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March 15, 2013

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PAGE 16A ByMm NJ The Media Une AMMAN, Jodan--There's more to the Red Sea city of Aqaba than pristine waters and breathtaking coral reefs. The liberalized duty-free area is seeking to become the gateway of commerce in the region, Jordanian officials say. The.Aqaba Economic Zone Authority (ASEZA), which runs the port city independent of the government, has signed several agreements worth a total of some $500 million to expand the port's handling capacity. To be completed in 2015, the port project is expected to pave the way for turning Aqaba into a solid transit hub serving the local market, Iraq, Syria and other Levant ports, ASEZA officials told The Media Line. HERITAGE FLORIDA JEWISH NEWS, MARCH 15, 2013 Will Jordan become the next Dubai? Aqaba is surrounded by several ports in the Red Sea area including in Egypt, Saudi Arabia and Israel, but officials are confident that the Jorda- nian port has the edge due to its direct borders with two major markets, Iraq and Syria. The adjacent Israeli port city of Eilat is hardly considered a competitor for Aqaba, accord- ing to Jordanian businessmen. "Eilatserves the local Israeli market. Iraqi or Syrian busi- nessmen refuse to deal with Israel because of its occupation of Arab lands, therefore Aqaba is the natural choice," said Mohammed Abu Jaber, who runs an Aqaba import-export business. The port project will see the construction of 28 new terminals for fuel, phosphates, grains and other goods. Ghassan A. Ghanem, CEO of the Aqaba Development Corporation (ADC), said the new port is strategic in ensur- ing the kingdom's food and energy supplies and will also serve regional markets. "Jordan's stability boosted the confidence of investors in Aqab, which aims to become a hub of imports and exlorts in the region," Ghanem told The Media Line. "We are talking about a new group of terminals that will be expanded or constructed including terminals for natural gas at a cost of $50 million and another for fuel gas at a cost of $20 million," he added. Jordan hopes the new gas terminal will solve its chronic fuel crisis that has been ex- acerbated by the turmoil in Egypt, the main provider of the kingdom's natural gas. The government reported a $1.5 billion loss due to the frequent disruption of Egyptian gas supplies since former Egyptian president Hosni Mubarak's regime was overthrown. Qatar will be the main pro- vider of gas in Aqaba as the Gulf state targets new markets including Syria and Turkey, Jordanian businessmen said. Another key project is an agreement to build an $18 billion pipeline to export Iraqi oil from Basra through Aqaba. Iraqi Business Council (IBC) President Majid Saadi said that pipeline represents a significant improvement in trade ties between Jordan and Iraq. The pipeline will enable Iraq to export 2.25 million barrels of oil daily, generating some $2-3 billion for Jordan annually. "Jordan has proven time and again it is a reliable partner for Iraq, in times of peace and tur- moil," he told The Media Line. The volume of traffic in the port is up, with some 817,000 containers handled in 2012, serving Jordanian and Iraqi consumers. Over the past four years, the volume of traffic has nearly doubled, according to official figures: "The pipeline with Iraq is recognition of the strategic value of Jordan's stability, Ad- ditionally the newly expanded port will also lead to a leap in trade volume between Jordan and Iraq and the rest of the region," Saadi concluded. Aqabawas transformed into a special tax-free economic zone by Jordan's King Abdul- lah in 2000, in a bid to turn the city into a commercial hub. It was granted administrative in- dependence and all economic incentives, including passage of the tax-free zone law. While the commercial proj- ects continue undisrupted, other ventures aim to bring in more dollars by turning the city into a major tourist attraction. A $10 billion megaproject, Marsa Zayed, is dubbed the biggest real estate and tourism project in Jordanian history and promises to turn the city into a veritable wonderland. Funded by the United Arab Emirates government, it in- cludes high-rise residential towers, retail, recreational, entertainment, business and financial districts and several branded hotels. With billions of dollars in- vested, Jordanian officials are confident Aqaba is destined to become the new Dubai of the Middle East. 