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HERITAGE FLORIDA JEWISH NEWS, JANUARY 4, 2013 PAGE 5A By Ben Cohen JNS.org It often seems like there are two Irans. There's the Iran deemed by western political leaders and diplomats to be a rational agent with whom it's possible to negotiate over that coun- try's nuclear Ambitions. It's a common position on both sides of the Atlantic. In Amer- ica, former Nebraska senator Chuck Hagel, currently the object of much speculation over his prospects for being appointed the ObamaAdmin- istration's next Secretary of Iran: A plea for respect Defense, has been an ardent advocate of talks with the Ira- nian regime. An opponent of tougher sanctions on Tehran, Hagel urged President George W. Bush, back in 2007, to engage in direct negotiations with the mullahs. And in Europe, the EU's foreign policy chief, Catherine Ashton, has gone out of her way to praise Iran's "construc- tive and useful" approach to negotiations, advocating at the same time for more talks. But there's also anoth- er Iran: a country whose leadership is possessed by an apocalyptic messianism, which loudly incites genocide against Israel, and which is additionally regarded by some conservative Arab states as an existential threat. That second Iran was dis- played in all its hideous glory in the aftermath of the massacre at the Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Conn., during which gunman Adam Lanza slaughtered 20 young children and six staff members. Except that, according to the Iranian regime's English-language mouthpiece, Press TV, Lanza was a "fall guy" for the real authors of the massacre: Is- raeli "death squads" angered by the recent UN vote granting "Palestine" non-member sta- tus at the international body. The originator of this repul- sive conspiracy theory, Mike Harris of the anti-Semitic "Veterans Today" website, was encouraged by Press TV's presenter as he laid the blame on "Zionists" not just for the Newtown horror, but for the shootings of Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords and 18 oth- ers in Tucson, Ariz., in Janu- ary 2011 as well. Harris also ranted about the "filth" put out by "Zionist-controlled" Hollywood, and, in a nod to Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, stated that he wants"Israel off the face of the earth." The U.S. Congress, he asserted, is "bought and paid for by the Israeli Lobby in the U.S." (That same phrase, in- cidentally, has also been used by New York Times columnist Tom Friedman.) Here's the point: by giv- ing Harris an unchallenged platform just hours after the funeral of 6-year-old Noah Pozner, a Jewish victim of Lanza's, the Iranian regime, wearing its Press TV hat, was deliberately and sadisti- cally rejoicing in America's national trauma. Remember the scenes of celebration in the Muslim world after the 9/11 atrocities? This episode was disturbingly similar. I, for one, may have been disgusted by what I saw, but I wasn't surprised. Anti-Amer- icanism and anti-Semitism have always been bedfellows, never more so than in the imagination of the Iranian regime. Yet the question remains: how does one reconcile an apparently rational Iran, concerned with its national Iran on page 18A By Alan Kornman On Dec. 21, 2012 Heritage Florida Jewish News account executive Richard Ries wrote an op-ed, "Actual or distorted anti-Semitism at UCF?" Mr. Ries made so many distor- tions and factual mistakes I am forced to respond. Mr. Ries, in the first para- graph of his op-ed, reported Sheikh Ladak was "an an- thropologist." However, the moderator from the Ah- lul Bayt Society described Sheikh Ladak as "a partner in a firm that supplies medi- cal staff to the NHS" not a degreed anthropologist. Even a cub reporter knows to get the correct information on who he is reporting about. Mr. Ries, in the vein of full disclosure, misleads the reader by not disclosing he did not attend the event he's reporting on. False math Mr. Reis reported falsely, "About 10 seconds of Ladak's speech were pieced together with 4 1/2 minutes of other By Lawrence Grossman Jewish Ideas Daily Although the Jewish en- counter with modernity emerged out of a complex interplay of social, economic and intellectual currents, Moses Mendelssohn (1729- 86) is acknowledged as its godfather. The small-town Jewish boy vho became a leading Enlightenment phi- losopher in Berlin not only embodied the synthesis of observant Jew and European intellectual; he also advo- cated equal rights for Jews in an overwhelmingly Chris- tian society and produced a German Bible translation and commentary to help his fellow Jews acculturate. The subsequent