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Up, up and oy vey! Shaloman saves the day!

September 22, 2010 Leave a comment

By Bruce S. Ticker

Bruce S. Ticker

PHILADELPHIA –Al Wiesner attended Hebrew school in Philadelphia since he was 4 or 5, was influenced by grandparents who were deeply religious and his mother was active in the local synagogue. He even spoke Yiddish at home.

“I got to know it so well they couldn’t talk in front of me. So they spoke Hungarian,” he recalled.

His Jewish identity was forged so early that he felt left out when he became enamored of cartoon superheros. He had Superman and others, but no superhero for the Jewish people. 

“There were no Jewish characters,” he said.

Shaloman

Since nobody else would create a Jewish superhero, the task was left to Wiesner. Decades later, after studying art, serving in the Air Force, holding a day job as a hairdresser and raising a family, Wiesner gave the world – drum roll, please – “Shaloman.”

After 22 years and more than 40 issues, the super-human Shaloman has saved Purim, Passover and Chanukah and confronted baddies who took an airplane’s passengers hostage and seized the Statue of Liberty. He has served President Derek Montana – who coincidentally resembles President Obama – and taken on a villain much like Osama bin Laden.

If you are in trouble and need Shaloman to rescue you and your friends and save Israel, if not the world, all you need do is cry out: “Oy Vey!”

Read more…

Documentary on songwriting Sherman Brothers to be screened Oct. 3

September 22, 2010 Leave a comment

SAN DIEGO (Press Release) –  The documentary film The Boys: The Sherman Brothers Story will be screened on October 3, 2010 at 7:30 p.m. as part of the San Diego Jewish Film Festival at  the David & Dorothea Garfield Theatre of the Lawrence Family JCC, Jacobs Family campus.

The Boys is an intimate journey through the lives of Robert and Richard Sherman, the prolific Academy Awards-winning songwriting team.  Their songs, “It’s a Small World,” “A Spoonful of Sugar,” (Mary Poppins) and “I Want To Be Like You” (Jungle Book), to name a few, celebrated family entertainment and happy endings.  Their life together was not as harmonious. This film is a fascinating portrait of two immensely talented men and their memorable music.

Directors Jeffrey C. Sherman and Gregory V. Sherman, who are also sons of the Sherman Brothers, will be available for a question and answer session after the screening.

The Sherman Brothers wrote more motion-picture musical song scores than any other songwriting team in film history, working for Walk Disney during the last six years of Disney’s life.  Sons of Russian-Jewish immigrants, Robert and Richard Sherman began writing songs together in 1951 on a challenge from their father, Tin Pan Alley songwriter Al Sherman.

In 1965, the Sherman Brothers won two Academy Awards for Mary Poppins, including the Oscar-winning “Chim Chim Cher-ee.”  The Shermans subsequently earned nine Academy Award nominations, two Grammy Awards, four Grammy Award nominations, and 23 gold- and platinum-certified albums.

For their contributions to the motion picture industry, the Sherman brothers have a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame, and were inducted into the Songwriters Hall of Fame in 2005.  In 2008, the Sherman brothers received the National Medal of Arts, the highest honor conferred upon artists or patrons of the arts by the United States government.

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Preceding provided by the San Diego Centre for Jewish Culture

Massive U.S. arms sales to Middle East

September 22, 2010 Leave a comment
By Shoshana Bryen

Shoshana Bryen

WASHINGTON, D.C. — The Obama administration has announced a $60 billion sale to Saudi Arabia, including include 84 F-15 fighter planes, 70 AH-64 Apache attack helicopters, 72 UH-60 Blackhawk utility helicopters, and 36 MH-6 Little Bird surveillance helicopters. The package also includes HARM anti-radar missiles, more precision-guided JDAM bombs, Hellfire air-to-ground missiles and sophisticated helmet-mounted displays for fighter pilots.  
 
The Financial Times reports that the UAE has just signed military supply contracts for $35-40 billion and that by 2014, Oman is expected to shell out $12 billion and Kuwait some $7 billion for arms, in what the Times calls “one of the largest re-armament exercises in peacetime history.”
 
