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Gas Prices Are Sending a Surge of Riders to Mass Transit

May 12th 2008

Americans, known for flaunting their waste of energy, are finally feeling pain at $4 per gallon. Combined with the steady rise in electricity and natural gas prices, a global lesson in resource scarcity and how it affects the economy is being experienced. Like it or not, we're all in school again.The auto industry bet on inefficiency and lost. The American public bought into this inefficiency and now, instead of having several alternatives to oil, including and especially renewable electricity, we have virtually none. What we failed to make happen through the democratic process, the market will ultimately mandate. Unfortunately, instead of this stream of wealth going to our tax coffers where we have at least some semblance of control over how it's spent, it's going into the hands of the oil companies, the Saudis and others of their ilk. Welcome to the beginning of peak oil. This is how it starts.

Paul Scott is with pluginamerica.org.

Politicians and Media Need to Get Serious About Gas Taxes--and Plastic Too

May 5th 2008

Obviously it's election frenzy.  First John McCain comes up with the bad idea of cutting gas taxes and now, a couple of weeks later, it's the great, new idea for Hillary Clinton. With a little long range thinking these two candidates, and much of the American public, would figure out that this is one of the worst bad ideas to date. Cutting the gas tax, which is less than 20 cents per gallon, does nothing to help this country and everything to help our so called "enemies," whether they be big corporations or OPEC. Gas tax funds go to building and maintaining roads in this country. Cutting those funds will make people slightly less hysterical for about two minutes, which will allow them to probably drive more which will use up more oil. We should be raising the gas tax, to help the environment and other internal structures of this country, not lowering it, which only one candidate seems to understand. We have the lowest gas prices in the world and all of that money goes overseas.

And while, we're at it, why doesn't someone point out that all that plastic we use and so dearly love - well guess what folks, it's made from petroleum. So we are buying plastic products mostly from China, who we are already indebted to, made with oil mostly from Saudi Arabia and our economy goes even more in the dumps, to put it mildly. Why is it that not one of the media pundits, who are so quick to point out how someone is phrasing a sentence, haven't figured out this is the political pander of the moment? Since most of the media is hell bent on programming the election process to their needs, maybe they should focus on what the real issues are and what should be done about them, not what the politicians think will get them elected.

USHMM Must Not Hoard Bad Arolsen Displaced Person Records, But Share Them

April 28th 2008

We received word that the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum received recently from the International Tracing Service at Bad Arolsen copies of the names-records of Displaced Persons camps. Some 3.5 million names of Displaced Persons are in these so-called DP records. They had been scheduled to be delivered much later, but thanks to our – and the Museum’s urgings - they were transferred much earlier from Germany. Reportedly, they are not well organized and it will take the Museum some time to bring them in order, but these documents will make the search for Survivors much easier and more efficient. We urge in the strongest terms that the Museum’s leadership do their utmost--when these records are in reasonable order--to distribute them to other Jewish museums and libraries around the country. Survivors are still searching for missing relatives or friends and their days are passing.


Leo Rechter is the elected president of the grass-roots National Organization of Jewish Child Holocaust Survivors.

Quashing a "UK" Rumor of Ban on Holocaust Courses

April 21st 2008

Please help us quash a rumor that "UK" (AKA the University of Kentucky), in reaction to pressure from the local Moslem community, has reneged on its commitment to offer courses on the Holocaust. Simply put - it isn't so. This rumor is wholly unfounded and in fact may have its origins in a mistaken interpretation of the term "UK."


We are told that an email message, circulating among members of the Central Kentucky Jewish Federation [and elsewhere around the USA], refers to a news story about pressure in the UK to scale back curricular material on the Holocaust. "The UK" referenced in the story is the United Kingdom and not the University of Kentucky. Indeed, whether or not this is the source of the confusion, permit us to comment on the rumor, per se.


There are three vitally important points to be made:


(1) The local Moslem leadership in Lexington, Kentucky would not suggest such a blatantly offensive proposition. It has proven itself especially sensitive to the tenor and content of conversations across the divides of ethnicity and religion.

