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Jerusalem tourism waxes and wanes with international politics

July 26, 2010 Leave a comment

By Ira Sharkansky

Ira Sharkansky

JERUSALEM–More than two million overseas visitors arrived in Jerusalem during a recent year. The attractions are well maintained places linked to individuals and events featured in the Hebrew Bible and New Testament, and a functioning Old City enclosed by walls built in ancient times and last reconstructed in the 16th century. The Old City offers sites and shopping for tourists, and four distinctive neighborhoods that are the homes of 30,000 Jews, Muslims, Armenians and other Christians. Only a short ride away is Bethlehem, equally compelling for those wanting to see the roots of Christianity. Jericho is not much further in another direction. It offers winter visitors a chance to dine comfortably in an outdoor restaurant, while ten miles away in Jerusalem it may be raining and close to freezing.
While the numbers coming to Jerusalem are impressive, and often a nuisance to locals having to cope with crowds and traffic, the city ranks lower than 50 others in the numbers of tourists it attracts. London, New York, Bangkok, Paris, and Rome attract from three to seven times the number of international tourists as Jerusalem. Dublin, Amsterdam, and Prague get twice as many, while even Kiev and Bucharest, plus resorts near Bangkok attract 50 percent more international visitors than Jerusalem.

Jerusalem may have more of a mystic pull than these other places. The “Jerusalem syndrome” is a documented condition whereby some visitors believe themselves to be biblical characters. Jewish and Christian sufferers act as David, Jesus, or some other figure associated with their faith. I am not aware of visitors to London and Paris thinking that they are Henry VIII, Napoleon, or any of the other figures associated with local history.
Why does Jerusalem rank only #51 on a sophisticated ranking of international tourism? 
Distance has something to do with it. Visitors to Western Europe can avail themselves of numerous attractive destinations as part of the same trip from home. There are decent beaches and other features in Tel Aviv and Netanya, but they attract only 60 and 10 percent of the overseas visitors as Jerusalem. Tiberias is on the Sea of Galilee and close to sites important to Christians, but draws only 25 percent of the number of visitors to Jerusalem. 
 
There are other sites in countries close to Jerusalem, notably Egypt, Jordan, Syria, and Lebanon, but the borders of the Middle East are not as easy to cross as those of Western Europe. For some years now Israeli security personnel have not allowed Israeli Jews to visit Bethlehem or Jericho without special permits, and others have to pass through barriers and inspections meant to protect us.

Politics and tension are more likely to figure in a decision to visit Jerusalem than other cities. The number of overseas tourists to Israel dropped from 2.4 million in 2000, which was mostly prior to the onset of the latest intifada, to a bit over one million in 2003, which was one of the bloodiest years. Numbers increased to 1.9 million by 2005 when the violence had diminished significantly. No other country included in the regions of Europe and the Mediterranean surveyed by the United Nations tourist agency showed comparable variations in the same period. Even on a mundane issue like this, the U.N. is unable to consider Israel part of the Middle East region, which includes all of the countries bordering it and Palestine.

Jerusalem has drawn more tourists that some well-known sites in Europe. It does better than Florence and Venice, and is pretty much tied with Athens. Why less than Kiev and Bucharest? There are mysteries in the world of tourism that may boil down to nothing more than current fashion or a lack of precision in the numbers.

Tourist flows change with politics and economics. Thirty years ago there was virtually no direct travel between Israel, the Soviet Union and Eastern Europe. Now Russian visitors are in second place behind those from the United States; there are sizable numbers from Ukraine and Poland. Thousands come each year from India, Korea, Japan, China, and Nigeria. Indonesia and Morocco receive Israelis and send visitors to Israel, even though there are no formal diplomatic relations. There are even a few hundred visitors annually from Malaysia and Iran, whose officials are usually among our most intense critics .

My latest Jerusalem experience may be part of a multicultural gesture to attract overseas visitors, or it may reflect nothing more than the lack of experience or attention by the person responsible. While I usually pay no attention to the music piped into the exercise room at the university gym, this morning I became alert to something familiar. It was Silent Night, in the English version I was required to sing many years ago at the Highland School. But only in December. Never in July.

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Sharkansky is professor emeritus of political science at Hebrew University

Adventures in San Diego Jewish History, August 6, 1954, part 2

July 2, 2010 Leave a comment

Compiled by San Diego Jewish World staff

Personals
Southwestern Jewish Press, August 6, 1954, Page 3

Succumbing to the lure of our neighbor to the south are Zelma and Sid Goldstein who left for a seven day plane trip through Mexico. Among the interesting places they will visit are Cuernavaca, Taxco and Mexico City.

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Rabbi and Mrs. Morton J. Cohn with Jane and Morton Jr. left Saturday for the Camp of Living Judaism at Saratoga for a regular session of the Jewish Youth Conference.  Rabbi Cohn will be the dean of the conference.

Also attending the camp which attracts about 350 high school and college age students are Rochelle Goodrich, Brenda Heiman and Leani Leichtag.

