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July 5, 2013

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PAGE 14A By Sherif Elhelwa The Media Line CAIRO, Egypt--Political satire apparently knows no borders, based on the recent appearance of Jon Stewart, host of America's hit political satire program "The Daily Show," on Egyptian televi- sion's "AI Bernameg," (The Program) that is frequently described as "the Egyptian Jon Stewart program." Host Bassem Youssef in- troduced his special guest dressed as a captured spy, with a black hood covering Stewar t's head. The move was a jab at recent calls by Egyp- tian military and political officials to be wary of foreign spies seeking to spread chaos throughout Egypt. Youssef himself is a physi- cian who gave up medicine to host his own political satire show on Egyptian satellite. TV's CBC channel. He mainly pokes fun at the Muslim Brotherhood's regime and its officials, serving as a voice for the Egyptian opposition following the June 2012 presidential elections. The first"Al Bernameg" ep- isode aired Nov. 8, 2011, with a series of shows streamed by YouTube before moving to Satellite TV--which also screens"The Daily Show"-- a few weeks later. "Youssef had invited Stew- art to come on the show the By Ben Sales SDEROT, Israel (JTA)--A thick concrete bomb shelter sits by the side of a central street in this embattled south- ern Israeli town, but Naomi Moravia can't get inside. Shelters like this one are crucial in Sderot, which is about a mile from the Gaza Strip and is the frequent target of cross-border missile attacks that send residents running for cover. But Moravia can't run. She can't even get up on the sidewalk. Pushing a lever on her wheelchair, she rolls down the street looking for a ramp or a dip in the curb that she can ascend without tipping backward. If she can manageto reach a shelter in time, she often won't fit inside, stymied by tight corners impossible to negotiate in a wheelchair. Of five shelters in Sderot's central district that Moravia tried to enter recently, only one was accessible. "If there's a siren and I'm not in a protected room, all I can do is sit in my wheelchair and pucker my butt," said Moravia, the chairwoman of the Israeli activist group HERITAGE FLORIDA JEWISH NEWS, JULY 5, 2013 i Stewart plays Jewish card on Egyptian TV last time they met inAmerica. It turned out that Stewart was filming in Jordan recently, and he only came to Egypt for 18 hours," "AlBernameg" producer Mohamed Fathy explained to The Media Line. Asked why Stewart had hinted he was Jewish, Fathy said ho was sure Egyptians understood what Stewart meant, and that itwas good to promote religious tolerance in Egypt. He suggested that Egypt's main cultural prob- lem is the lack of education and the high rate of illiteracy. In addition to the hood, Stewart came on-stage wear- ing a suit, sporting a scruffy beard, and offering his open- ing line in the viewers' lan- guage, "I am a simple man. I don't like to  be put on a pedestal," he said in Arabic. Stewart and Youssef are famous in both countries for targeting their presidents. "If your regime isn't strong enough to handle a joke, then you have no regime," Stewart said on the show. Youssef, often described as Egypt's equivalent to Stewart, was himself sum- moned for qt/estioning by an Egyptian court-after be- ing accused of blasphemy and insulting the Egyptian president. His experience focused attention on the basic freedoms of speech and press that are still, not fully accepted by.Egyptian law. His popularity in Egypt, however, compares to Stewart's own in the United States: 1.4 million fans on Facebook and nearly 850,000 Youssef followers on Twitter. Stewart mentioned on the program that he is Jewish; declaring that he "likes to wander like my people" did in the Egyptian desert for 40 years. "I have been traveling for two weeks, and I've got 38 years and 50 weeks left/' he quipped. Not everyone was amused by the Jewish Stewart's appearance on Egyptian television. Egypt was known for many years of religious tolerance, but hatred against Jews began after the coup that ousted King Farouk in 1952, and replaced him with dictator Gamal Abel Nasser. Today, there are roughly 100 Egyptian Jews remaining in Egypt. Sally Taha, a human re- sources manager at a local sports marketing company, told The Media Line that, "I liked the show, and I liked the fact that it was light. I just didn't like that a foreigner is making fun of the current Egyptian government even though I don'.t like the Muslim Brotherhood." When asked about her views of Jews, she replied, "I don't hate Jews, and I am not afraid of them, but I don't like them. I leave it to God to punish or reward them." Mohamed Saied is a waiter at the