Monthly Archives: September 2015

A Complicated Biography that Touches My Heart—by Matia Kam

I chose to focus on the biblical verse, “And Jacob said to Pharaoh…Few and hard have been the years of my life.” (Genesis 47:9]. This is not necessarily my most favorite verse in Torah, however it always touches my heart. I am fond of the person Jacob-Israel our forefather, despite of his all too human weaknesses and missteps. But mostly I like the honesty, self-awareness and sorrow that the verse reveals. At this moment in the Torah narrative Jacob-Israel is at the end of his life standing before the all-powerful Egyptian Pharaoh answering the ruler’s informative question, “How many are the years of your life?” His answer is just a few words, without self-pity yet, it is personal and acknowledges his complicated and anguished life. In his answer he is giving a self-account for himself and not necessarily to inform Pharaoh. His complicated life dotted by sorrow and grief is emblematic of his namesake, of his descendants the people Israel. read more

A Crisis in Social Psychology—by Shira Gabriel

I am writing about a crisis in social psychology.

But, before I address the crisis, some background: Recently, a lot of press has been given to the Science article reporting that many psychological effects, in particular social psychological effects, did not replicate in a large scale replication project. Since deciding what replicated and what did not isn’t as easy as it sounds (does it need to be significant to be successful? In the right direction? Consistent with the theory?), the exact percentage of studies isn’t clear, but, to be safe, let’s say over 50%. In other words, over 50% of studies didn’t replicate when another researcher (not the original one who published the original paper) tried to replicate them. That sounds really bad. But it isn’t the crisis I want to write about. read more

A First Harvest and a Leader’s Last Message–by Ayala Emmett

He was a leader who knew that his days were numbered and he wanted to make sure that his message would survive him and become a people’s legacy. It was not so much that he sought fame because he was already a preeminent leader; he was a liberator when slavery was the social norm, he freed a people when emancipation was unheard of. He was a radical proponent of One God when monotheism was not dominant. He was an exceptional leader, but not a perfect human being; he probably was not attentive to his wife and children, lost his temper, had a hard time delegating, and blamed the whole nation for losing his most precious wish, to enter the holy land. He publicly expressed the grudge he held against them, “because of you, God was incensed with me too, and told me ‘you shall not enter it. Joshua son of Nun, who stands before you, he shall enter it’” (Deuteronomy 1:37). read more

Inclusive and Exclusive Citizenship–by Peter Eisenstadt

Citizenship has been in the news. Donald Trump wants to abolish “birthright citizenship” for Americans, primarily so he can expel some four million American citizens and their foreign born Central American or Mexican-born parents from the United States. And in Europe there is the sad spectacle of hundreds of thousands of essentially stateless refugees, desperate to flee war-torn Syria and Iraq, making their way to the safer haven of Europe in any way they can, herded like cattle, treated like produce, dying on the water, dying on the land. read more

Food Stamps, Truth, and Hope at a Local Supermarket –by Ayala Emmett

I was standing in line at a suburban supermarket, thankful that there were only two people ahead of me, and expecting no more than the usual checkout routine. The cashier and the shopper had a friendly discussion about the amount of money on the debit card. Both women seemed to be in the same age-bracket, in their early thirties, the customer was African American the cashier was white.

I began to put my items on the counter when the next in line, a white older man said to the cashier, “Those people, they don’t like to work. Why should they? Obama gives them food stamps.” read more

J Street Statement On Gaza Conflict

J Street Statement On Gaza Conflict

J Street the Political Home for Pro-Israel Pro-Peace Americans


For more than three weeks now, fierce violence has raged between Israel and Hamas, taking an enormous toll in human life and suffering. J Street is deeply shocked and saddened by the losses suffered in this round of violence, from dozens of Israeli soldiers and civilians to the more than a thousand Gaza residents dead, and thousands more wounded.

Our hearts go out to the families of all those who have died or been injured, in particular the children whose lives have been cut short by this deadly conflict. The devastation and homelessness in Gaza must be addressed immediately or the suffering there will only continue to lay the seeds for further and deeper violence.

J Street’s position on the violence and our recommendations for actions to end it are as follows:

  • It is time for the fighting to end through a sustainable cease-fire agreement. J Street strongly supports Israel’s right to defend itself proportionately against the threat of relentless rockets and to destroy tunnels leading into Israel. We agree with Shimon Peres and other Israeli officials that the military objectives have largely been exhausted and it’s now time for Israel to look for a way out of Gaza.  Unltimately, there is no military victory over an ideology and no military solution to a fundamentally political conflict. We adamantly oppose calls for Israel to “reoccupy Gaza”.
  • We support efforts by President Obama and Secretary of State Kerry as well as the engagement of other countries such as Egypt to bring about an immediate cease-fire. Any such cease-fire must account for Israel’s security concerns, specifically from rockets and tunnels, as well as Palestinian humanitarian needs, and should be structured to lead to negotiations to establish arrangements related to security, political issues and humanitarian assistance. We support the inclusion of the Palestinian Authority in the cease-fire and in the negotiations around security, political arrangements and humanitarian assistance.
  • We are deeply offended by attacks on and mischaracterizations of the Secretary’s efforts to resolve this crisis and his relationship to the state of Israel. We believe his pursuit of not only a cease-fire but a two-state solution represents the highest possible form of friendship to Israel and all the people of the region, and we salute and support the Secretary for his efforts.
  • Every effort should be made to establish arrangements that minimize the chances that another round of violence erupts again in two years. A real solution for Gaza must (a) address Israel’s legitimate security concerns from both rockets and tunnels, (b) establish a structure that brings the West Bank and Gaza together politically and allows Palestinian differences to be settled politically, and (c) address the serious humanitarian issues that face the civilian population in Gaza including greater freedom of movement for people and goods for non-military purposes. J Street supports those suggesting that cease-fire negotiations be used to advance prospects for a Palestinian unity government committed to early elections and demilitarization in Gaza. Allowing the previously-signed reconciliation agreement between Palestinian factions to move forward as part of the cease-fire deal might pave the way for a Palestinian government with a broad mandate and committed to a long-term cease-fire.
  • The ongoing conflict between Israelis and Palestinians and the violence it spawns cannot be addressed without looking at the deeper issues at stake in the underlying Israeli-Palestinian conflict. This conflict didn’t start when the latest rockets began flying three weeks ago or with the terrible kidnapping and murder of three teenagers or Israel’s response to that incident. The roots of this conflict remain the tragic fight between two peoples over one land and the unresolved status of territory won by Israel in the 1967 war that has been occupied since and on which the Palestinian people will one day build their state. Failure to address and resolve these underlying issues through a two-state solution condemns both peoples to a never-ending spiral of violence that will only deepen as technology improves and hatred festers.
  • We remain absolutely committed to achieving a comprehensive diplomatic resolution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict that results in two states for two peoples. A never-ending and deepening cycle of violence will do nothing to advance that cause. Only a two-state solution that resolves the underlying conflict will ensure Israel’s safety, security and legitimacy as the democratic homeland of the Jewish people and provide the Palestinian people with freedom, dignity and self-determination.