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A suburban NJ megamall is offering gender-segregated swimming to accommodate its Orthodox clientele

(JTA) — Featuring 15 water slides, cabanas and an enormous wave pool, the largest indoor water park in the United States is open to all customers almost every day of the year.

Almost.

The calendar for the DreamWorks Water Park at American Dream Mall in East Rutherford, New Jersey, features blackout dates a couple weeks from now, corresponding to two weekdays in the middle of the upcoming Jewish holiday of Sukkot. But while the park’s website says “No Tickets available,” that isn’t actually the case.

Patrons can head over to an Instagram page affiliated with the mall and aimed at Jewish visitors, called “L’chaim American Dream,” where they will see water park tickets being sold at $79 a pop for those very dates — Oct. 2 and 4.

But there’s a twist: The tickets are technically for a private event at the water park, hosted by a separate company that will segregate attendees by gender. On Oct. 2, the park is open to women only and two days later, is open only to men.

The gender-segregated hours are meant to serve haredi Orthodox Jews who abide by strict modesty laws prohibiting men and women from wearing revealing clothing — such as bathing suits — in public. Having separate times for men and women would enable customers to use the waterpark without running afoul of their Jewish observance.

It’s one of the many ways the mall, which opened in 2020, caters to an Orthodox clientele — along with a food court with 13 kosher restaurants and a department store with clothes that adhere to Orthodox standards of modest dress. Accessible to Orthodox communities in Brooklyn, New Jersey and upstate New York and housing a host of activities appropriate for young children, American Dream has made itself into a top destination for Orthodox families. Families are expected to flood to its attractions — including miniature golf courses, ice skating, a theme park and more — during the intermediate days of Sukkot, when haredi yeshivas are typically closed and outings are de rigueur.

In its outdoor spaces, the mall will house multiple sukkahs, the temporary huts erected during the holiday where many Jews eat their meals during the holiday. But the water park’s gender-segregated hours represent the most substantive change planned for the holiday — and to some potential visitors, they are welcome.

“Most women to the right of left-wing Modern Orthodox would seek out this kind of arrangement in order to swim,” said Rifka Wein Harris, a haredi attorney who has advocated for changes in the way Orthodox Jews are portrayed in the media. Otherwise, she said, “I would only swim in a women’s-only environment that was not subject to public view,” such as one that was “gated or enclosed or indoors, around other women.”

Yet for those who advocate for Orthodox women’s inclusion, gender segregation on a weekday afternoon at a large suburban mall has set off alarm bells.

“Individuals can make their own decisions as to how they want to conduct their religious practice,” said Daphne Lazar Price, executive director of the Jewish Orthodox Feminist Alliance and an adjunct professor at Georgetown University Law Center. “But to have a large corporate entity make these kinds of decisions for everyone is problematic.”

The waterpark has offered men- and women-only hours in the past, geared toward Orthodox customers on Sukkot, as well as on Hanukkah and the intermediate days of Passover. On those holidays, as on the intermediate days of Sukkot, observant Jews aren’t prohibited from engaging in commerce or swimming, and their children are generally off of school.

But in the past, those opportunities have been offered at night, after the park’s normal hours of business. This is the first time when it will be gender-segregated during the day.

“This is really the first time we’re doing something during daytime hours, which is usually open for the public,” said a representative of American Dream who responded to a JTA inquiry but declined to give their name or title. “You’re expecting that most of the public or the kids are in school and not coming during that time. “We’re able to close it, close up for gender-separated hours, during these specific days.”

The mall is operated by Triple Five Group, a Canadian conglomerate owned by the Ghermezian family, who are Jewish and also own the Mall of America. In this case, the gender-segregated days are being run under the auspices of a private company that rented the water park for those hours, according to the American Dream representative, who declined to disclose the company’s name.

For some haredi customers, the accommodation is welcome. “This is our [only] chance to go swimming at all, other than the bungalow colony,” Wein Harris said, referring to summer vacation complexes in upstate New York that often offer separate swimming hours to accommodate Orthodox guests. “And for people like me who don’t have a bungalow, we never swim.”

But Lazar Price says the gender-segregated hours are of a piece with “alarming growing trends” she has witnessed — and she isn’t alone. Elana Sztokman, a feminist activist and sociologist, has watched with concern as Orthodox magazines and advertisements have declined to show women’s faces. Now, it seems to her that American Dream is encouraging a communal impulse to separate genders in a way that, she says, will abet the exclusion of women.

“Suddenly what it means to be religious for a man means to be in a completely woman-free world. You can’t have women on the streets, you can’t have women near you,” she added. “These dynamics tell you that this has nothing to do with protecting women. It has to do with creating women free-zones so that men don’t have to deal with the fact that women exist.”

Gender segregation in public spaces has long been hotly debated in Israel, which has a large haredi community with political representation that sits in the current right-wing government. Some public buses in Israel have enforced gender separation, and there has been a proposal to have some publicly maintained natural springs do so at times.

Sztokman, who lives in Israel, sees a common thread between the policy at American Dream mall and the separation of men and women in her country.

“I feel like what’s happening in America is an extension of this because the haredi communities are connected; the religious communities are connected. If one practice becomes a norm then in one place, then the other communities have to ‘keep up with the Cohens’ kind of thing,” Sztokman said. “You can’t be less religious than your religious cousin across the ocean. You have to keep up.”

In the United States, institutions that attempt to enforce gender segregation in order to appeal to haredi customers have, in the past, run afoul of the law. In 2018, a federal appeals court ruled that an over-55 condominium complex in the heavily Orthodox city of Lakewood, New Jersey, was in violation of the Fair Housing Act because it offered separate swimming hours for men and women. Three non-Orthodox residents, including a married couple, filed a lawsuit against the complex after they were fined for refusing to get out of the pool when coed swimming hours had finished.

But when it comes to public accommodations such as publicly accessible swimming pools, the law appears to be different, said Michael Helfand, a scholar of religious law and religious liberty at Pepperdine University who is also a legal adviser to a branch of the Orthodox Union.

“Generally you can’t do this,” Helfand said. “But New Jersey has an exception that allows this kind of gender separation, gender exclusion under some circumstances.”

The federal Civil Rights Act does not bar discrimination in public accommodations on the basis of sex. The New Jersey law that Helfand cited permits a number of establishments to restrict entry by sex if they are places that could be “reasonably restricted exclusively to individuals of one sex.” The list includes summer and day camps, resorts, dressing rooms, bathhouses, gyms, schools and swimming pools.

“There’s strong reason to think that having separate hours at a private New Jersey swimming pool would not subject the swimming pool to liability under New Jersey’s anti-discrimination law,” Helfand said. “There’s likely intuition that under some circumstances, that kind of gender separation, given a particular clientele, given a particular business might, quote-unquote, make sense.”

Wein Harris is excited by the prospect of enjoying an environment that accords with her religious requirements at an attraction that bills itself as the “largest indoor water park in North America.”

“I am overwhelmingly happy that our needs are being seen in a world where they’re not otherwise being seen,” she said.


The post A suburban NJ megamall is offering gender-segregated swimming to accommodate its Orthodox clientele appeared first on Jewish Telegraphic Agency.

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The Associated Press Removes Threats of Violence and Hamas Support From Articles

Vandalism outside the home of Brooklyn Museum Director Anne Pasternak. Photo: New York Mayor Eric Adams’ Twitter account.

Even as authorities from Sydney to Brooklyn were still investigating and removing pro-Hamas graffiti, the Associated Press engaged in a scrubbing of a different sort.

In a June 10 article about the anti-Israel vandalism of the US consulate in Sydney, the Associated Press initially whitewashed a menacing symbol used to denote support for Hamas since the terror organization’s Oct. 7 terror massacre of murder, rape and countless other atrocities (“Australia PM urges activists to ‘turn down the heat’ after US consulate vandalized over Gaza war“).

The AP euphemistically reported about the symbols used to express support for the designated terror organization as follows:

Two inverted red triangles, seen by many as a symbol of Palestinian resistance, were also painted on the front of the building.

