Arutz Sheva Sivan 27, 5772 / Sunday, Jun. 17 ’12

 

Sivan 27, 5772 / Sunday, Jun. 17 ’12

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Headlines
1. UN Suspends Observer Mission in Syria Due to Danger
2. More Than 4,000 Israeli Converts to Judaism in 2011
3. S. Sudanese Farewell to Israel: Tears, Mostly Free Will
4. US Aiming at Israeli Banks
5. US Group Launches ‘African Voices for Israel’
6. Government Spins ‘Sound of Silence’ on Ulpana
7. Romney Woos Christians with Support for Israel
8. Police Violently Expel Ramat Migron Residents

1. UN Suspends Observer Mission in Syria Due to Danger
by Chana Ya’ar
UN: No Additional Monitors in Syria
The United Nations announced Saturday that it won’t send additional monitors to Syria; the international body decided to suspend the mission, saying it’s just too dangerous.
The observer teams who have already been planted in the civil war-torn country have hunkered down, unable to conduct patrols.
The decision was made primarily to protect the monitors, who travel around Syria unarmed and have been repeatedly attacked by government forces. As a result, the teams are unable to fulfill their mandate to verify events on the ground, other than to confirm the incessant violence carried out by those who attack them.
Most recently, the monitors were driven away from the village of Al Heffa, which was under assault for nearly a week by the government forces, until all its residents fled as well.
Part of the problem has been the intransigence of Russia, a permanent member of the U.N. Security Council. Russia has continued to arm the Syrian government forces against the pleas of fellow Arab and European U.N. members to support a campaign to end the violence.
As a result, it is largely unclear whether the monitors themselves are also being targeted by the Syrian government forces and their loyalists.
On Saturday, forces loyal to Syrian President Bashar al-Assad attacked towns and villages around Damascus, murdering dozens of civilians, according to the British-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights. Government troops conducted sweeps in which groups of young men were arrested.
U.S. President Barack Obama issued a statement Saturday via the White House spokesman calling on Assad to uphold commitments made in the past several months – all of which he has broken and/or ignored.
“We are consulting with our international partners regarding next steps toward a Syrian-led political transition,” the White House statement continued,” and “the sooner this transition takes place, the greater the chance of averting a lengthy and bloody civil war.”
France announced last week, meanwhile, that its government is considering providing communications equipment to the opposition forces in order to strengthen their efforts without supplying arms.
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2. More Than 4,000 Israeli Converts to Judaism in 2011
by Hana Levi Julian

More than 4,000 Gentiles converted to Judaism in Israel last year, according to government statistics.
The data was announced at a weekend event sponsored by the Conversion Authority of the Prime Minister’s Office.
A total of 4,239 people made the seminal change in their lives, including 1,936 people from countries in the former Soviet Union, and 1,647 who were from Ethiopia and other African nations. The remainder hailed from a variety of Western, Middle Eastern and Asian countries.
Judaism’s newest “members of the tribe” had completed government-sponsored conversion classes and had passed the various tests that enabled them to join the Jewish People, a process that is considered quite rigorous and to which most converts dedicate several years of their lives to completing.
Included is an oral examination before a Rabbinical Court comprised of a panel of three rabbinic judges. The rabbis closely question the potential convert’s intentions, as well as his or her knowledge of Jewish laws, rituals, traditions and history. It is customary for the candidate to bring with him or with her a sponsoring family or rabbinic adviser, who is also questioned by the rabbinic panel.
In addition, a convert must complete the Halachic (Jewish legal) process of immersing in a mikvah, the ritual pool of purifying waters. Male converts must also under brit mila – circumcision; those who are already circumcised must nevertheless undergo a symbolic form referred to as “tipat dom” (a drop of blood) as well.
Speaking at the event, Rabbi Haim Druckman, who designed the process converts must complete, noted, “Anyone who converts is truly doing so in order to join the Jewish People, and not for any other reason — since new immigrants who are not [halachically] Jewish [already] receive all the benefits that Jewish immigrants do.”
Under the Law of Return, anyone who can prove through documentation that they have a minimum of one Jewish grandparent on either side of the family, regardless of whether it is in the matrilineal or patrilineal line, is eligible to make aliyah.
This does not make one Jewish under Torah Law (“Halacha”), however, which states that Judaism is passed solely through the matrilineal line: that is, only one born to a Jewish mother, who was born to a Jewish mother, is considered halachically a Jew.

