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April 9, 2004     Heritage Florida Jewish News
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HE. RITAGE FLORIDA JEWISH NEWS, APRIL 9, 2004 Jewish photo by Rachel Pomerance/JTA lewish students Jamie Weinstein, left, a member of the board of the Cornell College Republicans, and Michael Akavan, a former president of Cornell's College Democrats, discuss politics on March 12 at Cornell University in Ithaca, N.Y. I By Rachel Pomerance terrorist attacks--they were " ~ h/~," further invigorated by former , ~W YORK (JTA)--As presidentialcandidateHoward President of the College Demo- Dean's outreach on campus-- 1 University last Michael Akavan avoided of Israel. never brought it up," didn't seem neces- said at first. When he admitted t be very pro- and very involved with he said, me the wrong Republican and Col- groups have the topic of Israel to some of vigorous debate on lestinian con- many Jewish students are pay- ing close attention to the presi- dential race. It's also the first presiden- tial election since serious cam- pus activism on the Israeli- Palestinian conflict began in light of the Palestinian intifada. Most Jewish students are expected to mirror Jews na- tionally and students in gen- eral by voting Democratic. But a range of Jewish stu- dents think a chunk of their demographic, including dis- enchanted Democrats, will vote for President Bush be- cause of his support for Israel. It may be a by-product of the fact that "the anti-Israel i~a! n terrorism paramount, racing the U.S.-led war in t~Y and pro-Israel polic in --=L Vision. Y na ee o. crats have focused have --" uomestic issues and ailowedanh war Israel "- andanti- Wi voices into their fold. . . "th student activism and Interest in World o Ing s'- - p iitics ris- race the Sept. 11, 2001, st J-'rnay influence Jewish people on campus are affili- N~en-ts'votesforpresidentin ated with the liberal causes," 'yeraber. said Noam Haberman, a se- Republicans have made the nior at New York University RS On it~ Lev Krichevsky ew in- in the former has passed a reso- ming terror- become a de- ghts in the Orthodox Jews, Would never step of terror. Convinced that the have conscien- terrorists have r OWn faith," read inMarch Council of of Inde- formed Interreligious lg Forum of CIS un- of the Russian an impor- diplomatic 10rtho- hich has seen its and vice president of Cesher, a pro-Israel group on campus. According to Harvard jun- ior Jonathan Abel, who covers the election for The Harvard Crimson, Bush's war on ter- rorism resonates with Jews and will sway those on the fence. But with college campuses generally bastions of liberal- political influence over the Rus- sian leadership grow in recent years. The new interfaith organi- zation "should strengthen the position of the Moscow patri- archate in Russia itself, forcing the government to view it as an influential participant in inter- national relations," said a com- mentary posted at Portal- credo.m, an independent Rus- sian Web site devoted to reli- gious affairs. Jewish religious leaders joined clerics representing ma- jor faiths from ac ross the former Soviet Union in the interfaith group, which seeks to maintain peace and religious and ethnic stability in the region. The event at Moscow's St. Daniel's Orthodox Monastery was attended by Russian Or- thodox clergy and leaders of the Armenian Apostolic Church, the Georgian Ortho- dox Church, and Muslim and Buddhist clerics from all of the region's post-Soviet states, ex- cept for Latvia, Lithuania and Estonia. Notably absent from the fo- rum and the new interfaith I ism, many say that students who support Bush do so qui- etly. "They're probably not go- ing to go out and campaign for him, but it's likely they'll end up voting for him," Haberman said. The political identification of American Jewish college students is complex, however. While Israel is a key issue, it's not the only one: Students also list concerns such as gay rights, reproductive rights and job security. "Many Jewish students are sort of grappling with this po- litical identity crisis," said Daniel Frankenstein, a senior at the University of California at Berkeley. While President Bush "pre- sents a far more solid record on Israel," the Democratic Party better represents the social values of many Jewish students, Frankenstein said. At the same time, some say that both presidential candi- dates are sufficiently pro-Is- rael that the topic is not among Jewish students' main con- cerns. "Many Jewish students are not that concerned which can- didate they vote for on Israel, because Bush has proven sup- port on Israel and Kerry has expressed support on Israel," he said. Cornell University senior Lee Hart said the Jewish community's clout, and America's interest in allying with a Mideast democracy, mean that almost any presi- dential candidates would voice support for Israel. "It would be very difficult to convince me that a leading politician that made it this far was anti-Israel," he said. Of more immediate concern to the graduating senior, who hopes to become an interna- tional lawyer, is finding the candidate who can redress America's faltering job market and international reputation. According to Hasdai Westbrook, the editor of New Voices, a national Jewish stu- structure were Catholics and members of various Protestant churches Most of the former Soviet countries denied those groups the preferential status accorded to Orthodox Chris- tians, Muslims, Buddhists and Jews. The Jewish community was represented at the forum by leaders of two major competing groups: the Congress of Jewish Religious Organizations and Communities and the Federa- tion of Jewish Communities. Jewish leaders gave high marks to the forum, saying the region's minorities would ben- efit from the ties that clerics of different faiths forged at the two-day event. 'q'he most important thing at this forum is our communi- cation, the fact that it's taking place," Aron Vagner, a Chabad rabbi from Siberia, told a news agency. "When we get back to our communities, people will be pleased to learn that repre- sentatives of different confes- sions can find areas of common interest, the issues where all of us can come to an agreement." Some of the participants pro- dent magazine, the intense political activity around the intifada has produced a sense of "Israel fatigue" on campus. "There's only a certain amount of crisis outreach you can do before a certain amount of fatigue sets in," Westbrook said. As a result, "Israel as a whole just has not been the sort of litmus test political is- sue that I would have expected it to be." Still, many Jewish students do care strongly about Israel. That was illus- trated by a recent"West Wing and Ben & Jerry's" party at the Columbia University Hillei, during an episode in which the fictional administration scrutinized Israel's anti-ter- rorist efforts. Students appeared nervous that Israel might be portrayed negatively. "Go Israel!" one student cheered when a limousine car- rying the Israeli prime minis- ter was shown arriving at the White House. Some Jewish students who identify as Democrats have tried to strengthen their party's ties to Israel. As a result, some say it's becoming easier to square pro-Israel interestswith domestic ones within Demo- cratic groups on campus. And despite Bush's support for Israel, some are taking the president to task. "Bush hasn't been entirely hard on the Israel line," said Rebecca Rubins, a Harvard junior who went on the cam- paign trail with Sen. Joseph Lieberman (D-Conn.) during his presidential run. There were times, she said, when Bush "has encouraged Israel to hold back." Others say pressuring Israel might not necessarily be a bad thing. Some also question Bush's war on terrorism and the pos- sibility that it could distract attention from socio-eco- nomic issues. Homeland security is a"big show" from the Bush admin- istration, said Cornell's Akavan, citing the government's privatization of posed that clericsserve as peace- keepers in conflict zones in parts of the former Soviet Union. The composition of the ln- terreligious Council's pre- sidium reflected the division between Jewish groups in Rus- siaand Ukraine--two chief rab- bis from each country became members of the group's 22- member governing body. "The Interreligious Council can become a powerful de- fender of the minorities in our countries," said Zinovy Kogan, chairman of the Congress of Jewish Religious Organizations and Communities of Russia, who became treasurer of the interfaith group. "The new organization is undoubtedly a political break- through" for the Russian Or- thodox Church, he said. "But having Judaism under the wing of politically more powerful religious groups-- this could benefit the Jewish community." Kogan and other Jewish participants said they expected the new group would coordinate clerics' responges on cases of xenophobia, anti- Semitism and hate crimes. PAGE 13 issues certain security measures and its failure to capture Osama Bin Laden. Jonathan Kessler, leader- ship development director for the American Israel Public M- fairs Committee, said that many Jewish students haven't yet decided whom to vote for, and their opinions will be "heavily influenced by the media and the buzz on cam- pus" as elections approach. Columbia senior Noah Liben agreed The former president of Lionpac, a pro-Israel group on campus, Liben said he will need "at least a few head-to- head debates" to see the can- didates "flesh out the issues" on Israel, the Middle East and homeland security. Psychic Serenity Psychic & Card Reaaqng See Wbat New Year Holds Call for one FREE Questwn 407-523-7408 ROBERT E. 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