Anti-Gay Day Held at Pittsburgh Area High School (VIDEO)

In an expression of support for "Anti-Gay Day" at McGuffy High School, some students wore flannel.

In an expression of support for “Anti-Gay Day” at McGuffy High School, some students wore flannel.

In an effort to call attention to the bullying and harassment that LGBT students are often subjected too, many high schools around the nation hosted programs on Friday, April 17 in what was being billed as, A Day of Silence.  According to the GLESEN (Gay, Lesbian and Straight Educational Alliance)  web site, Day of Silence is a national day of action in which students across the country vow to take a form of silence to call attention to the silencing effect of anti-LGBT bullying and harassment in schools.

But at McGuffy High School in Washington County, PA, the very idea of showing any kind of support let alone empathy for their LGBT peers was enough to make some students want to do just the opposite: find a way for to express their anti-gay sentiments openly.

Using social media the homophobic crowd at this Western Pennsylvania high school encouraged students to wear flannel on April 17th turn Day of Silence into an “anti-gay day.”  Not only did many students wear flannel shirts to school that day (see photo above), many wrote anti-gay messages on their hands, posters and student lockers around the school.

According to social media, the organizers of the anti-gay day program are urging students to continue promoting the message of hate by wearing specific colors of clothing for each day of the week.

USE THIS LINK TO VIEW A LOCAL NEWS REPORT ON THIS STORY

How do adolescents turn into screaming homophobes?   Maybe hate and intolerance is indicative of how their parents and community understand “religious freedom.”

“Homosexuality gave us Adolph Hitler, and homosexuals in the military gave us the Brown Shirts, the Nazi war machine and six million dead Jews.”
– Bryan Fischer Web post, “Homosexuality, Hitler, and ‘Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell,'” 2010

“Everything is blurred on what’s right and what’s wrong. Sin becomes fine,” he later added. “Start with homosexual behavior and just morph out from there. Bestiality, sleeping around with this woman and that woman and that woman and those men. Don’t be deceived. Neither the adulterers, the idolaters, the male prostitutes, the homosexual offenders, the greedy, the drunkards, the slanderers, the swindlers — they won’t inherit the kingdom of God. Don’t deceive yourself. It’s not right.”  -Phil Robertson interview with GQ

“Our children will be forced to learn that homosexuality is normal and natural and that perhaps they should try it, and that’ll be very soon in our public schools all across the state, beginning in kindergarten.” — Senator Michele Bachmann, appearing as guest on radio program “Prophetic Views Behind The News”, hosted by Jan Markell, KKMS 980-AM, March 6, 2004.

Steve Wiles campaigned on an anti-gay platform.

Still unsure of what the term “homophobia” means?  Consider:   North Carolina Republican Senate candidate Steve Wiles campaigned heavily on his anti-gay beliefs and his support of the state’s same sex marriage ban. However, in May 2014, news broke that just over a decade ago, he worked as an openly gay drag queen and drag-show emcee at Club Odyssey, a gay-friendly Winston-Salem lounge. In addition to emcee, Wiles also directed the show, and in prior years was a frequent attendee and performed under the stage name “Miss Mona Sinclair.” Wiles also worked as a promoter for the 2011 Miss Gay America pageant.

My God Can Beat Up Your God and Other Naive Diplomatic Notions

Kay and Michael.jpg.001

A Gentile inmate who usually does not attend my Monday afternoon class on Judaism at the Ohio State correctional facility  where I volunteer, sat patiently through much of today’s class which was on Jewish dietary laws. I sensed that he had an agenda, he wouldn’t be the first inmate to visit my class with a “big question” he was hoping I could answer.

Finally, my “visiting student” asked me why Israel was being so patient with the Palestinians. I asked him to elaborate.  He went into a long-winded rant that could have been made by any religious-right wing Jewish bigot such as Avigdor Libeerman  or Naftali Bennett to name just two of hundreds of thousands on the Israeli political right:  God gave Israel to the Jewish people, if they (aka: the Palestinians)  don’t like it, TOO BAD! “God’s law is law” and if the Arabs living in Israel or the West Bank don’t want to obey “Jewish law” than they should leave or be shot or imprisoned.

I tried very gently and diplomatically to respond to the visitor by making 4 points:

1. Israel is not theocracy and while hopefully its leaders are guided by Jewish values, Jewish religious law is not the law of the land. For example, if a Jewish Israeli doesn’t want to keep kosher or Shabbat he/she doesn’t have to. Israel is a democracy and its laws are made by a Knesset that includes Jews of every stripe and Arabs as well.  The visitor to my class was stunned to learn that Israel was a democracy and not “simply” ruled by religious law.

