New Netflix film highlights the 1948 battle for the Israeli kibbutz and King Mohammad VI recognizes the Jewish community as part of Moroccan culture and the Court blasts ‘Jew-free’ housing in Israeli city and Trump Organization CFO Weisselberg takes deal, pleads guilty to tax evasion and my friend's baby sits in my lap
Yehuda Lave is an author, journalist, psychologist, rabbi, spiritual teacher, and coach, with degrees in business, psychology and Jewish Law. He works with people from all walks of life and helps them in their search for greater happiness, meaning, business advice on saving money, and spiritual engagement.
The Three are Rabbi Yehuda Glick, famous temple mount activist, and former Israel Mk, and then Robert Weinger, the world's greatest shofar blower and seller of Shofars, and myself after we had gone to the 12 gates of the Temple Mount in 2020 to blow the shofar to ask G-d to heal the world from the Pandemic. It was a highlight to my experience in living in Israel and I put it on my blog each day to remember.
The articles that I include each day are those that I find interesting, so I feel you will find them interesting as well. I don't always agree with all the points of each article but found them interesting or important to share with you, my readers, and friends. It is cathartic for me to share my thoughts and frustrations with you about life in general and in Israel. As a Rabbi, I try to teach and share the Torah of the G-d of Israel as a modern Orthodox Rabbi. I never intend to offend anyone but sometimes people are offended and I apologize in advance for any mistakes. The most important psychological principle I have learned is that once someone's mind is made up, they don't want to be bothered with the facts, so, like Rabbi Akiva, I drip water (Torah is compared to water) on their made-up minds and hope that some of what I have share sinks in. Love Rabbi Yehuda Lave.
NEW YORK (AP) — A top executive at former US president Donald Trump's family business pleaded guilty Thursday to evading taxes in a deal that could potentially make him a star witness against the company at a fall trial.
Trump Organization CFO Allen Weisselberg pleaded guilty to all 15 of the charges he faced in the case.
In a low, somewhat hoarse voice, he admitted taking in over $1.7 million worth of untaxed perks — including school tuition for his grandchildren, free rent for a Manhattan apartment and lease payments for a luxury car — and explicitly keeping some of the plums off the books.
Judge Juan Manuel Merchan agreed to sentence Weisselberg to five months' incarceration at New York City's Rikers Island jail complex, although he will be eligible for release much earlier if he behaves well behind bars. The judge said Weisselberg will have to pay nearly $2 million in taxes, penalties and interest.
The plea bargain also requires Weisselberg to testify truthfully as a prosecution witness when the Trump Organization goes on trial in October on related charges. The company is accused of helping Weisselberg and other executives avoid income taxes by failing to accurately report their full compensation to the government. Trump himself is not charged in the case.
Weisselberg said nothing as he left court, offering no reply when a journalist asked him whether he had any message for Trump.
The Trump Organization's former Chief Financial Officer Allen Weisselberg arrives at court, August 18, 2022, in New York. (AP Photo/Yuki Iwamura)
Weisselberg's lawyer Nicholas Gravante Jr. said his client pleaded guilty "to put an end to this case and the years-long legal and personal nightmares it has caused for him and his family."
"We are glad to have this behind him," the lawyer added.
Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg said in a statement that Weisselberg's plea "directly implicates the Trump Organization in a wide range of criminal activity and requires Weisselberg to provide invaluable testimony in the upcoming trial against the corporation."
"We look forward to proving our case in court against the Trump Organization," he added.
Testimony by Weisselberg could potentially weaken the Trump Organization's defense. If convicted, the company could face fines or potentially be placed on probation and be forced to change certain business practices.
Weisselberg, 75, is the only person to face criminal charges so far in the Manhattan district attorney's long-running investigation of the company's business practices.
Seen as one of Trump's most loyal business associates, Weisselberg was arrested in July 2021. His lawyers have argued the Democrat-led district attorney's office was punishing him because he wouldn't offer information that would damage Trump.
The district attorney has also been investigating whether Trump or his company lied to banks or the government about the value of its properties to obtain loans or reduce tax bills.
Allen Weisselberg, right, stands behind then President-elect Donald Trump during a news conference in the lobby of Trump Tower in New York, January 11, 2017. (AP Photo/Evan Vucci, File)
Then-District Attorney Cyrus Vance Jr., who started the investigation, last year directed his deputies to present evidence to a grand jury and seek an indictment of Trump, according to former prosecutor Mark Pomerantz, who previously led the probe.
But after Vance left office, his successor, Bragg, allowed the grand jury to disband without charges. Both prosecutors are Democrats. Bragg has said the investigation is continuing.
The Trump Organization is not involved in Weisselberg's expected guilty plea Thursday and is scheduled to be tried in the alleged compensation scheme in October.
Prosecutors alleged that the company gave untaxed fringe benefits to senior executives, including Weisselberg, for 15 years. Weisselberg alone was accused of defrauding the federal government, state and city out of more than $900,000 in unpaid taxes and undeserved tax refunds.
Under state law, punishment for the most serious charge against Weisselberg, grand larceny, could carry a penalty as high as 15 years in prison. But the charge carries no mandatory minimum, and most first-time offenders in tax-related cases never end up behind bars.
The tax fraud charges against the Trump Organization are punishable by a fine of double the amount of unpaid taxes, or $250,000, whichever is larger.
Trump has not been charged in the criminal probe. The Republican has decried the New York investigations as a "political witch hunt" and has said his company's actions were standard practice in the real estate business and in no way a crime.
Last week, Trump sat for a deposition in New York Attorney General Letitia James' parallel civil investigation into allegations that Trump's company misled lenders and tax authorities about asset values. Trump invoked his Fifth Amendment protection against self-incrimination more than 400 times.
King Mohammed VI recognizes Jewish community as part of Moroccan culture
We can only hope this will inspire and embolden Arabs and Muslims around the world to follow Morocco's lead.'
King Mohammed VI of Morocco reviews a guard of honor at the National Palace during his state visit to Ethiopia's capital Addis Ababa, November 19, 2016(photo credit: REUTERS/TIKSA NEGERI)Advertisement
Moroccan King Mohammed VI recognized the country's Jewish community last week as a component of national culture, in a statement by the royal palace.
Following "royal instruction," Moroccan Interior Minister Abdelouafi Laftit proposed in a meeting of the Council of Ministers in Rabat that new representative bodies be formed for the Jewish community, calling their traditions "a component of the rich Moroccan culture."
Those bodies are the National Council of the Moroccan Jewish Community, overseeing community affairs, safeguarding heritage sites and forming regional committees; the Commission of Moroccan Jews Living Abroad, which is meant to nurture ties with Moroccan Jews around the world and defend the interests of Morocco; and the Foundation of Moroccan Judaism, meant to promote and protect Jewish-Moroccan intangible heritage and traditions.
The measures are based on King Mohammed VI's role as "Commander of the Faithful," which includes being guarantor of free worship for Moroccans.
The Simon Wiesenthal Center director of global social action Rabbi Abraham Cooper praised the announcement from Morocco, saying it "strengthens the DNA of peace and strikes a blow against religious extremists and antisemitism."
Israeli Foreign Minister Yair Lapid walks stands next to his Moroccan counterpart Nasser Bourita as they meet in Rabat, Morocco August 11, 2021 (credit: REUTERS/YOUSSEF BOUDLAL)
"The establishment of new institutions and councils also signals that Moroccan Jewry has a continuing role in the nation's culture and heritage into the future," Cooper noted. "We can only hope that the steps King Mohammed VI has taken will inspire and embolden Arabs and Muslims around the world to follow Morocco's lead.
"We can only hope that the steps King Mohammed VI has taken will inspire and embolden Arabs and Muslims around the world to follow Morocco's lead."
Morocco and the Jewish people
Morocco and Israel reestablished diplomatic relations in 2020. An Israeli census in 2019 estimated nearly half a million Israelis of Moroccan-Jewish descent, but the World Federation of Moroccan Jewry puts the number at one million.