'The Retrospective' hinges on ideas about artistic integrity, By Sandee Brawarsky Ne York Jewish Week GIVATAYIM, Israel "The Retrospective" is a work of art inspired by another work of art, a novel with roots in a painting. A few years ago, A.B. Ye- hoshuaand hiswifewerevisiting Santiago de Compostelo, Spain, and he saw a graying reproduc- tion of a disturbing painting, with a prisoner feeding at the breast of a young woman. He took a photo of the painting, something he rarely does, and then showed it to an expert. The painting is"Caritas Romana" or "Roman Charity," based on an ancient Roman legend of Cimon, imprisoned and sentenced to die by starvation, and his daughter Pero. That scene has been por- trayed in paintings, sculpture and drawings over the centuries, includingworks by Caravaggio, Rubens and Vermeer. "I took it as the driving element of the novel," the dis- tinguished Israeli novelist says in a recent interview near his home in Givatayim, just outside of Tel Aviv. In the novel, an ag- ing Israeli film director who is visiting Santiago similarly asks an expertaboutthepainting, but that's one of the few elements of moral commitment this novel that Yehoshua will admit is drawn from his life. "My readers are eager to see some element ofautobiography. IfI take something from my life, I cut it into very small pieces "he says, chopping up an imaginary block with his hand. He adds, "I am trying to understand myself through the writing." "The Retrospective" (Hough- ton Mifflin Harcourt), beauti- fully trafislattd into English by Stuart Schoffman, was published in Hebrew as "Hesed Sefaradi." A translator's note explains that chesed "eludes precise translation" and con- notes kindness, compassion and charity, and that Sefaradi refers both to Jews whose ancestors were expelled from Spain and to Jews from Arabic-speaking countries. Schoffman's aside that "the double meaning helps the reader get the picture" hints at the many levels of meaning the reader is about to encounter in the richly plotted story. Last year, Yehoshua, whose previous works include "The Lover," "A Late Divorce," "Mr. Mani" and "A Journey to the End of the Millennium," was awarded the prestigious French "Prix Medicis" for the new novel. The Hebrew editkm features the painting on the cover, although the American version does not. Atalkwith the 76-year-oldau- thor about the novel becomes a wide-ranging conversation about art and Judaism, the nature of creativity, Israeli poli- cies and politics, God, religion and peacemaking, all springing fromthe storyline. He's openand generous and articulate. Before meeting Yehoshua, I ask cab drivers, cousins, hotel clerks and other Hebrew speak- ers about him, and many have read him, some back in their school days. lie's part of the modern Hebrew canon, and is recognized by the cafg wait- ers, who seem pleased by his presence, although they make no fuss. The Aleph (A) in his pen name is for Avraham, Bet (13) is for Bull, a nickname given to him by childhood friends. The winner of the Israel Prize, he grew up in Jerusalem, the son of a fifth-generation Jeru- salem family originally from Salonikaon his father's side, and a Moroccan-born mother. His grandfatherwas a rabbi, and the family's lifestyle was traditional. He served in the Israeli Army, studied literature and philoso- phy at Hebrew University and, I Caring for you in your home or facility part.time or 24 hours 7 days a week. We always provide a C.N.A. Range of Motion Exercises i "' Walking Assistance Companion Services i Light housekeeping  Meal prep and clean-up  I Medication Reminders  Errands & Transportation Alzheimer's & Dementia Care Bathing/Transferring/Toileting Call us TODAY for details... State of FLAHCA kicena # NR .021146, State of FLA.ICA Licrlse # 231012 Iisufed and bonded until recently, taught at the University of Haifa. His books have been widely translated and published in more than 25 countries, with many adapted to film, theater and opera. When asked about the emo- tional complexity that marks the characters in his novels, he says,"In this I got good training. I am married to a psychoana- lyst--I have to understand that the world is not simple. You see the surface and have to dig again and again." in "Retrospective," film' di- rector Yair Moses travels to Santiago, a pilgrimage city with grand plazas and cathedrals, at the invitation of the city's Archive of Cinematic Arts, for a major retrospective of his early films. He later learns that the film institute is connected to the Catholic Church, and that its director is an ordained priest. His companion is Ruth, his longtime leading actress, who is also aging, and they are fine-tuned to each others' needs. Moses is still full of ideas for new films; he sees images and tries to commit them to memory to recreate in the future. Watching his old and ambi- tious avant-garde films, he doesn't always remember the scenes. But they spark memo- ries of earlier days and his late cinematographer Toledano and now-estranged screenwriter Trigano, and the surreal, ab- surdist visions they tried to express. The retrospective is full of surprises. In their hotel room, he is struck by a