2. How, I asked, can two parties ever make peace with one another if both come to the proverbial negotiating table with claims about the will of God? “But it’s in the Bible,” he responded.

3. The Torah demands that we treat the stranger among us as our equal; Israel grants citizenship to Arabs and other non-Jews born within its pre-1967 borders.”Well” he responded, “they (the Arabs) should be grateful to live in a country blessed by God.”   He clearly wasn’t getting it, we were talking past each other.

4. “My way or the highway” approach to solving complicated social and political problems isn’t the best strategy,  it’s actually the cause of most of the problems in the world. If more people believed in equality and respected people of different backgrounds and points of view, the world would not as bad shape as it is.  I had to elaborate on that last point and give a number of examples before my inquisitor understood, though certainly did not agree the argument I was trying to make.

Driving away from the correctional facility, I could help but think about how many people in this world, Jew and Gentile, world leaders and supposedly educated people subscribe to such simplistic, tribalist notions about how geo-political and intricate socioeconomic problems can best be resolved.

I turned on the radio the catch the news and heard that yet another tea party conservative, Marco Rubio had thrown his hat into the 2016 Presidential race.  Like Ted Cruz, Jeb Bush and countless other Islamophobic conservatives, Rubio has said in recent days that if he were the President he would stand by Israel and not be talking to that evil nation, Iran.

The understandable tension between President Obama and Prime Minister Netanyahu has helped a lot of people to clarify their own values and priorities.  Those who think that Obama has no right to be angry or unhappy with Netanyahu want to ignore or discount:

  1. Netanyahu’s non-stop belligerence towards the efforts Obama administration to find a peaceful negotiated settlement with Iran over its development of nuclear energy.  And now, Netanyahu’s very public efforts to demand specific changes rather than make an effort to have a civil conversation with the leader of the free world and his financial and political protector.
  2. Netanyahu’s years of nurturing relations with President Obama’s domestic political adversaries and making little if no effort to partner with Obama in addressing the common regional and international interests of the two countries.
  3. Netanyahu’s willingness to be the keynote speaker at an unprecedented “to hell with President Obama rally” on the floor of the United States Congress recently.
  4. Netanyahu’s sleazy last-minute appeals to racism to win the recent Israeli elections by claiming that Israeli-Arabs were going to determine the results if Jewish voters didn’t get to the polls.
  5. Netanyahu’s willingness to publicly defy and walk away from a long-standing commitment he made to his people, the United States and the Palestinians to seek a “two state solution,” just to steal votes from the most extreme right-wing parties in the Israeli elections.

The inmate who challenged me today about why Israeli wasn’t just executing or imprisoning Palestinians who won’t gratefully accept Israeli rule isn’t really all that naive when you think about how quickly a lot of conservative hawks and die-hard tribalists in both the U.S. and Israel discount the importance of common decency and democratic values when they prove  too inconvenient.   Some people express dangerous, simplistic reasoning with the vocabulary of a less sophisticated prison inmate, some do it with the fancy words of people who have book-smarts but are always ready to put all their chips on the simplest solution no matter how naive or evil it may be.

Thank You NY Times For Calling Republicans Out On Their Disdain for President Obama

I’m frankly exhausted after 6 years of pointing out to people that their irrational, over the top hostility for Barack Obama has BARACK-hope-POSTER4-236x373more to do with disdain for who he is than what he does.  Time and again on this blog I have suggested that birthers and Republicans were using the subterfuge of “differences of opinion” to hide their outrage that America’s first President of color is such an independent, assertive, effectual progressive leader.  Thank you NY Times for affirming what so many of us already know and so many Americans will sadly, continue to deny.

(reprinted from the Sunday, April 11, 2015 edition of the NY Times)

It is a peculiar, but unmistakable, phenomenon: As Barack Obama’s presidency heads into its twilight, the rage of the Republican establishment toward him is growing louder, angrier and more destructive.

Republican lawmakers in Washington and around the country have been focused on blocking Mr. Obama’s agenda and denigrating him personally since the day he took office in 2009. But even against that backdrop, and even by the dismal standards of political discourse today, the tone of the current attacks is disturbing. So is their evident intent — to undermine not just Mr. Obama’s policies, but his very legitimacy as president.

It is a line of attack that echoes Republicans’ earlier questioning of Mr. Obama’s American citizenship. Those attacks were obama-for-treasonblatantly racist in their message — reminding people that Mr. Obama was black, suggesting he was African, and planting the equally false idea that he was secretly Muslim. The current offensive is slightly more subtle, but it is impossible to dismiss the notion that race plays a role in it.

