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HERITAGE FLORIDA JEWISH NEWS, JUNE 15, 2012 PAGE 11A By Ben Sales (JTA)'---Was Israeli Defense Minister Ehud Barak's recent suggestion that Israel take "unilateral action" to solve the Israeli-Palestinian conflict a hi,tat apolicy under discussion or just an off-the-cuff remark? And how will the response of others--such as Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu--shape the country's fate in the coming months? "We must aim to discuss all of the core issues, putting an end to the conflict, and an end to mutual claims." Barak said at the end of a May 30 speech at the Institute for National Security Studies in Tel Aviv. "If this appears to be impossible. we need to think of an interim agreement, and even unilateral actions." Netanyahu's unprecedented 94omember governing coali- tion, he added, gives Israel an "opportunity to advance the peace process." But Netanyahu's past state- ments make such unilateral actions--especiallywithdrawal from portions of the West Bank Uri Lenz/FLASH90/JTA Israeli Defense Minister Ehud Barak and settlement dismantle- ment seem unlikely.. The Israeli leader consistently has called for direct negotiations without preconditions and he repeated that during his own speech at the institute on the day before Barak's talk. Lastyear Netanyahu called the Patestin- ianAuthority's unilateral effort to obtain United Nations state- hood recognition "an attempt to avoid negotiation~ that are based on mutual compromise." President Obama also strongly opposed the Palestin- ian U.N. statehood bid, and repeatedly has urged Israel and the Palestinian Authority to restart direct negotiations. For his part, as prime min- ster from 1999 to 2001. Barak engaged in both direct negotia- tions and unilateral action. In latespring2000, heunilaterally withdrew Israeli troops from southern Lebanon. ending Israel's 18-year occupation there--albeit one very differ- ent from its occupation of the West Bank. At a high-profile Camp David summit in July of that same " year, Barak joined President Bill Clinton and Palestinian Authority President Yasser Arafat in afailed effort to cre- ate an "end-of-conflict" agree- ment. Barak offered what was then the most far-r~ching Israeli peace proposal to date. It reportedly included offering the Palestinians nearly the entire West Bank and Arab neighbor- hoods of East Jerusalem. Those talks ended unsuccessfully and by late September the second intifada had begun. At the time. Shaul Mo- f~--now head of the centrist Kadima Party, which recently joined Netanyahu's coali- tion-was the Israel Defense Forces chief of staff. Today, Mofaz calls for Israel to rec- ognize a Palestinian state with temporary borders on about 60 percent of the West Bank. with negotiations overfinal borders and other outstanding issues to follow. Soon after the second inti- fada started, near the end of his term as prime minister. Barak shifted from favoring direct Israeli-Palestinian ne- gotiations to calls for unilateral withdrawal. Barak is not alone in push- ing unilateral moves since that time. Five years after the Camp David talks broke down, Prime Minister Ariel Sharon executed the largest unilateral Israeli settlement withdrawal ever. removing all of his country's settlements in the Gaza Strip and withdrawing military forces from the coastal area. Aaron David Miller. a former Middle East policy adviser to Republican and Democratic secretaries of state who is now a public policy fellow at the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars, said that neither bilateral negotiations nor unilateral steps would suc- ceed at the moment. In the case of the former, the gaps between the Israelis and Palestinians on core issues are too large, he told JTA. When it comes to Israel's drawing or imposing a border. he said "You also have a major security problem given the increasing range, lethality and precision of llamas high trajec- tory weapons." David Makovsky, a distin- guished fellow at the Wash- ington Institute for Near East Policy, said unilateral moves might work. "Ifbilateralism is not revived. the unilateral imperative, which seemed discredited after the Lebanon War. becomes a live policy option," Makovsky said, referring to Israel's 2006 war against Hezbollah. In Israel. an organization called Blue White Future is advocating another type of unilateral move: urging the- country to offer incentives to settlers to leave their homes in advance of a final agreement. It also calls for a complete halt to settlement construction east of the West Bank security fence. The group was created in 2010 by some well-known for- mer top security and political figures, including Ami Ayalon, a past Israeli Shin Bet security head. In aNewYorkTimes Op-Ed in late April, the group's founders wrote, "Israel can and must take constructive steps to advance the reality of two states based on the 1967 borders, with land swaps regardless of whether Palestinian leaders have agreed to accept