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August 10, 2012

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PAGE 4A HERITAGE FLORIDA JEWISH NEWS, AUGUST 10, 2012 By Shai Franklin NEW YORK (JTA)Jewish organizations have a lot of clout in this country, in no small part thanks to groups like the Anti-Defamation League. That's partly why I found ADL National Director Abraham Foxman's recent call in a JTA Op-Ed for a five-year. $2.5 billion campaign to support Jewish day schools in the United States so intriguing. The average cost to operate our existing schools at current capacitywill be $15 billion over five years, according to the Avi Chai Foundation, which specializes in Jewish education. Against this backdrop, Foxman's ambitious ~ive year. $500-million-per-year solution is incremental and temporary. As a community, we will never have enough money on our own to cover day school and yeshiva costs over the long term. To trflly cope with the indispensable and unsustainable imperative of American Jewish education, we need to pursue substantial government funds. Despite spending an estimated $3 billion a year on direct educa- tion costs, Jewish organizations together spend barely $1 million annually on lobbying for our education agenda--one-third of one-tenth of 1 percent. We'll need much more than that if we are to advance an order of magnitude in govern- ment assistance. While Foxman has few equals in his passion and ability to raise millions of dollars for Jewish adVOcacy, the most significant contribution to day-schoolsustainability rather than funding a portion of current school costs--would be for ADL "m reconsider its longstanding opposition to any form of government offsets or support-to parochial schools. ADL has paved the way for Jews and other minorities to succeed in America. partly by fighting to uphold separation of church and state. If the post-20th century Jewish future depends on sustaining Jewish education, rather thantrailblazing our access to public schools. -can't we afford to reexamine whether some public support for private education, including in parochial schools, might be compatible with the establishment clause of the U.S. Constitution? The organized Jewish community has begun to reassess old church-state and public-school orthodoxies. Beyond providing and facilitating direct support to day schools. Jewish federations are directing their efforts to helping access exist- ing government programs. In New York. for example, the UJA-Federation of New York recently, established a day school advocacy initiative. The Orthodox Union has hired a host of new political affairs directors to lobby state legislators in places like New York, Pennsylvania, Florida, Texas and Louisianato consider sending more state money to parochia~ schools. The national umbrella for Jewish advocacy agencies, the Jewish Council for Public Affairs. has committed to updating its existing policy guidelines regarding tax credits and other forms of support for parochial schools. In a few states. Jewish day schools already are benefiting from scholarship tax credits. Since a percentage of donations to scholar- ship funds, including for'students in parochial schools, already can be deducted from federal and state taxes, expanding the provision to a full dollar-for-dollar tax credit is not breaking new constitutional ground. Through Pennsylvania's modest Educational Investment Tax Credit program, the Philadelphia federation was able to raise an additional $1 million-plus for day-school scholarships ~ the past year alone. Reasonable people can disagre~ over the merits of strategies, but in key respects the constitutional questions have been resolved. Tile challenge now is to catch up to the U.S. Supreme Court, which is theultimate arbiter of what is and is not cqnstitutional. Just last fall, the court ruled that taxpayers lack standing to challenge a scholarship tax credit program in Arizona. even though parochial schools would benefit. since "contributions result fr6m the decisions of private taxpayers regarding their own funds." In other words, the government is not making any decision "'respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof." The court's decision was not so surprising, since in 2002 it upheld direct parental vouchers on much the same grounds If the ADL is prepared to take leadership on this cause, our communal advocacy agenda could do for Jewish education what it already h~s done for Israel and for combatinganti-Semitism. Judging from the Supreme Court, we have some catch- ing up to do. Judging from the financial crisis within our community, there is no time towaste. Shai Franklin is executive director of TEACH- NYS, the Educational Alliance for ChlTdren m New York State. By Jonathan S. Tobin Ali's fair in love, war and politics. So it is to be expected that Jewish Democrats desirous of President Obama's re-election will be doing their best to perpetuate the idea that Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney's foreign trip thismonth was an unmitigated disaster. But the media narrative abo~ut [ais trip to Israel is one that ought to worry sfipp~rters of Israel no matter which party or cand~ they support. Romney is said to have disgraced himself by saying that if you want to understand the stark contrast between the success of