web analytics
December 26, 2014 / 4 Tevet, 5775
 
At a Glance
InDepth
Sponsored Post
8000 meals Celebrate Eight Days of Chanukah – With 8,000 Free Meals Daily to Israel’s Poor

Join Meir Panim’s campaign to “light up” Chanukah for families in need.



Home » InDepth » Op-Eds »

The Hurricane They Almost Named ‘Israel’


Medoff-110912

While Hurricane Sandy wreaked havoc on East Coast Jewish communities, another storm eleven years ago made serious political waves in the Jewish world.

It’s not unusual for Jewish organizations to clash with United Nations agencies over issues related to Israel. But in 2001, Jewish groups’ concern for Israel drew them into an unusual battle with the UN over the naming of a hurricane.

When a tropical storm’s winds reach 39 miles per hour, it is given a name, and when it hits 74 mph it is classified as a hurricane. The names are chosen by a 25-person committee of the UN’s World Meteorological Organization (WMO), which meets annually and approves a list of names for upcoming storms.

The list approved in early 2001 included “Adolph” and “Israel.” In retrospect, one might think those choices would have raised some red flags, but committee chair Max Mayfield, director of the Miami-based National Hurricane Center, told a Jerusalem Post reporter at the time: “We have four billion people on the planet, and you are the only person I’ve ever had express a concern about the name Israel.”

Mayfield defended the choice of “Israel” as “a good Spanish name.” He also argued that Adolph is “not the German spelling, and there are a lot of good people with the name Adolph, too.”

Jewish leaders strongly criticized the choice of names.

“I shudder to think how terrible it would be in Muslim countries in the Far East if they found themselves suffering from a storm by that name,” said Dr. Efraim Zuroff, director of the Jerusalem office of the Simon Wiesenthal Center.

Zuroff said there was “terrible irony” in the use of the name Israel since “the Nazis forced Jewish males who did not have what they considered to be a distinctly Jewish name to add the name Israel as a middle name.”

Abraham Foxman, national director of the Anti-Defamation League, concurred. “How about Jesus?” Foxman asked. “That’s another good Spanish name. They wouldn’t name a hurricane Jesus, would they?”

As for “Adolph,” Foxman told the Jerusalem Post that “in the lifetime of [Holocaust survivors] still alive, to name anything [Adolph] by an international body is offensive and hideous.”

The WMO’s website acknowledged that naming storms after people is not a universal practice. Storms in Asia, for example, are not given people’s names because “the practice of naming storms, which usually bring destruction, after persons appears to run counter to Oriental sensibilities.”

Thus, in the western North Pacific region, storm names are chosen from lists submitted by 14 affected countries. Most of those names are animals, flowers, or astrological references.

UN officials at first refused to reconsider “Israel” or “Adolph” on the grounds that the committee had no established mechanism for altering lists between annual meetings. In fact, at the time of the controversy, Tropical Storm Adolph was already gathering strength 250 miles southwest of the Mexican coastline.

In response to the protests, however, the WMO soon reversed itself and agreed to change “Israel” to “Ivo.” Ironically, the storm named Ivo, which appeared off the coast of Africa that August, never made it beyond the category of tropical storm and caused no damage.

Likewise, although Adolph did reach hurricane strength, it never made landfall and thus caused no damage either.

Jewish leaders chalked up another victory. But some pundits were less than sympathetic.

“It’s understandable that some Jewish leaders and worrywarts said ‘Oy Vey’ when they learned of a United Nations commission’s decision to name a hurricane ‘Israel,’ ” wrote Jonah Goldberg, contributing editor of National Review.

“I guess it would be better if the United Nations – a notoriously anti-Israel body – hadn’t opened the possibility of headlines such as ‘Israel Wipes Out Thousands in Manila’ or ‘Miami Without Power for Second Day, Thanks to Israel.’ ”

“But come on,” Goldberg continued. “Jews have enough to worry about…. It may be bizarre, stupid and insensitive. But is this the most important battle for Israel or Jews right now? There are actual battles taking place in Israel right now. Wailing and moaning about the politically incorrect name of a hurricane will not change that fact at all…. If the National Director of the ADL can’t find an injustice greater than a misnamed hurricane, he’s not looking hard enough.”

