Articles

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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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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Israel/Palestine

A Wholehearted Jewish Future

My generation has left the peace movement in Israel hanging. Now we are relying on the next generation to articulate what we have been thinking but haven’t said. What we do say, we whisper. Then we congratulate ourselves for getting that far. Why are we frightened? Why are we silent?
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Israel/Palestine

Letter to a Jewish Girl

I write this letter for the Jewish girl who was afraid to put her name to this letter for fear of being deemed too controversial to be hired within the American Jewish community. I write this letter for the Jewish girl who debates the news schizophrenically with herself inside her head. I write this letter for the Jewish girl who was told that her politics went wrong when she let a few experiences with “good Arabs” distract her from the bigger picture.
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Israel/Palestine

What it Really Means to be Jew-ish

I am both Arab and Jewish, and I enjoy resisting those binaries through the performance of my own unique identity. But identifying with both my Arab and Jewish heritage garners mixed results. So long as Hillel is in the business of defining people’s Jewishness for them, they will continue to marginalize Jewish voices.
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Israel/Palestine

Dispatches from the Open Hillel Movement: An Introduction

This collection of pieces was born out of a gathering of ideas and debate modeled by the Open Hillel conference — a needed intervention in the contemporary echo chamber of Jewish American discourse about Israel.
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