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What’s happening now in the Middle East?

February 6, 2010 Leave a comment

By Ira Sharkansky

JERUSALEM–What’s happening in the Middle East?

Nothing.

It doesn’t look that way, with the White House trying one proposal after the other, and virtually every national leader of consequence suggesting how to produce the two state solution.

A bit below the surface, one can find good reasons why none of those directly concerned want anything serious to occur.

Israel does not want to move hundreds of thousands, or tens of thousands of Jews (the numbers depend on which settlements) who have lived where they are for up to 40 years, when no previous movements have brought parallel concessions or a halt in the violence. Israel is also wary of creating a Palestinian state that would be vulnerable to take over by Hamas or groups even more extreme, that would have access to simple rockets fashioned in their workshops and more powerful stuff supplied by Iran, Syria, Sudan, North Korea, or whatever government comes to the fore against western democracies.

For similar reasons, neither Jordan nor Egypt want a Palestinian state with access to serious armaments that could provoke radical ideas among their own Palestinians (a majority in Jordan) or Islamic extremists (problematic in both Jordan and Egypt). Likewise, Lebanese Christians and Sunni Muslims are nervous about what their Shiite neighbors might provoke, and concerned about the Palestinian residents of Lebanon (non-citizens since 1948) demanding rights or instigating action against Israel.

Syria speaks with an angry voice against Israel, but has a record of vicious actions against its own Muslim extremists that rivals what any government in the region has done.

None of the non-Shiite elites in the region have expressed warm endorsement of what might come from a refurbished Persian Empire.

What all the leaders of these countries want, more than anything else, is quiet at home.

One might also put the ostensible Palestinian leaders of the West Bank in the same camp. They are hanging on to office and perks with the help of Israeli, Jordanian, and American security personnel, and know the popular resentment that is seething under their feet. Any concessions necessary to entice Israel to an agreement could provoke enough resentment to topple them.

Hamas of Gaza also wants to keep hold of what they have. One notes their claim that they always aimed their rockets at military targets and apologize for Israel’s civilian casualties. Nonsense, to be sure, but it may gain them a point in international forums stacked to support whatever they say.

The major outlier in this description of nothing-supporters is the Obama White House. It departed from the modest efforts of its predecessors to bring about change, and their more  typical acceptance of the status quo between Israel and Palestinians. The loud efforts of Obama and crew might actually have nudged the participants to possible negotiations further apart from one another.

Europeans are inclined to follow the American lead, especially on issues that do not commit them to much. Recently they have joined the parade of visitors to Israel and Palestine saying in public what the Americans are saying in public.

Obama is naive but not stupid. He is admitting that he made some errors in his initial overtures with respect to Israel, Palestine, and their neighbors. One should not expect him to endorse the platform of nothing, but he may retreat quietly and focus on other issues. That will bring him close to what most of his predecessors did, most of the time.

The appeal of nothing may not last. There is no permanence in politics. But politics gravitates to what is easy, and usually avoids the risky and heroic. For the time being (which will last who knows how long), let’s hear a cheer, or at least see a quiet nod, in favor of nothing. It works for us all.

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Sharkansky is professor emeritus of political science at Hebrew University.

Adventures in San Diego Jewish History, April 2, 1954, Part II

February 6, 2010 Leave a comment

Compiled by Gail Umeham

Engagement Told
Southwestern Jewish Press April 2, 1954 Page 2

Announcement has been made of the engagement of Miss Irene Markrich of San Diego to Dr. Walter Fischel of Berkeley.  Miss Markrich attended the University of California at Berkeley and is the daughter of Mr. and Mrs. M. Markrich of San Francisco.

Dr. Fischel is a distinguished scholar and a former professor of the Hebrew University in Jerusalem.  He is a full professor and is chairman of the Department of Near Eastern Languages at the University of California at Berkeley.  He is the son of Mrs. Fischell of New York.

The wedding has been set for June 13 in San Francisco.  The couple will reside in Berkeley.

Betrothal Revealed
Southwestern Jewish Press April 2, 1954 Page 2

Mr. and Mrs. Joseph Cheron, at a party for 28 guests Sunday evening, March 28th, announced the betrothal of their daughter, Adele to Jerome Zweig, son of Mr. and Mrs. Leo Zweig.

