Google ordered to stop recommending anti-Semitic sites


A court in Buenos Aires has ordered Google to stop recommending anti-Semitic and racist websites to users.

The injunction issued May 17 comes following a complaint filed by several Jewish organizations. The decision came on the World Day of the Internet.

The court ordered Google to drop some 76 websites described in the complaint as “highly discriminatory,” including some that deny the Holocaust. Judge Carlos Molina Portela also ordered that advertisements be removed from those sites.

The request for the injunction was prepared by Observatorio Web, a joint initiative that the DAIA political umbrella organization of Argentina’s Jewish community, the Latin American Jewish Congress and the AMIA Jewish community center developed to combat discrimination on the web.

In December 2010, after Observatorio Web publicly denounced Google for its recommendation of the anti-Semitic and racist sites, the company wrote in its blog for Latin America: “Google is committed and works in every country in which it has presence, including Argentina, to prevent the proliferation of violent or racist content. This is not going to impede the appearing of groups or organizations who would wish for different policies or who have more restrictive criteria of freedom of speech.”

Alfredo Neuburger, a political adviser at the DAIA, told JTA: “The class action undertaken by the legal affairs department of DAIA against Google is unprecedented and the swift decision of the court has significant implications in the global struggle against anti-Semitism.”

Dating today is a menage a tech


Dating used to be so simple and straightforward. And yes, romantic! You’d be at a party and spot someone across the room. Your eyes would meet. You’d

glide toward each other, exchange repartee and, after dancing the night away, head back to your place for a good old-fashioned kiss goodnight.

After a few dates, you’d get involved, become an item, and then move in together. It was just the two of you. The happy couple. Alone. Together.

No more. The world has changed and so has dating. Today, when we date someone, it’s no longer just the two of us. No. Now, it’s always a threesome: you, him and that all-intrusive technology. It’s what I call a “Ménage à Tech.”

The ménage à tech is prevalent in every stage of dating. First, you log in to Internet dating sites. After perusing a gigabyte of singles, e-mailing and instant messaging for weeks, you actually find someone you want to hook up with … and arrange a date. Aha, romance is on the way!

You meet at Starbucks. Your eyes scour the room filled with people on their laptops until you see a familiar face. It’s your virtual date waiting for you. And in reality, he even looks like his photo! Smiling, you walk to the table, remove your earbuds and exchange hellos. You like each other and make a date for Saturday night.

That’s when your ménage à tech escalates. Your date takes you to a romantic, candle-lit restaurant. During dinner, his hand slips under the table. You shiver just thinking about him tenderly brushing your thigh. But alas, the touch never arrives. No. He’s text messaging! And checking e-mails on his Blackberry!

Still, he’s such a hottie. So when he invites you back to his place, you accept. But once there, does he cuddle up with you on the couch or snuggle in front of the fireplace? Uh-uh. He plops you down in front of his computer to show you his favorite YouTube videos, his myspace friends and check his eBay auctions! This guy is a heartbreaker.

After an hour of cyber play, he finally gets romantic. Mmmm, it’s heaven. So you keep dating. There are more dinners, movies and picnics … always accompanied by his trove of technology tools. Your ménage à tech is in full swing.

Then, on your one-month anniversary, he surprises you with a beautifully wrapped gift — his and her iPods. Terrific! Now you can listen to music together — separately!

Next, you move in together, but in the evenings — instead of sharing a bottle of wine, reading poetry or taking an amorous bubble bath — you both go to your individual computers. He has to backup some files, burn some CDs and download some upgrades. You have to upload some photos, publish your blog and post your podcast!

You’re living together, but spending your nights facing the back of each other’s computer screens. Your romance is at an all-time high — lots of memorable evenings with Dell and Mac. Instead of love letters, there are e-cards; instead of moonlight walks, there are tours on Google Earth. And instead of passionate love-making, it’s Berry-interruptus.

As the relationship continues, you’re spending more and more time on your own computers — and soon, you’re surreptitiously surfing Internet dating sites again! One night, you unwittingly “wink” at each other on www.LoversWithoutLaptops.com. Oops! You break up, and then the cycle starts again. You meet someone on the Internet and begin another ménage à tech.

