Sunday, February 20, 2011

AJC/Seattle's Annual Cultural Gem of the Community!!! This Year's Jewish Film Festival "BUILDING BRIDGES" Series

RUNS MARCH 12 - 20

Rav Nachman of Breslev's (1772-1810) famously said: "All the world is a narrow bridge, and the main thing is not to be afraid."

Shining a bright light on the cultural, ethnic, religious and demographic diversity, this year's Festival introduces the AJC BRIDGE SERIES - four (4) incredible films that explore AJC's bridge-building mission through film, musical performance and in vibrant discussion with critically acclaimed filmmakers, journalists, scholars and AJC experts in intergroup, interfaith and intercultural affairs.

In this sense, navigating a narrow bridge means the ability to both partner - link arms in the same direction - as well as make or give way to others crossing your path. Dialogue not fear is the foundation for mutual understanding.

Make way 520 - Seattle bridges will widen!
Come join us and be part of the dialogue!

Pamela Lavitt: Festival Director
Festival Co-chairs: Wendy Kaplan & David Brumer

AJC Bridge Series

Tickets Sold Individually: Purchase Now (click here)

Closing Night Film & Concert
Sun. March 20 7:30PM SIFF Cinema

A group of the world's finest cantors returns to Poland for a series of exhilarating, historical concerts in this deeply moving documentary. Special Guests: Directors Marthew Asner and Danny Gold, Randy Brown, AJC Asst. Director of and Cantor Nathan Lam Performing with Seattle Jewish Chorale
Info Tickets Trailer

Mon. March 14 7:30PM SIFF Cinema

In 2003, a Jewish coffee farmer in Uganda joined forces with his Christian and Muslim neighbors to form an interfaith, fair-trade coffee cooperative. Special Guests: Director Curt Fissel and Producer Ellen Friedland
Info Tickets Trailer

Centerpiece Panel Discussion
Sun. March 13, 4:30PM AMC Pacific Place

With war in Gaza imminent, four-month-old Muhammad needs a costly bone-marrow implant - which only an Israeli hospital can perform - or he will die. Panel of Doctors and Bioethicists, Moderated by Margaret Larsen.
Info Tickets Trailer

France 2010 Roselyne Bosch
Thu, March 17, 7:30 PM SIFF Cinema

Set during one of the darkest moments in modern French history, The Round Up is a wrenching, dramatic re-creation of the Vichy regime's imprisonment of 13,000 Parisian Jews in 1942.
Info Tickets Trailer

AJC Bridge Series
Be A Gem: Donate!
SJFF's Premiere Event
Tom Douglas
Launch Party

Celebrate our "Spicy Sweet 16" at The Palace Ballroom
Thurs. March 3, 7-10 PM
$25 $50*
*Red Carpet w/goodie bag


Sara Peddicord
SJFF Program & Volunteer Coordinator Email

Individual Donor
Info Letter
Levels & Benefits

Corporate Sponsor Levels & Benefits

The Luxurious, 5-Star Pan Pacific Seattle is the Festival's Preferred Hospitality Sponsor.

Mention 'Jewish Film Festival' and receive a discounted rate of $169 for a Deluxe accommodation.

Offer includes two complimentary drink vouchers for the Lobby Bar (value $10 each)
Offer is based on availability. For reservations call 206.264.8111


The Maxwell Hotel
Special Insider Rate! $125.00 + tax, single/double occupancy. This rate applies to an Aria King or a Duet Queen. Triple occupancy is $135.00 +tax, Quad occupancy is $145.00 +tax. Please note that parking is complimentary but not guaranteed. Internet access, wired and wireless is provided in-room and throughout the hotel at no charge.

Please email or call (1-877-298-9728)

Guests may also refer to Group Code SJJF or Group number 114454.

Offer Expires: March 2, 2011. After that, the rate will be based on the Best Available Rate.
Please email or call (1-877-298-9728
Guests may also refer to Group Code SJJF or Group number 114454.

AJC Seattle Jewish Film Festival 206.622.6315
Email Website Tickets


American Jewish Committee Greater Seattle Chapter
1402 Third Avenue, Suite 405 Seattle WA 98101

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Saturday, February 12, 2011

Fascinating Interview with Sharansky on the Promise of Freedom

Sharansky offers a unique perspective on the promise of the Egyptian Revolution and prospects for a more durable peace in the long run. Truly an original thinker. Worth reading in its entirety.

