Shutting down d­iscussion

Rather than carry on the tradition of open discussion among groups, Jewish groups were attacked at this year’s Creating Change


Creating Change attendees protested the presence of two Israelis from Jerusalem Open House and prevented them from holding a reception after Shabbat services. (Photo courtesy of A Wider Bridge)

DAVID TAFFET    |  Senior Staff Writer

In the wake of controversy over protests outside a reception for Jewish groups at Creating Change in Chicago, a group of rabbis, pastors and LGBT leaders released a letter on Wednesday evening, Jan. 27, condemning events at the annual conference traditionally known as a place where ideas could be openly and respectfully debated.

“The events of Jan. 22 in Chicago were unacceptable and not in accord with the Task Force’s values of pluralism, inclusivity and thoughtful debate,” the letter said.

Among others, the letter was signed by Cathedral of Hope’s senior pastor, the Rev. Neil Cazares-Thomas, Equality Texas chair Steve Rudner, former Rep. Barney Frank, Metropolitan Community Church founder the Rev. Troy Perry and U.S. v. Windsor plaintiff Edie Windsor.

A Wider Bridge, a Jewish group based in San Francisco that promotes pluralism, had planned a Shabbat service on Friday night at Creating Change, with guests from Jerusalem Open House, an LGBT community center in Jerusalem. After three people complained about the appearance of Israelis at Creating Change because of Israel’s treatment of Palestinians, National LGBTQ Executive Director Rea Carey canceled the reception planned by A Wider Bridge.

But attacking Jerusalem Open House for the Palestinian issue in Israel is like blaming an interracial couple in Mississippi for discrimination. Israelis and Palestinians mix more freely at Jerusalem Open House than most other places in the country, according to Tom Canning, development director for Jerusalem Open House.

Protesters accused Israel of “pinkwashing,” the idea that the country promotes its respect for its LGBT community to cover up its deplorable treatment of Palestinians.

Where the planned reception had drawn complaints, its cancellation prompted protests from around the country.

Colorado Congressman Jared Polis tweeted, “There should be room for Israel’s premiere #LGBTQ advocacy group in our community.” And Robbie Kaplan, the attorney who argued U.S. v. Windsor before the U.S. Supreme Court tweeted, “Creating Change creates bias. As a Jew, Zionist & lesbian, I can no longer support NGLTF Very sad,” and later, “I don’t get it. @TheTaskForce keeps sending tweets today as if LGBT Jews were not censored yesterday in terror and fear. Not acceptable.”

The planned reception was then re-instated with what some described as a half-hearted apology from Carey.

“When faced with choices, we should move towards our core value of inclusion and opportunities for constructive dialogue and canceling the reception was a mistake,” Carey wrote. “In reversing the decision today, we want to make it quite clear that the Creating Change Conference will always be a safe space for inclusion and dialogue for people with often widely different views. It was not at all our intention to censor representatives of the Jerusalem Open House or A Wider Bridge at Creating Change and I apologize that our actions left people feeling silenced.”

But safe space wasn’t guaranteed when protesters disrupted the Shabbat service and reception. Jews trying to leave the were physically stopped by protesters.

The letter from rabbis and pastors described what happened: “The targeted organizations’ reception was disrupted and shut down by protesters (including people not attending the conference) with such hostility and aggression that speakers and attendees at the event were justifiably terrified and felt physically threatened.”

One witness said people were shoved, one man’s yarmulke fell to the ground, and others were blocked from leaving the reception while some escaped the room down a hallway through a back door.

“What transpired at CC16 was dangerous, deeply disturbing, and given the use of epithets like ‘kike,’ clearly anti-Semitic,” the religious leaders’ letter continued.

Creating Change, which has been held in Dallas twice, is traditionally a place where a diverse group of LGBT activists have a dialogue on every issue affecting the LGBT community. While attendees don’t necessarily leave agreeing with one another, new alliances do form at the conference and many take away a new understanding of others in the LGBT community.

But A Wider Bridge and Jerusalem Open House never got the opportunity at the conference to explain the work they do.

Rabbi Eleanor Steinman, an educator serving the Los Angeles area, is a former board member of A Wider Bridge. She said the organization’s main goal is to connect the American and Israeli LGBT communities.

