Tag Archives: Israel

Twenty (Jewish) Questions

by Kelley Kidd

Monday night, I sat in traffic in a taxi outside the Washington Convention Center as the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC) gala (addressed by Benjamin Netanyahu) went on inside. Protest groups shouted out against a potential war in Iran.  My taxi driver, an Iranian himself, mumbled to me that “these people do not want their tax money funding another war.” The sentiment  seemed consistent with the shouts and signage of the people gathered outside the conference who called for “diplomacy, not bombs.” They, and other anti-AIPAC groups, have expressed fears that AIPAC wants war on Iran, a road they do not want to see America go down. Even President Obama cautioned that we must not disregard “the stakes involved for Israel, for America, and for the world” before jumping into war. For Jews who stand in support of our homeland, it may be easy to side automatically with Netanyahu and Israeli president Shimon Peres in the view that the use of force, even war, is merited in averting a nuclear Iran. However, I think President Obama made a worthwhile point in bringing up “the weightiness of these issues.” The questions posed at AIPAC are worth serious, involved consideration; without lending support to either side, I believe it’s important to remember that both sides require in-depth consideration. Blind faith in any ideology is one of the most dangerous justifications for action. Historically, submission to unchecked and unexamined philosophies has been known to facilitate mass atrocities, the kind we are obliged to remember and prevent. Jewish tradition values examination and possible dissent from everything, even the very word of God.

The Jewish tradition of  “wrestling with God,” as in the story of Jacob, is not only a meaningful path to belief, but also a necessary part of our approach to practical and even political concerns. Challenging, examining and really putting the full force of consideration into finding belief helps you to construct fully formed opinions that you can truly support, even when faced with opposition. Judaism places a premium on understanding, learning, study and deep consideration, so much so that it is at the heart of much of our tradition. In the Torah itself, our forefathers even challenge God’s sense of justice. Abraham famously pleads for God to reconsider his destruction of Sodom, and his plea receives God’s consideration. Moses questions the justice of the “first draft” of the Ten Commandments, in which children will be punished for the sins of their fathers for four ensuing generations. God, upon hearing Moses’s wisdom, agrees to “nullify my words and confirm yours.” Both times, human evaluation leads God to reconsider, showing us that we must never leave the words of even the most decisive authority unexamined.

Looking beyond our biblical past, the importance of thoughtfulness in Jewish tradition is also illustrated by the breadth, depth and variation in Talmud. The study of Talmud demands that no stone is left unturned—“confronted with a statement on any subject, the Talmudic student will proceed to raise a series of questions before he satisfies himself of having understood its full meaning.” The student must search in depth for full meaning, reading between the lines, delving into implications and principles, making note of subtleties to find an underlying message that reconciles apparent contradictions. Our Talmud sets for us the example of questioning what seems readily apparent, searching for and evaluating every possible meaning before coming to a conclusion. In Judaism today, we introduce the “big questions” to our children early on. Each year on Passover, the youngest of the children present asks the Four Questions, demonstrating the importance of inquiry and understanding.

Judaism teaches us to never be afraid to demand and search for answers, and when we aren’t too scared to ask the tough questions, we can become confident in our own answers. God and Torah teach us never to settle for the simple response, for less than full understanding, even when this means facing multifaceted issues in all their complexity. When it comes to politics and Israel, I think that our people’s tradition of “wrestling” holds particular importance—in the maintenance of our Holy Land and homeland, holding fast to our tradition is crucial, and that means never settling for the unexamined questions.


Journalists Lynn Sweet and Ron Kampeas on the Jewish Vote

By Alexis McNamee

For more on the Jewish vote in the 2012 presidential election, yesterday we listened in to “The Jewish Federations of North America Teleconference Series on the 2012 Presidential Election,” featuring Lynn Sweet, Washington Bureau Chief at the Chicago-Sun Times, and Ron Kampeas, Washington Bureau Chief at the Jewish Telegraphic Agency (JTA). In light of Mitt Romney’s win in Florida, the two experts focused on the important issues for Jewish voters today: the economy and foreign policy. Kampeas recalled Romney stating he would stand “shoulder to shoulder with our allies [in Israel],” whereas Obama has openly criticized Israel on its settlement policy. Yet Kampeas believes that as long Obama is “pro-Israel enough,” Jewish voters will not be deterred from re-electing him. Relations with Iran are also an increasingly important topic—Kampeas predicted voter focus will only shift to this matter if oil prices spike, but also noted that Republican candidates have been taking a more negative stance than Obama. Kampeas and Sweet later discussed Mitt Romney’s proposal to privatize Medicare, and said Jewish support would require Republicans to present a strategy that would protects seniors despite Medicare cuts. Both agreed that the economy is the most important issue to Jewish voters. Sweet suggested that the only way to guarantee an Obama loss in the fall would be if the unemployment rate rises above nine percent before the election. Still, both Sweet and Kampeas predicted that Obama would win more than three-quarters of the Jewish vote—roughly the same rate as in 2008.