(2) The academic community on the University of Kentucky campus, from which religious studies programs are supported, would never capitulate to such a demand.

(3) The academic administration of the University of Kentucky would never permit such a grotesque lapse in its commitment to the principle of academic freedom. It would never capitulate to such a demand.


Let us bury this rumor. It is a distortion of the realities on and off campus.


Please see the online rebuttal here. Also see this most recent news release and an article that appeared in the New York Times here.


Richard B. Greissman is Assistant Provost of the University of Kentucky. Read more ..

High Fructose Corn Syrup Column Does Not Reflect Latest Science

April 7th 2008

The March 31 column “The Problem with Corn,” does not reflect the latest science about high fructose corn syrup. Dr. Walter Willett, Harvard School of Public Health, Nutrition Department Chairman, told The New York Times in 2006, “There's no substantial evidence to support the idea that high-fructose corn syrup is somehow responsible for obesity.” In fact, obesity rates are rising around the world, including in Mexico, Australia and Europe, even though the use of high fructose corn syrup outside of the United States is limited. Research continues to confirm that high fructose corn syrup is safe and no different from other common sweeteners like sugar and honey.

High fructose corn syrup has the same number of calories as sugar. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration granted high fructose corn syrup “Generally Recognized as Safe” status for use in food, and reaffirmed that ruling in 1996 after thorough review.

Consumers can get the latest research and learn more about high fructose corn syrup at www.HFCSfacts.com.

Audrae Erickson is president of the Corn Refiners Association.

Whether Barack is Wrong or Wright, Set Race Issues Aside

March 31st 2008

I read Edwin Black’s piece in the The Cutting Edge News [Barack Obama--Mentored by an Anti-American, Anti-Zionist Black Separatist, March 17, 2008] and as ever appreciate his clear reporter style and multi-faceted perspective on the issues. As a student of human behavior and a Jewish Educator (and having been married to my African American, Korean War vet, pre-affirmative-action husband for 39 years) I can't help feeling that some of what Reverend Wright has said is close to the truth about racial inequality in the United States today.
Inequality and persecution make for strange bedfellows. Five years ago I attended an anti-war protest at the Civic Center to stand against the looming war. I found it unnerving that anti-Zionists were present in full force. 
While the issue of race has been openly thrown upon the table, where are concrete plans to change the growing gap between the haves and the have nots—from either candidate? The issue of race may be divisive, but in this political atmosphere it is a diversion and an opportunity for more useless political rhetoric between the leading Democratic candidates. The big question is will the Democrats have a candidate that can be elected? Not if they keep dancing around.
Nancy Sheftel-Gomes is the director of education at Congregation Sherith Israel in Sam Francisco. 

Latvia, Nazis, Jews and History

March 31st 2008

Micah Halpern does well in efforts publishing good information [Riga -- Modern Latvia Flocks to Nazi Past, March 24, 2008] but there is a lack of historical knowledge concerning some events.

Nazis used Latvian soldiers as cannon fodder, putting them in the front lines to cover themselves. No one would think of calling the Finnish people Nazis just because they, with no option at hand, received the Nazis as allies.

Amongst the Latvians that killed Jews in forests were also drunken teenagers who had parents deported by the Communists some years earlier. One can ask Mrs.Valentina Lasmane, a former teacher of such kids who lives in Stockholm today. The Occupation of Latvia was well-arranged theatre performed by the Nazis. In 1939, in agreement with the Communists, the non-aggression Ribbentrop-Molotov treaty was drawn. Most likely the Nazis also left some loyalists dressed out to be Jews, cheering and welcoming the Communists. Before their occupation in 1941, the Nazis had withdrawn all those of German descent.

Communists killed a lot in 1940. This Latvians remembered once the Nazis returned. (Latvia was occupied by Communists in 1940, Nazis in 1941 and Communists again from 1945 to 1991). Such remembrance pleased the Nazis and was “well used”  in Nazi propaganda released in 1941. Read more ..

