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Inside the Media

Ms Magazine Rejects Ad About Israeli Women

January 11th 2008

AJC Ad for MS
AJ Congress Ad Rejected by Ms.

Ms. magazine rejected a pro-Israel advertisement from the American Jewish Congress.

The ad highlights successful women in Israel. It shows photographs of three prominent Israelis -- Knesset Speaker Dalia Itzik, Foreign Affairs Minister Tzipi Livni and the president of the Supreme Court, Dorit Beinish -- above the words “This is Israel.”

Harriet Kurlander, the director of the AJCongress Commission for Women’s Empowerment, said in a news release that she was told when she tried to place the ad that it “would set off a firestorm” and that “there are very strong opinions” on the subject, which she believed to mean Israel.

“What other conclusion can we reach except that the publishers -- and if the publishers are right, a significant number of Ms. magazine readers -- are so hostile to Israel that they do not even want to see an ad that says something positive about Israel?” AJCongress President Richard Gordon asked.

Ms. magazine's executive editor, Kathy Spillar, disputes that version, telling JTA the ad showed political support for one of Israel's parties and thus violated magazine standards.

"We only take mission-driven ads," Spillar said. "Because two of the women in this ad were from the same political party," that showed favoritism, and the magazine's policy is not to get involved in the domestic politics of another country.

Gordon noted that the magazine in its Fall 2003 issue ran a cover story on Jordan’s Queen Noor, and the Winter 2004 issue contained an article on the Ramallah Film Festival called “Images of Palestine.”

Spillar responded that "ironically" this month's issue, just coming to newsstands now, has a two-page spread profiling Livni.

From the JTA, www.jta.org. Also see Letters


Inside the Media

Landau's Rape Israel Comment Stirs Controversy

December 27th 2007

Gary Rosenblatt
Gary Rosenblatt

Israelis are known for being direct and blunt. But comments made by David Landau, editor of the Israeli daily, Haaretz, to Condoleezza Rice about Israel needing to be “raped” by the U.S. to achieve a Mideast settlement caused quite a stir among the 20 or so attendees at a confidential briefing with the secretary of state on a recent visit to Israel.

The incident, which took place Sept. 10 at the private residence of America’s ambassador to Israel, Richard Jones, has not been fully reported until now. What is contested is not the raw language Landau used but the context of his impassioned comments.

Following Rice’s briefing to the gathered military, academic and media elites at the dinner, the guests offered their views and comments about the Mideast impasse. Landau, who was seated next to Rice, was said to have referred to Israel as a “failed state” politically, one in need of a U.S.-imposed settlement. He was said to have implored Rice to intervene, asserting that the Israeli government wanted “to be raped” and that it would be like a “wet dream” for him to see this happen.

When contacted this week, Landau said the description was “inaccurate” and “a perversion of what I said.” He said his views had been delivered with “much more sophistication.” Read more ..


Inside the Beltway

After U.N., Bolton rejoins JINSA

December 21st 2007

John Bolton at UN
John Bolton

The Jewish Institute for National Security Affairs has announced the return of Ambassador John Bolton to the organization's Board of Advisors. Mr. Bolton served on the Board for many years and had taken leave from 2001 to the end of 2006 when he served as America's Permanent Representative to the United Nations and as Under Secretary of State for Arms Control and International Security. JINSA executive dirtector Tom Neumann, in maing the announcement stated, "We appreciate John personally and we appreciate the strength and soundness of his ideas. He represents the very best of national security thinking in the country. David Steinmann, Chairman of JINSA's Board of Advisors added, "This is a
crucial year for American security policy - not because of the presidential election, but precisely because the threats we face will not change when our president changes. John Bolton brings extraordinary clarity of thought and a rare understanding of the workings of government to the table. It might have been better for the country to have had him remain in government service, but we will work to ensure that his voice is heard regardless of where he sits"

USHMM and the Bad Arolsen Conflict

USHMM plans for Bad Arolsen Archives to “create intolerable bottlenecks and sufferings” says Holocaust Survivor Group

December 14th 2007

Archive  International Tracing in Bad Arolsen
Bad Arolsen Archives

A leading Holocaust survivors group has publicly called for the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum to radically alter its plans to sequester the long-secret Holocaust records of the International Tracing Service now held at Bad Arolsen, saying the Museum’s controversial plans will “create intolerable bottlenecks and sufferings” for survivors desperate to discover the fate of loved ones and the facts of their own enslavement. The Museum’s plan is to block off-site physical or electronic dissemination of the records to other institutions closer to the populations of elderly survivors in New York, Florida and California, requiring survivors needing more complex research to travel to Washington.

