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Hostility awaits Pope’s visit to England

September 15, 2010 Leave a comment
By Lloyd Levy

Lloyd Levy

 LONDON — The Pope is arriving in the UK imminently, on the first official visit by any Pope for at least 500 years —yes that’s correct, it was over 500 years ago since Henry 8th decimated the Catholic Church in England, and established the Protestant Church of England in its stead.  

So one would expect a great deal to be made of this official visit (the previous Pope visited in 1982, but it was a Catholic event and not an “official” event). Well indeed, a great fuss is being made, but in a vicious wave of anti religious hysteria, generated by much of the press and TV. The Pope’s visit is being widely criticised on the grounds of child abuse, gay rights, women’s rights, the cost to the Treasury, etc.  Even the Foreign Office officials tasked with planning the trip, were found to be so hostile that they apparently had to be replaced by another team. There appears to be no sense of History, or acknowledgement of how important the issue is to many Catholic British.Anyone would think it was the Devil visiting , rather than the Holy Father.

What fascinates me, is the similarity to the hysterical revulsion the “liberal” establishment have towards the Jewish State of Israel.  It has been a moment of clarity for me.  Clearly the Catholics and Jews are singled out for particular revulsion, because of their affiliation with religious beliefs.  The Jews cannot, in post Holocaust Europe, still be attacked too directly, so Israel is a substitute target. As for the official Protestant Church of England, it is so weak and marginalised, that it appears to be irrelevant, despite in theory being the official state church.  It is to be noted that Tony Blair converted from Church of England to Catholicism soon after he retired as Prime Minister.  Read more…

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Mubarak, King Abdullah invited to help launch Israeli-Palestinian peace talks

August 20, 2010 Leave a comment

WASHINGTON, D.C. (Press Release)–Following is a transcript of the news conference at which Secretary of STate Hillary Clinton and George Mitchell outlined the agreement between Palestinians and Israelis to directly negotiate for peace.  The news conference was moderated by Assistant Secretary of State Philip Crowley:

MR. CROWLEY: Good morning and welcome to the Department of State. We have Secretary of State Hillary Clinton here along with our Special Envoy George Mitchell to tell you about the most recent developments in our pursuit of Middle East peace. The Secretary will begin with a brief statement. George Mitchell will stay behind to answer your questions. And we are joined today by your colleagues in the White House Press Corps up in Martha’s Vineyard and we’ll be sharing the – they’ll be sharing the Q&A duties with you.

But we’ll start with Secretary Clinton.

QUESTION: I don’t like that idea. They’re in Martha’s Vineyard. (Laughter.)

SECRETARY CLINTON: I will appoint a negotiator to deal with that. (Laughter.)

Since the beginning of this Administration, we have worked with the Israelis and Palestinians and our international partners to advance the cause of comprehensive peace in the Middle East, including a two-state solution which ensures security and dignity for Israelis and Palestinians. The President and I are encouraged by the leadership of Prime Minister Netanyahu and President Abbas and fully share their commitment to the goal of two states – Israel and Palestine, living side by side in peace and security.

After proximity talks and consultations with both sides, on behalf of the United States Government, I’ve invited Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu and Palestinian Authority President Abbas to meet on September 2nd in Washington, D.C. to re-launch direct negotiations to resolve all final status issues, which we believe can be completed within one year.

President Obama has invited President Mubarak of Egypt and King Abdullah of Jordan to attend in view of their critical role in this effort. Their continued leadership and commitment to peace will be essential to our success. The President will hold bilateral meetings with the four leaders followed by a dinner with them on September 1st. The Quartet Representative Tony Blair has also been invited to the dinner in view of his important work to help Palestinians build the institutions of their future state, an effort which must continue during the negotiations. I’ve invited Prime Minister Netanyahu and President Abbas to join me here at the State Department on the following day for a trilateral meeting to re-launch direct negotiations.

As we move forward, it is important that actions by all sides help to advance our effort, not hinder it. There have been difficulties in the past; there will be difficulties ahead. Without a doubt, we will hit more obstacles. The enemies of peace will keep trying to defeat us and to derail these talks. But I ask the parties to persevere, to keep moving forward even through difficult times, and to continue working to achieve a just and lasting peace in the region.

As we have said before, these negotiations should take place without preconditions and be characterized by good faith and a commitment to their success, which will bring a better future to all of the people of the region.

George. Thank you all.

QUESTION: Madam Secretary, are you traveling to Pakistan (inaudible) concern, Madam? Thank you, Madam.

MR. MITCHELL: I’ll be pleased to respond to any of your questions.

QUESTION: As tempted as I am to ask you about Roger Clemens, I’d rather – or P.J. perhaps. (Laughter.)

MR. CROWLEY: I predicted that.

QUESTION: Can you tell us what was the turning point here? What was it that got the – that overcame the final snags to get them to come back to direct talks?

MR. MITCHELL: We believe it’s the recognition by the parties themselves, by their leaders – Prime Minister Netanyahu and President Abbas – that the best outcome is an agreement which results in two states living side by side in peace and security, and that the only way that can be achieved is through direct negotiations between the parties in which the United States will be an active and sustained participant, and with the full support of our many friends and allies around the world, including, of course, specifically, the Quartet.

QUESTION: But what was it that got them to – I mean, you’ve been trying to do this for months now.

MR. MITCHELL: Yeah.

QUESTION: And why – so why – how is it that today, you’ve gotten to this point, whereas three days ago, you weren’t at this point?

MR. MITCHELL: Yeah. I think it’s the cumulative result of the efforts made over that time and the recognition by the parties that this is the right time. We will be active participants and there is broad support, as you know, by members of the Quartet and others around the world. But in the end, these decisions will be made by the parties themselves.

MR. CROWLEY: And (inaudible) Senator Mitchell —

QUESTION: Senator Mitchell, could you —

MR. MITCHELL: I’ll let – why don’t I let P.J. —

QUESTION: Could you talk about the sequencing of the talks? Will they discuss territory, refugees, or Jerusalem first, or will this all be in parallel?

MR. MITCHELL: All permanent status issues will be on the table. It will be for the parties themselves to decide the manner by which they should be addressed.

QUESTION: Senator Mitchell —

QUESTION: Yes. Madam Secretary mentioned without doubt there will be more – without doubt, there will be more obstacles. What will these obstacles be? What are the main sticking points that are going to be going forward?

MR. MITCHELL: We are all well aware that there remains mistrust between the parties, a residue of hostility developed over many decades of conflict, many previous efforts that have been made to resolve the conflict that had not succeeded, all of which takes a very heavy toll on both societies and their leaders. In addition, we all know that, as with all societies, there are differences of opinion on both sides on how best to proceed, and as a result, this conflict has remained unresolved over many decades and through many efforts. We don’t expect all of those differences to disappear when talks begin. Indeed, we expect that they will be presented, debated, discussed, and that differences are not going to be resolved immediately.

