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Press Release: 15 Young Leaders Receive Prestigious National Award

Aug29

by: Editor on August 29th, 2015 | No Comments »

Editor’s Note: The Helen Diller Family Foundation is dedicated to supporting the next generation of American philanthropists and visionaries. If you are a young leader who dreams of transforming society, don’t hesitate to apply for consideration at dillerteenawards.org- the Foundation is now accepting submissions for next year’s Diller Teen Tikkun Olam Award.

15 YOUNG LEADERS RECEIVE PRESTIGIOUS NATIONAL AWARD AND $36,000 EACH

FOR SUCCESSFULLY ENGAGING COMMUNITIES TO IMPROVE THE WORLD

The Helen Diller Family Foundation Hosts National Event Honoring Teens Committed to Social Good

 

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A powerful moment as Palestinian girls & women stop an Israeli soldier from detaining an injured boy

Aug29

by: on August 29th, 2015 | Comments Off

There are visual moments which have the capacity to shift perceptions and increase awareness in ways that are unmatched by words or data. Moments captured on film which are fleeting, but remain indelible long after they’ve passed. Such a moment occurred on Friday in the West Bank, the images of which are spreading rapidly.

Israeli soldier roughly detaining Mohammed Tamimi, 12, during an anti-occupation protest in Nabi Saleh. Credit: Reuters

As seen in the image above, it is a difficult moment which occurred during Friday’s weekly anti-occupation protest in the West Bank village of Nabi Saleh. An Israeli soldier chased down twelve-year-old Mohammed Tamimi, whose arm had been broken in a previous demonstration and who was accused by the soldier of throwing stones. As Mohammed was being dragged away, his fifteen-year-old sister, mother, aunt and members of the Tamimi family began screaming to the soldier that he’s a minor, and that his arm is broken, before physically tearing the soldier off of Mohammed during a struggle.

An image of this difficult moment can be seen below, and video of the incident in its entirety here:

aaCredit: Reuters.


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I Want to Be Left Behind

Aug27

by: Brenda Peterson on August 27th, 2015 | 10 Comments »

Since the best-selling Left Behind series, the religious right in the US has been obsessed with Israel. Their support is not because they revere the Jewish traditions; in this Christian Zionist Armageddon belief, Israel is simply the setting for the longed-for Rapture—an evacuation plan that saves only Christians. All other religions are left to endure the Tribulations.

For decades this belief has dominated our international foreign policy, especially in the Middle East. Even today it is the subtext for much of the pro-Israel “blind support” as Rabbi Michael Lerner writes about in his recent letter: “There are an estimated 30 million Christian Zionists, and they play an important role in shaping the dynamics of the Republican Party and the Christian Right.”

Here’s an excerpt from the recent memoir, I Want to Be Left Behind: Finding Rapture Here on Earth, by author Brenda Peterson, which describes the darkly comic, but deeply troubling world view that comes from this Rapture-bound belief still shaping our Middle East policies.


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Medication, Mourning and Moving Forward: the Art of Grahame Perry

Aug25

by: Oona Taper on August 25th, 2015 | No Comments »

Grahame Perry creates photo collages and manipulated photos, with a colorful pop art sensibility, that show his own experiences as a long-time survivor of HIV. His work is both political and personal and conveys feelings ranging from frustration and mourning to hope. His series Materials of Survival explores his relationship to medication and the complex and evolving culture around HIV treatment. Ultimately his art raises questions about how new medical technology interacts with culture to color people’s lived experiences and senses of self.

Perry recently showed his work in SF Camerawork’s exhibit Long Term Survivor Project. He has a solo show at Magnet SF opening in November with a reception on the 6th of November. He feels that Magnet, a men’s health center in the Castro, is a perfect place to show his art.

 

OT: You style seems to have changed dramatically with the Am I Blue series. What inspired this change?

GP: Anything art-inspired has to be something that resonates with you, and certainly my experience as someone who is HIV positive has been a big part of my life. I think even from early on I wanted my photography to speak to that, but what that would be exactly took me a bit of time to work out. There seems to be two types of work that I am doing. The series Am I Blue are self-portraits. In Materials of Survival I am taking photographic images and arranging them – usually digitally. And I use different processes in the two series; one where I have an image I can use photographically and the other where I have an idea. For instance if I want to show the idea of taking medication for so long, I might take a picture of a handful of what I take in a day and then lay it out to show twenty-four years of medication. I feel freer to manipulate this type of work. It is probably closer to digital art as opposed to straight photography.

OT: Do you see your techniques, such as collage, as part of the concepts of the art or just your method?

collage

Every 3 Months

GP: Yeah, I think my techniques are part of it. Collage is a way for me to visualize for myself, and to understand what it would mean for other people to look at this, whether if it’s this many pills or this many blood vials or this many obituaries, the idea of what its like to be HIV positive for twenty-five years, or what its like to wake up every morning and have to take these pills. How do you put that across in something that’s visual?


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Understanding Obama

Aug24

by: on August 24th, 2015 | 2 Comments »

The following is a thought experiment: an attempt to understand the Iranian deal by way of logical speculation regarding the issues and facts as perceived by the Obama administration.

I am assuming that Obama is not a Marxist/Islamist/Kenyan, consumed by post-colonial resentment and dedicated to destroying the Constitution and the United States. Nor a Black Nationalist anti-Semite, whose most important priority regarding Iran is to screw Israel. I am assuming he is a patriotic American who desires to be a historically great President.

I believe he is unsentimental regarding Israel (neither pro nor hostile) – unlike Truman, Clinton and Bush II; more like Eisenhower and Bush I. I believe he thinks that starting a 3rd Middle East war with Iran would be criminally stupid and devastatingly harmful to the United States.

Obama became President during a period of radical global transition, internal economic crisis and external weakness deriving from two failed wars. It is a period of uncertainty and reinvention of national identity; analogous to the periods that Herbert Hoover and Harry Truman inherited. Whether history judges him as a Hoover or a Truman (or something in-between) remains to be seen. I personally am agnostic on the issue. I give him good marks on some things (recovery from the economic crises and health care) and bad marks on other things, especially his pathological refusal to name the primary 21st century enemy, which is, as British PM David Cameron said, “radical Islamist extremism”. I admire his poise in overlooking vicious ad-hominem attacks (some of which derive from residual racism) and deplore his refusal to “play politics” in the Reagan/Tip O’Neil tradition (which I believe has made his job unnecessarily more difficult).

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D’var Torah on Parashat Re’eh for Rosh Chodesh Elul

Aug22

by: Rabbi Michael Zimmerman on August 22nd, 2015 | No Comments »

picture of opened torah

Credit: Flickr / Lawrie Cate

Today (August 15th) is the New Moon ushering in the month of Elul. According to the Maharal of Prague, “All the month of Elul, before eating and sleeping, a person should look into one’s soul and search one’s deeds, that one may make confession.” [1]

There are numerous practices and customs for the month of Elul, all of which are intended to promote the seeking and granting of forgiveness and the powerful process of teshuvah, (“repentance”). These practices all recognize that none of us have utilized our full potentials, acted from our full sense of decency and responsibility, kept our hearts open to our full capacity for compassion. In other words, we’ve missed the mark. It’s no coincidence that cheit, the Hebrew word for sin, and hamartia, the Greek word referring to the character flaw leading to tragedy, both originated as terms in archery for “missing the mark.” Looking into our own souls, what we find isn’t evil; it’s more like sleeping on the job or losing control or letting our emotions get in the way of our conscience and common sense for one regrettable split second.


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Why I’m Not Going to Burning Man This Year

Aug22

by: Daniel Pinchbeck on August 22nd, 2015 | 1 Comment »

Editor’s Note: A version of this piece first appeared in Reality Sandwich.

I have gone to Burning Man 15 years in a row. When I went the first time, back in 2000, I was a journalist on assignment for Rolling Stone. That was an amazing introduction to the event, as I was able to go “back stage” and meet the organizers, artists, and geniuses behind the sculptures, lasers, and camps. I was immediately hooked. I couldn’t believe such a place existed – that tens of thousands of people shared the same ideals, and worked together to realize their visions.

