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May 25, 2012     Heritage Florida Jewish News
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May 25, 2012

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PAGE 18A Haredim From page 1A chametz, or leavened bread, 6n Passover. Almost no rabbi directly ad- dressed pornography, which is prohibited by traditional Jewish law. Several speakers also lamented the Internet's potential to distract men from learning Torah. To a man, each of the rabbis who spoke said that Jewish law forbids Jews from browsing the Internet without a filter that blocks inappropriate sites. The speeches in Yiddish were broadcast with English subtitles on the stadium's JumboTron. Rabb Yechiel Meir Katz, known as the Dzibo rav, compared the threat of the Internet to the dangers that Zionism and the European Enlightenment posed in the past to traditional Jewish life. "A terrible test has been sent to us that has inflicted so much terrible damage" on haredim, Katz said. The Inter- net poses a greater threat to haredim than secularism did, he said, because "in previous challenges we knew who the enemy was. Today, however, the challenge is disguised and not discernible to the naked eye." The crowd ranged in age from small children to senior citizens. One participant, Yitzchak Weinberger, said that although the speakers focused on the Internet prob- lem rather than solutions, the event was "inspiring." "This is a beginning," said Weinberger, 43. "They're com- ing to raise awareness. Every situation is different, everyone requires some filter." While haredim must limit their Internet access, "you can't not use it," he added. HERITAGE FLORIDA JEWISH NEWS, MAY 25, 2012 About 50 people protested the event across the street from the stadium. Many of the protesters came from Foot- steps, a local organization that helps those who leave haredi Orthodox life integrate into non-haredi society. In par- ticular, they complained that Ichud HaKehillos invested money in the rally rather than in preventing child molesta- tion in the haredi community. "Their priorities are messed up," said Ari Mandel, a former haredi. "Not only do they ignore child molestation, but they intimidate victims. If yourhouse is on fire, you don't worry about leaking pipes." "The rally came after a series of reports in The New York Jewish Week, the Forward and The New York Times about haredi intimidation of victims of sexual abuse who have gone to the police to report their haredi tormentors. Debate From page 1A borders statement, Romney said that Obama has thrown. Israel under the bus, indicating he agrees that such borders will pose a security risk for the Jewish state. Furthermore, "it is disrespectful of Israel for Americato dictate negotiating terms to our ally," Romney said. Romney has also said thot the relationship between the U.S. and Israel should be one of support and not criticism. since Israel is "a nation which shares our values and is our best friend in the Middle East." He also believes it is not the duty of the U.S. to dictate to Israel where it should have its American embassy. Cur- rently, the embassy is in Tel Aviv because Jerusalem is not internationally recognized as Israel's capital. "My inclination is to follow the guidance Of our ally Israel, as to where our facilities and embassies would exist," he said. However. Romney has not explicitly acknowledged sup- port for Jerusalem as the capital city of Israel. IRAN Obama: "I think both the Iranian and the Israeli governments recognize that when the United States says it is unac- ceptable for Iran to have a nuclcarweapon.we mean what we say," Obama has previously said regarding Iran. The Obama administration is primarily focused on using diplomatic sanctions against Iran. Obama has said such sanctions would strike "at the heart" of Iran's nuclear ability. "We are showing the Iranian government that its actions have consequences, and if it persists, the pressure will continue to mount, and its isolation will continue to deepen." In fact since 2010 the president signed the Compre- hensive Iran Sanctions, Ac- countability, and Divestment Act of 2010. as well as other sanctions, all of which targeted Iran's international banking and oil sale abilities. With regard to a military solution to the conflict. Obama had warned Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu against prematurely attacking the country. As to his own administration. "as part of my solemn obligation to the American people, I only use force when the time and cir- cumstances demand it. And I know that Israeli leaders also know all too well the costs and consequences of war. even as they recognize their obliga- tion to defend their country," Obama has said. Romney: Romney calls for another round of tough diplomatic sanctions on the country tar- geting the financial resources of the Iranian regime, as well as placing more restrictions on the Central Bank of Iran ind all business activities of the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps. If the United Nations cannot lead these sanctions due to vetoes from majorwofld nations like Russia or China, the U.S. must be ready to lead with the support of as many governments as it can muster. However Romney believes that sanctions will only be effective if they are buttressed by a concrete military presence in the region. According to his campaign website, this should begin with restoring the presence of U.S. aircraft car- rier task forces in the Eastern Mediterranean and the Persian Gulf region, repairing relations with Israel, increasing mili- tary coordination with Arab