But we do believe that peace in the Middle East, comprehensive peace, including, but not limited to, an end to the conflict between Israelis and Palestinians, is very much in the interests of Israelis and Palestinians, of all people in the region; it’s in the national security interests of the United States, and therefore, we are going to continue to pursue that objective with patience, perseverance, and determination. We know that will be difficult. We know, as the Secretary said, there will be obstacles. But we’re going to proceed, as I said, with patience, perseverance, and determination.

MR. CROWLEY: Go ahead.

QUESTION: Senator Mitchell, sir, the Palestinians, the Israelis, and the United States have been down that road many times before. Now, what is in your opinion, sir, this time around that engenders – or should engender hope and optimism to get these talks into its intended end? And what kind of incentive did you offer President Abbas to entice him into the direct talks?

MR. MITCHELL: I don’t want to repeat everything I said in response to prior questions, but I will say that I believe that it is very much in the interest of people in both societies that there be an end to this conflict enabling both to live in peace and security. And I believe that their leaders believe and understand that, and therefore, notwithstanding the many difficulties that they face – and we recognize those difficulties – this is the best course for them.

On the question of past efforts in failing and succeeding, I’ll return, if I might, to my experience in Northern Ireland. I chaired three separate sets of discussions in Northern Ireland, spanning a period overall of five years. The main negotiation lasted for 22 months. During that time, the effort was repeatedly branded a failure. I was asked at least dozens, perhaps hundreds, of times when I was leaving because the effort had failed.

And of course, if the objective is to achieve a peace agreement, until you do achieve one, you have failed to do so. In a sense, in Northern Ireland, we had about 700 days of failure and one day of success. And we approach this task with the same determination to succeed notwithstanding the difficulties and notwithstanding the inability to get a final result so far, including past efforts. But past efforts at peace that did not succeed cannot deter us from trying again, because the cause is noble and just and right for all concerned.

MR. CROWLEY: Let’s take Michele and then Kirit and then we’ll go up to Martha’s Vineyard and come back.

Michele.

QUESTION: I wanted to get a sense of this timeline, this 12 months that the Secretary talked about. Do you see that as a deadline or is that – or is it looser than that? And also, just following up on this other question. I mean, what makes this peace process any different from all other peace processes?

MR. MITCHELL: We will only know the answer to your second question when it is completed. But I believe that, as I said in response to the previous question, that the cause is so important, so right, so just, that our continued effort is the right thing to do, and we are going to pursue it with determination. I believe that the two leaders themselves, President Abbas and Prime Minister Netanyahu, are sincere and serious and believe that it can be done, and we will do everything humanly possible to help them see that it is done.

With respect to your first question, Prime Minister Netanyahu said in a public appearance in this country on his most recent visit to Washington that he believed it could be done within a year. President Abbas has expressed similar sentiments to me, and I hold strongly to that belief, having now been involved for some time in the region. So, we believe it can be done within a year and that is our objective.

QUESTION: But it’s not a deadline then?

MR. CROWLEY: Kirit, one more and then we’ll go up to Martha’s Vineyard.

QUESTION: It took you about nine months to get to the point where these guys were willing to sit down and talk to each other. What makes you think that you can get them to agree to peace in one year? At what point during this process is the U.S. willing to put its own ideas on the table to help move this forward? And after the initial set of talks here in D.C., where do you expect the talks to take place?

MR. MITCHELL: I’ll take your questions in reverse order. One of the subjects to be discussed in the meeting on September 1st and 2nd, and also in preparatory meetings that have been occurring on a regular basis and will continue between now and then, will be the timing and location of subsequent meetings, and we certainly expect some of those meetings to occur in the region.

With respect to the timing and nature, how long it took to get here and how long will it take to get in, I don’t think one is a necessary determinant of the other. It’s – I liken it to the first time I owned a house and had it painted. It took the painters seemingly forever to prime the building and the walls. I kept asking myself, “When are they going to start painting? We’re paying by the hour and we want some progress.” (Laughter.) And after this seemingly endless priming, they painted it very quickly.

Now, I don’t want to suggest one year is quickly, but I don’t think that events leading up to the negotiations are themselves decisive in terms of the negotiations themselves. We believe that the statements by the prime minister regarding within one year are credible and appropriate. We believe that President Abbas shares a similar view, as do we. And that’s what we’re going to pursue.

QUESTION: And at what point does the U.S. put its own ideas on the table in this process?

MR. MITCHELL: We will be active and sustained partners, although we recognize that this is a bilateral negotiation and we have indicated to both parties that, as necessary and appropriate, we will offer bridging proposals. But I repeat: This is a direct bilateral negotiation between the parties with our assistance and with the assistance of our friends and allies. And although nobody has asked it, I do want to take a moment to acknowledge and recognize the enormous support and assistance we have received from many of our friends and allies: Egypt, under President Mubarak; Jordan, under King Abdullah; many of the other Arab states; the other members of the Quartet; the United Nations under Secretary General Ban Ki-moon, who has been extremely helpful in this process; the European Union, with Lady Ashton as the foreign minister; and the – Russia, with Foreign Minister Lavrov, have all been active and very helpful along with other European states.

So it’s important to understand that while the United States is playing an important and active and sustained role, we do so with full participation, full input, full consultation, full discussion, and we hope full support, from a wide variety of allies whose efforts have been extremely important getting us to this phase and will be extremely important in reaching a conclusion. 

MR. CROWLEY: Operator, we’ll go to take two or three questions from White House press corps.

OPERATOR: Thank you. Our first question comes from Philip Hartley with Washington Today. Please ask one question.

QUESTION: Good morning. Actually, it’s two; I apologize. Have all the invited parties accepted the United States’ invitation to weigh in next month? And the Secretary had mentioned references to peace in the world, and as an envoy of peace, I wanted to know what your thoughts are on whether the proposed mosque be built at the Ground Zero site.

MR. MITCHELL: I’m sorry, I didn’t understand.

MR. CROWLEY: We’re not here to talk about that latter subject. We’ll take the next question. What was the question?

QUESTION: Wait —

QUESTION: The first part was —

MR. CROWLEY: Have they accepted.

MR. MITCHELL: What was the first question?

MR. CROWLEY: Have they accepted the invitation?

MR. MITCHELL: We have been in consultation with both. We expect to hear from them shortly, but it will be their decisions on whether to accept.

MR. CROWLEY: We’ll take the next question, Operator.

OPERATOR: Thank you. Our next question is from Jonathan Broder with Congressional Quarterly.

