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What’s Happened to the Anti-Defamation League? – Algemeiner

Posted By on June 6, 2017

Anti-Defamation League CEO Jonathan Greenblatt. Photo: ADL.

Where is theAnti-DefamationLeague (ADL)?

As a new antisemitism caststhe Jewish stateas the cruelest of nations,and her Jewish supporters as racists, the ADL has been largely silent.The lies are spreadinnewspapers,churchesand college classrooms. On campuses,Jewish students are harassed and intimidated.Eventhe curriculain many public high schools and middle schoolsisbiased against Israel.Yet theADL, once the Jewishpeoplesdefense agency,seems unable or unwilling toeffectively fight back.

Case in point: LindaSarsour,a virulently anti-Israel Islamistwhois asupporterofterrorists,andadefenderof Sharia law,wasa featured speaker at the City University of New York (CUNY) School of Public Healths graduation onJune 1.

June 6, 2017 1:48 pm

Yet it was only after weeks of silence,andonlywhenupbraidedfor that despicablesilence,thattheADLfinallyissueda statementcriticizingSarsour. (Ms. Sarsour is an antisemite whofightsto bar Jewish women from the feministmovement unless they renounce Israel, and has tweeted that,Nothing is creepier than Zionism.

And even theADLsbelatedcriticism ofSarsour, penned by its CEO, JonathanGreenblatt, was weak.The ADL statementrejectedSarsourssupport of BDS,butit supported CUNYsdecision toinvite her, citing her right to free speech.But, as former CUNY trustee JeffreyWeisenfeld haspointed out,allowing someone to speak and giving them one of the most honored platforms that a university can provideare twodifferent things. EvenAbe Foxman himself, the legendary ADL leader whoreportedlyselected Greenblatt as his heir, unblinkingly told reporters that CUNY should not have invited Sarsour.

The ADLs problem is that ithas never figured out what to do about the new antisemitism which is exactly whatSarsourrepresents.

When the enemies of the Jewish people were onlyNazis,neo-Nazis, Christian antisemites and skinheads, the ADL did just fine. They exposed, they warned, they scolded and they sued. In every city with a sizable Jewish population, the ADL functioned as the Jewish Civil Defense Department.

But sometime during the late 1960s,the virus ofantisemitismbegan to morph. Age-old accusations against the Jews and their religion were re-directed toward the Jewish state, and its Jewish supporters. Antisemitic smears were used to paintIsrael as the Jew among nationsan art that the United Nations has perfected. And much of this hate comes from liberals and leftists, along with the traditional antisemites (white supremacists, neo-Nazis, etc.)

But the ADL and its donorsstuck in the past, like old generals fighting the last war cannot or will not adjust.

The ADLwas born on the progressive side of politics, fighting right-wing Jew-hatred, and supporting social justice. The group haschosen to stay there, even when in my view the threats from the left now eclipse those of the right in their intensity and reach.And so the ADL keptsending those (fundraising) postcards with swastikas found inbathroom stalls in Iowa, and campaignedagainst Pat Robertson, whom itpainted as thesamesort of right-wing threat that we all once kneweven though many people now believe that Robertson and Christian evangelicals areIsraels, and the Jews, best allies.

And asit ignores antisemitism from the left,the ADL hassimilarlyshrunk from confronting Islamic Jew-hatredthe biggest threat to Jewish life on the planetfor fear of being labelled Islamophobic by its left-wing allies.Some scholars now describe the new antisemitism as being propelled by a Red-Green Alliance of radical leftists and radical Islamists. The ADL hesitates to defend the Jews against either threat.

Morton Klein, of the Zionist Organization of America, and others like him who pressured the ADL to condemn Sarsour were right, and they deserve creditfor shining a light on the Sarsour/ADL scandal. ADLsweakness on this controversyis emblematic of its failure to adopt to the new antisemitism. And it is a timely reminder to American Jewry of the need for a new, and bold, leadershipthat is up to the challenge of confrontingthese dangerous times.

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What’s Happened to the Anti-Defamation League? – Algemeiner

ADL Admonishes UN Secretary-General Over ‘Misleading’ Six-Day War Statement – Algemeiner

Posted By on June 6, 2017

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UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres. Photo: UN.

The Anti-Defamation League (ADL) has rebuked United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres for what the Jewish civil rights organizationdescribed as anincomplete and misleadingstatement marking the fiftieth anniversary of the outbreak of the 1967 Six-Day War.

In the statement, Guterres asserted that [e]nding the occupation that began in 1967 and achieving a negotiated two-state outcome is the only way to lay the foundations for enduring peace that meets Israeli security needs and Palestinian aspirations for statehood and sovereignty. It is the only way to achieve the inalienable rights of the Palestinian people.

Guterres also described the aftermath of the war in purely negative terms, saying that it resulted in Israels occupation of the West Bank, East Jerusalem, Gaza and the Syrian Golan and the displacement of hundreds of thousands of Palestinians and Syrians, without acknowledging the threat of destruction Israel faced on eve of the conflict.

