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February 1, 2013

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PAGE 16A By Helen Chernikoff New York Jewish Week Rabbi Jonah Pesner has decided not to run for United States Senate in June's Massachusetts special elec- tion to replace John Kerry, foreclosing on the possibil- ity-for now--of the first senator who is also a rabbi. A senior vice president at the Union for Reform Judaism, Pesner said in a "gtatement released Jan. 18 HERITAGE FLORIDA JEWISH NEWS, FEBRUARY 1, 2013 Rabbi decides not to run for U.S. Senate that he was "encouraged" to run and in response, spent several weeks meeting with business, civil, religious and political leaders, donors and activists to discuss the possibility. In the end, he decided that the timing wasn't right for his family. Pesner is mar- ried with four daughters between the ages of 8 and 14;.his wife runs her own law practice and they share parenting responsibilities, like carpool. Also, in an interview with The Jewish Week before he decided, Rabbi Pesner said he had to think carefully about the risks he would run as a parent in exposing his children to public scrutiny. The timing of such a run, with an election only six months away, would also have made it a challenge to assemble a team and raise sufficient funds, especially for an outsider candidate. But his rabbinate has long been entwined with politics, and Pesner is careful to say that he is still open to run- nitlg for public office. "I will continue to be a leader who brings people together across lines of race, class and faith, to overcome partisan polarization in service of'our shared values and o.ur vision for a better world," he said in the state- ment. "Perhaps there will be a time in the future when the call to elected leadership will make sense for me and my family." Pesner founded the Re- form movement's congre- gational community orga-" nizing arm, Just Congrega- tions, and was also actively involved in the effort to pass health care reform in Mas- sachusetts, an experience he cites as one that inspired him to consider running for office. The decision not to run was a difficult one for him, he told The Jewish Week. His voice breaking, he said that he especially hated to disappoint the young activ- ists who were urging him to go for it, and he regretted passing up for the moment a Chance to "model his values" by running for office. Helen Chernikoffis a staff writer fo? The New York Jewish Week, from which this article was reprinted by permission. Report: Syria chemical arsenal within Hezbollah reach By Shlomo Cesana and Daniel Siryoti Israel is continuing to warn the world of the potentially devastating outcome if Syria's chemical arsenal falls into the hands of rebels, or worse, Hezbollah, as Lebanese media outlets reported that the Leba- nese terror group had already obtained some chemical weap- ons and long-range missiles. Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, who last Sunday met with a delegation from the U.S. House of Representa- tives led by Rep. Rob Wittman (R-VA), last Monday expressed his concern over the develop- ments in Syria, and said the outcomes facing Israel were "bad, bad and worse." The prime minister was briefed on the Syrian situation over the weekend and multiple meetings were held to discuss possible options. U.S. Ambassador to Israel Dan Shapiro said that Israel ahd the U.S. were working in full cooperation on the Syrian issue, and last Monday Netan- yahu's adviser and National Security Council chiefYaakov Amidror visited Moscow and spoke with Russian President Vladimir Putin on the matter. ' Less than a week after the general election, in which Netanyahu won the leadership post by a narrow margin, he met with Middle East Quartet special envoy Tony Blair on Middle East doesn't stop for elections; everything con- tinues. We need to work on peace and security and there's no better person to work with than you." According to Lebanese TV, Hezbollah fighters helping Syrian President Bashar ai- Assad fight the Sunni rebels in Syria have now taken over army bases throughout the country. Hundreds of armed fighters from the Shiite group were seen- accompanying personnel from the Syrian military's unconventional weapons program, as well as taking position inside Syrian bases where chemical weap- ons were stored. The-Syrian military has control of the al-Safira com- pound south of Aleppo, where