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February 22, 2008

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HERITAGE FLORIDA JEWISH NEWS, FEBRUARY 22, 2008 VIE HERITAGE encourages readers to sendin their opinions for the Viewpoint column. They must be signed; how- ever, names will be withheld upon request. Due to space limitations, we reserve the right to edit, if necessary. Opinions printed in Viewpoint do not necessarily reflect the opinions of the paper. Israel is the issue DavidBornstein'sassertion their State Departments have [in the Feb. 8 issue] that"The exerted significant pressures Israel issue is a non-issue, upon Israel to further their for whoever gets elected will owndefinedpurposes.Jimmy be there when it counts for Carter, themanwhobrokered Eretz Israel," suggests the the peace between Sadat and need to look back at recent Begin, now extols vehement U.S.history. In fact, allrecent, pro-Palestinian, anti-Israel pro-Israel presidents and views. In the first Iraq War, Bush One's determined need to protect the integrity of his Arab coalition required the strong-arming of Israel into military non-response, while missiles dropped on its cit- ies. Bill Clinton's Secretary of State, Madeline Albright, literally chased after Arafat at Camp David, in an effort to obtain a terribly lopsided peace accord in exchange for Palestinian statehood. Whose legacy and best interests were at stake in that fiasco? Presi- dent Bush ~vo was the only president to recognize Arafat as a terrorist, and refused to deal with him. Now, for sake of his own legacy, his admin- istration is placing pressure on Israel to participate in a "roadmap" that has no chance of practical success. Politicians' avowed sup- port for Israel is the result of the efforts of Jewish ac- tivists' involvement in the U.S. political process. The pro-Israel statements issued by the presidential candi- dates evolved because of the political strength, influence and credibility of the pro- Israel electorate. As a result, no candidate for president is going to suggest anything but unwavering support for Israel. To do otherwise would invite political annihilation; not only from the Jewish voters, but from a very significant pro-Zionist Christian contin- gent. Notwithstanding, the Jewish electorate must look beyond the candidates' obvi- ous statements and deeply vet the true depth of their com- mitments. Once defined, that candidate must receive our support, overriding any and all other issues. World Jewry cannot afford a mistake in that decision. The results could be catastrophic. U.S. domestic policy posi- tions tend to swing with a pendulum-like gravity: some- times to the political right; sometimes to the political left. Within our system, one man's radical thought is another man's moderate position. Over time, the system has always found some level of appropri- ate balance. Mr. Bornstein's PAGE 5A focus on" the environment, the rights of women and mi- norities, health care and social justice :" is not misplaced. These issues will find their appropriate levels at given times, reflecting the prevail- ing political winds. However, unlike Israel's survival, these are not life and death issues. A miscalculation by our next president regarding Israel's security, including issues far beyond Israel's borders, could cause irreparable dam- age. American Jewish voters must consider a presidential candidate's true position toward support for Israel, as the primary issue. Howard B. Lefkowitz Winter Park By Andrew Silow-Carroll Obama: "His off-the-cuff re- his pro-Israel pals give him a New Jersey Jewish News marks have been uniformly hechsher, they have ulterior taken by supporters of Israel motives: I can think of a lot of ques- as signs that the inner Obama But at least Lasky is high- tions Jews ask themselves as doesnottrulysupportIsraelde- minded, unlike the anonymous theyenteravotingbooth.Since spitewhathis canned speeches author of the e-mail saying when did one of them become, and essays may contain." ObamaisadosetMuslimintent "How would Ed Lasky vote?" Uniformly?Really?Well, not on waging jihad from 1600 Laskyistheauthorofawide- re~ly, because Lasky later de- Pennsylvania Avenue. High- ly--and wildly forwarded scr~esthevariousJewish (and minded Lasky dismisses those article that first appeared in unassailably pro-Israel)mem- accusations as "overheated the (modestly named) Ameri- bets of Congress who vouch for and unfair." "Still," he writes can Thinker, the conservative Obama'spro-Israelcredentials, in the very next sentence, "his blog where he is listed as news including Steve Rothman (D- full name alone conveys the editor. N.J.), Robert Wexler (D-Fla.), biographical fact that he has The lengthyartidequestions and Adam Schiff (D-Calif.). some elements of a