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December 20, 2012 - Image 41

Resource type:
The Detroit Jewish News, 2012-12-20

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Guest Column

Security from page 40

Said Gilad, a 23-year veteran of Israel's
Ministry of Foreign Affairs: "Moral values —
that was the main issue between us going into

Israeli Dilemma
It's within this sense of morality that Prime
Minister Benjamin Netanyahu walked a tight-
rope between Israeli citizen demands to fin-
ish the job in Gaza and Hamas hoping Israel's
unavoidable targeting of civilians in search
of weapons would further erode the ancestral
Jewish homeland's already weak standing in the
court of world affairs.
Further deterrents were Israel's concern
about harming its diplomatic relationships with
Egypt, Jordan and the U.S. Unsaid but surely a
factor was Israel's uneasiness about what Iran-
backed Hezbollah in Lebanon would do in the
event of another Israeli ground incursion into
Let there be no doubt: Hamas, which justifies
its killing of Jews as worship of Allah, is enjoy-
ing stronger self-confidence and international
respect in the wake of standing up to Israel.
Turkey, Tunisia and Kuwait are but three of the
countries that have thought about sending del-
egations to meet with Hamas.

An Uneasy Quiet
The Israel-Hamas cease-fire, as long as it
holds, puts kids back in their schools and
farmers back in their fields. It did halt the
rocket fire and mortar shelling, at least for
a time. But there's no way of knowing if it
halted the process of Hamas rearming. That's
extremely unlikely unless Egypt, whose Muslim
Brotherhood leadership controls Hamas, some-
how orders such a halt.
"Many Israelis feel another cycle of violence
is just around the corner:' Gilad said at the
JCRC meeting.
There's a greater chance of that than the
cease-fire holding. Which is why Israel must
maintain a potent, deterring presence along
the Gaza border and improve its rocket- and
missile-detection systems.
As promising as Israel's Iron Dome is relative
to intercepting short-range rockets and mis-
siles, Hamas' projectile power still nearly hit
Jerusalem and Tel Aviv last month.
Given that, and the long-range capacity of
Iranian and Hezbollah projectiles, Israel has no
choice but to stay laser focused on bringing to
bear its David's Sling, to fight medium-range
threats, and its Arrow series, a long-range bal-
listic missile program, to succeed in securing an
effective, multi-tiered missile defense shield —
honed, tested and ready.
The IDF projects that about 200,000 rockets
and missiles are pointed squarely toward Israel
from Iran and Tehran-backed Syria as well as
by Hezbollah and Hamas.
That's alarming.
Clearly, stopping Hamas is but a first step to
finding a lasting peace in a volatile region.

Opening Abraham's Tent


e had the honor of
participating in an
informative, inspir-
ing conference in Baltimore titled
"Opening Abraham's Tent: The
Disability Inclusion Initiative." A
conference of this size and quality
was proof that, finally, the right
people are "on the bus" to help
ensure that people with disabilities
and their families are fully includ-
ed in Jewish life in communities
across North America.
The Jewish Federations of North
America (JFNA) partnered with the
Jewish Funders Network and the
Jewish Foundation for Group Homes
on the Opening Abraham's Tent con-
ference. The caliber of the people in
the room was at the highest level,
including top staff of the JFNA and
many of the largest federations. This
is vital, as the Federations, which
collectively raise billions each year
to support Jewish causes, can do
more for inclusion than any other
network in the Jewish community.
Jerry Silverman, JFNA president
and CEO, and William Daroff, JFNA
vice president for public policy and
director of the Washington office,
participated in the conference and
are keenly aware of shortages of
accommodations available at many
Jewish institutions for people with
disabilities and their families. They
are committed to addressing those
Metro Detroiter Dan Guyer, who
co-leads with Marcia Cohodes the
JFNA Human Services & Public
Policy Disability Committee, led one
of the sessions.
This conference came on the
heels of important work by that
committee, which agreed to "Four
Key Elements of Inclusion" to guide
efforts by federations and their affil-
iated agencies to achieve meaning-
ful progress toward becoming more
• Accessibility – Ensuring that
people with disabilities can access
Jewish institutions in our commu-
nities and all of the activities held
within them.

• Acceptance – Understanding

that each one of us has a role to
play so that all people are welcome
and can participate in meaningful
• Accommodation – Adapting and
modifying the environment or pro-
gramming to allow people with dis-

Bassie Shemtov and
Jennifer Laszlo Mizrahi

abilities to actively participate.
• Welcoming – Treating people
with disabilities and their families
with respect and dignity reflects and
celebrates diversity while creating
a sense of unity within the Jewish

A Sharper Focus

Agreeing to these elements was
an important milestone, but deeds
mean more than words, and the
commitment to these principles
must come from the entirety of our
Thus it was meaningful the gath-
ering included luminaries in the field
from all different walks of Jewish
life as well as representatives from
the breadth of religious, Jewish
social service and education orga-
nizations, and from more than two
dozen communities. The event wel-
comed the arrival of an important
free online resource book created by
the Jewish Funders Network (www.
Delaware Gov. Jack Markel! was
keynote speaker at the disabil-
ity inclusion conference. Markel!,
who is Jewish, served on his local
Federation board and as a mem-
ber of the JFNA Young Leadership
Cabinet. As chairman of the
National Governors Association,
Markel! has chosen employment
issues in the disability community
as his focus.
His initiative, "A Better Bottom
Line: Employing People with
Disabilities," is working to bring peo-
ple with disabilities into the work-
force by focusing on their abilities,
not their disabilities. He is meeting
with governors and businesses to
advance opportunities for these
individuals to be gainfully employed
in the competitive labor market. In
his talk, Markel! inspired federations
and other Jewish organizations to

"walk the walk" and be even more
inclusive – not only in whom they
serve, but also in whom they hire.
Michigan is blessed with many
organizations serving individuals
who have special needs. Four of
those agencies (Jewish Community
Center of Metropolitan Detroit, JVS,
Friendship Circle and JARC) partner
each year for a fundraising initiative
called "Super Raffle."
We all believe the relationships
and friendships forged amongst the
agencies leaderships through this
effort is more valuable than the
much-needed funds it helps raise.
Friendship Circle also partners with
Federation to run a very successful
Hebrew school called Efshar Circle.

The Rebbe's Imprint

Friendship Circle and its 80 branch-
es worldwide are inspired by the
leadership of Rebbe Menachem
Mendel Schneerson, of blessed
As the leader of the Chabad
Lubavitch movement, Rebbe
Schneerson was bold and forward-
thinking in his approach to individu-
als with disabilities. He was quoted
in the late 1960s, a notorious time
when individuals with disabilities
were marginalized in society, as
saying, "Therefore, I would like to
suggest that the name be changed
from 'handicapped' to 'exceptional'...
and this name change is not merely
semantics, rather it describes
the situation in the truest way ...
Showing how every man and woman,
regardless of their physical or bodily
state possesses a soul, which is an
actual part of God above. And that
this divine soul, which is present in
everybody, ultimately overcomes
the limitations of the body."
It is clear that every Jewish per-
son must be included in order for
the Jewish people as a whole to be
truly united. The work of our federa-
tions, philanthropists and organiza-
tions like the Friendship Circle are
perpetuating this new emphasis on
inclusion and leading the way to a
stronger Jewish community.

Bassie Shemtov is director and co-founder

of West Bloomfield-based Friendship Circle.

Jennifer Laszlo Mizrahi is founder and

president of Washington, D.C.-based Laszlo

Strategies and co-director of the Mizrahi

Family Charitable Trust, which helped sup-

port the initiative.

December 20 • 2012


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