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April 17, 2014 / 17 Nisan, 5774
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European Jewish Association Calls for Protection of Ukrainian Jews

Wednesday, October 31st, 2012

The head of the European Jewish Association has called on the Ukrainian government to ensure the safety of the country’s Jews in the wake of the election to parliament of an anti-Semitic party.

“We are not presuming of course, to interfere in internal Ukraine affairs and its voters’ decisions, however we are very concerned about the safety of Ukrainian Jews and are seeking to prevent expansion of anti-Semitism in Europe,” Rabbi Menachem Margolin said in a statement.

On Oct. 28, the ultra-nationalist Svoboda (Freedom) Party, making unprecedented gains in Ukraine’s parliamentary elections, garnered 12 percent of the vote, after winning less than 1 percent in the previous election, in 2007. The percentage means that the party can control a parliament faction for the first time.

Party leader Oleg Tyagnibok has called in the past for purges of the approximately 400,000 Jews living in Ukraine, as well as other minorities. The party has held several protest rallies against the presence of Jews in Uman, in the center of the country.

Huge Upsurge in Anti-Semitic Attacks in France This Year

Thursday, October 11th, 2012

Several attacks on Jews over the Sukkot holiday across France have exemplified a whopping 45 percent reported increase in anti-Semitic attacks in the country in the first eight months of 2012.

Among the attacks was one against a Jewish family in their sukkah by unidentified assailants.  The ten-member family, including small children and an eight month-old baby – were eating in their sukkah when a group of men began shouting obscenities at them from the street in Arabic and then hurling rocks at them.  Among the slurs was “Dirty Jews, go home” and “we’ll get you!”

One woman was injured in her back, but no other injuries were reported.  The attackers fled the scene before police arrived.

Among the incidents were 101 considered “violent”, including the heinous murder of four people – a father, his two children, and the daughter of the nearby Jewish school principal – in Toulouse on March 19.

So Why are Voters Still Choosing Obama?

Sunday, October 7th, 2012

Last week’s U.S. presidential debate was a victory for Romney on all accounts, especially if one judges by the closing statements, where Obama couldn’t muster any specific reason why voters should re-elect him aside from the fact that he was trying really hard as president.

Even when Obama wished his wife a “happy anniversary” – which appeared, at least to me, a totally unromantic political move – Romney smoothly countered wishing the President a happy anniversary and joking how “romantic” it must be for the president to be spending his wedding anniversary with Romney.

Looking at polls on how people view the candidates, I’m beginning to wonder why it is that Obama leads Romney in national polls and whether that is going start to change in a big way.

On the economy, which is the top issue among voters, Romney has long maintained an edge against Obama. In a Wall Street Journal-NBC poll conducted in April, for example, 40 percent said that Romney had “better ideas to fix the economy” to Obama’s 34 percent. A Rasmussen poll a few days before the debate, showed that 51 percent trusted Romney on the economy to Obama’s 44 percent.

In “likeability,” Obama has traditionally had Romney beat. In that Wall Street Journal-NBC poll from April voters were asked questions like “who do you think would be better at. . .being easy going and likable?” or “caring about average people?” or “looking out for the middle class?” Obama beat Romney two-to-one or better on each.

But in post-debate polls of people who watched the debate conducted by CBS and CNN Romney did a lot better. In the CBS poll people said they liked both candidates. In the CNN poll, Romney beat Obama on likability 46 to 45 percent. A whopping 58 percent said Romney “seemed to be the stronger leader” to Obama’s 30 percent.

In the April WSJ-NBC poll, Voters said they would choose Obama over Romney 49 to 43 percent. But if the likability gap is closing and people favor Romney on the most important issue, it is hard to imagine why voters would still choose Obama over Romney. And indeed, the latest Rasmussen poll from October 6th gives Romney a two-point lead over the President (49-47 percent). In that poll, one-third of respondents were interviewed before the debate, so if all were interviewed after the debate it’s possible that the gap would be even wider in Romney’s favor.

Since the debate, the New York Times reports that Romney is focusing on his “softer side,” telling personal stories and showing a 10-minute biographical video before rallies. If Romney and his team can succeed and keep that “likability gap” closed, there may be reason to believe that Obama can be beat in November.

Oh, and if you still haven’t seen the debate, here it is:

Canada Cuts Non-Christian Prison Clergy

Saturday, October 6th, 2012

Canadian rabbis want the Canadian federal government to reconsider cuts to the federal prison chaplaincy program, which would eliminate non-Christian clergy.

If the cuts are enacted, non-Christian federal inmates will be expected to turn to Christian prison chaplains for religious counsel and guidance.

Canada has about 80 full-time prison chaplains, all but one of whom are Christian; there are about 100 part-time chaplains, 20 of whom are non-Christians, according to CBC News.

In an e-mail to reporters on Thursday, the office of Public Safety Minister Vic Toews, sought to explain the cost-cutting move.

While the government “strongly supports the freedom of religion for all Canadians, including prisoners…[it] is not in the business of picking and choosing which religions will be given preferential status through government funding,” he wrote. As a result, the minister continued, chaplains in the Correctional Service of Canada “must provide services to inmates of all faiths.”

Less than one percent of Canada’s 15,000 federal prisoners are Jewish, according to corrections data from the last fiscal year.

The Canadian Rabbinic Caucus on Friday called on Toews to reconsider the cuts, saying in a statement that its members “are deeply concerned that non-Christian inmates will be deprived of religiously specific spiritual nourishment at a time in their lives when they most clearly need it.”

Monique Marchand, president of the Interfaith Committee on Chaplaincy, which advises the correctional service on the spiritual care of inmates, said the full-time prison chaplains now will be “coordinating” the pastoral care of minority faith inmates. That means, she explained, that they will request local clergy to donate their services at no charge to the government.

