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New Orthodox party in U.S. is big surprise of World Zionist Congress election – Haaretz

Posted By on March 26, 2020

A rigidly Orthodox party, running for the first time, is the big winner of the World Zionist Congress election held in the United States, according to preliminary results announced on Monday.

Eretz Hakodesh (The Holy Land) which champions traditional religious values and Jewish rights in the entire Land of Israel (code for Israeli annexation of the West Bank) emerged as the third largest party, garnering more than 15 percent of the total vote. Eretz Hakodesh made attacks against Reform Judaism the focus of its campaign.

Haaretz Weekly Ep. 70Haaretz

Voting for the U.S. delegates was held online over the course of seven weeks. A total of 15 slates, made up of nearly 1,800 candidates, competed for the 152 seats alloted to Americans in the WZC.

Elections for the so-called parliament of the Jewish people are held every five years. The WZC allocates about a billion dollars a year to Jewish causes. Its delegates determine policy for the World Zionist Organization and can influence appointments to its affiliate organizations: the Jewish Agency for Israel, Keren Hayesod United Israel Appeal, and Keren Kayemet (Jewish National Fund).

In the last election, parties representing progressive American Jews won two-thirds of the total votes. In this latest round, mainly thanks to Eretz Hakodeshs strong showing, parties representing progressive American Jews won less than half the total vote.

Vote Reform, a party representing the Reform and Reconstructionist movements in the United State, won 25 percent of the vote more than any other single party. It also came in first in the 2015 election, but will probably have fewer seats in the upcoming congress because many more votes were cast in this election. The number of seats each party will receive has yet to be determined.

Leaders of the Reform movement expressed satisfaction with the results.

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Our voter turnout rose 50 percent said Rabbi Josh Weinberg, the vice president of Israel and Reform Zionism for Union for Reform Judaism. This shows that Israel and Zionism are important to Reform Jews in the United States, he added.

U.S. delegates account for about one-third of the total WZC seats, Israeli representatives for another third, and representatives of Jewish communities elsewhere for the final third. The number of seats allocated to each Israeli party in the WZC is based on its share of seats in the Knesset.

Responding to the results, Rabbi Pesach Lerner, president of the Coalition for Jewish Values and head of the Eretz Hakodesh campaign, said: Our motivation was to protect the holiness of the Land of Israel and cultivate traditional Jewish practices and beliefs, and we are grateful to all those who volunteered and voted on behalf of our new slate.

The party that won the second largest number of votes was Orthodox Israel Coalition Mizrachi, which represents the Modern Orthodox community. Mercaz USA, which represents the Conservative movement, came in fourth place, after placing second five years ago.

The latest WZC election aroused more interest than usual in the United States, with more than double the number of votes cast this time than in the previous election. According to the preliminary results, 123,629 American Jews voted in this election compared with 54,098 in 2015. It was the highest number of votes since the election was opened to the entire Jewish community 30 years ago.

We are thrilled that so many people participated and look forward to seeing those voices represented at the 38th World Zionist Congress, said Herbert Block, executive director of the American Zionist Movement. The 38th World Zionist Congress is scheduled to be held in Jerusalem in October.

Hatikvah, a progressive slate that included many new organizations as well as high-profile Jewish liberals picked up 7,932 votes in this round, more than double the number it won last time. The slate says it intends to use its clout to prevent the WZC from funneling money into West Bank settlements.

Commenting on the election outcome, Kenneth Bob, the president of Ameinu, an organization of progressive Jews in North America and a member of the Hatikvah slate, said: We are pleased that we more than doubled the number of votes we received from the last election and thus will have more delegates. We look forward to being an active and vocal force at the congress in October. We also built a coalition that raised the progressive Jewish voice to a new level of public awareness which will remain active going forward.

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New Orthodox party in U.S. is big surprise of World Zionist Congress election - Haaretz

Pro-Settlement Orthodox lists surge in World Zionist Congress elections – The Jewish News of Northern California

Posted By on March 26, 2020

The two Orthodox lists surged in the U.S. portion of theWorld Zionist Congress electionsamid a record turnout since the balloting began for the entire American Jewish community 30 years ago.

Mizrachi and Eretz Hakodesh together earned 33.7% of the vote, almost double the 16.9 by the single Orthodox list in 2015, Vote Torah. The two lists, which advocate for spending on Israeli settlements and in the Orthodox community, split about evenly.

The Reform movement list was the overall leader, winning 25.5% of the vote, but saw a sharp drop from its 38.4% in 2015. Mercaz, representing the Conservative movement, also fell, to 11.9% from 17.4.

The World Zionist Congress determines about $1 billion a year in Jewish Agency spending in Israel and the Diaspora. The Reform and Conservative lists generally advocate for better representation in the spending for non-Orthodox movements.

The American Zionist Movement noted the record number of votes in a news release. Turnout more than doubled from the last election five years ago, with every movement seeing an increase. The religious streams traditionally have an advantage over smaller U.S. lists affiliated with Israeli political parties and other movements, as they encourage congregants to vote during services and in emails to membership.

Hatikvah, a progressive list, ran a high-profilecampaignthis year opposing spending in settlements and brought in well-known liberal Jewish figures like the liberal writer Peter Beinart and actor Josh Malina to encourage voting. It more than doubled its absolute number of voters, but only increased its percentage to 6.4 from 5.5 in 2015.

The Zionist Organization of America list, which leans pro-settlement, ran a campaign largely based on countering the aggressive push by Hatikvah and substantially improved to 8.3% of the vote from 4.8% in 2015.

Overall voting, which ended on March 11 and took place over two months, more than doubled to 123,629 this year from 56,737 in 2015. Most voters were charged $7.50 for their vote, but only $5 for those aged 18-25.

The U.S. election accounts for about a third of the Congress seats. Another third is based on party representation in Israels Knesset and the rest are elected by other Diaspora communities. Its not known yet how many seats will be apportioned to each list. There are 152 seats reserved for U.S. lists, up from 145 in 2015.

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Pro-Settlement Orthodox lists surge in World Zionist Congress elections - The Jewish News of Northern California

Letters From the April 6, 2020, Issue – The Nation

Posted By on March 26, 2020

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Thank you for Joshua Leifers review of my book The Lions Den: Zionism and the Left From Hannah Arendt to Noam Chomsky [A Tense Relationship, February 24]. Though he did not like the book, I appreciate the seriousness and thoughtfulness of his review.

However, I would like to clarify two things. Contrary to what Leifer writes, I do not criticize Chomsky for making mistakes. I criticize himand document my statements thoroughlyfor manufacturing entirely fictitious claims and then basing his political analysis of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict on them. There is a big difference between making mistakes and telling lies. The latter has always resulted in political and moral catastrophe for the left.

Second, nowhere have I somehow justified the expulsion and massacre of the Palestinians in 1948 (or ever)any more than I justify the expulsion and massacre of Jews in those towns where the Arab forces prevailed. What I pointed out is that there would have been no Palestinian refugees had the Arab states accepted partitionand the concomitant proposed Palestinian state; instead, they tried to exterminate the nascent Jewish state. I do indeed see this as a world-historic mistake, and I suspect there are many people in the Mideast, and not only in Israel, who think likewise.

Susie Linfieldbrooklyn

Joshua Leifer Replies

I greatly appreciate the opportunity to respond to Susie Linfields letter, and I am grateful that she took the time to read the review. I doubt I will be able to convince her that Chomsky is not a nightmare of the American left or guilty of misleading generations of young people. However, the moral balance sheet of his career finds him on the right side, more often than not, on some of the most important matters, from the Vietnam War to Israels occupation, neoliberalism, the Iraq War, and US war making more generally. Because I agree with Linfield that there is a big difference between making mistakes and telling lies, Id gladly side with Chomsky against the advocates of humanitarian intervention or, say, the signatories of the Euston Manifesto, who laundered unjust wars.Current Issue

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Second, it is an American liberal Zionist fantasy that there would have been no Palestinian refugees had the Arab states accepted partition. There is ample historical evidence that Zionist settlement in pre-1948 Mandate Palestine resulted in the dispossession of Palestinians from land their families had lived on for centuries. The reality of such displacement is also attested to in Zionist mythology, Hebrew songs, and the debates among early Zionist intellectuals over whether building a Jewish state would require the subjugation of the native Palestinians or their expulsion.

In fact, even before the 1920s, Zionist writers and intellectuals like Moshe Smilansky worried about the violent displacement that accompanied Jewish settlement. As Tom Segev records in his biography of David Ben-Gurion, Smilansky recounted seeing fellah women weeping and lamenting the lands and homes they had lost, without compensation. Jewish settlers had chased them off with sticks. In the 1930s it was precisely this issue that led philosopher Hans Kohn to resign from Brit Shalom, the binationalist Zionist organization. In his letter of resignation, he denounced the immeasurable barbarity of the eviction of Palestinian tenants from land bought by Zionist settlement organizations, like the Jewish National Fund.

Joshua Leiferbrooklyn

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Letters From the April 6, 2020, Issue - The Nation

Comfort And Outrage Needed In Equal Measure | Elana Hornblass Dushey – The Times of Israel

Posted By on March 26, 2020

Some weeks ago I returned from my first AIPAC policy conference and actively tried to evaluate my impressions of the conference that I had been told was just awesome and that I had wanted to attend for years. On the 4-hour drive home, besides fatigue and coronavirus anxiety, I primarily felt two emotions: outright euphoria generated by AIPACs stellar production and outrage that our cultural/political climate necessitates AIPAC at all.

COMFORTThe AIPAC conference delivered on its hype, with a lineup of talented and impressive presenters. It was euphoric being surrounded by likeminded Zionists, learning about initiatives that nurture the Israeli/American relationship and that provide Israel and the global community with medical, agricultural, and cultural advancements. But beneath that euphoria, the AIPAC conference reaffirmed that when engaging with anti-Semitism and anti-Zionism, which are identical expressions of hate, American Jewry should not only continue to problem solve, an approach that AIPAC exemplifies. American Jewry must also increasingly vocalize collective outrage, and it must do so loudly.

AIPACs presenters highlighted the benefits of approaching anti-Israel sentiment through positive problem solving. For example, I learned about Artists 4 Israel, an organization that invites international artists to create graphic arts in Israels impoverished and terror stricken areas. The artists, who often initially have anti-Israel views- (common now in artistic circles outside of Israel), see an Israel comprised of real people who suffer and who are resilient, creative and fun. They visit Israel and they see for the first time the Israeli people. For Israelis, the art becomes a therapeutic vehicle to negotiate trauma.

I attended a panel of pro-Israel college students. The panelists spoke about how they used student government to facilitate conversations about Israel that are positive and proactively combat BDS on campus. Ambitious and smart, these students glow with the belief that through initiative they can accomplish much, and they do.

I also listened to Elan Carr, as he described an executive order that enables the federal government to cut funding from universities that permit anti-Semitism. When professors prey on students ideological vulnerabilities to perpetuate lies and disenfranchise pro-Israel and Jewish students, they are committing acts of intellectual violence. While not sexual in nature, their behavior is akin to sexual harassment in the work sphere because it is an overt abuse of power. However, as I listened to Elan Carr, I was reassured that capable people are addressing those abuses.

AIPAC is filled with capable people, with problem solvers. Knowing that so much talent is advocating for Israel makes me optimistic; at the conference it made me euphoric. My outrage, however, was crystallized at a session that revealed a telling cultural distinction prevalent in Israels entertainment sector: while television and produced in Israel have been internationally welcomed and praised, musical artists from abroad, who perform in Israel, are still highly criticized. The distinction makes sense, as Israeli TV exposes audiences to human stories centered in Israel. Watching Israeli TV, international viewers see Israelis as people and Jews as people, and so the viewing experience transcends ideology/politics to become relatable entertainment. And yet, some of those same audiences still protest when non-Israeli musical artists perform in Israel- a disturbing phenomenon engendered by anti-Semitic propaganda.

