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Page 2 Fall 2012

[Opening]

Table of Contents

Ha’Am Fall 2012 Kislev 5773

3

Lifestyle Latkes & Applesauce ... 3 by Birtu Belete

Why go kosher? ... 3 by Miriam Pinski

4-5

Politics Politically correct America: a nation in fear ... 4-5

Editor-in-Chief Tessa Nath Managing Editor Alan Naroditsky Senior Content Editors Diane Bani-Esraili Jacob Elijah Goldberg

by Alan Naroditsky

6-7

Special Report Celebrating 40 years of Ha’Am ... 6-7 by Tessa Nath

8-9

Feature Got kosher (meat)? ... 8-9 by Devorah Friedman

10-11

Jewish Society Gay and Orthodox: a struggle for religious rights ... 10 by Yona Remer

30 Years After and the threefold identity of Iranian-American Jews ... 10-11 by Diane Bani-Esraili

12

Israel Haphazard accusations of genocide hinder humanitarian cause ... 12 by Jacob Elijah Goldberg

Content Editor Miriam Pinski Staff Writers Devorah Friedman Yona Remer App Manager Nicole Rudolph Social Media Manager Birtu Belete Photographers Talia Kamdjou Andrew Rosenstein Ha’Am Magazine 118 Kerckhoff Hall 308 Westwood Plaza Los Angeles, CA 90024 www.haam.org © 2011 UCLA Communications Board Published with support from Campus Progress/Center for American Progress (online at CampusProgress.org) 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 8252787, or director@media.ucla.edu.

Can’t get enough of Ha’am? Download our FREE iPhone apps, and visit us online at haam.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 nondiscrimination 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


Page 3 Fall 2012

[Lifestyle]

Latkes &

Applesauce

Birtu Belete

Social Media Manager

Latkes: Ingredients 3.5 cups potatoes (grated) 3 large eggs 2.5 tablespoons flour 1 small yellow onion (grated) A few pinches of baking powder Salt and pepper to taste Oil for frying Sour Cream (Optional) Homemade Applesauce (recipe below)

“So put on your yarmulke, here comes Hanukkah,” and what is more funukkah than eating massive quantities of fried carbohydrates? Although most Jewish people claim that their mothers make the best latkes, they cannot possibly compare to my mom’s. Every single time she makes her famous latkes, people tell her that they were the absolute best latkes they have ever had. This recipe was passed down from my great-great-grandmother Evelyn and is one of the many reasons why Hanukkah is one of my favorite times of the year. These latkes have made their way from my great-great-grandmother’s kitchen to my elementary school’s holiday feasts, to the dormitory kitchens at MIT. I’m a latke purist and enjoy the simplicity of this recipe; these are latkes in their purest and most delicious form. These potato pancakes are always light, fluffy, and crisped to perfection. They’re so delicious that eating them for eight days out of the year isn’t nearly enough for my family. Top them with sour cream and homemade applesauce for a traditional Hanukkah treat or enjoy these potato patties for breakfast as a delicious hash brown substitute. Yield: about a dozen latkes — which, if you’re a latke fiend like me, equals one serving. Prep time: 12 minutes Cook time: 24 minutes Cost: under $15 Parve

Applesauce: These latkes are so special that they require the highest quality condiments possible. I have such fond memories of picking apples in the yard and helping my mom peel them for the applesauce. This recipe is perfect for Chanukah and can be enjoyed as a healthy snack all year round. Yield: about 1 quart Prep time: 10 minutes Cook time: 25 minutes

Photo by Birtu Belete

Directions: Preheat oven to 300 degrees. Line a cookie sheet with newspaper and paper towels. Fill a large bowl with cold water. Peel potatoes and place peeled potatoes in cold water to prevent browning. Heat oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Grate potatoes and onion with a handheld grater or with a food processor. Lightly squeeze the potatoes to remove some of the moisture, then transfer grated onion and potatoes into a large mixing bowl and add remaining ingredients. Mix well. Drop several spoonfuls of the mixture into the hot oil taking caution not to crowd the skillet (this will make the latkes soggy). Fry 3-4 minutes on each side, until golden around the edges. Repeat until all the batter has been used. Keep the finished latkes warm on the lined cookie sheet in the oven. Blot excess oil with paper towels. Serve hot with sour cream and applesauce. Tips: Not in the mood to peel and grate potatoes? Use shredded hash brown mix sold in the refrigerator section! Although my mother does not approve of this tip, it is a wonderful time saver. Ingredients: 3-4 pounds of apples (golden delicious, granny smith, or McIntosh work best) ¼ cup brown sugar ¼ white sugar (less depending on desired sweetness) 1-cup water ½ teaspoon of salt A few dashes of cinnamon

Whygo... KOSHER? Miriam Pinski

Content Editor I find myself keeping kosher for the first time. Do I believe in the strict guidelines? No. But in respecting my roommate’s lifestyle, I have reevaluated my own stance on Kashrut. Here is how I make sense of it: It is a deeply personal decision to keep kosher. How we nourish ourselves, respect tradition, and worship G-d are essential components to following the laws of Kashrut. However, in choosing this lifestyle, it is necessary to have a personal stake in the matter — habit is not reason enough. Yes, tradition is a major tenet in the Jewish faith, but if one does not question these principles, then custom and ritual become mechanical motions devoid of meaning. There comes a point when following Halakha is less about the law and more about following expected norms and customs. To be a citizen in today’s globalized world, open-mindedness, curiosity, and cultural understanding are some of the vital ingredients that create a harmonious coexistence. Keeping strictly kosher can limit experiences with other ethnicities. According to an article by Rabbi Kalman Packouz on the Aish HaTorah website, “a special diet reminds us of our mission and keeps us together as a people to fulfill it.” The

strict laws are decided upon by the Rabbinical Assembly of America, members of which are based mostly in Los Angeles and New York, where there are large Jewish populations. Many of these guidelines are broad interpretations of what is written in the Torah, and are very detailed as to what constitutes kosher, such as the type of products that require a hescher, or how to clean dishes in a porcelain sink. These rules may be difficult to apply to individuals in areas with few Jews, particularly if they want to dine in a non-Jewish home, thereby encouraging close-knit Jewish communities. Globalization does not require assimilation to the extreme of losing cultural identity. Judaism’s rabbinic tradition of interpreting texts allows each person who reads the texts to form a different opinion, colored by the lens of his or her place in time. For example, Exodus 23:19 states that “you shall not boil a kid in its mother’s milk,” which stems from an idolatrous Canaanite fertility ritual. This was subsequently interpreted to mean complete separation of all dairy and meat products. I should mention the Scripture in Genesis 18:8 stating that Abraham “took butter, and milk, and the calf which he had dressed, and set it before them, and he stood by them (G-d and his two angels) under the tree, and they did eat.” In order to stay consistent, this scripture