development of the religiously neutral state (in principle if not in fact) whose de-ghettoized Jewish citizens identify with na- tional values may be traced back directly to Mendelssohn. Historians have long rec- ognized, however, that this model of modernization, while accurate for Germany and points west, including the United States, does not fit Eastern Europe, where " the great bulk of the world's Jews lived until World War II. Governmental authorities there did not consider Jews part of the nation; and the Jews, for their part, rarely identified with Polish, Rus- sian or Romanian culture. Actual anti-Semitism at UCF footage...only 3 percent of the video actually took place at UCF." The fact of the matter is, Sheikh Ladak's quote was played twice, plus the open- ing is exactly 29.78 percent of the video. The "lO-second" lie by Mr. Reis is important because he uses his 3 percent number as the foundational proof to discredit the video by calling it an "anti-Semitic celebration." Any responsible account executive/writer would not do this, and most likely why Mr. Ries did not provide a link to the video in his op-ed. Here is a link to the video so we can all be on the same page: http://www.youtube.com/ watch?v=BLfkXDFa8Hg The anti-Semitic quote The UCFAhlul Bayt Society put a cooler in front of the camera blocking any video of Sheikh Ladak's lecture. Why such deception and what were they trying to hide at an open-to-the-public event? Mr. Ries left out of his op-ed, Sheikh Ladak's anti- Semitic quote, denying the reader of the one crucial fact that is at the center of this controversy. Sheikh Ladak said, "We are considered Homo sapiens, although I will say there are some who have probably, you know, gone backwards, and are more Neanderthal in their thinking. They're from Mars, or probably from the State of Israel (audience laughter). That's why I don't want this being recorded. I'll never be allowed back into the States. That's probably a good thing after this Majlis." Insult to injury Sheikh Ladak knew what he said was hateful, because he followed up his Neander- thal comment by saying, "That's why I don't want this being recorded. I'll never be allowed back in the States." Sheikh Ladak added those specific words for a very good reason. Quran 5:60 states, "Those (Jews) who incurred the curse of Allah and his wrath, and those of whom (some) he transformed into apes and swine." Surah 5 is an un- abrogated Quran verse and holds much significance to the followers of Islam be- cause Allah cursed the Jews by name and is not open te innovation or reform. With only a basic under- standing of Islamic doctrine and theology it is easy to surmise why Sheikh Ladak was concerned his comments might not allow him to return to the States, when put into their full context in light of American sensitivity to any kind of hate speech. Mr. Ries confirmed with me three times that Sheikh Ladak described his insensi- tive words as an "off color joke" not an "off hand" joke as reported in the op-ed. I did not find Sheik Ladak's self described "off color joke" as either funny or a joke. I found Sheikh Ladak's comment in- 'suiting and highly offensive. The Council on American Islamic Relations showed heightened sensitivity to a "South Park" episode where Mohammed was portrayed in abear suit causing a national uproar. Imagine ifa rabbi said Saudi Arabians are Neander- thals, then qualified it with he may not be allowed back into the States, because of the comment. CAIR would be in an uproar filing tawsuits right and left. The real face of hate Mr. Ries said, "...Muslim groups and Jewish groups will break bread, discuss common goals and speak jointly against United West. The Heritage has been invited to attend these symposiums and will report further...in January." The United West made no insensitive hateful comments toward anyone. Yet Jewish and Muslim groups are going to speak jointly against The United West for reporting on hate speech against Israel and Jews. Mr. Ries asked me but did not report what we wanted out of producing this video. I told Mr. Ries, "We want an apology." Where did the Gaon go? How, then, shall we con- ceptualize the modernization of East European Jews? Enter Eliyahu Stern, as- sistant professor of modern Jewish intellectual and cul- tural history at Yale. In his new book "The Genius: Elijah of Viina and the Making of Modern Judaism," Stern identifies an East European contemporary of Mendels- sohn who, though different from Mendelssohn in every imaginable way, performed a functionally equivalent rolle in symbolizing modernity tto the Jews beyond the EIbe. The man was Rabbi Elijah ben Solomon (1720-97), better known as the Vilna Gaona, or the genius of Vilna--the Polish city annexed by Russiia in his lifetime that is today Vilnius, capital of Lithuani;a. The Gaon would hardily appear to be a candidate for leadership of any kind. He was a reclusive, primarily self-taught scholar who held no communal position. One of his few public campaigns was to denounce and urge the excommunication of the newly formed group called Hasidim. Though revered by the Jews of his city and its environs, he conducted no classes and issued no publications or responsa. Occasionally he imparted his views to visiting students; and the notes he scribbled in the margins of books, often cryp- tic and hard to decipher, were published after his death. Members of his family said he almost never took time off from study to socialize with them or anyone else. Stern makes his case for the Gaon by setting up unique criteria of modernity for regions heavily populated by Jews. Mendelssohn, he argues, spoke for and to a Jewish minority; hence, making Judaism modern meant reformulating it as rational and unthreatening to Christians and urging the Jews to westernize so that they might fit into the body politic. In Vilna, however, Jews constituted a majority of the population, and neither Rabbi Elijah nor other Jews cared very much what the lo- cals thought of them. In East Europe generally, the Jews remained separate and apart. Their modernization would not come via rapprochement with the neighbors. Stern claims that East Eu- ropean Jews developed a mod- ern consciousness through an intertwined series of social changes: "the differentiation between public and private spheres, the weakening of re- ligious governing structures, and the democratization of. knowledge in Jewish society." Coming soon after the Polish government's dissolution of the Council of Four Lands, which had functioned as the coordinating body for Jew- ish life in Poland for close to two centuries, the Gaon's legendary life of solitary, unstinting pursuit of knowl- edge, unconnected to any communal institution, was an embodiment of this new social reality and, as such, was indelibly etched on the cultural consciousness of East European Jews as an ideal for emulation. Stern believes that all subsequent innovative Jew- ish trends emanating from Eastern Europe ultimately flow from the Gaon's individ- ualistic and nonconformist persona. Such trends range from the new-style yeshiva that one of his students set up in Volozhin in 1804, which became the prototype for the "Lithuanian" yeshivot today; the Mussar pietistic-ethical movement; Zionism; and Jewish socialism and radical- ism. Stretching hyperbole to its limit, Stern even credits the Gaon for the lifestyle of "those residents of Tel Aviv and New York who live as if they are majorities." There are substantial prob- lems with Stern's thesis. Can the Vilna Gaon, who whole- heartedly backed the persecu- tion of Hasidim, seriously be associated with individual- ism and democratization? Even for the opponents of Hasidism who shared the Gaon's insatiable thirst for Talmud study, his long-term impact has been questioned by historians Shaul Stampfer and Immanuel Etkes, the two leading authorities on the subject. In Immanuel Etkes' words, the Vilna Gaon's reputation rests simply on his "excep- tional accomplishment in Torah studies," for which he became a "symbol and source of inspiration." De- spite Stern's best efforts to Mr. Ries asked, "Is that it? I said, "Yes." I speculate Mr. Ries chose not to report this fact in his op-ed because it did not fit his factually incorrect and hate filled rant against The United West. Conclusion In the name of pluralism and tolerance we at The United West would like to be included in these symposiums so we can defend ourselves in an open forum. I hope these hate symposiums will be filmed and open to the public. We at The United West work with several devout Muslims including Dr. Zuhdi Jasser and Tawfiq Hamid, who may also want to attend these sym- posiums. We also work with many former Muslims, rabbis, Christians and native Middle Easterners, whose input will make these symposiums more beneficial for the entire com- munity. Interfaith dialogues without a diversity of voices present only half the truth. Alan Kornman is regional coordinator for The United West. prove otherwise, Rabbi Elijah was no herald of modernity. Lawrence Grossman, di- rector of publications at the American Jewish Committee, edited the American Jewish Year Book from 2000 to 2008. This article was first published by Jewish Ideas Daily (www. jewishideasdaily.com) and is reprinted with permission. Dry