Gerald L.K. Smith, left, and Bernard A. Doman on April 16, 1942

’40s protester sees Trump-era parallels


In November 1943, June Sale, a UCLA student, was part of a demonstration at Los Angeles Polytechnic High School against Gerald L.K. Smith, the most prominent anti-Semite of the time.

Listening to the speeches inside the auditorium, she recalled recently, “I became nauseated and teary. I decided to leave.  As I got to the foyer of the auditorium, a police officer arrested me, told me I was disturbing the meeting and walked me to the police paddy wagon.”

I learned of her long-ago bust in one of the emails she sends to friends, often writing of her anger over where President Donald Trump is taking the country. I was intrigued by the story of her arrest, and by the picture she included of herself talking to her lawyer before going on trial, which appeared in the now-defunct Los Angeles Daily News (the one that folded in 1954, not the current Woodland Hills-based newspaper). I wanted to know more. So my wife, Nancy, and I talked with her early in April over lunch at her home above Sunset Boulevard. We have been friends since we met June and her late husband, Sam, on Barbara Isenberg’s London theater tour several years ago.

As she told the story of her life, I saw that it reflected an almost forgotten era of Jewish Los Angeles, when anti-Semitism was rampant and a beleaguered Jewish community pondered how to fight it. “It was just something that happened to me over and over again,” she recalled of the anti-Semitism of her high school days in Pasadena.

June was born at White Memorial Hospital in Boyle Heights in 1924. Boyle Heights was then home to immigrants of many ethnicities and a hotbed of Jewish progressive politics.  Her parents, Ben and Bertha Solnit, were immigrants from a town on the Russian-Polish border. Ben learned the shoe business from the bottom up and grew prosperous. When their son was ill with bronchitis, his pediatrician advised them to move to a hotter, drier place. They chose Sierra Madre, near Pasadena, a center for right-wing politics and one of several communities riddled with anti Semitism.

Although Jews were among the founders of Los Angeles in the 19th century, Midwesterners who made the growing city a white Protestant conservative place soon outnumbered them. Restrictive covenants kept Jews — and African-Americans, Asians and Latinos — from some neighborhoods. Clubs would not admit Jews nor would fancy downtown law firms hire them.

In high school, June said, “all my friends who were not Jewish joined sororities and they were told not to talk to me.”   When she was elected president of a student YWCA group in junior high school, a vice principal said she could not accept the job because the group recited Christian prayers and Jews could not join them.

The Solnits wouldn’t take it. “I’m a better citizen then you’ll ever be,” Bertha Solnit told another school vice principal when he refused to permit June to use transfer credits to graduate and lectured Bertha on what he considered the citizenship obligations of immigrants. 

Their determination to fight anti-Semitism, as well as their liberal political views, put the Solnits firmly in the ranks of pro-labor, progressive Jews — usually immigrants or children of immigrants. They were at odds with more politically conservative Jews who wanted to get along with the city’s Republican powers and didn’t approve of the liberal activists’ confrontational tactics with anti-Semites.

June accompanied her father to meetings of the Joint Anti-Fascist Refugee Committee, which was helping anti-Franco forces in the Spanish Civil War and campaigning to rescue Jews and other victims of Hitler. President Harry S. Truman’s Justice Department later blacklisted the committee, an action overturned by the Supreme Court.

“The grown-ups were passionate, worried and concerned,” June wrote of the meetings. “The discussions were often difficult for me to comprehend, but I do remember the point of the gatherings was to find ways to bring refugees from Spain and Europe to safety. [President Franklin] Roosevelt had turned away Jews trying to escape the Holocaust and refugees from Spain were not welcome here.”

Liberal outrage was intense when Gerald L.K. Smith spoke at Poly High in 1943. Sam and June had married and he was overseas with the Army Air Corps. June, still at UCLA, had been on a union picket line during a strike against the studios. Impressed with her demeanor, one of the strike captains, a man named Irving, asked her to join a labor-sponsored demonstration against Smith.

After her arrest, she said, “I was greeted in the paddy wagon by other ‘disturbers’ and we were whisked off to jail. The women were placed in cells with prostitutes who had been arrested. Irving had observed my arrest and soon came to my rescue. He was able to pay my bail and I was released early in the morning. Believing I would be the first person out of the dungeon, I took everyone’s phone number on a piece of toilet paper (the guard loaned us a pencil) so I could call a contact and tell what had happened.”

All of the charges were dismissed. “The police were required to identify us and they couldn’t,” she wrote in an email. “Strangely enough, we all looked quite different from the time we were arrested.”

She concluded her email about her arrest by saying, “You may ask why I bring this moment in my history up at this time. Well, I think we are headed for rough and difficult times as we face the Trump years. America First was a theme of the thirties, anti-Semitism is on the rise, the rich are getting richer, the middle class is disappearing and the poor are getting poorer. We must organize against this growing threat of ‘America First.’ ”

June graduated from UCLA. She and Sam raised a family and generously supported progressive causes, no matter how unpopular. She became a preschool teacher, started Los Angeles’ first Head Start program and was in charge of child care services at UCLA for 10 years. Then for 18 years, she was a court-appointed special advocate, going from court to court, home to home, looking after the welfare of some of the 35,000 children in the Los Angeles County foster care program.

“When you get old, gray and sleepless, you may find, as I do, that your memories of days gone by keep you company,” she wrote.

Her memories keep us company, too. The issues have changed. The immigrants are no longer Jewish refugees, but Latinos and those fleeing war-torn Muslim-majority nations. Episodes of anti-Semitism are increasing. But the challenges remain the same as they were when June Sale joined the picket line at Poly High.


BILL BOYARSKY is a columnist for the Jewish Journal, Truthdig and L.A. Observed, and the author of “Inventing L.A.: The Chandlers and Their Times” (Angel City Press).

Oak Loeb, a protester with IfNotNow, is arrested at the Century City office of the American Israel Public Affairs Committee on March 17.

WATCH: Seven Jewish protesters arrested at AIPAC L.A. office


Seven Jewish protesters were arrested March 17 in the lobby of the Century City office tower that houses the Los Angeles office of the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC).

The protesters, who were affiliated with IfNotNow, a progressive network of millennial Jews opposed to Israeli policy, were chanting and stomping their feet when they were arrested on suspicion of trespassing, according to Capt. Tina Nieto, area commanding officer for West L.A. for the Los Angeles Police Department (LAPD).

“We are here to say that we’ll occupy this building until AIPAC is ready to stop supporting the endless occupation in Israel-Palestine,” said Michal David, 26, an organizer for IfNotNow, while a small group of protesters marched in a circle and chanted on the sidewalk behind her.

According to David, the protesters arrived at 9 a.m. at the building and blocked off entrances for about 40 minutes, encouraging AIPAC employees to go home, “for a day of reflection.” By 10 a.m., those who were not prepared to be arrested had moved to the sidewalk.

“Shabbat shalom! AIPAC go home!” the seven protesters chanted inside, seated against a marble wall facing the entrance.

Outside, the protesters, who numbered fewer than 10, responded with chants and statements of their own, denouncing AIPAC’s role in “propping up military occupation” and “cozying up to David Friedman,” President Donald Trump’s controversial pick for ambassador to Israel.

David said they had not contacted AIPAC before the protest. “There’s no more room for conversations behind closed doors,” she said.

More than a dozen uniformed LAPD officers and six police cruisers were on hand for the arrests. Nieto said the building’s management called in a private person’s arrest, also known as a citizen’s arrest.

The activists inside the lobby continued chanting until police led them away in handcuffs around 11 a.m., while the protesters outside continued to sing and look on. From there, they were taken to LAPD’s West L.A. Community Police Station, where anybody without an outstanding warrant would be cited and released, Nieto said.

The protesters ranged in age from 20 to 31 and hailed from L.A. and the Bay Area, according to IfNotNow.

On Sunday, IfNotNow is planning another, larger protest at AIPAC’s Century City office, to coincide with the L.A. Marathon, whose route passes AIPAC’s office.

AIPAC declined to comment for this story.

Why I’m protesting the protests of March 8


Apparently, the election of Donald Trump has awakened a major feminist protest movement in America, first with the massive marches of Jan. 21 and now with “a day of strike” planned for March 8.

In a type of manifesto published on The Guardian titled, “Women of America: we’re going on strike. Join us so Trump will see our power,” eight protest leaders assert that “it is not enough to oppose Trump and his aggressively misogynistic, homophobic, transphobic and racist policies.” Women’s conditions in America, they write, “have steadily deteriorated over the last 30 years,” because “lean in feminism and other variants of corporate feminism have failed the overwhelming majority of us.”

What I found especially striking in the manifesto is the sense of global solidarity: “The kind of feminism we seek is already emerging internationally, in struggles around the globe… Together they herald a new international feminist movement with an expanded agenda.”

So, why do I feel like protesting this day of protest? Because of its hypocrisy.

While the March 8 organizers claim to care for women around the world, there is no mention in the manifesto of arguably the most severe crisis facing women today: The continuing oppression of Muslim women throughout Muslim-majority countries.

It’s not as if the organizers are not aware of this oppression. Groups like Amnesty International (AI) have been covering it for years. In a previous column calling attention to this suffering, I wrote about Kajal Khdir in Iraq, who, according to AI, was “tortured and mutilated; family members cut off part of her nose and told her she would be killed after the birth of her child.” Her crime? She was accused of adultery by her husband’s family.

I also brought up Hannah Koroma from Sierra Leone, who was “genitally mutilated at the age of ten as a rite of passage.” According to AI, “the ritual was performed with a blunt penknife and Hanna was denied any anesthetic or antibiotics during and after the procedure.”

These are hardly isolated incidents—they are rooted in cultures that routinely tolerate the suppression of women. According to a 2013 Pew report on Muslim-majority countries, “In 20 of the 23 countries where the question was asked, at least half of Muslims believe a wife must obey her spouse.”

In the same study, the majority of Muslims in countries like Pakistan, Indonesia, Malaysia, Egypt, Jordan and Iraq believe that a woman should not have the right to divorce her husband.

None of this “aggressive misogyny” made it into the manifesto for March 8. Why? I’ve heard several explanations. One, going after Muslim countries is a form of asserting “white privilege” or “white supremacy,” a major no-no in leftist circles. Two, any criticism of Islamic societies can open you up to charges of racism or Islamophobia. And three, since much of the criticism for Islamic oppression comes from people on the right, leftist organizers are loath to do anything that might help them.

These are the women I worry about the most—the ones who don’t have the freedom to march or protest.

To be honest, I’m not very moved by explanations. What really moves me is suffering—real, horrible suffering. It so happens that a lot of this suffering is happening to women in male-dominated, Muslim-majority countries. That’s not my choice, it’s a fact.

Of course, if you’re planning a popular protest movement, it’s hardly risky or courageous to target someone like President Trump in America. It would take a lot more courage to march at the United Nations and protest the theocratic dictators who sanction the routine abuse of women.

My liberal friends love to say that “it’s not either/or.” Well, why do I never see them protest at the United Nations in support of oppressed women in Muslim-majority countries?

And why are they not protesting the fact that one of the March 8 organizers, Rasmea Yousef Odeh, is a convicted terrorist?

Odeh was convicted in Israel in 1970 for her part in two terrorist bombings, one of which killed two students while they were shopping for groceries. After spending 10 years in an Israeli prison for her crime, she became a U.S. citizen in 2004 by lying about her past. Her case will go on trial this Spring.

Maybe she’s hoping that her work organizing the protests will gain her leniency with the judge.

She ought to know that millions of suffering women around the world can never count on such leniency. These are the women I worry about the most—the ones who don’t have the freedom to march or protest.

Who’s writing manifestos for these women?


David Suissa is president of TRIBE Media Corp./Jewish Journal and can be reached at davids@jewishjournal.com.

