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14 Israeli police to serve in U.N. force in Haiti

August 26, 2010 Leave a comment

JERUSALEM (WJC)–A team of Israeli police officers will leave for Haiti to serve as part of a multinational force set up by the United Nations. It marks the first time Israelis will serve on a UN force. The 14 police officers attended a ceremony at the Western Wall on Monday ahead of their scheduled departure on early next week. The delegation constitutes the first-ever Israeli group to serve in active duty under the command of the United Nations. The police officers will remain in Haiti for an extended period of time.

“You are Israel’s true face,” Israeli Deputy Foreign Minister Daniel Ayalon told the officers during a meeting Wednesday. “This mission will demonstrate to friends and foes alike that Israel is always willing to contribute and volunteer anywhere and at any time. It is important for people to see Israel beyond the conflict and to see that this is the real Israel. We are not only strong materially, but also strong in spirit.”

The head of the delegation, Meir Namir, said that the best police officers were mobilized to the task, some leaving behind pregnant women, children, and one even putting off his wedding.

Haiti was struck by a devastating earthquake in January 2010 which left more than 200,000 dead and approximately one million people homeless.. At the time, Israeli humanitarian workers assisted thousands of victims on the ground.

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Preceding provided by World Jewish Congress

Combatting Israelophobia will be topic of WJC Governing Board meeting

August 19, 2010 Leave a comment

NEW YORK  (Press Release)– Heads of Jewish communities from around the world will gather in Jerusalem for a meeting of the World Jewish Congress (WJC) Governing Board on 31 August and 1 September 2010.  The gathering will focus on ways to fight the growing threats against Israel. It will be addressed by senior statesmen from Israel and abroad.

Writer and Nobel Peace Prize laureate Professor Elie Wiesel will be presented with the first WJC “Guardian of Jerusalem” award in recognition of his lifetime accomplishments on behalf of the Jewish people. Members of the Israeli Haiti emergency rescue operation will receive a special award for their heroic humanitarian efforts in the aftermath of the 2010 Haiti earthquake.

Israeli leaders, including Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, Defense Minister Ehud Barak, Public Diplomacy and Diaspora Affairs Minister Yuli Edelstein, and opposition leader and Kadima Chairwoman Tzipi Livni will participate.  Jerusalem Mayor Nir Barkat, Governor of the Bank of Israel Stanley Fischer and Tel Aviv Chief Rabbi Israel Meir Lau also confirmed their participation.

Former Spanish Prime Minister Jose Maria Aznar will give a keynote address to delegates about the recently launched Friends of Israel Initiative (www.friendsofisraelinitiative.org).

Ahead of the Governing Board, World Jewish Congress President Ronald S. Lauder said:

“Everywhere, we are witnessing concerted efforts to attack the legitimacy of Israel as the nation state of the Jewish people. Boycott, sanctions and divestment campaigns are becoming prevalent; Israeli academics, authors, artists and sportspeople are being banned from participating in events; the media often presents a one-sided view of developments, and Israel is almost always being singled out for blame. We will be developing proactive initiatives to address these issues, and we will underline the need for Diaspora Jewry’s continued unwavering solidarity with Israel in a global environment that is increasingly hostile to those positions.”

The WJC meeting will be attended by around 150 leaders representing all major Jewish communities in the world and will adopt the future priorities and action plans of the organization. It will also discuss the difficult situation faced by certain Jewish communities, e.g. in Sweden and Venezuela.

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Preceding provided by World Jewish Congress

JDC mounts campaign for Pakistan flood relief

August 19, 2010 Leave a comment

NEW YORK (WJC)–The American Jewish Joint Distribution Committee (JDC) is collecting funds to help the victims of the devastating floods in Pakistan with food, clothing, medicine and other necessities.

Flooding began about three weeks ago and has affected an estimated 170 million people in Pakistan. The United Nations has described Pakistan’s worst humanitarian crisis as one of the world’s biggest disasters. About six million survivors are dependent on humanitarian assistance to survive, in desperate need of food, shelter and clean drinking water, with concerns growing over potential outbreaks of cholera, typoid and hepatitis.

“By harnessing our vast experience in international disaster relief and tapping our network of partners on the ground to assess the most pressing needs, JDC will quickly respond to those affected by the floods in Pakistan,” JDC CEO Steven Schwager said in a statement.

“Guided by the principle of ‘tikkun olam’ (repairing the world), we will help ensure that the most vulnerable are reached.” The Jewish organization is coordinating efforts with the US Office of Foreign Disaster Assistance and Interaction in Washington, DC.

