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September 11, 2009

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HERITAGE FLORIDA JEWISH NEWS, SEPTEMBER 11, 2009 PAGE 23A Project From page 1A governor of a city that until recently was known as the suicide-bomber capital of the West Bank and because the project is being supported by Jewish groups in the United States. Jenin's governor, Qadoura Qadoura, says now is the time for cooperation. "No two people can live beside each other while one is prospering and the other is not," he said. Qadoura and Atar, along with Atar's Israeli-Arab dep- uty, Eid Saleern, are on a U.S. tour this week trying to sell their idea to the Jewish public and win investors for the project. The plan calls for establish- ing a joint Israel-Palestinian industrial park just inside the West Bank that will manufac- ture products such as olive oil and packaged salad greens to be exported to overseas mar- kets via Israel. It also involves setting up cultural centers to teach Hebrew to Palestinians and Arabic to Israeli Jews, organizing women's empow- erment courses and holding sports tournaments for chil- dren from both communities. "The plans are already all set up," Atar said at a news conference Aug. 31 at the Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations in New York. "It is in my own benefit as an Israeli that the Palestinians do well, and we hope that two years from now it will start operating. We will provide the infrastructure from the Israeli side, but this is their project. It is entirely up to them to make it succeed, and that makes all the difference." Robert Zwank, the ex- ecutive director of the Jewish Federation of Western Con- necticut who organized the tour, says he hopes the plan will be extended to other parts of Israel and the West Bank. "As a bottom-up initiative, it has to be supported by people in the private sector," he said in a phone interview. Seven years ago, few could have imagined Jenin as a model of coexistence. A hot- bed of militancy from which Palestinian terrorist groups dispatched suicide bombers to strike Israeli cities, Jenin was the site of a 2002 Israeli army incursion that left many dead on both sides and leveled parts of the city's refugee camp. Now, however, Jenin is one of the places Palestinian and U.S. officials tout as a model of success for a revamped Pales- tinian security force, and even some Israeli officials speak of a changed atmosphere in the city. "I can walk around Jenin without a guard, without any of Qadoura's people," Atar said. "It is now a paradigm of good security and good governance." Qadoura, a member of P.A. President Mahmoud Abbas' Fatah Party, says the project will help bolster moderates among Palestinians and weaken support for Hamas and its radicalism. "We have our radicals and it is of concern, but when we have over 50 percent unem- ployment and 6,000 gradu- ates without work, then they become targets for radicals," Qadoura said. This isn't the first at- tempt at a joint Palestinian- Israeli industrial project. Perhaps the best known is the industrial park at the Erez Crossing, on the north end of the Gaza Strip. Once a thriving commercial area that provided employment for thousands of Palestinians, it now lies vacant following repeated attacks by Hamas on the facility. At their meeting Aug. 31 in New York, Atar said his project would not suffer the same fate as the Erez park. "This is notan intergovern- mental project," he said. "Our aim is to encourage the private sector to invest." Atar adds, "What other alternatives are there, to have nothing in the news but how many Palestinians or Israelis were killed?" Notorious From page 1A had one-on-one relationships with the funders, movers and shakers who could seal the coalitions that kept his former party, Likud, in power. Olmert was sharp-elbowed and acerbic. He questioned the Judaism of Shimon Peres when Peres was fighting to keep hisjob as prime minister in 1996. In the 1993 Jeru- salem municipal elections, Olmert mocked the age of his rival, legendary mayor Teddy Kollek. Yet the very qualities that made him unpopular ad- vanced his party's fortunes. Whatever price Olmert paid in personal popularity for his attack-dog reputation, the other side always emerged a little more wounded. Peres lost the elections to Benja- min Netanyahu, and Olrnert wrested City Hall from Kollek. In his 10 years as mayor, Olmert at times seemed more focused with making it on the national stage. Critics said his dogged plans for a light rail system were a white elephant aimed at enhancing his reputation as abuilder. Yet six years after Olmert left City Hall, the plan is going ahead. All the while, Olmert was never far from scandal. He faced allegations that he wiretapped Labor Party head- quarters in the 1988 elections. Detractors charged that he froze out donors to Jerusalem projects who had not backed his election. Yet Olmert always survived. And once he became prime minister--with Kadima, the centrist party founded by Sharon--Olmertwas charged with hopes of finally forging a deal with the Palestinians. But the persistence of the investigations against him, along with his perceived failures in Israel's 2006 war with Hezbollah in Lebanon, sapped Olmert's popularity early on and impaired his ability to govern. During his term, police investigators pursued allega- tions that Olmert changed the terms of a contract to put- chase shares of Bank Leumi in order to help a friend, that he purchased an apartment on Jerusalem's Cremieux Street at a discount in exchange for favors, and that he accepted bribes in exchange for assist- ing a Netanya hospital--in addition to the investigations that resulted in indictments last week. Dogged by police probes, Olmert announced his resig- nation in the summer of 2008. He stayed on as acting prime minister for longer than many had foreseen. His successor as Kadima leader, Tzipi Livni, was unable to form a new government, forcing Israel to have general elections in February. While OImert was a lame duck, the country found itself in another war, against Hamas in Gaza in January of this year. Olmert finally stepped down on March 31, when Netanyahu's coalition govern- ment was sworn in. While the Bank Leumi, Cremieux Street and Netanya hospital investigations were closed this summer without indictments, Olmert was un- able to shake the three cases for which he was indicted on Aug. 30. Alexander Bligh, chairman of the political science depart- ment at the College of Judea and Samaria, and currently a visiting professor at Notre Dame University, said he does not foresee Olmert's indict- ment to influence Israel's current political scene. "Mr. Olmert has been out of politics; he's a private citizen," Bligh said. Nor does Bligh think the indictments will weaken public confidence in Israel's government. "This is not something that anyone in a democratic country would like to see, that one of its leaders is standing trial on corruption charges," Bligh said. However, the fact that an individual as high ranking as a former prime minister is not infallible, he stressed, is "testimony to the strength of Israel's democracy." Listening From page 5A sermon is theonly part of the service thatwe actually under- stand. That being, the red eye of the critic, is immediately turned on. A voice begins to ask, "Didn't I hear something like this a few years ago?" Or, "Why does the rabbi always have to talk about politics?" The beginning of Jewish homiletics, of preaching to an assembly, goes back to the Torah itself, to the speeches Moses makes to Israel in Deuteronomy. A longtime Torah-cen- tered exegetical form, the modern sermon now covers a broad range of expository styles, sources and topics, from the Jewish response to Timeless From page 20A Or you could, as I did, drive northeast and inland toward Xanthi, another provincial city with a rich cultural heri- tage to explore. Once you cross the Nestor River--in midsummer a lazy green flow amid large, polished- white stones--you leave Macedonia for Thrace, a region whose name evokes millennia of empires: An- cient Greek, Byzantine, Ottoman. Ruled by the Greeks, ancient Thracians were a separate ethnic group with their own language, a harbinger of the surprising linguistic and ethnic diversity that defines the region today. Xanthi is a uniquely Balkan cultural stew. Tiny yet teeming with life, the city is a place where on one corner you Darfur and oppression to our response of who atones for the sins of Bernard Madoff. A sermon on Shabbat or even Rosh Hashanah is a modern invention. Rabbis traditionally only gave a sermon twice a year--on Shabbat HaGadol, before Passover, and on Shab- bat Shuvah, before Yom Kippur. Due to where I daven, I have experienced the Yore Kippur sermon both as a giver and as a receiver. At the minyan I attend, mem- bers are chosen to give a 15-minute High Holy Days drash. Another 15 minutes is left for discussion. After giving a few, and listening to many more, talking is easier. Though the liturgy and nusach of the day beg us to listen, it's a difficult task. The Talmud tells us "the day is short and the task is great." Perhaps on the day when long lists of wrongs are acknowledged, it's time to stop sending short and start receiving long. It's already a difficult day with fasting and Yizkor, and struggles with intention. So as an aid to help awaken your listening skills and sermon focus, try these: On Kol Nidre, turn off all your stuff: pagers, cell phones. Stop texting, Twit- tering. Go long. During the sermon, follow the discourse. Many rabbis will tie their thoughts to a particular point in the Torah reading or prayers. It's a wonderful tradition requir- ing leaps from one thought to the next. Open your book and leap with them. Are you like the in- famous student who asks Hillel to explain the Torah while he stands on one foot? Relax. Breathe deeply. Today, stand on two feet. Remember, this is as im- portant to the rabbi as it is to you. This is not a college lecture or political speech. It's about you. Be present; no racing minds allowed. On a day when the cantor chants "Hineni," "Here I am," You be "here," too. can find Greek Christians wearing crosses around their necks; blue-eyed Greek and Slavic Mus- lims, the women swathed in colorful headscarves and long fitted coats, chattering in a local Slav- ic dialect or in Turkish; gold-toothed Gypsies, also known as Roma, maneuvering donkey carts through Xanthi's crowded alleys; old men ceaselessly clicking their chains of worry beads over coffee frappes; and assorted Mediterranean- rim Lotharios with tight pants, gelled hair and screeching Vespas. Xanthi's new and old cities are wedged into a pedestrian-friendly grid, surrounded by green pine-covered mountains and punctuated with minarets. The historic district, while not as romantically situated or perfectly preserved as that of Kavala, is still a delight. Cobblestoned lanes are dotted with pink, purple and mint-green 19th- century buildings and the grapevine-canopied courtyards that are ubiq- uitous in this region. The new town has pretty pastel high-rises but preserves the nar- row streets of its ancient grid plan. Its excel- lent infrastructure and brightly maintained fa- cades bespeak European Union financing, while its soul is straight out of a Middle Eastern bazaar. Every sidewalk teems with bag-laden shoppers, cafe tables packed with coffee-drinkers, hustlers hawking trinkets, fruit stands, piles of shoes for sale, and the like. In the evenings, youthful crowds head to the am- phitheater for fresh-air concerts and picnics. Nowhere in Xanthi or Kavala will you find an acropolis, a Picasso, a Fifth Avenue brand name or a celebrity-chef boite. You may spend an entire week here and not find another American. But a rich array of landscapes, architecture and cultural traditions await in this faraway corner of Europe, whose ancient byways and pristine coasts evoke lay- ers of history. Hilary Larson is a travel writer for the New York Jewish Week, from which this article was reprinted by permission. For more information on travel resources for Kavala tour- ism: http://www.kavala- Imaret Hotel and Re- sort: n Lastly, listen to the sermon as if you were go- ing to tell someone about it at the break-fast. Soak up the detail and the tam, the flavor. As to the code: Yore Kip- pur is about Repentance, Prayer and TZedakah. Thanks for listening. Edmon J. Rodrnan is a Los Angeles writer and designer.