A NOTE ON LETTERS TO THE EDITOR:

We welcome your responses to our articles. Send your letters to the editor to Letters@Tikkun.org. Please remember, however, not to attribute to Tikkun views other than those expressed in our editorials. We email, post, and print many articles with which we have strong disagreements, because that is what makes Tikkun a location for a true diversity of ideas. Tikkun reserves the right to edit your letters to fit available space in the magazine.

JFK’S VIETNAM WITHDRAWAL

Jim Douglass’s article “JFK, Obama, and the Unspeakable” in the November/December 2010 issue of Tikkun has the following statement, claiming to quote National Security Action Memorandum 263 of October 11, 1963, on withdrawing U.S. troops from Vietnam: “It ordered a U.S. troop withdrawal from Vietnam — bringing home ’1,000 U.S. military personnel by the end of 1963′ and ‘by the end of 1965 … the bulk of U.S. personnel.’”When one actually reads the text of National Security Action Memorandum 263 (instantly available on the internet), one finds that the second alleged quote is totally absent. (Nor is it in State Department Telegram No. 534 referenced in the memorandum.) This manufactured quote severely undermines the credibility of Douglass’s implication that JFK was moving toward total withdrawal from Vietnam and that this provided some of the motivation for his assassination. Please correct this serious misstatement of fact.

Edwin Shealy
Asheville, N.C.

Jim Douglass responds:

Thanks to Edwin Shealy for his conscientious critique. It takes us more deeply into the unspeakable.

National Security Action Memorandum 263′s second paragraph reads: “The president approved the military recommendations contained in Section I B (1-3) of the report [of Defense Secretary Robert McNamara and General Maxwell Taylor on their mission to South Vietnam], but directed that no formal announcement be made of the implementation of plans to withdraw 1,000 U.S. military personnel by the end of 1963.”

McNamara and Taylor delivered their report to President Kennedy on October 2, 1963. For the heated National Security Council meeting convened by JFK that evening, the report’s most controversial recommendation (besides I B 3′s almost immediate 1,000-military-personnel withdrawal) was I B 2: “[That] a program be established to train Vietnamese so that essential functions now performed by U.S. military personnel can be carried out by Vietnamese by the end of 1965. It should be possible to withdraw the bulk of U.S. personnel by that time.”

The president already knew the report’s withdrawal recommendations. He had written them. JFK had dictated the passages to General Victor Krulak in the White House, while Krulak’s Pentagon office team was editing the data being cabled by McNamara and Taylor from Vietnam.

Acting against his National Security Council majority, Kennedy endorsed the McNamara-Taylor Report’s withdrawal recommendations in meetings on October 2 and 5. He ordered them to be carried out in NSAM 263 on October 11, 1963. His courageous decision to withdraw from Vietnam was a final nail in his coffin.

HOW TO ACHIEVE TIKKUN OLAM

This is in appreciation for your email message regarding Chanukah and Christmas celebrations and our efforts to “triumph over cynical realism” [also posted at tikkun.org/chanukah2010; please sign up for our emails at tikkun.org/mail].

Your activism in the Spiritual Progressive movement is, in my opinion, in the forefront of our planetary tikkun olam. I am a septuagenarian graduate of Yeshiva University (class of ’56) having since given my entire life to this same cause, tikkun olam.

In this dedication I was led in my spirit to “become a member of the human race,”
bringing with me the teachings of my Jewish training and love of God and my love for the entire human family on Earth. I was given a perspective of our Heavenly Father’s view of the planetary religions, all of which attempt to reach up to our highest understanding of Creation and of the Creator.

It turned out that in this adventure I met Jesus as a Jew, as a lad raised in Galilee, having had the identical training as did I in a Jewish family just like my own. And he brought with him into his public life the very same instincts and truth that you and I both recognize as the divine reality of God’s love for each and every person and for all of Creation.

When it was given to me that Jesus was in fact a bestowal of our Creator, having come here to master the difficult life on this world of rebellion, to reveal to us the Heavenly Father’s love, mercy, and power, and to show us the Father’s way, I then understood what Chanukah was all about: the Father’s joining with us in the celebration of the victory that saved the Jewish people who were soon to host the birth in our world of “the son of God.”

