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Friday, Jan. 30 '15, Shevat 10, 5775


by Tova Dvorin

Renowned Israeli conductor Israel Yinon collapsed and died as he was conducting a concert in the Swiss city of Lucerne late Thursday, a spokesman said.

According to local media, the 59-year-old was in the middle of leading 'An Alpine Symphony' by German composer Richard Strauss when he slumped, falling headlong to the ground. 

Volunteers immediately rushed to do CPR; the orchestra hall was emptied after it was made clear that Yinon had suffered a severe injury. 

The cause of death was not immediately clear, but local media speculated that a head injury sustained from the fall could be a contributing factor. 

Born on January 11, 1956 in Kfar Saba in Israel, Yinon studied conducting, music theory and composition at the Rubin Academy of Music in Tel Aviv Jerusalem's Music Academy.
Yinon served as guest conductor with numerous orchestras, including the BBC Symphony Orchestra, the Jerusalem Symphony Orchestra, the London Royal Philharmonic, Royal Antwerp Flemish Philharmonic, the Vienna Symphony and the German Symphony Orchestra Berlin.
AFP contributed to this report. 

by Uzi Baruch, Yoni Kempinski


New York State Assemblyman Dov Hikind, a veteran Jewish leader and radio host, told Arutz Sheva he is "thrilled" to have Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu coming to visit Washington and deliver a speech to Congress.
"Unfortunately – Democrats and Republicans in Congress don't trust Barack Obama," said Hikind, who is a Democrat. "It hurts me to say this about my president. I love America. But when Barack Obama said at the State of the Union that Iran has stopped moving toward nuclear armament – he was not telling the truth. The International Atomic Energy Agency said that this was not the truth, what he said. This is not a difference of opinion between Israel and the US – this is about an existential threat to the people of Israel. The first target of Iran, God forbid, are the people of Israel.
"I do not trust Obama's word. I am thrilled that the prime minister of Israel, Benjamin Netanyahu, is going to have an opportunity to speak to the leaders of America, the Congress of the United States, representing all 50 states, and to present the concerns that Israel has. And by the way, with all the criticism of the prime minister coming from many different places, this will get more attention than ever before. He will have an opportunity to present the facts in terms of the threat from Iran."

Not an enemy but not a friend
Asked if he sees Obama as an enemy of Israel, Assemblyman Hikind said that he doesn't think Obama is an enemy of Netanyahu or of the people of Israel.

However, he added "I also don't think he's the kind of friend that we need in such difficult times. Israel lives in a very difficult neighborhood. There's no country in the world that faces the threats that Israel faces on every single border. And we're talking about a small country. Israel cannot afford to lose once, God forbid. I think there's an ideology and a philosophy that Obama has, that I believe could endanger the people of Israel. In poll after poll in Israel, people on the political left, on the center and right overwhelmingly say they do not feel that Obama is a true friend.
"You know who the example to me, is, of a real friend? The prime minister of Canada, (Stephen) Harper. Our neighbor to the north. They get it – they understand."
Asked what causes anti-Semitism and how it can be stopped, Hikind said: "There's no clear answer for that – it's something that people have been talking about for ever and ever. Trying to figure out how to deal with anti-Semitism. It's something that will always be there. It's part of every single society, in some places more, in some places less. There are people who talk about education. 'We have to educate people.' That's a wonderful thing to say. But in France, as an example, where the anti-Semitism is out of control, a lot of that anti-Semitism comes from the intellectual class. From the smart people. The people who have degrees, who write books, who are very very smart. How do we educate them, the intellectuals?
"We should never give up. We always have to explain the facts. About the people of Israel in this little piece of land in the Middle East who are trying to live life in peace and tranquility. That's all they want. Israel's position is such simple one, but it seems so complicated throughout the world. So we should try to do what we can. Will we ever be successful? No, but we can maybe make things a little better."

What are Israeli voters thinking?

Hikind admits that he is baffled by the mind of the Israeli voter. "I watch what's going on in Israel and I watch it very carefully my entire life. I don't understand how Likud and Labor can be close in the polls. As far as Tzipi Livni is concerned, there's nothing to discuss. She is probably a very confused person, in terms of what her own beliefs are. She comes from one end, to the middle, to the other end, to the middle. She is confused.
"As far as Herzog is concerned, all I can say is one thing: I'm not impressed with him. Is this the person that is going to confront the challenges that the people of Israel face right now?
"I would urge everyone to remember one thing. Who does Barack Obama want to be the next prime minister of Israel? The answer is Labor. Because if Labor is in power, Obama will be able to dictate to the people of Israel what exactly should be done. Obama has nightmares regarding Netanyahu getting reelected.
"I like people like Naftali Bennett and other people who I think are great future leaders of Israel, but as far as prime minister during these difficult times with a threat from Iran that involves the very existence of the state of Israel – the only choice is Benjamin Netanyahu."

Regarding the issue of "gay marriage" that has become a wedge issue in Israeli politics given Jewish law forbidding homosexuality, Hikind makes clear that he is "obviously totally against same sex marriage." But he adds that with regard to Israel, "if someone asked me whether he should vote for a party that is not clear on that subject, I would not tell him to automatically disqualify that party. Protecting Israel's security is the most important issue for me.
As for Yesh Atid, which prides itself on promoting same sex marriage, he says: "It's very unfortunate, if someone runs for office and their entire platform is meant to divide the people of Israel, that's very unfortunate. People like Yair Lapid – his purpose is to divide the Jewish people. It is very clear to me that Lapid and his father before him, their purpose was to create a schism. It can't be that 'if you are religious, you are living in the dark ages, you are backward.' When the Jewish people are united, we can defeat our enemies. If we are fighting one another – that can lead to internal destruction.
Deep influences

Hikind readily admits that he was deeply influenced by former MK Rabbi Meir Kahane hy''d. "When I was 18, I went to Yeshivas Torah Vada'at. I remember hearing about Soviet Jewry – that we have to help our brothers and sisters who are living in the Soviet Union. Rabbi Kahane taught me to actually practice love of Israel, not just talk about it. So he had a tremendous influence on my life. I wish he was here today to deal with these difficult times. He was a brilliant man, and many things that he predicted 30 years ago are happening right now.
An even more central influence is the memory of the Holocaust. "My mother went to Auschwitz in 1944, with her family. Her mother went straight to the gas chamber. Can you believe this? My grandmother went to a gas chamber? Nephews and nieces, brothers and sisters of my mother went to gas chambers? Other people did this to our people? My whole life is determined by what happened to my family. My responsibility to be there for a fellow Jew, to fight for our people, is all determined by the experiences of our people.
"I know everyone has heard this so many times. But we need to hear it again: six million people. Two million children murdered by intellectuals, by the most advanced country in Europe during that time. They took our children and murdered them. And you know something – little has changed in the world. Unfortunately, there are people out there today in the world, who if they had the opportunity today to do the same thing to our people, would do it again."

by Tova Dvorin

Likud continues to top Labor Friday, according to the latest in a flurry of polls released by the major Israeli news agencies this week - as the public strays toward supporting the largest parties in the 20th Knesset. 

Likud edged out Labor, according to the TNS poll for Walla! News, at 27 and 26 seats, respectively. 

Far behind is Jewish Home, which ties for third with the united Arab parties at 12 seats each.

Jewish Home is suffering a major fall in seats, according to the latest polls, down from a projected 16-18 seats in surveys earlier this month; the downward spiral has been linked to drama relating to Naftali Bennett's reserving the number eight spot for ex-soccer star Eli Ohana, who stepped down amid a wave criticism.

In the so-called Center bloc, Yesh Atid is above Kulanu, at 8 and 7 seats. Yisrael Beytenu has made a quiet comeback with six seats, up from a meager four earlier this week. 

Haredi parties Shas and United Torah Judaism are projected to gain 7 seats each, with Eli Yishai's Yachad - Ha'am Itanu passing the threshold at 4 seats. It is unclear if that figure takes into account the recent addition of Otzma Yehudit's Baruch Marzel to the list.

Neck-and-neck for coalition

While recent results project the greater likelihood of a voter victory for the right wing, the race is still tight to form a coalition. 

According to these results, Likud has a slight edge, as a pact with Jewish Home and Ha'am Itanu - the two other parties most likely to form a Likud coalition - would gain a total of 43 seats. 

Labor is still close behind with a 42-seat pact, however, between Labor, the Arab list, and Meretz. Yisrael Beytenu has said it will not sit together with Meretz.

Walla! presents an alternative solid bloc for the Left, swapping the Arab parties for Yesh Atid. This would gain even fewer seats, at just 38; it adds that both haredi parties (Shas and UTJ, at 14 seats combined) and Kulanu (8) seats and Yisrael Beytenu (6) seats are the "swing" parties of the hour critical to forming a coalition. 

A majority of 61 seats are needed to form a coalition. 

Yesh Atid is not likely to sit in a Likud government, after Chairman Yair Lapid was booted out of the 19th Knesset for reportedly staging a "putsch" attempt against Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu despite multiple reprimands, thus reducing the right-wing center swing to 13 seats. 

Jewish Home in trouble?

Walla!, like a competing Ma'ariv poll published hours earlier, asked respondents on their opinion of Jewish Home Chairman Naftali Bennett, and his handling of the party list. 

This week, Ohana dropped out of the race after a controversy erupted over his candidacy, during which MK Zevulun Kalfa quit and was locked out of the Jewish Home party by Bennett. Yesha Council chairman Danny Dayan, number 20 on the list, also dropped out shortly thereafter. 

A full 29% of respondents stated that Bennett "had handled the composition of the list poorly," with 26% answering he handled the crisis "very poorly." 

Just 15% of respondents thought he handled the list "well," with 9% saying he handled it "very well." 

All in all, 425 respondents answered the poll, with a 4.8% margin of error. 

by Tova Dvorin

A Greek politician who claimed that Jews "don't pay taxes" has been elected as Defense Minister, Greek media reported Thursday night, amid already-high concerns over rising anti-Semitism in the country that is only expected to worsen following recent elections.

Panos Kammenos of the Syriza party made the comments during an interview with Greek Ant-1 TV, according to New Greek TV, on December 18 - just days after the drive-by shooting at the Israeli Embassy in Athens.

Local Jewish leaders were outraged at the comments. 

"It is a disgrace that a leader of a party in Parliament does not know that Greek Jews are equal citizens and subject to the all the rights and obligations of every citizen," the Central Board of Jewish Communities in Greece stated in response at the time, noting that Jews pay the same taxes as Greek Christians. 

It is worth noting that with the collapse of ties between Israel and Turkey, the IDF has increasingly been training with the Greek military, something that is likely to be influenced by Kammenos's placement as defense minister.

Fears of snowballing anti-Semitism have been raised again this week with Syriza's rise to power, even before Kammenos was elected to the post. 

"The Jewish community in Greece is concerned about the developments and fears that due to the election results the relations between Israel and Greece are in danger," Rabbi Mordechai Frizis, former chief rabbi of Salonika in Greece, stated to Arutz Sheva on Monday. 

Two members of the Syriza party had been aboard the Mavi Marmara flotilla which attempted to break the "siege on Gaza" in 2010, during which activists attacked IDF soldiers with metal bars and knives and forcing them to use lethal force to defend their lives.

Over 5,000 Jews live in Greece, which has experienced a sharp rise in anti-Israel and anti-Semitic attacks on Jewish sites and landmarks. The Larissa cemetery has been vandalized several times over the past two months, and the Israeli Embassy in Athens was shot at in December. 

According to the Anti-Defamation League (ADL), 69% of Greeks believe in anti-Semitic stereotypes - the highest score outside the Middle East and Africa. 

by Arutz Sheva Staff

Palestinian Authority (PA) Chairman Mahmoud Abbas will visit Stockholm next month after Sweden became the first major state of the European Union to recognize the PA as "Palestine," the Swedish government announced Friday.

"The visit of president Abbas, by invitation from the prime minister, is confirmed for February 10," foreign ministry spokeswoman Ulla Jacobson told AFP. "He will also meet the foreign minister, the king and the archbishop."

She said the agenda would include the Arab-Israeli peace process and "what Sweden can offer after (its) recognition" of "Palestine" in October.

The announcement of Sweden's recognition of "Palestine" in late October saw withering verbal jabs about IKEA furniture between Foreign Minister Avigdor Liberman and Swedish foreign minister Margot Wallstrom, as well as Swedish financial institutions boycotting Israeli companies.

Most recently, Wallstrom announced she was indefinitely postponing a planned trip to Israel; Israel responded that Wallstrom was not welcome for an official visit in the country.

by Ido Ben-Porat, Ari Yashar

Rabbi Tzvi Tau, head of Yeshivat Har Hamor and the rabbi of MK Yoni Chetboun, felt the need to clarify on Friday that he distances himself from Chetboun's Yachad - Ha'am Itanu party headed by Eli Yishai, after it included Baruch Marzel of Otzma Yehudit in its list.

Rabbi Tau's decision evidently comes due to his opinion that Jews should not ascend to the Temple Mount over a fear that they may enter forbidden areas. For his part, Yishai's rabbinic counsel Rabbi Meir Mazuz has ruled that Jews should visit the holiest site in Judaism as long as they avoid those areas.

In tense talks to form a joint list, one of the last minute demands leveled by Rabbi Tau on Marzel was to obligate himself not to ascend to the Mount, which Marzel refused, leading the rabbi to pull his support.

Marzel's party had previously consulted with Rabbi Dov Lior, chief rabbi of Hevron - Kiryat Arba, who told them to refuse the demand. Otzma Yehudit wants the Mount to be a central issue, demanding that it be freed from the discriminatory de facto Jordanian Waqf control that forbids Jewish prayer, and attempts to erase the Jewish nature of the site.

Rabbi Tau wrote a "clarification" letter in which he said "the founding of this party in its current formation and selecting its representatives (after it joined with the enthusiastic) was done not according to me and without my agreement."

"I know how to make plenty of noise alone"

Despite the rabbi's decision to pull his support, Chetboun ended up not following through with a last minute threat to resign from the party on Thursday, and that night the party presented its list with Marzel on the fourth spot, after Otzma Yehudit head former MK Dr. Michael Ben-Ari was removed from the list due to a demand by Yishai's party.

After submitting the list, Marzel told Arutz Sheva "I will fill the great void that Ben-Ari left here in the Knesset and I will fight against the unity of the enemies of Israel that are poised to grow thanks to (Avigdor) Liberman."

The statement refers to the fact that Liberman is likely to join a leftist coalition headed by Labor, after revealing his national plan that is replete with massive land concessions.

"After the elections apparently I'll split off into a lone faction," said Marzel, explaining the technical bloc method by which the two parties joined so that Yishai can join a Likud coalition and Otzma Yehudit can ensure its ideological red lines aren't crossed in the opposition. "Believe me, I know how to make plenty of noise alone."

Marzel started off strongly in that goal, refusing to shake hands with Central Elections Committee chair judge Salim Joubran, who "just recently...asked to cancel the punishment of the terrorist (MK) Hanin Zoabi, and in a session I was present at he behaved with her with fondness."

"Joubran isn't loyal to the people of Israel and I don't shake hands with those who act against us," said Marzel. Joubran raised a storm in 2012 by refusing to sing Hatikva, the national anthem of the state of Israel.

by Ben Ariel

A judge in Florida’s Broward County on Thursday declared that Guma Aguiar, the Jewish philanthropist who disappeared off Fort Lauderdale in June, 2012, is dead, according to NBC Miami.

Aguiar, 35, was last seen on a surveillance video taking a fishing boat out into choppy waters. His 31-foot long boat surfaced early the next morning off Las Olas Boulevard with the lights and engine still running.

Aguiar's wallet and cell phone were found on board, but no remains of him were ever found, despite intense search efforts.

According to NBC Miami, his family members had sought to have him declared dead in order to control his estate, which is estimated to be around $100 million.

His mother, Ellen Aguiar, and wife, Jamie, had been locked in lawsuits for control of the fortune, the report noted.

Jamie accused her mother-in-law of wanting to drive a wedge between her and Guma, while Ellen said that the reason Guma went out to sea on the day he disappeared was that he was distraught after Jamie told him she wants to divorce him. Jamie completely denies this version of events.

In November, a court approved a compromise agreed upon by the sides, according to which Aguiar’s estate would be divided among his heirs.

Aguiar gained sudden fame in Israel as a charismatic figure who was associated with the Israeli religious right wing and gave generously to Torah institutes and yeshivas. He also bought Jerusalem's Beitar Jerusalem soccer team.

by Arutz Sheva Staff

A gunman was arrested on Thursday in one of the studios of Dutch news broadcaster NOS after disrupting the main evening news and reportedly demanding airtime.

According to the BBC, staff were evacuated from the building, located in the Media Park in the central city of Hilversum.


The man, smartly dressed and carrying a long pistol, paced around a studio that appeared to be empty, according to the report.

When armed police confronted him, he dropped the gun and was overpowered.

During the disruption to the NOS news program, the channel broadcast a message reading, "In connection with circumstances, no broadcast is available at this time".

The man's motive is still unclear. The NOS footage shows him saying, "The things that are going to be said [pause] - those are very large world affairs. We were hired by the security service."

A threatening letter the gunman allegedly gave to staff, warning of bomb and cyber attacks if he was prevented from going on air, has been published on the NOS website in Dutch.

A reporter who spoke to the man said he had claimed to be from a "hackers' collective", according to reports.

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