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July 20, 2012

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PAGE 12A Linda Gradstein The Media Line More than a dozen security officials, their faces covered with black ski masks, con- verged on human rights ac- tivist Nabeel Rajab's Manama home on Monday and forcibly placed him under arrest, ac- cording to his family. Police cars surrounded the house while a helicopter hovered overhead. His arrest came after the 5th lower criminal court convicted Rajab of libel and sentenced him to three months in prison. "Theywant to stop him from talking--they are really ar- resting him for criticizing the prime minister," Nabeel's wife Sumayya Rajab told The Media Line. "This is not fair. Killers are left outside the jail, and he is being jailed for a tweet." She said Nabeel was allowed a short telephone conversa- tion from jail. He asked for a By Ron Kampeas WASHINGTON (JTA)--Na- than Diament learned two things 22 years ago while witching Barack Obama play p'akup basketball at the Har- Law School gym. ,, "He was a generous passer, he said of the school's Law Re- view editor and the future U.S. president."He was competitive, but at an appropriate level of competitiveness. He didn't get in your face." It's an acquaintance that continues to serve Diament to this day on his mission of r Ctesenting a minority within anority--he has headed the  thodox Union's Washington e since it opened in 1998. Most recently, it culminated in a high-profile exchange between Orthodox leaders and Obama at the White House. Paving the way to such access is Diament, a respected veteran ofthe Jewish professional cadre in the nation's capital. "Nathan was one of the folks who said that direct dialogue between the Orthodox commu- nity and senior administration officials could lead us to com- mon ground," Jarrod Bernstein, the White House liaison to the Jewish community, told JTA. Tracy Friend (age 41) has lost 18% body : fat, 33 lbs. and a total of 24.75 inches! HERITAGE FLORIDA JEWISH NEWS, JULY 20, 201P Jailed for tweeting in Bahrain blanket, clothes and toiletries, but when they arrived at the prison, guards refused to ac- cept the items. Rajab heads the Bahrain Center for Human Rights. He has a popular Ivitter account with more than 158,000 fol- lowers. On June 2, Rajab posted six tweets criticizing Bahraini Prime Minister Khalifa bin Salman Al Khalifa, who has been the unelected Prime Minister of Bahrain since 1971, accusing AI Khalifa of corruption and calling on him to step down. Several members of the government, including Adel Dlaifle, the former of_ ricer of the national security apparatus, who is accused of allegedly torturing political activists and has threatened Rajab personally, accused Rajab of libel. The punishment for libel is almost always a fine and Rajab's lawyer appealed the sentence. Rajab has already been de- tained twice: for three weeks last month, and for more than three weeks in May. "It's bad to have my dad in prison, but we are proud of him," his son Adam Rajab, 14, told The Media Line. "We want a good govern- ment and we want democracy. The prime minister has been here for 42 years. It's time for him to leave." Rajab's wife Sumayya said that even her 10-year old daughter, Malak, tried to confront the security officers who came to arrest her father. "We are not afraid of you or your gun," she told them, according to Sumayya. "But you must be afraid if you are covering your face." Last year, there were large demonstrations in Bahrain against the ruling govern- ment, similar to popular dem- onstrations in Egypt and Tuni- sia. Activists called it the "Pearl Revolution," since it centered around the Pearl roundabout in Bahrain's capital Manama. Rajab has been a key activ- ist in the demonstrations in which 50 people were killed. Saudi Arabia sent in troops to help the Bahraini government quash the uprising. There are also growing sectarian tensions in Bah- rain, where King Hamad bin Khalifa, and his uncle the prime minister are Sunni Muslims, while the majority of the populace are Shi'ite. The split dates back to a feud over who would succeed the Prophet Mohammed in the 7th century. Shi'ites in Bahrain say they face widespread discrimina- tion. They are notallowed to work in the police or serve in the army, and pro-Shi'ite websites are blocked by the government. "In my office, only Sunnis are promoted, even if they don't have any qualifications," Ra- jab's wife Sumaya, who works as a secretary in the Ministry of Transportation said. "Three months ago I stopped going to work in protest and now I have a case with a lawyer." The international commu- nity has failed to intervene, or even criticize, the government of Bahrain. The King is seen as an important Western ally, and the US Fifth Fleet makes its home in Bahrain. Rajab's colleagues say his arrest is meant as a message to other activists. "They arrested him to send a message to all activists that you will get arrested like him if you talk to the media,' Sa'id Yousif, the head of documen- tation at the Bahrain Center for Human Rights told The Media Line. "Every day we have protests but journalists are banned from entering Bahrain." He said that although mar- tial law has not been officially OU's Nathan Diarnent bestrides Orthodox, "He has novel approaches to vexing policy questions." It's a skill that is valued by his bosses in New York. Rabbi Steven Well, OU's executive vice president, said Diament managed to reconcile a dilemma for the group: its advocacy for state funding of schools, despite adamant resis- tance to such funding among Democrats. Diament was able to help win bipartisan support for Homeland Security grants aimed at securing non-profits, which included help for Jewish day schools. "Because he has been in D.C. as long as he has, he has seri- ous relationships not only with key legislators but with staff as well," Well said. Jewish Federations of North America and Agudath Israel of America also led the push for the Homeland Security grants. William Daroff, the JFNA's Washington director, called Diament the team's "critical thinker" in working out strategies to build alliances in Congress. Diament startedoutwith the OU in the mid-1990s in New York helping to make its case to the national government. Then he had to convince skeptical superiors that he needed to be Washington worlds in Washington on a full-time basis. An unexpected boost came in 1998 when U.S. Sen. Joseph Lieberman, then a Democrat of Connecticut, wonderedaloudat an OU centennial eventwhy the group had no representation in Washington. Lieberrnan in an email said that Diament had made the OUa"significant pres- ence" in the capital by forging "creative coalitions." Chabad-Lubavitch has reached out to leaders here since the late 1970s and Agu- dath Israel of America opened its office in the 1980s. But representatives of both those groups say that Diament's added value for the Orthodox and general Jewish community is his enthusiastic understand- ing of the sometimes arcane workings of government. "There is strength in num- bers," said Rabbi Abba Cohen, the director of Agudah's office. "Nathan is knowledgeable, capable and dedicated, and by skillfully using these assets has been a boon to Orthodox advocacy on the federal level." Policymakers say Diament-- and by extension the Orthodox Union--bring nuance to the table in a town that otherwise is flooded with the perspective of Jews as liberals who tend to vote Democratic. Elliott Abrams, a deputy national security adviser under President George W. Bush, recalled one such encounter in late 2007 with himself, an OU delegation led by Diament and the national security ad- viser, Stephen Hadley. Hadley had been apprised of Israel's national and security case for its claim to all of Jerusalem, but something was missin the religious claim. "Most of the discussions of all this are conducted among secu- lar Jews, and they are political rather than religious," Abrams said. "This was bringing some new light to the situation for Steve Hadley." The OU's tough posture at the time on Jerusalem earned the group a rebuke from then- Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert, who bristled at the no- tion of a Diaspora organization staking a claim to how Israel should deal with Jerusalem. Abrams said the OU perspec- tive adds something else to Washington as well. "On religious freedom and domestic policy issues, you have an additional Jewish perspec- tive and it is not always the same" as the prevalent voice :o Lose 18% Body Fat... and Be in the Best Shape I -EALCffOVV- ; of Their Life with only I and get a ! 20-minutes, 2-3x a week? " free consulation and " i I If you would like to take charge I TWO FREE I Personal Training and make the first step towards changing your fitness future call Elite Strength and Fitness and mention you saw this ad. Our promise to you is that our system 11 get you the results you want. GUARANTEED. i Sessions! i I A $120 Value I {only 10 spots left for this offer. Exp. g-14-12) IL- mu mm m. mm am aw m J 407-740-7750 1312 Palmetto Avenue Winter Park, FL 32789 among more liberal Jews, he said. That "Jewish perspective"- favoring fewer restrictions on government-church interac- tions-is likelier to find reso- nance with Republicans, as is the OU's generally skeptical stand on peace talks with the Palestinians. That made Diament's job easier when George W. Bush was presidentand Republicans, with their similar outlook, led Congress.As Democrats rose to prominence, first by taking Congress in 2006 and then with Obama's election in 2008, Diament found himself making the case to the Orthodox com- munity, which tends to favor Republicans, that it was worth reaching out to Democrats. "There's definitely people in the community who think Obama's terrible on Israel and who would like to see us play a more partisan role than we could," he said. So at meetings in syna- gogues and to audiences across America, he tries to tweakapart the myth from the facts, noting the real differences between the Obamaadministration and the Israeli government on settle- ments, for instance, but also the closeness in the defense alliance. Diament's ability towalk that line is a result of an upbringing less inclined to the insular- ity of some in the Orthodox community, said Rabbi David Saperstein, the director of the Reform movement's Religious Action Center. Diament's father was an Or- thodox rabbi at a Conservative shul in Lynbrook, N.Y., where Saperstein's father helmed a Reform synagogue. "He works well with people that disagree with him," said Saperstein, who served with Diament on a White House advisory council on faith-based initiatives. In recent years, Diament's relationship with Obama cer- tainly has helped. Diament was one of the few to recognize Obama when the candidate for the U.S. Senate seat from Illinois attended an American Israel Public Affairs Commit- tee policy forum in 2004. He relieved Obama from the awk- imposed by the government, security forces act as if it has been. "Every night they raid homes without warning and set up checkpoints," he said. "They are trying to round up activists and anyone who speaks to the media is inter- rogated." The Bahrain Center for Human Rights strongly con- demned Rajab's arrest. "We believe strongly that his arrest is part of an ongoing campaign of judicial harass- ment against him in order to prevent him from continuing his legitimate and peaceful hu- man rights work," the Center said in a statement. Nabil Rajab's family says they know he will survive the ordeal of prison and emerge even stronger. "He is very strong and can manage himself in any situa- tion," said Sumayya. "We just want freedom." wardness of standing alone in the conference hall. Obama returned the favor on his first day in the Senate, recognizing Diament as he strode through the Senate of- fice buildings and hugging him. Sources close to both men emphasize that the relation- ship is one of friendly acquain- tances. Still, some in the Orthodox community have suggested that Diament is too close to Democrats. Congressional Democrats, in turn, wonder why Diament holds back on advocating on issues in which liberal and Orthodox interests unite, like federal money for the poor. Diament did campaign against Obama's mandate to extend contraceptive coverage to employees of religiously- run institutions like orphan- ages and hospitals. The stance baffled some Democrats--the Orthodox, in most cases, allow contraceptive use--but Dia- ment said it was a principled policy against government interference with religious institutions. At the June meeting of Obama and Orthodox leaders, Diament elicited laughter by saying that the stand also was a quid pro quo for Roman Catho- lics who joined the OU last year in successfully pushing back San Francisco's proposed ban on circumcision. But the meeting also had tense moments, such as when some participants felt that Obama appeared dismissive of the desire for large families. Others worried that the presi- dent seemed to condescend when he said he was more knowledgeable about Jewish matters than his predecessors. At meeting's end, Obama and the Orthodox leaders were still entrenched with their differing views. But Diament had brought them together to at least address mutual suspicions. Diamentspeaks of congrega- tion rabbis who attended the White House meeting. "They told me they went back to congregants who were fiercely anti-Obamalandthey were proud and happy the meet- ing took place," he said.