November 16, 2018

Moving & Shaking: LAJFF, Friends of IDF and More

From left: Stan Taffel; Tom Dreesen; L.A. Jewish Film Festival Founder and Director Hilary Helstein; Hal Linden and Manny Davis attend the opening night of the L.A. Jewish Film Festival. Photo by Todd Felderstein.

The 13th annual Los Angeles Jewish Film Festival (LAJFF) kicked off with a sold-out opening night gala on April 25 at the Ahrya Fine Arts theater.

The event paid tribute to the legendary African-American and Jewish entertainer Sammy Davis Jr. and featured a screening of “Sammy Davis Jr.: I’ve Gotta
Be Me.”

The Sam Pollard-directed documentary examines the life and career of Davis, who was a child star, member of the Rat Pack and civil rights activist before his death in 1990 at the age of 64. Those interviewed in the film include Whoopi Goldberg, Billy Crystal, Kim Novak and Jerry Lewis.

Speaking from a podium in the theater, LAJFF Director Hilary Helstein welcomed the crowd to the festival.

Beverly Hills Vice Mayor John Mirisch and Los Angeles City Councilman Paul Koretz presented Helstein with proclamations on behalf of Beverly Hills and Los Angeles, respectively.

In an interview on the red carpet, Ken Davitian, co-star of the film “The Samuel Project,” said Davis transcended racial boundaries.

“He broke the barriers of these Black guys who could hang around with white guys [such as Frank Sinatra and Dean Martin] and they were actually having a ball,” Davitian said. “They had a fun time; they all had the talent; they were able to do stuff other people can’t do and they liked doing it with each other and it didn’t matter if it was an Italian guy or a Black guy.”

“Or a Jewish guy,” Helstein said, standing alongside Davitian.

“A Jewish Black guy,” Davitian said.

Rabbi Jerry Cutler of Creative Arts Temple described Davis as a “great man and a great entertainer.”

Local comedian Avi Liberman, whose film, “Land of Milk and Funny,” screened at the festival, said he has always appreciated Davis’s contributions to the arts. He called Davis “one of the greatest all-around performers ever.”

Additional attendees included actor Hal Linden, star of “The Samuel Project,” which premiered at the festival on April 28; George Schlatter, who produced the breakthrough series “Rowan & Martin’s Laugh-In”; Manny, Davis’ son with his widow, Altovise; and Kat Kramer, the daughter of acclaimed filmmaker Stanley Kramer.

After the screening, Hollywood historian and Davis archivist Stan Taffel moderated a panel discussion.

The LAJFF is co-sponsored by Tribe Media Corp., parent company of the Jewish Journal.

Friends of Israel Defense Forces Western Region President Tony Rubin and IDF Sgt. Yaniv attended a Yom HaZikaron celebration at the Saban Theatre. Photo by Positive Vibes Productions.

Approximately 1,000 members of the Los Angeles community gathered on April 17 at the Steve Tisch Cinema Center at the Saban Theatre to commemorate Yom HaZikaron, Israel’s Memorial Day for fallen soldiers and victims of terror.

Friends of the Israel Defense Forces (FIDF), the Temple of the Arts and the Consulate General of Israel in Los Angeles organized the community-wide night of remembrance, ahead of Israel’s 70th Independence Day.

“Over the last 70 years, we have faced countless challenges threatening our existence as an independent sovereign country,” Consul General of Israel in Los Angeles Sam Grundwerg said. “In the face of current threats stands the Israel Defense Forces and the resilient nature of the Israeli people. Their courage and spirit guarantees the security and the continuity of our nation. We bow our heads because we know that Israel is here because of them.”

More than 50 local schools, synagogues and organizations partnered for this community event. The ceremony honored the memories of Israel’s fallen service members and paid tribute to the men and women in uniform who defend Israel and Jews around the world.

“As we prepare to celebrate 70 years of a strong and independent Israel, we must acknowledge that we are able to do so because of the bravery and sacrifice of the men and women of the IDF,” FIDF National Board Member and Western Region President Tony Rubin said. “Seven decades later, these heroes must continue to fight for the survival of the Jewish state. We are forever in their debt.”

An Israel Defense Forces sergeant led the community in praying for the safety of those in Israel and the men and women of the IDF. He mourned the 26,780 fallen soldiers and victims of terror by reciting the Mourner’s Kaddish.

Additional guests included L.A. Councilman David Ryu; Rubin’s wife, Linda; Temple of the Arts President James Blatt and FIDF Western Region Executive Director Jenna Griffin.

