Gaza terrorists fire shoulder-launched missile at Israeli helicopter

Palestinian terrorists in Gaza launched an anti-aircraft missile at an Israeli Air Force helicopter.

It is believed to be the first time that the Strela shoulder-launched surface-to-air missile was used against an Israeli aircraft. The missile fired last week missed its target — a helicopter flying over the Gaza Strip.

Israeli defense officials speaking anonymously confirmed the attack to The Associated Press. The Israel Defense Forces has not officially commented on the report of the attack that appeared in the Hebrew daily Yediot Achronot on Tuesday.

The missile most likely originated in Libya and was captured by rebels who helped overthrow the Gadhafi regime, according to The Israel Project.

Tens of thousands of anti-aircraft missiles went missing in the aftermath of the Gadhafi regime’s overthrow. Israeli intelligence has long warned that many of them made their way from Libya and into the hands of Palestinian terrorist groups in the Gaza Strip, according to The Israel Project.

It is feared that Palestinian terrorists will use such missiles to target an airliner carrying civilians.

Clinton: Russia shipping attack choppers to Syria

The United States charged Russia with delivering attack helicopters to Syria.

“We have confronted the Russians about stopping their continued arms shipments to Syria,” Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said Tuesday at an appearance with Israeli President Shimon Peres. “We are concerned about the latest information we have that there are attack helicopters on the way from Russia to Syria.”

Clinton suggested that Russia was showing bad faith in the international effort to oust the Bashar Assad regime in the 15th month of its crackdown on opponents by claiming that its arms transfers were not used in the crackdown.

“That is patently untrue,” she said. Syria has used helicopter gunships in attacks on civilians, according to reports.

israel is furious at the arms transfers; its leaders are concerned that the Assad regime may attempt to draw Israel into a conflict as a distraction.

“What happens in Syria matters greatly to the U.S. but matters drastically to Israel,” Clinton said.

She said the United States would give an effort led by former U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Annan to achieve a peaceful transition until mid-July to see results, adding that she had made clear to Annan that Iran could not be involved.

Peres, in remarks at a lunch hosted by the Brookings Institution’s Saban Center, said the Arab League should take the lead in assuming responsibility for the Syrian transition.

Clinton gave the Russians higher marks for their role among the major powers seeking greater nuclear transparency in Iran.

Moscow is due to host the next round of talks with Iran on June 18-19, and Clinton suggested that the Russians share the Western perception that the Iranians are stalling.

“The Russians have made it clear they want the Iranians to advance the discussion in Moscow, not just to come, listen and leave,” she said.

Hollywood’s helicopter moms vie for Power in ‘Talk’

“Girls Talk” is Roger Kumble’s latest play about narcissistic Hollywood power brokers, but the sardonic black comedy is not set within the studio system. Rather, it revolves around status-climbing mommies embroiled in their own power plays: nanny poaching, and — in the most cutthroat game of all — securing coveted spots for their tots in the elite day schools. They are specifically Jewish moms whose children attend the fictional Temple Jerusalem preschool in Los Angeles. 

Lori Rosen (Brooke Shields) is an ex-television writer who has given up her career to mother three children, and she must choose between co-chairing the school’s annual fundraiser or going back to work (meaning that her daughter may never “do” school in this town again). Claire (Constance Zimmer of “Entourage”), Lori’s former writing partner, is single and trying to lure Lori back to the writers room; Jane (Andréa Bendewald) is a failed actress who has reinvented herself as a supermom to be feared; and Scarlett (Nicole Paggi), a Southern blonde in the process of converting to Judaism, is raising her son in the faith, not realizing that others do not perceive him as an MOT. 

Kumble’s 2003 satire, “Turnaround,” about a Jewish hack who writes an offensive Holocaust film because he thinks it will sell, was so provocative that Kumble, in an interview before opening night, said he was “terrified his motivations would be misconstrued.”

“Turnaround” turned out to be a critical and box-office success. But that didn’t prevent the writer-director from apologizing for his latest work during an interview at the Lee Strasberg Theatre, where “Girls Talk” opens March 18.