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3. S. Sudanese Farewell to Israel: Tears, Mostly Free Will
by Chana Ya’ar

South Sudanese family boarded buses for the airport in cities around the country Sunday, often in tears, but voluntarily, ready to go home.
Many wearing backpacks, several dozen families were sighted gathering in the center of town in the northeastern Negev city of Arad, getting ready to board rented buses for the journey to Ben-Gurion International Airport.
It is estimated that several thousand Africans have settled in the city overlooking the southern Dead Sea hotel area over the past few years. “Their kids were crying,” Michael Redbourne, a resident of the city told Arutz Sheva. “Lots were in the bank closing their accounts.”
Speaking at Sunday’s weekly cabinet meeting, Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu said the government would continue to repatriate illegal aliens to their home countries. However, he said the process would be carried out with sensitivity, ensuring their personal honor would be preserved as much as possible.
“We will do this in an organized manner, ensuring that they are respected,” Netanyahu said. “We are dealing with the illegal alien issue by preventing them from entering the country through construction of a security fence in the south, and a quick repatriation of aliens to their homelands, and in some cases to a third country – all the while reducing the incentives for them to attempt to come to Israel,” he said.
The first flight of some 120 South Sudanese illegal aliens who are being repatriated to their native land is set to leave Israel on Sunday evening and is scheduled to arrive in Juba, the capital of South Sudan. Those traveling are a mix of volunteers and detainees who have been arrested in the sweep by immigration officials over the past several weeks.
The flight was made possible after the High Court ruled that citizens from South Sudan do not necessarily hold the status of political refugees.
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4. US Aiming at Israeli Banks
by Chana Ya’ar

Swiss branches of two Israeli banks have been indicted by the U.S. Department of Justice for allegedly helping Americans conceal their offshore assets. The indictment, filed June 14 with the U.S. District Court in California, centers on United Revenue Services, Inc. (URS), a California and Nevada-based tax preparation firm.
The company is headed by dual Israeli-U.S. citizens father and son David and Nadav Kalai, who were also charged along with their Israeli employee, David Almog, with assisting clients to open offshore shell entities with accounts at Swiss branches of Israeli banks. In one instance, a case also involved an account at an Israeli bank whose branch was located in Tel Aviv.
The issue involves the failure to file an FBAR (“Foreign Bank Account Report”) form with the U.S. Internal Revenue Service (IRS) for annual tax returns. The FBAR lists the monies held in foreign bank accounts owned by American citizens.
The probe, which began with audits of individual U.S. taxpayers, eventually shifted to intermediaries.
Enforcement actions were then initiated against URS and Credit Suisse, ultimately forcing the two to reveal the identities of thousands of U.S. account holders to the United States government.
“Bank A was a large financial institution headquartered in Tel-Aviv, Israel. Bank A currently describes itself as maintaining a ‘premier position in the world of international private banking’ with private bankers who will be a customer’s ‘loyal and discreet consultant.’
“Bank A currently advertises that it has ‘more than 336 branches and representations across 18 countries worldwide,’ including banking operations in Luxembourg (“hereinafter ‘Bank A Luxembourg”).”
The indictment goes on to list the second bank headquartered in Tel-Aviv, Israel, also unnamed. “Bank B offered private banking services it currently describes as being tailored to a customer’s ‘preferred communications channels and information’ while ‘maintaining total discretion.’ Bank B advertises a ‘worldwide presence on four continents through subsidiaries, brances, and representative offices,’ including a branch of its Swiss banking operations located in Luxembourg (hereinafter ‘Bank B Switzerland-Luxembourg Branch’).”
U.S. citizens, resident aliens and legal permanent residents (people with ‘green cards’) are required to file an individual income tax return with the IRS reporting their worldwide income for year year, if their gross income exceeds a certain amount. The IRS requires on Form 1040, Schedule B, Part III, Line 7a, explains the indictment, that every taxpayer answer the following question by checking ‘yes’ or ‘no’: ‘At any time during [the calendar year] dud you have an interest in or a signature or other authority over a financial account in a foreign country…. ?” If yes, further information is required.
Some of the records date back as far as 2001, and unreported income amounts are as low as $483 in one case. A number of firms are named together with unindicted co-conspirators whose initials only are noted. Among the companies named as having been involved in filing falsetax returns are Antelope Int’l Ltd., in Belize, Quattro International Consulting, Falcon Corporate Holdings, Ltd., in the Cayman Islands, PFL Management, Inc., Arcos Iris Investments, Inc. in Belize, Platinum Partners I, and others.
“U.S. residents with an aggregate of $10,000 in any foreign account in one particular calendar year must fill out a Department of Treasury Foreign Bank and Financial Accounts Report, (FBAR) form TD F 90-22.1, due by June 30 of the following year,” the indictment reminds.
Alert for Americans Living in Israel
This is particularly relevant to Americans living in the State of Israel at present, because over the past year, a new initiative has been launched which the IRS has calls the ‘Erroneous Refund Credit Project.’ Thousands of American citizens who filed legitimate, correct tax returns from Israel discovered this year they are under investigation and are bein audited by the IRS for fiscal years 2009 and 2010.
According to an IRS source who requested anonymity because he was not authorized to speak with media, there are three “red flags” that at present are “almost automatically” triggering an audit of tax returns filed by Americans living in Israel:
1. the family for some reason is exempt from paying taxes in the US
2. the family is eligible to receive a refundable tax credit, such as the child tax credit
3. the family is not living in the United States (and is residing in Israel).
Unstated, but under particular scrutiny are joint returns that are filed, particularly those listing numerous children, the source said. “We have found a number of those who claim children that actually do not exist, or who are not legitimately American citizens,” he said.
Audit forms, and the lists of documents demanded in order to prove one’s compliance with U.S. government laws, are pages long and can include details such as listing one’s whereabouts during every single trip abroad, literally hour by hour, and the income — if any — derived during those times and the source from which it came.
The IRS audit demands can be daunting, but the consequences of not complying with them even more so. Such audits can be ameliorated, but individual cases must be addressed each in different ways. Readers are strongly advised to consult your personal tax accountant and if audited, to also contact the individual IRS tax auditor listed on the form.
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5. US Group Launches ‘African Voices for Israel’
by Tzvi Ben Gedalyahu
American Voices in Israel, promoted by major U.S. Jewish groups, has launched Africa’s Voices in Israel to widen support for the Jewish State.
The Conference of Presidents of Major Jewish Organizations helped established American Voices for Israel to bring U.S.-based radio talk show hosts to see Israel and broadcast their programs live from Jerusalem.
They have toured the country and have met with political, cultural, business and scientific leaders to help them disseminate a fairer picture of Israel than what is generally published in mainstream media.
The African Voices for Israel will invite Christian pastors as well as African-American and Hispanic community leaders, said AVI Chairman, George Rohr.
He said that African personalities will be given “an opportunity to explore Israel’s business, cultural, historical and religious landscapes with a goal towards increasing mutually beneficial programs between the Jewish State and emerging African nations.”
The inaugural Africa’s Voices in Israel mission, featuring a delegation of Bank Governors from Kenya, Uganda, South Sudan, Zambia, Ghana and Swaziland arrived in Israel on Sunday.
During their five-day visit, the African Bank Governors will meet with Bank of Israel Governor Stanley Fischer, Minister of Finance Yuval Steinitz and other Israeli business and banking leaders.