From left: Noah Pollak; Leah Yadegar; Yael Lerman; StandWithUs (SWU) President Esther Renzer; Professor Robbie Sabel and Jonathan Bell attend the inaugural SWU Legal Dinner. Photo by Dustin Thompson Photography.

Hebrew University of Jerusalem law professor Robbie Sabel delivered a lecture about how international law is on Israel’s side at the StandWithUs inaugural Legal Dinner on April 26.

Appearing at The Mark on Pico boulevard, Sabel told the audience that the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) movement is rooted in “a hatred of Jews” and that while the likes of Syrian President Bashar Assad, Hamas and Hezbollah may not care about international law, international law does play an important role when it comes to defending Israel.

One such role for international law is that it gives Israel international legitimacy, as Sabel pointed out that it was a League of Nations agreement that helped lead to the Balfour Declaration in 1917.

“You won’t find a mention of this League of Nations agreement by propagandists,” Sabel said.

Sabel added that international law is important for negotiations, especially when it comes to particular phrases in agreements, citing particular wording in an agreement between Israel and Egypt that basically left the Gaza Strip as part of Israel during the time of the British Mandate.

On the issue of settlements, Sabel argued that they were actually legal under international law because international law states that occupation applies only when a country is occupying an “enemy state,” and there is no official Palestinian state.

“We’ve got to try and combat this attempt… to undermine Israel’s legitimacy,” Sabel said.

Also, StandWithUs thanked the Jewish Community Foundation of Los Angeles for providing a three-year grant of $75,000 each year to StandWithUs’s JD Fellowship program, which educates participants on how to use legal advocacy to advance the pro-Israel cause.

Pro-Israel activist Noah Pollak, StandWithUs President Esther Renzer and Director of StandWithUs’ J.D. Fellowship Program Leah Yadegar spoke at the dinner as well. Among those in attendance included Israeli-American Council Chairman Adam Milstein. 

Aaron Bandler, Contributing Writer

From left: On the occasion of Israel’s 70th birthday, Beverly Hills Vice Mayor John Mirisch; Beverly Hills Mayor Julian Gold; Consul General of Israel in Los Angeles Sam Grundwerg; and Beverly Hills City Councilmembers Lili Bosse, Lester Friedman; and Robert Wunderlich celebrated the Israel-Beverly Hills partnership at Beverly Hills City Hall. Photo by Vince Bucci.

The city of Beverly Hills projected the U.S. and Israel flags on Beverly Hills City Hall in honor of Israel’s 70th Independence Day and in celebration of the city’s strong ties and support for the state of Israel.

“We thank the city of Beverly Hills for the amazing show of friendship and the unwavering support throughout the years,” Consul General of Israel in Los Angeles Sam Grundwerg said during the April 18 ceremony.

Those in attendance included Beverly Hills Vice Mayor John Mirisch; Beverly Hills Mayor Julian Gold; and Beverly Hills City Councilmembers Lili Bosse, Lester Friedman and Robert Wunderlich.

The relationship between the city of Beverly Hills and the State of Israel is multifaceted, including on water preservation, security and arts and culture. The city also has helped push back against the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions movement against Israel.

That same day, a Yom HaAtzmaut celebration organized by Bnei Akiva of Los Angeles at Santa Monica High School drew 1,100 people, including students from Gindi Maimonides Academy, Harkham Hillel Hebrew Academy, Yavneh Hebrew Academy, Emek Hebrew Academy, Shalhevet High School, YULA Boys and Girls High Schools and Harkham-GAON Academy.

“It is a privilege to speak to this audience in particular, because you are the next generation,” Grundwerg said, addressing the students. “You are the Jewish leaders of tomorrow.”

Report: Jewish Students Fined for Displaying An Israeli Flag at Vienna Palestinian Protest

Photo from Wikimedia Commons.

A group of Jewish students in Vienna were fined on Monday for displaying an Israeli flag during a pro-Palestinian protest on December 8.

According to Antonia Yamin, a reporter for Kan, the fine amounted to 100 Euros for each of the three students because the Vienna police determined that they “behaved insensibly, violated public order and created a provocation” for waving Israeli flags at a rally that featured chants of “Death to the Jews.”

One of the students, Matthias F., told Vice that they unfurled the Israeli flags in response to anti-Semitic slogans being chanted, which included chants of another intifada, “Death to Israel” and accusing the Jewish state of being child murderers. In response to the flags, a few of the protesters attacked the students, yet the police reacted by taking in the students for questioning and confiscating the flag while allowing the attackers to remain at the protest.

