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  • Seeing the 'other' on Yom Kippur, in Jerusalem

    On Yom Kippur in 1967, the Year of Forgetting, I put on my dark holiday clothes and walked to the Old City of Jerusalem. For a long time I stood in front of an Arab’s hole-in-the-wall shop, not far from the Damascus Gate, a shop with buttons and zippers and spools of thread in every color and snaps and buckles. A rare light and many colors, like an open Ark. I told him in my heart that my father too had a shop like this, with thread and buttons. I explained to him in my heart about all the decades…

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  • Being a Mizrahi woman in the Left

    My leftism is beyond the establishment, and it stems first and foremost from my experiences as an outsider. By Netta Amar-Shiff I grew up in a house that was mostly involved in maintaining family unity and keeping the mitzvot, all within the geographical radius of my home, my synagogue, and my school. Although I never knew who or what Arabs were, I knew a little bit of Arabic, since I lived with my grandmother, may her memory be a blessing, for several years. When I was young knowledge of the language did not serve as a bridge for anyone in…

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  • Is religion an obstacle to Israeli-Palestinian peace?

    Pew publishes surprising new data on religion in Israel, Palestine and the region. We often hear that Israelis and Palestinians are more religious than other national groups, or at the very least are becoming more religious. This, they claim, makes any solution to the conflict more difficult to reach. A new Pew Research Center report reveals some rather surprising results vis-a-vis religion in Israel and Palestine. Thirty-four percent of Israelis said that religion is "very important" in their lives, placing them at the top of the bottom one-third of countries listed, and — unsurprisingly — the lowest in the Middle…

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  • Beyond Netanyahu: On the collapse of the so-called Left

    Many in the Israeli Left saw the recent election defeat as a danger to democracy. But if the Left wants to win elections, it needs to let go of its anti-Mizrahi fear-mongering and racism. by Elad Ben Elul (translated by Joshua Tartakovsky) In order to understand the outcome of the recent elections in Israel, one has to step away from the two central conceptual frameworks that make up the discourse of most Israelis, but in fact do not capture the complex reality below the surface. One has to step away from the traditional boxes of “Right” versus “Left” and of…

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  • Does Israel have a place in Jewish identity?

    The proposed 'Nation-State Law' and a wave of violence point to the urgency of questioning Israel's place in Jewish identity. Shlomo Sand's latest book, 'How I Stopped Being a Jew,' offers a starting point for such a discussion. When I left Palestine this summer, I was relieved to leave the Israeli flag behind. No more blue and white snapping at everyone who passes military checkpoints. No more Star of David standing high over the army bases. Saying goodbye to the Israeli flag, or so I thought, would also mean an end to my ambivalence about it. Upon seeing the flag,…

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  • Have you murdered and also taken possession?

    First the moderate Judaism of Mizrahi Jews was trampled and some of them were pushed into an extreme orthodox practice that originated in Europe. Then the Mizrahi Jews were blamed for Ashkenazi-originated orthodoxy, and now MK Ruth Calderon reinvents moderate Judaism as if none of this has ever happened. By Avraham H. Muthada (Translated from Hebrew By Iris Barner) Ruth Caldreron’s maiden speech in the Knesset (Hebrew) left a mark in our memories and amazed the Israeli public. Ever since, the secular Midrashas (seminaries for women) she represents are sprouting up everywhere and are presenting a refreshing, new Jewish discourse.…

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  • Religion and politics during Ramadan in Jerusalem

    Why travel from Nablus to Ramallah only to get stuck at the Qalandia checkpoint for a couple of hours, pass through, take another bus to Jerusalem and then do all of it again in one day? What's the tradeoff for this humiliation? By R. Khazen Where are all the masses coming from? I asked myself as my eyes tried to cope with the great number of people heading east. Thousands of men, mostly bearded and wearing galabiyas (a traditional Arab garment) conquered the streets, some with pants underneath and some without, some leading one woman behind them and some with…

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  • WATCH: Are Israelis free to choose whom to marry?

    In contemporary Israeli society, civil marriage, gay marriage, mixed couples and same-sex parenting appear to exist out in the open. But we live under the illusion that we have the freedom to choose whom and how to marry. In reality, we can't marry someone from a different religion - even the type of wedding is dictated to us. These decrees harm freedom of religion and they don't only affect Jews. In Arab society, the situation is even more challenging. A discussion about the topic took place in Haifa recently.

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  • Why I Refuse: On God/love, nonviolence and the occupation

    'The Occupation is anti-God, anti-Love and staggeringly, constantly violent.' Why I refuse to serve in the IDF. My name is Moriel Zachariah Rothman. I am 23 years old and live in Jerusalem. I lived for most of my life in the United States, but I was born in Jerusalem (and am Jewish) and have thus been an Israeli citizen since birth. As such, I am, like [most] other Israeli Jews, expected to serve in the IDF. I moved back to Jerusalem last year, and I recently received a draft notice from the IDF. After much thinking, wrestling and searching, and…

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  • WATCH: Muslim, Jewish, Christian teens talk religion in film

    A few weeks ago, I volunteered at Together Through Film, a weekend outdoor activity camp with 18 teenagers from the Washington, D.C. metropolitan area.  The group was made up of a mix of Muslim, Jewish and Christian youth, some religious and others secular. What brought this group together was their passion to learn about each other's religions, traditions and beliefs, in addition to their interest in filmmaking. The camp was organized by Danya Hakeem of National Geographic and her fantastic team of volunteers, who are also filmmakers from National Geographic, where I am  an "Emerging Explorer" - and the Center for…

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  • State's attempt to challenge radical rabbis so meek it will backfire

    The state's meek attempt to detain two prominent rabbis who've been evading police summons for weeks only underscores how helpless the state has become before the decentralised rabbinical church. This morning, police briefly detained prominent rabbi Yaakov Yossef on suspicion of incitement by virtue of giving his blessing to the notorious King's Torah tractate, which deals with the permissibility of killing unarmed Gentiels, including children, during conflict . Yossef is the son of Shas spiritual leader and one of the pre-eminent Halachic thinkers of the 20th century, Ovadia Yossef; he is also a former Shas MK and a Jerusalem municipal…

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  • IDF replaces "People of Israel" with "God" in memorial prayer

    The shift in terminology in the prayer reflects more than just a victory in the tug-of-war between secular and religious factions within the IDF, but rather deeper changes underway in society as a whole. Haaretz reports this morning that Chief of Staff Benny Gantz has issued an order altering the phrasing of the official military memorial prayer. If for decades, the prayer began: "Let the people of Israel remember its sons and daughters," then from now on it will open with "Let God remember His songs and daughters." This brings to an end a tug-of-war over the prayer that has…

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