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Decision to cut Brooklyn College out of will causes a stir

August 31, 2010 1 comment

By Bruce Kesler

Bruce Kesler

ENCINITAS, California — Since last Friday, when I wrote Why I Just Disinherited My Alma Mater,  the post has had “legs” about what I and others say is politicized indoctrination as official college policy.

Brooklyn College requires incoming freshmen and transfer students to read an absurdly slanted book that Arab-Americans are routinely rousted by law enforcement and discriminated against, which the author attributes to racism akin to Jim Crow discrimination against Blacks a century ago and due to American imperialism. Somehow, according to college authorities, this is supposed to create a beneficial, educational “common experience.”

Glenn Reynolds’ InstaPundit blog, which is read by about 200,000 each day, linked my post and on successive days two posts by others about my post. By contrast, my hometown San Diego Union-Tribune’s daily circulation  is about 250,000. Many other blogs also picked up on my post.
Today, the New York Daily News, circulation about 570,000, reported the story after interviewing me: “Alum to cut Brooklyn College out of will over required freshman reading by ‘radical’ prof” Moustafa Bayoumi.

     “Bayoumi did not return a call for comment.”

      In a statement, Brooklyn College said it was “regrettable that Mr. Bruce Kesler misunderstands the intentions of the Common Reader experience and the broader context of this selection.”

The National Association of Scholars wrote, however, that Brooklyn College does not understand, or understands all too well, the Common Reading Controversy at Brooklyn College.

      We agree with those who find the assignment of this polemical book as common reading troubling. While much of How Does It Feel to be a Problem? seems a straightforward telling of stories, its central purpose is clear. It aims to establish Arab and Muslim Americans as victims and indict American society for making them so.  By assigning this book as the sole one to be read by incoming undergraduates, most of whom will have little of the knowledge needed to evaluate its claims, Brooklyn College opens itself to the charge that it is using what should be an important education experience for ideological goals – a charge which the evidence of our study indicates could be made against a great many other colleges and universities as well.

Many readers have written about their “common experience” in indoctrination at their colleges. It is getting harder for slanted — indeed, blatant — indoctrination to hide behind ivy-covered walls. The reactions continue and builds.

P.S.: I just received this email from a former classmate:

        I also had it with Brooklyn College and their attitude regarding Israel. I’m a retired N.Y.C teacher. I retired after 33 years in the system in 2001. I joined IRPE- a retiree organization at the college. I attended one of their lectures concerning the middle east. When we walked in, we were given maps of various mid-east countries. The so called conference became a hate session regarding eretz Yisroel. 3 speakers got up and one by one they denounced Israel. No one was allowed to respond to them. People walked out cursing them. When I wrote a letter to the college, they denied all of this. I left IRPE and would not contribute one further penny to the institution. Having worked, I graduated in 1969 and am the class representative for that year.
Congratulations on taking a stand.

IRPE is Brooklyn College’s Institute for Retirees in Pursuit of Education. 

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Kesler is a freelance writer based in Encinitas, California.  His posts also appear on the Maggie’s Farm website

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San Diego’s former Laurie Wohl is located in New York City

August 31, 2010 Leave a comment

Editor, San Diego Jewish World

I recently asked for your readers’ help in locating a high school classmate of mine, Laurie Phyllis Wohl, who lived in the Kensington neighborhood of San Diego and graduated Hoover High School in 1960.  I know her mother was active in Temple Beth Israel.

I found Laurie!  I asked the Wellesley College Alumni Group to forward my contact info and I got an email from her today.  So first, thank you for your offer of assistance in locating Laurie.

Second,  you and your readers may want to visit her professional website to see her magnificent work as a world renowned textile designer.  She has incorporated elements of her Jewish faith in some of her works and has a very impressive list of commissions and showings  around the world.  She graduated Sarah Lawrence College and Colombia Law School and lives in New York City with her husband, Stephen Schulhofer, a professor of law at NYU.   Some of your readers may remember Laurie and her parents from their years here in San Diego.

Thank you again for responding to my request.  This has been a wonderful day for me!

Linda Mohr Crogan
katokat@san.rr.com

Q & A with George Mitchell on upcoming peace talks

August 31, 2010 Leave a comment

WASHINGTON, D.C. (Press Release) — The White House released the following transcript of a news briefing Tuesday by Special Envoy George Mitchell on the upcoming Middle East Peace process:

SENATOR MITCHELL: Good morning, ladies and gentlemen.
 
     Last week Secretary of State Clinton invited President Abbas and Prime Minister Netanyahu to Washington on September 2nd to resume direct negotiations to resolve all final status issues.  We believe these negotiations can be completed within one year.

