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June 6, 2014

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HERITAGE FLORIDA JEWISH NEWS, JUNE 6, 2014 When goose-stepping and Israel-bashing go together By Moshe Phillips and Benyamin Korn The thin line dividing criticism of Israel from anti- Semitism just got a little thinner. BBC journalist Chris Rog- ers this week was revealed to have amused himself by giving the Nazi salute and strutting about in a Hitler- style goose-step while film- ing a documentary--on, of all things, anti-Semitic soccer fans in eastern Eu- rope. The British Daily Mail newspaper first reported on PAGE 5A Rogers' vile actions on their website on May 19. Rogers' "defense" was that his behavior was "intended as a joke." Humor can be very revealing. Is it just a coincidence that when he is not saluting Hitler, Rogers keeps busy by bashing Israel? In 2007, he and fellow-British journalist Deborah Turness produced a short documentary called "Too Young to Die: Children of the Frontline." Its theme was that Israel is mistreating Palestinian Arab children by arresting them when they commit terrorist acts. Evidently Rogers and Turness believe that if you are below a certain age, you have the right to murder and maim with impunity. Well, murder and maim Israelis, at least. If challenged, Rogers and Turness would no doubt point to the fact that an Israeli spokesperson appeared in "Too Young to Die" as proof that the film was evenhanded. In fact, the Israeli appeared on screen for exactly 14 seconds. Nobody should be surprised to learn that Rogers and Tur- ness were given an award by Amnesty International for "Too Young to Die." Amnesty has a long and well-docu- mented record of hostility to Israel. No wonder Amnesty's leaders are so fond of Rogers and Turness. Birds of a feather do flock together. What makes all of this especially troubling is that Turness is now in a position to do serious harm to Israel's good name: last year, Tur- ness was named president of NBCNews. Her"credentials" for the job included years of anti-lsrael programming as the news director for British Independent Television's ITV News. Among other notable broadcasts was ITV's 2002 screening of the documentary "Palestine is Still the Issue," by veteran Israel-basher John Pilger. It portrayed Israel as an evil terrorist state that bru- tally persecutes Palestinians. Pilger is so extreme thathe has claimed the 9/11 attacks were a response to America suppos- edly "rejecting outright the hope of a Palestinian state." Pilger, .incidentally, has compared Israel's anti-terror policies to "Nazi Germany's invasion of Poland," and likened Israeli and American leaders toAdolfHitler. Perhaps Turness should introduce him to her good friend, the goose- stepping Chris Rogers. Not all critics of Israel are anti-Semites. But some are. Some move all too easily and comfortably from calling Israelis "Nazis" to "jokingly" making Nazi salutes. And when they manage to secure influential positions in the ma- jor news media--watch out. The authors are members of the Board of the Religious Zionists of America. Poofl Magical settlements stopped 'peace process' By Morton Klein When Mahmoud Abbas' Fatah/Palestinian Authority (PA) signed a reconciliation agreement with Hamas, a recognized terrorist group that calls in its Charter for the destruction of Israel and the murder of Jews, the State Department's spokes- woman, Jen Psaki, observed, "It's hard to see how Israel can be expected to negoti- ate with a government that does not believe in its right to exist." Despite the obvious truth of this statement, Secre- tary of State John Kerry blamed Israel. As he told the Congress, "700 settle- ment units were announced in Jerusalem. And poof! That was sort of the mo- ment." Again the claim is that "magical" settlements can "magically" destroy a major peace negotiation. Somehow, the PA promot- ing hatred and violence, not arresting terrorists, allying By Andrew Silow-Carroll During the wedding scene in Fiddler on the Roof, Perchik, the student revo- lutionary, breaks with tra- dition by crossing from the men's side to the women's side to dance with Tevye's daughter Hodel. On stage it plays like a breakthrough; even the rabbi joins in the mixed dancing. So each time I see the film, why do I want to yell, "Don't do it, Perchik!" I should explain. I am not an Orthodox Jew. I am a committed egalitarian. I belong-to a synagogue where men