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June 7, 2013

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PAGE 4A H'ERITAGE FLORIDA JEWISH NEWS, JUNE 7, 2013 By Andrew Silow-Carroll New Jersey Jewish News My second-favorite joke about Jewish news- papers takes place in New York in the 1930s. Two Jews are sitting on a bench; Leo is reading the Yiddish paper, Morris is reading the Nazi tabloid Der Sturmer. Leo glares at his friend, asking, "How can you read that Nazi rag?" Unabashed, Morris asks, "What's your Jewish newspaper reporting? In America, there is-a depression going on and the Jews are assimilating. In Palestine, the Arabs are killing Jews. In Germany, they've taken away all our rights. You read it and just get more and more depressed. "You know what the Nazi newspaper tells me? We own all the banks, we control all the governments...." (Our) pride and (their) prejudice less depressing over the years. Sure, Israel is still in a bad neighborhood and assimilation is a problem. But papers like ours are just as likely t report on Israel's rich culture and boom- ing economy, the innovation and creativity at synagogues and Jewish organizations, and achievements by Jews in the arts, business, politics and philanthropy. If anything, some are starting to worry that the nev4s is too good. Call it the Kayna- hara Conundrum: By boasting about Jewish achievement, aren't we inviting trouble? That's Jeffrey Goldberg's contention. The influential Bloomberg News columnist wrote a piece two weeks ago imploring Jewish news- papers to stop making lists of the year's most accomplished Jews. (Coincidentally, I also wrote alout Jewish list-making last week, but made a different point. Unfortunately for me, gets named to such lists, so his opinions count for a lot more....) Goldberg worries that such lists only reinforce anti-Semitic stereotypes of Jewish control. "Why are these publications aping a prac- tice of non-Jews--singling out Jews for their special prominence in society?" asks Goldberg. "The phenomenon Of disproportionate Jewish representation in many'high-profile fields (in- cluding, but not limited to, musical comedy, gastroenterology, the violin, physics, hedge funds, column-writing, and, in an earlier pe- riod, professional basketball), combined with ancient and deeply embedded anti-Semitic ideas that are still prevalent in some parts of the world, suggests that ttley should resist the urge to quantify 'Jewish power.'" Goldberg wasn't the only columnist sweat- ing the Kaynahara Conundrum. After hearing Joe Biden sing the praises of Jewish achievers at a Jewish Heritage Month event recently. Jonathan Chait of New York magazine won- dered if Biden wasn't inadvertently helping the anti-Semites do their dirty work. In truth, Biden's remarks were a little over the top. "No group has had such an outsized influence per capita" as the Jews, said Biden. "You make up 11 percent of the seats in the United States Congress. You make up one-third of all Nobel laureates .... I think you vastly _ underestimate the impact you've had on he development of this nation." Um thank you? As Biden went on to praise Jews for their support of social justice, Pride on page 18A Happily, the Jewish news has gotten a little Goldberg is the kind of writer who actually Jerusalem seeks new image I Letterfrmlsrael ] Gary Rosenblatt responsible for its current makeul. They are T---0000erat-00ng un-n00ertainty while enjoying luxuries New York Jewish Week Yair Lapid, who went, seemingly overnight, JERUSALEM--On the night we arrived in Israel two weeks ago, my wife and I went for a stroll to see the newly renovated train station complex in the center of town. As we walked through the gates and saw the large, enthusiastic crowds', we realized we were enteringnot only a beautiful addition to the cultural life of the city but a tangible example of the local government's efforts t) keep Jerusalem relevant and appealing to non-Orthodox Israelis and tourists. Indeed, it doesn't take long for a visitor in. this country to sense that tensions between the ultra-Orthodox and the rest of the population is at a critical high point. Even the grand opening of First Station, as the restored train station museum and outdoor mall is known--sure to become a popular cultural, shopping and entertainment space--is a source of religious conflict and deeply emotional and political - power struggle for the future path and identity of the Zionist enterprise. , Nir Barkat, the popular mayor, has sought to stem the haredization of Jerusalem during his first term, determined to keep or attract young secular professionals--an economic and social priority. A variety of new programs fea- turing music, theater and the arts have given the city a contemporary feel of excitement, and the opening of First Station is a major achievement. Since the 19th-century station closed in 1998, its abandoned structure had become an eyesore and nighttime hangout for drug addicts and prostitutes. Now it promises to be an attractive magnet for locals as well as tourists. There had been complaints that some of First Station's open-air stalls featuring arts, crafts and jewelry--there are no permanent stores--as well as food vendors and restaurants would be open on Shabbat. (In the end, the owners will determine the hours, and there is kosher food available.) One of the jewelry craftsmen toid