Archive for September 14, 2010

Counter-measures developed to guard against bacteria’s resistance to anti-biotics

September 14, 2010 Leave a comment

TEL AVIV (Press Release)― Antibiotics can work miracles, knocking out common infections like bronchitis and tonsillitis. But according to the Center for Disease Control, each year 90,000 people in the U.S. die of drug-resistant “superbugs” ― bacteria like Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA), a deadly form of staph infection resistant to normal antibiotics. Although hospital patients are particularly susceptible as a result of open wounds and weakened immune systems, the bacteria can infect anyone.

Dr. Micha Fridman of Tel Aviv University’s Department of Chemistry is now developing the next generation of antibiotics designed to overcome this kind of bacteria. And the key, he says, is in the bacteria itself.

“We took the mechanism of bacterial resistance and used this mechanism itself to generate antibiotics,” explains Dr. Fridman. “It’s thanks to these bacteria that we can develop a better medication.” Conducted in collaboration with Prof. Sylvie Garneau-Tsodikova from the University of Michigan at Ann Arbor, Dr. Fridman’s research was highlighted recently in the journal ChemBioChem.

According to Dr. Fridman, certain bacterial strains include enzymes which help the bacteria to inactivate antibiotics. When the enzymes meet with these antibiotics, they chemically alter the drug, making the antibiotic ineffective and unable to recognize its target. Read more…

Kyrgystan urged to bring synagogue pipe-bombers to justice

September 14, 2010 Leave a comment

NEW YORK (Press Release) — The Anti-Defamation League on Tuesday called on the government of Kyrgyzstan to bring to justice those responsible for attacking a synagogue in the capital city of Bishkek with a nail-filled pipe bomb on the eve of the Jewish New Year.

In a letter to Kyrgyz President Roza Otunbayeva, Abraham H. Foxman, ADL National Director termed Kyrgyzstan’s response to the attack a test of her “promise to ensure the rule of law and effective government response in the face of ethnic violence.”

“A condemnation by you of this anti-Semitic attack and your public assurance that all efforts will be made to bring the perpetrators to justice will send the necessary message of zero tolerance for violent hate crimes and reassure the Jewish community,” wrote Mr. Foxman.

In her July 3 inaugural speech, President Otunbayeva addressed the issue of ethnic violence in Kyrgyzstan, noting that, “dark forces have spilled blood of many innocent people.” At the time she pledged to “spare no effort to create a new political culture for the country based on a strict adherence to the rule of law,” and would be “principled and consistently make demands on all branches of government to ensure it.”

The same synagogue in Bishkek was firebombed in April 2010, at which time the Jewish community appealed to the Kyrgyz government to take appropriate measures to guarantee its safety.

Preceding provided by Anti-Defamation League

Clinton and Mitchell brief the media on Mideast talks

September 14, 2010 Leave a comment

 WASHINGTON, D.C. (Press Release) — U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton met with news media while flying on Tuesday to Sharm el Sheikh for the second round of the Middle East peace talks, and U.S. Middle East Envoy spoke to the media in Sharm el Sheikh after the meeting of Israel’s Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu and Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas.   The following transcripts were provided by the U.S. State Department: 

SECRETARY CLINTON: Now, I have, as many of you — and I look around and see people who have been following this for decades — have been asked repeatedly — I look (inaudible) –have been asked repeatedly what are the prospects for success, how can we evaluate? And I can only say this: that there is no prospect for success in the absence of direct negotiations; there is absolutely no way that the legitimate needs of Israel can be satisfied for the long term, nor that the aspirations of the Palestinians can be achieved.

So for me, it is a question of: how can we work toward making these direct negotiations break through the clear and difficult obstacles that stand in the way toward achieving a comprehensive peace? And the Israeli-Palestinian negotiations are part of what has to happen in the region that would include an agreement between Syria and Israel, and Lebanon and Israel. But we have to begin and we felt encouraged by the — both the words and the body language and the commitments made by the two leaders when we met with them in Washington.

 I am completely aware of all the challenges that we confront, but I have said, and I will repeat, that I think that the time is right for a lot of reasons for these two leaders and their people to work diligently and productively toward a resolution. So when we meet in Egypt tomorrow we will be having individual bilateral meetings, including with President Mubarak, and we will have then a trilateral meeting among the Palestinians, Israelis, and the U.S. The next day, we will continue those meetings in Jerusalem and we will push the parties to come to grips with a lot of the issues that have to be sorted out.  Read more…

Yes! Yes! Call me a Jew!

September 14, 2010 Leave a comment

By Rabbi Ben Kamin

Rabbi Ben Kamin

SAN DIEGO — Somebody wrote me a nasty letter recently after something I circulated in this publication. 

“You wrote that because you’re a Jew,” spouted my critic.  To this branding, I say, thank you!  Thank you! 

Thank you for attributing to me the greatest possible ethnic compliment.  Call me a Jew, and I shall be satisfied and grateful.  I am so proud to be of a lineage and a people who have survived and even transcended the greatest and most unrelenting challenges ever known to any cultural group in the history of human life. 

