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March 27, 2009     Heritage Florida Jewish News
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March 27, 2009

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HERITAGE FLORIDA JEWISH NEWS, MARCH 27, 2009 PAGE 19A Budget From pa~e 1A declined to sign on because the language objecting to the tax deduction change was not strong enough. Diament said the OU, which represents about 1,000 congregations and operates the largest kosher certification agency in the United States. wanted a "clear statement of opposition" to'the reduction in the tax deduction. JCPA's Washington direc- tor, Hadar Susskind, said the letter took a moderate line because there was "no community consensus" on the charitable deduction proposal. Some in the com- munity were worried about it. but others believed it was good policy and unlikely to have much of an effect on nonprofit groups. "There are varying opinions and nobody really knows what it's going to do," Susskind said, "but because it could have a negative impact, this was our attempt to express community concernswithout implying opposition." Susskind said the issues emphasized in the letter were chosen because they are "big community priorities" that every agency involved in domestic policy cares about. They also encompass both short-term priorities such as the child nutrition pro- grams that are up for reau- thorization this year--and longer-term goals such as health-care reform. Sharkansky From page 4A press conference that he called to defend himself against a media witch-hunt. The live broadcast and countless re- plays have shown him with a distorted face, waving in anger and yelling accusations at the anchor of the prime time news show with the largest audience. Soon after that news con- ference, one of the country's most distinguished attorneys, a former minister of justice, resigned from Katsav's de- fense team. Katsav suspended himself from the presidency, then re- signed shortly before the end of his term. He agreed to a plea bargain that included charges of sexual harassment and indecent acts, a jail Sentence that would be suspended and compensation for two women. Katsav's third action that worsened his situation came 10 months later, when he renounced the plea bargain shortly before it was due to be considered by a district court. It has taken the Attorney General and his staff almost a year from that time to decide that complaints are reliable enough to support indictments for rape as well as the lesser charges. Their announcement set the stage for what appears to have been Katsav's fourth action of self-condemnation. He announced a press confer- ence, accepted a draft from media advisors that would have him speaking for about 20 minutes, and said that he would answer questions. However, he replaced the draft prepared by professionals with his own material that he read for close to three hours. He repeated allegations of being persecuted by a conspiracy of government prosecutors, the media, political and social elites, and false complaints. Television channels stopped their live coverage after an hour or so. Journalists aban- doned the hall. Katsav refused to answer questions. His two media advisors resigned the next morning. Beyond the humiliation of a president accused of severe crimes is the puzzle of why he has made it worse for himself. He recalls the story of Richard Nixon, who succeeded in turn- ing an embarrassing episode at Watergate into the end of his presidency. The charges against Katsav are more damning. What is similar is each man's worsen- ing his chances of survival. Nixon escaped the prospect of a trial for lying and other crimes by virtue of Gerald Ford's sweeping pardon. A wise Katsav, aware of the tinder involved in the charges against him, would have of- fered his resignation, apolo- gized for misunderstandings or unintended harm and com- mitted himself to emotional treatment. That would have ended his political career, but could have saved him and his family a great deal of anguish and the prospect of serious jail time. We do not know the source of considerable outlays for a prestigious team of at- torneys, other advisors and their aides. Why didn't he choose the simple road, rather than repeated displays of angry denial and accusa- tions of conspiracy? I have no convincing answer. He has added the appearance of instability to spreading beliefs that he is guilty of indecency or worse. There remains the cross examination of testimony that some prosecutors con- sider to be problematic. But that assumes that Katsav will not continue to immolate himself in public and that his distinguished lawyers will not follow other professionals who have abandoned him to himself. Ira Sharkansky is profes- sor emeritus, Department of Political Science, Hebrew University of Jerusalem. 4 Nasatir From page 5A We have learned from ex- perience that applying these strategies and methods pro- duces results and earns the trust not only of our contribu- tors but also of our peers, who increasingly have turned to us to make their investments. There's the beginning of a trend afoot among Jewish fed- erations that perhaps also could apply to other charities seeking to bring economies of scale to their investment process, yielding upside benefits while minimizing downside risks. Under the auspices of the United Jewish Communities (UJC) National Jewish Federa- tion Investment Program, 11 federations have combined their investments, with three pools operated by the Boston, Chicago and Miami federa- tions. As one of these pools, in addition to managing the assets of other federations, we also manage the endow- ment assets of a number of synagogues, day schools and other communal institutions. Combined, the three in- vestment pools in the UJC program account for slightly more than $1 billion, but that's less than 10 percent of total investable assets across the 157 Jewish federations in North America, The experi- ence of college and university investment programs sug- gests that one or two $5 billion to $10 billion endowments are likely to enjoy far better long- term performance than 157 separate endowments, most of which are below $50 million. The moral of the story, I believe, is to agglomerate smaller funds into larger ones whenever feasible. The days when charities with invest- ments totaling less than $50 million are able to do the job right are over. By pooling assets, procuring top-drawer professional management, partnering with committed laypeople, engaging highly qualified advisers and rigor- ously applying fundamen- tal investment principles, smaller philanthropic orga- nizations can manage risk effectively, maximize long- term investment success, and thereby deserve and maintain the trust of their donors. That's essential if charities are to be effective in helping those in need at a time when society needs us most. Steven B. Nasatir is presi- dent of the Jewish United Fund~Jewish Federation of Metropolitan Chicago. Tweeting From page 8A terrain can be altogether frightening. "We are taking all of our clients and trying to drag them into the second decade of the 21st century," explained Steve Rabinowitz, half the namesake of Rabinowitz/Dorf Communications, whose cli- ents include Birthright Israel and Hadassah. "It wasn't that long ago our clients were still faxing people and now some of them think that if they're e-mailing people, then they've entered a new realm," Rabinowitz said. To keep these organizations relevant, Rabinowitz said he is pushing them to open Twitter accounts, Facebook accounts and even YouTube accounts. "You have to reach people through the media they're consuming," he said. "If they're not reading the daily newspaper.., then that can't be the only place you're trying to communicate in." Sean Thibault, the com- munications director for the Religious Action Center of Reform Judaism, said he was happy to move his organiza- tion into the virtual world. "We need to be, like any other organization, aware of what users want" and "be aware of where they're build- ing community," Thibault said. The Internet age "really is playing out very well in that young Jews are building expe- riences that happen online, that are just as meaningful to them as something that previ- ously" would have occurred in the physical world, he said. New media is here to stay, Rabinowitz added. "Old media is still alive, but just barely. Old media is for old people." -4 w ! t Europe From page 10A who, for their part, tend to retain native languages and customs, clustering in small enclaves with compatriots," Shada Islam, senior program executive at the European Policy Center, a Brussels think tank, wrote recently in YaleGlobal Online. Meryem says hostility to- ward Muslims is not reserved for immigrants. "We used to be hated because we were foreigners; now it's also because we are Muslims," Meryem said. In Europe, "you can be fourth generation and you are still considered an immigrant, a foreigner." Muslims first began immi- grating to Europe in earnest in the 1960s, when guestworkers from North Africa and the Indian subcontinent--former European colonies--as well as Turkey helped make up for a shortage of blue-collar laborers. Instead of returning to their native countries, the workers stayed on. Muslims now comprise about 5 percent of Europe's population (excluding Tur- key), and they have birthrates that are two to three times the European average. Complaining about Mus- lims has become a common and acceptable part of public discourse in Europe, fueling anti-Muslim political parties. In Belgium, the leaders of the Vlaams Belang (Flem- ish Interest) party openly deride Islam, lamenting the country's "mushrooming of mosques" and the "Muslim invasion," and warning that it's only a matter of time be- fore non-Muslim women are forced to wear burkas. The party doubled its representa- tion on local councils in the 2006 municipal elections, and in 2007 it received 12 percent of the national vote, making it Belgium's third largest party. Austria's Freedom Party, which also has a record of anti-Muslim rhetoric, grew to 17 percent in 2008 from 11 percent in 2006. Last year, Dutch mem- ber of Parliament Geert Wilders released a contro- versial 17-minute film called "Fitna"--Arabic for a "test of faith'--that links Islam to ter- rorism. Wilders said he made the film as a wake-up call "to shake off the creeping tyranny of Islamization." Some scholars see racial bias at the root of Europe's often troubled relationship with its Muslim minority. "The fact that Muslims in France are blacks and Arabs is critical to how they are perceived in French society, not their religion," said Jus- tin Vaisse, a senior fellow at the Brookings Institution in Washington and co-author of the book "Integrating Islam." In France, which has the largest Muslim population in Western Europe, estimated at 10 percent, or nearly 6 million people, most Muslims have roots fr0m North Africa and, to a lesser extent, East Africa. Discrimination against them in employment and housing is race-based, Vaisse suggested. Although there are count- less Muslim success stories in Europe, particularly in Britain, which has a large Muslim middle class, most European Muslims occupy the bottom socioeconomic rungs of society, where poverty and crime rates are high. Clara Marina O'Donnell, an analyst at the London- based Center for European Reform, says the lower finan- cial achievement of Muslims in some countries has made themascapegoat for xenopho- bic political groups. "There is a noticeable fear of immigration due to the eco- nomic climate, even though we are talking about people who have lived in Europe for decades," O'Donnell said. "Extreme-right parties exploit that fear and use anti-Islam rhetoric as a stand-in for pure racism." However, O'Donnell notes, most mainstream politicians are careful not to offend Mus- lims. In February, Britain's home secretary went so far as to deny Wilders entry into Britain for fear that his visit would cause social unrest., Wilders was turned around at Heathrow Airport. Sami Zemni, a Muslim political science professor at Belgium's University of Ghent, said the focus in Europe on Muslim fundamentalists has created a distorted view of the Muslims who live on the continent. "There are days-long de- bates by European lawmakers on whether women should be allowed to wear burkas when there are like 10 women per country actually wearing them," he said. Just as anti-Semites think there is a stereotypical Jew, Zemni said, those hostile to Islam think there is a stereo- typical Muslim. Sometimes, he said, when he explains to people that "I don't believe in stoning adul- terers or conducting a holy war, they don't believe me, or they say I am a self-hating Muslim." Weary of being stereotyped as religious fanatics or poten- tial terrorists, more than a few middle-class Muslim profes- sionals have left Europe for jobs in the Persian Gulf states. But most have learned to live with the negative image re- flected back at them through personal encounters, political discourse and the media. At a Muslim community center in Bradford, Britain, four teenage girls of Pakistani heritage told JTA that they've grown used to being called terrorists by classmates, who give them nicknames like "bin Lady," a play on bin Laden. "I just laugh at it," says Kuaran Javid, 15. "I am so used to it, I don't even notice." But this 50rt of discrimina- tion can have dangerous con- sequences, warns Navidikhtar, director of the Forum Against Islamophobia and Racism in London. Radical groups seek to capitalize on the alienation of young adults who have suffered from years of casual racism, recruiting young Muslims to radical causes, "The al-Qaida narrative is that Muslims are despised and hated by the West," Akhtar said. "If you live in Bradford and you tend to spend most of your time with people of your own ethnic background, you might be more likely to buy into that narrative." E Call Jeff at 407-834-8787