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August 28, 2009     Heritage Florida Jewish News
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August 28, 2009

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PAGE 14A HERITAGE FLORIDA JEWISH NEWS, AUGUST 28, 2009 By Eric Fingerhut WASHINGTON (JTA)--A new poll shows that 92 percent of Jewish Democrats approve of President Obama's job per- formance. The survey, based on calls July 22-24 to 500 self-identified Jewish Democrats, was com- missioned by the Traditional Values Coalition, a conserva- tive lobbying organization claiming to represent 43,000 churches. It was conducted by Global Marketing Research Services and has a margin of error of plus or minus 4 percent. Alongwith the nearly unan- imous approval of President Obama's efforts, the poll found that 58 percent of the respon- dents said he was "doing a good job of promoting peace in the Middle East" compared to 16 percent who disagreed. Asked whether the president was being "too tough on Israel," just 18 percent said yes and 55 percent said no. The survey suggests that despite the Obama adminis- tration's repeated calls for an Israeli settlement freeze, sup- port for the president among American Jews remains high. But the Traditional Values Coalition and the husband- wife team of political consul- tants Dick Morris and Eileen McGann have cited several of the survey's other findings in an effort to argue that the results point to a potential rift between the president and Jewish supporters. "Support among Jewish Americans is a mile wikte, but when specific issues about Israel's defense are raised it is about halved and looks 'an inch deep,' " the coalition's founder and chairman, the Rev. Louis Sheldon, said in a statement titled "TVC Poll Finds American Jews Conflicted Over Israel and Obama." Sheldon, as well as Morris and McGann in a column for the New York Post, noted that only 20 percent of respondents agreed with what the survey defined as Obama's view that "if Israel could settle its dispute with the Palestin- ian refugees and give them a nation of their own, that the Arabs would live in peace with Israel." Fifty-two percent opted for the view that "the Arabs will never live in peace with Israel and that giving them a nation of their own will just make them stronger." Similarly, they pointed to a question in which Obama is described as saying it is "very important that Israel not expand its settlements on the West Bank so as not to alienate the Palestinians" and told that "Israel says it should be allowed to build new homes in existing settlements but not to start new ones." Respondents again chose the option not associated with Obama, this time by a 52-37 percent margin. In both cases, Obama supporters say the survey oversimplified the president's position. "Based on the phraseology of the questions, they are misrepresenting the position of the Israeli government and the Obama administration," said David Harris, president of the National Jewish Demo- cratic Council, in an interview with The Jerusalem Post. "Whenever anyone shows me a poll from any interested party, from one side or anoth- er, I have questions about the veracity of that poll," he said. Sheldon also pointed to the issue of Iran. Pete Souza/White House A recent poll shows Jewish Democrats giving fist bumps to President Obama on his performance just like his Jewish chief of staff, Rahm Emanuel, prior to a news conference on July 22. Asked whether there is "any real chance that Iran could be stopped from developing a bomb without an Israeli at- tack," 38 percent said yes and 25 percent said no---38 percent were unsure. Still, 62 percent said they opposed an Israeli bombing strike against Iran to stop the Islamic Republic from developing nuclear weapons, with only 15 percent in favor. About 40 percent of respon- dents said they thought the president "would support Is- raelifitattacked Iran,'while 45 percent said they weren't sure. The question that showed perhaps the most disagree- ment with Obama also was hypothetical: "If President Obama told Israel not to ~t- tack Iran but offered no real assurance that he could stop Iran from developing nuclear weapons, would you support or oppose Obama's decision?" Just 26 percent backed Obama's decision in that sce- nario, while 40 percent opposed itand34percentwere"notsure." In his statement, Sheldon said the poll was done "to better understand attitudes in the American Jewish com- munity as the threat to Israel increases and radical Islam rises throughout the world." Also, in an interview with JTA, the organization's spokesman, Jim Lafferty, said the values council was curious to see whether the Jewish electorate "sides with Mr. Obama or Mr. Netanyahu." By Amanda Pazornik j. the Jewish news weekly of Northern California SANFRANCISCO--Onthe day of Omri Casspi's welcome reception to the Sacramento Kings, the 6-foot, 9-inch for- ward looked more like a kid at his bar mitzvah party than someone about to become the first Israeli to play in the NBA. As the emcee bellowed his name on Aug. 17, the 21-year-old Casspi entered the Kings' practice