Egypt to move tanks into Sinai for first time since 1973


Egypt reportedly is planning to introduce tanks in the Sinai for the first time since the 1973 war with Israel.

The plans, part of the country’s attempts to shut down terrorists in the area, are being finalized by Egypt’s newly appointed defense minister, Gen. Abdel Fattah al-Sisi, Reuters reported.

The movement of military hardware into the Sinai comes after a deadly attack earlier this month on Egyptian border guards that left 16 dead. Part of the assault included an attempt to breach the border with Israel. Israel reportedly had warned Egypt about the attack before it happened.

Following the attack, Israel agreed to the movement of additional Egyptian troops into the region to control the terrorists.

Under the 1979 peace treaty between Egypt and Israel, Israel agreed to withdraw its troops and citizens from the Sinai and return it to Egypt in return for normalized relations and a restriction on the number of Egyptian troops allowed to enter the Sinai, particularly near the border with Israel.

Israel has called on Egypt to control the terrorists in the Sinai.

Israeli officials have not commented to local media on the reported plans, but have said that Israeli and Egyptian security officials are in contact with each other.

The forgotten Jewish aviator


As the clouds and rain gave way to evening sunshine at Maryland’s historic College Park Airport, Rabbi Gil Steinlauf of Washington, DC’s Adas Israel Congregation recites the kaddish for one of aviation’s pioneers who died in a crash there on June 11, 1912, exactly 100 years to that day.

A crowd gathers to pay tribute and open a museum exhibit to commemorate the Russian-born Jew who was the Wright Brothers’ most trusted instructor, and whose student became the head of the U.S. Army’s air forces in World War II.

Arthur Welsh, born Laibel Wellcher, is hardly a household name today. Were it not for his death at age 31 at the College Park, Md. airport, he’d probably be lionized along with legends of flight like the Wrights, with whom he was so closely connected.

At age 9 in 1890, Welsh came to the U.S. and settled in Philadelphia with his family. Al, as family and friends knew him, moved to Washington in 1898. He was raised Jewish, attended meetings of The Young Zionist Union and joined the U.S. Navy in 1901. He served aboard two ships until he was discharged in 1905 as a seaman, and then became a bookkeeper. He and his wife Anna Harmel were the first couple married in Adas Israel’s second synagogue, now known as the Sixth & I Historic Synagogue, in October 1907.

Captivated by seeing one of the Wrights’ demonstration flights in Fort Myer, Va., in 1909, Welsh decided to become a pilot. His initial application to the Wrights was rejected, but Welsh was so determined that he traveled to their base in Dayton, Ohio, where they agreed to accept him as a student. He entered the first class of the Wright Flying School in Montgomery, Ala., in March 1910.

Welsh then trained with Orville Wright near Dayton and soon became an instructor at the Wright Flying School, where he later trained Henry “Hap” Arnold (who became the U.S. Air Force’s five-star general). He also joined the Wright’s exhibition team, and established records for both speed and altitude while he flew throughout 1910 and 1911. Welsh won a hefty $3,000 prize at the International Aviation Meet at Grant Park in Chicago in August 1911 for being the first to fly more than two hours with a passenger.

Sent to the U.S. Army’s Aviation School in College Park, Welsh in the spring of 1912 made 16 official test flights for the Army on the new Wright C plane. On June 11 of that year, Welsh and a Lieutenant Hazelhurst were attempting to meet the Army’s exacting loaded-climb test. According to the Jewish Historical Society of Greater Washington’s (JHSGW) website, they took off at 6 p.m. and “the plane climbed to about 200 feet and then dove downward at a steep angle to gain momentum to assist the climb.” The airplane then “stalled and crashed into a field of daisies,” and “both men were killed instantly, the first fatalities at the College Park airfield.”

Paul Glenshaw, an aviation historian with the Discovery of Flight Foundation, said Welsh “was the second of only two pilots trained by Orville Wright exclusively.” Glenshaw confirmed that Welsh was the first Jewish-American pilot. Historians further believe, but cannot confirm, that Welsh was the first Jewish aviator in history.

“The Wrights were very private,” Glenshaw said this month on the 100th anniversary of Welsh’s death. “Trust was earned. They did not bring people into their inner circle very easily. By November 2011, all their pilots were gone except Welsh.”

What made Welsh different was that he “didn’t make a lot of glaring headlines,” Glenshaw said.

“He was a married man,” said Glenshaw, who added that most other early pilots were millionaires, stuntmen or racecar drivers. “Here’s a short, little guy, apparently kind of gruff but he just did sober, straight-ahead flying.”

