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Think you’ve got it bad in this economy? Think again!

August 27, 2010 Leave a comment

By Rabbi Leonard Rosenthal

Rabbi Leonard Rosenthal

SAN DIEGO — When I opened this morning’s paper, I groaned when I saw that the stock market had dropped below 10,000.

I began to feel sorry for myself until I read the next headline: “Flooding displaces one million more in Pakistan.” At least 1,600 people have been killed and 17 million displaced since monsoon floods began in Pakistan a month ago.  Maurizio Giuliano, a spokesman for the UN’s Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs said, “An already colossal disaster is getting worse and requiring an even more colossal response.”

In ancient Israel the first of all harvests, the bikurim, were offered to God. The Torah instructs the Israelites to include the poor of society in their celebration: “You shall enjoy, together with the Levite and the stranger in your midst, all the bounty that the Lord your God has bestowed upon you and your household.” (Deut. 26:11)

I have always explained this as requiring us to include gifts to the poor and hungry whenever we celebrate happy occasions. Our joy is never complete until the needy are provided for.

The commentator known as Lekutei Yehoshua, however, suggests another interpretation of this mitzvah. He writes that when you share your celebrations with the downtrodden of society, the joy you experience is of a special nature: it is the joy of one who is happy with what they have. (cf. Pirkei Avot 4:1: Ben Zoma says, “Who is wealthy? The one who is content with what they have.”)

Jealousy of one’s neighbor’s possessions, he writes, is the source of much sadness and anger in life. We always think that we will be happy if we have more.

However, if we think about our poor neighbors, rather than the wealthy ones, we quickly realize how fortunate we are and conclude that we must be grateful and content with the blessings that are already ours.

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Rabbi Rosenthal is spiritual leader of Tifereth Israel Synagogue in San Diego

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

August 26, 2010 Leave a comment

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

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

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

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

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Preceding provided by World Jewish Congress

Norwegian government pension fund withdraws investments from companies in Israel and Malaysia citing ‘grossly unethical activity’

August 24, 2010 Leave a comment

OSLO (WJC)–The Government Pension Fund of Norway (GPFG) has divested from two Israeli firms and a Malaysian business claiming they engage in “grossly unethical activity”.

The Ministry of Finance, which sets the financial guidelines for the fund, has excluded Africa-Israel Investments and its subsidiary Danya Cebus, as well as Malaysian company Samling Global.

“The decision to exclude these companies from the GPFG is based on the Council on Ethics assessment that they are contributing to or are themselves responsible for grossly unethical activity,” Finance Minister Sigbjørn Johnsen was quoted as saying. Africa-Israel Investments is the majority owner of Danya, which develops Israeli settlements in the West Bank, the Norwegian Ministry of Finance said in a press release.

“The Council on Ethics bases its recommendation on the fact that the international community is united in the view that the area east of the 1967 line is occupied territory and as such comes under the purview of the fourth Geneva Convention. Several United Nations Security Council resolutions and an International Court of Justice advisory opinion have concluded that the construction of Israeli settlements in occupied Palestinian territory is prohibited under this Convention,” says Johnsen.

Samling Global, a producer of timber, plywood, veneer and palm oil, has operations in Malaysia and Guyana that contribute to illegal logging and environmental damage, the Ministry claimed.

The fund, which is managed by Norway’s Central Bank, owned around US$ 1.2 million worth of stock in Africa-Israel Investments. The GPFG’s total assets are worth US$ 450 billion.

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Preceding provided by World Jewish Congress

Adventures in San Diego Jewish History, January 21, 1955, Part 3

August 22, 2010 Leave a comment

Compiled by San Diego Jewish World staff

Birdie Stodel Women Plan President’s Day
Southwestern Jewish Press, January 21, 1955, Page 5

Past Presidents met at the home of Mrs. David Schwartz to plan “Past Presidents’ Day” which will be held on Monday, Jan. 24, at the Beth Jacob Center. They will be hostesses at the luncheon to be held at 12:00 o’clock.  All past presidents will participate in the program of the day.