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Mr. and Mrs. Irving Schneider had as their houseguest for a week, her cousin Miss Arlene Brinn of New York.  Miss Brinn combined business with pleasure on her trip to San Francisco and Canada. While in San Diego she was entertained by members of her family, Mrs. Jennie Siner, Mrs. Sophie Garber, and MRs. Sam Shapov.

In Los Angeles, Miss Brinn was feted by Rabbi and Mrs. N.I. Addleson and their daughter and son-in-law, Dr. and Mrs. Frank Kholos.

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Sid Sonnabaum, son of Mrs. Rosalie Sonnabaum, has returned home from Pars where he served with the Armed Forces for two years and is enjoying the rest of the summer becoming reacquainted with his friends. Sid will be enrolled at State College in the fall.

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Mannie and Betty Adler and son, Louis, used almost every means of travel, including plane, train, boat and taxi to reach a resort on Vancouver Island, British Columbia.  They spent a week at Shawnigan Lake, several days in Victoria and San Francisco, and a day each in Portland and Seattle.

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Mr. and Mrs. Thomas Garber left this week to visit their children in Duluth, Minn., Milwaukee, Wisc., and New York. The two big moments of the trip will be the introduction to two new grandchildren, one 2 weeks old and one 4 weeks old.

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Mrs. Elsie Meyer has as her guest for the summer, her aunt, Mrs. Ines Schwartz of New York, whom she hasn’t seen since they parted 17 years ago in a small German town.  Mrs. Schwartz lived for a time in Mexico City, but this is her first visit to California.

The only disappointment of Mrs. Schwartz’ visit is the fact that she hasn’t seen Mrs. Meyer’s son, Horace, who is stationed in Korea with the Air Corps.
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Mr. and Mrs. Irving Friedman and family are taking a week’s motor tour to Northern California.  Irv will do a little business on the side, of course.

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Mrs. Etta Bilgray of New York is visiting for a month with her aunt and uncle, Mr. and Mrs. Louis Addleson.  Her any cousins in San Diego have rolled out the red carpet and are keeping her occupied.  She accompanied Mr. and Mrs. Harry Wax to San Francisco this week for the B’nai B’rith Convention.

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Rabbi and Mrs. N.I. Addleson of Hollywood were vacationing in La Jolla last week. They spent the time visiting with their children and sisters and brothers. Rabbi Addleson will rejoin his congregation in time for the High Holy Days.

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Morris Breitbard, daughter Sylvia, and son in law Babe Bard, will leave on a six-week trip back East.  Picking up a new car in Detroit, they will drive through Canada, Niagara Falls, New York City, Washington, and Virgina and visit relatives en route.

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Mrs. Harry Goodwin has returned from a trip that was to have taken two months, but due to transportation difficulties that turned into a blessing, lasted for six months. After visiting her sister and family in New Zealand, Mrs. Goodwin spent some time in Australia and returned to the States via France and England.  While in England she stopped in her native Leeds.

Unquestionably, Harry is delighted to have the traveler home.

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Mrs. Ida Addis and family wish to thank their friends for their kindnesses during their recent bereavement.

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Mr. George Neumann wishes to thank his friends for all their kindness during his recent illness.

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Is Our Face Red Dept – Don’t know when we’ve been as happy to reprint a retraction: Our report that the S.Z. Greenbergs are moving to El Centro couldn’t have been wronger. As a matter of fact, they’re still in Europe and having a wonderful time.

Boner No 2: Mickey Rosenberg was given the wrong parents in our last issue… his real mother an father are Mr. and Mrs. Sol Rosenberg.

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Council of Jewish Women Holds Membership Tea
Southwestern Jewish Press, August 6, 1954, Page 3

The National Council of Jewish Women will hold its annual garden membership tea on Tuesday, August 17, 1:30 p.m. at the home of Mrs. Sol Price, 2345 Juan St.  President Mrs. Milton Roberts and members of the Board will be hostesses.

A musical theme, “Sunflower,” identified with the invitations will introduce the musical program featuring Council’s Glee Club under the direction of Mrs. Ed Merkin.  Glee Club members are Mrs. Robert Beitscher, Leo Sarfan, Harry Furgatch and Sid Smith accompanied on the piano by Mrs. Sidney Silverman. An “Oklahoma “musical parody will present Council’s program in a melodious manner.  Star attraction will be the guest appearance of Betty Hall Jones, popular song stylist.

Membership chairman in charge of this event is Mrs. E. Morris Sims and her co-chairman is Mrs. William Gerelick. Program chairman is Mrs. Robert Drexler. Reservations are being taken by Mrs. Milton Effron, AC-2-1859, and Mrs. Lester Himmel, JU-2-8432.

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“Magic of Hawaii” Theme of Hadassah
Southwestern Jewish Press, August 6, 1954, Page 3

Hadassah will present Mrs. Leo Hirsch of Los Angeles at a Membership Tea on August 9, at the Kona Kai Club. As vice president of the Southern Pacific Coast Region, Mrs. Hirsch will outline the many varied projects of the organization which comprises a national membership of 350,000 women.