The popular bride-to-be was one of the two Queens chosen at the Queen Esther Ball.  Mr. Zweig is a Staff Sergeant in the Air Force, stationed at Alburquerque, N. mex.  He has been home on leave and returns to Albuquerque this weekend. 

No wedding date has been set.

Personals
Southwestern Jewish Press April 2, 1954 Page 2

Desert Stay
Zel Camiel recently returned full of enthusiasm after a five day stay in Desert Hot springs.  If the spot is as delightful as Zel claims, it may become the place to go.

Palm Springs, Burbank
Mr. and Mrs. H. Rabinowitz and Mr. and Mrs. Max Rabinowitz recently spent a few days in Palm Springs, following which, the H. Rabinowitz’s hurried to Burbank to meet their newest granddaughter, Judith Elaine Robbins.

New Cousin
Sally and Dave Schissell and daughter Sandra spent last weekend in Long Beach meeting and admiring their new baby cousin.

Elected
Dr. Marco Meyer was recently elected Secretary Treasurer of the National Association of Chiropodists, S.D. Chapter, for the coming year.

Guests
Mr. And Mrs. Joe Bluestone of Cleveland, Ohio, are San Diego visitors.  Particularly enjoying their stay have been mother, Mrs. Esther Bluestone, and aunt and uncle, Mr. and Mrs. Simon Glaser.

Zel Camiel wishes to thank his friends for their consideration and kindnesses during his recent hospitalization.

Mr. and Mrs. Saul Chenkin wish to thank their friends for their kind expressions of sympathy during Saul’s illness.

Congratulations to Ted Brav who is new president of the Retail Liquor Dealers Association.

Moved North
Their many friends will miss the Ben Dubows and Oscar Dubows who recently have moved to Oceanside.  We know they will be welcomed gratefully by the northern community.

National Acclaim
Lawrence Schiller, son of Mr. and Mrs. Ted Schiller, was described as “A Pro at 16!” in a recent article of U.S. Camera Magazine.  Among his achievements:  six prints hung in the Rockefeller Art Gallery, two key awards in the Scholastic Art Awards Exhibition, staff photographer for the Los Angeles Examiner.

Chocolates Passed
Norma Simmons passed chocolates to her Pi Alpha Lambda sorority sisters at State College and blew out the traditional candle to reveal her engagement to Werner Dreifuss, Gamma Pi Delta at Cal Poly.

Werner will be graduated from cal Poly in June, while Norma has attended U.C.L.A. and State College.

A July wedding is planned.

Mr. and Mrs. Mack Esterson have as their guest Mack’s sister, Mrs. Lee Samler of Baltimore.  The charming easterner has been kept busy the past two weeks being entertained by friends of the Estersons.

To add a bit of spice to her stay, the Rod Horrows, Mrs. Samler, and the Estersons leave Monday for a few days in Las Vegas.  They expect to visit Boulder Dam and other interesting spots surrounding the casinos.

Honored
Robert Hirsch, nephew of the A. P. Nasatirs, was initiated into the national History Honor Society at Scripps  Cottage at the State College, on Sunday night, March 28th.  This honor society, Phi Alpha Theta, with its fraternity on the State Campus, admits only those students of highest scholastic caliber.  Bob and his wife, Lucille, are becoming well integrated San Diegans.  Their former home was in San Francisco.

Cradle
Southwestern Jewish Press April 2, 1954 Page 2

Mr. and Mrs. Howard Segal of Seatle, Wash. announce the recent birth of a son, Bard David.  The Segals have a daughter, Lynn.

Grandparents are Mr. and Mrs. Abbott Segal of San Diego.

Barbara Diane, aged 2, and Harold Martin, aged 3, welcomed brand new baby sister, Judith Elaine, into the Burbank home of their parents, Mr. and Mrs. Saul Robbins on March 17.  Young Judy weighed 7 lbs, 6 oz.

Delighted over the latest granddaughter are maternal grandparents, Mr. and Mrs. Charles Abramson of Burbank, and Mr. and Mrs. H. Rabinowitz of San Diego.

