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PAGE 4A HERITAGE FLORIDA JEWISH NEWS, JUNE 29, 2012 ByGary Rosenblatt rush hour "to see my city from a different perspective." Simon Kuh didn't chant a Haftorah for He told congregants and guests that most his bar mitzvah several Shabbat mornings days he rides tothe Reformtemple's day school ago at Temple Emanuel of Beverly Hills. in a carpool with his parents. But "this trip Instead, the 13-year-old reported on his was away to understand how other people live recent ride alone on a city bus, the 720 in Los Angeles," and he noted that "the people Wilshire. across Los Angeles on a Friday at on the bus are the peopl'e who don't count as ! Letter from Israel lllegals in a land of immigrant-s By Ira Sharkansky threatening the migrants with arrest if they do not go quietly. And they may not be probing Illegal immigrants from Africa remain on thoroughlyenoughthereasonsforindividuals Israel's fro,at burner, claiming the rights of refugees. Minister of Interior Eli Yishai has made a I haven't heard from any Israeli that they high profile effort to arrest several hundred would like to live in South Sudan or Eritrea. from South Sudan, and send them on free The question is whether those places are so flights home, each with 1,000 euros to get intolerableastorequireIsraeltoprovideahome started m their old/new country. One hundred for those who have made it across the Sinai? and 23 have already left. Weekly flights have There are quarrels about the facilities said been scheduled for several hundred more who appropriate for holding the newcomers and have signed on for voluntary repatriation, and others taken off the streets. There is mention are in detention. Yishai is promising continued of incarceration for up to three years, bywhich actionwith ~'espect to migrants from Eritrea time it may be possible to send them home. and other countries where sending them back There is no quarrel about providing th~se will be more complicated than in the case of in the facilities with food and medical care. the South Sudanese. How much medical care might be an issue. Work began on a holding facility capable of The migrants come with a high incidence of containing 16,000 illegal arrivals, and provid- serious diseases and other problems. ingthemwithfood, aplacetosleepandmedical What will the migrants do in the facilities care. However. a local officialwho did notwant for up to threeyears? Keeping them busy with them in his back yard found an opportunity work or recreation will lessen the problems of in the regulations that caused a temporary the guards. Can they be given work without delay in the construction, until the national advocatesmakingchargesofslavery?Andwho planning authority approved the project, willguardthem? Mostidealwouldbepersonnel Daily reports are about more newcomers, of the prison syst6m, who are already trained Optimists have said that a dip in the numbers for such work. shows that Israel has sent a message to poten- As yet unresolved is money for this. including tial migrants that they cannotwork and earn anincreaseinthebudgetfortheprisonsystem money in the country. Other's are not so sure. that would allow additional recruitment. If and say that Bedouin guides are resourceful Israel's history of labor relations is any guide, enoughtofindawaytocontinueearningwhat all prison guards will demand an increase migrants are willing to pay. in salary for the change in their collective There are Israelis who have vented their responsibilities, and that is likely to hold up feelings by violence against Africans, their any resolution ofwhowill guardthe migrants. residences and the small businesses that some An alternative is using soldiers, but that raises of them have established. Some Israeli Jews of the problem of appropriate training. Ethiopian backgrounds have also suffered at We are hearing reports thatAfrican-Ameri- the hands of toughs who do not distinguish cans are complaining about Israel's treatment between people with black skin. oftheAfrican immigrants, and thatAmerican All this is regrettable, but surprising only JewsarenervousaboutthemoratityofIsrael's to those who expect Jews to be free of the actions, and the images being broadcast of animosities that appear in other populations Israeli politicians speaking against Africans. among individuals who fear competition or I considered giving this article a headline the encroachment on their turf of people who that would have read: "Cleaning the streets." are different. Israel also has politicians who But I changed my mind in light of what see opportunity in declaiming the presence seems not to be politically correct. of outsiders who threaten what they say the "Hot potato" may be less incendiary, but it country should be. does not encompass the multitude of complex We are hearing from those who oppose of- issues ranging from fidministrative details to ficialactions.AnumberofIsraelPrizewinners, the international problems of finding places a distinguished group of academics, artists to take these people. and other prominent