San Diego Jewish World

                                            Monday Evening
, June 25, 2007    

                                                                      Vol. 1, Number 56

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Olmert at Sharm el-Sheikh offers release of 250 Palestinian prisoners without 'blood on their hands'
Israel's PM pledges freer West Bank movement, humanitarian aid for Gaza

SHARM EL-SHEIKH, Egypt (Press Release)—Following is the text of a statement delivered today by Israel's Prime Minister Ehud Olmert, who is shown at left during a meeting with (from left to right) Jordan's King Abdullah II, Egypt's President Hosni Mubaraek and Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas.

The text was released by the Office of the Prime Minister:

"I wish to thank my friends, the President of Egypt and the King of Jordan, for their initiative in holding this meeting, which is likely to provide us with the push we need to advance the political process between Israel and the Palestinians and between Israel and other countries in the Middle East.  This summit can move the region towards a better future and create hope for the peoples of the region, hope which they deserve, hope for which they yearn.

6/25/07 SDJW Report
(click on headline below to jump to the story)

International and National
Mideast Peace—Olmert at Sharm el-Sheikh offers release of 250 Palestinian prisoners without 'blood on their hands'

Gaza—U.N. Humanitarian Relief Coordinator blames
Palestinian rocket attacks for border closure

LebanonU.N. condemns murder of UNIFIL peacekeepers

Hamas—AJCongress urges defeat, not reconciliation, for Hamas

Israel—ChinaIsrael's Abramovitch is off to China to discuss bilateral relations

Israel Living
Maestro, a little drilling music, please

First Amendment
ADL rues Supreme Court decision limiting taxpayers' ability to file First Amendment suits

Rehiring GaysAckerman, Lantos urge State Department to hire Arabic- and Farsi-speaking gays dismissed by the Pentagon

Private Schools—Independent school group mulls Torah lessons


Letter— 'Once Again that European Sickness is Upon Us."

CatalinaMy Husband the Long Distance Swimmer Heads for Catalina.

Israel BaseballThese Modiin miracles weren't oil nor menorah

Anderson Travel
JCC Fitness
Jewish American Chamber of Commerce

"I believe that the conditions are ripe for this.  I intend to exhaust every avenue, together with you, so that we do not disappoint this hope, and transform it into reality.  I am naturally optimistic, and it is precisely during these stormy past few days that I see a chance as well.  An opportunity has been created to advance seriously the political process in the region, and I do not intend to let this opportunity pass.

"The new government in the Palestinian Authority, which recognizes Israel’s right to exist and a solution of two states for two peoples, which is ready to implement the agreements signed, one which eschews terror and violence as a means and a goal, and a government which has no members of terrorist organizations, is a government which we recognize.  We will work together to implement the Roadmap and advance the goals set out therein.

"Today I met with the President of the Palestinian Authority, Mahmoud Abbas, and informed him that we will work with the new government and maintain continuous ties with it.  We will continuously pass on the tax monies which we collect; we will renew the security and economic cooperation between us; we will improve the freedom of movement of the Palestinian population in Judea and Samaria in a significant manner; we will renew and expand trade relations between us in Judea and Samaria, which will lead to economic well-being.  The residents of Judea and Samaria will feel that the choice of a path which is not terror and violence, but rather a path of dialogue and peace opens up new political possibilities and leads to a better life, one which is more comfortable and tranquil.



"I acceded to the request of Mahmoud Abbas to continue humanitarian assistance for the Palestinian population living in the Gaza Strip.  We will continue to provide this population with electricity, water, medical services, food and medications, in order to prevent a humanitarian crisis.

Olmert, Abbas

"We have no interest in punishing this population simply because it is ruled by a terrorist organization and extremist forces interested in destruction and ruin.  We cannot and we will not cooperate with these forces, who wish to lead the region into ruin and prevent the moderate Palestinian people from realizing its aspirations.

"We agreed to meet at least once every two weeks, in order to advance all the issues on our shared agenda, both in the short- and long-term, in order to create the necessary political horizon and the appropriate conditions which will lead, as soon as possible, to discussions on the establishment of a Palestinian state, which will live beside us in peace and security.  I have no intention of delaying this; on the contrary, I will make every effort to expedite the process which will lead us to negotiations on the establishment of a Palestinian state alongside the State of Israel. 
(Jump to continuation)

U.N. Humanitarian Relief Coordinator blames
Palestinian rocket attacks for border closure

UNITED NATIONS, N.Y (Press Release)— Kevin Kennedy, the United Nations Humanitarian Coordinator for the occupied Palestinian territory has condemned today’s rocket attacks that led to the closure of the Kerem Shalom border crossing between Israel and the Gaza Strip.

Kevin Kennedy said in a statement issued in Jerusalem that “such attacks are completely unacceptable and endanger the provision of vital humanitarian assistance to the civilian population of Gaza.”

Kerem Shalom is one of the few crossings between Israel and Gaza, where UN relief officials have warned critical food shortages are looming because of restrictions or closures of crossings since deadly intra-Palestinian fighting erupted earlier this month.

In his statement Kennedy called on all parties to respect international humanitarian law, adding that he continued to work to ensure appropriate security and access conditions for the passage of humanitarian goods through the crossing points.


U.N. condemns murder of UNIFIL peacekeepers

UNITED NATIONS, N.Y (Press Release)--The Security Council, Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon and the United Nations Interim Force in Lebanon (UNIFIL) have strongly condemned yesterday’s bomb attack in southern Lebanon that killed six UN peacekeepers and seriously wounded two others.

The peacekeepers from Spain and Colombia were on a patrol about 5:30 yesterday afternoon near the town of Khiyam, located in the eastern sector of UNIFIL’s area of operation, when the explosion occurred.

The mission has begun an investigation to determine exactly what happened, but initial findings indicate that a car bomb was detonated by remote control.

Condemning the attack “in the strongest terms,” the Council today reaffirmed its complete support of the Force in carrying out its mandate to help implement the UN resolution ending last year’s war between the Israeli Defense Forces (IDF) and Hizbollah.

Council members appealed to all sides in Lebanon “to abide scrupulously by their obligation to respect the safety of the UNIFIL and other United Nations personnel,” Ambassador Johan Verbeke of Belgium, which holds the rotating Council presidency, said in a statement.

He added that this included “avoiding any course of action which endangers United Nations personnel and… ensuring UNIFIL is accorded full freedom of movement throughout its area of operations.”

The presidential statement also noted that the Lebanese Government has condemned the bombing and welcomed the Government’s commitment to bring the perpetrators of the attack to justice.

In a statement issued by his spokesperson in Paris, where the Secretary-General is travelling, Ban said he was deeply saddened by the attack and called for a full investigation “into this very disturbing incident.”

Mr. Ban “notes the fragility of the situation in Lebanon and reiterates the importance of UNIFIL’s mandate for stability in the area,” the statement added, describing the targeting of mission members as “in fact an attempt to undermine peace and security in the region and in particular the Lebanese and international efforts to stabilize the situation in southern Lebanon.”

UNIFIL Force Commander Maj.-Gen. Claudio Graziano called the bombing “the most serious incident since the end of the war last summer” and joined others in extending condolences to the families of the victims. He stressed that all UNIFIL troops remained committed to carrying out their mission.

A commemoration ceremony for the peacekeepers took place today at Camp Cervantes, the headquarters of UNIFIL’s Sector East, and was attended by representatives of UNIFIL, Spain, Colombia and Lebanon. The six troops were also posthumously awarded the Lebanese Army’s War Medal, Military Valour Medal and the Medal for Battle Wounds.

The preceding story was provided by the United Nations

AJCongress urges defeat, not reconciliation, for Hamas

NEW YORK, N.Y (Press Release)— AJCongress President Richard S. Gordon and Executive Director Neil B. Goldstein on Friday, June 22, released the following statement:

The American Jewish Congress applauds the unequivocal stand taken by President Bush and Prime Minister Olmert to work with Palestinian moderates and to eschew all contact with the extremist Hamas.

President Bush got it exactly right when, according to the White House spokesman, he characterized the struggle with Hamas as an “ideological conflict.”

That position puts Mr. Bush at odds with all those who now counsel Palestinian President Abbas to seek a rapprochement with Hamas.

For the sake of peace, as well as out of an enduring commitment to Israeli security, Hamas must be defeated — not brought back into a share of power.

Our conclusion is based on recent experience.  Both Egypt and Jordan, home respectively to the Moslem Brotherhood and Islamic Action Front, which share the ideology and are organizationally linked to Hamas, have long sought to co-opt the Moslem fundamentalists in their midst by creating a small political space in which the fundamentalist groups can operate.  Along with Saudi Arabia, they tested that strategy with regard to Hamas, trying to broker agreements between the Palestinian factions.  The latest attempt was the Mecca Accord engineered by Saudi Arabia, which resulted in the short-lived “unity” government in which Hamas and Fatah shared power.  That strategic approach might have worked under other circumstances.  But, given the rise of al Qaeda and the Iranian campaign to extend its influence throughout the Arab Middle East, combined with the weakness of Arab moderates, this approach has not resulted in the hoped-for outcome.

The way to triumph over these tendencies is to begin by recognizing that the fight against this form of Islamic extremism is a fight to the death.  Arab states and some Palestinians will be tempted to try to broker a deal with Hamas.  Instead they must take the current example of the Lebanese government with regard to the extremist elements operating within Palestinian refugee camps.  They must end once and for all the policy of pretending they can tame the extremists who endanger not only the chance of a resolution with Israel but the established order throughout the Arab world.

We will not detail the tactical steps required to accomplish these goals.  They are clear enough to anyone who understands the critical issue.  The very real extremists cannot be tolerated, and the relative moderates must be empowered.

 The preceding article was provided by the American Jewish Congress.


Israel's Abramovitch is off to China to discuss bilateral relations

JERUSALEM (Press Release) — Aharon Abramovitch, the director general of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, left Sunday, July 24, for his first visit to China. During the four-day visit, he will meet with China's Foreign Minister Yang Jiechi and senior officials of the Foreign Ministry to discuss Israel-China relations, Middle East issues and Iran.

Abramovitch will also learn about the preparations for the Beijing Olympics and Expo 2010 scheduled to take place in Shanghai, in which Israel is planning on participating.

At the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, officials expressed great satisfaction with the way relations, established 15 years ago, are developing between the two countries. Encouraging the friendship and cultural ties and the steadily rising trade (more than $3 billion in 2006) with China is very important to Israel.

The preceding article was provided by Israel’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs


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

 Maestro, a little drilling music, please

Since I am a coward and am also addicted to classical music, one of the reasons I am prepared to visit my dentist is that his radio is tuned to the classical music programme on the radio.

Things haven’t always been harmonious between my dentist and me. He has an aversion to Christian liturgical music. But some of the best music belongs to that category, and on Sunday afternoons the radio broadcasts music for Israel’s Christian community. That means that I never make an appointment for a Sunday afternoon.

On my last midweek visit, however, the only sound was the shrill scream of the drill. When I inquired as to the cause the dentist explained that the radio authorities had changed the strength of their transmitter, and there was too much interference to make listening to music enjoyable. 

I knew what he meant. A few weeks earlier all the radios in our house appeared to lose their tuning. I had attributed this to our cleaner, who prefers oriental music or, worse still, the incessant babble of the news and phone-in programmes, to classical music.

According to my dentist it was all a conspiracy on the part of the authorities because the audience that listens to classical music is small and not very vociferous. Nevertheless, a recent attempt to close the station down was foiled after a protest campaign was mounted by the listening public.

I was faced with the prospect of a series of long and unpleasant dental treatments without the solace of music. For a moment I was downcast. But the solution came to me in a flash of inspiration. The next time I took along a tiny radio with earphones. The rich tones of a Schubert sonata filled my ears. And I smiled as I settled down to enjoy my session in the dentist’s chair.

