November 18, 2018

Women’s March Denver Condemns National Women’s March Leadership Over Farrakhan Ties

The Women’s March Denver chapter issued a statement on Wednesday condemning the national Women’s March leadership over their ties to Nation of Islam leader Louis Farrakhan.

The Denver chapter, which goes by the name Womxn’s March to show solidarity with “cis, transgender and non-binary individuals,” wrote that they condemn “anti-Semitism and the National Women’s March leadership team’s failure to clearly disassociate from anti-Semitic public figures. “

“Womxn’s March Denver is an independent VOLUNTEER grassroots team of local Colorado women,” they continued. “We are not affiliated with the national Women’s March organization. We oppose all forms of oppression and operate from an intersectional lens. We stand in solidarity with all marginalized communities and ask that those communities stand together with us against oppression in all its forms.”

Amanda Berman, co-founder of the Zioness Movement, told the Journal in an emailed statement, “Zioness applauds the Women’s March in Denver for unequivocally denouncing Women’s March leaders for their hateful rhetoric and their continued association with bigots and anti-Semites like Louis Farrakhan. We are grateful for their principled commitment to fighting anti-Semitism, including within the national Women’s March organization, even when that stance puts them at odd with some self-appointed organizers of the movement.”

“Zioness knows that we, as committed progressives and unabashed Zionists, do not have to check any part of our identity at the door in order to show up to fight for women’s issues in America––and we’re thrilled that Denver leaders know it too,” Berman added. “Zioness will be organizing a significant presence at the next Women’s March in Denver and from coast-to-coast, engaging our more than 18 chapters and thousands of participants. As part of this work, Zioness will be hosting a series of pre-march ‘teach-ins” that bring light to the issues facing Jewish women in a time of skyrocketing anti-Semitism.’”

Actresses Alyssa Milano and Debra Messing have both said that they will not participate in the Women’s March because their leaders have been unwilling to condemn Farrakhan.

The national Women’s March issued the following statement regarding Farrakhan on Nov. 8:

Messing ‘Stands’ With Milano on Not Participating in Women’s March

Photo from Wikimedia Commons.

Actress Debra Messing has said that she “stands” with actress Alyssa Milano in refusing to participate in the Women’s March over their leaders’ warmth toward anti-Semite Louis Farrakhan.

Milano told The Advocate on Oct. 30 that  she wouldn’t participate in the Women’s March because “none of them have come forward against him [Farrakhan] at this point.”

On Nov. 8, Messing quote tweeted The Advocate story about Milano and wrote, “I stand with you @Alyssa_Milano.”

The Women’s March issued the following statement on Nov. 8:

The Zioness Movement said in a statement, “Zioness rejects the divisive examples of Linda Sarsour, Tamika Mallory and others who claim to be ‘leaders’ of women, while they continue to support anti-Semitic, homophobic figures like Farrakhan and make consistent efforts to demonize the Jewish community in progressive spaces. We refuse to be intimidated by their attempts to exclude progressive Zionists from spaces like the Women’s March.”

A Case of A Silent, Deadly #MeToo in New York

Among the many tragedies of the past couple of weeks, on Oct. 24 the bodies of two young Saudi Arabian sisters were found near the Hudson River, bound together with duct tape. They had been seen that morning in nearby Riverside Park, praying.

Police are still investigating but suspect the sisters’ deaths were a double suicide. Rotana Farea, 22, and Tala Farea, 16, had moved to Fairfax, Va., with their family in 2015. Rotana was enrolled at George Mason University. They ran away last December and entered a domestic violence shelter after reportedly telling authorities that they were being physically abused at home. They then left the shelter without notice in August. 

The sisters had applied for political asylum, and seemingly because of that, their mother received a call from the Saudi consulate ordering the family to return to Saudi Arabia, according to news reports. Officials at the consulate denied the allegations and told reporters that they had hired an attorney to “follow the case closely.”

Two days later, the girls were found dead. According to the police, the girls said they would rather die than return to Saudi Arabia, where they would most likely be forced into arranged marriages.

The day the news broke, my Yemenite neighbor, Waseif Qahatan, came to my apartment in tears. “I could have saved them,” she said. 

Qahatan was a child bride at the age of 14. She had been sold to the highest bidder, her cousin. Though born and raised in the Bronx, that summer she went back to Yemen to wed. Her father received $80,000 in return.

“I believed it was a ‘regular marriage,’ but the truth was, it was indentured slavery,” said Qahatan, now 32. “I was not a wife but a slave to my husband, a slave to medieval rules, a slave to my family’s wishes.”

“When I could no longer handle the pressures, I reached out to local authorities. I was told nothing could be done because I was a minor. So, I was old enough to be married but not old enough to have a say about my body or my life.”

After having her first child at 18, Qahatan was finally granted a divorce at age 20. She was back in the U.S., but a year later was stuck in a second arranged marriage. After her second child, she ran away with her children to a domestic violence shelter. “Although I was very much alone, I finally felt free,” she said.

It is another, silent, deadly #MeToo. Physical abuse, rape, stoning, honor killing — all continue to be standard practice in religious Muslim communities around the world. But because cultural relativism is a big part of leftist ideology, many feminists remain silent on the issue. Linda Sarsour, leader of the “Women’s March,” has so far had zero to say on the Saudi suicides. 

The New York Times ran a story about the tragedy that happened just miles from its offices —and then nothing. No editorials, no op-eds, nada. President Trump couldn’t be blamed for it, so why bother?

Earlier this year, Qahatan started a nonprofit called After the Veil that is geared to help young girls needing to escape abusive families or forced marriages. She posted her mission on the organization’s website at AfterTheVeil.com: “Give a voice to Arab American women in order to empower them. Provide these women with a safe haven and the resources necessary to reach their full potential.”  Further on the website, Qahatan says the location of her organization’s safe house is kept secret to protect the women staying there. 

“Arabic girls all over the world feel they have no options,” Qahatan told me. “The conditioning of Arabic culture is that of suppression and silencing the voices of those who need to be heard the most.”

She remains upset that her nonprofit wasn’t further along to help the Saudi girls, but their deaths have given her renewed focus.

“These girls had made a decision, so they were not praying for themselves but praying for girls like them to one day have a chance, to live a life of freedom,” she said. “I have fought all my life and will continue to fight against the idea that females cannot have power. To girls in this situation, I say hold on. Help is coming.”


Karen Lehrman Bloch is an author and cultural critic living in New York City.

Milano Won’t Participate in Women’s March Because Leaders Won’t Denounce Farrakhan

Photo from Wikimedia Commons.

Actress Alyssa Milano, a prominent figure in the #MeToo movement, said on Wednesday that she would not participate in the Women’s March because its leaders won’t denounce Nation of Islam leader Louis Farrakhan.

Milano told The Advocate that she was “disappointed” in the Women’s March leaders for their warmth toward Farrakhan. When asked if she would appear at the Women’s March and speak, Milano responded, “I would say no at this point.”

“Unfortunate that none of them have come forward against him [Farrakhan] at this point,” Milano said, “or even given a really good reason why to support them.”

Milano had spoken at the Women’s March in January 2018.

Women’s March leader Tamika Mallory had appeared at a Nation of Islam event in March, where Farrakhan referred to Jews as part of the “Synagogue of Satan”; Mallory and other Women’s March leaders Linda Sarsour and Carmen Perez have all posted “laudatory” things on social media about Farrakhan, according to Anti-Defamation League CEO Jonathan Greenblatt.

The Women’s March has not responded to the Journal’s request for comment as of publication time.

Farrakhan Leads Chants of ‘Death to America,’ ‘Death to Israel’ in Iran

Nation of Islam leader and anti-Semite Louis Farrakhan led chants of “Death to America” and “Death to Israel” while in Iran over the weekend.

Farrakhan was critical of the Trump administration’s re-imposition of sanctions against Iran in a speech at Tehran University, calling it a “big mistake.” He also told Iran, “If you don’t work to end the division inside Iran, you will not survive the sanctions,” with “the division” being a likely reference to the anti-regime protests in Iran.

Toward the end of his speech, Farrakhan began leading chants of “Death to America” and “Death to Israel” in Farsi:

In a meeting with Iranian Expediency Council Secretary Mohsen Rezaei, Farrakhan said, “I understand how the enemies have plotted against the Iranian people and I would like to stay alongside you to stop their plots.”

Rabbi Shmuley Boteach tweeted in response:

Farrakhan also praised the Iranian regime in a 2016 visit to the country, where he said, “I would hope that at this later stage, where you are now coming out from under sanctions—sanctions that were designed by the West to destroy the revolutionary spirit of the Iranian people, and cause the Iranian people to rise up against their government. But thanks to Allah, the people of Iran stood firmly with their leadership. And the sanctions only caused Iran to look deep within itself. And now those sanctions are being lifted, but Iran is stronger, Iran is wiser, Iran is more influential.”

Farrakhan has also praised Iran’s terror proxy, Hezbollah, as “freedom fighters.”

The Nation of Islam leader has connections to various Democrats, most notably Deputy Democratic National Committee (DNC) chairman Rep. Keith Ellison (Minn.), and has been praised by leaders of the Women’s March. The Women’s March had not responded to the Journal’s request for comment at publication time.

UPDATE: The Anti-Defamation League (ADL) has published a blog post about Farrakhan’s Iran visit that can be read here.

Ben & Jerry’s Partners With Women’s March, Says Ties to Farrakhan Are Irrelevant

Screenshot from Twitter.

Ben & Jerry’s announced that they were releasing a new ice cream flavor, Pecan Resist, to protest the Trump administration. They are partnering with the Women’s March, whose leaders have ties to Louis Farrakhan.

The ice cream giant’s website states that the Pecan Resist flavor consists of chocolate ice cream, pecans, walnuts, almonds and chunks of fudge.

“We can peacefully resist the Trump administration’s regressive and discriminatory policies and build a future that values inclusivity, equality, and justice for people of color, women, the LGBTQ community, refugees, and immigrants,” the website reads. “Pecan Resist supports four organizations that are working on the front lines of the peaceful resistance, building a world that supports their values.”

One of those progressive organizations is the Women’s March; the others are Color of Change, Honor the Earth and Neta.

Another section of Ben & Jerry’s website calls the Women’s March “a dramatic display of our country at its very best.”

However, Independent Journal Review (IJR) noted that the Women’s March leaders have ties to Louis Farrakhan, who recently referred to Jews as “termites.” Anti-Defamation League (ADL) CEO Jonathan Greenblatt criticized Women’s March leaders Linda Sarsour, Tamika Mallory and Carmen Perez over Farrakhan in March.

“Consider that in the audience at last weekend’s conference was Tamika Mallory, one of the leaders of the Women’s March, who got a special shout-out from Farrakhan and who regularly posts laudatory pictures of him on her Instagram account — as does Carmen Perez, another leader of the March,” Greenblatt wrote. “Linda Sarsour, another March organizer, spoke and participated at a Nation of Islam event in 2015. Her most notable response to his incendiary remarks this year was a glowing post on Perez’s Facebook page to praise Farrakhan’s youthful demeanor.”

When asked by IJR about the Women’s March leaders’ ties to Farrakhan, a spokeswoman told them:

“We’re comfortable with the idea that the people and the causes we partner with may have a point of view different from our own on some issues. They can be controversial, just as we can. Linda may not agree with everything we’ve done. But the work that she has done to promote women’s rights, as co-chair of the Women’s March, is undeniably important and we are proud to join her in that effort.”

They included a statement from Women’s March’s Linda Sarsour: “We recommit ourselves to dismantling anti-Semitism and all forms of racism.”

Additionally:

When asked if the company has a position on Farrakhan, the Ben & Jerry’s spokeswoman told IJR, “No. We are focusing our efforts toward women empowerment.”

When asked by the Journal about the aforementioned paragraph in the IJR report, Ben & Jerry’s spokesperson Laura Peterson told the Journal in an email that it was in “response to Farrakhan’s remarks in the context of today’s release of our new flavor.”

“The two are not related at all, so I said no,” Peterson said.

In September, the co-founders of Ben & Jerry’s announced that they were going to introduce seven new ice cream flavors that promote seven specific Democratic candidates in the 2018 midterm elections.

“We need to come up with seven amazing ice cream flavors (and flavor names) that not only taste great but also capture the essence of what each candidate stands for,” the co-founders said on MoveOn.org’s website.

Sarsour Calls ADL ‘Purveyor of Islamophobia,’ Report Says

Screenshot from Twitter.

UPDATE:

The ADL responded to Linda Sarsour in a statement sent to the Journal:

ADL fights hate in all its forms including anti-Semitism, racism and Islamophobia. We do this through tracking extremists and white supremacists, through our anti-bias programs and through enacting federal and state hate crimes laws across the country. We advocate at the local, state and federal level on a range of issues related to ending racial bias and discrimination in policing and the criminal justice system.

Linda Sarsour has completely mischaracterized and distorted what our law enforcement programs actually do. We are proud to work with law enforcement in the U.S. in an effort to counter terrorism, domestic extremism, hate crimes and implicit bias. Our annual law enforcement mission to Israel provides a few dozen senior law enforcement officials with an opportunity to learn first-hand how police in Israel respond to terror attacks. The curriculum includes trips to Yad Vashem and meeting with a diverse group of members of Israeli civil society. 