     As you know, both have accepted.  They will have bilateral meetings with President Obama tomorrow, as will President Mubarak of Egypt and King Abdullah of Jordan.  The four leaders then will join President Obama for dinner at the White House to help launch these discussions.

Egypt and Jordan have a critical role to play, and their continued leadership and commitment to peace will be essential to success.

After the bilateral meetings, the President will make a public statement, and then just prior to the dinner, the President and the other leaders will make public statements.

     On Thursday, Secretary of State Clinton will convene a meeting at the State Department between Prime Minister Netanyahu, President Abbas and their delegations, following which I will provide a readout to the press.

     Since the beginning of this administration, we’ve worked with the Israelis, the Palestinians and our international partners to advance the cause of comprehensive peace in the Middle East, including two-state solution, which ensures security and dignity for Israelis and Palestinians.

     We’re pleased that negotiations will be relaunched after a hiatus of more than a year and a half.  And we will engage with perseverance and patience to try to bring them to a successful conclusion.

     Thank you.  And with that, I’ll be glad now to take your questions.

     Q    Sir, can you put the negotiations in the context of the unfreezing of the settlement moratorium, and how much of it — how important that deadline is, whether or not you guys are counting on Ehud Barak to not approve settlements going forward or whether you expect that settlements will commence once again?

     SENATOR MITCHELL:  Our position on settlements is well known, and it remains unchanged.  We’ve always made clear that the parties should promote an environment that is conducive to negotiations.

     As Secretary of State Clinton has said, as we move forward it’s important that actions by all sides help to advance our effort, not hinder it.

     Q    Do you expect that the settlement freeze will continue, or what are the Israelis telling you in terms of if negotiations are still going on on the 26th, whether they will continue the freeze?

     SENATOR MITCHELL:  Our discussions continue with both sides, and they are consistent with and comprise in part the points that I just made.

     Q    Senator, as you know, there’s so much pessimism in the region that they talk about failure more than success.  And many people believe that Prime Minister Netanyahu was tested in 1996 and he did everything to destroy the peace process.  Now they enter in this phase of negotiation where there’s no, like, timetable, there’s no, really, preconditions.  So what makes you optimistic that anything is going to substantially come out of it? 

     And if I may, something else.  The President talked about in the beginning of the administration about comprehensive peace talks, on two tracks.  But now we’ve seen two leaders from the region being invited, and that excluded Syria.  So why Syria was not on the table?

     SENATOR MITCHELL:  With respect to opinion in the
region, by coincidence I just received last evening from Shibley Telhami, who is at the University of Maryland and with whom I consult regularly, among others, for advice and counsel, some key findings from polls taken in conjunction with the Zogby polling organization in six countries in the region:  Egypt, Saudi Arabia, Jordan, Morocco, Lebanon and the United Arab Emirates.

     Among the key findings are that over 80 percent of Arabs polled are still in principle open to the two-state solution; also, that if and when a two-state solution were to come about, a plurality of those polled — 39 percent — believed it would happen through negotiations, and only 16 percent believed that it would come about through another war or conflict.

     And finally, those polls, the respondents, believed that if prospects for the two-state solution collapse, a majority of those polled believed that the result would be intense conflict for years to come.

     Now, I believe that it is an awareness of these and other realities by the two leaders and their leadership that there is a window of opportunity, a moment in time within which there remains the possibility of achieving the two-state solution, which is so essential to comprehensive peace in the region, that difficult as it may be for both leaders, and we recognize that difficulty for both of them, the alternatives for them and the members of their societies pose far greater difficulties and far greater problems in the future.

     And so having spent much of the time that I served in this position in the region, meeting with these leaders and with many, many others in both societies, I think it is that general recognition combined with the presence, the patience, the perseverance and the commitment of President Obama, Secretary of State Clinton and the leaders of this administration that have persuaded these leaders to take this step which, as I acknowledged and repeat, is difficult for them in many respects — because their societies are divided, not just the Arab nations to whom I referred in these polls, but Israeli and Palestinian society.

     With respect to Syria, our efforts continue to try to engage Israel and Syria in discussions and negotiations that would lead to peace there and also Israel and Lebanon.

     You will recall that when the President announced my appointment two days after he entered office, he referred to comprehensive peace and defined it as Israel and Palestinians, Israel and Syria, Israel and Lebanon, and Israel at peace with and having normal relations with all of its Arab neighbors.  And that remains our objective.

     Q    I was wondering if you could tell us more about what comes after September the 2nd in terms of further meetings?  Is there any sense that while the parties are committed to a process, is there any sense of how you’re going to conduct the next round of talks?  And are you expecting there will always be an American presence in the room, or are you going to let the two parties sit together and call on you when needed?

     SENATOR MITCHELL:  I’ll answer the second question first.  The United States will play an active and sustained role in the process.  That does not mean that the United States must be physically represented in every single meeting.  We recognize the value of direct, bilateral discussion between the parties and, in fact, will encourage that between the two leaders on a regular basis.

     On the other hand, it does not mean that the United States will simply stand aside and not participate actively.  We will operate in a manner that is reasonable and sensible in the circumstances which exist, but the guiding principle will be an active and sustained United States presence.

     Q    At what point did you —

     SENATOR MITCHELL:  Oh, I’m sorry.

     Q    What comes after September the 2nd?

     SENATOR MITCHELL:  We hope to proceed promptly on an intensive basis with the parties.  Prime Minister Netanyahu has stated privately and publicly that he hopes to meet with President Abbas about every two weeks.  We think that’s a sensible approach, which we hope is undertaken and that, in addition to that, there will be meetings at other levels on a consistent basis.

     Indeed, we have had extensive preparatory meetings with the two sides last week and yesterday and today and continuing through tomorrow, right up until the time when the two sides get together.  And so we want to maintain this — we want to establish this process going forward and to maintain it in an intense way at several levels of engagement.

     Q    At what point during the proximity talks you realized the two parties are ready for direct talks?  And everybody realizes during these future talks that Hamas will be the elephant in the room.  How confident are you that these talks will succeed and will achieve the two-state solution while excluding Hamas?

     SENATOR MITCHELL:  Once again, let me take the questions in reverse order, if I might.  We do not expect Hamas to play a role in this immediate process.  But as Secretary of State Clinton and I have said publicly many times, while in the Middle East and in the United States, we welcome the full participation by Hamas and all relevant parties once they comply with the basic requirements of democracy and nonviolence that are, of course, a prerequisite to engage in these serious types of discussions.

     There has been a good deal of a discussion about references to Northern Ireland, and I have repeatedly been asked by reporters and individuals when I make public appearances, well, Senator, you talk to the IRA in Northern Ireland, but don’t you talk to Hamas here.  The questions reflect an incomplete understanding of what occurred in Northern Ireland and its relationship to this situation. 

     So, first, let me say they’re very different.  It’s not useful to try to make direct comparisons because the participants, the circumstances, the situation, the timing are all very different.  And while we should learn what we can from other processes, each is unique.

     But on the central point, the reality is that in Northern Ireland, Sinn Féin, the political party that is affiliated with the IRA, did not enter the negotiations until after 15 months had elapsed in the negotiations, and only then because they met two central conditions that had been established.  The first was a ceasefire, and the second was a publicly stated commitment to what came to be known as the Mitchell Principles because I was the chairman of the commission that established them. 

     And those commitments included — I’ll just quote briefly from them — a commitment to democratic and exclusively peaceful means of resolving political issues; a commitment to renounce for themselves and to oppose any efforts by others to use force or threaten to use force to influence the course or the outcome of the negotiations; and finally a commitment to agree to abide by the terms of any agreement reached in negotiations and to resort to democratic and exclusively peaceful methods in trying to alter any aspect of that outcome with which they may disagree.

     So there are analogous — not identical and not directly comparable — conditions that have been set forth by the Quartet with respect to Hamas.  And if there is movement to accept those principles, as occurred with Sinn Féin and the IRA in Northern Ireland, why then, of course, they would be welcome.  And we would want them to participate in those circumstances.  So I want to make clear in that regard what our position is.

     Go ahead, I’m sorry.  Did you want to follow up?

     Q    At what point in the proximity talks you realized that —

     SENATOR MITCHELL:  Please keep in mind that when we began the proximity talks, I stated publicly in announcing them that the purpose was to provide a transition into direct negotiations, to encourage the parties to establish the conditions and reach the conclusion that this would be the best to accomplish. 
The circumstances were such that before we reached the four-month period which had been established for a review of those proximity talks by the Arab League Follow-up Committee, we felt that following the President’s personal meeting with President Abbas in June and his personal meeting with Prime Minister Netanyahu in July, and his direct discussions with them, that the opportunity existed to make the transition from proximity to direct talks at an earlier time.  As it turns out, the time is very nearly consistent with the four-month period that had been established.

     Q    Yes, sir, Senator Mitchell.  We’ve seen — we’ll see that President Obama will be taking a direct personal role tomorrow in the bilateral talks and the dinner with the leaders.  But going forward, how much of a personal engagement will we see from the President?  Will he be ready step in himself to help bridge any differences?  Would he possibly be looking at another meeting, a trilateral meeting at the U.N. General Assembly at the end of the month?  And what about a trip to the region that he’s talked about in the past?

