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2012 A Year in Conversation YEAR IN REVIEW

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Gloria Z. Greenfield | Director/Producer of the documentary film  “Unmasked: Judeophobia and the Threat to Civilization”  •   January 20, 2012
The 1975 UN Resolution equating Zionism with racism served as the global debut of a new, sophisticated, virulent, and lethal strain of antisemitism that portrays the collective body of Jews, Israelis, and Zionists as the evil power in the world and the Jewish state’s existence as the source of the world’s ills. And yet, in an era when human rights is considered by many to be the universal secular religion, there is silence about the resurgence of lethal antisemitism that, as Harvard professor Ruth Wisse expresses in the film, is being expressed in the Arab and Muslim countries, a generative force that we can see at work in the United Nations, which we can see working its way into Europe again, and which we can see coming home on North American campuses

Dr. Uzi Rabi | Director, Moshe Dayan Center for Middle Eastern and African Studies, Tel Aviv University  •  February 17, 2012
In the end of the day, Iran will go nuclear. The whole issue is: how Iran will behave with this nuclear capacity. Sanctions, military attacks…all these moves are designed to achieve one conspicuous goal: To make Iran understand that if they are going to perform badly with nukes as to actually provide that knowledge to terrorist organizations or whatever proxies they may have throughout the world, this will be interpreted as a pretext for war. It is a very lethal combination. People like Ali Khamenei and the military leaders of the past Iran who one way or the other are carrying Messianic visions, to let them have this weaponry in hand would create a very dangerous combination for the Middle East and the rest of the world.

Dr. Donald G. Ellis |  Professor ofCommunication, University of Hartford (while on Sabbatical at Ariel University in Jerusalem)  •  March 2, 2012
Israel is a complex country and has changed in some small ways. The majority of people want peace but are frustrated at the process. They remain concerned about violence and terrorism, so continue to elect conservative political leaders because it gives them a sense of security. Israel also has increasing internal divisions and tensions – secular versus religious, traditional versus modern, liberal versus conservative, Orthodox versus Orthodox, as well as economic and housing problems. Still, Israel is a cohesive culture with a strong national identity. People come together and coalesce when they need to.

Dr. Henry Schneiderman | Vice President of Medical Services, Hebrew Health Care, West Hartford  •  March 9, 2012
The fact is, the only way to avoid getting old is to die young. None of us will be immortal, and many of us will be demented at the end of a long life. Yet our society and our advertisers depict perpetual youth as though this were the solitary goal for all. In fact, many of us who work in health care, and other persons who have thought about these things a great deal, do not yearn to live to an exceptional age, but rather yearn to live very fully, with as much physical and mental and spiritual integrity as we can, for as long as we can; and then to decline and die without a long period of suffering, indignity, or vastly diminished capacities.

Michael Kassen | National President of AIPAC and a resident of Westport  •  March 16, 2012
Israel spends eight percent of its GDP on defense, more than any other industrial nation, and one-quarter is funded by our $3 billion in assistance. Even without that, Israel would spend eight percent on defense. To put that into perspective, the U.S. spends $4 billion, which wouldn’t be so high if not for Afghanistan. Most European countries spend one to one-and-a-half percent on defense; Israel spends nearly five times that. Most people in the American security establishment would say that the $3 billion is well spent, because it translates into American security, which is vitally important.

Dr. Raanan (Ron) Gissin | Israel’s spokesman for the foreign press on security, strategic issues, the Iranian and radical Islamic threats, and more.  •  April 20, 2012
The Arab countries are the least of our problems. We can solve the conflict with surrounding countries, but how do we learn to live with each other? That takes education and leadership. The Prime Minister today and in the next 15 years will have to resolve this issue in order to ensure the democratic and Jewish character of Israel over time. Unlike in the ‘40s, ‘50s, and ‘60s, we have the resources to do so and we need to allocate them. We could actually close the gap by putting more money into education so that people can pull themselves up by the bootstraps. It’s starting to dawn on people that we have to provide those resources. Per capita, there is an increase in investment in education, but it won’t happen overnight.

Rabbi Ron Hoffberg | Professor of Jewish History in the overseas studies program of Charles University in Prague, Czech Republic, and a tour guide specializing in Jewish Prague and other Central European Jewish communities  •  April 27, 2012
Nobody expects there to be a Jewish community in Eastern Europe post-Holocaust or post-Communism. We’ve learned over time that [the Prague Jewish community] survived because they never told anybody they were Jewish; that one survived because they jumped into a barrel and were never discovered. There’s nobody in the Prague Jewish community who doesn’t have a story, because you have to have survived somehow. The Czech Jews have come through a process of discovering their Judaism, and some never knew they were Jews.

State Senator Edith Prague | After 30 years in public service, the 86-year old CT state senator from the 19th district, who lives in Columbia, announced her retirement.  •  May 25, 2012
My parents were Jewish. My bubbe and a zaide came from Russia and lived near us. I went to their house every weekend and spent summers at the beach with my bubbe. My zaide would take me to the synagogue in nearby Lawrence, Mass. on the High Holidays. My father was killed in a car accident when I was 7 and my mother was busy trying to raise three children, so there wasn’t a lot of time for Jewish education. But I always knew I was Jewish. My zaide was part of the Workman’s Circle, a Communist group that tried to help workers. I get my zest for unions from my zaide. I go to Temple B’nai Israel in Willimantic and I am very proud to be a Jew.

Dr. Jonathan D. Sarna | Professor of American Jewish History in the department of Near Eastern and Judaic Studies at Brandeis University; author of several books, including “When General Grant Expelled the Jews”  •  June 1, 2012
There’s abundant reason for Jews to study the Civil War, even those who say, “It happened long before my family’s time in America,” because you can’t understand America without understanding the Civil War. Jews have a long history in this country and I’m always amazed by the Jews who don’t know that, who say that the American Jewish community is a 20th-century phenomenon. Jews have been here since 1654; there were 150,000 Jews here on the eve of the Civil War.

Dr. Barry A. Kosmin | Director of the Trinity College Institute for the Study of Secularism in Society and Culture, and research professor in Trinity’s Public Policy & Law Program  •  June 8, 2012
Europe is not just a museum or one big cemetery for Jews. First of all, there are still more than 1.5 million Jews living in Europe and there are large and flourishing communities – for example in Paris (300,000), London (200,000), and Budapest (50,000); new communities have arisen in recent decades in Spain and Germany as a result of immigration. There has been a notable revival of religious and cultural life.

Mayim Bialik | Actress, star of the hit sitcom “The Big Bang Theory”  •  June 15, 2012
Margaret Mead had written a very interesting analysis of a Jewish family that she observed and it sounded a lot like the style of parenting that attachment parenting is. She described women constantly rocking their babies and breast-feeding every time the baby opened its mouth. She said that perhaps the men shuckling while their davening is to recreate all the rocking that their mothers did for them. So there is absolutely a traditional ethnic aspect to parenting the way your body was made to parent. There is an Orthodox attachment parenting community. There are definitely Jews who believe that the way God made our bodies was to give birth and to nurture that child — there are many references to things like extended breast feeding and even co-sleeping in our heritage and in the Torah.

Caroline Glick | Senior Contributing Editor of the Jerusalem Post  •  July 20, 2012
There are no forces in Palestinian society that accept Israel’s right to exist. Fatah doesn’t accept Israel’s right to exist. Hamas doesn’t accept Israel’s right to exist. The supposedly dovish Palestinians like Sari Nusseibah and Salam Fayyad do not accept Israel’s right to exist. Moreover, there is no significant facet of Palestinian society that believes that the use of terrorism to murder Israelis is morally objectionable. At best, the supposedly moderate Palestinians perceive terrorism as counterproductive. The supposed moderates lionize suicide bombers and other mass murderers as heroes. The Palestinian school system from nursery through university indoctrinates Palestinians to perceive death in pursuit of the murder of Jews as the highest ideal. This is not a society that is interested in peaceful coexistence with Israel. For there to be peace, this society must be transformed.

Prof. Donna Divine | Professor of Jewish Studies and Government at Smith College; associate faculty member at the University of Haifa and Bar Ilan University in Israel  •  August 10, 2012
Mohammed Morsi, current president of Egypt, was recruited to be a member of the Muslim Brotherhood while he was getting his PhD in engineering at the University of Southern California. The roots of his attraction to this organization came on American soil, where he had plenty of access to other views.
In the Egyptian election, the Islamists in the first round for president got a much lower percentage than in the parliamentary elections. Most Egyptians wanted democracy because they thought it would help them live a better life. Since Mubarak left power, the standard of living has gone down and there is chaos because the economy hasn’t been restored. The president knows that he’ll be judged by how well his government performs.

Dan Raviv | CBS News Correspondent; author of “Spies Against Armageddon: Inside Israel’s Secret Wars”  •  September 7, 2012
When Israel strikes targets with great precision using its air force, all that is set up by terrific intelligence; it’s from the constant non-stop vigilance of Israeli intelligence. Some of the highlights I can think of include when Israel’s air force struck with great precision the Iraqi nuclear reactor in 1981, or even Yasir Arafat’s headquarters in Tunis in, I believe, 1985.  Even more so, when Israel erased Syria’s nuclear reactor — it was the Israelis who spotted this building that was being built as a North Korean-style reactor in 2007 and brought it to the attention of the U.S. government. Rarely do we think about how many moving parts there are in developing the intelligence so you can accomplish these things.

Dr. Charles Asher Small | Director of the Institute for the Study of Global Antisemitism and Policy (ISGAP) •  September 14, 2012
Contemporary antisemitism, like previous forms of antisemitism, is genocidal in nature, and it is not just a problem for Jews or Israeli Jews but also for those who care about human rights and democracy and human decency. Antisemitism begins with Jews but never ends with Jews. We see this pathetic slogan becoming true, with the tens of thousands of people being massacred in the Middle East as we speak. We’ve always been saying that there are different phases of antisemitism: religious, racist/nationalist, and now the focus is on Israel.

Dr. Ruth R. Wisse | Professor of Yiddish Literature and Comparative Literature at Harvard University •  September 28, 2012
I want to try to reformulate the understanding of tikkun olam. I think the term has been misapplied and misunderstood. I think that Jews can make the world a better place if they can find a way to get others to stop targeting the Jews. Jews are a small people and a vulnerable minority. The way Jews manage their lives as a people is complicated by the inflated role they play in the imagination and politics of other nations. Jews may do wonderful things: The term “start-up nation” captures many of the dynamic achievements not only of Israel but of Jewish communities elsewhere. But, like it or not, whatever Jews accomplish may matter less than how well they can stand up to the anti-liberal, anti-democratic rulers and forces that target them – them in particular – as the embodiment of all that they wish to destroy. By standing up to their attackers, Jews stand up to some of the worst forces in the world.

Senator Joseph I. Lieberman | This year, Connecticut’s senior Senator announced his retirement from the Senate at the end of his term in January 2013.  •  october 5, 2012
I’m by nature an optimist and I’m particularly an optimist about America because our history shows that we have the ability to pull together and tackle the big challenges that our country has faced. But the partisanship and ideological rigidity is making it much harder; there are ideological interest groups in both major parties that really refuse to compromise — and I don’t mean compromise on principal, I mean compromise to accept less than 100 percent of what you want on big bills. If you demand 100 percent you’re never going to get anything done. The [public] want us to take some risks, political risks, to do what’s right for the country. In terms of the debt and the economy, the question is are we going to come together in Congress to help solve those problems or are we going to wait until we’re back in a recession or heading off a fiscal cliff? I hope we don’t have to wait that long.

Dr. Michael Dobkowski | Professor of Religious Studies at Hobart and William Smith Colleges in Geneva, N.Y.  •  November 2, 2012
Since the ‘90s, Poland has been very interested in rebuilding positive relationships with the Polish Jewish Diaspora communities around the world and with Israel. Over the last 10 to 15 years, they have been creating strong relationships with Israel and the U.S.; even within the Polish Ministry of Foreign Affairs, they have ambassadors with portfolios on official relationships with the Jews. Since there aren’t more than 30,000 Jews in Poland, that’s strange. But the Polish position correctly recognizes that a chunk of Jewish history was ripped out of Poland and Poland needs to do what it can to weave it back into Polish national history… I think Poland is on the right track. We were an intricate part of Polish society and we need to honor that by recognizing it and reclaiming it.

Etgar Keret | Israeli author and filmmaker  •   November 9, 2012
The writer who gave me the courage to write was Kafka. I read “Metamorphosis” during my basic training and I’ve not only felt that this writer knew something about my soul, but also that a writer could be a flawed creature sharing his flaws with his readers. This model of writing was very different from the Israeli one in which the writer was always a pillar of wisdom and morality leading the way.

Dr. Eric I. Mandel | Founder of the Middle Eastern Political Information Network and East Coast co-chair of StandWithUs  •  December 7, 2012
Critics of Israel refer to the PA as a “moderate” group. On a recent trip to Israel, I interviewed a low-ranking official in the PA who would be considered a moderate and I asked him, “Why can’t the Israelis talk to someone like you?” He said, “I haven’t killed any Jews or been arrested, so I’m irrelevant to the process.”

Public square in Rio named for late Lubavitcher Rebbe
Arizona first state to divest from Unilever over Ben & Jerry’s boycott
French-Jewish teen joins Syrian jihadists

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