ORIGINAL:

Women’s March leader Linda Sarsour criticized the Anti-Defamation League (ADL) as a “purveyor of Islamophobia” earlier in the month, according to a new report from the Investigative Project on Terrorism (IPT).

Sarsour uttered the aforementioned statement about the ADL during a panel at the Islamic Society of North America (ISNA)’s 2018 convention and criticized the ADL for bringing police officers to Israel for training.

“If you are part of a criminal justice reform movement, if you believe in the idea of ending police brutality and the misconduct of law enforcement officers across the country, then you do not support an organization that takes police officers from America, funds their trips, takes them to Israel so they can be trained by the Israeli police and military, and then they come back here and do what?” Sarsour said. “Stop and frisk, killing unarmed black people across the country.”

Chris McIlvain, the assistant police chief in Austin, Texas, told IPT that he attended the 2015 training that Sarsour was referencing and that what she described was not accurate:

There was no tactical training and no discussion of forceful or coercive techniques, he said. Police departments must maintain “a state of readiness” for all kinds of threats, from mass shootings to terrorist attacks. Israel has experience with these challenges that can be helpful to police departments here.

“The ADL is a good partner of law enforcement combating hate crimes of all types,” McIlvain said. “The idea is not to divert hate from one group to another, it’s to eliminate it.”

Sarsour called the ADL “an anti-Arab, anti-Palestinian organization that peddles Islamophobia and attacks America’s prominent Muslim orgs and activists” in an April Facebook post when it was announced that the ADL was going to take part in Starbucks’ anti-bias training.

Rabbi Jill Jacobs, executive director of T’ruah, told the Times of Israel, “The ADL has always understood that fighting anti-Semitism is inherently tied to fighting racism, xenophobia and Islamophobia.”

ADL CEO Jonathan Greenblatt has criticized Sarsour and other Women’s March leaders for their connection to Louis Farrakhan’s Nation of Islam.

The ADL has not responded to the Journal’s request for comment.

Time’s Up for Faux Liberals

Photo from Wikimedia Commons.

“Farrakhan has pulled the cover off the eyes of the Satanic Jew and I’m here to say your time is up, your world is through,” Louis Farrakhan, referring to himself in the third person, told a cheering Nation of Islam crowd of thousands in Chicago a couple of weeks ago.

How nice that Farrakhan, 84, has been able to stay rhetorically on trend. Actually, his genocidal bigotry is so on trend that Tamika Mallory, one of the leaders of the Women’s March, was shocked — shocked! — that anyone would care that she attended this largely anti-Semitic rally, that she would get a shoutout from the good minister, and even pose for a photo with him on Instagram afterward.

Truth be told, Mallory had every reason to be shocked. When co-leader Linda Sarsour said that anti-Semitism is “not systemic,” that you can’t be a feminist and a Zionist — when she publicly embraced terrorist Rasmea Odeh — there was barely a peep from those left of center.

In fact, the unpleasant reality that Sarsour and co-leader Carmen Perez also have close ties to Farrakhan — the man the Anti-Defamation League calls “the leading anti-Semite in America”—didn’t stir any pot either.

So, why would Mallory think that the normalization of hate against Jews — a key part of the “intersectionality” that the Women’s March quartet touts — would cause such a ruckus?

What Mallory wasn’t counting on was the fact that Farrakhan’s blatant focus on Jews — not Zionists and Israel — would actually motivate the normally silent to open their mouths. Jews on the far left are often called self-haters for kowtowing to the likes of Sarsour. But clearly it’s not self-hatred — it’s more like they’re happy to hide behind an anti-Zionist cover when needed: regressive chic at its finest.

Not standing up for your own people for the sake of status is just as faux liberal as condoning hatred. So it’s good to know that when push comes to genocide, left-of-center Jews will not be silent. We can now call this the Farrakhan Line: Jews on the left will put their foot down when Israel is not mentioned.

Words, as Jews know in their veins, have consequences.

Indeed, a month before Farrakhan’s speech, the ADL published a report showing that 2017 saw a 67 percent rise in anti-Jewish hate speech, harassment, vandalism and violence.

This seems like a good opportunity to distinguish real liberals from faux liberals, whether they call themselves progressives or leftists or socialists.

Remarkably, the Wikipedia definition of liberalism has remained intact: “Liberalism is a political philosophy founded on ideas of liberty and equality. Liberals espouse a wide array of views … but generally support [the principles of] freedom of speech, freedom of the press, freedom of religion, free markets, civil rights, democratic societies, secular governments, and gender equality.”

Not standing up for your own people for the sake of status is just as faux liberal as condoning hatred.

This is the key line: Liberals espouse a wide array of views. Meaning, you and I can disagree on how to enforce, for instance, freedom of speech. But if you don’t stand for the principle of freedom of speech, you can’t call yourself a liberal. (Social justice warriors on campus, please take note.)

And speaking of words, I’ve been increasingly seeing the word “gaslighting” in relation to President Donald Trump. Gaslighting is “a form of manipulation that seeks to sow seeds of doubt … in members of a targeted group, hoping to make them question their own memory, perception, and sanity. Using persistent denial, misdirection, contradiction, and lying, it attempts to destabilize the target and delegitimize the target’s belief.”

Personally, I don’t see this as a conscious or unconscious Trump tactic. But I very much see this as a progressive/leftist tactic. From baseless attacks on Israel to Holocaust denial/minimization, to outright Jew hatred, progressives/leftists are, consciously or not, trying to gaslight Jews.

And so, I ask my fellow liberals: Why are you so desperate to be included in these “progressive” groups? Why not work to restrengthen the liberal center? Liberalism, by definition, includes both feminism and Zionism.

And I say to the leaders of the Women’s March: Time’s up for faux liberals and faux feminists.


Karen Lehrman Bloch is a cultural critic and author.

Not All Anti-Semitism Is Created Equal

Photo from Wikimedia Commons.

This week, we found out once and for all that the dominant philosophy of the modern left — intersectionality — has no place for Jews. What else can we conclude after watching the spectacle of leftists from all walks defend the leaders of the Women’s March for their association with open anti-Semite and Nation of Islam leader Louis Farrakhan?

In February, Women’s March co-chair Tamika Mallory was caught on tape attending the Savior’s Day service with Farrakhan. At that service, Farrakhan stated, “The powerful Jews are my enemy,” adding, “Satan is going down. And Farrakhan, by God’s grace, has pulled the cover off of that Satanic Jew, and I’m here to say your time is up, your world is through.” Farrakhan has famously praised Adolf Hitler.

Mallory still hasn’t apologized for her association with Farrakhan, instead defending her Nation of Islam connections by stating that she’s been attending such events for 30 years. She also added, “Jesus had a number of enemies, as do all Black leaders.” Meanwhile, it turns out that co-chair Carmen Perez was also a Farrakhan fan — she posted a photo from 2015 showing herself holding hands with him. Fellow Women’s March co-chair Linda Sarsour has also stood with Farrakhan, speaking at a Nation of Islam event.

Women’s March leaders have continued to hesitate in condemning Farrakhan, and that includes Jewish women. Judy Levey of the Jewish Council on Urban Affairs was oh-so delicate when she told The Forward, “People don’t always express themselves on every single issue in ways that we would be comfortable, but it’s really important that when we share values, we work together to raise up urgent issues that we all face.”

In the intersectional hierarchy of identity politics, Jews rank relatively low.

That’s the rub, here, naturally. A good number of leftist Jews are leftists first and Jews second; their religious identity runs second to their political identity. And the Women’s March is a deeply leftist institution — its leadership routinely pushes abortion-on-demand, government-paid child care and so-called anti-discrimination laws that target religious institutions. Jews who find this sort of agenda primary are willing to let a little bit of anti-Semitism slide, much in the way that Jews who preferred President Donald Trump were willing to wink at Steve Bannon.

Even more disappointing is the willingness of leftist Jews to let Jewish ethnicity slide into the background in favor of the intersectional coalition building. Intersectionality suggests that we can determine the value of viewpoints by looking at the “interlocking” group identities of the person speaking — so, for example, a Black lesbian has different experiences and, to the left’s point, more valuable experiences than a white straight man. Jewish ethnic identity, therefore, should play some role in the intersectional coalition of the left, which is dedicated to the proposition that America is a brutal place to those of minority status.

But there’s one problem: In the intersectional hierarchy of identity politics, Jews rank relatively low. That’s because Jews are on average financially successful and educationally overachieving. And this means that Jews slandered by the likes of Louis Farrakhan or his Women’s March allies must take a back seat on the intersectional bus. Anti-Semitism matters less coming from minority victim groups than it does from others, apparently.

This has been the case for years. Last year, the self-titled Dyke March in Chicago banned rainbow flags with Jewish stars because they supposedly “made people feel unsafe” — pro-Palestinian groups were unhappy with the juxtaposition of gay rights and a flag that looked somewhat Israeli. The march was billed as an “anti-racist, anti-violent, volunteer-led, grass-roots mobilization and celebration of dyke, queer, bisexual, and transgender resilience.” Tolerance was not extended, however, to gay Jews flying their flag.

Anti-Semitism is unacceptable in any guise. During the last election cycle, I spoke out repeatedly about anti-Semitism in the alt-right, and blasted the Trump campaign for failing to properly disassociate from the alt-right. Trump, thankfully, has disassociated from the alt-right publicly. The fact that so much of the left is willing to embrace the Women’s March leadership rather than calling them to account is a true shandah.


Ben Shapiro is a best-selling author, editor-in-chief at The Daily Wire and host of the conservative podcast “The Ben Shapiro Show.”

Women’s March Issues Statement Addressing Farrakhan Controversy

Screenshot from Twitter.

After being under fire for one of its leaders attending a Louis Farrakhan speech, the Women’s March issued a statement on Mar. 6 addressing the issue.

The statement claimed that the Women’s March was committed to fighting against “anti-Semitism, racism, misogyny, homophobia, and transphobia.”

“Minister Farrakhan’s statements about Jewish, queer, and trans people are not aligned with the Women’s March Unity Principles, which were created by women of color leaders and are grounded in Kingian Nonviolence,” the statement read. “Women’s March is holding conversations with queer, trans, Jewish and Black members of both our team and larger movement to create space for understanding and healing.”

They then claimed that they had been silent over the Farrakhan controversy for nine days because they have been “holding these conversations and are trying to intentionally break the cycles that pit our communities against each other.”

Anti-Defamation League (ADL) CEO Jonathan Greenblatt praised the Women’s March for their “strong statement”:

However, others felt that the Women’s March statement was too weak and didn’t adequately address the controversy:

The controversy started when Women’s March co-president Tamika Mallory attended the Nation of Islam’s Saviour Day, where Farrakhan issued a speech that was laced with a variety of anti-Semitic conspiracy theories. Mallory and the rest of Women’s March leaders remained largely silent about it until the Mar. 6 statement.

Mallory and two other Women’s March leaders, Carmen Perez and Linda Sarsour, have prior connections to Farrakhan’s Nation of Islam that were not addressed in the statement.

Dem Congressman Doubles Down on Support for Farrakhan Despite His Anti-Semitism

Screenshot from Twitter.

A Democratic congressman doubled down on his support for Louis Farrakhan on Mar. 4, claiming in an interview that he is a believer in Farrakhan despite Farrakhan’s history of anti-Semitism.

Rep. Danny Davis (D-IL) told The Daily Caller’s Peter Hasson that Farrakhan’s numerous anti-Semitic comments don’t bother him.

“I know Farrakhan, I know the Middle East question, I know the Jews and Farrakhan — I know all that, but that’s not what I spend all my time focused on,” Davis said. “I know Farrakhan, been knowing him for years and years and years and years and years, and every once in a while some writer or somebody will I guess try to think of something to say about Farrakhan, but nah, my world is so much bigger than any of that.”

Davis later added, “The world is so much bigger than Farrakhan and the Jewish question and his position on that and so forth. For those heavy into it, that’s their thing, but it ain’t my thing.”

The Democratic congressman had previously called Farrakhan “an outstanding human being.” ADL CEO Jonathan Greenblatt recently wrote a post stating that Davis’ office had told the ADL that Davis was “misquoted,” but Davis shot that down in his interview with The Daily Caller.

“I don’t have no problems with Farrakhan,” Davis said.

The ADL told CNN’s Jake Tapper that they were “disappointed” with Davis’ comments:

Anthony Clark, who is launching a primary challenge against Davis, condemned the congressman’s support for Farrakhan:

Davis released a statement on Mar. 5 claiming that The Daily Caller was trying “to impugn my character.”

“I have a lifetime record of rejecting, condemning and actively opposing all forms of hatred, bigotry and separatism based on race, ethnicity, religion, gender, disability or language including specifically anti-Semitism,” Davis said. “Such views are antithetical to everything I believe and everything that I work for on a daily basis.”

Hasson responded by pointing out that Davis never actually disavowed Farrakhan in his statement:

Davis’ comments comes as Women’s March leaders are under fire for attending a recent Farrakhan speech where he railed against Jews’ “Synagogue of Satan” and slandered Jews supposedly controlling “the government and the FBI.” Tapper ran a segment on March 5 asking why the Womens’ March leaders won’t condemn Farrakhan:

James Hasson, a contributor to The Federalist, noted that there has been little media coverage over a litany of Farrakhan stories:

ADL Tears Into Women’s March Leaders for Attending Louis Farrakhan Speech

Photo from Wikimedia Commons.

