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October 25, 2013     Heritage Florida Jewish News
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October 25, 2013

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HERITAGE FLORIDA JEWISH NEWS, OCTOBER 25, 2013 An Israeli soldier to American Jews: Wake up! By Hen Mazzig As a young Israeli who had just completed five years of service in the IDF, I looked forward to my new job edu- cating people in the Pacific Northwest about Israel. I was shocked, however, by the anti- Israel bigotry and hostility I encountered, especially in the greater Seattle area, Oregon, and Berkeley. I had been very liberal, a member of the leftist Zionist party, Meretz, but the anti-Semitism and hatred for Israel that I have seen in the U.S. has changed my outlook personally and politically. This year, from January through May, I went to college By Michael Soil and Olga Yorish In last week's issue, Heri- tage Florida Jewish News published a column by David Bornstein in which he dis- cussed the refinancing of the Maitland campus debt and used it as a proof of a malaise afflicting our Jewish com- munity. David accurately de- scribes the circumstances of the refinancing process. The Jewish Federation was faced with a potential crisis and did its best to save the Maitland campus for the Jewish com- munity. There was some dis- agreement regarding certain aspects of that process, some legitimate and some resulting from miscommunication. But we want to thank David for the straightforward way in which he presented the facts, and for both offering strategic suggestions and continued academic challenges to the status quo. We do disagree, however, with some of David's campuses, high schools, and churches to tell people about the history of modern Israel, about my experience grow- ing up in the Jewish. state, and about my family. I also always spoke about my mili- tary service as an officer in an IDF COGAT unit that attends to the needs of Palestinian civilians who are not involved in the conflict and promotes Palestinian civil society. Each time I would speak, I'd take questions for an hour or more. I have shared my personal story with more than 16,000 people at many colleges and high schools, including UC Berkeley, Stanford, the Uni- versity of Washington, Seattle PAGE 5A University and many others. Many of those to whom I spoke were supportive, friendly, and open to hearing about my Israel. But. sadly, far too many were not. When I served as a soldier in the West Bank, I got used to having ugly things said to me, but nothing prepared me for the misinformation, demonization of Israel, and the gut-wrenching, anti- Israel, anti-Semitic hostility expressed by many students, professors, church members, and even some high-school students in the Pacific North- west. I was further shocked by how unaware the organized 4- Jewish community is and how little they are actually doing to counter this rising anti- Semitism, which motivated me to write this article. This new form of bigotry against Israel has been called the "new anti-Semitism," with "ISrael" replacing "Jew" in tra- ditional anti-Semitic imagery and canards, singling out and discriminating against the Jewish state, and denying the Jewish people alone the right to self-determination. The new anti-Semitism is packaged in the Boycott, Di- vestment and Sanctions cam- paign.(BDS), which claims to champion Palestinian rights though its real goal is to erode There is a Choice American support for Israel, discredit Jews who support Israel, and pave the way for eliminating the Jewish state. One of BDS' central demands is the "complete right of re- turn" for all the descendants of the original Palestinian refugees, subtle language that means the end of Israel as the Jewish homeland because it would turn Israel into a Pal- estinian-Arab majority state. It is surprising that an extremist group like BDS is ever taken seriously, but BDS advocates have found receptive audiences insome circles. Their campaigns are well organized and in many caes, well financed. They A response to David Bornstein's "Community held hostage" deductions and conclusions. We strongly believe that there is a choice. The dissolution of the .Jewish Federation of Greater Orlando would inflict irreparable damage to the Orlando Jewish community at this critical time. We believe that the choice lies in rebuilding relation- ships with new lay leaders of campus agencies who are unencumbered by past grudges and are exploring new possibilities for collaboration. As David noted correctly, the refinance process revealed "flaws in the jewel" but we think that it also created an opportunity not just to repair the cracks but to "reshape" the jewel. We also