by Moriel Rothman-Zecher
Crossposted from Moriel’s personal blog, The Leftern Wall, where you can find his prose and poetic writing about Israel-Palestine, the Occupation, non-violent resistance, and more.
This morning, I was scanning Twitter, and stumbled across this odd tweet from the IDF Spokesperson (click link).
I watched the video, which, in and of itself, seemed pretty tame. The part that struck me was not the video’s content, but the subtitles. In watching it the first time, sort of absentmindedly, I noticed some oddities in the translation, specifically around the word “terrorist.” I went back and watched it again, and was sort of stunned by what I noticed.
At the beginning, the soldier says: ”איום של חדירה”, which means, in this context, “the threat of infiltration.”
The video’s translation: More »
This week, after 14 years living in Israel, where I never intended to leave, I’m moving back to my ancestral homeland of the South Side of Chicago, where, among other things, I’m excited to be spearheading the “Back to Basics” intro. to Judaism class for the Mishkan community. When I made the decision, in late November, I sent a detailed explanation to my friends; some of the issues covered there may be of general interest, regarding the history of Jewish, urban life, white flight, and cultural identity, as well as the prospects for a progressive Israel, so I am sharing an edited version of what I originally wrote, here with the Jewschool community.
1) I’m from there
I think I’m a rarity among American Jews in that I feel like I’m from somewhere. On my Grandpa Norman’s side, my family has been on the South Side of Chicago uninterrupted since 1888. I’m from somewhere with a story. The ~4-square mile area of the Southeast Side had 13 synagogues in 1962. By 1972, it had one. So abrupt and devastating was the scourge of White Flight. The one that remained, by the way, was the first one, old Bikur Cholim, which my great-great grandfather helped build in the late 1880s in working class South Chicago, and which was already “on its last legs” by the 1940s and sputtered along until the 1980s. More »
In the wake of the terrible attacks in Paris, my friends all seem to be retreating to the safety and sanctimony of their respective political teams. Team Right, is doing everything in its power to use the tragedy to reinforce its political message: Jews are not really safe in the diaspora. The attacks in Paris are further proof that antisemitism in Europe is worse than it has ever been since the end of WWII. Israel is the only way for Jews to truly be safe. Muslims need to engage in some serious introspection and be more vocal in their condemnations of terrorism. Meanwhile on Team Left, people are urging us not to paint all Muslims with the brush of their fanatics and attempting to remind us that while the attacks on Charlie Hebdo were inexcusable and unequivocally wrong, that doesn’t mean that everything they ever published is retroactively right. Team Left is also arguing that there’s a double-standard when it comes to our expectations of condemnations and that this is rooted in Islamophobia.
The weaknesses of Team Right’s positions are obvious and glaring. While there has indisputably been a rise in antisemitic attacks in Europe over the past ten years, the notion that Jews are no longer safe in Europe is a gross, politically-motivated exaggeration. Netanyahu’s sleazy appearance in Paris, against French President François Hollande’s explicit wishes, along with statements by Israeli officials encouraging French Jews to move to Israel en masse, are disturbing on multiple levels. First, how dare Israeli officials presume to tell French Jews where they ought to live? This in and of itself is condescending and wrong. Second, Netanyahu et al are shamelessly using the community’s tragedy to score political points in the upcoming Israeli election. Third, these statements place Israel and its supporters in that revolting nexus of antisemitism and Zionism, where the safety of European Jews is jettisoned in favor of the antisemite’s desire for them to leave and the Zionist’s desire for them to come. Finally, the language that Team Right uses to talk about Islam is crass, insensitive, and inaccurate. This should come as no surprise. While Team Right is intolerant and largely ignorant of Islam and Muslims, they are exceptionally tolerant and chummy with people who have made careers out of spreading Islamophobia.
This is a guest post by Yonit R. Friedman. It was originally published at allthesedays.org
Rachel Sandalow-Ash, a senior at Harvard University, is the Internal Coordinator for Open Hillel, a student-run campaign that promotes inclusive and open dialogue about Israel-Palestine in university campus Hillels. She first became involved with All That’s Left in the summer of 2013, while interning for Shatil through the New Israel Fund.
