Your Daily Phil: L.A.’s Iranian Jews mobilizing to support women’s rights protests
Good Monday morning!
Today’s Your Daily Phil, we report on how Jewish groups in L.A. are uniting in support of the Iran protests, and feature an op-ed by Rabbi Marla Feldman and Lillie Heyman on a Reform Jewish group’s response to sexual assault. Also in this newsletter: Laurie M. Tisch, The Jewish Agency’s Doron Almog, Peter and Isabel Malkin and Matt Kahn. We’ll start with a string of advertisers pulling their money from Twitter due to antisemitism on the platform following Elon Musk’s takeover.
After he met with Elon Musk last Tuesday, Anti-Defamation League CEO Jonathan Greenblatt told our partner publication, Jewish Insider, that he was “cautiously optimistic” about the new Twitter owner’s commitment to curbing hate speech on the platform.
Just days later, it seems the ADL and other civil rights groups are no longer optimistic. On Friday, the ADL, along with a coalition it spearheaded two years ago to organize a temporary ad boycott on Facebook, called on advertisers to pause their spending on Twitter “because we are profoundly concerned about antisemitism and hate on the platform.”
In a Twitter thread explaining the change of heart, the ADL pointed to a string of antisemitic tweets in recent days by Kanye West, who now goes by Ye, as well as posts by Adam Green, an antisemitic podcaster. The group also expressed concern about massive layoffs at Twitter that have reduced its content moderation team.
“We’ve seen celebrities use Twitter to disseminate antisemitic conspiracy theories and hate to tens of millions of followers,” the ADL wrote in the thread. “Antisemitic extremist groups continue using Twitter to organize and share propaganda.”
Before the ADL’s call to action, some large companies, including General Motors and United Airlines, had already decided to pause their ads on Twitter. Several others announced ad pauses on Friday, including The Volkswagen Group, the beer company Carlsberg Group, camping retailer REI and United Airlines, according to The New York Times. The temporary ad boycott of Facebook, which the ADL and other groups called for in the summer of 2020, included more than 1,200 companies and nonprofits.
On Friday, Musk tweeted that he remained committed to preventing hate speech, and wrote that it had decreased. “Again, to be crystal clear, Twitter’s strong commitment to content moderation remains absolutely unchanged,” he wrote. “In fact, we have actually seen hateful speech at times this week decline *below* our prior norms, contrary to what you may read in the press.”
But hours earlier, the Network Contagion Research Institute, which tracks hate on social media, tweeted that antisemitism had spiked on the platform.
“The NCRI is monitoring a prolific surge in anti-Jewish rhetoric on @Twitter,” the group wrote. “Terms associated with Jew are being tweeted over 5k times per hour. The most engaged tweets are overtly antisemitic.”
Jewish groups in L.A. are uniting to support the Iran protests
Jewish groups in Los Angeles are collaborating to plan a community-wide show of support for the women’s rights protests in Iran, reports Jay Deitcher for eJewishPhilanthropy.
In process: Though the event doesn’t have a set date or a title yet, representatives from the organizations have been flirting with calling it “From Tehrangeles to Iran,” using a common nickname referencing the high percentage of Iranian Angelenos. The WhatsApp group used for the event planning is named “Zan, Zendegi, Azadi,” the slogan affiliated with the movement, which means “Women, Life, Freedom.”
Broad range: The Iranian protest movement was ignited after 22-year-old Mahsa Amini died in a hospital under suspicious circumstances after being arrested by Iran’s morality police for improperly wearing her hijab. The planning committee consists of 14 people stemming from a broad range of organizations. “I think this is the first time in history, or maybe during my time on earth, that the Iranian Federation, the Jewish Federation, Chaya, JIMENA, so many different organizations have come together to do something for Iran in the L.A. greater area,” Rabbi Tarlan Rabizadeh, vice president for Jewish engagement at American Jewish University, told eJP.
Treading lightly: Historically, many Iranian Jews have been sensitive when it comes to public advocacy regarding Iran, careful not to endanger the Jewish community still in the country, which vilifies Zionism and funds terrorism against Israel while claiming it doesn’t have an issue with its Jews. The Jewish community living in Iran has been “impacted by years and years of needing to be silent and navigate the system there to survive,” Mary Kohav, the Los Angeles Jewish federation’s vice president for justice, equity, diversity and inclusion, and community engagement, told eJP.
Women of Reform Judaism says ‘stop’ to sexual harassment and assault
“As the Reform movement reckons with the troubling ethics report that brought to light cases of sexual harassment, abuse and misconduct in Reform institutions, Women of Reform Judaism is stepping up to empower congregational lay leaders to work with their professional partners to create a safe, respectful and affirming culture,” write Rabbi Marla Feldman, executive director of WRJ, and Lillie Heyman, legislative assistant at WRJ and the Religious Action Center, in an opinion piece for eJewishPhilanthropy.
Challenging culture to change: “Grounded in our history of social action and advancing the role of women in Jewish life for over a century, and with sisterhoods in congregations across North America, we have the unique power and perspective to challenge the status quo, support survivors of sexual misconduct and create meaningful change within our communities to ensure that the egregious behaviors that have taken place never happen again. Effecting change requires a multifaceted approach at all levels to create a cultural shift in our Jewish institutions and communities. These approaches include, but are not limited to, implementing comprehensive policies and procedures for reporting and investigating incidents; creating procedures for addressing past cases of abuse/ethics violations that were not properly addressed previously; and providing education to empower individuals to foster more inclusive and supportive communities.”
Standing up for change and starting the conversation: “Our initiative primarily tackles the third approach: education and empowerment. This is not a program or a one-time training; rather, we are intentionally creating an environment for ongoing cultural and ethical awareness, conversation and change… We hope to provide members and lay leaders with the knowledge, tools and resources needed to start the conversation and take action to truly embed these principles in the life and culture of their communities. And let us be clear — this is not just for women; it is for everyone.”
Healing Arts: More than two dozen new murals are now adorning the walls and building exteriors of New York’s hospital system thanks to the Community Mural Project, funded by the Laurie M. Tisch Illumination Fund, which has mobilized local artists to design the murals, reports Julia Gergely in the New York Jewish Week. Tisch explained: “This particular program falls under that wider mission of access and opportunity. In many of the private hospitals there are arts programs — arts educators come in and work with the patients and so on. So part of it was again leveling the playing field and acknowledging that these public hospitals should look better than they look. It’s been widely documented both anecdotally and statistically that art is a way of promoting democracy, of bringing joy, of bringing beauty, of helping people to think in more creative ways. The arts aren’t just for the wealthy or the very well-educated — it has to be for everybody, whether it’s in a museum or hospital or concert hall.” [NYJW]
Shoutout to the Sponsors: Smart sponsorship opportunities can help nonprofits generate revenue, expand audience and strengthen partnerships with other organizations, Sarah Sebastian writes in NonProfitPRO, providing some best practices for sponsorship strategy. “There are two general types of sponsored support for nonprofit events: financial and in-kind. Financial support involves a straightforward donation made specifically to help cover event costs. In-kind donations of venues, equipment, food and more can also offset event costs. In some cases, like donated auction items, in-kind donations help you to directly generate revenue. In exchange for support, sponsors want to be recognized in front of your nonprofit’s audience and have their brands incorporated into your event. …Standard shoutouts and co-branded materials will always work, but offering something unique that drives extra audience engagement is an excellent way to catch a potential sponsor’s attention.” [NonProfitPRO]
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