JDC provides aid in countries around the world to immediate and long-term support for victims of natural and man-made disaster. It mounted similar relief efforts in South Asia in the wake of the 2004 Indian Ocean tsunami, and in Burma (Myanmar) after Cyclone Nargis struck. All funds collected will be directed to relief efforts. It also helped Pakistanis in the aftermath of the 2005 and 2008 earthquakes and implemented relief efforts in Haiti following the earthquake there earlier this year.

The American Jewish Joint Distribution Committee is the world’s leading Jewish humanitarian assistance organization. JDC works in Israel and more than 70 countries to alleviate hunger and hardship, rescue Jews in danger, create lasting connections to Jewish life, and provide immediate relief and long-term development support for victims of natural and man-made disasters.

To make a contribution:

Online via: www.jdc.org By phone: +1 212 687 62 00 By check payable to: JDC-Pakistan Flood Relief, P.O. Box 530, 132 East 43rd Street, New York, NY 10017, USA.

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Preceding provided by World Jewish Congress

Haitian earthquake victim to receive prosthetic feet in Israel

August 13, 2010 Leave a comment

Sounlove, in wheel chair, and sister Baranatha await El Al flight at JFK

NEW YORK (Press Release)–EL AL, the national airline of Israel, recently hosted 19 year old student Sounlove Zamour on a flight from New York to Israel.  Sounlove is a double amputee victim of the horrific earthquake that took place in Haiti this past January.

Sounlove is in Israel to continue with the next stage of her recovery process.  She is being treated at the premiere high-tech rehabilitation center of the Sheba Medical Center at Tel Hashomer Hospital. 

The plan is to fit Sounlove with prosthetics and have her walk again, as has been done with many previous patients.  Her sister Baranatha is accompanying Sounlove in Israel for the four month long stay where they are guests of the Friends of Sheba Medical Center, a foundation based in Los Angeles.
EL AL has a history of providing humanitarian assistance during times of need. In keeping with this tradition, two EL AL aircraft carried more than 80 tons of supplies, dozens of medical personnel, search and rescue teams as well as a canine rescue squad from Israel to assist with the relief efforts in Haiti. 

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Preceding provided by El Al Airlines

Peace activists or accomplices?

June 13, 2010 Leave a comment

By Bruce S. Ticker

Bruce S. Ticker

PHILADELPHIA — Is it just me, or did you also wonder how these “peace activists” found the free time to join the mission defying Israel’s blockade? Did you also wonder how they could afford to travel the world for this purpose?

Here’s the critical question: How could educated, compassionate people fail to sense something strange about their compatriots? How were they so incapable of figuring out the current facts of life in the Middle East before they even stepped foot on the Mavi Marmara or one of its sister ships?

These “peace activists” may be intelligent, idealistic people, but they have a stupid side. Either they could not comprehend the realities or they did not care. I can absolve the first group, but the latter group is despicable and probably anti-Semitic.

The motives of some activists merit consideration, and the Israeli government and military should not escape legitimate criticism when it emerges. Even if the military made mistakes when it intercepted the Mavi Marmara on Memorial Day, the passengers should never have pushed Israel into that position in the first place. As readers are aware, Israel said that its commandos were attacked by extremists and killed nine of them to defend themselves.

The peaceniks chose between Israel’s security and ostensibly aiding the Gazan people. Who made their choice knowingly and who genuinely misunderstood Israel’s situation?

Israel was stuck in a corner. Its leaders feared that these ships, supposed to be carrying humanitarian supplies, could be smuggling weapons and other materials that Hamas, the terrorist pack that dominates Gaza, might employ for future attacks on Israel. Hamas is pledged to Israel’s destruction and for years launched rockets into southern Israeli towns. In another act of war, Hamas persists in holding Israeli Sgt. Gilad Shalit hostage after nearly four years.

Some longtime critics of Israel were probably accustomed to assailing past misguided Israeli policies – especially, the 1982 Lebanon war and the construction and retention of settlements throughout Gaza and the West Bank. In the interim, Israel offered the Palestinian Arabs their own state in 2000; pulled out of Gaza in 2005; and mainly undertook military operations that were defensive in nature. Now Israel faces ongoing threats from terrorists in Iran, Gaza and Lebanon.

These developments have been front-page news for the last decade, so the peaceniks are hardpressed to explain how they could be so ignorant of this.

Quoting several analysts, The New York Times reported that the Free Gaza Movement, which sponsored the flotilla, is a varied coalition of groups and individuals, “often with little in common apart from opposition” to the blockade. Varied media reports said that peace activists included members of national legislatures, a writer, a physician, a retired diplomat and a retired registered nurse from Cape Cod.

