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April 5, 2013

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PAGE 4A I - David Bornstein Birthright Some m~nths back. Charles and Roz ten. instantly enamored, impressed with the Schwartz were coming home from a trip to enthusiasm every single one of the young men Israel when they found themselves surrounded and women expressed. By the time he got off by young adults who were returning from a the plane, he'd made a vow to himself to help Birthright Israel mission. Charles was .smit- Birthright in some way. Letter from Israel Obama, Israel, and Palestine By Ira Sharkansi~ at keeping order amidst a restive population, and explain why the Palestinians look at their We did not intend to flee Jerusalem when government with even more cynicism than the great man arrived, but we saw no reason Israelis look at theirs. to change our plans when we heard about his The anger of the Palestinians toward Obama, trip. On the basis of prewous presidential visits, apparently because he has not done enough for we knew that the city would be dysfunctional, them. together with more than 70,000 dead Our visit to Greece provided insights into the Syrians and several hundred thousand refugees functioning of empires, even if it kept us away sufferinggreatlyandputtingpressureonTurkey from the flood of interpretations about what andJordan, pluswhateverishappeninginEgypt Obama said and did not say inaicates that Obama didn't get anything from None the less, it is possible to conclude from a that Cairo speech of 2009 except a misplaced number ofsourcesaboutas muchasit ispossible Nobel Peace Prize. to know at this point. It is not surprising that Americans are inward At least to some extent, the president suc- looking and choose their leaders on looks, good ceeded in his mission to reach out to the Israeli speeches, andwhat they promise to do at home. public. No one should think in terms'of a love However. the role of the US in the world allows feast, but polls show an increase in favorable its ignorance to do a great deal of damage. sentime.nts and a decline in those seeing him Barack Obama may be brighter and more as primarily pro-Palestinian, sensitive than most of his recent predecessors. He did not do well with the Palestinians. but his learning ~urve has been at the expense There were demonstrations before and during of people no less human than Americans. his visits to Bethlehem and Ramailah. The most The mantra of a two-state solution lives. prominent expression against him during his Americans, Europeans. as well as the Jewish and major speech to Israeli students was that of an Israeli left see no other possibility except for the Israeli Arab. fantasy of a one-state solution thatwill somehow It wasn't clever of whoever decided not to overcome Israeli sentiments, every expression invite students to his major speech from Ariel heard from Israeli prime ministers, andtheIDF. University in the West Bank. Someone in the Perhaps the Palestinians deserve a state, White House continues with the silliness that despite their political in incompetence. America Jewish settlements are at the heart of whatever has 50.They can offerArkansas or South Dakota is wrong with the Middle East. to the Palestinians without losing much of the SeveralcommentatorsperceivefromObama's national treasure. That won't satisfy all of the comments, hints, and silences that he--and/ world's needs. There will remain demands from or his advisers perceive that Palestinians' dissatisfied e Luoo Basques, Catalans, Scots. rejectionism, or sharp splits in the Palestinian Welch, French Canadians, and God knows how polity areat leastas problematic for the two-state many others. Yet political correctriess should be vision as anything due to Israeli intransigence, paid for by those who cleave to it. '~Nhy should Amira Hass is a correspondent for Ha'aretz Israel pay for the dreams of Americans, Europe- who defines the outer reaches of the Israeli left. ans, and Arabs who want someone else to help She used to write from Gaza, then even she felt the Palestinians? it necessary to move to Ramallah for reasons of "It's also clear that neitherArkansas nor South security. Usually she writes about the suffering Dakota will satisfy the Palestinians. They want of PalestiniansduetowhatsheseesasIsrael'sex- Israel. I don't know about Amira Hass, but I'm cessive concerns for defense, or the insensitivity prettysure that most ofthe Israelileftwilldecline of soldiers. This week, however, she wrote about the opportunity to serve the Palestiniansbymov- the contrast betweenPalestiniandreams ofinde- ing back to Grandpa's home in Lodz, Kishinev, pendence and the reality of their depen~dence on Benghazi, Baghdad, Saana, or Fall River. Israel and the United States. Both control much It is too early to expect any tangible effects of of the Palestinians' income, and have shown a thepresidentialvisit.ItcamejustbeforePassover, willingness to punish with delayed payments which is one of the occasions when Israel goes whenever the Palestinian leadership reaches too on vacation. Parks, tourist sites, hotels, and bed farbeyondIsraeliorAmericantolerance. There andbreakfastsinJerusalemandtheGalileehave are also problems with the donations promised been full. The media has dealt more with traf- from European and Arab sources. Deliveries are tic accidents and other holiday tragedies than chronically short of commitments, anything political. It will be a few more days Hass describes a situation where the greater until serious business begins, and even then portion of Palestine's budget goes for "security," only the optimists should be hopeful. and much smaller portions to education and IraSharkanskyisprofessoremeritus, Depart- health. Assuming that the published budgets ment of Political Science, Hebrew University of approach reality, those figures suggest that Jerusalem. He may be reached at irashark@ much of the Palestinians' efforts are directed THE VIEWS EXPRESSED ON THIS PAGE ARE NOT NECESSARILY THE VIEWS OF HERITAGE MANAGEMENT. CENTRAL FLORIDA'S ISSN 0199-072i" Winner of 41 Press Awards EWISH NEWS INDEPENDENT JEWISHVOICE ~ ~ Editor/Publisher Jeffrey Gaeser Editor Emeritus Associate Editor Assistant Editor Gene Stare Mike Etzkin Kiln Fischer HERITAGE Florida Jewish News (ISN 0199-0721 is published weekly for $37,95 per year to Florida ad- dresses ( $46.95 for the rest of the U.S.) by H~ERITAGE Central Florida Jewish News, Inc., 207 O'Brien Road, Suite 101, Fern Park, FL 32730. Periodicals postage paid at Fern Park and additional mailing offices. POSTMASTER: Send address changes and other correspondence to: HERITAGE, P.O. Box 300742, Fern Park, FL 32730. MAILING ADDRESS PHONE NUMBER P.O. Box 300742 (407) 834-8787 Fern Park, FL 32730 FAX (407.) 831-0507 email:" Society Editor Bookkeeping Gloria Yousha Paulette Alfonso Account Executives Barbara do Carmo Marci Gaeser Richard Ries Contributing Columnists Jim Shipley Ira Sharkansky Tim Boxer David Bomstein Terri Fine Ed Ziegler Production Department David Lehman David Gaudio Tefi Marks Elaine Schooping * Gil Dombrosky * Caroline Pope HERITAGE, FLORIDA JEWISH NEWS, APRIL 5, 2013 For those of you who don't know, Birthright Israel began with a simple, if bold concept: to strengthen Jewish Identity, Jewish com- munities and Jewish commitment to Israel by sending young adults from around the world- on a free, 10-day educational trip to Israel. The trips never proselytized, though they did aimto inspire. They geared themselves to awid.e range of interests: intellectual, outdoor adventures. religious and spiritual.Participants can choose the trip that best suits them. Since the first trip in the winter of 2000, the program has grown from a base of college students in the United States and Canada to young adults ages 18-26 in 62 countries. At this point more than 330,000 people have experienced a Birthright Israel trip. That's the amazing story in a nutshell. Now in its bar mitzvah year, there are more than 50.000 participants annually, a staggering number. And Central Florida, with its large number of Jewish students at the University of Central Florida, Rollins College and junior colleges, sends more than 375 young adults on a trip every year. That's the good news. Here's the part most people don't know. While everyone who wants to go has an equal chance, there is a lottery system to get in. And in 2012, while 382 people went on a Birthright Israel trip from Central Florida, 375 were waitlisted: So what's the big deal? Those 375 can apply again and go, right? Well, it's not that simple. You see, most young adults have a limited window of oppor- tunity to go on atrip like this. Life intervenes. They get jobs. They get married. Their sched- ules fill. They block out time for a Birthright Israel trip, and if they don't get it the first time around, 80 percent of them never apply again. The vast majority of those who don't go the first time they apply never go at all. So when Charles returned home and got all the facts, he came up with a mission of his own: to send an additional busload of 18-26. year olds from Central Florida on a Birthright Israel trip. He's approached this in his own inimicable low-key style. A friendly ask here. a pressure free letter campaign there. He made a sizable gift himself to get the ball rolling, and with a matching funds program available through Birthright. he hopes to help double participation in our community, capturing a significant portion of that 80 percent who never go. Now it's easy to lump Birthright Israel into all the charities that don't really need support. After alLwhy should you or I give money to an organization that sends mostly rich kids Who don't need the help on a mission to Israel? The answer, my friends, is easy. Without the entice- ment of a free trip. most of these young adults will never go on a mission to Israel and that mission, it has been proven, is life changing, transformative. Take it from someone whose oldest child went and came back different. resolved on a deeper level to be a more com- mitted Jew. In fact. our son Ethan befriended several Israeli soldiers on the trip to the point where he was a step away from making aliya and joining the Israeli army himself. (He didn't, but he still considers it an option in his life.) Take a look at the website: www.birthright- And if you're moved to give. make a tax deductible contribution, however large or small, to Birthright Israel. and send it to Charles' attention at his company, Avanti Properties Group, 923 N. Pennsylvania Ave., Winter Park, FL 32789. You'll be participating in one of the great movements that is changing the future of Judaism. And that's the good word. The opinions expressed in this column are the writer's, and not those of the Heritage or any other Jewish organization. Write the Heritage, or email your comments, critiques and concerns to By Ben Cohen As .we mark Yom HaShoah (Holocaust Remembrance Day) on April 8 for the 60th consecutive year~--this somber day was first placed onto the Jewish calendar in 1953. at the instigation of Israel's first Prime Minister, David Ben Gurion we again ask ourselves a deceptively simple question: Why do we still remember the 6 million Jews who perished in theNazi Holocaust, along with millions of others? There ~s no better day than Yom HaShoah to explore these issues. Unlike the various other Holocaust Memorial Days that take place during the year, most commonly on Jan. 27 (the United Nations-designated International Holocaust Remembrance Day), Yom HaShoah is an overtly Jewish occasion, launched by a Jewish state that came into existence only three years after the Second World War ended with the defeat of the Nazis and their allies. As with any genocide, the Holocaust pro- vides us with an opportunity to consider both particular and universal lessons. I intend to look at both, and then suggest ways in which the particular and the universal might be intelligently merged. Let's start with the particular: The state of the Jews and the manner in which that most toxic and persistent of hatreds, ~ti-Semitism, continues to impact us. Two immediate, and on the surface contra- dictory, conclusions can be reached. On the one hand, the post-Holocaust era has been, relative to the broad sweep of Jewish history, something of a golden age. In the vast majority of states in which we live, Jews experience no legal discrimination, and the kind of violent, mass anti-Semitism that distinguished the Nazi period seems a historical relic. There are approximately 13.5 million Jews in the world today, compared with 11 million in 1945 a figure that underlines the failure of the Nazis to fulfill their plan of eliminating the Jewish people globally. In the main, Jews are well- represented in the wealthier, more educated demographic of the world's population. Most importantly of all,we have, in the State of Israel, a place under the sun and, as a consequence, the ability to defend ourselves against present and future enemies. Now for the flip side. It is also true that anti- Semitic sentiment today is more widespread, and more socially acceptable, than at any other time since 1945. But because so much of this hostility is couched in enmity towards Israel, and because anti-Semites want to engage in anti-Semitism without being tarred with the now vulgar appellation "anti-Semitic," we are told that protesting these views encourages the further spread of anti-Semitism and amounts to shutting down free speech! Our enemies tell us that we are over-sensitive, and that we label all criticism of Israel as anti-Semitic. But comparing Israel to the Nazis, or arguing that the lesson of the Holocaust is that Jews should be ten times more noble and pacific than everybody else, as these same enemies regularly do, isn't criticism of Israeli policy. It's anti-Semitism in a more slippery form. Nor can we discount the prospect that state-sponsored anti-Semitism will return. Indeed, in several countries around the world. among them Hungary, Venezuela and Tur- key, long-established Jewish populations are again considering emigration because their governments are either directly promoting anti-Semitism las in Turkey and Venezuela) or collaborating with and encouraging anti-' Semitic political parties (like the Jobbik party in Hungary.) All these realities warn against complacency. It's hard to get that point across to Jews today, particularly in the U.S., where anti-Semitism never reached the lethal levels of Europe and the Muslim world, and in Israel, where anti- Semitism is regarded as more of a historical rather than contemporary matter. That's why an intelligent appraisal of current anti- Semitism is essential. Talk too much about the 1930s, and people rightly switchoff absent the existence of concentration camps, pogroms and Nuremburg-style discrimination laws, the comparison makes no sense. Equally, glibly declaring that we've never had it so good blinds us to festering problems in countries that most American Jews have never visited. What about the universal lessons? The world since 1945 has witnessed numerous genocides (and there could have very well been a second genocide of the Jews in the Soviet Union in 1953--the same year that Y0m HaShoah was in- stituted-had Joseph Stalin not suddenly died as his post-war anti-Semitic campaignwas reaching " its peak. Therewas East Pakistan/Bangladesh in 1971 (a comparatively early example of Muslims slaughtering other Muslims,) Cambodia in the late 1970s, Zimbabwe in the early 1980s, Iraqi Kurdistan in the late 1980s, Bosnia and Kosovo .in the 1990~, and Darfur, western Sudan, North Korea and Syria in our own time. And yes, I am quite aware that there are several other examples Remembrance on page 15A