Earl Shugerman’s Corner: From Miami to Haifa

August 30, 2009

Earl Shugerman, will bring every week a serie of stories about Anglo-Saxon immigrants to Israel. This project is aimed to promote a more realistic view of life in Israel. The following story relates to an American immigrant named Jordan.

My name is Jordan. I came to Israel four years ago from Miami after receiving a degree in mechanical engineering from The University of Florida. My family is reformed and not particularly Zionist.

haifa1

My original intention was to study Hebrew for six months at a Kibbutz ulpan near Haifa. I was out of the plane for about five minutes and I was already in love with the country. It was love at first sight and I am glad to say that I still feel the same passion. I came here for the experience and now proudly serve in The Israeli Defense Forces in combat engineering. I still can’t quite explain why I love this country so much. Perhaps there is no single reason or reasons.

My first year in the country was spent at the kibbutz studying Hebrew four hours a day and working in the kibbutz factory four hours a day to pay my way. Kibbutz life was interesting but not for me.

The Kibbutz is a community where members equally own all property. Individuals live on the settlements and usually work at them as well. Most kibbutzim are involved in either agriculture, light manufacturing or both. Residents live in nice homes with kitchens; but can also eat at community dining halls. City life is still my choice.

I left the kibbutz and applied for Aliyah with the assistance of Nefesh B’Nefesh. Nefesh is an organization that promotes Aliyah from English speaking countries. They helped me to navigate the paper work and advise me of both my rights and responsibilities including compulsory military service. Visiting mom and dad was very difficult. They respected my decision, but like most parents worried about my new life in Israel, especially the war.

Today they are so happy and proud of my decision that they are planning Aliyah! My dad is about to retire and the folks visited Zichron Yaakov as a possible home. It is just right for us; they both exclaimed! It was love at first sight for them as well.

I am now in my last few months of military duty and rent an apartment in Haifa. Two buddies and I found a beautiful place in the Horev area of Haifa with a view that is incredible. We can see the ocean and much of Haifa through our large picture windows. All three of us are new citizens and choose to live in Haifa for the same reasons.

Haifa is a beautiful city of hills and beaches that offers city life advantages but without the tension that we felt in other urban areas. Haifa is also a very peaceful and pluralistic community where people just enjoy life. Jews, Christians, Muslims and others live together in peace. During the army I was stationed in both the West Bank and Gaza. My impression is that most Arabs and most people just want to live peaceful lives and enjoy this wonderful part of the world.

Upon completing the military I intend to continue my education at The Technion. Haifa’s Technion is a world famous technical school that offers both undergraduate and graduate degrees, primarily in the sciences.

I hope that those individuals reading this article will consider Aliyah and come to live in this incredible nation and this wonderful city!


Senator Edward M. Kennedy’s Accomplishments

August 29, 2009

ted-kennedy

Senator Edward M. Kennedy (1932-2009) has authored more than 2,500 bills throughout his career since 1962 in the United States Senate.  Of those bills, several hundred have become Public Law. 

Here is a sample of some of those laws, which have made a significant difference in the quality of life for the American people.


Schulle im Gewöhnlichen Sozialismus – Ein Episodenroman zur deutschen Zeitgeschichte

August 29, 2009
p-schulle
Von Dr. Christof Tannert

Erschienen im Forum-Verlag Leipzig, Februar 2009

Exposé

Prototypische Charaktere der DDR werden in teils fiktiven, teils erlebten Biografien geschildert. Die Personen werden miteinander sowie mit einigen exemplarischen Westdeutschen konfrontiert. Als dramaturgische Kulisse dienen Szenario und Umfeld einer psychosomatischen Gruppentherapie. Es entstehen Einblicke in den „gewöhnlichen Verbalsozialismus“: Formungen und Verformungen von Menschen durch Alltag, Kleinbürgerei, Erziehungsdiktatur und staatliche Vormundschaft. Ein langsames Romanmittelteil vermittelt zwischen Generationen und Ideologien und zwischen den beiden (relativ schnellen) Eckteilen.

Der Roman hat autobiografische Bezüge. Er wurde vor allem gegen das Vergessen und gegen das immer mehr forcierte Verdrängen geschrieben.

Prolog

nach einem Suizidversuch.

Teil I  Karrieren

Kapitel 1: Der Dissident

Stephan Schulz, genannt Schulle: Physiker, DDR-Dissident, Stasi-Knast, danach von der Stasi andauernd überwacht, aber aus sozialistischer Überzeugung dennoch im Osten geblieben. Weil er de facto mit Berufsverbot belegt ist, arbeitet er seit Anfang der 80er Jahre als Hausmeister, und dann weiter nach 89, weil ihm das eine stressfreie, komfortable Nische zu sein scheint. Er ist aber nun wirtschaftlich von Entlassung und seelisch durch den Verlust von Hoffnung bedroht.

Kapitel 2: Die Anwältin

Cornelia, genannt Rote Conny: Tochter eines südwestdeutschen Schnapsfabrikanten, aktive 68erin aus der Frankfurter Sponti-Szene, Rechtsanwältin in Berlin-W, mit Schulle lange Zeit befreundet, auch sexuell liiert. Nach 89 politisch heimat- und bindungslos, Identitätskrise.

Kapitel 3: Der  Offizier

Jürgen-Dieter Henne, genannt Hühnchen, manchmal auch Hühnchen-Jüdie: Ex-Offizier der NVA („Nationale Volksarmee“ der DDR) und dort eine Art Liegenschaftsbeauftragter. Stasi-Zuträger aus Opportunismus, nach `89 mit Immobiliengeschäften in Sachsen betrauter Makler bei einer großen Firma. Später selbständig in der Branche und damit überfordert. National.

Kapitel 4: Die Pionierleiterin

Christa Krauss: ehemalige Pionierleiterin und Aushilfs-Lehrerin für Erdkunde. Ideologisch vormals übereifrig, eher zufällig von der Stasi nicht als Informelle Mitarbeiterin (IM) rekrutiert. Nach `89 virtuos gewendet („was diese Bonzen mit uns gemacht haben, wenn man das damals gewusst hätte, da  hätte man viel früher aufbegehrt“) und vom Nachfolgestaat als Lehrerin für Politische Weltkunde verbeamtet und damit überfordert. Politischer Rechtsdrall.

Kapitel 5: Der Politiker

Johannes Becker: Feingeist und Nischenmensch in der DDR, hoch gestellter Politiker nach dem 89er Umsturz. Konnte in der DDR keinen wirklichen Grund zum wirklichen Handeln erkennen.  Hat aber seinerzeit Schulle beim Stasi-Verhör aus Ängstlichkeit und aus Abneigung gegen dessen „Aktionismus“ belastet und will nun von ihm Absolution.

Kapitel 6: Die Müllwerkerin, der Müllwerker

Ilona Lehmann: der DDR-Prototyp schlechthin, d.h. um politische Unauffälligkeit bemüht, leise, akkurat, fleißig. Gastwirtstochter, Buchhändlerin. Nach dem 89er Umsturz Weiterbildung zur Betriebswirtin und nun städtische Angestellte im Personalbüro der Müllabfuhr. Muss sich dort vor allem mit Personalabbau befassen, was sie deprimiert.

„Blacky“, ehemaliger Chemielaborant, Müllfahrer, arbeitslos. Eigentlich „unpolitisch“, aber erpresst worden, für die Stasi zu spitzeln („IM“). Hat das nicht wirklich getan, wird dafür aber nun trotzdem und dauerhaft mit sozialer Deklassierung bestraft. Alkoholprobleme. In der Klinik beginnende Freundschaft mit Schulle, Ilona, Conny.

Teil II Ältere Damen in deutschen Gesprächen
Kapitel 7: Hilde und Herta

Zwei gebildete und wohlständige Damen gleichen Alters, die eine aus Ost-, die andere aus West-Deutschland, alleinstehend, unternehmungslustig, kulturvoll, streitbar.

Kapitel 8: Eisenbahngespräche

Mitte ihrer 70 lernen die beiden sich im Eisenbahnabteil auf der Fahrt von Warschau nach Berlin kennen. Sie stammen aus dem Memelgebiet, waren dort zur Besichtigung und sind sich in vielem gleich: Germanistinnen, wieder solo, ironisch. Besuch in Königsberg/ Kaliningrad, der Landschaft ihrer Kindheit und Jugend und Immanuel Kants und Hannah Ahrendts, Besuch in Warschau und dort auch am ehemaligen jüdischen Ghetto.