chemical weapons are pro- duced and stored. Arab media reported that fter days of pitched battlesthe army suc- ceeded in repelling the rebel attack and regaining control of the territory around the base. "Assad orclered the military to increase its bombing cam- paign in al-Safira, because he is in cahootswith the Zionists, who are helping his regime survive," a rebel belonging to the jihadist group Jahbat al- usra said. The rebel claimed their retreatwas"to rearm and reinforce our troops." Lebanese newspaper AI- Nahar, which is aligned with Syrian president was "calm and certain he will maintain control and restore stability to his country" AcCording to the report, an Arab diplomat said he spoke with Assad for three hours, during which Assad showed "an impressive knowledge of every facet of the crisis in his country." Assad's peace of mind could be the result of something else. Russia has deployed a sizable naval force for an exercise off out the possibility that, under the guise of a training eyercise, Russia had deployed a large military contingent to a sensi- tive fighting zone. Magen also speculated that it could be Russia's intention to prompt the U.S. to reach an agreement over Syria. If the West and Russia do not come to an agreement, Magen said he believed Russia would cre- ate conditions that will help Assad maintain control of the the Syrian coast. According Alawite regions by securing to the Institute for National Security Studies (INSS), the exercise, which was expected to end last Tuesday, was be- ing presided over by Russia's military chief. Tzvi Magen, who compiled Sunday, telling him that "the been fighting rebels to keep Hezbollah, reported that the the INSS report, did not rule Censored by Facebook, the Syrian coast. If true, it could be a sign that Syria was about to be partitioned into separate states. This story first appeared in Israel Hayom and is distrib: uted with the permission of that newspaper. The award-winning jour- nalist, who writes for the Jerusalem Post, reports for NBC News as well as several European media outlets, and posts often-stinging opinion pieces for the Gatestone In- stitute, does that which most Arab journalists would never dare: he attempts to hold Pal- estinian and Arab leadership accountable for their actions. "The prevailing concept in theArab world is that if you are not with us, you are against us," Abu Toameh told JNS. org. In other words, he said, a Palestinian journalist "is ex- pected to be loyal to the cause of Palestinian nationalism." Abu Toameh got his start more than 30 years ago work- ingwith Palestinian mediabut left because of the limitations placed on his work. Today journalists face similar re- strictions. "Media in the West Bank is controlled by Fatah," Abu Toameh said. "Media in Gaza is controlled by Hamas. A journalist in those areas is not free to report as he sees fit." One of the first Israeli papers Abu Toameh wrote for was a Hebrew publication called Yerushalayim (or Jeru- salem). "At that time, I wrote articles criticizing Israel, and the IDF in particular, for vari- ous human rights violations, and I won several awards. Of course now that I am criticiz- ing the Palestinian Authority, I am roundly condemned," he said. Abu Toameh is not only conderffned but is often threatened. "Today, Iam get- ting more threats from the US, Canada, Europe and the UK than I am from within the Palestinian Authority," Abu Toameh said. "But what is unique, is that those that threaten me roundly acknowledge that I am telling the truth," he said. "They don't question my reporting. Theyjustwant me to shut up. I'd be much more afraid of what could happen to me if I were lying," Abu Toameh stated. It is Abu Toameh's reputa- tion for reporting honestly that keeps his sources coming back. "I speak to members of Fatah, Hamas, Islamic Jihad, Palestinian officials, residents and terrorists," he said. "They want to commu- nicate to the international community, and I provide them with an outlet," Abu Toameh added. Today, Abu Toameh's ar- ticles can be found in the Jerusalem Post, but he rejects the notion that he is writing for a Jewish or pro-Israel newspaper. "I am an Israeli citizen, and I write for an Israeli paper. I will write for any paper that gives me a free platform," Abu Toameh said. Steve Linde, Editor-in- Chief of the Jerusalem Post, contends that Abu Toameh's reporting is extraordinarily important "Khaled is a real hero," Linde told "He exposes corruption within the Palestinian administration without fear or hesitation.,' "I think just about every- body respects his integrity and credibility as a journalist. He has a strong international reputation for being a top Palestinian journalist," Linde said. Abu Toameh has no fears of reporting oftentimes-harsh truths. When it comes to peace between Israel and Palestinians, according to Abu Toameh, the chances are not good. "In my opinion, it is nearly impossible to fit another state between Israel and Jordan. We also need to ask what kind of state would that be? Would it be a terror state like in Gaza, or a secular dictatorship like we see throughout the Arab World," he said. With regard to PA President MahmoudAbbas, AbuToameh is not certain that he has the ability to make peace with Israel. "Shimon Peres might think Abbas can make peace, but Abbas has no mandate from his people," he said. "Abbas might be serious and he might be sincere, but that is not the issue. Much more important is whether he can deliver. And right now, the an- swer is no, he cannot deliver." Abu Toameh is not sure that Jordan is the answer for Pal- estinian self-determination either, even though a majority of that country is Palestinian. "I don't see how you can dis- mantle Jordan and make it a Palestinian state," he said. "In that case, you might end up with three separate Palestin- ian states: one in Jordan one in Gaza and one in the West Bank. You have to be careful Courtesy Khaied Abu Toameh Khaled Abu Toameh what you wish for." In the meantime, Jordan's King Abdullah has managed to stave off protests of the Arab Spring like those in Egypt or Syria. "So far he has managed, but I don't think he sleeps that well at night," Abu Toameh said. "The key is what winds up happening in Syria," Abu Toameh 'contended. "Many of the Islamists fighting in Syria come from Jordan. Once fighting in Syriacomes to end, they may come back to start fighting in Jordan." What that leaves is an unstable situation, one that could bring even more vio-" lence to the region, and particularly to Israel. "Within Israel's borders, there is growing tensions, and daily confrontations between Israelis--the IDF as well as settlers--and Palestinians," Abu Toameh added. "On the ground there is already a 'popular resistance' under- way. We've seen skirmishes, clashes, stonings, Molotov cocktails and more." "I believe the third intifada has already begun, albeit on a low flame." .','a'. '' ''%'t'z -.JtTt,t, %l - .. ,l l,,  - %.- I Professional/Reasonable/Free Estimate Complete Lawn & Shrub Maintenance Ucensed Insured l ommetal Landscape Maintenance Inc. Commercial, Office, Residential X,Ve are our souro@ for: Invitations Brochures Letterheads Envelopes Business Cards Programs Riders Post Cards Forms Digital Photographu  Labels Direct Mail 407.767.711() I ..... ..... legantprinting, net 205 North Street l,ongwood, FL 32750 7 - ,i, .d., d ,.., ,,,.. , I.'i,:ou ,: In an environment where criticism of Israel is not only common, but encouraged, Arab -Israeli journalist Khaled Abu Toameh is a lonely voice of dissent on issues relating to the Palestinian Authority (PA). "I believe that a journalist should be loyal to the truth, as opposed to a president or a prime minister," Abu Toameh said in an interview with JNS. org. "I do not wish to be a mouthpiece-for any leader, an organ of any structure, or a cover-up agent for anybody. A journalist should be free to criticize anyone as long as he is telling the truth." Abu Toameh's unique role in the media world was per- h/ps no more apparent than when Facebook recently removed his profile following complaints about his posts, which are highly critical of the PA and the Kingdom of Jordan. Though his pagewas quick - ly restored after a backlash of complaints, the attempt to silence Abu Toameh's online presence is the latest in a cam- paign to censor any perceived anti-Arab sentiment. In an op-ed challenging the Facebook incident, Abu Toameh commented, "During the past year alone, a number of Palestinian journalists and bloggers were arrested by Western-funded Palestinian Authority security services in the West Bank for criticizing the PA leadership on their Facebook pages." "It is the duty of Facebook and Western societies to side with those seeking freedom, and not to be complicit in suppressing their voices," he wrote. By Alex Traiman journalist forges on as lonely dissenting Arab voice on PA