Perhaps the most outrageous example of the attack on the president’s legitimacy was a letter signed by 47 Republican senators to the leadership of Iran saying Mr. Obama had no authority to conclude negotiations over Iran’s nuclear weapons program. Try to imagine the outrage from Republicans if a similar group of Democrats had written to the Kremlin in 1986 telling Mikhail Gorbachev that President Ronald Reagan did not have the authority to negotiate a nuclear arms deal at the Reykjavik summit meeting that winter.

There is no functional difference between that example and the Iran talks, except that the congressional Republican caucus does not like Mr. Obama and wants to deny him any policy victory.

On April 3, Colbert King, a Washington Post columnist summarized a series of actions by Republicans attacking the president’s authority in areas that most Americans thought had been settled by the Civil War. Arizona legislators, for example, have been working on a bill that “prohibits this state or any of its political subdivisions from using any personnel or financial resources to enforce, administer or cooperate with an executive order issued by the president of the United States that has not been affirmed by a vote of Congress and signed into law as prescribed by the United States Constitution.”

The bill sounds an awful lot like John C. Calhoun’s secessionist screed of 1828, the South Carolina Exposition and Protest. Laurie Roberts of The Arizona Republic wrote that it was just “one of a series of kooky measures aimed at declaring our independence from federal gun laws, from the Affordable Care Act, from the Environmental Protection Agency, from the Department of Justice, from Barack Obama.”graph-fillibusdters-judicial-nominees-all-pres-vs-obama

Republicans defend this sort of action by accusing Mr. Obama of acting like a king and citing executive actions he has taken — on immigration and pollution among other things. That’s nonsense. The same Republicans had no objection when President George W. Bush used his executive authority to authorize the torture of terrorism suspects and tap the phones of American citizens. It is not executive orders the Republicans object to; it is Mr. Obama’s policies, and Mr. Obama.

The Senate majority leader, Mitch McConnell, who declared war on the new president in 2009 as minority leader and used the filibuster to paralyze the Senate, essentially told foreign governments to ignore the carbon-emission goals Mr. Obama was trying to set by international agreement. Because climate-change deniers in Congress and in some states oppose the effort, setting those goals is pointless, Mr. McConnell pronounced last month.

If this insurrection is driven by something other than a blend of ideological extremism and personal animosity, it is not clear what that might be. But it is ugly, it deepens mistrust of government and it harms the office of the president, not just Mr. Obama.

What is it with Obama and the Jews?

What is wrong with that damn Muslim socialist dictator is the White House??? One day he’s making peace with the enemies of Israel and the next day he’s leading ….of all things, a Passover Seder??

hamanWHY WON’T HE LEAVE THE JEWISH PEOPLE ALONE!!

WHAT IS HIS SECRET EVIL AGENDA FOR ISRAEL AND THE JEWISH PEOPLE??

The man is obviously the worse thing that ever happened to the Israel and the Jewish people, right?  Rabbi Shlomo Riskin made it official:  Obama is a modern-day Haman!

OMG friend’s, he’s so evil I’m at a loss for words!! Wait, I know who will know how best to describe this anti-Semite from the you know-what lagoon.   I’ll turn on Fox Noise or wait for one of the countless emails I get from the real Zionist,  the REAL Israel supporters who know that Obama’s kind should be taking orders from nice Jewish boys like Bibi Netanyahu, not making him wait in an outer office or negotiating with other  enemies without permission.

Obamas host 7th White House Seder

Gefilte fish, matzoh ball soup, Moroccan haroset balls, roasted potatoes and macaroons on the menu

seder-e1428171025329-635x357

For the seventh year in a row, US President Barack Obama and First Lady Michelle Obama hosted the annual White House Passover Seder on Friday, with Jewish staff and officials in attendance.

The Obamas joined their guests in what the White House described as the “retelling of the Israelites’ arduous journey through the desert from slavery in Egypt to liberation in the Promised Land.”

Susan Barocas, a Jewish Washington-based chef, assisted White House chefs in preparing the Seder meal that reflected both Ashkenazi and Sephardic holiday traditions (“Moroccan haroset balls”). The menu also incorporated several family recipes provided by the Seder’s attendees, the White House said in a statement.

Guests dined on dishes such as gefilte fish, chicken soup with matzoh balls, carrot soufflé, savory holiday brisket, seared salmon with roasted artichokes, roasted potatoes with garlic and onion, and — for dessert — macaroons.

In his annual Passover message Friday, Obama tied the Exodus story to the US Civil Rights struggle in America, saying the tale “has inspired countless generations over the years.”