I wrote this piece about my experiences. I also wrote a feature about the festival for ArtForum. By proposing that Burning Man had validity as an artistic expression – I discussed Joseph Beuys’ idea of “social sculpture” – I got banned from ArtForum after they published my piece. I also wrote about the festival, personally and philosophically, in Breaking Open the Head, my first book, and 2012: The Return of Quetzalcoatl, my second. Burning Man has had a profound experience on my life, in many ways.

This year, I am skipping it. There are a few reasons for this, but the main one is that I feel Burning Man – an institution in its own process of ongoing change and evolution – has lost its way. Hopefully, this is temporary. I know and love many of the people who create and run the festival, and believe in their intentions and their vision.

Burning Man has accomplished amazing things, opening up whole new realms of individual freedom and culture expression. At the same time the festival has become a bit of a victim of its own success. It has become a massive entertainment complex, a bit like Disney World for a contingent made up mostly of the wealthy elite. It always had this vibe, to some extent, but it seems more pronounced in recent years. It feels like there is more and more of less and less. The potential for some kind of authentic liberation or awakening seems increasingly obscure and remote.

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Beyond the Affordable Care Act: A Vision for the Healing of Health Care Delivery

Aug21

by: Martha Sonnenberg on August 21st, 2015 | No Comments »

There is no doubt that the recent Supreme Court decision to uphold key aspects Affordable Care Act (ACA), and to thereby preserve the expansion of health coverage to millions of Americans is momentous. That said, the health care system reformed by the ACA still leaves millions uninsured or underinsured, and maintains the strangle hold on health care by the insurance and pharmaceutical industries. In spite of the ACA, health care will remain largely unaffordable to many due to co-pays, deductibles, and frequent gaps in coverage. The rising cost of certain drugs is forcing patients into more debt, or to forego necessary medicine. [1] Further, patients with high deductible insurance plans may be pressured to skip care of common conditions such as heart failure, coronary artery disease, diabetes, hypertension among others. [2] It is our belief that only universal health coverage can assure affordable health care for all.

nancy pelosi speaks regarding the affordable care act

Credit: Flickr / Nancy Pelosi

However, while universal health care is a sine qua non for change, it is not sufficient for the transformational creation of a healthcare system that truly provides compassionate care for patients and meaningful work for caregivers. While the ACA and many single payer plans do include quality improvement aspects, these are mostly metric based measures, and best practice guidelines – they do not fundamentally challenge the culture in which health care is delivered. Further, many of these quality improvement requirements, because they have not been well thought out, have associated unintended consequences to the detriment of patient care. A vision of what a transformed health care delivery system would be would include:


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Noam Chomsky on “The Iranian Threat”

Aug21

by: Tikkun on August 21st, 2015 | 5 Comments »

Editor’s note:  Noam Chomsky’s analysis (read below after reading this) is an important counter to the endless drum of US propaganda from both parties about the threat from Iran. So much self-deception is thrown at Americans that we are not to blame when even the best among us begins to repeat analyses that forget or obscure the actual role that the US plays in the world today, as Chomsky begins to outline (though he doesn’t really explore the more powerful distorting role of global capitalism, which is not to be blamed solely on the US). Unfortunately, Chomsky underplays the anti-Semitism that the Iranian mullahs have fanned in Iran. They may never have explicitly called for Israel’s physical destruction, but they had plenty of time to clarify what they’ve meant by what seems like code language with such destruction in mind—all they needed to do to eliminate what Chomsky considers an unfair charge would be to publicly affirm that they don’t intend or seek to eliminate the state that was created as a refuge for Jews.