Oppression is not defeated by military victories. The Maccabees did not end the oppression of the Jews; they simply forestalled it until a greater power came upon us. It is the teachings of Jesus (that have never been tried in our world, except by individuals) that will eventually rid mankind of oppression, greed, injustice, intolerance, and war.

Martin Greenhut
Marshall, N.C.

Rabbi Lerner responds:

I believe Jesus was a great Jewish prophet who, like you and me, took seriously the Torah’s command to “love our neighbor” and also to “love the stranger” (the Other — ve’ahavta la’ger). If it helps you to do that by giving Jesus greater status than the rest of us human beings, terrific, though that doesn’t work for me. What matters to me is that we arrive at the same practical conclusions, which include a desire to maximize love on the planet and to overthrow all the kingdoms of arrogance, as the Jewish High Holiday services call for (ve’ta’a'vir memshelet zadone meen ha’aretz). We should overthrow those governments that run the imperial systems of the West — most notably in the United States and NATO countries — and Russia, as well as the oppressive systems of the East, including those in power now in China, Egypt, Saudi Arabia, Iran, Syria, Pakistan, Israel, and all the other oppressive realities. On a personal level, we (myself included) must overthrow the parts of our own consciousness and egos that still seek domination or excessive control and hence don’t fully recognize that love, nonviolence, cherishing and rejoicing in the Other and in the earth, and responding with awe and wonder to all of existence are not only the goal, but the way to achieve it.

WHY GAYS DESERVE EQUAL RIGHTS

As a gay man, an author for Tikkun, and long-time subscriber to the magazine, I want to make some comments on your July/August 2010 section on “Queer Spirituality,” particularly the lead piece by Jay Michaelson who, unfortunately, starts the whole discussion off on the wrong foot.

His first point, “It is not good to be alone,” is an affront to all of us — gay and straight — who have chosen to be non-partnered. Yes, non-chosen loneliness is a problem. But when someone introduces me to their lover/spouse as “my better half,” I usually reply “but you seem completely whole to me.” This “couple-ism” is a pervasive societal pressure, exacerbated by the past few years of action to achieve marriage equality for LGBT people (which I support as an ACLU activist, since it is a blatant denial of equal justice). Please re-think this, Mr. Michaelson.

He then continues, making a really troublesome assertion — that gayness is genetically determined, essential, and unchangeable. There is absolutely no credible scientific research to support such biological statements; I analyzed this issue (almost 15 years ago) in “The Mystique of the Phantom ‘Gay Gene,’” an article that has been widely published.

Neither discrimination nor struggles against it depend on biology — a point finally made many pages later in the magazine by Debra Kolodny. Religion is the prime, but far from the only, example. Religious discrimination is banned, against both converts and those born into a particular faith. (The Seattle ordinance even protects against discrimination based on political opinions — certainly not genetic!)

In his second point — that God loves us and does not want us to harm ourselves — Michaelson makes the startling comment about gay suicides that “it’s odd to kill yourself because of a choice, no?” This is straight-out blaming the victim. It is completely clear from the recent rash of publicized gay suicides that these young men killed themselves because of homophobia, not homosexuality. I am really sorry to have seen this harmful view in Tikkun — why didn’t your editors question it?

Finally, in regard to a point appearing in a number of other essays, the movement for LGBT rights (which is far more active outside the Beltway, by the way — just look at what ACLU affiliates have been doing in rural school districts, protecting gay clubs, prom-goers, newspaper writers, etc.) challenges the denial of equality per se, something Jews should immediately sympathize with. I don’t fight “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” or the denial of marriage equality because I am aping macho institutional values. No, these are the points where the contradiction is greatest and therefore more powerfully exploited, politically. And culturally, as a cofounder of an ACT/UP group, I can attest that being “in their face” is fun as well as a route to promote social change.

Phil Bereano
Seattle, WA

JFK ASSASSINATION

I was blown away by James Douglass’s article, “JFK, Obama, and the Unspeakable” (Tikkun, November/December 2010). Thank you and another thank you for printing his article and the ones following it. We have ordered his book. You are doing great work, and I wish Obama was included in your subscriptions.

