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PAGE 2A' HERITAGE FLORIDAJEWISH NEWS; AUGUST 23, 2013 University of Haifa Communications and Media Relations Amos Shapira, president of the University of Haifa, speaks at the university's 41st Board of Governors meeting in June 2013. Shapira says the new Ruderman Program for American Jewish Studies at the University of Haifa "will create a new generation of educated and engaged citizens who share a deeper understanding of the American relationship." By Jeffrey F. Barken and Jacob Kamaras HAIFA--Jay Ruderman has observed for years that when American Jewish leaders visit Israel or when Israeli leaders visit the United States, the conversation is "always about Israel" and how the Jewish state relates to Iran, Syria, the Palestinians, and others. "What's happening in the American Jewish commu- nity?" and how those events impact future support for Israel never seem to enter the conversation, according to Ruderman, who worked for the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC) in both New England and Jerusalem and is now presi- dent of the Ruderman Family Foundation. The Ruderman Founda- tion, which prioritizes Is- rael-diaspora relations, has already tackled this issue by sponsoring U.S. trips for two delegations of Israeli Members of Knesset, and by launching a caucus designed to improve Knesset members' understanding of the Ameri- can Jewish community. Now, the foundation is further ad- dressing knowledge gaps in the next generation of Israeli leaders through its funding of the new Ruderman Program for American Jewish Studies at the University of Haifa. The formation of the program, which will be the first of its kind in Israel, was revealed exclusively to "Israeli universities have all sorts of programs study- ing Asia, Africa and the Arab world, but no one is studying the American Jewish com- munity, which is probably the most important community affecting the future of Israel," Jay Ruderman says. "The idea is that over the course of time you have a cadre of Israelis who've gotten a Master's in the American Jewish community, and that they will help Israel shape this relationship." Headquartered in Israel and Boston--which has a sister-city partnership with Haifa--the Ruderman Foun- dation made an initial $1 million contribution to the new program, an amount that was matched by the University of Haifa. Starting this fall, a class of 21 graduate students will embark on the one-year, seven-course program, which will survey Jewish-American immigration history, modern foreign policy, and govern- mental structures, as well as gender issues and the reli- gious makeup of U.S. Jewish communities. Haifa on page 18A Linda Gradstein The Media Line Did an Israeli drone cross into Egyptian airspace last weekend and fire a rocket at gunmen in the Sinai Penin- sulawhowere about to launch a strike on Israel? Probably. Will any Israeli or Egyptian official admit it, even off the record? Probably not. The official story coming out of Egypt is that it was the Egyptian military that at- tacked Jihadists in Sinai, kill- five. The ypt an army, which is presently controlling Egypt after Muslim Brother- hood leader Mohamed Morsi was forced from office, is wary of be'rag seen as too close to Israel and the United States. Asked whether Israel was behind the attack, Egyptian military spokesman Colonel a Ahmed Ali declined to com- ment directly. "There is an obligation between the two countries to coordinate attacks and inform each other of activities they conduct in Sinai due to the peace accords," Colonel Ahmed Ali, Egyptian Armed Forces Spokesman told The Media Line, referring to the historic treaty of 1979. An Israeli military spokes- man sounded similarly opaque. "The IDF (Israel Defense Forces) and the Egyptian military maintain ongoing se- curity coordination in order to contendwith mutual threats," Capt. Eytan Buchmann told The Media Line. Egyptian military analysts said it was likely that Israel was behind the strike. "There is a lot of confusion about who attacked the terror- ists. The Israelis say they did it and the Egyptians say they did it," retired Egyptian general Fathi Ali told The Media Line. "I believe the Israelis did it but with Egyptian coordination. You need people on the ground to call in the coordinates of locationswhere terrorists are." There is widespread securi- ty coordination between Israel and Egypt that is increasingly important to their mutual interests. "This cooperation is vital to both sides," Eitan Shamir, a professor of political studies at Bar Iian University told The Media Line. "Both Israel and Egyptare concerned about the situation in the Sinai (pen- insula) and neither country wants instability. They both have an interest in having quiet along their border." In the past weeks~ Egypt has embarked on a campaign against terrorist groups in the Sinai. Egyptian soldiers have destroyed hundreds of tunnels used for smuggling goods and weapons between Egypt and Gaza, and is launching attacks similar to the drone strike over the weekend that was originally attributed to Israel and is now being credited to an Egyptian military helicopter. In the past year, Israeli of- ficials have grown increasingly worried about the growth of jihadist elements in Sinai, once a popular tourist destination for Israelis. Last week, Israel even closed down its airport in the Red Sea resort of Eilat for two hours, after a warning from Egyptthat a rocket attack from Sinai was imminent. Under former Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak, y coo the security ties between the two countrieswere public and close. The Egyptian intelli- gence chief visited Israel often and helped mediate cease- fires between Israel and the Islamist Hamas movement, which took over Gaza in 2007. After the fall of Mubarak and the election of Muslim Brotherhood leader Mohamed Morsi, Israeli officials were concerned that the Egyptian military might back away from its relationship with Israeli security forces. Morsi had close ties with Hamas, which is an offshoot of the Muslim Brotherhood. Now, after Morsi's forced removal, the Egyptian army is playing an even more important role in the Arab world's largest country with 85 million people. Egypt and Jordan are the only two Arab nations which maintain peace treaties with Israel. "There is alot of security co- operation and it's very impor- tant," an Israeli diplomat told The Media Line on condition of anonymity. "Egypt is the biggest and most important Arab country. When Egypt sneezes, the Arab world gets a cold. What happens there impacts everywhere." Israeli officials are also con- cerned that if radical groups in Sinai come under enough pressure from Egypt, they could try to attack Israel to divert attention and garner support from other terrorist groups. As the Egyptian crackdown in the Sinai continues, Israeli officials say they expect more attempted attacks, and say that Israeli- Egyptian security coordination is even more important than it has been in the past. By Josh Lipowsky NEWYORK (JTA)--It start- ed when she was 13. "Sarah" became involved with a man 10 years her elder. He began setting her up with his friends for sex. She knew they would sometimes pay him, but she always thought she could trust him. He be- came her world. Even though he would beat her, Sarah internalized it as affection. When she tried to leave, threats to her family kept her coming back. "I didn't realize I was a sex-trafficking victim until I got out," said Sarah, who grew up in an Orthodox Jewish home and is now in her 20s. "I thought he cared about me. I started distancing myself from my family and he was the only support I had." While Sarah's is not a typi- cal story for an American Jew- ish girl, neither is it unique. Though exact figures on Jewish girls involved in sex trafficking are unknown, the overall problem is a major one. Some 21 million to 27 million people around the world are involved human trafficking, either as sex workers or forced laborers--an epidemic Presi- dent Obama has described as modern-day slavery. The U.S. State Department estimates that worldwide trafficking is a $32 billion industry. Though not an issue that particularly effects Jews, Jew- ish federations and national organizations have pushed in recent years to bring the scope of the problem to public Sex trafficking resources NEWYORK (JTA)--Below are some resources to help in the fight against sex trafficking: Atzum-Justice Works Save OurAdolescents from Prostitution N.J. Coalition Against Human Trafficking www. U.S. Department of State: Recognize and assist a trafficking victim U.S. Department of Justice Trafficking in Persons and Worker Exploitation Task Force Complaint Line 1-888-428-7581 UJA Federation of New York's Task Force on Family Violence attention while providing aid and services to its victims. "It's a problem in the Jewish community and a problem people don't want to acknowledge and a problem in society as a whole," said Nancy Kaufman, CEO of the National Council on Jewish Women, which is developing a strategy to address sex trafficking. "It's an issue that has not gone away and gotten worse." Last year, the Greater Miami Jewish Federation's community relations council formed a task force on human trafficking. The year before, New Jersey's Jewish Fed- eration of Greater MetroWest launched a coalition to com- bat trafficking. And in April, UJA-Federation of New York sponsored a conference on sex trafficking that attracted 450 educators and communal professionals from around the world. Ahead of the 2014 Super Bowl, scheduled for Feb. 2 at MetLife Stadium in the New Jersey Meadowlands, the MetroWest federation's community relations council is planning to deliver 10,000 bars of soap imprinted with the National Human Traffick- ing Hotline number to area hotels. Sporting events are considered major venues for traffickers. "We believe our main role is to help raise awareness, decrease demand and make sure the right regulations are in place," said the council's di- rector, Melanie Roth Gorelick. In the late 19th and early 20th centuries, it was com- mon for newly arrived Eastern European Jewish women to be shuttled away into the sex trade, according to Lori Cohen, an attorney for a New York nonprofit that serves vic- tims of sex trafficking and the chair of the April conference. Young, impoverished Jewish women from the shtetls were easy prey for unscrupulous pimps who promised better lives. "Families were handing their daughters to these pimps who knew how to exploit val- ues in the Jewish community," Cohen said. As American Jews climbed the economic ladder, the issue became less pressing, though by no means did it disappear. Still, many involved in com- bating sex trafficking, in the United States and Israel, say the Jewish community still regards it as someone else's problem. "When we started, 90 percent of Israelis didn't know there was a trafficking problem in Israel," said Rabbi Levi Lauer, executive director of ATZUM-Justice Works, an Israeli organization dedicated to eliminating trafficking. "There was a general consen- sus that because these .weren't Jewish women, this wasn't an important matter." That appears to be chang- ing.According to a June report from the U.S. State Depart- ment, Israel is in the top tier of countries fighting trafficking. Israel previously had been listed in the lowest tier. In the United States, the Jewish community also has become more serious about helping the victims of traf- ficking. In 2009, the Brook- lyn-based Jewish Child Care Association launched Gate- ways, a residential counseling program in Pleasantville, N.Y., for underage sex-trafficking victims. The program serves Jewish and non-Jewish vic- tims like "Kimberly," who came to Gateways after a prostitution call resulted in rape and abandonment on the street. "A lot of people think we choose to be in the life, but we're minors," Kimberly said. "We cannot choose and can- not consent to sex." By age 14, Kimberly was giving her entire paycheck to her boyfriend, leaving her broke. After asking a coworker for a loan, she learned about somebody who would pay her for sex. Now 2 0, Kimberly has com- pleted the Gateways program and earned a cosmetology license. She now works with another New York counsel- ing organization to help girls escape the life she left behind. Rabbi Julie Schonfeld, ex- ecutive vice president of the Conservative movement's Rabbinical Assembly, has made it a priority to help girls like Kimberly. Schon- feld is a member of President Obama's Advisory Council on Faith-Based and Neighbor- hood Partnerships, which he charged last year with addressing trafficking. Schonfeld's group is push- ing to turn its 1,700 members into advocates for victims. A conference call with Rabbini- cal Assembly members this week will focus on modern- day slavery and encourage rabbis to speak about the issue during their High Holiday sermons. "Part of what we really need is for all Americans to have their eyes and ears and recognize what are the signs of slavery, not only for sex but also for labor," Schonfeld said. The signs are not always easy to spot and often are overlooked or explained away. In Sarah's case, her family wrote off abnormal behavior as typical of an angry teen- ager. Herpediatrician thought she was just falling in with a bad crowd. She would show up at school extremely tired, dropped many of her friends and often would disappear from home, returning with unexplained injuries. "There has to be a realiza- tion that anybody can be trafficked," Sarah said. "The Jewish community has to be open to people who've had this experience."