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

Nancy Harrison of Anderson Travel presents: Adventures in Cruising

Watch this ad for different cruising photos; the adventures can be yours.  Call Nancy Harrison to help you book a cruise from San Diego or anywhere  at (619) 265-0808 or email her by clicking this ad.  

Carnival Elation mural by Israeli artist
Calman Shemi

San Diego  to Mexico cruising

ADL rues Supreme Court decision limiting taxpayers' ability to file First Amendment suits

NEW YORK, NY (Press Release)— The Anti-Defamation League (ADL) today expressed disappointment in the U.S. Supreme Court decision in Hein v. Freedom From Religion Foundation, calling it a "setback to religious liberty in America."  In a narrow 5-4 ruling, the Court concluded that taxpayers have "standing to sue" only when Congress spends money in a way that violates the freedom of religion clauses of the Constitution.

ADL had joined a coalition of civil rights groups in a friend-of-the-court brief urging the Court not to overturn an important rule that gives taxpayers the right to challenge inappropriate government endorsement of religion in federal court.

Marvin Nathan, ADL Civil Rights Chair, and Deborah M. Lauter, ADL Civil Rights Director, issued the following statement:

The Supreme Court's decision in Hein v. Freedom From Religion Foundation significantly curtails the right of taxpayers to take the government to court when it spends their tax dollars in a way that unconstitutionally advances or hurts religion, a right which has been a bedrock of religious liberty in this country.  It is an unfortunate and disappointing setback to religious liberty in America.  Importantly, however, this decision does not limit the ability of participants in government-funded faith-based programs to sue in court if they are subjected to discrimination or unconstitutional proselytizing.  Those battles remain to be fought another day.

The Court largely ignored the fact that no congressional legislation has authorized the President's faith-based initiative.  It cannot be that the many billions of dollars that have been made available to faith-based institutions under the President's program are immune from challenge by taxpayers.

Acknowledging this major gap in enforcement of the freedom of religion clauses, Justice Kennedy, in his concurrence to the opinion, tries to ease concerns about the decision by expressing his faith in government officials to "make a conscious decision to obey the Constitution."   But such self-policing by government officials is not, and has never been, good enough to ensure compliance with the law. 

We are pleased that the Court refused the urging of some conservative organizations to completely reject taxpayer standing to challenge congressional appropriations that violate the separation of church and state.  However, as Justice Souter pointed out in his dissent, "When executive agencies spend identifiable sums of tax money for religious purposes, no less than when Congress authorizes the same thing, taxpayers suffer injury."  Highlighting the danger posed by today's decision, he added that "if the Executive could accomplish through the exercise of discretion exactly what Congress cannot do through legislation, Establishment Clause protection would melt away."

ADL's brief urged the Court to reject suggestions that this case be used to overrule the landmark case of Flast v. Cohen (1968), which secured the important right of "taxpayer standing." ADL, a leading advocate for religious freedom, had also filed an amicus brief in that case.

The preceding article was provided by the Anti-Defamation League.


Ackerman, Lantos urge State Department to hire Arabic- and Farsi-speaking gays dismissed by the Pentagon

WASHINGTON, D.C (Press Release) — Congressman Tom Lantos (D-CA), chairman of the House Committee on Foreign Affairs, and Congressman Gary Ackerman (D-NY), chairman of the Subcommittee on the Middle East and South Asia, today sent a letter to Deputy Secretary of State John Negroponte calling for the State Department to act quickly to hire language-qualified soldiers dismissed from the armed services solely because of their sexual orientation.

“We are writing to you regarding one of the most regressive, counter-productive policies we could ever imagine – our military’s “Don’t ask, don’t tell” policy,” the letter reads. “We are writing to urge the Department of State to take a specific step – the hiring of our unfairly dismissed, language-qualified soldiers - so our nation might salvage something positive from the lamentable results of this benighted policy.”

In the letter, Lantos and Ackerman note that the Government Accountability Office has reported that “Don’t ask, don’t tell” has resulted in the dismissal from the military of more than 300 soldiers with critical foreign language skills, including Persian and Arabic. They stress that the dismissed soldiers, denied the ability to work for the United States armed forces, often take their language skills to contractors, who sell their services back to the American government – and its taxpayers – at a considerable markup. The letter urged Negroponte to “immediately initiate a process of interviewing and hiring” these former servicemen and servicewomen for State Department positions.

“While we lament our government’s anachronistic and short-sighted adherence to the bigoted ‘Don’t ask, don’t tell’ policy, we see no reason why our nation’s diplomatic mission should suffer for the military’s lack of vision,” Lantos and Ackerman wrote.  

The letter highlighted the urgent need for skilled diplomats with critical foreign language skills, pointing out that the 9/11 Commission drew a direct connection between under-investment in critical foreign languages and threats to our national security.

The preceding article was provided by the offices of  Reps. Gary Ackerman and Tom Lantos

Independent school group mulls Torah lessons

NEW YORK, NY (Press Release)— Techniques for using the Hebrew Bible as a teaching tool will be the focus of the 12th annual summer institute of The Curriculum Initiative (TCI) today through June 28 at the Governor's Academy in Byfield, MA.
TCI Executive Director Eileen Gress said, "The TCI Summer Institute uses the Hebrew Bible as a catalyst for critical thinking and ethical action. Through this lens we examine race, gender, class and other timely issues, and provide participants with an outstanding classroom tool. The response from teachers is incredibly positive, not only during the session itself but throughout the school year, when the Institute's impact is really felt."
The four day teaching workshop focusing on "Contemporary Issues in Sexuality- Texts and Techniques to Transform the Classroom Community" will be lead by TCI's expert educators, who are fluent in biblical Hebrew and trained in Jewish biblical commentary, including the traditional Jewish study methods-Hevruta, Midrashic interpretation, and Parshanut. This year's workshop will focus on how stories from the Hebrew Bible illuminate essential ethical questions and issues of adolescent sexuality.
The Dalton School, Harvard-Westlake School, The Kinkaid School, Phillips Exeter Academy, and The Taft School are among the approximately 200independent schools that have participated in past Summer Institutes. The Curriculum Initiative (TCI) is the leading Jewish educational organization serving independent schools.  Through extra-curricular programming, school-wide and classroom presentations and professional development, TCI strengthens Jewish students' Jewish identity and nurtures school communities' appreciation for the Jewish heritage. 
Adam Bronfman, Managing Director of The Samuel Bronfman Foundation and founding funder of TCI, said, "TCI is remarkable on many levels, but especially with respect to its ability to use traditional methods for examining difficult modern problems. Its programs continue to be an outstanding bridge between the Jewish community and the world of independent schools."

More information may be obtained via the website of the Samuel Bronfman Foundation.

The preceding story was provided by the Samuel Bronfman Foundation

          Letters to the Editor
Please send your letters to, or to Jewishsightseeing, PO Box 19363, San Diego,
CA, (USA) 92119. Please include the name of the city where you live.

'Once again that European sickness is upon us'


First it was the journalists, then it was the academics and now it is Britain’s labor unions that are clamoring for a cultural and economic boycott of Israel. This contrived assault is obviously being fed by a dark undercurrent of animosity towards the Jewish State and by extension to Jews in general. According to the Brits, every act of self-defense by the Israelis is viewed as a provocation. Conversely, every provocation by the Palestinians is viewed as an act of self-defense. To justify this twisted logic, the British have prepared a set of charges, charges that read more like an indictment than an honest inquiry. Just to enumerate a few: construction of the security fence, incursions into Gaza and refusing to negotiate with the Hamas government are a few examples of  the counterfeit charges that they have leveled against Israel. As caustic as these charges may be, there is a far more sinister inference lurking along the edges of these charges. They, the British, have tried and found Israel wanting. In there view, Israel is a rogue state whose very raison d’etre they are now questioning. So once again that European sickness is upon us. Only this time it is coming at us in the guise of anti-Zionism.

These developments, particularly as they relate to recent developments in Gaza, are quite instructive. To presume that concessions, even painful concessions, will somehow endear Israel to this uncaring world is to confuse our expectations with the realities of this errant world.

Mitchell Finkel
North Bethesda, Maryland



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 and we'll acknowledge your tip at the end of the column. To see a source story click on the link within the respective paragraph.

*U.S. Sen. Barbara Boxer (Democrat, California) is supporting an idea recommended by two of her colleagues who are running for President in their respective parties, Sen. Joseph Biden (Democrat, Delaware) and Senator Sam Brownback (Republican, Kansas) to divide Iraq into three regions: Sunni, Shiite, and Kurd with Baghdad as a federal capital.  However, Sen. Carl Levin (Democrat, Michigan) said such decisions should be up to the Iraqis themselves, not to the United States.

Gossip columnist and millionaire socialite Claudia Cohen has died of cancer at age 56. Margalit Fox of the New York Times News Service wrote the obituary appearing in today's San Diego Union-Tribune.

U.S. Sen. Dianne Feinstein (Democrat, California), appearing on Fox News Sunday, suggested that if Vice President Dick Cheney doesn't consider his office part of the executive branch for purposes of maintaining archives, perhaps Congress shouldn't fund his office's operations.  The Associated Press story is in today's San Diego Union-Tribune.

Five members of the United Nations peace keeping force that has patrolled the border between Israel and Lebanon in the wake of the Second Lebanon war were killed by what apparently was a car bomb. No group immediately took responsibility.  The New York Times News Service story by Nada Bakri is in today's San Diego Union-Tribune.

*Evan Almighty,
a comedy loosely based on the biblical tale of Noah, was number one at the Box Office, but it didn't perform as strongly as the movie to which it is a sequel, Bruce Almighty. The Associated Press story is in today's San Diego Union-Tribune.

*Israel's Prime Minister Ehud Olmert okayed conveyance of impounded tax receipts to the Palestinian Authority government of President Mahmoud Abbas.  At the same time, he dampened expectations of any "final status" breakthroughs for the summit in Sharm el Sheik among himself, Abbas, King Abdullah II of Jordan and host President Hosni Mubarek of Egypt. The Associated Press story by Amy Teibel is in today's San Diego Union-Tribune.

Proposed legislation by Sen. Charles Schumer (Democrat, New York) would permit retired State Department personnel to go back to work to clear up passport backlogs without forfeiting their retirement benefits.  The story is in today's Los Angeles Times.

Los Angeles City Councilman Jack Weiss is receiving complaints from residents of the Hollywood Hills about hotel heiress Paris Hilton's expected release from jail and return to a home in their neighborhood.  The crush of media is difficult to bear, they report.  The story by Andrew Blankstein and Hector Becerra is in today's Los Angeles Times.


   Mideast Miscellany
News Sleuths

Watching the media gathering and
reporting the news of Jewish interest

Date: June 25, 2007
Place: Paris, France
Briefing officer:
Secretary of State Condolleeza Rice and France's Foreign Minister Bernard Kouchner
Source: State Department Transcript
Subject: Middle East

QUESTION: Yes, Madame Secretary of State. I am a Palestinian journalist (inaudible) ask about the situation in Palestine. I would like to ask you, Madame, do you believe that your policy in the Middle East, it is (inaudible) what's going in Palestine? Now we have to (inaudible) of Gaza and (inaudible) of West Bank. In Lebanon (inaudible) same problem. So do you think that the policy of your government is the one? What do you think?

SECRETARY RICE: Thank you. Well, first of all, it's the policy of our government to support democratically elected leaders who want to live in a world in which there is tolerance, in which people can live in peace with one another. And it is a policy, by the way, that is not just the policy of the United States Government. It's the policy of the international community as a whole. For instance, in the Palestinian situation there is a process of moving to two states that is internationally accepted, and the part of the Palestinian political leadership that accepts that is the leadership of President Mahmoud Abbas, who is the president of all the Palestinian people.

