Archive | April, 2015

Swastika found on UNT campus building

Posted on 30 April 2015 by admin

Editor's note: This story was edited at 2:23 p.m. Thursday, April 30, 2015.

By Brian Bateman
brianb@texasjewishpost.com

A swastika was found scribbled on a wall at a University of North Texas campus building late last month.
Cory Armstrong, director of the Frank W. Mayborn School of Journalism, was the first faculty member to notice the chalk drawing March 30 in an outdoor basement-level atrium of the General Academic Building. She said the drawing appeared hurried, with the prongs not in proper alignment.
The UNT student newspaper, the North Texas Daily, first reported the incident online April 22.
Armstrong’s first thoughts that day involved disbelief.
“(I thought) ‘How does this happen? Is it possible this is not what I think it is, because how could this happen here?’ ” she said.
Armstrong washed the chalk off the wall, then called the campus police. The North Texas Police Department reported the offense at 10:54 a.m. March 30, but with the evidence washed away, the police department didn’t have much to document.
Public Information Officer John DeLong told the North Texas Daily the drawing isn’t classified as an FBI hate crime because there’s no clear motive of bias.
The Anti-Defamation League, which monitors anti-Semitic actions around the nation, responded to the inadvertent action to wash away evidence.
“Seeing a swastika is very upsetting … but we’re not sure about the verbiage,” North Texas regional director Roberta S. Clark said, referring to the FBI and ADL requirements to label an action as a hate crime. “We understand the effect, certainly. Sometimes people use a swastika simply to intend hatred” and not direct it at a single person or group, she said.
“The first thing to do is call law enforcement. The second is to call us.”
The UNT facilities staff finished cleaning the brick later that morning, but the outlines took a few hours to fade.
When he read the news in the student paper, Richard M. Golden, professor of history and director of the Jewish and Israel Studies Program, was disappointed, but not shocked, given the statistics, past conflicts and scale of the 36,000-student campus.
“We’ve had (anti-Semitic and anti-Israel) vandalism before,” he said, noting several previous cases of anti-Jewish behavior on campus.
Still, he said that while swastikas are rarely seen on campus, anti-Semitism isn’t.
It’s the second reported case of a swastika in North Texas this year. In March, the symbol was spray-painted on Toras Chaim Rabbi Yaakov Rich’s car.

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Shabbat: History may be boring to some, but inescapable

Posted on 30 April 2015 by admin

Dear Families,
Judaism is a historical religion; our history defines our holidays, celebrations and even our world view.  To understand Jews, you must understand Jewish history. The challenge is that it seems that we fall into two camps: those who love history and those who hate it.
If you love learning and delving into history, Judaism is perfect for you.  Begin with the Torah and follow our people through today — it is an exciting adventure.
If you hate history, begin small. Learn these two phrases and then your interest will grow.  The truth within a joke is that all Jewish history can be summed up in less than 10 words:  They tried to kill us. We won.  Let’s eat. It seems that our story is a real roller coaster — when things are good for the country we live in, the Jews contribute to society and are valued members.  The minute something goes wrong — we get the blame.
One of the fascinating stories is how we were blamed for the many plagues in Europe. Why were we blamed? We didn’t get sick like the rest of the population so obviously (to them), we must have caused the plague. Why didn’t we get sick? Simple — before we eat, we wash our hands ritually. Even that small amount of cleaning helped us fight off the germs. What a great piece of history!
The second short phrase that tells so much about our history is: You may not live here as Jews. This phrase followed us to different lands and the phrase got shorter and shorter. First, we were told that if we convert, we could continue living in the land. Eliminate “as Jews.”  Next, we were told that we had to move — eliminate “here.” And finally in Nazi Germany it was “you may not live!” For us, the bad times have always been really bad!
So if you are part of the “I Hate History” group, what can you do to learn? There are some great books out there that make great reading. If you can, get a copy of Jewish History in 100 Nutshells. There are many historical novels available today that make the stories come alive (even though they are not totally factual) — As a Driven Leaf by Milton Steinberg is a must-read. Finally for those of us who would really like to get into the stories, I recommend Rabbi Kenneth Roseman’s series, The Do-It-Yourself Jewish Adventure Series.
Yes, they are for teens but they are truly involving, and they designed for you to read a little, make a choice and then turn to the page reflecting your choice. Each time you read, you make different choices and the ending turns out differently. The stories include subjects like the Tenth of Av, the Inquisition, immigration and the Holocaust. Throughout our history, Jews have made different choices and we learn by confronting those choices.
Whether you love history or you hate history, you can’t escape it. Our history is our family. Get to know your ancestors and their stories! Find a good summer Jewish history read. The Tycher Library has some very good reads.
Shalom…from the Shabbat Lady.

Laura Seymour is director of Camping Services at the Aaron Family Jewish Community Center.

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Texas alumni help defeat BDS resolution on campus

Posted on 30 April 2015 by admin

Measure voted down, 23-11; likely wouldn’t have affected investment

By Ben Tinsley
bent@texasjewishpost.com, @BenTinsley


AUSTIN — A letter from several Dallas-area University of Texas alumni is credited with helping convince members of UT’s Student Government Assembly to vote down a divisive, anti-Israel resolution drafted by followers of the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) movement.
This resolution would have asked the UT System Investment Management Company to pull investments from the companies Alstom, Cemex, Hewlett-Packard, Procter & Gamble and United Technologies, who it alleges facilitated the “oppression of the Palestinian people by the State of Israel.”
The measure was defeated by a 23-11 vote with 1 abstention April 21, said Rabbi Daniel A. Septimus, executive director of Texas Hillel.
But even had it passed, Bruce Zimmerman, CEO and CIO of UTIMCO, has stated publicly the resolution would never have been taken into consideration. The company makes its investment decisions only on the financial interest of the university, he stated.
Universitywide representative Kallen Dimitroff, 21, of Houston — a government/history major with a focus in Middle Eastern Studies —said her research arrived at the same conclusion.
“Additionally, it would have alienated our Jewish population to which I have always had a lot of personal connection,” she said.
The BDS international movement is very well funded and has been developing since 2005 — but in this particular matter didn’t really seem to be that well thought out, Rabbi Septimus said.
“My understanding is if you try to divest from a certain fund and the UT system, then the matter would go for consideration to the board of regents and the UTIMCO system and cease to be a UT Austin issue,” he said.
Elan Kogutt, a junior majoring in leadership in business and society through the humanities honors program, agreed.
“Rather than focusing on international politics, student government should be focused on issues that directly affect students,” he said.
The opposition credited with helping convince student government to vote the measure down includes Texas Hillel, Texans for Israel, and the other campus groups, programs and volunteers who formed the political campaign “Unify Texas.”

