San Diego Jewish World

                                            Tuesday Evening
, June 26, 2007    

                                                                      Vol. 1, Number 57

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British PM era ends for Tony Blair; does he now
step onto the Middle East stage as Quartet envoy?

By Donald H. Harrison

British Prime Minister Tony Blair, on his last full day in office, encouraged worldwide speculation that he will accept a position as a special envoy for the Middle East Quartet comprised of the United States, the United Nations, the European Union and Russia. 
However, he did not confirm that he will accept the position, and no amount of media badgering of spokesperson for people in the know around the world could produce the sought-for confirmation. 

If, in fact, Blair's new position is confirmed, it will come after he turns over the office of Britain's prime minister to Gordon Brown.

6/26/07 SDJW Report
(click on headline below to jump to the story)

International and National

Tony Blair— British PM era ends for Tony Blair; does he now step onto the Middle East stage as Quartet envoy?

Statue of LibertyHouse votes to reopen Statue of Liberty to tours

Divestment campaign
Iran divestment campaigns praised by Olmert

Ban Ki-moon wants journalists to become forces for Mideast peace

EJCEuropean Jewish Congress elects Kantor president

World Council of Churches
ADL denounces World Council of Churches campaign against Israel as 'moral outrage'

Gaza AidIDF and UNWRA cooperate on Gaza relief effort

Gaza Killers
House unit demands efforts to capture killers of American contractors in Gaza

Sex Slaves—
House committee seeks Japan's apology to WWII sex slaves

Original settlers—ZOA says Abbas admits that the Palestinians were not the original settlers in the Holy Land

Regional and Local
Seacrest Village—Seacrest happenings

Rides & Smiles
JFS seeks 'Rides & Smiles' volunteers

Domestic Abuse
Domestic abuse a pandemic, playgoers learn

Museum of Man
Holy Land archaeology featured at Museum of Man

Arts & Entertainment
Concert—Free jazz and klezmer Wednesday night at Organ Pavilion

Ballet—Are Pointe Shoes Kosher?

Hilda: memoir of creative, eventful, bittersweet life

Jews in Sports

Anderson Travel
JCC Fitness
Jewish American Chamber of Commerce
Seacrest Village Retirement Communities

Blair said at Ten Downing Street in London: "Anybody who cares about peace and stability in the world knows that a lasting and enduring resolution to the Israeli-Palestinian issue is essential.
Tony Blair
European Parliament photo

"As I have said on many occasions I would do whatever I could to help such a resolution come about."

The comment came during a news conference on climate change—a subject about which he conferred with California Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger.

The British Press asked the Prime Minister's Official Spokesman (his name officially is not used) if this meant that there would be an announcement soon from the Quartet.

According to the PMOS' summary of the briefing, he replied that was a question to be put to the quartet.

Another question put to the PMOS asked what the  prime minister thought the Quartet should be doing.  To this, the spokesman was a bit more forthcoming.  According to the summary: "The Prime Minister had often made clear his view of the urgency with which the issues should be addressed, and the basic outlines of an approach he had given many times. Clearly recent events had given that situation added urgency, and no doubt this would be what the Quartet would be considering. It was good that they were meeting. But in terms of what the outcome would be, that was a matter for them."

The scene shifted later in the day to the United States. Perhaps if the British reporters couldn't get absolute confirmation, maybe the Americans could.

At the White House, reporters asked press secretary Tony Snow, "what are the hopes of this White House for the new Middle East Envoy."


Snow promptly parried: "Well, at this point—that's a nice way of getting me to answer a question that I'm not going to answer. We are aware that there have been rumors around and—who did you have in mind?"

The White House press corps laughed.

"I'm just saying broadly," ventured the reporter who had asked the question.

"Well, when there are announcements to be made we will respond with our hopes and our analysis....Oh that was good, though."

Quoting a spokesman at Ten Downing, a reporter asked if the United States was attempting to pressure Russia into accepting Blair as the Quartet representative.

"Again," said Snow, "we have nothing to say.  Tony Blair is Prime Minister, he's got a pretty active job right now. If there are other announcements, we will certainly be happy to respond to them when they have been made and when the time is proper."

At the U.S. State Department, reporters also were digging.

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House votes to reopen Statue of Liberty to tours

WASHINGTON, DC (Press Release)—The U.S. House of Representatives unanimously passed legislation authored by Rep. Anthony Weiner (Democrat, New York) to reopen the Statue of Liberty in her entirety for the first time since 9/11. Lady Liberty is the only national park that remains closed since the attacks.  

While the Statue’s base, pedestal, and observation deck were reopened in August 2004, her crown – and the observation deck it houses – remain closed.  Lady Liberty’s crown is the only site overseen by the National Park Service that has yet to re-open since 9/11.  The National Park Service overseas such sites as the Washington Monument in Washington, D.C. and Mount Rushmore in South Dakota.

he Interior Department’s failure to reopen Lady Liberty has had a profound impact on New York City’s economy.   Since her crown was closed to the public, the Statue has seen a 40.8% drop in visitors.  This loss of 2.24 million tourists has cost New Yorkers millions in lost economic benefits. 

“The House of Representatives has spoken, and the National Park Service should promptly restore the Statue of Liberty to her full glory,” said Weiner.

  The preceding story was provided by the office of Congressman Anthony Weiner

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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

Iran divestment campaigns praised by Olmert

JERUSALEM (Press Release)--Prime Minister Ehud Olmert this morning met with Texas Governor Rick Perry  who is leading a delegation of Texas public officials and business people on a visit to Israel.

Gov. Perry updated Prime Minister Olmert on Texas's intention to enact special legislation to prevent any investments in Iran.  Texas has the 10th largest economy in the world and such a decision will influence the continuation of Iran's attempts to arm itself with nuclear weapons.
Olmert, Perry

The Prime Minister thanked the Governor for Texas's brave economic steps and added that economic sanctions will certainly influence the Iranian economy.  The Prime Minister also expressed the hope that continued and stepped-up sanctions would lead to a change in the Iranian position: "Sanctions are creating a momentum inside Iran that can affect the Iranian economy and Iranian policy."  He also emphasized the free world's moral obligation to isolate Iranian President Ahmadinejad, who is openly calling for the elimination of another sovereign state."Unfortunately, instead of preventing him from visiting world capitals, he is being received by heads of state."

Prime Minister Olmert briefed his guests on his meeting yesterday at Sharm el-Sheikh with Palestinian Authority President Abu Mazen and on the chance for making progress with PA moderates, despite the harsh and brutal events that have taken place in the Gaza Strip.The Prime Minister expressed the hope that the creation of a better atmosphere in Judea and Samaria and the significant improvement in daily life there would strengthen the moderates and lead to an effective diplomatic process.

