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January 16, 2009     Heritage Florida Jewish News
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January 16, 2009

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PAGE 18A ! Eola From page 1A signs proclaiming, "Hamas is hate" and "Christ protects Israel."Almost all of these pro- testerswere non-Jewish, most of them evangelical Christian supporters of Zionism and the Jewish state. "The good Jews are not here." Samir Amorr. a self- employed Orlando resident supporting the Palestinian demonstration told the Heri- tage. "There are plenty of Jews in Orlando," he said, "but only the Zionists are protesting." Amorr and Nur Mustafa. a Clermont-area realtor, said that they are both of Pales- tinian background, and are U.S. citizens. They came out to "'support our Palestinian brothers and sisters" who are suffering from the war. Amorr said that despite news reports of Israel allow- ing humanitarian aid into Gaza and warning residents to flee the war zone. he did not believe the Israelis were going the extra mile to help Palestinian civilians. "It's genocide." he said of Israel's actions. Both he and Mustafa said they have nothing against Jews, that their only problem is with "Zionists." They, like other Palestinian demon- strators who spoke to the Heritage, said they mainly get their news from AI-Jazeera, the pan-Arabic news station, and from friends and relatives "back home." Amorr compared Israel's war in Gaza to an incident in Oakland, Calif. earlier this year, in which a transit policeman allegedly shot a suspect who had already been restrained and posed no danger. Asked if Israel had a right to exist. Mustafa said. "Israel has no right to exist as a ter- rorist nation, an illegal state put there by force." He believes a one-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict Gaza From page 1A Conversely, it might con- centrate moderateArab minds and actually accelerate peace- making. Israeli President Shimon Peres suggested something of the kind when he said most moderate Arab leaders actu- ally were hoping for an Israeli victory over Hamas. "They don't want to see 35 million Iranians ruling over 350 million Arabs." he said. Much will depend on how the Egyptian government weathers the storm of abuse it has been facing in the region and at home. Egypt's dilemma is that while it feels seriously threat- ened by Hamas-style radical- ism. given the proximity of Gaza and-the power of its own Muslim Brotherhood opposi- tion, it does not want to be seen as serving Israeli inter- ests rather than its own. "For [President Hosni] would allow Muslims, Jews and Christians to live together in peace. As for the Israeli govern- ment's extensive and docu- mented efforts to warn civil- ians to flee to safe areas, that did not satisfy him. "Where do they go? They only have limited space. Where do they go? Into the sea?" A young woman who iden- tified herself as an organizer of the demonstration. Rasha Mubarak of Orlando. said her group was protesting because they "want to let Gaza live and save the Palestinians.'" "Hamas has nothing to do with it," she told the Heritage when asked if the demonstra- tors supported the organiza- tion identified by the U.S. as a terror group. She said her civilian casualties. 'The U.N. has been quite silent over the months and years the rockets were falling on Israel," she said. She also finds it ironic that. while the protesters held signs advocating ending U.S. aid to Israel. "we also send our tax dollars to the Palestinians. Yasser Arafat's widow is living very comfortably in Paris on that money." Of the protesters' viewpoint she said, "Nothing will satisfy them until all Jews are in the sea." Barbara LaPlond, a retired truck driver, identified herself as "Messianic Jewish," which she explained meant that she was born a gentile, strongly identified with Israel and the Jewish people and believed in "Yeshua" (a common Mes- sianic term for Jesus)as her HERITAGE FLORIDA JEWISH NEWS, JANUARY 16, 2009 Jewish Federation of Greater Orlando vice president Bob Petree took i the streets as part of a small counter-protest opposite the pro-Palestini Lyn Payne !s love of Israel to group. sole concern was the welfare of the Palestinian people, and claimed that Israel had instructed civilians to take refuge in a school,'then de- liberately bombed that same school. When asked to identify the school, she could not give its name. She appeared to be- come upsetwhen this reporter challenged her assertion that Israel had not allowed humanitarian aid into Gaza, and said that a journalist's job was simply to let her speak and to write down what she said. "I don't go by CNN." she said, but by "unbiased media." "The initial fault," Mubaral maintained throughout the interview, "is the IsraelisY On the other side of both d the street and the perception of the war was Karen Green, a Jewish registered nurse who lives in Orlando and whose children attended the Hebrew Day