Maybe this is the Moment to Put our Trust in Freedom

A quarter-century after his release presaged the disintegration of the Soviet Union, an ‘even purer’ push for democracy is unfolding in our region, says Natan Sharansky.

It was precisely 25 years ago that Natan Sharansky, icon of the struggle to liberate Soviet Jewry, walked to freedom across Berlin’s Glienicke Bridge, that narrow tie between the Communist bloc and the West. Behind him, back behind the Iron Curtain in the Soviet Union, he left a vast community of Jews who ached to follow in his footsteps.

But not for long. The crack from which Sharansky emerged grew swiftly into a chasm. Within less than six years, amid the dizzyingly rapid collapse of the Soviet empire, no fewer than 400,000 members of that community had been freed to emulate him in making new homes in Israel.

What makes this anniversary particularly poignant is that it coincides with another potentially defining moment in the struggle for democracy over totalitarianism – a moment when people across our region, some tentatively and others more confidently, are rising up against their autocratic leaders. They are demanding the same opportunities, the same stake in determining their own futures, the same guarantees of freedom from persecution for speaking their minds that even the mighty, grey, terrifying Soviet bureaucracy proved incapable of denying to its masses.

And for all that tiny Israel is understandably concerned at the direction the truly free peoples of the Middle East might ultimately choose to follow with respect to our unloved Jewish state, Sharansky is enthralled and enthused by what is unfolding.

Six years ago, he published a book – co-written with Ron Dermer, now a senior adviser to the prime minister – titled The Case for Democracy and insistently subtitled “The Power of Freedom to Overcome Tyranny and Terror.” But the skeptics and the self-proclaimed experts in this region always told Sharansky that, while he had evidently outwitted and outlasted the Communists, he really didn’t understand the ancient, bitter norms of the Middle East. In this part of the world, Israelis from Ariel Sharon on down would lecture him, bloody experience had long since demonstrated that nothing, actually, could overcome tyranny and terror.

Israel’s best hope, and that of the West, ran the thinking, rested in cultivating the more palatable tyrants. Arab democracy? How oxymoronic.

So this small, unstoppable man, who has somehow crammed long periods of dissidence, imprisonment, activism and politicking into his 63 years, is feeling a certain vindication on the 25th anniversary of his own liberation. Much more importantly, though, he recognizes the urgency and sensitivities of the hour. Huge public protest, the readiness to push for revolution, he says, is like water coming to the boil. Suddenly it rises up, overflowing with new capabilities. But slam the lid on, turn off the heat, and it falls back.

Iran saw a moment like this, less than two years ago, he recalls. The students, the unions, suddenly they scented weakness. Their frustrations with their Islamist rulers overflowed in the aftermath of the fraudulent presidential elections. They boiled.

But the West failed them. The West, and specifically, a new, untried president, hesitated. The moment was lost. The mullahs slammed the lid on.

This time, says Sharansky – in this fascinating conversation which took place at his chairman’s office in the Jewish Agency headquarters – Barack Obama is sending smarter signals. And Israel, he insists, must internalize how fortunate we are that the revolt is unfolding today in countries where the Islamists are not yet strong enough to sweep into power, in countries dependent on American aid, in countries where the West can yet seek to make its influence felt.

The unholy, unsustainable pact between the West and the dictators of the Middle East is being severed, as it should be, says Sharansky. It is being severed by the people. And their will must be done.

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Saturday, February 5, 2011

Egypt, Israel, The Muslim Brotherhood and the West's Myopia when it Comes to all Things Israel

Several different perspectives on the crisis in Egypt. At present, it's hard to know what will be when the dust and sand storm settles, but one thing is certain. No Israeli leader worth his salt would make any dramatic moves until there is a surer sense of what direction things will go, and that could takes many months, if not years. Which makes Thomas Friedman look a bit silly when he suggests that now is the time for Israel to "strike a deal" with the Palestinians B.E., Before Egypt. A.E., After Egypt. Below, David Suissa on the hypocrisy and short-sightedness of the Israel bashing crowd, wasting precious energies putting Israel under a microscope when gross abuses have been perpetrated by every neighboring country against their own people for decades; Yossi Klein Halevi with more on Israel's neighborhood and what to be watching for, and a host of other thoughtful commentaries on the what the fires in Egypt may mean for Israel, America, the Middle East, and beyond.

