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December 7, 2016 / 7 Kislev, 5777

Posts Tagged ‘panel’

Day Two of the Presidential Conference Closes with Pessimism about the Global Economy

Thursday, June 21st, 2012

Harvard Professor Niall Ferguson, President of the Council of Foreign Relations, Richard Haass, and Financial Times Reporter Martin Wolf headlined a panel led by Governor of the Bank of Israel Stanley Fischer.

The panel, which focused on the future of the global economy was highlighted by a general sense of pessimism, with several members noting that tough times lay ahead, particularly for Europe.

When the discussion turned to the strength of the Eurozone, an especially grim picture emerged.

“If things are just left to unfold as they are now,” said Wolf, “with the resources they put up for it – the Euro zone is going to fail.”

Ferguson echoed this stormy forecast, noting that the current stagnation may be a precursor for larger problems, saying, “We ain’t seen nothing yet. The flash crash (of 2008) will be nothing compared to the next crash.”

The session also included Governor of the Reserve Bank of New Zealand Alan Bollard and was preceded by an address from Alassane Ouatarra, President of the Ivory Coast.

While the panelists tended to see a bleak picture, President Outarra’s address was filled with optimism in the strength and potential of the growing African economies, calling them the “African Lions.” Yet, he too recognized that economic prosperity needs stability.

“The democratic process is irreversible,” said Ouatarra, “but we need to win the war of security for economic development so that the next generation can benefit too.”

Jewish Press Staff

Citing ‘Love your Neighbor,’ JFNA Attacks Chief Rabbi

Thursday, June 21st, 2012

The Jewish Federations of North America slammed Israeli Chief Rabbi Shlomo Amar’s criticism of the Israeli government’s decision to pay the salaries of some non-Orthodox rabbis.

“It is a fundamental Jewish virtue to ‘love your fellow as yourself.’ We condemn comments that disparage fellow Jews and, in particular, well-established branches of Judaism that represent 80 percent of North American Jewry,” JFNA President and CEO Jerry Silverman said in a statement.

Amar said in an interview Sunday with the Haredi Orthodox Kol Berama radio station that he is convening the Chief Rabbinate Council, made up of Orthodox rabbis throughout Israel, to discuss ways to reverse the government’s decision. The meeting reportedly will take place next week.

“The greatest danger for our generation is the danger of assimilation, and we need to be strong and steadfast in our fight,” Amar said. “It is forbidden to remain silent because there is nothing more serious than this measure.”

He added that the decision to recognize non-Orthodox rabbis could “uproot all the foundations of the Torah.”

Silverman said in his statement that “We know that the Chief Rabbi’s comments and language are completely rejected by the millions of Jewish people whom we represent from all streams, including our Orthodox brethren. Statements such as those made by Rabbi Amar only serve to alienate our fellow Jews from our religion, our people and the Jewish state.”

The agreement announced last month came three weeks after a panel of Israeli Supreme Court judges called on the attorney general to intervene during a hearing on a petition filed more than seven years ago calling for the state to recognize and pay the salaries of rabbis of all streams of Judaism.

Under a settlement negotiated out of court, the non-Orthodox rabbis have the moniker “rabbi of a non-Orthodox community,” and financing for the positions comes from the Culture and Sports Ministry. The decision is limited to regional councils and farming communities and is not intended for large cities.

JTA

Former Mossad Chief: Arab Spring ‘Incredible Opportunity

Wednesday, June 20th, 2012

Former Mossad chief Meir Dagan, speaking at the 2012 Presidential Conference in Jerusalem, expressed cautious optimism about the potential outcomes of the Arab Spring, saying that “we are in a very unique position that has never been seen before.”

Dagan was part of a panel discussing the Arab Spring, steps that regional actors could take to help ensure a peaceful transition to democracy, and the impact of these revolutions on Israel. The panel also featured, among others, former IDF Chief of Staff Gabi Ashkenazi, and former senior Presidential adviser Dennis Ross.

Dagan, who has maintained a high profile since his tenure as Mossad chief ended, said that “the radicals in the Arab League are no longer there and a range of mutual interests that require regional cooperation provide an incredible opportunity for fostering peaceful relations.” Still, he acknowledged that the Arab Spring is far from over: “I am worried about Islamist parties with a radical agenda that will take power. It will present a big problem for us.”

Referring to the recent Presidential election in Egypt and claims that the Muslim Brotherhood’s candidate Mohammed Morsi is slated for victory, he said that “in Egypt it was never important which way the votes go but who counts them.”

Former IDF chief Ashkenazi also weighed in on the monumental changes taking place in the Arab world, saying that “the storm sweeping the Arab world is of tectonic proportions. It happens once every 100 years and cannot be overestimated. This is not just a coup. I don’t know anyone in the defense establishment that predicted what happened there.” He said it was critical that Israel preserve open lines of communication with the Egyptian army: “It is practically the only channel…with Turkey as well.”

Discussing the importance of Israel maintaining its relative military superiority, Ashkenazi offered his solution to the controversial issue of national/military service for all Israeli citizens: “It has long been my belief that not everyone must be drafted. We should go by a principle of service for all, not enlistment for all.

