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May 4, 2012

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HERITAGE FLORIDA JEWISH NEWS, MAY 4, 2012 Koppelman From page 2A a veteran Israeli feminist, described encroachments on Israeli women&apos;s rights, including buseswherewomen were expected to sit in the back. Israeli Prime Minister Ben- jamin Netanyahu's govern- ment has pushed back against such measures, pledging to "preserve public space as open and safe." Seeing Iranian women shoved to the back of the bus unsettled Koppelman, who asked his guide whether such measures were introduced all at once after the 1979 revolu- tion that brought Islamists to power. No, the guide said, each change came incrementally. "I thought, 'What's going to happen to Israel?' " Kop- pelman said. He didn't leave it at just thinking about it. "I'm a person who likes to speak out," said Koppel- man, who then recited an Op-Ed he had submitted to The New York Times in 1995 weeks after an extremist Jew assassinated Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin. "Like so many members of the American Jewish commu- nity, I have kept my opinions to myself for too long," Kop- pelman read from the Op-Ed in stentorian, Brooklyn- inflected tones. "Hesitant to contribute to an image of the Jews as a divided people, I have refrained from taking a public stand on the issue of Israel exchanging occupied territory for peace. In unity, so I thought, there is strength. But it was words--words of venomous hatred--that led directly to the unthinkable outrage of the assassination of a prime minister of Israel by a Jew." In the Op-Ed, Koppelman describes the time he spent as a young man on a kibbutz in Israel. "I spent years working in the fields by day and standing guard duty against terrorists at night," he wrote. "It is a time in my life that I look back on with tremendous pride, a time when my personal ties to Israel were forged strongly and immutably in the exhila- ration and promise of a Jewish homeland reborn." Koppelman is fiercely loyal to the institutions thatshaped him as a youth. He is a major benefactor to Brooklyn Col- lege, and his resume lists the years there he spent earning a bachelor's degree in account- ing, 1954-1957. "I was on welfare during the entire Depression," he said. "That's why I rewarded Brooklyn College--because of them I got my degree and became a CPA. Now I'm in the securities business." "In the securities busi- ness" is his understated way of a professional biography that includes founding East- lake Securities, which was eventually folded into J.P. Morgan, where he is now a vice president. Following his trip to Iran, Koppelman reviewed the Jewish organizations that have benefited from his lar- gesse--amongthem ORT, the Anti-Defamation League and the UJA-Federation of New York. He settled on NIF, which focuses on funding programs that promote civil rights and democracy in Israel. "I decided that was the most obvious," said Koppel- man, adding that his prior donations to the group had "not been consequential." New Israel Fund was happy to oblige. And not just for the cash: A past president of American ORT, Koppelman lends credibility to the organi- zation, which has come under assault from right-wingers in recent years as not sufficiently pro-Israel. "He's a pillar of the Ameri- can Jewish community," said Daniel Sokatch, NIF's CEO. The defaced poster in the Times ad features Roni Hazon Weiss, an Orthodox woman who posed for the poster for an NIF-backed group called Yerushalmim (Jerusalem- ites). The group placed the billboards around the city in defiance of some in the Jerusalem haredi Orthodox community who have sys- tematically defaced images of women. Abraham Foxman, the ADL's national director, says Koppelman is "a caring, lov- ing, decent Zionist." And also a fundraiser's dream: "He puts his money where his mouth is, without a lot of demands," Foxman said. The ADL leader bemoaned the ad as divisive, although he lauded its mission. "The NIF is to help Israel maintain its democratic val- ues," he said. "This only gives another excuse to people we don't like." Foxman especially was upset by the story behind the ad. Comparisons with Iran, he said, are "odious." Still, he could not fault what motivated Koppelman. PAGE 15A WHAT HAPPENS WHEN EXTREMISM CROWDS OUT EQUALITY AND DEMOCRACY IN ISRAEL? m New Israel Fund In a New York Times ad, philanthropist Murray Kop- pelman pledged to match up to $500,000 in new donations to the New Israel Fand to support its work combating discrimi- nation againstwomen in Israel. "I know where his heart is," Foxman said. "I know how deeply he loves Israel." Letter From page 4A How does this fit into Is- rael's settlement policy? The Muslim's confidence of eventual victory is parallel to the posture of Israelis sitting in positions of authority, with considerable support in the population. Don't get me wrong. I