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March 8, 2013

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PAGE 16A HERITAGE FLORIDA JEWISH NEWS, MARCH 8, 2013 O Linda Gradstein The Media Line A non-binding report by the European Union's (EU) consuls general in East Jerusalem and Ramallah harshly criticizes Israel for undermining the possibility of an independent Palestinian state by expand- ing what it calls "settlement" construction. It calls Israel's policy "systematic, deliberate and provocative" and calls for stepped-up European sanc- tions. The report focuses on east- ern Jerusalem, which Israel annexed in 1967, and which Israel maintains must remain the united capital of Israel. Pal- estinians say East Jerusalem must be the capital of a future Palestinian state. "Israel is actively perpetu- ating its illegal annexation of East Jerusalem by sys- tematically undermining the Palestinian presence through restrictive zoning and plan- ning, demolitions and evic- tions, discriminatory access to religious sites, an inequitable education policy ..... However "settlement" construction re- mains the biggest threat to the two-state solution," accord- ing to the report, which was obtained by The Media Line. The report says that con- struction in southern Jeru- salem near Bethlehem, spe- cifically the expansion of Har Homa, Gilo and GivatHamatos will "form an Israeli buffer that once complete will virtually cut off Jerusalem' southern flank from Bethlehem and the southern West Bank." It calls for sanctions on any bodies and organizations involved in the building on post-1967 land including eastern Jerusalem. Israeli officials responded tartly to the report's conclu- sions. "A diplomat's mission is to build bridges and bring people together, not to foster confron- tation," Israeli foreign ministry spokesman Yigal Palmor told The Media Line. "These dip- lomats have evidently failed at this mission." Palestinian legislator Dr. Hanan Ashrawi welcomed the report and called on EU countries to implement it. "With Israel's most recent escalation ofsettlementactivi- ties in and around Jerusalem, the rise of "settler" violence and Israeli violations of inter- national law and Palestinian rights, it is of utmost urgency for European countries to follow this courageous as- sessment with concrete and- tangible steps and with puni- tive measures," stressed Dr. Ashrawi. "Therefore, we call on the European Union, whether as individual countries or collectively, to stand up to Israel and implement bold initiatives that demand European divestment from settlements and settlement products. Israel's settlement campaign is the single most significant threat to the two- state solution, and now is the time to exercise the political will that is required to hold Israel accountable before any and all chances for peace are destroyed," she said. The report was first pub- lished in the Ha'aretz news- paper. "We don't respond to leaked reports," David Kriss, the press and information manager for the EU d.elegation in Israel told The Media Line but added, "The EU's longstanding posi-'~ tion is that settlements are. illegal under international law and constitute an obstacle to peace." The. report, although non- binding, comes just three weeks before President Obama arrives in the region. Although US officials have tried to down- play expectations, and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Ne- tanyahu has said the visit will focus on Iran and Syria, many expect that President Obama will try to revive some kind of Israeli-Palestinian peace process. He could pressure Israel to freeze building in post-1967 areas. In the past, Netanyahu did agree to apartial freeze but has never agreed to stop building in eastern Jerusalem. Privately, Israeli officials say that the consuls issue a similar report each year, which the EU often ignoreswhen it makes its policy decisions. "in Brussels (home of the EU) they take it for what it is, the seasonal anti-Israel report," said a senior Israeli official."Butwe are concerned that the fact that such a report can be circulated creates a negative buzz." lane yon Neilson Barnard Left to right, Sarah Jessica Parker, Diane yon Furstenberg and Andy Cohen at the U.S. HoloCaust Memorial Museum's event in New York, Feb. 26. By Chavie Lieber and she smells incrediblel The two giggle at each other like old friends, the 66-year-old Jewish fashion designer complimenting Bloomfield on how "cute" she looks before rising to .grab her camera and snap some photos. Bloomfield nervously sets her glass of Prosecco on the desk as von Furstenberg stifles a dirty look and rushes to grab a coaster. They seem like an odd pair: Bloomfield, a pioneer of genocide awareness and adviser to numerous muse- ums around the world, and yon Furstenberg, one of the most successful women in fashion who rose to fame in 1974 with the debut of her iconic wrap dress and since has created a robust empire in women's clothing and housewares. But the two women have a bond some 20 years in the making--a bond that has NEWYORK (JTA)--Diane von. Furstenberg takes a seat at her long, farm table- inspired desk inside her office on the fifth floor in this ci~'s Meatpacking Dis- trict. The studio is so vividly colored, so overly patterned and so decked out in exotic tchotchkes, von Furstenberg is one of the few people who could possibly occupy it. Seated across from her is Sara Bloomfield, the execu- tive director of the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum, and the outfits of the two women could not be more different. Bloomfield is sporting a conservative blazer and pencil skirt, her hair combed into a neat bob, while von Furstenberg is draped in green fur vest and moves her right arm carefully under the weight of an enormous gold bangle. Her hair is endearingly wild, FORK IT! Family Owned Family Operated 189 [ State Road 436, Fern Park, FL $2750 Shoppes At Fern Park [.mail: Phone." 407-260-1003 Web: ww'wJustf0rkltCafe.c0m Men-SM 10:30AM - 9:00PM 10% OFF With ThisCoupon i nothing to do with fashion and everything to do with von Furstenberg's Jewish heritage. Von Furstenbedg, hostofa special event to commemo- rate the 20th anniversary of the U.S. Holocaust Memo- rial Museum, has invited a select 70 people to her studio--including "Sex and the City" star Sarah Jessica Parker and television host Andy Cohen--so she can explain her unlikely friend- ship with Bloomfield and her longtime commitment to preserving the memory of theHolocaust. "I'm involved with the Holocaust museum because I firmly believe in its impor- tance, and there's no one else doing w~ork like this," she tells JTA. "Last month they did something amazing for me. Without telling me, they mailed me this giant box of all the details of my mother and father during the Ho- locaust that the Germans and Swiss kept. They had photos and docurdentation of everything, and it was so special to me." Her Jewish heritage might be important, but it's some- thing von Furstenberg has taken an interest in only later in life. Born Diane Simone Mi- chelle Halfin, von Furst- enberg is the child of a Holocaust survivor, Lily Nahmias. A blond Greek Neilson Barnard Diane Von Furstenberg, left, with Sara Bloomfield, the executive director of the U.S. Ho- locaust Memorial Museum, at an event in New York to celebrate the Washington museum's 20th anniversary, Feb. 26. Jew, Lily, was involved in resistance efforts against the Nazis, helping deliver counterfeit papers to other Jews. She was caught in 1944 and sent to Auschwitz. By the time the war ended, she weighed just 49 pounds. But Lily survived and went on to marry a Romanian Jew, Leon Halfin, who hid in" Switzerland during the war. A doctor warned her not to get pregnant, as her body ,would not be able to handle the trauma. But Diane was born in late 1946, and be- lieves she is a testament to the Jewish will to live. ,I was born onNew Year's, and every year my mother would say, 'God saved me so that I could give you life. You are my flag of freedom,'" von Furstenberg recalls, making eye contact with the few Holocaust survivors in the room invited by Bloomfield. "This is the heritage I carry, and this is very strong to me." Early on, Von Furstenberg felt no particular connec- tion to her Jewishness. Her mother neither avoided nor elaborated on her experienc- es during the war, although von Furstenberg recalls the two tattoos she had on her arms: Lily would mention things here and there, like how she longed for freedom and a plate of spaghetti during those dark days, but never burdened her daugh- ter with all the details. Lily showed no apparent disdain when von Furstenberg mar- ried a German prince, Egon von Furstenberg, in 1969. But von Furstenberg found her way back to her Jewish roots after she was honored by the Anti- Defamation League with its Women of Achievement Award in 1981. "I don't really think they knew anything about me, they probably just gave me the award because they knew I would bring a large group," she tells the crowd sitting around her desk. "But when I got up that day to speak, I heard the words of my mother being a Holocaust survivor come out of my mouth, and these were words that I never said and that I never actually thought, and I started to shake. It was a major revelation because I realized that it was my heritage and I hadn't real- ized how deeply connected I really felt." Von Furstenberg was one of the first people approached by Bloomfield when plans to build the Holocaust museum in Washington were first discussed. Von Furstenberg, who insists she is horrible at raising money and would "rather give you a check and just leave me alone," agreed to help fundraise for the museum. She says she believes it is her duty to talk about the Holocaust and spread awareness because few expect these kinds of sentiments from her. The fundraisers in the 1990s for the fashion in- dustry on behalf of the Holocaust museum were incredibly emotional and sometimes uncomfortable, von Furstenberg says, but she forced herself into the events at the Upper East Side's Carlyle Hotel on New York City's Upper East Side. "Celebrating freedom through the museum is the most important thing in the world," she says. "It is not just to remember the Holocaust but to talk about tolerance, and of course never to forget the 6 million Jews who were killed, as the last survivors are around." She reca.lled the mu- seum's inauguration in April 1993, where she stood next to then-President Clinton and was showered in hail, despite the predicted warm weather. "Godwanted everyone out there to know and t0,feel how cold [Holocaust survivors] were," she said. Von Furstenberg says she is "incredibly proud" of her involvement with the mu- seum from the beginning. !'I know I've honored my mother through it, and I will continue to honor her," she says. "Everything I have is because of her."