Tuesday, November 20, 2012

An open letter to the New Orleans Zionist Community, UPDATED! with their response

Today I received an email invitation to a "community gathering of support" for Israel, sponsored by the Jewish Federation of Greater New Orleans. Accompanied by photos of sad-looking Jewish children - coded by their yarmelukes - and decontextualized rocket explosions, the invitation quoted the assertion by Benjamin Netanyahu that "Israel wants peace," and asked recipients to donate to something called the "Israel Terror Relief Fund."

I have long struggled with the conflation of Judaism and Zionism, a dynamic validated by the mainstream North American Jewish community that sees Israel as the deserved homeland of the Jews. I am Jewish, but I do not believe I have any more of a right as a US citizen to live in Israel than a Palestinian person whose family has been living there for generations. I especially do not believe that Israeli society has the right to lay that Palestinian person under daily siege of economic deprivation, racial hostility, or military aggression.

Though I remain resolute in my damnation of such injustice, I am often made to feel by other Jews that I am wrong or traitorous for these views. This is a very disheartening experience, and I take it as a rejection from my people.

I was angry when I received the Jewish Federation email today. I felt like its originators were trying to speak for me, as though the Jewish community of New Orleans is a monolithic Zionist entity with all the same political inclinations and perspectives. This is entirely antithetical to my understanding of  Jewish tradition, which values discourse, debate, nuance, and the questioning of the status quo.

I responded with the following. I hope they don't excommunicate me.

Dear Mr. Franco,

I am unsubscribing from this listserve in part due to this email, which I believe is demonstrative of a larger coercive tone from the group asserting its identity as "Jewish NOLA," or the New Orleans Jewish community. I am a part of this group in the abstract sense that I am a Jew living in New Orleans, yet the email bothers me because it does not represent my interests or views as a Jew.

I do not support Israel in its military action against the Palestinian people, now or ever. I do not equate Judaism with Zionism, not do I believe I should have to in order to be considered a full Jew or a member of the Jewish community here in New Orleans or anywhere. I believe that this politicization of Jewish identity is damaging, restrictive, exclusionary, and, to put it bluntly, a turnoff for a civically engaged, justice-minded young Jew such as myself.

There are many reasons why I do not support the Zionist cause, most of which stem from my lifelong pursuit of Jewish education. Through this journey, I have learned to abhor the powers of oppression and marginalization that have victimized Jews for so many centuries. I see no consistency between the rejection of anti-Semitism and the embrace of Palestinian oppression. That is to ask, how can we as Jews be offended by injustice perpetrated against us, and then turn around and act unjustly towards others? Such a hypocrisy is unconscionable and, I would argue, un-Jewish.

I will not be joining you in your upcoming action to support Israel. I will not ever support your organization's - or anyone's - efforts to promote exploitation, racism, intolerance, injustice, or institutionalized poverty, such as it exists in Israel and elsewhere. In fact, I will stand against such efforts.

The comfort I take in this position is the knowledge that I am on the righteous side of justice and tikkun olam, and that I am not alone in this view. If you wish to ostracize me and likeminded Jews from your Jewish community, so be it. It is truly your loss.

Arielle Schecter

UPDATE! Here is the response I received from them.

Dear Arielle,
Thank you for responding to our invitation to Sundays event.

The letter of invitation was signed by Alan Franco, President of Jewish Federation.

Allow me to respond.

The event is themed very simply to express our support for and solidarity with Israel. The vast majority of the Jewish community in New Orleans supports Israel and wishes to feel close to her. That does not mean that we support everything that Israel does. Nor does it mean that we are promoting Zionism or calling for action about Israel’s specific polices.

There are many voices in the Jewish community. We recognize that. And some people take a more critical view and that is legitimate.

We do not “promote exploitation, racism, intolerance, injustice, or institutionalized poverty” as you suggest, in any place and in any way.

Indeed, we like to believe that we care for social justice as an expression of Tikkun Olam whether in New Orleans, the rest of America and Israel.

Some of our local activities are directly focused on that. And I hope that you will join us on our Mitzvah Day here in New Orleans on December 25.

The event on Sunday will not focus on settlements, the IDF, Israel’s role in the West Bank, or even the stalled peace process.

Our concern is about the right of the citizens of a sovereign state to live in peace and not to face daily rocket barrages from Gaza aimed at civilians.

And we will express our hope for a peaceful outcome in the Middle East that can bring peace to both the Palestinian and the Israeli peoples.