The Americans Barack Forgot Include My Grandfather

March 31st 2008

I appreciate and agree with the article, "The Millions of Americans Barack Obama Forgot and Perhaps Does not Know" [Editorial, March 24, 2008.]  Following Obama's speech, he also gave an interview in which he called his grandmother a "typical white person." My view, as someone who teaches how to manage diversity in the corporate world, is that Obama lacks two very basic understandings needed to truly be a uniter: you cannot generalize people (make assumptions) or make excuses for bad behavior. 

My own grandfather was an immigrant from the Carpathian mountain region. After living a young life of having to speak a different language each time a new army invaded the area, and having his own father taken away to a Siberian work camp (he escaped), the family came to the U.S. to start a better life. My grandfather couldn't read or write English and, although older, he was thrown into the first grade. The teacher didn't want to deal with him, so she made him sit in a first grader's desk. He took this type of humiliation daily until he was 18 and graduated the sixth grade. He did not become bitter against America. He worked hard to change what he could. He became a self-made businessman and a union leader. He fought for voters' rights of people of all colors, and he fought for the U.S. in WWII.

These are the stories that make up America. Rather then defend Wright's hated, Obama should have separated himself (and his children) from this ranting and made it clear that he understands that many Americans suffered unjustly in the past. Without this basic understanding, Obama does not have the capacity to unite as he thinks he does.

ICRC Must Shake Influence of Paul Shapiro at Bad Arolsen

March 31st 2008
My question is why must the International Committee of the Red Cross coordinate its admirable efforts on behalf of Holocaust victims with Paul Shapiro of the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum? Who does he represent? Who appointed him? Shapiro, it seems, is in conflict with so many of the genuine grass-roots survivor organizations. Just read the remarks of the president of NAHOS for one [Survivors Rebuke USHMM’s Shapiro and ICRC over Bad Arolsen Discord Following Closed Door Meeting, March 3]. Mr. Shapiro has insisted on media black outs about a topic--the Holocaust details--that must never be kept in the shadows. He refuses to answer questions from reporters with difficult questions. And he has refused to come out in favor of the survivors getting into their records using remote computers where they live instead of traveling to Washington. In fact, he is the one who has blocked discussion of it. If the International Committee of the Red Cross really wants to help survivors access their records, they must do so by working directly with the victims, take the initiative to allow remote computers in other cities, and refuse to participate in any more USHMM events held behind closed doors without the press involved--something which only causes more confusion and embarasssment for all.

Richardson's Endorsement of Obama Seems like the Wizard of Oz

March 31st 2008

The more I think about it, the less I understand not only Bill Richardson’s endorsement but also his latest call for the Democrats to come together, I’ll assume, behind his chosen candidate: of Barack Obama. Didn’t Dorothy stop talking to the giant animated head once the true Wizard of Oz was revealed? Why does Richardson expect less from us? He is trying to sell me a ticket for the Titanic after it already hit the iceberg. No matter what he says there MUST be another ship out there.

The current situation may seem to be a huge debacle but hardly the disaster it could have been had Hillary dropped out of the race. We could have been committed to a nominee who would be destroyed by the Republicans over a whole host of issues. While it is true that Hillary cannot win enough delegates to clinch the nomination, guess what, neither can Obama. With more information on Obama coming to light, we now see that not only are the current primaries shifting major momentum, but quite a few people who have already cast their votes would like a chance to have them back.

For some, the Rev. Wright issue brings up separation of church and state. I could truly care less what your religion is but let us agree that none of the venom this man spewed had anything to do with religion. He is addressing social values and, after 20 years, one must share some of these ideals. By the way, Separation of Church and State was put in place to prevent the government from interfering in faith based affairs. In other words our bigoted racist founding fathers gave people like Wright the freedom to preach hatred.

My sympathies go out to the remorseful Obama supporters, but they did have some indicators when political backers and hip hop artist endorsers could not name any accomplishments or plans Obama had in his platform. It is a sad day in America when his largest demographic of voters cannot state anything this man intends to do to help them but they do know the color of his skin. I really hoped we were above that.

