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One Serious Problem Gone (Jewish Journal, February 1, 2012)

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The City Council's Shameless Pander (The Wide Angle, October 20, 2011)

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Stout Awards Honors Olney, Morrison and Mantle (The Wide Angle, October 20, 2011)

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Dance With Who Brung ‘Ya (Jewish Journal, September 28, 2011)

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Jury Got It Right in the ‘Irvine 11’ Case (The OC Register, September 23, 2011)

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'Irvine 11' Muslim student protesters found guilty on both charges (KPCC’s Airtalk, September 23, 2011)

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Voting Rights Act Outdated in Modern Day LA (The Daily News, August 21, 2011)

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What Los Angeles Can Teach the UK (BBC News World, August 15, 2011)

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When Did Carrying An ID Become A “White Thing”? (The OC Register, August 15, 2011)

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Bill Crafts Disneyland Version of History (The Sacramento Bee, July 14, 2011)

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An Education Game Changer (The Wide Angles, July 12 2011)

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A Flotilla of Fools (The Wide Angle Blog, July 8, 2011)

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Advocacy, the Academy and Mushy Thinking (The Wide Angle Blog, July 1, 2011)

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Tragic Fiction comes to Life (The Wide Angle, June 23, 2011)

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Coalition Sues to Keep Circumcision Ban Off Ballot (The Jewish Journal, June 22, 2011)

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The Circumcision Wars (The Wall Street Journal, June 3, 2011)

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Male Circumcision Ban Proposed in Santa Monica (The Jerusalem Post, May 25, 2011)

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Right Goal, Wrong Strategy (The Wide Angle Blog, May 11, 2011)

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The Bus Has Left the Station (City Journal, April 1, 2011)

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UCLA Leads the Pack (The Wide Angle Blog, March 29, 2011)

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Mixed Race Marriages and Our Attitudes (The Wide Angles, March 25, 2011)

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The Uncle Tom Accusation, Again (The Wide Angle Blog, March 18, 2011)

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A Forward Looking Decision in Civil Rights (The Wide Angle Blog, March 9, 2011)

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A Rising Wave of Anti-Semitism (Los Angeles Times, September 16, 2009)

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The Wide Angle, A Community Advocates Blog (July - September, 2009)

July… August… September…

Israeli Consul General, Palestinian Lobbyist Reach Mock Peace Agreement (Jewish Journal of Greater Los Angeles, May 6, 2009)

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Critical Issues Seminar—Mock Peace Summit in conjunction with the National Center for the Preservation of Democracy and KPCC (KPCC's Airtalk, April 29, 2009)

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In Battle Between Teachers, LAUSD, It’s the Kids Who Lose (Daily News, March 6, 2009)

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L.A. at the Tipping Point (www.RonKaye.LA, February 13, 2009)

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Theatrics by the Teachers (Daily News, February 8, 2009)

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Chicago Vs. Los Angeles Their Supe Is Obama’s New Education Man. Our Supe is Nice But… (LA Weekly, January 23, 2009)

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Critical Issues Seminar—Millennials Remaking America with KPCC (KPCC's Airtalk, January 21, 2009)

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The Good News About Gaza in America (Jewish Journal of Greater Los Angeles, January 21, 2009)

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What Oakland Should be Protesting (Los Angeles Times, January 19, 2009)

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Calling All Radical Reformers to LAUSD (Daily News, December 14, 2008)

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Attention Politicians: Pandering Won’t Fly (Jewish Journal of Greater Los Angeles, November 12, 2008)

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Presentation to Ayaan Hirsi Ali of Ziegler Prize for Courage of Conviction (Japan American Theatre, October 22, 2008)

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The Problems and Potential of South L.A., A Dust-Up Exchange between Joe R. Hicks and Earl Ofari Hutchinson (Los Angeles Times, August 11-15, 2008)

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Find Fresh Ideas to Battle Hate, Letter to the Editor (Los Angeles Times, August 4, 2008)

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Fast Food Freeze is a Good Choice for South LA by Jan Perry, Los Angeles Times, August 4, 2008)