I hope that you see the event in that light.

I also hope that you will continue to see yourself as a part of this wonderful and diverse Jewish community even if you don’t agree with all that we as Federation do.

And continue to receive our communications.

Thank you for sharing.

Michael J. Weil
Executive Director

Jewish Federation of Greater New Orleans

UPDATE! Here is my message back to them.

Dear Michael, et al:

Thank you for responding to my message and extending an invitation to further engage with the Jewish community of New Orleans.

I would like to articulate a bit further my feelings of distance and rejection that I have been experiencing from the Jewish community here, in the context of "support for and solidarity with Israel."

I understand that my views are not commonplace among Jews in North America and, by extension, the Greater New Orleans Area. However, rather than feeling recognized or legitimized (variations on your words) for or despite my views, I continue to feel as though I have no place in this community.

Indeed, I am a very engaged Jew here. I regularly attended services at local synagogues, I have dined at Shir Chadash's rabbi's house, I joined the Newcomers Program when I moved here, I go to Moishe House and Ayla events, I celebrate all the major holidays (and some of the minor ones), I co-chaired last year's Mitzvah Day on Christmas, and I briefly taught Religious School at Temple Sinai. Yet sadly I have felt pushed away from Judaism and have largely ceased being involved in these activities and community events.

Let me give you an example. The main reason why I stopped teaching at Temple Sinai is because the curriculum they push on the children is one that insists that Israel is the deserved homeland of the Jews: Israel is our home. Eretz Yisrael. Someday we will all live free in Jerusalem.

We sing Zionist songs in the music class. We make Zionist art. We read Zionist books. I do not think that any of this is appropriate unless a political context is provided, which of course it is not. This leaves the students confused and uninformed.

To illustrate this, one of my nine-year-old students asked me why "the Arabs always try to kill us." I told him that the Arabs do not always try to kill us. He then sought to clarify, asking why "the Arabs try to kill the Jews in Israel." I was at a loss in this moment, and did not feel like I had the institutional support to open a conversation on ethnic relations in the Middle East.

In an uneasy response, I told the student a parable of a family in which one of the children is locked in his room all the time. He feels like things are unfair because the other siblings are not locked in their rooms all the time. This child acts out because he feels like nobody is listening to him.

My students gave me the blank stares that every teacher dreads. I'm assuming nobody in their homes or in their larger Jewish communities has ever filled in the details of my simple metaphor, and they remain confused. Many of them probably continue to harbor negative views of Arab people, for no reason they can explain.

Why is this so? Why do we teach Jewish children that we are entitled to live in a land where the Jewish presence is fraught with political, social, and economic contradictions, without exploring those contradictions? Why do we focus on Israeli/Jewish victims of terror, and not examine the daily psychological and oftentimes physical terror inflicted by those same Israelis/Jews on the Palestinian people?

This approach constitutes a blindness that I believe is very dangerous for Jewish communities to perpetrate.

However, as you said, "there are many voices in the Jewish community." I believe it is your responsibility as a leader in this community to honor all of those voices. I do not believe this responsibility ends with responding to emails from your detractors, although that was a nice gesture. I believe it BEGINS with engaging Jews of all political stripes in dialogue that seeks a place of mutual understanding and respect. I have never felt understood or respected as a Palestinian sympathizer in the Jewish community of New Orleans. I have felt marginalized by rabbis' sermons that profess undying support for Israel; I have felt excluded from the Federation due to activities such as the one in question; and I have quit my job as a Religious School instructor because I felt like the curriculum was misguided and I had no one to consult, as my superiors were all of the opposite mind.

Where in all this is the rich Jewish history of questioning, arguing, and justice-seeking? I have never found my views reflected in any official Jewish channel here in New Orleans. I often am forced to discuss and develop my worldviews with non-Jews here, because my Jewish associates will not even stand to hear what they deem anti-Israel, and so anti-Jewish sentiment. Why are we afraid to even talk about this? Why do we assume - as your organization indeed does - that every worthwhile Jew here supports Israel?

It is not enough to say, well, you don't have to come to this event. Of course I don't, and I've made it clear that I will not. But what Jewish Federation event will I ever go to where I feel comfortable? The Federation represents a large swath of the tiny Jewish population here in the Greater New Orleans Area. Any Federation action is likely to be taken as a representation of the Jewish community here, despite what constituent members believe is the righteous path. That is, the Federation is claiming to speak for me when it is not. Non-Jews will believe that "the Jews" as a monolithic entity supports Israel, when it is simply not so. This serves to silence voices such as mine, and promote other, louder, Zionist (and yes they are Zionist) voices in the community. It also does little to curry favor for Jews among people who do not agree with this stance. Are we repairing the world in this way? I think not.

