Friday, February 25, 2011

The Middle East in Transition 2011: Statements by Israeli Leaders

We all want to see the success of freedom and democracy in the Arab world. We do not want to see it usurped by an even greater despotism, one that would trample all human rights. -- Israel Ministry of Foreign Affairs

To read the statements by Israel leaders, click here.

Pastor's Reality Food Show Pitch: Christians and Jews Bonding over Hot Dogs

It was the hot dogs that broke down religious barriers.

Megachurch pastor Phil Hotsenpiller and his wife, Tammy, invited their Muslim, Jewish and Buddhist neighbors over to their Southern California home for an interfaith, multicultural meal.

But not just any meal: This one was being filmed as a pilot for a reality TV show based on Tammy Hotsenpiller’s book, “Taste of Humanity" – which she described as an attempt to “bring cultures together through cuisine.”

“I had everyone bring something from their country,” Tammy Hotsenpiller recalled, “and I thought, ‘Well what is America known for? I mean, apple pie and hot dogs.’ So I brought apple pie and hot dogs. We did a hot dog bar with all the condiments and everything else."...

“And the first thing [our guests] asked was, ‘Was it kosher? Are they beef? Are they pork?’
-- Gabe LaMonica, CNN

To read the complete article, click here.

Kosher Beef Between Two Rappers

Is Drake in the midst of a kosher beef with Matisyahu?
Forget the war of words between 50 Cent and Dr. Dre, and even Lil' Kim and Nicki Minaj — a new rap feud is about to begin between Jewish musicians Drake and Matisyahu.

In a new interview with TMZ, reggae rapper Matisyahu disses Drake as not being true to his roots.
"He's Jewish, but he's not representing Judaism," says the artist formerly known as Matthew Paul Miller.
-- Mark Marino, Special to CNN

To read the complete article, click here.

Send in Clowns to Boost IVF Success?

Small Israeli study suggests laughter may help women trying to become pregnant through in-vitro fertilization. 'It's one of the least hazardous interventions in our field,' says researcher 

Women who'd had a laugh
were more than twice as
likely to become pregnant
Photo: Index Open
Laughter may not be the best medicine, but it might help women who are trying to become pregnant through in-vitro fertilization (IVF), a small study suggests.
In a study of 219 women undergoing IVF, Israeli researchers found the odds of success were greater among women who were entertained by a professional "medical clown" right after they had the embryos implanted in the womb. 

Overall, 36% became pregnant, versus 20% of women who'd had a comedy-free recovery after embryo implantation.
-- Reuters, via YNet News

To read the complete article, click here. 

Israelis Provide Rare Coverage of Egyp

For the first time ever, Israeli press corps given opportunity to cover crisis in Arab world on the ground, painting opposite picture of threatening predictions provided by commentators 

Israeli journalists
"saw democratic processes happening'"
Photo: AP
Israel's historic peace treaty with Egypt provided an unexpected dividend: For the first time ever, the Israeli press corps was able to cover a crisis in the Arab world on the ground.

Many of these first-hand accounts of the revolt that toppled longtime Egyptian leader Hosni Mubarak focused on the protesters' calls for freedom. It was a sharp contrast to politicians in Israel, who tended to support Mubarak and warned the upheaval might endanger the frosty peace between the two nations.
-- Associated Press via YNet News

To read the complete story, click here.

Booming Housing Market in Israel Stokes Fears of Bubble

A luxury skyscaper near completion in central Tel Aviv, where prices are skyrocketing. (Dina Kraft)
 Soon after Leora’s second child was born and she and her husband began looking for a larger home, Israel's new real estate reality smacked them in the face.

Though the couple had bought a two-bedroom apartment in Tel Aviv six years earlier that had appreciated to $650,000, more than triple what they paid, they still found themselves priced out of the local market. One apartment in a basement underneath a parking lot was listed at $468,000.

They are now planning to move to the coastal town of Pardes Hanna, about an hour's drive north of Tel Aviv, where prices also have climbed significantly but where they can still find a house with a garden for the same price as the apartments they saw in Tel Aviv. -- Dina Kraft, JTA

To read the complete article, click here.

Op-Ed: Iran and Egypt: The Story of Two Uprisings

Abraham Foxman,
Anti-Defamation League

Disjunctions between public statements and actions of government officials are the stuff that provides material for commentators and comedians.  Rarely, however, has there been such a gap as we have witnessed coming out of Tehran in recent days.
First came Ayatollah Khamenei’s declaration hailing the triumph of the protesters in Egypt as a forerunner of the triumph of Islam in the region.  Then, when the demonstrations spread to Iran, the regime reacted with its usual intimidation and brutality, rejecting the very people power they had just applauded.
If ever there was a moment that exposed the bankruptcy of the Islamic regime, this was it.
The question remains: How can we in the West be helpful in bringing about change in Iran? --Abraham Foxman, Jerusalem Post

UC Berkeley School of Law to Expand Jewish, Israel Studies

The University of California, Berkeley, School of Law is expanding its Jewish and Israel studies offerings with the launch of a new institute.

The Berkeley Institute for Jewish Law and Israeli Law, Economy and Society, funded by a $750,000 seed gift from The Rosalinde and Arthur Gilbert Foundation, is an interdisciplinary initiative including faculty and student research, new course offerings, speakers and symposia, and collaboration with Israeli universities and academics. It will offer separate programs in Jewish law, and in Israeli law, economy and society.

Christopher Edley, dean of the law school, said in a news release that the institute “builds on the law school’s historic strengths in religious law. It also capitalizes on our cross-disciplinary and comparative approach to law and society and our longstanding collaborations with Israeli scholars and academic institutions.”

One of the institute’s upcoming projects will be the university’s first campus-wide conference on Israel as a high-tech nation, proposed as an annual event.

A formal launch event featuring former Israeli Supreme Court Justice Dalia Dorner as keynote speaker is planned for April 6.

Thursday, February 24, 2011

Demand for Birthright-Taglit Hits New High in N. America

Organization receives over 40,000 applications for 10-day trip to Israel, hopes to bring 33,000 young adults to country in 2011.

A record-breaking number of North American applicants signed up to take part in Birthright-Taglit this year, according to data released by the organization on Wednesday.

The program, which brings young Jewish adults from the Diaspora to Israel on free, 10-day educational tours of the country, said it received 40,108 applications during the seven-day registration period which ended on Tuesday.

Calling it “the most successful project in the Jewish world,” Israel’s Minister of Public Diplomacy and Diaspora Affairs Yuli Edelstein, who serves as chairman of Birthright-Taglit’s steering committee, hailed the new application figures. “We see Taglit-Birthright Israel turning into a real rite of passage for a majority of young Jews worldwide and we hope many more thousands will come to Israel.”
-- Gil Shefler, Jerusalem Post

Gaza Police Order Male Hairdressers to Quit Working

Five men face arrest and fines if they carry on styling women's hair in crackdown blamed on Hamas

Hatem Ghoul's Gaza hair salon, from which he has been banned from working.
Photograph: Harriet Sherwood for the Guardian
Hatem Ghoul was on his way to work at his hairdressing salon in Gaza City earlier this week when he got word that his employees had been paid a visit by the police.

They had left a message for Ghoul: could he drop by the police station; there was something they wanted to discuss. And, it turned out, not just him. The other four male hairdressers in the city had similar requests.

Ghoul had been expecting this for almost a year, since reports that Hamas was cracking down on men cutting and styling women's hair. But Ghoul and his male colleagues in Gaza City continued to work, and no one stopped them.

This week he was left in no doubt. One by one, he told me, the men were called into a room where an unrelated detainee was chained to a wall by his wrists, and told to sign a pledge to give up their profession or face arrest and a 20,000 shekel (£3,400) fine. -- Harriet Sherwood,

To read the complete article, click here.

Rahm Emanuel Elected Mayor of Chicago

Former White House Chief of Staff Rahm Emanuel was elected mayor of Chicago.

Emanuel garnered 55 percent of the vote in a five-way race on Tuesday, becoming the city's first Jewish mayor.

The election was the first time in 20 years that incumbent Mayor Richard Daley did not appear on the ballot.

Because Emanuel received more than 50 percent of the vote, he will become mayor without the need for a runoff election in April.

Emanuel, 51, resigned in October 2010 as President Obama's chief of staff in order to run for mayor. He also worked in the Clinton White House and is a former congressman from Chicago's North Side.

A Hebrew speaker, Emanuel is the son of an Israeli doctor who moved to the United States in the 1950s.
President Obama called Emanuel on Tuesday evening to congratulate him, reportedly saying, “As a Chicagoan and a friend, I couldn’t be prouder.”

Emanuel faced a residency challenge during the campaign because he did not live in Chicago for a full year before the election; his candidacy was upheld by the Illinois Supreme Court.

Anti-Semitism also reared its head during the campaign, in remarks by fellow candidates and in flyers distributed on a train line that runs through the city. -- JTA

Montreal City Council Condemns Boycott of Israeli Shoes

Beautifeel Prague
made in Israel
Montreal's city council has condemned the boycott campaign against a local shoe store that sells footwear made in Israel.

