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February 13, 2009

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HERITAGE FLORIDA JEWISH NEWS, FEBRUARY 13, 2009 Chavez From page 1A 2009 would people seek that information? You know and we know, and we have to say 'no' by our presence and by our voices." Kliksberg said the Venezu- elan Jewish community feels lonely and its members no longer trust the government to protect it. Many believe they are being presented with a choice: their religious heritage or their country. "For the first time in their lives in Venezuela, they are being asked to decide," Kliksberg said. "And that's not fair." On Sunday, Feb. 1, Chavez condemned the attack, sug- gesting it was orchestrated by his political opponents. But the president's attitude toward Venezuela's tiny Jew- ish community--estimated at approximately 12,000 in a country of about 28 million, and steadily on the decline since his 1998 election--has been a source of concern since at least 2005. That year, Chavez warned that"descendants of the same ones that crucified Christ" are in control of the world's wealth. The speech was wide- ly derided as anti-Semitic, though some, including the umbrella organization of Venezuelan Jewry, said Chavez was misinterpreted. Since then, the commu- nity's position has grown increasingly precarious. Last month, a rabbi report- edly was attacked in Caracas. Several synagogues have been vandalized. And even a production of "Fiddler on the Roof" was threatened with a boycott, according to theAnti-Defamation League, which has produced two re- ports on rising anti-Semitism in Venezuela. Chavez also has forged a close alliance with Ira- nian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad and denounced Israel's recent military opera- tion in Gaza in terms more strident than many Arab countries. In the weeks since Israel launched its attack on Hamas in late December, Jewish community leaders in Vene- zuela have complained about the heated rhetoric from government officials. Chavez called Israel's government "genocidal" and the govern- ment media accused Israel of "imperialistic arrogance," according to a presentation delivered last month to the plenary of the World Jewish Congress in Jerusalem. WJC officials met with Chavez in Caracas in August. Following the meeting, the president of the Latin Ameri- can Jewish Congress, Jack Terpins, described Chavez as "a great friend." As of Tuesday, the WJC had remained mum on the synagogue attack, but its secretary-general, Michael Schneider, had told JTA on Monday, Feb. 2 that he was heading for Caracas that day to confer with local community leaders. Other Jewish communal officials were not so reticent. In news releases and ap- pearances at the New York rally, they fingered Chavez as responsible for the syna- gogue attack and urged him to bring those responsible to justice. "We have a message for the president of Venezuela," vet- eran activist Rabbi Avi Weiss intoned at the rally. "When you create an atmosphere of anti-Semitism, when your language is a language which is anti-Israel and anti-Jewish, you create the climate that PAGE 19A makes these attacks possible. And to the president of Ven- ezuela we proclaim, we hold you accountable." As video footage of Chavez played on avideo screen and a bust of Venezuelan indepen- dence hero Simon Bolivar stared out at the crowd from behind the consulate's glass windows, several hundred protesters decried the attack and chanted"NeverAgain" in English and Spanish. Meanwhile, in Washing- ton, U.S. Rep. Eliot Engel (D- N. Y.) was asking colleagues to sign a letter to Chavez that accused the president of a "calculated campaign of fear and intimidation" against the Jewish community in Venezuela. JFGO From page 1A Group of Chai will be the "kitchen cabinet" where the leaders of the community sit to identify needs and develop resources to meet those needs. The formation of the Group of Chai stems in part from the recommendations of the Blue Ribbon Committee, which engaged community leaders about the future of the Federation. The board of directors of JFGO is in the process of restructuring the organization with input from the entire community. The mission of the Federa- tion is to provide the resourc- es, planning and commitment necessary to promote Jewish identity and strengthen Jew- ish life in Central Florida, Israel and throughout the world. For more information about the Jewish Federation of Greater Orlando, contact Freely Katz at 407-645-5933 or HMREC From page 1A saddened and scared, and we can scream 'never again.' but you will not be able to claim you are shocked. The directors bring you face to face, and face to mask, with the victims and the demons of the modern anti-Semitism in Europe." This program is supported through grants from the Jewish Federation of Greater Orlando and the Darden Restaurants Foundation. This project is also funded by the UnitedArts of Central Florida. Inc., State of Florida, Depart- ment of State--Division of Cultural Affairs, Florida Arts Council and National Endow- ment for the Arts. For more information call 407-628-0555. Miami From page 3A ment Jewish organizations to demand that the rescue of Europe's