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The Status Quo Jews and Paul Ryan

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Mitt Romney (left) and Paul Ryan at a campaign rally in Manassas, VA, on Aug. 12.  (Photo credit: Monkeyz_uncle/Wikimedia Commons)Jewish conservatives applauded Mitt Romney’s choice of U.S. Rep. Paul Ryan (R-WI) as his vice presidential nominee. But Jewish liberals who despise him and the GOP also cheered.

They are certain the rise of the intellectual leader of the Republicans will give them the opportunity to blast his ideas about entitlement reform and therefore ensure President Obama’s victory this fall.

Indeed, Jewish Democrats think the fact that Ryan has taken on the tough issue of how to ensure Medicare survives means the danger that the president will lose a considerable portion of the Jewish vote this year has been averted. In particular, they think Ryan’s presence on the ticket will help them in Florida, where the Jewish vote might tip the state’s crucial 29 electoral votes into Romney’s column because of justified concerns about the president’s attitude toward Israel. The assumption is that elderly Jews will be scared by any talk about changing Medicare, let alone Social Security, and flee back to the Democrats and Obama, Israel or no Israel.

The Jewish community is an aging demographic and therefore vulnerable to such arguments but it should not be overlooked that many Jewish organizations are as locked into the status quo when it comes to federal expenditures as any retiree. Social service agencies and philanthropies have in many cases become dependent on government aid to maintain local infrastructure and fight budget cuts on the federal, state and local levels with just as much passion as mainstream secular liberal groups. Indeed, those who speak for Jewish communities have often become as wedded to a policy of no change when it comes to the federal budget and entitlements as Vice President Biden claims the Democrats to be.

But every sensible person, be they Republican or Democrat, knows that the time is fast approaching when it will no longer be possible for anyone to hold onto Biden’s senseless guarantee of “no change.” Changes will have to be made to Medicare and eventually even to Social Security if they are going to be around to help the grandchildren of the current Jewish elderly, though even Ryan has sensibly promised that no current retiree (or anyone close to potential retirement) will have their benefits cut for the former and isn’t talking about the latter. The unlimited flow of federal dollars to any cause with a Congressional caucus behind it cannot be sustained. More to the point, there is a limit to how much debt America can sustain, and we must choose between Ryan’s reformist ideas (or a reasonable Democratic alternative should one ever be proposed) or a future like that of Greece.

That means Jewish groups cannot afford to dig their heels in and merely push to preserve the budgetary status quo. Change will be difficult but the sooner Jewish groups realize they can’t count on the taxpayers to subsidize everything the better since such an outcome is inevitable no matter who wins in November.

As for those elderly Florida Jews, it may be that the Democrats’ Medicare tactics will resonate with many of them. But most of those so affected were already going to vote for Obama anyway. A majority of Jewish voters are hard line liberals and partisan Democrats. But the 10 to 25 percent of the Jewish vote that is up for grabs this year is made up of thinking moderates who are disillusioned by Obama’s economic failures and are not reassured by Obama’s election year Jewish charm offensive on Israel. This is not a group that will be seduced by a mindless defense of the status quo in a time of fiscal crisis.

Just as it is foolish to assume that most of this group can be convinced to ignore the evidence of the eyes and ears during the first three years of the Obama administration policies toward Israel, the assumption they will be stampeded back to the Democrats by fear of Ryan may also not be correct.
In addition to being older than the average American, Jewish voters are also well read and interested in ideas. That is why Ryan, the intellectual leader of his party and the most able advocate for fundamental change in the way the government operates, may turn out to be more attractive to Jews than liberals think.

Columnist Jonathan S. Tobin is senior online editor of COMMENTARY magazine and chief political blogger at www.commentarymagazine.com. He can be reached via e-mail at: jtobin@commentarymagazine.com. Follow him on Twitter at https://twitter.com/#!/TobinCommentary.

Bloomberg Announces New Destinations on NYC Waterfront

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Artist’s conception of the new “Oceans Wonders” exhibit to be added to the New York Aquarium. (Photo credit: The Portico Group)Aquarium Expansion to Help Revitalize Coney Island

Addressing the listeners of 1010 WINS on Sunday, Mayor Michael Bloomberg described exciting new developments among the city’s many parks and recreational facilities that are sure to delight locals.
“[T]he enormously popular Brooklyn Bridge Park, which we opened in 2010, now features a pop-up swimming pool where families can take a dip to escape the heat and take in the magnificent views of the Lower Manhattan skyline,” said the mayor. “And earlier this month, we cut the ribbon on the brand-new Rockaway Park in Queens, right beside the cool waves of the Atlantic.

“After a $9 million investment from the City, the long-underused park now has a 15,000-foot skate park, rolling lawns, sports fields and more, all within a few feet of beautiful dunes and ocean swimming.”
Mayor Bloomberg went on to extol the fact that, in addition to recreational opportunities, these and similar developments will also help stimulate the local economy and create jobs. “That’s been the goal behind much of our work along the city’s waterfront,” said Bloomberg. “And there’s no better example than Coney Island, where our revitalization plan has created hundreds of seasonal jobs and thousands of permanent jobs while attracting investment in housing and new businesses throughout the community.”

“Coney Island has been a terrific success,” Bloomberg continued. “Last summer, more than 640,000 visitors took more than two million rides at the new Scream Zone and Luna Park. And this year, along with the newly opened second phase of the Scream Zone, there are new games and attractions; a faster, refurbished Cyclone roller coaster; and a range of new and expanded restaurants and stores for what we expect to be an even greater number of summer visitors to enjoy.”Mayor Bloomberg, having announced new funding for Coney Island shark exhibit with Cultural Affairs Commissioner Levin, makes a new friend at the Aquarium. August 16, 2012  (Photo Credit: Spencer T. Tucker)

Bloomberg went on to describe lofty plans for Coney Island’s New York Aquarium, including a new centerpiece, to be called “Ocean Wonders: Sharks!”

