Jewish Voice for Peace Minnesota on Israel

 Five local members of Jewish Voice for Peace, a national campaign for Palestinian justice in Israel, are featured on the new edition of Democratic Visions, the political issues program I produce out of the southwest suburbs. The JVP members were panelists at a December 13th forum at the Southdale Library in Edina.  Video clips of the forum combined with additional perspective shared later by lead panelist Andy Berman arc into highly personal stories about being Jewish and coming to reject Israel’s political, economic and military actions towards Gaza, the West Bank and Palestinians. Berman began the forum with this statement:  “I suspect that a common theme we’ll be hearing today is that our solidarity with the Palestinian people and all our work for peace and justice, is deeply rooted in our Jewish identity.” Panelist Marc Trius was born in Russia but grew up and was educated in Haifa, Israel.  He speaks poignantly of situations that turned him into a critic of the Israel government and its defense force with personal anecdotes; one of them is about a picnic held in a park where once stood Palestinian homes.  Marisa Katz grew up in Georgia “with a proud Zionist family history and background.”  Katz attended Jewish summer camps and as a high school student took a study trip to Israel.  She says that she found Israel fascinating but came to feel that the visit was less about education and more about recruiting future citizens.  And then, during college in Ohio, Katz recounts that she began to read and discuss other perspectives. Ilana Rossoff grew up in New Jersey.  Her father is a Reformed Rabbi.  She says that she began asking why reported wartime body counts for Israel were significantly lower than those for its enemies in each conflict.  Andy Berman and Allan Malkis have long lived in Minnesota but grew up in New York City.  Each tells how he has measured the devotion of their respective families to the Jewish traditions of working for social justice and peace against the record of Israel in the mid east. House Speaker John Boehner’s invitation to Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to address Congress was made after the Jewish Voice for Peace MN forum in Edina.   As Washington’s pro/con posturing sparked by the March 3 Netanyahu-Boehner tag team show becomes amplified by mainstream media, Democratic Visions is providing these 5 small but resonant voices a broader reach.  Click here to link to the 23-minute long Democratic Visions presentation which is an edited representation of the 90 minute forum.  The complete, on-line video presentation is available here on Vimeo at Bill Sorem Videos.  VIEWING DEMOCRATIC VISIONSDemocratic Visions can be seen on several Twin Cities cable systems and on the Democratic Visions  YouTube channel.Eden Prairie, Richfield, Minnetonka, Edina and Hopkins Comcast Channel 15 – Sundays 9 p.m., Mondays 10 p.m., Wednesdays 5:30 p.m., Saturdays 2 p.m.Bloomington – BCAT Channel 16 — Tuesdays at 2:00 p.m. & 10:00 p.m.; Fridays at 9:30 p.m.; Saturdays at 7:30 a.m. & 2:30 p.m.Minneapolis – MTN Channel 16 — Sundays at 8:30 p.m., Mondays 3:30 a.m., 9:30 a.m., 2:30 p.m.  Program is streamed at the MTN website during cablecasts.Champlin, Anoka,Ramsey, Andover – QCTV Channel 15 — Fridays 8 a.m.,Saturdays 6:00 a.m., 10,30 a.m.,10:30 p.m. Segments and full half hours of Democratic Visions are archived on YouTube – Visions is independently produced by Eden Prairie, Minnetonka and Edina volunteers at the Bloomington Community Access TV.  The community cable access program is not funded, endorsed or supported by any political party or political action committee. Continue Reading

OUR STORIES | Meet Shahar: Iraqi Polish Israeli Jewish American Immigrant Social Activist Singer Songwriter Lover Human Being

Meet Shahar Eberzon: part musician with an album in the making, part social activist, and part backbone of the growing artist community that is Face Forward  With all these projects, and with legendary Minneapolis stages requesting her presence, she is one to keep an eye on.However, I don’t care about any of that today. Today I have a different agenda.   L: I know you’ve had some immigration issues this year, and this kind of gets more to the root of what we are talking about. When did you come to the United States first?S: I came to the U.S. August 2008, five years ago, but I’ve been away from Israel since I was 17 because I was in Italy for two years.L: What was the strangest thing about coming here?S: Um. The passive aggressiveness. Continue Reading

FREE SPEECH ZONE | SodaStream is outside the mainstream

SodaStream, a new product that turns tap water into seltzer water, has been showing up on the shelves of Twin Cities’ department stores.  The circumstances under which SodaStream products are made is anything but refreshing.SodaStream is an Israeli company with its main factory in the industrial park of Ma’aleh Adumim, the largest Israeli Jewish settlement in the West Bank. Free Speech ZoneThe Free Speech Zone offers a space for contributions from readers, without editing by the TC Daily Planet. This is an open forum for articles that otherwise might not find a place for publication, including news articles, opinion columns, announcements and even a few press releases. The opinions expressed in the Free Speech Zone and Neighborhood Notes, as well as the opinions of bloggers, are their own and not necessarily the opinion of the TC Daily Planet.According to research by the Israeli group Coalition of Women for Peace, being in the settlements provides SodaStream structural advantages – low rent, a labor force that is easily exploited, special tax incentives, and lax enforcement of regulations.For over 40 years, Israel has occupied the West Bank, Gaza Strip, and East Jerusalem. The Occupation means that the Israeli military has total authority over every aspect of Palestinian life in these areas. Numerous human rights organizations, including Amnesty International, have condemned the Occupation for violating international humanitarian law and Palestinians’ human rights through the construction of hundreds of settlements in the West Bank.  The Israeli government offered substantial benefits to encourage hundreds of thousands of Israeli Jews to relocate to these settlements.  Similarly, SodaStream built its factory in the settlement in order to receive financial incentives from the Israeli government, and like all businesses in the settlements’ industrial parks, SodaStream qualifies for ongoing tax deductions.As with the Maquiladoras along the U.S.-Mexican border, the high unemployment rate means that many Palestinians are forced to try to earn a living through jobs in the settlements, despite the low pay and harsh working conditions.Palestinian workers in the settlements do not enjoy the full protection of Israeli labor laws.   They must get special permits and security clearance just to be able to enter these factories.   Involvement in a labor dispute constitutes a security risk and can result in the loss of not only a worker’s current job but their ability to work in settlements in the future.   Thus, many Palestinian workers do not demand their legal employment rights due to fear of losing their work permit. At the SodaStream factory, when workers protested that they were being paid less than half of the minimum wage and were forced to work 12 hour days, they were fired. Continue Reading

FREE SPEECH ZONE | The Jon Stewart Generation: Our newsy Jew

We don’t read newspapers, we don’t watch the 9 o-clock news and the radio isn’t our fount of current events. So where does our generation get its news?Comedy Central’s Jon Stewart.So what happened to make Comedy Central the source of daily news and world events for the twenty-something generation?I mean for a show that flaunts its “fake news” angle, it has won 2 Peabody awards and in 2005 Stewart was named one of the most influential people of the year.A Jewish Comedian from New Jersey, the most influential person of the year? How did this happen? Free Speech ZoneThe Free Speech Zone offers a space for contributions from readers, without editing by the TC Daily Planet. This is an open forum for articles that otherwise might not find a place for publication, including news articles, opinion columns, announcements and even a few press releases. I’ll tell you how this happened, the mainstream news media has failed in holding the interests of the current generation.News media is now held in the clutches of private ownership and interest. Continue Reading