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By Failing to Hold Arab Leadership Accountable, the Progressive Movement Enables Racism Against Jews

This article was first published in The Huffington Post on June 11, 2016

Last week marked the anniversary of the farhud, the pro-Nazi massacre of Jews in Baghdad, Iraq, in 1941. Hajj Amin al-Husayni, the mufti of Jerusalem, was a Nazi sympathizer who had met with Hitler in Germany and incited genocidal violence against the Jews throughout the Middle East and North Africa. More important than knowing this fact from history books, I know it from the personal experience of my family – Jewish refugees from Iraq, who survived the farhud.

Earlier that year, numerous Arab leaders — most notably Hajj Amin al-Husayni, the mufti of Jerusalem — arrived in Berlin, as guests of the Nazi regime. Al-Husayni drafted a political declaration, which he presented to the Axis allies of Nazi Germany and fascist Italy, in the hope they would adopt it. In paragraph seven of the declaration, he would have Germany and Italy “recognize the rights of Palestine and other Arab countries [to] resolve the problem of the Jewish elements in Palestine and the other Arab countries in the same way as the problem […]

Racist Zoombombers and the Healing Power of Love

I’ve been contemplating the healing powers of love. On Friday night, my heart was filled with love and joy, as I prepared to lead a prayer service. Over 100 people from the spectrum of faiths, nationalities, and ethnicities showed up on the Zoom call, to share in rejoicing the Iraqi Jewish tradition of my ancestry. Then it was Zoombombed by racists who tried to jam the audio and who sent pictures of swastikas and anti-Semitic texts. I didn’t know until we got to the part of the service where I was leading group singing. I asked the facilitator to unmute everyone, and I was told he couldn’t because he was keeping that situation in check. Honestly, I wanted to invite the haters to sing with us! It felt so sad that they wanted to join us only to indulge in venom, instead of to exalt in the Divine and to lift up our hearts and voices together in celebration.

Regardless, I adapted to the situation and led the singing, imagining the voices of everyone joining in the call-and-response. While I couldn’t hear […]

In Some Ways, for Someone with Chronic Health Issues, Lockdown Has Made Life a Bit Easier

Basking in the sunshine in my yard, during lockdown.

In some ways, I have barely noticed that the world is under lockdown. In other ways, my life has gotten easier. That’s because I have been living with and healing from chronic health issues for the past two decades.

Among other considerations, I have physical and auditory hypersensitivity that make gatherings dicey and crowds a no-no. In addition, after being in numerous car crashes, none of which were my fault, but most of which sent me down the rabbit hole of pain and disability, I don’t exactly trust other drivers – making it anxiety-producing to get to events outside my area. Then there’s the fact that I need to take a ferry to get most places, and that drivers routinely ignore the signs to refrain from idling their engines while waiting for the ferry – meaning car exhaust is in overload on the ferry dock, making it downright toxic to get from “here” to “there,” in particular, because I am healing naturally from cancer and need to be mindful about my environment.

All told, I have not participated in a whole lot of community-type […]