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Divestment from Israel

By Michael Waas, New College

A few weeks ago at New College, there was a meeting held about how to encourage anti-Israel activism on campus through the Divestment from Israel movement. Before I continue, a little history about the modern divestment movement:

The modern DFI movement began in earnest 2002 during the Second Intifada. It began with all intents and purposes at Harvard and MIT (Massachusetts Institute of Technology) with a high profile petition on these campus to divest from Israel. The DFI movement has its roots in the original Arab-League Boycott of Israel. This antecedent movement is unabashedly anti-semitic and racist, having started with a de facto boycott as early as 1922 against Jewish interests, not Israeli interests, 26 years prior to the establishment of the State of Israel. The Arab League Council formally instated a boycott on December 2, 1945: "Jewish products and manufactured goods shall be considered undesirable to the Arab countries". That, might I remind you, is a little less than 3 years before the establishment of the State of Israel and 22 years before the "occupation" began following the 6-Day War in 1967.


Above: Companies known to do business in Israel

The Arab-League Boycott and the modern DFI are not one in the same; however, they share the same ideological roots of racism and anti-Semitism towards anyone from Israel. During the initial years of the Arab-League Boycott, all products, whether made by Jew or Arab were boycotted. The same holds true today for the modern DFI movement. The Divestment movement presents itself as only going after companies such as Caterpillar that sell bulldozers to the Israeli government. That's all fine and good and the Israeli government deserves its fair share of critiquing policies such as the demolition of Palestinian Arab homes and of Olive Groves but this is actually only a minor part of the movement. In fact, it promotes boycotting Israeli academia, Israeli products, and it promotes most of all, the idea that Israel is an apartheid society.


Boycotting Israeli academia and Israeli products hurts all people who call Israel home. One of the most famous cases is of the Jaffa Oranges. The Jaffa Orange takes its name from the old port city of Jaffa where it was first developed. It is arguable that the Jaffa Orange is the symbol of the "Israeli Occupation" as it is almost always, the first product from Israel that is attacked and demonized. But these fruits are grown by Israelis from all walks of life, a fact that is glossed over when boycotting the oranges. It hurts all people in the region to boycott the products of Israel. In fact, it is outright hypocritical to boycott Israel while taking advantage of technologies Israel has innovated and produced such as the chips that power cell phones, text messaging (and Instant Messaging online), and life-saving medical technologies like the ingestable camera, which allows doctors to examine your internal organs non-invasively. These products are just a few of the technologies that Israelis have innovated and produced. And these technologies are used by people who boycott Israel, proving a lot of the hypocrisy inherent in the DFI movement.


The most dangerous assertion of the DFI movement is that Israel is Apartheid. To call Israel an apartheid is an insult to the South Africans who suffered greatly under real apartheid. (See
article about Judge Goldstone's participation in Apartheid). There are a lot of problems in Israeli society concerning class and race. To deny that is to deny a history of racism and Ashkenazo-centrism that has been a part of Israeli politics. Just among Jews, there was an incredible amount of racism towards the Mizrahi Jews who spoke their beloved Arabic/Judeo-Arabic after fleeing the pogroms that began with the declaration of Israel's independence, much less towards Sephardic Jews. Today, towards Arabs, there is a lot of structural racism especially because of integration issues that revolve around the IDF. The IDF provides a network for aspiring businessman and for social connections throughout Israeli society (see Dan Senor article). However, Israeli Arabs would be put in a catch-22 position of being part of a military that many of them see as hurting and oppressing their family and friends. It is not an easy situation to say the least and one that will continue to go unresolved until peace is had.

To not look critically at Israeli policy is morally apprehensible as Jews. There are constructive avenues for approaching Israel critically that helps promote peace and understanding. Two of my favorite organizations are Save a Child's Heart and Seed's of Peace. Both organization promote understanding, trust, and respect between Israeli's and Palestinian Arabs. Save a Child's Heart goes to great lengths to provide opportunities for aspiring Palestinian doctors as well as to provide the life-saving care that many Palestinian Arab children with severe heart problems don't have access to. In fact, SACH has had to smuggle children and their families out of Gaza before in order to protect them from the punishment (from Hamas) of receiving medical care from Israelis. It is these people who the boycott of Israel actually hurts, not the romanticized image that it strikes fear in to the hearts of people like Bibi Netanyahu and predecessors like Ariel "Arik" Sharon. The Seed's of Peace group promotes trust, understanding, and peace, bringing together young people on both sides. It helps humanize the conflict for both sides to see the hopes, concerns, and dreams of the other side from their contemporary generation. It is organizations like SACH and Seed's of Peace that will lead Israel to peace with our brethren, the Palestinian Arabs, not boycott or divestment.