“Our data was taken while the police overwhelmed us with snide and malicious comments: ‘We should have left you out there,’ ‘What do you think, what they do to you, if they catch you,’ ‘Are you really dumb?’ and so on,” said Matthias.

Matthias added that it was “incredible” that they faced a fine or two days in jail for simply displaying a flag.

“The injunction states that it has “caused considerable displeasure” among the protesters and does not even mention what this displeasure was – that we were attacked,” said Matthias. “Now we want to get legal help and object to the injunction. It can not be that anti-Semitic slogans can be shouted without punishment and the punishment of an Israeli flag should be punished.”

Matthias also said that he would not display an Israeli flag at an upcoming pro-Palestinian protest because it would be a “lose-lose situation.”

In 2014 and 2015, there were also pro-Palestinian protests in Vienna where anti-Semitic chants were spewed, including chants of “Kill the Jews!”

There’s an Israeli flag circulating on the set of NCIS

Actress Pauley Perrette announced that the 15th season of NCIS would be her last via Twitter.

Which begs the question, what will happen to the Israeli flag she keeps on her desk?

The flag originally belonged to the character Ziva David, a former Mossad agent played by Chilean actress Cote de Pablo. The Jerusalem Post once cited Ziva as “the only full-time Israeli character on any mainstream network hit drama.” After Ziva left the show in 2013, the flag ended up on Pauley’s desk, who plays a goth pigtailed forensic specialist named Abby Sciuto.

We’re bidding on Leroy’s desk next.

Lawmaker makes controversial remark about Israeli flag at Temple Mount

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu restated his government’s commitment to the status quo on the Temple Mount after a government minister said it was her dream to see an Israeli flag fly on the site.

“I think it’s the center of Israeli sovereignty, the capital of Israel, the holiest place for the Jewish people,” Likud party lawmaker Tzipi Hotovely, also the deputy foreign minister, said in an interview aired Monday on the Knesset channel. “It’s my dream to see the Israeli flag flying on the Temple Mount.”

In response, the Prime Minister’s Office released a statement on Monday night.

“The policy of the Government of Israel regarding the Temple Mount was expressed by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in his statement Saturday night, and nothing has changed,” the statement said. “Prime Minister Netanyahu made ​​it clear that he expects all members of the Government to act accordingly.”

Netanyahu in his statement on Saturday night said that “Israel will continue to enforce its longstanding policy: Muslims pray on the Temple Mount; non-Muslims visit the Temple Mount. As we have said many times, Israel has no intention to divide the Temple Mount, and we completely reject any attempt to suggest otherwise.”

Hotovely issued a statement as well, saying: “My personal opinions are not the government’s policy, and I am certainly bound by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s policy as stated on Saturday evening in which he declared that there would be no change in the status quo at the Temple Mount.”

Opposition lawmakers called for her dismissal.

Hotovely has made public visits to the Temple Mount, including the day before her wedding, and opposes the creation of a Palestinian state.

Deadly Palestinian attacks on Jewish-Israelis have sharply increased in recent weeks amid tensions over the Temple Mount, which is holy to Jews and Muslims. Driving the tensions in part have been reports among the Palestinians that Israel is planning to alter the site, which houses the Al-Aqsa mosque compound. Palestinian Authority President Abbas himself has made the charge, which Netanyahu has continued to vehemently deny.

Amsterdam apartment flying Israeli flag targeted with firebomb

A Jewish woman who displayed an Israeli flag from her balcony in Amsterdam was targeted with a firebomb and death threats.

The firebomb landed on the balcony of neighbors of Leah Rabinovitch, a Mexico-born Jewish woman who flew the Israeli flag on Amsterdam’s Kruger Square, located in an eastern neighborhood heavily populated with Moroccan immigrants, the Het Parool daily reported Wednesday.

The report did not say whether the firebomb ignited and whether it caused any damage, but according to the FokNews website, it landed on a neighbor’s balcony. Fok also reported that a stone that was hurled at Rabinovitch’s apartment smashed a window, and that one of the death threats sent to Rabinovitch read: “Heil Hitler, Hitler is coming back, Jews must die.”

Rabinovitch and her partner put out the flag several weeks ago as a sign of solidarity with Israel’s assault on Hamas in Gaza. Their downstairs neighbors displayed on their balcony a Palestinian flag and demanded that Rabinovitch remove her flag.

Complaints by the downstairs neighbor led the Rochdale housing association that manages the apartments to send letters to both apartments ordering them to remove the flags and warning that they would be held accountable for damages resulting from vandalism, Het Parool reported. Rochdale defined the conflict as an “ongoing neighbor quarrel.”

