Surveillance video recorded vandals at Workmen’s Circle


Security cameras at a Chabad center captured two separate incidents of vandals defacing a mural at the SoCal Arbeter Ring/Workmen’s Circle building in the Pico-Robertson neighborhood this week. The Chabad is located across the street from the Workman’s Circle, and the actions were recorded as part of the Chabad’s routine surveillance.

[Related: Incident 1 / Incident 2]

According to the video, the first incident took place at 3:20 a.m. on Thursday, Feb. 6, when at least two vandals wrote “Free Palestine!!!!” across the wall. During the second incident, what look like a second pair painted over the word “free” with an expletive; this act occurred at 11 p.m. on Feb. 6, according to the video record. None of the vandals have yet been identified.

Workmen’s Circle chairperson Ruth Judkowitz denounced both sets of graffiti, which contain messages that underscore the heated debate surrounding the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

“My concern is that we have two extremist groups, equally guilty of poor judgment and unlawful behavior, who are exacerbating already-hot feelings,” Judkowitz said in an interview.

The new information, including the times that the incidents occurred, and the approximate number of people who were involved,  were provided by Rabbi Asher Yemini. of the Chabad Israel Center at Robertson Boulevard and Horner street.

The graffiti remained on the mural as of Friday afternoon.

Suspected suicide bomber had fake U.S. I.D.; Surveillance camera captures image


A suicide bomber carried out an attack that killed seven people in a bus transporting Israeli tourists in Bulgaria, the interior minister said on Thursday, and Israel said Iranian-backed Hezbollah militants were to blame.

Iran denied it was behind Wednesday’s attack at Burgas airport, a popular gateway for tourists visiting the Black Sea coast.

Video surveillance footage showed the bomber was similar in appearance to tourists arriving at the airport, Interior Minister Tsvetan Tsvetanov said.

The bomber had been circling around a group of buses, which were about to take Israeli tourists to a resort near Burgas, for about an hour before the explosion, the footage showed.

“We have established there was a person who was a suicide bomber in this attack. This person had a fake driving license from the United States, from the state of Michigan,” Tsvetanov told reporters at the airport.

“He looked like anyone else – a normal person with Bermuda shorts and a backpack,” he said.

The bomber was said to be 36 years old and had been in the country for between four and seven days before the attack.

Special forces had managed to obtain DNA samples from the fingers of the bomber and were now checking databases in an attempt to identify him, Tsvetanov said.

The foreign ministry said seven people were killed in the attack, including the Bulgarian bus driver and the bomber. The Israeli foreign ministry confirmed that five Israelis were killed.

The tourists had arrived in Bulgaria on a charter flight from Israel and were on the bus in the airport car park when the blast tore through the vehicle. Body parts were strewn across the ground, mangled metal hung from the double-decker bus’s ripped roof and black smoke billowed over the airport.

AIRPORT CLOSED

On Thursday, the airport in Burgas – a city of 200,000 people at the center of a string of seaside resorts – remained closed and police prevented people from approaching.

Beyond the cordons, about 100 holidaymakers waited for their flights but had been told they would be there until midnight. Officials were setting up portable toilets and tents for stranded travelers and Bulgaria’s parliament opened with a one minute silence in memory of the bombing victims.

“It felt like an earthquake and then I saw flying pieces of meat,” said Georgi Stoev, an airport official. “It was horrible, just like in a horror movie.”

“Yesterday’s attack in Bulgaria was perpetrated by Hezbollah, Iran’s leading terrorist proxy,” Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said. “We will continue to fight against Iranian terror. It will not defeat us. We will act against it with great force.”

Israel however indicated it would not hasten into any open conflict with Iran or Hezbollah.

Defence Minister Ehud Barak said Israel would “do everything possible in order to find those responsible, and those who dispatched them, and punish them” – language that appeared to suggest covert action against individuals.

Israeli government spokesman Mark Regev linked the arrest of a foreigner in Cyprus this month on suspicion of plotting an attack on Israeli tourists there with the Bulgaria bombing.

“The suspect who was arrested in Cyprus, in his interrogation, revealed an operational plan that is almost identical to what happened in Bulgaria. He is from Hezbollah … this is a further indication of Hezbollah and Iran’s direct responsibility,” he told Reuters.

“BASELESS ACCUSATIONS”

Iran’s foreign ministry spokesman dismissed Israel’s “baseless accusations” that Tehran was involved in the bombing.

The blast occurred on the 18th anniversary of a bomb attack on Argentina’s main Jewish organization that killed 85 people. Argentina blamed Iran, which denied responsibility.

Medical officials said two badly injured Israeli tourists were taken to hospitals in Bulgaria’s capital Sofia. One woman was in intensive care with head and chest injuries and a man was in a critical state with burns covering 55 percent of his body.

About 70 Israeli tourists, including those lightly injured by the blast, left Burgas on a Bulgarian government airplane to Israel, the interior ministry said.

The European Commission and NATO condemned the attack, joining criticism from the United States, Britain, France and Germany, and the mayor of Burgas announced a day of mourning.

Israeli officials had previously said that Bulgaria, a popular destination for Israeli tourists, was vulnerable to attack by Islamist militants, who could infiltrate via Turkey.

Israeli diplomats have been targeted in several countries in recent months by bombers who Israel said struck on behalf of Iran.

Some analysts believe Iran is trying to avenge the assassinations of several scientists from its nuclear program, which Israel and Western powers fear is aimed at developing a nuclear bomb.

Iran insists its uranium enrichment work is strictly for peaceful ends. Both Israel and the United States have not ruled out military action against Iranian nuclear facilities.

Additional reporting by Tsvetelia Tsolova in Sofia, Maayan Lubell in Jerusalem and Madeline Chambers in Berlin; Writing by Sam Cage; Editing by Mark Heinrich and Giles Elgood

Fired AIPAC Official Foresees Indictment


 

Steve Rosen, recently terminated as the American Israel Public Affairs Committee’s (AIPAC) policy director in the wake of an FBI investigation, expects to be indicted as soon as June, according to sources who know the case.

Rosen has suggested to sources that if he were indicted, he would want an opportunity to clear his name. Rosen expects that a trial could begin as early as January 2006 and already is preparing for a long defense, according to multiple sources.

Along with AIPAC’s former senior Iran analyst, Keith Weissman, and former Pentagon Iran analyst Larry Franklin, Rosen has been targeted by the FBI’s counterintelligence division for allegedly verbally passing classified information to Israel.

Franklin was arrested May 4 and charged with verbally transmitting classified information during a June 26, 2003, luncheon at Tivoli, an Arlington, Va., restaurant. Franklin was not indicted by a grand jury but was arrested on an FBI affidavit, a move that Rosen has said he sees as a government effort to pressure Franklin into claiming there was an actual conspiracy, which he denies.

Franklin, who negotiated a plea bargain with the FBI before he had independent counsel, has since backed away from the deal, according to Franklin defense sources.

Rosen has vehemently denied violating federal law, and denied that he knowingly transmitted classified information. In one of two instances in which Franklin allegedly spoke with AIPAC staffers, this one in a Virginia mall, Rosen was not present, according to multiple sources with direct knowledge of the encounter.

Rosen’s attorney, Abbe Lowell, has issued a statement saying, “Steve Rosen never solicited, received or passed on any classified documents from Larry Franklin, and Mr. Franklin will never be able to say otherwise.”

Neither Rosen nor Lowell would comment on the record for this story.

Rosen has told contacts that he is convinced the government is still looking for “Mr. X” or “Agent X” — an alleged Israeli master spy in the United States. Jewish communal officials have said they believe the FBI has been seeking a “Mr. X” since the Jonathan Pollard spy scandal in the 1980s.

Rosen has confided to contacts that he believes he still is under surveillance by the FBI, both in his home and in public places. Rosen has said he was under FBI surveillance for three years before the 2003 exchange with Franklin monitored in the restaurant.

