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January 21, 2011

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HERITAGE FLORIDA JEWISH NEWS, JANUARY 21, 2011 PAGE 17A Diplomat comes full circle By Richard Greenberg Washington Jewish Week President Barack Obama recently bypassed Congress to appoint a half-dozen sea- soned Washington hands to upper-level administration positions, ranging from dip- lomatic posts to the Public Printer of the United States. Aresponse to congressional gridlock, the president's show of executive-branch muscle carried a"special poignancy" for appointee Norman Eisen, who was named U.S. ambas- sador to the Czech Republic, following a two-year stint as Obama's Special Counsel for Ethics and Government Reform. Eisen's mother is a Holo- caust survivor from Czecho- slovakia, one of only three members of her immediate family to make it out of Aus- chwitz alive. The official ambassadorial residence the appointee and his family will soon occupy was built by a Jewish fam- ily, but was commandeered during World War II to serve as headquarters of the Nazi general staff in Prague. Its doorways, Eisen, 50, offered proudly, will soon bear me- zuzot and its kitchen will be kashered. "This sends a critical mes- sage," he explained in a recent interview. "There are fewer and fewer Holocaust survi- vors, and the torch is being passed to my generation to keep the meaning and the memory of the Holocaust alive." But his appointment is also "a powerful American story," said Eisen, the first member of his immediate family to have a h;gh school diploma. His late father, a Polish Jew, immigrated to America and settled in Los Angeles where he set up a fast- food takeout joint that became the family business. "But in just one genera- tion," said Eisen, a Harvard- educated attorney, "I've had the privilege of returning to my mother's homeland as a representative of the great- est democracy on earth. It's a triumph over intolerance, bigotry and tyranny." "It's like life going full circle," said former U.S. Am- bassador Stuart Eizenstadt, special representative to Sec- retary of State Hillary Clinton on Holocaust-era issues. "It shows how far the world has come." Eisen, who was sworn in Jan. 12 at the State Depart- ment and was expected to be in Prague this week, is filling a post that had been vacant for nearly two years. It was last held by Republican activist Richard Graber, who was appointed in September 2006 by President George W. Bush and left office when Obama became president in January 2009. Obama nominated Eisen for the diplomatic post in June, but the nomination foundered, primarily because of Republican opposition. Some feared that relations .between the U.S. and the Czech Republic would suffer due to the protracted absence of an ambassador. The impasse was broken on Dec. 29 when Obama ap- pointed Eisen (and five other stalled nominees) using his statutory authority to fill senior federal positions while the Senate is in recess. (To remain in effect, however, a recess appointment must be confirmed by the Senate by the end of the next session of Congress.) A career D.C. lawyer, Eisen was a classmate of Obama's at Harvard Law School. He cam- paigned for Obama in 2008 and then served as deputy counsel to the presidential transition team. A co-founder of Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington in 2003, Eisenwas named the White House ethics chief in 2009. He was charged with ensuring that the Obama administration lived up to its own standards for transpar- ency, integrity and accountabil- ity-primarily by curtailing the influence of lobbyists. He was given broad authority to accomplish that goal. "He did a phenomenal job," said Fred Wertheimer, founder of Democracy 21, a District-based nonprofit devoted to promoting clean government. "He was a re- lentless advocate for integrity and he had the ability to deal directly with the president. He brought a combination of factors to that office that was unique." Eisen's responsibilities in- cluded vetting potential White House employees, making sure that hundreds of pages of federal ethics rules and regu- lation were closely followed and helping Obama fashion even more far-reaching ethics strictures of his own. Sometimes the bearer of bad news for rules-skirters or the merely oblivious, Eisen was affectionately known among colleagues as "Mr. No" and "The Fun Sponge." Rabbi Levi Shemtov, the director of American Friends of Lubavitch, even dubbed him the "posek of the White House," using the term nor- mally reserved for decisors of Jewish law, or Halacha. The jobwas both rewarding and demanding. After two years of late nights and not seeing enough of his family, Eisen, a member of Orthodox Kesher Israel Congregation in the District, reached a state of "satisfied exhaustion" and decided to move on. His posi- tion is not being filled, but its functions will be assumed by other White House