Jewish emergency info card a hit with LAPD; Postcard and dog tag campaign seeks release of Israeli


Jewish emergency info card a hit With LAPD

LAPD patrol officers in the San Fernando Valley are now packing a powerful resource small enough to fit into a breast pocket. The Jewish Federation/Valley Alliance has teamed up with Deputy Chief Michael Moore and LAPD chaplain Kenneth Crawford to create the Community Social Services Card, a business-card-size resource that lists Jewish agencies best quipped to deal with particular emergency situations.

Police are accustomed to calling in pastors when they encounter a troubled teen or domestic disputes, but Valley Alliance Executive Director Carol Koransky said the officers have been at a loss when it comes to the Jewish community.

“Having the name of a rabbi isn’t going to do it,” she said, adding that one person can’t address all of the issues an officer might encounter.

The card lists which agencies officers should to turn to in the event of family violence intervention (Jewish Family Service), seniors evicted from an apartment (Bet Tzedek) and mental health services for teens (Vista Del Mar), among other problems.

Koransky came up with the card idea during a recent meeting in Mission Hills with LAPD division heads.

The Valley Alliance originally printed 300 cards, which were so well received by the LAPD that its Valley Bureau is now awaiting 1,000 more cards to be distributed among the six divisions. An additional 200 will also be distributed to Fire Department stations in the Valley area.

If the Valley-based pilot program works well, Koransky said the cards are expected to become standard issue to police citywide.— Adam Wills, Associate Editor

Postcard and dog tag campaign seeks release of Israeli soldiers

Remember the names of Ehud Goldwasser, Eldad Regev and Gilad Shalit?

They are the three Israeli soldiers, whose kidnappings by Hamas and Hezbollah terrorists triggered the Israeli campaigns in Gaza and Lebanon.

The fighting ended with the three men still in foreign hands, but a Los Angeles-based drive to obtain their release is picking up steam. More momentum will be added when Jewish leaders from across the United States meet in our city next month.

This week, The Jewish Federation of Greater Los Angeles is distributing another large batch of postcards and dog tags imprinted with the names of the kidnapped soldiers.Each of the cards displays photos of the three men under the heading, “For them, the war is not over.” On the reverse side is a message addressed, respectively, to Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, U.N. Secretary General Kofi Annan and Jacob Kellenberger, International Red Cross president.

“I urge you to do everything in your power to see to the well-being and safe return of these brave young men captured while defending their country,” reads part of the request to the three world leaders.

Approximately 36,000 cards were sent to synagogues for distribution during Yom Kippur services, and an additional 60,000 are being printed. Only a few hundred dog tags could be produced before the High Holidays and went mainly to community leaders. However, an additional 7,000 to 10,000 are being ordered and will go to college and other students through Hillel campus offices.

In the third stage of the campaign, the cards and dog tags will be presented to delegates attending the general assembly of the United Jewish Communities, meeting Nov. 12-15 at the L.A. Convention Center.

“We hope that when the delegates return to their hometowns, they will launch similar efforts in cities across the country,” said John Fishel, Federation president.

The original concept for the campaign evolved gradually.

“In the month before the High Holidays, the fighting in Lebanon was drawing to a close, but the fate of the kidnapped soldiers remained unresolved,” Fishel said.

To draw attention to their plight, Fishel’s first idea was to place large print ads and distribute fliers around the time of Yom Kippur. But about three weeks before the Day of Atonement, marketing executive Roger Fishman and Elliot Brandt, AIPAC regional director, visited Fishel to pitch the idea of putting the prisoners’ names on dog tags.

After some brainstorming, it was decided to also send postcards, and then the pressure was on to produce the items fast enough to meet the Yom Kippur deadline.

“The feedback I’ve received so far has been extremely positive,” Fishel said.

For information on how to obtain the dog tags and/or cards, contact The Jewish Federation at PR at www.jewishla.org or call (323) 761-8070.— Tom Tugend, Contributing Editor

Jewish Home Taps Caan for Walk

“Las Vegas” star James Caan, a.k.a. “The Jewish Cowboy,” has been named honorary chair for Jewish Home for the Aging’s seventh Wells Fargo Walk of the Ages on Dec. 3. The walk is one of the largest of its kind in the San Fernando Valley and follows the Jewish Home’s scheduled Oct. 29 opening of its $58.5 million Joyce Eisenberg-Keefer Medical Center.

Organizers are hoping to raise $400,000 for the Jewish Home’s residents this year, nearly $100,000 more than last year’s total. The 5K event starts at 8:30 a.m. and will begin and end at the Jewish Home’s Eisenberg Village Campus, 18855 Victory Blvd., Reseda. The walk is open to participants of all ages.