Jews from Hitler's Europe become a top prior- ity for American Jews. But the more successful Bergson became in attracting support from important non-Jewish members of Congress and Hollywood celebrities like Ben Hecht, Edward G. Robinson and Paul Muni, the more threatened and resentful the establishment leaders became. Event co-chairs are Robert Danial, Mel Dick, Fanny Ha- nono and Ezra Katz. The Simon Wiesenthal Center is an international Jewish human rights or- ganization with more than 400,000 member families. It is an NGO at international agencies, including the United Nations, UNESCO, the Or- ganization for Security and Cooperation in Europe, and the Council of Europe. Its Moriah documentary film division has been the recipient of two Academy Awards for Best Documentary Feature: "Genocide" (1980) and "The Long Way Home" (1997). For more information, con- tact Linda Slavin, the Center's Southern Region Director, at 800-262-1627 or lslavin@ Hier From page 4A itz; former Canadian Justice Minister Irwin Cotler; the chairman of AIPAC's board, Howard Friedman; respected journalist Ehud Ya'ari; and a former adviser to the late Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin, Eitan Haber. (Visit http:// to see all videotaped endorsements.) It is important to under- Egypt From page 5A Arab world, in Iran and in Egypt itself. The secretary general of Hezbollah, Hassan Nasrallah, called on Egyptians to take to the streets. Iran protested vehemently. In Aden, Yemeni protesters stormed the Egyptian consulate in a show of anger. Thousands of Egyptians took part in demonstrations, but they were kept in check by the police. Having seen photographs in newspapers and images on television of Mubarak shaking hands with Livni on the eve of the war, they were incensed by the be- lief that Egypt was complicit in Israel's offensive and was Farming From page 10A the land of Israel 2,000 years ago. I've not only become more of a Jewish farmer, I understand more of what it means to be a Jew." The Jewish philanthropic community is starting to take notice. Since 2005, the Jewish Farm School has run workshops on urban sustainability in Philadelphia and led organic gardening programs at Sur- stand that the court's findings clearly indicate that its deci- sion was moral as well as legal. "The importance and ben- efit of... the plan to build the Museum of Tolerance in the center of the city of Jerusalem are very great," the court said. It said the museum "embod- ies an ideal of establishing a spiritual center that will spread a message of human tolerance between peoples" and that the location "has special significance" in a city "for three religions and an an- cient history, which is unique to human civilization." The museum site has been a public facility since 1960. It will never return to what it may have been 300 years ago. See- ing millions of people, young and old, Jews and non-Jews, arriving there to immerse themselves in the principles eager to inflict heavy blows on Hamas. Cairo's decision to keep its Rafah border crossing with Gaza virtually closed was also controversial. It aroused widespread indigna- tion and was largely regarded as an unfriendly act abetting Israel's siege of Gaza. Israel imposed the blockade after Hamas' victory in the 2006 parliamentary elections in the Palestinian territories. The president of Syria, Bashar Assad, urged Egypt to open the crossing, but aside from allowing a trickle of wounded Palestinians to en- ter, Egypt kept it firmly shut. Mubarak announced that the crossing would not be fully opened unless the president of the Palestinian Authority, Mahmoud Abbas, was fully in charge of it on the Gaza side. Fearing the spectre of Islamic fundamentalism, which convulsed Egypt in the 1990s, the Egyptian regime has consistently supported Fatah in its struggle with Hamas. Egypt's position is reflec- tive of deep-seated fissures in the Muslim world. During Israel's offensive, Egypt and its allies, notably Jordan and Saudi Arabia, were critical of Hamas. But Syria and Iran, which have supplied Hamas with arms and training, backed it to the hilt. prise Lake Camp. In June, the school's farming program will take up permanent residence in Putnam Valley, N.Y., sharing the site with a new eco-Jewish summer camp. Its partner, Eden Village Camp, received a grant from the Foundation for Jewish Camping and the Jim Joseph Foundation. Across the board, Jewish environmental and farm- education initiatives are enjoying similar increased interest. "Today we are being sup- ported by the Jewish commu- nity," says Simcha Schwartz, 30, who co-founded the Jewish Farm School with a $2,000 Hazon grant. Schwartz in five or six years hopes to establish an agriculturally based Jewish high school at the new site. "We don't all need to be farmers," he says. "To have farming be a little part of ev- ery Jewish person's life, that's our goal." of mutual respect and social responsibility, is the very best kind of public-use facility that Jerusalem and the State of Israel needs at this time. Rabbi Marvin Hier is the founder and dean of the Si- mon Wiesenthal Center and its Museum of Tolerance. Help Wanted Advertising Sales Full or Part Time Call Jeff at 407-834-8787