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April 17, 2015

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HERITAGE FLORIDA JEWISH NEWS, APRIL 17, 2015 PAGE 5A By Moshe Phillips and Benyamin Korn (The authors are president and chairman, respectively, of the Religious Zionists of Phila- delphia, and candidates on the Religious Zionist slate (www. in the World Zionist Congress elections.) A sea change began within hours of the Israeli election returns. Thomas L. Friedman, who has devoted much of his life to promoting Palestinian statehood, declared in his New York Times column that the idea of a Palestinian state is "not possible anymore." That was followed by his Times colleague David K. Shipler, another longtime advocate of a Palestinian state, announc- ing that the "the two-state solution looks dead." Just a couple of elite, pro- Palestinian journalists vent- ing their frustration? Don't bet on it. The Ameri- can public is losing faith in "Palestine" too. Friedman and Shipler's declarations merely echo the latest poll numbers on the American public's view of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. A new Washington Post- ABC News poll has found that Americans' support for the idea of creating a Palestinian state has reached its lowest point in 20 years. Just 39 per- cent of Americans support it; 36 percent are opposed. That 39 percent is down from the 58 percent who backed Palestinian state- hood in 2003. And the three- percentage point gap between supporters and opponents is the smallest such gap in at least 20 years. One can understand why Friedman and Shipler would be disillusioned by such trends inAmerican and Israeli public opinion. For eight years, Shi- pier and Friedman used the news columns Of the world's most important newspaper to turn American public opinion against Israel and promote the need to establish a Palestin- ian state. They might have imagined they were making inroads. Shipler was the New York Times' bureau chief in Jeru- salem from 1979 to 1984. His news articles were slanted to stoke hatred of Israel and sympathy for the Palestinians. Then he shed all pretense of objectivity and wrote a book, "Arab and Jew: Wounded Spirits in a Promised Land," which made it clear that his previous reporting had been agenda-driven. Nonetheless, the bookwon a Pulitzer Prize. Friedman picked up where Shipler left off. In 1988, Friedman succeeded Shipler as the new bureau chief in Jerusalem. His reporting was just as biased against Israel as Shipler's had been. Andwhen Friedman finished his four years there, he wrote ,'From Beirut to Jerusalem," a book filled with vitriol against Israel. Nonetheless, the book won a Natfonal Book Award. In the years to follow, it must have seemed to Shipler and Friedman that their goal waswithin reach. Israel signed the Oslo accords and pulled out of all the Palestinian-pop- ulated areas in the territories. Two Israeli prime ministers, Ehud Olmertand Ehud Barak, reportedly offered to create a Pale'stinian state. Even Ben- jamin Netanyahu eventually said he could accept a de- militarized Palestinian state under certain conditions. So why did the push for a Palestinian state fail? It failed because of real- ity-and the Israeli election results reflect that. "It is hard to see how aviable two-state solution is possible anymore, no matterwhowould have won," Friedman wrote after the election results ar- rived last month. The public's strong support for Netanyahu was a response to the reality of Palestinian violence and extremism, Friedman con- ceded. "The insane, worthless Gaza war that Hamas initiated last summer that brought rockets to the edge of Israel's main international airport .and the Palestinians' spurning of two-state offers of previous Israeli prime ministers built Netanyahu's base as much as he did." In other words, Israeli voters, instead of paying at- tention to Friedman's years of writings, paid attention to the reality around them--and voted accordingly. Shipler, writing in his on- line newsletter, The Shipler Report, has reached essen- tially the same conclusion. "A bet on statehood for the Palestinians is about as good as money in a Ukrainian bond," Shipler wrote on the eve of the Israeli vote. "Condi- tions can always change, of course, but for the foreseeable future, a two-state solution looks dead." Moshe Phillips is president and Benyamin Korn is chair- man of the Religious Zionists of Philadelphia, and both are current candidates on the Religious Zionist slate (www. in the World Zionist Congress elections. ten rea 9 By Melissa Cohen (Kveller via JTA)--I want to raise my children with a strong sense of spiritual- ity and connection to their Jewish heritage/But I'm struggling with the reality that my children do not like going to religious school, and have only a passing interest in attending services with me. They love going to the synagogue, just not so much actually participating, There is a lot of arguing about going to Hebrew school and why it's a good idea to occasionally step into services, as opposed to just wrestling with your friends in the lobby or hiding By David Benkof Last month, the Iranian mission at the United Na- tions wrote the International Atomic Energy Agency an "explanatory note" protesting resolutions by the organiza- tion had questioned Iran's nuclear aims. The document asserts that "nuclear material in Iran has neverbeen diverted from peaceful purposes." In fact, it uses the word "peace- ful" 11 times. It's time to call Iran's bluff that their nuclear program exists only to provide for its people's electrical needs. We should calculate Iran's annual savings from its nuclear power plants, and offer to just give them that sum--in exchange From page 4A what he really wants is not a nuclear arms deal at all, but a continuation of the stran- gling economic sanctions that are fomenting dissent and crippling every sector of business in Iran. Think about it. What could be better fo~' Israel than to have the current Iranian government collapse, to remove the Ayatollahs from power and replace them with a younger, more moderate government? Iran has one of the youngest populations out with a good book in a quiet corner of the synagogue. But after going to school all day, they resist going for another two hours of instruction twice a week at our religious school. It makes me wonder: How important is formal Jewish education? I find myself questioning whether I'm doing the right