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August 22, 2014 / 26 Av, 5774
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Posts Tagged ‘San Francisco’

Breaking News: #BlocktheBoat #EpicFail as ZIM Unloads

Wednesday, August 20th, 2014

Members of the ILWU dock workers’ union in Oakland, California on Wednesday afternoon unloaded the ZIM ship that anti-Israel picketers blocked last week.

Angry protesters were helpless to stop the work; the ship had left port earlier this week and sailed towards the direction of Los Angeles but then made a U-turn and returned to the same harbor.

Longshoremen were pulled off task from other ships in the middle of the night to unload the ZIM vessel.

Police kept the anti-Israel protesters at bay. Twitter posts tweeted, “Lots of shoving, surprised no arrests yet…ILWU longshoremen are already past your ‘picket line’ and unloading ZIM now you dufus…Haha the anti-Zionist trolls are coming out but it’s too late. Ship’s unloading. Port of Oakland really put one over on them.”

On the #BlockTheBoat Twitter thread, one poster wrote,” Cops blocking public sidewalk, shoving us violently. No way for protesters to leave from where we came. Won’t explain legal basis for blocking public sidewalk…One cop shoved me into back of a second cop, but a third cop was nice enough to shove me in a whole new direction…

“Very tense. We had a great working relationship w/ cops until they impeded our ability to picket. Now we are ‘pissed.’”

Pro-Gaza protesters led by Palestinian Arab groups had successfully blockaded the Piraeus, a ZIM Integrated Shipping Services vessel, at the Oakland port in a protest against Israel’s counter terror operation in Gaza.

Several hundred Oakland protesters gathered again in a picket line Sunday after the ZIM vessel docked, approximately 24 hours after it was forced to circle in the Pacific Ocean to avoid a mob of thousands at the same port the previous day.

The container ship left the Port of Oakland Tuesday afternoon before returning to a different part of the harbor.

“The ZIM Integrated Shipping Lines vessel Piraeus left the port and got underway headed for Los Angeles, according to a real time marine traffic tracking web site,” Inside BayArea.com reported.

It added that after sailing nearly 20 miles, it turned back towards the port in Oakland and then sailed again past the eastern shore of San Francisco before returning to port.

Picketers had successfully stopped the longshoremen’s union members from unloading the boat and showed Israeli social activist and ‘Yesh Atid’ party chairman Yair Lapid at dawn on Tuesday how to set up a picket line.

“We will not work under armed police escort –not with our experience with the police in this community,” said ILWU Local 10 President Melvin MacKay in a statement. McKay was referring to a 2003 anti-war demonstration in which Oakland police fired rubber bullets at demonstrators and injured several longshoremen.

Mohamed Shehk, a spokesman for the Block the Boat movement, had expressed confidence that the picket would force ZIM to conclude the company could forget about unloading ships in Oakland or anywhere else on the West Coast.

He was wrong.

 

Swastika, ‘Heil Hitler’, Scrawled Outside SF Shuls

Tuesday, June 10th, 2014

A swastika and other anti-Semitic graffiti were scrawled outside two synagogues in San Francisco, the northern California JWeekly website reported. The website said that police are investigating the incidentas a hate crime.

The website said that on the morning of May 30, traffic sign outside Congregation Beth Israel Judea and Or Shalom Jewish Community was found tagged with “Heil Hiter” (sic) and the phrase “death to the Jews” written in French.

The synagogues are also located next door to the Brandeis Hillel Day School. which is located next door. Corey Weinstein, Or Shalom’s board president, told JWeekly that no student or parent saw the graffiti, and that it was removed before the start of Shabbat.

San Francisco Jews to Ramp Down Yom HaAtzma’ut Celebration

Monday, May 5th, 2014

The Jewish community in northern California has decided to ramp down its annual “celebrate Israel” festivities with a 90-minute downtown ceremony, on Yom HaAtzma’ut.