In the boilerplate language used to formally notify Congress, the Administration avers that the proposed infusion of arms will not change the balance of power. Indeed, State Department spokesman Philip Crowley said that the United States, “would do nothing that would upset the current balance in the region.”
 
That’s odd. The introduction of another $60 billion (plus $12 billion, plus $7 billion) in weapons won’t change the balance? Is that because the weapons are useless? Is it because the Saudis can’t use them?  Is it because we don’t expect them to use them?  Is it because Israel doesn’t mind? Agence France Presse (AFP) did report that, “in deference to Israeli concerns, the Administration did not offer so-called standoff systems, which are advanced long-range weapons that can be attached to F-15s for use in offensive operations against land- and sea-based targets.”
 
Deference to Israeli concerns requires pointing out that history indicates that sales to Saudi Arabia aren’t the issue. Iran is the issue.
 
In 2007, Russia signed a deal to sell Iran its S-300 anti-missile system. This week, Russia’s Chief of the General Staff said the missiles are banned under UN Security Council sanctions against Tehran, so the deal will not be consummated – now, but the Russians have been on-again-off-again. On the other hand, Russia is going forward with the sale of P-800 Yakhont cruise missiles to Syria. “These weapons cannot be used to destabilize the region,” said former Russian Foreign Minister Igor Ivanov in a Jerusalem Post story. “Ivanov pointed to ‘provisions in the contract with Syria’ that specifically bar Damascus from transferring these weapons to a third party (Hezbollah), noting that the manufacturers were also only allowed to work on the weapon installation with the Syrians.”
 
Well, that makes us feel better. After all, UNIFIL ensures that the Syrians don’t share much materiel with Hezbollah. The State Department said, “Opposition to arms sales to state sponsors of terrorism is well known,” but didn’t mention the recent report of Syria and Hezbollah creating a joint military headquarters to orchestrate cooperation between their forces – in addition to the ongoing smuggling. 
 
Countries can try to make any decision look like responsible foreign policy. Russia says “no” to Iran but “yes” to its proxy and partner Syria. Syria is a “state sponsor of terrorism” when the State Department wants to criticize the Russians, but what is it when we provide them with political legitimacy in an effort to “woo” them from Iran? The United States sells Saudi Arabia weapons, but skips over Saudi funding of anti-American mosques and schools in Europe and the United States – the nucleus of jihadist education. 
 
The fact is that Saudi Arabia is unlikely to take on Iran without the United States and is still hoping Israel will remove the Iranian threat, so if we’re selling them “defensive” equipment with that understanding, well, recycling petrodollars isn’t altogether a bad thing. But Iran is a threat to the region with or without nuclear weapons and the problem won’t be solved with $60 billion worth of arms or by complaining about the Russians.

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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.

‘Tanya’ provides insight into Chassidic thought

September 22, 2010 Leave a comment

Tanya, the Masterpiece of Hasidic Wisdom: Sections Annotated and Explained by Rabbi Rami Shapiro, Skylight Paths Publishing, Woodstock, NY (Forward by Rabbi Zalman M. Schachter-Shalomi); ISBN 978-1-59473-275-1, ©2010, $16.99, p. 165, plus appendices,  Available in Kindle edition

By Fred Reiss, Ed.D.

Fred Reiss

WINCHESTER, California — Jews were the middlemen between the gentry and the underclass in seventeenth century Poland. On behalf of the noblemen, Jews, for example, administered estates, collected fees at the grist mills and fishing ponds, and ran the inns that sold liquor. It was only natural that any populist revolt would be directed against the Jews as well as the nobility. Cossack Bogdan Chmielnicki led such a revolt. He defeated the Polish army in 1648. As a result, serfs rose up against the nobility and their Jewish stewards.

