Volume 3, Number 132
"There's a Jewish story everywhere"

Today's Postings:

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

{Click on a link to jump to the corresponding story. Or, you may scroll leisurely through our report}

Our evaluation of President Obamba's speech to the Muslim world continues. Click here to read its text.

Obama's Middle East assumptions, though quite different, are as simplistic as those that guided George W. Bush ... by Ira Sharkansky in Jerusalem
This is one of those columns more concerned with unanswered, and perhaps unanswerable questions than with clear description or prescription.READ MORE

Obama's Cairo speech had errors in facts, nuance... by Barry Rubin in Herzliya, Israel
U.S. President Barack Obama’s discussion in his Cairo speech of the Israeli-Palestinian issue is so important that it took up about 25 percent of the text.READ MORE

There are times of cooperation in Jewish-Muslim relations
Kingdom of Morocco epitomizes strong Muslim-Jewish relations READ MORE
Palestinians and Israelis create a joint chamber of commerce READ MORE

The American president as a touring rock star ... by Shoshana Bryen in Washington D.C.
Like everyone else, we read reams of commentary over the weekend on President Obama's speech in Cairo. There was a lot of really good information from people who thought the President might not have been fully informed.READ MORE

New competitors and teammates taste joy of triathalon ... by Ulla Hadar in Herzliya, Israel
In Israel a smaller percentage of women compete in sports events compared to many other countries. So it was sheer pleasure to see 1,100 women arriving at the Herzliya beach to compete at the women's 16th triathlon. READ MORE

Jewish world through the photographers' lenses
Farm Maneuvers on Kibbutz Gezer, Israel VIEW IMAGE
Israeli Dance, Jewish Craft at Tifereth Israel in San DiegoVIEW IMAGE


Sotomayor is a strong choice for U.S. Supreme Court .. by Ira N. Forman in Washington, D.C.
President Barack Obama showed sound judgment and profound respect for our nation’s highest court by selecting an individual who has impeccable credentials and is committed to our constitutional values, rights, and liberties.


How good and pleasant it is--two cantors creating together ... by Cantor Sheldon Merel in San Diego
Two cantors, spanning a century, are responsible for this recording.  Cantor Stephen Merkel, a baritone, z"l, sings a composition by Cantor Salomon Sulzer, who changed the course of organized Jewish Music in the 19th century.READ AND HEAR MORE

The Bible in Pop Culture
Evening and morning, a fifth day. Genesis 1:23 SEE IMAGE


Biography of pioneer Klauber compellingly written ... by Donald H. Harrison
David M. Klauber is both an engineer and a fine story-teller, and he was able to combine these qualities in authoring The Sounding, a biography of his Bohemian-born great-great grandfather Abraham Klauber (1831-1911). READ MORE

Adventures in San Diego Jewish History

Council Plan Reading of Benchley Classic READ MORE
City of Hope Jr. Aux. Installation June 6 READ MORE
Birdie Stodel B.B. To Install Officers READ MORE
Vets Award Vet READ MORE
Dig That Man! READ MORE
Rabbi Levens to Deliver Sermon at United Synagogue

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Regional Convention READ MORE
Men’s Club to Sponsor Annual Mother’s Day Dinner-Dance READ MORE
Tifereth Israel Sisterhood READ MORE


We continue our examination of Jewish entertainers

Owen Kline is the younger son in "The Squid and the Whale"VIEW VIDEO
Jonathan Lipnicki is interviewed about his part in Stuart Little with clips and Hugh Laurie VIEW VIDEO
Daniel Magder in 'Life Without Derek' VIEW VIDEO
Nathalia Ramos as Yasmin keeps falling for the guy in "Bratz"VIEW VIDEO

Bonus: Art of Tunisian Synagogue in Acco, Israel VIEW POWERPOINT


Isaac Yetiv, who occasionally writes a column on "War and Lore," many installments being about the Jewish legends in his boyhood home of Tunisia, forwarded to us this slide show about the art of the Tunisian Synagogue located in Acco, Israel. The Power Point presentation is by photographer Igal Morag. To see the Power Point presentation, click here, then click again whenever you want to see the next slide.

America's Vacation Center
Balloon Utopia
Congregation Beth Israel
Jewish Family Service; Car Mitzvah
Lawrence Family JCC
Math Is Easy
Ohr Shalom Synagogue
San Diego Community Colleges
San Diego County Library
San Diego Jewish Arts Festival
San Diego Jewish Chamber
Soille San Diego Hebrew Day School
Therapy in Motion Inc.
Tifereth Israel Synagogue
United Jewish Federation
XLNC-1 Radio

Each day's issue may be dedicated by readers—or by the publisher—in other people's honor or memory. Past dedications may be found at the bottom of the index for the "Adventures in San Diego Jewish History" page.

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Obama's Middle East assumptions, though quite different, are as simplistic as those that guided George W. Bush

By Ira Sharkansky

JERUSALEM—This is one of those columns more concerned with unanswered, and perhaps unanswerable questions than with clear description or prescription.

Why the effort?

That question does have an answer.

If the questions are well defined, they should guide our thoughts in processing ongoing events.

Let me begin with the suggestion that Barack Obama is a mirror image of George W. Bush. It may be early to say that conclusively, but it is not too early to raise the possibility.

What gives rise to this is a brewing storm over the question of Jewish settlements.

Israeli officials claim that the Bush administration accepted limited construction in or near existing settlements. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton says no.

The details are complex and murky. Did Israeli and American officials only discuss Israel's policy of continued building? Was there an American "wink and nod" that Israelis interpreted as an acceptance of their policy? If winks and nods are not formally recorded, have they no standing in relations between national governments?

There may be no conclusive answers to those questions.

My comparison of Obama and Bush derives from what seems to be Obama's obsession with the idea of the settlements as a key to peace in the Middle East and other problems of the United States.

It sounds to me like George W. Bush's obsession with not only punishing al Qaeda and its allies for 9-11, but seeing military occupation of Iraq and Afghanistan as a way of remaking them into something like western, democratic countries.

The resemblance between Bush and Obama overrides differences in personal style and location on the political spectrum.

They grasped on to learned theories, despite slim chances

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that they will work. They remind me of students at quality universities with great resources, who read all their assignments but do not look out the library window at what is happening, in order to examine whether the reading is relevant.

The term "sophomoric" means students (i.e., sophomores) at the stage where they have learned something, but not enough to realize the limitations of what they are spouting.

Barack Obama is not alone, and certainly is not the first who perceives that the settlements are a key to the future of the Middle East. It is conventional to portray them as a land grab, and part of an occupation that imposes severe limits the opportunities of Palestinians. Settlers who justify themselves by shouting selective passages of the Bible do not add to their appeal among well educated politicians, technocrats, or intellectuals who are not inclined to begin their thinking with religious doctrine. Alas, those are the kinds of people often in positions of influence.

Obama is more nuanced than George W. Bush. He has said that Palestinians and other Arabs must do their share in the peace process. He recognizes the problems of extremism, and links it to Hamas. He has said that incitement of hatred is endemic to Palestinian education, media, and politics. He notes that Palestinian faults in governance are not entirely the result of Israeli occupation. He is on record as opposing Palestinian claims about refugees' right of return.

Among the unanswered questions is, How weighty in Obama's strategic planning is his insistence on a halt of all settlement activity in comparison to the weight of his demands on the Palestinians?

We should also ask a question about the posturing we have seen from Israelis. Is it necessary to risk a frontal conflict by emphasizing a quarrel with the American president? Wouldn't it be wiser to say Israel is considering an appropriate response to the president's program, and that it will come in the context of continuing conversations with Americans and Palestinians? That would mean that Israel could think of bending some of its preferences along with the Palestinians bending some of theirs.

Bibi's sophomoric syndrome is no less severe than Barack's. Moreover, Bibi's is aggravated by a lack of verbal control and poor body language.

Americans and others will not attain even a small amount of the domestic and international aspirations that Obama's rhetoric stimulates.

Bibi will not overcome the much greater power of the American president. His best hope is that the Palestinians will do something even less appropriate than what he is doing.

Sharkansky is professor emeritus of political science at Hebrew University. His email: msira@mscc.huji.ac.il

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Obama's Cairo speech had errors in facts, nuance

By Barry Rubin

HERZLIYA, Israel -- U.S. President Barack Obama’s discussion in his Cairo speech of the Israeli-Palestinian issue is so important that it took up about 25 percent of the text.

Obama sought to put the United States into a neutral rather than pro-Israel position. This is not so unusual as it might seem compared to the 35 years U.S. policy has been trying to be a credible mediator, a length of time many forget--including Obama himself—through numerous peace plans and negotiating structures.

The speech is beautifully constructed and carefully crafted. But what does it say, both intentionally and implicitly?

Obama began by stressing U.S.-Israel links, not downplaying or concealing this from his Muslim audience:

“America's strong bonds with Israel are well known. This bond is unbreakable. It is based upon cultural and historical ties, and the recognition that the aspiration for a Jewish homeland is rooted in a tragic history that cannot be denied.”

He then makes two points: the reality of the Shoah (Holocaust) and opposition to wiping Israel off the map:

“Threatening Israel with destruction--or repeating vile stereotypes about Jews--is deeply wrong, and only serves to evoke in the minds of Israelis this most painful of memories while preventing the peace that the people of this region deserve.”

Previous presidents have often said such but Obama is wrapping this into  his attempt to show Muslims that he is on their side it might be deemed especially effective. But putting almost all emphasis on the Holocaust—which in Arab and Muslim views is a European crime whose bill they are unfairly paying—may be the wrong approach.

He also roots Jews desire for their own country mainly in persecution, to which the Arab/Muslim answer has been that this isn’t their responsibility or that Jews can live happily—as Obama wrongly hints they have done in the past—under Muslim rule.

While Obama tries hard, his approach may reverberate only for a small minority of politically powerless Western-oriented liberals who already understand it.

Turning to Palestinians, he uses an appealing image but one so wrong that it undermines Obama’s entire approach. The Palestinians, he says, have “suffered in pursuit of a homeland” for more than 60 years.

But if that were true the issue would have been solved 60 years ago (1948 through partition), 30 years ago (1979 and Anwar Sadat’s initiative) or 9 years ago (Camp David-2). What has brought Palestinian suffering is the priority on total victory and Israel’s destruction rather than merely getting a homeland. This is the reason why the conflict won’t be solved in the next week, month, or year.

Obama states, “The situation for the Palestinian people is intolerable.” But in real political terms that’s untrue. If it were true, the leadership would move quickly to improve their situation rather than continue the struggle seeking total victory. The Oslo agreement of 1993 and Israel’s withdrawal from the Gaza Strip were both based on this premise and both failed miserably for this very reason.

And so will Obama’s effort.

Pulling out of Gaza, for instance, Israel urged the Palestinian Authority to provide stability, improve living standards, and stop the war on Israel. Huge amounts of money were provided. And the result has been evident.

For Obama, Palestine is what Iraq was for George W. Bush. By rebuilding and reshaping its situation, providing its people with good lives and democracy, he expects to win Arab and Muslim gratitude. Obama’s supporters have ridiculed Bush for trying to remake other peoples, cultures, and countries. The same point applies to Obama.

He concludes, “The only resolution is for the aspirations of both sides to be met through two states, where Israelis and Palestinians each live in peace and security.” True. But what else is new? Israelis’ aspirations—despite misunderstandings by others--can certainly be met by this outcome. The same is not true for Palestinian aspirations as they really exist, rather than as Westerners think they should be.

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While Obama might have said it in a different way, his words echo those of the last five American presidents. In the way he argues, however, Obama reveals his weakness in dealing with these issues. First he says—and this sounds wonderful to Western ears:

“Palestinians must abandon violence. Resistance through violence and killing is wrong and it does not succeed,” citing the American civil rights’ movement as example. This sounds noble but it is silly because it ignores the social and ideological context.

Fatah believes it got control of the West Bank and leadership of the Palestinian people through violence and killing. Hamas in Gaza; Hizballah and Syria in Lebanon; and Iran’s Islamist regime as well as the Muslim Brotherhoods believe that “resistance” works.

