Even People Who Like Some of Trump’s Policies on Israel Should Condemn His Dangerous ‘Disloyalty’ Comment

From Time Magazine:  https://time.com/5657576/trump-jews-great-disloyalty/

By Rabbi David Wolpe
August 21, 2019

It is the mark of a well-managed mind that one can hold principles that are not dependent on the people who espouse them. So it is possible to believe, simultaneously, in the following:

  1. The move of the American embassy from Tel-Aviv to Jerusalem was both necessary and overdue.
  2. Some of the statements of Rep. Rashida Tlaib and Ilhan Omar and some of the organizations and individuals who support them are anti-Semitic.
  3. The President’s statement that Jews who vote Democratic are either ignorant or disloyal is both foolish and dangerous.

In the past few weeks, partisan anger has risen over the issue of Israel’s denial of admission to Reps. Omar and Tlaib, and subsequent invitation to Tlaib for only a humanitarian visit that she then refused. The Jewish community, which has seen both rhetorical attacks from the far left and a spate of violent attacks from the far right, is increasingly subject to angry divisions. Today, a day after Trump said that Jews who vote for Democrats show “either a total lack of knowledge or great disloyalty,” the President tweeted a quote from a conservative talk show host comparing him to “the king of Israel.”

Along with many commentators over this month (and indeed over the past few years), I have discovered that it is impossible for many to hear any sort of nuance in conversations about the issues. My Facebook page has changed from a discussion to a boxing match. But we have to be able to hold principle above personalities. When President Obama linked the establishment of the state of Israel to the Holocaust, I condemned the statement. When President Trump said that good people marched with Nazis, I condemned the statement. That is what adults do. We do not assume our sports team never fumbles, our children never err or our favored politicians never do wrong. Is there no adulthood left in America?

The accusation of disloyalty has a long history in the Jewish experience. Those who have hated Jews, from the biblical stories of Egypt onwards, have catalyzed their nefarious plans by declaring the disloyalty of Jews to whatever country they inhabit. In Germany, despite having fought for the country in World War I, Jews were suddenly treated like a cabal of traitorous outsiders. That trope is one of the most reliable ways to mobilize anti-Jewish sentiment. In this paranoid, delusional world, Jews are not native — they are interlopers and disloyal ones at that.

Defenders of the President will note, correctly, that he has Jews in his own family and among his many associates. They will note, again correctly, his popularity in Israel and his close relationship with Israel’s Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. What they will not dwell on is the fact that there is also a disturbing double messaging from this administration that has been the delight of alt-right sites and pundits — and that the danger of accusing Jews of disloyalty (since over 70% of Jews vote Democratic, wisely or not) cannot be remedied by other aspects of his Presidency that Jews find congenial or praiseworthy.

A problem that arises with always supporting “your guy” is the same that arises with always defending your kid. The motivation to change never comes from the opposition, it always comes from those who support you. So if Omar and Tlaib’s voters would stand up and say, “You cannot speak that way about Israel or Jews,” it would matter. If pro-Trump voters would say, “This is unacceptable,” it would matter. Shouting over the fence does nothing but make each side wish to build it higher.

The President should have the maturity and graciousness to admit he ought never have suggested that Jews are disloyal to their country or their tradition. That is not a judgment for a President and it carries some terrifying implications. Progressives in the Democratic Party should raise alarm bells at the increasing anti-Israel and anti-Semitic rhetoric that threatens to undo generations of bipartisan building.

The rest of us should ask a simple question: if someone I disliked said the same thing that was just said by someone I like, what would be my reaction? Believe in more than “your team.” Believe in your principles.


For trans people, birth certificate battle is a fight against discrimination

From The Guardian UK: https://www.theguardian.com/society/2019/jul/26/for-trans-people-the-birth-certificate-battle-is-a-fight-against-discrimination

After years of resistance, Kansas will finally change its anti-transgender birth certificate policy – and it will be life-altering for many trans people

Fri 26 Jul 2019

Luc Bensimon’s mother knew early in her child’s life that he would struggle. For a start, he was black in America. Then he was diagnosed with cerebral palsy on his right side, necessitating years of operations and physical therapy.

But there was something else that Bensimon’s mother only came to recognise years later: she assigned her son as female on his birth certificate because that is what his physical appearance told her.

Bensimon, who is now 47, says he was “born with three strikes. Being African American. Being physically challenged. And being assigned female. My mother told me those are three things that you’re going to battle your whole life.”

His mother was right. But for all the racism and physical struggle he endured, it is the fight to be recognised for who he is that has been the most demanding.

“I had a very strict religious upbringing. My uncle was a Baptist minister. My mom and my dad and I went to a Pentecostal church. My mom would dress me up for Easter in those ugly little dresses and I would just be angry,” he said.

Then there was puberty.

“I had to go get the training bra. I was just not OK with it. I guess my mom thought I was just rebelling and that was a teenage thing. So I told her in so many words that I’m pretending to be something I’m not comfortable being. My mom was, ‘I’m not OK with this’,” he said.

Much has changed. Bensimon began to transition in his 30s. A diminutive man with a neatly trimmed beard proudly wearing a sash proclaiming him “Mr Black Trans Kansas 2019”, he now has a name reflecting his gender. He describes his mother as very supportive in recent years.

But to this day, his Kansas birth certificate says that he is female.

For Bensimon, having the state effectively deciding who and what he is was an intolerable position. When he goes for a job, he’s required to prove he is a US citizen. The birth certificate he has to give to HR outs him in what is all too often a hostile world.

“You’ve got the dead name [the name before transition] and then the gender. You might have been living for God knows how many years as the gender you were meant to be. But you turn in that birth certificate and they’re just like, ‘Who is this?’,” said Bensimon.

That is finally about to change in Kansas. Earlier this month, Governor Laura Kelly said it was time for the state “to move past its outdated and discriminatory anti-transgender policy”. After years of resistance to change by Republican governors, the Democrat elected to the state’s top office last year withdrew opposition to a lawsuit by Bensimon and others seeking the right to say what is on their birth certificates.

“People say I’m just trying to erase the past. No, I’m not. But I can’t play a role I’m not meant to play. I’m a bad actor,” said Bensimon. “It’s important. Maybe not for some people but it is for me.”

Omar Gonzalez-Pagan, a lawyer at Lambda Legal who has fought an array of cases on behalf of LGBT people, said Kelly’s decision leaves only Ohio and Tennessee as the outliers in refusing to allow transgender people to amend the record of their birth (Gonzalez-Pagan has filed lawsuits against both remaining states).

Continue reading at:  https://www.theguardian.com/society/2019/jul/26/for-trans-people-the-birth-certificate-battle-is-a-fight-against-discrimination

Before Stonewall, decades of West Coast queer activism helped build a movement

From The San Francisco Chronicle:  https://datebook.sfchronicle.com/art-exhibits/before-stonewall-decades-of-queer-west-coast-activism-helped-build-a-movement

Ryan Kost
June 25, 2019

This is how we tell the story: On a warm summer night, 50 years ago, almost to the day, a Greenwich Village bar rowdy with hustlers and queens and queer people of all sorts got rowdier still when police came to raid the place. A crowd gathered outside. There were 100 people, and then 200, and then 500 or 600, each new person adding to the tension. A woman in handcuffs shouted at them all. Why don’t you guys do something? And so they did. Bricks went flying, or maybe it was shot glasses, and riots raged at the Stonewall Inn for two nights.

This, we say, is how the modern gay-rights movement began. And now this year, we celebrate the riot’s 50th anniversary as we celebrate Pride.

But that’s not really how history works, all nice and neat with clear-cut beginnings and endings. Stonewall was not the first riot like it, and neither were the organizations that grew from it the first of their kind. Stonewall was more like “the crest of the wave, rather than the beginning of a wave,” as historian Susan Stryker put it. The movement had been gathering itself up for decades before that.

A couple of weeks ago, queer historians made their way to San Francisco for a queer history conference. Historian Marc Stein spoke at the event. He’s written much about Stonewall, and for this occasion, he hoped to tie that event to California, in part, by contextualizing what came before it. The Berkeley Barb, an underground newspaper, wrote about Stonewall not long after it happened, he said. They congratulated New York City on “joining the revolution.”

“You know every year at Pride, we hear the narrative that everything began with Stonewall,” Stein said later over the phone. So it’s been an annual ritual for historians, at least as far back as the ’70s, he said, to push back on that. To talk about a movement that began in the ’50s, and one that could also trace its roots to Europe decades before that.

