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July 14, 2016 2

Speaking Truth, Facing Bias and Promoting Empathy

Magnetic-poetry-(modified-for-policing-and-bias)It has been a rough sum­mer as the topic of guns, vio­lence, police and bias scream across the news head­lines and our smart phones.

Still reel­ing from the June 12 mas­sacre of 49 peo­ple at a gay night­club in Orlando, a few short weeks later we watched on video the back-to-back shoot­ing deaths by police of Alton Ster­ling in Baton Rouge, LA and Phi­lando Castile in Fal­con Heights, MN.  Just a day later, as cities across the coun­try engaged in protests over these deaths, we wit­nessed the hor­ri­fy­ing sniper attack of white police offi­cers Brent Thomp­son, Patrick Zamar­ripa, Michael Krol, Michael Smith and Loren Ahrens, and the wound­ing of seven others.

For most of the coun­try, school is out but that doesn’t stop par­ents and fam­i­lies from want­ing to answer ques­tions and find mean­ing in these deaths while they dis­cuss the tragedies with their chil­dren. Nor does it pre­vent teach­ers from reflect­ing on how they will address it with stu­dents when school resumes.

What can we learn from these events and what can we teach chil­dren about them?

The words of Dal­las County Judge Clay Jenk­ins, in the wake of the Dal­las shoot­ing, are insight­ful and instructive:

“We need this to mean some­thing to this com­mu­nity and this coun­try. It’s a sense­less act of hate but if it can mean that it’s an oppor­tu­nity to open that dia­logue so that white peo­ple think about what a Black fam­ily goes through as they teach their chil­dren a dif­fer­ent set of rules than a white fam­ily will teach their chil­dren. So that non first respon­der fam­i­lies think about what a first respon­der fam­ily goes through won­der­ing if their loved one is going to come home.”

What this means is not only do we all have to try harder to lis­ten to and hear the per­spec­tive of one another–perspectives that may be dif­fi­cult and uncom­fort­able to take in—we also need to engage in a dia­logue where we can con­cur­rently speak hard truths and lis­ten with com­pas­sion and empa­thy. It is also crit­i­cal that we lis­ten to and accept the strong feel­ings peo­ple may have about these and other incidents—whether it is anger, fear, shame, sad­ness and dis­ap­point­ment, but also the tri­umphant feel­ings of mak­ing a difference.

As par­ents, fam­ily mem­bers and teach­ers who are respon­si­ble for edu­cat­ing the next gen­er­a­tion of cit­i­zens and lead­ers, how can we trans­late the hard truths of racism, vio­lence, inequity and a need for empa­thy into how we talk to young peo­ple about these issues?

First, it is crit­i­cal that we pro­mote under­stand­ing of iden­tity, cul­ture, dif­fer­ences and develop skills in how to respect those dif­fer­ences. These are con­cepts and skills that need to be taught in a method­i­cal way, espe­cially if there isn’t racial diver­sity in the schools and com­mu­ni­ties in which kids live.  But even if there is diver­sity, these skills and con­cepts have to be taught, nur­tured and mod­eled on a reg­u­lar basis.

Sec­ond, from an early age, we need to talk with chil­dren about prej­u­dice and bias.  As they get older, we can teach young peo­ple about dis­crim­i­na­tion, implicit bias, injus­tice and the ways in which peo­ple have over­come oppres­sion. We need to also talk with them about the inter­sec­tion of racism, vio­lence, inequity and the crim­i­nal jus­tice sys­tem. At a time where 69% of Amer­i­cans per­ceive race rela­tions as “mostly bad,” open and hon­est dia­logue across dif­fer­ences must be a pri­or­ity, both for young peo­ple and adults.