allies and conducting more naval exercises to demonstrate American military strength to the region."Only ifIran under- stands that the United States is utterly determined when we say that their nuclear-weapons program is unacceptable is there a possibility that they. will give up their nuclear as- pirations peacefully." Romney has also promised to "take every measure necessary to check the evil regime of the ayatollahs." THE ARAB SPRING AND SYRIA Obama: In this year's State of the Union address, Obama empha- sized that "a wave of change has washed across the Middle East and North Africa, from Tunis to Cairo; from Sana'a to Tripoli.Ayear ago, [Muammar] Gadhafi was one of the world's longest-serving dictators--a murderer with American blood on his hands. Today, he is gone." However, Obama also said that the final outcome of the "Arab Spring" remains uncertain. Even so, hepledged more than $800 million in as- sistance to countries engulfed in these revolutions. "We will advocate for those values that have served our own country so well. We will stand against violence and intimidation. We will stand for the rights and dignity of all human beings," Obama said, adding that Syria's Assad regime "will soon discover that the forces of change can't be reversed, and that human dignity can't be denied." However, recent estimates put the total death toll since theSyrian conflictbegan at more than 11,000. The U.S. government has not yet inter- vened militarily, even though it had intervened in Libya just months earlier, citing U.N. vetoes by major countries like Russia. Obama did recently an- nounce his intention to extend a national state of emergency over Syria for another year, which will allow him to con- tinue placing a variety of sanctions on the country. In March he announced that the U.S. government will provide direct humanitarian and corn- munications assistance to the Syrian opposition. Romney: Romney has said that the "Arab Spring" has spun out of control. "We're all very happy that a very bad guy in Moam- mar Gadhafi was killed, but... how can we try and improve the odds so... that the develop- ments are toward democracy, modernity and more represen- tative forms of government? This we Simply don't know," he said in October 2011. Romney's official website statement on the Middle East addresses the concern that rather than evolving into de- mocracies, these Middle Eastern revolutions could lead to radical Islarnist regimes: "The Romney administration will strive to ensure that the Arab Spring is not followed by an Arab Winter." Romney's campaign claims that the U.$. governmentwill"make available technical assistance to governments and transitional bodies to promote democracy, good governance and sound financial management" under his leadership. As for Syria, "the United States must recognize Syrian strongman Bashar al-Assad for what he is: an unscrupulous dictator, a killer and a proxy for Iran, '' according to Rom- ney. He argues for increased pressure on the U.N. to act and collaborate with Saudi Arabia and Turkey against the Syrian regime, and to make it clear . that the U.S. and its allies will support the Syrian opposi- tion when it will be building a post-Assad government. However, Romney said at a news conference in March that he too is "not favoring military involvement, direct military involvement by the United States" at the current stage. JONATHAN POLLARD Obama: Various groups have called on the president to grant clemency to Jonathan Pollard, who was convicted of spying for Israel in 1987, arguing that Pollard's life sentence is disproportionate to sentences given to others serving time for espionage. In April of this year, Israeli President Shimon Peres wrote a letter entreating Obama to release Pollard. The White House responded that "regarding Mr. Pollard the administration's position has not changed." Romney: When it comes to Pollard, Romney seems to be undecided onwhetherhe deserves apresi- dential pardon, though he has said he is "open to examining" the issue. Information and quotations in this report taken from Mit-, Politico.corn, Washington Post, Yedioth Ahronoth, Israel Hayom, BBC, Huffington Post, Fox News, Israel National News,, CBS, New York Times,, and Free- Cuban From page 1A Vidal would not.offer specif- ics, but prompted by inter- viewer Wolf Blitzer. she said the Cuban Five were a concern. "Cuba has legitimate con- cerns, humanitarian concerns related to the situation of the Cuban Five." she said. The State Department im- mediately rejected such reci- procity. "There is no equivalence between these situations," Victoria Nuland, the State Department spokeswoman. said in remarks to the press the day after the interview. "On the one hand, you have convicted spies in the United States. and on the other hand, you have an assistance worker who should never have been locked up in the first place. So we are not contemplating any release of the Cuban Five, and we are not contemplating any trade. "The continuing imprison- ment of Alan Gross is deplor- able, it is wrong, and it's an affront to human decency. And the Cuban government needs to do the right thing." On background, a source apprised of the dealings among Gross' advocates, the U.S. government and the Cubans says that Gross' advocates are willing to press for Visits by the wives of two of the Cuban Five, Rene Gonzalez and Ge- rardo Hernandez. The U.S. has refused visas multiple times for the women, and Amnest International has taken up their cause. Another possible "give." according to the source: a permanent return to Cuba for Gonzalez, who is out of jail and serving probation