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August 24, 2012

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HERITAGE FLORIDA JEWISH NEWS, AUGUST 24, 2012 HERITAGE welcomes and encourages let- ters to the editor, but they must be typed or printed and include name and phone number. We will withhold your name if you so request. Please limit letters to 250 words. Due to space limitations, we reserve the right to edit letters. Send letters to P.O. Box 300742, Fern Park, FL 32730. Or e-mail to Rep. Bachmann's facts stir hostile emotions Dear editor: information presented by In the Aug. 10 front page U.S. Government officials story by Ron Kampeas-- in court documents, court "Allegations against Abedin evidence, correspondenceand stir Jewish concerns about at: briefings with Congress and tacks on 'outsiders"---is short public statements, in gddition on facts and long on emotion, to known media reporting." Rep. Bachmann, in a July These facts are footnoted and 13 letter to Rep. Keith Ellison open sourced for those curi- says, " the facts we presented ous enough to do a Google to the Inspector General search. Sadly, Rabbi David request letters are based on Saperstein,AbeFoxmanofthe ADL, John McCain, and others are not interested in the facts. Kampeas writes, "The (Bachmann) letters assert that HumaAbedin, Islamic Society of North America (ISNA), and ISNAPresident Imam Moham- med Magid are all connected to the Muslim Brotherhood, posing a potential security risk to the United States." Ms. Huma Abedin is a government employee with a top security clearance. Every person "under consideration for, or retention of, national security positions eligibility for access to classified infor- mation under Executive Order 12968 is required to fill out a Form 86." Did Ms. Abedins' Form 86 pass the adjudica- tory guidelines in the foreign influence section? Or did Ms. Abedin receive a waiver from the Form 86 and who would have signed off on it? Informa- tion regarding Form 86 must be released in a closed session hearing and let the facts fall where they may. The harshestattacks against Rep. Bachmanwere from Rab- bi David Saperstein and other Jewish groups for launching what they called a "witch hunt." The Karnpeas article discloses Rabbi Saperstein has for many years worked with Ms. Abedin, ISNA and Imam Magid. Rabbi Saperstein demanded Rep. Bachmann and the other signatories "produce credible evidence to substantiate their claims or withdraw them. " Rep. Bachmann has done exactly that, Rabbi Saperstein boldly turned a blind eye. Rabbi Saperstein and others are between a rock and a hard place. Rep. Bachmann has presented credible evidence that Saperstein's friends are in fact part of The Muslim Broth- erhood. Rabbi Saperstein had only two choices, condemn his friends at ISNA and risk losing his professional credibility, or attack Rep. Bachmann. "I have met Imam Magid and attended the May 18 ISNA convention in Tampa, so I know from what I speak. Imam Magid was a polite individual and I can see how Rabbi Saperstein and many others got duped. Egypt's President Mohamed Morsi was just elected as The Muslim Brotherhood candi- date. Days after he was sworn into office, Morsi said it was his duty to free "The Blind Sheikh" OmarAbdAI-Rahman from U.S. prison, according to a story on A2 of the Aug. 10 Heritage. The Blind Sheikh is Mus- lim Brotherhood and was found guilty of mastermind- PAGE 5A ing the 1993 World Trade Center bombing killing six and wounding more than 1,000 Americans. Egypt's new Presi- dent is Muslim Brotherhood and wants his Blind Sheikh brother set free. The Muslim Brotherhood's ideology and actions exposes they are not friends Of the United States or-Rabbi Saper- stein. The Muslim Brother- hood motto is, "Allah is our objective. The Prophet is our leader. The Qur'an is our law. Jihad is our way. Dying in the way of Allah is our highest hope. Allahu akbar!" Then again, if you are a sup- porter of the Muslirfl Brother- hood you will likely disagree with what I have to say. Alan Kornman, The United West Regional Coor- dinator. He can be reached at S By Reuven Taft and urged the City Council to been unfairly maligned in and Victor Styrsky support extending sister-city recentweeks by Israel's detrac- status to Ashkelon. tors in Sacramento. Seemingly SACRAMENTO, Calif. Those who have expressedmotivated by blind hatred to- (JTA)--Regardless of the out- opposition to an Israeli sister ward Israel, the arguments come of the Sacramento City city are the same individuals against extending sister-city Council vote on extending who advocate boycotting and status to Ashkelon have been sister-city status to Ashkelon, divesting from the Jewish misleading to the point of Israel, the unnecessary eontm- state. Rather than calling for absurdity. versy leading up to it reveals Palestinians and Israelis to sit For example, Israel's detrac- much of the agenda of those down together