Sunday, November 29, 2009

A Very Special Wedding! Mozel Tov to a Trailblazing Couple with Downs!

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This is a beautiful and touching story of how love can triumph over the "advice" of "specialists." These two very special people love each other, they are religious, and they wished, more than anything in the world, to live together as husband and wife.

May Hashm bless them, their families who have worked so hard to make this happen, and all the friends, neighbors, and relatives who shared this beautiful simcha with them.

May this couple lead the way toward a full understanding of the importance of a respectable, independent, and responsible life for all those who can fulfill this mitzvah.

Shalom and Ronit head to the huppa
Nov. 26, 2009

Nearly 2,000 years ago the Talmud recognized that finding a partner for a happy marriage is a miraculous feat. "To match couples together is as difficult as the splitting of the Red Sea," it tells us.

For young adults with disabilities, even splitting a sea does not capture the difficulties they must overcome in order to marry. One determined couple tackled them bravely.

Shalom is unaware that he is a trailblazer. This, he says, is just "the fulfillment of a dream of mine." When asked for how long has he wanted to marry, he responds, "From age zero."

Bearded, casually groomed, handsome and self-possessed, he is forthcoming about his engagement to Ronit. She is "smart, wise, serious, full of self-confidence and pretty," he assures us. His indistinct speech is overshadowed by its articulateness. Both Shalom and his fiancée have Down syndrome.

Shalom's mother Bina sits beside him detailing the upcoming event, at times reverting to English, which he does not understand. Unperturbed, he waits for the conversation to return to Hebrew.

The couple first met many years ago at summer camp, but then lost contact. Several months ago they bumped into each other again at the Central Bus Station in Jerusalem. From there followed dates at cafes and flowing conversations. "We have tons to talk about," Shalom says. "She loves to laugh and sometimes I make her laugh." She has dubbed him "Matzhikon" (funnyman), he adds.

There was no formal marriage proposal. Once both sets of parents understood that their children were in love, they met and decided to arrange for them to marry. Handling the logistics of an event for the 950 invitees has been the easy task. Planning for the couple's life afterward is more challenging.

Shalom's mother, Bina, is well aware of what she now faces. His and Ronit's welfare will, no doubt, always remain a source of concern. "Shalom knows that all these years I didn't want him to get married," she relates, turning to him for agreement.

"He's a pleasant, easy boy, not problematic, and I like having him at home. But he wanted to marry because he is searching for a partner like everyone else, and I understood that the right thing is to let him marry and develop."

The families have only roughly outlined the couple's living arrangements. Shalom and Ronit will remain at their current jobs - she as a photocopier at a primary school for learning disabled children in Jerusalem's Romema neighborhood, and he in paper recycling at the Givat Shaul offices of the Ministry of Education. The parents are looking for a rental apartment near Shalom's parents.

Ronit has lived in an Alei Siach sheltered home for the past 15 years. She and Shalom will be the third married couple among the 360 Jerusalemites who are assisted by the organization's network of hostels, workshops and clubhouses.

Chana Bransdorfer, spokeswoman for Alei Siach, says that Ronit attended weekly therapy sessions for several years. It was there that the idea of marriage arose and then took root. The sessions primed her for the undertaking, along with her family's support and in consultation with outside professionals.

All residences and activities sponsored by Alei Siach are gender-segregated, so Ronit never met boys there. The other Alei Siach couples were arranged through matchmakers, in accordance with haredi protocol. Marriage is clearly a goal that Alei Siach champions for those of its charges who are capable of it.

SHALOM NAMES three married Down's friends, and his mother adds two more couples she knows who live together. Yet, Rivka Sneh, a founder and director of Yated, the nonprofit serving 1,500 families of Down's children around the country, paints a bleak picture of marital opportunities. She says that despite impressive strides in the areas of education, employment and community living, progress in this area has been minimal - it is the last frontier.

In an effort to conquer it, Sneh lectures throughout the country about the sexual and marital needs of Down's adults. According to her records, there are only five married couples in the country. A sixth has been engaged for more than a year and is awaiting subsidized marital quarters from the Ministry of Welfare and Social Services. They will become available, she says, once another couple materializes to join them in a sheltered apartment. Only parents with the finances to rent their children an apartment can sidestep this obstacle.

Sneh argues that acknowledging the right of Down's adults to form relationships and marry is not enough. Most of them need to be taught how to socialize with the opposite sex. Currently there is one national center in Tel Aviv that provides counseling and instruction in forming relationships. Local branches exist in Haifa, Afula and Beersheba, and a new one will soon open in Jerusalem. Through various exercises such as psychodrama, participants acquire social skills that include making eye contact, initiating conversation, asking appropriate questions and listening attentively. Sneh claims that these few centers do not meet the needs of all.

Sneh, who knows Shalom, emphasizes that he is unique: He never needed any such guidance. In fact he tells us that he has many friends and even a string of past girlfriends, the first of whom he met in primary school. Since then he has enjoyed several other relationships. His mother explains, "He was always warm, giving, knew how to dote on others and how to give love." Shalom adds, "And how to give respect."

Shalom radiates an enviable inner peace. Sneh points out that many Down's individuals are denied that by dint of their sexual frustration. They are rendered so tense, restless and even aggressive that caregivers frequently administer medication just to calm them down. Sixty percent of those institutionalized and 40% of those in community-based residences receive psychiatric drugs. Sneh says that according to the chief psychiatrist of the Welfare and Social Services Ministry, only 10% of that sector have conditions that actually require such treatment.

The promotion of sexual and marital relations may be appropriate for Down's adults. However its suitability for the general mentally disabled population is hotly disputed. [MORE]

Jewish Students in Brazil Barred from College by Saturday Test Date

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Please write to the Counsel General of Brazil immediately
<>. This is a horrible tragedy for the religious Jewish community of Brazil, and Brazil should know that the world is watching what they do.

Here is a copy of the letter I sent:


November 29, 2009

Dear Consul General de Brazil, <>

It was with a heavy heart that I read a news article about how the national examination in Brazil will be held on a Saturday, the Jewish Sabbath, and how religious Jewish students in Brazil will not qualify for college in Brazil because of the test date.

Jews have always been an important and respected group in Brazil, and Brazil has always been known as a place for them to live and succeed. I have included a list of famous Jews from Brazil and their accomplishments. These are only a few of the Jews who have contributed to the growth and prominence of Brazil.

I would like to politely remind the country of Brazil that it is not the Jews who would suffer the most under this misapplication of the law, it is the country of Brazil. If Jews cannot attend colleges in Brazil, you will lose the potential of those bright students. They will never be able to assist Brazil with her growing economy.

Do you want to sacrifice your country’s success on behalf of a test? This is a small matter, easily handled, but the world is watching.

We want to see Brazil do the correct thing by allowing Jewish students to take the test on a day that is not set aside for the sanctification of the Almighty. Perhaps, if the government is concerned with the fairness of the test, the date can be arranged to fall on a weekday, when all Brazilians can take the test in equality.