Muslim Barack Obama's pro-Israel Faced with this internal background." credentials, in an argument inconsistency, Lasky avers that I love that"Still." that ranges from troubling theirstampsofappmval"might A Google search turns up (How close IS Obarna to his be met with some skepticism." nothingaboutEdLaskyexcept problematicpastor?),totenden- After all, Obama may well be what I can glean from his list tious (Is calling for withdrawal thenextpresident, and"itnever of articles for the American from Iraq ipso facto an anti- hurts to have a friend in the Thb~er. He's pro-Bush, anti- Israel position?), to just plain White House." liberal media, pro-military, underhanded (Obama didn't Likewise, when Obama in- and strongly pro-Israel. But support John Bolton as U.N. troduces the Iran Divestment "pro-Israel,"like"conservative" ambassador. John BoRon is Bill (along with Jewish Demo- or "vegetarian," is a word that pro-Israel. Therefore, Obama cratic Reps. Barney Frank and tends to obscure the variety is anti-Israel. Q.E.D.) the late Tom Lantos), Lasky within the community it sup- Lasky'sarticleis acase study suspects "that Obama signed posedly describes. Basedon his in the techniques of blog po- onasaco-sponsorforprotective writings, Lasky is the kind of lemics. Carefully "annotated" coloration." pro-Israelthatresistsdipi0mat- with Web links, it is also given In otherwords,when Obama ic pressure on the Israelis, does to sweeping and overreaching does something pro-Israel, it's notseethesettlermovementas statements like this about proof that he's anti-. When an obstacle to anything, and By HowardRieger hood and Jewish identity President, CEO of United is focusing on initiatives to Jewish Communities galvanize the community, especially the next genera- Asthepoliticalseasonheats tion, and ideas to inspire and up, "change" has become the re-energize the community new buzzword among presi- to build and sustain itself well dential candidates vying for intothefuture.Workwillfocus their parties' nominations, on the manner in which some While they duke it out on of these approaches might be the campaign trail, we at brandedthroughacontinentai United Jewish Communities resource development effort. have quietly been working to Indeed, this work is just one transform the way the North part of UJC's new, overarching American Jewish Federation strategic plan--launched in systemoperates--cognizantof June--the components of thoseareasinwhichwe'vebeen which are intended to revital- successful as well those where ize our fundraisingcapacityas we must adapt and grow. we look to meet the challenges Our bedrock values--the of the 21st century. The plan principles of social justice calls for establishing a new and human rights that define Center for Jewish Philan- the Jewish people--remain thropy; developing a strategic strong. Still, as the Jewish fundraising model for federa- community changes, so, too, tions;attractingyounger Jews will we. and maintaining them among In 2007, UJC embarked our donor ranks; deepening on a major strategic market our ties with the federations; research initiative for the andidentifyingandsupporting continentalfederationsystem, efforts aimed at enhancing aimed at determining how Jewish identity. federations can best position uJc also is reorganizing themselves as a consistent internally in order to better and compelling brand that accomplish our ambitious resonates with an ever-more missionofhelpingJewsinneed mobileandunaffiliatedJewish around the world. We are re- population. We are gearing structuringinawaythatallows up to launch a full study next ustoworkmoreefficientlyand month that will represent a to more effectively integrate significant turning point for different areas: from enhanc- the federation system, ing community fundraising Work in the area of people- capacity to global operations affecting our work in Israel and elsewhere overseas. We are also aiming to work more collaboratively and strategically with our main overseas partner organiza- tions-the Jewish Agency for Israel and the American Jewish Joint Distribution Commit- tee--for whom we provided major funding, more than $410 million in 2007 alone. That said, UJC's successes have been remarkable by any measurable standard. As demographer Gary Tobin recently noted, the UJC/Fed- eration system is "the single largest fund-raising effort in American Jewish life -- noth- ing else comes even close." We are incredibly proud of our long history of accornplishments and we intend to build on them. Last year alone, the UJC/ Federation system raised $2.4 billion to help Jewish people in need around the world. Last year our Annual Campaign climbed to $900 million, our endowment and planned giv- ing portfolio exceeded ~;13 billion, supporting more than $1 billion in programs, and we continue to provide a huge array of emergency programs from the New Orleans Gulf Coast to Sderot in Israel. We also provide a powerful voice for our federation system in our nation's capital, where we again secured tens of mil- believes anything less than bombing Iran is tantamount to appeasement. That there are other ways of "being pro-Israel" may occur to Lasky, but they, too, are to be met with some skepticism. One of his targets is Mideast expert Scott Lasensky, described by Lasky as a foreign policy adviser to Obama. Among Lasensky's black marks, writes Lasky, is that he has been "hosted" by Brit Tzedek v'Shalom ai~d Americans for Peace Now, "both of which groups have been highly critical of Israel over the years." Unlike, say, the Likud Party. My point is neither to defend Obama nor excoriate Lasky, but to ask how American Jews make up their minds. I don't blame what the National Jew- ish Democratic Council calls a "right-wing attack machine" for the Lasky piece. I blame the Jews who accept a dearly ideologically driven essay as the "truth" about Obama, and simply hit "forward" on their e-mail. No doubt some of the folks in the e-mail chain share Lasky's politics, but I wonder about the credulity ofthosewho lions of dollars in government aid for programs such as home - land security aid for high-risk nonprofits like federations, for naturally occurring re- tirement communities and for family caregiver support networks. We have done so much over the years to help Jews in need around the world--but we are realizing a vision in order to do even more. That may require some changes, but they're exciting changes that most of us support. Yes, change often presents challenges, and there are always those within every orga- nization who resist change. But we see transformation asa vital opportunity that will help our entire community better prepare for the future. As we see it, the true mark of our success will lie not in a measure of how well our com- munity has done--though we're certainly proud of our accomplishments--but in our ability to be forward-looking, to make an honest appraisal of our current challenges and opportunities, and to adapt to the ever-fluid, shifting situa- tion on the ground. Indeed, as we venture forth into the 21st century, the future of world Jewry depends on our community's ability to meet these challenges head-on. To change. don't. To coin a phrase, would you buy a used argument from this man? I'm not saying we shouldn't challenge the candidates on Israel, or anything else. And Obamais notabove beingasked the tough questions. But don't check your critical thinking at the door when someone sends you and his 300 dosest friends an e-mail. Check the sources. Find opposing viewpoints. Challenge the conclusions. Ask just what the author means by "pro-Israel."" (A good place to start is the indispensable blog of Shmuel Rosner, the Washington cor- respondent for Ha'aretz. Rosner has assembled a panel of'eight ideologically diverse Israelis who regularly rank the candi- dates on a scale from "Worst for Israel" to "Best for Israel." Clinton and McCain are run- ning neck and neck; Obama lags behind.) And if you must forward a mass e-mail? Then please put a strong message in the subject line, like "you have to read this!" or "IMPORTANT INFORMATION!" That way I absolutely know to hit "delete." Andrew Silow-Carroll is edi- tor-in-chief of the New Jersey Jewish News. He b logs at njjew- Tobin From page 4A hope thatthe Catholic Church never chooses to deviate from the path of John Paul II, it is not for Jews to tell Catholics what to say in their prayers, any more than it is legitimate for them to go back to trying to censor the Jewish liturgy as they once did. Respect is a two-way street. Rather than seek to turn Benedict's revival of the Tri- dentine mass into a major is- sue, what we need to to do is to stop worrying about Catholic prayers, and instead continue the work of bringing the two faiths closer together in de- fense of Western freedoms. This a moment in history when the greatest challenge to religious freedom is not coming from the traditional sources of reaction within Christianity, suchas those that sought to punish Nahmanides for defending Judaism at Bar- celona. Instead, our challenge comes from forces within islam that have already sought to censor the beliefs of Pope Benedict for defending the West. Their goal is to dismantle the entire edifice of tolerance that Jews and Christians have worked so hard to create. Given that reality, this is not the time to pick fights over other people's prayers. Jonathan S. Tobin is ex- ecutive editor of the Jewish Exponent in Philadelphia. He can be contacted via e-mail at: flob NOW YOtJ IT NOW YO0 DOWT' MJ(E TN AT GICALLY PROM ' PRI R ! unvw.drybonesbloo om