us, unsolicited, that Barkat is doing a good job of making Jerusalem a more livable city. He noted that some of his friends are moving here from Tel Aviv--it used to be the other way around--attracted by more affordable housing and the sense that Jerusalem is no longer just for the Orthodox. While Israel in the international media is all about renewed efforts to jumpstart the peace talks and deep concern about a Syrian civil war that is spinning more deeply out of control, much of the talk among Israelis this summer of discontent is focused on the domestic front. There is close scrutiny of the current govern- ment, and specifically on the two men most from popular journalist and television per- sonality to highly criticized finance minister at a time of'economic austerity. And Naftali Bennett, the new minister of religion whose successful campaign image as a unifier of Orthodox and secular Israelis has given way to a sense that he is being held hostage politi- cally by the most fundamentalist segment of . , his Baylt Yehudl party s constituency. The society's concerns about the wide eco- nomic gap between the haves and have-nots as well as frustration over haredi young men absolved from military service and subsidized for have combined to focus na- tional attention on proposed legislation that would make national service compulsory for .large numbers of haredim, as well as Arabs. This has been attempted before, most re- cently when the left-of-center Kadima party joined the last government. But the attempt to widen the draft failed, and Kadima left the unity coalition. A key phrase of the election campaign early this yearwas"sharing the burden," a seemingly benign reference to having the haredim serve in the army. But with the haredi parties shut out of the coalition, they have been particularly vociferous in their resistance to calls for them to join the army--they insist they are serving society through prayer and Torah study--and for cutbacks in government subsidies for their large families. Diaspora Jewshave seen this anger played out over recent haredi protests against Women of the Wall, the group seeking equal access to the Kotel for their monthly Rosh Chodesh prayer service. But the deeper and more elemental battle about religion here is over rights for women in issues of marriage and divorce, and the call for more liberal conversion standards to allow many of the hundreds of thousands of Russian-speaking citizens to become Jews. These issues aren't going away, but on the night of our visit to First Station, at least, we were caught up in the enthusiasm of the relaxed and happy crowd exploring the new venue, so different from the atmospherics in Jerusalem a decade ago when suicide bombers ruled. What a difference the security fence has made in people's lives. Tomorrow we will read again of stalled peace talks, imminent war in the north and religious wars at home. But this evening is all about a clear sky and soft breeze, upbeat music filling the air, and a chance to mingle with strangers who feel like relatives in the contemporary and holy city of Jerusalem. Gary Rosenblatt is editor and publisher of The New York Jewish Week, from which this article was reprinted by permission. Contact him at THE VIEWS EXPRESSED ON THIS PAGE ARE NOT NECESSARILY THE VIEWS OF HERfTAfGE MANAGEMENT.   CENTRAL FLORIDA'SINDEPENDENTJEWISHVOICE   ISSN 0199=0721 Winner of 41 Press Awards HERITAGE Florida Jewish News (ISN 0199-0721) is published weekly for $37.95 per year to Florida ad- dresses ($46.95 for the rest of the U.S.) by HERITAGE Central Florida Jewish News, Inc., 207 O'Brien Road, Suite 101, Fern Park, FL 32730. Periodicals postage paid at Fern Park and additional mailing offices. POSTMASTER: Send address changes and other correspondence to: HERITAGE, P.O. Box 300742, Fern Park, FL 32730. MAILING ADDRESS PHONE NUMBER P.O. Box 300742 (407) 834-8787 Fern Park, FL 32730 FAX (407) 831-0507 email: I Editor/Publisher Jeffrey Gaeser Editor EmeritUs Associate Editor Assistant Editor Gene Starn Mike Etzkin Kim Fischer Society Editor Bookkeeping Gloria Yousha Paulette Alfonso Account Executives Barbara do Carmo Marci Gaeser Contributing Columnists Jim Shipley Ira Sharkansky Tim Boxer David Bomstein Terri Fine Ed Ziegler Production Department David Lehman David Gaudio Elaine Schooping Gil Dombrosky Caroline Pope I By Ira Sharkansky Things have never been better for many of us. Europeans are quarreling rather than kill- ing one another. Jews are capable of reaching the top-of virtually all professions, with decent housing and no worry about gentlemen's agreements or restrictive covenants, and safe from plunder and pogroms. Life expectancy and other good stuff are at historic heights in much of the world. No longer do e tell our children and grand- children to clean their plates because Chinese or Indian children are starving There are problems. South Koreans--at levels of development inconceivable a generation ago--worry about their impoverished and excessively armed cousins over the border. The Israeli equivalents arethe armaments in the hands of Lebanese and Iranians sworn to destroy us. Individual Syrians and Iraqis, along with Afghans and Pakistanis lead the list of people currently suffering from violence directed against civilians. Africa remains the darkest continent, al- though there has not been a recent warning of mass starvation, and the AIDS