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December 14, 2012     Heritage Florida Jewish News
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December 14, 2012

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HERITAGE FLORIDA JEWISH NEWS, DECEMBER 14, 2012 PAGE 19A Arts From page 1A different lens: the perform- ing arts. From Nov. 4-13, the group spent the eight days and seven nights in Northern and Cen- tral Israel, getting a taste of Israel's dynamic performing arts scene. "The Performing Arts mis- sion highlighted the many gifts that Israeli society has," said Ina Porth, Campaign chair of the Greater Orlando Jewish Federation and Mission co- chair and participant. "They are avery talented and creative people who have achieved and accomplished so much. But it is the human connection that makes Israel come alive for me. I know that those on the mission will share what we saw, tasted, and experienced with others. It is the best we can do for Israel. It is the land of our people and we should be very, very proud." "Thinking back to our eight days in Israel with the Perform- ing Arts Mission, we all expe- rienced so much more than Israel's history and historical sites," said Orlando mission participant, Susie Kleiman. "Seeing the performing arts in Israel opened my eyes to the talent within Israel as well as those who come from all over the world to study and learn. We shared music, art, ballet, opera, piano, and even a performance by the Israeli Andalusian Orchestra. I also came back with a better understanding of our Jewish Federation as it contributes so much to Israel's advance- ment in so many areas. I feel so fortunate to have been one of Orlando's participants!" Highlights of the trip in- cluded: Meeting with students from all over the world participat- ing in the Jewish Agency for Israel's MASA Dance Journey program, which was launched to bring young, talented Jews from around the world to advance their career as danc- ers, and to introduce them to Israeli culture. The group had an opportunity to watch the students in their daily dance workshops. Enjoying a neo Classical dance performance by the Israel Ballet at the Israel Per- forming Arts Center. Engaging with the found- ers, teachers and students of the Rimon School of Jazz and Contemporary Music, the old- est and largest independent professional music school for the advanced study of contem- porary music. Experiencing the Nalaga'at Theatre for a performance by the Deaf-Blind Acting Ensemble. Participating in aworkshop and music program by the newly formed Jerusalem Opera Company, the first professional opera company in Jerusalem. Enjoying a performance "That's why I'm (Still) Here" by Robbie Gringras, international theatre artist. The show was a celebration of the complexities of life in Israel through stories and songs. Meeting musicians and Kabbalistic artists in Tzfat, a major center of Kabbalah, Jewish mysticism. Experiencing the Israel Andalusian Orchestra, an award-winning Israeli orches- tra based in Tampa's Sister City, Ashdod .The orchestra is composed of 50 musicians and lyricists mainly of Moroc- can and Russian origin and features traditional Sephardic, Jewish-Arab and Andalusian music and poetry. "The recent culture mission the Tampa Orlando Pinellas Jewish Federation Alliance took to Israel helped give extraordinary talented art- ists and groups exposure to a new U.S. market, something Israeli artists desperately need because the 'ceiling' is low for success, and income given its size and challenges," said David Homan, executive director of the American Israel Cultural Foundation. "AICF is proud for the efforts and attention given to Israeli culture, which show Israel as the more dynamic and vibrant society that it is. From Nalaga'at, which will premiere in the U.S. at the Skirball Cen- ter in January, or artists from the Rimon School, who share a special relationship with Berklee in Boston and go on to international fame, the early experiences with these artists can be followed, and enjoyed for years to come." The trip was also replete with culinary experiences, in- cluding atrip to the Binyamina Winery, and the Levinsky Spice Market in Tel Aviv. The group also had a chance to get a geopolitical understanding of Israel today through a briefing with an IDF soldier near the Israel-Lebanon border, a visit to the new Museum for the His- tory of Society and Democracy in Israel, and a meeting with Ofer Bavli, former Consult General of Israel to Florida and Puerto Rico who is cur- rently the Director General of the Chicago Federation's Israel office. The mission also included visits to Tampa, Orlando and and Pinellas/Pasco Counties Sister Cities. In Kiryat Motzkin, Or- lando's partnership 2000 community, the group vis- ited with Orlando's Holocaust survivors at the Mashmaut (Significance) Center, a com- munity center where a Holo- caust Remembrance project is being conducted to deepen connections between Holo- caust survivors and second and third generation residents of Kiryat Motzkin as well as the Orlando community. Porth presented a check for $5,000 from the Federation for Sifiryat Pijama, Israel's version of the PJ Library program, which provides free Jewish books and CDs to children between the ages of 6 months and 5 years of age. The program is made possible locally by all three Federations and the Harold Grinspoon Foundation. In Ashdod, Tampa's Sister City, the mission group was serenaded by a choir of elderly Russian residents living in the Amigour senior living center. They also visited the center's new bomb shelter, which the Tampa JCC and Federation donated$103,000 to the Jewish Agency for Israel during last year's economic development mission to completely renovate the new bomb shelter. Little did we know, the residents would be forced to use the shelter a week when rockets rained down on Ashdod from Gaza. "It was amazing to see the photo of the residents enjoying an orchestra in the very bomb shelter we were just standing in a week earlier. Jack Ross, executive director of the Tampa Jewish Com- munity Center who staffed the mission with me, as well David Scher, one of our mission participants, also presented a Roz Fuchs-Schwartz, Marilyn Crotty, Ina Porth, Susie Kleiman and Shelley Fleet pose in front of Kibbutz Ga'aton, home to the Jewish Agency for Israel's MASA Dance Journey. The program was launched to bring young, talented Jews from around the world to advance their careers as dancers, and to introduce them to Israeli culture. The Tampa Orlando Pinellas Jewish Federation Alliance organized a Performing Arts Mission to Israel. Twenly people from Tampa, Orlando and Pinellas and Pasco Counties traveled together to explore Israel through the arts. check for $50,000 in a special ceremony to Deputy Mayor of Ashdod Boris Giterman to cre- ate a performing arts program for children who are victims of terror. In Pinellas/Pasco's part- nership 2000 community of Hadera-Eiron, the mission visited the BenYakir Youth Vil- lage, which provides a home for at-risk Ethiopian and Israeli- born young adults thanks to the Jewish Agency for Israel. The Ben Yakir Youth Choir performed Hebrew songs for the group on the first night of the trip. The mission ended after our trip to Ashdod on Monday, Nov. 13, and most members of the group went home. But a few of us stayed behind, and the crisis with Gaza began. Mission par- ticipants David and Sara Scher, of Tampa, and Judy and Ernest Lisi of Tampa continued their vacation in Tel Aviv, where they had to seek shelter several times due to the rockets fired from the Gaza Strip by the Hamas terror organization. My colleague Jack Ross was staying with relatives in both Tel Aviv and Ashdod, and spent several days seeking shelter from the constant barrage of more than 30 missiles being fired day and night at the city's civilian population. And all was quiet for me in Jersualem, where I was vacationing and catching up with friends for the week.., until sirens went off during the Shabbat ser- vices I was attending at Shira Chadasha in Emek Refiam. The congregation stopped mid-prayer. Some people, like me, ran into a closet. Others weren't certain where to go. Not sure what was happening. the leaders of the congregatior told everyone to go home. I did not have a home in Israel. So with one day left before I was due to leave, and the situation seeming to escalate, I took a cab back t(~ my hotel, packed my bags, ant hopped on a plane just fou.~ hours later. I returned home a day early, sad to leave Israel behind, excited to have had the oppor- tunity to staff our Performing Arts Mission and experience a rich cultural itinerary witt, wonderful people from Tampa Orlando and Pinellas and Pasco Counties, and now hav- ing a better understanding of the daily reality that Israel and its citizens have to face each day of their lives. Shift From page 2A binding because it was not a decision reached by the [U.N.] Security Council," he told Secondly, Gerson said thatwhile there have been exceptions to the Security Council rule such as the 1947 Partition Plan for Palestine, the 1947 exception was based on the recommendations of a U.N. committee and received support of all Security Council members. Finally, "in law you need a formula for statehood and the Palestinians do not meet the criteria of authority and control," he said. The