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Coming together around Machon – Daily Item

Posted By on March 27, 2017

March 26, 2017

COURTESY OF BNAI BRITHAn artists rendering of the Senior Residences at the Machon.

Its easy to praise Swampscotts approach to giving new life to the old Machon School. Town Meeting last May picked nonprofit Bnai Brith to create the Senior Residences at the Machon. Bnai representatives unveiled plans to town residents featuring 38 one-bedroom units and a plan to add a third floor to the former school.

The Board of Selectmen will review and potentially vote on the plans on April 5 and move the building reuse project forward one more step.

Machon is moving ahead as the town continues to map out strategies and seek unity over the future of the Greenwood Avenue former middle school. The former police station also needs to begin moving on the path to reuse.

Under ideal circumstances, Machons redevelopment from the current planning stage to construction and the ribbon cutting will be a template for the town to follow in providing new uses for other vacant town properties.

Empty structures are a financial burden and liability for the town and a neighborhood nuisance. Conversely, Machon is an example of a project on its way to improving Swampscott. Bnai has drafted a forward-thinking renovation that includes residential parking and guest parking with housing affordability taken into consideration.

Some town residents, including several neighbors, envisioned the Machon property as open space enhancing the towns park and recreation resources. But residents are, by all accounts, satisfied with the review and discussion process that preceded Town Meetings decision to approve Machon for redevelopment as senior housing.

The old school could eventually become home for town residents who once attended Machon. There is a perfect small town symmetry about a project that preserves a town landmark familiar to generations of former town children who, in their later years, elect to remain in Swampscott.

Providing affordable senior housing helps town families by allowing older residents who sell homes to stay in Swampscott. It also brings into town seniors who set their sights years ago on living in a beautiful community with an ocean view.

Town officials and residents should take pride in viewing Machons rebirth as a chance to inspire other communities to take public buildings past their prime and work with organizations like Bnai Brith to give them new leases on life.

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Coming together around Machon – Daily Item

Swampscott gets look at plans for Machon – Daily Item

Posted By on March 27, 2017

March 23, 2017

COURTESY PHOTOPictured is a rendering of the Senior Residences at the Machon.


SWAMPSCOTT Draft schematic plans for the affordable senior housing redevelopment of the shuttered Machon Elementary School were presented to residents for the first time Thursday night.

Residents gathered at Swampscott High School to hear project plans presented by Peter Kane, director of community development, and the developers, Bnai Brith Housing, represented by Susan Gittelman, executive director, and Holly Grace, senior project manager.

The schematic plans have to be approved by the Board of Selectmen, which is scheduled to vote on them on April 5. If approved, the developer will be able to finalize plans and submit them for the permit review process. Town officials said that Bnai Brith will also be applying for tax credits associated with a low-income project.

Were really looking forward to this partnership with you, the neighborhood and the town, Gittelman told the gathered residents. Were very excited about this.

Town Meeting last May approved the selection and redevelopment proposal from Bnai Brith Housing, a nonprofit that builds affordable homes for seniors in Greater Boston. The developers proposal is to build Senior Residences at the Machon, a complex at 35 Burpee Road that will include 38 one-bedroom units and 48 parking spaces. Each unit would have one parking space and 10 guest spaces would be available.

The town later entered into a land development agreement with Bnai Brith. Under the terms of the deal, the nonprofit signed a 99-year ground lease for $500,000. The purchase includes an additional $50,000 for off-site improvements.

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Bnai Brith plans to improve and reuse the 1920 building and demolish and replace the 1963 addition. Draft plans showed that the developer plans to add a three-story addition.

Grace said the overall design goal is for the building to be wheelchair accessible and accessible for people with disabilities. Three staff people will work regularly in the building, she said, including a resident services coordinator who will help residents access community-based services as needed as they age. She said those services could include home health aides, housekeeping and wellness activities.

With this model, we tried to focus on and keep the mind and the body healthy, Grace said. The goal is to be able to have residents age in place in this building.

An elevator will be located in the middle of the building for people with mobility concerns, Grace said. There will be three floors of apartments. She said the smallest apartment unit would be about 600 square feet, while some would be more than 700 square feet.

Residents in attendance were concerned there wouldnt be adequate parking to accommodate all of the residents, arguing that there may be couples who live in the one-bedroom units rather than only single people.

Kane said with affordable senior housing, there could be residents, because of income level and the age demographic, that dont have vehicles at all in the household. He said the residents may also have adult children or family members close by who they work with to get around.

From our experience, I do not think its going to be an issue, Gittelman said.

Other questions centered around financing. Grace said the projection was that the development would generate approximately $38,000 in real estate taxes for the first year of occupancy.

Gerard Perry, a Burpee Road resident, said he has been an opponent of the project, and wanted open space, but thinks the town has to move forward after the Town Meeting vote to approve the proposal. He requested that the developers keep the neighbors involved in the process to alleviate their concerns.

Hopefully, well make this a win for the whole town, Perry said.

Jonathan Leamon, a Swampscott resident, asked how much 38 units of affordable housing would contribute to the towns 3.7 percent stock. Kane said the current amount of affordable housing in the towns inventory is 217 units, and another 38 would get the town to more than 4 percent, and closer to the state requirement of 10 percent.

Eight units are reserved for households at or below 30 percent of the average median income and 30 units are reserved for those at or below 60 percent. Preference will be given to residents over age 62. The maximum local preference allowed by the state is 70 percent.

Gayla Cawley can be reached at Follow her on Twitter @GaylaCawley

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Swampscott gets look at plans for Machon – Daily Item

Anti-BDS bill passes in Texas Senate – Diaspora – Jerusalem Post – Jerusalem Post Israel News

Posted By on March 27, 2017

A demonstrator wears a shirt reading ‘Boycott Israel’ [File]. (photo credit:AFP/ MOHD RASFAN)

WASHINGTON Texas has been a hotbed of anti-BDS activity in recent days, with the passage of a bill in the Senate on Wednesday that will bar state contracts and investment in companies that boycott Israel, and mounting criticism by Jewish organizations of a local banks BDS activity.

Chuck Lindell from the American-Statesman paper reported that the Texas Senate passed the bill opposing BDS (Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions) by a 25-4 vote and that it was sent to the Texas House of Representatives for a vote. No senators spoke in opposition to [bill] SB 29 before the vote, the paper reported, adding that the bills author, Sen. Brandon Creighton, said Texas should not do business with companies that participate in the BDS movement.

One such company, the International Association of Democratic Lawyers (IADL), maintains an account with the Dallas-based Comerica bank.

Comerica should close the account, said Daniel S. Mariaschin, executive vice president of Bnai Brith, an organization that testified on Wednesday in Texas in support of the anti-BDS bill. The IADL excuses the actions of terrorist organizations and denies Israels right to defend itself.

Like other financial institutions, Comerica does not have to provide everyone with an account or a loan, he said. Banks have recognized that they should not truck or have business with these types [BDS] of accounts.

The IADL supports Irans nuclear program and has a chapter in communist North Korea.

Jan Fermon, the secretary-general of IADL and a Belgium-based lawyer, wrote the The Jerusalem Post by email in early March that, Regarding BDS, IADL supports this movement.