believe that amid the frustration, the Federa- tion has broad support and a mandate from the Jewish community; ours and more than 175 other communities who maintain some form of federation, which we think is not by accident--federations that once again are adapt- ing to new realities, but not by closing their doors. We have heard time and again in the past six months that the Federation is the only organization in Orlando that can and must bring the Jewish community together. The Jewish Federation is the only organization in town that is concerned with the well-being of every Jew, re- gardless of his or her age and affiliation (or lack thereof). Federation's Bornstein Lead- ership Development Program has been an incubator of the future leaders of this Jewish community. Federation's newest initiative, Our Jewish Orlando, is poised to become the central address for the young members of the Jew: ish community. In another initiative, Federation has brought together more than a dozen young Jewish commu- nal professionals from nine agencies and synagogues for a professional development program that will create a new synergy among our communal institutions. We have restarted regular meet- ings of agency executive directors and have received very positive feedback from them. An upcoming gath- ering of lay and professional leaders of the agencies will focus on issues of mutual interests and concerns. We are the only organization that can do these things. We cannot let them "fall by the wayside." Furthermore, the Jewish Federation is the only organization that connects every Jew in Central Florida to the worldwide Jewish com- munity through its support of the Jewish Agency for Israel and the,Joint Distribution Committee. There is no other organization that will "absorb" this function. David proposes to "turn the Facilities Management Committee (FMC) into the property manager and give the agencies what they want--control of the Mait- land campus." We agree that FMC is a dysfunctional and inefficient body. However, turning it into a new entity will not solve the problem. It will only lead to more ineffi- ciency andwasteful spending. If the agencies on campus are "a band of disparate parts, each invested solely in them- elves," how can he propose to give them control of the campus? It will inevitably lead to the loss of the com- munity's greatest asset. We agree with David whole- heartedly that the major donors of the community need to exert their influence to effect a speedy and signifi- cant change. We know that it cannot be business as usual. It just doesn't work anymore. We have already begun in- formal consultations with campus agencies and major community stakeholders, who have been receptive to our ideas. We are hopeful that these consultations will lead have lobbied universities, corporations, food co-ops, churches, 15erforming art- ists, labor unions, and other organizations to boycott Israel and companies that do busi- ness with Israel. But even if these groups don'tagree to treat Israel as a pariah state, the BDS activists manage to spread their anti-Israel misin- formation, lies and prejudice simply by forcing a debate based on their false claims about Israel. To give you a taste of the viciousness of the BDS at- tacks, let me cite just a few of the many hocking expe- Mazzig on page 15A to an inclusive process and, ultimately, a new structure that, will offer a solution to fis- cal and organizational issues on the Maitland campus and to those agencies operating off campus that are increas- ingly left out of our campus- centric dialogue. After all, the whole point is that all the assets of Federation are owned by the Orlando Jewish community as a whole. Finally, the events that transpired around and during the refinancing process will not stop us from pursuing our strategic goal of building a thriving Jewish community. This is not a time to give up, acknowledge defeat, and throw in the towel. It is the time to stand up and show leadership. The choice is ours and we are up to the task. Michael Soil is chair man of the board of the Jewish Federation of Greater Orlando, and Olga Yor- ish is executive director of JFGO. Why Yair Lapid is wrong on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict By Ben Cohen I'll confess that when I first read about Israeli Fi- nance Minister Yair Lapid's disagreement with Prime Minister Benjamin Netan- yahu's insistence that the Palestinians recognize Israel as a Jewish state, I felt a de- gree of sympathy. Not for the substance of the argument, but for the manner in which Lapid expressed it. "My father didn't come to Haifa from the Budapest ghetto in order to get recog- nition from Abu Mazen Pal- estinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas)," Lapid