Former members speak out

Dallas residents Danielle Rugoff, Trevor Pearlman, Rodney Schlosser, and Frankie Shulkin, all former student body officials, topped the list of 17 signatories on the aforementioned letter to student government.
Thor Lund of McKinney was also on that list, which was signed by both Jewish and non-Jewish leaders, officials said.
Danielle Rugoff said it’s a huge testament to the Dallas Jewish community that many of the students on the ground and the alumni leading the effort to defeat BDS hailed from Dallas.
“Frankie Shulkin and I were honored to work with Ethan Prescott and Elan Kogutt, two unparalleled student leaders on the ground who kept us informed and connected to what was happening on the 40 Acres,” Rugoff said. “We also had the honor of working with former UT Student Body President Rodney Schlosser and former UT Student Body Vice President Trevor Pearlman to get former student leaders — Jewish and not-Jewish — to stand up against BDS.”
The sponsors of the resolution, the UTDivest coalition, was formed by the Palestine Solidarity Committee.
Members could not be reached for comment. But in a column circulated on social media, Mukund Rathi, computer science senior and co-author of the resolution, characterized the issue as a freedom fight for the Palestinians.
“We should honestly consider the statements on Palestine by South African anti-apartheid leaders such as Nelson Mandela, who stated that ‘we know too well that our freedom is incomplete without the freedom of the Palestinians,’” Rathi wrote. “Do not forget that Mandela was considered to be a terrorist by the United States for decades. Justice is justice even if it goes against the will of power, and all peoples deserve it, including the Palestinians.”
However, according to the Anti-Defamation League, in recent academic years, student groups that are well-known for their opposition to Israeli policy have advocated for a variety of BDS-related initiatives in an effort to isolate and delegitimize Israel.
The most prevalent BDS initiative on campus involves the introduction and debate of divestment resolutions by the campus’ student government. BDS has been the most prevalent tactic available to dismantle what has been described as “the apartheid state of Israel.”
Ignoring complexities of issue
But that is not true, Israel defenders say.
Roberta S. Clark. Regional Director of the North Texas/Oklahoma Regional Office of the Anti-Defamation League, said divestment campaigns really ignore the complexity of the Israel-Palestinian conflict.
“They unfairly place the responsibility for the conflict on Israel alone,” she said. “When bombs are being thrown into Israel from Gaza with no provocation, how can you say, ‘It’s all Israel’s fault and Israel has to fix it’? It demonizes Israel and doesn’t do anything to fix the situation. BDS campaigns really don’t make anything better. They place blame and that’s not how you effect positive change.”
Singling out Israel without mutual dialogue is ineffective and counter-productive, Clark said.
“What it does is get a lot of media attention but does not impact positive change in any way for anyone,” she said. “’Israel wants peace. Israel wants peace Israel wants peace.’ We should all be looking for peace between Israelis and Palestinians. That’s the goal for everyone — to live in peace.”
Rabbi Matt Rosenberg of Texas A&M Hillel said student governments are at their best when voting on issues that affect the classroom — not inflammatory political issues.

Opposite reaction at A&M

It was almost the inverse of the UT situation at Texas A&M last week: A Pro-Israel resolution calling for more connections to Israel was unanimously passed by student government with support from Texas A&M Hillel.
Rosenberg said student Dan Rosenfeld is doing a great job as president of Texas A&M Hillel.
“He is also working with the Israel on Campus Coalition, ‘ICC’ for short,” the rabbi said.
Although Texas A&M is “the largest university in the world without a Jewish studies program” it’s one of the most Star of David-friendly educational places around, he said.
“There is no anti-Semitism here,” Rabbi Rosenberg said. “Jews are very much appreciated and loved on campus.”
Rosenberg said this makes A&M the first in Texas in recent memory to pass pro-Israel legislation and the fourth in the United States to do this year.
In Austin, representative Dimitroff said she had major problems with the factual basis of some of the statements on the proposed BDS legislation.
“For example, the authors made allusions to supposedly similar pieces of legislation being passed by other student governments,” she said. “However, when I looked into it the other schools weren’t really passing anything comparable. The scopes were different, the circumstances were different. Additionally the resolution compared the Israeli-Palestinian conflict to South Africa apartheid — a claim that I believe is a stretch at best.”
Dimitroff said when she attended the committee meeting to review the proposal, the authors wouldn’t accept any amendments though several were proposed.
“Finally, I was particularly concerned about the inclusion of ‘whereas’ clauses which endorsed the BDS movement,” she said. “It hardly took three minutes of investigation to realize the implications and aims of BDS. From my perspective the movement and its leaders seek to delegitimize Israel as a Jewish state. This was absolutely not something for which I was willing to lend our credibility as an organization, nor does the movement represent the views of a majority of our student body.”
Some professional researchers and former Texans such as Ahuva Batya Scharff — now a director of addiction research of Cliffside Malibu in California — contend there could be deeper motives at play here.
“The sad thing about the BDS movement is that its propaganda uses good-hearted, well-meaning young people to do the work of terror groups like Hamas,” Scharff said.
“If you want to help Palestinians, support organizations like Israel’s Hadassah Hospital. Most students involved with the BDS movement don’t realize that approximately 30 percent of the pediatric patients in that hospital are Palestinians. Instead of denouncing companies like SodaStream, support them. They are providing Palestinians with good-paying, reliable jobs.”
Tracy Frydberg, a UT journalism and Middle Eastern studies major from San Antonio, said when it became evident that this BDS resolution was being targeted at student government, she and other students moved quickly to counteract it.

Movement to end resolution

“We decided we needed to create a grassroots movement to respond to what was coming our way,” she said. “A group of students created Unify Texas with Jewish and non Jewish students as allies and started meeting almost every day.”
Frydberg said members met with alumni networks and with student government members, wrote op-ed pieces and tried to organize a base of students to help defeat the resolution.
“We had a core team of 10 and an accepted community of 50 people underneath us and the day of the actual voting it was 100 or so students,” Frydberg said.
David Horowitz, founder and CEO of the David Horowitz Freedom Center of Sherman Oaks, California, launched a national campaign against anti-Semitism in February.
Titled “Jew Hatred on Campus,” the campaign identified the top 10 most anti-Semitic campuses, and is working to push university administration to take action against the growing dangers for Jewish and pro-Israel students.
Horowitz goes as far as to claim BDS is an economic warfare arm of Hamas, and is designed to serve its goal of obliterating the state of Israel and creating a second Holocaust in the Middle East.
“I’m all for positive developments,” he said. “But the cause of the epidemic of anti-Semitism on college campuses is the propaganda campaigns carried out by two Muslim Brotherhood fronts — Students for Justice in Palestine and the Muslim Students Association.
“Until university support and funding are withdrawn from these groups, campus anti-Semitism will continue to increase and no positive events or PR statements by university officials will have much impact on this.”

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Holocaust survivors share experience

Holocaust survivors share experience

Posted on 30 April 2015 by admin

Photo: Embrey Human Rights program Rosa Blum embraces a member of the audience after speaking about her ordeal at Auschwitz. Blum and Bernhard Storch spoke at SMU last week.

By Ben Tinsley
bent@texasjewishpost.com,@BenTinsley


DALLAS — Rosa Blum and Bernhard Storch recounted their nightmarish World War II experiences in great detail before a packed Southern Methodist University audience last week.
Blum, 86, of Dallas, is an Auschwitz survivor. Storch, 93, of New York, was imprisoned in a Soviet labor camp before becoming a death camp liberator in the Polish army.
These April 23 presentations in SMU’s Elizabeth Perkins Prothro Great Hall comprised the “Reflections from Survivors & Liberators of Nazi Death Camps” event — held in recognition of the 70th anniversary of the liberation of concentration camps at the end of World War II.
The evening was sponsored by the Dallas Holocaust Museum Center for Education and Tolerance and SMU’s Embrey Human Rights Program.
After Storch and Blum discussed their respective histories at length, there was no disputing the respect and wonder they had earned from their audience. It led to a standing ovation, numerous handshakes, many, many hugs — and even autograph requests.
Earlier in the evening, Mary Pat Higgins, CEO and president of the Dallas Holocaust Museum/Center for Education and Tolerance, effectively commenced the proceedings by introducing Embrey Human Rights Director Rick Halperin.
Halperin told the audience they were being afforded the rare opportunity to learn about the Holocaust firsthand from the very last generation of people to have experienced it.
Halperin went so far as to urge audience members to offer hugs to Storch and Blum after they had shared their memories of the Holocaust.
Answering a question from the audience, Blum explained how she refused to return to the place where she had faced Holocaust horrors — even at the expense of property and belongings she might have claimed on behalf of her wealthy family.
“I never went back,” she said. “I could never face that emptiness. … There is nothing, nobody there for me or my family. I know many people who went there and came back hurt. I never wanted to see that blankness. That would be the wrong thing for me. …  So I never went back and I never claimed anything. I wanted to live my life the way I wanted to live it.”

Moving to the United States

After discovering his entire family had been killed by the Nazis, Storch and his wife, Ruth — herself a Holocaust survivor — emigrated to the U.S. in 1947. In response to an audience question, Storch acknowledged that for years he was reluctant to discuss the trauma of what he had survived.
“It was very painful, and I didn’t speak about it,” Storch said. “Now is the time to talk, but it was very tough for me after the war. There was a time when I was living in Washington, I couldn’t sleep at night. My wife — to this day she doesn’t talk about it.”
Storch is the author of the 2012 book, World War II Warriors: My Own Recollections of World War II.
During her narrative, Blum explained how she was deported from her native Romania to Auschwitz in Poland when she was 15. Very little information was ever shared with Blum and her family by anyone in authority about where they were going or why.
Prior to Auschwitz, Blum and family members had been kept inside a barbed wire area on a mountaintop for six months.
One day, the guards told her and her family they were leaving. They were ordered to leave their possessions but to take two pots and pans apiece.
They were thrust into a cattle train. They learned that the pots and pans were to be used as toilets during the trip.
Likewise, the traveling conditions during the trip were horrific. Two men died. A very young woman gave birth to triplets.
Then the cattle train arrived at Auschwitz.
And perhaps Blum’s most traumatic moment up to that point was when she saw the mother and three newborn babies shoved onto a cart full of corpses and carted away.
“Something happened to me,” Blum told the audience at SMU. “I became bizarre. I almost lost myself.”
She remembers she started screaming “Evil!”
Blum said she was never the same after that.
Shortly afterward, Blum met the infamous Josef Mengele — known far and wide as the “Angel of Death.” Mengele was the one who decided who would be sent to the gas chambers and performed ghastly human experiments on Jewish prisoners. It was Mengele who commanded that Blum would live and her mother would die.
Blum’s strong emotional reaction to that decision led to Mengele brutally beating her as punishment.
She then was forced to work as an assistant in the same hospital where Mengele conducted his cruel human medical experiments.
Bernhard Storch, meanwhile, started out as a prisoner and ended up becoming a liberator.
Growing up in a Jewish family in Silesia, near Poland’s border with Germany, he — like many other Polish Jews — jumped from town to town, trying to avoid capture at the hands of the Nazis who were approaching in 1939.
After escaping fierce German Air Force bombardments, Storch settled in a western Polish city. But to his dismay, Poland was soon occupied by the USSR.
One night in May 1940, the Russian secret police seized him from his room, took him to a transport railroad car and sent him to a labor camp in Siberia.
But Storch’s fortunes shifted. On June 22, 1941, war broke out between Germany and Russia, and a treaty between the United States, Great Britain and the Soviet Union mandated that all Polish citizens, including Storch, had to be released from the Russian slave labor camps.

Cross for bravery

Some time after that, Storch resolved to join the Polish Army. He did so and soon was awarded a cross for bravery during a battle with the German army Oct. 12, 1943.
By the time Storch watched the Majdanek concentration camp liberated in July 1944, he had been commissioned a Polish Army officer.
After the presentations and follow-up question and answer session concluded, Rick Halperin urged audience members to think long and hard on what they had heard.
“The moral duty of all of us is to give credence to the phrase, ‘Never Again,’” Halperin said. “It’s not supposed to be a hollow phrase where others around the world suffer from the same hatred and prejudice. We all want the world without — ‘Never Again’ — pain in it.”
Halperin said it is the moral duty of all who heard the two speak to fulfill the legacy of those who were liberated, those who survived and  those who — tragically — couldn’t be there to speak for themselves.
“That is our job, to bring about a better world,” he said. “That is the task ahead of us.”
Halperin then handed Storch and Blum plaques commemorating their appearance at the event and urged the audience to give them another round of applause.
“Let the hugging begin!” Halperin said with a smile.

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Dallas Doings: School club, NCJW, Living CHAI life

Dallas Doings: School club, NCJW, Living CHAI life

Posted on 30 April 2015 by admin

By Linda Wisch-Davidsohn

 

Photo: Josh Rudner Greenhill students Joseph Weinberg (left), Brooke Allen and Josh Rudner wear “Happy Birthday” shirts to celebrate Yom HaAtzmaut.

