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Jonathan Tobin: Defending the Right to a Jewish State

Heather Hale: Compliment your kids without giving them big heads

Megan Shauri: 10 ways you are ruining your own happiness

Carolyn Bigda: 8 Best Dividend Stocks for 2015

Kiplinger's Personal Finance editors: 7 Things You Didn't Know About Paying Off Student Loans

Samantha Olson: The Crucial Mistake 55% Of Parents Are Making At Their Baby's Bedtime

Densie Well, Ph.D., R.D. Open your eyes to yellow vegetables

The Kosher Gourmet by Megan Gordon With its colorful cache of purples and oranges and reds, COLLARD GREEN SLAW is a marvelous mood booster --- not to mention just downright delish
April 18, 2014

Rabbi Yonason Goldson: Clarifying one of the greatest philosophical conundrums in theology

Caroline B. Glick: The disappearance of US will

Megan Wallgren: 10 things I've learned from my teenagers

Lizette Borreli: Green Tea Boosts Brain Power, May Help Treat Dementia

John Ericson: Trying hard to be 'positive' but never succeeding? Blame Your Brain

The Kosher Gourmet by Julie Rothman Almondy, flourless torta del re (Italian king's cake), has royal roots, is simple to make, . . . but devour it because it's simply delicious

April 14, 2014

Rabbi Dr Naftali Brawer: Passover frees us from the tyranny of time

Greg Crosby: Passing Over Religion

Eric Schulzke: First degree: How America really recovered from a murder epidemic

Georgia Lee: When love is not enough: Teaching your kids about the realities of adult relationships

Cameron Huddleston: Freebies for Your Lawn and Garden

Gordon Pape: How you can tell if your financial adviser is setting you up for potential ruin

Dana Dovey: Up to 500,000 people die each year from hepatitis C-related liver disease. New Treatment Has Over 90% Success Rate

Justin Caba: Eating Watermelon Can Help Control High Blood Pressure

The Kosher Gourmet by Joshua E. London and Lou Marmon Don't dare pass over these Pesach picks for Manischewitz!

April 11, 2014

Rabbi Hillel Goldberg: Silence is much more than golden

Caroline B. Glick: Forgetting freedom at Passover

Susan Swann: How to value a child for who he is, not just what he does

Cameron Huddleston: 7 Financial Tasks You Should Tackle Right Now

Sandra Block and Lisa Gerstner: How to Profit From Your Passion

Susan Scutti: A Simple Blood Test Might Soon Diagnose Cancer

Chris Weller: Have A Slow Metabolism? Let Science Speed It Up For You

The Kosher Gourmet by Diane Rossen Worthington Whitefish Terrine: A French take on gefilte fish

April 9, 2014

Jonathan Tobin: Why Did Kerry Lie About Israeli Blame?

Samuel G. Freedman: A resolution 70 years later for a father's unsettling legacy of ashes from Dachau

Jessica Ivins: A resolution 70 years later for a father's unsettling legacy of ashes from Dachau

Kim Giles: Asking for help is not weakness

Kathy Kristof and Barbara Hoch Marcus: 7 Great Growth Israeli Stocks

Matthew Mientka: How Beans, Peas, And Chickpeas Cleanse Bad Cholesterol and Lowers Risk of Heart Disease

Sabrina Bachai: 5 At-Home Treatments For Headaches

The Kosher Gourmet by Daniel Neman Have yourself a matzo ball: The secrets bubby never told you and recipes she could have never imagined

April 8, 2014

Lori Nawyn: At Your Wit's End and Back: Finding Peace

Susan B. Garland and Rachel L. Sheedy: Strategies Married Couples Can Use to Boost Benefits

David Muhlbaum: Smart Tax Deductions Non-Itemizers Can Claim

Jill Weisenberger, M.S., R.D.N., C.D.E : Before You Lose Your Mental Edge

Dana Dovey: Coffee Drinkers Rejoice! Your Cup Of Joe Can Prevent Death From Liver Disease

Chris Weller: Electric 'Thinking Cap' Puts Your Brain Power Into High Gear

The Kosher Gourmet by Marlene Parrish A gift of hazelnuts keeps giving --- for a variety of nutty recipes: Entree, side, soup, dessert

April 4, 2014

Rabbi David Gutterman: The Word for Nothing Means Everything

Charles Krauthammer: Kerry's folly, Chapter 3

Amy Peterson: A life of love: How to build lasting relationships with your children

John Ericson: Older Women: Save Your Heart, Prevent Stroke Don't Drink Diet

John Ericson: Why 50 million Americans will still have spring allergies after taking meds

Cameron Huddleston: Best and Worst Buys of April 2014

Stacy Rapacon: Great Mutual Funds for Young Investors

Sarah Boesveld: Teacher keeps promise to mail thousands of former students letters written by their past selves

The Kosher Gourmet by Sharon Thompson Anyone can make a salad, you say. But can they make a great salad? (SECRETS, TESTED TECHNIQUES + 4 RECIPES, INCLUDING DRESSINGS)

April 2, 2014

Paul Greenberg: Death and joy in the spring

Dan Barry: Should South Carolina Jews be forced to maintain this chimney built by Germans serving the Nazis?

Mayra Bitsko: Save me! An alien took over my child's personality

Frank Clayton: Get happy: 20 scientifically proven happiness activities

Susan Scutti: It's Genetic! Obesity and the 'Carb Breakdown' Gene

Lecia Bushak: Why Hand Sanitizer May Actually Harm Your Health

Stacy Rapacon: Great Funds You Can Own for $500 or Less

Cameron Huddleston: 7 Ways to Save on Home Decor

The Kosher Gourmet by Steve Petusevsky Exploring ingredients as edible-stuffed containers (TWO RECIPES + TIPS & TECHINQUES)

Jewish World Review August 2, 2005 / 26 Tamuz, 5765

Disengaging from democracy

By Gary Rosenblatt


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With middle of the night home searches and arrests, locking up 12 year-olds, and month-long jailings with detainees forbidden to receive legal council or have visits by spouses, Israel is beginning to look like pre-Glasnost Russia — and that's no hyperbole.

Where is the media outcry!?


http://www.JewishWorldReview.com | On July 12, at 3 a.m., Asher and Chava Vodka heard a loud knock on the door of their small apartment in Bat Yam, a poor town on the Mediterranean Sea near Tel Aviv, where they had been asleep with their two young children.


"Open up. Police," they heard.


The young couple — he is 26, a full-time student at Netivot Yisrael, a local yeshiva (rabbinical school), and she is 27, an English teacher — opened the door to find seven or eight men and a woman who insisted on searching the apartment and interrogating Asher.


For the next two hours, according to Chava, the increasingly intimidating officials ransacked the apartment searching for documents and refused to let the terrified couple make any phone calls. She later learned they were from Shabak, the Israeli internal security service also known as Shin Bet.


Then, without a word of explanation, they took Asher, several cell phones and the couple's two computers and left.


"I was shocked that Jews could behave like this with other Jews," Chava told me the other day. "There's something very strange going on in this country."


Through the help of a grassroots volunteer organization called Chanenu, which provides legal assistance to victims of politically motivated arrests and their families, Chava learned where her husband was being held and when his hearing would take place.


According to Shmuel Meidad, the founder of Chanenu, several hundred religious young men have been jailed in recent months on suspicion of planning anti-government activities regarding the Gaza pullout. Meidad said he sold his business about four-and-a-half years ago to create the organization, expanding the work he had been doing as a volunteer for more than 20 years in helping soldiers and civilians having "problems with the police."


Another Chanenu volunteer, Ephraim Rosenstein, a psychologist, said the group has helped about 1,200 people arrested over the past three months in regard to the disengagement, 850 of them under 18, who were jailed at demonstrations, 100 of them between the ages of 12 and 14. Rosenstein estimated that about 100 young men, almost all Orthodox, like Asher Vodka, remain in jail.


Vodka and four other Orthodox men in their 20s were arrested the same night and brought to a hearing together the next day. He was charged with "right-wing ideology in opposition to the Israeli disengagement from Gaza and suspected of thinking of or planning to obstruct roads, an act which could lead to endangering lives," according to the translation of a charge sheet.

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A news story in The Jerusalem Post said the five, according to the police, were "right-wing activists believed to be the key organizers behind a series of roadblocks" against disengagement.


A spokesman for the Israeli Consulate here said that "all arrests [related to the disengagement] are made according to normal, democratic procedures, and only if the law has been broken."


Chava Vodka said her husband has attended anti-disengagement rallies — as have tens of thousands of Israelis — and handed out orange ribbons symbolizing the cause, but has not been involved in any illegal activities. She said he spends his time learning Torah, volunteering with Ethiopian immigrants, helping needy families and teaching Judaism to those who want to learn more about their religion.


She said Asher was brought to the initial closed-door hearing in handcuffs and ankle shackles, not allowed to speak with or exchange glances with her, and ordered to remain in a Petach Tikvah jail for seven days of interrogation. At the end of that period, the order was renewed, twice, for another seven days each.


According to Chava, Asher has been held in a solitary cell with no toilet, allowed no visits, no phone calls, no direct connection with family members, and no books. His siddur, she said, was confiscated.


Michal Teichman, 23, told me that her husband, Nadav, also 23 and a student at the same yeshiva as Asher Vodka, was arrested by the police May 16 and has been jailed since then, charged with obstructing traffic related to a disengagement protest. She said the charges are false.


"He's a yeshiva boy" whose only "crime" was to attend disengagement rallies on occasion and wear orange, the color of protest, Michal said. Nadav's trial is set to resume in September.


There have been allegations that none of the young men being held on charges or suspicions of anti-disengagement activity will be released until after the evacuation of Gaza, set to begin Aug. 17, is complete.


My initial response upon hearing that so many religious young men detained in this way was one of surprise, as these arrests have attracted scant media attention. Those opposed to the disengagement say the press in Israel leans leftward and has no sympathy for those who have been jailed.


The head of Shabak, Avi Dichter, warned months ago that opponents of the disengagement were planning to make trouble by pitting settlers vs. the army. And officials have said they plan to employ liberally the administrative detention law — allowing prisoners to be held for extended periods of time and without trial, a measure used primarily until now against Arabs — against disengagement opponents as the Aug. 17 date approaches.


Based on my deep respect for Israel and its security forces, part of me assumed that if Israeli officials were arresting people, there must be a good reason for it. And that may well be true. I don't know Asher Vodka, the son of Russian immigrants whose father served three years in a Siberian prison as a Zionist "enemy of the state," but I do know Chava's parents, George and Lila Lowell, and siblings. We all lived in Baltimore some years ago, and I remember Chava as a teenager. The Lowells are accomplished, rational and credible people, committed to Jewish and Zionist ideals, and that is why, when Chava's parents told me of this situation, I chose to pursue it.


Part of the irony and tragedy of these difficult times in Israel is that both sides in the disengagement conflict accuse the other of being undemocratic and dehumanizing, and of undermining the foundations of Zionism.


After describing how her husband has been treated, Chava wrote to me: "I no longer feel that I can call Israel 'the only democracy in the Middle East.' " She said Jewish settlers and their supporters are portrayed in the media and by some politicians as selfish, violent and hate-filled, when in fact most of them are sincere, law-abiding citizens in deep anguish over their imminent uprooting.


(The Orthodox Union, in a letter this week to Israel's ambassador in Washington, said it was "stunned by reports of security forces singling out persons displaying outward appearances of religious observance for disparate harsh treatment.")


On the other hand, the decision by two leading Orthodox rabbis in Israel to encourage religious soldiers not to take part in evacuating Jews from their Gaza homes has been decried as seditious by a few officials. The notion that a religious edict trumps military and state law is a combustible concept in a Jewish state that also claims to be a democratic one.


What's more, some disengagement activists have used highly inflammatory language, describing the government as a dictatorship about to carry out a pogrom against its people.


Tensions are increasingly high as the protests escalate and the fear of Jew-against-Jew violence is palpable. Disengagement foes say the government is deeply worried about the power of the people, pointing to the very large, highly disciplined rallies that already have taken place, with more to come. Supporters of the government position say the Gush Katif folks and their supporters realize the game is up, that disengagement is imminent and cannot be stopped.


Both views are accurate, but whichever side you are on, it should give you pause to hear from Asher Vodka's mother, Malka, whose husband, Zev, was a Prisoner of Zion in Russia and whose son is being held in solitary confinement today.


"My husband was in prison from 1969 to 1972 because he wanted to come to Israel," she told me.


They came in 1973, and raised seven children, their sons all serving in the army.


"We love this country," Malka said, "but American Jews should know what is happening here. My husband has been told he must go to Petach Tikvah to be interrogated [presumably in connection with their son's arrest].


"In Russia it was the KGB. Here it is the Shabak. But this is worse," she said, "because here it is the Jews doing this to us."

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JWR Gary Rosenblatt is Editor and Publisher of the New York Jewish Week. Comment by clicking here.


© 2005, New York Jewish Week