Michelle Nevada

  • Clara Ant, political activist and presidential adviser
  • Jom Tob Azulay, film director
  • Hector Babenco, film director
  • Leoncio Basbaum, physician and political activist
  • Moysés Baumstein, holographer, film/video producer, painter, writer
  • Manoel Beckman, colonial leader
  • Adriana Behar, beach volleyball player
  • Samuel Benchimol, entrepreneur and Amazon pioneer
  • Abraham Bentes, army commander
  • Daniel Benzali, TV actor
  • Claudio Besserman Vianna, comedian
  • Joel Birman, writer
  • Eva Altman Blay, sociologist and politician
  • Debora Bloch, actress
  • Nilton Bonder, community leader and writer
  • Waldemar Levy, field marshal
  • Boris Casoy, journalist
  • Otto Maria Carpeaux, literary critic
  • Moyses Chahon, army commander
  • Juca Chaves, comedian, composer and singer
  • Victor Civita, journalist
  • Deborah Colker, dancer and choreographer
  • Gilberto Dimenstein, journalist
  • Alberto Dines, journalist
  • Tufi Duek, fashion designer
  • Dina Dublon, director
  • German Efromovich, entrepreneur
  • Benny Feilhaber, professional soccer player[19]
  • Fortuna, singer and composer
  • Vilém Flusser, philosopher
  • Marcelo Gleiser, physicist and writer
  • José Goldemberg, educator, physicist and minister
  • Mario Haberfeld, racing driver
  • Alexandre Herchcovitch, fashion designer
  • Wladimir Herzog, journalist
  • Marc Horowitz, trader
  • Luciano Huck, TV show host
  • Roberto Justus, advertiser and TV host
  • Isaac Karabtchevsky, musician and conductor
  • Jacques Klein, pianist
  • Samuel Klein (businessman), entrepreneur
  • Samuel Kicis, army commander
  • Ithamara Koorax, jazz singer
  • Miguel Krigsner, entrepreneur and environmentalist
  • Celso Lafer, diplomat
  • Cesar Lattes, physicist
  • Jaime Lerner, politician (governor Paraná state), urban planner
  • José Lewgoy, actor and director
  • Clarice Lispector, writer´
  • Gerson Levi-Lazzaris, ethnoarchaeologist
  • Carlos Maltz- Drummer of rock band Engenheiros do Hawaii
  • Salomão Nauslausky, army commander
  • Noel Nutels, public health physician and human rights activist
  • Carlos Nuzman , sportsman and president of Olympic Committee
  • Ivo Perelman, jazz saxophonist
  • Flora Purim, jazz singer
  • Sultana Levy Rosenblatt, writer
  • Ricardo Rosset, Formula One driver
  • Edmond Safra , banker
  • Joseph Safra, banker
  • Ricardo Semler, entrepreneur
  • Moise Safra, banker
  • Silvio Santos, (Senor Abravanel), TV show host
  • Mario Schenberg , physicist
  • Moacyr Scliar, writer
  • Lasar Segall, artist
  • Amir Slama, fashion designer
  • Henry Sobel, Rabbi, community leader
  • Mauricio Waldman, sociologist and politician
  • Yara Yavelberg, political activist
  • Mayana Zatz, geneticist
  • Benjamin Zymler, auditor-general
Brazil Jews decry 'exclusion' from college entrance exam
By Cnaan Liphshiz

Brazilian Jewish teenagers this week protested what they called their "exclusion" from a national exam for high school graduates set to take place on Shabbat, after a Brazilian court said providing Jews with an alternative date would "undermine equality."

"In some areas in Brazil, such a Rio de Janeiro, observant Jewish students cannot apply to some of the leading universities," said Alex Kingel, 17, from Sao Paulo, who will not be taking the test.

Kingel explained that because Rio de Janeiro's leading university is a federal one - funded by the central government - applicants must take the test, known locally as ENEM. The exam, which is not mandatory, is not necessary for applying to locally-funded state universities.

Simone Janovich, also 17, from Higienopolis, Sao Pualo, said: "If I have to, I will go to college even without taking the ENEM."

Last week the Brazilian supreme court reversed a ruling by a Sao Paulo court, which determined that the country's education ministry needed to provide an alternate date for Jews. The test is set for December 5.

The supreme court said Jewish students could take the test after sundown Saturday, calling this a "reasonable" solution. It remains unclear whether Jewish students will be given an extension after sundown.

Supreme court president Gilmar Mendes said giving the Jewish minority an alternative date would harm equality.

"We lost this time but this is not over," said Alberto Milkewitz, who heads the education department of the Jewish community of Sao Paulo. "I consider this a battle for the defense of democracy."

Milkewitz and the Sao Paulo-based Center for Religious Jewish Education had sought the alternative date. "The minority should not have to bend to the majority and democracy does not mean the two should be homogenized," he said.

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Stooping to a New Low in Wussitude, Bibi's "Security Cabinet" Approves Building Freeze In Judea and Samaria


A great way to reward those terrorists for their terrorism. Thanks Bibi!

We suspected you were still the wuss we remembered you to be, and now we know we were right.

Why don't you join your friend, Obama, and start bowing to every arab you see. After all, like Obama, you have accepted dhimmitude, so you might as well admit it and start acting like a dhimmi in your own land.

But don't expect the rest of us to follow you. We will not bow our heads. WE WILL NOT FORGET TO WHOM HASHM HAS GIVEN THIS LAND.

You are a disgrace to Israel, Bibi. Go apply for a job working for CNN. You are done in Israel.

Cabinet Approves Building Freeze
by Hana Levi Julian

( The Security Cabinet approved a request by Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu Wednesday night for a 10-month construction freeze in Judea and Samaria.

In a statement released to the media, Netanyahu said he was making the proposal "as part of the efforts to give momentun to the peace talks with the Palestinian Authority" and to "advance Israel's comprehensive national interests."

The freeze includes a 10-month suspension of new residential construction permits and all new residential construction starts in Judea and Samaria, which could include peripheral areas around the capital as well. This also means construction as simple as building a fence around a yard, a balcony on the second floor of a home, or an extension to the back of a house -- or even something as simple as a porch or pergola over the front steps of a home, if it is located anywhere in Judea and Samaria.

"In the international circumstances that have been created, this step will promote Israel's broad national interests," he told the Cabinet at the start of the meeting. "This is neither simple nor easy, but it has many more advantages than disadvantages. It allows us to place a simple fact before the world: The government of Israel wants to enter into negotiations with the Palestinians, is taking practical steps in order to do so, and is very serious in its intentions to promote peace," he said.

Leaders of Jewish communities in Judea and Samaria are refusing to meet Thursday with Defense Minister Ehud Barak, who came out in support of Netanyahu's proposal. "The aim is to open a window to renew negotiations with the Palestinians," he said in justifying his backing the plan. "I hope the Council of Judea and Samaria Communities leadership, which is patriotic, responsible and serious, will understand the need for this decision at this time," he added.

"The Defense Minister has been harrassing Jewish communities for a long time before the decision to freeze construction and for the sake of narrowing the pace, things have gotten to the point that he even he refuses to allow the building of classrooms and nurseries for toddlers," Council members said.

They also pointed out that "the address is the prime minister, Binyamin Netanyahu -- he is the one that received the decision on the freeze, he is the one who broke his election promise to the voters."

National Union Knesset members are furious over the prime minister's actions; party chairman MK Yaakov (Ketzaleh) Katz said Netanyahu is "spitting in the face of those who were promised only a year ago that he would lead a change from the expulsion policies of [former Prime Minister Ariel] Sharon." He called on Likud members to turn in their party membership cards and join the National Union instead.

MK Dr. Aryeh Eldad added bluntly, "The people of Judea and Samaria who were
coaxed into voting for Prime Minister Netanyahu should tar and feather everyone who urged people to vote for the Likud."

His colleague MK Uri Ariel compared the proposed building freeze to the infamous British White Paper of 1939, which restricted Jewish immigration to Israel. "Malcolm MacDonald, author of the White Paper, can be proud. Seventy years after he published his anti-Semitic document, here comes the Israeli government and tries to follow in his footsteps," Ariel declared.