at the negotiat- tors argue that Ashkelon has in the anti-Israel community, ing table, which the Palestin- a discriminatory visitor policy Those lessonswillremainlong Jan leadership refuses to do, because "Palestinian-Sacra- after this week's vote, which members of this movementmentans who have Israeli- we hope is in favor of the seek only to vilify Israel. issued ID cards are prohibited partnership. Whatissothreateningaboutfrom visiting Ashkelon except In 2009, the City Council Ashkelon? with rarely-issued special per- adopted Bethlehem--a city Ashkelonisamidsizedtown mits."Thissoundsdiscrimina- under the jurisdiction of the made up of hard-working,tory until one realizes that the Palestinian Authority--and family-orientedindividuals.Its "special permit" to which they resolved at a future time to origins date back thousands of are referring is in fact equiva- partnerwithacityinIsrael.The years; in fact it is mentioned in lent to a tourist visa. Every localJewishCommunityRela- the Bible as the city in which non-citizen of Israel seeking tions Council, in consultation DelilahfamouslycutSamson's to travel there needs an Israeli with our elected officials, has hair. It exists inside Israel visa, justaseverynon-citizenof now proposed that Ashkelon proper on undisputed terri- the U.S. seeking to travel here become that sister city. We, tory. No two-state solution to needs an American visa. who are part of the Jewish the Palestinian-Israeliconflict If one is able to see through and Christian communities would ever remove Ashkelon these deceptive arguments, of Sacramento, enthusiasti- from Israeli sovereignty, a clear picture of why Sac- cally endorsed the initiative Nonetheless, Ashkelon has ramento should extend this pro- status to Ashkelon begins to emerge. In 2005, Israel unilaterally withdrew every soldier and civilian from the Gaza Strip. At the time, Israel's ambassador to the United States called this disengagement "a test case for peace." Unfortunately, the Palestinians failed: Since Israel's withdrawal, thousands of rockets have been fired by Gaza-based Palestinian ter- rorists into Israeli cities and towns, including Ashkelon. These attacks terrorize, maim and kill innocent people. People like Moshe Ami, a 56-year-old Ashkelon resident who last October was,driving home to his family when he heard the air raid sirens blare. He jumped out of his car and ran for cover, but with only a few seconds to find shelter, he was hit by shrapnel from a rocket fired from Gaza by Palestinian terrorists. Israeli paramedics rushed Ami to a nearby hospital, and on the way there he was able to speak on the phone with his wife one last time. Shortly thereafter he died on an operating room table in Barzilai Medical Center. Ami was just trying to get home to his wife and four chil- dren. He was murdered because of his religion and nationality. There is no justification for the attack that killed him or the thousands of other rocket attacks endured by Israelis. Israel's detractors pass off these attacks and Israel's de- fense against them as a "cycle of violence." But the rocket at- tacks started when Israel took a huge risk for peace and got nothingbutviolence in return. There is a clear reason why Israel is amongAmerica's clos- est allies. Israel is a democracy. Israelis share the American commitment to liberty and freedom.We are more than just two nations with a geopolitical partnership; we are family. And families stand together during trying times. If the City Council approves the proposal to makeAshkelon one of our sister cities, it will send a message that this pro- gram inspires partnership, education and understand- ing. The Sister City program was not conceived to be about politics but rather connecting human beings from two differ- ent communities and cultures in a positive, meaningful way. If it does not, it will show that a campaign of deception can succeed. Sacramento cannot bring peace to the Middle East. It can, however, bring a small bit of comfort to our brothers and sisters in an embattled city, one that is under constant attack not because anyone disputes its sovereignty, but because its people shareour commitment topeace-so much so that they are willing to risk their lives to realize that dream. Rabbi Rezwen Taft'leads Sac- ramanto's Mo.udc Law Conore- gatiorL The Rev. Victor Styrsky is a regional coordinator for Ctwist ians Unifed for IsraeL Both reside in Sacramento, Calif. By Kenneth Stern NEW YORK (JTA)--For more than a decade, anti- Israel activists have sought to shoehorn Israel into the nomenclature of apartheid-era South Africa through the use of a tactic named BDS (boycott, divestment, sanctions). Apart- heid was a universally decried racist system. BDS activists argue that Israel is the second coming of apartheid South Africa and must be treated the same. BDS activists may claim success, but they are certainly aware that their efforts have failed. No