San Diego Jewish World

*Tuesday Evening
, June 12, 2007    

Vol. 1, Number 43


Olmert suggests an international force between
Egypt and Palestinian Authority to stop smuggling

JERUSALEM (Press Release)—Prime Minister Ehud Olmert today met with Dutch Foreign Minister Maxime Verhagen and updated him on reports from the Gaza Strip regarding the latest violence – including acts of murder – between Fatah and Hamas. 

The Prime Minister said that the situation in the Gaza Strip was disturbing and worrying mainly regarding the ability of the pragmatic forces in the Palestinian Authority to stand against the extremist forces and act against the smuggling of weapons into the area.

6/12/07 SDJW Report
(click on headline below to jump to the story)

International and National

*Olmert suggests an international force between
Egypt and Palestinian Authority to stop smuggling

*Israel always intended to give back Golan—University of Haifa researcher

*Holocaust denial denounced at historic interfaith
gathering of Jews, Muslims, Hindus in Indonesia

*Germany completes compensation of WWII slave laborers

*Settling civil wars in Iraq, Palestine, difficult tasks

*Be it ever so dusty, there's no place like Israel

*ADL, AJC Praise Columbia University for its
statement on British academic boycott against Israel

prohibiting sale of jet parts to Iran wins
approval in the U.S. House of Representatives

Daily Features
*Jews in the News

*News Sleuths

*Jewish Grapevine

For Your Reference
San Diego Jewish Community Calendar

San Diego Jewish Community Directory

*'First' pitcher at Padres-Rays game heads for Israel league

Arts and Entertainment
*100-year-old's story is a true autobiography, not just a memoir

*Nostalgic Sassy Sarah Vaughan provides enjoyable evening

*Anderson Travel
*If you have a serious interest n Jewish culture
*JCC Fitness
*Jewish American Chamber of Commerce
*Project Sarah: Flowers Aren't Enough


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“If the Gaza Strip ultimately falls to Hamas, this will be of great regional significance,” Olmert said. “Israel is defending – and will defend – itself against any aggression by the terrorist organizations, according to its needs.  We cannot enter the Gaza Strip in order to fight the extremists on behalf of the Palestinian pragmatists.”

Prime Minister Olmert told Dutch Foreign Minister Verhagen that the West must act quickly in order to change the situation in the Gaza Strip and added that serious consideration
Olmert and Verhagen
must be given to the introduction of a multi-national force, similar to UNIFIL, to the Philadelphi corridor area in order to halt the strengthening of the extremist forces.

(Although Olmert and Verhagen did not divulge all that was said in their meeting, the Dutch Foreign Minister had come to Israel following a meeting in Cairo with Egypt's Foreign Minister Ahmad Abu Ghait.  Following the Egyptian-Dutch meeting, Verhagen had issued the following press release, dated June 11:)

In Cairo on 10 June, foreign minister Maxime Verhagen spoke extensively with his Egyptian colleague Ahmad Abu Ghait about the Palestine-Israeli conflict.

The two ministers expressed their countries’ wish to help negotiate a breakthrough in the impasse, possibly through measures to restore trust between the conflicting parties. Verhagen expressed his appreciation for Egypt’s mediation in the conflict.

The two ministers were agreed that the Palestinian rocket attacks from Gaza must stop and called for the release of Gilad Shalit, the Israeli corporal kidnapped in Gaza last year. Israel, in turn, must repay the tax money that it has collected from the Palestinians. Verhagen and Abu Ghait also believe that Israel must ease the travel restrictions on Palestinians.

The foregoing article utilized press releases provided by the Israel Prime Minister's Office and the Dutch Ministry of Foreign Affairs.




International and National.

Israel always intended to give back Golan—University of Haifa researcher Ben-Artzi

HAIFA (Press Release)—"The course of settling the Golan Heights was not spontaneous, as was previously thought. The settlement movement in the Golan was led by the political establishment with a very specific motive: to counter demands to withdraw from land conquered in June 1967 without a peace treaty between Syria and Israel. The motive was not territorial expansion," revealed Dr. Yigal Kipnes of the Land of Israel Studies Department at the University of Haifa, who has undertaken research into the settlement of the Golan Heights between 1967 and 1992.

Dr. Kipnes' research, under the direction of Prof. Yossi Ben-Artzi, studied the course of settlement in the Golan Heights over the initial twenty-five year period following the Six-Day War when the territory was captured from Syria. He found that decision makers had mixed motivations for moving forward with the policy of settling the area. While it was clear that the settlements would eventually become a political bargaining chip, as there was no way to speculate on a timetable for peace negotiations with Syria, a long-term settlement plan was drawn up for the entire area.

According to Dr. Kipnes, these conflicting principles influenced the settlement process from its initial phases, resulting in unrealistic targets in terms of population size, settlement location and timetable implementation. The initial settlement plan called for 45,000 to 55,000 residents to settle in the Golan Heights, with the majority (30,000 residents) concentrated in a city located in the central Golan. This master plan was never implemented. For economic reasons, new residents of the area preferred to settle in the southern Golan, close to the settlements in the Jordan Valley, or in the northern Golan, close to the established Upper Galilee communities. Dr. Kipnes further points out that the regional business enterprises and educational centers set up in the central Golan failed, and today, the majority of the Golan residents work and study outside of the Golan region.