Some activists sound like good people who genuinely wanted to help the needy. The nurse has helped victims of Haiti’s earthquake. Another passenger was an Irish politician whose father is a retired marine in Massachusetts who once organized opposition to the Vietnam war. Former American diplomat Edward Peck, who served in the Reagan administration, no doubt remembers the Lebanon war.

News reports suggest that the peaceniks did not trust the Israeli government to deliver the humanitarian supplies to Gaza. On top of that, I would speculate that they took into consideration that the Israeli government is controlled by a coalition of rightwing parties headed by Likud.

What they may need to understand is that Likud’s return to power directly resulted from the ongoing hostility Israel faced from the Palestinians despite its significant strides to peace. Israeli voters tend to play good cop/bad cop.

The peaceniks might not engage in violence, but they joined a flotilla filled with fanatics who would employ violence, and did. You would think the peace activists might notice signs of bizarre behavior and even spot devices that could be used as weapons.

Some years ago, when Israel announced the discovery of 90 tunnels in Rafah, the southern border town in Gaza, it occurred to me that members of the International Solidarity Movement like Rachel Corrie must have been aware of them. They probably observed weapons carried by Palestinian Arabs in the towns where they stayed. Corrie is the 23-year-old ISM member who was killed when she attempted to block an Israeli bulldozer.

Likewise, I suspect that the American and European passengers on the flotilla were aware of clues that something was amiss.

Even if the “peace activists” neither lifted a hand against the commandos nor had any idea about the intentions of extremist passengers, they still participated in an act of war simply by trying to break a blockade arranged by a sovereign nation that, whatever its lapses, was trying to protect its citizens.

For smart people, they are extraordinarily dumb.

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Bruce S. Ticker is a freelance journalist based in Philadelphia. He blogs at www.jewishconcerns.blogspot.com and can be contacted at bticker@comcast.net.

Israel divestment campaign moves to UCSD campus

April 27, 2010 1 comment

By Donald H. Harrison

Donald H. Harrison

SAN DIEGO — UCSD has become a campus battlegrounds in the movement by pro-Palestinians to have Associated Student oganizations  divest their funds from companies doing business with Israel.

A resolution that will go before the student Senate on Wednesday, April 28, specifically targets United Technologies, which it says makes Apache helicopters, and General Electric , which makes parts for those helicopters and also provides engineering support and testing service contracts.

The resolution essentially is the same as one that was vetoed by the student president at UC Berkeley, a veto that the  student Senate on that campus thus far has been unable to override.

As justification for divestment, the resolution cites documents from such organizations as the  United Nations and International Red Cross  critical of Israel in the recent Gaza War, for the construction of the fence near the West Bank and its treatment of Palestinian civilians.

The resolution does not criticize nor mention any actions by Palestinian terrorists, yet describes itself as a resolution for peace and neutrality.

Opposition on campus is being led by Titans for Israel, which is circulating a petition online, and by various off-campus pro-Israel groups such as StandWithUS and T.E.A.M.

StandWithUs provided a model email message that members can send to the President of the Associated Students, the Chancellor of the campus, and the President of the University of California system.  It read:

“I urge you to veto the anti-Israel Divestment Bill. The bill violates the rights of thousands of UCSD students, who have no choice but to pay their student fees and are legally entitled to be assured that these mandatory fees are not used to empower the political aims of an extremist and hostile group that seeks to promote one-sided propaganda against Israel.
“Student fees must be invested in a non-discriminatory way without regard to the political whims of a block of students. This could become a legal battle over the rights of ALL students.”