June 6, 2017 4:12 pm

We are troubled by the secretary-generals incomplete statement on the anniversary of the Six-Day War and urge him to clarify his remarks, ADL CEO Jonathan Greenblatt said in a statement. While we share his desire for a return to negotiations to achieve a two-state solution, this anniversary cannot be viewed in a vacuum. It is grossly misleading to examine only the enduring effects of the war while ignoring the context in which the war took place the belligerence of the Arab states in the spring of 1967, and the silence of the international community in the face of these threats and its failure to ensure the rights to free passage of international waterways.

Greenblatt noted appreciatively that since the beginning of his term at the start of this year, Guterres has made a number of important supportive statementson Israel, including recognizing the double standard with which Israel is treated at the UN, and his labeling as anti-Semitism the delegitimization of Israels right to exist.

We would have hoped that he would use this anniversary to address the Palestinian condition and call for peace and resolution in a fair-minded and historically accurate manner, Greenblatt concluded.

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ADL Admonishes UN Secretary-General Over ‘Misleading’ Six-Day War Statement – Algemeiner

The Responsibility of Non-Zionist Jews During the ‘Year of Zionist Anniversaries’ – LA Progressive (press release) (subscription) (blog)

Posted By on June 6, 2017

By Abba Solomon

American Jewish activists blocking Damascus Gate during protest of March of the Flags

As Palestinians prepared to observe Nakba day, the American Zionist Movement (AZM), the American component of the World Zionist Organization (WZO), in early May sent an announcement to its mailing list celebrating the 75th Anniversary of the Biltmore Conference, launching the observance of what it calls a Year of Zionist Anniversaries.

From May 2017 until May 2018 AZM will mark a series of important milestones in Zionism and help inform Jewish communities and the general public about the history, relevance and importance of Zionism and its connection to the independence and vibrant democracy of the State of Israel.

Through this upcoming Year of Zionist Anniversaries AZM will conduct programs and events across the country about Zionism in partnership with its 25 constituent agencies and in cooperation with the broad spectrum of Jewish communal agencies. There will be programs related to Zionism held with public officials, schools, synagogues, summer camps and with many community institutions and organizations.

Theyre very proud. I understand that pride, having absorbed enough of that perspective. It makes a bulwark against feelings of vulnerability and ambiguity for most of us, who are cultural mischlingen (what Nazis termed children of Jewish-gentile unions), living lives much as our countrymen rather than distinctively Jewish.

In a 1940 essay, social psychologist Kurt Lewin may have hinted at the royal road out of uncertainty that Zionism may serve for Jews, and explained the tenacious grip of otherwise indifferent Jews to the concept of having a country.

For the modern Jew there exists an additional factor to increase his uncertainty. He is frequently uncertain about the way he belongs to the Jewish group, and to what degree. Especially since religion has become a less important social matter, it is rather difficult to describe positively the character of the Jewish group as a whole. A religious group with many atheists? A Jewish race with a great diversity of racial qualities among its members? A nation without a state or a territory of its own containing the majority of its people? A group combined by one culture and tradition but actually having in most respects the different values and ideals of the nations in which it lives? There are, I think, few chores more bewildering than that of determining positively the character of the Jewish group. No wonder many Jews are uncertain about what it means to belong to the Jewish group

It was only years later that I discovered that when one lost the Zionist sensibility, much data became visible that was not before once Arabs were not the enemy of a self-evident right of Jewish sovereignty.

I grew up in a US Jewish milieu where pride in Zionist achievement was not unknown (but not universal). It was only years later that I discovered that when one lost the Zionist sensibility, much data became visible that was not before once Arabs were not the enemy of a self-evident right of Jewish sovereignty.

Ex-Zionist Baltimore Rabbi Morris S. Lazaron was scathing in his view of the Zionization of Judaism:

Every sacred feeling of the Jew, every instinct of humanity, every deep-rooted anxiety for family, every cherished memory became an instrument to be used for the promotion of the Zionist cause.

I thought of pride I had absorbed, of Zionist achievement, when I read Belin village Palestinian rights organizer Iyad Burnats bitter comment after a settler shot one youth to death, and injured a Palestinian journalist:

Jews of the world must take responsibility for the crimes of the occupation against the Palestinians. Because the crimes are carried out in the name of the Jews.

It is established in international law, that collective punishment shall not be exacted on a population for crimes they have not individually committed. The question, to me, is the different question of responsibility, which is what Burnat presents to Jews and which is, writ large, the entire Zionist question.

AZM, the federation of Zionist organizations in the United States, tells us,

There will be programs related to Zionism held with public officials, schools, synagogues, summer camps and with many community institutions and organizations

inviting us to share in Jewish achievements in Palestine. Does to take pride mean take responsibility as well?

In Iyad Burnats utterance of frustration,

Jews of the world

Addressed, I believe, to diasporic Jews who answer to the identity Jew. (Controversialist Gilad Atzmon proposes reacting to Jewish nationalism by dropping the identity.)

must take responsibility

Collectively, as a group? or individual Jews who hear him?

for the crimes of the occupation against the Palestinians.

Explicit acknowledgement of injuries inflicted on Palestinian Arabs, intrinsic to the Zionist program, rather than the fiction of an inexplicable inability of Jews and Arabs to get along.

Because the crimes are carried out in the name of the Jews.

The central objection of British cabinet secretary Edwin Samuel Montagu to the Balfour Jewish Homeland declaration of 1917 was that it would lead to the idea that he, a citizen of the United Kingdom, was represented by another nation. A corollary of that hazard was the liability of being held responsible for actions of that nation.

Jewish American activists (some who had been part of the Arab-Jewish Sumud Freedom Camp in the occupied West Bank) held a sit in May 24, at Jerusalems Damascus Gate to block an annual triumphalist Zionist March of the Flags through the Muslim Quarter of the Old City.

Jews resisting Jewish supremacy can put the lie to the idea that oppressing Palestinians is a Jewish interest; with their bodies, make the statement that Israels 70-year war on Arabs is not their war.

The nature of their violent removal by police may indicate that Peter Beinarts 2014 call for American Jews to engage in a Freedom Summer protest in Israel was prescient. To challenge an oppressive system, even symbolically, provokes more than symbolic resistance.

Its time for American Jews who support Israel but oppose the occupation to commit to large-scale, direct action of our own, Beinart wrote, in an article written from the standpoint of a Zionist who sees the two-state solution as the only solution to Israels predicament.

To a non-nationalist Jew, the heart of the predicament is the efforts to shape reality in Palestine around the idea of a Jewish nation-state.

Abba Solomon Mondoweiss

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The Responsibility of Non-Zionist Jews During the ‘Year of Zionist Anniversaries’ – LA Progressive (press release) (subscription) (blog)

Hindutva And Zionism: Differing In Symbols, Allied In Thought – Swarajya

Posted By on June 6, 2017

Hindutva and Zionism. Few wordsideashave been as misunderstood or reviled as these two have been. Both are similar, scholars of nationalism will tell you, because they espouse ethnic nationalismthe notion of a national community based on religion, race, or blood. Notwithstanding the differences in the symbols they choose to venerate or vilify, the core dynamics of identity and emotion are identical.

However, there lies a deeper similarity between the two than merely rhetoric. Between Hindutva and Zionism, there exist three core similarities that shape their worldview in profound ways. It is not my contention that these concurrences are responsible for a subconscious affinity between India and Israel: in fact, it is an uncomfortable and unspoken verisimilitude that much of the sympathy and admiration for Israel in India probably comes from the perception of a common enemy. Despite Jewish presence in the subcontinent for two millennia, Indians are only now beginning to discover Jewsperhaps speaking to the seamless harmony in which Hindus and Jews existed.

The first point of congruence between Hindutva and Zionism is that, as nationalism goes, both are weak. It is not their fervour that is in doubt but the fact that neither held the land which they claimed on behalf of their nationhood. For the Zionists, they had been in exile from the territory that was the object of their nationalism for 18 centuries; expelled by the Romans after the Bar Kokhba Revolt in 135 CE, Judea (renamed Palestina during the Diocletian reforms at the end of the 3rd century) was subsequently ruled by the Byzantines, Arabs, Ottomans, and finally the British. All nationalism needs to look inwards to create a community; colonial nationalism also has an outside enemy to rally against in the form of an imperial power. Zionism had a third obstacle in that the Jewish people had not even been living on the land they claimed as their own. While a very small number of Jews always remained in Herods fallen kingdom, they usually faced persecution at the hands of the occupying power and immigration to the region was tightly controlled. On the eve of the First Aliyah in 1882, the number of Jews in Palestine was barely 20,000.

It may seem farcical at first glance that Hindusthe subjects of Hindutvadid not possess their own land. After all, they were, and remain, the vast majority of the inhabitants of the Indian subcontinent. Yet habitation alone does not mean possession: one must be able to exercise hegemony over it. For centuries before even the advent of the Raj, the Hindu kingdoms of the Indian subcontinent had been relegated to the footnotes of history. Four centuries after the first Muslim raids into Sindh, Muslim rule was firmly established in India with Muhammad of Ghors victory at the second battle of Taraori in 1192. It was not until the appearance of the British East India Company and the Maratha Confederacy in the late 17th century that the Dar al-Islam ceased to be the predominant power in the subcontinent.

Sultanates in Delhi, Bengal, Gujarat, and the Deccan expanded Muslim rule as far south as Madurai and subjugated all major Hindu kingdoms. The result was not just the loss of political sovereignty but the end of state patronage for Hindu society. Hindu art, literature, music, and welfare systems went into decline, and the famous temple construction projects as evidenced at Ellora, Khajuraho, Thanjavur, Badami, Belur, and elsewhere ceased; philosophy and theology stagnated. The short-lived ascent of the Marathas breathed some life into a moribund society before suzerainty over India passed into British hands but it was not enough.

The second core commonality between Hindutva and Zionism is how the exposure to secular, civic nationalism shaped their ideologies along similar lines. The decay of Hindu society and the dilution of Jewish identity preyed on early Hindutva and Zionist leaders minds. Both feared that living under foreign rule and gradual assimilation over the centuries had weakened the sense of identity in their communities. Despite a Hindu majority, religion was not the clarion call to the masses during Indias independence movement. Rather, mainstream Indian nationalists argued in the Western lexicon of liberty, self-determination, equality, and good governance.

The Jewish people were the first victims of the myth of civic nationalismthe notion of a national community based on shared values rather than the contrasting immutable properties of race and blood that ethnic nationalism privileged. It is an interesting observation that while immigration to Israel was central to Jewish identity and the land features centrally in their liturgies, there was not much of a rush to return to the Holy Land. This hesitation gives lshana habaah bYerushalayimnext year in Jerusalemuttered at the end of the Yom Kippur and Passover Seders, an unintended, tongue-in-cheek meaning! Zionist ideology and immigration to Israel began to increase only in the aftermath of the first set of pogroms after the French Revolution.

It seems strange that it was the emancipatory message of the French Revolution that fuelled Zionism. After all, the new French laws allowed Jews to come out of their ghettos, take up whatever profession they desired, serve in the military, and be considered full French citizens as long as they swore an oath to defend the secular French state. Many Jews welcomed this sudden inclusiveness and began to assimilate into the mainstream cultures of France, Germany, Russia, and other European nation-states. They spoke European languages, were comfortable in their literature and philosophy, adopted many of their customs in clothing and other banal aspects of life. Until 1815, owing to their exclusion, Europes Jews had contributed hardly anything to politics, philosophy, finance, medicine, the arts, or the law. Yet by the end of the 19th century, Jews were heavily concentrated in the major metropolisBerlin, Vienna, Budapest, Warsaw, and to a lesser degree, London, Paris, and Odessa.

These modernising Jews also gave up attending yeshiva and, in the process of deracination, lost familiarity with their culture. During their exclusion, the Jewish community had established a parallel education system, in a language Europeans ironically considered dead. Hebrew had long been an exclusively liturgical language but fewer Jews could now read it. This distanced them from the scriptures.

Yet the secular modern nation-state did not hold all the answers. Suddenly, the myriad smaller issues of quotidian life intruded upon newfound Jewish liberty. For example, France would not accept the Sabbath, which put the bureaucracy and educational system on a collision course with Jewish tenets. Or, the adherence of the Jewish community to their dietary laws restricted Jews only to restaurants of their own community. In essence, gentiles viewed emancipation as a vehicle for the integration of Jews into general society and their ultimate disappearance within it. Thus, ironically, secularism and liberalism did not solve problems of Jewish identity but exacerbated them by asking them to meld into the purgatory of undifferentiated universalism.

Doubts over the benefits of Jewish emancipation were quickly washed away when a fresh wave of anti-Semitic pogroms swept across Europe. It reiterated to the Jews that despite their assimilation, to true Europeans they would forever remain Judas. As Jewish elders also began to ask, could a Jew in France truly identify with Vercingetorix, the chieftain who united the Gauls against Rome, and would Germans really view a Jewish colleague as a true descendant of Arminius, who liberated Germania from the Roman empire? The inclusivism of the universalistic principles of the French Revolution came to be tempered by the historicist exclusivism of modern nationalism.

Jews had been persecuted throughout their historyfirst by the Visigoths and the Byzantines, and later by Muslims and Christians. They had been massacred during the Crusades and expelled from England, France, and Spain. Jews were not allowed to reside in the imperial cities of the Holy Roman Empire, forcibly converted in Spain, and made to wear distinctive clothing and barred from public office in Italy. The pogroms of the 19th century, however, were different. Zionism, then, a post-Jewish emancipation phenomenon, was a response to the challenges of European liberalism and civic nationalism much more than a response merely to anti-Semitism.

Hindu nationalists came to the same conclusions about liberalism and the whole general caboodle of post-Enlightenment European values. Efforts to turn Indians into Macaulays children notwithstanding, Indians were kept out of the upper echelons of colonial administration. Under the guise of freedom of religion, proselytism was allowed even though it was detrimental to local traditions that did not proselytise. These policies were justified in the name of development while they slyly whittled away any sense of an Indic identity. The scientific temper had a decidedly European accent, as if there had been no intellectual achievements elsewhere. Being modern meant for the Indian what the Enlightenment and emancipation meant to the Jew: the disappearance of the communal essence of their culture through atomisation and alienationfor this, as Max Nordau described, was the nature of the modern world based as it is on deracinated individualism.

Moreover, Hindu nationalists saw their community as a victim of centuries of excessive pluralism. While Hindu kings had welcomed refugees and traders of other faiths warmly, the sentiment was not reciprocated when foreign rulers dethroned them. Hindu nationalists remembered only too vividly the forced conversions, the rapes and massacres, the pillaging and looting, the destruction of temples, and the overall attempt to erode Hinduism at the hands of Muslims and Christians. The Raj and opposition to it presented a unique opportunity which held the potential of uniting India under one administration again and reviving Hindu society.

Both Hindutva and Zionism have several different strands and are evolving phenomena. Independence has not meant stagnation, though the principal actors and foci change. Early Zionism, for example, was strongly opposed by the religious sections for they saw it as playing messiah and interference in Gods work. The questions that preoccupied the Jewish community then were also not religious but European emancipation and liberalism. It is little wonder, then, that the towering Zionists of the era preached cultural revival as the first step towards Jerusalem.

The philosopher-historian Nachman Krochmal, for example, saw history through a Hegelian lens and the nation as Herder did. Thus, he recognised the particularities of the Jewish people that forge a unique nation distinguished from others and argued that this was not an end unto itself but only a step in the development of universal culture. What Krochmal attempted to do philosophically, historian Heinrich Graetz did historically, firmly establishing the idea that the Jews were one nation among a community of nations. Rather than search for and expand a gap between the Jewish community and religion as many Jewish intellectuals of the time tried to do, Graetz maintained that Judaism is not a religion for the individual, but for the community…and the fulfillment of commandments do not refer to the individual, but rather are intended for the entire people.

Yet as Moses Hess, one of the founders of Labour Zionism, had disappointedly noted, the Jews suffered from Mangel an Nationalsinnan absolute lack of national consciousness. One way to rebuild kinship was through a national language. Although Eliezer Ben Yehuda would later go on to resurrect Hebrew, it was Rabbi Yehuda Hai Alkalai who first gave sanction to the idea. His standing as an Orthodox rabbi lent some weight to the effort, for the clergy were strongly opposed to the idea of desacralising their holy language.

Cultural Zionism got its poster boy in Asher Ginsberg, who wrote under the pseudonym Ahad Haam. He rejected anchoring Zionism in traditional religious symbolism. Instead, he argued, the creation of a body politic is the apex of the cultural and spiritual forces of a people. A state based on a purely political imagination, such as that of Theodor Herzl, may perhaps be a State of JewsJudenstaat, but it could not be a Jewish stateJdischer Staat, for the sociocultural infrastructure is a necessary condition for political life. Ahad Haam believed that a political ideal which does not rest on the national culture is apt to seduce the people from a loyalty to spiritual greatness and turn them onto a quest for material power and political dominion, thus making the Jewish state an ordinary one. Moshe Lilienblums corollary to Ginsberg was the observation that in contemporary Europe, just as in historical Judea, redemption and liberation came from the popular masses, not from the assimilated elites.

The Zionist emphasis on a cultural revival in service of a political goal echoes closely to the thoughts of Hindu nationalists. Although Hindutva is most closely associated with Vinayak Damodar Savarkar for it was he who coined the term in his 1923 essay, Essentials of Hindutva, its definition could well encompass thinkers who came before then just as many prominent figures of Zionism lived and died before 1890 when the term was coined by Nathan Birnbaum. Bankim Chandra Chattopadhyay, for example, was a key figure in the revival of cultural Hinduism. Besides his famous novel Anandamath which speaks of an ascetic army taking on the British, he wrote an important commentary on the Bhagavad Gita and Krishna Charitra, in which he tried to demystify the deity and bring the values inherent in Krishna to the popular masses.

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Hindutva And Zionism: Differing In Symbols, Allied In Thought – Swarajya

I’m a Zionist. I think CUNY should let Linda Sarsour speak. – The … – Washington Post

Posted By on June 6, 2017

By Emily Shire By Emily Shire May 31

Emily Shire is the politics editor for Bustle. She has written for Slate, Salon, the Atlantic, the Guardian US and the Jewish Daily Forward.

Its not unusual during this time of year for commencement speakers to make national headlines and not always for their gleaming pearls of wisdom. Already this month, graduates booed Education Secretary Betsy DeVos at the historically black Bethune-Cookman University in Florida, and more than 100 students walked out of Vice President Pences commencement address at Notre Dame. But the most contentious speaker yet may be one addressing a relatively small, publicly funded graduate school.

On Thursday, Linda Sarsour will be the commencement speaker at the City University of New York Public School of Health graduation.And although I disagree with much of what she stands for, especially with regard to Israel, I support her right to speak just as strongly, and believe it would be a mistake for pro-Israel activists to interfere with her address.

Sarsour was one of the main leaders of the Womens March, helping to mobilize millions of people worldwide in one of the largest displays of grass-roots activism. But shealso has a record of anti-Zionist rhetoric. In 2012, she tweeted nothing is creepier than Zionism, referring to Jewish self-determination as racism. Sarsour told Haaretz in January that she does not believe in a two-state solution. As recently as April, she said to those who pronounce themselves and call themselves Zionists we will not change who we are to make anybody feel comfortable. If you aint all in, then this aint the movement for you. Sarsour said these words while standing proudly alongside Rasmea Odeh, a woman who was convicted by an Israeli military courtfor her involvement in a 1969 bombing that killed two Hebrew University students.

Still, Sarsours most controversial comments arent limited to Zionism. In a since-deleted tweet, Sarsour threatened womens rights activist and victim of female genital mutilation Ayaan Hirsi Ali, along with a controversial critic of Islam, Brigitte Gabriel. (She tweeted in 2011: a$$ whippin. I wish I could take their vaginas away- they dont deserve to be women.) When asked about this tweet at an event at Dartmouth in May, Sarsour dismissed the concern because the questioner was a white male but then acknowledged, People say stupid s sometimes, right?

As a result of these and other comments, some have called for CUNY to rescind Sarsours invite. The office of Democratic New York State Assemblyman Dov Hikind sent a letter signed by 100 Holocaust survivors to Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo, asking him to keep Sarsour from speaking at the graduation ceremony.

However, those of us who have concerns about Sarsour should be the most committed to allowing her to speak.

For Zionists like myself, it is especially important to denounce efforts to silence Sarsour.There are myriad reasons to support herFirst Amendment right to express herself essential for a true and healthy democracy. Too often, the willingness to even listen to opposing views is missing, especially on college campuses like the ones where Sarsour is invited. Perhaps most disturbingly, earlier this year, a scheduled speech by controversial author Charles Murray at Middlebury prompted protests and violence that resulted in Allison Stanger, the professor who was set to interview Murray, suffering a concussion. Scheduled speeches by Milo Yiannopoulos and Ann Coulter at the University of California at Berkeley also were shut down because of security concerns this past academic year. The fact that the free exchange of ideas is apparently imperiled on campuses nationwide is one more reason to support it.

There is another, somewhat ironic, reason to defend Sarsours speaking at CUNY: Respect for intellectual diversity is increasingly absent when it comes to Israel, and honoring Sarsours right to freedom of expression provides an essential lesson to anti-Zionist critics.

Sarsour has consistently voiced her support for the boycott, divestment and sanctions (BDS) movement against Israel, which effectively aims to dismantle the Jewish peoples right to self-determination in Israel.In doing so, she has effectively used her influence to obstruct the flow of ideas and potentially fruitful dialogue between people on all sides of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict that could lead to peace.

BDS tactics can differ from campus to campus or company to company, often through orchestrating boycotts of products made in Israel a move that is deeply misguided, not least of which is because some financial experts argue that it ultimately hurts Palestinians economic growth.However, another strategy, especially in BDS resolutions passed on campuses and in professional academic groups, is to block professors, lecturers and scholarsfrom Israel and/or those who receive funding from the Israeli government. They are discriminated against solely based on their nationality and without any regard for their political views or activism in fact, often it is academics who are most critical of the current Israeli government and advocate for the rights of Palestinians who find themselves being boycotted.

These BDS activities hinder, if not all out impede, intellectual discourse. Regardless of whether one is a Zionist, on the grounds of respecting freedom of speech and intellectual diversity, one should oppose the BDS movement, especially its anti-intellectual strategies.Championing Sarsours right to freedom of expression may just be the best way to show how misguided BDS-style methodology is, and to open up the conversation about Israel, Palestine and Zionism to a new generation of thinkers.

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I’m a Zionist. I think CUNY should let Linda Sarsour speak. – The … – Washington Post

Should We Act Like Sports Fans In The Synagogue? – Forward

Posted By on June 6, 2017

Jewish Communal Prayer: to what might we compare it? To a symphony performance.Are we spectators in the music hall, or players in the orchestra?

To what might we compare it? To a dramatic play.Are we spectators in the theater, or players on the stage?

To what might we compare it? To a team sporting event.Are we spectators in the stands, or players on the field?

The synagogue sanctuary what is it? Is it a music hall, a theater, a stadium? Or, is it a stage, a field?

How does one behave as a spectator at a sporting event? Differently. One can arrive late, leave early, come and go at will. Chatting and even shouting are normal behavior.

How, by contrast, does one behave as a musician or an actor or a player on a team? One must arrive on time for the event (and on time means early). One must remain active and focused on his or her role. In the middle of a performance, there is no extraneous talking, no playing other songs, no answering cell phone calls, no forgetting to turn off ones phone, no looking at ones phone during the performance or event, no wandering about. Even when someone is not a central actor in a play, or when a musician is not playing at a particular moment, or when someone is not the quarterback or such, he or she must, in effect, stay in character.

Meaningful Jewish Communal Prayer.

Does this phrase sound incongruent? How many of us experience it on a regular basis? How many on even an occasional basis?

What makes an orchestral performance, a staged play, a sporting contest meaningful? Whether as players or spectators, we experience these events as meaningful when they fulfill their purpose, when the performers exercise their mastery. When the members of the orchestra, playing so many different instruments, produce together wonderful, harmonious sounds. When the actors inhabit their characters and bring them and their words to life in our imaginations. When the players on a sports team work together and use their skills to score and to defend against their opponents. However, when players fail to work together, we get a discordant symphony, an unconvincing drama, a losing team.

Meaningful Jewish Communal Prayer? The three metaphors above make the problem clear: in the synagogue sanctuary, most of us imagine ourselves spectators rather than players.

If we think of ourselves as spectators viewing a performance, at best we will feel distanced, and maybe we will try not to forget to turn off our cell phones. Perhaps we will try not to talk too much, at least not outside of intermissions, though we might conjure up pretty broad definitions of what constitutes an intermission. At worst, we will consider ourselves like spectators at a sporting event, where we place no limits on our talking, where our arrival, presence, and departure are all irrelevant to the game. True, we may find the synagogue experience meaningful as a social activity, but not as a religious or spiritual experience.

Well, I think the time has come for us to wake up: in a communal prayer service, we are not spectators and ought not to consider ourselves so. Indeed, we are there to pray. We are not only prayers, we are players. Important members of the team. Perhaps only one individual at a time is the prayer leader, a conductor or lead or quarterback of sorts, but all of us are members of the orchestra, the cast, the team.

We might even suggest that in a sense, not only are we not spectators, but that for our prayers, there is another audience: God.

Imagine, then, if we arrived at the sanctuary early, to warm up, or get into costume, or tune our instruments, so to speak, and then entered the sanctuary on time, as if onto a stage or field. And then prayed together as a team, harmonizing our voices, speaking our lines with intent and emotion, making the bows and other motions at the appropriate times. Consider how different our prayer experience might be.

If a musician does not want to play according to the expectations of the orchestra and audience, neither this musician nor the other musicians will have a satisfying experience. And of course the audience will not either. If an actor or actress proves unwilling to play the part and deliver the lines (including the occasional lines of a minor part), the play will not make sense, and the audience will leave disappointed. If sports players just stand around and do not run or block or such, their team will fail, and the fans will harangue the players.

The arts and sports can be wonderful experiences in this worldbut so can prayer. Let us consider the matter: with communal prayer, we have an audience with God, we are conducting a conversation of sorts with our Creator. Why build a space the synagogue sanctuary for this very encounter and then do anything and everything to undermine its very purpose and meaningfulness? Why drape the words of God with magnificent coverings and crowns and place them in a special cabinet and then not listen carefully to these words? Why stand before God as members of a prayer community and engage in behaviors we would not tolerate from players in a symphony orchestra or theater troupe or sports team?

Musical and dramatic and sporting performances meaningful, and we expect meaningfulness from them. The question is why so many of us appear to prefer meaningless Jewish communal prayer? Why do we expect and accept to be spectators and not players? If we act like spectators because we do not feel the presence of God in the sanctuary, we no doubt turn this into self-fulfilling prophecy and make the sanctuary an inhospitable place for encountering God. For those who do not want such an encounter, who enter the sanctuary only for social or other reasons, perhaps they should choose another place to not have this encounterand leave the sanctuary for those seeking it? Why insist on not having this encounter in the one place dedicated for this challenging endeavor?

Regardless of with which denomination we identify, are we ready to step out of the spectator seats and become players? Are we ready to transform our synagogue sanctuaries by tearing out the spectator seating altogether?

Alan Krinsky is a writer and a senior healthcare analyst. His essays have appeared in The Forward, Jewish Action, Conversations, The Providence Journal, The Huffington Post, and the Rhode Island Jewish Voice & Herald.

The views and opinions expressed in this article are the authors own and do not necessarily reflect those of the Forward.

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Should We Act Like Sports Fans In The Synagogue? – Forward

Synagogue vandalism gives insight into mosque arson – Victoria Advocate

Posted By on June 6, 2017

Victoria Advocate
Synagogue vandalism gives insight into mosque arson
Victoria Advocate
Walid Taha, mosque member, walks through a destroyed hallway heading toward a prayer room in the Victoria Islamic Center on Jan. 30. This was the first time Taha and other members were able to walk through the building since the fire.

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Synagogue vandalism gives insight into mosque arson – Victoria Advocate

Blitzer to speak at Buckhead synagogue’s lecture –

Posted By on June 6, 2017

Ahavath Achim Synagogue in Buckhead will host its annual Fran Eizenstat and Eizenstat Family Lecture featuring CNN anchor Wolf Blitzer June 11 at 7 p.m. This years event will be a conversation between Blitzer and Stuart Eizenstat, former ambassador to the European Union, addressing current issues and events. This event is free and open to the public.

The Eizenstat Lecture each year features well-known speakers addressing current and thought-provoking issues. Past speakers include national and international political, legal and economic leaders such as former Vice President Joe Biden, Hillary Clinton, Bill Clinton, Jimmy Carter, Henry Kissinger, Madeleine Albright, Shimon Perez, Ruth Bader Ginsburg, Stephen Breyer, Joseph Lieberman, Al Gore, Alan Dershowitz, Paul Dundes Wolfowitz and Herman Wouk.

This is the 29th installment of the Eizenstat Lecture. Established in 1987 by Stuart Eizenstat to honor the memories of his family members, it features distinguished world figures speaking on national and international topics. He served in key positions in President Jimmy Carters administration, including chief domestic policy adviser and executive director of the White House domestic policy staff, and in President Bill Clintons administration, including deputy treasury secretary, undersecretary of state for economic, business and agricultural affairs and undersecretary of commerce for international trade. Stuart Eizenstat currently heads the international practice of the law firm Covington & Burling in Washington.

The synagogue is located at 600 Peachtree Battle Ave.

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Blitzer to speak at Buckhead synagogue’s lecture –

Sephardic Jews to convene at global summit in Mexico – Cleveland Jewish News

Posted By on June 6, 2017

RIO DE JANEIRO Sephardic Jews from more than 20 countries will gather at a biennial summit in Mexico City.

Coordinated by the Latin American Sephardic Federation, the Cumbre Erensya summit will bring together delegates from the Americas, Europe and Australia onJune 5-7. Former meetings took place in Spain, Turkey and Bulgaria.

Erensya 2017 will look at the Jewish presence in Mexico during colonial times and the emergence of its institutional life until the present day. It also will allow the exchange of relevant experiences in the Sephardic world,reportedthe Enlance Judio news website.

Erensya, or heritage in Ladino, is the name of the initiative led by the Madrid-based Sefarad-Israel Center to establish a bridge between Spain and the Sephardic Diaspora.

The event includes visits to Mexicos oldest synagogues and other Jewish sites. Some mayors of Spanish cities also will attend in order to witness how their countrys language, traditions, customs and mentality have been passed on to new generations. A book is scheduled to be released during the event.

Last month, Mexican-Jewish diplomat Andres Roemer, who was fired from his ambassador position for walking out of an anti-Israel vote at UNESCO in October,receivedthe International Sephardic Leadership Award from the American Sephardic Federation.

In March, the mayor of Mexico Citylaidthe foundation stone of a Jewish community center slated to cost nearly $5.3 million. Miguel Angel Mancera said he considered the initiative a sign of trust in the countrys growth.

Mexico is home to some 50,000 Jews, Latin Americas third largest Jewish community after Argentina and Brazil.

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Sephardic Jews to convene at global summit in Mexico – Cleveland Jewish News

Idra Novey’s Award-Winning Novel’s Sephardic Influence – Forward

Posted By on June 6, 2017

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Book fair in Brazil

A poet, translator and fiction writer, Idra Novey honors all those genres in her first novel, Ways to Disappear. This novel, she told me in a recent conversation, is a stewing pot in which I threw in poetry and translation in the same book. I put a lid on it and turned up the heat, hoping it would cook into something. The satisfying result has been a much acclaimed, prize-winning book, which has just won the 2017 Jewish Book Councils Sami Rohr Prize for Jewish Literature.

Novey, who is fluent in Portuguese and Spanish, has translated the work of Brazilian writer Clarice Lispector whom she discovered when she was a student at Barnard:

I took a class in Experimental Texts by Latin American women where I read Lispector for the first time. I felt an intense kinship with her. Her relationship to Brazil as an outsider and a Jew was something I related to. I felt similarly in western Pennsylvania. [Lispector and I] were both in places that were not easy for intense, artistic Jewish women to be.

Novey grew up in Johnstown, Pennsylvania, a small Appalachian town in which she says racism abounded. She often heard anti-Semitic remarks and felt a palpable hostility towards art. In high school she set her sights on writing, which resulted in a play the first student-written play produced in her high school. She recalled that the only people who attended the production were the parents of the other performers. However, she says the experience made me appreciate that you make art for the people who care about it.

After college, Novey went to South America where she wrote poetry and, like her protagonist Emma Neufeld, translated Brazilian literature into English. In the process, the intensity of encountering Lispectors work haunted Novey and she became determined to look for Lispector in a book of my own.

The precipitating event in Ways to Disappear is writer Beatriz Yagodas disappearance. In an arresting first scene, the celebrated middle-age Brazilian-Jewish novelist climbs into an almond tree not to be heard from for almost a week. Together with Beatrizs children Raquel and Marcus, and her steadfast publisher Roberto Rocha, Emma sets out to find the missing author.

The image of Beatriz up in a tree began with Noveys own fantasy of vanishing with a good book. I couldnt imagine myself abandoning my responsibilities, says Novey, but that image of taking a book into a tree where no one expected you to go stayed with me. And the longer the image stayed with me, the more I realized it was the beginning of the novel.

Solving the mystery of Beatrizs whereabouts is both suspenseful and darkly humorous. Novey observes that books of American literature are often seen as either funny or high-stakes serious. In capturing what she perceives as the cacophony of Brazil, she not only mixes up genres, but also confronts something darker and bolder. The things I wanted to say came out through a loan shark and the adventure itself.

It turns out that Beatriz has a gambling addiction and is being hunted by gangsters to pay up her debt. That premise is the underpinning of the novels shifting perspectives. I thought of the structure, says Novey as a laundry line made taut by high stakes like ransom notes and a loan shark. Once you have that laundry line you can hang all your manifestoes and your poetry on it and they wont fall.

Noveys structure is also built on short, intense chapters that are interspersed with gossip magazine news bulletins about Beatriz, increasingly desperate emails from Emmas nebbishy boyfriend back in Pittsburgh, and a bevy of translators vocabulary words presented to the reader in dictionary form.

Novey acknowledges that her husbands extended Chilean Sephardic family inspired her to create Beatriz Yagoda and her fictional family. For almost 20 years Ive observed this large Latin American Jewish family living in a Catholic country. It echoes my relationship to growing up in Appalachia, but its also very different. She adds, This novel explores what it means to be Jewish in the 21st century what it means to have a whole range of people in a family. Beatriz is urban and artistic, but she has family that is shomer Shabbat [Sabbath observant].

As for the intersection of translating anothers work and writing ones own fiction, Novey says the connection is to get every sentence as immaculate as I can. Thats what translators and writers do. Your unit is the sentence and you want to make each one as potent as it can be.

Given her dedication to craft, Noveys prose is not only powerful and evocative; it is magical.

Judy Bolton has written about Jewish arts and culture for two decades. She is the culture reporter for

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Idra Novey’s Award-Winning Novel’s Sephardic Influence – Forward

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