Akasya caf in Maadi. He said, "I haven't seen this episode with Jon Stewart, but I knew about it. Because of work I couldn't watch it." When asked about his views on Jews he replied, "I don't re- ally have any problems with Jews, they're just people like us...In the last years bdore the revolution, Mubarak was pushing towards more accep- tance to Jews and Israel, but with the Muslim Brotherhood government, I don't know what to think. The president hasviews towards collabora- tion with Israel and respect- ing the peace treaty, but speakers on TVare against it." Law student Heba Gamal told The Media Line that, "The problem we are facing isn't Bassem or Jon, it's the fact that as Muslims we are supposed to respect all reli- gions and faiths, whether it is Christianity or Judaism. We are becoming stupid and acting like ignorant people from the DarkAges. Now, any foreigner is accused of being a spy and promoted as such by local media and officials, and anyone who isn't like us is an infidel." During his appearance on the program, Stewart a[so spoke about BBC Iranian jotlrnalist Maziar Bahari, the subject of the film he is making called "Then They Came for Me: A Family's Story of Love, Captivity and Survival." Bahari, an Iranian journalist and activist, was imprisoned in 2009 for 18 months after "Daily Show" faux-correspondent "John Johnson" interviewed him in an Iranian caf during Iran's presidential election. Stewart is on hiatus from "The Daily Show" while he works on the film. While many Egyptians watch "Al Bernameg," not many are familiar with "The Daily. Show, ' orwith Stewart. Egyptian journalist Baher Ghorab told The Media Line "I don't really care about Jon's visit to Egypt, but it seems that he has a message for the Egyptian people, and that is thatAmerica is coming and will take over, even the" program itself." He explained that the Americans are anxious to see democratic developments in Egypt and for democracy to succeed and replace old dictatorial habits, even if the Americans have to send their own people to the Middle East to make sure it happens. Indeed, during the last minute of the show, Stewart joked about taking Youssef's job. There was a mock appear- ance of Jon taking Bashem's seat, and an announcement that from now on Stewart would be the show's host. Asked about the Ameri- can's visit, business executive From schools to bomb shelters, Israel lagging on promise to disabled Struggle for the Disabled. "I just wait to hear the boom. There's nothing I can do." The dearth of wheelchair- accessible shelters in Sderot, officials and activists say, is emblematic of Israel's sorry record in providing for a dis- abled population estimated by the government to be 1.5 million. Despite the 1998 passage of Israel's Law of Equal Rights for Disabled People, which prom- ises the disabled "active and equal participation in society in all areas of life," Israel has been lax on regulation and enforcement. Public buildings and buses often are inacces- sible to those in wheelchairs. Disabled children face an un- responsive education system. And the Defense Ministry has yet to formulate regulations to accommodate the needs of the disabled. Part of the reason is that the government agency tasked with enforcing the equal rights law, the Commission for Equal Rights of Persons with Disabilities, has an an- nual.budget of just over $2 million and a national Over- sight staff of 11. Israel has "very nice laws that will not be applied," said Ahiya Kamara, the commis- ,VJJjj4j Developmentlsrael Bonds Corporation for Israel 12600 South Belcher Road, Suite I O A ISRA LiBONDS ...................... Largo, Florida 33773 Reva Pearlstein Monica DiGiovanni Asstanf D;rector Registered Representative 727-539-6445 800-622-8017 w-ww.isr sion's head. "If we rely on enforcement, woe unto us," said Ilan Gilon, a Knesset member from the Meretz partywho helped draft the equal rights law. "A state needs to be accessible to its citizens." For disabled Israelis, the challenges can begin early. Elad Cohen, now 10, was diagnosed with Asperger syndrome as a toddler. As a result, his Tel Aviv public school refused to readmit him in 2006 and Elad's mother, Revital, had to pay out of pocket for a caretaker in a private preschool. When Elad transferred back to public school, the state offered to pay about $5 per hour to a caretaker, enough for someone with only a high- school education--a similar standard as exists in some U.S. states. "The state wants to do two things: not tell you what your rights are, and if you know what your rights are, find any way to deny them from you," said Revitai, who consults privately for parents of disabled children. A series of recommen- dations endorsed by the Education Ministry in 2009 would have