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March 6, 2015

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HERITAGE FLORIDA JEWISH NEWS, MARCH 6, 2015 PAGE 13A \ AIPAC emphasizes lran talks at record-break- ing conference WASHINGTON (JTA)-- AIPAC launched its largest- ever conference with a focus on the Iran nuclear talks. The legislative focus of the conference, which start- ed Sunday with a record- breaking 16,000 activists in attendance, is two bills that seek increased congressional involvement in the nuclear talks underway between Iran and the major powers. Activists who visit Capitol Hill on Tuesday, the last day of the conference, will seek co-sponsorship for a bill that adds new sanctions on Iran should it walk away from the talks. They also will lend their voices to a measure that subjectsany deal with Iran to congressional approval. President Barack Obama has threatened to veto both bills, saying that any con- gressional interference in the talks underway between Iran and the major powers risks scuttling the negotia- tions. AIPAC speakers empha- sized that they do not want to scuttle the talks and in- stead are seeking to ensure that there is congressional review and the deal is wa- tertight. "The ability to look at this, to submit it for ap- proval or disapproval, is a critical role for Congress to play," Howard Kohr, AIPAC's CEO, said at the opening plenary. Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, who opposes the talks, is speak- ing to the conference on Monday..The next day he will address Congress in a speech that has engendered controversy because Netan- yahu and the Republican congressional leadership arranged it without consult- ing Democrats or the White House. Kohr acknowledged the furor, but noted that AIPAC was encouraging lawmakers to attend the speech. "There's no question that the way this speech has come about has created a great deal of upset among Democrats," he said. "It frankly may have upset people in this room." Also addressing the conference is Susan Rice, Obama's national security adviser, who last week said Netanyahu's speech is "de- structive" of the U.S.-Israel relationship. Kohr in his opening re- marks said that AIPAC also backs suspending assistance to the Palestinian Authority as long as it pursued state- hood outside the framework of negotiations and sought legal action against Israel in international courts. Rabbi Barry Freundel resigns position at Tow- son U. (JTA)--Rabbi Barry Freundel, who pleaded guilty to voyeurism charges, has resigned as a professor at Towson University in Mary- land. Freundel submitted his letter of resignation to the suburban Baltimore uni- versity on Thursday, Towson spokesman Ray Feldmann told the Baltimore Sun. His resignation is effec- tive March 27. Freundel had taught ethics and religion since 2009 and was tenured. He was on paid leave since his arrest inOctober. Lastweek, Freundelplead- ed guilty to 52 counts of misdemeanor voyeurism for videotaping women un- dressing in the mikvah at his prominent Washington synagogue, Kesher Israel. He is facing a maximum penalty of 52 years in prison and tens of thousands of dollars in fines when he is sentenced in Washington Superior Court on May 15. Investigators discovered secret cameras installed in the mikvah shower room and additional recording devices in his home. Kesher Israel, an Ortho- dox congregation, has fired Freundel, 63, and ordered him to vacate its rabbinic residence. He reportedly will leave the home in early March. Jewish groups slam Boteach ad on Susan Rice WASHINGTON (JTA)--An array of Jewish groups con- demned an ad by a founda- tion associated with Rabbi Shmuley Boteach accusing National Security Adviser Susan Rice of turning a blind eye to genocide. "Susan Rice has a blind spot: Genocide," said the advertisement appearing in Saturday's New York Times, touting a talk on-Iran this week in Washington hosted by Boteach, the New Jersey- based author and pro-Israel advocate. As soon as the Sabbath ended, Jewish groups rushed to condemn the ad by This World: The Values Network. The American Jewish Committee called it "revolt- ing," the Anti-Defamation League called it "spurious and perverse," the Jewish Federations of North Ameri- ca called it "outrageous" and Josh Block, the president of The Israel Project, said it was "entirely inappropriate." Marshall Wittmann, the spokesman for the American Israel Public Affairs Com- mittee, which will host Rice on Monday at its annual con- ference, said, "Ad hominem attacks should have no place in our discourse." On Sunday, the Confer- ence of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organiza- tions issued a statement blasting the ad. Other condemnations came from the Orthodox Union, J Street, the Jewish Council for Public Affairs, the National Council of Jewish Women and the Rabbinical Assembly of the Conservative movement. In a combined statement, the leaders of the Union for Re- form Judaism and Reform's Religious Action Center called the ad "grotesque," "abhorrent" and a "sinister slur." The ad notes Rice's recent complaints about Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's address to Congress on Tuesday, which was organized without con- sulting the White House. Netanyahu plans to speak against the nuclear talks between Iran and the major powers, which President Barack Obama backs. Rice said last week that the way the speech was organized was "destructive" to the U.S.- Israel relationship. The ad also notes a contro- versy from the 1990s, when Rice was on President Bill Clinton's National Security Council staff and reportedly advised against describing the mass killings in Rwanda as "genocide." "Ms. Rice may be blind tO the issue of genocide, but should treat our ally with at least as much diplomatic courtesy as she does the committed enemy of both our nations," it said. In an interview, Rabbi Julie Schonfeld, who directs the Rabbinical Assembly, said Rice deserved an apol- ogy from Boteach. The ad "is completely in- consistent with the record of friendship and loyalty this public official has shown Is- rael and the Jewish people," Schonfeld said. Rice grew close to pro- Israel and Jewish groups during her stint as U.S. envoy to the United Nations, in Obama's first term, through her efforts to head off attacks on Israel and protect vulner- able populations in Sudan. "It is not up to Shmuley Boteach to make it appear this is the way the Jew- ish community treats our friends," Schonfeld said. Boteach in an interview said he stood behind the ad. "The stakes could not be higher, and our ad rightly points out that Susan Rice has gone beyond any man- date in condemning the prime minister for simply speaking out," he said. "Condemnation should be directed not at those who seek to give Israel avoice but to those who seek to deny it." Boteach, whose talk on Monday will take place in a Senate office building and will include Elie Wiesel, the Holocaust memoirist, as well as Rep. Brad Sherman (D-Calif.) and Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas), has appealed to AIPAC activists to attend. Sherman condemned the ad on Twitter, but did not say if he was still participating in the event it was promoting. "This ad is outrageous and harms the U.S.-Israel alli- ance," he said. "It should be denounced in every forum." AIPAC, like many of the groups that have condemned the ad, is skeptical of the Iran nuclear talks. Nathan Diament, the Washington director of the Orthodox Union, a group that hasbeen pronouncedly skeptical of the talks, on Twitter described the ad as an "inappropriate ad homi- nero attack" that "doesn't advance discourse on key issue of Iran." Rabbi Steve Gutow, who heads the JCPA, the public policy umbrella for the community, said the ad was a blow against bipartisan support for Israel. "It's a sad moment for the Jewish community to have this ad appear," he said in an interview. Netanyahu speech needed to go through Obama, half of U.S. vot- ers say (JTA)--Nearly half of American voters believe that Republican lawmak- ers should not have invited Israel's prime minister to speak to Congress without first notifying President Barack 0bama, a new poll found. Some 48 percent of voters told a Wall Street Journal/ NBC poll that Obama should have been consulted. Some 30 percent said they believed the invitation proffered by House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) was ap- propriate and another 22 percent said they did not know. The poll also found that 66 percent of Democrats and 28 percent of Republicans said that Obama should have been notified about the invitation. Some 800 registered vot- ers were surveyed by phone in the poll conducted Feb. 25-28. The survey has a margin of error of plus or minus 3.46 percent. Netanyahu is scheduled to address a joint session of Congress on Tuesday in a speech that has sparked controversy because neither Obama nor Democratic leaders were notified of the invitation. He also is scheduled to meet that day with a bipartisan group of congressional leaders. Obama and members of the administration will not meet with Netanyahu, citing Israeli elections scheduled for two weeks later. At least 40 lawmakers have said they will boycott the speech. The poll found that 47 percent of voters view Israel favorably and 17 percent negatively. In addition, 30 percent viewed Netanyahu positively an~d 17 percent negatively, up from 24 per- cent positively and 15 per- cent in August. Nearly half of Americans have not seen, heard or read news coverage about Netan- yahu's upcoming speech, according to the poll. Nemtsov murder risks civil war, Russian dis- sident Khodorkovsky warns (JTA)--The murder of for- mer deputy prime minister Boris Nemtsov risked plung- ing Russia into civil war, Russian dissident Mikhail Khodorkovsky said. An unidentified shooter on Saturday gunned down Nemtsov, a leading opposi- tion politician in Russia. Nemtsov was a Christian but said he had Jewish ancestry. Khodorkovsky, a Russian Jew who left for Switzerland in 2013, made the warn- ing in a statement posted Saturday on his website. The dissident, who was sen- tenced to 11 years in prison following graft trials that critics alleged were designed to eliminate his political ambitions and criticisms of human rights abuses by Russian President Viadimir Putin, noted that Nemtsov was murdered "a hundred meters from the Kremlin." Nemtsov died hours after appealing for support for a march on Sunday in Moscow against the war in Ukraine. "I know that for many people Boris's death will become so much of a Rubi- con that the entire country may become different," wrote on his website. "Will we find ourselves standing even closer to the precipice of all-out war of everybody against everybody? Or will we find within ourselves the strength to understand that political differences are not a reason to stop acting like human beings?" An unidentified attacker in a car shot Nemtsov four times in the back as he crossed a bridge in view of the Kremlin, police said. Pu- tin condemned the murder and said he has was closely monitoring the investigation amid widespread speculation that Nemtsovwas eliminated by the Kremlin, as were other dissidents before him. Leonid Bershidsky, a Rus- sian Jewish journalist, in an Op-Ed published on bloom- wrote that the death validated Nemtsov's criticism of Putin "in the most terrible way." Bershidsky also criticized Putin's government for what he said amounted to incitement against Nemtsov, writing that Nemtsov's name was "on every list of traitors published on the Internet and aired on state TV." "It did not help that hewas Jewish," he wrote. "There was a strong undercurrent of anti-Semitism in the smear campaign." White House vows to veto bill mandating congressional review of Iran deal WASHINGTON (JTA)-- The White House said it will veto a bill that would subject any Iran nuclear deal to con- gressional approval. The bill, which was in- troduced Friday by leading senators from both parties, would keep the president from suspending sanctions on Iran for 60 days while Congress considers any deal. The White House main- tains that any new legisla- tion would scuttle talks underway. "The president has been clear that now is not the time for Congress to pass additional legislation on Iran," Bernadette Meehan, the spokeswoman for the National Security Council, said in an email. "If this bill is sent to the president, he will veto it. We are in the final weeks of an in- ternational-negotiation. We should give our negotiators the best chance of success, rather than complicating their efforts." The bill was introduced by Sens. Bob Corker (R-Tenn.), the chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Com- mittee; Robert Menendez (D-N.J.), its ranking Demo- crat; Tim Kaine (D-Va.), the chairman of its Middle East subcommittee; and Lindsey Graham, the chairman of the foreign operations subcom- mittee of the Appropriations Committee. Kaine's support is espe- cially notable, as the Virginia lawmaker has been among the administration's most consistent backers in its participation in the nuclear talks between Iran and the major powers. "I believe Congress should weigh in on the content of the deal given the centrality of the congressional sanctions to the entire negotiation and the significant security interests involved," Kaine said in the statement an- nouncing the bill. The American Israel Pub- lic Affairs Committee, which is holding its annual confer- ence in Washington this week, added the bill to the agenda for its lobbying day on Tuesday, when thousands of activists head to Capitol Hill. Already on its agenda is seeking co-sponsorship for a bill that would add new sanctions on Iran should it walk away from talks. Ex-lsrael envoy tapped to head Uruguay For- eign Ministry BUENOS AIRES, Argenti- na (JTA)--The new president of Uruguay appointed the country's former ambassa- dor to Israel as head of the Foreign Ministry. Dr. Tabare Vazquez on Sunday named Bernardo Greiver as secretary general of the ministry--a move that was seen as signaling closer Uruguay-Israel ties. Greiver, who is Jewish, has spoken publicly in recent years in favor of strong ties between Israel and Uruguay. -The new Uruguayan for- eign minister, Nir Novoa, said in a radio interview that Greiver was tapped "because he knows the office, he is a diplomat with experience and is a hard worker." Novoa told Universal Radio that he "talked with members of the Jewish community and they are pleased with this appointment. "Without any doubt, this can be considered as a signal to Israel," he said. "Uruguay had a very important role in the creation of the State of Israel and we need to con- tinue on this path." In !947, Uruguay voted at the United Nations in favor of declaring a Jewish state in Israel. The other two coun- tries in the South American cone, Argentina and Chile, abstained. Greiver succeeds Luis Almagro, who served be- tween 1991 and 1996 as the Uruguayan ambassador to Iran. Recent events have shown some tension related to the Iranian presence in the South American region and especially in Uruguay. President Jose Alberto "Pepe" Mujica, who stepped down Sunday, said during Israel's 50:day operation in Gaze over the summer that Israel was committing "genocide" against the Pal- estinians, as did Almagro. They also said "Gaze is a big concentration camp." Vazquez, who is from the same party as Mujica, when asked if he agreed with the president, said that Israel "was not committing geno- cide." Vazquez, 74, is serving as president for the second time. During his first ad- ministration, 2005 to 2010, he made an official three- day visit to Israel as a guest of then-President Shimon Peres. An oncologist, he also traveled to Israel in 1982, representing Uruguay in an international seminar about cancer research. One month ago, Uruguay said it has "opened the door" to Israel's help with security following a suspected bomb- ing attempt near Israel's embassy, for which Israel implicated Iran.