In fact, Kumble — who has also written and directed films such as “Cruel Intentions” and “The Sweetest Thing” — revealed that he had just come from a meeting at his own daughter’s Jewish day school, at Temple Israel of Hollywood, where he told everyone that the play’s school and principal in no way represents reality. Kumble’s wife, Mary, who is not Jewish but is raising their three young children as Jews, had a wonderful experience co-chairing the school’s fundraiser — but telling that story would have been boring, he explained. 

Even so, Kumble, 44, got nervous when the head of Temple Israel’s day school enthused that she hoped to bring all her teachers to the show. “I tell people that everyone in the play is a composite, and that it is a satire,” he said. And if things go badly: “I’ll say, ‘I’m sorry.  I’m so sorry.’ But people over there know me, so they know my sense of humor.”

Kumble does like to provoke audiences, and he considers “Girls Talk” an “equal-opportunity offender.” The piece not only pokes fun at the moms-with-nannies set but also at real institutions, such as the Center for Early Education in West Hollywood, which is described as “catering to celebrities, homosexuals and really poor people.” Also skewered is the elite private club Soho House, where, Scarlett gushes, you can take a Polaroid of yourself and hang it on your wall so everyone who can’t get in can see you were there. 

“I did my best to avoid cheap shots,” Kumble said of the piece. “[But] I like writing plays where adults act like sixth-graders at recess. I always see Hollywood sort of like high school — it’s the cool place where the cool people hang out, and others can’t get in.”

Zimmer, who plays the studio executive Dana Gordon on HBO’s Hollywood satire “Entourage,” said she admires Kumble’s plays “because they’re like events. They depict the good, the bad and the ugly about our industry — more so the ugly that doesn’t often get represented. ‘Entourage’ is even a little sugar-coated,” she added, as Shields agreed that the TV series is “a little ‘nice.’ ” 

Kumble’s previous Hollywood plays were part of a hilariously mordant trilogy that revolved around a depraved fictional screenwriter, the author’s alter ego, who was portrayed in “Turnaround” by David Schwimmer. The character harkens back to the days when, Kumble said, he “was driven by envy and ambition. It was the ‘you have it, I want it’ mentality.” 

Kumble wrote “Turnaround” after his own personal turnaround nine years ago, when he stopped drinking and compulsively focusing on his career.

“Girls Talk” began when Kumble felt pigeonholed in his film career around 2008, when he was “dying to get back to the theater,” he said. Because of his male-centric earlier work, he said, “I was being told by studio executives that I couldn’t write women, which kind of pissed me off.” So he vowed to write an all-female play.

“That was right around the time that my wife and I were going through applications to day schools for our oldest child, and I had a front-row seat to that stressful nightmare,” he said. “I could see it very much from my wife’s point of view.”

The characters ended up being Jews, he said, because his own humor is “very Jewish”  — the “Who is a Jew?” subplot was inspired by the trip Kumble and his wife took to Israel for their 10th anniversary.

So why aren’t any of the five actresses in “Girls Talk” Jewish themselves?  It’s not that Kumble wouldn’t have liked to cast Jews. However, certain realities prevailed; he needed actresses based in Los Angeles who were not auditioning for pilots, who could play comedy as well as pathos and who had theater credibility. And one could not ask for a better cast than Shields, et al.

Shields, who pronounced every Yiddish word impeccably during a recent read-through, praised Kumble for his humor and his sensitivity. “There are so few roles written for women that are complex and funny, heartbreaking and smart,” she said. “We’re very often relegated to being props or ‘the girlfriend’ or somebody who perpetuates the rest of the story or the male lead. ‘Girls Talk’ is a positive exploration of the complexities of what it means to be a mother, to have a career, and to somehow always feel like you’re falling short.”

You can’t be too involved in supporting your child

A while back, the president of my alma mater penned a scathing denunciation of pushy parents. Barnard College’s Judith R. Shapiro cited egregious examples — a mother who met with a dean to discuss her daughter’s research project and parents who don’t let their children get a word in edgewise on campus visits. Her op-ed joined in the media sport of haranguing “helicopter parents.”

While I saw Shapiro’s point, as a mother, I resented that she didn’t at the same time empathize with parents’ strong loving and protective feelings and our separation pangs as our fledglings go off to school. I wished she had addressed the well-meaning parent’s ever-present dilemma: How do you draw the line between supporting your child and inappropriately taking over?

Fortunately, there’s a huge body of psychological research to answer just this question, as I found when co-authoring, “Pressured Parents, Stressed-out Kids: Dealing With Competition While Raising a Successful Child” (Prometheus, 2008).

Thirty years of research, much of it conducted by my co-author, Clark University psychologist Wendy Grolnick, has found that the more parents are involved with their children — be they toddlers or teens — the better it is for their kids. In fact, you can’t be too involved with your child. A multitude of studies has found that the more support we give our children, the happier they are and the more they achieve. High parental involvement gives kids high self-esteem and helps them feel secure and solidly connected to us.

When Grolnick studied parents of elementary school children, for example, she found that the more involved mothers were with their children — that is, the more time they spent with their kids and the more they knew about what their children did, as well as their likes and dislikes — the better their children did on report cards and standardized achievement tests, and the fewer learning and behavior problems they had in school. The highly involved parents weren’t necessarily at home more than other parents, but when they were, they made sure to spend time with their children. They asked about their children’s school day, knew which subjects they enjoyed or didn’t and who their friends were.

There’s only one caveat to involvement: It’s wise to make sure you’re respecting your child’s autonomy at the same time.

But just how do you do that?

Let’s first define autonomy: Autonomy is the feeling of initiating an action. We want to solve our own problems whenever possible. That doesn’t mean doing whatever you want. Autonomy is simply a willingness to do something — the opposite of feeling controlled by someone else.

When children — in fact, all human beings — feel that what they do is self-initiated, they’re happier. And they perform better, because the enjoyment motivates them to study or practice more, building up their skills.

Think about your own experience. You might have to learn Excel for work, for example, but if you choose to learn it for tracking your family’s budget, you’re much more likely to enjoy it.

How can you make sure that your involvement isn’t intrusive or controlling?

Take your child’s point of view and acknowledge her feelings.

Say your 10-year-old isn’t doing his homework. You are thinking that studying will get him into a good college and a good job, but he’s reasoning, “It’s going to get dark soon. I want to have some fun now. I can do my homework later.”

You could take his point of view by trying to imagine, “If I were his age, what might I prefer doing right now — riding my bike outside or reading a chapter on coal production?” Then you can say, “I understand that it’s going to get dark soon. But tonight we’re going to Aunt Karen’s for dinner, so unfortunately, this is the only time to do your science homework.” What counts is acknowledging your child’s feelings. You want to convey “I’m with you.”

Support your child’s independent problem solving.

One of the best ways to support your child’s independent problem solving is to ask questions, as I did when my son, Zach, was making a pinhole camera for the middle school science fair. Instead of simply taking him to a store to get the cardboard box he needed, I asked him, “Where do you think we could find a big box?”

He looked befuddled. But after a minute he said, “I know — behind the store on Pico Boulevard where they sell refrigerators!”

“How could we make the pinhole?” I asked next — and so on.

Give your child choices.

Even a tiny degree of choice boosts a child’s feelings of autonomy. Sometimes it’s simply a question of your language. Studies have shown that words like have to, must, don’t and I want you to have a significant chilling effect on kids’ feelings of autonomy. Instead, you might try giving limits as information, including the reasoning behind the rule. So if your child is painting, you might say, “The materials need to be kept clean so you can keep using them for a long time,” or “To keep the paint clean, the brush needs to be washed before switching colors.” (I know this wording sounds awkward. But using the third person avoids phrases like, “I want you to” or “you must,” which can lead to a power struggle.)

As my own children have gotten older, I’ve found that phrases like “have you considered….?” or “do you think you might want to … ?” also do the trick.

Encouraging your child’s feelings of autonomy will help you stay involved without controlling him. That way you can stay close to your child without becoming one of those dreaded helicopter parents.