“It was probably through [Welsh’s] sheer determination and probably a great deal of charm that he was able to get into the Wrights’ inner circle and to become their good friend,” Glenshaw added.

The cause and details of the fatal crash were not completely clear, although many observers—including journalists—were present. Welsh was apparently ejected, and crushed his skull as he crash-landed in a field of daisies. Some accounts say the wings collapsed or that the plane buckled, with one saying it fell from only 30 feet. An Army investigation concluded that Welsh was at fault, but that was disputed. Welsh and Hazelhurst were but two of 11 killed in Wright Model C flights by 1913.

Welsh’s funeral, held on June 13, 1912, was briefly postponed so that Orville Wright and his sister Katharine could come from Dayton. It was just two weeks after the funeral of their brother, Wilbur. Wright served as a pallbearer along with Lt. Arnold. Welsh was buried in the Adas Israel Cemetery in Anacostia (which is in Washington). In his autobiography, General Arnold said Welsh “taught me all he knew, or rather, he had taught me all he could teach. He knew much more.”

Welsh’s widow died in 1926, and their daughter Aline moved to England and lived until her 90s.

The public reception marking the 100 anniversary of Welsh’s death featured speakers, the new exhibition, and descendants of the great aviator. A commemorative sign honoring his unique place in aviation history was unveiled along with an Arthur Welsh Commemorative Medal, commissioned by the Jewish Historical Society of Greater Washington (JHSGW) and sculpted by former Leningrad Mint Chief Engraver Alex Shagin. JHSGW President Laura Applebaum remarked that, “The notion of a Jewish immigrant penetrating the inner circle of the Wright Brothers seemed improbable.”

Cathy Allen, former College Park Aviation Museum director, recalled how the late Adas Israel rabbi, Stanley Rabinowitz, had once insisted to her that any exhibit about Welsh should prominently say he was a Jew. Allen recalled the rabbi admonishing her by saying that, “Being Jewish is why Al Welsh is who he was”.

The Welsh exhibit in College Park runs until Sept. 3. For more information visit www.collegeparkaviationmuseum.com.

Up close and personal with the TSA


Recent days have been full of continually unfolding reports about a new intercepted underwear bomb intended to be carried aboard a U.S.-bound plane by an al-Qaida agent. That agent, said to be British, turned out to be working simultaneously with Saudi and U.S. intelligence, and the bomb never got near a plane. But as I prepared last week to board a flight to Alaska, where I would be participating in a conference devoted to the ethical work of Jewish philosopher Emmanuel Levinas, I couldn’t help but wonder what role this newly acquired knowledge will play in upcoming discussions about airport security and the effectiveness of the Transportation Security Administration (TSA).

Even though the TSA’s screening program played no part in thwarting this potential terrorist attack, the question of whether the existence of this bomb will help justify continuing the enormous sums of taxpayer money being poured into body-scanning technology has already begun to haunt me.

Over the past decade, something new has come to define the American ethos: fear. It isn’t as if fear had no part of our impulses until this moment, but the heightened fear that the world is a dangerous place has come to characterize the 21st century American mindset. It is a fear upon which we have allowed institutions to prey, so much that, since the events of 9/11, we have stopped asking many questions that still matter.

Jews are taught to question, and I have found that asking the right questions often leads to taking action. I have made a decision not to allow fear to lead my life, and I am committed to questioning any behavior that seems to have its basis in post-9/11 fear mongering. And that is how I came to find myself earlier this year in a face-off with a TSA agent at Los Angeles International Airport (LAX). In that moment, I became achingly aware of just how critical — and difficult — it can be not only to ask the right questions, but also to do so even when asking those questions causes inconvenience. Still, simply doing what one is told, for me, is more transgressive and more destructive than inconvenience.

I was traveling from Los Angeles to Boston. My companion and I had made a decision not to submit to the virtual strip-searches routinely conducted by body-scanner machines. We had two reasons: First, the images of nude bodies transmitted by the machines are indecent and immodest. Even the newest auto imaging technology software that claims to obscure the image of the nude body only presents the machine operator with an edited version of the image, while the machine captures the entire image, which can then be stored by governmental and private agencies.

Second, while TSA and creators of the machines tout the safety of body-scanner technology, the truth is that there is no long-term data to confirm these claims. Researchers have challenged these findings, claiming that the amount of radiation is higher than suggested because the doses were calculated as if distributed throughout the entire body, whereas the radiation emitted is focused only on the skin and surrounding tissues. (This also means that if a bomb were carried inside the body, these scanners would not detect it.) The verdict on the safety of body-scanning technology has yet to be delivered. Rather than walk through a machine that may cause harm to my body, I prefer to ask questions. When told to walk through the body scanner, I informed the TSA agent that I could not submit to that form of screening, but that I would walk through a metal detector and have all of my items searched. The next step would be the infamous pat-down. I knew of one man who successfully opted out, and so we decided to see if we, too, could opt out of both.

