May 19, 2024
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Photo courtesy of Shlomo Baum

US Justice Dept. Will Not Oppose Pollard’s Release

Microsoft Acquires FieldOne, Founded by Satmar Chassid

( Last Thursday, computing giant Microsoft acquired FieldOne Services, a software company that supplies field-service applications to companies like United Technologies and Mitsubishi-Hitachi Power Systems, Fortune reported.

FieldOne, founded by Shlomo Baum, a member of the Satmar Chassidic movement and resident of Kiryat Yoel in upstate NY, was sold for $39 million.

In the past, Baum was appointed by the Satmar Rebbe to design and build the Internet filtering system “fence,” to allow members of the community safe access to the World Wide Web.

FieldOne’s team includes, besides Shlomo Baum who is listed as Founder, President and Chief Technology Officer, CEO Ilan Slasky; COO Julio Hartstein; Avrum Weinberger, VP Of Engineering and Dan Gittler, Vice President Enterprise Services.

Terms of the transaction weren’t disclosed. The deal comes four months after the two companies signed a strategic alliance to integrate Microsoft Dynamics customer relationship management application with FieldOne’s suite, which includes scheduling, routing and inventory, Fortune reported.

Bob Stutz, corporate vice president for Microsoft Dynamics CRM, announced in a blogpost: “Field-service management is a specific but critically important area of customer service, providing companies with the ability to deliver end-to-end field service.”

It is estimated that the field service management market is worth as much as $18 billion. Microsoft will be competing against ServiceMax, which is a close ally of Marc Benioff’s Salesforce.

Argentine President Refuses to Apologize for Anti-Semitic Slur

(Israel Hayom/Exclusive to Argentine President Cristina Fernandez de Kirchner has refused to apologize for anti-Semitic remarks she posted on Twitter last week in which she compared investment funds contributing to Argentina’s extensive national debt to William Shakespeare’s famous Jewish antagonist Shylock, playing on the old anti-Semitic claim of Jews trying to control global finance.

Fernandez tweeted the remarks following a visit to a Buenos Aires school, where she told 10-year-old students that to understand Argentina’s economic crisis, they should read Shakespeare’s The Merchant of Venice. In that play, Jewish moneylender Shylock is portrayed as a greedy ruthless usurer.

“No, don’t laugh. Usury and bloodsuckers have been immortalized in the greatest literature for centuries,” Kirchner tweeted.

Kirchner has not only refused to apologize for the remarks, which have caused an uproar in the country’s large Jewish community, but she also mocked her critics by saying that The Merchant of Venice was performed at the Habima Theater in Israel.

Car Bombs Rock Gaza

( The bombings of six Hamas vehicles Sunday morning in Gaza City are likely to reignite the ongoing struggle between Hamas and Salafist elements in the Strip, with Israel unwillingly being drawn into the conflict.

Four of the destroyed vehicles belonged to Hamas military wing members, and the rest belonged to Islamic Jihad military wing members. The charred vehicles were parked outside the houses of the local officials in Gaza City’s Sheikh Radwan neighborhood. The attacks, committed in the heart of Hamas territory, showed a high level of professionalism due to the expertise needed to make the devices, plant them discreetly and activate them. The Hamas Interior Ministry, which includes the security forces, released a statement saying that “terrorists” had conducted the attack, and that they would bear the punishment. The statement did not identify any specific group, however. Witnesses said a freshly painted Islamic State group flag was seen at the site of the explosions.

No organization has officially claimed responsibility for the bombings, but it seems like the culprits are the same Salafist groups behind other recent bombings throughout the Gaza Strip, which were committed in response to a wave of Salafist arrests by Hamas. Just last week, Hamas arrested two Salafists during Eid al Fitr prayers in the northern Gaza Strip. The arrests infuriated the Salafist groups.

The Salafists understand that the best way to pressure Hamas is by occasionally shooting rockets at Israel, which warrants an automatic response from the IDF leading to the destruction of Hamas facilities, because Israel sees Hamas as responsible for any fire emanating from Gaza. Hamas has stepped up its arrests in response and continues to arrest militants involved in the rocket fire, including central figures in the Salafist groups.

