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February 15, 2013

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PAGE 2A HERITAGE FLORIDA JEWISH NEWS, FEBRUARY 15, 2013 Meet Brian Bendis, the man who killed Spiderman By Michael Orbach NEWYORK (JTA)--Spider- man heroically dispatched countless foes since he arrived on the scene in 1962. Nearly a half-century later, Brian Michael Bendis man- aged to kill him. In 2000, Bendis was hired to write Ultimate Spiderman, a modern-day retelling of the classic Spiderman story. More than 10 years, 160 issues and several blockbuster Holly- wood adaptations later, Bendis did the unthinkable, killing off the superhero's famous alter ego, Peter Parker, and replac- ing him with a half-black, half-Hispanic 13-year-old named Miles Morales. The change received na- tional attention. Glenn Beck said Morales looked like Presi- dent Barack Obama--and not in a good way. Lou Dobbs didn't like the change either, Luigi Novi/Creative Commons "Ultimate Spider-Man" writer Brian Bendis at a book signing at a comic bookshop in New York City, 2010. prompting Jon Stewart to quip that Morales represented Dobbs' worst nightmare: "a Latino that can climb walls." But Bendis is unrepentant. "Marvel is a representation of the real world," Bendis explained from his home in Portland, Ore. "The Marvel Universe takes place in New York. Miles lives in Brook- lyn--it's actually Brooklyn. That's a huge difference going back to my time as a crime writer. The city becomes a character you're writing about." Bendis, 45, may be the most important comic book writer working today. He helped re-launch the Daredevil, Spiderman and the Avengers franchises, and his titles typi- cally sell more than 100,000 copies, making him among the most popular comic book writers in the world. "Brian is a unique and im- portant voice in modern com- ics," said Danny Fingeroth, a Iongtime Marvel editor and the author of "The Stan Lee Universe." "He displays a Courtesy Marvel Comics Left to right, the final issue of the "Ultimate Spider-Man" featuring Peter Parker and the first issue featuring Miles Morales. 0 profound understanding of, and respect for, the histories of the characters and their universe, but understands that they have to be updated for a modern readership." Raised by a single mother in Cleveland, Bendis attended an Orthodox day school and discovered comic books as an adolescent. "I studied them like the Smuggling sperm from Israeli jails? and sisters-in-law didn't have any men to take care of us," the happy mother told The Media Line. The couple had two teenage daughters before Ammar was arrested. In a blue-decorated room filled with flowers and balloons, relatives shed tears of joy as they looked at the baby Muhammad--named after a friend of Ammar's killed by the Israeli army in 2002--and his mother. Ammar met his son a few weeks after his birth through a Red Cross family visit, al- though some prisoners are denied such visits for what Israel calls "security reasons." Most Palestinian prisoners' wives decide to stay with their husbands despite knowing they might never live together forced to come up with a solu- tion if they wanted to have a family. At a press conference in Nablus [last] week, the head of the Razan Infertility Center Doctor Salim Abu Khaizaran said"Muhammadisaturning point in the lives of Palestin- ian detainees. I receive daily calls from detainees' families asking us to do it." Indeed there are more that 40 detainees' sperm samples at the center. He said many of the wives are awaiting results or a turn for the wives to be inseminated. Sources told The Media Line the samples were de- livered in a secure way to ensure that they belong to the husband, while doctors said the sperm was sneaked out in a complicated process they don't want to expose. Israeli officials cast doubt on the veracity of the Palestin- ian claims. "The prison service id doubtful about the women's technical ability to smuggle sperm and then use it as it is being claimed," Sivan Wayzman, the Israeli spokes- woman of the Prison Service told The Media Line. "There are limitations on prisoners and security procedures sur- rounding the visit. She said that husbands and wives are not allowed any physical contact during the 45-minute visit. Only in the last 10 minutes are children under age eight allowed to physically touch their fathers. She also said the women travel on Red Cross buses for several hours, and sperm must be frozen quickly if it is to remain viable. In contrast, Wayzman said, Jewish prisoners are allowed conjugal visits "every few weeks." In cases where con- jugal visits are not permitted, inmates may father a child by Invitro fertilization. Al-Zaben's dream of a child was six years in the making, coming true when she became the first Palestinian woman to deliver a baby this way. The sperm ofherhusbandAmmar, serving 27 life sentences for charges of being affiliated with Hamas, was smuggled out of prison in 2006, and doctors froze the sample. "My husband's brother died, and his two sisters got married. Me, my daughters By Diana Atallah The Media Line RAMALLAH--Six-month- old Muhamad AI-Zaben is already a celebrity among Palestinians, the so-called "FreedomAmbassador". He is the result of smuggled sperm his father Ammar transferred to his mother Dalai during a prison visit in 2006. Now a Palestinian fertility specialist says four other Palestinian women have become pregnant using similar secret methods, as security prisoners and their wives find a way to become parents while the father is still behind bars. Faced with a ban against conjugal visits, the prisoners, accused of attacks against Israelis, and their wives were Torah," he said. "I memorized the ads. At 5, I literally stood on the sofa and said 'I will be the artist on Spiderman.'" Like others drawn to stories of caped crusaders and mega- muscled heroes, Bendis was searching for a stand-in for his absentee father. Stan Lee, the Jewish co-creator of Spider- man and other comic book heroes, became something of a father figure for him. But