by: Lynn Feinerman on May 7th, 2013 | No Comments »
More than 210 prisoners have been on hunger strike, protesting their indefinite detention. Credit: Creative Commons/Publik15.
Wonder of wonders, President Obama has publicly acknowledged that there are over 100 desperate men starving themselves to death in the Guantánamo detention facility — rather than endure the misery of torture and indefinite imprisonment without trial.
In my most recent post on Tikkun Daily, I’d made an effort publicly to support the hunger strikers in their heroic action, but I figured the Obama administration would ignore the desperation and courage of the Guantánamo prisoners.
Obama didn’t bring up the subject himself — unless his press conference was staged, and he expected the CBS reporter to question him about the crisis in the Guantánamo facility. But given his voluble response, with all his stock phrases and excuses neatly in place, one might suspect he knew the question was coming.
by: Danielle Luaulu on May 2nd, 2013 | No Comments »
With all the negativity directed toward the Middle East in the United States, it’s easy for those with no personal connection to the Middle East to develop ill-founded prejudices and lose sight of the similarities between North American and Middle Eastern culture. Certain similarities go unnoticed, such as a love of family, music, good food, or even a belief in a Presence greater than ourselves. One of the major cultural similarities that we tend to forget we share is a love of story telling – a cultural tradition that we should celebrate as something we can all relate to.
How do we bridge this cultural gap? Maybe we could start with something as simple as a comic book?
Someone is already taking that step.
Unveiled by Jabal Entertainment at the 2012 Middle East Film & Comic Con and later picked up by major comic-book publisher IDW, Jinnrise by Sohaib Awan attempts to bridge the gap between East and West. By carefully and respectfully integrating stories from the Middle East with the Western art of comics, Jinnrise is the start of something beautiful and a definite step in the right direction.
by: Lynn Feinerman on April 26th, 2013 | 9 Comments »
Memorial for the Boston Marathon attack on April 15, 2013. Credit: Creative Commons/AnubisAbyss.
On April 20, 2013, days after the bombs went off at the Boston Marathon event, President Obama asked: “Why did young men who grew up and studied here as part of our communities and our country, resort to such violence?”
Media reported that on April 22, Dzhokhar Tsarnaev, the younger of the two brothers accused in the bombings, answered Obama’ s question. He stated they bombed the event in reaction to U.S. attacks on Islam.
Is Obama listening to that answer? How does he interpret it? Are the mainstream media, and in particular Fox News’ Erik Rush, listening to that answer?
I don’t think Erik Rush is listening. I doubt, in fact, that the Obama administration is listening to that answer… heeding the message. And innocent U.S. citizens are paying the price.
by: Ana Levy-Lyons on April 25th, 2013 | 2 Comments »
Flowers piled up near the site of the Boston Marathon bombing. Credit: Creative Commons/stiatska.
Why does this shit keep happening? It seems like it’s every week now, another tragedy. Bombings, shootings, hurricanes. A paralyzed Congress, unable to do anything to stop it, swept under by the tide of what sometimes feels like a malevolent force. A force that targets schoolchildren; that preys on the poor and the sick and the elderly; that ravages our ecosystems and decimates wild species; that literally cuts the legs out from under people. Why does this shit keep happening? Is it God? A cruel and sadistic God? Or is that too anthropomorphic? Is it just collective human failure combined with what Albert Camus called “the gentle indifference of the universe?” Or are those two ultimately the same thing? Maybe the ultimate cruelty is the gentle indifference of a God who sits back, the ice clinking in its glass, and allows us to fail.
In the legend of Job in the Hebrew Bible, this is exactly what God does. God gives the Adversary (in Hebrew, ha-satan) license to torture a human being, one described in the verses as “blameless and upright.” So Job loses his children, his livestock, and all his wealth. He becomes sick and disabled, in constant pain. One by one, each of the elements that constitute his identity are stripped away. A man dissolves while God sits back and watches. The practice of “sitting shiva” in silence is said to stem from this legend. The existential horror is literally unspeakable. When Job’s friends come to visit him in his pain, the text says, “They sat with him on the ground for seven days and seven nights and no one spoke a word to him for they saw that his suffering was very great.”
by: Maggie Israel Hardy on April 18th, 2013 | 3 Comments »
Members of the NSP chapter in Mystic, Connecticut, gather for their monthly meeting. Credit: Glenn Hardy.
I’ve just renewed my Network of Spiritual Progressives membership, and I’d like to tell you a little about myself. Five years ago a friend and I started an NSP chapter in Mystic, CT. At first, we were a group of women, but gradually men joined us, and we now have an average attendance of twelve, and sometimes as many as fifteen people at our meetings. We meet once a month, and each meeting is facilitated by either a member of our group or an invited outside member of our community. Some of the topics we have discussed include Meditation East and West; Israel and Palestine; Gandhi, Martin Luther King and Non-violence, Domestic Violence; Are the Spiritual Paths of Men and Women Different? and The Changing Concept of a Supreme Being.
by: Rabbi Chaim Gruber on April 8th, 2013 | No Comments »
"Any animal with multiple stomachs is a vegetarian," the author writes. Credit: Olivier Bataille.
Years ago, I was once teaching biblical Hebrew in an Amish farming community. During that time, I was walking with a 10-year old boy, named Samuel, through the cow pastures. I am originally from New York City and not used to walking near cow excrement. Therefore, I was not walking straight through the fields, but rather in zig-zagged fashion so to avoid stepping in the doo. Suddenly, Samuel could no longer contain his laughter. He started pointing at me, snickering, and said that I was such a sissy that I didn’t even want to step in the doo, when someone could even eat it. Then, in front of my eyes, as a daredevil, he bent down, picked up a dried piece of cow excrement and took a bite!
I was shocked by what I saw, until I realized that cow excrement is just compressed grass. It must have been that Samuel and his friends had many times played in the fields, when they had slipped, fell, and some doo got in their mouths. Or, there were even times when they threw it at each other. “No worry,” the boys’ mothers’ must have said, as it was just compressed grass.
by: Danielle Luaulu on April 5th, 2013 | 3 Comments »
Day of the Dead from the Manhatitlan series. Credit: Felipe Galindo.
Caught up in political debates surrounding immigration policy, journalists, politicians, and even fine artists often give short shrift to the cultural aspects of immigration: the beautiful blending of cultures, languages, and societies that enrich a country for the better.
Felipe “Feggo” Galindo’s series Manhatitlan offers a reminder that immigration is, at heart, about finding home in a new place – a process that inevitably involves some cultural fusion.
Created as a humorous blending of Mexican and American culture, the series was conceived of by Galindo after he started feeling a sense of nostalgia for his native Mexico City.
Born an hour outside of Mexico City, Galindo attended university to study art and become a cartoonist. However, most of the artists and their art in Mexico – and the United States – focused on various political topics and ideas. Galindo says his work is often not explicitly political, but he sometimes goes in a political direction if there’s something he really wants to say. On more than one occasion, he has come up with a concept that only later took on political connotations for viewer. Nevertheless, he says it has been a challenge to be recognized as something a bit different from a political cartoonist:
In Mexico and Latin America, being a cartoonist in those countries means being a political cartoonist in my field of work. In that sense I didn’t just want to do that, I wanted to have other ways of expressing my ideas. In Latin America, though, it’s unavoidable. If you say ‘I’m a cartoonist,’ they immediately think you are a political cartoonist. In New York, if you say you’re a cartoonist they think about the New Yorker magazine or something like that. The reference is different.
by: Ruth Broyde Sharone on April 4th, 2013 | 1 Comment »
“Will the planet die before I do, Mommy?”
Stunned silence followed when nine year-old Grace’s innocent question was repeated by her mother during a working session of a Peace Summit held in San Jose, Costa Rica, last December.
Young Grace’s pungent question of global survival hung in the air in the University of Peace meeting hall. Susana Marley Cunningham, a leader from the Miskito people of Nicaragua – known as Mama Grande for her girth and her powerful presence – rose to her feet. Asking the group of twenty-five to form a large prayer circle, Mama Grande brought Grace’s parents into the middle. She took their hands and prayed fervently that the evil spirits who planted that negative question in young Grace’s mind be cast out forever and destroyed.
by: Levi Bridges on April 1st, 2013 | 1 Comment »
Time after time, Pedro Santez has moved away from his native village of Coyutla to pursue a new career.
Each time, after spending years away, Santez returns home and finds that his four children are older and more of his neighbors are gone, seeking opportunity elsewhere. Santez tries to start a new life in his home town, but he always leaves again.
And the pattern repeats.
by: Rabbi Jack Bemporad on March 22nd, 2013 | 3 Comments »
The parting of the Red Sea in Cecil B. Demille's "The Ten Commandments."
Few scenes in film are more memorable than the famous parting of the Red Sea, a young Charlton Heston at the helm, in the 1956 Academy Award-winning film “The Ten Commandments.” About this time each year, this magical celluloid moment annually depicts the ability of water to save lives, and to take lives, courtesy of the great Cecil B. DeMille.
The magic of special effects aside, I wonder, if the daily destruction and struggles caused by water were illustrated so graphically in real life as they are in film, would more of us pay attention to the deadly role water plays in millions of lives? More children die from illness and disease caused by the lack of safe water and sanitation than war, or TB, AIDS and malaria combined. The Angel of Death doesn’t pass over 8000 children every day – that’s the number under age 14 who die from water-related disease, every day. Almost a billion people don’t have access to safe water and 2.5 billion don’t have the dignity and safety of sanitation.