Image from a full body scanner now used in airports

We could not. As soon as we explained that we could submit to neither the pat down nor the body-scan, the TSA shut down the entire line behind us, effectively decreasing the efficiency of their overall screening procedures and doubling the wait time for other travelers. Members of the LAPD arrived to deal with the “issue”: two people standing shoeless, respectfully asking questions.

The TSA Web site states that travelers are entitled to ask questions about the process, but the more questions we asked, the more we felt we were being penalized. It was an absurd situation in which to find ourselves — I a Jewish Studies professor and my companion a nice Jewish comedy director — and my emotions bordered simultaneously on laughter and tears as I realized with horror that we had created a spectacle. We were being used to create a spectacle of fear in what amounts to little more than the TSA security theater. I shuddered as I realized I was flanked by apathy and fear. People all around us continued to thoughtlessly walk through body-scanners and receive pat-downs. Those who were not altogether apathetic watched us with expressions of fear.

A revelation: It was not security that was being peddled, but rather fear and paranoia, all to create for the public an illusion of security. Do what we say, give us your trust, refrain from questioning us, and you will be safe. But are we safe? Are we safer than we were before the implementation of invasive searches?

In January 2012, the TSA published online a list of the top 10 finds for 2011. Some of these “good catches” include snakes, birds and reptiles; a graduate student’s science experiment that contained a device that looked like it could be an explosive device (it was harmless); inert landmines; a ninja book with two throwing knives (the passenger surrendered the book at the checkpoint because he had forgotten that it was in the carry-on bag); small chunks of inert C4 explosives found in the checked bag of a member of our armed forces who was taking them home as souvenirs; a pistol strapped to the ankle of a 76-year-old man; a flare gun along with seven flares; a stun gun disguised as a smartphone; and a non-metallic martial arts device called a “tactical spike” found in a passenger’s sock.

If it sounds like a list created by The Onion, it was not. This was published by the TSA in support of the strength of its security screening procedures. So let’s break this list down. With the exception of the “tactical spike,” not one of these “top finds” was discovered by a body-scanning device. The pistol would have been easily detected by a metal detector. Further, it is not illegal to travel with firearms, as long as they are declared and not carried on the plane. Typically, passengers carrying undeclared firearms were not arrested, but rather fined. That is, such passengers are suspected not of having terrorist impulses, but of forgetfulness or unintelligent decisions. In the words of the TSA: “Just because we find a prohibited item on an individual does not mean they had bad intentions, that’s for the law enforcement officer to decide. In many cases, people simply forgot they had these items in their bag.”

Now, the landmines: They were, well, inert. They were harmless, as were the small chunks of C4 explosives found in the checked bag of a member of our military. Without a detonator — and it is virtually impossible to carry a functioning detonator through a metal detector — there is nothing that could have been accomplished with the chunks of C4. As for the ninja book with the throwing knives, which the passenger himself surrendered after realizing that it was not in his checked bag, I’m not sure it should be on the list. And while I do not prefer to fly on an airplane with reptilian and avian stowaways, I’m also not sure that doing so would put me in the line of terrorist fire. The intense TSA security screening procedures have been implemented to protect us from the threat of terrorism, not to discover illegal but non-threatening items. I remain unimpressed with the effectiveness of the body-scanning devices and pat-downs. Apparently the experts are equally unimpressed. Rafi Sela, an Israeli airport security expert who helped design security at Ben Gurion International Airport, has said: “I don’t know why everybody is running to buy these expensive and useless machines. I can overcome the body scanners with enough explosives to bring down a Boeing 747. … That’s why we haven’t put them in our airport.”

One brash commenter on the TSA Web site suggests that he would rather the TSA prevent passengers with antibiotic-resistant tuberculosis from flying than confiscate birds, science experiments, unloaded guns, toothpaste and cupcakes. As always, the threat here remains unclear. Given the recent debacles over confiscated toiletries and baked goods, it seems that the greatest fear is that passengers will clean their teeth or develop Type 2 diabetes. In the immediate aftermath of 9/11, the threat was terrorism. As a result, we allowed many of our rights to be violated in the name of justice and in the hope of preventing another terrorist attack. But what has materialized is the realization that the cost of these procedures to our dignity — not to mention the monetary cost, hundreds of millions of dollars to purchase the machines and maintain them each year — is not worth the mountains of confiscated items.

