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The J be. Event: 13 years and counting!

The J be. Event: 13 years and counting!

Posted on 05 December 2019 by admin

Only day after an EF-3 tornado caused significant damage to the beloved JCC and the surrounding neighborhood Sunday, Oct. 20, the J City Limits committee arrived at the J. It was obvious to the committee that the facility would not be a usable venue for the 13th annual be. Event the following Saturday night. The J planned for a show-stopping evening, modeled after the highly successful music festival, Austin City Limits. With the “show must go on” attitude, the committee and professional team from the J began scouring the city for venues that could host the event on short notice. The options were severely limited when miraculously Congregation Shearith Israel stepped in to save the day. Shearith welcomed the J with open arms. After much coordination, Kaplan Hall was transformed into a music festival and the Oct. 26 event became magical.
The community came together and experienced joy after the storm; they were treated to great music and danced the night away. “The JCC has a special role in the community in times of joy and sorrow. This is one of the reasons this event had to happen. One of the tenets of our mission statement is to bring the community together, and we did just that.” said Artie Allen, CEO of the Aaron Family JCC.
The be. Event, which was chaired by Anita Chanon, Marion Glazer, Lisa Lieberman, Pam Pluss, Lauren Savariego, Jody Stein, Karla Steinberg, Natalie Waldman and Karen Weinreb, is the JCC’s largest fundraiser, and proceeds of the event benefit year-round programming and services. Featured acts included Emerald City’s Party Machine and the tribute bands A Hard Day’s Night and Journey Unauthorized.

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It’s raining diapers in Big D

It’s raining diapers in Big D

Posted on 05 December 2019 by admin

During its 9th annual Diaper Shower in October, Jewish Family Service of Greater Dallas collected more than 84,000 diapers and 64,000 wipes for those in need.
While the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) offers nutrition assistance to millions of eligible, low-income individuals and families, it does not cover the cost of diapers or wipes, and it is reported that one in three mothers are in need of support in providing their children with products. The Diaper Shower also collects adult incontinence items for those in need.
In addition to receiving online donations, satellite collection sites were Akiba-Yavneh Academy Early Childhood Center, Ann & Nate Levine Academy Early Childhood Center, Anshai Torah, Athleta–Preston and Royal, Congregation Shearith Israel, Carr, Riggs & Ingram, Goldberg Early Childhood Center at the JCC, MacArthur OBGYN, MacArthur Pediatrics, Mary Kay Inc., PJ Library Birthday Bash, Speech TX and Team Networking. Event co-chairs were Cathy Glick, Julie Liberman and Beverly Rossel.

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Home run anniversary #45 for Temple Shalom Softball League

Home run anniversary #45 for Temple Shalom Softball League

Posted on 05 December 2019 by admin

Photos: Alicia Shwarts
Spring League Champs, front row, from left, Eddie Tann, Rick Halperin, Tim Murray, Tommy Baer, Thomas Kulcak and John Miller; back row, Jason Murray, Rony Batagower, Ryan Driggers, Brian Osgood, Kyle Crouse and Robbie Franklin.

