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Obama using Israel as a scapegoat for his own failed policies

April 26, 2010 1 comment

By Rabbi Ben Kamin

Rabbi Ben Kamin

SAN DIEGO–There was no particular courage required to excoriate the government of Israel when its housing minister announced the construction of so many new home units in the Jerusalem area exactly when Vice President Joe Biden was arriving in the country to discuss peace talks.  Many in the Israeli establishment and editorial community were just as mystified by the timing—even the arrogance.

But no courage whatsoever is required for one nation to tell its primary ally and devotee in the Middle East what to do generally within that ally’s municipal sovereignty (especially with respect to its capital city)—let alone try to micro-manage that ally’s business.  Timing is one thing, protocol is another.  No courage here—just temerity. 

Every American president before Obama, Republican and Democrat, has celebrated our extraordinarily special relationship with this brave and spirited little country.

Israel is boldly democratic, to a fault, and at the expense of its own functionality.  It is home to some 120 nationalities and it turns 62 this week without a single US soldier, sailor, or airman ever dying on its soil in a wartime action.  This is not Iraq, Kuwait, Vietnam, Korea, or Afghanistan–or Lebanon, where hundreds of American Marines were killed in a 1983 suicide bombing.

President Obama has practically broken his back extending invitations to, declarations of support for, and generally winking at President Hamid Karzai of Afghanistan—known to have been elected by fraud, most highly questionable in the categories of democracy and gratitude.  For the better part of a decade, young Americans have been dying in the deserts and mountains of this fractious and bellicose nation of innumerable tribal conflagrations.
President Obama has visited Afghanistan—which is great and surely cheers our brave soldiers there.  He has not chosen to set foot yet in Israel, a republic that both mirrors and fawns over America, even while protecting US interests via its military, scientific, biotechnological, and strategic commitments and successes.

The United States recognized the State of Israel within moments of its independence on May 14, 1948.  President Harry Truman was clear-eyed and declarative.   Every American president since, Republican and Democrat, has celebrated our extraordinarily special relationship with this brave and spirited little country that still fights daily against terrorism and now the announced threat of Iranian nuclear annihilation.

The government of Israel formally recognized the existence of the Palestinian nation on September 13, 1993: I was there at the White House when this happened and witnessed the fateful handshake between Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin and Chairman Yasser Arafat.  It is not the fault of Israel that what is now left, sadly, of the Palestinian nation is an unrecognizable bloody stand-off between Hamas in Gaza and Fatah in the West Bank. 

But to now equate America’s entanglements in Afghanistan and Iraq, and the tragic loss of US lives in those places, to Israel’s dangerous equation with the Palestinians is facile at best and libelous at worst.  In fact, even as the frustrations and failures of American policy in the Muslim world (including the just-now published government admission that we are not succeeding with Iran) grow, some Americans are simply dumping blame on our friendship with Israel.

This is a blood libel and we Americans have better principles than that.

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Kamin is a freelance writer and author.  His Nothing Like Sunshine: A Story in the Aftermath of the MLK Assassination was recently published.

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Adventures in San Diego Jewish History, April 30, 1954—Part III

April 26, 2010 Leave a comment

Compiled by Gail Umeham

July Wedding Set
Southwestern Jewish Press April 30, 1954 Page 5

Mr. and Mrs. Harry Berman announce the engagement of their daughter, Doris Jean, to Morton Sidney Green, son of Mr. and Mrs. David Green of Beverly Hills.

Morton is a graduate of U.S.C. in Business Administration and was a member of Pi Lambda Phi and Squires Service organization.  Doris attended State College where she affiliated with Sigma Kappa and was Associate Women’s Student Body Secretary.

The young couple have set July 25 as their wedding date.

Anniversary Dinner
Southwestern Jewish Press April 30, 1954 Page 5

Mr. and Mrs. Al Strickman entertained last week at a dinner honoring the 44th wedding anniversary of Mr. and Mrs. Paul Merkowitz.  Other guests were son, Sam Merkowitz and grandsons, Paul, Mark and Danny.  Mrs. Strickman is the daughter of the elder Merkowitz’s.