know of no Israeli Jew outside of a mental institution who wants or expects the Jews to rule the world or even the entire area of the West Bank. I personally do not endorse turning every small settlement into a legal Humor From page 5A children think he's funny but not his humor, and he worries about the generation gap. "How do I translate to them 'hock mir nisht kayn chynek' [literally, Yiddish for 'don't knock me a tea kettle,' but es- sentially, 'don't bother me']? "Jewish humor? I think it will disappear. But I hope not," he says, adding, "All the guys that are dead I used to love." A1 Kustanowitz, 72, of Fairlawn, N.J., is more op- timistic. A 36-year-veteran of IBM, he now spends an average of an hour a day updating a popular website extension of Israel despite doubts about Palestinian property rights, or chal- lenging the anti-settlement policies of the great powers. I view as foolhardy the aggres- sive movement of religiously motivated Jews into the heart of hostile Arab communities. On the other hand, I un- derstand Israelis who are confident of maintaining existing settlements, thick- ening them with additional construction, and inching outward to vacant land along- side existing settlements. Call it Judaic encroachment on Palestinian land if you will, but the policy has jus- tified itself over the course of 45 years in the presence of Palestinian inflexibility and nothing more than lip service in opposition from Western governments and political activists. The Palestinians have consistently violated the ba- sic rule of negotiations that produces little for those who demand too much. Their re- jectionism provides the best explanation of their getting nothing more than lip service from Western governments. Explanations of what has been happening since 1967, and continues, ought to start with Islam, if it is possible to overcome the mantra that the problem is not Islam. Religious practice changes. Islam has its humanitarian and tolerant elements, but they are not currently promi- nent. One should be wary about predicting the spread of Sharia throughout Europe and elsewhere, but Islam has a firm position in the Middle East, where it is unpopular among political activists to advocate concessions to he launched from home in 2009, a labor of love called Jewish Humor Central <www.jewishhumorcentral. corn>, which features an en- tertaining mix of jokes, odd news items ("Gaza Zoo Adds Stuffed Animals"), music, new comedy videos and clips from classic routines. As "blogger-in-chief," he says he has written close to 800 blog posts, and admits "it's getting harder to find clean material" to use on the site. (He includes a warning if a video has language "from the George Carlin list" of seven words you can never say on TV.) Kustanowitz says his muse was his late wife, Shuly, who served as his "gentle censor." Now he often runs material by his daughter, Esther, a prolific blogger and Jewish culture queen in her own right. ("The tree doesn't fall far from the fruits," AI jokes of his own talent.) For some 25 years he published a family newslet- ter with funny news items around Purim time each year, noting that, "you can't make this stuff up." Over time he sent it out to hundreds of family members and friends, but he abandoned the print edition now that his website has about 2,300 subscribers. Besides, he says, "I started the blog because I couldn't wait until Purim." Based on his success, Kustanowitz now offers a series of one-hour lectures. His talks include video clips and commentary, with more than two dozen topics to choose from. "I don't worry about theo- ries" about Jewish humor and its sociological implications, he says. "These jokes last forever." Gary Rosenblatt is editor and publisher of The New York Jewish Week, from which this article was re- printed by permission. You may contact him at Gary@ Israel, or even among many to accept Israel's legitimacy. Israel's future may lie somewhere in the space between the Muslims who would rather not sacrifice themselves for what they say is their faith, and political figures who dare not chal- lenge enthusiasts with overt concessions to the Jews. Israel's situation is delicate. Thus, the concern one hears, even among religious nation- alists, about not going too far, too fast, with settlement expansion, and their doubts about Messianic Jews whowish to establish their outposts in the midst of hostile Arabs. Iran and the implica- tions of Arab spring may be weighty, but are still amor- phous, and only of potential importance. Jews as well as Arabs who demand too much may endup as losers, but so far it is the Palestinians who have been violating that rule. Ira Sharkansky is profes- sor emeritus, Department of Political Science, Hebrew University of Jerusalem. He may be reached at irashark@ Sudoku solution from page 7 578314962 416928537 392567184 184692375 957143628 623785491 231479856 849256713 765831249