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September 3, 2014 / 8 Elul, 5774
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Posts Tagged ‘immigrants’

Garin Tzabar: Helping Lone Soldiers Feel At Home In Israel

Tuesday, August 20th, 2013

These lone soldiers, hailing from countries including the United States, Canada, Great Britain, Turkey and Azerbaijan arrived in Israel without their families to join the Israel Defense Force and help build the Jewish nation.  ’Garin’ means seed in Hebrew but can also refer to a group of people who collectively immigrated to Israel and ‘tzabar’ refers to the ‘sabra’ cactus fruit which is prickly on the outside but soft and sweet on the inside, a euphemism to describe Israelis.

The Garin Tzabar program is in charge of bringing these lone soldiers to a kibbutz or Israeli city, providing them with an adopted family, a Garin community that supports them throughout their army service and Hebrew classes to assist their immersion into the IDF.  Several months from now the new recruits will begin to serve in the Israeli Army.  The Garin Tzabar  ensures lone soldiers receive support and attention on their birthdays, during holidays, Shabbat, and their days off .

The State of Israel officially welcomed this year’s Garin Tzabar participants during a special ceremony held at Tel Aviv University. Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu  gave a video greeting praising these young Jewish men and women and  numerous other government officials attended the event.

MK Sofa Landver, who addressed the group, stated, “We are here to receive the immigrants and the soldiers in our country, the most wonderful country in the world. It’s you who have come to serve and defend Israel. You will change the world.” A representative of Nefesh B’Nefesh added, “It’s not just a plane ride, it’s the destination and that’s Israel. Enjoy your new life.”

Netta Gelb, a new Garin Tzabar participant, was born in the Israeli city of Netanya and has spent the past 15 years growing up in Canada. Although she has Israeli relatives,  she is leaving behind her parents and siblings.  Gelb expressed the excitement many Garin members felt when she said, “I have been really looking forward to this for a long time.”

Michael Kosky, another Garin Tzabar participant, added, “We have come here to play our chapter in Jewish history. I am part of this program. Good luck to every one here.”  A lone soldier already serving in the IDF named Ariella, who hails from an Argentine family and grew up in both America and Israel told the audience that she holds dear the “values of loyalty to the state, its people, and the Tzabar members” and said to the new recruits “If you live together, you will learn a lot.”

Eitan Press contributed to this report.

Visit United with Israel.

Arab Donald Duck Tweets for Israel to be ‘Demolished’

Wednesday, August 7th, 2013

An Egyptian radio host who identifies himself as the official voice of Donald Duck on Disney Middle East called on Twitter for Israel to be “demolished.”

The discussion that began Sunday on the Twitter feed of Wael Mansour continued on Tuesday.

“I truly wish #Israel is demolished, I hate Zionism, I have so much hate inside me with every single child they murder or land they seize!” Mansour tweeted Sunday. The tweet followed one that read: “I saw a video of Israeli soldiers brutally arresting a palestinian woman in front of her 3 children coz they seized her home & she objects!” which could explain his Twitter outburst.

Mansour responded to some critics by tweeting: “I don’t know why insulting #Israel & #Zionism is “Anti-Semitic”?! They are just a bunch of Polish/ Ethiopian immigrants roughly 70 years old” and “There are Jews who hate Zionism; does it make them Jews Anti-Jews?! Of course NO! We respect Jews & disrespect Zionism, there’s a difference.”

The Algemeiner called on Disney chairman Bob Iger, who is Jewish, to respond to the controversy. Disney owns the rights to Donald Duck.

Contacted directly via Twitter by the Algemeiner, Mansour told the paper, “The Zionist entity is a racist entity by definition, performing crimes of hate by the power of its criminal law. I stand firm by what I said.”

Mansour said Egypt “dictates an overwhelming Islamic sentiment that happened normally. On the other hand, the Zionist entity is a bunch of immigrants stealing lands and creating a state based on a racist difference.”

NPR Takes the Side of Multiculturalism

Sunday, April 21st, 2013

From the NPR website:

NPR this week is introducing a new team that will cover race, ethnicity and culture. Code Switch is the name of the new blog. Code-switching is the practice of shifting between different languages or different ways of expressing yourself in conversations.