Disclaimer: Rachel’s views, as expressed in this interview, are her own. They are not representative of Open Hillel.
At the Open Hillel conference at Harvard University in October 2014, Rachel Sandalow-Ash scanned the crowd of 350 people. “This,” she remarked, “doesn’t look like just a small group of radical activists.” Despite her not-so-subtle jab at Eric Fingerhut, the CEO of Hillel International, Sandalow-Ash, a founder of Open Hillel, is a product of institutional American Judaism. Growing up, she attended the Conservative-affiliated Solomon Schechter Day School in Newton, Massachusetts, as well as Jewish summer camps. Before college, she didn’t think too much about broadening the Jewish conversation about Israel-Palestine, as Open Hillel aims to do. Between the right-wing Zionist politics of her day school, and her parents, who she describes as “J-Street-y,” she believed that issues related to Israel-Palestine “would cause a lot of controversy, so [she] shouldn’t talk about them.” More »
Ian Thal is a playwright, performer and theater educator specializing in mime, commedia dell’arte, and puppetry, and has been known to act on Boston area stages from time to time, sometimes with Teatro delle Maschere. Formerly the community editor at The Jewish Advocate, he blogs irregularly at the unimaginatively entitled From The Journals of Ian Thal. He is a senior contributor to The Arts Fuse, Boston’s online arts magazine, in which this column originally appeared.
Ironically, those who smeared former Theater J artistic director Ari Roth with allegations that he is “anti-Israel” accomplished a feat that anti-Israeli activists could only dream of doing: making a Jewish Community Center boycott Israeli culture. More »
(With gratitude to the editors of Jewschool, I will be blogging 1-2 times per month on the challenges of parenting about Israel and Palestine to two boys in Jewish day school and who live within an active Jewish community, but doing so from the political left.)
On the way home from a recent Friday night Shabbat dinner, our family’s conversation stumbled on to a mention of the Holocaust.
“What’s the Holocaust again?” my younger son, nearly 8, asked.
My wife and I gulped and quickly looked at one another. We each knew the topic had come up before, both in discussions after hearing something on the news and because there are passages about the Warsaw Ghetto in the family Seder we attend every year. But we could not remember what we had told him and, I think, were both silently unsure what about what we should say next.
“Not now, Adiv. This late at night isn’t the best time to talk about the Holocaust.”
Before my wife or I could speak, these words came from my older, 10-year old son. Gentle, caring, and mature beyond his years. More »
BBR is a father of 7- and 10-year old boys living in DC who has been a supporter of Shovrim Shtika and the Refuser Solidarity Network. This post originally published on DailyKos.
As the conflict in Gaza raged this summer — as each day brought reports of more Palestinians dead and injured, more Israelis injured and living in fear of the worst, more Internet screeds and requests for urgent funding – after I felt off-setting rage and sorrow, one thought kept creeping back in to my mind:
“Please let this end by August 26.”
Not because of any importance on the Jewish or Muslim calendar, not because it represented a specific number of days or likely number of dead. Not even because of a particular tragic anniversary, whether in the region or my own family.
No, I wanted it over because my boys began the school year at their Jewish day school on August 26, and I could not bring myself to think about how hard it would be for me to be a parent of kids at a Jewish day school during a hot conflict.
This was my first sign that, for the first time in close to 20 years of activism and engagement around Israel and Palestine, I have come close to losing hope and am searching for refuge. And I am struggling with what that means for me and for my family. More »
I’m feeling conflicted about the lighting of the White House hanukkiah (Hanukkah menorah) by two students from Jerusalem’s Hand in Hand school. I think the school is wonderful, and I’m so glad it’s getting attention from the President of the U.S. His comments were beautiful, and giving publicity and support to such groundbreaking organizations is good for Israel and the Jews.
But I also feel like there’s a time and place to make political statements about Israel – which is unarguably the effect when you have students from an Israeli Jewish-Arab school light the President’s Hanukkah candles (including one student who is not Jewish), with a hanukkiah made by Jewish and Arab Israeli students.
