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American Jews

  • American Jewish anti-occupation advocacy needs to go global

    The Jewish community’s traditional unconditional support for Israel's occupation is rapidly changing. Now is the time to present an alternative to those who justify a violent military regime. By Frima (Merphie) Bubis Two months after the U.S. Embassy officially moved to Jerusalem, the President of the Czech Republic, Miloš Zeman, hosted AIPAC, America’s largest pro-Israel lobby at an official event in the national palace. There, he called on his government to follow in the footsteps of President Trump and move the its embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem. AIPAC's presence at the event was no coincidence: the “pro-Israel” lobby, primarily known…

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  • 'For many young American Jews, the Trump-Bibi axis is the enemy'

    There have always been undercurrents of dissent within American Jewry when it comes to Israel. After all, it was progressive Jewish Americans, radicalized by the New Left of the 1960s, who became the avant-garde of the American Jewish Left, demanding that the Israeli government enter into talks with the PLO decades before it became Israeli policy. It was radical American Jews who, just a decade after protesting the Vietnam War, began demonstrating outside Israeli embassies and consulates during the First Lebanon War. Decades later, we tend to hear a great deal about the changing relationship between American Jews and Israel, whether…

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  • 'You never told me': Confronting American Jewish myths about Israel

    A group of young American Jews are challenging the the institutionalized myths they were taught about the Jewish state in classrooms, youth group trips, and summer camps.  By Emma Goldberg U.S. anti-occupation movement IfNotNow released its “Liberation Syllabus” last week. Crowd-sourced from teachers, students, journalists, and rabbis, the syllabus offers a collection of resources — from picture books to nonfiction, cookbooks to podcasts — that Jewish institutions can integrate into their curricula to offer more balanced and just lessons about the occupation. [tmwinpost] The syllabus is part of IfNotNow’s “You Never Told Me” campaign, in which alumni of Jewish summer camps,…

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  • Dozens of American Jews arrested protesting Gaza violence

    From Boston to San Francisco, young activists from IfNotNow demonstrate outside the offices of prominent Jewish institutions and senators, demanding they condemn Israel's violence against Gaza protesters. Thirty-seven American Jews were arrested across the United States last week in a series of actions outside the offices of major Jewish institutions and elected officials to protest the ongoing violence against Palestinians at the Israel-Gaza border. [tmwinpost] The actions, organized by the Jewish-American group IfNotNow, took place in Boston, New York, Twin Cities, Los Angeles, and San Francisco, and Washington DC, where young Jews demanded statements condemning Israeli violence against the unarmed protesters taking part in the "Great…

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  • For Gaza youth, IDF testimonies feel more like confessions

    Palestinian youth respond to a play based on testimonies by Israeli soldiers, which portrays the brutality of the occupation from the point of view of the occupiers. By Pam Bailey The video above is a production called "It's What We Do: A Play About the Occupation.” Although it is a drama, the soldiers' reflections in the play are taken verbatim from actual testimonies of soldiers from Breaking the Silence, whose vivid memories continue to haunt them. [tmwinpost] The play’s target audience was Jewish Americans, but several Palestinians from Gaza, ‘We Are Not Numbers’ writers who have themselves been the "targets" of…

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  • How to deal with modern anti-Semitism? The Jewish Left is leading the way

    For too long, the Right has claimed a monopoly on fighting antisemitism, especially when it relates to Israel. It's been a fraught year for the American Jewish Left. Anti-Semitism continues to be stoked by the president and his inner and outer circles; the institutional Jewish community is openly courting anti-Semites; and verbal and legislative assaults from the Israeli and American right on 'traitorous' Jewish anti-occupation and BDS advocates continue to rack up. Meanwhile, Congress recently hosted a debate about anti-Semitism on U.S. college campuses, largely geared toward making criticism of Israel a part of Title VI's definition of anti-Semitism. [tmwinpost] Moreover, a number…

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  • American Jews have the power to oppose Israel's gov't. Will they use it?

    Jewish American leaders are slowly beginning to understand just how vast the gap is between their values and those represented by the Israeli government. Princeton University Hillel sparked controversy earlier this week after announcing it would indefinitely postpone a scheduled speech by Israeli Deputy Foreign Minister Tzipi Hotovely. The decision came after protests by students from the Alliance of Jewish Progressives and other groups, who claimed that Hillel had scheduled Hotovely’s speech without bringing it before the Israel Advisory Committee, an internal committee that vets Israel-related events and enforces Hillel’s “Israel Policy.” [tmwinpost] As the students highlighted in their letter to…

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  • Jewish students feel unsafe on campus? A new study says otherwise

    A new study published by Stanford University reveals that Jewish students feel safer on university campuses when they refuse to conflate their Jewish identities with unequivocal support for the State of Israel. By Oren Kroll-Zeldin In recent years numerous studies have created the impression that university campuses across the United States are a hotbed of anti-Semitism and anti-Israel sentiment. These studies describe Jewish student experiences on campus, painting an alarming portrait of a politically unsafe climate for Jewish students who are ill equipped to deal with these challenges. [tmwinpost] A new study published by Stanford University Graduate School of Education contests these…

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  • The 'Jewish tent' just became even smaller

    The defunding of an Israel program with a progressive, human rights framework is an affront to all progressive Jews around the world. By Rebecca Arian Last week, the Jewish Agency announced it would be cutting funding to Achvat Amim (“Solidarity of Nations”), a program offering participants the opportunity to live in Israel and volunteer with organizations dedicated to fostering human rights and coexistence. The Jewish Agency’s decision resulted from participants’ protest activity in Palestinian areas in the West Bank earlier this year. This move is just one of countless examples of mainstream Jewish institutions setting the parameters of the Jewish tent,…

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  • In Trump's America, the rabbinic voice is needed more than ever

    President Trump’s comments regarding the Charlottesville violence revealed the yawning moral vacuum in the White House. Now is the time for rabbis to work tirelessly to bring peace, unity, and justice to all people in the United States. By Itamar Haritan Salem Pearce, a rabbinical student and senior organizer with T’ruah: The Rabbinic Call for Human Rights, remembers where she was when she first heard President Trump defend white supremacists. She was still in Charlottesville, recovering at a local café after supporting counter protesters alongside clergy of all faiths. Earlier she had watched people being carried away on stretchers after a…

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  • 40 days and 40 nights: Building a new reality in Sumud Freedom Camp

    For 40 days and 40 nights, Palestinians, diaspora Jews, and Israeli activists learned to speak a new language of nonviolence, empathy, and steadfastness as we put our bodies on the line to protect Sumud Freedom Camp. By Sophie Schor Plato is famous for his allegory of a cave. In it, he employs a metaphor that if you were born in a cave and lived in a cave your entire life, captive and unable to turn your head, only seeing shadows cast on the stone wall, you would know no other reality than that. But if you were to leave the cave and walk…

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  • U.S. Jews can’t expect Israel to be liberal only where they want it to

    Liberal American Jewry is up in arms after the Israeli government nixed a deal to allow men and women to pray together at Judaism's holiest site. But if American Jews want their interests in Israel safeguarded, they must rid themselves of the fantasy of a nonexistent Jewish pluralism. The Netanyahu government created an uproar across the Jewish world on Sunday by rolling back an agreement to create an egalitarian prayer space at the Western Wall where men and women could pray together. The compromise would also have brought representatives of the Reform and Conservative movements into a committee meant to manage that space. [tmwinpost] That arrangement…

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  • The Israeli Left can learn a thing or two from American Jews

    Where was the Israeli Left when the army tore down a joint Palestinian-Jewish protest camp, or when the police broke the arm of a Jewish American activist in Jerusalem? By Amitai Ben-Abba Freedom Camp in Sarura, South Hebron Hills. On May 29, large army and Border Police forces raided the little that was left in Sarura after the previous raid the week before. They confiscated mattresses, a generator cable, a car belonging to Fadel Aamer (one of the landowners), two tents, food, and water bottles. They also detained three Palestinian activists, one of them Aamer's son, confiscated their phones and destroyed their…

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