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November 20, 2009

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PAGE 20A HERITAGE FLORIDA JEWISH NEWS, NOVEMBER 20, 2009 By Uriel Heilman WASHINGTON (JTA}-- When the White House chief of staff took to the podium at the federations' GeneralAssembly to call for Israeli-Palestinian negotiations without precon- ditions, he sounded almost exactly like Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu a day earlier. "All issues should be re- solved through negotiations," Rahm Emanuel said Tuesday to delegates at the Jewish Fed- erations of NorthAmerica's an- nual meeting. "No one should allow the issue of settlements to distract from the overarch- ing goal of lasting peace." On Nov. 9, Netanyahu used the GApodium to appeal to Pal- estinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas to return to the negotiating table. "Let us seize the moment to reach an historic agreement; let us begin talks immediately," Netanyahu said. Palestinian Authority lead- ers say they will not negotiate unless Israel commits to a full settlement freeze. To some extent, the Obama adminis- tration is to blame for the in- transigence; the Palestinians adopted that position only once the Obama administration insisted earlier this year that Israel commit to a full freeze. U.S. administration officials have since tempered their position, praising the conces- sions Netanyahu is willing to make on Jewish settlement construction in the West Bank. During a visit to Jerusalem a week and a half ago, U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton called Israel's concessions "unprecedented." Speaking at a joint news conference with Netanyahu. Clinton said. "What the prime minister has offered in specif- ics of a restraint on the policy of settlements which he has just described no new starts for example is unprecedented in the context of prior to ne- gotiations." - The U.S. position shift, while pleasing Israel, has angered many in the Arab world and left the Palestinian leadership in a difficult spot. If Palestinian leaders give up their insistence for a full settlement freeze before re- turning to negotiations, they will be seen as betraying the Call Jeff at 407 87 cause. If they hold firm, peace talks will remain stalled. The convergence of the Israeli and U.S. positions on Is- raeli-Palestinian negotiations comes amid some concern about the Obama-Netanyahu relationship. Their meeting on the night of Nov. 9 was under unusual circumstances, taking place well past the time Netanyahu could exploit a handshake with Obama for Israel's eve- ning news back home--and there wasn't even a public handshake. In a rare move, the White House skipped both the standard quick photo op before the meeting and the post-meeting Q & A session with reporters. Few specifics emerged from the meeting. Obama and Netanyahu spoke alone for an hour of the 100-minute meet- ing, and afterward Netanyahu uncharacteristically canceled his traditional briefing for the Israeli press corps. Ernanuel called the meeting "positive" but offered little elaboration. The unusual circumstances of the meeting reflect the pre- dicament faced by both sides. It would have been un- seemly for Netanyahu, who was going to be in Washington for the General Assembly, to swing through town without having an audience with the U.S. president. But with the Obama administration trying to downplay its shift toward the Israeli position on Israeli-Palestinian peace talks Clinton was forced to make an unscheduled trip to Cairo last week to allay Arab fears that Washington was eas- ing the pressure on Israel--a high-profile meeting with the Israeli leader followed by a joint news conference could only do harm. Thus, in his GA speech, Emanuel at once tried to as- sure the Jewish audience that the bond between the U.S. and Israeli administrations remained strong while still making clear that the United States is pressing Israel to make concessions to the Pal- estinians. Emanuel went to great lengths to make the case for Obama's support of Israel. noting the "unbreakable" U.S .- Israeli bond. But both he and Alan Solow, the chairman of the Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations and a backer of Obama from the launch of his political career in the mid- 1990s, also spoke of natural "differences and discussions" between the two governments. "Unilateral actions should be avoided and cannot dictate the outcome," Emanuel said. He added that "negotiations must address permanent- status issues: borders, refugees and Jerusalem." Israeli officials do not want to negotiate over Jerusalem and the right of return to Israel of Palestinian refugees. The cancellation of Obama's planned GA speech on Nov. 10 did not appear to be part of any calculated strategy; the president changed his plans to attend a memorial service that day in Texas for victims of the Fort Hood shooting rampage. Once the scheduling change was made. the White House put together a reception for Jewish leaders on the evening of Nov. 9. Obama came but he did not talk foreign policy. Instead. he gave a 20-minute discussion on Jewish values of charity and the importance of health care reform. In his New York Times column over that weekend, Thomas Friedman suggested that the president withdraw from Israeli-Palestinian peace- making until the parties themselves are ready to come to the negotiating table. But in a broad-ranging in- terview Nov. 10 on"The Charlie Rose Show" on PBS, Clinton made it clear the Obama ad- ministration intends to stay involved. "They want us to be en- gaged, to be leading, both by example and through engagement," she said of the Israelis and Palestinians, "As complicated and as difficult as they might be, we have to be there, we have to be working. "Now we may be more engaged or less engaged, de- pending upon our assessment. We may leave the parties to themselves for periods of time and stand on the sidelines, or we may be intensely working with them. That's a calibra- tion. But the overall fact is the United States must be present." Bureau chiefRon Kampeas and staff writer Eric Fingerhut contributed to this report from Washington. b Jewish & Zionist Program Kosher Kitchen Shomer Shabbat Caring staff members 2nd-10th grade boys & girls COMING SOON TO ORLANDO. CALL FOR INFO! ! .d TELAVIV, Israel--Sunspots, which rotate around the sun's surface, tell us a great deal about our own planet. Scien- tists rely on them. for instance. to measurethe sun's rotation or to prepare long-range forecasts of the Earth's health. But there are some years. like this one. where it's not possible to see sunspots deafly. When we're at this "solar minimum," very few. if any, sunspots are visible from Earth. That poses a problem for scientists in a new scientific field called "Space Weather." which studies the interac- tion between the sun and the Earth's environment. Thanks to a serendipitous discovery by Tel Aviv Univer- sity's professor Colin Price. head of TAU's Department of Geophysics and Planetary Sci- ence. and his graduate student Yuval Reuveni, science now has a more definitive and reliable tool for measuring the sun's rotation when sunspots aren't visible--and even when they are. The research, published in the "Journal of Geophysical Research--Space Physics." could have important implica- tions for understanding the interactions between the sun and the Earth. Best of all, it's based on observations of com- mon, garden-variety lightning strikes here on Earth. Using Very Low Frequency (VLF) wire antennas that resemble clotheslines, Price and his team monitored dis- tant lightning strikes from a field station in Israel's Negev Desert. Observing lightning signals from Africa. they no- ticed a strange phenomenon in the lightning strike data--a phenomenon that slowly ap- peared and disappeared every 27 days, the length of a single full rotation of the sun. "Even though Africa is thousands of miles from Israel, lightning signals there bounce off the Earth's ionosphere the envelope surrounding the Earth as they move from Africa to Israel," Price explains. "We noticed that this bouncing was modulated by the sun, changing throughout its 27-day cycle. The variability of the lightning activity oc- curring in sync with the sun's rotation suggested that the sun somehow regulates the lightning pattern." He describes it as akin to hearing music or voices from across a lake: depending on the humidity, temperature and wind, sometimes they're crystal clear and sometimes they're inaudible. He dis- covered a similar anomaly in the lightning data due to the changes in the Earth's ionosphere--signals waxed and waned on a 27-day cycle, Price was able to show that this variability in the data was not due to changes in the lightning activity itself, but to changes in the Earth's ionosphere, suspiciously in tandem with the sun's rotation. The discovery describes a phenomenon not clearly un- derstood by scientists. Price, an acclaimed climate change scientist, believes it may help scientists formulate new ques- tions about the sun's effect on our climate. "This is such a basic parameter and not much is known about it." says Price. "We know that Earth rotates once every 24 hours, and the moon once every 27.3 days. But we haven't been able to precisely measure the rotation rate of the sun, which is a ball of gas rather than asolid object: 27 days is only an approxima- tion. Our findings provide a more accurate way of knowing the real rotation rate and how it changes over time." he says. Price cannot yet say how this finding will impact life on Earth. "It's an interesting field to explore," he says, "because nothing has been done to investigate the links between changing weather patterns and the rotation of the sun. "Short-term changes in solar activity can also impact satellite performance, naviga- tional accuracy, the health of astronauts and even electrical power grid failures here on Earth. Many scientists claim that the sun's variability is linked to changes in climate and weather patterns, so the small changes we observed every 27 days could also be related to small variations in weather patterns. "Our data may help re- searchers examine short-term connections betweenweather, climate, and sun cycles. With this tool, we now have a good system for measuring the pulse of the sun."