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December 28, 2014 / 6 Tevet, 5775
 
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Posts Tagged ‘panel’

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.

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.

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.

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.

Islamists Win Over 70% of Egyptian Parliament

Sunday, January 22nd, 2012

Egypt’s Islamic parties won a resounding victory in the first elections since the overthrow of dictator Hosni Mubarak in February 2011, garnering over two-thirds of the seats in the new People’s Assembly.

The Muslim Brotherhood’s party – The Freedom and Justice Party (FJP) – won 235 seats in the national legislature (47.18%), the Salafist Al-Nur party came second with 121 seats (24.29%), and the liberal Wafd party was third with 9%.

The two-chamber People’s Assembly is particularly important because it is responsible for selecting a 100-member panel to draft a constitution.

A new president will be elected by June 2012.

Bank of Israel Commemorative Coin Wins Coin of the Year

Tuesday, January 17th, 2012

The Bank of Israel’s “Jonah in the Belly of the Fish” two shekel commemorative coin won the Coin of the Year award in the annual competition sponsored by the Krause Publications, the Bank of Israel said in a press release on Monday.

The coin was chosen from among 95 coins by a panel of judges who are experts in the field, including writers, editors, and members of the American Numismatic Association.

The “Jonah in the belly of the fish” coin is the sixteenth commemorative coin in the Biblical Art series issued by the Bank of Israel. The series has included coins such as, “Elijah in the Whirlwind”, “Samson and the Lion”, “And the Waters Were Divided”, and others.

Supreme Court Pres. To Scuttle Appointee Deal

Sunday, November 20th, 2011

Israeli Supreme Court President Dorit Beinisch will allegedly renege on an agreement she made with members of the panel of nominating judges, and support Sephardic former-Attorney General Menachem Mazuz to the court, rather than nationalist-leaning Jerusalem District Judge Noam Solberg.

Discussion of the upcoming appointment of a new justice has often centered around the political and ideological propensities of the candidates.  While the High Court is considered secular and liberal, the country’s citizens have been voting more nationalist and religious.

Beinisch has been criticized as a highly-politicized left-leaning judge.  Solberg, who has been favored as a potential shift away from anti-nationalism, is religious, and resides in the Gush Etzion community of Alon Shvut.  He had been nominated to take over for Mazuz has Attorney General in 2009, but was ultimately turned down.

Under the original deal, Jerusalem District Court Judge Tzvi Sylbertal, who is close to Beinisch, would be appointed to the court along with Solberg, and Tel Aviv District Court President Dvora Berliner would be appointed to the High Court of Justice.

Now, it appears Beinisch will stymie the deal, and delay the process by seeking to introduce new candidates, particularly Sephardic ones in light of the retirement of Judge Edmond Levy, the Court’s one Sephardic judge.  Beinisch is retiring in February, which makes this her last opportunity to influence the outcome of a new Supreme Court appointment.  Analysts suggest that Mazuz will be a difficult candidate to disregard – regardless of whether he is qualified – because he fulfills the implicit need to include a Sephardic Jew on the Court roster.

The law regarding selecting Supreme Court judges requires a 30-day waiting period after the submission of a candidate, to allow the public to voice objections.

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/news/supreme-court-pres-to-scuttle-appointee-deal/2011/11/20/

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