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April 24, 2009

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HERITAGE FLORIDA JEWISH NEWS, APRIL 24, 2009 PAGE 19A Interests From page 1A Mubarak but was disbanded when the Egyptians discreetly let the Iranians know they were aware of what was tak- ing place. The Hezbollah operatives in Egypt bought shops and apartments in key areas as cover for their activities: on the border with Sudan to bring in arms, in major cities to foment discontent, on the banks of the Suez Canal to monitor shipping, and in E1 Arish and Rafah to be close to the Gaza smuggling tun- nels and to launch attacks on Israeli tourists in Sinai. One of the Hezbollah cells apparently was meant to help bring Iranian weapons into Gaza from Sudan. Its operatives were to activate and oversee the Egyptian leg of an ambitious arms supply route from Iran to Sudan by sea or air, overland into Egypt, and then across Sinai and through the tunnels into Gaza. Some of the plans were foiled ear- lier this year when planes, reportedly Israeli, destroyed at least two arms convoys on their way to Egypt through the Sudanese desert. The Egyptians say they thwarted plans by another cell to carry out a mega- terrorist attackagainst Israeli tourists in the Sinai similar to the simultaneous 2004 car bombings of the Hilton Taba and two other nearby resorts in which more than 30 Israelis were killed. The foiled attack apparently was planned as a large-scale retaliation for the assassina- tion in Damascus last year of Hezbollah terrorist opera- tions chief Imad Mughiyeh, for which the Lebanese-based militia blamed Israel. The Hezbollah spy ring revelation underlines the common regional interests shared by Israel and Egypt. The result on the ground could be closer security and intelligence coordination in the ongoing struggle against Iran and its proxies. If this includes a strong Egyptian effort over time to stop arms smuggling through the bor- der tunnels into Gaza, itwould be a major leap forward in Israel's overall game plan vis-a-vis Hamas in Gaza: to establish a long-term regime of peace and quiet based on deterrence. So far, the Egyptians say they have arrested 49 mem- bers of the Hezbollah network and confiscated millions of dollars and ordnance destined for Gaza or earmarked for ter- rorist activities in Egypt. The leader of the ring, a Lebanese citizen and Hezbollah op- erative named Sami Shihab, reportedly was trained for the operation in Iran. Even Nasrallah does not deny the basic Egyptian al- legations. He has admitted that "brother" Shihab was a member of Hezbollah and that the organization had been operating a ring on Egyptian soil. But he denies it intended in any way to undermine the Egyptian regime. On the contrary, he claims the ring had only 10 members and that its sole goal was to help the Palestin- ians in Gaza. "If helping the Palestinians is a crime, I officially admit my crime," he declaredApri110 on Hezbollah's official al-Manar television station. The Egyptians, however, dismiss Nasrallah's claims out of hand. They recall how during the Gazawar Nasrallah called on the Egyptian people to rise up and overthrow the Mubarak government. That call, they say, was the signal for the clandestine Hezbollah ring to spring into action-- except by then many of the operatives already had been arrested. Whatever the case, the very fact that a Hezbollah ring was secretly active on Egyptian soil in itself constitutes a grave violation of Egyptian sovereignty. Members of Egypt's Parliament are now calling for Nasrallah to be tried in absentia and, if found guilty, for Interpol to put out a warrant for his arrest. The government-controlled media have been scathing in their criticism of Nasrallah, calling him "the monkey sheik" and "the cuckoo in the Iranian clock." Nasrallah, although funded and armed by Iran, says he is a Lebanese patriot, not an Iranian agent. For its part, Iran claims the whole affair was cooked up by Egypt and Israel in an attempt to hurt Hezbollah's chances in the Lebanese national election in June. That may be one of the rea- sons the Egyptians have given the affair so much public play. But Egypt also is determined to remind President Obama not to forget, in his predilec- tion for dialogue with Iran, that the Islamic Republic continues to threaten regional stability and pro-American governments. In other words, Obama should not forget his friends and allies as he tries to appease his foes. Next year From page 1A associate counsel who does liaison work with the Jewish community, said her husband had brought macaroons from Chicago but had trouble get- ting them through security because food is not allowed to be brought into the White House. The start of the Seder was delayed--with the president even offering to help solve the problem--before White House aides were able to "rescue the macaroons," Sher said. Word first surfaced on April 7 that Obama would be hosting a White House Seder after the event ap- peared on the president's schedule without details. Apparently the disclosure caused a clamor among some Jewish Obama supporters who were upset that they weren't on the guest list, prompting one White House aide to ask that it be deleted from the schedule. Jewish supporters "here and in neighboring states are now calling wondering why they have not been invited," the aide wrote in an e-mail that was inadvertently at- tached to a copy of the president's schedule that was sent to reporters on April 9. Eric Lesser, the campaign staffer who put together the 2008 event and the special assistant to White House senior adviser David Axel- rod, organized the Seder. In addition to the first family, attendees included Obama senior adviser Valerie Jar- rett; Obama family friend Eric Whitaker; White House videographer Arun Chaud- hary; White House associate counsel Susan Sher, who also does liaison work with the Jewish community; vice presidential aide Herbie Ziskend; Lisa Kohnke, the deputy director of advance and special events at the Office of Public Liaison; White House associate social secretary Samantha Tub- man; the first lady's deputy chief of staff, Melissa Winter; and Reggie Love and Dana Lewis, personal aides to the president and first lady. Sher said the group "went around the room and took turns reading" and provid- ing thoughts and comments during the service. "Everyone was