A council motion deploring the campaign, proposed and supported by Mayor Gerard Tremblay, passed Tuesday by a vote of 38 to 16.

Those voting against the resolution said they would not support a motion denying protesters the right of free speech and expression.

The boycott of the le Marcheur store, which sells the Israeli-made Beautifeel line of women's shoes, was launched last fall by the group Palestinian and Jewish Unity and supported by other activists as part of a worldwide boycott, divestment and sanctions campaign against Israel.

Amir Khadir, an Iranian-born member of the provincial National Assembly, joined calls for a boycott of the store in December.

Since Khadir's appearance, federal politicians have spoken out to defend the shop's owner. One lawmaker even bought a pair of Beautifeel shoes.

Meanwhile, members of Montreal's Jewish community have launched a "buycott" campaign encouraging shoppers to patronize le Marcheur. -- JTA

Pub Landlord to Offer Mikveh Water

From website of Adas Israel, Washington, DC
A pub landlord has applied for a licence to sell water from what is believed to be Britain's oldest mikveh site.

Martin Hughes and his business partners have asked the Environment Agency for a licence to extract 15 million litres of water a year from Jacob's Well in Hotwells, near Bristol.

Mr Hughes bought the Hope and Anchor pub opposite the well 15 years ago without realising its historical significance....

The Jewish community in Bristol dates back to 1188 and it is believed the mikveh was established around that time.

It was a fire station in the 1800s and in the 1970s was used by a water bottling production company....

The well was rediscovered in 1987 when the Temple Local History Group was given permission to investigate the site and removed a wall, revealing a springhead with a chamber and two stone steps.

A Hebrew inscription, believed to read "flowing", was discovered on the stone lintel over the entrance, suggesting it had been a medieval mikveh. -- Robyn Rosen, Jewish Chronicle OnLine

To read the complete article, click here.

Sharansky: More Converts Should Be Able to Immigrate

Photo by: Ariel Jerozolimski
Sharansky recommends that Agency advise ministry on validity of immigrant's status.

In an effort to curb the trend of Orthodox converts from abroad not being recognized by Israel for citizenship, the Jewish Agency on Tuesday appealed the Interior Ministry for a more dominant role in identifying established Diaspora communities as such.

A resolution passed on Tuesday by the agency’s board of governors called on the government “to confirm the role of the Jewish Agency as a body directed to ascertain, through inquiry with appropriate parties in the relevant country, that the party confirming the Jewish eligibility of a prospective oleh for the purposes of aliya is qualified to do so.”

Jewish Agency chairman Natan Sharansky said the resolution does not seek to establish the Jewish Agency as the judge of who is a rabbi, nor to sway the rabbinate’s positions on the halachic validity of conversions being conducted abroad. -- Jonah Mandel, Jerusalem Post

To read the complete article, click here.

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

New Zealand Quake Kills Israeli, Destroys Chabad House

The major earthquake that struck Christchurch, New Zealand
killed dozens and turned buildings to rubble, Feb. 22, 2011.
(Jehuda Nitke /
For the Jewish community, the devastating earthquake that hit New Zealand struck close to home.
An Israeli backpacker is believed to be among the 65 people killed in Tuesday's quake, and the destruction in Christchurch on the country's South Island included the city's Chabad house.

Another Christchurch synagogue reportedly suffered damage but was not destroyed.  -- Dan Goldberg, JTA

To read the complete article, click here.

Celebrity Bra Auction Supports Jewish Center

Dame Judi Dench
Photo: Getty Images Bank
Dame Judi Dench, Joanna Lumley, and Isla Fischer are just a few celebrities who have decorated bras to help raise money for a new Jewish center in London.

The bras are being sold in an online auction until the end of February. More than 40 women are participating, each designing a bra expressing their personal style.

The Big Bra Auction, as it’s been called, will share its earnings between breast cancer charity Cancerkin and a new Jewish center planned for 2013 on Finchley Road in northwest London. -- Ashley Baylen, YNet News

Bra by Dame Judi Dench

Airline Apologizes for Offering Pork on Flight from Israel to London

Budget airline EasyJet said an error resulted in pork products being served on a flight from Tel Aviv to London.

A United Kingdom budget airline has apologized to its Jewish customers after it served them ham and bacon baguettes instead of the standard kosher food.

EasyJet said it made the mistake on a flight from Israel to London. -- Nicky Robertson, CNN

To read the complete article, click here.

Chilean Miners Arrive for "Pilgrimage of Thanks"

Photo by: Associated Press
Survivors of mine collapse to arrive in Israel today, visit Via Dolorosa, King David's Tomb as guests of Tourism Ministry.

On Wednesday [Feb. 23], Israel will welcome 31 of the 33 Chilean miners who were trapped underground for 68 days last fall.

The miners, accompanied by their wives and girlfriends, will be in the country for an eight-day pilgrimage, a tour that will include visits to Christian sites like Via Dolorosa, Capernaum, the Church of the Holy Sepulcher and King David’s Tomb.

The Tourism Ministry sent a letter to the miners days after they were rescued, inviting them to visit as guests of the state. 
-- Melanie Lidman, Jerusalem Post

To view the complete article, click here.

Wine Talk: Royal Selection

Some good new kosher imports make it even more Challenging to choose the best wine for Shabbat dinner.

Royal Wine Corporation, owned by the Herzog family, is the largest importer and distributor of kosher wines in the world. If Carmel Winery is the largest producer of kosher wines, Royal is the most international of all producers, producing kosher wines from all over the world. Wineries like Hagafen from California, and Golan Heights from Israel, may each claim to have contributed to the change of habits of the kosher consumer from sweet kiddush wines to dry or semi dry table wines.

However, it is arguably Royal Wine that has played the major role in the kosher revolution in the United States.

The company portfolio covers the full spectrum of kosher wine from the seriously high quality wines produced by California’s Herzog Wine Cellars to the liquid religion wines of Kedem Winery, from Upstate New York. 
-- Adam Montefiore, Jerusalem Post

To read the complete article and to view a related video, click here.

It's Time for a Corporate Women's Uprising

You've heard the phrase, "If you want something done, you have to do it yourself." If this is true, then it is time for women to rise up together and demand a change in our corporate leadership. What will it take for women to stage an effective uprising against the traditional male power structures in corporations?

The time for change feels ripe. There is a tidal wave of community activism going on. Some will lead to important dialogues, others are toppling governments, while others will unfortunately lead to the powerful silencing the many. Yet transformation seems to be in the air, both in our institutions and in our own restless spirit yearning for deeper meaning and more significant acknowledgment of our needs and dreams.

These movements begin with a spark of anger -- the moment one person feels that enough is enough and their actions call on and electrify those who have also been abused, held back or denied what they feel are their human rights. The energy empowers the group to rise up. The fervor for change fuels their outcry. Small and large, the movements are happening around us and within us, impacting every part of our civilization.  -- Marcia Reynolds, Huffington Post

To read the complete article, click here.

Women's Rights a Strong Point in Tunisia

At the height of the Egyptian uprising, protesters drew encouragement and practical advice from Tunisian tweets and Facebook messages: “We did it, you can do it, too!” read one. Another advised: “Put vinegar or onion under your scarf for tear gas.”

Long dismissed in the Arab world as a neutered, pro-Western, Frenchified country, not to mention small, Tunisia now stands tall, many of its 10 million people proud that their revolution became an example for other countries.

But there is another source of Tunisian wisdom that may hold inspiration for at least half the populations across North Africa and the Middle East: a long tradition of women’s rights that goes well beyond anything else in the region.

Women have been more visible than ever before in the discontent rippling across the Arab world. As unrest spreads to places like Iran, where women can still be stoned to death for adultery, and Bahrain, just across the bridge from Saudi Arabia, where they are still not allowed to drive, let alone vote, the female factor in this new Arab dawn may yet prove to be one of the most powerful and fundamental ones in reshaping the region.

Khadija Cherif, secretary general of the International Federation of Human Rights and a former president of the Tunisian Association of Democratic Women, puts it this way: “Arab women have the most to gain from a new century of Arab enlightenment.”-- Katrin Benhold, NY Times

Click here to read the complete article.

Bahrain’s Jewish Envoy to Washington Stays Mum

Ambassador Houda Ezra Nonoo
Houda Ezra Nonoo, a Bahraini of Iraqi descent representing an embattled Sunni dynasty, is first Jewish ambassador of an Arab state

Houda Ezra Nonoo is a Bahraini of Iraqi descent representing an embattled Sunni dynasty that has ruled over a Shi’ite majority for centuries.

If those circumstances weren’t loaded enough, Nonoo, Bahrain’s envoy to Washington, is the first Jewish ambassador in the Arab world’s recorded history....

Nonoo, 47, was appointed in 2008, after serving as a legislator in the kingdom’s 40-member lower house of parliament, and previously as the head of a Bahraini human rights organization. Some local media outlets criticized the appointment, saying that as a Jew, Nonoo could have difficulty defending Bahrain’s refusal to recognize Israel. Issues of loyalty to the Jewish state were also raised....

