if the site hadn’t been hacked.

  • ICE Raids hit the Bay Area a day after May Day, including scaring the shit out of kids at Berkeley schools
  • After the exchange with Eden last week about transgender youth, I thought I’d plug this amazing, indepth interview series that NPR is doing right now on trans youth.
  • Joseph Gindi gave one of the best talks I’ve heard in awhile about Israel, Palestine, and why ethnic nationalism strikes a discordant note in the goal of achieving true democracy at the Righteous Indignation conference. What I appreciated most about this panel was not that the ideas were new, but how much the panelists strived to use language that moved beyond the rhetoric we all often fall prey to that divides people.
  • Police brutality in Philadephia has raised alarms, particularly because the vicious beating of three Black men, Brian Hall, 23, Pete Hopkins,19, and Dwayne Duches, 24, was caught on tape by FOX helicopters. Folks in the media world always say, that when it comes to talking about race and racism in the U.S. media and larger public domain, documentation is paramount.
  • Before I headed to the RI conference, I had the pleasure of joining JVoices contributors’ Robin Washington and Rabbi Capers Funnye at the Be’chol Lashon think tank, which you can read a bit about in the Forward and JTA. On a personal note, it was BEYOND refreshing to be in a room with folks whose perspective on Jewish life was not limited to the U.S. mainstream-dominated narrative of intermarriage or continuity, but rather the breadth of Jewish life in Global Jewry. I should also say, a hearty mazel tov to Alysa Stanton for being the first African-American female to receive her semicha as a reform Rabbi in the next two weeks!
  • And I’ll round this out by plugging a really great fact sheet on “Jews from the Middle East,” written by Sephardic scholar Ilise Cohen and up on Jewish Voice for Peace’s site. This sheet gives a much broader perspective on Jewish global migration, and the impact of the founding of Israel on Sephardi and Mizrahi communities. “Of a total Israeli population of 7 million, over 2.5 million (35-40%) are Mizrahim, about 1 million (15%) are Russian immigrants who came in the last 20 years, about 1.4 million (20%) are Palestinian Israelis, 154,000 (2.2%) are Ethiopian, and about 2 million (25-30%) are Ashkenazi Jews and others. This means 55-60% of the Israeli population is ‘non-white’; together, Mizrahim and Palestinian Israelis form a majority. Knowledge of these demographics has the potential to change the perception and treatment of these marginalized communities. Despite being the majority Jewish population in Israel, Mizrahim are represented in small numbers in the Israeli Parliament and in elite positions such as professorships. Many still live in poor ‘development towns,’ agricultural Moshavim, or urban peripheries such as South Tel Aviv that receive fewer municipal funds than more central and majority-Ashkenazi Jewish cities, towns, and Kibbutzim.”
  • Oh, and of course I can’t leave out the conversion controversy sparked by the Israeli Rabbinate, could I? Some I’ve talked to actually see this as a “good sign” in the long-term, believing that the Supreme Court would totally strike the religious ruling down, further separating religion from rule of the state. While I commend this wishful thinking, this doesn’t change what, again, Gindi stated out so well, which is the inevitable and inherent tension, particularly amongst Jews in the U.S. who believe so strongly in a secular democratic state, still holding onto the idea that ethnic nationalism in Israel is OK–and not just OK, but possible to have along with a “true” full, and robust democracy for all of Israel’s citizens? Yeah, the irony is apparent, no? Saying a country is for a particular set of people, and yet being a “democracy for all” does seem problematic, no?