Rosen has said, according to sources, that he feels the government’s strategy is to pressure Franklin into wrongfully implicating Weissman, and to pressure Weissman into implicating Rosen.

Rosen said, according to sources, “It won’t work.”

Investigative journalist Edwin Black is a New York Times best-selling and award-winning author of “IBM and the Holocaust” and other books.
 

Selling AWACS to China


Chinese President Jiang Zemin donned his black kippah and followed in Pope John Paul II’s footsteps to the Western Wall last week, confident that the world’s biggest atheistic state would soon receive a $250 million airborne surveillance system from Israel Aircraft Industries on schedule. Despite intense American pressure to cancel the deal, the signs are that he will receive the other three or four AWACS he also wants to buy.

Prime Minister Ehud Barak promised President Bill Clinton during their Washington summit in early April that he would review the sales in the light of American claims that the advanced technology would change the strategic balance if and when China tried to regain Taiwan by force. Clinton, like Defense Secretary William Cohen before him, argued that American pilots, coming to Taiwan’s aid, might be shot down because of the Israeli radar.

What Barak was doing was ducking his head and waiting for the waves to wash over him. As he said twice during a joint press conference with Jiang Zemin: “We attach a great deal of importance to our relations with China and to our credibility.” However much Israel cherishes its special relationship with Uncle Sam, Barak is calling Clinton’s bluff. For that, as seen from here, is what the American bluster amounts to.

Israeli observers are convinced that the threats of aid cuts or a weakening of Israel’s American safety net are nothing more than election propaganda. Why else would Washington force the issue now, rather than four years ago, when it was first advised of the transaction?

The Republicans, they say, are playing the Chinese card. Therefore, Clinton, on behalf of Al Gore, has to show that his administration is not going soft on Beijing. Their reading was reinforced last week when members of congress used the lever of American United Nations debt repayments to lobby for Israel’s upgrading in the international body. Nor is Israel persuaded that China has any intention of invading Taiwan.

The AWACS deal is worth a fortune to Israel, in both monetary and diplomatic coinage. The surveillance plane is a joint Israeli-Russian product. Israel supplies the technology, Russia the airframe. But Israel’s share of the $250 million price tag per plane is $200 million. That means a lot of export earnings and a lot of skilled jobs, especially if China ends up buying five planes. And none of the technology owes anything to American research or generosity. It’s all blue and white.

At the same time, the very fact that Jiang Zemin spent six days on a state visit to Israel (floating in the Dead Sea as well as contemplating the Wall) is itself a transformation. China, with its 1.3 billion people, is the last remaining Communist power. Until diplomatic relations were established in 1992, it could be relied upon to support every anti-Israel resolution in every international forum. Israel was defined as an outpost of imperialism, the Arabs as a downtrodden people fighting for their freedom.

All this is changing. Israel has things that China wants — above all, advanced military technology. The AWACS are neither the first nor the last of the items on Jiang Zemin’s shopping list. In return, China, a permanent member of the United Nations Security Council, has softened its old-fashioned Marxist hostility.

Speaking at the Knesset, the Chinese leader recalled 1,000-year ties between his people and Jewish traders, as well as China’s hospitality to Jewish refugees during World War II. “This,” he said, “laid a solid foundation for the establishment and growth of bilateral ties. These managed to grow on a healthy and rapid track, and gratifying results have been achieved.” Ignore the history, that’s the present.

Israel is fortified in its resistance to United States demands to cancel the AWACS deal by memories of the American supply of similar spy planes to Saudi Arabia nearly 20 years ago. Jerusalem and its Jewish friends in the states lobbied hard then against the sale, arguing that it would change the strategic balance in the Middle East. Even if Saudi Arabia did not join in a war, it could use the American AWACS to gather real-time information for its Arab brothers. Israeli pilots (sounds familiar?) would pay with their lives.

The United States retorted that AWACS was an essentially defensive weapon. As columnist Barry Rubin asked in the Jerusalem Post, if it was defensive then, how come it is suddenly offensive now?