QUESTION: Yeah. Do both parties have to ask for the U.S. to step in with its bridging proposals, or is it enough for one party to ask for that bridging proposal?

MR. MITCHELL: We’re getting a little bit ahead of the game now to be speculating on what may or may not occur well into the process. As I stated earlier, this is a direct bilateral negotiation with the active and sustained support of the United States. And we will make bridging proposals at such time as we deem necessary and appropriate. But I don’t want anyone to have the impression that we are somehow going to supplant or displace the roles of the parties themselves, nor do we have any view other than that this must, in the end, be an agreement by the parties themselves.

MR. CROWLEY: We’ll take one more, Operator, then we’ll come back here to this.

OPERATOR: Thank you. Ron Kampeas with JTA.

QUESTION: Thank you. One technical question and then a real question. On September the 2nd – is that – are they actually – are you actually launching direct talks on September the 2nd, or are the leaders getting together with the Secretary to discuss the re-launching of direct talks? And the other thing: What role, if any, does Hamas have in this process?

MR. MITCHELL: The first question is yes, we are launching direct negotiations beginning on September 2nd. And the second question is: None.

QUESTION: Senator, is re-launching the direct negotiations without preconditions means that we are re-launching the direct negotiations without terms and references?

MR. MITCHELL: Only the parties can determine terms of reference and basis for negotiations, and they will do so when they meet and discuss these matters. As you know, both we and the Quartet have previously said that the negotiations should be without preconditions.

QUESTION: Thank you. Can you tell us whether they’re going to start from scratch, or will they build on what talks that – during the Olmert period? And the second question is whether Israel is expected to continue the freeze. Do you think that they’ll continue the freeze? Do you think the Palestinians will continue their boycott of settler goods?

MR. MITCHELL: The parties themselves will determine the basis on which they will proceed in the discussions, in response to your first question. In response to the second, our position on settlements is well-known and remains unchanged. We’ve always made clear that the parties should promote an environment that is conducive to negotiations. And as the Secretary said in her statement a few moments ago, it’s important that actions by all sides help to advance our effort, not hinder it.

MR. CROWLEY: Charlie.

QUESTION: Senator, just to follow up on that and a previous question, your position is well-known on settlements, but the Israelis, when they’ve chosen to, have ignored it and gone ahead with settlement construction as they’ve seen fit to do. Do you have any understanding from them that they will not do that this time?

And referring to the earlier question on Hamas and your quick answer that they will have no role, how do you get around the fact, even in the best of all circumstances that you negotiate an agreement, how do you get around the fact that Hamas is playing a huge role in Gaza?

MR. MITCHELL: With respect to the first question, let’s be clear that the declaration of the moratorium itself last November was a significant action, which has had a significant effect on new housing construction starts in the West Bank. And as I said, our position on settlements is well-known, remains unchanged, and we expect both parties to promote an environment conducive to negotiations.

With respect to Hamas, let’s be clear. Hamas won a legislative election. They acknowledge the continued executive authority of President Abbas and his team, and it is entirely appropriate that we negotiate with the executive head of that government. When Democrats regained control of the Congress in 2006, that didn’t end President Bush’s tenure as president, and others who wanted to negotiate with the United States negotiated with the legally elected and then-chief of our executive branch of government. And that is the situation here.

QUESTION: So you expect Hamas to accept any decision made by President Abbas at these negotiations?

MR. MITCHELL: It is not for me to make decisions for others.

MR. CROWLEY: We’ll take one more here, then we’ll go back up to the phones.

QUESTION: Senator Mitchell, is it your understanding that this would be a shelf agreement, something to take effect at a later date when political conditions in the Palestinian territories allow, or is it your understanding that this is something that would take effect in a very short period after it was agreed?

MR. MITCHELL: That’s obviously subject to the results of the negotiations. We are not creating limitations or restraints upon what the parties may agree to. Our hope is that there will be an agreement that will end the conflict for all time and will result in the establishment of a viable, democratic, and independent state of Palestine living side by side in peace and security with Israel.

MR. CROWLEY: Operator, we’ll take one or two more from the phones.

OPERATOR: Thank you. Our next question on the phone is Margaret Talev with McClatchy newspapers.

QUESTION: Hi, thanks for taking our questions. The Palestinian press has reported that the U.S. put the harshest pressure to date on the Palestinians to get them into the talks. What I want to know is why did the U.S. feel that this was the time, in the Palestinians’ view, to bully the Palestinians into talking, considering the politics of the Israeli administration right now?

MR. MITCHELL: The United States position has been well-known from the time that this administration entered office. We have and we do favor direct negotiation between the parties to resolve the conflict and to produce an agreement that results in two states living side by side in peace and security. We have encouraged the two parties to enter into such negotiations and they have now agreed. And we are – we believe it’s the right thing to do, we think that both of the leaders believe it’s the right thing to do, and we believe it’s in the best interests of the people they represent.

MR. CROWLEY: We’ll take one more, Operator, from the phone.

OPERATOR: Thank you. Susan Garraty with News Talk Radio.

QUESTION: Hello, Senator Mitchell. You harkened back to the Northern Ireland peace process, and as you certainly recall, the President then played a very intimate role in that. Considering that many Americans themselves are even confused about President Obama’s religious affiliation, do you feel like the people of the Middle East on both sides of this issue will see President Obama as an honest broker and someone that they can actually reach out to in that same intimate fashion?

MR. MITCHELL: Yes, I do believe that they do and will continue to regard President Obama in that fashion. I will say that from the outset, both he and the Secretary of State have played an important, indeed critical, role in this effort. Both are deeply involved on a regular basis and deeply, personally committed to the cause of a comprehensive peace in the Middle East. I think that is not only widely recognized throughout the region and the world, but very much appreciated, and in particular, throughout the region.

MR. CROWLEY: We’ll take a couple of wrap-ups. Go ahead.

QUESTION: Yes. Senator Mitchell.

MR. CROWLEY: Yes.

QUESTION: The total settlement freeze never happened, so I was wondering, how can these talks be considered authentic in the region when that demand was never met?

MR. MITCHELL: We believe that there is a basis for proceeding and achieving a successful result, and we’re going to pursue that. We do not take the position that if you don’t get everything you want the first time you ask for it, you pack up your bags and go home. If that had been the standard applied in South Africa, there would never have been peace there; in Northern Ireland, there would never have been peace there; in Bosnia, there would never have been peace there.

It takes patience, persistence, a willingness to go back again and again, to not take the first no as a final no, to not take the 50th no as the final no or the 100th no. We are patient, we are persevering, and we are determined, and we believe there is a basis for concluding a peace agreement in the region, and that’s what we’re going to pursue.

MR. CROWLEY: Samir.

