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Armenian Genocide—time for acknowledgement and healing

Mar22

by: Alev Dudek on March 22nd, 2017 | 2 Comments »

As April 24, the anniversary of the Armenian Genocide is nearing, many countries are going to take the opportunity, again, and prove their moral superiority by judging Turkey. The morally superior even include countries such as Germany that was involved in more than one genocide in the beginning of the last century. As perpetrators of the first genocide of the 20th century against the Herero in Namibia, Germany may have also had a role, the extent of which is still unclear, in the deportation of Armenians in the Ottoman Empire. Often praised for her dealings with the Holocaust, it took Germany over 100 years to finally acknowledge the genocide against the Herero in 2015. Countries such as France, Switzerland, Slovakia, Cyprus, and Greece have so far shown their moral superiority by suppressing speech and making it a crime not to acknowledge the [Armenian] genocide while very comfortably judging Turkey for her shortcomings on freedom and democracy.

 

A case for calling it genocide

While inconsistently and selectively admitting that (mass) killings and “relocations” did occur, Turkish officials to-date claim that the events don’t meet the definition of genocide, Article 2 of the Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide from 1948. They argue that there was no intent to destroy Armenians as an entire group. They refer to the fact that many Armenians survived and there was no history of singling out and targeting of Armenians as an ethnic group prior to the events, as it was the case with the Jews in Germany. They claim that the actions taken by the Ottomans were in response to threats and subsequently were of defensive nature.


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Humor From Tikkun

Mar21

by: David Tell, Tikkun Managing Editor and Chief Satirist on March 21st, 2017 | No Comments »

Trump Motivates Congressional GOP on Health Bill

Donald J. Trump issued a warning to Republican House members in a closed-door meeting on Capitol Hill as dissension within GOP ranks over the proposed Obamacare replacement bill has been heating up.

According to widespread reports, Trump told lawmakers he would help ensure they lose their seats in 2018 if they don’t back the GOP health-care bill.


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A Response to “Overcoming Trump-ism” and More

Mar16

by: Gilbert Caldwell on March 16th, 2017 | No Comments »

Gilbert Caldwell of Asbury Park, New Jersey – a longtime Methodist pastor and activist in many progressive causes – offers a thoughtful and personal response to Rabbi Michael Lerner’s recent article on Tikkun.org, found at this link:

Overcoming Trump-ism

and to Rebecca Solnit’s article “Grounds for Hope” in the Winter 2017 issue of Tikkun Quarterly.

My re-reading of “Grounds For Hope” by Rebecca Solnit in the Winter 2017 issue of Tikkun has caused me to respond from a personal standpoint, as a clergyman in the United Methodist Church, and with reference to what Rabbi Lerner has written in his article “Overcoming Trump-ism.”

Solnit begins her article: “Your opponents would love to believe that it’s hopeless, that you have no power, that there’s no reason to act, that you can’t win.” But, she writes; “Hope is a gift you don’t have to surrender, a power you don’t have to throw away … hope is about the future, grounds for hope lie in the records and recollections of the past.”


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Justice for Girls Trial to Commence

Mar16

by: Dr. Izzeldin Abuelaish on March 16th, 2017 | No Comments »

Dr. Izzeldin Abuelaish will be in Jerusalem March 12 – April 3 to testify at the Israeli court concerning the loss of his beloved daughters and niece. The hearing will start March 15;  he is expected to testify March 15, 19, 29 and April 2.

All who can come and witness the civil trial at the court in Beersheba are encouraged to attend.

Information below comes from several press releases about this issue. The releases seek to increase awareness and promote the cause among politicians, human rights advocates, and people who care about justice and women and women’s education.


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Housing the Homeless: Universal Housing is the Answer

Mar16

by: Dan Brook on March 16th, 2017 | 3 Comments »

Homelessness itself, let alone homeless deaths, is an unnecessary tragedy and demonstrates how uncivilized of a nation we live in. We don’t need a technological fix because it’s not a technological problem. We already have everything we need to solve homelessness, and indeed even the bigger problem poverty, except the political will to do so. We tragically have a political economy that creates homelessness, while blaming the victims, and then punishes the poor for being homeless. It doesn’t have to be this way.


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Is Ryan a Religious Hypocrite? A Priestly Letter to Speaker Paul Ryan from Rev. Dr. Matthew Fox

Mar14

by: Rev. Dr. Matthew Fox on March 14th, 2017 | 4 Comments »

Dear Speaker and Congressman Paul Ryan,

As a priest who commemorates his 50th year in the priesthood this year (28 as a Roman Catholic and 22 as an Episcopalian), and as your elder, I am writing you this letter because I am worried about your soul.

We all know you take good care of your body, working out frequently in the congressional gym we taxpayers provide for those in Congress, and that is a good thing. But I am concerned that you are neglecting your soul. It too requires work-outs and practice to stay healthy.

You claim to be a good and a practicing Catholic Christian but I have serious doubts that you are. Our Christian beliefs include these words of Jesus after all: “What does it profit a person if he gains the whole world but loses his own soul?” These powerful words are surely important for anyone serving in public office or any other places of responsibility, whether in government or business or church or wherever. Yes, they even apply to your close buddies the Koch brothers, upon whom you depend so fully for your income and ideas and campaigns and job.

You see, another passage that grounds Catholicism and Christianity is found in Matthew 25: “Do it to the least and you do it to me.” Not to mention the Golden Rule which is found in Matthew 7:12 and is reflected in some form in every world religion since the time of Hammurabi: “Sowhatever you wish that others would do to you, do also to them, for this isthe Law and the Prophets.”


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Trump’s War on Dangerous Memory and Critical Thought

Mar14

by: Henry A. Giroux on March 14th, 2017 | 1 Comment »

The ideal subject of totalitarian rule is not the convinced Nazi or the dedicated communist, but people for whom the distinction between fact and fiction, true and false, no longer exists.

― Hannah Arendt

People living in the United States have entered into one of the most dangerous periods of the 21st century. President Donald Trump is not only a twisted caricature of every variation of economic, political, educational, and social fundamentalism, he is the apogee of an increasingly intolerant and authoritarian culture committed to destroying free speech, civil rights, women’s reproductive freedoms, and all vestiges of economic justice and democracy.

Trump is the fascist shadow that has been lurking in the dark since Nixon’s Southern Strategy. Authoritarianism has now become viral in America, pursuing new avenues to spread its toxic ideology of bigotry, cruelty, and greed into every facet of society. Its legions of “alt-right” racists, misogynists, and xenophobic hate-mongers now expose themselves publicly, without apology, knowing full well that they no longer have to use code for their hatred of all those who do not fit into their white-supremacist and ultra-nationalist script.[i]

Trump’s victory makes clear that the economic crisis and the misery it has spurred has not been matched by an ideological crisis– a crisis of ideas, education, and values. Critical analysis and historical memory have given way to a culture of spectacles, sensationalism, and immediacy.[ii] Dangerous memories are now buried in a mass bombardment of advertisements, state sanctioned lies, and a political theater of endless spectacles. The mainstream media is now largely an adjunct of the entertainment industries and big corporations. Within the last 40 years training has taken the place of critical education, and the call for job skills has largely replaced critical thinking. Without an informed public, there is no resistance in the name of democracy and justice; nor is there a model of individual and collective agency rising to such an occasion. Of course, power is never entirely on the side of domination, and in this coming era of acute repression, we will have to redefine politics, reclaim the struggle to produce meaningful educational visions and practices, find new ways to change individual and collective consciousness, take seriously the need to engage in meaningful dialogue with people left out of the political landscape, and overcome the factionalism of single-issue movements in order to build broad based social movements.


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Us and the others: Jewish universalism

Mar13

by: Giorgio Gomel on March 13th, 2017 | 1 Comment »

In Shimon Peres’s funeral ceremony last October in Jerusalem, Tsvia Walden, Shimon’s daughter,  not only recited Kaddish according to the egalitarian practice of Reform Judaism but she added  to the original text,  ending with “Oseh shalom bimromau hu berahamau ya’aseh shalom alenu ve al kol Israel” (May the One who creates peace in the heavens bring peace to us and to all Israel), “ve al kol b’nei adam” (and to all humankind). It is a common practice of conservative and reformed congregations to say “ve al kol anshei tevel” (all people who dwell on the universe) or “ yoshvei tevel” (all the living beings of the universe) – an even more inclusive expression, including animals.

The theme evoked by Peres’s daughter in her recasting of the prayer is a complex one, pertaining to Judaism as well as to other cultures, faiths, and  doctrines ; it concerns the relationship between the “universal,” i.e. values and principles of “togetherness,” of the unity of humankind, and the “particular,” i.e. diversity in its manifold manifestations.

Ephraim Lessing in his Nathan the Wise in the heyday of Enlightenment at the end of 1700 portrays a wise man, advocate of religious tolerance. Nathan asks rhetorically: “are Jews and Christians Christians and Jews before they are human beings?” implying that one is a human being first and a Jew or Christian or other second. I think of a variation. Nathan who asserts and teaches he is a human being by way of being Jewish and analogously  Christian or Muslim by way of belonging  Christianity or Islam. Being Jewish or Christian or other is a variation on a single theme: humankind.


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A Plea For Compassion

Mar12

by: Jeff Grande on March 12th, 2017 | 8 Comments »

Day after day, I wake up to one mind-numbingly tragic shooting incident after another, immediately followed by politicians and civic leaders giving their speeches. The give their inevitable soundbites, standing in front of makeshift flower-laden memorials, about stopping the epidemic of violence in America. They always talk about the need for better police training, more police officers, gun control, more prisons; in short, the rhetoric dances around the symptoms, tacitly avoiding any mention of the true root causes of these tragedies.

I stand with both American police officers and citizens who are victims of senseless brutality and killing. Each group also must contend with being part of a system that pits one group against the other, defining an agenda of division rather than the unity which must exist for our nation to truly solve these problems. Every time there is an incident of violence, we either blame one group or the other.

We talk symptoms.

Political and civic leaders don’t speak enough about the root causes that create the conditions for this violent behavior.


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Hidden Figures

Mar11

by: on March 11th, 2017 | 2 Comments »

For me, the most splendid moment of the 89th annual Academy Awards was the surprise appearance of Katherine Johnson, one of the NASA mathematicians portrayed in the movie “Hidden Figures.” The 98-year-old wheel-chair bound Johnson was beautiful in a sky blue dress as she graciously received a well-deserved standing ovation with a simple “Thank you.” She has lived to witness the world’s appreciation. However, as Black History Month – February – becomes Women’s History Month – March, and as we have witnessed International Women’s Day demonstrations, it is important to recognize that at this moment in time, the story of Katherine Johnson and her colleagues inspires us to keep our grace through this moment of madness.

The movie is an excellent portrayal of women working in the early space programs as computers doing the mathematics necessary to get a man into space and back safely. It takes place at a time in American history when apartheid ruled the land both in overt and covert ways and when the space race was a visible aspect of the Cold War. In the movie we see the inconvenience and stupid waste of time of an apartheid system where African Americans were assigned to certain bathrooms in certain buildings. In the movie, Johnson, played by Taraji P. Henson, has to run across the campus to use the rest room. Here the movie takes dramatic license because the real Johnson did not do this. She simply ignored the rules and used the nearest women’s rest room.

There is another example of the way the women maintained their dignity and grace in the midst of a dehumanizing system that is described in the book “Hidden Figures” by Margot Lee Shetterly. (Do not walk, but run to your nearest bookstore, library, e-reader and get your copy of the book. It fills in details that the movie did not have the space to include.) Shetterly describes the persistence of the women in the lunch room to remove the sign that designated the “colored “section. The woman would remove the sign, but some unseen hand would place another. They kept removing the sign. Another sigh would appear. Until one day, they removed the sign and the sign did not reappear. These women were confident in the knowledge of their own worth, of their own humanity, and they acted accordingly.

They found their humanity not only in their own excellence, but they found it in community, in family, church, sororities, and other civic organizations. They were not only encouraged by their parents, teachers, and husbands, but they also lived the maximum of “lift as you climb.” They were leaders and mentors in their communities.

The story of these women reminds us that the only limit to what we can achieve is the limit of our own imaginations. Their story helps us and young people to see beyond the stereotypes that seek to limit us and who we think we are or can be.

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