Bones BEST W00ES THE BOMB HERITAGE FLORIDA JEWISH NEWS, JANUARY 4, 2013 PAGE 5A By Ben Cohen JNS.org It often seems like there are two Irans. There's the Iran deemed by western political leaders and diplomats to be a rational agent with whom it's possible to negotiate over that coun- try's nuclear Ambitions. It's a common position on both sides of the Atlantic. In Amer- ica, former Nebraska senator Chuck Hagel, currently the object of much speculation over his prospects for being appointed the ObamaAdmin- istration's next Secretary of Iran: A plea for respect Defense, has been an ardent advocate of talks with the Ira- nian regime. An opponent of tougher sanctions on Tehran, Hagel urged President George W. Bush, back in 2007, to engage in direct negotiations with the mullahs. And in Europe, the EU's foreign policy chief, Catherine Ashton, has gone out of her way to praise Iran's "construc- tive and useful" approach to negotiations, advocating at the same time for more talks. But there's also anoth- er Iran: a country whose leadership is possessed by an apocalyptic messianism, which loudly incites genocide against Israel, and which is additionally regarded by some conservative Arab states as an existential threat. That second Iran was dis- played in all its hideous glory in the aftermath of the massacre at the Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Conn., during which gunman Adam Lanza slaughtered 20 young children and six staff members. Except that, according to the Iranian regime's English-language mouthpiece, Press TV, Lanza was a "fall guy" for the real authors of the massacre: Is- raeli "death squads" angered by the recent UN vote granting "Palestine" non-member sta- tus at the international body. The originator of this repul- sive conspiracy theory, Mike Harris of the anti-Semitic "Veterans Today" website, was encouraged by Press TV's presenter as he laid the blame on "Zionists" not just for the Newtown horror, but for the shootings of Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords and 18 oth- ers in Tucson, Ariz., in Janu- ary 2011 as well. Harris also ranted about the "filth" put out by "Zionist-controlled" Hollywood, and, in a nod to Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, stated that he wants"Israel off the face of the earth." The U.S. Congress, he asserted, is "bought and paid for by the Israeli Lobby in the U.S." (That same phrase, in- cidentally, has also been used by New York Times columnist Tom Friedman.) Here's the point: by giv- ing Harris an unchallenged platform just hours after the funeral of 6-year-old Noah Pozner, a Jewish victim of Lanza's, the Iranian regime, wearing its Press TV hat, was deliberately and sadisti- cally rejoicing in America's national trauma. Remember the scenes of celebration in the Muslim world after the 9/11 atrocities? This episode was disturbingly similar. I, for one, may have been disgusted by what I saw, but I wasn't surprised. Anti-Amer- icanism and anti-Semitism have always been bedfellows, never more so than in the imagination of the Iranian regime. Yet the question remains: how does one reconcile an apparently rational Iran, concerned with its national Iran on page 18A By Alan Kornman On Dec. 21, 2012 Heritage Florida Jewish News account executive Richard Ries wrote an op-ed, "Actual or distorted anti-Semitism at UCF?" Mr. Ries made so many distor- tions and factual mistakes I am forced to respond. Mr. Ries, in the first para- graph of his op-ed, reported Sheikh Ladak was "an an- thropologist." However, the moderator from the Ah- lul Bayt Society described Sheikh Ladak as "a partner in a firm that supplies medi- cal staff to the NHS" not a degreed anthropologist. Even a cub reporter knows to get the correct information on who he is reporting about. Mr. Ries, in the vein of full disclosure, misleads the reader by not disclosing he did not attend the event he's reporting on. False math Mr. Reis reported falsely, "About 10 seconds of Ladak's speech were pieced together with 4 1/2 minutes of other By Lawrence Grossman Jewish Ideas Daily Although the Jewish en- counter with modernity emerged out of a complex interplay of social, economic and intellectual currents, Moses Mendelssohn (1729- 86) is acknowledged as its godfather. The small-town Jewish boy vho became a leading Enlightenment phi- losopher in Berlin not only embodied the synthesis of observant Jew and European intellectual; he also advo- cated equal rights for Jews in an overwhelmingly Chris- tian society and produced a German Bible translation and commentary to help his fellow Jews acculturate. The subsequent development of the religiously