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January 16, 2009

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Rally From page 1A Israel avoids the slaughter of innocents whenever pos- sible. "It was not Israel that precipitated this tragedy... Jews around the world have no reason to be embarrassed at the actions of the Jewish state." And he reminded his listeners that one-third of their contributions to the Federation's annual cam- paign support Israel and Jews around the world. Rene Brent, Federation community campaign chair, has gone to Israel every sum- mer since 2001, She's volun- teered as a nurse with Magen David Adom, helped new immigrants at an absorption center, and worked on an army base at the beginning of the 2006 Lebanon war. Shewas recently in Sderoton a JewishAgency-organized trip for U.S. Jewish leaders. As the chartered bus from Jerusalem approached the rocket-battered southern town, "they told uswe had to be quiet, since if a rocket hit, there were only 10 to 20 seconds to stop the bus, get all 40 of us off and find shelter." "People in Sderot don't take walks or eat out in restau- rants," said Brent. "Normally Israelis shout a lot," but not in Sderot. "There were very few cars, hardly any people and definitely no children" on the streets. As a nurse, she has treated individual children suffering from trauma, who have"a look in their eyes between anxiety and disbelief." In Sderot, she saw "a classroom of children looking up at me with that exact look in their eyes." Jackie Ossin represented Or Hadash, the Federation's young professionals' group. She had just returned from Israel, and had been hiking in Beersheva when a rocket hit--only in this recent war have Hamas rockets been able to penetrate so far into Is- rael, thanks to more advanced weaponry supplied by Iran. "This is a PR war," Ossin said, urging attendees to speak up for Israel among their acquain- tances. She wants Americans to continue "visiting, shopping and enjoying" in Israel. Rubinger, Sherwin and their colleagues from the Greater Orlando Board of Rabbis also took turns urging their audi- ence to put information about the justice of Israel's cause in front of newspaper editors, radio hosts, neighbors, co- workers and friends. Rabbi Gary Perras of Temple Israel in Winter Springs said, "Only 60 years after the Ho- locaust, Jewish blood is cheap again." After praising President George W. Bush's support for Israel, he said, "There's a new man coming on board. Let him know how much we'd appreci- ate his standing with Israel." Rabbi Richard Margolis of Melbourne's Temple Beth Sholomand 35 members of his congregation were at the rally. Beth Sholom, in partnership with a local church, installed an emergency shelter in the Eshkol district of the Negev last summer; it has been in use almost every day since. "Israel lives in a terrible neighborhood," said Margolis. He acknowledged the efforts of Christians United for Israel, a group that has raised money to purchase ambulances for Magen David Adorn. "Those ambulances are being used right now." He urged attendees to contribute to Hadassah, the American Friends of Ma- gen David Adom, Operation Lifeshield, the Jewish Federa- tion, and other organizations dedicated to helping Israelis. "We write our checks in ink, but our brothers and sisters in Israel are writing their checks every day in blood." Margolis decried"journalis- tic obscenities" coming from the BBC and reporters such as Christiane Amanpour who present"gross misrepresenta- tions"with"no context" about the history and background of Israel's side of the conflict. "How many people know the meaning of the 'principle of perfidy' from the Geneva Conventions?" asked Rabbi Perras. "You should all know about it." "If you are a military or paramilitary group," he said, "and encamp among civilians and shoot and your enemy shoots back and kills civilians, you are the guilty party, not the opposing army." "Bombard talk shows" and call local newspapers "with the Jewish point of view," he said. "Go talk about Israel with people who might need to hear," said Rabbi Sherwin. "Don't just talk to Jews." Sherwin's cousin lives in Otef Gaza, the Israeli area immediately surrounding Gaza. The Israeli government has considered her kibbutz slightly too far away from the rockets to finance the building of shelters, so residents who hear the Tzeva Adorn warn- ing--"Incoming!"--simply "geton the ground, cover their heads, gather their children and pray." Parents in the area, said Sherwin, are even glad to send their sons as military parachutists into Gaza, since they believe they'll be safer than at home. "'It is true we have won all our wars,'" he quoted the late Israeli prime minister Golda Meir, "'but we have paid for them.'" "It is not the forces of Israel but the forces of Hamas who are using their own people as human shields," said Rabbi Rubinger. "The leadership of Hamas is practicing the very worst form of child abuse and the very worst form of violence against women. For shame." "Rarely reported," he said, is the fact that "before Israel aims a rocket at any building where known terrorists hide, Israel not only drops leaflets, Israel actually calls the inhabitants of that building and text mes- sages them, warning them to get out." Community rabbiArny Sie- gel remembered a day in 1948: "Sixtyyears ago incheder, Iwas five years old," he said. In his Connecticut town, there was a rally for Israel, with people he knew waving Israeli flags and celebrating the fact that "we have our country again." He wondered whether, after Israel's long series of wars brought on by its neighbors, his young daughter "will be sitting in a rally like this one, another sixty years hence. It isn't as if we don't have a right to be there. Jews have been living in the Holy Land in one area or another since the incep- tion of our people." And yet the Palestinians have continued to turn their "ploughshares into Kalashnikovs, and pruning hooks into Kassams." After Cantor Jacqueline Rawiszer of Congregation of Reform Judaism led the crowd in theAmerican and Israeli na- tional anthems, Ohev's Rabbi David Kay and Cantor Allan Robuck mellowed the mood with songs in English and Hebrew, songs of love for Israel, sadness for its plight, and hope for the future: "I promise you, my little girl, that this will be the last war." And in a song by Naomi Shemer: "On the PAGE 19A honey and on the sting, on the bitter and the sweet, on our baby daughter, watch over, my kind God." "We are here to say to the Palestinian people: Let us live in peace,"said Rabbi Rubinger. "The citizens of Israel are our flesh and blood, they are our people, they are our family. We can and we ought to fight the battle against terror here using every peaceful method at our disposal" and "take a moral stand against evil." Rabbi Sherwin's synagogue still plans to take a congrega- tional trip to Israel in June: "Nobody's going to stop us." "Lech lecha," said Rabbi Steven Engel of Congregation of Reform Judaism in closing. "Go from here tonight" to take Israel's message to the world. "Like Abraham, if you do not bring the messages that you heard tonight, this night will have meant nothing." "Sadly, civilians do get caught in the conflict," he said. But there is an "inequity in how the world now takes great in- terest in Israel's intrusion into Gaza," yet was silent during years of rocket fire on Israel. The world seems to support "Gaza's right to self-defense" yet have "lack of sympathy for Israel's right to exist." "Israel sends aid into Gaza, while Gaza only sends suicide bombers into Israel." "May peace be upon Israel," Engel concluded. And "upon the Palestinian people." Rockets From page 2A facility, smuggling and ter- ror tunnels--some located . under homes--rocket!aunch- ing areas and underground launching pads. Meanwhile, an Israeli del- egation led by Amos Gilad, the head of the Defense Ministry's Diplomatic-Security Bureau, arrived in Cairo Thursday to discuss an Egyptian-French cease-fire proposal. Pressure from around the world for a cease-fire plan has grown since Israel struck a United Nations school in Gaza Jan. 7, killing 40 and injuring dozens. While the IDF continues to assert that it was fired upon from either inside or from the vicinity of the school, officials from the United Na- tions ReliefandWorksAgency has insisted on international news networks that no Hamas terrorists were inside the school. The driver of a U.N. truck was killed by an Israeli ank as he approached an Israeli border crossing to pick up an aid shipment. A U.N. spokes- man told The Associated Press Jan. 8 that the United Nations would suspend aid shipments until itwas sure its staff would be safe. The U.N. Security Council on the night of Jan. 7 failed to agree on a cease-fire resolution and was sched- uled to meet again the next day. Arab representatives continue to insist upon a cease-fire with no precondi- tions, while countries such as the United States, Britain and France want assurances that a mechanism to stop arms smuggling from Egypt will be put into place. Demonstrations in support of Israel's Gaza operation have begun to crop up in Europe and the United States. Rallies were held Jan. 7 at night and dozens more were scheduled in cities across the United States for Jan. 8 and Jan. 9 in communities such as Chicago, San Francisco, New Orleans, Atlanta and Philadelphia. In Europe, more than 1,000 people demonstrated Jan. 7 near the Israeli Embassy in London to show their sup- port for Israel's attack against Hamas. A few dozen Muslim counter-demonstrators, who took part in the earlier daily anti-lsrael demonstration, refused to leave the area; a large number of police officers separated the two groups. Six of the anti-Israel demonstra- tors were arrested. Also Jan. 7, a Brussels pro-peace demonstration organized by the Coordinat- ing Council of Jewish m- munities in Belgium drew nearly 700 people, according to police estimates. Anti-Israel sentiment, how- ever, on the Gaza operation has been exhibited through- out the world. In South Africa, thousands of protesters marched Jan. 8 on the Parliament in Cape Town. Slamming Israel and praising Hamas, participants, who were acting under the banner of the Muslim Judicial Council, chanted slogans such as "Long live Hamas" and "Down with Israel," ac- cording to local radio station Cape Talk. Jewish women in Toronto on Jan. 7 staged a sit-in inside the Israeli consulate after gaining access by proving they were Jewish or Israeli. Germany has been the site oftwoweeks of anti-Israel pro- tests, which drew thousands of people to the streets in cities throughout the country. Protests have entered the athletic arena, as well. Anti-Israel protesters in New Zealand tried to force the