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April 26, 2013

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PAGE 2A Linda Gradstein The Media Line Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu opened his most recent copy of Time maga- zine, with its list of the 100 most influential people in the world, to find that his name, which had been on the list for the past few years, was gone. Instead, the name of his new finance minister, Yair Lapid, appeared. Lapid, a political newbie who led his Yesh Atid [There is a Future] party to an impres- sive showing in the recent elections--19 out of 120 pos- sible seats in the unicameral body--is keen to show that he has what it takes to be Israel's next prime minister: a goal he has stated publicly. "It is difficult for a sitting prime minister to deal with HERITAGE FLORIDA JEWISH NEWS, APRIL 26, 2013 Israel's novice lawmakers feel their way someone who has already said he would like to be prime min- ister," Eytan Gilboa, a political scientist at Bar Ilan University told The Media Line. "At the same time their ideologies are not that different." Some Israelis say that Netanyahu gave Lapid the thankless Finance Ministry job hoping he would fail, or at least lose some of the wave of popularity that swept him and 18 other brand-new and inexperienced politicians into the parliament [Knes- set]. It is not only Yesh Atid that is presenting new faces at the parliament's opening. "This Knesset is extremely young and new," Reuven Cha- zan, a professor of political science at Hebrew Univer- sity told The Media Line. "In the United States, some 95 percent of the Congress is reelected every year; in Israel it's usually about one-third and this time it's almost half." The other new political force is Naftali Bennett, founder of a party called The Jewish Home, which won 12 seats in the Knesset. Bennett is a former chief-of-staff for Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu, and a supporter of building more Jewish communities on land Israel acquired in the1967 war-- one of the nation's most controversial issues. What also distinguishes the new government is that the ultra-Orthodox parties, which had been part of every governing coalition for the past two decades, are now in the opposition. They are hop- ing that the new alignment will fail, and Netanyahu will be forced to look to them to return and prevent the gov- ernment from falling apart. Israeli analysts, however, say that is not likely, at least in the short run. Lapid and Bennett need the experience of a political apprenticeship and want this government to last as long as possible. Both were also elected to focus on domestic issues such as end- ing draft exemptions for the ultra-Orthodox community and cutting the budget deficit of $11 billion. "This is the first govern- ment in quite some time that instead of focusing on foreign and security policy--which is how the world sees Israel-- will focus on taxation, and drafting the ultra-Orthodox," Chazan said. "This is a breath of fresh air and what the voters wanted--to focus on internal issues. But it also means this government probably won't do much on foreign and security policy." If, however, Netanyahu decides to move forward on a peace deal with the Pal- estinians, either because of heavy American pressure or because he wants interna- tional support for an Israeli attack on Iranian nuclear facilities, then the coalition could disintegrate. "Bennett doesn't oppose negotiations, but he does op- pose concessions," Gilboa said. Lapid, according to Gil- boa, is making a good first impression so far. To be the director general of the finance ministry, he chose Yael Andorn, who has spent the past 12-years in the bud- get division. She will be the first woman to hold the post. Lapid, who is secular, also chose as his number-two on the party list, an Orthodox rabbi, who was appointed education minister. Israel's Knesset is never a placid place, and this session is expected to be even more stormy than usual. The ultra- Orthodox parties, which will use the platform of the oppo- sition to vent their frustration at being left out of the coali- tion, have already prepared seven no-confidence motions against the government. At least for now, though, the Netanyahu coalition looks stable with 68 members versus 52 in the opposition. Yet, it remains to be seen whether the new government will serve a full four-year term or break apart early as so many Israeli governments have done. Leader's dear 7 provides new focus on Egypt's. 