has been interpreted to mean that they waited eighteen minutes between eating the dairy and meat. Evidently, the laws of Kashrut are no less subject to interpretation than any other laws. It is especially true for Kashrut, because there has never been a clear consensus as to why the kosher laws exist. As Rabbi Ben Bag Bag mused, “Turn the Torah over and over for everything is in it.” Differentiating between mishpatim (laws that are understandable) and chukim (statutes that cannot be rationally explained) is crucial to the issue of keeping kosher. The reason behind Kashrut may be interpreted, but no concrete reason is ever written in the Torah. The closest explanation written is the Parshat Shemini,

the righteous person regards the life of his or her animal.” — Proverbs 12:10

in which G-d lays out what can and cannot be eaten, concluding that “you shall be holy, for I am holy.” In other words, you are what you eat, and to be a holy people, we must imitate G-d. However, this still does not explain the specifics of the laws, which I will consider to be chukim. Adaptation and interpretation is what will allow Judaism to remain relevant and meaningful today. If we are to prevent religion from becoming stagnant, we must incorporate the mitzvot to be meaningful to modern day life — tradition can be fluid. To preserve Judaism is to preserve the spirit of the law, which requires the letter of the law to affect the ne’shama (soul).

Directions: Wash, peel and core the apples and cut them into quarters. Put all ingredients into a large pot, cover, and bring to a boil. Lower heat and simmer for about twenty minutes. Remove from heat and mash mixture with a potato masher. Serve hot or chill in the fridge. Extra applesauce can be kept in the freezer for several months.

Following the rules of Kashrut for sake of custom alone, then, is not leading a Jewish lifestyle in the true spirit of Judaism. To observe these laws by being mindful of choice in diet is to consciously partake in Jewish tradition. By this standard, I personally define the best form of Kashrut to be vegetarianism, as G-d originally intended before the flood. Proverbs 12:10 states that “the righteous person regards the life of his or her animal.” Therefore, one cannot be cruel to animals to be considered righteous. Most meat consumed today is not butchered in the backyard but killed in factory farms. Even if this process is done completely ethically, purchasing meat in a plasticsealed neat package does not allow for any personal connection to the sacrificed life of the animal. This separation of the consumer from the animal ultimately diminishes the reverence for the animal’s life. Keeping kosher should be a way to revere life. In Genesis 1:21, 24, both animals and humans are referred to as nefesh chaya, a living soul. Judaism puts the utmost value on a single life, for everything alive is touched with holiness. As Rabbi Abraham Heschel questions in Moral Grandeur and Spiritual Audacity, “Does existence simply mean to seize and eat, to seize and drink, or does it have a double meaning: to exist and to serve a purpose?” For me, this purpose is to respect life, both human and animal. For Kashrut to have meaning, for it to animate the spirit of the law and to go beyond the letter of the law (Lifnim Mishurat HaDin), the vegetarian diet allows me to be conscientious of my duty to regard life as sacred.


Page 4 Fall 2012

[Politics]

A Politicallym e CORRECT r i c a Alan Naroditsky

Managing Editor

ton Metropolitan Area Transit Authority (WMATA). This time, the transit authority invoked recent world events and mentioned concern for the safety of its passengers as justification. After Geller pursued legal action once more, the WMATA defended itself by saying that “it was advised by the Department of Homeland Security to review the ads because they risked inciting violence in the wake of Middle East protests set off by an anti-Islamic video produced in California” (Time). Even though Judge Rosemary Collyer believed that the advertisements were “hate speech,” she condemned the WMATA to the same fate as New York’s MTA — they were required to run the ads.

As it turned out, the fiasco was just getting started. Commuters and casual observers plastered some of the ads with Post-It Notes in protest, and counterads have been put up by the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) that display a peaceful-sounding message and implicitly decry the original ads as hateful. Representative Mike Honda (D-Calif) has called for a boycott of the Washington metro system, accusing the advertisement of crossing the fine line between free speech and hate speech. What does the advertisement actually

a nation in

All jihad terrorists are Muslims, but not all Muslims are jihad terrorists. So why should any Muslim who opposes jihad feel his character impugned?” — Pamela Geller

say? Despite media headlines blaming the ad of equating Muslims to savages, the wording clearly directs the harsh adjective at that those who support and engage in jihad (the pursuit of violence in the name of Islam). Some would appeal to the literal translation of jihad (“struggle”) and accuse the ad of producing a blanket statement that targets all Muslims who engage in peaceful, spiritual struggle. However, since the advertisement refers explicitly to violence (war), this argument is fatuous — it’s clear that the ad directs its message at those who “struggle” to destroy other human beings on behalf of their extreme interpretation of Islamic law. It isn’t socially taboo to label ruthless acts of murder (or even lesser crimes) that occur daily on domestic soil as “savage,” so why should the unrelenting attacks on Israel’s civilian population by jihadists receive more lenient verbal treatment? They certainly should not. People from all religions, nationalities, and cultures are capable of savage behavior — behavior that must be sought out and soundly condemned. If the perpetrator happens to be Muslim, however, we are afraid to call it out and afraid to discuss it. We are afraid of offending other Muslims, even those that share only a common religion with the transgressors. Geller clarifies that her ad “is asking people to oppose those who commit jihad attacks against innocent civilians, and those who celebrate the attackers as heroes. All jihad terrorists are Muslims, but not all Muslims are jihad terrorists. So why should any Muslim who opposes jihad feel his character impugned?” (Huffington Post) Nevertheless, Jewish, Christian, and Muslim organizations around the coun-