The two men also discussed the development of bilateral commercial cooperation especially in the biotechnology field given Texas's large biotech sector.  It was also decided to increase cooperation in research and development.


Perry and his wife, Anita, left Texas on Friday on a seven-day trip to Israel and Jordan. In Israel, Gov. Perry will receive the “Friend of Zion Award” from the Global Leadership Council for his leadership in homeland defense, border security and economic development. The award, which is given to “leaders who have played key roles in promoting the close alliance between America and the Jewish state,” will be presented during a ceremony in Jerusalem at the historic Western Wall Square.

Past recipients of this distinguished award include former Secretary of Health and Human Services Tommy Thompson, Senator Evan Bayh, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, former Pennsylvania Governor Tom Ridge, former House Speaker Newt Gingrich, Senator John Kerry, and former Ambassador Jeane J. Kirkpatrick.

Besides with Olmert, Perry had meetings scheduled with former Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu and former Prime Minister and newly elected President Shimon Peres. In addition, he will meet with the Israeli Chief Scientist, Dr. Eli Opper, and several representatives of the aeronautics, defense systems, homeland security and biotechnology industries.

“America has a special relationship with Israel, and in the midst of turmoil and bloodshed, America must remain an unwavering supporter of a strong Jewish state in the Middle East,” said Gov. Perry. “Though the task is extremely difficult, our nation must be a consistent voice for a new era of peace and security between Israel and its Arab neighbors.”

“I believe Texans share a special kinship with the Israeli people,” he added. “We are both independent-minded and self-reliant, and our history is grounded in strong stands against impossible odds.”

The Perrys will visit several historic sites while in Israel, including Mea Shearim, Nachlat Shiva and Ein Karem, the home town of John the Baptist. They will also visit the Red Sea, the Dead Sea and take a tour of Masada. For less than a day they will also cross into Jordan and visit the City of Petra.

The expenses of the trip will be paid by Global Capital Associates, which is hosting the gala awards ceremony where Perry will be recognized.

The preceding story combined information provided by the offices of Prime Minister Olmert and Governor Perry.

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Ban Ki-moon wants journalists to be forces for Mideast peace

TOKYO (Press Release)—Warning that recent violence has set back the Middle East peace process, Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon today urged media professionals and civil society representatives attending a United Nations-organized seminar in Tokyo to “explore creative approaches to spreading the message of peace and coexistence in these troubled times.”

“You meet at a very critical time,” Mr. Ban said in a message delivered by Under-Secretary-General for Communications and Public Information Kiyo Akasaka to the International Media Seminar on Peace in the Middle East.

“After years of occupation, violence and mistrust, Israeli and Palestinian societies stand further apart than ever before,” the Secretary-General lamented, adding “alarming rifts have also surfaced in internal Palestinian politics, as armed clashes between rival factions spread death and destruction across the Gaza Strip.”

The current outbreak of violence, while a cause for great dismay, should not lead to despair, Mr. Ban told some 100 participants attending the two-day event, organized by the UN in cooperation with Japan’s Foreign Ministry and the Tokyo-based UN University. Instead, it should serve to focus attention on finding a just and lasting peace in the Middle East.

“We must take heart from the numerous opinion polls of recent years that point to consistently strong grassroots support in both Israel and the occupied Palestinian territories for peaceful coexistence within the framework of a two-State solution.”

In his keynote address to the meeting, Michael Williams, UN Special Coordinator for the Middle East Peace Process, urged participants not to despair amid the current state of affairs. “We must instead look at what can be done to change current dynamics and channel energies in a more positive direction.”

To that end, the UN was working overtime to help address the serious humanitarian concerns emanating from the closure of the Gaza Strip, Mr. Williams added, in a message read out by UN University Rector Hans Van Ginkel. Reopening the crossings into Gaza required cooperation of all parties, and in that effort, the humanitarian imperative must be paramount, he stressed.

The annual seminar focuses on ways to re-engage Israelis and Palestinians in the search for a comprehensive and lasting political settlement. Participating in this year’s gathering are two members of the Knesset, Ronit Tirosh and Avishai Braverman, the Mayors of Ashdod and Hadera and a former Mayor of Ashkelon.

Palestinian participants include a former Minister of Culture, Almutawakel Nazzal, Permanent Observer of Palestine to the United Nations, Riyad Mansour, and the Mayor of Ramallah.

The preceding story was provided by the United Nations

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European Jewish Congress elects Kantor president

BRUSSELS (Press Release)—Moshe Kantor was elected president of the European Jewish Congress by the EJC General Assembly today with 55 votes against 30 votes for Pierre Besnainou, EJC’s first elected president. Eighty-seven delegates from 40 Jewish communities from throughout participated in the vote. There were two abstentions.

Moshe Kantor, the Chairman of the European Jewish Fund and president of the Russian Jewish Congress, told the assembly he was a “true believer in European Jewry” and evaluated that European Jews were strong enough to address the many challenges they are facing : anti-Semitism, assimilation and dangers Israel is
facing : the Iranian nuclear threat and terror. “I will never compromise with the security of Jews in Europe and with the security of Israel.” Declared Moshe Kantor.

World Jewish Congress (WJC) newly elected president Ronald S. Lauder attended the general assembly with Matthew Bronfman, Chairman of the WJC Governing Board, and stressed the importance of the EJC.

“It is essential that the Jewish people remain united in a period where anti-Semitism is on the rise, a period where Israel is under siege by Hamas and Hizbollah, a period where the Gaza Strip is controlled by Hamas which is encouraged by Iran,” said Lauder.

Lauder stressed the importance of education and the need to strengthen inter-religious meetings. The WJC President revealed that he has received a letter from Moroccan King Abdullah calling for strengthened ties between Muslims and Jews.

The preceding story was provided by the European Jewish Congress   

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ADL denounces World Council of Churches

campaign against Israel as 'moral outrage'

NEW YORK (Press Release) —The Anti-Defamation League (ADL) today called the decision by the World Council of Churches (WCC) to launch a global initiative against Israel, "a biased action and a moral outrage," saying the Church group "has abandoned the course of objective, credible advocacy." The WCC announced the decision at its International Peace Conference held in Amman, Jordan on June 21.

In a letter to Rev. Samuel Kobia, WCC Secretary-General, Abraham H. Foxman, ADL National Director, wrote, "It is particularly shameful that the WCC chose to call on churches to 'launch a worldwide rally for an end to Israel's "occupation"' at a time when Israeli civilians are the target of unprovoked rocket attacks from Hamas, which supports the eradication of the State of Israel, and ongoing threats from Hezbollah, a terrorist group supported by Iran."

