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May 25, 2012

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HERITAGE FLORIDA JEWISH NEWS, MAY 25, 2012 Sudan From page 1A Haim Koren, the incoming Israeli ambassador to South Sudan, told JTA. South Sudan was created last year when its residents voted to secede from Sudan, a country with a Muslim ma- jority and without diplomatic ties to Israel. The government in Khartoum accepted the se- cession, but in recent weeks a long-simmering dispute over oil revenues and borders has brought the two Sudans to the brink of all-out war. With Sudan having often served as a safe haven for en- emies of Israel and the West, the South Sudanese and Israel have had a common adversary. In the mid-1990s, Osama bin Laden found shelter in Sudan. In 1995, Sudanese in- telligence agents participated in an attempt to assassinate Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak, an ally of Israel and the West. Khartoum signed a military cooperation agree- ment with Iran in 2008, and in 2009, Israeli warplanes reportedly bombed a 23-truck weapons convoy in Sudan bound for the Gaza Strip. The first contact between militants from southern Sudan and the Israeli gov- ernment was in 1967, when a commander with the Anyana Sudanese rebel movement wrote to then-Israeli Prime Minister Levi Eshkol. The officer explained that his mili- tantswere fighting on Sudan's southern flank, and that with some help, the Anyana could keep Israel's enemies bogged down and distracted. According to James Mulla, the director of Voices of Su- dan, a coalition of U.S.-based Sudanese-interest organiza- tions, Israel's support proved pivotal to the Anyana's success during the first Sudanese civil war, which ended in 1972. "Israel was the only coun- try that helped the rebels in South Sudan," Mulla told JTA. "They provided advisers to the Anyana, which is one reasonwhy the government of Sudan wanted to sign a peace agreement. They wanted to finish the Anyana movement just shortly before they got training and advice." Over the years, there have been reports of the Israelis continuing to aid South Sudanese rebels during Su- dan's second civil war, which lasted from 1983 to 2005 and resulted in an estimated 1.5 million to 2.5 million deaths. Angelos Agok, a U.S.-based activist and a 13-year veteran in the Sudanese People's Lib- eration Movement, recalls that the SPLM's ties to Israel were kept discrete. "It was an intricate case, where South Sudan was still part of Sudan, which is an Arab country,"Agok said."We didn't want to offend them, and we had to be very careful diplomatically." Agok said SPLA leaders traveled to Israel for train- ing. The Israeli government declined to comment on the subject. Koren says the relationship with South Sudan is consis- tent with Israel's strategic interests in EastAfrica, where state failure and political extremism have provided ter- rorist groups with potential bases of operation. "In the long run, we're expecting that friendly coun- tries like South Sudan could be an ally like other states that are built in a non-extreme way," he said. Agriculture is another reason for the alliance. South Sudan's economic future likely depends on large-scale farming. There was little commercial development in the region during the war years, and the country still imports much of its food from Uganda, despite sitting on some of Africa's richest potential farmland. It's an area in which Is- rael has deep expertise, and it shares that expertise in ongoing cooperative projects with numerous developing countries. "We have the initiative and we have the abilities to contribute and to help," Koren said of South Sudan's agricultural potential. Israel already has a small presence in the country in the form of IsraAid, an Israeli NGO coalition. In March, an IsraAid delegation helped South Sudan set up its Min- istry of Social Development, which will provide social work-related services for a population traumatized by decades of war. "Whenever you say you're from Israel, they'll open you the door," said Ophelie Namiech, the head of the Israeli delegation. "When we say we're Israeli, the trust has already been built." Eliseo Neuman, who is di- rector of the American Jewish Committee's Africa Institute and traveled to Juba with the SPLM when South Sudan was still under Khartoum's control, says the close ties between Israel and South Sudan could complicate both countries' relationships with the Arab world. "The north was blamed by theArab League generally for fumbling the secession, and some allege that now they have the Zionists on their southern frontier--mean- ing the South Sudanese," Neuman said. "Any very overt strengthening of the relationship might be an irritant." The relationship faces an- other potential pitfall: the future of the estimated 3,000 South Sudanese living in Is- rael who fled to Israel via Egypt during the long civil war. Israel has struggled with how to handle the migrants and differentiating between those who came seeking refuge from violence and those who came in search of economic opportunity. Israel "takes its obligations as a signatory to the Refugee Convention very seriously, given the history of the Jewish people and the history of many people who ended up coming to Israel," said Mark Hetfield, an official at the Hebrew Im- migrant Aid Society who in a