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Do You Want Poppycock With That? by Tim Rutten (Los Angeles Times, August 2, 2008)

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Fast-food Moratorium is Meddling (Los Angeles Times, July 31, 2008)

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Critical Issues Seminar on the Role of Race in the 2008 Elections in conjunction with the National Center for the Preservation of Democracy and KPCC (KPCC's Airtalk, June 27, 2008)

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Shalom is not Funny (Letter to the Editor, Los Angeles Downtown News, June 23, 2008)

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A Dangerous and Precedent Setting Intrusion (Jewish Journal, June 13, 2008)

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“Ziman and Lee” (Jewish Journal of Greater Los Angeles, May 16, 2008

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We Don’t Need More Gabfests on Diversity (Jewish Journal of Greater Los Angeles, May 2, 2008)

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Families Deserve More than a Moratorium (Los Angeles Times, Blowback, April 10, 2008)

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On Any Given Sunday, Rev. Wright is Wrong (www.theroot.com, March 26, 2008)

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Obama’s Minister (KPCC’s Airtalk, March 18, 2008)

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LA Gang Violence Spikes (Associated Press, March 6, 2008)

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Critical Issues Seminar on The State of the Black Civil Rights Movement Today in conjunction with the Los Angeles Public Library and KPCC (KPCC's Airtalk, February)

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Asking Too Much (Los Angeles Times, January 31, 2008)

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Playing a Frayed and Faded Race Card (Jewish Journal, January 18, 2008)

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Limiting Fast Food Outlets---Path to Better Health? (KCET’s Life & Times, December 20, 2007)

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The State Bar and Revealing Data on Minority Passage Rates (KCET’s Life & Times, December 18, 2007)

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Divisions in the Jewish Community—Talking About Jerusalem (KCET’s Life & Times, December 12, 2007)

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Do Los Angeles’ Anti-Gang Programs Work? (KCET’s Life & Times, December 6, 2007)

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Sharpton Leads Call for Federal Investigation of Hate Crimes (Los Angeles Times, November 17, 2007)

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Race Card Backlash (Los Angeles Times, October 30, 2007)

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Critical Issues Seminar on Charter Schools in conjunction with the National Center for the Preservation of Democracy and KPCC (KPCC's Airtalk, October 5, 2007)

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The Private Lives of Public Officials (KCET’s Life & Times, Kitchen Table Conversation, October 2, 2007)

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“Smart Growth” and Los Angeles Planning (KCET’s Life & Times, Kitchen Table Conversation, September 20, 2007)

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Civil Rights in Louisiana (To the Point, KCRW-FM, September 20, 2007)

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The Racial/Ethnic Educational Achievement Gap (KCET’s Life & Times, Kitchen Table Conversation, September 12, 2007)

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Board Vote Not Aimed At Students (Los Angeles Daily News, September 9, 2007)

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Healthcare Reform and Politics (KCET’s Life & Times, Kitchen Table Conversation, September 5, 2007)

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The Constitution and Sex Offenders (KCET’s Life & Times, Kitchen Table Conversation, August 30, 2007)

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‘Profiles in Courage’ ( Jewish Journal, August 24, 2007)

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Where’s the Fire? (Washington Post, August 2, 2007)

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Race and Politics in a Changing South LA (KCET’s Life & Times, Kitchen Table Conversation, June 20, 2007)

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Gangsta Rap and its Impact (KCET’s Life & Times, Kitchen Table Conversation, June 13, 2007)

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Mexican Americans and Drunk Driving (KCET’s Life & Times, Kitchen Table Conversation, June 6, 2007)

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Baseball and the Decline in African-American Players (KCET’s Life & Times, Kitchen Table Conversation, May 30, 2007)

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Los Angeles Unified’s New Board (KCET’s Life & Times, Kitchen Table Conversation, May 23, 2007)

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Hollywood and its Impact on Political Discourse (KCET’s Life & Times, Kitchen Table Conversation, May 16, 2007)

