MLB suspends Delmon Young over anti-Semitic altercation


Delmon Young, the Detroit Tigers outfielder arrested in New York for allegedly attacking a group of men and making anti-Semitic remarks, was suspended without pay for seven days.

The suspension is retroactive to April 27, when he was placed on the restricted list. His loss of pay amounts to more than $250,000, according to the Detroit News. Young will not contest the suspension.

Major League Baseball commissioner Bud Selig announced the suspension on April 30, saying, “Those associated with our game should meet the responsibilities and standards that stem from our game’s stature as a social institution. An incident like this cannot and will not be tolerated. I think that Mr. Young is regretful, and it is my expectation that he will learn from this unfortunate episode.”

Young is facing a misdemeanor aggravated harassment hate crime charge stemming from the April 27 incident outside the Hilton Hotel in Midtown Manhattan, where the Tigers were staying before the start of a series with the New York Yankees that night. He is scheduled to appear in court in New York on May 29 and faces up to a year in jail if convicted.

According to reports, a group of tourists staying at the hotel were approached by a panhandler wearing a yarmulke. Young yelled anti-Semitic epithets at the group. Young also reportedly shoved one of the men, who sustained minor injuries. Young was taken to the hospital after the incident.

A New York Police Department spokesman told the New York Post that it was unclear whether the alleged victim, described as a 32-year-old male, was Jewish.

Young, who endured a 50-game suspension in 2006 for throwing a bat at an umpire, apologized for the New York incident in a news release.

The Anti-Defamation League issued a statement saying it was “deeply disturbed” by reports of the player’s outburst. “Bigoted words are unbecoming for any professional sports player and anti-Semitism certainly has no place in the game, either on or off the field,” the group said.

Cain suspends campaign


Republican presidential candidate Herman Cain suspended his campaign following allegations of sexual misconduct.

Cain, 65, announced Saturday that he would halt his drive toward the presidency, one month before the Iowa caucuses. He said he would revert to Plan B, a grass-roots effort to influence government.

In August, Cain visited Israel in an attempt to brush up his pro-Israel bona fides. He visited Christian holy sites as well as the Western Wall, and laid a wreath at Yad Vashem. Cain also rejected calls to reduce U.S. aid to Israel.

The former CEO of Godfather’s Pizza has never held elected office.

What Now?


When the militant group Hamas swept to victory in last week’s Palestinian elections, it forced all key players to reassess their positions on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, creating widespread uncertainty about the future. A number of fundamental questions have emerged:

Will Hamas in its power role moderate its radical positions or put Palestinian society on a collision course with Israel and the Western world?

This is the central question. There will be enormous pressure on Hamas to adopt a more pragmatic line. The European Union, which provides up to 90 percent of international aid to the Palestinians, is threatening to suspend its economic support unless Hamas recognizes Israel’s right to exist and renounces violence, and the United States appears poised to do the same.

In the short term, cutting off these funds could leave a Hamas government unable to pay the salaries of 155,000 Palestinian civil servants, including the 30,000-strong Palestinian Authority security forces. In the longer term, ambitious plans to jump-start the stalled Palestinian economy may have to be shelved, perpetuating poverty and unemployment.

A militant Hamas also will face international isolation, giving Israel the moral and diplomatic high ground for tough responses to Palestinian terror.

Israel will be able to exert tremendous diplomatic, economic and military pressure. On the diplomatic front, it won’t talk to Hamas in its present form; as to the economy, the Palestinians are dependent on Israel for electricity, the transfer of tax revenue, goods, services, work places and border crossings. In addition, if terrorism escalates, Hamas leaders could become targets.

Therefore, while it won an outright majority of 76 of the 132 seats in the Palestinian Legislative Council, Hamas wants the defeated Fatah movement to stay on in government to give it a semblance of respectability vis-a-vis Israel and the international community.

Still, Hamas for now probably will refuse to moderate its ideology, which calls for Israel’s destruction. Indeed, there are strong opposing pressures on Hamas to maintain its radical line.

Iran, for example, could make up for some funds the European Union withholds — on condition that Hamas remain militant. Fidelity to its ideology and goading by other militant groups also could shunt Hamas away from moderation.

Does the Hamas victory mean the end of the dynamic toward independent Israeli and Palestinian states living side-by-side?

Not necessarily. By its very participation in the election, Hamas has been sucked into the two-state paradigm: The Palestinian Parliament holds sway in the West Bank and Gaza Strip but not over all the territory — including Israel — that Hamas claims as “Palestine.”

More imminently, the Hamas victory likely will accelerate unilateral Israeli moves to establish a clear border between Israelis and Israeli settlements on one side and Palestinians on the other.

Is Hamas uniformly radical or are there more moderate voices?

