Archive for April 15, 2010

46 percent of American Jews say they may vote against Obama next election

April 15, 2010 2 comments


NEW YORK (Press Release)–A new poll of American Jewish opinion, conducted by McLaughlin & Associates, has produced a surprising result: despite the fact that American Jews voted for Barack Obama in 2008 by a massive 78% to 21%, today a plurality of 46% of American Jews say they would consider voting for someone else if Barack Obama runs for re-election in 2012, whereas 42% would vote for him and 12% registered no opinion.

The poll also found that:

·        62% of American Jews believe that the Palestinians would continue their campaign of terror to destroy Israel if they were given a Palestinian state, while only 19% say they would live peacefully with Israel.

·        52% of American Jews disapprove of the Obama Administration supporting a plan to recognize a Palestinian state within two years, whereas only 28% approve of it.

·        64% of American Jews believe that Jerusalem should remain the undivided capital of Israel, while only 13% say that the United States should force Israel to give up parts of Jerusalem to the Palestinians (‘McLaughlin & Associates Poll: National Survey of Jewish Voters,’ April 14, 2010).

ZOA National President Morton A. Klein said, “By any yardstick, this is a surprising result. It is well-known that American Jews have been overwhelmingly and consistently supporters of the Democratic Party for decades and that 78% of American Jews voted for Barack Obama.

“Despite concerns, voiced by ZOA and others, regarding then-Senator Obama’s friendships with the anti-Israel Rev. Jeremiah Wright, Al Sharpton, Rashid Khalidi, Ali Abunimah and others; his statements that Hamas and Hizballah have ‘legitimate claims’; and his backtracking on supporting Jerusalem as the undivided capital of Israel, most American Jews reassured by Obama’s professions of friendship for and unshakeable bond’ with Israel.

“However, after 15 months in office, American Jews have been given cause for deep concern about the President’s harsh policy towards Israel and indulgent one towards the Arab and Muslim worlds.

“Not only have Israel’s sworn enemies, like Iran and Syria, been courted; not only did the President inaccurately write off Jewish claims to statehood as some sort of consolation prize for the Holocaust in his June 2009 Cairo speech; not only have many of his Middle East advisers track records of hostility to Israel; not only has he coupled American commitment to Israel’s security with Israel ‘respecting’ the legitimate claims and rights of the Palestinians; but his Administration has condemned as ‘an insult to America’ Israel’s announcement that it will build homes for Jews in a Jewish neighborhood in eastern Jerusalem, while increasing aid to a Palestinian Authority that refuses to negotiate, make concessions or end terrorism or incitement to hatred and murder against Israel. American Jews appear to have noticed and are worried – with reason.”

Preceding provided by Zionist Organization of America


San Diego Jewish community to memorialize those who fell defending Israel

April 15, 2010 Leave a comment

 LA JOLLA, California (Press Release)–Yom HaZikaron, the day Israel remembers its war dead and victims of terror, will be observed at 7 p.m., Sunday, April 18, at the Lawrence Family JCC, 4126 Executive Drive, La Jolla.

The free public event is sponsored by the Israel Center of United Jewish Federation of San Diego County.

During this somber day the entire nation of Israel and Jewish people in many corners of the world, remember and express their eternal gratitude to sons, daughters, parents and dear friends who gave their lives for Israel’s independence and its continued existence. 

In Israel, Yom Hazikaron begins with the sound of sirens proclaiming a two-minute silence in which all activity, including traffic, ceases. Flags are flown at half mast and memorial ceremonies are held all over the country at cemeteries, memorials, public places, schools, youth movements and others.

In San Diego, this year’s theme, bravery, will be highlighted in every aspect of the ceremony. Del Mar resident, Yaron Abed, who recently returned after serving in the Israeli Defense Force (IDF), will present  personal stories of soldiers who died in the line of duty. The program will also feature two heart-wrenching films, three local choirs and several members of the community sharing their personal connection to Yom Hazikaron and speaking about their fallen loved ones.

The films are two short documentaries on the lives of IDF soldiers. A Hero in Heaven tells the story of Michael Levin, an American who immigrated to Israel to join the IDF and made the ultimate sacrifice for the Jewish State and the Jewish people. With All Your Soul is the story of Major Roi Klein who died sacrificing himself to save his soldiers, leaping onto a hand grenade in the second Lebanon war in 2006.

The choirs featured are The Women’s Choir of Beth El, the Beth Am Choir and the San Diego’s Havorat Hazemer.

This year, the theme of bravery extends even beyond soldiers of the IDF to San Diegans and all Americans who have died fighting for Israel. A special effort has been made to involve members of the San Diego Jewish Community who may never before have commemorated Yom Hazikaron.