Stop … please … don’t! Technology is wonderful, but it’s killing romance!

My recommendation? In addition to the hands-free law for cell phones while driving, I suggest a tech-free law for couples while dating. So turn off your phones, close your laptops and reboot your love-life.

And the next time someone answers the call of technology when you’re on a date — mute his ringtone, log him out and delete his hard drive!

Marilyn Anderson is the author of “Never Kiss a Frog: A Girl’s Guide to Creatures from the Dating Swamp” (Red Rock Press, 2003). Her web site is www.neverkissafrog.com.

Happiness — maybe it’s not ‘out there’


It all started with the phone call from my Jewish mother in the Philadelphia suburbs about five years ago: “My friend’s son is moving to L.A. I think he has an on-again-off-again girlfriend. But, he’s cute and nice. Anyway, he’s going to call you for coffee.” Innocent enough, or so I thought. Then, as the hours flew by and the age of 28 approached from around the corner, a cold sweat bathed my East Coast family. My 24-year-old first cousin announced her engagement to a nice lawyer from George Washington University.

Here I was across the country, no family, in grad school, living on loans, virtually dateless and in emotional recovery from a Beverly Hills player who thought marriage proposals were a game.

We were entering the danger zone, ladies and gentleman.

It was time to call in the big guns. The yentas held a conference, and mission “marry my Jewish daughter before age 30” began. My cousin’s friend, the pediatrician, was going to call; my dad paid for me to go wine tasting in Malibu; and my Pilates teacher knew a great single Jewish tow-truck driver.

That was around the time I had a nervous breakdown. I knew I didn’t need any help or handouts. I was a smart, attractive, independent woman, and I knew I could find my true love online in a week if I were really serious about it. I posted a profile.

The concept that even Frankenstein got married would often dance through my sleepless head after each grueling online date or night out at a bar. When the 5-foot-tall doctor who had posted a picture of his 6-foot-tall brother asked me to split the bill for coffee, I knew it was time to take a break. Why was there so much pressure? Thirty is just a number. Who really cares? Madonna had kids in her 40s, and look at Demi Moore.

My friends and therapist told me it was “them,” not me. There was nothing wrong with me. I just needed to get out there. That was when it dawned on me, after a yoga class, that maybe “out there” was really just a reflection of what was “in here.” Maybe my frenetic coffee shop drive-bys, obsessively long elliptical workouts by my gym’s basketball court and late-night strolls down the produce aisle weren’t going to help me find what I was searching for “out there.”

That was when something miraculous happened.

Nope. I’m not going to tell some Pollyanna story about how I stopped looking and then found my soul mate at the gas station. The truth is simple. I gave up searching outside myself and committed to my passion.

It was like I had some sort of biblical experience. I was on the plane returning to Los Angeles when it hit me. I knew exactly what I had to do. I was just a couple classes shy of my master’s degree in psychology and had been counseling individuals and couples in a local Jewish agency for about a year.

I had been on more than 200 first dates in Los Angeles.

I’d learned exactly what I was not looking for.

My experience skimming through online profiles helped me master the art and science of weeding out Mr. Wrong with one questionable sentence or phone message. I helped a bunch of my guy friends write profiles and watched as they single-handedly, consistently met girls and got engaged.

All my friends already had been calling me for relationship advice every day since high school. With my background in psychology and the positive growth I saw from working with my clients, I realized that I had what it took to help singles out there save their Jewish mothers from the schpilkes that kept mine up at night. I focused on helping other singles in my psychotherapy practice.

Over the years I have helped young, shy guys find their inner chutzpah, those with poor self-images gain the self confidence to write delete-proof profiles, and I realized that so many of us just want to find the same thing, but our own fear and self-doubt makes us question the ones who see our true inner beauty. As I have helped my clients get past their emotional blocks, I have seen them find what they want. It was like clockwork.

I began to wake up each morning like a woman in love.

