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This California Jewish teen is helping Spanish-speaking learners become teachers — and student leaders in their schools

Like many Southern Californians, Romy Greenwald’s first language was Spanish. Romy was born in the United States, but her grandparents had immigrated to the United States from Mexico and Cuba, and her parents spoke Spanish to her.

So it was no surprise when Romy began at Dos Pueblos High School in Santa Barbara that she quickly became friends with many fellow Spanish-speaking students.

Unlike Romy, however, who is fully bilingual, many of her friends were relatively recent immigrants who struggled with integrating into the school’s English-speaking environment.

“I was the only student they knew outside of their English learning program who spoke English,” recalled Romy, now 18. “It’s very isolating to be in that situation because they really want to learn English and be a part of the school. But sometimes they were surrounded by immigrants and Spanish speakers all day, which can be comfortable but ultimately wasn’t helpful in terms of real integration, meeting other kids and learning the language.”

Romy wanted to help bridge this divide, so she created a program for recent immigrants and native English speakers studying Spanish to help one another learn the other’s mother tongue. This model not only helped with language skills, but also fostered social integration and a sense of leadership and pride among the students, especially the recent immigrants.

Several years later, the program, called MiSendero, Spanish for “my path,” now has a presence in multiple schools in California and Florida. (California schools have an estimated 1.1 million English language learners — about 20% of the nationwide total.)

Recently, Romy was recognized for her work with a 2023 Diller Teen Tikkun Olam Award, given annually by the San Francisco-based Helen Diller Family Foundation to recognize socially committed young leaders whose dedication to volunteerism exemplifies the spirit of tikkun olam — Hebrew for repairing the world. The award is given to 15 teenagers every year and comes with a $36,000 prize.

“I’m so excited to have gotten this award from the Diller Foundation, and I am super grateful to all the amazing people who made it possible,” Romy said. “What started as a way to help some of my friends learning English participate in activities at my school has turned into a much bigger dream of creating pathways for immigrant student integration and success across the country.”

Romy Greenwald created MiSendero to help bridge the divide in her high school between Spanish-speaking immigrants and native-born Californians. (Courtesy of Diller Teen Tikkun Olam Awards)

Looking back at what fueled her success, Romy says she found inspiration in her own family. Her mother was born in America but did not speak English before entering school. She was put into the “English learner” program in kindergarten and gained fluency by the time she completed elementary school.

Yet other immigrants, especially recent arrivals, find that integrating linguistically, culturally and socially is almost beyond their reach.

“They get put into these programs once they arrive, and then they never meet anyone else outside the program,” Romy said of the English-learning tracks. “It can be a social bubble.”

MiSendero takes immigrants out of that bubble and turns them into the leaders, Romy noted. Instead of being English learners, they become teachers, tutoring the native English speakers in Spanish. The students meet in weekly clubs where they can do homework together, or just practice conversation.

Once this setup got underway at Romy’s school, teachers and administrators quickly saw it shifted perceptions, relationships, and leadership roles — while raising students’ grades in a variety of subject areas. Administrators enthusiastically supported the program, and count tutoring time in MiSendero toward community service hours.

Over time, the program has grown. A website offers training materials and provides participants with workshops and support. During COVID, MiSendero pivoted to an online model and began matching pairs of students based on shared interests, such as art or music. When COVID restrictions eased and the students eventually met, they would go to after-school art or music clubs together.

Romy recently graduated high school, but the five schools that adopted MiSendero have made the program a permanent part of the school day, bringing new students into leadership roles.

For Romy, supporting Spanish-speaking students goes hand in hand with her Jewish passions. She ran the Jewish club at her high school, is a proud member of her local Reform temple and spent part of high school in Israel, where she has close relatives.

When Romy starts at Duke University this fall as an incoming freshman, she plans to become active in the local Hillel chapter. As for the award money from the Helen Diller Family Foundation, Romy said, she plans to use that to further her own education.


The post This California Jewish teen is helping Spanish-speaking learners become teachers — and student leaders in their schools appeared first on Jewish Telegraphic Agency.

