- Writer / artist / educator / human rights activist
- Fervent anti-Israel and pro-Palestinian advocate
- Supports the International Solidarity Movement and Al-Awda
- Member of Women in Black
- Founded Café Intifada, an arts-events organization that tries to infuse politics into art
Emma Rosenthal claims to have become an activist when she was about ten years old and attended the anti-Vietnam War March on Washington in 1969. Rosenthal later went on to work as a classroom teacher for twenty years, specializing in bilingual and multicultural education. She also became a grassroots organizer for various progressive causes and is currently one of southern California's most prominent anti-Israel, pro-Palestinian advocates.
Rosenthal, who is Jewish, is staunchly anti-Zionist. "I am not a Zionist because I do not support nationalism as a solution to the question of injustice or persecution," she says. Rosenthal argues that Israel's very existence violates the true, universalist spirit of Judaism. She views the Jewish state as nothing more than a colonialist creation that, because of its own belligerent militarism, has actually spawned anti-Semitism throughout the Middle East.
Rosenthal frequently describes her own multicultural Passover Seders as demonstrations of Judaism's true spirit. They include Arab guests where all "pray together, sing, dance, discuss freedom, justice, and tell the story of Passover,” says Rosenthal. “We compare our different traditions, marvel at the similarities, and truly love each other." Rosenthal implies that if Israeli political leaders were to try something resembling this approach in their peace negotiations with Arabs, harmony would decend upon the Middle East fairly quickly.
Rosenthal is a member of Women in Black, an organization whose constituents hold weekly public vigils where, attired in black clothing, they silently protest the deaths of those Palestinians who have lost their lives as a result of Israel's allegedly brutal occupation of the West Bank and (previously) Gaza.
Rosenthal founded Café Intifada (CI), an arts-events organization that aims to "unite art with critical consciousness" – i.e., tries to infuse politics into art. CI highlights (and raises funds for) the work of pro-Palestinian artists who focus on “the current plight of the Palestinian people." The organization's advisory board includes members of prominent and controversial pro-Arab groups such as the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) and the American-Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee (ADC).
Rosenthal also founded the Writing Empowerment Project (WEP) as an extracurricular college-preparatory writing course for high-school students. WEP's advisory board consists of some of the same people who serve on the Café Intifada advisory board, including members of CAIR and ADC.
Rosenthal backs the agendas of the International Solidarity Movement (ISM). In 2003 she signed a statement supporting the Palestine Solidarity Movement's radical Rutgers University wing, which had recently taken a stand in favor of Islamic terrorism and the Palestinian right of return, the latter of which would make Jews a permanent minority in their own country and would thus spell the end of Israel. In January 2004 Rosenthal signed a "Jewish Statement in Opposition to the Geneva Accords," because those Accords did not endorse the full right of return for Palestinians. She also has worked closely with Al-Awda (the Palestine Right to Return Coalition), occasionally co-sponsoring film series and other events with the organization.
Condemning Israel for the “suffering and persecution” it has inflicted on the Palestinians, Rosenthal often likens the present-day Israeli government to that of the German Nazis during the 1930s. She has said, for instance, that Israel's treatment of Palestinians "will only result in the same desperation that besieged those brave fighters in the Warsaw Ghetto, who, with their own lives, defended the ghetto against the Nazis longer than all of the rest of Poland."
Rosenthal favors socialism as the economic model most compatible with the human-rights protections she professes to seek on behalf of Palestinians and other victimized peoples. In March 2010 she condemned “the ravages of capitalism,” equating it with “a boot on your throat.”
Portions of this profile are adapted, with permission, from Stand4Facts.org.