     SENATOR MITCHELL:  The President has been engaged personally from the very beginning.  As you may recall, on January 21st of 2009, less than 24 hours after taking office, the first calls he made to foreign leaders were to leaders in this region.  And on the following day, he announced my appointment.

     Please do not confuse personal engagement exclusively with public activities, because as you know, there’s a lot that a President does that isn’t in the public arena but that is a very — represents very active participation. 

     With respect to all of the items that you mentioned, I’m certain that what the President will do will make a judgment based upon the circumstances at the time, the reasonableness and the necessity of his participation, and will continue to be fully and actively a participant in the process, as necessary.  He has many, many important obligations, but he places a high priority on comprehensive peace in the Middle East.

      Q    Senator, good to see you.  Two questions.  The one-year deadline, does that reflect what the parties have communicated to you and others what they believe is possible, or is the one-year deadline meant to create a sense of urgency and place them in a calendar that sorts of tries to apply a bit of pressure?  That’s one question.

     The second question is, of course these talks occur in a larger security context for Israel as it relates to Iran.  There are national security questions facing Israel and there will be diplomatic implications to whatever they do or do not decide.  Can you give us any sense of how this larger context, the question of Iran, and what may or may not happen, could in any way shape the outcome of these talks?   

     SENATOR MITCHELL:  The latter is obviously an issue of high importance, not just to Israel and the United States but to all of the countries in the region and indeed around the world, and has been the subject of intensive activity at the United Nations and elsewhere.  I think you would be better served if I deferred on that to those who are directly involved in the specific formulation and implementation of policy toward Iran.

     But I can say, with respect to this conflict, it is an important issue.  I was struck that when I first went to the region last year, I took out and reviewed the report that I had authored in 2001 and President Bush as chairman of what came to be known as the Sharm el-Sheikh commission regarding the conflict.  And I read it through quickly, but I found no reference to Iran.  And yet on my first visit and subsequent visits, during which I met with the leaders of, I believe, 14 or 15 countries in the region, without exception Iran was included in the conversation.  And in most of them, it was the first or second item mentioned.  So clearly that is an important issue and one which has an impact on this process.
     
What was the first part?

     Q    The one-year deadline.

     SENATOR MITCHELL:  Yes.  During his visit to the United States in July, Prime Minister Netanyahu in a public statement, not at the time of the meeting in the White House, said that he believed this could be done within one year.  And we were pleased to hear him say that, and President Abbas has privately expressed to me his view that he does not want this to drag out, that he wants to get it done as soon as possible.  And I would let him speak for himself.  But he has provided us with an indication that he wants to move as soon as possible.
   
     People ask whether the long history of negotiation has been beneficial or harmful.  It’s actually been both, in some respects.  Beneficial in the sense that this has been discussed so often that people have a good sense of what the principal issues are and how they might be resolved; harmful in the sense that it’s created attitudes among many in the region that it’s a never-ending process, that it’s gone on for a very long time and will go on forever.  So it’s very important to create a sense that this has a definite concluding point.  And we believe that it can be done and we will do everything possible, with perseverance and patience and determination, to see that it is done.
   
  Q    You mentioned the long, rich history of U.S. mediation in the peace process.  There have been any number of frameworks under which these talks have taken place in the past — the road map, the Tenet agreement, the “shelf agreement,” Annapolis.  Assuming that you’re not going into this sort of winging it, can you give us some sense of which parts of those frameworks you’ve adopted?  Give us a little review of the framework you’re using for these talks.

     SENATOR MITCHELL:  What we’ve tried to do is to avoid a slavish adherence to the past while trying to learn what might have been improved in the past, what worked, what didn’t work.  And so we have avoided deliberately any specific label or identification that this is a continuation of process A or B or C. 
Rather, what we want to do is to learn what we can from those and take the best of them.  And they include, in my judgment, frequent direct contact between the leaders, between the Prime Minister of Israel and the President of the Palestinian Authority. 

Secondly, active and sustained United States participation so that we are not on some distant sideline cheering the parties on without active participation, but at the same time we recognize that this is a bilateral negotiation, and in the end the parties must make this decision by and for themselves.

Thirdly, maintaining broad international support, which is critical.  I have been to the region many, many times, and that’s all been widely reported.  What has been less widely reported is that on most of my trips, I stop in Europe and in other places on the way over and back.  I’ve made many visits to Brussels, to European capitals and to the United Nations.  We think it important that there be a broad basis of international support.  We take seriously the Quartet’s role, and that’s reflected in Prime Minister Blair’s presence at the diner tomorrow evening. 

