Israel Resource Review 27th September, 2005


Coping with Substance Abuse in the Jewish World
Jonathan Feldstein and Yaakov Ort

There is nothing more spiritually different than the "L'Chaims" that many Jews make on the secular holiday of New Year's Eve, and the contemplation of the purpose and meaning of our lives that we make on the solemn Holy Day of Rosh Hashanah.

For addicts and alcoholics, whose excess of "L'Chaims" have brought disaster to their lives and to the lives of their loved ones, there is perhaps no day on the Jewish calendar that is more crucial to their recovery than Rosh Hashanah, the day on which we acknowledge the sovereignty of God over every aspect of our lives.

The verbal acknowledgement on Rosh Hashanah that there is a Creator who can and will provide us with the material and spiritual means to lead a meaningful, joyous life, is one of the first steps to teshuva (repentance, or return) of any kind, for any person. It certainly is one of the first steps to recovery from addiction to alcohol or drugs.

On Rosh Hashanah the addict and alcoholic stands with his or her fellow Jews all over the world, regardless of denomination, sect or label, and together, each saying in our own way to the God of our individual understanding:

"We believe in You. Please help us to change."

From magnificent synagogues and temples, to humble Chassidic shteiblach, to isolated military outposts, and to those places in this world where we still can not pray with our fellow Jews, we ask God on Rosh Hashanah to help us to change --not only to change our own individual lives, but we ask God to bestow goodness, strength, health and prosperity on us, so that we can help to change the lives of others.

To the addict and alcoholic, it is necessary not only to rely on God's help, but to be willing, often for the first time, to rely on the help of others. The addict often builds barriers of lies to hide his addiction. Perhaps worse, when he gets so far along that he is incapable of caring for himself, or does not care about what others think, his grave physical danger his life, hovering on the verge of death - becomes a sad and frightening reality to all of his loved ones.

And of course an addict is not always a he. Women suffer from substance abuse, perhaps for different reasons, at a rate more or less the same as men. Often men are, or have been, a catalyst to a woman's addiction. But regardless of the causes, when men or women suffer from addiction, their children suffer as well, both those living and those not yet born. Proportionally, children of addicts are more inclined to become addicts themselves. Physical, psychological and emotional distress will follow these children the rest of their lives.

On Rosh Hashanah, addicts and the alcoholics are given this opportunity, as on no other day, to acknowledge their reliance on God, and on the rest of us, to begin or to sustain their recovery.

But can we be relied upon to help?

In Israel, the Israel Anti-Drug and Alcohol Authority (IADAA) leads the fight to end the plague of substance abuse, a problem that harms all Israelis, across the range of its geographic, ethnic and religious spectrum, preventing Israel and Israelis from realizing their potential. Its' efforts are supported by the Israel Anti Drug Abuse Foundation (IADAF) in the US, which has raised millions of dollars to help launch and support programs in Israel that are pillars of both education and prevention, and treatment and rehabilitation.

One of the greatest barriers to our work is the fact that many Jews still believe the myth that there is no problem of substance abuse in the Jewish community. Sadly this is not the case. As much as we'd like to hope that these organizations are not really necessary, the opposite is true. At this stage, with Israel still facing massive budget cuts in its social services, not enough can be done. And because substance abuse in the Jewish community is not limited to Israel, IADAA and IADAF have initiated dialogues with Diaspora communities to offer its services there in the context of a Jewish environment. The notion of Israel reaching out in this manner to help Diaspora communities, in their communities, is virtually unprecedented. But the problem of drugs and alcohol facing Jews all around the world is one that needs to be addressed for the well being of us all individually, and communally.

Our hopes and prayers for the New Year are about turning a new leaf, hope for the future, being willing to change, with God's help. For addicts, this is easier said than done. We must realize that substance abuse is indeed a Jewish problem, and a problem that impacts us all. Individuals who abuse drugs and alcohol need our help, as do those most prone to such a problem. For everyone else, programs offering education and prevention needs to be front and center.