Rabinovitch told Het Parool she had no previous conflicts with the neighbors prior to hanging the flag.

“They present it as though I was trying to provoke with my flag, but it wasn’t about making a statement,” she said. “We find it difficult to understand why Rochdale, the police and the neighbors want us to remove our flag. Should I feel afraid in my own house? If I remove the flag it means tolerating anti-Semitism.”

Man beaten in Malmo for hanging Israeli flag

A man was beaten severely for hanging an Israeli flag outside his window in the Swedish city of Malmo, police said.

Several unidentified men assaulted the 38-year-old man with metal bars after they hurled a stone at his window on July 6, the Svenska Dagbladet daily reported on July 7. The victim, who was taken to the hospital, was not identified by name.

After the stone hit the window, the man went downstairs and was assaulted, according to Malmo Police spokeswoman Linda Pleym. She said his injuries were serious but not life threatening,

“He was attacked because of the flag,” Pleym said.

The man managed to escape his attackers and was found prone by passers-by on an adjacent street. Paramedics rushed him to medical treatment in an ambulance. Police have no suspects in custody.

Several hundred Jews live in Malmo, a city of approximately 300,000 where a third of the population is made up of people who were born in Muslim countries or whose parents were born in those countries.

Several dozen anti-Semitic attacks occur in Malmo annually, according to community leaders and police, including repeated attacks on Jewish institutions.

Across Europe, attacks against Jews increase during periods of unrest connected to Israel.

On April 16, the district of Skane, where Malmo is located, declined the Jewish community’s request to increase the number of security cameras around Jewish buildings, according to Michael Gelvan, chairman of the Nordic Jewish Security Council, and Per-Erik Ebbestahl, director of safety and security in the City of Malmo.

The municipality supported the request, Ebbestahl said.

District officials did not reply to request for further information.

Egypt, Israel seek normality after embassy storming

Egypt and Israel said on Sunday they wanted a return to normal diplomatic activities after the Israeli ambassador flew home following the storming of the embassy in Cairo during violent protests.

Egypt’s army, which took over when Hosni Mubarak was ousted on February 11, has struggled to quell public fury against Israel since five Egyptian border guards were killed last month when Israel repelled cross-border raiders it said were Palestinian.

The United States called on Egypt to protect the mission. Washington has given billions of dollars in military and other aid since 1979 when Egypt became the first Arab state to sign a peace treaty with Israel.

Israel said it was in talks about returning Ambassador Yitzhak Levanon and his staff but wanted security assurances.

“The security in front of the embassy has been enhanced,” cabinet spokesman Mohamed Higazy told Reuters. “Returning back to normalcy is the objective for both sides.”

About 16 trucks full of police and security personnel, three buses of military police, two armoured personnel carriers and other vehicles were parked near the embassy on Sunday.

Protesters marched on the embassy on Friday in the second major flare-up since the shooting.

First they tore down a wall erected to protect the embassy. Then they stormed it and clashed with police through the night.

“Those who rip down flags … they are negating peace and the country,” Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu told his cabinet. He said Israel would stick to the peace deal.

“I am glad there are other forces in Egypt, including the Egyptian government, that are interested in advancing peace.”

An Egyptian security source said Egyptian guards exchanged fire on Sunday with suspected smugglers in the same border area where guards were shot last month. The source said there were no injuries and the group fled into Egyptian territory.

MONITORING THE SCENE

Traffic passed smoothly through a junction that a day before had been strewn with bits of concrete and debris. Charred police vehicles were in a side street near the embassy, located on the upper floors of a tower block next to the Nile.

The front pages of Israeli newspapers carried photographs of jubilant Egyptian flag-waving demonstrators on the balcony of the embassy. Other photos showed a tense Netanyahu, in a polo shirt, monitoring the scene on television.

Some Egyptian newspapers showed scenes of the protests. Al-Akhbar showed protesters breaking down the wall around the embassy with a metal pole and smoke coming from what it said was a document store room in the embassy.

Other newspapers carried photos of army vehicles deployed to secure the area.

In Iran, a fierce opponent of Israel which it refers to as the Zionist entity, one newspaper headline read: “Egyptian revolutionaries seized the den of Zionists.” Media compared it to the 1979 seizure by students of the U.S. embassy in Tehran.

“All Muslim governments should close down embassies of the Zionist regime in their countries, before their nations take an action similar to Egyptian revolutionaries,” Iranian MP Alaeddin Boroujerdi was quoted by Fars news agency as saying.