Part of the tour will include the Save A Child’s Heart project at the Wolfson Medical Center, where 40 percent of the patients are young children from Africa.
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6. Government Spins ‘Sound of Silence’ on Ulpana
by Tzvi Ben Gedalyahu
The office of Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu claims discussions with Givat Ulpana residents on a court-ordered expulsion are at a “standstill,” but they told Arutz Sheva no such discussions are taking place.
A court ruling has ordered the expulsion of 33 families from their homes in the Ulpana neighborhood of Beit El by the end of the month, following the justices accepting a Peace Now petition that the purchase of the land for the homes from a Palestinian Authority Arab was not legal.
The government wants a “quiet” expulsion without violence.
The Yisrael HaYom newspaper reported Sunday that talks with the residents are at a dead-end, but residents told Arutz Sheva that the office of the Prime Minister has not called them with answers concerning compensation and Prime Minister Netanyahu’s promise to build 300 more residential units in Beit El as well as 551 homes elsewhere.
“Discussions are continuing, but there is no advancement or agreement with the residents,” according to the government.
The 33 families have been promised that their homes will be removed as is and reestablished in another part of Beit El.
The government also has announced the formation of a new ministerial committee to take over responsibility on housing policies in Judea and Samaria. The Cabinet is to meet on Sunday to approve the make-up of the committee, which is scheduled to include a wide if not unwieldy political spectrum.
The Prime Minister will head the committee, which is to include Defense Minister Ehud Barak, who until now has been the lone authority to authorize and reject homes for Jews in Judea and Samaria.
Other members are to be Kadima leader Shaul Mofaz, who has generally sided with Barak on Judea and Samaria, and nationalists Gideon Saar. Yuli Edelstein, Gilad Erdan, Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman and Interior Minister Eli Yishai (Shas). Another nominee on the committee is Benny Begin of the Likud, who has been a disappointment to nationalists by taking a compromising position on the development of Judea and Samaria.
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7. Romney Woos Christians with Support for Israel
by Tzvi Ben Gedalyahu
Mitt Romney stumped for the “evangelical Christian vote in Pennsylvania on Saturday by promising a cheering crowd he would do “the opposite” of President Barack Obama and stand firm with Israel.
Polls show that Pennsylvania is solidly behind the president, but Republicans see a change in the surveys that indicate they have a shot at taking the state in the general elections in November. The last time a Republican presidential candidate won Pennsylvania was in 1988, when George Bush was elected after Ronald Reagan’s two terms as president.
Romney’s Mormon faith is an obstacle to his sewing up the evangelical Christian vote, and his speech to the Faith and Freedom Coalition, an evangelical Christian political organization, made it clear to voters they must realize the urgency of supporting him. Faith and Freedom Coalition director Ralph Reed warned the audience that President Obama is waging what he called a “war against religion.”
Romney underlined the importance of backing Israel and stopping Iran from achieving nuclear capability. Obama is sounding “like he’s more frightened that Israel might take military action than he’s concerned that Iran might become nuclear,” said the unofficial de facto Republican candidate.
He drew scornful laughter from an appreciative crowd when he said of President Obama, “I think, by and large, you can just look at the things the president has done and do the opposite.”
The president’s campaign spokesman Ben LaBolt responded that Obama has sent Israel “the largest security assistance packages in history” and is working with a coalition of Western countries to stop Iran’s nuclear development. Israelis leaders have said it may be too late to do so.
Romney made it clear he would favor military action, if necessary, to stop Iran. He said, without specifically calling for a military strike, “I would make it very clear that for us, as well as for them, it is unacceptable for Iran to become a nuclear nation and that we’re prepared to take any and all action to keep that from happening.”
He also said that if he were president now, he would encourage Turkey and Saudi Arabia to arm the opposition in Syria.
“I think we have to have a very careful review of who’s giving a fair shot to the American people,” Romney said Saturday.
Poll shows that Romney is trailing by at a least six percentage points but has not gained 50 percent of support because of undecided voters, Philadelphia Inquirer’s Thomas Fitzgerald noted last week.
“In addition, the president’s job approval rating in this survey (46 percent) is worse than his likability rating of 77 percent,” he added. “By 49 percent to 41 percent, respondents say that Romney would do a better job of handling the economy. Asked which candidate would create more jobs, 45 percent picked the Republican, to 43 percent who named Obama.”
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8. Police Violently Expel Ramat Migron Residents
by Tzvi Ben Gedalyahu
The government continued its war against the Ramat Migron outpost in northern Samaria Saturday night as police violently expelled approximately 10 residents.
Border Police used extreme violence against the residents, including a young couple who married only several weeks ago, even after the officers refused or were unable to show a court order authorizing the middle-of-the-night expulsion.
“[Prime Minister Binyamin] Netanyahu and [Public Security Minister Yitzchak] Aharonovitch have turned the residents of Judea and Samaria into a punching bag for the ‘legal’ authorities,” said National Union Knesset Member Dr. Michael Ben-Ari.
Tatzpit, which reports on activities in Judea and Samaria and focuses on police actions that are illegal, said that Border Police surrounded the building at Ramat Migron while back-up forces were deployed on nearby Route 60, the major north-south highway in Judea and Samaria, to prevent supporters from arriving to the outpost.
The police broke down the door to the building and burst in, forcing out a family and as well as six other residents who were at the outpost at the time.
The government has carried out dozens of midnight raids on Ramat Migron, which usually are immediately followed by the residents’ rebuilding the homes.
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