Pope Resigns for Health Reasons

Pope Benedict XVI is resigning for reasons of health, effective February 28. This is the first time a pope has resigned in 600 years.

Benedict has been recognized by Jewish leaders for clearly stating that the Jewish people are not responsible for the death of Jesus. Although this has been an official church policy for at least half a century, there is a detailed account in the Pope’s book.

When the Pope, a German, was first elected, there was concern in the Jewish world, since he had been a member of the Hitler Youth and the German army during the World War II era.

Sticks & Stones: Review of “Pressing Israel”


Lee Bender and Jerome R. Verlin

“Sticks and stones may break my bones, but words will never hurt me!” Nowhere is this saying more false than in the conflict over Israel. Is Israel the “light to the nations?” Or is Israel the cause of so many global problems? Why, in world public opinion polls, is Israel consistently voted one of the most negatively rated nations of the world?

Local Philadelphia area authors, Lee Bender and Jerome Verlin, have recently published a timely book titled: Pressing Israel: Media Bias Exposed from A to Z. They extensively document their case that the Main Stream Media frames the Israeli Jewish-Muslim conflict in terms that favor the Muslims. They explain why it matters. And they give an example of our own Philadelphia Inquirer publishing a more balanced report, as a result of a letter writing campaign. Their book also provides an extensive background of the history and politics of Israel.

More after the jump.
One of the authors, Jerome Verlin, has written a weekly column. This style of standalone articles is carried over in the book. The chapters are each complete in themselves. It is possible to go directly to a section of interest, without reading the entire book. On the other hand, this results in some information being repeated in multiple locations.

The beginning of the book consists of a series of short articles, one for each letter of the alphabet: A Apartheid, B Borders, C Creation-of-Israel, etc. Each article includes extensive documentation from the Philadelphia Inquirer. The second half of the book has more in-depth coverage of the history and politics of the region, including quotes from key individuals.

Media Bias Against Israel

The Main Stream Media frames their reporting by what they include and by what they leave out. Words have implications and shades of meaning. Although the book was published before Operation Pillar of Defense, their comments about Gazan rocket attacks and the Iron Dome defense system could have been written today

According to Bender and Verlin, one of the major examples of media bias is writing that IDF defensive actions and Palestinian attacks on Israeli civilians are morally equivalent. The media report that Palestinian “militants” or “factions” launch rockets at Israel and Israel “retaliates” with air strikes, as if the two groups were on the same level. The authors write that it would be more accurate to report that Gazan terrorists shoot rockets at Israeli population centers, hoping to kill civilian men, women and children. In defense, the IDF strikes those terrorists, their rocket launchers and weapons caches. As Alan Dershowitz says, it is as if the arsonist and the firefighter were moral equals. Hamas is happy to deliberately kill Israeli Jewish civilians and happy for the media publicity if Israel accidentally kills Gazan civilians when the IDF shoots back at missile launchers in self-defense.

Two-State Solution or a One-and-a-Half-State Solution?

Both Palestinian National Authority President Mahmoud Abbas and Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu have stated that they accept the “Two State Solution.” Netanyahu has referred to the Arab position as “two states for a people-and-a-half.”

Netanyahu explains that his plan is a Jewish State of Israel that gives full citizenship to its current Arab residents, living in peace alongside a Palestinian Arab State. However, Abbas is quoted as saying that he will never accept a Jewish State. All Jews must be removed from the future Palestinian Arab State, including from the Old City section of Jerusalem. In addition, the descendants of Muslim Arab “refugees” currently living in Gaza, Judea and Samaria, Jordan, Lebanon, Syria and elsewhere, must be resettled in Israel, which will not be a Jewish state. The Arabs get a Muslim, Palestinian State. And Israel is shared between the current one million Israeli Arab Muslim citizens, the four million descendents of Arab Muslim “refugees” under the “right of return” and the 6 million Jews. So the Arab Muslims get one and a half states and the Jews get what is left over in a shared, non-Jewish State.

(The authors supply numerous documented quotes that spokesmen for Hamas have publicly stated their plans to eliminate the Jews from Israel, as their long term goal.)

Conclusion

Pressing Israel is a good introduction to the Israel-Muslim conflict as well as a valuable reference for those who are already knowledgeable about the Middle East situation. It can be referred to in discussions and is useful for preparing letters to the editor. It would be helpful to college students who are facing anti-Zionist protests on campus.

If a second edition is published, the printed, paper version of the book would be even more valuable as a reference if an index was added. A fully searchable version of the book is already available as a Kindle e-book from Amazon.com, making an index for the electronic version unnecessary.

Philadelphia Theatre Company’s 35th Anniversary Dazzles Audience


(left to right) Ken Kaiserman, long-time Philadelphia Theatre Company (PTC) board member and past president, was congratulated on his being honored at the 35th anniversary gala by Mayor Michael Nutter and CBS3’s Pat Ciarrocchi, who served as auction host.

