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August 22, 2014

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HERITAGE FLORIDA JEWISH NEWS, AUGUST 22, 2014 PAGE 5A By Moshe Phillips and Benyamin Korn New York Governor Andrew Cuomo is refusing to meet with Palestinian leaders dur- ing his visit to Israel this week. Maybe that's a mistake. The Palestinian Author- ity has invited him to visit the areas under its control, and the New York Times and others are quick to accuse the governor of bias for refusing. In our view, the governor would actually be performing a great public service if he did visit certain PA-controlled areas--some of the ones they don't want him to see. That would help clarify many of the issues that need to be considered before the Pales- tinian Authority is handed a more dominant role in Gaza in place of Hamas. There are those who con- tinue to believe that the PA is Israel's trustworthy peace partner. Governor Cuomo could shed some light on that question--by asking to visit these ten sites: The studios of Palestin- ian Authority Television. Throughout the past week, PA TV has repeatedly broadcast an incendiary song about Gaza (and Israel) by Arab Idol winner Muhammad Assaf. A sample of the lyrics: "Take my blood and give me freedom: my country from the [Jor- dan] water to the [Mediter- ranean] water O Gaza, sacrifice your men liberally; each of them is worth two ... It's either victory or Mar- tyrdom, her men said Soil of the forgotten land, watered with precious blood My land, sing your song, gather your strength for freedom." Governor Cuomo should meet with the officials of PA TV, who act on direct orders of their government. Any Palestinian school (with an interpreter). Let the governor see, first-hand, that the text books they teach are full of anti-Israel and anti- Jewish hatred and incitement. The governor should espe- cially ask his PA hosts to show him a PA school book that has a map acknowledging Israel's existence. One of the Palestinian public parks named after "martyred" terrorists. There have been many reports of parks, streets and other venues named after Dalai Mugrabi, leader of a PLO death squad that murdered Gaff Rubin, a niece of U.S. SenatorAbraham Ribicoff (D- Connecticut), and 36 others in the notorious1978 Coastal Road Massacre. Let the PA show Governor Cuomo their glorification of a terrorist who murdered a U.S. sena- tor's niece. Any Palestinian prison. According to the Oslo accords, the PAls supposed to imprison terrorists. Are there any ter- rorists in Palestinian jails today? A tour of the prisons might be enlightening for the governor--and for us all. The PA's Ministry of Prisoner Affairs. Under Min- ister Ziad Abu Eain (himself a convicted murdered who was released in a prisoner ex- change), this PAoffice actually pays salaries toArab terrorists who are in Israeli prisons. Governor Cuomo might want to ask Eain about payments to the terrorists involved in the kidnap-murders of three Israeli teens this summer; the two fugitives reportedly spent time in Israeli prisons. Did Eain send them checks during their incarceration? Palestinian Christians. Bethlehem, which once had a Christian majority, istoday 80% Muslim. Surely the gov- ernor would be interested to learn more about why the Christians left the city, and how, in general, Christians are treated by the Palestinian Authority. * The family of U.S. citizen Azzam Rahim, of Texas, who was tortured to death by the PApolice during a 1995 visit to his native village, near the PA capital of Ramallah. Governor Cuomo mightwant to express his condolences and find out what steps have been taken to punish the killers. A! Quds University. Last November, Brandeis Univer- sity suspended its partnership with A1Quds after the admin- istration permitted a mass rally by pro-Hamas students dressed in military garb. The governor should speak with students and get a sense of what kind of attitudes toward Israel are being fostered at one of the PA's most prominent in- stitutions of higher learning. The Tomb of Joseph. This burial site of a biblical patriarch is also home to a yeshiva, both of which have been repeatedly desecrated by Palestinian attackers. Are Jewish students and worship- pers being granted free ac- cess to their holy site? A visit from Governor Cuomo might clarify matters. Perhaps of greatest inter- est: The governor should visit the IT office at the central headquarters of Fatah, which is chaired by PA leader Mah- moud Abbas. Throughout the Gaza War, Fatah's official Facebook page has been filled with praise of Hamas, pho- tographs glorifying Hamas terrorists, vicious anti-Israel accusations, and boasts about Fatah joining Hamas in firing rockets at Israel. If the PA were to be given more power in Gaza on