A screenshot of the AP’s headline about the vandalism in Australia, along with an accompanying video which briefly shows the red triangles:

Given that Hamas uses the red triangle in its videos documenting attacks on Israelis, it signifies support for the designated terror organization. “Resistance” doesn’t quite convey the horrors that went down on Oct. 7.

The New York Post detailed the association of the red triangles with Hamas terrorism:

The triangle became a prevalent symbol online and offline beginning in November 2023 following Hamas’ Oct. 7 attack on Israel and Israel’s aggressive retaliatory offensive, according to the Anti Defamation League.

It first appeared in propaganda videos from the al-Qassam brigades — Hamas’ military wing — to highlight an Israeli soldier that was about to be killed or wounded in a targeted attack by the terrorists.

In the clips, the red triangle followed the target, which was then hit with a sniper’s bullet, a rocket-propelled grenade or another deadly blast.

“Though it can be used innocuously in general pro-Palestine social media posts, the inverted red triangle is now used to represent Hamas itself and glorify its use of violence in many popular anti-Zionist memes and political cartoons,” the ADL says on its website.

For example, the group said, anti-Israel protesters will put the symbol over an image of Israeli soldiers or on a Star of David “as a way to call for further violent resistance.”

In response to communication from CAMERA’s Israel office, the AP moderately improved its explanation of the red triangles, revising the sentence to at least include reference to Hamas:

Two inverted red triangles, seen by some as a symbol of Palestinian resistance but by others as supporting the militant group Hamas, were also painted on the front of the building.

While an AP video paired with the article briefly showed the red triangles defacing the US consulate, the AP’s still photographs made do with boarded up windows. The accompanying captions also ignored the sinister red triangles:

A couple walks past the boarded windows at the U.S. consulate as police investigate the vandalism in Sydney, Monday, June 10, 2024. A suspect is believed to have smashed nine holes in the reinforced glass windows of the building in North Sydney after 3 a.m., a police statement said. (AP Photo/Rick Rycroft)

Meanwhile, red triangle vandalism took an even darker turn when the pro-terror symbol, used repeatedly to mark targets, appeared June 11 on the New York co-op building where Anne Pasternak, the Jewish director of the Brooklyn Museum, lives.

In coverage of that incident, the AP didn’t simply scrub the pro-Hamas significance of the symbol. Instead, the AP entirely sliced the ominous red triangles out of the story, which referred only to red paint. In his Jan. 13 article, Philip Marcelo selectively reported (“Apparent Gaza activists hurl paint at homes of Brooklyn Museum leaders, including Jewish director“):

People purporting to be pro-Palestinian activists hurled red paint at the homes of top leaders at the Brooklyn Museum, including its Jewish director, and also splashed paint across the front of diplomatic buildings for Germany and the Palestinian Authority early Wednesday, prompting a police investigation and condemnation from city authorities.

Mayor Eric Adams, in a post on the social platform X, shared images of a brick building splashed with red paint with a banner hung in front of the door that called the museum’s director, Anne Pasternak, a “white-supremacist Zionist.”

But the images that Mayor Adams shared didn’t merely show “a brick building splashed with red paint” and a banner denouncing Pasternak as a “white supremacist Zionist.”

Adams’ post on X includes four photographs of the vandalism, all displaying the huge red triangles which absolutely cannot be missed. And yet AP chose not to note the presence of the threatening imagery, much less explain its significance.

This is not peaceful protest or free speech. This is a crime, and it’s overt, unacceptable antisemitism.

These actions will never be tolerated in New York City for any reason. I’m sorry to Anne Pasternak and members of @brooklynmuseum‘s board who woke up to hatred like this.

I… pic.twitter.com/vi17PumBoM

— Mayor Eric Adams (@NYCMayor) June 12, 2024

The AP’s ubiquitous photographers — the prolific bunch churns out 1.2 million images annually — also didn’t manage to capture the shocking scene of Pasternak’s home defaced with what amounts to a murder threat.

Instead, the cadre of photojournalists suffice with an image of the German consulate, which was vandalized with red paint, apparently applied in an abstract arrangement, sans red triangles. Like Marcelo’s article, the photograph’s caption also paints over the pro-Hamas imagery, referring to a random splashing of color:

Red paint covers portions of the entrance to the German consulate building, Wednesday, June 12, 2024, in New York. Pro-Palestinian protesters have vandalized locations associated with the Brooklyn Museum and United Nations in New York City, throwing red paint across their entrances in opposition to the ongoing war between Israel and Hamas in Gaza. (AP Photo/Sophie Rosenbaum)

Not only does the caption neglect to note the Hamas-linked graphic, it also ignores that the “locations associated with the Brooklyn Museum” were private homes.

It’s not just Hamas graphics that are subjected to AP’s scrubbing. A pro-Hamas organization also gets sanitized.

Here’s how the AP’s Marcelo whitewashes the pro-Hamas Within Our Lifetime group:

The protest group Within Our Lifetime and other organizers of that demonstration said the museum is “deeply invested in and complicit” in Israel’s military actions in Gaza through its leadership, trustees, corporate sponsors and donors — a claim museum officials have denied.

He says not a word about the organization’s support for Hamas. According to ADL, Within Our Lifetime:

has hosted or co-sponsored at least 78 anti-Israel rallies many of which included explicit support for violence against Israeli civilians by U.S. designated Foreign Terrorist Organizations  Hamas, The Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP), Hezbollahthe Houthis and affiliated individuals such as Leila Khaled and Hamas’ military wing spokesperson Abu Obaida. WOL also expressed enthusiastic support for Iran’s unprecedented April 13 drone-and-missile attack on Israel.

Marcelo similarly sluices down Within Our Lifetime’s horrifying and deep embrace of terror at the demonstration outside the Nova Festival massacre last week. His censored account states:

The paint attacks came the same week that Within Our Lifetime organized a large demonstration outside a New York City exhibition memorializing victims of the Oct. 7 Hamas attack on the Tribe of Nova music festival. The group called it “Zionist propaganda” and dismissed the music festival, where hundreds died, as “a rave next to a concentration camp.”

The AP spares its readers from the most disturbing aspects from the event. As The Times of Israel reported:
Protesters set off flares, flew flags of Hamas’s armed al-Qassam Brigades terror wing and of the Hezbollah terror group, and carried banners with slogans such as “Long live October 7” and “The Zionists are not Jews and not humans.”
 On June 11, Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) denounced the antisemitism of the pro-Hamas crowd outside the Nova Festival exhibit, twice citing those most heinous lines:

What was even worse, or at least adding salt into the wounds was that just a day or two after I visited the exhibit, protestors gathered outside the exhibit chanting repugnant antisemitic phrases, donning banners that read “Long Live October 7th” and “The Zionists are not Jews and not humans.” How low can you go ?

Having visited the exhibit and seeing those young people and then knowing and seeing on film what happened to them at the vicious hands of Hamas, and then having people come outside and protest and say “Long Live October 7th” and “The Zionists are not Jews and not humans.” How repugnant. How despicable. How terribly unnerving that humanity could sink that low.

And yet, at this low point for humanity, AP has relegated these repugnant slogans glorifying mass murder to the dustbin of history.

Tamar Sternthal is the director of CAMERA’s Israel Office. A version of this article previously appeared on the CAMERA website.

The post The Associated Press Removes Threats of Violence and Hamas Support From Articles first appeared on Algemeiner.com.

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Netanyahu Disbands War Cabinet, Says No Need After Gantz’s Resignation

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu addresses the Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations, amid the ongoing conflict between Israel and Hamas, in Jerusalem, Feb. 18, 2024. Photo: REUTERS/Ronen Zvulun

i24 News — Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu announced on Monday that he will dissolve the six-member War Cabinet, a move that was expected following the departure from government of the centrist former general Benny Gantz.

