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April 24, 2009

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HERITAGE FLORIDA JEWISH NEWS, APRIL 24, 2009 PAGE 5A By Jonathan Mark New York Jewish Week NEW YORK--Did you ob- serve Passover? The Huffing- ton Post (April 9) headlined a piece by Rabbi Michael Lerner, "Pharaohs Can't Celebrate Passover." If you supported Israel's Gaza war, the pharaoh is you. According to several recent political car- toohs, if you support Israel. Hitler is you, too. Rabbi Lerner, leader of the Jewish Renewal movement and editor of Tikkun. writes. Passover has"become a prob- lem for many Jews.... Millions of Jews have been watching Israel's role in Gaza and the West Bank with particular horror this year." The "wildly disproportionate response of the Israeli army.., has shocked and dismayed many Jews whose identification with their Jewishness came pri- marily through their commit- ment to its ethical teachings." He adds, the newly elected Israeli leaders, "whose cam- paign was filled with racist attacks on Arab citizens... have pushed many American Jews to question how they can celebrate Passover with a full heart this year. As several congregants put it to me. 'We Jews have become Pharaoh to the Palestinian people so we wouldbe hypocrites to sit around our Passover table celebrating our own freedom, rejoicing at the way the Egyptians were stricken with plagues and their first born killed, while ignoring what Israel is doing today in the name of the Jewish people.'" In The Washington Post (March 26), columnist Da- vid Ignatius took aim at those so-called pharaohs. He points out that the U. S. has a policy against funding the settlements. "yet private organizations in the United States continue to raise tax- exempt contributions for the very activities that the government opposes." Critics and he mentions Rabbi Lerner's ally, Peace Now--are questioning, "why American taxpayers are sup- porting indirectly, through the exempt contributions. a process that the govern- ment condemns. A search of IRS records identified 28 U. S. charitable groups that made a total of $33.4 million in tax-exempt contributions to settlements and related organizations between 2004 and 2007." One wonders if Ignatius, so "troubled" by those tax deductions, was equally trou- bled by President Obama's intention to give $600 million of our tax dollars to West Bank Palestinians. and $300 million to Gaza. In March, Palestinian TV on the West Bank celebrated the anniversary of a 1978 terrorist attack in which an Israeli bus was hijacked, leav- ing 38 dead Jews, including 13 children. In April, Palestinian Media Watch ( il) posted a video of a Hamas TV pre-seder blood libel. The "skit" depicted Jews in black hats, shuckling in prayer. gesturing in a Jewish parody, discussing Muslim blood. Father: "Shimon, look, my son... You have to.hate the Muslims... You have to drink the Muslims' blood... Where are you going, my son?" Son: :'To wash ]before prayer with water]..." Father: "Muslims do this. not us!... We have to wash our hands with the blood of Muslims." Meanwhile, withPresident Obama making overtures to the Islamic world. The Chris- tian Science Monitor (March 28) suggests "ten terms not to use with Muslims." At a time when "racist" and "apartheid" are commonly used to refer to Zionists, columnist Chris Seiple, presi- dent of a group promoting religious freedom, writes, "I want to share the advice given to me from dear Muslim friends.., regarding words and concepts that are not use- ful in building relationships with them... We need to be very careful about how we use them, and in what context." The problematic words? "Clash of Civilizations... Secular... Assimilation... Ref- ormation .... Jihadi .... Moder- ate... Interfaith... Freedom... Religious Freedom... Toler- ance..." Moderate? "This ubiqui- tous term is meant politically but can be received theologi- cally. If someone called me a 'moderate Christian,' I would be deeply offended." Interfaith? "This term conjures up images of wa- tered-down, lowest common denominator statements that avoid the tough "issues and are consequently irrelevant." Freedom? ."Freedom can imply an unbound licentious- ness." Tolerance? "Tolerance is not enough." At least seven of those concepts are cherished by Jews, but what do I know? I'mso out of step, at my seder the Jews are the good guys. I'm still on the last page of the Haggadah, where the innocentkid, Shlom0 Natty. 13. was slaughtered with an ax by Islamic Jihad in Gush Etzion, April 2. As Rabbi Lerner says, Passover was a problem for some Jews this year. The Nativs got up from shiva for the Seder. Shlomo took care of his family's goats. One kid. One kid. Jonathan Marks is the as- sociate editor of the New York Jewish Week, from which this column is reprinted with permission. Read the Jewish Week online at www. will By Richard Pearlstone NEWYORK {JTA)--In Janu- ary, the Jewish Agency reno- vated some 300 bomb shelters in the south of Israel. With the increased range of rockets from Gaza hitting Ashdod and Beersheva--the first time these cities came under rocket attack since the 1948 War of Independence--it was time for some renovation. Visiting these refurbished +bomb shelters or watching, kids as they practice taking cover in them gives one a sense of deja vu. Today the Jewish Agency is able to provide color TVand air conditioners in the shelters, an improvement over a transistor radio and a fan. But a bomb shelter is still a bomb shelter and a rocket still a rocket. Whichmakes mewonder:As Israel celebrates its 61styear of independence, whatwould my grandfather, Joseph Meyerhoff, think if he saw Israel now? As he sat huddled with David Ben-Gurion in 1950 contemplating how to get urgently needed capital into Is- rael-he subsequently started Israel Bonds--my grandfather wouldn't have imagined driv- ing today north of Tel Aviv to Israel's high-tech hub or inside Intel's micro-processing fac- tory in Kiryat Gat. He wouldn't have imagined Israel boasting of 4.000 high-tech companies and more than 100 venture- capital funds. Norwould he have imagined that alongside this boom, a growing socioeconomic divide and an unprecedented number of children were living in poverty. It also would have been hard to think of the Jewish Agency partneringwith Cisco to offera three-year course giving high school students in underprivi- leged areas a computer techni- cian's certificate, so they can make their way into technical units in the army. Today, instead of kibbutzim and development towns built by the Jewish Agency during our grandparents' heyday in the 1950s and '60s. we are founding young communities built by college students in socioeconomically challenged areas of Israel. When they aren't studying, members of these young communities are mentoring at-risk youth, vol- unteering at the local council and participating in projects to improve the area. These students call themselves the Zionist pioneers of the 21st century. Would our grandparents have imagined that Jews would continue to find a haven in Israel in 2009 from countries as diverse as Germany, Georgia and Yemen? Would they have imagined the bustoads and planeloads of Jewish youth from all over the world com- ing to Israel on Birthright or to study for a year on a Masa program? Finally, if they believed Is- rael were to reach its seventh decade, my grandfather's gen- eration would have assumed there would be quiet, if not peace, and that Israel would not at once be facing home- made Kassam rockets from Gazaandanuclear threat from Iran. I don't think they would have envisiormd us renovating bomb shelters in 2009. But the really interesting question is, what will Israel look like 60 years from now, when our grandchildren are where we are today? That's the unwritten part of the story; that's the part we are writing today. It's easy to lose sight of this amidst our dailylives, personal and communal turbulence, especially during these times of economic challenge. But if we keep on course, especially when it is difficult, come Is- rael's 120th Independence Day our grandchildren will look back with pride on what we did just as we look back on the generation that founded the state. Richard Pearlstone is chair- man of the board of governors of the Jewish Agency for Israel. By Gary Rosenblatt New York Jewish Week NEW YORK I've had a growing sense of foreboding in recent days about the very reafdangers to the State of Is- rael, internally and externally, and what I perceive to be an increasing emotional distance between American Jews and Jerusalem. Just when Israel needs us most to act and speak out vigorously in its defense, I fear that many among us are questioning, if not doubting, some of the bedrock beliefs we've held about the Jewish state, including its actions and purpose. Israel is not faultless here. No state is. But examples abound of our enemies' ability to turn reality inside out, demonizing Israel as militarily immoral, and its political leaders as unwilling to make compromises .for peace and unwilling to sup- port a peace process that ev- eryone knows is unworkable as long as Hamas controls Gaza. Equally disturbing is that such brazenly false charges have caused too many American Jews to feel embarrassment about Israel rather than outrage at the willful twisting of the truth. And with it, I sense a certain distancing within American Jewry regarding Israel's fate. Part of it is due to circum- stances beyond our control, like the economic crisis that has caused the Jewish federa- tion system to focus on domes- tic needs, leaving fewerdollars for Israel. The contraction of funds also could-jeopardize the ability of projects like Birthright Israel to strengthen connections between young diaspora and Israeli Jews just when they are needed most. At a recent "community conversation" sponsored by UJA-Federation of New York and The Jewish Week, table discussions were held on the issues that the more than 200- participants feltwere most im- portant at this time of crisis. Of the 15 topics put forward, none dealt with Israel. I don't think that would have been the case a year or two ago. And then there was the murder of an Israeli teenager at the hand of an Arab ter- rorist last week. What was particularly sad about this lat- est tragic attack in Israel was that there didn't even seem to be much outrage among our own people when an innocent youngster was axed to death by a Palestinian 50 yards from the boy's-home. The horrific killing in the HERITAGE welcomes and encourages let- ters to the editor, but they must be typed or printed and include name and phone number. We will withhold your name if you so request. Please limit letters to 250 words. Due to space limitations, we reserve the right to edit letters. Send letters to P.O. BOX 300742, Fern Park, FL 32730. Or e-mail to World outrage is missing Dear Editor: Where is the outrage? The recent announcement by the Palestinian Authority that its forces recently discov- ered a bomb making facility underneath a mosque in the city of Kalkilya should cause a response of outrage by the world's Muslim population. Not only was the facility discovered in full operation under the mosque, but several people were arrested in the process of making bombs. Hamas made the claim that this raid was politically motivated in order to bolster Abbas' stature with the new Netanyahu government. So? My question is what would the local reaction be if such an illegal enterprise was discovered under one of our local churches or synagogues ormosques?Where is theworld outrage? Certainly this type of operation falls within the scope of "war crimes." "crimes against humanity" or worse. Yet there is no publicity about this event. How would the Pope re- spond if this were a Catholic church? How would the Chief Rabbi of Jerusalem respond if this were a synagogue? Silence would no doubt be broken by outrage. The use of holy ground for terrorist activities is agaiFcst all that the Western civilized world accepts. From time immemorial, religious houses of worship have been a safe haven, a secure location for safekeeping. Yet, these people convert them into places of violence, places of war. places of hate. A prime example is the actions taken several years ago in Bethle- hem's Church of the Nativity by Muslim terrorist. By using this holy church not as a ref- uge, not as a safe haven, but as a place to launch terror, they demonstrated their total lack of acceptable civilized respect for that which is holy. Laurence Morrell Maitland West Bank community of Bat Ayin, in which a 7-year-old was also wounded, quickly became yesterday's headline, now almost forgotten. Is it because Shlomo Nativ, the victim, was a young"settler"? If the reaction was not exactly ho-hum, it certainly seemed to accept that such brutal killings of Jewish civilians, including children, are par for the course, and "pity, but what do you expect?" How sad that we've been dehumanized by our enemies. Rosenblatt on page 19A + +m A+ rams +o TH+ mX 4PI'A 'lOP I WITH THE TABLETS ]