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March 13, 2009

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miLl_De ...... IIm lllllmllllllillli HllllHlllJ hlJlalJ I!llJillllllliD ill iillii _ HERITAGE FLORIDA JEWISH NEWS, MARCH 13, 2009 PAGE 13A By Amy Spiro New York Jewish Week -NEW YORK Protestor Farah Khimji addressed the crowd of students with her in the Kimmel Center cafeteria two weeks ago. At one point more than 70 students were barricaded inside the NYU cafeteria. The students' demands. at first glance, seemed like standard-issue ones: a tuition freeze, requests for budget transparency, student rep- resentation on the board of trustees, and fair labor con- tracts for all employees. Butthe 64 NewYorkUniver- sity students who barricaded themselves inside a cafeteria for two days had two other demands, that seemed out of left field: Provide 13 Palestin- Jan students from Gaza with scholarships to the university, and donate all excess supplies to rebuild the University of Gaza, damaged in Israel's recent war against Hamas. Khimji, a spokesperson for Gaza on Washington Square Take Back NYU, the group that staged the protest, told The Jewish Week that the Gaza requestswere recent additions to their list of demands. But, Khimji added from inside the Kimmel Center cafeteriaThursday afternoon, Feb. 19, "We see them as fit- ting in with everything else. We're asking for student rights in numerous ways on our campus; we see those last two demands as talking [about] human rights in general." Not only did NYU's admin- istration not accede to any of the students' demands, it suspended 18 of the students who remained in the cafeteria beyond the early-morning deadline of Friday the 20th presented to the protesters 1hat Thursday. Some of the Take Back NYU students involved in the protest were Jewish. Maria Lewis, a TBNYU member, attributed her beliefs to her Jewish upbringing. "l think my Judaism in a lot' of ways was one of the things that taught me to fight for social justice, "she said. "Every year on Passover I heard about how we were slaves in Egypt, and how we became free and that really resonatedwith me. Until all of us are free none of us are free, "she said. Members of Take Back NYU said they were motivated by re - cent actions at the University of Rochester. where a protest resulted in the administra- tion agreeing to provide any .surplus goods or supplies that could assist the University of Gaza, commit resources to assist4undraising for the crisis in Gaza and provide students from Gaza with scholarships. The drama began the night of Feb. 18, when a group of students took over the cafete- ria, refusing to leave untilits list of 13 demands was met by the university administration. The students, affiliated with the radical organization Take Back NYU! remained in the room on the 3rd floor of the Kimmel Center at NYU for over 40 hours, until the Kerry stalks new ground on settlements, Syria and peace By Ron Kampeas President Mah.mofid Abbas. "I do agree, absolutely, it WASHINGTON (JTAI-- Call it a three-legged stalking horse: rapid progress toward a two-state solution, penalties for settlemefit expansion and engagement with Syria even as it remains in Iran's sphere. They were the key sugges- tions for advancing Middle East peace outlined by U.S. Sen. John Kerry (D-Mass.) in a speech March 4 following his visit to the region. Kerry, the chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, emphasized alac- rity throughout the speech. "There is a window of op- portunity that we must seize by showing, with actions more than words, that itwill not just be business as usual- in the Middle East," he said. Kerry said he would detail his recommendations in a private meeting with Presi- dent Obama. A White House spokesman was checking into whether such a meeting already had been scheduled, but Kerry, whose endorsement during the primaries was a major boost to the Obama campaign, spoke with the assurance of a stalking horse. "The Obama administra- tion presents an extraordi- nary opportunity for a new beginning where America reclaims the role of an active and creative agent for peace." he said. Senior Obama administra- tion officials already have advanced some of what Kerry proposed.-In a speech last week outlining Iraq policy, Obama said outreach to Iran and Syria were pillars of that strategy. Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton has emphasized accelerating the two-state solution during her visit this week to the region. "The United States, through President Obama. is committed to a .compre- hensive peace, including a two-state solution." Clinton said March 4 after meeting with Palestinian Authority "We are not waiting. We are moving forward." What distinguished Kerry's speech, delivered at the Saban Center of the Brookings In- stitution, were the specifics of how far the United States should go in achieving these goals. He left his meetingwith Syrian President BasharAssad convinced that it was time for a direct U.S. role in Israel- Syria talks, which the Bush administration had resisted. The talks could be nudged along by loosening sanctions agains Syria, Kerry said, and by not expecting an im- mediate transformation in Damascus. "Loosening certain sanc- tions in return for verifiable changes in behavior could actually benefit U.S. busi- nesses, and thee sanctions can always be tightened again if Syria backtracks," Kerry said. Notwithstanding "Syria's long-term interests" being with the West, Kerry said, "We should have no illusions that Syria will immediately end its ties with Iran." Much of the rationalization for U.S. engagement with Syria until now has been the prospect of peeling it away from Iranian influence. On West Bank settlements, Kerry said U.S. policy oppos- ing expansion for decades has "existed