and women have the same opportunities on the bima, in the pews, and in the study hall. I am com- mitted to and have even engaged in--gasp--mixed dancing. I am indebted to the thousands of Perchiks and Hodels who tore down the mehitza. So who am I to criticize Perchik? I suppose I have absorbed some of the criti- cism of Fiddler as well as some of the critiques of American Jewry--namely, that in their eagerness to assimilate, Jews caused an irreparable rupture with their own traditions. The rupture begins, symboli- cally, with Perchik crossing that once uncrossable line. The next thing you know, "kosher-style" dells in Hal- itself with Hamas, refusing to accept Israel as a Jewish state are not the destroyers of peace. It is the announce- ment of the construction of Jewish homes within the boundaries of settlements that existed when Oslo be- gan-specifically, in Gi!o, a southern Jerusalem neigh- borhood of 40,000, which would remain part of Israel under any conceivable peace agreement. Apparently, an alleged Palestinian desire for peace and statehood alongside Is- rael magically evaporated-- poof!--at that moment. Yet, if Palestinians' Urgent objective was to end settle- ments, they could do no bet- ter than rapidly negotiating with Israel the establishment of a Palestinian state from which they could exclude Jews. But this is precisely what they won't do, because the price is acceptance of the Jewish state of Israel and an end of claims and conflict with it. landale are serving pastrami with cheese. Fiddler is as much a portrait of the era in which it was produced as of the time period it depicts. In the 1960s, the Reform and Conservative movements were well on their way to egalitarianism, and most of the religious rituals and folkways in the musical were already seen as quaint and old world. Fiddler was meant to comfort its Jewish audiences for the choices they made, not rebukethem for the customs they left behind. Still, I find myself feeling protective of fervently Or- thodox Jews in pop culture. Believe me, it hasn't been easy lately. An awful lot of articles repor[ haredim up to no good, from politi- cal and religious coercion in Israel; to their leaders' underwhelming and some- times obstructive response to charges of sex abuse, to the reluctance of some ha- sidic movements to abandon the dangerous practice of metzitza b'peh. But I also know that the haredim are a diverse com- munity with a deep sense of dignity and integrity, and that they deserve better than the treatment they get from the media that depict them as exotics, eccentrics, or anachronisms. I wasn't prepared for the Thus, for virtually all of the past five and a half years, Mahmoud Abbas' Pal- estinian Authority (PA) has refused to even participate in negotiations with Israel, When, in 2009, Israel froze Jewish construction in Judea and Samaria for 10 months--something never agreed to by Israel in the Oslo agreements--the PA refused talks until almost the end of the 10-month period. It now demands that Israel free convicted, blood- soaked terrorists--again, something not required of Israel in any past agree- ment and an anti-peace demand in itself--efore agreeing merely to talk to the Israelis. The PA has neither moder- ated one iota of its refusal to accept Israel as a Jewish state (Mahmoud Abbas" "I do not accept a Jewish state, call it what you will") nor its demand for a Jew-free Palestinian state (Abbas: "when a Palestinian state is established, it would have no Israeli presence in it") nor even its partiality for violence (Abbas: "I turned to the Arab States and I said: 'If you want war, and if all of you will fight Israel, we are in favor'"). Only last week, the PA intervened to have six Israelis removed who were participating in a "peace run" to promote Israeli/Palestinian coexis- tence organized by Austra- lian athlete Pat Farmer. Abbas' PA has not fulfilled its commitments under the Oslo agreements to arrest terrorists, outlaw terrorist groups and end the incite- ment to hatred and murder in the PA-controlled media, mosques, schools, and youth camps that helps fuel the conflict. Thus, the naming of streets and1 schools in honor of Jew-ki]ing terror- ists, publicizing false claims that Israel intends to destroy Jerusalem's A1-Aqsa mosque, PA clerics reviling Jews as destroyers of humanity, Crossing the line odd haredi subplot in John Turturro's current film, Fading Gigolo. Turturro plays a kindly florist who, at