Preceding provided by the United Jewish Federation of San Diego County

Bishop Williamson will not attend his trial over Holocaust denial in Germany

April 15, 2010 1 comment

(WJC)–Contrary to an earlier announcement, the bishop of the ultra-conservative Catholic Society of St. Pius X (SSPX), Richard Williamson, will not be present at his trial in Regensburg, Germany, on Friday. Williamson is charged with incitement to hatred for denying that Jews were murdered in gas chambers by the Nazis during World War II. His attorney Matthias Lossmann said: “He will not be there. I will explain to the trial why he is not coming.”

Bishop Williamson

Williamson, one of four bishops of the SSPX which broke away from the Catholic Church in 1988, said in a interview with Swedish television recorded in Germany in 2008 that “200,000 to 300,000 Jews perished in Nazi concentration camps, but none of them by gas chambers.” He added: “It was all lies, lies, lies,” and “not one Jew” was killed in gas chambers. The interview caused a storm after it emerged that the Vatican had lifted the excommunication of the four SSPX bishops.

Williamson was fined € 12,000 (US$ 17,000) but a further trial was ordered after he refused to pay. Denying that the Holocaust took place, or questioning key elements of, is illegal in Germany.

Meanwhile, the German section of the SSPX distanced itself from Williamson’s statements on the Holocaust. The head of the SSPX internationally, Bernard Fellay, has reportedly banned Williamson from making public statements that do not exclusively deal with religious matters. The German newspaper ‘Süddeutsche Zeitung’ quotes from a letter by Fellay to Williamson in which he writes that he should not attend the trial in Regensburg to allow his “lawyers to reconstruct the situation in your favor.”


Preceding provided by World Jewish Congress.

Demjanjuk’s ID card as Nazi camp guard authentic, expert witness says

April 15, 2010 Leave a comment

(WJC)–An ID card being used as a key piece of evidence in the trial against Ivan (John) Demjanjuk appears to be original, an expert witness has told the court in Munich, Germany. The typeset and handwriting on the card matched with that used on four other cards believed to have been issued at the SS training camp at Trawniki, according to a police expert.

Demjanjuk ID card

Demjanjuk is standing trial on 27,900 counts of being an accessory to murder on allegations he was a guard at the Nazis’ Sobibor camp in occupied Poland during World War II. He has denied ever being at any Nazi camp and claimed he was the victim of mistaken identity. The 90-year-old could face up to 15 years in prison if convicted.

Anton Dallmayer, from the Bavarian Bureau of Criminal Investigation, said that his examination of the ID cards showed that they were issued by the same person, using the same paper, and that they were printed on the same machine. However, Dallmayer could not confirm if the IDs were made during World War II.

Demjanjuk’s attorney Ulrich Busch said that all four ID cards could be fakes. The defense maintains the Nazi ID card showing that Demjanjuk served time in Sobibor is a fake made by the Soviet secret service, the KGB.

The prosecution argues that when Demjanjuk – who served in the Soviet Army – was captured by the Germans in 1942, he volunteered to serve under the SS as a guard. Demjanjuk claims he spent most of the rest of the war in German prisoner-of-war camps before joining the so-called Vlasov Army of anti-communist Soviet POWs and others. That army was formed to fight with the Germans against the encroaching Soviets in the final months of the war,


Preceding provided by World Jewish Congress.