During a meeting of the State Security Cabinet, Netanyahu said that the War Cabinet was established following Blue and White leader Gantz’s demand to join the coalition, and that after he left there is no reason to maintain it.

Netanyahu made it clear that he will continue limited security consultations. He rejected establishing a forum of coalition heads for security consultations, an idea that was brought up during the meeting.

 In practice, the expanded cabinet will meet more often. According to Israeli law, the powers and responsibilities for making decisions on managing the war effort are vested in State Security Cabinet.

The Prime Minister’s Office said that, regardless, Netanyahu will continue to consult regularly with Defense Minister Yoav Gallant and other representatives of the defense establishment.

National Security Minister Itamar Ben Gvir lobbied to join the War Cabinet since its inception in the beginning of the war with Hamas in October. After Gantz announced he would leave the coalition and demand elections, thereby resigning from the War Cabinet, the far-right Ben Gvir demanded to be added to the small council. Such a move likely would have intensified strains with international partners including the United States.

The war cabinet was formed after Gantz joined Netanyahu in a national unity government at the start of the conflict. Gantz left the government last week over what he described as Netanyahu’s failure to form a strategy for the Gaza war.

The post Netanyahu Disbands War Cabinet, Says No Need After Gantz’s Resignation first appeared on Algemeiner.com.

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Only 9% of Palestinians Think Hamas Committed War Crimes; 67% Support Oct. 7 Atrocities

Marwan Barghouti gestures as Israeli police bring him into the District Court for his judgment hearing in Tel Aviv, May 20, 2004. Photo: Reuters / Pool / David Silverman.

There have been shocking poll results in the latest survey by the Palestinian Center for Policy and Survey Research (PSR).

Only 9% of Palestinians think Hamas committed war crimes, while a whopping 67% support the Oct. 7 attacks.

For those who still delude themselves into thinking that Palestinians are moderate, think again.

For president, Palestinians overwhelmingly prefer the Hamas leader (46%) over the Palestinian Authority (PA)/Fatah leader (5%). Fatah is only preferred when their candidate is the terrorist Marwan Barghouti, a convicted murderer, who is serving 5 life sentences.

This must be an eye-opener for Americans and Europeans, who are pressuring Israel to accept the Palestinian Authority as a peace partner. The PA represents no one. According to this poll, the Palestinian population is not interested in peace. Mahmoud Abbas only represents himself. And if the Palestinians ever have a future election, they are certain to elect a terrorist as president and Hamas to rule the parliament.

The following are some of the most important findings in the latest poll by the PSR. Palestinians were questioned between May 26 and June 1, 2024. The poll includes Palestinians from the West Bank and the Gaza Strip.

Was Hamas’ decision to launch the October 7 offensive correct or incorrect?

Correct: 67% (West Bank 73%, Gaza Strip 57%)

Incorrect: 26% (West Bank 17%, Gaza Strip 41%)

Are you satisfied with the performance in the war?

Hamas: 64% satisfied

Fatah (Palestinian Authority): 14% satisfied

War crimes

97% – Israel committed war crimes

9% – Hamas committed war crimes

Who should rule the Gaza Strip after the war?

Hamas: 71%

Current PA (with or without Abbas): 12%

A new PA: 16%

If presidential elections were held today between these two, for whom would you vote?

Mahmoud Abbas from Fatah: 5%

Ismail Haniyeh from Hamas: 46%

If presidential elections were held today between these three, for whom would you vote?

Mahmoud Abbas from Fatah: 2%

Ismail Haniyeh from Hamas: 23%

Marwan Barghouti from Fatah: 47%

If elections were held today for parliament, how would you vote?

Hamas: 31%

Fatah: 17%

Other parties: 4%

Will not vote or don’t know: 51%

Which side will win the war?

Hamas: 67%

Israel: 11%

89% say Mahmoud Abbas should resign.

Itamar Marcus is Founder and Director of Palestinian Media Watch, where a version of this article first appeared.

The post Only 9% of Palestinians Think Hamas Committed War Crimes; 67% Support Oct. 7 Atrocities first appeared on Algemeiner.com.

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