Mazel Tov, Trump. You’ve Revived the Jewish Left.

From The New York Times:  https://www.nytimes.com/2019/08/24/opinion/sunday/trump-jews.html

By Michelle Goldberg
Aug. 24, 2019

On Aug. 11, more than 1,000 people marked Tisha B’Av, the saddest day in the Jewish calendar, by occupying an Amazon Books store in Manhattan, protesting the technology behemoth’s technical support for U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement. Sitting on the floor, they read harrowing accounts of people in immigration detention and recited the Kaddish, the traditional Jewish prayer of mourning. One of their signs said, “Never again means never again.”

According to organizers, 44 people, including 12 rabbis and a member of New York’s City Council, were arrested. It was one of over 50 Jewish-organized demonstrations against ICE held across the country that day.

A few days later, a corrections officer drove a truck into a row of Jewish protesters who were blocking the entrance to a private prison in Rhode Island where migrants are being detained. Two of the protesters were hospitalized. That demonstration was one of at least 38 organized this summer by Never Again Action, a decentralized group formed two months ago to engage in nonviolent direct action against immigrant detention.

Donald Trump might have thought he was going to lure Jewish voters to the Republican Party with his lock-step alliance with the Israeli right. Instead, by attempting to use American Jews as mascots for an administration that fills most of them with horror, he has spurred a renaissance on the Jewish left.

New progressive Jewish groups are forming. Older ones, like New York’s Jews for Racial and Economic Justice, one of the forces behind the Amazon action, are growing; once-sleepy organizing meetings have become standing room only. Jewish Currents, a left-wing Jewish publication founded almost 75 years ago, was reborn last year with a new cadre of writers and editors who speak to the millennial socialist zeitgeist.

Obviously, American Jews have long leaned liberal, and have always been overrepresented in progressive movements. But there’s a difference between leftists who happen to be Jewish and explicitly Jewish left-wing activism. “People who may not have been that close to Jewishness, they feel suddenly like it’s very important to express who they are as Jews in the context of their activism and in the context of their collective memory,” said Arielle Angel, the editor of Jewish Currents.

Alyssa Rubin, a 25-year-old organizer with Never Again Action, told me that in college, she had little interest in Jewish communal life, much of which seemed to revolve around support for Israel. But in the months leading up to the 2016 election, as Trump spouted rhetoric that smacked of fascism and white nationalists grew giddy at their new relevance, “I had never thought about my Judaism more,” she said. For the first time, anti-Semitism seemed an immediate, urgent threat.

For Jews on the left, fear has been magnified by insult as Trump, the man who helped unleash a new wave of anti-Semitism, posed as the Jews’ savior because of his devotion to the Israeli right.

Continue reading at:  https://www.nytimes.com/2019/08/24/opinion/sunday/trump-jews.html

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Actor After Scene: Mom tells transgender woman not to use women’s bathroom | WWYD

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Donald Trump and the ‘Disloyal’ Jews

From The New York Times:  https://www.nytimes.com/2019/08/21/opinion/trump-jews.html

A president loyal only to himself uses my community as a political weapon.

By
Aug. 21, 2019

The major debate tearing apart the American Jewish community on this particular Wednesday is whether or not the 45th president of the United States just accused them — us — of disloyalty to Israel and the Jewish people or of disloyalty to the Republican Party and the man who has remade it in his image.

“Where has the Democratic Party gone? Where have they gone where they are defending these two people over the state of Israel?” President Trump said on Tuesday, referring to Ilhan Omar and Rashida Tlaib, Democratic congresswomen who support the boycott movement against Israel. “And I think any Jewish people that vote for a Democrat, I think it shows either a total lack of knowledge or great disloyalty.”

As my people say: Nu?

What do you hear in the president’s statement, which, like many things he blurts out, manages to be both opaque and outrageous at once? If you’re pro-Trump or Trump-curious, you’ll generously hear an assertion that Jews should be loyal to Israel. If you’re anything like me, you can’t help but hear echoes of the sinister charge of dual loyalty.

I’ve been around enough tables with pro-Trump Jews to strongly suspect that this is a riff on a theme Mr. Trump himself has overheard at many dinners with Ivanka and Jared, the favorite daughter and dauphin: dismay that even those Jews who have appreciated the president’s Israel policies — moving the Embassy to Jerusalem, recognizing Israeli sovereignty over the Golan Heights, cracking down on Iran — will never pull the lever for him.

