(DEBKA) American-Israeli professors Arieh Rarshel and Michael Levitt, and their Jewish American colleague Prof. Martin Karplus, were awarded the Nobel Prize for the development of multiscale models for complex chemical systems, at a ceremony today in Stockholm, Sweden.
— by Yaron Sideman, consul general of Israel, Mid-Atlantic Region
It was his ability to transform his country's culture of animosity into a culture of acceptance, and to replace an entrenched ethos of hatred with one of tolerance which made Nelson Mandela the great man that he was. Few leaders are capable of making that personal journey, let alone successfully leading their people through it.
I wish there were more leaders like Mandela in the Middle East. In particular, I wish that the Palestinian Authority (PA) leadership would take a page from the Mandela playbook and realize that the time has come to jettison its culture of hatred and to embrace one of acceptance. How else can any effort towards peace succeed?
An aphid infestation which threatens the sabra fruit and cacti, national symbols of Israel, has been discovered in the Hula Valley located in the northern part of the country. A team of researchers from Jewish National Fund, Plant Protection Services in the Ministry of Agriculture, and the Department of Entomology at the Volcani Center in Beit Dagan is working hard to find ways to rid the cacti of these aphids.
Speaker of the Knesset Yuli Edelstein participated in a special Hanukkah candle-lighting ceremony for the sixth night of Hanukkah, together with several Cabinet Ministers and Members of Knesset. The ceremony was also attended by 60 Lone Soldiers, arranged by Nefesh B'Nefesh, Friends of the IDF (FIDF), Tzofim Garin Tzabar, and Ha'aguda Lema'an Hachayal (The Association for the Welfare of Soldiers).
Temple Sinai will be hosting a very special ecumenical event Tuesday, December 10 at 7pm celebrating our relationship with Israel. Hear from our Governor Tom Corbett as well as local religious and political leaders including:
Bishop Shawn Bartley of True United Church,
Rabbi Saul Grife of Beth Tikvah-Bnei Jeshrun,
Montgomery County Commissioner Josh Shapiro,
Dr. Jim Showers and Reverend William Sutter from Friends of Israel,
Consul General of Israel to the Mid-Atlantic Region Yaron Sideman,
After decades of being excluded from all of the UN Human Rights Council's regional groups in Geneva, Israel will be formally invited to join the Western group on Monday. This is a historic, milestone victory for the cause of equality, a memorable step forward in the long struggle ahead against injustice at the United Nations. UN Watch salutes Israel on its diplomatic achievement, and expresses special gratitude to Canada, the UK, France, Germany and the US for playing a key role in ending one form of bias within the pattern and practice of anti-Israel prejudice at the UN.
— by Rep. Brad Sherman (D-Sherman Oaks, California)
Despite many positive elements, the deal reached in Geneva has a significant flaw: It allows Iran to continue to enrich uranium up to a level of 3.5%-5%, as long as it converts this from gas to uranium oxide metal.
Six months from now, Iran will have its current stock of gaseous 3.5% enriched uranium and an additional stockpile of 3.5% enriched uranium oxide, which it could convert back to gas relatively easily.
The United States negotiators in Geneva would have been in a much better position had Congress passed and the President signed the Nuclear Iran Prevention Act earlier this year. The more penalties and the more significant impact on Iran's economy, the more concessions they could have secured.
The White House released a fact sheet detailing the specifics of the agreement with Iran, and these are the key points:
In the past, the concern has been expressed that Iran will use negotiations to buy time to advance their program. Taken together, these first step measures will help prevent Iran from using the cover of negotiations to continue advancing its nuclear program as we seek to negotiate a long-term, comprehensive solution that addresses all of the international community's concerns.
Without this phased agreement, Iran could start spinning thousands of additional centrifuges. It could install and spin next-generation centrifuges that will reduce its breakout times. It could fuel and commission the Arak heavy water reactor. It could grow its stockpile of 20% enriched uranium to beyond the threshold for a bomb's worth of uranium. Iran can do none of these things under the conditions of the first step understanding.
