Does Feminism Have Room for Zionists?

From The New York Times:  https://www.nytimes.com/2017/03/07/opinion/does-feminism-have-room-for-zionists.html

On March 8 women around the world will be abstaining from work and rallying in the streets as part of the International Women’s Strike, with the aim of starting an “international feminist movement” that challenges the sexual, physical and economic exploitation of women. The organizers of the wildly successful Women’s March have thrown their support behind the strike, and there are more than 40 rallies, walkouts and events planned across the United States that are affiliated with the international demonstration.

As a proud and outspoken feminist who champions reproductive rights, equal pay, increased female representation in all levels of government and policies to combat violence against women, I would like to feel there is a place for me in the strike.

However, as someone who is also a Zionist, I am not certain there is.

Although I hope for a two-state solution and am critical of certain Israeli government policies, I identify as a Zionist because I support Israel’s right to exist as a Jewish state. Increasingly, I worry that my support for Israel will bar me from the feminist movement that, in aiming to be inclusive, has come to insist that feminism is connected to a wide variety of political causes.

This insistence can alienate feminists, like myself, who don’t support all the causes others believe should be part of feminism. For example, some who identify as feminists may not agree with the organizers of the International Women’s Strike when they call for a $15 minimum wage. Nor do all feminists necessarily join the strike organizers in supporting the Dakota Access Pipeline protesters.

For my part, I am troubled by the portion of the International Women’s Strike platform that calls for a “decolonization of Palestine” as part of “the beating heart of this new feminist movement.” The platform also states: “We want to dismantle all walls, from prison walls to border walls, from Mexico to Palestine.”

Implying that mass incarceration is analogous to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and that the Israeli-Palestinian conflict is analogous to Donald Trump’s desire to build a wall along the Mexican border is simplistic at best.

Continue reading at: https://www.nytimes.com/2017/03/07/opinion/does-feminism-have-room-for-zionists.html

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America’s Massive Retail Workforce Is Tired of Being Ignored

From Racked: https://www.racked.com/2017/6/20/15817988/retail-workers-unions-american-jobs

Long absent from discussions about employment, workers from Walmart to Bloomingdale’s are taking matters into their own hands.

Sarah Jaffe
Jun 20, 2017

Francisco Aguilera has worked at the Express on Bay Street in Emeryville, California for the past year and a half. “I do a little bit of everything,” from running the register to folding and arranging clothes to working in the stockroom in the back of the store, he says. Soft-spoken with an open smile, Aguilera is what many people picture to be the typical retail worker: someone putting in a few hours in the evenings at a shopping complex while attending college during the day. He likes his job well enough, though he notes it can be tiring to work until 9:30 or 10:00 at night and then find time to do his schoolwork.

The customers, too, can be exhausting, Aguilera says. Bay Street is one of the shiniest shopping developments in Emeryville, a town of about two square miles on the east side of the San Francisco Bay. If you visit it today, you might think it was carved out of Oakland and Berkeley solely to create a retail destination, packed with multiple outdoor shopping centers, big-box stores like Target and Ikea, and thousands of low-wage retail workers who commute half an hour or more in search of work.

The nature of a retail job is shaped, for many workers, by three things: the customers, the manager, and the likelihood of moving on to something else. Aguilera notes that his job has been relatively pleasant because he likes his manager, who has been willing to work with his schedule. Managers, he says, “have so much control over basically your whole experience.

Marlena Hudson can testify to that. Over the last two years balancing two jobs at two different Bay Street stores, she’s experienced the way managers can be manipulative, making decisions based on favoritism and their own convenience at the expense of their employees. During this time, she has also seen Emeryville vote on the nation’s highest minimum wage, currently
$15.20 an hour for businesses with 56 or more employees. That wage is nice, she notes, but it still doesn’t afford her enough money to move out of her grandmother’s house. “You have to be working full-time or 40 hours a week, at least,” she says, to pay Bay Area rents, and despite working two jobs, she has a hard time getting enough hours to make ends meet. Even in Emeryville, one of the best places in the country to be a retail worker, making the work into a career is a struggle.

Hudson and Aguilera are part of America’s massive retail workforce. Nationwide, retail jobs account for 10 percent of all employment. That includes jobs at clothing and accessories retailers like the ones at Bay Street, department stores like Macy’s and Bloomingdale’s, grocery stores, electronics stores, home and garden stores, and of course, Walmart and other big-box stores. Despite its major role in the economy, retail — which makes up half of all consumer spending — tends to be a low-wage, high-turnover sector. Its workers are disproportionately women and disproportionately people of color. They face a laundry list of problems, from rampant wage theft to race and gender discrimination.

Retail workers get little attention in major discussions about employment in America. In part, this is because the jobs are widely seen as low-skill, temporary ones done by young people like Aguilera, on their way to something more prestigious. Why make the jobs better if they’re just done by kids, or women who are looking for pocket money, or the unskilled?

Continue reading at:  https://www.racked.com/2017/6/20/15817988/retail-workers-unions-american-jobs

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