FEAR

In the age of advertisements and billboards, almost no public space is devoid of banners, announcements, or commercials. In New York City, Washington D.C., and San Francisco, a fiery dispute over a series of controversial ads posted on various municipal transportation vehicles and metro stations has developed into a full scale marketing war — and even more trouble is brewing. Some of the public transportation in the three metropolises recently featured an advertisement that reads “In any war between the civilized man and the savage, support the civilized man. Support Israel, Defeat jihad.” In the fall of 2011, The American Freedom Defense Initiative (AFDI) and its leader Pamela Geller attempted to run this advertisement on New York City buses, but ran into immediate resistance from the New York Metro Transit Authority (MTA). According to an article in Time Magazine, the MTA rejected the ads on the grounds that the advertisements “violated its rule against posting ‘images on information that demean… on account of race, color, religion, national origin, ancestry.’” Not to be deterred, Geller sued, citing the right to free speech and “arguing that by not putting up the ad, the MTA was taking sides on a political issue” (Time). After a period of litigation, the courts validated Geller’s arguments and ordered the MTA to run the ads — which they did, starting on September 24 (albeit with a disclaimer stating that the MTA does not share the opinions expressed by its advertisements). Geller also signed a contract to run the same ad in Washington D.C. from September 24 through October 21 and met similar opposition from the Washing-


Page 5 Fall 2012

[Politics] try expressed strong disapproval of the ads, demonstrating that the negative response is truly collective and indiscriminate. The swift social backlash aimed at the advertisement brings us to a very important and frightening realization: America is obsessed with political correctness. We strive to enforce political correctness in classrooms, election campaigns, public speeches, literature, and film. We are quick to invoke this agreeable, refined term to show our sophistication and genuine concern for those potentially slighted by our comments. However, the origins of this expression may be revelatory, and even shocking. According to a short documentary created by The Free Congress Foundation entitled “The History of Political Correctness,” the concept was born in the early 20th century out of the Frankfurt

sponse, young Marxist scholars assembled at The Frankfurt School to develop methods of combating Western culture and thus ensuring the proliferation of communism throughout Western Europe. According to the Marxist visionaries, the biggest threat to the spread of Communism was the prevalent cultural acceptance of free thought in the Western world — individualism of any flavor is the kryptonite of the Marxist ideological agenda. The most natural solution, then, was to annihilate the individual point of view by instituting a “correct” mode of expression — one that prohibits intellectual freedom on a personal scale and permits only ideas generated and approved by the masses. Thus, The Frankfurt School became “the vehicle that translated Marxism from econom-

The Frankfurt School would be the vehicle that translated Marxism from economic into cultural terms, giving us what we now know as political correctness.”

Institute for Social Research (colloquially known as The Frankfurt School) — a communist think tank in post-World War I Germany. After traditional Marxist theory failed to generate a large-scale uprising among the European working class, prominent Marxists believed that the blame should fall on Western culture and its troublesome free-thinking ideologies. In re-

ic into cultural terms, giving us what we now know as political correctness.” In other words, the theory of political correctness emerged from a deeply Marxist desire for the wholesale censorship of intellectual and cultural individualism. Surprised? Many would be, considering that political correctness is such an acoustically pleasing and outwardly be-

nign expression. Of course, we may contend that the modern application of this practice has shifted dramatically from a flagrant agenda of suppression to a respectful defense of people’s emotions.

doms, yet we flinch at the first instance of their manifestation. If people are fearful that a completely lawful advertisement condemning a murderous, violent radical sect will enflame the tempers of

...there’s an unwillingness to confront the reality that Islam has a violent tendency, and that’s the tendency that’s being manifested, that’s being espoused, that’s being promoted today.” — Rabbi Chaim Seidler-Feller

However, it seems that political correctness has not only retained an undercurrent of its former censorship, but has been slowly eroding the freedom of expression we enjoy in the United States and providing a popular avenue to evade the real problems we are facing. Rabbi Chaim Seidler-Feller, executive director of Hillel at UCLA, agrees that the spiritual meaning of jihad is a “wonderful teaching” if applied correctly, but he laments that “most Muslims understand the obligation of jihad to require them to go out to war on behalf of Islam. The attempt to deny that this is the operative meaning of jihad is an example of really dangerous political correctness, because it constitutes an unwillingness to confront the reality that Islam has a violent tendency, and that’s the tendency that’s being manifested, that’s being espoused, that’s being promoted today.” We insist on upholding personal free-

other Muslims, then it is not presence of the ad we should be worrying about. Our inclination to don a disguise of mutual respect and peaceful discourse has been taken to the extreme — we are content to discredit the voices that condemn radical Islam and stamp them as divisive and hateful, but we fail to address the real issues at hand. Calling Pamela Geller an ignorant anti-Muslim crusader spewing vitriolic and acrimonious rhetoric will make us all feel better. Dismissing her advertisements as hate speech will allow us to sleep at night, knowing that we have not offended anyone with our words. However, it won’t stop rockets from pounding Israeli towns and it won’t stop jihadists from dancing in the streets, celebrating the murder of Jews and chanting “death to Israel.” If we have any desire to stop the bloodshed, the first step is to start talking about it frankly, blatantly, and honestly.

Photos courtesy of the Washington Post (left) and MailOnline.com (right)

D E FA C I N G PA M E L A G E L L E R ’ S C O N T R O V E R S I A L M E T R O A D V E R T I S E M E N T S : B e f o r e a n d a f t e r.


Page 6 Fall 2012

[Special Report]

Celebrating 40 years of...

Tessa Nath

Editor-in-Chief

Black and white with small, cramped lettering running down the side of the page. It hits a break and disappears in the white expanse of empty space. Larger font, then a sea of sentences swimming together. A photo, maybe. Gray, blurry, captioned. What am I? Ha’Am in 1972, the year of my inception. In contrast to the drastically more modern Ha’Am of 2012, equipped with full-page color, a website, and an iPhone application, Ha’Am’s first issue in April of 1972 seems like a plebeian counterpart. Not so. Behind the yellowing pages of Ha’Am’s original publication lurks the story of a struggle for identity, voice, and recognition in a post civil rights era world. In celebration of Ha’Am’s 40th year of publication, we will delve into the intrigue that brought about the first Jewish newspaper in Los Angeles, tracing its effect on Jewish Bruin culture today.

lead to the fulfillment of the needs of all groups.” The board scathingly retorted, “How naïve to think that Jewish students would continue to kiss tuchuses while the utterly epithetical images of ‘rich Jewish businessmen’ and the infiltration of University media by Jews were constantly invoked by Comm Board members.” Reflecting upon the political atmosphere at UCLA during the 1970s, Rabbi Chaim Seidler-Feller, Executive Director of Hillel at UCLA, recalled that aside from the issue that Jews were not