painting and later findsoutthatitis RomanChar- ity." The painting reminds him of the dispute that ended his collaboration with his longtime screenwriter, who worked on these early films and had been Ruth's lover. Returning to Is- rael. Moses seeks him out, with hopes of reconciliation and a different kind of collaboration. The screenwriter presents him a challenge, and the conclusion of the novel is daring, with a mix of Cervantes and "Don Quixofe," considered the first modern novel. "For me, coming to 'Don Quixote,' this is my retrospec- tive going back to sources of the imagination," Yehoshua says. The descriptions of the films suggest some of Yehoshua's ear- lier short stories, and he admits that two of them are directly based on "The Yatir Evening Express" and "The Last Com- mander," while the others are imagined. If the novel might seem like a retrospective of Yehoshua's own career and the shifts he has made, he'd rather talk about his own interest in the creative process. He's a writer who takes seriously the professions of his heroes, whether they are engineers, lawyers or garage owners. This is the first time he's written about an artist. Here, he creates relationships among the director, cinematographer and screenwriter that show the dynamics between wild imagi- nation, ideas and aesthetics. As a novelist, he performs all of these functions, directing, creating images and developing the storyline. In fact, the dispute between the Ashkenazi director and Sephardi screenwriter is about art the screenwriter sees a fail- ure of imagination in the direc- tor. For the screenwriter, there are no boundaries in art, and no humiliation; art and mean- ing, even beauty, can be drawn even from the most terrible of sources. Theirs is really a conflict between artistic integrity and moral commitment, oneoof the book's underlying themes. Yehoshua believes that art has no borders. But, he says that creating art is "not for the sake of breaking borders, but to reach new understandings of life." The rift between the two men also reflects Israel's societal break, between Jews of Euro- pean background and those from Sephardic, or Oriental backgrounds, between religious and secular. "My feeling is that without cooperation between these two elements, the identity of Israel is in trouble. We need not just an attempt at cooperation, but," he says, weaving his fingers together in the air, "a mutual feeling of each other. "I am a believer in reconcili- ation with the Arabs, with fac- tions in society; I am eager to contribute to reconciliation," says Yehoshua, who is known for hisalignmentwithIsrael's left."I believe in the concept of man's ability to change." He speaks of Zionism as a movement of optimism, based in the tenet that the future can be different from the past. The conversation shifts to the recent elections and peace- making with the Palestinians, which is higheston his national priorities. "I am optimistic," he says, and looks forward to President Obama's plannedvisit later this month. Some on the left, he says, look toward Obama as messiah, but he warns that Obama can't do the job for the Israelis. "In Israel, you have to be edu- cated in democracy--it's in the genes of Americans. You're born from democracy. You know, 'No taxation without representa- tion.'" Frowning, he mentions the possibility of an apartheid state, without democracy, if all citizens are not treated equally. He chides American Jews to become more involved with the peace process. "I am not a navi [prophet] and I am not a ben-navi [the son of a prophet]," Yehoshua says softly, before resuming his high-energy exchange. He's the author of a play recently produced at Tel Aviv's Cameri Theater, "Can We Walk Together," about David Ben- Guri6n and Zev Jabotinsky and a series of meetings they held in London about their political dif- ferences in the 1930s.Yehoshua enjoys sharing the detail that Ben-Gurion once cooked an omelet for Jabotinsky. In 1959, while a student, Yehoshua met with Ben-Gurion--his father's friend Yitzhak Navon was then Ben Gurion's political secre- tary-when he was hired to do research for the prime minister about the Talmudic redactor, Rav Ashi. While Yehoshua is secular, he's very interested in questions of religion. He mentions the Hebrew writer S.Y. Agnon,.who for his generation of novelists is like Tolstoy: the rare example of a writer able to bring art and religion together. WhileYehoshuainvented the film institute in Santiago that was affiliated with the Catholic Church, he admires the ways in which the Catholic Church embraces art in many forms, whether painting, sculpture, music or literature. "I am still waiting for the encounter be- tween Judaism and art." Sandee Brawarsky is the book critic for The New York Jewish Week, from which this article was reprinted by per- mission.