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April 18, 2014

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HERITAGE FLORIDA JEWISH NEWS, APRIL 18, 2014 PAGE 11A .1 woman wins .I By Linda Gradstein The Media Line Nof Atamna-Ismaeel, an Arab woman with a doctorate in marine microbiology, has won Israel's highest honor for an amateur chef-- the title of master chef on the Israeli reality TV show of the same name. She still finds it hard to believe it's really true. Now Atamna-Ismaeel will be able to fulfill her dream to open an Arab-Jewish cooking school in her area of northern Israel. Some 20 percent of Israel's population is Arabs who have full citizenship and rights. Twelve Arab citizens of Israel are members of the 120-seat parliament. "Near my village there are a lot of Arab towns and Jew- ish towns--it's a mixed area, but it's very sad," she said. "Although we live very close to each other, there are very limited connections and few friendships between Jews and Arabs here." Atamna-Ismaeel beat out thousands of Israelis who came to audition for one of 14 spots on Master Chef, which just finished its fourth season. The finale, broadcast last weekend, was the most watched reality show in Is- rael's history. She formed a close friend- ship with an unlikely can- didate-- an ultra-Orthodox British rabbi named Josh Steele, who was eliminated halfway throughJ the com- petition. "Nof is a beautiful, lovely person," Steele told The Media Line. "She doesn't care about the fame. She wanted the op- portunity to fulfill a dream and make a difference in the world." Steele's life, too, has been changed by "Master Chef." He spoke openly on the show about how his young cousin entered him for an audition hoping he would stay in Israel and become a new immigrant. He spoke about his search for an Orthodox Jewish bride, and has recently become engaged. He said he has not tasted Atamna-Ismaeel's food yet, because of the restrictions of keeping kosher, but she has promised to come to hishouse to cook for him. "She is the first Israeli Palestinian I've had a close relationship with," Steele said. "She calls me every Friday to wish me a good Sabbath. We can talk for hours." Atamna-Ismaeel says that her friendship with Steele shows the power of food to bring people together. "We come from different worlds. He is a rabbi and I'm a scientist," she said. "Most of the time I'm in the lab or at home in an Arab town. Without 'Master Chef' we wouldn't have met. We have the same passion for modern food and we had so much to talk about." Atamna-Ismaeel's path to fame began in her grand- mother's kitchen when she was just a young girl of 4 or 5. "I used to sit on the counter and watch my grandmother cooking and beg her to let me help her," she said. "She knows how to bring us all together. Even now, she calls me and tells me that she made something, and we all drop what we're doing to go see her and eat her food." In one episode, the partici- pants' families were invited to visit and watch them cook. Atamna-Ismaeel cried as her grandmother, dressed in traditional Arab dress walked onto the studio set. "I am so happy that I was able to make her proud of me," she said. "She gave me my understanding of all the basics in Arab cuisine." Atamna-Ismaeel special- izes in modern Arab cui- sine- taking traditional Arab cuisine and giving it a modern twist. She called her winning dish "Sultan's Stream"--a visually arresting striped red mullet with almond cream. She uses a lot of traditional Arab foods like fava beans (ful in Arabic), tahini, and eggplant to create dishes that are visually enticing as well as delicious. Besides winning "Master Chef," she won the audience choice award for "favorite chef." While talking to The Media Line, she was simultaneously cooking din- ner for three lucky families who won a drawing. "I'm making them lamb osso bucco with sweet pota- toes and root vegetables," she said. "I'm making ful with tahini sauce and meatballs, and a risotto from 'freekeh,' a type of wheat. Oh, and the date cookies I made on the show." The hardest challenge for her on "Master Chef"was when the competitors were asked to make a dish using only canned food. "Arab cuisine is very sea- sonal and we never use cans," she said. "I know a lot of people eat canned food, but anyone who is a serious cook doesn't like to use cans. On the show I decided to use only vegetables and not touch the canned meat. I wouldn't want to eat it and neitherwould the judges." The judges, four of Israel's most famous chefs, offered comments and criticism on each dish. "I've learned so much from them," she said. "I