Surprise Party
Southwestern Jewish Press April 30, 1954 Page 5

Saturday, April 19 was a big night for Mrs. Neil Himmel, who was surprised with a birthday dinner party given by Mr. Himmel and children, Mr. and Mrs. Lester Himmel.  The second joyous surprise of the evening was the presence of life-long friends, Mr. and Mrs. Harry Saffron of Los Angeles.

Other guests bringing good wishes were Messrs. and Msdmes. I. Fagelson, Jay Jacobson, L. Feldman, N. Zahalsky, N. Raitzas, Sam Withall, D. Fagelson, M. Jacobson, Mrs. B. Feinberg, and Liz Gotkin.

Close on the heels of the birthday celebration came the Neil Himmel’s 34th wedding anniversary, which they spent in Los Angeles visiting the Saffrons.

Among Their Travels
Southwestern Jewish Press April 30, 1954 Page 5

A picture of three children from Cochin being cared for in Israel that appeared in our last issue, brought to our office.  Mr. Harry Mandell and his wife, who had spent eight months traveling around the world last year, had visited Cochin, met and spoke to many of the Jews of Cochin in the Jewish Synagogue there.

Escapees from family responsibilities were Mr. and Mrs. Herbert Reder and Mr. and Mrs. Bernard Kessler who took a few days off to visit Las Vegas.

Mrs. Vera Lehrer received a grand surprise on April 29th, when her daughters, Mrs. E. L. Slayen and Mrs. Harold Lehrer, held a dinner party, in the latter’s home, honoring Mrs. Lehrer’s birthday.

Entertainer Returns
Southwestern Jewish Press April 30, 1954 Page 5

Jerry Solomon, known professionally as Jerry Mann, son of Leon and Alice Solomon, has just returned from a four month sojourn with a 20-piece U.S.O. Entertainment Unit from Tokyo, Korea and Honolul;u.  His unit entertained concurrently with the Marilyn Monroe and the Slapsie Maxie Rosenblum contingents.

Up to 15,000 bored and lonely boys turned out eagerly to watch every shown in each camp. Says Jerry, “It was a ball.  You feel good playing for those guys…and what a chance to see the world.”

Trip East
Southwestern Jewish Press April 30, 1954 Page 5

Mr. and Mrs. Nat Schiller left today (April 30) for a four or five week motor trip—destination New York and Connecticut.  They hope to stop in Washington and other cities en route that may tempt them.  Awaiting them in New York are tickets for hit Broadway shows including “The Girl in Pink Tights” and “Tea and Sympathy.”

Betrothal Announced
Southwestern Jewish Press April 30, 1954 Page 5

Mr. and Mrs. Harry H. Schwartz announce the engagement of their daughter Ethel, to Albert Adatto son of Mr. and Mrs. Isaac Adatto of Seattle, Washington.  The formal announcement was made at the first seder of Passover in Seattle where Miss Schwartz was spending the holidays.  The bride elect is now attending San Diego State College and is vice-president of Pi Alpha Lambda sorority.  Mr. Adatto served two years in the Navy, having spent time overseas in Japan and Korea.  No wedding date has been set.

Cantor Joseph Cysner in Song Recital
Southwestern Jewish Press April 30, 1954 Page 5

Cantor Joseph Cysner, baritone, will give a recital on Tuesday, May 25, at 8:30 p.m. at the Wednesday Club, 540 Ivy Lane.  An interesting program of songs by famous composers, including some Italian, English, German and Israeli songs, will be presented..  He will be accompanied by the well known pianist, Robert MacDonald.  Tickets, at $1.25, are now available from Cantor Cysner at 4528 35th Street, AT-4-1910, or at the door.

Temple Men’s Club Plan Theatre Party
Southwestern Jewish Press April 30, 1954 Page 5

The Temple Beth Israel Men’s Club will honor their wives at a monthly meeting Wednesday, May 20.  Afterwards the members and their wives will adjourn to the Old Globe Theatre to see the play, “Lo and Behold.”

Tickets are priced at seven dollars per couple, this includes the price of the fine dinner and seats for an excellent play.  Interested non-members may contact Don Pogrell at Academy 3-7529 for additional information.

