Democrat and Chronicle from Rochester, New York on October 20, 2015 · Page B2
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Democrat and Chronicle from Rochester, New York · Page B2

Rochester, New York
Issue Date:
Tuesday, October 20, 2015
Page B2
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2B E3 USA TODAY—DEMOCRATANDCHRONICLE TUESDAY,OCTOBER20,2015 BERLIN Earlier this month, militant thugs from the Islamic State blew up Palmyra’s Arch of Triumph, a 2,000-year-old icon of the glorious ancient city in Syria. It was only the latest atrocity there, and videos taken in the city show other treasures laden with explosives promising more destruction to come. Syrian antiquities o cials say if the destruction continues, Palmyra will be wiped out in six m onths. UNESCO calls it “a war c rime.” Local residents tell us the situation is tense, as behead- i ngs continue and their city gets o bliterated, piece by piece. I wish I could look away. I wish I didn’t know what I know. But as I detailed a few months ago, Palmyra is special to me, too, because of a childhood obsession with its ancient warrior queen, Zenobia. Some ask, why do they do this? It’s fear, says UNESCO chief Irina Bokova: “This new destruction shows how terrified by history and culture the extremists are, because under- s tanding the past undermines a nd delegitimizes the pretexts they use to justify these crimes a nd exposes them as expressions o f pure hatred and ignorance.” “ Ignorance” is the key word: Thinking people can’t be led like sheep. Witness how Cambodia’s Khmer Rouge quickly targeted the educated — doctors, lawyers, teachers — during its reign of terror in the 1970s. This also left the country shattered for decades after they were ousted. While I was absorbing the arch’s destruction, I thought about Syrians, and refugees, and what I have learned in the past f our years of the war. And I real- i zed, there is a reason to be hopeful in spite of it all. N ot long ago, I attended a con- f erence in Turkey called “ Strengthening Delivery of Higher Education to Refugees.” It’s a pretty dry title for what turned out to be an interesting and ultimately solutions-driven workshop on how to address a dire need: Thousands of young Syrians — and others — have had their education halted because of the war. This might sound like aluxury when many in Syria, and outside, struggle to meet their daily survival needs. But we have seen how some students brave dangerous checkpoints — and front lines — to get to classrooms. There are initiatives already helping: Scholarships, exams administered in refugee camps, new universities popping up, existing ones taking more students, new online degree programs s uch as Kiron University, which i s starting this month. In Berlin, we work with Rih am Kusa, a young Syrian refu- g ee journalist of tremendous p romise: She is 24, smart, determined and talented. She spends her mornings in German language school, her afternoons in the library studying German, and her evenings filling out applications for universities — or scholarships to pay for them — to get her master’s degree. Ispoke to her recently because I was concerned at the frantic nature of her search for a program — she has been rejected multiple times, mainly because she is not in Syria anymore. I told her she needs to calm down: “You’re safe, and it will happen. Stop focusing on that as a point for your life to start. Go out with friends sometimes,” I said. She answered: “When I am in the library or filling out applications, I enjoy that, I feel like I am doing something for my future. My master’s was interrupted. I want to finish it. I want to move forward.” That’s the point, I realized. It’s about lives interrupted, feeling stuck, out of options with little ability to move on from war, from shattered lives. That’s why these degrees matter. At the same time, I can’t think o f a better counter to the igno- r ance the Islamic State seeks to sow than people striving for k nowledge, skills, achievement a nd advancement. When you talk to these young would-be students, they often say, “I will get a degree and then I can help my country with it after the war is over.” Well someday, it will be over. And hopefully there will be an army of educated young Syrians ready to rebuild their country —even if Palmyra is gone. Bhatti, a correspondent in Berlin, i s managing editor of Associated R eporters Abroad. VOICES Amid Palmyra atrocities, seeds of hope Jabeen Bhatti Special for USA TODAY YOUSEF BADAWI, EPA The Islamic State is destroying antiquities in the city of P almyra, Syria. UNESCO calls it a war crime. Ican’t think of a better counter to the ignorance the Islamic State seeks to sow than p eople striving f or knowledge. been so scared but also never so happy to be here.” “In France, it feels very di er- ent because you are threatened as aminority and not protected by the government, but I guess in Israel, we are ready to accept the violence,” said Rahmani, a former lawyer who works to connect European immigrants to employers in Israel. In recent years, this city of 80,000 has become a magnet for highly educated French Jews seeking to escape rising anti- Semitism and bad economic times. Nearly 2,000 have come here since 2005, drawn by good schools, cultural opportunities and success in establishing small businesses, ranging from law and medical practices to patisseries stocked with eclairs. France, which has Europe’s largest Jewish population — about 500,000 — has become the largest source of emigrants to Israel. Since last January, more than 6,000 French Jews moved to Israel, up from 3,200 in 2013, according to Israel’s Ministry of Immigrant Absorption. The spike in French Jewish emigration is the result of what t he community here sees as F rance’s inability or unwilling- n ess to address Arab-Jewish tens ions that have pushed many J ewish families to enroll their c hildren in private French schools. In 2012, a French-born Muslim of Algerian descent killed a rabbi and three children at a Jewish school in Toulouse in what he claimed was an act of retribution for Israeli killings of Palestinian children. Last week’s first attack in Ra’a- nana was by a Palestinian man who approached a crowded bus station and stabbed an Israeli