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January 7, 2011     Heritage Florida Jewish News
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HERITAGE FLORIDA JEWISH NEWS, JANUARY 7, 2011 PAGE 11A van Ludin and Joseph Myerhoff at Life Care Center. Gloria Newberger gets ready to call out a letter and a number in a bingo game at Savannah Court. What do the Jews do on Christmas Day? They go to the movies and out for Chinese food. Another option to make it a full day is to spend the morning and early afternoon volunteer- ing. Evan Ludin, 16, spent Christmas morning the same way he spends every Saturday: He visited the seniors at Life Care Center in Altamonte Springs. Evan's mother, Nancy Lu- din, and grandmother, Gloria Newberger, spent the early afternoon entertaining the residents at Savannah Court in Maitland. They led a sing- along, passed out cookies and played many rounds of bingo. Christmas for the residents was made special thanks to the help of Jewish Pavilion volunteers. Bob and Gloria Newberger and Bob, a resident at Savan- nah Court, enjoy a couple of cookies. Netanyahu: Israel was ready to extend freeze JERUSALEM (JTA)--Israel was prepared to extend a West Bank construction freeze, but the United States withdrew the idea, Israeli Prime Minis- ter Benjamin Netanyahu said. "The United States asked us to consider extending the freeze by three months, and the truth is that we were prepared to do so," Netanyahu reportedly told the Knesset's Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee on Monday. "At the end of the day, the United States decided not to go in that direction, rightly so in my opinion, and moved on to outlining talks on closing gaps, so that the core issues can be discussed." The Obamaadministration pressed Israel to implement a three-month extension of a 10-month freeze on construc- tion on West Bank Jewish settlements in order to keep the Palestinians at the peace negotiating table. The freeze ended in late September, one month after the Palestinians agreed to restart negotiations. In early December the Obama administration an- nounced that it would stop pressing for the freeze after offering Israel several induce- ments, including 20 F-35 stealth fighter planes and se- curity guarantees, as a reward for continuing the freeze. "I told Obama that I am prepared to go with this to the Cabinet and that I will be able to enforce the move, butthen I received the surprising phone call from the Americans who said they no longer demand that Israel extends the freeze," Netanyahu reportedly said. Netanyahu said that U.S. of- ficials are scheduled to arrive in mid-January in an effort to restart peace negotiations. On Sunday, Netanyahu told his Cabinet that he was willing to hold continuous negotia- tions with Palestinian Author- ity President Mahmoud Abbas until an agreement is reached. He was responding to a state- ment made a day earlierbyAb- bas in which the president said a peace deal could be reached in two months if Netanyahu showed "goodwill." Presidents Conference's Hoenlein, Assad meet in Damascus WASHINGTON (JTA)-- Malcolm Hoenlein, the ex- ecutive vice president of the Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Or- Kobi Gideon/Flash90 Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said he received a phone call from the Americans who said they no longer are demanding that Israel extend the West Bank construction freeze. ganizations, met with Syrian President Bashar Assad in Damascus. Hoenlein said the meeting Monday was at the invitation of Syria and not, as had been reported originally by the Israeli media, at the behest of Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. "I went to Damascus on an important humanitarian issue to the Jewish people," Hoenlein told Haaretz. "Ne- tanyahu did not ask anything from me, and any attempt to link me to the diplomatic process with Syrian is ma- nipulation." He would not elaborate on his mission other than to say it involved the restoration of synagogues and was "for the good of the Jewish people." Hoenlein did not return JTA's request for comment. The Presidents Conference is the foreign policy umbrella for U.S. Jewish groups. Netanyahu has refused to renew talks with Syria where they left off under his predecessor, Ehud Olmert, who had indicated that a comprehensive peace would include Israel's return of the Golan Heights. Petition seeks boycott of firms shunning 'settlers' JERUSALEM (JTA)--Doz- ens of Israeli lawmakers have signed a petition calling for a boycott of Israeli companies that agreed to shun "settlers" in the building of a new Pal- estinian city. Sponsored by the Land of Israel Lobby, the petition was signed by 48 lawmakers after being circulated Mon- day. Right-wing lawmakers and half of the Kadima Party signed, The Jerusalem Post reported. The petition comes in re- sponse to a contract signed by 20 Israeli companies to help build Rawabi, in the West Bank near Ramallah, in which they agree not to use raw ma- terials, products or services originating in Israeli settle- ments in the West Bank, as well as in eastern Jerusalem or on the Golan Heights, which the PalestinianAuthority also defines as settlements. "Israeli companies have sold their Zionist souls and their national solidarity for a handful of dollars," the peti- tion reads, according to Israeli news reports. "We call on you, Cabinet ministers, regardless of factions, to refrain from any business dealings with those Israeli companies who signed or will sign on this shameful contract, which is cooperation with Palestinian economic terrorism." The Palestinian Authority in 2010 announced a boycott of products and services origi- nating in the settlements, including areas annexed by Israel, and said it will prohibit Palestinians from working in the settlements beginning later in 2011. Palestine National Orches- tra debuts JERUSALEM (JTA)--The Palestine National Orchestra performed for the first time in the Palestinian Authority and in Israel. The orchestra made its debut in Ramallah, and then performed in eastern Jerusa- lem over the weekend and in Haifa on Sunday night. "Today an orchestra, tomor- row a state," Suhail Khoury, director of the Edward Said National Conservatory of Music, wrote in the program, according to the French news agency AFP. Said, a Palestinian Ameri- can and an advocate for the Palestinian cause, was a pro- fessor at Columbia University. He