While self-righteous Israel bashers have scrutinized every flaw in Israel's democracy -- some waxing hysterical that the Jewish democratic experiment in the world's nastiest neighborhood has turned into an embarrassment -- they kept their big mouths shut about the oppression of millions of Arabs throughout the Middle East.
They cried foul if Israeli Arabs -- who have infinitely more rights and freedoms than any Arabs in the Middle East -- had their rights compromised in any way. But if a poet was jailed in Jordan or a gay man was tortured in Egypt or a woman was stoned in Syria, all we heard was screaming silence.
Think of the ridiculous amount of media ink and diplomatic attention that has been poured onto the Israel-Palestinian conflict over the years, while much of the Arab world was suffering and smoldering, and tell me this is not criminal negligence. Do you ever recall seeing a U.N. resolution or an international conference in support of Middle Eastern Arabs not named Palestinians?
Of course, now that the Arab volcano has finally erupted, all those chronic Israel bashers have suddenly discovered a new cause: Freedom for the poor oppressed Arabs of the Middle East!

Israel Never Looked So Good
David Suissa

His column this week in the Huffington Post and the Jewish Journal:

They all warned us. The geniuses at Peace Now. The brilliant diplomats. The think tanks. Even the Arab dictators warned us. For decades now, they have been warning us that if you want "peace in the Middle East," just fix the Palestinian problem. A recent variation on this theme has been: Just get the Jews in the West Bank and East Jerusalem to "freeze" their construction, and then, finally, Palestinian leaders might come to the table and peace might break out.

And what would happen if peace would break out between Jews and Palestinians? Would all those furious Arabs now demonstrating on the streets of Cairo and across the Middle East feel any better? Would they feel less oppressed?

What bloody nonsense.

Israel's Neighborhood Watch - Egypt's Upheaval Means that Palestine Must Wait (quite the contrast to Thomas Friedman's message)
Yossi Klein Halevi
Until a decade ago, every Israeli government was committed to a security doctrine that precluded the establishment of potential bases of terrorism on Israel's borders. That doctrine has since unraveled. In May 2000, Israel's unilateral withdrawal from southern Lebanon led to the formation of a Hizbullah-dominated region on Israel's northern border. Then, in August 2005, Israel's unilateral withdrawal from Gaza led to the rise of Hamas on Israel's southern border. As a result, two enclaves controlled by Islamist movements now possess the ability to launch missile attacks against any population center in Israel. And Iran, through its proxies, is now effectively pressing against Israel's borders.
For Israel's policymakers, the nightmare scenario of the recent Egyptian upheaval is that Islamists will eventually assume control as the clerics did in Iran. Such a turn of events would bring to power an anti-Semitic movement that is committed to ending Egypt's peace treaty with the Jewish state. "This could be the beginning of a 1948 moment," a senior Israeli official told me, meaning that Israel could eventually face a multifront war against overwhelming odds.
Even a relatively more benign outcome - such as the Turkish model - would mean the end of Israel's sense of security along its long southern border. And this will certainly adversely affect the Israeli public's willingness to relinquish the West Bank anytime soon. With peace with Egypt suddenly in doubt, Israelis are wondering about the wisdom of risking further withdrawals for agreements that could be abrogated with a change of regime. (Foreign Affairs)

How to Avoid an Iran-Like Tragedy in Egypt - Michael Rubin
Few Egyptians will mourn Hosni Mubarak's downfall. As a guest observer at Mubarak's 2006 National Democratic Party convention, I watched as senior officials cut microphone power to party members who used their speeches to complain about economic issues. Even the army will not be sad to see Mubarak go, after he tried to force his son to be his successor against the wishes of the generals.
A Muslim Brotherhood victory is not assured, however. Egyptians remained scarred by the Islamist violence the group encouraged in the 1990s. As tourism revenue plummeted, Egyptians felt the bite in their wallets. Likewise, while Egyptian animus toward Israel remains high, the Brotherhood's warning that "the people should be prepared for war against Israel" will turn off Egyptians who resent conscription and have no wish to see sons and husbands leave their jobs to fight at a new front. (American Enterprise Institute)

Hamas, the Brotherhood and Egypt - WSJ Editorial
Hovering like a dark cloud over the demonstrations in Egypt is the memory of the 2006 Palestinian parliamentary elections. For critics of the Bush administration, those elections, in which Hamas scored an unanticipated win, were proof that the "freedom agenda" would only grease the way for anti-American, Islamist parties to come to power. Those who believe that a democratic Egypt is doomed to fall into the Muslim Brotherhood's hands frequently cite the 2006 elections as Exhibit A. But the lesson of those elections is that Hamas should not have been allowed to participate, not that elections should never have been held.
If the Brotherhood wants to participate in elections, it should have to promise to play by democratic rules, respect religious and social pluralism, and honor Egypt's treaty commitments, especially to Israel. (Wall Street Journal)