Young People’s League
Southwestern Jewish Press April 30, 1954 Page 5

The Young People’s League of Beth Jacob Center will meet Saturday, May 1, at 8:00 p.m. at which time Esther Moorsteen will show colored slides of Israel.

All interested young people are invited.

Cradle
Southwestern Jewish Press April 30, 1954 Page 5

The arrival of Susan Beth makes an even half-dozen grandchildren for Max and Molly Rabinowitz.  Proud parents Mr. and Mrs. Bernard Arenson announce that Susan Beth was born on April 21st, at Mercy Hospital and weighed six and one-fourth lbs.  Sister Paula Gayle li8kes the new baby doll the stork brought to her.

Paternal grandmother is Mrs. Celia Arenson, of Des Moines, Iowa.

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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.

Roseville section of San Diego to reinstall historic marker on La Playa Trail

April 26, 2010 Leave a comment

SAN DIEGO (Press Release) — Members of the La Playa Trail Association will place a monument at 10:15 a.m., Thursday, April 29, at the corner of Rosecrans Street and Avenida de Portugal to mark the location where the town of Roseville was founded in 1869 by Louis Rose.

The monument duplicates one that had been erected in 1934 to mark the spot where Rose had hoped to move the commercial center of San Diego from the Old Town area.

Guest participants in the ceremony will be San Diego City Councilmember Kevin Faulconer, San Diego County Supervisor Greg Cox, and journalist/ historian Donald H. Harrison, editor of San Diego Jewish World and author of Louis Rose: San Diego’s First Jewish Settler and Entrepreneur.

La Playa Trail Association  Co-chair Klonie Kunzel collaborated with architect Richard J. Lareau to design the marker funded with a grant from the Ellen Browning Scripps Foundation, the Point Loma Foundation and District 2 City Counciman Faulconer.

The La Playa Trail runs from Ballast Point, which once housed the Spanish Fort Guijarros to Mission San Diego.  Markers pictured an Indian vaquero and a Mexican carretta.

The Roseville monument orginally stood a block away from Thursday’s ceremonial site at Rosecrans and Bryon Streets.

When the original 1934 marker was dedicated, the ceremony was attended by local school children.  This will occur again with classes from the Cabrillo Elementary School.

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Preceding based on material provided by La Playa Trail Association

The Jews Down Under … Roundup of Australian Jewish News

April 26, 2010 1 comment

Garry Fabian

Compiled by Garry Fabian

Aid for orphans in Cochin, India

MELBOURNE, 22 April –  A year 9 community service project at Bialik College grew into something  bigger after a group of students raised more than  $3000 for an Indian orphanage. Under the leadership of Jewish Aid Australia, the  class was divided up and each group received $10.  The challenge was to turn that $10 into a charity  windfall for the cause of their choice.

One group of students ­ Joel Rabinov, Joshua  Hanegbi, Jessica Worth, Joel Kuperholtz, Nathan Hanegbi and Steven Gringlas ­ developed a  strategy for their chosen charity, Emmanuel Children’s Home in Cochin, India.

Using their $10 to purchase lollies, which they  sold at school to make $60, the team then used  the profits to buy more lollies, successfully  making $140 in preparation for their final major fundraiser: a sausage sizzle at the school’s senior sports carnival.

“The sports carnival was a beautiful day. The sun  shone, the kids shlepped and organised,
cooperated and cooked . the atmosphere was pure  goodwill and fun,” Sharon Kuperholtz, the mother  of fundraiser Joel, said. “By the end of the day,  the team had managed to turn $10 dollars into $907.”

Meanwhile, Kuperholtz held an event at her home,  to raise additional funds for the orphanage, bringing the total to more than $3000.

The Kuperholz family then visited  the orphanage  on a recent trip to India to personally deliver the cheque. They also took over toys, games,  dress-ups, make-up, cricket sets and stationery.

The response from the orphanage director was  “full of gratitude and blessings”. The money
enabled the purchase of two computers and a washing machine.

