March 2, 2024
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NSA Gathering E-mail Address Books

Washington—Already under attack by freedom and privacy activists for collecting call record data without warrants and spying on Americans, a new report says the NSA is gathering e-mail and instant messaging address books from Google, Facebook, Yahoo and other providers around the globe. They say the “Analysis of that data enables the agency to search for hidden connections and to map relationships within a much smaller universe of foreign intelligence targets.” The report says that in one day, NSA’s Special Source Operations branch collected 444,743 Yahoo address books, 105,068 from Hotmail, 82,857 from Facebook, 33,697 from Gmail and 22,881 from others—which amounts to more than 250 million contacts a year, collected from an estimated 500,000 buddy lists on live-chat services and inbox displays of Web-based e-mail accounts. The collection takes place overseas, but senior U.S. intelligence officials admit many Americans are caught in the sweep.

Iranian Jews to Obama: Please Make a Deal

Teheran—According to Agence France Press, Iran’s Jewish community last week wrote an open letter to U.S. President Barack Obama urging him to seize the “unrepeatable” opportunity to bring the nuclear dispute with Iran to a close. It called for a resolution now that a relative moderate—Hassan Rouhani—was president. “If the US and the international community do not make the best of this golden and perhaps unrepeatable opportunity, then it will be in the benefit of those who are against the normalization of ties between Iran and the US,” the letter, signed by Tehran’s Jewish community leader Homayoun Sameyah Najaf Abady, read. “It would also make it easy for pessimists to doubt the good intentions of the U.S.,” Abady wrote. Iran says it is willing to compromise on its disputed nuclear program, as sanctions have taken their toll on the Iranian economy.

Gaza ‘Terror Tunnel’ Uncovered, Second Tunnel Destroyed

(JNS.org)—A 1.5-mile tunnel running from the Gaza Strip to the Israeli border kibbutz Ein Hashlosha was recently discovered. This week the Israel Defense Forces blew up a different tunnel, under Israel’s border with the central part of Gaza. The second tunnel was a previously undiscovered segment of a tunnel uncovered before the IDF’s Operation Pillar of Defense in November 2012. It contained barrels of explosives intended for use by Gaza-based terrorists against IDF troops patrolling the border. IDF units uncovered the massive tunnel that stretched from Gaza to Ein Hashlosha on Oct. 10, and according to defense officials quoted on Army Radio, that tunnel was meant for the abduction of Israeli soldiers or for a large terror attack. Equipment for the abduction and transfer of people was found inside the tunnel, including a transportation mechanism that could quickly ferry away a hostage.

Kerry Asks AIPAC to Push Bibi on Peace

Washington—Speaking early this week via satellite from London to AIPAC members at a private conference in Napa, CA, U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry asked them to support PM Netanyahu as he negotiates with the Palestinians. Kerry said the two-state solution is the only solution to the conflict: where Israel remains “a Jewish state and the homeland of the Jewish people, and the state of Palestine as the homeland of the Palestinian people. …Prime Minister Netanyahu, just like [Palestinian Authority] president [Mahmoud] Abbas, has made tough political decisions and taken major risks for peace,” Kerry told the crowd. “He understands that if Israel is going to find a way to remain a Jewish state and democratic state, it must act soon. “More than ever,” Kerry added, “if Prime Minister Netanyahu decides that it is in the best interests of the people of Israel to make reasonable compromises for peace, he will need to know that you have his back.” Kerry also requested that members go back to their communities and families and tell them “that you support the brave steps he has taken to get to this point, and… that you will continue to support him as he walks the difficult road to peace.” Netanyahu, at the opening of the 19th Knesset’s winter session, said that there could be no peace agreement with the Palestinians until they recognize Israel as the sovereign state of the Jewish people. There simply could be no genuine peace, unless the Palestinians “abandon the demand for what is called ‘the right of return’” for Palestinian refugees and their descendants to Israel, and without the abandoning of “other nationalistic demands on the land and sovereignty of Israel, there could be no “end of conflict” accord, he said.

UNESCO Stirs the Pot

New York—Last week, the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) passed six anti-Israel resolutions. Nimrod Barkan, Israel’s UNESCO envoy, called it a recent “obsession” with Israel. The Palestinians joined UNESCO in 2011 although the U.S. objected and set up sanctions that financially crippled the organization. Palestinian diplomats immediately pushed UNESCO in an anti-Israel direction, launching an initiative revolving around the Church of the Nativity in Bethlehem that drew broad condemnation.