The gathering will be a sharp step down from previous years, when Jews from around the Bay Area met in the scenic Yerba Buena Gardens on the first Sunday in June for a daylong event to mark Israel’s independence. That event has traditionally attracted up to 15,000 of revellers from the Bay Area and around northern California.

Jewish Federation spokespeople announced on March 7 that the community would be taking a “shmita year” — to rethink and re-imagine this significant community event, but stressed that the event would be a landmark celebration of Israel in the heart of San Francisco.

“This event represents the coming together of local Jews, expatriate Israelis, and many others who feel passionate about Israel… (it will)mark a happy occasion for Israel and our Bay Area Jewish community,”  said Donny Inbar, Associate Director for Arts and Culture at the Israel Center, a project of the Jewish Community Federation of San Francisco, Peninsula, Marin & Sonoma.

Speaking to the Northern California Jewish Bulletin, Inbar said the event would be a non-political way to say “we love you, Israel.”

Inbar did not say whether the decision to minimize the Yom HaAtzma’ut celebration was a response to pressure from anti-Israel groups operating in the area.

But it is significant to note that northern California is one of the most liberal areas in the United States, and a hotbed of anti-Israel activity: Palestinian activists routinely picket the Israeli consulate in the city, often outnumbering pro-Israel counter-protesters by more than ten to one. In past years, participants in pro-Israel events have been heckled, and posters condemning Israeli “apartheid” are commonplace around the city.

In addition, for years Jewish students at universities in San Francisco, Berkeley and around northern California have reported that they routinely feel threatened by Palestinian protesters on and off campus. One Jewish student at the University of California, Berkeley, was attacked by a Palestinian with a shopping cart after expressing pro-Israel views. Across San Francisco Bay, at California State University, San Francisco, campus security forces had to rescue Jewish students from Palestinian wearing shirts that said “My heroes have always killed colonizers.” There are more examples.

In class, too, Jewish students have reported that history and political science professors routinely make clear that pro-Israel views are not to be considered a legitimate part of their classroom debate.

Anti-Circumcision Group to Picket ACLU’s Marriage Equality Rally

Monday, July 15th, 2013

San Francisco anti-circumcision activists are planning to picket a campaign for marriage equality by the American Civil Liberties Union of Northern California (ACLU )in Oakland Wednesday evening because the civil liberties group opposes circumcision bans.

The reasoning is based not only on mixing apples and oranges but also making them equal, just like boys and girls are born equal – from top to bottom.

Here is a civil liberties group campaigning for equality in marriage but is being picketed because it does not support the argument that there should be gender equality in the law that protects girls from circumcision.

The American Civil Liberties Union of Northern California has organized a screening of “The Campaign,” and members of Bay Area Intactivists said they will protest outside the event venue” to condemn the ACLU’s work denying boys equal protection from genital mutilation.”

The ACLU’s sin, in the eyes of anti-circumcision activists, is that it argued that the San Francisco Male Genital Mutilation Bill a ballot initiative two years ago to restrict non-therapeutic circumcision to consenting adults  violated the right of parents to have their sons circumcisions, according to Jewish law.

The ballot proposal never even reached the voting booths because  a San Francisco judge ruled that state law preempts the city from regulating medical professionals.

San Francisco Superior Court Judge Loretta Giorgi removed the measure from the ballot in her order, stating, “The [California state] statute speaks directly to the issue of local regulation of medical procedures and leaves no room for localities to regulate in this area.”

But if you already are going to change the facts of life and disregard certain bodily differences between girls and boys, then why stick to other facts?

IntactNews, which reports on the “genital integrity movement,” reported that the removal of the proposal from the ballot was “squelching democracy by denying voters their voice.”

In other words, democracy is when you win and it is anti-democratic when you lose.

Once that reasoning can be understood, everything becomes clear.

Federal law protects girls from genital mutilation. IntactNews points out that the law does not stipulate any “religious or cultural exceptions.” If there are any readers who know of a religion that considers circumcision of girls a mitzvah, please raise your hand.

Following the court ruling striking the anti-circumcision proposal from the ballot, California passed a law making it illegal for local authorities to ban or restrict circumcisions. The ACLU backed the law, making it persona non grata for the activists.

