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April 19, 2014 / 19 Nisan, 5774
At a Glance

Posts Tagged ‘Washington Jewish Week’

DC Deals Site Posts Slothish Apology, Used Dreidels to Symbolize Greed

Monday, November 4th, 2013

In the latter half of 2013 it is not surprising that – when caught – a public company would apologize for using a Jewish symbol as an icon for greed. And that’s just what happened recently.  But how much longer will it take before whispering an-after-the-fact, passive apology, which sounds heartfelt if you read it quickly but which, upon examination, appears to be anything but, is no longer acceptable?

First the background.

An online daily discount deals site, LivingSocial, hosted a “7 Deadly Sins Halloween Party” on Oct. 26 in Washington, D.C.  The party, held at LivingSocial’s 918 F Street address, had seven different rooms, each representing one of the seven deadly sins: wrath, greed, sloth, pride, lust, envy and gluttony.

Dreidels, an iconic symbol for Hanukkah – and for Jews – were placed in the LivingSocial’s party room for greed.  There were also gold coins.  This room was advertised on the LivingSocial Events page : “In this shimmering room full of silver and gold, we’ll get greedy challenging friends to a plethora of games, all while sipping on a Midas Touch cocktail.”

Someone at the party was not amused. This person’s disappointment was conveyed to Washington Jewish Week senior writer Suzanne Pollack, and the story was then picked up by a (very) few other media outlets.

Not surprisingly, some people expressed their outrage on talkbacks to the few media accounts, while others expressed their own personal versions of anti-Semitism masquerading as “level-headedness” or annoyance with those who complained.

But all the accounts pointed to an apology issued by LivingSocial, and left it at that.

Here’s the apology, dated October 30:

An Apology

Poor judgment was exhibited this past Saturday when religious holiday symbols were associated in a degrading manner during a Halloween event located at our 918 F Street venue.

This insensitivity was offensive and inconsistent with our values as a company. Let me make this perfectly clear – we do not condone prejudice, nor do we tolerate bigoted or hurtful behavior of any sort. What happened at the event was an embarrassment to us as a company and we are deeply apologetic. We are offering a full refund to anyone who attended the event. Customers who attended the event and wish to be refunded can call our customer service department directly and they will be reimbursed immediately.

We know we let you down. We promise to make it up to you, and demonstrate that LivingSocial is better than this, now, and every day forward.

Tim O’Shaughnessy CEO and Cofounder

Here’s the problem with the apology.  Actually, there are several.

APOLOGY HIDDEN ON THE WEBSITE

First, it is almost impossible to find the apology.  You can’t find it on the homepage of the LivingSocial website, and you can’t find it by clicking on any of the links on the top of the site.  It is only posted on the LivingSocial blog. And you can only find that by scrolling way past all the “deals.” Then, at the very bottom, you have to keep going through the remainder of the categories and at the bottom of the second column, click “blog.”

PASSIVE AND INCONSISTENT APOLOGY: THE COMPANY DID TOLERATE ITS OWN ‘BIGOTED’ AND ‘HURTFUL BEHAVIOR’ 

But second, and more importantly, the statement of LivingSocial’s CEO doesn’t ring true.

If using the unnamed “religious symbols” in a degrading manner – as O’Shaugnessy admitted “happened” at the LivingSocial’s Oct. 26 Halloween party – is “inconsistent with [LivingSocial's] values,” and was “an embarrassment to [LivingSocial] for which [they] are deeply apologetic,” then how did it happen?  It isn’t as if a different company, at a non LivingSocial site used dreidels as a symbol of greed – It was a LivingSocial event at a LivingSocial space.

And why did it take several days and some media attention before the Oct. 30 apology was issued?

Despite the distancing language employed by O’Shaughnessy in the apology attributed to him, “what happened at the event,” when “religious holiday symbols were associated” was not something that just spontaneously occurred. Someone – someone affiliated with LivingSocial – did it.

A LivingSocial employee or agent purchased the dreidels and placed them in the “Greed Room.” And that was at an event to which LivingSocial invited the public, and at which LivingSocial employees and/or agents were present.  No one from LivingSocial had any problem linking a Jewish symbol with the sin of greed until some outsider made a fuss about it.

In N.J., Pro-Israel Congressman Faces A Primary Battle

Wednesday, January 11th, 2012

WASHINGTON – Rep. Steve Rothman is accustomed to being re-elected to his northern New Jersey congressional district by wide margins.

This year, however, the pro-Israel stalwart faces what could be a tough, redistricting-induced primary battle against a fellow eight-term Democrat, Rep. Bill Pascrell, who also has a history of winning re-election handily.

Among many pro-Israel activists, the stakes are seen as high. Rothman is regarded as a key and outspoken pro-Israel voice on Capitol Hill.

“There are less than a handful of congressmen who bring the kind of passion, intensity and commitment to America’s security and Israel’s security that Steve Rothman does,” said a congressional aide whose boss previously served with Rothman on the House Appropriations Committee.

“He has a laser beam-like focus on defeating the enemies of Israel, and he’s definitely not shy about holding the State Department accountable.”

The race between Rothman and Pascrell is the result of the new congressional map adopted at the end of 2011 by New Jersey’s redistricting commission.

Rothman is not the only high-profile Jewish lawmaker facing a redistricting-fueled primary fight. In California, the decennial redrawing of congressional districts has yielded a faceoff between Democratic Reps. Howard Berman and Brad Sherman, both leaders on Israel issues.

The new map for New Jersey, which is losing a congressional seat, put Rothman’s residence and a fifth of his constituents into a more conservative district, a large majority of which is currently represented by Republican Scott Garrett. Meanwhile, the largest portions of Rothman’s and Pascrell’s constituencies were shoehorned together into another district.

Hoping to avoid an internecine primary battle, some Democrats reportedly urged Rothman, 59, to challenge Garrett. But it would have been an uphill battle for Rothman.

Instead, Rothman and Pascrell, 74, have declared their intentions to run for the same seat. Rothman currently represents 54 percent of the new district’s constituents, while Pascrell represents 43 percent.

“I decided that I wanted to continue to represent the people who I was born and raised with and who I have lived with most of my life,” Rothman said.

The media-savvy, bespectacled congressman previously served as mayor of Englewood, a city with a sizable Jewish population located in the district he is now contesting.

“I will be reminding my constituents not only of my strong support for Israel, but my great success in helping tens of thousands of constituents every year with their problems and bringing home to the district more than $2 billion in federal funding for a variety of essential local projects,” Rothman said.

A spokesman for Pascrell’s campaign, Sean Darcy, offered a different take on who would be the best choice for Democrats in the June 5 primary.

“Congressman Pascrell has a track record of fighting for middle-class taxpayers,” Darcy said. “He is not afraid to take on extreme right-wing conservatives and stand up for Democratic principles and ideals.”

Both lawmakers receive relatively high ratings for their voting records from the liberal Americans for Democratic Action.

Rothman’s power base is Bergen County, while Pascrell’s stronghold is neighboring Passaic County, an area with a large Arab-American community. Both men have lined up endorsements from local elected officials.

“I think Rothman starts off as the favorite in this,” said Alan Steinberg, who writes about New Jersey politics for Politicker NJ and NewJerseyNewsroom.com. “In this primary he will have overwhelming support from the Jewish community.”

Rothman is a longtime supporter of President Obama, endorsing him in the 2008 presidential primaries over then-Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton – the first member of New Jersey’s congressional delegation to do so.

While Rothman has been critical of aspects of the Obama administration’s Israel policies, including what he has said was a misguided early focus on Israeli settlement activity, he has been at the forefront of defending the president from Republican attacks on his record.

In a July op-ed for Politico, Rothman wrote that the Obama administration “has given – and continues to provide – unprecedented support for the defense and security of Israel.”

He also has hammered leading Republican candidates for supporting an overhaul in the way U.S. foreign aid is allocated, alleging that their positions contradict American understandings with Israel on aid.

Ben Chouake, president of the New Jersey-based pro-Israel political action committee NORPAC, said that Rothman is “very knowledgeable and very engaged and is looked to by other members of Congress for information and advice on matters concerning U.S.-Israel relations and the Middle East.”

NORPAC, the country’s largest pro-Israel political action committee, has raised money for both Rothman and Pascrell in the past.

“While both would carry the status of friendly incumbent in an ordinary election, there is such a wide difference in the records of the candidates that Rothman receives our preference and endorsement in this particular race,” Chouake said.

Rothman sits on two key appropriations subcommittees handling assistance to Israel: the state and foreign operations subcommittee and the defense subcommittee, where he has helped secure funds for Israeli missile defense systems.

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/news/israel/in-n-j-pro-israel-congressman-faces-a-primary-battle/2012/01/11/

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