Breaking Some Myths of Orthodox Singlehood, A Study


This is another great article on the reality of religious Jews and their relationships which has appeared on Rabbi Angel's excellent website for his Organization of Jewish Ideas/Ideals. The first one, on Sex and the Married Orthodox Woman, was a wonderful study which looked into how the concept of family purity plays out within the married relationship.

This article, by Dr. Jennie Rosenfeld, respectfully asks the question, "What Myths Exist With Orthodox Singles? How Do Those Myths Contribute/Explain the "Shidduch Crisis"?

She discusses five myths in the singles community and what her study found out in relationship to those myths. Those myths include:
  1. Everyone/No One is Shomer Negiah,
  2. Anyone who engages in pre-marital sex is fine with it,
  3. Singles are happy the way they are,
  4. Anything the Orthodox community does to "help" the Shidduch Crisis only perpetuates the problem, and
  5. Pre-marital contact can cause psychological/spiritual damage.
I think this is a very important article for anyone dealing with singles issues--singles, their parents, their friends. It helps to discuss these issues and deal with the reality of the situation. Until we understand, fully, what is behind the "shidduch crisis," we cannot really deal with it.

It is obviously not a simple problem or we would have already solved it. Even if you disagree with Dr. Rosenfeld's conclusions, her study is just one more piece to fit into the puzzle which is orthodox singlehood.

Orthodox Singles: Breaking Myths
By Jennie Rosenfeld
Posted November 24, 2009 - 2:56pm

Dr. Jennie Rosenfeld holds a PhD in English from the CUNY Graduate Center. She is currently a Junior Fellow at the Shalom Hartman Institute, where she is working on a book, Between Law and Desire: A Modern Orthodox Sexual Ethic. The Myth-Breaking section of this essay has been excerpted from the book. Prior to making aliya, Dr. Rosenfeld was the co-founder and director of Tzelem, a Special Project of Yeshiva University's Center for the Jewish Future, whose mission was to bring educational resources in the realms of intimacy and sexuality to the Orthodox community. This article originally appeared in issue 5 of Conversations, the journal of the Institute for Jewish Ideas and Ideals.

I'm smart, successful at my career, and fun to be with. I've worked out many of my "issues" in therapy. Here I am, eminently eligible and ready for a relationship, but somehow all of the guys I meet just aren't there yet. I feel like prescribing them a course of therapy, life-skills, and relationship-skills, and telling them to return in a few years, though hopefully I'll have found someone by then...
Sarah, age 27

I really want to get married and build a "bayit ne'eman b'yisrael" and all that other good stuff, but sometimes life gets in the way. I'm struggling really deeply with my conflicting sexual and religious needs, while trying to move forward in my career, and still make it to minyan-all this under the watchful and critical eye of my parents
and community. Spending Shabbat with my parents is the opposite of relaxing. I wonder whether they would have gotten married as young and as happily as they did had they had the same challenges to contend with when single as I do.
Avi, age 31

I hesitate to take up my pen and write about the broad topic of Orthodox singles. It's a topic on which much ink has been spilt and to little effect. I generally confine myself to the topic of singles and sexuality/religious conflict, which has been much less explored and where there are perhaps more constructive things to be written. However, I want to write briefly about some of the broader challenges faced by singles and by the Orthodox community. The issues are manifold and complex-spanning the religious, psychological, phenomenological, existential, physiological, and halakhic realms, among others-and my goals are limited. If I can succeed in making you question your assumptions about singles, or in breaking some of the myths that you hold dear, and shaking your sense of certainty about anything relating to singles and their place in the community, then I will have done enough. Deconstruction is easy compared to reconstruction, but it often needs to come first-I leave the rebuilding to the future.

We often hear mention of the "Shiddukh Crisis" or "Singles Problem" that currently plagues the Orthodox Jewish community. Various groups, organizations, synagogues, and individuals have given much thought to finding the "solution" or a range of "solutions" to this "problem." I don't want to enter into the fray of searching for solutions, partly because some of the "solutions" I've seen have been worse than the problem itself and have augmented the problem rather than solving it, and partly because I disagree with the entire construct of problem-solving that has been set up around Orthodox singles.

Let's start with some definitions: Many today would define the "Shiddukh Crisis" as the fact that today, more than ever before, large numbers of Jews are remaining single for longer, marrying later, or not marrying at all. This definition assumes that the mere status of married or unmarried is how we define success, and the quality of a person's married or single life doesn't matter to us. For many people, the "Singles Problem" is something that needs to be solved simply by getting everyone married as quickly as possible.

I want to suggest a different definition of the "Singles Problem": the crux of the crisis is, on the one hand, deeply personal, surrounding the individual issues that prevent people from either desiring or achieving a meaningful and committed relationship. And on the other hand, there is a wider communal dynamic in which the Orthodox community simply doesn't know how to include the unmarried individuals in its midst and often alienates singles, forcing them to either form their own singles communities or to leave Orthodoxy.

In this article, I want to focus on the intersection between the single and the community and on some of the myths that prevent mutual understanding.

Beginning the Myth-Breaking

The line between straining at truths that prove to be imbecilically self-evident, on the one hand, and on the other hand tossing off commonplaces that turn out to retain their power to galvanize and divide, is weirdly unpredictable. In dealing with an open-secret structure, it's only by being shameless about risking the obvious that we happen into the vicinity of the transformative....
Eve Kosofsky Sedgwick,
Epistemology of the Closet, p. 22

Before we can move toward a productive conversation about singles and their place in the community, I need to clear the ground from some of the many and often contradictory myths that currently prevail regarding singles. The very act of generalizing-of making statements that are relevant to "all singles" or "everyone"-does violence to the individual and his or her experience. Individuals come in different shapes and sizes; physically, emotionally, intellectually-and they relate differently to this period in their lives. We simply can't make any general assumptions about people.

I have chosen five common myths that I want to break systematically, though there are many more. I begin with the sexual realm because I think that it is the proverbial elephant in the room, which often hovers in people's consciousnesses but is not mentioned in polite conversation. Since halakha does not permit pre-marital sex or any physical contact with the opposite sex ("negiah"), singles either are not sexually active, or their sexual activity is illegitimate. Therefore, they are either grappling with sexual denial or repression, or they are violating the halakha. Either way, their situation is one that the wider community cannot easily identify with. The prevalence of assumptions and dearth of real information about people's sexual beliefs and practices-the confusion between myth and fact-may contribute to suspicion mixed with awkwardness in interactions between singles and members of the wider community. In this vein the myths can be especially damaging.

Myth #1: Everyone is "shomer negiah" /No one is "shomer negiah."

These myths, though they contradict each other, are both quite prevalent within the Orthodox community. Each comes from a totalizing perspective that seeks to reduce all singles to the same experience so that we don't need to give the matter further thought. If all singles are shomer negiah, then the system works-everything is fine, there is no conflict to be reckoned with, and we need not concern ourselves with the personal toll that this halakhic observance may be having upon the individual. On the other hand, if no singles are shomer negiah, then there is also no conflict-singles simply don't care about the halakha and thus they aren't part of the community. Each of these totalizing perspectives is detrimental and each ignores the uniqueness of the individual and the fact that people are different and that they cope with singlehood in different ways.

Although sex and sexuality are universal phenomena, they are experienced differently by different individuals and even by the same individual in different stages of life. For some, sexuality is a major challenge during the single years. For others, sexuality is a non-issue, or a minor issue. Some observe negiah with ease, others with difficulty, others not at all. Some are shomer negiah in some relationships and not in others or with some people and not with others. For others, the status changes . . . [MORE]

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Her High-Jump Record Restored was after 73 Years, But Feisty Margaret Bergmann Lambert Wasn't Waiting On It


I love this story because it shows what is really important in life. Here we are, all excited that Germany restored her record, and she replies that the honor "doesn't bother me one way or another. If it would never of happened I wouldn't have killed myself either," she said.

