By J. Zel Lurie
DELRAY BEACH, Florida– Secretaryof State Hillary Rodham Clinton knows she’s right. The Israeli-Palestinian status quo is unsustainable, she told the large audience, greeted by some cheers, at the recent AIPAC conference in Washington. “New construction in East Jerusalem,” she continued, “undermines America’s unique ability to play a role — an essential role, I might add — in the peace process.” Scattered applause from part of the audience.
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu can’t admit she’s right. He knows that if he agrees completely he will lose his right-wing government. So he spars with Clinton for 43 minutes on the phone from Israel followed a few days later by 75 minutes at the Mayflower Hotel in Washington and a face to face talk with President Obama the next day.
Netanyahu sticks to a false demagogic slogan: “A Jew can build in Jerusalem as in Tel Aviv.” He knows that the major portion of East Jerusalem consists of a score of rural West Bank villages which we annexed to the Holy City in 1967. Looking at East Jerusalem from the sky you see a town of two story houses sprawling over hill and valley. It is surrounded on the East by the walled Old City and to the North and South by hi-rise apartment houses on wide streets. These Jewish neighborhoods were built on Palestinian-owned land. To continue to build on them, as Netanyahu demands, would, in Clinton’s opnion, be a provocation that would harm the proximity talks.
To the West is the large Jewish city of Jerusalem, the true capital of Israel, which Netanyahu talked about at the AIPAC conference.The aura of the capital does not cover East Jerusalem where the Palestinians are NOT citizens of Israel. Netanyahu says that a Jew can build in (East) Jerusalem like in Tel Aviv. The reality is that a Palestinian can build legally in Tel Aviv but he can’t get a permit to enlarge his house for his married son in his native village of Beit Hanina or Umm Tuba or Issawiya which are among the many villages that were annexed to East Jerusalem in 1967.
In the forty-odd years since 1967 no zoning plan was established for the rural villages in East Jerusalem which were suddenly urbanized. Very few building permits were handed out so thousands of two-story homes were built illegally. Right wing Mayor Nir Barkat threatend to demolish all illegally built homes. Clinton called Netanyahu and this threat against thousands of Palestinian homes was scotched. Netanyahu’s reining in the Jerusalem mayor under American pressure proves that Bibi gives in up to a point.
Let’s look at the record. Under pressure, Netanyahu reluctantly accepted the two-state solution. Under constant pressure to stop new Jewishsetttlement construction on the West Bank and Jerusalem he finally agreed on a ten month settlement freeze on the West Bamk excluding Jerusalem. Who knows how far he will go in the proximity talks without losing his government.
I do know that the right wing ministers enjoy the money and privileges of government so they tolerate Bibi’s concessions to Clinton but they won’t let him go all the way. Still, Clinton has definitely ended the George Bush era of a tolerant bystander. “We can’t want peace more than the parties do,” is no longer our policy. We want peace. The lack of peace is harming both Arabs and Jews and is responsible for the killing of American soldiers in Iraq and Afghanistan say American generals. The status quo is unsustainable. Therefore, says Hillary Clinton, we will take an active role in the proximity talks.
Four out of five American Jews support this policy according to a J Street poll. A good portion of the AIPAC crowd also supports it. AIPAC was scheduled to choose as its new president last week a 53 year old wealthy Chicagoan who served on Obama’s Finance Committee. The pro-settlement people who have run AIPAC for years are now quiescent. Israel is divided between the pro-settlemnt government and the majority of the population. A poll published two weeks ago by Yediot Ahronot, Israel’s largest daily, found that 64 percent of the people say that the government does not represent them.
When this column appears in print I will be part of that Israeli majority. I will have celebrated the Seder with both my daughters, my four grandkids, including my seven month pregnant Israeli granddaughter, my 6-year-old great grandson. I’m returning to Delray Beach in mid-April.
Lurie is a freelance writer based in Florida. His articles appear in the Jewish Times of Southern Florida
WASHINGTON, DC (Press Release) – U.S. Congressman Bob Filner recently joined his colleagues on a letter to the House Appropriations Committee calling for text in the Fiscal Year 2010 State, Foreign Operations and Related Programs Appropriations bill that would block aid to Saudi Arabia.
“I don’t understand why we are giving aid to Saudi Arabia when they are one of the richest nations in the world,” said Filner. “This is a country that continues to train terrorists, fund terrorism and export hate. We need to stop sending aid to Saudi Arabia and use that money to invest in creating jobs here at home!”
Preceding provided by Congressman Bob Filner
SAN DIEGO–A language teacher, wit and troubador, the late Hal Wingard composed some 325 songs, most of them on flights between San Diego and other parts of California, where he consulted on language programs for school. To hear Hal singing his songs, please follow this link, then pick the song by number. We think today’s selection fits in well with upcoming April Fool’s Day jokes and pranks.
#309 Security Guard
I work as guard, a private guard,
To keep the public peace,
Without romance of Scotland Yard
Or regular police.