Until recently, the Salafist bombings have targeted public infrastructure, like banks or western cultural centers, but it seems that the bombers have refocused their attention to attacking Hamas and Islamic Jihad operatives. Past experiences indicate that Hamas will most likely respond with more arrests against the groups, leading to an endless cycle of tit-for-tat.

According to current polls, 12 percent of Gaza residents support and identify with the Salafists and the Islamic State’s ideology. Hamas is doing everything in its powers to isolate and minimize the extent of the public’s support for the Salafists, in order to prevent their growth to the point of posing a real threat to Hamas rule in Gaza.

Iran’s Jewish Community Leader Calls Netanyahu ‘Narcissistic, Delusional’

( The head of Iran’s Jewish community, Haroun Yashayaei, has harshly criticized Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in an article appearing in a major Iranian newspaper. The piece was published soon after the nuclear deal was struck with world powers last week.

“There is no doubt that the Israeli prime minister is so narcissistic that none of these developments can deter him from following his delusional goals,” the chairman of the Tehran Jewish Committee wrote in an article published last week in the Iranian daily Shargh and translated by the Iran Review website.

Although Netanyahu traveled all over the world trying to block the nuclear deal with Iran, “he was not taken seriously anywhere and by anybody and was finally angry,” he wrote.

Referring to Israel, Yashayaei went on to criticize “the regime that has been occupying a large part of the Palestinian lands since 1967 and has never heeded any of the resolutions adopted by the UN General Assembly or Security Council, and has even rejected to temporarily stop building settlements.”

He accused Israel of using rockets fired at it from Gaza as a “pretext” to “turn the Gaza Strip into ruins.” Yashayaei’s comments against Israel have been perceived as a calculated effort to protect the Jewish community by flaunting their patriotic credentials.

“Jews in Iran have to be careful. The anti-Semitic discourse may have even gone beyond that which was [seen] during the time of [president] Mahmoud Ahmadinejad in order to boost the resistance credentials of the regime in light of the nuclear deal with the West,” Eldad Pardo, an Iranian expert at Hebrew University of Jerusalem, told The Jerusalem Post . “Yashayaei’s article seems also to resonate with those Iranians who wish to see decades of Iranian adventurism across the region end.”

The Jewish leader “wisely separates between Netanyahu – described as evil and irrelevant – and those opposing him within Israel; and distinguishes between Israel itself and the territories captured in 1967,” continued Pardo. “Thus he seems to defend not only Iranian Jews, but also puts Israel in the best possible light in an extremely hostile environment, in which anti-Semitic genocidal discourse is the norm.”

Shas’ Kashrut Law Approved By Ministerial Committee for Legislation

( Bnei Brak—Shas’ controversial kashrut law, designed to outlaw independent kashrut authorities, was passed by the Ministerial Committee for Legislation on Sunday for a preliminary reading in the Knesset, but included an agreement that it would require the agreement of Finance Minister and Kulanu chairman Moshe Kahlon before any further progress in the Knesset.

The compromise secured by the Kulanu party, which strongly backs independent kashrut licensing, means that after the bill’s approval in its preliminary Knesset reading a new draft will be created requiring Kahlon’s approval and subsequent re-approval in the ministerial committee before it goes to the Knesset for its first reading.

The current law as it stands states that only the chief rabbinate or a local rabbinate (which are regional branches of the chief rabbinate) are authorized to issue a kashrut certificate with the word “kosher” on it.

In recent years however, several restaurants in Jerusalem and of late in Tel Aviv have dropped their rabbinate supervision, due to objections to various bad practices of rabbinate kashrut supervision, in favor of an independent Orthodox kashrut licensing authority called Hasgacha Pratit. In order to get around the law, Hasgacha Pratit does not use the word “kosher” on its certificates but instead states that the restaurant has rabbinical supervision.

U.S. Probes Chattanooga Gunman’s Travel to Middle East

( U.S. authorities are investigating recent travel to the Middle East by Mohammad Youssef Abdulazeez, who shot and killed five U.S. Marines on Thursday in Chattanooga, Tenn., before he was shot dead by police.

Authorities fear that Abdulazeez was radicalized in recent years and are probing his visit to Jordan last year. They have also not ruled out a possible trip he made to Yemen.

