing Monday a new effort to deport foreigners illegally in this country, one of five Israelis jailed for working here illegally called his mother from jail to ask when he could go home. The five men were arrested and imprisoned just hours after the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks.

"He cried and asked how long it will take before he can come home," Israela Marmari of Petach Tikvah said a half-hour after her son, Omer, 22, called from the Metropolitan Detention Center in Brooklyn. "When they were arrested in September, it was believed they were Arabs connected with the terror in New York."

In the moving van they were driving for their employer, Urban Moving Systems in Weehawken, N.J., the men — ages 22 to 27 and all single — carried box cutters. One had $4,000 in cash, another had a camera, and a third had two passports because he is also a German citizen.

They were stopped by a police at about 3 p.m. Sept. 11 after two women saw them standing on the roofs of the moving company and their van, smiling as they took pictures of each other with the burning World Trade Center in the background.

No terrorism charges were ever filed, according to their lawyer, Steven Gordon. A spokesman for the Israeli Consulate in New York said flatly: "We were told specifically that they are not suspects" in the terror attacks.

The five were ordered deported Sept. 25 by an immigration judge after they acknowledged working here illegally. The Immigration and Naturalization Service would normally move expeditiously to deport them, but they have been caught up in the Bush administration's effort to nab anyone even remotely connected with the terror attacks.

The Israelis are among more than 1,000 people arrested since the attack. As in most of the cases, the government was circumspect in releasing information about the arrests.

Gordon said he had difficulty communicating with his clients because when he called to speak with them at the Metropolitan Detention Center, authorities denied knowledge of their whereabouts. Family members also said they could not call and have spoken with them only twice since their arrests.

An INS spokesman, Russell Bergeron, declined to comment directly on the case but acknowledged there are delays in deporting foreigners picked up in connection with the terror attacks.

"The United States government is involved in a worldwide criminal investigation involving the murder of some 6,000 U.S. citizens," Bergeron explained. "In the course of that investigation, there are individuals who have been arrested by the immigration service. Any individual arrested by INS as a result of this investigation and ordered deported from the United States will remain in custody until that release has been coordinated and cleared by all of the appropriate authorities involved in the investigation.

"We have an obligation to ensure that before individuals are sent out of the country, we are as certain as is humanly possible that they are not linked to or have information regarding the terrorist attack on the United States. There is a time frame before we have to consider releasing those individuals, and it is measured in months."

He said that since Sept. 11, about 235 foreigners have been picked up for questioning by INS; about 185 remain in custody.

The American Civil Liberties Union joined with a coalition of civil liberties groups this week in filing a Freedom of Information Act request for information about all of those detained since Sept. 11.

Tim Edgar, the ACLU’s legislative counsel, said also he was concerned about a new terrorism law signed by Bush last week that gives law enforcement broad powers to track down and arrest suspected terrorists.

"I would say it is one of the most serious erosions of civil liberties since the 1996 Terrorist Act, and maybe even more serious,” he said.

Gordon said that as an American he could appreciate the precautions taken by the government. But he said his clients have already passed lie detector tests, been "subjected to rigorous interrogation" — including one 16-hour stretch at the beginning — and that they have not been questioned in more than a month.

"Their investigation has concluded because if there was anything else, they would be charged or continue to be questioned," he said.

Families of the five said their incarceration has been difficult. Until this week, Marmari was held in isolation; the others were released from isolation a few days earlier. All are now in with the general prison population.

"They are in very bad condition emotionally," said Israela Marmari, who noted that her son had been working for the moving company only two weeks before his arrest. "We know that everybody is doing everything they can in Israel and in New York [for them], but nobody knows when this is going to be over.

"They are good boys. They are so innocent. My son was in shock [after his arrest]. He said, 'Mommy, I can't believe it. We are Israeli and live with terror every day. How could anybody believe that Israelis could do anything like this?'"

Ronit Ellner said she had planned to come to the U.S. this month for 10 days to visit her son, Oded, 27, who came to the U.S. six months before his arrest. Ellner said that when she last spoke with Oded by phone, she did most of the talking.

"I wanted to make him strong and I told him it was all a bad dream that would be over," she said. "I said it would be over and he will come back home. He wants to come back. He misses us and he cries."

Katie Shmuel said her son, Yaron, 26, who has dual citizenship, had worked for the moving company about six months.

"It's all a big mistake," she said.

Heni Kayea, 35, the sister of the other two men, Paul and Sivan Kurzberg, 27 and 23, said the brothers have been kept separate since their arrest. Kayea said the family did not learn of their arrest until two days later when the mother of one of the other men picked up called her parents home with the news.

"We called immigration and for a month they said there are no names like this in the computer," said Kayea, who lives in Charlotte, N.C.

Kayea said that on the morning of the World Trade Center attack, each of the men called their parents in Israel to assure them they were well and were working in New Jersey at the time. When the family learned that they were arrested in the "belief they were Arabs, we were shocked," she said.

"My brothers are tall with blue eyes and brown hair. They look like Europeans," Kayea said.

She said Sivan, who had the camera, had planned to fly to India on Sept. 14 to meet friends there.


November 30, 2001, The Jewish Week [NY] Detained Israelis Allege Brutal Treatment; Here 'It was a nightmare,' said one held since Sept. 11, by Stewart Ain, Staff Writer,

As the U.S. beefs up its homeland security by seeking to interview 5,000 foreign visitors in connection with the Sept. 11 terror attack, new details surfaced this week about the alleged brutal treatment five Israelis received while imprisoned here for more than two months as suspects in the attack.

Within days of the terrorist attack, one of the five Israelis said he feared for his life when a prison guard announced to other inmates that he was the “terrorist responsible for the World Trade Center" — and then unlocked his cell.

"It was like a nightmare," Yaron Shmuel, 26, told The Jewish Week by phone from Israel. “I was holding the [prison] door closed against the other inmates. They were shouting, 'This is the bomber, let's kill him.'"

He said that about 10 of the 80 or 100 inmates in the prison's common area rushed his cell door when the guard unlocked it. He said he struggled for about 15 minutes to keep the door closed.

"It felt like it was forever," Shmuel said of his struggle. “I don’t know how I had the power to keep it closed, but when your life is in jeopardy, you get the strength."

Shmuel said also that two of the other Israelis, whom he declined to name, had been beaten once by a guard while at the Metropolitan Detention Center in Brooklyn. He said that although he was not beaten, "many times the guard who came to the door shouted to us that he would take us to the population and that the other prisoners would murder us."

The Israelis, aged 22 to 27, were released last week after being imprisoned since Sept. 11.

Ronit Ellner, the mother of one of the other Israelis, said she did not want her son, Oded, speaking to a reporter about his ordeal.

"The children are broken," she said. "It's too early to speak with them. I think they have trauma."

Ellner said she would never again visit the United States.

Omer Marmari, 22, said he did not wish to discuss his imprisonment.

"It’s behind us," he said, adding that he would "never come back" to the United States.

Shmuel’s mother, Katie, said she has never been to America and had planned to come. But now, she said, "my foot will never touch the land of the United States. Not me and not my four children."

Several of those interviewed said they were considering filing a suit against the United States over the brutality they allege. The lawyer who handled their immigration case, Michael Wildes, said no decision had yet been made on whether to sue.

Wildes said he has received calls about other Israelis detained for visa violations since Sept. 11. He said some were picked up for such things as minor traffic violations. In all, a total of about 60 Israelis nationwide have been held since Sept. 11; half have been released. A judge in Cleveland on Tuesday ordered another 11 Israelis deported, leaving about 20 still being held.

Dan Dunne, a spokesman for the Federal Bureau of Prisons, said the Israeli Consulate had raised issues regarding the Israelis' treatment while they were still incarcerated and that the warden had reviewed the complaints with consulate officials.

"There were things relating to their incarceration that they did not agree with," Dunne said. "But what was done was not outside institutional policy or procedures, and the staff who supervised them acted professionally at all times.”

"We are aware of issues that have come up post their release, and some of them are being reviewed by our agency at this time,” Dunne said.

A spokesman for the Israeli Consulate in New York said a consulate official visited the men four times and raised questions with prison authorities about their treatment after receiving complaints from relatives of the five.

Dunne said one of the complaints investigated involved allegations of physical abuse.

"Our response to that issue was that we had no knowledge or information of abuse," he said.

Dunne said that when the warden learned of the allegation, he "had staff approach them [the Israelis] and ask if there were concerns related to their confinement. They raised some issues regarding their treatment but did not raise any issue of staff abuse of them while they were incarcerated."

Shmuel said he and the other Israelis were kept in solitary confinement for 40 to 45 days. And he said his eyeglasses for his far-sightedness were taken from him when he was arrested and never returned.

"Every time I asked, they said they were looking for them," he said. "Then they said that someone threw them in the garbage."

Shmuel's mother, Katie, said: "Only a person who wears glasses can imagine what it is like to go two months without glasses. He couldn't see and had headaches because of it."

Dunne said the prison had no record that Shmuel came in with glasses, and that if he had a vision problem he could have "advised the medical staff and it could have been addressed accordingly."

Mark Regev, a spokesman for the Israeli Embassy in Washington, said he hoped the cases of the Israelis still being held would be resolved "expeditiously."

"The embassy asks that all Israelis respect American law, and if they don't there will be consequences — especially after Sept. 11 because Americans are justifiably looking more carefully at foreign visitors," Regev said. "We have no evidence that America is singling out Israelis for any special treatment.

"Our understanding is that all people in the U.S. who are living here contrary to their visa are facing a more energized INS [Immigration and Naturalization Service] and police process."

Although a judge ordered the five Israelis held in New York deported Sept. 25 for illegally working with a visitor's visa, their release was delayed until last week when they were cleared of any involvement in the terrorist attack. They were arrested in New Jersey after two women told police they were speaking a foreign language and taking smiling pictures of each other as the World Trade Center burned in the background.

Katie Shmuel said she was happy to have her son home but "sorry he came so wounded from what the great nation of America did to my son."

"I hate the Americans now. I really hate them," she said. "What they have done to our sons is not right. They knew all along they were Israeli Jews."

She said she is "pained" by what happened to the United States on Sept. 11, "but that doesn't give them the right to do what they did to our children. The nation that speaks about human rights cannot do such things. I didn't expect this from a nation like the United States, the greatest country in the world.

"The Americans say a person is innocent until proven guilty, so why did they keep them 71 days?"


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