The research found that for 25 years, the Israeli government hid their agenda from both the Israeli public and the international community, and explained how the Golan Heights was "transformed" from being an integrated, inseparable part of the State of Israel to a central point in the negotiations for peace between 1992 and 2000.  While the prevailing public assumption has been that the Golan Heights is an integral part of Israel, the underlying agenda of the Israeli government has been exactly the opposite, Dr. Kipnes found.

The preceding story was provided by the University of Haifa

Holocaust denial denounced at historic interfaith
gathering of Jews, Muslims, Hindus in Indonesia

BALI, Indonesia (Press Release)—In an historic first, Jewish leaders, including a Holocaust survivor, a rabbi from Israel and a survivor of a suicide bombing in Jerusalem addressed an interfaith conference in the world's most populous Muslim country. Tolerance Between Religions: A Blessing for All Creation was co-sponsored by the Wahid Institute, the Simon Wiesenthal Center's Museum of Tolerance, and LibForAll Foundation.

An audience of 100 community activists, young Imams, Muslim and Hindu students heard from victims of suicide terror in Jakarta, Bali and Jerusalem as well as Holocaust survivor Sol Teichman. Teichman tearfully recalled his family's deportation to Auschwitz, but urged survivors of terrorism, including a young Muslim man disfigured in the bombing of Jakarta's Marriott hotel four years ago to “never to give up hope,” and instead “become the voice of those who can no longer be heard.” The emotion-filled session, which also heard from Tzippy Cohen, an Australian-American woman injured in the horrific Cafe Hillel suicide bombing, was carried live to the Middle East and Europe on the Arabic language Al Hurra satellite network.

At the opening plenary, conference Chairman Abdurrahman Wahid, former President of Indonesia and a leader of some 40 million Muslims, blasted Iranian President Ahmadinejad’s campaign of denying the Holocaust: “President Ahmedinejad is a friend but when he lies about the Holocaust - he is wrong and I say so publicly.”  In a related development, Wahid co-authored an editorial in today’s Wall Street Journal with former Israeli Chief Rabbi and Holocaust survivor, Rabbi Israel Lau, entitled “The Evils of Holocaust Denial” which stated, in part,
“By lying about the events of the past, the deniers are paving the way toward the crimes of the future...Let us be clear: The real purpose of Holocaust denial is to degrade and dehumanize the Jewish people. By denying or trivializing the murder of six million Jews by the Nazis and their allies, the deniers are seeking to advance their notion that the victims of the 20th Century's greatest crime are, in fact, that century's greatest victimizers. By denying or trivializing the Holocaust, the deniers are seeking to rob Jews of their history and their memory -- and what is a people without history and memory?  Indeed, the deniers are perpetrating what is, in effect, a second genocide. Extinguished as they were from the ranks of the living, Hitler's Jewish victims are now, in effect, to be extinguished from the ranks of the dead.” Wahid and Lau wrote.

Ironically, Rabbi Lau was refused a visa for the gathering because he carries an Israeli diplomatic passport. Indonesia does not recognize the Jewish State.

Rabbi Daniel Landes, of Jerusalem's Pardes Institute was permitted to attend and together with President Wahid and Hindu leader, Sri Sri Ravi Shankar were the first to sign a “call to action” condemning the linkage between religion and violence and to condemn the justification by religious leaders of violence.

“Some crucial milestones were reached today. First that Jews were invited to the table as equals in the world's largest Muslim nation,” said Rabbi Abraham Cooper, associate dean of the Simon Wiesenthal Center. “Secondly we saw Muslim leaders explicitly and openly condemn suicide terror and Holocaust denial while publicly embracing victims of terror and a Holocaust survivor. We hope our collective call to action will awaken more voices across the Muslim world to join President Wahid's open condemnation of Ahmadinejad’s Holocaust denial and all those who invoke G-d's name spawn wanton violence,” the Wiesenthal Center official noted. Cooper, who moderated the day-long gathering, added that “the symbolism of convening this diverse group in Bali, the site of recent terrorism, we hope will also help the wonderful people of this region bring back their tourism to pre-terrorism levels.”

The preceding story was provided by the Simon Wiesenthal Center in Los Angeles.

Germany completes compensation of WWII slave laborers

BERLIN (Press Release)—The German fund set up to compensate people forced to work as slave laborers by the Nazis has completed the distribution of monies to victims of the regime. More than US$ 5.8 billion was paid to a total of 1.6 million beneficiaries. The fund, set up in 2001 and endowed with € 5 billion (US$ 6.7 in current values) is made up of contributions from Germany’s federal government and from German industry. The remainder of the fund will be spent on special projects, including humanitarian and medical programs for Nazi victims and education programs for young people. “The money has been paid and everything has run its course without a problem,” Otto Graf Lambsdorff, who negotiated the establishment of the fund on behalf of the German government, told German radio.

Though the fund compensated victims from Kiev to Tel Aviv to Los Angeles, the largest recipient groups were non-Jews in Poland and Ukraine, people exploited in large numbers in Germany's industries during World War II. Unlike Jews, who often were killed immediately in death camps, most non-Jewish forced laborers survived their ordeals. Individual payments from the fund were made depending on the degree of labor and were up to € 7,500 per individual.

The foregoing article was provided by the World Jewish Congress.

