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January 7, 2011     Heritage Florida Jewish News
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January 7, 2011

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HERITAGE FLORIDA JEWISH NEWS, JANUARY 7, 2011 PAGE 5A r in By Andrew Silow-Carroli New Jersey Jewish News Out of date and full of rage An ink-stained wretch in an iPad age Here I sit with paper and pen To bid farewell to two-thousand-and-ten. But I'll be nice. For sure, I promise, Even to poor old Helen Thomas Who after a lifetime reporting the news Fired herself with a shot at the Jews. And like Rick Sanchez, the CNN anchor, Who shared her fate, if not her rancor, She was able to, loud and clear, prove, Dissing the Jews is no career move. Unless you're a self-styled "Israel critic," Then it's OK to be anti-Semitic. As long as you stick to the boilerplate: "It's not the Jews--it's their country I hate." And few will forget the global megilla When soldiers confronted the Gaza flotilla, And "activists" armed with clubs and knives Were "shocked" when buddies lost their lives. Whoops--there I go, sounding angry and bitter (For less of the same, you can find me @ Twitter) When the" year wasn't nearly bad as I make it Or at least not so bad that I couldn't fake it. Iran, after all, met disappointment, Its nukes undermined by afly in the oint- ment. Although it wasn't exactly a fly Butan Internetworm sent by (shhh-- starts with 'T'). There wasn't much cheer in Israel proper, When talk of peace came up a cropper And Obama, despite his threats and pleas, Couldn't score a settlement freeze. In a blow for doves and a boon for hawks Little came of the "parallel talks." Both sides balked, and in the final analysis "Parallel" seemed more like mere paralysis. Mark Zuckerberg, the king of"friends," Set out this fall to make amends For having had the gall to seize Upon our lack of boundaries. The Facebook founder broke the rules And gave a mint to Newark's schools, And despite a cinematic sneer, Time named him "person of the year." Elena Kagan, taking her seat On the highest court, said She'd eat Chinese food on Christmas Day. (But why'd they ask her, anyway?) And let us raise a glass of tea To the victors of the GOP Who seized the House amid much banter About the rise of Eric Cantor, Who having given Dems a spanking Is the second-highest ranking member of his party, reader, (and, what's more, a Jewish leader!). Mike Bloomberg was the crucial hero Of the ruckus at Ground Zero When right-wing pundits rose to fight A mosque planned near the sacred site. Hizzoner ignored the rants and screeds Said our land Welcomes all the creeds. Besides, of what are we afraid-- A radical mosque, or a masquerade? When Marc wed Chelsea, to no surprise, It was a chance to sermonize On faith, and love, and something deeper, Like, Would the bridegroom wear a kipa? And when he did, my gosh, the gossip! For Jews, however, it was a toss-up. Between a sign of our arrival And a question of survival. So grab your Nooks, load your Kindles, Twitter as the old year dwindles. Find your way by GPS, Enjoy the high-speed wireless. Me? You'll find me in the stands, With a paper in my hands. I welcome what the future holds, But like to read a thing that folds. Andrew Silow-Carroll is editor-in-chief of the New Jersey Jewish News. Between col- umns you can read his writing at theJustASC blog. His article was reprinted by permission. HERITAGE encourages readers to send in their opin- ions for the Viewpoint column. They must be signed; however, names will be withheld upon request. Due to space limitations, we reserve the right to edit, if neces- sary. Opinions printed in Viewpoint do not necessarily reflect the opinions of the paper. Fix the problem, not the blame By Steve Levine' finalist (for an article on the Simon Wiesenthal Center), In preparing his Dec. 24 has been responsible for column ("For Federation, turning around four (now) Orlando was the unnatural great Jewish newspapers in site"), David Bornstein must Baltimore, Detroit, Atlanta have encountered a dearth and New York. JFNA, as we of good words to share with all know, has consistently us. Instead, David chose to raisedthebarindefiningand find fault with two of the establishing Jewish leader- treasures of Jewish life here ship and philanthropic stan- inAmerica: Gary Rosenblatt, dards, not to mention raising