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September 7, 2012

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HERITAGE FLORIDA JEWISH NEWS, SEPTEMBER 07, 2012 PAGE 17A yearin review Dano MonkotovicJ FLASH90/JTA Israeli ZAKA emergency rescue team examines the re- mains of a bus at the scene of a terrorist attack July 19 in Burgas, Bulgaria. Miriam Alster/FLASH90/JTA . Deputy Knesset Speaker Danny Danon (1) is at a June 12 Knesset hearing on the issue of African migrants in Israel. He sits beside the consul general of the Ivory Coast, who advocates immediate expulsion. Danon chairs a group called Deportation Now. Wessam Deweny via CC A protester outside Egypt's Supreme Constitutional Court in Cairo carries a sign June 14 that reads "No to Shafiq and to the Muslim Brotherhood and down with military rule too." By Uriel Heilman (JTA)--The Jewish year 5772 marked a period of grow- ing uncertainty for the Jewish people. From the threat of a nuclear Iran to Egypt's newly cold stance toward Israel to the increasing chaos across the border in Syria. Israel found its longtime status quo imperiled on multiple fronts. On top of that. a marked increase in attemptgon Jewish targets overseas--from Israeli tourists in Bulgaria to Jewish schoolchildren in Toulouse, France--helped stoke Jewish insecurities. That sense was fueled by calls in a growing number of European countries to ban ritual circumcision and shechitah. Jewish ritual slaughter. As might be natural for those faced with great un- certainties, the Jewish state seemed to retreat to conserva- tive positions. Negotiations with the Pal- estinians stayed at a standstill, with seemingly little motiva- tion by Israel. the Palestinian Authority or the United States to get.things going again. I~rael's left wing remained unable to muster a significant political opposition movement or aviable alternative to Israel's conservative prime minister. Benjamin Netanyahu. In the United States. Re- publican campaign strategists sought to take advantage of the anxious mood by raising questions aboutwhat asecond- term Obama administration might mean for Israel. Their biggest help in that regardwas casino magnate Sheldon Adel- son. the Jewish philanthropist whovowed to spend up to $100 million to defeat President Obama. If there were a Jewish manoftheyear, Adelson the money man reviled by some and beloved by others for bankrolling Israel's right-wing tabloid Israel Hayom, Jewish prbgramming like Birthright Israel and Republican presi- dential candidates--unques- tionably would get the title. It's still not clear how suc- cessful the Republican effort will be: Polls show Jewish support for Obama is down, but still higher than among Americans generally and higher than itwas at this point in the campaign four years ago. The Jewish year started out with a measure of relief "for many in the pro-Israel community as the unilateral Patestinian bid for statehood recognition at the United Nations ended in more of a flop than a showdown. After rebukes at the U.N. General Assembly from Netanyahu and Obama aweek before Rosh Hashanah. the Palestinian ef- fort died in the U.N. Security Council. where a clear majority supporting statehood failed to emerge, obviating the need for a U.S. veto. The only U.N. body in which the Palestinians made significant progress was at UNESCO, the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural OrganiZation, which voted in late October to accept the Palestinians as a member, That resulted in an automatic cutoff of U.S. funding, costing UNESCO some 22 percent of its annual budget. For much of the year, however, the Palestinians were hardly Israel's biggest concern. Intense will-they-or- won't-they-attack speculation dominated the conversation about Iran, while U.S. and Israeli officials held a series of top-level meetings on how to deal with the Islamic Republic's suspected nuclear weapons program. The outcome was more saber rattling, tightening of U.S. and EU sanctions focused mostly on banking and oil, and a campaign of clandestine cyber warfare against Iran'S nuclear facilities. The efforts may have slowed Iran's pro- gram; but they did not derail it. Iran continues to enrich uranium even as sanctions have handicapped the coun- try's economy. On the strategic level. Is- raeli and U.S. officials did not resolve their differences on their respective Iran red lines. Israel held firm to the notion that Iran could not be allowed to acquire nuclear weapons capability, while the Obama ad- ministration said it would not allow Iran actually to weapon- ize. But the two allies seemed ,to reach an understanding whereby Israel would hold off on attacking Iran--possibly through the fall election--in exchange for a pledge to send more sophisticated U.S. weaponry to Jerusalem and more explicit rhetoric from Washington about the military option on Iran. Iran was hardly the Israeli defense establishment's only source of anxiety. The newly bellicose