Following is the text of the resolution:
Resolution in Support of PEACE AND NEUTRALITY THROUGH UC DIVESTMENT FROM U.S. CORPORATIONS PROFITING FROM OCCUPATION
    1. WHEREAS, the Associated Students of the University of California, San Diego
    (ASUCSD) is an institution dedicated to promoting peace in all aspects of student
    experiences; and
    2. WHEREAS, the Principles of Community of the University of California, San Diego
    (UCSD) state that UCSD “is dedicated to learning, teaching, and serving society
    through education, research, and public service;” and
    3. WHEREAS, the University of California (UC) has already made significant efforts
    towards ethical and peaceful investments by divesting from tobacco companies,
    companies contributing to the Darfur conflict in Sudan, and companies contributing
    to the apartheid system in South Africa; and
    4. WHEREAS, on 13 January 2010 the ASUCSD passed a “Resolution in Support of the
    Victims of the 12 January 2010 Earthquake in Port-au-Prince, Haiti” stating that the
    ASUCSD “as global citizens are obliged to play a role in concurrent world events”;
    and
    5. WHEREAS, on 6 May 2009 the ASUCSD passed a “Resolution in Support of UC-Wide
    Corporate Social Responsibility Practices” urging the UC to “significantly limit asset
    allocations to non-socially responsible corporations”; and
    6. WHEREAS, UCSD student fees contribute financially to United States corporations
    (see clause 11, 12, 13) that support military occupation; and
    7. WHEREAS, the ASUCSD notes the complexity of international relations in all cases,
    including the Middle East, and recognizes the inability of a body such as the ASUCSD
    Council to adjudicate matters of international law and human rights law, or to take
    sides on final status issues on wars and occupations throughout the world; the
    ASUCSD does, however, note its own ability to abstain from investing in corporations
    that are furthering international conflicts and violations of human rights; and
    8. WHEREAS, the following findings from the United Nations and other leading human
    rights organizations regarding the conflict in the Palestinian Territories (West Bank,
    East Jerusalem, and the Gaza Strip) provide the context for an ASUCSD divestment
    effort; and
    9. WHEREAS, prior and subsequent to the 2008-2009 Gaza bombing, the occupying
    force has engaged in collective punishment of the Palestinian population, in the view
    of the human rights community,1 exemplified by the ongoing 32 month blockade on
    Gaza, of which the regional branch of Physicians for Human Rights has written, “the
    prolonged siege imposed… on Gaza, the closing of its borders, the tightening of
    policies regarding permission to exit Gaza for medical purposes, and the severe
    shortage of medications and other medical supplies, all severely damage the
    Palestinian health system and endanger the lives and health of thousands of
    Palestinian patients,”2 and of which the Red Cross has said, “the whole strip is being
    strangled, economically speaking”, making life in Gaza “a nightmare” for the civilian
    population, with essential supplies, including electricity, water, and fuel, being denied
    to the 1.5 million inhabitants, 90% of whom depend on aid to survive;3 and
    10.WHEREAS, within the occupied West Bank (including East Jerusalem), the occupying
    force continues a policy of settlement expansion that, according to the United
    Nations Security Council, Human Rights Watch, and the International Committee of
    the Red Cross, constitutes a direct violation of Article 49, paragraph six of the Fourth
    Geneva Convention which declares that “an occupying power shall not deport or
    transfer parts of its own civilian population into territories it occupies.”4 and
    according to United Nations Security Council Resolution 446 “determines that the
    policy and practices of [the occupying power] in establishing settlements in the
    Palestinian and other Arab territories occupied since 1967 have no legal validity and
    constitute a serious obstruction to achieving a comprehensive, just and lasting peace
    in the Middle East”5; and
    11.WHEREAS, according to the most recent UC investment report6, within the UC
    Retirement Program fund and the General Endowment Program fund, there exist
    direct investments in United States companies that materially support the occupation
    of the Palestinian territories, specifically the U.S. corporations General Electric and
    United Technologies; and
    12.WHEREAS, General Electric holds engineering support and testing service contracts
    with the occupying military and supplies the propulsion system for the Apache
    Assault Helicopter fleets which, as documented by Amnesty International and Human
    Rights Watch, have been used in attacks on Palestinian civilians, including the four
    January 2009 killings of Palestinian medical aid workers7; and
    13.WHEREAS, according to Amnesty International, United Technologies supplies the
    occupying force with Blackhawk helicopters, F-15, and F-16 aircraft engines, which
    have been used in the bombing of the American School in Gaza, the killing of
    Palestinian civilians, and the destruction of hundreds of Palestinian homes;8
    1. THEREFORE BE IT RESOLVED, that the ASUCSD will ensure that its assets, and will
    advocate that the UC assets, do not include holdings in General Electric and United
    Technologies because of their non-neutral financial stance in the occupation of
    Palestinian territories, nor does this delegitmize any country and their right of any
    peoples to be living in the region; be it further
    2. RESOLVED, that the ASUCSD will further examine its assets and UC assets for funds
    being invested in companies that a) provide military support for/or weaponry to
    support the occupation of the Palestinian territories or b) facilitate the building or
    maintenance of the illegal wall or the demolition of Palestinian homes[], or c)
    facilitate the building, maintenance, or economic development of illegal settlements
    on occupied Palestinian territories; be it further
    3. RESOLVED, that the ASUCSD will not invest, and will advocate that the UC divests,
    all stocks, securities, or other obligations from such sources with the goal of
    maintaining the divestment, in the case of said companies, until they cease such
    practices. Moreover, the ASUCSD will not make further investments, and will
    advocate that the UC not make further investments, in any United States companies
    materially supporting or profiting from occupation and human rights violations in the
    above mentioned ways; be it further
    4. RESOLVED, that this ASUCSD resolution takes a neutral stance in the conflict, and
    also stands as a principled expression of ethical and peaceful investment practices
    supporting universal human rights and equality;
    5. BE IT FINALLY RESOLVED, that the ASUCSD will recommend additional divestment
    policies to keep UC investments out of companies profiting from human rights
    violations throughout the world in other places as determined by the resolutions of
    the United Nations and other leading international human rights organizations.

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Harrison is editor of  San Diego Jewish World

Schmooze and News for all us Jews

March 26, 2010 Leave a comment

 By Donald H. Harrison

Donald H. Harrison

SAN DIEGO — Okoronkwo Umeham and his wife, Gail Feurzeig Umeham, have heard rumors that the Mexican government may apologize for his wrongful incarceration in a Tijuana Federal Detention Center earlier this month, but so far that is all that the reports have turned out to be – rumors.   To my way of thinking, far worse than the fact that the Nigerian-American was detained for carrying soup vegetables that Mexican Marines mistook for drugs, was his being chained hand and foot even as he was being taken back to the U.S. border to be set free.  Why should a man be humiliated with shackles and manacles when it already has been determined that he is innocent?   That’s the biggest outrage. 

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I’ve received a press release from District Attorney Bonnie Dumanis (who is Jewish) that she’s supporting  a member of her staff, Deputy District Attorney Richard Monroy, for the Superior Court judgeship from which Bob Coates is retiring.  With the flap about how Dumanis frequently has exercised the right of peremptory challenge to prevent certain out-of-favor judges from hearing criminal cases, it will be interesting to see how the public reacts to her own handpicked candidate for the bench.  If there is any backlash against Dumanis’ policies, the Monroy judgeship (assuming he draws an opponent) may be a test case.

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In the race for the 6th District seat of the San Diego City Council being vacated by Donna Frye, we were pleased to read that an old friend and a member of our community, Deputy State Attorney General Howard Wayne, has taken the lead in fundraising.  Given the crowded field, he will need television time to remind everyone of his records of accomplishments during the six years (maximum three terms) he served this area as a state assemblyman.

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My guess is that a lot of Jews who voted for Barack Obama for President will go over to the Republican side next election—assuming that the Republicans nominate someone who seems to be a reasonable choice.  John McCain, in my opinion, would have gotten more Jewish votes than he did, but for the fact that Sarah Palin seemed to so many of us to be an off-the-wall choice for vice president.  Now, with bad feeling between the leaders of Israel and the United States near an all-time high, many Jewish Democrats and independents will hope the GOP will find someone who is moderate on domestic issues and willing to stick by the Israelis even though the rest of the world is ganging up on them.

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Jennie Starr, who already has pioneered social gatherings for Hebrew speakers in the county, now is exploring the possibility of creating a public charter school in which the Hebrew language would be taught in secular fashion.  Starr indicates that one possible venue for such a school might be the Carmel Valley area, which can be reached by coastal communities by Interstate 5 and by inland communities by State Route 56.   Before such a school can be established, there are many hoops to jump through –not the least of which is showing that there is sufficient support in the community at large to make such a school viable.

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Navras Jaat Aafreedi, a gentleman in India whose articles about Jewish life there have been carried by this publication, tells us:  “As I attempt to craft a course on Jewish History and Culture – which would be the first university-level course of its kind in South Asia – I am also attempting to have a section of our library devoted to Jewish Studies.”  Anyone who wishes to help him should send books or DVDs by registered mail to him at the School of Social Sciences and Buddhist Studies at Gautam Buddha University, Greater Noida, Yamuna Expressway, Gautam Buddha Nagar – 201 308, Uttar Pradesh, India. 
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Bruce Kesler spotted the story in the San Francisco Chronicle about the new Assembly Speaker John Perez.  Growing up in a mixed Jewish and Latino area of Los Angeles, he learned to speak a bissel Yiddish. …  The Jerusalem Post reported that when Israel sent medical teams to Haiti following the massive earthquake earlier this year, it prompted some Jews to recall how Haiti had provided refuge to their families escaping from Hitler’s Germany and nazi-occupied Eastern Europe.