To Lead Hadassah
Southwestern Jewish Press April 2, 1954 Page 2

Slated to head Hadassah’s activities for the 1954-55 term, is Mrs. Harry Felson, who has been active for many years in the organization.  Chosen as vice presidents were Mrs. Leonard Zlotoff, Mrs. Morton Thaler and Mrs. Leon Solomon; Fin. Sec., Mrs. Fred Leonard; Rec. Sec., Mrs. Harold Elden; Corr. Sec., Mrs. Leon Smollar; Treas., Mrs. John Ruskin; Parl, Mrs. Sidney Goldhammer; Hist., Mrs. Alfred Bobroff; Board of Directors to serve on executive Committee, Mms. David Block, William Podoloff, Edward Kitaen, Stanley Strimling, M. S. Berlin.

Hadassah’s April meeting highlights vocational education and Mrs. Sigmund Stein has promised a delightfully surprising program.

Synagogues to Care for Servicemen
Southwestern Jewish Press April 2, 1954 Page 3

All three houses of worship in the city of San Diego have offered to accommodate military personnel for Passover Seder it was announced today by Henry Weinberger, chairman of the USO Jewish Welfare Board.

Specific arrangements are being worked out with the military commands in the District by Rabbi Morton J. Cohn, auxiliary chaplain, and Abraham A. Friedman, JWB director.

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“Adventures in Jewish History” is sponsored by Inland Industries Group LP in memory of long-time San Diego Jewish community leader Marie (Mrs. Gabriel) Berg. Our indexed “Adventures in San Diego Jewish History” series will be a regular feature until we run out of history.

Commercial fishing off Israel coast jeopardizing dolphins

February 6, 2010 2 comments

HAIFA (Press Release)–Extensive commercial fishing endangers dolphin populations in the Mediterranean. This has been shown in a new study carried out at the University of Haifa’s Department of Maritime Civilizations. “Unfortunately, we turn our backs to the sea and do not give much consideration to our marine neighbors,” states researcher Dr. Aviad Scheinin.

The study, which was supervised by Prof. Ehud Spanier and Dr. Dan Kerem, examined the competition between the two top predators along the Mediterranean coast of Israel: the Common Bottlenose Dolphin (Tursiops truncatus) and bottom trawlers. (Trawling is the principal type of commercial fishing in Israel and involves dragging a large fishing net through the water, close to the sea floor, from the back of a boat.) These two predators off the coast of Israel trap similar types of fish near the sea floor, so the researchers decided to examine the nature of the competition between the two.

Commercial trawling in the Mediterranean off the coast of Israel targets codfish, red mullet and sole, three commercial and sought-after types of fish. The Department of Fisheries in Israel’s Ministry of Agriculture has data showing that over the years the amount of fish from the sea floor looted by Israel’s commercial trawling is larger than the amount of fish that nature provides, indicating that the sea floor fish population dropped between the years 1949 and 2006.

Would this decline in fish supply necessarily cause direct harm to the dolphins, seeing as their diet might also include other types of fish? In order to verify this, the researcher examined the contents of the stomachs of 26 dolphins that died and landed on the beach, or that had been caught by mistake. He also examined the behavior of living dolphins by carrying out 232 marine surveys over more than 3,000 km. along the central coast of Israel. The dolphins’ stomachs contained mainly non-commercialized fish, suggesting that they perhaps do not compete directly with the commercial trawlers, and that the commercial fishing does not directly affect the dolphins’ nutrition.

The living dolphins’ behavior, on the other hand, draws an entirely different picture. According to Dr. Scheinin, most of the dolphins were observed around the trawling boats: the chances of observing a school of dolphins near a trawler is ten times higher than in the open sea. This is because the trawler serves as a “feeding station” for the dolphins: there they are not able to feed from the more expensive loot caught in the nets, but they are able to enjoy schools of other types of fish that swim around the trawler. “The problem is that this type of fishing endangers the dolphins. Eight dolphins die each year off the coast of Israel on average, and of those, four die after having been mistakenly caught in trawling nets. Seeing as many studies have proven the high intelligence of the dolphin, it is clear that these sea mammals are aware of this danger, but are left with little choice due to their need to search for food around the trawlers due to the scarcity of other food sources,” Dr. Scheinin explains.

This conclusion is reinforced by the suckling female dolphins. These dolphins require larger quantities of food than usual, and despite the risk for the younger and much less experienced dolphins that swim by their side, all of the suckling dolphins have been observed significantly more frequently around the trawlers. This indicates that they could not obtain enough food in other places.

The dolphins off the coast of Israel spend most of their time in search of food while their mates in other areas in the world are far busier with social activities. This fact is yet another contributing factor to the assumption that they suffer a deficiency in food resources.