Coupled with this gracious speaker will be a fashion showing  of imports directly from the shores of the Islands, which will capture “The Magic of Hawaii.”

Mrs. Edward Kitaen, membership chairman, is confident that the 500 (or over) membership mark will be accomplished after this pleasurable afternoon.  Joining Mrs. Kitaen is Mrs. Manuel Hafner, co-chairman, in extending this invitation to all no-Hadassah members to meet the new officers and members as guests of the chapter.  Invitations are being sent to members at a cost of $1.55.
Invitations must be obtained in order to attend the Tea. The following women will be glad to accept your request and offer any in formatijon: Mmes Edward Kitaen, HO-9-1389; Archie Bushnell, AT-2-9136; Fred Leonard, CO-4-4524; and Manuel Hafner, AC-2-2876.

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Cradle
Southwestern Jewish Press, August 6, 1954, Page 3

Mr. and Mrs. J. B. Meyers are rejoicing over “three of a kind” since 7 lb, 8 oz Steven Mark joined brothers Philip Brent and David Lee on July 14.  Equally pleased is grandmother, Mrs. Ida Addis.

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Seven pound young Miss Marti Ilene was born to Mr. and Mrs. Stuart Penter on July 20.  Grandparents, Mr. and Mrs. Max Greenberg and Mr. and Mrs. Its Penter, will have the time of their lives spoiling the  newest member of the family.

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Mr. and Mrs. Fred Weitzen, Jr., and 15 month old Steven welcomed ito their home Harold Frederick, born July 31.  Mr. and Mrs. Arthur Glickman and MR. and Mrs. Fred Weitzen are the happy grandparents.

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Classified

Southwestern Jewish Press, August 6, 1954, Page 3

ROOM FOR RENT – Gentleman or lady; quiet, light, clean airy room; kitchen privileges; garage and use of telephone.  Near Bus No. 2.  Phone BE-4-5624 evenings.

ROOM FOR RENT  for lady, in very nice private home. Cooking privileges. ½ block from the bus. Call before 11:00 a.m. or after 6:00 p.m., aT-4-6586.

LARGE BEDROOM with adjoining bath in widow’s home for employhed lady.  ½ block to 3 buses. Very reasonable.  Phone CY-5-4309.

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Calendar

Southwestern Jewish Press, August 6, 1954, Page 3

7th-Yomaco Beach Party –Mission Beach –8:30 p.m.
9th-Hadassah Membership Tea – 1:30
13th—Jewish War Veterans Aux. Poppy Sale
15th—Jewish Labor Committee Picnic – Pepper Grove – 12 noon
17th—Council of Jewish Women Membership Tea – 2345 Juan St.
21st – Y.J.C. Club Pot Luck Supper –Tifereth Israel Center – 8:00 p.m.
26th—Temple Beth Israel Semi-Annual Meeting
29th—Hebrew Home for the Aged Annual Meeting and Installation—2:00 p.m

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Becomes Problem
Southwestern Jewish Press, August 6, 1954, Page 3

The man who insists on telling you all his troubles eventually becomes one of yours.

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Double Talk
Southwestern Jewish Press, August 6, 1954, Page 4

By Janet & Susan Solof

Summertime is in full blast,
School times are in the past.
Just loads of fun for one and ll,
And getting ready for next fall.

The Kona Kai Club was taken over by the younger set for the purpose of celebrating David Gordon’s 7th birthday.  Taking it over were Mark Solomon, Barbi Addleson, Allan Breitbard, Jeffrey Hollander, Vickie and Terri Marsh, David Cohen, Steve Horrow, Richie Selton, John Ruden, Susan Kahn, Jim Krause.  Lunch and swimming made the party perfect. David agrees birthdays are wonderful.  Happy birthday.

Julian Frank ‘n Linda Douglas, Bernie Sosna ‘n Beverly Kitaen, Shearn Plann ‘n Lois Liff, Burt Sharpe ‘n Lucy Recht, Don Byrnes ‘n Jane Cohn, Don Kobernick ‘n Faggie Krasner, Joe Winicki ‘n Natalie Veitzer, were trying hard to keep the surprise of Herb Wenig’s party a secret. It was given by and at the home of Sharlene Stone.  Happy Birthday, Herb.

A “schmaltzy” party can best describe the fun everyone had at Paul Levine’s 8th birthday party. A large group of Paul’s friends helped make the celebration complete with many games, ice cream cake and favors.  This was the “moistest” part which is really the “bestest.”

Susie Hutler and Sandy Byrock were the hostesses at a terrific bar-b-que and dancing party. Everyone in the gang was there and everyone said “fun was floating around.” A wonderful time was had by all.

Handing out a good time to all her friends was Roslind Steffel when she gave a craz-zy party. All the kids joined in and had loads of fun.

Adrienne and Elliott Polland from Gary, Indiana, were entertained by their cousin Zena Fuerzieg at a get-together.  Those who rated it tops were Roger Brenes, Janice Klaskin, Gary Naiman, Susan Solof, David Levens, Shirley Kaufman, Sheldon Golden, Janet Solof, Gary Cantor and Zena.  Adrienne and Elliott agree that San Diego is a pretty terrific city.