Jonathan Greenblatt, the CEO of the Anti-Defamation League (ADL), ripped into leaders of the Women’s March for attending a Louis Farrakhan speech the prior weekend.

Greenblatt prefaced his Medium post by noting that Farrakhan’s speech during last weekend’s Nation of Islam convention was laced with anti-Semitism, which included statements about how “Jews are part of ‘the Synagogue of Satan;’ that the white people running Mexico are Mexican-Jews; that Jews control various countries including Ukraine, France, Poland and Germany where they take advantage of the money, the culture and the business; that Jesus called Jews ‘the children of the devil’; and ‘when you want something in this world, the Jew holds the door.’” Farrakhan also promoted the anti-Semitic slander “that Jews control the government and the FBI and use marijuana to feminize black men.”

“The NOI uses its programs, institutions, publications, and social media to disseminate its message of hate,” Greenblatt wrote. “At last weekend’s convention they were heavily promoting, ‘The Secret History Between Blacks and Jews,’ a multivolume tract that blames Jews for orchestrating the transatlantic slave trade. It deserves a place on the shelf of every bigot alongside ‘The Protocols of the Elders of Zion,’ another work of libelous fiction used to foment little more than intolerance.”

Greenblatt also pointed to Farrakhan’s bigoted statements toward whites and gays and then noted that too many public figures “have a blind spot” and specifically called out a couple of leaders of the Women’s March.

“Consider that in the audience at last weekend’s conference was Tamika Mallory, one of the leaders of the Women’s March, who got a special shout-out from Farrakhan and who regularly posts laudatory pictures of him on her Instagram account — as does Carmen Perez, another leader of the March,” Greenblatt wrote. “Linda Sarsour, another March organizer, spoke and participated at a Nation of Islam event in 2015. Her most notable response to his incendiary remarks this year was a glowing post on Perez’s Facebook page to praise Farrakhan’s youthful demeanor.”

Perez simply dismissed Farrakhan’s bigotry by stating that no one’s “perfect,” according to Greenblatt. Mallory touted a tweet from rapper called Mysonne to show that she isn’t anti-Semitic, although the Washington Free Beacon noted that Mysonne once tweeted that Jews were responsible for the oppression of blacks.

Zioness Movement President Amanda Berman called on the Women’s March leaders to condemn Farrakhan.

“It is hypocritical beyond words that they continue to align themselves with Louis Farrakhan, who is an unapologetic bigot that spews hate targeting the Jewish community, LGBTQ community and others,” Berman said in a statement. “There is no ambiguity on this issue. Either the Women’s March leaders endorse the vilification of the Jewish people or they don’t. It’s that simple.”

Rep. Danny Davis (D-IL) was also mentioned in Greenblatt’s post for recently praising Farrakhan, and when pressed on it Davis attempted to walk it back but has yet to publicly condemn Farrakhan.

CNN’s Jake Tapper launched a tweetstorm on Feb. 28 about Farrakhan’s speech:

The ADL has also recently criticized three Democrats, including Rep. Keith Ellison (D-MN), the deputy chair of the Democratic National Committee (DNC), for attending a 2013 dinner hosted by Iranian President Hassan Rouhani. Farrakhan was also an attendee at the dinner.

In addition to his bigoted statements, Farrakhan’s record includes lavishing praise on the Iranian regime and deposed dictators Saddam Hussein and Moammar Gaddafi. Farrakhan also established a partnership between the NOI and the Church of Scientology and believes that an unidentified flying object (UFO) known as the “Mother Wheel” that “will rain destruction upon white America, but save those who embrace the Nation of Islam.”

Columbia Professor Calls Zionists ‘Master Thieves’ in Facebook Post

Screenshot from Facebook

A professor at Columbia University railed against Zionists “infiltrating” the Women’s March on Facebook, going as far as referring to Zionists as “master thieves.”

Hamid Dabashi, who teaches Iranian Studies and Comparative Literature, was irked that actress Scarlett Johansson was a featured speaker at the Women’s March since she was once the spokeswoman for SodaStream, which was based in Israel.

“Scarlet Johansson is a violent Zionist deeply committed to the systemic theft of Palestine and the ethnic cleansing of Palestinians from their homeland— she appears on commercials selling Israeli products made on the stolen and occupied Palestinians lands — her appearance on Women’s March rallies deeply compromises the moral authority of the movement,” Dabashi wrote.

Dabashi called for members of the Women’s March to “denounce this pernicious infiltration and appropriation of the movement.”

“Zionists are master thieves— they steal Palestinian land and culture, they steal Jewish history and heritage, and they steal every progressive movement to twist it to their advantage— beware!” Dabashi concluded the post.

Dabashi continued his tirade against Johansson in the comments section, where he attacked her for being a “careerist Zionist” and promoting “a product made on stolen Palestinian land and with abused Palestinians labor.”

The Columbia professor has a history of vitriolic anti-Israel statements, including calling Israel supporters “Gestapo appratchniks” and that Israelis have “a vulgarity of character,” per Discover the Networks. Dabashi is also a Hamas apologist, having once referred to the terror organization as “the poor and impoverished representative of a poor and impoverished people” and disparaged those who criticized Hamas.

“The obscenity of first demonizing Hamas and then blaming it for the vicious war crimes that Israel is perpetrating against Palestinians has now passed any measure of common decency,” Dabashi said. “Hamas is the legitimate and democratically elected representative of Palestinian people – a grassroots organization deeply embedded in and integral to the Palestinian national liberation movement.”

Hamas had a major electoral victory in the 2006 Gaza elections; the following year they cemented an iron grip on the region after a violent conflict with Fatah. Elections haven’t been held in Gaza ever since.

Dabashi also has an “awful” rating on RateMyProfessors.com.

“I learned very little in the course and he contradicted himself a lot, as if he were thinking out loud,” one former student wrote on the site. “People became more reluctant to ask questions because he always shut them down and tried to embarrass anyone asking something he did not like.”

H/T: Campus Reform

Letters to the Editor: Trump, Marriage, Partisan Divide on Israel and Women’s March

Trump and the Cycle of Violence in Israel

In the Jan. 19 cover story, “The Trump Gap,” Shmuel Rosner asserts that a “Trump-friendly” Israel “becomes an outlier” in the view of Israel and the Europeans — as evidenced in the U.N. actions of late. Is Rosner not aware that Israel’s existence has been as an outlier in the U.N. and Europe since long before the Oslo Accord? Or the U.N. Security Council’s continuous focus on destroying Israel? All of this predates the latest U.S. election by far.

Worse, in “Jerusalem, What Comes Next?” (Jan. 19), Joel Braunold argues that asserting Israel’s sovereignty over Jerusalem has surrendered the United States’ ability to broker peace, and that building grass-roots peace movements is the answer. What deluded bubble must one occupy to think that building communities “of collective humanity” will magically create an atmosphere of peace while our purported peace partners teach their children to become martyrs for the “holy” cause of killing Jewish women and children, and Arab supporters of peace are executed as collaborators?

David Zuckerman, Phoenix


Alternative Secrets to a Happy Marriage

Rabbi Benjamin Blech’s story was great, but I have my own three secrets to a happy and long-lasting relationship/marriage (“Three Secrets to a Long and Happy Marriage,” Jan. 19).

They are: 1) Always hold hands when walking; 2) Sit next to each other in a restaurant, not across; 3) Never watch TV after a date or after an evening out.

Robert Geminder, Palos Verdes


Nature and God

I read with interest “Why I Don’t Worship Trees” by David Suissa (Jan. 26).

He says that there is a difference between loving nature and worshipping God. This is interesting to me because, according to Spinoza, God and Nature are one and the same.

So, it depends on which philosopher you are reading, as to what is “true and correct” — or rather, “an adequate idea” in the words of Spinoza. I love and worship Nature, which to me is synonymous with God.

Debora Gillman, Los Angeles

I have great respect for, though not agreement with, David Suissa’s argument that Jewish tradition calls for transcending Nature and aiming for a higher place. It was such an argument that propelled the Amsterdam Jewish community to excommunicate Spinoza, who saw divinity in all of Nature, thereby incurring the anathema of being a “polytheist.”

The relevancy in our world today is that such a separation must now become anathema in order to preserve the only place in the universe we have to live. We must see nature and divinity as indivisible or risk continuing on the path that in an accelerating manner threatens to leave us as the “masters of nothing.”

Sheldon H. Kardener via email


Republicans, Too, Must Widen Their Views

Ben Shapiro, in his column “Partisan Divide Over Israel” (Jan. 26), only exacerbates that divide by insisting that only the Democratic Party has to “re-evaluate its moral worldview in the Middle East.” In fact, there are many Democrats, myself included, who strive to enhance the long-term security and prosperity of Israel by desperately working (sometimes it’s more like “hoping”) to leave the door open for a workable two-state solution. Additionally, we struggle to encourage Israel’s democratic institutions and pluralism, to reverse the increasing rejection felt by liberal Jews. Conservatives talk a good game when it comes to supporting Israel, but in reality their strategies have done more harm than good — none more so than President George W. Bush’s removal of Saddam Hussein’s counterbalance to Iranian expansion followed by his encouragement of an independent entity and “free” elections in Gaza, which led to the ascendancy of Hamas and the ensuing conflicts. It’s time for the Republicans to take off their blinders and widen their views of what will and won’t work in the Middle East.

John F. Beckmann, Sherman Oaks


The Women’s March

Thanks to Karen Lehrman Bloch for her brave piece “Why I Didn’t March” (Jan. 26). I hope her writing will open the eyes of many women who do not recognize the manipulative, anti-Zionist agenda behind the progressive movement. We can fight for human rights without allowing ourselves to become robotic pawns in a crowd led by the likes of the hateful Linda Sarsour. Let’s march for acceptance of thought and speech and let’s celebrate individual choice.

Alice Greenfield via email

I think mostly everyone can agree that our country is extremely polarized on issues concerning Israel, immigration, education, taxes, trade policies, health care, the environment, women’s rights and abortion. Very often, it’s only one issue that is paramount to the individual and it is so powerful that they will overlook positions on all the other important issues facing us. That’s why the Women’s March is so important. To assert that women were following the leaders of this march and were told what to think is absurd and demeaning. I never heard of Linda Sarsour before reading Karen Lehrman Bloch’s column and learned that she is anti-Israel and an anti-Semite. I marched with the hundreds of thousands of men, women and children in Los Angeles who are concerned about a multiplicity of issues and, like me, have no knowledge of Linda Sarsour’s political views.

Frima Telerant, Westwood


Parties Split Over Support of Israel

Danielle Berrin, who appears to be left-leaning, and Ben Shapiro, who is right-leaning, seem to agree on something: There is a lot of partisan division in politics in the United States and in Israel which affects support for Israel. According to recent Pew research data, 79 percent of Republicans say they sympathize with Israel and just 27 percent of Democrats say they identify with Israel. That should not be surprising given the fact that at the 2012 Democratic National Convention there was booing when the platform was amended to identify Jerusalem as the capital of Israel. Now the No. 2 person in the DNC, Keith Ellison, is an avowed Israel-hating Jew hater.

Marshall Lerner via email


Tablets Belong in Our Schools

It was sad to read the uninformed opinion of Abigail Shrier on getting iPads out of our schools (“Smash the Tablets: Get iPads Out of Our Schools,” Jan 19). Hardly any student goes to college without a laptop or iPad these days. Not too long ago, the Yale School of Medicine gave each of its students an Apple iPad 2 for use in the classroom and their clinical responsibilities.

Litigators create their deposition outlines on iPads, and during depositions they typically have a separate iPad that’s linked to the court reporter. The use of this technology simply makes sense unless Shrier also thinks that attorneys’ brains are being compromised because of these technology tools.

The correlations she cites are just that — correlations — unproven statistical comparisons that may turn out to be false. The explicit intention of using iPads in the schools was to reach a rainbow of learners, which it accomplished, with or without the agreement of Shrier.

Joel Greenman, Woodland Hills


CORRECTIONS

The founder of Netiya was misidentified in a Jan. 26 story (“A Tu B’Shevat Question”). Rabbi Noah Farkas founded Netiya, a Los Angeles-based food justice organization; Devorah Brous was hired as its founding executive director in 2011.

The former name of de Toledo High School was misreported in the Jan. 26 edition (“De Toledo Goes Green”). It formerly was called New Community Jewish High School.

IMAGE OF THE WEEK: Natalie Portman Speaks Out at the Women’s March

Natalie Portman speaks at The Women's March Photo courtesy of WENN.com

Academy Award-winning actress Natalie Portman speaks at the Women’s March in Los Angeles on Jan. 20. It’s estimated that more than 1 million women and men took to the streets in New York, Philadelphia, Chicago, San Francisco, Seattle and other cities. The marches — which followed the recent groundswell of allegations of sexual harassment by men in prominent entertainment, business and political positions that spawned the #MeToo and Time’s Up movements — were held a year after the first Women’s March on Jan. 21, 2017, the day after President Donald Trump’s inauguration. Actresses Eva Longoria (far left), Viola Davis, Alfre Woodard, Scarlett Johansson and Constance Wu also spoke at the Los Angeles rally.

Why I Didn’t March

On the morning of Jan. 20, some guy friends at my gym in New York City ask me why I’m not at the Women’s March.

“Well… the march doesn’t speak for me,” I begin.

