Category Archives: Uncategorized

Ben Carson and East Jerusalem—by Peter Eisenstadt

Ben Carson likes guns. And he likes people who like guns. And he likes people who like people who like guns. For those of us who don’t like guns, he has no patience. He had no sympathy with those killed last week at Umpqua Community College—if you’re not armed, he complained, it’s your own fault. And he has scant sympathy for Jews killed in the Holocaust. If only Jews had been armed, “the likelihood of Hitler being able to accomplish his goals would have been greatly diminished.” Makes sense. All the Jews needed to do to defeat Hitler was to organize a comparable military force; let’s say about 10 million men under arms, along with 670,000 tanks and armored vehicles, 1.3 million artillery pieces, and about 230,000 combat aircraft. read more

Self-Ownership—by Ayala Emmett

For the Moses Cartoon
Self-Ownership—by Ayala Emmett
Republican leaders came to Washington last week to do the people’s business. They were rightly energized by the elections and animated by the fact that they now have a comfortable majority in both houses of congress. There are numerous issues facing the nation in 2015, such as endemic racism, immigration, growing economic disparities, soaring students loans, crumbling infrastructure, failing schools, and global warming. read more

Gertrud J. Lind


ARBEIT MACHT* FREI—by Gertrud J. Lind
Reviled German words: “Work Sets You Free” or “Work”, “Power”, “Free”.
Bringing visions of multitudes who slaved behind that gate,
Each one surely praying for the last, to be “frei”.
In the middle of “Macht”, the mighty Nazi power,
They were caught, “frei” only their “Arbeit”, their labor.

Madness reigned behind these words,
And madness and very
Clever calculation drove that “Macht”.
Hate unleashed, unchecked, unchallenged.
Think what it did. read more

Presence and Absence of Naming & Names in Torah—by Matia Kam

Presence and Absence of Naming & Names in Torah
Matia Kam

On Being a Levite

These are the names of Lev’s sons according to their lineage” (6:16)
“Amram took for a wife his father’s sister Jochebed and she bore him Aaron and Moses”(6:20)

Torah begins chapter six with a list of names and lineages to place Aaron and Moses in the genealogy as the descendants of Kohath, one of Levi’s sons. The list of names starts with Reuben, the eldest, followed by Simeon, who was followed by Levi. This outlines the lineage and takes up the names Amram and Jochebed who were nameless in the previous Parsha (mentioned there only as a Levite man and a Levite woman, and as “the child’s mother”). In this Parsha, in chapter six we have a detailed four-generation family that includes names of Aaron’s wife, his children’s names and his grandson Phinehas. So who is absent from the list? Miriam, the sister of Moses and Aaron and most significantly Moses’ wife and children are absent. This is curious since the text states twice that the purpose of the list is to describe “Aaron and Moses” (6:26-27) yet it surely strikes us that Moses family is not mentioned. read more

My Mom and Lauren Bacall—by Peter Eisenstadt

My Mom and Lauren Bacall—by Peter Eisenstadt

My Mom and Lauren Bacall

Peter Eisenstadt

My mom loved Lauren Bacall. Perhaps that is not the right word. My mom was Lauren Bacall. You have to understand that my late mother, Betty Eisenstadt (nee Cooperstein) was not the sort of woman who spent her time pouring over movie magazines or gazing at Hollywood stars. She was a serious young woman. But the similarities were too strong and striking to be ignored.

They were both Bettys. Bacall was born Betty Joan Perske. (My mom was actually born Bessie Cooperstein, but when she was a teenager her sisters told her that Bessie was a name for a cow, not a young woman, and she became Betty.) They were about the same age—Bacall was two years older than my mom. They both were native New Yorkers who grew up on Manhattan’s Upper West Side, or really, in Yorkville, when it still was one of the largest German communities in the city. (My mom remembered her and her girlfriends trying to disturb assemblies of the pro-Nazi German-American Bund by throwing paper bags of horse manure into meetings.) They both attended the same high school, Julia Richman, a “commercial school” that tracked many bright young women, like my mom and Lauren Bacall, away from a college prep, academic track. And perhaps most important, they both were Jews, daughters of immigrants, members of the first large cohort of Eastern European Jews born in the United States. 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.

Divestment: A Reply to Jewish Friends—by Drew Ludwig

Divestment: A Reply to Jewish Friends
Drew Ludwig

The General Assembly deliberated for quite some time, and was careful as to what we were doing, and to what we were saying–and not saying. I was there, and can speak to the prayer and thought that went into this action.

We are

not divesting from Israel, nor are we labeling Israel an apartheid state. We also acted to clearly state that this action is not an endorsement of, or participation in the BDS movement.

Instead, we have chosen to divest from three particular companies that are not in line with our pre-determined strategy of non-investment in military technology. Our MRTI team (Mission Responsibility Through Investment) team has not only investigated these technologies, but has also engaged each of the companies in an attempt to bring our investments back in line with our values–repeatedly–to no avail. read more

Dhaka Low-Income Women, Confinement and Postpartum Depression—by Anaise Williams

Dhaka Low-Income Women, Confinement and Postpartum Depression
Anaise Williams
U.S. Fulbright Project

Nothing has changed since before the birth, I just have to take more care and feed another person, she says simply while passing me a cup of cha with ginger. Shopna had her first baby 6 months ago in her family’s Bangladeshi village in Borishal, assisted by her mother and aunt, and returned to Dhaka 3 months after the birth to be with her husband, a furniture maker in the slum. Today I, unintentionally of course, woke her up at 11am while knocking on the locked door to her single room to do a follow-up interview for my project on postpartum depression. read more

The BDS Debate In Our House—by Kathleen Kern

The BDS Debate In Our House
Kathleen Kern

My husband and I met because of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. A progressive Israeli-American, he came to hear me give a presentation called “Eye-witness to the Intifada” in November 2001 and asked good questions. A few months later, we met at another Middle East peace event, talked for hours afterwards and have been together ever since.

While some may view us as an odd couple—a secular Israeli Jew and a religious Mennonite who works with a human rights organization in Palestine—we agree on the most fundamental issues at work in the Israeli Palestinian conflict. We believe that Palestinians and Israelis are entitled to the same human rights; no exceptions. We agree that the Israeli military occupation must end. We agree that Israeli leaders, supported by the U.S. Congress, have been most responsible for scuttling effective peace negotiations, but that most official Palestinian leaders have not done well by their people either. read more