Fixing American priorities in the Middle East

April 15, 2010 Leave a comment

By Shoshana Bryen

Shoshana Bryen

WASHINGTON, D.C. –The Jewish Institute for National Security Affairs calls on President Obama to take a personal interest in the “Middle East dispute” and use his personal good offices to push the parties to the conflict to a resolution that serves “vital national security interests” for the United States. Recalcitrant parties, pursuing their own narrow interests, are putting American troops in greater danger and the President must act to secure our interest even if not all the parties want his mediation. Part of being friends with a country means telling them things they may not want to hear, and the United States has to be firm about what it expects.
No, not that Middle East dispute.
Following the March 7 election in Iraq-the second planned, multiparty, free election with open media and the right of assembly in the country’s history-the parties began the difficult process of forming a government. The incumbent is trying to remain in office by building a coalition that would lock out the party that actually holds the plurality of seats in the parliament and was the main vote getter in the election. If he is able to disenfranchise the largest party, he will feed the fear in the people that elections are meaningless and reconciliation is not part of the agenda. During the machinations, a power vacuum has resulted that is filled increasingly by radicals and terrorists determined to finalize the outcome by force. At least 90 Iraqis were killed in terrorist bomb attacks over five days last month. 
This is clearly is a moment that American diplomacy should engage both the winner and the incumbent and work toward a reconciled position that would represent the largest number of Iraqis and give meaning to the electoral process. But beyond Vice President Biden appearing in Baghdad and claiming a victory in Iraq for the Obama Administration, the United States has been strangely silent and reluctant to use the political leverage gained by the hard and deadly work of our troops. 
When Obama and  Biden were both senators, the Democratic Party made much of the fact that political reconciliation in Iraq was the only goal worth pursuing-and they wanted to pursue it even before security conditions in the country permitted. Now that there is general physical security (shaky as it is), economic growth and open elections, the goal of political reconciliation appears to have been dropped by our now-President and now-Vice President. 
Ayyad Allawi, holder of the largest parliamentary bloc, said, “As America is still here, and as America still enjoys respectability in this country-they should focus on political reforms and use their offices here to forge reconciliation…Security is not only a function of the number of troops you have. It is changing the political landscape…I said, and still believe, even if you raise the security forces to a million, it wouldn’t matter.”
Mr. Allawi has, in the meantime, found it necessary to send a delegation to IRAN to try to shore up any government he might be able to form.
There are rumors, hints, suggestions and outright claims that the Obama Administration believes a direct American push is necessary to resolve the Israeli-Palestinian dispute, and that failure to do so can impact upon the security of our forces in the region. More than one hundred thousand American men and women serve today in Iraq and our failure to provide a direct American push for a resolution of the Iraqi political dispute will directly and causally affect their security and their lives.
The Obama Administration’s priorities in this case are badly skewed.
Bryen is senior director of security policy of the Jewish Institute for National Security Affairs.  Her column is sponsored by Waxie Sanitary Supply in memory of Morris Wax, longtime JINSA supporter and national board member

‘The Rivalry’ at Lamb’s provides a timely debate

April 15, 2010 Leave a comment

David Cochran Heath, Colleen Kollar Smith and Robert Smyth (Ken Jacques photo)

Carol Davis

 CORONADO, California—-It’s hard to believe that in 2010 we are still fighting the Civil War. Yup. Both Virginia and Mississippi recently announced new proclamations by their Governors designating April as Confederate Heritage Month without so much as a mention of the cause of the Civil War, which by all accounts was the issue of slavery or to be more concise, the right of one person or persons to own another person or other persons.

For whatever bogus reasons, not the least is a mention of the formation of The Tea Party Movement akin to the reason for the outbreak of the Civil War (the government isn’t paying attention to us), they have chosen to disregard the historical facts.

History is a complicated subject and doesn’t travel in a straight trajectory and often the facts get lost in the rhetoric. There are competing circumstances and partisan arguments, political factions and opinions, ignorance, money and land, fear of the unknown particularly if a way of life is about to be or has been changed that can alter the facts, both real or imagined.

For historians, the good news is that the tracks that have been left behind like official papers; documents, speeches, personal diaries and oral histories that validate actual accounts are still available. The bad news is that if enough tweaking of the facts continues over the years and a total disregard for the truth shouts louder than the truth, history is reinvented and that becomes the new truth.

It’s a little more complicated these days to lie about the facts with instant replay and more sophisticated means of recording history, but that doesn’t stop the eager beavers from .preaching their own fiction by yelling louder than the truth seekers. Ergo, slavery, well yes it happened but, “And the primary cause of the war was not slavery, although slavery was interwoven into the cause …”

It’s uncanny that the rhetoric screaming from the 24-hour news cycle today echoes almost the same vocabulary as in 1858 about  states rights and strict interpretation of the constitution.

Hidden beneath all that chatter, might there be the race card rearing its ugly head once again? A little more than two hundred years after the birth of Abraham Lincoln, this country has an African American president. One hundred years after the famous debates, the Civil Rights Movement outlawed racial discrimination. Finally in 1964 The Civil Rights Act banned all discrimination based on race, color or religion. And still the debate rages on.

But back in 1858, the year of the Lincoln/Douglas debates, the issues of states rights and  the constitution particularly with regard to the subject of slavery were on the table in real time. Nothing was camouflaged. The senate seat of Illinois was at stake in these debates and Lincoln and Douglas went after it full speed ahead.

Three years after the debates Abraham Lincoln (who lost the senate seat to Douglas) was president and the country was at war. To get a glimpse of what a true oratory contest is all about, take yourself to Lamb’s Players Theatre in Coronado to witness a really fine debate, using the actual (whittled down) documents, between Abraham Lincoln (David Cochran Heath) and Stephen A. Douglas (Robert Smyth) in Norman Corwin’s 1958 play, The Rivalry

In seven debates across the state of Illinois Lincoln and Douglas argued their different points of view about slavery; Douglas the Democrat stood for states rights to decide whether or not to keep slaves while Lincoln the Republican argued “that all men are created equal” and that meant black and other minorities and therefore slavery goes against the very grain of what our forefathers signed on to when penning the Declaration of Independence.