QUESTION: Senator, do you understand that – you expect Abbas to accept entering these talks without preconditions?

MR. MITCHELL: Both the United States and the Quartet have said that we believe there should be direct talks without preconditions. And we also have said many times that we think that these talks should be conducted in a positive atmosphere in which the parties refrain from taking any steps that are not conducive to making progress in the discussions, that negotiate seriously and in good faith. And in all of these respects, we think that there is a basis for making progress.

QUESTION: So the talks won’t be based on the Quartet statement of March 19?

MR. MITCHELL: The parties are the only ones who can determine what the basis of their discussions are, and that is the case.

QUESTION: Yes, thank you. Senator, so many Palestinians, as you know, and Arabs believe peace with the actual Israeli Government is practically impossible because of its nature, past statement regarding refugees, Jerusalem, et cetera. Aren’t you concerned that by setting this one-year deadline, you’ll probably be raising expectations just like a la Camp David and all what happened after that?

MR. MITCHELL: The reality is, of course, that there are some in both societies who do not believe that the other side is serious, who do not trust the other side, who do not wish to proceed with the other side. And if we accept the premise that because some in one or both societies hold these views that we cannot proceed, then of course, what we are doing is consigning all of those people to never-ending conflict, never-ending difficulties. We simply don’t believe that’s a proper basis for any country, and certainly not ours, the United States, on which to base its policy.

We believe that the best course of action is the direct negotiations that result in a peace agreement ending this conflict and resulting in two states living side by side in peace and security. We believe the only way to achieve that is through direct negotiations. We believe that if those negotiations are conducted seriously and in good faith, they can produce such an agreement within 12 months. And that is our objective. We acknowledge, we recognize, as you have just stated, that there are many who don’t believe that, many who don’t want that, many who will act to prevent that.

But their lack of belief, their contrary views, their contrary actions cannot serve to prevent us from trying to deal with this conflict, nor can it prevent the leaders of those countries who both recognize that the interests of their people, the future of their societies rests upon resolving this conflict and achieving the kind of peace and stability and security from which they will all benefit.

MR. CROWLEY: Last question, Mark Landler.

QUESTION: Senator, this Administration believed from the early days that its Middle East strategy and its Iran strategy were linked in the sense that if you could make progress in one, you might help make progress in another and vice versa. You now are moving into a period of less engagement and more confrontation with Iran. I’m wondering whether you think that is an added hurdle to a peace agreement or is it something that could actually help in the sense that the Israelis may feel that the U.S. is going to be tough on Iran and it allays their fears somewhat in that regard.

MR. MITCHELL: That extends somewhat beyond the area of my involvement in this process, and so I would defer for a more full and thoughtful answer to those who are directly engaged on the broader issues. I will simply say that if you look at the Middle East and review its history over just the past half century, never mind several millennia, you will conclude that there is no really, quote, “right time” to do this, that there always have been and always will be issues external to the immediate parties that have an effect upon what is occurring.

And in my judgment, what is occurring in the – throughout the region, not just in Iran but in other areas, all add compelling, cumulative evidence to the need to act with respect to this conflict. That is to say, whether or not the circumstance you describe produces the result you describe, it still remains a compelling argument that it is very much in the national security interest of the United States, in terms of dealing with other conflicts, to assist, to do all we can with the help and support of our allies, to bring about a resolution of this conflict. It helps in so many ways, and most importantly, it’s the best thing for the Palestinian people and for the people of Israel. And it is in our national security interest and in that of others.

Thank you all very much. It’s been a pleasure to be with you.

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Preceding provided by the U.S. State Department

BBC defends its documentary on Gaza Flotilla against charges of bias toward Israel

August 19, 2010 Leave a comment

LONDON (WJC)–The editors of the BBC television program ‘Panorama’ have issued a strong rebuff to viewers who claimed that a report into the Israeli flotilla raid in May, entitled ‘Death in the Med and broadcast on Monday, had been biased in Israel’s favor.

Pro-Palestinian groups attacked the BBC for its criticism of those onboard the Gaza flotilla. The program’s presenter Jane Corbin concluded: “The bid to break the naval blockade wasn’t really about bringing aid to Gaza. It was a political move designed to put pressure on Israel and the international community.”

The Zionist Federation in Britain praised the documentary and urged supporters to thank the BBC for its fair coverage.

In response to the widespread complaints, the BBC issued a statement which said: “This program intended to explore the considerable confusion about what actually happened on the Mavi Marmara on the day in question. Israel has been accused of breaking international law by seizing a Turkish ship. Israel says they were terrorists. Turkey insists they were innocent victims. Viewers were shown a wide range of opinions and whenever a question of authenticity of footage arose, we made this clear.”

The BBC said the program makers had spoken extensively “to the groups and individuals involved in the incident, including three Israeli commandos involved in the raid; the head of the IHH, Bülent Yildirim; the Free Gaza coordinator onboard the Mavi Marmara, Lubna Masarwa; three Turkish activists and Irish activist Ken O’Keefe, all who were onboard the Turkish ship on the night it was raided by an Israeli naval command.

“We also spoke to Hamas official Dr Ahmed Yousef in Gaza. They were all given sufficient time and a platform to make their points. Overall we dismiss claims that this program showed bias in favor of Israel. The program’s aim was to try to uncover what really happened on the Mavi Marmara. ‘Panorama’ went to great lengths to give opposing sides the opportunity to air their views and we felt the program accordingly carried out its analysis in a fair, impartial and balanced manner. We simply allowed viewers to make up their own minds in their own time based on what they saw and heard.”

Activist Ken O’Keefe and the Muslim Defense League in the UK have announced that they will stage a protest outside the BBC headquarters on Sunday.

Watch the BBC documentary about the flotilla raid on YouTube:

Part 1

Part 2

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Preceding provided by World Jewish Congress

Commentary: Some important concerns about Russia-Iran nuclear power cooperation

August 18, 2010 Leave a comment

By Shoshana Bryen

Shoshana Bryen

WASHINGTON, D.C. –It isn’t exactly Iran’s Bushehr reactor that is making people really nervous this week, and it isn’t exactly the Russians. It is the understanding that no matter what the United States and the West say about Iran with nuclear technology, Iran is moving toward the acquisition of nuclear weapons technology and capability – and moving on the path toward the creation of an actual nuclear weapon(s).

That is coupled with the possibility that Russia will next deliver the S-300 anti-aircraft missile systems to Iran, providing a serious new level of protection for the regime and its illegal uranium enrichment program.
 