By the way if you want to demonstrate against the ACLU next week, be warned that, according to Intact, “a limited number of signs will be available [but] you are also welcome to bring your own sign.”

Savaged for Daring to Name Savagery: Pamela Geller Attacked by Critics of Free Speech

Monday, September 24th, 2012

Pamela Geller, conservative commentator and blogger provocateur, is the executive director of the American Freeedom Defense Initiative.  AFDI created and paid for an ad campaign to run in several urban transit systems, in response to anti-Israel ads that ran in the same spaces.

The AFDI ads contain a paraphrase from the philosopher Ayn Rand: “In any war between the civilized man and the savage, support the civilized man.”  It concludes with: “Support Israel.  Defeat Jihad.”

The ads are already running on the sides of San Francisco buses, they began running today, September 24th, in New York City, and they were scheduled to begin appearing in the Washington, D.C. metro system.  However, the DC system balked, citing the violent rioting by Muslims allegedly inflamed by a YouTube video which presents an unflattering view of Mohammad, so Geller initiated an emergency court action at the end of last week to enforce her First Amendment rights.

Because there is so much misinformation both about Geller and her ad, The Jewish Press asked her to explain what her ad means, why it is scheduled to run this week, what the responses to it have been and, most importantly, why she continues to express her views so publicly, when she is repeatedly condemned by virtually the entire spectrum of mainstream media and even by other Jewish and pro-Israel groups.

First, let’s get the chronology and the geography straight.

2010, Seattle

In late 2010, in Seattle, Washington, anti-Israel groups sought to run advertisements on the side of municipal buses reading: “Israeli War Crimes: Your tax dollars at work. Stop30billion-Seattle.org.”  Just before the anti-Israel ads were about to go up, the county executive crafted a new policy banning all non-commercial advertisements.  The new policy enabled the municipality to reject not only the anti-Israel ad, but also two counter-ads that had been submitted, one of which was one proposed by Geller, the other one offered by the David Horowitz Freedom Center.

September, 2011, New York

Last September, another series of anti-Israel ads went up in various transit systems including the one in New York City.  This ad shows two smiling dads – one Israeli, one “Palestinian,” with their young daughters.  The ad copy: “Be on our side.  We’re on the side of peace and Justice.  End U.S. military aid to Israel.” In other words, American tax dollars is being used to support Israeli militancy and injustice.  These ads ran in 18 NYC subway stops for a month, in Manhattan, Brooklyn, Queens and the Bronx.

That same month, Geller’s organization, AFDI, submitted the anti-Jihad ad.  The MTA refused to run it, claiming the ad violated its advertising standards because it “demeans[s] an individual or group of individuals.”  AFDI claimed that rejection violated the U.S. Constitution. On September 227, 2011, AFDI, Pamela Geller, and AFDI’s  associate director, Robert Spencer, filed suit against the MTA claiming that the transit agency’s no-demeaning standard constitutes “viewpoint discrimination” and is unconstitutional and therefore the MTA’s rejection of AFDI’s ad unlawfully restricted their free speech.

September 2012, New York

On July 20, 2012, Judge Englemayer, the federal district court judge in New York before whom the matter was heard, ruled that the MTA’s  prohibition on “demeaning” language is unconstitutional and the ad must run.  Significantly, the court ruled that

the AFDI Ad is not only protected speech—it is core political speech. The Ad expresses AFDI’s pro-Israel perspective on the Israeli/Palestinian conflict in the Middle East, and implicitly calls for a pro-Israel U.S. foreign policy with regard to that conflict. The AFDI Ad is, further, a form of response to political ads on the same subject that have appeared in the same space.   As such, the AFDI Ad is afforded the highest level of protection under the First Amendment.

While AFDI was the victor in the case, Judge Engelmayer threw more than a few crumbs to the ad’s opponents.