From the standpoint of Palestinian leaders, violence and killing are not failures. Moreover, violence and killing are commensurate with the goal of the overwhelming majority of the Palestinian leadership, which is total victory. Their main alternative “peaceful” strategy is the demand—shared by Palestinian Authority leader Mahmoud Abbas—that pretty much all Palestinians who wish to do so must be allowed to live in Israel. A formula for more violence and killing.

Obama also says: “Now is the time for Palestinians to focus on what they can build. The Palestinian Authority must develop its capacity to govern, with institutions that serve the needs of its people.” This, of course, is what we’ve been hearing since 1993, when the responsibility for governing was supposed to transform Yasir Arafat from terrorist to statesman. Isn’t there some reason that this didn’t happen?

He continues: “Hamas does have support among some Palestinians, but they also have to recognize they have responsibilities. To play a role in fulfilling Palestinian aspirations, to unify the Palestinian people, Hamas must put an end to violence, recognize past agreements, recognize Israel's right to exist.”

The mind reels. Hamas doesn’t just have support, it governs the Gaza Strip. It disagrees with Obama. Fulfilling Palestinian aspirations means for it creating an Islamist state from the Jordan river to the Mediterranean. Unifying the Palestinian people means for it seizing control of the West Bank also and putting all the territories under its rule.

And what will Obama do when nobody behaves the way he wants them to? In this respect, Israel is not his problem, though he doesn’t seem to understand that yet.

Consider the otherworldliness of what he says about Israel. Here’s an example: “The continuing humanitarian crisis in Gaza does not serve Israel's security; neither does the continuing lack of opportunity in the West Bank.” Actually, the latter point is precisely the current Israeli government’s policy. As for Gaza, mitigating the alleged humanitarian crisis means strengthening a Hamas government. Ending the “crisis,” by opening the borders and infusing lots of money that will inevitably be used to strengthen Hamas’s rule threatens Israel’s security far more than the status quo.

One of Obama’s best lines was to say, “The Arab-Israeli conflict should no longer be used to distract the people of Arab nations from other problems.” But this is so basic to the needs of the existing regimes, why would the governments respond to Obama’s call to do this, any more than to Bush’s urging for democracy?

Here’s Obama’s main theme: “Privately, many Muslims recognize that Israel will not go away. Likewise, many Israelis recognize the need for a Palestinian state. It is time for us to act on what everyone knows to be true.”

This argument—peace is rational so just do it!--has been the basic concept governing Western policy toward the issue at least since the late 1970s. Even before. In 1955, U.S. Secretary of State John Foster Dulles asked why the Arabs and Israelis didn’t settle their differences like “Christian gentlemen?” Obama is more culturally sensitive, but his ethnocentric approach is basically the same.

After decades we are no closer to implementing this idea, perhaps even further. Obama’s task is to come to understand why this is so. Here’s one hint: almost all Israelis publicly support a Palestinian state if it leads to a stable peace. Those Muslims ready for full peace with Israel are still a minority who are too afraid to speak other than “privately.” This imbalance explains why the conflict continues, who is responsible for it, and what must be done to change that situation.


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There are times of cooperation in Jewish-Muslim relations

Kingdom of Morocco epitomizes
strong Muslim-Jewish relations

A recent piece in the Philadelphia Inquirer by Warren L. Miller, chairman of the US Commission for the Preservation of America's Heritage Abroad, an organization which works with foreign governments to preserve endangered sites of cultural and historical significance, noted that King Mohammed VI of Morocco has made it a point to not only acknowledge the Holocaust but to insist that the world must learn lessons from it.

Following is a text of King Mohammed VI's remarks on March 18, read by the Minister of Religious Affairs at the launch of the Aladdin Project, a cultural and educational initiative to promote Jewish-Muslim dialogue and understanding, organized by the Foundation for the Memory of the Shoah.

Comments of King Mohammed VI

Praise be to God. May peace and blessings be upon His Prophets and Messengers

Excellencies, Ladies and Gentlemen,

What a choice and what a responsibility to call on Aladdin’s myth to invite us to ponder collectively and differently on one of the most tragic and inexpressible stigmas of modern history.

It is indeed a responsibility and unusual choice because none of us, ladies and gentlemen, can claim to have an understanding of the Holocaust that is all-encompassing, absolute and without concession or compromise.

Such concession or compromise would be dictated by the speculations of the moment or by the frailties of a guilty memory because it is deliberately selective.

Amnesia has no effect on my understanding of the Holocaust, or that of my people.

In fact, we perceive it as a wound to the collective memory, which we know is engraved in one of the most painful chapters in the collective history of mankind.

People other than myself can rightly point out, in this respect, that when it comes to the Kingdom of Morocco, this assertion is not new, nor is it merely spoken words.

The reason I say this today is to make sure that Aladdin, your Reflection Group, sets for itself the priority objective of finally telling the rest of the world how Arab and Islamic countries, such as mine, resisted Nazism and said ‘No’ to the barbarity of the Nazis and to the villainous laws of the Vichy government.

The Community of Nations has for long accommodated itself with a selective reading of the history of this dark and regressive era. A reading that allowed all fantasies to flourish by default.

In what history or civic education textbooks used in the West is it taught that Morocco had opened its doors, as early as the 1930s, to European Jewish communities who had seen the peril looming on the horizon?

In what institutes or intellectual forums, in Europe or the United States, is the exemplary and historic attitude of my late grandfather His Majesty King Mohammed V - blessed be his soul - discussed? Notwithstanding the implacable realities of the French protectorate, which severely constrained his power, His Majesty managed to oppose the enforcement of the racist Vichy laws against Moroccans citizens of Jewish faith.

Each of you will understand that when I call for an exhaustive and faithful reading of the history of this period, I do not merely do justice to actual facts.

We live in a time that is not neutral. A time in which the collective imagination of all of our societies is also fuelled by the prospect of exclusion and failure when it comes to the promises of dialogue between our civilizations, our cultures and our religions.

Hence, we must together endeavour to re-assert reason and the values which underpin the legitimacy of a space of conviviality where the words of dignity, justice and freedom will express themselves in the same way and will coexist, with the same requirements, regardless of our origins, cultures or spiritualities.

This is our interpretation, in Morocco, of the duty of remembrance dictated by the Shoah.

In its depth as much as in its tragic specificity, this duty of remembrance strongly imposes ethical, moral and political standards which will, tomorrow, be the true guarantors of this peace - based on equally shared justice and dignity – and for which most Palestinians and Israelis yearn.

Thank you.

Palestinians and Israelis create
a joint chamber of commerce

TEL AVIV (Press Release)-- The recent inauguration of the Israeli-Palestinian Chamber of Commerce provided an opportunity for high-profile speakers to address the issue of cross-border trade relations.

Israeli Minister for Regional Cooperation Silvan Shalom emphasized the importance of promoting economic relations with the Palestinians, and gave special mention to the Industrial Parks as a major channel through which to advance trade relations. Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs Mr. Danny Ayalon

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praised the establishment of the Chamber, suggesting that the creation of such Chamber was well overdue. Furthermore, Mr. Eival Giladi, Chairman of the Israeli-Palestinian Chamber of Commerce, thanked all those who assisted in establishing the Chamber, and specifically noted the Peres Center for its partnership in initiating and realizing the Chamber.

Finally, keynote speaker Mr. Tony Blair, the Quartet’s Representative to the Middle East, spoke, highlighting the importance of the two-state solution and his willingness to advance such solution.

The event was attended by leading Israeli and Palestinian businesspeople, and also included the participation of: Israeli government officials from the Ministry of Industry, Trade and Employment, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, and the Ministry for Regional Cooperation; the Governor of the Bank of Israel Prof. Stanley Fischer; senior Israeli economists; ambassadors and diplomatic staff, among them the American, Egyptian and Jordanian Ambassadors who were accompanied by large delegations; representatives from the Israeli private sector organizations including the Union of the Chambers of Commerce, Manufacturers Association of Israel and more.

The establishment of such Chamber results from an incubating process initiated and led by the Peres Center, and implemented jointly with the Federation of Israeli Bi-National Chambers of Commerce, and through the strong involvement of, and support from, the Portland Trust. The Chamber is now functioning as a focal point for Israeli businesspeople interested in creating trade relations with the Palestinian market, with a view to encouraging better cross-border trade relations.

Some other recent peace-building developments:

*A 3-day meeting was held to examine the possibilities of marketing a jointly-blended Palestinian-Israeli extra-virgin olive oil, with a special emphasis on the involvement of women in an effort to advance women’s empowerment.
Palestinian and Israeli experts on olive oil, agricultural extension and marketing – most of them women – discussed the development of a prototype toward a joint Palestinian-Israeli brand and other practical issues related to olive oil and additional joint products.

The meeting also included an educational tour at an Arab-Israeli olive oil press in Iksal, a business-to-business gathering with members of an Arab-Israeli women’s empowerment organization, and a visit to the Agritech international exhibition in Tel Aviv.

The meeting was delivered and supported by the Peres Center in partnership with San Diego State University's Hansen Institute for World Peace-EMC, and follows on from many previous activities undertaken by the Peres Center within the “Olives – Symbol of Peace” project.

*Twenty Palestinian and Israeli youth visited Germany within the second phase of the trilateral Israeli-Palestinian-German cultural exchange program. Launched in November 2008 with a visit to the region by a delegation of German youth, the Israeli, Palestinian and German youth aged 17-18 years enjoyed the chance to meet again and partake in an exciting program. The mixed group met German Chancellor Dr. Angela Merkel, German President Mr. Horst Köhler, the President of the Bundestag, the Lord Mayor of the City of Bochum, and Minister Armin Laschet from the Government of North Rhine-Westphalia, and other important dignitaries.

One of the highlights of the visit was the time spent with German rock star Peter Maffay at his studios, where the youth recorded the song “We Care”. The Israeli-Palestinian-German group performed the song once again at a closing event in Bochum. In addition, the youth participated in a workshop with a team from MTV which featured Israeli and Palestinian rap artists. The feedback received from the youth was heartwarming; many acknowledged a real change in their perceptions of “the other” and Palestinian-Israeli friendships were formed. The trilateral cultural exchange program was supported by the Government of North Rhine-Westphalia and the Peter Maffay Foundation.

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The American president as a touring rock star

By Shoshana Bryen

bryenWASHINGTON, D.C. —Like everyone else, we read reams of commentary over the weekend on President Obama's speech in Cairo. There was a lot of really good information from people who thought the President might not have been fully informed. Some - Ralph Peters, Charles Krauthammer, Danielle Pletka, Rush Limbaugh, Victor Davis Hanson, Walid Phares, James Hoagland, Lanny Davis, Barry Rubin, the Washington Post and Jerusalem Post editorial columns, Jonathan Tobin and Christopher Caldwell - eloquently supplied elements of the information "missing" from the speech.   

We loved every one of them and encourage you to read them for your own edification, but don't expect to find the White House quoting them. The information wasn't "missing" because the White House/State Department didn't know it, it was missing because that information wasn't important to the objects of the President's interest, and wouldn't further the President's goals.

The President was talking to people who live in countries where, with few exceptions, governments are dictatorial and ruthless, the media is controlled, experience and education are limited (particularly for women), and propaganda is rampant. Under the circumstances, it is not surprising that a great many people in those places believe the President of the United States (regardless of political party) is beholden to the "Jewish
Lobby," and Israel and Jews have disproportionate influence in Washington. Many also believe that the United States is a colonial power, created Israel, is "anti-Muslim," and is clumsy

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and arrogant in its dealings with non-Americans. A great many believe the 9-11 attack was done by the CIA or the Mossad - or didn't happen at all.

Actually, there are people in the United States who believe those things as well.

Whether the President does or does not, it appears to have been among his goals to assert that he is neither beholden to the "Jewish Lobby" nor unduly influenced by Jews or Israel. Playing fast and loose with Israel and the Jewish people, equating the Holocaust with the suffering of Palestinians and throwing down a marker on settlements was simply a way to get them to like him.