week will become its interim president and CEO."But at the same time, they need to send a signal to people coming for economic reasons that they can't sneak into the country under the guise of being asy- lum seekers." In February, Israeli Interior PAGE 19 Minister Eli Yishai announced plans to begin deporting South Sudanese who would not accept government finan- cial incentives to leave the country voluntarily. Hetfield, who is now senior vice president at HIAS for policy and programs, helped oversee a program in Israel that taught job skills to South Sudanese who planned on returning home, but the pro- gramwas suspendedwhen the threat of deportation loomed. Hetfield says the group would like the Israeli govern ment to grant South Sudanese a "temporary protected sta- tus" that would prevent then from being deported to their unstable homeland. Mulla does not think that the Israeli refugee issue will have an impact on th broader strategic allianc between South Sudan an Israel. However, he said he has raised the issue of the possible deportations with th South Sudanese ambassado in Washington, and hopes tha something can be done to halt the process. "If Israel decides to deport them, of course it's going to be devastating," Mulla said. Advocates for the Africans are appealing to Israel's Su- preme Court in an attempt to stall or halt the deportations. Shipley From page 4A like for this tiny land taking up less that one percent of the land of the Middle East to absorb millions of displaced Jews from all over the world? And believe me--these new immigrants when filling out their professions do not write Baseball "philanthropist." Yet, they are absorbed. And the nation somehow contin- ues to flourish. How do we tell the truth to the world? Most of the organizations trying to get the real story out and expose the lying and distortion symbolized by the BBC and literally hundreds of web sites are for the most part, preaching to the choir. It will take a grass roots, bottom up movement to try and counter this growing tide of anti-Israel rhetoric and actions. The main stream Christian denominations who desire to boycott the J ew- ish State camouflage their historical Anti-Semitism in grand sounding blather about the terrible crimes against the Arab people. Well, just how many suicide bombers did Israel send onto Arab bus- ses? Don't kid yourself--the organized anti-Israel cam- paign is a campaign against all Jews. We need a long range, effective campaign to coun- ter-act this travesty. Yes, most of the Evangelicals are our "friends." But they are heavy on biblical history and short on present day actions. Bless their tourism and the dollars they leave behind in Israel--but it is our job, as Jewish parents and teachers and influ- encers to turn this tide of money being spent against us. Ambassador Oren asks: "What happened to Israel's reputation?" It has been torn apart by our enemies while we stood here and watched. Never Again! From page 5A ers had a special place in the hearts of all minorities, who rooted for Jackie Robinson with extra ardor. My Dad took my brother and me to two games at Ebbets Field, where I was a bit overwhelmed by the noise and passion of the crowd, especially at a game against the Dodgers' bitter rival, the Giants. Mostly, though, we would listen to Dodger games regularly via a Baltimore radio station. It gave the three of us a common bond, an easy topic of daily conversation. Only years later did we learn, to our amaze- ment, that Nat Albright, the gifted Dodgers announcer, was not actually broadcasting live from Ebbets Field, but was re-creating the games, reading off a ticker tape in Washington. He was a master of drama, though, and only after we found out about the arrangement did we realize that Albright would have fun playing clairvoyant at times, as in "Junior Gilliam is up with a man on second, and he's overdue--hasn't had an RBI in a week. And there's a line drive down the right field line, could be extra bases..." The magical year for the Dodgers finally came in 1955 when they beat the Yankees in a seven-game World Se- ries, and the joy that began in Brooklyn that day spread all the way to our apartment in Annapolis, Md. Even my Mom, who knew little about baseball, was talking about Sandy Amoros' game-saving catch. But a couple of years later I was crushed when the Dodgers left Brooklyn for the riches of sunny California, and while I still loved those guys on the team, it became incredibly hard to follow them day to day, with their night games starting at 11 p.m. Eastern time, no box scores in the next day's paper, and no more Nat Albright broadcasts. Instead, huddled over the radio, constantly adjusting the dial to pick up the faint and fickle airwaves in the night, we would struggle and strain to follow each pitch as the broadcast faded in and out, one moment tantaliz- ingly clear, the next just noisy static. Loyalties Tested My dad remained faithful to his Dodgers, and I can still picture him, late at night, fiddling with the tuning knob of our radio in the kitchen to hear the games. But as a youngster I didn't have the patience, turning to the Orioles for solace and steady company. Every game was broadcast live, many of the away games were televised, and starting in 1960, the young team, transplanted from St. Louis in 1954, was playing solid baseball. Four rookie