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April 10, 2009     Heritage Florida Jewish News
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April 10, 2009

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PAGE 12A HERITAGE FLORIDA JEWISH NEWS, APRIL 10, 2009 Tel Aviv: From Hebrew city to international destination TEL AVIV (JTA)--When a few dozen families gathered April 11, 1909 on the sand dunes of the beach outside Jaffa to allocate land for a new settlement, they took the first critical step toward establish- ing what is today Israel's com- mercial and cultural capital. These families--Tel Aviv's first--couldn't decide how to assign the plots, so they held a lottery. Akiva Arieh Weiss, chair- man of the lottery committee, collected 60 gray seashells and 60 white seashells, writing the names of the families on the white and land plot numbers on the gray. Pairing the shells, Weiss assigned each family a plot. Thus, Tel Aviv was born. As immigrants poured into the Holy Land in what become known as the Second Aliyah, the ancient Mediterranean port city of Jaffa became increasingly crowded. The newcomers included many Europeans of middle-class origin who sought to recon- struct in the Levant some of the world they had left behind. They turned from old Jaffa and began to build Tel Aviv. What began as a suburb of Jaffa emerged quickly from the sand dunes. By 1921, fol- lowing severe clashes between Arabs and Jews in Jaffa, the British mandate government granted Tel Aviv formal self- governance. The local council named the new suburb Tel Aviv. At the time there were just a few streets surrounded by piles of deep sand and citrus groves, but the Tel Aviv popu- lation grew rapidly as Jews fleeing violent interethnic riots in nearby Jaffa looked for new digs, and immigrants from Poland and Russia ar- rived on the Mediterranean shores. The head of the local council, Meir Dizengoff, re- alized he needed a program for expanding Tel Aviv, so he hired the Scottish urban planner Sir Patrick Geddes, who presented his concept to the municipality in 1925. In his plan, Tel Aviv was to be a garden city, as envisioned by its founders. Geddes called for a clear separation between main streets, residential streets and leafy pedestrian boulevards. An important element, reflecting the social climate of the time, was the creation of shared public spaces in the form of parks and squares, as well as within residential blocks. Geddes placed small gar- dens filled with fruit trees and other trees in the center of each residential cluster to provide both a gathering spot and healthy fruit for Tel Aviv's children. His vision persists today. Tel Aviv's tree-lined boule- vards bustle with activity at all hours, and the city is filled with hidden parks and playgrounds. Jews fleeing persecution in Europe began pouring into Tel Aviv en masse in the early 1930s, transforming a town of 42,000 in 1932 into a flourish- ing city of 130,000 by 1936. Tel Aviv officially became a city in 1934, with Dizengoff its first mayor. It was during the 1930s that Tel Aviv became the Holy Land's true economic, cultural and social center. The city became known for its modern cafes, hotels, concert halls, nightclubs, boutiques and theaters. And in this new city, He- brew was the lingua franca, making a language that had lain dormant for centuries the mother tongue of a new generation of Jews: the first Israelis. At the start of the 1948 War of Independence, TelAviv became the focal point of the war between Jews and Arabs. The fight over Jaffa's future started immediately after the U.N. decision in favor of parti- tioning Palestine in 1947. As in other areas where Jewish and Arab forces clashed in close quarters, the civilian popu- lations in Tel Aviv and Jaffa suffered, and many fled. When the fighting was over, some of Jaffa's original Arab residents found themselves on the other side of the new border, and they became refugees. In 1949, Jaffa was formally merged with the Tel Aviv municipality, and the city of TelAviv-Jaffawas established. The next several decades were a time of growth and challenge for the builders of Tel Aviv. The city struggled with economic and social problems as it grew rapidly. Nearby suburbs cropped up, a university was founded and Tel Aviv became the anchor of an urban metropolis that by the city's centennial was home to a majority of Israeli citizens. There was a time, however, when Tel Aviv's ascent was not assured. Throughout the 1970s, a lack of affordable housing prompted young people to leave the city in great numbers, and Tel Aviv was left with an aging population. But by the 1980s Tel Aviv again had become the locus of young sophisticates, quickly solidifying its stature as Is- rael's coolest city with a flurry of new development and reno- vation. Tel Aviv preserved the old and created the new, stretching northward with the establishment of new neighborhoods and suburbs along the Mediterranean and upward with the construc- tion of new skyscrapers downtown. In 2003, Tel Aviv was desig- nated a UNESCO World Heri- tage Site for the Bauhaus-style architecture that had become a hallmark of the city. Today, Tel Aviv-Jaffa is both Israel's commercial center and a seaside town. The an- cient, cobblestone streets of Old Jaffa run through the artsy neighborhoods of south Tel Aviv. The city has sky- scrapers and hummus joints, embassies and all-night bars. At 100, Israel's first Hebrew city has become an interna- tional destination. This story is a collaboration with the Tel Aviv Centennial Authority. By Ron Kampeas WASHINGTON (JTA)-- President Obama has shown Iran the carrot and now Con- gress wants to wave the stick. In perhaps the most substantial volley emanat- ing from pro-Israel forces who hope to contain Iran's alleged nuclear weapons plans, several of the most senior and powerful Demo- Lawmakers pushing for Iran sanctions and credible" and not "open- ended." Talks should be launched "as soon as possible," the let- ter states, and if they fail to produce results quickly, then Obama should use executive orders to implement various sanctions. Obama had backed some of the sanctions lastyear when he was a U.S. senator and running for president. The American Israel Public crats in the U.S. Congress sent a letter to the president last week urging stepped-up action. Signed by several key Dem- ocratic lawmakers, including Rep. Steny Hoyer (D-Md.), the House of Representatives majority leader, the letter backs the Obama administra- tion's pledge to pursue talks with Iran, but insists that engagement must be "serious i There's a difference in our service i You'll see it in your yard i Maurice Lawn Care Landscaping Irrigation i Maintenance. t 407.462.3027 1 LET MY 41 YEARS OF INSURANCE EXPERIENCE REVIEW YOUR COVERAGES AND DESIGN A PACKAGE THAT PROTECTS YOUR BUSINESS BY MEETING YOUR SPECIAL NEEDS! All Forms of Insurance Products for Business Retailers, Manufacturers, Contractors, Service Industries, Restaurants, Child Care, Physicians, Attorneys Call Today To Schedule An Appointment At Your Convenience Marshall L. Helbraun Representing The Sihle Insurance Group, Inc. An Independant Insurance Agency Phone: 1-800-432-6652 (407) 761-3521 (cell phone) Affairs Committee strongly praised the letter. "This is an important letter and one thatAIPAC applauds," spokesman Josh Blocksaid."It expresses support for current efforts to create the opportu- nity for constructive engage- ment should Iran choose to comply with international demands, but also strongly makes the point that it can- not be an open-ended process that Iran exploits, and should that effort fail, the president must be prepared to impose crippling economic sanctions on Iran to create the lever- age needed to change their behavior." The letter was sent within days of Obama's most dra- matic attempt yet at outreach to Tehran: a March 20 video message marking Nowruz, the secular Iranian new year. In that message, the presi- dent made good on his cam- paign promise to end former President George W. Bush's policy of keeping outreach to Iran to the minimum dic- tated by cooperation on such regional trouble spots as Iraq and Afghanistan. "I would like to speak clearly to Iran's leaders," Obama said. "We have serious differences that have grown over time. My administra- tion is now committed to diplomacy that addresses the full range of issues before us, and to pursuing constructive ties among the United States, Iran and the international community. This process will not be advanced by threats. We seek instead engagement that is honest and grounded in mutual respect." Obama had spoken during his campaign of "bigger car- rots and bigger sticks" when it comes to Iran policy. Israel and its allies in Washington have not begrudged the car- rot, if only because the Bush administration's isolation policy ultimately failed to halt the nuclearweapons program. But the letter from top Democrats, as well as separate initiatives from Republicans, is a signal that Congress wants to see how big the stick is. The Democrats proposed "sanctioning the Central Office of Howard Berman Rep. Howard Berman (D- Calif) is among the leading Democrats in Congress who signed a letter to President Obama pressing the Obama administration to tighten sanctions on Iran. Bank of Iran; sanctioning international banks that continue to do business with Iranian banks; denying access toAmerican ports to shipping companies whose ships call on Iranian ports; sanction- ing insurance companies that insure vessels calling on Iranian ports or that insure aircraft landing at Iranian airports; sanctioning energy companies investing in Iran's oil and gas sector." It is not clear how Obama feels about such sanctions; he has yet to announce a sanc- tions policy. Significantly, Dennis Ross, who is shaping the policy, was the most articulate defender of the "bigger stick" strategy during the campaign, specifying the insurance and energy sector strategies. Last week, Ross added to his team two former col- leagues from the Washington Institute for Near East Policy, a think tank where sympathy for toughened sanctions runs strong. It might be hard for Obama to turn away such sugges- tions. Through proxies such as Ross and Daniel Shapiro, now a chief Middle East officer at the National Security Coun- cil, his campaign vociferously backed everything in Hoyer's letter but the suggestion about the ports. The letter was signed by some of the most powerful committee chairmen in Con- gress: Reps. Howard Berman (D-Calif.) of foreign affairs, Henry Waxman (D-Calif.) of energy, Ike Skelton (D- Mo.) of armed services and Sylvestre Reyes (D-Texas) of intelligence. The other two signatories are Reps. Robert Wexler (D-Fla.), who chairs the Europe subcommittee and was Obama's most avid Jewish backer during the campaign, and Gary Ackerman (D-N.Y.), who chairs the Middle East subcommittee. Republicans have launched similar initiatives. Missouri Rep. Roy Blunt, the former House minority leader, wrote Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton asking her to explain how she is ap- plying existing sanctions that were renewed earlier this month by Obama for another year. Florida Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen, the se- nior Republican on Berman's Foreign Affairs Committee, has introduced legislation to expand sanctions. In the Senate, Louisiana Sen. David Vitter wants the Securities and Exchange Commission to force companies to disclose whether they do business with Iran. Trita Parsi, who directs the National Iranian American Council--the lead organiza- tion in an ad hoc group of scholars and policy advocates who favors outreach--says the "stick" has its place but diplomacy should come first. "I can understand that Congress wants to play this role--Congress is often the entity that doesn't have any- thing but sticks," he said, referring to Congress' reactive role when it comes to foreign policy. "But any effort to ramp this up in the middle of efforts for diplomacy further poisons the atmosphere and reduces the chances for diplomacy." Parsi suggested imagining turned tables, asking "How would we take it if the Irani- ans say we want to increase diplomacy, but let's increase activity by Hamas and Hezbol- lah"--Iranian-backed terror- ist groups--'as leverage?"