Egypt said it would try those behind the violence swiftly in emergency state security courts. Egypt has detained 111 people in connection with the incident, the official state news agency reported. Three people were killed and more than 1,000 injured.

Many Egyptians sympathize with the sentiments of those demonstrating against Israel, but activists, politicians and ordinary citizens have also criticised the violence.

“I don’t want him (the ambassador) to come back because Israel doesn’t respect anyone, but if they are in our country, then we should be able to protect them,” said Mohamed Kamhawy, 28, an engineer working two blocks from the embassy site.

Ahmed Amr, 23, another engineer, said: “Tearing down the wall was right. They shouldn’t have built it in the first place. But invading the embassy was wrong.”

Some Egyptians are frustrated that Egypt did not take sterner measures against Israel after the border shooting. At the time, Egypt said it would withdraw its ambassador but did not carry through with the threat.

Israel has stopped short of apologising, saying it is still investigating the Egyptian deaths, which occurred during an operation against gunmen who had killed eight Israelis.

Israel is finding itself increasingly at odds with formerly sympathetic states in the region. It is embroiled in a feud with Turkey, once the closest of its few Muslim allies, over an Israeli raid last year that killed nine Turks on a flotilla bound for Gaza.

Egypt’s ties with Israel, though never warm, were a pillar of Mubarak’s foreign policy and buttressed his claim to be a regional mediator. Under Mubarak, displays of hostility to Israel were swiftly crushed by security forces.

Additional reporting by Jeffrey Heller in Jerusalem and Parisa Hafezi in Tehran; Writing by Edmund Blair; Editing by Andrew Heavens and David Cowell

Egyptian man rewarded for ripping down Israeli flag

The Egyptian man who ripped down the Israeli flag from the embassy in Cairo has been rewarded for his act.

Ahmad al-Shahat climbed up the side of the 22-story building last weekend to the cheers of anti-Israel demonstrators and ripped down the flag, two days after several Egyptian border guards were killed in fighting between Israeli troops and terrorists following a coordinated attack on civilian vehicles near Eilat.

He is reported to have been given a new home and a new job by an Egyptian provincial governor, Reuters reported Thursday, citing reports in the Egyptian media.

Protests continue in front of the Israeli embassy and the home of the Israeli ambassador, where an Israeli flag was also ripped down. The protesters are calling for a million-man protest on Friday to demand the expulsion of Israel’s ambassador to Egypt.

The road leading to the ambassador’s residence was closed by the Egyptian military in order to protect the ambassador, according to the newspaper Israel Hayom.

Israeli officials have apologized for the accidental killing of the Egyptian troops, which Egypt has said is not enough.

Power shower

Briefs: Israel unveils record-breaking flag, ‘Righteous Gentile’ joins Polish government

Israel Unveils Record-Breaking Flag

An Israeli flag the size of two football fields was unveiled near Masada on Monday as part of a campaign by the Ministry of Tourism ahead of next year’s 60th Independence Day.

The flag was donated by Sister Grace Galindez-Gupana, a pro-Zionist businesswoman from the Philippines. The tourism ministry said it was recognized by the Guinness Book of World Records as the largest flag.

“The Israeli flag is the Zionist symbol of independence of the people of Israel and the State of Israel, and I thank Sister Grace, who in this moving gesture is giving us the opportunity to take pride in our independence of 60 years,” Tourism Minister Yitzhak Aharonovitch said. “I hope that tourists from around the world will endeavor as Sister Grace is in advancing tourism between all peoples.”

The flag measures 2,200-by-300 feet and weighs 5.2 tons. It took a 48-person design team three weeks to manufacture.
Israeli Chabad Leaders Arrested

Israeli police arrested the leader of the Young Chabad movement. Yosef Aharonov and three others are accused of embezzlement, tax evasion and money laundering. The arrests and a Nov. 13 raid on the community of Kfar Chabad follow an eight-month investigation by the Israel Tax Authority and the Central District Fraud Squad.

Arkady Gaydamak, an Israeli Russian billionaire and a potential Jerusalem mayoral candidate, is accused of donating $256,000 to the money-laundering facilities allegedly run out of Kfar Chabad, according to Israel’s Channel 10. He and other prominent businessmen are currently under investigation.

Young Chabad, also known as Lubavitch Youth, is a nonprofit organization and one of the more prominent Chabad institutions in Israel. It has a budget of about $7.7 million a year, including allocations from the Israeli government.

Yosef George Segal, a Chabad employee who was accused more than a year ago by Young Chabad officials of embezzling $4.5 million from the organization, also was arrested.