Again, thank you for your response. I do hope you take my thoughts into consideration when you plan ahead for the Federation.


UPDATE: Michael again responded to me, this time with an article detailing an example of Israel's commitment to human rights: a hospital that treats Gazan children. Michael also invited me to continue participating in Jewish community events in New Orleans, saying that he believes "the best way to support Israel is to take a critical view based on learning and understanding." I would agree, except that my process of learning and understanding has led me to support those who suffer from oppression. Agree to disagree, Michael.

Thursday, November 15, 2012

St. Claude Night Market is very sorry and wants to buy me dinner

Friends of the Shtetl may still be reeling from Saturday's decidedly unneighborly neighborhood night market, and there have been a number of updates to the story that I wish to share with you here:

Feedback from my original post about the St. Claude Night Market, brought to us by St. Claude Main Street, ran the gamut from a neighbor's support -

"Thank you Arielle. I wish with all my heart that they find somewhere else to go. I don't want to be bothered by someone else's retail event. These things are not community outreach it is for profit at the neighbors expense. It is rude and cheeky that I should be disturbed by these people."

 - to an anonymous commenter's disdain -

"Please go back to the lame suburb you come from."

The issue of "community-building" - a goal of St. Claude Main Street, in the words of the night market representative I engaged the other night -  in a rapidly changing neighborhood has sparked a heated conversation both online and in person, and I think it's important to keep addressing it.

My main concern with the night market was that I felt the organizers were not being good neighbors.  They/He did not notify the residents of the block that there was going to be a market, nor did he make it clear how the event was going to benefit the neighborhood. I experienced it as an imposition on my space and an affront to the tight-knit set of neighbors on my block, none of whom felt invited to, or, in the case of those who went, particularly welcome at the market.

The offense I took stems more deeply from my own struggle to participate thoughtfully and respectfully in the negotiation of space in my neighborhood. As a white person from another part of the country, I understand that my very presence - as a visitor or a resident - on the largely black, economically challenged, native-New Orleanian block I live on, is loaded with socio-political implications.

It seems that the people behind the night market and similar projects - St. Claude Main Street and Neighborland - desire vibrancy in my neighborhood. [The stated mission of St. Claude Main Street is "to promote and support an economically thriving and culturally rich crossroads of historic communities."] Yet I think everyone would be better off if they supported the cultural richness that already exists here, instead of showing up with a specific, pre-packaged concept or model of what the neighborhood should be like.

I advised the night market organizer to do more meaningful neighborhood outreach the next time he wants to bring an outside event to a block that is not his own. Flyering local businesses is a token effort, but true engagement comes from putting in time and energy communicating sincere concern for neighbors' wellbeing and interests. In the absence of the means or desire to do so, any "community" event must at the very least demonstrate the highest level of respect and politeness towards these neighbors.

And then today my roommate and I received this letter:

An apology

It seems that the night market organizer heard some of my concerns and is willing to incorporate my feedback into his work. This is a positive step, and I await a genuine community-building effort. But it remains to be seen if St. Claude Main Street is a good neighbor.


Monday, November 12, 2012

It's your party and I'll cry if I want to: Why the St. Claude Night Market needs to talk to its neighbors

This past Saturday night, there was a community event on my block. Or at least that’s what the people there told me was going on. I wouldn’t have known about it if I hadn’t been home and wondering what all the noise was. My first thought was that Treme was filming in the lot across the street from my house, but then I realized there hadn’t been any signs up, nor any flyers stuffed in my shutters.

Even before I went to check out the event, I had a flash of resentment towards it, akin to the anguished feeling of not being invited to a classmate’s party in grade school. Why didn’t I know a planned "community" event was going on across the street from my own house? Who is organizing such things and not telling the neighbors? 

This feeling turned closer to anger when I opened my front door and found a stranger’s bicycle locked to my elevated(!) front porch, and my neighbor distraught at the possibility she might not be able to park directly in front of her home if she went out again. Far from lazy, this is actually a serious concern given her caretaking responsibility for her disabled mother-in-law (which necessitates quick and easy access to a vehicle in the event of a medical issue), as well as the very real threat of violent crime, particularly against women, in our city. 

When I went to see what was happening, I found that it was an art and food market coinciding with the monthly St. Claude Avenue “walk” amongst and through the neighborhood’s art galleries. Though the market was festive and interesting, I felt a little strange attending a party on my block that I didn’t feel invited to, or even informed about. 

It wasn’t so much that I felt awkward or unusual navigating the space of the market; it was more that I experienced it as an imposition on my neighborhood. This was especially weird because the majority of the market vendors and attendeees were young white scruffy people, just like me. As the presumed intended audience demographic, I was perturbed that I did not know who the organizers were, they didn’t seem to care to know me or even tell me the event was happening on my block, and so the whole thing felt forced. 

While I should have been happy that a normally desolate corner of my street was inhabited by brightly lit creative enterprise, I felt like a bunch of people just came, had their party, and left, with no thought as to their physical or psychological impact. 

This impact was echoed in my neighbor's concerns about parking, my feelings of invasion when I saw that bike on my porch (and there was even valet bicycle parking at the market!), the overall sense of disorder brought by the vendors' cars parked in all kinds of directions on my one-way street, and the slipshod approach to neighborhood ingratiation. It seemed that the people behind the event expected that such a thing would be embraced and celebrated by the "community," but they didn't even check in with their next-door neighbors about it, some of whom are artists and craftspeople themselves and might have wanted to participate in the market as vendors.

So, to the organizers of this market, I think that you should take a look at your goals and the realities of this city we inhabit, and come to a more sensitive threshold from which to make future decisions. You may be artists and entrepreneurs, social movers and shakers, concerned citizens and the like, but you are also a mostly white gentrifying force, bringing all the baggage that entails.

Yes, you bring your clever jewelry made from repurposed materials, but you also bring an anxiety to residents who do not know your intentions. You bring your “shamanic consultations,” along with a sense of unrequested spatial appropriation. 

What I’m saying is that while your aims may not necessarily be antithetical to those of the neighborhood, it would do us all a great service for you to come to an immediate understanding of how your presence imposes upon your surroundings. 

I do not object to you as individuals, to your DIY aesthetic, to your livening up the block with art, people, much-needed street light; in fact I was intrigued by much of your crafts and goods. I do object however to your lack of community outreach and to your overall neglectful attitude towards the very residents of the block you occupied last Saturday night, however briefly. 

Indeed, when I tried to look up your event on Facebook (which is not a medium easily accessible to all my neighbors, it should be said), I found that you had listed the address of the market space completely incorrectly - there is no 3600 block of Independence Street - betraying at best a sloppy approach to event-planning, at worst a lack of localized knowledge. 

I suggest for the next time – and I do hope there is a next time, as your intentions seem to be from a sincere and good place – you do some meaningful outreach in the neighborhood beforehand and gauge the residents’ mood towards your event: What are the concerns? What bothered us about last time? What would we want to see next time? After all, when you look around your event in the Bywater – or anywhere in New Orleans, for that matter - and the faces you see are almost exclusively white and young, you are not having a community event. 

I say this as a person who looks very much like you, who moved here post-Katrina, and who grapples with the very same conundrums of racial, economic, political, and social life that beset your operation. I did not ask my neighbors if it was alright if I moved to the block. But I do invite them to my parties. 


Arielle Schecter

PS: Also, please do a better job of cleaning up your trash when you leave next time. I don’t think that organic empanada detritus was there before you arrived.

UPDATE click here -->

Monday, November 5, 2012

Liveblogging Hurricane Sandy, Part 5

The following piece was written by my friend and mentor Bill Koehnlein, who lives with his partner, Claire, in Manhattan's East Village. In his article, he shares his experience of Hurricane Sandy as a catalyst for authentic community-building as well as a reminder of the inadequacies of our current social order:

The juice returned late yesterday afternoon; for four days we were compelled to live as our primitive ancestors did, illuminating the apartment with candles and flashlights, keeping the cell phones powered down most of the time in order to conserve battery life, enduring a totally dysfunctional landline, relying on a battery-powered radio for news (if anyone can call the blathering of WCBS and WINS "news") and good jazz (WKCR broadcast its Clifford Brown birthday tribute, which was a nice diversion), taking quick showers that became quicker and quicker as the water became colder and colder, and cooking by candlelight (one good advantage to being vegans is that there was very little perishable food to go bad--I estimate that we lost about $30 worth of stuff--and we were able to feast nicely on grains, root vegetables, winter squash and whatever was on hand and in good supply, including a couple of nice bottles of wine). Neither the New York Times nor the Financial Times--I subscribe to both--made it to our door. Such is the primal way of living, how our ancient forebears went about their daily lives, and this modern man, reliant on technology--and, yes, dependent on it--endured life without the Internet quite well.