Asked how ambassadors of the other 21 Arab states feel about having a female colleague, and a Jewish one at that, she said, “Yes, I was worried about how I would be received, but it hasn’t caused any problems whatsoever...There is already a female ambassador from Oman, so she set a precedent. I had a welcome dinner from the ambassador of Syria and the ambassador of Iran. My grandparents were Jewish immigrants from Iraq, so the Iraqi ambassador was very interested to learn of my background.”.. 
-- Oren Kessler, JTA

To read the complete article, click here.

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Movie Sparks Memories of Curve Balls and "Having a Catch"

“Jews and Baseball” opened the Atlanta Jewish Film Festival,
billed as the second-largest Jewish film festival in the country
I loved to play baseball as a boy, but any illusions I harbored about making it to the big leagues ended at age 12, when I faced – and watched, the bat not moving – my first curve ball.
That pitch came from the left arm of Ross Baumgarten, a junior high school classmate in a suburb north of Chicago, who went on to pitch for the hometown White Sox and Pittsburgh Pirates.

That curve ball was just one of the memories I recalled as my wife, our 12-year-old son and I watched “Jews and Baseball: An American Love Story,” a film directed by Peter Miller, written by New York Times sportswriter Ira Berkow and narrated by actor Dustin Hoffman.

The movie is touring the country, mostly at Jewish congregations and film festivals, including in Atlanta, where it debuted on opening night....

Hank Greenberg, the first baseman for the Detroit Tigers, hits a home run
in the 5th inning during an April 1938 game against the Chicago White Sox.
Immigrant Jews in the 20th century, many from Eastern European communities where Yiddish was spoken, wanted their children to retain their religious heritage while adopting a new national identity. Playing baseball was one way of achieving this goal.

A handful of those Jewish pros gained prominence over the decades. Two became legends in many Jewish households. -- Dave Schechter, CNN

To read the complete article, click here.

Israelis Develop Bomb-Sniffing Mice

 Herzeliya-based startup BioExplorers now offers mice that may be better than dogs or machines at detecting explosives and other contraband. According to BioExplorers's Web site, its brand of mouse combines "the hyper-sensitive olfactory capability of rodents with the care-free reliability of a hi-tech machine system."

Created by Special Forces veterans and biology-based threat detection experts, the company takes the genetic picks of each litter and optimizes them in a ten-day program, resulting in tiny, trained explosives and narcotics detectors with greater reliability than mechanical sensors.

While canines may still best rodents one-on-one, "multiple sensors"--i.e., a team of mice--can yield superior overall results in one-tenth the time, at far lower cost, according to BioExplorers. And mice can be deployed in situations impractical for dogs, like crowded mass transportation systems or sports arenas. -- Keith Thomson, Huffington Post

To read the complete article and view a related video, click here.

Rugelach King of Harlem Finds Recipe for Success with Jewish Treats

Alvin Lee Smalls shows off a fresh batch of rugelach.
Picture by Debra Pangestu
He's the rugelach king of Harlem.

Alvin Lee Smalls' obsession with the buttery nuggets began more than four decades ago when he stumbled onto a recipe in a newspaper and launched his quest to create his own version of the traditional Jewish treat.

"I didn't really like it," said Smalls, 69, recalling the results of the newspaper recipe. "So I [practiced] ... for about six months and I ended up making it right."

Years later, Smalls' dedication would gain him the devoted following that ultimately saved his livelihood: Lee Lee's Baked Goods on W. 118th St. and Frederick Douglass Blvd. -- Debra Pangestu, NY City News Service, NY Daily News

To read the complete article, click here.

Prof, 99, Shticks to her Guns

MAZEL TOV! Bel Kaufman, 99, will teach a course
on Jewish humor at Hunter College
that in part celebrates her grandfather,
Sholom Aleichem (with baby Bel).
Angel Chevrestt
Sholom Aleichem's Granddaughter to Teach Jewish Humor 

Have you heard the one about the 99-year-old college professor?

Bel Kaufman, Hunter College's newest faculty member who is just shy of her 100th birthday, isn't meshugeneh as she plans to begin teaching a course next month on Jewish humor.

"Six Weeks of Laughter" will look at many Jewish humorists, but will focus on Sholom Aleichem, Kaufman's grandfather, whose short stories inspired "Fiddler on the Roof."

