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July 19, 2013

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HERITAGE FLORIDA JEWISH NEWS, JULY 19, 2013 ...... PAGE 17A New dangers accompany U.S. passports as Egypt erupts By Michel Stors The Media Line CAIRO--When Brian Den- nison was considering where to study Arabic abroad, the 23-year old's choices were limited. Yemen? It has an aI-Qaida affiliate that feasts on foreigners. Syria? It is en- meshed in a civil war where dodging fighter jet bombings is the latest fad. Saudi Arabia was too conservative and Lebanon too Western. Egypt seemed the perfect fit--it was full of qual- ity Arabic schools, Westerners with whom to socialize and an- cient ruins at which to marvel. But the Virginia native's dream took an unexpected turn two weeks ago when the country convulsed during its second revolution in as many years. Since the end of the Octo- ber 1973 war against Israel and Egypt's tilt toward the United States, Americans have been eagerly welcomed in the country. For decades, Egyptians were happy to take their dollars and boast of the nation's ancient history. All that changed during the 2011 revolution when the regime warnedevents were being driven by a foreign conspiracy in a last ditch attempt to retain its grip on power. Ever since, a xenophobic spell has seized a population willing to view every American as a spy. Dennison was captivated by the recent protests and drawn to downtown Cairo and Tahrir Square where hundreds of thousands of Egyptians de- manded President Mohamed Morsi step down. He bought a shiny green laser pointer that has become the latest craze and draped himself in an Egyptian flag. For several days he camped out in Tahrir, spending nights listening to the heated debates. "It was like those Bob Dylan songs my parents always sang," Dennison told The Media Line in a caf on the posh island of Zamalek, an isolated corner of Cairo that is seemingly im- mune to the protests and the violence. "The protesters really believed they were going to make a new revolution. I felt safe with them." Other Americans attracted to the demonstrations were not as lucky. 'lwenty-one year old Kenyon College student Andrew Pochter was st/bbed to death in Egypt's second city of Alexandria during the early days of the protests. Pochter, who had come to Egyptto teach English, was reportedly killed after demonstrators asked him if he was American. It was the second time an American was knifed for the stars and stripes on his passport this year. On llay 9, professor Chris Stone of Hunter College was stabbed outside the U.S. Embassy inCairoafterhe,too,was askedby an Egyptian if he was American. The assailant later told police he had traveled from his village to find an American to. kill. It was to avoid more such tragedies, the American Em- bassy issued travel alerts on June 28 and again on July 3, warning 'U.S. citizens to defer travel to Egypt and U.S. citizens living in Egypt to depart at this time because of the continuing political and social unrest.' Many resident Americans here heeded the warning and left the country. Among them was Sarah Taylor, a 28-year old aid worker who has been laboring in Cairo's slums giving post-natal care to new mothers. "Things in Cairn were becoming too dangerous," she said in a Skype conversation from Turkey. "People were beginning to do more than the customary staring. They were ogling me like I was meat to be ripped apart." Taylor said that most of her friends left as well. "No one wants to end up a victim of a mob." Women like Tylor have more than just their national= ity to worry about. Ever since the 2011 revolution when the police disappeared from the streets, gangs of men have roamed Cairo seeking female victims to molest. Gang rape has been common. "I was torn apart in Tahrir," 24-year old Canadian Melinda Carson told The Media Line, describing the nightmare experience she suffered dur- ing an early round of protests against the army. "A bunch of guys ripped my clothes off and stuck their hands in me." Egypt is home to dozens of American organizations and institutes. It houses the largest American embassy in the world after the one in Baghdad. More than a quarter of the tenured faculty at the American University in Cairo is from the United States, as is its president, former Colum- bia University professor Lisa Anderson. The exact number of Americans in Egypt is un- known, though a U.S. diplomat here ventured that there are "at least 10,000." Despite the violence, Ameri- can tourists are still trickling in," says Marwan Jabari, vice president of Luxor Tours. "Some Americans don't even see the protests in Tahrir. They head straight to the pyramids, spend a night in a five star hotel and go directly to the Valley of the Kings (in southern Egypt). They won't ever hear of an American being attacked." Egyptians who hear sto- ries about Americans being targeted turn their heads in sadness. "Our country loves Americans," 43-year old Ahmad Katani told The Media Line. "Look at all the American products we have, pointing to a man drinking Coca-Cola before pointing at a McDonald's restaurant just offTahrirSquare."It'sjustthat everyone is whipped up these days and can't trust anyone." Dennison, though, iswilling to trust his Egyptian hosts. "I would go to Tahrir