A Case of Arab Democracy

Our January/February issue features the fourth in our series on Israel’s Arab citizens: this one focuses on the pursuit of Arab-Israelis for equal rights in the political arena, a quest that challenges the Jewish character of the state. Read about Knesset member Ahmad Tibi, Israel’s most visible and vocal Arab MK; Ghaida Rinawi Zoabi, co-founder and director of the Injaz Center for Professional Arab Governance, an organization that offers professional training for employees of municipal governments; and Hassan Jabareen (right), director of Adalah: The Legal Center for Arab Minority Rights, a Haifa-based NGO that advocates for the rights of Israel’s Arab citizens.

Beit Shemesh Rhapsody

Does Freddie Mercury have the power to heal religious and sociopolitical tensions? A group of 250 women and girls in Beit Shemesh tested the premise Friday afternoon by forming a flash mob and dancing to Queen’s song “Don’t Stop Me Now” as part of the Israeli city’s protests following an incident in which a group of Haredi men spat on an 8-year-old girl wearing what they deemed not-modest-enough clothing. Inherent awkwardness aside (can a group of people attempting to perform an ensemble dance ever not be a little embarrassing?), there is something unexpectedly moving about watching the group–some in skirts, some in jeans, some still in grade school, some old enough to be their grandmothers–bewilder onlookers in support of the right of children to walk to school unassailed.

How Do You Say “Middle-earth” in Hebrew?

From FlavorWire

Thank you, Internet, for this gem: a Hebrew edition of J.R.R. Tolkien’s classic, The Hobbit, in Hebrew. And even better than the cover, the book has a terrific creation story–translated by 10 Israeli pilots as they were held captive in Egypt  after their planes were shot down in the late 1960s.

Israel Still Has the Power to Change

By Scott Fox

The beginning of 2012 means the nearing of elections in Israel and the United States. In both, incumbents have surprisingly maintained a strong likelihood of being re-elected in spite of failures and widespread criticism. While most polling shows Newt Gingrich and Mitt Romney are trailing President Obama slightly, what is more surprising is that polls show that Benjamin “Bibi” Netanyahu’s Likud party would gain seats if an election were held today.

This affirmation is probably the reason Likud has moved up their primary for the next election to January 31 even though a general election does not need to be held until October 2013. Many suspect that a new election will be called during 2012 while Netanyahu still maintains this high level of support. An outside observer may find it strange that an incumbent prime minister is so popular when 6 percent of the population was in the street protesting just three months ago. Republican strategist Frank Luntz is scared of the influence of the Occupy Wall Street movement when not even one percent of Americans has taken part in the protests.

How is this possible? Haaretz, Israel’s newspaper of record and “dissent,” has been publishing opinion pieces calling the current times the worst of a growing anti-democratic trend of repression of dissent in which Israel is having trouble seeing an alternative to Bibi. Haaretz specifically focuses on two developments that have hurt the continuation of an independent press: the likely forced bankruptcy of Israel’s Channel 10 and Attorney General Yehuda Weinstein’s proposal to not allow any media coverage of criminal investigations in Israel, including those of public officials.

The Knesset is forcing the commercial television station to pay debts that the channel cannot afford or close at the same time that Israel’s state broadcasting network, the Israel Broadcasting Authority (IBA), is allowed to continue operations without paying a debt six times that of Channel 10. Haaretz and the station’s owners are crying foul over the unfair treatment that may be politically motivated. Channel 10 has aired many news reports critical of Netanyahu and the current Knesset. Knesset members apparently cheered when the vote to force the station to pay its debt immediately was successful. Weinstein’s proposed law will also critically reduce the press’s power to report on malfeasance in government and elsewhere.

