A Friendship Remembered—by Ayala Emmett*

IMG_0587Today May 23, is a beautiful spring day that B.J. would have loved, blue skies, sunny and warm.  It is today on her birthday that I feel B.J.’s absent presence in the space where friendship is of the essence.

We were introduced two years ago on a Friday night as we both leaned carefully on a counter loaded with Sabbath food and B.J. spoke Hebrew to me immediately right there, in the kitchen.

The rich aroma of spices filled the air, and somehow we skipped the formal conversation of people who have just met. We talked about writing. She wrote, I found out, mostly creative non-fiction and poetry was not her favorite genre. She was about to publish her memoir.

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The Clinton/Sanders Conundrum—by Peter Eisenstadt

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What should the Dems do? Should Sanders fight until the convention? Should he graciously concede if he has no chance of winning the nomination? How and in what form should Clinton reach out to Sanders and his supporters? These are some of the most pressing issues of the day.

I raise these issues because recently some of the friends of The Jewish Pluralist have complained that there is a pro-Clinton bias in our coverage in the US elections. They’re correct, just as there has been a consistent anti-Netanyahu “bias” in our coverage of Israeli politics.   The two American editors, Ayala and myself, both supported Clinton in the primaries.   This is accidental. It just happened that both of us, independently, and without consultation, after carefully looking at the alternatives, decided to back Hillary Clinton in the primaries. I won’t speak for Ayala, I did so because, tactically, I believed and still believe that she has the best chance of winning in November.

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Why Detroit’s “Walk for Israel” excludes progressives?—by Maya Haber

Walk for Israel at Temple Shir Shalom. May 18, 2014. Photo by David Guralnick
Walk for Israel at Temple Shir Shalom. May 18, 2014. Photo by David Guralnick

May is a celebratory month for supporters of Israel: Israel’s Independence Day, the Israel Day Parade in New York, and smaller Walks for Israel in cities all over the United States. Detroit is one such city poised to host its eleventh annual Walk for Israel.

We at Partners for Progressive Israel wished to join this year’s Walk for Israel in Detroit. But for the second consecutive year the Detroit Walk for Israel steering committee unilaterally decided to prevent us and Americans for Peace Now from participating. They say their mission is to “unite the metropolitan Detroit community to celebrate the establishment of the modern Jewish State of Israel and support its right to live in peace and security.” So why are they dividing the community by deeming who is and isn’t an adequate supporter of Israel’s “right to live in peace and security?”

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A Donald Trump Supporter on DeKalb Avenue Sounds Off—by Peter Eisenstadt

IMG_4281So, to get to the point, just a few days ago, on what is now one of my infrequent trips to New York City, I found myself, standing at the DeKalb Avenue station in Brooklyn, waiting for an R train, going to my brother’s house.

It was about 10:30 at night, and there were only a few persons on the platform, and as a veteran of New York City of the 70s and 80s, I immediately started to scan the passengers on the platform. And then, from the other end of the platform, a man started to shout. A white dude, about 40-50 years old, shabbily dressed, powerfully built. His rant went something like this: “F–ing kikes, goddam f–ing kikes, I hate f–ing kikes, f–ing kikes, Hitler was right, we need to put them in the ovens. I went to Bellevue ten times, and every time the f–ing kikes took my money and robbed me. F–ing kikes, Donald Trump will know how to take care of the f–ing kikes.”

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Memorial Day–by Combatants for Peace Movement in coalition with Parents Circle – Families Forum

Make Peace
Make Peace

As we do every year, on the evening Memorial Day, Combatants for Peace Movement in coalition with Parents Circle – Families Forum, will conduct the 11th Israeli-Palestinian Memorial Day Ceremony. The event will be held on May 10th 2016 at Shlomo Group Arena, Tel Aviv at 9:00pm.

images-81On this evening we all gather – Israelis and Palestinians – to remember the victims of violence on both sides, and to remind everyone that war is not an act of fate. The recent period in our region is a period of violence, tension and suffering for both people, and many additional families have already been added to the cycle of bereavement and pain.

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TO SEE THE OTHER –BY COMBATANTS FOR PEACE

MakePeaceThe Israeli-Palestinian Memorial Day ceremony, which has been held on the eve of Memorial Day for the last eleven consecutive years, comes to remind us that war is not an act of fate but one of human choice.

This ceremony is the largest annual event held by the Combatants for Peace movement. On this particularly difficult day we call upon both sides to acknowledge the pain and the aspirations of those living on the other side of the fence and for each of us to strive to prevent the next war. Perhaps during next year’s Memorial Day, additional losses will not have to reckoned with. At the ceremony, Israeli and Palestinian bereaved families speak about their personal pain.

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THE MATINÉE IDOL—By Martha Nemes Fried

I have always been an avid theatergoer. Klári, one of my friends at lycée, and I went to the theater every Saturday afternoon from the time we were fourteen years old. Fortunately, my mother considered the viewing of a play a culturally enriching experience and approved my regular attendance. I became infatuated with a matinée idol by the time I was fifteen. Had my mother known about my crush on an actor she would have responded with extreme distress and grounded me for at least a month. For a while I was content with worshiping the object of my infatuation from my orchestra seat, but after a couple of months this became less than satisfactory and my mind was busily at work hatching a variety of plans to secure a personal encounter.

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The Spectrum: There is no one Judaism, no one Zionism—by Adam E. Chanes

not one
not one

Unshackle NU and Northwestern Divest inappropriately provided wholesale definitions of Jewish and Zionist identities in their letter to North by Northwestern last quarter. By asserting that Judaism is “a religious identity” and that Zionism is merely a “political identity,” the two campaigns inexcusably lay a claim on the identities of others. They cannot accept that Judaism is not always “religious.” They do not appreciate that a Zionist identity is, for many like myself, an entirely religious experience deeply rooted in Torah thought and practice, a way I serve God. And they don’t allow a Zionist like me to fight Israeli racism and express solidarity against institutional anti-blackness.

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We Stand With Simone–by Open Hillel

Open Hillel
Open Hillel

Open Hillel is saddened to hear that the Sanders campaign has bowed to pressure from organizations that suppress discourse on Israel and has suspended Simone Zimmerman from her position as Jewish Outreach Coordinator.

Simone is an accomplished and committed organizer and longtime Open Hillel supporter who has demonstrated her dedication to both the Jewish community and to social justice issues more broadly.

The Sanders campaign clearly understood her to be highly qualified for this position; yet they caved to pressure from Abe Foxman, former head of the AntiDefamation League; the World Jewish Congress; and relentless badgering from the rightwing press. These individuals’ and organizations’ efforts to discredit Simone mirror the sort of McCarthyism that “mainstream” American Jewish organizations consistently display in working to silence critics of Israeli policy and supporters of Palestinian human rights.

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JEWISH PEOPLEHOOD, ZIONISM AND ISRAEL—by Edward S. Goldstein

Herzl on his way to Palestine 1898
Herzl on his way
to Palestine 1898

There is increasing debate about the nature and legitimacy of Zionism and the State of Israel. It is a sign of our times that the approach is often zero sum: either Zionism and Israel are A-OK and any criticism is forbidden or both the movement and state are wholly illegitimate and any regard for either is deplored.

We can do better than this. Like most things in life, these matters involve nuance and require analysis and understanding. Politics sometimes requires careful thought, not just sloganeering or frantic advocacy. In a careful – in fact, pained – spirit I offer the following.

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