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February 12, 2016     Heritage Florida Jewish News
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February 12, 2016

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PAGE 4A HERITAGE FLORIDA JEWISH NEWS, FEBRUARY 12, 2016 OO By David Bornstein . The Blind Bind With the public announcement that Da- ingly.Sadly, thisisnotthecase, andifonewere vid Wayne, executive director of the Jewish tolookat the newsletters as examples, itwould Community Center, is moving on to a new become apparent that what was programmed phase in his life, and the JCC is conducting a 30 years ago is being programmed today. nationwide search for a new director, questions But it's not just the J that is answerable inevitably arise regarding the change. While for an inability to respond to the times. The I am not privy to the inner workings of the Jewish Academy of Orlando (called the He- agency, or any behind-the-scenes reasons for brew Day School when my two older chiIdren his departure, a few points can easily be made. attended) continues to eke along with atten- First, thereare no questions ordoubts about dance below 150 Students and an inability the integrity or decency of Mr. Wayne. He has to remain current on its debt obligations to always been the definition of "good guy." But the Jewish Federation of Greater Orlando. there are questions that anyone who has lived The Federation, meanwhile, is rolling out in our community very long might ask, and a campaign to retire the debt on the c0m- theyallhavetodowiththedirectionandvision munity campus, and its vision? By retiring of our agencies, or lack thereof, and for this the debt it can give the money that would agency, leaders must be held accountable. A otherwise go toward mortgage payments friend of mine told me that, prior to a meeting to local agencies for programs without any with Mr. Wayne, he asked that random JCC discernible visior~. This is, in effect, retiring newsletters from 30 years ago, 20 years ago, debt for debt's sake, or to put it another way, 10 years ago, and today be brought along for raising money so agencies can simply keep review. The challenge presented was a simple going, with no rationale for their continued one. Besides the design of the newsletters, are (or future) existence. there substantive differences in the programs Listen, I want there to be a thriving Jewish being offered by the J? It's undeniable that our day school in Central Florida. I want vital society has changed, that the motivations and Jewish programming from synagogues and interests of our youth have changed, that our agencies. I want leadership and vision and a time is spent differently, and thus, it would be powerful organized voice for our Jewish com- hoped, our agencies have also evolved accord- munity. But until the Federation can answer a By Ben Cohen is also true in politics. The "normalization" with a thoroughly abnormal Iran heralded by last summer's nuclear deal continues apace. "When in Rome, do as the Iianians do." Anyone who questions the wisdom of this That was the core message emerging fromstrategy will be labeled a "warmonger," or Iranian President Hassan Rouhani's visit to worse, a supporter of Israeli Prime Minister Europe this week, in a bid to boost trade rela- Benjamin Netanyahu. tions now that the sanctions related to Tehran's You see, whenever the Iranians demonstrate nuclear program have been lifted. Arriving tousthattheyviewourdemocracyandourway at Rome's venerable Capitoline Museum for a oLlife with contempt, there will be a chorus of meeting with his Italian counterpart, Mateo Western politicians and commentators who try Renzi, Rouhani was swiftly escorted past tochangethesubject, typicallybytalkingabout the museum's priceless collection of Roman the malicious designs of Israel's elected leader. statues, including many nudes that had been PresidentBarackObamahassetthestandardon covered up--yes, really--to avoid offending this one for the last eight years, and his media the sensibilities of a man frequently and falsely echo chamber dutifully follows. Hell, they'll even described as a "moderate." make stuff up if that's what's needed. It has, finally, come to this. Western lead- Take columnist J.J. Goldberg of the Forward ers--both in Europe and America--don't even newspaper. Ever since the nuclear dealwas an- blink when it comes to agreeing to the most nounced, Goldberghasbeentryingtopersuade outrageous demands ofIran's rulingtheocracy, his readers that the Israeli security establish- When our female politicians visit Iran, they ment thinks it's actually a great idea, only are compelled to wrap their heads with the Netanyahuwon'tpermitthemtosaysoopenly. hijab. But when Iranian politicians visit our So he hunts around looking for anything--an countries, we bow and scrape and now hide isolated quote, a bodily gesture, a suggestive those aspects of our Western culture that we pause--that might count as evidence that his should be unapologeticaIly proud about, beloved Obama is right about Iran. Those of us who haven't been blinded by Goldberg is now claiming that Lt.