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December 11, 2009

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PAGE 20A By Uriel Heilman HERITAGE FLORIDA JEWISH NEWS, DECEMBER 11, 2009 The Mofaz plan00state now, ask questions later Miriam AIster/FLASH90/JTA Shaul Mofaz says his proposal aims to change the atmosphere between Israel and the Palestinians, so the gaps on the final-status is- sues can be bridged. ward movement rather than being dragged into unwanted agreements," Mofaz said three weeks ago at a pre- sentation of his plan to the Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations. He also sat down for a one-on-one interview with JTA to discuss his proposal. NEW YORK (JTA)--Shaul Mofaz has a plan for Israeli- Palestinian peace. Mofaz, the Likud Party defense minister-turned- Kadima leader, says the first step is the immediate establishment of a Palestin- Jan state with terrporary borders on 60 percent of the territory in the West Batik. Then, over the course of the next four to six years, the two sides would negotiate the final-status issues, including permanent borders. The final deal would be put to national referendums in Israel and Palestine. Under his plan, not a single Israeli settlement would be uprooted during the course of final-status negotiations, and both Gaza and the West Bank would be united under a moderate Palestinian govern- ment. In the end, Jerusalem would remain united under Israeli sovereignty, the large Jewish settlement blocs in the West Bank would be annexed to Israel, and the Palestinian state would be completely demilitarized. -"Israel must initiate for- "Today, we don't have an Israeli master plan for imple- menting the vision of the two-state solution," Mofaz said. "This is the first plan." Absent aPalestinian leader with the willingness and standing to sign on, the only thing Mofaz needs is a genie in a bottle to make it come true. Of course, Mofaz isn't really expecting anyone to implement his plan anytime soon. The proposal is part of a strategy to win some at- tention as he jockeys for the leadership of Kadima, Israel's chief opposition party. In the last Kadima primary election, in September 2008, Tzipi Livni edged Mofaz by just 431 votes. While many political analysts dismissed Mofaz's strong showing as a fluke it was Kadima's first primary, and less than 40,000 votes were cast--Mofaz sees himself as a strong contender for the premiership. Having a plan to talk about allows Mofaz to criticize both Livni, his Kadima rival, and Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, the presumed front-runner the next time Israel goes to elections. The plan itself, however, hasn't received much trac- tion in Israel. Livni has dis- missed it as a political ploy, and Israeli media outlets have shown little interest. Mofaz came to the United States two weeks ago hoping for a better reception in a trip paid for by ORT, the world- wide Jewish educational organization. Mofaz did some work pro- moting ORT during his visit. But if the audience at Mo- faz's presentation Nov. 19 to the Presidents Conference is any gauge, the former general's proposal will be met with great skepticism here, too. "I'm not sure I understand what's new and different about it," one questioner said at the presentation. "I don't understand how you propose to get it done and who you propose to negotiate with." Several potential trouble spots are apparent in the plan. It presumes Palestinian acquiescence to an interim step, but the Palestinians are insisting they won't return to the negotiating table unless final-status issues like divid- ing Jerusalem, the right of return to Israel for Palestin- ian refugees and the removal of Israeli settlements are up for discussion. It also presumes the Pales- tinians would agree to trad- ing the West Bank settlement blocs for territory in Israel proper; the Palestinians have rejected such offers in the past. The plan ignores Hamas' control of Gaza and the pos- sibility that Hamas could trump the more moderate Fatah faction in the next Palestinian elections, which were supposed to be held in January but appear to be on hold. In addition, the plan does not account for what happens if Gaza remains under Hamas control, if the proposed Is- raeli or Palestinian national referenda reject the deal or if final-status talks fail. The last time final-status talks failed, when Yasser Arafat rejected then-'Prime Minister Ehud Barak's offer at Camp David in 2000, the second intifada was launched. If that were to happen within Mofaz's ar- rangement, the Palestinians already would have a state in 60 percent of the West Bank. At its core; the plan differs little from other Israeli efforts to