U.N. General Assem- bly passed the resolution over Israel's objections with 138 members voting yes, 41 abstaining and only nine voting no. Outside North America and the Czech Republic, most of Israel's support came from island-nations like Palau and Micronesia in faraway Oceania, where Old Testament stories of Israelites return- ing to their Promised Land resonate strongly among the fervently Christian locals. Even Israel's regular allies at the U.N. like Germany could not risk breaking with their European Union partners and abstained. Meanwhile, the Palestinians were backed by Paris, Beijing and Moscow, in addition to a solid bloc of Islamic states. After the resolution passed, Israeli officials downplayed its importance. Israeli am- bassador to the U.N. Ron Prosor told that an automatic majority "has been voting against in the General Assembly for decades, rub- berstamping any Palestinian resolution no matter how ill-advised, ill-conceived, or illogical." The latest vote was "another sad chapter of that unfortunate legacy," he said. "Some of those who voted for this one-sided resolution may have thought that they were advancing peace, but they only placed another ob- stacle in its path," Prosor said. Meanwhile, in Ramallah, the seat of the Palestinian Authority, the crowds were celebrating. "Now we have a state," PA President Mahmous Abbas told jubilant supporters upon his return from New York. "Palestine has accomplished a historic achievement." The decision in New York changed nothing on the ground in the Middle East, but Abbas still had reason to rejoice. First, it put his Fatah-led PA back on the in- ternational stage. The round of violence between Israel and Hamas that ended two weeks ago boosted the latter's profile in the Arab world. Arab leaders trying to arrange a ceasefire spoke to the heads of the Islamist group in Gaza while completely ignoring their rival Abbas, still the nominal leader of all the Palestinians. Fatah bet that a successful bid at the U.N. would prove to the Arab world and its own base of support that it is still relevant. On the legal front, if the Palestinians attained state- hood status in international courts, they could challenge Israel on several grounds. For instance, the PA could ask the ICC to prosecute Israel for war crimes: think Goldstone report--the controversial probe that accused both Israel and Hamas of war crimes-- but with legal teeth. If the prosecution went ahead with such a probe, its jurisdiction would not be retroactive. In other words, Operation Cast Lead would not be under its scope of investigation, but any fu:ure flare-ups between Israel and the Palestinians would be. Israeli settlements in the West Bank would also come under scrutiny, given that international law pro- hibits states from settling occupied land with their own citizens. If Israelis were found guilty at the end of such proceedings, it could lead to arrest warrants being issued against top officials. All of this is highly hypo- thetical and subject to exten- sive future legal wrangling, but the IDI's Rosenzweig stressed that the potential for a Palestinian gambit in the international courts is real. "I think it's worth men- tioning the fact that it's a bargaining chip due to the stress that such procedures might cause both internally in the Israeli systems and in the Israel-Palestinian conflict," he told However, Rosenzweig add- ed that such a course of ac- tion might backfire because Palestinians could also be charged with committing war crimes. Regarding the ICJ, Gerson said that if the Palestinians went to that court asking for statehood recognition, he did not know whether they would pass the state- hood threshold--but in his opinion, they would not. Either way, such a course of action on the part of the Palestinians would only lead to conflict rather than peace, according to Gerson. At the moment, neither Israel nor the Palestinians seem willing to back down The Palestinians refuse! to give the U.K. assurance~ that they would not turn tc the international courts to prosecute Israel, and the tone of the speech delivered by Abbas at the U.N. was hardl.~ conciliatory. On its end, Israel an nounced it had approve~ construction of a new Jewisl settlement in El, a crucia strategic area just east oi Jerusalem, the day afte~ the resolution passed. Is raeli Defense Minister Ehu~ Barak said the decision ha~~ been made long ago, but th timing was to "be expecte~ [because of] the U.N. deci sion." Prosor told, "Tht only state we saw last wee was the Palestinianstate of de nial--denial of reality, denis of the Jewish people's history and denial of the only path forward to real statehood direct negotiations."