Over 25 members will be initiated on this day. The initiation will be headed by Mrs. Robert Siegel who will act as president, Mrs. Jennie Siner as counselor, Mrs. Harry Schwartz and Mrs. David Schwartz will give responses.  All other past Presidents will form a living Menorah.

This year’s class of initiates will be presented in honor of Past President Mrs. Harry Schwartz and Mrs. James Geller.

Mrs. Marco Ratner is in charge of table decorations.

Past President Mrs. Jeremiah Aronoff, who is in charge of affairs for the day, promises a long, pleasant social afternoon.

Mrs. Morrie Kraus, president, urges all members to attewnd.  Make reservations by calling any past presidents.

Don’t forget our chapter’s 26th anniversary will be celebrated in February.  Details and date to follow.

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J.W.V. News

Southwestern Jewish Press, January 21, 1955, Page 5

Members of San Diego Post 185 listened to a very interesting talk given by Bob Elliott, the newly named Padre manager, at their January 19th meeting. Elliott, who was introduced by his friend, Jerry Krakoff, told of his baseball career and his hopes for 1955.  The 40 and 8 organization of the American Legion were also present as guests of the Jewish War Veterans.

A committee of Past Commanders were appointed to choose a slate of officers to be elected in March.  Bud Samuels, Commander, has assigned the duties of Finance Officer to J. David Brooks until the next election.

Post 185 will march in the military parade to be held January 30 in National City for the purpose of raising funds in the March of Dimes campaign. Stanley Yukon, Post Commander, will be in charge of the JWV contingent.

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Council Slates Valentine Ball
Southwestern Jewish Press, January 21, 1955, Page 5


Final arrangements for the “Valentine Ball” at the Mission Valley Country Club have been completed. The date is Saturday evening, Feb. 12, 1955.

Join your friends in the cocktail lounge at 8 p.m. for a social hour. Buffet supper will be served at 8 p.m. and there will be entertainment and dancing. Decorations will be in the Valentine theme.

Make up your tables (you may have as many as twenty at a table) and call your reservation in to Mrs. Ben Lemson, JU 2-7628; Mrs. Paul Moss, JU-2-1504 or Mrs. Monroe Gardner, JU-2-5940.  Reservations close Feb. 8.

Mrs. Sidney R. Silverman and Mrs. Sidney Smith are Co-chairmen of the event.

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Council Women To Have Speaker
Southwestern Jewish Press, January 21, 1955, Page 5

The next regular luncheon meeting of Council will be held on Tuesday, Feb. 1st, at noon, at the House of Hospitality in the Copper Room.

The principal speaker will be Mrs. Joseph Willen of New York City.  Mrs. Willen is a member of the Board of Directors of the National Council of Jewish Women and President of the International Council.  In 1951, Mrs. Willen was chosen as part of a panel of eleven leading American women, and made a four weeks’ tour of Germany under auspices of the State Department.

Mrs. Willen will speak on “Council’s Role Overseas”.   A most interesting and stimulating afternoon is anticipated. Mrs. Harry Blumberg will give a report on Service to the Blind.

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(Religious Principle)
Southwestern Jewish Press, January 21, 1955, Page 5

A big part of any man’s religion consists in getting along with other people.

(San Diego Hebrew Home)

Southwestern Jewish Press, January 21, 1955, Page 5

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

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(Dollars and Sense)
Southwestern Jewish Press, January 21, 1955, Page 5

If the man who is always in debt will keep a record of his expenses he may find it is sense he lacks—not dollars.

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Too many dollars in the wrong man’s pocket soon crowds out the sense in his head.

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Pioneer Women To Hold Annual Bazaar
Southwestern Jewish Press, January 21, 1955, Page 6

Pioneer Women’s Annual Bazaar will be held on Sunday, Jan. 30th, at Beth Jacob Center at 10 a.m until midnight.  Delicious foods will be served all day, prepared under the supervision of Goldie Kitaen, so bring your family and friends for a delightful day of fine food and fun.  New merchandise of all kinds will be on display and will be on sale at prices to please you.

Mrs. Rose Brooker and Mrs. Rose Abrams are chairmen and they are asking the support and co-operation of all members and of all who are interested in the important work of Pioneer Women in Israel.

