Jewish Journal

Briefs: Jordan’s Queen reveals hopes for Mideast, Nahai to DWP, Halle Berry’s nose joke

Posted on Nov. 1, 2007 at 8:00 pm

Queen Rania of Jordan

Queen Rania of Jordan

Mayor Nominates Nahai to Head DWP

Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa this week nominated a close ally, H. David Nahai, to head the city's Department of Water and Power.

Nahai resigned as commission president last month, with plans of campaigning for general manager of the country's largest municipal utility. His nomination quickly followed the resignation of former DWP General Manager Ron Deaton, who was the city's highest-paid employee, with a reported salary of $345,000.

The City Council must approve Nahai.

-- Brad A. Greenberg, Staff Writer

Armenians Plan Genocide Resolution Rally

The L.A. area's large Armenian community plans to participate Nov. 4 in a nationwide rally calling upon Congress to pass a resolution recognizing the genocide of up to 1.5 million Armenians at the hands of Ottoman Turks.

A resolution introduced by Rep. Adam Schiff (D-Burbank) had been working its way through a House committee when it was tabled last month amid threats from the Turkish government that passage could strain relations between the two countries, potentially even pushing Turkey to prohibit access to a U.S. air base there.

"The reason Turkey makes threats against our country is quite simple," Caspar Jivalagian, chairman of the Armenian Youth Federation, said in a statement. "They are an inconsistent ally and surely not a friend of ours."

The genocide resolution has been of particular interest to American Jews. Israel also considers Turkey one of its few friendly neighbors, and Turkish Jews have opposed the resolution. But historians' claims that the slaughtering of Armenians was a case study for Hitler has led many -- including the Anti-Defamation League, which long tried to stay out of the discussion -- to deem the actions genocide. Rabbi Harold M. Schulweis, founder of Jewish World Watch, has repeatedly called upon Jews to push for the recognition by the U.S. government.

Rally 106: United Voices for the Armenian Genocide Resolution will be held in Los Angeles, Houston, Phoenix, San Francisco and Washington, D.C. The local rally will begin at 3 p.m. near Hollywood Boulevard and Alexandria Avenue.

-- BG

Halle Berry's Nose Joke Falls Flat

Halle Berry apologized for a remark she made about Jewish noses. During a taping last week of the "Tonight Show," Berry made a joke about digitally altered pictures of herself with a big nose that she said made her look like her "Jewish cousin." No one in the audience laughed.

Host Jay Leno squirmed in his chair and said, "I'm glad you said that and not me."

Berry then said, "Oh my God, have I just, like, ruined my whole career?"

On Berry's request, "Jewish" was deleted from her comments when the broadcast aired Oct. 22. Berry reportedly was in tears as she called on media outlets to apologize for the remarks, saying that one of her three Jewish assistants had told her before the taping that the picture looked like Berry's Jewish cousin and that the comment was fresh on her mind. The Oscar-winning actress said she wanted to make sure people understood that she didn't mean to offend anyone.

-- Jewish Telegraphic Agency

Ross Advises Rice to Lower Summit Expectations

Speaking at a Shabbat dinner at the American Jewish University last week, Ambassador Dennis Ross, former Middle East envoy and chief peace negotiator during the Clinton administration, promoted his new book, "Statecraft: And How to Restore America's Standing in the World." He took the opportunity to lecture Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice on his recommendations for next month's Middle East summit in Annapolis.

Ross warned Rice that the Bush administration cannot afford to preside over yet another failed conference and urged her to drastically reduce expectations. Her objective, he said, should be simply to come away with "a one-page agreement on the core principles which will spell out the key concessions each side will have to make."

In order to accomplish this, she will need to listen to both sides carefully and not take what they say at face value, Ross warned, adding, she must also redefine the key objectives of both sides. He said for Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert, the principal objective is an "explicit surrendering by the Palestinians of the right of return," whereas Mahout Abbas, the Palestinian Authority leader, wants to resolve the Jerusalem border issue.

To accomplish this, Ross believes that both sides must change the formula from "land for peace" to "land for security." Commitments on security, he said, "cannot be rhetorical but must be practical, and both sides must have a common understanding" of them.

While Ross characterized both the Israeli and Palestinian leaders as still weak, he said that Abbas is a partner for peace and has made an effort. The former ambassador pointed out, however, that Abbas is quickly running out of money and needs our help. He warned that if Hamas were to dominate, the nature of the conflict would change and it would become a religious conflict.

In response to a question from the audience dealing with Iran, Ross said, "We need to change Iran's behavior. Either we have to live with a nuclear Iran or we have to eliminate it." Based on Iran's current rate of progress, he said "we have to do something within the next 36 months."

-- Peter L. Rothholz, Contributing Writer

Jordan's Queen Reveals Hopes for Mideast

When Queen Rania Al-Abdullah of Jordan took the stage at the theater of the new Creative Artists Agency (CAA) building in Century City last week, there was a good, long moment before some people in the audience realized a queen -- and not just another A-list movie star -- had entered the building.

"That's her?" one attendee asked. "She's beyond beautiful."

The royal visitor, who is married to Jordan's King Abdullah II, came to CAA as part of a swing through Los Angeles that had her speak to students at Taft High School in Woodland Hills and to 14,000 professional women at the California Governor and First Lady's Conference on Women in Long Beach. At CAA, she spoke under the auspices of the Foreign Policy Roundtable, a group that promotes better understanding of world affairs among entertainment industry leaders. Audience members included directors Taylor Hackford and Thomas Schlamme and producer Quincy Jones.

In each venue she visited, the queen, a practicing Muslim born to Palestinian parents in Kuwait, expressed the urgent need to bridge gaps in understanding between Islam and the West.

"When I travel the Middle East and talk to Arabs, they all ask the same question, 'Why do the Americans hate us?'" she said. "And when I come here and talk to Americans, they all ask the same question, 'Why do the Arabs hate us?'"

One way to lessen the mutual distrust, she said, is to be open to sharing one another's culture. The queen's on-stage interlocutor, pundit Arianna Huffington, prompted her to tell a story about how, as a child, she first tried an American friend's peanut butter-and-jelly sandwich. "I always felt sorry for her that she didn't have a humous sandwich like me," said the 37-year-old queen, who spoke in impeccable English. "But when I tried it, I found I liked it."

Focusing on more controversial choices, the queen said women are making progress in the Muslim world, and Westerners shouldn't focus all their attention on whether Muslim women wear a head scarf or hijab.

Huffington asked the queen what her ideal of Mideast peace would look like.

"An end to the occupation," Rania said, "and an agreement that will ensure that Israel is fully integrated into the region and has all its security concerns addressed and that ensures that the Palestinians have an independent, viable sovereign Palestinian state, and for those two states to live side by side in peace. That is what we all aspire to. I know there is a lot of cynicism about this, but the day we say this will never happen is the day we sign off on the future of all those children."

To hear Queen Rania's vision of Mideast peace, click here.

-- Staff Report

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