Adele Azar-Rucquoi
via email

ASSASSINATION AND ISRAEL?

The article by James W. Douglass, “JFK, Obama, and the Unspeakable,” enumerates several reasons as to why JFK was assassinated, but it overlooks the Israeli connection, which may actually be the fulcrum for this action.

President Kennedy was becoming very insistent on a full inspection of Israel’s Dimona nuclear plant, which Israel had been insisting was for peaceful purposes. In addition, Kennedy was becoming quite sympathetic to the plight of the Palestinians.

As discussed in the article, the Pentagon and the CIA were no friends of Kennedy. The CIA and the Mossad at this time were very entwined. The Mossad needed the CIA to effect the cover-up of the assassination, so it seems quite possible that a bargain was struck for the benefit of both.

So, in addition to the reasons set forth by Mr. Douglass, I submit that there very well could have been one more: the Israeli connection.

Doris Rausch
Columbia, MD

JFK’S COURAGE

Who today can gainsay that we are all caught in the jaws of an incessantly voracious system of global rapacity and violence? Yet as dangerous as this reality is to our collective survival, as detrimental to our planet’s ecological integrity and to human dignity, it is a wildly profitable and addictive arrangement for some. It has been said that war and the preparation for war is a lucrative racket. Presently the pernicious endgame for global domination would make pawns of us all.

In his extraordinary book JFK and the Unspeakable, author Jim Douglass has provided a superlative analysis of the perilous situation that John F. Kennedy challenged so courageously and in so doing paid with his life. Like today’s masters of war, those in power a half-century ago were determined to pursue bellicose foreign policies laden with horrific risks to millions of civilians in myriad parts of the world. Douglass has cogently demonstrated how in the course of his presidency JFK underwent a change — a metanoia — from a cold warrior to an enlightened president willing to confront and stop the martial insanity that pervaded the national security state of his time. The consequences for him were dire and they reverberate throughout our nation and world today.

In his essay in Tikkun, Douglass quotes Martin Luther King on the need for a truly global nonviolent campaign for human rights: “It is clear to me that the next stage of the movement is to become international.” King’s prescient remark anticipated the planetary reach of esurient corporations and their habitual disdain for human needs over their endemic compulsion to maximize profits. King’s opposition to the Vietnam War and his transformation from a national civil rights leader to a global crusader for human and economic rights made him another victim of the furtive politics of assassination.

Douglass is to be applauded for his thorough expatiation of Kennedy’s story, for shedding light on JFK’s conscientious stand against the reckless warlords who surrounded him, and for detailing the unsettling context of his brutal assassination on the streets of Dallas. Although no decent citizen of this country would wish our current president to become another sacrificial lamb, we can only hope that Obama will find some of the same courage that enabled John F. Kennedy to attempt a new and more humane course for our beleaguered and benighted nation.

Joe Martin
Seattle, WA

OBAMA’S FRUSTRATION AND COURAGE

As a clinical social worker I have a hard time believing that an intelligent, historically knowledgeable African-American man running for and becoming president wouldn’t have already made his peace with the real possibility of assassination long before being sworn into office. In the United States, people who are African-American, Native American, female, gay, differently-able, and poor deal with real threats of bodily and psychic harm on a regular basis even when they are not in public office. Chronic post-traumatic stress from life in America is old news for those of us who are not fully part of the white, male, middle-to-elitist class.

I suspect Obama’s decisions are not made out of fear of being killed, but rather attempting to cope with the old paradigm expressed by greedy, fearful, posturing politicians who can only afford to run for office after they’ve been bought by corporations. As Howard Zinn discussed at length in “A People’s History of the United States,” the United States was founded by elitist, patriarchal, murderous, avaricious, slave-holding capitalists, and not nearly enough has changed over the years in this basic dynamic. Groups formerly discriminated against have won the right to be a somewhat larger part of the narcissistic corporatocracy.

Perkins is right about people needing to speak and act. Perhaps if we sustain organization and motivation there are a few things we can change as we stay safe for now, by demonstrating (though often those on the left get very little media attention these days); refusing to buy certain goods, including financial products, while communicating the reasons why, does create some change. However, the large social and policy changes we have experienced through the last century or so came about because people were willing to put their lives and/or their livelihoods on the line for life to be truly better for all. I am thinking of and honoring the bloody, deadly strikes of the labor movement that created a larger middle class in America; outspoken democratic socialists forging the New Deal; the civil rights groups and powerful, courageous actions that led to greater opportunity and equality; and the women who risked death and poverty to leave their abusive, controlling husbands and fathers, often braving dangerous harassment to demonstrate or move into jobs previously held only by men.

I believe Obama knew full well the risks of his office before entering it. He makes his decisions and acts from a courageous center of moral integrity, as he knows he is not the only one at risk. Perhaps it is privileged whites who do not fully grasp the precariousness of their situations, with global warming and pollution, economic unrest, scarcity of resources, and media misinformation and manipulation. When and how will the very real risk of death and environmental destruction created by our political/economic machine register for them so they are willing to proactively put their livelihoods, their lives, or at least their over-privilege on the line so their great grandchildren can thrive on earth?

Or perhaps as the U.S. citizens try to put band-aids on cancer, in the words of indigenous Bolivian president Evo Morales, the rest of the world will rise up against capitalism “because capitalism is not even the solution to capitalism itself. Capitalism is destroying Mother Earth and to destroy Mother Earth is to destroy humanity.” May we all find a way to avoid being assassinated by the weapon of narcissistic greed and begin to support the world in becoming a just and peaceful place for all beings.

Susan J. Wright
via email

PURSUING CHANGE

This morning I read your “Middle East Peace Negotiations” editorial (from November/December 2010) and the Uri Avnery article you shared over email (on November 13), and they are deep, well thought-out, and have deep truths within. I believe, as you do, that change must involve first, some aspect of hope. I also believe this can happen, because thought is mired now in ruts, the same old ruts, and seems so totally stuck, as in that U2 song, “Stuck in a Moment You Can’t Get Out Of.”

For momentous change to occur, small steps are required. Programs like Seeds of Peace move in the right direction, but there needs to be a dispersal of such seeds in all directions.

It’s about a climb toward mutual dignity and respect, and it seems that’s a long, arduous climb. People keep falling off the ladder, and all bridges that lead toward the end point seem to keep blowing up. The global, universal dream is perhaps beyond peaceful coexistence and more like equality, brotherhood, sisterhood, and the removal of all boundaries that separate us. The Middle East, a volatile part of the world whose Biblical past is certainly strewn with victims on all sides, needs healing hands that reach and clasp those who were once truly of the same family.

I do believe we are undergoing, right now, a change in consciousness; a change that is global and that is sweeping the world. It’s like the slow steep and simmer of tea, a consciousness that is about what profits us all, namely this inchoate notion of compassion and love, and those among us who are prophets, are preaching peace on a global world-wide scale. Just look at all the nascent and growing organizations around us that are working for the environment, the ecology and preservation not just of geography and wilderness, but of ourselves, truly, as we need deeply that arrow that some say is propelled by evolution itself.

I must believe we are evolving, through dialogue, toward an understanding that surpasses all others and brings the desire to the surface; that we will extend the olive branches around the world and tie these boughs together with streaming, graceful ribbons.

Thank you and your colleague for a deep analysis of what’s wrong, and steps towards fixing this.

I write into the great void that is silence, and none of my words are ever acknowledged, but I do persist in acknowledging others.

Ruth Housman
Marshfield Hills, MA

NEW ZIONISM AND PEACE

In the September/October 2010 reprint of his speech, Jeremy Ben-Ami states that the new Zionist imperative is to tell Israel the truth. That is a wonderful aspiration. And although most of his lessons from Ami Ayalon are well taken, his thesis leads us nowhere.

He sweeps us off the deck of the Mavi Marmora, urging us to look at the larger picture — Israeli strategy and policy — while ignoring the fact that focusing the world’s sleepy attention on those problems was precisely the flotilla’s purpose and that Israel’s response was a perfect reflection of that policy of violence and assumed impunity.