This is also fueled when, less than eloquent politicians, say that Obama can help smooth over relations with Islamic nations simply because “he is a black man”. Hopefully Israel will not discover his church bulletin supported Hamas. Funny, my church paper is full of dreary old bake sales and bingo nights.   

Much of this would be a moot point if we weren’t facing the travesty that is the Florida primary. How is it that Democrats must suffer for something that happened at the hands of a Republican legislature? Looking at the current mess, I have an image of the GOP in a back room somewhere going “WOO HOO” and high-fiving each other. Additionally, the candidates agreed not to campaign in Florida yet Obama spent 1.3 million to Hillary’s 130,000. Why did he spend that much knowing it wouldn’t count? He got a lousy return on that investment! He has consistently outspent Hillary three to one. That is a huge story to me. She has garnered almost the same number of votes using a fraction of the funds. The DNC should pay attention to this because it would take a fortune to try and convince voters to go for Obama in the general election. Read more ..

Rep. Donald Payne's Animus for Ethiopians Finally Exposed

March 24th 2008

As an Ethiopian-American, I read with great interest your recent article focusing upon Rep. Donald Payne's embrace of terror-state Eritrea at the expense of U.S. allies Ethiopia and Somalia.
I offer my congratulations to The Cutting Edge News for truly living up to your name and delivering the cutting edge revelation of Rep. Payne's trip to Asmara. I do not recall reading about his strikingly low-profile visit to that terror-sponsoring regime in any other U.S. media outlet.

I share Abdirahman Warsame's righteous indignation regarding both the trip itself, as well as Payne's “misguided” vision for the Horn of Africa. I can only scratch my head in wonderment at how an individual clearly so out of step with rational U.S. Africa policies has managed to find himself in such a powerful position.

Evidence of just how detached Rep. Payne appears to be from reality emerged last week during a Senate Foreign Relations Committee hearing on U.S. policy options for the Horn of Africa. The transcript that I read of the hearing suggests that it was a wide-ranging conversation that competently illustrated the complex dynamics in the Horn, and explored how critical the region is in terms of American interests in Africa.

If there was one central theme that seemed to run through the testimony of the senior U.S. officials called upon to testify before the committee, it was the overwhelmingly negative role that Eritrea continues to play.
In her prepared statement and in answer to questions from the senators, Assistant Secretary of State for African Affairs Jendayi Frazer assailed Eritrea, saying its human rights record is “deplorable and is steadily declining” and accusing the regime of sponsoring instability in neighboring nations and undermining the efforts of U.N. peacekeepers along its border with Ethiopia. Read more ..

An Open Letter to Pope Benedict About a Revised Good Friday Prayer

March 17th 2008

I wanted to share with your readers a letter that I had sent to Pope Benedict XVI last month. The letter follows.

His Holiness Pope Benedict XVI
Vatican City, Italy

Your Holiness:

We write you urgently to express our profound concern over news reports regarding the imminent announcement of a revised Good Friday prayer for the Conversion of Jews that would replace the 1962 Roman Missal text.

While these media reports state that the offensive language of veils and blindness are to be discarded in the supposed new formulation of this Good Friday prayer, they report that the framework and intention to petition God for Jews to accept Jesus as Lord will remain.

Alterations of language without change to the 1962 prayer's conversionary intent would result in cosmetic revisions while leaving intact the most troubling aspect for Jews, namely the desire to end the distinctive Jewish way of life. We do not understand how such an action could be consistent with the teachings and actions of the Catholic Church that began with Nostra Aetate and developed in numerous authoritative Catholic documents ever since. It is also hard to understand how a Good Friday prayer that for centuries was universally accepted as expressing the hope for Jewish absorption into Christianity could now be understood as being related to Catholic prayers for their own internal change of heart or teshuvah, as some news reports imply.