I wish my alma mater’s president had given at least a nod to the normal, strong and essentially healthy impulses to help our children when they fly from the nest, whether to preschool or to college. After all, the urge to protect is in our genes: Those hunter-gatherer kids whose parents watched over them best were the ones who survived. They became our ancestors, and we’re the modern recipients of their genes, hardwired to want our children to win whatever battles they may face.

Since our kids face an increasingly competitive world, it’s no wonder we get anxious and want to do all we can to support them.

Kathy Shenkin Seale, a writer living in Santa Monica, will discuss her book, “Pressured Parents, Stressed-out Kids: Dealing With Competition While Raising a Successful Child,” at Village Books in Pacific Palisades on Sept. 4, 7:30 p.m.


The way to see Israel, I finally learned after two years of living there and umpteen visits, is by helicopter. We were five journalists whizzing south from Hertzliya, several-hundred feet in the air. Our guide was Marcus Sheff, a former journalist who now runs something called The Israel Project in, um, Israel. The organization regularly takes foreign journalists on these airborne “Intellicopter” tours of the country, to get a better understanding of Israel’s security concerns.

It’s the way to go. From up there, everything hard about Israel disappears: the traffic, the tension, the fear of bombs and rockets, the rising shekel and weakening dollar, the take-no-prisoners approach to every human interaction.

What you get instead is a God’s eye view of the Holy Land: close enough to see day-to-day life, far enough not to get involved — just like God.

The message Sheff wanted to get across was simple: Israel is trying to deal with its many security threats in as humane and effective a way as possible, given its precarious geography. Out the left window, he pointed to where the fence becomes a 28-foot wall, separating the West Bank Palestinian town of Kalkilya from Israel’s Highway 6 and the Israeli town of Kfar Saba.

“Look,” said Sheff, a former writer for The Nation, “Nobody likes walls. The wall in fact is ugly, and it does cut into people’s livelihood. It does impede them.”

Since the wall went up, Sheff explained, terror attacks have declined precipitously.

“If there is an agreement, you can remove walls, you can move fences,” he continued. “But you can’t bring back the 220 people killed by terrorists in 2002.”

We circled over Jerusalem. It was midday — “bad light,” groused the photographer from Stern — and the Holy City looked beautiful and small, the gold dome of Al-Aqsa Mosque a gem set into a circular jewel. The lines between Arab east and Jewish west, the compact Arab villages encircled by modern Jewish neighborhoods — it was all ancient, modern, intertwined, a GoogleMaps Rubik’s Cube. We cut west toward Sderot.

As Sheff explained how a rain of Hamas rockets followed Israel’s unilateral pullout from Gaza, we flew over a huge factory campus in Kiryat Gat.

“Intel,” Sheff pointed out. “They built their first factory outside of the United States right here.”

We landed just across from a large ranch house. It looked more like JR’s ranch in “Dallas” than the Negev.

“That’s Sharon’s house,” Sheff explained. “We’re using his pad.”

“Is that OK?” I asked.

“He’s in a coma, Lilly’s in the next world, and his son’s in jail,” someone said. “Who’s gonna complain?”

Ah, back on the ground in Israel.

We toured Sderot behind a tour bus of police chiefs from Georgia. Sderot, which has suffered some 7,000 rocket attacks since 2001, has become a kind of twisted attraction for outside security officials and pro-Israel tourists. (“Sderot is the new Yad Vashem,” The New York Times’ Ethan Bronner told me.) During the three days I spent there — with the Israel Project and then with a United Jewish Communities trip — no rockets fell on the city.

“Maybe we should arrange for some explosions,” an Israeli diplomat joked with me later. “So visitors aren’t disappointed.”

I was actually fine with it.

A few days after coming to earth, I drove up to Tel Aviv and attended a conference at the David InterContinental Hotel hosted by the Re’ut Institute. Re’ut founder Gidi Grinstein gathered many of Israel’s best and brightest entrepreneurs, high-tech innovators, thinkers and leaders to brainstorm a path for Israel to become one of the 15 leading countries in the world in terms of quality of life of its citizens. (The Jewish Journal was a co-sponsor.)