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Iran Attacks Israel: CNN Host Minimizes Barrage & Fake News Goes Viral

An anti-missile system operates after Iran launched drones and missiles towards Israel, as seen from Ashkelon, Israel, April 14, 2024. Photo: REUTERS/Amir Cohen

Iran launched an unprecedented direct attack on Israel on Saturday, sending at least 300 drones and missiles towards the Jewish state.

The Israel Defense Forces (IDF) coordinated with other militaries, including the US and UK, to intercept most of the projectiles, which were also supplemented by further rockets fired from Iranian terror proxies in Iraq, Syria, and Yemen.

Iranian-backed Hezbollah also joined the assault, and announced that it had fired two barrages of rockets at an Israeli military base in the Golan Heights.

Hamas gained support for Oct 7 by inciting fear among Palestinians about Israel’s intentions for the Temple Mount.

Tonight, Israel protected their holy sites from missiles fired by Hamas’s patron Iran. pic.twitter.com/sluuiXgbzb

— HonestReporting (@HonestReporting) April 14, 2024

Fake News Goes Viral Overnight

As the skies above and surrounding Israel were lit up with rockets overnight, social media was also alight with fake news, videos, and photos purporting to be of the extraordinary attack.

While the majority of outright false information came from users on the platform X (formerly known as Twitter), Qatari mouthpiece Al Jazeera was also caught publishing a video that it falsely claimed showed rockets hitting Tel Aviv.

Meanwhile, infamous pro-Hamas influencer Jackson Hinkle was among the X platform users to share fake footage that he said showed “Israelis panicking” as the Iranian barrages hit Israel. BBC Verify journalist Shayan Sardarizadeh confirmed the video was actually of crowds in Argentina waiting to meet a musician. 

This video, posted by Jackson Hinkle and others and viewed nearly 5 million times, claims to show “Israelis panicking” as Iran’s missiles and drones reach Israel.

in fact, it shows Louis Tomlinson fans near Four Seasons Hotel in Buenos Aires, Argentina last week; verified by… pic.twitter.com/11tX9bL0sh

— Shayan Sardarizadeh (@Shayan86) April 14, 2024

Hinkle, who was recently banned from Instagram, posted numerous messages of support for Iran throughout the attack, including several posts praising Iran’s Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei and AI-generated images of planes dropping bombs.

Unsurprisingly, Iran’s state TV was behind the spread of many videos that purported to show catastrophic damage in Israel, including one that was actually of a fire in Chile that was filmed in February.

On the left: Iranian state media claiming this is footage from an Iranian missile which hit Israel.

On the right: the same footage from a fire in Chile in February.

𝐑𝐞𝐦𝐢𝐧𝐝𝐞𝐫 𝐭𝐨 𝐭𝐡𝐞 𝐈𝐫𝐚𝐧𝐢𝐚𝐧 𝐑𝐞𝐠𝐢𝐦𝐞: our defense systems intercepted 99% of their missiles. pic.twitter.com/xpLXGO3qd0

— Israel ישראל (@Israel) April 14, 2024

Perhaps hoping to ratchet up the tension, a number of users shared claims that Israel had immediately launched a drone counterstrike on Iran, including sharing videos of what they claimed was a fire in Tehran.

Others shared footage of the 2020 Beirut Port explosion, which they said showed Israel’s Mossad bombing the Iranian capital.

BREAKING: A massive drone strike has occurred in Iran’s capital, Tehran. The Israeli Mossad has already claimed responsibility for it. pic.twitter.com/Q9VdxI6heV

— GSPs Backup (@ConLibCon) April 13, 2024

The international media responded to the overnight attack with breaking news updates and rolling live coverage.

While most of the reporting stuck to the facts, there were a few instances of the media either downplaying the attack or obscuring the sequence of events that preceded Iran’s assault.

CNN pundit Christiane Amanpour, for example, ludicrously described the attack as “entirely targeted,” even though hundreds of thousands of Israelis were forced into shelters as large parts of the country remained under threat.