And finally, it is to try very hard to create an atmosphere that is conducive to success and positive development of the process.  That’s not easy.  There is a free and vigorous press in the societies that are involved — here as well, as there should be.  There’s a constant back-and-forth, and conflict and sensational statements, of course, generally get quick and widespread coverage.  But we think it’s very important that they establish some degree of confidence in the sincerity and the seriousness of purpose of each other so that they can begin to contemplate the very difficult decisions that each of them will have to make if we’re going to achieve success in the process.

     Q    What’s your estimate, Senator, of the sincerity of purpose on each side?  Following up on Major’s question, many people in the region see the one-year deadline as simply a way of running out the clock.

     SENATOR MITCHELL:  Well, we can’t avoid the fact that many people in the region disagree with one or more aspects of this.  Indeed, I think it’s fair to say that if you took every sentence that I’ve uttered today and spent 24 hours, you could find someone in the region who disagreed with some part of it or all of it.  That’s just the reality.  This is a conflict of longstanding, very deeply held views, very strong emotions, high level of mistrust, and therefore sharply divided.

     So if — anybody who wants never to be challenged or face confrontation ought not to get involved in this process because that’s just the reality.  And we have to do our best in a realistic way to try to create the conditions, imperfect in all circumstances, that will enable them to go forward.

     What was the other part of it, Bill?

     Q    The people in the region seeing the one-year timeline as a way of running out the clock.

     SENATOR MITCHELL:  Yes, yes.  Well, we don’t — we disagree with that.  We think it is realistic.  We think it can be done.  We recognize that there are many — indeed, many very knowledgeable and experienced people who hold a different view.  And there are also many who aggressively advocate the view that this can’t be done and shouldn’t be done — on both sides — in public statements and public advocacy.

     But in my judgment, what it really comes down to in the end is what is best for the people of Israel and what is best for the Palestinian people.

     And I believe that a strong and persuasive and convincing argument can be made and must be made by us and others that a peaceful resolution, which ends this conflict, which ends all claim, which creates a viable, democratic, contiguous Palestinian state living side by side in peace with Israel is in their best interest.  And the alternative to that, of the possibility of continuing conflict into the indefinite future, is far more problematic. 

So thank you all very much. 

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Preceding transcript was provided by the White House. The briefing was conducted prior to reports being made public of Hamas murdering four Israelis in Kiryat Arba.

Lecture series will cover documentary hypothesis of Bible authorship

August 31, 2010 Leave a comment

SAN DIEGO (Press Release)–The Agency for Jewish Education announces a 2-part lecture series with Noah Hadas beginning on September 14th. The title of the class is “Who Wrote The Bible?”

Why do there appear to be two creation stories in Genesis? Why did Abraham ask Sarah to pretend to be his sister two different times? How many animals of each species did Noah bring onto the ark? These questions will lead us to consider the Documentary Hypothesis, the scholarly assertion that the Torah is a compilation of separate sources. In this class, we will begin to untangle these sources and shed light on some of the Torah’s most puzzling stories.

Morning (10-11:30am) and evening (7-8:30pm) sessions are offered. This class meets at the Lawrence Family JCC, 4126 Executive Dr., La Jolla, CA 92037. Tuition is $10. For more information or to register, contact the Agency for Jewish Education, (858) 268-9200 ext.102 or visit AJE’s website.

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Preceding provided by the Agency for Jewish Education in San Diego

U.S. policy on Israel, Palestinians may prove as troublesome at that toward Iraq

August 31, 2010 Leave a comment
By Ira Sharkansky

Ira Sharkansky

JERUSALEM–The 7 PM discussion on one of the major networks focused on what several commentators agreed were amateurish preparations for the Washington summit. The principals were still jockeying against one another, rather than acting as if the outline of an agreement had been hammered out in preliminary discussions. Americans seemed unsure about what would happen, and what they should do.

Palestinians have recorded statements meant to assure the Israeli public of their good intentions, but except for an occasional mention about them, those statements have not made it to Israeli media. 
The headline on the 8 PM news was that four Israelis, including a pregnant woman and her husband, were killed in a roadside ambush near the settlement of Kiryat Arba. Hamas was quick to  applaud the action.
The IDF has closed off Hebron and a nearby Palestinians village, and has begun going from house to house. A surgical extraction of the bad guys would be ideal, but even if that happens there is likely to be friction that works its way up to protests about occupation by ranking Palestinians. 
The area around Kiryat Arba and the adjacent Hebron is home to Israeli and Palestinian extremists who feed off one another. Most likely the instigators of this violence came from the area, and planned to kill there in order to trigger an escalation that would serve them and their Israeli counterparts. How else to damage the talks both groups oppose?
Baruch Goldstein lived in Kiryat Arba. He was the American born physician immortalized by like thinking people for killing 29 Muslims while they were praying in the mosque of the Cave of the Patriarchs in 1994. While the IDF patrols will be told to be wary of provoking Palestinian civilians in this time of political sensitivity, the folks of Kiryat Arba and nearby settlements will not care who they attack, if they can evade efforts of Israeli security forces to keep them away from Palestinians.
Only this morning (Tuesday), the New York Times correspondent in Israel described the progress made by Palestinians in the West Bank, which has brought them to the outlines of a state. One of his paragraphs quoted a Western security official who praised the Palestinians for imposing a level of control superior to anything they had been able to achieve in the past. However, he also commented in a way that makes this evening’s attack less than a surprise. 