About the Author: Dr. Rafael Medoff is founding director of The David S. Wyman Institute for Holocaust Studies, in Washington, D.C., and author of 14 books about the Holocaust, Zionism, and American Jewish history. His latest book is 'FDR and the Holocaust: A Breach of Faith,' available from Amazon.


If you don't see your comment after publishing it, refresh the page.

Our comments section is intended for meaningful responses and debates in a civilized manner. We ask that you respect the fact that we are a religious Jewish website and avoid inappropriate language at all cost.

If you promote any foreign religions, gods or messiahs, lies about Israel, anti-Semitism, or advocate violence (except against terrorists), your permission to comment may be revoked.

No Responses to “The Hurricane They Almost Named ‘Israel’”

Comments are closed.

SocialTwist Tell-a-Friend

Current Top Story
The Al Haeche kosher restaurant in Paris had bullet holes through the front window. Dec. 24, 2014.
Parisian Kosher Restaurant Second Anti-Semitic Gun Attack This Week
Latest Indepth Stories
Bill Cosby

It shakes our sense of justice when allegations against a famed role model are covered up or ignored

MK Moshe-Feiglin

Feiglin: Only true liberty will allow us to genuinely connect to our Jewish identity.

Knesset Logo

The silver lining with early elections is the chance to change the current dysfunctional government.

Cohen-122614

The Holocaust Educational Trust Ireland informed the host he could not say “Israel or Jewish state”

It’s fascinating how sources attain the status “traditional,” or its equivalent level of kashrus.

The West needs to ensure Russia understands that aggression comes at a significant cost.

What benefit is a learning experience that leaves kids confused,disillusioned&harms self confidence?

Girlfriend and double cop-killer Ismaaiyl Brinsley apparently was influenced by Islamic extremism.

We see pictures of mosques, monuments for terrorists, illegal schools, and hundreds of apartments being built on Jewish land without repercussions. We are losing Jewish property, so it is up to us to protect it.

Thus, despite the increasingly serious problems for the mayor arising out of the current anti-police protests, Mr. de Blasio apparently will be cut no slack by those who seem to be aiming for a significant role in running the city from the streets and who will do whatever they can to prevent their momentum from ebbing.

Also left unsaid was the fact that the menorah and its oil were in the Beit HaMikdash, which of course was located on Har HaBayit – the Temple Mount that present-day Muslims claim as their own.

Despite strong pressure to throw the book at the accused, Mr. Thompson allowed him to plead guilty to assault.

A revolution is taking place between good and evil; light and darkness. Make the light activism!

Obama’s comments calling Israeli settlements “unhelpful”are harsher than prior US administrations’

More Articles from Dr. Rafael Medoff
Charley Levine

Prominent Jewish leaders acknowledged that their predecessors had mistreated the Bergson Group.

Armenian Orphan Rug

The long ordeal of the Armenian Orphan Rug, held hostage to fears of angering Turkey, has finally ended. Or has it?

Carter developed a fondness for Arafat believing “they were both ordained to be peacemakers by God”

With generous support from the Egyptian Jewish community, the exiled family built a new life for itself in the Mafruza and Gabbari refugee camps near Alexandria.

While grateful not to be returned to Germany, the passengers understood they were still in the middle of a danger zone.

These “Jewish Amazons” were living proof of the failure of the enemies of the Jewish people.

Jewish soldiers in the Polish forces often encountered anti-Semitic prejudice.

Sulzberger, one of the most famous “religious Jews” who opposed Zionism did not change his mind even after the Holocaust.

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/indepth/opinions/the-hurricane-they-almost-named-israel/2012/11/07/

Scan this QR code to visit this page online: