Posted by Orit Arfa
As the Lakers battled the Celtics at home for the NBA Championships, about 300 Angelenos missed the game (well, sort of) to play for their real home: Israel. At the Aliyah Fair sponsored and organized by the Jewish Agency for Israel on the night of the Game 7 of the Finals, people making and thinking about making aliyah (the big move to Israel) gathered to find out their options for work, housing, education, and absorption.
Held at the Jewish Federation of Los Angeles, the fair was planned months in advance, and John Levey, the shaliach aliyah (emissary) said they had hoped one of the teams (Lakers?) would win earlier, hence the contentious timing.
Sessions were held on the process of making aliyah, shipping and customs, Israeli taxes, and higher education. Vendors representing Israeli real estate, housing, healthcare, education, shipping, and the ever popular IPhone and Blackberry transfers were on hand to show them that making aliyah doesn’t have to be as tough as Game 5, when the Lakers lost by 6 points after trailing in the double-digits throughout. But as the Finals reached the 4th quarter, most people couldn’t concentrate on Zion.
Watch the battle between the Lakers and Aliyahers here, and stay tuned for Orit Arfa’s feature on the growing surge of Angeleno aliyah to Israel:
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June 14, 2010 | 12:43 pm
Posted by Melanie Reynard
Father’s Day is coming up June 20.
I stood at the corner on Pico in front of Elat Market, with the mission of finding out what, if anything, people had to say about their dads.
The responses I got ranged from the lighthearted and cute - a little girl mumbling, “We make hot dogs at the beach!” to a woman who’s father had died remembering his reassurances.
Most of the people I met were Jewish, including the Sterman couple who were my age (23) except married and out here on their honeymoon, before going back to NYC to each start med school. I met a doctor, an actor, college students, and two elderly women who were neighbors and best friends.
The last woman in the video is not Jewish - she’s a nurse from Oklahoma, who might send her father a card and money, but not because he wants money to spend, but instead, in his nineties, he “just likes to look at it.”
June 13, 2010 | 9:05 am
Posted by Rob Eshman
The rule of thumb for opinion pieces in The Jewish Journal is that writers are entitled to their own opinions, but not to their own facts. That standard doesn’t seem to be in place over at The Los Angeles Times. In today’s Times opinion section, UCLA Professor Saree Makdisi mounts a defense of columnist Helen Thomas, who publicly called on Jews in Israel to go back where they came from. The logic of the piece is baffling. Even if you can dredge up instances where Israeli Jews and American Jews undermine Palestinian claims to a homeland, how does that excuse Thomas’s hateful and incredibly ignorant remarks? Is Makdisi’s basic position that two wrongs make a right? Brilliant.
But the line that goes beyond opinion to misinformation is this:
Today, Israel is only able to maintain its Jewish identity because it has established an apartheid regime, both in the occupied territories and within its own borders, and because it continues to reject the Palestinian right of return.
Note The Times lets Makdisi assert that Israel within the pre-1967 borders is an apartheid state. That is simply not true, by the definition of the word itself, and either definitions matter or they don’t. Apartheid is a systematic and institutionalized discrimination and separation based on minority rule of the majority. Within Israel that doesn’t exist. For one, Jews are a majority within the pre-1967 borders. For another, Jews and Arabs can work, eat, shop, study and serve in the Knesset together, something that apartheid flatly prohibits. Yes, Arabs in Israel suffer from various forms of discrimination in a far from perfect democracy, but discrimination is not apartheid, and it is either sloppy thinking, sloppy editing, or willful deceit to suggest otherwise. Why let Makdisi assert it? As long as he’s inventing Israeli political systems,w hy not let him say its a monarchy ruled by a giant Muffin King?
As inventions go, of course, apartheid is a wholly delegitimizing identity. The best response as to why Israel proper is NOT an apartheid state comes from one of the Arab Israelis who lives there, Khaled Abu Toameh. In “For Israel’s Arabs It Is Not Apartheid” he writes:
An Arab member of the Knesset who goes all the way to the US and Canada to tell university students and professors that Israel is an apartheid state is not only a hypocrite and a liar, but is also causing huge damage to the interests of his own Arab voters and constituents.
If Israel were an apartheid state, what is this Arab doing in the Knesset? Doesn’t apartheid mean that someone like this Knesset member would not, in the first place, even be permitted to run in an election?
Fortunately, Arab citizens can go to the same beaches, restaurants and shopping malls as Jews in this “apartheid” state. Moreover, they can run in any election and even have a minister in the government [Ghaleb Majadlah] for the first time.
In this “apartheid” state, the Arab community has a free media that many Palestinians in the West Bank and Gaza Strip envy. Ironically, an Arab newspaper in Nazareth or Haifa that is licensed by Israel enjoys more freedom than the media controlled by Hamas and Fatah, as well as most corrupt Arab dictatorships.
Ironically, this Knesset member who is complaining about apartheid enjoys more privileges than most Jews and Arabs in Israel. As a parliamentarian, he is entitled to do many things that an ordinary citizen cannot do, thanks largely to the immunity he enjoys as an elected official.
His parliamentary immunity allows him to enter areas that ordinary Jewish and Arab citizens do not have access to. This Knesset member, for example, travels to the Palestinian Authority-controlled territories which, for many years, have been off-limits to ordinary Israeli citizens.
This Knesset member also can sometimes even break the law by visiting “hostile” countries like Syria and Lebanon and holding public meetings with Hamas and Hizbullah leaders.
True, the Arab community inside Israel has long been facing real problems that need to be dealt with urgently. The main problem was and remains discrimination by the establishment, especially when it comes to employment, infrastructure and allocation of public funds and lands.
Nonetheless, the Arab citizens are not struggling for separation from Israel. Rather, they are fighting for integration, equality and better services and treatment. The Arab citizens are happy to live in Israel, where they have always had an average of 10 representatives in the Knesset.
By denouncing Israel as an apartheid state, the Knesset member who flew to North America is actually helping those who are trying to avoid the real problem: Discrimination. By focusing on the issue of apartheid, he is actually diverting attention from the real problem and betraying the interests of his own people.
The Arab citizens of Israel would like to see their representatives sitting in parliament and fighting for equality and better services for the Arab sector than participating in Israel Apartheid Week at a university in Ottowa or Toronto.
It is hard to understand how the participation of an Arab Knesset member in Israel Apartheid Week on a university campus in the US or Canada helps the cause of the 1.4 million Arab citizens of Israel. In fact, this could cause damage to the Arab citizens and their battle against discrimination.
The Arab Knesset member’s presence on these campuses plays into the hands of those Israelis who accuse the Arab citizens, the majority of whom remain loyal to the state, of being a “fifth column” and an “enemy from within.” The more the Jews are afraid of their fellow Arab citizens, the more the latter will suffer.
The best way to undermine radicals like this Knesset member is by offering the Arab citizens equal services and full rights. Yes, Israel is not an apartheid state. But Israel must wake up and start dealing seriously with the problems of the Arab minority before it is too late.
Then again, what does Khaled know, he only lives in Israel.
June 11, 2010 | 4:29 pm
Posted by Jay Firestone
People seem to be saying a lot of strange things these days.
Democratic gubernatorial candidate Jerry Brown allegedly compared Meg Whitman’s campaign tactics to that of Nazi propagandist Joseph Goebbels during a quick “stop and chat” with a San Francisco blogger.
The conversation was not recorded.
“It’s like Goebbels,” referring to Hitler’s notorious Minister of Propaganda. “Goebbels invented this kind of propaganda. He took control of the whole world. She wants to be president. That’s her ambition, the first woman president. That’s what this is all about.”
Again, the conversation was not recorded like some recent ill-timed declarations, but given the Internet’s growing ability to spread rumors and exaggerate situations (For instance: Russell Crowe’s non-death), it seems like a wise decision to avoid making any sort of Holocaust references, especially while on the campaign trail.
That sort of talk these days is fuel for any trigger-happy blogger.
Read more about the encounter with Brown at Sovern Nation:
I ran into Jerry Brown the other day. Or, rather, he ran into me. Literally.
I was out for a bike ride in the Oakland hills and stopped at Redwood Regional Park to fill up my water bottle. Suddenly, up jogs Jerry, in his sweats, chugging along the trail. As he caught his breath and got some water from the fountain, I said hello. He recognized me but couldn’t remember my name, something that has happened many times between us over the past 25 years. I reintroduced myself, and he asked me if I was still at KCBS. I said I was, and complimented him on his impressive fitness for a man of 72. He’d run perhaps a mile and a half from his house on Skyline Boulevard.
June 10, 2010 | 12:39 pm
Posted by Melanie Reynard
Recently you may have noticed that Google changed their homepage by setting a customizable background image – just like Microsoft’s Bing.
But recently, reports said that because of this huge change of Google’s homepage, the world of art has changed too. Thanks to Google, more and more people are now searching or viewing stunning arts and photographs from different artists like Jeff Koons and Dale Chihuly. Dale Chihuly has been featured on Google Editor’s Pick for his best known artwork, the giant half inflated metallic modeling balloons. Jeff Koons is also at the Editor’s Pick with his stunning photos.
(according to the blog birdabble.com.)
As of now, Jeff Koons and Dale Chihuly can probably be declared as the most viewed artists of all time, thanks to Google.
Chihuly is not Jewish, but Chihuly’s work does have a strong tie to Israel. The following is from the artist’s website:
Chihuly was drawn to Israel after a brief visit in the summer of 1997, and was struck by its importance as the birthplace of both glassmaking and glassblowing. Early glass works found in Israel strongly resemble Chihuly’s organic forms. He hopes to create artworks that are both an homage to the ancient glass traditions of the Middle East and an impetus to revitalize glassmaking in the area. As in his other projects, Chihuly will collaborate with glassblowers from the region, both Israeli and Palestinian, to produce a portion of the glass parts for his sculptures. This message of coexistence is particularly suited to the Citadel’s mission to recount objectively and fairly all the periods of Jerusalem’s history.
His 1999 millennium celebration was: Chihuly In The Light Of Jerusalem 2000. This massive undertaking produced 17 installations in the ancient city, followed by the creation of a 60-foot wall of ice made of 24 giant blocks imported from Alaska. These installations were viewed by more than one million people. (Noor’s Daily Smile & Art Zone)
I personally was first exposed to Chihuly in 2008 while living in San Francisco and his work was exhibited at the De Young Museum. This review by Kristin Farr for KQED: Arts & Culture, is by far the most playful and appropriate description of his work.
June 9, 2010 | 4:38 pm
Posted by Ryan Torok
On Tuesday, the Los Angeles Police Department received a report about graffiti consisting of several swastikas spraypainted onto on a wall in an alleyway outside a Los Angeles home.
An LAPD spokesman said the incident is being considered “vandalism and a hate crime.” No suspect has been identified, but the LAPD is still investigating, the spokesman said, The wall is located at Beverly Blvd. and Formosa Ave., behind the New Beverly Cinema.
Three swastikas were also spray painted onto the rear wall of the New Beverly Cinema, across the alley.
The homeowner, who considers himself an active member of the Jewish community, asked not to be identified. He was out of town when the crime occurred, and a neighbor called him to tell him about it.
Rabbi Meyer May, executive director of the Simon Wiesenthal Center, helped notify authorities about the graffiti. May said he did not rule out the possibility of a connection between the crime and rising tensions between Jews and the rest of the world in the aftermath of the recent Israeli-Turkish flotilla crisis.
“Whenever there’s an increase in activity regarding Israel, it’s an inevitable reaction here by anti-Semites to come out and express their anger,” May said.
Despite the presence of three synagogues within one block of the graffiti site, the homeowner believes the motive behind the graffiti may not be anti-Semitic. There “a lot of people who party in that alley,” the homeowner said. “You have graffiti there all the time.”
June 2, 2010 | 8:59 am
Posted by Rob Eshman
Amos Oz, author, essayist, moral conscience of Israel, published an essay in today’s New York Times that exactly captured what I’ve been trying to say about the flotilla disaster for the past three days.
In “Israeli Force, Adrift on the Sea,” Oz writes how Jews, who once knew only of force as the lashes on their own backs, have since the victory of the 1967 war, seen it as the answer to too many of their problems.
But ever since the Six-Day War in 1967, Israel has been fixated on military force. To a man with a big hammer, says the proverb, every problem looks like a nail.
Israel’s siege of the Gaza Strip and Monday’s violent interception of civilian vessels carrying humanitarian aid there are the rank products of this mantra that what can’t be done by force can be done with even greater force. This view originates in the mistaken assumption that Hamas’s control of Gaza can be ended by force of arms or, in more general terms, that the Palestinian problem can be crushed instead of solved.
But Hamas is not just a terrorist organization. Hamas is an idea, a desperate and fanatical idea that grew out of the desolation and frustration of many Palestinians. No idea has ever been defeated by force — not by siege, not by bombardment, not by being flattened with tank treads and not by marine commandos. To defeat an idea, you have to offer a better idea, a more attractive and acceptable one.