“The children will benefit enormously from these  purchases. Our children will benefit just as much from being empowered to do something wonderful  for a community that may now enter their thoughts  and conscience,” Kuperholz said.

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Jewish themes at German film festival

MELBOURNE–Of all of the countries in Europe, it is not  surprising that Germany is the one whose filmmakers most consistently attempt to deal with Jewish concepts and themes.

This can be seen again in this year’s Audi  Festival of German Films, which opens this week in Australia.

Three of this year’s films have significant Jewish themes and two more include key Jewish characters.

It is often said that truth is stranger than  fiction, and the events that are dramatised in
the film Berlin 36 serve to remind us that  stories of Jewish survival are fantastically varied.

This film tells the true story of Gretel Bergmann  (played by a very luminous Karoline Herfurth), a champion German-Jewish high jumper during the  period of the 1936 Berlin Olympics.

Although Bergmann has already migrated to Britain  and become a star athlete there, she is coerced by the Nazis to return to Germany to participate  in the German Olympic team trials in the lead-up to the 1936 Games.

Under pressure from the International Olympic  Committee and a threatened American team boycott, the Germans need to be seen to be including a  Jewish athlete, so an extremely reluctant Bergmann participates in the team.

When her sympathetic coach is replaced by a  bullying Nazi, her life  becomes almost unbearable.

The film also introduces a second fascinating  (and true) complicating story: Bergmann ‘s
roommate, fellow high jumper Dora Ratjen, turns  out to be a man, recruited by the Nazis.

The film includes a short interview with the real  Gretel Bergmann, who survived the war and moved  to the US, revealing even a more astonishing  sequence of events in the following years.

The Mein Kampf film appearing in this year’s  festival is not the 1960 feature documentary with  the same name, which was reportedly the first  comprehensive documentary on the Nazi era to be widely shown in Germany at the time.

Instead, the film was made in 2009 and is a dark  comedy based on a play written by the late
Hungarian Jewish avant-garde playwright, George Tabori.

The bizarre plot of this film – which has had  only a limited cinema release outside Europe –
takes place in Vienna in 1910, when a young  painter named Adolf Hitler rents a room at a
homeless shelter, finding his roommate to be an older Jewish bookseller named Shlomo Herzl
(surely an intentional reference to Theodor Herzl, the founder of modern political Zionism).

When the young Hitler fails at painting, it is the older Jewish man who recommends that he
enters politics, and assists in the creation of his signature moustache and facial look.

Resonating Charlie Chaplin’s 1941 classic The Great Dictator (one of the few films that
successfully satirised Hitler) and out of the tradition of Life is Beautiful and Train de Vie,
this German-Swiss-Austrian co-production is recommended for those whose tastes run to European fabulism.

An interesting side note is that the “mein kampf” of the film refers not to Hitler’s notorious
anti-Semitic tract, but to the book that Shlomo Herzl wants to write. The satire may be obvious, but no less cutting.

A retrospective screening of the award-winning 1999 Golden Globe-nominated Aimee & Jaguar is also included in the festival.

Again based on a true story, this film tells the story of a German housewife and mother who falls  in love with a hidden Jewish woman during the war.

Two other festival entries feature key Jewish characters: the international Emmy Award-winning  mini-series The Wolves of Berlin charts six key characters (one of them Jewish) living in Berlin from 1948 to reunification in 1989. This four-and-a-half hour production provides a great history lesson for those fascinated by the trials of that besieged city.

And John Rabe (based on a true story of an Oskar Schindler-like character in Nanking, China) slips in star actor Daniel Bruhl (Inglourious Basterds) as a German-Jewish diplomat.

There is a great irony in John Rabe as the main character – a nominal Nazi – becomes the saviour  of many thousands of Chinese, at one point shielding them from Japanese warplanes under a large Nazi flag.

The Audi Festival of German Films has grown in popularity since it was first launched in
Australia in 2002, with more than 19,000 attending the festival last year.

It runs for two weeks in Melbourne and Sydney, with shorter programs in Adelaide, Brisbane and Perth.

  *
Israel at last for Aussie marchers

WARSAW, Poland, 22 April – Australia’s March of the Living (MOTL) contingent finally took to the skies on Wednesday (April 21), five days after it was scheduled to arrive in Israel.

Stranded in Poland following the closure of airspace as a result of an ash plume, which was
caused by the eruption of Icelandic volcano Eyjafjallajokull, the 95-strong year 11 students
and 25 staff missed Yom Hazikaron and Yom Ha’atzmaut celebrations in the Holy Land.

“They were very low but spirits are now very high. They just want to be in Israel,” MOTL
Australia director Sue Hampel said in a phone interview as the group were on route to Budapest  airport. “It has been a roller-coaster ride.”

While the contingent was tentatively booked on a number of flights — one on Friday afternoon
before Shabbat, another on Monday morning, which was later pushed back to the afternoon — all were cancelled as Polish airspace remained closed.

Late on Tuesday night Australian time (April 20), a decision was made to move the group via a 10-hour bus trip to Budapest, where a chartered El Al plane would fly them to Israel.

While slightly delayed, the aircraft finally departed at 4.30am local time on Wednesday, and
was scheduled to arrive in Israel that same morning.

“They were absolutely exuberant and over the moon that the plane was coming,” Hampel, who did not go on the march, said from Australia on April 23.

“We made the right decision because Polish airspace remains closed.”

While all the other MOTL contingents flew out of Poland late last week, the Australian and Turkish  groups had their flights cancelled.

However, they awoke to news that airspace over Europe was closed indefinitely due to the ash in the atmosphere.

“They have been beyond exemplary. They accepted the situation and made the most of what they  could do,” Anita Baker, whose husband and daughter are on the trip, said. “Sue has been
outstanding; if not for her, nothing would have happened. She has been on the phone day and night to Poland, Israel and the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade.”

Hampel commended the efforts of MOTL International, saying that board member Aharon
Tamir remained in Poland with the Australian group, while executive director Yossi Kedem “did everything possible” from Israel, including extending accommodation, food and tours.

She also praised the students, their parents, the madrichim and logistics coordinator Sam Rosenberg who accompanied the contingent.

The group will now spend four “action-packed” days in Israel, before flying home as originally scheduled on Saturday night.

Hampel said she was very proud of the efforts and the ultimate outcome.

“It’s been mad and brilliant,” she said.

While not as they had hoped and expected, the group spent Yom Hazikaron with the Polish-Jewish community and celebrated Yom Ha’atzmaut at a barbecue with members of the Turkish contingent and the local community.

Meanwhile, the travel chaos also forced the Chief Rabbi of Poland to cancel a six-day trip to
Australia. Rabbi Michael Schudrich had been due to attend various synagogue, school and charity  engagements in both Victoria and New South Wales during his visit, including tonight’s (Thursday)  launch of Magen David Adom’s 80th anniversary humanitarian aid appeal in Melbourne. The charity said it was hoping to reschedule the event for later in the year.

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Fabian is Australia bureau chief for San Diego Jewish World.  He is based in Melbourne.

Varied exhibits, speakers and activities marked Israeli Independence celebration in San Diego

April 26, 2010 Leave a comment

Rabbi Wohlgelernter and Israeli shelich Shoshi Bogoch stroll grounds of Israel Independence Festival at San Diego Jewish Academy

Donald H. Harrison

SAN DIEGO—Israeli song, Israeli dance, Israeli politics, Israeli geography, Israeli foods,  Israeli merchandise, Israeli trips… they all  were components on Sunday, April 25, of the Israel Independence Festival held on the grounds of San Diego Jewish Academy.

Shoshi Bogoch, Israeli shelicha who helped organize the festival, estimated that perhaps 2,000  San Diegans toured the multi-level Carmel Valley campus which had been transformed to a festival area with a blue and white balloon arch,  booths, games, exhibits, and an entertainment stage.

Nearly every Jewish organization and synagogue of San Diego County was represented at the one-day fair, and out-of-town Jewish organizations seeking to meet local Jews also were on hand for the 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. event.  In total there were 65 booths where information and merchandise were dispensed by vendors and community organizations.