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New Times and the NAACP (KCET’s Life & Times, Kitchen Table Conversation, May 9, 2007)

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Downtown Homeless and the LAPD (KCET’s Life & Times, Kitchen Table Conversation, May 2, 2007)

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Immigration and the new Sanctuary Movement (KCET’s Life & Times, Kitchen Table Conversation, April 25, 2007)

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The Teachers’ Union and School Reform, (KCET’s Life & Times, Kitchen Table Conversation, April 18, 2007)

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Drop the Race Card (Washington Post, April 15, 2007)

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The Takeover of the Times (KCET’s Life & Times, Kitchen Table Conversation, April 11, 2007)

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The Governor’s Health Care Plan (KCET’s Life & Times, Kitchen Table Conversation, March 28, 2007)

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Racism in the LA Fire Department? (KCET’s Life & Times, Kitchen Table Conversation, March 14, 2007)

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Critical Issues Seminar in conjunction with the National Center for the Preservation of Democracy and KPCC (KPCC's Airtalk, February 26, 2007)

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“Has the Nanny State Gone Too Far?” (KCET’s Life & Times, Kitchen Table Conversation, February 28, 2007)

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“Justice Takes A Beating In Long Beach Racial Hatred Case” ( Jewish Journal, February 16, 2007)

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“Gang ‘Marshall Plan’ - Will It Work?” (KCET’s Life & Times’ Kitchen Table Conversation, February 14, 2007)

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“Living Wages or Dying Businesses?” (KCET’s Life & Times Kitchen Table Conversation, January 31, 2007)

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“Gangs of New York and LA” (Jewish Journal of Los Angeles, January 26, 2007)

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KCET’s Life & Times transcript of Kitchen-table Conversation regarding “The Future of the Middle Class in Los Angeles” (Life & Times, January 17, 2007)

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“Does Abe Foxman Have An Anti-Anti-Semite Problem?”, (New York Times Magazine, January 14, 2007)

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KCET’s Life & Times Transcript of Kitchen-table Conversation regarding “Military Recruitment on Campus---Right or Wrong?” January 3, 2007

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KCET’s Life & Times Transcript of Kitchen-table Conversation regarding “Is There An Assault on Christmas?” December 13, 2006

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Racism Claims a Stretch" (Daily News, December 1, 2006)

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KCET’s Life & Times Transcript of Kitchen-table Conversation regarding “What is Racism Today?” November 29, 2006

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"Racism in Entertainment", (KCRW's "Which Way LA?", November 27,2006)

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KCET’s Life & Times Transcript of Kitchen-table Conversation regarding “Border Fence---Boondogle or Barrier?” (life & Times, November 15, 2006)

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“LA’s Jews and Other Minorities---Oh How They Danced” (Los Angeles Jewish Journal, November 11, 2006)

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KCET's Life & Times Transcript of Kitchen-table Conversation regarding "Racial Profiling and a National ID Card" (Life & Times, October 18, 2006)

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Critical Issues Seminar in conjunction with the National Center for the Preservation of Democracy and KPCC (KPCC's Airtalk, October 9, 2006)

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KCET's Life & Times Transcript of Kitchen-table Conversation regarding "Immigration Debate Divides Conservatives" (Life & Times, October 5, 2006)

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KCET's Life & Times Transcript of Kitchen-table Conversation regarding "Drugs in Sports" (Life & Times, October 3, 2006)

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Award Dispute", KPCC's Airtalk, September 15,2006

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"Two Faced On Terrorism", Los Angeles Times, September 14, 2006

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Award to Islamic Leader Hathout Stirs Dispute", KCRW's Which Way LA?, September 14, 2006

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KCET's Life & Times Transcript of Kitchen-table Conversation regarding "California's High School Exit Exam?", ( Life & Times, August 23, 2006)

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"4 Los Angeles Latino Gang Members Convicted of Anti-Black Conspiracy" (Los Angeles Times, August 2, 2006)

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"Muslim Council's Bias All Too Clear" (Los Angeles Daily News, August 1, 2006)