Priceless 18th Century Haggadah Found in Trash

(JNS.org)—A rare 18th-century Haggadah was discovered in the trash during a house clearance in the UK. The prayer book dates back to 1726, and its illustrations are hand painted on goat skin. The manuscript arrived in the UK from Belgium with a family that was fleeing the Nazis. With an estimated value between 100,000 and half a million pounds, the book will go to auction next month. “I think one of the fascinations of Haggadot is that illustrations often are not necessarily depicting what the Jew in Egypt would have looked like, but what the local Jew would have looked like… I very much hope it finds a very good home,” Rabbi Yehuda Brodie of Manchester, UK, told the BBC.

Pope Francis I, Argentine Rabbi Spend Sukkot Together

(JNS.org)—Argentine Rabbi Abraham Skorka made history when he spent several days in the Vatican living with Pope Francis I over Sukkot. “I eat with him at breakfast, lunch and dinner every day. He cares for me, and controls everything regarding my food to makes sure it is all kosher, and according to my religious tradition,” Skorka told the Italian daily La Stampa, which covers Vatican affairs. “These are festive days, and I have to say certain prayers at meals and, I expand the last prayer and translate it. He accompanies me together with the others at table—his secretaries and a bishop, and they all say ‘Amen’ at the end,” Skorka said.

Warren Buffett Acquires Israeli Electronics Company Ray-Q

(JNS.org)—Electronic company TTI Inc., an indirect, wholly owned subsidiary of American billionaire Warren Buffet’s Berkshire Hathaway recently announced its acquisition of Israeli electronics company Ray-Q Interconnect. Founded in 1969, Ray-Q specializes in electrical and fiber optic interconnects for military, aerospace, medical and other high-reliability product industries.

Legalizing Pot Would Add $450M to Israeli Economy

(JNS.org) —Marijuana legalization could add more than NIS 1.6 billion ($450 million) to the Israeli economy in taxes and savings, according to a study by the Jerusalem Institute for Market Studies (JIMS), an independent non-profit economic policy think tank. Legalization would save the state $198M in enforcement, while bringing in over $268M in tax revenue, the Jerusalem Post reported. Annually, there are more than 18,000 Israeli criminal cases involving marijuana, about 5.2 percent of all criminal cases in Israel. A survey of 500 Israelis conducted by JIMS found that only 26 percent of Israelis support marijuana legalization, with 64 percent opposed. But taught more about the issue, support rose to 50 percent; 75 percent of Israelis support medical marijuana.

New Brain Cancer Therapy Discovered in Israel

(JNS.org)-A postdoctoral fellow at Hadassah Medical School has identified a genetic protein involved in the development of glioblastoma, a common and aggressive brain cancer. Regina Golan-Gerstl’s discovery could help create new diagnosis and treatment options for more than 20,000 Americans diagnosed with brain cancer each year. The Israel Cancer Research Fund supported the research, which detected higher than normal levels in some protein genes within glioblastoma samples. “Down-regulating hnRNP A2/B1 levels in glioblastoma cells should be considered as a new strategy for glioblastoma therapy,” Karni said.

Iran Rejects Shipping Out Uranium Stockpiles

Teheran—Reuters reports that early this week, Iranian Deputy Foreign Minister Abbas Araqchi rejected the West’s demand to send sensitive nuclear material out of the country, ahead of renewed negotiations in Geneva on Tuesday. Western officials want Iran to ship out uranium enriched to a fissile concentration of 20 percent, a short technical step away from weapons-grade material. Israel demands the total removal of Tehran’s enriched uranium stockpiles along with a dismantling of its enrichment facilities. According to experts, merely capping Iran’s nuclear program was unlikely to provide enough confidence in the West. “Some rollback of the program…is really the only path to confidence and stability.” David Albright, of the Institute for Science and International Security, said earlier this month: “Any future nuclear agreement must include a limit on the number and type of centrifuges Iran can install.”