reach Israeli-Palestinian accord. The Oslo Accords awarded the Palestinians interim ter- ritory in the West Bank and Gaza; the territory simply wasn't called a state. The main difference in Mofaz's vision appears to be the size of that area. Mofaz says his plan is about changing the atmo: sphere between the two sides so the gaps on the final-status issues can be bridged. It sounds very much like Netanyahu's stated strategy, which is to foster economic prosperity in the West Bank to create the conditions necessary for peace. Talks between the Israelis and Palestinians haven't shown much progress since they ran aground in 2000. And Mofaz's proposal, given its reception thus far, doesn't seem likely to get the two sides past their current impasse. The question is whether it can at least give him a boost in his effort to move past Livni and Netanyahu. 00ilanthropy roundup: Chabad emissaries reflect on recession By Jacob Berkman The Fundermentalist NEW YORK (JTA)--Some 4.000 Chabad-Lubavitch em- issaries came home to their Crown Heights base for the annual "kinus" earlier this month a conference that includes a week of professional development culminatingwith a grand banquet Nov. 15 at the Brooklyn Armory. If you can somehow score an invite, the kinus is not to be missed, if only for the sheer spectacle, with most of the Chabad shluchim on hand. To borrow from Tablet's "By the Numbers" feature, think 600 tables. 4,000 black hats. 10.000 challah rolls. 24.000 inches of beard, a ton or so of meat and six women. Four thousand men dance the hora at one time for about a half- hour after the emcee holds a roll call of the cities and countries where Chabad has outposts. Over the last year, Chabad has been hit as hard as any other Jewish nonprofit system, but the rabbis with whom I spoke at the armory seemed steadfast in holding to their mission to serve as the unofficial outreach arm of the Jewish people. Chabad houses typically are bare-bones operations as far as organizational infrastructure, consisting most often of the rabbi and his wife. The most developed operations have a few teachers and program officers. Generally run on shoestring budgets to match, Chabad houses spend more on edu- cational elbow grease and personal interaction than on expensive programming. It's part of the reason Chabad has been one of the most success- ful Jewish identity-building projects in modern history. Chabad's director of educa- tion. Rabbi Moshe Kotlarsky-- the night's emcee--declared publicly that not one house has closed since the recession (though there was a report ear- lier this year that four Chabad houses in Florida are in foreclo- sure). But most houses, which generally receive no financial support from Chabad central in Brooklyn, have seen a cut in donations and been forced to adapt. Rabbi Chaim Bruk. for in- stance, starteda Chabad in Boz- eman, Mont., two years ago and said he has seen a 30 percent dip in funding. Chabad houses don't charge membership fees. so Brukstartedwhathe is callinga Chai Club. He asked his regulars to give whatever they could each month to the Chabadin addition to their annual donations. Now he has 25 people giving $t8 to $400 a month. It's helping to keep his outpost, which has a $150.000 annual budget, afloat. Bruk hasn't had to cut any programming. But he also realizes there are projects he completed before the recession hit--like building the state's first mikveh--that never would have attracted sufficient funding in today's climate. And this is in Montana, which has been less af- fected by the l'ecession than most anywhere else in the country. At Washington University in St. Louis. the campus Chabad House has seen subtle changes, says its director. Hershey Novack. For instance, at the free weekly Shabbat dinners, students are being served plain white rie instead of jasmine rice at about one fifth the cost. Also. Novack has had to putoffsome maintenancework on his building. Maurice Lawn Care Maintenance. Landscaping. Irrigation 407.462.3027 Novack, who has been grow- ing the Washington U. Chabad for seven years, suddenly finds himself as the only full-time rabbi on campus after the Hillel had to let go its rabbi for financial reasons, he said. That means Novack is work- ing more than ever. And like all ofthe Chabadrabbiswithwhom I spoke, he said he is spending more time than ever on fund raising,. A number of the work- shops at the conference last week focused on dealing with economic realities, and kinus speakers repeatedly mentioned economic hardships. But Chabad may have an advantage over a lot of non- profits: The rabbis dispersed all over the world believe they are on a mission from God and remain highly motivated to