“A Western security official . . . said Israeli interventions and troop numbers could and should be cut further. But he thought that the Palestinian forces, while making progress, were not yet able to take control.”

Also today, Paul Wolfowitz wrote an op-ed piece in the New York Times in which he compared the war he promoted in Iraq with the earlier war in Korea. He noted that large segments of the American public opposed both wars. He credits the Korean war for the subsequent peace and prosperity of South Korea, and is optimistic that a similar scenario can occur in Iraq.
One can hope so, just as one can hope that the American operation for Israel and Palestine will produce something good. But while I am pretty sure that Wolfowitz will not heed what I say, I would urge him to consider the element of Islam. It was not present in Korea, or among the Russian or Chinese supporters of North Korea, but is built into the fabric of Iraq. It is part of a culture that features bloody hostility between clans and tribes that is only partly a result of the historic enmity between Shiite and Sunni. Iran’s supplies arms and inspiration to Hamas and Hizbollah. Iraq is even closer and no less important to the Ayatollahs.

American headlines are featuring a presidential speech scheduled to mark the end of American combat operations in Iraq. Expectations are that he will not boast about unblemished success. 

Defense Secretary Gates has warned against  “premature victory parades or self-congratulations” with respect to Iraq, and has been less than optimistic about success in Afghanistan. 
A similar tone would be appropriate for the speeches at the Israel and Palestine ceremony.

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Sharkansky is professor emeritus of political science at Hebrew University

White House, Jewish groups condemn Hamas murder of 4 Israelis

August 31, 2010 Leave a comment

 
WASHINGTON, D.C  (Press Release)– The following statement was issued by White House Press Secretary Robert Gibbs.

“The United States condemns in the strongest possible terms the terrorist attack today perpetrated by Hamas in which four Israelis were killed in the southern West Bank. We express our condolences to the victims’ families and call for the terrorists behind this horrific act to be brought to justice. 

“We note that the Palestinian Authority has condemned this attack.  On the eve of the re-launch of direct negotiations between Israelis and Palestinians, this brutal attack underscores how far the enemies of peace will go to try to block progress.  It is crucial that the parties persevere, keep moving forward even through difficult times, and continue working to achieve a just and lasting peace in the region that provides security for all peoples.”

The murders also prompted press releases from the following organizations:

Anti-Defamation League: “Today’s killings of four Israelis, including a pregnant woman, in the West Bank shows that Hamas ‘is unrepentantly engaged in terrorism and violence, and dedicated to the eradication of the State of Israel.’

“The four were traveling in a car outside of the Israeli settlement of Kiryat Arba when they were fired upon.   Hamas claimed responsibility for the shooting.
    
Robert G. Sugarman, ADL National Chair, and Abraham H. Foxman, ADL National Director, issued the following statement:
 
“We strongly condemn Hamas for the murder of four innocent Israelis in Kiryat Arba.
 This attack demonstrates once and again that Hamas is unrepentantly engaged in terrorism and violence, and dedicated to the eradication of the State of Israel. The fact that, according to reports, thousands of people in Gaza joined in a public celebration of the attack is grotesque. We call on Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas and the Palestinian Authority leadership to make clear to all Palestinians – in the West Bank and Gaza Strip – that terrorism is unacceptable, and that it undermines the Palestinian efforts for an independent state.  The U.S. Administration must also sharply condemn this incident, and make clear to the Palestinians that terrorism and incitement violate the spirit of the impending peace talks.”

Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations:  “We are outraged and deeply saddened by the barbaric terrorist attack that claimed the lives of four innocent people and left 10 children orphaned. Hamas has proudly taken credit for this brutal and inhumane act. The government of Israel must take the steps it deems appropriate to protect its citizens. The international community must stand behind Israel and take decisive steps to end Hamas’ reign of terror. The international condemnations of Israel for measures to defend its borders and citizens, a right accorded every other nation, only encourages the terrorists. The UN and the international community must hold to account those who aid, abet and supply terrorist organizations. The discovery in recent days in the Sinai of huge quantities of weapons destined for Hamas, including hundreds of Strela anti-aircraft missiles, underscores the urgency for decisive action.

