Jewish Community Centers, known for their fitness facilities and child care services, are increasingly becoming the target of protesters taking issue with the artistic programs they offer. In Washington, a new grassroots organization is calling on the local federation to adopt guidelines that will withhold funding from the JCC if the center’s theater puts on plays that “denigrate Israel and undermine its legitimacy.”36
As a young boy, Julian Schnabel accompanied his parents to a grand Broadway theater to see a screening of “Exodus” — the 1960 melodrama that depicts the founding of the state of Israel. During a scene in which Jewish refugees launch into a celebratory rendition of “Hatikvah,” Schnabel recalls how moviegoers, his family included, leapt to their feet, put their hands over their hearts and sang along.49
On a recent late-winter afternoon, the workers’ center on the second floor of a nondescript office building in New York City’s Chinatown was full and busy. Everyone had just eaten lunch; warm soup was welcome after picketing in the cold outside an offending restaurant, Saigon Grill on Manhattan’s Upper West Side. In the rear of the small office suite, with worn blue industrial carpet underfoot and inspirational posters bearing Mandarin Chinese writing on the walls, a circle of Saigon Grill’s delivery men discussed how to deal with what they called their employer’s latest affronts.
Jerusalem, a city that lives both in physical space and in the imagination, has always intrigued James Carroll. It is a place rooted in history, the foundation stone for the three monotheistic religions. But it is also an idea, an aspiration to perfection, the original city on the hill.
When representatives of the United States, Russia, the European Union and the United Nations — known collectively as the Middle East Quartet — arrived here for crucial meetings in March, they met, as usual, with the Palestinians in Ramallah. And, as usual, Saeeb Erekat, the indefatigable Middle East negotiator who has led the Palestinian side in peace talks since the mid 1990s, represented the Palestinians.
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