On Democracy Now this morning:

A coalition of human rights groups say the humanitarian situation in Gaza is now the worst since 1967. Amnesty International, Save the Children, Care International and Christian Aid have joined together to criticize Israel’s blockade on Gaza as illegal collective punishment which fails to deliver security. More than 1.1 million Gazans are now dependent on food aid. Geoffrey Dennis of Care International said, “Unless the blockade ends now, it will be impossible to pull Gaza back from the brink of this disaster, and any hopes for peace in the region will be dashed.” Since last week, Israeli forces have killed more than 120 Palestinians in Gaza. During the same period, four Israelis have been killed.

And where are the Democratic candidates on this?

On the campaign trail, both Senators Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton have voiced support for Israel following its attack on Gaza. Obama said, “The violence in Gaza is the result of Hamas’s decision to launch rocket attacks on Israeli civilians, and Israel has a right to defend itself.” Clinton issued a similar statement, saying, “I deplore and condemn the Hamas rocket attacks on southern Israel, including the city of Ashkelon. Israel has the right to defend its citizens.”

Really? Really? None of y’all are even going to somewhat, just maybe slightly try to find a political way to say something about the devastating humanitarian crisis happening in Gaza? Seriously?

Well, I got a good quasi-People Magazine moment out of the JTA the other day when I read that Obama and Clinton’s top staffers on Jewish affairs got their start together as AIPAC graduates.

I couldn’t help from feeling like I was about to read a success story about the powers of JDate from the title: “When Hillary’s Josh Met Obama’s Eric”–doesn’t it just sound like you’re about to read about the most fabulous makings of a warm and fuzzy love affair, topped off by a gallant wedding with fabulous cocktails…or am I just in withdrawal from Project Runway!?! Sigh…well, that would have been fun to read.

Vanity Fair has obtained confidential documents, since corroborated by sources in the U.S. and Palestine, which lay bare a covert initiative, approved by Bush and implemented by Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice and Deputy National Security Adviser Elliott Abrams, to provoke a Palestinian civil war. The plan was for forces led by Dahlan, and armed with new weapons supplied at America’s behest, to give Fatah the muscle it needed to remove the democratically elected Hamas-led government from power. (The State Department declined to comment.)

But the secret plan backfired, resulting in a further setback for American foreign policy under Bush. Instead of driving its enemies out of power, the U.S.-backed Fatah fighters inadvertently provoked Hamas to seize total control of Gaza.

Some sources call the scheme “Iran-contra 2.0,” recalling that Abrams was convicted (and later pardoned) for withholding information from Congress during the original Iran-contra scandal under President Reagan. There are echoes of other past misadventures as well: the C.I.A.’s 1953 ouster of an elected prime minister in Iran, which set the stage for the 1979 Islamic revolution there; the aborted 1961 Bay of Pigs invasion, which gave Fidel Castro an excuse to solidify his hold on Cuba; and the contemporary tragedy in Iraq.

Within the Bush administration, the Palestinian policy set off a furious debate. One of its critics is David Wurmser, the avowed neoconservative, who resigned as Vice President Dick Cheney’s chief Middle East adviser in July 2007, a month after the Gaza coup.

Wurmser accuses the Bush administration of “engaging in a dirty war in an effort to provide a corrupt dictatorship [led by Abbas] with victory.” He believes that Hamas had no intention of taking Gaza until Fatah forced its hand. “It looks to me that what happened wasn’t so much a coup by Hamas but an attempted coup by Fatah that was pre-empted before it could happen,” Wurmser says.

Full story.

From an interview I did with Rachel Kramer Bussel, editor of Best Sex Writing 2008, about my essay in that book:

Amy Andre has a master’s degree in human sexuality studies from San Francisco State University. She works as a sex educator and writer.

What inspired your article “The Study of Sex?”

I’m actually the guest lecturer I refer to in the essay. I’ve lectured in Dr. Nick Baham’s class a number of times. He’s doing great work, and I wanted to spread the word.

Your essay starts off with a description of a course called African-American Sexuality and goes on to talk about how race is handled in the field of sexuality studies and the lack of people of color in the field. How is race dealt with generally in the sexuality studies classes you’ve taken? What are some of the areas where the intersection of race and sexuality should be explored in academia, in your opinion?

Sexuality and race are two things that infuse every element of people’s lives. So I feel they should be in every area of academia. When I was in grad school, I was lucky enough to have a couple of professors who were very cognizant of their importance. But that was not the case in every class.

Check out the full interview here

Links for March 3rd

3 Mar 2008 In: 2008 elections, Gaza, Israel, JVoices

ABC Tackles Islamophobia

28 Feb 2008 In: Islamophobia, JVoices

Too bad this wasn’t part of the Ohio debate! Hmm….

Parshat Vayekhel – Eat This Torah!

28 Feb 2008 In: JVoices, Shabbat, Torah

This is a leap parsha in a leap year, so we’re taking it as a free throw. We’ll be back to our normal comics next week but for now, something completely different!

So I was at Cornelia St. Cafe one Sunday afternoon to listen to some Jazz. I noticed that they have various reading series: Greek, Italian, Armenian…(I’d even read once in Dean Kostos’ GREEK AMERICAN WRITERS series). So I asked Angelo, who runs the room, if they’d be interested in something Jewish. He said “Jewish? I’m half Jewish and my girlfriend’s a rabbi!” And we set the first date.

We’re calling it JEWISH AMERICAN WRITERS, but it won’t be all American, all Writers or even all Jewish. (I don’t believe in segregation.) I’m approaching it like the state of Israel: diverse. We’ll have Jewish and also other guests. (Hachnasat-orchim, they call it in hebrew, hospitality to guests). The room also has a screen and is wired for Powerpoint, so we’ll welcome visual artists who are collaborating with writers or musicians to show their work.

The first dates are March 9 and April 13, and those readers/performers are set. Anyone interested in reading at a future date can contact me. We’re hoping to find an audience and continue the series on Sundays, 6-8 pm, once a month at Cornelia St. Cafe. Future dates TBA.

29 Cornelia Street, NYC 10014

TIME: 6-8 pm–Daylight Savings Time! (Remember to change your clocks.)
COVER CHARGE: $7.00 includes one drink

Julia Schaffer (poetry)
Stephen Policoff (prose)
Oren Neiman Quartet (Jazz!)

Big win for the Courage Campaign who galvanized over 30,000 people to make sure that everyone’s vote is counted, and an end to the “double bubble” trouble plaguing voters and the Los Angeles County Registrar of Voters. The “double bubble” issue is being talked about as the “Florida” of the 2008 election (but what’s lost in that comparison is that the double bubble issue was around in 2000 and 2004).

Comcast paid people to fill up seats at an FCC hearing in Boston, blocking the public from getting in to support net neutrality. Add your voice to fight against companies like Comcast who want to block the internet, and silence your voice.

Jspot has two interesting posts up about the new Pew Study on “America’s Religious Landscape,” and the findings on Jews in this study.

If you haven’t read Stuff White People Like yet, you should–comedy.

Christian Zionist and Televangelist John Hagee endorses McCain–oy

Last, but not least, Ruby K is a snowball in hell thanks to Tim Russert’s horrible questioning on Farrakhan with Obama, leading to the not surprising reality that Obama was pinned in a corner, having to denounce and reject Farrakhan.

And Jews were used as a reason why–amazingly horrible on so many levels. First, that Obama was even put in this position, and second, that Jewish voters in Ohio, and Jewish voters and Anti-Semitism overall, gets air time in the Democratic debate this way. I can’t say I’m surprised it happened, but damn if I’m not pissed about this blatant smear. We’d be smart, and hell bent to start talking about how we won’t be used as a wedge, or in any way be part of this smear, or act as if we condone this type of behavior of being pitted in this manipulated and awful smear tactic by mainstream media and political pundits.

And damn if I don’t appreciate Obama talking about rebuilding ties between Jewish and African-American communities. The Nation offers an important lens on the “Farrakhan Litmus Test”:

The anti-Semitism so often attributed to Farrakhan is indeed a part of his past rhetoric, even though Farrakhan has gone on the record repeatedly in recent years to repudiate the twenty-year old comments that initially raised ire and fear among many. (Russert referred to the infamous “gutter religion” comment made by Farrakhan during Jesse Jackson’s 1984 Democratic presidential campaign, an inclusion designed to trip up Obama.)

Yet Russert conveniently omitted subsequent comments by Farrakhan in which he goes even farther than merely expressing regret for intemperate comments he’d made in the past: During a 1996 New Yorker interview with Harvard’s Henry Louis Gates, Jr., Farrakhan said, “Personally, I don’t know what this argument has served. Jewish people are the world leaders, in my opinion. They are some of the most brilliant people on this planet…..And people hate them sometimes because of envy, and because the Jews succeed in spite of the hatred of their Gentile brethren, or anybody else’s hatred. I admire that, as God is my witness.”…

More than anything, the biggest “gotcha” to emerge from the Farrakhan Litmus Test portion of last night’s debate was on the American press. Come to think of it, it raises the question of whether Russert and his counterparts in the mainstream press may find covering a Barack Obama presidential administration more challenging than covering the secrecy-obsessed Bush crowd.

I could say I wish I was young enough to do this, but I don’t wanna be that young again–at least not literally.

So, for those that are, here’s a great opportunity for young folks, ages 15-19, to apply to make a high quality film with professional resources, even if you have no prior filmmaking experience:

Closely guided by Citizen Film‘s internationally acclaimed team of filmmakers, young filmmakers turn the camera on themselves, their schools, homes and hang outs to take us on an intimate journey through shifting emotional and cultural landscapes. The resulting entertaining, high quality independent films provide a rare, authentic point of view on what it’s like to come of age at the current complex juncture in American-Jewish history and culture.

Teens will work with award-winning professionals to create a film with top-notch production values and guaranteed festival screenings. If you are selected for the program, you will start filmmaking almost immediately in close collaboration with other teens and an internationally acclaimed team of professionals. You will turn the camera on your own experience and tell your own documentary story. Called “inspiring” in the SF Bay Guardian, “well crafted” in the New York Times and celebrated with a Golden Gate Award at the San Francisco International Film Festival, work produced in the NJFP has reached hundreds of thousands of viewers. Following premieres at the SFJFF, NJFP films are regularly presented by exhibitors ranging from PBS affiliates, international film festivals and art museums to community centers and high schools nationwide.

The NJFP, produced by Citizen Film, is a program of the San Francisco Jewish Film Festival. Applications will be reviewed on a first come, first serve basis. Only 10 teens will be selected. Email us and let us know why you want to present your own experience from your own point of view.

Want more info? Phone: 415-206-1880 Email: njfp@citizenfilm.org

APPLY NOW: www.njfp.org

My first reaction: annoyed. My second reaction: Still annoyed. But glad he’s talking about Gaza.

Third reaction: Ask me after I eat breakfast. But I’m pretty damn sure I’ll still be annoyed. Argh. [Insert rolling of eyes].

[update]: To add to the mix, just read this tidbit on Mobius’ blog about Nader and the GOP. For your enjoyment. And yes, I’m still annoyed. And so over Nader.

Please note: since August 2010, JVoices has ceased publishing new work. We hope you enjoy the articles that remain live as an archive and trusted resource of bold Jewish writing of our time.


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