Bye now from Yours Truly—CY05-0679.

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Trooper Doopers

Southwestern Jewish Press, August 6, 1954, Page 4

Boy Scout Troop No. 99 meets at Tifereth Israel Synagogue at 7:30 p.m. every Monday night under the able leadership of Scoutmaster Reuben Aved. Boys 11 to 14 are invited to join and have a whale of a good time.

Troop 99 went out on an overnight camp=out over the 17th and 18th of July.  They pitched camp in pup tents in Torrey Pines, cooked their own meals, went swimming on Sunday and came home determined to do the following:

1.  Have a daylight hike on August 1st.

2.  Have another overnight campout August 22nd.

Come on, you would be Scouters, and find out how life is really worth living!

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Del Mar Track Breaking Records
Southwestern Jewish Press, August 6, 1954, Page 4 

DEL MAR, Calif., August 6 –From a near record list of 15 nominations a field of at least a dozen top sprinters will trek postward here Saturday in the $10,000 added Bing Crosby Handicap at six furlongs as Del Mar Turf Club winds up its first full week of thoroughbred racing.

The Bing Crosby, named in honor of Del Mar’s founder and first president, has had eight previous runnings, and has been captured by such campaigners as Prevaricator, Cover Up, Blue Reading, Gustaf and Ode. Winner of this stake generally comes in for recognition as the spring champion of the 41-day meeting.

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(Money Advice)
Southwestern Jewish Press, August 6, 1954, Page 4

Many people advise others to save money—but very few give advice on how to do it.

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Lasker Lodge News
Southwestern Jewish Press, August 6, 1954, Page 4

By Lou Levitt

At the last regular meeting Dr. Milton Millman was unanimously elected to the post of second vice president.  Marshall Zucker announces the fall drive for new members is now under way.  One of the prizes being offered to a lucky winner who brings in new members will be a free trip to Las Vegas. This  is certainly something worth working for.

At the next meeting there will be the presentation of the Americanism Award to Millie Berman who recently figured in the San Diego hearings on Communism.  There will also be a report of the progress made at the convention in San Francisco.

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Adventures in Jewish History” is sponsored by Inland Industries Group LP in memory of long-time San Diego Jewish community leader Marie (Mrs. Gabriel) Berg. Our “Adventures in San Diego Jewish History” series will be a regular feature until we run out of history.  To find stories on specific individuals or organizations, type their names in our search box.

Reason behind world’s Gaza flotilla uproar: plain, simple, old-fashioned anti-Semitism

June 15, 2010 Leave a comment

By Morton A. Klein and Dr. Daniel Mandel

NEW YORK–Disturbing, shocking and eye-opening. Israel attempts to legally prevent Iranian missiles and rockets from being delivered to Gaza, controlled by the internationally recognized terrorist group, Hamas; yet the world and media condemns the Jewish state of Israel and mourns the nine Hamas supporters who were killed by Israel in self-defense. And remember – Israel stops weapons, but daily allows delivery of humanitarian aid into Gaza. So why this upside-down world? There is no reasonable explanation but one – anti-Semitism against the Jewish state.

By striking contrast, North Korea’s unprovoked torpedoing and sinking a South Korean ship, killing 45 on board, evokes little response. Russia bulldozing and carpet-bombing of Chechnya, killing thousands of civilians, again evokes little response. The Sudanese regime’s endless massacre of hundreds of thousands of Sudanese Christians and animists is greeted with a deafening silence. Yet, it is Israeli officials who do not travel to certain Western countries for fear of arrest on war crimes charges. North Korean leaders, Russian officers, Sudanese officials and Hamas terrorists travel freely without fear of arrest and prosecution.

Colonel Richard Kemp, former British commander in Afghanistan said, “I don’t think there has ever been a time in the history of warfare when any army has made more efforts to reduce civilian casualties and deaths of innocent people than the IDF in Gaza.” Yet we live in a world in which people increasingly ignore real war crimes while obsessing on fabricated Israeli ones.

The Gaza flotilla consisted of six ships, five of which peacefully complied with the Israeli blockade, were searched and proceeded without bloodshed. Only the sixth ship, the Mavi Mamara, refused to comply. Naturally, the Israelis boarded the ship. Expecting only some noisy pro-Palestinian activists, the Israelis carried merely paintball guns, often used in riot control, and side arms, which were not even drawn.

This was hardly an overreaction. However, the jihadists and their sympathizers on board, who were armed with weapons, night vision goggles and bullet-proof vests, assaulted, seized and overpowered the Israelis with metal rods, bats, knives and even shot and wounded some of the Israelis with the Israelis’ own side arms.

The evidence of the unprovoked assault on the Israelis was clear and quickly available: video footage showing the Israelis being assaulted upon setting foot on board; video clips of the Hamas supporters on board the ship singing songs celebrating the murder of Jews and happily anticipating violence and their own ‘martyrdom.’ Weapons and contraband were subsequently found on the ship. The Turkish IHH, who are known to be Al-Qaeda supporters and aligned with Iran, were the violent Hamas supporters’ enablers. The Turkish government, which permitted the flotilla to sail, claimed falsely that no weapons were on board. But there is no outrage at the violent pro-Hamas activists, the IHH or the Turkish government, who caused or made possible the bloodshed – only the Israelis who defended their lives.

In short, this is not merely a case of biased reporting, confusion or lack of relevant data – it is a case of anti-Semitic agitation. What is occurring is not just the attempted delegitimizing of Israel: this is also the re-legitimizing of anti-Semitism, the idea that Jews are a uniquely sinister force for evil in the world. Anti-Semitism produces the distorted vision which sees Jews as inflicting evil, regardless of the facts.

This resurgent disease is also evident in the generalized criticism of Israel grounded in the false notion that Israel is to blame for the absence of peace. Israeli concessions of territory, money, arms and assets to the Palestinians over 17 years since the 1993 Oslo accords are simply airbrushed from history. Palestinian terrorism is ignored or rationalized, as is the incitement to hatred and murder within the Palestinian Authority and Gaza which feeds it.

By these means Israel is held out as the aggressor, the inflexible power unwilling to make the concessions to the Palestinians that would bring peace. Israel obtains little support for taking justifiable action anyone else wouldn’t hesitate to take – like boarding a ship defying a blockade.

Anti-Semitism demands that Jews do nothing: not fight wars, not kill terrorists, not even block funds and arms reaching their would-be genocidal enemies. Anti-Semitism regards anything short of Jews being defenseless as a violation of the natural order. That is why the Jewish state of Israel is being widely condemned when it is simply trying to protect its own citizens.

Spanish leftist politician Pilar Rahola has asked of much of today’s European left, “Why, of all the world’s conflicts, only this one interests them? Why a tiny country which struggles to survive is criminalized? … why when it is the only country in the world which is threatened with destruction, it is the only one that nobody considers a victim?” The tragic answer, as Rahola rightly concludes, is that this is how “anti-Semites” behave.

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Morton A. Klein is National President of the Zionist Organization of America. Dr. Daniel Mandel is Director of the ZOA’s Center for Middle East Policy and a Fellow in History at Melbourne University.

Israeli violinist and pianist to perform together June 17 in Carlsbad

June 14, 2010 Leave a comment
By Eileen Wingard 
 

Eileen Wingard

CARLSBAD, California–Israel has supplied the world with an abundance of musical talent. In addition to many fine orchestras, topped by the Israel Philharmonic under Zubin Mehta, it has been the birthplace or the nurturing ground for violinists Itzhak Perlman, Pinchas Zuckerman, Shlomo Mintz; pianinsts Yefim Bronfman, Daniel Barenboim and others. The organization most responsible for identifying and supporting burgeoning Israeli talent has been the America-Israel Cultural Foundation (AICF).
    
This Thursday, June 17, at 7:00 p.m. at the Ruby G. Schulman Auditorium in Carlsbad’s Dove Library, 1779 Dove Lane, Carlsbad, two AICF recipients, violinist Asi Matathias, and pianist Victor Stanislavsky, will perform works by Cesar Franck and Edvard Grieg. The concert is part of the San Diego Jewish Music Series of the San Diego Center for Jewish Culture. It is underwritten by the Leichtag Foundation.
    
Violinist Asi Matathias, 22, made his debut at 14 with the Israel Philharmonic Orchestra under the baton of Zubin Mehta. Mehta was so impressed by the youth that he invited him to solo with the IPO the following season. Mehta described Asi as “extremely musical, sensitive and technically accurate.”
    
After Asi’s early violin training in Israel with Chaim Taub, the talented young man continued his studies at the Universitat fur Musik und darstellende Kunst in Vienna. He has been supported by the AICF since 1997.
    
Asi has performed with orchestras in Europe and recorded with the BBC, the Austrian Radio, and the Israel Broadcasting Authority. Currently, he is working with Pinchas Zukerman as a scholarship student at the Manhattan School of Music.
    
Along with his studies, he continues to concertiize. His 2009-10 season included a concert at Carnegie Hall Stern Auditorium, playing alongside pianist Yefim Bronfman and cellist Wolfgang Laufer; solo programs  in Carnegie Weill Recital Hall,  Alice Tully Hall in Lincoln Center, and in Japan, and another solo performance with the IPO.
    
Pianist Victor Stanislavsky, 27, has been an AICF scholarship winner since 2002. He has also won top prizes in Italy’s “Pozzoli International Piano Competion and in China’s International Piano Competition. Recently, he was one of thirty pianists world-wide, invited to compete in the Van Cliburn Competition.
    
Victor was born in the Ukraine and moved to Israel in 1990. His early training was at the Rubin Academy in Haifa. He received his BA degree with highest honors from the Buchmann-Mehta School of Music of the Tel Aviv University.  In addition to soloing with Israel’s top orchestras, he has performed in the United States, Canada, Mexico, Eastern and Western Europe, South Korea and China.
    
After a recent Athenaeum Concert in La Jolla, Ken Herman of the La Jolla Light praised his “youthful vigor and mature interpretation.”
    
Tickets for the recital are $15 JCC members, $18 non-members. Call 858-362-1348. 
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Wingard is a freelance writer based in San Diego 
 
 
 

 

Mass murder at sea, or in a mosque, and the world is silent. But when Israel defends itself, the world goes crazy

June 5, 2010 1 comment

 By Alex Liff

Alex Liff

SAN DIEGO–In early twentieth century the American journalist John Reed wrote a book called, Ten Days That Shook The World  in which he described the events of the Russian revolution.  Perhaps one day someone will publish something along the lines of “10 days that characterized the world” to describe the sinister 21’st century.   Over 10 days recently we witnessed a series of seemingly unrelated but very interesting events that clearly illustrated the degeneracy of the current 21’st century generation. 

First, came the irrefutable proof, established by an international commission, after a careful, multi month study, that a North Korean torpedo sunk the South Korean ship killing 46 innocent sailors.  It was a clear act of war but you wouldn’t know that by the reaction of the world’s powers.  China refused to condemn the act while Russia insisted on seeing the evidence itself and has still not made any comments.  In general the reaction was rather muted, one that can best be characterized “yep that’s kind of bad, what’s for breakfast Joe?”

Second, came the news out of Pakistan that around 100 innocent worshippers were butchered, slaughtered in cold blood in their houses of worship.  Their crime?  They were Muslim, but apparently the wrong kind of Muslim for their ruthless killers who also were Muslims. The world’s reaction?  Hardly a murmur, not a single Muslim of note in Pakistan or anywhere else for that matter hit the streets with any kind of protest for what has become a nearly daily occurrence in the Muslim world.  And just to prove that this was no fluke, the very next day a group of Muslim gunmen burst into a hospital and butchered six more people, attacking the emergency room of all places.   The world stood by silently once again, no protests, no UN condemnation, complete and utter silence which has become so typical in these occurrences.

And then came Monday, the day the so called “Free Gaza Flotilla” met the Israeli Navy and unleashed a worldwide storm of protest and condemnation.  So what was all that about and what triggered the world’s violent reaction to an event that paled in comparison to the ones above?  Let’s take a look at some interesting facts here.  The Gaza flotilla was essentially sponsored and organized by a Turkish Muslim group with known ties to al Qaeda and Hamas, which were well documented by CIA and other U.S government agencies.   Furthermore, it was put together with the tacit approval if not outright support from the Turkish Islamist government headed by Tayyip Erdogan.   You may remember Erdogan as the one storming off the stage at Davos, in a fit of anger after accusing Israel’s President Shimon Peres of genocide in Gaza after the Israeli actions there to stop the missile firings.  In fact Erdogan has been a relentless critic of Israel, while at the same time warmly embracing  Iran’s  Mahmoud Ahmadinejad.  He went so far as to declare that Iran had no intentions to build a nuclear bomb, was a peaceful symbol of democracy and was in no way threatening the world peace, unlike the aggressive and human-rights denying Israel. 

Now a naïve observer, may ask, who is this humanitarian dignitary, Tayyip Erdogan, who is so keenly concerned about the supposed humanitarian crisis in Gaza and what makes the Turks so uniquely qualified to champion such noble a cause?  Let history serve us as a quick guide here.  In the early 20th century, right around World War I, the Turks masterminded and executed one of the grisliest genocides in history where in the course of several weeks they raped, pillaged and brutally murdered up to 1.5 million Armenians. 

Furthermore, to make matters worse, despite the overwhelming evidence and worldwide consensus on the historical facts, to this day they have continued to deny that fact and have refused to pay any restitution to the victims.  As a personal aside, my close Armenian friend’s great grandfather was nailed to the door by the Turks in a manner that was very characteristic of the bestial murders of the Armenians. 

A little bit later in the century, as the founder of the current Turkish republic Kamal Ataturk,  launched his war of liberation, the Turks drove out and murdered hundreds of thousands of Greeks and a few remaining Armenians.  I visited the city of Izmir in Turkey, a city which used to be a major Greek center, and there is virtually nothing left to remind one of the Greeks’ existence.  In fact eyewitness accounts from Izmir tell a gruesome story of mass murder of the civilian population, a true ethnic cleansing if you will.  

Continuing our historical journey, deeper into the 20th century, one finds the atrocious treatment of the Turkish Kurds by Ataturk and his successors where an estimated 30,000 of them were murdered, countless others imprisoned, their language and way of life outlawed.  Those were Turkish citizens mind you, their only crime was the desire to maintain their self identity.  In fact, while hitchhiking in Turkey in the 90’s I happened to ride in a car with a Kurdish Turk who after hearing that I am familiar with their plight, opened up, and in broken English told me how the Turkish army murdered half his family and how he could not openly practice his way of life.  So a slight diversion if you will, just to help one understand Turkey’s humanitarian credentials and background.  In fact, as a representative of the Turkish nation, Erdogan would be well served to remember a simple saying along the lines of “He who lives in the glass house, should not toss the first stone”.  