the urging of an elderly bookstore owner played by Woody Allen, allows himself to be turned out as a male prostitute. The incredibly implausible plot is played for whimsy, although, like Pretty Woman, another comedy about prostitution, its lighthearted surface masks a foul reality. In the film, Allen's pimp character meets a lonely Satmar widow, Avigal, living in a Brooklyn walkup with her mostly teenage children. Whether Allen senses her loneliness or a business opportunity is not clear. Either way, he convinces her to visit Turturro's apart- ment in Manhattan for some unspecified "therapy." Creepy, right? I'm a fan of Turturro's work and honest- ly don't know what he is get- ting at here. His character gives the widow (played by the striking French actress Vaness Paradis) a gentle massage, nothing more, and comforts her when she begins to weep. Later their professional relationship blossoms into something more, sweetly enough. Perhaps a haredi mother would feel tempted to escape her circumscribed life in Brooklyn for a chaste walk on the mild side, just as a pair of gorgeous society women played by Sharon Stone and Sofia Vergara would feel the need to pay for sex from an unremarkable middle-aged florist. What made me uncomfortable was the filmmaker's assumption that, for a deeply religious woman, liberation is only possible according to the terms of the secular world, and in its most debased form (in some ultra-Orthodox commfinities, seeking men- tal health care comes with a stigma. If the movie was a statement on this, it could only have been by accident). The real lives of haredi Jews are interesting enough without the sort of voyeur- ism that borders on ridicule. Recent Israeli films like Fill the Void and Ushpizin squeezed drama and real un- derstanding out of the lives of haredim without forcing implausible encounters with the "outside" world. Maybe I feel protective of the haredim because I am protective of Jewish obser- vance. Kashrut can seem silly and obsessive, but it's my silly and obsessive. When audience members hope a character crosses a line, it's my line they are crossing. Or maybe I don't like what films like Fading Gigolo say about us. Perchik's and Avigal's rebellions represent a rupture between the old and the new.But it is also teaching Palestinian chil- dren that Israel has no right to exist and to aspire to be- coming terrorists continues unabated. Unsurprisingly, this is reflected in Palestinian society. A September 2013 Pew survey found that 62 percent of Palestinians justify the use of suicide ter- rorism. According to a July 2011 Palestinian Center for Public Opinion (PCP) poll, an astonishing 73 percent of Palestinians agree with the Islamic teaching about the need to murder the Jews cited in Article 7 of the Hamas Charter. The same poll showed that 61 percent of Palestinians reject the idea of a peaceful Palestin- Jan state living alongside Israel as the solution to the Arab/Israeli war, as against only a third (34 percent) who accept it. Hardly a Palestin- ian record of peace-making, moderation, or flexibility. Against all this, the Is- raeli Government acceded in principle to Palestinian statehood and, as men- tioned, even unilaterally froze Jewish construction in Judea and Samaria for 10 months in an effort to have the Palestinians merely re- sume negotiations. In 2000 and again in 2008, the PA refused without counter- offer Israeli proposals of Palestinian statehood on virtually all of the territory it is officially demanding. Last year, Israel freed scores of convicted Palestinian murderers, de- manded by Abbas as a pre- condition of the PA merely turning up to negotiations and yet the PA contimtes to refuse talks, their alibi being "settlements," even though they comprise only 3 percent of all of Judea and Samaria. That reason is totally false and irrational - yet people believe it. It must be magic. Morton A. Klein is the national president of the Zionist Organization of America (ZOA). a rupture among Jews-- namely, the haredim and the rest of us. Both sides are implicated in an estrange- ment that keeps us Prom seeing each other--or keeps us from seeing eachother as anything but oddballs, sinners, and stereotypes. There's a void between us and our haredi brothers and sisters, and both sides fill it with contempt. Andrew Silow-Carroll is editor-in-chief of the New Jersey Jewish News. Between columns you can read his writing at the JustASC blog. Dry Bones