withdrawal of Israel's top tennis player from a tourna- ment.A fringe organization called Peace and Justice Auckland issued a letter to Shahar Pe'er demanding her withdrawal on the eve of the tournament. On Jan. 8, about 20 protesters waved anti -Israel placards outside the entrance to the ASC Classic in Auckland before Pe'er was due to play Russia's Elena Dementieva. Pe'er, 22, who received beefed-up security during the tournament, los t in the quarterfinal round. The protest against Pe'er came two days after an Israeli basketball team was targeted by protesters in Turkey, forcing the players to leave the court before the opening tip of a European Cup match. Some Turkish fans of the Turk Telekom team threw bottles at the Israeli Bnei Hasharon players. Others stormed the court shouting "Allah Akbar" and "death to the Jews," according to reports. The team retreated to the locker room and remained holed up for two hours be- fore leaving under heavy police escort. The game was canceled. Friedman From page 4A goal is to write a best seller or popular movie. Publishers are generally no longer interested in publishing Holocaustmem- oirs because they do not sell well and the movie industry is choking on Hollywood-ized versions of the Holocaust. (Ask some of the survivors of the Bielsky group what they really think about the movie, when the camera and tape recorders are turned shrugged his shoulders and said, "What did you expect? It's entertainment!") Two: You were not born on Sept. 1, 1939 and you did not die in April 1945. Start at the beginningwith the story of where you came from, who your parents were and how you grew up. I ask about everything--from the newspapers that were read at home to the youth groups they belonged to; how their parents observed Judaism, or if they did. I ask about their mother's cooking, what their homes looked like, about schools, games they played andwhatbooks they read. I ask what they know about their grandparents and ancestors. Why? Because if a survivor doesn't start at the beginning and tell people who they are, why should anyone care about what happened to them dur- ing the war? I ask the survivors not to forget the ending. If they stop their stories in April 1945, they remain victims. But if they tell the story of how they rebuilt their lives and created new families and supported them, then they become sur- vivors and the story becomes one of triumph. I ask them to include their view of life and how to survive. Most of all I remind them: These stories are written as promises kept to those who were left behind and as legacies for those who come after. They are holy testimony to the Six Million. My grandmother Yitta made my mother swear to bear witness, so that her grandchildren--my brothers and sisters, and our children, and our children's children would know who we are and where we came from. The survivors have an obli- gation to hand over a truthful legacy and their "Tzevaahs", their ethical wills. They do not owe their writing teachers, film producers and the gen- eral public anything except the truth. If a publisher or producer then finds the story valuable, fine and dandy--the survivor lucks out. But never should it be at the expense of truth--the 15 minutes of fame and the damage it does to those who tell the truth is simply not worth it to the rest of the survivor community. Jeanette Friedman is a freelance journalist, editor and author living in New Jersey. Stern From page 5A at it, has become a constant living hell. When the siren sounds, there are 15 seconds to run for their lives. Local psycholo- gists report that more than 70 percent of the people of Sderot have been suffering from psychosomatic symptoms, with children suffering from nightmares and bedwetting. Gaza has become an Irani- an subsidiary. The missiles have reached a trajectory that covers 900,000 people stretching from Ashdod to Beersheva. Hezbollah has become a northern Iranian subsid- iary. The second Lebanon War, where Israel was forced to abide by U.N. Resolution 1701 and to end prematurely, has now been perceived in the Arab world as a "vic- tory for Hezbollah." This has only engendered more support for the Iranian proxy throughout the Arab world. The Gaza operation is legally mandated under the United Nations Char- ter, which says that every nation's primary respon- sibility is the defense of its civilians. Moreover, by showing a decisive military victory, Israel will be send- ing a clear message to Iran, that the civilized world has simply run out of patience for this sort of behavior. The objective of this operation is simple: To eliminate the source of the terror. It is not a question of proportionality. This is a war of a terrorist entity against a nation state. How "proportionate" would our response be if San Diego were to have been attacked by an endless barrage of mis- siles from a radical Islamic terrorist base in Mexico? Yet, throughout the cities of the Western world, anti- Israel demonstrators shout, "End the occupation." What occupation is it that they are they talking about? It could not possibly be of Gaza. It must be about the state of Israel. Human memory is, in- deed, a very selective thing. Particularly when it comes to the suffering of the Jews. Sarah N. Stern is founder and president of EMET-En- dowment for Middle East Peace, a pro-Israel think tank and policy center in Washington, D.C.