Israeli-American teen arrested for wave of bomb threats against U.S. Jews (& “Tomb of Jesus reopens”)

March 23, 2017

While Iran’s Supreme Leader, in his address to the nation for Nowruz, the Persian New Year, claimed that global feminism is a “Zionist plot”, U.S. President Trump sent warm New Year greetings to the Iranian people.



[Note by Tom Gross]

I attach several articles below.

In the first, The Jerusalem Post reports that Israeli authorities (in coordination with the FBI and other international agencies) have arrested a 19-year-old U.S.-born Israeli-American dual citizen on suspicion of instigating over 100 bomb threats against Jewish institutions and communities in the U.S., Europe, Australia and New Zealand over the past six months.

The Israeli paper Haaretz adds that Israeli police say the arrested teenager used advanced technology and voice-altering equipment. During the Israeli cyber unit’s raid on the teen’s home, police found a computer lab with sophisticated encryption and transmission systems.

These dispatches have often touched on the subject of Jewish self-hate, especially among far left Jewish journalists and academics who have demonized Israel and Jews in general, though Jewish self-hate is sometimes found on the far-right too.

As I have pointed out before, the subject of Jewish self-hate is a powerful and in many ways understudied phenomenon. It is often based on “Stockholm syndrome”-type psychological abuse, where an oppressed person tries to side with or identify with his persecutor or oppressor.

Earlier this month, a former left-wing journalist, Juan Thompson (who is African-American), was arrested in the U.S. and charged with making at least eight bomb threats against Jewish community centers and the Anti-Defamation League. (See item 9 here for my comments on the distorted media coverage concerning that arrest.)

(The phenomenon of self-hate can also occasionally be found among homosexuals and others minorities. It seems that the more persecuted the minority is, the more likely it is to occur.)


1. “Dual U.S.-Israeli citizen behind most JCC bomb threat calls” (Jerusalem Post, March 23, 2017)
2. “Israeli-American teen arrested in Israel for JCC bomb threats” (JTA, March 23, 2017)
3. “Iran’s Supreme Leader says feminism is a “Zionist plot”” (The Independent, March 21, 2017)
4. “Trump celebrates Persian New Year” (The Hill, Washington, March 22, 2017)
5. “‘Hero’ MP Tobias Ellwood tried to save stabbed officer” (BBC News, March 23, 2017)
6. “Erdogan warns Europeans ‘will not walk safely’ if attitude persists” (Reuters, March 22, 2017)
7. “Tomb of Jesus Reopens to Public After $3 Million Restoration” (New York Times, March 22, 2017)




Dual U.S.-Israeli citizen behind most JCC bomb threat calls
By Yonah Jeremy Bob
Jerusalem Post
March 23, 2017

Israeli authorities have arrested an 19-year-old suspect on suspicion of instigating a series of threats to Jewish communities in the US, Europe, Australia and New Zealand over the past six months.

An 19-year-old dual US-Israeli citizen from Ashkelon has been arrested on suspicion of standing behind most of a series of bomb and other threats to Jewish communities ranging from the US, Europe, Australia and New Zealand over the past six months, The Jerusalem Post has learned.

As of Thursday, with a gag order on the probe lifted by the Rishon Lezion Magistrate’s Court, which extended his detention, sources indicate that most of the cases of threats against Jewish communities and organizations, though not all, led investigators back to Israel.

The first threat, which stood out and was picked up on by Israeli investigators, occurred in New Zealand around six month ago and led to the opening of the investigation.

Israel has been the lead coordinator with a number of other involved countries throughout the course of the probe.

The suspect used complex methods to shield himself from identification, and law enforcement had to use a variety of their own complex methods to find him.

Law enforcement finally searched the suspect’s house on Thursday and are only now fully being able to piece together the breadth and methodology of his operations.

There are still few details available about the suspect’s profile, but he is not in the IDF, not ultra-Orthodox, and at some point made aliya and possibly has psychological and social problems.

The suspect’s father has also been detained and is being questioned as to whether he knew about the suspect’s activities, including the suspect’s use of a large antenna and other unusual hardware which could have drawn suspicion.

It is unknown how many others might have worked with the suspect, but it is believed that he was the main operator of the scare-spree and might have even acted completely on his own.

As of Thursday, it was still unclear what the suspect’s motivations were for the scare-spree which made international headlines. In light of the threats, US President Donald Trump faced accusations that he was light on fighting antisemitism when he did not initially condemn the scares along with some vandalism of Jewish graves, which presumably were not connected to the suspect.

Israel intends to indict the suspect in its own courts, but it is unknown as of Thursday whether other countries like the US might also seek to extradite and try him for his alleged crimes.

Police Spokesman Mickey Rosenfeld told the Post that, “this is one of the numerous ongoing police operations that take place with other international security and intelligence organizations in order to try to find suspects.”

“This specific investigation was complex in terms of the suspect and its nature and there was a significant breakthrough in the investigation which led us to make the arrest of the suspect who lives in Southern Israel,” he said.

Rosenfeld continued, noting that “he was the main suspect behind the numerous amount of threats which were made to different Jewish communities and organizations around the world.”

Further, Rosenfeld said that, “as part of the ongoing investing, we are trying to see if and how he was connected to the different Jewish communities in the US. That directs the investigation as to the American connection. We are looking to see if there was an incident which triggered him to carry out threatening those communities.”



Israeli-American teen arrested in Israel for JCC bomb threats
Jewish Telegraphic Agency
March 23, 2017

JERUSALEM (JTA) — An Israeli teenager who also has American citizenship was arrested on suspicion of carrying out more than 100 bomb threats on Jewish institutions in the United States.

Israel’s anti-fraud squad arrested the 19-year-old suspect at his home in southern Israel and searched the premises on Thursday. He also is accused of a series of threats made in Europe, Australia and New Zealand in the past six months, according to reports in Israel.

Israeli police said the teen has been the subject of months-long undercover investigation by the anti-fraud unit, as well as the FBI in the United States and law enforcement in other countries. He has lived in Israel for many years, Haaretz reported.

He was scheduled to appear in court in Rishon Lezion on Thursday for a remand hearing. His motives are unknown, according to reports.

While the teen will be indicted in Israel, it is likely that the United States will request his extradition to be tried there.

The teen reportedly used advanced technology and voice-altering equipment to call in the threats to more than 100 JCCs, Jewish day schools and other Jewish institutions in the United States, according to The Times of Israel. He also is accused of making a threatening call to Delta Airlines, leading to the emergency landing of at least one plane.

During the cyber unit’s raid on the teen’s home, police found a computer lab with sophisticated equipment, encryption and transmission systems, and a powerful antenna, according to reports.

The army refused to draft the teen after finding him unfit for service, Haaretz reported.

His father also has been detained on suspicion that he knew about his son’s activities, according to The Jerusalem Post.

Israel’s minister of public security, Gilad Erdan, commented on the teen’s arrest.

“I congratulate the Israeli police on leading a complex international investigation, together with law enforcement agencies from around the world, which led to the arrest of the suspect,” Erdan said. “We hope that this investigation will help shed light on some of the recent threats against Jewish institutions, which have caused great concern both among Jewish communities and the Israeli government.”

Earlier this month, a St. Louis resident and former journalist, Juan Thompson, was arrested and charged for making at least eight bomb threats against Jewish community centers and the Anti-Defamation League.

Thompson, 31, made some of the threats in the name of a former romantic partner he had been cyberstalking and some in his own in an attempt to portray himself as being framed. He was charged with cyberstalking, which carries a maximum sentence of five years in prison.



Iran’s Supreme Leader says feminism is a “Zionist plot”
By Lizzie Dearden
The Independent (London)
March 21, 2017

Ayatollah Ali Khamenei told a meeting of religious speakers that Iranians should resist feminist ideas and instead hold the Prophet Mohamed’s daughter Fatimah as their ideal.

“Making women a commodity and an object of gratification in the Western world is most likely among Zionist plots aiming to destroy the society,” he said, according to a

“Today, Western thinkers and those who pursue issues such as gender equality regret the corruption which it has brought about.”

Khamenei claimed that men and women are equal in the “ascendance of spiritual positions, the power of leadership, and the capability to lead humankind”, but that some tasks for women “collapse and humiliate” their primary roles as housewives and mothers.

A report by the government-controlled Mehr news agency said the Supreme Leader “expressed hope that views of those who raised similar [gender equality] issues inside Iran were not based on the Western misconception”.

Iranian women are heavily restricted in their personal and public lives, including with state-enforced dress codes, curbs on higher education courses, jobs and sporting activities open to them, and freedom of movement under controls requiring a husband’s signature to leave the country.

Many have been rallying round movements like My Stealthy Freedom, which combats the compulsory hijab, but women found to have broken “morality” laws have been arrested and forced into public apologies.

Among them are women detained for breaking a fatwa issued by Khamenei to ban women cycling in public – claiming it “attracts the attention of men and…contravenes women’s chastity” - as well as others arrested for posting “vulgar” photos without headscarves on Instagram.

Iranian religious leaders frequently cast pushes towards gender equality as part of conspiracy by the West or enemy “Zionists” in Israel.

Earlier this month, Khamenei issued a speech warning that “cultural attacks by the enemy are more dangerous than military attacks”, hitting out at human rights groups and think tanks.

Urging Iranians to resist using their “cultural wealth”, he called for renewed holy war, adding: “What is cultural wealth? For example, willingness for and belief in jihad is an example of cultural wealth.”