The organization’s formal position is that there can be no talks with Israel until it withdraws to its pre-1967 boundaries, divides Jerusalem and takes in vast numbers of Palestinian refugees, positions that are unacceptable to Israel. Until then, Hamas says, all contacts will be through third parties.

Behind the scenes, however, some Hamas leaders are intimating that there could be direct negotiations before then. On this score, and in general, Ismail Haniya, Hamas’ foremost candidate for prime minister, is thought to be more pragmatic than the Gaza-based party leader, Mahmoud al-Zahar.

How is the secular Fatah movement likely to respond to its loss of power?

Fatah, the movement founded by Yasser Arafat, has dominated the Palestinian nationalist movement since its inception 40 years ago. Its loss of power to the Islamic fundamentalists came as a profound shock. Fatah leaders’ initial reaction was to dismiss out-of-hand Hamas calls to participate in a national unity government on the grounds that Fatah plans to rebuild in opposition and return to power once Hamas’ approach proves unrealistic.

Fatah says it intends to hand over power peacefully, but already there has been some fighting between the two groups and some talk of using force to reverse the election result, the way the army did when Islamists were poised to win power in Algeria in 1992. A key development to watch will be whether P.A. security personnel loyal to Fatah agree to place themselves under Hamas command.

What are the likely regional consequences?

For Israel, one of the most dangerous results would be a growth of Iranian influence in the Palestinian arena. Hawks like the Likud Party’s Yuval Steinitz, chairman of the Knesset’s Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee, see a tightening of an Iranian-controlled terrorist belt around Israel, with the Lebanese-based Hezbollah to the north and Hamas and other Palestinian militants in the center and south.

A lot will depend on the choice Hamas makes between Iran and the rest of the international community.

Will Hamas continue the cease-fire, or tahdia, that most Palestinian terrorist groups declared in early 2005 or will there soon be a fresh outbreak of terrorism?

The Israeli intelligence assessment is that Hamas will observe the cease-fire, at least in the short term. What happens next will depend on the long-term strategy that Hamas, with all the constraints of power, decides to adopt.

As for terrorist acts by other militants, such as Islamic Jihad, Hamas, with its radical ideology, will be in no position to condemn them.

Some Israelis are saying the advent of Hamas will make it easier for Israel to cope. There will be no more masks or double talk, analysts say, such as when the Palestinian Authority condemned terror to the outside world but did nothing to stop it. With Hamas in power, they add, Israelis are likely to be more united in fighting terrorism and to get more international support for counterterrorist activities.

What are Israel’s options?

Government policy is shaping up as the following: No talks with Hamas, insistence on the “road map” peace plan’s demands for a renunciation of terrorism and disarming of militias, consideration of further unilateral withdrawals, rapid completion of the West Bank security fence, targeting of the Islamic Jihad militia and carrot-and-stick use of Israel’s economic leverage.

The government’s initial dilemma was whether to leave open lines of communication to Hamas and transfer some $43 million in value-added tax collected by Israel for the Palestinian Authority or to set clear conditions for dialogue and transfers of funds.

After a Cabinet meeting on Sunday, acting Prime Minister Ehud Olmert announced that the government would not hold peace talks with Hamas until it recognized Israel, renounced terrorism and accepted previous agreements between Israel and the Palestinian Authority. Israel also would refuse to hand tax money to the Palestinians until it was clear where the money was going, he said.

“We have no intention of transferring funds that will be used for terrorism,” Olmert declared.

Olmert and Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni spoke to an array of world leaders on the phone, urging them to withhold funds and refuse to meet Hamas officials unless the organization met Israel’s minimum conditions.

Visiting German Chancellor Angela Merkel was one of the first major world leaders to give the Israeli position her unqualified support. After meeting Olmert in Jerusalem on Sunday, she endorsed the three Israeli conditions: “If Hamas does not change, it would be unthinkable for the EU or for Germany bilaterally to support the P.A. government with money, as we do today,” she told waiting reporters.

EU foreign ministers meeting in Brussels echoed her position. There would be no dealing with Hamas unless the organization recognized Israel and renounced terrorism, they said. In the United States, President Bush and Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice said the United States also will boycott Hamas as long as it remains committed to Israel’s destruction.

What impact is the rise of Hamas likely to have on Israeli elections?

All the main parties are trying to make political capital of the Hamas victory in the run-up to Israel’s own elections in March. Likud argues that last summer’s unilateral withdrawal from Gaza and the northern West Bank showed the Palestinians that terrorism pays, and the fact that Hamas could claim that its militiamen forced Israel to leave paved the way for its election success.

On the left, Labor and Meretz claim that the Sharon government weakened Mahmoud Abbas and Fatah by ignoring them as potential peace partners, which they say contributed to Hamas’ rise.