With the defeat of the army, Chmielnicki and his rebels continued their ravenous attack on the Jews, massacring thousands in cities like Nemirov, Tulchin, Polonnoe, Zaslov and Ostrog and Pildava. The aggression did not end until the defeat of Chmielnicki in 1651, and the transfer of his allegiance to Russia. Three years later, the Russians invaded eastern Poland, White Russia, and Lithuania, which resulted in a substantial number of deaths as well as expulsion for the Jews. According to historians Margolis and Marx, the lowest estimate of Jewish deaths from these attacks between 1648 and 1658 is one hundred thousand.

The Chmielnicki revolt and its aftermath devastated the Jewish population of southeastern Poland and northwestern Ukraine. The uprisings destroyed Jewish institutions, decimated its intelligencia, and left Jews with only menial jobs and in a constant state of impoverishment.
Read more…

Clinton lauds Arab peace initiative on Saudia Arabia’s National Day

September 22, 2010 Leave a comment

WASHINGTON, D.C. (Press Release)–On behalf of President Obama and the people of the United States, I congratulate the Custodian of the two Holy Mosques, King Abdullah bin Abdulaziz al Saud, and the people of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia on your national day this September 23.

King Abdullah’s leadership on key challenges, from developing the Kingdom’s institutions and economy to establishing an enduring dialogue promoting moderation and tolerance, has put Saudi Arabia and the region on a path towards a stronger, more prosperous, and more secure future. We also honor King Abdullah’s steadfast support for the Arab Peace Initiative. This groundbreaking initiative provided a far-sighted vision for comprehensive regional peace when the King first proposed it. As we continue working to support direct talks between the Israelis and the Palestinians, the principles enshrined in the Arab Peace Initiative are more important than ever.

Our cooperation ranges from science and technology to health and safety – including raising awareness of breast cancer and helping Hajj pilgrims stay healthy – to trade and investment and our shared goal of expanding opportunities for women and youth. We are also working to increase opportunities for student exchanges and to strengthen our educational partnerships, something I discussed with King Abdullah in depth on my visit to Saudi Arabia earlier this year and with the women of Dar Al-Hekma College in Jeddah.

As we join in celebrating this special day, we reaffirm the commitment of the United States to broaden and deepen our partnership with Saudi Arabia in the years to come. I wish all Saudis a safe and joyous National Day.

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Preceding provided by U.S. State Department

Israel boycott rejected by co-op in Port Townsend, Washington

September 22, 2010 Leave a comment

By Judy Lash Balint

Judy Lash Balint

JERUSALEM–Last month when I was visiting Seattle, I had the opportunity to take part in a “hearing” of the Olympia Food Co-op whose board had voted to boycott Israeli products. The 15,000 Co-op membership had not been consulted and some of them were upset–not that they were pro-Israel, they were ticked off that the Board had not consulted the members before they launched the Co-op into progressive history by becoming the first co-op in the nation to boycott Israel.

More of that later. In another part of Washington state–the charming, quiet community of Port Townsend–another Israel boycott was brewing. This time however, saner voices prevailed and Jewish activists from all over the state, led by the Seattle StandWithUs group, together with a flurry of letters and op eds in the local paper, resulted in a “no” vote on the boycott last night. Read more…

Russia cancels surface-to-air missile delivery to Iran

September 22, 2010 Leave a comment

MOSCOW (WJC) — Russia has canceled plans to supply Iran with S-300 anti-aircraft missiles due to UN sanctions imposed against Tehran, a senior Russian military official has said. “A decision has been taken not to supply the S-300 to Iran, they undoubtedly fall under sanctions,” the ITAR-TASS news agency quoted Chief of General Staff Nikolai Makarov as saying. “There has been an instruction from the country’s leadership to stop the deliveries, and we are obeying it,” Makarov added, according to the RIA-‘Novosti’ news agency.

Russia had previously issued mixed messages regarding the future of the deal sgreed in 2005, first saying that the new round of sanctions on Iran passed at the United Nations in June would not impede the deal, and later saying that it would. Israel had been concerned at the possibility that Russia may follow through with the delivery of the S-300 surface-to-air defense system to Iran.

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Preceding provided by World Jewish Congress