What is important in her life is her husband of 71 years and her children—but she doesn’t mince words: "To tell the truth, I used to sit there and curse my head off when the Olympics were going on," she said. "Now I don't do that anymore. I've mellowed quite a bit."

I’m glad you didn’t mellow too much, Mrs. Lambert! Your clear insight is a beautiful thing, your feisty words are inspiring.

To be married for 71 years is an accomplishment greater than all the Olympic medals in the world!

Be well.


Margaret Bergmann Lambert, 95, gets Olympic record back after '36 Nazi team replaced her with man

BY Samuel Goldsmith
Tuesday, November 24th 2009, 6:52 AM

Germany has restored the 1936 high jump record to a 95-year-old Queens woman who was kicked off the Nazi Olympic team because she was Jewish.

Margaret Bergmann Lambert was banned from the Berlin Olympics despite matching the high-jump record of 5 feet 3 inches to qualify and having spent two years on the team, starting in 1934.

"I was a person nonexisting because I was a Jew," Lambert told the Daily News on Monday night from her home in Jamaica.

"I equaled the German record at age 22," she said.

"I never thought this was so amazing. I was just a very good athlete. It came to me very easily. I didn't even train much."

The German track and field association has recognized Lambert, born Gretel Bergmann, several times over the years but never went as far as restoring her record.

While the honor "can in no way make up" for the past, it serves as an "act of justice and a symbolic gesture," the committee said Monday.

Lambert said the honor "doesn't bother me one way or another. If it would never of happened I wouldn't have killed myself either," she said.

She still remembers the anger she felt when the Olympic team told her she couldn't compete in the 1936 games.

"I had so much fury," she said. "I went home and planned to come to the United States."

Adding to the insult was the athlete who the Nazis selected to replace her: a jumper named Dora Ratjen-- who was later revealed to be a man whose real name was Horst Ratjen.

Ratjen was kicked off the team in 1938 when a doctor took a look at his genitals.

Lambert fled Nazi Germany in 1937 and landed in New York. She moved in with her brother, who was already living on the upper West Side.

"All the Jewish immigrants were scattered on Broadway and 80th and 90th," she said. "We all lived together there and helped each other out."

She worked as a house cleaner and met her husband, Bruno Lambert, 99, who still lives with her in Queens. They had two sons and have been married 71 years.

Lambert became an American champion in women's high jump in 1937 and 1938 and women's shot put in 1937. She decided to give it up when war broke out in 1939.

As a young woman she swore to never go back to Germany, but she changed her mind as life went on.

"I finally realized that the younger Germans - you couldn't blame them, since their fathers and grandfathers committed the crimes," she said. "It's not a nice thing to hate all the time."

Now she's a Yankees fan, but she won't watch the Olympics now because it's too upsetting.

"To tell the truth, I used to sit there and curse my head off when the Olympics were going on," she said. "Now I don't do that anymore. I've mellowed quite a bit."

Asked if she would pose for a photograph on Monday night at 7 p.m., Lambert replied: "Listen, I'm 95 years old. I have to go to bed."

Monday, November 23, 2009

Iranian Sympathizing 101 Bought and Paid for at Columbia, Rutgers


I am really not surprised that Columbia and Rutgers have accepted money from a pro-Iranian group to sponsor radical anti-Israel professorships. I am even less surprised that those colleges are now accused of helping Iran launder money through that "charitable contribution."

These are the schools that would be the winners for "most likely to be a terrorist hotbed."

Wasn't it only two years ago that Columbia University invited Ahmadinejad to speak at the campus? Wow. This sure puts Columbia University's President's comments to the press at that time in a whole new light! Remember his defense of that speech, delivered in such flowery academic prose that we all almost believed him? Remember this appeal by President Bollinger to the higher cause of learning about the world:

This new knowledge about The Alavi Foundation's $100K "gift" to Columbia for allowing the dictator to speak was probably an even higher "academic purpose" than "confronting ideas--to understand the world as it is and as it might be." The Alavi foundation is a charity that law-enforcement officials believe is a front for the Iranian government (Surprise! Surprise! I would have NEVER guessed).

At Rutgers University, Jewish students have long felt threatened for any pro-Israel, pro-Jewish sentiments (by the way, "pro-Jewish" includes wearing a kippah or hanging a flag). Study abroad programs in Israel were cancelled by Rutgers in early 2009.

But it is more than just the anti-Jewish, anti-Israel vitrol that comes from these schools, it is also the fact that they are training our scholars of the next generation. For example, Alavi gave A LOT of money to Rutgers to fund their Persian Language programs. Can you imagine what students, bought and paid for by the Iranian Regime, might "translate" for our news media, our spy agencies, and our academic communities? Everything they do would be questioned--even if they were giving a true translation!

And who are our next generation of professors? They are the graduate students, the radicalized nutcases in our colleges today! They are going to be teaching your children the "truth" about Israel.

Oh my G-d.

This is an extremely disturbing story, and, as it unfolds over the weeks to come, I'm sure we will learn a whole lot more about what is going into the classrooms in Columbia and Rutgers.


Columbia, Rutgers on 'spy' group gift list
2:21 PM, November 22, 2009

Anti-Israel, pro-Iran university professors are being funded by a shadowy multimillion-dollar Islamic charity based in Manhattan that the feds charge is an illegal front for the repressive Iranian regime.

The deep-pocketed Alavi Foundation has aggressively given away hundreds of thousands of dollars to Columbia University and Rutgers University for Middle Eastern and Persian studies programs that employ professors sympathetic to the Iranian dictatorship.

"We found evidence that the government of Iran really controlled everything about the foundation," said Adam Kaufmann, investigations chief at the Manhattan District Attorney's Office.

Federal law-enforcement authorities are in the midst of seizing up to $650 million in assets from the Alavi Foundation, which they charge funnels money to Iran-supported Islamic schools in the United States and to a syndicate of Iranian spies based in Europe.

In one of the biggest handouts, the controversial charity donated $100,000 to Columbia University after the Ivy League school agreed to host Iranian leader and Holocaust denier Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, according to the foundation's 2007 tax filings obtained by The Post.

Rutgers professor Hooshang Amirahmadi, former head of the school's Center for Middle Eastern Studies and president of the American-Iranian Council, a nonprofit advocacy group, unabashedly has touted Hezbollah and Hamas as legitimate organizations and not terrorists.

Between 2005 and 2007, the Alavi Foundation donated $351,600 to the Rutgers Persian language program, a spokesman for the school acknowledged. The university would not comment further.

Alavi's Web site says its mission is the "promotion of Islamic culture and Persian language."

"This is all about Iran laundering their policies through academe," said Michael Rubin, an Iran expert at the American Enterprise Institute think tank. "And the ivory tower is prostituting itself for money."

But Amirahmadi disagreed. "Grants from Alavi are made to the universities, not to the professors," he told The Post.

Columbia spokesman Robert Hornsby said Alavi's donations rarely topped more than a few thousand dollars and that the $100,000 donation was its largest single gift. Hornsby added that the school was surprised the foundation had direct ties to the Iranian government.

The Alavi foundation declined comment.

Additional reporting by Brad Hamilton


The Alavi Foundation — a charity that law-enforcement officials believe is a front for the Iranian government — has given hundreds of thousands of dollars to fund professorships at Columbia and Rutgers universities. These professors have been apologists for the Iranian government:

Gary Sick, professor, School of International and Public Affairs, Columbia: He [Mahmoud Ahmadinejad] made it very clear that, whether he is talking about ‘wiping Israel off the map,’ or ‘erased from the pages of time,’ or whatever the quote is, what he means is that there should be a free referendum among the peoples of the Palestine that existed to the partition in 1948 to vote about the kind of a government they should have. He is confident that, in a free vote, Israel and Israelis would lose that vote and it would turn out to be something else: a unitary state, probably run by the Palestinians.

