In his AIPAC keynote speech last Tuesday, Israel's prime minister, Benjamin Netanyahu, emphasized that Iran is an "outlaw terrorist state" that should not be permitted to enrich uranium:
Pressure is what brought Iran to the negotiating table in the first place, and only more pressure will get [them] to abandon their nuclear weapons program. Greater pressure on Iran will not make war more likely; it will make war less likely — because the greater the pressure on Iran and more credible the threat of force on Iran, the smaller chance that force will ever have to be used.
Netanyahu made a case for the peace process, noting that peace with the Palestinians would open up the possibility of establishing formal ties between Israel and the Arab world, leading to great economic and other gains in the region.
On July 13, 1948, thousands of Arabs left their homes in Lydda (now Lod) and marched in the heat of the summer toward Ramallah, then held by the Arab Legion. Why they did this has been the subject of great historical and political debate.
One account explains the exodus as a product of the civil war that preceded the May 1948 attack on Israel by its Arab neighbors.
Another account, now making the rounds of Jewish book clubs across the U.S., is Ari Shavit's My Promised Land: The Triumph and Tragedy of Israel. Ignoring the recent work of prominent Israeli academicians and the growing body of first-hand narratives and other primary sources, Shavit paints the exodus as an act of ethnic cleansing.
Israeli academicians Avraham Sela, Alon Kadish and Arnon Golan's book, "The Occupation of Lod, July 1948," meticulously documents the unfolding of events. The book cites primary sources, from Israel Defense Forces (IDF) telegrams and reports, to documents found at the Lydda Military Command, to personal accounts by both Jewish and Arab participants. Here is the account, in brief.
The Israeli Consulate in Philadelphia announced that it will not provide consular services until further notice, except for life threatening situations and burials in Israel, as part of a labor dispute in the Israeli Ministry of Foreign Affairs.
As of Tuesday, March 4, Israeli diplomats worldwide have renewed their work sanctions due to the Finance Ministry's refusal to resolve the dispute.
Under these sanctions, Israel's diplomats will no longer engage with foreign representatives, take care of official visits of any kind (either in Israel or overseas), issue visas or provide any consular services.
Treasury Secretary Jacob J. Lew at the 2014 American Israel Public Affair Committee Policy Conference
The reason we are all here is because for more than 40 years, AIPAC has been the indispensable leader in keeping the alliance between the United States and Israel unbreakable. And you have done that through your powerful example of advocacy and activism-you make your voices heard, you take your case to your representatives here in Washington, and you stand up for what you believe in. This is not just your right as Americans. It is your responsibility. It is the essence of our democratic system.
And as everyone here recognizes, the future of the United States is tied to the future of Israel. This is something that every President since Harry Truman has understood.
Akiba Hebrew Academy graduates Michael Bihovsky, Adam Levinthal and Andrew Davies star in the newly-released, full-length musical animated comedy DVD Megillas Lester, presented by EMES Productions, produced by Kolrom Animation Studios, and distributed by ArtScroll.
Bihovsky, who directed and starred in One Grain More and Fresh! now voices Doniel "Lester" Lesterovitch, an average boy in a Jewish elementary school. While directing his school's Purim play, Lester gets a knock on the head from a fallen box of puffy paint and falls unconscious. Suddenly, Lester finds himself in the middle of the feast of King Achashverosh, and through a case of mistaken identity, it is Lester who is asked to go summon Queen Vashti to the party.
Secretary of State John Kerry at the American Israel Public Affairs Committee Conference
Today, as Israel faces serious challenges to her future, it is America that will stand firmly by her side.
I will tell you that with the leadership of President Obama — and you can look it up, you can measure it; this is not an exaggeration, it's a matter of fact — there has been a complete, unmatched commitment to Israel's security. The record of this Administration in providing aid and assistance, consultation, weapons, help, standing up in various international fora, fighting, I am proud to tell you, is unrivaled. And the bottom line, pure and simple, has been making sure that Israel has the means to defend itself by itself and defending Israel's right to be able to do so. That is what we've done.
Security. Security is fundamentally what President Obama is committed to. And so too is he committed to using the full force of our diplomacy to resolve the two great questions that most matter when it comes to ensuring the security of Israel: preventing a nuclear Iran and ending the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.
The Israeli Film Festival of Philadelphia will mark its 18th year Saturday, March 8, with a screening of the comedy "Hunting Elephants" and a gala dessert reception at the University of Pennsylvania's International House.
The movie features Sir Patrick Stewart, joining Israeli acting veterans Sasson Gabai and Moni Moshonov in a cinematic romp in which three elderly men and a young teenager decide to rob a Jerusalem bank.
On Sunday, March 9, the International House will offer three movies. First at 2:30 p.m., "Hunting Elephants" will be screened again.
(CAMERA) On a number of college campuses, this week is "Israel Apartheid Week," a week where anti-Israel activists try to fool students into believing Israel systematically and legally oppresses minorities.
How can we help our children become academically accomplished? Parents want to do what is best for their children, but don't always know how they can help. According to a Northwestern University 2007 study of 35,000 preschoolers in the United States, Canada and England, when controlling for IQ, family income, gender, temperament, type of previous educational experience, and whether children came from single or two parent families, the study found that the mastery of early math concepts on school entry was the very strongest predictor of future academic success. "Mastery of early math skills predicts not only future math achievement, it also predicts future reading achievement," Greg Duncan, author of the study, said. "And it does so just as reliably as early literacy mastery of vocabulary, letters and phonetics predicts later reading success. The opposite, reading skills predicting math success, does not hold up." However, in early learning environments, most of the time and attention are focused upon early language and literacy skills.
Every U.S. administration has had disagreements with Israel, including on settlements and building in Jerusalem. But unlike many other administrations, the Obama administration has never threatened Israel, let alone taken action against it.
— by Rabbi Abraham Cooper, associate dean, Simon Wiesenthal Center
Like millions of concerned people around the world, we hope that the emerging leadership in Ukraine will steer a course based on democratic values and inclusion, including guaranteeing rights and safety for its large Jewish communities and their communal institutions.
As the late Simon Wiesenthal said, "Where democracy is strong, it is good for Jews and where it is weak, it is bad for Jews." Nothing will better guarantee a future for Ukrainian Jewry than the end of violent confrontations and the restoration of true democratic rule.
When was the last time you heard about Chuck Hagel or Samantha Power from our Republican friends? Remember the wailing and gnashing of teeth that preceded their confirmations?
After taking office, Hagel issued a statement firmly reiterating our support for Israel and our commitment to stopping Iran from acquiring nuclear weapons. Then, he went to Israel and finalized a huge arms deal with the Jewish State.
After taking office, Power reiterated our determination to preventing Iran from acquiring a nuclear weapon. She recently announced that the U.S. "strongly supports Israel's candidacy" for a seat on the U.N. Security Council and that she will "never give up" on that effort.
Last week, Obama appointed Robert Malley to the National Security Council, and those of us who are subscribed to the "right" emails are now being treated to another round of Republican hysteria, courtesy of recycled smears from 2008.
This volume, about a Jewish mixed-race woman raised by her Christian grandparents in a rural area, seems to be intentionally designed as a tool for provoking discussion about race, prejudice, interfaith encounters, the Jewish mourning practice of sitting shiva and saying Kaddish, and dysfunctional families.
As an educator always looking out for high-school-level stories that reveal family diversity, the story also raises important psycho-dynamic issues: that some people do change over time, and how projecting expectations onto others can lead to devastating cruelty.
The violence of the rape and trauma scenes seems quite accurate. Shiva scenes of the Jewish week of mourning after burial reflect the unfortunate and common practice of people giving advice to the primary mourners. Our tradition teaches us to listen to feelings, and not offer fixes. Even so, Kaddish works its magic:
For a few brief moments, I no longer feel like a stranger, but part of something larger, grander than myself. We were brought together by death, but we're held together by the demands of life. That peace and comfort stays with me even as the circle breaks up.
Earlier this week, undercover police in northwestern Iowa busted a man for illegally trying to get a handgun on Facebook.
As a convicted felon, the suspect wasn't allowed to own or buy guns. And Iowa law blocked him from buying handguns without getting a background check and a purchase permit. So he turned to his next best option — Facebook — where users can buy and trade guns with zero oversight.
Skeptical omnivore that I am, I was sure that I would leave Blackbird Pizzeria not feeling satisfied. I must admit that I was wrong.
I discovered the pizzeria's kosher food last year, when I presented at Hazon's Philadelphia Food Conference, where the restaurant's offerings were featured at the lunch. My lunch was so good that it inspired me to visit the restaurant.
The top 1 percent of Pennsylvania earners took home more than half the total increase in income over the past 30 years, and saw more than 10 times as much growth in income as the bottom 99 percent, a new report from the Economic Analysis Research Network (EARN) found.
The report findings reinforce the need for a new policy direction in Harrisburg and Washington, D.C. to restore broadly shared prosperity and widespread opportunity, including a much-needed increase in the minimum wage.
Fewer than 1% of inmates request kosher meals. (San Quentin Prison, California)
— by Kenneth R. Myers, Esq.
Last week, an Orthodox Jewish prison inmate ended his four-year-old lawsuit seeking a kosher diet, thanks to a recent court ruling requiring Florida to provide all Jewish prison inmates with a kosher diet.
This case is one of several that prison inmates and the U.S. Department of Justice have brought in the last few years, where state prisons have withheld the option of kosher meals for Jewish inmates.
The cases are brought under the Religious Land Use and Institutionalized Persons Act of 2000 (commonly referred to as RLUIPA) — the federal law that seeks to protect the right of inmates and other institutionalized persons to free exercise of religious practices. However, some state prison systems are slow to learn.
Providing kosher food for inmates is reported to about double the cost of the usual prison diet: an increase of between $4 and $5 per day for each inmate, according to the prisons. However, very few inmates (typically fewer than 1%) request kosher meals, according to the experience reported in the court decisions.
The courts therefore reject claims by the prisons that the cost of providing kosher food is burdensome. But the details of the cases suggest that there is more than cost at issue.
A publication of the Conservative Movement's Federation of Jewish Men's Clubs, the volume is a collection of essays by Jewish men offering intimate sharing from issues of their current lives. The intent is to stimulate men into returning to synagogue life through participation in male support groups.
The book has its problems, such as the absence of talk about the range of masculinities within gender, as in GBTQIA and a stunning absence of essays relating to maleness and social justice.
That said, many essays do reflect a poignant honesty about these Jewish mens' encounters with life's inevitable challenges.
In primeval times, the earliest humans enjoyed effervescent water from springs in which sodium carbonate from underground rocks dissolved into the water. This created the first natural soda.
In the 18th century, Joseph Priestly discovered that holding a bowl of water over a vat of beer would infuse the water with carbon dioxide. This was the first homemade seltzer water.
Soda syphons were invented in the 1800s. These were special bottles that could dispense soda without releasing all of the trapped gases, and kept the soda from going flat. Syphons were very popular in the 1920s and 1930s.
During World War II, the syphon factories in Europe were bombed. Carbonated water began to be commercially bottled and marketed, and soda syphons fell out of favor.
Students write letters of appreciation and encouragement to soldiers presently serving in the Israeli Defense Forces (IDF), and Connections Israel delivers the letters on Purim together with Mishloach Manot. The letters are a way for us to feel personally involved with the soldiers, and the soldiers really appreciate knowing that they have our support and gratitude.
This week, the federal government released new comprehensive statewide and national data on how many Americans have enrolled in new, more affordable health coverage through the Affordable Care Act's Marketplaces.
The data shows that nearly 3.3 million people had chosen health plans through state-run exchanges as well as the federal exchange by February 1 — a 53% increase over the number enrolled a month earlier.
Many of these individuals are already receiving coverage as of January 1. Those who enroll by March 15 will receive their coverage starting April 1.
Open enrollment ends on March 31. Anyone who hasn't enrolled by then, may have to wait until 2015 for health insurance and may be subject to a penalty.
During a Monday meeting in her Philadelphia office, the regional director of the Department of Health and Human Services, Joanne Grossi, told local organizations working on enrollment that the area had achieved the second-highest percentage in the federal marketplace, after Miami. This ranking was among cities in the 36 states that allowed the federal government to run their insurance exchange. Some larger cities, including New York and Los Angeles, are in states that created their own insurance marketplaces.
More than half of the enrollees (55 percent) are women and nearly 1 in 3 enrollees in January were younger than 35.
Planned Parenthood Southeastern Pennsylvania's CEO, Dayle Steinberg, said, "These numbers are not surprising, given the law's protections and benefits for women.
"That's why Planned Parenthood Southeastern Pennsylvania is working to ensure that our patients and the communities we serve understand what they are eligible to receive."
The Kirk-Menendez bill started out as a bipartisan effort to increase pressure on Iran. It was introduced in December with 13 Democratic and 13 Republican cosponsors, amidst concerns that the clock was ticking and the interim agreement with Iran had not yet been implemented.
But once the interim agreement took effect, and after the administration shared more details about the plan, support for a vote on Kirk-Menendez began to evaporate, especially among Democrats. It began to look less like a bipartisan effort to do the right thing and more like a vehicle for Republicans to drive a wedge between pro-Israel Democrats and President Obama.
The bottom finally fell out on Thursday, when Senator Mark Kirk (R-IL) and 41 other Republican senators sent a letter demanding a vote. Senator Robert Menendez (D-NJ), the bill's co-author, responded by warning against making the bill a partisan issue.
The American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC) released a statement saying that, "We agree with the Chairman [Sen. Menendez] that stopping the Iranian nuclear program should rest on bipartisan support and that there should not be a vote at this time on the measure."
For decades, Abe Foxman has been a tireless voice against anti-Semitism and prejudice in all of its forms, always calling us to reject hatred and embrace our common humanity.
Michelle and I wish him well as he prepares to leave the leadership of the Anti-Defamation League — an organization that he built, and led with such passion and persistence. Abe is irreplaceable, but the causes that he has dedicated his life to will continue to inspire people in the United States, Israel, and around the world.
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