To register or for more information, visit www.walkofages.kintera.org or call (818) 774-3100.— AW

It’s mayor meets mayor at Temple of the Arts; Women of vision see Jews’ future in Iran


It’s mayor meets mayor at Temple of the Arts
 
Mayor Yona Yahov of Haifa received a standing ovation after his Kol Nidre address at Temple of the Arts in Beverly Hills Sunday night. A few minutes earlier, by way of introducing Yahov, Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa spoke candidly about the feeling of disorientation his famously frenetic schedule tends to induce.
 
“It’s almost like not knowing where I am at any given moment,” Villaraigosa confessed.
 
Luckily, the sound of Hebrew prayers and his recollection of a Yom Kippur appointment at a temple in Northridge earlier in the evening helped Villaraigosa get his bearings. During his brief remarks he praised his counterpart from Haifa as a man of peace.
 
In his sermon on the seed of resiliency, Rabbi David Barron spoke more pointedly about Yahov’s aptness as a speaker at Sunday’s service. Citing Yahov’s ongoing efforts to create understanding between Arabs and Jews, Barron called Yahov “a man who is practicing forgiveness, which we are here to reflect on.”
 
“This has been an awkward, unprecedented war,” Yahov said at the beginning of his speech. “It has not been soldiers against soldiers or ships against ships.”Yahov said that when a rocket struck the Carmelite monastery above Haifa at the onset of the conflict, a local investigator at the scene was puzzled to find tiny ball-bearings scattered about the area.
 
“We learned these are often packed into the belts of suicide bombers,” Yahov said, “to widen the effect of the blast.”
 
When it become clear that civilians were to be the targets of Hezbollah’s missile campaign, Yahov said one of his first concerns was to keep life as normal as possible for Haifa’s children, even under the city’s constant curfew.Soft laughter rippled through the audience when Yahov, a big silver-haired bear of a man, asked, “Can you imagine what to do with your kids if they were stuck in your house for a month?”
 
Yahov’s solution was to place his city’s youngest citizens in a very familiar environment. Each day of the conflict, from early morning until late afternoon, thousands of Haifa’s children were sheltered on the lower levels of underground parking garages at the city’s shopping malls.
 
“No enemy can destroy our life,” Yahov said.
 
After he thanked the congregation for its support, he concluded his remarks by saying, “We showed the whole world that the Jewish people are one people.”
 
— Nick Street, Contributing Writer

Women of vision see Jews’ future in Iran
 
Amidst growing tensions between Iran and the United States in recent months, the Iranian Jewish Women’s Organization (IJWO) in Los Angeles is planning a seminar at the Museum of Tolerance focusing on the future security of Jews living in Iran today.
 
The event, scheduled for Oct. 10 and organized by the Women of Vision chapter of IJWO, will include prominent Persian Jewish activists, leaders and intellectuals from Europe and Israel, as well as Los Angeles, and aims to shed light on the political, social, and psychological challenges faced by the approximately 20,000 Jews in Iran.
 
“We didn’t really select this seminar or its topic because we wanted to make a statement about ourselves as women, rather because it is an important topic that has not been addressed by the Iranian Jewish community nor the larger American Jewish community,” said Sharon Baradaran, one of the volunteer organizers of the IJWO seminar.
 
Baradaran said the seminar is particularly significant for opening new dialogue between the various factions within the Persian Jewish community that for years have often been at odds with one another on how to best address the anti-Semitic and anti-Israel rhetoric of Iran’s fundamentalist regime without jeopardizing the lives of Jews still living in Iran.
 
“While every panel member has been very sensitive to safeguarding the best interest of the Jewish community, to address difficult questions about the future of the community in Iran is critical and if that means certain disagreements, then they should be discussed,” Baradaran said.
 
Local Persian Jews have expressed concern for the security of Iran’s Jews in recent months, following false media reports in May that the Iranian government had approved legislation requiring Jews to wear yellow bands on their clothing.In July, Iranian state-run television aired a pro-Hezbollah rally held by Jews living in the southern Iranian city of Shiraz, in what many local Persian Jewish activists believe was a propaganda stunt organized by the regime to show national solidarity for Hezbollah.
 
Maurice Motamed, the Jewish representative to the Iranian parliament, had been slated as a panelist for the seminar but withdrew, saying he will not be arriving in Los Angeles until after the seminar, Baradaran said. Some local Persian Jewish activists have expressed concern over public comments from Motamed during the past year, including his praise for Iran’s uranium enrichment program and his opposition to Israeli military actions against Palestinian terrorists in Gaza and Hezbollah terrorists in Southern Lebanon.
 
In January, Parviz Yeshaya, the former national chairman of the Jewish Council in Iran, issued a rare public statement questioning the logic of Iran’s President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad who had called the Holocaust a “myth”.
 
The Iranian Jewish Women’s organization was originally set up in 1947 in Iran and later re-established in 1976 in Los Angeles with the objective of recognizing the impact of Iranian Jewish women in the community. In 2002, the Women of Vision chapter and other chapters were added to the organization in an effort to reach out to younger generations of Iranian Jewish women.
 
The IWJO seminar will be held at the Museum of Tolerance on Oct. 10 at 6 p.m. For ticket information contact the IWJO at (818) 929-5936 or visit www.ijwo.org.
 
— Karmel Melamed, Contributing Writer
 
Captured soldier’s brother addresses students
 
Gadi Goldwasser — brother of Ehud Goldwasser, one of two Israeli soldiers captured on July 12 and still held by Hezbollah — spoke recently to students at UCLA and USC during a brief visit to Los Angeles. He addressed the business and law schools at USC, as well as Hillel and Chabad student groups during their Shabbat dinners.

Army Chief Doubts Survival of Israel


It’s not every day that Israel’s No. 1 soldier expresses doubts about the country’s long-term survival. But that was part of a bleak message from Lt. Gen. Moshe Ya’alon that has shaken the country’s political establishment.

In a wide-reaching, early June interview in the daily newspaper, Ha’aretz, the retiring Israeli army chief of staff pulled no punches. He put key existential issues on the table, questioned the wisdom of Israel’s planned withdrawal from the Gaza Strip and northern West Bank, debunked the notion of a two-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and said it could lead to a “situation in which there will be no Israel here in the end.”

Left-wing and centrist critics are appalled at Ya’alon’s pessimism and accuse him of failing to understand the rationale behind Israel’s withdrawal plan. Some, including Prime Minister Ariel Sharon, suggest Ya’alon’s comments stem from bitterness at not having his term as chief of staff extended for another year.

But right-wingers, including the rebels in Sharon’s own Likud Party, have welcomed Ya’alon’s critique. They intend to use it and similar reservations from Avi Dichter, former head of the Shin Bet security service, as central pillars of a new, last-ditch campaign against the planned withdrawal.

In the interview, Ya’alon said his doubts about the peace process with the Palestinians began a decade ago, when as chief of military intelligence, he saw troubling signs on the ground, began asking questions and “did not get convincing answers.”

The core problem in his view is that the Palestinians, even under new leader Mahmoud Abbas, are unwilling to recognize the legitimacy of a Jewish state, regardless of its borders.

“The State of Israel is ready to give the Palestinians an independent Palestinian state, but the Palestinians are not ready to give us an independent Jewish state,” he said.

Therefore, he believes Palestinian violence against Israel will continue, even if the Palestinians get a state of their own. In fact, Ya’alon rejected the two-state solution as “an illusory and dangerous paradigm” that will not bring stability, but will become a platform for future war.

The two-state solution, he argued, “is a story that the Western world tells through Western eyes. And that story fails to understand the enormity of the gap between Israelis and Palestinians, and the scale of the problem.”

If a Palestinian state is established, it will “try to undermine Israel,” he declared. “As long as there is no internalization of our right to exist as a Jewish state, and as long as there is insistence on concrete elements of the ‘right of return’ for Palestinian refugees, any such agreement will be like the construction of a house in which you plant a bomb. At some stage, the bomb will explode.”

In Ya’alon’s view, the ongoing conflict eventually could pose an existential threat to Israel.

“I see a combination of terrorism and demagoguery, with question marks among us about the justice of our cause, as a recipe for a situation in which there will not be a Jewish state here in the end,” he maintained.

As for the withdrawal scheduled to begin in August, Ya’alon predicted that sooner or later it will be followed by a new outbreak of terrorism, worse than any Israel has experienced before.

In his view, if Israel stays put on the new, post-withdrawal lines, the eruption will be immediate. Further withdrawals, he said, will win it a bit of breathing space, but the reprieve will be temporary: Eventually, Israel’s capacity to meet Palestinian demands will be exhausted.

“It’s as clear as day to me,” he continued. “If we get into a confrontation at the political level, if we do not give the Palestinians more and more, there will be a violent outburst. It will begin in the West Bank.”

He added that it will include Kassam rockets across the border and suicide bombers all over the country.