Good wishes to Josh Rudner, 16-year-old Greenhill sophomore, and his friends, Jackson Rothbart, junior, and Keaton Butowsky, also a junior, who co-founded and co-led Greenhill School’s Jewish Studies Club this school year. Josh, who is also co-president of the organization, shared some of the inaugural events and club meetings with us.
To highlight a few, Josh said that “we had a Rosh Hashanah bake sale to support the North Texas Food Bank; we hosted a club meeting to discuss the ways Christmas and American commercialism have affected Chanukah. By working with the administration and maintenance staff, we planted some jasmine plants to celebrate Tu B’Shevat.
“We also held a lunchtime debate over the Israeli elections and had a wide variety of parties represented — from Shas to UAL!  Yom HaShoah was observed with various activities, and we got 73 people (71 students and two faculty members) to wear ‘Happy Birthday’ shirts on Yom HaAtzmaut.
“Approximately 25 percent of the participants were not Jewish. We meet once every  six school days, as do most Greenhill clubs. Currently we are in he process of electing next year’s leadership. Our faculty advisor/sponsor is Spanish teacher, Señor Sebastian Gluzzman, an Argentinian Jew, who lived in Israel for a year.”
Yasher Koach to Josh and his co-presidents for thinking of such an innovative idea.
Additionally, kudos to Josh who shared his “I am AIPAC” remarks along with Hector Flores, Victoria Neave, Manual Rajunov and The Honorable Keith Self at the Sunday evening AIPAC Dessert Reception held at the Anatole Hotel.
The AIPAC event garnered more than 1,200 attendees, according to AIPAC officials. Josh is the son of Lisa and Steve Rudner, who incidentally co-chaired the successful AIPAC event along with Debbie and Manuel Rajunov.

NCJW board installation

The National Council of Jewish Women has been a mainstay of Dallas Jewish community organizations. Its 2015-2016 installation of NCJW Greater Dallas officers and directors will take place May 7 at the Morton H. Meyerson Symphony Center at 2301 Flora Street. Check-in begins at 11:30 a.m., and the lunch and program will begin at noon.
Luncheon reservations are $54. The Sponsor Level is $90 and includes program recognition. The Benefactor Level is $180 and also includes program recognition. Please RSVP to NCJW by May 1.
The 2015 Pioneering Partner Award recipient is Vanna Slaughter, director of Immigration and Legal Services of Catholic Charities of Dallas. Ms. Slaughter is the keynote speaker for the event, which will take place in Horchow Hall.
Reduced-rate self parking is available for $5 (vouchers will be provided at the luncheon). Valet parking will be available for $20 at the valet circle at the entrance to the garage. Please let the attendant know that you are attending the NCJW luncheon.
SWJ hosts Edwin Black
Earlier in April, Southwest Jewish Congress and Hillel of Dallas hosted New York Times best-selling author, Edwin Black, for an in-depth briefing on, “International Law and Israel.”
Mr. Black provided a thorough historical overview, from the formation of the State of Israel to the present, as it relates to international law. He presented the events in chronological order, allowing the large audience to understand how international law pertaining to the Middle East evolved.
Showing that “experts” involved in making decisions affecting Israel are unaware of many of these facts, he made it clear that when people don’t know the facts they will believe anything.
Rick Barrett-Cuetara, SWJC board member, said, “I thoroughly enjoyed listening to Edwin Black’s historical analysis of the formation of the State of Israel. The facts don’t lie ­— Israel has a right to exist and be recognized under international law.  No country can legitimately deny Israel’s right to exist.  I was pleasantly surprised to learn that the Christian community has been and continues to be one of the strongest supporters of Israel’s right to exist.”
Audience comments included:  “Great evening,” “Super speaker,” “SWJC has raised the bar on quality speakers . . .”
Ardo Fuentes, another SWJC board member, commented, “Mr. Black made a very persuasive argument without bringing politics into the discussion. I felt empowered with new knowledge, realizing how little I knew in this area. I look forward to reading his books and expanding my knowledge on these topics.”

Living the CHAI Life, June 7

Photo: Community Homes for Adults, Inc. Living the CHAI Life co-chairs: Katherine Albert, Betsy Kleinman, Ricki Shapiro, Beverly Goldman; and CHAI Development Chair Melissa Ackerman

Planning is underway for an extraordinary event that you won’t want to miss!  On Sunday evening, June 7, Community Homes for Adults, Inc. — CHAI — will premiere a signature event: Living the CHAI Life. This special evening will be held in the new high-end kitchen, bath and outdoor living store in Northpark Center — PIRCH — and will feature plenty of food, cocktails and fun.
The event begins at 7 p.m. with drinks and delicious food stations catered by Spice of Life and the PIRCH culinary team. Guests will have an opportunity to tour the beautiful store and a brand new CHAI video will be shown at 8 p.m.
All participants at the event will have an opportunity to submit their names for several prize drawings for special gift items from PIRCH. In addition, anyone who purchases a ticket to the event will be entered in a drawing to win $1,000 in North Park Gold!
Individual tickets are $180 per person and sponsorships are still available at the following levels: Joy: $25,000, Life: $18,000, Happiness: $10,000, Achievement: $5,000, Adventure: $2,500 and Experiences: $1,000. Reservations may be made online at www. chaidallas.org/special-event or by calling 214-888-4909.
As of April 1, 2015, the following sponsorships have been received:
Presenting Sponsor: PIRCH;
Joy: Dr. Michael and Patricia Michael/Dr. Ludwig Michael;
Life: Leo and Rhea Fay Fruhman Foundation/Beverly and Joe Goldman; Achievement: Linda and Dave Garner, Beverly and Cary Rossel, Alan M. Utay Family Foundation;
Adventure: Katherine Albert, Fran and Mark Berg, Minnie and Keith Blackwell, Becca and Allen Bodzy, Ricki and Gabe Shapiro, Waldman Bros;
Experiences: Carol and Steve Aaron, Melissa and Baer Ackerman, Ginette and David Albert, Susan and Evan Bates, Katherine Bauer, Lisa Beckerman, Brenda and Ron Bliss, Donna and Mark Burdette, Elise and Robert Donosky, Fran and David Eisenberg, Ragen and Roy Elterman, Jeanne and Tex Fagadau*, Lisa and David Genecov, Lisa and Jeff Genecov, Myra and Larry Gingold, Barbara and Larry Glazer, Lisa and Neil Goldberg, Sherry and Ken Goldberg, Lizzy and Jules Greif, Marcy Helfand*, Carole Ann and Jay Hoppenstein, Betsy and Mark Kleinman*, Judy and Jeff Kogutt*, Florence and Larry Kramer, Gail and Peter Loeb, Emily Maduro and Joe Wielebinski, Staci and Jeff Mankoff, Weezie and Mark Margolis, Tricia and Paul Michaelson, The Milstein Families, Carol and Stuart Morse, Joan and Robert Pollock, Myra and Stuart Prescott*, Barbara and Stan Rabin, Gerald Ray & Associates, Ann Rosenberg, Kerri Aikin and John Rosenberg, The Rubin Family Foundation/Julie and Jay Liberman, Celia and Larry Schoenbrun*, Marian and Jack Spitzberg, Freda Gail Stern, Texas Jewish Post, Lisa and Mark Zale. (*Philanthropic Fund of the Dallas Jewish Community Foundation)
CHAI is a nonsectarian, nonprofit organization under Jewish auspices that provides programs and services to enable adults with intellectual disabilities to live as independently as possible, and to enrich their lives with opportunities to meaningfully participate in the community.
In addition to providing learning opportunities that enhance personal development and daily living skills for individual clients who live in the broader community, CHAI currently operates and maintains six group homes where our residents have the opportunity to live in a supported environment with their peers.
Proceeds from the Living the CHAI Life event will benefit the Carmen and Ludwig Michael Fund of CHAI. At her request, this fund was established in memory of Carmen, founder of CHAI, for the purpose of providing reserve funds dedicated to managing the upkeep of the group homes. Quite simply, this fund allows CHAI to make ordinary things possible for the extraordinary people they serve by assuring that it can uphold the responsibility of maintaining their homes.