A protest in Minneapolis on Jan. 31. Photo by Adam Bettcher/Reuters

The protest diet


The day after Donald Trump’s inauguration, I sat in a salon chair in Santa Monica watching the largest mass mobilization in American history stream on my iPhone.

I had mistakenly scheduled a hair appointment the morning of the Women’s March, which couldn’t be canceled without penalty, but I confess I was a little relieved to have an excuse not to go. One day in and already I was sick and tired of feeling outraged. The thought of “four more years” made me want to decamp to an island in the Far East or take a cryogenic nap. Just wake me up when it’s over.

The indignation I felt wasn’t a spontaneous feeling ignited by the advent of the Trump administration 24 hours earlier, but the result of a daily throbbing anger in my blood that had been rushing like rapids throughout the 2016 presidential campaign. Call me shallow, obtuse or complacent, but all I wanted was to have my hair cut in peace.

Yet as I sat in the chair listening to the speakers from the Women’s March on Washington and turned to my Twitter feed to find an equally powerful protest fomenting in Los Angeles, I decided I couldn’t in good conscience miss out on joining the resistance — something important and powerful was happening. Who would I be if I stayed home? If the leader of your country violates your principles, how could you not take to the streets?

A week later, we were at it again, this time in protest of Trump’s executive order banning all immigration from seven Muslim-majority  countries for 90 days. Syrian immigration had been postponed indefinitely. And even those with green cards were given the shaft. Since constitutionality is always up for debate — which is why we have a judicial system — it’s worth noting that the latter was perhaps the most unconstitutional of the orders, and so the White House later let one wall fall round its Emerald City.

But this significant correction does not mean the protest prevailed. It means there were still other offenses to protest.

I hesitated less the second time around, mostly because I believe in my core that we must live out our values with our feet. It’s easy to talk and write about what we think, feel and believe. It’s harder to get up and do something about it. That goes for whichever side of the aisle you’re on — and it’s why Trump won the election. He mobilized key voters in the states that mattered most while disillusioned Democrats defected or abstained.

But Trump supporters had to show up only once. And now, the rest of us, angry and disillusioned as ever, have to show up again and again and again. Maybe every week — for four years.

“Protest is the new brunch,” read the most clever sign from last Sunday’s immigration ban protest.

But if I was tired on Day One — from the divisiveness and the disagreement, the distractions and the injustices — how the heck am I going to keep up the energy for an entire term? This is no longer about politics; it’s about stamina.

“It’s like the ’60s all over again,” my 70-year-old Hollywood agent friend told me last week. “Every day, there’s some new outrage.”

The brunch metaphor is apt because it suggests that in our current political climate, protests will become normative: They will provide routine and they will build social capital. They will serve as political resistance, but they also will be fun. They build community. They provide purpose. And when you’re fighting injustice, they alleviate feelings of helplessness.

But also: They feel good. New York Times columnist David Brooks likened them to “mass therapy.”

But is that enough to effect real change?

“Protests are like one food group of a balanced diet,” my friend Joseph Sanberg, an entrepreneur and investor, told me. “They are an important component of expressing democracy, but there are other important components, too, like living our lives, having meaningful relationships, helping those in need through direct delivery of services. We have to balance between engaging the urgent and important, and the long term. If we all obsess over the sensational, who’s obsessing over creating economic security for American families or writing the next great American novel?”

To achieve its aims, the protest movement has to decide what its aims actually are. It needs to be less reactive and more proactive; just because you get together doesn’t mean you’re organized. So far, Trump is the only one setting the agenda. And he’s keeping protesters so busy with each new outrage, they barely have time to focus on a single issue, let alone recharge for the next fight.

What human being could sustain that kind of active outrage each day for 1,448 more days?

“One time-tested tactic used to distract people throughout history is you exhaust their bandwidth for rage,” Sanberg said. “By distracting us with every daily outrage, we become distracted from the core battles we have to fight. They become marginal.”

If protest is the new brunch, then better make sure you eat first.


Danielle Berrin is a senior writer and columnist at the Jewish Journal.

The irony of hate


Typically, I try to keep politics off of the pulpit. I believe the job of clergy is to help people deepen their relationship with God, and I recommend only that everyone act ethically and become active and involved in their political passions. But the circumstances of the last week have created a situation that I believe must be addressed from a Jewish perspective.

I understand emotions have run high throughout this election cycle, as they do every four years. In 2000, I remember so many politically liberal friends angry and sad about the presidential election, and committing themselves to working in the next cycle harder for their candidate and beliefs. In 2008 and 2012, I heard many conservative friends bemoan the election and re-election of Barack Obama, and express their fears of what they felt he would do to the country. But in all of these cases, there was always a respect for their political opponents and an acceptance that after the election was over, we would come together as Americans.

Our tradition is filled with rabbis and Sages having passionate debates over a multiplicity of topics. These dialogues are so intense that they are even referred to as a “War between Sages” (Bavli Bava Metzia 59b). It is a Jewish tradition to passionately argue our beliefs, and again in the tractate Bava Metzia (84a) we learn through the story of Rabbi Yochanan and Resh Lakish that it is through this passionate discourse that a “fuller comprehension” can be achieved. This is the basis of the process of argumentation in the Great Assembly wherein the court made a ruling based on the sages’ arguments.

But in Judaism, this is traditionally done with respect for one another. We don’t degrade our opponents personally. After the decision is reached, we do not continue debating, and our history is clear to respect the outcome of the debate.

I am beyond saddened that these simple demonstrations of respect seem to have left our political world on a national level, and instead so many people have resorted to hate and violence. There have been riots in cities throughout the country, including the destruction of shops and businesses, and even shootings as people have decided that it is OK to act with hatred in their hearts. All of the accusations made by these demonstrators that president-elect Donald Trump is oppressive, bigoted and dangerous have become manifest in their own inappropriate actions of violent demonstrations. They are the ones acting out of hatred toward their fellow Americans just because they disagree with them politically. These rioters are demonstrating not only a complete lack of respect for the political process and for America, but in their actions they are showing a self-involved narcissism that discounts the fact that half of the nation feels differently than they do. 

These demonstrators have become the hate that they so vehemently allege to oppose.

I applaud everyone who passionately stands for their beliefs and tries to legally make changes in policies. But it is ethically wrong on every level to violently demonstrate just because you didn’t get your way. It is against the moral fabric of this nation’s history to unilaterally decide to ignore the results of an election just because it didn’t go the way you wanted. Liberals didn’t act like this in 2000; conservatives didn’t do it in 2008 and 2012. It is against Jewish ethical practices to violently demonstrate in this way, and it is a dangerous form of adolescent behavior that is a direct expression of a hate for others with opposing political views. Ironically, it is a manifestation of the hatred these rioters accuse their political opponents of having —yet they are the ones truly showing actions of darkness and hate in these riots.

If you are unhappy with the results of the election, I encourage you to get involved in the political process for the next cycle. Please become a champion for your beliefs through the election of candidates who you support, but I beg you to remove any of the hatred in your heart that is expressed in inappropriate actions of violence toward the man who was legally elected to be our president — and toward his supporters. 

Like the sages of old, we must come together now and try to make changes in the future through respectful and legal ways — not through these hate-filled demonstrations, but through mutually respectful and legal processes. If you have been involved in these riots, please stop trying to make a change through violence and instead work together alongside those with whom you disagree in attempts to find harmony with one another in policies and practices. Please don’t act like like angry children; instead, demonstrate a respect for those you disagree with and engage in a healthy discourse.

Let go of the anger and hatred in your hearts, and I beg you instead to come together as Americans and human beings who recognize that everyone has the same goal: to see a brighter future in this country for our children and their children.

Rabbi Hillel taught: “If I am not for myself, who will be for me? If I am only for myself, what am I? If not now, when?” (Pirkei Avot 1:14). Let us all in this time choose to respect one another, and act on that respect without hatred in our hearts and actions. And maybe if we really respect one another even in our differences, our nation and the world will be more filled with peace.

That is my prayer. Will you join me in this prayer for peace through mutual respect?


Rabbi Michael Barclay is the spiritual leader of Temple Ner Simcha in Westlake Village (nersimcha.org) and the author of “Sacred Relationships: Biblical Wisdom for Deepening Our Lives Together.” He can be reached at RabbiBarclay@aol.com.

200 protest at Chief Rabbinate’s office over rejection of Lookstein conversion


About 200 demonstrators protested next to the offices of the Israeli Chief Rabbinate as a hearing took place about the legitimacy of a conversion conducted by the prominent American Orthodox Rabbi Haskel Lookstein.

On Wednesday, the Supreme Rabbinical Court heard the appeal of a case in which a rabbinical court in Petach Tikvah rejected the conversion of a woman converted by Lookstein when she applied in April for marriage registration with her Israeli fiancé. The decision was not announced following the hearing.

Lookstein, 84, is the former rabbi of Kehilath Jeshurun, a tony modern Orthodox synagogue on Manhattan’s Upper East Side that counts Ivanka Trump and her husband, Jared Kushner, as members. Trump, a daughter of the Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump, converted under Lookstein’s auspices in 2009.

The demonstration was organized by Itim, an organization that helps Israelis navigate Israeli religious bureaucracy, as well as by alumni of the Ramaz School, an elite Manhattan modern Orthodox preparatory school that Lookstein formerly headed, and Natan Sharansky, chairman of The Jewish Agency for Israel.

“Rabbi Lookstein is an industrious and revered figure. His reputation goes before him and he does not need my defense,” Sharansky told the protesters. “Therefore I am not here to protect him, but protect the State of Israel’s good name.

“In these times particularly, during which we are fighting Israel’s delegitimization, when our enemies are trying to disconnect the connections between the young Jewish people of the world and the State of Israel, this harsh blow to the image of Israel amongst the Jewish Diaspora is delivered.”

Several Israeli lawmakers also attended the demonstration. Likud lawmaker Rabbi Yehuda Glick called on the Chief Rabbinate to serve “the whole of Israel.”

“I call upon the Chief Rabbinate: Do not be sectarian. Be a Chief Rabbinate which brings people together, whose ways are ways of pleasantness and whose paths are of peace,” Glick said. “I intend to put this issue on the agenda of the Knesset today.”

Rabbi Seth Farber, the head of Itim, said there is no religious reason to reject Lookstein.

“This is a particular and painful case that exemplifies the abnormal behavior of the entire system, and we are seeing this in all the areas in which the Chief Rabbinate is dealing with,” Farber said. “This extremism will eventually bring about the alienation of the rabbinate from am Yisrael. We all lose in this case.”

Meanwhile, on Wednesday in New York, Rabbi David Stav, head of the Tzohar rabbinical organization, met with Lookstein and offered him his support in the wake of the Chief Rabbinate’s refusal to recognize his conversion.

“This decision further deepens the already troubling divide between Israel and the Diaspora,” Stav said following the meeting. “It leads to a situation where assimilation, both here in Israel and in the Diaspora, is allowed to go unchecked. Because when we have a situation where well-intentioned converts are being disregarded simply because their conversion was officiated by a nationalist and modern Orthodox rabbi, what message does this send to those interested in converting according to halachah [Jewish law]?”

Protesters rally against media coverage of Israel


The offices of the Los Angeles Times were closed to the public Nov. 1, but that did not stop a group of about 40 demonstrators — many of them Jewish high-school students — from expressing their outrage at how the newspaper has been covering the recent wave of violence in Israel.

“I’m really upset about what the media has been saying — not just the L.A. Times, but many media outlets,” Danielle Younai, a junior at de Toledo High School in West Hills, told the Journal at the Sunday rally.

The 16-year-old, who carried a sign featuring a blown-up version of the Oct. 10 Times article headlined “Four Palestinian teens are killed in Israeli violence,” denounced how the media have portrayed “Palestinians as victims, when they are the ones stabbing.” 

For several weeks, deadly incidents have taken place in Israel almost daily, many of them involving knife attacks by Palestinians on Jews. Israeli authorities have responded with lethal force in many cases.