And I simply don't accept the notion which some are saying that there are two Palestinian leaders, leaderships, or two Palestinian governments. There's one president of the Palestinian people. It's Mahmoud Abbas. There is one government of the Palestinian people. It is the emergency government that Mahmoud Abbas has put in place. There will be one Palestinian state that will have the territories of the West Bank of Gaza together.

And we are I think -- the United States -- demonstrating our belief in that because while we are determined not to support Hamas, which caused this problem and tried to, in a sense, overthrow the legitimate government, the legitimate power of the Palestinian Authority, we are giving $43 million in humanitarian assistance to the people in Gaza through the United Nations. Because we're not going to forget about the people in Gaza. We are not going to condemn 1.3 million people in Gaza to live under Hamas without the support of the international community for their humanitarian needs. And so I don't believe for a minute that there can be two Palestines. There will be one Palestinian state living side by side in peace with Israel.

It is the same with Lebanon: supporting a united Lebanese government elected by the Lebanese people.

FOREIGN MINISTER KOUCHNER: I might just add that France immediately (inaudible) keenly aware of the difficult situation in which (inaudible) living on a day to day basis. We always supported (inaudible). We called for (inaudible). And I’m happy that the European Union should have done likewise. (Inaudible.)

But you Americans -- there is all Americans asking questions. What about the others, the French? Thank you.

QUESTION: Sylvie Lanteaume from AFP.


SECRETARY RICE: But we count her. (Laughter.)

QUESTION: Madame Secretary, to expand on the question of my colleagues. One year ago, you described the war in Lebanon as one of the (inaudible) of the new Middle East. Today, one year later, seeing what's happening in Gaza, in Lebanon, in Iraq, how do you see the baby doing?

SECRETARY RICE: Well, I see democracy is hard. And I see it is especially hard when there are determined enemies who try and strangle it. And I'm not in the least bit surprised that there are those in Iraq who do not want to see the Iraqi Government, which 12.5 million Iraqis voted for, be able to govern. They are some of the same people who sow violence throughout the Middle East, for instance in those camps in Lebanon.

So I'm not surprised that there are extremists who are fighting back. I'm not surprised that it is difficult for the Lebanese Government. But I would just note that from the year that -- since we were here, the Lebanese Government, with the help of the international community, and again I give my condolences to the Spanish for what has happened, but the Lebanese army is in the south in the Lebanon for the first time in decades. The Lebanese army has fought in those camps for the first time in decades. The Syrian forces are out of Lebanon for the first time in decades. And yes, it's hard. But it would be absolutely wrong to say that the Lebanese people have gained nothing and have achieved nothing in the last year since they decided that Syrian forces had to leave their territory. They've gained a great deal.

It would be wrong to say that the overthrow of Saddam Hussein, one of the most brutal murderers of the 20th century, that the Iraqi people have gained nothing. And it would be wrong to say that in the Palestinian territories that despite the difficulties there, the rise of a man who believes in a proper road to peace in which the Palestinians and the Israelis can live side by side in peace and security, means nothing to the Palestinian people.

But yes, it's hard. But when I think back over history and I think about how hard it has been to achieve many of the outcomes that we now take for granted, I realize that when people say, ‘Well, the Middle East was stable’, what stability? The stability in which Saddam Hussein put 300,000 people in mass graves? That was stability? The stability in which Syrian forces were embedded in Lebanon? That was stability? The stability in which Yasser Arafat turned down an opportunity for the Palestinian people to have their own state? That was stability? The stability that produced al-Qaida to, on one September day, cause 3,000 American deaths? The stability in which we never spoke about democracy in the Middle East, allowing unhealthy extremist forces to be the only politically organized forces in the Middle East?

Yeah, it's really hard. It's hard for democracy to take hold in a place in which it has not taken hold before. But I am confident about the triumph of these values because I've seen it happen before. I am confident that there is nothing wrong with the people of the Middle East, that indeed under the right circumstances and with the right support that they can indeed triumph and triumph democratically. And I am exceedingly aware that it is a rare circumstance in which today's headlines are consistent with history's judgment.

QUESTION: (Inaudible.) What are your -- the question is to Secretary of State and Foreign Minister Kouchner. What are your expectations of tomorrow's Sharm el-Sheikh summit? Is there any meeting of the Quartet scheduled in Paris or elsewhere? And finally, is there any green light of the American Administration to Israel to start talks with Syria?

SECRETARY RICE: Well, first of all, we aren't in the habit of having to give green lights to anybody to do what they think is in their national interest. And I think I've made clear on a number of occasions that if and when the Israeli Government believes that it wants to move forward with talks with Syria, then that is something that it should do. When Prime Minister Olmert was in Washington, I think he said -- I don't want to put words in his mouth -- but that he wasn't -- he didn't think that the time was now because the Syrian Government didn't seem to have an attitude that would suggest that those talks could be successful. But this notion that somehow the United States is standing between Israel and Syria in trying to make peace is simply wrong.

Secondly, when it comes to the meeting in Sharm el-Sheikh, I recently had a discussion with my Egyptian counterpart, as a matter of fact, just yesterday. I am very pleased that the King of Jordan and the President of Egypt have invited the Prime Minister of Israel and President Abbas to this meeting. I think it is a show of support for the Palestinian leadership, and I want to emphasize again for the Palestinian leadership which is the leadership of all the Palestinian people, to make this difficult circumstance in which Palestinians find themselves, one in which they will be able to get through this because they will have the support, we say always of the international community, but this is even in many ways more important. This is core Arab support, and that Arab support needs to be there for the Palestinians in this difficult time.

I know that they are going to talk about what can be done to ease the circumstances of Palestinians. The Agreement on Movement and Access which I negotiated back in November of 2005 is an important piece of that. I know that they will talk about financial support for the government and tax revenues, and that's important. I hope too that they will affirm what the United States fundamentally believes, which is that these day-to-day issues are extremely important but so too is a political horizon for the Palestinian people so that they can see that there is a viable state, a viable Palestinian state that is possible for them and that will available to them.