For example, there was a fundamental disagreement over the use of the term “savage” – Geller claims it refers only to those committing acts of barbarism against innocent victims in the name of Islam.  Judge Englemayer, however, held that a reasonable person could conclude the term referred simply to Muslims.

What’s more, the judge practically wrote a recipe for the MTA to follow for rewriting its advertising policy so that a ban on an ad like AFDI’s could, in the future be upheld by a court.

An American Odyssey (Part 10)

Wednesday, May 23rd, 2012

San Francisco is a lovely city and we enjoyed its many tourist venues. The famous Lombard Street, known as “The Crookedest Street in the World,” was beautiful, with its floral decorations. We shopped at Pier 39, and we bought matching San Francisco jackets. We really needed them since it was cold in San Francisco. Barbara added to her magnet collection, which contains magnets from dozens of countries around the world that we have toured. She’d never been in a store that sold thousands of magnets and she just loved looking at all the magnets on the walls.

We enjoyed lunch with Barbara’s cousin, Paul Sedway, and his daughter at the Sabra Glatt Kosher Restaurant. After lunch, we drove through the city. We stopped at the Oakland Kosher store and found delicious tongue and other deli meats to replenish our dwindling supply. We played “Jewish geography” with one of the workers, who sent regards to his friend living in our community, Hashmonaim. It’s a small world!

The next morning, we loaded our van and continued north. Our first stop was the Jelly Belly Factory where we watched how they manufactured the delicious jellybeans. Jelly Belly is certified kosher by the OU and we enjoyed the free samples. My brother, Avi, purchased several pounds of the jellybeans to bring to his friends in Boca Raton’s Century Village. We also stopped at the Budweiser Brewery where we enjoyed the tour and the video, along with the beer (or Pepsi) and pretzels (also kosher certified). It was interesting to note that so many of the products that we found on our way were kosher.

We arrived in Sacramento towards noon and drove to Barbara’s brother’s home. Gary and Jody Cohen have a business marketing “Natural Value” line organic products all over America. While Barbara spent time with her brother, Gary, and visited stores that sold his products, Avi, Martha and I toured the California Railroad Museum, the local Imax Theater, Old Town, the Wells Fargo exhibit and the Aerospace Museum. There was a lot to see and we thoroughly enjoyed ourselves.

Dov at the California Railroad Museum.

After touring, we returned to Gary’s to relax and socialize. Gary had arranged rooms for us at the local Marriott Residence Inn. We drove to our first class accommodations and used the pool to cool off. The next morning, we were delighted to find many OU-certified packaged products at the hotel breakfast, including yogurts, granola, waffles and individually wrapped danishes.

Thursday morning was laundry day so we drove to a local Laundromat, loaded the machines, left the women to watch the clothes and headed to a JiffyLube to service the van. When we returned to Gary and Jody’s house, we found a delicious ice cream and whipped cream lunch, along with bagels and lox, waiting for us. We toured “The World Headquarters of Natural Value Foods” (Gary’s work rooms) and then returned to the motel to relax.

The next morning we loaded the van, enjoyed a delicious breakfast again and headed for Lake Tahoe. We passed the rushing waters of the Truckee River and stopped to view the snow-capped mountains of the Sierra Nevada Mountains. We drove around the very beautiful Lake Tahoe, stopped at one or two of the waterfalls, and crossed back into Nevada. At Carson City we stopped to take pictures of the State Legislature building named after Barbara’s late cousin, Marvin Sedway, who was a well-loved State Assemblyman.

Reno, Nevada was a bit disappointing. The streets were mostly empty and the gambling halls we looked into were pretty deserted. The economic downturn in the U.S. has had a serious impact on Reno. We toured the Fleishman Planetarium and Science Center and watched a “sky-dome” movie.

