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Jewish Press News Briefs
Do you have a photo from the storm and flood? Send them in to to the Jewish Press, and we’ll publish the best ones.
Jewish Press News Briefs
A video in support of President Obama produced by the sister of comedian Sarah Silverman will begin airing in Florida.
The video by Rabbi Susan Silverman, a Reform rabbi who lives in Jerusalem, posted last week on Facebook shows Israeli Defense Minister Ehud Barak in an interview and Israelis throughout the country praising Obama’s support for Israel’s security.
A 30-second version is scheduled to run in Florida television markets on Monday during the foreign policy debate between Obama and Republican candidate Mitt Romney, according to The Jerusalem Post.
Susan Silverman, who lives in Israel with her husband, Arava Power CEO Yosef Abramowitz, and their five children, became involved in making the video after asking her famous sister to make a video about Israelis’ support for Obama.
Sarah Silverman made “The Great Schlep” video in support of Obama four years ago to convince her grandparents and other grandparents to vote for Obama. Earlier this year she made a video asking casino mogul Sheldon Adelson to switch his support to Obama.
The video comes on the heels of an Op-Ed published in the Jewish Press in which Rabbi Yaakov Rosenblatt criticizes Sarah Silverman for being “crude” and “vulgar.” He suggested that she channel her energy into marrying and having children. The Silvermans’ father, Donald, responded with a vulgar statement of his own.JTA
For two weeks every year, the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe holds what it refers to as the world’s largest human rights and democracy conference, called the Human Dimension Implementation Meeting. Organized by the OSCE Office for Democratic Institutions and Human Rights, this year’s meeting is taking place in Warsaw, and it began last week. Special attention is focused this year on freedom of religion and belief, the rights of Roma (formerly called gypsies) women and the rights of national minorities in OSCE countries.
The head of the U.S. delegation to the conference this year is Ambassador Avis Bohlen, a retired foreign service officer whose career included serving as Ambassador to Bulgaria from 1996 – 1999.
There are three public members of the U.S. delegation. Nida Gelazis, of the Woodrow Wilson Center, is a scholar of international human rights, international law and citizenship policies and protection of national minorities.
Dr. Ethel Brooks, professor of sociology at Rutgers University, is the second representative of the U.S. at the conference. Brooks has published many articles on her research areas which include child labor in third world countries, globalization and political economies.
The third public member chosen to attend the human rights conference as a representative of the U.S. is Salam Al-Marayati, president of the Muslim Public Affairs Council.
While two out of three of the U.S. representatives are scholars whose fields suggest expertise in human rights and democratization, and are entirely consistent with the themes of the OSCE and, specifically, human rights and democracy, Al-Marayati’s appointment raises serious questions.
Counter-terrorism expert Steve Emerson told The Jewish Press that
Al-Marayati’s appointment is not just scandalous but also does incalculable damage to our values as a nation whose core principles categorically reject the legitimization of a racist supporter of terrorism, and an incendiary proponent of paranoid conspiracies that provides the motivation for radical Muslims to carry out terrorism.
Al-Marayati is not a scholar. His only graduate degree is in business and his undergraduate degree is in science. He has been involved with MPAC since its founding in 1986. Without any scholarly article to his credit, his expertise is in matters concerning the role of Islam and Muslims in America and elsewhere.
In fact, Al-Marayati is better known, at least to members of the American Jewish community, for his defense of those who are on the scrutiny end of the human rights examining lens. Perhaps his most infamous statement was during a radio interview immediately following the attacks by Muslim terrorists against the United States on September 11, 2001.
On that day, as the buildings were still smoldering, Al-Marayati told radio interviewer Warren Olney on KCEW-FM’s “Which Way, LA?” in response to questions about who might be behind the terrorist attacks,
If we’re going to look at suspects, we should look to groups that benefit the most from these kinds of incidents, and I think we should put the state of Israel on this list because I think this diverts attention from what’s happening in the Palestinian territories so that they can go on with their aggression and occupation and apartheid policies.
While Al-Marayati is generally more in control about publicly expressing his views regarding Israel and comporting himself in an even-keeled manner when with civic and political leaders, there have been many other instances in which his support for Muslims seems to override his concern for the human rights and safety of others.
For example, at a 2005 conference held by the Islamic Society of North America, Al-Marayati told his fellow Muslims not to respond to requests from the FBI to work with them, saying, “we reject any efforts, notion, suggestion that Muslims should start spying on one another.”
Even as he publicly engages in many interfaith efforts, Al-Marayati continues to sow the seeds of division between religious groups. In 2009 he spoke at a J Street conference, telling the audience of “Palestine Now At Any Price” liberals that the absence of a Palestinian State was the major cause for Muslim unrest in Pakistan, and that it was “the central issue critical to the hearts and minds of all 1.5 billion Muslims worldwide.”