We parented Christianity and Islam; the church and the mosque are the edifice-cousins of the synagogue.

We survived Hitler, and we will survive Bin Laden and that crazy fellow in Iran.  We lit the lights of Chanukah and outshone Greek Hellenism.  We wrote the texts of Rabbinic Judaism and outwitted the Roman Empire.  I find old Roman pottery along the beaches of a free Israel; we have a history and a future.

\We made Judaism portable and sprung from the clutches of the Inquisition of Spain, the pogroms of Russia and Poland, the massacres of England, the genocides of Germany, France, Latvia, and the Pale. 

We sent a magic carpet to Yemen, a caravan of relief to the Arab lands, prayer books and matzohs to the Soviet Union.

Out of proportion to our numbers, we marched with M.L. King, because we were the first to leave the bondage of Egypt.  Our Passover Seder remains the international meal of freedom.

On July 4, 1976, we sent the Star of David to rescue hostages in Entebbe and we now send the stars of our American Jewish youth to every university and into every corporate hall in this country and we send our bright and ambitious former youth group presidents to the Congress and—if a Jew had been counting—we would have sent a Jew to the vice-presidency of the United States in 2001. 

Call me a Jew.  I like living in a people who see wrong and try to right it, see trouble and figure out how to relieve it, see life and choose to live it.

Kamin is a freelance writer based in San Diego

Everyone’s offended, but watch and be angry and proud

September 14, 2010 Leave a comment
By Shoshana Bryen

Shoshana Bryen

WASHINGTON, D.C. –After the 9-11 ceremonies, commentaries and protests, it hardly seems necessary to suggest it – everyone is already angry, right? 

No, everyone is offended: offended by plans for “Cordoba House,” a mosque within the World Trade Center damage zone; offended by how offended mosque supporters are with what they think is the offense taken by the rest of us; offended about where the money will come from; offended by being asked where the money will come from; offended to be asked to prove you’re an American; offended by being called Islamophobic; offended by Democrats; offended by Republicans.

(Mayor Bloomberg and the President, among others, might have said that at some point, rather than denigrating people whose views differ with theirs.) But reasoned anger is an appropriate response to the attacks of September 11, 2001 and to the unfolding of our national life thereafter.

One of the mysteries of American life is the disappearance of the images of 9-11. We, who sat glued to our TV screens for countless hours that day, remember them – the planes, the fire, people crowded by the windows of the upper floors and the single man appearing to float on his way down a hundred stories. The crushed police cars and fire trucks – the wreckage of the protectors. The Statue of Liberty lifting her lamp to the disaster. The satellite photo that captured the smoke. The crumbling of edifices that helped to define America for Americans and for the world – the Twin Towers and the Pentagon. The crumbling of our innocence. Read more…

Australian Jewish World War I hero remembered on 70th yahrzeit

September 14, 2010 Leave a comment

MELBOURNE (Press Release)–Last Sunday, 12th September, VAJEX held a graveside  service to honour the memory of Sgt Issy Smith, a recipient of the Victoria Cross.

It was a moving  and well-deserved tribute to a very brave man. At only 11 years old Issy stowed away on a ship from Egypt to Britain where at 14 he joined the British Army and saw active service in Africa and India. After this period, he emigrated to Melbourne, Australia. At the outbreak of WW1 he returned to fight with the British Army. In 1915 at Ypres he won the Victoria Cross for outstanding bravery in rescuing numerous injured soldiers whilst under constant enemy fire. It was said “no man deserved the VC more than him”.  In all, Issy was gassed and wounded 5 times. On discharge as an acclaimed war hero Issy again emigrated  to Melbourne, Australia where he was held in high esteem within the Jewish community.

Issy Smith, VC died on 10 September 1940 and was buried with full military honours in the Fawkner Cemetary

The Memorial Service was held on his 70th Yahrtzeit and many of his family members attended; his son, Mr Maurice Smith and partner, coming from NSW. Presidents of organizations, both Jewish and non-Jewish, joined together in friendship and warmth on the cold and blustery day.
VAJEX President, Mr Ben Hirsh, extended the Official Welcome, followed by VAJEX Patron MAJGEN Jeffrey Rosenfeld CStJ’s poignant address. Our committee member, SQ/LDR Harold Karpin, spoke and read Psalm 24 and our own Chaplain Rabbi Dovid Gutnick did his usual splendid job performing his duties. Mr Maurice Smith in telling anecdotes of his late father, had us smiling at some of the antics of the boy-soldier….apart from being a real mensch he was also a bit of a lobus.

Mr Joe Krycer, JNF President surprised many, as he was not long out of hospital, by leading the Tree Planting. We were delighted to see him up and about.
To see some of the photos, click on or go to the link here.

Questions about Palestinian sincerity obstacles to Mideast peace

September 14, 2010 Leave a comment

By Ira Sharkansky

Ira Sharkansky

JERUSALEM–The conflict between Israel and Palestine is one of the most prominent of the world’s unsolved problems. The casualties are small in relation to what occurs wherever the United States military is directly involved. It is the location in the land considered holy by contending faiths, and the weight of Arab onlookers in international forums, that keeps this in the headlines.
Are we at the edge of a process that will solve this conflict?

