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May 4, 2012

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PAGE 4A ']['he Good 00ord David Bornstein Coming home A month or so ago I stood with an old friend of mine in the park across the street from our house. He was here visiting from New York City, where he has lived for many years. Many of you probably know him. His family has been prominent in the Central Florida Jewish community for a long time. He is a freelance journalist, and has traveled the world writing about art and architecture and how it interweaves with history and national identity. He speaks about a half dozen lan- guages. Obviously, he's bright, talented and has experienced the world in ways in which many of us dream. And he said something interesting to me as we stood there, staring at people playing tennis, children on the play- ground, a couple walking to the local YMCA. "I have this fantasy," he said, "about coming home and living back in Orlando." "But it'll never happen," I replied. "You couldn't give up New York." "Probably not," he said, and the conversa- tion drifted off to other topics. But that brief comment got me thinking. Why wouldn't he come home? He has family here, history here and the Orlando area is a nice, comfortable place to live. It's not New York, of course, but no place is. Every place pales in comparison to one of the great cul- tural, social and intellectual meccas of the Does the Holocaust belong to everyone? By Sue Fishkoff anti-Israeli hands, he noted, and Holocaust I'm not sure why I go to Holocaust museums. It's not to amass more facts and figures about the Nazis' extermination campaign against the Jews--there's always more to learn, but that's not why I go. It's not to cry, or to cry out, although I've done both. It's not to feel closer to the Jewish people--I'm pretty much involved with the Jewish people 24/7 already. I suppose I go because how could I not? Call it an unbidden act of psychic solidarity. So when I heard about aYom HaShoah talk on Holocaust museums--"Museums and the Remaking Of Holocaust Memory"--of course I went. How could I not? The discussion at the JCC of San Francisco turned on the question of who owns the Holo- caust. More precisely, who owns the memory of the Holocaust? Is it the awful property of the Jewish people, its lessons circumscribed by the particularities? Or is it part of human history, with universal lessons to teach? New York Times cultural critic-at-large Edward Rothstein spoke forcefully about the unique Jewish connection to the Holocaust, which he believes should not be diluted by a politically correct impulse to universalize what is more properly left as the particular. Holding up the Museum of Tolerance in Los Angeles as an example, Rothstein lambasted its focus on hate crimes and bullying, "as if there's no difference between bullying and Buchenwald." "It's as if the Jewish story of the Holocaust can't stand on its own," he complained. "It has to be generalized and universalized before it can be urged on others. A Holocaust museum in the United States can't be 'too Jewish.' " The first Holocaust museums were built in Israel, he pointed out, where they serve a historic and national purpose. But outside Israel, where they aim to draw non-Jewish audiences (and funding), Holocaust museums have taken on a tone that he finds unfortunate, even dangerous. If the Holocaust can mean everything, he said, then anything can be a Holocaust. Then there is no special, horrible significance to the Nazi campaign against the Jews. Then the Jews themselves, through their Israeli avatars, can be accused of imposing another holocaust of their own on the Palestinians. This twisted analogy is already a weapon in museums should not play into it. "The Holocaust is specific," Rothstein said, "and its lesson shouldn't be universalized and watered down." In I979, I was traveling through Poland and decided to take a young non-Jewish Polish friend to Auschwitz. I wanted him to know, and I wanted to be the one to tell him--for me, in that place, the Holocaust museum had national, Zionist import. Auschwitz was not yet the tourist draw it has since become. It was badly curated; each category of people murdered was given its own building and exhibit, with descriptions written in that people's native tongue. The Jewish exhibit was in Hebrew, a lan- guage no Pole could read. I translated for my friend in a loud voice until the security guard told me to stop. I felt self-righteous. I was 21. Countering Rothstein at the JCC was Ste- phen Smith, executive director of the USC Shoah Foundation Institute, a non-Jewish Brit who was so affected by his first encounter with Israel and Yad Vashem that he founded England's first Holocaust Centre and made a career of helping present the Shoah to a wide audience. Smith spoke of how the memory of the Holocaust belongs to humanity as an eternal warning against hatred and racist violence. Today there are more than 300 Holocaust museums and other institutions around the world. The United States has 16 major muse- ums, along