So, we managed and we are no worse for wear, and I'm really appreciative to everyone from all over the place who called, texted or sent emails to check in to see if we were OK.

Our immediate neighborhood was not that hard hit. Only one tree on our block was damaged (a medium-sized branch fell off); no flooding in our building or other damage; no neighbors injured; and no one displaced. Damage seems to have been minimal. One tree in the little park near Cooper Union was completely uprooted, and one store on Fourth Avenue had its gate blown off, but other than that nothing horrible. The three nearby parks--Tompkins Square, Union Square and Washington
Square--seem to have been hard hit, with a lot of tree damage. Amazingly, Madison Square Park, at 23 Street, seems to have sustained no damage at all--a scaled-down version of the Union Square Greenmarket is being temporarily moved to Madison Square, for those who want to do some shopping (though I wonder how some of the farmers made out; fortunately, the bulk of the Fall crops have probably been harvested, though late season vegetables and cover crops might be damaged or even destroyed).

I was worried about the bird tree, on the next block over, where hundreds of little sparrows roost at night. Fortunately, one of its main branches was beneath a construction scaffold and the birds took refuge there for the night, and the next day their cacophony of chirps and lively conversation was back, full steam. And in the parks on the day after, the wildlife emerged, and seemed to be unscathed.

Our neighborhood took on a festive spirit, with people actually talking to one another, being friendly, checking on elderly, handicapped or homebound neighbors, and helping out where help was needed, It was all very anarchistic, the way people naturally respond when an emergency happens, a spontaneous movement toward self-organization without the licensing, sanctioning and official approving by meddlesome politicians and bureaucrats. In other neighborhoods as well (and I was outside, walking around, quite a bit over the last several days) people rallied and showed solidarity with one another: larger apartment buildings opened up their community rooms or other facilities for anyone to use, and were largely staffed by residents who organized tasks and themselves; impromptu block committees formed to clean up debris and make some kind of order along the sidewalks; and, in general, a spirit and feeling of neighborliness and goodwill prevailed.

Still, despite the festive atmosphere in my neighborhood, and other neighborhoods as well, we can't forget that ninety-two people were killed in this storm, and forty-one of those deaths were right here in New York City. "Natural" disasters are never one-hundred percent natural, and there are political and economic factors that are at once causative and also contribute to how the "natural" component plays out, and in what directions the aftermath goes. We saw this nowhere as clearly and conspicuously as we did during and following Hurricane Katrina in New Orleans, where the mangroves and barrier reefs were systemically destroyed--at the behest of business interests--to make commerce easier, which then exacerbated the effects of the storm; the failure of the government to build good levees and maintain them properly; the failure to provide timely and decent emergency care, shelter, food and water to the people most affected, and then the subsequent forced removal from their homes into trailer parks and substandard housing hundreds of miles from New Orleans (many have, to this day, been unable to return to their homes); later, the beginnings of gentrification of neighborhoods from which poor and mostly black people (did I mention the interplay of racism and natural disasters?) had been removed; the criminal and seemingly deliberate ineptitude and mismanagement of the situation by FEMA. Certainly the long-term consequences of Hurricane Sandy in New York will not compare to the lasting effects of Katrina in New Orleans, especially the social effects, but there will be effects here nonetheless. And where has the worst destruction been? In Breezy Point, Queens--a working-class area, where a hundred homes burned down on the night the hurricane hit. In Coney Island and Red Hook, both in Brooklyn, and both working-class communities, which have been devastated and where aid and assistance have been slow to arrive. On coastal Staten Island, Zone A areas, populated mostly by working-class people; the more affluent have the means and the luxury of living in hilly, more scenic areas in the island's center.

In these places, poor people and people of moderate income are bearing the brunt of the "natural" calamity. Yes, there were mandatory evacuation orders issued; some people refused to evacuate (often for very good reasons), some tried to evacuate but were unable to do so, others evacuated and will come home, now, to debris and wreckage, and while there will be some relief and government money available to them their lives will be changed forever. As my friend and comrade Kazembe Balagun put it clearly and succinctly, "thousands in the tri-state area have lost their homes or are without food, power and electricity. Hurricane Sandy was both a natural disaster but also a convergence of class inequality, climate change and the consequences of austerity measures against public infrastructure."