Furthermore, without this phased approach, the international sanctions coalition would begin to fray because Iran would make the case to the world that it was serious about a diplomatic solution and we were not. We would be unable to bring partners along to do the crucial work of enforcing our sanctions. With this first step, we stop and begin to roll back Iran's program and give Iran a sharp choice: fulfill its commitments and negotiate in good faith to a final deal, or the entire international community will respond with even more isolation and pressure.
The question is not whether Iran poses an existential threat to Israel (it does), whether Iran is a terrorist state (it is), whether a nuclear-armed Iran would spark a nuclear arms race in the Middle East (it would), whether a nuclear-armed Iran would destabilize the region and damage U.S. national security interests (it would), or whether Iran can be trusted (it cannot — that is why verification is key).
I recall sometimes going directly from morning services to the polling station on election day. On election day, we recite the Psalm for Tuesday (מזמור שֶׁל יוֹם שלישי) — Psalm 82, which praises G-d who "pronounces judgement over judges."
The irony is palpable as I am then compelled to pass judgement on Pennsylvania's judges, and vote on who will be retained as judge and who will pass on to retirement (a veritable judicial ונתנה תוקף).
Most voters are probably like me, without legal training and with no familiarity with any of these judges. In fact, as State Rep. Brian Sims mentioned, the single most determinant factor in predicting the winner of a judicial election is the ballot placement:
It's time to remove partisan politics and campaign contributions from selecting our judiciary and implement a merit-based system for choosing Pennsylvania's statewide judges. As you can see from the folks backing this effort, merit selection transcends party lines and geographical divides and pursues just one, clear goal: placing the most qualified and competent jurists in the courtroom.
Do we want our judges picked by the luck of the draw? And do we really want our judges pandering to special interests in order to raise campaign money and create a public name for themselves?
I would rather have judges who interpret the law fairly and protect the rights of minorities against the vagaries of whim of the majority.
The "forgotten refugees" of the Arab-Israel conflict — Jews forced from their homes in Arab countries — will gain a hearing at the United Nations Building in New York tomorrow, at a conference named "The Untold Story of the Middle East: Justice for Jewish Refugees from Arab Countries."
The conference will urge that American and international diplomacy recognize the rights of the Middle East's Jewish refugees on an equal footing with those of other refugees in the region, including Palestinian Arabs — an especially salient topic given ongoing Israeli-Palestinian negotiations.
The conference will be convened by Israel's Mission to the United Nations, the World Jewish Congress (WJC) and the Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations and Justice for Jews from Arab Countries.
"The world has long recognized the Palestinian refugee problem, but without recognizing the other side of the story — the 850,000 Jewish refugees of Arab countries," president of WJC, Ronald S. Lauder, said.
A bill to bring merit selection of appellate judges to Pennsylvania has been submitted in the State House of Representatives with a bipartisan sponsorship this week.
Pennsylvania State Representatives Bryan Cutler (R-Lancaster County) and Brian Sims (D-Philadelphia) introduced the bill, which received immediate support from Pennsylvania's current governor Tom Corbett (R) and previous two governors, Ed Rendell (D) and Tom Ridge (R), as well as the League of Women Voters and Pennsylvanians for Modern Courts.
The sociological and religious challenges to the continued existence of the American Jewish community as we know it were discussed last week in a symposium called "Creating a Modern Jewish Community," at Congregation Adath Jeshurun (AJ) in Philadelphia.
The symposium featured three well known Jewish scholars: Steven M. Cohen, Ph.D., of Hebrew Union College, Rabbi Bradley Shavit Artson of the American Jewish University at Los Angeles, and Rabbi Sharon Brous, founder of IKAR, a progressive egalitarian congregation in Los Angeles that has achieved a following among the youthful demographic that has drifted from the traditional institutions.
An audience of several hundreds attended the lecture, that was followed by a panel discussion.