Abdulazeez was born in Kuwait to a Palestinian father and was a naturalized American citizen. The FBI and police have said it is “premature” to declare his motive for the shooting, but they have already called the attack “domestic terrorism.”

“Chattanooga tragically is not the first time terrorists inspired by a twisted, hateful, violent Islamist ideology have targeted and killed American military on U.S. soil,” said American Jewish Committee Executive Director David Harris, who called for “constant vigilance” to prevent such attacks.

Dangerous Driving Can Be Detected With App Developed by Ben-Gurion University of the Negev

Researchers at Ben Gurion of the Negev (BGU) have recently developed a potentially lifesaving app that classifies drivers based on their driving style and phone usage behind the wheel. The app rewards young drivers with privileges and enforces driving regulations. The driving app uses the smartphone’s sensors to collect and store multiple types of data on driving in the Cloud, which is then accessible to the user. The algorithms first determine and classify the driver’s driving style on a continuous scale: anxious, cautious, dangerously irresponsible, angry and hostile. The app then rates smartphone usage while driving on a continuous scale: non-user, passive and active. The app then provides feedback to the driver on his or her smartphone regarding a single trip or accumulated trips. The researchers believe that the app can be used by automobile insurance companies and accident investigators, assuming the proper legislative environment is in place. Dr. Rohn, chief executive officer and founder of Originality Group, an Israeli startup dedicated to the development of algorithms and sales of services for detection of plagiarism in Hebrew, Arabic and other languages, together with his students, recruited more than 10,000 drivers of cars, buses and motorcycles, in rural, urban and highway environments to test the app’s accuracy and functionality. Dr. Rohn has applied for a research grant to further develop the app for the Android and iOS (Apple).

Facebook Poised to Buy Israeli Technology

( Facebook is negotiating the acquisition of Israeli Pebbles Interfaces, which deals in one of the social network’s most promising current fields of activity: virtual and enhanced reality. Ynet’s sister publication, Calcalist, learned that after having acquired Oculus VR, Facebook now wants to buy Emil Alon and Nadav Grossinger’s company which develops gesture recognition technology.

While other pioneers in the field focus on body gesture recognition, Pebbles’ technology works with finger gestures, aimed primarily at gamers, but also has applications for TV, computers, or smartphone operation while driving.

Recently, Pebbles integrated its technology with Facebook’s Oculus glasses, which translates finger gestures into virtual movement on various platforms, through a camera mounted on the glass frame.

A deal between the two companies may reach tens of millions of dollars and provide a hefty return of some 16 million dollars to Chinese investors, such as mobile giant Xiaomi, Israeli funds such as Giza, and US investors such as Robert Bush’s VC fund and storage giant SanDisk.

Following the deal, Facebook will be able to open a VR development center in Israel and benefit from abundant local talent in the field. Apple, Microsoft and Intel already are operating VR and AR R&D capabilities in Israel.

US Justice Dept. Will Not Oppose Pollard’s Release

( The US Department of Justice will allow for the release of Jonathan Pollard, accused of spying for Israel, after fulfilling his 30-year sentence, reported the Jewish-American publication “Algemeiner.”

Speculation suggests that the Department of Justice’s neutral stance on Pollard’s release may be part of American concessions to Israel intended to soothe tensions after the US and other world powers signed a nuclear deal with Iran last week. US and Israeli officials refused to respond to the reports on Pollard.

Pollard was arrested for espionage against the US in 1985, a crime that automatically earned him a sentence of 30 years. However, legislators passed a law a few years ago increasing the sentence for espionage to 45 years, though it was unclear if this would also apply to those like Pollard who were imprisoned under the old law.

The parole board of the prison holding Pollard met several days ago to discuss the issue and a final decision is expected at the end of July. If the Department of Justice doesn’t attempt to impose the new 45-year law on Pollard, he is likely to be released. According to the law, the Department of Justice can only appeal Pollard’s release with evidence that he poses a threat to the public or that he misbehaved in prison.

The news reports denied any connection to US policy in the wake of the Iran deal, but Pollard featured often as a concession card to Israel during peace talks with the Palestinians.

Pollard will reach the age of 61 in August and his health has been in decline over the past few years. During the last two years, Pollard has repeatedly been admitted to hospital and underwent multiple operations.

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