What does not help is that Kadima supporters have lost faith in Israeli opposition leader Tzipi Livni. Party activists have recently protested in front of her home for a demand to “wake up the party and return to its former self.”

With all of the recent distressing news from Israel including the continuation of gender segregation on buses and the horrific death of Palestinian protester Mustafa Tamimi, it seems that Jews should be thankful that President Obama affirmed his commitment at the General Assembly of the Union for Reform Judaism to a strong relationship with this troubled nation.

Israel is troubled. It is likely too afraid to stray from the hard-liner policies of Netanyahu in spite of his government’s disgraces when fears of unstable Arab neighbors abound. Although last summer’s social justice protests may have appeared to represent a return of the Israeli left, Netanyahu’s government has likely calmed that fire by being at least partially responsive to this summer’s protests, approving measures that will attempt to reduce the cost of living.

Still, the ruach that motivated the summer protests is not lost. Israelis clearly remain upset with the status quo. The voice of non-violent dissent needs to continue to be heard for Israel to demonstrate to the world that there is not a consensus that allows the weakening of its democracy. The next election may be Israel’s last chance to change before Israel’s fast-growing anti-egalitarian, ultra-Orthodox population fully dominates the electorate.

Everything You Always Wanted to Know About Living in Israel But Were Afraid to Ask

by Erica Shaps

It's best not to think about how many people have touched these challahs.

In a few weeks, I will be coming to the end of seven months spent in Israel. When I first arrived, I thought I was pretty familiar with the cultural differences and knew what to expect. For the most part, I was correct. But there are moments that remind me of the small differences that go unnoticed but say a lot about this complicated society that I have grown to love. So, here is a list of ten observations, in no particular order that I have made while in Israel.

Here goes:

1. I don’t care how badly you are craving Bamba or pop rock chocolate–never, under any circumstances, go to a grocery store on a Friday before Shabbat. You know what a grocery store looks like leading up to Thanksgiving? Well, that’s what it’s like every week. So unless you feel like having your toes run over by shopping carts and waiting in line for 30 minutes while a woman argues with the cashier over the cost of coffee, wait until Sunday.

2. For some reason, no two English road-sign translations match, and they often are spelled quite awkwardly. Yes, Petach Tikva and Petach Tiqwa are, in fact, the same place. Don’t ask me why signs a couple kilometers a part don’t match or why the Israeli bureaucracy cannot distinguish between a k and a q or a v and a w.

3. There is a correct way to eat hummus. Forks should never be necessary.

4. There is only one legitimate way to wash the floor: Sponga (also known as a squeegee or magav). For some reason, either no one has been brilliant enough to bring the Swiffer to Israel, or the Swiffer cannot compete with the charmingly authentic and ridiculously inefficient sponga. How does this national cleaning supply work? First, pick up everything off the floor and move all the furniture. Then, dump a pail of soapy water all over the floor and use the sponga to push the water across the house into the always inconveniently located drain. For maximum cleaning, place a rag with a hole around the sponga. You will never understand it, but eventually acceptance is unavoidable.

5. Jewish foods have different names here. Hamentaschen are oznai Haman. Latkes are leviot. Apparently, I have been using Yiddish words instead of Hebrew words for Jewish things my whole life and often didn’t realize it!

6. Buying challah at the shuk (open market) is an unsanitary art form. Pick up a challah (no gloves required of course), squeeze it to judge its freshness, and even smell it if you would like. Repeat this process until you find the challah that is just right. The same process can be applied to basically all fresh produce at the shuk. It’s okay, a few germs are good for you.

7. If you want anything approximating a fair taxi price, be ready to argue, aggressively, with the driver. No, traffic should not make this trip 35 shekels more than it did yesterday.

8. In spite of the lack of Costco or Walmart, it appears to be impossible to buy toilet paper in less than 36 packs. If anyone has counter-information please let me know, because I could use a roll or two.

9. Mattresses are not actual mattresses–at least, not where I’ve lived. Instead, they are large, thick foam pads that I lovingly refer to as “yoga mats on steroids.”

10. On a Friday afternoon before Shabbat, the only things on television are cooking shows. So, after surviving a pre-Shabbat grocery store adventure, your TV will remind you that you should be cooking Shabbat dinner. Talk about Jewish guilt.