The Russians, who took over construction of the reactor in 1995, twenty years after Germany started the project, delivered the fuel in 2007 and 2008, but held off installing it. They say they are now preparing to install the fuel rods and plan to have the reactor up and running within weeks, bringing it up to speed over the next six months. According to public reports, it will be tied to the Iranian electricity grid, monitored by the IAEA, and appears to have no link to Iran’s uranium enrichment program. In addition, the Russians claim to have struck a deal with Iran for the return of spent fuel to preclude production of weapons-grade plutonium.
 
On its face, the Russian position seems reasonable – since Iran repeatedly said it wouldn’t cooperate with the IAEA on enrichment activities because Tehran was being prevented from having even civilian energy reactors, the Russians took away that excuse. They also contrived to retain control of the spent fuel. The Russians appear smug about the arrangement and their role as Iran’s energy partner. And as long as the Russians have control, there appears to be no problem.
 
At least that’s what the State Department implied. Unwilling, perhaps, to “re-reset” relations, a State Department spokesman said the United States does not regard Bushehr as a proliferation risk. “Russia’s support for Bushehr underscores that Iran does not need an indigenous enrichment capability if its intentions are purely peaceful,” and the Russian fuel deal mirrors the failed Western offer for a broader fuel swap.
 
But what if its intentions are not “purely peaceful”? The United States had previously expressed three concerns about Bushehr: 

Weapons grade plutonium could be processed from the reactor’s uranium allowing the Iranians to construct nuclear weapons. 

The Russians and Iranians could use Bushehr as a cover for the transfer of sensitive technology.

The knowledge gained by Iranian scientists working at Bushehr could further Iran’s nuclear weapons program.

Even assuming the Russians have the first covered, what about the others? 
 
As recently as May, two German men were arrested for trying to buy dual-use parts prohibited under EU sanctions for use at Bushehr. And Iranians working at Bushehr would certainly gain important understandings about nuclear technology that can be transferred to other parts of Iran’s program – secret parts. The State Department spokesman did note, “the world’s fundamental concerns with Iran’s overall nuclear intentions,” and the fact that “Iran remains in serious violation of its obligations to the IAEA, particularly as regards separate enrichment.”
 
The UK Daily Telegraph reports that Iran has announced plans for ten new enrichment plants “within protected mountain strongholds… The move is a response to sanctions imposed on Iran in an attempt to stop it from producing enriched uranium, which can be used as fuel for nuclear power plants but for weapons if produced in higher levels. Mahmoud Ahmadinejad also issued an edict ordering the government to offer only ‘minimum levels of co-operation’ with the International Atomic Energy Agency, the UN nuclear watchdog.”
 
It is that – “minimum levels of cooperation,” new enrichment facilities in “mountain strongholds” and the clear determination of Iran to move ahead on the nuclear front coupled with threats well understood by Saudi Arabia, the Gulf States and Israel – which makes us very nervous about the possibility that Russia will, in fact, load up Bushehr.

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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.

Adventures in San Diego Jewish History, January 7, 1955, Part 2

August 17, 2010 Leave a comment

Compiled by San Diego Jewish World staffSouthwestern Jewish Press, January 7, 1955, Page 3

Hoffer-Solomon Vows Exchanged

On Sunday, Jan. 2, at 7:00 p.m., Barbara Solomon, daughter of Mr. and Mrs. Leon M. Solomon of San Diego, was wed to Harold Hoffer, son of Mrs. S. Hoffer of New York City.

Rabbi Morton J. Cohn officiated at the services held in the Beth Israel Temple.

The bride wore an original ballerina-length gown of all-over embroidered, shimmery, white satin. The fitted, princess style bodice was accentuated by a full, billowy skirt and a deep V-back  neckline.  The shoulder length veil was caught to a lace crown. Barbara carried a bouquet of white orchids and Roman hyacinth.

Bridesmaids Isabelle Bank and Sandra Schoenkopf wore pastel gowns and carried nosegay bouquets.  Ushers were Jerry Solomon and Dr. Larry Solomon.

Two hundred and twenty-five guests attended  the buffet dinner dance held after the ceremony at the Mission Valley Country Club.  The music for dancing was provided by Pauline Gleason and Orchestra.  The bride’s mother welcomed the guests in a short formal of dusty rose lace.  The groom’s mother wore a grown of midnight blue silk.

Barbara left for her honeymoon, at Big Bear Lodge and Las Vegas, wearing a slate grey suit with winter white accessories.

Out of town guests were Messrs. And Mesdames Max Goodman, Jack Goodman and Mrs. Sonya Ariel, of Tiajuana; Mr and Mrs. Al Burton, of Burbank, Messrs and Mesdames Joe Rosenberg and Al Cassel of Sherman Oaks; Jerry Solomon, Marcia Knight, Mr. and Mrs. Lon Solomon, Mr. and Mrs. Bernard Lewis and Miss Bobbi Marks of Los Angeles; Mr and Mrs. Frank Linneen of Hollywood, and Mr. and Mrs. Segall of Glendale.

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Green-Berkun Wedding Announced
Southwestern Jewish Press, January 7, 1955, Page 3

Mr. and Mrs. Robert Berkun of 4568 Marlborough Dr. announce the marriage of their daughter, Anita, to Calvin Green, son of Ernest Green of Escondido on December 19th.

Rabbi Monroe Levens officiated at Tifereth Israel Synagogue.

The bride wore a gown of white Chantilly lace and tulle with lace-edged veil, and carried white roses. She was given in marriage by her father.

Miss Marilyn Berkun, maid of honor, was gowned in peacock blue tulle. Bridesmaids, dressed in coral tulle, were Misses Miriam Gralnick, Bernice Kaufman and Frances Samuels.

George Green was best man for his brother; ushers were Richard Pick, Jerry Krasne and William Kolender.

A reception and buffet supper for 250 guests was held in the Synagogue Hall following the ceremony. After their return from their honeymoon in Las Vegas the young couple will reside in San Diego, where the bridegroom will continue his studies at State College.

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Wedding Told
Southwestern Jewish Press, January 7, 1955, Page 3

Announcement has been made of the marriage, on December 24th, of Bernice Kagen Berner to Dr. Jack Binderman, Jr.

Dr. Binderman, a dentist, will move his residence and officers from Beckley, West Virginia, to San Diego.

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Personals
Southwestern Jewish Press, January 7, 1955, Page 3

Newcomers to San Diego are Mrs. Lillian Baume, and her daughter, Dorie.  Formerly of New York City, they now reside at  3061 Madison Ave., in San Diego.

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The Al Hutler family, with Mrs. Ossie Ehrlich, have just returned from a motor trip East. They visited New Orleans, took interesting side trips and visited relatives in Atlanta, Georgia.

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Welcome visitors to San Diego were Morrie and Flo Ackerman and Linda.  Naturally, their grandchild took up most of their time.

