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March 25, 2016     Heritage Florida Jewish News
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March 25, 2016

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PAGE 2A HERITAGE FLORIDA JEWISH NEWS, MARCH 25, 2016 P Win McNamee/Getty Images Donald Trump speaking at a primary night news conference in Palm Beach, Fla., March 15, 2016. By Ron Kampeas WASHINGTON 0TA)--Has Donald Trump's time come, and will Jewish political con- servatives embrace him? Trump, the real estate magnate and front-runner for the Republican presidential nomination, rolled closer to victory on Tuesday with wins in at least three primary states. His strong showing, earning 161 delegates or more depending on the final tally in Missouri, broughthis delegate tally to 621--halfway to the 1,237 he needs to secure the nomination. The question for Jewish political conservatives is whether to hold their noses and embrace him. With Sen. Marco Rubio's departure from the race after losing decisively in his home state of Florida, the alterna- tives for Jewish conservatives are narrowing: Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas, who remained locked in a dead heat with Trump in Missouri as of Wednesday morning, and Ohio Gov. John Kasich, who won his home state. Both men still face a daunt- ing challenge in overcom- ing Trump. But cable news pundits theorized Tuesday night that Kasich's victoTy, along with the delegates Cruz already accrued having won seven states so far, could keep Trump from winning the majority of delegates and bring the party to a brokered convention in July. Trump's rise has appalled the Republican establish- ment, and even more so its Jewish contingent, many of whom have openly rejected his candidacy. They have reeled both at his insistence that he would remain neutral on Israeli-Palestinian peacemak- ing and his rhetoric targeting Muslims and Mexicans. The "Jews are next" thought that haunts the Jewish psyche every time minorities are targeted seemed to bear out the day before the primaries, when a Trump surrogate, Pas- tor Mark Burns, mocked Sen. Bernie Sanders, the Jewish Vermonter vying for the Democratic nomination. "Bernie Sanders, who doesn't believe in God, how in the world are we gonna let Bernie... really?" Burns told a crowd in Hickory, North Caro- lina. "He gotta meet Jesus, he gotta have a coming to Jesus meeting." Sanders is not known to be an atheist. The Anti- Defamation League called the remarks "offensive, errone- ous, and exclusionary." Rubio, who had emerged as the favorite of Jewish foreign policy hawks, could not bring himself to mention Trump's name in his concession speech Tuesday night, delivering a plea for a party "built on prin- ciples and ideas, not on anger, not on preying on people's frustrations." Trump in his victory speech congratulated Rubio, whom he had derided as "Little Marco" for much of the cam- paign, for having fought hard and predicted a"great future" for him. Speaking from his palatial home in South Florida, Trump took aim at the Obama admin- istration's trade policies and the Iran nuclear deal, saying it had released $150 billion in Iranian frozen assets for "nothing." He wound up his speech by calling the reporters present"disgusting," eliciting laughter from his supporters. There are signs that Trump may be getting a grudging second look from Republican Jews dedicated to the proposi- tion of keeping a Democrat out of the White House. Israel Hayom, the Israeli newspaper owned by Sheldon Adel- son, the Las Vegas casino magnate and kingmaker in GOP politics, plastered its Wednesday front page with a photo of Trump and the headline "Within Reach." The newspaper is known to gener- ally reflect Adelson's political preferences in Israel and the United States. Rudolph Giuliani, the for- mer New York mayor who was an early Jewish establishment favorite during his failed 2008 presidential campaign, had told the newspaper the day before that Trump was all but inevitable as a candidate. "They're all going to get be- hind Donald Trump," Giuliani said. "Here's one thing we're united about--we do notwant Hillary Clinton as president of the United States." Adelson has yet to declare his support for a candidate, although for a period he was said to be wavering be- tween Cruz and Rubio. The Israeli political blogger Tal Schneider reported that at an event honoring Giuliani two weeks ago in Las Vegas, Adel- son replied "Why not?" when asked if he would support Trump, and praised Trump's success as a businessman. Clinton, with her own de- cisive string of victories on Tuesday, also took a clear step toward securing the Demo- cratic nomination. With 1,094 delegates to Sanders' 774, catching up looks to be more difficult than ever for Sanders, who had hoped to repeat his surprise victory last week in Michigan and forge a path to to the nomination through the Midwestern states. Clinton's wins in Ohio, Illinois, Florida and North Carolina dashed those hopes. Factoring in super- delegates--party officials who have promised to back her--Clinton now has 1,561 delegates of the 2,383 total delegates necessary to secure the nomination. Clinton and Sanders remained in a close race in Missouri as of Wednes- day morning. "We are moving closer to se- curing the Democratic Party nomination and winning this election in November," Clin- ton said at her victory party Tuesday night in West Palm Beach, Florida. Clinton praised Sanders for his "vigorous" campaign, but her remarks made clear she is training her sights on Trump, citing some of Trump's more controversial positions, including the use of torture against prisoners of war and barring Muslims from entering the country. "That doesn't make him strong--it makes him wrong," Clinton said. "To be great we can't be small." By Sean Savage JNS .org On March 14, Russian Pres- ident Vladimir Putin made a surprise announcement that he would withdraw the "main part" of Russian forces from Syria, in an announcement that shocked many of the countries concerned about the ongoing conflict in the country, including