Only time will tell.

Here I will focus on the complex political map of Israel, as I see it from public opinion surveys, media reports and commentators, and 35 years of talking to people with sharply different views.

There is a substantial portion of the population, perhaps a majority, willing to make substantial territorial concessions for “real peace.” However, a substantial number of people, perhaps as many as 100,000, are living on land that the national majority would concede. Some of those settlers are willing to move elsewhere, and some would jump at an attractive financial incentive, but many remember what happened when Israel removed its settlements from Gaza, and they are unwilling to move. Moreover, there is a substantial number of Israelis, including individuals who say they are willing to make substantial concessions, who express concern or major distrust about the willingness of Palestinians to do what it takes to assure “real peace.”

These “substantials” are vague, and do not fit together into something that we can interpret with a great deal of confidence.

Somewhat influenced, but also somewhat independent of public opinion, are policymakers with long experience in dealing with Palestinians, who are less than certain about the reliability of Palestinians. These include politicians and professionals in the military and civilian ministries. The politicians concerned about Palestinian reliability are not only members of right wing and centrist parties, but also those left of center. Knesset members of Labor and Meretz speak more often and more fully about the need to give up large portions of the West Bank. But some politicians on the left also indicate their concern about the intentions of Palestinians, especially those on the Islamic fringe. And the public has not shown a great deal of support for left of center politicians . Both Meretz and Labor are at  historic low points in their Knesset representation.

Americans, Europeans, and the UN Secretary General are pressing Israeli leaders to make concessions that will keep alive the prospect of reaching agreement. Some are also pressing the Palestinians to show flexibility, and not to walk away at the first sign of disappointment.

The formats are not promising. The emphasis is on meetings between the most senior politicians, in the presence of senior politicians from other countries. It is not the setting for hammering out detailed agreements about land, water, defense, temporary or permanent borders, refugees, waste disposal, environmental protection, the transfer of individuals from Israeli administration and Israeli health insurance, and the content of Palestinian education (relevant to Israeli concerns about incitement). It is also not the setting for Israelis or Palestinians ratcheting down from often proclaimed demands. Transparency is fine, but agreements may only grow in the dim light of private meetings, with participants explaining later what they have given up in order to get what they obtained.

There is no end to the scenarios that the hopeful and doom sayers describe.

Many of them begin from the widespread pessimism about the partners, onlookers and outside troublemakers, and the contrasting demands that argue against success.

Already the fighters of Gaza have stepped up their rocket launchings in hopes of doing something that will hasten the end of the peace talks. So far the IDF has not responded with anything more than pin point reprisals, but no one should rule out another round of widespread destruction.

The hopeful pessimists of Israel, i.e., those who are pessimistic about the peace talks but otherwise hopeful, see a continuation of economic progress in the West Bank, a continued refrain from violence on the part of the Fatah government, and a gradual development of Palestinian society and economy in the West Bank alongside Israel. Those goodies may come along with continued Israeli restraints with respect to the extension of settlements, but that requires an added dose of optimism.

I have not noticed anyone who is optimistic about Gaza.

There are some who are pessimistic about peace talks, and pessimistic about the continued restraint from violence of West Bank Palestinians. Settlers and their friends, and some who are not their friends but see the settlers as something to reckon with, see periodic waves of violence on the West Bank, Israeli reprisals, and continued expansion of Israeli settlements. Their scenario extends to the eventual dominance of Israeli settlers throughout the West Bank, and a one-state solution between the Jordan and the Mediterranean.

This one-state scenario differs by 180 degrees from the one-state seen by those who see Palestinian gaining dominance via a demographic advantage.

The settlers are patient, and none of the adults I know assume that they will see the end of conflict. It will take time, perhaps several waves of Palestinian violence and Israeli destruction in response, a gradual tiring of international watchers and minders, the drying up of overseas Palestinians willing to invest time and again in something that is destroyed, and the continued outmigration of Palestinians.

I would not count on such a unfolding of events that depend on so many assumptions, but neither would I dismiss it out of hand. Settlers think about something like this scenario, and mainstream Israeli politicians are sufficiently concerned about the reliability of Palestinians so that they may avoid any wholesale movement of the settlers that would nip it in the bud.

Some of my American friends might view all of this as Israeli arrogance, and a refusal to make the agreements that everyone else sees as essential. Americans can do their best in places like Vietnam, Iraq, and Afghanistan, and then leave when it is apparent that they cannot get what they want. They can soothe their national conscience by granting citizenship to the Vietnamese, Iraqis, and Afghans who succeed in leaving their countries.

Israel’s problems are closer. We are stuck with hostile neighbors, still being taught in their schools that we have no rights here. Israelis listen to a thoughtful President and leading Europeans, a Secretary of State who sometimes screeches, and overseas Jews who think about what is best for us. But Israelis have not the option of retreating to the other side of the world if their hopes turn bad.

Sharkansky is professor emeritus of political science at Hebrew University