said Oct. 7 at New Yorkls 92nd Street Y. "Darn right," I grunted at my Mac. The core ethos of Zionism, as Lapid himself explained, is that we Jews are no longer the passive objects of other nations' histories. We make our own history and we de- fine ourselves, for we are, as the Israeli national anthem Hatikvah declares in its pen- ultimate line, "a free people in our own land." But however much we might appreciate Lapid's healthy dismissal of the opin- ions of those who deny the legitimacy of Jewish national aspirations, it is precisely because of those same aspi- rations that his argument is dangerously flawed. When you study what oth- ers call the Israeli-Palestin- ian conflict, and what I prefer to call the Palestinian war against Israel's legitimacy, it should be painfully appar- ent that it is the intangible aspects of this long dispute that have confounded a fi- nal agreement, and not the tangible ones. What I mean is this: if this dispute were solely about shar- ing a territory, equitable dis- tribution of water rights, com- mon security arrangements, and so forth, we might well have arrived at a resolution by now. When you look at other protracted conflicts that have largely been resolved--such as the one in Northern Ire- land between mainly Catholic Irish nationalists and mainly Protestant Unionists and the British government--success has stemmed from the basic fact that each party recognizes the other's legitimacy. How- ever revolting the terrorist actions of the Irish Republican Army, its leaders never sought the dissolution of theUnited Kingdom. Equally, the loyalist fanatics who terrorized inno- cent Catholics in Belfast and Derry did not seek to destroy the Republic of Ireland. For that reason, the North- ern Ireland peace process was able to'focus on tangible goals, like the disarmament of terrorist groups and a formula for power sharing, rather than getting bogged down in a competition about historical rights. That's not to deny the obvious existence of historical wounds, merely to observe that they were overcome. By contrast, *what nags in the context of the Israeli-Pal- estinian conflict is the rejec- tion by the Palestinian side of the entire Zionist enterprise. Regardless of whether they are sitting at the table with Israeli negotiators, or gallivanting around the U.N. demanding unilateral recognition, the essential Palestinian message has, for more than a century, been that the Jews really have no right to be here in the first place. The Palestinian campaign for the so-called "right of re- turn" is the clearest example of what I'm describing. Abbas and the PA, as Yair Lapid really should know, repudi- ate Israel's Jewish character because they refuse to give up on the idea that Israel's Jewish society will eventu- ally be overwhelmed by the descendants of the Arab refugees of 1948 "returning" to a, country that they have never set foot in. As long as the Palestin- ians reject Israel's Jewish character, they will insist on the "right of return." That's why we don't have the luxury of saying, "damn what you think." Recognition of Israel as the historic homeland of the Jewish people shouldnot be demoted to the status of an afterthought, something we'd like to achieve if we can, but won't worry about if we can't. It is, rather, the key reason why this conflict has persisted for so long. As the Oslo process of the 1990s demonstrated, you can only go so far by not tackling these fundamental ideologi- cal objections on the Palestin- ian side. Indeed, negotiating with Palestinian leaders as if these objections don't exist simply encourages Abbas and others toTaise them at delicate moments. That way, they can portray the Israelisas intran- sigent occupiers, safe in.the knowledge that the rest of the world regards the Palestinians as blameless victims. That is why Netanyahu's unwavering stance on the need for Palestinian recogni- tion of Israel's Jewish char- acter should be welcomed as a gesture of peace, not an excuse to perpetuate the sta- tus quo. Peace is only possible if the Palestinians revise the historical narrative that cur- rently leads them to denigrate man analgst for His" Israel as the "Zionist entity." writings on Jewish affairs "Ah,"yousay,"that'll never and Middle Eastern politics happen." And you may be have been published in Com- right. But that's a subject for mentary, the New Yok Post, another time. Ha'aretz, Jewish Ideas Daily Ben Cohen is the Shill- andmanyotherpublications. Dry Bones U.5. MILITARY AID " TO EGYPT 15 BEING STOPPED WHICH THEY A00EEO TO AS PART 01: THE 00YPT/15RAB. 00ACE TREATY. POLITICALCARTOON S.COM DRYBONES,COM WE ALWAYS KNEW THAT SOMEONE MIGHT BREAK THE PEACE AC00EEME00 BUT NEVER EXPECTED IT TO BE AMERICA. ,