thing, to encourage their religious identityand connec- tion, especially if the way I'm doing it involves browbeating, bribing or cajoling them into attending religious school. I want them to go to religious school because I think that's what Jewish kids are sup- posed to do. I want them to go because I want them to read Torah, to understand the meaning behind the prayers we chant in synagogue each week. I want them to be en- couraged to learn and read and study, and question and discover. I just don't know if forcing religious school is the only way to accomplish those goals. The thing is, I think all children have a natural inter- est in religion and spirituality, and mine are no exception. My oldest daughter is 12, and her favorite part of the bat mitzvah study is writing her d'var Torah (commentary on the Torah portion) and the discussionswith the rabbi. My 8-year-old son is as intensely spiritual, but in a slightly dif- ferent way. While my daughter is thoughtful and questioning about everything, my son is emotionally connected to the idea of God and nature~ He sees God everywhere, even go- ing as far as announcing that his fourth birthday party was going to be just him and God out in the backyard together. My youngest, age 4, is right in the middle of this stage. She's full of questions, won- dering what makes us Jewish, who's Jewish and who isn't. What does being Jewish mean," and why are certain traditions Jewish and some aren't? The other day she confided that for handing over every scrap of nuclear material and infra- structure. Given the deep Saudi ap- prehension about a nuclear .Iran, that oil-rich nation could certainly afford to hand over the necessary cash--or, alternatively, just provide the fuel directly. But, of course, Iranwill not accept such an offer--which is precisely the point. Calling the bluff of the Islamic Republic of Iran will clarify to doubt- ers and peaceniks everywhere that the ayatollahs and their henchmen are hell-bent on attaining aweapon that would threaten Israel for starters, and eventually the rest of the region and even the United States. It wouldn't be the first time nations have used cash to pacify others--although perhaps not quite as brazenly as I'm proposing. A decade ago, for example, Pakistan was handing out cash to leaders of Afghani tribes to turn them away from supporting al-Qaeda. And the 1978 Camp David Accords that brought peace between Egypt and Israel may not have lasted--or happened at all--without the billions of dollars in annual foreign aid the United States has been paying to both sides ever since. Ifa few billion dollars would obviate the biggest current threat to global stability--the Iranian nuclear problem--it would be well worth it. Realistically, though, the plan doesn't aim toward an actual cash-for-nukes exchange. Instead, it just might expose Iran for what it is: a dangerous, aggressive regime hiding behind a fake goal of electrical power to gain what it really wants--a weapon that can bring the region, and the world, to its knees. David Benkof is senior political analyst at the Daily Caller, where a version of this essay first appeared. He edits the Jerusalem Post Crossword Puzzle, which appears in this publication. Follow him on Facebook or Twitter (@DavidBenkof); or E-mail him at DavidBenkof@ in the Middle East, and the balancing act between the young population and the ruling Muslim extremists is tremulous at best. If sanc- tions continue, Israel might get more than an arms deal. It could get that plus a new neighbor. If only Netanyahu could own up to his real ob- jectives, rather than sowing seeds of ambivalence and disdain between Israel and the White House (as well as many people and politicians in the U. S.), we might actually see Iran's nuclear program scrutinized~ scaled back, and stifled, at least for the next decade or more. POINT OF CLARIFICA- TION: In lastweek's column on gay weddings, I asked several questions, including why one woman wore pants, and why the couple's future children would take her last name. Both these choices could serve to promote traditionally dominant "male" roles in our society. Turns out, that wasn't the case at all. One woman wore pants because she had only worn pants for years. She hates dresses.Andwhy one last name vs. the other? Because that woman'sfamily had no one else who could carry on the family name. It would have diedwith this generation. So bravo to making human choices, personal choices that transcend sexual politics. The ultimate sign of change is when we make decisions as PeOple, not men or women. And that's the good word. Send your thoughts, com- ments, and critiques to the Heritage or entail dsb328@ she thought God was like our owner, and that we were all his little robots. This led to an in-depth discussion of free will and choices and the importance of mitzvot. While I was explaining all of that to her, there was a part of me that was also thinking, she's 4! We talk about how my mother, Grammy, isn't Jewish, and what that means, and I found myself struggling to explain to a 4-year-old the nature of paganism, and the representation of the Divine as both God and Goddess, and how that differs as it relates to what we believe. Of course I'd rather have them love going to syna- gogue, and have positive associations about being there, than have them resent the time they spend in the classroom. I'd rather have them find connection and fulfillment in their relation- ship with God and the com- munity that we've chosen to raise them in, and that might mean that we step back from religious instruction for a bit. Maybe a tutor would work better than attending our local community religious school. Maybe if we ease up on the pressure to attend, they'll find themselves want- ing to go. Religious studies shouldn't be reduced to a power struggle, right? My kids are Jewish, and their childhood memories are going to be filledw!th crowded Shabbat dinner tables, and afternoons tearing around the synagogue with their friends and community. I know I can't control if my children will grow up to be practicing Jews, What I can do is make Judaism a central part of their childhood, and set the example of being an engaged and involved Jewish member of our community. Kveller is a thriving com- munity of women and parents who convene online to share, celebrate, and commiserate their experiences of raising kids through a Jewish lens. Visit THeY HAP DAIaED TO DI$AC EE WITH HIM