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January 18, 2013

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HERITAGE FLORIDA JEWISH NEWS, JANUARY 18, 2013 I By Khaled Abu Toameh The truth sometimes hurts; that is why the Pal- estinian Authority has been working hard to prevent the outside world from hearing about many occurrences that reflect negatively on its leaders or people. In recent years, the P.A. leadership, often with the help of the mainstream media in the United States and European Union, has been successful in its effort to divert all attention only toward Israel. Here is a list of 10 inconve- nient truths that Palestinian leaders would prefer you not know: 1. More than 100 senior Palestine Liberation Orga- nization and Fatah officials hold Israeli-issued VIP cards By David Suissa Jewish Journal of Greater Los Angeles How do we keep Jews Con- nected to their Judaism and prevent the further erosion of Jewish identity inAmerican Jewry? It's a simple question,. but it's the defining issue of our time--the one that pre- occupies Jewish community leaders perhaps more than any other. As I see it, there are two ways to approach the problem. The first way is to dissect The Palestinian leadership's that grant them various privileges denied to most Palestinians. Among these privileges is the freedom to enter Israel and travel abroad at any time they wish. This privileging has existed since the signing of the Oslo Ac- cords between Israel and the PLO in 1993. 2. Out of the 600 Chris- tians from the Gaza Strip who arrived in the West Bank to celebrate Christmas, doz- ens have asked to move to Israel because they no longer feel comfortable living under the P.A. and Hamas. 3. Dozens of Christian families from eastern Jeru- salem have moved to Jewish neighborhoods in the city because they too no lon- ger feel comfortable living among Muslims. 4. P.A. security forces in the West Bank continue to begins by setting out the premise: "Based on current re- search related to the status of religious movements, it is important to begin to design strategies for synagogue orga- nizations and their affiliates to move toward 'sacred innova- tion,' the idea of re-imagining congregational life. These initiatives come up against the new realities of the decline in American religiosity." Windmueller identifies "a number of operational road- blocks facing our established the problem strategicallY, national religiousmovements iwhic..h was done bx. Steyeo,: and their affiliates," such as: WindmueIler in a recent es- "Decision-makin malaise, say titled "Sustaining 21st Century American Judaism: Examining New Options." In his essay, Windmueller, who is the Rabbi Alfred Gott- schalk Emeritus Professor of Jewish Communal Service at Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion (and. a Jewish Journal blogger), defining the competitive edge, focusing on leadership capac- ity and identifying alternative revenue streams." To address these roadblocks and confront "today's complex realities," he adds that move- ments and their congrega- tional affiliates will need to pay specific attention to things inconvenient truths summon and arrest political opponents, journalists and bloggers who criticize the Palestinian leadel:ship. 5. The P.A. government/ which has been complaining about a severe financial cri- sis for the past few months, just canceled outstanding electricity debts for Pales- tinians in the West Bank. Palestinians pay their bills to the Arab Jerusalem Elec- tric Company, which buys electricity from the Israeli Electric Company. The Pal- estinians have not been paying their electricity bills and many have been stealing electricity from thei Arab company. 6. Tens of thousands of P.A. civil servants in the Gaza Strip receive salaries to stay at home and not work. The practice has been in effect since Hamas seized control over the Gaza Strip in 2007. According to Fatah spokesman Ahmed Assaf, the P.A., which is funded mostly by American and European taxpayer money, spends around $120 million each month on the Hamas- controlled Gaza Strip. 7: Mahmoud Abbas's rul- ing Fatah faction has al- located more than $1 mil- lion for celebrations mark- ing the 48th anniversary of the "launching of the- revolution"ma reference to the first armed attack car- ried out by Fatah against Israel in 1964. 8. Despite the calls for an economic boycott of Israel, more than 40,000 Palestin- ians have received permits to work in Israel. Moreover, another 15,000 Palestinians continue to work in Jewish communities beyond Israel's Birthright Shabbat like establishing institutional identity, managing partner- ships and collaborative ar- rangements, and operating from "the outside in." They will also need to un- derstand and examine "new models of religious engage- ment," orwhathe calls "emer- gent" or alternative religious communities. He identifies several char- acteristics of these new com- munities, such as their un- derdeveloped infrastructure and a greater propensity for entrepreneurship and risk tolerance. Windmueller!s piece is... important in that it analyzes the strategic "big picture" for a major community challenge. What it doesn't do, how- ever, is offer practical ideas that might help us meet that challenge. That's why there's a second way of approaching the prob- lem: To focus not on analyz- ing the "big picture" but on finding the "big idea." Specifically, to find that one simple, practical, overarching idea that, if well executed, can revitalize Judaism in America. Here's my candidate for that big idea: the Friday night Shabbat table. I know what you're think- ing--too simple, too easy. Yes, but that's precisely what makes big ideas work: They're simple and easy and flexible. The Friday night Shabbat" table is the Swiss Army knife of Jewish connection. Think about it. You're the typical Jew 0f the ,new. generation who's not into Judaism or"or- ganized religion" in general. As soon as you hear the word synagogue, you run. What can be more inviting than a great meal? The Shabbat meal takes an idea everyone loves--Thanks- giving--and makes it a mean- 4ngful weekly experience. The beauty of this meal is pre-1967 borders in spite of an official ban. 9. Top PLO and Fatah of- ficials continue to do their shopping in Israeli-owned businesses both in the West Bank and Israel. Two weeks ago,' for example, a mem- ber of the PLO Executive Committee and his family were spotted shopping in Jerusalem's Malha mall. Of course, the PLO official did not forget to bring along his private driver and maid. 10. The wife of a senior PLO official recently spent $20,000 for dental treatment in Tel Aviv at a time when there is no shortage of re- nowned Palestinian dentists in Ramallah, Bethlehem and Nablus. These are only some of the inconvenient truths that the Palestinian Authority does not want the outside world that it can be tailored to attract any taste: a poetry Shabbat, a spiritual Shabbat, a literary Shabbat, a culinary Shabbat, a storytelling Shabbat, a Zionist Shabbat, a singles Shabbat, a green Shabbat, a socia! justice Shabbat and so on. Most important, by in- corporating Jewish rituals, the meal glows with Jewish content. Each ritual can have personal meaning. So, while a "poetry Shabbat" would cel- ebrate great poetry, it would be enveloped by Shabbat rituals--lighting the candles, we!coming the, angels of peace, blessing the wine and bread, singing Shabbat songs, etc.--that would encourage a personal "Jewish connection." Over the years, outreach groups like Chabad, Hillel and Aish HaTorah have devoted major resources to the Friday night experience. Our local Jewish Federation, as well as other groups throughout the country, also have madi PAGE 5. A. to know. Palestinian jour- nalists 6ften avoid reporting about such issues out of concern for their safety or for "ideological" reasons. These journalists have been taught that it is forbidden to hang out the dirty laundry. Western journalists, do- nors and decision-makers who deal with the Israeli- Palestinian conflict need to know that there are many truths being completely ig- nored or hidden from their eyes and ears. Originally published by the Gatestone Institute, www.gatestoneinstitute. org. Khaled Abu Toameh, anArab Muslim, i veteran award-winning fournalist, who has been covering Pal- estinian affairs for nearly three decades, including for the Jerusalem Post since 2002. efforts in that area. What the American Jew- ish community has missed, however, is the opportunity to develop a comprehensive Shabbat initiative on the scale of Birthright Israel. Just as that program gave the new generation a taste of Israel, this program would give them a taste of Judaism. No one ideawill address all the issues outlined in Windm- ueller's essay. But a Birthright Shabbat program, planned on a major scale and adapted to the needs of different commu- nities, has as good a chance as any to ign.ite a r,VitaJization of Judaism in :America. How appropriate that the future of Judaism would rest on an idea that is 3,300 years old. David Suissa is president of TRIBE Media Corp.Jewish Journal and can be reached at davids@jewish This article was reprinted by permission. Letters To The Editor HERITAGE welcomes and encourages let- ters to the editor, but they must be typed or printed and include name and phone number. We will withhold your name if you so request. Please limit letters to 250 words. Due to space limitations, we reserve the right to edit letters. Send letters to P.O. Box 300742, Fern Park, FL 32730. Or e-mail to U.S. funds terrorism Dear Editor: Am I the only one or. have others noticed how the United States government continues to financially sup- port terrorism to the tune of billions of dollars a year? As former United States Presi- dent Lyndon Baines Johnson once said, "My fellow Ameri- cans, come let us reason together." Now is the time for all those who support a strong United States and a strong safe, secure Israel to "come together." Now is the time to contact tle members of Congress, the secretary of state and the president of the United States and ask thetough questions. Asking isn't enough. Demanding a-nswersis also important. First, we must ask why we as the United States of America are supporting the budget of the United Nations to the tune of 22 percent for regular operations and 27 percent for the United Nations Peace Keeping Op- erations, plus dollars for voluntary assessments for various U.N. organizations. Here we are talking of just under eight billion dollars a year! Those countries that consistently vote against our best interests and our ide- als, whose financial support for the U.N. is negligible at best. In terms of dollars, we are talking about the latest U.N. budget of more than 7.7 billion dollars a year: Along the same line of reasoning, we must ask, why does the United States actively support terror- ism? And, yes we do. We contribute $237,831,000 a year to the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East. This enables the Palestinian (Hamas is a branch of The Muslim Broth- erhood) leadership to divert much-needed humanitarian assistance dollars into the purchase and construction of weapons, such as rockets, to be launched indiscrimi- nately against the Israeli citizens. This frees up funds to be used to financially sup- port terrorist activities such as suicide bombers. These funds that should be allocated for the build- ing up of the infrastructure required for an independent nation are diverted into. the pockets of the Hamas leadership. At the same. time, the United States is also contrib-. uting $400 milliona year of our tax dollars to support the Palestinian Authority, just recently renamed the State of Palestine, economy in order to sulpor t its economy. Like ours doesn't need support? Again, this enab!es the PLO and other terrorist sup- porting entities in Judea and Samaria. Again, this allows funds to be diverted for ter- rorist activities bent on the total destruction of Israel and the Jewish people. Yet, we continue to do so. But, that's not all folks. What about the Obama administration's recent ap- proval to supply the unstable government of Egypt under. the leadership of the Muslim Brotherhood and President Morsi with 20 very modern, up to date F-16 jet fighters? Yes, the same Muslim Brotherhood that vows to totally destroy Israel and the Jews. The same Mus- lim Brotherhood that has in their charter to take over the world and enforce strict Islamic (sharia) law. By supporting the Morsi regime, we have undercut the pro-democracy, liberal opposition. Why must our Federal tax dollars be used this way? Surely, President Obama would not announce "such a deal" prior to the 2012 election knowing the v6ting public's reaction. Again, I urge you to use electronic communications to contact those in Wash- ington who can make a dif- ference. You either support terrorist activities, or you don't. President George W. Bush said it best, "You are either with us or against us." Lawrence Morrell Maitland Dry Bones THE OANC-ER OP SYRIAN CHEMICAL WEAPON5 ASSAO'S HANOS ... THE OANGER. 01: THE SYRIAN CHEMK:AL 00/EAPO00 ... HA5 BEEN REPLAC00 BY A NEW TI.00EAT! NOT' BEING A55AO'5 HANOS! 1