Israel and the failure of the Palestinians, "Culture makes all the difference." It was to be expected that the Palestiniar~ Authority (PA) would attack him. But the American mainstream media has been almost as ~ athing m describing it as an "insult." While political observers will rightly put "occupation" is the reason why the West Bank and Gaza are so depressed. While the continuance of the conflict because of Palestinian intransigence doesn't help development, that is not the cause of all their problems. As anyone who has even a passing knowledge of how the PA government in the West Bank, as well as the independent Palestinian state (in all but name) that Hamas governs in Gaza, work, official corruption is the rule rather than the exception. The complete absence of the rule of law there is not the fault of Israel but of the terrorist organizations masquer- ading as political parties who run those places. Instead of concentrating on fostering free enterprise and creating trust, the focus of the Fatah-run entity is the enrichment of the ruling elite and the continuance of the war on Israel. Following in the footsteps of Yasser Arafat. Mah- moud Abbas and his cronies have squandered or stolen most of the billions that have been poured into these areas by the European Union and the this down as just one among scores of minor - United States. skirmishes~:in a long presidential campaign that won't have much impact on the final outcome, the controversy is actually quite significant in terms ofwhat it revealsaboutAmerican attitudes toward the Middle East. Far from Romney being revealed to be a foolish dabbler in foreign policy whose blunders have exacerbated an already troubled peace process, his comments were actually quite accurate about the reasons why Israel is a haven of free enterpriseand the areas run by the PAare. to be charitable, a basket case. It is. instead. Rom- ney's critics, such as the pompous editorialists at the New York Times, who are demonstrating their profound ignorance. What's more. it is the refusal of so many allegedly informed observers of the region, as well as American and European political figures, to admit that what Romney said was true, that is enabling the corruption and violence that continues to sink any hopes of Palestinian reform. The fact that the key to success lies in the politi- cal and economic culture of a nation is something that has been acknowledged by virtually every credible authority on the subject. Indeed. even the United Nations' Arab Human Development Report noted that existing cultural norms in the Arab world are a primary obstacle to progress. R omney' s critics say he ' s wrong because Israe rs Palestinians are notj ust hampered by the Arab cultural backwardness in which human rights are abused, women are discriminated against, and gays and religious minorities are persecuted. They are harmed by their own particular culture, in which rejection of the legitimacy of Israel and fomenting of hatred against Jews has given their leaders license to eschew peace and glorify violence. Anyone who ignores this truth and the need for Palestinians to undergo a cultural sea change for peace or prosperity to have a chance is doing them no favor. The troubling aspect of this story is notwhether Romney will be hurt by it. but whether friends of Israel on both sides of the political aisle will continue to avoid the truth about the Palestin- ians, Neither political correctness nor the politi- cal advantage that Democrats seek justifies the attacks on Romney's remarks. Anyone who cares aboutpeace in the Middle East--including Jewish liberals--ought to be echoing the Republican on this issue, not attacking him. JNS columnist Jonathan S. Tobin is senior on- line editor of C OMMENTAR Ymagazine and chief political b logger at www.commentarymagazine. com. He can be reached via email at: jtobin@ him on Twit- ter at!/TobinCommentary. i THE VIEWS EXPRESSED ON THIS PAGE ARE NOT NECESSARILY THE VIEWS OF HERITAGE MANAGEMENT. CENTRAL FLORIDA'S INDEPENDENT JEWISH VOICE ~ ~ ISSN 0199-0721 Winner of 40 Press Awards . Edltor/Publisher Jeffrey Gaeser Editor Emeritus Associate Editor Assistant Editor Gene Starn Mike Etzkin Kim Fischer HERITAGE Florida Jewish News I ISN 0199-0721 } is published weekly for $37.95 per year to Florida ad- dresses l$46.95 for of the U.S.) by HERITAGE Central Florida Jewish News. Inc 207 O'Brien Road, Suite 101, Fern Park. FL 32730. Periodicals postage paid at Fern Parl~ and additional mailing offices. POSTMASTER: Send address changes and other correspondence to: HERITAGE. P.O. Box 300742 Fern Park, FL 32730. MAILING ADDRESS PHONE NUMBER P.O. Box 300742 ~407) 834-8787 Fern Park. FL 32730 FAX 1407) 831-0507 email: Society Editor Bookkeeping Gloria Yousha Paulette Alfonso Account' Executives Barbara do Carmo Marci Gaeser .Richard Ries Contributing Columnists Jim Shipley Ira Sharkansky Tim Boxer David Bornstein Terri Fine Ed Ziegler Production Department David Lehman David Gaudio * Teri Marks Elaine Schooping Gil Dombrosky Caroline Pope By Ezekiel J. Emanuel PHILADELPHIA(JTA) "Myson, thedoctor." Why does every Jewish mother have to have a doctor in the family? It might be because the immigrant mentality desperately desire~ a se- cure and well-paid profession, but in fact. there is a deeper reason why Jewish mothers want