Yalla v'l'hit!

Sidenote: I will be living in Israel this summer, working for the Israel Antiquities Authority at the old city of Akko. This blog will shift to being experiences in Israel over the summer for me. I am looking forward to my endeavor and getting to spend time in Eretz Yisrael with my dear family and friends who call it home. 


Posted by: calexander (May 12, 2010 at 11:04 AM) | Comments (0) | Permalink

PM Netanyahu’s Speech 04/11/2010

Israel Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu
Speech at the Holocaust Martyrs’ and Heroes’ Remembrance Day Ceremony
April 11, 2010

"Tonight, the eve of Holocaust Martyrs’ and Heroes’ Remembrance Day, we remember our brothers and sisters who were murdered in the death camps, in the forests and in the killing fields.  We listen to the voices of the survivors who serve as the voice of the millions who died."

Click HERE to read the rest of the speech courtesy of the Prime Minister's official website.


Posted by: calexander (April 12, 2010 at 9:54 AM) | Comments (0) | Permalink

And Equal Accountability For All

By Michael Waas, New College

Why has President Obama turned a mistake by the Israeli government into the biggest diplomatic riff in years between our country and Israel? Certainly, the announcement of 1600 new apartment units in Ramat Shlomo in Northern Jerusalem was ill-timed during the visit of Vice President Joe Biden but Bibi Netanyahu apologized for it as did many others in the Israeli Government. Why wasn't the PA scolded at all for scheduling the announcement of a naming ceremony for a plaza after vicious terrorist Dahlia Mughrabi during Joe Biden's visit?

Ramat Shlomo
Before answering these questions, a little background about Ramat Shlomo (pictured above):

• Ramat Shlomo is located on land won back from the Jordanians, who had occupied Jerusalem and the West Bank following 1948, during the 6-Day War in 1967.

• The neighborhood is located in the Northeastern section of the New City of Jerusalem, just beyond the old Green Line.

• The population is almost entirely Haredi Jews, numbering 18,000.

• The neighborhood is entirely recent and is located on land that is considered entirely off limits in Peace Negotiation. It is not located in the long standing Arab Neighborhoods just to the east of the Old City of Jerusalem. That land IS disputed and will likely be a part of a final land swap if a Peace Deal is ever struck.

So with this information in mind, why then has Obama turned a simple mistake that has been apologized for in to the biggest tensions with Israel in years? Certainly, it does not serve America's strategic interests as Israel is their most dependable and greatest ally in the region. By all accounts it appears to be a continuation of Obama's foreign policy of "engagement" with the Arab world, at the expense of Israel. And yet, Obama is also engaging the same dictators and autocrats who keep their people under draconian conditions where there is no freedom of expression, no freedom of press. These are the same people glorifying and immortalizing terrible and vicious murderers like Dahlia Mughrabi. These are the same people who blame Israel for all their country's problems in order to divert their people's attention away from the real causes of their misery, their own governing elite.

In reality, by turning Jerusalem into a settlement, Obama has set back any semblance of "peace negotiations" several years. Instead of demanding accountability from the PA, Obama demands Israel cede more and more. When will the West realize that ceding territory does not work? And why does the West demand that Israel split their city? The same argument could be applied to Hebron in the West Bank that the Arab world does to Jerusalem. Or does no one remember the ancient Jewish community that existed for thousands of years in Hebron and then was wiped out for all intents and purposes during the Hebron Massacre of 1929?

Hebron Massacre 

I recently read an analysis of Jerusalem by Professor Juan Cole. Besides presenting some basic, unassailable facts about Jerusalem such as its origins, its antiquity and that Semitic populations (both Jewish and Arab) have been living there for thousands of years, he proceeds to twist the facts to present why East Jerusalem is not part of Israel, nor that Jews have any claim to it. His first point about "occupying powers under international law cannot change the complex of a city" can be just as easily applied to the Jordanians who destroyed the Jewish neighborhoods, forbade Jews from entering the Old City, and even settled Arabs there who had not lived anywhere near Jerusalem prior to 1948. The second point that bothers me intensely is his implication that Diasporic Jews, because they did not convert to Islam or Christianity, do not have any legitimate claim to our ancient homeland of Israel and to Jerusalem. That is highly offensive and quite frankly, wrong. Professor Cole presents a lot of good factual evidence, but he suffers from picking and choosing the evidence that suits him best as well as employing his own rhetoric in an attempt to deconstruct that of Bibi Netanyahu. His usage of Shlomo Sand as a source is weak at best, especially since he primarily refer's to Professor Sand's extremely controversial book "The Invention of the Jewish People." Like most critiques of the region, it suffers from oversimplification in an effort to present the facts on the ground in a manner that is pleasing to their viewpoint.