When I’m on hand folks feel secure,
Relieved that I am there.
They say my presence helps assure
That criminals take care.
And yet, I have a deep-felt fear–
Which good guards never should–
That my endowments don’t come near
What makes a good guard good.
I know when all is said and done
I have to show I’m tough,
But since I never wear a gun,
Will “tough” be good enough?
I’m so unsure
I’m an insecure security guard.
My uniform is just for show.
My badge is tin, not steel.
A common crook will surely know
How insecure I feel.
I’m plagued by doubt; I’m insecure.
It must be plain to see.
The only trait I know for sure
I’m so unsure
I’m an insecure security guard.
I work as guard, a private guard,
To keep the public peace,
Without romance of Scotland Yard
Or regular police.
When I’m on hand folks feel secure,
Relieved that I am there.
They say my presence helps assure
That criminals take care.
But I’m insecure.
I’m so unsure
I’m an insecure security guard.
(c) Estate of Hal Wingard; dedicated to Eli Meltzer, who at Art for Ohr Shalom, joked about the insecure security guard, January 13, 2003 (309)
Words completed March 15, 2000, on flights from San Diego to Sacramento via Los Angeles
I was camping on the free. . .way,
Roasting chestnuts on my free. . .day,
When an ostrich came a flying,
Landed near me loudly crying,
With no clue where he might be.
So I took out my Thesaur. . .us
To acquire directions for. . .us.
But the content had no humor,
And the ostrich spread the rumor
That his feet were feeling sore.
He declined my invita. . .tion
For a freeway fun vaca. . .tion.
Though the offer was exciting,
And the chestnuts quite inviting
He would soon be on his way.
Freeway nests are no way sui. . .ted
For an ostrich so uproo. . .ted.
And each human freeway lover
Surely will in time discover
That the freeway’s not a zoo
(Well, not all the time)
(c) Estate of Hal Wingard, January 17, 2006. Words written January 16, 2006, at home, to fit a melody running through my head. In crafting the words, this melody got lost. So the text is set to a different melody.
#296 They’re Lovers
Don’t ask me how I know.
It’s little signs that show.
Perhaps it’s how they share their food,
While dining side by side,
The way she savors offerings,
When he says, “Open wide!”
Perhaps it’s how she reaches out
As if to touch his curls,
Or how he has a dreamy look
When staring at her pearls.
Don’t ask me how I know.
It’s little signs that show.
Perhaps it’s how he strokes her wrist
With gentle finger tips,
Or how she beams when he tells jokes,
A smile upon her lips.
Perhaps it’s just their giddiness,
While drinking champagne fizz.
Perhaps it’s how his foot finds hers,
Or her knee brushes his.
Don’t ask me how I know.
It’s little signs that show.
Perhaps it’s how she looks at him
With wide admiring eye,
Or how he often takes her hand
And holds it on his thigh.
I’ll never know just how I know,
But nonetheless I trust
That little signs can show it’s love. . .
Unless, of course, it’s lust.
(c) Estate of Hal Wingard, December 12, 1991. Words begun December 11, 1991, on a flight from San Diego to San Francisco and completed on the return flight the next day.
#296 Hear the Iconoclast
Beliefs that we hold to be true
Are often perverse bugaboo.
We’re locked in detention
Of social convention
That regulates all that we do,
. . . . all that we do.
So, hear the iconoclast,
Ideas that he has amassed!
With simple suggestion
He’ll help us to question
Beliefs we have held in the past,
. . . . held in the past.
Applying both reason and fact,
With logic that others have lacked,
We’ll soon be debasing
And quickly replacing
Beliefs that are rightly attacked,
. . . . rightly attacked.
So, heed the iconoclast who
Can help us debunk bugaboo.
Beliefs we’re attacking
We’ll throw out as lacking
And dream up beliefs that are new,
. . . . beliefs that are new.
No doubt that iconoclast doubt
Can change what believing’s about.
By always updating
We’ll end up creating
Beliefs we need never throw out,
. . . . never throw out,
Never, never, never. . . .throw out.
(c) Estate of Hal Wingard, February 10, 2002. Words begun February 4, 2002, on flight from San Diego to LAX on way to San Jose and expanded in Salinas while working at Gavilan View Middle School for 3 days. Final verse added April 13, 2002, at home.
By Gary Rotto
SAN DIEGO–I picked up my brisket for my Seder and little didn’t realize that I would be in good company. While the White House chef was not in the Kosher section at Ralphs, apparently the First Cook had a brisket ordered for the first night of Passover. According to the White House, brisket will be the main course for the now annual Seder.
This is the third year in a row that the Obamas have hosted or participated in a seder. As widely reported, the tradition began in 2008 in the basement of a Pennsylvania hotel, during the time of the Democratic Primary election. As the story goes, after the “Next Year in Jerusalem” phrase was said, Senator Obama added, “Next Year in the White House!” And while not a true promise, now President Obama kept this wish by hosting the first White House Seder on record.