Much like Israeli TV, AIPAC presents the opportunity for Americans to see the contributions of Israel and the humanness of Israelis.Once Americans intimately know Israel, they can recognize the inherent falsity of anti-Israel propaganda. AIPAC accomplishes this brilliantly and it is invaluable work because Israel needs Americas support.

OUTRAGEThis is where I get angry:after spending my life as a proud Jewish American, I am witnessing pervasive increases in anti-Semitism and anti-Zionism, from both liberal and far right circles. In the NY area where Jewish narratives, like those on Israeli TV, have been on view for years, anti-Semitism has risen exponentially, suggesting that New Yorkers are increasingly disavowing the humanness of Jews. In response to the worrying rate of anti-Semitic incidents, American Jews organized the No Hate. No Fear march this past January. Along with thousands of people, I and members of my synagogue walked along the Brooklyn Bridge in a show of solidarity. While marching, my group repeatedly tried to mobilize a loud, collective chant of Am Yisrael Chai! We wanted NY to hear the chant of Jewish survival, which comes from Jewish strength, because we felt outrage that Jews are increasingly being victimized, that Jews humanness is increasingly disregarded, in the most Jewish city in the diaspora. We wanted to show strength because bullies often only respond to strength; we wanted to shout, Dont mess with us!

Recently, vocally aggressive, and non-violent movements like the #Metoo movement have constructively utilized outrage to create change. We can learn from those movements. People implicitly understand outrage, as it simplifies the line between right and wrong. It delineates ethical boundaries by vocalizing loudly when an ethical boundary has been crossed. Anti-Semitism is not nuanced; it is an ethical line crossed again and again.

On the Brooklyn Bridge that day, we could not mobilize a collective chant that expressed our outrage. Thousands of Jews walked in relative silence. There were some songs, but not many expressions of anger. Perhaps due to negotiating the difficult terrain of living in the diaspora, American Jews have historically shown their collective voice most prevalently by problem solving, utilizing intelligence and talent (like AIPAC) and not so much through vocalized outrage. Yes, a problem solving approach is likely the most effective way to assert Jewish liberties. And yes, Jews have articulated outrage at anti-Semitism. But American Jews need to collectively vocalize that outrage louder than ever before, especially to those members of the population who do not care to engage with the discourse surrounding Israel or anti-Semitism. Jews can articulate outrage, not through violence, but through vocalizing that Jews will no longer be victimized- that Jews and Israelis should not have to consistently prove their humanness. In fact, humanness does not need to be proven; humanness is self evident in a peoples existence! Hear my outrage: our voices need to be heard.

Elana is an Adjunct at The MirYam Institute. She earned her PhD in English Literature from Fordham University in 2015 with a dissertation that focused on Jewish American literature and its approach to Zionism and Israel. For 12 years, she taught literature, composition, and film at St. Johns University and Fordham University, where she was awarded numerous fellowships. Following her degree, she was a Connected Academic Fellow in the Modern Language Association. Elana also writes fiction, most notably childrens fiction, and lives in New Jersey with her husband and three children, as a member of a vibrant Jewish community that is dedicated to Israel and other Jewish causes.

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Comfort And Outrage Needed In Equal Measure | Elana Hornblass Dushey - The Times of Israel

Palestinians are good enough to save Jews lives in Israel, but not to be in their government – Mondoweiss

Posted By on March 26, 2020

The political news from Israel really could make you lose your mind right now.

A great number of the professionals who are helping Israelis fight the coronavirus pandemic are Palestinian: 18 percent of doctors and 24 percent of nurses and 47 percent of pharmacists, according to Eli Kowaz of the Israel Policy Forum.

The Israeli health system would collapse without Palestinians. If the thousands of Arab health workersdoctors, nurses, pharmacistswere to stay at home, the entire system would collapse, former spy chief Ephraim Halevy wrote in Haaretz.

The only physician in the Israeli parliament (per Kowaz) is a Palestinian: Ahmad Tibi. Dr. Tibi has been playing a leading role in getting out health information during the crisis, in helping to evacuate Israelis from other countries including former IDF soldiers who were smoking pot in faraway places to decompensate after years of raiding Palestinian homes and arresting children in the West Bank.

Ahmad Tibi, legislator and doctor, thanks health professionals both Jewish and Arab fighting coronavirus. March 2020. Screenshot from twitter.

Dr. Tibi celebrates the work of health workers both Jewish and Arab in this inspiring video (screenshot above). Dr. Tibi also posted the photo of praying health-care workers at the top of this article with the message, Let us all be healthy, Jews and Arabs. We will defeat the Corona virus, overcome the racism virus.

Rightwing billboard says Yes to Jewish democracy but no to Palestinians Ayman Odeh and Ahmad Tibi featured as potential allies to Benny Gantz as supposed terrorists. Screenshot from Ayman Odeh video.

The racism virus. Benjamin Netanyahu, the caretaker prime minister who faces trial on corruption charges, has been attacking those very Palestinian legislators, including Dr. Tibi, in racist billboards (above) and chalktalks to the press. Netanyahu dismissed the 15 seats the Palestinians won in the March 2 election as non-factors in the coalition math that will produce a new government. He only counts Jewish legislators on the sheet below! 105.

Benjamin Netanyahu shows the number of votes cast for Jewish Zionist parties, in saying that Palestinians are not part of the equation in Israel. Screenshot from his twitter feed.

Netanyahu speaks of the Palestinian legislators as terrorists, and his lieutenant in the Knesset, Yuli Edelstein, says that if the opposition Blue White were to form a governing coalition based on the outside support of the 15 seats of Palestinian Joint List, that would be anarchy.

Netanyahus 58-seat bloc of Jewish legislators contains a lot of extreme racist and messianic Jews, as Yossi Alpher writes at Americans for Peace Now.

One of them, Yaakov Litzman, is the health minister and he said last week that the messiah will arrive before Pesach to liberate us [from corona]. Heres the full quote:

We are praying and hoping thatMoshiach(messiah) will arrive before Passover as it is a time of our redemption. I am sure that the Messiah will come by Passover and save us the same way God saved us during the Exodus and we were freed. The Moshiach will come and save us all.

Yaakov Litzman, Israels Health Minister under Netanyahu, who has said that the messiah will save the country from coronavirus before Passover. March 2020.

Some liberal Zionists in Israel are calling attention to this atrocity. Anyone who disqualifies the Arab MKs [members of Knesset] disqualifies their supporters, including the doctors who are currently saving the lives of IsraelisJews, Arabs and Druze alike. This is a disgrace and, worse, a self-inflicted wound, says Halevy in Haaretz, as reported by Americans for Peace Now.

While Neri Zilber, an Israel advocate, told the Israel Policy Forum, you cant argue that youre the only democracy in the Middle East when you say that the votes of 20 percent of your citizenry dont count.

There ought to be daily outrage from American Jews about these evolutions of the Jewish state, but hey, 95 percent of American Jews are Zionists, according to the leading media advocates of Zionism, so the Miracle that is Israel is their immaculate conception.

But and heres the kicker it looks like Netanyahu is going to stay prime minister because of all this racism.

Blue-White has been unable to form a minority government to replace Netanyahu, using the 15 votes of the Palestinians, because Blue-White has been foiled by three rightwingers in its own fold of 61 votes. Three Jewish racists who are opposed to Netanyahu say they wont be in a government that has even the outside support of Palestinians. (Meaning the Palestinian legislators would have to cast two votes in favor of the government, Zilber says. Once, to install it. Then to pass the budget.)

And using coronavirus, Netanyahu is making himself indispensable and popular. Although today has not been a good day for Netanyahu, with the resignation of Edelstein yesterday Zilber and Owen Alterman of i24 News both predicted that Benny Gantz will fold and create a unity government that keeps Netanyahu prime minister for the next 18 months because Israelis like how Netanyahu is dealing with coronavirus.

Theres a better chance than not that Gantz cuts a deal with Netanyahu, Zilber says. The irony is that it almost took a global pandemic to potentially save Netanyahus political career.

The Palestinian Joint List could well become the opposition to that government. Its the third largest party in Israel. Because no Jewish leader of any credibility in Israel ever wants anything to do with them.

Even as Palestinians are saving Jewish lives.

It boggles the mind. And of course our newspapers are not explaining this racism to American readers. And U.S. liberal Zionist organizations are not howling about it, as they should be, every day.

But its alright, the messiah will stop coronavirus by Passover, so Israelis can stop thinking about Palestinian doctors and nurses and pharmacists soon

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Palestinians are good enough to save Jews lives in Israel, but not to be in their government - Mondoweiss

Coronavirus, God, and Science – besacenter.org

Posted By on March 26, 2020

SARS-CoV-2 (round blue objects) on surface of cultured cells (AKA 2019-nCoV, the virus that causes COVID-19). Image via NIAID-RML NIH Image Gallery Flickr CC

BESA Center Perspectives Paper No. 1,504, March 25, 2020

EXECUTIVE SUMMARY: When PM Benjamin Netanyahu said, in a March 21 TV interview, that with Gods help well get through the coronavirus crisis, the interviewer interrupted him with these words: With the help of the Weizmann InstituteThe modern Temple of Zionism is at the Weizmann Institute. This exchange reveals the gap between the modern states promise of efficient management even in the face of great adversity and the elements of randomness and surprise that can render the most powerful and advanced states helpless.

From the outset, the modern state has depended on science and human rationality as the means to a stable and secure future. As the French sociologist Bruno Latour described the modern era: The laws of nature enabled the first Enlightenment to demolish the groundless pretensions of the ancient human conceptionsAll thoughts of the past were rendered foolish or hypotheticalA shining dawn arrived. Similarly, Theodor Herzl envisioned a modern state that would succeed on the basis of scientific knowledge. As he wrote in his book The Jewish State: The founding of a Jewish State, as I conceive it, presupposes the application of scientific methods. We cannot journey out of Egypt today in the primitive fashion of ancient times.

For the devotees of science and human rationality, this is the essence of the promise of stability, prosperity, and security. If something spins completely out of control, it is notaccording to the religion of rationalitybecause the promise was overblown but because someone was negligent, did not do his job right, or failed to consult the right expert in time. It is a foul-up, a phenomenon that in our era requires an investigation.

The French philosopher Paul Virilio described at length how rational scientific thought strives to achieve control over the world of phenomena, seeking to control even the uncontrollable. In his view, however, this thralldom to the great promise of technology and science may well lead to an integral accident that not only will change the human perception of technology but could even bring about the end of the modern project.

Virilio was not, of course, hoping for such an accident, but warned of it: the crisis would be as deep as the promise was great. Modern humanitys expectations of science and the state collide again and again with a defiant reality, and the coronavirus crisis is a dramatic example of such a clash.

In times of distress and extremity, the ultimate test of a national leadership lies first and foremost in its ability to function properly in the eye of the storm while taking resolute decisions and actions that are attuned to the state of emergency as the full scale of the disaster gradually emerges. And it is here that the basic behavioral problems of the modern state reveal themselves: at a time when the great accident has actually occurred, it has trouble dealing with it because of procedural and legal restrictions, stubborn cognitive stipulations, a failure to understand the unprecedented event, and an impulse to try to achieve centralized control over the crisis when it is not clear that it is controllable at all.

Egyptian hieroglyphics, which were once at the scientific forefront, were well able to account for the crisis of the descent of plagues upon Egypt: It is the finger of God. The humility that is needed in extreme crisis conditions of this magnitude is not only between man and God but also between humanity and the forces of nature. It is here that the path to coping with the crisis begins: in the awareness that not everything is controllable by human beings. The great scientists know how much even the scientific pursuit requires profound humility and the hope of salvation by the Creator.

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This is an edited version of an article to be published in The Liberal in April 2020.

Maj. Gen. (res.) Gershon Hacohen is a senior research fellow at the Begin-Sadat Center for Strategic Studies. He served in the IDF for 42 years. He commanded troops in battles with Egypt and Syria. He was formerly a corps commander and commander of the IDF Military Colleges.

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Coronavirus, God, and Science - besacenter.org

Do the right thing, Yuli Edelstein – The Jerusalem Post

Posted By on March 26, 2020

Knesset Speaker Yuli Edelstein suspended Knesset activities last week in an effort to prevent the new parliament from voting on his replacement.His decisions have been protested and questioned by civil rights groups as well as the Supreme Court and add to a sense that the current state of emergency is being exploited to erode democratic norms in the State of Israel.Israel has been through numerous emergencies in the past, from the War of Independence, through the Yom Kippur War in 1973 and the Second Intifada in the 2000s.What distinguishes us from other countries in the Middle East is that our democracy has always been non-negotiable. Israel may have reduced civil liberties at times but the trend has always been to adhere to our democracy and not let states of emergency rule over the people. We fight the emergency while we maintain our democratic character. We dont let one take over the other.For this to happen, it is important during times of crises that the Knesset continue to operate. Countries are judged not by what they do in time of peace but how they adhere to their principles and standards during difficulty. Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has described the battle against the novel coronavirus as war. If that is true, then the Knesset is needed now more than ever.Unfortunately, a year of endless elections has led the ruling party to often feel that it can govern without a Knesset and that endless elections can replace the need for a robust opposition and accountability to the people. There is no reason that the virus should keep the Knesset from functioning. We are among the most hi-tech nations in the world. How can our government boast of being a leader in technology and cyber and not be able to figure out how to have remote parliamentary meetings? We can bring citizens home on unprecedented flights from Australia and Peru, but cant get a Knesset speaker to the podium? Edelstein has sought to keep the Knesset from meeting and voting on a new speaker. This is not what he should want to be remembered for. Until now, he would have been remembered as a good speaker, a statesman and an oleh with extraordinary Zionist life story. The high-point of Zionism is to be a free people in our land under a democratic Jewish state where the people elect their leaders. He knows that which is why he should do the right thing on Wednesday and let the Knesset hold a vote for a new speaker.In addition to Edelstein, the prime minister is also moving close to eroding basic aspects of this countrys democracy under the guise of fighting a pandemic. The pandemic can be fought without Netanyahu at the helm. At every opportunity he has sought to hijack the narrative to make it seem that he alone can deal with the crisis. This is meant to create an impression that his trial and the indictments against him are a coup meant to prevent him from saving lives.This country needs an active Knesset. It needs oversight and the democratic wheels need to continue spinning. A pandemic does require tough decisions but it does not mean that we need to sacrifice the states basic character. Unfortunately, short-term political shenanigans are preventing basic work from being done. Likud accuses Blue and White of trampling traditions. But the greatest tradition of the Knesset is to have it function even during difficult times and arguments. Never should it be shut down.Now is the time for the vision of the founders of the state to be realized. Even if we face the kind of crisis Netanyahu has described the potential for 1 million infections and more than 10,000 dead the Knesset must be active. We need all hands on deck to keep the boat afloat in this ocean of uncertainty that has suddenly washed over the world. Do the right thing, Edelstein. Stop blocking the Knesset.

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Do the right thing, Yuli Edelstein - The Jerusalem Post

The Labour Leadership Race: What’s Next for the UK Jewish Community? – The Times of Israel

Posted By on March 26, 2020

Over three months after the apparent end of Corbynism, and roughly ten weeks into the resultant Labour leadership race, the UKs Jewish community continues to face uncertainty and be fearful over the direction that the Labour party will take. As it stands, there are three candidates remaining, vying to replace Jeremy Corbyn as leader of the Labour party: Rebecca Long Bailey, Lisa Nandy and Sir Keir Starmer. In under two weeks, on April 4th, the next leader of the party will be announced but what does each candidate mean for the future of the Jewish community in the United Kingdom?

Rebecca Long-Bailey

Nominated by the likes of John McDonnell, Diane Abbott, Richard Burgon and Lloyd Russell-Moyle, Ms. Long-Bailey represents the clear option of continuity from the current leadership. Throughout her campaign, she has been asked numerous times about her views of the current Labour leader, and has been given countless opportunities to criticise the leadership and direction that the party has taken under Corbyn. However, time and time again she has defended him. Describing Mr. Corbyn as an honest, decent and principled man, Long-Bailey began her campaign by giving him ten out of ten for his leadership and has since spoken about asking him to join her shadow cabinet, if she is successful in her bid to replace him.

Concerning her record (or lack thereof) of seeking to combat the institutionalised nature of antisemitism within Labour, Ms. Long-Bailey was appointed by Jeremy Corbyn to Labours National Executive Committee (NEC) the governing body of Labour, which is tasked with setting the partys overall strategic direction. The NEC a body which has been heavily criticised for its failure to deal with the complaints, reporting, suspension and expulsion procedures relating to antisemitism within Labour was the body that initially sought to redefine antisemitism for Jewish people. In this effort, the NEC forewent four central elements of the internationally-recognised IHRA working definition of antisemitism, concerning views and behaviour towards Israel. Long-Bailey, as a member of the NEC, was involved in the meeting in July 2018 where this decision was made, and has since claimed that she cant remember whether or not she spoke in support of the adoption of the IHRA definition of antisemitism in full.

This interplay between antisemitism and criticism of Israel has been a central feature in Labours failure to deal with antisemitism within the party. As such, this issue has become a popular topic of questioning in the current leadership race. For instance, at a leadership hustings event, participants were asked directly if they were a Zionist. Long-Baileys response was to say she was a Zionist, qualifying this statement by saying if that meant agreeing to Israels right to exist and right to self-determine.. Whilst such a question and answer may achieve the necessary simplicity for a good headline, without further explanation from Ms. Long-Bailey such a statement becomes redundant, given the disparity between her rhetoric and past actions.

Lisa Nandy

Framing herself as the differential candidate, offering an alternative path for the Labour party, Lisa Nandy has declared herself as the brave choice in the leadership race, stating that Labour has been getting it wrong for fifteen years, and if it is to continue on this path, the party will die. Having been Shadow Secretary of State for Energy and Climate Change under Jeremy Corbyn from 2015 to 2016, Nandy resigned as one of twenty shadow cabinet ministers in June 2016, in opposition to the direction that Corbyn was leading the party. In February, Ms. Nandy won the backing of the majority (50.9%) of the Jewish Labour Movement (JLM) the mainstream Jewish organisation affiliated to the UK Labour party, an organisation which last year refused to back the party in the general election, given the institutionalised antisemitism within it.

Yet, to say that Lisa Nandy would be the perfect candidate to lead Labour out of its endemic problem with antisemitism, would be a stretch. In September 2019, on BBC programme, Politics Live, when challenged by Tory MP, Sir Charles Walker, on Corbyns problem with Jewish people, Lisa Nandy replied by saying that tribal loyalties will always be a part of politics. With such an ambiguous comment, it was unclear whether this was in reference to the loyalties of the political parties themselves or indeed the loyalties of the Jewish community. Yet, even if we were to give Ms. Nandy the benefit of the doubt in this instance, such a weak response to the serious question raised about the Labour leaderships inaction on antisemitism within the party is indicative of the widespread indifference towards antisemitism, which continues to be commonplace among Labour MPs today.

Furthermore, Lisa Nandy has repeatedly backed the Palestine Solidarity Campaign (PSC), an organisation which openly supports the Boycott, Divestment, Sanctions (BDS) Movement and an organisation which in January 2020 enabled BDS co-founder Omar Barghouti to speak in the UK at its Annual General Meeting. In February, Ms. Nandy was accused of playing both sides by Stephane Savary, a national vice chair of the JLM. Despite describing herself as a Zionist, Nandys affiliation with the PSC and her endorsement of the Palestinian right of return, a principle that would end Israels Jewish character, brings into question her understanding of the term Zionism itself, through advocating for such a perceived incompatibility.

Sir Keir Starmer

Starmer is the current frontrunner and clear favourite to replace Mr. Corbyn as Labour leader. Throughout the leadership campaign, Keir Starmer has repeatedly been accused of being rather non-committal on a number of issues. For example, he has refused to criticise Corbyns leadership of the party and has continued to support Labours position on Brexit during the election campaign, in spite of the widespread criticism that this stance received from Remainers and Brexiteers alike. The truth is that Mr. Starmer is the only candidate of the three able to win votes from across the partys political spectrum, from both the hard left of the party and the more centrist party members too. It is clear politicking and calculation from Starmer, who in 2016 sought to remove Corbyn from a position of leadership, saying it is simply untenable to suggest that we can offer an effective opposition without a change of leader. Frankly, the Labour leader candidate does not want to upset any significant group within the Labour party and, so far, this tactic seems to have been quite successful for him.

It is certainly worrying that Sir Keir Starmer, having been a member of the shadow cabinet for three and a half years under Jeremy Corbyn, has only decided to speak out against Labours problem with antisemitism following the partys catastrophic December 2019 election defeat. Perhaps this serves as another example of Starmers predilection for political opportunism. His inaction on the issue, when in a prominent position on the Labour frontbench, suggests an indifference to this particular form of racism, which must be a concern for the Jewish community in the UK.

It should be mentioned that Starmer was the second choice for the JLM, marginally behind Lisa Nandy, as he received 45.3% of the vote at the recent JLM leadership ballot. At the Jewish Labour Movement hustings, when asked whether he was a Zionist or not, Starmer said that he would not use the label of Zionist to describe himself, continuing that, despite this, he understands, sympathises and supports Zionism. Starmers route to Labour leader necessitates that he secures a significant backing from the hard left/pro-Corbyn portion of the party membership, and so his inability to describe himself as a Zionist is, at least in part, based on not wanting to alienate this section of the electorate. Nevertheless, Starmers tendency to favour reactive politics is not what is needed to stamp out the antisemitic hate that has characterised the Labour party in recent years. Strong, proactive leadership, and an ability to mobilise party members from indifference to action, in combating antisemitism, is what would help pave the path towards reconciliation between Labour and the Jewish Community in Britain.

What Next?

Unfortunately, there is no outstanding candidate with a robust history of challenging the Labour party and its processes on its shocking antisemitism record. Rebecca Long-Bailey who received a backing of a mere 1.4% of JLM voters, and who is backed by Corbyns closest allies, would simply re-brand Corbynism as Labour leader. Ideologically, she is the most aligned to the current leader and it is frankly very difficult to envisage that a Labour party led by Rebecca Long-Bailey, would significantly alter its amicable relationship with antisemitism.

Lisa Nandy and Sir Keir Starmer were the clear favourites among JLM members to become the next party leader, receiving over 96% of the vote between them. Both Nandy and Starmer have stated that correcting Labours antisemitism issue would be a top priority for them as Labour leader. However, such rhetoric just seems to be the right thing to say rather than what is genuinely believed by the candidates. The ample opportunities, as shadow cabinet ministers and prominent Labour figures, to speak out against Labours antisemitism record, in solidarity with the Jewish community, were ignored and it was this inaction and indifference from Labour MPs which added to the collective anxiety of the community.

Ultimately, all three candidates campaigned to elect Jeremy Corbyn as Prime Minister of the UK in December, when 87% of British Jews believed him to be antisemitic. This fact, I do not believe can be overstated, as it points to the clear apathy and indifference among all three candidates towards antisemitism. Not one of the candidates forcefully spoke out against Labours endemic antisemitism issue, at a time when 47% of British Jews would have seriously considered leaving the country if Corbyn was to become Prime Minister. Such inaction will not be forgotten without serious action being taken towards combating antisemitism within the Labour party.

What is clear, is that the legacy of Corbynism will live on in the Labour Party, regardless of who wins the leadership election. Labour party membership surged under Corbyn, and the political and ideological make-up of the partys membership, now has a hugely significant Corbynista presence. Yes, it is true that the route towards repairing the relationship between Labour and the Jewish community will certainly differ from candidate to candidate, but there is no quick fix to eradicating the party of the antisemitism that has plagued it over the last four to five years.

As mentioned, the interplay between antisemitism and Israel is a central feature of Labours antisemitism crisis, and so it is important that, as British Jews, we engage in conversation on what Zionism means. The current candidates have shown a clear lack of knowledge and understanding when it comes to the term and this is, undoubtedly, representative of the wider population of the UK. As Jews, we have a responsibility to define Zionism and eradicate its associated stigma. We must educate politicians and society, so that they are able to identify antisemitism. Education can help de-mystify the term Zionism and push the Labour party, and the wider British population, away from indifference on antisemitism. In demystifying the term, we can clarify exactly where the boundaries for criticism of Israel lie, and where such criticism mutates into antisemitism.

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The Labour Leadership Race: What's Next for the UK Jewish Community? - The Times of Israel

The UO’s women scholars are taking the lead in academia – AroundtheO

Posted By on March 25, 2020

They are mentors and role models in the classroom as well as in the community, but UO faculty women also put their leadership skills to work outside the university within a number of professional associations.

Some are presidents, others serve on committees and boards, while others work behind the scenes offering specialized guidance and expertise. During Womens History Month and throughout the year, the UO acknowledges their effort and commitment to advance science, promote education and strengthen and further the goals of their respective organizations.

Monique BalbuenaAssociate professorComparative literature and Jewish studiesClark Honors College

Balbuena has been elected to the executive committee of the Sephardic Studies Discussion Group of the Modern Language Association. As the principal professional association in the U.S. for scholars of language and literature, the goal of the association is to strengthen the study and teaching of language and literature.

T. Bettina CornwellProfessor/department headDepartment of MarketingLundquist College of Business

Cornwell holds professional leadership positions as an editorial board member on two publications: the Journal of Advertising, a peer-reviewed academic journal covering advertising theories and their relationship with practice, and the Journal of Public Policy & Marketing, which covers all aspects of the intersection of marketing and public policy.

Amy LobbenProfessorDepartment of GeographyCollege of Arts and Sciences

Lobben is currently the president of the American Association of Geographers. The association has 12,500 members from 60 countries who work in the public, private and academic sectors. They work in a range of careers, as community college instructors; federal, state and local government employees; planners; cartographers; scientists; nonprofit workers; entrepreneur; businesspeople; elementary and secondary educators; graduate students; retirees; and university administrators, among many other professions.

Leah MiddlebrookAssociate professor/department headDepartment of Comparative LiteratureCollege of Arts and Sciences

Middlebrook is president of the Society for Renaissance and Baroque Hispanic Poetry. The society is an international group dedicated to promoting scholarship and scholarly exchange about the poetic production of the early modern Hispanic world broadly speaking, Spain and the Spanish-speaking parts of colonial Latin America, including the Spanish Pacific. The Society for Renaissance and Baroque Hispanic Poetry is home of the journal Calope, published by Penn State University Press.

Barbara MossbergProfessor of practice, literatureClark Honors College

Mossberg was elected president of the Emily Dickinson International Society and director of the Triennial International Conference in August 2019. Founded in 1988, the society promotes, perpetuates and enhances the study and appreciation of Emily Dickinson worldwide.

Julianne NewtonProfessor of visual communicationSchool of Journalism and Communication

Newton serves on the editorial boards of multiple publications, including the Journal of Communication, Visual Studies, Journal of Mass Media Ethics, EME (explorations in Media Ecology), Visual Resources, International Journal of McLuhan Studies and VCQ.

Priscilla Pea OvalleAssociate professorDepartment of Cinema StudiesCollege of Arts and Sciences

Pena Ovalle is president-elect through 2021 and then will become president of the Society for Cinema and Media Studies. The society is the leading scholarly organization in the United States dedicated to promoting a broad understanding of film, television and related media through research and teaching grounded in the contemporary humanities tradition. Society membership includes more than 3,000 scholars from more than 500 institutions across 38 countries.

Carol PatyAssociate professorEarth and planetary sciencesClark Honors College

Paty is a co-investigator in two instruments, PIMS and REASON, for the Europa Clipper Mission, which was officially confirmed for the final design and construction phases, and just completed a four-year rotation as the Interior Working Group co-chair.

Geri RichmondPresidential Chair in ScienceProfessor of chemistryDepartment of Chemistry and BiochemistryCollege of Arts and Sciences

Richmond is the current president Sigma Xi and past president of the American Association for the Advancement of Science. Sigma Xi is the leading international honor society of science and engineering and one of the oldest and largest scientific organizations in the world. More than 200 Nobel Prize winners have been members. The American Association for the Advancement of Science is the worlds largest multidisciplinary scientific society and a leading publisher of cutting-edge research through its Science family of journals. The association has 120,000 individual members in more than 91 countries around the globe.

Priscilla SouthwellProfessor EmeritaDepartment of Political ScienceCollege of Arts and Sciences

Southwell is president-elect of the Pacific Northwest Political Science Association. The association is a regional organization that brings together scholars to encourage the study and understanding of political science.

Lori ShontzInstructorSchool of Journalism and Communication

Shontz is the faculty adviser for the student chapter of the Association for Women in Sports Media, a board member at Journalism That Matters and a steering committee member for Gather, a community of practice for engaged journalists. She is also a member of the UO Provost's Teaching Academy.

Lynn StephenPhilip H. Knight ChairDistinguished Professor of Arts and SciencesDepartment of AnthropologyCollege of Arts and Sciences

Stephen is past president and current Executive Council member of the Latin American Studies Association. The association is the largest professional association for individuals and institutions engaged in the study of Latin America. With more than 12,000 members in 90 countries, it brings together experts on Latin America from all disciplines and diverse occupational endeavors, across the globe.

By Lisa Raleigh, College of Arts and Sciences, and Sharleen Nelson, University Communications

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The UO's women scholars are taking the lead in academia - AroundtheO

With Passover around the corner, Seward Park’s Orthodox Jews feel the impacts of COVID-19 – southseattleemerald.com

Posted By on March 25, 2020

by Carolyn Bick

Every year, Karen Treiger and her husband gather together with their family from across the world to celebrate Passover. They all unite from as far away as Israel, and spend a little more than a week together, she said, eight days that begin with two huge Passover seders, the name for the holidays feasts. Its usually a joyful, warm affair, filled with quality family time, and opportunities to catch up with one another in person.

But the global outbreak of COVID-19 has changed all that. This year, Passover, which begins April 8, will be a smaller, quieter affair. Familiar faces will be absent. Theyll still hide the afikomen, but it wont be as much fun, without kids to look for it alongside adults. The couple will not get to see some of their own children and other family members. Its just not safe. Still, Treiger counts herself lucky, because she has family in the area.

It wont just feel like me and my husband sitting at the tables by ourselves, which, I think, for some people, it will be. And that is going to be really hard, she said.

Treiger and her husband attend Minyan Ohr Chadash, one of the five Orthodox Jewish synagogues in South Seattles Seward Park neighborhood. Treiger is the temples Vice President. She and her husband are Modern Orthodox Jews, which means that they keep Halacha, or Jewish law. Thus, the couple is among those Jews who acutely feel the impacts of the current COVID-19 restrictions and closures. As do many who observe Jewish law, the Treigers treat Passover, the holiday that celebrates the liberation of the Jewish people from slavery, as they do Shabbat. This means they do not use technology. They do not drive cars. They do not do anything that could be construed as work or creation. And because of this, they cannot hold virtual seders.

Rabbi Benjamin Hassan of the Seward Park-based Sephardic Bikur Holim Orthodox synagogue, his wife, and their four children plan to get around this by video calling his almost 70-year-old mother in Florida before and after their seder. The kids will sing her the Four Questions, he said, but it still wont be the same.

When we tell the story of Passover, its a trans-generational piece that connects the grandparents and grandchildren is part of the seder, is part of the very fabric, he explained.

But this is not the only area the community is running into trouble, Hassan said. Because many have been laid off, following significant declines in revenue as a result of movement restrictions for public health and safety reasons, there is a greater need for food assistance and food thats kosher for Passover isnt cheap. While leaders from the temples in Seward Park recently congregated to figure out how to get food to people in need, Hassan said, the problem will remain after the holiday, too, as a viable vaccine for the virus is still anywhere from a year to 18 months away.

We are trying to set up emergency funds. Normally, we help our poorest families at this time of year with grocery shopping for Passover, and now were extending that fund, because we know that there is going to be a greater need as people may be laid off, he said.

Rabbi Yaakov Tanenbaum of the Orthodox Jewish Bikur Cholim-Machzikay Hadath Congregation in Seward Park said that the overall problem is compounded amongst the older Jews in the community who live alone. They will be completely isolated from their loved ones and their community this year, he said, which means they may have to figure out not only how to hold a Passover seder for one, but also how to safely get food.

[They], rightfully so, dont want to go out to Safeway, and dont want to go out to different places to go buy food, because they dont want to be around other people. They feel susceptible. They are a high-risk category, Tanenbaum said.

He said the community is trying to help rectify this by actively reaching out to their older congregants to help them prepare as much as possible, before the holiday. Some are making regular phone calls to their older friends and neighbors; others are going shopping for them. The areas synagogues are trying to coordinate with grocery stores, in order to get everyone what they need. But because of the unique and unprecedented situation, its a bit of a scramble.

We are definitely trying to get and provide special Passover food, Tanenbaum said. We are still trying to figure out exactly everyones needs, and not just make it general.

But for many, this feeling of isolation extends beyond just the Passover holiday. The Orthodox Jewish community in particular is tight-knit, its members living close enough to their synagogues to walk there for Friday night and Saturday morning services. These houses of worship are closed now, and the people who once walked side-by-side with their neighbors to and from services are now cloistered in their houses.

Everybody is very sad. Not only do we all walk to synagogue on Sabbath or a holiday, but also, on the Sabbath, there are two large meals we have. One is Friday night dinner, and then Saturday, after lunch, people go home and have a festive meal, Teriger said. We always have people at our table, and now, that is not going to happen.

The COVID-19 restrictions also have serious spiritual implications, because certain prayers require a minyan, or a quorum of 10 men. Without a minyan, these prayers may not be recited. Among these prayers are the Amidah, the Kaddish, and the Barchu, three of the most important prayers in Judaism. The loss of the Kaddish is causing particular anguish within the community, Hassan said, because of the nature of the prayer.

The Kaddish is often recited by mourners, in the memory of loved ones for a whole year, or on the anniversary on the days of passing. So, if we dont have 10 Jewish men together, we are not able to say this prayer, Hassan said. It causes a lot of sadness for people, because that is one of the main ways that they remember their family members.

The current health danger of gathering together a minyan is also affecting other areas of Orthodox Jewish life. Though rabbis may carry out virtual, online Torah study classes, during the week, they may not read directly from the Torah without a minyan. Wedding parties are also either greatly reduced to just 10 people, or off entirely, and bar and bat mitzvahs have been pushed out several months, as these rites of life all require minyans. Hassan said some Orthodox Jews are even questioning whether or not they are allowed to hold funerals, as these traditionally require minyans, too.

Amidst all this uncertainty, fear, and loneliness, though, rabbis are trying to help their congregants keep a sense of normalcy. In addition to holding virtual Torah study, as other rabbis are doing, Orthodox Congregation Ezra Bessaroths Rabbi Simon Benzaquen said that he is encouraging his congregation to all celebrate Shabbat at the same time every week. Even though they are physically apart, he said, theres just something about the knowledge that everyone is praying together.

There is something about it, everybody praying at the same time, even in a different places it somehow has a certain kind of effect, much better than just each one individual, Benzaquen said. We demonstrate to our congregants that it is very important to still be gathering our thoughts, that we should clearly direct our prayers at the same time as we usually do. So, that way, we do not detach. We are postponing, but looking forward somewhat, please God things get better, which we definitely hope. And we are sure it is going to get better.

Featured image: A sculpture stands outside the Minyan Ohr Chadash synagogue on March 22, 2020, in Seattle, Washington. Photo: Carolyn Bick.

Carolyn Bick is a South Seattle-based journalist and photographer. Reach them here.

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With Passover around the corner, Seward Park's Orthodox Jews feel the impacts of COVID-19 - southseattleemerald.com


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