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"They have nothing!" says Rabbi Berland

  • Berland free.png
"I'm done with Israel – It is the State of Hamas not of the Jews" said Shuvu Bonim leader R. Berland after being released on Friday. Israeli police were requesting the Rabbi’s extradition but were unable to show an Israeli arrest warrant existed. A prominent Israeli lawyer was sent to Amsterdam by the Shuvu Bonim and he recruited two local lawyers. After his release, Rav Berland had a lot to say to the media, including: “(Dutch) Police said all the complaints about me are 'Bubba Maisas', there is nothing there.” Read what else he had to say and all the latest updates.
by ANT KATZ | Sep 15, 2014


Eli Schlesinger, writing on the
BEHADREI HAREDIM website this morning, wrote that “Rabbi Berland was released from custody under restrictive conditions.”

Immediately after Berland’s arrest on Wednesday, a prominent Israeli lawyer, Sharon Nahari, was sent by the Shuvu Bonim to Amsterdam where he recruited local Dutch lawyers, Louis de Leon and Herman Levenstein – the latter was deeply involved in preventing Holland’s parliament from outlawing shechita in 2012.

On Friday afternoon, a day after being arrested by Dutch police at the request of the Israeli police, Rabbi Eliezer Berland was released from arrest in Amsterdam. Talks are ongoing between Israel and the Netherlands to bring an extradition hearing, which Berland’s lawyers say could take as long as a year. His passport was retained but he has freedom of movement in Holland and the entire EU.

HOW WILL WE BE JUDGED?
A blog by Howard Feldman

His lawyers are presently trying to get permission for him to travel to Ukraine, not an EU country, to join tens of thousands of fellow Breslov followers who go on a “Rosh Hashanah Kibbutz: pilgrimage to Uman every year – the burial place of Rebbe Nachman of Breslov.

On Friday Rabbi Berland appeared before the court and denied the allegations against him. In a marathon eight-hour session which ended just before Shabbos, the Court denied the Israeli application as they were unable to produce an arrest warrant from Israel.

Israeli had no arrest warrant

The judge said the Israelis had not met their burden of proof denied the Israeli police’s request that Berland be released on house arrest, rather releasing him on bail and retaining his passport. Talks are ongoing between Israel and the Netherlands to extradite him to Israel – a process that his lawyers say may see him stuck in Europe for as long as a year the lawyers are reported to have told followers.

Jewish Report’s inside man, senior Shuvu Bonim follower *Yossi, said on Sunday that the followers were “feeling very upbeat.” Followers have been flocking to get tickets “to visit Rav Berland in Holland – which they can do openly for the first time in two years,” said Yossi.

He says that Israeli TV Channel 2 and Channel 10, which were the channels who started the rumours about R. Berland by airing interviews with his supposed victims (followers insist they were related to enemies of the Rav) are now broadcasting as if there was no possibility of the allegations being true, says Yossi.

In the meantime, Israeli police have been told, and that if they can come back at a later date and present an arrest warrant to the court another hearing will be set. to make a case to a court and get an arrest warrant issued in Israel which is no easy task.

“The truth of the matter,” Yossi told Jewish Report, “is that there was never was an Israeli arrest warrant.”

 

R. Berland speaks out to media

Asked after the court case why he was running away if he was innocent of the charges police want to question him about, Rav Berland is reported to have pointed out that he did not “run away” from Israel, he had left of his own free will and long before the police even wanted to question him.

"I'm done with Israel. It is the State of Hamas. It is not for the Jews. 500 missiles are fired at residents and they don’t look for anyone, but they look for me," said the Shuvu Bonim leader. "They do not have anything, they have no clue." 

Berland said that his plane had hardly come to a halt at Schiphol Airport on Wednesday when, suddenly, “two police officers arrived and told me I was under arrest."

Followers celebrate at Kotel
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Speaking at an interview with Israel's multimedia ynet and Channel 10 News on Friday, Berland said that the Israeli authorities “have nothing against me. I feel great with the police chases. I hope they will come after me until my last day. (Dutch) Police said all the complaints about me are 'Bubba Maisas', there is nothing there.”

"I'm done with Israel. They have nothing to do. Instead of looking for real criminals, real terrorists, they are looking for me. We will prove that they have nothing and have no clue. We have established 10 communities. Where I go and there are people – they repent and return to Judaism.” 

