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November 26, 2010

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PAGE 2A HERITAGE FLORIDA JEWISH NEWS, NOVEMBER 26, 2010 What can Israel and Palestinians figure out in 90 days? By Ron Kampeas WASHINGTON (JTA)-- What can happen in 90 days? That's the question Mid- dle East observers are ask- ing as Israel and the United States move closer to a deal on a 90-day West Bank Jew- ish settlement freeze to lure the Palestinians back to the negotiating table and revive peace talks. A seven-hour tete-a-tete recently between U.S. Sec- retary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu resulted in new willingness by Netanyahu to press his Cabinet to agree to another settlement freeze. In exchange, the United States reportedly offered 20 F-35 fighter jets and $3 billion in weapons, as well as a pledge not to seek any further settlement freezes. Clinton reportedly also promised Netanyahu that the U.S. would veto any at- tempt by the Palestinians to get the U.N. Security Coun- cil to recognize a unilateral declaration of statehood, and that the Obama admin- istration would intensify efforts to isolate Iran. Netanyahu's refusal to extend the first 10-month freeze when it lapsed Sept. 26 prompted the Palestin- ians to suspend direct talks that had been renewed four weeks earlier. It wasn't clear by press time whether Netanyahu would be able to persuade his Cabinet to accept the pro- posal. An Israeli official told The Associated Press that the Cabinet was awaiting a written U.S. proposal and would not vote on the matter by Nov. 17, as planned. It also was not clear whether the Palestinians would accept the proposal. One thing that is clear, Middle East experts said: Even if such hurdles are overcome, three months are unlikely to produce any major breakthroughs. Aaron David Miller, a ne- gotiator whose experience spanned the administra- tions of the first President Bush, President Clinton and the second President Bush, said Netanyahu could not possibly deliver the minimum demands of the Palestinians within 90 days: borders that conform to the pre-1967 lines, albeit with land swaps, and com- promises on Jerusalem and refugees. "There's no way that Ben- jamin Netanyahu can make a deal with the government he now has," said Miller, now a scholar at the Woodrow Wilson International Center and author of "The Much Too Promised Land: America's Elusive Search for Arab- Israeli Peace." Instead, Miller said, the best the Americans could hope for was to get Netan- yahu and Palestinian Au- Avi Ohayon/FLASH90/JTA Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu meets Nov. 11 with U.S. Secretary of State HiUary Clinton in New York. The two reportedly are close to a deal for Israel to freeze settlement construction for another 90 days. thority President Mahmoud Abbas to the point where they trust one another enough to stick with the pro- cess. Instead of the Obama administration "owning" the process, Miller said, the Palestinians and the Israelis would be committed to the talks to the point where they would not need American prodding. "You need Netanyahu and Abbas thinking the other Beck under fire over Soros comments guy is serious and I will stretch to meet his needs," Miller said. Another tack, suggested Steven Spiegel, a political science professor at UCLA, would be for the sides to agree on the settlement blocs that eventually would become part of Israel, and that there would be a one- for-one land swap with a future Palestinian state for these lands. That would allow Israel to build unfet- tered in those blocs while bringing the Palestinians a step closer to recognized statehood. "The aim is to settle the settlement question and get it off the table," Spiegel said, noting that it has been the principal issue vexing talks until now. Much could stand in the way of such an outcome, not least of which is the distance that still separates 90 Days on page 23A By Ron Kampeas and Ami Eden WASHINGTON (JTA)-- Fox News provocateur Glenn Beck spent several days tak- ing aim at billionaire busi- nessman and philanthropist George Soros, but so far--at least within Jewish circles-- the barrage appears to be backfiring. On his radio and TVshows recently, Beck portrayed Soros as running a shadow government bent on con- trolling the global economy. Some liberal pundits and organizations responded by accusing Beck of relying on anti-Semitic tropes. But the widest range of condemna- tions came in response to Beck's Nov. 10 comments on Soros' childhood activities during the Holocaust: "And George Soros used to go around with this anti- Semite and deliver papers to the Jews and confiscate their property and then ship Gage Skidmore Some Jewish groups are saying that Glenn Beck (above) went too far with his criticism of George Soros. them off," Beck said. "And George Soros was part of it. He would help confiscate the stuff. It was frightening. "Here's a Jewish boy helping send the Jews to the death camps. And I am certainly not saying that George Soros enjoyed that, even had a choice. I mean, he's 14 years old. He was surviving. So I'm not making a judgment. That's between him and God. As a 14-year-old boy, I don't know what you would do." In fact Soros, then 13 and living under the protection of a non-Jewish Hungarian, on one occasion joined the older man when he was or- dered by Nazis to inventory the estate of a Hungarian Jew who had fled. On an- other occasion, the local Jewish council had ordered Soros to deliver letters to local lawyers. Soros' father, Tivadar, realized the letters were to Jewish lawyers and meant to expedite their de- portation. He told his son to warn the targets to flee and ended the boy's work with the council. Soros, 80, has been slammed in some Jewish circles over his calls for increased U.S. engagement in the Middle East peace pro- cess and his strong criticism of Israeli policies. In recent months, some pro-Israel advocates and pundits have ripped J Street for accepting his money and lying about it. And during the Bush administration, it was Soros who was accused of unfairly playing the Holocaust card when he compared the Bush administration to the Nazis and communist regimes. This lime around, though, the loudest Jewish voices belong to those defending Soros from Beck's attacks. "This is the height of ignorance or insensitivity, or both," said Abraham Foxman, the director of the Anti-Defamation League. "As a kid, at 6, I spit at Jews--does that make me part of the Nazi machine?" Foxman said, referring to the fact that as a child he was protected by non-Jews who had not revealed his background to him. "There's an arrogance here for Glenn Beck, a non-Jew, to set the standards of what makes a good Jew." Elan Steinberg, the vice president of the American Gathering of Holocaust Survivors and their Descen- dants, called Beck's attack "improper." "When you make a par- ticularly monstrous accusa- tion such as this, you have to have proof," he said. "I have seen no proof." In the clearest sign that Beck may have overreached within Jewish circles, Jona- than Tobin of the conserva- tive journal Commentary also took to the blogosphere to slam Beck. "Political commentary that reduces every person and every thing to pure black and white may be entertaining, but it is often misleading," wrote Tobin, who noted that he and his publication can usually be found in the camp of those bashing Soros. "There is much to criticize about George Soros's career, and his current political ac- tivities are troubling. But Beck's denunciation of him is marred by ignorance and offensive innuendo." Tobin echoed some liberal pundits in accusing Beck of taking Soros' comments out of context, including a recording of the philan- thropist discussing his ef- forts to undermine various governments. According to Tobin, Beck failed to make clear that Soros was talking about his support of Cold War-era dissidents in the Soviet Union and Soviet satellite states. "In other words," Tobin wrote, "while Soros's cur- rent politics is abhorrent, he was one of the good guys when it came to the fight against Soviet com- munism." Beck on page 23A Porn claims made and AIPAC officials admit lack of policy on classified info By Ron Kampeas WASHINGTON (JTA)-- AIPAC officials acknowledged in depositions that the organi- zation only recently adopted a stated policy forbidding the re- ceipt of classified information. The depositions also produced claims regarding the viewing of pornographic materials on office computers. The depositions are part of a brief filed earlier this month in the District of Columbia Superior Court by lawyers for the American Israel Public Affairs Committee seeking the dismissal of a defamation lawsuit by Steve Rosen, AIPAC's former foreign policy chief. Rosen was fired in March 2005, seven months after the FBI raided AIPAC offices on Aug. 27, 2004 seeking evidence in a federal case that would charge Rosen and Keith Weiss- man, AIPAC's top Iran analyst, with dealing in classified infor- mation. The firing came after federal law enforcement officials re- played a wiretapped conversa- tion for AIPAC lawyer Nathan Lewin with Rosen, Weissman and Glenn Kessler, a Wash- ington Post correspondent, in which Weissman and Rosen relay information to Kessler about a purported Iranian plan to attack Americans and Israelis in Iraq. Weissman in the conversa- tion wondered if relaying the information would get him in trouble, and Rosen countered that the United States does not have an "Official Secrets Act," the British law that criminal- izes the receipt of classified information by civilians. After hearing the conversa- tion, Lewin recommended firing Rosen and Weissman. "What happened in the con- versation was that these two AIPAC employees were trying to persuade aWashington Post reporter that they had informa- tion that was so hot that he should print; that they could go to jail as a result of printing it, but they are disclosing it to him notwithstanding that," Lewin said. "And my feeling was that was something that, as I said in the letter [recommending the firings], AIPAC could not con- done, much as I felt that they had not committed a crime." Lewin instructed an outside publicist, Patrick Dorton, to say that Rosen and Weissman were fired because "their conduct did not comport with what AIPAC would expect of its employees," he recalled in the deposition. That claim is the crux of Rosen's defamation lawsuit, which he filed in March 2009, just weeks before the govern- ment dropped its criminal case. In the deposition, a lawyer for Rosen pressed Lewin if he knew of relevant AIPAC standards. "I didn't," he acknowledged. "Itwasn'taquestion of knowing what the standards were. I just knew, in terms of my general experience and my feeling in terms of a Washington lawyer, that if it become public that AIPAC's employees were try- ing to peddle a story based on classified information, AIPAC would not be able to withstand the criticism that would follow the fact that those employees were retained." In the same filing Richard Fishman, AIPAC's managing director, also acknowledged in a deposition the lack of a stated policy. He noted that AIPAC within the last two years has made explicit a policy against receiving classified informa- tion. When Rosen was employed, Fishman said, it was a "com- mon sense understanding," although he did not elaborate how such an understanding was conveyed. Dorton in his deposition said Rosen was fired also for not being candid with AIPAC officials about his conversa- tions with the FBI prior to the raid. AIPAC's lawyers pressed Rosen in his deposition about his decision to contact an Is- raeli diplomatwhen he learned that the FBI was planning a raid--even before he spoke to Howard Kohr, AIPAC's execu- tive director. Much of the material in Rosen's deposition had to do with his viewing pornography on an office computer. Rosen countered that he knew Kohr and others at AIPAC also viewed pornography on AIPAC computers. Additionally, AIPAC's law- yers insisted that Rosen list the AIPAC donorswhose donations helped sustain him between the time he was fired and the time the government dropped the case, in May 2009. Rosen has been at pains not to iden- tify the donors in order not to create tensions between them and AIPAC. Depositions in the filing are heavily redacted, with AIPAC excerpting only those portions that would seemingly support its motion to dismiss. Rosen, who is suing AIPAC for $20 million, said Nov. 16 that his lawyers would file a counter motion by Dec. 2 with fuller excerpts and more material. "We're going to show in our brief most of the reasons they're giving in this thing played no role in my firing," he said, noting as an example that his bosses were made aware of the pornography on his hard drive months before he was fired. In a statement, Dorton said AIPAC was confident it would prevail. "As is demonstrated in detail in the pleadings thatAIPAC has filed, this is a frivolous lawsuit with no merit," Dorton said in a statement. "AIPAC has made it clear during the course of this litigation that it disagrees with Mr. Rosen's characteriza- tion of events relevant to the litigation."