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January 16, 2004

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PAGE 4 HERITAGE FLORIDA JEWISH NEWS JANUARY 1i David Bornstein The face of truth I am haunted by faces. The face of a Vietnam- ese man, gun to his head, crying out for mercy, out of fear or pain or the pending end of life. The face of a starving child in the Sudan, hollow cheeks, flies clinging to his lips, fingers at his mouth. The face of an Israeli grand- mother, watching the burial of her child, a victim of a homicide bombing. And surpris- ingly, the face of Saddam Hussein, bearded, haggard, sunken eyes, shortly after his capture by United States troops. There is, of course, something distinctly dif- ferent in my reactions. While I feel pity for them all, I also feel compassion for all but Hussein. Here is a man who, by all accounts, ruled Iraq with a vicious fist. As the BBC states in an historic review of his regime,"Saddam Hussein, President of Iraq for the past two decades, has the dubious distinction of being the world's best known and most hated Arab leader." During his rule Iraq went bankrupt, its economy and infrastructure shattered by years of economic sanctions imposed by the United Nations followiog the invasion of Kuwait. After succeeding Iraqi President Ahmed Hassan Bakr, he achieved his ambition of becoming head of state in 1979, and began by putting to death dozens of his rivals, a trend that continued throughout the duration of his presidency. Years ago a European interviewer nervously quoted reports that the Baghdad authorities might, on occasion, have tortured and perhaps By Carl Alpert English classes in the army even killed opponents of the regime. Saddam Hussein reacted with shock by the naivete of the question. "Of course," he replied. "What do you expect if they oppose the regime?" In attempts to suppress the Kurds, it has been documented that he systematically used chemi- cal weapons. And in putting down a rebellion of Shi'ia in the south he has razed towns and drained marshland. Why, then, do I feel pity at all for the tyrant, murderer, despot, whose bloody rule needed to end? Not because I disagree with his removal (though I am angered by the cost in lives, the destruction of Iraqi property, and the loss of US integrity). Because he was set up to fall by the United States. The truth that we all must face is the follow- ing: 1) Until Iraq's invasion of Kuwait, which threatened to turn Iraq into a self-standing oil cartel, the United States propped up Iraq for several reasons, including access to oil, its buffer to an extremist Muslim Iran and our unwillingness to completely relinquish our minimal influence to the Soviet Union. 2) Though rumors now abound that billions of Iraqi dollars, as well as Iraq's well-docu- mented and otherwise invisible weapons of mass destruction, made their way to Syria shortly before and during the recent war, we have yet to find those same weapons that cre- ated within us the frenzy of war. 3) Connections between Iraq and AI-Qaeda are not nearly as strong as the connections between terrorists and numerous other coun- tries, including but not limited to Saudi Arabia, Libya, Syria, North Korea, Algeria, and Af- ghanistan. The reason I pity the disheveled Hussein is because he was reduced to a pawn and a ploy in the politics of post-9/11 America. His removal was expedient. It waseasier than an attack on just about any other nation. He had Iraq to such a state of ill repair sion hastened its fall like a stiff wind. It furthered George W.'s ambitions and bolstered his campaign second term with limited internal I have no qualms about getting rid dictator who killed thousands. I d( we must look in a moral about ourselves as a nation, decide what we see, and ask whether or not ready to take on the real faces of abound in the world. I am haunted b' even more, I am haunted by our souls, which need cleansing he left his safe house hole. NOTE: In my column ~"10 2004" I asked "Can we trust the local community?" Dan Coultoff, Community Relations Committee stated: "Your column identifies the group that betrayed the Federation's regarding the Dennis Ross event. In fact, i the Arab American Communit5 that was our co- By contrast, the Florida, which represents the Muslim community and is headed byl Musri, backed the Federation in the Islamic Heritag~ Kissimmee." Dan, Muslim communit) nor was it at fault. Thanks for brin oversight and poor choice of words attention. The opinions expressed in this the writer's, and not those of the any word until next week. mail gour comments, critiques, to HAIFh--lsrael's armed forces (Zahal) haveEvening hours are spent on homework cen- an international reputation for their skill, tered on follow-up of the days's assignments. Through the years they have executed daring No uniforms; even dress is civilian, to reduce exploits on land, air and sea, which have re- the military influence and to help provide a suited in remarkable achievements. Many, for civilian mood. obvious reasons, have never been publicized. One of the participants told the Bamachaneh Usually, it is only when something goes wrong correspondent, Uri Ettinger, that he is sub- that stories appear in the press. The otherwise jected to English all day long. "I breathe, eat remarkable record is no accident. It is the andevendreaminEnglish,"hesaid.Theinflu- result of diligent and intensive training on ence is so great that even out of class he finds many levels, himself (as per instructions) speaking only Not long ago the army's house organ, English to all with whom hecomesin contact. Bamachaneh, provided a glimpse into one of While grammar is obviously part of the pro- those training programs in an unusual field, gram, the emphasis is on fluent English con- On frequent occasions army officers are called versation. It is important to understand En- upon to engage in operations on an interna- glish and to read English, but most important tional level. They serve as hosts to visiting is to be able to speak English freely. delegations from other countries. Alongside The subject matter is not necessarily mili- Knesset members they engage in negotiations tary. Recent topics for conversation, for ex- with friendly powers. They play a vital role in ample, included nutrition, sex in advertising important commercial transactions involving and conformism. The goal is to give the partici- the sale of armaments. Some are interviewed pants complete self-confidence and fluency in on television. Many of the officers serve as any subject. Obviously, those selected to take military attaches at Israel's diplomatic posts partinthecoursemusthavesomebasicknowl= abroad. In all of these functions a sound knowl- edge of the language to begin with. edge of English is not only desirable; it is a basic Humor plays a role, and even helps intensify necessity, command of the tongue. While English is a required subject in the For example, the buffet dining room dis- public school system, the pupils who emerge plays a sign over the food offerings which are not always comfortable in that subject, in reads: "Please take yourself to anything you part because classes are too large, and because like,'as reminder of the way some of them used of the quality of some of the teachers. Many of totalkwhentheybeganthecourse, andlearned the pupils avow that they learn more English to say, simply, "Help yourself." from the movies, from television and from the Japanese difficulties with English are an- lnternet, other source of humor - and learning. A classic And so, in 1978 Zahai set up an English Japanese direction to the rest rooms,"For rest Language Institute. In this school, perhaps rooms go back to your behind," drew a howl of unusual for an army, officers from the rank of laughter. None would admit that at the begin- major and up are being subjected to an inten- nine of the course some of them could have sive, even pressure cooker program, to provide been guilty of similar malapropisms. them with a fluent command of the English The example set by Zahai could well be language. This is no Ulpan, such as is fre- followed by other agencies in Israel, not least quented by new immigrants. The atmosphere by the Knesset. Some Knesset members, who is one of total immersion. For a period of six find themselves overseas on official missions, weeks, attendance is compulsory daily from sometimes make a disgraceful spectacle of eight in the morning to four in the afternoon, themselves with their sub-standard English. THE VIEWS EXPRESSED ON THIS PAGE ARE NOT NECESSARILY THE VIEWS OF HERITAGE MANAGEMENT. II O O O ISSN 0199-0721 II I I I CENTRAL FLORIDA'S INDEPENDENT JEWISH VOICE O O Winner of 36 Press Azmrds Editor/Publhhet Jeffrey Gaeser F.~tor Emultus Assoc/a~ F.