with many more local ones. What is it they should be doing? Nothing can match the impact of see- ing Auschwitz or Dachau, standing in the barracks, looking at the piles of shoes and eyeglasses and feeling the presence--or, more correctly, the agony of the absence--of the millions who suffered and died in that place, on that land.Amuseum elsewhere cannot have that visceral power; it must offer something different, something that speaks to why it was built in Chicago or Miami or Los Angeles. Can a Holocaust museum in the United States be "only" about the Jews, and risk los- ing visitors? Or must it touch upon the Jewish story as part of a greater cautionary tale, and risk losing its soul? Sue Fishkoff is the editor ofj., and can be reached at THE VIEWS EXPRESSED ON THIS PAGE ARE NOT NECESSARILY THE VIEWS OFHERITAGE MANAGEMENT. ISSN 0199-0721 Winner of 40 Press Awards HE ITAGE HERITAGE Florida Jewish News (ISN 0199-0721) is published weekly for $37.95 per year to Florida ad- dresses ($46.95 for the rest of the U.S.) by HERITAGE Central Florida Jewish News, Inc., 207 O'Brien Road, Suite 101, Fern Park, FL 32730. Periodicals postage paid at Fern Park and additional mailing offices. POSTMASTER: Send address changes and other correspondence to: HERITAGE, P.O. Box 300742, Fern Park, FL 32730. MAILING ADDRESS PHONE NUMBER P.O. Box 300742 (407) 834-8787 Fern Park, FL 32730 FAX (407) 831-0507 ernail: news@orlandoheritage.corn CENTRAL FLORIDA'S INDEPENDENT JEWISH VOICE Editor/Publisher Jeffrey Gaeser Editor Emeritus Associate Editor Gene Starn Mike Etzkin Assistant Editor Kim Fischer Society Editor Bookkeeping Gloria Yousha Paulette Alfonso Account Executives Barbara do Carmo Marci Gaeser Contributing Columnists Jim Shipley Ira Sharkansky Tim Boxer David Bornstein Terri Fine Ed Ziegler Production Department David Lehman * David Gaudio * Teri Marks Elaine Schooping Gil Dornbrosky Caroline Pope HERITAGE FLORIDA JEWISH NEWS, MAY 4, 2012 world. But still. Even so. What would tip the scales and bring him back to a place that is naturally close to his heart, but that he aban- doned long ago for more exciting settings? My wife and I have a running joke. Every time we travel anywhere I'm ready to move. Maybe it's the natural beauty of the Pacific Northwest, or crazy L.A., or MOMA and the Met and Broadway in NYC. Whatever it is, we leave Orlando and I'm gone, and she's told me she won't let me take a vacation if all it does is make me want to leave home, It's a discussion I've had with many of my philanthropist friends in our community. They want to give, they've told me, in ways that enhance Central Florida and make it a more attractive place for their children to return to, and perhaps their children's children. So they support and promote not only a strong Jewish community but the arts and entertainment and sports venues. They want, not just well run Jewish agencies and nice Jewish campuses and positive, growing synagogues. They want the whole package--a complete lifestyle that can be touted, praised, and sold to future generations. When you look at it that way, we still have a long way to go. Sure, we have the Orlando Magic, but no other big time professional sports teams (sorry Predators and Solar Bears; you just don't cut it). We've had trouble sup- porting and maintaining a symphony, a ballet, even a major art museum. (I like the Orlando Museum of Art, but if anyone can tell me what the goal and focus of their collection is, I'll write any column they want.) We have Disney World and Sea World and Universal Studios, but who wants to be known solely as a tourist town? Living in the Gatlinburg of Florida has never been something I've boasted about. The vibrancy of our Jewish community? Well...I've avoided talking about that for a long time, and let's just say that after some tough years it seems to be on the rebound. Our Jewish agencies have struggled and shrunk, as almost all social service organizations have over the past five years, and now it's time to make whatever changes are necessary for the next decade of relevance. So let's begin and end with the point of this column. The health of our community, its attractiveness to newcomers and oldcomers alike, cannot be based on any one thing. Not the teams or the theme parks or the culture (or lack thereof) or the religious institutions. If we want to make Central Florida a place where our children--Jewish children--want to come back to, we have to help it all. We have to be part of the whole to make the whole picture brighter. You may pick your agency of choice. You may work in this field or that, this cultural arena or that health or education venue, but when it comes right down to it, we're com- peting with the world, and as such, have to take a world view to make ourselves a better place to live. Will we ever be a city like New York? No, and that's for better and for worse. Butwe can be a heck of a lot more than we are. And then the fantasy of coming home will no longer be a stretch of the imagination. And that's the good word. The opinions in this column are those of the writer and