American university has divested from Israel. When a British academic union voted on a boycott of Israeli academ- ics in 2007, more than 400 American university presidents jointly declared that if these Brits insisted on dividing the academic community into two gmups--Israeliswho shouldbe shunned and everyone else-- their U.S. institutions should be counted as Israeli, too. As University of Miami President Donna Shalala has said,"I know of no American university that would support such a boycott." BDS proponents at best can point to isolated, near- meaningless "victories," such as the recent decision of a socially responsible investment index to remove the Caterpillar Corp. from its list. The BDSers, campatgn of course, generally ignore that the decision was based on a variety of factprs (including the company's treatment of its workers), or that many other companies doing business in or with Israel are still listed on the index. Perhaps their one "victory" was to get a single food co-op in Olympia, Wash to remove Israeli ice cream cones, crack- ers, chocolate bars, baby wipes and hand sanitizers from its shelves. Antics aside, the point of BDS is to change the way Israel is viewed, to focus the debate on whether it is a "pariah" state. Lately, however, the BDSers seem to be a bit more candid about their motives. While still asserting that Israel is in effect wrong all the time, now they are increasingly comfortable suggesting that Israel should not have been born and this "mistake" should be undone. Judith Butler, a philosopher ahd a leading scholar in femi- nist theory who teaches at the University of California, Berke- ley, makes this point in her new book'~PartingWays: Jewishness and the Critique of Zionism," published by the prestigious Columbia University Press. Butler underscores why BDS proponents do not limit their campaign to products made in the territories. To do so would "forget the claims of 1948, bury the right of remains return, [and] also accept forms culture in historic Palestine." of unjust majority discrimina- So while BDS has yet to have tionwithinthepresentborders any tangible economic impact of Israel," she says. on the State of Israel, it con- In essence, the point of tinues to be a vehicle through BDS--articulated by Butler which the questioning of Is- and others--is to revert to a rael's basic right to exist is, for world without Israel, irrespec- some, a"legitimate" issue to be tive of its policies. That was raisedwithoutembarrassment. the theme of the One-State This is much more worrisome Solution conferencelastspring than a vote about Caterpillar at Harvard. That is why many stock or a co-op refusing to sell of the pro-BDS materials Israeli ice cream cones. BDS circulated during the recently can change the perception of failedeffortstopassdivestment Israel by creating space for resolutions at three major con- respectable people to have calm ferences of church groups-- debates about the"merits" of a Presbyterians, Methodists world without a Jewish state. and Episcopalians--distorted Fighting BDS, then, is not Jewish history by ignoring the justaboutpreventingordefeat- religious, cultural and physical ing motions and referenda. It connectionofJewsandJudaism requires payingattention to and to the land of Israel in order challenging the distortions of to paint Jews as interlopers in history and language used by a region where they have no BDS advocates. And it requires right to be (let alone a right, reiteration that the two-state like other peoples, to national solution, in which Jews and self-determination in their Palestinians have a right to historic homeland), national self-expression, is the Anti-Israel Christians re- only path to sustainable peace. cently circulated a document Tellingly, Rebecca Vilko- titled "Call to Action: U.S. Re- merson, the executive director sponse to the Kairos Palestine of Jewish Voice for Peace--a Document." The Palestinian strong Proponent of BDS that document was a one-sided is, at most, agnostic on Israel's politicalandtheologicaldenun- right to exist--recently ap- ciationofIsrael;theU.S.version peared on an American Free goes a step further, promoting Press podcast and told the a belief that Jews as a people host she "appreciate[d] your do not have "an exclusive or support." AFP is a neo-Nazi, preeminent right to the Holy white supremacist, Holocaust- Land," but rather a right only denyinggroup.ThatJVPappre- "to create a vibrant Jewish ciates AFP's support says it all. Kenneth Stern is the Ameri- can Jewish Committee's di- rector on anti-Semitism and extremism. EDITOR'S NOTE: In a state- ment on JVP's website and in emails to JTA, Vilkomerson says the podcast interview on AFP was obtained under false pretenses and that she was not aware she was being inter- viewed for AFP. Vilkomerson has asked AFP to remove the podcast and JVP has issued a statement condemning AFP as racist and anti-Semitic.