The tradition continues this year with what the New York Times calls, “one of the newest, most intimate and least likely of White House traditions”. According to Shin Inouye with the White House Press Office, the President and the First Lady hosted the event for key staffers. And the official menu included:
Chicken Soup with Matzo Balls
Braised Beef Brisket
Sweet Potato-Carrot Tzimmes
Flourless Chocolate Cake
Golden Apricot Cake
Brown Sugar Macaroons
It is impressive that heads of state, machers of the Jewish community or even Jewish congressional representatives were not on the guest list. Rather, an intimate collection of the First Family and close staff – Jews and Gentiles, Anglos and African-Americans participated. Other than the fact that the Maxwell House Haggadah was the guide of choice and that the Seder took place in the Old Family Dining Room, the White House did not release very much information. And that is because this was a private and very intimate function. As much as a President’s life is very public, this private event has to have a public component – that being the confirmation of the event by the White House and the official photo. Do the guests bring a special tradition from their own past Seders? What about a unique prayer for freedom like those added during the age of the Soviet Refusnik movement? We do not know.
There have been a few conservative critics who question Obama’s motives because the seder is not kosher. But as I checked around town, I found many seders, such as the Urban Seder at the Urban Solace Restaurant that are kosher “style” rather than kosher. Some have said that this insensitive, not serving a kosher meal. But I don’t know that any of the guests kept kosher or wanted to do so. Rather, they were delighted to continue their legitimate practice with close colleagues as a way to celebrate freedom as Jews and as Americans.
Inasmuch as I do keep kosher, I guess I can wait until I’m invited to the seder at some future date to worry about the level of kashrut in the White House. Oh, Mr. President, can you save one of those brown sugar macaroons for me?
Rotto is a freelance writer and political activist in San Diego.
By Cynthia Citron
CULVER CITY, California - The Wake is a play with a lot of p’s in it: politics, philosophy, polemics, passion, and pathos. And enough plot for two plays. In fact, “The Wake” is two plays. One is the love story: boy loves girl, girl thinks she loves boy, girl loves girl, boy waits it out, girl chooses, everybody loses.
The other story is the political one that started in 2000 with the arrival of George W. Bush. Headlines and images adroitly projected on a proscenium arch chronicle the march to war, the belligerent rhetoric, and the disintegration of democracy (both American and Iraqi), mirrored by the anti-war marches, political tirades, and emotional disintegration of our heroine, Ellen (an earnestly passionate Heidi Schreck).
Ellen is aware that she “has it all”: a loving live-in boyfriend (a beautifully low-key Carson Elrod), his sister and her wife (Andrea Frankle and Danielle Skraastad) just two floors away, and a job she enjoys. But still she yearns for something more…
As she broods in periodic monologues about the “blind spot” in our lives that none of us ever foresees, she also engages in fervent discussions with her cynical, disillusioned friend Judy (Deirdre O’Connell), newly returned from helping out at a refugee camp in Guinea. Judy has given up on Ellen’s world: she doesn’t vote, doesn’t follow current events, doesn’t participate. In fact, she spends most of her time out on Ellen’s fire escape, smoking and avoiding the chaotic discussions going on inside the apartment.
Contrary to what you might assume, The Wake has nothing to do with Irish funerals or narrative by James Joyce. It refers to the path we make and the upheaval and debris we leave behind us as we maneuver our way through life. It’s a perfect title for this provocative, overly long-winded journey.
Lisa Kron, who wrote this play, is a founding member of the Obie Award-winning theater company The Five Lesbian Brothers and is the author of the much-acclaimed and Tony-nominated play “Well”. She currently teaches playwriting at the Yale School of Drama.
Leigh Silverman, who directed Kron’s play Well on Broadway, also directs The Wake during its world premiere run here in Los Angeles and for its upcoming run at New York’s Public Theater. Silverman manages to keep the audience’s attention through the very long introspective speeches—but just barely. At 2 ½ hours, the play is way too long and could really use a judicious wielding of scissors. Especially in the first act, which takes so long to get into gear that you almost lose hope—and interest.
The production qualities are first-rate, however. David Korins has designed a fully functional East Village apartment, Alexander V. Nichols has organized the lighting and projection design superbly, and Cricket S. Myers has done her usual expert job on sound.
This play is not for those who are uncomfortable contemplating their own navel, but for those who are, and who have the patience to stick with it, The Wake provides much food for thought. And a lot of debris.
The Wake will continue at the Kirk Douglas Theatre, 9820 Washington Blvd. in Culver City Tuesdays through Fridays at 8 p.m., Saturdays at 2 p.m. and 8 p.m., and Sundays at 1 p.m. and 6:30 p.m. through April 18th. Call (213) 628-2772 for tickets.
Drama critic Citron is Los Angeles bureau chief for San Diego Jewish World.
SAN DIEGO— It has taken awhile to read the books presented to me by family members for Chanukah, but as it turned out, my grandson Shor’s selection of Feingold: A New Democratic Party couldn’t have been more timely. As I finished reading the biography written by Sanford D. Horwitt, I found the news wires currently filled with speculation that former Wisconsin Gov. Tommy Thompson is likely to seek the GOP nomination to oppose U.S. Senator Russ Feingold’s bid for a fourth term.
Thomson, who also served as Health and Human Services Secretary under President George W. Bush, would be likely to make the health care bill recently passed by congressional Democrats and signed into law by President Barack Obama a major campaign issue, potentially providing a Wisconsin-wide referendum on that controversial measure.
Feingold, who is one of more than a minyan of Jewish senators, is a Democrat with a reputation for being a political maverick. Along with Senator John McCain (Republican-Arizona), he successfully pushed for a campaign finance reform bill that brought both men national recognition and fueled McCain’s successful bid for the 2008 Republican presidential nomination.
Although he’s a Democrat, Feingold grew up idolizing “Fighting Bob” LaFollette, who shaped the Progressive Republican movement in the early 20th century. In high school, Feingold was a star debater. At the University of Wisconsin, he missed a straight A average because of one ‘B+,’ for which he apologized to his professor, but even so, his grades were sufficient for admission to Phi Beta Kappa. He was selected as a Rhodes Scholar, spending two years in Great Britain, and later earned a law degree from Harvard Law School. He practiced a short while as an attorney in Wisconsin before feeling the pull of elective politics, winning an upset victory in 1982 against incumbent Cy Bidwell in a bid for a state Senate seat.
In his decade in the Legislature, Feingold developed a reputation as an advocate for senior citizens and for small dairy farmers. His campaign to label milk of genetically altered cows stirred the opposition of Monsanto Company and other bioengineering companies but notwithstanding large amounts of lobbying money they put into defeating the bill, Feingold prevailed.
Feingold was considered a long shot in the 1992 Democratic primary race for the U.S. Senate, in which two wealthy opponents, businessman Joe Checota and Congressman Jim Moody, had the financial resources and the name recognition. But Checota’s and Moody’s campaigns degenerated into a series of negative commercials slamming each other, while Feingold stayed out of the fray. Instead Feingold promoted his own candidacy with humorous, folksy ‘home movies’ in which he burnished his populist credentials by showing his modest home and the exteriors of the more elaborate homes of his ‘big-money’ opponents.
Unhappy with Checota’s and Moody’s feuding, Wisconsin Democrats chose Feingold to oppose U.S. Sen. Robert Kasten in an all-Jewish runoff. Staying true to his upbeat campaign style, Feingold survived a barrage of negative commercials aimed against him by Kasten and his allies and, at 39, entered the U.S. Senate as its youngest member.
Almost immediately, Feingold directed his staff not to allow anyone to purchase their meals for them, nor to accept any other gifts, setting a standard for propriety in the nation’s Capitol.
Besides by the McCain-Feingold Bill on campaign financing, Feingold’s reputation as a maverick was further enhanced in 1999 when Senator Robert Byrd of West Virginia moved to dismiss the impeachment charges against President Bill Clinton. Feingold was the only Democrat to vote to keep the trial going, joining 55 Republicans. He said that he believed the trial needed to continue to a conclusion. Yet, when the final vote came—on conviction or acquittal—Feingold voted for acquittal with his fellow Democrats.
On two other important votes, Feingold also developed a reputation as an independent thinker. One was his vote against the Patriot Act, which he considered to be a constitutional infringement on the rights of Americans under the guise of protecting the country against terrorism. The other was a vote against authorization of the War in Iraq.
Whether a liberal independent like Feingold will be able to survive a challenge in the middle of President Obama’s first term obviously was beyond the scope of this biography, which was published at the end of 2007. But as background for any Wisconsin voters who do not already know Feingold—or for those of us in other parts of the country—this book is well worth reading.
Harrison is editor of San Diego Jewish World
By Rabbi Dow Marmur
JERUSALEM–One of the arguments against electing Shimon Peres as President of the State of Israel was that he wouldn’t be above the fray, as is expected of a titular Head of State, but deep in it. However, after the embarrassment of his predecessor having to leave office before his time was up in ignominy because of the charges of rape and similar offences against him, a majority of the members of the Knesset, the body that elects a President, rightly decided that the country needed someone greatly respected in the international community who could be a worthy spokesman and dignified exponent of the Jewish state.
There is no individual who fits that description better than Shimon Peres. He has indeed been the best face Israel can have. But he has continued to play a part – or, as some would say, meddle – in foreign policy. This has been particularly necessary in the light of Yvet Lieberman being Foreign Minister.
But now Peres is reported to have things to say to and about the Prime Minister, too. In the light of the latter’s current bout of ominous and dangerous intransigence over Jerusalem (to paraphrase the Book of Genesis, “the voice is the voice of Bibi but the hands are the hands of Yvet”), the President has intervened.