died in 2003. "Today we are witnessing the birth of the Palestine National Orchestra at a time when the Palestinian struggle for independence is passing through one of its most criti- cal and difficult moments," Khoury also wrote. "We musi- cians truly believe that a state is not only about buildings and roads, but most importantly it is about its people, their values, their arts and their cumulative cultural identity." Each concert began with the Palestinian national an- them, AFP reported. Auschwitz sign stealer sentenced to prison NEW YORK (JTA)--A Swedish neo-Nazi leader who organized the theft of the "Arbeit Macht Frei" sign from Auschwitz was sentenced to nearly three years in prison. A Polish court on Dec. 30 sentenced Anders Hogstrom, who acted as a middleman between a neo-Nazi buyer and five Polish thieves, to 32 months in prison, according to news reports. The sentence was part of a plea bargain struck in late November. Hogstrom faced up to 10years in prison. He will serve his sentence in a Swedish prison. The iron sign, which mea- sures 16 feet across and means "Work makes you free," was stolen from the former Nazi concentration camp on Dec. 18, 2009 and recovered else- where in the country 72 hours later. It was found cut into three pieces. Hogstrom, who was arrest- ed in February in Stockholm and extradited to Poland in April, founded the National Socialist Front, a Swedish neo-Nazi movement, in 1994. Obama appoints ambassa- dor to Syria NEW YORK (JTA)--Presi- dent Obama used a recess appointment to name Robert Ford as the new U.S. ambas- sador to Syria. Ford will become the first U.S. ambassador to Syria since 2005. The Bush administra- tion recalled its ambassador from Syria in February 2005 in the wake of the assassina- tion of former Lebanese Prime Minister Rafik al-Harari; evidence pointed to Syrian involvement in the murder. In 2009, Obama announced that he would place a new ambassador in Syria, and in February he named Ford as his choice. Ford formerly served as the deputy chief of mission at the U.S. Embassy in Baghdad, and as ambassador to Algeria. Obama made the recess appointment, one of six an- nounced on Dec. 9, in order to bypass the need for Senate confirmation. The nomina- tion had been held up by opposition from Republican senators. U.S. Rep. Ileana Ros- Lehtinen (R-Fla.), slammed Obarna's decision to make the recess appointment. Ros-Lehtinen is the incom- ing chairman of the House Foreign Affairs Committee. "I am deeply disappointed that the President decided to make such a major concession to the Syrian regime. Using this Congressional recess to make an appointment that has far-reaching policy implica- tions despite Congressional objections and concerns is regrettable," read a statement issued by Ros-Lehtinen's of- rice. "Making underserved concessions to Syria tells the regime in Damascus that it can continue to pursue its dangerous agenda and not face any consequences from the U.S. That is the wrong message to be sending to a regime which continues to harm and threaten U.S. inter- ests and those of such critical allies as Israel." Obama on Dec. 29 also appointed Norman Eisen as ambassador to the Czech Republic. U.S. opposes anti-settle- ment resolution JERUSALEM (JTA)--The United States opposes efforts to pass a U.N. Security Coun- cil resolution against Jewish West Bank settlements, a State Department spokes- man said. At the same time, the administration does "not accept the legitimacy of con- tinued settlement activity," the spokesman, Mark Toner, said Dec. 29 during a meeting with reporters. The Palestinian Authority is currently working on a draft of a resolution that would ask the Security Council to condemn Jewish settlements in the West Bank, including eastern Jerusalem, as illegal and an obstacle to peace, ac- cording to reports. The resolu- tion could be presented to the Security Council in early 2011. "We don't accept the legiti- macy of continued settlement activity and, in fact, we believe continued expansion is corro- sive to peace efforts, as well as to Israel's future," Toner said. "We believe, fundamentally, that direct negotiations are the only path through which the parties will ultimately reach the framework agree- ment that is our goal, our mutual goal. "And final status issues can only be resolved through negotiations between the parties and not by recourse to the U.N. Security Council, so we've consistently opposed any attempt to take these kinds of issues to the Council, because we believe that these kinds of efforts don't move us any closer to our goal, which is of two states living side by side in peace and security," he added. Toner declined to say spe- cifically whether the United States would veto such a reso- lution. A resolution that does not call for sanctions could result in the United States not using its veto, according to reports. The Associated Press re- ported that it has obtained a draft copy of the resolu- tion. The AP reported that the resolution will ask the Security Council to reaffirm that "the Israeli settlements established in the Palestinian Territory occupied since 1967, including East Jerusalem, are illegal and constitute a major obstacle to the achievement of a just, lasting and comprehen- sive peace." The resolution also reiter- ates the Palestinian's demand that Israel, "the occupying power, immediately and com- pletely cease all settlement activities in the Occupied Palestinian Territory, includ- ing East Jerusalem, and that it fully respect all of its legal obligations in this regard." It also urges "the intensi- fication of international and regional diplomatic efforts to support and invigorate the peace process towards the achievement of a comprehen- sive, just and lasting peace in the Middle East," accoreling to the AP. Natalie Portman to wed NEW YORK (JTA)--Ac- tress Natalie Portman, who is expecting her first child, announced she will marry the baby's father. The Israeli-American ac- tress, 29, is expecting the baby with her fiancee, New York Ballet dancer and chore- ographer Benjamin Millepied, 33, according to an announce- ment her publicist made last week. The couple met last year while filming "The Black Swan," a ballet drama released in December in the United States and for which Portman received a Best Actress Oscar nomination. Millepied is not Jewish, according to Hollywood insid- ers. Portman was born Nata- Roundup on page 22A