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The Stupid Anat Kamm Gag Order

Yossi Melman explains why he couldn’t report the facts


TEL AVIV—Was I a chicken? Should I have published the story once I learned of it more than three months ago? Could I have continued to obey a judge’s gag order when I had a no less fundamental duty to the freedom of the press and the public’s right to know? I have been torn between the requirements of the law and the dictates of my conscience.

I knew the details of the case of Anat Kamm, the young journalist under house arrest on charges of serious espionage (in other democracies, she may have been praised as a whistle-blower). But I was blocked from reporting on it because a court issued a non-disclosure order at the request of Israel’s attorney general, who is representing the Israeli Army and the Shin Bet, or General Security Service. The situation, though, became so absurd this week that I could no longer remain totally silent. Additionally, Israeli authorities partially lifted the gag order today.

Only the mainstream newspaper, radio, and television media in Israel remained silent. I can understand why, and it isn’t because they want to shut up. Anyone who published on it would be liable to charges of contempt of court, or worse. We would undermine the principle of obeying the law and might even be accused of lending a hand to illegal activity. That could deal a blow to the prestige and credibility of us in the media.

Left with little choice, my paper, Haaretz, and Israel’s Channel 10 filed court appeals, a month ago, to lift the gag order. But judges in Israel are never in a rush. Once an issue gets to a court, time tends to stand still.

Some international media outlets are confused. They attribute the restriction and blackout to the military censorship which operates in Israel. They are wrong. This time it has nothing to do with the censorship, which falls under a department in the Ministry of Defense. Instead, the gag order is only because of a court decision.

Here’s a basic primer, which I present as a veteran of legal battles against Israel’s defense establishment. (more…)

Try The Long Island Duck

An old Jew tells a joke


Pretty, pretty good!

The Low-Down on Israel’s Jailed Journo

With gag order lifted, there is a tale to tell!

Anat Kamm.(Wikimedia Commons)

Tablet Magazine has just published Haaretz spy correspondent Yossi Melman’s account of the Anat Kamm affair. It’s a great basic summary, and you should read the whole thing.

Kamm is a journalist who, while in the army (into 2007), stole documents from IDF Central Command and handed them to Haaretz investigative reporter Uri Blau. He used them to publish a damning 2008 article reporting that Israeli military commanders knowingly planned to violate a Supreme Court ruling that barred the assassination of terrorists where arrests were feasible. Several months ago, prosecutors placed Kamm under house arrest and charged her under treason law; Blau lives in Britain, fearful of returning.

“Israel’s military censors approved Blau’s article, finding that its publication would not damage Israel’s national security,” Melman says. “Yet an intention to do such damage is precisely what Kamm is now accused of.”

Israel had imposed a gag order over the whole case, so that most reporting had been done by American reporters like Richard Silverstein and Ron Kampeas. Even the New York Times ran yesterday’s article on it with no byline to avoid breaking the gag (h/t Ben Smith). That order was lifted today; you can see that reflected on the Websites of the Israeli papers, as well as our own.

The Source [Tablet Magazine]
Israel Lifts Gag Order on Ex-Soldier Spy Case [AP/Google]
Earlier: Israel’s Semi-Secret Espionage Case

Meet the New Boss, Same as the Old Boss?

Spitzer may return to the political arena

Spitzer at the 2007 Columbus Day Parade.(Spencer Platt/Getty Images)

The Scroll’s crusade to put a Jew in the governor’s mansion of America’s most Jewish state (that would be New York—in absolute numbers and by percentage, in fact) may soon get a new leading man. Eliot Spitzer, New York’s previous governor (and previous Jewish governor), has begun a process of rehabilitation following the sex scandal that doomed his tenure. (The scandal itself did not involve abuse of public funds or trust but was embarrassing enough that, coupled with other things, Spitzer decided to resign.) The New York Times reports that Spitzer has turned himself into an able pundit, mostly on financial matters, to great acclaim. It’s an unorthodox, and compelling, comeback route.

As things stand now, New York’s next governor is most likely Democratic Attorney General Andrew Cuomo; Republican candidate Steve Levy is not seen as the likely victor.

Needless to say, Spitzer demurs when asked if he has specific political plans. He is only 50, though. Next time there will be an opening for the Democratic candidate, he’s likely to be either 54 or 58. Can New Yorkers wait another eight years before they are once again ruled by a Jew? Stay tuned …

Spitzer’s Long Road To Redemption [NYT]
Earlier Run, Steve Levy, Run!

Today on Tablet

Spy games, evading the next Holocaust, and more


Today in Tablet Magazine, top Israeli spy correspondent Yossi Melman and CBS Newsman Dan Raviv give the skinny (and the fat) on historic cooperation and tensions between U.S. and Israeli intelligence. Shalom Auslander ponders what he and his family will do when They come for the Jews. Poetry critic David Kaufmann reviews top poet Edward Hirsch’s new collection. The Scroll loves spy movies but is unclear just how true-to-life they are.

Whose Side Is Time On?

The Palestinians wait; Syria could be Israel’s shortcut

Syrian President Bashar Assad last month.(Joseph Eid/AFP/Getty Images)

The main argument of today’s column from Ari Shavit, who is likely Israel’s foremost political columnist (think Tom Friedman, except a little to the left), is that solving Syria could be something of a skeleton key for an Obama Administration increasingly intent on producing Mideast peace: A treaty there would “help Iraq, isolate Iran and indirectly contribute to the cause in Afghanistan,” Shavit says. Additionally, it will “guarantee slow but certain progress on the Palestinian track.” Shavit also argues against President Obama’s apparent goal: “Pleasing Islam by quickly closing the file on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.” The road to Ramallah, as they say, leads through Damascus.

Among other things, the piece is a helpful reminder that even if you think you have the answer to the West Bank, there are many other variables in play—Syria, Iran, and Hamas in Gaza most quickly coming to mind.

But Shavit’s analysis of the West Bank stood out to me: Broadly speaking, he pointed out, there’s actually little dispute over what will happen! (more…)

Daybreak: Security Council Gets to Business

Plus nukes in Prague, sex in the West Bank, and more in the news

Presidents Obama, Medvedev, and Vaclav Klaus (Czech Republic) this morning.(Jewel Samad/AFP/Getty Images)

• Today sees the first high-level talks among senior U.N. Security Council members—including China—over further Iran sanctions. [WP]

• Presidents Obama and Medvedev signed a nuclear arms treaty in Prague this morning. [NYT]

• More on the Obama Administration’s deliberations over whether to write up its own peace treaty and submit it to the Israelis and the Palestinians. [LAT]

• Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas fired the top aide who is seen on a scandalous tape allegedly extorting sex from a woman not his wife. [NYT]

• An overview of Turkey’s attempts to gain regional prestige and hegemony, in part by cozying up to neighbor Syria. [WP]

Sundown: Take Our Matzoh—Please!

Plus much ado about nothing roses, and more


• Arab Israelis love matzoh. In possibly related news, sales of prune juice to Arab Israelis have skyrocketed. [AP/Vos Iz Neias?r]

• Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan called Israel the greatest threat to Mideast peace. [Haaretz]

• Israel selected its representative to the 2011 Venice Art Biennale. Sigalit Landau’s contribution will be “based on co-existence on the human plane, and the chronology of settlement in pre-state Israel.” [Haaretz]

• Those roses from a U.S. Christian group that Prime Minister Netanyahu couldn’t accept for fear of offending the American administration? Actually, Bibi’s office said he’d be glad to accept them, and donate them to hospitals. [JPost]

• An Orthodox 15-year-old fencer who previously petitioned not to compete on Saturdays won third place in Cadet level épée at the Fencing World Championships—on a Saturday. [Failed Messiah]

You don’t need a weatherman to know which way the wind blows. Or, if you’re in the northeast, to know how insanely hot it is today.

Wallenberg Lived Longer Than Thought

New info emerges on Righteous Swede’s death

Wallenberg.( Wikipedia)

The exact fate of Raoul Wallenberg, the Righteous Gentile who saved tens of thousands of Hungarian Jews during the Holocaust before perishing in a Soviet prison after the war, has long been a subject of uncertainty and controversy. For years, the Soviet Union insisted that he died in 1947 in his cell (he was detained in 1945 on suspicion of being a spy, though a 1953 show trial “proved” that he had in fact been kidnapped by Zionists). In 2000, a Russian prosecutor disclosed that he was executed in 1947, and posthumously declared him a victim of “political repression.”

Now there’s a startling bit of news that suggests Wallenberg lived at least a little past when we thought he did. Previously, we were told that he was killed on June 17, 1947. However, according to Swedish researchers, one “prisoner number 7”—believed to be Wallenberg—was questioned on June 23 of that year.

In theory, this could mean that he was killed merely six days after we thought. But maybe more? One of the researchers certainly thinks so: She said it was the most important information we’ve learned about Wallenberg in 50 years.

For the record, Wallenberg is not just a Swede: He is one of only seven Honorary U.S. Citizens.

New Information on Fate of Raoul Wallenberg [Arutz Sheva]

A Female Job, of Sorts

An old Jew tells a joke


Here is today’s helping of Old Jews Telling Jokes.

Champion Scheyer Could Make B’ball Aliyah

If Blue Devil is undrafted, Israel awaits

Jon Scheyer, understandably ecstatic.(Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images)

Unfortunately, the Duke Blue Devils defeated Butler Monday night in Indianapolis, Indiana, to become 2010 college basketball champions. (Trust me, it’s unfortunate. It’s like when the Yankees win the World Series.) Which means, more fortunately, that we can extend a hearty mazel tov to Jewish baller Jon Scheyer, the star guard who was the runner-up for the Atlantic Coast Conference’s Player of the Year award.

So, what’s next?

Scheyer’s hometown Chicago Sun-Times argues (via Kaplan’s Korner) that Scheyer’s style of play, which involves great outside shooting and a wonderful ability to move without the ball, is better suited to college than the pros. “The NBA places a premium on athleticism, vertical leap and the ability to create your own shot,” the paper notes: “three things that could keep Scheyer from even being drafted.” (We’d pause to note that former Duke guard and horrible poet J.J. Redick, whom Scheyer idolized and is clearly modeled after, has found great success coming off the bench for the Orlando Magic, playing exactly the way he did at Duke.)

If the NBA does indeed decide to pass on Scheyer? Then, reported Haaretz, Scheyer may travel to the land of his people. “”If he doesn’t make it in the NBA, he’ll be a top player here,” said one Israeli head coach. “He’s a very good shooter, he can play either guard position, and he is a smart player.” So, either way, you can definitely expect continued Scheyer coverage on The Scroll. In case that was a concern.

Is This The End of the Line for Jon Scheyer?
[Chicago Sun-Times]
In An Unpredictable Tournament, Duke’s Scheyer Is One Player To Count On [Haaretz]

Obama Yanks Religion From Security Doc

Tablet profile today explains more

Obama earlier this week.(Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)

The current U.S. National Security Strategy, produced under the Bush Administration, states: “The struggle against militant Islamic radicalism is the great ideological conflict of the early years of the 21st century.” But the Obama Administration will remove all references to “Islamic extremism” and other religious terms from its version of the security document. According to reports, the change is championed by Pradeep Ramamurthy, who serves on President Obama’s National Security Council.

If Ramamurthy’s name sounds familiar, it’s because you’ve already read Tablet Magazine Mideast columnist Lee Smith’s piece today. It focuses on Dalia Mogahed, the founder of the Gallup Center for Muslim Studies. Smith specifically notes that Mogahed’s influence at the White House has come largely via … Pradeep Ramamurthy.

Writes Smith:

Mogahed has encouraged the White House to ‘demonstrate an appreciation for Islam’s contributions to the world, rather than simply reassuring Muslims that we believe Islam is peaceful.’ The point that America needs to make, she says, is that we believe Islam ‘is not just benign but beneficial.’ Speaking to the Muslim world as a great undifferentiated throng slights the specific historical and practical circumstances of individual countries but suits Obama’s self-image as a transformative leader, one who calls on different parts of the globe according to how they structure their fears and hopes and premonitions of the eternal.

Read Smith’s timely piece here.

UPDATE: Mogahed responds to Smith’s profile on Tablet Magazine contributing editor Jeffrey Goldberg’s blog.

Obama Bans Terms ‘Islam’ and ‘Jihad’ From Security Document [AP/Haaretz]
Respectfully Yours [Tablet Magazine]
The Most Influential Muslim at the White House? [Jeffrey Goldberg]

Bar Mitzvah Redux

This week on ‘Millionaire Matchmaker’

(Bravo TV.)

Every Wednesday, Senior Writer Allison Hoffman recaps the previous night’s episode of the glory that is Millionaire Matchmaker. For previous Matchmaker coverage, click here.

There comes a time in every young boy’s life when he finds himself at the threshold of becoming a man. Symbolically, that happens for Jewish boys when they turn 13. But in reality, it comes later. Much, much later. Sometimes, never. But that’s where Patti Stanger, the Maharat of Matchmakers, comes in.

So, let’s meet this week’s overgrown children! First we have Dylan Smith, the 24-year-old CFO of, a cloud-computing service he started with a friend while he was an undergrad at Duke and now runs from offices in Palo Alto, California, where everyone else is, like, 30 and married. Dylan has many things going for him: Along with being a venture capital-backed paper millionaire—the next Mark Zuckerberg, maybe!—he is an avid half-marathoner and a Wiffleball champ and also a committed member of a Rock Band. (As in, the video game.) In fact, Dylan has so much promise that a companion wondered why the kid couldn’t just wait a few years for the hot Russian women to start throwing themselves at him in nightclubs. But, see, the problem is that he’s not getting laid at the moment, and that is what he wants Patti to fix.

Next to angelic Dylan, 28-year-old Hillel Presser looks, frankly, over the hill. But he comes from “the land of Florida,” as Patti puts it, and he’s had to work for his money: He’s an attorney in Boca who specializes in “asset protection,” which is to say, in hiding money from angry exes and jilted business partners. A noble cause! In his spare time, he invests in a company called 1-800-Muffins, which appears to be absolutely exactly what it sounds like. Hillel, who has short, gelled hair and a bit of a gut, volunteers that there is nothing in life that he wants but does not have, except, of course, a girl who looks just like Sloan from Entourage. “I just want a nice girl who likes me for me,” he tells Patti earnestly. “And I wanna be attracted to that girl.” That old chestnut! (more…)

Today on Tablet

Old-man sex, juvenile Seders, and more


Today in Tablet Magazine, books critic Adam Kirsch reviews Adam Thirlwell’s new novel The Escape, casting him as a self-conscious successor to the Bellow-Roth mold. After another year of one, parenting columnist Marjorie Ingall wonders if a seder with kids should be quite so focused on the kids. Mideast columnist Lee Smith profiles the quietly influential Dalia Mogahed, who heads up Gallup’s Center for Muslim Studies. The Scroll is back, rested, and ready to break bread with you.

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