The Supreme Leader has recently engaged in a public dispute with Donald Trump, accusing the US President of disrespecting Iran and calling mass protests.

Mr Trump sparked anger in Tehran following a series of Twitter tirades following its test launch of a ballistic missile, after repeatedly attacking the landmark nuclear deal struck by his predecessor and calling the country “#1 in terror”.

Iranian leaders claimed the launch, which sparked international concern, did not violate the terms of the agreement with world powers in 2015 to constrain its nuclear capabilities.



Trump celebrates Persian New Year
By Jordan Fabian
The Hill (Washington)
March 22, 2017 briefing-room/news-other- administration/325177-trump- celebrates-persian-new-year

President Trump on Wednesday marked the Persian new year, Nowruz, amid heightened tensions between the U.S. and Iran.

“To the Iranian people and all those around the world celebrating Nowruz: On behalf of the American people, I wish you freedom, dignity, and wealth,” Trump said in a statement.

The president recognized Iranian-Americans as “one of the most successful immigrant groups in our country’s contemporary history” who “share an affection for their ancestral heritage” despite their diverse religious backgrounds.

Trump said the holiday’s theme of new beginnings is “a sentiment that is particularly meaningful for so many Iranians who have come to our country in recent decades to make a new start in a free land.”

Until Wednesday, it was unclear whether Trump would continue the tradition issuing Nowruz greetings. He has taken a much harder line against Tehran than former President Barack Obama, who brokered a nuclear deal with the longtime U.S. foe.

Trump has twice included Iran on a list of countries whose citizens were temporarily banned from entering the country over what he said are terrorism concerns. Both executive orders on travel have been blocked by federal courts.

The president also dispatched then-national security adviser Michael Flynn to the White House briefing room to put Iran “on notice” in response to recent ballistic missile tests.

And Trump has repeatedly criticized the nuclear deal, most recently during a meeting with Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi.

“One of the things I asked him was why did President Obama sign that agreement for Iran, because nobody has been able to figure that one out,” the president said. “Maybe someday we’ll be able to figure it out.”

Obama tried to use his Nowruz messages to forge closer ties with Iran and persuade its leaders to support the nuclear agreement.



‘Hero’ MP Tobias Ellwood tried to save stabbed officer
BBC News
23 March 2017

Foreign Office Minister Tobias Ellwood has been called a “hero” after he was pictured giving first aid to PC Keith Palmer, one of the casualties of the London terror attack.
PC Palmer was stabbed by the attacker, who was shot by police.

Mr Ellwood, a Conservative MP and former Army officer, performed mouth-to-mouth resuscitation on PC Palmer in New Palace Yard, Westminster.

Four people, including the police officer and the attacker, died.

At least 40 people were injured, including three other officers.

Eyewitnesses described scenes of panic as the attacker was shot several times as he approached a second police officer close to the Houses of Parliament.
Paramedics fought to save his life, and that of his victim, on the floor of the cobbled courtyard in front of Parliament.

Mr Ellwood - whose brother died in the Bali terrorist bombing in 2002 - was among those who rushed to help and attempted mouth-to-mouth resuscitation of injured PC Palmer.

His friend of 20 years, Conservative MP Adam Afriyie, told the BBC he saw him heading towards the scene despite police instructions to rush to safety.

Photographs showed the MP’s bloodied hands and face as he applied pressure to the officer’s wounds.

Tobias Ellwood is a former Army officer, whose brother died in the 2002 Bali terrorist bombing

His actions attracted admiration from his Westminster colleagues.

Conservative MP Ben Howlett tweeted: “Tobias Ellwood is an absolute hero for what he did to help the policeman this afternoon!”

Meanwhile, Liberal Democrat leader Tim Farron said: “Today, Tobias gave MPs a good name.

“He was utterly heroic, pure and simple. He went above and beyond and did all he could to save a police officer.”

The Bournemouth East MP is a Foreign Office minister, with the Middle East, Africa and counter terrorism listed among the areas within his brief.



Erdogan warns Europeans ‘will not walk safely’ if attitude persists, as row carries on
By Ece Toksabay and Tuvan Gumrukcu
March 22, 2017

ANKARA (Reuters) - President Tayyip Erdogan said on Wednesday that Europeans would not be able to walk safely on the streets if they kept up their current attitude toward Turkey, his latest salvo in a row over campaigning by Turkish politicians in Europe.

Turkey has been embroiled in a dispute with Germany and the Netherlands over campaign appearances by Turkish officials seeking to drum up support for an April 16 referendum that could boost Erdogan’s powers.

Ankara has accused its European allies of using “Nazi methods” by banning Turkish ministers from addressing rallies in Europe over security concerns. The comments have led to a sharp deterioration in ties with the European Union, which Turkey still aspires to join.