the rabbis who taught him as a child weren't too fond of Bendis' hobby, fearing that his penchant for drawing men in tights indicated he might be gay. "I would just start drawing without thinking and [sud- denly] it's a bunch of naked guys and I'd get sent home," Bendis said. After high school, Bendis attended the Cleveland Insti- Spiderman on page 19A as a couple. Few wives in fami- lies with children seek divorce. Staying together is seen as an act of loyalty to someone fight- ing for the cause, but prison- ers' families often give their daughters-in-law a choice between leaving or, if they have no children, waiting for their husbands' release. Those who stay together seek ways to keep their marriages alive. Such was the case with Lidia Rimawi, who told her husband about her wish to have a baby after she heard about AI-Zaben's story. "He was surprised but asked for more time to think," she told The Media Line. Rimawi, 35, also heard her biological clock ticking, Smuggling on page 19A In SodaStream boycott push, Palestinians may be the victims By Ben Sales MAALE ADUMIM, West Bank (JTA)--For proponents of the Boycott, Divestment, Sanctions movement, SodaS- tream would appear to be a straightforward target. The Israeli company, which sells a popular kitchen gadget that turns tap water into car- bonated drinks, has a large factory in a West Bank settle- ment. When SodaStream announced that it would run an ad during the Super Bowl, the pro-Palestinian boycott campaign against the com- pany reached a fever pitch. But for hundreds of Pal- estinians, SodaStream isn't a target; it's their employer. On a recent afternoon, women wearing hijabs hur- ried to their shifts at the plant located in Ma'ale Adumin, a suburban settlement about 15 minutes west of Jerusa- lem. Some 500 West Bank Palestinians work at the site, in addition to 400 Arabs from eastern Jerusalem and a mix of 200 Israeli Jews and foreign workers, including refugees from Africa. The Maale Adumim factory has an on-site mosque and a synagogue, and Jewish and Arab employees share the same dining hall. SodaS- tream has two other facilities in Israel, in Ashkelon and the Galilee town of Mount Tabor. .The Galilee factory employs several hundred IsraeliArabs. i SodaStream/YouTube Scene from the SodaStream Super Bowl commercial that CBS opted not to air. "Everyone works together: Palestinians, Russians, Jews," a Palestinian employee named Rasim at the Maale Adumim site told JTA. Rasim has worked at the plant for four months and asked that his last name not be published. "Everything is OK. I always work with Jews. Everyone works together, so of course we're friends." For SodaStream CEO Dan- iel Birnbaum, treating Arabs and Jews equally is a doctrine, not a convenience. "We practice equality and full cooperation both on the job and off it," Birnbaum told the Arab publication AI Monitor in a recent interview. When he was invited to the Israeli president's residence recently to receive an award, Birnbaum brought with him a few Palestinian employees and insisted on undergoing the same rigorous security checks to which they were subjected, Birnbaum told AI Monitor. When it came time for Birnbaum's speech, he broke with protocol and publicly upbraided his host, President Shimon Peres, for the unequal treatment that his Palestinian work- ers had received, including strip searches down to their underwear. "We are committed to con- tinue serving as a bridge and to sowing hope," Birnbaum said in his speech. "Who knows as well as you, Mr. Peres, how important it is to remain optimistic that one day there will be peace?" SodaStream's case, some say, is one example of how boy- cotting an Israeli company doing business in the West Bank can end up hurting the very goals that boycott propo- nents say they are trying to achieve: Palestinian rights and Israel-Palestinian peace. "The SodaStream situation is extremely complicated because it's a clear case of where the owners are mak- ing real efforts to engage the Palestinian workers with fair wages and in management positions," said Kenneth Bob, president of the liberal Zionist group Ameinu, which supports the establishment Yossi Zamir/Flash90/JTA The SodaStream headquarters in Ma'ale Adumim, Israel. of a Palestinian state in the West Bank but still opposes boycotts of settlement prod- ucts. "At the same time, it does on some level strengthen the occupation because it's a factory over the Green Line," the boundary between Israel and the West Bank. Advocates of BDS say sup- porting SodaStream amounts to supporting Israel's occupa- tion of the West Bank and that boycotting the company is an effective way to support Pal- estinian national aspirations. "In the absence of global and international political pressure for Israel to abide by international law, BDS hopes to use nonviolent pressure to get Israel to stop the occupa- tion," said Kristin Szremski, a spokeswoman for the Inter- faith Boycott Committee, a pro-BDS group. "The boycott of SodaStream felt like it was a great opportunity to raise awareness about settlements and thwart SodaStream's ef- fort to get into the American market." Szremski dismissed the argument that hurting So- daStream could hurt the livelihood of Palestinians, calling it "away to obfuscate" the issue. "The point is not just to make SodaStream go out of business," Szremski told JTA. "Were there no settlements to begin with, Palestinians could be working their own lands. The fact that a worker goes to work every day does not indicate that it is a good thing." Another Palestinian work- er at SodaStream's West Bank site, who gave his name as Mmdoh, said politics don't enter the workplace. "We don't get into that," said Mmdoh, 34. "I feel nor- mal. I don't have conversa- tions about it." For its part, SodaStream sees growth on the horizon. Its Super Bowl ad cost about $3.7 million, according to Ad Age, and won notice not just for its exploding bottles of brand-name sodas, but because a version of the ad highlighting digs at Pepsi and Coca-Cola was rejected by CBS, which broadcast the game.