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Around Town: 8 over 80

Around Town: 8 over 80

Posted on 30 April 2015 by admin

Photo: Beth-El Congregation The ceremony honored Kenneth Baum, Edwin Cohen, Edythe Cohen, Corrine Jacobson, Marcia Kurtz, Rosalyn “Roz” Rosenthal, Paul Schwartz and Evelyn Siegel and raised more than $80,000.

Editor’s note: The other four biographies will run next week.

Beth-El honors group of members for achievements, legacy

By Ben Tinsley
bent@texasjewishpost.com, @BenTinsley


FORT WORTH — Eight inspirational leaders. Their longtime commitment to Beth-El Congregation and the Jewish community honored. A Saturday, April 18 gathering and fundraiser in Beth-El Congregation’s Great Hall to celebrate their amazing accomplishments.
More than 260 people attended this landmark event at 4900 Briarhaven Road honoring the accomplishments and legacies of Kenneth Baum, Edwin Cohen, Edythe Cohen, Corrine Jacobson, Marcia Kurtz, Rosalyn “Roz” Rosenthal, Paul Schwartz and Evelyn Siegel.
It was a record-breaking evening with a fantastic turnout that resulted in over $80,000 being raised, confirmed event chair Noreen Houston.
“It was beyond anyone’s expectations — because it wasn’t so much a fundraiser as it was the honoring of eight amazing people,” Houston said. “It was one of the most heartfelt events we have ever put on at Beth-El. The response was out of this world.”
Rabbi Ralph Mecklenburger said it was important to honor these eight because of the time and energy they have spent helping others over the years.
“This was a wonderful evening,” he said. “There was a real sense of family.”
The special evening featured a musical tribute dedicated to the honorees, Living Life: Making a Difference by vocalists Genie Long and John Sauvey, accompanied by Brad Volk.
“The singing and the songs they picked out were wonderful,” Houston said.
Temple Administrator Suzie Koonsman said this event was among the best she has seen in the 24 years she has been there.

Making the list

“We selected our eight from the 60 or so people over 80 in our congregation,” she said. “It was unreal how well it caught on.”
There have been six important words used to describe these eight people: mentors, friends, guides, leaders, cheerleaders and supporters. Their friends and family say that at age 80, they possess a vision that allows them to inspire others with their energy, enthusiasm and true love of life.
When honored during the ceremony, each of the eight was escorted by a representative who presented astonishing insights to the joy and wisdom they brought to the lives of those around them:
For Kenneth Baum, it was his daughter, Mindy Lindsey.
For Edwin Cohen, it was his son, Spencer Cohen.
For Edythe Cohen, it was her son, Jim Cohen.
For Corrine Jacobson, it was her son, Steve Bond.
For Marcia Kurtz, it was her husband, Dr. Stan Kurtz.
For Roz Rosenthal, it was her son, Billy Rosenthal.
For Paul Schwartz, it was his granddaughter, Melissa Rubenstein.
For Evelyn Siegel, it was her son, Jeff Siegel.
The event was undoubtedly a collaborative effort by many, including the event committee whose attention to detail, perseverance and planning made such an evening possible, officials said. These included Noreen Houston, chair, Mara Berenson, Julie Diamond, Cynthia Gilbert, Kim Goldberg — who was responsible for the graphic designs — Linda Hochster, Sandy Hollander, Joan Katz, Laurie Kelfer, Diane Kleinman, Trudie Oshman, Ruth Roper, Faye Slater, Elaine Stanton and Margie Zentner.
Additionally, Beth-El’s office staff, Suzie Koonsman, Alexa Kirk and Sareth Collins, shared their expertise and lent support, and all was made possible through the continuing encouragement of Beth-El’s leadership: Rabbi Mecklenburger, Rabbi Jordan Ottenstein, and President Eddie Feld.
Noreen Houston said the eight elders are very beloved by the community — and have a great attitude about their golden years.
“One of the most important things one of our honorees said was ‘Growing older, yes — but not elderly.’”
Bob Goldberg, executive director at Jewish Federation of Fort Worth and Tarrant County, said he was very impressed with the event.
“It was phenomenal,” he said.

 

Kenneth Baum, 81

Kenneth Baum’s immigrant father moved to Texas because of the oil boom. By December 1940, Baum’s family moved to Fort Worth’s Berkley neighborhood as his entrepreneurial father’s auto sales and customer financing businesses grew.
His mother’s background was Reform; his father’s, Orthodox. His 1946 bar mitzvah was at Ahavath Sholom; his 1949 confirmation, at Beth-El. Growing up with a photographic memory (according to siblings), Baum attended the University of Pennsylvania in the mid-1950s and picked up the administrative end of the car business.
He married Sandra Freedman in 1959, around the same time Beth-El President Ben Gilbert tapped him for the board of directors.
From there he served on the board in different capacities for years and years. He’s filled similar posts with the Jewish Federation. When Beth-El’s administrator was recuperating from surgery, Baum moved into her office to pay bills, manage the staff, and keep the building humming. Coincidentally, just as Baum’s father was among eight trustees to oversee construction of Breckenridge’s temple in 1929, he was one of eight on the building committee for the present synagogue.

Edwin Cohen, 81

Since 1984, Edwin Cohen has been coming to Sunday school every week. His specialty is teaching and talking to teens, connecting Judaism with current events.
Twice a month Sunday mornings, he meets for half an hour with two dozen post-confirmands who work at Beth-El as teachers’ aides. Some of his students have parents that Cohen previously taught and grandparents who were confirmed with him in the Class of ’49. He was recruited to the religious school faculty in 1984 when then-Director Ellen Mack inaugurated the Reform movement’s “new” curriculum.
It didn’t make any sense to Cohen, and he told her so. She promised that if he joined the faculty, he could teach whatever and however he wanted to teenagers preparing for confirmation.
For the next 16 years, Cohen taught confirmation students. During a five-year break, he served as Sunday school ombudsman, communicating back and forth with faculty, parents and students.
He analyzed attendance and stayed in touch with kids absent several weeks in a row. He returned to the classroom in 2005. His Fort Worth roots date to his grandparents, pioneer Northside merchants Meyer and Sarah Greines.
The Greines name is on the school district’s activity center. An only child, Cohen and his wife, Meredith, have five children and two grandchildren.
A songwriter and music producer, Cohen’s tunes have been recorded by Frank Sinatra, Tom Jones, and Eric Clapton. He graduated from Arlington Heights High and has bachelor’s and master’s degrees from Texas Christian University.
Cohen, retirement nowhere in sight, composes and records music, plays tennis twice a week and meets at mid-week with Religious School Director Ilana Knust, who prizes his insights and role as liaison to faculty and families.

Edythe Kunen Cohen, 87

During 50 years of involvement in the Fort Worth Jewish community, Cohen raised two sons at Beth-El and taught immigrants at the Council of Jewish Women’s Americanization School.
As a young widow, she became president of Jewish Women on Their Own, a B’nai B’rith interest group geared to singles. Later, she was president of Fort Worth’s Jewish Women International.
At Beth-El, Cohen chaired the Adult Education Committee, worked from 1994 to ‘96 as Beth-El’s part-time program director, attended Union for Reform Judaism workshops, and spent a decade on the Sisterhood board as Judaica Shop vice president.
Presently she is on the boards of Daytimers and Synaplex and is a Sunday school greeter, welcoming children as they arrive for religious school. In the secular community, Cohen was president of the Stage West Support Group, served on the board of Miss Rodeo Texas, and ushered at cultural events.
Cohen’s energy extends to the tennis court, where her forehand still guides doubles teams to victory. A grandmother of three and a breast-cancer survivor, her goal at age 87 is “to grow old, but not elderly.” She does that by staying involved in her community.

Corrine Rosenthal Jacobson, 88

Corrine Rosenthal Jacobson, 88, has been popularly described as a woman ahead of her time. She ran a multimillion-dollar business, raised two children as a divorced mother, wrote a book about widowhood, and has never lost her vigor for volunteer work, her faith in Judaism, nor her political idealism.
Described in a 1969 Star-Telegram article as a “pioneer business woman in a man’s field,” she operated a safety-supply company that outfitted industrial workers, from oilfield roughnecks to airline mechanics. She negotiated contracts with General Motors, Whirlpool, and BFGoodrich.
In retirement, she promoted her hometown through the convention and visitors bureau; helped establish Stone Soup, the city’s first afterschool child care program; and participated in a Holocaust-education drive to collect 6 million pencils, thereby teaching children the enormity of the Shoah.
The Institute of Southern Jewish Life in Jackson, Mississippi, videotaped her recollections for its oral history library.
A grassroots organizer and advocate for interfaith ties, in the 1980s Jacobson forged Beth-El’s adopt-a-school partnership with DeZavala Elementary, a relationship that continues with tutoring and a school-supply drive during the High Holidays.
She helped organize the Temple’s first Mitzvah Day, which expanded to include three congregations performing service projects across Tarrant County. She launched a coat drive for the homeless and collected new shoes for children in need.
To counterbalance the War on Terror, Jacobson was the key Jewish leader launching local chapters of Daughters of Abraham, which fosters harmony among Jewish, Christian, and Muslim women.
After her husband Phil’s sudden death from a heart attack in 1994, Jacobson kept a diary that culminated in the 2009 publication of A Handbook for Widows. Reviewers lauded the book as a “compassionate compass” for people faced with “emotional turmoil” and “economic realities” following the loss of a life partner. A strong public speaker, Jacobson promoted the book through civic clubs and funeral homes until two surgeries for stomach cancer forced her to trim her schedule.

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Mind’s I: Thankful life is respected

Posted on 30 April 2015 by admin

On the morning of Yom HaShoah, I rolled into the physical therapy gym at Legacy Preston Hollow, looked around, and realized with a shock that by 70 years ago, every one of us would have been murdered.
Two amputees. One woman with an arm in a sling, another struggling to stand upright. People relearning basic finger skills by pulling out buttons imbedded in wads of putty. A man with some assistive or supportive device on almost every part of his body. A couple facing each other, safety belts around their waists, gripped tightly by two therapists as they bounced and tossed a big rubber ball back and forth between them. Two others struggling with walkers. But those of us in wheelchairs were envious of them, hoping for — while dreading — the hard work that, maybe, would get us to the point of using walkers ourselves, instead.
What would Hitler have provided for us? Maybe death by bullet, if we were “lucky” enough to merit a quick end. But probably not even that. His Nazis didn’t waste expensive ammunition. We might have fueled a few interesting medical experiments before what was left of our poor bodies finally gave out, at no cost to them. Jew and non-Jew alike, if we are handicapped, we are lucky to live today in a country with basic respect for all human life.
But what of our Jews, even able-bodied ones, living elsewhere 70 or more years ago and looking with hope toward America?  Just in time for Yom HaShoah, the prolific Harvey Sheldon introduced this latest in his long string of books: Emmis: The Greatest Scandal in All of American History. His “truth?”  That our country’s major Holocaust-deniers at the time were U.S. President Franklin D. Roosevelt and the vaunted New York Times itself.
Sheldon isn’t so much writer as compiler, a prolific deliverer of histories through lists. The list of his own books now runs to 17 on the Goodreads website. He began several years ago with musical “encyclopedias”: golden ages of pop, swing, jazz, etc… Then he went ethnic: Jewish music, followed by Afro, Latin, Italian. And later, non-musical entries on many subjects, from Yiddish to football. White House Scandals and Emmis, with its single-scandal concentration, are his most recent.
“I want the world to know about the respectable institutions who did nothing to save the Jews,” he writes, “and thereby were complicit in increasing the death toll…Our own President FDR was directly involved…Only seven stories on Jewish persecution made The New York Times front pages in eight years…” I fear Sheldon rakes easy muck rather than presenting researched history. But should I read these “exposés” anyway?  Should you?
A post from a California cousin arrived at about the same time as the blurb for Sheldon’s newest. Hers asked me to “do one small act to remember the six million Jewish lives that were lost during the Holocaust:” to “please send this message to everyone you know who is Jewish, and ask them to also forward this to others. If we reach six million email names,” it continued, “we will give back to God what He gave to us: six million Jews who are alive today who remember those who perished.”
Cousin Celia doesn’t say who started this effort, or who’s keeping count — or might even be able to count — how many received this message and then passed it on. In the end, another list. So instead of forwarding it to everyone I know who’s Jewish (impossible!), I’m just telling you about it. Maybe something more to think about rather than participate in — like glossing over Harvey Sheldon’s accusations rather than reading them in his non-vetted presentation style.
But I think about both Holocaust scandals and Holocaust numbers as I work my recalcitrant leg back to life, with gratitude that I and my rehabbing companions live today where life is respected enough that help is provided for us.