In Battleground State Ohio, Jewish Voters Favoring Obama According to AJC Poll

Thursday, October 4th, 2012

An American Jewish Committee survey of Jewish voters in Ohio, a battleground state, has the community favoring President Obama in similar numbers to polls elsewhere.

The survey released Wednesday by the AJC has Ohio’s Jews favoring Obama 64 percent to 29 percent for Mitt Romney, the Republican presidential candidate.

With a 6.4 percent margin of error, the numbers are commensurate with two other AJC polls last month that had Obama beating Romney 69 to 25 percent among Florida Jewish voters and 65 to 24 nationally.

As in those polls, the economy and health care topped voters’ concerns.

The phone survey of 238 registered Jewish voters in Ohio was conducted Sept. 13-30 by QEV Analytics.

The survey does not take into account any changes resulting from the recent presidential debate between Obama and Romney.

Malkah Fleisher contributed to this report

Romney Wins First Debate Hands Down (Complete Video)

Thursday, October 4th, 2012

Mitt Romney came prepared to last night’s debate. Not only in terms of the facts and figures of his own programs and agenda, but in terms of how to deal with the many different ways in which his opponent, President Barack Obama, would try to distort them.

Patiently, with a good-sport’s smile, without a hint of anger, Romney sought time and again to correct those distortions. Each time the president made the claim that Romney’s plans would cost $5 trillion plus the $2 trillion born by his proposed military budget expansion – the Republican insisted on restating that those accusations are unfounded and that none of his tax cut proposals would be made at the expense of the deficit.

Romney was so good at those corrections for the record, that by the time Obama repeated the same charge for the third time he sounded tired, haggard, even uninspired, compared with his aggressive but always good natured rival.

I’ve never seen Romney be this good.

Whether because he really did spend the last couple of months cramming for this test, or because in the clash between his and Obama’s personalities Romney’s polite but very fluent and decisive simply overmatched Obama’s contemplative style – as the moments of this debate drew on, it was becoming clear that the evening belonged to Romney, completely.

Indeed, the CNN flash polls showed 67 percent believe Romney won the debate, while just 25 percent said Obama won the Denver debate. And a CBS poll of undecided voters showed Romney leading Obama by 46 to 22 percent on the question of who won the debate, with 32 percent saying they were tied.

Watching the debate on CNN (I stayed up till three in the morning here, in Netanya, so you won’t have to), it seemed that every aspect of last night’s duel was going Romney’s way. Take the clock, for instance: as the night wore on, President Obama was clocking more than 4 minutes of talking over Governor Romney, and that time was accumulating, slowly but surely, in small increments, from the opening minute. As much as the moderator, PBS’s Jim Lehrer, tried to keep things even, Obama was getting away with more and more time bits than his opponent.

At one point, about a third of the way into the match, Obama went on talking uninterrupted for better than two minutes—an eternity in these debates—and the 78-year-old Lehrer was unable to control him, telling him afterward, “you’re way over the two minutes,” raising an apologetic smile from the president.

Yet instead of complaining, as some have done in previous presidential debates, Romney let it slide. He didn’t demand equal time, he simply pretended he didn’t mind these fouls, which, strangely enough, made him look more presidential than the president. And because of this tiny show of magnanimity, the clocks CNN was using to mark each candidate’s time use became a finger that pointed at the cheating debater.

If this was a plan—then the governor’s campaign team deserves the bonuses he just gave them. I tend to think it was a rare view into the two men’s personalities, in which Romney came across more stylish and composed.

That – the composure in face of Mr. Cool who, back in 2008 reduced Senator McCain to looking like your angry elderly neighbor who wouldn’t return the baseball that fell into his roses – that was worth staying up to watch.

On the substance, which I believe has only a minor importance in these clashes, Romney seemed a little more on top of his own facts and figures. Some of his arguments were hard to accept – for instance, that private insurance companies with a bigger overhead cost than that of a government agency, plus the requirement to show a profit, would be able to offer cheaper health insurance.

But while Obama scored obvious points in the eyes of this registered Democrat, he was stabbed unexpectedly by Romney when Obama boasted that his administration has made $716 billion in cuts of waste in the Medicare program. Romney claimed those were not well thought out cuts in specific areas of waste but an across the board slashing of the Medicare budget, with the trimmed funds used to finance Obamacare.

Iran Currency Plummets

Tuesday, October 2nd, 2012

Iran’s currency fell a whopping 16 percent on Monday to a record low of 34,500 rials to the dollar, plummeting from 29,500 rials on Sunday.

Analysts say the currency’s dive signals the deepening impact of Western sanctions on the country initiated because of Iran’s continuing nuclear program.

New US Poll: Strong Favorable View of Israel

Sunday, September 30th, 2012

Seventy percent of Americans view Israel favorably, according to a survey conducted by the Foreign Policy Initiative.

Moreover, when asked their view of Israel, nearly 81 percent of political conservatives share that view while the number is at 68.5 percent for moderates and roughly 63 percent of liberals.

The survey, called Foreign Policy Matters in 2012, was conducted from Sept. 15-17 by Basswood Research for the Foreign Policy Initiative. It’s margin of error is 3.1 percent. Roughly 40 percent of respondents identified as Republicans, 40 percent as Democrats and 20 percent as either Independents or with no party affiliation.

When asked the open-ended question who was “America’s  best ally in the world?” Israel came in at 15.9 percent, second only to the United Kingdom, which had 54 percent.

On Syria, nearly 66 percent of Americans support Washington working “with our allies to establish no-fly zones in Syria to protect civilians and help ensure a transition to a more pro-Western government instead of the terrorist-supporting regime of Bashar al-Assad.

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/news/new-us-poll-strong-favorable-view-of-israel/2012/09/30/

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