engaged," said Sher. "It was lovely." Rabbi Levi Shemtov, director of the Washington office of American Friends of Lubavitch, said the fact that Obama hosted a Seder was "very interesting and seems to be continuing a trend of an interest by the White House in things Jew- ish. The policy concerns and agenda of Jews have been on their radar for a while, but this marks a desire to familiarize themselves with the traditions of the Jewish people as well." He added, "Anytime people can get a better understand- ing of why we do what we do, it's probably good for the Jews. Ignorance of Jewish practices historically led to unnecessary tension and even blood libels, specifically around the time of Passover." "We've come a long way, chevra," Shemtov said. Rosenblatt From page 5A In the American media, far more attention focused on how right-wing and anti- peace the new Netanyahu government is. Never mind that the prime minister and even the allegedly racist foreign minister, Avigdor Li- eberman, continue to confirm their commitment to seek peace with their Palestinian neighbors. And beyond that, Netan- yahu has a track record of making peace agreements with the Palestinians as prime minister a decade ago. He may have held his nose when he ceded biblical territory around Hebron, but he did it. What sacrifice has any Palestinian leader made for peace? Doesn't anyone hold Pal- estinians accountable for continuing to praise killers of Jewish civilians as martyrs and taking no action against the terrorists? Political leaders should be judged by their actions more than anything else. That applies to Netanyahu, who has been in office as prime minister only a couple of weeks. Fortunately, the Obama administration seems to agree, and though there no doubtwill be tensions between Washington and Jerusalem, there is every indication that the relationship is solid. But it seems clear that ef- forts to undermine the very legitimacy of Israel, which began in intellectual quar- ters in Europe several years ago, have made their way to these shores. The Walt- Mearsheimer attack on "the Jewish lobby" as harmful to American interests has given way to calls for war crime trials against Israel for its military actions in Gaza last winter. Critics portray the Israeli army as the new Nazis, a cold- hearted killing machine when in fact it endangers its own soldiers in its efforts to avoid killing innocent Pal- estinians. What do we know of the countless civilians killed by American troops in Iraq and Afghanistan? Ignorance is, if not bliss, at least a sedative to the senses. Media blackouts have a way of sanitizing brutal warfare; just because we have no visual images of the Falklands War between Argentina and the United Kingdom in 1982, for example, does that mean that 900 people were not killed in battle? Mideast conflicts, though, are broadcast around the clock in the Arab media. Certainly Israel has been responsible for the deaths of innocents when at war against terrorists. But the IDF tries to avoid such kill- ings, while for Hamas and He- zbollah the goal precisely is to murder Jewish women and children, and to hide among its own civilian population. Intentionality should count for something. And it's the matter of fairness and context that is so frustrating for those defending Israel. Political and military lead- ers in Jerusalem make the mistake of speaking of their "right" to take action when the real question should be whether those actions ul- timately are in Israel's best interest. But that's a matter of strategy. At issue here is the growing notion that of all the nations in the world, only one should have its legitimacy questioned, criticized and, as some would have it, removed. Such criticism of Israel, and only Israel, is the very definition of 21st century anti-Semitism, and we must raise our voices now, before it is too late. American Jews on the fence about Israel should be reading a new book by Daniel Gordis, an author and senior vice president of the Shalem Center in Jerusalem. Entitled "Saving Israel: How the Jewish People Can Win a War That May Never End," it argues that the survival of the State of Israel is more important than peace and that the destiny of all Jews is linked with the Zionist homeland. Among his politically incor- rect points are that waging war is an element of Jewish history and law, that self- defense is part of statehood and that power is as impor- tant as ethics--it's all about maintaining balance. "When the commitment to decency is so overwhelming that Jews grow fearful of de- fending themselves," Gordis writes, "Jews have actually abandoned the tenets of their tradition and have created a weak, almost pathetic, ver- sion of what Jewish life ought to be." In Jewish life, survival is a prime value, and that applies to the collective as well as the individual. It's a mitzvah to give of one's self for others, but not to lose one's head. So don't believe those who would say thatwillfully killing a youngster simply because he is a Jew is not an act of terror but an expression of political outrage. Say a prayer this Shabbat for the family of Sh- lomo Nativ, the latest victim of the kind of hatred that, we need to remind ourselves, is inhuman. Gary Rosenblatt is editor and publisher of the New York Jewish Week, from which this column is reprinted with permission. He blogs at h ttp://, and can be reached at Gary@ Sharkansky From page 4A estinians. Even without the Hamas-Gaza problem, they have not shown a capacity to use the aid they have received to provide decent services to their people. Taking account of the Gaza-Hamas problem, they are a long way from a state that Israel or many other gov- ernments would recognize. If Obama and others talk as tough with the Palestin- ians as with Israel, it might be possible to keep this going. With respect to the goal of a Palestinian state, it is likely that the talks will go nowhere. But that is better than nothing. Ira Sharkansky is profes- sor emeritus in the political science department at the He- brew University of Jerusalem. EWISH NEWS An Annual Issue Published By HERITAGE Florida Jewish News and Featuring a Variety of Thought-Provoking Articles on Health and Fitness Related Subjects Publication Date: June 26, 2009 Reaching a Responsive, Health-Conscious Market Deadline for this Important Issue is Wednesday, June 17, 2009 CALL TODAY TO RESERVE YOUR SPACE ij