The one-sided initiative is the latest in a series of anti-Israel WCC activities.  Last year, the WCC issued a shocking statement that blamed Israel alone for the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, and pursued divestment against Israel.

Mr. Foxman pointed out that, "the WCC initiative ignores the fact that Israel has time and again made every effort to resolve the conflict and negotiate in good faith with the Palestinians… The history is tragic not because of Israel's victory in 1967, but because of Palestinian unwillingness to make critical decisions for peace and compromise."

The ADL leader went on to say, "It is particularly unfortunate that a religious organization which says it is committed to a resolution to this conflict has abandoned the course of objective, credible advocacy for the protection of all parties, which is so essential to a constructive and lasting path to peace."

 The preceding story was provided by the Anti-Defamation League

IDF and UNWRA cooperate on Gaza relief effort

NAHAL OZ, Israel (Press Release) —Colonel Nir Press, the commander of the IDF Coordination and Liaison unit in Gaza, met Monday, June 24, with Mr. John Ging, head of UNWRA in the Gaza Strip. 

"This meeting is very important, as it is part of the coordination procedures with the international organizations that bring in goods and basic foodstuffs into the Gaza Strip," said Colonel Press, during the meeting.  "We must come up with solutions, together, for improving the provision of these goods.  At this point in time there is enough foodstuffs brought into the Gaza Strip, however, we must design plans to ensure there will not be a lack in the future."

"We came to meet Colonel Press and his team in order to discuss the access issue for our humanitarian assistance which of course has been made more difficult due to recent events in Gaza," added Mr. Ging.  "I am very pleased with the discussions that we had here today.  We enjoy an excellent relationship with Colonel Press and his staff and we are finding solutions to make sure that the humanitarian aid can come into Gaza.  Today's meeting was a constructive meeting and we have found practical solutions to make sure that the humanitarian assistance that is needed for the civilian population in Gaza can get through and I am very grateful for that."

The preceding story was provided by the Israel Defense Force.

House unit demands efforts to capture
killers of American contractors in Gaza

WASHINGTON, DC (Press Release)—Legislation sponsored by U.S. Rep. Gary Ackerman (Democrat, New York) that requires the State Department to step up efforts to apprehend the Palestinian terrorists who killed three American contractors in Gaza was today passed by the House Foreign Affairs Committee. The measure is now expected to be approved by the full House of Representatives next month. 

The legislation requires a highly detailed report from the State Department every six months on the precise nature of Palestinian efforts to bring to justice, the killers of the three American security contractors. The report requires specifics on the number of Palestinian man hours devoted to the case, the number of arrests and interrogations and the extent to which the Palestinian Authority’s leadership is personally involved in resolving the matter.

“This bill is the least we can do to make sure that these men did not die in vain and to make clear that American diplomats and embassy personnel are not marked as fair game for terrorists” said Ackerman, Chairman of the Foreign Affairs Subcommittee on the Middle East and South Asia. “Secretary of State Rice has said that Palestinian President Abbas assured her that the killers of our citizens would be brought to justice. However, this was more than two years ago. Until this happens, the State Department needs to provide Congress with regular reports on what the Palestinian Authority is doing to fulfill that pledge.”

The three murdered Americans—John Branchizio, Mark Parson and John Marin Linde–were killed in October 2003 while they were providing security to U.S. diplomatic personnel who were visiting Gaza to identify potential Palestinian candidates for Fulbright Scholarships. 

The preceding story was provided by the office of Congressman Gary Ackerman


House committee seeks Japan's apology to WWII sex slaves

WASHINGTON, D.C. (Press Release)—Congressman Tom Lantos (Democrat, California) chairman of the House Committee on Foreign Affairs, today applauded the overwhelming committee passage of legislation calling on the government of Japan to "formally acknowledge, apologize and accept historical responsibility in a clear and unequivocal manner" for the suffering of “comfort women” during World War II. 

Lantos and his colleagues approved the measure, H. Res. 121, by a vote of 39-2.   Its author, Japanese-American Congressman Mike Honda (Democrat, California), attended the discussion and observed the final vote. 

“This resolution seeks admission of a horrible truth in order that this horror may never be perpetrated again,” Lantos (a Holocaust survivor) said as he introduced the resolution.  “But most importantly, it speaks out for the victims of this monstrous act, who were terrorized and brutalized by men at war.  It gives voice to these courageous women whom others have tried to silence through shame, bigotry, and threats of further violence. It is appropriate that this House stand up for these women, who ask only that the truth be honored.”

The resolution has more than 140 Congressional co-sponsors and can now be considered for a vote in the full House of Representatives.

“Japan has actively promoted historical amnesia,” Lantos said. “The facts are plain: there can be no denying that the Japanese Imperial military coerced thousands upon thousands of women, primarily Chinese and Koreans, into sexual slavery during the war. As such, the continued efforts by some in Japan to distort history and play a game of blame-the-victim are highly disturbing.”

Lantos stressed the importance of America’s relationship with Japan while offering his strong support for the resolution.

“Japan is clearly our greatest friend in Asia and one of our closest partners in the world,” Lantos said. “The U.S-Japan relationship is the bedrock of peace and stability in the Asia-Pacific region.  Japan’s refusal to make an official government apology to the women who suffered as so-called ‘comfort women’ is disturbing to all who value this relationship.”  

“The true strength of a nation is tested when it is forced to confront the darkest chapters in its history, Lantos added.  “Will it have the courage to face up to the truth of its past, or will it hide from those truths in the desperate and foolish hope they will fade with time?”

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ZOA says Abbas admits that the Palestinians were not the original settlers in the Holy Land

NEW YORK (Press Release)— Palestinian Authority (PA) president Mahmoud Abbas, in a speech denouncing the murder and violence committed by Hamas forces in their take-over of Gaza, stated that Hamas had looted and set on fire a church which was older than the Palestinian Arab presence in the Holy Land, thereby admitting that Palestinian Arabs are not the original inhabitants. In a speech on Wednesday to the PLO Central Council, Abbas stated that Hamas has been "murdering, executing people on the street, throwing fighters from tall buildings, and looting security headquarters, public facilities and Christian houses of worship. [Indeed,] even the churches were not spared. One of the oldest churches in Palestine, which stood long before our arrival [in the region], was looted and set on fire. There are Christians among us, and they are our brothers, and now we discover that [according to Hamas] they are enemies and must leave [ Palestine]?!" ( Middle East Media Research Institute (MEMRI), June 22).