We all want to fly on safe airplanes. The fallacy is that this must be accomplished by violating our privacy.

In my case, we had to make a decision: insist on ethics and dignity and miss our flight; or accept the pat-down, board our flight, and reclaim our dignity on another day. I opted to fly and found myself standing before a line of 12 to 15 men and one female terminal manager. A female TSA agent began to explain the procedure. I asked her if she would be touching my genitals, and she confirmed that she would be touching my “labia.” I was told to raise my arms, and standing in front of multiple men, my long blouse (which I had worn over black footless tights) was pulled up, exposing my entire bare midriff as well as the bottom portion of my bra. I forced myself to look into the faces of all the men who stood there, bearing witness to my humiliation. I continued to look, as the TSA agent pulled my tights away from my body and ran her fingers around my bare waistline.

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The TSA Web site states: “You should neither be asked to nor agree to lift, remove, or raise any article of clothing to reveal a sensitive area of the body,” and, “Bare or exposed skin should not be touched by the security officer.” Both of these regulations were violated in full view of those in charge. Surely, I thought, this must be an anomaly. Driving home to Pico-Robertson from LAX later that week, I experienced a clash of emotions: anger, sadness, shame, humiliation, regret, fear. I was confused. I had a deep sense of having insisted on the “right” thing, but it had gone unrewarded. I felt punished. I asked myself: What, as both a Jew and a human being, is my responsibility? The simple but complex answer is that I am simply responsible. And as I accepted that responsibility, I became a repository for stories more distressing than my own.

A colleague, his wife and their 7-month-old daughter, Hazel, were flying from Charlotte, N.C., to Providence, R.I., for Thanksgiving in 2010. My friend and his wife discussed refusing the scanner, but considering the difficulty of making a 14-hour car ride with a baby, his wife insisted that they “comply.” Out of respect for his wife’s desire to get home for her first Thanksgiving with her new baby, my friend agreed to undergo whatever invasion of privacy the TSA insisted on. He went through the metal detector after disassembling his daughter’s stroller. While he reassembled it on the other side, the agents asked his wife to remove their daughter’s pink cardigan sweater-vest. The mother complied, and the agent felt Hazel’s little torso, presumably for an explosive device.

When asked how he felt about the pat-down of his baby girl, my friend responded: “I don’t know. I’m still telling the story, which probably gives some indication of how I feel. It’s an unnamed feeling, and I have nothing to compare it to — something having to do with violation of what makes me, and all of us, human. I would prefer to put my daughter on a hundred flights that involved no security check at all to even dreaming about a stranger patting her down for explosives again.”

The next time the family flew, they passed through the metal detectors unmolested. But my colleague will never forget watching the family in front of them: “I watched the passive father, who was watching his 14-year-old daughter with her arms extended and her feet shoulders width apart while a TSA agent, a woman, with disposable plastic gloves felt around the young girl’s waistband. Needless to say, I wish I hadn’t seen it, and I’m glad I didn’t make eye contact with that father.”

It occurs to me that it is one thing to allow one’s own dignity to be violated. It is quite another to watch that dignity being stripped from our children. My friend cannot stop saying to himself: It’s not just another policy. He continues: “I disagree with 90 percent of what the American government turns into law, but I always felt myself emotionally tied to my country — that was never a question for me. Until the thing with Hazel. Now I’m indifferent. I’m a husband, a father, a pseudo-Buddhist-Gnostic-Christian — but the America that my grandpas fought for in World War II — that’s a thing of the past, to me. I’m over it. When the revolutionaries come looking for support, they can count me in.”

I recently taught a class on post-9/11 fiction at Loyola Marymount University, and I took the opportunity to initiate a dialogue about terrorism, security, fear, human rights and ethical responsibility. I recounted my own experience as a starting point. One student, an Orthodox Jewish woman from the Pico-Robertson neighborhood, explained that, because of her modest clothing, each time she flies, she and her children must go through the body-scanner as well as receive pat-downs. She was told once that her skirt was not tight enough. As I listened to her story of being penalized for modesty, my distress was reignited. I realized that with regard to the level of indecency of which the TSA is capable, I had only touched the surface.

Ouriel and Gabrielle Hassan (a Canadian citizen with a green card) are Orthodox Jews living in the Pico-Robertson neighborhood. Ouriel’s family is from Egypt. Years ago, Ouriel’s grandfather changed the family’s name from “Hazan” to “Hassan” in an effort to avoid persecution in Egypt. In 2002, Ouriel arrived at LAX on a flight from New York. To his surprise, he was met by two machine-gun-toting soldiers who instructed Ouriel to accompany them. Once in a private room, Ouriel was strip-searched and held for three hours. The items he carried — clothing, Hebrew books, tefillin — were searched meticulously, and he was asked to open his tefillin, which would have destroyed them. When he explained that to the officers, they retracted the order, and, finding no reason to detain him, they released Ouriel with neither apologies nor explanation. He is subjected to scrutiny each time he travels.