it." So ultimately, what did Barak's call representand how will it resonate with the Israeli public? That remains unclear. Makovsky said that how political leaders respond could weigh heavily on their fates. "When you have 94 seats and you cannot produce, the Israeli public will not be as forgiving," he said. "For Netanyahu and Mofaz. this government is an opportunity and a challenge." Israelis ride Sabbath buses as part of public campaign JERUSALEM (JTA) Some 200 Israelis rode buses for free as part of a Meretz Party drive to show that public transporta- tion is needed and wanted on the Jewish Sabbath. The free buses on Saturday ran from Kfar Saba through Ra'anana and to the beach in Herzliya, according to reports. The issue of offering public transportation on Shabbat came to the fore in February when the Tel Aviv City Council voted 13-7 to approve a resolu- tion allowing public transpor- tation to run on Saturdays. But asked to approve the new schedule, Israel's Trans- portation Ministry said in a statement that "There is a decades-oldstatus quo regard- ing operation of public trans- portation on Shabbat, and the Transportation Ministry does not intend to violate it." The municipal resolution provides for the creation of an independent transportation service if the Transportation Ministry does not approve the request. Members of the council's Meretz Party, who proposed the February motion in the TelAviv Municipal Council, appealed to Israel's Supreme Court in April. In general, public transpor- tation does not operate on the Sabbath in Israel, except in Haifa and Eilat on a limited basis. It is part of the "status quo," a doctrine that regulates the public relationship between the religious and secular posi- tions in Israel. Technion sues Microsoft over intellectual property JERUSALEM (JTA)The Technion-Israel Institute of Technology has filed a $6.5 million lawsuit against the Microsoft Corp. The lawsuit, filed last week in the Central District Court in Petach Tikvah, alleges that Microsoft used intellectual property, developed by a Tech- nion professor, the business daily Globes reported. The case centers on Micm- soft's $150 million acquisition of YaData, which the Technion says employed Rann Smorodin- sky, a full-time tenured profes- sor in the School of Industrial Engineering, even though the school does not allow its staff to work for other employers without written approval. In its complaint, the Tech- nion said it warned Microsoft before its purchase of YaData that the institute's rights had been violated, but Microsoft ignored the warnings, Globes reported. Smorodinsky's in= volvement in the development of Microsoft's online marketing software allegedly exceeded the permission he was granted by the Technion. Tel Aviv celebrates gay pride (JTA)--Tel Aviv launched its gay pride festivities. Rainbow flags and balloons festooned the city's streets last Friday, and an array of celebri- ties and politicians addressed the crowd of thousands. Among the speakers were Tel AvivMayor IRon Huldaiand U.S. Ambassador Daniel Shapiro. Wearingashirt featuringa rain- bow flag, the symbol of the gay community, Shapiro told Ynet that the United States supports the rights of the LGBT com- munity in Israel andworldwide. A parade culminated with a beach party. Hungarians don 'Jude' stars to protest anti-Semitic at- tacks AMSTERDAM (JTA)--Doz- ens of Hungarians wearing paperyellow starswith theword "Jude" protested recent anti- Semitic and racist incidents in Hungary. On June 7, four days after an attack on a Jewish cemetery near Budapest, some 120 Hungarians lined up in protest on the bank of the Danube in downtown Budapest wearing the German word for "Jew." During the Nazi era, Jews were forced to wear the yellow- colored stars as a means of identification. The Budapest demonstra- tion was reacting to the des- ecration of the Szekesfehervar cemetery, southwest of the capital, as well as an attack on Jozsef Schweitzer, a former chief rabbi in Hungary. French President Hollande wants deeper ties with Israel (JTA) Francois Hollande, the new French president, said he wanted to deepen ties with Israel. "The chief of state expressed his desire that France and Israel work to deepen our bilateral relations and develop existing French-Israel ties in all areas," said a statement from the Elysee, the presidential office, issued June 6 after Hollande met with Yaakov Amidror, the national security adviser to Is- raeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. Vandals target Jewish-Arab coexistence village Neve Shalom (JTA) Vandals damaged property and defaced Neve Shalom, a village near Jerusa- lem that has served for decades as a model for Jewish-Arab coexistence. Graffiti saying "Death to Arabs" and "Revenge for Gi- lad Farm" and "Revenge for Ulpana" was discovered last Friday morning on buildings in Neve Shalom, in the hills outside Jerusalem, and tires were slashed. Gilad Farm and Ulpana are illegal West Bank settlement outposts slated by the govern- ment