on paper alone." Nothing will do more to make clear our seriousness about turning the page than demonstrating--with actions rather than words that we are serious about Israel freez- ing settlement activity in the West Bank," Kerry said. He refused to elaborate what actions except to say that he would bring them up in his meeting with Obama. While other Obama officials have chosen to emphasize the two-state solution rather than directly rebut Israeli Prime Minister-designate Benjamin Netanyahu's proposal to stoke the Palestinian economy be- fore considering statehood, Kerry was blunt. is not an alternative," Kerry said when asked about Netan- yahu's plan. "The economy is not an alternative to a two- state solution." He was critical as well of Israeli limitations on humani- tarian relief into Gaza after the recent military operation. Kerry was reported to have intervened personally to al- low in truckloads of pasta after Israeli bureaucrats had determined that rice was satisfactory relief. "I raised this with our Israeli friends," he said. "We need to broaden the definition of what is able to go in as a matter of Palestinian aid." Much in Kerry's speech hewed to the traditional pa- rameters of U.S. support for Israel: getting Iran to end its suspected nuclear program was a priority; Hamas par- ticipation in any process was still stringently contingent on recognizing Israel and ending terrorism; Arab nations must play a role in suppressing Hamas' influence and stop- ping the flow of arms into the Gaza Strip; the United States would continue to guarantee Israel's security. Kerry said he learned in his meetings with leaders of Arab nations that they had replaced the infamous "three noes" of the 1968 Khartoum conference, which counted out any dealings with Israel, with three new "noes": "No Iranian nukes, no Iranian meddling and no Iranian hegemony." "There are a lot of tough sanctions that have yet to be explored," Kerry said. He also swatted down a questioner who suggested Israel de-nuke in parallelwith Iran. Kerry said the Arab lead- ers with whom he met did not even mention Israel's nuclear capacity, which has been nei- ther confirmed nor denied by the Jewish state. "The notion of a new nu- clear state runs counter to the interests of everybody," he said. remaining 18 students were led out by NYU security of- ficials that Friday afternoon Throughout the two-day occupation, many of the students left the building willingly, butat9:30 p. m. that Thursday night more than two dozen students attempted to enter the barricaded room to join the protesters, surg- ing past security guards and entering the building, Two guards were injured during the entry and one was taken to the NYU Medical Center for treatment. Many of the students inside the buildingwere notactually students at NYU, but were supporting their efforts from other schools, including the New School. Students there staged a similar and success- ful protest last month. The NYU group was live-blogging their actions from inside the building, and also posted a live video feed to their Web site for the hours they were inside. The university suspended the 18 students remaining in the center after 1 a. m. that Friday morning, accord- ing to an official university statement: The students were also removed from university dorms, though they were of- fered interim housing. Judi- ciary hearings were scheduled to begin this week for the affected students, and could result in warnings or expul- sion for the students. Despite the suspensions and the fact that none of their demands was met. the students say have not given up hope. "My immediate concern is having the suspension removed. "said Emily Stain- kamp, a TBNYU member. "and mobilizing the attention we've gotten through this campaign and continuing to drive-home these demands for accountability and democracy at NYU. "" Yehuda Sarna, the rabbi at the Bronfman Center for Jew- ish Life. said that the group's radical tactics "undermined their position and were ulti- mately ineffective." But Rabbi Sarna's focus was on this week's Israel Apartheid Week, which will be held in over 25 cities worldwide be- ginning March 1. Initiated in Toronto in 2005. that event has spread to more than 25 cities around the world with events commemorating what planners call the expulsion of Arabs from their land in 1948, when Israel was born. "Our primary focus will continue to be on display- ing the diversity of Israeli politics and culture, and on bridge-building with the Muslim community, "" said Rabbi Sarna. "We stay far away from street theater and media stunts and will not be drawn to the bottom of the barrel." he continued. "Acting deci- sively does not mean acting impulsively. "he said. Jewish students on the NYU campus were among many who expressed concern with the takeover group's demands and tactics. "I don't think it is NYU's place to make political state- ments like this, "said Barry Guttman, a senior. Guttman also noted that providing scholarships exclusively to Palestinian students is "re- verse discrimination. Anyone should be able to get those scholarships, "he said. "These demands are not coherent with the rest of the demands that were being protested for, "said Michelle Kornblit, a sophomore. "I would be very upset and very shocked if they gave into those specific demands, "" she said. Reprinted with permission from the New York Jewish Week, HANDYMAN SERVICE Handy man and General Maintenance Air Conditioning Electrical Plumbing Carpentry Formerly handled maintenance at JCC References available STEVE'S SERVICES Call Steve Doyle at (386) 668-8960 OAKMONTE AT LAKE B he wait is over. Oakmonte Village at Lake Mary a brand new, state-of-the-art senior living community is coming to Central Florida. 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