The present study illustrates, for the first time, the characteristics of the dolphins inhabiting the sea region off the Mediterranean coast of Israel. This dolphin population is stable and at any given time can be counted at about 350 dolphins. Of these, the researchers are personally familiar with 150 dolphins – on a first name basis – which can be identified by the dorsal fin, the dolphin’s fingerprint. Forty of these are seen repeatedly and are permanent inhabitants of opposite the coast of Israel. “There is a stable dolphin population off the shores of Israel, and any resolution concerning the sea must also consider the dolphins. So as to preserve this population we must declare extensive marine nature reserves, so as to regulate fishing and bring an end to sea pollution. Regrettably, we are not considerate enough of the dolphins,” concludes Dr. Scheinin.

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Preceding provided by the University of Haifa

El Al and Ahava join for a sales promotion

February 6, 2010 Leave a comment

NEW YORK (Press Release)– EL AL, the national airline of Israel, is now offering passengers who purchase a ticket to Israel online an exclusive promotion with Ahava.  El Al passengers receive a voucher for a 30% discount on all full-priced Ahava  products and a 10% reduction on any sale priced items.  In addition to the discount, a complimentary gift is given to anyone purchasing a roundtrip ticket at www.elal.com in the month of February and is traveling to Israel before December 30, 2010.   

The voucher can be utilized through 2010 at an Ahava  store in Israel in any of the following locations: Jerusalem (Alrov Mamilla Avenue), Tel Aviv (the Hilton Hotel), Ein Bokek (the Ein Hatchelet Mall at the Dead Sea), Mitzpe Shalem (the Ahava Visitor Center at the Dead Sea), and Latrun (the Mini-Israel Site).

Please visit www.elal.com to purchase a ticket and take advantage of this exclusive promotion.

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Preceding provided by El Al

Global Jewish leadership conference set for Johannesburg

February 6, 2010 Leave a comment

JOHANNESBURG, South Africa (Press Release)– A delegation of leaders from the Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations, the umbrella group for 52 national Jewish organizations, will pay its first official visit to South Africa beginning Monday, February 8th, announced Chairman Alan Solow and Executive Vice Chair Malcolm Hoenlein, who will lead the U.S. delegation.

The 50 American participants representing the Conference’s member organizations will be joined by leaders of the Euro-Asian Jewish Congress (EAJC), led by President Alexander Mashkevich and Secretary-General Mikhail Chlenov. The EAJC is the representative body of Jewish countries in the Euro-Asian region and maintains close ties to government leaders and national organizations.

The joint delegation will meet with South African government and African National Congress officials, civic and business leaders, in order to advance diplomatic and economic cooperation, as well as deepen the ties between the American Jewish community and South Africa, and with the local Jewish community. The program in South Africa is being coordinated by the South African Board of Jewish Deputies, led by Zev Krengel, Chairman, and Wendy Kahn, National Director.

The Jewish leaders expressed their eagerness to explore vital issues and mutual interests of South Africa and the Jewish communities. “We are confident that this important visit is a unique opportunity for meaningful high-level dialogues and look forward to an exchange of perspectives on important issues, including global and local terrorism and the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction, abuse of the United Nations and international courts for partisan political purposes as well as efforts to delegitimize the State of Israel, and advancing human rights, building democratic institutions and political stability.”

Each year for about two decades, prior to visiting Israel, the Conference of Presidents leadership has visited a region of special significance, including  NATO and European Union headquarters in Brussels, and were guests of the leaders of Russia, Italy, Germany, United Kingdom, Morocco, Jordan, Egypt, and other nations.

From South Africa, the American leaders will fly to Jerusalem, for the 36th annual Conference of Presidents Israel Leadership Mission from February 16th to February 20th

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Preceding provided by Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations

Firm that exported Boeing 747s to Iran pays $17 million in fines and penalties

February 6, 2010 2 comments

WASHINGTON, D.C.  (Press Release)–Balli Aviation Ltd., a subsidiary of the United Kingdom-based Balli Group PLC, pleaded guilty on Friday in the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia to a two-count criminal information in connection with its illegal export of commercial Boeing 747 aircraft from the United States to Iran, announced David Kris, Assistant Attorney General for National Security; Channing D. Phillips, U.S. Attorney for the District of Columbia; Thomas Madigan, Acting Deputy Assistant Secretary of Commerce for Export Enforcement; and Adam J. Szubin, Director of the Department of Treasury’s Office of Foreign Assets Control.