He shifts our eyes again, this time away from the one-sidedness of the situation and toward the assumed equality of Israel and the Palestinians: the Israelis and Palestinians will not be able to come to a reasonable solution. We have watched diplomacy fail time after time. How does he see equality in the negotiations when one party holds all the cards? And does he not see that a reasonable solution is the last thing Israel wants? “Failure” in diplomacy favors the Israeli policy of slow strangulation, a Holocaust itself in very slow motion.

Anger is swept aside, too: elimination of Israel’s annual three billion dollar allowance would not be productive (so presumably we should keep the money and bombs rolling in). The possibility that some American taxpayers may no longer want to be complicit in Israel’s violence through their tax payments is not addressed. And “painful compromise” is necessary, he says, as if the Palestinians have not, at gunpoint, already given up most of their land and rights. What is left for the compromise except their existence?

But Mr. Ben-Ami offers us a track to take: stay on the “track of strong and assertive American diplomacy.” Where is the strength and assertiveness in the guaranteed veto of any Security Council resolution condemning Israeli actions? In ignoring Jenin and the bombing of Lebanon? In condemning the Goldstone report? In ignoring the deaths on the Mavi? In pretending Gaza doesn’t exist?

What assertion does Israel feel when the house speaker states that we stand “rock solid” with Israel, when all congressional and presidential candidates must genuflect before AIPAC, when U.S. presidents religiously promise never to mention Israeli nukes, and when the three billion dollar yearly is now considered obligatory? Mr. Ben-Ami has a role, too, for the man who, as candidate Obama, stated that “the security [read license] of Israel is sacrosanct.” He should “step up his game,” “step up to the plate,” “step forward” — and do what? Answer: he must go to the region and tell both sides (equality again) what peace looks like, ask if they choose it, and hear the resounding yes.

He recommends that both Jews and non-Jews who want peace in the area form a political constituency as a counterweight to present political forces. A good idea, but what is it to do? He seems to indicate that Israel must be told that it is ruining its chances of remaining Jewish and democratic. Those leaders don’t give a damn about Jewish values; it’s the Jewish facade that they want. And why should they listen? When you warn a spoiled child that his misbehavior will lead to destruction while simultaneously rewarding him for it, which is the stronger message?

If “stepping up to the plate” is synonymous with acting as a leader, then Mr. Ben-Ami is correct about President Obama and there are things that he could and should do despite the risks for him that they entail. He could and should openly recognize the reality of the Zionist enterprise and expose it to the American people (and to those in Israel who are ignorant of it). He could correct the common belief that the European Holocaust was the cause of the creation of Israel and explain that it was an event planned long before the war. He could quote from Ben-Gurion that the Zionist goal was (and is) to “expand to the whole of Palestine.” He could recount the violent displacement of 750,000 Palestinians in 1948 in order to achieve a Jewish majority. He could open the file on the USS Liberty (a revelation that could also put some spine into timid representatives and senators), and explain to Americans that their taxes translate into the shelling of schools and hospitals and the demolition of Palestinian homes. In doing this, he could lead Congress out of its thrall to AIPAC and provide an example for other world leaders.

But Mr. Ben-Ami doesn’t recommend this because he fears the talk would turn to the delegitimization of Israel, which is the heart of the matter. The armor protecting that heart is silence, silence enforced by cries of anti-Semitism and crushed congressional careers. Best stay on strategy and policy. No one wants their dirty linen washed in public, but unfortunately, in public life that’s the way it has to be in order to achieve any real change.

I do not know as much about J Street as I should, but if I were to read Mr. Ben-Ami’s speech as its manifesto, I would conclude that its purpose is to lead Jews and non-Jews who are critical of Israel to a place where their criticism would be ineffective. No anger, continuation of the same “hard” diplomacy, no pressure, ignoring real events, and shaking a finger at Israel and telling it that bad things will happen someday. I hope that J Street has an effective plan and that Mr. Ben-Ami expects us to read between the lines of his speech. I tried, but couldn’t see anything.