It’s easy to imagine what they say: Look how much you’ve done. More than any other president. They should be grateful. Why can’t they see that? Why can’t they see that the Democratic Party has abandoned them? Meantime, you’re more pro-Israel than most American Jews! Indeed, on Wednesday afternoon at the White House, Mr. Trump clarified as much: “If you want to vote Democrat, you are being very disloyal to Jewish people and very disloyal to Israel.”

Brace yourself for further presidential Twitter rants on the matter because I do not believe that Mr. Trump is capable of higher-order thoughts about loyalty — loyalty to the office in which he sits, loyalty to the Republic, and, above all, loyalty to the idea of keeping America united. Fealty to him is the only litmus test.

Indeed, if we have learned anything about the former host of “The Apprentice,” it is that he looks at the world in the exact way he looked at those contestants. You’re a winner or you’re a loser. You’re for him or you’re a turncoat. In his small mind, if you’re on Team Jew, you vote for his party because Republicans are pro-Israel and, therefore, pro-Jew. If you’re on Team Anti-Semite, well, then you vote for the other guys.

All of which is why I have zero doubt that if the prime minister of Israel criticized Mr. Trump on the wrong day or in the wrong way, the president would dump Israel at that very moment. And it is why anyone with a shred of knowledge about Jewish history should be extremely concerned.

If 2,000 years of diasporic living has taught the Jews anything, it’s that an existence that is contingent upon the kindness of strangers is never too safe or too long lasting. A president with authoritarian tendencies who cares about nothing more than lock-step loyalty is not one American Jews, let alone anyone, can rely on.

Continue reading at:  https://www.nytimes.com/2019/08/21/opinion/trump-jews.html

See Also:

The Forward: Trump Doubles Down: Jewish Democrats Are ‘Very Disloyal To Israel’

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‘I refuse to regret waking up a day older’: Ashton Applewhite’s fight for age pride

From The Guardian UK:  https://www.theguardian.com/science/2019/jun/17/ageism-activist-ashton-applewhite-bias-older-people

The activist on her manifesto to empower older people, how to challenge age prejudice – and why she dyes her hair grey

Amelia Hill
Mon 17 Jun 2019

When Ashton Applewhite hit 55 years old, she dyed her hair. So what? That’s what women the world over do, you might think: dye grey hair to hide their age. But what Applewhite did was different: she dyed her hair grey. Not Kim Kardashian-platinum grey, but defiantly uncool, bog-standard grey.

“I went to a matinee, so it was all old people,” she says, grinning widely as she absentmindedly tousles her hair, the brown roots showing. “When it finished, everyone left via an escalator. I looked down and there was not a grey head to be spotted. I suddenly thought: ‘This is one way we collude, en masse, in making ourselves invisible as older women – and that’s a real problem, because when people are invisible, so are the issues that affect them’.”

When Applewhite, author of This Chair Rocks: A Manifesto Against Ageism, gave a TED talk titled Let’s End Ageism in 2017, it was an unexpected hit, with 1.5m views to date. In the video, the audience gives Applewhite repeated standing ovations as she talks about how it is not the passage of time that makes it so hard to get older, it’s ageism: a totally illogical prejudice that pits us against our future selves. “Ageing is not a problem to be fixed or a disease to be cured,” she exhorts from the TED stage, to shouts of support. “It is a natural, powerful, lifelong process that unites us all.”

But back to the matinee: “I stood at the top of that escalator,” Applewhite, now 66, says, “and I thought, wouldn’t it be amazing to have the year of letting our hair go grey, so the world can see how many of us there are and how beautiful we are and how diverse we are?”

Applewhite, who is based in New York, inherited her mother’s no-grey-hair gene. But she decided that if she was going to talk the talk, she needed to walk the walk: “The big, if shallow, surprise is how much I liked having grey hair, because I didn’t expect to,” she says. “But other people’s reactions varied. My manager at work said: ‘You don’t look older’; my friend Mer said: ‘You look older’; and her husband Josh said: ‘You look hot!’”

“But what was most interesting was a contributor to my blog, who said: ‘Fine for some, but my hair doesn’t look good grey.’ OK, no judgment, but I wonder how much of her opinion is coloured by what the grey signifies to her – because that’s what we need to work on, in ourselves and in the culture: decoupling ‘older’ from ‘undesirable’ and ‘old’ from ‘ugly’.”

This is the elevator pitch for Applewhite’s exuberant, thoughtful and surprisingly entertaining book. “My call to action skews towards the first and foundational step of confronting internalised ageism,” she says. “But that is only the first step. It is clear that upending discrimination on the basis of age will require fundamental changes in the way society is structured.”

Continue reading at:  https://www.theguardian.com/science/2019/jun/17/ageism-activist-ashton-applewhite-bias-older-people

 

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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.

 

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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

by
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

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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

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