every day," he says, biting into a poor Egyptian imitation of pizza., "Every country has dangers, but here, they are for the good of the country." Dermer From page 1A leaked to The Jerusalem Post. "It would seem as if the surest way to get an Op-Ed published in The New York Times these days, no matter how obscure the writer or the viewpoint, is to attack Israel," Dermer wrote. Dermer immigrated to Is- rael in 1997 after several years of involvement in Republican congressional politics. He drew close at first to former Soviet political prisoner Natan Sharansky, co-writing with him "The Case for Democracy," a book that President George W. Bush later cited as a major influence. In the book, Sharan- sky treats Dermer as a full partner in shaping its ideas. Through Sharansky, Derm- er met Netanyahu, and they also forged an immediate closeness. Netanyahu, the finance minister in the mid- 2000s, sent Dermer to Wash- ington as economic consul. Dermer lets little stand in his way. Oren--also U.S. born and beloved by the U.S. Jewish community--wanted to keep his job, insiders say, and the only reason he was removed is that Dermer wanted the envoy post. Long before Dermer was formally named as the new ambassador, he was taking calls from Jewish schools and synagogues in Washington eager for his membership. Oren and his two predeces- sors, Salai Meridor and Daniel Ayalon, made outreach to the U.S. Jewish community a hallmark of their tenure. Oren in particular was sensitive to anger in the Jewish com- munity over Israel's perceived discrimination againstwomen and helped broker a tentative compromise that would allow for egalitarian prayer at the Western Wall. In 2009, Dermer said he considered cultivating ties with the American Jewish community's liberal wcing a waste of time. Dermer is be- lieved to be behind the liberal lobby J Street's inability to se- cure meetings with high-level officials during its Israel trips. Oren, by contrast, has forged low-level ties with the group. Like other Jewish groups, J Street welcomed Dermer's appointment. Dermer also led efforts in the Prime Minister's Office to limit the activities of human rights groups in Israel, casting them as agents of foreign pow- ers. Some of the groups have the support of leading Jewish liberal benefactors from the United States. Dermer's defenders in Washington say those issues are dwarfed by the immediate challenges facing Israeli-U.S. interests in the Middle East. "He will be an effective rep- resentative of the State of Israel generally, and Prime Minister Netanyahu specifically, as we are in a crucial period of U.S.- Israel relations with the need to stop Iran from developing a nuclearweapon," saidWilliam Daroff, who directs the Jewish Federations of NorthAmerica's Washington office. Unprompted, Foxman, Har- ris and Daroff all made the same point: Dermer's close- ness to Netanyahu is what will make his time in Washington a Success. "The most important thing for any ambassador in Wash- ington, especially any Israeli ambassador, is that he brings the full trust of the prime min- ister," Harris said. "That's an asset you cannot put a price on. "What it says to the host coun- try is that I am sending someone in whom I have full confidence, sowhenyou talkto himyou have a direct conduit to me." Oppenheim From page 1A board secretary, I was also on the committee chaired by Howard Lefkowitz for the expansion of the entire campus," says Oppen- heim. "We had many hurdles to leap including determining use of the land, projected costs and time for building." In 1998, while she was serv- ing as president of the Hebrew Day School, the school was growing and saw the need to expand toward Sandspur Road. However, there was one problem: "The property that was needed, was at the time, owned by two physicians who had plans to build their new medical office on that property, says Oppenheim. "In order to make the purchase happen, I had to personally appeal to each physician individually and make the case that allowing the school to purchase the property would serve the greater good of the Jewish community." The land purchase did come to fruition leading to doubling the size of the school facility. The property subsequently was deeded over to the Jewish Federation allowing the com- plete build-out of the Maitland campus. "My parents were my best friends. My father used to say to me: 'Whatever you want, whatever you dream--it is all possible.' When I get in a tough spot, Fthink of those words." Her role as president of the Hebrew Day School was pushed by Dr. Allan Klaiman. "Nina was very hesitant to "take on the presidency of the Hebrew day school," says Klaiman. "But she was an obvious choice with endless enthusiasm and dedication toward Jewish education." Orlando philanthropist Har- riett Lake is a friend and big fan of Oppenheim. "Nina has always been a leader, and wherever she leads I will fol-" low, because she puts me on the right track and keeps me aware of the right things to do." Oppenheim's generosity is legendary. "She served the entire Jewish community through the communitywide daily minyan in the mornings at the HDS chapel," says one who nominated her for the award. Dr. Ed Zissman, who "first knew Nina Oppenheim as a parent of three beautiful children in my pediatric practice," also mentioned