He’s said to have made the wholesome distinction between the East Jerusalem of largely uninhabited publicly owned land, where new Jewish neighborhoods have been established since 1967 and where now more than 40% of Jewish Jerusalemites live, and Arab villages that now form part of the city and where the American millionaire Irving Moscowitz has bought land so that Jewish extremists can settle there. It’s to this unconscionable intrusion by fanatics that Peres seems to object. He knows, of course, that every Israeli government, irrespective of political color, has authorized building in the empty spaces but refrained from doing so in Arab neighborhoods.
The gang of which Netanyahu seems to have become the spokesman wants to build in Arab neighborhoods in order to preclude the possibility of that part of Jerusalem becoming the capital of the Palestinian state in a negotiated settlement. Peres, like most Israelis I know, realize that such a concession will be necessary if peace is to come. And like perhaps most Israelis, he seems to believe that it’s worth the sacrifice.
After all the politicians’ rhetoric it’s difficult for any of them to give up the idea of the “undivided and eternal capital of Israel,” but that’s one of the things they’ll have to do if they’re to return to the good books of the American administration. Peres may want to push them in that direction, even though formally his office is neither equipped nor entitled to do so. He may be breaking with protocol to help heal the country.
Though even I, critical of the right-wing government as I am, normally find the hard-hitting and sometimes outrageous columns by Gideon Levy of Ha’aretz difficult to take, he may have a point when he describes President Obama as Israel’s great friend, not the foe that he’s generally depicted in the media and in the street. For it’s only the kind of tough love that Obama is administering that can go beyond the rhetoric and move the politicians to act, even if they’ll have to limp to the finishing line.
Therefore, though we have good reason to raise our eyebrows at the President of Israel exceeding his mandate, we have every reason to be grateful to him, perhaps also to the President of the United States for creating the situation.
Rabbi Marmur is spiritual leader emeritus of Holy Blossom Temple in Toronto. He divides his time between Canada and Israel
Harmony Day – A Celebration
SYDNEY, 26 March – A Holocaust survivor’s memoir about life in Theresienstadt and Auschwitz, and
then in Australia, Lolli’s Apple, was launched as part of Harmony Day celebrations at the Art Gallery of NSW on Sunday.
Tomas Fleischmann said the book took him eight months to write after his family pestered him to put pen to paper.
“Because I was the first in my family to come to Australia in 1948, when I was only 10 years old,
my family kept telling me to write my story, so when I retired I thought I would do it just to shut them up,” he said laughing.
“I’m 71-years-old and I have 12 grandchildren so I guess if they all have children then one day
someone will want to read the story of how the family came to be in Australia.”
Fleischmann was born in Czechoslovakia and lived in a 50-room castle before he was taken to
Auschwitz with his father during the Holocaust.
At the Nazi death camp his father died, but he was moved to Theresienstadt.
National Council of Imams representative Sheikh Mohamadu Saleem, NSW Jewish Board of Deputies CEO Vic Alhadeff and executive director commission for ecumenical and interfaith relations at the Archdiocese of Sydney Sister Giovanni Farquer spoke at the book launch.
Also to coincide with Harmony Day, B’nai B’rith announced the winner of its fifth Harmony Day Poster Competition on Tuesday.
The competition attracted more than 3000 entries from primary and high school students across NSW
and the theme this year was “Harmony we can make it happen”.
“The calibre of entries received this year was exceptionally high,” organiser and B’nai B’rith
stalwart Ernie Friedlander said. “We are delighted with the response and the obvious
commitment by Australian youth to embrace and promote harmony in their communities.”
An exhibition of the winning posters will be on display at the NSW State Parliament until 29
March 2010, followed by an exhibition at the Bowen Library in April.
Holocaust Academic – Where to now?
MELBOURNE, 22 March - While the act of survival is often examined in relation to the Holocaust,
the question of life immediately after liberation is a less discussed topic. But this was the
subject of the first panel session at Monash University’s Holocaust aftermath conference this
week. Chaired by author and son of survivors Arnold Zable, the keynote address was delivered
by Yad Vashem’s Dr Zeev Mankowitz on the topic: “Vohin – Whither Shall We Go?”
Dr Mankowitz looked at patterns of survivor migration and the pull of Zionism, with Israel regarded as “the answer to this notion of homelessness”. He also addressed the fact that many Western Europeans
returned to their homes after the Holocaust, truly believing they had the “chance to
reconstruct their lives and make a future in their former homes.” It was a very different
feeling to that experienced by their Eastern European counterparts. “How can I go back to the
land where every stone tells me of the blood of my brother and sister. How can you erect a
chuppah on our graves?” The author and academic added that whatever justifications survivors used
to settle in certain places, one thing was clear: “Survivors of the Holocaust, wherever they went
in the world, were always a constructive presence and never a burden, despite what they carried
Three speakers covering different aspects of the Holocaust followed Dr Mankowitz.Author and child survivor Diane Armstrong spoke about immigration and her personal journey with her parents to Australia. Armstrong said that a redeeming feature of many survivors was the fact that they embraced their new lives and countries, becoming a part of the community and were never
“held back by the desire to return home.”