neutral state (in principle if not in fact) whose de-ghettoized Jewish citizens identify with na- tional values may be traced back directly to Mendelssohn. Historians have long rec- ognized, however, that this model of modernization, while accurate for Germany and points west, including the United States, does not fit Eastern Europe, where " the great bulk of the world's Jews lived until World War II. Governmental authorities there did not consider Jews part of the nation; and the Jews, for their part, rarely identified with Polish, Rus- sian or Romanian culture. Actual anti-Semitism at UCF footage...only 3 percent of the video actually took place at UCF." The fact of the matter is, Sheikh Ladak's quote was played twice, plus the open- ing is exactly 29.78 percent of the video. The "lO-second" lie by Mr. Reis is important because he uses his 3 percent number as the foundational proof to discredit the video by calling it an "anti-Semitic celebration." Any responsible account executive/writer would not do this, and most likely why Mr. Ries did not provide a link to the video in his op-ed. Here is a link to the video so we can all be on the same page: http://www.youtube.com/ watch?v=BLfkXDFa8Hg The anti-Semitic quote The UCFAhlul Bayt Society put a cooler in front of the camera blocking any video of Sheikh Ladak's lecture. Why such deception and what were they trying to hide at an open-to-the-public event? Mr. Ries left out of his op-ed, Sheikh Ladak's anti- Semitic quote, denying the reader of the one crucial fact that is at the center of this controversy. Sheikh Ladak said, "We are considered Homo sapiens, although I will say there are some who have probably, you know, gone backwards, and are more Neanderthal in their thinking. They're from Mars, or probably from the State of Israel (audience laughter). That's why I don't want this being recorded. I'll never be allowed back into the States. That's probably a good thing after this Majlis." Insult to injury Sheikh Ladak knew what he said was hateful, because he followed up his Neander- thal comment by saying, "That's why I don't want this being recorded. I'll never be allowed back in the States." Sheikh Ladak added those specific words for a very good reason. Quran 5:60 states, "Those (Jews) who incurred the curse of Allah and his wrath, and those of whom (some) he transformed into apes and swine." Surah 5 is an un- abrogated Quran verse and holds much significance to the followers of Islam be- cause Allah cursed the Jews by name and is not open te innovation or reform. With only a basic under- standing of Islamic doctrine and theology it is easy to surmise why Sheikh Ladak was concerned his comments might not allow him to return to the States, when put into their full context in light of American sensitivity to any kind of hate speech. Mr. Ries confirmed with me three times that Sheikh Ladak described his insensi- tive words as an "off color joke" not an "off hand" joke as reported in the op-ed. I did not find Sheik Ladak's self described "off color joke" as either funny or a joke. I found Sheikh Ladak's comment in- 'suiting and highly offensive. The Council on American Islamic Relations showed heightened sensitivity to a "South Park" episode where Mohammed was portrayed in abear suit causing a national uproar. Imagine ifa rabbi said Saudi Arabians are Neander- thals, then qualified it with he may not be allowed back into the States, because of the comment. CAIR would be in an uproar filing tawsuits right and left. The real face of hate Mr. Ries said, "...Muslim groups and Jewish groups will break bread, discuss common goals and speak jointly against United West. The Heritage has been invited to attend these symposiums and will report further...in January." The United West made no insensitive hateful comments toward anyone. Yet Jewish and Muslim groups are going to speak jointly against The United West for reporting on hate speech against Israel and Jews. Mr. Ries asked me but did not report what we wanted out of producing this video. I told Mr. Ries, "We want an apology." Where did the Gaon go? How, then, shall we con- ceptualize the modernization of East European Jews? Enter Eliyahu Stern, as- sistant professor of modern Jewish intellectual and cul- tural history at Yale. In his new book "The Genius: Elijah of Viina and the Making of Modern Judaism," Stern identifies an East European contemporary of Mendels- sohn who, though different from Mendelssohn in every imaginable way, performed a functionally equivalent rolle in symbolizing modernity tto the Jews beyond the EIbe. The man was Rabbi Elijah ben Solomon (1720-97), better known as the Vilna Gaona, or the genius of Vilna--the Polish city annexed by Russiia in his lifetime that is today Vilnius, capital of Lithuani;a. The Gaon would hardily appear to be a candidate for leadership of any kind. He was a reclusive, primarily self-taught scholar who held no communal position. One of his few public campaigns was to denounce and urge the excommunication of the newly formed group called Hasidim. Though revered by the Jews of his city and its environs, he conducted no classes and issued no publications or responsa. Occasionally he imparted his views to visiting students; and the notes he scribbled in the margins of books, often cryp- tic and hard to decipher, were published after his death. Members of his family said he almost never took time off from study to socialize with them or anyone else. Stern makes his case for the Gaon by setting up unique criteria of modernity for regions heavily populated by Jews. Mendelssohn, he argues, spoke for and to a Jewish minority; hence, making Judaism modern meant reformulating it as rational and unthreatening to Christians and urging the Jews to westernize so that they might fit into the body politic. In Vilna, however, Jews constituted a majority of the population, and neither Rabbi Elijah nor other Jews cared very much what the lo- cals thought of them. In East Europe generally, the Jews remained separate and apart. Their modernization would not come via rapprochement with the neighbors. Stern claims that East Eu- ropean Jews developed a mod- ern consciousness through an intertwined series of social changes: "the differentiation between public and private spheres, the weakening of re- ligious governing structures, and the democratization of. knowledge in Jewish society." Coming soon after the Polish government's dissolution of the Council of Four Lands, which had functioned as the coordinating body for Jew- ish life in Poland for close to two centuries, the Gaon's legendary life of solitary, unstinting pursuit of knowl- edge, unconnected to any communal institution, was an embodiment of this new social reality and, as such, was indelibly etched on the cultural consciousness of East European Jews as an ideal for emulation. Stern believes that all subsequent innovative Jew- ish trends emanating from Eastern Europe ultimately flow from the Gaon's individ- ualistic and nonconformist persona. Such trends range from the new-style yeshiva that one of his students set up in Volozhin in 1804, which became the prototype for the "Lithuanian" yeshivot today; the Mussar pietistic-ethical movement; Zionism; and Jewish socialism and radical- ism. Stretching hyperbole to its limit, Stern even credits the Gaon for the lifestyle of "those residents of Tel Aviv and New York who live as if they are majorities." There are substantial prob- lems with Stern's thesis. Can the Vilna Gaon, who whole- heartedly backed the persecu- tion of Hasidim, seriously be associated with individual- ism and democratization? Even for the opponents of Hasidism who shared the Gaon's insatiable thirst for Talmud study, his long-term impact has been questioned by historians Shaul Stampfer and Immanuel Etkes, the two leading authorities on the subject. In Immanuel Etkes' words, the Vilna Gaon's reputation rests simply on his "excep- tional accomplishment in Torah studies," for which he became a "symbol and source of inspiration." De- spite Stern's best efforts to Mr. Ries asked, "Is that it? I said, "Yes." I speculate Mr. Ries chose not to report this fact in his op-ed because it did not fit his factually incorrect and hate filled rant against The United West. Conclusion In the name of pluralism and tolerance we at The United West would like to be included in these symposiums so we can defend ourselves in an open forum. I hope these hate symposiums will be filmed and open to the public. We at The United West work with several devout Muslims including Dr. Zuhdi Jasser and Tawfiq Hamid, who may also want to attend these sym- posiums. We also work with many former Muslims, rabbis, Christians and native Middle Easterners, whose input will make these symposiums more beneficial for the entire com- munity. Interfaith dialogues without a diversity of voices present only half the truth. Alan Kornman is regional coordinator for The United West. prove otherwise, Rabbi Elijah was no herald of modernity. Lawrence Grossman, di- rector of publications at the American Jewish Committee, edited the American Jewish Year Book from 2000 to 2008. This article was first published by Jewish Ideas Daily (www. jewishideasdaily.com) and is reprinted with permission. Dry Bones BEST W00ES THE BOMB