not the Heritage or any other individual, agency or organization. Send your thoughts, com- ments and critiques to the Heritage or emai! Letter from Israel Settlement pros, cons, explanations and speculation By Ira Sharkansky Israel's settlement policy has returned to the headlines with a ministerial decision to convert three West Bank outposts (Rehalim, Bruchin, and Sansana) into legal settlements, and to find a solution for a neighborhood of Beit E1 that the Supreme Court has ruled to be illegally located on Palestinian land. Also on the table is the unresolved issue of the settlement Migron. No surprise that Israeli moves have brought forth a chorus of opposition from a number of European governments, plus officials of the United States, the Palestine Authority, and Jordan. We do not know how the government-- whose prime minister has said time and again that he respects the decisions of the Supreme Court--and the Court will deal with one another over the next few days. Nonethe- less, this has the louder noise of a routine exercise that we have seen time and again. That is, Palestinians and the international community protest, and Israel continues to support settlement on what others view as Palestinian land. In most of these cases there are disputes as to whether a specific parcel was properly sold, or the payments made to individuals who forged documents or who later claimed they were swindled in order to avoid Palestin- ian death threats about selling land to Jews. The details are difficult or impossible to know with absolute clarity. Moreover, they are less important than a big picture, which includes these elements: The present Israeli government supports settlement activities, even while it refrains from substantial expansions that might go a step too far in offending great powers. Support for settlement is not simply a pro- gram of right-of-center Likud. Its history has firm roots in Labor party activity during the periods of its governments, and activities by predecessors of the Labor party going back before the creation of the Israeli state. Currently Likud and some of its coalition partners may be in front of Labor and other centrist or left-of-center parties on the issue of supporting settlements. The most recent poll shows Likud getting twice the votes of any other party if an election were to be held in the near future. Consistent with this, the idea of demolish- ing substantial settlements--or perhaps even anything more than the smallest of them--has little support in Israel. Involved in the indifference or support of settlements shown by many Israelis is the violent Palestinian response to withdrawing settlements from Gaza, and the repeated rejections by Palestinians of proposals made by left-of-center or centrist parties (i.e., La- bor led by Barak in 2000 or Kadima led by Olmert in 2008). The principal dynamic apparent in this situation is Israeli frustration at Palestinian rejectionism, which seems to flow from ele- ments widespread in the Palestinian commu- nity that cannot bring themselves to accept Israel's legitimacy. It is appropriate to say that the problem is Islam, despite the lack of political correctness attached to that view among many western politicians and political activists. There are important nuances here. The problem is not so much Muslims, haany or even the vast majority of whom do not seem to care, but the nature of Islam in formulations currently fashionable that lead enthusiasts and extremists to reject any concessions to a non-Muslim entity on what is viewed as Muslim land. Several items have come into my mailbox in recent days that shed light on what is happening. One is an insightful analysis of post-World War II responses to the Holocaust by Daniel Greenfield, in which he contrasts "Never again," with "Teach Tolerance." The first he finds to prevail in Israel, and the second in Jewish communities and elsewhere outside of Israel. He recognizes that not a few Israeli Jews fit into what he calls "Teach Tolerance," while many Jews and others outside of Israel fit the model of "Never again." One can also call the two responses right and left of cen- ter, or a more aggressive mode of defence against continuing threats as opposed to a humanitarian view of how to deal with ethnic tensions, competition, and violence in the Middle East and elsewhere. One doesn't have to subscribe to all of Greefield's analysis to accept the view that Israelis are more likely to express a posture of aggressive defense to hostile others, rein- forced by a learned distrust of Palestinian intentions. One result is apparent in the government's policy in support of settlements. Another item comes from one of the camps in Islamic extremism, as revealed in an in- terview put on the Internet by the Christian Broadcasting Network. We might not want to rely on the Christian Broadcasting Network anymore than on the prophecies of religiously intense Jewish settlers, but a CBN interview with an articulate Muslim shows his confi- dence is the eventual spread of Sharia law throughout Europe and beyond. Letter on page 15A