a doctor son. The value of health care is throughout our tradition. Our greatest rabbi, Maimonides, was a medical doctor, and doctors even have the authority to break the Sabbath strictures to care for the sick. We're taught that %vhoever saves a life, it is considered as if he saved the world:" How much greater nachas can a Jewish mother.get? The duty to heal the sick and provide for the poor are deep mo~al imperatives in the Jewish tradition. Combined with the biblical command to treat the stranger as yourself because you were once a stranger in a strange land, this duty trans- forms ourobligations beyond the worthy interest in promoting the health and well-being of our own community. Our mothers can't just want their children to be doctors to Jewish people, they must heal whomever is sick--Jew and non-Jew. This element of Jewish philosophy makes the Jews' stake ifl health care reform enormous. It is not just about providing insurance to millions of uninsured Americans--caring for children who might not get the vaccinations or the checkups they need, or diagnosing cancer or other diseases early, or making sure people don't have to choose between bankruptcy and having a needed surgical procedure. For Jews it is about more; it is about holding true to our tradition. After I00years of trying to achieve comprehen- sive health Care reform--an effort that started with Teddy Roosevelt and continued with FDR. Harry Truman and Biil Clinton--Congress finally passed the Affordable Care Act and President Obama signed it into law on March 23. 2010. Once and for all, the Supreme Court affirmed that the law, particularly the individual mandate. is constitutional. That would appear to be the end of the discus- sion ~tnd, in most instances, it would be. But not today. Not in the.age of 24-hour news cycles. Not during a divisive presidential election. " Yet in the midst of the chatter and the punditry, it's important to focus on what matters most. AS the president said after the Supreme Court's rul- ing, "Whatever the politics, today's decision was a victory for people all over this country whose lives will be more secure because of this law." Let's be clear, the law has already produced significant benefits for average Americans. More than 5 million seniors have received an average of $600 in reihabursement for their drug payments because of the partial closing of the "doughnut hole." More than 6 million young adults many' of them our children or grandchildren--are on their parents' insurance because of this health care reform. Tens of millions of Americans have received preventive services--whether mammo- grams or other tests--without a co-pay because of health care reform. Millions of Americans have received checks from their insurers because they spent too much on administrative costs rather than on health services. Because of this health care reform, children can no longer be denied care due to pre-existing conditions. Patients can't lose coverage when they get sick. Insurance companies can't impose lifetime caps on care or raise premiums without reason. Medical research will proceed faster, as insurers must cover the cost of participation on clinical trials. And all of this reform comes while still allowing preserving the traditional physician-patient relationship. And 2014~ the launch of the insurance ex- changes, promises even more. No American will face denial of coverage or exorbitant premiums because of a pre-existing condition. Women will not have to pay more than men for the same insur- ance. And most important for Jews, 30 million Americans will gain access to health insurance. These changeswill save lives. Theywill perfect our union and help repair our world. Yet Repub- lican leaders want to reverse course. Since the Supreme Court's decision, we've heard presumptive Republican presidential can- didate Mitt Romney call for full repeal of the law. Senate RepubliCan leader M itch McConnell said that extending coverage to 30 million uninsured Americans is "not the issue." Leading Republi- can governors have pledged to refuse additional funding for Medicaid--funds to secure medical care for working families, low-income workers. children and seniors. Republicans claim they want to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act. The fact is they have never once offered a coherent "replacement" alternative plan to the ACA that controls costs. provides care to the uninsured and incentivizes better quality care. "Repeal and replace" may be good rhetoric, but unfortunately .it is not backed up by any real substance. As Jews. can we really accept living in a country that denies tens of millions of our citizens access to health care insurance? Can we in good conscience let our children and our neighbors' children go without vaccinations, checkups and care for the simplest of ailn~ents? President Obama courageously championed health care reform. He understood the moral imperative. Because he led. millions of families will now be part of the health care system and Je~,ish doctors will better be able to fulfill their obligations to help save the world. And Jewish mothers can be prouder still that their sons and daughters can care for all Americans. Dr. Ezekiel J. Emanuel chairs the Depart- ment ofMedical Ethics and Health Policy at the University "of Pennsylvania.