tone from post-Mubarak Egypt was met with increasing con- cern north of the border. The year started with Israelis still shaken by the Egyptian mob attack and ransacking of the Israeli Embassy in Cairo last September. and by a deadly terrorist attack in Eilat the previous month thathad origi- nated in Egypt's Sinai Desert. In 5772. the Sinai continued to be a source of problems. including as a staging ground for attacks against Israel. The Egypt-Israel natural g~s pipeline, a crucial source of energy for Israel that flovs through the Sinai. repeatedy was sabotaged. Then, in April, the government in Cairo al- nounced that itwas halting dl gas delivery to the Jewish sta~. Meanwhile. Egyptian ls- lamists led by the Muslim Brotherhood, the parent orga- nization of Hamas. triumphed in Egyptian parliamentary elections, and in June the country elected a new presi- dent from the Muslim Brother- hood, Mohamed Morsi. While the 30-year-old peace between Israel and Egypt largely held--thanks in part to the Egyptian army's forceful and undemocratic dominance of Egyptian politics Israel began to adjust to a new reality in which the quiet along the Egypt-Israel border no longer could be taken for granted. Likewise. Syria's devolution into civil war raised Israeli fears that the quiet along Is- rael's border with Syria might end. too. The biggest problem fac-. ing Israel along its southern border this year was not the intermittent shooting attacks from the Egyptian side but the continued flow into Israel of Africans most of them economic migrants but some of them refugees--from coun- tries including Eritrea, Sudan and South Sudan. In late spring, riots broke out in Tel Aviv targeting the African migrants" and calling for their immediate deporta- tion; in some instances, cro.wcs were egged on by Israeli polit- cians. The governmentworkd on erecting a barrier along unfenced portions of its bord0" with Egypt, started building3 long4erm detention facility f the migrants, and enacted ne, laws to detain and deport then. But the big showdown h Israeli society came over th summer in the lead-up b the Supreme Court-orderd expiry of the Tal Law. whim had granted haredi Orthodox Israelis exemption from the military draft. Reforming the law was one of the four major agenda items set by the remarkable coalition governr ment that came fogether May, when Israel's centrist Kadima Party led by Shaul Mofaz joined Netanyahu's ruling coalition creating a super-majority in the 120 -seat Knesset of 94 seats. Itwas thatsame issue, how- ever. that prompted Kadima to withdraw from the coalition just two months later, with Mofaz charging that Netan- yahu's proposed reforms did not go far enough and Ne- tanyahu blaming Mofaz for playing politics. Their breakup was. over- shadowed almost immediately by the year's first major suc- cessful terrorist attack against Israelis overseas following several mostly failed attempts in India. Azerbaijan and the Republic of Georgia, among other places. Israel blamed Iran and its proxy, Hezbollah. for the July 18 bombing that killed five Israel is and their bus driver in the coastal Bulgarian city of Burgas. It was the yeai's second major attack against Jews, fol- lowing the shooting deaths in March of three Jewish school- children and a rabbi at a Jewish school in Toulouse by a Muslim gunman. Mohammed Merah. European Jews also were unnerved by what they saw as growing attacks against Jew- ish practice--from the Dutch Senate's Consideration of a shechitah ban (later dropped) to acourt ruling in Cologne banning circumcision that German lawmakers later clari- fied did not actually outlaw Jewish circumcision. Never- theless, the ruling prompted the Jewish Hospital in Berlin and two Swiss hospitals to halt religmus circumcisions, and Jews to worry that other Euro- pean institutions or countries could follow suit. The year was not without its high points. In October, longtime Israeli captive sol- dier Gilad Shalit was released after more than five y.ears in captivity in a swap that saw more than 1.000 Palestinian prisoners in Israel set h:ee. Some criticized the Israeli government for releasing terrorists with blood on their hands, but Shalit's liberation was greeted with euphoria by Jews around the world. In the United States, Is- rael continued to dominate American Jewish conversa- tion. whether with regard to Obama's record, author Peter Beinart's critiques of American Jewish Zionism or the ongoing battles over the Boycott. Divestmentand Sane- " ions movement. . ...... ::;:.-. ?. The White House President Obama is speaking at a White House reception May 31 honoring Jewish American Heritage Month. Marc Israel Sellem/GPO/FLASH90/JTA Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu (r) meets with Mitt Romney July 29 in Netanyahu's office in Jerusalem. L'Shana Tova Tikatevu Bernard A. Kahn, D.D.S. GENERAL DENTISTRY 926 N. Maitland Avenue Maitland, FL 32751 (407) DIRECTLY ACROSS FROM THE JEWISH COMMUNITY CENTER