Letter from Jerusalem
_________________By Ira Sharkansky____________

Settling civil wars in Iraq, Palestine, difficult tasks

JERUSALEM—According to the New York Times: “The top American military commander for the Middle East has warned Iraq's prime minister in a closed-door conversation that the Iraqi government needs to make tangible political progress by next month to counter the growing tide of opposition to the war in Congress.”

That is better than a message to Ehud Olmert that Israel needs to make tangible political progress in order to counter the growing frustration about the Middle East in Congress.

Perhaps the administration has noticed that there is a Palestinian civil war, and that not much is likely to happen by way of Israeli-Palestinian peace until that is over.

The administration should also notice that there is a civil war on its doorstep in Iraq that may complicate whatever efforts the Iraqi prime minister might want to make toward tangible political progress. He may even be part of the civil war, or cautious about any political moves until he sees just what faction of which community is likely to be on top. Asking a Shiite prime minister in Baghdad to make nice with Sunni activists is not the same as asking Protestants to get on with Catholics in Indianapolis.

The accepted wisdom is that there is conflict "on the verge of civil war" in both Iraq and in Palestine. "Civil war" is a naughty word, suggesting that the great power has erred in its effort to control things.

In the last couple of days fighters of Hamas and Fatah have targeted each other's headquarters buildings and leading politicians in Gaza. Daily tolls are in the magnitude of 15-20 deaths. That is minor league by comparison with Iraq, but there are enough ugly details. One ranking captive was tossed from the roof of a 15-story building. It is more than a street corner dust-up between rival gangs.

The Palestinian conflict is only one factor likely to delay anything dramatic in our neighborhood. Another is fighting between Lebanese and Palestinians. Curiously, international human rights organizations are not as bothered about civilian casualties there as they are whenever Israel seeks to defend itself.

Yet another element in the likelihood of remaining with the status quo is the weakness of the Israeli government. "Lame duck" is heard in the midst of Hebrew commentary.

In this parliamentary system there does not have to be a national election until 2010, but no one I hear expects the government to last that long. Olmert has been weakened in public opinion and in his own party by criticism of his performance in last year's Lebanese war, and several charges of corruption. Yet there is no obvious replacement who has a stronger base of power, and none of the parties in his coalition are intent about trying their luck in an early election. Comments about leaving the coalition by each candidate in today's Labor Party primary sound more like campaign rhetoric than serious planning. The Labor Party is at a historic low in its electoral strength, with enough internal dissent to postpone any leap to greatness.

The other lame duck spends his time in Washington, or going to other world centers like Albania and Bulgaria in search of applause. No one hopeful of American aid is likely to spurn outright a message from Washington, but none are likely to go very far in compliance without knowing what kind of cooperation will prevail between the White House and Congress; and that seems unlikely before 2009.

Change can come quickly. Both Iran and Syria are likely sources of destabilization. But until there is something dramatic on breaking news, we can expect more of the same.





A Herald in Zion....
      Notes from Mevasseret Zion
Dorothea Shefer-Vanson

Be it ever so dusty, there's no place like Israel

MEVASSERET ZION, Israel—Coming back to Israel after a trip abroad almost always produces mixed feelings. Suddenly one realises how hot, dry and dusty the country still is, despite the valiant efforts of the authorities and the various settlement organizations, whether pre- or post-State, to plant trees and shrubs, sow crops and generally ‘make the desert bloom.’

Of course, there is no point comparing Israel with the countries of temperate Europe, where all is green and fertile. And the contrast with north America is even starker. The vastness, wealth and abundance of that part of the world is so striking as to put it in a category of its own.

But each time I visit the USA I cannot help having a mental image of the Jews of Germany who were refused refuge by any western country, despite the immense territories available to the USA, Canada and Australia, to name but a few. That helped to produce what became known as the Final Solution, wherein most of the Jews of Europe were systematically murdered.

And so, whenever I come back to this poor, arid land my heart swells. After all, it does have a strange beauty of its own. Yes, it’s imperfect. Yes, many of us are not happy with the government. Come to think ot it, about fifty percent of Americans aren’t too pleased with theirs. And probably the same will apply to England’s population at the next election. That’s what happens in democracies. The point is that one always has the right to protest, demonstrate and/or vote at the next election.

The idea here is, of course, that Israel is ‘a poor thing but our own.’ Here we can feel at home. Here we can defend ourselves and give our brethren refuge. And that is something we cannot always be sure of anywhere else.

The foregoing article was reprinted from the AJR Journal (Association of Jewish Refugees) in England. 

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Upcoming 2007 San Diego  sailings

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Sept 23-Dec 30: Princess Cruises: Dawn Princess: 7-day round trip to Mexico

Sept. 28: Celebrity Cruises: Summit: 14-day Hawaii

Sept. 29: Holland America: Oosterdam, 7-day Mexico.

ADL, AJC Praise Columbia University for its
statement on British academic boycott against Israel

NEW YORK (Press Release)—The Anti-Defamation League (ADL) and the American Jewish Committee today praised Columbia University President Lee C. Bollinger for his statement strongly denouncing the British University and College Union's call for a boycott against Israeli academic institutions as "antithetical to the fundamental values of the academy."

ADL welcomed President Bollinger's statement as a "principled stand" against the boycott attempt and praised his words as a model for other academic leaders and institutions of higher learning in the United States and around the world to follow.

