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December 19, 2003

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PAnE 4 By David Bornstein A Jewish moment in time Something you may not know about me is that I received a master's degree from the University of Michigan in (not creative writing) resource administration. More specifically, af- ter I had graduated from the U of M with an English LitJCreative Writing degree I got a job working at the original Borders Book Shop in Ann Arbor. While there, trying to figure out what I was going to do with my life, a woman I knew recommended that I check out the Envi- ronmental Advocacy program at the university's School of Natural Resources. This program, By Carl Alpert The cup is half full By Carl Alpcrt * Surgeon Khalid AbuAjamia saved the life of a badly injured Jewish settler when the latter HAIFA--Arab suicide bomber kills 20 Jews was brought to the Palestinian Alia Hospital in in a restaurant. Israel's anti-terror fence sepa- Hebron in 1997. Abu Ajamia was enabled to rates thousands of Arab farmers from their enroll for advanced training in plastic surgery fields, at Hadassah in Jerusalem, and today is one of Jewish women and children killed in Arab ten Palestinian surgeons in various Hadassah attack on a bus. Hunger and unemployment departments. Time Magazine reported that are rampant in Palestine authority areas as a last year he found himself treating two victims result of Israeli curfews. Arab children victims of a Palestine suicide bombing in Jerusalem, of Israeli rockets and at the same time a 9-year-old Arab boy One would get the impression, from reading from Hebron who was terribly burned when an news reports, that all contacts between the two Israeli rocket exploded beside him. For Abu peoples are marked by enmity and mutual Ajamia, there are no enemies, only patients. hostility. Little attention is given to instances * Dr. Vadim Aharonovitz had been called up of friendship and good will, many of which forreservedutyandwasmanningavitalcheck never get reported. Some recent examples: post outside Kalkilya one nightwhen an ambu- The St. Gabriel Hotel in Nazareth was lance rushed up from the Palestinian side. He recently the scene of a three-day seminar at- was aware that ambulances had been detected tendedbyJewsand Muslims, devoted todiscus- transporting armaments, but when he in- sion of the many elements, which the two spected he discovered an Arab woman in the peoples have in common, final stages of delivery. He took over control Two nurses in the Hadassah hospital emer- and assisted in the safe delivery of an infant gency room, Ayad Abu-S'ara and Doris Livni, girl. were jointly honored for their devoted service * Despite differences on many issues, Israel to patients during times of emergency and and the Palestine Authority have signed an tranquility alike, accord on a matter of vital concern to the two Fassouta, a Christian village in the Galilee neighbors. They have agreed to share electrical with 3,000 inhabitants, received computer networks, set up a joint regulatory authority equipment, access to the Internet and voca- on energy and study the possibility of setting tionai training, thanks to a generous gift from up a central power station. It is the first major the Chicago Jewish Federation and the Catho- act of cooperation between Israel and the PA lic Archdiocese of Chicago. since the start of the intifada three years ago. Special assistance provided by Israeli offi- This spring a group of 300 Israelis, half of cials~in Judea and Samaria facilitated the flight them Arab dignitaries and half of them Jews, to Europe of seven young Palestinian children spentfourdaysinPolandvisitingtheAuschwitz- who required life-saving medical treatment. Birkenau death camps and other sites associ- Costs were covered by the European Union. ated with the Holocaust. The project was initi- About 20 young people in Israel, ages 13 to ated by a Nazareth priest, Father Emil Shofani. 19, Arabs and Jews, have formed an orchestra The Arabs heard detailed accounts of the Holo- which practices regularly and plays at special caust and stood in silence as Kaddish was events at Arab and Jewish schools. The project recited at Auschwitz. is under the auspices of UNESCO. For the past ten years experts from the Whenan ll-year-oldPalestinianboy, Walid Water Research Institute at the Technion, in Odeh, died as the result of a fall from a roof, his Haifa, have been meeting with water authori- parentshadnoobjectiontohavinghisvitalbody ties from Palestine, Egypt and Jordan to de- organs transplanted into the bodies of three velop a joint program for their use of the Israeli children, thereby saving their lives, limited water supply of the area. A specialized Meetings of heads of municipalities in three-year program for joint treatment and Israel and the PalestineAuthority to