Finally, as Judge Jenk­ins asserted, we need to “respect one another, show com­pas­sion for one another and see things through each other’s per­spec­tive.” Racism exists and espe­cially for Black and Latino men, bias can have dan­ger­ous and even deadly con­se­quences when inter­act­ing with the crim­i­nal jus­tice sys­tem. Police offi­cers have a demand­ing job that pro­vides an oppor­tu­nity to pos­i­tively impact com­mu­ni­ties but also requires them to face dan­ger on a reg­u­lar basis. Pro­mot­ing empa­thy means help­ing stu­dents under­stand dif­fer­ent per­spec­tives and the lens with which oth­ers see the world.

When we do this, we help young peo­ple tap into their human­ity, build their empa­thy skills and feel more con­nected to one another other.



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August 1, 2014 2

U.S. Anti-Israel Protests Continue In Week 3 Of Gaza War

Protests against Israel’s oper­a­tions in Gaza con­tin­ued this week, with at least two dozen protests tak­ing place since Sun­day and sev­eral dozen more sched­uled over the week­end. A total of 206 demon­stra­tions have taken place since Israel’s mil­i­tary cam­paign began on July 8.

See below for a roundup of what hap­pened in select cities this week:

Sun­day, July 27 – Dal­las, TX: A group of pro­test­ers marched through down­town Dal­las hold­ing signs that com­pared Israel to Nazi Ger­many and oth­ers that said, “Stop the Israeli geno­cide” and “Dear USA, Your 9/11 is our 24/7. Sin­cerely, Palestine.”

Dallas, TX

Dal­las, TX

Mon­day, July 28 – Seat­tle, WA: A demon­stra­tion in Seat­tle fea­tured around 50 pro­test­ers who marched near West­lake Cen­ter hold­ing signs with slo­gans such as “Gaza Holo­caust Must Stop” and “Stop the Holo­caust in Gaza” (writ­ten next to a pic­ture of Ben­jamin Netanyahu wear­ing a swastika armband).

Seattle, WA

Seat­tle, WA


Tues­day, July 29 – New York, NY: Nor­man Finkel­stein, a long­time critic of Israeli pol­icy, orga­nized a so-called “direct action” out­side the Israeli Con­sulate in New York. Finkel­stein had announced plans for an action involv­ing civil dis­obe­nience the day before on social media, claim­ing that the action would go for­ward only if 100 peo­ple com­mit­ted to par­tic­i­pat­ing and get­ting arrested. Hours later, Finkel­stein decided to go ahead with the action, even though he did not suc­ceed in get­ting 100 peo­ple to signup.

Norman Finkelstein July 29, 2014

New York, NY


Finkel­stein (the sec­ond indi­vid­ual in the pic­ture above) led a group of about two dozen anti-Israel pro­test­ers who laid down on the cross­walk near the Con­sulate hold­ing signs that read “End geno­cide” and “Stop geno­cide now.” The group blocked traf­fic from pro­ceed­ing on Sec­ond Avenue and they were sub­se­quently arrested by NYPD.

Wednes­day, July 30 – Bal­ti­more, MD: A demon­stra­tion and march spon­sored by the Johns Hop­kins Uni­ver­sity Stu­dents for Jus­tice in Pales­tine chap­ter included signs that said “Gaza = War­saw Ghetto,” “Resis­tance is jus­ti­fied when peo­ple are occu­pied,” and “Stop arm­ing the mur­der­ers of human­ity.” Nor­man Finkel­stein, who had been arrested a day ear­lier in New York City, spoke at the rally.

Baltimore, MD

Bal­ti­more, MD

Thurs­day, July 31 – West Bloom­field, MI: A demon­stra­tion was held out­side the Metro Detroit Jew­ish Com­mu­nity Cen­ter in West Bloom­field, Michi­gan dur­ing an annual meet­ing for the Michi­gan chap­ter of the Zion­ist Orga­ni­za­tion of Amer­ica (ZOA). At the demon­stra­tion, pro­test­ers gath­ered with signs that read “One Holo­caust doesn’t jus­tify another” and “Israeli Occu­pa­tion = Pales­tin­ian GENOCIDE: Stop US aid for Israel’s Heinous Crimes.”