afforded nearly all disabled children the right to integrate into general class- rooms at public xpense. But the government has applied those recommendations in only three school districts and has no timetable for imple- menting them nationwide. The ministr.y's director of special education, Ra'aya Levy-Goodman, told JTA the goal is for every child who would benefit from in- tegration and not have a detrimental effect on their classmates--to attend pub- lic school. Since 2011, she said, the fiumber of severely disabled children integrated into regular classrooms has tripled, from 300 to 900. "Every child who wants and who can should be in general education," she said. "But special education isn't a punishment, it's a right. And there are children who need it." The challenges facing the disabled continue well beyond their school years. Until 2011, no regulations existed to make public buildings handicap ac- cessible. Regulations adopted by the Ministry of Housing and Construction that year set standards for bomb shelters in a range of public structures, but full implementation was not required until 2021. Israel's limited but growing railway network is handicap accessible, but the more extensive bus system is not. Transit Ministry spokesman Avner Ovadia told JTA tha suggestions for improved ac- cessibility have been solicited from advocacy groups. Home front security, though, remains the big- gest gap in special needs regulations. Disability rights activists worry that the state's intense focus on protecting its citizens has notbeen fully ex- tended to the disabled, though they cannot recall any deaths due to a lack of accessibility among the more than two dozen .Israeli civilians killed by rockets since 2004. Under a provision of the equal rights law added in 2005, the state has until 2018 to implement an emergency services accessibility plan. Anwar Elsewedy told The Media Line that, "l know him from a few years ago. I like to watch "The Daily Show." I think Jon Stewart's visit means that he and America now support the opposition, and not as previously believed that America only supports the Muslim Brotherhood. Also, Bassem Youssef is an iconic figure for the op- position, and bringing Jon Stewart to the show indicates o that the international com- munity andAmericaarewith the opposition." Youssef should soon have even more material to work with for his satire. The con- troversy surrounding Stew- art's visit comes just weeks before what some are saying will be a nationwide revolt on June 30, commemorat- ing one year since Morsi took office. The demonstra- tions aimed at toppling the Muslim Brotherhood and its Freedom and Justice party. Foreign intelligence re- ports and U.S. Embassy warnings to its citizens who are in Egypt, also foresee the  impeachment of President Mohamed Morsi, who will complete one full year in office on that day. Clashes are expected between Morsi's Islamist supporters and the opposition parties all over Egypt, perhaps yielding even more grist for Youssef's satiric mill. Ben Sales Naomi Moravia, chairwoman of the Israeli nonprofit Struggle for the Disabled, in front of a locked gate that leads to a bomb shelter in Sderot. Many shelters throughout Israel's embattled South are not wheelchair accessible. But ISrael's government hss passed an austerity budget, which could make implemen- tation less likely. In the meantime, the Home Front Command's website suggests that in case of emer- gency, the disabled should make sure to stay in a shelter with "other people." Fo as- sistance, the disabled are directed o turn to "relevant organizations" and their local municipalities. As a result, much of the burden of assisting disabled Israelis in wartime has fallen to nonprofits. When Hezbol- lah began raining missiles on northern Israel in 2006, volunteers from the Struggle 'for the Disabled evacuated 500 disabled Israelis to southern hotels. The organization paid for the service through donations. "They turnedto theWelfare Ministry, and everyone from the Welfare Ministry had left their office," said Yisrael Even Zahav, a former government consultant who coordinated the volunteers. "They were left alone." A Welfare Ministry spokes- person told JTA that the min- istry "works extensively, with- out connection to regulations, to make emergency services accessible" in conjunction with government-funded group homes and regional councils. Some activists hope that Israel's adoption last year of the nonbinding U.N. Conven- tion on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities will lead to further legislation. But many are skeptical. "It's like a yahrtzeit," Gilon said of the convention. "They talk about it one day and 364 days they forget about it. It doesn't matter to most people."