epidemic may be retreating under the onslaught of new and lower cost drugs. Or both starvation and AIDS have slipped out of the headlines. One can find reasons to be concerned about ethnic minorities in Myanmar and the Ama- zon, and perhaps a few other places. We should worry about North Korea, Syria,, an uptick in tensions involving the U.S. and Western Europe with Russia, and the prospects of Chinese wealth turned into military power. What to do is another matter. Don't make things worse should be the primary guidance. Look on the bright side also helps. With all the dangers of venturing into what is not politically correct, we can welcome the news about several clusters of Muslim fanat- ics doing battle against one another in Syria. Anyone thinking that they have identified the good guys, and preparing to help them, should take a breath and look again. In the considerable attention paid to Syria, there is no clear sign of any militias whose leadership can be relied upon to turn that country, or part of it, into a place that would be welcomed for its decency and enlightenment. I'll admit to a lack of expertise, but remain more impressed by the chaos than any speck of light over our northern border. The latest confusion, welcome to my ears, is news of two Iranian allies (i.e., Hezbollah and Hamas) cursing and fighting one another. Israel and South Korea bear comparison for their capacity to reach admirable levels of development and safety despite threats of destruction by neighbors. My first visits to Korea, in the late 1970s and early 1980s, featured encounte's with poverty and political repression. I had to fend off frequent proposals from prostitutes of both genders. At a social gathering that included representatives from the peaks of the Korean political establishment and U.S. functionar- ies, I was warned to avoid any discussion of "politics." My most recent visit was to-a place with Western European levels of order and cleanli- ness, no encounters with prostitutes, and no one telling me not to talk about this or that. I found the restrooms in Seouls subway sta- tions as clean as in Swiss hotels. Long ago I learned that U.S. subway stations either had no restrooms, or they were chained and locked against the prospect of violence. Currently I'm writing this on a Samsung screen, and if I polish the prose while away from home it will be done on my Samsung cell phone. South Korea is virtually tied with Israel on the economic indicator of GDP per capita, With both of them in the top 30 among 180- 200 countries listed by the World Bank, the International Monetary Fund, and the CIA, Both are considerably more well to do than - any country in Eastern Europe plus Greece and Portugal, and on some lists above Spain, Italy, and New Zealand.. Israel's modern history began with migrants fleeing pogroms and the Holocaust in Europe, unrest elsewhere in the Middle East, then violence comparable to the Korean war of 1950-53, and threats like those against South Korean from North Korea. Both countries have had help, both have made deals with their adversaries and have engaged in occasional violence. There has been consider- able South Korean food and financial assistance to the North, andj oint industrial ventures, along with some battles and casualties. South Korea finds itself allied with Japan against the potential madness of North Korea. Israel's close relationship with Germany fits in the same category of historic change. Israel has negotiated with terrorists while denying it, and has chosen targets in order to foil those Palestinian groups viewed as most dangerous, while-protecting those inclined to co-existence. Neither South Korea nor Israel can relax their guards. Both are among world leaders in the proportion of resources devoted to defense. Both nurture good relations with countries that assist them in providing economic and po- litical pressures against their adversaries, and promise more deadly stuff if the need arises. Pre-emption is somewhere on the agenda. There are Israelis who prefer attacks against the sources of evil as opposed to continued un- certainty. So far the doubters-in both military and political sectors-have held the balance of power. The complications of Iran and its friends in Syria are providing additional reasons for restraint, along with the hope that saner ele- ments will come to power in Iran's election. South Korea faces the more immediate l prospect of catastrophe, given the proven nuclear capacity of North Korea. However, the combined threats of retaliation by the South Koreans themselves along with Japan and the United States may keep the North Koreans busy with domestic miseries. Israel's losses and threats from low level violence have been greater than those of South Korea, but Israel's own demonstrated capacity to wreck havoc in Lebanon and Palestine have minimized the damage to itself. There are daily threats of individual and small group violence, but they are within the capacity of the police and security services, along with heavy investments in various kinds of intelligence. It ain't ideal, it's far from Paradise, there are no guarantees about the near or distant future, but it's what exists for us and the Koreans, and things have been a lot worse for both of us. Ira Sharkansky is professor emeritus, Department of Political Science, Hebrew University of Jerusalem. He may be reached at