in the Miami area. It's not clearwhat the Cubans would offer in return for such concessions, but it is likely they would draw protests from the Cuban-American community, - including among stalwart pro- Israel lawmakers such as Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (R-Fla.), the powerful chairwoman of the U.S. House of Represen- tatives Foreign Affairs Com- mittee, who has rejected any leniency for the Cuban Five. Ronald Halber, who heads the Jewish Community Re- lations Council of Greater Washington and has directed much of the national activ- ism on Gross' behalf, said he understands the "intensity" of the Cuban-American com- munity's response, butsaidthat President Obama also should take into account th national interest. "I do not believe that U.S. policy to Cuba can be held hostage by the Cuban com- munity in Miami," he said. "It's American national interests that are at stake. They should be part of the conversation, I understand the intensity, although this intensity is more among the older generation, not the younger generation. Our government has to do what is in our interests." Gross' family and his advo- cates in the organized Jewish community emphasize their agreementwith Nuland's prem- ise: There is no equivalency between acontractor installing and training others in the use of communications equip- ment and five spies believed to be instrumental in the 1996 shooting of two small aircraft leafleting Cuba with pro-democracy messages, resulting in the deaths of four Cuban-American activists. Additionally, Jewish lead- ers dismiss the notion of the release of five loyalists to the regime of the Castro broth- ers, reviled in the" influential Cuban-American community, as simply notworthaddressing. Thre of the five were sentenced to life and one to 19 years. Gonzalez, sentenced to 15 years, was released last year on a three-year probation. "We're not in a position to negotiate that and I don't think the U. S. government is inclined to do so," Malcolm Hoenlein, the executive vice-chairman of the Conference of Presidents of American Jewish Organiza- tions, the community's foreign policy umbrella, told JTA. Instead, he said, "We are continuing to press the case in various fora directly and indirectly." That included the Presidents Conference's recent requests that Pope Benedict XVI raise Gross' plight during his March Cuba trip. Vidal's ambiguity in her in- terview withBlitzer suggested that there may be measures short of release that would invite Cuban reciprocity on Gross' behalf. "I hav to tell you that the situation and the conditions of the detention of Mr.Alan Gross are ve.ry much different from the conditions" of the Cuban Five, who claim to have spent periods in solitary confine- ment, she said. Vidal noted that the mother of one died without seeing him since his imprisonment, and the wives of two have not been permitted to visit them in the United States. Gross, who is held in a medi- cal facility, has been visited by family, friends and Jewish lead- ers. He is allowed weekly calls to the United States. Most recently he spoke with leaders of the JCRC of Greater Washington to thank them for leading U.S. advocacy on his behalf. Gross' home is in Potomac, Md., a Washington- area suburb. Gross, his family and his advocates want him to make a two-weekvisit to his 90-year-old mother, who is dying of cancer in Texas, after which he has pledged he will return to Cuba, His family had voiced sup- port for allowing Gonzalez to return home for two weeks to visit his brother. Gonzalez made the visit in March and has since returned. Vidal said the two conces- sions were not equivalent. "The cases of Mr. Gross and Mr. Rene Gonzalez, I have to tell you, are different," she told CNN."First, Mr. Rene Gonzalez, who is one of the Cuban Five, he served completely his term until the last day. Rene Gonzalez was notdetainedandwas notimpris- oned for attemptingagainst U.S. national security." Those are the charges against Gross; Cuba says the Cuban Five were guilty only of spying on groups it considers as extremist and not on th U.S. government. Cuba maintains that Gross' activity on behalf of the Jewish community was a cover for" installing sophisticated com- munications equipment. Gross has said the equipment is freely available in U.S. electronic goods outlets and online. Such distinctions have frustrated advocates for Gross, who note that the family took the unusual step of advocating for allowing Gonzalez to visit his brother. "We can certainly appreci- ate some of the humanitarian concerns facing the Five," Peter Kahn, Gross'American lawyer, told JTAin an interview."In fact, we publicly urged that Rene Gonzalez be allowed to travel to Cuba to visit his critically ill brother. We only wish that the Cubans would reciprocate and allow Alan to visit his dy- ing mother -- we really don't understand how they can be so cold-hearted in this situation if they sincerely mean what they -say about dealing with Alan's case on a 'reciprocal humani- tarian basis.'" Halber of the Washington JCRC noted a new openness to Cuba under the Obama administration, which has facilitated travel between the two countries. President Raui Castro's daughterl Mariela, is attending a conference this week in San Francisco. Halbersaid the primary fault lies with the Cuban govern- ment for attempting to lever- age Gross' freedom to secure concessions for the Cuban Five. "He is a man who is being used as a hostage, who is be- ing used as.a pawn," Halber said. "The Cubans are using a man as a bargaining chip to get back five correctly convicted folkswho committed crimes on U.S. soil."