figures, has weighed It is no simple task to balance the desire of in on behalf of the migrants' rights, and the people wanting to improve their lives; some of problems they are likely to face if sent home. whom might have serious claims of being the Other figures support the efforts against targets of persecution that qualifies them un- the migrants, but doubt that efforts currently der international agreements about refugees, underway--Oranything else so far heard--will against the right of Israel like other countries deal effectively with the problem, to control its borders. Africa has an unlimited supply of people As in other knotty issues that surround me wanting help. Israelis who have signed on to in this small place and help to keep me alert their cause claim that authorities are not be- intellectually, I will concentrate on parsing the ing fair. They are asking South Sudanese to problems and efforts to deal with them, rather sign documents saying that they are willing thanweighinginwithmyownsenseofmorality. to return home. The documents are written Ira Sharkansky is pro~fessor emeritus, in English, which many South Sudanese do Department of Political Science, Hebrew not comprehend. Authorities may also be University of Jerusalem. THE VIEWS EXPRESSED ON THIS PAGE ARE NOT NECESSARILY THE VIEWS OF HERITAGE MANAGEMENT. I ~ ~ CENTRAL FLORIDA'S INDEPENDENT JEWISH VOICE ~ ~ ISSN 0199-0721 Winner of 40 Press Awards Editor/Publisher i "~'1~, T~ ~'P'~ ~l~ ~'~~~,Jeffrey Gaeser Editor Emeritus Associate Editor Assistant Editor Gene Starn Mike Etzkin Kim Fischer HERITAGE Florida J~wish News ( ISN 0199-0721) is published ~ekly for $37.95 per year to Florida ad- society Editor Bookkeeping dresses ($46~95 for the rest of the U.S.) by HERITAGE Gloria Yousha Paulette Alfonso Central Florida Jewish News, Inc 207 O'Brien Road, Suite 101, Fer~ Park, FL 32730. Periodicals postage Account Executives paid at Fern Park and additional mailing offices. Barbara do Carmo Marci Gaeser POSTMASTER: Send address changes and other correspondence to: HERITAGE, EO. Box 300742, Contributing Columnists Fern Park, FL 32730. Jim Shipley Ira Sharkansky Tim Boxer David Bornstein Terri Fine Ed Ziegler MAILING ADDRESS PHONE NUMBER P.O. Box 300742 (407) .834-8787 = Production Department Fern Park, FL 32730 FAX (407) 831-0507 David Lehman David Gaudi~ Teri Marks emaih news@orlandoheritage.com Elaine Schooping Gil Dombrosky Caroline Pope much to the city df L.A."--90 percent of the ferences in society, noted that Moses. raised city's bus riders are from minority populations. as a prince, stepped up to lead the downtrod- "People don't see them or don't care that their den Jewish slaves in Egypt, and reflected on lives can be difficult." the implications for his own engagement in Simon went on to explain that he had spent today's world. the last six months"doingthings I never th()ught RabbiGellersaidthatunfortunately, for"far to do before--walking from L.A. to the Valley too many" liberal Jews. bar or bat mitzvah "is through the Hollywood mountains, feeding the goal of Jewish education." marking the dinner to children with cancer at the Children's end of the process rather than the onset of a Hospital of Los Angeles, walking in support of path tO a life of Jewish inquiry and learning. Darfur and eating at Langer's Deli in McArthur "It's pediatric Judaism. and when young Parkandwritingareviewofitsfoodandposting people get to college and are exposed to it online. Therewere 13 badges inallthat I had to thoughtful adult systems," the Judaism they accomplish. Theywere mostly to teachme more know "just doesn't hold up. about understanding the larger world I live in." "The bar or bat mitzvah can't continue to TempleEmanuel'sseniorrabbi, LauraGeller, be a terminal degree, which it is now." she who has led the 800-household congregation asserted. for 17 years, acknowledges that Simon's bar A Systemic Change mitzvah service was highly unusual. She ex- Rabbis like Laura Geller and a number of plained in~n interview that Simon's mother, a leading Reform educators say that a radical literary agent who grew up ir~ a secular home change is required, a rethinking of the rela- and found little meaning in traditional bar tionship between Jewish education and the mitzvah ceremonies, feltthataritualmarking bar or bat mitzvah ceremony. a transition out of childhood should reflect the As a result of several years of serious discus- skills required to become a Jewish adult in the sion and research within the movement, an community.S0afteraseriesofconversations, ambitious new project to revolutionize the the rabbi and Simon'S parents came up with a bar and bat mitzvah ceremony is about to be list of tasks, which the rabbi compared to Boy launchedthroughthejointeffortsoftheUnion Scouts merit badges, that they felt would be for Reform Judaism's Campaign for Youth appropriate to signify an appropriate coming Engagement and the Hebrew Union College- ofageandcommunalresponsibility for Simon. Jewish Institute for Religion (HUC-JIR). "It was a reframing of the bar mitzvah The program, called