"It is our hope that other university leaders around the United States and across the globe will join you in your statement and embrace these Israeli scholars and universities that the University and College Union has unfairly sought to penalize," Abraham H. Foxman, ADL National Director, wrote in a letter to President Bollinger.

"We believe it is vital for other leaders in the academic community to take a stand against the British boycott attempt and to send the message that this action constitutes a morally reprehensible, wrongheaded and fundamentally biased assault on Israel's academic institutions and scholars," Foxman said.

In a statement made available on Columbia University's Web site, President Bollinger said the recent UCU vote to pursue a boycott policy against Israeli institutions and academics, "… threatens every university committed to fostering scholarly and cultural exchanges that lead to enlightenment, empathy, and a much-needed international marketplace of ideas."  President Bollinger said that Columbia University would "… gladly stand together with our many colleagues in British, American and Israeli universities against such intellectually shoddy and politically biased attempts to hijack the central mission of higher education."

The American Jewish Committee said it "applauds today’s powerful statement by Columbia University President Lee Bollinger, saying that if British academics are going to boycott Israeli institutions, they 'should add Columbia to its boycott list, for we do not intend to draw distinctions between our mission and that of the universities you are seeking to punish.'

"Bollinger’s statement not only rejects the boycott, but also reflects a deep understanding that this is a watershed moment for academic freedom which requires firm action," the AJC said.

The foregoing article was based on informaiton  provided by the Anti-Defamation League and the American Jewish Committee

Bill prohibiting sale of jet parts to Iran wins
approval in the U.S. House of Representatives

WASHINGTON, DC—The House on Monday passed legislation by voice vote that prohibits the Pentagon from selling surplus F-14 fighter jet parts to Iran.

The Stop Arming Iran Act asserts that the sale of such parts "could make it more difficult to confront the nuclear weapons capability of Iran and would strengthen the ground war capability of Iran."

The legislation also notes the urgency of preventing arms sales to Tehran in light of its support for terrorist groups such as Hamas, Hizballah, Islamic Jihad and the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine. The bill was sponsored by Reps. Gabrielle Giffords (Democrat, Arizona) and Steve Pearce (Republican, New Mexico).

The preceding article was provided by the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC)


Daily Features

Jews in the News          
 Like you, we're pleased when members of our community are praiseworthy, and are disappointed when they are blameworthy.
Whether it's good news or bad news, we'll try to keep track of what's being said in general media about our fellow Jews. Our news spotters are Dan Brin in Los Angeles, Donald H. Harrison in San Diego, and you. Wherever you are,  if you see a story of interest, please send a summary and link to us at  To see a source story click on the link within the respective paragraph.

*The DVD of The Two of Us by Claude Berri is being released. The story concerns the bonding of a Jewish boy masquerading as a Catholic during World War II, and his bonding with an older, grandfatherly man, who is an anti-Semite unaware of the boy's true identity.  A brief summary is included in a roundup story by Susan King in today's Los Angeles Times.

*Homeland Security Secretary Michael Chertoff says New York City needs to be better prepared for a hurricane.  The combined wire service story is in today's Los Angeles Times.

*U.S. Senator Dianne Feinstein (Democrat, California) says the Senate is likely to approve legislation this year mandating higher miles-per-gallon ratios in new cars.  The story by Richard Simon is in today's Los Angeles Times.

San Diego Mayor Jerry Sanders has announced his backing for a law suit to force developer Aaron Feldman to limit the height of the Sunroad Enterprises building at Montgomery Field to 160 feet. The story by Jeff McDonald is one of the briefs included in a roundup in today's San Diego Union-Tribune.

*Creative differences may drive architect Frank Gehry from the second and third phases of the massive mixed-use, high-rise project on Grand Avenue of Los Angeles.  Architectural critic Christopher Hawthorne has the story in today's Los Angeles Times.

U.S. Senators Charles Schumer (Democrat, New York) and Arlen Specter (Republican, Pennsylvania) led the unsuccessful effort to bring a vote of no confidence to the floor of the U.S. Senate, but they were stymied because they could not round up 60 votes to prevent a filibuster. However, they did obtain more than a majority of the Senate.  The story by Richard B. Schmitt is in today's Los Angeles Times.

Stephen Schwarzman, chief executive officer of the Blackstone Group, pulled down a fairly decent wage in 2006: $400 million, which is more than $1 million per day.  The Associated Press story by Joe Bel Bruno is in today's San Diego Union-Tribune.

A forensic scientist in the trial of record producer Phil Spector said the fact that there was no blood spatter in front of Lana Clarkson's body may mean someone was standing between her and the wall when she was shot.  The story by Matt Krasnowski of the Copley News Service is in today's San Diego Union-Tribune. An overview of the case is provided by Associated Press writer Lynn Elber elsewhere in the San Diego Union-Tribune.

High school students in Sderot, an Israeli city adjacent to the Gaza Strip, were moved inland to take their examinations as sporadic rocket fire from Gaza continued.  Meanwhile within Gaza and the West Bank Hamas and Fatah factions continued their warfare in which 17 persons were killed  An Associated Press story by Sarah el Deeb is in today's San Diego Union-Tribune. A companion story by the Associated Press tells of a rocket grenade being fired at the home of Palestinian Prime Minister and Hamas leader Ismael Haniyeh without causing him injury.