Reacting to what he sees as unbalanced media coverage of the aforementioned events, Milken Community Schools senior Joseph Levy organized this past weekend’s demonstration outside the L.A. newspaper’s downtown office at the intersection of First and Spring streets. 

“We feel like there’s a lot of media bias and that this pushes people against Israel and also pushes some people to be a little anti-Semitic,” Levy said in a phone interview before the event. “So we want the media outlets to give more honest news about Israel and what’s going on there, so they really give people an opportunity to understand the conflict and [how] it’s not all one-sided, and there are two sides to it.” 

Another Jewish high school represented at the event was Harkham GAON Academy (formerly Yeshiva High Tech).  

Rabbi Menachem Weiss, director of the Israel Center at Milken Community Schools and an associate rabbi at Nessah Synagogue, turned out as well. Equipped with a megaphone, he led fiery chants that included, “Stand for truth, cancel L.A. Times.”

The rabbi spoke out against the newspaper, as well as the new ABC drama “Quantico.” It features a character who is an Israeli soldier and who expresses remorse for actions he took in the Gaza Strip. Weiss said the show misrepresents the responsibility Israel bears for the violence between Israel and the Palestinians. 

“The most popular show on television today is brainwashing our teenagers and our young adults, our college students who are watching this show,” he said of the ABC program, speaking into his megaphone. (The Zionist Organization of America has released a statement denouncing the television show as well.)

The rally began at 1 p.m. and lasted for three hours. It drew the attention of two Los Angeles Police Department officers who were on the scene, parked about one block from the demonstration. 

“It’s a permitted demonstration, so we’re just making sure they’re safe,” one of the officers said, declining to provide his full name. 

On Nov. 8, a pro-Israel rally named “Stand With Israel” is scheduled to take place at the Federal Building in Westwood, a more popular locale for such demonstrations and the site of a large rally opposing the Iran deal this past July. The rally, which is being organized by a group that includes Miss International Israel 2012 Yael Markovich, is scheduled to take place from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m.

Last weekend, many cars driving by honked in support of the demonstrators. Levy, who is a member of his school’s Israel advocacy club, said he organized the demonstration as a way to galvanize support for the Jewish state among his peers.

“We’re trying to get youth to act on what we feel is unjust in the media. We have a club at our school. … We want to teach students skills they can take with them to college … for whatever causes they want to advocate,” he said.

Others who turned out Sunday to express outrage at the media included Sharona Hassidim, a young Iranian-American Jew who graduated from UCLA and who said she is looking to become a physician’s assistant. At one point, she joined with Henri Levy, 55, Joseph’s Levy’s father, a French Jew based in Beverly Hills, and together they carried a large sign denouncing not only the Los Angeles Times but also the BBC, The New York Times, CNN, ABC and others. The sign culminated with the words, “Stop unfair international media bias against Israel.”

“I think the media are totally against Israel for no reason,” Henri Levy said. “They lie about the situation in Israel.”

Ethiopian-Israelis, police clash at Tel Aviv protest against racism and brutality


JERUSALEM (JTA) — A demonstration by hundreds of Ethiopian-Israelis and their supporters in Tel Aviv against racism and police brutality turned violent.

The demonstrators marched to Rabin Square, where clashes with police broke out on Monday evening, resulting in arrests, The Jerusalem Post reported. Rabin Square was the site of previous protests by Ethiopian-Israelis, including one in May that turned violent.

Prior to the clashes, two demonstrators were arrested for blocking a road in central Tel Aviv, according to Israel Police.

The protest began in the afternoon in part also to protest the decision by Israel’s attorney general to close the case against the Israeli police officer who was caught on camera beating an Ethiopian-Israeli soldier without charges.

The demonstrators said they will continue their protests until they see changes, according to reports.

Hours earlier, Israel Police released the findings of a special committee made up of police and representatives of the Ethiopian-Israeli community to address the community’s needs and the areas of police responsibility.

The committee investigated 300 cases involving Ethiopian-Israeli juveniles and found no evidence of discrimination or violation of their rights. The report recommended that police officers undergo cultural training to better understand the Ethiopian community, to work to increase the number of Ethiopian-Israelis who serve on the police force and to have Amharic speakers in police stations in areas with a high concentration of Ethiopian residents.

There are 663 Ethiopian-Israel police officers, or 2.3 percent of the force. Ethiopians make up about 2 percent of the Israeli population.

SlutWalk through the Holy City


This article originally appeared on The Media Line.

Six young women stroll down King George Street less than a mile from the holy sites in the old city of Jerusalem, topless apart from a couple of strategically placed Xs of electrical tape. They sport political slogans dabbed across their stomachs – not a common site in the center of Jerusalem. The city’s fourth rendition of the SlutWalk movement aimed to be noticed.

“Every woman gets sexually harassed during her lifetime, at least once,” Shoshan Veber, one of the organizers of the protest, told The Media Line. SlutWalks are a protest against the blaming of victims of rape and the belief that women’s dress or actions cause the violence and harassment that is directed towards them daily, Veber said, asking – “Is it possible that every one of us is a slut?”

SlutWalks started in protest to comments made by a Canadian police officer in 2011 suggesting that if women didn’t want to be raped then they should not dress like sluts. Annual protests take place in a number of countries.

In Jerusalem, it felt like a party as the protestors met in the center of the city. A drum band played and chants of “No, means no,” rang out through a downtown square. Many of the protestors had come dressed wearing less than might be expected for a walk through the center of Jerusalem, with its population of observant Jews, Christians and Muslims. In the minutes before the march began protestors took time to paint slogans on each other: “Yes = Yes.”

“This walk says that it’s not our responsibility and not our doing when women are raped or sexually abused – it is the rapists’ fault.” Veber said. The finger should be pointed at him and not at his victim, the nineteen year old organizer said.

When it comes to the gender gap, Israel was ranked 65 out of 142, by the World Economic Forum a few places behind Thailand, but slightly in front of Italy.

“In terms of legislation on sexual harassment and human trafficking,” Israel is progressive Keren Greenblatt, a legal advisor to the Israel Women’s Network, told The Media Line. However in other areas, “marriage, divorce… enforcement and sexual and domestic violence, we are very much behind.”

Marriage and divorce are controlled by Israel’s Orthodox rabbinate, and there civil marriage does not exist. Domestic violence and familial murders are also more likely to happen amongst traditionally conservative communities; whereas teenage rape and discrimination or harassment in the work place are more prevalent among populations where women are integrated in school and in the work place, she said.

In many regards Israel suffers from the same problems as much of the rest of the world, Greenblatt said, including “discrimination of mothers and pregnant women, economic participation, sexual assault in campuses and schools, pay gap, access to healthcare and family planning.” Despite some areas for concern, Greenblatt said she was optimistic with the direction Israel is going in and that she believed the country’s legislators understood the necessity of pushing the country towards gender equality.

The SlutWalk which passed along Jerusalem’s busiest thoroughfare, at times held up the city’s light rail tram and certainly caught residents and shoppers’ attentions. The organizers estimated that around a thousand people attended. A high proportion of those marching were young women, in their late teens and early twenties.

Veber stressed that the march’s message – that is it wrong to blame the victim – is universal.

“This is not something specific for Jerusalem, it’s a worldwide problem,” she said, pointing out that the same issues could be found in London, Berlin, or elsewhere.

Other protestors disagreed, claiming that women in Jerusalem were under greater pressure than might be seen in less religious locations.

“I have noticed a certain amount of religiously based victim blaming,” Shiraz, a young woman who asked not to give her last name, told The Media Line. “I went to a religious school and once – (when) we were fourteen – our Hebrew teacher gave a lesson in class (where) she told us that if a woman dresses provocatively and she gets raped it’s her fault.”

This sort of message was not unusual during her education, said Shiraz as she distributed flyers to passersby. Not a part of the organizing team, Shiraz said she had volunteered to hand out information leaflets, because she believed strongly in the message of the march.

Women in Israel also buy into blaming the victim, she said.

As the protest marched down the street shoppers and residents stood and stared. Some were visibly shocked, others simply curious. Bystanders had a mixed reaction to the protest, Shiraz explained: some were offended and shouted at the protestors while others expressed sympathy for the march’s cause, after its purpose was explained to them.

“Your parents would be proud!” shouted a young Jewish man sarcastically as he filmed protestors marching past, on his phone. “I think it’s very good that women have respect for their own body but to walk around naked in the street in Jerusalem that also shows a big lack of respect,” the young man, an Australian named David, told The Media Line. “If they want to walk around half dressed – sweet – but to not wear anything at all… to wear no bra or anything else in the streets of Jerusalem….,” he said, shaking his head.

David said he sympathized with the point of the protest but thought a march through the streets was sufficient to make their point – the nudity was unnecessary and could offend religious Jerusalemites. “I mean it’s a very holy city,” he said.

The question of what defines violence towards women remains central to the issue of gender equality. The members of the SlutWalk through Jerusalem argued that harassment in the street and society’s tendency to question the morality of rape victims perpetuates attacks against women.

But violence does not just constitute physical attacks, Nurit Kaufmann, Head of the Women’s International Zionist Organization’s Violent Matters Department, told The Media Line. “When you have been beaten you know you are a victim,” she said. But when the violence is psychological – controlling behavior or a systematic erosion of a partner’s sense of self-worth – it can be just as harmful and even longer lasting.

Others would argue that harassment in the workplace was equally significant with a study from 2011 showing that 11.4% of female workers in Israel said that they had been harassed. Of these nearly one in ten said they left the job because of the unwanted attention.

Keren Greenblatt argues that it goes deeper than this, that discrimination towards women starts at birth. Many of the protestors at the SlutWalk were young women because harassment in the street was the form of discrimination they had experienced. But for many of them inequality in the work place or violence at home were a real possibility as they aged, Greenblatt said.

“The protests should be starting from infancy, where the discrimination and gendered education begin, and continue all the way through to discrimination in retirement pensions and women's poverty in the senior ages.”

Ethiopian Israelis riot in Jerusalem over attacks by police


Ethiopian-Israeli protesters clashed with police during demonstrations throughout Jerusalem over two attacks against Ethiopian-Israelis by Israeli law enforcement.

On Thursday afternoon, some 1,000 protesters blocked roads and the Jerusalem Light Rail, and threw rocks and bottles at police sent to quell the rioting. At least three police officers and eight demonstrators have been injured.

The protests over alleged police brutality and racism were sparked by the two beatings this week of Ethiopian-Israelis, both captured on video. On Wednesday, inspectors from the Population and Immigration Authority beat a Beersheba man who they mistook for an African migrant. On Sunday, police officers beat a soldier who was wearing his uniform.

“I strongly condemn the beating of the Ethiopian IDF soldier and those responsible will be held accountable,” Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said in a statement issued Thursday evening. “However, no one is allowed to take the law into their own hands. The immigrants from Ethiopia and their families are dear to us, and the State of Israel is taking many steps to ease their integration into society.”

Jerusalem Mayor Nir Barkat, arriving during the protest in an effort to calm things, told the protesters that he respected their right to protest despite not having a permit from police.

Over 120,000 Ethiopians have moved to Israel in the past two decades.

Jewish groups to protest pro-Palestinian gathering in Berlin


A coalition of Jewish and pro-Israel groups is planning to protest a pro-Palestinian event in Berlin that is alleged to have ties to Hamas, Hezbollah and Iran.

Fearing a resurgence of the hate speech and violence that marked last summer’s anti-Israel protests in Germany, the coalition named Berlin Against Hamas will protest on Saturday outside the Berlin Arena, where the 13th Conference of Palestinians in Europe is to be held. More than 3,000 people are expected at the conference, which is co-organized by the Palestinian Community of Germany and the British-based Palestinian Return Center.

Politicians from all parties represented in the Berlin legislature have added their support, the Berlin office of the American Jewish Committee said in a statement.