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Happy travelers are Mr. and Mrs. Joe Lamon, who have just completed a two months tour of Spain,  Italy, England and France. The Lamons attended a hotel convention in Rome. Before returning to San Diego they visited relatives in New York.

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Betrothal – It was a double-header for the Robert Berkun family. Daughter Marilyn’s engagement to William (Billy) Kolender of San Diego, was announced at the wedding of their daughter, Anita, on December 19th  Billy is at present in the Navy.  No wedding date hhas been set.

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Among the California doctors who attended the American Congress of Obstetrics and Gynecologists in Chicago was Dr. Walter Ornstein of San Diego.

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Mr. Zel Camiel has been elected to the National Council of United HIAS Service, in recognition of his untiring service to our New Americans.

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Small World Dept – The Maxwell Kaufmans went to Los Angeles to spend New Years Eve with an old friend and were right “at home” with the lively group they joined. Among the revelers were Diane Fischer’s sister and brother-in-law, the Harman Ostrens, a former classmate and good friend of the Levenson brothers, David Hoffman (like Morey, he’s a one-man show at the piano) and of all things, a childhood sweetheart of Leo Beck (her name is Ida too.)  ‘Tis indeed a small world.

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Judging by a card received from Miami, Florida, Thelma and Sam Weiss are having a wonderful time on their trip.  They will be home on the 8th.

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Mrs. Jean Spatz wishes to thank her many friends for their kindness and consideration during her recent illness.

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New Subscibers – Dr. Jack Binderman Jr., Maury Gross, Jack Schulman.

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Jean Goldstein Wed in San Francisco

Southwestern Jewish Press, January 7, 1955, Page 3

Young love scored again when Jean Edloe Goldstein, daughter of Mr. and Mrs. Sydney Goldstein, was married to Ernest Malamud, son of Dr. and Mrs. Nathan Malamud of San Francisco.  The young couple were married on December 31st at 4 p.m. in the Borgia Room of the St Francis Hotel; Rabbi Irving Reichart officiated.  Edith Malamud was Maid of Honor.

Thirty-five intimate members of both families gathered in the beautifully decorated room to witness the ceremony, which was followed by a dinner.

The groom, a graduate of University of California, will return to Cornell, where he is a Teacher’s Assistant, and will continue his studies for the Masters Degree. The bride will also attend Cornell.

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Betrothal Announced
Southwestern Jewish Press, January 7, 1955, Page 3

Mr. and Mrs. David Schissel of San Diego announce the engagement of their daughter, Sandra, to Arthur Levinson, son of MRs. Ethel Levinson, and nephew of Mandel Weiss, of San Diego.

Arthur is a graduate of Stanford University and Sandra attended UCLA.  A June wedding is being planned.

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Cradle
Southwestern Jewish Press, January 7, 1955, Page 3

A son, Harold Paul, was born to M/Sgt. And Mrs. Morton B. Peskin on Thursday, Dec. 30th, at the Naval Hospital in Corona, California.

Proud grandparents are Mr. and Mrs. Sandor Goldberger, on the maternal side, and Mr. and Mrs. Philip Peskin on the paternal side.

M/Sgt Morton Peskin is stationed at March Field and resides at Arlington, Calif.

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Dating will never be a problem to Lisa Emily, newest member of the family of Dr. and Mrs. Carl Hoffman.  In addition to her own three brothers, Robert, James and Laurence, Lisa has eight cousins – all boys. She was born at Mercy Hospital on Dec. 23rd and weighted 6 lbs, 10 oz.

Maternal grandmother is Mrs. Harry H. Goldstein of Arlington, Va.

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A welcome addition to the Max Sturman family is Joan, who arrived on January 34d at the Scripps Memorial Hospital. She weighed 7 lbs at birth. All ready for their new playmate are brothers Andy, 3, and Neil, 1 year.

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Maternal grandparents are Mr. and Mrs. Alexander Fuss, of Brentwood, L.I; paternal grandfather is Benjamin Sturman of New York City.

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Mr. and Mrs. Zane Feldman announce the birth of a daughter, Lisa Rose on December 31st, weight 6 lbs, 12 ozs.  The Feldmans have another child, Bernard, 2 ½ years.

Paternal grandparents are Mr. and MRs. Louis Feldman, maternal grandmother, Mrs. Sophie Law-Zimmer; great-grandparents are Mr. and MRs. Isaac Feldman of Woonsocket, R.I.; great-gbrandmother, Mrs. Bertha Feinberg of San Diego.

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Unveiling
Southwestern Jewish Press, January 7, 1955, Page 3
 

The family of Anna Shelley wish to announced that on Sunday, January 23rd, at 2 p.m. at the Home of Peace Cemetery, services will be held at the unveiling of her stone. Rabbi Baruch Stern will officiate.

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Beth Israel To Hold Annual Dinner Meeting
Southwestern Jewish Press, January 7, 1955, Page 3

The Annual Dinner Meeting of Temple Beth Israel will be held on Thursday, January 30th, at 6:30 p.m. at the Temple Center.  Irving E. Friedman, Chairman urges that members who cannot come to dinner attend the meeting which starts at 8 p.m.  Reservations may be made by calling the Temple Office. (Limited to members only.)

Among the important reports to be given will be that of Rabbi Morton J. Cohn and President Mark Esterson. Dr. Robt. M. Stone, chairman will present the Nominating Committee’s slate for Board of Directors. Nominations are also acceptable from the floor.

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Bay City To Install 33 New Members
Southwestern Jewish Press, January 7, 1955, Page 3

Approximately 33 members will be initiated by the Bay City B’nai B’rith Chapter on Monday, January 10, at Tifereth Israel Center.  Mrs. Harold Garvin, chairman, announced that an original initiation script written by Mrs. Victor Weiss, will be used, augmented by a short membership skit which is being prepared by members of the committee. Special refreshments will be served and an extra special surprise presentation will be made to the initiates. Those assisting Mrs. Garvin are: Mesds. David Cohen, Morris Cahan, Max Felsman, Charles Juster, Wilford Robbins, Abe Hollandersky, Eugene Sacks, Sanford Sacks and David Schloss.

Mrs. Jack Meyers, president, urges all members to attend and extends a cordial invitation to non-members to be guests of the Chapter that evening.

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(Religious Success)
Southwestern Jewish Press, January 7, 1955, Page 3

Success in religion, like any other endeavor, has to be worked at seven days a week.

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Classified
Southwestern Jewish Press, January 7, 1955, Page 3

Women Wanted—Make extra money. Address, mail postcards, spare time every week, BICO, 133 Belmont, Belmont, Mass.

Man Available – For Gardening ..Trucking Services… Pick-Up and Delivery.  Call after 5 p.m. .. BE 9-2780

Art Teacher – B.A. desires work in art, nursery or related fields – Tel. AC-3-7394.