“It seems to be entirely targeted; it wasn’t an attack directed at the whole of Israel.”@amanpour, try telling that to the hundreds of thousands of Israelis who were forced into bomb shelters or the 7-year-old girl critically injured by shrapnel to her head. pic.twitter.com/XtZaPY8zmR

— HonestReporting (@HonestReporting) April 14, 2024

The BBC and ABC News Australia did not specify in their headlines that Iran had fired hundreds of drones and long-range missiles at Israel, instead vaguely referring to the weapons as “objects.” Furthermore, ABC News Australia’s headline failed to mention Iran at all.

“Objects.”

Well done, @BBCNews. https://t.co/289O02VZRl pic.twitter.com/oo16CLpxk4

— HonestReporting (@HonestReporting) April 14, 2024

The New York Times, in its coverage, suggested that the attack was somehow justified by asserting that Israel had “bombed an Iranian embassy complex” in Damascus. In reality, Israel targeted a building near the embassy that was being used by Iranian Revolutionary Guards Corp (IRGC) leaders to coordinate attacks on Israel.

The Observer published an editorial mere hours after the attack, calling for any further escalation to be prevented:

Amid the present tumult, it should not be forgotten that this Iranian attack was provoked, according to Iran’s leadership at least, by Israel’s unacknowledged bombing on 1 April of an Iranian embassy annex in Damascus that killed several senior commanders. In Tehran’s not unreasonable view, that attack crossed a red line by targeting diplomatic premises.” [emphasis added]

Let us be completely clear: there is nothing “unreasonable,” as The Observer suggests, about Israel striking the infrastructure of the world’s biggest state sponsor of terrorism that was being used to mastermind attacks on Israel. Suggesting it was merely a diplomatic facility is nothing short of absurd.

According to @ObserverUK, “this Iranian attack was provoked, according to Iran’s leadership at least, by Israel’s unacknowledged bombing on 1 April of an Iranian embassy annex in Damascus that killed several senior commanders. In Tehran’s not unreasonable view, that attack… pic.twitter.com/sXidFByZTZ

— HonestReporting (@HonestReporting) April 14, 2024

The author is a contributor to HonestReporting, a Jerusalem-based media watchdog with a focus on antisemitism and anti-Israel bias — where a version of this article first appeared.

The post Iran Attacks Israel: CNN Host Minimizes Barrage & Fake News Goes Viral first appeared on Algemeiner.com.

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Hamas Leader Haniyeh Set to Meet Turkish President Erdogan

Hamas chief Ismail Haniyeh speaks during a press conference in Tehran, Iran, March 26, 2024. Photo: Majid Asgaripour/WANA (West Asia News Agency) via REUTERS

i24 News — Ismail Haniyeh, the political leader of the Palestinian Islamist terror group Hamas, is scheduled to visit Turkey for talks with Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan, according to reports from broadcaster NTV.

Erdogan had earlier confirmed the upcoming meeting while addressing lawmakers from his AK Party in parliament, reaffirming Turkey’s stance on Hamas as a “liberation movement.”

The meeting comes in the wake of a phone call last Wednesday, during which Erdogan offered condolences to Haniyeh after three of his sons were reportedly killed in an Israeli airstrike in Gaza.

“Israel will definitely be held accountable before the law for the crimes against humanity it committed,” Erdogan told Haniyeh, according to the AFP news agency.

Confirming the fatalities, the Israel Defense Forces (IDF) stated that the three operatives killed in the strike were indeed the sons of Haniyeh, the chairman of Hamas’ political bureau. One of Haniyeh’s sons was allegedly involved in holding Israeli hostages. The IDF described all three as terrorist operatives in Hamas’ armed wing.

Erdogan’s support for Hamas has been evident amid renewed tensions between Turkey and Israel. Although the two countries announced the normalization of relations in August 2022, Erdogan has resumed his verbal attacks on Israel since the onset of the war in Gaza.

In one of his speeches, Erdogan harshly criticized Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, accusing him of committing atrocities in Gaza and dubbing him as the “butcher of Gaza.”

The post Hamas Leader Haniyeh Set to Meet Turkish President Erdogan first appeared on Algemeiner.com.