Why the Israeli Ad Campaign Matters

by Erica Shaps

Last week, the Israeli Ministry of Immigration Absorption’s now-cancelled ad campaign directed at bring Israeli expatriates in American back home took the American Jewish media by storm.

The contents of the ads are, by this point, well known. My personal favorite shows a young family Skyping with their grandparents in Israel. As we look at the menorah in the background of the grandparents’ screen, they ask their granddaughter, in Hebrew, if she knows what Holiday they are celebrating. She enthusiastically responds, “Christmas!” Her parents look on in horror. The  fear-mongering, offensive, inaccuracy-laden ads were almost comical. If I didn’t know better, I could have easily mistaken them for skits on Eretz Nehederet. These insulting advertisements showed Israeli disdain for Diaspora Jewry and a perception that we cannot live full Jewish lives.

Almost immediately, Abe Foxman, of the Anti-Defamation League, and the Jewish Federations of North America released statements deploring the ads. Only three days after Jeffrey Goldberg wrote his blog post, Benjamin Netanyahu and Ambassador Michael Oren issued an apology, and the ads were gone.

I think that a number of important conclusions can be drawn from this series of events

The ad campaign had been playing in Israel for months; even then, Israelis were not particularly thrilled with the campaign. My Israeli roommate put it this way: “Isn’t it nice that they do the right thing after they insulted all of you [Diaspora Jews] and not months ago when the Israelis said that it was a bad idea?

It goes to show that when American Jewish leaders are outraged enough and make a lot of noise, Israel listens. This phenomenon was also well observed last summer when Diaspora Jews’ campaign against the Rotem Conversion Bill led to a vote being postponed indefinitely. Although I don’t think American Jews should abuse their potential influence over the Israeli government, I do think it is fair for us to put pressure on government officials when their decisions have ramifications for worldwide Jewry and the United States, like legislation that restricts our government’s ability to allocate funds to organizations of its choosing.

American Jews place substantial money, resources and time into defending Israel’s best interests in the American political arena. Therefore, we have the right to advocate for the Diaspora and express our frustrations with the Israeli government from time to time. As this incident proved, when we do, it can be a powerful motivator and catalyst for change.

Second, Israel has the right (and good reasons) to try to court expatriates to return home–it has been reported that as many as two million Israelis are currently living in the United States. However, the too-cheesy-to-be-compelling ads are an insult to Israeli intellect. When the ads first aired here, many people saw them as hilariously over the top, disconnected from Israelis’ mindset, and completely ignoring the real issues that draw Israelis away. The ads offer no tangible incentives for Israelis to come back. One friend joked that the ads might have been more effective if they reminded expats that the weather is much nicer in Tel Aviv than New York.

Instead of attempting to play off Israelis’ emotions, the Ministry of Immigrant Absorption would be better off addressing the legitimate factors that might have led so many to leave Israel in the first place. If the young family from the “Christmas” ad lived in Israel, they probably would not live in a comfortable suburban home, but possibly in the apartment of the very grandparents they were Skyping.  Their daughter might not have the same educational opportunities. If Dafna from the “Remembrance” ad was home, she might very well have pitched a tent on Rothschild this past summer to protest economic and social inequalities. If Israel is truly determined to bring expatriates home, instead of spending a reported three million shekels on a tacky ad campaign, it should allocate its resources to addressing the issues that made Israelis take to the street this summer and probably make the “land of opportunity” so enticing.

I hope these four days of tumult between the Israeli government and U.S Jews proves to be a teachable moment. The Israeli government should take more strides to understand both Diaspora Jews and the needs of her own people. U.S. Jews, on the other hand, should think carefully about their relationship with Israel and ability to influence its behavior; when the time is right for us to speak up, we make change happen.

The Iranian Question: Nuclear Power or Nuclear Warheads?

By Leigh Nusbaum

Watching what’s happening from the Middle East to the Midwest over the past few weeks, it seems that everyone has an opinion about Iran today, including the Iranian government.

Iran has held a fascination over people from ancient history—including empires such as that of Cyrus the Great—to the modern era, with the rise of the Islamic Republic under Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini.

Today, that focus is on Iran’s nuclear program. Tehran insists that the program is for peaceful purposes, but the regime’s opponents, including the Israeli government, argue that the program has a more sinister objective—nuclear weapons.

What’s so fascinating about this debate is that despite how long Iran’s nuclear program has been around, the debate on ending it makes it seem as though it is a recent phenomenon.  Iran’s nuclear program was actually started by the United States in the 1950s. A 2007 Chicago Tribune article detailed the “Atoms for Peace” program, the U.S.’s plan to give satellite countries nuclear reactors. It was a move in a nuclear chess game between the Soviet Union; they sent reactors to North Korea, Libya and Bulgaria, while the U.S. sent reactors to Pakistan, Iran and Columbia.

In fact, type “Iran’s nuclear program” into Wikipedia and you will see a photo of the Shah in an American pro-nuclear power advertisement. “The Shah knows that nuclear energy is not only economical, it has enjoyed a remarkable 30-year safety record. A record that was good enough for the citizens of Plymouth, Massachusetts, too. They’ve approved their second nuclear power plant by a vote of almost 4 to 1. Which shows you don’t have to go as far as Iran for an endorsement of nuclear power,” the advertisement said.

Granted, the Shah was considered an American as well as an Israeli ally, but still it should give pause to anyone in either country who disapproves of any nuclear program in Iran. The fact is: The United States of America and their allies, with tacit Israeli approval, built Iran’s original nuclear reactors. Meanwhile, both the United States and Israel are themselves nuclear powers—the U.S. has perhaps the largest stockpile in the world, while the exact number of Israeli warheads is unknown.

What fuels the recent anger towards Iran is a combination of several issues.  The short version is: Iran wants to enrich its uranium, while countries like the United States oppose it, because they are concerned that uranium enrichment will lead to nuclear weapons.

There’s also a fear of what the nuclear weapons will be used for, if Iran ever gets them. Will the weapons be used as leverage in geopolitics? Will it encourage other neighboring countries to openly pursue entry into the nuclear club? Or given the incendiary statements of Iran’s current president, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, regarding the Holocaust, Israel and the United States, will the weapons be used for a more sinister purpose, detonating over Tel Aviv or some other U.S.-friendly location?

This November, an International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) report claims that there was reliable evidence that Iran was carrying out experiments aimed at making a nuclear weapon.  Iran has weathered both substantial criticism as well as new sanctions by the U.S., UK, and EU. Many of these sanctions are directed towards the Central Bank of Iran, which will likely cause a much more crippling blow to the Iranian economy than previous rounds of sanctions.

In response to UK’s round of sanctions, student protesters stormed the UK’s embassy in Tehran. Conjuring up images of the 1979 Iranian hostage crisis, when Iranian students held hostages in the American Embassy for 444 days, the UK pulled its diplomatic staff out of Iran and closed the Iranian embassy in London. Several EU countries, including France, Germany, and the Netherlands pulled their envoys from Tehran as well.

So the question is, what is the proper response to Iran’s nuclear program? One response that should not be actively pursued is military action. It’s premature and those who advocate for it at this moment are dangerously overlooking the consequences of such action. If anything, it could be worse than Iraq or Afghanistan.

Fareed Zakaria puts it best, “Let’s be clear: We are talking about a preventive war against a country that has not attacked us. We are talking about war on the basis of intelligence reports. It is easy to start a war. It is very difficult to predict how it will go and where it might end. I think we need to ask some hard questions before we start launching the missiles.”


Walking Over to the Other Side of the Pro-Peace Debate

By Scott Fox

Soon after I sat down at my table at a fundraiser sponsored by the local Justice in Palestine chapter, the elderly woman sitting next to me said, “I see you crossed over to the other side.”

What she meant was that I had crossed over to the St. Olaf side of town for the event. Northfield, Minn., has two liberal arts colleges, Carleton and St. Olaf. Carleton is on the east side; St. Olaf is on the west. Even though the two institutions are only a 20-minute walk from one another, it is not too often that students from each school interact.

I could not help but see a parallel between Carleton and St. Olaf and the difference between my beliefs and those of Justice in Palestine. In other words, I could see where they are coming from but it still feels like crossing over to an uncomfortable side.

I am a member of J Street. The conditions in which Palestinians have lived are unacceptable. I even believe that Jerusalem should be divided, as long as Jews have access to the Western Wall. However, when I first found out about Northfielders for Justice in Palestine/Israel, I was hesitant to sign up for the group’s email list. Even though they also advocate a two-state solution, I assume that groups like these are tinged with anti-Semitism, anti-Zionism, or just misinformation. Thinking I was possibly being too biased against them, I decided to go to their Palestine Gala Dinner to gain a better understanding.

When I entered the church lobby for the event, I encountered a barrage of posters and pamphlets that were mostly biased in favor of the Palestinians. One poster was calling to “break the bonds” and have the U.S. divest from Israel. One brochure read, “Israel is actually involved in an unremitting and merciless vendetta against the subjugated Palestinian people in order to expel them and acquire their land.” The same brochure did make it clear that not all Israelis felt this way and that people should seek out left-wing Israeli opinions. Overall, the display in the lobbying felt off-putting.

Inside, it was much warmer. The sold-out function had brought in much of the Northfield community, though most of the attendees were gray-haired. Carleton’s Arabic professor and his friends provided Oud music. St. Olaf students dressed in full traditional garb performed dabke dances. Before everyone could eat the delicious spinach pie and mujaddara, Christian, Jewish and Muslim blessings were said. The affair raised money for Bright Stars of Bethlehem, a Christian charity dedicated to helping all Palestinians in the West Bank.

Many of the people there had prior awareness of the complexities of the situation in the Holy Land. At my table, a Lutheran pastor who had led an English-speaking congregation in the Old City of Jerusalem sat next to me. Two young women who had spent a year doing missionary work in Bethlehem sat across from me. The pastor was distressed with Netanyahu but did not place sole blame on any government. He recalled how there was so much optimism for peace when he was in Jerusalem during the 2008 U.S. election. Three years later, he feels that hope has been totally crushed. Feeling the communal spirit and compassion of the people around me, I gained more respect for the group doing what it could to help the oppressed Palestinians.

But the main speaker of the evening, Jennifer Loewenstein, Associate Director of Middle East Studies at the University of Wisconsin, Madison, made the event take a negative turn. I supported her fight for human rights but felt she was unfairly harsh and incorrect in characterizing the Israeli government’s policies.

Loewenstein described the situation as a “brutal, sadistic occupation” where Israelis are starving Palestinians, applying a divide and conquer strategy that isolates West Bank towns. She called Israel’s actions genocidal. With walls around Palestinian areas in the West Bank and Gaza and Israel limiting what food can be shipped into Gaza, conditions may be terrible but not genocidal when the Palestinian Arab population is growing at a faster rate than that of Israeli Jews.

Loewenstein also presented a skewed view of Israeli history with less than accurate statements that emphasized Jews taking Palestinian land without mentioning any reasons for why a Jewish state was necessary such as rising anti-Semitism. She stated that the Arab population rejected the 1947 U.N. Partition Plan not only because they felt Jews were taking land that belonged to them but also because they got the worse half of Palestine, describing their portion of the partition as unfertile desert. Actually, the plan gave Palestinians most of the more fertile Northern Israel. Most of the Jews’ portion of the land was in the Negev Desert.

Loewenstein cast blame on Israel’s extremely irrational fear of being driven into the sea even though the Israeli mainland had never been attacked by a foreign enemy until 2006, and its armed forces have always been superior to those of the Arab states combined. But she appeared to forget that Israel’s neighbors invaded the land on its first day of existence, and that Israel frequently faced the threat of attack ever since, and was not always as sure of its military might as it is today. Although Israel has made preemptive strikes in some of its fighting, it was because the threat of an attack was imminent.

“When looking at the conflict, it is two countries saying how much they want peace. But those two countries, the U.S. and Israel, are doing anything in their power to stop it from happening,” said Loewenstein, citing a “military-industrial based economy” in which the U.S’s of high-tech weapons to Israel is extremely beneficial to both countries.

From talking to a few people, it appeared the crowd primarily did not have as extreme views as she does. However, when asking the two young women at my table about whether Loewenstein’s denunciation of Israel was a little too harsh, she said that she was just “preaching to the choir.” At least some of the room supported divestment from Israel, a diplomatic tactic that I feel breaks apart the needed U.S.-Israel dialogue on how to attain peace.

I left feeling a little better about Justice in Palestine groups but remained worried that Loewenstein’s lecture could cause some of the crowd who did not know as much about the situation to leave misinformed. But crossing over to the other side of your beliefs or your town often brings something new.