do their fulfillingwork. That iswhy they were selected as shluchim in the first place. "There's just a sense of re- sponsibility," Novack said. Keeping Mumbai victims' names alive:An interesting side note to the Chabad gathering: In the year after emissaries Rabbi Gavi and Rivky Holtzberg were .killed by terrorists who struck the Chabad house in- Mumbai, some 500 Lubavitcher children have been named Rivky or Gavi, according to The New York Jewish Week. Will Israel pick up more of Jewish Agency tab? Maybe a new day is dawning. The Jerusalem Post reported earlier this month that the Israeli government is contem- plating picking up $12 million of the Jewish Agency's debt. Such claims might be a touch premature (according to my sources, there still is no deal in place for the government to make its first contribution to the agency's core budget). But that doesn't mean the JPost's news story is not significant. Quite the contrary. Discus- sions indeed are apparently tak- ing place between the two sides over whether the government can give the agency unrestrict- ed dollars. That could be a sign that the agency's new chair- man. Natan Sharansky, and his friend and political sponsor Prime Minister Benjamin Ne- tanyahu have concluded that a new reality exists towhich they must adjust. Namely that at a time of shrinking federation budgets, American Jews may not be willing to keep footing the bill for some of the agency's more quasi-governmental operations--immigration, ab- sorption and Zionist education aimed at convincing non-Israe- lis to make aliyahespecially at a time when aliyah is down and lacking a mobilizing story. This=is the sort of potential paradigm shift that U.S. sup- porters of the Jewish Agency have a hard time accepting. After all, these efforts have been the fundamental part of the organization's mission for so long. So long, in fact, that it's easy to forget why it was that American and European Jews paid for the settling of Jews in Israel in the middle part of the last century--namely that no one else would or could. The country had a very young government, virtually no gross domestic product and was still very much in its early stage ofeconomicdevelopment. Now Israel is a first-world country that in 2007 had more than 7,200 millionaires.-according to Morgan Stanley. It is also a country whose GDP has grown by at least 5 percent every year since 2003--aside from the 3.8 percent in 2008, while m the throes of the recession. according to the CIA's "World Factbook." Despite Israel's strong eco- nomic standing, the Jewish Agency expects to spend $118 million on immigration and ab- sorption in 2009. Just over $100 million of the amount comes from the organization's core budget, which is comprised primarily of American chari- table dollars from the federation system that the Jewish Agency is free to spend as it sees fit. In short, American donors aren't giving as much, and Israelis and the Israeli govern- ment are doing relatively well. Yet the vast majority of the $120 million that the federa- tions will give this year to the Jewish Agency is going to pay for something the Israeli gov- ernment can afford on its own and, according to a growing number of federation leaders. that makes no sense. Plenty of the Jewish Agen- cy's major U.S. supporters would reject any such talk, but either intentionally or not, Netanyahu and Sharansky appear to be headed down that road to some degree. According to one source with knowledge of the situation, the fact that the two old friends and pofitical allies are even talking about the gov- ernment giving $12 million to the agency shows that both recognize "now is a good time to re-examine the role of the government in some of this." It doesn't mean that any- thing will ever happen, the source said. Any significant shift of responsibility to the Israeli government could take years. Netanyahu and Sharan- sky would have to make a very tough sell to the Knesset. and it may be an even tougher sell when it comes to some lay lead- ers of the Jewish Agency. One thing is clear: Sharan- sky has been stressing the need to shift the Jewish Agency's mission to serving as a conve- ner and promoter of the Jewish people. And as the Boston fed- eration's leader. Barry Shrage, recently said to me, the Jewish Agency has played and should continue to play an important role in developing and main- taining relationships between Israeli Jews and Diaspora Jews. It's a view that echoes many federation officials. What's not clear: Whether any of this will impact the fed- eration system's current system of allocating money to overseas organizations. This column was adapted from TheFundermentalist. com, JTA's philanthropy biog.