I have long believed that civil rights cannot be a one party issue.
Senator Casey (D-PA) has supported LGBT civil rights from nondiscrimination to marriage equality, and I was proud to see him continue to demonstrate that support last night.
I am especially proud of Senator Toomey (R-PA), who last night confirmed to Americans across the nation that civil rights is not an issue of right and left, but an issue of right and wrong. Senator Toomey's vote in support of the Employment Non-Discrimination Act (ENDA) shows that a conservative ideology and support for LGBT equality are not mutually exclusive.
While I am heartened and invigorated by last night's vote, we still have a long way to go in fulfilling our national creed, that we are all created equal and endowed with the inalienable rights of life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.
Sexual orientation & gender identity: all employment
Sexual orientation: all employment
Sexual orientation & gender identity: state employment
Sexual orientation: state employment
No state-level protection for LGBT employees.
In Pennsylvania, unless you are a public employee, you can be fired solely on the basis of being gay, lesbian or transgender.
The Civil Rights Act of 1964 ended discrimination in the workplace based on race, color, religion, sex and national origin, but there is still no such federal protection for lesbian, gay and transgender people.
Today, it remains legal in 29 states to refuse to hire or promote someone, or to demote or fire them, just because they are gay, and in 33 states to do so if someone is transgender.
The Employment Non-Discrimination Act (ENDA) would put an end to such discrimination. Majority Leader Harry Reid has committed to bringing ENDA (S. 815) to the Senate floor for a vote before Thanksgiving — the bill's first full Senate vote since 1996. The corresponding House Bill (HR 1755) was referred to the Subcommittee on Workforce Protections last July.
Momentum for ENDA is growing by the day. As people of faith, and as Americans, we must ensure passage of this crucial legislation.
It is easy for us to say, in the safety and comfort of America, that Iran's leaders do not literally mean what they say or that Iran will behave rationally. Israel cannot take that chance.
— by Steve Sheffey
A nuclear Iran would destabilize the Middle East and threaten the U.S. and its allies, but for Israel, a nuclear Iran would be an existential threat that it cannot allow.
There is no question that Iran intends to acquire nuclear weapons. A few years ago, Yossi Klein Halevi and Michael Oren wrote an article citing French philosopher Andre Glucksmann's observation:
... by threatening to destroy Israel and by attaining the means to do so, Iran violates the twin taboos on which the post-World War II order was built: never again Auschwitz; never again Hiroshima.
The international community now has an opportunity to uphold that order. If it fails, then Israel will have no choice but to uphold its role as refuge of the Jewish people. A Jewish state that allows itself to be threatened with nuclear weapons... will forfeit its right to speak in the name of Jewish history.
Voters no longer choose their politicians; instead, politicians choose their voters when they draw the district lines. I have been leading the fight to take the politics out of redistricting.
Redistricting has become a tool used by legislative leaders to ensure that elections are never competitive. As you know, the constitution requires that political boundaries are redrawn every 10 years to reflect population shifts. In recent years, politicians of both parties have become increasingly blatant about drawing these lines to ensure that there are as few genuinely competitive districts as possible. As a result, 95 percent of us live in districts where our vote essentially does not count because those who drew the lines have already decided which party will win.
Mazowiecki served as the prime minister of Poland after the fall of Communism from 1989 to 1991.
— by Ronald S. Lauder, president of the World Jewish Congress
Tadeusz Mazowiecki was one of the architects of the modern, democratic Poland and a friend of Israel and the Jewish people.
The Jews are grateful to Tadeusz Mazowiecki for his staunch defense of their rights as Poland emerged from communism, and for his help in resolving the crisis of the Carmelite convent on the grounds of Auschwitz in the early 1990s. He will also be remembered for speaking out against anti-Semitism clearly and unequivocally and exposing war crimes as special rapporteur for human rights in the former Yugoslavia. May his memory be for a blessing.
Israel has decided to return to the U.N. Human Rights Council (HRC) — a 47-nation body that in two weeks will welcome back China, Cuba, Russia and Saudi Arabia as members — in time for a scheduled review of the Jewish state's record this Tuesday.
Now is the time for the council to show good faith on its part — starting with the removal of its notorious agenda item on Israel, the only provision of its kind focusing on a specific country at every meeting. Not even gross abusers like China, Sudan, or Syria, nor any other country in the world, is subjected to this kind of treatment.
The Israel-only agenda was criticized by the U.N. secretary general, Ban Ki-moon, upon its adoption in June 2007. Mr. Ban "voiced disappointment at the Council decision to single out Israel as the only specific regional item on its agenda, given the range and scope of allegations of human rights violations throughout the world."
Left to right: Lt. Gen. (Res.) Gabi Ashkenazi, executive director of the FIDF Pennsylvania & Southern N.J. region, Tzvia Wexler, and Ambassador Ron Prosor in last year's national FIDF gala, New York.
Local Holocaust survivors and their families will be honored at this year's Annual Pennsylvania and Southern New Jersey Friends of the Israeli Defense Forces (FIDF) Gala.
The gala will take place at 6 p.m. Monday, November 18, 2013 at Vie, 600 North Broad Street, Philadelphia. Tickets can be purchased at the gala's website. Holocaust survivors who wish to take part may contact FIDF Pennsylvania and Southern N.J. executive director, Tzvia Wexler.
The theme of this year's Gala is "From Holocaust to Independence," and it will celebrate Israel's 65 years of existence by saluting the survivors and remembering the struggles they overcame to build new lives, providing a future for the next generation.
Former chief of the IDF general staff, Lt. General (Res.) Gabi Ashkenazi, will deliver an exclusive Keynote address.
In conjunction with National Breast Cancer Awareness Month, Joyce Kirschner and Ted Eisenberg will be signing their book The Scoop on Breasts: A Plastic Surgeon Busts the Myths at Barnes & Noble Rittenhouse Square (Wednesday, Oct. 16 from 5 p.m.) and at the Neshaminy Mall store (Wednesday, Oct. 23 from 5 p.m.).
Kirschner lost her mother to breast cancer when she was 8. That was in the early 1960s, well before mammograms, chemotherapy and genetic testing were routine. In 1973, she married Eisenberg, who later became a plastic and reconstructive surgeon, a decision inspired in part by Joyce's early loss.
Since then, Eisenberg has taken care of more than 5,000 women, and the process always starts with an evaluation of breast health and a mammogram, if indicated. "The importance of breast health is a conversation everyone should be having, and it is an issue that's long been on my mind," he said.
Whether women are having breast augmentation, lift, reduction or reconstructive surgery, they want to look feminine, natural and proportional. They want their clothes to fit better. They also want their breasts to be symmetrical, but symmetry is a myth. Breasts are sisters, not twins.
The U.S. had no qualms about providing aid to Egypt during the repressive reign of Hosnai Mubarak. We continued aid to Egypt when the Muslim Brotherhood won a democratic election, and even after it was clear that the Muslim Brotherhood was oppressing its people. Then the Egyptian military took over. And now we cut aid?
Some have argued that the military might have been doing the will of the people by removing the Brotherhood, and there is no question that Egypt's opposition to Hamas and other radical groups helps the U.S. and Israel.
Jeff Goldberg, who thinks reducing aid to Egypt is a mistake, is concerned that cutbacks in aid to Egypt could upset American allies who share the same adversaries as Egypt (Shia radicalism, the Muslim Brotherhood, and Sunni extremism), relieve pressure on Hamas and thereby hinder the Israel-Palestinian peace process, and re-energize Islamic extremists.
But Goldberg also points out that a cutoff "may be a moral necessity:"
The Egyptian military seems unwilling to use tear gas on demonstrators when the opportunity to shoot opponents in the head presents itself, and it did, in fact, initiate a coup in July against a democratically elected government (albeit one that governed undemocratically and was the target of popular rage).
If you plant pumpkins in your garden, this is the time of year that they all ripen. What to do with all of them?
Once you cut a pumpkin open, you need to use it pretty quickly, because it will not keep fresh for long. The best thing to do is invite your friends and family to dinner and make sweet and spicy roasted pumpkin.
So you recently graduated, and are now looking to land a job in your field. But how do you know if the job you are pursuing is right for you?
I have experience with many young professionals that were attracted to the fantasy of a certain career because of a title or label (i.e. engineer, accountant or manager), but they never took the time to really understand what is actually involved in being successful in that career.
Obama's meeting with Israeli PM Netanyahu, last week.
— by Steve Sheffey
President Obama remains committed to ensuring that Iran does not acquire nuclear weapons.
As Moshe Dayan said, "If you want to make peace, you don't talk to your friends. You talk to your enemies." That is why President Obama is talking to Iranian President Rouhani. The purpose of economic sanctions against Iran has been to force a diplomatic solution — talking to Iran was always the preferred end-game.
Last week, President Obama said:
Because of the extraordinary sanctions that we have been able to put in place over the last several years, the Iranians are now prepared, it appears, to negotiate. We have to test diplomacy. We have to see if, in fact, they are serious about their willingness to abide by international norms and international law and international requirements and resolutions. And we in good faith will approach them, indicating that it is our preference to resolve these issues diplomatically.
Rabbi Jack Moline and Rabbi Dara Frimmer at 2011 USDA Seder. Photo: Mike Theiler.
— by Elanna Cahn
Rabbi Jack Moline, 61, was appointed as the new National Jewish Democratic council (NJDC) executive director. Moline replaces David A. Harris, who left last February.
"It's a great opportunity and a chance to leave my mark in a different way on the American Jewish community," he said. "My path into Jewish life had as much to do with activism as it did with religious commitment."
As a religious leader, Moline has been to numerous official White House meetings, mostly as director of public policy for the Conservative movement's Rabbinical Assembly, a position he held from 2009 until May. He has met both has met both Former President George W. Bush and President Barack Obama.
Marc Stanley, chair of the NJDC board of directors, said:
Rabbi Moline brings a wide and exciting range of abilities and experience to NJDC. His work as national co-chair of Rabbis for Obama, and coordinator of public policy for the Conservative movement, coupled with his interfaith expertise, and teaching and facilitating skills, make him a terrific leader for the NJDC moving ahead.
B'nai B'rith International (BBI) condemned the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe for passing a resolution that declares ritual circumcision a "violation of children's physical integrity."
The resolution calls upon member states to "adopt specific legal provisions to ensure that certain operations and practices will not be carried out before a child is old enough to be consulted." While non-binding, the resolution could encourage a frightening infringement upon basic religious freedoms and on the ability of Jewish and other faith communities in Europe to exist.
"By advancing this resolution, the Council of Europe has not proposed the advancement of human rights, but rather the denial of rights," B'nai B'rith International President Allan J. Jacobs said.
(DEBKA) A statement issued yesterday by the Revolutionary Guards of Iran rejected reports that the head of the country's cyber warfare program, Mojtaba Ahmadi, was assassinated.
The Guards said they were investigating the circumstances of his death and the motives of his attacker or attackers. Ahmadi, last seen leaving his home for work Saturday, was found dead with two bullets in his heart in a wooded area near Karaz, northwest of Tehran. The local police chief said two people on a motorbike were involved in the shooting. The Guards statement does not deny that Ahmadi was attacked, only leaves its motive open.
National Museum of American Jewish History. Photo: Jeff Goldberg.
— by Ilana Blumenthal
As a private, non-profit institution located on Independence Mall in Philadelphia, the National Museum of American Jewish History will remain open during the federal government shutdown.
The museum will offer "pay-what-you-wish" admission during the duration of the shutdown. The museum will operate under its regularly-scheduled hours; all events taking place at the museum will continue as scheduled.
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