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The Lekarev Report, Israel News August 27, 2008

26 Av 5768
August 27, 2008 
20070115_rice_olmert400.jpgOlmert, Rice Discuss Russian Issues

Prime Minister Ehud Olmert and US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice discussed the situation in the Caucasus and its implications for the Middle East in their meeting yesterday, the same day Russia formally recognized the breakaway Georgian territories, thereby increasing tensions with the West.

According to diplomatic sources, Rice and Olmert discussed the impact the war in Georgia, and its aftershocks, would have throughout the region. One point of concern in Jerusalem is whether as a result of the tension with the West, Russia would stop cooperating with the US and Europe on halting Iran's nuclear development.

Olmert and Rice met at the Prime Minister's residence privately for an hour.
Diplomatic officials said after the meeting that Israel had not yet decided how to react to Moscow's decision to recognize South Ossetia and Abkhazia. The US sharply condemned the move, which was also criticized by Britain, France and Germany. 
 
russians.jpgMedvedev: Russia Will React Militarily to the US

Russia may offer a military response to a US missile shield in Europe, Russian President Dmitry Medvedev warned yesterday.

He said that the deployment of an anti-missile system close to Russian borders "will of course create additional tensions."

"We will have to react somehow, to react, of course, in a military way," Medvedev was quoted as saying Tuesday by the RIA-Novosti news agency.

Meanwhile, US President George W. Bush urged Russia to reconsider its "irresponsible decision" to shower independent status on two breakaway Georgian provinces.

Already rebuffed by Medvedev, Bush warned Russia to change course and respect the borders of its Georgian neighbor. "Russia's action only exacerbates tensions and complicates diplomatic negotiations," the president said by written statement from Texas.

rose.jpgHeartbreaking Story Rocks Israel

Rose. This story requires no writing talent to touch the heart. The facts as we know them are tragic enough, incomprehensible enough, and heart-breaking enough; there is no need to add needless words. 

There was no place in Israel yesterday where this name - Rose - was not uttered in horror. Consternation. Shock. Anger. Yes, anger. This may be the strongest emotion that any reasonable person feels right now. One need not be a parent in order to feel a terrible sense of anger that overcomes even the sense of helplessness, frustration, and compassion for such a young human being who lived among us, a miserable life filled with suffering, physical pain, loneliness, and rejection.  It's the story of a very sad little girl, neighbors say.
rose1.jpg
Rose.  It appears that this soft, lovely, and fragile name was especially chosen for the main character in this shocking affair, a four-and-a-half-year-old child whose short life story is so inconceivable.  She was allegedly murdered by her grandfather and her body thrown into the Yarkon River.  The story is utterly bizarre.  Nothing in Israeli police annals comes close to this one, they say.

Rose, pictured here as a toddler, is the daughter of Benjamin Pezam, a former Modiin resident, and his French ex-wife Marie. The two met several years ago and had Rose. They later separated after Marie became romantically involved with Benjamin's father, (her father-in-law!!) Ronny Ron, and went on to have two more children with him - children who are now 18 months and 10 months old.

Benjamin left for France, taking Rose with him.  In December 2007, Marie managed to gain custody of her eldest daughter following a legal battle.  The girl joined the family in Netanya, but disappeared five months later, in May 2008. No one informed the police that she had gone missing.
 
Almost three months later, Rose's great grandmother Vivian, Ronny's mother, approached the welfare authorities after asking her son of her granddaughter's whereabouts and not receiving sufficient answers.
 
The Netanya police were informed and launched an investigation. Police investigators searched for Rose for two weeks, and the gag order placed on the details of the shocking affair was lifted yesterday. Rose's mother and grandfather were arrested.  He has apparently confessed to murdering the child but gave two conflicting versions.  Today we learn that police have uncovered evidence that indicates the mother's involvement in the murder as well.  The great grandmother has now also been arrested.

Dozens of police are involved in an expanded search for her body and it will take some time for the national shock waves to subside. 

And, for the question on everyone's mind to be answered - HOW does a child disappear in Israel and no one says a word - for three months???

The story of Rose shakes us to our core.  How could this happen in Israel, many are asking.  Israel that loves its children; Israel that has as an intrinsic part of its national character the strong ethic of community, of looking out for one another, and especially for the children?  Horrors like this happen in other countries, but not in Israel - that's what we always thought.

We are but a few days away from the Hebrew month of Elul, the month dedicated to REPENTANCE.  The story of Rose demands national attention that goes beyond the anger and outrage.  To borrow a biblical phrase, her 'blood cries out' from the ground, "Israel, where are you?"  Selah.

olmertgoaway.jpgMore Accusations Against Olmert

Yet another accusation has surfaced against Prime Minister Olmert, adding to the already heavy load of criminal allegations against him.

During Prime Minister Ehud Olmert's tenure as minister of industry, trade and labor his office "systematically breached protocol" in pressing for government funding to "Aquaria," a tourism project that did not prove its economic feasibility, according to a report released Wednesday by State Comptroller Micha Lindenstrauss.

"Olmert intervened both directly and via his assistants in the 'Aquaria' issue in a manner that can be construed as an application of pressure by the minister," Lindenstrauss writes in the report on the project, which according to the plans was to be built just north of Eilat by entrepreneur Ran Peker.

The report goes on to state that the venture received extensive support from the Israel Land Administration (ILA), the Tourism Ministry and the Interior Ministry and was inappropriately promoted through the actions of Cabinet Secretary Oved Yehezkel - then Olmert's assistant - and then cabinet secretary Avigdor Yitzhaki.

Originally the brainchild of a group of US industrialists who hired Peker to promote the project in Israel, the "Aquaria" complex in Kibutz Eilot was to include theme parks, a gulf course, convention center and amphitheater.

According to Lindenstrauss's report, most of the inquiries made by the Industrial Development Bank of Israel and advisors from Israel and abroad at the behest of the Tourism Ministry and the ILA between 2004 and 2007 showed that the project was economically unfeasible.   Nevertheless, the Tourism Ministry continued to promote "Aquaria," and by August 2007, the venture was approved and the state had agreed to an allocation of NIS 30 million to help fund it.
The report states that in 2003 Olmert asked Yehezkel to write a letter to an American bank requesting additional funds for "Aquaria" - despite the fact that the government had yet to clarify its stance on the project.

The comptroller also found that the feasibility inquiries underestimated by tens of million of shekels the expenses that were to be incurred by the entrepreneurs, including the prohibitive price of land and development. Ultimately, the report states, the results of the inquiries were skewed in favor of the project.
 

pyramid.jpgEgypt Goes on High Alert Against Al Qaeda Attack

Egypt's interior ministry's security forces, airports, harbors, and border terminals were placed on the highest terror alert Sunday afternoon, Aug. 24, in response to information that an al Qaeda team or teams were heading for major strikes against specific targets.

Our sources report that the warning received in Cairo referred to governing institutions, military installations and Suez Canal facilities.Extra guards were posted at the American, Israeli, Swedish and British embassies in Cairo.

Security forces have been boosted at the three main Suez Canal cities, Port Said, Ismailya and Suez, as well as the Sinai resorts of Sharm el Sheikh, Dahab and Nueiba, which are packed with late summer vacationers.

In April 2006, al Qaeda detonated three bombs at the coastal resort of Dahab, killing 23 people - all Egyptian - and injuring 60.
 
marrano.jpgThe 'Marranos' are Coming Home

A delegation of 16 Bnai Anousim (children of forced converts) from Spain, Portugal, Italy, and France arrived in Israel over the weekend. Bnai Anousim (referred to as "Marranos" by historians) is the name for Mediterranean European Jews who were forced to convert to Catholicism under pain of death during the Spanish Inquisition.
 