“What do you mean — aren’t you for women’s rights?”

“Yes, of course, but it depends what you mean by rights.”

Blank stares. This is clearly not a gym conversation.

“I am a woman, yes,” I continue. “But I don’t agree with the leaders of the march on many issues.”

More blank stares.

“Let’s just say, before I’m a woman, I’m an individual. I don’t need to be told what to think or who to vote for. The leaders of this march believe they have the right to tell me what to think. That is the opposite of feminism.”

Oh, cool, they nod. In their heads, I have moved into the category of “interesting woman at the gym who says things we don’t understand.”

Sadly, so many women who marched last weekend don’t understand this critical point, either. They don’t understand that you can’t call something a Women’s March and then attach to it a particular set of politics. Would men attending a Men’s March be expected to think exactly the same thoughts on every issue?

This was a Progressive Women’s March, as was last year’s. So why don’t they call it that? Because, like it or not, the leaders of these marches don’t think women are very smart. Maybe “smart” isn’t the right word. Obedient — the leaders of these marches believe women should be obedient. You just tell women what to do and think, and they will follow suit. Just as Michelle Obama thought she could tell women that they had to vote for Hillary, these leaders believe they just need to tell women what to chant, who to hate, etc., and they will willingly fall in line.

And for Progressive women, they are quite right. In fact, a defining feature of today’s Progressivism/leftism is its fundamentalist approach to life. In diametric opposition to true liberalism, Progressives question nothing. They follow orders, and they’re very good at it.

But even if I were a woman who shared a Progressive view of life, I wouldn’t march. Why? Well, why would I want to be even remotely involved with something led by Linda Sarsour? Leaving aside everything else, Sarsour has never denied her desire to see Israel disappear. In fact, it is a core tenet of her belief system. And she is brilliant at convincing Progressives that they should hate Israel too.

I understand the goal of the Zioness Movement, for instance, is to force Progressives to give Zionist women a seat at their table. But I think there’s a flaw in this: Progressivism is now, by definition, proudly anti-Zionist. It’s part of the “intersectionality” they toss around. Why would you want to be part of a group of people whose core belief is hatred of you?

Wouldn’t a better tactic be to strengthen real liberalism? Zionism is by definition a subset of liberalism — you literally cannot be liberal and anti-Zionist.

During last year’s march, I had to shield my son’s eyes from the signs and attire of many participants. I remember trying to explain to him one particular sign held by a male: “Kill the patriarchy.”

This year, now 8 years old, he was conveniently in synagogue all morning. Later in the day, we were on a crowded train, going to a tennis tournament. Two white women with pink knit hats were occupying a third seat with a sign that said: “Trust Women.” Meanwhile, a bunch of minority women were standing with me, rolling their eyes. Not once did the pink hats even notice us standing there, let alone remove the sign.

My son was looking at them as well. What message is his generation learning from all of this? Progressive men want to kill themselves because they are so riddled with patriarchic guilt? Progressive women are so self-involved they can’t be bothered to give up their sign’s seat for another human?

The next day, at the USTA Billie Jean King National Tennis Center, we watched men and women in wheelchairs play tennis. My son was mesmerized. “One day, I’d like to help them,” said the boy whose empathy comes in fits and starts.

“You will,” I said, knowing that this moment was more important for humanity than hundreds of women around the country wearing pussy hats. That’s why I didn’t march.


Karen Lehrman Bloch is a cultural critic and author living in New York.

What’s Happening In Jewish L.A. Jan. 19-23: Women’s March, Holocaust Memorial and More

FRI JAN 19
SHABBAT AND HOLOCAUST MEMORIAL

Curt Lowens

Celebrate Shabbat while marking International Holocaust Remembrance Day as Emmy-nominated composer Sharon Farber, Temple of the Arts Rabbi David Baron and Remember Us Director Samara Hutman lead a memorial service in honor of survivor, actor and Dutch resistance member Curt Lowens. During World War II, Lowens, who died last May, helped rescue Jewish children. He then turned to acting and appeared in more than 100 film and television projects. The service features a concert based on Lowens’ memoir, “Destination: Questionmark.” Participants include Yiddish actor and director Mike Burstyn, who emcees; the Kadima Conservatory Philharmonic; the 35-piece AJU Choir of American Jewish University; jazz musician Corky Hale; Temple of the Arts Cantor Ilysia Pierce; and German Consul General in Los Angeles Hans Neumann. Shabbat service, 7:30 p.m. Concert, 8 p.m. Free. Temple of the Arts, 8440 Wilshire Blvd., Beverly Hills, (323) 658-9100. bhtota.org.

SOCIAL JUSTICE SHABBAT

Doug McCormick, president of the Pacific Palisades Task Force on Homelessness, appears at Kehillat Israel, a Reconstructionist community, to address the growing crisis of homelessness in Los Angeles County. 7 p.m. Free. Kehillat Israel, 16019 W. Sunset Blvd., Pacific Palisades. (310) 459-2328. ourki.org.

SAT JAN 20
WOMEN’S MARCH

To commemorate the one-year anniversary of the historic Women’s March of 2017, people will gather in downtown Los Angeles to advocate for ending violence, protecting reproductive rights and more. Starting at Pershing Square and ending at Grand Park and City Hall, this year’s march features music, art, community booths and speakers. About 200,000 attendees are expected. Gather, 9 a.m. March and events, 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Free. Start: Pershing Square, 532 S. Olive St., Los Angeles. End: City Hall, 200 N. Spring St., Los Angeles. (310) 200-0124. womensmarchla.org.

“SPEAK OUT”

Jewish Women’s Theatre (JWT) presents works by four artists who use their individuality and diversity to speak for those who have no voice: Pat Berger, Jenny Rubin, Corrie Siegel and Alexandra Wiesenfeld. The exhibition’s official opening and art talk precedes the premiere performance of JWT’s new salon show, “The Accidental Activist.” Exhibition and art talk are free; tickets required for performance. 6:30 p.m. Through March 5. The Gallery@The Braid, 2912 Colorado Ave., Suite 102, Santa Monica. (310) 315-1400. jewishwomenstheatre.org.

“LAST THOUGHTS: SCHUBERT’S FINAL WORKS”

Ory Shihor

Israeli-American pianist Ory Shihor tells the story behind Franz Schubert’s last compositions — some of the most miraculous music the Austrian composer created — through music and words. This evening of music and storytelling also features text by Canadian-Jewish musician Hershey Felder, who does not appear in the performance. The program features “Impromptu in F minor,” “Sonata in C minor” and “Sonata in B flat major D.” 7:30 p.m. $25-$75. Wallis Annenberg Center for the Performing Arts, Bram Goldsmith Theater, 9390 N. Santa Monica Blvd., Beverly Hills. (310) 746-4000. thewallis.org.

SUN JAN 21
“THE CANTOR’S COUCH”

Jack Mendelson

Temple Judea hosts a journey through Cantor Jack Mendelson’s real-life stories based on growing up in 1950s Brooklyn in “The Cantor’s Couch.” Mendelson paints a picture of a bygone day in Jewish America when Jews would flock to synagogues to hear cantors as if they were in a concert hall. The one-man show weds a relatable story of childhood with joyous memories of music and celebration. Mendelson’s collaborator and accompanist will be Cantor Jonathan Comisar, who wrote original music for this production. All proceeds help support the music program at Temple Judea. 5 p.m. Students, $10; general admission, $18. Temple Judea, Goor Sanctuary, 5429 Lindley Ave., Tarzana. (818) 758-3800. templejudea.com.

UNITE 4 ISRAEL

During this second  annual day of unity — Unite 4 Israel — Jewish teenagers celebrate the Jewish state through martial arts, food, learning and more. Workshops include a mock Israel Defense Forces boot camp featuring Hezi Sheli, a former special forces fighter and head instructor of the Israeli Martial Arts Academy in Westlake Village. Also, students explore a 10-by-18-foot copy of the Israeli Declaration of Independence. A hands-on session allows participants to create their own bowl of hummus with guidance by culinary professional Sigal Ratoviz. Rabbi Moshe Bryski of Chabad of the Conejo delivers opening remarks. A buffet lunch features Israeli cuisine and a live DJ. The event also includes Israeli trivia and a raffle. Open to students in grades 8-12 only. 10 a.m. $10. Chabad of Westlake Village, 2425 Townsgate Road, Suite H, Thousand Oaks. israel200.com.

BEN MACINTYRE AND STEVE ROSS

Steve Ross, a professor at USC and author of “Hitler in Los Angeles,” which explores the role of Nazis in L.A. and the spies who stopped them, and British author and historian Ben MacIntyre discuss espionage in World War II Europe and Los Angeles. 1 p.m. $20. Temple Emanuel of Beverly Hills, 8844 Burton Way, Beverly Hills. writersblocpresents.com.

“RACE AND INCLUSIVITY IN THE AMERICAN JEWISH COMMUNITY”

A panel discusses the challenges and opportunities of inclusivity in the Jewish community. Speakers include Lacey Schwartz, an award-winning documentary filmmaker and director of North America outreach for Be’chol Lashon, which deals with issues of racial and cultural diversity in the Jewish community; Rabbi Sharon Brous, senior founding rabbi of IKAR, a leading voice in reanimating Jewish tradition and practice; and Bruce Phillips, professor of sociology and Jewish communal service at Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion. Presented by the USC Casden Institute and IKAR Los Angeles. Free, reservations requested. 4-5:30 p.m. Doheny Memorial Library, 3550 Trousdale Parkway, Los Angeles, Room 240. (213) 740-1744. usc.edu/esvp.

“THE BEST SATIRICAL SONGS IN HISTORY”

Comedian and screenwriter David Misch headlines an afternoon of musical satire, with songs and film clips featuring Groucho Marx, Randy Newman, Chuck Berry, “Weird Al” Yankovic, Gilbert and Sullivan, Amy Schumer and Bugs Bunny. 4 p.m. $12-$22. American Jewish University Familian Campus, 15600 Mulholland Drive, Bel Air. (310) 440-1572. aju.edu/whizin.

“BEFORE THE REVOLUTION”

The Israeli community in Iran enjoyed a luxurious life under the Shah. That all changed during the Islamic Revolution. “Before the Revolution,” a documentary made in 2013, tells the story about the last days of the Israeli community in Iran. It features archival footage; interviews with diplomats, Mossad agents, business people and others, and is presented from the perspective of a director whose family was a part of this Israeli community. The film will be shown at Sephardic Temple Tifereth Israel in Westwood. Refreshments served. 4:30 p.m. Free. Sephardic Temple Tifereth Israel, 10500 Wilshire Blvd., Los Angeles. (310) 475-7000. sephardictemple.org.

FLAMENCO DANCER LEILAH BROUKHIM

Leilah Broukhim

Flamenco powerhouse Leilah Broukhim performs “Dejando Huellas” (“Traces”), a personal story about her Jewish and Persian heritage. This L.A. debut showcases the Spanish art form and the performer’s commitment to a tale of a woman searching for meaning and identity. 7:30 p.m. $33-$78. Valley Performing Arts Center, 18111 Nordhoff St., Northridge. (818) 677-8800. valleyperformingartscenter.org.

TUE JAN 23
“PRESERVATION AND INNOVATION: THE TRACKS OF THE MASTER SCRIBE”

Sara Milstein, assistant professor of Hebrew Bible and Near Eastern Studies at the University of British Columbia, discusses the “master scribes” of the ancient Near East and their method of introducing changes to texts in the course of transmission. Linguists, academics and bookworms should enjoy this UCLA Center for Jewish Studies lecture. Noon. Free. UCLA, 314 Royce Hall, Los Angeles. (310) 267-5327. cjs.ucla.edu.

“STRIVE NOT TO GOSSIP”

When is it permissible to speak about someone who isn’t present? When is it forbidden to spread information about another person — whether it is true or not? Incorporating the teachings of the “Chafetz Chaim” (the Jewish “Bible” about gossip), Rabbi Jonathan Aaron explores the subtleties of what is considered in Jewish tradition to be one of the most dangerous of human behaviors, lashon harah (the evil tongue). 7 p.m. Free. Temple Emanuel of Beverly Hills, 8844 Burton Way, Beverly Hills. (310) 288-3737. tebh.org/striveclass.

“BIMBAM: WATCH SOMETHING JEWISH”

Sarah Lefton

Sarah Lefton, founder of BimBam (formerly G-dcast), which uses digital storytelling to spark connections to Judaism for learners of all ages, appears at this special evening for parents with young children. She shares a series of Jewish videos and animated series that can elevate children’s free time and help bring Judaism into the home. 7:30 p.m. Stephen
Wise Temple members, $15; public, $20. Stephen Wise Temple, 15500 Stephen S. Wise Drive, Los Angeles. (310) 476-8561. wisela.org/cjl.

Zioness Movement Joins Women’s March

Photo courtesy of zioness.org

With the second annual Women’s March scheduled for Jan. 20, the 5-month-old Zioness movement has rallied an impressive roster of national feminist leaders to bring progressive Zionists to marches around the country.

Zioness was established in August 2017, after a group of 20 progressive Zionists banded together to participate in the Chicago SlutWalk. However, as had occurred in the same city just three months earlier at the Dyke March, the group was banned for waving a Star of David flag because it was deemed a Zionist symbol of nationalism and oppression.

Civil rights attorney and Zioness co-founder and CEO Amanda Berman is spearheading the Zioness march in New York. She told the Journal that Zioness’ goal is “to activate and empower progressive Zionists — Jews on the left who believe not only in self-determination of the Jewish people but of all communities. We care deeply about social justice and economic justice. Jews and Zionists have always been on the forefront of these movements.”

But in the wake of episodes like those in Chicago, Berman said, “Our community has been staying home because we have been feeling unwelcome and unwanted.”

“Zioness is about showing up and saying anyone who would tell Jews and Zionists to go home and to not empower their own and other communities to fight for equality is not sincerely progressive.” — Amanda Berman

By bringing together powerful, progressive Zionist women to lead marches around the country this year, Berman said she believes up to 1,000 people will march under the Zioness banner.

Berman said she has received emails from around the world, with many saying they were active in the women’s liberation movement in the 1960s and ’70s but pulled away because of the anti-Semitism they encountered on the left.

“People were saying, ‘I’ve been waiting decades for people like you to stand up and say I am a proud, progressive Zionist and I’m not going to check my Zionism or Jewish identity at the door to engage,’ ” Berman said.

Ann Lewis, who served as White House director of communications for President Bill Clinton and as a senior adviser to Hillary Clinton, will head the Zioness contingent at the Women’s March in Washington, D.C.

“I am proud to march with the young people of Zioness,” Lewis said in a statement. “Zioness is inspiring and empowering our country’s next generation of progressive leaders to wear their Zionist identities proudly, as they fight for human rights and women’s rights, health care, education, compassionate immigration reform, equal pay and equal dignity.”

Mimi Bergman, a member of the Women’s March’s Host Planning Committee and the Behavioral Health Committee for the League of Women Voters, will lead hundreds of Zioness members at the Jan. 21 Power to the Polls march in Las Vegas.

In an official statement, Bergman said, “I’m proud to be a part of the Zioness Movement, which is an exciting new initiative that is re-energizing passionate Jewish activists to fight for equality and justice as they always have.”

Pushing back against those who have tried to turn away progressive Zionists from marches and demonstrations by stating they are not anti-Semitic, merely anti-Zionist, Berman said, “I think it’s possible to be anti-Zionist and not anti-Semitic, but, unfortunately, anti-Zionism very often manifests itself as anti-Semitism. But that conversation has no place in a march for women’s empowerment or a march for the LGBTQ community.”

During the first Women’s March last year, a great deal of attention was paid to Linda Sarsour, who helped spearhead the event and whose views on Zionism have been a flashpoint for many on the progressive left.

“I see a lot of discussion about Sarsour on Zioness’ social media,” Berman said, “and while we find her views reprehensible, I don’t think it’s productive for us to focus any of our energy on this one individual. The productive response is to show directly what she says about our community is wrong and hurtful and, frankly, discriminatory. Zioness is about showing up and saying anyone who would tell Jews and Zionists to go home and to not empower their own and other communities to fight for equality is not sincerely progressive.”

Progressive Zionism, social justice and tikkun olam are very much part and parcel of Taylor Nicole Stern’s raison d’être. The Jewish educator, who is organizing the Los Angeles march, first met Berman in college. Raised in Chicago, Stern spent several years as a Jewish educator at Milken Community High School and said when she heard about what Berman was doing to create Zioness, “it spoke to a void I didn’t even realize was forming.”

Reading about how Jews were being excluded from progressive and resistance movements since President Donald Trump took office galvanized her into becoming deeply involved with Zioness.

Zioness will meet up at 8 a.m. Jan. 20 at Coffee Bean & Tea Leaf at 7th and Flower before walking to the march. For more information, visit zioness.org

Top 15 Jewish Los Angeles stories of 5777

The Jewish year 5777 wasn’t eventful only on the national stage. Here in Los Angeles, the Jewish community had its share of notable controversies and causes for celebration.

The following are 15 local stories that had L.A. Jews talking this year.

Danielle Berrin recalls her assault by Ari Shavit (October 2016)

In a courageous cover story, Jewish Journal senior writer Danielle Berrin detailed how a prominent Israeli journalist, later named as Ari Shavit, groped and propositioned her during a professional interview. Berrin related her experience to the universal prevalence of sexual assault, an issue that emerged in the public spotlight when a video surfaced of then-presidential nominee Donald Trump making lewd comments about women to Billy Bush of “Access Hollywood.” Shavit admitted he was the subject of Berrin’s story several days after it was published, apologized and resigned from his positions at Israel’s Haaretz newspaper and Channel 10 TV.

In highlighting the gendered endemic of sexual assault and the stigma of speaking out, Berrin, who later was named Journalist of the Year by the Los Angeles Press Club, began the Jewish New Year with a timely call for justice.

Jewish Family Service CEO Paul Castro announces retirement (October 2016)

Paul Castro

Paul Castro, CEO of Jewish Family Service of Los Angeles (JFS), announced Oct. 13 that he would leave his post in December 2017 after 35 years at the nonprofit. Castro is not Jewish, but that never interfered with his leadership on JFS projects like the SOVA Community Food and Resource Program, the Israel Levin Senior Adult Center and the Westside Jewish Community Center’s Social Day Care Center for seniors and people with disabilities. During his tenure as CEO, Castro raised $17 million of the $25 million needed to rebuild the JFS Lois and Richard Gunther Center, the future hub of JFS outreach.

On Sep. 12, 2017, another prominent Jewish community leader announced his retirement: American Jewish University President Robert Wexler will step down at the end of the academic term, after 25 years at the school. Under his stewardship, the university opened the Ziegler School of Rabbinic Studies in 1996 and merged with Brandeis-Bardin. Wexler is credited with overseeing numerous campus construction projects and growing the university’s endowment from $5 million to more than $100 million.

Simon Wiesenthal Center’s Marvin Hier delivers benediction at Trump inauguration (January 2017)

Rabbi Marvin Hier

 

Rabbi Marvin Hier, dean and founder of the Simon Wiesenthal Center in Los Angeles, stirred controversy when he offered an original prayer and a blessing to President Donald Trump at his Jan. 20 inauguration. Hier, who performed the invocation alongside various faith leaders, defended his decision by stating a peaceful transition of power is “the trademark of democracy.”

Rabbi Sharon Brous

IKAR Rabbi Sharon Brous speaks at D.C. Women’s March (January 2017)

The day after the inauguration, 3.3 million women in 500 American cities marched in protest of Trump’s presidency and in favor of universal human rights. Rabbi Sharon Brous of IKAR delivered a speech at the Washington, D.C., Women’s March that referenced the Exodus story of Shifrah and Puah, two rebellious Egyptian midwives who defied Pharaoh’s orders to kill Hebrew firstborns. On the largest single-day protest in American history, Brous appealed to spiritual unity and shared humanity.

Photo by Rob Eshman

Jews join immigration ban protests at LAX (January 2017)

Following Trump’s executive order that shut the United States’ doors on refugees from seven Muslim-majority countries, Jews joined thousands of Los Angeles natives who gathered at Los Angeles International Airport (LAX) in protest. A number of signs at the protest highlighted harmony between Muslims and Jews, or drew comparisons between the refugee ban and Hitler’s early strategies.

B’nai David-Judea disobeys OU ban on female clergy (February 2017)

In the face of a Feb. 3 Orthodox Union (OU) policy statement that opposed the inclusion of women in Orthodox clergy, Rabbi Yosef Kanefsky of Orthodox Pico-Robertson synagogue B’nai David-Judea issued a defiant response: Clergy member Rabbanit Alissa Thomas-Newborn would be offering the drasha that Shabbat. Kanefsky referred to the ways “women have vastly increased the amount of Torah study, Mitzvah observance and spiritual sensitivity within their respective Orthodox congregations,” and criticized the OU for “imposing one perspective on all of its member synagogues.”

Rabbi Shlomo Schwartz

Colorful L.A. rabbi known as ‘Schwartzie’ dies at 71 (February 2017)

The red-bearded rabbi who wore rainbow suspenders and set up Jewish astrology readings on the Venice Boardwalk died on Feb. 8. Rabbi Shlomo “Schwartzie” Schwartz was the founder and director of Chai Center, a Jewish nonprofit outreach organization in Los Angeles that engages Jews through weekly Shabbat dinners, free High Holy Days services and other events.

Cartoon in UCLA student newspaper denounced as anti-Semitic (February 2017)

UCLA cartoon

Outrage erupted on UCLA’s campus when the Daily Bruin published a cartoon that struck many as anti-Semitic. The cartoon depicted Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu standing in front of the Ten Commandments, with one caption stating, “Israel passes law seizing any Palestinian land,” and another suggesting Israel would follow its “stealing” with murder. The Daily Bruin issued an apology for the cartoon, which even drew a denunciation from a pro-Palestine group on campus.

Leah Adler, restaurateur and mother of Steven Spielberg, dies at 97 (February 2017)

Leah Adler

Leah Adler might have been best known as film director Steven Spielberg’s mother, but she earned her own renown in the Los Angeles Jewish community as the owner of kosher restaurant The Milky Way on Pico Boulevard Adler, who died Feb. 21, was a former concert pianist from Cincinnati who enjoyed chatting with restaurant patrons about kosher cuisine and providing life advice. Some might recognize her from the 1994 Academy Awards, when Spielberg kissed her and described her as his lucky charm while accepting the best director Oscar for “Schindler’s List.”

JCCs receive bomb threats amid national scare (February 2017)

Westside JCC

 

The Westside Jewish Community Center (JCC) became one of more than 100 JCCs and Jewish day schools across the country to receive bomb threats over the phone in 2017. Among the other targets was the Alpert Jewish Community Center in Long Beach, which received a hoax threat Jan. 31 that prompted the evacuation of approximately 300 seniors, parents and children. The Los Angeles Police Department evacuated the Westside JCC and searched the premises, but the threat was a false alarm. Four months later, University Synagogue of Brentwood and both Wilshire Boulevard Temple campuses also were shut down due to online bomb threats, none of which materialized.

Stephen Miller

Exploring Jewish Trump aide Stephen Miller’s L.A. roots (March 2017)

Stephen Miller began his work with the Trump campaign in 2016 as a “warmup act” before the presidential candidate took the stage at rallies. Later, as senior adviser to the president, Miller worked closely with Stephen Bannon to craft the executive order banning refugees from seven Muslim-majority countries. Given Miller’s zealously nationalistic political rhetoric, it surprised many to discover he is the great-grandson of Eastern European Jewish immigrants. The Jewish Journal profiled Miller’s youth as a congregant of liberal-leaning Los Angeles synagogues and a graduate of Santa Monica High School.

Politicizing the pulpit (June 2017)

When Sinai Temple Senior Rabbi David Wolpe argued in a Jewish Journal article that rabbis should refrain from expressing political opinions in their sermons, he ignited a debate that engaged rabbis and community members from every corner of Los Angeles. Rabbi Noah Farkas of Valley Beth Shalom, Union for Reform Judaism President Rabbi Rick Jacobs and IKAR’s Rabbi Sharon Brous all penned responses in the Journal challenging Wolpe’s apolitical position and questioning the possibility of drawing a line between politics and Torah. Wolpe’s article gave rise to a sort of symposium that considered a rabbi’s moral responsibility amid a politically turbulent year.

Marilyn Hall

Marilyn Hall, wife of Monty Hall, dies at 90 (June 2017)

Actress, writer, producer and philanthropist Marilyn Hall died June 5 at the age of 90. Hall, wife of game show host Monty Hall, produced documentaries for Jewish institutions such as Brandeis University, the United Jewish Welfare Fund and Tel Aviv University. Her roster of accomplishments also includes producing  two Emmy-winning TV movies and co-writing “The Celebrity Kosher Cookbook.”

Westwood flyers warn of new Hezbollah-inspired group (July 2017)

Iranian Jews were on edge when they discovered flyers in Westwood’s Persian Square district announcing the inception of a group calling itself the “Army of Hezbollah in America.” The handbill, written in Farsi, vowed to avenge any U.S. military action in the Persian Gulf with terrorist attacks on American soil. It also denounced the influence of the “Zionist media.” The Los Angeles Police Department said it turned over information about the flyer to the FBI for investigation.

Izak Parviz Nazarian

Iranian-Jewish philanthropist Izak Parviz Nazarian dies at 88 (August 2017)

Izak Parviz Nazarian, co-founder of investment firm Omninet and former board member of technology company Qualcomm, died on Aug. 23 at age 88. After a difficult childhood in Iran, Nazarian fought with the Haganah in Italy and joined Israeli troops in the War of Independence. Nazarian immigrated to Los Angeles after the Iranian Revolution, where he built a successful technology empire with his brother, Younes. A passionately pro-Israel philanthropist, Nazarian founded the Citizens’ Empowerment Center in Israel, a nonprofit dedicated to reforming Israel’s electoral system.

How the Dems can lose 2018

Activist Linda Sarsour in New York City on June 29. Photo by Joe Penney/Reuters

Last week, the Democrats released a new bumper sticker for their 2018 Congressional campaign: “I mean, have you seen the other guys?”

It’s not a bad political notion so far as it goes — opposition in politics is an effective tool, as Democrats learned from Republicans, who campaigned against Obamacare and Democratic spending policies to the tune of 1,000 state legislature seats, 12 governorships (including in states such as Michigan and Massachusetts), 10 Senate seats and 63 House seats. Now Democrats hope to reverse the math.

But there’s something else going on here, too. Democrats hope that campaigning as #TheResistance will suffice to prevent voters from looking too hard at their own moral and political shortcomings. That’s because for all the talk by Democrats about Republican extremism, Republicans actually have moved closer to the center on policy, while Democrats have embraced an ugly combination of Bernie Sanders-style socialism and college campus-style intersectionality.

Leave aside the boorish antics of President Donald Trump and the incompetence of Congressional Republicans. Here is the fact: Trump is the most moderate Republican president since Richard Nixon. He has successfully passed almost no major policy in seven months. His foreign policy on North Korea and Syria is barely distinguishable from former President Barack Obama’s. His approach to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict has been praised by Palestinians and former Obama officials. He’s the most pro-LGBT Republican in presidential history; his stance on abortion has been vague; his White House chief strategist has openly embraced higher taxes on upper-income earners, as well as a massive infrastructure spending program; he has embraced the central premises of Obamacare. Trump may act in ridiculous ways that defy rationality — his Twitter feed is littered with stupidity and aggression, of course — but on policy, Trump is closer to Bill Clinton of 1997 than President Obama was.

Democrats, meanwhile, are moving hard to the left. When former Clinton adviser Mark Penn wrote an op-ed for The New York Times calling for Democrats to move back to the center, he was roundly excoriated by the leading thinkers in the Democratic Party. He was an emissary of the past; he had to embrace the new vision of the leftist future. That leftist future involved radical tax increases, fully nationalized health care, and — most of all — the divisive politics of intersectionality. Sens. Sanders (I-VT) and Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) may own the policy side of the Democratic coalition, but the heart of the Democratic coalition lies in polarization by race, sex and sexual orientation. Forget a cohesive national message that appeals to Americans regardless of tribal identity: The new Democratic Party cares only about uniting disparate identity factions under the banner of opposing Republicanism.

The clearest evidence for that alliance of convenience came earlier this month, when Democratic darling and Women’s March organizer Linda Sarsour was caught on tape promoting “jihad” against Trump. Sarsour said that the sort of “jihad” she liked was “a word of truth in front of a tyrant or leader.” But she deliberately used the word “jihad” because of its ambiguity, not in spite of it: Sarsour has stated that pro-Israel women cannot be feminists; she supports the imposition of “Shariah law” in Muslim countries; she has stated of dissident and female genital mutilation victim Ayaan Hirsi Ali that she wishes she could take her “vagina away”; she has long associated with the terrorist Muslim Brotherhood; she opened her “jihad” speech by thanking Siraj Wajjah, an unindicted co-conspirator in the 1993 World Trade Center bombing who has repeatedly advocated for a violent form of “jihad.”

Democrats hope that campaigning as #TheResistance will suffice to prevent voters from looking too hard at their own moral and political shortcomings.

Democrats rushed to her defense nonetheless, hoping to preserve the intersectional concerns that animate their base. Never mind that Sarsour is no ally to LGBT rights, or that she blames “Zionists” for her problems. She represents an important constituency for Democrats, and so she must be protected. More than that, she speaks anti-Trumpese fluently, and thus is an important figure for Democrats.

This isn’t rare on the left anymore. Much of the Democratic establishment supported Rep. Keith Ellison (D-Minn.), a longtime Nation of Islam acolyte who spent years defending that group’s most extreme anti-Semitic rhetoric — a man so radical that he openly associated with the Campaign to End the Israeli Occupation, which recently labeled Democratic Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) an “Israel Firster.”

Even as the Democratic Party embraced Sarsour and defended her ambiguous use of the word “jihad” — after all, she was opposing Trump the Impaler — leftist spokespeople rushed to microphones to denounce President Trump’s speech in Poland, in which he called for a defense of “the West” and “our civilization.” Leftist columnist Peter Beinart labeled the speech racist. As Jonah Goldberg of National Review points out, we now have a Democratic Party that spends its time defending the use of the word “jihad” against the president but labeling the phrase “the West” a problem.

Bold strategy, Cotton. Let’s see how it works out.

And so Democrats must focus on President Trump. They must hope that he smacks himself in the face with a frying pan. They must bank on some sort of Trump-Russia collusion revelation. They must pray that the focus stays on Republicans rather than turning back to Democrats. After all, Sanders-Sarsour doesn’t sound like a winning combination.


BEN SHAPIRO is editor-in-chief at The Daily Wire, host of the most listened-to conservative podcast in the nation, “The Ben Shapiro Show,” and author of The New York Times best-seller “Bullies: How the Left’s Culture of Fear Silences Americans.”

Why should we care what Linda Sarsour says?

Linda Sarsour speaking onstage during the Women’s March on Washington in Washington, D.C, Jan. 21, 2017. Photo by Theo Wargo/Getty Images

The internet treated us to quite a debate last week. The issue: Are Zionism and feminism, two of the most successful social revolutions of the 20th century, compatible?

In a New York Times op-ed, Jewish American Emily Shire wondered if her identity as a Zionist would alienate her from a resurgent feminist movement aligned with the Palestinian cause. “I am troubled by the portion of the International Women’s Strike platform that calls for a ‘decolonization of Palestine’ as part of ‘the beating heart of this new feminist movement,’ ” she wrote. “Why should criticism of Israel be key to feminism in 2017?”

She was answered by Linda Sarsour, a Muslim-American activist and one of the organizers behind the Women’s March on Washington. In an interview with The Nation, Sarsour responded bluntly: “It just doesn’t make any sense for someone to say, ‘Is there room for people who support the state of Israel and do not criticize it in the movement?’ There can’t be in feminism. You either stand up for the rights of all women, including Palestinians, or none. There’s just no way around it.”

On one point, Sarsour is right: To believe in the rights of women is to believe in the rights of all women — including those in Sudan, Afghanistan and Saudi Arabia. A feminism that lacks inclusion is a flawed feminism. There’s just no way around it.

But many in our community only heard Sarsour say: “criticize Israel.” And so the debate descended into something vicious and misguided, helped in large part by The Nation’s deeply irresponsible headline — “Can You Be a Zionist Feminist? Linda Sarsour Says No” — and a reporter who was even more irresponsible. She offered Sarsour an unrestricted soapbox on which to air her views, without ever thinking to ask if she supports the same Jewish right to self-determination that Sarsour is seeking for the Palestinians.

I spent a few days thinking about why this little tempest matters, and you know what I concluded? It doesn’t.

“Basically, this is a conversation about theory,” Anat Hoffman, perhaps Israel’s most famous feminist, said when I reached her by phone. “The practical, immediate repercussions of this are zero.”

Talking is not especially useful to Hoffman, who is one of Israel’s leading activists. She is a founding member of the Women of the Wall movement, which seeks prayer equality for women at the Western Wall in Jerusalem, and the executive director of the Israel Religious Action Center, a legal advocacy arm pursuing gender equality, social justice and religious pluralism. Hoffman spends most of her time bringing lawsuits against the State of Israel, demonstrating that arguments about the definition of political movements are far less consequential than policy change.

If people like Sarsour count no Jewish Zionists among their friends or colleagues, it is virtually guaranteed they will never modify their views.

For women who work in the trenches of Israel’s justice movement, the tension between Zionism and feminism is nothing new. The Orthodox establishment within Israel’s government has precluded women from realizing their full rights since the country’s founding.

“What about the 50,000 women who cannot get divorced because there is no civil marriage or civil divorce in Israel? What about the gaps in salaries? What about domestic violence?” Hoffman said. “To the Jewish woman who says that for the first time she feels a tug between her Zionism and her feminism, I say: ‘Good morning, sister!’ ”

How one Muslim-American woman defines feminism, or Zionism, is irrelevant. Any thoughtful person can define his or her personal politics and has the right to set their own political priorities. What matters is that we stop instantly vilifying anyone and everyone with whom we don’t agree — whether within our own communities or outside of them.

“Zionism needs a good kick in the ass,” Hoffman said, “as long as there’s one condition: that you love Israel, that you are committed to the existence of Israel, and to the right of the Jewish people to have a sovereign state and self-determination. Then you can criticize Israel as much as you want.”

But what about people like Sarsour, who might not love Israel? Should we, as a community, even bother talking to her? Where do we draw the line?

“If you believe terrorizing innocent civilians is the way to achieve liberation, then that crosses my line,” Hoffman said. “Someone who believes the only way to go is to explode buses in Israel — he is my enemy.”

A shared premise of nonviolence is a reasonable rule of engagement. Better to engage — even our foes — than walk away from the table altogether, right? At least if we’re talking, there is hope our views will prevail over time, or that we’ll reach a compromise. After all, if people like Sarsour count no Jewish Zionists among their friends or colleagues, it is virtually guaranteed they will never modify their views.

Sarsour says she is committed to non-violence, but other aspects of her record are troubling. She fights on behalf of the oppressed but seems to have little regard for Jewish history. Nowhere is there a record of her support for the existence of Israel as a Jewish state, and she has tweeted that Zionism is “creepy” and akin to racism. Is it worth talking to her if she doesn’t support Israel’s right to exist? If she’s really an anti-Zionist activist disguised in social justice clothing?

“I believe in Sarsour’s right to self-determination and an independent state of her own,” Hoffman said. “And I would like you to find out if she believes in my right to [the same]. Because I have no other choice: Hebrew is my language and Jerusalem is my home. I have nowhere else to go.”

That’s a Zionist feminist talking.

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.

I am a white, privileged, liberal, and that is why I’ve started protesting

Like many people I know, I have always had liberal values, and I was born with white privilege. 

Like others, I have verbally supported issues like  women’s right to choose, LGBT rights, gun control, higher minimum wage, healthcare for all, and opposed institutional racism and bigotry, etc.  However, our privileges still exist, and we haven’t done nearly enough.  Many of us have been expressing our beliefs for years, but we haven’t shown up.  We haven’t joined Black Lives Matter or anti-deportation or a myriad of other types of protests.  We haven’t demanded action from our local representatives over and over again until they are forced to listen.  We haven’t marched alongside those who are impacted the most by human rights violations and harmful policies that perpetuate institutional racism and bigotry. 

Some don’t agree with the “liberal” concepts above, in which case you will write this off, and therefore I am mostly not speaking to you.  But there is one glaring reason, as I see it, that our community of white privileged liberals has neglected to protest enough and therefore neglected those who needed our voices most.  We are not personally impacted.  Most of us have access to high quality healthcare, we were able to marry the person we chose, we do not live in areas with high rates of gun violence, we are not victims of discriminatory policing practices, we have educational opportunities that lead to higher paying jobs, we were born in the US and do not have to fight to live here, and so much more.

So why would we protest?  When would we find the time?  Standing in intersections with cardboard signs is unseemly, and uncomfortable, and maybe it’s just not our thing.  This is the very definition of white privilege.  It allows us to go about our day to day lives and believe in these liberal values but not sacrifice our convenience or comfort.  Many write checks to charities that are doing the hard work, and that is wonderful but not enough.  I am extremely new to the protesting world and have for many years been neglecting the people and causes I claimed to support.  I have just recently taken part in the women’s march, the homeless count, the LAX protest against the Muslim ban, a pro Planned Parenthood rally, a Jewish event for welcoming refugees, a protest against deportations and anti-immigrant rhetoric/policies, and have been attending meetings with local advocacy groups.  Now that I have started joining in, I can see in the eyes of those who have been protesting their entire lives, that they are resentful.  They may not think it or say it out loud, but they know that when the protest is done, I can walk to my car and go home to a safe neighborhood and continue enjoying the privileges which they have never been afforded.  They are wondering where we were before. 

The recent presidential election and the aftermath of the inauguration have shaken something loose in many of us.  I realize now, we should have been there all along, in the streets, working for social justice in ways that we didn’t have time for or that made us uncomfortable or that others didn’t approve or understand.  It is too late to fix all that has already happened, we cannot truly atone for all our privileges, but we can try to stop being part of the problem.  The liberal values for which we feel so strongly will not matter if we sit on the sidelines and let injustices continue.  I claimed to be passionate, mostly by posting frequent political rants on Facebook, yet I allowed my privileges to get in the way of joining the protests.  Violence is never the answer, but disruptive, inconvenient and uncomfortable protests are often the only way victims of these issues can be heard.  And their voices will only get louder and more impactful if we join them.  Donations are great and necessary, but if you look in the eyes of someone who is terrified of being deported, or being shot,  or not being able to afford medicine, you may see that the money does no good if they are all alone when they literally scream for justice.

Protest-fatigue may be real, but you will never find it in those who have been fighting for their lives.  I am now committing to do my best, which will still never be enough, to go outside my comfort zone, and to risk being judged by people who do not understand.  I am committing to own my white privilege and my children’s white privilege, and to never deny it exists and that we are part of the problem.  I am committing to chant in the street even when the person next to me wonders why I wasn’t there before.  I am committing to inconvenience myself in a way that will never compare to what others experience thru racism and bigotry.  I am committing to use this political climate for something good, and a positive change in my own actions, and to fight so that someday the people we have neglected can receive basic human rights and justice, and therefore my own privileges will no longer exist.  I will protest.

Rachel Rosen is a health educator, wife and mother in the San Fernando Valley.

The protest diet

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

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.

How this city’s sister march came to be

“Dancing With the Stars” producer Deena Katz had no idea what she was getting herself into when she reached out to Women’s March organizers one week after the presidential inauguration.

She’d heard about the upcoming rally in Washington, D.C., and wanted to organize a sister march in Los Angeles. But she never could have anticipated the response: 750,000 participants took to the streets by organizers’ estimates (the Los Angeles Police Department left it at “well past 100,000”). Globally, more than 3 million people took to the streets.

To Katz, who attends Kehillat Israel in Pacific Palisades, the march was an important way to react to Donald Trump’s electoral victory.

“I could either curl up in a ball and cry or try and do something proactive,” she told the Journal, days before the march.

Katz said she had considered buying tickets to fly out to the nation’s capital for the march there, but then had a different thought: “Gosh, if they’re doing it in D.C., maybe we should do it here.” After that, as she told the Journal, there was no turning back.

JEWISH JOURNAL: Have you ever organized anything like this before?

DEENA KATZ: No, I’m a television producer, so this is out of my world. Part of [organizing a march] does feel like you’re producing a really big TV show. [Emiliana Guereca], my co-chair, actually is a producer for live events, so she knew how to deal with permits. Other marches were having more difficulty with that, but that’s what Emmy does. So I’m thrilled we were working together on this.

JJ: Why did you get involved?

DK: Instead of spending the money to fly my sisters, my nieces and my daughter all out to D.C., I think the [American Civil Liberties Union] and Planned Parenthood need that money more right now. And it’s more empowering for it to be in another city to show solidarity. So we thought, even if 5,000 people come, that’ll be pretty amazing.

I reached out to the women that were running the D.C. march and it happened that the woman who’s my co-chair also did the same thing at the same time. We had never met each other and it started, honestly, as the most grass-roots thing. We got everyone involved to volunteer and it’s grown. I’m so proud.

JJ: What has this whole experience been like for you?

It’s been the best experience. The scariest experience. It is the most empowering experience.

DK: It’s been the best experience. The scariest experience. It is the most empowering experience. As fantastic as it is here in Los Angeles, we’re all pretty like-minded here. We get on these calls with the sister marches — because there’s a couple hundred of them around the country now — and to hear the women in Texas and Arizona and parts of North Carolina, where it’s not as easy to be, as it is here, to resist — and talk about empowering, these women are trying to get a couple hundred people in their town to attend, having their kids in school draw posters for it. This is much more difficult for them than it is for us. We’re easily going to have over a million people around the country march on the same day.

JJ: Why march? In your opinion, what’s in jeopardy?

DK: I think human rights are in jeopardy. I think women’s rights. I think reproductive rights. I think immigration rights. I think LGBTQ rights. Environmental rights. Religious rights. You can go on and on and on, sadly. To me, there are so many human rights in jeopardy. More people need to register, get out and vote. Without people voting, we’re not going to make a change. I have a 16-year-old daughter and unfortunately, what we fought for, for so long, I think people are going to have to fight for again.

Deena Katz

Deena Katz

JJ: Describe the shift you’ve witnessed in people, before and after the election?

DK: With my daughter in particular, she didn’t think she had to speak out. She took things a little bit for granted and I think now she’s realizing the power of her voice, the power of her millennial voice. If something comes out of this, it’s the power in people that didn’t necessarily pay attention, didn’t think they had to. So hopefully people will realize that you do have a voice and for me doing this, it energizes me. I’m looking forward to the end of January, I’m looking forward to March, I’m looking forward to June.

Jewish marchers do their part in L.A. on a shabbat to remember

Marchers gather in Pershing Square in downtown Los Angeles on Jan. 21. Photo by Lynn Pelkey

Helicopters and drones circled above Los Angeles on Jan. 21, snapping aerial shots of a city clogged with protesters in a human traffic jam from Pershing Square to City Hall. Organizers of the Women’s March of Los Angeles estimated the crowd at 750,000 as part of a series of marches occurring worldwide — from Washington, D.C., to Tel Aviv — one day after President Donald Trump’s inauguration.

But participants such as Genia Kaplan-Quinn said the event was about more than the new commander-in-chief.

“This is a positive movement. It’s not anti-the orange guy; it’s pro-human rights,” the Temple Emanuel of Beverly Hills congregant said.

Whatever it was, it was big. (The Los Angeles Police Department estimated the crowd at “well past 100,000,” according to a news release.) What originally started as a Facebook post by a retired attorney living in Hawaii evolved into what’s being called the largest protest in U.S. history, attracting more than 3 million marchers across the country.

By the end of the day in L.A., lawns were trampled and posters were abandoned — but, it should be mentioned, no arrests were made.

Kaplan-Quinn said it was important for her to attend with her two teenage daughters, Summer, 16, and Skylar, 14. The mother-and-daughter trio woke up extra early to hitch a bus ride with Temple Emanuel, which organized two buses to transport congregants to and from the event. The transportation alternatives? Some train stops were backed up with two-hour delays and nearby parking lots were crammed full.

Also on the Temple Emanuel bus was Gary Brown, who said he was marching for human rights, alongside his partner, Scott Stone, and their two sons, Harrison, 15, and Ethan, 13. The family discussed the march at the dinner table the previous night.

Maisy Myers, 7, of Porter Ranch, was among the young participants hoisting their signs at the march. Photo by Beth Meyers

Maisy Myers, 7, of Porter Ranch, was among the young participants hoisting their signs at the march. Photo by Beth Meyers

“Women’s rights is important because women’s rights are human rights,” Harrison said. His bashful younger brother agreed, and the whole family recounted watching Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton’s non-acceptance speech on the night of the election.

“The idea of sitting still and doing nothing makes us feel powerless and lazy,” Scott Stone said. When they found out Temple Emanuel was organizing buses, joining them was a no-brainer. “The fact that it’s a Jewish group, we can experience the march with people we know and love,” Stone said.

Rabbi Laura Geller (right), rabbi emerita at Temple Emanuel of Beverly Hills, was part of a contingent from that congregation. Photo by Steve Factor

Rabbi Laura Geller (right), rabbi emerita at Temple Emanuel of Beverly Hills, was part of a contingent from that congregation. Photo by Steve Factor

Event organizers couldn’t have forecast such a turnout. About 98,000 people RSVP’d on Facebook, meaning perhaps 652,000 did not.

Speeches started at 9 a.m. with a lineup of distinguished speakers, including Los Angeles City Councilman Paul Koretz and directors of nonprofits including Planned Parenthood and the National Council of Jewish Women — LA. But after an hour of march-motivating spiels, the crowd started getting restless — tired of standing in one place too long, the space between people too tight to budge.

Former Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa was in the middle of an anecdote about his mother when the crowd broke into a chant.

Photo by David Blumenkrantz

Photo by David Blumenkrantz

What do 750,000 people chanting sound like? At first, it sounds far away, but soon it grows, getting deeper and louder, gaining momentum until it becomes a deafening wave.

“March, march, march!” the crowd chanted.

“I really thought it was a jet plane overhead, but, no, it was the sound of human beings roaring. It sounded like a wave, but it was people’s voices ricocheting off buildings,” said Allison Lee, who helped organize three buses from Leo Baeck Temple to downtown.

“We’ll march soon,” Villaraigosa responded to the frustrated mass, fueled with all this momentum and nowhere to go.

Photo by David Blumenkrantz

Photo by David Blumenkrantz

The members of the crowd were anxious. They were tired. They wanted to roar. Their frustrations were only amplified by the silence of Trump regarding the event. (The new president didn’t recognize the protests until a day later — and then only through a tweet that read, in part: “Watched protests yesterday but was under the impression that we just had an election! Why didn’t these people vote?”)

An hour later, the crowd was still in the same spot, the road too clogged with protesters to allow a march to City Hall.

“Thank you for your patience,” a disembodied voice said over the speakers, as would-be marchers held signs such as “#Free Melania,” “Nasty Women Unite,” and “Keep Your Tiny Hands Off My Uterus.” Many wore the march’s trademark garment: a pink knitted beanie made popular by Southern California activists.

For Rabbi Laura Geller, rabbi emerita at Temple Emanuel, the fact that the march took place on Shabbat was especially momentous. “On Shabbat we imagine the world as we want,” she told the Journal, “and we have to take the steps to make that happen.”

The march was finally underway around 11:30 a.m. “We need a leader, not a tweeter” was just one of many chants shouted on the slow, gradual march to City Hall. Upon arrival, activists were greeted by Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti, who told the vocal marchers, “Today we speak out, but tomorrow we act out!”

Photo by Carla Acevedo-Blumenkrantz

Photo by Carla Acevedo-Blumenkrantz

Many participants did not reach City Hall in time to hear the speakers. Lee was one of those people, but, for her, showing up was most important. “You’d think that standing stuck for an hour and a half, that you could get irritated, but everyone was encouraging and happy to be doing something and getting our voices heard,” she told the Journal.

The number of marchers was so massive that a second stage was set up at Broadway and Sixth Street, where celebrities and musicians — including Kerry Washington, U2’s The Edge and Juliette Lewis — made cameos to support the cause. A very pregnant Natalie Portman took to the stage as well.

“I want to thank our new president. You just started the revolution,” the actress told a cheering crowd before raising her microphone up in victory.

Immediately after, a girl in the crowd yelled at the top of her lungs, proud and defiant: “I am a nasty woman!”

The politics of division and diversion

Demonstrators take part in Women's March D.C. on Jan. 21. Photo by Lucas Jackson/Reuters

On Saturday, millions of people around the world took to the streets in Women’s Marches, proclaiming fidelity to basic fundamental rights for women, people with disabilities, religious minority groups, immigrants and all vulnerable populations.

In the days following the marches, relentless attacks have been leveled against one of the organizers, a Palestinian-American-Muslim activist from Brooklyn named Linda Sarsour. Character assassinations and attempts at guilt-by-association have been disseminated by white supremacists and fake news outlets.

What’s driving these attacks? Why Linda and why now? This smear campaign comes on the heels of what may be the largest mass mobilization in recent history. Marches took place not only in DC, Los Angeles, New York and Chicago; large groups also gathered in Phoenix, Knoxville and Wichita, and folks braved the 15-degree cold to protest in Anchorage. Across the world, in Paris, Tel Aviv, London, Bangalore, women and men stood together for justice and equality. Look at the photos from Antarctica. There’s something happening here.

Clearly, this march struck a nerve. I spoke at the march in DC, where I said that sometimes it happens—maybe once in a generation—that a spirit of resistance is awakened at the intersection of love, faith and holy outrage. This is one of those moments: voices of moral clarity are echoing from the far reaches of the planet calling for love over hate, progress over regress, and inclusion over exclusion.

That would be enough to make some strident traditionalists shake in their boots. But there’s more. This was not only a mass mobilization, it was organized by women. Young women of color to be exact. The leaders were unapologetically feminist. The participants were women and men, LGBTQ and heterosexual, Black, Brown and white, Jews, Muslims, Christians, Catholics, Sikhs, people of all faiths and none. In a country still propelled by the rule of powerful white men, this was deeply threatening. The language was one of love and moral courage, reflecting a significant shift in both consciousness and power, signaling the emergence of a new kind of leadership and driven by a new set of priorities.

What to do when the ground begins to shake? Distract, disrupt and discredit. Paint a young activist and mother as a fundamentalist Muslim who wants a Sharia takeover of America. No matter that that’s not who Linda Sarsour is, what’s important is that the seed of suspicion is planted in the minds of otherwise thoughtful and discerning people, who quickly begin to worry that this new movement is tinged by violent extremism.

These attacks are clearly an attempt to undermine the legitimacy and importance of what happened on Saturday, to divert attention from the unprecedented grass-roots protests against a dangerous and retrograde agenda that threatens the very democratic core of our nation.

Of course, apart from the fake news and outright lies, many will still disagree with Linda’s views on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. As a rabbi and progressive Zionist, I, too, disagree with Linda on many of these views, and she and I have had fruitful and respectful conversations where our perspectives diverge. That we disagree does not disqualify her as a serious activist and leader, nor does it tarnish or diminish the outstanding work she is doing as an organizer fighting racial and gender injustice.

The Women’s March organizers achieved something extraordinary last weekend. It was a massive peaceful, positive and hopeful demonstration, and I was honored to be part of it. It was, in fact, Linda who invited me to have a voice at the podium. And when the hour grew late, it was Linda who insisted that we not end the program until I had a chance to speak.

In this time of rising demagoguery and vicious personal attacks, we have to carefully discern between real news and fake, between actual facts and “alternative facts,” between guilt and guilt-by-association.

And we must recognize that in multi-faith and coalitional politics, we won’t agree on all issues all the time. As I said at the march, I believe our nation is suffering from a soul crisis, rooted in a cynical politics that pits vulnerable populations against each other. The antidote to this toxic new reality is spiritual resistance, a reawakening to our shared humanity. One nation, indivisible. It is our job to stop shouting and start listening long enough to find the humanity and shared purpose even in people who hold perspectives that differ from our own.

We are living now in dangerous times, and we’ll see more campaigns of diversion. Remember that resistance is a muscle. We are going to have to get very good at distinguishing between the real story and the obfuscation. In this case, we can start by going back to the real story: the radiant display of faith, hope and solidarity on the streets this past Saturday.


Sharon Brous is rabbi and founder of IKAR Los Angeles.

Saturday at the Women’s March LA

At the Women’s March LA last Saturday, there was a lot of competition for Cleverest Sign.

“UterUS!”  “NYET MY PRESIDENT.”MAKE RUSSIA GREAT AGAIN” “RESISTANCE IS FERTILE”  “OY!”   “WHEN THEY GO LOW, WE GO CHAI.”

It was entertaining, but it also made me face an inconvenient truth: one side has by far the best comedy writers; the other side has both houses of Congress and the Presidency.

I wasn’t planning on attending the march.  For one thing, it was billed as the Women’s March.  I felt I’d be crashing.  Also, I believe our new President deserves a chance to actually do something before people take to the streets.   Better to  outrage over policy than reality.  At the very least, I thought, give the guy a chance.

But then came the bizarre “American Carnage” inauguration speech, where President Donald Trump laid out a vision of America so dark and counter-factual that it felt like a patriotic act to speak up en masse against it. He is my president, but that's not my America.

I woke up Saturday morning to find out my son was at the New York march, my daughter was already on the Expo line headed downtown, and my 86 year-old mother was on her way. So many friends were already posting march selfies on Instagram.  As the song goes, “There’s something happening here, what it is ain’t exactly clear….”

By 11 am I was among the estimated 750,000 marchers downtown.

It was massive. Peaceful. Entertaining (those signs!).  Uplifting.  They came more in joy than in anger—the energy of each person’s decision to get up and go affirming and feeding the next person’s.   If the election results, transition and inauguration filled these people with a sense of gloom, this was the massive antidote. I realize if you love Trump you feel duty-bound to hate or disparage the marches, but trust me, when Americans of all different creeds, backgrounds, colors and ages get together peaceably as one, it says something good about our country, and to the world.

The protest posters grouped around several concerns: women’s rights, climate change, Russian influence in the election, immigration rights, tolerance. There was the ubiquitous “Love Trumps Hate,” a slogan I always found hypocritical at best.  My guess is that most of the people who say it do in fact hate: they hate Trump.

Many, many signs used the P word.  Trump, the evangelical’s candidate of choice, has managed to make the P as much a part of our everyday language as Bill Clinton did the BJ.  That Obama was such a prude.

As a Jewish journalist, I can say it was likely one of the largest–ever single gatherings of Jews in Los Angeles. Of course, they melted into the larger crowd, but do the math. Not just did Jewish groups like National Council of Jewish Women,  Jewish World Watch and synagogues take part, but a good part of the 70-80 percent of LA Jews who voted against Trump—Democrats, Republicans, Independents—came out as well.  How do I know?  I recognized them.  I saw their signs.  People stopped me and asked if the Jewish Journal was covering the march.  (We did.)

And for those who wonder where the next generatiuon of Jews have gone, what's happened to the millennials, why aren’t they involved, what gets them up and motivated?  All you had to do was be at the march. They were there.

It was partially a Jewish march, and it was also a men’s march.  At least one third of the participants if not more were men.  They were there in support.  But they were also there in shared outrage and concern.  One woman carried a sign that read, “I'M MAD ABOUT TOO MANY THINGS FOR JUST ONE SIGN!”  As she passed me, the flip side read, “My husband stayed up and made this poster for me.  How great is he???”

From afar, it’s easy to be cynical about these kinds of things.  Where were these people were when Hillary Clinton needed voters and foot soldier?  What can come out of a lot of people chanting and whining?

After all, just a day after the marches Trump went ahead and instituted the so-called Mexico City rules, which prevent American overseas aid to NGOs that fund abortions as part of their family planning services.  A 2012 study found that when the policy was in effect under George W. Bush,  unintended pregnancies in sub-Saharan African nations increased and abortions approximately doubled.  In countries where rape is epidemic, women will suffer even more. But facts didn't matter, protest didn't matter, politics did.

But to be at the march was to understand its purpose.  It was to be uplifted by the deepest American traditions of free speech, peaceful protest and democratic assembly. To be moved by the enduring Jewish calls for justice and the prophetic tradition of dissent.

At the time of the march, no one there could know that around the world, on all seven continents, millions more were marching as well, convinced they were pursuing justice. 

Who knows?  Maybe organizers will figure a way to harness and focus the power of these crowds.   Maybe the president and his advisors will take notice, and act in ways that minimize mass dissent—or, God forbid, in ways that outlaw it. 

But what became clear to me that Saturday morning was that if elections have consequences, so too does losing the popular vote by 3 million.  Electoral college electors don't march.  Voters do.

By the days end, I didn’t hear the speeches.  The crowds were so vast we couldn’t get close enough to the City Hall stage.  As it was we cut through the lobby of the Biltmore to get to Pershing Square.  If you read elsewhere in some “alternative fact” account of this event that it was a riot of radicals, let the record show that at 1 pm every table in the Biltmore lobby was full of protesters, taking a break, over tea.

We emerged into an even thicker crowd, beside two women hoisting posters that read, in Hebrew, “Justice, Justice Shall You Pursue.”

That’s a good quote for a Jewish protester, but if I were the poster-carrying type, I’d have chosen this quote, from the late Rabbi Avraham Isaac Kook: “I don't speak because I have the power to speak, I speak because I don't have the power to remain silent.”


ROB ESHMAN is publisher and editor-in-chief of TRIBE Media Corp./Jewish Journal. Email him at robe@jewishjournal.com. You can follow him on Instagram and Twitter @foodaism and @RobEshman.

Women’s March D.C.: Here for one another

Sunday I boarded a plane back to LA after walking with my daughter Rebecca, 22, at the Women’s March in Washington, D.C. 

We started Saturday morning among a bimah full of inspirational women leaders in the salmon pink walled sanctuary at the historic synagogue, Sixth & I. We walked on Shabbat, in a sea of marching Jewish home-made sign- and banner-carrying pilgrims, and prayed, in the words of Abraham Joshua Heschel, “ with our feet.”

And this is what I learned I pray to live in a world where we are here for each other.

I arrived on a plane to D.C. after a broken overhead bin resulted in a checked bag, which turned into a lost bag. Good-bye pink knitted pussy gear, good-bye warm coat and sundry staples. I spent most of the weekend feeling a bit un-equipped, and it put me at the mercy of those who were in a position to throw me a line.

I was grateful to find people who were kind and helpful, from strangers who shared phone chargers to friends who schlepped warm clothes on crowded metros across the city to make it possible for me to march.  I was reminded what a privilege, and indeed a critical feature of dignity and safety, it is to be warm and be surrounded by people sympathetic to my needs.

Over the course of the march weekend, I was privileged to meet, to witness and to hear from many people who converged on the city to share a vision for the world that is both bold protest and compassionate intervention. A vision that seeks to protect our planet for future generations, and that spins outward from a center that is rooted in care for the vulnerable. 

On this march that meant the people and institutions that have been the focus of attack —  people of color, Jews and Muslims, refugees and immigrants, LGBTQ, Americans who are poor, children seeking education in our public schools, disabled Americans and Veterans , those who rely on affordable health care and women who refuse to relinquish control-legally, morally or physically-over their own bodies.

I met a group of marchers who were the lionesses and change-makers of the women’s movement in the 1970’s, including civil rights lawyer Judith Lonnquist, and her daughter Victory Lonnquist who just completed a 6 month activist residency at Standing Rock , where she, a trained firefighter herself, was blasted with ice cold water in sub zero conditions by local firefighters. She said there was no way for her to really understand what was happening there without showing up, digging in and living there and hearing from members of the tribe, in intimate and meaningful ways that only standing side by side makes possible.

I met Mushe Tgaw, a taxi driver and an Ethiopian immigrant.

“You mean like Moshe?” I asked him.

“Yeah, like Moses,” he said.  “My mother named me after Moshe Dayan because my people are great admirers of Israe.”

He didn’t think much of the march until his daughters, Abegael 16, Egla 14, Sara 10, asked to go.

“They told  me, ‘Daddy we want to be a part of history.’”

He smiled. The proud immigrant father of two daughters born in Ethiopia and his youngest, born into the promise of America. He was able to become a citizen but he wonders if those who come after will be , “as lucky as me.”

I met Jerry and Wally, a gay couple who travelled from Massachusetts to D.C. to march for men and women walking the path toward marriage equality after them.  Wally is a Hispanic immigrant, and they were able to obtain good legal counsel and had the good luck of finding love during the Obama years in a state with progressive legislation. But they worry that a young gay immigrant who falls in love during the Trump administration will have not one but two obstacles against them in the fulfillment of their civil rights and dignity. They marched for all those young couples who may fall in love and wish to build a life together in this “new era.”

And I met Jane Plitt, the very first staffer ever for the National Organization of Women in Chicago in the 1970’s and an early championess of womens’ birthright to equal wages, equal rights and the dignity to preside over their own bodies. For her, the walk was magnificent because it represented the next wave of feminist leadership to finish the work that she and her sisters started. She said with a tear in her eye, that it was important to her, a relief, and something she was not sure she would see before she died. But here she was, seeing it, and I saw it, with deep appreciation for my daughter Rebecca and her generation, too.

And I witnessed our magnificent Rabbi, Rabbi Sharon Brous modeling humanity from the march stage in our nation’s capitol. Where she reminded us all that our hearts are capacious, and we can build a better world if we join hands with the compassion in one another, with each step, with each prayer, with each person, millions and millions of women and girls, and the men who love them, strong.


Samara Hutman is  the Director of Remember Us I The Holocaust Bnai Mitzvah and Righteous Conversations Projects.

Rabbi Sharon Brous speaks at Women’s March D.C.

The nation we love is in crisis, and it is not only a political crisis. It is a moral crisis. A SOUL crisis.

But we know how to navigate troubled terrain.

Thousands of years ago, the Hebrew people were brutally enslaved in Egypt. The story of their redemption from bondage has planted in our collective consciousness the deepest human truth: that though we suffer, the trajectory of history moves from slavery to freedom, darkness to light, narrowness to expansiveness.

We all remember Moses standing before Pharaoh proclaiming, “Let my people go.” But the quiet heroes of that liberation movement were two women, Shifra and Puah, midwives ordered by Pharaoh to take the lives of the firstborn male Hebrew children.

What Pharaoh did not know was that Shifra and Puah feared no man, they feared only the Holy One. So they risked their lives to resist the Empire and defy the evil decree.

Many believe Shifra and Puah were Hebrew women, rising up against an existential threat to their people. But others claim they were Egyptian, which made their decision to protect the Hebrews even more heroic. They entered the fray for their sisters because they understood they were a part of what Dr. King would later call an inescapable network of mutuality, tied in a single garment of destiny.

Like Egypt, our country dwells today in narrow straits.

But we are not powerless. Those midwives armed us with a blueprint for spiritual resistance: the marriage of radical empathy and moral action.

Sometimes—maybe once in a generation—a spirit of resistance is awakened at the intersection of love, faith and holy outrage. In those moments, we are reminded what we’re fighting for, what our armed forces are willing to die for, what this country was built for and what our flag flies for: liberty and justice, for all.

This is one of those sacred moments. Today, around the country, we, the people, stand together in protest, proclaiming our fidelity to love over hate, progress over regress, and inclusion over exclusion.

Today, spiritual resistance is Black, Latino and white folks fighting—together—the systemic racism that is the legacy of slavery and Jim Crow, and working—together—to welcome immigrants and refugees to our country with dignity and compassion, for we, too, were strangers.

It is Jews and Muslims, Christians, Catholics, Sikhs—people of all faiths and none—standing together to reject a Muslim registry, to reject all forms of Islamophobia, anti-Semitism, and any other discrimination against a religious minority.

Spiritual resistance is white women and women of color, gay, trans and heterosexual women and MEN of all stripes rejecting the political machinations that would turn us against each other, instead affirming our fundamental interconnectedness.

Because you see, our soul crisis is rooted in a cynical politics that pits vulnerable populations against each other. But spiritual resistance reawakens us to our shared humanity. One nation, indivisible.

Our children will one day ask us: where were you when our country was thrust into a lion’s den of demagoguery and division? We will say: I stood with love. I stood with hope. I stood with sisters and brothers of all religions and races and genders and sexualities to insist that we will emerge from the darkness and bask in the brilliance of an America that honors the infinite worth of all of God’s children.

This is an America that believes that all people deserve to live free from demonization, disenfranchisement, and denigration, that white supremacy and misogyny have no place in our diverse nation, that all people deserve affordable health care and a living wage, that our economic anxiety need not turn us against one another, but can, instead, help us understand one another.

This is an America that is sustained—not threatened—by its diversity.

This is an America fueled by hope, the greatest act of defiance against a politics of pessimism and culture of despair.

Our nation was built on lofty ideals of justice and equality—ideals that our founders themselves failed to realize, but which nevertheless perpetually lift our gaze toward the promise of a better America.

The only way we’ll realize those ideals and heal from our soul-sickness is TOGETHER. As the great civil rights leader Fannie Lou Hamer said: “You don’t have to like everybody, but you have to love everybody.” Lift up the hand of someone to your left and to your right. We are the vast and varied manifestations of hope and love and spiritual defiance that will hold our nation to its greatest aspirations. We are the agents of change.

Together, we will stand against the moral bankruptcy that threatens our democracy.

Together, we will reclaim truth and lift our voices for justice and mercy.

Together, we will become midwives of a new era in America.

Shabbat shalom—may this holy day bring peace to all of us, and peace to our beloved country.


Sharon Brous is founder and senior rabbi at IKAR Los Angeles.