Honestly folks, do we need more “race, ethnicity and culture?”

Do we need more ethnic politics, based on the proposition that, for example, only a Hispanic person — whatever that is — can understand the concerns of other Hispanics?

Do we need more emphasis on ethnic and gender studies in our schools? Especially when such courses are often presented from a separatist point of view, one which emphasizes the victimhood of a particular group and its need for reparations of various kinds?

Do we need to encourage particular groups to see themselves as separate from other groups and in competition with them?

Do we need to create even more hypersensitivity to the slightest instances of ethnic stereotyping? Do we need for these issues to be uppermost in our consciousnesses at all times? Do we need more restrictions on speech due to political correctness?

Tribalism is a normal human characteristic, which evolved as a response to pressures created when disparate groups encountered each other. Like many aspects of human nature, tribalism can be constructive or it can be destructive. Tribalism is the root of patriotism and nationalism, which I see as generally good things (many will disagree, but that’s part of my point). But tribalism can also lead to conflict, and when multiple groups within a nation give their primary loyalty to their group rather than to the nation, such conflict is unavoidable.

In much of the world this kind of conflict is the rule rather than the exception. Lebanon has been racked by ethnic and religious conflicts for generations; Iraq and Syria can only be held together by totalitarian regimes. The most stable countries in the world are ethnically homogeneous and when this homogeneity is disturbed by an influx of immigrants the result is internal conflict, such as we are seeing now in Europe. Israel faces a tremendously difficult task of finding a modus vivendi among its Jewish and Arab citizens (one could consider the Haredim a separate culture as well).

The U.S. chose a different, but still practical, path. It was intended to be different from ethnically-based nations, following the now-unpopular path of the “melting pot” in which a new, American, culture would be created from people of different cultures who, while retaining some distinctive characteristics, would primarily see themselves as Americans, loyal to the American nation as a whole.

The melting pot was criticized by those who said that it didn’t exist: in fact, they argued, the majority white Anglo-Saxon culture simply erased the others, sometimes brutally. At the same time, disadvantaged status was inherited and didn’t “melt” away, they said. Individuals lost essential parts of their heritage in the process of “assimilation.” They proposed to replace it with a policy of “multiculturalism“:

Multiculturalism is closely associated with “identity politics,” “the politics of difference,” and “the politics of recognition,” all of which share a commitment to revaluing disrespected identities and changing dominant patterns of representation and communication that marginalize certain groups (Young 1990, Taylor 1992, Gutmann 2003). Multiculturalism is also a matter of economic interests and political power; it demands remedies to economic and political disadvantages that people suffer as a result of their minority status.

Multiculturalists take for granted that it is “culture” and “cultural groups” that are to be recognized and accommodated. Yet multicultural claims include a wide range of claims involving religion, language, ethnicity, nationality, and race. Culture is a notoriously overbroad concept and all of these categories have been subsumed by or equated with the concept of culture (Song 2008). Language and religion are at the heart of many claims for cultural accommodation by immigrants. The key claim made by minority nations is for self-government rights. Race has a more limited role in multicultural discourse. Antiracism and multiculturalism are distinct but related ideas: the former highlights “victimization and resistance” whereas the latter highlights “cultural life, cultural expression, achievements, and the like” (Blum 1992, 14). Claims for recognition in the context of multicultural education are demands not just for recognition of aspects of a group’s actual culture (e.g. African American art and literature) but also for the history of group subordination and its concomitant experience (Gooding-Williams 1998). (“Multiculturalism,” Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy, Sep. 24, 2010).

Multiculturalism is associated with the academic Left and post-colonialism. An academic fashion, it is a dangerous one. Europe has taken this path, and we can see the results. Much of the criticism of Israel comes from the standpoint of multiculturalism. But Israel’s success is based on the primacy of one culture, the Jewish, Zionist one. It will continue to exist only if it can maintain this. There is no room there for multiculturalism.

Nadler Reintroducing Bill Helping Elderly Turn US Citizens Faster

Sunday, April 14th, 2013

On Friday, Congressman Jerrold Nadler (D-NY), the top Democrat on the Judiciary Subcommittee on the Constitution, reintroduced the Senior Citizenship Act in order to help elderly immigrants become citizens. For many older immigrants without extensive knowledge of the English language, the current waiting periods and exams required for citizenship have proved onerous. This legislation would take into account the difficulties particular to older immigrants in regard to waiting periods and exam requirements for citizenship.

“This commonsense bill would remove unnecessary hurdles for elderly immigrants who are seeking to become U.S. citizens,” said Nadler. “The Senior Citizenship Act is designed to make it easier for seniors, who may have trouble learning English or memorizing facts about American history, to become citizens if they are otherwise eligible. In my district in Brooklyn and Manhattan, in particular, there are many elderly immigrants who are unable to attain citizenship though they have thoroughly committed themselves to their adopted homeland.”

In order to become an American citizen, most immigrants must pass an exam on English and an exam on history and civics, among other requirements. However, if an immigrant is over the age of 50 and has been a lawful permanent resident of the United States for at least 20 years, or at least 15 years if over the age of 55, under current law they do not have to take the English literacy test when applying for citizenship. They do have to take the history and civics test, but it can be done in their native language. Additionally, if they are over the age of 60 and have been a lawful permanent resident in the United States for at least 20 years, they can take a simplified version of the history and civics test in their own language.

Unfortunately, these existing exemptions do not help elderly immigrants who have come to this country recently and speak little or no English. And, in some cases, especially for recent immigrants who are older than 75, it can be extremely difficult to memorize facts in order to pass the required history and civics exam.

The Senior Citizenship Act addresses these two problems by adding two additional exemptions to current requirements:

· First, it would exempt immigrants who are over 65 years old and have been lawful permanent residents of the United States for at least five years from having to take the English literacy exam. They still would be required to pass the civics and history exam, but this could be done in their native language.

· Second, it would exempt immigrants who are over 75 years old and have been lawful permanent residents of the United States for at least five years from having to take the history and civics exam altogether.

Jewish Groups Rally for Immigrants with Sign What Would Moses Do’

Thursday, April 11th, 2013

Carrying signs reading “Don’t Deport My Bubbe” and “What Would Moses Do?,” Jewish demonstrators representing several organizations participated Wednesday in the Rally for Citizenship in Washington.

The Jewish groups rallied on the west lawn of the Capitol alongside Latinos, Catholics, Unitarians, union members and women’s groups.

Members of Jews United for Justice, HIAS, the American Jewish Committee, Bend the Arc Jewish Action, the Jewish Council for Public Affairs and the newly created Jewish Justice Roundtable wore light blue shirts with the slogan “We Were Strangers Too” during the speech- and music-filled afternoon.

On the back of their shirts, in black marker, the marchers listed where their relatives had lived before immigrating to America. The countries varied from Russia, Romania and Poland to the more unusual Newfoundland and Norway.

“Jews are from around the world. We all have immigration stories not so far in the past,” said Hadar Susskind, director of Bend the Arc Jewish Action. “We have personal and communal stories.”

With an Anti-Semitic Holland, Where Is It Safe for Jews?

Wednesday, April 3rd, 2013

Originally published at Rubin Reports.

A few years ago in Amsterdam I was shown the most popular manual published in the Netherlands, in Dutch, on how to raise one’s children as proper Muslims. The book included virulently anti-Semitic passages, based on Muslim holy texts. After the Jewish community objected, the authorities forced the publisher to put white tape over the offending passages. The tape could easily be peeled off by purchases so that these words could be read.

Separately, consider what has just happened. A Turkish-Dutch researcher publicized a record of systematic anti-Semitism among other Muslims in the Netherlands, including a dramatic video that showed teenage boys calling for genocide and praising Hitler.

What happened? The researcher, Mehmet Sahin, had to go into hiding after being accused by others of being a Jew and a Zionist.

The growing anti-Semitism in Western Europe is like that. The European Union, governments, and the media paste a white tape over the problem to conceal it or pretend to do something about it. But when one peels back the tape the hatred is revealed as growing and being passed onto the next generation.

While one doesn’t want to exaggerate rising anti-Semitism in Europe – mostly from Muslim immigrants and their children but facilitated and even reflected by the increasingly intellectually hegemonic left – the growth of anti-Jewish hatred is enormous. Some people view this as fear-mongering, pointing to other developments that show the glass to be half full. Indeed, the hostility of European governments toward Israel has often been exaggerated. The situation is actually better than it was 20 or 30 years ago.

Yet the broader question is one of social trends and the behavior of institutions, especially the mass media and universities, which are generally becoming not just critical but viciously so of Israel and periodically Jews generally.

Take the Netherlands, a mild-mannered country that prides itself on moderation in all things. Traditionally, the Netherlands was friendly to Israel and while it has always had its anti-Semites and even, historically, fascists, it had far less proportionately than other European countries during the last half-century. In other words, if things are bad in the Netherlands, they’re really bad.

Last year, the chief rabbi of the Netherlands spoke in a published interview in which he spoke extensively about his love for the country, the good treatment of Jews there, and other such points. Asked at the end, however, whether there was any future for Jews in the country he said, “No,” and advised the community to move to Israel.

That doesn’t mean the Netherlands is a maelstrom of anti-Semitism. It isn’t. But there’s a growing anti-Semitic sector which consists of two parts: Muslim immigrants and their offspring, and the far left that is so often dominant in the Netherlands –as in other Western countries.

The Dutch government, unlike others in Europe, has defined Hezbollah as a terrorist group and while less favorable to Israel than its predecessor remains on good terms with Israel. Yet shocking slanders appear about Israel in the mainstream Dutch media.

To cite just one example, on March 17, 2010, NRC Handelsblad, Holland’s most prestigious newspaper, published a front-page article claiming the “Israel lobby” was threatening to defeat President Barack Obama’s health plan to blackmail him regarding his Israel policy. While statements on other matters by Israel’s government are evaluated in a cynical way, the basis for this story was a single left-wing blogger.

An observer who wants to avoid exaggerating the problem warns about: “A rising tide of anti-Semitism that the top level is unwilling to address out of a fear of being labeled a racist or out of a fear of losing the all-important Muslim vote,” which is vital for the Left in elections. There is no effective opposition in the political sphere. The center dithers; some on the right speak out but do nothing effective.

A Dutch person involved in inter-communal work adds: “I know many upstanding young Muslims who are as appalled by anti-Semitism,” and these voices should not be forgotten. It should also be remembered that there have been attacks on mosques over the years. In contrast, though, a moderate left politician described in great detail how her family was forced to leave their neighborhood by verbal and at times violent harassment by Muslim youths there.

Jewish Groups Urge Faster Path to Citizenship for Immigrants

Sunday, March 24th, 2013

In a letter timed for Passover, a broad array of Jewish groups urged President Obama and Congress to facilitate a path to citizenship for undocumented immigrants.

“American Jews know too well the impact of restrictive immigration policies, and we have seen how the immigration issue can become a flashpoint for xenophobia,” said the letter sent March 22, spearheaded by the Hebrew Immigrant Aid Society and including signatories representing all four Jewish religious streams as well as the major Jewish civil rights groups and the federation and public policy umbrellas.

“We are concerned the failure of national leaders to fix the broken immigration system has fueled racist, nativist, and extremist groups who blame immigrants for our country’s problems, and has been a central factor in the spread of state and local policies and laws that legalize discrimination against immigrants,” it says.

The letter, signed by 19 national groups and dozens of local groups and clergy, calls for legislation that “brings undocumented immigrants out of the shadows by providing a pathway to citizenship, creates safe and legal avenues for future flows of immigrants, reunites families, establishes border protection and enforcement policies that enhance our national security, and accords all immigrants the responsibilities and rights required for full integration into American society.”

It asks that such a system be “realistic” and that citizenship be available “within a reasonable timeframe of years, not decades.”

The letter also urges reform that “fixes the broken system for admitting and integrating refugees and asylum seekers.”

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/news/breaking-news/jewish-groups-urge-faster-path-to-citizenship-for-immigrants/2013/03/24/

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