Through oversimplification, it disregards facts on both sides. It is startling to me the lack of a memory of the World about Israel. The history of the Hebron and Hadassah massacres sicken me just as much as the Sabra and Shatila Massacres. All I ask is that the same level of accountability that the West and Obama demand of Israel right now, they demand of the PA. Yet, I am doubtful of that occurring without major changes; it may be too late to demand accountability from the PA anymore after turning Jerusalem into a settlement. I still will hope that one day, peace will reign in Israel and that the Palestinian Arabs will find peace and security from the oppression that they encounter from groups like Hamas and Fatah.

Yalla v'lhit


Posted by: calexander (April 08, 2010 at 10:37 AM) | Comments (0) | Permalink

Dan Senor comes to Sarasota! And a little about me ...

Michael WaasBy Michael Waas, New College

Dan Senor, co-author of Start-up Nation: The Story of Israel's Economic Miracle, came to speak at the Federation's campus last Tuesday evening, March 2nd. His book, which he co-wrote with his brother-in-law Saul Singer, is an investigation into the "what" and "how" of Israel's economic success in spite of all the factors against it.

His lecture built upon the ideas of the "what" and the "how" of Israel's economic miracle. According to Senor, the what includes venture capital, economic opportunities and the subsequent large representation on the NASDAQ. The most telling statistic that Senor related was that between 2000 and 2006, the amount of foreign venture capital more than doubled in spite of the Second Intifada, the global tech bubble burst, the 2005 disengagement from Gaza, capped off by the 2006 Lebanon war where Katyusha rockets were falling over many Israeli cities in the north. One would think that with all the bad press during this period, most notably in the form of Pallywood, foreign investors would be pulling out as soon as possible from the Israeli market. By further raising the investments in Israel, the venture capitalists at large reinforced their faith in Israeli businesses to succeed even when faced with shutdowns due to IDF reserve duty and attack on their facilities.

This leads into Dan Senor'sStartup Nation: The Story of Israel's Economic Miracle second point concerning the "how." The how, according to Senor, consists of the start-ups in Israel, no fear of risk in Israeli culture, and that Israelis have been taught that it's okay to fail, as long as one learns and continues looking for innovation and opportunity. It is remarkable that in Israel a culture of not being afraid exists. Not only is it apparent in Israeli business, it is downright defiant in the face of Islamofascist aggression.

Some of the key factors leading to the success of Israeli entrepreneurs are intricately linked with the mandatory service in the IDF. In the IDF, the hierarchy is more horizontal than it is vertical. Junior officers can override their superiors if they feel that their superior does not have the right course of action. Not only that, but Israelis are taught to be a jack-of-all-trades, master of none in the IDF. Improvising is key in a military where seconds can be the difference between a suicide bombing in the heart of Tel Aviv or the successful removal of the terrorist. Another key factor of IDF service is the networks created by the military units. Serving with the same unit for the entirety of one's mandatory service and subsequent reserve duty builds lifelong relationships with people you may not otherwise meet. For example, a secular, rich Ashkenazi Jew from Herzliya may end up in the same unit as a poor, recent emigrant from Ethiopia. It  is these kinds of relationships that service in the IDF fosters and it extends to the business world.

In Israel today, Senor brought up two very interesting developments in his lecture. 1) Israel has the highest percentage of civilian research and design firms in the entire world. Companies like Google and Intel depend on a great deal from their Israeli R & D's. 2) Bibi Netanyahu is trying to grow labor participation among the Haredim and the Arab Israeli population. If Bibi is able to accomplish this goal, it would be a boon for the economy of Israel and add further dimensions to an already vibrant and innovative business culture. Unfortunately, if he is not able to make any serious headway, it could pose a threat to the Israeli economy down the line. But, according to Senor, it is already in the process of changing and there is hope.

Senor finished up his lecture on a very poignant note. There is a very serious campaign of delegitimization going on right now against Israel, most notably by those who compare Israel to apartheid South Africa. By just using the word apartheid, its visceral effects prohibit the reader or listener from forming any sort of objective view point. It is why books like Start-up Nation are so important. They are on the front line of the battle against delegitimization. That is not to say Israel does not have any problems, but every country in the world has its problems and Israel is certainly an open book. Movies like "Waltz with Bashir" are a testament to this fact.

But I am here today to join in this battle against delegitimization. I am here to combat misrepresentations of Israel and to foster dialogue about the real issues in Israel. I am here to write about the country of my brother-in-law, of my cousins, of my ancestral home.

