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Archives for category: hpcat

Jo-Ann writes in Haaretz,

It’s harder now to love Israel. But this would be a foolish time to walk away, just when the values that drew me, and others like me, to Israel, are most at risk.

Read the full article here.

Elissa writes in the Forward,

The idea that abortion is always traumatic is a problematic one, as is the notion that it is no big deal. While I can’t speak from personal experience, I imagine that, for most women, their feelings about terminating a pregnancy falls somewhere in between.

The beauty of these new abortion rituals is they give women a nuanced, more contemplative narrative on how to think about their abortions — one that is lacking in secular culture. These rituals aren’t about politics, or even morality, nor are there simple notions of innocence or guilt, right or wrong. (In general, Jewish tradition doesn’t trade in such binaries.) Instead, these seem to be about helping women, one by one, move through a likely emotional time.

Read the full article here.

Jo-Ann writes in Dissent,

Israel used to be a nation of political parties marked by hard-and-fast ideologies—but not so much today. Even the right’s toxic combination of religious zealotry and hard-edged cynicism has more to do with a mindset than with a clear set of beliefs.

The life of a party these days barely lasts past an election cycle or past the successor to a charismatic leader. Parties that appear to be the next big thing (like the centrist Kadima a short time ago) disappear before the next cycle. It is a profound shift: although the new parties are ostensibly created around an idea, in fact they are dependent for their voter base upon often a sole personality.

. . .

Unleashed by a party that has moved away from him, the prime minister has no playbook to follow. He can do whatever he chooses. And if past practice is any marker, Bibi Netanyahu makes decisions day-to-day, not long term and, so far, not for the history books. But with his changed situation, his search for a legacy, and the indefatigable efforts of U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry, he may just take the leap. It is plausible that he has internalized the urgency of the moment—if a two-state solution is not negotiated soon, it is difficult to imagine how it will ever materialize since the settlements keep expanding, largely under Bibi’s watch. More Palestinians will lobby for one state if they can’t achieve their own state separate from Israel.

Read the full post here.

Jo-Ann writes for Reuters,

The fireworks before the Alicia Keys concert in Tel Aviv on July 4 have been from activists demanding that the singer cancel her performance in Israel. But she was not swayed by these false comparisons between Israel and South Africa under apartheid.

. . .

These activists who campaign under the banner of Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) assert that Israel is an apartheid state similar to the former South African regime, where racial discrimination and separation was legislated in every aspect of public life. This is unequivocally untrue about Israel.

Anyone who visits Israel — which the BDS activists refuse to do — can see a complex situation. Arab citizens of Israel do still face discrimination in their lives — in areas of employment, allocation of educational resources, housing, land distribution and planning rights.

But this discrimination is vigilantly challenged by many lawyers in Israel, Jewish and Arab. The Supreme Court and the attorney general have ruled against the right-wing politicians who seek to press discriminatory policies.

Such xenophobic attitudes, marked by racism, must be confronted. These efforts should be supported by everyone who wants a better future for all peoples in the region — particularly those who believe in democratic rights.

Read the full op-ed here.

Jo-Ann writes for the Forward,

It was Barbra Streisand’s 100th performance in 50 years and the first time she performed in Israel—and most likely her last—when she took to the stage inside Tel Aviv’s Bloomfield stadium last Saturday night. The 71- year-old doesn’t like performing, she revealed, while explaining the presence of a giant teleprompter which broadcasted both lyrics and stage cues for all to see. “I performed in Central Park in 1967 and forgot the words to three songs, so I didn’t sing again for 30 years until I realized that a teleprompter would work, but hopefully you will look at me,” she explained with grace and humor to 14,000 very-accepting fans. I don’t think any of us had any trouble looking at her.

. . .

I saw Streisand perform in Brooklyn this past fall in Barclay Stadium, and when I met her after the Tel Aviv concert she asked me to compare the two concerts. Perhaps it was the open air, the simpler production or my better seating, but her Tel Aviv concert seemed much more intimate.

Read the full post here.

Jo-Ann writes for Dissent,

Palestinians still don’t have a state, but as of this week they do have a new prime minister: Dr. Rami Hamdallah, appointed by Abbas on June 2 and sworn in today. Politically, Hamdallah is known as a moderate, but that is almost beside the point. He is a caretaker prime minister who will face the same problems Fayyad did, but with an extra handicap: Fayyad, once a high official of the World Bank, had international recognition and some political seasoning (he had run in a party independent of Fatah for the Palestinian legislature), while Hamdallah is a lifelong academic.

. . .

Even as the hardliners inside Israel’s current government continue to proclaim that there is no partner for peace, the fact is that this is the second time that the Palestinian Authority has had a government whose leadership is explicitly against terrorism and overtly tempered by academia and democratic yearnings—unprecedented in the Arab world today. This is no small feat—and one that could yield major rewards for the entire region—but, sadly, it may continue to be a missed opportunity for resolution between the Israelis and the Palestinians.

Read the full post here.

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Elissa Strauss

Elissa Strauss was one of the founding strategists for ChangeCommunictions. She has assisted clients on national and international social change campaigns.  A writer who has contributed to publications like The New York Times, Slate, Elle, Glamour and CNN, where she is currently a contributing writer, she is known for capturing the mood and desires of a new generation. In addition to writing, she is the former co-director of LABA: A Laboratory for Jewish Culture in New York City. For seven years, she oversaw all editorial decisions for LABA, which has emerged as one of the most innovative and dynamic Jewish cultural programs in the New York City.  Formerly a resident of New York City, Elissa now resides with her family in the  Bay area, Northern California.