feel like I became a better chef from episode to episode." Ataman-Ismaeel also en- joys cooking for her family. Her husband, a male nurse, came to the final episode with her 6-year-old son. Her twins, a boy and a girl aged 2, stayed home. "When I won, my son hugged me harder than he ever has in his life," she said. "I was so happy that I could make him so proud." She hopes her cooking school will start to break down barriers that still exist between Arabs and Jews. "I'm just Nof and I can't solve the Arab-Israeli con- flict," she said. "But all change starts with small acts. If I can bring a few hundred Arabs and Jews to my school, and break down some stereotypes, I will be glad. Through food, you can bring people together in a good atmosphere and they can begin to understand each other." By Maayan Jaffe Prime Minister Benja- min Netanyahu said ear- lier this month that the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) movement against Israel will fail be- cause various countries "are flocking to Israel" wanting Israeli technology. According to leading pro-Israel profes- Sors and academic leaders, on a practical level Netanyahu is correct. But that doesn't mean BDS isn't causing any apprehension. Ilan Troen, director of the Schusterman Center for Israel Studies at Brandeis University, tells that professors are now asking themselves, "Will the fact that I am Jew- ish--that I visited Israel-- impinge upon the way I am perceived?" On the one hand, "We don't see anything on the ground that one can say, 'This is a re- sult of the boycott,'" explains Prof. Rivka Carmi, president of y In Only in Jerusalem, (cha- metz-free) bagels for Passover Those desperate for their NY-style morning staples of black coffee and bagel can rejoice: Passover is no longer a breakfast death sentence. The Inbal Jerusalem Hotel launched the world's first kosher "for Passover bagel. This groundb eaking idea was conceived and developed by Executive Chef Andreas Marinkovits, who has per- fected the original recipe to create a New York-style bagel, complete with hard crust and fluffy inside that is 100 percent kosher for Passover and is exclusively available at the Inbal Jerusalem Hotel. The Inbal Jerusalem hotel is an award-winning, five-star deluxe hotel situated in the heart of Jerusalem overlook- ing the Old City walls, and Ben-Gurion University of the Negev (BGU). Yet Carmi says that while there is no "open boycott," there is "something underlying, something si- lent... It is creeping on you, it is insidious." Moreover, there is increas- ing infiltration of BDS sup- porters in American aca- demia, and local thought leaders say this couldhave a long-term and heinous im- pact. Last week, for example,. the student government of Chicago's Loyola University passed an Israel divestment resolution, while similar stu- dent government resolutions at Arizona State University and the University of Michigan were tabled indefinitely. In April 2013, the Associa- tion for Asian American Stud- ies voted to boycott Israeli and academic institutions. The American StudiesAssociation and the Native American and Indigenous Studies Associa- tion both followed suit last De- cember. Soon, the American Anthropological Association will have the same debate on boycotting Israel. In January, the Modern Language Asso- ciation delegate committee passed a resolution condemn- ing Israel for alleged denials of entry for U.S. academics into the West Bank, though the group did not endorse a boycott of Israel. The actual effect of such efforts is minimal, said Brandeis's Troen. Yes, there may be a doctoral studentwho is not admitted to a post-doc- torate position when he was sure he would get in. There might be a keynote address that a fitting Israeli academic will not be invited to deliver. It may be more difficult to get a journal article published. But as long as "the loss of scientific contribution from Israel would be too harmful for the ultimate driving force of science and medicine," collaboration with Israeli scholars will continue, said Abraham Zagen, an associate professor at BGU. Yet Dr. Samuel Edelman, Inbal Hotel The world's first kosher for Passover bagel. minutes away from all the major cultural and historical sites. With its Jerusalem stone exterior, the 283-room hotel is known for its intimate au- thentic Jerusalem character and impeccable world-class service. Trip Advisor awarded the hotelwith their Certificate of Excellence for the last two years in a row, ranking The Inbal Jerusalem Hotel among the top ten percent of leading hotels worldwide. For more information, please visitwww. director of the