National/World US/World News

BRIEFS: 11/16/12

Israel among leaders in space research
At a cabinet meeting on Nov. 11, Science and Technology Minister Daniel Hershkowitz highlighted how Israel is among the top five global leaders in developing satellite research systems. According to Hershkowitz, Israel has launched 13 satellites that have collectively accumulated 66 orbiting years and achieved 100 percent orbit mission successes. Hershkowitz also described how Israel has several partnerships with other nations, including satellites that focus on agricultural and environmental monitoring as well as pinpointing areas for rescuers in remote areas or disaster zones. Israel is also partnering with NASA in an interplanetary satellite mission. In addition to Israel’s satellite projects, Hershkowitz also promoted the SPACEIL program, an initiative by an Israeli non-profit company to win Google’s $20 million Lunar X Prize by successfully landing a robot on the surface of the moon and sending images back by the end of 2015.

The Forward names top Jewish Americans
By Jean Savage
( The Jewish Daily Forward has published its annual list of the top 50 influential Jewish Americans with some new faces, polarizing figures and traditional Jewish mainstays, spanning the wide array of Jewish impact on American today. New to the “Forward 50” this year are video profiles of each of the Top Five — Republican mega-donor Sheldon Adelson, Olympian Aly Raisman, composer Philip Glass, do-it-all HBO TV star Lena Dunham and Agudath Israel of America Executive Vice President Rabbi David Zweibel. Also included are popular celebrity personalities like Jon Stewart and the controversial political writer Peter Beinart. The emerging impact of the Orthodox community was featured with Rabbi Meir Soloveichik, who delivered the invocation at the Republican National Convention.

Israel considering offensive as Gaza rocket fire escalates
( Responding to a barrage of more than 150 rockets fired at the Jewish state by Gaza terrorists, a senior Israeli minister told Israel Radio on Tuesday that “Sooner or later there will be a wide-ranging military offensive in Gaza. There is no doubt it will come when the time is right. It won’t be a limited, pin-point operation, but rather a deep military action against the terror infrastructure in the Gaza Strip.” Israeli Vice Prime Minister Silvan Shalom told Army Radio that Israel “has no choice but to perform targeted assassinations against Hamas leaders, and then maybe even send ground forces into Gaza.” Shalom said. Defense Minister Ehud Barak also suggested that Israel may have to invade Gaza again. “If we have to re-renter Gaza to strike at Hamas we will not hesitate to do so,” Barak said.
The latest escalation marks a dangerous turn of events. While Israel ultimately holds Hamas responsible for all rocket fire from Gaza, the terrorist group has largely refrained from taking part in the activity until this weekend. But Hamas has been under pressure from smaller extremist groups—some affiliated with al-Qaeda—in Gaza, to maintain armed resistance against Israel.

Israel dragged into Syrian civil war
( For the first time since the 1973 Yom Kippur War, the Israel Defense Forces on Sunday fired an artillery missile toward Syria in response to a Syrian mortar shell that exploded near an IDF post at Tel Hazeka in the eastern Golan Heights. The missile was fired at the artillery battery of the Syrian army, which has been fighting rebel forces near the village of Bir al-Ajami in the northern Golan Heights. The IDF believes the Syrian mortar shell was launched in an exchange of fire between the Syrian army and rebels near the Israeli border. The shelling is the most recent in a series of incidents in recent weeks in which Syrian fire reached Israeli territory.

Former presidential advisor recalls first impressions of Israel
( The first time David Gergen saw the Middle East, while accompanying President Richard Nixon, he witnessed a stark contrast between Israel and the region’s other countries. In Arab countries, Gergen only saw “desert and poverty” on that trip 40 years ago, but in Israel he saw a “garden” and concluded that “we can never let this disappear,” the CNN senior political analyst and former presidential advisor for Nixon, Gerald Ford, Ronald Reagan and Bill Clinton said at the opening plenary session of the Jewish Federations of North America (JFNA) General Assembly in Baltimore on Sunday. “The innovation, the vitality, the spirit of those people is something that has continued to impress me to this day,” Gergen said of Israelis.

Author Philip Roth calls it quits
( Prolific Jewish-American author Philip Roth, 79, has decided to retire after a career that lasted more than 50 years, his publisher Houghton Mifflin confirmed Nov. 9. “I have dedicated my life to the novel: I studied, I taught, I wrote and I read. With the exclusion of almost everything else. Enough is enough! I no longer feel this fanaticism to write what I have experienced in my life,” Roth said in a recent interview. Roth gained fame with his 1959 book “Goodbye, Columbus” and later, in1969, with “Portnoy’s Complaint,” in which he gained international fame for his psychoanalytical monologue of “a lust-ridden, mother-addicted young Jewish bachelor.” He later won a Pulitzer Prize for his 1997 novel” American Pastoral.” His final book is the short story “Nemesis,” published in 2010.

Israeli app helps with Hurricane Sandy relief efforts
( The U.S. government recruited the assistance of the Israeli-developed navigation app Waze, which incorporates a social networking element, to deal with gasoline shortages on the East Coast in the aftermath of Hurricane Sandy. Using data posted by Waze users on the conditions of various gas stations, FEMA has been able to better determine where gas trucks should be sent, the technology news website GigaOM reported. Waze was contacted by the government Nov. 9 and promptly launched a system allowing users to leave chat messages regarding the availability of gas and lines at the stations, the app’s vice president of platforms and partnerships Di-Ann Eisnor said. Waze’s navigational maps have featured pins to indicate gas stations that remain open.

500+ rabbis push for Gross’ release
( Judy Gross, wife of jailed Jewish-American contractor Alan Gross, said Sunday at a rally across from a Cuban Symphony Orchestra performance in West Palm Beach, Fla., that “the fastest way to open relations between the United States and Cuba and to promote important people-to-people exchanges is to free my husband.”  The 63-year-old Gross —  imprisoned in Cuba since Dec. 2009 for trying to bring that country’s Jewish community Internet access — has a tumor in his right shoulder that may be cancerous and “has not been adequately evaluated to modern medical standards” by Cuban doctors, according to a report by Dr. Alan A. Cohen. A group of 518 rabbis from 36 U.S. states and 12 countries sent a letter to Cuban President Raúl Castro advocating for the prisoner’s freedom on humanitarian grounds. “Alternatively, if despite his and his family’s suffering over the past three years in prison you remain determined to detain him,” the letter said,”we would urge you to allow a doctor of his choosing to evaluate and treat him for whatever medical conditions that he may have.”

IDF goes Hollywood
(Israel Hayom/Exclusive to In 2013, Brad Pitt will star in the Hollywood action flick titled “World War Z,” a movie based on the New York Times best-selling book of the same name by author Matt Brooks (son of Mel Brooks) about a zombie pandemic threatening to wipe out the human race. In the movie, the U.S., along with almost every other country, is unprepared for the attack.
Which country does take the zombie threat seriously? As the infection spreads, Israel is the only country to take the proper measures, initiating a nationwide quarantine and closing its borders to everyone except uninfected Jews and Palestinians seeking a safe haven from abroad. In the film, the Israeli government’s decision to include saving Palestinians nearly leads to a civil war. In the official trailer, actors playing Israeli soldiers can be seen shooting hoards of deadly zombies invading the Holy Land. As for countries like Pakistan and Iran, according to the plot they destroy each other in a nuclear war after the Iranian government attempts to stem the flow of Pakistani refugees.

Israel aids victims of Sandy and Ghana shopping center collapse
( Just days after Israel Flying Aid, an Israeli global humanitarian organization, distributed supplies of gas, food, batteries and generators to Hurricane Sandy victims, an IDF Home Front Command delegation departed for Ghana to assist search-and-rescue efforts following the collapse of a multi-story shopping center in the city of Accra that killed at least four people and trapped dozens. “As Israelis, we know how to react to such disasters,” said Flying Aid North American Operations Manager Moti Kahana. In the past, Israel has dispatched aid delegations to numerous disaster zones around the globe, including to Haiti following the 2010 earthquake that devastated that country and to Japan in 2011 after the earthquake and tsunami there.

‘Continuing a proud legacy’
Conversation with… “Chopped” Champ Adam Greenberg
Conversation with Joshua Drazen

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