-Gen. the endless reassurances that Iran is now a Gadi Eizenkot, the chief of staff of the IDF, responsible international citizen will regard told a conference hosted by Israel's Institute this scandal as confirmation that the Tehran for National Security Studies that the nuclear regime is as fanatical as ever. And in kowtow- deal "has actually removed the most serious ing to an Islamist philistine like Rouhani, our danger to Israel's existence for the foreseeable leaders are doing a marvelous job of proving future, and greatly reduced the threat over the to the Iranians that when they say, "Jump," longerterm."Notewell:Thatphrasingbelongs we ask meekly, "How High?" What is true in the case of art and culture Cohen on page 15A THE VIEWS EXPRESSED ON THIS PAGE ARE NOT NECESSARILY THE VIEWS OF HERITAGE MANAGEMENT. CENTRAL FLORIDA'SINDEPENDENTJEWISHVOICE ISSN 0199-0721 Winner of 44 Press Awards HERITAGE Florida Jewish News (ISN 0199-0721) is published weekly for $37.95 per year to Florida ad- dresses ($46.95 for the rest of the U.S.) by HERITAGE Central Florida Jewish News, Inc., 207 O'Brien Road, Suite 101, Fern Park, FL 32730. Periodicals postage paid at Fern Park and additional mailing offices. POSTMASTER: Send address changes and other correspondence to: HERITAGE, P.O. Box 300742, Fern Park, FL 32730. MAILING ADDRESS PHONE NUMBER P.O. Box 300742 (407) 834-8787 Fern Park, FL 32730 FAX (407) 831-0507 email: Editor/Publisher Jeffrey Gaeser Editor Emeritus Associate Editor News Editor Gene Stare Kim Fischer Christine DeSouza Society Editor Bookkeeping Gloria Yousha Paulette Alfonso Account Executives Loft Apple Marci Gaeser Contributing Columnists Jim Shipley Ira Sharkansky David Bornstein Ed Ziegler Production Department David Lehman Gil Dombrosky Joyce Gore few basic questions, I see no reason to support a campaign that is based on an agenda of self- sustenance and little else. First question: why not sell the entire Jewish community campus and divvy up the proceeds? Or at the very least, as a cornerstone of the campaign, have the Jewish Academy move back into the space it once occupied at the J and sell its building? That immediately generates substantial cash for debt retirement. While I want a hub of Jewish life and activity for our community (and in fact my father was one of the key individuals who helped put the cam- pus property together), the question needs to be asked: is this necessary, or would we now be better off selling this valuable commodity and doing something different? Assume, for a moment, that the property has a value of 12 to 14 million dollars. With debt of 6 million dollars, the agencies walk away with enough money to begin again. The Federation only needs a few offices it can rent anywhere. The Jewish Academy could be run out of a myriad of facilities--a storefront, a commercial building, even the space at Congregation Ohev Shalom now utilized by a different private school. And Letter from Israel By Ira Sharkansky We've had another round of clamoring about who is responsible for the failure of Israelis and Palestinians to reach an agreement ending their disputes. There are two fronts in the recent verbiage. One consists of accusations by Mahmoud Abbas and Benyamin Netanyahu about one another's willingness to meet. Another concerns the prospect that a for- mer commander of the IDF, Gabi Ashkenazi, will enter politics as a moderate, and lead one or another party to make peace with the Palestinians. Both fronts are convoluted by other con- siderations, and we're likely to be at the same place when the dust settles. It's worth a bit of poking at the details to help clarify where we are, and where we ain't likely to be going. The Abbas-Netanyahu flap is marked with mutual accusations about who has rejected the possibility of talks. Mahmoud says that it is Bibi. Israeli opposition politicians are tak- ing advantage of the furor to say once again that Netanyahu is fixed in the status quo, and causing the country problems with Americans and Europeans as well as Palestinians. Against this, there are Israeli centrists as well as right- ists who cite Palestinian polls showing tl~at the weight of their public opinion in favor of violence, as well as a number of factions among Palestinians maneuvering to replace the moderate Abbas. It's easy to claim that Ab- bas isn't all that moderate. He praises martyrs who sacrifice themselves when attacking Jews, alongside his claims to oppose violence. Abbas has said once again that he can't accept the designation of Israel as a Jewish state without endangering Arabs, as shown by recent Israeli terror against Arabs. For Netanyahu, Palestinian recognition of Israel as a Jewish state is a prime demand for reaching an agreement. Netanyahu says that Israel's present thrust is not to keep knocking at Abbas' door, but to nurture contacts with moderate Arab govern- ments. The list features Saudi Arabia and Gulf