“Turkey is not a country you can pull and push around, not a country whose citizens you can drag on the ground,” Erdogan said at an event for Turkish journalists in Ankara, in comments broadcast live on national television.

“If Europe continues this way, no European in any part of the world can walk safely on the streets. Europe will be damaged by this. We, as Turkey, call on Europe to respect human rights and democracy,” he said.

Germany’s Frank-Walter Steinmeier used his first speech as president on Wednesday to warn Erdogan that he risked destroying everything his country had achieved in recent years, and that he risked damaging diplomatic ties.

“The way we look (at Turkey) is characterized by worry, that everything that has been built up over years and decades is collapsing,” Steinmeier said in his inaugural speech in the largely ceremonial role.

He called for an end to the “unspeakable Nazi comparisons.”

Turkish Deputy Prime Minister Numan Kurtulmus said earlier that although Turkish government officials were still taking part in events for expatriate Turks across Europe, they were not campaigning for the referendum.

The Union of European Turkish Democrats, which organizes events in Europe, said on Tuesday that Turkish leaders would no longer hold campaign rallies in Germany after an ally of Chancellor Angela Merkel said they were not welcome.

Germany, home to some 1.4 million Turks eligible to vote in the referendum, has been angered by the Nazi comparisons and Merkel has demanded that Ankara halt the rhetoric. Erdogan, however, has repeated the message in speech after speech.

The Netherlands, also home to a large ethnic Turkish diaspora, has been embroiled in a similar row with Turkey.

Kurtulmus, who is also the Turkish government’s chief spokesman, repeated the rhetoric on Wednesday, saying the “footsteps of neo-Nazism and extreme racism” could be heard in Europe.

Another deputy prime minister, Veysi Kaynak, meanwhile criticized Norway for granting asylum to Turkish military officers suspected of links to the religious network accused by Ankara of orchestrating last July’s coup attempt.

“This, unfortunately, in my opinion, is the first sign that Europe, which suffered from civil wars that cost the lives of innocent people for hundreds of years, ... is turning into that Dark Age again,” Kaynak was quoted by the state-run Anadolu news agency as saying.

The Turkish foreign ministry’s spokesman said later on Wednesday that the ministry had summoned the Norwegian ambassador to Ankara to express Turkey’s concerns over Norway’s decision to grant asylum to the individuals.

Since the failed coup, which Ankara says was orchestrated by U.S.-based cleric Fetullah Gulen, some 40,000 people have been arrested in Turkey and more than 100,000 sacked or suspended from the military, civil service and private sector, while others have sought asylum abroad.

The foreign ministry’s spokesman said Turkey would continue to pursue the matter.


See also: Turkish anti-Semitism during Dutch protests.

And also the picture at the top of this dispatch.



Tomb of Jesus Reopens to Public After $3 Million Restoration
By Russell Goldman
New York Times
March 22, 2017

Thousands of Christian pilgrims and members of the clergy gathered at a modest shrine in Jerusalem’s Old City on Wednesday to celebrate the completion of a monthslong effort, hundreds of years in the making: The restoration and repair of Jesus’ tomb.

The shrine, known as the edicule and in danger of collapse, had been propped up by an unsightly iron cage since the 19th century. Constructed by the Roman emperor Constantine I in the fourth century, the shrine covers the cave in which, the faithful believe, Jesus was buried before his resurrection.

The edifice, contained in the Church of the Holy Sepulcher, is one of the faith’s holiest sites. It was worn down by centuries of water damage, fire, candle smoke, humidity, bird droppings, human visitors and disputes among feuding denominations, who share control of the church but were previously unable to agree on plans to fix the shrine.

“For the first time in over two centuries, this sacred edicule has been restored,” said the Greek Orthodox Patriarch Theophilos III of Jerusalem on Wednesday, when the restored shrine reopened to the public. “This is not only a gift to our holy land, but to the whole world.”

The Greek Orthodox, Armenian Orthodox and Roman Catholic denominations share custody of the church. The tomb was last restored in 1810 after a fire, but the religious custodians were compelled last year to make repairs after the Israeli authorities deemed the building unsafe.

The restoration cost more than $3 million, financed mostly by a donation from the World Monuments Fund, an American nonprofit organization. Other funding came from the three denominations and a personal donation from King Abdullah II of Jordan.

The work, which began in May 2016, was directed by Antonia Moropoulou, a professor at the National Technical University of Athens. The restorers removed the exterior stones from three sides of the edicule and created a special grout to “bond the masonry to the rock that lies at the core of the structure,” according to the World Monuments Fund.

In October, the restoration team revealed and removed a stone slab covering a marble bench on which Jesus was buried, according to tradition. The team also created an opening in a wall in the tomb, through which visitors can peer at the underlying rock.


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