Guests at a Panel in Our Community This Afternoon
At UMass Dartmouth earlier today we hosted a panel of
Israelis from the Afula-Gilboa region for a flowing discussion about
religious diversity in Israel. Before the event we honored the memory
of those murdered in Pittsburgh two and a half weeks ago.
Ravid, the panel moderator, is a young doctor who was once
a SNEC Young Emissary to New England. Joining him
were: Amani, an Israeli Arab (Muslim); Amir, a
secular Israeli; and Ayala, an Orthodox Jew.
Each member of the panel spoke about his or her personal
experiences growing up and living in Israel now. Later, they accepted
questions from the audience. Israeli Jews and Arabs living in the
Afula-Gilboa region share work in hospitals, social centers and
business. They live very close to each other and get together all the
time. "We need to get along," surmised Ayala.
Amani spoke about the unique status of Israeli Arabs in
response to a question about military service. "We are in the
middle. I am an Arab. I am an Israeli. I can't fight Palestinians. It's
very complicated, this situation and feeling," she concluded.
The session ended with moderator Ravid speaking to hope
and the future. "It takes time. There is no instant solution.
Israel is young, a start-up nation. Things will change."
Cease Fire or a War Just Begun?
On Tuesday, in light of the war that was going on in Gaza
(and as a program reminder), I sent a special Bulletin. The
situation looked dire as rockets were coming down in Israel's south at
a rate of 40 per hour. I thought "boots on the ground" is a
likely option and that it was going to get worse before it gets better
in this dreaded piece of land no one and no country wants.
bus hit by antitank missile seconds after passengers disembark
The situation in the areas bordering with Gaza has been
atrocious for months. Hundreds of rockets this week were a significant
escalation to the kite and balloon bombs that have burned thousands of
acres since the spring.
And just when it seemed like one of those worst case
scenarios, Hamas and Israel agreed on a ceasefire. You would think that
a few nights or weeks away from bomb shelters is what the region needs,
yet many Israelis in the areas near the border have been most vocal
against the ceasefire. It was done out of weakness, they say, and it is
a short-term solution before the next round. Defense Minister Avigdor
Lieberman agreed with that position and resigned the Bibi-led
government in protest in what many consider the
first shot in a new election cycle. For the sake of tens of
thousands kids in the region who rarely go very long without one
traumatic event after another -- imagine what it felt like after Sandy
Hook or Parkland and now imagine that every day for weeks in a row --
for the sake of those children let's hope this one lasts for a while
and that those who play politics with these events remember that.
A Scholar's Perspective on
I've always liked Jonathan D. Sarna, professor of American
Jewish History at Brandeis University, and author of, among other
Judaism: A History. He was always the one to take a big
picture view of American Jewish newspapers at a time when I was deeply
involved in that industry. He was there to offer perspective for young
journalists as he has for students for many years. After the massacre
in Pittsburgh, The
New York Times op-ed written by Dara Horn that I shared
last week and the one below are my favorites.
"The story of the Temple bombing [Atlanta, 1958]
leaped to mind when I heard the horrific news from Pittsburgh," he
writes. "The parallels are uncanny: In both cases, extremists with
longstanding anti-Semitic tendencies took up arms and targeted
synagogues amid an incendiary political atmosphere charged by extreme
divisiveness and demagogic rhetoric. Meanwhile, traumatized Jews, in
both cases, expressed alarm at what the Jewish Telegraphic Agency in 1958
described as 'a frightening parallel to the coming of Hitler to power
in Germany.' "
Sarna's observations and conclusions, delivered with
precise poise, remove emotion from the equation and allow room for
reason. Please read this one.
Antisemitism Here and Now, A New
Prior to the release of Deborah Lipstadt's
new book (written before the Pittsburgh attack), she spoke with JTA. In the book
she offers a concise and comprehensive overview of the various forms of
Jew-hatred that have reappeared or intensified during the past few
years. Talk about timely.
Some excerpts from her JTA
You focus largely on people who
enable or minimize anti-Semitism, as opposed to hardcore anti-Semites
themselves. Why is that?
" ... Farrakhan, he's a disgusting excuse for a human
being. But it's the people around him, Linda Sarsour, [Women's March
co-chair] Tamika Mallory, who have the voice of the press, who are
listened to. They're enablers. The enablers are much more dangerous to
me than the people we recognize..."
You criticize activists who lead
the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions movement, or BDS, against Israel.
But could you explain why you also have harsh words for Israeli Prime
Minister Netanyahu, who they oppose?
" ... First of all, his welcoming and
embrace of [Hungarian prime minister] Viktor Orban, who has been
pushing this Soros imagery [billboards criticizing the liberal Jewish
philanthropist George Soros] and cracking down on the Jewish community
of Budapest in a horrible, horrible way...."
A Marvel of a Man
I don't like comic books. Never have. I didn't get into
the graphic novel wave either. Not my thing. That said, where would we
be without iconic comic book heroes like Spider-Man, the Hulk, Iron Man
and the like? Stan Lee's passing this week at the age of 95 gives us
reason to have another look at his work.
"If you're looking to understand what makes Judaism's
edicts eternal, what makes American popular culture so widely resonant,
and how the two intersect, you could do much worse than picking up a
Stan Lee comic book and following it into a world where good and evil
still do battle," writes Liel Leibovitz for Tablet Magazine in his
to Stan Lee. Leibovitz has spent the last few years working on a
book about Lee.
For a different but equally insightful take, there is this from the
Lee and the Death of a Jewish-American Idealism.' "
Also getting a nod in the article for his public support
is our own Julian Edelman, the Patriots wide receiver whose father is
When the news that rapper
Ice-T has never eaten a bagel (and never, ever plans to have one)
broke, you could have knocked me over with a poppy seed. I thought it
was funny that such an unimportant food choice created a social media
wave. I can't imagine, for example, the news that I will never drink
iced tea (Why would anyone when there's iced coffee?) would make any
waves at all.
Global Screening Eventour for Who Will Write Our History
on International Holocaust Remembrance Day
New Bedford Whaling Museum
November 1940, days after the Nazis sealed 450,000 Jews
in the Warsaw Ghetto, a secret band of journalists, scholars and
community leaders decided to fight back. Led by historian Emanuel
Ringelblum, the group vowed to defeat Nazi propaganda with pen and
paper. Their story is told as a feature documentary.
Written and directed by Roberta Grossman and produced by
Will Write Our History mixes their writings with new
interviews, footage and dramatizations transporting us inside the
Ghetto. They defied their murderous enemy with the ultimate weapon -
the truth - and risked everything so that their archive would survive
the war, even if they did not.