Hillel students with Dan Senor
Who am I? My name is Michael Waas. I am originally from Miami, FL and have been a Zionist my entire life. My family has a long history of pro-Israel activity. My great-grandmother's cousin, Avraham Cohen, was instrumental in bringing Zionism to Larissa, Volos, and Trikala in Greece. Today, my entire family is very involved in pro-Israel activities in South Florida and Washington D.C. and throughout the world. My mother's cousin, Benoit Wesly, was named recently to the post of honorary consul for the State of Israel in the Netherlands. My own cousin, Matthew Waas, has volunteered in Israel several times and was asked to speak at the B’nai B’rith Europe Young Adult Forum in Rome in 2008 about his volunteer experiences. Certainly, Zionism is a legacy in my family that I have embraced. In addition to writing for the Jewish Federation, I am the Israel Information Officer at the New College Hillel. As a final note, I would like to thank the Federation and Jessica Katz for giving me the opportunity to contribute to combating anti-Israel sentiment and for allowing me to write about a place I feel very passionate about.

Yalla v'l'hit!

Posted by: calexander (March 16, 2010 at 10:38 AM) | Comments (0) | Permalink

"Seven Minutes in Heaven"

Comments by Roz Goldberg

There are two keys to solving the mysteries that underlie this complex psychological thriller—thus enabling the viewer to put the pieces together so the film makes sense:   First, the content of the mystical tale that Galia is told when she goes to the ZAKA Rescue Organization for information about the bombing; and second, the conversation between Galia and Boaz in the second-to last scene (before the wedding gown scene.)

Let’s take the last of these first:  We see Galia riding on a bus; she and Boaz get off at the same stop, and Boaz says: “I’m Boaz, the paramedic, and I think we’re going to the same place.  You’re Galia, right?  I can’t come to the wedding, so Oren invited me to come by—said it was very important to him.” So they walk together—BUT, they are clearly strangers—not pretending to be strangers.  How can that be, you may wonder, after the love scenes we have just witnessed.  Good question.

Then, when Oren steps out of the room, Boaz aska Galia:  “How did you know that there would be a second explosion on the bus?”  “When I pulled you out, you were finished.  Then, when you woke up, 7 minutes later, you told me to get Oren out of the bus.  You told me something was about to explode in the bus—and as soon as I got him out, something exploded.  How did you know?”

We are then shown a flashback where Galia whispers something to Boaz the second she recovers consciousness after being clinically dead for 7 minutes, and Boaz runs into the burning bus and brings Oren out, just as the bus explodes a second time behind him.

Galia says:  “I don’t know”.  But by that time, we, the audience, do know how she knew the bus was going to explode a second time: 

The only possible answer to Boaz’s question is that while she was clinically dead, Galia was given the chance to see what her future would be like if her soul returned to her body—which brings us to the second key, the mystical tale, which I will repeat below:

The Mystical Tale: When Galia goes to ZAKA for information about the bombing, trying to find out the name of the man who saved her life, the man at ZAKA says:  “We even prepared a body bag for you.  You were clinically dead for 7 minutes, but the paramedic wouldn’t let you go.  Apparently, you weren’t ready.”  And Galia asks:  “What does that mean?”

“They say that when some souls rise to Heaven, they are not ready, they’re not complete—and our Creator gives these souls a chance to observe the life they’ll live if they choose to return.”

Galia asks:  “Why live if you know your future?”

For the purpose of the film, if we accept the mystical tale as true, then all but the last two scenes of the film represent the future that Galia observes during her “seven minutes in Heaven” before her soul and body re-unite.  Given the knowledge of the future that she has thus observed, she is able to change her destiny, in that “unique moment” of reuniting her soul and her body. She tells Boaz the bus is going to explode again because, in her vision of the future, Ronen had told her about the second explosion; by telling Boaz about the second explosion when she comes to, she chooses to change the future and save Oren’s life.

(Early in the film, as you may recall, the second person Galia speaks with is Ronen, the Red Magen David employee who no longer works for the agency.  It is he who tells her: “I looked at Oren through the window and he looked pretty good, considering the circumstances.  But then there was a second explosion that threw shrapnel all over, and one piece caught Oren in the head.  I did get him out after that, but we lost him.  You were rescued early on by a paramedic who doesn’t work there anymore.”)

Incidentally, I spoke with a Kaballah scholar to find out whether such a mystical tale exists in Jewish mysticism; the answer is “no.” 

Another point: in that same next to last scene, when Boaz is telling Galia what happened when she regained consciousness, he says: “You also whispered something in my ear:  You said “I love you”.  You probably thought I was Oren.  Then you said you were sorry.” 

Galia says:  “I don’t know why.” But a few minutes later she gives him the butterfly necklace, and says very tenderly, ..."Thank you" --and, in the next scene, she certainly does not look happy in her wedding gown.  Why?

There are several ways to interpret that.  Being a romantic, I believe the answer is this:   Even at the precise moment when she chooses to save Oren’s life, Galia knows that, if she doesn’t change the future, she and Boaz will share a great love. That’s why she tells him that she loves him and that she is sorry—sorry that they cannot pursue the great love they have found together.  In other words, whether she saves Oren because she knows it is the right thing to do, or because she feels responsible for his being on the bus in the first place, she can’t let Oren die, even though she is by that time-- in the future—much more in love with Boaz than with Oren. I believe that this is why she looks so unhappy in her wedding dress.  Does she go downstairs to marry Oren? Or does she tell him that she can’t go through with it?  That, I do not know.

For the record, the only time that Galia and Boaz met previously in real time was one year before, at a Purim party.  In the next to last scene, Boaz says: “Glad to see you two are ok.”  Galia says:  You probably have thousands like us—survivors that you have saved.”   Then she asks him: “Have we met before, besides the bombing? “  And Boaz says: “Yes, at the Purim party one year ago; I was Dracula. I had a little too much to drink, and I behaved badly.” They laugh.

A few words about some technical aspects of the film:

A. Directing style:  Unlike many psychological thrillers, where the audience knows more than the characters—and we want to shout at the screen “Don’t trust that guy” or “It’s a trap; don’t go in the building!”, in “Seven Minutes”, we learn things as Galia does; Givon puts us into Galia’s head—we share her internal state of mind.  Here, as Galia peels the onion of her memories, we share that experience.  By the way, loss of memory surrounding a traumatic incident, such as a suicide bombing, is not unusual.

B. Meticulous Editing:  The editing is amazing, especially in the scene where she is on the bombed-out bus, envisioning what happened to her a year before.  The other passengers appear and disappear, and the scenes of past and present switch up and back as she envisions the events of that terrible morning.

C. Dynamic visual style:  While on the bombed-out bus, she envisions the fight she had with Oren before they leave to get on the bus before the bombing—did you notice she has no burns?  Oren is washing dishes.  They argue, and he says:  You haven’t accepted the fact that life is deficient.” He then follows her to apologize, getting on the bus with her; we see her sitting with Oren on the bus and watching people get on and off.  She notices the suicide bomber and makes a comment to Oren about him as he reaches inside his jacket to set off the bomb—then we see the explosion in slow motion—she is covered in blood.

One of the early shots of the bombed-out bus is through the broken glass of the bus window—with Boaz framed in the background.

At the ‘future” Purim party, the strobe lights create an eerie effect, and Galia envisions blood running down the faces of the party-goers.

Unclaimed property room:  The camera focuses on all the items that bus-bombing victims and survivors never came to claim.

Last, but not least, there really is a wreckyard near Jerusalem where bombed-out buses are placed; that’s what prompted Omri Givon to write the story in the first place.

Comments are welcome!


Posted by: calexander (March 09, 2010 at 5:39 PM) | Comments (2) | Permalink

Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland lives on!

A summary from the original "Alice" ...

 "Let the jury consider their verdict," the King said, for about the twentieth time.

 “No, no!” said the Queen. "Sentence first — verdict afterwards."

 “Stuff and nonsense!” said Alice loudly. The idea of having the sentence first!

 “Hold your tongue!” said the Queen, turning purple. “I won't!” said Alice.

 “Off with her head!” the Queen shouted at the top of her voice.

Sound familiar?  What is the 2010 equivalent of Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland?  Look no farther than the conspiracy-starved United Nations and Arab media.  Oh me…oh my…where do I start?  How about…

• The Gaza Fact Finding Mission Report (aka The Goldstone Report) Ignoring years of terror and thousands of missiles fired at innocent Israeli citizens by Hamas predating Israel’s self-defensive strike into Gaza, the report ignores Israel’s right to self-defense and her sense of morality and the value of life.  No right to self-defense or any defense for that matter!  Guilty as charged.  Off with her head!
• And how about reports out of England, Norway, the Ukraine, and the always open Arab media … that Jews are “harvesting” human organs in Haiti, the Gaza Strip, in America, in the Ukraine.  Google blood libel/harvesting organs and the Arab media.  Off with her head! 
• Or how about Israel Apartheid Week on college campuses.  Interesting … find a country in the Middle East – other than Israel - where there are women’s rights or gay rights or rights to freedom of speech or voting rights?  Or any human rights for that matter.  Off with her head!
• Oh yes … and per Iranian President Ahmadinejad …as stated in the hysterical … rather “historical” document, the Elders of the Protocols of Zion … there is an ongoing Jewish conspiracy to dominate the politics and the economy of the world through “private networks.”  Google the Elders of the Protocols of Zion and Arab media.  Off with her head!
• Did you know that Jews were responsible for 9/11.  Yes folks, it’s widely known that there were no Jewish deaths in the twin towers and Jews were warned in advance to stay away.  Google 9/11 and Arab media.  You’ll find these “theories” everywhere.  Off with her head.


So let’s get this straight:
Israel can’t defend herself … Israel is guilty as charged (as is the vast Jewish conspiracy) to harvest organs, cause 9/11, deprive all mankind/womankind of their rights, conspire to take over the world’s economy and “political” infrastructure?  No folks this is not Ripley’s Believe It Or Not … and it is not the Dark Ages or the 1930’s or 1940’s either.  It’s quite “today.”

It’s a thrilling ride down this rabbit hole … the rabbit hole of the United Nations where these conspiracy “theories” are presented as fact at the General Assembly.  And it’s quite a thrilling ride into the Middle East “media.”

Let’s put the “drink me” bottle away.  It’s time to wake up!

- Howard Tevlowitz, Executive Director

* UPDATE: Read the article Let’s Have a Real Apartheid Education Week by Alan M. Dershowitz.


Posted by: calexander (March 01, 2010 at 12:24 PM) | Comments (0) | Permalink

Letter to the Editor about Israel & Haiti

Now that the world is reacting to the tragedy in Haiti, where can one find any mention of Israel's rescue efforts promulgated by the same media outlets? While small in size, Israel has already dispatched a large contingent of highly-trained aid givers to Haiti. By means of its many airlift missions, 220 doctors, scores of nurses and skilled construction workers plus army troops were dispatched. The Israelis brought with them a state-of-the-art field hospital that has been invaluable in treating the victims of the earthquake.

Israel's rescue dogs and evacuation recovery experts arrived early at the scene to apply their well-learned disaster skills. A fully operational field hospital was erected on a soccer field and communications facilities were immediately installed to save valuable triage time with the injured. While other nations’ field hospitals contained only makeshift cots and stretchers, the IDF hospital was performing hundreds of operations and life-saving treatments in only a few hours after its arrival.

Israel did not send politicians to Haiti for "photo ops," yet they manage to get more than a disproportionate share of spurious graphics which show IDF wantonly gunning down innocent Palestinians. Israel, about as big as New Jersey, is doing far more to help the beleaguered Haitians than what is being done by many of its far bigger detractors. Isn't it time to "give a little credit where credit is due?"

By Len Glaser
Media Watch Committee
Heller Israel Advocacy Initiative

Federation's note: The Israeli Field Hospital has made an incredible difference in the disaster has has garnered worldwide media attention.

Watch:   NBC    CNN     ABC     FOX 


Posted by: calexander (January 20, 2010 at 10:54 AM) | Comments (0) | Permalink

Political Correctness

By Howard Tevlowitz

So ... let me be clear - in our never ending world of political correctness (PC), one can never "profile" at an airport for fear that one of the flying public might be upset over being pulled out of a line because of "name" or "ethnicity."  The last time I checked, flying is a privilege and not a constitutional right.  So … if you don't agree to the terms - don't fly.  I guess it's better for a plane to be blown up than state the obvious ...

And by the way, exactly what is an "extremist"?  Someone who is "extreme" in his/her views, i.e. strong opinions or perhaps someone who indiscriminately blows up airplanes, mosques, churches, or synagogues.  Or perhaps blows up hotels, slits the throats of hostages and doesn't discriminate against the cold blooded murder of men, women or children?  Or how about beheading a kidnapped victim?

And ... just for the record ... when was the last time an organized group of Jewish "extremists" or Christian "extremists" tried to blow up an airplane, hijack an airplane, fly an airplane into a building, blow up a mosque, church or synagogue ...

You get it?

So ... in this world of PC where one cannot NEVER simply state the obvious, why is it acceptable to put "all Jews" into one neat basket on a national TV show - C-Span to be exact - without a comment. 

See the article below:

Blatantly Anti-Semitic Exchange on C-Span

by Nissan Ratzlav-Katz

( A caller on a C-Span interview program Monday complained about "all these Jews" having "way too much power" in America and pushing the U.S. into wars with the Muslim world. He found his comments echoed and expanded upon by the studio guest.

Michael Scheuer, the former director of a CIA unit assigned to track down Osama Bin-Laden, calmly expressed the view that American soldiers are now dying in Iraq for the sake of Israelis. He further claimed that any debate of American support for Israel is squelched in the public sphere.

The interviewer for C-Span's Washington Journal program did not react to the blatantly anti-Semitic exchange. Several other callers praised Scheuer for his position regarding Israel, adding their own condemnation of the Jewish State and its supporters.