her daily minyan work.'"She continues to serve as the host of the Central Florida daily minyan--providing break- fast following minyan as well as serving as one of the 10 "minyanaires." Oppenheim does not restrict her challenged-filled days tothe Jewish community alone. She is on the board of the Edgewa- ter High School crew team. "Planned events and yearbooks provided the team with funds to continue their excellence on the water," Oppenheim says of the challenge of keeping the crew team afloat. She also brightens the lives of long-term care adults with an Orlando Museum of Art program, "Arts the Spark," in whfch the museum distributes to the facilitators a copy of a number of pieces of art, with accompanying notes on the painting, the artist and the method. Oppenheim says,"It isawon- derful way to bring beautiful art and learning to these residents across Central Florida." Last year's winner of the Heritage Human Service Award was Zena Sulkes, who says of this year's winner, "Nina is compassionate, sensitive and caring, as well as a good friend. I was so delighted when I was the recipient of the Heritage Human ServiceAward lastyear, but I think the choice of Nina as the 2013 recipient has made my award even morevaluable know- ing that I am in the company of other people like Nina." Oppenheim has been a Central Florida resident since 1983. She and her husband Ron live in Maitland and have three children, Sheryl, 30; Craig, 28; and Jared, 23. Born in Brooklyn, N.Y., she has a bchelor's of science in chemistry and biology and a master's of education from the University of Cincinnati. She was raised in a Conserva- tive Jewish home, but belonged to" Young Israel. "When I was a child, I was raised in a setting where the Jewish woman made her Jewish contribution in the home," says Oppenheim. "Now, I am proud to serve my Jewish community in a leadership ole. I really do look at the world through a Jewish lens. I always try to give my all." Designer From page 2A panels etched with the names of the 2,982 victims--includ- ing six from the 1993 attack on the towers, and 224 who died on planes hijacked on 9/11. "It suggests commemora- tion and everyday life, a place that residents and workers in this neighborhood could utilize as much as visitors to the memorial," says Arad. "I saw how public spaces allowed New Yorkers to come together after the attack in stoic defi- ance, leavened with a lot of compassion." He had watched from his Lower Manhattan roof as the south tower of the World Trade C.enter collapsed from the impact of the terror attack on Sept. 11, 2001. "Witnessing the attacks, and most importantly the way the city responded to them/ was incredibly powerful and motivated me to start sketch- ing ideas for a memorial," Arad says. "I tried to express the idea of absence and loss, by hav- ing water cascade into empty spaces yet never fill them up." Born in 1969, Arad spent his first three years in London, then one year in New York, three in Washington, four in Jerusalem, another year in New York and two more in Jerusalem, and then four years in Mexico City as his diplomatic family globe-trotted. "I consider myself Israeli, but other things as well, and they're not mutually exclusive," he tells ISRAEL21c. After a year at Dartmouth, he returned to Israel to serve from 1988 to 1991 in the Go- lani Brigade. "I never thought about not doing my military service," he says. "I had grown up expecting to do it and want- ing to do it." After his bachelor's degree, he studied for his master's at the Georgia Tech College of Architecture from 1995 to 1999. Living in New York ever since, he's helped design two police stations, Union Sta- tion Tower, a 108-story Hong Kong skyscraper and Espirito Santo Plaza, a 37-story edifice in Miami that won the 2001 New York American Institute of Architects award. Today he is a partner in Handel Architects and shares his Manhattan home with his wife, legal editor Melanie Arad Fitzpatrick, and children Na- thaniel, 10;Ariel, 7; and Dani, 2. Arad helped plan and solicit funds for a"green roof" on the top of Nathani,l's public school building in the East Village. The Fifth Street Farm, opened last September, allows pre-K through eighth-grade students to grow and eat fresh fruits and vegetables. "I did not want to do a green roof only for its positive environmental impact but to see how we could weave this into the curriculum and health-and-wellness program at the school," says Arad. "We wanted a real urban farm so kids could be engaged in agri- culture activities and harvest and cook and eat their food onsite." Among the projects on his drawing board are a retail -housing-cultural complex on Manhattan's Lower East Side and a hotel and residential tower for an Israeli developer in Long Island City. "Our firm deals with density and diversity in urban sites," explainsArad."We see avitality and significance to cities. What makes great cities great is the happenstan.ce--not knowing what you'll encounter around the next block." He says he is happy to see the renovation of older buildings in Tel Aviv, where his sister lives, and the addition of the light rail system in Jerusalem, where his parents reside. "It's good to get people out of cars and onto the streets and public transporta- tion. It creates an important sense of community."