Gulf States & Israel Converge on Strategy

The Weekly Standard reports relations between Israel and the Gulf Arab states, especially Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates, have never been better and has been a long time in the making. Dore Gold, president of the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs and Israel’s former ambassador to the UN, explains: “Going back to the late 1990s, Saudi Arabia was the primary funder of Hamas…But by 2005, Iran had replaced Saudi Arabia as the primary funder, and leading members of the royal family, like Prince Nayef, repudiated the Muslim Brotherhood. This represented a huge shift in Saudi policy, which narrowed the degree of conflict it had with Israel. The GCC faces an Iranian-backed insurgency in Yemen, an Iranian-backed Shia government running Saudi Arabia’s northern neighbor Iraq, while Bahrain’s opposition is supported by Tehran, an arrangement that has implications for the Shia community in Saudi Arabia’s eastern province.

Palestinians Reviving Armed Units in West Bank Refugee Camps

(Economist-UK)—The Economist reports that after 65 years, “people don’t even dream any more” of returning to their old homes. “It’s been too long,” says Mahmoud Subuh, a psychologist in Balata, on the edge of Nablus in the West Bank. PA security chiefs have joined Israel in seeing the camps as nests of gun-runners, drug-traffickers and car thieves. The PA’s security men have teamed with Israel to step up raids on the camps, making those forces, which have been trained by Americans, persona non grata in the camps. The head of one of the camps’ “popular committees” near Ramallah says young members are reviving the tanzim armed units that waged the Second Intifada against Israel from 2000 until 2005. Privately, Palestinian leaders in Abbas’ orbit have toyed with admitting that, even if there is a deal with Israel, the refugees and their offspring will never return en masse to their old homes in Israel. There are only 60,000 alive of those who fled in 1948.

Teva to Fire 5,000

(Globes)—Teva Pharmaceutical Industries Ltd. (NYSE: TEVA; TASE: TEVA) announced last week that it will fire 5,000 employees worldwide, a tenth of its workforce, as part of “steps to accelerate the reduction of costs and to optimize its structure and processes.” Most of the layoffs will be completed by the end of 2014. Hundreds of Teva’s 7,500 employees in Israel will lose their jobs.  Teva president and CEO Dr. Jeremy Levin said “Most of the layoffs will be outside Israel. Later this year, we will specify which programs we’ll invest in. We’ll give many more details about what we’re doing at the end of the year. This year, we’ve saved $300 million.” He added, “We understand that this may be a difficult time for our employees and are committed to act with fairness, integrity and respect, and provide support during this time.”

Lockheed Martin Chooses Israeli Helmet for F-35s

(JNS.org) —Lockheed Martin, producer of advanced F-35 stealth fighter jets to be shipped to Israel, has chosen to manufacture a pilot’s helmet for the jets co-developed by the Israeli company Elbit Systems. The decision will save $45 million that Lockheed had originally allocated for the development of an alternate helmet, the company said. The Israel Air Force will receive its first F-35 jets in the second half of 2016. The jets’ “Helmet Mounted Display Systems” provide pilots with unprecedented situational awareness.

Nigerian President  to Lead Christian Pilgrims

(JNS.org)—Nigerian President Goodluck Jonathan will lead more than 30,000 Christian pilgrims on an upcoming trip to Israel. He is the first sitting Nigerian Christian president to visit Israel, is expected to sign a Bilateral Air Services Agreement between Nigeria and Israel, making it easier for Christian pilgrims to visit, AllAfrica.com reported. 2,000 Christian pilgrims arrived Oct. 19, to arrive Oct. 23. The president will also be joined by several members of his administration and by other governors. Nigeria has been racked by sectarian tension for the past decade as Islamic terror groups from the Muslim north have attacked Christians in the south. But Israel and Nigeria enjoy strong diplomatic ties, with several dozen major Israeli companies operating in Nigeria.

Nobel Laureates to Convene in Israel Year

(JNS.org)—More than 30 Nobel Prize winners plan to visit Israel in the summer of 2014 for the first Science and Technology for the Future conference, a joint initiative of Israel’s Foreign Ministry and its Science and Technology Ministry.The Nobel laureates plan to visit Israel’s universities to meet with budding Israeli scientists. “This will be the first conference of its kind,” said Dr. Roger Kornberg, who is heading the event’s steering committee, according to Israel Hayom.

 

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