English info-lines today, watch this space

The matter is top of Israeli news and the Shuvu Bonim Yeshiva was receiving so many calls for updates that they opened a special information phone line which is constantly updated and has interviews with the lawyers, etc,, but only in Hebrew.

SAJR Online users in Israel can call 058 328-7777 and from outside Israel it is +972 58 328-7777. This, says Yossi, is constantly being updated.

“We are planning on accommodating the English speakers by putting up interviews in English. G-d willing, later today we will have an interview with the Rabbi's lawyer,” Yossi told Jewish Report this afternoon.

It was interesting to note, says Yossi, that there must have been inside information (in SA). There is no arrest warrant on Israel. Thank G-d it has come out. People do have personal agendas against Rav Berland.

Follow the story on Jewish Report Online:

2 Comments

  1. 2 James 15 Sep
    Theres a few prominent figures in the SA community that may want to issue a public apology to the Rabbi. 
  2. 1 Samuel Shalom 16 Sep
    What Is Really Going On Between Berland and the Israelis?

    * "a day after being arrested by Dutch police at the request of the Israeli police, Rabbi Eliezer Berland was released from arrest in Amsterdam. Talks are ongoing between Israel and the Netherlands to bring an extradition hearing"

    "The judge said the Israelis had not met their burden of proof denied the Israeli police’s request that Berland be released on house arrest, rather releasing him on bail and retaining his passport. Talks are ongoing between Israel and the Netherlands to extradite him to Israel"

    * "Israeli TV Channel 2 and Channel 10, which were the channels who started the rumours about R. Berland by airing interviews with his supposed victims"

    * "Israeli police have been told, and that if they can come back at a later date and present an arrest warrant to the court another hearing will be set. to make a case to a court and get an arrest warrant issued in Israel which is no easy task."

    * "I'm done with Israel. It is the State of Hamas. It is not for the Jews. 500 missiles are fired at residents and they don’t look for anyone, but they look for me,"

    * "Speaking at an interview with Israel's multimedia ynet and Channel 10 News on Friday, Berland said that the Israeli authorities 'have nothing against me.'"

    * "I'm done with Israel. They have nothing to do. Instead of looking for real criminals, real terrorists, they are looking for me."

    * "the Court denied the Israeli application as they were unable to produce an arrest warrant from Israel."

    * "The matter is top of Israeli news"

    The words "Israel" and "Israeli" appear umpteen time in this report!

    Why?

    Is this about a rabbi on the lam or about the power and reach of Israel? What is going on here? What is the subtext of the outer layers of the reporting and verbiage?

    Is Berland that big a threat and issue for Israel that he must be hunted and hounded so? What are his alleged "crimes" and what are the REAL reasons he is a fugitive from his homeland that has turned against him so toughly for him?

    On the basic core level are the allegations by certain people that Berland took undue sexual advantage of some of his female followers, some underage, some single and of age, and some married. There are also criminal allegations involving fights between members of Berland's family, reportedly between his wife and between his sons, and between others in his group who have turned against him with accusations of financial wrongdoing. Berland is known to have had strong connections with Israeli underground figures who he has tried in varying degrees to make more religious to become baalei teshuva. The reports about all this can be found if one searches online and on Wikipedia and involves further fights and squabbles between various shady powerful characters who have gravitated to Berland over the course of time.

    So on the one hand there are good reasons why the Israeli authorities are pursuing Berland so assiduously, this is not about pocket change or about some innocent stolen kisses (if there are such things?) It's quite obvious that the Israeli powers that be view Berland as some sort of "don" with a wider power base that they feel is worth and important enough to pursue so strongly across the globe until they hope to corner their man and bring him to justice in Israel.

    Naturally Berland denies all these allegations and is doing his utmost to evade and befuddle his Israeli pursuers and tripping them up as he keeps many steps ahead of them, with the help of some of his very powerful and rich disciples.

    But don't forget Berland is 100% Israeli himself. He is not an old-time European-style rabbi. According to various biographies and articles that have been published, Berland was born in Israel and started out in his youth as a Zionist Bnai Akiva type of boy with his roots in Mizrachi (Religious Zionism). Because of his genius in Talmud he soon found himself in the more "black hat" yeshiva world where he was recognised as a Torah prodigy and for his brilliance. Supposedly it was only once he married his wife that it was she who started influencing him to become a Breslover after he initially resisted. The rest is history, over the decades he became one of the most powerful and popular teachers of Torah with the Breslov Chasidik flavor and with his ability to give lengthy never-ending shiurim and talks he was able to win over thousands, perhaps even tens of thousands, of formerly secular Israelis to his cause and make them into "new" Breslovers who rivaled the old-time established Breslov community.