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KCET's Life & Times transcript of Kitchen-table Conversation regarding "UCLA's Minority Admissions, (Life & Times, July 19, 2006)

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KCET's Life & Times Transcript of Kitchen-table Conversation regarding "Celebrity Causes--Ego or Altruism?", ( Life & Times, July 13, 2006)

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Did Anti-Semitism Take Root at the South Central Farm? (Jewish Journal, June 23,2006)

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KCET's Life & Times Transcript of Kitchen-table Conversations regarding Immigration and Employment (Life & Times, June 21,2006)

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KCET's Life & Times transcript of news segment on the South Los Angeles Farm controversy (Life & Times, June 6, 2006)

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KCET's Life & Times transcript of Kithcen-table Conversation regarding the Mayoral takeover of the Los Angeles Unified School District (Life & Times, June 6, 2006)

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Letter to the Editor regarding Race, Religion, and Demographic Change (Los Angeles Times, June 4, 2006)

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KCET's Life & Times transcript of Kitchen-table Conversation regarding Hybrid Cars and Energy Conservation (Life & Times, May 23, 2006)

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KCET's Life & Times transcript of Kitchen-table Conversation regarding Teen Sex (Life & Times, May 18, 2006)

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KCET's Life & Times transcript of Kitchen-table Conversation regarding Black Brown Tensions in LA (Life & Times, May 2, 2006)

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Debate education policy, not race (Los Angeles Times, April 22, 2006)

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KCET's Life & Times transcript of Kitchen-table Conversation regarding Fatherless Parenting (Life & Times, April 11, 2006)

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Border Protests Not Fight for Civil Rights (Jewish Journal of Greater Los Angeles, April 7, 2006)

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KCET's Life & Times transcript of Kitchen-table Conversation regarding Black-Brown tensions (Life & Times, April 4, 2006)

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Civil Rights? How About Lawlessness? (Los Angeles Times, April 1, 2006)

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KCET's Life & Times transcript of Kitchen-table Conversation regarding Immigration (Life & Times, March 30, 2006)

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Differing Views of Race in L.A. Collide in 'Crash' (Los Angeles Times, March 2, 2006)

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Disputed Film Draws Muted Response (Jewish Journal of Greater Los Angeles, February 10, 2006)

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Blacks vs. Latinos at Work (Wall Street Journal, January 24, 2006)

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The Munich Concern Is Us--Not Film (Jewish Journal of Greater Los Angeles, January 20, 2006) with Dr. Michael Berenbaum

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NAACP Leader Turned Heads By Backing Tookie (Baltimore Sun, January 15, 2006) Joe Hicks quoted

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Munich Portrays Real World Issues (Jewish Journal of Greater Los Angeles, December 23,2005), with Dr. Michael Berenbaum

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New Farrakhan Embodies Old Message (Los Angeles Jewish Journal, October 21, 2005)

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Levees Let Loose An Ugly Flood of Black Paranoia (Los Angeles Times, October 2, 2005)

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Lessons From the Ruins (LA Weekly, August 12, 2005)

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Let's Make A Diploma Mean Something (Los Angeles Times, August 27, 2005)

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Police Beating of Minister Disputed (Los Angeles Times, August 27, 2005)

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We Only Burned Ourselves, Baby (Los Angeles Times, August 7, 2005)

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Knee-jerk Activists and Their Tantrum Politics (Los Angeles Times, July 24, 2005)

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"Crash" Is No Picture of the Real Los Angeles (Los Angeles Daily News, June 24, 2005)

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Hit Film Paints Inaccurate Picture of Diverse LA (89.3 KPCC Perspectives, June 23, 2005)
Joe Hicks, the vice president of Community Advocates, says the hit movie Crash ...
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Jackson Trial Reaction Shows How Unimportant Race Is in US (Los Angeles Daily News, June 19, 2005)

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"Reel Life" (Jewish Journal of Greater Los Angeles, June 10, 2005)

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Joe Hicks talks about the election results (89.3 KPCC AirTalk, May 18, 2005)
with KPCC's Larry Mantle and reporter Adolfo Guzman Lopez, Sherry Bebitch Jeffe, Raphe Sonenshein, Bill Rosendahl, Rick Caruso, Antonia Hernandez, , Joel Kotkin and D.J. Waldie.
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  David A. Lehrer
Joe R. Hicks
 
Latest Headlines
 

Coalition Sues to Keep Circumcision Ban Off Ballot (The Jewish Journal, June 22, 2011)


The Jewish-led coalition working to defeat a San Francisco ballot measure that would ban circumcision there filed a lawsuit on Wednesday morning asking the city to remove the proposition from the ballot entirely.

The ballot measure, which would make circumcision for any reason-including religious belief-a misdemeanor, was formally approved for inclusion on the November 2011 ballot by the San Francisco Department of Elections last month.

The suit was filed in California Superior Court on June 22 by a group of plaintiffs that included two Jewish community organizations, three local Jewish families, one Muslim family and two doctors. It is just the latest salvo in a multifront battle to defeat a ballot measure that many in the Jewish community say would interfere with their religious practice and their autonomy as parents.

"It's taking away our rights to decide privately all the things we want for our children, whether it's medically or religiously," plaintiff Jenny Benjamin said in an interview.

Benjamin, a resident of San Francisco and mother of two young children, and her husband, Jeremy, both of whom are Jewish, were recruited by the Committee for Parental Choice and Religious Freedom to stand as plaintiffs in today's lawsuit. That coalition, which is being led by Abby Michelson Porth of the Bay Area's Jewish Community Relations Council, also arranged a press conference on the steps of San Francisco's City Hall at 11 a.m. on Wednesday to announce the filing.

The lawsuit cites a state law that denies California cities the power to "prohibit a healing arts professional licensed within the state ... from engaging in any act or performing any procedure that falls within the professionally recognized scope of practice of that licensee."

That law, together with a 1991 appellate court decision that affirmed a city's right to deny initiatives a place on the ballot if the resulting laws cannot be enacted, forms the basis for plaintiffs' lawsuit.

Michael Jacobs, a partner at the law firm Morrison and Foerster, is leading the case. "The law is clear," Jacobs said in a statement released by the coalition. "It is misleading to San Francisco's electorate to put an initiative on the ballot where they lack the power to enact it.

"By prevailing in this lawsuit," Jacobs continued, "we will protect doctors against being charged with a misdemeanor for carrying out a routine and beneficial medical procedure. We will also protect parents' choice to make medical decisions for their children. And we will protect faith communities against efforts to restrict religious freedom."

Jacobs, the other plaintiffs and many opponents of the ballot measure speak frequently about the ways a citywide ban on circumcision would infringe upon religious freedom, but the legal precedent cited by Wednesday's lawsuit comes from a section of the California Business and Professions Code having nothing to do with religion. Subsection 460 (b) was enacted by a 2009 law sponsored by the California Veterinary Medical Association (CVMA) to stop cities from banning the declawing of cats.

The Paw Project, a Santa Monica-based nonprofit educational organization, inspired the City of West Hollywood to ban feline declawing in 2003.

When other California cities began considering legislation similar to West Hollywood's in 2009, the CVMA made its legislative push, culminating in the passage of a law that stops cities from interfering with the work of any "healing arts professional licensed within the state."

That language is broad enough to include veterinarians and doctors, said Sarah R. Wolk, a partner at the Glendale-based law firm WLF Lawyers. For Jewish ritual circumcisers, known as mohelim, the situation is less clear.

"Circumcisions performed by doctors or those licensed and regulated by Division 2 of the Business and Professions Code could probably not be banned," Wolk wrote in an e-mail. "But, a 'healing arts professional' would not include circumcisions performed by non-professionals or professionals licensed by other private governing bodies, and would therefore not prohibit restrictions on such individuals."

This new legal move is only the latest action in the widening fight to defeat the San Francisco ban. Last week, Rep. Brad Sherman and California State Assemblyman Mike Gatto announced plans to introduce legislation in Washington, D.C., and Sacramento that would prohibit cities from banning male circumcision nationwide and in California, respectively.

The goal of all of these efforts is to have the ballot initiative thrown out before it ever reaches the citizens of San Francisco. But David Lehrer, president of Community Advocates, Inc., said it wasn't clear that such maneuvers were the way to go.

"It's not clear what the most effective strategy is," he said. "Dealing with it through legislation could be counterproductive-more discussion and debate over what should be a nonissue. It's probably a very close call, assuming the legislation is effective."

As of press time, neither piece of legislation had been formally introduced.

More discussion and debate is exactly what anti-circumcision activist-or "intactivist"-Jews are hoping for. Ronald Goldman, the founder of the Boston-based Jewish Circumcision Resource Center and the author of "Questioning Circumcision: A Jewish Perspective," said he was frustrated that the media's coverage of the progress of the ban in San Francisco did not say more about the medical claims in favor and against circumcision.

"The issue becomes should we have a law, or what should be done to stop a law," Goldman said. "Where's the discussion of the harm circumcision causes?"

Intactivists like Goldman contend that circumcision is "physically, sexually and psychologically harmful," and they believe that Americans, Jews and the members of the American medical establishment are simply in denial about the damage circumcision can cause.

In the hopes of redirecting the conversation, Goldman and eight other Jewish intactivists from around the country released "A Message to Jewish Americans on Circumcision" on June 20.

Circumcision is widespread among Jews and is traditionally performed on the eighth day of a baby boy's life; Goldman and his cosigners say that "a growing number of Jews in the U.S., South America, Europe, and Israel are making the decision not to circumcise their infants," the statement read.

The statement also included a remark indirectly disavowing "Foreskin Man," the comic book created one of the backers of San Francisco's ballot initiative, Matthew Hess, which was roundly critiqued as anti-Semitic.

"Unfortunately, there may be statements and tactics by individuals opposed to circumcision that are insensitive and even offensive to many Jews," the statement read. "We regret this and absolutely reject all statements or actions, often based on ignorance, that are disrespectful of any religion or ethnic group."

When asked, Goldman said that remark was not just a rejection of "Foreskin Man," but also of the entire effort to ban circumcision in San Francisco.

"The statement is intended to refer to any and everything that is insensitive or offensive to the Jewish community," Goldman said.

Members of the coalition fighting against the San Francisco ballot measure regularly dispute intactivist claims that circumcision causes harm. Indeed, they attribute numerous health benefits to the practice.

"Circumcision is a medically safe practice," plaintiff Brian McBeth, a doctor in the department of emergency medicine at San Francisco General Hospital, said in the statement released today. Circumcision is, McBeth continued, "endorsed by the World Health Organization and other major medical and public health institutions because of the scientifically proven health benefits, including the reduction of transmission of HIV, penile cancer, and urinary tract infections, as well as cervical cancer in women whose partners are circumcised."

Winning the fight over the medical benefits that some attribute to circumcision will be vital to the success of the coalition's lawsuit, in part because legal experts doubt the ballot measure could be challenged under the First Amendment, which protects the free exercise of religion.

"I think it's an outrageous infringement on religious freedom, but I think it would be very hard to challenge under the First Amendment," said Erwin Chemerinksy, founding dean of the University of California, Irvine School of Law.

This apparent paradox, Chemerinsky said, can be traced back to a 1990 Supreme Court decision, Employment Division v. Smith, which allowed states to restrict certain religious practices, provided that the laws they drafted were applicable to everyone and not motivated by the desire to interfere with religion.

Chemerinsky said the proposed ban on circumcision met both of those criteria.

"It would be hard to argue that the circumcision ban is motivated by the desire to interfere with religion," Chemerinsky said. "That is clearly the effect, but it's not its purpose. And it's clearly of general applicability as well. It prohibits all parents-not just Jewish parents-from circumcising their sons."

 

 
   
 
 
   

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