Dorothy Online Newsletter


Dear Friends,

Just 6 items tonight.  Apart from last night’s prisoner release, the international media was/is busy with Korea, Syria, Egypt for the most part.  And there wasn’t that much earth shaking in the Israeli news either.  So just 6 not overly long items.

The first one is perhaps one of the more important ones.  First of all, it is in a Jewish newspaper—the Jewish Forward.  Secondly, the author, Eric Alterman, writes “A final split is coming between Israel and world Jewry.”  That is a rather dramatic statement, but it also expresses what I have seen signs of.  If this is true, then it is a blessing.  Israel cannot exist without Jews.  This is one thing that its present leaders do not seem to care about or realize as they march forward with more and more undemocratic bills and as the country sees more and more theocratic control.  Well, I would rather see Israel quietly go down the drain by lack of diaspora interest in it than by a war with Iran or any other country.

Item 2 is the Washington Post depiction of the prisoner release.  I selected it over other depictions because it was the only one that I read that claimed that Shalit (the Israeli soldier for whom the swap was made—1 soldier for over 1000 Palestinian prisoners) was ‘captured’ rather than ‘abducted’ or other less accurate terms.  Shalit was a soldier, was in a tank whose 2 other occupants were killed in the attack, and he was captured.  Soldiers are not kidnapped, as most news items about him stated.  Soldiers, when taken by the other side, are captured!  I’m glad that about 1,000 families have their loved ones home.  I hope that the remaining 4,500 Palestinian prisoners in Israeli jails will also be released, and that the number of prisoners incarcerated will not grow.

Item 3 is another criticism of Newt Gingrich, but rather than merely arguing with or correcting him, this one takes a different tack, and one that might backfire on the Jews.  Kristin Szremski argues that Gingrich puts Israel first, America second or at least after.

In item 4 Germany scolds Israel for intending to build another 1000 dwellings in the WB and East Jerusalem.  When will Germany and others learn that scolding and shaking a finger at Israel will gain nothing but Israel (the leaders, I mean) spitting in their face.

Items 5 and 6 are both about education, though different from one another.

Item 5 relates that the Jewish Agency is launching a “virtual network” linking Israel and the Diaspora.  It sounds to me as though the Jewish Agency is realizing that Israel is losing world Jewry, and will use propaganda in schools to alter the situation.  Will the program bring Jewish children to identify with Israel?  I doubt it.  For one thing, the program is only for private schools, which means that not all Jewish children will be subjected to it.  For another thing, the days are gone when most Jews romanticized Israel.  What the children hear at home also impacts on them.

Item 6 reports that the Technion has been selected to partner Cornell university in erecting an applied sciences center.  Interesting.  Philip Weiss cites a friend’s comments on the deal:


“Why is US (NYC) courting Israel, a pariah-state, to develop a high-tech state-of-the-art grad school in NYC? The main issue I have is what it implies for the future. Are American students, post-doctoral fellows, and professors going to be working with/for an institution that is fully-partnered with Israel? Given Technion’s position in Israel (discrimination against Israeli Palestinians), it raises some very serious questions regarding NYC’s role in “legitimizing” Technion. Will US-based brains, resources, and hard work to be “automatically” shared with an Israeli institution? For example, an Asian foreign student working hard at such an institution will indirectly be “helping” Israel. There are so many aspects to this proposed collaboration and the questions should be raised NOW (in public) before the final selection is done in January.”

Apart from these qualms, I would also like to know the criteria that selected the Technion for the partnership.  Do they possibly relate to the fact that Israeli universities (the Technion among them) have a notable track record of R&D in military technology?  I wonder.

With that question, I finish for tonight.

All the best,



1 Forwarded by David M.

From: Ed Pearl

Sent: Friday, December 16, 2011 2:42 PM

Subject: The Jewish Forward: Drifting Away


Israel Turning Into Theocracy, Drifting Away From the Liberal Ethos of World Jewry

Read more:

By Eric Alterman

Forward: Published December 12, 2011, issue of December 16, 2011.


