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PAGE 2A HERITAGE FLORIDA JEWISH NEWS, NOVEMBER 29, 2013 Deeply at 9 By Cnaan Liphshiz (JTA)--For Francois Hol- lande, the most unpopular head of state in France in more than half a century, his first presidential visit to Israel and the PalestinianAuthority promised a respite from the daily pummeling over his country's stunted economy and his perceived flimsiness as a leader. In Israel, everythingwas set for a hero's welcome for some- one who supported Europe's blacklisting of Hezbollah's military unit, waged a relent- less war on anti-Semitism and scuttled a nascent deal over Iran's nuclear program that was stridently opposed by Jerusalem. "I will always remain a friend of Israel," Hollande said in Hebrew upon arriv- ing Sunday at Ben Gurion Airport. Israeli Prime Minister Ben- jamin Netanyahu returned the sentiment, calling Hol- lande"a leaderwith principles and deep humanity"---praises that reflect the gratitude many Israelis and French Jews feel toward a man who has transformed France from one of Israel's fiercest European critics into an important ally. Controversy threatened to derail Hollande's visit even before he arrived. A planned speech to the Israeli Knesset was canceled briefly after Hollande de- cided he would prefer to follow President Obama's lead and address university students. Outraged, Knesset Speaker Yuli Edelstein nixed a recep- tion for Hollande and froze cooperation with the French Embassy on the visit. France's foreign minister, Laurent Fabius, ended the row on Nov. 9 with his announce- ment that Hollande would address the Knesset after all. "I know you rely on your own strength for defense, but know that France is your friend and will not allow Iran access to nuclear arms, for it would a be threat for Israel and the world," Hollande said in his address to the parliament Monday evening. "Everything must be done to solve this crisis through diplomacy," Hollande said, adding: "We shall maintain sanctions until Iran has renounced its nuclear pro- gram." In the French media, the Knesset incident received considerable play because it touched on Hollande's Hollande on page 14A Uriel Sinai/Getty Images Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu welcoming French President Francois Hollande on his arrival at Ben Gurion International Airport, Nov. 17. rules By Cnaan Liphshiz (JTA)--News that Norway is planning unspecified new regulations on ritual circum- cision could not have come at a more sensitive time. The announcement last week that Norway intends to introduce a bill to "regulate ritual circumcision" comes just over a month after an overwhelming majority of Council of Europe assembly members passed a landmark resolution against non-medi- cal circumcision of boys. The resolution,which states that circumcision is a "viola- tion of the physical integrity of children," is unprecedented among an organization of the caliber of the council. While the intergovernmental organization is not part of the European Union and cannot pass binding legislation, it is widely influential. Also last month, govern- ment advisers on child wel- fare from Norway, Denmark, Sweden, Finland and Iceland issued a joint resolution in favor of banning the ritual circumcision of minors. All the advisers have adopted the position individually in recent years, but had never before cooperated to promote it regionally. Taken together, the resolu- tions have stoked fear that individual countries may now feel empowered to enact legislation that outlaws cir- cumcision. "Individual states may now make binding legislation based on the resolution--that is, after all, what the Council of Europewas designed for," said Joel Rubinfeld, co-chairman of the European Jewish Par- liament. "This is likeliest to happen in Scandinavia." The developments in north- ern Europe have alarmed the continent's Jewish leaders, who already have devoted much energy to fending off another growing challenge to Jewish ritual life: the budding movement to outlaw kosher slaughter. Late last month, the Eu- ropean Jewish Congress an- nounced the formation of an international working group to tackle anti-circumcision efforts. "The enemies of Jewish tradition are becoming more united and coordinated," said Moshe Kantor, the EJC president. Despite the moves, Scan- dinavian Jews said they were optimistic a compromise so- lution could be found. Ervin Kohn, the leader of Norway's Jewish community of 700, said he expected legislation to be similar to a Swedish law from 2001 that allows circumcision to be performed by licensed professionals. "I don't know what the new regulations will say precisely, but I am pretty confident there will be no ban," Kohn told JTA. In Sweden, Jewish circum- cisers are licensed by the Swedish health board and required to have a nurse or doctor present when the cut is made. Despite the limita- tions, the country's Jews were satisfied, confident they would not be subject to further anti- circumcision initiatives. "With so many doctors in the community, there is hardly a problem," said Lena Posner-Korosi, president of the Council of Swedish Jewish Communities. "It's not a bad compromise and we had to fight hard to get it." In Norway, Kohn has lob- bied for asimilar arrangement and says he has reason to believe the new regulations planned by the health minis- try will bring his community closer to that goal. Yoav Mel- chior, Norway's chief rabbi, also is optimistic. "I'm not really concerned," Melchior told the Israeli daily Maariv last week. In France, the Council of Europe resolution galvanized the Jewish community, which sent a letter to President Fran- cois Hollande urging him to reject the resolution. A peti- tion gained more than 8,000 signatures, among them leading politicians, artists and celebrities. On Oct. 30, Hollande re- plied with a letter eschewing the resolution and assuring the community the practice is protected under French law. "Because of this resolu- tion, the issue was raised, we confronted it and removed the question mark," said Roger Cukierman, the president of the CRIF umbrella body of French Jewish communities. Others are not so confident, citing major progress by activ- ists and politicians seeking to ban the practice. Rubinfeld says he sees the movement to ban circumcision growing across Europe. "Perhaps it can also lead to international solutions," he said, "but I am not too optimistic just yet." The trigger for the recent resolutions was a German court ruling that said non- medical circumcision of a minor amounted to a criminal act. The ruling has been over- turned, but resulted in brief bans in Germany, Austria and Switzerland. In Scandinavia, home to some of the world's most secular societies, three par- ties have officially come out in support of a ban since the ruling in Germany, including one conservative anti-immi- gration party in Finland and another left-leaning party in Denmark. NEW YORK-- More than 17,000 Taglit-Birthright Is- rael participants will attend its free, 10-day educational tour in Israel this winter season, the largest number of young Jewish adults, ages 18 to 26, traveling with the winter program since the non-profit was founded in 2000. Trips will begin rolling out in mid-November 2013 and will continue through April 2014. With more than 350,000 participants during the past 13 years, the program is ex- pected to reach 50 percent of young Jewish adults around the world within the next five years. "Each year, Taglit-Birth- right Israel strives to reach news heights and surpass our own goals and expectations and this year, we've gone way above and beyond those expec- tations," said Gidi Mark, CEO of Taglit-Birthright Israel. "We remain dedicated to the ideology that brining the next generation of Diaspora Jews to Israel is a must, not a choice. It is crucial for the survival of the Jewish people as well as for the bond between Israel and the Diaspora." Mark added that the program itself has undergone avariety of changes over the years in order to attract and connect young participants to each other and to Israel including the estab- lishment of niche trips. This pastyear,25 niche travel groups were targeted to culinary lovers, artists, athletes, physicians, among others. Considered the largest and most successful Zionist project in the Jewish world, Taglit-Birthright Israel offers heritage trips to strengthen each participant's Jewish identity. The trip aims to build an understanding, friendship, and lasting bond with the i Happy Hanukkah From i i Jewish Academy Orlando ORLANDO land and people of Israel and to reinforce the solidarity of the Jewish people worldwide. Since its inception, Jew- ish young adults have taken part in Taglit-Birthright Is- rael from 64 countries, all 50 U.S. states, and from nearly 1,000 North American col- (JNS.org) Last Thursday, Israeli spy Jonathan Pollard entered his 29th year in Ameri- can prison. Pollard, now 59, was arrested in Washington on Nov. 21,1985. Hewas later convicted of spying for Israel, and is the only person in U.S. history to receive a life sentence for spying for an American ally. "It's an embarrassment for America, it's a lack of justice, it's an embarrassment for the world," Rabbi Pesach Lerner, executive vice president emer- itus of the National Council of Young Israel, told JNS.org. Lerner, who visits Pollard in prison approximately ev- ery two months, said, "The clemency petition has been sitting on President [Barack] Obama's desk for 4-5 years already. It's his move." On Nov. 20, Pollard's wife Esther appealed to Obama to free her husband out of humanitarian considerations, Israel Hayom reported. Ahead of Obama's visit to Israel in lege campuses. Additionally, 65,000 young Israeli soldiers from prestigious units of the IDF and students have joined various groups on their tours. Taglit-Birthright Israel has a unique, historical and innovative partnership between the Government of Israel, thousands of in- dividual donors and private philanthropists, and Jewish communities around the world through Jewish Fed- erations of North America, Keren Hayesod and the Jewish Agency of Israel. Visit www. BirthrightIsrael.com. Wikimedia Commons A Hebrew sign in Israel calling for Jonathan Pollard's freedom. March, more than 200,000 Israelis signed a petition to the American leader calling for Pollard's release. Jewish Agency Chairman Natan Sharansky said last Wednesday, "It is our collec- tive failure that Pollard is still in prison. It is unprecedented in the history of the U.S. that someone who spied for a friendly country served even half the time [that Pollard has] in prison."