He added, IADL engaged in solidarity with the Palestinian people in a very early stage of its existence because it considers the violations of international law and human rights law… by the Israeli authorities as a major obstacle to a just and lasting peace in the region.

Charles Kaufman, who chairs Bnai Briths International Center for Human Rights and Public Policy, delivered testimony in the Austin legislature in support of the anti-BDS bill. Kaufman, who lives in Texas, said, In another time, in another place in history, people who wanted to rid the earth of the Jewish people boycotted their businesses. Filled with fear, these good citizens, stripped of their possessions, separated from their families, would subsequently fill boxcars… and you the know rest.

Today is different, the Jewish people have a state, Israel, their ancestral homeland, a home shared with Christians and Muslims and many other faiths, he said. And yet, there are people who still want to rid the earth of Israel and demonize Jews in a shocking reply of antisemitism. The talk of a boycott is back. It is back in the form of an appalling spreading disease called BDS against Texass fourth largest trading partner.

The BDS movement would like you to believe that this effort will pressure Israel to make existential concessions to enemies who seek its destruction. This is simply the latest in a litany of false narratives that is threatening a democracy and a free world, said Kaufman.

Do Texans share the values of individual freedom, tolerance, mutual respect and pluralism with Israel? Absolutely, yes. Do we share a spirit of discovery, enterprise and security with the State of Israel? Yes. Do we need an anti-BDS law in Texas? In the face of a threatening movement? Sadly, yes.

Joel Schwitzer, the American Jewish Committees regional director in Dallas, told the Post: AJC recognizes that Comerica Bank, and other financial institutions, are clearly free to do business with whomever they choose. AJC urges banks to consider carefully what it means to extend an account to a discriminatory movement like BDS, which seeks to de-legitimize a single country and that often intersects with antisemitism.

Wayne Mielke, a spokesman for Comerica, responded to the Post by email, saying, We dont discuss customer relationships, and want you to know (again) that we have a robust compliance program at the bank.

Mielkes response is not good enough. It is a legalistic answer, said Mariaschin. The question for Comerica is: Do you want to do business with an organization [IADL] that engages in this type of activity? Mielke declined follow-up Post queries about whether the bank had launched an investigation into the IADL account and about Comericas views on BDS.

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Anti-BDS bill passes in Texas Senate – Diaspora – Jerusalem Post – Jerusalem Post Israel News

Design plans for Machon School unveiled – Wicked Local Swampscott

Posted By on March 27, 2017

Greg Phipps @swampscott_rep

It’s been a decade since the former Machon Elementary School closed operation in 2007. After years of public debate in Swampscott over what to do with the nearly-100-year-old vacant building and land, it appears the town is set to make use of the property on Burpee Road.

On Thursday at the high school, the town’s community development director Peter Kane and B’nai B’rith Housing representatives, Senior Project Manager Holly Grace and Executive Director Susan Gittelman unveiled a schematic draft of B’nai B’rith’s plan to construct Senior Residences at the Machon – a 38-unit senior affordable housing facility with 48 parking spaces.

“We have a special focus with senior affordable housing and we build with the goal of longevity,” said Gittelman of the project, which is estimated to cost $13 million. “We’re looking forward to a long partnership with the community.”

The plan calls for demolishing the 1963 portion of the school building and renovating the original 1920 three-floor structure. A new three-story addition will be erected on the west side of the original building. Landscaping improvements, including a retaining wall along the east-side parking lot and a front yard area, will also be done around the building.

B’nai B’rith, a non-profit senior housing developer in the Greater Boston area, will pay $500,000 for a 99-year lease on the property, according to Gittelman, who said the developer has agreed to provide $50,000 for infrastructure improvements to the surrounding area.

The senior housing plan was approved by a convincing 159-85 vote at Town Meeting last May despite vigorous and vocal opposition by some residents, who mostly favored the idea for open space usage.

Burpee Road resident Gerard Perry, who opposed the project at Town Meeting, acknowledged on Thursday that since the plan has received strong backing from the town, the selectmen need to make certain it reaps beneficial results for the community moving forward.

Kane said the proposal is set to be voted on by the Board of Selectmen April 5. If approved, the permit process could begin this summer and applications for financing could commence by early 2018. Kane said the construction could take up to 18 months but likely less time. The project could break ground by 2019, he added.

Grace pointed out that the design calls for the 38 one-bedroom apartments ranging between 600-700 square feet in size and 38 parking spaces for residents, with 10 more available for guest and employee parking. She said the facility will employ three full-time staff workers, including a residence coordinator and a maintenance person.

The facility will include community and fitness rooms, a computer room, library space, and a laundry room, Grace said.

“Part of our focus is to provide (resources) to keep residents as active as they can be and not become isolated,” said Gittelman of the senior housing community.

Grace added that construction plan calls for trying to avoid sand blasting during foundation work. She said all appropriate procedures will be followed.

“We’ve done environmental testing on the site and discovered lead paint and asbestos in the [existing] building that will need to be removed,” Grace reported. “We also tested the soil and that showed no exterior contamination [on the property].”

Property tax revenue, safety, rent costs, age qualifications, and parking were among the issues raised by residents at Thursday’s presentation. When asked what amount of town tax revenue might come from a fully occupied facility, Gittelman estimated a figure of $38,000 a year. She said the tax income is based on the rents, which she said would be around $1,000 a month. That figure covers utilities.

Gittelman said preference for residency will be given to people 62 or older, and that qualification is based on household income, which, for the majority of units, needs to be no more than 60 percent of the average median income. There is typically a waiting list of applicants due to the high demand for the senior housing, she added.

Grace said exterior lights will be directed downward to maintain safety for residents while not impacting neighboring properties. Surveillance cameras will be in place as well, she said.

Residents brought up potential problems the project might cause with storm water drainage in the area and what might be done to address it, as well as concerns about possible congestion brought about by people parking along Burpee Road to go to the facility.

One resident said the town and B’nai B’rith need to make sure repaving and repair work is done to Burpee Road and nearby streets after the construction is completed. Above all, area residents want to be kept informed.

“All I ask is that you keep neighbors involved and in the loop as to what is going on,” Perry said.

For more information and details on the Machon senior housing proposal, visit the Swampscott town website, or visit B’nai B’rith’s site at

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Design plans for Machon School unveiled – Wicked Local Swampscott

Georgia Democrats harbor hope with one of three Jewish candidates – The Jewish Standard

Posted By on March 27, 2017

WASHINGTON One candidate has the endorsement of a civil rights giant. Another boasts that he changes his oil in his pickup truck. A third coached soccer at the local community center.

Its politics as usual in Georgia, except that these three candidates who are among the 18 running in the special election on April 18 in Georgias 6th Congressional District are Jewish.

The election is a jungle or blanket primary, an open race in which the top two vote-getters, regardless of party, face off against one another in a June 20 runoff barring the unlikely event that one candidate tops 50 percent.

Race figures prominently in this election in the Atlanta suburbs, as does traditional values (another candidate is prominent in the right-to-life movement). But all politics is local; attracting jobs to the district and improving mass transit are major campaign themes.

