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January 13, 2012
 

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PAGE 2A HERITAGE FLORIDA JEWISH NEWS, JANUARY 13, 2012 By Ron Kampeas WASHINGTON (JTA)--Is- raeli and Palestinian negotia- tors met last week in Amman for face-to-face talks about how to restart talks. But observers say the two sides showed up Jan. 3 after more than a year of torpor not so much to talk to one another as to send messages and dis- pense favors to other players. Yitzhak Molcho, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's envoy to the talks, met with his Palestin- ian counterpart, Saeb Erekat, at the Jordanian Foreign Ministry. One regional player whom both the Israelis and Palestin- ians hope to please is King Abdullah II of Jordan, who convened the talks together with the Quartet--the group- ing of the United States, the European Union, the United Nations and Russia that guides the Middle East peace process. The Israelis are seeking to bolster an ally who thus far has managed to ward off the Islamist tide of the Arab Spring. The Palestinian Au- thority's Fatah leadership is nodding to a fellow moderate Arab regime. "Both sides owe favors to King Abdullah," said Avraham Sela, a professor of international relations at the Hebrew University of Jeru- salem. "It's not nice to turn him down, especially when both sides are interested in maintaining warm relations with the king." For his part, Abdullah is seeking to show his country's Palestinian majority that he can still influence the two parties. He also is seeking to Nader Adoud/World Economic Fo- rum/Creative Commons Jordan's King Abdullah II, shown speaking Oct. 22, 2011 at the Dead Sea to World Economic Forum, joined with the Quartet last week in reconvening Israeli- Palestinian negotiations. stake out a central role in the emerging new Middle East, particularly after the fall of his close ally, Hosni Mubarak, the deposed Egyptian dictator. "Jordan lacks any anchor in the Middle East right now, and it is searching for an anchor," said Assaf David, a Jordan expert at the Hebrew University's Truman Institute for the Advancement of Peace. "If Jordan is involved in it and can calm the situation between Israel and the Palestinians, it is very good for Jordan." PalestinianAuthority Pres- ident Mahmoud Abbas also needs to counter the Israeli- U.S. attempt to depict him as recalcitrant for refusing since October 2010 to allow peace talks unless Israel freezes settlement building. The Quartet has set a Jan. 26 deadline for the resump- tion of direct negotiations. Abbas "has to satisfy the Quartet by dropping his pre- conditions," saidYossiAlpher, an Israeli analyst and the co- editor of bitterlemons.net, an online forum for Palestinian and Israeli thinkers. Netanyahu, for his part, has insisted repeatedly that talks should be held without preconditions--none was set for the Amman meeting. The purported aim of the Jan. 3 talks was to set the stage for more substantive negotiations, although ex- perts question the likelihood of such an outcome. "Neither Abu Mazen nor Netanyahu is interested," said Alpher, using Abbas' nora de guerre. "Abu Mazen because he understands that if he turned down" former Israeli Prime Minister Ehud "Olmert's far-reaching offer at the end of 2008, he will never hear anything close to that from Netanyahu, and Netan- yahu because he presides over a coalition not interested in sustaining a peace process." Since his election in 2009, Netanyahu has navigated be- tweefi Obama administration demands that he make efforts to restart peace talks with the demands of a right-leaning coalition that is resistant to territorial concessions. The prime minister's moves toward the peace table have been matched traditionally with nods to hard-liners, and Jan. 3 seemed no different. Just hours before the meet- ing, Netanyahu's government announced tenders for the construction of 300 new units in eastern Jerusalem, includ- ing 247 units in Har Homa, a particularly contentious new neighborhood not far from Bethlehem. State Department Representatives of the Middle East Quartet~the United States, Russia, the European Union and Russia--meet in New York, Sept. 23, 2011. The Quartet joined with Jordan in reconvening Israeli-Palestinian talks last week in Amman. Left to right, U.N. Quartet Envoy Tony Blair, U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton, U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki- moon, Russian Foreign Minister Seryei Lavrov and the European Union's Catherine Ashton. Sela said that Israel's ap- he negotiates a unity deal a salve to the blow it took pearance at the peace talks with Hamas that could lead when Hamas, its Islamist was for the benefit of the to elections as soon as May. rival in the Gaza Strip, won international community, His need for street credibility the release late last year particularlytheUnitedStates, has been sharpened by the of more than a thousand whereNetanyahuhastriedto Arab Spring turmoil, prisoners in exchange for cultivate an image of himself "Abu Mazen needs some- Gilad Shalit, the captive as willing to make sacrifices thing in hand, something he Israeli soldier. for peace, can show," Sela said. "He got Netanyahu, however, re- The Netanyahu govern- very little from the bid to the buffedAbbas' request, seeing ment sees "the problem as U.N." for statehood recogni- itasaprecondition, according not with the Palestinians" tion in September. to Israeli media reports. but rather "with all those In the days leading up to Don't expect any move- who pressure Israel to make the Amman meeting, the ment on peace talks until compromise," he said. "They Palestinians reportedly have after the U.S.election, Alpher [the Israelis] see theproblem dropped their demand for a said. aswiththeEuropeansandthe settlement freeze, instead "The Obama administra- Americans." seeking the release of 100 tion in the throes of an Abbas also may see the prisoners before restarting election year is not going to Amman meeting as a means talks. A prisoner release to take any risks in the Israeli- to show Palestinians that he the Fatah-dominated Pales- Palestinian peace process," can deliver an alternative as tinian Authority would be he said. By Helen Chernikoff at the Upper West Side's So- toofferafunkyinterpretation If they didn't, their gospel of from edgy provocateur mode to launch in San Francisco. New York Jewish Week ciety