Israel. The move by Putin came as Syrian peace talks began this week in Geneva, Switzerland between the Syrian government, and opposition and rebel groups in the wake of a ceasefire announced in late February between Russia and the United States. "I believe that the task put before the defense ministry and Russian armed forces has, on the whole, been fulfilled. With the participation of the Russian military...the Syrian armed forces and patriotic Syrian forces have been able to achieve a fundamental turn- around in the fight against international terrorism and have taken the initiative in almost all respects," Putin reportedly told his govern- ment ministers. A long-time ally of the Syrian government dating back to the Cold War, Russia entered the Syrian civil war last fall on the pretense that it would be attacking Islamic extremist groups like the Islamic State. However, over time reports indicated that Russian forces were largely targeting Syrian rebel groups that were battling the Syr- ian government. Bolstered by Russia, Syrian President Bashar A1-Assad was able to reverse significant loses and even begin to regain territory, especially near Syria's largest city of Aleppo. Despite this week's draw- down announcement, Putin also said that Russian forces would remain at the Russian naval base in Tartus and its Hmeimim airbase in Syria, a claim that has also led to ques- tions about the extent of Rus- sia's actual withdrawal from the country. Many nations and leaders are also leftwondering about the future direction of the five-year-old Syrian civil war, as well as Putin's goals and motivations regarding the embattled country. Israel Defense Forces Chief of StaffLt. Gen. Gadi Eisenkot said at a Knesset hearing on March 15 that Israel "had no prior information about the Russian announcement of a reduction in its involvement, just as others didn't." Anna Borshchevskaya, a fellow and Russian expert at the Washington Institute for Near East Policy, told JNS. org that "Putin likes to test himself in the role of a great leader and peacemaker. This situation allows him to look like a peacemaker. Somebody who carries out a limited military campaign and see it through." Israel was initially troubled by Moscow's intervention in Syria last fall on the side of Assad, a long time enemy of Israel. Additionally, Israel is concerned that by Russia bolstering Assad it would also allow Iran and its Lebanese terror proxy Hezbollah, whose fighters are also fighting on behalf of the Syrian govern- ment, to strengthen as well. But despite these concerns, Israel and Russia quickly established an operating mechanism for cooperation in Syria that would prevent each side from accidently attacking the other. Following the announce- ment by Putin, Russian envoy to Israel Alexey Drobinin at- tempted to assuage fears in ( Brett Loewen- stern, who competed on the talent-seeking reality show "American Idol" in 2011, made aliyah and plans to enlist in the Israel Defense Forces (IDF) after falling in love with Israel on a Taglit-Birthright trip in 2012. After moving to Israel, Loewenstern said he will join an IDF military band following his enlistment in the Israeli army. Reporters and television crews waited for Loewenstern when he arrived on a Nefesh B'Nefesh aliyah agency char- ter flight in Israel, and the Israeli newspaperYediothAh- ronoth covered his story with the headline, "He's a star." "I came off the plane hold- ing a giant teddy bear in my hand, which I use as a pillow," Loewenstern told the Times of Israel. Israel that a Russian pullout would lead to further insta- bility. "We will try to ensure that this (Syria) crisis is resolved, and we will also do everything so that Israel's national secu- rity interests are not harmed in the process," Drobinin told Yedioth Ahronoth without elaborating. In separate remarks to Israeli Army Radio, Drobinin said that Russia will remain mindful of Israel's concerns. "All of a sudden a TV crew runs up asking to interview me, and my phone rings from a reporter with the IDF magazine," he said, calling the experience "humbling." Israel's Guy Pines entertain- ment TV show referred to him as "the ginger Jew from 'Idol,'" a characterization Loewen- stern particularly likes. After appearing on "Ameri- can Idol," where he made it to the top 24 and was elimi- nated after singing "Light My Fire," Loewenstern enrolled in Boston's Berklee College of Music, where he majored in performance and song- writing. He has performed Israel's national anthem, "HaTikvah," and other Israeli songs at many Jewish commu- nity events, and has partnered with Israeli composer Matti Kovler on various projects. His Birthright trip was a "Israel is a neighboring country. It cannot be indif- ferent to what is happening in Syria. We take this into account, of course," he said. "We have an ongoing dialogue with the Israeli side on all levels--the military level and diplomatic level." On March 16, in a previ- ously scheduled visit, Israeli President Reuven Rivlin also traveled to Moscow to meet with Putin. "There is a need for coordi- nation with Russia regarding the current situation," Rivlin told reporters while in transit to Moscow. "Everyone under- stands that Islamic State is a danger to the entire world, but the Shi'ite fundamentalist Islam of Iran is for us no less a threat," he said. Borshchevskaya also be- lieves that Russia's drawdown in Syria will give Putin an advantage in the peace talks, Russian on page 15A Brett Loewenstern on 'American Idol in 2011. turning point since it was "the first time I felt true inner peace," and "after Birthright, I could not stop coming back [to Israeli," said Loewenstern. "Israel to me represents all that my ancestors fought to keep. This is something for all of us, and I am proud to be here doing something I think my ancestors would have been proud of... As Jews, we come from different countries and backgrounds and cultures. I made aliyah to feel connected to other Jews from around the world, and to build more bridges between Israel and Diaspora Jews, who are so separated now," he added.