While strikingly different in appearance and conviction, Douglas was short and stubby; Lincoln tall and lanky, both were lawyers and both were passionate about their views. Each had a mutual respect for the other and exerted civility at all times. 

Douglas supported the Kansas Nebraska Act and the Dred Scott Supreme Court decision while Lincoln opposed both. Therein was the schism. Douglas wanted the states to define whether or not they would be free or slave states especially in the westward expansion while Lincoln made a strong argument against the states rights, “A house divided against itself…”

Unfortunately for Douglas the cards were stacked against him and instead of coming off as a bright legislator, passionate in his convictions and an excellent debater he comes off as a pompous racist. As finely as Smyth’s Douglas espouses his points of view, and they were convincing, Corwin’s play doesn’t allow for much sympathy toward the Douglas character.

 For those betting on Lincoln, (and we all know the history) most seem to forget while he was opposed to slavery he struggled with the issue throughout his legislative career even voting for the exclusivity of white suffrage (catering to the racist sentiment) of the North and in Illinois. Cochran’s Lincoln is as convincing as were his views on equality for all. 

Refereeing between debates and narrating before and after, Corwin puts Douglas’ wife Adele (Colleen Kollar Smith) into the mix by adding commentary and some much needed female reasoning, which was advantageous when her husband got a little hot headed and or stuffy and difficult to deal with.

Corwin’s taking fictional liberties makes the somewhat long and often sameness of the give and take debates  more palatable with the addition of the wisdom, foresight and humor of Douglas’ wife Adele.

Lamb’s production, with the two master performers Smyth and Cochran Heath, under the astute direction of Deborah Gilmour Smyth is quite absorbing especially if you drink this type of history lesson. Robert Smyth as Douglas is smug, super indignant, playing to the audience convincing that he is right with all his might. He paces, nips a bit, quips a bit but stings hard in his fight to be right arguments.

David Cochran Heath’s Lincoln is more deliberate and less fire and brimstone but just as fervent nonetheless. Standing on Michael McKeon’s (set and projections designer) raised planked platform making his points, he looks larger than life as he strides back and fourth, using excellent body language to get his ideas across. And when he puts on his stovepipe hat (Jeanne Reith) he casts a giant shadow over the audience (Nathan Peirson, lighting).

Colleen Kollar Smith is lovely, gentle and persuasive as Adele Douglas. Dressed in Reith’s beautiful period dresses she is the essence of Southern dignity and charm. With the addition of her character, we are able to see some of the behind the scenes personalities and struggles of both men when they are not opposing each other in the public arena. Without her character, Corwin’s two-act play would be somewhat less intriguing.

Ms. Smith also created the original background music indicative of the times with Diana Elledge on cello. I think I also heard a few drums and piccolo somewhere in the wings.

For those wanting a little piece of history while not wanting to read through volumes of debates, The Rivalry is a good place to begin.

See you at the theatre.
Dates: April 6-May 23 2010
Organization: Lamb’s Players Theatre
Phone: 619-437-6000
Production Type: Drama
Where: 1142 Orange Ave, Coronado, Ca
Ticket Prices: $26-58.00
Web: Lamb’
Venue: Lamb’s Players Theatre Coronado

Theatre critic Carol Davis is based in San Diego

J Street reports first official meeting with Israel’s ambassador

April 15, 2010 Leave a comment

WASHINGTON, D.C. (Press Release) — J Street founder and Executive Director Jeremy Ben-Ami met today for the first time with Israeli Ambassador Michael Oren.

The conversation, which took place at the Israeli Embassy, lasted approximately one hour and covered a wide range of topics, including the peace process, the US-Israel relationship and Iran.  The meeting builds on months of discussions between the pro-Israel, pro-peace lobby and the Embassy aimed at clarifying the Israeli government’s understanding of J Street’s views and included a forthright discussion of points of agreement and disagreement.

“I greatly appreciated the opportunity to sit down with Ambassador Oren for a frank and fruitful conversation about how we can work together to ensure Israel’s prospects for peace and security.  I applaud the Ambassador’s commitment to building a bridge to the pro-Israel, pro-peace community in the months since our national conference,” said Ben-Ami.

“The Ambassador clearly recognizes the importance of dialogue and communication between the State of Israel and those parts of the American Jewish community that are deeply pro-Israel but at times disagree with the policies of its government.

“J Street hopes that going forward we are building a relationship based on mutual respect and recognizing that our disagreements are rooted in a deep commitment to Israel’s security and its future as a democracy and the home of the Jewish people.

“I hope this is but the first of many conversations we will have.”

Preceding provided by J*Street