By Deb Silverthorn
Temple Shalom’s Brotherhood Softball Shalom League will complete the cycle of its 45th year beginning at 8:30 a.m. Sunday, Dec. 15, at its awards breakfast at Temple Shalom, 6930 Alpha Road in Dallas.
“We started as members of Temple Shalom’s Brotherhood. Now we’re a brotherhood of our community,” said Bob Weinfeld, who, with Jack Borenstein, Murray London, Les Taub, the late Steve Chown and the late Seymour Kaplan, founded the league in 1975.
“We started with six teams. Now there are 20 in the spring, with 240 players, and 16 in the fall with 192,” said Weinfeld. The league’s 26 games are played at Plano’s Heritage Yards. “I’m proud of the league and proud of the bonds it has built,” Weinfeld added.
“Seventy-five percent of our league plays year-round, and from scouting and the draft to banquet, it is year-round,” said Wayne Casper, whose son Kyle has played, younger son Logan waiting from the sidelines to age-in. This year the league expanded the leadership team, and Casper — in his 10th year as commissioner — welcomed Vice-chairs Matt Roth and Andrew Williams. “Our retention rate is high and we’re fathers and sons, two generations with a third on the horizon. This league is special.”
Player registration for 2020 is open until Jan. 19, with rosters filled with men from around the city, ages 18 to “very senior,” said Weinfeld, 93. Retired from playing at 69, Weinfeld manages the Pirates, his team since the Shalom League began.
Awards will be given to championship teams — the Mariners, coached by John Miller (Spring) and the Tin Cups, coached by Scott Greenberg (Fall), division winners Larry Silverman’s Rangers and Andrew Williams’ Diamondbacks (Spring) and David Buhrow’s Bats and Scott Greenberg’s Tin Cups (Fall).
The seasons’ Hall of Fame inductees, MVPs, Rookies of the Year, “Mr. Shalom” — the league’s top teammate, the Susan Tooch–most supportive fan award and the recipient of the Phyllis Unell Temple Shalom Brotherhood and Softball League Scholarship will be announced.
The celebration welcomes Tom Grieve, who began his career with the Washington Senators in 1966. He played for the Cardinals and Mets, but mostly with the Senators, who later became the Texas Rangers. After retiring, Grieve was the Rangers’ director of group sales, assistant director and director of player development. Known as “Mr. Ranger,” he is readying to begin his 26th year as the Rangers’ television analyst.
“I’m honored to return to this really incredible group,” said Grieve, who, like most, can’t say “no” to Weinfeld, this his “many-eth” awards visit. “My career has been too good to be true and to tell stories about what I love is a joy.
“The game doesn’t change. People rooting for their teams, enjoying great ballparks and making memories,” said Grieve. “For the Shalom League, it’s the same. I doubt there’s another league with more passion, professionalism and ability to seep into its community.”
Featured during the breakfast will be a screening of second-generation player and documentarian Randy Kramen’s latest segment of his documentary, “Temple Shalom Softball,” with interviews and re-enactment clips from the league’s third through seventh years.
“I started the documentary in 2014, inspired by my dad’s love of the game. It’s a tribute to those for whom Sunday morning softball is a way of life,” said Kramen, whose father Martin and brother Marc have been a part of the league for many years.
Regardless of win or lose, or who’s on first, the Shalom Softball League is about respect, fun, and a gratifying sense of comradeship.
“I’ve loved this game since I was 6 years old. I’ve been with these Pirates for 45 years and my goal is to hit 50. When I make that, heck, I’ll extend another 12,” said Weinfeld. “We’re all out there having fun and playing the game most of us have loved all of our lives.”
To RSVP ($5 for the public, free for league participants and Shalom Brotherhood members) event, email robert.weinfeld@tx.rr.com or call 214-440-2542. For league details, visit shalomleague.org and to support the documentary, email shalom.softball.documentary@gmail.com.

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Oct. 20 tornado damages South of Forest Eruv

Oct. 20 tornado damages South of Forest Eruv

Posted on 05 December 2019 by admin

Photos: Shirley Rovinsky
Rabbi Deon Nathan inspects the South of Forest eruv for damage as utility workers look on.