“While the Palestinian Authority has condemned the attack, saying it harms Palestinian interests, they cannot continue to honor those responsible for terrorist attacks, declaring them shahids and allowing the incitement against Israel and Israelis to continue. The glorification of murderers will only encourage others to emulate them,” said Conference of Presidents Chairman Alan Solow and Executive Vice Chairman Malcolm Hoenlein.
 
“As the talks in Washington begin – and they should go forward – security must be the priority issue. Such bloodshed will only assure the failure of the negotiations. We know this is the terrorists’ intent and they should not be rewarded, but their threats of continued violence cannot and must not be ignored,” said Solow and Hoenlein. “We express our condolences to the families of the victims and all the people of Israel.”
 
Zionist Organization of America:  “The Zionist Organization of America (ZOA) has called upon the Israeli government of Benjamin Netanyahu to cease forthwith the practice of ending road closures, removing checkpoints and other so-called ‘confidence-building measures’ for Mahmoud Abbas’ Palestinian Authority (PA) after today’s terrorist attack near Hebron which resulted in the murder of four Israelis, two men and two women, one of the latter being pregnant.

“The director-general of the Yesha Council, the umbrella group of Jewish communities in Judea and Samaria, Naftali Bennett, said that the assailants apparently fled the scene via a route opened as part of the gestures to the Palestinians after last April’s visit to Israel by U.S. envoy George Mitchell. Mitchell urged Israel to ‘make number of gestures to Palestinians, including release of prisoners, removal of checkpoints, transfer of authority over West Bank territories. Palestinian source says U.S. gave Israel “encouraging”list of demands’ (Roni Sofer, ‘Gov’t source: Israeli gestures ahead of proximity talks,’ Yediot Ahronot, April 23, 2010).

“Bennett said, ‘We learn that every gesture begets more terror and are hurting over the horrible murder of four Israelis. This is a massacre that is not meant to foil talks, but is a direct result of negotiations and talks of concessions. The prime minister, who cancelled his trip to the US due to the flotilla and death of the Turks, must now cancel his visit and be in Israel at the time of such a barbaric terror attack.’

Likud Knesset Member Zeev Elkin said, “Unfortunately, all warnings that the policy of removing checkpoints and concessions to the Palestinians would lead to terror did materialize. Defense Minister Barak must take responsibility for the security of the citizens of Israel instead of serving as the foreign minister and deal[ing] with diplomacy” (Roni Sofer, ‘Likud MK: Attack proves Palestinians don’t want peace,’ Yediot Ahronot, August 31, 2010)

ZOA National President Morton A. Klein said, “This terrible Palestinian terrorist crime against four innocent Jews shows that the shedding of innocent Jewish blood is the inevitable result of relaxing security measures, like road closures and checkpoints. The next time people hear about Israel being called upon to make ‘confidence-building gestures,’ they should remember that it means enabling scenes of carnage and tragedy like this.

“Palestinian Arab terrorists compel Israel to create checkpoints and roadblocks in order to protect the lives of innocent Jews. If there was no Palestinian terror – there would be no Israeli checkpoints and roadblocks.

“It is morally and strategically wrong to prefer the convenience of Palestinians over the lives of Israelis; and especially so, when the concessions are being made to an interlocutor like Mahmoud Abbas’ terror-promoting PA. If the PA had truly ended the promotion of hatred and violence against Jews in their media, mosques, schools and youth camps, and if they had been arresting terrorists, and if they had outlawed terrorist groups, all required by signed agreements, then Abbas would have created at least the beginnings of a peace-loving culture and then Israel could consider reducing checkpoints and roadblocks.

“This is not the first time Israelis have died because concessions on security. The murder of Rabbi Meir Chai in January by Palestinian terrorists belonging to Abbas’ Fatah – which condemned the subsequent killing by Israel of the terrorists, while glorifying the dead terrorists as heroes – was made possible by a similar, previous relaxation of security measures. This is not only obscene, but it helps to create an atmosphere and culture that encourages terrorist assaults against Israelis.

“The ZOA urges Prime Minister Netanyahu to reinstate the checkpoints and roadblocks which have helped facilitate these heinous murders of innocent Jewish people. We urge Prime Minister Netanyahu to strongly demand that incitement must now end, terrorists must be arrested, and terrorist groups must be outlawed by the PA. As a first step, the PA must immediately rename he schools, streets and sports teams named in honor of killers of Jews. Naming these after terrorists can only inspire more Palestinians to become terrorists and perpetrate acts of terror.

“The ZOA hopes Prime Minister Netanyahu will instruct the security services to re-institute the closures and checkpoints that might have detected these terrorists before they committed their foul deed or at least have enabled their capture after it.