School. She said she came simply because she felt it was important to show support for Israel. She lamented the Palestinian protesters' "mis- directed energy," since she felt that the Hamas leaders were entirely to blame for the Palestinians' suffering. "Hamas purposely targets [Is- raeli] children in schools," she said, while Israel tries to avoid savior. She and her husband Gary believe that the Bible mandates that all the land God promised toAbraham now be- longs to the Jewish people and should not be relinquished. While she held an Israeli flag banner and a sign reading, "End the occupatio n of Israel by the Arabs," her husband quoted a scripture popular with Christian Zionists: "The whole world will be blessed who blesses Israel." Both pro-Israel and pro- Palestinian demonstrators told the Heritage that larg e numbers of the pro-Palestin- ian protesters had been bused to Orlando from cities such as Miami, Jacksonville and Tampa in a well-organized grassroots operation. But pro-Israel groups have also been on the move. Bob Kunst came up from south Floridawith his organi- zation Shalom International, which he said is traveling all over Florida and to New York and Washington, D.C. to advocate Israel's cause and engage in counter-protests. Kunst is Jewish. and said that SI is largely a Jewish group, with heavy Christian support and support from Hindu, Afri. can-American, gay and other communities as well. "This is a fifth column in our backyard." said Kunst of the pro-Palestinian demonstra- tors, since he believes that their protests support Hamas. He's also concerned that Jewish federations across Florida have done littleto counter-rally. "We forced their hand" in south Florida, he said of his group's persuading the federations to take a stronger role. He how plans an Inauguration Day rally to tell incoming President Barack Obama, "Don't betray Israel and don't get in bed with the terrorists." Other organizers, Alan Kornman of Orlando of the United American Commit- tee and Ed Warmoth of the Maccabbean Resistance and Builders of Zion groups, told the Heritage about another pro-Palestinian rally ear- lier last week. They said they were present when about I50 demonstrators gathered near downtown's St. George Greek Orthodox Church called out threats such as "dirty Jews" and "we'll f--- you up" to pro- Israel advocates. Kornman, who identified himself as Jewish, said his organization tries to educate the public about the dangers of radical Islam to the U.S. and the world. Warmoth, a Christian who supports Jew- ish settlement of the entire Biblical land of Israel, said, "If.anybody ever doubted that there is a Hamas presence in Orlando, doubt no more." Bob Petree, Jewish Federa- tion of Greater Orlando vice chairman and stalwart com- munity activist, was the only Federation representative on. hand. The non-Jewish Petree was honored in 2007 with the Heritage Human Service Award for his unwavering commitment and dedication to the cause of Judaism, the Jewish people, and the state of Israel. "The Jewish commu- nity and the Jewish Federation didn't support this," he told the Heritage with obvious frustration. "They should have sent somebody here besides their only goy." By about 3:30, most of the pro-Israel demonstra- tors had left. but hundreds from the pro-Palestinian group still hung around in the shade of the trees on the other side. Teenage girls with black-and-white checkered keffiyahs around their necks gathered together to chat and laugh. Young children chased one another or dozed off on parents' shoulders. Older women in headscarves Mubarak and his govern- ment. what is happening in Gaza constitutes a significant threat to Egypt's national se- curity," said Yoram Meital. an Egypt expert at Ben-Gurion University's Chaim Herzog Center for Middle East Studies and Diplomacy. "The war is being waged on their border, and they fear it could spill over. Worse, it is inflaming segments of Egyp- tian public opinion, which puts tremendous pressure on the regime. And the upshot is that they see themselves pay- ing a price for Israel's assault on Gaza." While it has taken much flak from Iran and its fun- damentalist backers. Egypt has not wavered in its public criticism of Hamas. which it blames for the current fight-" ing and the schism between Hamas and the Fatah-led Palestinian Authority. Still. Meital said, the Egyptian government prefers to talk to Hamas so as not to isolate the Islamist group altogether and push it into sole dependence on Iran. Egypt's geographic location and relations witl-Cboth Israel and Hamas make it the almost indispensable mediator in the current situation. From an Israeli point of view. the key to an end to the fighting in Gaza lies in a solution to the problem of weapons' smuggling through hundreds of tun- nels interspersed along the 9-mile Philadelphia corri- dor.along the Egypt-Gaza border. Many have been bombed with bunker-busters from the air or collapsed by ground forces, but they could be rebuilt easily for future arms trafficking unless there is a new border regime that ren- ders the tunneling ineffective. Israel and Hamas have been sending emissaries to Cairo in an effort to work out new arrangementson the ground to end the fighting. It is clear that without Egypt, a deal to end the arms smuggling will be impos- sible. The main beneficiary of the region-wide protests against the war has been Egypt's bit- ter foe. Iran. "For the ayatollahs, it is a gift from heaven." said Me- nashe Amir, the chief editor of the Israeli Foreign Ministry's Persian-language Web site. "It's exactly what they have been trying to do in the region for the past 30 years. The more struggle, tension, bloodshed. war thereis, the more it serves their interest in inflaming passions in the region, mo- bilizing people to take action against Israel and demonizing the Jewish state." Amir argues that Iran's sup- port for Hamas is also directed against Egypt. "It's part of Iran's ideology, which asserts that the peoples of the Middle East want to destroy Israel but are held back by moderate regimes rotten to the core." he said. Iran insists those regimes serve the U.S.-led West and must be toppled. Despite its rhetoric. Iran has stopped short of opening a second front against Israel. When Katyusha rockets fired from Lebanon hit an old,age home in northern Israel during the second week of the Gaza war. Hezbollah was quick to deny responsibility. Amir says Hezbollah has its own reasons for staying outof the fray: the June 7 elections in Lebanon and the experience of its 2006 war with Israel. "Hezbollah knows that dragging Lebanon into an- other war with Israel would hurt its chances of gaining power in Lebanon through the ballot box," Amir said. More important. Iran also has good reason to hold back. gathered began to the media police app preparing close of th A youn throughal able to ene a message she called your way you don't call it ter martyrdor The gro in Arabic, with meg Akbarl" ('q A little g ahomemaq her head. I1 read: "Ter: that corot structivea flagofIsra, ink fringir drawn nex Toward pro-Palest tors had sl A young n through there wen take them lando. Acr lone pro-I, onstrators their blue "The Ira risk losing to deter I heir families and alk away. Most of 3ad gone, and the red more relaxed. for the planned rally. woman speaking legaphonewas still gize the crowd. In ddressed to Israel. ut: "You cheated a country where elong." And, "You prism. We call it p prayed together led by the leaders phones: "Allahu ;od is great") rl of about 10 held e sign high up over colorful lettering rist: noun: Ones ait violent or de- ;ts. SEE JEW." The :1, with drops'of red g the bottom, was to those words. 4 o'clock, the nian demonstra- arted to break up. Lan told the crowd megaphone that buses leaving to on to South Or- )ss the street, two rael counter-dem- silently held aloft md white flags. nians don'twantto Hezbollah's power ;rael from taking military action against their nuclear program," Amir said of the Iranians. "The nuclear program is mtich more im- portant for them than what is happening now in Gaza.'" The Gazawar has reshuffled the wider Middle Eastern deck and exposed the fragility of the regional order. For Israel, the strategic question is whether Operation Cast Lead brings a two-state solution with the Palestinians closer by weakening Hamas or pushes it further away by radicalizing the region. In all of this, the key player is almost certain to be the eloquent, energetic new American president. Barack Obama has insisted he will be engaged in the Middle East but by press time he has not said how. After his inaugura- tion Jan. 20, change may be on the way. Matlin From page 1A leave feeling empowered with the realization that she can make a difference both individually and together as a community. You will feel that you have made the heartfelt 'choice' to be there for your community--your Jewish community that needs you and the Jewish community that you need as well." For more information. contact JoAnne Kane at 407- 645-5933 Register online at www.jfgo. org. Click on the "Choices 2009" invitation and follow the links. Choices 2009 is a fund- raising dinner for women only. Proceeds from the evening go toward the Jew- ish Federation of Greater Orlando's annual commu- nity campaign. In addition to a $40 couvert, there is a suggested minimum dona- tion of $250 (less than $5 per week), which can be paid through December 2009. This year, due to a generous gift from the Alan Ginsburg Family Founda- tion, newcomers or first- timers to Choices are invited to attend at no charge. The Women's Division is hoping to educate new women about the Federation's mission of caring for those in need. rescuing those in harm's way, and renewing and strengthening Jewish life in Orlando. in Israel and around the world. "Once a woman understands how the money given through the Annual Community Campaign changes lives, they cannot help but be a part of Women's Division and philanthropy."