Al-Marayati spoke before the OSCE conference on Tuesday, October 1, about the situation of Muslims as a religious minority in America. He quoted President Obama’s 2009 Cairo speech, in which he said, “‘it is important for Western countries to avoid impeding Muslim citizens from practicing religion as they see fit – for instance, by dictating what clothes a Muslim woman should wear,'” and called for “governments to ‘stop targeting Muslims through legislation or policy, and instead enshrine the ground of religion or belief as a prohibited ground of discrimination in all realms.”
When asked to comment about Al-Marayati’s appointment to represent the United States at a global human rights and democracy conference, Steve Emerson, one of the premier counter-terrorism experts, and someone who has conducted extensive research into Al-Marayati’s background, told The Jewish Press,
For this administration to appoint to an august human rights organization Salam Al-Marayati, who has openly supported Hizbollah, claimed that the FBI has illegally incited Muslims on terrorism charges because of FBI sanctioned policies of “racial profiling,” has defended as innocent the most notorious members of Hamas who were found guilty of laundering millions of dollars to a terrorist group, and someone who has complained of ‘having the Holocaust shoved down [his] throat,’ is an outrage.
Emerson suggested that the appointment of Al-Marayati as a representative of the U.S. at one of the world’s largest human rights conference,
cries out for a congressional investigation of the larger and more heinous scandal of the unprecedented degree to which the Obama administration has embraced and collaborated with radical Muslim groups in the U.S. whose lineage derives directly from the world wide totalitarian Muslim Brotherhood movement.
The conference concludes at the end of this week.
Ambassador Bohlen did not respond to a request for comment by the Jewish Press.Lori Lowenthal Marcus
Former Israel Defense Force Chief of Staff Dan Halutz is being shepherded around the United States to talk about the international crisis with Iran. The anti-Netanyahu group J Street is promoting Halutz as critical of Israeli policy and supportive of their position of opposing military action.
But at the first two talks given by Halutz, one of which was attended by a Jewish Press reporter and the other of which can be can be viewed online, it appears that Halutz’s positions are far more complex and nuanced than J Street and their fellow promoters understand.
What is Halutz saying?
On negotiations: “negotiations have failed”; on diplomacy: “enough Viennese coffee without results”; on sanctions: without the participation of China, Russia and India – all of which have been given exemptions by the US government – the sanctions will take too long to work; and on the issue of “red lines,” the problem isn’t that they are too bellicose, it is that they give the enemy an advantage you don’t want it to have.
On Tuesday, September 11th, Halutz spoke at the Saban Center For Middle East Policy at the Brookings Institution. On Wednesday evening he spoke at a large suburban Philadelphia Conservative synagogue. Thursday night the former IDF Chief of Staff spoke at a synagogue in West Chester County, New York, and he is scheduled to speak sometime soon to the Jewish Council for Public Affairs, the coordinating body for local Jewish community relations organizations.
Lt. Gen. Halutz is actually making the argument, in an admittedly very circumspect manner, that it is the international community – that is, everyone besides Israel – which is to blame for the current cataclysm precisely because the actions taken thus far are inadequate and it is that failure which may result in Israel, alone, having to take military action against Iran. And that is a situation no one wants.
According to Halutz, the international response to Iran’s nuclear activity has been inadequate on just about all fronts. With respect to sanctions, there aren’t enough countries participating and there aren’t enough products on the banned list. In particular, without China, Russia and India’s full participation in sanctions – all of which received exemptions from the United States — the impact on the Iranian economy has been too small to encourage the regime to cease its path to nuclear weapons.
Halutz told the Brookings audience that despite some reports to the contrary, the sanctions are not really having an impact on the Iranian economy. “It was just reported,” he said, “that the Iranian currency dropped by 8 percent compared to the dollar.” The Iranians are “not yet convinced that there is a real cost imposed upon them because their leadership has chosen to move forward on a project which is unacceptable to the world.” Unless they are forced to do that, to choose between “bread or nuclear weapons,” the sanctions will not work.
An additional reason sanctions are not working is because not enough products are involved. Halutz explained that there need to be many more products, “thousands of them” placed on the sanctions list. He offered two examples. The Iranian airlines and the Iranian shipping lines are still operating in the world and, if they weren’t, the Iranians would be seriously impacted. Right now they aren’t.
In other words, sanctions only work if they cause sharp pain. Right now there’s barely a mild caress.
Halutz believes that diplomatic efforts must continue, but he is contemptuous of the public versions taking place. “Enough Viennese coffees,” he said, referring to the rounds of talks that have already taken place, after each one of which the Iranians have refused to cease their nuclear activities.
However, he was quite supportive of one diplomatic effort that he believes, if only more countries would join in, could be fruitful. The bold shuttering of the Iranian Embassy in Canada by President Stephen Harper is exactly the kind of diplomatic effort that needs to be undertaken, but “others must follow.” Again, as with sanctions, unless many countries – diplomatically important countries – join in, weak diplomatic energy will bear no fruit.
Publicly, J Street repeatedly states that Halutz is against the drawing of “red lines,” that is, the line in the sand beyond which military action against Iran must be taken. This is significant because President Obama and Prime Minister Netanyahu have engaged in a public spat over the US refusal to set red lines. The Israeli government is claiming that without them, it cannot rely on the United States and Israel will have to take action on its own. There are commentators who crow that Halutz’s opposition to red lines reveals a reluctance to use force against Iran, and that it is an explicit criticism of the Israeli prime minister.Lori Lowenthal Marcus
The Wailing Wall’s Rabbi Shmuel Rabinowitz and his crew on Sunday removed thousands of handwritten notes placed in the crevices of the ancient Wall, just a stone’s throw down from God’s Mountain (which, in the recent and less recent past has been the site of real stones being thrown, in one direction—you guessed it, the one facilitated by gravity).
It’s a lot like visiting a recluse friend, enclosed behind the thick fence surrounding his house, ringing the bell a few times, trying the doorknob, then giving up and, before walking away, leaving a note: Came to see you, but you were probably asleep, or watching the game. Call me.
Rabbi Rabinowitz and his men carry out their bit of front lawn work twice a year, before Rosh Hashanah and before Passover. I’m sure they take the notes to a safe place.
Here, at the Jewish Press online, we’ve begun a new pre-Rosh Hashanah tradition of petitioning God for the new year. You get one request, make it count. It doesn’t have to be for peace on Earth, you can ask for a Schwinn bike. Or a bigger apartment, with a porch. Or a puppy.
I entered the second request on the list, check it out.
When Rosh Hashanah comes (or maybe Yom Kippur), we’ll seal the list and turn it over to our Father and King in Heaven. We’re pretty sure He browses the Jewish Press.
He has a Facebook page, too, with 3,194,578 likes.
I suppose He could do better. But every time He tries to upload a new picture album, someone sticks a new note in His Wall.Yori Yanover
JERUSALEM, Israel, Sept. 5th–The Oslo peace process had “more failures than advantages,” French Ambassador to Israel Christophe Bigot told a delegation of pro-Land of Israel rabbis during a meeting at the French Embassy in Tel Aviv on Wednesday.
Bigot also joked that the embassy might be moved to Jerusalem, saying that while the space that housed the embassy had its drawbacks, it was only a “temporary residence because” –switching to Hebrew– “Leshana Haba’ah Biyerusholayim” (next year in Jerusalem).
The statements are not typical of a representative of a European country which views advocates the creation of a Palestinian state or the “land for peace” formula behind the Oslo Accords and the so-called “peace process” which followed them.
France also believes, like the United States, that the status of Jerusalem should be determined in final status negotiations between Israel and the Palestinian Authority.
By the time this article was published, Bigot could not be reached for a response, but his comments were confirmed by two members of the delegation who met with Bigot and with whom the Jewish Press spoke separately.
The delegation visiting Bigot represented the Rabbinical Congress for Peace, a group which says it represents 350 leading Israeli rabbis who oppose ceding any kind of territory. They met with Bigot in order to urge France to oppose the creation of a Palestinian state and to ask that France stop European Union funding of anti-Israel groups which operate in Israel.
“These groups operate under the guise of peace and human rights but the money that the EU gives them is used for incitement against Israel, against co-existence and leads to bloodshed,” Rabbi Shlomo Rosenfeld, Rabbi of Shadmot said.
In response to Bigot’s comment about the Oslo process, Rabbi Joseph Gerlitzky, the organization’s Chairman told the Ambassador, “let’s be precise – it was failures without any advantages.”
Rabbi Gerlitzky is the Rabbi of Central Tel Aviv.
Rabbi Avrohom S. Lewin, the organization’s director, told Bigot that “the past 40 years have proven that the ‘land for peace’ formula is a failure and only leads to bloodshed and instability in the region.”
The delegation presented Bigot with a “p’sak din” – a juridical ruling in Jewish law – holding that it was forbidden to cede territory from Israeli control because it would endanger people’s lives.
The ruling has been signed by the 350 rabbis who are said to support the Rabbinical Congress for Peace.