The plans for this substantial renovation were officially unveiled at a press conference held late last week. New York City’s Public Design Commission approved the design plan earlier this month for the 57,000 square foot exhibit building – as part of a public-private initiative the Mayor and the Wildlife Conservation Society announced in 2009. The Mayor and Wildlife Conservation Society also announced a major private gift of $7.5 million from Wildlife Conservation Society Trustee Barbara Hrbek Zucker and her husband, Don Zucker. The Wildlife Conservation Society, which runs the New York Aquarium, is raising $34.4 million in private funds, of which $11 million has already been raised. The City has committed $93.1 million in public funds to the project, which will transform the exhibit space to feature more than 100 different species of marine animals – including sharks – and bolster Coney Island as a premier tourist destination.
The Mayor was joined at the New York Aquarium by Department of Cultural Affairs Commissioner Kate D. Levin, Brooklyn Borough President Marty Markowitz, Staten Island Borough President James P. Molinaro, City Council Member Domenic M. Recchia, Jr. and Barbara and Don Zucker.

“From the start, the exciting expansion and renovation of the New York Aquarium has been a vital part of our efforts to revive Coney Island,” said Mayor Bloomberg. “The project is going to make the Aquarium much more visible and visually exciting to Coney Island’s thousands of visitors – from those strolling the Boardwalk to others visiting the Aquarium itself. I want to thank the Zuckers for their generous support and look forward the exhibit’s grand opening.”

“For generations, the New York Aquarium has provided everyone from babies to biologists with access to the remarkable diversity of sea life,” said Cultural Affairs Commissioner Levin.

“Thanks to a public-private partnership, this extraordinary new space will allow the Aquarium to embrace its vibrant waterfront location and attract even more visitors from across Brooklyn and beyond to the revitalized Coney Island.”

“‘Ocean Wonders: Sharks!’ is an important cultural, conservation and economic initiative for the City of New York. Coney Island will soon be home to one of the world’s most spectacular shark exhibits,” said Cristián Samper, Wildlife Conservation Society President and CEO. “This is a great example of a public-private partnership that will bring an economic boost to the city, jobs to families and connect millions to the wonders of the ocean in the New York Bight and around the globe.”

Samper went on to express his gratitude Mayor Bloomberg, Councilman Recchia, Brooklyn Borough President Markowitz, Staten Island Borough President Molinaro, the New York City Department of Cultural Affairs and the New York City Council “for supporting this transformational project important to Coney Island development and for tourism across the city.” He also thanked the Zuckers for their ongoing support, which is helping to make the whole project possible.

The new addition to the New York Aquarium, once completed in 2015, will feature more than 100 different species of marine animals, said Mayor Bloomberg in his radio address, including sea turtles, rays, and thousands of schooling fish.

“But the real stars of the show will be the sharks – a dozen or so species, up close and personal like never before. We expect the exhibit will be a major draw – not just during the summer months when visitors flock to Coney Island, but all year round.

“The Aquarium has long been one of our city’s great family attractions. After the $127 million public-private investment in the Ocean Wonders building, it’ll be even better – and that’s more great news for the Coney Island community. Of course, there’s still the surf, sand, and cool breezes that have always drawn visitors to Coney – and which we’re especially thankful for come the dog days of summer. If you haven’t visited the new Coney Island this season – or any of the great summer resources we’ve improved on – there’s no better time than the present.”

OIC Suspension of Syria Sparks Renewed Call to Expel Assad from U.N. Human Rights Committee

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Syrian Dictator Bashar al-Assad, whose regime, in the ultimate mockery of human rights, still sits on the U.N.s Human Rights Committee.Rights group: “Syria’s membership is a lingering stain upon the reputation of the U.N. as a whole.”

Last week’s suspension of Syria from the 57-nation Organization of Islamic Cooperation creates a new window of opportunity for a top U.N. human rights committee to cancel its “shameful” November election of the Bashar al-Assad regime, said UN Watch, a Geneva-based human rights organization which heads a campaign of 55 parliamentarians, human rights and religious groups calling for Syria’s expulsion.

“Now that both the OIC and the Arab League have suspended Syria, there is no longer any excuse – neither morally or politically – for UNESCO to insist on keeping Bashar al-Assad’s regime on its human rights committee, which is mandated to help victims worldwide. It’s time for UNESCO to stop legitimizing a government that mercilessly murders its own people,” said Hillel Neuer, executive director of UN Watch.
“Having Syria as a global judge of human rights is like appointing a pyromaniac to be a firefighter,” said Neuer. “UNESCO is allowing the Assad regime to strut in Paris as a U.N. human rights arbiter — it’s immoral, indefensible and an insult to Syria’s victims.”

After UNESCO elected Syria to its human rights committee in November, UN Watch launched a campaign to reverse the decision, prompting the U.S. and Britain to initiate a March debate at UNESCO.

However, while a resolution was adopted censuring Syria’s violations – a welcome first for UNESCO – the promised call to oust the regime from UNESCO’s human rights panel was excised. U.S. ambassador David Killion urged UNESCO to revisit the decision. The watered-down text included language suggesting UNESCO chief Irina Bokova could raise the issue again.

Earlier this year, UN Watch had received notice from the British Foreign Office that it would seek to cancel Syria’s “abhorrent” membership. In an email to UN Watch, the UK said it “deplores the continuing membership of Syria on this committee and does not believe that Syria’s presence is conducive to the work of the body or UNESCO’s reputation. We have therefore joined with other countries in putting forward an item for the first meeting of the Executive Board at which we will seek to explicitly address Syria’s membership of the body.”

The UK also expressed hope that other members of the executive board will join London in ending what it called “this abhorrent [and] anomalous situation.”

Paris insiders say that UNESCO diplomats from non-democratic regimes are afraid to create a precedent of ousting repressive governments.

“However, now that both the OIC and the Arab League have suspended Syria, we must take advantage of the new political momentum. It’s time for the U.S. and Britain to uphold their pledge and demand Syria’s expulsion,” said Neuer.

“The Assad regime’s ongoing membership calls into question the credibility of UNESCO’s mission to promote human rights, and Syria’s membership is a lingering stain upon the reputation of the UN as a whole. By maintaining Assad in a position of global influence on human rights, UNESCO is sending absolutely the wrong message. It an unconscionable insult to the suffering people of Syria.”

UN Watch is a Geneva-based human rights organization founded in 1993 to monitor UN compliance with the principles of its Charter. It is accredited as a Non-Governmental Organization (NGO) in Special Consultative Status to the UN Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC) and as an Associate NGO to the UN Department of Public Information (DPI).

Swiss Lab to Examine Arafat’s Remains on Condition that Results Aren’t Politicized

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Following the mysterious death of Palestinian leader, Yasser Arafat, the Swiss have agreed to examine his remains to determine whether or not he was poisoned by Israelis, as long as it remains discreet and “doesn’t go political.” Yasser’s death occurred near Paris, in November, 2004.

French physicians stated that Arafat suffered a brain hemorrhage immediately after falling ill in Israel. Darcey Christen, a spokesman for the Swiss Radio-Physics Institute announced that, “We have been invited by the Palestinian National Authority and we are currently studying the most appropriate way of responding to this request.”

No one, yet, was able to conclude any solid evidence against the Israelis. Their position on this particular case, nevertheless, remains neutral. Yasser’s autopsy was originally issued by Palestinian officials, who were a part of Arafat’s Fatah Party. In July, stains of radioactive polonium-210, a highly lethal substance, were found on Arafat’s hospital garments, giving rise to claims that he was, indeed, poisoned. However, polonium, when ingested by former KGB-member Aleksander Litvinenko, had caused very different symptoms than those suffered by Arafat.    

Tawfiq Tirawi, head of the committee investigating Arafat’s death, declared, “We have contacted the Swiss lab to come to Palestine to do the needed testing of the remains, the clothes and of any other belongings.” It seems that there is a growing number of people seeking to publicize the belief that Israel poisoned Arafat, including the terrorist kingpin’s nephew, Nasser al-Kidwa, despite the absence of proof. Foreign Ministry spokesman, Yigal Palmor, highly doubts it was a murder of any kind saying, “Making up conspiracy theories based on pretend evidence is so ludicrous that it befits the comedy channel and not a news channel…If there is anything suspicious about his death, then the French doctors would have known and said something.”

On July 31, Suha Arafat, the widow of Yasser, along with their 17-year old daughter, Zahwa, signed documents in the hopes of getting an investigation on her late husband’s murder and that his body be exhumed. In 2008, the hospital which cared for Yasser got rid of all his blood and urine samples before he was deceased and Suha believes that it was a hasty call of judgment on their part. Skeptics argue, on the other hand, that Suha took an inexplicably long time to try to initiate an investigation, or for that matter allow anyone to further research her late husband’s facts regarding her late husband’s demise.

Several doctors connected with the case have claimed that there was also a possibility AIDS played a role in Arafat’s death.

So far, no official accusations have been made.

Swedes Protest Rising Anti-Semitism

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Hundreds of Swedish Jews and non-Jews brought together by the Swedish Committee Against Anti-Semitism marched on the southern city of Malmo on Aug. 18 to protest the rise of anti-Semitism in the country. Willy Silberstein, head of the organization, said that “there were many more people than we expected” at the march.

In June, the Swedish government’s Twitter account, which is controlled by rotating citizen users, was taken over a woman who wrote offensive posts about Jews, including that “in Nazi Germany, they even had to sew stars on their sleeves. If they didn’t, they could never know who was a Jew and who was not a Jew.” The number of anti-Semitic hate crimes has risen in Sweden since Israel’s Operation Cast Lead in Gaza in 2009. Four hundred anti-Semitic incidents were reported in Malmo in 2009 alone, according to the European Jewish Press.

JNS.org

New York Times Names Former BBC Director as Chief Executive

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Mark Thompson, a veteran of the BBC, is set to become the new chief executive of The New York Times.In a move that many Israel supporters would call fitting, the New York Times Company has named Mark Thompson, the director general of the British Broadcasting Corporation, as the “newspaper of record’s” president and chief executive.

The 55-year-old will assume the position in November, when he will become a board member as well.

 “We have people who understand print very well, the best in the business,” Times publisher Arthur Sulzberger said regarding the hiring of Thompson, a television veteran. “We have people who understand advertising well, the best in the business. But our future is on to video, to social, to mobile. It doesn’t mirror what we’ve done. It broadens what we are going to do.”

“I have been a reader of The New York Times for decades,” Thompson remarked, “and I am honored to take the new position. What we’ve got in The New York Times is an outstanding newsroom, the envy of the world.”

For years, groups that monitor the media for anti-Israel coverage have heavily criticized both The New York Times and the BBC for repeatedly perpetrating such bias. Observers are cautiously waiting to see if Thompson’s hiring will have the trickle-down effect of skewing the Times’ coverage of Israel even more to the left than it has purportedly been until now.

Since the departure eight months ago of Janet Robinson, the position of chief executive at The Times has been vacant. Sulzberger has revealed that the company was seeking someone with experience in the digital world and across multiple platforms.

Thompson’s time at the BBC has been highlighted by his efforts in digital expansion and international development of the network. He promoted the BBC’s collaboration with YouView, a joint venture with ITV, Channel 4 and other channels, that provides digital television and many other ventures, such as BBC America.

Observers have taken note of the fact that Thompson’s professional background makes him a somewhat unusual fit for The New York Times, as – in addition to being from the world of television – he was employed by a public broadcaster, which does not have the same financial responsibilities to the public as a publicly traded concern like the Times Company. “I think of myself as a journalist,” Thompson said. “I spent many of my years as a working journalist.”

Thompson’s departure from the BBC comes at a high point for the British network, especially in the news organization’s digital ventures. Its website attracted an extraordinary number of visitors throughout the July 27 to August 12 stretch of the Olympic Games, which were held in London.

“If you look at what the BBC has done with digital, especially in coverage of the Olympics and interactive, it’s been extremely good,” said Ian Whittaker, a media analyst in London. “Having said that, Mark Thompson has never had to scrap for advertising revenue or circulation revenues.”

An Oxford University graduate, Thompson began his career at the BBC in 1979 as a production trainee. Following stints as an editor on the BBC’s flagship “Nine O’Clock News” and the news program “Panorama,” he advanced to directing the separate channel BBC2 and serving as the BBC’s director of national and regional broadcasting. In 2000, Thompson moved up to become   the BBC’s director of television. After two years as chief executive of Britain’s Channel 4, Thompson came back to serve as BBC Worldwide’s director general in 2004, and was given the title of chairman this year. As director general, he supervised 20,000 employees worldwide and 400,000 hours of programming.

Thompson has not been shy in terms of addressing controversies about the BBC’s news coverage. In 2010, he commented that the BBC had in the past displayed a “massive” left-leaning bias, but he added that the bias was no longer evident.

Thompson lives in Oxford with his wife, the American-born Jane Blumberg. They have three children.

Attacks on Adelson a Sign of Obama’s Desperation

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Last week, the New York Times ran yet another article on their favorite “whipping boy,” casino magnate Sheldon Adelson.

It seems like Mr. Adelson has repeatedly made the pages of the purported “paper of record” not on the merit of his remarkable accomplishments and his exceptional charitable endeavors, but because “Team Obama” is displaying clear signs of desperation during this presidential election season.

Jewish Voice readers know that Sheldon Adelson is a long-time and stalwart supporter of Israel; a magnanimous man who supports an extensive network of charitable organizations that foster positive growth in Israeli society. He is also someone who deeply cares about the outcome of the 2012 presidential race and has contributed millions of dollars to such candidates as Newt Gingrich and Mitt Romney.

As a newspaper that is dedicated to advancing a liberal and leftist agenda, The Times it is being called upon by Obama’s supporters to shine its light on Adelson; and lacking any concrete evidence, has essentially indicted him as a corrupt, underhanded, and ruthless businessman who is not just concerned with personal profits but with shaping the U.S.-China political agenda. Some heavy duty charges are being leveled against Adelson such as bribery of Chinese government officials, using his connections with Members of Congress to allow China to host the Olympic games in Beijing in 2008, turning a blind eye to Chinese organized crime activities taking place at his casino in China, a disregard for human rights abuses in China, allowing prostitution to take place at his casino in China, among others.

Now that the FBI has entered the fray with their own investigation which was predicated upon a wrongful-termination suit being brought against Adelson’s corporation by a disgruntled employee, one can only imagine the scurrilous accusations that will be hurled at Romney by the Obama campaign through the use of television ads and in future scheduled debates between the candidates. It does not take all that much wisdom to deduce that President Obama knows he’s in big trouble at the polls. As the numbers shift in favor of the GOP with each passing day, the president is beginning to sweat bullets. Rather than debating Romney on the issues, he is seeking to dry up a source of major contributions for the Massachusetts governor. If he can tie Romney to someone that the New York Times would like to smear as an “underworld figure,” a paradigm of graft and callous capitalism, he’s hoping to force Romney to cut ties to Adelson and hit him where it hurts: in the wallet.

It’s a dirty trick, dragging the name of a respected businessman and philanthropist through the mud for political gain, and we at the Jewish Voice hope that the American people won’t fall for it.

No Statute of Limitations on Genocide

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It seems like the few stories we read nowadays involving wanted Nazi war criminals includes them being let off the hook, because they’re old, or frail, or sick.

Or because it happened a long time ago. As if any of these are valid reasons to excuse the perpetrators of the Holocaust. We thought we’d heard every lame excuse in the book, but alas, we have heard a new one. In this case, it involves accused Hungarian war criminal Charles Zentai. The Hungarians want him extradited to finally face some semblance of justice—and it only took them a little over half a century to get the ball rolling. Way to go, guys!

The Aussies’ response? “No way, mate!”

Supposedly, the basis of the Australian High Court’s decision was its finding that in order to qualify for extradition, the crime must have existed as a legal offense in the state requesting extradition at the time of commission.

So, just to be clear: Hungary wants to recall one of its citizens to try them for war crimes committed under a previous government. But Australia can’t do that in good conscience, because the crime was committed with the tacit approval of the criminal regime in whose service the offense was committed. So…because the war criminal in question had his war crimes approved by higher-ranking war criminals, his crime was not a crime. Or at least, not one deserving of punishment?

What are we supposed to do with the knowledge that murder isn’t considered murder if it’s committed in a time and place where society condones murder? We understand the liberal tendency towards moral relativism, but this is just a degree removed from giving the Holocaust a legal seal of approval! Unless the Australians were to fry him themselves. (Even then, it makes no sense to have the trial there – no doubt any pertinent witnesses would be quite elderly, and probably wouldn’t take well to intercontinental air travel.)

Of course, we all live in a post-post-war world. We live in a place where, in the name of “compassion,” a German court can ban the practice of circumcision, implicitly lecturing the Jews on what is considered unethical treatment. Excuse me, but while I’m sure that Germany is full of experts on all things cruel and unusual, I don’t think it’s unreasonable to say that we Jews, as a people, have earned a free pass to practice our religion un-harassed and in peace, and not be subjected to the moral pontifications of the right honorable judges of any nation whose former pastimes involve forcing men, women and children into gas chambers and ovens.