“We also call upon President Barack Obama to desist seeking one-sided ‘confidence building measures’ from Israel. We ask him to see where these ‘gestures’ have led and to recognize that those who place pressure on Israel which leads it to make such concessions cannot afterwards disassociate themselves from the consequences. It is necessary to absorb the lesson of this tragedy and not to repeat the policies that helped produced it.”

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Preceding compiled from news releases from the aboved named organizations

National reflection sought by 10Q during Days of Awe

August 31, 2010 Leave a comment

NEW YORK (Press Release) — The 10 days between Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur are a traditional period of reflection. But that ritual is often lost in the flurry of today’s fast-paced 21st Century world. Now, 10Q, a national project that asks people to answer a question a day online for 10 days during the High Holidays in September, offers a new way for Jews and people of all backgrounds to slow down and reflect.

Beginning on September 8th, a series of ten questions will be projected each day on the PRNewswire Jumbo-tron in Times Square in New York City, on PRNewswire’s screens on the Las Vegas Strip across from the Wynn and the Palazzo hotels, and on a roving billboard from San Francisco to Silicon Valley and Sonoma. The questions, about life, goals, the future, relationships, your place in the world and more, are designed to stop people in their tracks, and direct them to the website, www.doyou10Q.com, where the questions are hosted.

“For thousands of years, the Jewish High Holy Days, the 10 days between Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur, have been a time of introspection and reflection,” says 10Q co-creator Ben Greenman. “But it has a broad appeal because everyone needs time to pause and think. We want people, all people, to reflect on the present because that will help to bring the future, everyone’s future, into focus.”

10Q is an ambitious online effort to reverse the trend of living only for the moment that has crowded out that ancient ritual. It is an experiment to see what happens when these questions of reflection are brought to the frenetic life in places like New York, Las Vegas and San Francisco.

10Q, is a partnership between Nicola Behrman, an LA-based screenwriter, Greenman, a New Yorker editor, and Amelia Klein, program director of Reboot, a Jewish cultural organization that seeks to reinvent and re-imagine Jewish rituals and traditions. The website, launched in 2008 has already become a national sensation. The site garnered more than 30,000 visitors during the ten days in 2009 and drew press coverage from the likes of The New York Times and USA Today. With the questions projected in Times Square, it even caught on with the governor of New York, and the president of New York University. This year, such luminaries as Lemony Snicket author Daniel Handler and University of California President Mark Yudof have already signed on.

The answers go into a secure, digital vault after the 10 days and are returned via email to participants one year later when the process begins again. The idea is for participants to make an annual tradition out of answering the questions, building up an archive for future years to come.

10Q attracts an ecumenical, multi-generational audience with participants ranging from teenagers to grandparents. Although the project is rooted in the Jewish idea of ethical wills and reflection, teshuvah and occurs during the ten days between Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur, it has attracted people of all backgrounds and denominations, including Catholics, Episcopalians and Buddhists. One anonymous participant commented: “I’m Jewish, but more culturally than theologically and so I found this resonated perfectly with my trying to draw meaning and significance out of the rituals in ways that apply to my life.”

The 10Q questions are not religious in nature; they are for anyone interested in pondering their world. They are about your place on the planet, and the planet’s place within you.

“Sifting through the public entries from last year, we realized that 10Q is the complete antithesis to facebook,” Behrman said. “Instead of trying to prove that life is wonderful, that everything is going great, people are incredibly honest in their 10Q entries. Fears about work, sense of self, loneliness all come out through their answers to the 10Q questions and it’s surprisingly uplifting to see. You read them and think, “Wow, I’m not the only person in the world who feels nervous when I walk into a room of people or criticizes myself too much. It’s utterly liberating,” she commented.

This year’s questions range from the personal to the communal, from family issues to global events.

Last year, New York Gov. David A. Paterson responded to a question about what he would have changed from the previous year, saying: “I would have embarked on a campaign to educate the public about how stimulus money affects the state budget, so that all New Yorkers would understand how we were able to keep state spending flat when it appeared that there was a substantial increase due to the addition of federal stimulus dollars.”

The 10Q project resonates with a wide variety of people and was used by a documentary filmmaker, who asked the 10Q questions as a transformative exercise for death row inmates (and their families) before they were executed, and by a social worker with a mental health group she runs at her clinic. The project can also facilitate intergenerational dialogue with families organizing conference calls to discuss their daily responses.

“Our attentions have been fractured, scattered and divided across so many channels, apps and tweets that it’s virtually impossible to stop and take it all in,” said Lou Cove, Executive Director of Reboot. “The 10 Q project is an invitation to slow down and reflect on what really matters to you.”

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Preceding provided by Reboot