We wholeheartedly agree with your message delivered at the Roonstrasse Synagogue of Cologne on August 19, 2005 when you said: "We must come to know one another much more and much better. Consequently I would encourage sincere and trustful dialogue between Jews and Christians, for only in this way will it be possible to arrive at a shared interpretation of disputed historical questions, and, above all, to make progress towards a theological evaluation of the relationship between Judaism and Christianity. This dialogue, if it is to be sincere, must not gloss over or underestimate the existing differences: in those areas in which, due to our profound convictions in faith, we diverge, and indeed precisely in those areas, we need to show respect for one another."

However we think that a revised Good Friday prayer that Jews abandon their own religious identity, as being reported in the news media, would be highly devastating to the deepening relationship and dialogue between the Catholic Church and the Jewish people. That is why we hope these news reports have totally mischaracterized the nature of the expected revised prayer. We hope the reports are wrong and that any revised Good Friday prayer will instead show the same respect for the integrity and the continuity of Jewish religious life that has prevailed in the Catholic Church since the Second Vatican Council.
Your Holiness, before any revisions to the Good Friday prayer are promulgated, we respectfully ask you, in the spirit of dialogue, for the opportunity to consult with the appropriate Vatican authorities to learn what it is the church is teaching by these changes and create a common understanding.

Abraham Foxman is national director of the Anti-Defamation League.

Stephen Feinstein died doing what he loved best

March 12th 2008

Tuesday March the 4th Dr. Stephen Feinstein, director of the University of Minnesota’s Center for Holocaust and Genocide Studies, died of an aortic aneurism that led to cardiac arrest while he was speaking at the Jewish Film Festival. Steve was 65. He died doing what he loved, what he was passionate about, what consumed him. He died talking about the Holocaust. His death leaves us, his family, his colleagues, and his friends, his students breathless, bereft, and stunned.

Steve was such a presence for all of us. He encouraged us; he supported us with positive ideas with suggestions of resources with exciting collaborations. His research and writing on art and literature of the Holocaust, getting recognition of the Armenian Genocide, on Darfur, on developing teaching materials on genocide was critical. His emails and his sharing of ideas and concerns with colleagues all over the world will be missed. He was the ultimate information source. Never to see his daily emails again is painful.

Most important of all was his gentle sense of humor and his smile. Steve was working with a group of us from the US and Poland to prepare to teach about the Holocaust to Polish teachers this summer. His death is an unbelievable loss not only to his wife and children, his colleagues, friends and students at the University of Minnesota but to all of us struggling to fight against the indifference and hate that leads to the greatest scourge of humanity—genocide.

Samuel M. Edelman, Ph.D. is dean of the College of Arts and Sciences, American Jewish University
(formerly University of Judaism) and Co-director, State of California Center of Excellence for the Study of the Holocaust, Genocide, Human Rights and Tolerance.

Shame on ICRC for Kowtowing to USHMM's Paul Shapiro

March 3rd 2008
In reading the continuing saga of the ICRC and the International Tracing Service kowtowing to Paul Shapiro of the USHMM, one might want to ask why all Red Cross officials must first check with or coordinate with Paul Shapiro before any decisions are made such as allowing the media in on special survivor Washington briefings to watch out for misinformation. Keeping the media out and passing out of false information about the databases has created the extreme distrust survivors and leadership have the Bad Arolsen data transfers. It is my understanding that the ICRC is an international organization working with dozens of governments. The International Tracing Service is reported to be a multinational body responsible to 11 different countries. What hold does the Museum have over the ICRC and the ITS? By now it must be painfully obvious that the ICRC and the ITS are incapable of holding their own briefings, talking to Congressional committees, or doing anything else without somehow getting permission from the Museum and Shapiro--even if that means snubbing the survivors, alienating organizational or Congressional leadership, or obstructing progress on swiftly getting the Bad Arolsen information out. Shame on the ICRC and the ITS for not being independent enough to think for themselves?

Krakow's Basilica Should Not Host Rabid Anti-Semitic Rallies

February 20th 2008

I wanted to share with your readers a letter that I had sent to Stanislaw Cardinal Dziwisz, the Archbishop of Krakow. The letter follows.


Stanislaw Cardinal Dziwisz
Archbishop of Krakow
Kuria Metropolitalna
ul. Franciszkanska 3
31-004 Krakow, Poland

Your Eminence:

We were deeply disturbed by reports that an anti-Semitic meeting was held in a Krakow church.

According to Polish newspapers, about 1,000 people came to the Basilica of the Sacred Heart of Jesus in Krakow for a meeting on February 9 convened by Radio Maryja and the Committee Against Defamation of the Church and For Polishness.  The meeting was publicized with posters that declared:  “The kikes will not continue to spit on us,” according to reports.

At the meeting, Prof. Bogoslav Wolniewicz reportedly declared, “The Jews are attacking us! We need to defend ourselves!”  And Mr. Jerzy Robert Nowak of Radio Maryja reportedly said, “It’s important that we carry our fight to its conclusion, because [Jan Tomasz] Gross and his supporters are marginal, and we will not permit anyone to punish Poland.”

As we know from Pope John Paul II, of blessed memory, these acts of anti-Semitism are sins against God.  But for this meeting to be permitted inside the sacred space of a church is an abomination and a desecration of holiness.

We believe that these anti-Semitic statements, spoken with the appearance of the imprimatur of the church, constitute incitement to violence against Jews.  Such sentiments are a troubling reminder that anti-Semitism is alive and well in Poland, and that the memory and lessons of the Holocaust, while still fresh for survivors of the war, is fading for ordinary Poles.

One of the great lessons the world learned from John Paul II is that ignorance and bias are never remedied unless all of us are willing to challenge them at every turn.  We ask Your Eminence and the Polish Bishops Conference to publicly denounce these words and this group in the strongest terms, and to take steps to insure such gatherings never again take place in the holy space of a church, indeed anywhere in Poland.

Abraham H. Foxman
National Director

cc: Bishop Stanislaw Budzik

Polish Anti-Semitism After the Holocaust--One man's Experience

February 4th 2008

The publication of the Polish translation of “Fear- Anti-Semitism in Poland After Auschwitz” by Jan Gross has caused much soul searching among the Polish populace. The Krakow public prosecutor is looking at the possibility of indicting Gross for “slander of the Polish nation, under a law passed in 2006 making it illegal to accuse “the polish nation” of collaborating with the German occupiers and or the Communist government to commit crimes. 

I can only speak of my own experience during and after the war in Poland to refute the attempt to silence Gross and accuse him of maligning the “Polish nation.” During the war, as an eight old child, I witnessed numerous acts of collaboration with the Germans. I do want to state, before I talk about specific events, that without the help of Polish Catholic friends of my father, I would not be alive today.  My first encounter with Polish collaborators was in 1943 on the streets of Warsaw. A way of making quick money during that time was to grab a boy walking, pull him into doorway, and lower his trousers to see if he was circumcised. If he was, the nice Polish collaborator would, would extort money from the accompanying adult. If the adult refused to pay they would be turned over to the Germans. The Germans offered rewards to anyone turning in Jews. I was caught by these collaborators, a number of times and each time my Mother paid the extortionist. These extortionists were and maybe still are members of the “Polish nation.”
One other incident is still vivid in my mind. In April of 1943, I was in a park near the Warsaw Ghetto. There was a carousel with many children and their mothers. It must have been Easter vacation. The smoke from the burning Ghetto was in the air. I clearly remember a number of the women glancing at the smoke and saying to each other “the Germans are taking care of our Jews for us.” Read more ..

Palestinians Are Not The Only Refugees

January 28th 2008

For the very first time, President George Bush raised the issue of Jews from Arab countries. He did this while on his official visit to Israel. In an article headlined, "Bush aware of Jewish Refugee' Plight," The Jerusalem Post said the U.S. President was "very conscious" that Jewish refugees fled to Israel from Arab lands after the 1947-49 war, and that one of the points that came up in Bush's discussion was the number of Jewish refugees that were created in the period after 1948.
This report of President Bush's interest in the plight of Jews from Arab countries, comes after the December visit to the White House by Maurice Shohet, a long time member of Justice for Jews from Arab Countries’ (JJAC), International Steering Committee. Joining Mr. Shohet at the White House were Professor Judea Pearl and Ruth Pearl, parents of slain Wall Street Journal correspondent Daniel Pearl, all of whom spoke to President Bush on the plight of Jewish refugees from Arab counties. This followed the recent Annapolis Peace Conference, where JJAC issued a declaration which stated, inter alia: "The exclusion and denial of rights and redress to Jewish refugees from Arab and Muslim countries will prejudice authentic negotiations between the parties and undermine the justice and legitimacy of any agreement." In preparation for Annapolis, JJAC sent a letter to President Bush asking that the issue of Jews from Arab countries be discussed in the context of Middle East refugees.
JJAC was grateful that the President had become cognizant of this important narrative - the violations of rights, and the displacement, of up to one million Jews from Arab countries. President Bush's words came at the opening of the 2008 Congressional session, at which consideration was being given to two bi-partisanship resolutions which called attention to the fact that Jews living in Arab countries suffered human rights violations, were uprooted from their homes, and were made refugees.
The Resolutions, Senate Res. 85 and House Res. 185, signify that, "it would be inappropriate and unjust for the United States to recognize rights for Palestinian refugees without recognizing equal rights for former Jewish, Christian, and other refugees from Arab countries." Far-reaching and comprehensive, these Resolutions instruct the President to ensure that in all international forums, when the issue of 'Middle East refugees'is discussed, representatives of the United States must ensure that any explicit reference to Palestinian refugees is matched by a similar explicit reference to Jewish and other refugees, as a matter of law and equity.
Over the next several months, JJAC will be working with Jews Indigenous to the Middle East and North Africa (JIMENA) on promoting the Resolutions. JJAC is a coalition of Jewish communal organizations operating under the auspices of the Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations and the American Sephardi Federation in partnership with the American Jewish Committee, the American Jewish Congress, Anti-Defamation League, B'nai Brith International, the Jewish Public Council for Public Affairs and the World Sephardic Congress.
Stanley A. Urman is the Executive Director of Justice for Jews from Arab Countries

Does Ms Magazine Believes Israeli Women are Too Hot to Handle

January 11th 2008

Ms. Magazine has long been in the forefront of the fight for equal rights and equal opportunities for women.  Apparently that is not the case if the women happen to be Israeli.

The magazine has turned down an AJCongress advertisement that did nothing more controversial than call attention to the fact that women currently occupy three of the most significant positions of power in Israeli public life.  The proposed ad (The Ad Ms. Didn't Want You To See) included a text that merely said, “This is Israel,” under photographs of President of the Supreme Court Dorit Beinish, Vice Prime Minister and Minister for Foreign Affairs Tzipi Livni and Knesset Speaker Dalia Itzik.

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?

When Director of AJCongress’ Commission for Women’s Empowerment Harriet Kurlander tried to place the ad, she was told that publishing the ad “will set off a firestorm” and that “there are very strong opinions” on the subject - the subject presumably being whether or not one can say anything positive about Israel.  Ms. Magazine publisher Eleanor Smeal failed to respond to a signed-for certified letter with a copy of the ad as well as numerous calls over a period of weeks. Read more ..

Bush Applauded for Signing US-Israel Energy act

December 20th 2007

I applaud President George Bush for signing of the U.S.-Israel Energy Cooperation Act (USIECA) into law as a provision of the Energy Independence and Security Act of 2007.  The measure, passed by both houses of Congress within the last week, was signed by the President on Wednesday, December 19 at a special ceremony at the Department of Energy which I attended along with AJCongress Executive Director Neil B. Goldstein at the invitation of the White House. USEICA will help reduce American dependence on foreign oil by tapping into Israeli skills in solar energy, biotechnology, and chemistry, engineering and nanotechnology.