A final split is coming between Israel and world Jewry. The reason is that Israel is slowly but surely turning into a conservative theocracy, writes Eric Alterman.

It is becoming increasingly obvious that a break between Israel and Diaspora Jewry, particularly its American variety, is fast approaching. The reason for this is that Israel is slowly but inexorably turning into a conservative theocracy while the Diaspora is largely dedicated to liberal democracy.

The strategy of the “pro-Israel” camp among American Jewish organizations and neoconservative pundits has been, so far, one of avoidance of unpleasant facts coupled with unpleasant insinuations about the loyalties of those who insist on taking them seriously. But denial can work in only the short term, and only with an American Jewish population that identifies closely with Israel and relates all threats back to the Holocaust. These conditions, like the generation that sustained them, are not long for this world. Once this aging constituency is gone, the truth will prove unavoidable and it will be too late to deny it any longer.

For another point of view, read Daniel Jonah Goldhagen’s ‘Arabs Should Take Cue From Israel’

Israel is no democracy, and it never has been with regard to the 4 million Arabs in the West Bank and Gaza. It has always been a decidedly imperfect democracy concerning its own Arab citizens.

Lately, however, it has become less and less democratic with regard to the rights of its Jewish population. For reasons of demography, the Israeli body politic is increasingly dominated by Haredi Jews on the one hand, and secular nationalists, many of whose families emigrated from Russia, on the other. Neither group demonstrates any intrinsic interest in liberal political niceties like free speech, minority political rights or civil liberties.


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The trend was already evident when the government passed a bill that makes any initiator of a boycott, whether consumer, academic or cultural, liable to be sued in civil court for damages by anyone who feels impacted by the boycott. A boycott is a fundamental right of free speech. Personally, I make it a point to boycott any Jewish philanthropy that contributes to the continued occupation of the West Bank. I do this for what I understand to be Israel’s well-being more than for that of the Palestinians, but if I were to say so aloud in Israel, I could be sued.

American organizations objected to the bill, but Israeli politicians, led by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, did not care. Now we see it was just a precursor to a whole host of anti-democratic legislation and regulation.

Among the bills that either have already become law or may be about to are:

A law, proposed by Likud party Knesset member Ofir Akunisthat would prevent political nongovernmental organizations from accepting more than NIS 20,000 from foreign governments or international organizations.

A law, authored by Yisrael Beiteinu Knesset member Faina Kirshenbaum, that will demand that all organizations not funded by the Israeli government pay a 45% tax on all donations from foreign states.

A law that regards film production and asks that cast and crew swear loyalty to Israel as a Jewish state.

A law that increases the fine for slander, NIS 50,000, to NIS 300,000.

Some of these proposed laws may not come to pass, but the intent of all of them is the same, and this is, sadly, the definite direction of Israeli politics. Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman attacked those groups that seek to uphold civil liberties in Israel, for Jews as well as for Arabs, as “collaborators in terror.” Netanyahu has recently announced that not only will Israel begin expanding Jewish settlements in Jerusalem, but it will also confiscate Palestinian land for the purpose of retroactively legalizing illegal settlements, in direct contravention of the promises of both of Netanyahu’s previous predecessors, Ariel Sharon and Ehud Olmert. The thrust of these actions is consistent with the political forces driving them — for instance, the dozens of municipal rabbis who not long ago issued an edict against renting or selling real estate to non-Jews (meaning Arabs), and the group of rabbis’ wives who wrote a collective letter suggesting that Jewish women avoid all contact with Arab men.

It’s true that Israel is home to many liberal Jews who would prefer to live in a secular democracy governed by the civil laws based on the precepts of the Enlightenment. But they are clearly a minority and getting smaller with the birth of every Haredi’s sixth or seventh child. What’s more, the American Jewish community does not intervene politically on behalf of, nor identify psychologically, culturally and religiously with, the Israeli minority.

So better to face the facts today, when the situation remains at least partially in flux. Kiddushin 39b in the Babylonian Talmud tells us, ”And wherever the potential for harm is ever present we do not rely on miracles.” Yet those who refuse to recognize the coming conflict between Israeli theocracy and Diaspora democracy are doing just that.

Eric Alterman is a CUNY Distinguished Professor of English and Journalism at Brooklyn College and also writes a column for The Nation.


2 Washington Post

Monday, December 19, 2011

Israel frees hundreds in second phase of prisoner swap

By Joel Greenberg,

JERUSALEM — Israel completed a prisoner exchange with the militant Hamas movement Sunday night, freeing 550 more Palestinian prisoners in the second stage of a deal that brought home Sgt. 1st Class Gilad Shalit, an Israeli soldier held captive in Gaza for more than five years.

Flashing V-signs and raising their arms in celebration, the freed prisoners were given heroes’ welcomes in separate ceremonies in the Hamas-ruled Gaza Strip and in the West Bank, where the rival Fatah movement is dominant.

Shalit, who was captured in June 2006 in a cross-border raid by militants from Hamas and two allied groups, returned home in October in the first phase of the lopsided exchange, in which Israel freed a total of 1,027 prisoners.

The hundreds of Palestinians freed in October included many Hamas members, among them those serving life sentences for involvement in suicide bombings that killed scores of Israelis, but most of those released Sunday were serving light sentences or nearing the end of their terms, and none were from Hamas or Islamic Jihad.

More than 500 were released to the West Bank and only 41 to the Gaza Strip, in an apparent gesture to Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas and his Fatah movement, who were largely sidelined in the first phase of the prisoner swap. Under the terms of the deal, Israel chose the prisoners who were freed Sunday.

Two prisoners were released to East Jerusalem, and two were sent to Jordan.

In a short ceremony in Gaza, Ahmad Bahar, a senior Hamas leader, paid tribute to the “resistance” and to the armed wing of the militant movement, which he said had “forced the Zionist occupation to submit to its conditions.”

“We say to the Zionist entity: “You must free the rest of the prisoners,” Bahar said. “If you do not, you will be forced to release them.”

In the West Bank, the freed prisoners, who arrived on buses escorted by Red Cross vehicles, said a prayer at the tomb of Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat before emerging to a cheering crowd at the presidential compound.

They were greeted by Palestinian officials, including Aziz Dweik, a Hamas leader in the West Bank who is the speaker of the Palestinian parliament.

At the Bitunia checkpoint near Ramallah, where the prisoners were handed over by the Israelis, clashes erupted between stone-throwing Palestinian youths and Israeli soldiers, who fired tear gas and rubber-coated bullets. More than a dozen Palestinians and a soldier were reported hurt.

Also Sunday, the Israeli government moved ahead with its plan to accelerate building in West Bank settlements and East Jerusalem, announcing that it would invite bids to construct more than 1,000 homes there. The new housing will be in the settlements of Beitar Ilit and Givat Zeev, and in Har Homa, a Jewish neighborhood of Jerusalem built on West Bank land annexed to the city.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu announced the stepped-up construction last month after the Palestinians were accepted as a member state in UNESCO.


3 Al Jazeera

Monday, 19 Dec 2011


Kristin Szremski is the director of media and communications for the American Muslims for Palestine.

Newt Gingrich puts Israel interests first

Gingrich will abandon US values and safety for a chance at the White House.

Kristin Szremski


Gingrich re-invented history when he said the Palestinians are an “invented” people  [GALLO/GETTY]


Chicago, Illinois – Newt Gingrich, the former Speaker of the House who faded into obscurity after resigning in 1998 amid a sex scandal, is back and seemingly ready to say anything to become the next president of the United States – even if it means making sycophantic statements that pander to the pro-Israel lobby but that oppose US policy and the best interests of the American people.


Gingrich apparently revised history when he told Jewish reporter Steven Weiss recently that the Palestinians are an “invented” people. He willfully obfuscated the fact that Palestinians’ roots in the Holy Land go back thousands of years. He ignored that Palestinians and Palestine are mentioned in the Torah and the Bible; that they are referred to in many historical documents, including the 1917 Balfour Declaration, which gave British support for “the establishment in Palestine of a national home for the Jewish people”.


The potential GOP frontrunner is far from alone in his pandering to the pro-Israel lobby. Mitt Romney, running a close second to Gingrich, Rick Perry and Michelle Bachman, also have made concerted efforts to undermine President Barack Obama’s Middle East policy while emphasising their own loyalty to Israel in attempts to gain the votes of Tea Partiers and Christian evangelicals, who are strongly pro-Israel. During the GOP debate in Des Moines, it appeared as if it were an open season on Palestinians.


That Gingrich would intentionally contradict stated and long-standing US policy, which recognises the Palestinian people and their right for a state of their own, for his own self-interest is extremely troubling. But even more problematic is the fact that Gingrich told Weiss he would consider granting clemency to one of the most notorious spies ever to infiltrate our national security agencies: Johathon Pollard.


Pollard’s release


Pollard was sentenced to life in prison in 1986 after he confessed to spying for the state of Israel. Pollard, who was a civilian research analyst with high security clearance for the US Navy, had agreed to spy for Israel for 10 years in exchange for more than $500,000.


According to a January 1999 article in the New Yorker by Seymour Hersh, Pollard “betrayed elements of four major American intelligence systems”. He caused extensive damage to US intelligence and US national security because of the nature of the highly sensitive documents he sold to Israel. According to Hersh, Pollard gave up data dealing with specific American intelligence systems and how they worked, a “most sensitive area of intelligence”. The espionage was so great that successive presidents have rejected Israel’s pleas for Pollard’s release.


Gingrich told Weiss he’d consider granting clemency if Pollard were no longer a security threat and also had served time within the range of people with “similar problems”. To be sure, seasoned politicians often have to compromise goals – sometimes even ideals – to achieve their own. But when a potential presidential candidate so easily panders to the interests of a foreign country and its lobby here, in the United States, over the interests of his fellow countrymen, he is clearly not fit to hold public office.


And that is only one of the ways in which Gingrich is forwarding a Zionist agenda at the expense of Americans, which is readily seen in his “Class of Civilisations” narrative that became prominent in 2010 during the controversy surrounding the Park 51 mosque project. During the controversy, the country’s favourable attitude towards Muslims fell 10 points (from 40 per cent to 30 per cent), according to a study co-authored by the Centre for Race and Gender at the University of California, Berkeley, and the Council on American Islamic Relations.


Islamophobic rhetoric

That same report says Gingrich was one of those at the forefront of fuelling mistrust and hatred of Muslims. In other words, a former Speaker of the House was working against American unity by bringing divisive Islamophobic rhetoric into mainstream discourse.


“He’s inflamed tensions in the Middle East where the neutrality and integrity of the United States already is viewed with suspicion and  hostility.”

The Constitution founded the United States as a pluralistic society; the First Amendment grants the free expression of religion. Yet Gingrich behaves as if allowing Muslims that right would lead to the loss of American values and liberty.


Other credible reports – “The Great Isamophobic Crusade”, by Max Blumenthal and “The Roots of the Islamophobic Network in America”, by the Centre for American Progress – have exposed the link between Islamophobia and the pro-Israel entities behind it. Millions of dollars are funnelled into organisations bent on helping Israel maintain its occupation of Palestine.


One way they accomplish this is by smearing anyone trying to raise awareness about Israel’s continued violations of international law. Another way is to demonise Islam in the United States by planting outrageous and false innuendos of a “stealth jihad” here. Or they insinuate that there is a connection between American Muslims and overseas groups on the State Department’s list of designated foreign terrorist organisations. These fallacies are then taken up and trumpeted about by unprincipled people like Gingrich.


Gingrich seems to have no qualms allying himself to pro-Israel element and selling the values and safety of the US for his shot in the Oval Office. But based upon published reports, he’s failed to impress the pro-Israel Jewish voters he was  trying to court. Instead, he’s inflamed tensions in the Middle East where the neutrality and integrity of the US already is viewed with suspicion and in some cases hostility, and he’s proven he does not care about the people who, if he were elected president, he’d be sworn to protect.


In trying to “out-Romney” Romney, Gingrich may have passed Israel’s litmus test, but he hopelessly failed to show his loyalty to the US or the American people.


Kristin Szremski is the director of media and communications for the American Muslims for Palestine, a national grassroots organisation.

Follow her on Twitter: @kristin_scribe


4 Ynet ,

Monday, December 19, 2011


 Angela Merkel Photo: EPA

    Germany: Israel must refrain from new settlements

Berlin says Israel’s recent announcement of 1,000 new apartments in West Bank, east Jerusalem conveys ‘devastating message’ regarding peace process,7340,L-4163839,00.html

Associated Press


A spokesman for Chancellor Angela Merkel says Germany is urging Israel to refrain from constructing new settlements in the West Bank and east Jerusalem.

Georg Streiter said Monday Israel’s recent announcement that it would seek contractors to build some 1,000 apartments in both areas conveys “a devastating message with regard to the current efforts to resume peace negotiations between Israelis and Palestinians.”

He says Germany “urgently calls on the Israeli government to refrain from inviting bids for the apartments.”

Extra housing units in Har Homa (Photo: Reuters)

Meanwhile, hundreds of housing units will be marketed beyond the Green Line as part of tenders published by the Construction and Housing Ministry and the Israel Land Administration on Sunday.

Among the housing units, 348 will be built in the hraedi town of Beitar illit, 500 in Har Homa in south Jerusalem and 180 in Givat Ze’ev.

Previous announcements of construction beyond the 1967 lines prompted outrage by the Palestinians, the US, Europe and the UN.

“Some countries won’t be pleased with this (tenders), but they won’t be surprised,” said Housing and Construction Minister Ariel Atias (Shas). “The decision was reached last month after the Palestinians were accepted into UNESCO, and the right thing to do was to alleviate the shortage of housing units designated for young couples in Israel – with an emphasis on the capital, Jerusalem.”

Attila Somfalvi contributed to this report


5.  Haaretz

Monday, December 19, 2011

Jewish Agency to launch virtual network linking Israel, Diaspora schools

New project will enhance existing 200 school twinning programs in an attempt to bolster ties between younger Jewish generation and Israel.

By Revital Blumenfeld

The Jewish Agency for Israel (JAI) is set to launch a international virtual school network later this week, in an attempt to bolster ties between Jewish students around the world and Israel.

At first, the prestigious project will be based out of the 200 existing school twinning pairs of formal and informal schools in Israel with “twin” institutions in the United States, Canada, Australia, Mexico, Western Europe, Russia, and Turkey.

Present school twinning ties operate as independent educational endeavors geared at establishing Jewish identity as part of the Partnership 2gether program, which is funded by the Jewish Agency.

However, the JAI intends to double that amount as soon as next year, and expand the project to other countries and Jewish communities who have yet to be exposed to the twinning initiative, whether over budget issues or technological obstacles, via an extensive network that would be installed for that purpose.

A unified selection of educational programs will be consolidated that will meet the educational standards the JAI will set.

According to the method currently in work, with the twinnings established in the last decade, the programs were adjusted to the Jewish-Israeli cultural milieu, with programs such as Shorashim (“Roots”), in which students and teachers instruct their peers abroad how to design a unified event ahead of seventh graders’ Bar Mitzvah ceremonies.

The programs, which were budgeted by the JAI as well as the several Israeli local councils, were incorporated as an integral part of the school day, with others delivered in the afterschool hours. They were approved by an administrative team formed by overseas community volunteers and their Israeli counterparts, who were occasionally aided by educational officials or private consulting firms, and were mandated to determine the curricula.

However, there is a possibility that some of the programs may be cancelled following the network’s formation, with the incorporation of the JAI’s standards.


Participants in the program, both in Israel and abroad, will determine the curriculum their interested in from the new database, later opening virtual teachers’ lounges in which educational professionals from around the globe can consult with each other and use shared databases.

In addition, a new training center will hold conferences every two years to enhance educational professionals from Israel and Jewish communities abroad, as well as to bolster personal bonds.

According to Andrea Arbel, Director of the Jewish Agency Partnerships Division and the project’s initiator, the intention is not to lay the groundwork for JAI schools to be formed around the world, adding, however, that she would not discount such an idea.

“We’ve noticed that one of the most prominent recent developments are inter-school programs, conceivably out of a desire in the Jewish communities to connect their younger generation to Israel,” Arbel said, adding that the twinning will bring together students and teachers from Israeli schools and kindergartens to “prestigious private Jewish schools” in the United States.

The program will also tie after school programs which include students who cannot always afford to send their children to private schools.

“When those existing 400 schools understand that they’re part of something larger and important, part of a network, it will already support our goal,” Arbel said, calling it a “dream coming true.”

Meanwhile, 350 new immigrants are due to arrive in Israel to light the first Hanukkah candle, in a aerial convoy of 16 flights organized by the JAI in cooperation with the Nefesh B’Nefesh organization.


6  Haaretz

Monday, December 19, 2011

Israeli university wins joint bid for new N.Y. science campus

WATCH: Technion-Israel Institute of Technology will partner with Cornell in applied sciences center that city officials hope will transform the metropolis into a center for entrepreneurship and technology.

By Revital Hovel and The Associated Press

Tags: Israel education

Cornell University and the Technion-Israel Institute of Technology will partner to build an applied sciences campus in New York City that officials hope will transform the metropolis into a center for entrepreneurship and technology innovation to rival California’s Silicon Valley.

In a news conference on Monday, Mayor Michael Bloomberg announced that the schools’ proposal had been selected in the multi-billion-dollar competition, according to a person familiar with the decision who spoke on condition of anonymity because the announcement has not yet been made.

The city is not ruling out the possibility that one of the other proposals will also be approved later on, a New York official added.

The news conference was viewed live in the Technion campus in Haifa, in a crowd that included the recipient of the Nobel Prize in chemistry, Prof Dan Schechtman, who teaches at the Israeli university.

Seven universities and consortiums submitted bids to build a campus in exchange for nearly free city land and up to $100 million in city improvements. California’s Stanford University withdrew its proposal on Friday, saying it had failed to find a way to ensure the success of its proposed campus in its talks with the city.

Cornell said Friday it had received $350 million from an anonymous donor for its plan — the largest gift in the university’s history. In a statement, Cornell President David Skorton said the project would “fuel the city’s growing tech sector.”

Cornell and Technion have promised city officials the program will be up and running before the end of 2012, in existing city space.

TheTechnion is home to three Israeli Nobel laureates chemistry: In 2004 professors Avraham Hershko and Aharon Ciechanover won the prize with their American colleague, Irwin Rose, 78, for discovering a central method in which cells destroy unwanted proteins, joined in 2011 by Dan Schechtman who was awarded the prize for his discovery of patterns in atoms called quasicrystals, a chemical structure that researchers previously thought was impossible.


[Philip Weiss cites a friend’s comments on the deal:


“Why is US (NYC) courting Israel, a pariah-state, to develop a high-tech state-of-the-art grad school in NYC? The main issue I have is what it implies for the future. Are American students, post-doctoral fellows, and professors going to be working with/for an institution that is fully-partnered with Israel? Given Technion’s position in Israel (discrimination against Israeli Palestinians), it raises some very serious questions regarding NYC’s role in “legitimizing” Technion. Will US-based brains, resources, and hard work to be “automatically” shared with an Israeli institution? For example, an Asian foreign student working hard at such an institution will indirectly be “helping” Israel. There are so many aspects to this proposed collaboration and the questions should be raised NOW (in public) before the final selection is done in January.”

Apart from these qualms, I would also like to know the criteria that selected the Technion for the partnership.  Do they possibly relate to the fact that Israeli universities (the Technion among them) have a notable track record of R&D in military technology?  I wonder. Dorothy]


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