The speakers offered a “new Zionism,” a vision of an Israel that integrated all its citizens — Charedi, Arab, Bedouin — into a productive economy, that broke down trade and development barriers with the rest of the world, that offered all its citizens a world-class education, high-speed transit, green tech, etc.

“Israel is hardwired for globalization,” said the conference’s keynote speaker Thomas L. Friedman, the New York Times columnist. Friedman, of course, is the author of “The World Is Flat,” about adapting to an international, borderless high-tech economy. Israel, he pointed out, has three assets that will help it in a flat world: it values individual initiative, it is linked to a “cyber tribe” — the global network of Diaspora Jewry — and it values innovation. In that Asian wonder Singapore, Friedman pointed out, rote-taught students have to take courses on how to be creative. “One thing Israel doesn’t have to teach is courses on innovation,” he said.

I ran Friedman’s optimism by Tal Samuel-Azran, a young professor of new media at Ben Gurion University.

“I teach them what Tom Friedman says,” Samuel-Azran said, “and they say, ‘But what about Sderot?’ If the world is flat, why do we need these walls to protect us from our neighbors?”

That, of course, is Israel’s conundrum and curse. To be a 21st-century country fighting battles fueled by Iron Age beliefs. To boast of Intel while taking tourists to see holes left by Islamic Jihad mortars. To fly over an Israeli Bedouin village like Hashem Zaneh, whose 2,300 residents have no electricity and a single gas generator-powered laptop, and land in Tel Aviv, where there seem to be as many iPhones as semi-nude sun-worshippers. To be in Israel is to be whipsawed between optimism and pessimism.

And now, just as Iran’s president reaffirms his commitment to nuclear development, news comes that Israel and Hamas may be signing an Egyptian-brokered ceasefire, Hezbollah and Israel may exchange prisoners and Syria and Israel are closer than ever to a Turkey-brokered agreement.

Israel: It all looks so much simpler from the air.

Israel booming but helicopters may be an omen of trouble ahead

On a recent morning, as Israeli Defense Minister Ehud Barak ratcheted up warnings that Israel was preparing to launch a major operation in the Gaza Strip, I stand on an Israel Defense Forces (IDF) lookout a few hundred yards from Gaza, as two dark Apache helicopters swoop down and fire on a nearby hill.

The helicopters let loose an intense barrage, dispatch their flares, bank sharply and return to attack again. Lt. Col. David Benjamin, the former IDF legal adviser in Gaza, suggests we leave the lookout and move behind a nearby rock. Meanwhile, IDF jeeps race across the path alongside the border fence in front of us.

Benjamin explains that these actions occur on a daily basis up and down the border. Just as the IDF works constantly to keep a small patch within Gaza clear of terrorists, so, too, Hamas makes efforts every day to get through, over or under the fence — and to engage the IDF. Hamas’ success rate has been minimal, he says, and their casualties significant, “but they’re still coming, still trying, every day.”

The key issue, Benjamin emphasizes, is Gaza’s border with Egypt.

“We patrol our land border, and our Navy patrols the sea border,” he says, “but the Hamas weapons are smuggled in under the border with Egypt.”

Benjamin notes that he drafted some of the legal paperwork that effected the Israeli withdrawal from Gaza two summers ago. “I told my commander when I handed him the documents that we were making history. He said, ‘Don’t be so sure — we might be back.'”

Nearby in Sderot, kids play outside during a teachers strike, even though Qassam rockets strike in or near the city every day. As Sderot suffers from the barrage and the flight of thousands of residents, Vice Mayor Aron Malka tells me that crime is at an all-time low and going down.

The community coming together in time of stress, I ask?

“No,” he says, “the Bedouins have disappeared” because of the Qassams.

Living in Sderot is “like being in a prison of life,” Malka says.

He smiles just a bit when told that artwork from the traumatized children of Sderot is touring venues in Los Angeles.

“That gives us hope,” he says. “The Jews will learn of Sderot, and it will give us the strength to stay.” Malka was born in Sderot 42 years ago, and he and his family are clearly staying, despite not having a shelter in their house.

Up north, white U.N. helicopters patrol what is supposed to be the Hezbollah-free area north of the Israeli border to the Litani River. Retired Col. Kobi Marom, former commander of IDF forces in the north, points to a helicopter hovering over a Lebanese road that his convoy used to transit regularly.

“Once a man stopped at my truck,” he says. “I was going to check him out, but before I could open the door, he exploded on my truck.” Marmon and his reinforced command vehicle survived; an officer in the vehicle behind him died.

Metulla, which sits as close to Lebanon as West Hollywood sits to Beverly Hills, reflects none of the scars of last year’s battle. The main streets and malls of Kiryat Shmona, likewise, have been repaired, and everyday life has returned. When I visited this area during the war last summer, I heard the pounding of IDF ordnance flying into Lebanon; this year I hear the sounds of commerce and traffic.

Yet Marom points north and shakes his head.

“They will try attacking IDF patrols again, soon,” he says of Hezbollah. “Nothing is more important to them than showing that they can fight Israel.”

On the outskirts of Kiryat Shmona, we stop at a memorial to 73 soldiers killed in the crash of two troop transport helicopters 10 years ago.

“I was the commanding officer, and I was here within five minutes,” Marom says, “but there was no one to save.”

My driver, Roni, looks at the memorial and does a double-take.

“My son was born the night of the crash,” he explains. “We celebrated his birth, and then one hour later news of the helicopter crash came on the TV. I saw the name ‘Shai’ twice — there were two soldiers named ‘Shai.’ It just clicked — we named our son Noam Shai.”

After a while, Roni looks at me.

“There’s so much meaning here,” he reflects. “Or maybe you just create meaning to keep yourself here.”

Israel is booming. Ben-Gurion Airport is on track for a record year. Entrepreneurs and foreign investment are flooding the zone. Hotel rooms are a precious commodity. On my recent visit I saw more construction cranes (more investment) and fewer shomerim at restaurants (less fear of suicide bombers) than ever before. And yet I flew home with the feeling that, one day soon, helicopters will again create meaning in Israel.

Jack Weiss is a member of the Los Angeles City Council.

Remembering Zvika

“I have the worst possible news,” said our friend Avram Bar-Shai, calling from LAX. “Zvika has been killed in a helicopter crash and we are on the way to his funeral.”



OU Reaches Out to Deaf Community

The Orthodox Union’s deaf outreach came to Long Beach for a Shabbaton gathering of the deaf and their families, a small event that meant a lot to the often-isolated Orthodox deaf community.

“There wasn’t a big turnout, but I think that it’s really necessary; when you have a deaf child who’s Jewish, there’s a smaller population,” said Jo Cooperman, who drove up from San Diego County with her 3-year-old deaf son, Jadyn Avram. “He always comes back really, really happy from these things. It has a wonderful effect on his self-esteem and his identification with Jews, with deaf Jews.”

Long Beach’s Congregation Lubavitch hosted about 30 deaf adults and children and their families at the OU’s Jan. 7-8 “Our Way” Shabbaton. Long Beach attorney Allen Sragow, who put up about 10 “Our Way” attendees at his house, sponsored the small Orthodox Union agency’s fourth annual Southern California gathering. Organizers said last weekend’s heavy rain cut into the attendance level.

“It’s always a fresh perspective for me to see the Jewish deaf, how they’ve come to understand their interaction with Jewish life,” said Jan Moore, a North Hollywood optometrist who has two deaf sons. His teenage daughter, who can hear, came to Long Beach with two of her Valley Torah High School classmates so the trio could support deaf children and their hearing siblings.

Flying into Los Angeles to lead the “Our Way” Shabbaton was Rabbi Eliezer Lederfeind, who is not deaf, but is the son of deaf parents and lives in Brooklyn with his own six children – including deaf daughters Lida, 13, and Toby, 18. Both have cochlear implants allowing them to hear.

Lida Lederfeind told The Journal in a telephone interview, “I feel like I’m part of everything.”

Every two months, Lida’s father travels to Orthodox deaf enclaves around the country to conduct an “Our Way” Shabbaton.