the,Bnai Mitzvah ceremony," Rabbi Geller said the other day, Revolution, dovetails with the priorities of noting that Simon's talk to the congregation showed his heightened awareness of class dif- URJ on page 19A Jim Shipley The devil we know Syria. Been a trouble spot for eons. There was a time the area was called Syria/Lebanon. Backwhen the French ruled. Lebanon provided seaside resorts. Syria provided oit. The French and the .British whacked up the Middle East after World War I. There was supposed to be an Arab nation. In order to get the tribes of the desert to help them beat the Ottoman Empire, The French and the British promised the Arab tribes their very own nation. Right. They gave~ them what became Jordan after they were sure there was no oil there. The French finally left Syria in 1946 when European empires were no longer in vogue and the natives were growing restless. Much as the U.S. did in creating "Banana Republics" in Central America, the French and British tried to leave reliable dictators in place who would keep the populace in line and if there was oil. keep that going and give the dictators huge payoffs to guarantee it. The guy the French left in place in Syria was an army general (they did that wherever possible) named Hafez El Assad. He was a beauty. He allowed no dissent. When there was an uprising in the City of Hama, he sent in troops and tanks, slaughtered more than 200,000 people and then plowed the city under to leave nothing but desert. Sound familiar? One thing about dictators. For the most part they are dependable and consistent. As long as you keep them well supplied with graft and other amenities, they will provide a type of peace and--if not tranquility at least a silence from the masses. Hafez El Assad did this in Syria. Well, Hafez died in 2000 after a bloody 30-year reign. His son Bashar who was an optometrist in London (probably the richest optometrist in all of the U.K.), married to an English woman, was asked to come home and run the country. I do not believe to this day that he wanted the job. But, home he came, keeping the mi- nority Alawites in charge. As the unrest of the Arab Spring continued to spread, decades of suppression suddenly broke forth, The people of Syria=in a totally unorganized and disor- ganized way revolted. Interesting that the uprising has not really settled into the usual Muslim Shiite/Sunni camps. The~ people Seem just to want the minority Alawites, an offsho0"~ of Shia Islam, gone as their government. In Tunisia they wanted the dictator gone. He's gone. In Libya they wanted the dictator gone. He's dead. In Egypt they wanted the dictator gone. He's dead. But what or whom is in their place? Tunisia, longamoderate nation is struggling itself toward democracy with a wary eye on the Muslim Brotherhood. Libya has descended into a low level sectarian civil war. Egypt's generals are not letting go easily: Bashar? Kind of like his daddy: "Kill 'em all!" We know that elements of al-Qaida are there, bringing weapons and ideology to the rebel side. Nature abhors a vacuum. And that is often what the demise of the dictator leaves. And so. the radicals, ever sniffing for an opening, wave the Islamist cause and try to, take control. All this puts the U.S. and Israel in a tough spot. What to do? Yes. the U.S. "led from behind" in Libya. But. Libya is in Africa and is not a~strategic area by any imagination. Syria? Lebanon to the west. Turkey to the north. Israel and Jordan to the south. Kind of strategic, yes? The biggest threat to Israel is that Syria is Iran's patron. Iran pays for much of the needs of Assad and his cronies. They do not want to see him go away. While there is fighting in Syria, there are also skirmishes on the Lebanese border--mostly sectarian, but still, guns are firing, people are dying. For the U.S. as well, it's a tough choice. If we use the same excuse we used in Libya, the idea of saving civilian lives, wh.at then? Unlike Libya, the fighting is not in areas dominated by desert waste. It's close in, urban warfare. That excuse won't work. And OK, Assad goes. Then what? MoreAlawite leadership? More unrest? Take a look at Egypt. Israel can breathe as long as the bad guys arc fighting among themselves. The Iran/Iraq war lasted eight years. Eight years where Israel did not have to worry about the Ayatollah or Hussein. There is hope. It would seem the people who have risen up in the Arab Spring and its aftermath have little use for radical Islam. They seem to realize that most of the people killed by these groups are Muslims. The new Iran sanctions kick in July 1. Iran might not have time for Syria. Putin flexed his muscles at Obama in Mexico two weeks-ago. He keeps sending helicopter gunships, shells and now Marines to Syria. Will that quell the violence? Does not look like it. At some point the U.S. may have to take a stand. Be careful. The advisors to the Re- publican nominee say Russia is our biggest threat. The Democratic president is cautious. Iran creeps closer to the bomb. We are in~ for an interesting summer. May God watch over all of.us.