Tom O’Connell
Brooklyn, NY

A SPIRITUAL PROGRESSIVE PARTY

The recent election results lead me to imagine an alternative: What would a Spiritual Progressive Party look like? Russ Feingold would be the presidential candidate. The platform would consist of the Spiritual Covenant with America, the Global Marshall Plan and the Environmental and Social Responsibility Amendment (ESRA). Local candidates for congress would advocate for our platform. In some instances, there might be endorsement of major party candidates. The political organizing would be “viral” and online. A growing parallel political space of caring for others and cherishing the sacred world would grow from obscurity to mainstream dialogue. All we would need then would be outlandish hats for the TV cameras.

Bruce Hirsch

Port Washington, New York

VIOLENCE AND PEACE

This letter is in response to the letter from a Maine Jew. I want to express to Nancy Oden from Jonesport, Maine, that someone in Portland gets it. While I am not Jewish, my oldest daughter converted, so I feel like an honorary Jew. I support Nancy’s response to the op-ed piece in the Times of London on January 5, and I recognize the intense debate among all persons regarding the use of violence to achieve an end. Even though I am not a Jew, I am a peace-seeking activist. Bravo for your courage, Michael Lerner. You make all of us think and this is a good thing.

Rita Alfonso LaBarbera
Portland, OR

SCIENCE AND SPIRIT

Your Special Section on “Science and Spirit” (Tikkun, November/December 2010) was so deeply exciting and satisfying that I sat there and shook for a while after finishing it. It is the very best treatment I have ever seen in such accessible form on the complex issue of scientism and the more complete understanding of “life.”

It was especially satisfying to have opposing views equally well represented so the contrast was fresh and astringent with further reading.

I have been working most of my life in a program to encourage the perspective of the individual as subject of his own life, rather than the object, as constantly formulated in this culture. The originator of that program was Marc Edmund Jones, and I have managed to edit his last book, Patterns of Consciousness, and get it published posthumously. It would be a wonderful fit with this special section if you were to review it as part of the follow-up you will certainly be getting for this section. The book presents a pattern of sixteen squares, based on the philosophy of Ibn Gabirol, developing the phases of development of man in the world of fact and in the world of ideas.

Stan Carnarius
via email

PARTY LOYALTY AND CHANGE

It’s time to retire the canard that voting for Nader in some way cost the Democrats Gore’s election — even if the writer wants to have it both ways by saying it didn’t and then arguing that it did, sort of.

The Democrats had a tiresome, wooden candidate who eschewed the party’s breadwinner, Bill Clinton, and tried to go it alone. Moreover, Democrats in white-controlled, black- dominated areas of the South and some Midwestern states continued a long-running practice of throwing out black votes (in order to maintain white control), in this case more than enough to have given Al Gore the necessary margin of clear victory.

People who were voting for Nader weren’t likely to vote for Gore, since — as was the case with Europeans as Hitler rose to power — no one really believed that George W. Bush was going to be as awful as he turned out. People hated Reagan, remember? But even San Franciscans turned out in large numbers for his visits. Bush earned a level of hatred I’ve never experienced in my life of voting. Then again, I’ve never experienced anyone like Bush.

And, while the Republicans might be hopeless, the Democrats really aren’t any better. It belies a level of denial when someone dares to say that the Democrats are somehow salvageable, while the Republicans are simply lost. The system is broken. It’s broken because voters go to the polls and vote for things they don’t understand and haven’t researched (from “Save The Cable Cars,” a bogus initiative that gave us the stunted cable car system we have today; to Prop 13; to Prop 187, which garnered the support of many moderates and liberals who voted for it’s name, “the California Civil Rights Initiative”). The system is broken because people, intelligent and educated people even, will insist that it’s the Other party; “if the Other party simply got out of the way and let Our party govern, we’d get things done.” So they keep voting for their candidates while expecting the other people to vote against their own.

Case in point: Nancy Pelosi. Most San Franciscans wanted impeachment and an overhaul of the farm bill to move it away from commodity crops, and were against the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act; yet Pelosi betrayed us on all three counts. And she was soundly re-elected. You don’t solve problems on the scale that we face by re-electing the people who tell you to eff off.

To begin to fix the system, we need a credible “None Of The Above” that not only throws out the results of an election, but bans the candidates from running in the next two election cycles — and is geared to anticipate parties running throw-away candidates in order to get their hacks on the ballot in the second, less likely to be tossed, election.

We need to end the initiative system as we know it and require all initiatives to indicate a viable and sustainable source of funding that gets voted on with the proposed subject at hand; and, after three to five years, all initiatives should have to go before legislative committees to see that they are performing as advertised, with an eye toward fixing those parts that aren’t working, or are not working as anticipated, and mitigating any unforeseen consequences. The legislature should be compelled to make the initiative law and be unable to water down or in any way reverse the initiative, should power change hands between the vote and the review.

We need a new constitution: one that retains the better parts of the original — specifically its belief that to list our freedoms is to limit them, and when it comes down to the government or the individual, the benefit of the doubt goes to the individual. And, the constitution should ban discrimination in a manner that is unambiguous, yet clearly isn’t making criminal activities (child molestation, prostitution) protected rights. Corporations shouldn’t have rights as individuals. The constitution should also mandate wider participation by all citizens and re-jigger the system from the local level to the federal so that getting involved is easier and more practical — while ensuring that deep-pocketed entities can’t offer contract participation as a way to subvert the will of the people.

It goes without saying that we need to find a way to get people better informed, with an emphasis on revealing the facts, not the partisan or preferred spin on the facts.

None of this is going to be possible if we keep going back to old mythologies about third party sabotage and this party being the good party while the other is irredeemable.

Paul Tominac
via email

QUESTION/POTENTIAL CORRECTION

John Perkins (“Obama: The Fear of Assassination and What You Can Do About It,” Tikkun, November/December 2010) was the keynote speaker at the 2006 Veterans For Peace convention and there he declared that oil/peak depletion was essentially an oil company conspiracy. He knocked on the wood podium as he said that one could even get oil out of it if need be. Maybe he has modified that opinion since then?

Roland James
Seguin, TX

IRANOPHOBIA?

Haggai Ram’s book Iranophobia and Ira Chernus’s article in the November/December issue of Tikkun seem only to deal with perceived Western strategy toward the problematic theocratic state Iran. To say that we in the West (and especially Israel) suffer from “Iranophobia” is absurd. Like “Islamophobia,” it seems to be the kind of buzzword you use to bump in the heads of not-too-politically-correct opponents. Likewise, to equate sound worries toward an outspoken tyranny such as the Mullah state and the calculated insults generated from the mouth of Mahmoud Ahmadinejad seems out of place. Let alone the language used to set apart the two parties.

Ira Chernus’s article is about equalization. There seems to be no difference between democracies and dictatorships. It’s all about scapegoating the Iranians — a strategy designed to solve some internal difficulties in the United States and Israel.

As an answer to anxious questions about the Iranian nuclear build-up, Ahmadinejad uses threats of annihilation. Shoah has never taken place — it’s purely a Zionist invention, according to the priesthood in Tehran. That’s the real reason for calling Ahmadinejad the new Hitler.

I hope that thoughtful people can distinguish between words of concern and those of intimidating intent.

Kiel Hesselmann
Nykobing, Denmark

NEGATIVITY REGARDING ISRAEL

The reason why I do not subscribe to Tikkun is manifested in the November/December 2010 issue, where three articles about Israel (“How Hannah Arendt Was Labeled an ‘Enemy of Israel,’” “Iranophobia: The Panic of the Hegemons,” and “Jewish Anti-Zionism) are all critical or negative about the Jewish state, as though there’s nothing positive or good about the country that is worthy of your coverage. Change your attitude a bit, and I’ll add Tikkun to the other magazines I subscribe to.

Yossi Feintuch
Columbia, MO

DISILLUSIONMENT WITH THE DEMOCRATS

I did a lot of volunteer work for Obama in 2008 here in Chico, where I live. I had not felt so inspired by a presidential candidate since the Kennedys, and I remember ringing doorbells for Bobby Kennedy in 1968 in San Francisco, where I then lived. Unfortunately I feel very let down by Obama. It’s unfortunate that he said during his campaign that his administration was going to be one where the people who supported him would be involved, but then shut us out and is doing everything top-down instead. Also had Obama pushed for Congress to simply extend improved Medicare to everyone (using the term “Medicare,” as everyone knows what Medicare is), had he pushed Congress to pass much larger job programs, more aid to local and state governments (which is certainly bottom-up, as Obama promised in his campaign), climate change legislation, etc., and had he and Harry Reid not allowed the Senate Republicans to filibuster his programs, with a better economy and at least slightly less unemployment, Obama would be very popular now.