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Calendar
Southwestern Jewish Press, January 7, 1955, Page 3

January
8th – Sat, 6;30 p.m.—Jewish Center Dinner – Don Room, El Cortez
9th –Sun, 6:30 p.m. – Lasker Lodge Installation Dinner Dance – Mission Valley Club
10th—Mon, 8:30 p.m. – Bay City B.B. Women’s Initiation –Tifereth Israel Center.
11th –Tuesday “Sport Night” – Men’s Club – Temple Center
13th-Thurs.—Election of Officers –U.J.F. State Ballroom, S.D. Hotel – 6:30 p.m.
19th—Wed., 12 noon – Se Sola Pools – Hadassah Luncheon
26th– Wed. eve. – “Mr. Hadassah Night—Dinner and Fashion Show – Mission Valley Club
30th-Sun – Pioneer Women Annual Bazaar – Beth Jacob Center

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Irving Friedman To Head Clinic

Southwestern Jewish Press, January 7, 1955, Page 4

Irving E. Friedman has been reappointed president and advisory board chairman of Guadalupe Clinic for his 11th term, Rev. Thomas Byrnes, moderator, said.

Nicholas Martin was reappointed vice chairman and Mrs. Clara Brisco secretary. New members named to the board were Dr. Guy E. Magio, medical staff president; John McCarthy, Robert J. Stirnkorb, and M.D. Goodrich.

Reappointed to the board were Dr. Joseph B. Mullen, president of the dental staff, and Mrs. Thomas F. Dunn, Chester Pagni, Louis Ricca, Sam W. Hamill, Emmet McCabe and William Rule.

During 1954 there were 16,000 visits of patients for clinic care.

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Birdie Stodel Women
Southwestern Jewish Press, January 7, 1955, Page 4

Birdie Stodel Chapter No. 92 members are deeply grieved by the passing of Mr. William Schusterman, husband of our beloved member, Goldie Schusterman.

The chapter is postponing its regular meeting which was to have been held on Monday, January 10, because of the death. The next meeting will be held Monday, January 24th.

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Deceased
Southwestern Jewish Press, January 7, 1955, Page 4

Elinor B. Kitaen, beloved wife of Joseph Kitaen, died Sat., January 1st at the age of 37 years.  She is survived by her husband and three children, Darreld, Terry and Susan, and a brother, Jack Ellis, of Los Angeles.

Services were conducted by Rabbi Morton J. Cohn at the Lewis Colonial Mortuary and interment was in the Home of Peace Cemetery.

Mrs. Kitean was a member of the Temple Beth Israel Sisterhood, the Yo-Ma-Co Club and Hadassah.

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Harry Cohn, husband of Rebecca Cohn, passed away on Friday, Dec. 31st, at the age of 59 years.  He is survived by sons, Leroy, Lyman and Irvin, and daughter, Mrs. Barbara Schloss.  Services were held at the Lewis Colonial Mortuary and interment was at the Sholem Mausoleum.  Rabbi Morton J. Cohn officiated.

(Hebrew Home for the Aged)

Southwestern Jewish Press, January 7, 1955, Page 4

Application for admission to the Hebrew Home for the Aged may be made through theJewish Social Service Agency, 333 Plaza, BE-2-5172.

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“Adventures in San Diego 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.  

Conquering ‘Norman’ at Cygnet Theatre

August 12, 2010 Leave a comment

Albert Dayan and Sandy Campbell (Photo: Luke Olaon)

By Carol Davis

Carol Davis

SAN DIEGO–Here’s a challenge for you. The Cygnet Theatre in Old Town is mounting Alan Ayckbourn’s trilogy, “The Norman Conquests” both in repertory together and individually. The three shows, Round and Round The Garden, Living Together, and Table Manners are all interconnected and can be seen together or can stand on their own as three separate two act plays.

Yours truly on opening day ‘survived’ “Norman” in a six hour marathon recently, and is still standing (or sitting) to tell about it. You might want to try it. It is a challenge, but well worth it. It’s an ambitious undertaking and does require a whole day but, hey, it’s a theatrical moment.

It is said that Ayckbourn is one of the most popular and prolific British playwrights. He has written and produced seventy-four full-length plays between 1972 and 2009. They have been translated into 35 different languages. In many circles he is called the Neil Simon of England. There was a time in the past that an Ayckbourn play could have been seen on any local stage in any given year. It’s good to have him back, thanks to The Cygnet Theatre.

The trilogy, of “The Norman Conquests” was written over the course of a week. The plays give three ‘dovetailed accounts of events at a country house over one weekend’ that begins at 5:30 on a Saturday and ends a little after 9:30 the following Monday.

The six suspects Annie (Jo Anne Glover), Sarah (Sandy Campbell), Ruth (Frances Anita Rivera), Reg (Ron Choularton) and Norman (Albert Dayan) are all related to each other in one way or another. Tom, (Danny Campbell) is the local vet who has eyes on Annie. To most he is her best bet as a love interest. Tom is so slow to move or tune in (that it’s almost like watching bread being toasted) that he is invariably a beat behind everyone else. He is one of the family regulars. Annie has about lost patience with him but still has feelings towards him.

One character not seen but spoken of in almost every scene is the matriarch of the house who is bedridden (of her own choosing, it seems) and needs constant care, meds nutrition, etc. Annie has anointed herself to be the sole caretaker for her demanding mother. Sarah and Reg’s visit to the country for the weekend is to give Annie some relief. She going on holiday for some needed R&R (‘alone’) and someone needs to take care of Mother.

The last time the family got together around Christmas Norman the family oddball and womanizer (‘the quickest way to a woman’s heart and body is to ask her for it’) and Annie made secret plans for a weekend getaway at a resort the following summer. The time has come.

Everything is set to go as usual, but… Norman shows up in the garden unexpectedly (instead of in town where they had planned to meet). Sarah and Reg  ready to help Annie out, come across Norman and all hell breaks loose.

When Sarah, a busybody at the least discovers that Annie is not in fact going away with Tom (that was their expectation) but with Norman, their brother-in-law (he’s married to Ruth, Annie’s sister) she has some choice words for Annie and throws a wrench in the whole shebang.

The nail that seals the deal is when Ruth shows up after she learns what Norman is up to. Annie cancels the trip, Norman throws a temper tantrum and over the course of the three days Sarah and Norman, and Norman and Ruth and Norman and Annie, well I did say he was a womanizer, didn’t I?

The series of events that follow Norman’s conquests can be seen in 3-D if you will as layer upon layer builds over the course of their weekend especially if you see all three together. If not and you see them on different nights you get to see in real time, a full-length play anyway. Seeing Round And Round The Garden first makes more sense since it has so much going on and is the funniest. It is usually the one produced most often.

