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January 13, 2012     Heritage Florida Jewish News
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January 13, 2012

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HERITAGE FLORIDA JEWISH NEWS, JANUARY 13, 2012 PAGE 17A By Rabbi Rachel Esserman The (Vestal, N.Y.) Reporter David Ben-Gurion has attained almost mythical status as one of the found- ing fathers of Israel. The decisions he made still af- fect life in the state; these include accepting the 1947 United Nations' Partition Plan. agreeing to exempt Orthodox Jews from Israeli army life and deciding to seek an alliance with Germany. Discussions of these political decisions ~nd others can be found in the latest work in the Jewish Encounter Series, "Ben-Gurion: A Political Life" by Shimon Peres with David Landau (Schocken Books). Pefes, who was a protggg of Ben-Gurion. not only offers commentary on Ben-Gurion's choices, but "Ben-Gurion" was con- ceived as a dialogue between Pores. a former prime minis- ter of Israel who now serves as its president, and Landau, who was the editor-in-chief of Ha'aretz and a diplomatic correspondent for The Je- rusalem Post (both Israeli newspapers) before moving to The Economist. Landau turns their discussions into a cohesive narrative, except for several fascinating sec- tions when their dialogue is preserved. The book is not a comprehensive biography. Although it contains some details of Ben-Gurion's per- sonal life (for example, the fact that he was born David Gruen on Oct. 16, 1886, in Poland), its main focus is on his political life. Peres and Landau follow Ben-Gurion's career from years in Palestine to his of- ficial positions in the Israeli government, which included being prime minister twice (1948-53, 1955-63) and de- fense minister, in addition to being a member of the Knesset. The discussions focus not only on Ben-Gurion's actions, but Peres' thoughts on the reasons behind them. Peres emphasizes how Ben- Gurion's decisions were order to prevent the deans of yeshivot (religious schools) from acting on their threat to move their institutions overseas, which he saw as a threat to the state. That doesn't mean that Ben-Guriori had no interest in political theory. For him, though, there was no need to explore Europea,n ideologies since the Jews already had a viable source to claim: the Bible. He thought that Jew- based on political reality, ish values expressed in the how h~s desire to create prophets--those of social a Jewish state overrode any ideological-based con- siderations. For example, Ben-Gurion was willing to accept less land than he would have liked from the United Nations because he believed that would hasten the creation of the state. The same was true of his justice, compassion, social responsibility and solidar- ity-belonged not just in the religious sphere, but in the political world, including the state's relationship to the Arab population in its midst. The most interesting sec- tions of the book, though, are when Peres and Landau givesinsightsintohispoliti- his first political activities decisiontocompromisewith offerdifferentopinionsabout cal strategies, in Europe through his early the religious community in Ben-Gurion's motivation Tension From page 1A 30, Iran announced that it triggered intensified interna- could envelop the region in a wouldfirelong-rangemissiles ti0nal sanctions, conflagration, said the blowback Iran would during a weekend naval drill The Israelis at the meeting, In subsequent weeks, the suffer for shutting down the in the Gulf. led by Deputy Foreign Min- Obama administration took strait suggests that Sayyari was bluffing. "It would be extremely dif- ficult- for them to close the strait for more than a brief period of time," said Rade- maker, now a principal at the Podesta Group, a lobbying shop and think tank. "The U.S. Navy knows how to keep waterways open." The resultant war also would give the U.S. a pretext to attack suspected Iranian nuclear sites, he said. Anthony Cordesman, a former senior U.S. defense in- telligence analyst who is now at the Center for Strategic and International Studies, wrote that the real threat was not the shutting of the strait--itself an act of war--but of "much lower level attacks which could sharply raise the risk to Gulf shipping." Edwin Black, a historian who has written extensively on the Gulf and oil supplies, said the effects of any action in the vicinity of the strait would be far reaching. "Any conflict in the Persian Gulf would not be limited to the waterways," Black said. "All they have to do is lob a ,few medium-range missiles at Abqaiq," a processing plant in Saudi Arabia "or at Ras Tanura." a terminal on the coast, "or on the strait," where shipping lanes are just two miles wide. "and they can take out 70 percent of Saudi exports." Iran also is flexing its military muscles. On Dec. The aggressive posture from Iran comes in the wake of the Obamaadministratioffs increased determination to cut off Iran's economy as a means of shutting down its nuclear program--and its strenuous efforts to convince Israel's government that is serious about doing so. At the most recent U.S.