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Hero of the Hour

In her acceptance speech for best actress at this years Golden Globe awards, Nicole Kidman got political, and told her audience that this year’s films are notable because so many of them have strong and complex women characters. Kidman, who told Diane Sawyer in an interview on “Prime Time” that she considers herself a feminist, won her Golden Globe for her role as Virginia Woolf in The Hours. "I say to the writers, please keep writing for us, we're very interesting. And to the directors, please keep taking chances and giving us complicated, rich characters to play."

Kidman costarred in "The Hours" with Meryl Streep and Julianne Moore. Streep, who as of this year has been nominated for more Academy Awards than any other actor in history, was also nominated with Kidman for the Golden Globe best actress. Salma Hayek was nominated for her role as the great (half-Jewish) artist Frida Kahlo in the outstanding film Frida. “I share this with all the women that have worked incredibly hard to put complicated, wonderful characters on the screen," Kidman said.

Steinem Draws Seattle Jewish Women

Gloria Steinem spoke on February 2 to the largest gathering of Jewish women in Seattle history at a fundraiser for the local Jewish Federation. Over 650 women showed up to hear Steinem talk about the ongoing struggle for reproductive rights, equal pay, comparable worth, and the need for both women and men to have access to universal child care. She spoke about the need for society to “redefine work itself, and stop this system that still allows us to believe that raising humans and nurturing a family is not work.”

Steinem identified gender roles and men’s notion of masculinity as the source of violence in society, most of which targets women and children. “The idea of masculine control and dominance, the idea of earning manhood is the primary way in which violence is normalized,” she said.

Of reproductive rights, she said, “Mostly we have lost it. The rest of it will be lost with a Supreme Court appointment that is probably upon us.”

There was some amount of controversy around Steinem’s appearance. She had signed a petition that ran as a full-page advertisement in the Seattle Times on Dec. 29, sponsored by anti-war organization Not In Our Name. The text of the ad included statements expressing support for Palestine “where Israeli tanks and bulldozers have left a terrible trail of death and destruction.” Steinem told the co-chairs of the Federation fundraiser that she was unaware of the ad’s negative comments about Israel, and felt she was signing a petition against the potential war with Iraq.

(info from The Jewish Transcript, February 7, 2003)

Anti-Globalization Weds Anti-Semitism

The anti-globalization movement’s annual World Social Forum in Porto Alegre was once again replete with anti-Semitism, including physical assaults on Jews who called for a peaceful two-state co-existence between Israel and Palestine.

Posters at the third WSF featured slogans like "Nazis, Yankees and Jews: No more chosen peoples!" and "Sharon = Hitler". T-shirts displayed Stars of David turned into Swastikas. Members of the Palestine Social Forum called the Jews "the true fundamentalists who control United States capitalism and the Iraq war agenda," and said Jews were "responsible for the 11 September attacks." There were physical assaults against some 20 Jewish participants who held banners declaring, "Two peoples - Two states: Peace in the Middle East.” A Brazilian speaker who proposed that Palestinians adopt Gandhi's policy of non-violence was booed. The 3rd WSF had accredited some 40,000 representatives of 5,500 NGOs from 126 countries, many of whom were active in Durban. Only one Jewish NGO, the Simon Wiesenthal Center, was accredited by WSF organizers.

The Simon Wiesenthal Center talked to the WSF's executive secretary Alessandra Ceregatti about the anti-Semitism and atmosphere of intimidation. Ceregatti promised that "the WSF will condemn all expressions of anti-Semitism and take measures to stop their reoccurrence." We shall see.

In the meantime, the campaign spilled throughout the city, threatening the city’s small Jewish community. Porto Alegre's Jewish community of 2,400 families prepared for a repetition of last year's WSF threatening demonstrations outside its local synagogue.

According to the Simon Wiesenthal Center, Palestinian anti-Israel radicals have taken over much of the anti-globalization agenda with the help of such supporters as U.S. academic Noam Chomsky, French farmers' union militant José Bové, British Pakistani writer Tariq Ali, and many others.

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