That said, in the other two pieces all the scenes and activities that are mentioned in passing, that take place off stage, are filled in. Each play takes place in a different area of the house. When all is said and done, you are able to complete an entire picture of events of happened that weekend. It’s like filling in the pieces of a puzzle. There is some overlap but the time line stays constant and it all becomes clear, honest.

Needless to say Ayckbourn has given us an unique opportunity to witness his clever ideas, meet some very high strung (in most cases) people and to see how they react to the same set of circumstances, all the while satisfying their own emotionally charged feelings caused for the most part by Norman who believes that everyone should be happy above all else.

Co directed by Sean Murray and Francis Gercke the stellar cast is right on target with every exit, entrance and follow through line. In fact the timing is perfect, never missing a beat. It’s a great platform as Cygnet goes into its 2010-2011 season.

In Sean Flanning’s country style setting with a small but pleasant garden outside the family home (seen off kilter leaning to one side) is seen in the first play. It stands in the background of all three plays. Their family living room with a shag rug that sees plenty of action in Living Together shows a somewhat darker side to the family. A dining room table with a buffet in back is the centerpiece in Table Manners showing Sarah’s obsessive behavior, but that doesn’t get in the way of her making plans to meet up with Norman sometime later.

They are dressed in Jeanne Reith’s colorful 70’s style clothes except for Norman who looks somewhat like a bag man in his overcoat, woolen cap pulled over his ears (don’t forget it’s summer), baggy pants and sporting a shaggy beard. Most of the other character’s clothes are rather stylish for the times.

All six actors personify their characters to a tee and they are an odd mix to be sure.  Sandy Campbell’s Sarah is prim and properly repressed both in her marriage to Reg and in her own skin. Reg is in real estate but would rather be by himself playing the board games he makes as a pastime rather than socializing. He can’t even remember the names of his two children.

Choularton is the perfect foil for Sarah (who gets hives if she can’t pour the tea for everyone). He’s very funny as he grumbles about the food over the course of the weekend. In one play, Table Manners he must have had at least five bowls of cereal and milk without even saying so much as a word or looking up from the table. In another he plays his board game intended for four, by himself. It’s one of those you have to see it to believe moments. It is very funny.

Jo Anne Glover’s Annie takes on the woe-is-me-look on the outside but has a pretty strong constitution inside. She just never gets the opportunity to show her assertiveness and as a result is taken advantage of by the family. She’s pretty much out there on her own and Tom (Danny Campbell) doesn’t help much; he’s so wishy-washy.

Compared to her sister Ruth’s crisp and cool look, Annie dresses in jeans and an old shaggy sweater and plays down her importance. When she does finally dress up, no one even notices. She’s almost window dressing in the scheme of things, that’s why this weekend tryst is such a departure for her. Both women are  interesting to watch as opposite ends of the personality and family spectrum. 

Another study in opposites is Tom and Norman. Tom is afraid to make a wrong move, not because he’s afraid to move, he just doesn’t get half of what’s expected of him. Norman is a mover and shaker of sorts; a con man who just loves women.

Dayan’s Norman is quirky, selfish, persistent and apparently charming to some. He doesn’t stand still for one minute and is the center of everything that happens in these plays. He knows he plays havoc with the women, doesn’t give a damn because after his little romps he’s on to the next challenge. He is unabashedly out there wooing the women and telling them exactly what they want to hear; most likely that’s more than what the get from their own spouses.

The bottom line with Norman is that as obnoxious as he appears to be, he’s another lonely soul looking for love in all the wrong places.  I’m guessing every guy in the audience wonders what the heck he has going for him simply because he’s the complete opposite of what you would expect women to be charmed by. Ah men, ah women!

Choularton has the only authentic British accent by accident of birth but Annie Hinton who is the dialect coach for the others does a fine job at least to these ears. Michelle Caron’s whimsical lighting design takes us through the passing days and highlights the misadventures of the family well and Bonnie L. Durben is responsible for all the little odds and ends that always end up in the right places.

In its totality “The Norman Conquests” rates a two thumbs up. See them separately or see them on the same either way, it’s a win/win situation.

See you at the theatre.

Dates: July 28th –November 7th

Organization: Cygnet Theatre

Phone: 619-337-1525

Production Type: Sex Farce

Where: 4040 Twiggs Street, Old Town State Historic Park

Ticket Prices: $24.00-$54.00

Web: cygnettheatre.com

Venue: Old Town Theatre

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Theatre critic Davis is based in San Diego

Iran and Syria say they’ll help Lebanon against Israel

August 12, 2010 Leave a comment

DAMASCUS (WJC)–Iranian Foreign Minister Manouchehr Mottaki  has met with Syrian President Bashar Assad here to discuss “the regional security threats posed by the Zionist regime” [Israel].

Referring to the deadly border skirmish last week, both men declared that they would support Lebanon against Israel’s “aggression”. Mottaki described Israel as “the source of insecurity and threat” in the Middle East . He also met with the exiled leader of Hamas, Khaleed Meshal, in Damascus.

Earlier, Lebanese Defense Minister Elias Murr had lashed out at a decision by the chairman of a US Congressional committee to halt US$ 100 million in military aid for the Lebanese Army in the wake of last week’s clash with Israel, which according to the United Nations occurred on Israeli territory. A Lebanese Army sniper had opened fire on an Israeli officer involved in a brush-clearing operation. IDF troops responded, killing two Lebanese soldiers and a Lebanese journalist.

On Monday, Howard Berman, the chairman of the House of Representatives Foreign Affairs Committee, said he had suspended US aid to the Lebanese Armed Forces on 2 August amid growing concern in Congress that American-supplied weapons could threaten Israel and that Hezbollah may have influence over the army.

“Whoever sets as a condition that the aid should not be used to protect Lebanon’s land, people and borders from the (Israeli) enemy can keep their money,” Murr told a news conference, adding: “Let them keep their money or give it to Israel. We will confront [Israel] with the capabilities we have.” The minister’s comments came after Iran’s ambassador to Lebanon, Ghazanfar Roknabadi, said Tehran was ready to help the Lebanese Army. President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad is slated to visit Beirut next month.

Meanwhile, a London-based Arab newspaper reported that France and the US had dissuaded Israel from opening a larger-scale military operation against Lebanon in response to the border incident. French sources told the paper that Defense Minister Ehud Barak had informed French Foreign Minister Bernard Kouchner that Israel intended “to teach the Lebanese Army  a lesson and avenge the death of the senior Israeli officer.” This allegedly led to high-level interventions involving French President Nicolas Sarkozy, US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton as well as Egyptian, Jordanian and other Arab state officials.

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Preceding provided by World Jewish Congress