As I have noted several times, wherever we travel in the world, the most gracious hosts are usually the local Chabad families. Our hosts for Shabbat were Reno’s Chabad family, Rabbi Mendy and Sara Cumin and three of their eight children. We slept in their home and davened in the beautiful and newly-refurbished Chabad shul/school. Next door to the shul was the new mikveh building. The family views their task as convincing anyone becoming religious to leave and go to live in Israel. They have had some success in the past 16 years but seem to be the only religious family living in the area today. We had a minyan for Friday night and Shabbat morning, but for Shabbat Minchah there were just four of us. The fourth person was an Israeli I noticed walking around the shul. He was not personally religious, but every Shabbat in Israel he attended at least one service. We invited him in for Minchah and the rabbi invited him to a seuda shlishis in his home. It is always a pleasure to spend Shabbat with a Chabad family. Before we left, we gave the family some of the extra kosher packaged foods that we had in the car along with a donation for our aliyas on Shabbat.

An American Odyssey (Part 9)

Wednesday, April 25th, 2012

These days, Israel commemorates Holocaust Memorial Day, IDF Memorial Day and Israel Independence Day. I hope to write about these days sometime soon. For now, back to the Odyssey.

On Sunday morning, after breakfast at the Elite Café, we loaded the van, filled the gas tank and travelled the famous Route #1 from Los Angeles toward San Francisco, along the Pacific Ocean coast. It was the 4th of July weekend and the narrow route was crowded with miles of RV’s, campers and fellow travelers. Traffic was a bit slow along the way.

Our first pit stop was at the Santa Barbara wharf. My wife, Barbara, enjoyed stopping there to buy a refrigerator magnet with her name on it. We enjoyed the beautiful boardwalk and watched all of the tourists watching us. After a short visit, we drove along the highway, searching for a vacant table so that we could enjoy a picnic lunch.

From Santa Barbara, we drove to the very famous Hearst Castle, the beautiful former mansion of publishing magnate William Randolph Hearst. Today the castle is run by the Parks Service and is considered a historical treasure of majestic beauty. With 165 rooms, three phenomenal swimming pools and 127 acres of gardens, terraces and walkways, it is a popular and very crowded tourist attraction. On jam-packed weekends, tours often have to be arranged in advance, so we just enjoyed the film about the history of the castle and, of course, visited the gift shop where Barbara and Martha enjoyed trying on the big, colorful hats that were for sale.

We left the castle and returned to Route #1. The traffic and the single-lane curvy road, with no cross road exits, was bumper-to-bumper for many miles. This 12-hour day of Sunday traffic became one of our longest days on the road, and we were exhausted when we arrived at our motel, midway between Los Angeles and San Francisco.

The next morning we stopped at the beautiful new home of our cousins Sara and Dave Benevento. The house is located in a forested area and has several spacious rooms. Dave works for a company that packages delicious berries (which we enjoyed with our breakfast yogurt). When we left Dave and Sara, we stopped at a roadside fruit stand and purchased freshly-packed, delicious California cherries.

We travelled a bit off the beaten track and drove to visit the James Lick Observatory. It is owned by the University of California and is located at the very top of Mount Hamilton (4,700 feet above sea level). The narrow, winding mountain-side road was a steep uphill climb (drive) to the top. Everyone, except for the driver, kept his or her eyes tightly shut during the scary ascent on this often single-lane road. It took over 75 minutes to reach the top (but only 30 minutes to travel down). The visit to the telescope room was very interesting and we heard an informative talk by one of the staff members. James Lick was a “generous miser” who grew wealthy dealing in California real estate. The telescope is used each clear night to observe the solar system and search for distant galaxies. The telescope needs darkness to work and light-pollution can be a problem.

We continued our drive on the beautiful scenic route to San Francisco with a stop at Menlo Park to visit my sister-in-law’s brother, Teddy Hamlet. Visiting relatives that we have not seen in a long while was one of the purposes of our trip. The local Glatt Kosher restaurant was, unfortunately, closed and the bagel place is open on Shabbos, so we could not go out for a meal. Some supplies from a stop at the local Walmart and our packaged meals served as dinner and we enjoyed the 4th of July fireworks from our motel room and via TV.

Next: San Francisco.

Comments may be sent to dov@gilor.com.

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/indepth/columns/focus-israel/an-american-odyssey-part-9/2012/04/25/

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