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October 19, 2012     Heritage Florida Jewish News
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October 19, 2012

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PAGE 12A HERITAGE FLORIDA JEWISH NEWS, OCTOBER 19, 2012 By Linda Gradstein The Media Line One day, in August 2008, Abdel Karim Shreir disap- peared. For weeks, his mother says, his family didn't know where he was. He then ap- peared in police custody and was put on trial for collaborat- ing with Israel. Abdel Karim had clearly been tortured. "His legs and face were bruised, his hands and arms had rope marks, and his chest had burn marks," his mother Safia Shreir told The Media Line. "He was in very bad shape." Abdel Karimwas sentenced to death based on a confession he made while undergoing torture. Shreir says her son was executed by a firing squad in 2011 and Hamas buried him before she could see the body. She still has no death certificate. Shreir says that when she complained to Hamas au- thorities, she, too, was beaten. She still has trouble using her right hand. She insists her son con- fessed only because he was being tortured. He was not a collaborator with Israel, she insists, and says he would have confessed to anything to get the torture to end. "He was killed because he was a member of Fatah," she said, referring to the rival Palestinian group that con- trols the West Bank. "I want justice for my son." The case of Abdel Karim Shreir is only one of many described in a new report by Human Rights Watch on the Hamas justice system in the Gaza Strip. The Islamist group Hamas, which forcibly took control of Gaza from the Palestinian Authority in 2007, is seen by much of the international community as a terrorist organization. "Human Rights Watch (HRW) found that the au- thorities in Gaza have a broken justice system," the reports author Bill Van Esveld told The Media Line. "They are putting people in prison without warrants, denying people access to their lawyers while in detention, cases of abuse in detention are not being investigated and some people have been executed on the basis of confessions that were extracted under torture." Van Esveld says that at least 100 Palestinians complained of torture in 2011, although he believes the number to be much higher as many are afraid to speak out. HRW is calling on Hamas to make widespread reforms. "We are calling on Hamas to end the torture and abuse of detainees, and ensure that detainees have access to their lawyers," Van Esveld said. "Hamas must ensure that the families ofpeoplewho are being arrested know where they're being held, and are allowed to see them. Most importantly, given all of these serious abuses and the fact that torture con- fessions are being used in courts, Hamas must impose a moratorium on the death pen- alty in Gaza. Innocent people might be executed." Hamas rejected all of the conclusions of the report calling it "inaccurate" and "politically biased." Hamas said it does not engage in torture and there is oversight of all interrogations. The Gaza Interior Ministry also said all of the Hamas-appointed judgesare professionals. Hamas is an outgrowth of the Muslim Brotherhood, a member of which was recently elected president in Egypt. For decades, under former Egyp- tian leader Hosni Mubarak, members of the Muslim Broth- erhood complained of arbitrary arrest and torture. HRW is calling upon the Brotherhood to intervene with Hamas to end its abusive practices. "We were in Cairo and urged members of the Mus- lim Brotherhood to use their influence on Hamas," Van Esveld said. "Since many members of the Muslim Brotherhood themselves have experienced torture and severe due process violations, that they should use their in- fluence on Hamas to pressure them to end these abuses." By Ron Kampeas WASHINGTON (JTA)-- Jewish groups that care for the elderly are looking forward to the election, and not because they favor a candidate or a party--they wantWashington's fractious establishment to get back to figuring out how best to fund programs the groups say are essential. Between the Nov. 6 elec- tion date and Jan. 1, Congress and the Obama administra- tion-whether lame duck or reelected--are set to head off "sequestration," when massive across-the-board cuts go into effect with the new year. Elderly care groups want to make their voices heard on the matter, given the condensed time that Con- gress will have to address the issues--but getting through is hard right now. "It's a little difficult to do serious advocacy. It's difficult right now to get anyone to focus on anything but the congressional elec- tions," Joyce Garver Keller, the chief lobbyist for Ohio Jewish Communities, said. "Everyone is focusing on the election. The best I can do, what I try to do is to keep some of our members of Congress aware of the fact that this is something very much on our minds." The two federal programs that provide the bulk of funding for elderly care, Medicare, which funds care for the elderly, and Medic- aid, which provides medical care for the poor, will be relatively unscathed should sequestration kick in, with its across-the-board cuts of Your in Orlando Real Estate!!!! Over 25+ years Residential Real Estate Sales experience Over $200 Million+ Lifetime Sales GALE MILGRIM, P.A Realtor 407-443-9832 Visit www. To read my Glowing Client Testimonials and my BIO!!!!! Member Congregation Ohev Shalom Parent of 2 Jewish Academy Alumni Jewish Federation of Greater Orlando Supporter ! i REAL ESTATE SER~, ICES = for Sem 2 about 8.5 percent. Medicaid is not designated for cuts; Medicare is designated for 2 percent cuts. Health industry profes- sionals predict that even the 2 percent in cuts for Medicare could prove far reaching. A report by American Hospital Association, the American Medical Association and the American Nurses Asso- ciation anticipates close to 500,000 jobs lost in the first year, Kaiser Health News reported Oct. 10. Even with Medicare and Medicaid spared, however, ancillary programs coming under other rubrics will sharply affect elderly care, said William Daroff, the director of the Washington office of Jewish Federations of North America. "While Medicaid and Medicare are exempt, we are concerned about the devas- tating impact sequestration could have on important Jewish communal programs that provide necessary assis- tance to the most vulnerable among us," he said. "The specifics of the potential cuts are uncertain at this time, pending a report due shortly from the administration. We remain confident that when the election season is over, Congress and the executive branch will reach agreement that prevents draconian cuts from occurring." Rachel Goldberg, who di- rects aging policy for B'nai B'rith International, outlined a number of sources of fund- ing for elderly care that would be subject to the across-the- board 8.5 percent cuts. Cuts to housing payments administered by the Hous- ing and Urban Development department, she said, could within a year see homes for the elderly close units. "People could be evicted," she said. Also affected by the se- questration cuts would be departments thatadminister programs authorized under the Older Americans Act, in- cluding the Departments of Health and Human Services and of Agriculture, Goldberg said. On the ground, this would affect funding for caregiver support, distribu- tion of meals and subsidized transportation for the el- derly. Goldberg noted that it's not just sequestration. An array of laws that the Re- publican House and the Democratic Senate have failed to address are set to B'nai B'rith Homecrest House B'nai B'rith Homecrest House of Silver Spring, Md residents and guests dancing the night away at an "Over 90 's party." lapse on Jan. 1, and some of these would affect care for the elderly. Congress peri- odically votes to delay im- posing "sustainable growth rates" on Medicare spending mandated by a 1990s law, for instance. No such delay has been approved this Congress, and should the law kick in, payments to doctors would drop substantively. The challenge for elderly care lobbyists in the rela- tively short period between the election and Jan. 1 is to remind lawmakers and the administration to focus on the non-defense cuts seques- tration would bring. "There are two major ad- vocacy groups dealing with sequestration," said Keller. "People who sell things to the military" and "those of us who work in the charitable nonprofits, programs that serve the elderly, children, the disabled, housing emer- gency food and shelter." In anticipating seques- tration negotiations, the Republican House has em- phasized the dangers to national security of defense cuts, and is urging Obama to use the National Security and Job Protection Act the House passed as a basis for discussions. "The House has approved a plan to protect our troops, jobs and our homeland," Rep. Eric Cantor (R-Va.), the House majority leader, said in a statement. "We have repeatedly asked the White House to work with us to re- place the sequester, meet us halfway or to present a plan." Regional leaders of B'nai B'rith who attended its policy conference in September met with congressional of- ficials on the Hill to make the case for addressing non- defense cuts, Goldberg said. "We took our people on [Capitol] Hill and talked about the effect of the seques- ter on housing programs and the immediate impact on old people," she said. "Our focus is making sure that deficit reduction does not create more poverty." In the longer run, the Jew- ish organizational officials who deal with the elderly are pressing Republicans for more information on how they would change Medicare and Medicaid. Republicans want to replace some federal administration of Medicare with an array of private op- tions that Democrats have described as "voucherizing" the program. The GOP also wants to reduce federal ad- ministration of Medicaid by handing the money over to states in block grants. Rabbi Steve Gutow, the president of the Jewish Council for Public Affairs, says he has concerns about the vouchers, but that these could be assuaged if the Republicans fleshed out their plan. "They might work if they are pegged to inflation, if there were details that would show they would make it work, but I haven't seen that kind of discussion," he said. Keller of Ohio Jewish Com- munities voiced a similar concern about the proposal to deliver Medicaid money in block grants to the states. If the number of Medicaid- eligible citizens increases, as it now stands, federal funding for the program is guaranteed to increase proportionally. Block grants could cut off that option. In any case, she said, charitable giving, while criti- cal, was not by itself a salve. "There are lots of pro- grams that are public private partnerships which take charitable donations for serving people at risk but which could not survive without government sup- port," she said.