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May 8, 2009

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FLORIDA JEWISH NEWS ii,l,,h,i,,,,il,,li,:ii,,,,,ih,l,Jii,,,!.i!,,,I,h![,,,!,,ii |A !8"I ...................... MIXED ADC 320 TO: ZMAIE TOWN PAPERS 17270 F A 5026 CAUFORN}A AVE SW A SEATTLE WA ei3-120e B'nai Mitzvah .......................... 8A Sceoe Around ......................... 9A Classified ................................. 2B The Appeal of Conscience Foundation Pope Benedict XVl, Shown here meeting with New York Rabbi Arthur Schneier at the Vatican in February 2009, is likely to be compared to his pCedecessor, John Paul II, during his visit to Israel. Pope leaves today for Mideast; potential minefields await By Ruth Ellen Gruber ROME (JTA)--The official Israeli government web site for Pope Benedict XVI's upcoming trip to Israel and the West Bank promotes the May H-15 visit as a "Bridge for Peace." Others, however, describe it as a po- tential minefield where various factions may try to exploit the pope's presence for political gain. "Both Jewish and Muslim ideologues are determined to stop the pope cross- ing that bridge," wrote Catholic religion journalist Damian Thompson in his blog for the U.K. Telegraph, "either by smearing him as an anti-Semite or by making his visit to a Palestinian refugee camp look like a politically motivated reproach to Israel." The German-born pontiffleaves for the Middle East today; he will spend three days in Jordan before flying to Israel. The trip ithe first by a pope to Israel since the 2000 pilgrimage by Benedict's predecessor, Pope John Paul II. John Paul was a historic trailblazer who made promoting Vatican-Jewish relations a central policy goal. Inevitably, Benedict's words and ac- tions are sure to be Compared--and contrasted--with John Paul's. "It's unfair, but John Paul'swarmthwill be compared to the theological coldness of Benedict," Israeli political scientist Shlomo Avineri told JTA. "The fact that he was in the Hitler Youth, though in- voluntarily, will make everyone look at every move and turn of phrase." Several issues have strained Vatican- Jewish ties in recent months. There is ongoing controversy over wartime Pope Plus XII's role in the Holocaust, and Jewish groups erupted in January when Benedict lifted a 20 -year- old excommuni- cation order against a traditional bishop who turned out to be a Holocaust denier. In Rome, Lisa Palmieri-Billig, the American Jewish Committee's liaison with the Vatican, told JTA that both sides were striving to minimize lingering problems ahead of the papal trip. "All the problems that might have loomed onthe horizon before the pon- tiff announced his trip are being muted within the perspective of the importance of the visit for bilateral relations," she said. "Both the Israelis and world Jewry are aware of this and want to nourish good relations." On April 12, Benedict, 82, said he would "emphatically" bring a message of "justice and truth, mercy, forgiveness and love" on his trip. "Reconciliation--difficult but indis- pensable-is a precondition for a future of overall security and peaceful coexistence, and it can only be achieved through renewed, persevering and sincere ef- forts to resolve the Israeli-Palestinian conflict," he said. The pope's itinerary mixes prayer, politics and pastoral teaching to local Pope on page 18A Linking the Israeh" Palestinian conflict and Iran By Leslie Susser JERUSALEM (JTA)--As Israel's new government reviews its foreign policy op- tions, Benjamin Netanyahu is coming under increasing pressure from Israel's main ally and biggest trading partner to stay on course for a two-state solution with the Palestinians. The prime minister's re- fusal so far to make an explicit commitment to the two-state approach seems to have prompted both the United States and the Eu- ropean Union to link help toward major Israeli foreign policy goals to progress on the Palestinian track. State Department photo U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton, seen here with Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas in the West Bank on March 4, 2009, is linking Israeli-Palestinian progress with U.S. cooperation on Iran. The United States is linking moves to stop Iran from going nuclear to serious Israeli- Palestinian negotiations, and the European Union is linking a promised upgrade in ties with Israel to a renewed Israeli commitment to the two-state model. "For Israel to get the kind of strong support it is looking for vis-a-vis Iran, it can't stay on the sidelines with respect to the Palestinians and the peace efforts," U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said in testimony to a U.S. House of Representatives appropria- tions subcommittee on April 23. "They go hand in hand." Clinton argues that dead- lock on the Palestinian track would make it much harder for the Obama administra- tion to mobilize an alliance of moderate Arab states against Iran's nuclear program and, conversely, that Israel's open- ing of serious talks with the Palestinians would create the right conditions for moderate Arab states to join a U.S.-led campaign. Clinton's view is part of what seems to be a new American modus operandi worldwide: solving interna- tional and regional problems Conflict on page 18A Specter's switch Ir I.I. ends amtzon By Ron Kampeas WASHINGTON (JTA)--The announcement by U.S. Sen. Arlen Specter of Pennsylvania that he was switching parties and becoming a Democrat leaves no Republican Jew in the U.S. Senate, and just one in the entire U.S. Congress. "Since my election in 1980, as part of the Reagan Big Tent, the Republican Party has moved far to the right," Spec- ter, 79, said in a statement. "Lastyear, more than 200,000 Republicans in Pennsylvania changed their registration to become Democrats. I now find my political philosophy more in line with Democrats than Republicans." Specter, who announced the switch at a news confer- ence April 28, made the move in time to compete in Demo- cratic primaries for the 2010 election. The veteran senator's switch means that for the first time in decades, a moderate GOP Jewish voice--embodied over the years not only by Specter but also Rudy Boschwitz of Minnesota, Warren Rudman of New Hampshire and the late Jacob Javits of New York--will be absent from the Senate. It brings Democrats one vote shy of a filibuster-busting quorum of 60 senators, and they look increasingly likely to pick up the remaining seat in Minnesota. A1 Franken ap- pears favored to win a court battle there with Norm Cole- U.S. Senate Republican Sen. Arlen Specter of Pennsylvania said he was changing party affili- ations because his political philosophy is now "more in line with Democrats than Republicans." man, until last November the only other Republican Jew in the Senate. In the wake of President Obama's resounding vic- tory among Jewish voters last November--some 78 percent--Specter's move also raises questions about the Jewish role in a Republican Party that until recently was believed to be making strides in the community. The joke has persisted at Republican Jewish Coalition gatherings for a decade or so: Back in the 1980s, when we started, we could meet Specter on page 19A AIPAC decision a victory AIPAC Israeli President Shimon Peres addresses the AIPAC policy conference in Washington, May 4, 2009. By Ron Kampeas WASHINGTON (JTA)--Ba- ruch Weiss, the young lawyer who helped cripple the gov- ernment's case against two formerAIPAC staffers, says the prosecution's loss is a "great victory" for free speech and for Israel's friends. He's not wrong, but like any legal document, the gov- ernment's motion Friday to dismiss classified information charges against Steve Rosen, the American Israel Public Affairs Committee's former foreign policy chief, and Keith Weissman, its former Iran analyst, begs for footnotes and qualifiers. The decision upholds as a matter of law the right of lobbyists to relay information to allies such as Israel. The drawn-out case, however, unquestionably wounded the pro-Israel community's reputation as unassailable. It also defers a looming crisis for one of the fundamentals of reporting: the right of a AIPAC on page 18A