Many American LGBT organizations have Israeli counterparts. Like many American cities, Jerusalem and Tel Aviv have community centers. Ma’arivim (which means “evening prayers”) empowers members of the trans community. P-FLAG, the support group for parents, family and friends, has chapters throughout Israel as well. And A
Wider Bridge connects Israel’s LGBT youth groups with American LGBT youth groups.

A Wider Bridge organizes trips for American LGBT activists to meet activists in Israel and the West Bank. Steinman said while other Israeli trips are available, trans men and women especially appreciate going to Israel with A Wider Bridge because they can be comfortable traveling with other trans people and will meet trans Israelis.

She addressed the idea of “pinkwashing” by calling it “the claim perpetuated by the radical left to the detriment of the LGBT community.”

Most of all, Creating Change is traditionally a place for discussion between groups that don’t see eye-to-eye. But when those on one side of an issue shut down those on the other without any discussion, Steinman said, that’s equivalent to what happened during the AIDS crisis when ACT-UP warned, “Silence equals death.”

A Wider Bridge Founder and Executive Director Arthur Slepian said that in addition to connecting people from Jerusalem Open House with activists in the U.S., there was a deeper reason to bring them this year — last summer at Jerusalem Pride, there was a stabbing and murder.

“Their community has been through trauma,” Slepian said. “We thought they’d be embraced. Instead, they were part of the firestorm.”

He said what happened to his group was part of what appears to be a “new ethos” at Creating Change. “It’s OK to shut down voices you disagree with,” he said.

Slepian added that groups that demand “safe space” are the first to take safe space away from those they disagree with, and he called Carey’s statement since the conference to be a good first step.

“She talks about people being encouraged to bring their whole selves to Creating Change,” he said. “I don’t know that anyone who identifies with Israel ever felt comfortable bringing their whole selves.”

This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition January 29, 2016.

—  David Taffet

ADL leader to speak at Beth El Binah at Resource Center


Roberta Clark

Roberta Clark, regional director of the Anti-Defamation League for North Texas and Oklahoma, will speak at Congregation Beth El Binah shabbat service, which takes place at Resource Center, 2701 Reagan St. at 7:30 p.m. tonight (Friday, April 24). Clark’s topic will be Rules, Civil Rights, and Jewish Values.

The Anti-Defamation League was founded in 1913 “to stop the defamation of the Jewish people and to secure justice and fair treatment to all.” Now national civil rights/human relations agency, ADL fights anti-Semitism and all forms of bigotry, defends democratic ideals and protects civil rights for all.

Throughout her ADL career, Clark has developed and implemented the first Interfaith Security Conferences for the Florida and Austin ADL offices; has trained well over 1,000 law enforcement professionals in ADL resources and programs as well as worked closely with them on cases concerning hate groups, extremism and terrorism; worked with dozens of educational institutions and school districts to successfully negotiate church/state issues and to provide trainings in the areas of bullying and cyberbullying; and provided guidance and assistance to community members who believe they have been the victims of discrimination and/or hate crimes.

Clark came to the ADL Dallas office as an Associate Regional Director in September 2008, was appointed Community Director in January 2012 and Regional Director in July 2014.

Everyone is welcome.

—  David Taffet

Ding Dong Fred Phelps is dead


A Phelps grandchild protesting in Dallas

According to the Topeka Capital Journal, hatemonger Fred Phelps is dead.


More coverage in Friday’s paper.

—  David Taffet

Starvoice • 12.31.10

By Jack FertigMel-Gibson-fourth-rant-audio-released


Mel Gibson turns 55 on Monday. After riding years of box office success, karma bit the actor/director in the ass hard. His homophobia and anti-semitism are no secret, but charges of domestic violence and racism throughout 2010 hurt his career. He was dropped by his talent agency and his film Edge of Darkness was considered one of the bigger flops of the year. Mega-ouch.



Sun squaring Saturn adds the weight of age and responsibility, but Venus enters Sagittarius, leading affections and aesthetics toward new adventures. She gets in the middle of that square offering frivolous escape that can too easily complicate problems at hand, but she also offers creative solutions.


CAPRICORN Dec 21-Jan 19
You’re at the top of your game, but what’s next? The answer to that is not as urgent as it may seem. Relax, indulge in a romantic or sensual retreat and the hard questions will gain perspective.

AQUARIUS Jan 20-Feb 18
The world’s troubles are not necessarily your own. Discussing global and personal worries with friends help balance it out. For answers, look across borders and oceans.

PISCES Feb 19-Mar 19
Put your deep, dark imagination to work. Even in a bleak future there are opportunities. Even if the light at the end of the tunnel is an oncoming train, you can ride it out.

ARIES Mar 20-Apr 19
The responsibilities of work and relationships feel oppressive. A romantic adventure is needed. If partnered, plan a getaway. If single, a stern attitude is sexy, but balance it with playful warmth.

TAURUS Apr 20-May 20
As hard as you’ve been working, you’re entitled to a much-needed release. If you really need to beat someone, there are eager victims. Just keep it safe and consensual.

GEMINI May 21-Jun 20
Play only for funsies. Take a chance on love or a passionate facsimile. Incredible sex is no basis for a solid relationship. Take it one day at a time and see what else there is.

CANCER Jun 21-Jul 22
A strong sense of responsibility at home can be a millstone or a motivator. Go with the latter. Once you drag your tush into action, momentum will make the rest of it a lot easier.

LEO Jul 23-Aug 22
Even you have inarticulate moments. Take them as a creative challenge. Playfulness boosts morale and productivity. Too much, not so good. Turn up the jokes and your dazzling smile.

VIRGO Aug 23-Sep 22
Your best investment of time, energy and money is in your own home and community. Think ahead before taking on responsibilities. Spreading good will at home will help build your standing.

LIBRA Sep 23-Oct 22
The weight of the world seems to be on your shoulders. Opportunities can be hard to find, but they’re there. A lighthearted chat with a sister (genetic or otherwise) can help you get perspective.

SCORPIO Oct 23-Nov 21
Life is tough, but don’t let troubles wear you down. When you find yourself worrying, channel that into constructive thought toward a solution. Stick to basics and remember what’s important.

You may be worrying too much about money. Focus on your personal assets, the kind you’d have even if you were penniless and naked. You almost always fare better than most.

This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition December 31, 2010.

—  Kevin Thomas

'God hates Jews' is the new theme for 'America's most hated family'

God Hates Jews

Has God Hates Fags run its course? Fred Phelps seems to have a new target. Or maybe just an additional target.

This week Congregation Beth El Binah, Dallas’ LGBT Jewish congregation, received a package labeled “Obama Hates Israel.” The return address was simply “WBC” with a Topeka, Kan., address. “WBC” is Westboro Baptist Church.

The DVD inside the package is labeled “Jews Killed Jesus.”

—  David Taffet

Vatican compares child abuse scandal to anti-Semitism


The Vatican is saying that accusations against the pope and the Catholic Church in the sex abuse scandal are like the “collective violence” suffered by the Jews. The Associated Press reported that the Pope defended the church against the current scandal.

The comparison is heinous. The Vatican is comparing criminal activity by members of their church to the murder of Jews during the Holocaust, the Inquisition and other periods of history.

Most disgusting part of the comparison is that another group targeted in large numbers during the Holocaust were priests and nuns. To compare those killed by the Nazis to those abusing children is unconscionable.

The Vatican continues to ignore one teeny little fact. Molesting children is criminal, as well as immoral. Sheltering those who committed those crimes is also a criminal activity. And no one is accusing ALL priests of doing these things.

Speaking for the Vatican, Rev. Raniero Cantalamessa continues to show his ignorance by talking about the “coincidence” that Passover falls the same week as Easter celebrations.

The Last Supper was a Passover Seder. The two holidays inextricably intertwined. But history seems to have to relevance to this Vatican.

Prosecuting child molesters is no different to this pope than slaughtering people because of their religion. I didn’t realize that child abuse was a Catholic value and that stopping it makes law enforcement officials in countries around the world anti-Catholic.

If the pope wants to make a comparison, he might trying comparing the surviving victims of abuse by priests to survivors of anti-Semitic hatred.vzlomat-wifi.comиндексация в гугл

—  David Taffet