The Jewish connection to the land of Israel goes back to biblical times and two Jewish commonwealths existed during biblical and post-biblical times. The original Christians were a breakaway from Judaism and date from Jesus' time. The Muslim Arabs, in contrast, arrived in the land only centuries later, in the seventh century, occupying Jerusalem in 638. Despite the wealth of historical knowledge existing of Jewish and Christian life in Israel, the PA officially asserts that there is no Jewish connection to Jerusalem, that the Jewish Temple never stood in Jerusalem, that Jesus was a Palestinian, and that Palestinian Arabs are descendants of earlier, Phoenician inhabitants of the land. Yasser Arafat declared once that Palestinian Arabs are descended from a non-existent Canaanite king named Salem, who supposedly preceded the Jewish settlement in the land:


  • "Those of you who lit the intifada fire must now act as defenders of this young state, whose capital is Jerusalem. It is Bir Salem [the fountain of Salem]. Salem was one of the Canaanite Kings, one of our forefathers. This city is the capital of our children and our children's children. If not for this belief and conviction of the Palestinian nation, this people would have been erased from the face of the earth, as were so many other nations" (Arafat in an address in Jericho, August 18, 1994, cited by historian Martin Gilbert, New Republic, November 14, 1994).


At the time of the 2000 negotiations, then-Israeli Foreign Minister Shlomo Ben-Ami recounted that when Israel was offering to concede sovereignty over the Temple Mount to the Palestinian state, the PA was not prepared that the agreement should mention a historical connection between the Jewish people and that place ( Haaretz, July 7, 2004).


ZOA National Chairman of the Board, Dr. Michael Goldblatt said, "Although Abbas undoubtedly did not intend to let slip a statement that the Palestinian Arabs are not the original inhabitants of the land, he did just that in his speech. This is an important admission because it gives the lie to the Palestinian Arab claim that Jews are purely new arrivals whereas Palestinian Arabs are natives from time immemorial. Despite Abbas' admission, it is clear from recent events, like the destruction of churches and attacks on Christian institutions in Gaza in recent days that extremism, violence and chaos lies in store for all non-Muslims residing in a Palestinian Arab state, should one be created in the near future, a goal supported by so many governments, including the Bush Administration." |

This commentary was provided by the Zionist Organization of America
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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.

Sheri L. Bernstein, a San Diego native who now is project director for the Noah's Ark exhibit at the Skirball Cultural Center in Los Angeles, tells columnist Diane Bell in today's San Diego Union-Tribune that the permanent exhibit is whimsical and "makes people of all ages smile."  Here is a link to Bell's column.

A Los Angeles Times editorial is complimentary of Justices Ruth Bader Ginsburg and Stephen Breyer and the other Supreme Court members who voted in dissent on a 5-4 decision that said taxpayers may sue the government for violating the First Amendment if the infringement was by Congress, but not by the executive branch.  The editorial suggested that stood logic on its head. 

*Former Disney chief Michael Eisner's effort to acquire the Topps
trading card company at $9.75 a share was dealt a setback when a judge permitted Topps' rival Upper Deck to offer $10.75 per share.  The story is in today's San Diego Union-Tribune.

Bernhard 'Buddy' Elias, 82, a cousin of Anne Frank, has donated 25,000 documents concerning the Holocaust diarist's life to the Anne Frank House in Amsterdam.  The gift marked the 60th anniversary of the publication of Frank's famous Diary of a Young Girl.  The Associated Press story by Arthur Max is in today's San Diego Union-Tribune.

U.S. Rep. Rahm Emanuel (Democrat, Illinois), chairman of the House Democratic Campaign Caucus, has introduced legislation to cut off funding for the office of Vice President Dick Cheney following the latter's assertion that his office is not part of the Executive Branch and therefore not liable to an executive order requiring documents to be deposited with the National Archives.  A spokesperson for Cheney called Emanuel's legislation "partisan politics."  The Cox News Service story by Julia Malone is in today's San Diego Union-Tribune.

A California Appeals Court has upheld Superior Court Judge Larry Paul Fidler in his ruling that attorney Sara Caplan must testify, or be jailed for contempt, concerning whether she saw evidence tampering during the investigation into the death of Lana Clarkson that led to record producer Phil Spector being tried for murder. Caplan, who claims attorney-client privilege, plans another appeal to the state Supreme court.  The Copley News Service story by Dan Laidman is in today's San Diego Union-Tribune.

In a 5-4 ruling, the U.S. Supreme Court struck down a provision of the Campaign Reform Act authored by Senators John McCain (Republican, Arizona) and Russell Feingold (Democrat, Wisconsin) that prohibited groups from mentioning the name of a federal candidate in broadcast commercials 30 days before a primary or 60 days before a general election.  The courts two Jewish justices, Ruth Bader Ginsburg and Stephen Breyer, were among the dissenters.  The Washington Post story by Robert Barnes is in today's San Diego Union-Tribune.

San Diego City Attorney Mike Aguirre says the city has the right to tear down the top two floors of the Sunroad Enterprises building owned by Aaron Feldman immediately, if Mayor Jerry Sanders so chooses.  The story by Jerf McDonald and David Hasemyer is in today's San Diego Union-Tribune. An editorial cartoon on the subject by Steve Breen also ran in that newspaper.

U.S. President George W. Bush was within the law when he appointed millionaire Sam Fox as ambassador to Belgium during a Senate recess that came after Fox's nomination was withdrawn in a controversy over his participation in the anti-John Kerry group, Swift Boat Veterans for Truth. Government Accounting Office investigators have concluded. The Associated Press story by Sam Hananel is in today's San Diego Union-Tribune.

San Diego Sheriff Bill Kolender said that in the wake of three officer-involved fatal shootings in the Vista area, his department will accept outright 26 of 35 recommendations made by an outside investigating team from the Los Angeles County Sheriffs office, and will partially implement  seven others.  He said only two recommendations will not be followed.  The story by

*Diego Rotman and Lea Mauas hope solid matter can imitate art.  They have made a drawing of the wall separating Israel and the Palestine Authority on old fax paper that fades over time.  They hope the wall will too.  Their art, on display at the Israeli Center for
Digital Art in Holon, Israel, is included in a feature by Tracy Wilkinson that appears in today's Los Angeles Times.

Captured Israeli soldier Gilad Shalit says on a tape that his health is deteriorating in Hamas captivity.  Released on the anniversary of his abduction, the tape was seen by some as an effort by Hamas to upstage the Sharm el Sheikh summit on Monday that brought together Israel's Prime Minister Ehud Olmert, with Palestine Authority's President Mahmoud Abbas, Egypt's President Hosni Mubarek and Jordan's King Abdullah II.  The story utilizing various wire services was in today's San Diego Union-Tribune.