"Jews are oppressed people who have survived by being able to thumb their nose at their own suffering," said Kaufman, sitting in her booklined Upper East Side study crammed with mementos of her grandfather, who used to call her "Belochka." -- Isabel Vincent, NY Post

To read the complete story, click herel

Watering a Thirsty Planet

The desalination plant in Hadera is
the world's largest seawater reverse osmosis plant.
Israel may be a land of milk and honey, but it is not blessed with an abundance of fresh water resources. In fact, the Sea of Galilee is the country's only natural lake and the rivers in Israel are quite modest in scale. Much of the southern half of Israel is desert and receives a meager amount of rainfall. Thus, the need to preserve and develop water resources has accompanied Israel since its formation - and even predated the establishment of the state.

The need for water resources was already a subject of discussion in 1898 when the visionary of the Zionist movement, Theodor Herzl, met with the German emperor in the Holy Land. And in 1937, more than a decade prior to statehood, the Mekorot national water company was created....

Today, the Israeli Ministry of Industry, Trade and Labor lists some 166 water tech enterprises, including 91 companies offering water efficiency solutions, 50 companies specializing in wastewater reuse and desalination, and another 25 offering water control and command systems.
In addition to serving the local market, Israel's water technologies can also be found throughout the world: Israeli water tech exports now total about $1.5 billion annually and the government is seeking to boost this number to $2.5 billion in 2011. -- I.C. Mayer, Israel Ministry of Foreign Affairs

To view complete article and a related video, click here.

Monday, February 21, 2011

Researcher: Consume Soy to Kill Pain

Benefits of soybeans (archives)
Photo: Getty Images Bank
According to top pain researchers, consuming soy can play a vital role in preemptively killing pain.
Yoram Shir, head of the McGill University Health Centre pain clinic, has pioneered rodent studies at universities in both Israel and the United States before coming to McGill.

According to Shir, scientists already know soy is a key player in reducing pain in rats, but they have recently found the analgesic effects were even more remarkable when rats got a soy-rich diet prior to nerve injury. -- ‪‪Bev Spritzer‬‬, Ynet News

To read the complete article, click here.

Forget Switchboards, Haredi Women Can Be Great Engineers

Employees at 3Base. The company offers a Haredi-friendly environment.
Photo by: Nir Keidar
"Giving the Haredim respectable, appropriate jobs will help close social gaps and break the cycle of poverty and hopelessness, but current plans create only the appearance of such processes."

It's 11 A.M. in the religious community of Elad. Rows of ultra-Orthodox female programmers sit in front of their computer screens in 3Base's offices. One has printouts of computer code for the startup Conduit. Another is working on a program for high-tech company Contra. A third woman is talking with the team leader at a third startup.

A total of 85 young Haredi women work as programmers at 3Base, most as subcontracted programmers for well-known Israeli startups....

Mandel, 33; co-CEO Nadav Mansdorf, 31; and Chief Technology Officer Yossi Cohen, 36.
Mansdorf says 3Base is proof that with the right training, Haredi women can be excellent computer engineers who can compete with any programmer in Herzliya or Ra'anana. Most of the company's programmers work with advanced technologies, he says....

Giving the Haredim respectable, appropriate jobs will help close social gaps and break the cycle of poverty and hopelessness, but current plans create only the appearance of such processes, Mansdorf says. -- Guy Grimland, Haaretz

To read the complete article, click here.

Sunday, February 20, 2011

Tel Aviv Broadcast

Holly Wales
It’s just after midnight on Saturday, and I’ve been watching images from the protests in Egypt for hours. The TV is on mute, but the raging faces of Cairo are deafening. I don’t want my son to wake up, and so I turn off the TV and sit down at my computer. My soccer team, Maccabi Petah Tikva, played Ashdod earlier today, and I surf over to Israel’s largest news portal to check the score. On the home page, above the headline reporting Petah Tikva’s solid 3-1 victory, the following item appears: “Palestinian killed in Samaria yesterday. Watch video footage.”

I click on the link. It’s not every day that someone offers you the chance to watch a documented killing. The next page says that cameras at an Israeli observation post caught on video a settler shooting a young Palestinian man, after the Palestinian chased him and threw rocks at him. “Watch the clip.”
My cursor hesitates over the frozen image of a desolate dirt path. Is this a newsworthy artifact or a gratuitous snuff film? -- Etgar Keret, translated from the Hebrew by by Jessica Cohen, NY Times Magazine

To read the complete article, click here.

Op-Ed: Why We Need Women in War Zones

Kim Barker, a reporter for
the investigative journalism
Web site ProPublica, is the author of
the forthcoming memoir
The Taliban Shuffle:
Strange Days in Afghanistan and Pakistan.
Thousands of men blocked the road, surrounding the S.U.V. of the chief justice of Pakistan, a national hero for standing up to military rule. As a correspondent for The Chicago Tribune, I knew I couldn’t just watch from behind a car window. I had to get out there.