“Like Chabad-Lubavitch offices everywhere, the Chabad Youth Organization in Israel is fiscally independent. However, its noble social service programs and educational outreach are legendary and a source of pride to the Jewish people everywhere,” read a statement from the umbrella organization of the worldwide Chabad Lubavitch movement. “Clearly, every individual is instructed by the Torah to uphold the laws of his/her land, and this is, of course, a basic principle of Chabad Lubavitch operations. We are confident, therefore, that the authorities will receive full cooperation in their efforts and that, ultimately, the results will be satisfactory.”

‘Righteous Gentile’ Joins Polish Government

An Auschwitz survivor and “righteous gentile” was named to the Polish government. Wladyslaw Bartoszewski, 85, is the new secretary of state responsible for Poland’s relations with Germany, Russia and Israel.

Bartoszewski, who has been foreign minister of Poland twice since the end of communism, spearheaded the anti-Nazi underground government’s aid to Jews during World War II. He has been recognized as one of the Righteous Among the Nations by the Yad Vashem Museum and Memorial in Jerusalem. He joins the government of Prime Minister Donald Tusk, a centrist politician who defeated his more conservative rival, Jaroslaw Kaczynski.

Relations with Israel were largely positive during Kaczynski’s term, with Poland as a fierce defender of Israeli interests in the European Union. Relations with Germany, however, dramatically declined as the former prime minister repeatedly invoked Germany’s Nazi past. Relations with Russia were equally poor, with both countries carrying old grudges in their economic and political disputes.

British Lawmaker Quits Oxford Over Irving

A British lawmaker renounced his membership to the Oxford debating society in protest of an appearance by David Irving. Julian Lewis, the shadow defense minister and a Conservative member of Parliament, turned in his 37-year-old membership to the Oxford Union, where Irving and Nick Griffin, head of the extreme right British National Party, were to discuss the topic of free speech Monday.

Irving, a British amateur historian who repeatedly has questioned accepted facts about the Holocaust, was convicted of Holocaust denial in Austria last year based on a speech in which he cast doubt on the existence of concentration camp gas chambers.

British Defense Secretary Des Browne, television anchor June Sarpong, Labor Parliament member Austin Mitchell and other prominent Britons have canceled future engagements at the Oxford Union in reaction to the decision by students to give a platform to Irving and Griffin, who many consider racist.

Denis MacShane, another Labor member of Parliament, told the British media that Monday’s speeches “will be a festival of anti-Semitism.”

But Luke Tryl, the union’s president, told The Daily Telegraph that his aim was to defeat fascism with “liberal, informed debate. “I believe their own publicity will destroy them — they will implode,” Tryl is quoted as saying.

In a poll, 1,062 students voted to support the invitations extended to Irving and Griffin, with 640 voting against.

Israel Seen ‘Surviving’ Iran Nuke War

A nuclear war between Israel and Iran would be mutually devastating, but Israel might survive as a state, a study found.

Anthony Cordesman of the Washington-based Center for Strategic and International Studies published a paper this month analyzing how the sides would fare in a theoretical nuclear war in the next decade. According to “Iran, Israel and Nuclear War,” the superiority of Israel’s assumed atomic arsenal would offset the disadvantages of its tiny territory.

Iran’s nuclear strikes would likely target the greater Tel Aviv area and Haifa, killing 200,000 to 800,000 people outright, Cordesman wrote. But he added that for Israel, recovery would be “theoretically possible in population and economic terms.” By contrast, Israeli nuclear attacks on Iran would kill between 16 million and 28 million, making recovery “not possible in the normal sense of the term.”

Briefs courtesy Jewish Telegraphic Agency.

For the Kids

We Are All Kings

We are told in parshat Shelach to wear tzitzit, a fringed garment. This is so central to Jewish identity, that the white-and-blue tallit became the model for the Israeli flag. Wearing fringes on the edge of your garment was, in ancient times, a sign that you came from nobility. So, why are the Jews instructed to do this?

Everyone wears certain clothes based on where they are going or what they are doing, such as going to school, temple, parties or the beach. Jews who wear tzitzit always remember that they are like the holy priests, always striving to act like noble and generous kings and always remembering their relationship with God. You, too, can wear or imagine yourself wearing the holy fringes.

Over the next few weeks, we will be publishing essays and poems by children who won the San Fernando Valley fifth-grade writing contest. The theme of the contest was: My Special Friend. Awards were given out on Sun., May 25, at the Encino Community Center, by the California Writers’ Club. Here are a few excepts of a third-place essay by Jacob Rooks, 10, of Woodland Hills.