About 3,000 Jews are living in Morocco in communities thought to date as far back as the destruction of the Second Temple in Jerusalem in 70 CE, which grew significantly after the expulsion of Jews from Spain in 1492.
"This is a royal commandment, we do not ask if it is right or wrong because the king is the head of our country and knows what he is doing," Chief Rabbi of Casablanca rabbi Dr. Yitzchack Sabag told The Jerusalem Post on Sunday. Sabag is also a member of the International unit of the Conference of European Rabbis.
Sabag revealed that this decision by Morocco's King was supposed to be announced before the COVID-19 pandemic but it was delayed since. "Before the pandemic, the King gave instructions to the interior minister to advance the matter, yet it was only recently that the plan was submitted to him," Sabag explained.
"We are very happy with the king's decision," he said and added that "the king is very smart, he has a vision and he understood that in 2022 the way our community works is old-fashioned."
Sabag explained that for tens of years, the Jewish community bodies haven't had proper elections and that its representatives are usually voted by a small internal committee. "There used to be elections, but in a closed framework. Now, according to the new outline, there will be elections and everyone will be able to go out and vote for their candidates for the different roles."
Sabag said that he remembered tens of years ago, when he served as secretary of the chief rabbi, "there were a lot more Jews that lived in Morocco and they would have parties and events at the Hilton hotel in Rabat. I remember that there were conferences at night, and all kinds of people were appointed, yet the electing body was from within the leadership of the community and nowadays the electing body will belong to all the Jews."
Asked what the budget for these new royal initiatives will be, Sabag responded that "no one knows anything at the moment; the project is still very new and we still don't know exactly how everything will work. The new National Council, on behalf of the king, will send the king all the issues it wants to promote and how they want to manage the council and the king will decide exactly if to agree and budget them."
Sabag said that definitely one of the reasons for the King's decision was made now can be related to the fact that Israel and Morocco have renewed diplomatic relations with each other.
Zvika Klein contributed to this report.
New Netflix film highlights 1948 battle for Israeli kibbutz
Image of Victory,' Netflix's new Israeli war drama, revisits the capture of a kibbutz during Israel's War of Independence.
Andrew Lapin, JTA Jul 17, 2022, 3:39 PM GMT+3 Netflix
"Image of Victory." Netflix
The story of Israel's 1948 war for independence is told through the eyes of one kibbutz in "Image of Victory," a new Netflix film that's being billed as the most expensive Israeli movie ever.
Inspired by the real-life battle for control of Kibbutz Nitzanim, during which Egyptian forces overpowered the Israeli military, briefly captured the territory and took more than 100 prisoners of war, director Avi Nesher's old-fashioned wartime melodrama is more interested in the human beings caught up in the fighting than it is in the fighting itself. It's fitting, then, that one of the movie's protagonists is a professed admirer of Frank Capra, Old Hollywood's famed humanist.
On one side, the film follows the Jewish kibbutz residents who have settled in Mandatory Palestine from all over the world and the small, strapped Israel Defense Forces battalion assigned to protect them. (We meet, among others, two Spanish-speaking cousins from South America, who are based on real-life figures.) On the other side, the film follows Hassanin (Amir Khoury), an Egyptian journalist assigned by the king to make a documentary film about the army unit tasked with capturing Nitzanim.
Hassanin, who narrates the film in flashback, locks eyes with the enemy only once, at their moment of surrender. But the image he captures on camera in that moment resonates with him for decades: young kibbutznik Mira (Joy Reiger) smiling as she futilely draws a pistol against the advancing Egyptian forces. The film is inspired by the real-life figure of Mira Ben-Ari, a Nitzanim radio operator who was killed during the battle after shooting an Egyptian officer; her surprising decision to stay and fight alongside the Israeli men, against overwhelming odds, made her a martyr figure in Israel.