No. You don’t get to lecture us. Not then, not now, not ever. We will continue to circumcise our sons, slaughter and consume kosher meat, keep the Sabbath, conduct our business with unwavering integrity – and we will continue to pursue Nazi war criminals, to the ends of the earth, until every last one of them is dead. Then, G-d takes over.

Given this Bizarro-world approach to ethics that seems to be gaining popularity in such far-flung places as Germany and Australia, and with anti-Semitism back in vogue, now may be the time to buy that ticket to Israel, even if you missed the El Al pricing glitch earlier this month!

Waiting Out the War in Syria

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 In July 2012, Syria’s Foreign Ministry Spokesman Jihad Makdissi announced the regime’s readiness to use chemical weapons against foreign enemies.Bashar al-Assad’s wretched presence in the presidential palace of Damascus may, contrary to Western assumptions, do more good than harm. His murderous, terroristic, and pro-Tehran regime is also non-ideological and relatively secular; it staves off anarchy, Islamist rule, genocide, and rogue control of Syria’s chemical weapons.

As Syria’s civil war intensifies, Western states are increasingly helping the rebels overthrow Assad and his henchmen. In doing so, the West hopes to save lives and facilitate a democratic transition. Many Western voices call for more than the non-lethal aid now being offered, wanting to arm the rebels, set up safe zones, and even join their war against the government.

Helping the rebels, however, neglects a fundamental question: does intervention in Syria against Assad promote our own interests? This obvious question gets missed because many Westerners feel so confident about their own well-being that they forget their security and instead focus on the concerns of those they perceive as weak and exploited, whether human (e.g., indigenous peoples or the poor) or animals (whales and snail darters). Westerners have developed sophisticated mechanisms to act on these concerns (e.g., responsibility to protect, animal rights activism).

For those of us not so confident, however, fending off threats to our security and our civilization remains a top priority. In this light, helping the rebels entails multiple drawbacks for the West.
First, the rebels are Islamist and intent to build an ideological government even more hostile to the West than Assad’s. Their breaking relations with Tehran will be balanced by their helping to forward the barbaric force of Islamism’s Sunni forces.

Second, the argument that Western intervention would reduce the Islamist thrust of the rebellion by replacing materiel pouring in from Sunni countries is risible. Syria’s rebels do not need Western help to bring down the regime (and wouldn’t be grateful for it if they did receive it, if Iraq is any guide). The Syrian conflict at base pits the country’s disenfranchised Sunni Arab 70-percent majority against Assad’s privileged Alawi 12-percent minority. Add the assistance of foreign Islamist volunteers as well as several Sunni states (Turkey, Saudi Arabia, Qatar) and the Assad regime is doomed. Assad cannot subdue the ever-widening rebellion against his rule; indeed, the more his troops butcher and maim, the more defections occur and his support shrinks to its Alawi core.

Third, hastening the Assad regime’s collapse will not save lives. It will mark not the end of the conflict, but merely the close of its opening chapter with yet worse violence likely to follow. As Sunnis finally avenge their nearly fifty years of subjugation by Alawis, a victory by the rebels portends potential genocide. The Syrian conflict will likely get so extreme and violent that Westerners will be glad to have kept a distance from both sides.

Fourth, the continuing Syrian conflict offers benefits to the West. Several Sunni governments have noted the Obama administration’s reticence to act and have taken responsibility to wrest Syria from the Iranian orbit; this comes as a welcome development after their decades of accommodating the Shiite Islamic Republic. Also, as Sunni Islamists fight Shiite Islamists, both sides are weakened and their lethal rivalry lessens their capabilities to trouble the outside world. By inspiring restive minorities (Sunnis in Iran, Kurds and Shiites in Turkey), continued fighting in Syria could also weaken Islamist governments.

When the regime falls, the Alawi leadership, with or without Assad, might retreat to ancestral redoubts in Latakia province in northwestern Syria; the Iranians could well supply it by sea with money and arms, permitting it to hold out for years, further exacerbating the confrontation between Sunni and Shiite Islamists, further distracting them from assaulting others.

The one exception to the policy of non-intervention would be to secure Syria’s vast chemical weapon arsenal, both to prevent terrorist groups seizing it and Assad from deploying it in a Götterdämmerung scenario as he goes down, although this difficult mission could require as many as 60,000 foreign ground troops deployed to Syria.

Nothing in the constitutions of Western states requires them to get involved in every foreign conflict; sitting this one out will prove to be a smart move. In addition to the moral benefit of not being accountable for horrors yet to come, staying away permits the West eventually to help its only true friends in Syria, the country’s liberals.

Mr. Pipes (DanielPipes.org) is president of the Middle East Forum and a visiting fellow at the Hoover Institution. © 2012 All rights reserved by Daniel Pipes.

Protect Yourself and Your Family: Get Vaccinated

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Renowned medical researcher and virologist Dr. Jonas Salk, whom we Jews are proud to claim as one of our own, changed the world for the better when he developed an effective vaccine for polio. We can all do our part to protect ourselves and our loved ones, by receiving vaccinations as recommended by medical experts.Immunization is one of the most powerful tools available to protect the health of individuals and our communities. Vaccines are responsible for the control of many infectious diseases that were once common in this country and around the world, including polio, measles, diphtheria, rubella and mumps.

Vaccines eradicated smallpox, one of the most devastating diseases in history. Over the years, vaccines have prevented countless cases of infectious diseases and saved literally millions of lives.

August is National Immunization Awareness Month, a good time for New Jerseyans [New Yorkers, Floridians, and all JV readers –ed.] of all ages to protect themselves and their communities by catching up on their vaccinations. We never outgrow our need for immunizations. Across the lifespan, from babies to seniors—immunizations reduce disease and save lives.

With the new school year approaching, it’s the perfect time to ask your health care provider which immunizations your child needs in order to be up-to-date for back to school. Vaccines are safe, effective and critically important for young children, who are especially vulnerable to vaccine-preventable diseases.
Thanks to widespread vaccinations, many diseases are not commonly seen in the U.S and parents are often unaware their children are still at risk for many serious and life-threatening diseases. Vaccine-preventable diseases such as varicella (chickenpox), measles, mumps, pertussis (whooping cough), and diphtheria can result in hospitalizations and even premature death.

Recently, New Jersey and the nation have seen increases in the vaccine-preventable disease pertussis known as whooping cough. Pertussis is a very contagious disease that can cause serious illness and even death, especially in infants who are too young to be fully vaccinated. In 2010, the United States had 25 infants, less than one year of age, die from pertussis and more than half of infants who contract the disease require hospitalization. Infants and young children need their recommended five shots of DTaP for maximum protection. Adolescent and adult booster vaccination with Tdap is important for everybody and especially for those who will be around infants. By ensuring that both children and adults are immunized, we can greatly limit the spread of this illness that can be fatal in young children if not properly treated.

Diseases are often brought into this country by people who get infected abroad and can rapidly spread among susceptible individuals in our schools and communities.

For example, an imported disease outbreak occurred from June 2009 through June 2010 when approximately 3,500 cases of mumps were reported in New York City, two upstate New York counties and Ocean County in New Jersey. There were 425 cases reported in Ocean County alone. As part of this outbreak, 41 patients were hospitalized. The initial patient for this outbreak was an 11-year-old child who returned to the United States from the United Kingdom. The child became ill while attending a summer camp exposing other campers—who then spread the infection within their communities when they returned home.

Vaccine-preventable diseases can have devastating effects on a child’s health. There are far too many stories of parents who chose to space or skip vaccinations and the bad outcomes that resulted. Many of those who survived needed to relearn basic skills like talking, eating and walking, and required ongoing medical care. It is critical that children and adults get vaccinations in a timely manner.
Most childhood vaccines should be given by age two, with some follow-up doses at ages four to six. Immunizations are important for older children, too. In addition to ensuring childhood vaccines are current, adolescents need tetanus-diphtheria-pertussis vaccine, vaccine to protect against meningococcal disease.

College students living in dormitories need meningococcal vaccine. Older adults may need tetanus-diphtheria-pertussis, shingles, or pneumococcal vaccine. All individuals may need other immunizations, too, depending on age, vaccination history, medical conditions, high-risk exposures, or type and location of travel. Check with your health care provider on what vaccinations you may need based on your individual situation.

Vaccines are the safest and most effective tool we have for preventing vaccine-preventable diseases—they protect both the people who receive them and those with whom they come in contact. The Department of Health encourages all people to protect their health by being immunized against infectious diseases.

More information about immunization requirements is available through the NJDOH website at www.state.nj.us/health/cd/imm.shtml. Information about vaccines and recommended schedules is available through the CDC website www.cdc.gov/vaccines.

Silverman Brothers Market Toilet Paper Ads

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18-year-old Bryan Silverman displays his company’s attention-getting advertising-filled toilet paper.In an age dominated by the presence of mass media and saturation marketing, it should probably come as no surprise that two young Jewish brothers – Jordan and Bryan Silverman from upstate New York – have begun selling toilet paper that is imprinted with advertising.

“It’s an unmatched captive audience,” Jordan Silverman, the 22-year-old co-founder of Star Toilet Paper, explained to the Daily News. “A person looks at the average advertisement for two to five seconds. People will look at ours for a lot longer.” Businesses can advertise on the toilet paper – which is printed with coupons and ads in soy-bean-based ink – for a fee of half a cent per ad. Consumers can redeem the coupons on Star Toilet Paper’s website. Any establishment that agrees to install the ad-filled paper in its bathrooms receives the specialized rolls for free.

“Our printed toilet paper allows you to reach a targeted audience in a unique way that will certainly catch people’s attention,” states Star Paper’s website. “Ads and coupons on toilet paper provide customers with a convenient and fun way to talk about and learn more about your company.” As Bryan Silverman says about his advertisers’ potential consumer base, “We’re offering them amazing deals while they’re sitting on the toilet. If they don’t want to read it, they don’t have to.”

The unusual marketing idea occurred to Jordan two years ago when he happened to be gazing at the wall of a bathroom stall on the campus of the Michigan college he was attending. “I was thinking that it’s one of the times that people want to read,” the budding marketing whiz said. Jordan, who immediately discussed the concept with his 18-year-old brother, added, “We’ve really felt that we were on to something.”

Obtaining a patent for their product two years ago, the Silvermans have since worked with 50 advertisers, a group that includes more sizable companies like Ben & Jerry’s Ice Cream and smaller businesses like a local medical office. In addition to the number of venues that have already agreed to carry the distinctive paper, Star Toilet Paper hopes to branch out to movie theaters, bars and other establishments that have “high turnover.”  The youthful entrepreneurs have at this point printed 3,000 rolls of their business-friendly toilet paper, and they have plans to produce alternate versions for men and women, so that advertisers can more accurately target their audiences.

Their creation has brought the Silvermans attention from the business world. Bryan, who is a sophomore at Duke University, has been named one of five finalists in Entrepreneur Magazine’s 2012 College Entrepreneur competition. Bryan is currently working for Star Toilet Paper as a part-time campus representative.

Based on the positive response they have received so far, the Silverman brothers are actively preparing to take their idea to a new level – paper towels printed with ads and coupons. “We personally think our product is for everyone,” Jordan said.

Three Israeli Colleges Make Top 100 List of World’s Best

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Jerusalem’s Hebrew University moved up in the rankings from last year, to 53rd place in the Center for World-Class Universities Top-100 List.In another proof of the Jewish people’s affinity for education, three Israeli colleges have been placed on a prestigious list of top 100 world universities. This marks the first time that the Center for World-Class Universities at Shanghai Jiao Tong University in China deemed three Israeli institutions of higher learning worthy of making its list.

The highest-ranking of the three was Hebrew University, which was listed in 53rd place, four spots higher than last year. The other two schools on the list were the Technion-Israel Institute of Technology, which entered at number 78, and the Weizmann Institute of Science in 93rd place.
The United States continued to dominate the annual listing, with Harvard University continuing to be ranked at No. 1 for the tenth year. Sixteen other American colleges were placed in the top 20, with Stanford University and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology following Harvard for the second year in a row.

Shanghai Jiao Tong University surveys 1,000 universities around the world and ranks the top 500. Below the top 100 colleges, Tel Aviv University was ranked in the 101-150 range, while Bar-Ilan University and Ben-Gurion University were listed between numbers 301 and 400.

“This proves that the government’s unprecedented investment in Israeli academia brings results,” commented Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. “We are investing NIS 7 billion in the universities in a multiyear program, in centers of excellence and in bringing back Israeli academics who left the country.” Netanyahu continued, “Our efforts have been fruitful. I am especially happy over the high ranking of Israeli institutions of higher learning in computer sciences, with four of them among the leading 30 institutions in the world. That’s another sign that Israel continues to establish itself as a world hi-tech power.”

In addition to the general ranking, universities were also rated on the strength of their individual academic subjects and fields of study. In academic subjects, Hebrew University was designated 16th in the world in mathematics, 27th among all universities in computer science, within the top 51 to 75 in the study of physics, and in the top 101 to 150 in economics and business.

Hebrew University was also rated as 38th best in the world in the natural sciences and mathematics, within the top 51 to 75 in social sciences, in the top 101 to 150 in the study of clinical medicine and pharmacy, and in the top 101 to 150 in life and agriculture sciences.

“I am proud that several of Israel’s research universities are ranked among the world’s top achievers in this important international ranking, and that once again the Hebrew University of Jerusalem has been ranked the leader in Israel,” stated Hebrew University president Professor Menahem Ben-Sasson. “Our mission is to be the leading research institution in Israel and among the leaders worldwide, and our upward trend attests that the university’s academic community is meeting this challenge despite the financial difficulties it faces.”

How a Month in Israel Changed the Lives of 36 Local Students

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L-R: Joe Shamosh, Linda Shayo, Hannah Horowitz, Eldar BenzikryILEAD Prepares Next Generation of Jewish Leaders

The 2012 ILEAD graduation ceremony was hosted at New Jersey’s Monmouth University on Monday, August 13. Friends and family of the graduates paid tribute to those who made the ILEAD experience possible, and listened to testimonials from many of the candidates, accompanied by a series of slide shows set up by the graduates. The ILEAD program focuses on the individual growth of each participant while simultaneously emphasizing the importance of the group dynamic. The graduation defined four important components of the trip:

Personal Challenges
Team Efforts
Learning – Classes in Torah, and Avodat Hashem
Love of Israel
Eva Tawil (L), and Lauren Zalta

ILEAD program graduate Hymie Anteby described his experience as “a summer that not only will never be forgotten, but has hopefully given me the tools to mold the rest of my life.” He went on to describe how the various challenges, culminating in the program’s “Survivor Night,” taught him the value and importance of teamwork.

Anteby thanked his parents, the program leaders, and of course, his fellow “pioneers.” “I can’t wait to see how each and every one of you make your mark on this world,” he concluded.

“ILEAD isn’t only about changing the group as a whole,” said fellow graduate Shelly Hafif, “but even more specifically, the individual.”

“And therefore every individual experiences something different within themselves during their month spent in Israel.”
“One of the many things I learned while on ILEAD,” Shelly continued, “is that everything you do should have meaning. Every activity we did had a sometimes obvious, sometimes hidden message behind it, that applied to life in general.”
Jacob Betesh (L) and Ezra ShamieHafif used the ILEAD’s nighttime navigation challenges as an example, noting how “It was impossible to see more than a couple of feet in front of you, and therefore you were forced to take it step-by-step.

“What I realized afterwards was that it is very much like life. We all sit and plan, whether it’s for the next day or for the next few years, but the truth is you can never know what G-d is going to throw your way. And therefore, it’s important to take goals and even life, one step at a time.”

“That is what makes a good leader,” said Shelly.

Following the presentation of diplomas by Jeffrey Beyda, Shilo Plesser, and Lillian Gallapo, the founders of ILEAD, the graduates joined candidates from the past two years at the home of Naava and Jeffrey Beyda for a festive reunion and barbeque organized by Esther Sabbagh, the programs administrator.

Several of the ILEAD graduates will be continuing to participate in a follow up program being called ALT – Advanced Leadership Training, run by veteran community activist Alissa Shams.

Israel Cancer Research Fund Evening of Inspiration Draws Support From the NJ Jewish Community

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ICRF Chairman Kenneth E. Goodman (L), and Eric G. Heffler, National Executive DirectorThe 2012 Evening of Inspiration to benefit the Israel Cancer Research Fund (ICRF) was held last month at the home of Audrey and Steven Shalom, in memory Adelaide Picciotto and Renee and Jack Shalom. The chairing the event were Ariela Ben -Dayan, Charles Ben-Dayan , Samantha Harary and Lisa Oved.

Members of the committee included Alica and Harry Adjmi, Raquel Dabah, Linda and Harold Ebani, Bobby Harary, Brenda and Abe Hidary, Sadie Jemal-Meyers, Bruce Meyers, Isaac Oved, Sharon and Steve Sutton, and Jacqueline and Albert Tobias.

New York Development Director Shoshana Ellihou welcomed the resilient guests by thanking them for their ongoing devotion to ICRF despite the torrential storms and blackout that threatened the otherwise perfect evening.Shoshana Ellihou, New York Director of Development for ICRF, and Dr. Yashar Hirshaut, ICRF President and Chairman Emeritus

Kenneth Goodman, chairman of ICRF, spoke about how Israel has a culture that nourishes extraordinary cancer research that is out of proportion to the size of the country. “The entrepreneurial spirit of the Israeli nation is at work in the scientific research community, and it has yielded spectacular results. Some of the scientific discoveries have helped to lead to treatments such as Doxil, Gleevec and Velcade that today are saving thousands of lives of cancer victims around the world.’’ He reminded the community that “everyone has been touched by cancer and the funding of research is of vital importance if we are going to successfully find a cure.” Every project that ICRF supports, noted Goodman, undergoes a rigorous grant review process by a 26-member international council of eminent cancer researchers.

Audrey and Steven Shalom hosted this year’s ICRF Evening of Inspiration.Presenting an award to Audrey and Steven Shalom, Goodman recognized them for so generously opening their home for such a wonderful cause. ICRF President and Chairman Emeritus, Dr. Yashar Hirshaut, referred to by Goodman as “the heart and soul of ICRF,” shared a poignant midrash with the guests. Hirshaut also remarked how “ICRF has elevated the level of science in Israel today.” Since its founding in 1975, ICRF has awarded 1,937 grants totaling $45,795,000 to exceptional scientists at all of Israel’s leading institutions.

Lydia Shamie, the evening’s “Inspirational Speaker,” recounted her inspiring battle with cancer and her hope of finding new treatments in the near future. A mother of two young children, Shamie spoke of her dream to be alive for her children’s B’nai Mitzvahs and encouraged the community to support the mission of ICRF. Harry Adjmi rallied the crowd and elicited generous donations for the charity.

The evening climaxed with a runway fashion show with designs by Shelley Antebi modeled by women from the local community. Albert Sultan moderated the fashion event.

L to R: Lisa and Isaac Oved, Ariela and Charles Ben Dayan, Samantha Harary, co-chairpersonsFor more information about ICRF, contact Shoshana Ellihou, Tel. 212 969-9800, ext. 225, Email: Shoshana.ellihou@icrfny.org.

 

Wealthy Jewish ‘Playboy’ Sued After Running Over Cop’s Foot with Ferrari

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A screencap of the YouTube video shows Julien Chabbot climbing into his car to drive away as NYPD Officer Felix Recio writes him a ticket for a parking violation, moments before Chabbott drove over Recio’s foot.Being a well-to-do, famous, and under 30 can be a heady combination. One that may lead to significantly impaired judgment, as we’re about to see.

After running over the foot of New York City Police Officer Felix Recio, Julien Chabbott—known as boyfriend to The Hills’ star Stephanie Pratt—is being sued for 10 million dollars for the vehicular assault. Chabbott, co-creator of the iPhone app, Line Snob, and a Vassar College graduate allegedly gave the officer attitude when he saw his quarter-million-dollar Ferrari 458 Spider about to be ticketed for being parked at a no-standing zone.

He stepped into his car, disregarding the cop’s orders and began to drive away, allegedly running over the officer’s foot in the process. Chabbott was then forced out of his 458 Spider with the help of fellow police officers and pinned to the ground. All this occurred on Mercer St. in SoHo, on August 5. Chabbott’s girlfriend stood by the car and talked to the police officers, trying to restore calm. She later drove the Ferrari away as cops took Chabbott in. The policeman’s left arm and foot were injured from the incident.

The pedestrian that filmed the occurrence, Damien Morys, happened to be admiring the Ferrari when the altercation took place. He later uploaded the video to YouTube, and since then, got over 11 million views. Morys wrote on his post, ““I was walking around Soho, NYC today when I stumbled upon this Ferrari 458 Spider with a cop writing a ticket next to it. I started to record the situation because I thought it’d make a cool video, little did I know what I was in for.”

Cirque du Soleil Comes to Israel

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Cirque du Soleil, the internationally famous circus, is performing in Tel Aviv, Israel, until this weekend, for their first ever performances in the country. Performing their show, titled Alegria, the group’s 55 artists are scheduled for a 20-show run at the Nokia Arena.

Alegria, created by director Franco Dragone and director of creation Gilles Ste-Croix, debuted in 1994 and has since been performed more than 5,000 times. Originally as a touring big top show, Alegria was converted to an arena format beginning with its 2009-2010 North American tour, enabling it to visit cities like Tel Aviv that were previously inaccessible.

Created for Cirque du Soleil’s 10th anniversary, Algeria takes its name from the Spanish word for “jubilation.” Cirque du Soleil’s literature describes the show as “a mood, a state of mind. The themes of the show are many. Power and the handing down of power over time, the evolution from ancient monarchies to modern democracies, old age, youth – it is against this backdrop that the characters of Alegría play out their lives.”

To prepare for the show, in addition to the 55 performers who make up the cast, another 60 support staff personnel came to Israel, together with more than 20 trailers of equipment. Each show will be limited to 3,500 viewers, far less than the Nokia Arena’s capacity, due to the fact that more than half of the theater will serve as the cast’s training area.

Featuring 400 original costumes and accessories that are handmade in a studio at the company’s home base in Montreal, Alegría’s stage showcases a giant dome and columns. The stage also features spiral ramps on opposing sides.

The musical score, composed by René Dupéré, blends French, Spanish, African, and Mediterranean influences incorporating jazz, pop, tango, Jewish folk music, synthesizers and sampling of street sounds. The show features synchronized trapeze, ariel high bar, hand –balancing , a fire-knife dance and the Power Track-synchronized choreography on a trampoline system hidden underneath the stage floor.
The “Circus of the Sun” was founded by two Canadian street performers, Guy Laliberté and Daniel Gauthier. Each performance blends circus styles from around the world, developing central themes and storylines. Cirque du Soliel draws the audience into the performance through continuous live music, with performers rather than stagehands changing the props.

From a group of 20 street performers at its beginnings in 1984, Cirque du Soleil is now an international production company with 5,000 employees, including more than 1,300 artists from nearly 50 different countries who have performed for more than 100 million people in 300 cities worldwide.

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