 

In the latest issue of the newsletter of the National Association of Jewish Child Holocaust Survivors (NAHOS), and in a letter to the Cutting Edge (see LETTERS section), the group’s president responded to recent Cutting Edge coverage of the Museum’s policy. This included exclusive revelations detailing Museum point man on Bad Arolsen Paul Shapiro’s intense efforts to exclude media from Red Cross presentations during the week of August 23, 2007. Red Cross officials traveled to Washington to explain their plan for the records transfer to the US. The Red Cross has earnestly sought complete transparency and openness about its record keeping process. Read more ..


Getting off Oil

Joint American-Israel Effort to Get off Oil

December 13th 2007

Empty on Oil

One little known but crucial provision in the comprehensive energy legislation that just passed the Senate last week is the U.S.-Israel Energy Cooperation Act (USIECA). The bill is headed for passage in the House this week and the President’s signature thereafter.

USEICA allocates U.S. funding for Israeli research into new technologies to decrease American dependence on foreign oil. The law will establish a multi-year program of grants for joint projects at the basic research level between U.S. and Israeli academic institutions, and at the applied research and development level between U.S. and Israeli companies. Administered by the Secretary of Energy, the program who will be driven by a joint American and Israel board of advisors.

USIECA was the brainchild of Jack Halpern, Chairman of the American Jewish Congress’s Energy Independence Task Force. For his part, Halpern expressed “Extraordinary pride in the passage of this important measure because of the many years we put into the effort for its enactment, beginning with our conceptualization of the measure in 2003, through lobbying for the measure for four years.” Read more ..


Iran's Nukes

Israel's New Iran Strategy

December 12th 2007

Iran - Ahmadinejad at Iranian nuclear plant
Mahmoud Ahmadinejad at Nuclear Facility

After the shock of last week’s U.S. intelligence estimate that found that Iran halted its nuclear weapons program in 2003, Israel is reshaping its Iran strategy.

Israel essentially is arguing that the U.S. assessment is dangerously misleading and that Tehran is as determined as ever to acquire nuclear weapons. The Israeli dilemma is how to prove Iran is cheating without being accused of trying to push the United States into war. That is why the official strategy is to work quietly behind the scenes. Israel's top intelligence agencies all believe Iran is still at full throttle to produce a nuclear bomb and will be capable of doing so by 2009 or 2010.

The new Israeli strategy is based on four main elements:

  • actively pushing for stiffer international sanctions on Iran, despite the U.S. report;
  •  working quietly behind the scenes to convince others through Israel’s own intelligence material that Iran is intent on producing nuclear weapons;
  •  refraining from arguing with the U.S. assessment in public, lest Israel be seen to be trying to push the United States into military action against Iran;
  •  and Israel keeping open its own military options.The emerging policy is the result of close consultations among Prime Minister Ehud Olmert, Defense Minister Ehud Barak and Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni.

In a Cabinet meeting Sunday, Olmert stressed that Israel would work to "expose Iran's clandestine operations."

Barak earlier had advised the prime minister not to get into a public spat with the United States over its assessment of Iran's nuclear program but rather promoted the behind-the-scenes effort. Read more ..


Iran's Nukes

Sarkozy Thinks Israeli Attack More Likely

December 11th 2007

Nicolas Sarkozy headshot2
Nicholas Sarkozy

Israel is more likely to launch a pre-emptive strike against Iran's nuclear facilities than the United States, said.

French president Nicolas Sarkozy believes the world has come a step closer to an Israeli pre-emptive attack of Iran's nuclear facilities. In an interview in the French magazine Le Nouvel Observateur, Sarkozy admitted, "The danger of a war exists," he said. "The problem for us is not so much the risk that the Americans launch a military intervention but that the Israelis consider that their security is truly threatened." He continued, "Everyone agrees that what the Iranians are doing has no civilian explanation." The French president added that his nation was willing to help Tehran proceed on a purely peaceful nuclear energy program. Sarkozy has beem a leading exponent of curbing Iranian nuclear technologies and recently welcomed both Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert and opposition leader Benjamin Netanyahu to Paris for strategic talks on Iran as well as other Middle East issues.


Getting Off Oil

Honda’s Decisive Clarity Steals LA Auto Show

November 14th 2007

Honda Clarity Fueling
Honda's new Clarity

American Honda Motor Company stole the Los Angeles Auto Show with decisive clarity today. Shortly after show doors opened, the company announced the summer 2008 initial rollout of its sleek, new and tantalizing four-passenger zero-emissions hydrogen fuel-cell vehicle. The long-awaited, market-ready hydrogen car, called “Clarity,” will use zero oil and feature zero emissions.

No longer experimental, the Honda FCX Clarity is powered by a breakthrough, “V Flow” fuel cell stack that delivers vastly increased power and range over previous FCX hydrogen models. The FCX Clarity utilizes its V Flow stack in combination with a new compact and efficient lithium ion battery pack and a single hydrogen storage tank to power the vehicle's electric drive motor. Hydrogen combines with atmospheric oxygen in the fuel cell stack, where chemical energy from the reaction is converted into electric power to propel the vehicle. Additional energy captured through regenerative braking and deceleration is stored in the lithium ion battery pack. It is used to supplement power from the fuel cell when needed. The vehicle's only emission is water. Indeed, the company invites drivers to drink the exhaust, and has even distributed novelty drinking glasses to drive home the point. Read more ..


Online Banking

BBT Apologizes for Broken Online Banking Site

September 12th 2007

BBT Online Service Unavailable
BBT'S broken website notice

BBT is still struggling to bring its online service back to full functionality and cope with outraged consumer backlash. Shortly after the bank "improved" its online software on August 3, 2007 to make it “safer, faster, and more convenient for you,” the website slowed to a crawl, lost and duplicated transactions, clobbered integrated customer financial management software such as Quicken, and in many cases became completely inaccessible. The problems were first reported exclusively by The Cutting Edge. Online function problems heightened during late August and by Labor Day the BBT site became completely inaccessible for many customers during most business hours. In early September, patches and fixes were installed, but problems have persisted so the company has been forced to post a prominent apology on its logon page.

“Recently, you may have experienced slow response times while accessing BB&T OnLine banking.” The statement reads, adding, “Over the past several days, you may also have been unable to log on to BB&T OnLine at different times. We understand this may have made it difficult for you to access your accounts and schedule your bill payments. We sincerely apologize for any inconvenience this may have caused you. Please know that our technicians are working diligently to expedite a solution. Our goal at BB&T OnLine is to provide you with the Perfect Client Experience for every online interaction. We know we have fallen short of this promise and want to assure you that we are doing everything we can to correct this problem. Thank you for your patience as we work to resolve our performance issues and restore your confidence in BB&T OnLine.”

 


Bad Arolsen Inside Story

USHMM's Shapiro At Odds with Red Cross Bid for Bad Arolsen Openness

August 29th 2007

Central Name File
Bad Arolsen files

During the week of August 20, Red Cross officials transferred to the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum some 13.5 million embargoed files from its massive Nazi-era archive at Bad Arolsen known as the International Tracing Service. The hard drives were hand-delivered by ITS director Reto Meister. For the Red Cross, it was a significant moment that it had labored hard to achieve.

The highlight of the initial ITS handover was a special Museum briefing held August 23 for several dozen Holocaust survivors, Second Generation members, and Jewish organizational leaders. The meeting was a chance to connect with the Holocaust community face to face. Survivors flew in from around the nation to attend. By all accounts the exchange was successful and a tribute to the efforts undertaken by both the Museum and the Red Cross to accelerate the controversial transfer.

During the presentation, ITS director Reto Meister deftly explained the technical complexities in transferring the huge collection and what could be expected in the future, according to several in the audience. Meister’s presentation and response to questions, in spite of a few pesky challenges, was honest and convincing as he promised continued dedication to the process, according to multiple reports from audience members.

Ironically, the special Museum briefing was nowhere covered in the media, not even the Jewish media which normally covers such events. Why? Read more ..


Cutting Edge Exclusive

Bad Arolsen Internet Records Offer Twice Spurned--French and Red Cross Suggested It

August 21st 2007

BA Camp Documentation

 Although officials of the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum have steadfastly insisted that the secret records at the International Tracing Service located at Bad Arolsen are technically not ready for the Internet, both Red Cross and senior Bad Arolsen officials deny this. Indeed, Red Cross and senior Bad Arolsen officials confirm that most of their 42 million records could be made Internet ready within three-to-four months. Moreover, the Red Cross reveals, the idea of Internet access directly from Bad Arolsen computers bypassing a complicated and costly 11-nation export and transfer was twice suggested earlier this year: once by French delegates to the Commission and again by Bad Arolsen technology officers. Both offers were refused.

The Bad Arolsen computerized search mechanisms have been misportrayed by some news reports. But in a series of conference calls with this reporter followed by a requested official written statement of technical specifications, Bad Arolsen chief technology officer Michael Hoffman and archivist Udo Yost, explained for the first time exactly how their system works. The ITS system, ten years in development, uses three interactive sets of prisoner informational data including TIFF and JPEG images of Nazi-era prisoner cards. Hoffman confirmed that given the correct name, birth date and birth city, “with a little luck, we get a hit on the full data set. If the system cannot get the correct information about a named individual on the first try, it defaults to the next probable hit using the sequence numbers, going through the candidate names. For example, for a person named “Rosenbaum,” the system first gives all the “Rosenbaums,” and then automatically gives you the next Rosenbaum, and the next Rosenbaum, until you find the correct Rosenbaum.” Read more ..


Tech and Israel

Oracle Billionaire Pledges $500,000 to Embattled Israeli Town

August 17th 2007

Science - Larry Ellison
Larry Ellison

Avi Sulimany didn’t know he was talking to Larry Ellison. He didn’t even know who Larry Ellison was.

But after a cursory, two-minute conversation about rockets targeting the southern Israeli town of Sderot, Ellison promised Sulimany $500,000 to reinforce the Community Center of Sderot against those attacks. The two shook hands and parted company. Sulimany is the director of the center of Sderot, which has suffered daily rocket attacks fired from Gaza for seven years. Ellison, of course, is the well-known head of Redwood Shores-based Oracle Corp., and one of the world’s 15 richest men. He was born to a teenage Jewish mother and grew up on the South Side of Chicago with relatives.

After viewing shrapnel left from Kassam rockets, Ellison — on a Sderot visit arranged by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and flanked by dignitaries including Israel Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni and Rep. Tom Lantos (D-San Mateo) — walked into a community center on Thursday, Aug. 9. Sulimany mistook Ellison for “the head of the U.S. Congress’ foreign affairs committee” — that would be Lantos, actually — and introduced himself. He told Ellison how a number of popular Israeli bands hail from Sderot, including Teapacks, the Israeli representative at the Eurovision song contest (and past performers at Israel in the Gardens).

He then pressed a CD into Ellison’s hand. It was a compilation of Sderot teenagers who were singing their own compositions about the recent war and rocket attacks. Almost as an afterthought, Sulimany added, “But these kids have a problem.” Read more ..


Sephardic News

Herzl's Sephardic Connection Revealed

August 14th 2007

World Citizens - Shelomo Alfassa headshot
Shelomo Alfassa

Over the many centuries, while the Jewish people were exiled from Eres Yisrael (the land of Israel), Jerusalem, Safed, Hevron and other holy cities, retained a sparse Jewish population, fed by a small but constant stream of pilgrims. A cursory examination of Jewish personalities demonstrates that Sephardim took it upon themselves to migrate to and fortify Eres Yisrael, driven by a sense of historic yearning for their ancestral home. Centuries later, Sephardim continued to not only settle in the land, but were key players in its modern development, although this fact has, regrettably, been often eclipsed in the historical narrative.

Few documents and small bits of history exist on Jewish national liberation and the development of Eres Yisrael, and how the country came to be with assistance and nurturing offered by Sephardic Jews. It is with tremendous ignominy that the Sephardim have been almost completely marginalized in the modern Zionist record of history. Whether they came from Spain, North Africa or the Middle East, what is fact and needs to be remembered is that Sephardim played a considerable role in the State’s origins and modern fruition. Through out their centuries in the Diaspora, Sephardim developed and devoted a sense of philosophical and spiritual nationalism that prepared the foundation for which modem Zionism stood on, and the resulting fruit which is the return of the Jewish people to their land. Read more ..


Ethnic Clashing

Congressional face off on Armenian Genocide Means Taking Sides with Horror

August 12th 2007

World Scenes - Armenian Genocide1 Bodies
Armenian genocide victims

Los Angeles–The Armenian Genocide debate pits moral values against realpolitik. For Jews, who know the horrors of genocide only too well it may be time to take sides?

The Turkish ambassador to the United States, Nabi Sensoy, dropped in at The Jewish Journal recently for an hourlong conversation with its editors. Archbishop Hovnan Derderian of the Armenian Church of North America recently stood on the bimah of Valley Beth Shalom, hugged its rabbi and called the occasion a turning point in Armenian-Jewish relations.

All the attention is flattering, but its underlying cause confronts the Jewish community with choices that — perhaps oversimplified — pits its moral values and sympathies against the realpolitik of American and Israeli policymakers.

At the root of the split is a wound that has been festering since 1915, when Muslim Turkey and its Ottoman Empire were fighting Russia, France and Britain during World War I. Charging that the Christian Armenian minority in eastern Turkey was collaborating with the invading Russians, Turkey deported, starved and brutalized much of its Armenian population.

According to the Armenians, backed by predominant historical analysis, between 1915 and 1923, Turkey killed 1.5 million Armenian civilians in a planned genocide. Turkey maintains that some 300,000 Armenians died, but that an equal number of Turks perished, and that both sides were victims of chaotic wartime conditions, disease and famine, not a predetermined extermination.

Turks refer to the wartime slaughter by the Arabic word mukapele, which Sensoy translated during a phone interview as “mutual massacre.” Read more ..



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