An excerpt of the initial discussion follows:

John (on the phone from Franklin, New York): "Good morning. I, for one, am sick and tired of all these Jews coming on C-Span and other stations and pushing us to go to war against our Muslim friends. They're willing to spend the last drop of American blood and treasure to get their way in the world. They have way too much power in this country. People like Wolfowitz and Feith and the other neo-cons - that Jewed us into Iraq - and now we're going to spend the next 60 years rehabilitating our soldiers. I'm sick and tired of it."

C-SPAN host (to Scheuer): "Any comments?"

Scheuer: "Yeah. I think that of course American foreign policy is eventually up to the American people. One of the big things we have not been able to discuss for the past 30 years is our policy towards the Israelis. Whether we want to be involved in fighting Israel's wars in the future is something that Americans should be able to talk about. They may vote yes. They may want to see their kids killed in Iraq or Yemen or somewhere else to protect Israel. But the question is: we need to talk about it. Ultimately, Israel is a country that is of no particular worth to the United States."

C-SPAN host: "You mean strategically?"

Scheuer: "Strategically. They have no resources we need. Their manpower is minimal. Their association with us is a negative for the United States. Now that's a fact. What you want to do about that fact is entirely different. But for anyone to stand up in the United States and say that our support for Israel doesn't hurt us in the Muslim world, or our support for Hosni Mubarak's dictatorship doesn't hurt us, is to just defy reality."

Earlier in the same interview, however, Scheuer made it clear what he felt should be done regarding Israel. In his opinion, the U.S. should "persuade" Islamic terrorists threatening America "to focus their anger" on Israel and on oppressive Middle Eastern regimes. Scheuer also later elaborated on what he said is the way criticism of Israel is prevented.

A caller named Nicki from Maryland thanked him for his comments on Israel and asked, "Why is it that the United States does not want to talk about Israel?" Prefacing his remarks by asserting that "Israel has every right to do what it needs to do" to defend itself, including the development of nuclear weapons, Scheuer said that the U.S. has no real interest in either Israel or the Palestinian Authority. "That is a religious war in which we have no stake," he continued.

Scheuer: "Why don't we talk about that? Because AIPAC and other influential American Jewish groups are extraordinarily involved in the funding of American political campaigns and have the ability to reach out and make sure that people lose their jobs, or are otherwise hurt, if they dare to criticize Israel."

Scheuer went on to claim that he lost a job with the Jamestown Foundation think tank for saying that then-presidential candidate Barack Obama was "doing what I call the Tel-Aviv Two Step". As a result, he claimed, "the donors to that foundation" ordered that he be terminated. He concluded the discussion of Jewish political influence by saying, "You know, you always talk about the Israel Lobby and its power, but to see it up close and personal aimed right at me was very educational. In fact, it was worth the experience of losing a job."

Watch a video clip of the segment HERE

Posted by: calexander (January 11, 2010 at 12:31 PM) | Comments (0) | Permalink

The anniversary of Kristallnacht

Monday marked the 71st anniversary of Kristallnacht 

On this commemoration, we should be reminded of Edmund Burke's warning: "All that is necessary for the triumph of evil is that good men do nothing."  Kristallnacht marked the beginning of the world ignoring the tragic events of the Holocaust that continued to unfold from that point

A synagogue burns in Siegen, Germany, on November 10, 1938. Kristallnacht, or The Night of Broken Glass,
was a large-scale coordinated attack on Jews throughout the German Riech.
[Photo Credit: The Pictorial History of the Holocaust, ed. Yitzhak Arad. New York: Macmillan, 1990.]


The written word does not suffice to tell the story of those who witnessed and survived Kristallnacht.  Please take a moment to watch this YouTube video.

Harsh words, no action

Hatred in its most extreme form, like the Holocaust, evolves over time. The challenge is not to wait to stand up until the final stage when it is too late. The time to stand up is during its evolution, indeed as early as possible. Kristallnacht was the moment when the world had to stand up. It didn’t.

Abraham Foxman, National Director of the Anti-Defamation League (ADL) writes:

"Kristallnacht is important to remember because it was the moment when it became clear that Nazi hatred of Jews was beyond anything seen before. It is important to remember because there are yet those among us who lived through, witnessed it, and survived it. And it is important to remember because after Kristallnacht, the world no longer had any excuses for not acting against the barbarism of Nazi anti-Semitism.