So it is clear that a Muslim, terror-linked charity organized the flotilla, staffed it mostly with Turks and it was sponsored by the Israel-hating, Israel-bashing government of Erdogan to further his own political agenda.   Now, an innocent observer may ask, what about all those supposed Europeans, an Israeli (living in Sweden), a Nobel peace laureate and a Holocaust survivor who were on board?  Well, most of the Europeans, and Australians and other nationalities on board had last names like Talib and Mukhbar and so one.  They are Muslims who happen to have European passports.  The Holocaust survivor in her 80’s can be forgiven for getting matters confused and as for the Israeli, well each nation has its share of Benedict Arnolds and Israel is no different. 

The Israeli government went to great lengths to warn the flotilla to stay away and was clear that they would not be let through.  Israelis offered to transport all of the legal goods to Gaza by land but that did not suit the organizers.  For Erdogan this was simply a way to try to further isolate and embarrass Israel while scoring some cheap points on the home political front.  It’s much better to have the masses focused on the “evil Zionist entity” than on the everyday bleak reality that his party has created at home.  For the willing participants, although they came from different countries and different walks of life, there was one common element that bonded and united them and that was their deep hatred of the state of Israel and all things Jewish.  In other words, a pogrom in the making, Muslim style. 

The Israelis made every effort to avoid a confrontation, warning the ships to turn back on numerous occasions but that is not why these rabble rousers came.  They wanted their day in the sun in the anti-Semitic pantheon and they got it.  Even when faced with such provocation, Israelis made every effort to avoid casualties, foolishly dropping off virtually unarmed commandos into the arms of blood thirsty thugs waiting on board with knives, metal poles and chairs.    Seven brave commandos were savagely beaten and almost lynched, essentially leaving the Israelis no choice but to escalate their use of force to protect these valiant young men.  The fact that only nine rabble rousers were killed is a testament to the Israeli self restraint and courage under fire. 

The world’s reaction to this propaganda trick was swift and predictable.  “State sponsored terrorism” declared Edrogan whose nation should know a thing or two about that.  “A bloody massacre” whined the west’s favorite “moderate,” PLO leader Mahmoud Abbas.  Even the old favorite, “disproportionate use of force” returned, from the mouth of the French.  The Australians, the British and everyone in between piled on and jumped on the merry Israel-bashing bandwagon.  And all those Muslims who were completely silent, virtually non-existent on Saturday when 100 people were butchered in the mosques of Pakistan or Sunday when six more were gunned down in the hospital suddenly found the inspiration to rush to the streets to condemn this “bestial” Israeli aggression that killed nine provocateurs. 

Even the U.S, I guess by now not surprisingly, expressed “concern” and demanded immediate accounting and the facts.  In fact, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton sternly warned that the situation in Gaza is not sustainable and cannot continue, in other words, get rid of the blockage and let the Iranian weapons flow in.  Yes, a great friend of Israel indeed.  What made the international reaction even more amazing is the fact that there was clear and undeniable evidence that Israel provided, on tape, showing how the savage crowd set upon the descending commandos, but I guess when it comes to Israel and  the world’s band of anti-Semites, facts are not really relevant.

Predictable? Yes.  Expected?  You bet.  Understandable?  Never.  It is a wicked, crazy world we live in and it’s drifting further into the abyss.  The moral compass is so off kilter that it would almost take a divine intervention to set it straight.  God called on Israel to be a light onto the nations  but the evil darkness that is enveloping us is clearly trying to block out that light.  Let’s say a prayer for the speedy recovery of the valiant Israeli commandos who almost gave their lives protecting us. They are the best, the brightest, they are our pride and strength. Let’s hope that the Israeli generals who sent them into battle with paint guns have learned their lessons.   Israel we stand with thee, the light shall not be overcome with evil darkness. Erdogan and his ilk better take heed. 

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Liff is a freelance journalist based in San Diego

Roll call on Gaza flotilla portrays the values of international community

June 4, 2010 Leave a comment

By Shoshana Bryen

Shoshana Bryen

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

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

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

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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.

ZOA calls for investigation of Turkey’s role in Gaza flotilla violence

June 1, 2010 Leave a comment

NEW YORK (Press Release)–The Zionist Organization of America (ZOA) has condemned the media and foreign government attacks, including from China, France, Germany, Italy and Turkey, on Israeli defensive actions against the Gaza terror ship. This ship, part of the ‘Gaza flotilla’ which was organized by a Turkish Islamist group, the Humanitarian Relief Foundation (Islan Haklary Ve Hurriyetleri Vakfi – IHH),  deliberately attempted to breach the lawful Israeli blockade of Gaza, a territory at war with Israel, run by Hamas, an internationally recognized terrorist regime whose Charter calls for the destruction of Israel (Article 15) and the world-wide murder of Jews (Article 7) and which has fired thousands of missiles into Israel in recent years.