In a cataclysm the rich always have the option of moving to higher ground.

One of the more appalling choices was the decision by NYC Inc. CEO Michael Bloomberg to go ahead with the New York City Marathon. Interesting that the Halloween Parade Wednesday night had been cancelled. The city could not afford to take any resources away from the emergency relief efforts, it was said. Yet, the race was to be a go--complete with massive power generators set up in Central Park, police to direct traffic, city workers to tend to logistical details of the event. But let's keep a bit of perspective. The New York City Marathon is actually the ING New York City Marathon, a major corporate event--and a major corporate entity. In contrast, the Halloween Parade is a minor corporate event; the Marathon's "partners" and sponsors look like some choice listings taken from Forbes magazine. The Marathon was to begin in Staten Island, right down the block from where people were living without power and heat, with little food, with potentially dirty water, in some cases, without homes. Half the deaths that happened in New York City happened on Staten Island. But the race was to be run, for nothing more than corporate aggrandizement and because Bloomberg and Mary Wittenberg, President and CEO of New York Road Runners and corporate shill par excellence, wanted it to be run. In the end, public outcry and indignation--and many of the runners themselves demanded cancellation--was so loud and vehement that the Marathon was cancelled.

For once, the billionaire did not get his way.

Hurricane Sandy, its effects and its response, was a study in contrasts. Earlier today, officialdom, cheer-led by Andrew Cuomo, held a press conference that was utterly and totally disgusting. A lot [of] politicians, bureaucrats, pimps and whores slapping each other on the back and staging a pompous self-congratulatory celebration for a job well-done. The assembled media people--the faux journalists, hacks and political parrots who report what's proper to report, who write what they're told to write, the PR team for capitalism and its corporations--all rousingly cheered each and every creep who got up to speak. There was barely a word for or about the people who *really* did a job well-done: the Con Edison workers who put in sleepless days and nights in generating stations or tunnels under the street; the traffic agents standing in the middle of intersections all day and all night, enabling pedestrians to cross safely and easily; the bus drivers who chauffeured passengers around the city; building maintenance workers, cleaning out the mess; ambulance drivers and EMT personnel; the guys from Puebla delivering pizzas; the transit workers keeping an eye on the subways and restoring service when service was able to be restored; the workers in bodegas and small stores, staying all night, keeping people supplied with some basic necessities; the social workers tending to people forced into shelters; the nurses, orderlies and cleaning people who staffed the hospitals (and were instrumental in evacuating patients from NYU and Bellevue Hospitals after the failure of their backup generators). These were the people who mattered, the ones to be congratulated, not the politicians with ambitious personal goals underlying everything they do. During the pomp-and-ceremony of their news conference one of them (I can't remember who it was) proudly noted that he had spent an hour at the Barclay Center in Brooklyn, shaking hands with commuters who had waited and waited waited for the Manhattan shuttle bus to bring them across the bridge, and to their jobs downtown and in midtown. Gee. A whole hour doing relief work, shaking hands! What a great statesman he is! What a mensch! I wonder if all the shaking made his hands as dirty as the sanitation worker's, the person who will haul away the garbage, or the laborer's, who will be the one to shovel the muck created by Hurricane Sandy into a dumpster parked at the curb.

There will be lasting effects of Hurricane Sandy; that's undeniable. The coastal ecology will probably be altered, and with climate change the effect there will be heightened and accentuated.

Economically, it's going to be quite expensive to repair the damage and compensate those who lost so much; we'll see what social priorities wind up on top (will the police or military budgets be reduced? I doubt it). Some affected people are resilient and will bounce back quickly; others will be hurt, traumatized or economically devastated for a long time. And as time goes by and this event recedes into history, I suspect that many people will remember the spirit of neighborliness and solidarity--the natural state of people when unfettered by corrupted social values--displayed toward each other by each other. As Kazembe said, the hurricane's aftermath "was also an example of working-class solidarity. From places like Penn South Housing Cooperative that opened its community rooms up to strangers, to groups like the Committee Against Anti-Asian Violence, the Red Hook Initiative and Occupy Sandy that set up relief stations on the Lower East Side, Red Hook and Far Rockaway, this storm has proven that while we may have lost electricity, the people have the power!"

Right on Kazembe!

And I hope all of you who endured this storm fared as well as Claire and I did.