We at Tikkun have sent that request to Iranian leaders, but they haven’t responded. Nor have they repudiated past Iranian governments’ attempts to deny the Holocaust, and there is little doubt that the constant calls for “death to Israel”—while not translated into death to the Iranian Jews who claim to be safe in Iran and who support the Iranian nuclear deal despite Netanyahu’s opposition—are rarely perceived by Iranians as somehow distinct from “death to the Jews.” And the mullahs’ near-genocidal policies toward the Baha’i and repression of other religious minorities are outrageous, as has been their suppression of dissent and countless human rights violations. (As an aside, I want to express compassion for the Jewish people whose Holocaust-rooted post-traumatic-stress-disorder still generates a fearful attitude that makes us so easily manipulated by opportunists and militarists like Netanyahu and his AIPAC, American Jewish Committee, Conference of Presidents of Major (sic) Jewish Organizations allies, manipulation that leads many Jews to support policies that are actually destructive to the best interests of the Jewish people, the US, Israel, and the peoples of the world. To consider just two examples: maintaining the Occupation of the West Bank, rather than helping the Palestinians create an economically and politically viable Palestinian state living in peace and harmony with Israel; or the too-widespread Jewish vocal opposition to the nuclear agreement with Iran, though most Jews support the deal. Tragically, and unjustifiably, this tilt toward militarist and ungenerous policies may eventually be the foundation for a resurgence of anti-Semitism globally. I have compassion for my people, just as I have compassion for the many middle-income and poorer Americans who end up supporting right-wing policies that are actually destructive to their own long-term best interests—but that compassion should must be accompanied by our powerful challenge to the policies they support and the racism that is too often a component of their fears.)

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Dying to Know

Aug18

by: Libbie Katsev on August 18th, 2015 | No Comments »

In grainy black and white, Timothy Leary tells Congress about an LSD trip. It involves being eaten by a snake and exploding. (To be fair, Congress asked.) The footage is a little shocking, but not surprising: I expected humor from Dying to Know, a documentary about Timothy Leary and Ram Dass. I don’t think I was alone in this, given how ready the audience (which seemed to be mostly Leary-enthusiasts) was to laugh and shout when the film described more extreme experiences with narcotics. But Dying to Know also goes beyond shock to be at times genuinely surprising. In footage from that same testimony before Congress, Leary advocates that drugs be regulated, and says that we have a serious drug abuse problem in America. Leary of “turn on, tune in, and drop out” certainly comes through in Dying to Know, but so does Leary the psychologist, the Leary who believed deeply in understanding and expanding the mind, and who also saw the danger posed by reckless drug usage.

Dying to Know is divided into four segments, based on four different stages of existence: “Birth, Life, Death, and Soul,” and with a fifth segment, “Here After” tacked onto the end. Director Gay Dillingham tells the stories of Dass and Leary in parallel – or, almost parallel. Their lives converge at a major turning point – their infamous drug tests at Harvard (and later in the Millbrook mansion), and diverge again, as Leary sticks with a neuroscience and psychology-based perspective and runs into increasing political trouble, while Dass (then Richard Alpert) goes abroad and takes up his old quest for knowing, this time with a new religious perspective.

dying to know posterUltimately, Dying to Know comes across as more of a film about Leary, with Dass used both as a counterpoint and a means to access Leary’s thoughts, both personal and intellectual. This may have originated from the initial conceit of the film – Dillingham said in a post-film Q&A that she decided to make a movie after she learned that Leary was dying, and later decided to bring Dass into the project. Through interviews, old footage and photos, and conversations between Dass and Leary toward the end of the latter’s life, Dying to Know creates a surprisingly complex portrait of a figure whose image has in recent decades been turned into something of a caricature. I, at least, often found it difficult to dissociate Leary’s and Dass’s stories from the cultural context into which they’ve already been fixed – especially when, after being fired (or quitting, there’s a little ambiguity there) for including an undergrad in the tests, Leary and Dass set up shop in a New York mansion, live communally, continue the tests, and themselves do a lot of drugs. And Dying to Know certainly doesn’t try to downplay the more recreational aspects of Leary’s and Dass’s quest. But as it turns out, the questions they grapple with are universal, and allowed me to see their search as something with significance beyond its effects on the ’60s counterculture. In the process, it also presents some serious thought about how we live, and – Dying to Know suggests, at least as important – how we die.


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