- From the Editors:Resistance is Refusing to Accept or Go Along With
After the U.S. elections of November 2004, many progressives found ourselves in a near state of shock, similar to the aftermath of an earthquake. We asked ourselves the same question over and over again: Given the obvious disaster of the war in Iraq, how did (or just did) George W. Bush win the election? Bridges editor Faith Jones suggested we needed to use the pages of Bridges to "fight back." We committed ourselves then to publishing this issue on resistance in difficult times. We asked: What could we learn from past experiences with repression that may help us push back this wave? With the right wing so powerful, where and how do we, as feminists and Jews, act on our principles and visions?
In his interview with Jean Hardisty and Esther Kaplan ("Beyond Big Bucks and Media Savvy, p. 77), Cole Krawitz asks a central [End Page 1] question: Even though progressives have been tracking the rise of the right for over thirty years, why have we been unable to stem the tide? While Krawitz, Hardisty and Kaplan discuss this straight-on, most of the other thirty writers in this issue offer behind-the-news stories of individuals resisting. What is remarkable about these personal stories is the views they offer on the effects of nationalist/ military/corporate/patriarchal power on all aspects of our lives, and how, while living in conditions of fear and repression we and our forebears have negotiated holding onto our values.
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The issue begins with "Jenny and Pearl" an oral history of two lesbians who were active in the U.S. left in the '30s, '40s and '50s before moving to Mexico. Jenny, now in her nineties, tells us that the worst day of her life was June 19th, 1953, the day Julius and Ethel Rosenberg were executed. Just 15 years later, Peggy Landsman ("The Community Chorus") tells of facing "rifles with fixed bayonets" at an anti-war protest in New York City, specifically protesting George Wallace's anti-communist presidential bid. The right's strategy of silencing opposition turns out to be a running theme: young Jews experience it when trying to speak about justice for Palestinians in the Jewish community (April Rosenblum's "The Ethics of the Soldiers") as did whole communities during the McCarthy period, as told in Miriam Budner's novel excerpt "Further."
Most of these stories are from living memory, though some are retold from another generation: grandparents resisting Cossacks and Eastern European partisans resisting the Ustase (Croatian fascists). Nina Judith Katz ("The Good and the True") takes us into the minds of young Russians as virulent anti-Semitic nationalism affects them.
Sometimes telling the story is itself the act of resistance, as in Gila Tal's "Rivka's Tomb" where a grandmother's lonely death is examined. [End Page 2] In other pieces, music ("Words Like Arrows") literature, and art are shown to sustain us.
We are very pleased to include several newly translated poems from the Israeli anthology With An Iron Pen: Hebrew Protest Poetry 1984-2004. The juxtaposition of these searing poems with Davi Walders' poetic portraits of women who resisted during WWII, poems of the German-American writer Ingrid Wendt, and the poems of the Yiddish writers of Proletpen ("Sweet and Functional" review of Proletpen by Dror Abend-David) adds complicated dimensions.
Forming a visual backdrop to all these stories are Lisa Link's "Balance of Power" photomontages, constant reminders of the current precipice we appear to be on.
We hope future issues will include more articles on activist organizations like Jewish Women Watching (p. 89) and this report from Bridges editor Carolivia Herron:
Before I discovered Jews United for Justice...