The Democrats would actually have stood to gain congressional seats last November instead of losing seats, and furthermore with the Republicans moving so far to the right, the Republicans would have become a permanent minor party. I wrote Obama via the White House website on several occasions and advised him on what he should do, and I know other people who did the same, but unfortunately with his awful staff of insiders like Rahm Emanuel around him he chose to ignore the excellent advice that so many people like me tried to give him. What is needed is to organize at least a million people to come to Washington and sit down in the streets to demand the legislation I mentioned above and abolish the filibuster so the programs will pass. All we really have to do is to get everyone who came to Obama’s inauguration to come back to Washington to participate in this demonstration. As you know, it was because of this kind of action that labor unions got the right to organize, that much of the New Deal was passed, and that we got the civil rights and voting rights legislation passed. Why do you think that Obama ran the kind of campaign that he did, emphasizing that it will be the grassroots who will be in charge when he’s President, and then dissing us and surrounding himself with that awful set of insiders when he became President?

Walter Ballin
via email

THE VANDALIZATION OF LERNER’S HOME

I am responding to the amazing, moving and beautifully written response by Yosef Rosenblatt (Tikkun, September/October 2010).

The path of the Torah is the path of pleasantness, and all its ways lead to completion (Sholom). Does anyone even in his or her wildest fantasy believe that of the path of Zionism or any other nationalist cause?

I couldn’t agree more. For those who take this to heart, this was and always has been the teaching; everything else is deviation from what makes us better human beings, and isn’t that what the Torah is about?

As long as we always are able to put a large question mark on those who propose that violence�will lead to any meaningful solutions, there is hope.

Thank you, Tikkun and all the brave souls who speak truth fearlessly.

John M.
Canada

ABOLISH “DON‘T ASK-DON’T TELL”; FREEZE HOME FORECLOSURES

I absolutely agree with freezing home foreclosures. Sadly, I thought that might have been a tactic used by President Obama when he first took the oath of office. I was thinking — hoping — that he might have taken a bold step and stopped the madness of the Bush/Cheney years. If we think back it was the Bush stink tank that created stimulus and bailouts and first strike and ‘ownership society’ and shopping and borrowing and lending and Bernie Madoff and on and on and on … and on.

What a different world we would have today if we had stopped … even if just for a moment … following 9/11 to take an accounting of our direction in/of the world …

Second, regarding “Don’t Ask-Don’t Tell,” I have never been politically correct on this authority matter. My suspicion has been that DADT was a slick move to invoke a sort of reverse psychology on sissy boys and radical lesbians … tell them that they are unworthy to “serve,” i.e., go into “harms way” … and what do you think they will want to do?

“Hell NO! We won’t go!” was our mantra back then …

And if you ask them why we died? Isn’t it because our fathers (and those who speak on their behalf) have lied?

NO! I think the military-industrial-media (Hobson/Dobson) complex have had their way with us. They have, over the years (into decades) groomed us into becoming indiscriminate breeder/warriors.

I have been frustrated since — was it 1992? — DADT was offered as a solution. Not once in all that time have I ever heard the advocates, either for or against, discuss the insidious matter that “rape” is a reality of war. It was not in context of DADT, but just last week I heard Colonel Ann Wright speak. I think the stat is that one in three women in the military have been raped or sexually assaulted. She also added that many men are raped; “power rape,” as she called it, is a fact of militarism.

Why can’t we address some of those basic conditions of man’s inhumanity to man, or man’s inhumamity to man?

I think the bigger question here is power and control. The military is ALL about hierarchical change of command.

Just this week here at SRJC there is great attention being brought to rape in the Congo …

When will we take the time and maybe the huevos to tackle the question of rape right here (U.S. Air Force Academy in Colorado) in the good ol’ USA?

Yo Buddy Picton
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