the presumption that it opposes to Hamas, we need to know why Abbas's Fatah has been promoting and endorsing Hamasvia their social media. Lesson twenty-three of the Gaza war: Before the Palestinian Authority might be handed control of Gaza, we'd like to see the evidence that it actually wants peace with Israel, that it has actu- ally given up terrorism and renounced its recent unity pact with Hamas. A PA that is something like "Hamas Lite" is not going to advance the cause of peace. We think a visit by Governor Cuomo might be just the thing to clarify matters. Moshe Phillips and Benya- rain Korn are members of the board of the Religious Zionists of America. This article is part of a series. To view previous installments, please visit http://www.phillyreligiouszi- gaza-war/. By Gary Rosenblatt The woman to my left said she felt "overwhelmed" and "emotional" in dealing with the news about Israel's war in Gaza. The heavy volume of postings on her Facebook page were so upsetting, with their criticism of Israeli ac- tions, that she was consider- hag:'tinfrie ding" some of her online correspondents. The woman across the By Rabbi Stewart Weiss I awoke this morning to shocking news. I guess that's not so unusual in Israel - es- pecially during war time- but this really floored me: Robin Williams dead at 63; the media buzzing around the story like bees around honey, throwing out words like "suicide," "de- pression," "drug addiction" and "alcoholism." In my humble opinion, there was no actor more talented, no comic more genius than Robin Williams. From the moment he burst on the scene, he displayed an awesome ability to evoke the deepest feelings and senti- ments from his audience. He could make us laugh, of course, as he did so bril- liantly as a stand-up comic, on TV in the ground-breaking Mork and Mindy, or in classic comedies like "Mrs. Doubt- fire" and "Good Morning, Vietnam." But he could also touch the deepest part of our souls and bring us to tears, as he did so well in "Dead Poets' Society," "Moscow on the Hudson," or "Good Will Hunting," for which he won his only Oscar. Although Williams was born an Episcopalian (in my hometown of Chicago), he always seemed to have a strong "Jewish flair" to him. He was constantly throwing Yiddish words into his routines, he played Jewish parts in several movies - including Jakob the Liar - and he described him- table from her, older than the rest of us, said she wasn't a Facebook user but that she, too, felt "overwhelmed" in reading about the war and seeing it on TV. "I feel horrible for both sides," she said. Admitting that her knowledge of the Mideast was sketchy, she said she had come in part to this evening's coinmunal dialogue, entitled "Israel Talks" and held at the JCC in Manhattan, to learn "more accurate information" about who started the conflict and why. But the facilitator at the table, Jonathan Cummings, director ofintracommunal af- fairs atthe Jewish Community Relations Council (JCRC) of New York, patiently explained that the purpose of this two- hour pilot session was not informational; itwas rather an opportunity for those present to share their feelings about lams self as "an honorary Jew." A picture thatWilliams tweeted of himself wearing a kippa last year contained the tag line, "Too late for a career change? Rabbi Robin?" And so many of his memorable scenes fit in so well with Jewish thought and belief. Last year, as part of the pre-Yom Kippur seminar we conduct each year, I played a clip of Williams talking to God about life and death, in a dramatic scene from "Patch Adams," the story of the iconic doctor who combined the art of humor with a broad knowledge of medicine. In the movie, one of Adams' colleagues and closest friends is murdered, andAdams' con- templates his own suicide. As he stands on the edge of a cliff, poised to jump, he screams at the Heavens, "What do you want from me?!" Suddenly, a butterfly lands on his shoul- der, and he is brought back to an appreciation of life and God's wonder. Even Williams' voice had a magic touch to it, and he was the spirit of numerous animated films, most nota- bly "Aladdin," where he was the Genie; "Robots," and the Academy-Award winning "Happy Feet." He was also heavily involved in charity work, in particular the"Comic Relief" programs, and often performed for U.S. troops abroad. His exuberance, spontaneity and irrepressible energy thrilled millions and made him beloved to everyone who saw or met him. "Carpe Diem - Seize Life," the man- tra he taught his students in "Dead Poets' Society," was clearly the credo that best defines his legacy. Which makes his death only the more tragic and confounding. Why would such an enormously gifted and adored man end his life so prematurely? With so many good things surrounding him - fame, fortune, friends and family - what room was there for demons? Of course, illness has its own rationale, and the emo- tional or psychological ail- ments that he might have carried inside him are not something we can fully com- prehend. His wife Susan Schneider, said in a statement after his death, "As he is re- membered, it is our hope the focus will not be on Robin's death but on the countless moments of joy and laughter he gave to millions." What strikes me today is the lesson to be learned from Williams' life - and death - here in Israel. In a sense, we, too, live a "bi-polar" ex- istence. We as a nation, as a People, are constantly pulled between the extreme poles of ecstasy and tragedy. We are either celebrating wonders and miracles, or grieving over the loss of our loved ones. We create a great country, from the ashes of the Holocaust, and then we are immedi- ately filled with anxiety and worry over the existential the current Mideast conflict in a safe environment. (I was invited as aparticipant/re- porter, agreeing not to identify attendees by name.) Cummings is director of Israel Talks, a project of the JCRC created two years ago to promote dialogue and diversity in the New York community atatimewhen, its, founders and many observers agree, the discourse on Israel is highly divisive, even toxic. threats emanating from our hostile neighbors. We win wars, thank God, against all the odds, but then we must agonize over the aftermath of every conflict. Each cause for celebration is tempered by a warning against over- confidence, while every dark cloud contains its own silver lining. Even our calendar echoes this duality, as our many joyous holidays are interspersed with no less than six fast days, reminding us that we are never too far from some ominous note- or some reason to rejoice. Our latest, ongoing war has injected some measure of depression into our populace, as we worry where all this is going, andwonder aloudwhat the solution is to a seem- ingly insoluble predicament. Suicide is not an option. We have weathered every storm throughout our history and, with God's help, we will suc- cessfully navigate this latest crisis as well and emerge to even greater glory. Robin, fly upon your way, find shelter in some Heavenly nest. As the Talmud says, one who makes others smile and laugh is secured a place in the World to Come. And we, too, will seek our own shelter, nestled in the wings of the Almighty and in the strength and security of a great and proud People, whose greatest moments are yet to come. Rabbi Stewart Weiss is di- rector of the Jewish Outreach Center of Ra'anana. A few minutes earlier, before splitting us into small groups for roundtable discus- sions, Cummings and Rabbi Ayelet Cohen, director of the JCC's Center for Jewish Living, had introduced the program to the 50 or so JCC members who had signed up for the one-night event. They explained that itwas intended to help people talk personally about Israel and share their experiences in grappling with the complexity and uncertainty of the current situation in Gaza. Implicit in the introduc- tion and in the underlying purpose of the project, is that Jerusalem today, in its politics and policies, can be a source of great pride and inspiration to some and a cause for deep embarrassment, and worse, for others. For many it is all of the above. And the latest round of war with Hamas, the terrorist group that con- trois the Gaza Strip, seemed to underscore the confusion in our community about the powerful need for Israel to pro- tect its citizens from rocket attacks and tunnel invasions while at the same time invok- ing feelings of anguish and discomfort at the heavy loss of civilian life in Gaza. Some of the roundtable discussions that night expe- rienced sharp political differ- ences, though ours did not. The four women and I at our table had been to Israel, and agreed that our primary con- cern in this conflict was secu- rity for its citizens. Several times the conversation turned to frustration with the inter- national community's seem- ing unwillingness to blame Hamas for the bloodshed, compounded by media cover- age that often casts Israel in a negative light. Each time Cummings gently sought to bring the discussion back to our personal Israel experi- ences and feelings, andtoward hearing each other carefully and respectfully. One goal of these talks is the pursuit of "mutual understanding rather than agreement or im- mediate solutions," according to the definition of "dialogue" adopted by Israel Talks. The two-page explanation of the format, given to each of us to Rosenblatt on page 15A l THERE $ A MOVE, I /T TO IS2AEL'S 21C 1' TO EXIST, PART OF IT FRE$ ROCKETS AM:) OIGS IN FROM GAZA, PART OF tT SHOUTS ITS THREATS IN TO THAT SAY: