העםHa’Am Since 1972
UCLA’s Jewish Newsmagazine
Winter 2012/Adar 5772
Difficult Jewish Questions... Identity Intermarriage Israel Iran
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Table of Contents 3
Opening Will your grandchildren be Jewish? Intermarriage and what we should do about it ... 3 by Diane Bani-Esraili
Feature Asians in Hebrew class: a tale of foreign experience ... 4 by Martin Chan
“And this is how I was saved: An Interview with Holocaust Survivor Yitzhak Goldberger ... 4 by Briana Begelfer
Bearing witness: the student experience of remembering the Holocaust ... 5 by Ashton Rosin
Unconventional Jews: the unsung members finalled revealed ... 6 by Tessa Nath
Too cool for the ivory tower: a conversation with Carol Bakhos ... 7 by Ben Steiner
Politics Obama vs. Israel ... 8-9 by Alan Naroditsky
The Forghani Report: Motives of Iranian Terror Today ... 10 by Channah Barkhordari
Campus News The scary anti-Israel lecture you probably should have attended ... 11 by Jacob Elijah Goldberg
Fiction Dear Traveler: a story about a Jewish vagabond ... 12 by Stephanie Leonn
Purim: the hidden revelation
by Rabbi Dovy Sales
Purim. The enigmatic day that doesn’t appear to have quite as much spiritual meaning as the other special days on our Jewish calendar. The High Holy Days are observed with the sounding of the shofar, personal reflection, and fasting. Sukkot finds us dwelling in booths whose makeshift structure reminds us of the temporal nature of our existence; as we gaze up through the branches and leaves that serve as our thatched roofs for one week out of the year, we get a glimpse of the stars, and recognize that our only actual safety and sustenance are to be found in the One above. Throughout the eight days of Chanukah, we kindle lights as a reenactment of the divine service which took place daily when the holy Temple stood; our tradition teaches that the lights represent the light of Torah, and the spiritual spark within each one of us that can dispel the darkness. On Passover, we retell the story of our birth as a nation amidst nature-defying miracles. Shavuot is the anniversary of the Sinai experience, and the receiving of the Ten Commandments. The spiritual focus of our holidays would thus seem to be self-evident, yet Purim doesn’t fit the modus operandi. Masks and costumes, festive rejoicing, and oddlyshaped pastries…is there a method to this madness? Compounding the difficultly are two statements found in our tradition. The Talmud states that while all the Jewish holidays are significant and spiritually relevant, the observance of Purim will always hold special meaning in a way that the other holidays don’t. While perhaps Purim is more fun than the others, surely fun isn’t what the Sages of the Talmud had in mind. Furthermore, the Arizal, one of the leading rabbis and preeminent mystics of Jewish history, explains that the Torah refers to Yom Kippur (Lev 23:28) as Yom KiPurim which translates as a day like Purim. According to the Arizal, there is a parallel between the two days. On the surface, there would seem to be no better example of two diametrically opposed worldviews. In fact, however, there is an inverse relationship between Yom Kippur’s solemnity and Purim’s ebullience. On Yom Kippur we fast, though the day before is designated as a time for eating; on Purim, we feast, though the day before — Taanis Esther — is for fasting. The answer is to be found in the Purim story itself. The main Jewish population center of that historical era was facing a genocidal threat, one which perilously gained momentum even to the point that mass statewide pogroms acquired government sanction and approval. The protagonist, Esther, enjoyed the support of no nature-defying miracles to help her achieve her heroine status; it was, rather, her character-defining acts that resulted in the ensuing Purim miracle. No splitting of any sea, no ten plagues, no oil transcending its physical properties — it was, rather, the united efforts of the Jewish people, spearheaded by their reluctant leaders, Mordechai and Esther, which brought about Divine mercy. We need to remind ourselves that while we read the Megillah knowing that “it all turned out for the best,” the Jews living through it were not afforded the benefits of hindsight. It was impossible to appreciate, while the story was still unfolding, how events were interconnected — each incident leading to the Purim miracle. G-d was telling the Jews that even through times of concealment, He was with them, and would continue to be with them, and that He is with us. Purim reveals to us two seemingly contradictory messages: first, that G-d orchestrates the world even when that intervention is concealed from us, and secondly, that our human actions will have an impact on the outcome. The awesome nature of Yom Kippur gives us the clarity that G-d is in control; our introspection and commitment to self-improvement speak to that reality. On Purim we recognize that yes, there is a method to the madness. G-d’s hidden intervention is ever-present. Purim tells us to look at the world around us and recognize G-d’s role in daily events, even as the outward appearance of things forces us to look deeper, beyond the surface, to take off the mask. We don costumes as recognition of this reality, and by doing so, we declare: don’t be fooled by outer appearances; G-d’s ways are cloaked in mystery. Just as the Purim story revealed G-d’s plan, so too, today, though we lack the hindsight to appreciate G-d’s plan as it unfolds, the message is meant for us, we who are living at this moment. As the Talmud pointed out: what would carry us through time, as individuals and as a People, and guide us into the future? The message of Purim. This awareness, when joined with our positive actions as demonstrated in the Purim story, gives us the strength to persevere.
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Ha' A m Winter 2012 Adar 5772
Editor-in-Chief Jacob Elijah Goldberg Layout Editors Tessa Nath Nicole Rudolph Content Editor Alan Naroditsky Senior Writers Alan Naroditsky Tessa Nath Ashton Rosin Ben Steiner Staff Writers Diane Bani-Esraili Briana Begelfer Contributing Writers Channah Barkhordari Martin Chan Stephanie Leonn Photographers Eytan Davidovits Andrew Rosenstein Cover Artist Andrea Mayorga Ha’Am Magazine 118 Kerckhoff Hall 308 Westwood Plaza Los Angeles, CA 90024 www.haam.org
© 2011 UCLA Communications Board The UCLA Communications Board has a media grievance procedure for resolving grievances against any of its publications. For a copy of the complete procedure, contact Student Media UCLA at 118 Kerckhoff Hall, 310 825-2787, or firstname.lastname@example.org. The UCLA Communications Board fully supports the University of California’s policy on non-discrimination.The student media reserves the right to reject or modify advertising portraying disability, age, sex, or sexual orientation. It is the expectation of the Communications Board that the student media will exercise the right fairly and with sensitivity. Any person believing that any advertising in the student media violates the Board’s policy on non-discrimination should communicate his or her complaints in writing to the Business Manager, (name of student medium), 118 Kerckhoff Hall, Westwood Plaza, Los Angeles, CA 90024. For assistance with housing discrimination problems, call: UCLA Housing Office (310) 825-4491, or the Housing Rights Center (213) 387-8400. All opinions expressed in this newsmagazine are solely that of the author, not of the Ha’Am Editorial Board or the UCLA Communications Board. Letters to the editor should be directed to haam@ media.ucla.edu
Will your grandchildren be Jewish?
Intermarriage and what we should do about it
Diane Bani-Esraili Staff Writer
American Jews are demographically endangered. This fact is not debatable. What is debatable is how the Jewish community should deal with the issue of intermarriage, which is one of the main causes of the decline of American Jewry. The National Jewish Population Survey most recently conducted a survey in 2001 — and the results are staggering. Fortyseven percent of Jews who tied the knot between 1996 and 2001 married non-Jews and only thirty-three percent of children from intermarriages are being raised as Jews. There are two ways of looking at American Jewish intermarriage — from a sociological perspective and from a religious one. Rabbi Chaim Seidler-Feller, UCLA’s Hillel Director, explains that from a sociological perspective, the fact that Jews intermarry is a plus because it shows that Jews are widely accepted in this country and are well integrated with the broader American population. “America has opened its arms to the Jews. Jews are beloved, and it can certainly be viewed as complimentary that others deem Jews to be good partners.” The rise of intermarriage, according to Rabbi Seidler-Feller, is strongly correlated to the decrease of antisemitism. Case in point: on July 31, 2010, Chelsea Clinton wed Marc Mezvinsky, a Jew. What does it mean that the former president’s daughter signed a ketubah and wed the talit-wrapped groom under a chupah? The Clinton-Mezvinsky wedding proves that Jews are indeed incorporated into the highest echelons of society. The other way of looking at intermarriage is through a religious lens. From a religious perspective, intermarriage dilutes Jewish life and contributes to the decline of a vibrant Judaism in America. Revisiting the Clinton-Mezvinsky case, one should note that July 31, 2010 was a Saturday — the wedding ceremony began before Shabbat was out. America is a country that is not only tolerant of different religions, but one that welcomes them. The only pitfall of this religious egalitarianism is its reductionist tendency, which is to say that such integration eats away at Judaism’s distinctiveness and community-defining lines. The “Chrismukkah” mentality is one that, while comforting to intermarried couples, undermines future Jewish life. America is all about choice, and oftentimes, an inter-
faith married couple will raise its children and present a menu of religious options from which they can make their selection. Without a driving Jewish force present in the home, Judaism’s future is at risk. Rabbi Seidler-Feller proposes that Jewish education and community building are the best ways to ensure that future Jewish parents who marry outside the faith will at least have a cultivated, intrinsic motivation to create a Jewish home. Rabbi David Ellenson, president of Hebrew Union College - Jewish Institute of Religion (Reform Judaism’s academic and professional development center) is “definitely opposed to this notion of constantly complaining and carping about what is already a reality.” Rabbi Ellenson would prefer that the Jewish community ask, “Given the reality of intermarriage, how does the Jewish community make Judaism an ongoing, viable alternative for people who have made this choice in their lives?” Edgar M. Bronfman, Jewish philanthropist and Chairman of the Board of Governors of Hillel: The Foundation for Jewish Campus Life, echoes Rabbi Ellenson’s
The fact that only thirty-three percent of children born to an interfaith couple are raised Jewish is highly alarming; perhaps if the Jewish community was more welcoming, that percentage would grow dramatically.”
sentiments, writing in his book Fear, Not Hope that “there is a lot of interfaith marriage. It isn’t going away, and we have to deal with it. The Jewish community should stop talking about preventing intermarriage and start talking about teaching Judaism.” Though intermarriage rate statistics are an important wakeup call for the members of the American Jewish community who intermarry, they should also be a wakeup call for those who do not. The fact that only thirty-three percent of children born to an interfaith couple are raised Jewish is highly alarming; perhaps if the Jewish community was more welcoming, that percentage would grow dramatically. If the community views intermarriage as a “disaster” from
the get-go and does not embrace the nonJewish half of the couple, the parents and their children will be much more likely to feel alienated and forego engagement in Jewish life. In Genesis 18:2-5, Abraham seems to leave God’s presence to greet three strangers. Looking up he saw three men standing near him. As soon as he saw them, he ran from the entrance of the tent to greet them and, bowing to the ground, he said, ‘My lords, if it please you…let a little water be brought…and let me fetch you a morsel of bread that you may refresh yourselves; then go on… Perhaps the Jewish community should follow Abraham’s example and welcome the outsider. If Abraham left God’s presence to greet three unknown men without asking who they were or where they were from, then surely the Jewish community can incorporate and actively engage intermarried couples and their children for the sake of a Jewish future. Intermarriage can be an unfortunate reality, but it is a reality nevertheless. Intermarriage is not ideal for perpetuating a strong Judaism, but given this unchangeable fact, American Jewry should progress into the 21st century with open arms and open hearts. Some describe the declining number of Jews in America as a “silent Holocaust” and call for more restrictive walls around Jewish identity and community. Defining Jews more stringently and being less than inclusive in other ways would be self-defeating. We must be receptive to new faces and welcome people to participate actively in our faith, rather than turning them away or dismissing them. Diane Bani-Esraili is a third-year Political Science major at UCLA. She is neither married nor intermarried.
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Return to the Orient: Martin Chan
my experience as an Asian in Hebrew class
Contributing Writer When I first entered Hebrew class during the fall quarter of 2011, I was nervous. This was my very first day as a transfer student in UCLA. Thus, a general of lack of familiarity with campus life exacerbated my worries. I was a conspicuous Asian face amidst a sea of Jews. I chose to take Hebrew, not because it fulfilled any particular requirement but because of my interest in the richness of Jewish history, culture, and language. This culture spans millennia of geographic and national fluctuations. Unlike any human civilization exposed to such turbulence, I believe that Jews have proved remarkably resilient amidst oppressive environments.
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the Hebrew script, for an enhanced understanding of Biblical texts. I see modern Hebrew as an astonishing composite of unparalleled spiritual tropes and intriguing modern sensibilities. Studying such a language could only be a fruitful endeavor. Though compelled originally by selfinterest, I was initially overwhelmed by tremendous psychological burden of being the goy in the room. I was perturbed by my own conspicuousness. However, the warm acceptance I received led me to overcome the fear of discrimination. The difficulties were many. We were
I was a conspicuous Asian face amidst a sea of Jews.”
I believed that to bond with Jews, I would have to immerse myself in their language. Thus, I could better explicate the fascinating nuances of Jewish culture. I also sought to achieve literacy in
required to master the entire Hebrew alphabet — both the printed font and the handwritten script — within a weekend. I remember drilling Alef, Bet, Gimel, Dalet, He, etc. over and over again but
Ashton Rosin Senior Writer
Photo courtesy of Ben Steiner
F O U N D AT I O N F O R F R I E N D S H I P : H e b re w s t u d e n t s M a r t i n C h a n a n d B e n S t e i n e r p re t e n d t o h a v e f u n w i t h t h e i r H e b re w t e x t b o o k .
constantly falling short. This was an intimidating time; I had no foundation, nor did I have — as many others did — an unwavering propelling force to explore the language. I am not religiously or ethnically Jewish. I survived the first phase through sheer perseverance. When I finally grasped the consonants, the vowels augmented the complexity of Hebrew for me. There are so many different vowels to indicate the same sound in Hebrew! Reading was also difficult because I would confuse different vowel
types and be deterred by the similarities in the shapes of the consonants. Baruch Hashem that the professor, Nancy Ezer, was extremely understanding and encouraged me to continue. At one point, I nearly dropped the class because typing Hebrew and the online assignments were initially so difficult. Nonetheless, in retrospect, I am glad I endured the first few weeks of the quarter. Martin Chan is a third-year English major at UCLA. He is one of many righteous goyim currently enrolled in Nancy Ezer’s Hebrew class.
“And this is how I was saved”...
An interview with Holocaust survivor Yitzhak Goldberger
Briana Begelfer Staff Writer
“Yes, I was very religious before the war. I had long payis. But when I saw all those murders, I said ‘How can You kill 6 million?’ And so I took God to court. I didn’t want to be religious.” However, despite this decision, the Torah traditions and mitzvot with which Reb Yitzhak grew up somehow prevailed throughout the war, even in his darkest hour. “I wasn’t religious. But something stuck in me,” he explains. “They took me and my sister to a Tuss Camp. They took all the rich men’s children. Do you know what is a Tuss? When a German soldier was killed, a sign was put up that said that if you don’t hand over the person responsible, five Tuss children would be shot.” Many children were killed before Reb Yitzhak’s very eyes. “But I will not talk about this,” he says. “It makes me cry.” “While in the Tuss Camp my mother would send me a package every day with chicken or cakes. But, you see, when everyone else in the room is hungry, you cannot swallow. So I invited every day some
other prisoners to come eat with me. That is how I met Alexander Messinger. He did not want to share my food, so I told him I would not eat. And I didn’t — until he ate too.” “And soon it was my turn to stand before the firing squad.” But minutes before, the guards had a change of plans. The remaining Tuss prisoners were to be sent to Auschwitz. In Auschwitz, Messinger received a position of authority over other Jews. “Messinger was very intelligent. He spoke French, English, German, Polish, Russian, Yiddish, Hebrew. So he was put in charge.” Photo courtesy of Yitzhak Goldberger A MIRACULOUS COUPLE: Holocaust survivors Yitzhak and Lea Goldberger. “And how did I survive Auschwitz?” he penicillin shot, but penicillin was only for dehumanizing conditions. He was saved reflects. He answers the question by evok- Germans. I gave it anyway. The Germans only through the preservation of his own ing the memory of his friend, Messinger. threatened to give the doctor 50 lashes if humanity, only through the reminder that It was Messinger who helped Reb Yitzhak nobody took responsibility for giving away he was a man — not a number. avoid being assigned to the commando re- the shot. I knew he wouldn’t survive 50 so Today Reb Yitzhak is a father, a grandsponsible for operating the gas chambers. I raised my hand.” father, and a great-grandfather. And he is “This is how I was saved — not to become The doctor and the nurses knew that once again an observant Jew committed to one of the murderers.” As long as he re- Reb Yitzhak took the penicillin shot. But learning Torah. “God is running the world,” mained human — that is, humane — he they did not say a word. Reb Yitzhak only he says. “We can’t understand. We can’t was alive. received ten lashes because he raised his tell Him what to do. And so I pray. And I “I was sent instead to the chemical fac- hand. “I still have the scar on my back,” he put on Tefillin.” tory. There nobody lasted more than three says, pointing. months. But there was a doctor, and for Reb Yitzhak expresses that his survival some reason, he liked me. He said, ‘You was more than just physical endurance. It are going to be a nurse.’ There was one day was powered through the numerous acts of Briana Begelfer is a first-year Environmental Science major at UCLA. when my uncle was very sick. He needed a kindness that prevailed, even in the most She pronounces the “L” in “salmon,” and she’s not kidding.
The pinnacle of UCLA’s exceptional character can be attributed, at least in part, to the diversity of its population. As I look around the room of students that comprise this year’s Bearing Witness program, I think to myself about how the diversity of UCLA’s campus has never been exposed in such an apparent and mystifying manner. I notice the jittery anticipation of handshakes and affectionate greetings and the warm embrace of beloved friends. I observe how the radiant sunlight frames the environment in which various opinions, experiences, backgrounds, and stories have amalgamated to transform a room within the Hillel building into a vibrant backdrop for profound conversation. Bearing Witness is a “non-sectarian, nondenominational project intended to bring together students with Holocaust survivors. Over a series of four sessions, students meet one-onone with survivors and record their stories. By focusing on one-on-one interactions, both students and survivors are able to make connections that reach beyond the history of what they record into a future of friendship and understanding.” Many students, regardless of their background, upbringing, or experience with the Holocaust, value Bearing Witness’ ability to make history come alive by transforming these stories from unbelievable historical accounts into raw and real life-changing phenomena. The program facilitates connections between students and survivors rather than highlighting the human atrocities alone. By shifting the fo-
the student experience of remembering the Holocaust
survivors in an intimate way…this program has gifted me with a sense of responsibility to make sure that the world never forgets.” Ultimately, a program like Bearing Witness demonstrates how the desire to understand the resilience and bravery of the human spirit traverses lines of religion, race, culture, ethnicity, and nationality. In the words of survivor Eva Brettler, “I know that the faith and hope bestowed by my dear parents and the kindness of strangers given under the worst of conditions helped me to survive.” The diverse nature of this year’s participants illustrates how unity is achieved by identifying a common human element that is recognized when the students are given the opportunity to listen to the stories of the survivors. Grace Matteson, a second year environmental science major, notes that “even though I knew Bearing Witness would be an incredible opportunity, I was slightly apprehensive about joining the program because of the fact that I am not Jewish. However, on my first day I quickly realized this was not the case and was amazed by the vast diversity of the group. Race and religious barriers were crossed in order to preserve the first hand stories of the Holocaust.” Each participant in the Bearing Witness program is as valuable as the next, just long as they are willing to open their ears and their eyes to the stories and realities placed before them. Whether it is a desire to witness a historical account come to life, an attempt to conceive the inconceivable, an interest in getting credit for a class, or a means of making connections among UCLA students, the multifarious list of reasons for which students opted to participate in this year’s program exemplifies the distinct
I was concerned that I would be an outsider in a room full of people with extensive knowledge of Jewish history and culture. [However,] race and religion barriers were crossed in order to preserve the first hand stories of the Holocaust.” — Grace Matteson
cus from sharing traumatic stories to celebrating the life of the survivor in its entirety, Bearing Witness takes a more holistic approach to addressing the Holocaust, its aftermath, and its survivors. For individuals like Sam Freeman, a second year communications student, this program is unlike other Holocaust programs in that it is determinedly person-oriented: “The Bearing Witness program was a tremendous experience for me. For many years I have read and learned about the atrocities of the Holocaust, but this was the first time I got to converse with
groups of students that have chosen to attend. Each smaller lunch group is a microcosm of the diversity of the greater group. As I look at my own lunch group, I see both familiar and unfamiliar faces, Jewish and nonJewish students, individuals who have had immense experience with the Holocaust and those that have never encountered it. I see an international student from Hong Kong, a former Israeli solider who immigrated to the United States, a member of the Alumni Scholars club, a frequent Hillel attendee, an involved student leader, and a passionate activist. Overall, I see a
Photos courtesy of Charlene Green
T I M E L E SS FRIENDSHIP: UCLA students convene at Hillel for a lunchtime bonding session w i t h H o l o caust survivors.
group of curious, compassionate, and heartfelt individuals who are grateful to be able to spend an hour of their day connecting with a human being who has immeasurable and invaluable life experience. The diversity is beautiful because I know that the story passed from survivor to participant will be embraced in a slightly different manner by each unique individual and then relayed to various communities with that nuance at the close of the program. The unique backgrounds, upbringing, opinions, and experiences of Bearing Witness’ participants will shape the reaction they have to the program and help to determine what they will take away from their time with the survivor. The inclusiveness of the program will allow the stories to transcend the walls of the Hillel building and extend beyond the confines of the Jewish community. In an effort to proactively embrace the phrase “never forget,” the non-
denominational nature of Bearing Witness allows these stories to sow the seeds of human responsibility in communities that have had little exposure to the Holocaust. It is humbling to see the extent to which students who are not Jewish or who have very little personal connection to Jewish history take the initiative to gain insight into an event that would disappear if its stories were not continuously transmitted from generation to generation. Eva Brettler illustrates the underlying motivation of the Bearing Witness program when she says, “My emphasis remains that hatred is the worst of companions. I pray, that our willingness to learn and to listen and to act, not just be an innocent bystander when witnessing injustice, ensures for a better tomorrow.”
