Urgent Message from Anat Hoffman Irac

January 28, 2013

Click here to write the Prime Minister

Dear Mark,

Israelis went to the polls last week and sent a clear message to the current Prime Minister. Netanyahu will remain Prime Minister, but in a roundabout way, with a greatly reduced party and without a solid majority. In the final tally of the votes, the right block has 61 seats and the left block 59 seats. Parties that advocate for internal-Israeli issues have gained strength at the expense of Netanyahu’s current coalition.

To many people around the world, the sight of 13 (!) political parties entering the Knesset can be confusing. They seem to stand for very narrow issues, a certain constituency, or just the personality of one person. It is also challenging for IRAC to navigate these unclear waters, but it is our job to get in front of as many potential legislators as possible to explain the issues that are important to us and to progressive Jews everywhere.

There is a phenomenon in Israeli politics that is somewhat unique to our country; new parties that burst onto the scene to fill a vacuum or to address a need that isn’t represented by the major parties. In recent years, some of these parties did so well that they ended up being the largest parties in the Knesset and, in one case; they even became the ruling party. But political fortunes in Israel can be fickle. Kadima was the largest party in the last Knesset but now they only have two seats.

In the new Knesset, former TV news anchor Yair Lapid’s “Yesh Atid” (there is a future) party is the second largest and is adding a strong new voice to the Israeli political field. We are optimistic that he will use his time on the national stage to affect the change he spoke about at the IMPJ’s Biennial less than a year ago. In one regard he has already made history. This is the first time that a major political party in Israel brings only new people into the Knesset; none of Yesh Atid’s 19 Knesset members have ever held this office before.

Over the next few weeks, Prime Minister Netanyahu will be busy forming a new government. The election results show that the public is looking for leaders that will push the country in a new direction. Hopefully politicians opposed to equality and pluralism will be retired in favor of a new beginning for pluralism in Israel.

Anat Hoffman
Executive Director, IRAC

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Action Alert: Write the Prime Minster!

Use this link to write current and future Prime Minister Netanyahu to urge him to form a government that will include parties committed to pluralism. Once you have finished you can forward the letter to your friends and post it on your Facebook page and other social media

Is the Jaipur Literary Festival deliberately being targeted?


What is happening in Jaipur?

Last year we were witness to an unseemly reaction to the proposed attendance of Salman Rushdie by Muslim groups who apparently objected to one of the author’s books titled “Satanic Verses”. Curiously Rushdie had been visiting Indian off and on for years. He is also a PIO (Person of Indian Origin). The organizers were harassed and even a complaint was filed with the police by the reactionary forces against four attending authors who had read from the Satanic Verses – Ruchir Joshi, Jeet Thayil, Hari Kunzru and Amitava Kumar; and against the organizers for offending the religious sensibilities of the Muslims.

These same forces somehow overlooked Ayaan Hirsi Ali’s attendance two years ago at the 2010 edition of the festival! It is evident that the mob were not “made aware” of her contribution to world literature and the civil & human rights of women in Islam.

Now at this year’s festival, Ashis Nandy, a noted Indian political psychologist, social theorist, and a contemporary cultural and political critic is at the centre of a controversy. He is believed to have commented in a panel discussion that the OBC, Dalits etc. as most corrupt. That is, basically all lower caste/backward castes are more corrupt.

Many self righteous self appointed gendarmes of political correctness, those who want to exploit this controversy for their own political ends and a slightly breathless media have all but crucified him. Ashis has fled Jaipur city just like the Indian authors who had read parts of Satanic verses at the 2012!

News Update:

–          Additional commissioner of police Biju George Joseph said the organisers were asked to remain in the city as a probe is going on against Nandy and festival producer Sanjoy Roy.

“We asked the organisers not to leave the city in order to complete the probe,” Joseph said.

Confirming the development, Roy said, “I have signed the papers on behalf of the JLF team to comply with the orders.”

An FIR was lodged against Nandy and Roy last Saturday by Rajpal Meena, Chairperson of the SC/ST Rajasthan Manch, after Nandy stoked a controversy with comments that people from OBC, SC and ST were the “most corrupt”.

What a shame that an international literary festival is being deliberately targeted by reactionary forces.

What a shame that the world’s largest democracy is itself prisoner to persons/groups who/that want to muzzle free speech.

What a shame that reactionary forces appear to be targeting the Jaipur Literary Festival.

Live Encounters Magazine February 2013


Here is the link to the Feb Issue which has been brought out early because it is a Special Edition on women’s issues with all women contributors from around the world.

Did you know that one in three women will be beaten or raped in her lifetime – that is one billion abused women. On Valentine’s Day, February 14, 2013, one billion women will dance, dance to highlight the atrocities committed against them, sing for equality, and celebrate freedom of Self. So we have dedicated this issue to ‘The Woman’ and have invited women from across the world to contribute articles on women’s issues. Please share this Special Issue on and by women with your family and friends. Let us begin to be the change.

Kalyani Menon-Sen, Feminist Researcher and Activist, has written the Guest Editorial.

Jemma Purdey, Writer and Mother, throws light on the mass rapes of ethnic Chinese in Indonesia in 1998.

Anat Hoffman, Civil and Human Rights Activist, on Jewish women’s fight for the right to worship at the Wailing Wall on par with the men in Israel

Jill Gocher, international photographer presents her images in celebration of the spirit of woman.

Paula Banerjee, author of Indian Women in Borderlands speaks to Live Encounters on her book.

Natalie Wood, journalist and flash fiction writer, pens a hilarious short story.

The Myth of Mother India – Rape, female foeticide, casteism and slavery are diseases that are endemic in the world’s largest democracy.

Candess M Campbell shares a chapter from her just released book, 12 weeks to self healing.

Call for Justice – a statement by women’s and progressive groups and individuals condemning sexual violence and opposing death penalty.

Simone de Beauvoir, author of the ground breaking book, The Second Sex, speaks to us at The Late Writers & Readers Festival.

Please share this magazine with your family and friends.

Om Shanti Shanti Shanti Om



It has not been a good day. It is cold, windy and my dog Rainy has disappeared…missing for the last two days. Could someone have eaten my best friend?

The news is not all that bad except for a news report that has raised a controversy.

Apparently the Government of India has decided that foreign gay couples and single people are to be barred from renting a womb in India – surrogacy, which is a booming business in this country.

The cost of surrogacy is about $18,000 to $30,000 in India, of which around $8,000 goes to the surrogate mother. The figure is roughly a third of the US price.

See everything is cheaper in Asia, even wombs.

Many claim that the poor Indian mothers get an amount of money that probably generations of their family have never seen.

The bill says only women aged between 21 and 35 can act as surrogates but sets no minimum payment for the mother.

Gay Rights lawyers and fertility clinics in India are going challenge this in the courts.

Interestingly not many people know about the flourishing “Surrogacy Tourism” in India. Now that all this has come to light we can expect the overall “tourism” figures to rise.

What a wonderful world this is…everything for rent: wombs, children, men, women, cars, houses, animals, love and other miscellaneous thingies.

I wonder when Souls will be available for rent?

Breaking News – Martial Law in Pakistan around the corner

Pakistani Army

The Pakistani Army and its dirty tricks department, ISI, are on track to seizing power by a well crafted script that ensures the people’s compliance to its takeover of the civilian government.

Sources close to the civilian government have stated the following reasons:

–          Pak Army deliberately conducts cease fire violations, captures, kills and mutilates Indian soldiers’ bodies: This will definitely rouse the Indians to revenge. The resultant news will filter to the Pakistani citizens who suffer from a fear psychosis of their powerful neighbor, India.

–          The continued occupation of Balochistan by Pakistan and the brutal acts of the Frontier Rifles which is involved in torture, murder, rape and other despicable acts of inhumanity…and the resultant acts of the freedom fighters of Balochistan…has created insecurity in the country.

–          ISI’s continued financing, material and financial support to terrorists.

–          A march led by Muslim cleric Tahir-ul Qadri in Islamabad protesting against a corrupt government. (Who is funding this cleric and how can he conduct such a protest march without the tacit support of the Pakistani security agencies?).

–          The accelerated withdrawal of US troops from Afghanistan…will leave a void which Pakistan doesn’t want India to fill for fear of ending up fighting on two fronts.

–          The honourable Supreme Court of Pakistan is inadvertently playing into the hands of the Army by ordering the arrest of the Prime Minister of Pakistan, Raja Pervez Ashraf, on charges of corruption!

In a few weeks the Pakistani Army will dispose of civilian rule and enforce their diktat.

And then we will see the true nature of this failed State and its ruthless security forces who are nothing short of terrorists in uniform.

FBI – News on Human Trafficking!

Woman at window
During fiscal year 2012, we opened 306 human trafficking investigations involving forced labor or forced household service as well as sex trafficking.

Human Trafficking Awareness
Targeting Traffickers, Helping Victims

01/11/13 News Release

Last month, a Kentucky cardiologist and his ex-wife pled guilty to recruiting a Bolivian woman to work as their domestic servant and holding her unlawfully for nearly 15 years. The couple took her passport, threatened her with deportation, and falsely promised that her wages were being put in a bank account.

Trafficking in persons is a widespread form of modern-day slavery, and as we observe National Slavery and Human Trafficking Prevention Month, we’d like to update you on what the FBI—with its partners—is doing to go after the traffickers and help the victims.

 Case Example: Human Trafficking at Its WorstIn December 2012, Terrence Yarbrough, aka “T-Rex,” was convicted in federal court on 10 counts of sex trafficking. Witnesses at his Memphis trial testified how he lured vulnerable women as young as 15 into prostitution with false promises of love, family, and money. Anytime a victim refused, Yarbrough countered with threats, intimidation, and violence. The jury heard from victims who recounted that they were beaten with belts, wooden coat hangers, crowbars, padlocks, and dog chains. They also testified to being thrown down stairs, having their heads smashed into car doors, having their legs burned with irons, and being scalded with boiling water.

Yarbrough, who reportedly had “T-Rex” tattooed on four of his victims and claimed they were his property, also confiscated the women’s identification documentation and any money they had to make it difficult for them to escape.

Playing critical roles during the investigative and prosecutive phases of the case were FBI agents and a victim specialist from our Memphis office. The agents worked tirelessly to track down all the victims, while they and the victim specialist were able to gain the victims’ trust and cooperation, making sure they were kept informed of the legal proceedings every step of the way and that they were available and prepared to testify against Yarbrough at his trial. More details

Human trafficking is a top investigative priority of the Bureau’s civil rights program. During fiscal year 2012, we opened 306 human trafficking investigations around the nation involving forced labor or forced household service as well as sex trafficking of international victims (young and old) and adult U.S. citizen victims.

Along the same lines, the sex trafficking of U.S. children is also a priority within our crimes against children program. During fiscal year 2012, we opened 363 investigations into the commercial sexploitation of domestic minors. Fortunately, we were also able to locate more than 500 young victims of sex traffickers.

We participate in 88 human trafficking task forces and working groups around the country. Our efforts include not only investigating cases where we find them, but also proactively using intelligence to drive and support these cases, looking at known areas of human trafficking activities, and developing liaison relationships within communities to promote awareness of these crimes.

Help for victims. The Bureau also has a robust assistance program in place for victims of human trafficking—as well as other federal crimes investigated by the FBI. Our Office for Victim Assistance (OVA) oversees the work of victim specialists located throughout our 56 field offices.

These specialists—experienced in crisis intervention, social services, and victim assistance—work closely with agents to ensure that potential victims of trafficking are rescued, transferred to safe locations, and provided with referrals for medical, mental health, housing, legal, and other necessary services. And this past year, representatives from OVA and our civil rights program developed a protocol for human trafficking investigations that was implemented in all FBI field offices. The protocol highlights a victim-centered approach and the need for collaboration between the investigating agent, the local victim specialist, non-governmental agencies, and other law enforcement partners.

OVA oversees our child/adolescent forensic interviewers who work with Crimes Against Children task forces and provide training for agents and task force officers working human trafficking cases. These interviewers also collaborated with partner agencies to develop an interview protocol for minor victims of sexploitation for use by professionals working against human trafficking.

Our training and awareness efforts were significant. During fiscal year 2012, we conducted training around the country focused on defining, detecting, and investigating human trafficking cases. The audiences included law enforcement—both U.S. and international—along with government employees, religious and civic organizations, ethnic advocacy groups, schools, social service agencies, medical personnel, legal aid agencies, domestic violence services, etc.—in short, anyone in a position to make a difference in the life of a trafficking victim.

Multi-agency investigations, intelligence, victim assistance, training—we’re putting our tools and capabilities to work to help combat the scourge of human trafficking.

– Help Us Identify Potential Victims
– Human Trafficking
– Office for Victim Assistance