Most of all, however, Kristallnacht teaches us the most basic lesson about how to view anti-Semitism and other forms of hatred. One could ask the question: If we observe Yom HaShoah every spring, why do we need to have a second commemoration every year on the anniversary of Kristallnacht? The answer, I believe, lies in the different focus. Yom HaShoah speaks to the horror of the murder of six million. It remembers and calls attention to the ultimate brutality that humans are capable of and that the history of anti-Semitism eventually produced. It is about remembering the millions of people whose lives were snuffed out because of hatred. And it reminds us that “Never Again” must be a guiding principle of our lives as Jews.

Kristallnacht, on the other hand, is not about the end product of hate but the process. It represents the reality that a Holocaust does not just happen; it has to be prepared, cultivated, acted upon first in small steps, then bigger ones, and finally the biggest. In this sense, Kristallnacht commemoration is not only about remembering the over 90 Jews who were killed, the 30,000 male Jews who were arrested and sent to concentration camps, the over 1,000 synagogues which were torched along with their Torah scrolls and prayer books, and the 7,000 Jewish shops and business that were looted and destroyed.

It is also about how the Holocaust came to pass. It reminds us that the Holocaust couldn’t have happened had there not been 2,000 years of demonization of Jews throughout Europe, as reflected in the Decide charge and in the scapegoating of Jews as an evil and powerful force. It couldn’t have happened had there not been cynical anti-Semites who produced the infamous forgery The Protocols of the Learned Elders of Zionism which gave credibility to the notion of worldwide Jewish satanic power."


Thank you,

Howard Tevlowitz, Executive Director


Posted by: calexander (November 10, 2009 at 10:48 AM) | Comments (0) | Permalink

So, what’s “Jewish” about a building?

What’s “Jewish” about a treadmill?  What does “Jewish” mean in 21st century Sarasota-Manatee?  Is “Jewish” a simple adjective - and one of the 100 ways each of us defines ourselves?  What does the term “tikkun olam” really mean – not the watered-down version we are fed daily?  Are all causes “Jewish” causes – even though they may not affect Jews or Jewish life in this community in any way? What does it mean to say: ”Jewish is what we are all about?”

These – and other important Jewish communal questions - will be a primary focus of Federation thinking, Federation planning, and Federation activities during the next few months — and the way we allocate Federation funds in the future will be based on the outcome of these deliberations.  That’s why our Jewish future depends on present action!  And … if we want a Jewish community that will act “Jewishly” tomorrow, we better step up to the plate today.

Let’s talk “tachlis” - our Jewish community is fractured, in the sense that various elements in the community are pulling in different—and sometimes, opposing—directions.  Moreover, at times, it appears that preserving institutional and personal fiefdoms is the primary objective of some in the community--taking priority over the critical task of identifying and then serving Jewish needs in a cost-effective and thoughtful manner.

Nevertheless, as an organized Jewish community, we are here for a reason.  And that reason is to engage people JEWISHLY! Whom should we engage?  Anyone who wishes to be involved in things Jewish!  We will reach out to anyone who wishes to be reached out to…and we will support programs and projects that add to the richness and vitality of Jewish life in this community. We want to make sure that anyone who wishes to LIVE JEWISHLY in Sarasota-Manatee has the opportunity to do so.

We – the leadership of our Jewish Federation - believe that being “Jewish” is not just an adjective that describes a piece of what we are.  IT IS THE TOTALITY OF WHAT WE ARE AND WHAT WE BELIEVE.  We are directly aligning our words and our actions. 

Luckily, over the past few years we had and continue to have a Board that thinks into the future, constantly reviews the direction and mission of the Federation, and puts many terrific programs into place; some are educational, some are cultural, some involve younger people, others involve older adults, some provide “safety-net” support for the poorest Jews in our community, and on and on—the list is long and impressive. (In fact, our Jewish Federation of Sarasota-Manatee is considered one of the most progressive-thinking and effective Jewish Federations in North America—and has become a model for other communities around the country.)

The dollars that you and I contribute are put to work in the most efficient and effective way we can devise—to focus our funding in areas that support Jews and JEWISH … that help Jews in need, support Jewish learning for active adults, and engage, shape, inspire, and stimulate the next generation of Jews.   That’s what “Jewish is what we are all about” means to us.

No … it is not about buildings - it is about programs - programs that enable us to enhance our Jewish journeys – text study, informal learning, experiential learning – through Jewish movies, Jewish Healing Program, Jewish food, Jewish overnight camping, Israel, Israeli dance, Holocaust awareness – anything and everything that nurtures and feeds our Jewish hearts and our Jewish souls.

Please join us on this journey! Let us know your thoughts and your ideas! I look forward to seeing many of you on Sunday, November 8th.

Thank you,

Howard Tevlowitz, Executive Director 

Posted by: calexander (November 04, 2009 at 3:03 PM) | Comments (0) | Permalink
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