Category Archives:
US Politics

Untangling the Salaita case

Marjorie Heins on
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Steven Salaita’s firing at the U of Illinois reminds us that the concept of academic freedom began in the early 20th century in response to politically motivated firings at the behest of conservative boards of trustees. The targeted were active outside their schools in labor organizing and socialism. In Salaita’s case, donors exercised pressure on the university after he vociferously supported Palestinian rights on twitter. Marjorie Heins at Mondo

Joan Rivers’s Palestinian finale

Philip Weiss on
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Joan Rivers is being remembered for crossing lines others respected. Sadly, her finale during the Gaza massacre of this summer were rants against Palestinians that political people are not likely to forget.

In an upstate NY field, Gaza resonates

Philip Weiss on
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Artist Sheilah Rechtschaffer covered a stunted tree with plastic shrinkwrap as a sculptural tribute to the Gaza massacre, at a NY art installation. Some visitors to the exhibit strongly disagreed, but like so many other Gaza conversations this summer, they kept their mouths shut

Brant Rosen’s prophetic voice elevated him beyond the rabbinic politics of our day

Marc H. Ellis on
Rabbi Brant Rosen

Marc Ellis writes: “Reading Rabbi Rosen’s letter of resignation and the Tribune article I can’t help but think of the Biblical saga. Out of the blue the prophets arise, are shot down, then reappear. It hasn’t changed much in thousands of years. The prophetic is too deeply ingrained in Jewish life to pass quietly into our newly embraced colonial night. Apparently, synagogues are not for prophets. Those who practice the prophetic and attend synagogue, should take note. Your expulsion is inevitable.”

Rabbi Brant Rosen steps down from Jewish Reconstructionist Synagogue saying his activism on Israel/Palestine has been ‘lightning rod for division’

Marc H. Ellis on
Rabbi Brant Rosen

The Jewish Reconstruction Synagogue in Evanston, Illinois is looking for a new rabbi. Rabbi Brant Rosen is moving on. In a letter to the congregation Rosen wrote: “it has become clear that my [Israel/Palestine] activism has become a lightning rod for division at JRC. This crisis has taken an increasingly emotional toll on our community – and it has taken a considerable toll on my own well being as well. Given the current environment in our congregation, I believe my decision to resign is the healthiest one for all concerned.”

Deconstructing J Street’s statement on the latest Israeli land grab

Marc H. Ellis on
J Street founder Jeremy Ben-Ami speaking at the group's conference in 2012. (Photo: J Street)

J Street had trouble finding its voice during Israel’s bombardment and invasion of Gaza. Now after some internal infighting and desertions, J Street is back, ostensibly seizing the moment with Israel’s confiscation of Palestinian land on the West Bank. Yes, back it is, but to where is the important question

Richard Cohen says he married Israel and has been faithful during ups and downs

Philip Weiss on
Richard Cohen

Longtime Washington Post columnist Richard Cohen has a book coming out in two weeks called Israel: Is It Good for the Jews? a question that Cohen answers in the affirmative. From his publisher, Simon and Schuster: A very personal journey through Jewish history (and Cohen’s own), and a passionate defense of Israel’s legitimacy.Richard Cohen’s book is

Elizabeth Warren says killing Palestinian civilians is ‘the last thing Israel wants’

Philip Weiss on
Sen. Elizabeth Warren

Ten days ago Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders yelled at constituents to “shut up” and threatened to call the police when they got angry at him over his stance in support of Israeli massacres. Well, at least Sanders abstained on the vote to give Israel another $225 million during the Gaza onslaught. Massachusetts Senator Elizabeth Warren supported that funding, and when she also got it from constituents last week she just mouthed Israel’s talking points in response.

Chancellor Wise, why not accept the scholarly inquiry of your colleagues over the politicized judgment of Salaita’s critics?

Natalie Zemon Davis on
Chancellor Phyllis M. Wise (Photo: L. Brian Stauffer)

26 August 2014 Chancellor Phyllis M. Wise University of Illinois Dear Chancellor Wise, As a long-time participant in the university world, I implore you to reverse your decision in regard to Professor Steven Salaita and now to recommend the approval of his appointment to the faculty of the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. I write

Leading Jewish organization celebrates Israeli settlement products

Philip Weiss on
B'nai B'rith

Adam sent me this photo today from a doctor’s waiting room. The article is all about wine from the Judean Hills around Jerusalem. At least one of the vineyards is in the West Bank, in the illegal settlement of Psagot (and others vaguely alluded to are in the Golan); but the article doesn’t refer to

Gaza goyim jailbreak

Philip Weiss on
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Last weekend I joined my wife’s extended family on a mountain lake; and every time Gaza came up, my ears pricked up. For instance, someone grabbed The New York Times business section with Bloomberg’s picture on the front and said “What’s Bloomberg up to?” and someone else said snarkily, “Going to Israel.” The article was