Mark the date, Jan. 30th, on your calendar and be there.

The next meeting of Negba Club will be held on Thursday, Feb. 3rd and an interesting program and fine luncheon at noon is being planned. Plans are being made for welcoming Pioneer Women’s Delegates from Israel.

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Couples Club To Visit Globe Theatre
Southwestern Jewish Press, January 21, 1955, Page 6

The next social of the Couples Club to be held on January 22nd is a planned theatre poarty to the “Old Globe” to see the comedy, “Affairs of State.” The entertainment committee report hevy bookings and regret that no more reservations are now possible for our particular group.

Take away the sculptor’s chisel or the artist’s paint brush and you deprive him of his most important medium of expression, take away a Rabbi’s voice and you bring about the same result. We of the Couples Club are happy indeed that our Rabbi, Monroe Levens, will soon be blessed once more with his most capable “tool of trade.”

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Volunteers Needed
Southwestern Jewish Press, January 21, 1955, Page 6

An urgent appeal for volunteer workers went out today from the headquarters of the San Diego County Heart Association, 1651 Fourth Avenue.

Any man or woman who can spare even an hour a day for helping in the Heart Association offices, folding literature, stuffing or addressing envelopes, etc. is urged to phone the Heart Association at Belmont 4-5102.

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Public Speaking Class Now Open
Southwestern Jewish Press, January 21, 1955, Page 6

Esther I. Siegel announces that registration is now open for her adult class in Public Speaking which meets every Wednesday morning in her studio in the Barcelona Hotel. The course emphasizes practical training in diction, self-confidence, relaxation and vocabulary building. Anyone interested in becoming more effective in business, social and club life is asked to contact Miss Siegel, Barcelona Hotel, Belmont 2-0153.  Tuition for this course is a special rate of $18 for 10 lessons.  Private and class instruction is also available for children in Speech Arts and Dramatics.

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Temple Sisterhood Gets Set For Country Fair Feb. 6th
Southwestern Jewish Press, January 21, 1955, Page 6

There’s a buzz of activity throughout the Temple Beth Israel family as final preparations get under way for the big Country Fair to be held on Feb. 6 from 3:30 to midnight.

The American Legion Hall at 2690 B St. is being transformed into a rural fairground under the able direction of Harriet Dickman.

There will be fun for all – young and old will enjoy the many activities that are being planned.  Betty Karel is in charge of special games for the youngsters and Helen Siner has planned exciting gaming events for their parents.  Enjoy the delicious buffet being served from 5 to 8 p.m.  Homemade specialties prepared by our own expert cooks, under the direction of Louise Hertz, Zelma Goldstein and Charlotte Haas, at the modest prices of only $1.85 for adults and $0.85 for children.

Many workers are still needed, especially for the buffet.

Help make this event a success – call Louise Hertz, CO 4-3021, and volunteer your services.

Finances for the Country Fair are being handled by Ruth Smoller and Ruth Silverman.

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New Director For Center Nursery

Southwestern Jewish Press, January 21, 1955, Page 6

Mrs. James Fry was made permanent Director of the Cooperative Nursery School of the Jewish Community Center this month after serving on a probationary basis for three months.

Mrs. Fry has had ten years of experience in the educational field, ranging from work with a demonstration class of primary age children at Tufts College to a position as Educational Consultant to the Universalist Church of Japan.

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Open Forum Has India Speaker

Southwestern Jewish Press, January 21, 1955, Page 6

The fourth lecture of the S.D. Open Forum will be held on January 30th, at the First Unitarian Cnhurch, 1541 Sixth Ave., at 8 p.m.

Mr. Amiya Chakravarty, U.N. Advisor to the Indian Delegation, Professor of Comparative Oriental Religions and Literature at Boston University will be guest speaker.  His topic –“An Asian looks at the World.”