Spannungen (geringe) beim Kennenlernen àEisenbahngespräche über dt. Geschichte, Kant, Ethik, Totalitarismus, Alter, Zukunft, dt. Einheit

Kapitel 9: Schlössergespräche

Fortsetzung von Kapitel 7 und 8 und Verknüpfung zu Teil I und Teil III: Die Beiden gehen auf eine gemeinsame Schlösserfahrt durch Brandenburg, kommen dabei u.a. in die Psychosomatische Reha-Klinik und werden dort in einen akuten O-W-Streit einbezogen. Ausklang: Sie wollen ein brandenburgisches  „Herrenhaus“ kaufen und eine (Senioren)Kommunität begründen.

Teil III Reha-Klinik
Kapitel 10: Konzeptionen

Ein Arzt entwirft eine psychotherapeutische Gruppenkonzeption, kalkuliert mögliche Ost-West-Auseinandersetzungen ein und versucht auszutarieren, z.B. mit einer Oberstudienrätin aus Hessen (Frau Dyba).

Kapitel 11: Konstellationen

Begegnung der Hauptpersonen aus Teil I und Kapitel 10, manche kennen sich überraschenderweise von früher.

Kapitel 12: Konfrontationen

von Lebensgeschichten und gegenwärtigen „Befindlichkeiten“ im Therapiegespräch und an dessen Rand, oszillierend zwischen Opportunismus, Dissidenz, DDR-Erinnerungen, Nischen- und Beamtendasein.

Kapitel 13: Eskalationen

dramatische Fortsetzung von Kapitel 12 mit verbalen und körperlichen Schlagabtauschen

Kapitel 14: Grübeleien

einzeln und in Gruppe

Kapitel 15: Vorletzter Versuch

In dem Schloss, in dem die Reha-Klinik untergebracht ist, treffen die beiden alten Damen, der Politiker und die Therapiegruppe aufeinander à Konflikte und Diskurse.

Epilog

die Protagonisten gehen ihren Charakteren entsprechende mehr oder minder zeitgemäße Wege, Schulle ist definitiv gescheitert und hat sich bei Florenz das Leben genommen. Er hinterlässt ein Gedicht mit rätselhaftem Schluss.


Alan Poseners Kolumne: Dienstwagen und Diners

August 28, 2009

Der britisch-deutsche Journalist Alan Posener startet heute eine neue Kolumne. Er wird  wöchentlich das Zeitgeschehen in Politik, Gesellschaft, Wirtschaft und Kultur für HIRAM7 REVIEW unter die Lupe nehmen.

Von Alan Posener
Die Welt / Welt am Sonntag  / HIRAM7 REVIEW

Es ist schon komisch: Milliarden und Abermilliarden gibt die Regierung aus, um Banken zu retten, Firmen vor den Folgen unternehmerischer Fehlentscheidungen zu schützen oder dem Volk vor der Wahl zu neuen Autos zu verhelfen. Und worüber regt sich der Wähler auf?

Über die paar tausend Euro Steuergelder, die Ulla Schmidt verpulvert hat, um ihr Dienstauto und ihren Chauffeur in den Urlaub zu nehmen. Oder über Angela Merkels Geburtstagsessen für Josef Ackermann.

Eine solche Personalisierung der Politik ist Ausdruck einer Infantilisierung. Einer Kapitulation vor der Komplexität. Wer kann aus dem Kopf sagen, worin die Gesundheitsreform eigentlich besteht? Aber es sagt einem doch der gesunde Menschenverstand – also der Neid, dieser verlässlichste aller Sozialinstinkte, dass die Ministerin in Spanien keinen gepanzerten Dienstwagen mitsamt Chauffeur braucht. Unsereiner fährt doch auch Fiat Panda.

Und wer vermag schon zu beurteilen, ob die Banken, die ihrerseits gnadenlos jeden vor die Hunde gehen lassen, der seine Raten nicht zahlen kann, wirklich so systemisch relevant sind, dass sie ihrerseits nicht pleite gehen dürfen?

Aber es sagt einem doch der gesunde Bürgerneid, dass die Kanzlerin unsere Steuergelder nicht verpulvern darf, um  Herrn Ackermann ein Geburtstagsessen auszurichten. Vielleicht schweigt aber auch der Neid. Denn wir mögen die Kanzlerin.

Die Gesundheitsministerin hingegen können wir nicht leiden. Neulich mussten wir für die Zahnfüllung zuzahlen, und der Zahnarzt sagte, das sei wegen der Gesundheitsreform. Und dann fährt sie auch noch mit dem Dienstauto in den Urlaub!

Zwei Drittel aller neu zugelassenen Autos in Deutschland sind Dienstwagen. Man darf annehmen, dass damit auch privat gefahren wird, und dass nicht jede private Fahrt abgerechnet wird. Und wer private Essen als Geschäftsessen abrechnen kann, tut es. Wir haben die Politiker, die wir verdienen. Und gerade das nervt uns.

Natürlich nervt auch die Patzigkeit, mit der die ehemalige Genossin des Kommunistischen Bundes Westdeutschland und heutige Sozialdemokratin Ulla Schmidt ihr Recht auf einen Dienstwagen verteidigt. Ein bisschen Zerknirschtheit wäre angebracht. Deutsche Politiker sollten wenigstens so tun, als gehörten sie zu uns.

Was man Ulla Schmidt vorwerfen kann, ja muss, ist dies: sie hat dieses Grundgesetz der deutschen Politik vergessen. Das ist eher ein intellektuelles als ein moralisches Versagen. Umso schlimmer übrigens. Wie konnte sie glauben, das käme nicht raus? Oder dass sie damit durchkäme? Es kommt immer raus.

Und man kommt damit nicht durch. Es sei denn, man ist französischer Präsident. Aber das ist eine andere Geschichte. 

Die in HIRAM7 REVIEW veröffentlichten Essays und Kommentare geben nicht grundsätzlich den Standpunkt der Redaktion wieder.


17. Filmfest Hamburg mit 142 Filmen aus 42 Ländern

August 26, 2009

Pressemitteilung

Hamburg, den 26. August 2009 – Vom 24. September bis zum 3. Oktober 2009 werden in Hamburg wieder außergewöhnliche Filme aus aller Welt als Deutschland-, Europa- oder Weltpremieren gezeigt.

Nach Bekanntgabe der Filmauswahl von Neuseeland Deluxe, dem jungen Kino aus der Türkei und dem Fokus “Pulsierende Metropolen” veröffentlicht das 17. Filmfest Hamburg weitere Programmhighlights. Bislang sind 142 Filme aus 42 Ländern bestätigt. Bekannte Namen, aber auch ungewöhnliche Entdeckungen präsentieren sich auf dem internationalen Filmfest Hamburg, das sich durch sein breites Spektrum zwischen anspruchsvollem Film und internationalem Glamour auszeichnet. Darunter finden sich Namen wie die US-amerikanische Regie-Ikone Woody Allen und die chinesische Locarno-Gewinnerin Xiaolu Guo.

Filmfest-Leiter Albert Wiederspiel freut sich, “in diesem Jahr so viele Vorstellungen wie nie zuvor zeigen zu können. Dadurch bieten wir unserem Publikum die Gelegenheit, noch mehr Filme zu sehen.” Neben der starken Präsenz weiblicher Regisseure ist auch eine inhaltliche Tendenz zu beobachten: “Auffällig viele Geschichten erzählen sehr persönliche, individuelle Schicksale aus verschiedensten Mikrokosmen. Dabei sind die Filme ganz nahe an ihren Figuren und zeichnen sich durch eine hohe Intimität aus”, so Programmchefin Kathrin Kohlstedde.

Ein Ausblick auf das diesjährige Filmfest-Programm:

Agenda 09
Die diesjährige Locarno-Gewinnerin Xiaolu Guo ist mit gleich zwei ihrer Filme vertreten. Die Doku “Once Upon a Time Proletarian – 12 Tales of a Country” (China) ist eine in zwölf Kapiteln erzählte, subjektive Analyse des heutigen Chinas. Mit dunkler Poesie zeigt der Film scheinbar triviale Begebenheiten, verzweifelte Seelen, einsame Jugendliche und wirft einen ungeschönten, kritischen Blick auf ein Land im Umbruch und eine junge Generation mit ungewisser Zukunft. Guos zweiter Film, der in der Sektion Nordlichter läuft, ist die mit dem Goldenen Leoparden ausgezeichnete Hamburger Koproduktion “She, a Chinese” (Deutschland, Großbritannien, Frankreich).

Gabriele Salvatores, Regisseur des hochgelobten “Ich habe keine Angst” (I’m Not Scared) ist mit seinem neuen Spielfilm “As God Commands” (Italien) vertreten. Der Film erzählt nach dem Roman Niccoló Ammanitis vom Teenager Cristiano, der seinen Vater, einen brutalen Nazi, verehrt. Als ihr gemeinsamer Freund, der leicht behinderte Quattro, Cristianos Freundin mit seiner Traumfrau verwechselt, kommt es zu einem furchtbaren Mord. Eine in ihrer Direktheit fast roh inszenierte Vater-Sohn-Geschichte, die den Zuschauer mit einer visuellen Sprache der Gewalt konfrontiert, die im modernen europäischen Kino ihresgleichen sucht.
 
Woody Allen geht mit seinem neuen Film “Whatever Works” (USA) “back to the roots”, d. h. zurück in seine Heimatstadt New York. Hier spielt die warmherzige Komödie über den exzentrischen Quantenphysiker Yellnikof, der sich nach seiner Nobelpreis-Niederlage und dem Scheitern seiner Ehe als Schachlehrer durchschlägt. Als sich die junge Ausreißerin Melody bei ihm einnistet, steht seine Welt völlig Kopf. Ein Amerika-kritischer Film mit dem klassischen Allen-Touch, der immer wieder die Gelegenheit zu fulminanten Rundumschlägen nutzt.

Mittelpunkt des Schauspieler-Films “Applause” (Dänemark) ist Thea, eine von Sehnsüchten und Begabungen getriebene Theaterdarstellerin, die nicht nur jeden Abend auf der Bühne mit ihrer Figur in “Wer hat Angst vor Virginia Woolfe” ringt, sondern auch gegen die Alkoholsucht und um das Sorgerecht für ihre Söhne kämpft. Zur Premiere von Martin Pieter Zandvliets Spielfilm wird die Hauptdarstellerin Paprika Steen (u.a. “Das Fest”, “Mifune”, “Fear Me Not”) in Hamburg zu Gast sein.

Alex van Warmerdam entfaltet in “The Last Days of Emma Blank” (Belgien, Niederlande) erneut ein absurdes Spiel um Wirklichkeit und Phantasie: In der bizarren Komödie treibt eine pflegebedürftige, diktatorische alte Lady die Angestellten auf ihrem Landsitz mit sonderbaren Anweisungen in den Wahnsinn – bis diese erkennen, dass sie niemals etwas von deren Reichtum erben werden. Ein herrlich überdrehter Film, in dem nichts das ist, was es zu sein scheint.

Mit “The White Meadow” (Iran) stellt Mohammad Rasoulof, der 2005 bei Filmfest Hamburg für “Iron Island” den Preis der Hamburger Filmkritik gewann, ein bildgewaltiges Märchen vor: Die Geschichte über einen alten Tränensammler und seinen blinden Passagier, einen Jungen auf der Suche nach seinem Vater, ist eine schnörkellos erzählte, metaphorische Kino-Reise durch weiße Salzwelten und menschliche Schicksale.

In dem Doku-Thriller “Die Bucht” (USA) von Louie Psihoyos kämpft Ex-TV-“Flipper”-Trainer Richard aka Ric O’Barry gegen den brutalen Missbrauch von Delfinen durch die internationale Unterhaltungsindustrie. Der “Sundance”-Gewinner hat eine Menge Potential, sich zum breiten Publikumsliebling zu entwickeln.

Die Dokumentationen “All Tomorrow’s Parties” (Großbritannien) von Jonathan Caouette und “Burning Down the House: The Story of CBGB” (USA) von Mandy Stein machen Musikgeschichte hautnah erlebbar: Caouette, preisgekrönt für seine erste Doku “Tarnation”, erzählt anhand von Camcorder-Mitschnitten und Handyaufnahmen die Erfolgsgeschichte des einzigartigen All Tomorrow’s Parties-Festivals, dessen Line-Up stets von einem Musiker zusammengestellt wird. Stein spürt mit Archivmaterial, Fotos und alten wie neuen Interviews dem legendären New Yorker Punk-Club CBGB nach, in dem Musikphänomene wie Punk und New Wave quasi geboren wurden.

eurovisuell
Der Zweite-Weltkrieg-Action-Film “Max Manus” (Norwegen/Dänemark/Deutschland) von Joachim Rønning und Espen Sandberg folgt dem titelgebenden norwegischen Widerstandskämpfer vom Ausbruch des zweiten Weltkriegs bis zum Sommer 1945. Der zweite Spielfilm der als “Roenberg” bekannten erfolgreichen Werbefilmer ist nicht nur die teuerste norwegische Filmproduktion aller Zeiten, sondern auch die erfolgreichste: über eine Million Zuschauer sahen den Film innerhalb von sechs Wochen.

Voilà!
In “Coco Chanel & Igor Stravinsky” (Frankreich/Japan) entführt Jan Kounen auf der Basis von Chris Greenhalghs Buch “Coco & Igor” in das Paris der 10er und 20er Jahre. Mit aufwändiger Ausstattung und einem grandiosen Soundtrack erzählt er von der leidenschaftlichen Affäre zweier kreativer Giganten, der Modeschöpferin Coco Chanel und dem verheirateten russischen Komponisten Igor Strawinsky.

Vitrina
Eine kaputte Beziehung, ein abgehalftertes Pop-Idol, ein skandinavischer Tourist und eine ganze Sammlung von Insekten sind die Ingredienzien von “Tourists” (Chile), der bereits auf den Festivals von Los Angeles und Rotterdam mit großem Erfolg lief. Alicia Schersons zweiter Spielfilm erzählt leichthändig und dennoch tiefgründig von emotionalen Desastern und davon, dass wir im Leben letzten Endes vor allem eines sind: Touristen.

Nordlichter
Neben Fatih Akins “Soul Kitchen”, Xiaolu Guos “She, a Chinese”, indem der lange Weg einer lebensgierigen, jungen Frau aus einem chinesischen Dorf in den Westen nachgezeichnet wird, ist auch “Eyes Wide Open” (Israel/Deutschland/Frankreich) von Haim Tabakman in der Sektion für Filme aus Hamburg und Schleswig Holstein zu sehen. Das zurückhaltende, intensive Drama nähert sich einem absoluten Tabuthema, der homosexuellen Liebe in der orthodoxen Glaubensgemeinschaft Jerusalems: Als der tief religiöse Metzger Aaron, Familienvater und angesehenes Mitglied der Gemeinde, sich in einen Mann verliebt, gerät er unter ungeheuren gesellschaftlichen Druck und muss sich zwischen seiner Liebe und seinem Glauben entscheiden.

Weitere Informationen:
Silke Cecilia Schultz
Presse und Kommunikation
Telefon: 040 – 399 19 00-29 oder -17
presse@filmfesthamburg.de / www.filmfesthamburg.de

Das 17. Filmfest Hamburg findet vom 24. September – 3. Oktober 2009 im Abaton Kino, Cinemaxx Dammtor, Metropolis Kino, 3001 Kino und in den Zeise Kinos statt.


Lockerbie Aftermaths

August 24, 2009

MemorialPanAM103

Scotland’s parliament has been recalled for an emergency session today amid mounting international outrage over last week’s release of terrorist Abdel Basset al-Megrahi, convicted for the Lockerbie plane bombing.

Scottish Justice Secretary Kenny MacAskill will address the meeting to defend his decision to free al-Megrahi on “compassionate” grounds. Al-Megrahi was serving a life sentence for the 1988 bombing of Pan Am Flight 103 that killed 270 people, and received a hero’s welcome on return to his home country Libya.

Read full story.


Earl Shugerman’s Corner: Jerusalem

August 24, 2009

Earl Shugerman, will bring every week a serie of stories about Anglo-Saxon immigrants to Israel. This project is aimed to promote a more realistic view of life in Israel.

Chaya is a form of the Hebrew word for life. It is also the name of my favourite cousin in Jerusalem.

She is Orthodox and by the age of thirty has six wonderful children. She is also an American Oleh. Her family immigrated to Israel, two decades ago. Their intention was to be in the holiest city of the holiest nation on earth. My pride and joy is her three year old son El Chanon. El Chanon is a handsome, brilliant, and very precocious young man with dark hair, brown eyes, and a very enchanting but somewhat sly smile. His mom refers to him as a walking Chamsin (turbulent storm), and his proud grandma jokes that he is Israel’s greatest threat to stability. 

Needless to say, life has special meaning to the Jewish people considering the struggles of the past five thousand years culminating with the Holocaust. The heart of Israel is the holy city. For two thousand years Jews living in exile annually chanted “Next Year in Jerusalem”. Jerusalem is the soul of Judaism, the heart of the Jewish homeland. 

 “Without Jerusalem there is no Israel“. David Ben-Gurion stated emphatically to Mickey Marcus, Israel’s first Aloof (General) during the 1948 battle for the city.

Marcus was an American volunteer. Chaya, like most residents of the holy city takes great pride in giving guided tours of her beloved metropolis.

During my last visit, we enjoyed touring the city on Israel’s double decker bus 99. El Chanon managed to get into everything and talk to everyone to the merriment of all, including our bus driver Haim, a resident of the city for forty years and proud grandfather.

Jerusalem Bus

The 99 bus navigates a route of both scenic and cultural interest. Mount Scopus boasts a visage encompassing the Old City, the Temple Mount and Bethlehem. As the Old City passes into the remote distance, the New boasts iconographic sites. The Knesset houses Israel’s parliament. The Yad Vashem Holocaust Memorial is a poignant reminder of a lost world – the 6 million Jews that perished in humanities most insidious crime.  However, the Israel Museum is a testimony to Jewish endurance. It exhibits Judaic items both past and present.

By the end of the tour many of the travellers felt like old friends. Next year in Jerusalem is now.

About the author: Earl Shugerman is a retired American Government public relations specialist,  currently spokesperson in Haifa for The Jewish Agency and a writer specializing in interfaith relations. He has worked together with the Catholic and Southern Baptist Movements, the Reformed Jewish Movement and Muslim groups in interfaith activities.


The Death of Conservatism

August 22, 2009

THE DEATH OF CONSERVATISM

The twenty-first season of American Enterprise Institute (AEI)’s Bradley Lecture Series will commence September 8, 2009 with Sam Tanenhaus, editor of The New York Times Book Review, discussing his book, The Death of Conservatism (Random House, 2009).

Sam Tanenhaus argues that for seventy-five years conservatives have been split into two factions: the “realists” who believe in the virtues of government and the “revanchists” who distrust government and society. He argues that the revanchists have won the argument and that this has caused conservatism to falter.

AEI’s Steven F. Hayward and Henry Olsen will respond to Sam Tanenhaus.

Date: Tuesday, September 8, 2009
Time: 5:00 PM – 6:30 PM
Location: Wohlstetter Conference Center, Twelfth Floor, AEI
1150 Seventeenth Street, N.W., Washington, D.C.

Media Contact: Veronique Rodman
American Enterprise Institute (AEI)
1150 Seventeenth Street, N.W.
Washington, D.C. 20036
Phone: 202-862-4870
E-mail: VRodman@aei.org


Criticism of UN Human Rights Council

August 18, 2009

Seventy-four nongovernmental organizations called for an end to a bloc system that they say allows countries guilty of human rights abuses to hold seats on the UN Human Rights Council.

“We call on all UN member states to bring vote trading arrangements and uncompetitive elections for the council to an end. The credibility of the council and its ability to respond to human rights violations hang in the balance,” the NGOs declared.

The statement comes a month before the Human Rights Council opens its fall session in Geneva.

Read full story.


Festival Interceltique 2009 – Bagad de Lann-Bihoué

August 17, 2009

festival-interceltique2009

Ensemble traditionnel de musique bretonne, le bagad de Lann-Bihoué a vu le jour en 1952 sur la base aéronautique navale de Lann-Bihoué, près de Lorient.

Cette formation musicale militaire est unique en son genre. En effet, elle est la seule à représenter à la fois la Marine nationale française et la culture celtique avec un répertoire bigarré dans le cadre de diverses manifestations nationales et internationales, notamment lors du 39ème Festival Interceltique, qui s’est déroulé du 31 juillet au 9 août 2009.


Earl Shugerman’s Corner: Welcome to Israel!

August 16, 2009

Earl Shugerman, will bring every week a serie of stories about Anglo-Saxon immigrants to Israel. This project is aimed to promote a more realistic view of life in Israel.

English speaking Olim have a myriad of organisations and groups to support their new life in Israel. The largest private organisation that supports all English speaking Olim is the AACI (Association of Americans and Canadians in Israel). It has offices throughout Israel.

The author of this article is especially appreciative of the AACI’s sterling work. The efforts of Yanina proved invaluable during my acclimation.

AACI, a voluntary, non-profit organization, was established in 1951 to help North American immigrants acclimate to Israeli society and to build strong ties between North American Jewish communities and Israel. AACI is governed by a lay board and administered by a professional staff. Its many activities are financed through the support of foundations, annual membership dues, an annual fundraising drive and private donations.

AACI provides a wealth of services and programs to cater for its membership:

  • Professional counseling on Aliyah and Klitah (absorption)

  • Employment Resource Center

  • Emergency, mortgage and small business loans

  • Support groups

  • Advice Sessions: tax, banking, translation and more

  • Legal consultations

  • Blood bank privileges

  • The AACI Cohen Library for the Visually Impaired

  • Senior Outreach

AACI Acts can move mountains when its members’ welfare is at stake.

AACI Acts:

  • Lobbied successfully to modify the effect of new Israeli tax laws on immigrants;

  • Produced and distributed a free Emergency Handbook and held gas mask demonstrations prior to and during the Gulf War;

  • Confronted the social, economic and psychological pressures affecting its membership through the Seniors Outreach Project.

AACI Build Community offers a warm and welcoming environment, with special programs targeting families, young adults, mid-lifers and seniors. Members participate in:

  • Welcome Home events for new olim (immigrants)

  • Home Hospitality

  • 4th of July/Canada Day & Thanksgiving Celebrations

  • AACI Travel Experience & Study Vacations

  • Social and Cultural Programs,

  • Lectures and more

Our regional representative, Yanina, is an American immigrant herself. For a number of years, she has assisted new Olim in overcoming all the obstacles. Her force is a calm disposition, which comes with years of experience. Yanina is supported by a group of volunteers including Laurie Rubin.

Laurie recalls her own Aliyah:

I met then-boyfriend, Miles, in San Francisco in 1981 and soon into our dating, he was clear about wanting to move to Israel. Our relationship developed and so did our plans to eventually marry and move to Israel.

We lived for 9 months at the Merkaz Klita in Kiryat Yam, which was difficult for me. I went to ulpan there (didn’t know one word of Hebrew) while Miles started his job at Technion. Unfortunately, we didn’t have any family or friends in Israel at that time and felt quite lonely.

It was AACI that helped me greatly in making me feel more “settled”. A wonderful volunteer visited me in Kiryat Yam, I attended classes at the moadon in Haifa, met people, volunteered and before I knew it, I had my “anchor”.

Since then, things have only gotten better. Moved to our own apartment, had 2 children, met lots more people, got various jobs…It’s still extremely difficult not having family around (I’m lucky to be able to visit them twice a year), but friends have become like family. I’m very active as a volunteer for AACI (Friendly Caller to new people), participate with the Haifa English Theatre, work as a teacher of Business English in hi-tech and go to the gym frequently among other activities.

Today Laurie is one of Haifa’s biggest promoters.

For those of you would like to learn more, you can read Lauries article here.

***

Our next article will be a tour of Israels holiest city, Jerusalem, with my cousin Naomi and her 3 years old son Elchanan who is our favourite Israeli citizen.

About the author: Earl Shugerman is a retired American Government public relations specialist,  currently spokesperson in Haifa for The Jewish Agency and a writer specializing in interfaith relations. He has worked together with the Catholic and Southern Baptist Movements, the Reformed Jewish Movement and Muslim groups in interfaith activities.


USA to resume training Georgian troops

August 13, 2009

The United States will resume training Georgia troops to prepare them for service in Afghanistan, despite the possibility that the move could anger Russia. Pentagon officials say the training will not cover skills that would be useful for fighting Russia’s military.

Read full story.


Lockerbie bomber may be freed

August 13, 2009

Several news reports say Britain will release from a Scottish prison Abdel Basset al-Megrahi, a former Libyan secret service agent convicted of the 1988 Lockerbie bombing that killed 270 people. Scottish Justice Minister Kenny MacAskill denied the reports that a decision has already been made, but said he is taking into consideration whether al-Megrahi, who has terminal cancer, should be freed on compassionate grounds.

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The reports that al-Megrahi would be released aroused ardent debate between family members of the Lockerbie victims. Al-Megrahi is serving a life sentence for the December 1988 bombing of Pan Am flight 103 over the Scottish town of Lockerbie. Most of the victims were U.S. citizens.

Reuters considers the implications of al-Megrahi’s release for Libya.

The Times of London looks at divisions between U.S. and British relatives of Lockerbie victims over the news that al-Megrahi may be freed, noting that many British family members have long doubted his guilt and are supporting his release.

The BBC has an audio slideshow of the Lockerbie bombing.

The Guardian profiles al-Megrahi.


World Jewish Congress President Ronald S. Lauder: Mideast Peace Starts With Respect

August 12, 2009

In an op-ed in The Wall Street Journal, the president of the World Jewish Congress argues that Palestinians must recognize Israel as a Jewish state. Read the full contribution of Ronald S. Lauder below.

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Mideast Peace Starts With Respect

The Wall Street Journal – August 11, 2009

by Ronald S. Lauder

Note to Obama: The Palestinians still haven’t recognized the Jewish state.

More than one American president has tried to bring peace to the Middle East, and more than one has failed. So as the Obama administration outlines its own prospectus for a comprehensive settlement to Israel’s conflict with the Palestinians and the wider Arab world, it would do well to take note of some potential pitfalls.

Rule No. 1: Respect the sovereignty of democratic allies. When free people in a democracy express their preferences, the United States should respect their opinions. The current administration should not try to impose ideas on allies like Israel.

The administration would also do well to take heed of the Palestinian Authority’s continued refusal to recognize Israel as the nation-state of the Jewish people. This is not a trivial matter. A long-term settlement can only be forged on the basis of mutual recognition and respect. To deny the essence of the Zionist project—to rebuild the Jewish people’s ancient homeland—is to call into question the seriousness of one’s commitment to peace.

It is a sad statement of the Palestinians’ approach to peace-making that denial of the Jewish homeland is not simply contained in the openly anti-Semitic leadership of Hamas. It is a widespread belief across the spectrum of Palestinian opinion. This reality must be confronted.

Today’s leadership must never forget that the core historic reason for the conflict is the Arab world’s longstanding rejection of Israel’s existence. The two-state solution was accepted by Israel’s pre-state leadership led by David Ben-Gurion in 1947 when it agreed to the partition plan contained in United Nation’s General Assembly Resolution 181. The Arabs flatly rejected it. As Secretary of State Hillary Clinton knows all too well, President Bill Clinton’s peace plans in 2000 foundered due to Palestinian rejection of the Jewish state, even as Israel, once again, accepted their right to statehood.

More recent experience in Europe also offers lessons about the dangers of negotiating with terrorists. Over the past year, officials from Britain, France and the European Union all held talks with officials from the “political wing” of Hezbollah in a bid to get the terrorist group to moderate its behavior. Hezbollah is undoubtedly grateful for the legitimacy that these meetings have conferred, but it is not laying down its arms. Indeed, according to a recent report from the Times of London, the group has now stockpiled 40,000 rockets close to the Israeli border.

To be sure, we must have hope. Peace agreements with Egypt and Jordan are useful models. Nonetheless, the recent rebuffs by Jordan, Kuwait and Saudi Arabia of efforts by the Obama administration to promote a more conciliatory attitude to Israel offer a salient reminder that those who started this conflict may not yet be in a mood to end it, whatever their rhetoric to the contrary.

And then there are the settlements. Undoubtedly, this is a complex matter. Yet the administration must beware of overemphasizing it. Compromises between people of goodwill can be made on the settlements, as Israel has demonstrated in the recent past. But no compromise can be made on Israel’s right to exist inside secure borders unmolested by terrorist groups or threatened by belligerent states.

That’s why an unambiguous strategy explaining precisely how Hamas and Hezbollah can be disarmed and how Iran can be prevented from acquiring nuclear weapons is of central importance to any peace plan.

The administration must also be wary of letting Israel’s opponents use the settlement issue as a convenient excuse for failing to make moves of their own. The settlements matter, but they do not go to the core of this decades-old conflict.

Making peace in the Middle East is an unenviable task. It is also a noble calling. To be successful, it will require patience and fortitude. It will also require an ability to stand above the fray, to see the problems for what they are, and the courage to confront them at their source.


Earl Shugerman’s Corner: The Sabra

August 11, 2009

Earl Shugerman, will bring every week a serie of stories about Anglo-Saxon immigrants to Israel. This project is aimed to promote a more realistic view of life in Israel.

The term Sabra has been traditionally used to refer to native born Israelis. It is believed that the Sabra {lit meaning cactus} is hard and prickly, but in reality this is an unfair characterisation. In contrast, Sabras are warm and welcoming. Israel’s diverse community is a testimony to a spirit of camaraderie. On an annual basis, the country has embraced a burgeoning number of immigrants. It also remains committed to realising a peaceful accord with its Arab neighbours.

Israelis are forced to live three lives: That of a soldier, citizen and peace-maker. Jesse Lachter is a leader in all three respects.

Dr. Jesse Lachter has lived in Haifa, Israel since making aliya in 1979. He was born and raised in the USA and is a native of Wisconsin. He is married and has four children, aged 7-22. He is a physician at the renowned Rambam Medical Facility. When duty calls, he is a senior officer in the IDF (Israel Defence Force) reserves. His social activism spans teaching in a Reform synagogue, environmental issues, bi-national Israeli-American issues, and advocacy of pluralism. He considers himself a peacenik. During the Second Lebanon War, Jesse treated wounded civilians and soldiers in Haifa and Nahariya. 

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Dr. Jesse Lachter’s War Blog – July 27, 2006

Shalom all,

them were soldiers. Rambam hospital, where I did bikkur holim (sick visits) today has about 50 people now hospitalised due to war injuries, and more are coming in each day. The relevant medical staffs are working round the clock. Rambam has lots of experience in trauma care including mass injuries. The mechanisms are all in place in case things get even worse.

The stories of the patients and their families are sometimes heartbreaking, sometimes inspiring. A pilot regained consciousness after a week. His helicopter fell a great distance and the co-pilot died. His mother told me she feels she got her son back – although he’s still in intensive care, with many injuries. This will necessitate lots of support. Soldiers from the Golani brigade, who are now side-by side in medical wards, were yesterday fighting tough face-to-face battles. Several soldiers were injured. Of course, there are also people, generally civilians, who come to the hospital unable to cope emotionally. The frequent blaring sirens, the blasting and thudding echoing sounds of missiles landing – the noises and the opposing silence of the streets and silencing of the lives of so many, leads to a breakdown of coping ability even among people who are generally resilient.

What can anyone do to try to ameliorate the situation?

The Israeli Movement for Progressive Judaism set up a refuge for citizens of the North, especially those with children, using a site in the South of Israel. People who have been bombarded and terrorized over the past weeks can find respite from the bombing and there has been financial support for this from Israel and from abroad. In my new volunteer elected position as Deputy Chairman of the National Committee of the Israel Movement for Progressive Judaism, we continue to find ways to help people from the bombarded communities of the North.

Rabbi Avi Weiss of Riverdale, flew in from New York and I joined him in meeting the wounded and making visits of spiritual support and chaplaincy. Several Israelis including lay groups and VIPs made bikkur holim supportive visits.

The synagogue I belong to, Or Hadash, had all its bar mitzvah ceremonies cancelled. The day camp for kids was cancelled. Incoming monies expected will not come in, but salaries and bills will have to be paid.

I wanted to share my impressions with as many sympathetic ears as possible. As I write, the sirens in Haifa just began again – time to huddle the family together in the safest spot in the house until a boom passes and we are once again rattled. Israel will survive, and we are firm in our resolve to reduce the threats from Hezbollah. We hope and pray for a speedy resolution of the current conflict.

image2

***

Three years later, we’ve had another conflict in Gaza. In that respect, the country sadly remains on a war footing. However, efforts to build peaceful relations continue. The authors of this column have been privileged to participate in peace building initiatives at our Synagogue.

We have had youth soccer games with our Muslim friends and neighbours the local Ahmaddiyah. The local Focolare meeting was cited in the previous article. Furthermore, a television show was broadcast throughout the World.  It documented a sports event (run4unity) involving Muslims, Christians and Jews. Everyone indulged in the affable atmosphere.

One of Dr. Lachters projects is to develop a dialogue with the Druze of Northern Israel. Their faith is an offshoot of Islam. The Druze are among the most loyal Israelis and serve in the army. They have produced many of Israel’s predominant physicians, academics and soldiers.

image3

In our next article, we will convey our gratitude to the AACI – the reputable group assisting immigrants from the US and Canada to settle in the Holy Land. We will expand on some of their social activities and how Israelis enjoy life in one of the most beautiful and complex nations.

About the author: Earl Shugerman is a retired American Government public relations specialist, and currently spokesperson in Haifa for the Jewish Agency and a writer specializing in interfaith relations. He has worked together with the Catholic and Southern Baptist Movements, the Reformed Jewish Movement and Muslim groups in interfaith activities.


Leadership as Practical Ethics

August 8, 2009

A paper Leadership as Practical Ethics written by Dr. Joel Rosenthal, President of the Carnegie Council for Ethics in International Affairs, and presented at the US Army War College cosponsored research colloquium, Leadership and National Security Reform, is available at the Carnegie Council webseite.

“What does one need to know to be a leader in the field of public policy? I want to argue for the centrality of ethics as a basic component of leadership training for anyone pursuing a career in public and international affairs.

If you are a student, please take a moment to ask yourself what you have learned about ethics in your time in the classroom. If you are a teacher or administrator, consider what your curriculum covers in this regard. We know that medical students engage medical ethics, law students study legal ethics, business students take on business ethics, military officers study military ethics, and so on. So let’s ask ourselves, what should students and aspiring leaders in public affairs know about ethics to be considered professionals competent to practice?

By ethics, I do not mean simply compliance with law. Compliance is of course an essential part of ethics. But it is only a beginning. Compliance is a floor, a minimum upon which to build. Many actions in government, business, or private life comply with the law but are not optimal from an ethical perspective.

Examples are all around us. British members of parliament may not have broken laws when they used expense accounts to bill tax payers for lifestyle enhancements such as moat cleaning, the upkeep of expensive second homes, or the rental of adult movies. But surely this kind of behavior was wrong. In more serious policy matters, it may well be that most of our major banks and financial institutions were in full compliance with the law when it came to the management of credit default swaps and derivative trading. Yet something went very wrong in the area of risk and responsibility. There are many things we can do and still be in compliance with law—but some of them are wrong. Ethical reasoning helps us make these distinctions.”

Read full story.


Happy Invertising Summer!

August 8, 2009

Carissimi,

vi auguro una felice estate con un video, che spero possa ispirare la nostra pausa, per rientrare al lavoro con rinnovate energie per affrontare tutto il nuovo che ci aspetta.

Ci vediamo a Settembre per progettare il futuro della comunicazione.

Saluti

Alexandre Gabriel Levy

New Business Director
Ogilvy
www.ogilvy.com


Send Bill Clinton a birthday card

August 5, 2009
billclintonfoundationClintonPessimism is an excuse for not trying and a guarantee to a personal failure. (William Jefferson Clinton, born 19. August 1946 in Hope, Arkansas)

Press Release

William J. Clinton Presidential Center, Little Rock (Arkansas), August 5, 2009

After 40 years of friendship, Bill Clinton still inspires me daily with his intellect, compassion, and energy.

To celebrate President Clinton’s upcoming birthday on August 19, I invite you to send him a personalized birthday e-card, along with a gift to sustain his Foundation’s work.

Your e-card will make his special day even happier. And your gift will let him know that you remain dedicated to creating positive change for people in need.

Thanks to your valuable support and President Clinton’s extraordinary vision:

  • Two million people in developing countries now have access to low-priced HIV/AIDS medicine, and we’ve just negotiated new pricing agreements that will enable better, cheaper treatments for more patients in the developing world.
  • Thousands of schools across the United States have put healthy-eating and exercising programs into practice, so that more children are leading healthier lives.
  • To combat climate change, 40 of the world’s largest cities are making progress in reducing their carbon footprint.

Your donation today will help the Clinton Foundation continue to make a significant impact in the lives of hundreds of millions of people around our world.

I know your birthday e-cards and donations will mean a whole lot to President Clinton.

Thank you for your support,

Bruce Lindsey
Chief Executive Officer
William J. Clinton Foundation


Earl Shugerman’s Corner: The Focolare Movement

August 5, 2009

Earl Shugerman will bring every week a serie of stories about Anglo-Saxon immigrants to Israel. This project is aimed to promote a more realistic view of life in Israel.

I feel that this is the most important article that anyone could write about life in Israel. Israel is a multi-cultural nation of roughly seven million citizens. Israel is the Jewish homeland but not a Jewish Country.

Roughly one fourth of Israel’s citizens are Muslims, Christians, and Druze. We all manage to live together in a fairly democratic society that is going through its’ share of “growing pains”. The majority of Israelis participate in activities to build an even more democratic society.

I want to thank my friends at The Focolare, The Ahmadiyya, and my mentor Rabbi Edgar Nof for inviting me to share in these inspirational efforts. Rabbi Edgar is the spiritual leader of Or Hadash synagogue in Haifa and a community leader in interfaith activities. He and his wife Devorah are American “olim”.
 
The author of this column had the privilege of participating in the first activity of its kind {to our knowledge} in Israel. I attended this years annual Focolare convention from July 30th until August 2nd, 2009.

The venue of choice was Nes Ammim, a Christian Kibbutz and Interfaith peace Center. Jews, Muslims and various Christian denominations attended from Israel and Western Europe. This was the first time that these groups participated together in this annual event.  
 
This 4 day convention was based on the central tenet of The Focolare – Unity for all mankind. This organisation, which operates in 183 countries worldwide, advocates the Golden Rule.
 
The Focolare Movement crystallised during World War II. In the face of abject misery and darkness, Chiara Lubich was imbued with renewed hope. The light of religion smiled upon her. As her home of Trente was gripped in conflict, she found comfort in the teachings of the Gospel. Love and the Divine were the twin bastions for unifying a disparate and belligerent world. Focolare literally means Fire. It’s warmth and illumination were born out of the last embers of humanities darkest hour.

Focolare Founder: Chiara Lubich

Focolare Founder: Chiara Lubich

In 1948, the State of Israel was established. After the wanton genocide perpetrated against the Jewish People, it was a cause celebrate. Following two millennia in the Diaspora, the descendants of Judea Capta could return to their ancestral roots. However, the country was relatively impoverished and large tracts were denuded of forestry. Furthermore, bellicose neighbours threatened the fledgling entity and disrupted the lives of all its citizens.

Nes Ammim

Nes Ammim

In a demonstration of affinity for the new country, European Christians settled in Northern Israel and embarked upon the construction of Nes Ammim. The eponym means “banner of nations“ (Isaiah 11:10). It was indicative of the diverse Christian population, who were major proponents of the Jewish State.
 
In a series of dialogues, we discussed The Focolare’s affiliates and activities. We encouraged everyone to become acquainted and sought ways to find common ground. Furthermore, those present entertained an informal discussion about spirituality.

I left the dialogues having benefited as an individual. I came to understand that true spirituality starts from within, but is greatly enhanced by sharing with others.
 
The highlight was a Christian group of German teenagers singing “We will Overcome“ in English and German. Children from other organisations sang spiritually uplifting tunes in Hebrew, English and Arabic. More than anything, watching the enthusiastic kids made the seminar a wonderful experience.
 
The old adage of “a small world“ springs to mind. One German youth had toured the US. Whilst there, he indulged in the delectable dishes of my favourite restaurant in Houston. Evidently, neither of us claim a Texan heritage. What were the odds on both of us having been there? As stated in my previous article, “ Food is the great universal unifier”.
 
The unsilent majority of Israel consistently promotes the notion of unity or “Ichud”. The domestic and international press seriously neglects this newsworthy item.
 
Our next column discusses the interfaith activities that American immigrants and I have been blessed to enjoy while building our lives in The Land of Canaan.

Earl Shugerman


Former U.S. President Bill Clinton in North Korea

August 4, 2009
 

John Fitzgerald Kennedy shaking hands with teenager Bill Clinton.

John Fitzgerald Kennedy shaking hands with teenager Bill Clinton.

Former U.S. President Bill Clinton made a surprise visit to North Korea to try to convince the government to liberate two imprisoned U.S. journalists.

The journalists – Euna Lee and Laura Ling, of U.S. media outlet Current TV – were arrested on the North Korea-China border in March. The women were sentenced to twelve years of hard labour for entering the country illegally and for “hostile acts.”

Bill Clinton is well respected in North Korea, as he almost visited Pyongyang toward the end of his presidency, and because he met with North Korea’s top military commander, Jo Myong-rok, in Washington in 2000. North Korea and the United States also made a deal to freeze plutonium-based nuclear reactor at Yongbyon under the Clinton administration.

Former South Korean government official Park Chan-bong tells the Wall Street Journal the talks will probably serve as a launching point for bilateral discussions between the two countries.

Read full story.


The targeting of Israel and Darfur by the Arab world

August 2, 2009

by Dr. Kenneth Levin

The world’s media have given scant coverage lately to the ongoing genocide in Darfur, and – despite extensive reporting on Israel and the Arab-Israeli conflict – they have likewise offered little on the continuing campaign of genocidal incitement against Israel by her enemies.

While seeming very separate issues, the two campaigns, and the choice by media and world leaders largely to ignore both, are, in fact, connected.

On one level, of course, the connection is obvious. Israel-hatred is spearheaded by the Arab world; in virtually every Arab nation, demonizing and delegitimizing of Israel, and often of Jews, is a staple of government-controlled media, schools and mosques. This is true even of the Arab states with which Israel is formally at peace. At the same time, the Arab world is the chief support of fellow Arab leader Omar Hassan al-Bashir and his Sudanese regime’s genocidal assault on the Muslim blacks of Darfur. Illustrative was the Arab League’s unanimous, effusive embrace and defense of al-Bashir at its meeting in Doha, Qatar, in March, shortly after his indictment by the International Criminal Court for war crimes and crimes against humanity.

Efforts at mass murder directed at Israel and the genocidal assault on the Muslim but non-Arab people of Darfur flow from the same mindset.

Tunisian human rights activist Mohammed Bechri several years ago argued that to understand Arab support for the genocide in Darfur, one has to recognize the “twin fascisms” – Bechri’s term – that dominate the Arab world: Islamism and Pan-Arabism. The first rejects the legitimacy of any non-Muslim group within what the Arabs perceive as their proper domain; the latter takes the same view towards any non-Arab group. The genocidal rhetoric, and efforts at mass murder, directed at Israel, and the genocidal assault on the Muslim but non-Arab people of Darfur follow from this mindset. (Bechri’s “twin fascisms” also account for the besiegement of Christians across the Arab world and backing for Sudan’s murder of some two million Christian and animist blacks in the south of the country. They help explain as well broad Arab support for the mass murder of Kurds – a Muslim but non-Arab people – in Iraq by Saddam Hussein and for the besiegement of the Kurds of Syria and the Berbers – another non-Arab Muslim group – in Algeria.)

But the connection between animosity towards Israel and coldness towards the victims in Darfur extends beyond the Arab world. It embraces, for example, all those European leaders who bend their consciences to accommodate Arab power – in oil, money and strategic territories – and who may pay lip service to recognizing the murderous incitement and related threats faced by Israel or to deploring the crimes suffered by Darfur but refuse to take serious steps to curb either.

Nor are American leaders entirely free of similar predilections. President Bush (43) was certainly sympathetic to Israel’s predicament. But he sought to assuage Arab opinion by pushing for rapid movement towards a Palestinian state and endorsing Machmoud Abbas as Israel’s “peace” partner, even as Abbas refused to recognize the legitimacy of a Jewish state, consistently praised anti-Israel terror and stood fast in demanding a “right of return” that would turn Israel into yet another Arab-dominated entity. (On Darfur, the “moderate” Abbas responded to the ICC indictment by declaring, “We must also take a decisive stance of solidarity alongside fraternal Sudan and President Omar al-Bashir.”) Regarding Darfur, President Bush led the way in condemning Sudan’s campaign of mass murder and rape and first calling it a genocide. But — already attacked for the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan — he was not prepared to act aggressively against a third Muslim nation, even though doing so would have been aimed at saving hundreds of thousands of Muslim lives.

President Obama has adopted winning over Arab and broader Muslim opinion as a foreign policy priority and he has shown little interest in according more than verbal acknowledgment to the threats facing Israel. At the same time, those in the Muslim world whose good opinion he is most seeking to win are not the Muslims of Darfur but rather Darfur’s oppressors and their supporters. Some of President Obama’s ardent backers have expressed dismay, and have been openly critical of him, for what they see as his reneging on campaign pledges to put Darfur at the top of his agenda. (For example, Kirsten Powers, “Bam’s Darfur Sins,” in the New York Post, May 11, 2009). But given his focus on appeasing Muslims hostile to America, his inaction on Darfur should not surprise.

In major Western media as well, deference to Arab opinion vis-a-vis Israel has generally been accompanied by silence on the central role of the Arab world in providing support for Sudan’s actions in Darfur. While the Arab League’s embrace in Doha of Sudanese President al-Bashir was widely reported, few major outlets offered editorial criticism of the Arab stance — The Washington Post being a notable exception. The New York Times, which for decades has used both “news stories” and editorials to argue that Israeli concessions are the key to peace and has refused to cover the genocidal incitement against Israel and Jews endemic in Palestinian and broader Arab media, mosques and schools, offered no editorial opinion on the Doha meeting.

Kristoff generally avoided the Arab role in supporting the genocide.

Several years ago, the Times‘ Nicholas Kristof won a Pulitzer Prize for his op-ed coverage of the slaughter in Darfur. Kristof is a constant critic of Israel and, like his bosses, avoids the issue of rejection of Israel’s legitimacy, and promotion of genocidal hatred towards the Jewish state, by its Arab neighbors. In a similar vein, for all his extensive writing on Darfur, he generally avoided the Arab role in supporting the genocide. In some forty op-eds on Darfur published between March, 2004, and April, 2006, shortly after he won the Pulitzer, Kristof devoted only five sentences to Arab backing of the Sudanese regime, and that in an article focused on China’s shameful complicity in Darfur.

But if all this not is very surprising, there are also more curious aspects to the convergence of animosity, often of murderous dimensions, towards Israel and sympathy for, or at least indulgence of, those who perpetrate the genocide in Darfur.

For example, while Egypt has not overtly broken with the unanimous Arab League support for al-Bashir, Egyptian President Mubarak chose not to attend the Doha conference, and he and some other Arab leaders have been worried about the Islamist Sudanese regime’s close ties to Iran and to Iran’s radical Arab allies, Syria, Hezbollah and Hamas. Yet a number of Western leaders, who advocate “dialogue” with Iran, Syria, Hezbollah and Hamas, prefer to ignore their genocidal agenda towards Israel and their leading role in aiding Sudan’s genocidal government – in effect, outpacing Egyptian backing of al-Bashir by soft-pedaling the role in Sudan of those most supportive of al-Bashir’s murderous regime.

Iran has long given extensive financial assistance to the Sudanese government, has provided its forces with weapons and training and has underwritten Chinese provision of arms to al-Bashir. Sudan, again with Iran serving as financier and mid-wife, has also been a training ground for Hamas, fostering as well an ongoing cross-fertilization between Hamas and the militias responsible for the Darfur genocide. Hezbollah and Syria have likewise been in the forefront of Sudan’s supporters and enablers.

Following the International Criminal Court’s action against al-Bashir, a delegation of his radical allies quickly arrived in Khartoum in a show of solidarity with their indicted brother. It included the speaker of Iran’s parliament, Ali Larijani, Hamas leader Moussa Abu Marzouk, Syrian parliament speaker Mahmoud al-Abrash and an official of Hezbollah. Hamas also sponsored a large pro-Sudan march in Gaza.

But inevitably, Khartoum’s allies’ contributions to the Darfur genocide, like their promotion of genocide vis-a-vis Israel, are ignored by those eager for diplomatic engagement with them.

Also in early March, around the time of the ICC indictment, the British Foreign Office, led by Foreign Secretary David Miliband, announced its agreement to talks with Hezbollah. More recently, European Union foreign policy chief Javier Solana and French Foreign Minister Bernard Kouchner have met with Hezbollah representatives. Hezbollah head Nasrallah’s commitment to the murder of all Jews – as in his 2002 statement that “if [the Jews] all gather in Israel, it will save us the trouble of going after them worldwide” (in the past Hezbollah has gone after them as far afield as in Argentina) – was hardly something Miliband and the Foreign Office, or the Quai D’Orsay, or Solana and the European Union, or those British and continental media sympathetic to Hezbollah, were about to note. Nor were they going to note Hezbollah’s support for Sudan’s policies in Darfur.

Similarly, those many European leaders promoting engagement with Hamas typically avoid acknowledging Hamas’s call in its charter for the slaughter of all Jews, its teaching Palestinian children – in its schools and on children’s television – that Jews are eternal enemies of Islam and must be annihilated, and its other purveying of genocidal Jew-hatred. In April, the Dutch Labor party demanded that the European Union sanction Israel if it refuses to accept Hamas as a negotiating partner. Dutch Labor party leaders and like-minded European politicians, in their efforts to push acceptance of Hamas, soft-pedal its aims regarding Israelis and Jews and likewise say little about Hamas’s support of and contributions to Sudan’s genocidal assault on the blacks of Darfur.

European media that are hostile to Israel also virtually ignore Hamas’s genocidal policies and actions regarding both Israel and Darfur. British news outlets such as The Guardian and The Independent, which had barely covered years of Hamas rocket and mortar attacks on Israeli communities, or Hamas use of civilians and civilian facilities as shields for its attacks, but excoriated Israel when it responded with its assault on Hamas beginning in December, 2008, are likewise essentially silent regarding Hamas’s promotion of mass murder in Israel and support for mass murder in Darfur. The same is true for myriad news outlets on the Continent.

Most American political leaders have shunned Hamas for its commitment — in words and deeds – to Israel’s destruction and for its genocidal agenda. (There are some notable exceptions such as Jimmy Carter, who has met with Hamas chief Khaled Meshaal and urged including Hamas in “peace” talks.) But many American media organizations, particularly those, like the New York Times, most committed to portraying Israeli policy as the major obstacle to peace, have followed their European counterparts in saying little of Hamas’s genocidal policies regarding Jews or of its support for Sudan’s genocidal policies in Darfur.

Even people whom one might expect to identify most closely with the victims of the Darfur genocide often do nothing, or limit their actions to words, or actually lend support to the perpetrators, in large part because of pro-Arab sympathies or hostility to Israel. Congress has one Muslim black representative, Minnesota’s Keith Ellison, and Ellison has at times spoken out against the Darfur genocide. In April, for example, he joined a protest at the Sudanese embassy in Washington and was arrested along with other demonstrators. But Ellison has consistently supported pro-Hamas groups in America. He also aggressively embraced the Hamas line in last winter’s Gaza War in terms of alleged civilian casualties and Israeli misdeeds while remaining silent on Hamas use of civilians and civilian facilities as shields for attacks on Israel. Ellison has likewise never publicly addressed Hamas’s alliance with Sudan and its backing of Sudanese policies in Darfur. Alignment with those arrayed against Israel seems to trump criticism of those arrayed against Darfur for the Minnesota congressman.

The major force driving genocidal agendas toward Israel and Darfur is, again, Arab supremacism. It is abetted in the wider world by power politics, as well as by, in many quarters, a twisted ideological allegiance whose credo requires that hostility to the Jewish state and consequent sympathy for, or prettifying of, those dedicated to her destruction trumps sympathy for Darfur and criticism of those participating in its people’s annihilation. The overall result is that powerful links between murderous hatred towards Israel and support for, or at least accommodation of, genocide in Darfur are a fixture of today’s geopolitics and go largely unchallenged.

A longer version of this article originally appeared on www.frontpagemag.com.

Reprinted with kindly permission of Aish HaTorah International.


Earl Shugerman’s Corner: Israeli Food

August 2, 2009

Earl Shugerman will bring every week a serie of stories about Anglo-Saxon immigrants to Israel. This project is aimed to promote a more realistic view of life in Israel.

Food – Glorious Food!

Food is the universal peace-maker. Bagel is a household name and in this day and age, most Americans find that Bagel and cream cheese is almost as common as mum and apple pie. Pizza Hut, McDonald’s, Burger King and Dominos are an integral part of Israeli society.

While recently planning a trip to Jordan, I worried about eating properly. However, I was reassured following a query on the internet. There were four pizza huts alone in downtown Amman. Yesterday, I went to the University bookstore, which has the best reading variety in town. The University has a wide array of. On the way out of the bookstore, I noticed three children and their mother conversing in Arabic. Each happened to be holding a box of my favorite American delicacy – Oreos. I inquired gently as to where they had purchased them. They responded by stating that they were readily available at the bookstore!

I abruptly returned to the cashier, where I hoped to find the treasured food. As Murphy’s Law would have it, I was piped to the post. The customer in front of me, stole my thunder and ferreted away the very last box.

The three young children watched with a sympathetic glance. They offered to share their snacks with me. Their mother watched with a smile. I responded with a Todah they in turn acknowledged with Shalom Alechem (Peace unto you) and G-d Bless America in perfect English!

One of the wonderful things about living in a multi-cultural society like Israel is that there are many distinctive menus on offer. It is common to sit at an eatery and to share dinner and conversation with people from a myriad of backgrounds.

I would like to thank my friend Albert for helping me to write this very important article about food in Israel.

The Israeli diet is rich in vegetables, fruit, salads, and dairy products. The staples of the Israeli diet are humus, falafel, and Israeli salad. Humus and Falafel are chickpea products. Humus is a paste like form of chickpea usually eaten with pita bread. Falafel is chickpea formed into small balls, fried, and eaten in pita bread as a sandwich. Both Hummus and Falafel are eaten with or without vegetables and several possible sauces. Israeli salad is a combination of tomatoes, cucumbers, onions, and parsley, served with Israeli salad dressing, a combination of salt, lemon and olive oil.

Israelis enjoy a barbecue at least once a month. Lamb kebab, chicken breasts, beef flanks, and shwarma or roasted lamb are the favorite meat choices. Yes! Israelis like a cold beer, a glass of wine and even Jack Daniels.

Haifa has a wide variety of dining places that include corner falafel stands, high quality multi-national restaurants, and American fast food restaurants. For those of us who can’t live without a Big Mac or Pizza Hut, don’t worry-be happy! Whilst Hebrew language may date back five thousand years, the most universal words are Shalom and Pizza please!

Outdoor cafes are both a source of nutrition and social activity, serving light meals, several varieties of coffee, and a wonderful array of baked goods. Like the rest of Israel, Haifa has a wonderful range of finer restaurants that include foods from all over the world.

Many of Israel’s other sea front communities offer you the choice of dining in modern western style malls, or traditional inner city spots, or dining on the seashore with the Mediterranean as an aesthetic backdrop. Due to the nature of the Israeli diet, food costs are usually lower than in the United States.  American style grocery stores abound in Israel, as do small local shops and the shuks or outdoor markets.

The larger grocery stores do carry American canned and packaged products such as Oreos and Campbell’s soup. They also offer non-grocery items such as healthcare products, beauty aids and clothing. Most stores and restaurants in Israel accept major credit cards although some accept only those issued in Israel. Most Tourist Bureaus offer a comprehensive list of local dining.

As always,

Shalom and Salam.

Earl Shugerman and Harvey Miller