That was when the words my grandmother always spoke came true. Yup. This one annoying doctor who kept calling finally met me for coffee one morning. My grandmother said I’d find him when I was not looking. I couldn’t stand this guy over the phone, and I had little to no faith in online matchmaking. But something magical happened that day as our morning coffee turned into a ride up the coast and a lovely dinner in Malibu.

I was skeptical when he told me at the end of the night that he had a feeling we would be spending a lot of time together. Yet, somehow we have been talking every day since. And the love I sought from outside for so long, grew and grew as my commitment to my own success and joy filled up any emptiness or lacking.

Yes, I found my soul mate when I fell in love with my own life – although it happened several months after turning 30.

The moral of my story can best be summed up in my yoga revelation. Stop looking “out there” for the life you want. The happiness you seek is already “in here.”

Live passionately while you are single and life will have a funny way of delivering your heart’s desire – when your heart is already full.


Alisa Ruby is a psychotherapist, a part-time school counselor at Malibu High School and a freelance writer.

The Tangled Web


Google got you down?

Looking for that special Jewish link and have to sift through dozens of unrelated Web sites — or even worse, anti-Semitic ones — just to find what you’re looking for?

It’s probably old news to report that there are specialized Jewish search engines — there have been since the earliest days of the Web — but there are still new ones emerging.

Machers.com, an all-Jewish search engine, recently joined the fray of Jewish sites with technology that can search tens of thousands of Jewish and Israeli Web sites, allowing users to search within the Jewish Web, as well as within the world of Jewish bloggers. (You know what they say: two Jews, three bloggers).

Machers.com joins a growing list of Web sites that purport to be the Jewish search engine, from zipple.com to JewGotIt.com to Jewish.com. (Some popular ones are already defunct, like the Golem search engine.) In addition to the all-things Jewish search engines, there are also even more narrower niche engines and Web sites hosting links, such as Ahuva.com, the worldwide directory of synagogues, shuls, temples, federations and foundations (jewishdirectory.com); “Jewish Reunion UK,” a finder service for Jews looking for friends and relatives with a United Kingdom connection; and the All Kosher Index, a database of Kashrut organizations, mikvahs and kosher restaurants throughout the world .

Speaking of kosher search engines, the Orthodox Union (OU) recently announced its own Kosher search feature on its Web site www.oukosher.org. Not only does it list all OU-certified products, but it allows consumers and companies to search through ingredients to see if they’re kosher.

Rabbi Yonatan Kaganoff, rabbinic coordinator and marketing specialist for OU Kosher, said that the site can aid companies searching for a kosher acid or enzyme. Stearic acid, for example, is often used in vitamins but can be manufactured from a beef derivative. He added that even if a company uses all-kosher ingredients, its product can’t be OU certified until it is applied and reviewed by OU.

 

Raising Concerns About Patriot Act


Two years after the USA Patriot Act became law, Jewish groups are still searching for the balance between law enforcement and civil liberties.

The passage of the legislation in the aftermath of the Sept. 11, 2001 terrorist attacks divided Jewish groups who were ambivalent about the legislation from allies in the civil-rights community that immediately sought to have the law revoked.

The central reason for the Jewish groups’ hesitancy to defend civil liberties — one of the causes Jews generally champion — is that the act’s provisions were designed to target groups viewed as hostile to Jews.

"We can’t ignore the fact that every Jewish community is threatened by terrorism," said Michael Lieberman, Washington counsel of the Anti-Defamation League.

Now, however, Jews are among those behind new legislation that would curtail some of the expanded powers the Patriot Act granted law-enforcement authorities.

On Sept. 24, Rep. Bob Filner (D-Calif.), who is Jewish, joined Rep. Dennis Kucinich (D-Ohio) and other lawmakers and civil-rights groups to introduce a new bill called the "Benjamin Franklin True Patriot Act," which would repeal many of the Patriot Act’s provisions.

The new legislation, Kucinich said, balances liberty and safety.

"There is a sentiment in Congress to move to challenge this idea that we have to forsake the Bill of Rights in order to be safe," said Kucinich, a Democratic candidate for president.

He is supported by many civil rights groups, including the American Civil Liberties Union, the NAACP and the Council on American-Islamic Relations.

Kucinich was also joined by the Religious Action Center for Reform Judaism, one of the first Jewish groups to speak out against the Patriot Act.

Mark Pelavin, the RAC’s associate director, said his organization does not officially endorse every provision of the proposed legislation but agrees that the bill addresses concerns the Reform movement has raised about the Patriot Act.

While Jewish law allows for the infringement of individual privacy when lives are at stake, those intrusions should be as limited as possible, Pelavin said.

"We must be vigilant in ensuring that our effort to destroy terrorism does not undermine the very liberties that make this country worth celebrating and protecting," he said.

Privately, some Jewish activists admit that had law enforcement used the tools in the original Patriot Act to target a minority other than Arabs or Muslims, Jewish opposition to the legislation might have been more pronounced.

Provisions in the bill, such as the freezing of terrorist assets and new rules for border crossing, can be used by law-enforcement authorities to protect Jews, Lieberman said.

"Every congregant who walks through a synagogue" in the Jewish holiday season "will walk past security guards and cameras," he said. "This has an impact on the analysis we do on tools we want law enforcement to have."

The law updated procedures to allow police to track new technology, such as cellular phones and e-mail. It also removed barriers that prevented information-sharing between local and national law-enforcement agencies.

Post-Sept. 11, intelligence groups said those barriers hampered cooperation that might have helped anticipate the Sept. 11 attacks. Civil libertarians say the barriers, which were in place since the 1970s, prevented spying on U.S. citizens.

Proponents of the legislation say the provisions in the Patriot Act are essential for staying ahead of present-day threats of terrorism and for updating law-enforcement tools that were crafted to fight the Mafia, not terrorist networks.

Critics say the new laws reverse traditional American notions that a suspect is innocent until proven guilty and has a right to counsel.

Rep. Filner said, "I have constituents in jail without charges, without their family officially knowing what’s going on."

Pelavin says many of his constituents in the Reform movement are unsettled by a perceived threat to civil liberties. He hopes that Kucinich’s legislation will start a dialogue about the Patriot Act and its effect on individual rights.

"I think many people are concerned that some of the provisions this bill targets do not contribute to security," he said.

Other Jewish groups are hearing the same thing. Some Jewish community-relations councils are backing referenda seeking to recall the legislation.

Some Jewish leaders support the repeal of individual provisions of the law but will not call the entire bill a failure.

"It certainly has not been our position that the USA Patriot Act is a perfect document," said Richard Foltin, legislative director of the American Jewish Committee. "If we were not in the middle of a war on terrorism, there would be different judgments made."

That led the AJCommittee to back a sunset for the bill that would force Congress to re-examine the Patriot Act after several years. They also support a bill that would repeal some specific Patriot Act provisions, such as the "sneak and peek" law, which allows delayed notification for search warrants.

Kucinich says the Patriot Act was rushed through Congress before members could take a full accounting of its implications. Jewish groups make the same argument, saying that time has allowed them to better understand the act and the way law enforcement uses the provisions.

"The impact, both emotionally and security-wise, of 9/11 was so big that America needed time and needed to be able to sort out the pieces of it," said Reva Price, Washington representative of the Jewish Council for Public Affairs.

Even with such reservations, Jewish groups also are wary of Kucinich’s strident tone.

Jews may be frustrated with some actions of Attorney General John Ashcroft, but they don’t want to demonize him, because they believe he is sincere in wanting the bill purely because it is a helpful tool to guard against terrorism.

Jewish groups also are eager to examine new legislation Ashcroft wants, including his Patriot Act II, which would give law enforcement more tools for homeland security protection. Jewish leaders say the approach is piecemeal, separating what is necessary for security from what is superfluous.

What’s clear, Jewish groups say, is that such considerations are uncharted territory. While opponents compare the Patriot Act to the herding of Japanese into detention camps during World War II and other violations of civil liberties, Lieberman says the difference now is that the threat is real, not perceived.

"You have to start from the idea that terrorism is different," he said. "You are not trying to find the criminal, because the criminal may kill himself. You are trying to prevent the crime."

Damaged Goods


Have you ever noticed how people who buy a newspaper from a coin-operated rack tend to ignore the top paper, and dig down for the second or third copy?

It’s basically an attempt to get a more pristine copy, for fear that the top copy may be damaged or missing something. Many folks grab their fruit from the supermarket pile in the same way.

Such habits can often appear in the dating world, too. Of course, people want someone unmarried and therefore available. But if the person has been unmarried for too long, the doubts creep in: What’s wrong that person?

It’s not an unreasonable question. After all, the usual course of action is to get married in one’s 20s or 30s. And while it’s become more common for people to stay unmarried well into their 40s and beyond (and, of course, some never marry), many people find that hard to deal with.

“I can’t believe you’ve never been married!” is something I’ve heard a number of times lately. The comment does not seem to reflect “You’re such a prize, why haven’t you been snapped up already?” but rather, “That’s so abnormal. What’s wrong with you, anyway?” The unspoken suspicion: Damaged Goods.

There’s no real easy answer. I never expected to be in my late 40s in this way, and am certainly not against being married. In fact, the idea is more appealing now than when I was younger. I’ve had some lengthy relationships, and was even engaged briefly. But the situations weren’t right, with some key differences that weren’t able to resolve to both parties’ satisfaction — in other words, not Happily Ever After — and the various dates along the way were, simply put, not the right people to marry.

I’ve known and dated some fine women, as well as some that were way wrong. It’s the usual slow process of kissing all those frogs (or frogettes) and trying to find the right person — it’s just that more time has elapsed in the process than the norm. It’s easy to begin to feel freakish. My consolation is that in my age bracket there are lots of others in the same boat, and we don’t feel so freakish among ourselves. Usually.

Those of us in our upper 40s to mid-50s came of age at a time of changes in social patterns and expectations, questioning of established habits and confused personal explorations. For example, in my high school class, “The Prom” was looked upon with far more disdain than generations before or after — it was too uncool for the Woodstock era. Dorky, even. Getting married and having babies was even somewhat alarming for those who matured as Earth Day started up and global overpopulation reached consciousness.

About half the women I’ve dated in the last few years are “Never-marrieds.” Almost all of them had the chance — they were either engaged or involved long-term relationships.

Sometimes they regret that they didn’t marry so-and-so. And most of them still like the idea of getting married. But there is comfort in knowing that someone else is also a Never-married, that the insinuations of abnormality from friends and relatives are cushioned by the numbers of other singles in similar circumstances.

All this isn’t to say that the thought, “What’s wrong with you?” doesn’t come up even within Never-marrieds, or that it doesn’t sometimes have merit. There are plenty of mama’s boys, spoiled princesses, neurotics, obsessive-compulsives and so forth. Of course, there are plenty of those types who did get married, too. (Just ask their spouses!)

But there are also many decent singles who simply haven’t found the right person. Maybe their job was unstable, or their career was building. Or their looks won’t get them into any Abercrombie & Fitch ads. Or there was a dependent family member needing caretaking. Or they lived in Palmdale and nobody would date them. Or they saw marriages that ended badly and became gun-shy.

Plus, it’s just so difficult to meet decent people, especially in the West, with so much individuality and car-bound isolation. Many speak of Jewish singles events with dread, full of people either too withdrawn, or too phony and aggressive. JDate? Many people aren’t honest in their online profiles. Synagogues? Not very encouraging to singles. Special-interest groups such as for hiking? Good to meet another hiker, but there’s so much more to finding a soulmate.

Grabbing the wrong person just to say you’ve gotten married might’ve been a course of action a generation ago. But most singles today would rather retain a bit more hope, more money and fewer lawyers — and wait for a better situation. Or a dog.

And so the search goes on. And on. And time goes by.


Steve Greenberg is an editorial
cartoonist and artist in Ventura County who contributes cartoons and
illustrations to the Jewish Journal. His e-mail is steve@greenberg-art.com
.