Articles

Israel/Palestine

Spaces and Places: Israel’s Homeland Narrative

The conception of Yahweh as placeless reflects the Jewish sense of identity as essentially homeless. But the homelessness of the Jewish deity is in no way a defect — the Jewish concept of the divine represents a radical intellectual advance.

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Environment

A Real Solution to Environmental Sustainability

As long as corporations have a fiduciary responsibility to maximize the investments of their stockholders, they have no choice but to make profits their “bottom line.” But we are promoting a New Bottom Line, so that every corporation, government policy, our legal system, health care system, educational system, and every other major system is judged efficient, rational and productive to the extent that they maximize love and caring, environmental sustainability and responsibility, ethical behavior and generosity, and our capacities to respond to the Earth with radical amazement, of which we are an important part.
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Health

The Other Art

We, the young, pretty ones, could easily find or fake the generosity to jolly those luckless oldsters along. We could cheerfully shake their hands (only a little appalled by their soft grips, papery skin, delicate bones, faintly mildewed smell). We could chat with them, ask how they were getting on., and we found ways to look interested in their answers. We listened, even if the answers bored us. Silently, however, we relegated the oldsters’ thinking and experience to the Irrelevant pile.
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Books

Patty Hearst and the Twinkie Murders

In 1975, I covered the trial of heiress Patty Hearst for the Berkeley Barb. She had been kidnapped by the Symbionese Liberation Army (SLA) and was forced at gunpoint by her abductors to participate in their robbing a bank.
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Spirituality

A God That Could Be Real

Unconscious evolution of God-ideas is inevitable, but conscious evolution of God-ideas has been harshly discouraged. This must change, or else we’ll never be able to bring our best knowledge into the process of rethinking God for our time.
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Poetry & Fiction

Small Father

Crispy on the crust, moist, nutty, with dhana giro baked in, Mom’s stuffing is like a cross between her juicy lamb kababs and perfectly golden cornbread. At eight years old, I was there beside her at Publix the night she first asked a woman in the poultry department for help. That woman and another then explained, patiently, respectfully, how to clean and stuff a turkey, how to prepare the gravy.
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Israel/Palestine

Benjamin Netanyahu’s Fantasy World

Netanyahu’s speech to Congress was brilliantly deceitful because it played to the fantasies that Israeli propaganda and right wing militarists in the US have been popularizing for the past thirty years. The biggest fantasy: that we can coerce others through power over them to do what we consider in the best interests of the U.S. or Israel.
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Environment

Esther Was Vegan Too: On Purim, Let’s Renew Our Struggle to End Factory Farming

From saving water, to helping animals, to decreasing our carbon footprint, the single most effective change we can make is to eat a more plant-based diet. Just as Esther took action to save the Jews, so we can take action to save animals and our planet from extermination.

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Activism

Boiling Point: Why Do We Let Big Oil Send Workers to Their Deaths?

In exposing unsafe working conditions to the public, the refinery workers are raising not just contract demands, but a deeper challenge about the immorality of a profit-driven production system that simply monetizes the loss of human life on corporate spreadsheets.
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Books

The Disfigured Self: What Hannah Arendt Got Right

The great question that lurks at the heart of all Holocaust study, it seems to me, is the question of the self: What would I have done if I had been there? Arendt is unique in making that question present for us, and while Strangneth professes to be in dialogue with Arendt’s book, she does not wrestle with its argument in more than a superficial way.
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Israel/Palestine

Bringing the Values of Open Hillel Into Postgraduate Life: An Open Letter

Where will all the Open Hillelnikim go once they’ve left campus? What will become of this movement? How will you engage the Jewish community beyond campus? In short, how will you engage with the Israeli-Palestinian conflict as an American Jew?
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Israel/Palestine

The View from Palestine: American Jewish Journeys into the West Bank

Extend programs are based on a simple belief that without understanding Palestinian perspectives, we are condemned to see the conflict as a matter of unequivocal good against unequivocal evil, instead of as a tragic cycle from which the overwhelmingly majority of Israelis and Palestinians want to break.
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Israel/Palestine

Before Mondoweiss: Jewish Anti-Nationalism in the Wake of the Holocaust

Once upon a time, Hillel chapters across the country distributed an adamantly anti-Zionist newsletter that could well be described as the Mondoweiss of its day. Yet during the years in which the newsletter ran, Israel was gradually finding its place center-stage for Jews worldwide—a nightmare come true for the anti-Zionist camp.
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Israel/Palestine

Without Justice, Tolerance Perpetuates the Status Quo

Within Open Hillel, we often talk about the value of embracing the discomfort we experience when hearing opinions that we disagree with. After all, ideas that make us uncomfortable may challenge our intellectual or emotional security, but rarely challenge our actual physical safety.
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Israel/Palestine

Assimilation Indeed: Hillel’s Co-optation of Progressive Jewish Students, 1967-2015

For many Jewish students, the Six-Day War constituted the first time they experienced a connection to a Jewish cause recognized by the establishment. Unfortunately, the Hillel International of today has prioritized parroting the hasbara of expansionist Israeli governments over capacious intellectual debate.
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