“Social movements are complicated, right?” he said. “And understanding the longer history of LGBT resistance and activism, I think helps us appreciate that the struggle is a long one, and it’s one that takes many shapes and forms over a long period of time.”

Before Stonewall, there were protests at the Black Cat Tavern on Sunset Boulevard (’67); and before them a riot at Compton’s Cafeteria, an all-night diner in San Francisco’s Tenderloin (’66), and before that a protest outside a restaurant called Dewey’s in Philadelphia (’65); and before that a riot at Cooper Do-nuts in downtown Los Angeles (’59).

Each of these is a piece of a “bigger more complicated story. We can’t sew things up neatly,” says Stryker, the historian who is credited with rediscovering the Compton’s Cafeteria Riot. “I’m also weary of ‘Stonewall wasn’t the first, it was actually Compton’s. Oh no, it wasn’t Compton’s it was Dewey’s. Oh no it was Cooper Do-Nut, oh it wasn’t Cooper Do-Nut, it was this thing we never heard of.’

“So firsts are not significant for me. For me what we’re seeing in the post-World War II years is this really different way relating identity to bodies politic to rights and citizenship, there’s new ways of thinking about the kind of person you can be.”

Much of that thinking began in San Francisco.

Continue reading at:  https://datebook.sfchronicle.com/art-exhibits/before-stonewall-decades-of-queer-west-coast-activism-helped-build-a-movement

Bill Maher: BDS is a bullshit

Trans Mossad Spy Identifies Neo-Nazi ‘Konrad’ From Tablet Article

From The Tablet:  https://www.tabletmag.com/jewish-arts-and-culture/287109/mossad-spy-identifies-neo-nazi-konrad

Agents disguised as German skinheads intercepted and disarmed bombs intended to harm Munich Jews in 1986

By Andrew Rosthorn
June 28, 2019

Tablet’s birthday picture of the German neo-Nazi Karl-Heinz Hoffmann has led to his identification by a former Mossad double agent as the man who strapped two radio-controlled bombs on her body in a 1985 attack on the homes of Jews living in Munich.

Olivia Frank, now 63, had just published her life story in England on May 24 when she saw Tablet’s picture of the German extremist she had known only as “Konrad.”

Her book describes how the British-born Israeli diplomat and spymaster David Kimche, leading a team of Mossad agents disguised as German skinheads, intercepted the man she now recognizes as Hoffmann and disarmed the bombs at night in a Munich street in 1985.

Karl-Heinz Hoffmann was jailed later that year for running a criminal organization from his castle in Bavaria. He was never charged with bombing offenses.

In May 2019, Hoffmann posted a YouTube video of a retirement interview. In what he called his “final public appearance” he is seen talking to the German author and journalist Andreas Förster in Hoffmann’s medieval manor house, Schloss Ermreuth near Nuremberg. The video of Förster questioning Hoffmann over coffee in a baronial dining room was referenced in a Tablet article by Sam Izzo, which was seen in England by the former Mossad “combatant” who had spied on him 33 years ago.

Widowed, and now living alone in England, Frank had just published the story of her life as a transgender spy, titled The Mossad Spy, when she saw the Tablet article and then watched the Hoffmann interview, dated by Hoffmann as May 2019, on her home computer.

“My blood ran cold. The Hoffmann in the video is the man I knew as Konrad, a man who might have killed me with the flick of a switch,” she said.

She added: “The grubby flat where Hoffmann took me to fit the bomb and the residential block where I was told to plant it were both very ordinary places. Everything happened at night and I was unfamiliar with the areas. Hoffmann drove me to them in his BMW. He always drove very fast. I was blindfolded on the last occasion.

“I think he leased the apartment and always showed up at night, always keen to hide his prominent beard and always in a great hurry. He always wore the same suit and tie and a scarf to hide his beard.

“He always parked his car well away from where I lived in Schellingstrasse, in the Maxvorstadt university area of Munich.”


Olivia Frank’s 491-page paperback, The Mossad Spy, tells the story of how she was born to a Jewish family in Manchester, England, and raised as a boy but left the city as a teenager on a woman’s passport to join the Israeli Defense Forces as a soldier. After being wounded as an IDF officer, she was selected by David Kimche for training at the Mossad’s academy near Herzliya.