Scripted by Nesher, Liraz Brosh and Ehud Bleiberg (whose father was a dairy farmer in Nitzanim), much of the film details everyday life in the kibbutz. Characters tend to their dairy cows, eat communal meals, play music and train for war. Far from idealized postcards, these domestic sequences depict often harsh gender dynamics: The male soldiers regularly harass and belittle the women, who must resort to creative means (including, occasionally, humiliation) to assert their own authority. The lush production design includes detailed period recreations of the kibbutz and the surrounding battlegrounds.
Ad"> "> ">"> Unmute רכב היוקרה בעל 7 המקומות הנמכר ביותר בנסיעה עוצמתית! צפו בדני רופ לוקח את קאדילק XT6 לנסיעה עוצרת נשימה! CADILLAC XT6
Throughout, both the Israeli and Egyptian characters debate the war and the politics of the era — discussions that haven't changed much in 75 years. One of the Nitzanim residents notes they had to push out Arabs in order to build their kibbutz, and wonders if things might be easier if they simply returned the territory. She is swiftly rebuffed by an Israeli general, who insists that the minute they give up an inch, they'll be back on the road to another Holocaust. And yet the fighting unsettles everyone: the first death in the film, at the hands of the Israeli soldiers, turns out to be that of an Arab child.
Of course, framing is everything, as Hassanin knows well. When the character attempts to capture small, intimate moments that will humanize his Arab fighters on film, he finds his efforts rebuffed by the king and the area commander, who only want heroic images of the Egyptian conquest and Israeli defeat.
This look at how stories are told is a meta-commentary on "Image of Victory" itself, which is also making choices about how to frame history by choosing to dramatize one of the 1948 war's few instances of Israeli surrender, in which the IDF come across as uncharacteristically helpless and their opponents as well-organized and heavily armored. Israeli filmmakers have long been engaged in an often contentious dialogue with the public about how to depict their own country's past and present; "Tantura," a documentary from earlier this year, told a much harsher account of the founding of a different kibbutz in 1948.
"Image of Victory" isn't looking to provoke its Israeli audience in quite the same way. What Nesher wants is to present a human-centric approach to war storytelling. The movie is dedicated to the victims of the battle for Nitzanim, on both sides.
Court blasts 'Jew-free' housing in Israeli city
A sign posted on a road in Nazi Germany reads, "Jews are not wanted here." (United States Holocaust Memorial Museum)
Judge rules that the State hid rigged lottery system that reserved apartments for Arab buyers, specifically excluding Jews.
By Lauren Marcus, World Israel News
The Tel Aviv Regional Court struck down plans for a new State-sponsored housing development that would be open strictly to Arab buyers, with a judge blasting the government for obfuscating the origin of the ethnically discriminatory project.
On Sunday, Judge Kobi Vardi ruled that a government-backed subsidized housing project in Jaffa, which is part of the Tel Aviv Municipality, could not continue with its plan to exclude Jewish potential homebuyers.
Thirty of the apartments in the project were earmarked for sale as part of the Israeli government's "buyer's price" initiative, which offers relatively inexpensive apartments for first-time home buyers.
Because demand for the apartments is so high, the initiative uses a lottery-style system in which winners are meant to be drawn at random.
But unknown officials in the Tel Aviv Municipality decided that winners of the lottery would be limited to Arabs only, specifically excluding Jews from benefiting from the initiative.
In his ruling, Vardi noted that the decision was not presented to the public in a transparent fashion – rather, Jews had been allowed to enter the drawing, and the reality that the lottery was rigged to ensure that only Arabs would win was hidden from entrants.
According to an Israel Hayom report, Vardi said that the State had repeatedly refused to turn over information about the decision-making process that led to the ethnically discriminatory policy and that government representatives had even presented false information in court.
"No real explanation or answer was given" by the State as to how the decision was made. Vardi added that when he asked for the identity of the person or people who prevented Jews from buying the apartments, the State was "avoidant" and "did not give any answer to these basic questions.
"It is hard to believe that the State makes 'hush-hush' decisions. This is hard to understand," Vardi wrote.
Vardi ordered that the upcoming lottery drawing for the apartments be frozen.
The revelation about the housing initiative excluding Jews comes as Israel is in the midst of a housing crisis, with prices for apartments skyrocketing in recent years.