Thus, the only way for Israel to edge out Hamas would be to quickly reach an agreement with the Palestinians on the establishment of an independent state in the West Bank and Gaza Strip as defined by the 1967 borders, with its capital in East Jerusalem. Israel has to sign a peace agreement with President Mahmoud Abbas and his Fatah government in the West Bank — and by doing so, reduce the Israeli-Palestinian conflict to a conflict between Israel and the Gaza Strip. That latter conflict, in turn, can be resolved only by negotiating with Hamas or, more reasonably, by the integration of Fatah with Hamas.
Even if Israel seizes 100 more ships on their way to Gaza, even if Israel sends in troops to occupy the Gaza Strip 100 more times, no matter how often Israel deploys its military, police and covert power, force cannot solve the problem that we are not alone in this land, and the Palestinians are not alone in this land. We are not alone in Jerusalem and the Palestinians are not alone in Jerusalem. Until Israelis and Palestinians recognize the logical consequences of this simple fact, we will all live in a permanent state of siege — Gaza under an Israeli siege, Israel under an international and Arab siege.
Oz—himself once a soldier— balances his charge with the awareness that force is often absolutely necessary, but it must be used only when necessary. He concludes:
I do not discount the importance of force. Woe to the country that discounts the efficacy of force. Without it Israel would not be able to survive a single day. But we cannot allow ourselves to forget for even a moment that force is effective only as a preventative — to prevent the destruction and conquest of Israel, to protect our lives and freedom. Every attempt to use force not as a preventive measure, not in self-defense, but instead as a means of smashing problems and squashing ideas, will lead to more disasters, just like the one we brought on ourselves in international waters, opposite Gaza’s shores.
Read it here: http://www.nytimes.com/2010/06/02/opinion/02oz.html?hp
June 1, 2010 | 5:54 pm
Posted by Rob Eshman
The demigod journos at National Public Radio can do almost no wrong in my book, but they have to stop referring to the flotilla that Israel raided yesterday to tragic results as full of “pro-Palestinian” protesters.
On every newscast, every promo, there was NPR, describing the protestors as “pro-Palestinian.” I think I even heard Warren Olney and Larry Mantle at their respective NP affiliates pick up and spread the same lingo.
And it’s just wrong.
By what standard are these people pro-Palestinian? They want a two state solution for the Palestinians and the Israelis? By that standard Ehud Barak and the majority of Israelis are “pro-Palestinian.” As President Bill Clinton and any number of Arab commentators have said, Barak’s generous offer at Camp David, was rejected outright by Yasser Arafat. Cearly, Ehud Barak is more pro-Palestinian than Arafat.
Are the protesters pro-Palestinian by virtue of the fact that the Israelis have killed Palestinians, and these people want to protect them? Well, Hamas, which took over Gaza in a series of violent struggles from the Palestinian Authority, has killed many Palestinians, in some cases throwing them alive from rooftops. Hamas continues to kill Palestinian dissenters and Fatah loyalists. I don’t believe in killing Palestinians whose political affiliations I oppose. By that standard, I am clearly more pro-Palestinian than Hamas.
Are the flotilla protesters pro-Palestinian because they want to bring humanitarian aid to Gaza? Israel delivers tons of that each day—not enough—but more than, say, Turkey. By that standard Israel is more pro-Palestinian than the protesters.
Are they pro-Palestinian because they want Gaza to be self-ruled? The vast majority of Israelis supported a unilateral pullout from Gaza, which Israel undertook under Ariel Sharon. The vast majority of Israelis would have been happy to let Gaza alone after that, but for incessant rocket attacks Hamas militants directed from within Gaza into Israel. More than anything else, those attacks brought on the blockade. If Hamas wanted Israel to truly leave Gaza alone, it would have left Israel alone. By this standard, too, Israel is more pro-Palestinian than Hamas. By this standard, Ariel Sharon is clearly pro-Palestinian.
I’m someone who thinks Israel’s blockade of Gaza is short-sighted and counterproductive. But I have no illusions that the IHH, which organized the protest, is pro-Palestinian—it is pro-Hamas. Hussein Ibish of the Ameican Task Force on Palestine called it “a group of fanatics” on Larry Mantle’s KPCC show today. So why is NPR giving IHH supporters credibility that even Palestinians don’t give them?
The only fair terminology NPR and other news organizations should use when describing the protesters is this: “pro-Hamas.” Otherwise, to be fair, they would have to describe Barak, Sharon, most Israelis and most American Jews—using the same standards—as “pro-Palestinian.”