The issues raised by Ya’alon are at the cutting edge of today’s political debate in Israel. The fundamental question is how best to consolidate Israel’s existence.

The main argument against Ya’alon is that if his outlook results in continued occupation of land the Palestinians covet, it will lead to Israel’s delegitimization in the international community and to Palestinian demands for a binational state, with a Palestinian majority, threatening the Zionist idea of a Jewish state with a Jewish majority.

Proponents of the two-state solution say it will ensure a Jewish majority in Israel, be endorsed by the international community and be underpinned by international law and give Israel, no longer seen as an occupier, the moral high ground.

In a best-case scenario, the two-state solution is seen as a paradigm for reconciliation and cooperation that could lead to the end of the conflict.

Defense Minister Shaul Mofaz rejected Ya’alon’s prediction of violence after this summer’s withdrawal.

“There are several possible scenarios, and we don’t have to embrace the most pessimistic one,” he told the Knesset’s Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee Monday.

Sharon professed surprise at Ya’alon’s analysis, saying he had never heard anything like it while Ya’alon was still on the job.

Ha’aretz said in an editorial that the implication was clear: Ya’alon was attacking the withdrawal plan, because of Sharon’s decision not to extend his term.

Others on the left were less dismissive. In an article titled the “Bogey Horror Show,” Ha’aretz satirist Doron Rosenblum wrote, “Ya’alon’s bleak prophecies should worry us. Most of them make sense. But at least we can take some consolation from the fact that Ya’alon won’t be around to help make them come true.”

Ya’alon’s parting remarks were perfectly timed for the withdrawal’s right-wing opponents. Ehud Yatom, a Likud Party legislator who opposes withdrawal, confirmed Sunday that both Ya’alon and Dichter would be featured prominently in a final campaign to stop the withdrawal.

A booklet on the “security dangers of withdrawal,” citing both former security bosses, will be distributed to households across the country. The campaign slogan seems to paraphrase Ya’alon. It reads: “The withdrawal will bring terror; we need to rethink things.”

The demonstrations, protests and high-profile statements against the withdrawal seem to be having an effect. A poll published in the Ma’ariv newspaper last Friday showed that public support for the plan now stands at 50 percent, a fall of 9 percent in just two weeks.

The Likud rebels hope their new campaign will bring that figure down further and influence key Likud ministers to come out openly against the plan. Finance Minister Benjamin Netanyahu already has, and others could follow suit.

For Ya’alon, the reaction to his views can hardly be surprising. As chief of staff, he said, he grew accustomed to the fact that many Israelis were so desperate for quick peace that they would reject all evidence and arguments to the contrary.

Leslie Susser is the diplomatic correspondent for the Jerusalem Report.

Â

Soldiers and Students


Noam Zissman, 21, a convoy commander from Ra’anana, and Moran Kalinsky, 20, a deputy company commander from Holon, sit in their Israeli officers’ uniforms at Johnny Rockets on Melrose. They have just arrived in Los Angeles after more than a week of nonstop travel across the U.S., and they won’t even have time to order a plate of fries before they have to rush across town.

Moran and Noam are booked solid as speakers for Achva, a program sponsored by the Israeli consulate’s Office of Academic Affairs that each year brings two IDF officers to speak to Americans about life in Israel. The speakers for Achva (Hebrew for “brotherhood”) generally meet with university students, as the closeness in age of the Israeli soldiers and American students reinforces both similarities and differences. Given the violence in Israel, interest in this year’s program is especially high..

Zissman has firsthand experience with that violence. A member of the elite Givati Brigade, he led a demolition unit stationed in Netzarim, in the Gaza Strip, which was the first Israeli unit to come under fire in the current fighting. One of the men under Zissman’s command, David Biri, was killed in the ambush. Zissman was shot in the leg. When he speaks to American students, he tells them, “the media doesn’t always show the right picture. So much [is] ‘the brutal Israelis.’ I tell them when, under what circumstances, we open fire.”

Kalinsky agrees that the Achva program helps to correct misunderstandings. “A lot of questions to me have been about the thing going on in Israel, about the politics,” she says. “I don’t think in last year’s program they dealt with that. It’s very important, but not the first goal of this program. I want to tell people about life in Israel. Most people are very sympathetic to us; Jewish and not Jewish, they understand the media doesn’t show the right picture.”

Before they head off to UCLA, the Achva soldiers note how important American support is to their work. “I knew, but didn’t know how much, the Jews here are organized to support Israel,” says Kalinsky. Zissman adds, “As a soldier, the e-mail, the letters, the packages we receive, they mean a lot to us.”