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Ask Rabbi: Life-saving operation a choice for patient

Posted on 30 April 2015 by admin

Dear Rabbi Fried,
My uncle, who is 72, was in excellent health until recently diagnosed with a rare form of cancer. The doctors feel that with his condition, he only has 6-9 months to live. There is, however, an experimental surgery, which could cure him completely, allowing him to live many more years. The problem is that this surgery is so risky, that there’s a 70 percent chance he could die on the operating table. He’s inclined to take the risk to live for years, but is concerned that perhaps it isn’t the right thing to do, as it may lose him the months that he knows he has left. He’s concerned it’s like committing suicide. What is the right thing to do in this situation?

— Ben N.

Dear Ben,
The Talmud discusses a case that is in some ways similar to your uncle’s query: There was once a Babylonian medical center where the doctors were known to be very proficient and cutting-edge in their field. There was, however, one small problem: They were known to kill most of their Jewish patients.
The Talmud rules, of course, that one should not use these doctors, even if one had a sickness that could be life-threatening. If, however, one suffered from a terminal illness that would surely cause his demise within a year, he would be permitted to seek medical assistance even from these doctors, since there is a chance of being healed — and not killed — by them.
The Talmud asks: What about the months of life that he would have lived that may be forfeited if they would kill him? The answer given in the Talmud is a profound principle: “L’chaye Sha’ah Lo Chayshinan.” This loosely means that we are not concerned about short-term life in the face of potential, long-term life. (Talmud, Avoda Zara 27b)
Many authorities of Jewish law over the past 250 years have applied this Talmudic principle to myriad medical questions. Since the flourishing of the medical field and its many procedures which have been developed during this time, your question has been asked in numerous forms.
The core principle, however, is the same. Even when the likelihood of success is relatively small, your uncle is morally within the bounds of Jewish medical ethics to elect to undergo this procedure. This is predicated upon the prognosis that without the procedure he is terminal with no hope for recovery. This is also based on the life expectancy of less than one year, which is the time considered by Jewish law to be terminal, or “short-term life.” If he were diagnosed to have over a year to live, the ruling might be different.
I would like to clarify: This ruling is not meant to minimize the tremendous importance the Torah puts upon every moment of life. The concept of “Chaye Sha’ah” or “short-term life” is one of complete life in the eyes of Judaism. We are commanded to desecrate the Sabbath to save the life of a Jew who we know will not live long enough to see another Sabbath. Conversely, to kill a person who only has moments to live is considered murder according to Jewish law.
The point of the above ruling is for the same person to put upon the scales the terminal aspect of his life on one side to weigh against the possibility of prolonged life on the other side — with the risk of losing even the “short-term life” that is relatively sure he will have if no action is taken. This is the painstakingly difficult, soul-searching decision the patient, and only the patient (assuming the presence of full faculties), can and must make.
This is one of the exceptional examples in Jewish law where the decision actually lies in the hands of the patient, since either decision — to operate or not to operate — would be morally acceptable. At times a patient may opt out of surgery, to not risk missing the wedding or bar mitzvah of a family member or dear friend which will take place a couple of months away and may be all-important to the patient. Another may prefer the risk, to have a chance of enjoying additional years of life, as your uncle is inclined to. In this type of scenario there is no obligation either way, and to choose the experimental surgery would not be tantamount to suicide even if the surgery would turn out to not be successful.
May your uncle enjoy a complete and speedy recovery, and may you spend many more happy and healthy years together.

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Middle East briefing: Helping Nepal, coalition, US support

Posted on 30 April 2015 by admin

Last Saturday, minutes after Israel heard the news of the devastating earthquake that hit Nepal, the Israeli Foreign Ministry set up a 24/7 Emergency and Crisis Management Center with the goal of providing an immediate and appropriate response to the disaster and coordinate rescue, medical and humanitarian aid to Israelis, Nepalese and others who were caught up in the disaster.
According to an MFA bulletin issued Monday: “The first Israeli rescue plane, from the Home Front Command, landed in Kathmandu on Sunday (26 April) and brought back to Israel the first group of Israelis, including newborn babies. A Magen David Adom plane landed in Nepal, also on Sunday, and delivered a delegation of doctors and paramedics who settled in at the Chabad House. The plane returned to Israel with another group of Israelis.”
Three IDF air force planes arrived in Nepal on Monday loaded with emergency aid. They also brought back more stranded Israelis.
Two El Al planes — one cargo and one passenger — arrived Tuesday carrying a team from the Israeli Ministry of Health and a large delegation of Home Front Command — more than 200 doctors, sanitation engineers, machinery technicians and others — as well as medical equipment (portable monitors, oxygen tanks, ventilators, medicine, X-ray machines, resuscitation kits) and engineering equipment.
After unloading their cargo, the planes returned to Israel carrying more Israeli travelers.
According to one witness at the airport, while preparing the planes for the return flights, the Israeli crews handed out sandwiches, oranges and water to the hundreds of stranded travelers, of all nations, that were waiting desperately to be rescued. Several Nepalese officials commented that no other country cares for its citizens as Israel does.
As of Tuesday morning, out of hundreds of Israelis currently still in Nepal, several dozen have not been found. The Department for Israelis Abroad at the Foreign Ministry in Jerusalem is leading the efforts to establish contact with them.

The new Israeli government

Not yet! As of Tuesday, with only six days left of the 14-day extension that President Rivlin gave Prime Minister designate Netanyahu, the coalition has yet to be finalized.
Not that there is a shortage of candidates. With Netanyahu needing at least 61 sitting Knesset members to form a coalition, there are plenty of potential “wannabe” ministers and deputy ministers in the parties considered ideological “natural partners” in a right-wing government, to give him at least 61, and possibly 67 seats.
But there’s the problem: Everyone wants a “job” or control over a ministry or committee that will allow them to spread patronage and benefits to their constituents … at a cost of tens of millions of dollars each year … all from the small national taxpayer-funded coffers, which also have to support crucial government sectors like the IDF and national security, as well as education, power, infrastructure, development and more.
While Netanyahu has not yet formed a coalition, bits of information leaked from the negotiations indicate that he might be close.
For example: until the last Knesset changed a “Basic (constitutional) Law,” past Israeli governments have included dozens of ministers, deputies and “ministers without portfolio.” But according to the new law, as of this election the Israeli government can have only 18 ministers and four deputy ministers.
However, Netanyahu indicated Monday that the Knesset might have to pass a new law that would enable him to form a broader coalition, with up to 22 ministers and six deputy ministers, in order to satisfy the ambitions of potential partners who refuse to compromise on their demands for portfolios, personal benefits and constituent-related budgets. If that happens, then the so-called “cost of democracy” in Israel will go through the roof…

US support for Israel

Sunday night I was encouraged by the warm, enthusiastic and unreserved support for Israel that reverberated through the packed ballroom during AIPAC’s annual event in Dallas. And I’m not talking about the very impressive gathering of over 1,200 local AIPAC members and supporters, whose very participation in this signature evening speaks volumes about their support for our historical and eternal Jewish homeland.
No — what encouraged me were the statements by the politicians, Democrats and Republicans alike, seniors and juniors. While they all made the obligatory comments about “shared values” of democracy, human rights, justice and America’s long-term commitment to Israel’s security, I was pleasantly surprised that most of them, from both parties, specifically mentioned the current and immediate threat to Israel, the U.S. and the Middle East from a nuclear-armed Iran.
All agreed that a diplomatic resolution that prevents Iran from ever reaching that stage is preferable … and that Congress should be involved before a bad deal with the extreme Islamist, terror-sponsoring Republic of Iran is signed.

The ‘Bad Deal’

Last Friday, Iran and the P5+1 negotiators, led by the U.S., renewed talks in Vienna. After the first round Iran foreign minister Abbas Araqchi said that the U.S. negotiating delegation gave the Iranian nuclear team “very useful” explanations regarding the removal of anti-Iran sanctions. He could be referring to the desperate attempt by the US, according to The Wall Street Journal and several news agencies, to bribe Iran into signing a worthless and unenforceable “deal” by agreeing to release $30-50 billion of funds, frozen under the UN Security Council sanctions resolution, immediately … and with only an Iranian highly questionable “promise” to comply … maybe.
What a week this has been:
Israel projecting a bright and shining “light to the nations,” despite Bibi’s obstacles to forming a coalition and tension rises in the North and South.
U.S. grassroots political support for Israel’s security (at least in DFW) is at its height.
The weak U.S.-led P5+1 appears to be abandoning the pledge that “no deal with Iran is better than a bad deal” in favor of “any deal at any cost.”
This week we’re two out of three … let’s see what next week brings.
Agree or disagree, that’s my opinion.

Lt. Col. (IDF res) Gil Elan is President and CEO of the Southwest Jewish Congress, and a Middle East analyst. Email: gil@swjc.org

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Middle East: Gauging mood in Israel on coalition, nukes

Middle East: Gauging mood in Israel on coalition, nukes

Posted on 23 April 2015 by admin

By Gil Elan

A line from a popular Israeli love song by prolific composer Matti Caspi goes: “Things seen from here you see are not seen from there.” I was frequently reminded of that line during a short visit to Israel last week for a class reunion, where I had a chance to talk to many friends and family members representing a broad spectrum of political opinions.
This gave me a unique opportunity to gauge the overall mood of most Israelis in the wake of two major recent events: the election results in Israel and the widely criticized U.S.-Iran “Nuclear Framework Agreement.”
Regarding the elections, once the Likud supporters finished celebrating, and the Zionist Camp supporters got over their disappointment, the raw and combative election mode emotions literally dissipated. They were replaced by everyone’s calm and erudite opinions, expressed frequently and repeatedly whenever two or more Israelis, acquainted or not, happened to be in proximity to one another (like at a bus stop or supermarket cashier line), as to which parties “must” be in Netanyahu’s coalition and what politician “must” get a senior cabinet position … lest the country goes to hell in a handbasket.
As of Tuesday, Netanyahu has not yet formed a coalition and has been given a 14-day extension by President Reuven Rivlin.
I believe that Bibi will form a coalition, now that there seems to be good agreement between him and Moshe Kahalon, whose party won 10 seats in the elections.
Regarding the U.S.-Iranian “framework agreement,” there is virtually universal condemnation of it by Israelis at all levels. Both pundits and security experts agree that by just announcing the unsigned framework agreement, the U.S., and therefore the world, both in principle and in fact recognizes and accepts Iran as a “nuclear threshold” country. Whether breakout time is four weeks or 12 months or 10 years is totally irrelevant.
But the biggest issue with the framework is its focus on uranium enrichment in thousands of cascading centrifuges of various “generations.” The “framework” talks about limiting enrichment, closing enrichment facilities, monitoring stockpiles of enriched uranium, etc., but only in passing grudgingly allows Iran to continue using the heavy-water nuclear reactor near the city of Arak as long as it limits the production of plutonium.
And “there’s the rub” as Shakespeare said. An enriched uranium bomb is big, heavy and cannot be miniaturized to fit on a missile. On the other hand a plutonium-based bomb is smaller, and easily transported and deployed. Weapons-grade plutonium is produced in heavy-water reactors, which can be as small on the outside as a warehouse.
And who says that Iran has only one heavy-water reactor in Arak?
The nuclear reactor destroyed in Syria, allegedly by Israel on Sept. 6, 2007, was a small, camouflaged North Korean model heavy-water reactor. In addition to a few North Korean workers killed in the attack, several Iranian nuclear engineers and IRGC (Islamic revolution) officers were also killed and injured. This was a 100 percent Iranian heavy-water, weapons grade plutonium-producing reactor.
The question is how many more does Iran already have that are operational, either in Iran, Syria, Iraq or Lebanon?
According to Professor Avraham Guber from the department of electronic physics in the faculty of engineering at Tel Aviv University,  enriched uranium nukes do not threaten Israel. Plutonium nukes do.
Based on this information from Israel, I hope that the final “deal” will focus on finding and destroying the hidden heavy-water reactors and plutonium stockpiles, while dealing with Iran’s missiles, and worrying less about the enriched uranium process.
From my talks and meetings last week, I have the comfortable feeling that Israel is already on it.
To paraphrase Caspi’s song: “Things you see from Israel are certainly not seen from here.”
Agree or disagree, that’s my opinion.

Lt. Col. (IDF res) Gil Elan is President and CEO of the Southwest Jewish Congress, and a Middle East analyst. Email: gil@swjc.org. Upcoming briefings and SWJC events are listed at www.swjc.org.

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