Shalom all,

In this post I will try to give the highlights of yesterday's trial, starting with the defense lawyer, Baruch Ben-Yosef's questioning of Jeff:

The trial started at 1 p.m. (an hour late) - with our "orange Russians" from Haifa and others who braved the bad weather to travel there - but without the translator (a substitute translator appeared some time later and sat next to Jeff during his testimony). Jeff's original lawyer when he was first arrested in Haifa, Lior Bar Zohar, made a brief appearance before the trial started, consulting with Baruch.

The trial began with Jeff sitting in the "hot seat" to tell his side. Baruch questioned him about his family life and background and his interest in Judaism starting at ag 15, as well as about the jobs he held in North Carolina. Baruch also questioned Jeff about his pasttimes away from work - collecting guns (he possessed 300 rifles) and hunting down dangerous animals. When questioned why one person owned so many guns, Jeff replied that he collected them as a hobby and used them for target practice, and that it's not uncommon for people to collect guns. When asked whether all of these guns were legally acquired and possessed, Jeff replied in the affrimative.

The relatively easy process of obtaining a license to possess and carry a gun in North Carolina was described by Jeff, who stressed that only if the weapon is concealed on one's body is a permit needed to carry one.

Baruch asked Jeff why he purchased the particular rifle he brought in his lift. Jeff replied that it is the most accurate rifle in existence, shooting a bullet 5200 feet per second, and that being it was very new in America at the time, he thought of bringing the rifle to the IDF as a test weapon so they would purchase more of them. Being that this brand of rifle had only been produced in small numbers about 6 months before he purchased it, and therefore it was experimental and hard to get, Jeff said he knew that the IDF did not have this rifle yet.

When Baruch questioned him as to what his purpose was in buying this particular weapon, Jeff further explained that he bought the weapon because it shoots extremely accurately, up to a mile.

Jeff, upon being questioned what his connection is to the IDF that he felt he had to contribute to it, explained that he was raised in a religious home with a strong sense of duty to support Israel and to help the IDF stop terrorism. In addition, in 2002 he had volunteered for the IDF in the Sar-El program at a base near Tiberias for about 3 months, and also contributed money through his synagogue in North Carolina to the IDF.

When questioned what else he brought for the IDF, Jeff replied that he had brought ammunition and 3 rifle scopes and was surprised that when his room in Tapuach was searched, that only one of the scopes was found (the cheapest one of the three). He mentioned the name of someone he says wanted to buy them and whom he suspects of taking them. He also brought a mask to protect his own face from shrapnel, and a bullet-proof vest to protect himself when he did guard duty in Tapuch (using a dog, not a weapon). Jeff also described the dogs he trains and uses for guard duty - mostly plothounds, the kind that can run down wild animals and are very bold.

Baruch then asked him that if he wanted to bring the weapon to the IDF, why did he hide it? Jeff replied that he didn't want it to fall into the wrong hands, in case the lift was opened en route. - and that he wanted to have all of his contributions to the IDF packed away in one neat package. When asked why he didn't declare the gun and ammo to US Customs before he left for Israel, Jeff replied that they would have been confiscated by Customs.

When questioned whom he asked, once arrived in Israel, re how to connect with the IDF, Jeff mentioned one of the prosecution's witnesses, the representative of the Absorption Ministry at the airport, who testified at the previous hearing that he didn't remember Jeff saying anything re stuff for the IDF. A volunteer for the AACI helped translate for him at the time. Jeff also remembers asking advice from Shaul in Tapuach (who also testified at the last hearing that he didn't remember this), but doesn't remember everyone he spoke to. Once he was arrested, a friend of Jeff's did connect him to someone from the IDF, who told him nothing can be done until the court decides Jeff's fate.

Baruch then brought up the real "clincher": Your interrogators claim that you want to kill Arabs with the rifle. Why would they claim that? Jeff replied that he heard their claim, and has no desire to harm anyone. He remembers that the Shabac hammered away at him with this accusation, but eventually gave up. As to why they would suspect him of this - Jeff replied because he lives in Tapuach.

When Baruch questioned Jeff about the 2 computers confiscated from his room, Jeff said they were not his. In his own computer (from his lift) were found websites of the Jerusalem Post, some of Rabbi Kahane's writings, Chabad websites and many others.

(I have to say at this point that we all felt very proud of Jeff when he told the court that Rabbi Kahane was a great man and teacher, that he didn't talk violence in his writings - but just words of Torah.)

When asked whether he is a member of an organization connected to R. Kahane, Jeff replied that he just trains dogs. He had nothing to say about the Jewish Legion, saying he's not a member, just a yeshiva student.

At this point Judge Bar-Ziv interrupted to ask for information about the Jewish Legion (HaGdud HaIvri). Jeff said all he knew about it is that it ran kennels, but the latter were shut down. His job was simply to train dogs and do guard duty with dogs. When asked, he said he moved to Tapuach simply because it's much cheaper to live there than elsewhere.

So much for Jeff lawyer's questioning. TO BE CONTINUED: Stay tuned for the prosecutor's cross-examination in my next e-mail...

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