Kolot, an Israeli singing group, entertained at festival held Sunday April 25

Among the performers was “Kolot,” (Voices), a group of Israeli civilians  who came together as a band while they were serving in the  Israel Defense Forces.  At one point, during their concert, audience members Rick Kamen, Nurit Yeshua and Miriam Plotkin, among others, broke into spontaneous Israeli dance.

Sponsored by the Israel Center of the United Jewish Federation, the Yom Ha’Atzma’ut celebration provided an opportunity “to have the whole community in one place to celebrate Israel together, to learn about Israel and to be able to meet friends from the Jewish community whom you don’t get to see every day,” Bogoch said.

Adults who brought their families were able to “educate their kids that it is important to go to an Israeli event and be part of the community,” the shelicha (emissary) added.  “ If you don’t have enough money to go to Israel, you can taste it for one day!”

Birthright alumni Michael Verga, Michael Nitzani and Rebecca Gearty in a Bedouin Tent

Among popular exhibits was a Bedouin tent erected by the Birthright/ Taglit program, which offers free ten-day trips to Israel for Jewish youth between the ages of 18 and 26 who have never taken an organized trip there before.  Three alumni of a San Diego group that made a Birthright trip in January  answered questions and told why the experiences of visiting Israel for the first time were meaningful to them. 

For Michael Verga, a high point was visiting Ha Kotel (also known as the Western Wall) and “getting the chills there.”  He said since returning to San Diego, he has been visiting various congregations, trying to decide which one might be right for him.

For Rebecca Gearty, attending a Shabbat service in a Jerusalem synagogue was moving.  In that the service was conducted entirely in Hebrew, “I had absolutely no idea what was going on, but it was so beautiful and so touching to see all this tradition and history come together.”  While not particularly interested in affiliating with a congregation at this point of her life, she said she feels a deeper connection both to Israel and to Judaism.

And Michael Nitzani said the visit was a personal revelation for him.  He explained that his mother had been divorced from his Israeli father when he was only 5, so the trip helped satisfy a long-standing curiosity about what his father’s country was like.  “It helped me rekindle a connection with my father,” he said.

Not far away, two local kosher caterers—The Place and Schmoozers—served up various grilled items, including shawarma, an Israeli/ Arab delicacy of thinly sliced meat and vegetables served inside a pita pocket.  

On the upper level, one could see items of Judaica for sale, including umbrellas bearing blue Stars of David.

Bogoch said the Israel Festival celebrating 62 years of Israeli independence had more participation of Orthodox congregations than previously, despite the fact that Yom Ha’Atzma’ut comes during the period of the counting of the Omer, traditionally a period when people refrain from merrymaking.

To accommodate those who felt the need to separate themselves from the singing and dancing, festival organizers created a “quiet area” inside one of the San Diego Jewish Academy’s buildings where lectures were featured.

Rabbi Jeffrey Wohlgelernter of Congregation Adat Yeshurun was among those who lectured on Israel, choosing as his topic the spiritual aspects of the cities of Hebron and Jerusalem.

He said that Hebron comes from a Hebrew word meaning “attached” and there is a tradition in Judaism that the Machpelah – the Cave of the Patriarchs—is where the physical and spiritual worlds of Judaism are attached.

Recalling the Torah account of three visitors advising Abraham that he and Sarah, notwithstanding their advanced age,  would have a child, Rabbi Wohlgelernter said when Abraham searched for a cow to slaughter for these holy visitors, he came across the cave, where he found the bodies of Adam and Eve – who, though dead, were not decomposed and were surrounded with candles.   In such a way, he said, the tradition links the notion of eternity – from Adam and Eve to the future generations that would be born to Sarah and Abraham.

In Hebrew, Machpelah refers to “double tombs” and those buried in the  Holy Cave, by tradition, are such biblical couples as  Adam and Eve, Abraham And Sarah, Isaac and Rebecca, and Jacob and Leah, the rabbi said.

The name “Jerusalem,” said the rabbi, invokes two concepts.  One is that of a place of completeness; the other that “God will be seen.”