We were not even allowed the common courtesy of self-definition — the society (read “the University”) assumed the power to judge who and what we are.” — Editorial Board, 1972 perceived as a minority because of their prominent social standing, “in those years, there was of course always the perception that Jews are a religious community, and they weren’t giving newspapers to religious groups.” Ha’Am’s struggle for establishment accompanied a larger fight for the recognition of Jewish students on campus. The editorial board observed an upsurge in a collective Jewish consciousness: “when the Communications Board

denied the Jewish newspaper, it is unlikely that they expected response from a Jewish coalition, they more probably expected to be lobbied by influential Jewish individuals.” However, as Rabbi Chaim remembers, the 1970s marked the birth of the Jewish Student Union, the on-campus arm of the Jewish community, while Hillel functioned as the off-campus, religiously affiliated center. The JSU served as a uniting force between Jewish student groups, lobbying UCLA to fund Jewish organizations. “In effect, it was an outcome of the 60s, when there was a growth of student activism in reaction to the Vietnam War and an affirmation of ethnic identity,” Rabbi Chaim recalls. “All of a sudden, we began to have blacks organizing and calling for black power, which was in some ways a reaction to the civil rights movement.” He continues after a pause, sitting back in his chair in front of a massive wall-to-wall-to-floor-to-ceiling-to-table-top book collection. “All of this gave rise to the expression of pent up feelings and resentment about the fact that we’d been suppressed in America; as Hispanics we’d been suppressed, blacks had been suppressed, and later on it sort of spread to other groups.” During this period of change, the 1972-1973 academic year marked the first time that UCLA considered religious observance while creating the school calendar and subsequent scheduling. In other words, for the first time,

since

1972

Initially, when students applied to create a Jewish newspaper at UCLA (on the heels of Nommo, the African-American newspaper in 1969, and La Gente, the Latino newspaper in 1971), the Communications Board denied the request on the basis that Jews were not an ethnic minority group. Ha’Am’s first editorial board (comprised of Sheryl Baron, Bruce Kobritz, Yossi Dror, Jill Lewis, Zev Yaroslavsky, Eddie Tabash, Neil Eigler, and Tom Birns) had the following to say on the subject: “We realized that we were most certainly not a self-defined entity when the University had to request a legal judgment as to whether or not Jews were an ethnic group. We were not even allowed the common courtesy of self-definition — the society (read “the University”) assumed the power to judge who and what we are. Although we laughed at the ludicrousness of this attitude, the sense of powerlessness we felt was, in reality, most painful.” The editorial board expressed their contempt for the Communications Board’s insistence on racially categorizing Jews, and not including them within the “minority” designation, despite the fact that Jews comprise less than one percent of the world’s population. They continued, rightly pointing out, “the University learned that it had better adhere consistently to decisions that were initially made for the purpose of maintaining whatever modicum of liberal ideology this institution retains. The fulfillment of one group’s needs must


Page 7 Fall 2012

[Special Report]

A snapshot of

Jewish history

since Ha’Am’s

Lubavitcher Rebbe dies; Israel and Jordan sign an official peace treaty; Arafat, Rabin, and Peres share the Nobel Peace Prize

inception

Israeli Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin is Assassinated

Yom Kippur War Camp David Accord Signed

1972

1977

1987

Lebanon War

1992 Soviet Union Allows Jews to Emmigrate

became the first major American university to fund a Jewish newspaper. But there’s always more behind the initial narrative. Rabbi Chaim fondly remembers some of the founding faces of Ha’Am, classifying them as “edgy people. They were not your cut and dry Jewish students. They were characters. Zev Yaroslavsky was a very interesting example of a guy who said ‘we’re going to make a difference.’

Gilad Shalit Returns Home; 1st Gay Rabbi Ordained

Lebanon War Gaza War

1st Gulf War

1982

there were no Shabbat exams, and even though fall registration began on Yom Kippur, students were allowed to enroll by mail, bypassing the conflict. At this point, all changes were still highly provisional, and Ha’Am writer Phil Metson incited “Jewish students [to] organize as a group and maintain constant contact with the Office of Academic Services to prevent the reinstatement of Shabbat finals and other scheduling conflicts.” Also in 1972, on March 10th, the College of Letters and Science at UCLA granted formal approval for the Jewish Studies Major, effective that upcoming fall quarter. Starting in 1972, Jewish Studies was an interdisciplinary major housed in the Department of Near Eastern Languages until, in 1994, Provost Brian Copenhaver of the UCLA College of Letters and Science founded the Center for Jewish Studies in the Humanities Division, still active today. Caught up in the excitement of innovation and recognition, the founders of Ha’Am saw themselves as part of an express movement to claim their own sense of Jewish identities, citing that “The Public Jew has emerged.” So, long story short, in 1972, UCLA

First Israeli Astronaut, Ilan Ramon Israeli Military Withdraws from the Gaza Strip

Beginning of the 1st Intifada Against Israel

Munich Massacre; 1st Woman Rabbi Ordained in U.S.

Turkish Flotilla Incident

Israel and PLO Sign the Oslo Accords

1997

2002 Al-Aqsa Intifada Begins

Wiesel came to speak, becoming Rabbi Chaim’s close friend. “There was a deep excitement about the possibility of owning aspects of Judaism and deepening their involvement in ways in which I don’t see today. I think that American Jews are more assimilated today,” Rabbi Chaim admitted, tilting his head and eyebrows up slightly. (Although he recognizes that there are more Jewish students today who are involved in Hillel than ever

I came to Hillel because there was the sense that the university was the place where a new type of Judaism was going to immerge that was going to provide meaning for the future.” — Rabbi Chaim Seidler-Feller

He represented the student struggle for soviet Jewry, that Ha’Am will be a voice for the oppressed. It was about we have something to say that we need to say to the community. We want to be heard.” There was a spirit of innovation alive in the air, including Hillel’s Jewish Organizing Project, Israeli dancing, classes, as well as arts, engagement, and outreach projects. Even Eli

before, and that Hillel, and being Jewish on campus, has become more popular.) He attributes the flourishing of Jewish life largely to the aftermath of the 60s. “Young Americans were claiming America had betrayed its principles, and we want to reassert the principles of America. They were saying ‘our parents sold us a bill of goods, they

2007

2012 Hamas Rocket Fire on Israel Civilians Escalates

told us to go to college but they didn’t teach us how to be Jewish. We’re going to learn how to be Jewish.’” The Bayit was a center of Jewish creativity, an enclave of Jewishness where Jews who wanted to create an alternate havurah lived. “I came to Hillel,” Rabbi Chaim recalls, smiling from the corners of his mouth, “because there was the sense that the university was the place where a new type of Judaism was going to immerge that was going to provide meaning for the future.” The founders of Ha’Am promised their readers that they “will almost never find homogeneity in our pages; it is more likely that you will find the most divergent viewpoints, the largest ideological schisms. We plan to make your search for the ‘true meaning’ of ‘Jewish’ an exceedingly puzzling and difficult one.” Today’s Ha’Am presents the same challenge to writers, contributors, Jews, students, and all readers alike. Although saturated in influences of a different age and tasked with transporting different ideological burdens, we are still the original Ha’Am. The nation.


Page 8 Fall 2012

[Feature]

Assuming you’re not a vegetarian or vegan, how do you get your meat? The store, the restaurant, The Shack at Hillel…it all comes in a crisp, clean package or steaming and savory on a plate. But farmers don’t raise vacuum-sealed bags, of course; they raise animals and poultry. Let’s see how well you know your kosher meat, and take a look at the process — from the turkey to the table.

Devorah Friedman Staff Writer

I. Preparation: For Shabbat dinner this week, November 30, the process would start around October 21.

Sources: 1. Lawrie’s Meat Science, 7th edition: Lawrie, R.A.; Ledward, D.A. © 2006 Woodhead Publishing (online version) 2. JTA: “Inside Empire’s Slaughterhouse: The Life of a Kosher Chicken <http://www.jta.org/news/article/2011/08/04/3088849/ inside-empires-slaughterhouse-the-life-of-a-kosher-chicken> 3. Kashruth: A comprehensive background and reference guide to the principles of Kashruth: Rabbi Yacov Lipschutz; © 1988 Mesorah Publications, Ltd.

Poultry is hatched and raised, and animals are bought. Many more animals and birds are bought than actually turn out kosher after being slaughtered, since the kosher meat requirements are very strict. Around November 25-26, they would be shipped to kosher slaughterhouses such as AgriStar, Empire Kosher (poultry), Griller’s Pride, Wise Poultry, International Kosher Meat Processing Corp., and Wise Organic Pastures.

See also Arba’ah Turim §Yoreh De’ah 1, 18, 20-25, 29-60

II. Shechitah (kosher slaughtering): Shechitah is very complex, with numerous books written solely about the laws (see Arba’ah Turim - Yoreh De’ah 1, 18, 20-25, 29-60). The following is a brief overview of the entire process and different requirements. •

be across either the trachea or the esophagus, since either leads to the severing of the artery and nerve, and immediate death. The carcasses are also exsanguinated and the blood disposed of; covering is preferred but not necessary.

Preparation for shechitah:

Disqualifying factors: The knife (called a chalaf or sakin) must be of a specific length and metal, having no point that could pierce the animal’s throat and cause ikur (tearing of the skin and/or tissue) or chaladah (cutting while the knife is not visible), and having no serration, which could also cause ikur. It is checked for any scratches or imperfections, and must be razor-sharp. The animal is checked to make sure that it is healthy and uninjured in any way, including bruises. The throat must be clean of any dirt, pebbles, or other foreign materials, and sheep’s necks may be sheared, to prevent chaladah. Before coming in to work, the shochet (slaughterer) immerses himself in a ritual bath, to be spiritually “clean,” and a blessing is made immediately before slaughtering the first animal.

The process is quick and quite simple: • Animals are slaughtered by a swift knife stroke across the trachea and esophagus, severing arteries and nerves, which causes immediate unconsciousness and death within two seconds of the stroke. Exsanguination (draining of all blood) follows immediately. The blood is collected and covered during disposal, with another blessing made over “the covering of the blood.” •

Birds are also slaughtered by a swift knife stroke, although it may

After shechitah takes place, any of the following factors may render the carcass treif, or non-kosher. Depending on the quality, treif meat is sold either as regular non-kosher meat (since it is still perfectly safe for human consumption) or as animal food. 1. 2. 3. 4. 5.

Shehiyah – any hesitation or pause during the knife stroke Hagramah – cutting outside of the proper area (the trachea and/or esophagus), which is checked by the shochet Derasah – pressure applied during the stroke Ikur – tearing, rather than slicing the throat tissue Chaladah – cutting while the knife is covered by anything (skin, wool, hair, etc.)

The knife is then checked again; if any scratches or imperfections are found, the carcass and all other carcasses from other shochtim’s knives of that batch are considered treif.


Page 9 Fall 2012

[Feature] VI. Meat packing and processing: On November 26-27, the packing process begins. The meat is held at 5-15°C and deboned (if applicable); any additives are added at this point. It is then processed (cured deli meat, hot dogs and ground beef come into being), vacuum-sealed, and held at the same temperature for at least 10 hours before being frozen.

V. Soaking and salting: After the meat is certified glatt kosher, it is soaked and salted in order to remove every drop of blood from inside the meat, as the Torah forbids any consumption of blood. Soaking is done in water that is between 1026°C and is followed by further rinsing with water of the same temperature. The meat is briefly allowed to drip, enough so that the subsequent salting is effective and the salt not washed away. Salting is done by sprinkling the meat with – what else? – kosher salt, a thick, coarse salt, and allowing the meat to stand for an hour on an inclined or perforated surface. It is then triplerinsed or soaked. However, not all meat may be made kosher by salt alone – therefore, organs that are completely saturated with blood, such as the liver, must be broiled to remove every trace of the stuff. It is first rinsed with cold water and sprinkled with a few grains of salt, to aid in the exsanguination. Before this process begins, poultry wings are sliced completely through in order to ensure that the water penetrates them.

IV. Checking the organs: Kosher animals must have unblemished, watertight lungs. The lungs are visually checked for punctures or adhesions, which would indicate a problem with the animal’s health that would have resulted in its imminent death (had it not been slaughtered). Lungs with scabs may still be considered kosher if the adhesions are removable and the lungs still watertight (they are actually filled with water to test this). However, such meat is not glatt (also called chalak – your choice of Yiddish or Hebrew) – “smooth” – and to avoid the risk of it being non-kosher, non-glatt meat is sold as treif. For poultry, the egg sacs of the throat and the entrails are checked for bulges and imperfections.

VII. Shipping: On November 27-28, it is sold to the first meat distributor, such as Alle Processing and Aaron’s Gourmet. The 28-29 may see it sold to a second distributor, such as Morris Kosher, who would then sell it in bulk to stores. Your chicken is now ready for pickup on either the 29 or 30, just in time to be made into Friday night chicken soup. Of course, you can also buy your meat online, and some companies, such as Griller’s Pride and Wise Organic Pastures, only sell online, cutting the middleman costs. Kosher meat is notoriously expensive, and some prefer the convenience of Internet shopping to the inconvenience of meticulously examining each package to get the cut of steak with the least marbling. That’s it…from the chicken to the nugget. Enjoy your soup!

Kosher meat versus non-kosher meat: a snapshot of price comparisons Kosher costs – no one eats kosher meat for the price. Obviously, the extra charges of shochtim, additional water power, and partial profit losses from animals that do not turn out kosher or glatt are additional factors that kosher meat plants must take into account when determining selling price, and the final store charges must reflect that. But do they add up? Let’s briefly compare online prices for kosher and advertised prices for non-kosher meat. The selection of choice? The ubiquitous boneless chicken breast meat, perfect for cooking in just about any way, from schnitzel to scaloppini.

Boneless chicken breast meat ($/pound)

III. Dressing the carcasses: After shechitah, the carcasses are skinned and extraneous fat is removed. In accordance with Jewish law, in commemoration of Jacob being struck in the thigh (see Genesis 32:32-33), the sciatic nerve is removed. Since it is complicated to extract from the hindquarters, in the United States, the entire hindquarters are simply cut off and sold as non-kosher meat. In Israel, where there is a much smaller non-Jewish population, certain rabbis are specially trained to remove the sciatic nerve from the meat. Forbidden fats (called cheilev), as specified in Jewish law, are also removed at this point. Cattle carcasses are split along the mid-ventral axis in preparation for further dressing and treatment. The meat is then fully rinsed off with water between 10 and 26°C to remove any traces of blood and bodily fluids. Congealed blood on the throat slit is scraped off.

Organic Prairie (non-kosher organic)

Milanesa Steak(Jons International Market; nonkosher); on sale

$17.62 Wise Organic Pastures (kosher organic)

$13.99

First Street (Smart and Final): chicken split breasts with ribs (non-kosher)

$2.99

Griller’s Pride (kosher): Aarons (bulk pack)

$5.49

Aaron’s Kosher (kosher distributor): Chicken Cutlets

$7.99

$0.99 The Kosher Express (kosher distributor)

$6.99

Please note: Prices are as of November 15, 2012 and do not include shipping or other additional costs. Non-kosher companies are of uncertain status (plant or distributor), although they are most likely distributors.


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[Jewish Society]

Gay and Orthodox: a struggle for religious rights Yona Remer Staff Writer

Seeking to live an Orthodox lifestyle can be an isolating proposition. With constant vigilance for dietary restrictions, Sabbath laws, and various other religious standards, one can easily feel separated from mainstream society. Yet, the perceived isolation is even deeper in a small but growing community of Orthodox Jews, a nascent gay Orthodox community. In America, gay rights have become an increasingly significant issue in the past decade. As of the most recent election, nine states throughout the U.S. recognize gay civil marriage, including Massachusetts, Connecticut, Iowa, Vermont, New Hampshire, New York, Maine, Maryland and Washington. Moreover, the Obama administration pledged not to support the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA), a law that affords states the right not to recognize the legal marriages of other states. Ultimately, though, the following question remains: How has Orthodox Judaism responded to the growing community of gay Jews seeking to subscribe to an Orthodox lifestyle? The 2001 documentary, Trembling Before G-d, introduced the world to a small and underground community within Orthodox Judaism — observant gay and lesbian Jews. As a community, these Jews struggle to navigate troubled waters. They seek to create a lifestyle

in which they commit to balancing their Halakhic Judaism (a personal choice) with their natural sexual orientation — yet they encounter heavy opposition. The ultimate question for a group of people who have devoted their lives to Halakhic Judaism is: What has Halakhic Judaism done for them? Not much, it seems. The foundation of Orthodox Judaism’s animosity toward homosexuality stems from the longstanding interpretation of a series of verses in Leviticus that prohibit homosexuality: “Thou shalt not lie with mankind, as with womankind: it

Senior Content Editor Eager as can be, with my program in hand and my nametag around my neck, I made my way into the ballroom of the historic Biltmore Hotel in downtown Los Angeles for what would be a momentous gathering. I had never seen my community come together in such

throughout the book of Leviticus, it may be argued that there is a place within the Halakha to incorporate a community of gay men and women. In November of 2011, Rabbi Steve Greenberg, an openly gay rabbi ordained by Orthodox rabbinical seminary of Yeshiva University (REITS), presided over the first marriage between two Orthodox men. Since the event represented the first gay marriage presided over by an Orthodox rabbi, it attracted tremendous controversy. Immediately following the ceremony, 100 Orthodox rabbis signed a letter condemning Rabbi Greenberg’s actions. Despite the condemnation, Rabbi

Greenberg’s move reflects a growing trend in Orthodoxy and a formative step towards accepting gays in the Halakhic community. Trends in Orthodoxy signify a growing willingness to engage the homosexual community in a meaningful way. According to Rabbi Greenberg, perhaps an argument exists that allows for civil gay marriage for Orthodox Jews. The author of the critically acclaimed book Wrestling with God and Men: Homosexuality in the Jewish Tradition, Rabbi Steve Greenberg renewed an impassioned discussion on homosexuality within Orthodox Judaism. Greenberg’s argument, which has become increasingly popular among many liberal-minded observant Jews, emphasizes an important distinction. First, it is significant to differentiate religious marriage and civil marriage. Halakha fails to recognize civil marriage in any capacity. Thus, while gay marriage may not conform to the definition of religious marriage, which requires a male and female party, it leaves open the possibility of gay civil marriage and practicing Orthodox Judaism. While the barrage of criticism directed at Rabbi Greenberg reflects a persistent refusal to accept his position, the prospect of a change in direction for Orthodox Judaism seems promising. Wherever one stands on the argument, Jewish history dictates the necessity for tolerance and understanding. As a community, our principle concern should be inclusion rather than exclusion.

identity is threefold, and that the circles of which I am a part are, in fact, overlapping. For these two reasons, I have a role to play in 30 Years After, and each Iranian-American Jew on this campus (and beyond) does too. What is 30 Years After? 30 Years After is a non-partisan, non-profit organization based in Los Angeles, whose mission is to promote the participation and leadership of Iranian-American Jews in American political, civic, and Jewish life, as well as to build a bridge between Iranian-American Jews and the broader Jewish community. The organization was founded in November of 2007 by a group of three dozen young Iranian-American Jewish professionals. It is the first and only organization of its kind. In 1979, the Islamic Revolution forced Iranian Jews to uproot their lives in order to flee religious and political persecution. Thirty years after, the cohort of about 30,000 that came to the United States seeking asylum has become one

of the most prosperous and highly educated sectors of broader society. In other words, we have done extraordinarily well for ourselves in a remarkably short period of time. We have made the American Dream a reality for ourselves, and at an astonishing rate. Therefore, we should consider ourselves the most successful immigrant group America has seen. The problem is, however, that decades under authoritarian rule and the experience of persecution have created, in the collective psyche of the IranianAmerican Jews, a certain skepticism of and detachment from American civic life and broader Jewish life. Dara Abaei, an Iranian-American Jew who works with the youth of this community on our campus as director of JUN: Jewish Unity Network explains, “Freedom is number one in this country, and we as a community still do not trust it. This generation must change that.” The time has come for us to expand into and engage with the larger society of

How has Orthodox Judaism responded to the growing community of gay Jews seeking to subscribe to an Orthodox lifestyle?”

is abomination” (Leviticus 18:22). Institutions such as Jews Offering New Alternatives for Healing (a nonprofit based out of New Jersey) engage in many of the same practices as Evangelical Christian groups, offering their services of “conversion therapy” — a controversial practice that seeks to transform homosexuals into heterosexuals through extensive rehabilitation. Rabbi Moshe Feinstein, a renowned Orthodox religious leader of the 20th century, also took a harsh stance, calling homosexuality a “desire” that only exists “because it is something prohibited and the yetzer harah (evil inclination) seduces them to rebel against the will of G-d.”

and the threefold identity of Iranian-American Jews Diane Bani-Esraili

However, the prevailing prohibition of gay rights within Orthodoxy seems to be gradually eroding. Several prominent Orthodox Rabbis have recently expressed a desire to allow homosexual Jews a place in the Orthodox lifestyle, despite an inherently rigid and conservative Halakhic process in which rabbinic authorities interpret Jewish text to confront changing lifestyles. While the evolution of Halakha proves somewhat sluggish, it is open to change provided the law conforms to accepted rabbinic interpretations of Jewish text. Despite the explicitly stated proscription of homosexual activity expressed

droves at such a venue for anything other than, well, a big Persian wedding. After navigating through a labyrinth of endless round tables, I found my seat, sat down, and looked up. I saw on the stage a dignified display of American, Israeli, and Iranian flags, arranged side by side. At that moment and in the form of those physical objects — the flags and round tables — I realized two things: that my


Page 11 Fall 2012

[Jewish Society] which we are a part. We can do that without losing our distinct character and oneness. 30 Years After is the key. Since 2008, 30 Years After has held a biennial civic action conference. I was privileged to attend this year’s third bi-

their connection to their 2,700-year- of resources around you — are you takold Iranian heritage? How about to their ing full advantage of those opportunities even more ancient 5,000-year-old ties to enrich yourself and strengthen your to Judaism and its rituals and values? knowledge and your connection?” 30 Years After is currently the only If you would like to get involved in 30 force — and an increasingly formida- Years After, consider joining the volunble one — that can and will ensure that teer council. Comprised of students and every Iranian-American Jew’s answer young professionals, the volunteer counThe problem is, however, that decades under authori- to each of those questions is, becomes, cil plans, executes, and enjoys the perks of attending 30 Years After events and tarian rule and the experience of persecution have cre- or stays a resounding “yes.” Back to flags and round tables. I, like hearing from renowned speakers. There ated, in the collective psyche of the Iranian-American every member of the Iranian-American are also currently several openings for Jews, a certain skepticism of and detachment from Jewish community, stand at the intersec- board members that will have a chance to tion of three identities and thus, multiple directly create and implement programAmerican civic life and broader Jewish life.” responsibilities and fidelities. Our fami- ming for 30 Years After. There is no reennial conference, which took place on arts and culture (e.g. Y & N Nazarian lies escaped a regime and country that quirement to be fully informed about all October 14. There were over 1,000 at- Family Foundation), promoting social frequently dominates global headlines. of the issues; the organization is, howtendees and nearly 40 featured speak- responsibility (e.g. LEV Foundation), The time has come for us to expand into and engage ers, from congressmen, ambassadors, and providing community service and and diplomats, to authors, journalists, support (e.g. Iranian-American Jewish with the larger society of which we are a part.” and academics. The panel’s discussions Federation). However, it is time that and debates addressed topics like the our community becomes a strong po- Interestingly enough (and unfortunately ever, looking for passionate, motivated, future of the Los Angeles Jewish com- litical force and a formidable presence enough), Iran poses an existential threat and bright individuals who like to think munity, the threat of a nuclear Iran, how in American civic life.” Davoodi asks: to our biblical and eternal homeland (Is- outside of the box. As Dara Abaei puts to correct the internal flaws of the Ira- Are the majority of Iranian-American rael) and to our new home (the United it, “Believe in yourself. You are a leader. nian-American Jewish community, and Jews registered to vote? If so, do they States). It is more crucial than ever be- You will steer the future of this commuthere was even a Los Angeles mayoral actually practice this civic privilege? fore for us to rally ourselves. nity.” debate. The daylong event ended with a Are they educated on the issues? Do We, Iranian-American Jewish Bruins, gala dinner, featuring keynote speakers they know who their elected officials should begin right here on campus and Please email Tabby Davoodi at Rabbi David Wolpe, Consul General are? Do they know how to access them? parlay our on-campus presence and pride info@30yearsafter.org if you of Israel David Siegel, and representa- Are they educated enough to participate into concurrent involvement in 30 Years are interested in becoming a part tives from both the Obama and Romney in an educated conversation about Iran, After. Davoodi insists, “Be the voice of of the wonderful 30 Years campaigns. Israel, and foreign policy? Do they have your community on campus, because no After team. When asked why it is important to knowledge about and access to their one can do this for you — no one. Be have an organization like 30 Years elected officials? Are they maintaining honest with yourself — you have a world

After, the executive director, Tabby Davoodi said, “We are blessed as a community to have wonderful organizations devoted to connecting us back to Judaism (e.g. JUN: Jewish Unity Network and Nessah Israel Synagogue), supporting Israel (e.g. Magbit), promoting the

Come see the exhibit Light and Shadows: the Story of Iranian Jews at the Fowler Museum. Professor Nahid Pirnazar will be teaching JS177 on the history and culture and Iranian Jews, tied to the exhibit.

Campus Progress funds, trains, and mentors students running a diverse and growing group of progressive campus media organizations. For more, visit CampusProgress. org/JournalismNetwork.


Page 12 Fall 2012

[Israel]

Haphazard of genocide hinder humanitarian cause accusations Jacob Elijah Goldberg

Senior Content Editor Since the escalation in violence between Israel and Hamas earlier this month, it has been nearly impossible to sign on to Facebook or Twitter without seeing an exchange of rhetoric between supporters and opponents of Israel’s latest military campaign against Hamas, known in English as “Operation Pillar of Defense.” Among the most extreme speculations as to Israel’s objective in conducting this campaign is the claim of genocide. This claim deserves to be analyzed in light of all available evidence. When asked about the living conditions created by Israel’s military blockade of Gaza in an October 25 interview with PressTV, Irish human rights activist Derek Graham said, “The way it works is, the Israelis are creating slow genocide where they basically want to wipe out the Palestinians.” Since the latest round of violence between Israel and Hamas broke out, Graham’s claim of genocide has gained momentum, with the anti-Israel establishment using the term generously in the social-media front of this conflict. These claims require us to look back at the internationally accepted definition of genocide, which is found in the Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide, adopted by the UN General Assembly in 1948. The Convention defines genocide as [A]ny of the following acts committed with intent to destroy, in whole or in part, a national, ethnical, racial or religious group, as such: (a) Killing members of the group; (b) Causing serious bodily or mental harm to members of the group; (c) Deliberately inflicting on the group conditions of life calculated to bring about its physical destruction in whole or in part; (d) Imposing measures intended to

prevent births within the group; repercussions for such tragedies should be (e) Forcibly transferring children of determined through the appropriate legal the group to another group. channels. But the claim of genocide all but evaporates in the face of the reality that IsIt is true that the IDF has killed and harmed rael’s war — whether justifiable or not — is members of the Palestinian nation. However, not one of extermination. absent the specific intention to destroy that According to the current academic connation qua nation, Israel’s actions cannot be sensus, the question of whether any set of considered genocide according to the accept- events can be considered genocide is not ed definition. one of numbers or proportionality or cruBoth the blockade of Gaza and the current elty; it is a question of intent. That the Nazi military campaign are carried out with a mis- regime designed the Final Solution with sion other than the destruction of any nation- the intent to exterminate European Jewry is al, ethnical, racial, or religious group, either well-documented. Similarly, the intent of the in whole or in part. The blockade of Gaza, perpetrators of other genocides has also been which does bear partial responsibility for the preserved in historic documents and testimostifling humanitarian conditions within Gaza, nies. only began in 2007, when Hamas took conIn 1915, Alma Johanssen, a German mistrol of Gaza and ousted members of the rival sionary working for the Red Cross in the OtFatah party. Hamas is a group whose charter toman Empire, kept an account of her efforts states that “Israel will exist and will continue to save Armenian children from Ottoman

But the claim of genocide all but evaporates in the face of the reality that Israel’s war — whether justifiable or not — is not one of extermination.” to exist until Islam will obliterate it,” and the group’s incessant firing of rockets into civilian-populated areas in Israel appear to Israeli policymakers as an affirmation of Hamas’s commitment to its stated goal. The current military campaign itself, despite how various parties may feel about its logic or its efficacy, is being carried out with the stated objective of disrupting the capabilities of militant organizations in Gaza, including Hamas. IDF spokesman Yoav Mordechai told the Jerusalem Post, “The first aim of this operation is to bring back quiet to southern Israel, and the second target is to strike at terror organizations.” To date, Israeli forces have succeeded in assassinating Ahmed Jabari — commander of the military wing of Hamas — as well as 33 other militants in Gaza. It is true that 34 civilians and one policeman have also been killed in the process, and the legality and

death marches. She writes, “I went to the Mutessarif and begged him to have mercy on the children at least, but in vain. He replied that the Armenian children must perish with their nation.” It is clear that the killing of Armenian individuals in the Armenian Genocide was part of a larger intent to eliminate the Armenian nation. Similarly, in Rwanda in 1994, Hutu farmers were given direct orders from municipal and national leaders to take up their machetes against the Tutsi tribe. One perpetrator recalls, “The first day, a messenger from the municipal judge went house to house summoning us to a meeting right away. There the judge announced that the reason for the meeting was the killing of every Tutsi without exception. It was simply said, and it was simple to understand.” In the case of Israel’s operations against Hamas, no such intent has been simply said,

Cartoon courtesy of Universal Press Syndicate

and nothing about the situation is simple to understand. Questions about why Israel decided to pursue such a course at this time and in such close proximity to the failure of Cast Lead in 2008-9 abound. Even more confounding is the chicken-and-egg question of who started this violent exchange and who is responsible to end it. These questions deserve robust analysis and both parties’ submission to the rule of law. However, a serious deliberation over whether Israel’s campaign can be considered genocidal does not hold up to honest analysis. It is possible that the use of the term genocide in the case of the innocent people killed by Israeli forces in Gaza is merely a rhetorical device meant to rally support for the end of Operation Pillar of Defense and the blockade of Gaza. Such a tactic presumes that the death of innocent people is not tragic enough to muster public sympathy, and it obscures the true meaning of the word genocide. Genocide is a legal term that refers to the intent to destroy a discrete grouping of people, in whole or in part. The destruction of innocent individuals is no less condemnable than genocide. Those who hope for a just end to the conflict (myself included) should not rely on misrepresentations of facts and terms in order to convey the urgency of the mission. The most effective representation of the situation and the one most likely to sway the masses to come together in support of a peaceful resolution is one that stands up to all legal and historical analysis and holds the value of human life, regardless of nationality, above all else.

Campus Progress funds, trains, and mentors students running a diverse and growing group of progressive campus media organizations. For more, visit CampusProgress.org/JournalismNetwork.


Ha'Am Fall 2012