*Former Alabama Gov. Don Siegelman is fighting a recommendation of a 30-year prison sentence on conviction on a number of bribery and obsruction of justice charges he says were engineered by White House political advisor Karl Rove and the Justice Department.  Siegelman is himself Catholic, but his wife Lori Siegelman and children are both Jewish. The story by Tom Hamburger and David G. Savage is in today's Los Angeles Times.

Critics who believe he is too pro-development circulated recall petitions against Los Angeles City Councilman Jack Weiss, according to one story in the Los Angeles Times.  Another story by Richard Winton suggests Weiss is wooing Hollywood Hills residents by arranging for the city to post no-parking signs around the home of Paris Hilton, and to thereby discourage photographers from stalking the neighborhood.  

Newly designated World Bank President Robert Zoellick went on a two-week tour of Africa, Europe and Latin America to get ready for his new position.  The Associated Press story by Jeannine Aversa is in today's San Diego Union-Tribune.

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   Islam: Religion of peace?
News Sleuths
Watching the media gathering and
reporting the news of Jewish interest

Date: June 26, 2007
Time: 12:40 p.m.
Place: White House Press Briefing Center
Briefing officer:
Press Secretary Tony Snow
Source: White House

Q The President goes to the Islamic Center tomorrow. Does he still believe that Islam is a religion of peace, and does he regret using the term last year "Islamic fascists"?

MR. SNOW: He believes Islam is a religion of peace. He also believes that it has been hijacked, in some cases, by people who use Islam as a shield for murdering people, who use it as a way of spreading terrorism rather than tolerance. And he will be making those points tomorrow.

Q What about the term "Islamic fascists"?

MR. SNOW: Again, I think -- look, there are some people out there who want to expose people in the name of Islam to a totalitarian way of life. And the President does not think that that is -- what is important to realize is that the President does not believe that is consistent with Islam.

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The Jewish Grapevine                                                  

DEAD SEA SCROLLS—A story in today's Los Angeles Times, setting the scene for Friday's opening of the Dead Sea Scrolls exhibition at the San Diego Natural History Museum notes the exhibition has drawn fire from University of Chicago professor Norman Golb for not including in the lecture series representatives of scholars who believe the scrolls had been produced in Jerusalem then hidden in the desert near the Dead Sea.  Curator Risa Levitt Kohn is quoted as saying she doesn't believe it does the public any good to have too many theories, lest they conclude scholars don't know anything.

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Regional and Local

SEACREST HAPPENINGS (Press Release)—At left, Seacrest Village "royal couple", John and Alice  Morawetz at the recent Senior Prom in the independent living community, Goldberg  Residence Court.  Fine dining, good friends and great dance music made the evening fun for everyone!  At right, is the The Katzin Residence, the newest addition to  Seacrest Village Retirement Communities, which offers care for those diagnosed with  Alzheimer's disease or other types of dementia.  Opening July 24, tours are now  being given.  To schedule an appointment, please call the Marketing Department at (760) 632-0081.  
(Photos and caption provided by Seacrest Village Retirement Communities)

JFS seeks 'Rides & Smiles' volunteers

SAN DIEGO (Press Release)—Since March of 2004, Rides & Smiles, an award-winning program of Jewish Family Service of San Diego (JFS), has provided transportation for older adults, regardless of religious affiliation, to necessary medical appointments, grocery shopping, and other life necessities. 

Currently, there are over 80 older adults on the waiting list in need of transportation.  Additional volunteers are urgently needed to support the program’s growth and serve the large amount of older adults waiting to receive transportation assistance.  Volunteer drivers decide their own availability and choose the rides they wish to provide.  JFS provides mileage reimbursement and secondary auto insurance for all volunteer drivers. 

Rides & Smiles is the largest volunteer-based transportation service in San Diego County—providing nearly 350 rides per month to a over 300 riders by over 100 volunteer drivers.  The program was the recipient of the Palomar Pomerado Health 2005 Unity Award as well as the Rancho Bernardo Sunrise Rotary Club’s Centennial Project.   

To find out more about the program and volunteer opportunities, you are invited to visit the Rides & Smiles office for its Open House on Wednesday, August 29, from 9:00-10:30am with bagels and refreshments served.  The Open House is to honor the program’s new location at the Poway Senior Center at 13094 Civic Center Dr., Poway, 92064, which was graciously offered to the Rides & Smiles program by the Poway Senior Center and the City of Poway. 

The move provides the Rides & Smiles program increased visibility in the North County area and allows opportunities for additional community partnerships.  The program depends heavily on community support for volunteers, funding, and venues for volunteer appreciation ceremonies and community events. 

For further information about the Open House or volunteer opportunities contact Marilyn Greenblatt, Rides & Smiles Program Coordinator, at (858) 391-0033 or visit

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 Domestic abuse a pandemic, playgoers learn

By Joel A. Moskowitz, M D

SAN DIEGO—Naomi Ackerman has repeated these facts, perhaps 900 times, to audiences all over the world.  Wife-beating is a pandemic. 

There are many myths such as that wife beaters are more frequent in poor families are simply wrong.  No level of society, wealthy/impoverished; No ethnicity; No religious group; No educational level – is immune. 

Unbelievable statistics reveal that approximately one out of three women in the United States has been beaten by their spouse.  The reverse: men as victims, is also true.  But it is far less common.  Eight hundred and fifty thousand men and as high as four million women, each year, suffer these indignities.

This maladaptive interaction is insidious in its appearance:  “It was only a slap.  He was under stress.  He didn’t mean it,” metastasizes into punishing ridicule, deprecation and injury.   Such kinds of torture not infrequently ends in suicide or death.  The toll on the children, if there are any, is subtle but indelible. 

Ackerman, a mother of three daughters, appeared on stage Monday evening, June 25, at the 14th Annual Lipinsky Family Jewish Arts Festival at the Lyceum Theater  to graphically send a message and also to garner help for Project  SARAH— Stop Abusive Relationships at Home. This program in San Diego  is coordinated by Lauren Gross, LCSW under the aegis of Jewish Family Service. 

Aversion to shame (shanda) delays Jewish women from seeking help as long as  five to seven years beyond the customary time frame for non-Jews who are abused.   Despite the alarming incidence of this destructive family pattern, Gross states that her program  provides help to only 100 women and their families per year. 

The play is a one-person dramatization delivered with feeling and sincerity.  Ackerman is an accomplished actor who likes to remark that she once was a clown and a stilt walker. The title of her play, Flowers Aren’t Enough, symbolizes the empty apology offered in the play by the abuser after beating Michal, an Israeli woman who is a synthesis of many stories.