facility in Sacramento to the sound of roars and applause from predominantly Jewish fans gathered to catch a glimpse of their new hometown hero. Casspi then stepped up to the microphone and, speak- ing only for a few minutes, thanked those in atten- dance-prominent leaders from the Jewish community, HIGH HOLIDAY COMMUNITY SERVICES 5770/2009 RABBI HOWARD SCI-IXVARTZ and CANTOR ISAAC KRIGER (Formerly with the Israel National Opera) along with their Professional High Holiday Choir invite you and your family to attend beautiful and inspiring High Holy Day services where family and community come together in a spirit of prayer and love. Services will be conducted in a modem comfortable air-conditioned building located at the Scottish Rite Center, 1485 Grand Road, Winter Park, FL 32792. Tickets: Adults $100 (includes all services); Students $75. High Holiday prayer books available for $15 each. Seating is limited so please make reservations early. Reservations: Call Cantor Isaac Kriger at 407.482.5723 / 407.758.0323 Tickets are payable by check, Visa or MasterCard, PayPal also available Erev Rosh HaShana - Friday, Sept. 18th at 8 p.m.; Rosh HaShana - Saturday, Sept. 19th at 10 a.m.; Kol Nidre - Sunday, Sept. 27th at 7:30 p.m.; Yom Kippur - Monday, Sept. 28th at 10 a.m. Yiskor 12:30 pm; Nila (Closing Service) 5 pm; BreakFast $10 several local rabbis and about two dozen kids clad in Kings T-shirts. Skip Rosenbloom, board president of the Jewish Fed- eration of the Sacramento Region, sat alongside Casspi, as did the Kings' brass, in- cluding co-owners Joe and Gavin Maloof. The federation helped the Kings organize the welcome event, sending out to an e-vite to many members of the community. "The Jewish community is the warmest community, " said Casspi, who was wearing a business suit instead of his No. 18 Kings jersey. "The first season in the NBA is very hard, and I hope to see you in the stands." Then he posed for photo after photo with just about every one of the roughly 70 guests in attendance, each one taking home the image in a silver frame wrapped with a purple bow. Among those lining up to shake hands with Casspi were California Senate Pro- tern Darrell Steinberg, Israeli Consul General Akiva Tor, Sacramento City Councilman Steve Cohn and Sacramento County Superintendent of Schools Dave Gordon. "It's a rare occasion to stand in a room full of Jews and we all agree on something, " Rosenbloom joked. "We are thrilled to welcome Omri to our community...I'm sure Jewish season ticket holders will increase." Flickering tea lights added a touch of softness to the Kings' practice facility in Arco Arena. Guests leaned on or sat at tables cloaked in the Kings' signature purple as they snacked on kosher appetizers during the event, which lasted about two hours. "This is a very historic day for all of us,', Gavin Maloof said. "We are delighted to have the first Israeli NBA player. Since we drafted Omri, we've acquired 7.4 million new fans [the entire population of Israel]. Today is his day, andwe are excited about the future of Amanda Pazornik Omri Casspi of the Sacramento Kings pats Malcolm Brabec on the head as his parents, Susanne and Chuck Brabec, look on. this organization." Selected 23rd overall in the NBA draft June 25, Casspi signed with the Kings last month and could make $3.26 million in his first three years, according to the NBA's rookie salary scale. His slashing offensive game helped Maccabi Tel Aviv win the Israeli Premier League title last season, when he aver- aged 12.6 points per game. But he did have a rough introduc- tion to the U. S. style of play in the NBA's Summer League in Las Vegas last month, averag- ing eight points (on poor 29.5 percent shooting) and a hefty 3.4 turnovers in five games. Geoff Petrie, president of basketball operations for the Kings, doesn't sound too concerned. "What you'll see is a very determined, talented player who's not just here to be on the roster," he said. "I haven't met too many young guys as committed to their goals as Omri." Though he isn't the first Israeli taken in an NBA draft, all of the previous three got cut by their teams and never played in an NBA game. As a first-round pick with a guaranteed contract, Casspi is unlikely to get cut. About a week after Sacra- mento drafted Casspi, Kings fans Chuck and Susanne Bra- bec were on a trip to Israel with their synagogue, Mosaic Law Congregation, a Conservative shul in Sacramento. Along with their son Malcolm, the Brabecs met with Casspi's family and presented them with some black and purple swag. "We got off the plane and went straight to the Casspi residence," Chuck Brabec said. "We brought Kings shirts and left them. After all, where will you get a Sacramento Kings shirt in Israel?" As Casspi sifted through the lingering crowd to make his exit, he acknowledged the importance ofhavingastrong fan base, especially during his first season. "That will make the dif- ference," Casspi said. "To see great people welcoming me warmed my heart." Reprinted with permission from j. the Jewish weekly of Northern California, www. Staff writer Amanda Pazornik also blogs at blog/author/9/amanda.