A Universal Studio executive questioned Matthew Weiner by email whether he was an African-American, prompting him to respond that although the issue should not bear on his employment, he was a Jew from New York. The matter came up in a federal suit against Universal contending that Frank Davis was fired as an assistant director because he was African-American.  The story by Lorenza Muñoz is in today's Los Angeles Times.

Los Angeles City Councilman Jack Weiss contends the group trying to recall him are wealthy homeowners who wanted to control a multi-million dollar mitigation fund for a Century City development project, instead of sharing that control with the City of Los Angeles. The story by Steve Hymon is in today's Los Angeles Times.

 News Sleuths:

Watching the media gathering and reporting the news of Jewish interest

Date: June 11, 2007
Place: United Nations, New York City
The spokeswoman:
Michèle Montas, office of Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon
Source: United Nations transcript
Subject: Israel and Iran

Question:  There have been reports of major Israeli and American military exercises and (inaudible) similar threats from Israel that they would attack Iran.  We haven’t heard any comments from the Secretary-General regarding these exercises or threats.  Even today when he was asked about it, he talked about Gaza.  Is he deliberately ignoring what’s happening there, or did he not get the question right?

Spokesperson:  Well, first, we don’t comment on threats.

Comment:  But the Secretary-General has commented and made a statement regarding alleged threats by the Iranian President regarding Israel.  But whenever Israel is threatening Iran, and they do that regularly, we don’t have any reaction from him.

Spokesperson:  What is your question?

Question:  My question is, do we have any reaction from the Secretary-General regarding this threat to international peace and security, especially in a very sensitive area like the Gulf, where oil supplies could be threatened if a war breaks out?  We have heard from Shaul Mofaz himself recently talking about 100 Tomahawks launched against Iran.  Is the Secretary-General not concerned about this?

Spokesperson:  He is certainly concerned.  He is following the situation.

Question:  Can we expect a statement on it?

Spokesperson:  I don’t know at this point. I will let you know.

Date: June 12, 2007
Place: White House Press Briefing Center
The spokesman:
Tony Snow
Source: White House transcript
Subject: Iran-U.S.

Q...Senator Lieberman said that the U.S. should be prepared to take, "aggressive military action against Iran." And my question: Does the President disagree with the idea of a preemptive military strike on Iran, which continues its attempt to produce nuclear bombs, or does he agree with President Truman's preemptive A-bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki?

MR. SNOW: I'm not sure that the President is going to go back and hand out grades to Harry Truman, other than to note that he was somebody who had to make tough decisions in difficult times.

What the President has always said is, when it comes to Iran, we want to bring international pressure to bear, so that we do not get to the point where we have to worry about a nuclear Iran, especially one that may have the capability to place nuclear warheads on a theater or intercontinental ballistic missile, and therefore, jeopardize the stability of the region in, in fact, not only the Middle East, but also Europe and Asia.

So at this juncture, that is really where our efforts lie. When it comes to any other things, those are sheer speculation. What the President will do is what he considers absolutely necessary to keep this country and its people safe.

Q Thanks.

Date: June 12, 2007
Place: U.S. State Department
The spokesman: Sean McCormack

Source: State Department transcript
Subject: Syria, Israel, Palestinian Authority

QUESTION: Sorry, just one more. Syria says that it's ready to negotiate peace with Israel but it won't accept any of the conditions that Israel apparently has laid down. I wondered whether you had any response to that, especially in the light of Prime Minister Olmert's visit next week when the Syrian issue is apparently going to be discussed.

MR. MCCORMACK: Right. Well, we have said before, I'll repeat for you, that we're not going to make decisions on behalf of Israel about its foreign policy. But if you take a look at recent Syrian behavior in the region -- not even recent, going back years -- I don't know if you'll find any indication of a state and a regime that has an interest in coming over to the side of negotiation as opposed to the use of violent extremism in order to achieve political ends. So if there's any indication of that, certainly it hasn't been discernible to the human eye. And again, Israel will have to make its own decisions, but you know, I'm not sure that there's any indication from this regime that it is actually interested in a serious dialogue about settling differences via peaceful means.

QUESTION: Has the Bush Administration privately or otherwise proposed something to Syria analogous to the Qadhafi deal?

MR. MCCORMACK: To the Qadhafi deal?

QUESTION: Yeah, whereby in exchange for renouncing weapons or other activities the United States doesn't like, we can move forward on some kind of better footing --

MR. MCCORMACK: Not to my knowledge. But you know, again, this isn't just activities that we don't like. These are activities that are harmful to the interests of everybody in the region. If you just ask the Lebanese, many Lebanese, what they think about Syrian activities in Lebanon, ask the Palestinian people what they think about -- think about the Syrian Government supporting violent extremist Palestinian rejectionist groups, I think you're seeing some of the effects of that now in the Gaza Strip of some of this terrible fighting that is going on there.

Let's be clear about it. These -- this most recent round of violence started up by the "military wing of Hamas" was coming just at the point as you started to see some of the Qassam rocket attacks go down, that you saw the Egyptian Government in Gaza trying to bring the various political factions within the Palestinian areas to some sort of agreement so that you could end the violence. And once again it has flared up in an ugly way, and that is because you are seeing those who are irreconcilable to any political process or participation in a political process, nevermind negotiating peace with Israel, acting to subvert any hope of reducing the violence emanating out of the Gaza Strip.


QUESTION: Can I -- just one general question. The meeting between Prime Minister Olmert and Abbas is being postponed and, as far as I know, there isn't another date yet. Do you think that -- I mean, how do you see what's happening at the moment in terms of the role that you've been trying to play to push the peace process forward? Do you think that you're making headway? Do you think that because of the chaos that you just can't find any opportunity in that chaos? I mean, where are you?

MR. MCCORMACK: Well, we -- well, first of all, the fact of their not meeting -- they are going to have to decide -- make these decisions about exactly the when and the where. We leave it -- we leave it to them. I'm not going to tell you we don't encourage -- we're not encouraging them to get together. We have. Secretary Rice has said that she will continue to do so, and we do.

We're confident they are going to meet together, if for no other reason than both see it in their interest to meet together to try to work on problem solving. There's a mutual -- there is a mutual interest there. And certainly we think it is in the interest of both parties to try to start a dialogue on the whole spectrum of issues in -- ranging from the most minute to some of the most important that remain between the Israelis and the Palestinians to try to eventually come to a political accommodation that results in an Israel and a Palestine.

The violence in Gaza is certainly nothing that anybody wants to see, but ultimately it is the Palestinians that need to reconcile the political differences that are at the root of this violence. You know, there are, again, quite clearly two pathways that the Palestinian people can take, and there's the pathway of Palestine via the negotiating table, which is the only way that you're going to realize a Palestine, or they can continue down this pathway in which a violent few can drag an entire population into a miserable, violent, awful situation in which kids can't take their final exams at high school, they can't take their university exams. And that's a situation nobody wants to see.

But ultimately it's going to be the Palestinians that need to sort out their politics and make a decision about which pathway they want to go down. You know, Israel, of course, has things that it needs to do as well. So there is a certain -- there are a certain number of things that we can do. There are a certain number of things that we can encourage people to do, that we can push people to do, that we can intervene to do. But there are some irreducible things that, for example, the Israelis and the Palestinians need to do for themselves.

QUESTION: But the Secretary at one point had said she'd hoped to go every month and that hasn't happened. Are you losing steam here?

MR. MCCORMACK: Well, no, certainly not. If you measure -- if you measure it in terms of the activity that is ongoing that you don't always see with the Secretary talking to her foreign counterparts; David Welch, Elliott Abrams, others talking to their counterparts, trying to move the process forward. It's -- look, the Middle East is unpredictable and you set out -- you set out targets for action with the intent of meeting them. Sometimes -- sometimes circumstance will dictate that it is better to give people a little time and space in order to have more effective meetings, to allow them to take more effective action.

But this is not something that the Secretary -- it is not an issue that the Secretary is in any way losing focus on. It is not in any way an issue that she is devoting any less energy to. And she remains committed to trying to move forward an Israeli-Palestinian track, moving forward an Israeli-Arab track. The Quartet has already committed itself to meeting towards the end of this month first with Israelis and Palestinians then with Arab representatives. So again, that's another -- one more benchmark.

I know this is a -- sometimes an issue where it's difficult and -- difficult to measure progress in any other way than having meetings, but we hope to get to the point where you don't just measure progress in what meetings you're having, what phone calls you're having, but actually seeing results on the ground. And that's what the Secretary is going to continue driving toward.

The Jewish Grapevine

BASEBALL JEWS—From the pages of today's San Diego Union-Tribune: Kevin Youkilis of the Boston Red Sox is currently listed as the fifth best hitter in the American League with a .336 average... Shawn Green, who had been sidelined with a broken bone in his foot, was activated by the New York Mets before last night's game with the Los Angeles Dodgers.

CELL PHONES AND GORILLAS—Kolenu, the weekly newsletter of Soille San Diego Hebrew Day School, reports as follows: "1st Grader Bruce Fleury is working with the San Diego Zoo Cell Phone Recycling Program as part of hist 1st Grade Animal Report and Project. What happens to old out-of-date phones?  It's estimated that more than 100 million cell phones are thrown away, or stuffed in a drawer, each year. Did you know that cell phones here in the United States and elsewhere have a connection to the well-being of gorillas and other animals in central Africa?  Here's the 4-1-1: cell phones contin a rare ore called coltan (short for columbite-tantalite). This metal is found in central Africa, and increased mining operation to get the coltan means habitat loss and increased hunting pressure on gorillas and other wildlife. Please dig up your old cell phones and bring them in.  Look for the cell phone recycling bin in the 1st Grade Class Room."

ISRAEL DEBATE—In the continuing Israel vs. the Arab debates that recur in the letters column of The San Diego Union-Tribune, Israel was attacked on the USS Liberty issue by Steve Kowit of Potrero and defended by Mark Bernstein of Riverside.

IN MEMORY—Shirley Gross, 92, mother of Rochelle Samuels, died Thursday, May 31, and was buried at El Camino Memorial Park.  A short obituary is in today's San Diego Union-Tribune.... Ira Ravel
, 73, died Sunday, June 10, leaving his wife Jackie, son Jeffrey and Bruce, and sister Marilyn Reinman and two grandchildren.  His brief obituary is in today's San Diego Union-Tribune.

