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Archive for the ‘Politics’ Category

Gershom Rabbeinu says NO to NSA illegal surveillance of innocent Americans!

Posted by Oyster on July 4, 2013


A medieval rabbi had the wisdom to know that it is a tremendous sin and trampling upon of our sacred individuality to have our privacy taken away from us. He ordered that it would be against Jewish law for any letter intended for an individual to be read by someone else without their consent. America’s founding fathers eventually came around to the same principle, enshrining it in the 4th Amendment. This 4th of July, take a stand against illegal overreach by the NSA. Visit the following sites to see how you can get involved: Stop Watching Us, Restore the Fourth, the Electronic Frontier Foundation.


Posted in Politics | Leave a Comment »

Jewish Dispatches from the Durban Review Conference

Posted by Oyster on April 22, 2009

This dispatch was sent to me by my friend Liora. Liora is part of the American Jewish Committee’s young professional delegation to the Durban Review Conference (DRC), a UN conference being held in Geneva from April 19 – 24 to review progress to cobat raciscm, racial intolerance, xenophobia and related intolerances since the orginal conference held in Durban, South Africa in 2001. Unfortunately, the 2001 conference turned into an Antisemetic and anti-Israel forum, punctuated by an ugly NGO forum dominated by blatant Antisemetism. AJC and other Jewish organizations have sent delegates to Geneva as a voice to the media and conferenece participants that Antisemitism and singling out of Israel at the expenses of serious racial abuses around the world, such as Darfur and Zimbabwe, are unacceptable.

Greetings from Geneva! First I must address yesterday. What a day. I will focus on Ahmadinejad for this posting. Much to the dismay of the Western World and Jews particularly, Ahmedinejad was invited as a main guest speaker on the very first day of the Durban Review Conference. Yes, this is the same national leader who has consistently called the Holocaust a myth and called for Israel to be “Wiped off the map”. The UN could not have found a more appropriate speaker to demonstrate the hypocrisy of the Durban Review Conference and the hijacking of important racism and intolerance issues at the expense of politics.

It was odd that in the face of such controversial preparations leading to the DRC, the pending and now finalized withdrawal of key countries such as the US, Germany, Canada, Poland, Australia, Italy, etc, the UN would choose to discredit the conference further through inviting Ahmadinejad to speak.

Needless to say, there was bit of a debate within our delegation about where we belonged during the infamous speech. Clearly, an element of curiosity led us to want to hear Ahmadinejad’s hateful words for ourselves and witness the UN reaction first hand. Nonetheless, we also felt that the last thing we wanted to do was give Ahmadinejad even more of an audience for his tirade and give weight to his ideas by listening live. My fellow delegate, Naomi, and I decided we would instead attend a rally organized outside the Palais de Nations protesting Ahmadinejad’s speech. However, walking around prior to the scheduled 3:14 speech without seeing any rally, we found out that the protest was going to happen afterwords. Outside the Palais de Nations we witnessed a loud caravan of police escorts leading Ahmadinejad to the Palais de Nations. Since the rally was not happening, we decided to go inside the building in hopes of speaking to media and explaining our position on Ahmadinejad’s invitation and the DRC in general.

Inside the Palais de Nations, our timing could not have been better. As we entered, we were quickly ushered along with a delegation of about 15 Iranians, including security, cameramen, and the President of Iran himself. Naomi and I clutched each others hands, not believing that 5 feet in front of us was Ahmadinejad, and we were now ad hoc members of his delegation! We continued walking as if we completely belonged with his group, even though I was sure two noticeably American girls attached to a delegation of formal Iranian men was slightly odd.

We followed the group until we got to the main hall, where we pulled aside an Iranian cameraman and offered to be interviewed. I gave a couple-minute statement about our view that the conference was being hijacked for political reasons instead of focusing on core racism issues. I discussed Israeli’s desire to live in peace alongside the Palestinians as well as our view that Ahmadinejad’s Holocaust denials and threats to destroy Israel makes him unfit to be a lead speaker at a conference addressing Racism, Racial Discrimination, Xenophobia, and Related Intolerances. Afterwords, the cameramen told us he was one of Ahmadinejad’s official filmmakers and was doing a documentary on Ahmadinejad’s visit to the DRC which would air on Channel 1 in Iran. I’m not quite sure I believe any of that, and am a little nervous about the usage of the film!

The craziness continued as a couple minutes later it looked like ‘our’ Iranian delegation was walking into the main floor of the Palais de Nations. We quickly took our place in the delegation, walking with Ahmadinejad right past UN security. Naomi and I were thrust onto the main floor of the hall, for which only diplomats and one representative from each NGO were credentialed! We found a spot in the back, trying to look inconspicuous. We didn’t know what to expect!

When Ahmadinejad took the stage, one person jumped out onto the main floor screaming and waving his hands, wearing a clown hat! Security rushed to him and dragged him out, but another clown jumped out and did the same! The circus of the DRC and Ahmadinejad’s presence was finally demonstrated! After this ruckus, Ahmadinejad began speaking. Unfortunately we were unable to access headphones for the translation of the speech and were still bewildered at our presence on the main floor. A few minutes into his speech, delegates and diplomats on the main floor suddenly rose and walked out, booing the Iranian President. I quickly realized that this must be in protest, and Naomi and I joined the others around us who officially walked out in disgust (see video above).

It turns out that 23 countries from the EU walked out, along with Morocco, Jordan, and ironically enough, the Palestinian delegate (presumably because he objects to Hamas and their ties with Iran as well as Iranian politicization of the Palestinian issue).

Naomi and I quickly joined the European Union of Jewish Students who had organized a rally just outside the plenary hall which had its own share of excitement, advocates such as Elie Wiesel and Alan Dershowitz, and UN attempts to silence the demonstrators. More about this to come!

Overall, I felt disgusted by the events at the UN yesterday. I don’t understand why Ahmadinejad was invited, and furthermore, why he received rousing standing ovations from many delegates who did not walk out. I thought the use of clown costumes and red clown noses by protesters was a perfect symbol of the circus this conference has become. After learning more about the multilateral workings of the UN, I sadly do not believe it is the forum to tackle the serious human rights issues our world faces. UN politics unfortunately further isolate real victims of racism and discrimination, and we need to look to alternative methods to make their voices heard.

Posted in Antisemitism, Israel, Politics, San Francisco, Young Adults | 2 Comments »

March 12: PresenTense Zionism Panel in San Francisco

Posted by Oyster on March 10, 2009

Yes, you heard us right. A panel on Zionism, in San Francisco.

Yes, you heard us right. A panel on Zionism, in San Francisco.

San Francisco: Zionism Now!

Four leaders speak on the present and future of Zionism, with Ariel Beery

Thursday, March 12, 2009
6:00pm – 7:00pm
Jewish Community High School of the Bay
1835 Ellis St.
San Francisco, CA

Facebook Event (click here to RSVP)


Is the Zionist tradition alive and well? What is the future of Zionism in Israel and the Diaspora?
Come hear four prominent panelists speak on living Zionism– in today’s worlds of arts and culture, media, politics and social entrepreneurship.


Zack Bodner is the Pacific Northwest Regional Director for AIPAC, the American Israel Public Affairs Committee, America’s pro-Israel lobby that works to ensure American support for Israel remains strong.

Jonathan Carey is the Executive Director of BlueStarPR, a San Francisco- based non-profit that promotes Israel within communities and campuses challenged by anti-Israel sentiments. Through positive posters, billboards and DVDs designed to build knowledge and understanding, BlueStarPR highlights Israeli successes in the areas of democracy, innovations, freedom of the press, assembly and speech and minority rights.

Ariel Beery is co-director and CEO of the PresenTense Group, which is growing a new generation of halutzim–social entrepreneurs who are developing infrastructure for the Jewish People in the 21st century. As a widely published columnist, Ariel frequently writes about the future of Zionism and the Jewish People.

Alan Kaufman is a San Francisco-based author and artist. His recent books are the widely acclaimed JewBoy: A Memoir, and Matches, a novel about soldiers serving in the West Bank. Alan is a co-founder of Miriam Books with Polly Zavadivker, and his paintings are the subject of its first publication,Visionary Expressionism: A Zionist Art.

Panel will be moderated by Polly Zavadivker, a graduate student in Jewish History at UC Santa Cruz, and Program Officer at The Jewish Community Foundation/Federation in Oakland.

Editor’s Note: Oy Bay is a digital publication of the PresenTense Group.

Posted in Bay-ond the Pale, Communities, Events, Israel, On-Campus, Politics, San Francisco, Young Adults | Leave a Comment »

Action Alert: Israel Solidarity Rally In San Jose TODAY

Posted by challahbackgirl on January 11, 2009

Carpooling, or using public transit is recommened. Please bring Israeli flags. You can download posters to bring from either BlueStarPR or StandWithUs or the ADL.

Posted in Events, Israel, Politics, South Bay | Tagged: | Leave a Comment »

Zionist Activist Found Dead

Posted by Oyster on December 2, 2008

Dan Kliman of the SF Voice for Israel organization was found dead in the bottom of an elevator shaft.

See the JTA article for more details. More information to follow.

Posted in Antisemitism, Communities, Israel, Politics, San Francisco | 1 Comment »

The Yahrzheit of Harvey Milk, z”l

Posted by Oyster on November 26, 2008

harvey_milk_saintI didn’t realize this until today, but the famed gay martyr of San Francisco, Supervisor Harvey Milk, was Jewish. In fact, the SF Jewish Federation is co-sponsoring a pre-screening (follow link for trailer) of the greatly anticipated film “Milk” starring fellow Bay Area dudes Sean Penn & James Franco in the lead role. I’ll definitely be there. Here’s the film description:

JCF events calendar

Milk and More! WE ARE SOLD OUT!

Monday, December 1, 2008, 6:30 p.m. – 10:30 p.m.
Sundance Kabuki Cinemas, 1881 Post Street, at Fillmore, San Francisco (map)
In light of the disappointing passage of Proposition 8, The Jewish Community Federation invites you to a special event which includes a private screening of Milk, followed by a no-host reception.
Admission: Tickets are no longer available.
Sponsored by: Business Leadership Council (BLC), San Francisco Jewish Film Festival, Congregation Sha’ar Zahav, AWJS-AVODAH Partnership, American Jewish World Service, Young Adults Division, LGBT Alliance.
Contact: LGBT Alliance, 415.369.2863, lgbt@sfjcf.org

With the popularity of this film screening with a panel and a reception from 9:30 to 10:30 p.m. we ask you to consider buying tickets for the 7:40 p.m. Milk show time in auditorium one and joining us for the post-film reception on level three after your show.

Tickets for the 7:40 p.m. show on December 1 can be purchased directly in advance and online here. Please call Sundance Kabuki for questions or more information at 415.593.3473.

Here’s some more links from the blogosphere, so we can learn more about this tragedy together:

Posted in Communities, Film, Politics, San Francisco | 4 Comments »

Cartoons Here, Cartoons There

Posted by shanamaidel on August 5, 2008

In the United States, the offensive cartoon of the hour was the cover of the New Yorker Magazine from a few weeks back.  You know the one, where Barak Obama looks like he is out of the Middle East, and his wife, Michelle, dressed like a Black Panther.  it was meant to match an internal article about the political rise of Barak Obama along the Gold Coast and Hyde Park. (Which is why most people found the cover outrageous rather than slyly funny.  Then again, I get to count myself among the few to have spent a good deal of time in Hyde Park, so I saw Louis Farrakhan– and Bill Ayer-type references, both of whom live/work locally to me, across the cover and found it hilarious.).

In France, a similar controversy over a cartoon is brewing loudly.  The cartoonist, known as Siné, is a self-professed anti-Semite and Communist.  His target is the newly engaged Jean Sarkozy (yes you are reading that last name right).  He’s engaged to a lovely Jewish girl, Jessica Sebaoun-Darty, an heiress to one of the largest fortunes in France, the Darty Electronics Chain.

If I were a hopping mad cartoonist anti-semite, of course I would butt into a lovely private moment!  Which is exactly what happened.  Sine published a very anti-semitic cartoon, which claimed that Jean was converting and marrying her primarily for political reasons.  (It seems that he is seen as a sort of political heir apparent in France).

Being France where there are a large amount of literary establishments, and a much larger leftist establishment, no one noticed for about a week.  Suddenly it came to pass that a radio-station picked up on the anti-Semitic the cartoon was.  It has since been pulled from the paper it was published in and scrubbed from the Internet , which is why we are unable to attach it to this post.

This is the way the story stands now.  The New York Times is covering it with a lovely editorial about freedom of the press issues, and freedom of religion issues, while the UK Guardian has a lovely summary of what has happened until now.

However I have a serious question for the French Jewish community.  Not that I advocate violence (in fact I prefer the Gandhi and MLK way of making a point), but I am starting to wonder.  Right now, because of essentially hooliganism, you cannot wear a kippah in the streets of Paris.  And now this.

What would happen to all of us if ignored all but the worst of Antisemitism.  If we made a point, as a society, to make it outcast behavior, something that only the lowest tiers of people do?  Right now, it seem as if Parisians are behaving as if it is something in the background that is always there.  But there is something to be said for a large social science experiment where these sorts of things become unacceptable. We made it something to stare at, because someone who would perpetrate such behavior would become beyond the pale odd.  The Siné situation proves that these situations, in our hearts of hearts, we still fear and expect these forms of virulent antisemitism.  If we made them odd, strange, would they disappear?

Would we scrub out a little more hatred with our stares, or am I a little naive?

(And a Mazel Tov to the Couple.  May You Build a Bayis Ne’eman B’ France. and B’Yisrael)

Ps Definitely the best post on the websephere is by the fellow UChicago-er (shoutout) Phoebe Maltz. I’m kvelling.

Posted in Antisemitism, Bay-ond the Pale, Politics | 5 Comments »

The End of Olmert

Posted by shanamaidel on July 31, 2008

Ehud Olmert, Sao Paulo, 2005, Courtsey of WikiCommons

Ehud Olmert, Sao Paulo, 2005, Courtesy of WikiCommons

This feels like such dragged out old news.  Why did this not happen say a year ago?  More?

Basically, just like we all knew, he’s corrupt, and therefore won’t run.  Actually turn that into a can’t run.

Much like any major politician who gets too drunk on power, Olmert is slowly getting caught in a trap of his own making.  The police are slowly closing in on what are essentially corruption charges.

Why would anyone run under these circumstances?  Just to prevent another slightly more popular party (in an already too fractious party system) from taking power?  His popularity has been shrinking daily, so that seems like  quaint idea too.

Watching the Israeli government play politics, especially at moments like this, makes me feel like I am watching a badly run Tammany Hall.

At least with the resignation, could we at least move into a well run Tammany Hall before we get into the post-corruption period?

Posted in Israel, Jewspapers, Politics | 1 Comment »

We Don’t Need No Education

Posted by shanamaidel on July 27, 2008

The state of California has announced that they have been botching their numbers for the dropout rate from high school. The numbers are much higher than previous years. The travesty is level high: One quarter will not matriculate.

All of this may seem somewhat pointless on a Jewish blog, except for two points:

1) As a community, even if we choose not to send our children to public school, we are still responsible for our fellow human. To know that a quarter of last year’s potential graduating class is missing is disturbing, especially considering that taxes are levied to make sure that everyone who lives in the state is educated. To abdicate our responsibility to 25% of the state’s high school students is a shandah fur de goyim.

2) I’m not a betting woman, but if I were, I would assume that among those counted as dropped out, although not labeled in the report as such, are the now illegal homeschoolers. This matters in the Bay Area, where Jewish education options, especially intensive Jewish education, are severely limited, especially compared to areas like New York, Boston, Chicago, and Los Angeles. Homeschooling was an out of this precarious situation in the Bay area, but since it was declared illegal, parents in the bay area, particuarly with teenagers, are now left stranded if they want to provide their children with a quality Jewish and secular education (as they define it).

If you cannot educate in the public schools, would you let your kids “drop out,” so you could homeschool them? When I see these numbers, I wonder what my options will be for a rigorous, pluralistic, halachic (in the orthodox sense because I am), comprehensive Jewish education, and a comprehensive, broad, and rigorous secular education. As a comprehensive secular education means exposure to “the world out there,” which often is seen in a public school. Meanwhile, a comprehensive Jewish education is often one in an enclosed world, where a person is encased in tactile Jewish experiences and Jewish texts.

I feel for parents of sixteen year olds when I see these numbers. Education is something all encompassing, from a day a child is born, done out of love, to share where we all come from. Choosing a school, an educational path reflects past values.

And it seems the state of California is going to make a tough call for Jewish children in the Bay.

Posted in Judaism, Learning, On-Campus, Politics | 6 Comments »

Copy-Cat Bulldozer Attack in Jerusalem

Posted by shanamaidel on July 22, 2008

The Bulldozer used in the Attack- Courtsey of the NYTimes

The Bulldozer Used in the Attack- Courtesy of the NYTimes

A new form of terrorist. The truck-driver of construction vehicles. Do you really want a Caterpillar driving into your car on purpose?

I have to say, personally, this is actually very terrifying, and very sneaky. The truck-driver is permitted to be there, working, on whatever construction is supposed to be happening. Jews tend to be more educated than Palestinians/Arabs in Israel, and therefore aren’t as likely to be driving the equipment. Palestinians/Arabs with work permits, Palestinian/Arab-Israelis, and Asians make up the vast majority of manual laborers in Israel. How would you feel if the guy whose been working for you for a number of years suddenly drove a truck into oncoming traffic? (Though I can’t say the guy who drove into oncoming traffic worked for the firm for a number of years).



The Muqata– The Truckdriver was shot by a settler from Susya, who is also a grandfather and a schoolteacher, by the name of Yakki (Ya’akov) Asa’el. Hattip for the Youtube video of the shooting.

Ha’Aretz-More info- apparently there are two other supsects. Also some emergency numbers for all those with relatives or close family friends. (though this was apparently very small because Mr. Asa’el acted quickly.)

Posted in Israel, Jerusalem, Politics | 1 Comment »