Friday, June 24, 2011

Red Cross Calls for Sign of Life from Shalit

Hamas must provide proof that captured Israeli soldier Gilad Shalit is alive, the International Committee of the Red Cross has demanded.

"The total absence of information concerning Mr. Shalit is completely unacceptable," Red Cross Director-General Yves Daccord said in a statement released Thursday. "The Shalit family have the right under international humanitarian law to be in contact with their son."

Friday will mark five years since Shalit was captured by Hamas during a cross-border raid. He is believed to be held by Hamas in Gaza.

The Red Cross has called on Hamas repeatedly, but unsuccessfully, to allow Shalit to have contact with his family. Hamas also has not allowed

It has been nearly two years since Hamas has released any proof that Shalit is alive. In October 2009, Hamas released a one-minute videotape of Shalit in exchange for the release of 20 female Hamas prisoners in Israeli jails.

Hamas has demanded the release of 1,000 Palestinians in Israeli jails, including some directly responsible for the deaths of Israelis, in order to effect Shalit's release. -- JTA


In Central Tel Aviv, Home Front Drill Siren Is Barely a Whisper



Perhaps befitting a fake bomb drill, the mood was dismissive and nonchalant when air raid siren went off in Tel Aviv. -- Ben Hartman, Jerusalem Post

To read more and view accompanying video,
click here.

Meet Australia’s Aborigine who Is President of her Orthodox Shul

Lisa Jackson Pulver, a Jewish member of the Aboriginal tribe called the Wiradjuri.
(From “Hand in Hand: Jewish and Indigenous people working together” by Anne Sarzin and Lisa Miranda Sarzin.)
Lisa Jackson Pulver is not your average Australian Jew.

Yes, she is one of this country’s 110,000 or so Members of the Tribe, but she is also a member of another tribe: an Aboriginal clan called the Wiradjuri.

Jackson Pulver says she’s not the only Aboriginal Jew in Australia.

“The first Jew came here on the First Fleet in 1788, and since then Jews have been marrying Aborigines because white women wouldn’t marry them,” Jackson Pulver said. “There’s a big mob of black Cohens out there, and they’ve got Jewish ancestry.”

But Jackson Pulver has a few other distinctions not shared by other “black Cohens.”

The first Aboriginal Australian to receive a doctorate in medicine from the University of Sydney, Jackson Pulver is now the director of the Muru Marri Indigenous Health Unit at the University of New South Wales in Sydney. -- Dan Goldberg, JTA

To read more, click here.

Apple Drops 3rd Intifada Application from Online Store

California-based computer company Apple Inc. removed an application from its online store called "3rd Intifada," a statement released by the Diplomacy and Diaspora Affairs Ministry on Thursday said. The application gave information about protest activities planned against Israel, some of them violent.

The announcement of the application's removal came after Diplomacy and Diaspora Affairs Minister Yuli Edelstein sent a letter to Apple Inc. CEO Steve Jobs on Tuesday, requesting that the computer giant stop sales of the application. -- Staff, Jerusalem Post

To read more, click here.

Jewish Human Rights Organization Calls for Greater Tolerance in Plateau Mt Royal Neighbourhood

B’nai Brith – Quebec Region is calling the decision to deny a neighbourhood synagogue a modest building adjustment an indication that intolerant attitudes to visible Orthodox Jews are becoming entrenched.

Me. Allan Adel, National Chair of B’nai Brith’s League for Human Rights questioned why what should have been a minor municipal matter has attracted so much animosity.

“We are concerned to see feelings being inflamed to such an extent,” he said, “especially when apparently the 60-year old synagogue’s immediate neighbours had no objections to the plan, which would have extended the building a mere 10 foot into the facility’s own backyard. We also see that the needs of elderly or physically impaired worshippers are being ignored outright. They have difficulty accessing existing lower-level washroom facilities, a situation the expansion was meant to rectify. Clearly a review of the situation is called for.

“This seems to be a rather obvious swipe at the Chassidic community, with a clear opportunity for neighbourly accommodation being lost. Situations like this which paint any single minority as outsiders in their own neighbourhood are unfortunately ripe for rapid deterioration.” -- B’nai Brith Canada

US Lists Israel Among Countries with Poor Aviation Safety

Israel appears on list together with third world countries which US aviation safety regulator says do not meet int'l standards, 'USA Today' reports.

The US government's aviation safety regulator, the Federal Aviation Administration, lists Israel as one of 22 nations whose civil aviation authorities do not meet international safety standards, the USA Today reported on Saturday.

According to the report, even though the FAA says Israel's aviation authority does not meet international standards, the US allows El AL to continue flying into its airports.

The FAA says that any foreign airline entering the US can continue to do so "under heightened FAA surveillance" after it has been determined that the aviation authority in the airline's country of origin does not meet international standards, the report said. - Staff, Jerusalem Post

To read the complete article, click here.

Thursday, June 23, 2011

As Moishe Houses Catch On, Jewish Orgs See New Model for Engaging 20-Somethings

Moishe House Baltimore residents Jen Posner, left,
and Mickey Rubin, wearing a Baltimore Orioles cap,
host a rooftop barbecue for other young Baltimore Jews,
May 19, 2011. (Moishe House Baltimore)
Ben Levinson, 28, was born and raised in St. Louis. He returned after college to find most of the Jewish friends he grew up with had moved away.

That’s not unusual: St. Louis is one of many U.S. cities with shrinking Jewish populations and, as in other cities, the young are the first to leave.

“There are no hard figures, but there’s a tendency to lose young Jews from St. Louis,” said Meg Crane, senior writer at the local Jewish federation.

The last Jewish population study of the city, in the mid-1990s, counted 54,000 Jews.

Levinson thought about leaving, too, he told JTA.

“Then I started to get involved with Moishe House," he said. "That helped keep me here.”

Moishe House is a national organization that provides rent subsidies and a programming budget for groups of three to five Jews in their 20s who agree to live in downtown neighborhoods with large numbers of 20-something Jews. They must turn their home into a hub of regularly scheduled Jewish activities for their peers. -- Sue Fishkoff, JTA

To read more, click here.

Cottage Cheese Becomes Symbol of Israeli Frustration with Rising Food Prices

Rows of cottage cheese and other dairy products
on display at a Tel Aviv grocery store. (Dina Kraft)
For Israelis, cottage cheese is no mere dairy product.

Whipped to exceptional creamy and airy perfection, it is a coveted staple of tables across the country. Israelis spend $440 million per year on cottage cheese.

But now, with the price of a 9-ounce container climbing to just above $2, cottage cheese has become the focus of a consumer revolt and a symbol of frustration with the high cost of living in Israel.

“On principle I’m not going to buy," said Leah Buskila, 47, a stage manager pushing her shopping cart past stacks of colorful round cottage cheese containers in the dairy section of a large grocery store in Tel Aviv. "It’s important that people are uniting about this.”

Cottage cheese prices have jumped by nearly 40 percent in the last three years. Dairy companies blame the hikes on rising production costs, including the price of raw materials and labor costs. -- Dina Kraft, JTA

To read more, click here.

In N.Y., Debate over Religious Exemptions at Issue in Gay Marriage Bill

While some religious groups,
like the Presbyterians seen here
at Albany's 2009 gay pride parade,
support same-sex marriage,
organizations like the Orthodox Union have launched
robust campaigns against same-sex marriage.
(Tim Schapker via CC)
When it comes to passing a gay marriage bill in New York State, even many supporters acknowledge that wide-reaching religious exemptions are crucial.

After all, this is the state with the nation’s second-largest number of Catholics and largest number of Orthodox Jews, and many say including exemptions is a legitimate way to address concerns of the religiously observant.

“I’m keeping my fingers crossed that if we’re going to recognize same-sex marriage, we do it in a way that is nuanced,” Robin Fretwell Wilson, a law professor at Washington and Lee University in Virginia, told JTA.

