Posted by Jonah Lowenfeld
On Thursday, March 10, Los Angeles County Sheriff Lee Baca will testify before the first in a series of hearings on radicalization in the American Muslim community. Organized by Peter King, a Republican Congressman from New York and the chairman of the House’s Committee on Homeland Security, the hearing is titled: “The Extent of Radicalization in the American Muslim Community and that Community’s Response.”
On Tuesday night, Baca spoke to a hearing convened by the American Civil Liberties Union of Southern California, a “People’s Hearing to Defend Religious Freedom.” Seated alongside representatives of faith-based community groups, including Progressive Jewish Alliance Regional Director Eric Greene, Baca gave the 60 people in the Immanuel Presbyterian Church on Wilshire an early taste of the kind of testimony he was planning to offer when he testifies before King’s panel on Thursday.
“Violent extremism is not simply a Muslim problem,” Baca said. “It is a people problem—people of all religious backgrounds and all kinds of faiths.” Baca pointed out that in the nearly ten years since the attacks of Sep. 11, 2001, 77 attacks or attempted terrorist attacks have been made by extremist non-Muslims in the United States. In the same period of time, there have been 41 plots against U.S. targets discovered and thwarted that were organized by Muslims both in the U.S. and internationally.
Instead of holding hearings that hold up members of a particular religious group for unwarranted scrutiny, Baca proposed a model of “public trust policing,” which depended upon members of all communities—including the Muslim community—feeling comfortable and able to speak to law enforcement about suspicious activities going on in their communities. To establish such an atmosphere of trust, Baca relies on an interfaith council of more than 200 leaders of various faiths as well as a specific unit of the Sheriff’s department dedicated to communicating with the Muslim community of Los Angeles County.
To illustrate just how necessary this kind of policing is, Baca noted another statistic: In the last 10 plots planned in the United States by Muslims, Baca said, “seven of them were discovered and foiled because of Muslim people coming forward and helping local law enforcement.”
“Clearly,” Baca continued, “the issue of whether or not Muslims cooperate or don’t cooperate is already an established fact.”
While King has chosen to focus his committee hearings on the radicalization and cooperation of American Muslims, the ACLU’s “People’s Hearing” focused much of its attention on Islamophobia.
Moderator Isabelle Gunning invited panelists to present “evidence” of Muslim-Americans being victimized and targeted. Among the examples mentioned were the protests last summer against the building or expansions of mosques and Islamic community centers in New York and Temecula, CA, the invective-filled protest in Feb. outside an Islamic Circle of North America fundraiser in Yorba Linda, CA, the numerous instances of vandalism and arson perpetrated against mosques across the country and the two elderly Sikh men who were shot in Elk Grove, CA, last week. The men, dressed in turbans and wearing the traditional Sikh beards, may have been mistaken for Muslims—something that has happened on more than a few occasions since 2001.
The calm and tolerant atmosphere of the “People’s Hearing” on Tuesday night allowed for some conversations that likely won’t come up in a heated congressional hearing room or over the crowded and often highly partisan airwaves.
Lo Sprague, a board member of an interfaith group who attended the hearing, posed a potentially troublesome question to the panel: “What should one do when religions teach hate?”
Everyone on the panel took a stab at the question—even the sheriff. Waxing philosophical, Baca said, “Man cannot destroy what God loves and use God’s name at the same time.”
But the most thoughtful response to the question came from the panel’s lone Muslim voice, Edina Lekovic, director of policy and planning for the Muslim Public Affairs Council.
“For Muslim Americans, there has been an undue pressure to condemn our coreligionists when something terrible takes place,” Lekovic said. And while she used to find this expectation frustrating, Lekovic has since changed her mind.
“We do have, each of us, a moral responsibility to speak up when our coreligionists act in a way that we believe is immoral,” Lekovic said.
5.22.13 at 9:09 am | Eric Garcetti became the first elected Jewish. . .
5.22.13 at 8:16 am | UPDATE 8:00 am: Eric Garcetti wins the mayoral. . .
5.21.13 at 11:06 am | Using his preternatural smoothness, Justin. . .
5.20.13 at 11:40 am | Proving once again that there isn’t anything he. . .
5.14.13 at 9:59 am | This week on his podcast, Jewish comedian Marc. . .
4.30.13 at 10:58 am | Michael Diamond (Mike D.) and Adam Horovitz. . .
4.24.13 at 3:15 pm | So, 17-year-old Milken Community High School. . . (1637)
4.25.13 at 4:47 pm | (530)
5.22.13 at 8:16 am | UPDATE 8:00 am: Eric Garcetti wins the mayoral. . . (431)
March 8, 2011 | 12:06 am
Posted by Susan Freudenheim
In a report from Ramallah, the Los Angeles Times says that the Palestinian Authority is looking to exert extraordinary new pressure on the Netanyahu administration, hoping to get international support for a Palestinian state without peace talks with Israel. The Times story reports that the PA believes that the Obama administration is not trying hard enough to push the Israelis into talks:
The campaign will include U.N. resolutions such as one proposed last month on Israeli settlement building, boycotts against Israeli products, complaints in international courts and attempts to win formal recognition from as many countries as possible, Palestinian officials say.
They hope the effort will culminate this September in an internationally backed proposal for membership in the United Nations or a resolution recognizing a Palestinian state, even if it means invoking an obscure rule to circumvent the threat of a U.S. veto at the U.N. Security Council.
The story says that the Palestinian efforts already have provoked Israel to propose launching a “provisional state with temporary borders,” a condition for talks that has previously been rejected by the PA.
It is a risky business to toy with U.S. affections, or to force the U.S. to once again veto such actions at the UN, to test the Obama resolve, but the story also suggests that in the light of unrest in the Arab world, the PA needs to show that it is taking action.
Israel’s further isolation would not help the current situation, also in light of the unrest in the Arab world, and one wonders how long either side can afford to hold off pressure to negotiate. It would seem that the world is waiting for something to happen, and we can only hope that the process and the outcome will be peaceful.
March 4, 2011 | 5:53 pm
Posted by JewishJournal.com
Charlie Sheen recently phoned in to Access Hollywood claiming that he is Jewish. The actor explained that because his mother, Janet Templeton, is Jewish, he is in fact a member of the Tribe. Sheen also said that his reason for not revealing this news sooner was that he “kinda forgot.” He went on to add that his ex-wife, Brooke Mueller, is also Jewish, thereby making his two sons Jewish.
Last week, Sheen made headlines when he blasted Jewish show runner Chuck Lorre, referring to him by his Hebrew name Chaim Levine. Sheen has continued to voice his opinion and comments over several media outlets over the past week.
March 2, 2011 | 6:40 pm
Posted by Jonah Lowenfeld
As reported in USA Today and elsewhere, the new version of the New American Bible to be released on March 9 has a few changes aimed at being “more accurate, more accessible and more poetic.”
Two of the changes in the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops’ new text might be of particular interest to Jewish readers. First, the word “holocaust,” which appears throughout the older versions of the bible, has become impossible to separate from the genocide of Jews during World War II. The new text uses the words “burnt offering.”
Isaiah 7:14, a verse that is often used by missionaries to convert Jews, has changed as well. Often cited as a foreshadowing for the birth of Jesus, the 1970 version of New American Bible translated the passage as, “the virgin shall be with child, and bear a son, and shall name him Immanuel.”
The version being released this week uses the term “young woman,” instead of virgin, which is seen as a closer translation of the original Hebrew word, almah.
A spokesperson for the bishops told Reuters that the new translation didn’t signify any change in the Catholic church’s belief in the virgin birth of Jesus.
Rabbi Bentzion Kravitz, whose organization Jews for Judaism works to counteract the work of Christian missionaries targeting Jews, welcomed the new translation.
“The U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops new translation of the Bible is both timely and appreciated,” Kravitz wrote in an email. “Timely, in that it coincides with ArtScroll’s new English-only Jewish Bible, and appreciated because they both correct translation errors used by missionaries to convert Jews.”
March 1, 2011 | 9:55 am
Posted by Susan Freudenheim
Video has recently surfaced of Christian Dior fashion designer John Galliano saying “I love Hitler,” and allegedly making anti-Semitic remarks at a Parisian cafe that prompted at couple to call the police.
What prompts such behavior? So now, after having his picture flashed all over the media, he’s getting fired from Dior.
Dior spokesperson Natalie Portman comments:
Actress Natalie Portman, who is the face of Dior perfume and is Jewish, said on Monday that she would not be associated with Galliano.
“I am deeply shocked and disgusted by the video of John Galliano’s comments that surfaced today,” Portman said in a statement. “In light of this video, and as an individual who is proud to be Jewish, I will not be associated with Mr. Galliano in any way.”
Why would anyone be motivated to express affection for the perpetrator of the most horrific crimes against humanity in modern history? It can only be a publicity stunt, and to see us all react (including this post).
I guess it worked.
So watch for Galliano’s next move. Will that work, too? Risky business. Maybe he and Charlie Sheen have something going.