$8,255 needed to fix destruction caused by twister

By Shirley Rovinsky
Special to the TJP
For those who live in the devastation area of the recent tornado, experiencing the loss of homes and properties, our hearts go out to you. As the community begins the long journey toward healing — while not on the same level — the South of Forest Eruv is in the midst of the destruction area and has sustained major damage.
As the tornado tore through North Dallas it also destroyed perimeters of the eruv, which covers a six-mile area. Part of the west perimeter damage extends from Royal Lane south, past St. Mark’s School to Mimosa. Part of the east perimeter extends from Mason Dells to Northaven behind the homes on Valleydale. This part of the eruv had used the fences along the spillway which are no longer there.
The utility company, approved by Oncor Electric, has been busy repairing lines for homes and businesses and is now able to address the eruv. I worked with this company when construction began on the eruv in 2015. They are now replacing the wiring and have extended payment for 30 days.
The cost for the repair is $8,255.00.
The reconstruction is being supervised by Rabbi Deon Nathan, who also checks the eruv weekly to ensure it is “up” and kosher. He is working closely with the utility men indicating where the wires need to be placed on each of the poles. It has been a pleasure to work with both Rabbi Sholey Klein and Rabbi Nathan these past four years to keep the eruv up and running.
I am reaching out to friends and members of the community to consider a contribution.
The South of Forest Eruv is a 501(c)3 and all gifts are deductible and will receive a letter for tax purposes. Contributions may be sent to: The South of Forest Eruv in care of Shirley Rovinsky, 7023 Northaven Road, Dallas, TX 75230-3504. If you have any questions, please call 214-739-6181.
The South of Forest Eruv has been a vision that came to fruition not only for my own family but also for others in the area who use an eruv as well. As the volunteer administrator, I emphasize that it is only through the generosity of community that the South of Forest Eruv continues.
Those in the community who use it every Shabbat and holiday, thank you in advance for any consideration.

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Sabina Chamoy competes on Food Network’s Chopped Jr.

Sabina Chamoy competes on Food Network’s Chopped Jr.

Posted on 03 December 2019 by admin

Photo: Courtesy Rita Chamoy
Tune in to Food Network’s Chopped Junior Dec. 3 to see how Sabina Chamoy fared on the competition.
Lakehill 7th grader showcases Hanukkah on holiday episode Dec. 3

By Nicole Hawkins
A Dallas seventh grader is making her dreams come true one meal at a time as a contestant on the cooking show “Chopped Junior,” set to air Dec. 3 on Food Network.
Sabina Chamoy, 12, was chosen from thousands of applicants to compete during the holiday episode of the show. Food Network flew Chamoy and her mother, Rita, to New York City in July where Chamoy competed against three other junior chefs.
“This is a dream come true,” Chamoy said. “I never thought that this would happen to someone like me.”
Chamoy began cooking three years ago at Sur La Table, a cooking and dining retailer in Dallas, where she took cooking classes and private lessons, some from celebrity chef Tre Wilcox, who has competed on Bravo’s “Top Chef” and “Top Chef Masters.”
“I have a really strong passion for cooking,” Sabina Chamoy said. “I think I started cooking because I was watching all of these [cooking] shows…then I started cooking and I just fell in love with it.”
During the rounds of competition, the chefs prepared holiday meals. As the only Jewish competitor, Chamoy prepared Hanukkah dishes while her competitors cooked Christmas meals.
“She was really proud to represent her faith and the Jewish people and her upbringing and all the traditions that she enjoys all of her life at Hanukkah,” Rita Chamoy said. The Chamoys are members of Congregation Shearith Israel.
“I loved being the only one for Hanukkah,” Sabina Chamoy said.
While Chamoy and her competitors were walking on set, the producers would announce “chefs walking,” she said.
“We’re just kids but they called us chefs,” Sabina Chamoy said, laughing.
Despite her love for cooking, Chamoy has her eyes set on a different career path for the future.
“I really love cooking and I think being a chef would be awesome but I do love STEM and science and all of that,” S. Chamoy said. “If I had a second choice it would be cooking.”
“[Cooking is] more like a hobby that I have a great passion for,” she said.
Chamoy said if she were to give advice to a future “Chopped Junior” contestant it would be to set their expectations high.
“I would tell them to expect the greatest because that’s what I did and it was amazing,” she said.
The “Holiday Hoopla” episode of “Chopped Junior” will air Dec. 3 at 7 p.m. on Food Network.