Though robust protection of religious liberties already exists in both New York and federal law, Wilson said she understands why religious groups are pushing to reiterate and strengthen these guarantees.-- Alex Weisler, JTA

Coalition Sues to Keep Circumcision Ban Off San Francisco Ballot

The Jewish-led coalition working to defeat a San Francisco ballot measure that would ban circumcision there filed a lawsuit on Wednesday morning asking the city to remove the proposition from the ballot entirely.

The ballot measure, which would make circumcision for any reason—including religious belief—a misdemeanor, was formally approved for inclusion on the November 2011 ballot by the San Francisco Department of Elections last month.

The suit was filed in California Superior Court on June 22 by a group of plaintiffs that included two Jewish community organizations, three local Jewish families, one Muslim family and two doctors. It is just the latest salvo in a multifront battle to defeat a ballot measure that many in the Jewish community say would interfere with their religious practice and their autonomy as parents. -- Jonah Lowenfeld, JewishJournal.com

To read more, click here.

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Israel’s Top Ten Tourist Destinations

National parks and animals are the hottest Israeli spots for visitors, according to a list released by Dun & Bradstreet
Masada
Business information gurus Dun & Bradstreet recently released a Top 10 list of the most visited pay-to-enter tourist sites in Israel.

Capturing first place on the list is the ancient Masada fortress, site of the first-century great revolt of the Jews against the Romans, and today a symbol of heroism.
The remaining spots were taken by:
- Jerusalem’s Tisch Family Zoological Gardens
Caesarea National Park  on the Mediterranean coast
The Banias Nature Reserve all the way up north
Ramat Gan’s Safari Park
Ein Gedi Nature Reserve
Hamat Gader hot springs on the Golan Heights
Eilat’s Underwater Observatory Marine Park
- The caves of Qumran, where the Dead Sea scrolls were discovered in 1947
The Yamit 2000 Water Park  just outside of Tel Aviv.

-- Israel Ministry of Foreign Affairs

To view accompanying video, click on image below.

Op Ed: What If Jews Had Followed the Palestinian Path?

Associated Press
Golda Meir pondered
what would have become of the Jews
had they been destroyed by the Arab armies.
It is doubtful that there has ever been a more miserable human refuse than Jewish survivors after World War II. Starving, emaciated, stateless—they were not welcomed back by countries where they had lived for generations as assimilated and educated citizens. Germany was no place to return to and in Kielce, Poland, 40 Jews who survived the Holocaust were killed in a pogrom one year after the war ended. The European Jew, circa 1945, quickly went from victim to international refugee disaster.

Yet within a very brief time, this epic calamity disappeared, so much so that few people today even remember the period. How did this happen in an era when Palestinian refugees have continued to be stateless for generations?

In 1945, there were hundreds of thousands of Jewish survivors living in DP Camps (displaced persons) across Europe. They were fed and clothed by Jewish and international relief organizations. Had the world's Jewish population played this situation as the Arabs and Palestinians have, everything would look very different today. -- Warren Kozak, Wall Street Journal

To read more, click here.

The Tourist's Dilemma

Mosaic floor, synagogue of Saranda


Nazi concentration and death camps are sites of pilgrimage and remembrance—which means that countries with more favorable historical records miss out on tourism revenues. -- Alex, Joffee, Jewish Ideas Daily

To read more, click here.

Major Effort To Promote Day Schools Shows Mixed Results

Stepping Down: PEJE founding executive director
Rabbi Joshua Elkin has resigned.
When the Partnership for Excellence in Jewish Education was founded in 1997, it had commitments of $18 million from a dozen leading Jewish philanthropists, and it had lofty goals: to create 25 new Jewish day schools and to double the percentage of non-Orthodox students who attend all Jewish day schools.

Fourteen years later, PEJE’S founding executive director, Rabbi Joshua Elkin, has announced that he will leave PEJE in September. The organization has spent more than $65 million, has changed its focus and has lost many of its initial core funders.

PEJE has had notable success: It helped establish 60 Jewish elementary and middle schools throughout North America, according to Elkin, providing both funding and expertise. “Most are still operating, and some are doing quite well,” he said.

When it appeared in 2003 that the market for new day schools was saturated, PEJE shifted its focus to provide coaching to professionalize day school staffs and practices. Last summer, after suffering a sharp downturn in fundraising and laying off 30% of its staff, PEJE reconsidered its goals and started focusing on building day school endowments. The organization is currently working with more than 20 schools in Los Angeles, Baltimore and another community that has not yet been publicly named, with funding from the Avi Chai Foundation, Elkin said.

But one thing hasn’t changed: The number of American Jewish students attending Jewish day schools outside the ultra-Orthodox community has barely budged. An increase “didn’t happen; it hasn’t happened,” Elkin said. -- Debra Nussbaum Cohen, Forward

To read more, click here.

Toronto to Update Anti-Discrimination Policy over "Israeli Apartheid"

Toronto's municipal council passed a motion to rewrite and update its anti-discrimination policy so "Israeli apartheid" and other terms would violate city standards.

The June 15 vote came just weeks after the city's executive committee voted to permit the funding of the Toronto Gay Pride Parade despite the participation of Queers Against Israeli Apartheid. That decision followed a report by the city manager, who ruled in a review the term "Israeli apartheid" does not violate Toronto's anti-discrimination policies.

City Council members now want a review of the city manager's report to ensure that events funded by the city or which take place on municipal property uphold "respect, tolerance and diversity."

The issue is "the greatest challenge facing Toronto Jewry," James Pasternak, a Jewish city councilman who introduced the motion for the review, told JTA. "It is vital that we amend the policy."

Pasternak said if the city arrives at the same decision as it did earlier, "I would find that very disturbing. He [the city manager] knows what we want. For them to come back [with the same ruling] would really be defying the will of council."

A report won't be issued for several months -- too late for this year's Pride Parade, scheduled for July 3.

Last year, Pride received a $123,807 city grant and $245,000 worth of services, such as litter cleanup and policing.

Meanwhile, a motion is in place to withhold funding if Queers Against Israeli Apartheid participates in this year's march. To date, the group has not registered to take part.

Pasternak said Queers Against Israeli Apartheid would be "thumbing their noses" at Pride and the city if it dispersed and marched as individuals instead of as a group. -- JTA

Vilna'i: Nationwide Defense Drill's Success Is Our Security

During "Turning Point 5" exercise, Defense Ministry to test responses to bombardment of missiles from Lebanon, Syria, Gaza, Iran

Matan Vilna'i
Homeland Security Minister Matan Vilna'i on Sunday commented on the “Turning Point 5” nationwide civil-defense exercise that began earlier in the day, saying "I look around the world and nowhere are there exercises of this scope. It and its success are our security."

Vilna'i made the comments at the weekly cabinet meeting, adding that, "The exercise regards extreme situations such as massive firing deep into the State of Israel." -- Yaahov Katz, Jerusalem Post

To read more, click here.

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

On the Fifth Anniversary of the Kidnapping, Conference of Presidents Urges America People to Pray for Release of Gilad Shalit

Leaders of the Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations issued a call to the American Jewish community and the entire nation to pray for the release of Israeli soldier Gilad Shalit this weekend, Saturday, June 25th, which marks the fifth anniversary of Shalit’s kidnapping and day 1,825 that he has been held in total isolation.

“Gilad Shalit was just 19 when he was abducted by Hamas terrorists as part of an unprovoked and well-planned terrorist attack. This Saturday marks the fifth year that he has been held in total isolation with no access to the International Red Cross or any other humanitarian bodies, which is in violation of international law. We join Noam and Aviva Shalit in their ongoing fight to gain freedom for their son, and urge both Jews and non-Jews alike to pray for his immediate release. Gilad’s prolonged captivity and inhumane treatment by Hamas is the true humanitarian issue in Gaza. We cannot imagine the pain Gilad’s family has suffered during these long years not knowing the fate or well-being of their son,” said Conference of Presidents Chairman Richard Stone and Executive Vice Chairman Malcolm Hoenlein.

In addition, individuals can express their solidarity with Shalit by submitting an electronic greeting to him through the web site, www.giladgreetings.org. The site is a means to urge continued efforts by the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) to press Hamas to allow the ICRC to visit Shalit in order to ascertain his conditions of detention and treatment in compliance with international law.

Gilad Shalit is one of seven missing Israeli soldiers. His fellow MIAs are Ron Arad, captured in 1986; Zachary Baumel, captured in 1982; Zvi Feldman, captured in 1982; Majdy Halabi, captured in 2005; Guy Hever, captured in 1996; and Yehuda Katz, captured in 1982. The prayer for the missing Israeli soldiers is posted on the GiladGreetings.org site.

Editor's Note: You also click here for the prayer which is saved as a pdf file.

In Ravaged Libya, Ghosts of a Jewish Past

Inside the Dar al-Bishi synagogue in the walled old city of Tripoli, Libya Sunday, May 22, 2011. What was once the most beautiful synagogue in Libya's capital city can now be entered only by sneaking through a hole smashed in a back wall, climbing over dusty trash and crossing a stairwell strewn with abandoned shoes to a space occupied by cooing pigeons. Diaa Hadid/AP
What was once the most beautiful synagogue in Libya's capital city can now be entered only by sneaking through a hole smashed in a back wall, climbing over dusty trash and crossing a stairwell strewn with abandoned shoes to a space occupied by cooing pigeons.

The synagogue, Dar al-Bishi, was once the center of a prosperous Jewish community, one whose last remnants were expelled decades ago in the early days of Moammar Gadhafi's regime.

Inside Libya, little trace of them remains. Abroad, however, surviving members and descendants of the community are very much alive, watching with fascination from afar as Gadhafi's forces and a NATO-backed rebel insurgency battle for control of a country some of them still see as home.  -- Diaa Hadid, Associated Press, via San Francisco Chronicle

To read the complete article, click here.

Crisis Pregnancy Group Reflects Jewish Divide on Abortion

Erica Pelman rests in a swing with her 12-week-old son Raviv
near her home in Silver Spring, Md.
Pelman, an Orthodox Jew, founded In Shifra's Arms,
a non-profit organization that assists pregnant
Jewish women in crisis. Photo by Lauren Pond.
Saraleah was 19 and a part-time student when she discovered she was pregnant. She didn’t know how it could have happened—until she flashed back to a party nine weeks earlier where she was given a drink, realized it was vodka and then passed out.

Saraleah had been raped.

“I was in shock and felt like my life was over,” she wrote in an email, asking that her full name not be used. “I was very scared because i had nothing and was trying to figure out how i was going to support myself AND the baby.”

Abortion was never an option, she said. She looked into adoption, but ultimately decided she wanted to prove herself as a mother. Her rabbi’s wife referred her to In Shifra’s Arms, a suburban Washington, D.C., nonprofit that provides assistance to pregnant Jewish women in crisis.
-- Debra Rubin, Religious News Service

PM: Israel Will Ask US to Free Pollard for Father's Funeral

Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu on Sunday said that in the coming days a diplomatic request will be submitted to the US for the release of imprisoned Israeli agent Jonathan Pollard so that he can attend his father's funeral.

Netanyahu made the comments at a meeting with Likud ministers after Pollard's father, Morris, died Saturday morning at age 95 at Memorial Hospital and Health System in South Bend, Indiana.

The imprisoned agent's family, American Jewish leaders and Knesset members had been lobbying for Jonathan to be granted what is called "compassionate leave" for 24 hours to allow him to see his father before he died.

Earlier Sunday, MKs expressed split attitudes toward calls for Pollard's release.

MK Ahmed Tibi (United Arab List - Ta'al) said Israeli opposition to the US government's decision not to allowPollard to see his father before he passed away are "typical Israeli hypocrisy." -- Staff, Jerusalem Post

To read the complete article, click here.

Muslim Woman to Lead College Holocaust Center

Mehnaz Afridi’s expertise is the intersection
of Islam and the Holocaust. Michael Datikash





Critics question credibility of Manhattan College’s pick, and a change in center’s focus as supporters come to her defense. -- Jonathan Mark, NY Jewish Week






To read the complete story, click here.

Argentine Governmentt Official Joins Campaign to Expose Junta’s Anti-Semitic Past

Eduardo Duhalde, Argentina's secretary of human rights,
has partnered with Eduardo Saiegh,
seen here at a hotel in New York,
in the Jewish banker's fight to implicate the government
on charges of anti-Semitic discrimination and state terrorism.
(Alex Weisler)
More than 30 years after he was kidnapped and tortured by secret police in Buenos Aires, Argentine banker Eduardo Saiegh has an unlikely partner in his fight to convict former government leaders on charges of anti-Semitic discrimination and state terrorism: the government itself.

Last month, Eduardo Duhalde, Argentina’s secretary of human rights, joined Saiegh, who is Jewish, as a co-complainant in the case. That puts a member of the country’s current government on the side of an investigation of its former leaders, including an ex-finance minister and a head of Argentina’s Central Bank, on charges of crimes against humanity.

It all stems from the events surrounding eight days in the fall of 1980 when Saiegh, the owner of a major bank in Argentina, was detained by police and allegedly tortured and encouraged to sign away the rights to his bank. Eventually he did.  -- Alex Weislerr, JTA

To read the complete article, click here.

Monday, June 20, 2011

Nano Retina Develops Bionic Retina for Visually Impaired

The Israeli company expects clinical trials to position its tiny implant as the most advanced solution for people with damaged retinas.
Bio-Retina is activated by special eyeglasses, transforming light into an electrical impulse
that stimulates the neurons to send images to the brain.
A two-year-old Israeli company is pairing electrodes with living neurons in the eye to create bionic sight for the vision impaired, in a nanotech development that sounds more like science fiction, than real life.

Nano Retina, operating since 2009 in Herzliya, is now manufacturing an R&D prototype of the development. While it is not the first in the field to develop such a technology, its advance offers a tenfold improvement in vision compared to the two technology solution providers on the market today, according to the company's managing director, Ra'anan Gefen.

Inserted into the retina in a 30-minute procedure, Nano Retina's implant device, about the size of a grain of rice, turns into an artificial retina that melds to the neurons in the eye. It is activated by the wearer using special eyeglasses, transforming natural light into an electrical impulse that stimulates the neurons to send images to the brain. -- Karin Kloosterman, Israel21c

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

Op Ed: Another Tack: No Jews in Judea

A Third Reigch-era sign from Austria
proudly announcing that "The City of St. Veit on the Glan
is Judenrein" [free of Jews]
Just try to imagine what would have happened had Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu stood before some Jewish forum and exclaimed that “from now on we won’t allow the presence of one Arab in our independent Israel with Jerusalem as its capital.”

The cacophony of condemnation from abroad, we can safely assume, would instantly surge into hysterical pandemonium. Livid politicos, their press and the public opinion they mold would seethe and fume as if nothing more racist were utterable. Inside Israel, the righteous ruckus would be no less frenzied and deafening.

But we can heave a sigh of relief. Luckily these words could never conceivably cross Netanyahu’s lips. This unkind sentiment, however, isn’t unfamiliar in our neighborhood. The Palestinian Authority’s head honcho and self-styled moderate keeps serially mouthing it – though in reverse.

Addressing a recent emergency session of Arab League foreign ministers in Doha, Qatar, Mahmoud Abbas unabashedly declared that “when an independent Palestinian state with Jerusalem as its capital is established, we won’t allow the presence of one Israeli in it.” -- Sarah Honig, Jerusalem Post

To read the complete article, click here.

Technion's Centennial : Technion Cornerstone Centennial-1912-2012

In April, 1912, the cornerstone was laid for the first Jewish university in the Middle East, the Technikum--later to be called Technion-Israel Institute of Technology.

The Technion opened its door for the first students in 1924 and the engineers and scientists educated there were instrumental in building the country.

Thank you to the Steven Spielberg Jewish Film Archives of the Hebrew University of Jerusalem and the World Zionist Organization for historical footage.

To view the video, click on image below.

No Ford in Israel's Future?

With little fanfare, the Ford Foundation has initiated a phased withdrawal from its long, largely behind-the-scenes campaign to influence Israeli politics. News reports have focused mostly on the foundation's 23-year-long patronage of the New Israel Fund (NIF), whose beneficiaries include a number of pressure groups that colluded with the now-discredited Goldstone Commission Report.

But Ford's involvement in Israel's affairs goes well beyond the NIF.  The foundation, today with $10.2 billion in assets, was created in 1936 by Edsel Ford, son of the automobile magnate, Nazi sympathizer, and notorious anti-Semite Henry Ford.  Since then, it has disbursed a staggering $16 billion in grants largely devoted to "progressive" causes promoting "social change worldwide." In June 1967, the foundation's head was McGeorge Bundy, former foreign-policy aide to President Lyndon Johnson. On the very day Israel claimed victory in the Six-Day war, Johnson recalled Bundy to the White House to help coax Israel out of the just-liberated territories of Judea, Samaria, and Gaza. -- Elliot Jager, Jewish Ideas Daily

To read the complete article, click here.

Cinnamon May Delay, Cure Alzheimer's According to Israeli Study

Cinnamon, a spice usually associated with sweet foods, contains properties that may delay the onset of Alzheimer's disease, and possibly offer a cure, according to a new Israeli study. -- Xinhuanet News

To read the complete article, click here.

Op Ed: The End of Jewish Men?

Some professors and rabbis are concerned that liberal Judaism is becoming too female. Is this a real crisis?
Do Jewish men need to be won back to the synagogue?
In 2007, an organization called the Men of Reform Judaism published a Haggadah intended for men-only Passover Seders. It tweaked the familiar rituals. Instead of solemnly intoning the 10 plagues that struck ancient Egypt—frogs, boils, lice, and so on—participants are asked to recite the scourges of manhood: impotence, hair loss, prostate cancer. In the introduction, the authors explain their motives for the enterprise: "Men need the company of men, to be men."

For the most part, gender segregation in Judaism, like strict Shabbat observance and the renunciation of shellfish, is a practice left to the Orthodox. Egalitarianism is a defining characteristic of the religion's more liberal wings (Reform, Reconstructionist, and Conservative, among others). But the men's Haggadah is one of several recent initiatives designed for men and boys alone. The 2007 Reform biennial convention hosted a men-only prayer service. In 2009, a book titled The Modern Men's Torah Commentary was released. This year, an organization called Moving Traditions launched a curriculum for teenage boys called "The Brotherhood," focusing on the "journey to manhood."--  Rebecca Tuhus-Dubrow, Slate

To read more, click here.

Sunday, June 19, 2011

Anti-Israel Bullying and Intimidation in the Classroom

Group asks: Have you experienced intimidation from a professor
because of your views on Israel?
Let us know by emailing tips@israelcampusbeat.org !
In 2004, 14 students at Columbia University spoke in front of a video camera to document their allegations about anti-Israel bullying and intimidation by members of the school’s Middle East Asian Languages and Cultures (MEALAC) faculty. With support from the David Project, they created a compelling and controversial film titled “Columbia Unbecoming ,” which caused waves and was followed by an official Columbia University investigation.

Among those professors denounced was Professor Joseph Massad, associate Professor of Modern Arab Politics and Intellectual History. In the film, Massad was accused of kicking a student out of his class for her pro-Israel views and refusing to answer questions from a former Israeli soldier until the soldier stated how many Palestinians he had killed.

Professor Massad was investigated by the university’s Ad Hoc Grievance Committee, which found he had overstepped the bounds of legitimate speech in one instance but did not find basis to the bulk of the charges.