Under the plea agreement, Balli Aviation Ltd. agreed to pay a $2 million criminal fine and be placed on corporate probation for five years. The $2 million fine, combined with a related $15 million civil settlement among Balli Group PLC, Balli Aviation Ltd., the U.S. Department of Commerce’s Bureau of Industry and Security (BIS), and the U.S. Department of the Treasury’s Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC), that was also announced Friday, represents one of the largest fines for an export violation in BIS history. Under the terms of the related civil settlement, Balli Group PLC and Balli Aviation Ltd. have agreed to pay a civil penalty of $15 million of which $2 million will be suspended if there are no further export control violations. In addition, Balli Aviation Ltd. and Balli Group PLC are denied export privileges for five years, although this penalty will be suspended provided that neither Balli Aviation nor Balli Group commits any export violations and pays the civil penalty.  Under the terms of the settlement, Balli Group PLC and Balli Aviation, Ltd. will also have to submit the results of an independent audit of its export compliance program to BIS and OFAC for each of the next five years.

According to count one of the information filed with the court, beginning in at least October 2005, through October 2008, Balli Aviation Ltd. conspired to export three Boeing 747 aircraft from the United States to Iran without first having obtained the required export license from BIS or authorization from OFAC, in violation of the Export Administration Regulations (EAR) and the Iranian Transactions Regulations. More particularly, the information states that Balli Aviation Ltd., through its subsidiaries, the Blue Sky Companies, purchased U.S.-origin aircraft with financing obtained from an Iranian airline and caused these aircraft to be exported to Iran without obtaining the required U.S. government licenses. Further, Balli Aviation Ltd. entered into lease arrangements that permitted the Iranian airline to use the U.S.-origin aircraft for flights in and out of Iran.

Count two of the information states that Balli Aviation Ltd. violated a Temporary Denial Order (TDO) issued by BIS on March 17, 2008, that prohibited the company from conducting any transaction involving any item subject to the EAR. Starting in or about March 2008 and continuing through about August 2008, Balli Aviation Ltd. willfully violated the TDO by carrying on negotiations with others concerning buying, receiving, using, selling and delivering U.S.-origin aircraft which went to the Export Administration Regulations.

“As this case demonstrates, corporations that conduct business with Iran in violation of U.S. export laws and sanctions face serious consequences,” said David Kris, Assistant Attorney General for National Security. “The many agents, analysts and attorneys who worked on this successful investigation and prosecution deserve special thanks for their efforts.”

“These charges reflect the commitment of the United States to vigorously enforce our laws against corporations that illegally seek to acquire U.S. aircraft from the U.S. on behalf of Iranian customers,” said Channing Phillips, Acting U.S. Attorney for the District of Columbia. “Those who seek to profit by violating and circumventing U.S. trade laws should take heed of today’s guilty plea by Balli Aviation.”

“The significant fine is a direct consequence of the level of deception used to mislead investigators,” said Thomas Madigan, Acting Deputy Assistant Secretary of Commerce for Export Enforcement. “The case agents worked through a complex corporate maze to obtain the facts and bring the violators to justice.”

“Today’s case should serve as further warning of Iran’s continued efforts to circumvent sanctions and obtain U.S. technology. Together with our colleagues from the Justice and Commerce departments, OFAC will continue to aggressively pursue both domestic and foreign entities that seek to violate U.S. sanctions programs by exporting goods to Iran from the United States.” said Adam J. Szubin, Director, Office of Foreign Assets Control.

In announcing the plea, Assistant Attorney General Kris, Acting U.S. Attorney Phillips, Acting Deputy Assistant Secretary Madigan and OFAC Director Szubin commended Assistant Director for Operations John Sonderman, Special Agent in Charge Rick Shimon, Special Agent Joseph Varga, and Chief Counsel Attorney Gregory Michelsen, all of the Department of Commerce’s Bureau of Industry and Security. They also thanked Trial Attorney Jonathan C. Poling of the Counterespionage Section of the Justice Department’s National Security Division, and Assistant U.S. Attorney Anthony Asuncion of the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the District of Columbia, who are prosecuting this matter.

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Preceding provided by U.S. Justice Department