to be dismantled. Neve Shalomwas established in the 1970s to show that Jews andArabs could coexistandlive integrated lives. Fifty families live there. Police said they were inves- tigating. Israel's Prosor elected U.N. General Assembly VP JERUSALEM (JTA)--Israel's ambassador to the United Na- tions, Ron Prosor, was elected as one of the vice presidents of the 67th United Nations General Assembly. Prosor was elected last Fri- day as one of 20 vice presidents for the upcoming session, which begins Sept. 18. OnlyAbba Eban in 1952 and Danny Gillerman in 2005 have been'so honored, according to reports. SerbianForeignMinisterVuk Jeremic will serve as president of the session, which is likely to see another unilateral bid for statehood by the Palestinians, as well as deal with the unrest in Syria and Iran's suspected nuclear weapons program. Tunisia may designate two parliament seats for Jews TUNIS, Tunisia (JTA)--Two members of the new Tunisian parliament scheduled to be elected next spring may be from the country's small Jewish minority. Members of the National Constituent Assembly's Corn- o rr/ittee on Legislative and Ex- ecutive Power and the National Council on Tunisia's Jewish Citizens favor a proposal to designate two parl!ament seats to Jewish members, according to Tunisian news site AI Jarida. "Tunisian Jews are Tunisian citizens like any others, and deserve a decent representation [in the parliament]," Mehrezia Labidi, aConstituentAssembly member from the governing Ennahda Islamist Party and the vice-chair of the National Council on Tunisia's Jewish Citizens, told th~ Al Jarida news site. However, Rogec Bismuth, presidentofthe Tunisian Jewish community, did not welcome the news. "This is just one of many of their stupid ideas. Those members won't be able to do anything significant," he told JTA. Speaking to the A1 Jarida news site, Rabbi Betto Hattab of the Le Grande Synagogue, and the director o'the Pinson Jewish School, w~s more dip- lomatic than Bisnuth. '~ffter the revolution, ma~y members of the Jewish conmunity left Tunisia fearing he security situation. This proposal would restore a positive i-nage of the country in the international media for both Jews and tour- ists," Hattab said. Tunisia elected an interim Constituent Assembly in Oc- tober 2011 to drafta new constitution and appoint an interim government after large demonstrations in the Yafit Butwiffs Facebook page The Butwin family of Tempe, Ariz., shown in a photo from May 2009, is believed to have been killed in a murder-suicide. country~led to the departure of former Tunisian autocrat Zine EI-Abddine Ben Ali in January 2011. The country's Jewish com- munity, which nun~bered more than 100,000 before indepen- dence in 1956, now stands at fewer than 2,000, mostly concentrated on the southern island of Djerba. Muhammad All attends grandson's bar mitzvah (JTA)--The grandson of legendary boxer Muhammad Ali became a bar mitzvah at a Philadelphia synagogue. Jacob Wertheimer, the son of Khaliah Ali-Wertheimer and SpencerWertheimer, was called to the Torah on April 28 at the historic Congregation Rodeph Shalom in front of 150 people including'the boxer, the Sweet Science boxing newswebsite re- ported last week in an article by Ali biographer Thomas Hauser. Ali's daughter, who was raised Muslim, told the website that "No one put any pressure on Jacob to believe one way or another. He chose this on his own because he felt a kin- ship with Judaism and Jewisti culture," and that it "meant a lot to Jacob" that Ali was there. The bar mitzvah theme was diversity and inclusiveness. All was raised a Baptist and converted to Islam in the 1960s. Phoenix-area Jews shocked, grieving over apparent murder-suicide (JTA)--The Phoenix-area Jewish community is grieving after hearing of the suspected murder-suicide of a local Jew- ish family that was active in Jewish life. Evidence suggests that James Butwin, a resident of the Phoenixsuburb of Tempe, Ariz., burned himself and his family to death in the family's SUV on June 2--though according to The Associated Press, police have not confirmed Butwin as a suspect. Police found a charred SUV in the desert 35 miles south of Phoenix still smoking from the fire but still have not confirmed the bodies as those of the Butwins. They~ say, however, that the family's SUV matches the burned one. Butwin, 47, was a board member of Temple Emanuel, a Reform congregation in Tempe, and his children--Malissa, 16; Daniel, 14; and Matthew, 7 had attended the local JCC summer camp. Butwin's wife, Yafit, 40, also was an active community member. Butwin and his wife were going through divorce proceed- ings butstilllivedtogetherwith their children. The AP reported that James Butwin recently sent his busi- ness partner detailed instruc- tions on how to run the business without him. AP also reported that the James and Yafit Butwin were fighting in court over their assets, which caused tension. Neighbors of the Butwins also said that James had a brain tumor, ac- cording to reports. o