Hooshang Amirahmadi, director, Center for Middle Eastern Studies, Rutgers: Unfortunately, a large part of the problems between Iran and the US are not based in reality, but are based on myths. The problem of terrorism is a true myth. Iran has not been involved in any terrorist organization. Neither Hezbollah nor Hamas are terrorist organizations . . . The Iranian president’s problem is with Israel, not with America.

Hamid Dabashi, professor of Iranian studies and comparative literature, Columbia: That monstrosity that [director Zack] Snyder pictures [in his film “300”] marching towards Thermopylae is the American empire — and that band of brothers that stood up to that monstrosity are those resisting this empire: They are the Iraqi resistance, the Palestinians, Hezbollah.

Israel Beseiged With Hostile NGOs Funded by EU Governments


The NGO monitor has published an important report, reproduced in executive summary form below, entitled, "Trojan Horse: The Impact of European Government Funding for Israeli NGOs."

The influence of these leftist anti-Israel, anti-Semitic groups has made the democratic country of Israel into a marionette for EU and arab forces who wish to destroy her. With huge endowments to fund their activities, these enemies our our people overwhelm the system with professional provocateurs, political payouts, and unchecked incitement.

These organizations grow like a swarm of locust, ready to consume all Jewish life in their path, intent upon destruction of the Jewish nation, while leading the public to believe their lies with the help of slick publications, websites, and the budget to wine and dine any and all journalists and propagandists to their cause.

What is their cause? Most of their followers aren't even aware of it. They will tell you that they want "peace." What they won't say, but is a clear logical step from what they do say, is that "peace" means the destruction of Israel. In their twisted minds, they honestly believe that if Israel did not exist, then the arab world would become a passive place of universal peace and brotherhood.

They are as naive as they they are evil.

The destruction of Israel does not equal peace. These stupid fanatics are just buying into a new version of Hitler's "Final Solution" and, like their grandparents before them, they believe that Jews are the root of all evil in the world.

They dress their hate in sweeter words today. They substitute "Israel" for "Jews," and they pretend that the destruction of Israel isn't something evil--it is, in their eyes, "heroic." They are "protecting the underdog" or "caring for the poor."

Wake up, Europe! Whether you are perpetrating the end of Jews in Europe or the end of Jews in Israel, it is the same result.

You are carrying your holocaust from your continent to another, you are following the sons of the Mufti of Jerusalem instead of the sons of Hitler--but their intent is one in the same.

Israel must rid itself of these cooties of continental corruption who suck Israel's lifeblood and infect her political system. Israel must ban all activity of NGOs funded by foreign governments.

Trojan Horse: The Impact of European Government Funding for Israeli NGOs
NGO Monitor
November 23, 2009

The report Trojan Horse: The Impact of European Government Funding for Israeli NGOs is a detailed analysis of major funding provided by foreign governments, primarily in Europe, for highly politicized Israeli NGOs. The report was published in conjunction with the Institute for Zionist Strategies, and is the basis for a conference to be held in the Knesset on December 1, 2009.

Click here to read the Hebrew report <>

Executive Summary in English [click here for PDF ]

Non-governmental organizations (NGOs) wield very significant political and legal power in Israel, particularly through their use of the language and frameworks of human rights and humanitarian assistance to the Palestinians. These NGOs are also a major and often hidden channel for external influence in Israeli foreign and security policies.

Much of the funding for political lobbies that claim to be based in Israeli “civil society” comes from foreign sources – particularly European governments, including the European Commission – as well as foundations such as the New Israel Fund, the Ford Foundation, and the Open Society Institute. By using the generous resources made available by these external donors, the Israel-based NGO network is able to promote particular political ideologies, and to oppose the policies of the democratically elected government on many issues.

The NGOs discussed in this analysis are highly active and visible participants in both the international and national debates on issues such as the status and future of Jerusalem, the disputed territories in the West Bank, and the actions of the Israeli Defense Forces (IDF). These NGOs issue high-profile statements and reports, generate media publicity, organize demonstrations, speak to student groups and army units, and use the courts to advance their political agendas.

In the international arena, the same NGOs submit statements to United Nations frameworks such as the Human Rights Council, run major media campaigns, and spearhead lawsuits in various countries. Using the tens of millions of shekels, euros, and dollars they receive each year, the externally funded NGO network is far more powerful than other Israeli organizations that do not enjoy similar support from foreign governments.

For example, as this report demonstrates, foreign-funded local NGOs are responsible for a significant portion of the petitions brought before the Israeli High Court of Justice. Citizens, residents, and even non-residents have standing to litigate in the Supreme Court, without having to provide evidence of potential or actual injury. Thus an individual or an organization that opposes a policy, law, or administrative action can initiate legal proceedings, even if the individual or organization is not directly affected by it. Furthermore, Israeli courts play a central role in public policy making, particularly with respect to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, thereby amplifying the impact of NGOs that operate in this arena.

Israeli courts have become a central arena for engaging contentious social and political issues, with major advantages for groups that have the resources to devote to this activity. Extensive support from European governments and private foundations gives political and opposition NGOs based in Israel the ability to carry the costs of numerous petitions and filings. This external financing allows these NGOs to become “repeat players” in the Israeli legal process, and thus to exert significant influence on policy formation.

As a democratic country with an open and pluralistic political system and facing a largely hostile external environment, Israeli society is particularly vulnerable to manipulation by externally funded NGOs. Outside political influence of this kind resonates throughout civil society. This hidden foreign intervention infringes on the sovereignty and independence of Israel by unbalancing the political process, and interfering with the policies of the elected government and the mainstream Zionist majority.

Internationally, these foreign-funded Israeli NGOs are highly visible in their opposition to the policies of the elected government and other civil society perspectives. Through frequent submissions to and appearances at the United Nations, together with their access to diplomatic and media frameworks, these NGOs have become very influential. A significant factor is their Israeli identities, which provides these NGOs with credibility and the façade of authenticity to their causes. A number of Israeli political NGOs funded by European governments maintain offices and an active presence in Washington, D.C., New York, London, Brussels, and other cities.

This study provides a detailed analysis of the activities of more than twenty Israel-based NGOs that receive funding from European governments. We examine the political agendas of these groups and the way that they influence Israeli policy making and public debate, including their intensive use of the legal system. This report also addresses the lack of transparency and accountability, known as the “democracy deficit,” that characterizes many politicized civil society organizations.

For example, B’Tselem received 27% of its 8 million NIS budget for 2007 from foreign governments, as well as substantial income from externally-based funds. While these sources are listed on their donor page, this significant government involvement is obscured in their official statement: “B’Tselem is independent and is funded by contributions from foundations in Europe and North America.” This NGO “acts primarily to change Israeli policy in the Occupied Territories,” a political objective bolstered by B’Tselem’s office in Washington, D.C., which brings their agenda directly to U.S. officials. While widely considered Israel’s premier human rights organization, B’Tselem has faced serious criticism for its misrepresentations of international law, inaccurate research, skewed statistics (including casualty lists), and selective attention to violations against Israelis. These problematic methodologies reinforce the Palestinian narrative of victimization and portray Israel as the sole impediment to peace.