The violence of the Hamas supporters on one of the six ships in the Gaza flotilla, including the use of knives, axes, bats, firebombs and metal rods, as well as seizing and using of Israeli personnel’s side-arms, led to clashes and exchanges of fire that has resulted in the reported deaths of 15 people onboard the flotilla. Seven members of the Israeli boarding party, whose non-aggressive intent was evident from being armed principally with paint-ball guns (usually used in crowd control situations, not armed confrontations) were also wounded and injured, some seriously.

The ZOA calls for an investigation of Turkey, the country in which the organization assisting Islamist terrorists and responsible for the flotilla is based; from which the flotilla set sail; and whose government wrongly assured that the flotilla cargo had been duly inspected and found to consist purely of humanitarian supplies and had found no weapons. Yet Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan acknowledged no Turkish responsibility, condemned Israel and demanded punishing Israel for the calling it a “bloody massacre.”

To call the deaths of the 15 on board, as Erdogan did, a “massacre” when shooting did not occur until half an hour after Israeli personnel boarded the vessel and were assaulted by Hamas supporters in the manner already described is an obscene and absurd charge. It was only when the lives of Israeli personnel were in serious jeopardy that the Israelis begin to defend themselves. If those on board had not brutally assaulted the Israeli soldiers, not one Israeli shot would have been fired and no one would have been harmed.

The ZOA also rejects international criticism of the lawful Israeli action to board and inspect the vessels of the Hamas-supporting Gaza flotilla and contrasts this criticism with the relative silence and lack of interest in North Korea’s recent, unprovoked torpedoing of a South Korean vessel, resulting in the deaths of 45 South Korean servicemen. That the United Nations and the world said virtually nothing over North Korea’s unjustified and unprovoked action exposes the hypocrisy of the hue and cry against Israel for a lawful boarding of the Gaza flotilla that encountered unnecessary, unjustifiable and deliberate assault from the Hamas supporters ion the flotilla.

The bad faith and violence of the flotilla has passed without serious condemnation from the United Nations and the world, thereby assisting the cause of the terrorists who organized this propaganda event.

The IHH is not a peaceable, charitable institution – it is a Muslim Brotherhood-connected, Islamist organization, outlawed by Israel in 2008 for involvement in Hamas’ global fund-raising machinery. It has been similarly involved in assisting violent Islamist groups in Afghanistan, Bosnia and Chechnya. In 2006, the Danish Institute for International Studies demonstrated the IHH’s connections to al-Qaeda. The IHH belongs to a Saudi-based umbrella organization known to finance terrorism called the Union of Good (Ittilaf al-Kheir in Arabic), chaired by Sheikh Yusuf Qaradawi, who is known best for his religious ruling that encourages suicide attacks against Israeli civilians. In November 2008, the U.S. Treasury designated the Union’s leaders as Specially Designated Global Terrorists (SDGT) “created by Hamas leadership to transfer funds to the terrorist organization.”’

According to the French magistrate Jean-Louis Bruguiere, testifying at the Seattle trial of would-be al Qaeda Millenium bomber Ahmed Ressamin, the IHH had played “[a]n important role” in the al Qaeda Millenium bomb plot targeting Los Angeles airport.  The IHH has also been involved in weapons trafficking, and played in addition a key role in galvanizing anti-Western sentiment among Turkish Muslims in the lead-up to the 2003 war in Iraq.

The Gaza flotilla is also the brainchild of prominent members of the International Solidarity Movement (ISM), including ISM co-founder Huwaida Arraf, who has described suicide bombings as “noble” and argued that Palestinian so-called resistance “must”’ include violence.

The ZOA condemns those journalists and media outlets that grossly mislead the public by falsely identifying the Hamas-supporting Gaza flotilla members as “peace activists” (for example, Charles Levinson in the Wall Street Journal) and the armed clashes aboard the ship initiated by the Hamas supporters as a “massacre” (The Scotsman). It also condemns Associated Press (AP) reporters Selcan Hacaoglu and Lee Keath, who virtually eliminated from their account any reference to the violence initiated against the Israeli boarding party and who were silent about the video evidence showing the initiation of violence by the flotilla members against the Israeli boarding party.

These inexcusable omissions and distortions enabled them to mislead the public by writing of “Israel’s deadly commando raid on ships taking humanitarian aid to the blockaded Gaza Strip.” Such reports have given aid and comfort to the terrorists by helping produce condemnation and anti-Israeli demonstrations in Europe and the Arab and Muslim worlds.

Prior to sailing, the flotilla members were filmed chanting songs glorifying violence and killing, including one about ‘Khaybar’ – the iconic slaughter of Jews by Muslims in the 7th century which is used as a rallying cry to kill the Jews today by Islamist terrorists. Some of these supporters spoke keenly of ‘martyrdom’ – achieving their own death through launching violence against others.

ZOA National President Morton A. Klein said, “The ZOA is appalled at the hypocrisy and dishonesty of the international criticism of Israel to the deaths on board the Gaza flotilla and the corresponding relative absence of international condemnation of the deliberate and violent assault of the Hamas-supporting Gaza flotilla members to a lawful Israeli boarding party….”

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Preceding provided by Zionist Organization of America