So, wearing a black headscarf and a loose, long-sleeved red tunic over jeans, I waded through the crowd and started taking notes: on the men throwing rose petals, on the men shouting that they would die for the chief justice, on the men sacrificing a goat.

And then, almost predictably, someone grabbed my buttocks. I spun around and shouted, but then it happened again, and again, until finally I caught one offender’s hand and punched him in the face. The men kept grabbing. I kept punching. At a certain point — maybe because I was creating a scene — I was invited into the chief justice’s vehicle.

At the time, in June 2007, I saw this as just one of the realities of covering the news in Pakistan. I didn’t complain to my bosses. To do so would only make me seem weak. Instead, I made a joke out of it and turned the experience into a positive one: See, being a woman helped me gain access to the chief justice.

And really, I was lucky. A few gropes, a misplaced hand, an unwanted advance — those are easily dismissed. I knew other female correspondents who weren’t so lucky, those who were molested in their hotel rooms, or partly stripped by mobs. -- Kim Barker, NY Times

To read the complete article, click here.

Gifted Programs Go on Block as Schools Must Do With Less

“It helped me get through fourth grade.”
Teela Huff, a fifth grader,
on her now-defunct gifted classes.
Adithya Sambamurthy/The Bay Citizen
When she was just 3, Teela Huff understood how to add numbers. By third grade, she was tutoring her peers....

But Teela’s quick mind — she is now a 10-year-old fifth grader but reads at a 12th-grade level — meant her classes at Silver Oak Elementary in San Jose were often boring and frustrating. She finally enrolled in a program for gifted children, where students wrestled with things like mind-bending math riddles and thought-provoking questions like how to survive on a desert island. And she loved it.

Her new adventures in learning ended in September, however, when the Evergreen School District eliminated all programs for its 790 or so gifted children. The move was part of a statewide wave of cuts in a program known as Gifted and Talented Education....

Budget problems, combined with policies and programs like the No Child Left Behind Act focused on improving overall educational performance in public schools, have put gifted programs in the expendable category. Local school districts, with permission from the Legislature, have been systematically taking money from the programs to cover budget shortfalls. School officials say they have no choice — but exceptionally talented pupils like Teela are paying the price. -- Jennifer Gollan, The San Francisco Bay Citizen, via NY Times

To read the complete article, click here.

Column One: Lara Logan and Media Rules

Identity politics are nothing more than socially acceptable bigotry.

Among the least analyzed aspects of the Egyptian revolution has been the significance of the widespread violence against the foreign media covering the demonstrations in Cairo’s Tahrir Square....

To date the most egregious attack on a foreign journalist in Cairo’s Tahrir Square took place last Friday, when CBS’s senior foreign correspondent Lara Logan was sexually assaulted and brutally beaten by a mob of Egyptian men. Her own network, CBS, took several days to even report the story, and when it did, it left out important information. The fact that Logan was brutalized for 20 to 30 minutes and that her attackers screamed out “Jew, Jew, Jew” as they ravaged her was absent from the CBS report and from most other follow-on reports in the US media....

The media’s treatment of Logan’s victimization specifically and its treatment of the widescale mob violence against foreign reporters in Cairo generally tells us a great deal about the nature of today’s media discourse....[C]overage of Logan’s sexual assault makes almost no mention of the perpetrators.

Certainly the issue of Egypt’s societal misogyny has been ignored....

According to a 1999 report from the World Health Organization, 97 percent of Egyptian women and girls have undergone the barbaric practice of genital mutilation. A 2005 report by the Cairo-based Association for Legal Rights of Women submitted to the UN explained that Egyptian women are constitutionally deprived of their basic rights, including their rights to control their bodies and property. Males who murder their female relatives are often unpunished. When they are tried and convicted for premeditated murder, their sentences average from two to four years in prison.

So far the only culprit the US media have managed to find for the sexual assault perpetrated against Lara Logan by a mob of Egyptian men has been a radical leftist reporter named Nir Rosen.
-- Caroline B. Glick, Jerusalem Post

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History of Bergen-Belsen DP Babies Chronicled

Jakob and Cyla Spiewak with Kresia (Karen)
in 1946 in front of the Bergen-Belsen
block where they lived.
After placing an ad in The Canadian Jewish News about five years ago, Paulette Volgyesi met and immediately bonded with two strangers.

Volgyesi, Karen Lasky and Isaac Applebaum were all born a few months apart at Glyn Hughes Hospital in Bergen Hohne, located five kilometres from the Bergen-Belsen concentration camp.

Karen Lasky in front of the same
Bergen- Belsen Block in 2007
Named after the first Allied medical officer to enter Bergen-Belsen, the hospital was part of a displaced persons’ camp established in Germany by British forces for refugees after World War II. With about 11,000 residents in 1946, it was the only exclusively Jewish camp in the British zone of Germany.

Between 1946 and 1950, when the camp was disbanded, about 2,000 babies were born in the hospital. -- Carolyn Blackman, Canadian Jewish News

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Red Cross Looks at Providing Kosher Food

Red Cross. Improving response to next disasterPhoto: AP
The American Red Cross has been looking at ways it can improve its response to the next disaster and it's found some surprising answers.
Joel Sullivan, CEO of the Middle Tennessee chapter of the American Red Cross, said changing demographics have led to a demand for food that meets the specific cultural and religious needs.
The Red Cross is looking for vendors that can supply vegetarian, kosher and halal meals. 

The Tennessean reports that Muslim leaders have also asked the charity to look into providing separate spaces for men and women at their shelters.
Rabbi Saul Strosberg of Congregation Sherith Israel in Nashville said the fact that people are complaining about the food shows what a good job the Red Cross is doing with the essentials. -- Associated Press via Ynet News

Helen Thomas: Jews Not Persecuted in Europe after War

Former White House correspondent Helen Thomas said the Jews did not have to leave postwar Europe because they weren’t persecuted.

In an interview Wednesday on CNN’s “Joy Behar” program, Thomas told Behar that once World War II ended, the Jews “didn’t have to go anywhere really, because they weren’t being persecuted anymore. But they were taking other people’s land.”

Impromptu remarks that Thomas made last May to a rabbi video blogger about how the Jews should “get the hell out of Palestine” and go back to Poland and Germany cost her her job as correspondent for the Hearst newspaper corporation. She now works for a newspaper in Virginia....

In this week’s interview on CNN, Thomas said that when she said Jews should go back to Poland and Germany, “I should have said Russia too.”...

Thomas’ account of history is inaccurate. Attacks against Jews and persecution of Jews continued in Europe even after World War II, both in the years immediately following the war, such as during the Kielce, Poland pogrom of 1946, and in the decades since. Poland, for example, launched an anti-Jewish campaign in 1967 that culminated in the expulsion of nearly 13,000 Jews over the course of five years. The country’s prime minister at the time described Zionists as a fifth column in Poland and say they should leave the country for Israel.

When asked on Behar’s program is she considers herself anti-Semitic, Thomas, whose parents were Lebanese, said, “Hell no, I’m a Semite.” Of the Jews she said, “They’re not Semites. Most of them are from Europe.”... -- JTA

To see this interview, click here.
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Study of Breast Biopsies Finds Surgery Used Too Extensively

A study by Dr. Stephen R. Grobmyer, the director of
the breast cancer program at the University of Florida in Gainesville
Kelly Jordan for the NY Times
Too many women with abnormal mammograms or other breast problems are undergoing surgical biopsies when they should be having needle biopsies, which are safer, less invasive and cheaper, new research shows.

A study in Florida found that 30 percent of the breast biopsies there from 2003 to 2008 were surgical. The rate should be 10 percent or less, according to medical guidelines.

The figures in the rest of the country are likely to be similar to Florida’s, researchers say, which would translate to more than 300,000 women a year having unnecessary surgery, at a cost of hundreds of millions of dollars. Many of these women do not even have cancer: about 80 percent of breast biopsies are benign. For women who do have cancer, a surgical biopsy means two operations instead of one, and may make the cancer surgery more difficult than it would have been if a needle biopsy had been done. -- Denise Grady, NY Times

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Auschwitz Shifts From Memorializing to Teaching

Exhibitions of shoes, suitcases and other items taken from those murdered
at Auschwitz illustrate the scale of the killing.
Piotr Malecki for The New York Times
For nearly 60 years, Auschwitz has told its own story, shaped in the recent aftermath of the Second World War. It now unfolds, unadorned and mostly unexplained, in displays of hair, shoes and other remains of the dead. Past the notorious, mocking gateway, into the brick ranks of the former barracks of the Polish army camp that the Nazis seized and converted into prisons and death chambers, visitors bear witness via this exhibition.

Now those in charge of passing along the legacy of this camp insist that Auschwitz needs an update. Its story needs to be retold, in a different way for a different age.

Partly the change has to do with the simple passage of time, refurbishing an aging display. Partly it’s about the pressures of tourism, and partly about the changing of generations. What is the most visited site and the biggest cemetery in Poland for Jews and non-Jews alike, needs to explain itself better, officials here contend. -- Michael Kimmelman, NY Times

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