The election is atypical, however, in two ways: Democrats see it as their first opportunity to wound President Donald Trump, and the presence of the Jewish candidates, notably Jon Ossoff, a Democrat who is attracting national media attention as the likeliest to pull off an upset.

That one-sixth of the candidates are Jewish in the 6th is something of an anomaly, said Steve Oppenheimer, a businessman who backs Ossoff. (Five of the candidates are Democrats.)

What are we, two percent nationwide? asked Oppenheimer, who has served on the national boards of the American Israel Public Affairs Committee and Hillel, talking about Jewish voters. If we were twice that here and that may be a stretch we are not going to be the swing vote.

Not that Ossoff, a scholarly and serious 30-year-old, is reluctant to chat about his Jewish upbringing if he is asked.

I was bar mitzvahed at The Temple, which is a Reform synagogue, he said, somewhat didactically. My Jewish upbringing imbued me with certain values, a commitment to justice and peace.

Ossoff perhaps is best known as a muckraking documentary filmmaker who once was an intern to Rep. John Lewis (D-Ga.); now the civil rights giant is endorsing him. (Ossoff later was an aide on national security policy to another Georgia Democrat, Hank Johnson, who also has endorsed him.)

That biography and Trumps surprisingly poor performance in November in a district that for decades has been solidly Republican has propelled Ossoff to the front of the diverse pack of candidates. A poll commissioned by zpolitics, a website tracking politics in Georgia, had him at 41 percent on Monday, while his closest two contenders, both Republicans, are tied at 16.

Tom Price, the previous incumbent, won the district by more than 20 points in November, but Trump beat Clinton in the district by barely a percentage point. Trump tapped Price to be his health secretary, and Trumps poor performance led Democrats to smell blood. (Ossoffs slogan? Make Trump furious.)

Ossoff, young and personable, soon emerged as a national Democratic favorite, and a fundraising drive led by the liberal website Daily Kos, among other factors, has made him the candidate to beat. He reportedly has $3 million in his campaign coffers. The Democratic National Committee and the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee have deployed resources to his campaign.

That, in turn, has led to coverage in the national media, including front-page treatment in the New York Times and profiles in the New Yorker, Esquire, and the Los Angeles Times.

Every one of those treatments includes a requisite skeptical note from impartial observers of Georgias politics: Ossoff, they say, is gobbling up Democratic support, and likely will place on April 18, but the notion that he can win in the runoff in the historically red district is far-fetched.

Kerwin Swint of Kennesaw State University is typical of those pundits. On February 27, he told the Atlanta Journal-Constitution that a Democrat could conceivably sneak into the runoff, but that Democrat would almost surely lose the runoff. The numbers just arent there yet.

Democrats, giddy at Ossoffs surge in the polls, believe the numbers are coming in. Ossoff says hes running to win outright on April 18, although that tends to get even his supporters eyes rolling.

Sheri Labovitz, a longtime Democratic activist, has not endorsed Ossoff formally, but she believes he has momentum.

Hes got a machinery working with him that has some very good research, hes got bodies knocking on doors every day and every weekend, she said. If you can turn your voters out, youve got a great shot.

And Labovitz said that Jewish interest in the race is unexpectedly strong. She expected perhaps 30 people to show up last month at a salon she organized for Jewish Democratic women that featured Ossoff and two other candidates: Ron Slotin, a former state senator who also is Jewish, and Sally Harrell, a former state representative who since has withdrawn. Instead, 200 people packed the room.

Ossoff said he was wowed by the turnout.

Jewish women are leading a lot of the political engagement in the community, he said.

Still, Labovitz is reserving judgment on a final call until she sees which of the 11 Republicans in the race emerge to compete with Ossoff.

Its a gerrymandered district, she said. Can a Democrat make the runoff? I really think so. Can a Democrat win? I would like to think so.

The two Republicans who are ahead in polls would provide a sharp contrast with Ossoff.

Karen Handel earned national notoriety in 2012 when, while she was vice president at Susan G. Komen for the Cure, a charity that combats breast cancer, it cut off its relationship with Planned Parenthood. In the ensuing controversy, Komen, which was founded by a well-known Jewish Republican philanthropist, Nancy Brinker, who named it after her late sister, reinstated the relationship with the reproductive rights and womens health group. Handel then left the organization, becoming something of a hero to abortion opponents.

Bob Gray, a former council member in the town of Johns Creek, has an ad that opens with Trump pledging to drain the swamp. It fades to Gray, in overalls, draining a swamp literally to the twang of blues chords on an acoustic guitar.

Republican ads target Ossoff as an interloper in a conservative redoubt. The Congressional Leadership Fund, a national Republican political action committee, uncovered video from his days at Georgetown University where, costumed as a bare-chested Han Solo, he wielded a light saber and extolled the virtues of beer.

Not ready, the ad said.

Ossoff says that a national superPAC attacking him is a sign of how serious his bid is. His current incarnation clean cut, well turned out, and soft spoken, and the CEO of a documentary film company that delves into cutting-edge issues like corruption in Africa and the mistreatment of women by Islamist terrorists deflects bids that portray him as unripe.

Ossoff is more sensitive to charges that he is a carpetbagger; he lives just outside the district boundaries. That gets him testy. My significant other is a medical student at Emory, and she needs to walk to work, he said.

Casting him as an outsider resonates with some voters in a mixed rural-suburban district. Jere Wood, the mayor of Roswell, a town in the district, told the New Yorker earlier this month that Ossoffs name alone would alienate voters.

If you just say Ossoff, some folks are gonna think, Is he Muslim? Is he Lebanese? Is he Indian? Wood said.

Ossoff likely would enjoy the jab; he wears his progressive badge with pride. He turned up at Atlantas Hartsfield-Jackson International Airport on the Saturday night that Trumps first executive order banning refugees and other travelers from Muslim-majority countries went into effect, and he identifies with them as a matter of heritage.

American Jews all share that immigrant story, and that perspective hardens my resolve to fight for an open and optimistic vision of our country where if you work hard you can get ahead, where we welcome those who come here to build the country, he said.

Ossoff also signals familiarity with the Middle East. His campaign biography notes that when he was at Georgetown, he studied under Michael Oren, the historian and former Israeli ambassador to Washington. Oppenheimer, Ossoffs backer, says that when he was a congressional aide Ossoff helped draft Iran sanctions, but also is quick to note that Ossoff had left the job by the time Democrats were backing the Iran nuclear deal that so riled AIPAC.

He was not involved in the deal President Obama made, Oppenheimer said with emphasis.

If Ossoff and his backers are right, and distaste for Trump and hardline conservatism threatens to turn this district blue, then David Abroms would be a formidable adversary in the runoff. But this Jewish Republican is not registering in the polls, finishing next to last among the eight candidates named in the zpolitics poll, with less than 2 percent of the vote.

Abroms, 33, avoids mentioning Trump in his campaigning. He focuses instead on his business converting vehicles to running on natural gas and how he hopes to bring his ideas of energy independence from the Middle East to Washington.

A lot of wealth goes overseas to the Middle East to people who dont like us very much, it hampers our national security, it hampers Israels national security, he said in an interview.