One speaker at the demon­stra­tion exclaimed that “We must demand that the U.S. government…stop sup­port­ing a fas­cist Zion­ist regime!” and another claimed that the peo­ple of Gaza are liv­ing in an “open-air prison.”

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July 25, 2014 17

Anti-Semitism On Display: Two Weeks of U.S. Anti-Israel Protests

In the 15 days of protests against Israel’s response to the lat­est round of rocket fire from Hamas in Gaza, there have been a total of 134 anti-Israel demon­stra­tions held in cities through­out the U.S. Many of these demon­stra­tions fea­tured anti-Semitism with many com­par­isons made between the State of Israel and Nazi Ger­many. In addi­tion, some of the ral­lies have fea­tured con­tent in sup­port of Hamas and over­all Pales­tin­ian “resistance.”



1. Cal­i­for­nia

The state with the most anti-Israel demon­stra­tions was Cal­i­for­nia where there were 19 dif­fer­ent protests held in cities such as Los Ange­les, San Diego, San Fran­cisco, Chico, and Santa Cruz. Quite a few of these demon­stra­tions fea­tured signs that com­pared the State of Israel to Nazi Ger­many. In San Fran­cisco an Israeli flag was burned. In Los Ange­les, a demon­stra­tor held a sign that read “That Jew-Jew Lame shit I ain’t with it Israel you bet­ter quit it Gaza-za #FreePalestine.”





2. New York

Ten anti-Israel demon­stra­tions have taken place in New York State in cities such as New York, Syra­cuse, and Buf­falo. At these demon­stra­tions, some par­tic­i­pants held up anti-Semitic signs and cer­tain speak­ers called for the destruc­tion of the State of Israel and defended the ter­ror­ist group Hamas.



3. Ohio and Washington

In Ohio and Wash­ing­ton State, there were nine sep­a­rate anti-Israel demon­stra­tions held in cities includ­ing Cleve­land, Toledo, Seat­tle and Olympia. In both states, pro­test­ers held anti-Semitic signs that made com­par­isons between the State of Israel and Nazi Ger­many and alleged Israeli con­trol over the Amer­i­can gov­ern­ment. “Die-ins” were also held in both states.




4. Texas

Eight anti-Israel demon­stra­tions took place in cities such as San Anto­nio, Hous­ton, Austin, and Dal­las. Pro­test­ers held signs that read “They’re both the same” (writ­ten next to pic­tures of Adolf Hitler, an equals sign, and Israeli Prime Min­is­ter Ben­jamin Netanyahu), “We’re see­ing Israel’s incre­men­tal geno­cide in the Gaza ghetto,” and “End the Pales­tine Holocaust.”



5. Florida and Wash­ing­ton, D.C.

Seven sep­a­rate anti-Israel demon­stra­tions took place across Florida and in Wash­ing­ton, D.C. Pro­test­ers attended these demon­stra­tions hold­ing signs that read “Adolf Netanyahu Hitler,” “One Holo­caust doesn’t jus­tify another!,” and “Gaza is the real Holo­caust.” A sign that read, “Blam­ing Hamas 4 fir­ing rock­ets @ Israel is like blam­ing a woman 4 hit­ting her rapist” appeared in Miami.





6. Penn­syl­va­nia and Massachusetts

There were six anti-Israel protests held in both Penn­syl­va­nia and Mass­a­chu­setts in cities such as Philadel­phia, Pitts­burgh, and Boston. At these demon­stra­tions, par­tic­i­pants were seen with signs that read “Not even the Holo­caust gives you the right to do this!” and “Do you think that Israel is a vic­tim? Zion­ism = Nazism.” The sign “Blam­ing Hamas for fir­ing rock­ets is like Blam­ing a woman who punches her RAPIST” also appeared at a rally in Philadelphia.




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