And they do. He is no doubt more popular with millions of Muslims than were any of his immediate predecessors. Just as he was more popular with millions of French and Germans after his triumphal European tour and with millions of South Americans after his grinning handshake with Hugo Chavez.  

The unanswered question is what impact a President-as-rock-star has on the policies of friends and foes, and on our own policies. The early returns aren't great. Being liked in Europe didn't get the President stimulus money, homes for Gitmo prisoners or more troops for Afghanistan. And the reaction to the President's friendly overtures to Iran, Venezuela and North Korea has been overtly threatening to American interests.  

We believe the President's speech and his ensuing popularity will not materially improve American interests - and certainly it damages our interest in ensuring the security of like-minded, democratic countries including, but not limited to, Israel.

Bryen is special projects director for the Jewish Institute for National Security Affairs. (JINSA). Her column is sponsored by Waxie Sanitary Supply in memory of Morris Wax, longtime JINSA supporter and national board member

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AND THEY'RE OFF—Female triathletes plunge into the waters off the coast of Herzliya, Israel, in recent triathalon


New competitors and teammates taste joy of triathalon

By Ulla Hadar

HERZLIYA, Israel--In Israel a smaller percentage of women compete in sports events compared to many other countries.

So it was sheer pleasure to see 1,100 women arriving at the Herzliya beach to compete at the
women's 16th triathlon.

A triathlon is a multi-sport endurance event consisting of swimming, cycling, and running in immediate succession over various distances. Triathletes compete for fastest overall course completion time, including timed "transitions" between the individual swim, bike, and run components.

For a long time I have wanted to participate in an event like this but only being capable of biking and running and having no talent for swimming, until recently there was no opportunity.

My very good friend Atara Ron, who is an information technology system engineer at the Soroka Hospital, lives in Kibbutz Shoval. Although that kibbutz is located within the Bnei Shimon municipality, rather than the Sha'ar Hanegev municipality where my home in Kibbutz Ruhama is located, we do not live far from each other. Atara is an excellent runner and shared by desire as me to participate in a triathlon.

Two weeks ago we decided to look for a swimmer since the event makes it possible to enter as a team of three. Ruth Gabai, a professional nurse who lives in Kibbutz Ruhama, is a very good swimmer who trains frequently at the Hydro Therapy Center in Sha'ar Hanegev. She agreed to join our team.

As all of us were first time triathletes, the pressure and our nerves were working full time as we drove early one morning towards Herzliya, on the central part of Israel's coast line.

Rafi, my husband, joined us as driver, coach, photographer, cheerleader,food and water supplier etc..

Arriving in Herzliya the area was crowded with women, carrying bags, pushing bicycles, holding hands with their children. Everyone was dressed in sport gear and many were accompanied by husbands, boyfriends, coaches and family members.

After entering the changing area, we placed the bib number on the bike and bib numbers on us and fastened the chip that measures the time to Ruth as her swimming event came first. After her swim she would again enter the changing zone, pass the chip to me as the biker. When I finished, I would pass the chip to Atara who would run the last leg.

Everyone waited for the signal at the beach to let the race begin.

In our group the 40+ sprint, 220 women had signed up. T‏hirty nine were team participants like us and 181 would compete individually in all three sports.

The sea was full of waves and to my eyes it seemed an impossibility to swim 750 meters in such seas. My nerves were now filling up my whole body and my throat was dry, but on the outside, at least, I stood patiently waiting near my bike.

Before I knew it, Ruth stormed in handing over the chip to me. And off I went. Now it was my turn to perform! You have to enter and exit the changing zone by foot; only when the biker is completely out of this area you can mount the bike. As I cleared the changing area, my nerves loosened up a bit, the adrenaline reserves could start burning some of the anxiety my whole body was shaking from.

Once I started peddling my bike there was only one thought going through my mind, to finish as fast as possible and to perform in the best way that I could.

Calming down I was now able to accelerate and passed many competitors on the road. It is obvious that when you are
competing in only one of the branches of the triathlon you have an advantage, you can give yourself 100% to the one sport you are good at, and not have to worry about reserve energy for the others.

After 20 kilometers I returned and quickly handed the chip to Atara, wishing her good luck. Rafi, Ruth and I now walked to the finish line to wait for her to arrive at the end of her 5-kilometer run.

When she passed the finish line, we discovered that of the 39 teams we had placed 4th with a total time of 1 hour 18 minutes and 50 seconds. Our personal results were Ruth 14:31 (12 overall out of 220) Ulla 38:55 (9 overall out of 220) and Atara 25:24 (6 overall out of 220).

The event was very colorful with small stalls in shady areas selling sports equipment as well as food and drinks. The three of us arrived home with a taste for more triathalons.

As for myself, I can only emphasize that my previous participation in the Bike Israel2009 in association with my wonderful friends from San Diego opened my eyes to the joys of road biking.

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ABOVE—Ulla Hadar fast walks her bike out of the transition area to do a 20 kilometer bike ride as part of a three-member triathalon team. BELOW: Ulla (middle) poses with teammates Ruth Gabai (left, swimmer) and Atara Ron (runner).

Road biking has provided a new dimension to my life, something that I have found that I am good at and at the same time enjoy.

The next sports event on my calendar is to participate in an offroad "Desert Queen" jeep tour of Macedonia, Albania and Montenegro. Then, I'll return to Israel to participate in the June 27 road biking championship.

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Jewish world through the photographers' lenses

Farm maneuvers at Kibbutz Gevim

KIBBUTZ GEVIM—Mayor Alon Schuster of Sha'ar Hanegev
providedt these photographs of wheat harvesting machines
information at Kibbutz Gevim with the comment: "Despite a dfficult agricultural year we will continue to be optimistic for
the years to come." Sha'ar Hanegev is the partnership region in
Israel of the United Jewish Federation of San Diego County.