pitchers aged 22 and 21 and known as the Kiddie Corps--Chuck Estrada, Milt Pappas, Jack Fisher and Jerry Walker--helped keep the O's in contention into September that year and gave the team its first winning record. From then on I was a believer, keep- ing score at home as I listened or watched most games, even as I rooted for the Dodgers over in the National League. But my true loyalties were tested as the 1966 sea- son culminated in a World Series showdown between the Dodgers--of L.A., not Brooklyn, of course--and the Orioles. I hadn't had to choose between my two favorite teams until then, but it was no contest. I found myself clearly rooting for the O's, pitting father and son in a friendly rivalry that came to a head when a congregant offered my dad tickets to two Series games in Baltimore: one Lower Reserved seat for Game 4, and one for Game 5, should it be necessary. (Whoeverwins four games in the best-of-seven game series is the world champ.) The O's were the decided underdogs, not only for lack of experience--they were playing in their first World Series--but because the Dodgers had the premier pitcher in the game in Kou- fax, at the peak of his career. A number of experts picked the Dodgers, who had won two of the last three World Series, to take this one in four straight. But with the Orioles win- ning the first two series games in Los Angeles, in- cluding one against the usu- ally unhittable Koufax, I was feeling upbeat about the O's chances. Andwhen Baltimore won Game 3 at home, 1-0, on a Paul Blair home run and Wally Bunker shutout, I was thinking sweep. So I told my Dad he should go to Game 4, on Sunday afternoon, because there wasn't going to be a Game 5, scheduled for Monday. But he really wanted to see Koufax pitch in person, and said he would hold out for the fifth game, with Koufax scheduled to start, and urged me to go to Game 4. (By this time my brother was married, living out of town, and focused more on his graduate school studies than baseball.) I accepted, feeling excited but a bit guilty, and still re- member the electricity in the sell-out crowd at Memo- rial Stadium, on that warm, sunny afternoon in early October. The game was an- other intense pitcher's duel, this time between Game 1 starters Don Drysdale and O's lefty Dave McNally. Each pitcher gave up only four hits, the difference in the game being Frank Robinson's fourth-inning homer, which provided the only run of the game. McNally dispatched the Dodgers in an hour and 45 minutes --about half the time of many Series games today--and the O's won, again, 1-0, to sweep the Series in four games. After centerfielder Paul Blair squeezed a fly ball for the last out, the crowd cheered on and refused to leave. Strangers hugged and congratulated each other. Vendors gave away their hot dogs, beers, sodas and ice cream bars to grateful fans. The sun shone brightly on Memorial Stadium. The Orioles had officially ar- rived. They had won their first championship, and would go on to play in three more World Series over the next seven years. It was a perfect moment--except I was feeling badly for my Dad, whose team had just suffered a heart-breaking loss and who'd given up his chance to see the Series in person. I tried calling him before taking a bus back to college that afternoon, but this was long before cell phones, and the few public pay phones at the Stadium had long lines of excited fans waiting to spread the news. When we did get a chance to catch up later that day, my Dad was his usual even- tempered self, noting that his Dodgers "forgot how to hit" and offering a subdued "wait 'til next year." Family Pride As it turned out, though, it was the end of an era for the Dodgers. After the Series, Sandy Koufax announced his retirement, at the age of 30 and peak of his career, because of chronic arthritis in his pitching elbow. Team captain Maury Wills and batting champ Tommy Da- vis would be traded in the off-season, and the Dodgers would finish in eighth place the next season. And this was the beginning of the Orioles' high-level play. They would go on to compete in three of the next seven World Series, and win 90 games or more in all but three of the next 20 seasons. Life, like baseball, is un- predictable, with its high and low points, its traditions and its small memories that can last a lifetime. Even now, long after my dad's death, just the sight of the Dodgers' uniforms grips me with nostalgia and a wealth of warm childhood feelings. The Dodgers are still my favorite National League team, mostly in his honor. But I think of the Orioles as one thinks of relatives. They may disappoint you, even break your heart, but they're always yours. I take pleasure in knowing my children, long gone from Baltimore, still root for the O's (though my two ball-play- ing grandsons have somehow become Yankee fans). And I love that my brother, after a decades-long hiatus from being an active (translate: suffering) fan of the game, now follows his home team Washington Nationals with real fervor, staying up late to watch games, attending more than a few, and rattlin off statistics and anecdote: about the team's young play ers. It gives us even more t share and discuss, not onl reminiscing about the classi Dodger team of our childhoo, but the young upstart team we root for today. I can't help thinking ot dad would be proud. E-mail: Gary@jewish