Last year before Pesach, he and his wife and their 3-year-old son traveled from Los Angeles to Vancouver. As Ouriel prepared to enter the body-scanner, TSA agents approached Gabrielle and told her that her son, Eliyahu Yosef Hassan, would need to undergo additional screening procedures. She was told to point out Eliyahu’s bags and personal items; being only 3 years old, however, he had no personal items. Eliyahu was then taken from his mother and brought to a special screening area where a large woman roughly “patted” him down, grasping at his genitals and demonstrating indifference to his fearful and hysterical sobs. Gabrielle was prohibited from holding her son’s little hand. Despite TSA regulations that do not permit children to be separated from parents, she was forbidden from standing near him because he might “pass” something to her.

The TSA claimed that “Eliyahu Yosef Hassan” was on a no-fly list. It turns out that the name of the person on the no-fly list is “Yusef Hasan.” Yet little Eliyahu has experienced the traumatizing security screening two additional times. Although the TSA allows people with names similar to those on no-fly lists to apply for special numbers that will alert agents to these similarities and simplify screening processes, Eliyahu is not eligible for this number because he is under 16 years old. Instead, they must be prepared to submit their son to this humiliation. Additionally, TSA agents have withheld from Gabrielle the offer of a private screening room and patted her down in public by putting their hands underneath her skirt and against her legs, as well as lifting her clothing and running their hands underneath the underwire of her bra. Women, particularly those who dress modestly for religious reasons, are being publically humiliated, and their fathers, husbands and brothers must often deal with guilt stemming from their inability to protect their loved ones from degradation.

These are not the experiences of all travelers. But it is difficult to justify even one small child being violated by procedures implemented on the basis of their capacity to protect us from acts of terrorism. Children are being touched in a way that would be illegal anywhere outside of the gray zone of the TSA screening area. In a society that has, given the countless sexual abuse scandals involving priests, coaches and others in positions of authority, we are obsessed with protecting our children from physical and sexual abuse. Yet we give random people in TSA uniforms the authority to touch our children in any way they see fit — all in the name of safer skies. The past years have shown us that people in positions of power often violate children. But our fear of terrorism has become greater than our fear of child abuse, and we have offered up the dignity of our children in exchange for the illusion that we are safer because of it.

Some suggest that if one finds pat-downs to be inappropriate, he or she should not resist the technology that is designed to detect the materials sought through pat-downs. But a number of experts in the field remind us that these machines make mistakes. Agents testing the system have successfully passed through body-scanners with weapons. And they have warned of the possibility of overdose. One glitch could cause a body-scanner to emit an overdose of radiation. But just how common are errors? Apparently the TSA screeners at LAX have grown accustomed to them.

Jaime Eliezer Karas recently declined the body-scan at LAX, chose the pat-down, and watched the agent insert the piece of fabric into the machine that detects traces of explosive material. According to Karas: “We stood there in silence, both knowing everything was almost over. Suddenly, the machine displayed a message: ‘EXPLOSIVES DETECTED.’  The TSA agent did not flinch. As if in a previously choreographed sequence, he glided over to the next machine and was replaced by another agent.” Karas decided to inquire about what was wrong, and the second TSA employee replied that the cloth came up as having detected explosives, and that he was scanning it again at the next machine. The agent — who works for the same organization that terrorizes little Eliyahu Hassan every time he flies — was unconcerned by this information. The second machine did not think that Karas was carrying explosives, and he was given clearance to proceed toward the gates. Indeed, Karas carried no explosives. But the point is the inability of the technology to accurately assess the situation 100 percent of the time.

Many of us have forgotten how to be mindful. Are the deep costs to human dignity worth the ambiguous outcomes — piles of confiscated toothpaste and cupcakes amid optimistic claims that we are now safer? I continue to ask myself what, exactly, is my responsibility? How can I contribute to making a positive and meaningful change?

Much like the inconsistency in how TSA regulations are carried out, the attitudes of TSA members vary. Some TSA agents are snide and aggressive.  One woman, who recently conducted my pat-down in Seattle, was different. As she asked me if I had ever experienced the procedure, the look on my face told her I had. I opened my mouth to speak, but I had no words and I knew somehow that my face was telling the stories I could not speak in that moment. She looked at me intently, lowered her gaze and said, “I know. I’m sorry. It’s awful. You shouldn’t have to …  “ Her voice trailed off and she looked back up at me, as if asking for a pardon for what she was about to do.