Compounding the husband’s insensitivity is that he hopes to be forgiven by giving flowers to his wife…who, on her own, started a flower shop (despite his scoffing reaction).  Clearly a man with limited or no insight.   Naomi incorporates the common elements found in abusive relationships:  a spouse who yells or swears at you; puts you down; diminishes your worth; attempts to control your actions – censors whom you may see or what you may do; is critical of your clothing, your behavior, your comments; is physically destructive to you, your belongings, your pets; and then excuses his actions rationalizing that “you made him do it.”   

In her monologue, we observe the gradual deterioration in the woman’s self worth and self confidence accompanied by a reciprocal increase in self doubt and insecurity.  Judgment is impaired. Believing herself unable to ‘tell’ anyone (To the external world, her husband may appear charming, successful but this is a mask for his Jekyll and Hyde behavior).   Healthy choices are suppressed by embarrassment.  Family and societal pressure increases her isolation. Mistakenly, she feels the burden of keeping the peace is her obligation. Should she not be grateful for the ‘good catch’?  Insecurity swells.  Alternatives are invisible.  Denial is the dysfunctional mental mechanism which the victim employs to avoid reality. 

In the dramatization, Naomi admits that her mother (and father) cautioned her about marrying her admittedly promising husband (a law student).  We don’t know what raised their index of suspicion.  Among the several informative pamphlets provided to those who came to see Flowers Are Not Enough  was a description of “What to Look for In a Partner.”   

Desirable characteristics include a person who is open, trusting, encouraging, is able to admit fallibility, doesn’t need to resort to violence and is a true partner, sharing decision making, willing to listen and express his/her feelings, tolerates disagreement without feeling personally insulted.  

Shalom Bayit is what all of us are entitled to.   Peace in the house.  Naomi Ackerman deftly shows her audience when this epitome goes awry.  The questions post performance indicated that the audience was stimulated to learn more and become part of the remedy. Domestic violence is a crime against all of us and needs be a secret no more.  There is help.

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Holy Land archaeology featured at Museum of Man

SAN DIEGO (Press Release) - The San Diego Museum of Man has opened its Journey to the Copper Age: Archaeology in the Holy Land exhibit, which brings artifacts, many of which have never been seen outside of Israel, to San Diego. The exhibition will continue through next January.

The exhibit features 6,000-year-old objects from the Israel Museum and stunning photography by Kenneth Garrett, one of the National Geographic Society’s most prominent photographers.

The Museum of Man designed the Journey to the Copper Age exhibit to coincide with the neighboring Natural History Museum’s Dead Sea Scroll which opens on Friday. The goal is to showcase two things going on in Balboa Park around similar topics that would enrich the visitor’s experience and inform about human history.

Journey to the Copper Age transforms the Museum of Man with 60 of Garrett’s full-color images of Israel, ranging from stunning landscape through remote archeological sites to images of such beautiful objects as the double ibex copper mace head.

The exhibit is based on a National Geographic expedition led by Dr. Thomas Levy, archaeologist with the University of California, San Diego, who assembled a group of international scientists from Jordan, Israel, Europe and the United States, to follow an ancient trade route across the deserts to the ore site in Jordan and the smelting site in Israel. 

Visitors to the exhibit will have the opportunity to view artifacts that capture the first documented human settlement and the beginnings of social complexity of social organization. Journey to the Copper Age captures the first dramatic increase in human population in the Holy Land (an area today known as Jordan and Israel), which occurred during the Chalcolithic period (ca. 4500 – 3600 B.C.E.), where widespread human settlement emerged in the region. 

Journey to the Copper Age also represents an important new direction for the San Diego Museum of Man exhibitions as the museum’s leadership is collaborating with leading members of the academic community to make the latest scientific and scholarly research accessible to the public.  |

“Thanks to the vision of Dr. Thomas Levy and the support of the Israel Museum and National Geographic Society, we are thrilled to bring this exhibition to life in our museum,” said Mari Lyn Salvador, Ph.D., executive director of the Museum of Man.

Tickets may be purchased online . Adult admission is $14.. Child admission (ages 6-17) is $8.00. Military (with valid ID) and Senior (ages 65+) admission is $10.00. Student admission (with valid ID) is $10.00.

Ticket admission includes Journey to the Copper Age: Archaeology in the Holy Land exhibition as well as general admission to all temporary and permanent exhibits at the San Diego Museum of Man.  Due to the anticipated demand and popularity, ticket holders will be assigned a specific entry time upon arrival at the museum with 10 a.m. tickets holders having entry valid for exhibit entry between the hours of 10 a.m. to 1 p.m.  Ticket holders with a 1 p.m. admission time will have valid entry for the exhibit between the hours of 1p.m. to 4p.m.

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           Arts & Entertainment

Free jazz and klezmer Wednesday night at Organ Pavilion

SAN DIEGO  (Press Release)– The 8thAnnual San Diego Jewish Music Festival, sponsored by the Private Bank of Bank of America and presented by the San Diego Center for Jewish Culture continues with An Evening of  Jazz and Klezmer Music at 6:15 pm tomorrow (Wednesday) evening.  

The free concert is presented in alliance with KSDS Jazz 88 and “Twilight in the Park,” a series of free concerts at the Historic Spreckels Organ Pavilion in Balboa Park.

The evening features San Diego’s Queen of Boogie Woogie, Sue Palmer, and her sextet playing blues, swing, and boogie woogie jazz, followed by Yale Strom and his quintet, Hot Pstromi, playing klezmer music with Elizabeth Schwartz, vocalist.  The sextet and the quintet join forces for a swinging finale jam session as the highlight of the evening.

For more information call the JCC Box Office at (858) 362-1348, or visit the web site.

The preceding story was provided by the Jewish Community Center.

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San Diego Jewish World

may have just the volunteer position for you.

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

Dance~The Jewish  C~o~n~n~e~c~t~i~o~n
                                   by Sheila Orysiek

 Are Pointe Shoes Kosher?

SAN DIEGOBefore considering if ballet pointe (toe) shoes are kosher, let me say one thing they are not – they aren’t made of wood.

People often insist that a ballet dancer is able to stand on her toes because there’s a piece of wood inside the shoe. I’ve looked and looked – for forty years I’ve looked – and never found any wood inside a pointe shoe.  Since my foot fills the entire inside of the shoe where oh where would that piece of wood be?  Wood does not hold the dancer up; it is the dancer’s own strength with some minimal support from the shoe which holds her up.

Assuming I’ve convinced you there is no wood inside the shoe, how are they made and how did they come to be and are they kosher?

The ideals of the Romantic Era (19th century) were reflected in the arts: poetry, literature, music and dance.  At first dancing on pointe was done as a trick, but in the ballet La Sylphide (1832) it became part of the vocabulary of the ballet as an expressive quality rather than as an attention getting trick.  Historians generally agree it was most probably the ballerina Marie Taglioni who made this transition.

In Romantic Era stories women were put on a pedestal and then often destroyed.  They weren’t human – well, if they were human beings in the beginning of the story – they weren’t at the end.  They were village girls who became spectral “wilis” as in Giselle or women who had been turned into swans – Swan Lake.  Or a forest creature in La Sylphide.  The stories had sad endings, the lovers died together or died apart, or one died and the other didn’t.  An evil spirit separated them or there was betrayal.

Women were portrayed as ethereal creatures.  Dancing on the tips of the toes fit this concept of the romantic Era perfectly.  The ballerina seemed to float – ready to ascend – away from the gravity and mud of the earth.  Standing on pointe was so sensational that it eclipsed the male dancer from the stage which he had dominated for centuries.  His role became one of supporting the ballerina on pointe by lending a chivalrous hand – which also fit the Romantic Era concept of gender appropriate roles.  This overshadowing of the male lasted for about the next one hundred years.  Thankfully, today both genders receive equal recognition on the ballet stage and we have an abundance of outstanding male dancers at this time.

So how are the shoes made?  At first dancers stitched the toes of satin ballet slippers – stitching and over stitching – until the ends of the shoes were a bit sturdier which allowed them to stand briefly on their toes.  However, in order to stay on pointe longer meant the shoe had to be strengthened in the “box” – where the toes are as well as the shank – which is the strip that runs under the foot from the toe to the heel.  There was (and still is) a lot of experimentation.

Under the satin exterior are layers of burlap, canvas, glues and pastes, some leather or even fiber glass for the shank, and an inner lining of cotton cloth (the sock).  The shoes are constructed inside out and then turned and finally baked in an oven to dry the glues and pastes.  Each cobbler has his own mark and a professional dancer often has her shoes made by a favored cobbler on a “last” (model) of her foot.  Even so, it is not unusual for a dancer to reject one half of the shoes made for her.

After accepting the shoes the ballerina then works on them herself; sewing on ribbons (and or elastics) – she’s very particular where and how the ribbons are attached and usually trusts no one but her own hands to do this.  She “breaks” in the shanks to exactly the strength/flexibility she wants.  She then works on the box and might hammer it, pour alcohol on it (not the kind you drink), and put into a door jamb and slam the door shut, etc., until it is exactly the consistency she needs.  Other items might include cutting down the sides, putting rosin on the cloth which comes over her heel (to keep it from slipping off), sewing across the wings (sides) of the shoe if she has an extremely high arch.

Some dancers prepare the outside of the platform (the flat part of the toe the dancer stands upon) by embroidering, or flaming with a match, or patching, for traction and/or to keep fraying to a minimum.  The methods and preferences are endless.  Entire books have been written describing how famous dancers prepare their shoes.  This is a consuming task for a ballet dancer.

The ideal is to have shoes strong enough to give support, while flexible enough to allow freedom of movement; to be “broken in” but look new and pristine; to be silent yet hard enough to give support and still soft enough so she can feel the floor for balance.  Dancers and dance companies spend enormous amounts of money on shoes – they cost about $80 per pair and the dance company supplies each dancer with a stipulated number per year.  A single ballerina may use a couple hundred pairs a year for class, rehearsal and performance.

(So, where’s the kosher part?  - It’s coming ….like dessert)

After all that time spent on a pair of shoes they are only expected to last for one ballet.  In a full length ballet like Swan Lake, they might only last for one act.  Shoes are prepared differently for individual ballets – or a single act within a ballet.  Act II of Swan Lake requires a lot of balance, so the ballerina may prefer a softer pointe shoe while in Act III, she does a lot of turning (such as the famous thirty-two fouettés – whipping turns) and so she needs a harder shoe.  Some dancers wear a softer shoe on one foot and a harder shoe on the other foot depending on the choreography.  After she is through with the shoes, she strips everything out and wears them as ballet slippers.

Every pair of pointe shoes is made by hand and no two pairs are exactly alike even when made by the same cobbler.  Pointe shoes and slippers have no rights and lefts.  And no heels. Many dancers switch them from foot to foot to keep the shape neutral for better balance and wear.  Beginners have difficulty walking in the shoes let alone dancing!  It’s an entirely new way to move – balance, walk and dance.

Do pointe shoes hurt?  If the dancer is physically and technically proficient, has a good teacher, the shoes correctly fitted and the feet are suitably constructed for this type of work, pain is kept to a minimum.  A variety of protection is used: paper, lamb’s wool, foam, gel packs, Band-Aids, and cloth wrappings.  With time and experimentation every dancer comes up with her own recipe.

No one should be allowed to undertake pointe study until at least twelve years old.  As illustrated by x-ray the bones and connections of the feet have not ossified sufficiently.  The results of undertaking pointe study too early might not show up for years but the effects can be disastrous: stress fractures, bunions, hammer toes, arthritis, tendonitis, etc.

Do men dance on pointe?  Some character roles exist for men on pointe such as the donkey “Bottom” in The Dream or the step-sisters in some versions of Cinderella.  However, men sometimes study pointe to strengthen their feet and some prefer to undertake it if they want to teach or choreograph for pointe.  They usually order their shoes in black.

Finally – the kosher part……

In a conversation with a (Jewish) branch manager of a library located close to an Orthodox synagogue, I asked why we rarely saw any of the Orthodox Jews in the library.  She told me that she had learned that they were wary of the books in the library because pastes and glues used in the bindings might have come from non-kosher sources.  

So one wonders if the pastes and glues in the construction of a pointe shoe would present the same problem?  There have been many renowned Jewish ballerinas – prima ballerinas – and  even a couple of prima ballerina assolutas – but I don’t think any of them were Orthodox.

I suppose should an Orthodox Jewish woman aspire to become a classical ballet dancer she would have to find a kosher pointe shoe; definitely niche market.  Bu then there’s the problem of a short tutu...

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People of the Books

  Hilda: memoir of creative, eventful, bittersweet life

by Hilda Pierce; iUniverse Inc.; 239 pages; $18.95.

  Reviewed by Norman Manson

SAN DIEGO—A story of a bittersweet, very eventful and very creative life, told forthrightly and succinctly - that's a capsule description of Hilda, a memoir that  captures not only the essence of a woman's long life, but also its relationship to the turbulent, often tragic, times during which she has lived.

Hilda Harmel was born in Vienna in 1921 and, for the first 16 years of her life, had a generally normal childhood. That all changed in March 1938, when Hitler's legions marched into Austria - and, for Jews like Hilda, life would never be the same. Among other indignities, Hilda found herself scrubbing swastika symbols off sidewalks with a toothbrush. That horrible time, however, is when she first demonstrated her ingenuity, her chutzpah if you will, by using American phone books to contact unrelated namesakes in an effort to immigrate to the United States.
Her subsequent odyssey was an arduous one, including a stopover in England, where she encountered both caring, warmhearted people and vicious anti-semites. And the ship taking her across the Atlantic had to dodge nazi submarines.

Still a teenager, she proposed marriage to her first husband as a way of getting her parents into the U.S. And, even when her life seemed to be running smoothly, she suffered the unexpected loss of two husbands and of her daughter, who died long before her time.
But what stands out in her life story is her creativity, her artistic talent, which includes both painting and teaching. She has done all the artwork - painting, murals lithographs - on several cruise ships, and her painting of the UCSD Geisel Library's founding librarian hangs in the library's lobby,

Her mural, "The Four Seasons," in memory of her daughter, is in the John and Rebecca Moores Cancer Center in La Jolla. After spending most of her life in the Chicago area, she now lives in San Diego with her fourth husband, Herman.

Hilda recounts the bad as well as the good, troubles large and small, from the time she had an "accident" in kindergarten to her unhappy third marriage to Tom Friedman. But she seems always have been unfazed, able to figuratively rise from the floor and continue her lifelong quest for fulfillment, both in her personal and her artistic life.

Her writing is straightforward and easily readable, with few digressions, and a number of lively, humorous anecdotes enliven the text. Some stem from her travels, such as her description of the

donkey ride she and her second husband, Norm Pierce, took up the mountain on their honeymoon on the Greek island of Santorini.

There is one minor quibble: A couple of examples of her artwork could have been included among the family photos that are sprinkled through the book. But overall her life story is very well worth reading.

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            Jews in Sports

Unless otherwise indicated, source for these stories is The San Diego Union-Tribune, to which we gratefully provide the links below

BASEBALL — On Monday, June 25, Shawn Green's 11th inning homer not only won the game 2-1 for the New York Mets, it also served notice to the St. Louis Cardinals that they can't take Shea Stadium for granted.  It was there last season where the Cards won the National League championship...Jason Marquis pitched 5 1/3 innings en route to his Chicago Cubs wild 10-9 victory over the Colorado Rockies.  He gave up three of those Rockies runs before being lifted...The Texas Rangers recalled pitcher Scott Feldman from their Triple-A farm team in Oklahoma... Kevin Youkilis doubled in his 27th and 38th RBIs, but his Boston Red Sox were defeated 9-4 by the Seattle Mariners.  His .331 average keeps him in the 8th position among the best American League batters. ... Ian Kinsler singled and walked twice, scoring two runs in his Texas Rangers victory over the Detroit Tigers...

TENNIS—Israeli tennis star Shahar Peer, the No. 16 seed, advanced in yesterday's first round at Wimbledon.  Peer defeated Tamarine Tanasugarn of Thailand, 7-5 and 6-2.... On the other hand, teammate Tzipi Opziler lost one set 6-2 to Michaella Krajicek of the Netherlands, and was winning the second set 7-6 when the match was called because of darkness.

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            Story continuations

Tony Blair...
(Continued from above)

A reporter asked whether there was anything new on the deliberations of the Quartet, which had been meeting in Jerusalem.

Tom Casey, deputy spokesman for U.S. Secretary of State Condolleeza Rice, responded, "Don't have a lot more to ad for you, Matt, at least not on the subject I think you're most interested in.  Obviously, the Quartet did meet today.  Assistant Secretary (C. David) Welch represented the U.S. there. They did have a good discussion of the situation in the Palestinian territories. They did, as I mentioned earlier this morning, discuss as well the desirability of having an envoy for the Quartet who could work with the Palestinians on things like building the rule of law, expanding economic development, coordinating assistance, otherwise helping to build up Palestinian institutions and try and assist the new government under Prime Minister Fayyad to accomplish its main goal, which is taking care of the Palestinian people."

However, Casey said, "in terms of any kind of Quartet statement or announcements, including things potentially related to the envoy, I think we'll just have to wait for the Quartet to make its pronouncements on that.  And, again, as I told you this morning, I thing we're--you would be wise to look for that, come tomorrow."

Another questioner asked: "Does the U.S. believe Tony Blair would be a good envoy?"

"Well the U.S. certainly believes that Prime Minister Blair is  distinguished individual with a world record and history of support for bringing about a peaceful resolution of the Middle East," Casey responded. "He's a dedicated individual. He's someone who, as President Bush said in their latest Rose Garden meeting, is someone who is respected and listened to throughout the world. And certainly, it would--he would be an individual that, no matter what he applied his skills to, would certainly be a welcome presence. And we look forward to seeing what new roles and tasks he'll take on for himself once he finishes his term in office."

Another reporter took another stab at getting confirmation:  "Is it a mere coincidence on the calendar that Tony Blair finishes his political career in Britain tomorrow and the announcement is coming out tomorrow?"

"We'll just leave it at that," responded Casey. "The Prime Minister concludes his term tomorrow. And then we'll look to see what he has to say.  We'll also look to see what the Quartet has to say.  And I think at that point, you'll know what's coincidence and what isn't."

Meanwhile, at the United Nations briefing in New York, Michèle Montas, spokesperson for UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon was facing similar questions.

Michèle, I understand that in the next 48 hours the Prime Minister, Tony Blair, will be appointed Special Envoy to the Quartet on Middle East Peace," ventured one reporter.  "Does the Secretary-General think that he has the credibility and the ability to make decisive contributions to lasting peace in the Middle East?

Montas responded: "I cannot comment on that yet, because, as you know, the name is not official yet.  The Quartet principals are discussing it.  As soon as all Quartet principals have signed, of course you will have comments.

The media persisted: "He approves of the idea?  He likes Mr. Blair as a representative for ..?"

Said Montas:  I cannot comment at this point.

Subsequently, the office of Prime Minister Ehud Olmert got into the international guessing game, releasing the following statement: "Prime Minister Ehud Olmert spoke with British Prime Minister, one day before the latter is due to leave office, and congratulated him on the occasion.  Prime Minister Olmert told his British counterpart that he is a true friend of the State of Israel and added that if he accepts the position of the Quartet envoy to the region, Israel would cooperate with him to the fullest." 

One normally wouldn't have put out a releaselike that out if Blair have said he wasn't going to take the job, but still that was far from confirmation.

Tomorrow, when the announcement is made, it will be fresh news.  But don't expect anyone to whistle in surprise.
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