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Not Necessarily kosher
      Bruce Lowitt 

'First' pitcher at Padres-Rays game heads for Israel league

ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. - Ben Pincus probably got as close tonight as he'll ever get to pitching in the major leagues. He threw out  the ceremonial first pitch before the San Diego Padres-Tampa Bay Devil Rays game.
For the time being, anyway, the 23-year-old from St. Petersburg will have to be satisfied pitching for the Bet Shemesh Blue Sox, who drafted him to play in the inaugural season of the Israel Baseball League this summer.

Maybe some day he'll write about the experience. He just graduated from the University of North Florida in Jacksonville with a degree in journalism.

"My baseball career isn't over, obviously," he said, adding with a smile, "I don't see myself ending up pitching in Tropicana Field [the Devil Rays' home] anytime soon. Still, what I'll be doing is an opportunity these [major leaguers] never had.

"It's unbelievable. I can't express how excited I am to have an opportunity to play in the Israel League, especially in its first year."
Pincus said his brother sent him an e-mail a few months ago about the IBL. He contacted the league, never heard anything for a month, then got an e-mail asking him to attend a tryout in - where else? - Miami. He did, and was sufficiently impressive that he was offered a contract on the spot.
Bet Shemesh is about 20 minutes outside Jerusalem.

"The way [the six-team league] is set up," Pincus explained, "there was only one baseball stadium in Israel. But with the backing they've had they've just finished building two more. So two teams will share each one.
Pincus has been to Israel, on an Operation Birthright trip about two years ago, and says he isn't worried about going back for an extended stay.
"A lot of people have asked me if I'm nervous about the situation over there. I'm really not," he said. "I have family over there. It's like, if you stay where you're supposed to and don't go where you're not, I think you're just as safe as anywhere in America."
Pincus spent last year rehabilitating from shoulder surgery. Before that he pitched for Tennessee Tech as a freshman and sophomore, then for North Florida.
"Like every kid that plays baseball, I had dreams of playing [in the majors] and coming out of high school I got a scholarship to a Division I college, so the dream was still kind of there," Pincus said.
"But after my sophomore year I had knee surgery and during my junior year I had shoulder surgery. I wouldn't say I gave up after that but I kind of put it deep in the back of my mind."
Pincus' college pitching record was, to put it kindly, undistinguished.
"My last season I was in only five games and didn't get a decision," he said. "My sophomore year I was our # 2 starter, but we weren't that good a team. I was tied for the team lead in wins with two. But at North Florida we were the No. 1 team in the country for a time and went to the Division II
College World Series national championship game.
"Although my stats in college weren't anything to brag about," Pincus said, "I wouldn't change any of the experiences I had."




Arts, Entertainment & Dining


If you have a serious interest in Jewish culture
and you would enjoy writing reviews, attending premieres, reporting on special events, then

San Diego Jewish World

may have just the volunteer position for you.

We're looking for columnists and writers on a wide variety of subjects who can help us interpret the Jewish experience.  Please contact Don Harrison, editor, at (619) 265-0808 or via this email link if you are interested in joining our creative team


People of the Books

100-year-old's story is a true autobiography, not just a memoir
Laura Simon's tenacity and phenomenal memory account for 'amazing' read

I AM STILL HERE by Laura Simon; Montezuma Publishing;  428 pages; no price listed.

Reviewed by Norman Manson

SAN DIEGO—Amazing is a very mild word in describing this book. Just the idea that a 100-year-old woman is able to tell her life story, reduce it to readable prose and get  it published is a feat worthy of great acclaim.

But the book's value goes well beyond the mere fact of its publication. For one thing, Laura Simon's memory is absolutely phenomenal, from her childhood  in the grubby precincts of Chicago to the account of her recent days as a senior citizen in San Diego. In addition, her descriptive powers and the glimpses into her outlook on life - her philosophy if you will - make this work a true autobiography, more than a mere memoir.

What stands out in this voluminous collection of vignettes is Simon's tenacity, her perseverance in the face of obstacles large and small. Finishing the book and having it published is undoubtedly the greatest testament to this facet of her character, but the book is studded with examples of her refusal to give up the fight, even in the face of great odds.

Simon was born in 1905 into what would now be termed a dysfunctional family of Jewish immigrants. Her parents divorced (rather unusual for that time) and verbal battles involving them, her stepmother and other relatives seem to have been the norm. Still, she reminisces about good times as well as bad, even if overall she does not seem to have had a happy childhood. 

She did have a happy marriage, however, as shown by the fact that she continued to write love letters to her Mannie long after he had passed away, reliving their half-century of life together, with a few sad reminiscences mingled with mostly happy ones. She writes of being courted by several other men, even in her seventies and eighties, but none of them measured up to her beloved husband.

The book's final chapters, dealing with Simon's struggles with the infirmities of advancing age, are the section which most illustrates her determination, especially shown in her encounters with doctors and other medical practitioners. In fact, she calls determination the secret of her life -"I must get there," she writes in the book's concluding chapter, marking her100th birthday.

For one thing, she absolutely refuses to even think of entering a nursing home, even as she faces enormous difficulties in getting help with housework and other menial chores.    

Through it all, the reader is struck by her generally upbeat outlook, her interest in her surroundings and continuing relationships with family, friends and even casual acquaintances.

