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December 23, 2011

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PAGE 4A The 00ood 00ord By David Bornstein The low side of higher education An incident occurred recently at Stetson University that many of you probably don't know about, but should. On Nov. 29 Con- gregation Ohev Shalom hosted a"Friends of the Israeli Defense Forces" evening of song and dance to celebrate the release of Gilad Shalit, the Israeli soldier who had been held hostage by Hamas for five years. The evening was a great success and went off without a hitch. The next day the Israeli soldiers who had attended the event were invited by Hillel at Stetson University for a meet-and-greet and to teach Israeli song and dance to any students who wished to participate. That, too, went well. Almost. When Dr. Jamil Khader, Ph.D., professor of English and Diversity Council co-chair at Stetson got wind of the Israeli soldiers on campus, he sent out a letter directed to more than 60 people, most of whom, I assume, are students at Stetson, decrying the presence of the soldiers, calling it an "ideologically and politically charged event." He went on to say that "having a soldier troupe on campus promotes the agenda of the IDF, an army that maintains an inhumane occupation of Pales- tine," and "this event can only displace the occupation by showing how entertaining and fun these soldiers are; in short, how humane these soldiers are. This is the common Israeli propaganda strategy in the last decade." Now, in all fairness to Professor Khader, his email list largely consisted of names from the invitation sent out by Andrew Horn, a Jewlsh student who attends Stet- son. And one of the most important rights and privileges afforded academicians in our open, free society is the right to free speech and the promotion of unhindered, uncensored thought. And I support that 100 percent. Our universities would be crippled if leading academicians were hamstrung in their ability to freely pursue research and espouse whatever viewpoints they choose. I must also tell you that the local Federation, the Anti-Defamation League, the local Hil- lel, and others have stepped up to question what occurred. And while there has been purported dia- logue taking place on campus, there have been no reprimands, no actions taken, noth- ing from the administration that takes the professor to task for some obvious, enormous and unacceptable errors in judgment. Professor Khader overstepped his bounds in three key areas: First, a letter of this sort, challenging a student publicly, should never be distrib- uted by anyone in a position of power and authority, unless the intent is to cow and intimidate the recipients. How canastudent take a course from a professor who has gone on record saying "this is a very sad day for me at SU" and openly criticizing an event the student(s) organized and attended? This abuse of power enters the realm of bullying very quickly. A private talk to discuss the issues at hand? Certainly acceptable. A round table discussion by the Diversity Council? Why not? Bfit a letter chastising students involved in what I believe was meant to be an innocent culturalexperience? I think not. Second, Professor Khader said in his letter that "teaching "traditional Israeli" dance and "songs basically means teaching Jewish dance and songs." This thinly veiled anti-Semitic remarkbegs many qiestions. Is there some- thing wrong with teaching Israeli or Jewish song and dance? If they are, in fact, Jewish song and dance (which everyone will admit Letters To The Editor HERITAGE welcomes and encourages letters to the editor, but they must be typed or printed and include name and phone number. We will withhold your name if you so request. Please limit letters to 250 words. Due to space limitations, we reserve the right to edit letters. Send letters to P.O. Box 300742, Fern Park, FL 32730. Or e-mail to Educating youth key to Jewish future Dear editor: What will our Orlando Jewish community look like in the future? Will our high schools have students that enter with identities strong enough to stand up to anti-Semitism? Will our young people have the commitment to support the State of Israel? Will knowledge of the Holo- caustbe building blocks for understanding and tolerance? If your answer to these questions is yes, then we must educate our young people- now to help guarantee this future. Jewish Academy of Orlando is the only school in our community that focuses, on a daily basis, on the development of strong Jewish identities. Our students graduate with a foundation that not only ensures the continuation of our culture, traditions and language, but also allows for them to be con- fident and self-assured Jews that stay affiliated throughout their lives. We cannot take this for granted! Our school is an environment that encompasses all movements; our children know how to accept people and understand the wonderful differences between us. They are proud of who they are, of the skills they possess and of their ability to formulate the role Judaism plays in, their life. Jewish Academy needs your support now. Give a gift to the future of Judaism in our com- munity. Help ensure that the only community Jewish Day School in Orlando continues to -be vibrant, accessible and successful. Our future depends on it. I wish you and your families a Chanukah season filled with light and peace. Lynne Shefsky Head of School Jewish Academy of Orlando THE VIEWS EXPRESSED ON THIS PAGE ARE NOT NECESSARILY THE VIEWS. OF HERITAGE MANAGEMENT.   CENTRAL FLORIDA'SINDEPENDENTJEWISHVOICE   ISSN 0199-0721 Winner of 40 Press Awards Editor/Publisher Jeffrey Gaeser Editor Emeritus Associate Editor Assistant Editor Gene Starn Lyn Davidson Mike Etzkin HERITAGE Florida Jewish News (ISN 0199-0721) is published weekly for $37.95 per year to Florida M- Society Editor Bookkeeping dresses ( $46.95 for the rest of the U.S.) by HERITAGE Gloria Yousha Panlette Harmon Kim Fischer Central Florida Jewish News, Inc., 207 O'Brien Road, Suite 101, Fern Park, FL 32730. Periodicals postage Account Executives paid at Fern Park and additional mailing offices. Barbara do Carmo - Marci Gaeser POSTMASTER: Send address changes and other correspondence to: HERITAGE, P.O. Box 300742, Contributing Columnists Fern Park, FL 32730. Jim Shipley Ira Sharkansky Tim Boxer David Bomstein Terri Fine Ed Ziegler MAILING ADDRESS PHONE NUMBER EO. Box 300742 (407) 834-8787 Production Department Fern Park, FL 32730 FAX (407) 831-0507 David Lehman * David Gaudio * Teri Marks email: Loft Apple Elaine Schooping Gil Dombrosky HERITAGE they are), does that make them inappropri- ate? What's wrong with something beirig Jewish? Professor Khader complains about the focus on only the Jewish components of Israeli society. He goes so far as to com- lblain that Israel calls itself a Jewish state. Guess what? It is a Jewish state. Yes, there are Arab and Druse citizens of Israel. But trust me when I say that every time there's a celebration of America not every ethnic group in the country is represented. And if this was a big issue to the professor, bring in other Middle Eastern dance troupes and have at it. | fully believe that no one would complain about having an Arab/Palestinian song and dance gala on campus. And lastly, Professor Khader espouses his strong political beliefs and his own brand of interesting propaganda when he writes, "In the current imbalance in the represen- tation of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict in the American media and knowing from first-hand experience the strong pro-Israel fundamentalist groups in the area, giving the IDF a humane face on this campus can only increase the bias against the Palestinian right to a legitimate state." Pro-Israel fundamentalist groups? The professor is attempting to co-opt the term "fundamentalist" and turn it against people who use the term to describe radical ele- ments in Islamic society. There are funda- Letter from Israel I By Ira Sharkansky Read Josephus. It's relevant. The most recentrampage of religious nation- alist extremists has brought forth statements from a wide range of Israeli leaders that they have gone too far. They have crossed a "red line." They will be dealt with by means of all the tools at the disposal of the military and the police. One proposal is that they be classified as "terrorists," and thus allow the application of the most severe sanctions available to law enforcement. We'll see. The reality is that several groups of young people broke into an IDF installation in the Jor- dan Valley, spray painted equipment, occupied for a brief period an empty facility close to the Jordanian border and declared their intention of settling the Land of Israel east of the Jordan, attacked the army car of a senior officer with a large stone and wounded his aide. So far the typical response of authorities to settler violence is repeating itself. Some of the young people have been detained, and some of those already released. They are treated more as naughty children who create a tolerable nuisance than as a serious threat to public order. There was no deadly force used against those attacking the officer's car or breaking into the army base. Such acts by Palestinians would have pro- duced long prison terms if the perpetrators were fortunate enough to survive the army's initial response. Political and military figures are declaring a severe toughening of their responses to Jew!sh terror, and some rabbis are adding their voice to those decrying attacks against the IDF. However, settle figures are saying that the real problem is the government's intention to remove Jews from the Land of Israel. Rabbis are stuttering between condemnation of those who exagger- ated and an understanding of the young people who act in defense of their values. Meanwhile, on other fronts of our religious wars, the ultra-Orthodox ofMea She'arim used baby strollers (occupied with their infants) to block a main street against buses carrying women who dared sit in the men's section. Contending groups of ultra-Orthodox men hit, kicked, and threw stones at one another in their continuing conflict over the occupation of a building. And male Orthodox students at the Technion demanded the exit of women from the university fitness center so they could use the facilities. (The Hebrew University swimming pools have long had an hour a day reserved for men only and an hour a day reserved for women only. The Technion will now have to impose the same options at its fitness facility.) I've defined the problem. Don't look to me for solutions. We wanted a stat for Jews. We got Jews. The large majority of us are not part of these extremes, and will likely remain outside of the squabbles. We may become a minority in several decades if recent demographic pro- FLORIDA JEWISH NEWS, DECEMBER 23, 2011 mentalist Islamic groups who are tied to the worst terrorist organizations in the world, and who advocate the destruction of Israel and the United States in favor of a radical fundamentalist Islamic world. But pro- Israel fundamentalist groups in the area? I don't know who he's talking about, and fundamentally, we're not the fundamental problem here. And we all know it. Would there have been a real issue if the IDF soldiers recruited on campus, pretended to be an Israeli ROTC, asked kids to make aliyah and join the army? Absolutely. Would there have been a problem if these soldiers at- tempted to incite anti-Arab, anti-Palestinian sentiment during their visit? You bet. And the same problem would exist if Muslim students took a similar opportunity to blast Israel, Jews, Zionists. But none of this took plac e . Instead what happened was a lone professor, who happens to speak fluent Hebrew and to have received his education courtesy of Israel, took it upon himself to try to pub- licly intimidate and humiliate students on campus. And that kind of behavior 'should never be tolerated. And that's the good word. The opinions in this column are those of the writer and not the Heritage or any other individual, agency or organization. Send your thoughts, comments, and critiques to the Heritage or email The Jewish War jections produce a substantial increase in the ultra-Orthodox population. Demographers since Malthus have often been wrong about their projections, and we can hope that economic realities will reduce the ultra-Orthodox fascination with having lots of children to be supported by those of us who pay taxes, and protected by those of us who serve in the army. There is an anti-religious feeling among Israeli Jews, but it has not been enough to penetrate the major political parties. For some time the anti-Haredi party Shinui was able to maintain a middling presence in the Knesset and a role in the government, but it collapsed due to shenanigans of a leading figure and then a clumsy effort to take over the party leadership. In the current situation of a morbid left, religious politicians of the Orthodox Religious Zionist and ultra-Orthodox varieties have a substantial say in the government. Secular poli- ticians can moan and shout about extremism, and promise action against those who insult women orviolate the IDF, but significant action is a step so far not taken. It is difficult to expect the resurgence of the left on the basis of religion.Also on their agenda, and working against their resurgence, is the is- sue of Palestine. The flaccid leadership of Fatah, the ascendance of Hamas, instability verging on chaos in important Muslim countries, the heating up of the Iranian front (those mysteri- ous explosions and the Iranian threat to close the Straits of Hormuz) reduce Israel's capacity to solve the problems of the Middle East with a gesture toward the Palestinians. The social agenda of Israel's left may have more life in it than its Palestinian agenda. Last summer's protests left the headlines with the start of the academic year and the removal of the protesters' tents. Discussions continue about the proposals of the committee app0ir,ted by the government. No surprise that opposition of those who stand to lose from reform may be weakening the resolves heard earlier from the prime minister and the minister of finance. Economic problems coming from Europe and the United States are lessening the resources available for reform, and regional instability is weakening resolve to reduce defense expendi- tures for the sake of social programs. Even if social issues help the left whenever there is a national election, there is no indica- tion that a left or centrist coalition can govern without religious parties. Or that leftist or cen- trist politicians will choose to tackle religious issues as a matter of high priority. Things change in'politics, sometimes quickly. However, there is nothing clearly on the horizon to encourage the secular left and center that there will be a quick end to discomforts associ- atedwith extremists among the ultra-Orthodox and Religious Zionists. If someone out there has a way for Jews to deal with Jews, I'm waiting for your help. Ira Sharkansky is professor emeritus, Department of Political Science, Hebrew Uni- versity o f Jerusalem..