Did Jewish Values Die with the Six Million?

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How can you be a Jewish state when you have no Jewish values? Do we need to quote Tanach and Talmud to remind ourselves of the Jewish values that have been ingrained on our souls since we were tykes? Don’t we do that every week in the synagogue? Is anyone listening? Isn’t Israel supposed to be, you should forgive the expression, the Mecca of Diaspora Jewry?

So why is it that fewer and fewer Jews care about Israel? Maybe it is because they don’t like what they see in a host of Israeli policies, from making nice with some of the vilest governments in the world to treating refugees from genocide like criminals. It is something that is hard to wrap your head around. As hard as trying to understand how rabbis in New York refuse to let victims of child abuse dial 911 without their permission.

Who are the people throwing rocks through black-owned shop windows in Tel Aviv and setting fire to Eritreans in Jerusalem? People who were educated in the Land of Yad Vashem? How many billions did we spend trying to teach people how to live together and prevent genocide? As Jews and as a Jewish community, we yell “hate crime” every time someone looks at us cross-eyed, denies the Holocaust, or paints a swastika on a wall, including at Yad Vashem in early June. In the meantime, we Jews treat each other, our children, and the strangers among us like we are less than worthless.

Did the Six Million die for nothing? They had faith in a free, democratic and ideal state of Israel that would be the salvation of the world. Ani Mamin they sang in the Ghettos and camps. Hatikvah was on their lips together with the Shma as they went to the gas. We sing those songs on Yom Hashoah along with the Partisaner Hymn and Kaddish.

Where is that land of Israel, the land of Jewish values and ideals? Today it’s a place where Israeli government officials tell the big lie about North Africans, and prevent their own people from protesting peacefully. Government officials said that these refugees from genocide are raping Israeli women, giving them AIDS, and are a cancer on Israeli society. And they are deporting them back to their countries of origin with ugly rhetoric and violence reminiscent of Kristallnacht.

The ideal Israel in our souls, the Israel of blue skirts and embroidered blouses, of campfires and idealism, only exists in our imaginations. As a student of history, not bubbeh mayses, the story of the birth of Israel, the story of how the Jewish community behaved before, during and after the war in Mandate Palestine, in Europe, in America, in community after community–except for a handful of people who put themselves on the line in the attempt to rescue Jews–is not a pretty story.

The fictional Ari Ben Canaans of Exodus and the Rabbi Michoel Wiessmandls were rare characters. The Israeli right wing murdered the man who saved my mother and thousands of others during the Holocaust. To this very day, the behavior of the established Jewish communities in the secular and denominational world is shameful–from the treatment of the North Africans, including Ethiopian Jewry and women in Israel and everywhere else where they are forced to sit in the back, not drive, not go to school, etc.(in the organizational Jewish world there is equal work, not equal pay and glass ceilings) to the decades of covering up child abuse and domestic violence everywhere. And if anyone tells you that women in Judaism are free, look them in the eye and say “Agunot.”

The typical American Jew looks on, aghast, as Israel self-immolates in front of Diaspora Jewry, and Diaspora Jewry faces its own house of horrors. So much for being a light unto the nations. So much for the lessons from the Holocaust. So much for Jewish values. How the hell did we become the monsters we teach our children not to be. How can we, just four generations after the Holocaust, remain silent in the face of our leaders’ moral bankruptcy? How can we tolerate it when a Jew calls another Jew a Nazi? How can we tolerate it when our own people behave the way they do?

Maybe Jewish values died with the Six Million. Maybe that’s when Jewish leadership died. Elie Wiesel once said, “Jeanette, don’t wait for leaders. Be your own leader.”

Listen to Wiesel. Speak truth to power. If you don’t like what you see in the Jewish community, don’t wait for someone to lead you. Pick up a phone, post something to facebook, make your voice heard. Protest and demand the end of hypocrisy. Be your own leader.

In New Jersey, Vice is Nice–But Incest is Best!

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By doing an end run around Roe v. Wade, States and the Feds are making incest legal by redefining its victims as minors only.

by Jeanette Friedman

In the Soprano state where vice is nice, incest is best and legal among consenting adults. It is incredible that in New Jersey, where Governor Chris Christie and Congressmen Chris Smith and Scott Garrett are political paragons of virtue, incest among consenting adults is perfectly legal, but therapeutic abortions to save the life of the mother wouldn’t be if those same men have their way.

This is the same state that arrogantly cut $1 billion from education, and who knows how much more from programs that provide women with low cost screenings for reproductive diseases, including ovarian, cervical and breast cancer and programs that provide children with food. Looks like the language in HR 3, HR 217, and HR 358, Congressional bills designed to do an end run around Roe v. Wade, was born in New Jersey. It’s also a sneaky way to make incest legal in America, since all three bills state incest only applies to people under 18.

New Jersey does not apply any penalties when both parties engaged in incest are 18 years of age or older. The county prosecutor I spoke to, who stayed on background, wouldn’t say outright that it was legal and kept referring to sexual assault. He asked me to read the sexual assault statute, and I kept asking, “What if the victim doesn’t understand that this is sexual assault? What if Daddy is in control?” There was no comment–but they won’t prosecute if the victim is 18+.

A 2006 Harvard Law Review article said it all: “Inbred Obscurity: Improving Incest Laws in the Shadow of the ‘Sexual Family'”. Harvard Law Review. June 2006. Get it here. It’s legal in France, Belgium, and in Brazil from the age of 14. But you can get up to life in prison for it in Ireland. The Irish understand that incest is always rape.

There are plenty of people who say it’s not a problem, especially the Libertarians. Even Supreme Court Justice Arthur Kennedy says it’s no one’s business. ..Amazing how they keep their noses in women’s private parts, but no one’s permitted to stick noses into their crotches. They clearly understand the uses of power.

I wrote “What do you mean it’s not rape?” because people are inserting the word forcible in front of the word rape for legal purposes–as if rape is not a forcible act, with or without the use of threats, weapons or drugs. Everyone knows it’s all about power and has nothing to do with sex. That’s why rape is used as a weapon of war. Imagine, if you aren’t marked up or if you’ve been drugged, you won’t be a victim, you’ll be an accuser, In Georgia, at least, they want to go that route, and Rep. Bobby Franklin, a Republican, would make all abortions, described as “prenatal murder,” illegal based on the belief that all life begins at conception. Miscarriages in Georgia will become felonies if the mother cannot prove there was no “human involvement.” Unlike New Jersey, at least, in Georgia, incest is still a crime at any age–until the Feds make it legal.

America has lost its collective mind: they are legalizing incest while they send women back to the stone age. Move-on did a PSA with Lisa Edelstein of HOUSE (like young people watch it, not!) and it ends with a lone wire clothes hanger in the closet. How many women under 40 know what that hanger is for? How many of them can even imagine what it was like before Roe V. Wade? We’re talking pregnancies resulting from incest, rape, or affected by drugs and disease that result in non-viable fetuses…
As a result, some hospitals will let women die. Creating non-viable fetuses via incest? Those lawmakers just gotta have those babies.

In South Dakota, they debated for days to decide if your doctor or family member could become a victim of justifiable homicide if he or she takes the fetus to save the life of the mother. They finally shelved it when outsiders reacted.

It’s not just women’s reproductive rights under attack. It’s Head Start, nutritional programs, day care centers, all those things that help single mom families struggling at the edge of poverty keep families and soul together.

Even The Daily Show noticed.

But maybe we are mistaken. Perhaps this is part of a Republican jobs plan. If they get what they want, funeral directors will get plenty of work, emergency room and neo-natal ICU units will need more medical personnel. Prisons will need to be expanded and more prison guards hired…as well as social workers, parole officers…and everything it takes, like $73,000 a year per kid, to keep these unwanted and damaged kids in Juvenile Hall for a year. But if it’s incest, they won’t prosecute because it costs too much.

The men who think they are cutting the budget are gutting American values–diminishing rape victims by calling them accusers; by not allowing American women to make decisions about their own bodies, and denigrating their own mothers, sisters and daughters when they legalize incest between consenting adults in the name of ending abortion.

It makes you wish they’d hurry up and legalize marijuana.

Naomi Graetz, Biblical Scholar, on Human Trafficking

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Naomi Graetz, the biblical scholar and author of groundbreaking books on the sources for coping with discomfiting Jewish topics like wife-beating, talked about slavery and trafficking at the Rabbis for Human Rights North America Conference on December 6. Graetz, who lives in Omer, a Beersheva suburb, came to the States for that meeting and a biblical scholar’s conference in Atlanta.

Graetz explains that slavery and trafficking resonate from biblical times. Poverty and circumstance have always forced some women into the trade — where they are dehumanized. And while there are those who say prostitution is the world’s oldest profession, Graetz notes that pimps came first, and it is a very lucrative trade, indeed. According to the U.S. State Department, 12.3 million people are in slavery and forced prostitution around the world — most of them women and children. “The practice of closing one’s eyes to a social phenomenon with distressing overtones creates denial — and that prevents the establishment from responding effectively to trafficking,” she said.


read more here.

CGI: How a global effort encourages local action

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TUESDAY, 28 SEPTEMBER 2010 15:43

BY JEANETTE FRIEDMAN

NEWJERSEYNEWSROOM.COM

COMMENTARY

About a week before I covered the Clinton Global Initiative in Manhattan, I read the galley proofs for Program or be Programmed: Ten Commands for a Digital Age by Douglas Rushkoff. Rushkoff has written lots of books about how our lives are affected by computers and marketing, corporations and the media, and he’s invented words we now use all the time. But instead of just re-writing the material from Wikipedia, you can read all about him here. His new book focuses on how computers and smartphones have changed our lives and what we have to do to make those tools work for us, so that we aren’t used by them.

But in a more subtle way, it is also about weapons of mass distraction — if we are all distracted by all the things we are doing on our computers and phones, we will be too busy to notice how America has fallen by the wayside. We may not realize until it’s too late that we have turned ourselves into a nation of ignoramuses — and it is just one of the issues Rushkoff talks about, issues that were significantly related to issues addressed last week at CGI.

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Clinton Global Initiative raises $6 billion in four days

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9/24/2010

1,950 private/public commitments will help 300 million people over ten years

BY JEANETTE FRIEDMAN

NEWJERSEYNEWSROOM.COM

While STAR magazine and other tabloids touted the confessions of a bimbo who said she got it on with Ashton Kutcher, and predicted the end of his marriage to Demi Moore, Kutcher and Moore were at the Clinton Global Initiative (CGI) in Manhattan, where they formally announced their campaign to end sex trafficking in the United States. “Real Men Don’t Buy Girls” is their message, and Kutcher told American men to get off their asses and do something. One in five American men buy sex, and 75% of the women in the trade are enslaved by their pimps. The average age of entry is 13, and it is not done by choice.

Kutcher told a packed house that Tuesday marked the anniversary of Abraham Lincoln’s signing of the Emancipation Proclamation. While most Americans assumed slavery was over and done, he said, there are more people enslaved now than ever before in human history — 27,000,000 — most of them sex slaves, with 80% of them women and girls. In the United States alone, he noted, there are 1,000,000 sex slaves, one third of them children under 15, many of them stolen off the streets. He and others on the panel described a number of heartbreaking cases. You can watch the panel discussion here.

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