Ashton Rosin is a second-year International Development Studies major at UCLA. To our dismay, she hates having her picture taken.
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Unc onv Jew entio s: nal
Jews come from all walks of life, each struggling to discover a relevant connection with what they perceive as a religious institution. Many Jews (and people of other faiths) possess the desire, not the means, to connect with what mainstream society deems “conventional.” In order to obtain fulfillment for themselves, they find alternate routes to religious observance, labeled by more stringent observers as “unconventional.” In order to discuss the up-and-coming Jewish movements, the UCLA Center for Jewish Studies held a symposium titled “Looking for Judaism in [Un] Conventional Places,” facilitated by Carol Bakhos of UCLA and Jack Wertheimer of the Jewish Theological Seminary. While Sunday’s themes included “Trans and Post-Denominationalism in American Judaism” and “Are Jews Still in the Pews? Jewish Religious Life in Twenty-First Century America,” Monday morning’s speakers focused on “Judaism in Los Angeles.” Gerardi Marti from Davidson College in North Carolina spoke about how for him, “change is not unusual; it as an inherent part of religion.” In fact, “many sacred stories are oriented around change,” he argued. “Many people who I consider quite traditional are crying for change.” Marti focused his discussion of innovations on departure from traditional Church practices. He recalled how a Chinese American young adult leader at Mosaic in Los Angeles (a self-proclaimed “non-denominational Christian community”), said “I don’t go to church, I go to Mosaic.” Marti remarked on how this man’s notion of church was negative, and so he stressed his life’s devotion to “Mosaic” rather than church, self-consciously trying to innovate based on an idea of an alternative form of religious worship. In fact, Erwin McManus, the leader of the Hollywood Mosaic Center, defines himself as a cultural architect rather than the expected pastor or preacher, attempting to orient his identity around the creation of a new institution. Marti argues that Mosaic is part of a larger narrative where idiosyncrasies become conventional practices. As examples, he cites churches held in nightclubs, and describes how even pub churches are gaining steam, sporting such colorful slogans as: “Down with Jesus but frustrated with the Church, come have a pint…” One Christian community holds services in a converted movie theater — a once iconic symbol of the Hollywood industry, now declared a religious space. There is even a Hollywood star for Jesus outside of the church, promoting a sense of reclaiming what it means to be religious. “For people,” Marti observed, “it’s not just about what church is like but what it should be like.” The presentations on the Jewish community reflected similar sentiments. After a spattering of earnest applause, Shawn Landres, CEO of Jumpstart (an organization which describes itself as “a thinkubator for sustainable Jewish innovation”) took the stage. He elaborated on the theme that the “era of consensus is over,” meaning that the Jewish population no longer speaks with a single voice. He conceded that Jewish Federations still matter, but “whether they choose to support or stifle [Jewish innovation] is a different question.” He recognized that people experience varying degrees of connection to their Jewish community, and that the modern trend for Jewish leaders should be to accept and nurture these different forms of expressed Judaism. Landres ended with an analogy of a Jewish iPod, explaining, “sometimes our Jewish volume is at 11, sometimes at one. It changes with the time of life, how old we are, or what we’ve had for breakfast.” Also on the topic of Jewish innovation, Ari Kelman from Stanford University discussed the Library Minyan at Temple Beth Am in Los Angeles. Kelman regarded the Library Minyan as more than Tessa Nath a group of young conservative Jews leading their own services, but as a community that his parents Layout Editor/ helped build along with their friends. Kelman described the Library Minyan as a “product of a Jewish Senior Writer counter-culture,” an assembly of white, middle-class, highly educated 20-somethings who sought inclusion in a religious context. Beth Am’s community was aging, and apart from the bar mitzvah crowd, the mid 1970s boasted a congregation of very few young people. When temple members such as Kelman’s parents tried to bring their young children to synagogue, they were shushed and asked to control their offspring. Kelman relays that the experience was “uncomfortable, unwelcome, and unpleasant.” As such, several young community members attempted to organize their own Jewish services in Temple Beth Am’s library. Kelman stresses how it “didn’t begin with a band of young radicals fighting the conservative union.” In fact, Kelman argued that the memebers of the Library Minyan “failed in their attempt to be radical.” At its conception, they began reading the Torah in a triennial cycle, but finally decided that it felt too weird to be reading a different parsha than the rest of the Jewish world, and decided to revert back to the annual Torah reading model. “Their discomfort drove them into more conventional lines. They were just trying to reach out and find relevance,” Kelman said of his case study. To conclude Monday morning’s section, the speakers convened on a panel, opening up the room to questions. Rabbi Chaim SeidlerFeller, executive director of the Yitzhak Rabin Hillel Center for Jewish Life at UCLA, enthusiastically began the question round, directing his opinion at Kelman’s latest point. “What it was,” Rabbi Chaim noted, “was an early critique of Conservative Judaism which spoke to the dissatisfaction that educated Jews felt, and the awareness that something was going on in synagogues itself that needed altering.” To this, Kelman responded that his parents and the other founders of the Library Minyan “identified very strongly with the conservative movement. They saw themselves embodying [their Judaism]. They believed in [the ideas of Conservative Judaism] but not the way in which they were carried out. Mostly, they were critical of the synagogue and circumstances at this specific time and place.” Kelman asserts that they were striving to find a sense of community and relevance in their own lives, a timeless struggle for Jews in each generation. Their debate is a microcosm of the different Jewish perspectives on orthodoxy and secularity. Every aforementioned Jew engages with their Judaism and is on path to learning, regardless of their attention to conventional practices. The conference strove to highlight these uncelebrated members of the Jewish community, embracing them into the fold of Jewish existence.
the unsung members finally revealed
Tessa Nath is a first-year English major with minors in French and Geography/Environmental Studies at UCLA. Alan made her a peanutbutter and jelly sandwich once, and it sucked all the happiness out of her mouth.
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Too cool for the ivory tower:
a conversation with Carol Bakhos Photos by Andrew Rosenstein and Tessa Nath
INTENT ON CHANGE: Audience members listen intently as speakers for UCLA’s Center for Jewish Studies symposium “Looking for Judaism in [Un]conventional Places” share their innovative research.
Senior Writer Professor Carol Bakhos—Faculty-inResidence on the hill, academic socialite, Jewish studies stalwart. Now, a new hat: this February 12-13th, Bakhos convened a conference on shifting patterns of Jewish religious life in America. It was, so to speak, a hip topic for a hip professor. The symposium, “Looking for Judaism in [Un]conventional Places,” was sponsored by the Center for Jewish Studies with support from the NEH Jewish Civilization Endowment and co-sponsored by the UCLA Study of Religion IDP and the UCLA Center for the Study of Religion. Bakhos’ involvement bespeaks a broader interest in many things Jewish. Specifically, the rich rabbinic literary tradition, that for her is “both reverent and playful.” Thus, Bakhos, herself a midrash scholar, partnered with another academic talent, historian Jack Wertheimer, the Joseph and Martha Mendelson Professor of American Jewish History at the Jewish Theological Seminary (JTS) and author of Family Matters, Jewish Education in the Age of Choice. For Bakhos, this was a chance to “explicate a religious moment,” to examine pockets of “energy and innovation”
amidst documented declines in Reform and Conservative denominational affiliation. The recent economic downturn has only augmented the struggles these movements face with such things as religious school enrollment. Simultaneously, Bakhos reminded me as we chatted in her book-lined office, there has been a “shift to the right in the Orthodox community.” At the very time
that speaks to them as individuals. The proliferation of independent minyanim in the past decade well illustrates this rapid transformation, with its attendant emphasis on pluralism as the harbinger of Jewish community and continuity. Rabbi Naomi Levy, a JTS graduate and leader of the nondenominational outreach organization Nashuva, addressed the audience. Nashuva, which hosts
At the very time that religious Jews increasingly isolate themselves from modernity, Judaism has been rattled by most pressing intellectual concerns.”
that religious Jews come to increasingly isolate from modernity, Judaism has been rattled by pressing intellectual concerns such as the feminist critique. There was certainly much to discuss in forty-eight hours. Dana Evan Kaplan, author of Contemporary American Judaism: Transformation and Renewal, was also in attendance. His celebrated book examines the nontraditional spirituality unfolding outside established Jewish religious forms. A new generation of Jews, Kaplan writes, “is much less likely to simply accept the traditions that they were taught by their parents. Rather, they want to experience intense spirituality and will undertake a serious search for it if they do not feel it exists in their present religious environment.” In essence, Jews want Judaism
monthly prayer services with a full band at the Brentwood Presbyterian Church, has proven wildly successful in attracting young Jews. Mention was also made of independent IKAR, a burgeoning, egalitarian, and social-justice oriented “spiritual community” led by Rabbi Sharon Brous in LA. Brous, ordained at the Jewish Theological Seminary in 2001, chooses not to identify her own congregation with the Conservative movement. Professor David N. Myers, chair of the UCLA history department, spoke of his recent research about Satmar Hasidic community of Kiryas Yoel, New York— what he terms an “American shtetl.” For Wertheimer, founding director of the Joseph and Miriam Ratner Center for the Study of Conservative Juda-
ism at JTS, this conference is undoubtedly crucial. Conservative Judaism, in particular, has struggled to maintain its organizational cohesion in recent years, assailed from the right for its increasingly un-orthodox demeanor and tugged on the left towards more liberal postures. However for Bakhos, who once attended JTS, this is less a matter of soul searching and more one of intellectual fascination. “Now more than ever,” she says, “with the rise of the internet, and with interest in non-traditional ways of fulfilling one’s religious and spiritual life growing,” the time for a conference like this had come. And as Bakhos heads back to her residence up on the hill these days, maybe she is pondering her two formative years in Belize as part of the Jesuit international volunteer corps—an experience which “put the pursuit of knowledge in perspective.” Or perhaps she’s just thinking of all the things she loves at UCLA—the opportunity to engage colleagues and students on a variety of levels, the intellectual, the personal, and the social, and to be a part of a diverse pocket of energy and innovation here in Los Angeles. So if you are feeling lucky, knock on her office door and say hello—you might just get invited for tea. Ben Steiner is a fourth-year History major at UCLA. He has two roommates named Jacob and zero named Ben.
Page 8 Winter 2012
Content Editor/Senior Writer Flip on any news channel — the odds are pretty good that someone will be speculating about Barack Obama’s chances at reelection and predicting the winner of the Republican nomination. As November draws closer, Americans all over the country will need to weigh their options carefully. For Jews and other supporters of Israel (Republicans and Democrats alike), the 2012 Presidential election has more than just domestic implications: the United States has always been the only bastion of international support Israel could lean on throughout its short history. With growing tensions in the Middle East and Iran’s menacing nuclear program, the Jewish State’s future security could hang in the balance. Regardless of whether or not they voted for Barack Obama in 2008, it is vitally important for American Jews to evaluate the incumbent’s support for Israel in terms of individual actions and cumulative effect. Throughout his presidency, Obama has been the focus of much criticism from Jews (and various Conservatives) for his questionable support for Israel. Has President Obama done his utmost to sustain the crucial bond of unconditional cooperation between the
a m a b vs.
[Politics] of text. Most people do agree with Sheffey’s argument that President Obama has “provided more security assistance to Israel than any president in history.” What is shocking and chilling, however, is that they wish he hadn’t. The general consensus among the angry commenters goes something like this: “Yes, Obama has been a great friend to Israel, but why? The United States does so much for Israel and gets nothing in return. Our aid to Israel puts us in grave danger — Israel is simply a major liability. Why should we help them?” In his articles, Sheffey deflects criticism of Obama’s decisions by stressing that his policies do not differ from the policies of his predecessors, and labeling Obama as an anti-Israel president would mean consenting to deem every president since Israel’s birth anti-Israel as well. Caught up in petty indignation, Sheffey overlooks a key factor: while
increase causes adverse fiscal consequences for everyone, even the Americans who are not personally connected to the conflict or do not remember why it is so important to support Israel. Second, Israel is not the only loser if Iran acquires the capability to develop nuclear weapons; although Iran’s hostile president, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, has explicitly voiced his desire to “wipe Israel off the map,” he poses a threat to the entire world, including the United States. Many argue that Iran’s stance towards the United States is contingent on our relationship with Israel, but it is incredibly naïve to assume that ceasing our aid to Israel would transform Iran’s government into a calm, flower-bearing, Photo courtesy of latimes.com peace-weaving ally. After all, Ayatollah FLIP-FLOPPER: Despite issuing a fatwa in 2005 forbidding the production of nuclear weapons, Khamenei, Iran’s Supreme Leader and Ayatollah Khamenei now spearheads Iran’s alleged nuclear weapons program. decision-maker on all matters nuclear, find that the seemingly obvious reasons In a way, Obama’s failure to take full recently stated that “Iran’s nuclear path for the United States’ support of Israel responsibility for his distasteful behavior must continue firmly and seriously… have begun to slip out of our collective validated his derisive words. He disreconsciousness. spected Israel’s Prime Minister, and his Because of the history between the two silence tacitly endorsed the comments, Most people do agree with Sheffey’s argument that nations, it’s highly likely that the United allowing them to stand as an acceptPresident Obama has ‘provided more security assis- States will continue to support Israel fi- able viewpoint. What’s worse, Obama tance to Israel than any president in history.’ What is nancially and militarily, regardless of insulted Israel by extension — he failed the president in office and the dominant to issue any kind of statement qualifying shocking and chilling, however, is that they wish he political party. However, a truly pro- his comments as a reflection on his relaIsrael president should also ensure that tionship with Netanyahu himself and not hadn’t.” the country understands why this aid is his country as a whole. If Barack Obama volatile Middle East cannot be allowed Pressures, sanctions, and assassinations necessary and beneficial — and Obama publicly belittles Israel, it becomes acto persist; although the past few years will bear no fruit. No obstacles can stop has not accomplished this. In fact, he is ceptable for the populace to follow suit haven’t seen any outright battles in the Iran’s nuclear work.” sending the United States sliding down a — and there is no doubt that this pheregion, intensifying strains will inevitaThere is ample proof that Iran is be- slippery slope: the only conceivable cir- nomenon has begun to take root throughbly result in catastrophic losses if no di- ginning to relocate its nuclear program rect action is taken. underground, which will make it very Instability in the Middle East also difficult (if not impossible) to hinder the Iran’s nuclear path must continue firmly and seriously… hurts the United States financially: even development of a nuclear weapon. De- Pressures, sanctions, and assassinations will bear no the specter of Iran’s potential nuclear bate as to whether Iran will actually folfruit. No obstacles can stop Iran’s nuclear work.” capability has driven up oil prices, a low through on its ghastly threats has —Ayatollah Khamenei phenomenon which will undoubtedly stalled the search for a practical solucontinue as long as Iran possesses even tion, but it is clear that a “wait and see” the slightest intentions to enrich ura- attitude is no longer tolerable. Decisive cumstances under which the U.S. would out the country. nium (financial powerhouse Goldman and immediate action is as necessary as consider diminishing its aid to Israel President Obama is bad for Israel. Sachs forecasts highly probable oil price ever, and American Jews (actually, all would involve a substantial expression While he continued to offer Israel prospikes in the near future). The dramatic Americans) should be highly alarmed to of public sentiment against it. It’s night- tection against those who wish to see her marish, sure, but if we’re not vigilant, destroyed (an already immutable allisuch an improbable scenario could be ance), he has allowed the United States right around the corner. to forget why this protection is essential. In late 2011, a fateful microphone in- In the wake of escalating unrest in the advertently recorded a private conver- Middle East and Iran’s refusal to come sation between French President Nico- to its senses, the next U.S. President will las Sarkozy and President Obama at a be tasked not only with firm financial Summit meeting during which Sarkozy and military support of Israel, but also called Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu with the duty of re-justifying the bond a “liar.” Obama fired back with “you’re between the two nations to the people. If fed up with him — I have to deal with the first term of Obama’s presidency is him every day!” Of course, it is perfectly any indication, a better candidate for the admissible for the leader of a nation to job is in order. have personal qualms about a colleague. However, after the conversation went *The views and opinions expressed by Mr. Danker are his own and do not necessarviral, Obama should have immediately Mervyn ily reflect the views and opinions of the American apologized for the outrageous remarks. Jewish Committee. Instead, the White House suddenly turned mute and pretended nothing ever Alan Naroditsky is a third-year Economics and English double major at Photo courtesy of Associated Press UCLA. Unlike Jacob and Tessa, he actually likes peanut-butter and jelly happened. sandwiches. TELL ME A SECRET: French President Nicolas Sarkozy and U.S. President Barack Obama.
two nations? Do his international policies pose a threat to Israeli security? Answers to these questions will likely be the scale-tipping factors for many voters in America. To obtain them, most will turn to the mass media. In two articles published in the Huffington Post six months apart (January 2011 and July 2011), pro-Israel political activist Steve Sheffey sought to discredit any frustration with President Obama’s foreign policy vis-à-vis Israel as a po-
he resorts to listing his arguments in a brusque, almost chant-like manner, as if he were trying to bewitch the Obamadoubters with his politically-charged incantation), he is mostly accurate in his assertions — and these are supported by many prominent Jewish community activists. Mervyn Danker, Regional Director of the San Francisco branch of the American Jewish Committee*, believes that “there is no rift at this moment between [the United States and Israel].”
Throughout his presidency, Obama has been the focus of much criticism from Jews (and various Conservatives) for his questionable support for Israel.”
litical tool shamelessly wielded by, as he sarcastically quips, “our Republican friends.” The articles are quite lengthy and quoting them ad nauseam in this relatively short piece is unnecessary, but a superficial reading of the two articles would transform even the most zealous conservative into an Obama fanatic. Sheffey appears to be irresistibly convincing, and the reader is inundated with examples of Obama’s acts of good will towards Israel. According to him, Barack Obama is Israel’s deus ex machina. Although Sheffey brandishes a highly propagandistic tone (at one point,
While Danker admits that “early in [Barack Obama’s] presidency there was great concern over the relationship between the President of the U.S. and the Prime Minister of Israel,” he insists that “military cooperation between the U.S. and Israel has never been closer…[and] the Obama administration has also been forceful on Iranian sanctions.” After all, as Danker astutely observes, “family sometimes disagrees with each other.” The most eye-catching element of the Huffington Post web page, therefore, is not the article itself, but the scores of reader comments underneath the body
Obama is doing what is expected of him in terms of financial and military aid, he has done nothing to improve Israel’s image in the eyes of the general public here at home. Occasionally, reader feedback reflects prevalent views and opinions much more accurately than the well-researched, strongly argued pieces of professional journalists. Indeed, the deluge of comments on Sheffey’s articles clearly indicates that Obama has allowed Israel to be seen as an irksome obligation, even a burden to this country. Not to beat a dead horse (although this particular horse is alive, well, and kicking), but it is not a coincidence that the percentage of Americans holding deeply antisemitic views has gone up dramatically in the last few years. In reality, the interests of Israel and the United States are unwaveringly parallel, but it seems that many Americans have lost sight of why the two countries have always been inseparable allies. So, why should the United States help Israel? First, Israel is a citadel of democracy — the only true democracy in the Middle East — it is an island of calm surrounded by a tumultuous sea of despotic, belligerent, and terrorism-sponsoring governments and oppressed, destitute, and rebellion-ravaged nations. A
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Page 10 Winter 2012
The Forghani Report: motives of Iranian terror today
Photo courtesy of washingtonpost.com
T H E H E AT O F T E R R O R : A n I s r a e l i d i p l o m a t ’s c a r w a s b o m b e d i n N e w D e h l i , I n d i a , i n j u r i n g h i s w i f e a n d d r i v e r.
Channah Barkhordari Contributing Writer
On February 5, 2012, Alireza Forghani, strategy specialist under Iranian Supreme Leader Ayatollah Khamenei and a former governor of the Kish Province, published an article in the affiliate newspaper Alef. In essence, the piece outlined the nation’s religious obligation and available methods of implementation for “killing all Jews and annihilating Israel.” A literal translation by the Middle East Media Research Institute (MEMRI) reveals that the piece quotes Koranic verses as the impetus for targeting Jews and Israel, analyzes the capacities of Iran’s current full range missile systems, and reviews Iran’s capacity to
close to — if not exactly — that of the government, its dispersal generated little coverage by major news outlets in the U.S., most of which made little or no mention of the occurrence. What has made news, however, is the explosive series of events occurring since its publication. On February 13, Iran’s terrorists and Hezbollah proxies carried out simultaneous attacks on Israel’s embassy personnel in the capitals of India and Georgia by attaching bombs to their cars. In Tbilisi, Israeli security was able to thwart the attack, discovering the bomb before it went off. In New Delhi, however, there was no stopping it. Tal Yehoshua-Koren, the wife of Israel’s defense attaché, was waiting for her husband in their vehicle when she
The report adopts a logical tone and structure throughout, advocating the annihilation of both the Jewish people around the world and the Jewish State.”
