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April 5, 2013     Heritage Florida Jewish News
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PAGE 12A HERITAGE FLORIDA JEWISH NEWS, APRIL 5, 2013 By Ron Kampeas WASHINGTON (JTA)The conviction in Cyprus of a He- zbollah operative plottingto attack'Israelis could undercut efforts by the terrorist group to carry out additional attacks outside the Middle East. The conviction two week's ago was the second confir- mation in recent months that Hezbollah is active on European soil. The fi ,st was when Bulgarian authorities identified the Lebanon-based terrorist group as being behind the July 2012 bombing in Bur- gas that left six people dead, five of them Israelis. Hezbollah also is believed to be behind recent plots against Israelis and Jews in India, Thailand and Azerbaijan. The Cyprus conviction makes Europe likelier to list Hezbollah as a terrorist group, and that would bring new restrictions on Hezbollah thatwould have immediate op- erational consequences for the group, says Daniel Benjamin. the top counterterrorism offi- cial at the State Department in President Obama's first term. "IfHezbollah has to increase its operational security in Eu- rope, if it can't use Europe to fundraise or travel through, it will be challenged to innovate to avoid being caught by Eu- ropean authorities," Benjamin, now the director of the Dickey Center for International Un- derstanding at Dartmouth College told JTA. The Cyprus court found Hossam Taleb Yaacoub guilty of a plot to attack Israeli tour- ists in the Mediterranean island nation. Yaacoub, Who holds Lebanese and Swedish passports, was trained in the use of weapons and scouted sites in Europe, including a Cypriot airport. Yaacoub acknowledged, membership in Hezbollah and staking out areas frequentgd by Israeli tourists, but said he did not know his work was part of aplot to kill Israelis. The court, which has yet t6 sentence him, rejected the denial. The evidence that led to Yaacoub's conviction helps tip the balance toward list- ing Hezbollah as.a terrorist organization, diplomats from two leading European Union member states told JTA. Hez- bollah already is considered a terrorist group by the United States,Israel and several other countries. "Our position is that we've always said that if we have proof that holds up in court, we can enter the procedure," Said Karl-Matthias Klause, the spokesman for the Ger- man Embassy in Washington. "There is a general readiness into looking into forbiddingthe military wing of Hezbollah." The other diplomat, whose country has been among those resisting such a classification, said the Cyprus conviction would make it harder not to classify Hezboliah as a terror- ist group. "Bulgaria and Cyprus changes the equation," said the diplomat, who insisted on anonymity. "The topic becomes one of European solidarity." Matthew Levitt. "a former counterterrorism analyst at the FBI and a senior terrorism analyst at the Treasury Depart- ment in the George W: Bush administration, said he had just returned from meetings in Europe with security and 'foreign affairs officials. "No one is debating anymore whether they are terrorists," said Levitt, who is now asenior fellow analyzing counterter- rorism atthe Washington Institute for Near East Policy. "Now it's more, will designat- ing them as terrorist group un- dermine security in Lebanon? I can have that conversation; it's a better one than 'are they terrorists?'" The timing is propitious, said Levitt: Hezbollah is re- activating outside the Middle East for the first time in more than a decade, partly because of pressures on its two main sponsors, Iran and Syria. Its recent plots have been more hits than misses, which Levitt attributes to Hezbollah being out of practice and because Iran is rushing the group into staging attacks. "Now you see in Cyprus what happens when they go back to tradecraft," Levitt said, referring to Yaacoub's careful monitoring of the comings and goings of Israeli tourists. U.S. and Israeli officials for months have been pressing Europe to list Hezbollah as a terrorist group. Obama re- peated the call two weeks ago during his Israel visit. "When I think about Israel's security, I think about five Israelis who boarded a bus in Bulgaria, who were blown up because of where they came from; robbed of the ability to Yossi Zeliger/FLASH90/JTA Survivors of the Hezbollah terror attack on the Israeli tour bus in Burgas, Bulgaria, returning to Israel on July 19, 2012 with the help of the Israeli Air Force. live, and love and raise fami- lies." Obama told a convention center in Jerusalem packed with cheering university stu- dents. "That's why every coun- try that values justice should call Hezbollah what it truly is: a terrorist organization." The diplomat from the coun- try reluctant until recently to .list Hezbollah as terrorist said the issue is complicated by the fact that Hezbollah is part of the Lebanese government. Cutting off the group would curtail European influence in Lebanon at an especially sensi- tive time: Lebanon is absorbing refugees from the Syrian civil war, and there are concerns that the fighting in Syria may spill over into Lebanon. "We have to keep in mind that Lebanon is ver,j~fragile and we have to avoid what could further destabilize it." the diplomat said. One possible solution touted in Europe would be to des- ignate Hezbollah's so-called military wing as terroristwhile maintaining ties with its politi- cal operation in Lebanon. The United States recogniz- es no such distinction, Levitt said. but if Europe wanted to do so. there likely would be no U.S. objection. "They want to make the distinction for convenience, they want to have leverage, so fine," he said. One outcome U.S. officials should oppose. Levitt said. would be to designate only individuals with Hezbollah but not the group as a whole as terrorist. Benjamin said sparing He- zbollah's political wing would not be a problem as long as the banon the military wing made it harder to raise money and run agents. "A designation worth any- thing will include a ban on solicitation and fundraising in Europe, and provide the legal predicatg for terrorism prosecutions." he said. Should Europe take those steps, it could embolden other countries to do so as well. Benjamin said. "'Hezbollah being desig- nated by Europewill embolden other countries to step up cooperation around the world." he said. EWISH Central Florida's Fastest Growing Segment of the Jewish Community April 17, 2013 9 By Rabbi Rachel Esserman The Vestal (N.Y) Reporter Sometimes the right book appears at just the right time. That was the case with Anne Lamott's"Help, Thanks, Wow: The Three Essential Prayers." The past few months have been difficult for a variety of reasons and I've been seeking ways to handle the stress. When writing about asking God for help, the Christian Lamott offers suggestions for dealing with difficult times. Her advice made me look closer at my Jewish thoughts and practices. Lamott believes in order to survige our hardest moments. we must release our problems and hand them over to God. The idea is that we mere humans can't control every- thing and one of our biggest mistakes is when we try to change the world. It's a nice sentiment, yet I found myself answering her 'thought with one from contemporary Jew- ish prayer books: "Pray as if everything depended on God. Act as if everything depended onyou." In otherwords, prayer alone is not ergo.ugh; human actions also matter. Of course, if we view the world realistically, we know we can't control everything. In fact, a careful look at our lives shows just how little we do control. That's the reason Reinhold Niebuhr's serenity prayers have proved .valuable to so many people: "God grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change; courage to change the things I can; andwisdom to know the difference." in ".~ ~ ~ ~ T A,: N W() V AN NE L OT T Naama Shafir (4) was the first Orthodox female basket- ball playerto receive an NCAA Division I scholarship. It is a very wise statement. Yet. once again. Jewish thought partly contradicts it: In "Pirke Avot," Rabbi Tarfon informs us thatwhile"it is not yours to complete the task... neither are you free to desist from it." Basically that translates into, "yes, I know you can't change everything, but that doesn't mean you can stop trying." The question could be asked as to whether Tarfon is talking about our personal lives or our political ones (our obligation to perform tikun olam-repair of the world). That raises yet another que- ry: Is the personal political, as feminists have suggested? Judaism answers that ques- tion with a resounding "yes:" Our religious practice is not restricted to the synagogue, but must be followed in our personal, public and business lives. In the Torah, there is no distinction between re- ligious law and secular law: It's all religious law, from fair weights and measures, to not withholding a person's wages at the end of the day, to honor- ing our elders. These thoughts were all interesting, but my personal dilemma still remained: How do I balance my Jewish prac- tice while still reducing the amount of stress I face? One interesting suggestion came from a Buddhist-themed book about business. The author writes that something can be so broken, major changes must be made in order for it to survive. Other times, we may have to ac- knowledge something can't be saved and move on from there. His ideas show a way to combine the other traditions: we can always do something, although our actions may not support our hopes and dreams. "It is difficult to find'a bal- ance because every change forces us to make new deci- sions. Prayer can be helpful because it allows us to dig deep inside ourselves and find the strength to continue. That's where Lamott's advice is so valuable: We must remem- ber to ask for help when our courage and determination start to flag; to say thanks when someone or something shows us beauty and caring, no matter how small; and to say wow at the awesomeness of creation we sometimes are too preoccupied to notice. Rabbi Rachel Esserman is the executive editor of The Reporter Group. She can be reached at rachel@thereport- ergroup.org.