    When you are a small fry no one pays attention to you or your problems or your habits be they good or bad, but when you enter the big boy leagues and you become rich and famous, and Berland attracted big money in the tens of millions from fresh new rich disciples and participated in their plans as any Chasidik Rebbe does, there is the danger of "power tends to corrupt, absolute power corrupts absolutely" that sets in.

    If "justice must not just be done but it must also be SEEN to be done" is true in the secular world, then how much more so is it true in the world of Torah that not only should Torah-observance be done, it must surely be seen to be done, meaning there should never arise suspicions or accusations of wrongdoing because when on that higher level one is being held to a higher standard. And that is where Berland seems to have come undone. It is not enough to attract thousands of followers, but one must also make sure that Torah values and morality reigns supreme in a society that lives by those same Torah laws and values.

    It's tricky and it's a test. We cannot understand the temptations that come to spiritual leaders when they have so much power over the lives of people! But the spiritual leader must at all times be held to a higher standard. In Judaism it's called avoid MARIT AYIN, "appearance of wrongdoing" which can be as serious as a wrongdoing itself.

    Now comes the part interacting with official Israel. 

    Secular Israelis are nervous about their children and members becoming too religious or at all religious. It's a precarious stand-off that cuts across all strata of Israeli society, as one can see with the political and religious situation in Israel now with the Yesh Atid party headed by Yair Lapid, versus ALL the Charedi parties and the Charedi world. Lapid and and Yesh Atid refused to allow Charedim into the current government caolition and launched moves to undercut the rising power of the Charedim in the Israeli body politic and in Israeli society and under the slogan of "shivyon banetel" ("equal burden") to forcibly induct Charedi youth into the Israeli army that in turn has galvanized the Charedim against the government like never before. It's a huge kulturkampf that remains on the table!

    Berland attracts secular Israelis to a Charedi life by convincing them to become Breslov baalei teshuva! For a long time things like that are closely watched in Israel. Every secular Jews knows and feels they are under some sort of challenge or enticement or inducement from various Charedi rabbis and organisations to become chozrei b'teshuva (returness to [Charedi] Judaism) and everyone in Israel knows of and has friends and family that have become Dati or Charedi. It's a hot-button issue in Israeli society and politics and it's talked about in the Israeli media all the time. Charedim also have their own media outlets in Israel trying make people become Charedi all the time. Each side waits for the other's next moves or stumbles in order to gain points in the never-ending game of one upmanship.

    So when a big gun like Berland stumbles, evidently due to his own failings of leadership and moral judgement and not having a handle on his followers by letting so much run amok and get out of hand. After all, all the chaos and confusion should not exist if there was clear and solid leadership. There are hundreds of Charedi and Chasidic groups and rabbis and they do not lose a grip on the wheel nor do they let their ships of state crash so horribly on the rocks in front of the world. Obviously Berland lost his grip big time at some point. Some allege he was never stable and just became totally unhinged and there are reports that even his wife wanted to have him committed including fights over huge assets and worse allegations of drug smuggling and and on it goes, and that is why he ran away from Israel, there are all sorts of damaging reports, that is if he ever had a true handle on his operation to start with given that he is more of  a scholar, mystic and eccentric genius than an organized technocrat and manage who would know how to run his own ship of state or delegate and choose those who could.

    So no wonder it become open hunting season for the Israeli authorities, who like Charedim, themselves have a "take no prisoners" approach to each other. After all when groups like Shuvu Banim want to make a secular Israeli become a baal teshuva they want him or her to go all the way the whole nine yards with all the trimmings, and likewise in parallel fashion when secular Israelis in positions of power sense even the slightest cracks on the other side, they take the gap and move in for the try at the expense of the hapless Charedim.

    So the conclusion is that in a very large way, but NOT exclusively, the entire Berland versus Israel's police and vice versa drama is part of a much larger drama of Charedi growth versus secular Israeli fears and resistance. Each side knows that the stakes are very high and that if the other side loses, it loses big and stands to lose everything, meaning power over Israeli society to set its agendas. That is why the two sides fight each other so vehemently and so vociferously ignoring all borders as if each viewed themselves as "The One" (good guys) fighting "Agent Smith" by fighting all over the globe, across the universe and across all dimensions as in The Matrix movies!

    Stay tuned!

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