Continue reading at:  https://www.tabletmag.com/jewish-arts-and-culture/287109/mossad-spy-identifies-neo-nazi-konrad

Posted in Uncategorized. Comments Off on Trans Mossad Spy Identifies Neo-Nazi ‘Konrad’ From Tablet Article

Athleisure, barre and kale: the tyranny of the ideal woman

From The Guardian UK:  https://www.theguardian.com/news/2019/aug/02/athleisure-barre-kale-tyranny-ideal-woman-labour

How we became suckers for the hard labor of self-optimization.

Fri 2 Aug 2019

The ideal woman has always been generic. I bet you can picture the version of her that runs the show today. She’s of indeterminate age but resolutely youthful presentation. She’s got glossy hair and the clean, shameless expression of a person who believes she was made to be looked at. She is often luxuriating when you see her – on remote beaches, under stars in the desert, across a carefully styled table, surrounded by beautiful possessions or photogenic friends. Showcasing herself at leisure is either the bulk of her work or an essential part of it; in this, she is not so unusual – for many people today, especially for women, packaging and broadcasting your image is a readily monetizable skill. She has a personal brand, and probably a boyfriend or husband: he is the physical realization of her constant, unseen audience, reaffirming her status as an interesting subject, a worthy object, a self-generating spectacle with a viewership attached.

Can you see this woman yet? She looks like an Instagram – which is to say, an ordinary woman reproducing the lessons of the marketplace, which is how an ordinary woman evolves into an ideal. The process requires maximal obedience on the part of the woman in question, and – ideally – her genuine enthusiasm, too. This woman is sincerely interested in whatever the market demands of her (good looks, the impression of indefinitely extended youth, advanced skills in self-presentation and self-surveillance). She is equally interested in whatever the market offers her – in the tools that will allow her to look more appealing, to be even more endlessly presentable, to wring as much value out of her particular position as she can.

The ideal woman, in other words, is always optimizing. She takes advantage of technology, both in the way she broadcasts her image and in the meticulous improvement of that image itself. Her hair looks expensive. She spends lots of money taking care of her skin, a process that has taken on the holy aspect of a spiritual ritual and the mundane regularity of setting a morning alarm.

The work formerly carried out by makeup has been embedded directly into her face: her cheekbones or lips have been plumped up, or some lines have been filled in, and her eyelashes are lengthened every four weeks by a professional wielding individual lashes and glue. The same is true of her body, which no longer requires the traditional enhancements of clothing or strategic underwear; it has been pre-shaped by exercise that ensures there is little to conceal or rearrange.

Everything about this woman has been pre-emptively controlled to the point that she can afford the impression of spontaneity and, more important, the sensation of it – having worked to rid her life of artificial obstacles, she often feels legitimately carefree. The ideal woman can be whatever she wants to be – as long as she manages to act upon the belief that perfecting herself and streamlining her relationship to the world can be a matter of both work and pleasure, or, in other words, of “lifestyle”. The ideal woman steps into a stratum of expensive juices, boutique exercise classes, skincare routines and vacations, and there she happily remains.

Most women believe themselves to be independent thinkers. Even glossy women’s magazines now model skepticism toward top-down narratives about how we should look, who and when we should marry, how we should live. But the psychological parasite of the ideal woman has evolved to survive in an ecosystem that pretends to resist her. If women start to resist an aesthetic, like the overapplication of Photoshop, the aesthetic just changes to suit us; the power of the ideal image never actually wanes. It is now easy enough to engage women’s skepticism toward ads and magazine covers, images produced by professionals. It is harder for us to suspect images produced by our peers, and nearly impossible to get us to suspect the images we produce of ourselves, for our own pleasure and benefit – even though, in a time when heavy social media use has become broadly framed as a career asset, many of us are effectively professionals now, too.

Continue reading at:  https://www.theguardian.com/news/2019/aug/02/athleisure-barre-kale-tyranny-ideal-woman-labour

Posted in Uncategorized. Comments Off on Athleisure, barre and kale: the tyranny of the ideal woman

Robert Reich: The Myth of the Rugged Individual

Posted in Uncategorized. Comments Off on Robert Reich: The Myth of the Rugged Individual