“Instead of yearning for a past that had vanished, they turned to the future and their
future was here,” she explained.
Dr Paul Bartrop, an honorary fellow at Deakin University and head of history at Bialik College, spoke of
Australia’s immigration policies, while survivor Tuvia Lipson concluded the session with a
personal account of his journey from the Nazi camps to the Israeli army, fighting in the 1948
war, and eventually on to Australia. Mr Lipson joked that his reason for not going back to
Poland was simple. “When I went back after the war, I came across some men who yelled at me in
Polish, ‘You bloody Jew, you go to Palestine,’ so I listened to him and I went!”
Surfing champion apologises to Jewish community
Sydney 24 March – Two-time world champion surfer Mick Fanning has apologised to the Jewish
community for calling someone a ‘f***ing Jew’ after drinking too much at a private function. Fanning called NSW Jewish Board of Deputies (JBD) chief executive Vic Alhadeff this week to personally apologise to the community after the comments were published in off-beat surfing magazine, Stab. The eight-page article about Fanning featured the headline “Tales of a F***ing Jew” printed inside a Magen
David. Fanning, an ambassador for World Vision, was quoted in Stab after he met one of their
journalists at a Rip Curl victory party after his second world surfing championship victory. “He
called me and apologised for what he readily acknowledged was inappropriate language,”
Fanning’s mother Elizabeth Osborne said this week her son has been extremely distressed about the situation. “After he won the world title Rip Cup had a party at a house onthe beach and that started about 3pm,” said Osborne, who also manages her son. “Six hours later they had obviously been celebrating when the journalist was introduced to Mick, but Mick had always said he didn’t like how Stab magazine wrote off surfing.” She said it was during the conversation with that journalist that the
offending words were uttered. “He called him a f***ing Jew and he knows it was inappropriate,
but he was quite intoxicated and he is really upset and devastated that it happened.” She said
her son only realised he was speaking to a reporter the next day when he saw photos of the
party showing the man holding a recording device. Alhadeff said Fanning knew his words,
spoken during what he thought was a private conversation, were wrong and “he has apologised
without reservation”. “But the magazine deliberately exploited and inflamed the situation
by repeating Mr Fanning’s slur as a heading on eight pages,” the JBD CEO said. “The message
from this unfortunate saga is that such offensive language is never acceptable, and this has to be
made loud and clear.”
In a statement issued last week, Fanning accepted responsibility for his words. “I consider the article to be offensive and arguably designed to cause hurt and distress,” Fanning said, adding he had considered legal action against the magazine. He said that before this exchange, he had not spoken with Stab reporters because he considered the magazine’s articles to be “racist and anti-Semitic.”
“I strongly object to views, statements and comments of that nature,” he said. “I acknowledge that my
decision to use words that were inappropriate albeit in an attempt to be ironic, knowing they
were of the type favoured by the magazine was misjudged and wrong. “I don’t have or condone,
any form of racist or, more particularly, anti-Semitic view,” the surfer said. Fanning’s
quotes are not the first time the Jewish community has complained about Stab magazine. Last month, it published part of Sacha Baron Cohen’s satirical song ‘Throw Jews Down The Well” on its website.
Jewish Community submission on Race Hate Laws
MELBOURNE, 26 March - There is a need to revisit laws we already have, the Jewish community
believes. In a submission to the Victorian Government’s Hate Crimes Review, the Jewish
community has called for improved investigation and prosecution of hate crimes.
The community ants the police to set up a specific Hate Crimes Unit to respond to hate crimes and to train all plice so they understand when racial vilification has occurred. The submission, prepared by the Jewish Community Council of Victoria and the B’nai B’rith Anti-Defamation Commission, said the Jewish community recorded 101 cases of identity-motivated attack last year, most commonly in the formal of verbal abuse but also including missiles aimed at people walking to synagogues, graffiti, racial vilification and less commonly physical violence.
JCCV president John Searle said in some cases it was clear racial vilification had occurred but police were not prepared to act. “When we raise the possibility of action under the Racial and Religious Tolerance Act what we hear from police is, ‘Let’s not go there’. Often it seems the ordinary copper on the beat does not even realise a crime has occurred.”
The Jewish Community submission also called for a third-party reporting system, so that victims could go to an organisation other than police to deal with racial abuse; the introduction of specific policing initiatives in vulnerable areas, improved police education and better data management.
Searle said minority communities who had been pleased when the Racial and Religious Tolerance Act was passed in 2001 were deeply disappointed that there had not been a single prosecution under the Act. But he said the Jewish community was pleased the Victorian Government had amended sentencing laws last year to ensure judges increased penalties when an attack was motivated by hate.
The submission recommends some additional legal changes, bringing racial vilification under the Crimes Act and introducing a civil remedy, so that individuals who suffer physical or psychological harm have some recourse. But Searle emphasised the key issues were not legal. “New legislation is not the answer. Appropriate legislation is already available; it is the resolve to use it and possibly the awareness of its existence that is the problem.”
Gersh Lazarow named new rabbi at Bentleigh Progressive Synagogue
MELBOURNE, 24 March – Following an “exhaustiveyear-long process,” Bentleigh Progressive
Synagogue (BPS) in suburban Melbourne has announced the appointment of Rabbi Gersh Lazarow
as its new rabbi. Currently a teacher at The King David School, he will take on the BPS role
in a part-time capacity, replacing Rabbi Aviva Kipen who resigned from the post in August 2008
after eight years.
“Having a person like Rabbi Lazarow leading us will make a real difference to our community,” BPS president Frank Moore said.
“He is a very vibrant person.” Moore said Rabbi Lazarow would continue the congregation’s strong
focus on pastoral care, and while his specific responsibilities had not yet been confirmed,
communal guidance would one of his central roles. “Rabbi Lazarow’s appointment means moving
on to our next step for our growth,” the president said. “We have grand plans for our little sanctuary. It is a vibrant and warm community, with a strong sense of family and a warm inclusive environment. Rabbi Lazarow understands that and is looking forward to being a part.”
King David principal Michele Bernshaw referred to the appointment as a “strategic
partnership” between the school and BPS. “The school has strong ties with Temple Beth Israel,
the Leo Baeck Centre and Kedem and seeks to enhance our relationship with BPS,” she said in a
statement. “The King David School, like each of the members of the Victorian Union for
Progressive Judaism [VUPJ], is keenly aware of the growing needs of young Jewish families in the
greater Bentleigh area and we look forward to sharing more news in the future about initiatives
and programs we will be launching together.”
Rabbi Lazarow took on the King David post in May last year after eight years studying
and working in the United States, where he was ordained as a rabbi. He completed two masters
degrees, one in Hebrew letters and the other in Jewish education, at the Hebrew Union College
Jewish Institute of Religion in Los Angeles the same school at which he received his
s’micha. BPS has 158 family memberships and attracts 300 to 400 people on Jewish holidays.
The congregation has been led by VUPJ rabbis and lay leaders from the shul since Rabbi Kipen’s departure.
Sydney Kings back in major league
SYDNEY -The Sydney Kings have been officially readmitted into the National Basketball League
for the 2010-11 season after two years on the sidelines. The announcement on Wednesday (March
24) comes seven months after the death of former high-profile Kings owner Mike Wrublewski. Former
Kings player – and Australia’s most successful Jewish basketball player – Brad Rosen is part of
the consortium that hopes to guide the Kings to success.
“It’s been a long process we are just so happy that this has all worked out,” Rosen said. “We have had many meetings trying to get this over the line with a lot of people and it’s amazing to be able to say the Kings are back! “I grew up as a kid and all I wanted to do was play for the Sydney Kings and the club has had a lot of links to the Jewish community. “I want to be able to go to games and tell my kids, ‘that’s the team I played for’.” Rosen said it was sad that Wrublewski was not alive to see the return of the
Kings, which he was integral in starting in late 1980s. “I had a very special relationships with
him because he was one of my best mates’ father and he was also my boss. He will always be in our
thoughts. He is the true King of the Kings and there is no doubt that he will never be
Wrublewski’s son Adam attended the press conference on Wednesday when the announcement of the Kings return was made. Former executive chairman of Myer and senior executive of Woolworths Bill Wavish, former West Razor Backs chairman Bill Hudson and Sydney businessman Max Schroder are three of the key financial backers of the club. Former coach Bob Turner will be the CEO.
Honoring Righteous gentiles
MELBOURNE, 26 March – One of the Jewish Community Council of Victoria’s most sombre duties is its
annual event at Monash University remembering the Holocaust and its victims, thus searing its
terrible yet sacred memory into the consciousness of the Jewish and larger communities. This
year’s commemoration will be particularly special in that it will feature a representative of the
Australian Government presenting a Righteous Amongst the Nations Award to Leonarda Paszkudska
and her son August (both deceased). The Reward will be received on their behalf by August’s son
George and daughter Leonarda, both of whom now live in Bunbury, Western Australia.
In brief, the reasons for the Award are as follows: When August had realised that his schoolmate, a young Jewish woman named Renata Stam, was to be deported to the camps he convinced Nazi officials
that she was required for housekeeping duties. Mrs Paszkudska and August then hid Renata in their home in Lebov, Poland from 1942 to 1944.
Renata lived in the Paszkudska’s home, registered as their housekeeper under a
different name. Leonarda treated her as a family member without receiving anything in exchange.
August used to inform Renata’s father, who had stayed in the ghetto, about her situation until
Stam was sent to the concentration camps. This story had a fairy-tale ending when August and Renata married following the liberation of Poland in late 1944. In 2004 the Righteous Amongst the Nations committee decided to posthumously award Leonarda and August. Following August’s death, Renata had migrated to Western Australia in 1989 and died here in 2006.
As always, the JCCV’s Yom Hashoa commemoration will be a very meaningful and
Australia not expelling Israeli diplomats yet
CANBERRA, 26 March - The Rudd Government will not consider following Britain in expelling any
Israeli diplomats until the Australian Federal Police (AFP) concludes its report into the
alleged forgery of Australian passports. Speaking to ABC radio on Wednesday afternoon, Foreign Minister Stephen Smith said there were no immediate plans to evict Israeli embassy staff, or take any other action.
“It is very important to take this step-by-step,” Smith said. The minister suggested the AFP report
would not be completed for at least a fortnight considering the involvement of forged Australian
passports in the Dubai assassination of Hamas terrorist Mahmoud al-Mabhouh was discovered two
weeks after the revelation British documentation had been used in the same incident.
“We have an investigation underfoot and we’ll wait for the results of that investigation.” A spokesperson from the Israeli Embassy in Canberra said they too were awaiting the results of the AFP
investigation before commenting any further. Early Wednesday morning, Australian time, British Foreign Secretary David Miliband announced that a member of the Israeli Embassy in Britain reported to be a London-based Mossad representative had been expelled. In addition, Miliband issued Israeli Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman with a letter “seeking a formal assurance from him that in the future the Stateof Israel would never be party to the misuse of British passports in such a way”. Britain also updated its travel advice for visitors to Israel to “make clear the potential risk, and to set out
the steps they can take to minimise that risk”, Miliband said.
In a speech to the British House of Commons, the Foreign Secretary said his country’s investigation into the passport fraud pointed to Israel’s culpability. “[The Serious Organised Crime Agency] were drawn to the conclusion that the passports used were copied from genuine British passports when handed over for inspection to individuals linked to Israel, either in Israel or in other countries. They
found no link to any other country,” Miliband said. “Given that this was a very sophisticated
operation in which high quality forgeries were made, the Government judges it is highly likely
that the forgeries were made by a state intelligence service.”
The passports of four Australians living in Israel were revealed by Dubai police to have links to al-Mabhouh January assassination. Passports from other countries, including the UK, Ireland, France and Germany,were also implicated. Foreign Minister Smith reiterated that the passport holders were not involved in any way except as “innocent victims”
Wishing all readers and staff of San Diego Jewish World a happy, healthy josher and peaceful Pesach
Fabian is Australia bureau chief for San Diego Jewish World
JERUSALEM–It’s too early to panic, I hope.
President Obama returned to his sweeping demand that Israel stop construction in post-1967 neighborhoods of Jerusalem, extend the construction freeze in settlements outside of Jerusalem beyond the ten months agreed, and take other steps to bring the Palestinians to negotiations.
Comments at a high tone have come from all over the political spectrum, with the Prime Minister aligning himself with his government, but away from its most extreme voices. He is affirming the ’policy of building throughout Jerusalem, but distancing himself from colleagues who are attacking the motives of President Obama and the implications of what he is demanding from Israel.
President Peres has urged the prime minister to stop building for Jews in Arab neighborhoods of East Jerusalem.
The op-ed page of Ha’aretz calls for a shake up in the government to move it closer to the center, claims that Netanyahu is endangering Israel’s security, and that Israel should thank President Obama for acting like a friend.
Palestinian officials and the Arab League are thanking President Obama, asking him to continue the pressure on Israel as a way of gaining support throughout the Middle East, and inciting Muslims to protect al-Aqsa from a Jewish invasion..
On the side of normalcy, Israel will be buying several new military transport planes from an American supplier, the United States has voted against condemnations of Israel by the United Nations Human Rights Commission, and General Petraeus denies saying that Israeli actions are threatening the lives of American troops in Muslim countries of Asia.
Indications are that the Israeli government will not be making an official response to the White House until after the Passover holiday. Tempers may cool, and individuals working on language may find a way to satisfy both governments. Other crises may distract one or both parties. There can be an undefined, mutual agreement to pretend that all is well. Or there will be more problems with the government that describes itself as our unflagging ally.
Jewish families and others will celebrate a Passover Seder, including a group in the White House with the President at the head of the table. There is no telling how many interpretations of the ceremony will be heard: freedom from slavery; freedom from other or all oppressions; national self-determination; an experience that is uniquely Jewish or broadly human, and perhaps anti-Zionist.
(שפך חמתך אל הגוים)
came with elevated voices and banging on the table?
However you do it, enjoy the food, wine, feelings, questions, and arguments.
Sharkansky is professor emeritus of political science at Hebrew University