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November 30, 2012

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PAGE 4A HERITAGE FLORIDA JEWISH NEWS, NOVEMBER 30, 2012 By Gary Rosenblatt New York Jewish Week Sitting in my home this weekend and read- ing about the trauma the people of Israel have endured under rocket attack in recent days, I never felt closer to Israel--or further away. I was reminded of the story of the hen and the turkey reading the Thanksgiving Day menu the farmer had posted, calling for the next day's dinner to feature "scrambled eggs and the traditional holiday meal." "From you he wants a contribution," the turkey said ruefully to the hen. "From me he wants total commitment." What can we on the sidelines of the Zionist enterprise do for our brothers and sisters who are fully engaged against an enemy that seeks their destruction--and ours, as Jews, as well? It should go without saying, but needs to be said at a time when moral equivalency reigns, that the first thing we can do is, show full support for an outcome that allows Israeli children, and their parents, to sleep at night without fear of rockets from Gaza destroying them and their way of life. That's one of the key messages that Ido Aharoni, consul general of Israel in New York, has been making, virtually non-stop, since the latest round of fighting between Israel and Hamas started last week. In numerous media interviews, sometimes as many as a dozen back-to-back on the radio, Aharoni says he emphasizes two points: that Israel's goal is to remove the threat posed by Hamas rockets to the life of Israeli citizens and to the state's economy, and that the govern- destruction of the Jewish state, has never pro- ment has authorized its army to act without vided bomb shelters for its citizens, preferring limitations of time or scope: the benefits of victimhood when innocents in He makes the case, largely unchallenged, harm's way are killed by Israeli rockets. And he says, that "when one's enemy doesn't play the fact that Hamas targeted Jerusalem, with by the same rules," the conventional methods its hundreds of thousands ofArab inhabitantsl of waging war are obsolete. Taking advantage not to mention the holy mosque in the Old City, of the fact that Israel's army tries to avoid underscores an obsession with obliterating harming civilians, Hamas soldiers do not Israel, damn the consequences. wear uniforms, mingle among the civilian AsforaccusationsthatIsraeluses"excessive population, regularly use human shields, and force" in its effort to stop Hamas and their stockpile their weapons in schools, mosques rockets, Aharoni voices exasperation: "What and hospitals, is the alternative" to fighting back? he asks, Hamas, Aharoni asserted, "is an enemy after Israel has endured thousands of missiles that doesn't value human life and nurtures long after leaving Gaza completely in 2005. the cult of death." This is not about a conflict culminating in Further proof: Hamas, whose charter calls for the murder of Jews everywhere and theSupport on page 23A By Andrew Silow-Carroll New Jersey Jewish News I was cc'ed on a mass e-mail last week that included an article by Rabbi Michael Lerner outlining his solution to the conflict between Israel and Hamas. Not surprisingly, the editor of the left-wing Tikkun called for an immediate ceasefire imposed by an international force empowered to arrest "anyone" who violates it. Lerner objects to the "carte blanche" given by the United States to Israel to ~tefend itself from Hamas, calls foran"international conference" to create a Palestinian state, and suggests a "truth and reconciliation" process between the two sides. Lerner places the balance of responsibility for ending the conflict on Israel, and portrays Hamas, when he bothers to mention them at all, as a nettlesome distraction from the nonviolence that apparently is the trademark of the Palestinian Authority. I'm guessing that the sender, because he did not comment on Lerner's piece, assumed his recipients would agree with it. Indeed, one person offered an "amen," but most of the comments I saw called Lerner naive and one-sided, and suggested he needed a history lesson. One respondent seemed to speak for a lot of the recipients when he wrote, "Why is there an assumption that some of us who are progressive Democrats on a wide range of the other issues might be soft on Israel and agree with this [naive] bulis--t from Rabbi Lerner? Look folks, I'm as hard-line as you can get when it comes to Israel's safety and security. Regarding Gaza, to hell with John Lennon. Give force a chance." I think the last commenL coming from an activist who heads a major-advocacy group for progressive issues, might surprise folk. The trend, only intensified by the presidential race, is to assume that our politics, foreign anddomestic, have become binary. If you're a Lefty, that makes you an apologist for terror, a hopeless idealist, or a dangerously"useful idiot" for Israel s enemies. In fact, I know a lot of folks who are hungry for a two-state solution and want Israel to be as aggressive dipJomatically as they are on the battlefield, and yet feel deeply the pain of Israelis under the barrage of Hamas rockets. They recognize that no country could stand by while an enemy pelted it with rockets and realize that, the squawks of editorial writers notw ithstanding, Israel is showing uncommon restraint'in a region where attacks on civilians are a military strategy, not an unintended consequence of war. If they have misgivings, it is not about the right of Israel to defend itself, or the reality of rooting out an enemy that hides among civil- ians. The responsible criticism of the current action doesn't second-guess the military or the operation, but rather the government decisions that preceded the current claSh and will shape a long-term solution to the immediate crisis. Consider a statement by another Rabbi Mi- chael -- Michael Melchior, who served in the - . . . . ,, Knesset as part of a joint Labor-Melmad hst. I have been walking around lately with an inner feeling that is deep and painful: that despite the fact that what we are doing is justified, it is not a real long-term strategy and has no chance to solve the problem of the residents of the south and of the State of israel," he wrote on Facebook. The alternative, writes Melchior, is a long-term truce with Hamas, combined with "accelerated negotiations for a comprehensive and just peace based on two states for two peoples with the Palestinian leadership team." So what's the difference between the two Michaels? One is obvious: Melchior, as a resident of Israel, has skin in the game. He has established his credibility not only by living in Israel but by serving its people at some of the highest levels of government. By contrast, Lerner is not only American, but his (emphasis on "his") solutions seem oddly divorced from the Israeli reality. When he discusses a solution, he refers readers to his own books and not to a movement or thinkers in Israel, where, believe me, all the possibilities for peace are widely discussed. By neither quoting Israelis nor demonstrating that he is up on the current Israeli conversa- tion, Lerner seems to be writing from a great distance. Of course you can criticize Israel if you don't live there, but you must demonstrate that you are part of a conversation taking place in Israel, which has become that much easier in the era of social media. I'd like to redefine advocacy for Israel not as unquestioned support for the current Israeli government, but empathy with a political culture that is as diverse and argumentative as the Knesset itself. Israeli journalist Yossi Klein Halevi, writing this week for the Jewish Week, calls on Diaspora critics to show humility and sensitivity and more. "What I need to hear from Diaspora critics during war is a sense of shared anxiety, anguish, fate," he writes. Yes, there are distinct American interests in the Middle East, and you don't need a hech- sher from Israel to advocate for them. But if -you are going to inject yourself in the Israeli conversation about,security issues, you need to show that you understand the realities on the ground there and that you can point to the Israelis who agree with you. Because nobody likes a kibitzer. Andrew Silow-Carroll is editor-in-chief of the New Jersey Jewish News. Between columns you can read his writing at the JustASC blog. THE VIEWS EXPRESSED ON THIS PAGE ARE NOT NECESSARILY THE VIEWS OF HERITAGE MANAGEMENT. CENTRAL FLORIDA'S ISSN 0199-0721 Winner of 41 Press Awards HERITAGE Florida Jewish News ( ISN 0199-0721 ) is published weekly Yor $37.95 per year to Florida ad- dresses ($46.95 for the rest of the U.S.) by HERITAGE Central Florida Jewish News, Inc., 207 O'Brien Road, Suite 101, Fern Park, FL 32730. Periodicals postage paid at Fern Park and additional mailing offices. POSTMASTER: Send address changes and other correspondence to: HERITAGE, P.O. Box 300742, Fern Park, FL 32730. MAILING ADDRESS PHONE NUMBER P.O. Box 300742 (407) 834-8787 Fern Park, FL 32730 FAX (407) 831-0507 email: INDEPENDENT JEWISHVOICE Editor/Publisher Jeffrey Gaeser Editor Emeritus Associate Editor Assistant Editor Gene Starn Mike Etzkin- Kim Fischer Society Editor Bookkeeping Gloria Yousha Paulette Alfonso Account Executives Barbara do Carmo Marci Gaeser RichardRies Contributing Columnists Jim Shipley Ira Sharkansky Tim Boxer David Bornstein Terri Fine Ed Ziegler Production Department David Lehman David Gaudio Ter/Marks Elaine Schooping Gil Dombros~ Caroline Pope Letter from Israel Politics in the shadow of war By Ira Sharkansky Ultra-Orthodox parties are off in their own cluster of voters they can count upon. There Israeliscurrentlyintheverballyexplosivesitu- is a squabble among the Sephardim led by a ation of a political campaign that began hours, Knesset Member who has dared challenge or perhaps minutes, after the end ofaweek-long the leadership of SHAS's revered leader, now military operation.Politicians, mediapersonali- over 90, still showing some signs of wisdom, ties, and just released reservists are all over the but impossible to understand without transla- mapintheirexpressions.ltis notdifficulttochart tions and explanations of what he says by loyal them according to where they were politically interpreters. before the operation, nowexpressingwhatcould Parties that aspired to gathering votes on be expected from members of one or another their claims of new directions on social policy party, followers of one or another of the newly are suffering under the preoccupation with ascendant claimants of leading a new party, or national defense. Most of them are joining one or another faction within an existing party, in the easiest and most common themes of As I learned long ago in Fenway Park, you can't criticizing the endgame chosen by Netanyahu- tell the players without a score card. Barak-Lieberman for Operation Pillar of Cloud. It is the height of Israel's primary season. Netanyahu-Barak-Lieberman are united in Dues-paying Likud and Labor members will explaining their accomplishments, and hop- vote early next week to rank the candidates ing that the flurry of frustration will lessen on :heir party's lists. According to propor- as Jan. 22 approaches. They are counting on tioral representation on election day January Hamas to honor the cease fire and impose it 22rfl each party will send to the Knesset its on rivals, along with more portrayals of the proportion of the vote, beginning with the extensive damage throughout Gaza. Theywill cantidate ranked highest on its list and go- continue to threaten much greater mayhem if ing down until it finishes with its share of the the cease fire does not hold, and claim credit Knesset. Currently rankings 1-50 on Likud's for leading a campaign that was destructive list are considered "realistic" (with the lower despite the enemy's claims of victory, with a numbers only "possibles"), with lower rank- minimum cost in Israeli lives, and to produce ings having a diminishing chance to become an extensive period of quiet for Israel's south Knesset Members; rankings 1-30 on Labor's and central regions. list are considered realistic, with both-party Politics being what it is, there is no cer- numbers changing according to each day's tainty in any of this. A faction of Hamas or opinion polls. Both Likud and Labor have one of its rivals (most likely the Iran-linked internal factions ranging from moderates to . Islmaic Jihad) can upset things with rockets or extremists, in the case of Likud to the right some other violence. Mahmoud Abbas might of center and in Labor to the left. repair his image of impotence by gaining the Candidates are travelingthe country, meet- recognition of Palestinian statehood by the ing small, and large gatherings in living rooms United Nations General Assembly. That will and community centers, hugging, shaking bring forth demands within Israel to formally hands, encouraging supporters and being annex areas of the West Bank and other steps assertively polite to critics, before rushing off to punish the Palestinians of the West Bank. to another session organized by their friends, Already the American State Department h is relatives, supporters, or--in the case of sitting urged caution about such moves, so we will see MKs--their parliamentary assistant. The talk, once again how Netanyahu-Barak-Lieberman discussion, and news programs on radio and workbetweenthetemptationsofassertiveness televisionare providingopportunities to those aqd moderation. candidates Who succeed in getting air time. For those convinced that Israel has lost Not to be ignored are other parties. Polls are the upper hand, .its security personnel showing that Jewish Home, under new were rounding up the parliamentai, ians and ship, is appealing to Likudvoters who feel that otherprominentactivistsofHamasandIslamic tfieir party leaders have not been far enough to Jihad throughout theWest Bank early Friday, the right. Tsipi Livni may be coming to the end doing it in the major cities the Palestinians of her publicly ambivalent pondering and may claim as their own. That level of aggression announce anewpartyearlynextweek.Ifso, she is not likely to stop even if Abbas wins U.N. is likely to clip some votes from the other new recognition of statehood, then celebrates it centrist party headedby Yair Lapid, and assure with world class parades and other festivities. anevendimmerresultforherformercolleagues Also in the news are shootings by the IDF and rivals in Kadima, nowsaidtobeontheedge of Gazans who approached the border with of falling below the minimum number of votes Israel, along with claims that those represent required for entering the Knesset. " violations of the cease fire. Ehud Barak's Independence Party has Even for a politics and policy maven like improved its polls as a result of the Gaza myself, the noise quickly tires. Fatigue was operation, and is now predicted to enter the already a problem, given last week's incessant Knesset. Predictions are that the triumvarite and competitive commentary about the mis- of Netanyahu-Barak-Liebermanwill return as siles and the activity of the IDF. The claims of Prime Minister and Ministers of Defense and primarycandidatesareslightlydifferent, butno'c Foreign Affairs. too much so insofar as most of them are saying The greatest portions of the political noise what Netanyahu et al and the IDF should have are about national defense and the recent done. Positions are clear, simple, and repetitive. operation in Gaza. Most are Saying it didn't It takes only a few minutes to realize what the go far enough in destroying Hamas. Reserv- debates are about, and to tire of the arguments. ists who had spent the week sitting around There is a good classical music station, thank- and training near Gaza, with two killed and fullyfreeofpoliticaldiscussion.Andthegreater several injured by mortars or missies, are isolation of my own music collection, or the saying they wanted to go in and finish the additional possibility of absolute quiet. job. Some are more modest, eschew a costly Ira Sharkansky is professor emeritus, ground operation: but say that the air and Department of Political Science, Hebrew artillery bombardment should have gone on University of Jerusalem. He may bereached until Hamas called "uncle." at