wipe all of Israel out in nine minutes. The report adopts a logical tone and structure throughout, advocating the annihilation of both the Jewish people around the world and the Jewish State. If this doesn’t shake you, it should. Despite the fact that the piece was reposted by many pro-regime papers and has been accepted as a position
of her own car that had dug into her spine, among other places. When she finally woke up, doctors informed her she had partial paralysis in her legs, a condition she now has to live with for the rest of her life. The very next day, Israel intercepted another one of Iran’s planned attacks in Bangkok, Thailand, directed at Israel’s ambassador at the capital. Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu stated on February 15th that the attacks per-
realized that something had been attached to the car by a man passing by on motorcycle. She managed to exit before the automobile erupted into flames, saving her life; but the explosion reached her where she stood, a few feet from the passenger door. The shrapnel went flying into her body, and she was hospitalized for surgery to remove the scraps
hatred of Jews, Israel, and the U.S. — it reaches all corners of the globe. Just yesterday, a suicide car bombing in Yemen’s southern Hadramawt province took the lives of 26 members of the elite Republican guard. The attack took place just hours after Ali Abudllah Saleh, Yemen’s previous president with strong ties to Iran, stepped down after months of protest and President Abdrabbuh Mansour Hadi took office. Unlike his predecessor, Mr. Hadi is vocal about Yemen’s opposition to Al-Qaeda as a “national and religious duty,” while one military official told the Associated Foreign Press that the detonated truck “carried the fingerprints of Al-Qaeda.” What most people don’t seem to note is that the attack on Hadi’s headquarters occurred in the wake of strengthening ties between Iran and Al-Qaeda for the sake of targeted terror plots, and was carried out in a similar manner to the car bombings of Israeli diplomats abroad. How long can the nations of the world remain mute on Iran? The pervasive assumption has been that their threats are devoid of the capacity for actualization, or otherwise simply won’t come to be. But this month’s events prove otherwise. They reiterate that even as Ahmadinejad’s speeches have become less shocking with time, our own ennui has become frighteningly more so. Forghani’s report is a call by the regime and its supporters, encouraging the killing of Jews wherever they live and providing a plan of action for the eradication of the State of Israel as of today. These recent attacks, executed
These recent attacks, executed with premeditation and systematic determination, necessitate a wake-up call.” petrated in Azerbijan, Georgia, India, and Thailand were Iranian terror acts, and he urged the international community to condemn them. Instead of those headlines, however, most news outlets streamed stories such as “Netanyahu blames Iran for car bombs,” and “Netanyahu accuses Iran for bombings.” Even the U.S. condemnation merely suggested a link. But while Iran has denied a role in the bombings, the proof that they were been behind the attacks has surfaced — whether the world decides to accept it or not. What is more shocking are India’s attempts to conceal the facts from international light to “avoid confrontation with Tehran.” The fact of the matter is that Iran’s terrorist influence extends far past their
with premeditation and systematic determination, necessitate a wake-up call. Our concern should be that the true implications of Forghani’s report will go unnoticed, as they have already begun to materialize. There can be no mistaking the historical patterns evident here. We are a society determined never to allow another Holocaust to occur, so we cannot turn a blind eye as its modern-day incarnates begin drawing up plans. We must stop conjecturing about how long it will take for Iran to acquire nuclear weapons and start paying attention to the most deadly weapon already being used in full force — their intent. Channah Barkhordari is a prospective graduate student in the Near Eastern Languages and Cultures Department. She is Persian, and and the President of Iran is Iranian.
Page 11 Winter 2012
The scary anti-Israel lecture
you probably should have attended
Jacob Elijah Goldberg Editor-in-Chief
Throughout my exchanges with politically interested Jewish people, I have encountered (at least) two effective strategies for obviating challenges to Israel’s possession of the West Bank and de facto control of the Gaza Strip. These strategies can be used in synchrony by the well-trained Israel advocate. The first assertion addresses Israel’s initial conquest of those lands in 1967: The West Bank and Gaza were conquered in a defensive war initiated by at least three Arab armies against the nascent and minuscule Jewish State. And the second assertion explains Israel’s unrelenting presence in those areas forty-five years later: Israel will not relinquish the territories for as long as there is reason to suspect that to do so would endanger the security of the citizens of Israel. It is sensible for a country to defend its existence at the expense of its aggressors in a defensive war; and we know that Israel’s security seems to be in its neighbors’ cross-hairs. So our responses do a decent job of rebutting the accusations of Israel’s critics. However, on Friday, February 24, an event came to our campus that sought to render our arguments obsolete. “The False Paradigm of Parity and Partition: Revisiting 1967” was hosted by the G.E. von Grunebaum Center for Near Eastern Studies and featured Professor Ilan Pappé of the University of Exeter as its guest speaker. A graduate of the Hebrew University of Jerusalem and the University of Oxford and vocal proponent of the “One State Solution” to the IsraeliPalestinian conflict, Pappé has dedicated his more than ten books to contesting popular understandings of the circumstances surrounding the most fateful decisions made by Israel’s Zionist leaders. Pappé spoke to a room full of the familiar faces of people who, like I do, attend way too many guest lectures about the Middle East. His goal for the afternoon was to introduce new information that would challenge our aforementioned understandings of Israel’s control of the disputed territories. He spoke of recently declassified government documents revealing that Israel devised the plans for how it would deal with the populations of the West Bank and Gaza as early as 1963 — four years before there was ever a defensive war. Furthermore, he recounted that “the widest
Zionist consensus” decided to impose emergency laws on the Palestinians, based on the military rule by which Israel governed its Arab citizens between 1948 and 1966. Pappé argued that these measures were taken with conscious intent to ensure that Israel could keep the land and its people indefinitely without ever granting them citizenship. Furthermore, the documents imply that while Israel could never officially annex the West Bank and Gaza (the demographic consequences would be disastrous), there would be a de facto annexation for as long as possible. Having reset the stage according to his vision of the events, Pappé invited the audience to understand that terms such as “peace” and “independence” are
last resort” were, in fact, premeditated to some extent, and even the most zealous of Israel-advocates are trained to express sympathy for the Palestinian victims of the War of Independence. Pappé hopes that once people begin to view the situation in 1967 through his eyes, the region may find itself on a truer path to peace and freedom. However, when asked by Gabriel Levine of J Street U at UCLA whether he had any idea what a single, binational state for Palestinians and Israelis would be called, what its flag would look like, and what its national anthem would be, Pappé was at a loss. The best he could do was emphasize that those are the difficult questions to which we should apply ourselves immediately, and he hopes that his work facilitates the implementation of whatever
I believe that the way an oppression is presented, represented, and misrepresented is an important part of its success, and a successful challenge to the representation and misrepresentation is also an action that is part of an overall attempt to bring oppression to an end.” — Ilan Pappé used by Israel and her allies to mask the “open-air prison” that they have erected around the Palestinians. Returning to the title of the event, Pappé reintroduced the “peace process” as an Israeli instrument of fabricating a moral equivalence between the crimes committed by the Israelis and Palestinians and their respective responsibilities to make compromises for peace. Under this “false paradigm of parity,” everything — land, blame, Nobel Peace Prizes — is divisible. “I believe that the way an oppression in presented, represented, and misrepresented is an important part of its success, and a successful challenge to the representation and misrepresentation is also an action that is part of an overall attempt to bring oppression to an end,” Pappé summarized. In disseminating his scholarship, Pappé hopes to achieve the same effect as did those historians (himself among them) who interpreted the Haganah’s 1947 “Plan Dalet” as a plot by Israel’s future leaders to achieve maximum conquest of land and expulsion of Arabs. Whereas Israel’s defenders had long denied the reality of anything resembling what the Palestinians refer to as the Nakba, today it would be imprudent not to acknowledge that some of Israel’s “options of
answers we reach. But there are probably many other reasons for us to engage with those and all of Pappé’s arguments. If we want to adhere to the prescriptions put forth by Hasbara’s Eli Levine at the last BFI meeting and be able to score points against the propaganda machines of our anti-Israel counterparts, we should probably understand what they are saying. And more importantly, there are people
in the world, Jews and non-Jews, some of whom walk the same hallways as we do, whose lives and families have been irrevocably changed by the country that we presume to champion. Our crusade to impose our visions on a situation thousands of miles away should be informed by as much information as possible. There is no utility in avoiding anti-Israel speakers. If we are confident in the virtues of our arguments, then we should make sure that they are available to people who may only be listening to people like Ilan Pappé. And if information offered by Ilan Pappé and his ilk contains truth that could be useful to the affected parties, then our egos and biases should not interfere with our acceptance of that information. As Maimonides demands in his introduction to his commentary on the Mishnah (quoting Muslim scholar Ibn Qutayba, who in turn quotes the Prophet’s cousin Ibn Abbas), “Accept the truth from whomever it may come.” Most people walked out of the auditorium that day feeling triumphant because they heard what they came to hear. A much smaller contingent was furious and defensive, and hardly any of them were students. Starkly absent were the knitted brows of people who now carried the burden of having to actually think about their opinions, which is a scary reality. Activism without diverse, comprehensive education is a recipe for a foolish consistency, and no one suffering from this conflict has anything to gain from the advocacy of little minds.
Jacob Goldberg is a second-year International Development Studies major at UCLA. He hopes that people can, like, chill out, and he has never had a peanut-butter and jelly sandwich.
Photo ourtesy of stl-psc.org
[UNCOM]PROMISED LAND: Pappé’s interpretation of recently declassified Israeli documents ostensibly support claims that Israel’s control of disputed territories is part of an organized colonial project dating back to the state’s inception.
Page 12 Winter 2012
v a e r l T e r r a
... a story about a Jewish vagabond
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I do have iving room ; l e m d ’ h t t s n s d e a o f n k S e e f i . e o r p f w e dragged h y s e y I u k d , m r s u f y t e d o l s l m a r o a r e c t m s e l e e a g e f h n h w t g it was no lo chatterin oints and the open s j e y d l s y e s u d m u o n o h n i e i x s s ’ d n u r a n h o t e r b feel the b over, and my neigh h the othe t s i n a i w w r l m e o o h o o t r h e t c g s e o ry. T re. I swear arake o u p t t i i e n h m r t r u o f d d f n In 2010, high t a o n e e . e tory cem -post piec r was gon was a bed s r e u e o r o m e f w t m h e t u , h s t d l m n y o o e b c o h r ages. T so struck e. In my a bus to a s c a d n n e w a d I i , . s y e g r r t n i f n r o u a nd my o e a e c d c d a n l e w e p b e t n e y w y a e m s , n s u e plan ed toward ase, cautio tairs to my h r s c h e n p i h t t t s e r p e fi u f s g ’ d ave to rip a e y h t b b s d a e ’ u I b r fl t f t a u n y e a d k e M i y l m . t m tangible the floor d rang ou h. s g r g s n o o i o r h w G t c e a y n h n a t n a , V w e o e t n y r t Miiiin painting b ngs fell st f my hear i t o g a s n h g t o l n e i e r k b t i l s y tairs, e e s m h m t l e l t g a h a t n t i d u h n n c o a w a t d o e t e s d a t it jut the hall, , because rms let loo y a n r a w y o w m d , s n s d e e e h r o t t t w tippedSo that’s oss the ma r c a d e s p a l l ut. I co limbs gave o waters. I e h t t . s n e o t o s nd them again a y to and into class. T here was a l I was read ot of talk of trust things r ight away so God and the I doubted Go blind faith th ing. And I th d out loud. S at seems to b ought that m ome girls do e associated aybe I was. painfully str ubted me. St with it. I nev The man wh etched lips a e p er like to h a o n ran the scho ie is just pret nd pupils lik Some weeke o e e l n t c tious, conde hanked me f amera lenses nds we wou scendor my hones . ld have oblig who made u ty and smile atory attenda p the entire d with his school body nce at a scho “interesting” ol-wide retre and the man place. At som at. That mea a n d e w more would point in the oman who r nt that the tw trip I always be posed. W an the schoo enty girls h l f at do you thi ound myself w peer pressur o u l d t r a vel together nk about dat sitting in a c e or Do you to some ing at a youn ircle with ev want to be r Everyone ba g e e r a y l i g o g e, or Do you ne. A questi ious when yo ahed like ob on or edient white believe that u grow up? spent with so anyone is im Then we wo sheep, until mething akin the black on uld go aroun mune to to bullying t You might b e d w t h a e s h s c p i e r o cle and “sha odd one into tted. The rem e familiar w re”. bleaching he ith the itch t a i n d “I think I wa e r of the evenin o take off. W r fur. Then w nt to switch g was then e would all s ell I felt it th schools,” I t you are. Ma m e n like a dead ile and move old my room ybe I do… A l y on. m f n e d a v t e e I r . s that shook m Well I think tayed for a m I talked to m you, like, ne e. y father. We onth. ed to, like, le ll it seems li And I stayed ke you just h arn to love w for another t ave a habit o here wo. Over the cou f i d e a l izing the pat rse of those h not taken. days, the me well it snapp Maybe he’s tal rod that h ed, and so di right… a d s a m lways seared y back and I I began to fe inside of me bent lower, l el odd, fluffy , driving me ower down. , pillow-like a sheared sh to quake and . It wasn’t th eep. I was th fume, a a t t I c w l ump of woo a s Then I found a b l e a c h ed once-blac l left over. In out that my k sheep. It w a n i tending clas b m e a s t t e. friend from asn’t even th ses and spen h i g h at I was s c h t ool was trav my time wor The man wh e k l i i n n g to Europe. g on logistic o ran the sch s and reservi My toes twi ool wanted t I’m going to ng tickets on tched. I stop o speak to m Spain, I told ped atl i n e e . . I understand running to a a girl in my you have a n school. Aren much better eed to rebel. ’t you just ru place. And I My legs wer I left the roo n p n a cked my thin ing away? N e in motion. m. o. I am not “ gs like I kno They’re alw w r unning away ays in motio how and I go ” I am n t . o A n n a d p t hey move w l a n Art and story e a n d c ould breathe hen I tell the by Stephanie . m to now. Leonn
Ha'Am tackles difficult questions about identity, intermarriage, Israel, and Iran.