According to the Berlin Department for Constitutional Protection, the conference has become “the most important activity of Hamas supporters” in the city.

“If political and legal means are not enough to stop this kind of event, then it’s time for the democratic civil society to show their true colors,” Deidre Berger, AJC’s director in Berlin, said in the statement accompanying the protest call.

Sebastian Mohr, spokesman for the Berlin Against Hamas initiative, applauded the readiness of politicians and NGOs to take a stand “against the hate of the terrorist Islamist group Hamas.”

Volker Beck, a Green Party legislator and chair of the German-Israeli Parliamentary Group in the German Bundestag, said in the joint statement that the conference “does not further either peace in the Mideast or the legitimate interests in peace and security for Palestinians or Israelis. Just the opposite: it’s a place where prejudices are stoked and, even worse, Hamas’ terror and violence is legitimized or even glorified.”

The Berlin Arena’s managing director, Jana Seifert, told the German news agency dpa that government authorities had investigated but did not find any connections between the conference organizers and Hamas.

Nevertheless, Seifert said the venue insisted on contractual assurances from the organizers that the program would not break the law. It is illegal in Germany to incite violence or hatred based on such categories as religion, ethnic or racial origin, or sexual orientation.

It would also be illegal to incite hate against Israel: Earlier this year, a court in Essen set a legal precedent by finding a defendant guilty of incitement to anti-Semitism by calling for “death and hate to Zionists.”

Meanwhile, Berlin police said there also will be a demonstration in central Berlin on April 25, the Day of Palestinian Prisoners. Organizers registered some 3,000 participants.

3,000 women hold peace demonstration outside Knesset


Three thousand women protested outside the Israeli Knesset calling for an Israeli-Palestinian peace accord.

The protest Wednesday was held by Women Wage Peace, an Israeli organization founded after last summer’s war in Gaza that supports a peace agreement. According to the Times of Israel, the group has 7,000 members.

At the protest, the women formed a circle around the Knesset and chanted “It’s reality, not a dream, women make peace.” They also sang “A Song for Peace,” which Israeli Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin sang at a rally shortly before his assassination in 1995.

“It’s time for us to be part of the dialogue that revolves around security and peace,” Yael Elad, head of the organization’s press team, told the Times of Israel. “We sense that women disappear from the public space when you look at TV panels or listen to radio shows. This place is reserved for generals or politicians, but never for women.”

South Africans arrested over BDS protest at Woolworths


Some 57 protesters calling for a boycott of Woolworths in South Africa because it carries Israeli products were arrested in Johannesburg.

The protesters were arrested on Saturday and charged with public disturbance, the South Africa Press Association reported. They reportedly walked into the store and lay on the ground with signs.

Boycott, Sanctions and Divestment, or BDS, protests also took place in Cape Town.

Members of the Congress of South African Students Western Cape branch placed a pig’s head in the meat department of a local Woolworth’s last week as part of the protests.

“Many of our customers have asked if we source from the occupied territories. We do not,” Woolworth’s said in a statement published in the South Africa Independent. “Our suppliers are expected to adhere to the ethical standards in our code of conduct.”

The company added, “We fully comply with government guidelines on product from Israel. Less than 0.1 percent of our food is sourced from Israel.”

It is not known if the protests have hurt Woolworths sales.

BDS backers reportedly plan to continue to pressure the company, Woolworths Holdings Limited, until its annual general meeting on Nov. 26.

BDS activist Mohammed Desai told the South African daily The Times earlier this month that the movement knows there are other companies in South Africa with ties to Israel but said, “For now, Woolworths is our target. They are making a grave mistake by ignoring us and if we go to all those retailers our campaign will be diluted.”

In South Africa, BDS has received the support of the African National Congress’ Youth League, and the Times reported that the movement has lobbied influential ANC supporters to put pressure on one of Woolworths’ largest shareholders, the Government Employees Pension Fund, which holds 17.2 percent of the shares.

Woolworths, one of the largest companies in South Africa, is not related to the U.S. chain F.W. Woolworth Company.

Protesters stay out on Hong Kong streets, defying Beijing


Tens of thousands of pro-democracy protesters blocked Hong Kong streets in the early hours on Tuesday, maintaining pressure on China as it faces one of its biggest political challenges since the Tiananmen Square crackdown 25 years ago.

Riot police had largely withdrawn and there were none of the clashes, tear gas and baton charges that had erupted over the weekend. As tensions eased, some exhausted demonstrators slept on roadsides while others sang songs or chanted slogans.

One young police officer relaxed in a chair and played on his mobile phone as thousands of demonstrators milled in the streets nearby, some singing and dancing.

Asked why there were so few police, he replied: “Actually, I don't have a reason for you. But we are tired. We are all human beings so we need a rest.”

The protesters, mostly students, are demanding full democracy and have called on the city's leader Leung Chun-ying to step down after Beijing last month announced a plan to limit 2017 elections for Hong Kong's leader, known as the Chief Executive, to a handful of candidates loyal to Beijing.

China rules Hong Kong under a “one country, two systems” formula that accords the former British colony a degree of autonomy and freedoms not enjoyed in mainland China, with universal suffrage set as an eventual goal.

Communist Party leaders worry that calls for democracy could spread to the mainland, and have been aggressively censoring news and social media comments about the Hong Kong demonstrations.

The outside world has looked on warily, concerned that the clashes could spread and trigger a much harsher crackdown.

“The United States urges the Hong Kong authorities to exercise restraint and for protesters to express their views peacefully,” White House spokesman Josh Earnest told a daily briefing on Monday.

The demonstrations, labeled “illegal” by China's Communist-run government in Beijing, are the worst in Hong Kong since China resumed its rule over the territory in 1997.

At their height, white clouds of tear gas wafted among some of the world's most valuable office towers and shopping malls, before riot police suddenly withdrew around lunchtime on Monday.

As tensions subsided, weary protesters dozed or sheltered from the sun beneath umbrellas, which have become a symbol of what some are calling the “umbrella revolution”.

In addition to protection from the elements, umbrellas have been used as flimsy shields against pepper spray.

Organizers said that as many as 80,000 people thronged the streets after the protests flared up on Friday night. No independent estimate of numbers was available.

On Monday and early Tuesday, protesters massed in at least four of Hong Kong's busiest areas, including Admiralty, where Hong Kong's government is headquartered, the Central business district, Causeway Bay, known for its shopping, and the densely populated Mong Kok district in Kowloon.

“I must stress that the events happening now cannot be attributed to the students or Occupy Central. It has evolved into a civil movement,” said leader of the Hong Kong Federation of Students, Alex Chow.

INTERNATIONAL CONCERN

The movement puts Beijing's ruling Communist Party in a difficult position. Cracking down too hard could shake confidence in market-driven Hong Kong, while not reacting firmly enough could embolden dissidents on the mainland.

The protests are expected to escalate on Oct. 1, China's National Day holiday, with residents of the nearby former Portuguese enclave of Macau planning a rally.

Pro-democracy supporters from other countries are also expected to protest, potentially causing further embarrassment.

Televised scenes of the chaos in Hong Kong over the weekend have already made a deep impression outside the financial hub.

That was especially the case in Taiwan, which has full democracy but is considered by China as a renegade province that must one day be reunited with the Communist-run mainland.

Taiwan President Ma Ying-jeou said Beijing needed “to listen carefully to the demands of the Hong Kong people”.

Britain said it was concerned about the situation and called for the right of protest to be protected.

Earlier, Chinese Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Hua Chunying said Beijing was “resolutely opposed to any country attempting in any way to support such illegal activities like 'Occupy Central'.”

“We are fully confident in the long-term prosperity and stability of Hong Kong, because I believe this is in keeping with the interests of all the people in China, the region and the world,” she said.

In 1989, Beijing's Tiananmen crackdown sent shockwaves through Hong Kong as people saw how far China's rulers would go to keep their grip on power.

SOME BANKS PULL DOWN SHUTTERS

Banks in Hong Kong, including HSBC, Citigroup, Bank of China, Standard Chartered and DBS, shut some branches and advised staff to work from home or go to secondary branches.

While the financial fallout from the turmoil has been limited so far, Hong Kong shares ended down 1.9 percent on Monday.

About 200 workers at Swire Beverage, a unit of Hong Kong conglomerate Swire Pacific and a major bottler for the Coca-Cola Company, went on strike in support of the protesters, a union representative said. They also demanded the city's leader step down.

The protests have spooked tourists, with arrivals from China down sharply ahead of this week's National Day holidays. Hong Kong on Monday canceled the city's fireworks display over the harbor, meant to mark the holiday. The United States, Australia and Singapore issued travel alerts.

In Kowloon, across the harbor from Central district, tens of thousands of people packed the streets with no police in sight. The protesters were highly organized, with supply stations stacked with water bottles, fruit, biscuits, chocolate bars and other food.

Additional reporting by Donny Kwok, Elzio Barreto, Clare Baldwin; Venus Wu, Yimou Lee, Diana Chan, Kinling Lo, Twinnie Siu, Bobby Yip, Lisa Jucca, Greg Torode, Umesh Desai, Saikat Chatterjee, Twinnie Siu and Stefanie McIntyre in HONG KONG; Writing by John Ruwitch and Anne-Marie Roantree; Editing by Mike Collett-White

To be read at the NYC Rally protesting ‘The Death of Klinghoffer’


Friends and Fellow protesters: 

In joining you today to protest the New York Metropolitan Opera production of this opera, I echo the silenced voice of my son, Daniel Pearl, and the silenced voices of other victims of terror, including James Foley and Steven Sotloff, and including thousands of men, women and children who were murdered, maimed or left heartbroken by the new menace of our generation, a menace of savagery that the Met has decided to elevate to a normative, two-sided status, worthy of artistic expression. 

They tell us that the composer tried to “understand the hijackers, their motivations, and their grievances.”

I submit to you that there has never been a crime in human history lacking grievance and motivation. The 9/11 lunatics had profound motivations, and the murderers of my son, Daniel Pearl, had very compelling “grievances.”

In the past few weeks we have seen with our own eyes that Hamas and ISIS have grievances, too and, they, too, are lining up for operatic productions with the Met.

There is nothing more enticing to a would-be terrorist than the prospect of broadcasting his “grievences” in Lincoln Center, the icon of American culture

Yet civilized society, from the time of our caveman ancestors, has learned to protect itself by codifying right from wrong, separating the holy from the profane, distinguishing that which deserves the sound of orchestras from that which deserves our unconditional revulsion.  The Met has smeared this distinction and thus betrayed  their contract with society.

I submit to you that choreographing an operatic drama around criminal pathology is not an artistic prerogative, but a blatant betrayal of public trust.

We do not stage operas for rapists and child molesters, and we do not compose symphonies for penetrating the minds of ISIS executioners. 

No! Composer John Adams, some sides do not have two sides, and what was done to Leon Klinghoffer has one side only.

What we are seeing here in New York today is not an artistic expression that challenges the limits of morality, but a moral deformity that challenges the limits of the art.

This opera is not about the mentality of deranged terrorists, but about the judgment of our arts directors. The New York Met has squandered humanity's greatest treasure — our moral compass, our sense of right and wrong, and, most sadly, our reverence for music as a noble expression of the human spirit.

We might be able some day to forgive the Met for de-criminalizing brutal minds, but we will never forgive them for poisoning our music — for turning our best violins and our iconic concert halls into mega-phones for excusing evil.

Mr. Peter Gelb,  Let me repeat what I wrote to you on Thursday:

“May God give you the courage to admit that this was a hasty, shortsighted decision that can be reversed.”

May Danny's last words strengthen your heart to say: “I erred.” 

Thank you.

Judea Pearl

President, Daniel Pearl Foundation.

Call for protest spurs Arab groom, Jewish-born bride to hire security for party


An Arab man and his Jewish-born bride hired 14 security guards for their wedding celebration in Israel in response to an anti-intermarriage Jewish group’s call for a protest rally at the hall.

Mahmoud Mansour, who is Muslim, and Morel Malka, who recently converted to Islam, reportedly are concerned for their safety at Sunday’s event in Rishon Lezion after the group, Lehava, posted photographs of their invitation on social media and urged protesters to rally outside the hall with megaphones and banners, the NRG news site reported.

Police said they will send personnel to the area to prevent any disturbance.

The couple is already legally married, according to Haaretz; the Sunday reception is merely a celebration. The groom’s parents and bride’s mother reportedly support the union.

Bentzi Gupstein, the chairman of Lehava, told NRG that his group was particularly upset about the wedding because of this summer’s escalation in tensions between Hamas and Israel.

“We are still at war and she is marrying a member of the enemy,” he said.

Mansour, of Jaffa, is an Israeli citizen. Gupstein said he was also angry that the wedding is taking place in Rishon Lezion, one of many cities targeted by rockets from Gaza this summer.

The father of the bride told Israel’s Channel 10 in an interview that he did not know about the relationship until recently and that he plans to boycott the wedding, the Times of Israel reported.

“I never dreamed that my daughter would marry an Arab,” he said. “I’m not going, period.”

The banquet hall management said several people have called to criticize the hall for hosting the event, while others have made threats, Haaretz reported.

Dutch Jews seek ban on rallies featuring hate speech


Following repeated calls to kill Jews in protest rallies in The Hague, representatives of the Dutch Jewish community urged local authorities to crack down on anti-Semitic incitement.

The appeal by the Center for Information and Documentation on Israel, or CIDI, came Friday following two demonstrations in The Hague this month in which protesters made menacing statements about Jews.

“The Hague is known internationally as a city of peace and law,” CIDI wrote in the statement. “It is unfathomable that this could happen in this city.”

The statement was in reference to a demonstration by 150 people in the heavily Muslim Schilderswijk neighborhood of the Hague. Protesters who had gathered there on Thursday evening to demonstrate against Israel’s actions in Gaza chanted “death to Israel, death to the Jews” in Arabic.

The prosecutor’s office of the Hague said in a statement that a police officer who speaks Arabic was present at the demonstration but did not find that the calls “crossed the line.” But the prosecutor’s office will review video footage of the demonstration to determine whether the calls constituted incitement to hate and will punish the parties responsible if their actions violated the law, the statement said.

The CIDI, a watchdog monitoring anti-Semitism, was joined in its call by the Central Jewish Board, or CJO — the umbrella group representing Jewish communities and organizations in the Netherlands.

An earlier protest in the Schilderswijk on July 4 — four days before Israel launched its assault on Hamas — featured similar calls. That rally was to protest the arrest of Dutch Muslims who had fought with jihadists in Syria.

Anti-Israel rioters torch cars, throw firebomb at Paris-area synagogue


PARIS (JTA) — Anti-Israel protesters hurled a firebomb at a synagogue during an unauthorized demonstration in a heavily Jewish suburb of Paris.

The riot broke out on Sunday afternoon in Sarcelles after a few hundred people assembled at a local metro station to protest Israel’s actions in Gaza, as well as the decision by French Interior Minister Bernard Cazaneuve to ban rallies against Israel following the staging of riots last week outside several synagogues in the Paris region.

The firebomb was hurled at the Synagogue of Garges-Les-Gonesse at a smaller rally that splintered off the main demonstration. It hit the building but did not cause serious damage, the daily online edition of Le Figaro reported.

In addition, rioters torched at least two cars as they clashed with police near the synagogue.

Organizers of the protest rally at the metro station urged the crowd not to resort to violence, but a few dozen demonstrators confronted police as others were leaving the demonstration, the online edition of the Le Nouvel Observateur weekly reported. Police fired tear gas at the demonstrators and surrounded a synagogue nearby, blocking the entire street.

Approximately 30 young Jewish men were standing at the synagogue entrance holding sticks; one was holding an Israeli flag. The French Jewish Defense League, or LDJ, said on Twitter that it was guarding the synagogue along with police.

Protesters also smashed the windshield of several parked cars and at least one shop.

Sarcelles has a large Sephardic Jewish population.

On Saturday, thousands of demonstrators protesting Israel’s military operation in Gaza confronted police in central Paris. Fourteen police officers were lightly wounded and 38 protesters were arrested.

Hamas rally in Gaza takes aim at Egypt, Israel and Abbas


Tens of thousands of Palestinians rallied in Gaza on Sunday to show support for their Islamist Hamas government, which has long been at loggerheads with Israel but is now shunned by Egypt as well.

The military-backed government that toppled the Muslim Brotherhood, Hamas's ideological kin, in Cairo last year deems the Palestinian faction a security threat. An Egyptian court this month banned Hamas activities in the country, and Cairo has clamped down on smuggling tunnels across the Sinai-Gaza border.

Hamas tried in vain to mollify Egypt by insisting that its hostility was directed exclusively at Israel, but is now turning up the rhetoric.

“The punishment of the people of Gaza must end,” Ismail Haniyeh, head of the Hamas government, told the rally in a speech interspersed with chants of “Jihad is not Terrorism” over the loudspeakers.

“Why punish Gaza? Was it because it achieved victory against the Occupier? Why punish Gaza? Was it because it took up the rifle against Israel?” Haniyeh said.

“We are living through a difficult stage and harsh challenges, but we are not terrified and we are not defeated. We have become familiar with difficulties and this stage is not the most difficult.”

Hamas has repeatedly fought Israel, which withdrew from the Gaza Strip in 2005. The Islamists won a Palestinian legislative election the next year and, after a uneasy power-share with the U.S.-backed rival faction Fatah, seized control of Gaza in 2007.

OPPOSITION TO PEACE TALKS

Sunday's rally was intended to commemorate three top Hamas leaders, including the group's founder, Sheikh Ahmed Yassin, who was assassinated by Israel a decade ago.

The tone of defiance appeared aimed in part at undermining Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas of Fatah, who holds sway in the West Bank and is holding peace talks with Israel under Washington's auspices.

“We call upon the Palestinian negotiator to quit this pointless track and not to extend negotiation,” said Haniyeh.

Though Hamas has largely held fire since its last war with Israel, in November 2012, the Israelis have been uncovering tunnels dug from Gaza to allow cross-border attacks in the next confrontation. Haniyeh said the tunnels showed his faction's dedication to fighting Israel until its eventual destruction.

“From below ground and above ground, you, the Occupiers, will be dismissed. You have no place in the land of Palestine.”

Haniyeh described Egypt as “brother, friend and neighbor”, but another Hamas official based in the West Bank, Hassan Youssef, had harsher words.

“We say to the authors of the coup in Egypt, the criminals who support the Occupation (Israel), that the blockade will not work,” he said in a televised speech.

Cairo's cold shoulder has exacerbated Hamas's isolation since it quit its headquarters in Damascus in protest at Syrian President Bashar al-Assad's crackdown on opposition groups, a move that led Iran to cut off funding.

Palestinian officials said Hamas was now in fence-mending talks with Tehran, though their outcome remained unclear.

Writing by Dan Williams; Editing by Kevin Liffey

Court upholds conviction of Irvine protesters


A California state appeals court has upheld the conviction of 10 students at the University of California, Irvine, who disrupted a 2010 speech by then-Israeli Ambassador to the United States Michael Oren.

During the speech, the protesters interrupted Oren repeatedly, calling him a “mass murderer” and a “war criminal.” The heckling caused him to pause his speech amid calls for order, and he curtailed his hourlong speech to 12 minutes.

In 2011, the students were charged and subsequently convicted of violating a state law prohibiting the disruption or breaking up of a lawful assembly. The appeals court upheld the conviction. The defendants face up to a year in prison.

General Counsel Marc Stern of the American Jewish Committee, which filed an amicus brief on behalf of the prosecution along with the Jewish Council for Public Affairs and the Jewish National Fund, said his group was “pleased that the appellate division concurred with our view that the First Amendment guarantee of freedom of speech may not be invoked to protect those who intentionally disrupt a lawful meeting.

 

A year of haredim taking to Jerusalem’s streets


A bus of black hats, whispered prayers and gender-segregated seating.

A mass of haredi Orthodox men — and some women — walking slowly together, packing the streets of northern Jerusalem.

Hundreds of thousands of voices wailing prayers of penitence, portraying a recent event as a tragedy beyond measure — and vowing to rededicate themselves to their way of life.

Something told me I’d been there before.

Since last spring, mass gatherings of haredi Israelis in Jerusalem have punctuated Israel’s news cycle. Last May, thousands of haredi men and women packed the Western Wall Plaza in a show of force against a ruling to allow Women of the Wall to pray there undisturbed. In October, some 800,000 people — 10 percent of the country — turned out for the funeral of Rabbi Ovadia Yosef, the Sephardic sage.

And on Sunday, 300,000 haredi Israelis filled Jerusalem’s streets, shutting down its roads and transit, to protest the advancement of a bill that would require them to join Israel’s mandatory military conscription in three years.

Each of these gatherings was different — the Western Wall protest was much smaller and grew violent, while today’s was large and peaceful; the funeral wasn’t a protest at all.

But all the gatherings shared key characteristics:

They all carried a feeling of dire urgency. Be it the death of a leader, the purported misuse of a holy space or the endangering of a core communal privilege, the haredim who showed up acted as if what was happening threatened not just the haredi lifestyle but the core of Jewish tradition.

They all centered on prayer. Both the funeral and today’s conscription protest included saying psalms and penitential prayers usually reserved for the High Holidays. And while a faction of the Western Wall protesters acted violently, the vast majority prayed quietly or as a group. In fact, months ago leading haredi Rabbi Aharon Leib Shteinman advocated prayer over protest to fight the conscription law.

They all alluded to Jewish history. No matter the cause, the attendees portrayed themselves as another iteration of previous Jewish tragedy. Signs today compared the conscription law to slavery in Egypt, the Purim story (before the happy ending) or even the Holocaust. A few Western Wall protesters also had no problem calling Women of the Wall “Nazis.” And several eulogizers at the funeral compared Yosef’s death to the prophet Elijah’s.

They all had the endorsement of leading haredi rabbis. Leading rabbis from several haredi sects endorsed the Western Wall and conscription protests — turning out their followers in large numbers. All stripes of the haredi community paid tribute to Yosef’s memory. Several protesters at today’s demonstration said they came because their grand rabbis told them to.

Finally, none of the predictions made at these gatherings are likely to happen. Protesters at the Western Wall said they would not allow Women of the Wall to pray in peace; now, the group has the legal right to pray at the site and encounters minimal protest at its monthly gatherings. After the Yosef funeral, expert observers predicted a rift in the rabbi’s Shas political party that has yet to break open. And despite the haredi protestations today, the conscription law is expected to pass.

Haredim can exercise significant communal solidarity, and turning out large numbers for protests is one of their principal strengths. It’s likely due to the strength of their potential activism that the conscription bill is relatively cautious — not enforcing the haredi draft until 2017. Whatever happens, today’s protest demonstrated that while they may not be able to change a law, they can shut down Israel’s largest city for half a day.

Activists protest Israeli gay pride float in New Zealand


Police removed several activists from the gay pride parade in New Zealand who broke through barricades to protest Israel’s entry.

Saying they were criticizing Israel’s “pinkwashing” of human rights, a handful of protesters dressed in pink and bearing placards protesting “Israeli apartheid” tried to approach the float at the beginning of the parade in Auckland on Saturday night. The float was organized by Israel’s embassy in the capital.

Patricia Deen, the embassy’s spokeswoman, said, “We were just there because we are proud of who we are, the fact that we are the only country in the Middle East where gay people are accepted. We were also there to promote the Tel Aviv gay parade.”

She added, “Their pride parade is one of the biggest parties in the whole wide world. We have a proud Israeli and Jewish gay community in New Zealand and in Israel.”