And I want to just underscore that ultimately that Palestinian state is the best guarantor of security for both the people of Palestine and the people of Israel, because two states living side by side in peace and freedom will be very important to the future of both countries, both peoples. And so I'm certain that this will be a very good event. I'm grateful to the Egyptians for organizing it. And we'll see about the outcomes, but I know that the parties are going with some enthusiasm.


(Jump to continuation)

The Jewish Grapevine                                                  

AROUND THE TOWN—We have a story below about how Dr. Karl Jacobs is planning to swim the Catalina Channel next month. Don't anyone tell him he's crazy, because he's liable to answer: "I'll have to examine myself."  Jacobs is a psychiatrist.

CYBER-REFERRALS—Israel's Ministry of Foreign Affairs recommends a story on the development of oral treatment for diabetes, eliminating the need for shots.   Here is a link to a story written by Nicky Blackburn for the Israel 21c news service.

GOVERNMENT—California State Insurance Commissioner Steve Poizner says Tania Cornelia Damper of Rancho Cucamunga has been arrested on a charge of conspiring with her already jailed husband Charles Ray Dampier to defraud insurance companies by having customers send in premium checks on non-existent accounts, with the Dampers meanwhile collecting commissions. ... U.S. President George W. Bush welcomed the ratification of his appointment of Robert Zoellick as president of the World Bank, replacing Paul Wolfowitz.  The White House issued this statement: "
I welcome the action by the Executive Board of the World Bank to unanimously approve Robert Zoellick as President of the World Bank. Bob Zoellick is a dynamic leader who is deeply committed to the mission of the World Bank in helping struggling nations to defeat poverty, grow their economies, strengthen transparency and accountability in governance, and offer their people the prospect of a better life. The United States looks forward to continuing our close partnership with the World Bank to achieve these shared goals.

IN MEMORY—Al Sklar, 83, who like his father who performed in the Yiddish Theatre, pursued a life of acting, becoming a fixture on the San Diego stage, died June 15 in Sun City West, Arizona.  An obituary by Michael Kinsman is in today's San Diego Union-Tribune.



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My husband the long distance swimmer heads for Catalina

By Audrey Jacobs

SAN DIEGO—Starting at midnight, July 9,  when wind and current conditions are expected to be favorable, my husband, Dr. Karl Jacobs, will seek to become only the 134th person in history to do a non-stop solo swim crossing of the 21-mile channel in the Pacific Ocean between Catalina Island and Palos Verdes, California.   

To make his physical accomplishment have a lasting impact, Karl, 42,  is raising money to support Swim4Kids, a program of the San Diego Surf Lifesaving Association that teaches underprivileged children water safety and how to swim. 

A lifelong swimmer, Karl has enjoyed the benefits of early swim instruction growing up at the San Carlos Swim and Racquet Club and wishes to help make swim lessons available to every child. Here is a link to his fundraising website.   

Catalina versus English Channel

The Catalina Channel swim is comparable to the English Channel in conditions, difficulty, distance, and challenge to the swimmer.  The English Channel remains the world's star attraction for marathon swimmers. But if the Dover to Cape Gris-Nez crossing — conquered by an estimated 810 swimmers since the late 1800s — is the Mt. Everest of long-distance swimming, then the Catalina Channel is K2, a monumental challenge only known by those in the swimming world.

Although the two passages are similar in distance, the English Channel generally is considered to offer the stiffer challenge because of its colder water and swifter currents.  Karl has already reserved his date in the summer of 2008 to swim the English Channel. 

But first Karl will swim the Catalina Channel.  According to the Catalina Channel Swimming Federation (, the volunteer organization that promotes and monitors the crossings, Karl Jacobs will be the 134th person to make a recorded crossing.  The first was George Young, in 1927, who made the swim in 15 hours and 44 minutes.

Official Crossing Rules
If Karl successfully crosses the Catalina Channel; he’ll be inducted into the San Diego Hall of Champions.  But for the swim to officially counted, he must follow strict rules.  During the swim he cannot have any contact with another person or object.  Karl will be followed by a team of loyal friends, family and supporters from the swim community on both a kayak and in a boat.  During his 10 to 12 hour swim they will throw him liquid food he has to catch and drink to stay hydrated and nourished.  His swim must be monitored by an official observer who is a Catalina Swim Federation member with a Coast Guard license.The observer will time the swim, interpret the rules and cancel the swim if conditions become too dangerous.

The Wrong Crowd
When our family moved to La Jolla two years ago, Karl began walking to La Jolla Shores beach a few mornings a week to swim by himself in the ocean.  I said it was too dangerous to swim alone and begged him to drive to the Cove and join a swimming group.   Finally after enough pushing, nine months ago Karl went to the Cove and immediately got in with the “Wrong Crowd” I affectionately like to call them.  Karl had shown up just in time to swim with the “Channel Swimmers;” a group of ultra elite swimmers who had all swum the English and or the Catalina Channel.  Karl had a strong fast stroke and his new friends soon began asking him when he’d swim the channel.  Karl began swimming every day at least two miles and up to 16 miles on a weekend morning.    Now his loyal friends will join him in Catalina to paddle in a kayak beside him or cheer him on from the boat. 

“The greatest reward from committing to this physical challenge is the friends I’ve made from the La Jolla ocean swimming community,” says Karl.  “When you know you have friends that have your back, you can accomplish anything.”

The writer is director of admissions at Soille San Diego Hebrew Day School.


Not Necessarily kosher
                     Bruce Lowitt 
These Modiin miracles weren't menorah nor oil

Professional baseball came to the Holy Land Sunday for the first time in  5,000 years, give or take a rainout or two (not to mention plagues).
The visiting Modiin Miracles beat the Petah Tikva Pioneers 9-1 in the inaugural game of the Israel Baseball League. The Associated Press reported that the pitchers had control issues and some of the fielders were sloppy,  not unlike many minor leaguers.
The stadium in Petah Tikva, a suburb of Tel Aviv, also had the look and feel of a small-town ballpark - 3,000 cheering fans in bleachers set up along the foul lines and a kosher fast food and snack stand selling hamburgers, hot dogs, chicken and soft drinks. Oh, and the scoreboard showed the innings from left to right, just as it is read wherever else the game is played.
Who can say how the game of baseball will translate to fans in Israel? Soccer is the runaway favorite sport with basketball a distant second. Only 20 of the 120 players in the six-team league are Israeli.
One thing seems obvious, though: the language of baseball doesn't translate into Hebrew very well.
One of the announcers on the cable network carrying the game live asked, "How do you say 'home plate'?" No one had an answer. They tried to translate some of baseball's basic terms but soon gave up and switched to Hebrew-accented versions of ball, strike, out, pitcher and base hit.
It's a good thing they didn't have to explain "Uncle Charlie" (curveball), "Fungo" (a ball hit to a fielder during practice), or "dinger" (a home run), not to mention the "Mendoza line" (a batting average of around .200).
By the way, former Pittsburgh Pirates shortstop Mario Mendoza, after whom it is named, is 56 and out of major league baseball for 25 years. But given the local talent pool, he'd probably hit well above his own line.

* *

Meanwhile, back in the States, Jewish major leaguers were making news of their own on Sunday.Ian Kinsler of the Rangers went 2-for-5 including a ninth-inning home run that tied the game, but Houston won 12-9 in 10 innings. Brad Ausmus was hitless but scored once for the Astros. ... Shawn Green of the Mets started at first base Sunday against Oakland because Julio Franco's knee was bothering him. Green went 1-for-4 and scored a run in New York's 10-2 win.

Tonight, Green's seventh home run, leading off the bottom of the 11th inning
Monday night, gave the Mets a 2-1 win over St. Louis.


Story continuations

Sharm el-Sheikh...

"I wish to use this opportunity, presented to me by the honorable President of Egypt and his Majesty the King of the Hashemite Kingdom, to appeal to the Palestinian people and say: I am aware of the difficult period you are facing, the arduous days, the hardships, the pains and challenges facing your leadership.

"Our peoples know suffering and pain from the conflicts and wars which we had between us.  In Israel, there are many families who lost their loved ones.  I personally know many of them.  The scenes are difficult, the stories are heartrending, the suffering is immense, almost endless.  On the Palestinian side, there are many families who lost their loved ones, who lost their property and homes, and became refugees.  Their suffering is profound as well; their pain and memories are infinite.  We know that among the Palestinians, as with us, suffering is an inseparable part of our daily existence.  We are not indifferent to their pain, we do not ignore the need to end it, through mutual understanding, compromise and reconciliation.

"As Prime Minister of Israel, I tell you that we have no desire to rule over you, we do not presume to run your lives, we have no intention of deciding for you.  I believe that the day is coming when you can live in your own state, alongside the State of Israel.

"As Prime Minister of Israel, my supreme duty is to do everything in order to provide my people with the full security it deserves; to ensure that our children can go to school without fearing for their lives; to ensure that our children can sleep without fearing that they will wake up in terror due to a missile explosion; to ensure that our children can go to shopping and entertainment centers and not fear a suicide bomber, who decides to sacrifice them as victims due to his extremist beliefs.  It is our right to live in security; it is our right to live without terror and violence.  It is the duty of every Prime Minister to ensure this for his people.

"I take this opportunity to reiterate that we will not cease our efforts for the release of the soldiers Gilad Shalit, Ehud Goldwasser and Eldad Regev, who were kidnapped by extremists one year ago.  We are acting to secure their release, and I will spare no effort in returning them home.  I view this as a supreme value.

"I appeal to the families of the Palestinian prisoners and say: I know how close this issue is to your hearts, how important it is to you.  I understand how much you miss your loved ones.  We do too. As important as it is for your sons to return home, so too is it as important for us. We will not stop or curtail our efforts until we bring them back to us.

"Terrorist organizations which hold our solders act in a cruel and inhuman manner. Again and again they try to pressure the soldiers’ families and the Israeli public through media manipulation and emotional blackmail, an additional example of which we say today. This is unacceptable.

"The Palestinian president, Mahmoud Abbas, more than once made a commitment to me that he will act to secure the release of Gilad Shalit from the extremists who are holding him.  I believe that his intentions in this matter are sincere, but he himself faces a wall of silence and cruelty by the Hamas and terrorist organizations.  As a gesture of good will towards, and given the importance of the prisoner issue I decided today to present to the Israeli Government at its upcoming meeting and a proposal to release approximately 250 prisoners who are members of Fatah, who do not have blood on their hands, with their commitment not to involve themselves again in terror.  I do this because it is important to me that all Palestinians know that those who are ready to maintain relations of peace and reconciliation with us will receive a hand extended in reconciliation and acceptance.

"I know that this too is your dream, Mahmoud Abbas, and I consider you as a true partner on this path.  Only if we work together can we realize this dream. 

"I appeal directly to those leaders of the Arab states, with whom we do not have official relations, and hope they listen and take our words to heart.  Your peace initiative, the Arab initiative, is important to us.  We cannot ignore your sincere calls for full normalization with Israel.  Let us speak of this.  This is the time for you to join the movement towards peace and not to oppose it, not say, “Later”.  There is no reason to wait.

"Give our people, Israelis and Palestinians, your support, assistance and backup.  They need this.

"It is not easy.  Each and every one of you has internal public opinion to deal with, the criticism expected at home if you take only one step which is not routine.

"My colleague, Mahmoud Abbas, will hear this criticism upon his return to Ramallah.  My political rivals will not spare me from their criticism upon my return to Jerusalem.  I presume that you, President Mubarak and King Abdullah, expect difficult days in your capitals.  They will ask us all, why?  What for?  Our answer will be: for our peoples, for our hope, for peace.  This should be the answer of all the leaders of our neighboring countries.

"This is the time to demonstrate leadership; this is the time to lead your public opinion and not fear it; this is the time to join the process at its inception.  I appeal to all leaders, do not wait for developments – help shape them.  Do not let this opportunity pass; take advantage of it.

"We have similar goals.  The common denominator between us is greater than it perhaps seems.  We have many common enemies: extremists – terror – poverty – ignorance – disease.  If we fight all these illnesses together, we will overcome them and ensure a better life for our peoples.

"We must prevent extremists from dictating our agendas to us.  The moderate voice, the rational voice, the voice which yearns for peace, must be heard today, and become the dominant voice, the leading voice.

"At the funeral for the late Prime Minister, Yitzhak Rabin, the late King Hussein said: 'Let us raise our voices and not be silent.  We will speak of our commitment to peace forever.  And let us say to those who live in darkness, to the enemies of the light and faith and religion: here we stand, this is our camp, the peace camp.'

"At the same time, you, President Mubarak, said: 'We must double our efforts and strengthen our commitment to achieving the sacred mission – a just and sustainable peace.  We must prevent treacherous hands, hostile to our goals, from reaping the fruits of their villainous acts.'

My colleague, President of the Palestinian Authority,

Our greatest desire was and is achieving peace with you.  I believe that you too, and the majority of your people, share this goal, and are ready to be true partners in order to realize this.  Together, we can transform this piece of land, which is so precious to us and so precious to you, from a focus of fighting and division into one of peace and neighborliness, for the generations to come.

Thank you.


News Sleuths...

(Continued from above)

Date: June 25, 2007
Place: U.S. State Department
Briefing officer: Tom Casey
, deputy press secretary
Source: State Department Transcript
Time: 12:35 pm EST
Alan Johnston, Sharm el Sheik summit, Gilad Shalit

QUESTION: Tom, good morning. A question. There's just been the summit meeting at Sharm el-Sheikh. Have you been monitoring that particular conference?

QUESTION: (Inaudible) didn't call it a shack.

QUESTION: Yeah. And also, there's been the detainment of Alan Johnson (sic), the BBC reporter, and apparently Hamas is living up to its behavior. They put a explosive belt on him.{See video clip} Of course, his family and the BBC would like him released. Any comments concerning those situations?

MR. CASEY: Well, in terms of the meeting in Sharm el-Sheikh, first of all, we're very pleased to see these regional actors getting together. We think that the Egyptian invitation to President Abbas as well as Prime Minister Olmert and King Abdullah of Jordan shows that there is international support for President Abbas, for those moderate forces that are seeking to have a two-state solution. And we will continue to be monitoring the events as the day goes on here. I don't have a readout yet that we've gotten from those sessions, though certainly we are following it closely and of course, have been in contact with the various parties before the meeting as well. So I'm sure we'll be interested in hearing what they have to say.

But as we've said before too, it's important to have opportunities not just for the U.S. to engage with the different parties there, but to have people within the region do these kinds of discussions to look for ways to be able to promote dialogue, promote understanding, support President Abbas and others as they go about developing the Palestinian institutions. So that's something that we see as very positive and in everyone's interests.

QUESTION: To follow up, Tom, you've given the -- apparently, the Fatah-Abbas group in the West Bank up to $40 million. What do you expect that money to go toward and are you now successful in keeping Hamas segregated from the rest of that money? And how does that stand?

MR. CASEY: Well, Joel, I think -- I assume what you're referring to is the $40 million that the Secretary talked about when she was down here last week. And that money is to go specifically to the UN Relief Works Agency to provide for the humanitarian needs of the people in Gaza. Despite the actions by Hamas in Gaza, we continue to be very strongly committed to trying to help the people in that area deal with the basic needs of life and humanitarian circumstances in which they find themselves.

I don't have any updates for you on how UNRWA's working to distribute that -- those resources, though I think if you look, you'll see that among other things, there have been food deliveries, medicine deliveries, and other kinds of things that the UN is working to bring into Gaza. And of course, the Israelis have also said that they do intend to provide and continue to provide basic levels of services like water and electricity that are needed for the folks there. Now --

QUESTION: Actually, how -- on the U.S. money that's to go to Abbas and his people, how is the consultation with the Hill going on that or has it begun?

MR. CASEY: It has not begun yet. I think -- and heard from the Secretary on this a little bit as well today, there are still a number of plans that the Abbas government is formulating and will be working with them as their plans develop to determine how best we can utilize this money. But we're still conducting consultations with them and internally amongst ourselves as to how to proceed. So we need to have that be completed before we can go brief the Hill on what we intend to do

>  >

MR. CASEY: Yeah, Kirit.

QUESTION: I just wanted to see if you had any comment on the Gilad Shalit audio that came out?

MR. CASEY: I don't. I've just seen the same press reports you have. I think for the moment, I'd let the Israeli Government comment first before I try to offer anything on it. Certainly, we want to see him -- as we have continued to, want to see him be released as soon as possible. This is something that's gone on too long and it would be the right thing to do and we certainly want to encourage those who are holding him to release him.

QUESTION: Thank you.

Date: June 25, 2007
Place: White House Press Briefing Room
Briefing officer:
Dana Perino, deputy press secretary
Source: White House Transcript
Time: 1:17 pm EST
Alan Johnston, Tony Blair

Q The case of Alan Johnston, the BBC prisoner in Gaza, is getting much more serious. Does this administration have any advice, either for the people who hold him, or British people in favor of military action against, or do you favor compliance --

MS. PERINO: We stand behind our British allies in calling for his unjust holding to end immediately, and for him to be returned safely to his family.

Q Is there any desire in the President's strategy to comply with some of their demands --

MS. PERINO: I'm not going to comment on that, and I have to refer you to the British authorities for that. They're leading that.

Q Dana, on the British --

MS. PERINO: I'm sorry, I was going to go to Roger, and then I'll come back.

Q I think she's got the same question.

MS. PERINO: How convenient.

Q Any new information on Tony Blair becoming an international envoy? And has the President talked to him in the past two days?

MS. PERINO: No, I don't believe the President has talked to him in the past few days. And if there's more to report on that, we'll let you know as soon as possible.

Q Well, there are reports out that he is going to be named tomorrow. So is that true?

MS. PERINO: Not that I'm aware of.