Chosen: Crimes and Misdemeanors

By Shmarya Rosenberg

The Weekly Blotter

Yaacov Katz, a member of Israel’s parliament, the Knesset, wants to put all Bedouin in “pounds” and shoot any who smuggle African refugees into Israel in the head. (Ynet)

A former president of Israel, Moshe Katsav was convicted of rape, sexual assault, and related crimes committed while he was in office. (Ha’aretz)

Vos Iz Neias, the ultra-Orthodox website banned by ultra-Orthodox rabbis last week did not report the Katsav conviction even though Katsav is generally identified as Orthodox. But this is not a big departure for VIN, which in a terse 2007 report noted that Katsav  had asked to temporarily step down as president, but failed to mention the reason why – Katsav had just been indicted for sexual crimes. Mentioning sex and rape, even in very general terms, is generally not allowed in the ultra-Orthodox media.  (Failed Messiah)

Avi Cohen, an Israeli soccer star, was declared brain stem dead after a traffic accident. Cohen, who was an outspoken advocate of organ donation and who had made his personal wish to donate his organs perfectly clear, was prevented from having that final wish fulfilled when Orthodox and ultra-Orthodox rabbis who descended on the hospital after the accident, pressured Cohen’s family to cancel the donations. Cohen was buried, organs intact, while several Israelis who had hoped to live now face imminent death. (Ha’aretz)

A Five Towns-Far Rockaway fundraiser for convicted felon Sholom Rubashkin raised $160,000. Leading ultra-Orthodox and Orthodox rabbis spoke, and the event was held in an Orthodox synagogue. Rubashkin, the Chabad former king of glatt kosher meat who was convicted of 86 fraud-related counts earlier this year, is serving a 27-year sentence in a New York State federal penitentiary. In the 31 months since Agriprocessors, Rubashkin’s Postville, Iowa meat plant was raided by federal, state and local authorities,  there have been no Orthodox or ultra-Orthodox fundraisers for Rubashkin’s victims. (The Jewish Star)

A writer for Tablet Magazine, Liel Leibovitz, wrote an article comparing Moses to gangsta rappers. The piece, which could easily have been titled “Thou shalt not snitch,” advocates not calling police to report crimes. Leibovitz went as far as agreeing with gangsta rapper Cam’ron, who said he would not call police on a serial killer living next door. (Failed Messiah)

27 wives of Israeli Orthodox rabbis signed a letter urging Jewish women not to date, work with, or do national service with Arabs. (Ynet)

Michael Naky, accused of trying to detonate a makeshift explosive device in order to stop Jerusalem’s Gay Pride parade in 2007,  pleaded guilty and was sentenced to…6 months of community service. (Ynet)

Israeli diamond dealer David Vardi was caught trying to smuggle $200,000 worth of blood diamonds. Israel’s diamond exchange promptly expelled Vardi, saying it has a zero-tolerance policy for trafficking blood diamonds, which are used to fund terrorism and genocide in Africa. (AP)

The Antidote

Thousands of Israelis protested a government decision to build “detention camps” to house African refugees, calling the government’s treatment of the refugees “aggressive and racist.” (Ha’aretz)

In Memorium

Baruch Tegegne, the Ethiopian Jew who more than anyone else is responsible for the rescue of his people, passed away in Israel earlier this week. Baruch was 65-years-old. (Failed Messiah / Forward / Failed Messiah)

Shmarya Rosenberg publishes His reporting has been cited in the New York Times, Wall Street Journal, Columbia Journalism Review, Ha’aretz, Jerusalem Post, Forward, JTA and many other publications. He was named to both the Forward 50 and the Heeb 100 in 2008.

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About The Author

Shmarya Rosenberg

Shmarya Rosenberg has been published in Newsweek/The Daily Beast, Moment Magazine, the Forward, Tablet, StarTribune, Jewcy, Sh'ma and Heeb, and was profiled in the New York Times, Ha'aretz and the Jerusalem Post. His work has been cited in dozens of newspapers and broadcast media sources worldwide, including the Wall Street Journal, New York Times, New York Daily News, New York Post, New York Observer, AP, Des Moines Register, Ha'aretz, Jerusalem Post, and CNN and CNBC's America Greed. He is the publisher and editor of

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