Deen also told GayNZ.com, “Even though we were being disrupted, it was in the beginning of the parade. But through the whole parade we were being cheered, people were saying ‘shalom.’ ”

The fracas came as a group of 40 activists, led by anti-apartheid campaigner John Minto, traveled from Auckland to Wellington, also on Saturday night, to boycott the Batsheva Dance Company, which was performing at the New Zealand Festival for the first time. They were met by a group of pro-Israel demonstrators led by David Zwartz, the former honorary Israeli consul.

“The counter-demonstration came from the Wellington Jewish community and a strong contingent from Christian supporters of Israel,” Zwartz told JTA. “The main focus of our counter-protest was the falseness of the allegation that Israel is an apartheid state.”

At least five ticket holders decided not to attend the acclaimed dance troupe’s performance, according to local media.

Israel’s ambassador, Yosef Livne, attended the premiere on Friday night. The embassy partially sponsored the troupe’s visit to New Zealand, which has been hailed by critics.

 

Longtime Women of the Wall members protest Robinson’s Arch decision


Ten longtime members of Women of the Wall are protesting the organization’s recent decision to meet at the Robinson’s Arch area next to the Western Wall Plaza.

In a public statement Friday, the protesting members said the Women of the Wall board betrayed the group’s fundamental mission with its decision earlier in the week.

“We remain committed to the Kotel, the place sanctified by the memory, prayers, and hopes of Jews for 2,000 years,” read the statement, using the wall’s Hebrew name. “We remain unalterably committed to the right of all Jewish women to pray together in the ezrat nashim [women’s section] at the Kotel with tallit and tefillin, reading from the Torah scroll.”

The board had decided by majority vote to agree in principle to pray at the Robinson’s Arch area next to the Western Wall Plaza should the government meet several of the group’s demands.

Until then, the group, which meets at the beginning of each Jewish month for a prayer service in the women’s section of the Western Wall, will continue praying in the women’s section.

Officials from Women of the Wall told JTA that the decision to conditionally embrace Robinson’s Arch was motivated by concern over possible legal and legislative challenges. Members of Knesset have been attempting to pass legislation restricting the group’s rights.

The pushback against the group’s decision has exposed significant divisions within Women of the Wall — between advocates of pragmatism and pure ideology, between activists in Israel and North America, and between the group’s current and past leaders. All but two of the opposing statement’s 10 signatories live in the United States and Canada.

“This is a useful way of having the group pay attention to what we’re saying,” said Phyllis Chesler, a founder of Women of the Wall who lives in New York. “What we’re hoping for is a more transparent and democratic process that will clarify what the basic vision and principles are of this group.”

Women of the Wall’s leadership, including Chairwoman Anat Hoffman, long opposed moving the group to Robinson’s Arch – a solution first proposed in a Supreme Court ruling 10 years ago. Hoffman had called it “the back of the bus” and insisted on the group’s right to stay in the women’s section.

But with the government moving forward on a plan to expand and renovate Robinson’s Arch for use by non-Orthodox prayer groups, the board voted 9-2 to accept the Robinson’s Arch solution should it fulfill several criteria — among them that the new section equal the existing plaza in size, budget and facilities and be overseen by a pluralist body of Jewish leaders.

The vote allows Women of the Wall to negotiate with the government over the area’s layout and management, and puts it in line with the Reform and Conservative movements, which support the plan.

Hoffman suggested that some of the signatories are not as sensitive to pragmatic concerns.

“It’s fine that people who are not close to these challenges voice their opinion, the pure ideological opinion,” Hoffman said. “It’s easier for them and it’s good that we hear it. It’s an advantage that they’re far from the political differences.”

Chesler called Hoffman “dictatorial.”

“None of us in the Diaspora were on the board, and I don’t think that’s right,” she said. “These signatories are significant players in the history of this struggle, and none of them are on the board. Many of the Diaspora women are in Israel very often. Jews are coming and going.”

Grenades fired in Cairo, troops killed near Suez Canal after protesters die


Suspected militants killed six Egyptian soldiers near the Suez Canal and fired rocket-propelled grenades at a state satellite station in Cairo on Monday, suggesting an Islamist insurgency was gathering pace three months after an army takeover.

Dozens of supporters of the Muslim Brotherhood were killed in clashes with security forces and political opponents on Sunday, one of the bloodiest days since the military deposed Islamist President Mohamed Mursi in July.

The death toll from that day's violence across the country rose to 53, state media said, with 271 people wounded.

The Brotherhood denies the military's charges that it incites violence and says it has nothing to do with militant activity, but further confrontations may shake Egypt this week, with Mursi's supporters calling protests for Tuesday and Friday.

They are likely to be angered by the publication of an interview with Egypt's army chief on Monday in which he said he told Mursi as long ago as February he had failed as president.

Sunday's clashes took place on the anniversary of the 1973 war with Israel — meant to have been a day of national celebration. The countries signed a peace agreement in 1979.

Authorities had warned that anyone protesting against the army during the anniversary would be regarded as an agent of foreign powers, not an activist – a hardening of language that suggested authorities would take a tougher line.

The Muslim Brotherhood accused the army of staging a coup and working with security forces to eliminate the group through violence and arrests, allegations the military denies.

Sinai-based militants have stepped up attacks on the security forces since the army takeover and assaults like that in Cairo's Maadi suburb fuel fears of an Islamist insurgency like one in the 1990s crushed by then President Hosni Mubarak.

Two people were wounded in the attack on the state-owned satellite station while medical sources said three were killed and 48 injured in a blast near a state security building in South Sinai. A witness said it was caused by a car bomb.

“Unidentified people opened fire on a satellite receiver station in the neighborhood of Maadi in Cairo,” the Ministry of Interior said in a statement. Security sources said assailants fired two rocket-propelled grenades at the site.

Security sources said gunmen opened fire on the soldiers in Ismailia while they were sitting in a car at a checkpoint near the city on the Canal, a vital global trade route.

TOURISM HIT

Traffic flowed freely in the centre of Cairo where Sunday's clashes had taken place and state radio said security forces were in control of the country.

But attacks in Cairo like Monday's on the satellite station could do further damage to Egypt's vital tourism industry.

David Hartwell, a Middle East analyst at IHS Jane's, said more explosive devices seemed to be being used in the capital.

“It suggests that Sinai groups are infiltrating in greater numbers in to northern Egypt,” he said. “Either these groups are expanding out of Sinai, he said, “or the capabilities that they have is being used by other groups that may or not be affiliated with the Brotherhood.”

Army chief General Abdel Fattah al-Sisi, who has promised a political roadmap that would lead Egypt to free and fair elections, said in the interview published on Monday that Egypt's interests differed from those of the Brotherhood.

“I told Mursi in February you failed and your project is finished,” privately-owned newspaper al-Masry al-Youm quoted Sisi as saying.

Militant attacks, including a failed assassination attempt on the interior minister in Cairo in September, are deepening uncertainty in Egypt along with the power struggle between the Brotherhood and the army-backed government.

Neither side seems willing to pursue reconciliation, raising the possibility of protracted tensions in U.S. ally Egypt.

Almost daily attacks by al Qaeda-inspired militants in the Sinai have killed more than 100 members of the security forces since early July, the army spokesman said on September 15.

Security forces smashed pro-Mursi protest camps in Cairo on August 14, killing hundreds of people. In an ensuing crackdown, many Muslim Brotherhood leaders were arrested in an attempt to decapitate Egypt's oldest Islamist movement.

The Brotherhood, which had proven highly resilient after previous crackdowns, has embarked on a strategy of staging smaller protests to avoid action by security forces.

Sisi denied Brotherhood allegations that the army had intended to remove Mursi through a coup, saying it had only responded to the will of the people.

Before Mursi's overthrow, Egyptians disillusioned with his year-long rule had held huge rallies demanding that he quit.

Last month, a court banned the Brotherhood and froze its assets, pushing the group, which had dominated elections held in Egypt after Mubarak's fall in 2011, further into the cold.

Additional reporting by Yasmine Saleh and Maggie Fick; Writing by Michael Georgy

Bet Tzedek conflict over employees’ health insurance


The chant coming from Bet Tzedek Legal Services employees and their supporters as they marched on the streets of Koreatown on Aug. 22 was unified: “All day, all night, health care is a human right.”

For the past several months, the employees have been fighting with the pro bono legal firm’s management over proposed increases to the cost of their employer-sponsored health care, and they have been hitting the streets to make themselves heard. 

“We’re here to tell Bet Tzedek that we can go forward, even during difficult [economic] times, without destroying [workers’ health care],” said Marc Bender, a litigation and training supervisor, while leading a picket line on Aug. 22. The demonstration took place outside of the office building at 3250 Wilshire Blvd., where Bet Tzedek’s offices are located. Employees also demonstrated Sept. 11 in the same location. They marched and carried picket signs that read: “Don’t Bleed Our Health Care,” “Protect Our Families” and “Si, Se Puede!” (“Yes, We Can!”). 

Bet Tzedek (“House of Justice”) provides services to the poor and underserved in Los Angeles. Lawyers, legal secretaries, paralegals and clerical workers, who make up its 51 non-managerial employees, are unionized members of Bet Tzedek Legal Services Union/American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees Local 946. 

The two sides began disagreeing over health insurance costs in the spring, several months after employees’ previous contract expired on Dec. 31, 2012. Management and employees have agreed to extend the terms of the previous contract while they negotiate, said Elissa Barrett, vice president and general counsel at the nonprofit. 

Bet Tzedek employees expressed satisfaction with the existing amount they have to pay toward their health care premiums. Currently, employees are fully covered as individals, and are required to pay $20 monthly for a spouse or $30 monthly for a family, if they choose HMO coverage. Juana Mijares, an intake supervisor, earns $49,000 annually  and said coverage for her family of five could cost her $650 monthly under a proposal she said the company is making. 

Barrett declined to specify the details of management’s proposals. “That’s a subject of negotiation,” she said. 

Increases to staff members’ contributions to their health care are necessary for the financial health of the organization, according to Barrett. Health care costs have been increasing over the past several years, leaving Bet Tzedek no choice but to pass a greater portion of the costs of insurance on to to its employees

“Our staff works very hard, they do a fantastic job, we value them greatly, [but] if we did not believe it was necessary for the survival and sustainability of this organization to tackle this health care issue, we wouldn’t be bringing it this strongly to the negotiating table,” she said.

The midweek August protest took place after work hours. Approximately 35 people marched at Wilshire Boulevard and New Hampshire Avenue. Among them was L.A. City Councilman Paul Koretz.

The ongoing disagreement between employees and management has attracted the attention of leaders in the local social justice moment. Those who turned out last month included Leslie Gersicoff, executive director of Jewish Labor Committee Western Region, and Rabbi Jonathan Klein, executive director of Clergy and Laity United for Economic Justice.

Meanwhile, Barrett told the Journal that the employees’ side has “refused to engage, refused to negotiate,” despite Bet Tzedek management offering three different proposals regarding employees’ health care premiums.

“I remain stubbornly hopeful that we will be able to get down to business at the bargaining table and see if there is a solution that we can all live with,” she said.

Dozens die in Egyptian bloodbath on Islamists’ ‘Day of Rage’


Islamist protests descended into a bloodbath across Egypt on Friday, with around 50 killed in Cairo alone on a “Day of Rage” called by followers of ousted President Mohamed Morsi to denounce a crackdown by the army-backed government.

As automatic gunfire echoed across Cairo, the standoff seemed to be sliding ever faster towards armed confrontation, evoking past conflict between militant Islamists and the state in the most populous Arab nation.

More than 40 people were also killed in provincial cities, taking the overall toll close to 100, although the intense shooting eventually died down in Cairo at dusk as a curfew began.

While Western governments urged restraint after hundreds died when security forces cleared protest camps two days ago, Saudi Arabia's King Abdullah endorsed the government's tactics against the Muslim Brotherhood, saying on Friday his nation stood with Egypt in its battle against “terrorism”.

Army helicopters hovered low over supporters of Morsi's Brotherhood in Ramses Square, the theatre of much of Friday's bloodshed in Cairo, black smoke billowing from at least one huge blaze which lit up the night sky after sundown.

A Reuters witness saw the bodies of 27 people, apparently hit by gunfire and birdshot, wrapped in white sheets in a mosque. A Reuters photographer said security forces opened fire from numerous directions when a police station was attacked.

Men armed with automatic weapons appeared to be taking part in the Cairo protests. At Ramses Square, Reuters journalists saw three men carrying guns; protesters cheered when cars carrying gunmen arrived, another Reuters witness said.

“Sooner or later I will die. Better to die for my rights than in my bed. Guns don't scare us anymore,” said Sara Ahmed, 28, a business manager who joined the demonstrators in Cairo. “It's not about the Brotherhood, it's about human rights.”

A security official said 24 policemen had been killed and 15 police stations attacked since late Thursday, underlining the increasing ferocity of the violence.

Egyptian state media have hardened their rhetoric against the Brotherhood – which ruled Egypt for a year until the army removed Morsi on July 3 – invoking language used to describe militant groups such as al Qaeda and suggesting there is little hope of a political resolution to the crisis.

“Egypt fighting terrorism,” said a logo on state television.

Showing no sign of wanting to back down, the Brotherhood announced a further week of nationwide protests.

Islamists have periodically been in conflict with the Egyptian military for decades. Nationalist General Gamal Abdel Nasser staged a crackdown on the Brotherhood in the 1950s and another followed before and after the 1981 assassination of President Anwar Sadat by fundamentalist officers. In the 1990s militants waged a bloody campaign for an Islamic state.

LIVE AMMUNITION

The army deployed armored vehicles on major roads around the capital and the Interior Ministry said before Friday's protests began that police would use live ammunition against anyone threatening public buildings.

Anger on the streets was directed at army commander General Abdel Fattah al-Sisi, who moved against Morsi last month after massive street rallies against his administration that had been dogged by accusations of incompetence and partisanship.

“The people want the butcher executed,” said Mustafa Ibrahim, 37, referring to Sisi, as he marched with a crowd of several thousand on downtown Cairo under blazing summer sun.

The Brotherhood said in a statement: “The coup makers have lost all lost their minds, norms and principles today.”

State television said 16 people died in clashes in Alexandria, Egypt's second city, and 140 were wounded. Eight protesters died in the coastal town of Damietta and five in Fayoum south of Cairo. The Suez Canal cities of Ismailia, Port Said and Suez all had deathtolls of four, as did Tanta in the Nile delta.

A police conscript was shot dead in the north of Cairo, state news agency MENA reported. Nile TV showed video of a gunman among Islamist protesters firing from a city bridge.

Witnesses said Morsi supporters ransacked a Catholic church and a Christian school in the city of Malawi. An Anglican church was also set ablaze. The Brotherhood, which has been accused of inciting anti-Christian sentiment, denies targeting churches.

Signaling his displeasure at the worst bloodshed in Egypt for generations, U.S. President Barack Obama said on Thursday normal cooperation with Cairo could not continue and announced the cancellation of military exercises with Egypt next month.

“We deplore violence against civilians,” he said, but did not cut off $1.55 billion a year of mostly military U.S. aid.

The European Union asked its members to consider “appropriate measures” it could take, while Germany announced it was reviewing relations with Cairo.

The Egyptian presidency issued a statement criticizing Obama, saying his comments were not based on “facts” and would strengthen violent groups that were committing “terrorist acts”.

Some fear Egypt is turning back into the kind of police state that kept the veteran autocrat Hosni Mubarak in power for 30 years before his removal in 2011, as security institutions recover their confidence and reassert control.

In calling for a “Day of Rage,” the Brotherhood used the same name as that given to the most violent day of the uprising against Mubarak. That day, January 28, 2011, marked protesters' victory over the police, who were forced to retreat.

The centre of the anti-Mubarak protests, Tahrir Square, was deserted on Friday, sealed off by the army.

SAUDI SUPPORT

Washington's influence over Cairo has been called into question following Morsi's overthrow. Since then Saudi Arabia, Kuwait and the United Arab Emirates have pledged $12 billion to Egypt, making them more prominent partners.

“The Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, its people and government stood and stand by today with its brothers in Egypt against terrorism,” King Abdullah said in an uncompromising message read out on Saudi television.

“I call on the honest men of Egypt and the Arab and Muslim nations … to stand as one man and with one heart in the face of attempts to destabilize a country that is at the forefront of Arab and Muslim history,” he said.

Obama's refusal so far to cut off U.S. aid to Egypt suggests he does not wish to alienate the generals, despite the scale of the bloodshed in the suppression of Morsi supporters.

Egypt will need all the financial support it can get in the coming months as it grapples with growing economic problems, especially in the important tourism sector that accounts for more than 10 percent of gross domestic product.

The United States urged its citizens to leave Egypt on Thursday and two of Europe's biggest tour operators, Germany's TUI and Thomas Cook Germany, said they were cancelling all trips to the country until September 15.

Underscoring the deep divisions in the country, local residents helped the army block access to Cairo's Rabaa al-Adawiya mosque, the site of the main Brotherhood sit-in that was swept away during Wednesday's police assault.

“We are here to prevent those filthy bastards from coming back,” said Mohamed Ali, a 22-year-old business student.

Pro-army groups posted videos on the Internet of policemen they said had been tortured and killed by Islamist militants in recent days, including a bloodied, beaten police chief.

However, when a military helicopter flew low over Ramses Square, Brotherhood protesters held up shoes in a gesture of contempt, chanting “We will bring Sisi to the ground” and “Leave, leave, you traitor”.

As the sound of teargas canisters being fired began, protesters – including young and old, men and women – donned surgical masks, gas masks and wrapped bandannas around their faces. Some rubbed Pepsi on their faces to counter the gas.

“Allahu akbar! (God is Greatest)” the crowd chanted.

Additional reporting by Michael Georgy, Tom Finn, Yasmine Saleh, Mohamed Abdellah, Ahmed Tolba and Omar Fahmy in Cairo, Steve Holland and Jeff Mason in Martha's Vineyard, Massachusetts, Writing by Crispian Balmer; Editing by Alistair Lyon and David Stamp

Israeli Arabs protest in Tel Aviv over Egypt violence


Dozens of Israeli Arabs protested in front of the Egyptian embassy in Tel Aviv following clashes in Egypt between government security forces and protesters backing deposed President Mohamed Morsi.

At least 149 protesters affiliated with the Muslim Brotherhood were killed and more than 1,400 injured throughout Egypt on Wednesday after government security forces raided two major sit-in protests in Cairo early in the morning.

Vice President Mohamed ElBaradei, a Nobel Peace Prize laureate and pro-reform leader, resigned in protest over the violence.

Following the raids, the Egyptian government, led by interim President Adly Mansou, declared a monthlong state of emergency. A nighttime curfew has been imposed on Cairo and other areas of the country.

The protesters in Tel Aviv were joined by Knesset member Ibrahim Tzartzur of the Arab Ra’am-Ta’al party.

“Our message is simple: We are here to condemn the attacks and the Egyptian coup in general,” Tzartzur told Ynet. “We are protesting against the bloodshed of those who protested quietly.”

A Jerusalem-based cameraman for Sky News, Mick Deane, 61, was killed in the violence.

A Jew and a Muslim? L.A.-based NewGround wants to show we can all get along


Most Jews and Muslims rarely talk — really talk — to one another. This is as true in the United States as elsewhere, a stark reality despite our nation’s vast diversity and the ability of so many different peoples to coexist. It is true also in Los Angeles, a city of strong ethnic identities, long drives and even longer cultural memories. 

Indeed, even here, the few encounters among Muslims and Jews often feel like head-on collisions: Protests and counter-protests — many triggered by events in and around Israel — are usually the most visible interactions, but they’re hardly the only instances of tension. 

Some recent examples: In June 2012, Pamela Geller, a New York-based Jewish blogger and co-founder of Stop the Islamization of America, an organization classified as a hate group by the Southern Poverty Law Center, was barred at the last minute from speaking inside the headquarters of The Jewish Federation of Greater Los Angeles — but not before local Muslim groups reportedly threatened to protest outside the Wilshire Boulevard building. 

In 2010, 11 Muslim students repeatedly heckled and interrupted Israeli Ambassador to the United States Michael Oren while he was speaking at UC Irvine, until the students were finally removed from the room. They were arrested, cited for disturbing a public event, and, the following year, 10 were convicted in a jury trial and sentenced to perform community service. 

Also in 2010, young supporters of Friends of the Israel Defense Forces, who attended a fundraiser at the Shangri La Hotel in Santa Monica, sued the hotel owner for violating their civil rights and allegedly saying, “I don’t want … any Jews in my pool.”  In 2012 a jury awarded damages to the FIDF plaintiffs in a lawsuit over the incident.

In 2006, leaders of the city’s most prominent Jewish organizations opposed giving a Los Angeles County humanitarian award to Dr. Maher Hathout, who is among the local Muslim community’s most respected leaders, on grounds that he had once maligned Israel as a “racist, apartheid state.”

And each spring, the debate over what constitutes free speech at California universities is reignited on every campus that holds a so-called “Israel Apartheid Week” or considers a resolution to boycott companies doing business in the Israeli-occupied West Bank. Although students are the ones speaking out on campuses — on both sides — often they are being coached and encouraged by much larger Jewish and Muslim organizations.

Within the Jewish community, even the simple act of acknowledging the shared humanity of Muslims and Jews can be perilous. In 2012, when the conflict between Israel and Hamas in the Gaza Strip escalated into battle, Rabbi Sharon Brous, spiritual leader of IKAR, expressed sympathy for both Israelis and Palestinians in a message to her congregants and was immediately, fiercely and publicly attacked for doing so by Rabbi Daniel Gordis of the Shalem Center in Jerusalem. Gordis argued that when Israel is at war, Jews should express support only for the Jewish state. Hardliners in the Muslim community similarly silence moderate voices on their side, as well. 

And yet, as in Israel, Jews and Muslims in Southern California often live, if not side by side, then just down the road from one another. So it is not surprising that those few who attempt to cross the chasm separating these faiths and peoples often find that Muslims and Jews share not just the same neighborhoods, but many of the same values.

Enter NewGround, an L.A. group that has made its mission to bridge the gap. For the past five years, this emerging organization has been housed at the epicenter of the city — in Los Angeles City Hall — where it has been creating encounters among young Muslims and Jews. Its tactic is to prioritize conversation over solutions, active listening over public statements, allowing for honest exchange instead of superficial agreement. 

NewGround already has forged deep relationships within its ever-expanding, carefully nurtured community of Muslims and Jews. And while differing views may continue to persist, NewGround’s training allows participants to acknowledge the conflict taking place half a world away without letting it limit all discussions here. 

“NewGround was founded precisely to overcome the tendency for international conflict to disrupt relationships locally,” Rabbi Sarah Bassin, the group’s executive director, said. “We treat conflict as an inherent part of this relationship, as it is part of all relationships.”

Each year, NewGround trains a group of fellows from the Jewish and Muslim communities who spend months together before beginning to talk about hot-button topics like Zionism or the movement known as BDS, which seeks to boycott, divest from and sanction Israel. Those topics are raised during the second of two weekend retreats, toward the end of the 10-month program, by which time the fellows have learned crucial new communication skills and covered the (not entirely safe) subject of religion. The delay can, at least initially, be frustrating for those who came to the program specifically to talk to their counterparts about Israel. 

“I didn’t trust the process; I thought it was a waste of time,” Eliana Kaya, a fellow from NewGround’s third cohort in 2010, said in an interview. She is now executive coordinator at reGeneration, a nonprofit that supports the progressive Waldorf method of education for Israelis and Palestinians. “I would go up [to the leaders] at the end of every session and say, ‘Yala, when are we going to get to the real stuff?’ ” 

Shukry Cattan, a member of the most recent fellowship class, also wondered about the program’s structure. “There was all this buildup, and, for me, I kept thinking, ‘OK, what is this? Why are we waiting to the end?’ ” said Cattan, who is of Palestinian descent. “I thought the conversation was going to happen sooner.”

But Kaya, a practicing Jew, and Cattan, the son of a Christian mother and a Muslim father, both came to see the value of having relationships with the other members of their cohort in place before beginning such a difficult conversation. 

“When it actually did happen, I understood the process,” Cattan said. “Having built that relationship with people and having seen each other — not even as Jews and Muslims — but people who have lives and stories to share, hearing people’s perspectives and each other’s very difficult experiences with the conflict — you couldn’t just walk away and dismiss that person’s story because you knew that person.”

Already, more than 100 Jewish and Muslim professionals, most in their 20s and 30s, have graduated from NewGround’s yearlong, intensive and innovative fellowship program, which teaches communication skills, builds friendships and gives members of each faith a window into the beliefs, practices and politics of the other. For its efforts, NewGround has received accolades and awards from the Jewish, Muslim and interfaith communities, and groups in other American cities have begun attempts to adapt the NewGround model for their own Muslim and Jewish communities. 

As the Muslim holy month of Ramadan nears its Aug. 7 close, the world is closely watching the first meetings between Palestinian and Israeli peace negotiators in more than two years. Yet regardless of what happens on the international stage, there’s also hope in what’s happening on the ground here in Los Angeles, where NewGround is building a foundation for open, ongoing communication between adversaries. 

The members of NewGround’s 2013 young professionals fellowship cohort pose for a picture after receiving their certificates of recognition and appreciation from the City of Los Angeles Human Relations Commission. Photo by http://cbacarellaphoto.com/

There are precedents, to be sure. In the 1990s, leaders of L.A.’s Muslim and Jewish communities met regularly under an umbrella known as the Muslim-Jewish Dialogue. Since 2006, a group of progressive Jewish, Muslim and Christian faith leaders have convened under the aegis of the Abrahamic Faiths Peacemaking Initiative, for meetings and events. 

NewGround is itself the outgrowth of a partnership formed in the post-9/11 early 2000s between two L.A.-based nonprofits, the Progressive Jewish Alliance (PJA) and the Muslim Public Affairs Council (MPAC), whose leaders first hoped to convene other Jewish and Muslim leaders, but had little success. Rather than turn away in failure, they turned to younger Jews and Muslims — tomorrow’s leaders.

At least nine die in Cairo violence, 2 killed in Sinai


Nine people were killed in Cairo on Tuesday in clashes between opponents and Islamist supporters of Egypt's deposed President Mohamed Morsi, state-run media reported, keeping the most populous Arab nation in turmoil.

The violence broke out before dawn near a Brotherhood protest at Cairo University, where Morsi supporters have been camped out since the army removed the Islamist politician from power on July 3 following protests against his rule.

The Brotherhood described it as an attack on peaceful protesters and blamed the killing on thugs backed by the Interior Ministry – an accusation a security official denied.

Police sources said hundreds of Morsi supporters clashed with local residents, street vendors and others near the sit-in. They said gunshots were fired and stones were thrown.

With the Brotherhood vowing to stay in the streets, the bloodshed was a fresh example of the instability facing Egypt as the newly installed interim government moves along an army-backed roadmap towards elections in about six months.

“The longer this standoff continues, the more hardened the positions become, and the more likelihood there is for violence, and oppression,” said Yasser el-Shimy, Egypt analyst with the International Crisis Group.

“It needs an urgent political deal or compromise and unfortunately we are not seeing any signs of that.”

The state-run Al-Ahram newspaper quoted a health ministry official as saying nine people had been killed and 33 wounded in the Cairo University clashes, while two wounded in fighting on Monday had died, bringing to 14 the number of deaths in violence between rival protesters in Egypt in the last two days.

At least 15 burned-out cars lay abandoned around the university area where the clashes took place. Splattered blood and broken glass disfigured the pavements near the shopping area where a traffic police station was set on fire.

Brotherhood members with sticks guarded the entrance to the protest site after the clashes calmed, while residents stopped cars on the road to Cairo University to check for weapons.

About 100 people have died in violence since the army deposed Morsi and replaced him with an interim administration led by the Adli Mansour, the head of the constitutional court. The Brotherhood accuses the army of orchestrating a coup.

It said on its website that seven “martyrs” had been killed overnight in two separate attacks on Morsi supporters, one at Cairo University and another during a march near a bigger round-the-clock sit-in in the north of the city.

Egypt's general prosecutor ordered 22 pro-Morsi protesters be detained for 15 days while they are investigated over accusations they attacked the ousted president's opponents in central Cairo on Monday, the state news agency said.

They are also accused of carrying unlicensed fire arms and ammunition, the report said.

BROTHERHOOD PROTESTERS “TERRORISED”

The Brotherhood vows to keep up its vigil until Morsi, held in an unknown location since the army ended his year in power as Egypt's first freely elected president, is reinstated.

“Leaders of the military coup continue to terrorize the peaceful protesters in Egypt,” the Brotherhood's Freedom and Justice Party said in a statement.

Morsi's family said on Monday it would sue the army for holding him without charge. The United States, which gives Egypt $1.3 billion a year in military aid, has called for Morsi's release and an end to “all politicized arrests and detentions”.

Some residents near the Islamist movement's main protest area in Nasr City have filed a complaint with the public prosecutor asking for the removal of the protesters. A security source said on Tuesday a court was expected to rule on the case soon “to give the army a legal basis to end the protests”.

The National Salvation Front, an alliance of liberal and leftist parties that supported Morsi's ouster, condemned what it described as attacks by Brotherhood supporters on protesters over the last three weeks.

In separate overnight clashes, a civilian and a policeman were killed in the lawless North Sinai region, near Egypt's borders with Israel and the Palestinian Gaza strip, where hardline Islamists have stepped up attacks on security forces.

A security vacuum following the 2011 uprising that ousted President Hosni Mubarak resulted in a surge of attacks in North Sinai. At least 20 people have been killed in militant violence there since Morsi's overthrow on July 3.

Israel has boosted its rocket defenses near its southern border with Egypt to counter possible attacks from Islamist militants there, Israeli officials said on Tuesday.

“We hear reports every day of attacks there and our concern is that the guns will be turned on us,” Israeli Defense Minister Moshe Yaalon said. “We have indeed strengthened our deployment along the border.”

Additional reporting by Yasmine Saleh and Ahmed Tolba in Cairo and Maayan Lubell and Dan Williams in Jerusalem; Editing by Alistair Lyon and Michael Roddy

Police fire tear gas in Cairo, U.S. envoy spurned by parties


Police fired tear gas in central Cairo on Monday when protesters calling for the reinstatement of the ousted Islamist president, Mohamed Morsi, scuffled with drivers and passers-by annoyed that they had blocked major roads.

Supporters of Morsi, Egypt's first freely elected president, threw rocks at police near Ramses Street, one of the capital's main thoroughfares, and on the Sixth of October Bridge over the Nile in the first outbreak of violence in Egypt in a week.

“It's the army against the people, these are our soldiers, we have no weapons,” said Alaa el-Din, a 34-year-old computer engineer, clutching a laptop.

“The army is killing our brothers, you are meant to defend me and you are attacking me. The army turned against the Egyptian people.”

While smaller in scale and more localized than previous clashes since Morsi was deposed by the military on July 3, scenes of running street battles will raise further concerns over stability in the Arab world's most populous country.

Eye witnesses said thousands of pro-Morsi demonstrators were in the area and police had used tear gas several times to try to control the crowd. A large fire was burning on the bridge, although the cause was not immediately clear.

The clashes came as the first senior U.S. official to visit Egypt since Morsi was toppled was snubbed by both Islamists and their opponents.

Large crowds mobilized by Morsi's Muslim Brotherhood movement gathered at various points in the city, including outside the Rabaa Adawiya mosque where they have held a three-week vigil, and at Cairo University.

The army warned demonstrators on Monday that it would respond with “the utmost severity and firmness and force” if they approached military bases.

At least 92 people were killed in the days after Morsi was toppled, more than half of them shot by troops outside a barracks near the mosque a week ago.

Protests since then had been tense but peaceful until Monday evening's developments.

U.S. ENVOY SHUNNED

The crisis in Egypt, which has a peace treaty with Israel and controls the strategic Suez Canal, has alarmed allies in the region and the West.

After meeting interim head of state Adli Mansour and Prime Minister Hazem el-Beblawi, U.S. Deputy Secretary of State William Burns insisted he was not in town “to lecture anyone”.

He arrived in a divided capital where both sides are furious at the United States, which supports Egypt with $1.5 billion a year in mostly military aid.

“Only Egyptians can determine their future. I did not come with American solutions. Nor did I come to lecture anyone,” Burns told a brief news conference. “We will not try to impose our model on Egypt.”

Washington, never comfortable with the rise of Morsi's Muslim Brotherhood, has so far refused to say whether it views Morsi's removal as a coup, which would require it to halt aid.

The State Department said Burns would meet “civil society groups” as well as government officials. But the Islamist Nour Party and the Tamarud anti-Morsi protest movement both said they had turned down invitations to meet him.

“First, they (the Americans) need to acknowledge the new system,” Tamarud founder Mahmoud Badr said. “Secondly, they must apologize for their support for the Muslim Brotherhood's party and terrorism. Then we can think about it,” he told Reuters.

In a further slight, Badr posted a copy of his invitation, including the U.S. embassy's telephone number, on the Internet.

Nour, sometime allies of Morsi's Brotherhood who have accepted the army takeover, said they had rejected meeting Burns because of “unjustified” U.S. meddling in Egypt's affairs.

The Brotherhood said it had no meeting planned with Burns, although it did not make clear if it had been invited.

“America are the ones who carried out the military coup,” Farid Ismail, a senior official in the Brotherhood's political arm, told Reuters. “We do not kneel for anyone, and we do not respond to pressure from anyone.”

If Burns had driven through the city centre a few miles away, he might have seen a giant banner with a portrait of U.S. ambassador Anne Patterson and the message “Go home, witch!” hung by Morsi's opponents.

INCOMMUNICADO

Morsi is being held incommunicado at an undisclosed location. He has not been charged with a crime but the authorities say they are investigating him over complaints of inciting violence, spying and wrecking the economy. Scores of Morsi supporters were rounded up after violence last week.

Many of the top Brotherhood figures have been charged with inciting violence but have not been arrested and are still at large. The public prosecutors' office announced new charges against seven Brotherhood and Islamist leaders on Monday.

Beblawi has been naming ministers for his interim cabinet, including a former ambassador to the United States as foreign minister, a sign of the importance Cairo places in its relationship with its superpower sponsor.

U.S.-educated economist Ahmed Galal, as finance minister, has the task of rescuing an economy and state finances wrecked by two and a half years of turmoil.

That task became easier, at least in the short term, after Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates and Kuwait – rich Gulf Arab states happy at the downfall of the Brotherhood – promised a total of $12 billion in cash, loans and fuel.

The new planning minister, Ashraf al-Arabi, said the Arab money would be enough to sustain Egypt through its transition period and it did not need to restart talks with the International Monetary Fund.

Egypt had sought $4.8 billion in IMF aid last year, but months of talks ran aground with the government unable to agree cuts in unaffordable subsidies for food and fuel. Arabi's comments could worry investors who want the IMF to spur reform.

Additional reporting by Ashraf Fahim, Peter Graff, Shadia Nasralla, Noah Browning, Ali Abdelaty, Patrick Werr, Maggie Fick, Yasmine Saleh and Mike Collett-White in Cairo and Arshad Mohammed in Washington; Writing by Mike Collett-White; Editing by Alastair Macdonald and Kevin Liffey