“The Israelites’ journey to freedom required them to choose faith over fear and courage over complacency,” he said after sending his and First Lady Michelle’s greetings to Jews in the US, Israel, and around the world.

“Above all, it required the works of an awesome God, who led them out of bondage with a mighty hand and an outstretched arm.

“The story of the Exodus – the signs and wonders that appeared when hope seemed lost, the Jewish people’s abiding belief that they would one day reach the Promised Land – has inspired countless generations over the years. It inspired Jewish families to hold fast to their faith, even during times of terrible persecution. It inspired young Civil Rights leaders as they marched across an Alabama bridge in search of their own Promised Land, half a century ago.”

The Exodus from Egypt continues to inspire today, said Obama.

“Like the Israelites who Moses led out of slavery long ago, it is up to us to never lose faith in the better day that lies ahead. In our own country, we can continue our march toward a more perfect union. Around the world, we can seek to extend the miracles of freedom and peace, prosperity and security, to more of God’s creation. And together, we can continue the hard but awesome work of tikkun olam, and do our part to repair the world.”

Read more: Obamas host 7th White House Seder | The Times of Israel http://www.timesofisrael.com/obamas-host-7th-white-house-seder/#ixzz3WOhZq9XO

AND FROM THE MONDAY,, APRIL 6 EDITION OF THE TIMES OF ISRAEL

“I would consider it a failure on my part, a fundamental failure of my presidency, if on my watch or as a consequence of work that I’ve done, Israel was rendered more vulnerable.” — Barack Obama

AND FROM YNET NEWS

Obama: If anybody messes with Israel, America will be there

President says rift with Israel pained him on a personal level, maintains Iran will not get a nuclear weapon while he is in power.

US President Barack Obama sought to allay Israeli fears over the agreement the US and other world powers have reached with Iran on its nuclear program, telling the New York Times on Sunday that “if anybody messes with Israel, America will be there.”

The president’s comments come in his seventh year in office and days after the tentative agreement to curb Iran’s nuclear program in exchange for sanctions relief. The framework cleared the way for negotiators to work out technical details ahead of a June 30 deadline for a final deal.

“I have to respect the fears that the Israeli people have,” Obama said, “and I understand that Prime Minister (Benjamin) Netanyahu is expressing the deep-rooted concerns that a lot of the Israeli population feel about this, but what I can say to them is: Number one, this is our best bet by far to make sure Iran doesn’t get a nuclear weapon, and number two, what we will be doing even as we enter into this deal is sending a very clear message to the Iranians and to the entire region that if anybody messes with Israel, America will be there.”

Netanyahu has repeatedly warned that the deal endangers Israel’s existence, and has listed the issues he believes would turn a “bad deal” into a “good deal”, which would roll back Iran’s nuclear capabilities to a greater extent.

Barack Obama talks to the Times
Barack Obama talks to the Times

Obama acknowledged that his pursuit of diplomacy with Tehran has caused a strain between the two states, but that the he remains committed to Israel’s security. He maintained that the agreement with Iran was a “once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to see whether or not we can at least take the nuclear issue off the table.

“Now, what you might hear from Prime Minister Netanyahu, which I respect, is the notion, ‘Look, Israel is more vulnerable. We don’t have the luxury of testing these propositions the way you do,’ and I completely understand that,” Obama said.

“But what I would say to them is that not only am I absolutely committed to making sure that they (Israel) maintain their qualitative military edge … what I’m willing to do is to make the kinds of commitments that would give everybody in the neighborhood, including Iran, a clarity that if Israel were to be attacked by any state, that we would stand by them.

The president told the Times that the rift with Israel and accusations that he has sold out the country had pained him greatly.

“It has been personally difficult for me to hear … expressions that somehow … this administration has not done everything it could to look out for Israel’s interest,” he said, but insisted that the agreement with Iran was the most effective measure possible.

“What I would say to the Israeli people is … that there is no formula, there is no option, to prevent Iran from getting a nuclear weapon that will be more effective than the diplomatic initiative and framework that we put forward — and that’s demonstrable.”

The president is casting the Iran talks as part of a broader foreign policy doctrine that sees American power as a safeguard that gives him the ability to take calculated risks.

Obama argued that successful negotiations presented the most effective way to keep Iran from obtaining a nuclear weapon, but insisted he would keep all options on the table if Tehran were to violate the terms.

“I’ve been very clear that Iran will not get a nuclear weapon on my watch, and I think they should understand that we mean it,” Obama said. “But I say that hoping that we can conclude this diplomatic arrangement — and that it ushers a new era in US-Iranian relations — and, just as importantly, over time, a new era in Iranian relations with its neighbors.”