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Ex-white nationalist, Orthodox Jew speak

Ex-white nationalist, Orthodox Jew speak

Posted on 20 November 2019 by admin

Photo: Alexandra Lang
Discussing the importance of understanding and human dignity are, from left, DHHRM CEO Mary Pat Higgins, Derek Black and Matthew Stevenson Nov. 12 at the new museum.
DHHRM dialogue highlights concept of understanding

By Alexandra Lang
Derek Black, a former white nationalist, and Matthew Stevenson, an Orthodox Jew, addressed members of the Dallas-Fort Worth community Nov. 12, discussing their unlikely friendship and Black’s transformation.
Black explained to the crowd at the Dallas Holocaust and Human Rights Museum that he was raised by a family with deep ties to the white nationalist movement. His godfather was former Ku Klux Klan leader David Duke, who once referred to Black as “the leading light of our movement.”
His father founded Stormfront, a white nationalist website. As a child, Black created the Stormfront for Kids page and publicly championed his family’s political views.
When Black enrolled at New College of Florida, he tried to keep his beliefs secret, knowing he would encounter and hope to befriend people who belonged to the very groups he had been raised to believe were inferior.
“I had this ideology that, on an individual level, I couldn’t predict anything about people, but that didn’t mean that white nationalism about large groups didn’t have the right world view,” he said. “I just tried to keep that dichotomy. I tried to tell myself that it wasn’t contradictory…it was much more contradictory than I anticipated.”
While he tried to keep his past hidden during college, Black said he had known even then that his politics would eventually become public. That fateful day arrived during his second semester while he was studying abroad in Germany. A student posted about his background on a schoolwide message board, known as the forum.
“All of the relationships I’d built just melted away because people felt betrayed that I didn’t tell them about this part of myself, [and because] their identities were threatened by [my] worldview,” Black said.
While most students shunned Black, Stevenson, the only Orthodox Jew at New College, invited him to attend his weekly Shabbat dinners.
“One of the most central concepts that was drilled into me growing up was the concept of human dignity,” he said. “That I have the ability and the right to disagree with people, to protest against what they’re doing, but I don’t have the right to treat somebody without human dignity.”
Before the first dinner, Stevenson was careful to warn the other attendees about Black’s past. While most were critical of the decision and chose not to attend, some people still decided to go to the dinner.
Stevenson hoped that by inviting Black, the latter would start to question his views.
“I was absolutely of the hope that by forming these connections, it would become increasingly difficult to advocate for real or perceived violence against Jews, people of color, etc.,” he said.
Over time, Black’s conversations with the people attending those dinners caused him to question his beliefs.
“One by one, these bits of evidence over the years, each one didn’t break my worldview. But after two years…there is no evidence left,” he said.
But in addition to the “evidence,” Black also said the relationships he formed with people of different backgrounds catalyzed his change.
He asked, “How can you be friends with somebody and say that’s an individual decision, and also say that [it doesn’t matter what happens] to their family, their friends, their neighborhood, their community?”
Texas Christian University Hillel brought a delegation of students to hear the men speak.
Sarah Davis, a senior and active student at TCU Hillel, said the men’s friendship taught her how people can have important discussions about tough issues.
“It might not look like inviting a white supremacist over to Shabbat,” she said. “It could be as simple as starting a conversation. Or being gracious and friendly without an agenda.”
Julia Murray, a junior who went to the event with TCU Hillel, said she connected with the two men’s calls for communication and empathy.
“Ultimately, our goal should be understanding,” she said. “For if we understand one another, we are one step closer to finding truth, whether it be within or outside of ourselves.”
Alexandra Lang is the president of TCU Hillel. This article first appeared on the Hillel international blog at www.hillel.org.

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Fred Klein receives French Legion of Honor award

Fred Klein receives French Legion of Honor award

Posted on 20 November 2019 by admin

Photo: Angela Klein
“I was born in the region that was liberated by this division and, with my countrymen, am forever grateful for the contribution to peace,” said the consul general of France in Houston, Alexis Andres, who provided Fred Klein with the Chevalier de la Légion d’Honneur — the Knight of the French Legion of Honor — medal. “Frederick and his men were nothing less than heroes.”
French Consul General thanks 94-year-old for his service

By Deb Silverthorn
Kol hakavod, brava honneur and great honor to Dallas resident PFC Frederick “Fred” Klein, who on Nov. 11, Veterans Day, received the Chevalier de la Légion d’Honneur — the Knight of the French Legion of Honor — medal. Decorated with the award by French Consul General Alexis Andres, Klein stood among family and community at Dallas City Hall.
“Seventy-four years ago World War II ended and I hope nothing like it will ever occur again,” said Klein, who turns 95 on Dec. 20. In addition to this honor, Klein has received the Bronze Star, European African Middle Eastern, Good Conduct and World War II Victory medals. At the ceremony, the City of Dallas gave Klein a commemorative coin marking the 75th anniversary of the invasion of Normandy. “I appreciate this award and know we helped bring freedom to the French people as well as to many others in Europe,” Klein said
For Andres, presenting the award is one of the greatest joys of his role. Klein is one of 300 Texans in the last 10 years to receive the honor. “Frederick was very young when he was sent to war and most of those young men had never traveled, never been abroad, never been to Europe,” said the consul general of France, based in Houston. “I was born in the region that was liberated by this division and, with my countrymen, am forever grateful for the contribution to peace. Frederick and his men were nothing less than heroes.”
The Légion d’Honneur award is an order of distinction, established by Napoleon Bonaparte in 1802, to honor extraordinary contributions to France. The award is given only to veterans still alive, and to those who meet a strict criterion of application, including fighting in either the liberation of France, Normandy, Provence/Southern France or Northern France.
A native of the Bronx, New York, Klein is the son of Jeanette and Jules Klein and younger brother of Florence and Leonard, all of blessed memory.
After graduating from high school, Klein was drafted and began basic training in June 1943, his Military Occupational Service, the Infantry Scout 761. In January 1944 he left for England, where he was trained in combat intelligence to plot maps for the powers that be to determine their course of action. With the 83rd Infantry Division, he joined the fight in Normandy, France.
In August 1944, Klein’s unit moved to the Brittany Peninsula, overtaking the Germans in many towns including the capture of the Fortress Paula on Hill 48. The division then moved to the Loire Valley, Luxembourg, Hurtgen Forest, Ardennes, Rhineland, Heart of Germany and Elbe River crossing.
After returning to the United States, and receiving an honorable discharge, Klein attended and graduated from Long Island University’s Brooklyn College of Pharmacy, following in the professional footsteps of his father. In 1954, Klein, his brother and father opened Lister Pharmacy while he also worked as a pharmacist for a vitamin company.
Klein left the family pharmacy, then developing the first national mail-order prescription program as a benefit sponsored by unions, companies and state and federal governmental agencies. He retired in 2003.
Klein and his wife, Marcia, moved to Dallas in 2006 and recently celebrated 66 years of marriage. They were first introduced by a mutual friend. The couple are the parents of Jody (Barry) Klein-Saffran and Marc (Angela) and the grandparents of Adam and Debbie Klein and Alex and Jay Saffran.
“The whole family is very proud of Dad, and this ceremony and honor are both well-deserved and incredible to be a part of,” said Marc. “It is nice to have the memories to share, and the legacy that he has lived noted. His example to our family, and to everyone, is very special.”
World travelers, the couple have been to 104 countries, to each continent, and they’ve seen the Seven Wonders of the World. “I’ve always enjoyed traveling, except of course in the case of my service — that wasn’t ‘traveling,’” said Klein. “I wanted to see as much of this world as I could before I leave it.”

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Special Needs Partnership honors influencers

Special Needs Partnership honors influencers

Posted on 20 November 2019 by admin

On Thursday, Nov. 7, the Special Needs Partnership at Jewish Family Service of Greater Dallas hosted its third SNP Honors Event, highlighting influencers and role models in the community.
Two Jewish organizations, Temple Emanu-El and Community Homes For Adults, Inc. (CHAI), were recognized for their work that has positively impacted so many families and individuals with special needs.
Lisa Brodsky, CEO of CHAI; Rabbi Amy Ross, director of Learning and Innovation at Temple Emanu-El; and Jessica Frank, learning specialist at the Early Childhood Education Center at Temple Emanu-El, all accepted awards and shared inspiring moments and information about their respective special needs programs. Director of the Special Needs Partnership and Programs Lorraine Friedman shared how vital it is to create meaningful relationships with both the families and institutions to better serve our community.
The Special Needs Partnership’s goal is for individuals with special needs to have the opportunity to reach their highest potential socially, emotionally, behaviorally and academically. For more information, visit www.jfsdallas.org/SNP or contact Lorraine Friedman at lfriedman@jfsdallas.org.

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Everything you need to know about Israeli settlements and the Trump administration’s announcement

Everything you need to know about Israeli settlements and the Trump administration’s announcement

Posted on 19 November 2019 by Sharon Wisch-Ray

Tekoa, an Israeli settlement of nearly 4,000 people in the West Bank’s Gush Etzion bloc, is shown in 2019. (Laura Ben-David)

By Laura E. Adkins, Ben Sales

(JTA) — Secretary of State Mike Pompeo announced this week that the United States will no longer consider Israeli Jewish settlements in the West Bank to be illegal.

Here’s an explainer about what the settlements are, how they are viewed in Israel and around the world, and what this announcement might mean.

What are the settlements? How many Israelis live there?

In the 1967 Six-Day War, Israel captured large swaths of territory from neighboring countries. Israel took the Sinai Peninsula and the Gaza Strip from Egypt, the West Bank and eastern Jerusalem from Jordan, and the Golan Heights from Syria.

Israel later withdrew from the Sinai and Gaza, and annexed eastern Jerusalem and the Golan. It still controls the West Bank, a territory between Israel and Jordan, but has not annexed it. This means that the West Bank is not legally considered a full part of the country under Israeli law, though many Israelis believe it to be so.

Israelis began establishing civilian settlements in these areas soon after the war, mostly in the West Bank and eastern Jerusalem. Eastern Jerusalem contains the Old City, which is home to the city’s holiest sites for Jews, Christians and Muslims, including the Western Wall and the Al-Aqsa Mosque. Approximately 200,000 Israelis and 370,000 Arabs now live in eastern Jerusalem.

Some 405,000 Jewish Israelis live in the West Bank, which Israel’s government refers to as Judea and Samaria, alongside 1.9 million Palestinians, who are not citizens of Israel.

There are approximately 130 West Bank settlements, ranging from small villages of 100 people near Arab towns, to the college town of Ariel with a population of 19,000, to the haredi Orthodox enclave of Modiin Illit, located just across the boundary from Israel proper, which has 70,000 inhabitants.

On the Golan Heights, where Israel borders Syria, approximately 22,000 Israelis live alongside 26,000 Druze. Israel annexed the territory and thus does not consider these residents to be settlers, though much of the international community rejects the claim. In March, President Donald Trump recognized Israeli sovereignty over the Golan, the first country to officially do so.

Israelis had also previously settled in the Gaza Strip and Sinai Peninsula, but settlements there were evacuated when Israel withdrew from those territories.

What does international law say about settlements? 

Eastern Jerusalem, the West Bank and the Golan Heights are all widely considered to be illegally occupied under international law.

In 2004, the International Court of Justice issued an advisory position that Israeli settlements were established in breach of international law. Israeli settlements are also widely considered to be a violation of the Fourth Geneva Convention, which prohibits an occupier from “transfer[ring] parts of its own civilian population into the territory it occupies.” Both Israel and the United States ratified this convention.

Israel’s Foreign Ministry contends that settlements do not violate international law because they sit “on legitimately acquired land which did not belong to a previous lawful sovereign” and are in many cases modern incarnations of historical Jewish villages.

What does Israeli law say about the settlements?

It’s complicated. Legally, Israeli settlements are treated differently than cities and towns in Israel proper. Israel’s government — in particular, a section of the Defense Ministry called the Civil Administration — must approve additional construction in the settlements before new homes can be built.

But in practice, settlements look and operate much like any other small town in Israel — down to identical street signs and public transit. For example, Ariel in the northern West Bank is connected to Tel Aviv by a major highway and boasts Ariel University.

Settlements that are not authorized by the Defense Ministry are known as “outposts” and generally are smaller and located farther from the border between the West Bank and Israel. Many have been built on private Palestinian land, and the Israeli Supreme Court has occasionally issued rulings requiring that they be demolished. A 2017 law aimed to retroactively legalize some of these settlements, though its implementation was blocked in court.

Pompeo said in his announcement that the U.S. recognition would not extend to settlements that Israel’s courts deem illegal. He also said the new position does not prejudge the status of the West Bank in any final peace agreement that Israelis and Palestinians might someday reach. Speaking of which …

What is the significance of the settlements for the peace process?

Israeli-Palestinian negotiations have been moribund for more than five years, so at this point, Pompeo’s announcement has only a theoretical impact on a future Israeli-Palestinian agreement.

But in the past, peace talks have largely been predicated on the understanding that a Palestinian state would eventually be established in the West Bank. Because there are settlements in that territory, many peace proposals have called for the large settlement blocs on the Israeli border to become part of Israel and for the rest to be evacuated.

Palestinians, in addition to viewing the settlements as a violation of international law, see them as both physical and ideological obstacles to peace. Besides taking up the territory of a would-be Palestinian state, Palestinians see settlement expansion as a signal that Israelis are not sincere about withdrawing from the territory. Palestinians have also protested violence on the part of settlers.

Israeli opinion on the settlements is split. According to a 2018 poll from the Israel Democracy Institute, 47% of Jewish Israelis support a two-state solution, which would presumably require the dismantling of at least some settlements. And a poll this year from the American Jewish Committee found that half of Jewish Israelis believe no settlements at all should be dismantled as part of a peace agreement.

Settlers consider the West Bank the geographical center of the historical Land of Israel, and many religious Jews value it as the place where many of the Bible’s events are thought to have occurred. Some Israelis also believe that control of the territory enhances Israel’s security.

Other Israelis believe Israel’s presence in the West Bank is unjust, or that controlling a large population of the Palestinians harms the country’s security, moral standing or Jewish demographic majority. Arab Israelis largely oppose the settlements and favor the establishment of a Palestinian state.

How have Israeli and Palestinian leaders reacted to Pompeo’s announcement? 

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu applauded the move — as did Benny Gantz, his political rival who is in the final hours of trying to cobble together a governing coalition in the Knesset.

The announcement could help Netanyahu, who vowed this year to annex parts of the West Bank should he remain in office. Gantz has been more vague about his position on the West Bank.

Arab-Israeli leader Ayman Odeh criticized the announcement, saying, that “no foreign minister will change the fact that the settlements were built on occupied land on which a sovereign Palestinian state will be established by Israel’s side.”

Saeb Erekat, a longtime Palestinian diplomat and negotiator with Israel, said in a statement that “with this announcement, the Trump administration is demonstrating the extent to which it’s threatening the international system with its unceasing attempts to replace international law with the ‘law of the jungle.’”

And though the announcement came from the Trump administration, so did a note of caution about the policy change. The U.S. Embassy in Jerusalem issued a travel warning for Americans, saying they could be targeted by “individuals and groups opposed to the Secretary of State’s recent announcement.” U.S. government employees are prohibited from visiting the West Bank and the Old City of Jerusalem.

Marcy Oster contributed to this report. 

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Ukraine asked Alexander Vindman to be its defense minister, and other takeaways from his impeachment testimony

Ukraine asked Alexander Vindman to be its defense minister, and other takeaways from his impeachment testimony

Posted on 19 November 2019 by Sharon Wisch-Ray

UNITED STATES – NOVEMBER 19: Lt. Col. Alexander Vindman, director of European affairs at the National Security Council, arrives to testify during the House Intelligence Committee hearing on the impeachment inquiry of President Trump in Longworth Building on Tuesday, November 19, 2019. Jennifer Williams, an aide to Vice President Mike Pence, also testified. (Photo By Tom Williams/CQ-Roll Call, Inc via Getty Images)

By Ben Sales

This is a developing story. 
(JTA) — Lt. Col. Alexander Vindman, the Jewish National Security Council staffer whose firsthand account of the July phone call between President Donald Trump and the president of Ukraine is at the center of the impeachment inquiry, is testifying in the impeachment hearings on Tuesday. Here are the biggest takeaways from his testimony to the House Intelligence Committee.
Vindman was thrice offered the position of Ukrainian defense minister. He rejected the offers.
This minor bombshell has not yet been reported. Steve Castor, a Republican staff attorney, asked whether Oleksandr Danylyuk, then Ukraine’s national security adviser, offered Vindman the post.
“Every single time, I dismissed it,” said Vindman, a Ukraine native. “Upon returning, I notified my chain of command and the appropriate counterintelligence folks about the offer.”
Vindman later said the offer would be “a great honor” but declined because he is an American.
“I’m an American, I came here when I was a toddler, and I immediately dismissed these offers, did not entertain them,” he said. “The whole notion is rather comical that I was being asked to consider whether I would want to be the minister of defense. I did not leave the door open at all. But it is pretty funny for a lieutenant colonel in the United States Army, which really is not that senior, to be offered that illustrious a position.”
He mentioned his Jewish family’s immigration story in his opening statement.
The statement concluded with Vindman retelling his family’s immigrant story and an expression of appreciation for U.S. democracy in contrast to Russia’s authoritarian government. Vindman’s family was among a group of Soviet Jewish refugees that was allowed to immigrate to the United States in 1979. He and his brothers have served in the U.S. military.
“In Russia, my act of expressing my concerns to the chain of command in an official and private channel would have severe personal and professional repercussions, and offering public testimony involving the president would surely cost me my life,” he said in the statement. “I am grateful for my father’s brave act of hope 40 years ago and for the privilege of being an American citizen and public servant, where I can live free of fear for mine and my family’s safety.”
Vindman also addressed his father personally in the statement, telling him not to fear retribution because of the testimony.
“Dad, my sitting here today, in the U.S. Capitol talking to our elected officials, is proof that you made the right decision 40 years ago to leave the Soviet Union and come here to the United States of America in search of a better life for our family,” he said. “Do not worry, I will be fine for telling the truth.”
He pushed back against attacks on his loyalty to the United States. 
Some Trump supporters have claimed that Vindman, a career U.S. Army officer who was injured in battle in 2014 and awarded a Purple Heart, is more loyal to interests in his native Ukraine than to the United States.
During his testimony, Vindman defended himself against those attacks.
“I’m in uniform wearing my military rank,” he said. “The attacks that I’ve had in the press, on Twitter, have kind of eliminated the fact — marginalized me as a military officer.”
He said he’s definitely not a “Never Trumper.”
Asked directly in the hearings by Rep. Jim Himes, D-Conn., if he were a “Never Trumper” — something that Trump called Jennifer Williams, the other person testifying Tuesday, in a tweet on Sunday — Vindman had a pithy response that’s sure to make the rounds on social media: “I’d call myself never partisan.”

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