Emirates, as well as Egypt and Jordan, all of whom are suspicious of Iran.. Israel has been warming things with the Kurds, perhaps as a swipe against Turkey's leadership. Bibi says that Israel's contacts with other Muslims may eventually bring Palestinians and Israelis closer together. Gabi Ashkenazi left his position as chief of the IDF General Staff five years ago under a cloud of media revelations and police investiga- tions involving his participation in a cabal of leading officers who worked against Defense Minister Ehud Barak and a prominent candi- date in line to replace Ashkenazi. The story has come to the headlines in several waves, with more fuzziness than clarity about who did what. The scandal focused on the impropriety of military personnel campaigning against deci- sions that were in the realm of their political superiors. It's been one of the "hot potatoes" of Israeli politics that the head prosecutor chose to avoid deciding. Prospects were that it would cause the prosecutor to go after Barak as well as Ash- the JCC? Well, it could take its millions and build a new facility to match its vision of what it needs to be to meet the needs of tomorrow's Jewish generation. And that leads to my second question. What is our community's vision, and in particular our agencies' visions, for tomorrow? What will a Jewish community look like that is so attractive my children will want to (or at least would consider) moving back here to raise their future families? I don't want to throw my support behind sustaining the same old same old stuff we've lived with for years. I want a diagram for the future. When these simple, straightforward questions are dealt with straightforwardly, I will do everything I can to support and promote a campaign that revitalizes and invigorates our Jewish lives. And I'd be willing to help create that vision, as would many people I know (though it must be led by those much younger than myself). But until I do, I'm sitting back and waiting, and watching, and hoping you do the same. And that's the good word (or is it?). Feel free to send your comments to the Heritage, or write me at ea kenazi, even though some of Barak's records had been erased. (Remember Nixon's tapes?) Finally, however, the prosecutor announced that there was no evidence justifying criminal charges against Ashkenazi and several others. At the same time, he also noted that Ashkenazi and colleagues had not acted properly, in the manner expected of senior IDF personnel. The qualified decision to close the prospect of a criminal.charge has opened the competi- tion between several political parties to woe Ashkenazi. Ashkenazi has a charismatic pres- ence, said to have been a "general's general" and among the most popular of men to have headed the tDF. Supporters say that he is moderate on the issue of Palestine, and capable of leading the government to a breakthrough on issues of peace. On the other hand, he hasn't said much in public, and his behavior' as head of the IDF will open him to tough charges by those who oppose him. Askenazi also has an active wife, who was mentioned as participating in the cabal of generals. Few Israeli politicians act like Americans in making a big deal about their families, and most spouses are invisible. Not Sarah Netanyahu and not Ronit Ashkenazi. Yet Sarah is more a cause of public comment than an actual detriment to her husband's career. So Ronit" may likelwise figure more in media gossip than in derailing whatever becomes of Gabi. Several polls taken within, a day of the prosecutor's announcement of closing the file against Ashkenazi and the efforts of several parties to recruit him show mixed results. One poll indicates that Ashkenazi running along with Kahlon and Lapid could overcome Bibi and Likud. Working against this combine, however, is the general Ashkenazi conspired against. %av Galant, is now a government minister, and a ranking Knesset Member of Kahlon's party. Other polls indicate that Ashkenazi would not add enough weight to any grouping to over- come the popularity of Benyamin Netanyahu. It's early days. We still haven't heard from Ashkenazi, so we cannot know how he would stand up to the open fires of political com- petition. It is also doubtful that Ashkenazi holds a magic bullet that will bring peace. None of his advocates has been able to iden- tify a likely partner among the Palestinians. With the exception of leftists who see the lack of progress as entirely the fault of Israel, those hopeful of some solution are saying that the Palestinians have to produce a leader who can move from old demands, deal with the various centers of violent opposition within their community. Only then can such a Palestinian and an Israeli inclined to accommodation meet somewhere that could be called "halfway" or "part way" between the opposing positions that leaders of each side has clung to as the rest of us have grown older. Comments welcome. Ira Sharkansky (Emeritus), Department of Political Science, Hebrew University of Jerusalem, irashark@