The New York Daily News is reporting that at around 1:45am today, a man named Calvin Peters entered a synagogue at Chabad-Lubavitch headquarters in Crown Heights, Brooklyn, and, yelling, “I want to kill the Jew”, stabbed Israeli student Levi Rosenviat, while the latter was praying. NYPD officers surrounded him, got him to put down the knife, and when he then picked it up again, an officer shot him in the stomach, which proved fatal. This stand-off and killing were recorded on video.
I’m just reading this story; it’s too fresh to process and there’s a lot we don’t know. Initial reactions and questions: More »
Standards of Partnership turn Hillels from gateways to Jewish identity into discriminatory gatekeepers
Dear Mr. Fingerhut,
In recent weeks, events at Hillel affiliates across the country have highlighted the inherent flaws of Hillel International’s Standards of Partnership (the “Standards”). The Standards, which you recently assured the Knesset are enforced “rigorously,” have been deployed to silence Jewish students and communities that oppose Israel’s occupation. Recent events at Princeton University and University of Michigan Ann Arbor demonstrate that the exclusionary Standards will not stop us, as Jewish students, from exercising our right to create politically pluralistic Jewish communities. Recent events have shown that the “Standards” are not standards at all, but rather are deployed arbitrarily by Hillel staff to discriminate against and exclude Jewish students based on political ideology. More »
Dear Raphael Magarik (and other students at Berkeley participating in the vote today),
Thank you for bringing attention to the debate going on at your campus. I would like to respond to a few assertions that you make in the article
, and urge you to reconsider your vote against BDS at Berkeley. I am not a student at Berkeley, but I am a graduate student elsewhere,* and have also been thinking through my own participation in a BDS movement, should it ever arise on my campus.When you say that “BDS may well create the hard-right, recalcitrant Israel it imagines already exists,” I can’t help but question it’s ever a good idea to condition intervention on the possibility that someone doing something wrong will throw a temper tantrum in response. BDS aims to non-violently de-fang a national military industrial complex of what is already a country that has proven time after time that “asking nicely,” even when done by its most acquiescent and milquetoast of political allies, doesn’t work. More »
On Thursday, my union as a graduate student at Berkeley, UAW 2865, is going to vote on a BDS (Boycott, Divestment, Sanctions) resolution against Israel. I’m going to vote “no,” although I oppose the occupation and support selective, non-BDS branded boycotts targeting the occupation. I vote this way ambivalently. The Israeli occupation is more than 45 years long and involves deep injustice, and it ought to be resisted. One may not oppose BDS without offering an alternative vision for ending the occupation—my vision involves selective boycotts, investment in progressive elements in Israeli society and politics, political lobbying in DC. But I cannot sign onto the BDS proposal for reasons detailed below, and I hope that other union members will also vote “no.” Thursday, December 4, Sather Gate all day.
To call a state a democracy requires that the people choose their political representation and that the state protects a set of rights that everyone has access to. There are many frightening things about the so-called “Jewish Nation-State law”, which puts Israel’s Jewish character out in front of democracy by a long shot and we very well may see this bill become law. So far, the bill was already approved by the cabinet in a vote of 14-7, and was set to hit the Knesset floor this Week, but Prime Minister Netanyahu has postponed it until next week.
The bill, which is meant to become a Basic Law (the closest thing Israel has to a constitution), is scary because it emphasizes Jewish privilege under the law in Israel, for example pushing Jewish law into the secular court system and demoting Arabic from one of two official languages down to merely being the mother tongue of 20% of the population and the regional language.
I believe the technical term for this is #sorrynotsorry
“’Everything I wrote was entirely reasonable, but they didn’t report that,’ he said of the JTA report.” Guess why they didn’t report that it was entirely reasonable, Mr. Pruzansky? Because they didn’t think that it was.