Although legally blind and hard of hearing, she is still captivated by the sights and sounds of such places as La Jolla Shores. And her final paragraph pretty well sums up her philosophy of life:

"All the while we are still aging, like good wine or champagne. Life begins to taste better. As we look upwards, the bad things begin to fade away, the ashes, smoke and grief. All you remember then is the good, like the values of childhood, the values of past generations that have been given to us, that we hand over to generations that follow. Now, as I stand here at this great height, and look out to the world around me, all I see is beauty."

The book is not always easy reading - there are non-sequiturs, and occasionally one cannot be sure who is being quoted in a particular passage - but overall it is an outstanding example of an exploration in depth of a thoroughly fascinating life.

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Arts in Review

 by Carol Davis    

Nostalgic Sassy Sarah Vaughan provides enjoyable evening

SAN DIEGO—Random acts of kindness, doing the right thing, tzedakah are not limited to one race, one religion or one people. They happen everywhere, all the time and mostly when we least expect it.

Recently I was invited to see a show produced by the Ira Aldridge Repertory Players. Founding father Calvin Mason shared a story with the audience about a time when he had helped a homeless woman find some dignity when he had invited her to see one of his shows as his guest. Fifteen years later, she found him again and presented him with a check to help his theatre company because through his act of kindness, she picked herself up, went back to her home town, finished her education and made a success of herself.

I tell this story because the Ira Aldridge Repertory Players is not a rich company as far as money is concerned; they are as far as heart is, though. They were established in 1984 as a labor of love by Manson. Their mission is “to produce and present artistic performances that bring people together, provoke thought, inspire hope, and create understanding. The IARP is a not for profit arts organization that provides a unique experience in the tradition in the  Black African American  art form and culture in three key areas: Theatre, Education and Public programs.

Recently, the IARP presented a stylish tribute to Sarah Vaughan, Sassy Sara Vaughan, The Divine One, in a West Coast Premiere,  written and directed by Calvin Mason, with musical direction by Vick Kemp and starring Ayanna Hobson as the Divine One.  Accompanying Hobson on piano is Kemp, Jeanette Greene on acoustic Bass, Al Torre on drums and Earl Vault (great) on tenor sax.

Vaughan, who was born in 1924 in Newark, N.J. and was rated one of greatest jazz vocalists along with Ella Fitzgerald (Mason did a show on her as well) and Billie Holiday. Her voice was operatic in range and she admitted she had considered opera as a career. Her mother gave her piano lessons even though the
                                                                                               Ayanna Hobson portrays Sara Vaughan
family struggled to get by. Her professional  career took off when she won an amateur contest in Harlem’s Apollo Theatre in 1942 singing “Body and Soul”

Some of the greats she sang with were the Earl Hines’ Orchestra, Billy Eckstine, Dizzy Gillespie and Charlie Parker.   I recall seeing her in my home town in concert in the late ‘40’ early ‘50’s and she was Sassy then and remained so throughout her career. She continued to be a top live attraction right up to the time of her death in 1990.

The dinner and show last a little over two hours in a little out of the way restaurant, Caesar’s Café at 801 ‘C’ Street through July 1.  The dinner shows are scheduled Fridays and Saturdays at 7pm and Sunday at 2pm.

Throughout the program Hobson takes on the persona of Vaughan telling her story, her successes, her struggles and then breaking out in song. The audience is taken back to 1959 Chicago at Mr. Kelly’s Nightclub where a live recording session with Sarah Vaughan is in progress.

No less than 22 songs were sung for us that night, some I recall vividly… “Misty,” “They Can’t Take That Away From Me,” “All Of Me,” “Lullaby of Birdland,” “Body and Soul,” “Tenderly,” “Send in the Clowns,”  “I Can’t Give You Anything But Love,” “Just in Time,” and  “Exactly Like You.”  Others I know I’ve heard, but  they never stuck with me.  And while I don’t have total recall of Vaughan’s sound, I know there were times I could close my eyes and hear her. Other times I found Hobson wanting.

Overall the evening is entertaining, sometimes it dragged on, but listening to a voice of one of the greats from the past is always a treat.

Over the years, the IARP has helped over 20 other community groups to raise money for their organizations, in particular Las Munecas, an African American women’s charity that raises funds for the Elementary Institute of Sciences.  Giving is always good for the soul.

See you at the theatre.

EDITOR’S NOTE: Throughout Sara Vaughan's career, she drew on the works of Jewish composers and lyricists ranging from the Gershwin brothers to Stephen Sondheim, as well as upon their non-Jewish counterparts.  For example, here are the credits for some of the songs mentioned in this review. "They Can’t Take That Away From Me"-- George and Ira Gershwin;  "All of Me" – Gerald Marks and Seymour Simons; “Body and Soul”— Edward Heyman, Robert Sour, Frank Eyton and Johnny Green; “Tenderly”—Walter Lloyd Gross, Jack Lawrence;  “Send in the Clowns” – Stephen Sondheim; “Just in Time”— Jule Styne, Adolph Green, Betty Comden; “I Can’t Give You Anything But Love”—Jimmy McHugh/ Dorothy Fields; “Exactly like you”/ Jimmy McHugh; "Lullaby of Birdland – George Shearing; and  "Misty"—Erroll Garner.

 For more information about Las Munecas: About IARP: