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September 21, 2018

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HERITAGE FLORIDA JEWISH NEWS, SEPTEMBER 21, 2018 PAGE 8A By David Schizer NEW YORK (JTA)IIn business, an effective plan- ning process is essential for success. During the High Holidays, Jews are urged to engage in this sort of process for our own lives. We reflect on the past year, seeking lessons to help us in the coming year. Are we committed to the right ideals? Are we living up to them? When others need us, do we answer the call? As we look for opportunities to help others in the new year, and consider the best way to do so, we should remember a group that too often is forgot- ten: elderly Jews in the former Soviet Union. They have lived unimagin- ably difficult lives. Most en- dured the devastation of World War II, and nearly half survived the Holocaust. All lived under a communist regime that dis- criminated relentlessly against Jews and dismantled Jewish institutions. They are also the world's poorest Jews, unable to buy basic necessities. Even retired engineers and doctors have government pensions as low as $2 per day. While the elderly popula- tion of post-Soviet states generally rely on their children for care, elderly Jews often are alone. Many of their relatives left the region decades ago when more than 1.5 million Jews immigrated to Israel, West- ern Europe and the United States following the fall of communism. For almost three decades, my organization has mounted a historic humanitarian effort to provide life-saving care to these elderly Jews. The impact of this support is incalculable. It is no exaggeration to say that thousands would die without it. To save over 90,000 lives, we are spending approximately $115 million this year on food, medicine, winter relief and home care. The Claims Con- ference provides approximate- ly $90 million for Holocaust survivors, and another $25 million comes from the Jew- ish Federations of North America, the International Fellowship of Christians and Jews, World Jewish Relief, the Maurice and Vivienne Wohl Charitable Foundation and other partners. Although these sums are large in the aggregate, the cost per person is astonish- ingly low. On average, for clients who do not receive Holocaust restitution, $21 pays for food and medicine for an entire month. On av- erage, $4 pays for an hour of home care. Unfortunately, providing this care is becoming more difficult. Our costs are ris- ing. Inflation in Ukraine is 9 percent, and wages for care workers have increased significantly. We also face a major long- term challenge: the end of Holocaust restitution This year, restitution covers ap- proximately 80 percent of the program's budget. But this funding is available only for Holocaust survivors. Even though restitution dollars increased in 2018--since survivors need more care as they age--this funding level will decline inevitably over the coming decade as survivors pass away. But after this funding is gone, elderly Jews who are not survivors will still need life-saving care, and we have over 45,000 of those clients today. Caring for them will be much more difficult, since restitution has helped fund our infrastructure: a network of welfare centers to provide supervision, train- ing, financial oversight, and places for elderly and others to gather In the spirit of the High Holidays, my organization has responded to these challenges with an extended period of self-reflection and analysis over the past two years. We know we cannot abandon these elderly Jews. We are committed to maintaining life-saving care. But we can- not keep providing it in the same way that we have before. So we have resolved to modernize and streamline our operations to get the most out of every dollar. For example, instead of delivering food, we provide bank cards to those who can buy food themselves. We also are consolidating welfare centers in places where the number of elderly we care for has declined sig- nificantly. To be clear: Clients are con- tinuing to receive the indi- vidual care that has sustained them all these years, but the supervisory and administra- tive functions are taken up by larger welfare centers in the region Heartbreakingly, the el- derly we serve in these places have to adjust to changes that can take an emotional toll, ones we are trying to alleviate as best we can. Such changes have attracted attention in the media recently when we closed large buildingslex- pensive to maintain and often where community gatherings traditionally take place--to ensure ongoing care for those who remain. To alleviate this stress on people who have already suf- fered so much, we are making accommodations where we can to continue the same or similar activities. Indeed, for Rosh Hashanah this year, thousands of elderly will still celebrate the holidays in a series of festive lectures and concerts, cooking workshops and cultural performances. They will also be visited in their homes by volunteers delivering apples and honey. By dispatching more vol- unteers like these around the regionlespecially young people--we will combat lone- liness, a critical issue facing these elderly. In addition to comforting lonely seniors, this program builds a sense of obligation among the volunteers themselves. Over time, these future communal leaders will help shoulder more of the responsibility of providing care. In Ukraine recently, an elderly woman called the help she received from us "the sunshine in my window." In the coming years, there will be tens of thousands of seniors just like her, desper- ate for the warmth of that same sunshine. But it's only together that we can can provide this aid. In doing so, we elevate our concept of community to a global scale. By helping those most in need, we're being true to our best selves, not just in 5779 but for future generations. DavidM. Schizeris the CEO of the American Jewish Joint Distribution Committee. The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of JTA or its parent company, 70 Faces Media. By Kenneth Jacobson NEW YORK (JTA)--It has become conventional wisdom in certain circles that the Oslo agreement between Israel and the Palestinians, which was signed 25 years ago Sept. 13, 1993, on the White House lawn, was simply a failure. There is no doubt that the great hopes of Israeli- Palestinian peace and rec- onciliation engendered by Oslo have not been realized. Twenty-five years later not only is there no peace, but the parties are not even talking to each other and the Pales- tinians themselves remain irreconcilably divided. Moreover, not only was peace not accomplished, but soon after Osio was signed, Palestinian terrorism surged, leading many on the right to argue that ceding territory to the Palestinians and the general show of perceived weakness by Israel at Oslo had emboldened the terrorists. While this reading of the cause of terrorism was too monolithic--there have been surges of terrorism during periods of stagnation and frustration with the status quo--it did speak to the uncertainties surrounding Palestinian extremism and terrorism and the simplifi- cation by some on the left about Palestinian behavior and thinking. Atthe same time, in certain left-wing circles, it is assumed the assassination of Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin by a right-wing extremist opposed to the peace process was the main reason the hopes of Osio never came to fruition. If only Rabin had lived, the argument goes, there would be Israeli- Palestinian peace. There is no doubt that Rabin's unique credibility as a defender of Israel's security, together with his willingness to take a bold initiative with Israel's longtime enemy, the PLO, was not easily replicated. The loss of Rabin at that critical moment not only was one of the saddest days in the history of the nation, but also hurt the chances for peace. Rabin's death was a disaster in many ways, but whether it was the major factor in the stalling of peace efforts re- mains questionable. Indeed, in addition to the outbreak of suicide terrorist attacks at that time, there is no real evidence that had Rabin lived there might have been peace. The Palestinians had not made the qualitative leap toward accepting Israel's legitimacy that was necessary for an agreement. When twice later on, at Camp David in 2000 and at Annapolis in 2008, Israeli leaders offered far more than Oslo for the actual creation of an independent Palestinian state and the dismantlement of many settlements, the Palestinians couldn't bring themselves to say "yes." Still, there is reason to look back at Oslo as an important step forward in the painfully slow process of legitimizing Israel in the Arab world and in establishing a framework for Israeli-Palestinian recon- ciliation. Let's remember that before Oslo, Palestinians of all stripes simply spoke the language of rejectionism, of denial of the right of Israel to exist. It's not to say by any stretch of the imagination that that way of thinking has disap- peared--Hamas is the most blatant example of this--but Palestinian Authority Presi- dent Mahmoud Abbas himself and other members of the P.A. engage at times in such rhetoric. But it is vital to recognize that since Oslo, with all the disappointments that have followed, there is an alter- native narrative, reflected in the words of Abbas, but also in public opinion polls among Palestinians. This is a language, however grudging, of accepting Israel's existence and the need to find a solution based on two states. One can question Abbas' sincerity when he talks about two states for two peoples, or when he condemns terrorism, or when he cooperates with Israeli security forces, but at least it is now part of the public dialogue and rheto- tic--something that was not true before Oslo. And from the Israeli side, Oslo concretized the concept of Palestinian self-govern- ment, through the estab- lishment of the Palestinian Authority and the aspiration of a two-state solution, which until that point had been con- sidered purely theoretical or unrealistic. There is enduring cynicism among the Palestin- ian leadership and its struc- tures, and polls today show little drive for or expectation of a two-state solution among both the Israeli leadership and public. However, the framework established at Oslo remains to be built upon or adjusted at a time when con- ditions are more conducive for direct Israeli-Palestinian engagement. The challenge going for- ward is not simply to reject Oslo but to move its concep- tual breakthroughs into the practical realm. In this regard, there are responsibilities on all sides. After the terrorism Oslo on page 14A By Yoni Ben Menachem (The Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs via JNS)--The statement from the Jordanian government spokeswoman Jumana Ghunaimat about Palestinian Authority leader Mahmoud Abbas's comments on a new U.S. proposal for a Jordanian-Palestinian con- federation was short and to the point: "The matter is not an option. Jordan supports a two-state solution and an independent Palestinian state along the 1967 borders." According to senior Fatah officials, Abbas shared the proposal, which came from U.S. President Donald Trump, with a group of Peace Now activists with the goal of caus- ing a public furor in Israel by demanding that Israel, too, be part of said confederation. He knows that Israel is afraid of becoming a Jewish minority among Palestinians in the West Bank and Gaza Strip, as well as the Palestinians in Jordan, particularly after the passing of the nation- state law. The Jordanian royal family has never forgotten the events of Black September in 1970, when Palestinian groups belonging to the PLO tried to seize the Hashemite kingdom and assassinate King Hussein, who was forced to declare war on them. As a result, 3,400 Palestinians were killed and tens of thousands wounded. The Jordanian security forces lost 537 people but success- fully ousted the terrorist groups from the kingdom, securing the continued rule of King Hussein, the father of the reigning king, Abdullah II. Those events are still seared intoAbdullah's memory. Make no mistake: His current alli- ance with Abbas stems from vested interested. He knows very well that the PLO has wanted to take over the Hashemite kingdom and oust the royal family from power for years, but he needs his Palestinian ally because he fears that Trump's "deal of the century" will hurt Jordan's special status as guardian of Islamic holy sites in eastern Jerusalem. A confederation is a govern- ment alliance between two or more independent states, and a confederation of Jordan and the Palestinian Authority would require the establish- ment of an independent Palestinian state in the West Bank. It's unclear whether this was Trump's intention when his envoy floated the confederation idea. Appar- ently, he meant a Palestinian state in the West Bank that would exclude the Gaza Strip and would comprise isolated, demilitarized administrative areas with ties to Jordan, which would be responsible for defending the confederation and its borders. But the Jordanians are worried that the Trump ad- ministration's confederation idea is an Israeli idea in Ameri- can wrappings, designed to remove Israel's demographic concerns, cancel the "right of return" demanded by Pal- estinian refugees and foist responsibility for fighting Palestinian terrorism onto Jordan. In 1988, Jordan made the strategic decision to cut itself off from the West Bank. It's no coincidence that Abdul- lah is keeping away from the idea of a confederation like poison; he wants to keep Jordan's borders as they are, and fears that if the idea is implemented, the Palestin- ians will take his country and depose the Hashemite royal house. Yoni Ben-Menachem is a fellow at the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs. Inside the New York Times Editorial Dept. Hey guys, Judas Iscariot. just sent us a I ill r piece, we'll print if as by anonymous.