Jack Halpern is chairman of the American Jewish Congress Energy Independence Task Force.

USHMM disingenuous on Bad Arolsen

December 20th 2007

We are familiar with the work and research Edwin Black and The Cutting Edge have conducted regarding the vast information that has recently been transferred from the ITC via the Red Cross to the USHMM.

Whereas, we have been puzzled for quite some time at the USHMM’s reluctance to approach the process of enabling access to the records in an open fashion, we understand that the suggestion has been made that there may be technical impediments to doing so.

Nothing could be further from the truth, Sir.

In fact, the process of making the millions of records available via the Internet is perfectly straightforward and not at all something that poses insurmountable technical complexities.

While not wishing to speculate as to the USHMM’s motivation to restrict access, and definitely not wanting to discuss how they obtained the records for all the victims regardless of their religious connection, it strikes us that the USHMM is being disingenuous at best in suggesting that such an endeavor would take years and cost many millions.

We believe that we could undertake this job and start having the records brought online within months, and certainly at a cost far more reasonable that what is being suggested by USHMM. Our technological record in dealing with millions of records has long been established, and we see this project as easily attainable. If ever it were true, this is THE project where time is of the essence.

Serious inquiries regarding the technical feasibility of this project can be forwarded to us via The Cutting Edge News.

Kenneth L. Bobu is the CEO of PMCentral Systems, Inc., a major provider of high-end content management services with offices in both the United States and Europe.


USHMM creates intolerable bottlenecks and sufferings.

December 14th 2007

With regard to your coverage of the Holocaust-era of the International Tracing Service records now held at Bad Arolsen and being transferred to the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum, please note that an executive board member of a Holocaust survivor organization, Fred Taucher of Seattle, an expert and owner of a computer company, traveled to Bad Arolsen. He received a very cooperative welcome. But it took him and an ITS assistant 45 minutes of searching, following up and discarding wrong leads to find the records of his half brother.

His experience leads to two unfavorable conclusions: 1) The software that needs to be created to make the data searchable on the Internet might take several years. It needs to be tested and retested. 2) In many cases, the participation by the Survivor—who has the first-hand information—is imperative in the search process. Only the survivor can provide clues or links that will lead to an accurate match. That assessment supports our case for a widespread dissemination of access-ports in libraries and museums all over the country. To depend on a single access-gate at the USHMM in Washington, D.C., is bound to create intolerable bottlenecks and sufferings.  We hope that the USHMM directorate will keep this fact in mind while the appropriate software is being developed.

Leo Rechter is the elected president of the National Organization of Jewish Child Holocaust Survivors.

Congress Did the Right Thing on Burma

December 13th 2007

The US House of Representatives Tuesday adopted a measure intended to halt Burma's rubies and high-quality jade from entering the United States. The bill tightens already tough sanctions against a ruling military junta that killed peaceful pro-democracy protesters and Buddhist monks in September.

According to the bill, assets by Burma's leaders would be frozen and tax deductions would be curt off for any US companies working in Burma. Burma has a record of dodging US sanctions through laundering gemstones in third countries before selling them in the United States.

"Burma's generals fund this repression of their own people by selling off the country's natural resources, especially oil and gems, leaving the Burmese people in poverty," Tom Lantos, chair of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, said in a statement. Tightened sanctions would "ensure that the United States stands up to these thugs."

To avoid US sanctions, the Burma regime tries to hide the origin of the gemstones it ships to the US. The bill would also stop Burma's leaders from using US financial institutions in third countries to launder their money. Officials involved in the crackdown would be banned from getting US visas, as would their families. The bill would also cut off tax deductions for US companies working in Burma.

Similar legislation has been introduced in the Senate by Senator Biden, Chair of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, and with the co-sponsor of Senators McConnell, Boxer, Dodd, Leahy, and Feinstein.

The writer is President, Institute on Religion and Public Policy and Secretary General, Interparliamentary Conference on Human Rights and Religious Freedom. He can be reached at http://www.religionandpolicy.org/. 

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