He recalled that there were three festivals in which residents were enjoined to visit the Temple in Jerusalem — Pesach, Succot and Shavuot–and said when those who came from Hebron stopped in Talpiot, the area of Jerusalem today dominated by the Haas Promenade, they could see a magnificent view of the Temple complex with a pillar of smoke rising from the area at the Holy of Holies.

This pillar, the same as the one that had led Moses and the Israelites from Egyptian bondage, went straight up into the sky like a column, no matter how forceful the winds or the rains, said Wohlgelernter.  In such fashion was God seen, the rabbi said.

Israel's Deputy Consul General Gil Artzyeli holds informal discussion about Israel and the Palestinians

Another speaker was Gil Artzyeli,  Israel’s deputy consul general in Los Angeles.  In an informal question and answer session with attendees, he contrasted the physical deterioration of Gaza with the economic growth in the West Bank under Palestinian Prime Minister Salam Fayyad.  When Israel withdrew from Gaza, he noted, it left behind working greenhouses which could have been utilized by the Palestinians the very next day for the export of vegetables to Europe.  In Ramallah, on the other hand, he said Fayyad is proving himself the first Palestinian leader who wants to improve the lot of the Palestinians and not simply battle Israelis.

Although the government in the West Bank and Hamas in Gaza are bitter rivals, which makes creation of a single Palestinian state problematic, it is assumed someday the two portions of Palestine will be united.  How can the two be contiguous without severing Israel, the diplomat was asked.   He responded that one likely scenario is a “very fast bullet train” that could speed Palestinians through Israeli territory without stopping.

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Harrison is editor of San Diego Jewish World

Goldstone will attend grandson’s bar mitzvah following agreement with community

April 26, 2010 Leave a comment

 

(WJC)–The retired South African judge Richard Goldstone, who authored the controversial report into the Gaza war, will attend the bar mitzvah of his grandson despite protests from some local Jewish groups. The announcement followed an agreement brokered by the South African Jewish Board of Deputies (SAJBD).

The Goldstone report has sparked outrage in much of the Jewish world, and Goldstone – now a law professor at Georgetown University – said earlier this month that he would skip his grandson’s bar mitzvah in Johannesburg out of fear his appearance would draw protests from Jews in  South Africa.

However, he told CNN on Sunday that he had decided to attend the event after receiving assurances from SAJBD, the Jewish umbrella group in South Africa, that there would be no protests at the bar mitzvah if he agreed to meet with local Jewish groups. No date has been set yet for the meeting, but it would happen “shortly after” the bar mitzvah, SAJBD National Director Wendy Kahn told the ‘Jerusalem Post’.

“The community is very upset about the Goldstone Report. They thought it was unfair, biased and deeply flawed. And several community leaders have come out against it, mentioning specific issues with it,” she was quoted by the newspaper as saying.

Richard Goldstone told CNN: “I am delighted to be attending this important day for my grandson and my family.”

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Preceding provided by World Jewish Congress.

Democratic US senator attacks Obama’s stance on Israel

April 26, 2010 Leave a comment

(WJC)–The senior US senator from the state of New York, Charles Schumer (Dem.) has criticized the Obama administration’s handling of Israel over the housing announcement in east Jerusalem. President Obama should not have scolded Israel for approving 1,600 new housing units in the suburb of Ramat Shlomo, Schumer said. “What we disagree on is tactics. When the United States sets out conditions on Israel, the Palestinians then say we don’t want to come to the table, [thinking] the United States is doing our negotiation for us.”

Last week, Schumer had already voiced anger at the Obama administration for siding with the Palestinians. On a radio program he said: “You have to show Israel that it’s not going to be forced to do things it doesn’t want to do and can’t do,” he declared. He said he had told White House Chief of Staff Rahm Emanuel weeks ago that he would take a public stand if the State Department did not back down from its “terrible” treatment of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. “This has to stop,” Schumer said he had told the White House.

On Friday, White House spokesman Robert Gibbs responded to the senator, saying: “We don’t agree with what Sen. Schumer said in those remarks.” He stressed: “We have an unwavering commitment to the security of Israel and the Israeli people. We have said that from the beginning of this administration.”

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Preceding provided by World Jewish Congress.