Dance n' crafts at Tifereth Israel

DANCE DEMONSTRATION—Torah school students at Tifereth Israel Synagogue in San Diego demonstrated Israeli dancing at membership appreciation day on Sunday, June 7. BELOW: A tzedakah ladder, ranking those who give charity, made from ice cream sticks. (Donald H. Harrison photos)


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Democratic Perspective

Sotomayor is a strong choice for U.S. Supreme Court

By Ira N. Forman

WASHINGTON, D.C. -- President Barack Obama showed sound judgment and profound respect for our nation’s highest court by selecting an individual who has impeccable credentials and is committed to our constitutional values, rights, and liberties.

Judge Sonia Sotomayor brings not only a distinguished legal background to the Supreme Court, but a wealth of common sense understanding of how the law affects everyday life. Sotomayor has been called "a uniquely well-qualified Supreme Court nominee, someone with a sharp and independent mind, and a record of excellence and integrity" by the Leadership Conference on Civil Rights.

When Sotomayor’s nomination was made official in the East Room of the White House last month, numerous Jewish organizations were in attendance, including the National Jewish Democratic Council (NJDC). We were proud to be there and be a part of this historic moment. Many leading Jewish groups, in addition to NJDC, have praised the Sotomayor nomination and her strong credentials, including the American Jewish Committee (AJC), Anti-Defamation League (ADL), Jewish Council for Public Affairs (JCPA), Orthodox Union (OU), and Religious Action Center (RAC). Within our community, a consensus has developed: Sotomayor will be a welcome addition to the Supreme Court.

If confirmed, Sotomayor would bring more federal judicial experience to the Supreme Court than any justice in 100 years, and more overall judicial experience than anyone confirmed to the Court in the past 70 years. She has been a prosecutor, a corporate litigator, and a now a federal judge for the last 17 years.

Sotomayor’s quintessential American story and strong legal career provide her with unique qualifications to be the next Supreme Court justice. Former Chief Judge of the Second Circuit Court of Appeals Jon Newman said Sotomayor “ is everything one would want in a first-rate judge.” Her ascent to the federal bench from an upbringing in a South Bronx housing project is an inspiration, in and of itself.

Support for Sotomayor’s judicial career has transcended political lines. Before she was nominated to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit by President Bill Clinton in 1997, and confirmed by the Senate in 1998, she was nominated to the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York by President George H.W. Bush in 1991 and confirmed unanimously by the Senate.

It has been disappointing that leading Republicans have taken the nomination of Sotomayor as an opportunity to launch nasty attacks on her character and question if she really has what it takes to serve on our highest court. They ignore the fact that she was first appointed to the federal courts by a Republican president. It is one thing to stand against a nominee on ideological grounds, and another still to do so on partisan

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grounds. But when Republicans depict Sotomayor as a racist they go beyond the pale. Although there are some in the GOP who sanely call on their colleagues to “refrain from calling Sonia Sotomayor a racist,” Republican Senate Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) has “refused…to condemn [these] controversial comments.” And then there are the absurd Republican attacks that Sotomayor is somehow an “intellectual lightweight.” Her academic qualifications are impeccable and she is at least as intellectually qualified or even more so than any justice sitting on the bench today. Sotomayor’s 20 years of service in the federal courts exceeds comparable experience of anyone recently nominated. This kind of rhetoric and these spineless attacks are inexcusable.

The President believes it is important for the Senate to vote and confirm Sotomayor before the August recess, to allow the new justice time to prepare and participate when the Court confers this fall and selects cases to be heard for the upcoming term. I agree. The ridiculous Sotomayor bashing must stop. Republicans and Democrats should work together to review Sotomayor’s record and work towards a confirmation this summer.

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How good and pleasant it is--two cantors creating together
To hear Cantor Merkel sing, Hiney Ma Tov, please click here

Hi-ney Ma Tov (Psalm 133: verse 1) Sung by Cantor Stephen Merkel, composed by Cantor Salomon Sulzer. 

Behold how good and how pleasant it is for brethren to dwell together in unity!”

By Cantor Sheldon Merel

SAN DIEGO--Two cantors, spanning a century, are responsible for this recording.  Cantor Stephen Merkel, a baritone, z"l, sings a composition by Cantor Salomon Sulzer, who changed the course of organized Jewish Music in the 19th century.

Cantor Merkel served at Westchester Reform Temple, Scarsdale, New York, for 19 years, until his death this past February. He was an intelligent, colorful and passionate man who loved his calling.  He is deeply mourned by his congregation and colleagues of the American Conference of Cantors.  Stephen had a brilliant career in the cantorate, opera, and concertized across the United States and Canada. His voice was broadcast throughout Canada under the auspices of the CBC, and his performance of Bloch’s “Sacred Service” with the Santa Barbara Choral Society was noted as a “performance that integrated vocal beauty and spirituality to an exceptional degree."

Born in Winnipeg, Merkel began his professional career in musical theater, but under the guidance of the New York Metropolitan Opera Contralto, Maureen Forrester, he re-focused his talents from musical comedy to the study of classical music.  Later, he attended the Julliard School in New York, where he continued his operatic training, and performed with the American Opera Company.  His love of traditional Jewish music, combined with an appreciation of contemporary liturgical expression, eventually led him to study at the Jewish Theological Seminary in New York, where he completed the four-year cantorial program in 1982.

Cantor Salomon Sulzer’s (1804-1890) arrangement of Hineh Ma Tov for cantor, choir and organ reflects the musical style of his time. Sulzer was a phenomenal singer and composer of Jewish Music, and became an icon of the 19th century cantorate.  Jewish worshippers flocked from all over Europe to hear him sing at the Seitenstettengasse Temple in Hohenems, Austria, as did some of the most sophisticated gentile musicians.  

Franz Liszt, the famous pianist and composer, described his visit,   “In Vienna we visited the famous tenor, Sulzer, who served in the capacity of precentor in the synagogue, and whose reputation is so outstanding. For moments we could penetrate into his real soul and recognize the secret teachings of his forefathers. “   This was the first time in Jewish history that a cantor became so famous and honored by artists, musicians, magnates of wealth, and by academies of art.

Wikipedia reports that Cantor Sulzer re-organized the music

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of European synagogues, retaining the traditional chants and melodies, but harmonizing them in accordance with musical
styles of the 19th century.  He tried to find the "middle road" in his music that would preserve the essential elements of Jewish musical traditions, but clothe them in musical garb of his time that would please the older generation. At the same time, he provided an idiom to attract the younger acculturated Jews of Austria and Germany.

Sulzer’s musical arrangements were introduced into nearly all the Ashkenazic synagogues of the world. His life works changed the course and form of Jewish religious services, and by his personality and brilliant Baritone-Tenor voice enhanced the profession and perception of the Jewish cantor.

Merel is cantor emeritus of Congregation Beth Isral in San Diego. Email: merels@sandiegojewishworld.com

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Bible in Pop Culture: evening...morning, a fifth day

Genesis 1:23

And there was evening and there was morning, a fifth day

The image at the left comes from the website of Peace Lutheran Church in Neenah, Wisconsin.

Do you have a photo that you think illustrates how a biblical verse has worked its way into pop culture. Please send it to us for possible publication in this series, "The Bible in Pop Culture."

You may send your jpg photo for posting online to us at San Diego Jewish World, emailing it to editor@sandiegojewishheritage.com.

If possible, please send it at 72dpi resolution and 400 pixels wide. Please include the name of the photographer, the date and place the photo was taken, and any other relevant caption information.

For our growing "Pop Bible" collection please see
Bible in pop culture index

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Biography of pioneer Klauber compellingly written

The Sounding by David M. Klauber, Coulter Ridge Press, Julian, California, 2009; ISBN 978-0-578-02142-3; no price listed, 526 pages including footnotes.

By Donald H. Harrison

SAN DIEGO—David M. Klauber is both an engineer and a fine story-teller, and he was able to combine these qualities in authoring The Sounding, a biography of his Bohemian-born great-great grandfather Abraham Klauber (1831-1911).

In telling the hardships of his 19th century immigrant ancestor’s trek across the isthmus of Nicaragua from the Atlantic to the Pacific Coast—a shorter but far more dangerous route than sailing around the tip of South America—or in explaining how the economies of  gold and silver mining towns blossomed and withered in California and Nevada, David Klauber writes so vividly that a reader can almost feel he or she has personally has had these experiences. 

Similarly, the author transports readers when he tells of his forebearer’s experiences as a volunteer fireman, and when he re-creates the drama of a deadly gun battle between Mexican bandits and the Gaskill Brothers, whose general store in rural Campo was close to the international border.

The Gaskill Brothers were among Abraham’s many customers spread through the wide reaches of San Diego County, which in Abraham’s day stretched far beyond its current boundaries to include all of modern day Imperial County and Riverside County.  Arriving in San Diego in 1869 and among the earliest businesses to establish in Alonzo Horton’s “New Town,”  today’s downtown, Abraham Klauber imported goods chiefly from San Francisco, and provided them by wagon to storekeepers throughout the region.

Bringing merchandise to the trade was a skill Abraham Klauber had learned in the 1850s and 1860s in Sacramento and Volcano, California, and in Genoa and Carson City, Nevada.  To save shipping costs, he maintained and often drove his very own mule teams over precipitous mountain terrain.

David Klauber’s storytelling skills outweigh some of the obvious flaws in the first edition of the book, chief of which was a confusion of homonyms.   Thus “who’s” went on several occasions undetected when  “whose” were intended—the kind of problem a computerized  “spell checker” is powerless to combat. 

Although Abraham Klauber was Jewish, as a result of intermarriages many of his descendants are Christians and one can detect an occasional unfamiliarity with Jewish customs and ritual throughout the text.   At one point, Yom Kippur was referred to as the “Day of Atonements,” the plural, in my opinion, not a typo but evidence of that unfamiliarity.

These, however, are quibbles; I’d recommend the biography to anyone with a serious interest in western history or in the stories of the Jewish merchants who bravely set up stores in rough mining camps or in hard scrabble towns far from major population centers, and who thereby helped to regularize and to develop those places’ economies.

In the tradition of those Jewish merchants who had preceded him to San Diego County—Louis Rose, Joseph S. Mannasse and Marcus Schiller—Klauber became involved in the civic affairs of the area, even serving as chairman of the county Board of Supervisors from 1878 to 1880 during the time when the county was seeking unsuccessfully to become a railroad terminus and a depot for international trade.  He also was an active member of the Masons and of the San Diego Chamber of Commerce.

He also became involved in farming and ranching with holdings in northern California.  The Klauber family had two sets of homes—in the San Francisco Bay area, near the source of supply for many trade goods  and in San Diego. During Abraham’s lifetime they on at least two occasions located back and forth, depending in large measure on where business was better.

Abraham had a series of business partners, who in their own right impacted San Diego both as merchants and civic leaders.

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These included Sig Steiner, Simon Levi and Julius Wangenheim.  As was fairly typical in merchant families, there was a pattern of marriages among their families.

The book’s title, “The Sounding,” refers to the day in 1850 that Abraham Klauber decided to leave his home in Zdeslav, Bohemia, for the new world.  The great-great grandson equates Abraham’s quest for a new life in America with “the sounding; the ritual call of the Shofar or ram’s horn; it is the siren sound of sacrifice, the call to become something more than you are now.  It is the wailing blast and the sobbing cry of the Jewish heart with its yearning to achieve great things and to not be constrained by the past, but instead to live up to ones (sic, one’s) enormous potential.”

Harrison's email: editor@sandiegojewishworld.com

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Adventures in San Diego Jewish History
With thanks to Gail Umeham for the transcription

Council Plans Reading
of Benchley Classic

Southwestern Jewish Press May 1, 1953, page 2

The Council of Jewish Women is very pleased to bring to the members and their friends a delightful program at the next luncheon meeting, May 5, which will be held at Temple Beth Israel  at 12 noon.  A delicious home-made lunch has been planned.

Through the efforts of Dr. Cunningham, of San Diego State College, we were able to obtain Bill Dyer, a student in the Drama Department, whose program will consist of a reading of Robert Benchley’s “Treasurer’s Report.”

All women are welcome to attend Council’s Luncheon meetings which are held the first Tuesday of each month at Temple Beth Israel.

Reservations may be made by calling Mrs. H. Sugarman, R-5146 or Mrs. M. Roberts, T-8855.  President, Mrs. R.R. Smith will preside.

City of Hope Jr. Aux.
Installation June 6

Southwestern Jewish Press May 1, 1953, page 2

An interesting program is planned for City of Hope Junior Auxiliary members for their May 12 meeting at Landis Street Center.

On Saturday, June 6, the club will hold its installation of officers at a Dinner Dance at the El Morocco.  Officers to be installed are:  Pres., Leah Hoggard; 1st Vice Pres., Edith Malkoff; 2nd Vice Pres. Rose Okmin; 3rd Vice Pres., Ruth Axelrod; Cor. Sec., Helen Singer; Rec. Sec., Mildred Nauman; Treas. And Fin. Sec., Pearl Rubin; Historian, Preston Hoggard; Parliamentarian and Sergeant at Arms, Harold  Reisman.

Birdie Stodel B.B. To Install Officers
Southwestern Jewish Press May 1, 1953, page 2

Elaborate plans are being made by the Birdie Stodel B’nai B’rith Chapter for their Installation of Officers and Dinner to be held on Sunday, May 3, in the Don Room of the El Cortez Hotel.  Those unable to attend the dinner are welcome to attend the installation and party to follow.

Birdie Stodel, President of the Grand Lodge 24 years ago, for whom the chapter was named, will be installing officer.  She will be assisted by Elizabeth Harris, who performed the same job 24 years ago at the inception of the local chapter.

The following officers are to be installed:  Mrs. Sam Stein, Pres.; Mrs. Wm. Schusterman, First Vice Pres.; Mrs. Sam Weiss, 2nd Vice Pres.; Aida Most, 3rd Vice Pres.; Mrs. Ben Ornstein, Treas.; Mrs. Ruben Aved, Cor. Sec.; Mrs. Mel Steffel, Fin. Sec.; Mrs. Zel Camiel, Rec. Sec.; Mrs. Mack Strauss, Guardian, amnd Mrs. Mack Freedman, Sentinel, and outgoing Pres., Mrs. Ted Brav, Counsellor.

Mrs. Jerry Aronoff, Chairman, advises this affair is open to the public; dinner at a non-profit charge, and installation open to all at no charge.

Vets Award Vet
Southwestern Jewish Press May 1, 1953, page 2

Joseph M. Spatz was awarded the American and Patriotism Medal for his outstanding and hard work these many years for veterans in San Diego.  The award was made by outgoing Commander J. David Brooks.  This wass the first award ever given in San Diego, and it is planned to present one each year to a deserving citizen.

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Dig That Man!
Southwestern Jewish Press May 1, 1953, page 2

Don Howard, San Diego teen-agers’ favorite disc jockey, will spin a few discs at the Jewish Community Center, 3227 El Cajon Blvd., on Thursday, May 7th, 8:00 p.m.  Mr. Howard, KSDO disc jockey, hopes to meet his many fans and promises to bring along several Jazz Classics.  All high school teen-agers are welcome to attend.

Rabbi Levens to Deliver
Sermon at United Synagogue Regional Convention

Southwestern Jewish Press May 1, 1953, page 3

Tifereth Israel Synagogue will join with twenty-five Conservative Congregations in Southern California, at the Annual Regional Convention of the United Synagogue of America to be held in Los Angeles May 15th, 16th, and 17th.

Rabbi Levens will deliver the sermon at this United Service.  Services at Tifereth Israel will be suspended that evening, except for a Sunset Service.

Men’s Club to Sponsor Annual Mother’s Day Dinner-Dance
Southwestern Jewish Press May 1, 1953, page 3

Tifereth Israel Men’s Club will hold its 2nd annual Mother’s Day Dinner-Dance at the El Morocco Club on Saturday night, May 9.
The dinner will be preceded by a cocktail hour beginning at 7:00 p.m., and will be followed by dancing to the music of Al Cassel’s orchestra.

Proceeds of the Dinner-Dance will be applied toward the Men’s club pledge to the new Center Building.  Reservations may be made by phoning Ben Levenson at F-3228 or Jerry Weisman at F-8851.

Tifereth Israel Sisterhood
Southwestern Jewish Press May 1, 1953, page 3

The May meeting of Tifereth Israel Sisterhood will be on Tuesday, May 12th in the Synagogue.  Circle No. 8 with Mrs. Moe Hershey and Mrs. Edward A. Breitbard as captains will serve the luncheon at 12 noon which will precede the meeting.  Reservations are requested and can be made by calling Mrs. Breitbard, R-4358 or the Synagogue office, T.1-5529.

The program of the day will be the nomination and election of officers for the ensuing year.  The slate as presented by the nominating committee is as follows:  President, Mrs. Zel Greenberg; Vice-Presidents, Mrs. E. Warren Oglesby; Mrs. Edward I. Binder/ Mrs. Ben Press; Rec. Sec., Mrs. Paul Belkin; Corr. Sec., Mrs. Harold Stolarsky; Fin. Sec., Mrs. Sam Klasky; Treasurer, Mrs. Ed Baranov; Auditor, Mrs. Walter Bystrom.

A group of members are planning to attend the Conference of the Southern Region of the United Synagogues of America and the Natonal-Women’s League to be held in Las Angeles May 15th through May 17th.

The Co-chairman of the Freezer Project remind all members to be sure to bring their stubs, money, and tickets to this meeting!  Mrs. Lewis Solomon and Mrs. Herbert Gordon are desirous of making an accounting of the funds of this all-important project before May 30, which is the date of the completion of this undertaking.

“Adventures in Jewish History” is sponsored by Inland Industries Group LP in memory of long-time San Diego Jewish community leader Marie (Mrs. Gabriel) Berg. Our indexed "Adventures in San Diego Jewish History" series
will be a daily feature until we run out of history.

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Jewish Internet Favorites ... featuring notable Jewish community members*
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Owen Kline is the younger son in "The Squid and the Whale"

Jonathan Lipnicki is interviewed about his part in Stuart Little with clips and Hugh Laurie

Daniel Magder in 'Life Without Derek'

Nathalia Ramos as Yasmin keeps falling for the guy in "Bratz"

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