Archive for June 4, 2010

Letter to Editor: Israel unprepared for Gaza flotilla terrorists

June 4, 2010 Leave a comment

Editor, San Diego Jewish World

More bad stuff centering on Gaza. Of course it was provocation and the desire for “martyrs” from the beginning. But if everyone else saw this coming, how could Israel have been so unprepared? Israel’s position was simple and clear: namely, that baring preinspection for munitions before sailing, then the ships would be permitted to disembark in Israel for inspection and then to proceed. And how could an “aid” mission not be concerned with the Israeli victim, Gilad Schalit? But an international press message cannot get through if said once, and by now, Israel should know this. The message needed daily retiteration to the international press and the UN. Now, instead, there are 9 dead people, and other injuries, including to IDF soldiers and Israel is blamed for all of it.

There is a simple message, as already spoken by others, but that needs repeating: “If first the Arabs lay down their arms there will be peace—if first Israel lays down its arms it will be destroyed.”

Arnold Flick  
La Jolla, California

Roll call on Gaza flotilla portrays the values of international community

June 4, 2010 Leave a comment

By Shoshana Bryen

Shoshana Bryen

WASHINGTON, D.C. — Israel was victimized twice this week, first by terrorists hiding yet again among the civilian population (one Turkish-sponsored jihadi boat traveling with five more-or-less civilian boats) and second by a world all too ready to blame Israel for the violence engendered by those who sought a bloody death for themselves and any Jews they could take along. By the end of the week, things began to look more normal-those who are already against remained against; those who try to split the difference split it (consider the “abstain” list below); and a few stood honorably above the rest.   

1) Italy, Netherlands and the United States voted against resolution A/HRC/14/L.1, “Grave Attacks by Israeli Forces against the Humanitarian Boat Convoy” in the UN “Human Rights” Council. It is of note that the major Italian newspapers supported Israel editorially as well. In the United States, public opinion ran strongly in Israel’s favor, as usual. 
After a nasty and public denunciation of Israel by President Sarkozy and Foreign Minister Kouchner, France abstained, probably reminded that in 1985 French commandos sunk a Greenpeace ship in what was called Opération Satanique. (You know what a threat those satanic environmentalists pose to Paris.) France was joined by Belgium, Burkina Faso, Hungary, Japan, Republic of Korea, Slovakia, Ukraine and UK.
Voting in favor of the commission whose conclusion is in its title were Angola, Argentina, Bahrain, Bangladesh, Bolivia, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Brazil, Chile, China, Cuba, Djibouti, Egypt, Gabon, Ghana, India, Indonesia, Jordan, Kyrgyzstan, Mauritius, Mexico, Nicaragua, Nigeria, Norway, Pakistan, Philippines, Qatar, Russian Federation, Saudi Arabia, Senegal, Slovenia, South Africa, and Uruguay. 
2) President Obama: He almost got it right in a TV interview, but missed the essential point. “You’ve got a situation in which Israel has legitimate security concerns when they’ve got missiles raining down on cities along the Israel-Gaza border. I’ve been to those towns and seen the holes that were made by missiles coming through people’s bedrooms. Israel has a legitimate concern there.  On the other hand, you’ve got a blockage up that is preventing people in Palestinian Gaza from having job opportunities and being able to create businesses and engage in trade and have opportunity for the future.”
The President doesn’t know, or didn’t say, that Hamas is responsible both for the attacks on Israel and for the misery of the Palestinians in Gaza. Instead, he wanted to “work with all parties concerned-the Palestinian Authority, the Israelis, the Egyptians and others-and I think Turkey can have a positive voice in this whole process once we’ve worked through this tragedy. And bring everybody together…”
Aside from the fact that Turkey is fully complicit in the incident and thus should forfeit any seat at any future table, the Palestinian Authority has not represented Gaza Palestinians since Hamas evicted it in a bloody putsch in 2007. Instead of hoping to “bring everybody together…” the President should be working to evict Hamas from Gaza, for the sake of the Palestinians as much as anyone else.
3) The Czech Republic: Small countries that know what it means to disappear when others find them inconvenient stick together and we are grateful that they do. The President of the Czech Senate, Dr. Přemysl Sobotka, told Knesset Speaker Reuven Rivlin, “As a doctor, I certainly regret any loss of life, but there is no doubt that this was a planned provocation designed to drag Israel into a trap… Many in the European community feel as I do, but they are afraid to speak out publicly… I support the position that views Hamas as a terrorist organization… It is too bad that European countries present an unbalanced position on this matter. Unfortunately, the positions of the international community are not always to my taste, particularly in Europe.”
We are reminded that 18 months ago, the Czech foreign minister issued this statement: “I consider it unacceptable that villages in which civilians live have been shelled. Therefore, Israel has an inalienable right to defend itself against such attacks. The shelling from the Hamas side makes it impossible to consider this organization as a partner for negotiations and to lead any political dialogue with it.”
And finally…
4) Mesheberach: During the Jewish Sabbath service, there is a prayer is for those who are ill or injured.   The “Mesheberach” includes the name of the person for whom the prayer is offered and, in an unusual practice, the name of the person’s mother rather than his or her father. Whether in the synagogue or not, we hope readers will remember the six soldiers injured while protecting the people of Israel:

