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Netanyahu Improves Bid
To Secure A Third Term
A young boy last week
stands near the bomb-.
shelter at Kibbutz
Kerem Shalom in
Israel's Eshkol Region
on the Gaza Strip bor-
der as Hamas-launched
rockets were explooig:
Examples of toughing it out
when the hurdle is set high.
he richness of spirit that
Thanksgiving represents provides
the perfect backdrop to consider a
few stories of Jewish drive and determination.
Bassie's The Best
Talk about no surprise!
Bassie Shemtov, co-founder of the
Friendship Circle with her husband, Levi,
in 1994, was named to the Forward news-
paper's annual list of the 50 most influential
Jewish Americans. She's about as beloved as a
community leader can be in Jewish Detroit. Her profile,
among the most read on the Forward website, is a story
of endearing fulfillment.
Her dream of pairing teens with
special needs kids from across our area
to enrich the lives of all involved has
garnered huge dividends.
As the Forward put it: "Eighteen
years later, Shemtov, now 40, has given
rise to an international phenomenon,
with 79 Friendship Circles across North
America and overseas in countries such
as France, Israel and Australia:'
It continued, "Not only has the
Friendship Circle philosophy proved wildly successful,
but the state-of-the-art center that Shemtov pioneered is
also being replicated"
The $5 million Friendship Circle flagship in West
Bloomfield, the profile stated, "boasts impressive facili-
ties, including a gym, an art space and a multisensory
room with soothing fiber-optic lights and bubble tubes.
"The real attraction, though, is Weinberg Village, a
5,000-square-foot working replica of a town center, com-
plete with pavement, pedestrian crossings and a range of
stores — including a bank, a movie theater, a hair salon
and a library. It is here — and in replica villages in New
Jersey and Ohio — that special needs children learn to
navigate real-life scenarios, such as crossing the road and
paying for goods and services:'
The New York-based Forward added, "And when the
village is not used by children, the Shemtovs open it up to
adults recovering from brain trauma to help them prac-
tice real-world skills, too:'
Yasher koach, Bassie — go with strength. A sign of your
humility, you've never been one to seek out the spotlight.
But the national recognition your honor will
bring to Friendship Circle may lift your signa-
ture cause to even higher levels of good will.
Heroic Israeli Soldiers
What propelled Ahmed Jabari, the head of
Hamas' military wing, who Israel killed to
unleash Operation Pillar of Defense on Nov.
14? A high-ranking champion of murdering
Jews through suicide bombings, the Hamas
political operative was a collaborator in the
hail of rockets pelting Israel from the Gaza
Strip — a barrage that triggered the Israeli Defense
Forces' latest air assault in valiant defense of the Israeli
people. More than 3 million Israelis live within range of
rocket and mortar attacks.
The Israel-based Palestinian Media
Watch unearthed two excerpts from
Jabari comments in 2006, four years after
his military ascent, that underscore the
enduring depth of the Zionist hatred this
Palestinian "martyr for Allah" felt:
• "The Jew who comes to the soil of
Palestine is a murderer, a criminal, a thief
and an occupier. That is the Jew we are
fighting. Whereas the Jew in his synagogue in Britain or in the
U.S., we have nothing to do with him. But if he comes to the
soil of Palestine, then he is fighting us, and we will fight
him and kill him on the soil of Palestine."
— Al Jazeera, July 3, 2006
• "Brave jihad fighters, you sacrifice your souls for the
sake of Allah ... until the rats (i.e., Israelis) return to their
holes. Today, Gaza [was liberated by Hamas]. Tomorrow,
Allah willing, Jerusalem. Tomorrow, the West Bank.
Tomorrow, Haifa, Jaffa, and Tel Aviv (Israeli cities) ...
until the liberation of the homeland, all of Palestine."
— Hamas website, Jan. 1, 2006
Operation Pillar of Defense must deal with Hamas
leaders who, bent on rousing global hatred toward the
Jewish state, pathetically thrust innocent Gazans into
harm's way. In rejecting hatemongers such as the late
Ahmed Jabari, let us salute Israel's soldiers, selfless
heroes all, as they strive to halt the vitriol and rockets
moving from Gaza City toward "the Zionist enemy"
Can Do! on page 37
November 22 • 2012
he October announcement of Benjamin
Netanyahu's Likud Party and Avigdor
Liberman's Yisrael Beiteinu party merg-
ing their candidate slates in the Jan. 22 election
doesn't necessarily mean the Israeli prime min-
ister has embraced the Israeli foreign minister's
far-right nationalist vision.
You could argue Netanyahu,
a right-winger at heart, has
essentially adopted the extrem-
ist, pro-settlement right, but his
penchant for compromise can't
be ignored; remember his ill-fat-
ed 10-month settlement freeze
in hopes of resurrecting Israeli-
Palestinian peace talks?
Still, there's no mistaking
that prospective left-wing rivals
now face an uphill battle in try-
ing to stop Netanyahu from winning a third term.
Helping clear the way for re-election by consoli-
dating upwards of 40 Knesset seats certainly
seemed intentional; it also was prudent politically.
With the merged party HaLikud Beiteinu
securely in the driver's seat as Election Day
nears, Netanyahu has a lot of explaining to do
in terms of how much of Liberman's national-
ist agenda he will advance, including a ban on
settlement boycotts and a law requiring loyalty
oaths for new, non-Jewish citizens – Big Brother
restrictions that have no place in a democracy.
At the same time, Liberman
is the most ardent opponent
of haredi favoritism when it
comes to army service, a battle
Netanyahu isn't committed to
amid the winds of so many more
urgent issues that range from
border security and social con-
to Iran's nuclear arms bid.
Israel last held elec-
tions in 2009, Liberman, a
secular immigrant from the
former Soviet republic of Moldova, saw his party,
founded as a right-wing haven for Russian Israelis
but which quickly grew, capture 15 of 120 Knesset
seats. That elevated Yisrael Beiteinu to Israel's
third-largest party, and gave it and Liberman
With rumbles of Israel's left-leaning parties
mustering enough votes under Kadima standard
bearers Ehud Olmert or Tzipi Livni to scare Likud,
the merged slate deal was struck. The threat may
have been real, but it's hard to believe there's
much political stock or star power left in either of
those faded politicos.
"The time has come to unite for the State of
Israel," Netanyahu said at an Oct. 29 news con-
ference announcing the merged slate. "We ask for
a mandate to lead Israel with strength."
HaLikud Beiteinu might just give Netanyahu
that mandate he craves. Only time will tell if that
translates to a strengthened leadership base and
a stronger, more secure Israel.