editor and publisher of the billionsofdollarstomeetthe New York Jewish Week, and needs of and advocating for the Jewish Federations of our People throughout the North America, for more world, particularly in Israel. than 100 years the umbrella This isn't the first time group of. every federation that David--a fine, decent in the country, including guy who's committed to the Orlando's. Jewish community--has Rosenblatt, winner of a chosen to play Lilliputian to prestigious Casey Medal a Gulliver or two, but for my (for meritorious journal- money, it's one of the most ism) and a Pulitzer Prize egregious. Here's why. e By Menachem Z. Rosensaft NEW YORK (JTA)--'TWas the day before Christmas and all through the house, not a creature was stirring, except, of course, Henry Kissinger's publicists and strategists who decided that the slowest news day of the year was the perfect time for him to apologize, sort of, for telling Richard Nixon in 1973 that "if they put Jews into gas chambers in the Soviet Union, it is not an American concern. Maybe a humanitar- ian concern." They may finally have real- ized-an apt epiphany given the season - that by not issuing such an admission of regret earlier, Kissinger had violated his own maxim that '!whatever must happen ultimately should hap- pen immediately." They probably also hoped that no one would pay attention over a holidayweekend and that what has become the mostembarrassing contretemps (that's French for public relations train wreck)in the former Sec- retary of State and Nobel Peace Prize laureate's illustrious career would fade into oblivion. On Nov. 10, in a Jewish Week editorial (later reprint- ed in the Heritage) about the General Assembly, New Or- leans and JFNA, Rosenblatt wrote and David took great umbrage with this opening paragraph: "For a long time the 79th General Assembly of The Jewish Federations of North America had been scheduled to take place this week in Orlando, Fla. But after a top consultant scouted that city last winter, and concluded that it would add little to the spirit of the annual gathering of the federation movement--and that Disney World might prove a major distraction--the decision was made to move the three- day GAhere to New Orleans." For perspective, here's the basic back-story: In 2006, after discussing it with members of the execu- tive committee, including its chair, Dick Appelbaum, the Orlando Federation's, CEO, Susan Bodner (this writer's wife) attempted to put Orlando into competi- tion with several other federations for the honor of hosting the 79th annual General Assembly in 2010. In the face of a widespread belief one that was shared by many in the community that the Jewish leadership in Orlando contributed to and was part of significant dys- functionality in Orlando, the selection committee bought into Susan's argument that a reversal was under way and that by awarding Orlando the GA, the turnaround could be accelerated. Later, after Susan's departure and the crashing/burning of the turnaround had taken place, as Gary Rosenblatt said, "the decision was made to move the three-day GA to New Orleans." David, a little childishly petulant ("Try this on for size, Rosenblatt"), called Gary Rosenblatt's statement above shameful and 'auda- cious. Worse, he made the outrageous and almost slan- derous assertion that the GA would hold "the biggest event olCthe year under our noses, without our aware- ness or participation." David then heaped insult and insip- idness on top of inaccuracy by claiming that the Orlando Federation was "abandoned Not so fast. emigration, whi :h is exactly Soviet Jewish emigration fig- Foralmostthreeweekssince whathappened.Jewishemigra- ures"droppedsharply, reaching the now infamous Oval Office tion never reached the level of a low of 876 in 1984." remarks first appeared in The " 40,000 again until the Soviet When the furor over the NewYorkTimes, Kissinger had Union collapsed." "gas chambers" remarks not refused to acknowledge that he Unfortunately for Kissing- only failed to subside but also had said anything inappropri- er, he seems to have gotten produced a Clyde Haberman ate. He at first tried to get out his facts wrong. As Richard columninTheNewYorkTimes from under his predicament Schifter, Assistant Secretary that considerably raised the with a disingenuous statement of State for Human Rights temperature, three prominent that"The quotations ascribed and Humanitarian Affairs in American Jews wrote a letter to me in the transcript of the the Reagan administration, to that newspaper chastising conversation with President pointed out in the Forward, Kissinger's critics. "Never," Nixon must be viewed in the "Kissinger's analysis is not they insisted, "have we heard context of the time." reflected in the actual emigra- him speakin a disparagingway Without expressing any tion data. He was close on the about the Jewish community." contritionwhatsoeverforwhat 1970 emigration figure, which The bleeding didn't stop. evensomeofhisJewishdefend- was l,027. His quiet diplomacy During a protest demon- ers deemed to be a"disturbing duringdetentedidincreasethat stration outside Kissinger's and even callous insensitivity numbertoanannualaverageof Manhattan office, New York toward the fate of Soviet Jews," 20,516 from 1971 to 1974. But City Public Advocate Bill de Kissinger'sstatementcontend- after Jackson-Vanik's passage Blasio denounced Kissinger's ed that he and Nixon had, in in 1974, the average for 1975 remarks as "monstrous," and fact, raised Jewish emigration to 1978 dropped only slightly the next wave of Anglo-Jewish from the former Soviet Union to 18,271 annually. Then, in weeklies across the country "from 700 per year to close to 1979,thenumberofemigrants brought new excoriations. 40,000 in !972." He and the jumped to 5i,320, much more JonathanRosenblumobserved president feared, thestatement than anything achieved under in j the Jewish news weekly of continued, thateffortstomake theNixon-Kissingerpolicy."Ac- Northern California, that "in "Jewish emigration a foreign cording to Schifter, it was only the cold contemplation of Jews policyissue"throughCongres- after the December 1979 Soviet going to the gas chambers, we sionallegislation--towit, what invasionofAfghanistanandthe hear clearly both the desire becamethe 1974Jackson-Vanik ensuing"serious deterioration Amendment--"would reduce of U.S.-Soviet relations" that Remarks on page 22A once again, relegated to the- dump heap of irrelevance by the near-sighted national organization." (By the way, I don't be- lieve that Gary Rosenblatt or JFNA should, in any. way, be treated as sacred cows. Not only are they both deserving of scrutiny and second-guessing on a regular basis, I know they expect and receive criticism from many corners, but usu- ally it's better thought-out, more highly reasoned and factually based than David's sophomoric and flaw-filled "Good Word.") Although I and others have long commented on how many community lead- ers (and outside consultants) have used the damning term "dysfunctional" to describe Orlando's Jewish community and federation, David continues to look for goblins everywhere except in his own and the commu: nity's closet, and to point fingers in every direction but inward. In that context, I'd like to remind him that in 2005-06, David co-chaired a strategic planning group of 40 people who, among many other similar findings, averred that: "The community dis- organization and discord caused by a decades-long organizational leadership vacuum must be resolved." "The widespread percep- tion regarding volunteerism at the Jewish Federation of Greater Orlando is that it falls short in two important aspects: First, beyond acore of 35-40 people who have consistently shown their willingness to commit the time and energy to do the 'heavy lifting' required at any Federation, there are too few people who can be counted on to step up when needed " Finally, although David and I are apparently on op- posite ends of the spectrum as regards the issue of com- munity " dysfunctionality," I believe we are in the same place on the importance and centrality of a thriving and successful Federation. In that spirit and to extend my earlier Swiftian meta- phor I offer this modest proposal: That David and I publicly debate the fol- lowing Resolved that' the Orlando Jewish Federation is and has been hobbled by its own and the community's dysfunctionality. David can argue against this proposi- tion and I'll argue for it; we can hold the debate at one of the synagogues, charge admission and have the audience vote with their wallets (e.g. $10 if they vote David's way, $5 if they vote mine), all proceeds going to JFGO, One of the rabbis (or maybe Gary Rosenblatt) can moderate the debate. The gauntlet is down Da- vid. What say you? HISTOI?/'$