In the late 14th and 15th century, at the time of mass expulsions of Jews from Spain and Portugal, the Bnai Anousim remained behind, where they continued to preserve their Jewish identity and to practice the Jewish faith covertly.  As a result, this unique phenomenon is still evident today, even though the Inquisition invested enormous efforts over the centuries to eradicate it.
 
The trip is being arranged by the Shavei Israel organization, a non-profit organization with the aim of strengthening ties between the State of Israel and the descendants of Jews around the world.
 
The organization is currently active in nine countries and provides assistance to a variety of different communities such as the Bnei Menashe of India, the Bnai Anousim in Spain, Portugal and South America, the Subbotnik Jews of Russia, the Jewish community of Kaifeng in China, descendants of Jews living in Poland, and others.
 
In the framework of their visit to Israel, the participants will travel across the country and visit places such as Jerusalem, Rachel's Tomb, Safed, Tiberias, Haifa, Beit Shearim, Kibbutz Lavi, and more. In addition, they will take part in special classes on Jewish history, culture and religion being held for them in Spanish and Portuguese as well as learn some Hebrew. 
 
121.jpgReport on Meeting with the Mayor

This photo was taken yesterday during my meeting with our regional mayor, Roni Cohen, in his office.  From the minute I walked in, his deep concerns for the safety of the citizens of this region of the Galilee was very, very evident.

He is profoundly grateful for the support of the Lekarev subscribers and wants you to know how much he appreciates you.  He re-iterated in the strongest possible terms the absolute URGENCY of our need to repair and re-stock the  bomb shelters.  Because of his position, he is privy to information and advisories from the Defense Ministry which, he indicated, made our project a top priority of his at present.  In no uncertain terms, Roni said emphatically that these shelters MUST be prepared now for the security and the defense of the lives of countless men, women and children in this area of the Galilee.  I wish I could adequately convey to you how strongly he expressed his worry and concern.

I related to him that I've had some inquiries from subscribers about the possibility of coming here as volunteers to work on this project.  His immediate response was "Yes - I will arrange accommodations for them if they will come to help with the work."  So - for those of you who asked, there's your answer.

Now let me be clear - we need people who know how to work with concrete, as well as plumbers, electricians (keep in mind that Israeli electricity is 220, not 110 as in the USA), carpenters, "go-fers" (those who assist the main workers by  'going for this or that', cooks to feed the volunteers, people willing to clean, paint, etc.  A team of volunteers will without question give the money raised more mileage - we can get more done with volunteer labor obviously.

BUT - before we can put you to work, we must have the funds for the supplies needed to get the work done.  You have been amazing with your generosity so far but we still have a ways to go to make it worthwhile for some of you to commit to buy a ticket to come over here for a week or two.

So - let's think clearly and efficiently.  It's now virtually the end of August.  Rosh Hashana is a month away.  Here are the steps as we see them from our meeting yesterday.

1) From today through Sept. 20, we focus heavily on raising funds - and please don't just look at your own checkbook.  Think of creative ways to take this project to your friends, bible study groups, etc.  How about a multi-family garage sale?  Other ideas along that line.  Get the word out.

2) If you want to volunteer to come in October for a week, 10 days, 2 weeks to work on this project, let me know as soon as possible via email so we can organize.  If you can get a small group together of your friends, family, etc., again, let me know as soon as possible.  I'll need a list of names, whether singles or couples, what skills they bring to the project, etc.  We will need to balance the team(s); in other words, we need the information necessary to properly and efficiently organize all aspects of getting the job done, as well as providing appropriate accommodations for the volunteers.

3) DO NOT buy a ticket til we get back to you! 

So - I hope to get emails from some of you in the next couple of days about volunteering and look forward to a very successful completion of Operation Issachar.  For those of you who cannot volunteer to come, but who are underwriting this project with your prayers and your gifts, you are VITAL to the success and we thank you so, so much!

Let's do it!

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Shalom and blessings,

Leah

One thing have I asked of Hashem, that will I seek after: that I may dwell in the house of Hashem all the days of my life, to behold the graciousness of Hashem, and to visit early in His temple.

Psalm 27:4
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