Perhaps I was more of a revolutionary in this moment, when I smiled and said, “Thank you. Thank you for saying that.” There was something in her acknowledgment of her complicity in something indecent and undeserved that moved me. Her acknowledgment of how we were both, in that moment, being shamed as women, as citizens, and as human beings was an opening: an unspoken dialogue.

Responsibility begins with awareness and, one day, hopefully, ends with action.

The TSA claims that “since imaging technology has been deployed at airports, more than 99 percent of passengers choose to be screened by this technology over alternative screening procedures.” Perhaps we should think carefully about why people “choose” radiation over public humiliation — or perhaps there’s not much to think about there.

Monica Osborne is a professor of Jewish literature and culture and has written for The New Republic, Tikkun, Jewcy.com and other publications.

Israel to lease firefighting airplanes


Israel will lease firefighting airplanes from Canada as it waits to purchase six new ones from the country at a cost of $200 million.

The new firefighter airplanes under construction in Canada will be ready in about two years, according to the CBC. The leased planes will be flown by Canadian pilots.

The $200 million deal, which includes the planes and other equipment, was agreed upon Monday between Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Canadian Defense Minister Peter Gordon MacKay during the latter’s visit to Israel, according to reports.

The squadron reportedly will be named the Elad Squadron, in honor of Elad Riven, the 16-year-old fire brigade volunteer who was the youngest victim of the Carmel fire.

The Carmel fire broke out Dec. 2 and took four days to get under control. Forty-four people were killed in the blaze, which burned 12,000 acres of land, consumed 5 million trees, and destroyed or severely damaged 250 homes. At least a dozen countries in the Middle East and Europe, and the United States, sent fire equipment and volunteers to assist in putting out the blaze.

Israeli pilots will be trained on the use of the planes before delivery, according to reports.

MacKay also is scheduled to visit the Palestinian Authority and Jordan this week.

Homeland Security in Chicago to beef up Jewish security


Agents from the U.S. Department of Homeland Security are in Chicago to beef up security at Jewish institutions.

They arrived Sunday and are working through the Chicago Jewish federation, according to Paul Goldenberg, national director of the Secure Community Network (SCN), a security agency that is the product of the Jewish Federations of North America and the Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations.

On Wednesday, senior Homeland Security leadership will begin a series of conference calls with senior Jewish leaders across the country focusing on increased security concerns in the wake of last Friday’s bomb threat in which two packages of explosives mailed from Yemen and allegedly targeting Jewish institutions in Chicago were intercepted. One was intercepted at a FedEx way station in the United Arab Emirates, and one in London.

Hidden inside printer cartridges, the explosives were powerful enough to bring down a plane. Officials are still trying to determine the intended targets—the planes carrying the bombs or the institutions to which they were mailed.

SCN is “closely monitoring the situation,” said Goldenberg, who is in Chicago working with Homeland Security.

Terror Strikes Home


September 11, 2001
LOS ANGELES – Word of the terrorist attacks reached Angelenoswhen they turned on their radios at breakfast time and theJewish community immediately went on heightened alert.

The Jewish Federation building, the nerve center of theJewish community, was partially staffed by senior personnel, whileits agencies serving school children, the elderly and synagogueswere fully operational, said John Fishel, president of the JewishFederation.

Since three of the suicide planes were headed for LosAngeles, Fishel feared that the impact on the community in lostlives will be severe. However, he assumed that lists of victimswould not be available for another 24 hours. (Phone numbers given out for victim reports on are,for United Airlines, 800-932-8555; for AMERICAN, 800-245-0999.) Nina Lieberman, the executive vice president of Jewish CommunityCenters of Greater Los Angeles reports that doors will remain open atJCCs citywide, providing the routine gamut of early childhood andafter-school services, while coordinating with the Jewish Federationand other agencies on plans for further services and responses to theday’s events. One such option, she says, could, if needed, be to hostblood banks at centers throughout the cities. She says that JewishFamily Services is planning to offer counseling to those who mayrequire it.

Although the centers are on heightened alert, she says,the security precautions put in place after the shootings at theNorth Valley JCC two years ago are considered adequate for thepresent. “This is a profound and terrible tragedy,” she says, “and wehave not yet felt its full impact and ramifications. Obviously wewill make our premises available if the community requires a place toconvene.”

The Simon Wiesenthal Center, together with its Museum ofTolerance and the adjoining Yeshiva of Los Angeles, was closedas a security precaution.

Offices of the Anti-Defamation League remained open. Itsregional director, David Lehrer, said that his office had checkedlast week with Jewish institutions on points of securityvulnerability, but, “No one could anticipate a tragedy on thisscale.”

The Shomrei Torah Synagogue in West Hills plans to hold a memorialservice after the evening service at 7.30 pm tonight (Tuesday). RabbiRichardCamras reports one member of his congregation has already learned helost a second cousin in the World Trade Center, and anticipates manymore members will, by day’s end, discover they know someone who waskilled. He said “We wanted the congregation to know there would be amemorial because as Jews we respond to pain with prayer and study andcoming together to support each other. We should withhold judgementand calls for revenge. It’s not about those things, but about how welive with pain and the sense of our own vulnerability.”

At the Stephen S. Wise Elementary School, teachers weretold to conduct classes as normally as possible and not to turnon radio or TV sets. However, if a child were to ask about theattacks, teachers were to respond calmly.

At the Temple Beth Am¹s Pressman Academy, older students were informedabout the attack in a special assembly. Teachers and adminstratorsencouraged students to ask questions and speak about their fears. Yuval Rotem, the Israeli consul-general in Los Angeles, saidthat he would need “a new vocabulary to express his feelingsand outrage at this time.”

He compared his emotions to the ones experienced in 1991,at the beginning of the Gulf War, when Israelis heard the firstsirens heralding the impact Scud missiles launched by Iraq. Most Arab-American and Muslim leaders were out of town orunavailable. One veteran spokesman, Don Bustany, termed theattacks “horrendous,” but asked that judgment on thenationalities of the perpetrators be suspended until more definitefacts were available.

Los Angeles Hebrew High School, which operates out of theUniversity of Judaism on Sundays and Agoura Hills on Tuesdayevenings, cancelled the Agoura session. Program Director Bill Cohensaid the decision to close did not stem from concerns for studentsecurity but because he felt students should remain with family “toprocess this historic event psychologically.” He said the schoolwould do its part at some later date to help them process thetragedies on a communal level.

Chabad of Agoura will hold an evening or prayer at it’s CanwoodAvenue premises. Rabby Moshe Bryski told the Journal that theSheriff’s department has already contacted the institution, lettinghim know that it will be affording heightened security for the HighHolidays. “We all come out of a week in which the fingers of theworld, centered in Durban, pointed to Israel as the seat of all humanevil. This occurred while plans were no doubt underway to launch thishorrendous attack upon the U.S. The time may be right,” says Bryski,”for another conference, this time focused on ridding the world ofterrorism.”

Temple Etz Hayim of Thousand Oaks will hold a memorial unitymeeting tomorrow night at 8 pm. At least one congregant reportshaving lost a friend en route for a visit from Boston. Preschool thismorning continued uninterrupted but temple officials have receivedcalls from concerned parents and are contemplating cancellingafter-school Hebrew classes today.

Agoura High School reports nothing amiss. An officer from theSherrif’s office has been assigned to the campus at least for theday. Deputy Principal Brad Benioff says school and peer counselorsare standing at the ready to assist any students requiringassistance. Only a few parents so far, he say, have pulled studentsfrom class.

The Agoura Hills Jewish Community Center, in effect a day carecenter, remains open but its director declined to discuss mattersfurther.

Exploding American Complacency


Terrorism, a part of everyday life in Israel for decades, exploded in the face of a complacent America with the twin terror attacks that destroyed the World Trade Center in New York on Sept. 11 and left a gaping, charred hole in the Pentagon in Washington.

The bombings could have huge implications for Jewish groups and for a U.S.-Israel relationship that some may blame for provoking the terrorists.

Jewish groups, which have often unsuccessfully tried to warn policymakers that this nation could face the kinds of horrors that Israeli citizens live with on a daily basis, will play a major role in what is certain to be a fierce debate over terror preparedness and over the correct balance between basic civil liberties and measures to protect Americans from violence.

"This was a huge intelligence failure," said Shoshana Bryen, special projects director for the Jewish Institute for National Security Affairs (JINSA). "After past incidents, we’ve retreated into a ‘fortress America’ mentality. We won’t be able to do that any more."

At press time, U.S. officials had still not identified likely perpetrators (several people were detained), but there was widespread speculation that the attack was related to the Middle East conflict, possibly through the notorious super-terrorist Osama bin Laden.

If that speculation becomes fact, it could have varied repercussions for U.S. relations with Israel and involvement in that part of the world, Jewish leaders say.

"There is a danger of people saying, ‘if we didn’t support Israel, those people would have no reason to dislike us,’" Bryen said. "We have to make the case that that’s not true; they don’t like us because of who we are. One thing Americans need to know is that the same people who hate Israel hate us and hate all democracies. If there was no Israel, they would still hate us."

Abraham Foxman, national director of the Anti-Defamation League, said that while some Americans will blame the strong U.S.-Israel relationship for the disaster, history suggests that the nation will reject that argument.

"The last time it happened was during the oil embargo in the 1970s," he said. "There were those who tried to blame America’s friends and allies; it was a very anxious moment for Israel when the Arabs made it clear they were boycotting America because of its support for Israel."

But the nation’s leaders held firm, he said. "The American government stood by its friend and ally, and said: nobody can tell us who our friends should be, nobody can blackmail us."

Making sure that message penetrates the anger and anxiety most Americans feel in the wake of the terror onslaught will be a top challenge for Jewish leaders in the difficult days ahead, Foxman and others say.

David Harris, executive director of the American Jewish Committee, said an even bigger challenge will be preparing the American people for "certain changes in our way of life in order to mount a sustained and credible defense against terrorism."

Harris, whose group has focused heavily on the fight against terror in recent years, said Israel has a lot to offer traumatized Americans about how to live under the terrorist threat — "a debate our community has a huge stake in."

The first lesson from Israel, he said, "is that there is no substitute for solid intelligence — human and other. And we have to understand this is a permanent war; it ebbs and flows, but it goes on, and it’s dirty."

That is a lesson Israelis have learned the hard way over the decades — as they have learned the need for an "unbreakable national will," Harris said. "One purpose of the terrorist is to break that will."

And the Israel experience teaches that the fight against terrorism demands changes to everyday life changes that will certainly be inconvenient and may run afoul of current civil rights protections.

"It means that checks at airports are serious, not cursory," Harris said. "It means that citizens must become aware of potential security threats and dangers. It requires a whole different level of awareness, which Israelis have and Americans need to copy. "

If the terror is revealed as Mideast related, it could have a number of implications for the current Israeli-Palestinian crisis.

Short-term, Jewish leaders say it will bring Israel and the United States closer together.

"It will bring home to people the reality of what Israel has been living with on a day to day basis at a very high price," Foxman said.

Other analysts say the attack could add to the options available to Israeli leader Ariel Sharon as he tries to subdue the yearlong surge of Palestinian terrorism.

"Let’s just say that for a few days, at least, he has a lot more latitude to go after Palestinian terrorists," said a leading pro-Israel activist. "It’s hard to imagine the State Department calling any Israeli action against terrorists ‘provocative,’ at least not while the taste of these bombings is in their mouths."

Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat, perhaps fearing just that response, was quick to condemn the bombings. "We completely condemn this serious operation," he told reporters in Gaza. "We were completely shocked. It’s unbelievable, unbelievable, unbelievable."

But Jewish leaders say a much more indelible statement was made by the Palestinians who celebrated the carnage with spontaneous street demonstrations in Nablus, East Jerusalem and in Lebanon.

Arab-American and Muslim groups also condemned the bombings, and urged Americans not to jump to conclusions about the perpetrators.

Rabbi Eric H. Yoffie, president of the Union of American Hebrew Congregations, agreed.

"We urge all Americans not to form opinions until all facts are known, and to avoid blaming any group for the actions of individuals," he said.

But Jewish and Arab-American groups will quickly find themselves locked in bitter disagreements as lawmakers seek to toughen U.S. anti-terror laws — which Muslim and Arab-American groups say are already damaging to fundamental civil rights.

The dramatic, rapid-fire developments produced a tidal wave of rumors and speculation in the capital. Media outlets broadcast reports of additional bombings that were later revealed untrue. There were persistent and incorrect reports of other hijacked airliners waiting to be directed at new targets — one reason the congressional leadership was evacuated from the city.

The airliner that slammed into the Pentagon just as many workers were arriving produced an immense fireball, and an explosion that was heard at a reporter’s office 12 miles from the huge building.

The Israeli embassy in Washington, D.C., and consulates around the country sent all but essential personnel home immediately after the news of the World Trade Center catastrophe broke. Then, after reports that additional attacks could be forthcoming and that the embassy might be a target, the Washington facility closed entirely.

By Tuesday afternoon — with the Pentagon still burning — the embassy was back in operation with what a spokesman described as a "skeleton" crew.

Israeli ambassador David Ivry expressed Israel’s condolences to administration officials and offered the use of a team of Israeli specialists to help hunt for victims.

"Unfortunately, we have a lot of experience with buildings being destroyed," said an embassy spokesman.

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