Happy, My Imaginary Stuffed Dog
Friend

My stuffed dog, Happy, is always going on adventures with me. For example, I remember the time Happy and I went to Shambam Waterfall (which is really the back of my bed). He almost fell off, but made it back in the end. Another time, we went to Hinkytwink Forest (which is under my bed). Cocoa Volcano is located near my night table and the Himper Pits are in front of my bed.

Happy is happy, energetic and playful. Sometimes, Happy gets lonely when I’m at school. Recently, I bought a stuffed tiger that I named Hobbes. Now Happy has someone to play with.

How did I get Happy? The neighbors gave him to me after their dog bit me! So now I have my very own dog, and he doesn’t bite!

I want to tell you what happened at Shambam Waterfall. We decided to visit the waterfall because the other stuffed animals said it was really pretty. Happy wanted to climb it. At first I said no, but in the end he talked me into letting him climb. When he got about halfway up, he found a cave behind the fall, where he sat for a few minutes. The he climbed all the way to the top. He tripped on a rock and fell, but I caught him.

I hope that soon Happy and I will go on another adventure!

Creating a Picture of Unity

Here is something exciting for all of us to participate in:

The Jewish Dream Network (JDN) would like Jewish children worldwide to send in Prayers for Peace, accompanied by a digital photo of themselves. These will become part of a photo mosaic, which will be sent to the Western Wall next Chanukah. It will also be housed online and reproduced as posters and cards. Tobey Herzog, founder of JDN, says that “this is a way to create a picture that shows that we [Jews] are a family, and we take care of one another.”

Please send your prayers and photos to: tobey@jewishdreamnetwork.org .

An Israeli Mission

Soaring above the sea of green and white canvas tents in the dusty, wind-swept Stenkovec refugee camp in Macedonia are a handful of Israeli flags. It is a jarring sight whose incongruity is compounded by the fact that just a stone’s throw away are the Germans.

Approximately 700,000 Albanians from Kosovo are said to have been uprooted in the past month — and Israel filled a critical void in neighboring Macedonia by setting up an army field hospital for refugees. A second medical facility followed within a week, operated by the German Red Cross.

It’s unsurprising, perhaps, that the two nations most familiar with ethnic cleansing have felt the greatest moral obligation to act. But that they are doing it in tandem has struck an emotional chord in at least one German team member.

“This is so touching for me, as a German, to be working so closely with the Israelis,” said Joachim Gardemann, dean of the nursing school at the University of Munster in Germany. “There are so many historical, diplomatic and ethical linkages here — the Israelis as victims, the Germans as murderers — that it makes me happy for us to cooperate to help a population in danger because of ethnic conflict.”

Indeed, for many Jews, the gut reaction to Kosovo has been one of horror that the world is witnessing yet another attempt at genocide. But Israelis on the ground say they see the situation more clearly.

“That this is happening in Europe, in 1999, is unbelievable,” said Dan Engelhard, a pediatrician and army reservist who also served in Israeli field hospitals in Cambodia and Rwanda. “But you can’t compare this with the Holocaust. No way. The Nazis tried to kill every Jew. However, when we see these pictures of Albanians forced out of their homes and into trains, it certainly reminds us of the Holocaust.”

Imbued with such memories, Israeli rapid reaction to crisis has become a niche of sorts.

In addition to setting up hospitals in Cambodia in 1979 and Rwanda in 1994, Israel sent a rescue team to Kenya after the terrorist bombing of the U.S. Embassy in Nairobi last year.

Gardemann, who proudly displays a red Star of David pin given him by his Israeli colleagues, touts them as “world champions” of army field hospitals.

But that is a dubious distinction, indeed. It is a specialty borne out of necessity, say the Israelis, what with so many wars and grisly terrorist acts in the Jewish state’s 51 years of existence.

“One of the greatest things about Israeli society is our ability to improvise and be creative,” said Ron Maor, a 14-year army surgeon who also served in Nairobi. “If something urgent needs to be done, we don’t need a lot of bureaucracy to do it. For a country almost continuously at war, we can’t afford the luxury of being surprised or caught unprepared for any mission.”

By any yardstick, the Israeli reaction to Kosovo was lightning quick. On March 24, NATO launched its bombardment of Yugoslavia — a federation of two republics, Serbia and Montenegro. It was aimed at curbing the repression of ethnic Albanians in Kosovo, Serbia’s southern province. In response, Yugoslav President Slobodan Milosevic accelerated the emptying of Kosovo, where 90 percent of the 2 million inhabitants had been Albanian. The vast majority of them are Moslem, in contrast with the mostly Orthodox Serbs.