Academic Net- work of the Israel on Campus Coalition (ICC), said that in his role, he has heard many junior faculty members voice apprehension about being vo- cal in support of Israelon their campuses, out of fear that it could have an impact on their tenure or promotion. "This is all anecdotal," Edel- man tells "There are no statistics onwhetber or not Middle East when he worked at American University. "I do not like to be spat at in the face and [be forced to] pretend itwas a blessed rain," says Olmert, who is originally from Israel. In response to growing tension, the ICC has created a national network of senior faculty, staff, and administra- tors who are supportive of Israel on college campuses there has been any cmscious to serve as mentors for junior attempt to punish faaalty for being pro-Israel. Butthis is a fear many faculty haw voiced to me and that numb:r keeps increasing." Troen has seen a similar escalation in apprehmsion. "It makes people nervous," he says of BDS and its possible ramifications. In the case of University of California, Santa Cruz Professor Tammi Rcssman- Benjamin, "nervoue.' is an understatement, ste says. Benjamin describes hat ever since she came out ~gainst the "implicit and explcit [an- ti-lsraell bullying ttat goes on," she became "a pariah in my university ard other campuses in Califonia." Students for JuSice in Palestine put up flyer, across the campus with Be[jamin's picture, terming her aa Islam- ophobe. She was threatened with lawsuits and defamed in the student press for fighting anti-Semitism, objecting to the use of the classroom to promote BDS, and combat- ting a campus climate that she feels is wrought with bullying tactics and harassment of Jewish students and faculty members. "On some campuses, it is impossible. Unless you don't care about your job, you'll shut up or even go along [with the anti-Israel movement]," Berijamin tells Josef Olmert, who teaches at the University oi South Carolina, says he had a Jewish colleague inform him he shied away from teaching about Israel for fear that he would be accused of bias. Olmert, himself an international studies professor, was told he could not teach about the faculty and-students, and to help advocate for them. Edelman says junior faculty can rely on these mentors to guide and support them in the tenure process. Students, meanwhile, are increasingly grappling with BDS. Benjamin, who has been tracking the impact of BDS on students for nearly a decade, says she has seen in recent years an increasing number of professors using the mantle of academic freedom to justify advocating BDS both on cam- pus and directly to students in their classrooms. "I have students who have told me they think they were graded down because they expressed a sentiment about Israel different from the professors," Benjamin says. "This is very difficult for the students. You don't want to get a bad grade or ruin a relationship with a professor that you might need to write you a recommendation." Anti-Israel bias is also not limited to traditional humani- ties courses, as some might think. Troen says he has seen examples of top chemistry professors or experts in Rus- sian literature sounding off about how terrible Israel is. This has an impact on young people, he says. Student organizations are almost powerless against anti-Semitism and anti-Israel messaging in the classroom, according to Benjamin, be- cause student groups don't share the same legitimacy as the staff. "These faculty members are brazenly using their aca- demic credentials to advance their purely activist agenda... Once that's happened, it's legitimated," she says. In the short term, "there is a growing sense of feeling uncomfortable" for the pro-Is- rael community on campuses, Olmert says. "Already college students are not as favorable toward Israel as the general population of the U.S.," says Edelman. In the long term? "Down the road, [current college students] are going to be our future leaders. Faculty has a huge impact on that," Edelman says, adding that more Jewish community funding should be put into faculty education, including visits to Israel: "This needs to be ad- dressed," he says. "And if it is not addressed quickly, then we will have more and worse challenges down the line. We only have a short window to do this." Maayan Jaffe is a freelance writer in Overland Park, Kan. She can be reached at maay- anjaffe@icloud.corn. HANDYMAN SERVICE Handy man and General Maintenance Air Conditioning Electrical Plumbing Carpentry Formerly handled maintenance at JCC References available STEVE'S SERVICES Call Steve Doyle at (386) 668-8960