personnel. .his*, enjoy our core exhibit MOSAIC:Jewish Life in Florida, Films, Store & Bessie's Bistro Jerusalem mayor sees 10 million tourists by 2020 The TIP Sheet NEW YORK--Jerusalem Mayor Nir Barkat is laying out an ambitious vision of economic development for his city based on freedom of religion, equal rights for all and a massive increase in tourism. At a news briefing orga- nized by The Israel Project, Barkat said Jerusalem had huge potential because it was "one of the strongest brands of the world." "Three-and-a-half billion people on earth believe Je- rusalem is the center of the world in many aspects and would like to come and visit Jerusalem at least once in their lifetimes. That is a huge potential for such a city that so far is practically almost untapped," he said. A realistic goal, he said, was to move from just over two million visitors a year to 10 million, which in turn would act as a powerful economic engine for the benefit of all residents, whether Jewish or Arab. "Everywhere economic growth is developing, it medi- ates people focusing on a com- mon denominator," he said. The Israel Project Mayor of Jerusalem Nir Barkat Barkat said the city had to remain united as Israel's capital stressing that divid- ing cities had never worked successfully anywhere. But he pledged equal treatment for all residents regardless of ethnicity or religion, includ- ing when it came to building permits. "It's a strategy for us to maintain the openess and international element of the city of Jerusalem where Muslims manage their sites, Christians manage their sites and Jews manage their own sites," he said. Barkat, a former business- man and political indepen- dent who serves without a salary, said he also wanted to develop the city as a hub for the life sciences, building on its strong teaching hospi- tals, its prestigious research university and existing major pharmaceutical companies. The mayor said he was working to rewrite building regulations in such a way that the vast majority of Arab buildings erected without construction permits would be allowed to remain and receive legal permits. "As mayor of Jerusalem, I'm committed to make sure that the rule of law is applied everywhere, that people build by the zoning codes. It's not my business or anybody's business if Jews or Arabs rent to each other or sell to each other," he said. The Israel Project (TIP) is a nonprofit educational organization that gets facts about Israel and the Middle East to press, public officials and the public. The Israel Project is not affiliated with any government. In his ambassadorial post, Eisen said he will work to expand economic ties between the U.S. and the Czech Republic, continue to seek restitution for Ho- locaust survivors and their families and "encourage the government to strengthen its capacities in the fight against extremism." Having served as an "am- bassador" for Obama's ethics policies, Eisen said he does not expect to have trouble adjust- ing to his new role. Washington Jewish Week Norman gisen shakes hands with President Barack Obama. Two New Exhibits About JUSTICE AUKTION392 Reclaiming the Galerie Stern, DOsseldorf Restitution of Nazi-looted art Thru April 25, 2011 Jewish gallery owners forced to sell their collections under duress. Exhibition conceived and curated by Dr. Chefine MacKertzie, Conned kl University, Montreal. Traveled by Suzanne Lewis of Ben Uri, The London Jewish Museum of Art. The Leo Frank Case Revisited Thru August 14, 2011 1913 murder of Mary Phagan & trial, conviction and lynching of Jewish )encil factory manager in Atlanta. Exhibition or-*d and circular ed byThe Bernan Museum, Atlanta, GA. .p[fM_ Jewish Museum of Florida o, wa00hin00ton0000enue I -_lira, 1 Miami Beach, FL 33139 ,lr* Tel: 305-672-5044 k%.-o g MIAMIBEACH Jill ......  D Open daily: 10am-5pm, except Mondays, Jewish and Civil holidays. rile Museum is supported by individual contributions, foundations, memberships and grants from the State of Florida, Department of State, Division of Cultural Affairs, Florida Artm Council, and National Endowment for the Arts; the Miami-Dade County Board of Commissioners and its CuRural Affairs Council and Tourist Development Council; and the City of Miami Beach and its Cultural Arts Council. Receive 2 for ! admdsslon with this ad HFLN ! JOIN00 IN CELEBRATION OF A Se0000cha % Remember SPECIAL CELEBRATION ISSUE JANUARY 28, 2011 Hundreds of different parties will be held in the Jewish community throughout the coming year. HERITAGE readers will be in need of a variety of products and services, including hotels, hair salons, clothing stores, jewelers, printers, florists, restaurants and many others. You can reach this exclusive buying market by placing your advertising message in the HERITAGE Special Celebration Issue. Don't let those weddings, bar and bat mitzvahs, and other simchas pass you by. Make sure your business is included on our readers' shopping lists. = =