Adalah is centrally involved in attempts to vilify and criminalize Israel, including in UN frameworks. The NGO helped prepare a pseudo-academic publication, which falsely labeled Israeli self-defense measures as “inhumane act[s] of apartheid...perpetrated in the context of an institutionalized regime of systematic oppression and domination by one racial group over another.” Adalah’s policy activism in Israel includes a proposed “Democratic Constitution,” which would radically alter the laws of Israel, eliminating Jewish state-symbols and limiting Jewish immigration to “humanitarian” needs. These activities are backed by a 5 million NIS budget (in 2007), 22% of which came from foreign governments.

Similarly, Ir Amim, with a 2007 budget of 4 million NIS, promotes Palestinian claims to Jerusalem. Their maps mark houses in the Jewish Quarter of the Old City, as well as the neighborhoods of Gilo, Ramot and Pisgat Ze’ev, as settlements. While officially engaged in universal “legal advocacy aimed at halting or mitigating unilateral actions that harm the fabric of life in Jerusalem,” their legal efforts target only Jewish housing initiatives. Ir Amim received 67% of its 2007 budget from foreign government sources.

These NGOs and others examined in this report support the policies and interests of their funders, thereby distorting Israeli political and social discourse, and the internal debates on critical issues. Crucial discussions and policy decisions concerning peace negotiations, settlements, security, responses to terror, the status of Palestinians who immigrate to Israel by marrying Israeli-Arabs, and numerous other major issues are subject to hidden external pressure. At the same time, political NGOs use European funding to oppose and campaign against the policies of Israel’s democratic elected government around the world.

Based on this analysis, we argue that the Israeli government has an urgent obligation to address the implications of such massive and unique foreign funding for political NGOs. The principle of free speech must be preserved, together with limiting the ability of foreign governments to both manipulate domestic politics and to undermine Israel’s international legitimacy.

The first step in this process is to ensure transparency in the transfer of foreign governmental funds to NGOs. We recommend that Israeli government officials give high priority to discussions with their European counterparts on ending the secrecy which characterizes government funding decisions for political NGOs, and establishing clear principles for any continued support of these lobbies. In addition, NGOs in Israel that receive funding from foreign governments should be required to state this in any of the activities, publications, and advertisements that they undertake.

The full report is available in Hebrew at


1 Ben-Maimon Blvd.
Jerusalem 92262 Israel
Phone: +972-2-566-1020
Fax: +972-77-511-7030
14/69 Levi Eshkol, Ramat Eshkol
Jerusalem 91181 Israel
Phone: +972-2-581-7196
Fax: +972-2-532-2422
NGO Monitor’s mission is to provide information and analysis, promote accountability, and support discussion on the reports and activities of NGOs claiming to advance human rights and humanitarian agendas in the framework of the Arab-Israeli conflict.

The Institute for Zionist Strategies (IZS) is an organization created to ensure the continuation of the State of Israel as both a Jewish and a viable democratic State, now and into the future. Our goal at the IZS is to present creative, implementable programs to the Israeli public and its policy makers.

NGO Monitor was founded jointly with the Wechsler Family Foundation
Recent Publications from the Institute for Zionist Strategies:
Demographic Trends in the Land of Israel (1800-2007) (Hebrew, 2008)
Health Disparities between the Center and the Periphery in Israel: Medical School Subsidies
as a Means for Reducing Disparities (April 2009)
Is This Land Still Our Land?: The Expropriation of Zionism (Spring 2009)
Civics Studies – Education or Unidirectional Indoctrination? (April 2009)
The ILA Reform: The Zionist Perspective (Hebrew, May 2009)
The Young Generation of Bedouins Learns the Profitability of Lawbreaking (Hebrew, May 2009)
The Jewish People as Sovereign “Sovereignty vs. Maintaining a Nation” (Hebrew, July 2009)
A Language for the People (July 2009)
The State of Israel as the National Home of the Jewish People (July 2009)
Media Coverage Characteristics of Police and Civilian Clashes (Hebrew, August 2009)
Immigration, Family Reunification and Marriage Policy in Israel (Hebrew, August 2009)
History Studies in Israel and the World (October 2009)
NGO Monitor Monograph Series:
Experts or Ideologues? A Systematic Analysis of Human Rights Watch’s Focus on Israel (September 2009)
Trojan Horse: The Impact of European Government Funding for Israeli NGOs (Hebrew, September 2009)
The NGO Front in the Gaza War: The Durban Strategy Continues (February 2009)
NGO “Lawfare”: Exploitation of Courts in the Arab-Israeli Conflict (September 2008)
Europe’s Hidden Hand (April 2008; revised 2nd edition, March 2009)
Researchers: Lior Avni Elie Klutstein
Editors: Joel H. Golovensky Gerald M. Steinberg
© 2009 NGO Monitor, The Institute for Zionist Strategies. All rights reserved.

Sunday, November 22, 2009

Egyptian Jewish Family Whose Factory Was Stolen By Nasser and Aquired By Coca Cola Finally Gets Their Day In Court


This is just one of the millions of tragedies that occured (and continue to occur) to Jews of Arab Countries. Their homes, businesses, lands, and wealth was confiscated by Arab governments and many escaped only with their lives (See Movie Here). Some didn't escape at all. No compensation has ever been given to these Jews or to their families by these anti-Semitic and hostile governments who, even today, destroy the homes and businesses of Jews without even a peep from the "humanitarian communities" who seem so intent upon protecting the lives of terrorists and their families.

Israel, the US, and Canada absorbed most of the Jewish refugees from arab lands, but many those refugees never forgot what was taken from them, how it was taken, and that they must work every day so that justice may prevail.

One of the most courageous families is highlighted in this story about a Coca-Cola bottling plant owned by an Egyptian Jewish family in 1962. That plant, its land, and the business was stolen from the family by the Anti-Jewish Nasser government, and "appropriated" by the Coca-Cola Company.

Now, the family waits for a New York judge to rule on whether or not their case for justice can continue.

May True Justice Prevail for this family, and for every family from whom their livelihood, their homes, their possessions, and their lives were taken.

Coke and confiscation
Nov. 22, 2009

In a downtown Manhattan courtroom, where the lawyers and clients up front outnumbered the observers seated in the back, where a forgotten Jewish Egyptian victim challenged an omnipresent multibillion-dollar multinational corporation; in a case where history itself was both on trial and being made, the Coca-Cola Company was publicly accused of being criminally enriched following the Nasser regime's Nazi-style expropriation of Jewish property. More than that, Coca-Cola was accused of obstructing, belittling and stonewalling a decades-long effort to obtain justice, and indeed trying to create a new revisionism that questions whether anti-Jewish persecution actually took place in Egypt in the 1950s and 1960s.

On November 10, 2009, Egyptian exile Refael Bigio drove down from Montreal, his attorneys Nathan Lewin and Sherrie Savett trained in from Washington DC and Philadelphia, Coca-Cola's chief of litigation John Lewis flew up from Atlanta and the company's defense counsel Richard Cirillo only needed to make a short trip from midtown to argue whether the Coca-Cola Company quietly but consciously benefited when the Nasser regime nationalized Jewish property. The Bigios' property had long been leased by Coca-Cola and their bottle-cap factory made the caps for Coke's products. This factory, the property and related business ultimately became a multimillion dollar asset in the giant Atlanta beverage conglomerate's overseas portfolio.

The Egyptian government takeover of the Bigio family bottle-cap and tin plating factory occurred in 1962, during the openly anti-Jewish regime of president Gamal Abdel Nasser. Egypt's government subsequently ruled its Nasser-era seizure of the Bigio property was indeed illegal. Later, however, over the Bigios' objections, Coca-Cola entered into a joint venture to operate what is now the Coca-Cola Bottling Company of Egypt on the Bigios' seized property, without compensating the Bigios, according to court papers. The Bigios claim that Coke is and has been trespassing on stolen property.

Now, after years of litigation and fruitless negotiation, Bigio's attorneys have fired a stinging motion for summary judgment, asserting that the uncontradicted facts surrounding Coca-Cola's actions were so blatant that the court should immediately find the corporation liable.

"Coca-Cola is not," wrote attorney Nathan Lewin in his motion, "as it likes to portray itself, a trusting and guileless American corporation that in 1994 innocently purchased a 'minority interest' in some remote business entity that utilizes the Bigios' property. The undisputed evidence establishes that Coca-Cola witnessed how the Bigio family - with which it was intimately bound in a mutually profitable business relationship between the 1940s and 1962 - was victimized by Nasser's ethnic-cleansing policy of taking Jewish property and expelling Jews from Egypt."

Years later, Lewin asserts, after the Egyptian government took minimal steps to remedy the religiously discriminatory brutality of the Nasser regime, Coca-Cola happily took control - through entities which it now claims cannot be "pierced" - of property that Coca-Cola knows was immorally and illegally plundered from the Bigios."

Lewin made the point simple: "Coca-Cola is, we submit, the occupier of stolen property. If this case concerned personalty [personal property] that had been taken in violation of international law from the Bigios, and Coca-Cola knowingly received and used that personal property in order to make enormous profits in Egypt, there would be no doubt that Coca-Cola would be civilly - and possibly even criminally - liable. The rule of law is no different when the stolen goods that are being used by the defendant are land and businesses. The receiver and user of such stolen merchandise cannot claim immunity on the ground that the entity that is directly using the stolen goods is only a subsidiary or an affiliate. Principles governing the tort of trespass and of aiding-and-abetting liability make all who partake in the illegal exploitation - and particularly the head of the entire enterprise - liable to the victims."

In response, Coca-Cola apparently has extensively disputed that the Nasser regime was actually engaged in anti-Jewish persecution, but was merely a socialist government seizing the property of many citizens. The company argues that it had no way of knowing that the property and businesses the Atlanta corporation acquired were made available only as the result of Nasser's anti-Jewish ethnic cleansing.

Bigio's lawyers answered by comparing Coca-Cola to someone witnessing a rape and murder, and then buying the jewelry stolen from the victim. Plaintiff attorneys added in their court filing that for Coca-Cola to deny persecution of Jewish citizens in Egypt is akin to "Holocaust denial."

While Coca-Cola asked the judge to dismiss the case, Bigio's attorneys asked for summary judgment immediately finding the company liable, saying that Coca-Cola's "only hope of prevailing in this litigation is to pervert and misstate the plaintiff's legal claims." After a two-and-a-half-hour oral hearing, which included lengthy oral arguments from both sides and direct questions from federal Judge Barbara S. Jones, the judge said she would soon narrow the diverse issues and make a ruling.

Coca-Cola's attorneys did not return an e-mail requesting comment. Attorney Lewin, contacted after the hearing, declared, "It was shocking to hear Coca-Cola's lawyer throw up every conceivable hyper-technical argument to block consideration of Coca-Cola's continuing trespass on property that Nasser confiscated from Jews because they were Jews. It was comparable to the requests initially made by Swiss insurers for death certificates of the Jews killed in the Holocaust. The court's questions indicated that these spurious responses will not prevent a fair judgment."

THE COMPLEX case began for Refael Bigio one day in August 1962. He was driving to the factory with his father when they encountered police cordons surrounding the buildings at 14 Aswan Street in the Cairo suburb of Heliopolis. As Bigio and his father nervously walked up the stairs, a policeman barked that the government had nationalized the business. "Give me the keys," he demanded. Once inside the offices, policemen and soldiers demanded the keys to the vault as well.

The nightmare of dispossession suffered by approximately one million Jews throughout the Arab world had finally descended upon the Bigio family. Brutal jailings and intimidation against family members culminated in a forced penniless exodus from the country. The Bigios were expelled with just a few dollars in their pockets. The family fled to Canada. But the Bigios never forgot the life they knew in Egypt - or their assets.

The Bigio assemblage of warehouses and manufacturing buildings, sprawled across 10,000 square meters in the midst of bustling Heliopolis, traces its main commercial life to the 1930s when Bigio's grandfather first bought the land and built a shoe polish plant. Later, the family business added a tin container operation to hold the shoe polish, and from that expanded into general tin plating. Eventually they produced tin bottle caps for soda. In 1942, at the height of World War II, a Coca-Cola licensed bottler became the family's tenant, bottling the world-famous soft drink. Soon after, the fruity drink called Fanta that Coca-Cola originally developed for the Nazi military was added.

In the 1950s, the Coca-Cola licensed bottler in Egypt expanded greatly, the plant was moved to a nearby location, and in 1959 Coca-Cola in Atlanta signed a major license agreement with the Bigios to produce the bottle caps.

In the early 1960s, using the Nazi Aryanization model that seized Jewish businesses and then either used them for state purposes or sold them to others, the Nasser regime ordered middle-class Egyptian Jews pauperized and expelled from the country. The Bigios' land was seized, and their various cola bottling and manufacturing supply companies were nationalized and merged into a single, larger enterprise called the El-Nasr Bottling Company or ENBC. Unbeknownst to the Bigios, the land itself was sold off to the Egyptian national insurance company, Misr.

After the late Egyptian president Anwar Sadat visited Jerusalem and signed the Camp David peace treaty, the beginnings of Jewish restitution appeared in Egypt. The Bigios went back to Cairo and sought to recover their property and factories. The government in 1979 invalidated the earlier confiscation. The Egyptian Ministry of Finance issued Decision Number 335, declaring the land rightfully belonged to the Bigios. The government even returned the money Misr Insurance had originally paid for the illegally seized Bigio property.

But Misr refused to comply, unwilling to give up the constantly appreciating land now purportedly valued at many millions based on its central location in fast-growing Heliopolis.

In the early '90s, Egypt embarked upon a sweeping privatization program, selling off nationalized properties, including those seized from innocent Jews in prior decades. This program included not only such public sector entities as the banks and utilities, but also some 400 private enterprises. Together the privatized businesses reportedly accounted for almost 70 percent of the nation's industrial output. In 1994, pursuant to Public Business Sector Law 203, nearly 50 private businesses were sold, according to a 1995 USAID study. The American Chamber of Commerce in Egypt was active in the government's decision-making, lobbying on behalf of US companies colliding at the door to scoop up businesses. These included the two major soda companies.

New York Pepsico bought the Egyptian bottler of Pepsi-Cola.

To the Bigios's astonishment, Atlanta-based Coca-Cola, their former business tenant and customer, purchased Coke bottler ENBC for a reported $142 million. The Atlanta conglomerate acted through a Coke subsidiary and in concert with a partner called MAC Investments, according to documents related to the sale. Amid much fanfare, ENBC was renamed the Coca-Cola Bottling Company of Egypt (CCBCE). Unmentioned in the glitter and gee-whiz surrounding the acquisition was that the company Coca-Cola purchased from the Egyptian government and renamed CCBCE included the illegally seized and never returned businesses of the Bigio family.

Coca-Cola was thrilled with its major multimillion-dollar business accomplishment. In a 1994 declaration to shareholders shortly after acquisition, the company stated, "The company is committed to continuing to strengthen its existing strong bottler system. Over the last decade, bottling investments have represented a significant portion of the company's capital investments... When considered appropriate, the company makes equity investments in bottling companies. Through these investments, the company is able to help focus and improve sales and marketing programs, assist in the development of effective business and information systems and help establish capital structures...

"For example, the joint venture known as the Coca-Cola Bottling Companies of Egypt was formed in the second quarter of 1994 following the privatization of the Egyptian bottler, which was previously government-owned."

