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February 29, 2008

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PAGE 2A HERITAGE FLORIDA JEWISH NEWS, FEBRUARY 20, 2008 JTA Weekly Summary Following are Jewish Telegraphic Agency's news briefs for Tuesday, February 26, 2007. Iran must pay for '92 bombing A U.S. judge ordered Iran to pay $33 million to the family of a U.S.-born Israeli diplomat killed in a 1992 bombing. In a ruling Monday, U.S. District Judge Ellen Segal Huvelle held Iran liable for the attack on the Israeli Embassy in Argentina. which killed 29 people, includ- ing diplomat David Ben-Rafael. Iran's Lebanese proxy militia, Hezbollah, took responsibility for the bombing. The ruling is one of a string in recent years holding Iran responsible for Hamas- or Hezbollah-orchestrated terrorist attacks against Americans. Iran has refused to acknowledge or comply with the rulings, which have resulted from .default judgments in the absence of an Iranian defense. Plaintiffs have sought to seize Iranian assets in the United States and Europe to collect on their judgments, albeit with limited success. Last September, a federal judge ruled that Iran must pay $2.65 billion to the families of the 241 U.S. service members killed in the 1983 bombing of the U.S. Marines barracks in Beirut. British Muslims eye better ties with Jews Muslim leaders in the United Kingdom issued an un- precedented appeal to world Jewry for closer relations. In a letter generated by the Muslim-Jewish study center at the WoolfInstitute of Abrahamic Faiths in Cambridge, England, Muslim scholars acknowledged the gap in understanding that exists today between Jews and Muslims. and asked Jew- ish leaders to help them bridge it. Sheik Michael Mumisa. a lecturer at the Woolf Institute, described the letter as the first in modern times sent to the Jewish community with the backing of scholars and Muslim leaders. "The message in this letter conveys to the Jewish community a genuine desire for mutual respect, for dialogue and deeper understanding," he said The letter to the world's Jewish community, Mumisa said, is"acall for positive and construc- tive action that aims to improve Muslim-Jewish relations." Signators include Professor Akbar Ahmed, the chair of Islamic Studies at American University in Washington. The letter notes that Judaism and Islam share core doctrinal beliefs, the most important of which is strict monotheism. That theological conjoining should in itself dictate greater communication, the signators urged. Jonathan Sacks. the chief rabbi of Great Britain, apparently has seen a copy of the letter. His response and those from other Jewish leaders are expected soon. The letter's aim. according to the Woolf Institute, is to show that Muslims are willing to engage in dialogue with the Jewish community about issues other than the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. By Ron Kampeas WASHINGTON (JTA)-- Even as U.S. Sen. Barack Obama (D-Ill.) solidified his status as the Democratic front-runner with victories last Tuesday in Wisconsin and Hawaii, he is facing a new line of attack from some Jewish circles regarding his advisers on foreign policy. In recent weeks, writ- ers associated with several right-wing media outlets have taken aim at what they describe as anti-Israel voices advising Obama on Middle East issues, spurring a rash of mass e-mails voicing similar concerns. Among those cited by crit- ics are Zbigniew Brzezinski, the national security adviser in the Carter administration; Samantha Power, a Pulit- zer Prize-winning author and lecturer at the John F. Kennedy School of Govern- ment of Harvard University; Robert Malley, an adviser on Israeli-Arab affairs during the Clinton administration: and George Soros. an inter- national financier who has funded pro-democracy efforts throughout Europe and in recent years became a major supporter of the Democratic Party in the United States. Fairly or unfairly, each has been on the receiving end of criticism from some pro-Israel activists or Jewish groups over positions viewed as being hos- tile to the Jewish state. The Obama campaign acknowledgesthat it has received advice from the people named in the negative e-mail campaign, describ- ing the meetings with these individuals as a product of Obama's "'one America" phi- losophy of reaching out to all Americans. But. in the end, campaign officials say, the candidate should be assessed according to his own votes and state- ments. Besides. they add, the personalities in question do not play any formal role in ad- vising Obama on Middle East issues. That task, they say, falls to a collection of policy experts in good standingwith the pro-Israel lobby. Unlike the Internet attacks falsely painting Obama as a secret radical Muslim, the "ad- viser" e-mails appear to have struck a chord among some Jewish organizational leaders. in addition to worrying some grassroots voters. Last week in an interview with Shalom TV. a Web-based Jewish channel. World Jewish Congress President Ronald Lauder said that "if you have an adviser that is not sympathetic to Israel not sympathetic to some Jewish concerns--you have a poten- tial problem." "If you only have one or two close advisers and they're both anti-Israel." Lauder said. then"it'sonlyamatteroftime before the president becomes anti-lsrael." Lauder made no specific reference to Obama. but the comments come at a time when the Illinois senator ap- pears to be the only candidate facing major questions about his advisers on Israel-related issues. Two weeks ago; Malcolm Hoenlein. the professional head of the Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations. report- edly told Israeli reporters that the "change" mantra in the current U.S. election--mostly associated with Obama--was worrying. Ha'aretz framed Hoenlein's comments as an expression of concern about Obama's camp, but the Jewish com- munal leader told JTA that he was speaking generally about this