- Israel strategic dialogue on Dec. 1, the U.S. side, led by Deputy Secretary of State Wil- liam Burns, laid out a detailed plan to accumulate interna- tional sanctions against,Iran over the next few months. The Americans said their efforts could force Iran to back down from progressing on its sus- pected nuclear weapons plan or even precipitate regime change. The plan involves two tracks: aggressive diplomacy engaging states that buy Iranian oil to stop doing so along with lining up other nations SaudiArabia, Libya and Iraq were named--to compensate for the estimated 2 million barrelg a day that Iran's isolationwould cost the world's oil markets. The plan targets, among others. Iran's Central Bank and its energy sector, and is aimed at squeezing the economy of Iran full force by March. when the Interna- tional Atomic Energy Agency board next meets and when a new report on Iran's nuclear weapons capacity is expected to be more damning than ever. Such reports in the past have ister Danny Ayaton, seemed persuaded that the plan had a strong chance of rolling back Iran's nuclear plans, accord- ing to officials who attended. They agreed with American caveats that sanctions must not be rushed. "The worst thing would be to impose sanctions too soon, and then to have the price of oil go up and Iran profits," one Israeli at the meeting was quoted as saying. That reaction would have been a political and diplomatic triumph for the Obama ad- ministration Israeli officials effectively were embracing a more moderate line than Con- gress, which in the following days passed a law calling for sanctions on the Central Bank to kick in almost immediately. steps to reassure Israel that the option of a U.S. military strike was still very much on the table. Panetta said in an interview on CBSthat for both Israel and the United States, an Iranian nuclear weapon was a "red line." Two weeks ago, plans for Gen. Martin Dempsey, the chairman of the U.S. Joint Chiefs of Staff, to visit Israel in January were leaked to Is- raeli media; his visit likely will coincide with largest-ever joint U.S.-Israel anti-missile exercise. The actions have yet to sway Netanyahu into fully cooper- ating, according to a report in Newsweek. Netanyahu will not agree to give the United States advance warning of a Strike, the report said, citing Except it didn't apparently three U.S. officials. "take" in Jerusalem--Prime Netanyahu'~ posture is a MinisterBenjaminNetanyahu function of Israel perceiving contin ed to press for a more Iran as an existential threat, immediate ratcheting-up of Rademaker said. pressure on Iran, in part by "We've seen this threat hinting that Israel might take from Israel inthe past," he action alone. . said. "Alot ofl eople discount Likening himself to Israel's it and say it's motivate the first prime minister, David U.S. and other countries to Ben-Gurion, who declared do more. Tha may be true statehoodagainstthecounsel in part, but Is rael does see it of some allies, Netanyahu as an existential threat, and said in a speech--just days should they coDclude that the after thestrategic dialogue-- only way to prevent that exis- that he would "make the tential threat rom coming to right decision at the right beingis by using force--well, moment." whatever allies we have examples from 1981 counseled, and 2007." Thatwas seen as a rebuke to Rademaker was referring LeonPanetta, theU.S.defense to Israeli pre-emptive strikes secretary, who.a week earlier on Iraqi and Syrian reactors, hadwarnedthatstriking Iran respectively. Converse From page 1A proving truth to the ad- age "if the shoe fits. wear it." A most unusual pair is adorned with fried eggs and breakfast meat. Others are solid colored and hand- embellished, either by Gold or her grandchildren. Jewish Academy student Michele Hajdenberg said, "The shoes are just like Mrs. Gold. they are all about fun and fam- ily. One pair even has plastic pockets that hold pictures of her grandkids.'" Gold's favorite pair of Converse is covered with a map of the New York subway system. "The design on the shoes feature two subway stops." Gold said. "One stop was the subway entrance closest to my apartment in Brooklyn where I grew up; the other stop was the entrance closest to my teaching college in Manhat- tan." They are a reminder of why she feels at home in Converse shoes. What does husband. Barry Gold. have to say about his wife's affinity for shoes? "Of all the vices my wife could have had, this one I can live with. Penny gives so much of herself to our family and the community. Not only do the shoes make her happy, they have delighted our grandchil- dren. and years and years of students.'" She has entertained a generation of students, not to mention her own four sons. with her color- ful and outlandish shoe collection. However. shoe~. are not the only things she collects. Every spring Gold collects scores of boxes of matzah with the help of Jewish Academy students. The matzah is donated to the Pearlman food pantry find distributed as needed for the Passbver holiday. Throughout the years, she has donated hundreds of boxes to the needy. Many have asked what will happen to this enormous shoe collection, now that it has been counted. It turns outi that Gold has a heart to match her name. Most pairs will be donated, and more than 700 lucky Converse fans will have the opportunity to step into her shoes. and behavior. These retain the question-and-answer format, with Landau chal- lenging Peres' to explain Ben-Gurion's controversial choices. The topics of their discussions include: Whether or not Ben- Gurion and Israel did enough to help the Jews in Europe during the Holocaust. Ben-Gurion's decision to accept the U.N. partition, rather than holding out for more land. His decision to align Israel with the West. rather than remain neutral or accept Russian communist influ- ence. His relationship to the Israeli rabbinate and his thoughts on Judaism as both a nationality and a religion. Peres and Landau do an ex- cellent job introducing read- ers to the person Peres calls a modern day Moses. Like Moses, he led his people as best he could and, yet, even for all his accomplishments. never considered himself sat- isfied. What shines through is Ben-Gurion's honesty and practicality, traits Peres considers so important that he believes without Ben- Gurion, there would~be no state of Israel. 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