Speaking over the phone with the Jewish Press, Rabbi Lewin said that the ruling was drafted in 1993, marking the beginning of the Rabbinical Congress for Peace.
“What’s unique about the ruling,” Rabbi Lewin said, “is that this ruling is not based on kedushat ha’aretz (the holiness of the land) but pikuach nefesh (saving lives).”
During the conversation Bigot also noted that while French citizens view Israelis as “occupiers who are against Palestinian aspirations” they should not be blamed as “that is exactly how Israelis portrayed in its own paper, Ha’aretz.”
Rabbi Lewin said he believed Bigot was implying that Ha’aretz’s left-wing reporting played a role in the distorted European view of the Israeli-Arab conflict.
While Bigot offered counter arguments on many issues raised by the delegation, he said he would convey their requests as well as the ruling to the French government.Daniel Tauber
A small group of religious Jews did it. They accomplished what Israel’s foreign ministry could not in three years of attempted diplomacy – namely, to meet with representatives from the Turkish government and attempt to heal the rifts between Turkey and Israel.
From August 15 – 17, meetings were held in Ankara and Istanbul hosting Shas MK Nissim Ze’ev, Shas deputy finance minister Yitzchak Cohen, the chief Rabbi of Geneva, Professor Mordechai Kedar of Bar Ilan University and other leaders.
This small delegation met with no less than twenty Turkish parliamentarians to discuss resolution to the flotilla incident in May 2010 and to move forward in positive Turkish – Israel relations. Four Rabbis met with, I’ll say it again, twenty members of the Turkish parliament. How did this small group of religious Jews manage diplomacy on such a large scale?
In recent years, discussions have been taking place between religious leaders in Israel and moderate Muslim leaders in Turkey from the B. A. Vakfi Foundation. Once lines of trust were established between religious representatives in both countries, connecting to the Turkish parliament was facilitated. This cooperation between religious and government leaders in Turkey lies in contrast to the position of the Israeli Foreign Ministry, which instead of seeing an opportunity for dialogue via religious delegates, had discouraged the August trip.
As Dr. Mordechai Kedar noted, “…traditional Islamic people find it easier to talk to traditional Jews who share the same cultural world, and perhaps it is time that the Foreign Ministry also understand this…. It is important for Israel to be represented in a way that will make it easier for our traditional neighbors to accept us, and that the state of Israel is not entirely secular and liberal.”
The outcome of the meetings is that a committee has been formed to bring resolution to the flotilla incident, and will include members of the Shas party. It is crucial to note that the talks emphasized the shared history and religious beliefs common to Jews and Muslims, which is a base that gives legitimacy to any conflict resolution. As Nissim Ze’ev emphasized in a brief interview on Turkish television, our belief in one God and respect for our prophets means “there is not a problem between the Jews and Muslims which can not be solved in good faith.”
Rabbi Ben Abrahamson, who was in attendance, hones in on this point, stating, “the United States Congress several years ago issued a non-binding resolution that the US government was based on Biblical principles. President George Bush indicated in Public Law 102-14, 102nd Congress, that the United States of America was founded upon the Seven Universal Laws of Noah.
I could envision a non-binding declaration by both Turkey and Israel saying legitimate and righteous government in the Middle East is based on Abrahamic principles and Noahide moral values, thus uniting all of us under our common heritage.” Conflict resolution would occur not in the court of public opinion, with the media at the helm, but according to Biblical principals and the moral values of the Patriarchs as our example. He also notes that in Turkey, “there is no question in their minds that Israel has a right to exist. Israel’s right to exist is a given.”
Indeed, the careful coordination of such a large group from the Turkish parliament, plus the reservations expressed by the Israeli foreign ministry, meant that press releases about the meetings were slow in coming. A few leaks on various internet news sites referred to “secret meetings” in which little information was shared with the press.
This was because the importance of the meetings was to mend relations, not to make headlines, and detailed discussions with the press while the meetings were happening may have derailed efforts at reconciliation. It may be that the secular media is simply not used to taking religious delegates seriously, especially when it comes to diplomatic relations. It could also be an indication of how our leaders applied the teachings of Shmirat HaLashon even at this high level in the public sphere. May it be an indication of further positive talks between the countries, handled sensitively and in line with Torah teachings.
You may have already read about these meetings on other news sites, but I wanted to bring them to the attention of the Jewish Press readership specifically to highlight what we can accomplish as religious people, and how ready parts of the Muslim world are to hear authentic religious voices from the Jewish people. We may be used to the separation of religion and state in the West, but in the Middle East, religion is the common language. In the Middle East, religion works.
Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/news/breaking-news/israeli-rabbis-prove-religion-works-better-than-diplomacy-in-the-middle-east/2012/08/27/
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