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January 13, 2010

A7News: Obama Anti-Semitism ‘Czar’ Slammed for Criticizing Israel’s Oren

Filed under: Uncategorized — jewishupdates @ 1:18 pm

logo.jpgTevet 27, 5770 / Wednesday, Jan. 13 ’10

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Headlines

  1. Obama Anti-Semitism ‘Czar’ Slammed for Criticizing Israel’s Oren
  2. Arab MK on Holocaust Trip: MKs For and Against
  3. Turkey Keeps Ayalon Crisis on Front Burner
  4. Israeli Team Heads for Quake-Struck Haiti; Fate of Jews Unknown
  5. Leftist Knesset Members Angered by Rabbi’s Pro-Life Letter
  6. Gush Emunim Leader: Yesha Council Problematic but Irreplaceable
  7. Has Rabbi Druckman’s Refusal Stance Cost Him His Job?
  8. Eli Yishai: Jewish Sabbath Work? – No Business License

1. Obama Anti-Semitism ‘Czar’ Slammed for Criticizing Israel’s Oren

by Gil Ronen

The American Israeli Action Coalition (AIAC) today heavily criticized President Barack Obama’s anti-Semitism “czar”, Hannah Rosenthal, for her public criticism of Israel’s Ambassador to the U.S., Michael Oren, and called for her immediate dismissal from her post.

Rosenthal, whom Obama appointed to head the Office To Monitor and Combat Anti-Semitism, criticized Israel’s Ambassador to the U.S., Michael Oren, for pointing out to an assembly of Jewish leaders that J Street was “fooling around with the lives of 7 million people.”

According to AIAC, Rosenthal was a member of J Street’s advisory panel before her appointment to her current position. J Street, it adds, "is a radical, far left, anti-Israel, American organization funded by Arab and radical sources" which "has been almost universally condemned by mainstream Jewish organizations."

Harvey Schwartz, AIAC’s chairman, stated “as a high ranking member of the Obama administration, Rosenthal’s criticism of the Israeli Ambassador to the US is beyond bizarre, and highly offensive in the extreme. It is a virulent anti-Israel attack which AIAC interprets to be anti-Semitic. That the State Department took the highly unusual step of announcing its “complete support” for Rosenthal confirms that she was expressing the views of the Obama administration. Contrary to her duty to fight anti-Semitism, Rosenthal used her bully pulpit to advance it. This is deplorable.”

‘She must go promptly’
“Even more deplorable is the Obama administration’s public slap at Israel, utilizing Rosenthal as its mouthpiece,” Schwartz continued. “When coupled with the Obama administration’s numerous other slaps at Israel, including its almost hysterical non-recognition of Israel’s inalienable right to build civilian homes in its Jerusalem capital and Senator Mitchell’s recent public threat to withdraw U.S. loan guarantees from Israel, while at the same time saying and doing nothing to the Palestinians to ‘encourage’ them to return to the peace talks, the Obama administration has laid bare its anti-Israel focus and has proven itself to no longer be ‘an honest broker for peace.’ The more than 250,000 Americans living in Israel condemn this development.”

Aaron Tirschwell, AIAC’s Executive Director, declared that “Rosenthal has committed an unpardonable sin. She must go promptly. AIAC calls upon all American Jewish organizations, as well as all Americans of good will, to demand that the Obama administration dismiss Rosenthal forthwith.”

In December, Rosenthal criticized Oren for what she said were his "most unfortunate" remarks regarding J Street, prompting the Israel Embassy to ask for clarifications from the US Administration.

AIAC presents itself as a non-partisan, non-political, issue-oriented NGO which whose purpose is to represent the united voice of the more than 250,000 American citizens living in Israel on issues that affect Israel, Israel-US relations, and the Jewish people worldwide.

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2. Arab MK on Holocaust Trip: MKs For and Against

by Hillel Fendel

MK Danny Danon (Likud) protests the decision to have Arab MK Mohammed Barakeh join a Knesset Holocaust delegation to Europe, while Knesset Speaker Ruby Rivlin, also of the Likud, praises Barakeh for accepting his invitation and chastises Danon.

The delegation will take part in Holocaust commemorations in Auschwitz on Jan. 27, which was designated by the United Nations as International Holocaust Day in 1995.

Danon asked Knesset House Committee Chairman MK Yariv Levine to call a committee session on the inclusion of Barakeh in the Holocaust delegation. “A Knesset Member who has expressed himself publicly, time after time, against the State of Israel, the IDF, and the country’s institutions, should not be asked to represent Israel in an official delegation,” Danon said, “and certainly not in a ceremony of such emotional importance for the Jewish People, one that expresses more than anything else the importance of the State of Israel to the Jewish nation.”

The committee will hold the requested session next week, with the participation of Knesset Speaker Ruby Rivlin, who tendered the invitation to Barakeh.

Rivlin responded unexpectedly sharply to Danon’s criticism: “I feared that MK Barakeh would be strongly criticized by Holocaust deniers, and I admire him for his courageous acceptance of my invitation. I did not expect the insulting response to come from a Jewish MK – and especially someone who himself refused to participate in the delegation. I am sometimes embarrassed by various actions of Knesset Members. I can only be ashamed of such an illogical and unethical response.”

An aide to MK Danon said that Danon is participating in a World Likud convention at that time, and that many other MKs are not participating in the delegation. “Rivlin’s response is not at all to the point,” he said.

Barakeh himself said, “It is precisely us, the Palestinians, who can and should connect with the Jewish pain and memory of the Holocaust.” Pro-Palestinian elements often compare themselves to Jews in the Holocaust, and Israelis to the Nazis.

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3. Turkey Keeps Ayalon Crisis on Front Burner

by Tzvi Ben Gedalyahu

Turkey continues to distance itself from Israel while warming up to Iran, Syria and Lebanon. Deputy Foreign Minister Danny Ayalon implied he was wrong in trying to use the media to snub Ankara, but Turkey is demanding a full public apology.

The latest crisis with Turkey, which recently has signed several agreements with Israel’s enemies to the north, exploded when Israeli journalists broadcast Ayalon’s private remarks on how to stage a photo session that would show that the meeting with the Turkish ambassador was not a friendly session. He had instructed that the envoy sit in a lower chair than Ayalon and his aides, with an Israeli flag prominently displayed.

After the footage of his remarks was shown on local television, Ayalon said, "It is not my way to insult foreign ambassadors, and in the future I will clarify my position by more acceptable diplomatic means." Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu has publicly backed Ayalon and noted on Tuesday that Turkey has taken significant steps to improve relations with Iran, as well as with Syria and Lebanon, all of them declared enemies of Israel.

Israeli media have focused on Ayalon’s diplomatic faux pas and at the same time ignored the reason for the meeting with Turkish ambassador Oguz Celikkol. Ayalon was incensed over a recent television soap opera in Turkey that portrays Mossad agents as kidnapping babies.

The anti-Israeli program followed bitter anti-Zionist comments the past year by Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan, who has called Israel a threat to world security. Earlier this week, he visited Lebanon, where Prime Minister Saad Hariri reminded him that Israel is an enemy.

Despite the current crisis, Defense Minister Ehud Barak will visit Ankara on Sunday, according to the Turkish news service Today’s Zayman. The president of Turkey and several senior ministers will meet with the Defense Minister, but Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan will not receive him.

Israeli Foreign Ministry bureaucrats have accused Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman of trying to stir up a crisis with Turkey in order to torpedo Barak’s visit. Barak, who is chairman of the Labor party, and his political colleague, Industry, Trade and Labor Minister Binyamin Ben-Eliezer, have promoted military sales with Ankara despite Turkey’s increasingly anti-Zionist policies.

Turkey has ordered 10 Israeli UAVs worth nearly $200 million, but technical difficulties have delayed delivery. Turkey’s defense minister warned in November that he may cancel the four-year-old order if Israel does not deliver the systems by spring.

Ben-Eliezer pounced on the "Ayalon crisis” Tuesday and criticized the Deputy Foreign Minister for the “humiliation” of the Turkish envoy. "We have enough problems with the Muslim world without picking a fight with a country that has 72 million Muslims," Ben-Eliezer said.

Support for Ayalon has come from his Yisrael Beiteinu (Israel Our Home) colleague David Rotem, who said that the Deputy Foreign Minister “defended the pride of Israel and Judaism.”

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4. Israeli Team Heads for Quake-Struck Haiti; Fate of Jews Unknown

by Hana Levi Julian

An seven-member team of Israelis has left for Haiti to assess what type of aid is most needed by the tragedy-struck island nation after it was hit by a massive earthquake late Tuesday afternoon. The delegation, comprised of officials from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, IDF Home Front Command and IDF Medical Corps Personnel departed at 11:30 a.m. Israel time. Among the team members are experts in the fields of engineering, medical, logistics and rescue and recovery, government officials said.

Medical supplies, a field hospital, food stuffs and/or other humanitarian aid are among the types of assistance being considered for the desperately impoverished nation, sources said.

No Israelis have been identified among the victims of the quake that rocked the Haitian capital of Port-au-Prince, according to Israeli Ambassador to the neighboring Dominican Republic, Amos Radyan. However, the condition of the Jewish families who live in the country is not clear, he said. Telephone lines are still down, and the Israeli embassy has been unable to contact any of the families.

There are approximately 25 to 30 Jews left in Haiti at present, most of who live in Port-au-Prince. Israel and Haiti maintain full diplomatic relations, but the Jewish State does not have an embassy in the country, which is served by the embassy in the neighboring Dominican Republic.

The earthquake, which measured 7.0 on the Richter scale, was the worst to hit the area in more than 200 years and the biggest quake ever to strike the impoverished island nation. It caused the National Palace to collapse and destroyed the local headquarters for United Nations peacekeepers as well as a hospital. Many U.N. employees are listed as missing, officials said.

A number of aftershocks followed the initial tembor and many more are still expected. According to the U.S. Geological Survey’s National Earthquake Information Center, the depth of the earthquake was about six miles. It measured nine on a 1-to-10 scale that gauges the level of shaking on the ground.

Jews have lived in Haiti since 1492 CE, when Luis de Torres, a Converso, arrived as an interpreter for Christopher Columbus, albeit for the most part through hiding their Judaism. Archaeologists have uncovered an ancient synagogue of Crypto-Jews in Jeremie, and Jewish tombstones have also been discovered in port cities such as Cap Haaitien and Jacmel.

Prior to World War II, the island was home to a diverse community of Jews from France, Poland, the Netherlands, Lebanon, Syria, Egypt, and other lands. In 1937, the Haitian government also issued passports and visas to some 100 Eastern European Jews fleeing the Nazi Holocaust. By the late 1950s, many of these Jews had left the country in order to ensure that their children would marry other Jews and not assimilate.

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5. Leftist Knesset Members Angered by Rabbi’s Pro-Life Letter

by Malkah Fleisher

The Knesset Committee for the Advancement of Women began discussing a letter issued from the Chief Rabbinate’s office to the rabbis of Israel’s cities, asking them to work to decrease the number of abortions conducted in Israel.

Chief Rabbi of Be’er Sheva and member of the Chief Rabbinical Council, Rabbi Yehuda Deri, raised the ire of Knesset members Orit Zuaretz (Kadima) and Nitzan Horowitz (Meretz) Tuesday when he said, "There is nothing more important than encouraging births."

"Our duty is to raise awareness about the abortion issue, women need to be informed," said Rabbi Deri, "many women do not know that the effect of abortion is murder." Rabbi Deri told the committee that the pamphlets and materials he spreads inform readers that "Jewish law equates abortion with murder," as the abortion is performed on a fetus, which is considered a living person.

Politics of abortion
Zuaretz replied with outrage that city rabbis who receive their salaries from the government are trying to frighten women into not performing abortions, and that a committee formed to prevent abortions and wrest away from women the ability to make decisions about their own bodies has no place in democratic society.

Associate Chairman of the Israeli pro-life organization Efrat, Dr. Eli Schussheim, responded that issues of pregnancy and abortion should be examined outside the political context, and viewed as a purely medical issue. "A woman has rights over her body," Schussheim said. "But according to the law, she is entitled to make an educated decision. She must be given medical information and assistance."

Schussheim enthused that not one woman he has encountered who decided not to abort her child ever regretted it, and said some have become volunteers for his organization.

Support for mothers
Over the past 30 years, Efrat has dissuaded 25,000 women from having abortions. By providing encouragement, social support, monthly food and baby supply packages as well as essential baby gear to women who feel overwhelmed by the idea of supporting a baby, Efrat helps women who would otherwise abort their babies to summon the courage to go through with the pregnancy. The organization also claims that women often are not made aware of the negative psychological effects abortion may have on them before making their decision.

Rabbi Menachem Burshtein of the Puah Institute was also present at the discussion. Started in 1990, the organization is named after a biblical midwife who secretly delivered Jewish children against the orders of the Egyptian pharaoh. It provides free fertility counseling, medical services, advice and expert oversight of fertility treatments so they can be carried out in accordance with Jewish law. The institute receives approximately 180 calls a day for assistance and guidance through the process of fertility treatment as it pertains to religious Jews.

20,000 abortions a year
According to Israeli estimates there are about twenty thousand legal abortions performed each year, not considering the number of illegal abortions also performed.

On the opposite side of the spectrum, Israel ranked first in the rate of fertility treatments in an international study conducted by Canada’s McMaster University in 2002. The 48 countries included in the study averaged 289 fertility treatments per million residents. Israel registered almost 6 times the international average, with second-place Iceland performing just over half the number of annual treatments as Israel.

In 2007, about 3.7 percent of all deliveries resulted from fertility treatments.
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6. Gush Emunim Leader: Yesha Council Problematic but Irreplaceable

by Gil Ronen

The head of the unofficial Samaria Residents’ Council, veteran settlement activist Benny Katzover, said that while it would be “ideal” to create a body to replace the Yesha Council, such a move is not practical. He said that the Yesha Council had become too political and was not suited for carrying out grassroots struggles – but also said that there was no alternative to it, and that he has hopes that it would change over time.

The Yesha Council of local government heads in Judea and Samaria came under severe attack after the expulsion from Gush Katif and has been accused of betraying the settlers and collaborating with the government.

Katzover did not sound particularly upset over the announcement by Pinchas Wallerstein, another veteran activist, that he was retiring from the position of Yesha Council Director. “On the one hand I feel sorrow,” he told Arutz Sheva. “Pinchas is a good man, very talented at getting things done…, a man with talent and devotion and energy, but at this time, when they are preparing another sellout of property in the Land of Israel, we need new forces.”

The Yesha Council is being run in a better way now that it is under Dayan, Katzover said. “The ideological line in the Yesha Council in recent years was not right for the Gush Katif struggle, and it certainly is not right for today’s struggle. We need people who will not try to be popular with the Left, but instead we need people who will know how to take action deep inside the territory and will lead the public in the struggles. Danny Dayan is going in that direction.”

Times have changed, said Katzover, who was a leader of the Gush Emunim movement since the 1970s. “Today we must not stutter; we need a much clearer and well defined line,” he explained. “We cannot hear denouncements of soldiers who protest and denouncements of rabbis who speak their minds. Now that Netanyahu is cooking up negotiations for the 1967 borders, we need a personality that will know how to carry out the struggle.”

Ha’ivri: bring back Katzover
David Ha’ivri, director of the Shomron Liaison Office, said: "The Yesha council has become an over-politicized lobby and a burden to the settlement movement. The organization is set in it ways with prehistoric protests and gimmicks. Presenting a timid representation of the rights of Jewish communities in Yehuda and Shomron. This group needs to ether be shut down or revolutionized from the top down. Wallerstein’s departure is five years too late for Gush Katif, but not too late for the rest of Yehuda and Shomron if the correct changes are made."

"Benny Katzover could be a fine candidate to bring in the old time winds of Gush Emunim together with the strength of the Hilltop youth and people of Homesh. If we are to save Yehuda and Shomron we will need to put all politeness aside, roll up our sleves and start fighting."

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7. Has Rabbi Druckman’s Refusal Stance Cost Him His Job?

by Hillel Fendel

A day after the rabbi said soldiers must refuse orders to demolish Jewish homes, the Civil Commission fired him as Head of the Conversion Authority – “because of his age.”

The Civil Commission says the decision was made well before Rabbi Druckman made his position on refusal known, and that the two were unrelated. The Commission says that Rabbi Druckman’s age, 77, makes a renewal of his term unfeasible, as does the fact that he has several other positions of responsibility.

No comment was immediately available from President Shimon Peres, age 86.

Rabbi Druckman attempted to mediate in the recent dispute between Rabbi Eliezer Melamed, head of Yeshivat Har Bracha, and Defense Minister Ehud Barak, after Rabbi Melamed called for refusal of evict-and-demolish orders, did not condemn in-army protests, and spoke disparagingly of careerist army officers. He was apparently unsuccessful, however, as Barak has still not rescinded his order removing the yeshiva from the special Hesder arrangement allowing students to combine Torah study with army service.

Since then, Rabbi Druckman has clarified his own opinion on refusal, saying, “Soldiers must first ask to be exempted from demolishing Jewish homes, without fanfare; if there is no other choice, however, he must refuse.”

According to the reports, Rabbi Druckman will leave his position as Head of the Conversion Authority at the end of this month. Chief Rabbi Shlomo Amar has asked for an urgent meeting with Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu to discuss the matter, and Netanyahu himself is said to be already working to change the decision.

Rabbi Chaim Druckman was born in pre-World War II Poland, and was spirited out under a false name to the Land of Israel in 1942 at the age of 10. He later was one of the first students in the first Hesder yeshiva, Kerem B’Yavneh, and later founded the high school and hesder yeshiva in Or Etzion, served as a Knesset Member from 1977 to 1988, and again from 1999 until 2003, and became the head of the Yeshivot Bnei Akiva movement and the Association of Hesder Yeshivot.

Har Bracha and Hesder
Regarding the removal of Yeshivat Har Bracha from the Hesder program, sources in the yeshiva said they know of no behind-the-scenes progress in reaching a compromise or rescinding of the decision. The yeshiva has filed a suit with the Supreme Court against the removal, which is to be heard on January 27.

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8. Eli Yishai: Jewish Sabbath Work? – No Business License

by Gil Ronen

Interior Minister Eli Yishai wants to pass a law revoking the business licenses of establishments that employ Jews on the Sabbath, but the move is vigorously opposed by the Finance Ministry and by senior figures in the business sector, as well as voices of the “man on the street” quoted by media.

Businesses are already forbidden by the existing Hours of Work and Rest Law from employing Jews on Sabbaths, yet the law is enforced laxly by the Ministry of Industry, Trade and Labor, which is headed by Labor’s Binyamin Ben-Eliezer. The new bill, which is currently being debated by the Knesset’s Interior Committee, would prevent businesses from being licensed by the local municipality if they do not commit to uphold the Hours of Work and Rest Law.

The Finance Ministry and senior members of the business community have voiced opposition to the bill, which they claim would hurt businesses. The Head of the Federation of Commerce Bureaus, Attorney Uriel Lin, wrote Finance Minister Yuval Steinitz that “the proposal would turn Israel from a country that respects religion to a religious country.”

Aides to the minister released a statement in which they asked whether it is proper for the government to selectively enforce its own laws. Workers are legally entitled to rest from the week’s work on Sabbath, and to abstain from enforcing the law is to ignore their basic rights, they said.

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