“The IDF should get first pick,” he continued. “Whoever is not selected by the IDF will go to the Fire Services, Magen David Adom or other services…As for the haredim, it’s very important they join the army and then enter the work force. The Torah greats will decide who goes to yeshivot and the rest will join the army.”

Dennis Ross, talking about the role that the U.S. should play in the Arab Spring, said “we in the West are not the authors of this story, so we won’t be the ones to write it. But if we are asked for help, we should offer it, with ground rules – respect religion, minorities and free speech – if they don’t follow these rules they shouldn’t be entitled to help.”

The Presidential Conference will wrap up tomorrow, after hearing from the likes of Defense Minister Ehud Barak, Chairman of the Jewish Agency Natan Sharansky, Rabbi Michael Melchior, and journalist Caroline Glick.

Jewish Press Staff

Dystopia and Israel’s Tomorrow

Wednesday, June 20th, 2012

There’s a sort of detached, surreal feeling one gets upon entering the President’s Conference on ‘Facing Tomorrow.’ The men in expensive suits and ties, and the women wearing fancy dresses; the rich and powerful hobnobbing alongside the young and energetic; people of all types, from all over the world gathering together; and the amount of staff seems endless.

It was like walking into a fantasy wonderland. And perhaps it was, in more than one way.

Two themes dominated the evening, peace and technology.

I enjoyed the speeches on technology, or more accurately, the vision of where technology is taking us. Eric Schmidt of Google stood out in particular. His vision was plausible and very much grounded in reality.

On the other hand, when the speakers spoke of peace, we entered the fantasy aspect of the conference.

It began with Professor Daniel Kahneman’s lecture.

Kahneman spoke of Hawks and Doves, the long time and extremely controversial theory he propounds regarding why nations go to war. His conclusions were that while the positions and analyses of the Hawks often seem to be correct, it is only seems so because people are internally biased and prejudiced to sooner believe and/or follow those positions and observations for a variety of cognitively distorted reasons or personal benefit (such as not looking stupid historically after they leave political office). And while the position of Doves seem too often to prove to be wrong, in reality they aren’t. The speech and theory was obviously far more complex than that, but I think that sums it up succinctly enough.

As an example, he spoke of the Egyptian peace treaty that has lasted 30 years. When he mentioned that example, I couldn’t help but think of the recent terror attacks emanating from Egypt, the massive weapons smuggling operations running from Egypt to Gaza, the hatred of Egyptians for the Jewish state – which never subsided in those 30 years, and the strong likelihood the treaty will soon be history. And then my thoughts went on to Oslo…

Kahneman would presumably say all these thoughts were examples of bias and cognitive dissonance.

Following the reception, we saw Henry Kissinger receive the President’s medal from President Peres to a standing ovation, and somehow Kissinger was transformed into the greatest and most unwavering friend Israel ever had. I admit, his speech was indeed emotionally compelling.

But I have to say that the biggest irony of the evening was hearing the orchestra begin to play “Imagine” by John Lennon, as an ever-smiling Tony Blair got up to speak (and what an incredible speaker he is).

The irony was not that Blair spoke about open immigration – tempered with some regulation – and how wonderful it has been for Europe. It wasn’t that Blair spoke incidentally of the terror attacks that began after Oslo (I imagined some people cringing as that deeply buried memory was dug up).

The irony was that as the orchestra began playing ‘Imagine’, I started getting alerts about rockets from Gaza hitting buildings (and eventually people) down South.

There’s no doubt that the President’s Conference is a beautiful and exciting affair. I look forward to the panel with Caroline Glick and Naftali Bennett on Thursday – the only political panel that appears to be actually balanced between left and right.

The visions and displays of the future of technology are certainly inspiring.

At base, one gets the distinct impression that the conference has a very left-leaning bias, which makes sense since it is our President’s conference.

But having lived through the dystopian “Tomorrow” that Oslo (and Peres) dragged Israel into, it’s simply not a “Tomorrow” I’d like to go through again.

Stephen Leavitt

Presidential Conference “Facing Tomorrow” While Facing Away from Observant Jews

Monday, June 18th, 2012

Israel Maimon, Chairman of the Facing Tomorrow 2012 conference steering committee, is proud of the way the event “attracts the world’s greatest minds and personalities, all of whom come together in Jerusalem each year to discuss how we can make the most of tomorrow’s opportunities.”

Like any major summer junket, the conference assembles both has-been and just-been celebrities: Henry Kissinger, Tony Blair, Cisco Systems Chairman John Chambers, President Peres, Ernst & Young Chairman James Turley, Google Chairman Eric Schmidt, hip-hop pioneer Russell Simmons, and Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu (who just strained his hip).

Under the auspices of Israeli President Shimon Peres, this charmed crowd will be in Jerusalem Tuesday, “to tackles vital issues, initiatives and decisions that must be implemented to guarantee a better tomorrow for the world, the Jewish people and the State of Israel.”

I checked out some of the discussion forums, trying to assess if there was anything there that would blow my mind. So I checked out “Tomorrow’s Religion: Part of the Problem or Part of the Solution?”

“What is the role of religion in shaping tomorrow? How will it influence the development of human society? Can religion, which is part of the current problems, become part of tomorrow’s solutions?”

The answers to these crucial questions will be provided by Professor of the Study of the Abrahamic Religions Guy Stroumsa (moderator); by University College Anthropologist Jonathan Benthall; former Minister for Social Affairs and World Jewry Rabbi Michael Melchior (who is on the short list to succeed Rabbi Jonathan Sacks as GB Chief Rabbi); University of Edinburgh Professor of Islamic and Interreligious Studies Mona Siddiqui, and Trinity College Professor Mark Silk.

The panel does includes a real rabbi, then, alongside a slew of academics, each of whom will share a portion of the 90 minutes allotted this weighty topic (Thursday, June 21, 2:00 – 3:30 PN). No room will be made for people who actually engage all day long, every day, in their religion, which is why, even if the panel had 10 hours, they would still not be able to come up with exciting answers to whether religion is part of the problem or the solution.

I safely filed this session under “part of the problem” and moved right on.

“Judaism and Democracy: Complementary or Conflicting Values?” doesn’t even feature the obligatory rabbi (Wednesday, June 20, 11:30 – 13:00). The panel does include two politicians: Natan Sharansky, and Canadian MP Irwin Cotler, who must be facing a lot of issues of Judaism vs. democracy in his daily work.

Onward, Jewish soldiers, to “New Interpretations of an Ancient Identity: The Next Jewish Generation” (Wednesday, June 20, 11:30 AM – 1:00 PM) moderated by Ha’aretz English edition editor Charlotte Halle. The panel includes rich guy David Hatchwell, president of the Jewish Community of Madrid, who was also a member of the Madrid Vivo Foundation, which prepared the visit of Pope Benedict XVI to Spain. Talk about new interpretations of an ancient identity. Then there’s the president of the Shalom Hartman Institute of North America, a contributing editor at The Forward, and Rabbi Danya Ruttenberg. Oh, and a singer from the Dag Nahash rap band.

Who on this panel has any connection whatsoever to me, to my shul, to our children? What does any of those folks know about the explosion of Torah learning in Israel, about our packed houses of worship, about our proliferation of loan societies, about our irrepressible demographics?

And there’s this gem: “Tomorrow’s Jewish-Arab Coexistence in Israel: Moving Forwards or Backwards?” (Thursday, June 21, 11:30 AM – 1:00 PM). The moderator is Arab radio journalist Eman Kassem-Sliman, who told the NY Times: “I am not a Jew, how can I belong to a Jewish state? If they define this as a Jewish state, they deny that I am here.” You see where the discussion is going? Then there’s Dr. Masad Barhoum, the first Arab director of a government-run hospital in Israel since the establishment of the state, who’s  a decent man with remarkably sober and honest views; Shlomo Buhbut, Mayor of the Arab-Jewish city of Maalot Tarshicha, who actually knows a thing or two about coexistence; Mohammad Darawshe, who praised MK Ahmed Tibi and some 40 Iasraeli Arab politicians who visited Libya’s then president Muammar Gadhafi; Amal Elsana Alh’jooj (I actually like her), and Professor Sammy Smooha, from the University of Haifa’s Jewish-Arab Center.

Yori Yanover

Netanyahu’s Cabinet to Legalize Ulpana Hill Neighborhood

Thursday, May 10th, 2012

Israel’s Cabinet will meet in a special session to discuss legalizing the Ulpana Hill Neighborhood in Judea and Samaria, in response to a Supreme Court ruling calling for its demolition.

The meeting will be held Friday, a day after National Union faction leader Ya’akov Katz (Ketzaleh) and Zevulun Orlev of the Jewish Home faction each said that he would introduce a bill next week to retroactively authorize the constructon.

The two factions’ proposed bills were announced after Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu informed Knesset Speaker Reuven Rivlin that Netanyahu was removing his opposition to a new regulation law. MK Katz (shadow ‘e) that it would introduce his bill on Monday.

Earlier this week, the Supreme Court rejected the Israeli government’s request to delay the razing of the Neighborhood of the town of Bet El. In reinforcing its ruling of last September, the panel of judges ordered that the neighborhood of several apartment buildings be razed by July 1, having found that the buildings have been built on private land owned by Palestinians.

Material from a JTA story was used in this report.

Jewish Press News Briefs

Director Won’t Release ‘Love Song of Saul Alinsky’ Tape with Obama’s ‘Share’

Wednesday, March 7th, 2012

According to breitbart.com, Pam Dickler, director of the 1998 production of “The Love Song of Saul Alinsky” in Chicago that included a panel discussion featuring then-State Sen. Barack Obama, has a video tape of the play, and she won’t release it.

“There is only one archive tape of the play and I have it,” Dickler said. “It is not in Chicago.”

Dickler said that she didn’t believe she had ever watched the tape, and she didn’t know if it “can be viewed.” But she added: “No one is going to see the tape.”

She said she felt “very protective over it … due to all of the interest from conservatives recently.” She also told our source that the poster for the play was never supposed to be distributed.

Dickler added that there were no transcripts of the panel discussion.

Jewish Press News Briefs

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