encourage reuse of wastewater for irrigation and other tourism were inaugurated in 2000 By the Eu- purposes has just been completed, with impor- ropean Union, but were halted with the out- rant input from other Israeli academic institu- break of the Intifada. Such meetings have now tions as well. been resumed, setting forth itineraries of par- And every week brings fresh reports of ticular interest to Christian pilgrims. Six cit- similargoodwillcooperationthatseldommake ies, three from each side, are participating, headlines. THE VIEWS EXPRESSED ON THIS PAGE ARE NOT NECESSARILY THE VIEWS OF HERITAGE MANAGEMENT. O O O CENTRAL FLORIDA'SINDEPENDENTJEWISHVOICE O O O ISSN 0199-0721 Winner of 36 Press Awards HERITAGE Florida Jewish News ( ISN 0199-0721 ) is published weekly for $34.95 per year to Florida ad- dresses ($41.95 for the rest of the U.S.) by HERITAGE Central Florida Jewish News, Inc 207 O'Brien Road, Suite 101, Fern Park, FL32730. 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 entail: Editor/Publisher Jeffrey Gaeser Editor Emeritus Associate Editor Gene Starn Kim Fischer Society Editor Bookkeeping Gloria Yousha Elaine Schooping Account Executives Barbara do Carmo Marci Gaeser Contributing Columnists Jim Shipley Carl Alpert Michael Gamson Tim Boxer David Bormtein Gall Simons Production Dqmtment David Lehman Teri Marks Desiree Tavera HERITAGE FLORIDA borne out of Earth Day and the environmental movement of the 70s, appealed to my sense of justice and something else I couldn't put my finger on at the time. I dreamed of using my newfound environmental expertise to get a job at a newspaper or magazine writing about hiking, hunting, fishing and protecting our natural resources. I wrote essays on the out- doors and won the prestigious Hopwood Awards at the university with them. After my book- store stint I went in search ofa"real job," found out that any outdoor writer worth their weight stayed in their choice positions forever, and wound up working at an ad agency in Detroit. Today I am (what?) a real estate developer who still loves to camp, hike, and fish, but whose perspective on resource use and administra- tion has changed greatly. But 9ne thing hasn't changed, and that's what I referred to earlier. It's that unquantifiable something that attracted me to environmental advocacy in the first place, and it's something I still seek today. It's the promise of quiet, sacred moments that few things in life provide. I found it when I was younger, hiking a moun- tain ridge in Shenandoah National Park. I found it canoeing the Wekiva River. I found it looking up at redwoods in Kings Canyon. I even found it reading passages in certain books. When John McPhee describes flying into the Alaska wilderness in "Coming Into The Coun- try," I felt it. When Annie Dillard, in Pilgrim at Tinker Creek, wrote about her cat leaving bloody paw prints on her chest after catching a bird outside, I felt it. I felt a moment when time collapsed, when the world appeared crystal- line, when I stopped my internal dialogue and let myself be part of something greater. And I've felt it again recently, which is why I'm writing this column. JEWISH NEWS, DECEMBER 19, 200~ I just started reading "A Country Year" by Sue Hubbell; a 50-something writer for the New Yorkerwho recounts her life in the OzarkS after her husband of 30 years left her to fend for herself on their 105-acre farm. She writes about getting her mind back after her divorce, about the simple pleasures in her life, listening to birdcalls, beekeeping, sharing the land with coyotes and copperheads. It reminded me of the days when I thought my life would take a different path. And of course it's the holiday season, whet1 time runs on a different schedule, with mY children's end of year tests and impending vaca- tions, with gift buying and New Years celebrat- ing, with transitions and sharing with family, and I realize that the quiet sacred moments in my life have transformed as well, not for the better, perhaps, but at least as good as the dreams I once had. They now consist of the moment before my wife lights the Shabbat candles, and soon, the menorah, memories o! my son's bar mitzvah, listening to my daughter learn to chant torah, my three year old sot1 mumble beautifullythroughblessings he's heard at the J, watching them all open gifts during Chanukah, dressing up for Purim, reciting the four questions for Pesach. My epiphanies come when I attend services and hear rabbi': sermons, and I understand that the' joy I once felt when I was young, hiking it~ mountains and woods, can be found at home, close to my heart, in the Judaism I love. Best wishes this winter holiday season. The opinions expressed in this column are the writer's, and not those of the other Jewish organization. That's the word until next week. Write the Heritage, ore" mail your comments, critiques, and conceraS to By Jonathan S. Tobin while sitting in a local synagogue banquet hall listening to speeches about the Arab-Is- raeli conflict this past weekend, it occurred to me that I had spent most of my adult life doing just that. As I scribbled my notes, I thought that it could just as easily have been 10, 15, or 20 years ago. We could have been discussing how to combat media bias against Israel in 1983 or 1988, as in 2003. The endless argument about Israel, its foes, and the rights and wrongs of the conflict drags on and on. Those of us who care about Israel seem doomed, like Sisyphus, to continue pushing the rock up the hill. To note this is no slight to the hundreds of activists who came together in the Philadel- phia area for a conference of the Committee for Accuracy in Middle East Reporting in America. Their zeal is pure, and their cause is just. Combating media distortions is a serious business, and Camera has played its role as the tireless gadfly well. Their campaigns pointing out the bias against Israel in the reporting of offenders such as National Public Radio and ABC anchorman Peter Jennings have been commendable, if not heroic. But my sens'~of d~j~i vu about of what was said at the conference leads me to conclude that much of the rhetorical back-and-forth over how the media is covering the latest per- mutations of the conflict--be it Israel's secu: rity fence or the new Geneva peace plan-- misses the point. Indeed, the plain truth is that a lot of the debate about these issues within American Jewry, coupled with attempts to make our case to the media establishment, is getting us no= where. No sense of history Most pro-Israel advocates have been arguing vociferously for the last three years that the Palestinian rejection of Israel peace offers in 2000--and their decision to answer it with a terrorist war of attrition--is proof of their unwillingness to make peace. This remains entirely true, and should give us a great deal of insight about the myth that the next peace agreement lurking around the corner will succeed. But given the limited attention span of most Americans, Jews in- cluded, this fact is as much a piece of ancient history as the similar decision of the Arab world in 1947. At that time, the Arabs also rejected the offer of a Palestinian state along- side Israel, and chose war instead. Indeed, the refusal of the Palestinians to make peace at every point in the last 55 years is still pertinent, though few seem to care. But to speak about 1947 or even 2000 is to go over the heads of much of our intended audi- ence. The lack of a sense of history--or even a basic comprehension of the recent the Middle East--is endemic amon ists and most ordinary observers these And as much as we labor to enlighten ignorant, to say that we have been much progress along these lines is to engage io mere optimism, not fact. So what do we do? The answerwas provided by Gerald Steinber~ an Israeli think-tank scholar and a keen oh" server of the conflict and the oceans of rhetoric about it. Steinberg, one of the speakers at the Cameo event, pointed out that it was vital for prO~ Israel activists to shift the agenda" from one of arguing over whether or not"Israel is stealir$ Palestinian land," to one that goes back to basics. What we need to do is to focus on the fad that the conflict is not about the fence or rig settlements, or even why the democratically elected Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon and the Israeli army are not the moral equivalent d Palestinian leader Yasser Ararat and his terror" ist thugs. The fundamental moral basis havin ish state must be our cause because put it, the "argument is still about that." T~ conflict is still about the right of the Jews tO have their own state, and to live in it in peaa and security. The keynoter of the Camera conclave formidable Harvard scholar Ruth Wisse the same point, albeit slightly Wisse, who famously wrote many years that, "anti-Semitism was the most ideology of the 20th century," noted were to amend that sentence today, it read that it was also "the most successful cal instrument" of the last 100 years. Her point was that it was the use of J#" hatred by Arab rulers, who employed it distract their populations from their tions' lack of freedom that had perpetuated t.h war against Israel. This "magician's trick," as she put it, abled them to stay in power, on terrorist culture Attempts to appease this terrorist mindset pressuring I lead us to conclude that what we should stil focusing about is not so much specific but the core principle of support for existence. The anti-Zionist dodge The assault on Israel from the Arab and in much of the international media has its goal, not the changing of some Israeli cies, but the delegitimization of Israel. Many engage in hate against Israel are that they are not anti-Semitic, just anti-Zion" See "Tobln" on page 17