campaign season and the calls for change coming from supporters of several of the candidates in both parties. In an effort to counter vari- ous attacks against Obama going back several months, his campaign has responded with several long e-mails to Jewish supporters. Insiders say response has been posi- tive--a perception borne out by primary elections exit polls that show Jews trending to- ward Obama more thanother whites in some states. Even with minimal impact. attacks can still cross the line and are cause for concern. said Dennis Ross, the Clinton administration's top Middle East envoy. "When you're in the po- litical season, every differ- ence tends to be magnified," said Ross. who has given the Obama campaign advice and who is now a senior fellow at the Washington Institute for Near East Policy, a pro-Israel think tank. "We can'have po- litical differenCes, but it can't lead to demonization." Much. if not the vast major- ity, of the material targeting Obama's advisers is distorted and even false. The campaign notes that its Middle East policy is strictly the province of four individuals, each of them perceived as pro-Israel and three of them Jewish: Dan Shapiro, a longtime activist and bridge between the Jewish organizational leadership and Democratic Party; Anthony Lake, a Clinton administra- tion national security ad- viser; Eric Lynn. the Obama campaign's Jewish liaison who has lived in Israel; and Dennis McDonough, once the foreign policy adviser to former U.S. Senate majority leader Tom Daschle (D-S.D.), who had impeccable pro- Israel credentials during his time in office. Of the four regular advisers. only Lake has taken shots from Obama's critics. In an article in theAmerican Think- er--the online conservative magazine that has been the principle redoubt of Obama- Obama on page JSA unity Call on Central Florida's Exclusively jewish Funeral Home for Details Regarding: Traditional Jewish Funerals Non-Traditional Services Interstate Shipping Pre-Arranged Funerals (Shalom Assurance Plan) Headstone, Grave Markers (Cardinal Memorials) 640 Lee R d. Orlando, Florida W.E. "Manny" Adams, LFD Louis B. Wilson, LFD, Manager James R. Cardinal, Executive Director Michael Meyer, Family Pre-need Counselor By Tamar Snyder New York Jewish Week NEW YORKMore than 35.000 people have joined the Facebook group "Israel is not a country! Delist it from Facebook as a country!" Type "Jew" into the search function on YouTube. and you'll discover a host of anti- Semitic videos, including "911 Jew Spy Scandal 3" and a video clip in which National Polish Party's Leszek Bubel declares himself a "'proud anti-Semite." And Google Earth. the satellite-mapping program. recently came under fire when officials from Kiryat Yam filed a lawsuit against Google after the Internet giant r efus.ed to take down a note posted by user Thameen Darby claim- ing that the northern Israeli town was founded on the re- mains of the Arab village of Ghawarina This is the new face of anti- Semitism: Anti-Semitism 2.0. And it's potentially more hazardous than the rela- tively straightforward smear campaigns and petitions of yesteryear. Web 2.0 applications such as Facebook, YouTube, Wiki- pedia and Google Earth thrive on communities in which us- ers generate and share infor- mation in the form of videos, photos and blog posts, which are subject to vague terms of service and seemingly arbi- trary censorship. This leaves the door open for anti-Semites across the globe to co-opt these applica- tions to spread messages of hate. often failing to distin- guish between Jews and Israel when comparing Jews to Nazis and Israel to apartheid South Africa. observers say. "This phenomenon is "spreading anti-Semitism and acceptability of anti-Semitism in new and increasingly effec- tive ways," says Andre Oboler. a Legacy Heritage Fellow who runs and is a post-doctoral fellow studying online public diplo- macy at Bar-Ilan University. "Now in the Web 2.0 world. the social acceptability of anti-Semitism can be spread, public resistance lowered and hate networks rapidly estab- lished." Oboler said. What's worse. Oboler con- tends, Jewish organizations are behind the times and are not devoting the resources necessary to stop the hate virus from spreading. Many at the helm of these large organizations have yet to sign up for a Facebook ac- count, don't spend much time on YouTube and aren't all that sure what Google Earth is. "Community leaders tend to be the sort of people who are too busy to spend time looking at YouTube videos." Oboler says. "They are very, very focused on old media, which is a bit strange, since a lot of people their age are online." The average American YouTubeviewer is 3! and33.5 percent of Facebook users are between 35 and 54 years old. The more tech-savvy among community leaders realize just how grave the situation is but have all but shaken their heads at the im- possibility of making a dent in the large volume of hate mes- sages being spread. As Myrna Shinbaum. spokeswoman for the Anti-Defamation League, retorted. "We can't sit here all day monitoring YouTube and Facebook." (The organization does report objectionable material to service providers. "But the minute they do the right thing and pull some- thing down, another pops up," says Deborah Lauter. ADL's national civil rights director. "It takes constant vigilance and policing.") Yet we live m a world in which "truth" often belongs to the Web site with the high- est Google ranking and the most hits. regardless of its credibility. Therefore. anti- Semitism 2.0 is arguably far more serious than its previous Web incarnations. And when it comes to social networking sites, the stakes are higher since the reach is that much greater, Oboler contends. On Facebook, for example, information spreads in a viral fashion. When users join a group or sign up to promote a cause, their friends are automatically notified in their "news feeds." They then have the option of joining, on 15A