A Quick Mubarak Exit Is Too Risky - Edward N. Luttwak
The Obama administration, like much of the world, is not reacting to the situation in Egypt - a mostly rural country populated mainly by poor peasants. It is reacting to the media spectacle in the center of Cairo, in which huge but largely middle-class crowds have gathered to demand President Hosni Mubarak's removal. The few journalists who speak colloquial Egyptian Arabic report that among the poor majority of the population many still support Mubarak.
Elite opinion in the West is almost unanimous that Mubarak must go now. Fears of an Islamist takeover are overblown, they argue. It is not often recalled that Hamas is simply the Gaza branch of the Muslim Brotherhood, which won power by election - and now refuses to hold more elections.
As for Israel, it is likely to lose an ally in Egypt but unlikely to face a military threat any time soon: The U.S.-equipped Egyptian armed forces could not fight a war without U.S. supplies - and it would take at least $20 billion and 10 years to re-equip them with non-U.S. weapons. The writer is a senior adviser at the Center for Strategic and International Studies. (Wall Street Journal)

After Mubarak - Amir Taheri
Conventional wisdom claims that only Arab despots can ensure Israel's security. In fact, all the wars against Israel were started by such despots. If Egypt becomes a democracy, it will be harder to deny the Iranian people's demand for self-determination. But if Egypt falls under Islamist domination, the mullahs still wind up losers: An Egypt governed by the Muslim Brotherhood would represent a clear and present Sunni threat to Iran's ambitions to dominate the region in the name of Shiite Islam. (New York Post)

Desert Storm - Yossi Melman
For more than 30 years, Egypt has been Israel's best strategic ally in the region and part of a larger axis consisting of the U.S. and the so-called "pro-Western moderate regimes." Though Mubarak, a former commander of the air force who fought in the wars against Israel, was committed to the peace with Israel signed in 1979, he didn't allow the relationship between Egypt and Israel to prosper and be extended. Israel called it the "cold peace." But Mubarak's Egypt protected Israel's southern flank, enabling Israel to cut security budgets, enjoy economic prosperity, and divert its attention to the north, where enemies such as Hizbullah, Syria, and Iran posed much graver threats.
More recently, secret intelligence cooperation was flourishing under the guidance of General Omar Suleiman, the intelligence chief recently named vice president, who has frequently traveled to Israel for clandestine meetings with security officials. Israel and Egypt shared a mutual fear of a nuclear Iran, and a deep concern about the emergence of an Islamist entity led by Hamas in Gaza. The two regimes also saw eye-to-eye regarding efforts to uproot Sinai-based cells of al-Qaeda. (Tablet)

The Egyptian Military and the Fate of the Regime - Jeffrey White
The Egyptian Armed Forces (EAF) is perhaps the key actor in the current crisis. Since the Egyptian revolution of 1952, the military has played a key role in domestic political life. Every president since the revolution has been a military man, and military officials, active or retired, have occupied key positions in the government throughout the country's modern history. The military is not immune to penetration by external political forces, especially radical Islamism. Several plots against the regime, including the assassination of President Anwar Sadat, have been based in the military and influenced by radical Islamist ideas. (Washington Institute for Near East Policy)

Israel Faces Danger in Every Direction - David Horovitz
Egypt's blink-of-an-eye descent into instability underlines afresh the uniqueness of Israel, that embattled sliver of enlightened land in a largely dictatorial region. Those who like to characterize it as the root of all the Middle East's problems look particularly foolish: the people on the streets aren't enraged by Israel, but because their countries are so unlike Israel, so lacking in the freedoms and economic opportunities that both Israeli Jews and Israeli Arabs take for granted.
For a generation, Israel has been trying to widen the circle of normalization - to win acceptance as a state among states. We made peace with Egypt, then with Jordan. We built ties with Morocco and the Gulf. We have reached out to the Syrians and Palestinians. Now, for the first time in more than 30 years, we see that momentum reversing. We see that all our borders are now "in play" - that the Israel Defense Forces must overhaul their strategy to meet the possibility of dangers in every direction. The writer is editor-in-chief of The Jerusalem Post. (Telegraph-UK)

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