Your First Read For Oct 11


Israel informed U.S. of Russian hacking

Israel intelligence officers last year informed the United States that Russian government hackers had attempted to break into intelligence programs in the United States, the New York Times reported yesterday. According to the article, employees of Kaspersky Lab were searching U.S. computers for the code names of “American intelligence programs.”

The Russian operation, the Times reported, is known to have stolen classified documents from a National Security Agency employee who had improperly stored them on a home computer. The exact information that the hacking obtained is now known.

The report is reminiscent of Israeli spies in 1956 informing the U.S. of Nikita Khrushchev’s denouncement of Joseph Stalin at a closed gathering of Communist Party leaders in the Soviet Union.

Police arrest belligerent man at Plainview synagogue

Police in Nassau County yesterday arrested a Wantagh man who they said refused to leave the Young Israel of Plainview, then punched, kicked and bit officers who had arrived to remove him, Newsday reports. Natan Weissblum, 18, faces three counts of assault, resisting arrest, obstructing governmental administration and criminal trespass.

Police said Weissblum went to the second floor of the synagogue, entered a restricted area and declined requests to leave. He is scheduled to be arraigned today in First District Court in Hempstead.

‘Genius Grants’ for two with Israeli backgrounds

Two people with Israeli backgrounds were yesterday among two dozen men and women named as recipients of $625,000 awards from the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation, better known as the Genius Grants, NPR reports.

Regina Barzilay, a 46-year-old computer scientist who received her B.A. and M.S. degrees from Ben-Gurion University in Beersheba, was honored for her work in “developing machine learning methods that enable computers to process and analyze vast amounts of human language data.” She lives in in Cambridge, Mass.

Opera director Yuval Sharon, who was born in Chicago to Israeli parents and now lives in Los Angeles, received his grant for “Expanding how opera is performed and experienced through immersive, multi-sensory, and mobile productions that are infusing a new vitality into the genre.” 


U.S. offers reward for capture of Hezbollah leaders

The State Department has offered $12 million in rewards for the capture of two leaders of the Hezbollah terrorist group, State Department counterterrorism coordinator Nathan Sales said yesterday, JTA reports. The rewards of up to $7 million and up to $5 million, respectively, are “for information that leads to the location, arrest or conviction in any country” of Talal Hamiyah and Fu’ad Shukr.

Hamiyah leads Hezbollah’s international terrorist unit, responsible for planning attacks outside of Lebanon, mostly on Americans and Israelis., Shukr is a senior military commander for Hezbollah in Lebanon who helped launch and plan the 1983 Beirut barracks bombings that killed 241 U.S. and 58 French peacekeepers and six civilians.


Accountant who bilked Holocaust survivors get five-year sentence

An accountant who pled guilty to stealing more than $1 million from the estates of two Holocaust survivors here will spend at least five years in prison after agreeing yesterday to a plea agreement, according to the Daily News.

Richard Doren, 51, was Doren was arrested in May 2016 after “raiding the estates” of his late clients and using the cash to pay off a mortgage and $10,000-a-month credit card, the paper reports.

Belgium pulls aid for school named for terrorist

The Belgian government is suspending any efforts to construct or furnish Palestinian schools, after one built with the country’s aid was renamed in honor of a mass-murdering terrorist, the Algemeiner reports. The school in the southern West Bank now bears the name of Dalal Mughrabi, who led a massacre of 38 people — including 13 children — near Tel Aviv in 1978.

The school’s logo includes a map that erases Israel, while its Facebook page has posted pictures “glorifying Palestinian attackers,” the paper reports. A plaque at the school notes that it was established with Belgian support.

Iran seeks to block Israeli-made Waze app

Iran is seeking to shut down operations in the country by the Israeli-made mobile navigation app Waze, reports. The Ministry of Communications temporarily blocked the popular app as far back as last March, “rendering it unusable,” and hopes to make the ban permanent.

Waze is an Israeli company purchased by Google in 2013, whose offices—and most of its operations—are in Tel Aviv. Relying on user intelligence, the app enables drivers to take the quickest possible route to their destination.