In this New Year, let us hope that Jewish institutions and entire communities will put substance abuse, and prevention, at the top of their agenda. It's not an issue that we like to address, but it is one that must be addressed because the human and actual cost to the community and its resources is damaging beyond imagination.

May this year bring us life, health, peace and prosperity, and may all of our "L'Chaim's" truly be To Life.

Jonathan Feldstein, based in Jerusalem, is the Exec. Director of the Israel Anti Drug Abuse Foundation,, (, 646-452-9939.

Yaakov Ort is a vice president of JACS (Jewish Alcoholics, Chemically Dependent Persons and Significant Others) a program of the Jewish Board of Family and Children's Services of New York. Professionally, he is Group Director of Creative Services at The New York Times.

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"Can't Buy Me Love" : The Folly of Woflensohn and Zuckerman and the Green Houses of Katif
Dr. Alex Grobman

When James Wolfensohn and Mort Zuckerman raised $14 million to buy the Gush Katif hothouses from Israeli farmers to give to the Palestinians, many people were surprised. "We thought it was a chance to show the Palestinians that there were more benefits from cooperation than confrontation," Zuckerman explained.

Zuckerman's New York Daily News reported on September 22 that " a week after they [Palestinians] descended like locusts on the greenhouses . . . looters continue to pillage what should be a prize asset for a fledgling Palestinian state." In response to this wanton destruction, Zuckerman said, "I'm just sad that they are cutting off their noses to spite their faces. . . . It's almost inexplicable."

Later in the same article, 29-year-old Samir Al-Najar explained why he and eight of his men destroyed a half-acre greenhouse at the Neveh Dekalim settlement. He would probably rebuild the greenhouses he said, "but I want the greenhouses to be our own, not Jewish ones."

Attempts to convince the Arabs that they have more to gain materially by embracing the Jewish State than by trying to destroy it, is not a new phenomenon. Yosef Gorny notes that in 1907, Yitzhak Epstein, an intellectual and teacher, declared that the Arabs "must, for its own good let the Jews into the country, for it is powerless to improve its situation and to extricate itself from its poverty and ignorance by its own efforts; only our people can provide for their needs." It was to be a win-win situation. The Jews would reclaim their homeland and the Arabs would be able to improve their lives.

In 1921,Winston Churchill, then Colonial Secretary, echoed the same theme of "economic blessing" on a visit to Palestine. He urged the Arabs to give Zionism a "fair chance," since Zionism would be "accompanied by a general diffusion of wealth and well-being.and by an advance in the social, scientific and cultural life of the people as a whole."

David Ben-Gurion, Israel's first prime minister, said he shared the view of many early Zionists that Jews would be welcomed back once the economic progress they brought with them "would convey a blessing to the Arab people." Years later he admitted that he was "nave then to imagine .that the Arabs think like us." In 1936, for example, he acknowledged that "the economic blessing" had no impact on Arab leaders: "Even if they admit-and not all of them do-that our immigration brings material blessing to the land, [t]hey say-and from the Arab viewpoint I think rightly so-'None of your honey and none of your sting.'"

Al-Najar's rejection of the Jewish hothouses was the same sentiment expressed to Ben-Gurion by a leading Arab intellectual in the 1960's. The Arab leader acknowledged the achievements the Jews had created in Israel, but it was irrelevant to him. He wanted the land to remain desolate until the Arabs themselves were capable of achieving these same feats. Even if this would take a hundred years, he was prepared to wait.

Disregarding the experiences of previous Israeli leaders, Shimon Peres continued to espouse this failed approach in the early 1990's when he said, "A higher standard of living is a precondition for mitigating the tensions among the Middle Eastern countries." He wanted to fight poverty in the region "as if were a military threat." That the Arabs have never renounced their desire to destroy Israel, that they persist in teaching hatred of Jews in their schools under Mohammad Abbas and assailing them in their mosques is either ignored or only perfunctory demands are made that it be stopped.

In light of the Wolfensohn-Zucker fiasco, perhaps we should finally understand that the Arabs will not be bought off. Zeev Jabotinsky, leader of the Revisionists, appreciated this fact in 1925 when he wrote, ". I do not believe that we can reconcile them [the Arabs] to the possibility of a Jewish Palestine by offering them the bribe of economic amelioration. "

The destruction of the hothouses and of the synagogues in Gush Katif raises fundamental questions about the nature of Israel's "peace partners." What type of people delights in destroying synagogues, continues to live in squalor out of sense of pride, yet takes hand-outs from the U.N., and when given a thriving business opportunity levels the site because they want to build their own someday? The British, the U.S., the European Union and Israel have enabled Arab leaders to engage in this self-destructive behavior for decades by giving in to their endless whiny and unjustified demands, providing them with money that is rarely used for the welfare of their people, and not holding them accountable to agreements they make.

As long as the West and Israel continues this pathological response, the Arabs will wallow in their own self-pity, glory in their victimhood and focus their energy on ways to destroy Israel and the West.

Dr. Alex Grobman has an MA and Ph.D. from the Hebrew University in contemporary Jewish history.

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How Sharon won: Business interests override concerns for security
David Bedein


To the outside observer, the internal schism in Israel's ruling Likud political party might seem to be quite confusing.

After all, the three pretenders for party leadership current Israeli Prime Miinister Ariel Sharon, former Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, and former Israeli Minister of Public Security, Uzi Landau, are all well known as uncompromising hard liners in the fight against Palestinian terrorism.

All three have served in Likud governments which have ceded territory of the land of Israel in exchange for peace accords with Israel's Arab neighbors.

So where is the schism?

Over the matter of the unilateral handover of land to the PLO, without any agreement, accord or understanding.

During the last Israeli general election, in February, 2003, the only Israeli political parties to advocate such a position of unilateral land transfer were the Israel Communist Party and the Israeli Arab political parties.

Unlike other Israeli left wing parties and entities such as Labor, Meretz and Peace Now, all of whom advocate the concept of territories for peace, the position of the Israeli Communist Party and the three Israeli Arab political parties now represented in Israel's Knesset Parliament was more doctrinaire . . . Give them land; It is theirs; Ask for nothing.

Now, to the surprise of almost every pundit on the Israeli political spectrum, Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon led his Likud party to outflank the Israeli Zionist left and instead urged Likud to adopt the unilateral withdrawal platform of the Israeli Communist Party and the Israeli Arabs.

And not only did Sharon speak about adopting their platform: Sharon implemented their platform with a lightening sweep expulsion of all 21 of the economically viable Jewish communities from the Katif District of Gaza, along with the total eviction of four Jewish communities in Northern Samaria, in the span of less than one month, between August 15th, 2005 and September 12th, 2005.

And last night, Sharon staved aff an an initiative in the 3,000 member Likud central committee to advance the Likud primary election, which might have cost him his job, at least for another six months, when the next Likud primary was >originally scheduled to take place

All this occurred while Palestinian cannons from Gaza were ablaze, attacking Israeli towns and villages throughout southern Israel.

What incentive could Sharon offer his hard line Likud constituency? One need look no farther than Israel's leading economic newspaper, Globes, whose headlines have been reminding Israeli business people that business in the short tenm with the Palestinian Authority is good business. Israel exports during the year 2004 to the Palestinian Authority surpassed two billion dollars, while less than 400 million dollars worth of goods were imported from the P.A.

And the man whom Sharon appointed to administer the expulsion of the Jewish communities from Gaza, General Eival Giladi, has also been named to run the Portland Foundation, the British owned development foundation which will now invest more than half a billion dollars into the Palestinian Gaza economy.

The main investor in that Portland Foundation is British billionaire Sir Ronald Cohen, a close advisor to the chancellor of the Exchequer, Mr. Gordon Brown. On the day of the Likud primany. Brown announced that he would come to Gaza to oversee this mass investment, much of will flow back into Israel, while benefiting Israeli contractors who will continue to work with Palestinian laborers for Israeli industries.

How many of these contractors happen to be members of the Likud Central Committee may have had a bearing on last night's vote which kept Sharon in power.

These are times when short term business interests override concerns for national security.

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