The president said there are many details that still need to be worked out with the Iranians and cautioned that there would be “real political difficulties” in implementing an agreement in both countries. He reiterated his opposition to a legislation that would give the US Congress final say in approving or rejecting a deal, but said he hoped to find a path to allow Congress to “express itself.

The White House plans an aggressive campaign to sell the deal to Congress, as well as to skeptical Arab allies who worry about Iran’s destabilizing activity in the region. The president has invited leaders of six Gulf nations to Washington this spring and said he wanted to “formalize” US assistance.

On the substance of the Iran framework agreement, Obama outlined more specifics of how the US would seek to verify that Tehran wasn’t cheating. He said there would be an “international mechanism” that would assess whether there needed to be an inspection at a suspicious site and could overrule Iranian objections.

The nuclear talks have marked a remarkable shift in the frozen relationship between the U.S. and Iran. It has become normal for officials from both countries to communicate and hold face-to-face meetings. Obama is yet to meet with Iranian President Hassan Rouhani, though they did speak on the phone. He has also exchanged letters with Iran’s Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei.

Obama said the letters include “a lot of reminders of what he perceives as past grievances against Iran.” But he said the concessions Khamenei allowed his negotiators to make in the nuclear talks suggests that “he does realize that the sanctions regime that we put together was weakening Iran over the long term, and that if in fact he wanted to see Iran re-enter the community of nations, then there were going to have to be changR

This Is How Every Gun Store in America Should Have to Operate! (VIDEO)

Thinking about buying a gun? Think about that gun’s history.  It’s a myth to think that the majority of people in this country killed by guns are bad guys.  The majority of gun victims are good guys killed by the gun of the good guy/woman!  Enough of the insanity already; enough of lies told by the NRA and the gun industry.  We need common sense and good police departments more than we need to have everyone to own a lethal weapon.

The World To Come: A Gorgeous Glimpse of What Peace in the Middle East Might Look Like (VIDEO)

(reprinted from Jewniverse)

A Classic Seder Song Like You've Never Heard it Before

Can music change the world? Create peace? For some, that might be marketing copy. For the members of Diwan Saz, an incredibly skilled multi-faith and multi-ethnic 9-piece band, it seems to be an earnestly held belief. Part of its name, “diwan,” means “coming together of people” in Turkish, and Diwan Saz practices what it preaches: its members are Christian, Muslim, Jewish; Bedouin, Turkish, Israeli, Palestinian, and Iranian, and bring together these often tense strands of the Middle East to embrace the common influences behind many of the region’s musical traditions.

The video below was made at a Diwan Saz 2014 concert in Jerusalem.  Notice how this mixed audience of Jews and Arabs celebrate and experience the sheer beauty and joy of the music together!  Olam Habah!  Soon, please.

Artist Nina Paley’s Beautiful Animation of the Ten Plagues

Death_of_the_Firstborn_Egyptians_on_Vimeo

I promise, you’ll enjoy Nina’s beautiful animation and want to share it with others. Chag Sameach~  MG

The Ten Plagues of Egypt

From Nina Paley’s Blog

Here they are, in order, in time for Passover: all Ten Plagues I animated for Seder-Masochism, my feature-film-in-progress. Yes, they will be joined together by a unifying narrative device in the final film, but for now they exist as separate clips. Click on each one for more information and higher resolution.

 

Indiana GOP: But We Put Lots of Perfume on This Skunk! How Dare You Say It Stinks (VIDEO)

GOP leaders in Indiana are doing verbal somersaults  trying to defend their “It’s OK to discriminate against anyone you don’t like” law.  In today’s edition of The Atlantic,  Garret Epps does a fact check on their argument that the Indiana law is no different that Religious Freedom Restoration Act bills passed by the Federal government and 25 other states.  Garret definitively identifies clauses in the Indiana law that make it OK for businesses to refuse service to anyone under the guise of protecting their religious beliefs.

In this video, two Indiana Republican House leaders ineffectually dodge the question, “doesn’t this bill allow business to discriminate against LGBT people?” Yes,” is the response,  BUT ONLY if you are living in a county that does not has a human rights ordinance.

Wanna bet how many counties in the Hoosier State have human rights ordinance that protects LGBT people?

In other words, in pandering to most intolerant, simple-minded folks in the state, Indiana Republicans passed a bill that gives bigots the right to act on their hate.  Now that the stupidity of their move is evident to the world, they want you to believe that they are just the latest innocent Christians being thrown to the lions.

“We’re dosing this skunk with as much perfume as we can, why do you keep calling it a stinker?”