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Deceased
Southwestern Jewish Press, January 21, 1955, Page 6

Molli Simon, aged 72, on Tuesday, Jan. 18th.  Mrs. Simon resided in San Diego since 1939.  Survivors are sons, Leo, of New York City and Jack of Denver, Colo.; daughters, Sylvia Greenberg of Detroit, Mich; and Rose Kohn of Los Angeles; a sister, Fern Raphael of Chicago, Ill; a brother, Nathan Niederman, of New York; three grandchildren and one great-grandchild.

Mrs. Simon was a member of Temple Beth Israel, Temple Sisterhood, Hadassah, and the Council of Jewish Women.

Services were conducted by Rabbi Morton J. Cohn at Merkely Austin Mortuary. Final resting place is Greenwood Memorial Park.

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William Schusterman, husband of Goldie Schusterman, died on January 2nd, at the age of 59 years.  He is survived by his wife; son, Arnold; and daughters, Doris Borenstein and Sally Kaplan; two brothers and seven grandchildren.  Rabbi Baruch Stern officiated at services held at the Merkely-Austin Mortuary; interment at Home of Peace Cemetery.  He was a board member of Congregation Beth Jacob and B’nai B’rith Lasker Lodge.

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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.

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

World reacts to resumption of direct Israeli-Palestinian negotiations

August 20, 2010 Leave a comment

Quartet calls on Israelis, Palestinians to exercise restraint as talks proceed

WASHINGTON, D.C. (Press Release)–The following statement was issued today by the Middle East Quartet (United Nations, Russian Federation, United States, and European Union).

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The representatives of the Quartet reaffirm their strong support for direct negotiations between the Israelis and the Palestinians to resolve all final status issues. The Quartet reaffirms its full commitment to its previous statements, including in Trieste on 26 June 2009, in New York on 24 September 2009, and its statement in Moscow on 19 March 2010 which provides that direct, bilateral negotiations that resolve all final status issues should “lead to a settlement, negotiated between the parties, that ends the occupation which began in 1967 and results in the emergence of an independent, democratic, and viable Palestinian state living side by side in peace and security with Israel and its other neighbors.”

The Quartet expresses its determination to support the parties throughout the negotiations, which can be completed within one year, and the implementation of an agreement. The Quartet again calls on both sides to observe calm and restraint, and to refrain from provocative actions and inflammatory rhetoric. Welcoming the result of the Arab Peace Initiative Committee in Cairo on July 29, the Quartet notes that success will require sustained regional and international support for the negotiations and the parallel process of Palestinian state-building and the pursuit of a just, lasting and comprehensive regional peace as envisaged in the Madrid terms of reference, Security Council resolutions and the Arab Peace Initiative. The Quartet Principals intend to meet with their colleagues from the Arab League in September in New York to review the situation. Accordingly, the Quartet calls on the Israelis and the Palestinians to join in launching direct negotiations on September 2 in Washington, D.C. to resolve all final status issues and fulfill the aspirations of both parties.

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Preceding provided by U.S. Department of State

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J-Street welcomes talks, Urges U.S. to stay involved

WASHINGTON, D.C. —  Hadar Susskind, J Street’s Vice President for Policy and Strategy, released the following statement upon the announcement of direct talks between the Israeli Government and the Palestinian Authority:

J Street welcomes today’s announcement of direct talks between the Government of Israel and the Palestinian Authority, with the United States closely shepherding the process. We applaud President Obama’s leadership and the work of Secretary Clinton and Senator Mitchell in bringing the parties to the table.

But bringing the parties together is only the starting line on a difficult road that will demand real political leadership and courage from the parties and from the United States and the international community.  President Obama has said before that talks and process are not the goal – the goal is two states living side-by-side in peace and security, with defined borders and an end to the conflict. We urge President Obama and his team to continue to actively lead the way toward that destination.

J Street is pleased by the announcement of a one year timeline for talks and by the assurances given by U.S. officials that the United States will be actively engaged in the process, helping the parties close gaps and keep moving forward.

The United States and the broader international community – including the Quartet and the Arab League – will have to help the parties to overcome the many obstacles and challenges they will face. We hope that this will include taking an approach that is regional and comprehensive in nature, placing the Israeli-Palestinian conflict into a regional framework that attempts to end the Arab-Israeli conflict as a whole.

The window of opportunity for progress is brief and closing. This could well be the last opportunity to save the two-state solution. We believe that Israel’s future as a Jewish, democratic home, not to mention vital American interests in the region, hang in the balance.

We urge the United States, Israel, the Palestinians, and the greater Arab world to approach these negotiations with a seriousness of purpose suited to the urgency of the moment. The stakes are high, and the status quo unsustainable.

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Preceding provided by J Street
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ADL warns violence by others could sabotage peace talks

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NEW YORK — The Anti-Defamation League (ADL) on Friday welcomed the announcement that Israel-Palestinian direct talks will resume in September.   

Robert G. Sugarman, ADL National Chair and Abraham H. Foxman, ADL National Director issued the following statement:

“Today’s announcement that Israel and the Palestinians will begin direct talks is a welcome development. Progress in Israeli-Palestinian relations has always only resulted from direct face-to-face negotiations.
 
“The Government of Israel has made clear its commitment to a negotiated agreement, and has made numerous gestures to the Palestinians in order to bring them to the table, including the current freeze on settlement expansion. 
 
“We wish the parties well as they embark on these negotiations. Certainly, no one is under the illusion these talks will be easy or that success is guaranteed.   Both sides will need to make difficult and painful compromises in order to realize the hopes for peace and reconciliation between Israelis and Palestinians.   There continue to be those who wish to undermine this development through the use of violence, such as Hamas, Hezbollah and others, and it will be up to the international community to ensure this doesn’t happen.
 
“We express our appreciation to the Obama Administration for its tireless efforts in facilitating the beginning of these talks.” 
 
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Preceding provided by Anti-Defamation League

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NJDC credits President Obama for moving process forward

WASHINGTON, DC (Press Release)- National Jewish Democratic Council (NJDC) President and CEO David A. Harris issued the following statement in response to the announcement that direct talks between Israel and the Palestinians are set to begin in early September:

“Today’s announcement of direct talks between Israel and the Palestinians is an important step forward, and we applaud President Barack Obama’s leadership in working to foster these negotiations.

As an extension of this President’s constant commitment to Israel’s security, he has been tireless in his pursuit of the lasting peace that all Israelis yearn for — working towards the direct talks that Prime Minister Benjamin Nentanyahu has welcomed all along. More recently, President Obama’s persistence in pressing President Mahmoud Abbas has helped to finally get us to these direct talks, and we all owe President Obama and his team a tremendous debt of gratitude for their pursuit of this most worthy cause.”

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Preceding provided by National Jewish Democratic Council

NEW YORK (Press Release) — The Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations welcomed today’s announcement of direct talks between Israel and the Palestinian Authority that will begin on September 2nd, in Washington, D.C. U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and U.S. Special Envoy former Senator George Mitchell made the announcement noting that the talks would convene without preconditions and with a goal of completion within one year.

“We welcome the beginning of direct, face-to-face negotiations between Israel and the Palestinian Authority that will address the complicated and difficult issues in the hope of bringing about an end to the long-standing conflict. History shows that only an agreement arrived at by the parties involved can succeed. Even as goals are set to expedite this process, there should be no artificial deadlines. The talks should be allowed to take their course while all parties are held accountable to their commitments.

“We hope the atmosphere and commitment to these direct talks will be conducive to meaningful negotiations that will meet the needs of all parties. To achieve this, it is essential that there be an end to incitement, including in the media, mosques, classrooms and public pronouncements. We note that Israel has made many significant gestures including removing hundreds of roadblocks, releasing many prisoners, aiding economic development and working with Palestinian Authority security forces to improve the security cooperation in the West Bank.

“We appreciate the effort led by the U.S. to broker these direct talks, which we hope will bring a just and lasting peace in the region,” said Conference of Presidents Chairman Alan Solow and Executive Vice Chairman Malcolm Hoenlein.

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Preceding provided by the Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations

JDC mounts campaign for Pakistan flood relief

August 19, 2010 Leave a comment

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

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

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

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

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

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

To make a contribution:

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

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Preceding provided by World Jewish Congress