Abroms, who interned for former Alabama Senator Jeff Sessions, who now is the U.S. attorney general, is relaxed with both his Southern and Jewish heritages.

I consider myself a paradox, he said. Im a Jewish accountant, but I drive my pickup truck and I do my oil changes, and I listen to country music.

Slotin is another moderate albeit a Democrat who likely wont make the cut. The zpolitics poll, with 625 respondents and a margin of error of 3.8 percentage points, had him just ahead of Abroms at 3 percent. A state senator in the 1990s who ran unsuccessfully against Cynthia McKinney for Congress McKinney went on to become one of the bodys most strident Israel critics he is reviving his slogan from that era, Votin Slotin, and campaigning on bipartisanship and bringing jobs to the district.

Slotin, 54, is an executive headhunter who once owned the Atlantic Jewish Life magazine and coached soccer at a local JCC. He touts his role as part of the government team that crafted tax credits that brought TV and movie production into the state.

What I bring to the district is stronger against any Republican candidate than what [Ossoff] brings to the district, he said.

The zpolitics poll suggests that might be true: A question asking for a second choice indicative of how the runoff might play out had Slotin by far the leader with 34 percent, while Ossoff got 5.6 percent.

JTA Wire Service

Georgia Democrats harbor hope with one of three Jewish candidates – The Jewish Standard

Is Zionism a bad word? – Jewish Journal

Posted By on March 25, 2017

With characteristic poise, Rabbi David Wolpe turned to the three panelists onstage at Sinai Temple on a recent Wednesday evening, in front of a sellout crowd of some 250 people.

Im going to start with a quick yes-or-no question, he began. Do you believe that people under 35 are less attached to the State of Israel than they were 30 years ago?

On either side of me were Rabbi Sarah Bassin, 34, of Temple Emanuel of Beverly Hills, and Sam Yebri, 35, a lawyer, accomplished leaders in their respective Jewish communities, progressive and Persian. Each answered immediately in the affirmative. And then there was me the only millennial on the panel, feeling intellectually outmatched, my headset pressing uncomfortably into the back of my skull.

Yes, I answered quickly.

And yet, in my mind, I was already hedging, picking at the very premise of the question. I scribbled the phrase less attached on the legal pad perched on my knee and frowned at it. Of course my generation is less attached to Israel. Is a parent less attached to an 18-year-old child than to a defenseless toddler taking its first steps into the world?

Thats the difference the past 30 years have wrought for Israel: from a state struggling out of its uncertain beginnings to a proud and mighty nation. Over the generations, the meaning of the word Israel has changed, and consequently, inevitably, so has the meaning of the word Zionism.

No one in the Jewish community supported a Palestinian state I mean, no one, post-1967, Wolpe said at the March 15 panel about young Zionists, sponsored by Hadassah and the Jewish Journal. Then, a Palestinian state became orthodoxy. Everybody in the Jewish community supported a Palestinian state. Now, its becoming unorthodox again.

The pendulum has swung wildly and often. What began in Europe as a movement of socialists and atheists to re-establish a Jewish homeland these days often feels monopolized by the religious right.

Instead of creating bridges, we are contributing to the conflict between East and West by our stupid desire to have more. A.B. Yehoshua, Israeli author

Each generation defines and redefines Zionism to suit its needs and circumstances. Its a task that becomes more and more difficult, as each passing year is another separating todays youth from the movements inception.

By the time I enrolled at UCLA, Zionism was read in many circles as a type of extremism. Really? an editor at the UCLA Daily Bruin once said to me after I professed to being a Zionist. I didnt expect that. I read his meaning well enough: How could a person who seems to be reasonable also be a Zionist?

It used to be that the definition was a simpler and easier one, dictated by ironclad concerns of Jewish continuance and survival. Such was the case, for instance, in the Galician shtetl where my paternal grandfather was born, where Zionism meant young people training together in preparation to cultivate the land that would shortly become their only refuge.

In 1939, my great uncle, Mordechai Arom, was one such youth, preparing to join his brother, my grandfather Shmuel, in Mandatory Palestine, when their mother took ill. Mordechai was ready to stay in Poland to care for his dying mother, but she called him to her bedside and commanded him to go. With her dying act, she became the matriarch of a Zionist tradition that still holds. The first day Mordechai arrived in Palestine, he received a telegram that shed died. His first week in the Holy Land was spent sitting shivah for his mother.

For my grandfather Shmuel, in the years after the war, Zionism meant building an observant congregation in Rishon LeZion even while questioning the God that sent his relatives to be slaughtered en masse. He died in 1964, struck by a car while collecting alms for the temple, later named Neve Shmuel in his honor.

Zionism intruded on my mother at Leuzinger High School in Lawndale, on June 10, 1967, when news came over the radio in Mr. Camerons 12th-grade history class that Israeli troops had taken the Western Wall plaza. My mother was visibly emotional, so the teacher dismissed her to the library, where she wept.

After college, she got on an airplane for the first time ever and flew to Jerusalem, not knowing a soul in Israel, not a cousin, not a second cousin, nobody. She stayed for two years. As soon as I knew there was a State of Israel, I knew I had to go, she said.

Those years marked an inflection point for Zionism. It had started almost a century earlier as a whisper, an outlandish notion popularized by Theodor Herzl, a peripatetic journalist and self-identified atheist. It began, if you will, as a bad word, denounced by much of the Jewish establishment as a Messianic affectation. In 1880, Rabbi Isaac Mayer Wise, the founder of Hebrew Union College, wrote, We want no Jewish princes, and no Jewish country or government.

Zionism demands a publicly recognized and legally secured homeland in Palestine for the Jewish people. This platform is unchangeable. Theodor Herzl, father of modern Zionism

Of course, the attainment of such a country in 1948 changed everything. My mother was born three years later, and the first 16 years of her life were marked by an aspirational Zionism, with Israel as the David to an Arab Goliath.

That Zionism reached its high point in 1967, with Israels astonishing victory in the Six-Day War. Then, Israel enjoyed the worlds admiration. Today, pro-Palestinian activists, including thousands of Jews, see 1967 as the beginning of the occupation the moment the Jewish people went from oppressed to oppressor.

That unlikely triumph has come back to haunt the conscience of American Jewish youth, who have never known any Zionism other than one of victory and strength.

Meanwhile, the 80-year history of flight, toil and fear of death that my parents and grandparents experienced as Zionism is regularly obliterated by the reductionist slogans of pro-Palestinian groups and their allies, for whom a Zionist is an occupier, Jews are the White Man and oppression in Palestine is no different from oppression in Ferguson, Mo.

Nearly half a century after my mother graduated from UCLA, African-American activist Amy Hunter was invited by Students for Justice in Palestine to speak at UCLAs campus as part of Palestine Awareness Week.

We will not be free here in the United States if they are not free in Palestine, she told a small but diverse audience, their fingers snapping in agreement. Im clear about that.

Its not as if the Zionism-is-racism equivalence is news. My mom remembers campus leftists asserting as much in the early 1970s. In response, she and her Hillel buddies walked around with pins that read, I am a Zionist.

Those pins still might be a good idea today. In 2017, campus Zionists face a movement that bills itself as a global liberation struggle. In the parlance of that struggle, Zionist is a slur, and the connections and political opinions it suggests have become so toxic as to discourage its use, even among many who ostensibly support Jewish statehood. Imagine if people who dont eat meat balked at calling themselves vegetarians.

Among the reasons for my invitation to speak at Sinai Temple are the many conversations I have in the course of my reporting with members of the Jewish far left, including the group IfNotNow, a diffuse network of young Jews openly challenging the Jewish establishment for its support of the status quo in Israel and the Palestinian territories.

Its neither the largest nor the most influential pro-Palestinian Jewish group, but its the newest and, because of its confrontational approach, perhaps the most worrisome for mainstream Jewish organizations. Lately, Ive taken to asking members of IfNotNow if they consider themselves to be Zionists.

Unanimously, they decline to be quoted by name and then give variations of the same answer: Ive moved past the term. It doesnt apply. Its beside the point. I dont identify either way.

These young people are neither Zionist nor anti-Zionist theyre post-Zionist.

In fact, IfNotNow and its constituency seem to be in the minority of young people in that they care about Israel at all. A Pew Research Cemter poll in 2013 found that among Jews 18 to 29 years old, 32 percent said caring about Israel is essential to being Jewish, compared with 53 percent of Jews age 65 and older.

Within that slice of young Jews, there is, of course, a considerable range of opinion. Among such groups as IfNotNow and J Street and Jewish Voice for Peace, caring means advocating a Palestinian state for the sake of maintaining a Jewish one.

But on the other hand, when the American Israel Public Affairs Committee convenes its annual policy conference later this month in Washington, D.C., you can bet there will be plenty of Jewish youth in attendance for whom caring about Israel means something very different. Just ask Ron Krudo, executive director of campus affairs for the pro-Israel organization StandWithUs, which is active on high school and college campuses across the country. Notwithstanding anti-Israel sentiment, students are excited to share their stories of being a proud Zionist, and what Zionism means to them.

Even on some of these tougher campuses, you can always find a student whos inspired to take action and be a voice, said Krudo, 26.

Yet the fact remains that most young Jews cant be bothered to care, or at least dont feel their Judaism compels them to. For many, the question of Zionism is so fraught with contradiction that its much easier just to swear it off entirely.

Im not immune to my generations ambivalence on the matter of Jewish nationalism. In the vocabulary of my education on a liberal campus, the word nationalist is likely to follow the word white or militant or ultra. In other words, mine is a Zionism thats not without reservations.

Let no American imagine that Zionism is inconsistent with patriotism. Multiple loyalties are objectionable only if they are inconsistent. Supreme Court Justice Louis D. Brandeis

But to say that Im post-Zionist would be tantamount to saying that Im post-Jewish which is simple and easy but altogether untrue. The struggle for Jewish nationhood was written into my biography long before I was born.

After all, if it werent for the itinerant Zionism that motivated my grandfather Shmuel to drag his wife, the daughter of a cultured and well-to-do German-Jewish family, to hardscrabble Palestine, where they slept in tents and toiled without end, it might very well have been somebody elses byline on this story; I may well have never been born. Israel is the center of gravity for world Jewry. You may object to its pull, but you simply cant free yourself from its orbit.

To be sure, mine is not the blustering, self-assured Zionism of my parents. Even having this conversation with my mother sets her singing an interminable series of Israeli folk songs. Recently, standing in her kitchen, I pressed her on whether she truly believes that God gave us all the land from the Jordan River to the Mediterranean Sea. Listen, she replied, I dont know who gave it to us, but its ours.

Im not so sure about that. But that doesnt mean were not part of the same movement, she and I, the same multigenerational struggle for identity and soil. The panel at Sinai Temple landed repeatedly on the idea of big-tent Zionism. The tent has to be big enough for my parents and me.

Sometimes, that prospect feels doubtful. But nothing could be more necessary for the continuance of the movement. If Zionism is little more than a narrow political creed, it can be shouted down or reasoned away. What ultimately will win over the next generation of Zionists is what Yebri called the beautiful aspect and miraculous magical aspect of Zionism.

The miracle, in short, is that in 80 years, we have moved from total disempowerment to a position of such security and strength that we can argue bitterly among ourselves about what to do with it. Its a compelling narrative, if we can capitalize on it.

One of the strongest indicators of having a strong Jewish identity, beyond campus and education and peer trips to Israel, is a Jewish grandparent that identifies strongly with his or her Judaism, and I would submit that follows for Zionism, Yebri told the crowd at Sinai Temple. So if youre a parent or a grandparent in this room who feels strongly about Israel dont delegate it to school or a book or Birthright, because by that point its too late.

I suspect that many of the Jewish youth who have distanced themselves from Zionism arent as familiar with the Zionist narrative of their forebears as they are with todays more politically charged definitions. If they were, they might be more likely to adopt it, baggage and all. It is, after all, an enthralling story, with no small share of heroes and martyrs.

A decade after sitting shivah for his mother, Mordechai, my great uncle, closed out his own life by sacrificing it to the Zionist cause cut down while defending his village in Gush Etzion during the War of Independence. This, before Green Lines and settlement blocs and two-state solutions.

If the next Jewish generation wants to be part of a global struggle for liberation, then it may as well be our own.

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Is Zionism a bad word? – Jewish Journal

Can a Feminist Be a Zionist? Our Readers Respond | The Nation – The Nation.

Posted By on March 25, 2017

Women and allies march during the International Womens Strike on March 8, 2017, in New York, New York. (Sipa USA via AP Images)

Editors Note: Collier Meyersons interview with Linda Sarsour about Zionism and feminism, published last week at, generated a number of thoughtful letters from readers, as well as a response from Emily Shire, whose New York Times op-ed on the subject prompted Meyersons interview. Selected letters, and Meyersons response, appear below; the first reply is Shires, a version of which she published at the Forward.

I recently wrote in The New York Timesabout my concerns, as a Zionist feminist, with the March 8 International Womens Strike. Because the platform for the strike called for the decolonization of Palestine as part of the beating heart of this new feminist movement and one of its prominent organizers, Rasmea Odeh, is a convicted terrorist, I feared there was no room for a feminist like myself who believes Israel has a right to exist.

On March 13, The Nation published an interview by Collier Meyerson with Linda Sarsour, one of the leaders of the January 21 Womens March. I respect the work Sarsour has done for the Womens March, and I admire the way she has committed so much of her life to feminism. However, I was disappointed that Meyersons interview with Sarsour failed to address the actual concerns I presented in the Times.

Meyerson and Sarsour glossed over the fact that I wrote at the outset, I hope for a two-state solution and am critical of certain Israeli government policies. Ignoring that basic tenet of my perspective is a serious misrepresentation that seems all too convenient.

Incidentally, Sarsour appears to openly oppose the two-state solutionthe very two-state solution championed by Bernie Sanders in February at J Streets national conference, where he criticized Donald Trump for waffling on it. (Sarsours opposition to two states does not seem very progressive to me, but lets put that aside.)

Sarsour then made an insinuation that was both presumptuous and inaccurate. She said, Its been a little surprising to the [right-wing Zionists] to see [Palestinian-American] women in leadership roles in social-justice movements because [they are realizing] it means that the Palestinian Liberation Movement and the Palestinian Solidarity Movement are gaining traction among young people and people of color in the United States. Not only do I not identify as a right-wing Zionist, as noted above, but I certainly do not find the leadership of Palestinian women to be surprising or anything less than positive.

I sincerely hope women of all backgrounds take on feminist leadership roles. However, I draw a hard line at convicted terrorists, like Rasmea Odeh. Odeh was convicted for her role in a bombing that killed two Jewish college students at Hebrew University in a trial deemed fair by an observer from the International Red Cross. Though she disputes her conviction, Odeh has never denied being a member of a US and European Union-designated terrorist group, the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine. Tellingly, Meyerson and Sarsour conveniently do not address Odehs history, even though it formed a substantial part of my pieceso much so that the Times chose to feature her picture on the page.

Sarsour and Meyerson also failed to address why is it that Israel should be singled out for the suffering of Palestinian women and children. I deeply sympathize with Palestinian women; according to the United Nations, 29.9% of ever-married women in the West Bank and 51% in the Gaza Strip have been subjected to a form of violence within the household. The same report noted that According to the Independent Commission for Human Rights and womens organizations, 28 women were killed in the name of so-called honour in 2013, which signals a worrying deterioration and/or increased reporting, since in 2012, the reported number was 12 and in 2011, it was 8. One would think that the organizers behind the International Womens Strike platform would, at least, be just as interested in combating domestic patriarchal abuse and oppression of Palestinian women, who are also denied access to safe abortionunless they travel to Israel. This insistence on impugning Israel alone in the oppression of Palestinian women, then, is neither fair nor factual.

In the interview, Sarsour declared, Whether youre talking about Palestinian women, Mexican women, women in Brazil, China, or women in Saudi Arabiathis feminist movement is an international global movement. Mexico, Brazil, China and Saudi Arabia were not censured in the platform. Neither was Yemen, where, according to Human Rights Watch, women face severe discrimination in law and practicecannot marry without the permission of their male guardian and do not have equal rights to divorce, inheritance, or child custody. Also, lack of legal protection leaves them exposed to domestic and sexual violence. Why was there no criticism of Pakistan, where according toHuman Rights Watch, violence against women and girlsincluding rape, murder through so-called honor killings, acid attacks, domestic violence, and forced marriageremained routine and Pakistani human rights NGOs estimate that there are about 1,000 honor killings every year.

I am not suggesting anyone let the Jewish state off the hook or refrain from criticizing its government or policies. I am questioning why no non-Jewish state appears to have been held to the same standard. That does not seem to reflect a commitment to equality; quite the reverse.

Sarsour said in the interview, I would say that anyone who wants to call themselves an activist cannot be selective. Thus, in addition to not acknowledging my argument, Sarsour does not seem to appreciate the implications of her own.

Emily Shire

My parents came to Israel from Morocco, a country where Jews and Muslims lived together in harmony for centuries. They instilled in me and my siblings a loving humanism that demands we treat people of different race, gender, and religion with equal respect. As an Israeli woman, I inhabit multiple identitiesa Jew of Sephardi origin, a woman fighting for justice, a proud Zionist.

Sarsour questions whether one can simultaneously be a Zionist and a feminist. The history of the feminist movement, and the rich tradition of feminism within Israel, argues unambiguously yes. To claim that these movements are incompatible effectively erases the legacy of Jewish womens involvement in feminismof women who simultaneously hold dear a belief in the right of the Jewish people to self-determination, and the reality of women and our allies who are fighting on behalf of womens rights in Israel and elsewhere.

Feminism as a global movement is about liberation of women from all walks of life and claiming agency over ones own life for equity of opportunity. This movement must be open to women of all identities if we are to stand together for our collective liberation.

Palestinian women undoubtedly have a place in feminism. However, the political litmus tests for what constitutes feminism can mislead and exclude. The Israeli-Palestinian conflictand the respective societies which constitute that conflictare far more complex than what is offered in the simplistic platforms that have recently been incorporated into social justice movements under the guise of intersectionality.

As an Israeli committed to fostering a more equal and tolerant societyone in which Arab, Druze, Bedouin, LGBT, secular and religious, and Jewish and Palestinian women have an equal placeI am proud to say that I am both a Zionist and a feminist.

Carole Nuriel Director, Israel Office Anti-Defamation League Jerusalem

As a young Jewish woman who loves Judaism and whose Jewish journey is inseparable from my activism, I write to share my dismaynot with the content of your article but with the title your publication chose for it. The title is clickbait and is not reflected in Linda Sarsours thoughtful interview. This is what she says: Is there room for people who support the state of Israel and do not criticize it in the movement? There cant be in feminism. You either stand up for the rights of all women, including Palestinians, or none. This says nothing of excluding Zionists from the feminist movement, and your titles suggestion that it does caters to a dangerous conflation of Zionism and a refusal to criticize Israel. Headlines like this create misperceptions that hurt our movements for justice. Erasing the nuance of Sarsours comment diminishes a powerful opportunity for people involved in the feminist movement to learn about the struggles of Palestinian women, and to realize the ways in which this struggle can/should become an integral part of their Judaism (and their Zionism). If I have learned one thing so far as a young person doing this work, it is that my desire to criticize and push Jewish and Israeli institutions comes from a place of deep love. I criticize Israel because I am a Zionist, and because I long for it to be a place that lives up to the Jewish values I hold. I push my Jewish community to fight for justice, because I cannot imagine my life without it and want it to be the vibrant, dynamic community I know it can be. In order for this to be possible, we need to lean into the nuance, holding the criticism and love together in our fights for justice. Rachel Leiken

In this time of alternative facts purging reality, I was disappointed to see Collier Meyersons interview of Linda Sarsour. To lump into the struggle to protect and advance womens rights the dispute as to whether Israel has a historic right to exist or is a colonial power controlling the West bank like China controls Tibet is wrong. By drawing the Israeli/Palestinian conflict in as a feminist issue, Sarsour and others push away allies who support improving the lives and positions of women in this country and in every other country in the world, but believe Israel has a right to exist. Colonialism vs. poor people of native origin is an interesting topic for one discussion, but it is totally different from whether women should be empowered to have an education, own their own property, work outside the home, have a salary equal to that of men, etc.

The stakes are higher now than ever. Get The Nation in your inbox.

Here, in the United States, we have already moved away from guardians controlling who we should marry as well as our property, or laws allowing the beating of wives under some circumstances, all legal in the 19th century. Our issues for the last 30 years have been focused on the rights to be educated, be able to work in fields and professions for which we can be qualified by training and education, salary equal to that given to a man with the same responsibilities and education, protection against domestic and other physical or mental abuses, access to good, safe, affordable childcare as well as the opportunity to stay home with our children or not to have children if we so choose. There has been great progress, but also strong push back to each and every gain. We who the treasure the life of each woman as much as we support womens potential to bear new life currently face some rather pressing issues. Health insurance for all of us, men and women, may be even more difficult to obtain and expensive in the near future. At the same time, a decrease in environmental, product- and food-safety regulations might trigger more asthma, food-borne illnesses and other problems we thought we were eradicating. There is quite a bit to do just within the territory between the Atlantic and the Pacific Oceans.

Israelis also want to live in peace and security and also believe they have an historic right to live on the land now called Israel. The right to live in dignity, peace, and security belongs to women in Israel, in the West Bank, in Syria, in Europe, in the United States, in Russia, all over. And, it also belongs to men. It is not strictly a womens issue. We in the US do have plenty of our own rights that are being eroded as I type. And if we dont work hard and focus on protecting them, they will be gone. Then, there are real problems elsewhere, like rapes where the one raped is dishonored and sometimes killed to protect the honor of her family, and other issues applying only to women. Pulling the Palestinians are subject to colonial rule versus Jews have historically and religiously been attached to the land for centuries and, by the way, Israel is a democratic state issue into the definition of feminism dilutes the real issue and pushes away potential allies, like me. This is wrong, especially since when everything folks have fought for and won since the turn of the 20th century is under attack.

Janyce C. Katz, Esq. Columbus, Ohio

Last week Emily Shire, politics editor at Bustle, published an op-ed in The New York Times headlined Does Feminism have room for Zionists? Shire wrote that as someone who identified as both a feminist and a Zionist, she felt alienate[d] by language in the International Womens Strike platform, which called for the decolonization of Palestine.

Shires New York Times op-ed posed a complicated question: Why should criticism of Israel be key to feminism in 2017? Criticisms of Zionism and feminism, Shire argued, should not exist in the same spaces. The piece struck me an argument against intersectional feminism, a well-established movement within feminist thought since the 1980s that posits that race, gender, sexuality, ethnicity, and class shape one another and should be tackled together.

As I mulled Shires op-ed, I wondered what voices were being left out of this debate. The answer seemed obvious: Palestinians. This happens far too often in high-profile discussions of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict in American media. So when I set out to respond to her piece, it was important to me that I elevate someone who held an opposing view.

Being a Palestinian-American, a feminist, an activist and an organizer, Linda Sarsour was ideally situated to address Shires op-ed. In addition to being the executive director of the Arab American Association of New York, Sarsour was an organizer of the Womens March on Washington, perhaps the largest political protest in American history.

Shire did not get the answers she wanted from Sarsour and sent a letter to the editor, which she also published as a rejoinder to the Q&A in the Forward, indicating that she wanted a point-by-point rebuttal of the New York Times op-ed. But a point-by-point rebuttal was never my intention; rather, instead, I wanted to explore the other side of this debate with a person qualified to address it. Shires demand that either Sarsour or I address her bill of particulars was particularly perplexing to me since Shire herself did not take on, in either of her pieces, a single opposing viewpoint.

Shires op-ed left out a lot of relevant information. And its possible that she did not have space in her piece to dive into all the nitty-gritty details of all the points she raised. But here are some details the discussion is incomplete without. Shire dismissed Rasmea Odeh as a convicted terrorist and, while acknowledging that her conviction is disputed, declined to mention that Odeh has alleged she falsely confessed to helping orchestrate an explosion that killed two Israeli civilians only after she was tortured and raped in Israeli custody for 25 days, at age 21. This is a relevant detail not only in the dispute over Odehs conviction but also to the larger debate over whether criticizing Israel should be key to feminism in 2017. At play here is a woman who says her breasts and genitalia underwent electric shock, and that her torturers raped her with a thick wooden stick.

Shire had a chance to make her case, and she did it in the esteemed New York Times op-ed pages. But the question she askedWhy should criticism of Israel be key to feminism in 2017?leaves room for many answers other than her own, and I simply tried to provide one. Shire doesnt get to dictate the terms of the debate to an intersectional Palestinian feminist. Thats the viewpoint I sought out for my Q&A, and I hope readers of The Nation found it enlightening and engaging.

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Can a Feminist Be a Zionist? Our Readers Respond | The Nation – The Nation.

The question isn’t whether feminism has room for Zionism – +972 Magazine

Posted By on March 25, 2017

The question is whether Zionism can make room for a trulyinclusive equality.

Hundreds take part in a Womens March protest outside the U.S. embassy in Tel Aviv, January 21, 2017. (Tomer Neuberg/Flash90

In a recent New York Times op-edDoes Feminism have Room for Zionists?Emily Shire, who identifies as a feminist and a Zionist, argues that her belief in Israels right to exist as a Jewish state should not be at odds with her feminism.

According to Shire, women who seekto be included in the womens protests against the current U.S. administration should not have to face a critical of Israel litmus test. She takes issue with theStrikes platform, which specifically calls for the decolonization of Palestine, but which doesnt mention the myriad other injustices inflicted on women across the world.

But Shire herself brings up her own Zionism. She states her relationship to Israel shouldnt be a factor for the womens protest, while simultaneously demanding a space for it Zionism being a giant, pertinent caveat. In doing so, Shireis ironically subjecting women active in the movement to her own litmus test.

Shire is asking thewrong question. It is not whether feminism has room for Zionists, but whether Zionism has room for equal rights. Zionisms manifestation as a political system operating for almost 69 years now has thus far proven it does not have that room. The State of Israel was founded as a safe haven for Jews and is premised on privileging Jews over all others. It is not a country for all its citizens over 20 percent of whom are not Jewish at all but for all Jewish people (and increasingly, onlycertain kinds of Jewsto boot).

Shire gives the impression that she hasnt sat down to consider how Palestinian womens rights, in Israel and in the occupied territories, are systematically affected by Israels very raison dtre. (The fact that they are also trampled within Palestinian society does not absolve Israel of responsibility). Instead she insists on Israels right to exist as a Jewish state. But if onedoes not define what that should mean for Palestinians, oneis evading the core issue. So far, it has de facto meant Israel has had the right to exist as a system of supremacy of one group over another.

Palestinian students chant slogans during a rally to show solidarity with Palestinians clashing with the Israeli troops in the West Bank and Jerusalem, in Rafah, southern Gaza Strip, October 14, 2015. (Abed Rahim Khatib /Flash90)

I also support the right of Jews to self-determination. But as a Jewish ethno-nationalist state, Israel cannot uphold equal rights. That is a fact. So the question then, is, can a Jewish state exist that doesnt systematically violate basic human rights?

Im not sure. With the right intentions, probably. Its a worthy and challenging question one that American and Israeli Jews were grappling with to an extent during the period surrounding Israels establishment. What should a Jewish state look like? How can it function as a democracy?

This is an important debate about nationalism and civic democracy, but it is primarily an intra-Jewish issue and has nothing to do with the current wave of feminism in the U.S. It is not the job of Palestinian-American feminist Linda Sarsourto make Zionist women feel more comfortable about the contradictions they are facing. If anything, considering Israels track record, it is up to Zionist women to take efforts to assure non-Zionist feminists of their commitment to equal rights.

All forms of violence and oppression against women should be opposed. The International Womens Strike platform could have mentioned all forms of oppression against women not just Israel; that only Israel was mentioned is part of the zeitgeist. It cannot be seen in isolation from the context in which Israel oversees the longest-standing military occupation in modern history, while simultaneously being thelargest beneficiary of U.S. foreign aid, acting with near total impunity and with no end in sight.

Linda Sarsour speaks at a panel on Islamophobia at the Festival of Faiths, Louisville, United States, May 19, 2016.

As an Israeli Jew who actively opposes Israels system of rule and supports Palestinian human rights, I may not agree with every tactic employed by the Palestinian resistance movement. But who am I to tell them how to resist their own oppression? As Linda Sarsour said in her interview inThe Nationresponding to Shires piece feminism is a movement and BDS is a tactic. If you dont support BDS, you can choose to not take part in it, but proactively opposing BDS because it is an alienating tactic for a Zionist is misguided.

In the age of Trump, in which the current feminist forces are operating, many liberal American Jews are finding themselves increasingly pushed into a corner, forced to choose between their liberalism and their support for Israel; between the motto never again to Jews and never again to anyone.

Jews, of course, have the right to equality, self-determination and dignity, like all other human beings. No one in the feminist movement has denied this. But as long as Israel, in its current construction, continues to be a fundamentally un-progressive entity that is incompatible with equality, Zionists in the feminist camp are going to continue to feel rightly uncomfortable.

A longer version of this article first appeared on March 19, 2017 in Haaretz.

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The question isn’t whether feminism has room for Zionism – +972 Magazine

Shoe Collection Drive Winds Down After More Than 5000 Pairs Donated –

Posted By on March 25, 2017

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KINGSTON — Last month, Newswatch 16 introduced you to a shoe-collecting drive at one school in Luzerne County.

Several weeks later, the stands of the school gymnasium at Wyoming Valley West Middle School are overflowing with bags upon bags of shoes.

“We have basketball shoes, we have cleats, slippers, we have everything,” exclaimed student Anthony Severns.

Organizers are closing in on 6,000 pairs of shoesas the collection drive in the classroom comes to a close.

“It makes me happy to think that all the kids that don’t have shoes are getting them,” said 6th grader Angelina Pellam.

The gently used shoes are bought by a nonprofit, with the money raised going to the school. The nonprofit then resells the shoes in developing countries at a discount to those who need them.

“We’re helping our school and helping others at the same time,” said 8th grader Madi Heckman.

The school initially hoped to collect about 2,500 pairs of shoes, which they achieved in just three weeks. Since then, they have doubled their collection and then some.

A fundraiser unlike any other that Beverly Thomas has seen at the school.

“Our children had to put out nothing,” said Beverly Thomas, a reading specialist at the school, and the organizer behind the drive. “It didn’t cost them a dime. All they had to do was go into their cupboards of things they no longer needed, donate, and we’re repurposing these. It brings goosebumps and I’m just amazed that we can make more than $2,500 and it didn’t cost anybody a dime.”

The shoes are expected to be loaded up in a trailer in the next couple of weeks. While the classroom competition is over, you can still donate any shoes by dropping them off at the middle school or any of the Wyoming Valley West Elementary schools, along with the school district central office, the high school,Kings College Sheehy-Farmer Campus Center Lobby, Vive Health and Fitness, Frederick Dental Group, Cherry St. Bible Church, Temple B’nai B’rith, Temple Israel and Larksville U.M. Church.

41.261748 -75.896863

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Shoe Collection Drive Winds Down After More Than 5000 Pairs Donated –

Thomas Friedman lied about the Saudis – Heritage Florida Jewish News

Posted By on March 25, 2017

For the past 15 years, New York Times columnist Thomas Friedman has been promoting the so-called Saudi Initiative, a plan he says proves that Saudi Arabia sincerely wants peace with Israel. But this week, a senior Palestinian leader revealed that at the very moment the Saudis were launching that plan, they were financing a major wave of terrorism against Israel.

Its time for Friedman to publicly admit he was wrong and apologize for the harm he caused to Israel.

It all started Feb. 6, 2002, when Friedman devoted his New York Times column to a memo that he wanted President George W. Bush to send to Saudi Crown Prince Abdullah and other Arab leaders. The memo would urge the Arabs to recognize Israel in exchange for an Israeli retreat to the pre-1967 armistice lines (including re-dividing Jerusalem).

Friedman then flew to Saudi Arabia, where he was granted a rare interview with Crown Prince Abdullah. And lo and behold, Abdullah proceeded to unveil a Saudi peace plan identical to what Friedman had been pushing. Friedmans Feb. 17, 2002 column then became the vehicle for announcing the Saudi plan. Quite an unusual channel for an international diplomatic announcement!

The New York Times proceeded to pump up the Saudi proposal in its news columns. MSNBC noted, What newspapers management can resist following up on a plan for Middle East peace that appeared to grow directly out of its own pages?

The plan was based on the premise that the Saudis had given-up their decades-old hatred of Israel and denial of Israels to exist, and now were sincerely interested in living in peace with Israel. Thats what Friedman tried to get the U.S. government, and American Jews, to believe.

Friedman had become, in effect, Riyadhs most important Western spokesperson. And the timing could not have been betterthe Saudis image in the U.S. had been profoundly tarred by the prominence of Saudi nationals (16 of the 19 hijackers) in the 9/11 attacks. So pretending to want peace with Israel could help distract from that.

Friedmans efforts on behalf of the Saudis, however, were undermined by a Palestinian terrorist attack took place just as his PR effort was kicking into high gear. A suicide bomber struck at a Passover seder in the Park Hotel in Netanya. Twenty-seven people were murdered and 140 were wounded. It was the most notorious attack of the second Palestinian intifada, which lasted from 2000-2003.

And now it turns out that the second intifada terrorism was financed by the moderate, peace-seeking, anti-terrorist government of Saudi Arabia.

Nabil Shaath, the former foreign minister and longtime chief negotiator for the Palestinian Authority, made this stunning revelation in an interview last month with ON TV. Shaath described how, in the autumn of 2000, Crown Prince Abdullah summoned him to Riyadh, sending a private jet to Jordan to pick him up.

So I went to his palace, Shaath recalled. Abdullah said, You are in the midst of an intifada. It may last two or three years. They will freeze all your assets. How will you continue this intifada? It takes money. Shaath continued, So I named the largest figure I could think of: $1 billion. I said that $1 billion could keep us going for two or three years. Its on me, he said…I will pay half and will collect the other half…Thats what he did. That was the money that enabled us to survive in the three years of the intifada. (Translation courtesy of the Middle East Media Research Institute.)

Thanks for your honesty, Mr. Shaath. Now we know that while Thomas Friedman and the New York Times were promoting the Saudi peace plan, the Saudis were financing second intifada attacks such as the Passover massacre. They were never interested in peace. Their checkbooks expressed their true feelings about Jews and Israel. An apology from their PR agent, Friedman, is long overdue.

Stephen M. Flatow, a vice president of the Religious Zionists of America, is an attorney in New Jersey. He is the father of Alisa Flatow, who was murdered in an Iranian-sponsored Palestinian terrorist attack in 1995.

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Thomas Friedman lied about the Saudis – Heritage Florida Jewish News

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