This year marked the first in recent memory that the GA of the United Jewish Communities focused on the so-called next generation. As you’ve already heard from Leah Stern, there was quite a bit of youthful energy on site, and I was privileged to have participated on the same Peoplehood panel that Leah was on. At that panel, researcher David Bryfman noted that by using the term next generation we’re by definition creating barriers between the previous generation and our own, when we should be breaking down those barriers. (A paraphrase, but I thought it was an interesting point.)

On Monday morning, I was honored to have been part of a plenary that centered on innovative activities and initiatives that we are involved with: speaking after Ari Sandel of West Bank Story, Sarah Chasin, a college student who helped Katrina victims, Dany and Matan from Ayalim, and Idit Klein from Keshet; and then introducing – in front of a crowd of a few thousand people – Mobius for his speech about where the next great Jewish idea will come from, was a highlight of my November on the road (L.A., San Francisco, New Jersey, and Nashville… I think it’s over now).

Here are (what the video company employed by UJC considered) the highlights of my speech. The complete speech is available on my blog.

Thanks to Jewtube for making it embeddable.

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Esther Kustanowitz

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  • Why was the Arab terrorist appeaser Ari Sandel invited to the UJC conference? This jerk went to Dubai, which boycotts Israel, and equates Israel’s defensive actions to those of Arab terrorists.
    Why is the UJC iniviting our enemies especially since Ari wasn’t raised Jewish and his non-Jewish mother never converted. Why not invite a real Jewish pro-Israel filmaker and instead of a self-hating fraud? The UJC needs to do some explaining.
    For those of you who have no idea what I’m talking aobut the article below will explain everything.

    February 22, 2007
    “West Bank” Oscars: My Interview w/ Deranged Filmmaker Ari Sandel
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    By Debbie Schlussel

    Will the Academy Awards ever stop sympathizing with Islamic terrorists?

    Given recent history–and one of its chosen nominees for Sunday’s Oscars show–that’s doubtful.

    This year, the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences nominated “West Bank Story” for Best Live Action Short Film.

    A take-off on the movie musical classic, “West Side Story,” “West Bank Story” reduces unprovoked Islamic terrorism against innocent, mostly Jewish civilians to a Jets versus Sharks feud, solved with dancing, singing, and hummus. If only it were that simple.

    But it isn’t. In “West Bank Story,” the entire conflict is a matter of feuding kosher and Palestinian falafel restaurants. The entire conflict is solved after 20 minutes of musical numbers and hummus-eating. Apparently, filmmaker Ari Sandel hasn’t been paying attention to what really goes on in falafel shops–and behind Israel’s green line, not just the West Bank.

    Last year, on Mother’s Day, American teenager Daniel Wultz died from massive internal injuries he suffered while eating at Mayor’s Falafel restaurant in Tel Aviv. He and his father, Tuly Wultz, were having lunch during a Passover visit to Israel. A Miami Heat fan, he dreamed of becoming a rabbi. But there was no singing, dancing falafel musical for him.

    Instead of a Natalie Wood-Richard Beymer-style duet, the Wultzes were severely injured after Palestinian Sami Salim Ahmed entered the restaurant, pretending to be a falafel customer. He detonated a homicide bomb.

    It was father and son Wultz’s last meal together. After losing massive amounts of blood, suffering severe internal injuries, losing a kidney, his spleen, and a leg, the pain was too great, and Danny Wultz died at age 16.

    Lior Anidzar, a dirt-poor, working-class Israeli auto mechanic, met the same fate. A Sephardic Jew, the Anidzar family fled the Arab Muslim and its rampant anti-Semitism. But he could not escape it.

    Married just two weeks, Anidzar went to a nearby store to take his new wife out to lunch. She was not hungry, so he went by himself to Mayor’s Falafel for some falafel and shawarmeh. It was also his last meal. He was murdered at age 26.

    The undue early deaths of Daniel Wultz and Lior Anidzar, both Jews, at the hands of Palestinian homicide bomber are illustrative of what’s really happening in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. And what, far too often, is happening at falafel joints and bars and pizza shops throughout Israel.

    It’s not a moral equivalency musical, where both sides are equal.

    That this 20-minute movie boils it down to both sides fighting for control of the falafel industry is not just silly, callous, and obtuse, it’s worse–an abomination of the many living and dead who were maimed, many fatally, by the actions of these joyous people shown dancing over falafel. This isn’t a petty feud over ground chick-peas fried into balls. It’s over the right of the Jewish people to live in peace and freedom versus the avowed Islamic goal of annihilating them from the entire State of Israel.

    The politics of “West Bank Story’s” Director and Co-writer, Ari Sandel, are illuminating. He is involved with several far-left organizations with an admitted agenda in the Middle East. That includes “Peace Now,” at whose events Sandel promoted his movie. Peace Now is a far-left group of Israelis that advocates giving the entire West Bank and half of Jerusalem to the Palestinians. It has repeatedly advanced discredited claims of Palestinian ownership of land in the West Bank and Jerusalem. Sandel recognizes a Palestinian state and has traveled to Dubai, where Israeli citizens are not allowed entry due to the Arab Boycott.