for the Advancement of of the weekly portion featur- empowering PlonyAlmony-- to something that is--I don't They are exploring expansion Judaism, a Reconstructionist ing, say Noah as a gloomy Hebrew for Joe Schmo--to want to say mainstream,in Atlanta and Los Angeles, Nachshon ben Aminadav, synagogue, took a cue from drunk or Bezalel as a flam- read and interpret the Bible because that sounds fuddy- andalsoofferRaisingtheBar, the first Israelite to plunge his own name. boyant interior designer. The would never go viral, duddy--but more focusedaimed at reinvigorating the into the Red Sea ahead of the The group of 19 biblical no- troupe, whose 35 members "Themostimportantthing on partnership building with b'nai mitzvah rite of passage, Egyptians, had spiky purple tables in the social hall of the still perform over 50 times we've learnedis thatwe need established institutions, in New York and Los Ange- and red hair. Isaac our fore- Town andVillage Synagogue, a year, was the invention in to put this in the hands of They're hungry for content les. The program has been father, in a black T-shirt and a Conservative congregation 1999 of Israeli ex-patAmichai educators, or it's a boutique and Storahtelling can meet involved in 50 b'nai mitzvah jeans, clung to the wall and in the East Village, had gath- Lau-Lavie, whotoldNewYork experience," said the group's that need," said Caryn Aviv, ceremonies so far. trembled.AndGideonroamed ered there to learn a new, to magazine that he wanted to director, Isaac Shalev.a Jewish studies professor Agents of change often about, lookingfortruebeliev- them, method of reading and make the Torah service less This shift in strategy de- in Denver who spurred Sto- hail from outside estab- ersamongthecrowdofpeople teachingBiblefromStorahtel- "dauntingly boring." mands a bit of stretching, rahtelling's first big step in lished institutions, said Jack clutching paper plates of ling, the theater troupe that Butbylate2007,Lau-Laviethough, onthepartofboththe this direction by inviting its Wertheimer, a professor of melon and hard-boiled eggs. "hijacks the Torah service," in (who is the nephew of Israel's organization and the congre- members to train Colorado American Jewish history at "It was certainly a chal- the words of Naomi Less, its former Ashkenazi chief rabbi gations.Storahtelling'sactors rabbis and teachers, 20 so far. the Conservative movement's lenge, especially at that hour education director. Yisrael Meir Lau) and the rest have to learn how to teach; Now they are not only of- flagship Jewish Theological of the morning and without The original Storahtell- of the troupe concluded that teachers have to learn how to fering that same training in Seminary. But revitalization sufficientcaffeine,"saidGidon ers were wandering players, they had to transmit the act. And congregants used to New York to folks like Gidon of the synagogue service is Isaacs, who became a biblical dropping in on synagogues method to the rabbis and the traditional Torah service Isaacs, but StorahSteps, an a tall--and old--order. For character at a recent training onShabbatandusingmusical teacherswhostaybehindafter have togetcomfortablewith early childhood education decades, congregants have session for rabbis and teach- instruments, audience inter- the actors pack their bags for Noah the shikker, project, is already in opera- ers.Isaacs, educationdirector action, costumes and English the next shul on the circuit. "Storahtelling is moving tion in New York and is soon Bima on page 18A By Arieh O'Sullivan Facebook page, was only vis- removed the ads after just a talkingaboutus, butwedon't from associating a business generally hospitable and re- The Media Line ible for a short time before he few hours and had fired his want people to take offense at with a Nazi concentration spectfuland manystill feel removed it. marketing team. Parkinson, it," Parkinson said. camp, where over three mil- this move was ill thought- An attempt by a gym in But itwas enough to draw a who did not return calls from The campaign was born- lion people were believed to through and crass at best, Dubai to use the image of slew of remarks, some full of The Media Line, was quoted barded by users on Facebook have been murdered or died evenwhen they themselves theAuschwitzconcentration disgust at the ad's bad taste, as saying in The National andother social media sites, during the 1940s. may not find it as directly camp to goad people into but quite a few supporting daily that he used an image One man named Tim corn-"Touseimagesofanygeno- offensive as others," said losing weight has drawn the the gym and dismissing the of Auschwitz to advertise mentedthat offended people cide to advertise a product is, McNabb, a Middle Eastern attention sought after by the criticism, weight-loss and exercise should be offered a free ses- at best, almost unbelievably publicity agency specializ- founder. "In light of a recent poster classes because "it's like a sion at the gym "to see what inept," Alexander McNabb, ing in on-line social media. PhilParkinson, thefound- that has caused offense-- calorie concentrationcamp." they're made of." And sug- director of Spot On Public "Few Europeans would fail er and owner of The Circuit Very sorry for this--Pro- However, the furor he gested itwas all in good hu- Relations in Dubai, told The to find the use of images Factory in Dubai, quickly voking campaign was notcaused seems to have also mor."It's a PR trick, people. Media Line. "The gym has of somewhere as horrific apologized ior an ad that offended (sic) toupsetpeople, been his aim .... The only people that are used other'shock' tactics to as Auschwitz Birkenau to showed the iconic picture of It's been removed and de- "The idea of the campaign stupid are the ones that fall promote itself, which some promote weight loss deeply the entrance of Nazi death leted," Phil Parkinsonwrote isn't to upset anybody. The for this obvious stunt," said peoplemayfindattractivebut offensive. You can only campwithacaptionthatread on his Facebook site. way branding works is... you another comment, most will find at least mildly wonder at someone, some- "Kissyourcaloriesgoodbye." Parkinson, a 32-year-old want people talking about Still, it is difficult to see offensive." where thinking it would be He said the ad, on the gym's British national, said he had yourbusiness.Wewantthemhow any benefit could come "People in the Gulf areclever."