'ew00 Sherif Elhelwa The Media Line CAIRO - Against the backdrop of accusations of religious intolerance being leveled at the Morsi government, the scene in Cairo last week as Muslims participated at the funeral of former Jewish community leader Carmen Weinstein was both incongruous and encouraging. To some, it was an example of growing Egyptian Muslim interest in the dwindling Jewish population, especially since the Egyptian Revolution in 2011. "This is the first time I have seen this number of visitors and journalists come to the synagogue," marveled Magda Haroun, Weinstein's successor at the Cairo Jewish Community Center. "I am glad they're all here, and I would love to see them more often," she said. Indeed, with some 100 Muslims in attendance at the funeral along with about "two handfuls" of Jews, the impression of harmony, brotherhood, love and sup- port for each other was also reflected in the eulogies for Weinstein. Even Egyptian President Mohammed Morsi issued a statement mourning the loss of Weinstein, saying, "She was a dedicated Egyp- tian who worked tirelessly to preserve the Egyptian Jewish heritage and valued, above all, living and dying in her country, Egypt." The Hebrew Kadish prayer for the dead was recited by Moroccan Rabbi Mark Elf- assy, who came from Paris to officiate and help provide the needed quorum of ten Jewish men. "We needed 10 Jewish males to attend the service, and I guess God has granted us what we needed. I don't care if the males pres- ent were Muslims or Jews, as long as they loved Carmen. You can't really tell who is a Jew and who isn't," Elfassy told The Media Line. At last, Warsaw's Museum of the Histq}ry of Polish Jews is dedicated Such a gathering would have been unheard of under the rule of president Gamal Abdel Nasser, who ruled in the 1950s and 1960s, and other Egyptian gov- ernments. But the recent release of an independent film called Jews of Egypt by director Amir Ramses de- picting the modern history Focus on page 14A Ruth Ellen Gruber Interior of the Museum of the History of Polish Jews in Warsaw showing swooping walls. By Ruth Ellen Gruber WARSAW, Poland (JTA)-- Krzysztof Sliwinski, a long- time Catholic activist in Jewish-Polish relations, gazed wide-eyed at the swooping interior of this city's Museum of the History of Polish Jews. Nearly two decades in the making, the more than $100 million institution officially opened to the public last week amid a month of high-profile, state-sponsored events mark- ing the 70th anniversary of the Warsaw Ghetto Uprising. "It's incredible, incredible, incredible how things have changed," Sliwinski told JTA. "I remember commemora- tions of the ghetto uprising under communism when only a few people showed up. How good it was that we were optimistic." Sliwinski organized Jewish cemetery cleanups and other pro-Jewish initiatives under communism, when Jewish practice and culture were sup- pressed by the regime. In 1995, then-ForeignMin- ister Wladyslaw Bartoszewski, an Auschwitz survivor, ap- pointed him post-communist Poland's first official ambas- sador to the Jewish Diaspora, part of the state's unprec- edented outreach policy. OnApri114, both Sliwinski, now 73, and Bartoszewski, 91, joined hundreds of lo- cal Jews and other VIPs as Poland's chief rabbi, Michael Schudrich, unveiled a mezu- zah at the museum's main entrance. "This museum is in the heart of what was Jewish Warsaw," Schudrich told JTA. "It is in the heart of what was the Warsaw Ghetto. Now itwill be in the heart of what will be the future of Polish Jewry. It is a bridge from the past to Ruth Ellen Gruber Exterior of the Museum of the History of Polish Jews in Warsaw showing the "gap." the future." Reflecting this symbolism, the mezuzah was made from a brick from a building in War- saw's prewar Jewish quarter, the area that the Nazis turned into the notorious ghetto and where the museum now stands. Ahuge flattened cube with a shimmering facade--broken by a dramatic gap that symbol- izes both the biblical parting of the Red Sea and the rupture caused by the Holocaust-- faces the monument to the heroes of the ghetto uprising. "I am one of the few here who witnessed the unveiling of the ghetto monument in 1948," Bartoszewski told guests following the mezuzah ceremony. "If anyone had told me then that this could be happening now, I would have said they were crazy." Designed by the Finnish architect Rainer !:h!amaki. the striking building with undulating interior walls is in fact still largely empty. The museum will inaugurate its cultural and educational programs on Friday, but its core exhibition--an interac- tive narration of 1,000 years of Polish Jewish life--will not be installed until next year. "The museum is a part of the history that it tells," Bar- bara Kirshenblatt Gimblett, the New York University pro- fessor who is overseeing the design of the core exhibition, told JTA. "It speaks to the re- newal of Jewish life in Poland, to the enormous Jewish pres- ence in Polish consciousness." On the eve of World War II, Poland had the largest Jewish population in Europe, with 3.3 million Jews making up one-tenth of the country's population. More than 3 rail- seum o ta,e ' A Ruth Ellen Gruber Poland's chief rabbi, Michael Schudrich, unveiling the mezuzah on the entrance to the Museum of the History of Polish Jews in April2013. In the background, the monument to the Ghetto Heroes, erected in 1948. Ruth Ellen Gruber Visitors stand under the painted reconstruction of the ceiling of the Gwozdziec synagogue.