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CAIR Accuses ADL of Spreading Hate, Despite Controversial Oct. 7 Comments

Nihad Awad, co-founder and executive director of the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR). Photo: Screenshot

The Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) has accused the Anti-Defamation League (ADL) of fanning the flames of hate and called for the firing of its CEO, Jonathan Greenblatt, for a recent comment he made that it was unacceptable for someone wearing a keffiyeh to chant “death to the Zionists.”

The accusation against one of America’s most prominent Jewish civil rights groups came after CAIR, another well known nonprofit, received widespread criticism late last year when its executive director said was “happy” to see Gazans “break the siege” during the Hamas terror group’s Oct. 7 massacre across southern Israel.

CAIR on Monday released a letter with more than 60 other organizations, labeling Greenblatt, who is widely perceived as politically liberal, as an “extreme [supporter] of the Israeli government” who has “smear[ed] Palestinian human rights advocates.”

The letter alleged that Greenblatt “analogiz[ed] the Palestinian keffiyeh to the Nazi swastika” during an appearance on MSNBC’s Morning Joe television program late last month.

On the show, Greenblatt said that people should be concerned about the tactics of anti-Israel activists on college campuses because when they graduate they would be joining “your board rooms, they’re going to editorial boards, they’re going to the assignment desk of news networks.”

He argued that “if you wouldn’t tolerate” someone saying “death to the Zionists, I wish for that and worse” while they were “wearing a swastika on their arm, I’m sorry, you should not tolerate it if you’re wearing a keffiyeh on their head.” He further noted it was wrong to call for “death to” anyone.

CAIR’s letter did not directly quote Greenblatt’s comment, instead only opting to include the group’s  interpretation of it. 

The letter also alleged that the ADL chief has refused to clarify what he said.

Greenblatt responded to CAIR’s claims in a statement to The Algemeiner.

“Comments I made weeks ago are unsurprisingly being taken entirely out of context by CAIR, an organization that seems to specialize in fiction rather than fact,” he said. “To be crystal clear: hate speech calling for the death of people should not be tolerated whether the person is wearing a Nazi armband or a keffiyeh, a kippah or a cross, or anything else for that matter.”

“I’m not comparing the garb,” Greenblatt emphasized. “I’m comparing the hate speech and how it shouldn’t be tolerated from anyone, period.”

This week’s spat between the two organizations came after the head of CAIR said he was “happy” to witness Hamas’ rampage across southern Israel on Oct. 7, when the Palestinian terrorist group invaded the Jewish state from neighboring Gaza, murdered 1,200 people, and kidnapped 253 others as hostages.

“The people of Gaza only decided to break the siege — the walls of the concentration camp — on Oct. 7,” CAIR co-founder and executive director Nihad Awad said in a speech during the American Muslims for Palestine convention in Chicago in November. “And yes, I was happy to see people breaking the siege and throwing down the shackles of their own land, and walk free into their land, which they were not allowed to walk in.”

Awad was referring to the blockade that Israel and Egypt enforced on Gaza after Hamas took control of the Palestinian enclave in 2007, to prevent the terror group from importing weapons and other materials and equipment for attacks.

About a week later, the executive director of CAIR’s Los Angeles office, Hussam Ayloush, said that Israel “does not have the right” to defend itself from Palestinian violence. He added in his sermon at the Islamic Society of Greater Oklahoma City that for the Palestinians, “every single day” since the Jewish state’s establishment has been comparable to Hamas’ Oct. 7 onslaught.

CAIR has long been a controversial organization. In the 2000s, it was named as an unindicted co-conspirator in the Holy Land Foundation terrorism financing case. Politico noted in 2010 that “US District Court Judge Jorge Solis found that the government presented ‘ample evidence to establish the association’” of CAIR with Hamas.

According to the ADL, “some of CAIR’s current leadership had early connections with organizations that are or were affiliated with Hamas.” CAIR has disputed the accuracy of the ADL’s claim and asserted that CAIR “unequivocally condemn[s] all acts of terrorism, whether carried out by al-Qa’ida, the Real IRA, FARC, Hamas, ETA, or any other group designated by the US Department of State as a ‘Foreign Terrorist Organization.’”

The post CAIR Accuses ADL of Spreading Hate, Despite Controversial Oct. 7 Comments first appeared on Algemeiner.com.

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