~tor C, ene Siam Kim Fischer HERITAG FtoridaJewishNews (ISN 0199-0721 ) is published. weekly for $34.95 per year to Florida ad~ dresses ($41.95 for the rest of the U.S.) by HERITAGE Central Florida Jewish News, inc 207 O'Brien Road, Suite 101, Fern Park, FL32730. Periodicals postage paid at Fern Park and additional mailing o$ces. POSTMASTER: Send address changes and other correspondence to: HERITAGE, P.O. Box 300742, Fern Park, FL 32730. Society FAlter Bookkeeping Glori~ otnl~ Elaine Schooping Account Executlv. Barbara do Carmo Marci Gaeser Contributing Columnists Jim Shipley Carl Alpert Michael Gamson MAILING ADDRESS PHONE NUMBER Tim Boxer David Bornstein Gail Simons P.O. Box 300742 (407} 834-8787 Fern Park, FL 32730 FAX (407l 831-0507 Production Department email: Heritagefl@aoLcom David Lehman Teri Marks Allison Berkowi~ By Jonathan S. Tobin In the 1948 movie adapted from Howard Lindsay and Russell Crouse's Pulitzer Prize- winning play "State of the Union," a political consultant played by Adolfe Menjou set a char- acter played by Katherine Hepburn straight about American politics. When asked what was the difference be- tween the Democrats and his own Republi- cans, Menjou succinctly summed up the situ- ation: "They're in, and we're out." A lot about American politics has changed since then, but that little bit of wisdom remains intact. There's no better indication of this than the furor over, a highly publicized Web sitUactivist group dedicated to opposing the war in Iraq and vilifying the current occu- pant of the White House. No scandal that can be remotely tied to George W. Bush and no bit of news that can be construed as proof that the war on terror is being lost--- or shouldn't be fought at all --- are omitted from the site. But the name of the site reminds us that one's attitude toward the need to keep the fires of rabid partisan debate well-stoked depends on who's in office. MoveOn was, after all, founded in 1998. Its purpose was toencourage Americans to avoid thinking too much about the scandals associated with Bush's predeces- sor. MoveOn was eager for us to forget about Bill Clinton's flaws and to "move on" to other topics. But if they are hypocrites, so, too, are Repub- licans, who talk about the bad taste of the anti- Bush crowd, but were willing to believe any- thing about Clinton, no matter how outland- ish. It isn't beanbag One thing Clinton and Bush have in com- mon is an ability to drive their opponents out of their minds. As many liberals have admitted, hate is not too strong a word to describe their antipathy to Bush -- and it shows. The same was true for the way conservatives felt about Clinton. Democracy isn't beanbag. Lambasting in- cumbents is what people in free countries are entitled to do. Tough criticisms, hard ques- tions and heavy doses of satire and sarcasm are entirely appropriate in politics. But as was the case during the height of the right's Clintonmania, the willingness of some partisans to make unbelievably outrageous accusations about Bush is troubling. The latest instance involves the posting on the MoveOn site of ads that compared the president to Adolph Hitler. The two offensive pieces were entries in a contest the group was holding to determine which Bush-bashing diatribe was the ter they came in for heavy criticism from groups as the Anti-Defamation group was at pains to actually endorsed the ads and ( them. In the 1960s, the pop culture of dumbed down the term "fascist" from a | that had a specific meaning fact to one that could describe just thing objectionable. Now, for some on left, anyone to the right of say, is considered fair game Nazis. Rather than being considered the pale, Hitler analogies are ered clever ripostes, especially among who cannot control their distaste for So don't be deceived by the disclaimerst MoveOn's defenders. In the group's "Bush is a Nazi" routine isn't aberrant, mainstream thinking. It was not long a major funder of the site, billionaire Soros, told the Washington Post that reminded him of the Nazis. And he i Part and parcel of this sort of nonsense i~ constant drumbeat in MoveOn circles the neoconservative conspiracy to take the country and the world. AS the has become synonymous with Jew, it's not to get a sinking feeling of morass of prejudice as you navigate with help from MoveOn links. Indeed, all one has to do is to go group's Middle East resource links (www.moveon.or discoverj and Israel is. There, among ated with the mainstream Israeli ment, you can find links to anti-Zionist sites where violence against I lis and calls for the destruction of commonplace. last summer, the National Jewish rial posted on the site, calling it ally inaccurate and [that it] gives those who would say Israel." It's still there. Who's courting the nuts? To be fair, the far-right has sort of rhetorical overkill that is now f on MoveOn itself in the of communism. And there are those lunatic right who still think th, is being run by what they pation government." But th, that the people who know what the ZOG means aren't, thank heaven by Bush. Unfortunately, some of those See "Tobin" on page 15