man. French residents were among those who encircled the assailant and kicked him on the ground before police arrived at the scene. In the second attack, a Palestinian stabbed four Israelis sitting at a cafe. The attacks have prompted many French residents to turn to one another for help. Over the past week, Whatsapp and Face- book groups have been filled with conversations on how to deal with the stress and explain the violence to their children. Ariel Simony, a child psychologist, o ered free counseling for children and their families and has made his services available on French-language Facebook pages, answering questions such as “What do I tell my 17-year-old son who wants to buy a knife?” “It is important for the parents t o understand that they need to b e watchful and always age-app ropriate so as to avoid paranoia, w hich may stay in their subcon- s cious,” Simony said. Sandrine Cohen, her son Charles Madar and two of his friends have to deal with the risks of Ra’anana. French Jews feel protected by Israel v CONTINUED FROM1B Avideo showing an Eritrean m an in Israel being shot by a sec urity guard and then beaten by a mob that mistook him for an Arab attacker has raised new conc erns Monday about vigilantism amid the ongoing wave of Israeli- Palestinian violence. “It is a disgrace to Israeli society, and those that carried out this lynching need to be found and brought to justice,” said Yaakov Amidror, former national security adviser to Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. “Even if it was the terrorist himself, by the way, after he was shot, after he was neutralized and lying on the floor, you need to be an animal to torment him,” Ami- dror told Israel Radio, according to the Associated Press. Sunday’s violence in the southern city of Beersheba began when an Arab with a knife and gun killed a soldier, stole his weapon and opened fi re, wounding nine p eople before being killed by p olice. I n the mayhem, Habtom Zer- h om, an Eritrean migrant in his l ate 20s, ran into the station to s eek cover, police said. A security guard, mistaking Zerhom for another attacker, shot and wounded h im. As he lay on the floor, a mob cursed, kicked him and hit him with objects, the AP reported. Security camera video showed Zerhom in a pool of blood as he was rammed with a bench and kicked in the head by passersby, while an Israeli o cer and a few bystanders tried to protect him. Zerhom later died at a hospital. Aheadline in Monday’s Yediot Ahronot newspaper said Zerhom was shot “just because of his skin color.” Police said they were reviewing the security video to identify the mob who beat Zer- hom. As of late Monday, no arrests had been announced. Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu condemned the violence and sent condolences to Z erhom’s family. “ We are a law-abiding count ry,” he said. “No one should take t he law into their own hands.” Z erhom worked at a plant n ursery in southern Israel and had been in Beersheba to renew a work visa, said his employer, Sagi M alachi. “He was a modest man, quiet, and he tried to do his job as best as he could,” Malachi told the AP. “I think that he was in the wrong place at the wrong time.” About 34,000 Eritrean migrants have fled conflict and persecution in their homeland for Israel. Israeli police identified the attacker who did open fire Sunday at the Beersheba bus station as Mohannad al-Okbi, 21, an Arab- Israeli citizen from the Bedouin town of Hura in southern Israel. DUDU GRINSHPAN,AFP/GETTY IMAGES Awoman is comforted Sunday at a bus station in the southern Israeli city of Beersheba where violence erupted and an innocent man was shot and attacked by a mob. Fatal beating of Eritrean raises vigilantism concerns Mob mistook ‘modest man’ for Arab attacker in Israel Jane Onyanga-Omara USA TODAY PLANO , TEXAS From the multi- station cafeteria to the gift shop to the theater-style sanctuary, w orshipers at Prestonwood Baptist Church believe — or hope — that next year’s election will see s omething new. Long-lost evangelical voters. “ So many don’t vote — it just makes me sick,” said Marjoray W ilemon, a retiree from Arlington, Texas, who has seen a lot of p olitics in her 94 years. “I hope that some people will realize what kind of bad shape we’re in.” Like more than 6,000 others at the Prestonwood mega-church near Dallas, Wilemon had just watched six Republican president ial candidates appeal to evangelical, born-again Christians. Estimates suggest there were a s many as 17 million “missing” evangelical voters in 2012, though s ome political analysts question whether the potential number is t hat high. Prestonwood pastor Jack Gra- h am interviewed the six GOP candidates in attendance — Ben Carson, Carly Fiorina, Jeb Bush, Ted Cruz, Rick Santorum and Mike Huckabee — and said afterward that he is seeing “a surge of interest among evangelicals” a head of the 2016 election. Ralph Reed, founder and chairman of the Faith & Freedom Coa lition, which co-sponsored the event, told the crowd that evan- g elical Christians made up 27% of the electorate in 2012, a president ial year, and 32% of voters in the 2014 midterm elections. Y et as many as 17 million evangelicals stayed home in 2012, he added, an election in which President Obama beat Mitt Romney by about 5 million votes. John Green, a political scientist at the University of Akron w ho specializes in religion and politics, is skeptical there are so many missing evangelical voters. I t all depends on how you de- fine evangelicals, Green said. T urnout is already high among voters who strongly identify as e vangelical Christians, he said, and “to make the numbers big e nough, you’ve got to include a wide diversity of people,” including voters who may not base their vote on religion or social issues. Ivette Lozano, a Dallas doctor who attended the Prestonwood event, said she thinks evangelic als “are going to be the decisive vote” in 2016 because of increased participation. P aige Gilbert, 22, a student at the University of Texas-Dallas, s aid, “I think we need somebody who can compromise. ... I think t he idea of compromise has been lost.” Republicans hope to find ‘missing’ evangelical voters David Jackson USA TODAY

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