Of late, Rabbi Steven Pruzansky has been roundly and justly criticized by the Jewish media. Within the last few weeks, the rabbi of the 800-member-family Teaneck, NJ, Bnai Jeshurun Orthodox synagogue has been written about in prominent Jewish newspapers; first, he stepped down from heading a Beit Din for conversions in protest of the Rabbinical Council of America’s reevaluation of its conversion standards. In a post on his blog where he announced the resignation, he claimed that if new standards for oversight were to be established by the RCA’s new mixed-gender committee, he had “no interest in living as a suspect,” and lamented that “we are living in a toxic environment for rabbis…The distrust is embarrassing and unbecoming.” This change from the RCA was in response to the Rabbi Barry Freundel mikvah voyeurism scandal; Pruzansky’s deliberate and offensive blindness to the circumstances that allowed Freundel to act as he did and the appropriateness and necessity of the RCA’s response were reported on by the New York Jewish Week, and not favorably.
This could have been the end of the rabbi/blogger’s interaction with that newspaper, had he not been angered by their coverage. Taking to his blog again, he compared the paper to Nazi propaganda newspaper Der Sturmer, a move which garnered a scorching response in the Jewish Week’s editorial pages. More »
Ri J. Turner is a rabbinical student at Hebrew College in Boston, MA, as well as a student of Yiddish at the YIVO Institute in New York.
As we inch towards the end of the secular year, I find myself reflecting on the events of the past summer. As things heat up again in Jerusalem, I am sure I am not alone in feeling concerned about the events that took place during Israel’s Operation Protective Edge.
I won’t try to talk right now about the ethics of Operation Protective Edge as a whole. Instead, I want to talk about something much smaller: the way we, the Jewish community and the Jewish press, talked about the Operation, and specifically, the many calls to the Jewish community to feel empathy for the Palestinian victims of the Operation.
This call to empathy is both common and understandable. In fact, it is deeply rooted in Jewish tradition. However, as I read article after article this summer calling the American Jewish community to show empathy for the plight of Palestinians in Gaza, I began to question the premise that a call to empathy is the correct starting place for ethical behavior. More »
I spent ten minutes today speaking with an acquaintance who is Arab and lives in Silwan, a neighborhood of East Jerusalem just south of the Old City. I’ve known him for several years, and we’ve always had a friendly relationship, but I’ve never asked him about his life before. Today I decided to ask how he’s doing. I asked whether he lives in an area where things are really bad, and he told me “everyone lives in an area where it’s really bad.” Then he told me that a couple days ago he drove past the house in Silwan that they demolished this week: “You should have seen what happened – pieces flew everywhere, large chunks of the house, and all of the houses and cars nearby were damaged. It’s never been like that before. I’ve seen houses demolished before, and it was always contained to that house. But this time it was like they didn’t even care what else got damaged. They weren’t even trying to be careful. They didn’t bother cleaning anything up. I don’t know why they did it like that this time.” Thankfully his house is far enough away that it wasn’t affected. (Thankful, really, that I don’t have another person to feel too worried about, at least for today.)
I haven’t told my children that their cousins’ cousin was brutally murdered last week by a knife-wielding terrorist. And I haven’t told them about the five men murdered yesterday in the midst of prayer, one of whom was the son of one of my favorite professors in college. About the mother who had to bury her beautiful daughter and the 24 children from the same street who were orphaned in one terrible moment. I can’t bring myself to share such horrendous, inhuman acts with them.
It’s different than with the rockets last summer. The rockets were terrible, but they felt somehow less personal, the people shooting them (though also horrible and murderous) a tiny bit less cold-blooded. I could talk about nameless, amorphous bad guys with my kids, though it was difficult and scary. But to tell my children about men who violated a house of worship with axes and a meat cleaver and shot people at close range during their silent prayer? About the man who picked up a knife and slashed the throat of an unarmed, kind-hearted young woman? I just can’t shatter their innocence that way. Not when they’re so young.
Nothing can justify such acts. Absolutely nothing.
Yet as much as part of me is being pulled constantly inward toward focusing only on my own Jewish family ever since this new wave of terror began, I have not been able to stop thinking about these powerful words: