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July 26, 2013

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/ HERITAGE FLORIDA JEWISH NEWS, JULY 26, 2013 PAGE 11A By Abigail Klein Leichman ISRAEL21c A new study published in o the American Journal of Oph- thalmology shows that rates of preventable blindness in Israel have been cut by more than half over the last decade. from 33.8 cases of blindness per 100,000 residents in 1999 to 14.8 in 2010. Israel's success in prevent- ing and treating all four main causes of avoidable blindness-- age-related deterioration, glau- coma. diabetes and cataract-- is unmatched anywhere else in the world, says the study's lead author. Dr. Michael Belkin of the Goldschleger Eye Research Institute at TelAviv University's Sackler Faculty of Medicine and Sheba Medical Center. Other countries could see similar results by emulating Israel's approach, suggests Belkin, one of the foremost ophthalmology researchers in Israel. The secret of IsraeVs suc- cess? Developing innovative methods of prevention and treatment and making them available universally through the national medical system. Community-based pro- grams, such as dedicated diabetes clinics, promote early prevention and timely treatment for diabetes-related complications that can lead to blindness. Diabetes clinics in Israel pay for themselves in about two years, he says, factoring in their impact on preventing greater health concerns. It is much more, expensive to treat blindness as it develops rather than preventing it from the start. Belkin points out. According to the World Health Organization. blind- ness remains a severe health concern even in industrial- ized countries, yet 80 percent of blindness is preventable or treatable. The surprising results of the study were revealed when Bel- kin was researching a broader topic. "l was trying to show that over the last 100 years there was no change in the rate of blindness from glaucoma in the world, which is probably true in many places." Belkin tells ISRAEL21c. But when he and fellow re- searchers Alon Skaat. Angela Chetrit and Ofra Kalter-Leibo- vici looked specificallyat Israelt statistics over the last 12 years. they discovered that although rates of untreafable genetic causes of blindness remained steady over that time period. rates of preventable blindness were reduced by more than 56 Nati Shohat/Flash90 Israel serves as a model for other countries in preventing blindness. percent. This was not true of any other country. "There is nothing anywhere else remotely like we have here in Israel." he says. In fact. in the same issue of the American Journal of Ophthalmology was a report from Denmark. which also has socialized medicine and high standards of care. showing a decline only in age-related macular degeneration. Belkin speculates that one of the key differences could be that Israelis tend to adhere to recommended treatment regimens more closely than pa- tients in other countries. This phenomenon has been shown in relation to other diseases but hasn't yet been proven in ophthaImology. The doctor notes that policy also plays a role. Since the 1990s. Israeli patients have been abl to choose their doctors privately for cataract surgery. This practically elimi- nates wait times for surgery and prevents the condition from growing worse over the long term. in the .q By Rashad Hussain WASHINGTON (JTA)--Dur- ing Ramadan. Muslim com- munities around the world experience a month of fasting, devotion and increased con- sciousness of their faith. They also remember those who are suffering around the world and seek an end to tl~e forces of hatred that lead to violence against people of all faiths. The spirit of Ramadan.which lasts this year through Aug. 7, can serve as a positive force to bring people together and a powerful reminder of the com- mon humanity that all people share. Muslim" communities collect donations to aid those in need around the world. Campus groups at universities in the United States hold "fast- athons" in which students of all faiths fast together to raise money for charity. In recent years, as Muslim communities have dealt with h teful degictions and inflam- matory actions. American interfaith coalitions have come together to strongly rejectsuch bigotry. It is this backdrop that makes the reported Ramadan release of the television drama "Khaiber" in some Muslim- majority countries particularly disturbing. The new drama purports to provide a historical account of the Prophet Muhammad and the Arabian-Jewish town of Khaiber. But its producer has said that. "the goal of the series is to expose the naked truth about the Jews and stress that they cannot be trusted." The series also will reportedly focus "on the social, economic and religious characteristics of the Jews. including politics and conspiracies and how they dominate and control tribes." Rather than emphasiz- ing Muhammad's efforts to establiSh peaceful relations among religious communities, "Khaiber" does just the op- posite. And it does so at a time when a number of religious groups, including Christians. face discrimination and vio: lence in countries where the series will air. Communities that were outraged at negative depic- tions of Islam must condemn this divisive and anti-Semitic effort. They should also un- derstand that in many ways, this type of programming is also a disservice to Muslims and the legacy of the prophet. While censorship is not the answer, communities must come forward to counter such depictionswith more informed views to prevent the spread of stereotypes and hatred that can dehumanize entire groups of people. In May, l joined imams from around the world on a visit to the Auschwitz and Birkenau concentration and death camps. As we toured the area in shock of the horrors thatwe saw, one imam commented, "Whether in Europe today or in the Muslim world, my call to humanity: End racism for God's sake. end sexism for God's sake. Enough is enough." Addressing Holocaust denial is an important step, and I raise this issue when I travel to meet government and civil society leaders in Muslim countries. Efforts also must be made to ensure that textbooks and television programming inthe Musllmworld are free from the types of dehumanizing ideas and images that breed intoler- ance and hate. In doing so. honest and courageous voices must step forward, particularly during Ramadan. to condemn not only negative depictions of the Prophet Muhammad. but also a television series that uses a slanted historical narrative of his life a facade for sowing discord, division and hatred. Rashad Hussain is the U.S. special envoy to the Organiza- tion of Islamic Cooperation. On a mission First ofa three-part series. By Danielle Berrin Jewish Journal of Greater Los Angeles My big mistake, upon ar-- riving at Jeffrey Katzenberg's office, is that I didn't bring my ballet-slippers. But no one really told me about the cl~oreography of a visit here, in which Katzen- berg's vassals at DreamWorks Animation, the company he co-founded and oversees, welcomed me' in, warmed me up and made me wait. It's a very pretty dance, though, past the koi ponds and cobblestone drive, the sports cars and sprawling courtyards, and into the sleek reception area where a polite lady takes my name, suggests a seat and fibs a little, saying, "They'll be down for you in a moment." After I've flipped through a trade or two and touched up my lip gloss, the public- ity chief arrives to escort me to Katzenberg's office. "You have hour," he reminds me one short hour in which to attempt to pin down the prolific executive. Which worries me. Katzenberg has been around too long to make the m.istake of telling a reporter anything truly revealing, so theprospect of a probing interview seems both ambitious and unlikely. And , yet, surely such a calculated man has his motives for talk- ing to me today. Normally he is so wary of publicity that when the journalist Nicole LaPorte set out to write what would become a 477-page Jeffrey Katzenberg book on the DreamWorks story--"The Men Who Would Be King"--Katzenberg, along with partners Steven Spielberg and David Geffen, repeatedly refused to be in- terviewed. "Not a chance, not a chance," LaPorte reported Katzenberg as saying. One gets the impression that, in Katzenberg's world, if he can't be sole author of his story, he has no trouble trying to frustrate its telling. Don't like it? There's the door. When I finally reach the realm of DreamWorks' high priest (thiswarm-up has been sort of like the long trek to a Japanese Buddhist temple that prepares one's soul for the .moment of prayer), an assistant spots me coming down the line and jumps up to give Katzenberg the 30-second warning. But four feet shy of.Kat- zenberg's door, the publicity chief suddenly balks and we literally pivot--two ungrace- ful ballerinas--to the side. "Listen." he cautions. "if Jef- frey gets bored, he'll probably try to wrap it up at around 45 minutes. So ask your best questions first." Was that a warning or a tip? No matter, a little flurry of butterflies begins beating their wings in my abdomen as Katzenberg traipses out of his office. Dressed in a light-colored cashmere sweater and jeans, he whispers to one of his min- ions and faces me. Beneath rimless glasses, he has oval- shaped hazel eyes and wears , faint smile, giving him a kind of wistful, bedroom look. He is discernibly fit, the silhou- ette of muscular arms appar- ent even beneath his sweater, enhancing the tough-guy guise his diminutive frame otherwise denies him. It oc- curs to me that anyone who thinks of Katzenberg as small has never stood next to him. He has a colossal presence. I quickly lay out my one- hour plan: his professional legacy, his family life, his po- litical aims and philanthropic goals, his future dreams, his past regrets, his very (Jew- ish) soul. He's cool with all of it. It is his life mantra, he tells me, "to exceed people's expectations." "That goes to my phi- losophy about every thing," he says, offering the secret to his success upfront: "I have one philosophy that I live by, which is: Whatever you do, give 110 percent of yourself in anything you do that's important to you. I'try to do that as a husband and a father, whatever I take on. Anything. Including this interview." Katzenberg is sitting up- right in his chair, and his gaze is unerringly direct; several times, I have to cajole myself into averting my eyes just so I can reference my notes. He is surprisingly soft-spoken and a little laconic; his cadence can be dry and slow, the calculatedspeech of someone used to being listened to. And talked about. "I remember the first time I came to Los Angeles," Katzenberg recalls. "I was probably 22, 23 years old. And I worked for an amaz- ing man" the independent producer and former CEO of United ArtiSts, David Picker, who helped launch the JSmes Bondfranchise "and Icame out here and stayed at the Beverly Hills Hotel, and this was all like a fantasy come true." His timing was pro@ dential; his visit fell a week before the Academy Awards. "I remember on my way back to the airport, you know, in the taxi, after having been exposed to all sorts of dif- ferent things [that] week, I rernember having this feeling like, 'OK, so here's what you gotta do in this town: You gotta win an Academy Award, and you've got to own a house on the beach in Malibu.' " He laughs, hearing himself say this. "Those are the two things," he says. "Those are the two ambitions." Nearly four decades later, Katzenberg has achieved a level of success in Hol- lywood that makes his early goals seem quaint. He has become a titan of the in- dustry: a revered business leader, a studio founder, a devoted philanthropist, one of the nation's top political fundraisers and a billionaire. to boot. After so many years patiently laboring under the tyranny of other lead- ers (Barry Dilier, Michael Eisner) or greater talents (Steven Spielberg)--"I was a great first" lieutenant," he admits--Katzenberg has finally cemented his role as the godfather of Hollywood. And now that he's become a kind of industry father figure, his values as an American Jew are on full display: For Katzenberg, true glory is about having a heroic influ- ence, both on the (infamously shallow) industry in which he works, and the world. But the Malibu beach house had to come first., Sometime in his mid-3Os, when the acquisition of Hol- lywood prestige depended as much on the appearance of success as on actual accomplishment, he pur- chased a strip of shore on the now-infamous, guarded "Billionaires' Beach," an fiber-exclusive section of Malibu's Carbon Beach that Katzenberg claims he bought "long before you needed to be a billionaire." It was just as well, since in order to join DreamWorks in 1994 with his one-third equal partnership, he was forced to mortgage his home, among other assets, to pony up the $33 million Spiel- berg and Geffen l ad burning holes in their pockets. Winning an Oscar proved a greater challenge. Although his work as a film studio executive produced several award-winning movies "Beauty and the Beast" and "The Lion King," for example--he ,did not per- sonally receive an Oscar unt-il December of last year when he was awarded the Jean Hersholt Humanitarian Award. "In many respects " he says, "it's kind of a better one,.because it's for things I did for other people rather than what I did for myself." Like many in Hollywood, Katzenberg's early career schooled him in the art of being the underdog: He was Picker's assistant at Para- mount until then-Chairman Barry Dilter took Katzenberg undej" his wing; within five years, he was promoted to vice president of production. There, however, he found himself a notch below a brash and fiery executive named Michael Eisner, with whom he began a notorious and tumultuous 19 -year partner- ship. In that bond, Eisnerwas boss. So when Eisner was passed over as DHler's suc- cessor, he left to become CEO at Walt Disney Co , and Katzenberg, his ever-faithful deputy, followed. For a while, Disney was good for Katzenberg. Be- ginning in 1984, he led the feature film department, which back then was last at the box office, behind all the other major studios. Within three years, Katzenberg had helped catapult Disney into Katmenberg on page 15A