Coke's predilection for success came to pass, judging from internal Coca-Cola information and vendor materials and videos obtained by this reporter. CCBCE now derives an estimated $100m. to $500m. in annual revenue, selling an estimated 150 million cases of soda and related products each year. The operation involves nine bottling plants and about 30 sales and distribution centers throughout Egypt. Employing approximately 7,000 to 8,000 Egyptians, CCBCE has become one of that country's leading employers.

Growth became so explosive, CCBCE needed to install some 700 network computer workstations to handle inventory and customer transactions, monitored by a single state-of-the-art console. A major data center is situated in Cairo, with an emergency back-up facility located 50 kilometers away. Volume escalated so much that the company's call center was outsourced. Production became so enormous that CCBCE had to hire an international environmental consultant to develop a multiphase process for handling emissions, discharges, pollutants and hazards.

So successful was Coca-Cola's Egyptian enterprise, in 2002, secretary of state Colin Powell . . . [MORE]

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Reform Women Arrested for Provocation at Kotel


Oh goodness. There are a lot of issues here to deal with, and none of them are as the Jerusalem Post presents them.

Let’s start with the headline:

“Woman arrested, released for praying in talit at Western Wall.”

She was not arrested for praying in talit. She was arrested for provocation when, surrounded by at least 40 other women, she began a Torah service (with, I’m sure, the accompanying singing and dancing). She began to unroll a Torah, and was attempting to begin reading (singing) from that Torah.

This was a clear provocation, and it was obviously pre-meditated, as the woman states: “We debated amongst ourselves whether or not to read from the Torah at the Kotel itself or to take the Torah to the Robinson’s Arch.”

The women knew what they were doing, and they did it with intention for the express purpose of making a scene.

If the woman was, as the JPOST contends in their headline, arrested for praying in talit—she would have been arrested and removed from the wall when she donned the talit. They wouldn’t have waited for her to unroll a Torah Scroll.

I’m sure that the police and the Kotel Rabbi were watching the women, who were probably giddy with their intent, march up to the wall and begin their Torah service. They were patient, waiting to see what the women would do. When the Torah service started, with the singing and dancing that usually accompanies such an action, they were compelled, by secular AND religious law to stop the service.

I’m sure the women were happy to be arrested. This was their intention. They wished to make headlines, and they did.

If they had not been arrested, what would have been the outcome? More women would have come to the Kotel to “pray” loudly with their Torahs and, while this is a beautiful, spiritual thing for many of them, they would be violating the rights of men who are also at the Kotel to pray and who cannot pray while listening to women sing. They also cannot listen to a woman lead services.

In attempting to forward their “rights” to pray at the Kotel, they would be denying the rights of men to pray there. This is an exceedingly selfish thing to do when there is an area set aside for this type of expression in order to protect the rights of all people wishing to pray at the Kotel.

In addition to the fact that their prayers nullify the rights of men to pray, we must also take into consideration that, while men are REQUIRED by halacha to pray, women are not REQUIRED to pray. Women MAY pray, if they wish, but they are not OBLIGATED. Men are OBLIGATED to pray. Therefore, these women would have severely violated the religious rights of men who are fulfilling their obligation while insisting upon the right to do something which, by Jewish law, is not mandatory for women.

It is in this context, that I would like to bring up the following point: Reform is having a terrible time keeping men religious. Yes. They have admitted it themselves. When one enters a Reform Temple, they overwhelming majority of those praying are WOMEN, not men. In fact, the Reform have started new “men’s services” in order to encourage men and boys to pray.

This is a direct result of favoring the so-called “rights” of women over the religious OBLIGATION of men.

These women should be ashamed of themselves!

And, my answer to this women’s comment, "I am not a political person. I come to pray and perform what is written in the Torah 'Speak to the Israelites and tell them to make tzitzit on the corners of their garments'", said Frenkel referring the biblical verse that teaches the commandment to wear a talit” would be this:

If you are so interested in following the mitzvot, why aren’t you fully religious? Are you Kosher? Do you keep Shabbat?

I am betting she chooses her mitzvot like they are something set out on a buffet table—savoring one while ignoring another.

This is not following G-d’s Word, this is following the selfish ways of humanity and attempting to fashion G-d into your own image.


Nov 18, 2009 10:18 | Updated Nov 18, 2009 12:39
Woman arrested, released for praying in talit at Western Wall

Police and Western Wall officials expelled a female prayer group from the Kotel area and arrested one of the women after they attempted Wednesday morning to read from a Torah scroll.

"We debated amongst ourselves whether or not to read from the Torah at the Kotel itself or to take the Torah to the Robinson's Arch," said Nofrat Frenkel, who was arrested and later released by police.

"In the end we decided that because nobody seemed to mind we would go ahead and read the Torah at the Kotel."

According to a compromise reached two decades ago under Supreme Court mediation, it was agreed that women who wished to wear talitot [prayer shawls] and kippot and read from the Torah would be allowed to do so at the Robinson's Arch adjacent to the Kotel and not directly in front of the Kotel so as not to offend Orthodox visitors.

On every Rosh Hodesh (beginning of the Jewish month) the Women of the Wall conduct prayers at the Kotel and at the Robinson's Arch. On Wednesday's visit there was a contingent of women from North America who are in Israel to take part in a rabbinical ordination ceremony to take place at the Reform Movement's Hebrew Union College.

Frenkel said that as the women unrolled the Torah scroll and began to prepare to read, officials from the Kotel Foundation arrived and demanded that they leave the premises.

Frenkel said that the women agreed to roll up the Torah scroll and take it to the Robinson's Arch. But on their way out Frenkel, who was wearing a talit and was carrying the Torah, was seized by police.

"I was pushed into a nearby police station and transferred to the main police station at Yaffo Gate."

About 40 women who attended the prayer formed a procession and followed the police and Frenkel through the Old City to the Yaffo Gate where they congregated and sang songs until Frenkel was released.

Rabbi Felicia Sol of the post-denominational Bnei Jeshrun Synagogue on Manhattan's Upper West Side, said that the attempt to read from the Torah was an experiment with "pushing the boundaries".

"It is ridiculous that in a Jewish state that is supposedly democratic women cannot pray the way they want to and only one definition of Judaism is accepted," said Sol.

"It is sad that many secular Israelis are distanced from Judaism because in Israel religion is seen as a negative, divisive force instead of being compelling and meaningful."

Anat Hoffman, Chair of the Women of the Wall, said that the two-decade-old compromise that prevents women from reading from the Torah at the Kotel was outdated.

"Times have changed and women should be allowed to have a more central role in Jewish expression," said Hoffman.

Kotel Rabbi Shmuel Rabinovitz said in response that the women's actions were "a desecration of the sacred."

"They brought dissent and infighting to a place that is supposed to symbolize unity," said Rabinovitz. "And that is a desecration. They behaved like [biblical] Korah and his assembly."

Rabinovitz added that the women were motivated by a political agenda and did not want to simply pray.

However, Frenkel, who belongs to a Conservative congregation in Israel, said that her sole intention was to pray to God.

"We were not trying to cause a provocation," said Frenkel.

"I am not a political person. I come to pray and perform what is written in the Torah 'Speak to the Israelites and tell them to make tzitzit on the corners of their garments'", said Frenkel referring the biblical verse that teaches the commandment to wear a talit.

Jerusalem Police said that they arrested a woman from after she donned a talit, while praying at the Western Wall.

According to a police spokesman, the woman was approached by officers after putting the prayer shawl on, which police said caused an outcry from other worshippers.

"Police calmed the situation down, and took the woman in for questioning," a statement from the spokesman said.