The main argument now, though, is likely to be between the unilateralism advocated by Kadima and Labor and the Likud’s tougher approach. In elections of the recent past, Likud’s use of scare tactics and projection of strength in the face of perceived threats has been very effective.

Despite the rise of Hamas, however, Likud may find it difficult this time to dent Kadima’s lead in the polls. The governing party’s message regarding the advantages of unilateral action — the idea that Israel has the power to shape a new reality that’s best for it, regardless of who holds power on the Palestinian side — seems at least as valid now as when Fatah was in charge.

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The Art of Giving


Call me short-sighted and atavistic, but I believe one of the most encouraging bits of news I heard last week was the decision by the Los Angeles County Museum of Art to suspend its renovation.

The bad news is Los Angeles will have to wait indefinitely to have a splashier namesake art museum, a Getty-by-the-Tar Pits. The good news is the major donors, many of whom are Jewish, now might be swayed to move some of that museum money over into other communal needs.

Just over one year ago, the museum unveiled a bold plan to overhaul and expand the Wilshire Boulevard institution, according to an architectural design by Rem Koolhaas of Rotterdam, the Netherlands. The renovation, which would have involved a downstairs plaza and redesigned upstairs galleries under a tent-like roof, was expected to cost upwards of $400 million.

This is not to take joy in LACMA’s disappointment. I am all in favor of visionary new buildings — that’s one of the benefits of living in a great city — and I am very much pro-LACMA. I’ve spent many hours there, meandering through the galleries, attending special programs, concerts and screenings.

Not long ago, I wandered off through an upstairs gallery and came face to face with Magritte’s "Le Trahaison des Images," the renowned image of a pipe with, "Ceci n’est pas un pipe," (This is not a pipe) inscribed below. Anywhere else, I would have fought crowds for a glance at the landmark work. At LACMA, there it was, with no hoopla, no line, just great art.

That has always been my experience at the museum, so I was among those who questioned why donors, along with L.A. taxpayers through last November’s ballot Measure A, needed to cough up close to a half-billion dollars to renew buildings that were, at most, 37 years old.

Evidently, I wasn’t alone. As the economy wended its way south, people smarter and far, far wealthier than myself came to the same conclusion. I am speaking of the people in a position to make a lead gift to the museum project of $5 million-$50 million. It wasn’t that their portfolios dipped below the poverty line, just that they came to the assessment that the crowd of donors behind them had shrunk, along with the Dow.

But if LACMA’s big plans have disappeared for now, much of the money that was eager to back it hasn’t. And the fact is, many of LACMA’s potential lead donors are Jewish. That’s hardly surprising. The art world in Los Angeles has been funded by Jewish Angelenos out of all proportion to their numbers in this city.

Jewish artists escaping Nazi persecution invigorated the postwar art scene. Jewish donors, looking to take a place among the non-Jewish elite and committed to creating a cultural center, contributed large sums to everything from the UCLA Hammer Museum to the Norton Simon to MOCA to the Music Center to the new Disney Concert Hall.

And LACMA.

But with the Koolhaas expansion on hold, is it right to hope that the millions of Jewish donor dollars ready to fund that project could now flow elsewhere? Are our Jewish leaders scanning the list of LACMA donors and preparing their appeals? I hope so.

I hope so, because I can think of several areas where millions would make a big difference in our part of the L.A. community.

Take health and human services. Facing state and federal budget cuts, agencies that reach out to elderly or indigent Jews and non-Jews will need significant increases in private donations over the coming year. Otherwise, the people who suffer most in a weak economy will suffer even more.

Then there’s Jewish Community Centers. As Marc Ballon reported last week, the system that serves as a gateway for so many into Jewish life is in dire need of fixing. The Westside JCC, which serves a middle-class and immigrant community, could rebuild and flourish with a lot less than $300 million. JCC services in less populated Jewish areas and new campuses in growing areas can ensure a steady flow of new families and new energy into L.A. Jewish life for decades to come.

Jewish camps, religious schools and day schools are other effective ways of promoting meaningful values and traditions for the next generation, but these institutions are becoming unaffordable to an increasing number of families. Other cities have far-reaching scholarship programs for Jewish schools and camps, often started by just one donor. We need it, too.

These are just a few examples of places where the Jewish community could greatly benefit from the kind of largesse slated for LACMA. Smart money goes where it’s most needed. If a half-billion dollar, tent-covered museum were a pressing necessity, it would be under construction this very moment. Now it’s time for advocates to make their pitch that, while a museum’s expansion can be put on indefinite hold, Jewish communal needs can’t be.

All of us, big and small donors alike, speak of the importance of Jewish community. But unless we give — give as much as possible — what we end up with is, like Magritte’s pipe, not real community, but only its unreal image.

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