Dean Ben (son of) Svetlana
Roee Ben (son of) Shulamit
Daniel Lazar Ben (son of) Tina Leah
Yotam Ben (son of) Dorit
Ido Ben (son of) Ilana
Boris Ben (son of) Eelaina

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.

OPINION – Menachem Rosensaft – Tell MSNBC that Pat Buchanan Is a Bigot – Huffington Post, USA

June 4, 2010 Leave a comment

(WJC)–There can be no doubt, reasonable or otherwise, that Patrick Buchanan, the erstwhile ultra-right wing presidential candidate and senior official in the Nixon and Reagan White Houses who is now an extremely well-paid political commentator on MSNBC, is a hard-core anti-Semite. I previously listed highlights of his extensive anti-Semitic record in “Patrick Buchanan: What Else Is New?” May 25, 2010; “The Nazi War Criminal and Jesus: Patrick Buchanan’s Obscene Comparison,” April 29, 2009; and “Patrick Buchanan Quacks Like a Nazi Sympathizer,” September 3, 2008.

It is often overlooked, however, that Buchanan is an equal opportunity bigot. At different times, he has also disparaged African Americans, women, and gays, among others. Jamison Foser provided an extensive inventory of Buchanan’s incendiary comments in his well-researched June 9, 2009, article on Media Matters for America, “What would Pat Buchanan have to say to get himself fired from MSNBC?”

Nuggets of Buchanan’s greatest hits taken from his syndicated columns, over and above those cited by Foser, include:
• “The War Between the States was about independence, about self-determination, about the right of a people to break free of a government to which they could no longer give allegiance. How long is this endless groveling before every cry of ‘racism’ going to continue before the whole country collectively throws up?” July 28, 1993.
• “Rail as they will about ‘discrimination,’ women are simply not endowed by nature with the same measures of single-minded ambition and the will to succeed in the fiercely competitive world of Western capitalism.” November 22, 1983.
• “Homosexuality involves sexual acts most men consider not only immoral, but filthy. The reason public men rarely say aloud what most say privately is they are fearful of being branded ‘bigots’ by an intolerant liberal orthodoxy that holds, against all evidence and experience, that homosexuality is a normal, healthy lifestyle.” “The New Morality and Barney Frank,” September 3, 1989.
• With 80,000 dead of AIDS, our promiscuous homosexuals appear literally hell-bent on Satanism and suicide.” October 17, 1990.

According to Pitchfork Pat, Old Dixie was the good side in the Civil War, women are genetically inferior, and gays are promiscuous proponents of Satanism. Alongside these Neanderthal tenets, his anti-Semitism is positively enlightened.

Moreover, as Foser accurately observed, “the most extraordinary thing about MSNBC’s continued employment of Pat Buchanan is that all of this barely scratches the surface. Anyone willing to devote a few minutes can easily find dozens, if not hundreds, more examples of flagrantly over-the-top rhetoric targeting racial and ethnic minorities, women, gays, and immigrants, among others — from the ’60s through the present day.”

On an ongoing basis, Buchanan is far more offensive than Don Imus, who was dumped by MSNBC for his racially insensitive remarks about the Rutgers University women’s basketball team, ever was. MSNBC also suspended David Shuster after he had made a single vulgar and inappropriate comment about Chelsea Clinton’s role in the 2008 primary campaign for the Democratic presidential nomination. In sharp contrast, Buchanan has never even been publicly chastened by his employers at the cable news channel.

A letter writing campaign last year by the American Gathering of Jewish Holocaust Survivors and Their Descendants after Buchanan was outed for sponsoring a Holocaust denial forum on his official website had no apparent effect. More recently, the National Jewish Democratic Council launched a petition asking Creators Syndicate, which syndicates Buchanan’s columns, to drop Buchanan as a client, but this effort also does not seem to have caused any ripples at MSNBC.

It is high time for more drastic measures.

An Internet petition calling on MSNBC to sack Buchanan – which can be found at – has so far gotten 1,500 signatures. That is woefully inadequate. If even a fraction of Huffington Post readers, their friends and their friends’ friends were to add their names to this petition, this might at long last get the attention of Phil Griffin, MSNBC’s president. Similarly, if members of synagogues, churches, mosques, as well as Jewish, African-American, gay rights and women’s rights groups, and all others who are offended by Buchanan’s rants, were to do likewise, and if this petition were also to be sent to MSNBC’s corporate sponsors, the good people at MSNBC might at the very least be moved to make Buchanan’s toxic views a topic of on-the-air discussion.

Readers of this article who consider Buchanan’s continued appearances on MSNBC distasteful are asked to sign the petition and to forward its link – – to their friends, relatives, members of religious congregations and civic groups, and anyone else they think might be receptive, with a personal request that they, too, sign on to the petition, and to ask them to pass it on in turn.

As it happens, I don’t really care if MSNBC decides to keep Buchanan on its roster. He has an absolute First Amendment right to be a racist, misogynistic, homophobic anti-Semite, and MSNBC has an equally absolute right to employ him. What MSNBC should not be allowed to get away with is passing him off as a respectable analyst rather than identifying him as its bigot in residence.

Menachem Z. Rosensaft is General Counsel of the World Jewish Congress, Adjunct Professor of Law at Cornell Law School, and Vice President of the American Gathering of Jewish Holocaust Survivors and Their Descendants.


Preceding provided by World Jewish Congress.

UN Human Rights Council condemns Israel’s “outrageous attack” and demands probe

June 4, 2010 Leave a comment

(WJC)–In Geneva, the Human Rights Council of the United Nations has adopted a resolution proposed by Pakistan, Sudan and the Palestinian delegation which calls for an independent fact-finding mission into Israel’s interception of a Gaza-bound flotilla, in which nine activists were killed. The council also approved a resolution that condemns Israel for its “outrageous attack” on the ships.

The resolution also calls on Israel to lift its blockade on Gaza. The text is similar to one passed by the council following the Gaza war in the winter of 2008-09 that led to the establishment of the controversial Goldstone commission. The resolution authorizes the president of the council to appoint members of the mission.

On Tuesday, Israeli Ambassador Leshno Yaar told the Human Rights Council that the Israeli soldiers had acted in self-defense, resorting to live fire after they were attacked by protesters on the Turkish ship Marmara. “The attack on the Israeli soldiers was beyond all doubt premeditated,” he said. Israel was justified under international law in acting against the flotilla, Yaar declared, adding that the blockade in international waters was necessary and legal.

The United States opposed the resolution. US Ambassador Eileen Donahoe said the text “rushes to judgment on a set of facts” that were only starting to emerge. “It creates an international mechanism before giving the responsible government an opportunity to investigate this incident itself and thereby risks further politicizing a sensitive and volatile situation,” she added.

The Netherlands also voted against the text with its envoy saying that the rights council’s investigation, parallel to one called for by the UN Security Council, “would not be conducive to re-launching the Middle East peace process.”

Britain and France abstained, saying they regretted that the resolution failed to reflect the language used by the Security Council which called “for a prompt, impartial, credible and transparent investigation conforming to international standards.”


Preceding provided by World Jewish Congress.

New York senator calls for better preservation of Jewish cemeteries in Europe

June 4, 2010 Leave a comment

(WJC)–Kirsten Gillibrand, the US senator for New York, has asked the Obama administration to investigate reports of neglect and vandalism at Jewish cemeteries in Europe. Gillibrand, a Democrat, listed three examples, provided by Rabbi David Niederman of the United Jewish Organizations of Williamsburg: Plans in the Lithuanian capital Vilnius to expand a sports complex over an ancient Jewish burial place; reportedly unauthorized digging at a cemetery in Krakow, Poland; and ancient catacombs in Rabat, Malta left in disarray, with some remains removed.

“We must preserve these historic cemeteries and ensure they are neither neglected nor forgotten,” Gillibrand said in a statement announcing that she was writing a letter about the matter to Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, whose Senate seat she inherited. “Moving or destroying these cemeteries would be an affront to family members of those buried there and would erase Jewish remnants from that time.”

Officials at the US Commission for the Preservation of America’s Heritage Abroad, an independent government agency that deals with Jewish properties in Europe among other issues, said they were aware of the cases and were pursuing them. Building at the Vilnius burial ground has been frozen for the time being after representations on behalf of the commission.


Preceding provided by World JewishCongress.

European Jewish Congress wants Turkish Islamist group IHH banned in Europe

June 4, 2010 Leave a comment

(WJC)–The European Jewish Congress (EJC) has called on the European Union and European governments to immediately ban the Turkish group IHH, which led one of the six Gaza Flotilla ships, and similar groups. “Organizations affiliated with and used as a front for terrorist groups like Hamas and al-Qaeda have to be outlawed with immediate effect,” said EJC President Moshe Kantor in a statement.

According to a report issued in 2006 by the Danish Institute for International Studies, the IHH maintained links with al-Qaida and a number of “global jihad networks.” The report also said that the Turkish government had launched an investigation into the IHH which began in December 1997 after receiving intelligence that the IHH had bought automatic weapons from Islamist terrorists. Following the revelation, the Turkish government launched a raid on the organization’s Istanbul offices, where they found weapons, explosives, and instructions for bomb-making. The report added that an examination of documents found at the IHH office indicated that the group was planning to take part in terrorist activities in Afghanistan, Chechnya, and Bosnia.

According to the study, a French intelligence report found that in the mid-1990s IHH leader Bülent Yildirim recruited soldiers for jihad [Muslim Holy War] activities in a number of Islamic countries, and that the IHH transferred money, firearms, and explosives to jihadists in said countries. “It is evident that the IHH has been an organization long associated with terror and global Jihad” Kantor continued.  “Such organizations need to be immediately exposed so Europeans will not be deceived into believing that they are a legitimate humanitarian organization.”

It had become clear that this flotilla did not have a humanitarian goal when its organizers rejected repeated calls to pass their aid through Egypt or Israel, the EJC said in a statement.


Preceding provided by World Jewish Congress.

Kosher slaughtering banned in New Zealand

June 4, 2010 Leave a comment

(WJC)–New Zealand has banned the kosher slaughtering of animals, the Shechita. The country’s new animal welfare code, which took effect last week, mandates that all animals for commercial consumption be stunned prior to slaughter to ensure that they are treated “humanely and in accordance with good practice and scientific knowledge.”

The new rules were rejected by New Zealand’s Jewish community. “This decision by the New Zealand government, one which has a Jewish prime minister, is outrageous,” said Rabbi Moshe Gutnick, acting president of the Organization of Rabbis of Australasia. “We will be doing everything possible to get this decision reversed.”

Gutnick, who travels frequently to New Zealand to oversee Shechita, added: “One of the last countries I would have expected to bring in this blatantly discriminatory action would have been New Zealand.”

David Zwartz, chairman of the Wellington Jewish Council and a former head of the country’s Jewish community council, declared: “I am sure there will objections made that this action is an infringement of the right of Jews to observe their religion.”

Agriculture Minister David Carter rejected a recommendation that kosher slaughtering practices be exempted from the new code. The National Animal Welfare Advisory Committee did recommend a dispensation for in 2001, but the new code does not allow any exemptions.


Preceding provided by World Jewish Congress.

Six Torah scrolls stolen from synagogue in Belgium

June 4, 2010 Leave a comment

(WJC)–Six Torah scrolls have been stolen from one of the main synagogues in Antwerp, Belgium. According to the Jewish magazine ‘Joods Actueel’, members of the Antwerp community were shocked to find on Saturday morning  that the synagogue, located at the Osstenstraat, had been broken into.
The burglars apparently broke into the shul through a side building and proceeded to open the Holy Ark and steal the Torah scrolls. Pinkhas Kornfeld, secretary of Antwerp’s Jewish community, suggested that the burglars “perhaps had inside information.”

“These books are worth a lot of money, more than € 30,000 [US$ 36,000] each, and this is why they were apparently stolen. The investigation has just begun, and so far we don’t know anything,” Kornfeld said.

One of the Torah scrolls is more than 200 years old. During World War II, a woman who had been deported to a concentration camp brought the Torah with her and hid it all the time. The synagogue was about to be renovated in order to enhance security at the building.

Antwerp is home to 20,000 Jews, most of whom are Orthodox.


Preceding provided by World Jewish Congress.

Iran has enough material to build two nuclear bombs, IAEA reports says

June 4, 2010 Leave a comment

(WJC)–According to media reports, a new report by the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) in Vienna reveals that Iran has now amassed enough fissile material to build two nuclear bombs, if it chooses to enrich its uranium stockpile to a weapons-grade level. In its report to the UN Security Council, the IAEA also says that Iran continues to deny its inspectors access to nuclear facilities. The report says that Tehran has continued to evade questions over evidence of weapons work while improving its uranium enrichment capabilities.

Iran began enriching uranium to a higher degree following its rejection of an IAEA-sponsored proposal in October 2009 under which Tehran would have shipped most of its nuclear fuel stocks abroad in return for 20 percent-enriched fuel rods. Western countries and Russia backed that deal in the hope that it would delay the moment when Iran amassed enough fuel to be able to build a nuclear bomb. Iran rejected the deal then, but recently revived it with the backing of Turkey and Brazil, offering to ship the material to Turkey in the hope of forestalling any attempt to impose sanctions. The new report suggests, however, that the amount agreed – 1,200 kilograms –  would still leave Iran with enough material for one bomb.

China called on Iran to improve its cooperation with the UN nuclear watchdog. “We hope Iran will further step up cooperation with the IAEA and resolve the pending issues at an early date,” a Foreign Ministry spokesman said in Beijing.

Meanwhile, the IAEA report also states that Syria has revealed some details of past nuclear experiments to IAEA inspectors but is still blocking access to a desert site where secret atomic activity may have taken place. “Such access is essential to enable the agency to establish the facts and make progress in its verification,” IAEA chief Yukiya Amano it the report.


Preceding provcided by World Jewish Congress.

San Diego’s Historic Places: Mingei International Museum

June 4, 2010 Leave a comment


Nakashima table at Mingei International Museum, Balboa Park

By Donald H. Harrison

Donald H. Harrison

SAN DIEGO–Outside the Mingei International Museum in Balboa Park stand two large, fanciful sculptures by Niki de Saint Phalle, an internationally celebrated sculptor who lived in La Jolla in the final
years of her life. One created in 1998 from glass, stones, mirrors and polyester, called “Poet and
Muse,” depicts a male poet with a female muse on his shoulders, his arms transforming into her legs.

The other, playfully called a “Nikigator,” is an elongated, exagerrated alligator made from similar materials and sitting on playground foam, a delightful magnet for preschoolers who can scamper through the Nikigator’s innards.

“Poet and Muse” is a tribute to the creative process that drives the folk artists and craftspeople whose works are on exhibit at the Mingei,whereas the “Niki-gator” matches the museum’s theme, which is celebration of artisans who turn everyday objects into works of art through their care and talent. Playground equipment could simply be functional, but not in Saint Phalle’s world. This piece, intended to be touched, caressed and climbed upon by tykes, is a stimulus for the young imagination.

Saint Phalle’s works are exhibited throughout the world, and especially in San Diego County. “Coming Together” is a large circular piece outside the downtown San Diego Convention Center; “Queen Califia’s Magic Circle” is in Kit Carson Park in Escondido, and” Sun God” is a prominent feature on the UCSD campus. Saint-Phalle also has an entire menagerie of imaginative, fanciful animals on permanent exhibit at the Jerusalem Zoo.

Inside Balboa Park’s re-created House of Charm, built in its original incarnation for the 1915 Panama-California Exhibition, the Mingei held a major restrospective of Saint Phalle’s work.  Following her death in 2002, what had been a planned as another exhibit for her at the Mingei’s smaller facility in Escondido, was transformed into a tribute to her life and works.

Saint-Phalle and the museum’s founder, Martha Longenecker, were close friends. Saint Phalle not only was represented in the museum’s collection, she became one of its important financial benefactors. One day, according to Martha Ehringer, the museum’s public relations director, Saint Phalle told Longenecker she wanted to purchase for the museum any piece it wanted. Thrilled, Longenecker suggested a grand piano. But Saint Phalle decided anyone with sufficient funds could make such a gift, she wanted something much finer, much more memorable. So she commissioned a long table suitable for board meetings to be made by Mira Nakashima at the Nakashima Woodshop in New Hope, Pennsylvania, and purchased 18 chairs fashioned by Mira’s father, the late master woodworker George Nakashima– two chairs to be placed at each end of the table, and seven along each side.

Doug Smalheer, a docent who taught U.S. history for 40 years, a majority of that time at San Diego’s Mesa College, is enamored of the table and chairs, and tells the story of Nakashima’s life and works with all the zest of one describing Washington crossing the Delaware, or Lincoln signing the Emancipation Proclamation.

Nakashima grew up in Seattle, Washington, and earned a master’s degree in architecture from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. He went overseas to France, Japan, and India after graduation, becoming an admirer of Eastern thought and religion. Not long after he returned to the United States, Japan bombed Pearl Harbor, and as a Japanese-American he was resettled in a camp in Idaho, where he practiced carpentry before being permitted to relocate to the arts colony at New Hope, Pennsylvania, where his family still lives.

Smalheer explained that Nakashima believed that a tree was intended to be a tree — and that therefore artisans who must transform it to other uses should to the greatest extent possible honor the tree’s original purpose. If one follows the edge of the table from one end to the other, it is not in a straight line, but instead maintains the original contour of the tree. It flares at one end, where its roots might have begun, and it bulges slightly at the other, where its branches might have originated.

After being felled, the tree had been sliced lengthwise, but not entirely severed, so that its front and back could be laid side by side while still connected. These halves were reinforced by Nakashima in several places by wood patches described variously as “bow ties” or “butterflies.” Although he was not the first to use the technique, they were a trademark of Nakashima’s. Smalheer tells a story about a collector who ordered a table like Nakashima’s. The artisan emphasized its grain and its natural contours, but the patron was dissatisfied. He wouldn’t finalize the purchase until the artisan put in the butterfly patches.

The Nakashima conference table and chairs are found upstairs amid the museum’s permanent collection. Ehringer said the museum has collected many more works than it ever can display at one time, even with two museum locations–and this is especially true because exhibits from around the world are continually being rotated in and out of the museum.

Another exhibit from the permanent collection displays 56 Chinese hat boxes in what Ehringer describes as a Xanadu type setting. Uniforms were required of officials serving the Qing Dynasty — the last dynasty to rule China — and these uniforms included hats. Depending on the office, the hats were of different shapes, with all being adorned with badges of office.

Families saved the hats in their boxes through the rise of Sun Yat Sen, and Chiang Kai Shek. But after the Communists took control of the mainland–and especially during the Cultural Revolution — being proud that family members served the Imperial Household could bring suspicion, even censure, upon the owners of these hats. So the hats either were destroyed or hidden. But the boxes were kept, because they still had utilitarian purposes — things could be stored in them. And it was these boxes that were collected by exhibition designer Peter Cohen, and eventually donated to the Mingei.

Tables, chairs, hat boxes — these are every day objects, and yet those at the Mingei Museum are exquisite in their beauty. For a visit to the Mingei to be properly enjoyed, one should schedule enough time to survey the objects and savor their stories.

Harrison is editor of San Diego Jewish World.  This article appeared previously on