“More and more deaf youth are Orthodox. They should be able to mainstream in a shul,” said Lederfeind, who oversaw the “Our Way” group’s spirited – and at times humorous – deaf dialogue about Israel in the Lubavitch shul’s small study.

When Lederfeind asked what was the sign language gesture to describe the late Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat, someone jokingly responded: “It’s a sign that you can’t use in public.” – David Finnigan, Contributing Writer

Israel ‘Line of Fire’ Program Comes to UJ

An armed Israeli attack helicopter spots a Palestinian ambulance on the road below. Aware that such ambulances have been used to transport terrorists and weapons, the pilot checks with his ground controller whether to strafe and destroy the vehicle. Pilot and controller talk back and forth, weighing whether the ambulance is more likely to carry weapons or sick people. When the vehicle finally pulls up to a hospital, they decide to give it the benefit of the doubt and call off the attack.

The dramatic, real-life incident, with actual footage of the chase taken from the cockpit, will be a highlight of the Jan. 20 event, titled “Air Force in the Line of Fire.”

Israeli and American helicopter fighter pilots will discuss the moral choices facing them during combat missions in the airspace above Israel and Iraq.

Panelists will also speak about the dangers and fears of combat, new weaponry, Israeli-American military cooperation and the future of the Israeli air force. A Q-and-A period will follow.

Speakers will include reserve Maj. Gen. Nehemia Dagan, founder of Israel’s attack helicopter strike forces; two other veteran Israeli combat pilots; and Col. Bill Morris of the Pentagon, former assault helicopter commander in the 101st Airborne Division.

The event, in English, will start at 7:30 p.m. at the University of Judaism, sponsored by the Council of the Israeli Community (CIC) and 12 other local organizations. The CIC is a support organization for the State of Israel and the estimated 100,000 Israelis living in the Los Angeles area, said Chaim Linder, the group’s first vice president.

General tickets for the Jan. 20 event are $10 (CIC members) and $12 (general); reserved seats, $25; reception with the pilots and one reserved seat, $50.

For reservations and information, call (818) 342-7241. – Tom Tugend, Contributing Editor

Court: NVJCC Familes Can Sue Gun Companies

Three families, whose children were shot in the 1999 attack on the North Valley Jewish Community Center (NVJCC), can pursue their lawsuit against the companies that made the weapons used in the shooting spree.

The U.S. Supreme Court on Jan. 10 let stand a ruling by the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals that the suit could go to trial and declined to hear an appeal for dismissal by two gun manufacturers and two distributors.

The suit grew out of the Aug. 10, 1999, attack by Buford O. Furrow, Jr., a self-avowed anti-Semite and white supremacist on the NVJCC in Granada Hills, which left three teenagers, one adult and three children wounded.

Lead plaintiff in the suit is the mother of Joseph S. Ileto, a Filipino-American postal carrier, who was killed by Furrow the same day in a separate attack.

Last May in San Francisco, the full 26-member appeals court, in a split decision, confirmed that the case could be tried. At the time, Donna Finkelstein, whose then 16-year-old daughter Mindy suffered two gunshot wounds to her leg, told The Journal, “I am so elated that we are finally moving forward.”

Similar sentiments were expressed by Alan Stepakoff and Loren Lieb, whose then 6-year-old son, Joshua Stepakoff, was also shot in the leg.

Also participating in the suit are Eleanor and Charles Kadish, whose son Benjamin, then 5, was the most seriously injured, with gunshots to his stomach and legs.

Among the large cache of weapons found in Furrow’s car were an Austrian-made Glock 9-mm handgun and a 9-mm rifle, made by North China Industries, both manufacturers are defendants in the suit.

In filing the original suit more than four years ago, attorney Joshua Horwitz of the Educational Fund to Stop Gun Violence said that Furrow, a convicted felon with a history of mental instability, should not have been allowed to build an arsenal of assault-style weapons.

“It is not enough to let guns go out of your factory door and say, ‘Sorry, we don’t know where they’re headed,'”Horwitz said.

The case will now return to the U.S. district court in Los Angeles for trial.

Congressional legislation which would have barred lawsuits targeting the gun industry failed last spring. – TT