Within days of the air assault, Albanians were on the move en masse, heading mostly south and southwest into the impoverished countries of Macedonia and Albania.

Macedonia, a nation of 2 million, now wheezes under the strain of more than 200,000 refugees, while Albania’s more than 3 million citizens, the poorest in Europe, cope with 400,000 refugees.

It wasn’t long before the flow overwhelmed local authorities and international relief agencies. They appealed for help.

On April 4, the Israeli Cabinet made a snap decision to contribute a field hospital for two weeks, at a cost of roughly $1.3 million.

Two officials from the Israeli Embassy in Athens were dispatched north to Macedonia to lay the groundwork. The next day, the Macedonian officials advised them to set up shop at Stenkovec — 10 miles north of Skopje, the Macedonian capital, but within sight of Kosovo’s snow-capped Shara Mountain range, located 20 miles farther north.

At that time, however, the camp housed only 2,000 refugees. So the Israelis were a bit mystified.

“They assured us that within a week, there would be 30,000 refugees,” said Jacob Dayan, one of the two Israeli coordinators and the No. 2 at the Athens embassy. “But just two or three days later, we were already up to 30,000.”

With a site secured, Dayan gave the thumbs-up to the Israeli Defense Forces. Six IDF cargo airplanes were soon airborne, laden with pieces of the hospital, plus blankets and tents. It arrived on April 6, and the entire Israeli contingent of 80 — including doctors, nurses and medics; some of them army staff, others reserves — worked feverishly through the night, erecting the hospital.

By 2 p.m. the next day, they were open for business.

Working round-the-clock, the Israelis treat about 200 patients a day, including refugees bused in from the 10 refugee camps scattered around Macedonia.

And while the Stenkovec camp itself is wracked with commotion, sunrise to sunset, the hospital compound, set on the camp’s western edge, is almost surreal in its order and tranquillity. Under its drab-green tents, the setting is straight out of the television series “M*A*S*H.”

There is room for 100 beds, and each tent serves a special purpose — emergency room, surgery, X-rays, laboratory, etc. What they lack, the Israelis say, is medicine and facilities to treat chronic illnesses, such as heart disease, epilepsy and diabetes.

But the tent drawing the most attention — including a steady stream of journalists from around the world — is the pediatric ward. As of Sunday, the Israeli team had already delivered 11 babies. Among them is 1-week-old Sara Berisha, whose Albanian Moslem mother gave her a Jewish name out of gratitude to her Israeli doctors.

But that celebration was fleeting. On April 15, twin 3-month-old boys arrived in the camp, suffering severe malnutrition and respiratory infection. Serb forces had flushed them from their homes two weeks earlier, leaving their parents no choice but to hide in Kosovo’s hills. Lacking milk, they were fed only tea and cookies.

They now lie in an Israeli army incubator in critical condition. But they weigh less than when they were born, and their tiny chests heave uncontrollably.

Monitoring their condition is Yael Goldman, a 20-year-old army medic. She also delivered Sara Berisha.

“In Israel, we feel helpless watching this on television,” said Goldman, who is on her first mission abroad. “Jews have been through so much hatred, it’s difficult to watch it happening to others. So when I was given an opportunity to help, I felt I had to do something.”

But there’s just so much she and her colleagues can do. At the Stenkovec camp, busloads of hungry, traumatized Albanians arrive daily. The food line is never less than hundreds deep. Scores of refugees crowd the various message boards, desperate for information on missing relatives.

Making matters worse, there are no portable toilets, only holed-out wood planks across large pits; the scent of human waste pervades the camp. In a murky stream nearby, men bathe, kids swim and women wash clothes.

For now, the weather is still cool, with intermittent rain and sunshine. But as the temperature warms, there will likely be epidemics such as measles, polio and dysentery, said pediatrician Engelhard, a professor at Hadassah-Hebrew University Medical Center in Jerusalem.

Macedonian officials and relief agencies have been slow to provide good sanitation and immunization; without it, children in particular are vulnerable to diarrhea, vomiting, and skin infections, he said.

But the Israelis won’t be around to see it. Their two-week mandate expires soon, and they were expected to ship out Thursday.

However, they leave knowing the Kosovo refugees are in good hands — the Germans and a newly arrived team
from Taiwan will take over hospital care.

“These refugees are luckier than my grandparents were in Poland and Hungary during the war,” said Maor, the army surgeon. “When they were thrown into ghettoes, no one cared. At least for the Albanians, there’s an international effort to help them.”