In 2009, he was granted tenure and continues to teach today.

Columbia University is far from the only school where students have complained about anti-Israel bullying in the classroom. According to Professor Sam Edelman, executive director of Scholars for Peace in the Middle East (SPME), the number of students bearing these complaints is on the rise. -- Elianna Mintz, Israel Campus Beat of the Israel on Campus Coalition, Scholars for Peace in the Middle East

To read the complete article, click here.

The Surprising Youth Hostels of Israel

Israel is investing in expanding the network of high-quality hostels that offer an affordable alternative to traveling families and groups.
The Rabin Youth Hostel in Jerusalem, located a stone's throw from the Knesset and the Israel Museum.
Hostels have a reputation as cheap places for traveling students to hang their backpacks and get a night’s rest. Started by a German teacher in 1909, the original hostels actually were schools that doubled as very basic guest houses for young travelers during vacation times.

In Israel, however, a network of about two dozen youth hostels operate at a higher scale -- the world’s first to adopt international quality management standards, making them equivalent to two- or three-star hotels.

Run by the non-profit Israel Youth Hostel Association (IYHA) (http://www.iyha.org.il/eng/), these strategically sited facilities are the favored choice for nearly one million overnight stays per year, mostly by groups visiting Israel on educational tours.

Now, an infusion of funds will position the hostels as an attractive alternative for general tourists as part of the Tourism Ministry’s overall plan to accommodate as many as five million annual visitors by 2015. -- Avigayil Kadesh, Israel Ministry of Foreign Affairs

To read the complete article, click here.

Israel Marks Record Defense Exports in 2010

Exports reach $7.2 billion, making Israel one of the world's top four exporters of arms;
15 Israeli companies to display at Paris Air Show.
Photo by: Ariel Jerozolimski
Israeli industries noted a record on Wednesday in defense exports, reaching an unprecedented $7.2 billion in comparison to $6.9b. in 2009, the Defense Ministry announced ahead of the Paris Air Show, which opens next week.

Israel is believed to be one of the world’s top four exporters of arms with specializations in the development and production of unmanned aerial vehicles, mini satellites, command-and-control systems, armored vehicles and the refurbishment of various types of commercial and military aircraft. -- Yaakov Katz, Jerusalem Post

To read the complete article, click here.

Op Ed: Keeping (Saudi and Skverer) Women Out of the Driver's Seat

Separation Barrier: Women in New Square
are not allowed to walk on the same side of the street as men,
one of the many strict customs of the ultra-Orthodox community.
Today [June 17] is the day that women in Saudi Arabia are taking to the streets — behind the wheel of their husbands’ cars, that is. June 17 is the day selected by women’s rights activist Manal Al-Sharif for women to get out there and protest the kingdom’s ban on women driving. Last month, after Al-Sharif posted a video of herself driving [click here for the video], she was arrested and jailed for nine days.

Today, women nationwide are expected to be driving in protest “to see if they get thrown in the clink en masse,” wrote New York Times Op-Ed columnist Maureen Dowd....

Just an hour north of New York City, the Hasidic enclave of New Square bans women from driving or even walking on the same side of the street as men, as Andrew Tobin wrote in last week’s Forward [click here for that story]. Steven I. Weiss wrote in these pages back in 2005 about when New Square’s rabbis formalized their community’s custom of banning women from behind the wheel.

It’s hard to understand why — or how — the women of New Square put up with it. They live in a suburban area where one needs to drive to get anywhere outside the immediate village....It’s easy to understand why the men in power in New Square, under the guise of religious fealty, want to ensure that women stay disempowered and unable to get very far. It’s just hard to understand why the women put up with it.

Sisterhood contributor Rebecca Schischa penned a trenchant blog post last year in her blog about how this driving ban is an odd shared bond between some Muslims and some Jews.

Now the question is: will there be an uprising of women claiming the right to drive in New Square as in Saudi Arabia? -- Debra Nussbaum Cohen, Forward

To read the complete article, click here.