— by Bonnie Squires

The Philadelphia Theatre Company (PTC) dazzled hundreds of supporters with its 35th Anniversary celebration Gala, honoring long-time board member Kenneth S. Kaiserman of Kaiserman Company, Inc., and PTC Producing Artistic Director Sara Garonzik on Monday, June 6 at 6PM in the Grand Ballroom of the Hyatt at the Bellevue.  Governor Ed Rendell served as master of ceremonies, and his son Jesse beamed approvingly from the first table down front.

In addition to the honorees, Rendell praised Suzanne and Ralph Roberts, and Carl Dranoff, the developer of Symphony House, which houses the Suzanne Roberts Theatre, the permanent home of the Philadelphia Theatre Company.

The evening featured appearances by multiple Tony- and Emmy-award-winner Tyne Daly, star of  the upcoming revival of Terrence McNally’s Master Class on Broadway; Broadway and film star Kathleen Turner, who starred in PTC’s world premiere of Red Hot Patriot: The Kick-Ass Wit of Molly Ivins; Tony Award-winner and frequent PTC performer John Glover; Quentin Darrington, star of the recent revival of Ragtime; and the glorious voice of Alexandra Silber.  

More after the jump.


 (left to right) Jesse Rendell joined Paula Cohen, Richard Green, chairman of Firstrust Bank, and Tim Abell, president of Firstrust Bank, for the festivities at the Bellevue Stratford-Park Hyatt.

A highlight of the Gala was the announcement of the establishment of the Terrence McNally New Play Award presented by Philadelphia Theatre Company annually starting in 2012 in honor of great American playwright, Terrence McNally. McNally  took to the stage to explain that the award recipient will be a playwright who has written a full-length work that celebrates the transformative power of art. Philadelphia Theatre Company premiered Master Class and Golden Age, two of McNally’s works that capture the spirit of this award, which consists of a cash prize for the playwright as well as development support from PTC.


(left to right) Jeffrey Riesenbach, Rachel Hancock, CBS3’s Pat Ciarrocchi, and Cookie and Jerry Riesenbach, Esq., were delighted with the Philadelphia Theatre Company’s 35th anniversary gala, especially since Jerry is a past president of the PTC board and both Cookie and Jerry served on the gala committee.

Sara Garonzik, Producing Artistic Director, has directed and produced for Philadelphia Theatre Company since 1982, and introduced more than 140 world or regional premieres of major new American plays and musicals to Philadelphia. Sara is listed in “Who’s Who of American Women” and was named one of Business Philadelphia’s and Philadelphia Magazine’s “People to Watch.” She currently serves as a Board Member of the Arts & Business Council of Greater Philadelphia, as President of the Board of the Philadelphia Cultural Fund and on the Advisory Board of PlayPenn, a new play development organization.


(left to right) Howard and Phyllis Fischer; Ron Kaiserman; and Bernie Brownstein, joined the hundreds of supporters at the PTC 35th anniversary gala.

Kenneth S. Kaiserman has served on Philadelphia Theatre Company’s Board of Directors for 34 years, and chaired PTC’s Capital Campaign to build the Suzanne Roberts Theatre. Ken is also a Board Member of Brandeis University, Friends of Rittenhouse Square, North American Conference on Ethiopian Jewry, the Philadelphia Museum of Art, and the Jewish Federation of Greater Philadelphia. Ken is President of Kaiserman Company, Inc., a real estate development firm which owns and operates commercial and multi-residential property in the tri-state region.


Ralph and Suzanne Roberts were delighted with the support expressed for the Philadelphia Theatre Company and its permanent home at the Suzanne Roberts Theatre.

Co-chaired by Brigitte F. Daniel, Carol Saline and Paul Rathblott, the Gala combines an entertainment-filled evening and an opportunity to bid on tokens of affection including romantic get-aways, candlelight dinners for two at some of the area’s finest restaurants, one-of-a-kind experiences, jewelry, crafts, and VIP tickets to sports and cultural events.

Founded in 1974, Philadelphia Theatre Company is a leading regional theater company whose mission is to produce, develop and present entertaining and imaginative contemporary theater focused on the American experience that both ignites the intellect and touches the soul.  By developing new work through commissions, readings and workshops PTC generates projects that have a national impact and reach broad regional audiences.  Under the leadership of Sara Garonzik as PTC’s Producing Artistic Director since 1982, PTC supports the work of a growing body of diverse dramatists and takes pride in being a home to scores of nationally recognized artists who have participated in more than 130 world and Philadelphia premieres.  PTC has received 45 Barrymore Awards and 147 nominations.  In October 2007, PTC moved into a home of its own, the Suzanne Roberts Theatre on Center City Philadelphia’s Avenue of the Arts, solidifying the Company’s status as a major player on the American theater scene.  In October 2010, Kathleen Nolan joined PTC as its Interim Managing Director.

Photo Credit: Bonnie Squires