    I interviewed Ari Sandel, earlier this week and was shocked by his incredible obtuseness and ignorance. Ditto for his views.

    He said he refuses to take a position on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and would not condemn Palestinian homicide bombings as evil on their own. He insisted that the Israelis were equally evil in killing Palestinians. I asked him if there’s a difference between Palestinians who deliberately blow up innocent civilians in a pizza shop and Israeli soldiers who accidentally hit civilians when they are trying to target terrorists and save lives. He refused to respond.

    Sandel, whose father is an Israeli, told me how proud he and his father were to travel to Dubai, despite its observance of the Arab Boycott of Israel and its state-funded sponsorship of anti-Semitic speakers and conspiracy theorists. He told me that he was proud to have his movie at a movie festival full of anti-Israel movies. I asked him why he didn’t show a movie that’s pro-Israel. He said he is on no-one’s side, only on the side of “hope and peace.” I asked him how we can achieve hope and peace while he glosses over deliberate mass murders of cafe patrons. He refused to answer.

    I asked Sandel if he would be opposed to showing a movie with the Nazis and their death camp victims as laughing, singing moral equals in a musical. He said, “Well, ‘Life is Beautiful’ won an Academy Award.” When I pointed out that “Life is Beautiful” was against the Nazis and was not a moral equivalency film, he tried to change the subject. I asked him if Jews and the Nazis are equal. No response.

    Sandel’s politics are in line with the apparent thoughts of the Academy.

    Last year, “Paradise Now,” a movie that sympathizes with Palestinian homicide bombers was among the Academy Award nominees. Fortunately, the Oscar didn’t go to that movie.

    But in previous years, the Oscars have been the scene for virulent anti-Israel sentiment. In 1978, when Vanessa Redgrave accepted her Oscar for Best Supporting Actress, she attacked Israel and “Zionist hoodlums.” I asked Sandel what he though of Redgrave’s speech. He said, “I have no idea what your talking about. I’ve never heard about that.” When I tried to tell him about it, he told me he’s very busy and has too many more important things to do.

    Yes, more important things . . . like portraying innocents like Daniel Wultz and Lior Anidzar–blown up while eating falafel–as singing, dancing equals to their murderer.

    Gee, Officer Krupke, give me a break.

    Although They Were Murdered Behind Israel’s Green Line, Here’s the Real “West Bank Story” . . .

    Danny Wultz’s Father Says Good-Bye to His Young Son,
    Murdered @ Falafel Shop

    Lior Anidzar’s Wife of 1.5 Months Says Good-Bye to Her New Husband,
    Murdered @ Falafel Shop
    Posted by Debbie at February 22, 2007 05:27 AM

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    it may be somewhat off topic, but another gang of hypocrites is cuddling up to Islamo-Nazis. I refer to the trip of operatives of the American Friends Service Committee [Quakers, although many Quakers don’t support the AFSC] and the Mennonite Church who traveled to visit the mad mullahs in Iran and went all gushy and gooey over the sweet fellows.
    It seems that the AFSC likes to make its own foreign policy, disregarding the Congress and the American people.
    The woman leading the delegation told the Teheran Times: “‘It was so moving to hear [that] Islam prohibits weapons of mass destruction.’ She added that many people in the U.S. are fearful about Iran, and, of course, are inflamed by the media.”
    Isn’t it nice to know that Iran wouldn’t use the A-bomb or the H-bomb because Islam says not to? I am very reassured by the gooey sweet words of the delegation.

    Posted by: Eliyahu at February 22, 2007 06:37 AM

    I’ve come to expect this crap from “Jews”.But,in this case,beyond the amoral,self-hating shik I expect,these particular “Israeli’ pseudo intellectuals maybe also be illiterate.Just a few years ago,The Jewish Daily Forward reported that their
    was some serious Russian/Jewish Purple Gang ‘Collingwood Massacre’ stuff
    going on in Tel Aviv(see also ‘Red Mafiya’ by Robert Friedman).These shmucks had the opportunity to make an honest movie.

    Posted by: jaywilton at February 22, 2007 08:46 AM

    Ari Sandel’s ignorance in regard to Palestinian Islamic terrorism is not only quite shocking, it’s very frightening. It’s difficult for me to fathom the denial that western folks choose to live in.

    Posted by: Rocky at February 22, 2007 10:57 AM


    I wanted to know if you have ever met a Palestinian or been to the West Bank. If you have, I wonder how you can truly believe that this film shows only a bias against Jews. Suicide bombings are not funny, but neither are israeli check points and unwarrented aggression by the settlers or misguided IDF soliders. People die and are hurting on both sides of that fence. Unfortunately the majority of Palestinians and Israelis, while not participating in violence themselves, are hurt by it.

    Posted by: j.clef at November 14, 2007 10:27 AM

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