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The Solution to Middle East Chaos

Jul30

by: Tala Haikal and Saliba Sarsar on July 30th, 2014 | 2 Comments »

Aggression and war insidiously and savagely consume the hearts of humanity. Huge amounts of energy, ingenuity, resources, and sacrifice are continuously wasted as people fight in the name of freedom, self-defense, self-determination, God, righteous conquest, justice, national security, and power, typically to no avail.

The specter of vicious but pointless conflict is today most evident in the Middle East, where extremism is on the rise and antagonisms are often fierce. Such dynamics make history, to paraphrase a line from James Joyce’sUlysses, a nightmare from which we are trying to awake. The record of human suffering there is long, and in many ways, it is getting worse.

Gaza, Syria, and Iraq are pained by that same disease of extremism and conflict. Civilians, more specifically children and women, are bearing the brunt of the injustices. In today’s Middle East, we have sacrificed a generation to the flames of rage.

Woman in Gaza/Credit: Creative Commons

The ongoing hostilities between Hamas and Israel, the third outbreak of such violence since 2008, is tragic. Fear grips both Israelis and Palestinians and as innocents die or are wounded, with the majority being the elderly, women, and children. The Palestinian death toll, as of July 23, 2014, has reached over 680 and the wounded more than 4,220.UNRWA says more than 100,000 Palestinians in Gaza are internally displaced. This is not to mention the destruction of homes, schools, hospitals and basic infrastructure.

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“Israel Provoked This War: It’s Up to Obama to Stop It” and Recommended Articles

Jul29

by: Tikkun Administration on July 29th, 2014 | 2 Comments »

Editor’s Note: July 27, 2014, Sunday morning: As of yesterday with over 1,000 fatalities in Gaza, 928 fatalities had been identified by name as of 10 A.M. and revealed that 764 were civilians, including 215 children and 118 women. Over 30 Israeli soldiers and 2 Israeli civilians have been killed. Israel rejected a proposed ceasefire and furiously critiqued Sec. of State Kerry for proposing it without allowing Israel to continue (during the “ceasefire”) to destroy Hamas tunnels. Kerry backed down and apologized. Please read the following articles, which may provide you with some of the information and analyses you won’t find in Western media.

Below we have an article by Henry Siegman who was once the powerful director of the American Jewish Congress. In those days he refused to write for Tikkun or join our board–our insistence that Israel should negotiate with the Palestinians was considered far too radical, and Siegman, who told me he personally agreed with Tikkun’s position, lacked the courage to challenge the major American Jewish mainstream of which he was a part. As has happened to so many people after they lose their positions of power, he became more forthright in his articulation of what needed to change. I imagine the same thing will happen with Obama after he leaves office. It’s a terrible shame that these people didn’t have the courage to do so when they had the power to make a difference.

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A Reflection on the Passing of Rabbi Zalman Schachter-Shalomi

Jul29

by: Rabbi Sammy Intrator on July 29th, 2014 | No Comments »

Credit: Creative Commons

I am in pain over the loss of a great spiritual guide for our generation in the passing of Reb Zalman. He was perhaps the last of a breed, that bridged generations and who had lived on both sides of the great Jewish divide in these generations.

He understood the depth, the beauty and the love of the old world of Hasidim through the deep exposure he had to that world in his early years. His Rebbe (teacher) was Reb Yosef  Yitzchok Schneerson, the 6 th Lubavitcher Rebbe and father in law of the last Rebbe whose 20 Yar Ziet anniversary was just commemorated a few weeks ago.

Yet for much of his life, especially from the 60′s and thereafter, he was a beacon of light to a younger generation, who as the Torah in the beginning of Exodus says “did not know Joseph” and had no understanding of that world. With depth, with love, with humor, and with songs he imparted a spiritual conscience of an old age that spoke to the generation of a new age. The renewal Judaism he helped found was not really meant to create another branch of Judaism, but rather to influence and inspire its existing branches. His deeply universal message was powerfully influenced by his deep Jewish roots.

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What Would a Transformative Justice System Look Like — Politically, Economically, Spiritually and Intellectually?

Jul29

by: Jim Vrettos on July 29th, 2014 | No Comments »

Editor’s Note: This is a piece written by a John Jay sociology professor, Jim Vrettos, and was part of a panel Professor Vrettos chaired at the recent Left Forum held at John Jay College in New York City, which took place from May 30 to June 1, 2014. The panel was entitled: What Would a Transformative Justice System Look Like —Politically, Economically, Spiritually and Intellectually? Other panelists included: Dr. Carl Hart – drug researcher and neuroscientist from Columbia University, Felipe Coronel – the political rapper known as Immortal Technique, Fania Davis — Executive Director of the Restorative Justice for Oakland Youth program in Oakland, California, and Tom Hayden -founder and director of the Peace and Justice Resource Center in Culver City, California.

“The mayor and the commissioner should begin a serious discussion of the future of “broken windows” policing, the strategy of relentlessly attacking petty offenses to nurture a sense of safety and order in high-crime neighborhoods, which, in theory, leads to greater safety and order. In reality, the link is hypothetical, as many cities and towns across the country have enjoyed historic decreases in violent crime since the 1990s, whatever strategies they used. And the vast majority of its targets are not serious criminals, or criminals at all.

(New York City Police Commissioner) William Bratton is a pioneer of broken windows policing and (New York City Mayor) Mr. de Blasio is a stout defender … Mr. Bratton should not be a once-innovative general fighting the last war. Mr. De Blasio was elected on a promise of being a transformative mayor who would recognize the times we live in and respect the communities whose residents fear the police. Now is the time to show it.”

New York Times Editorial —July 25, 2014

Everywhere today we see questioning, imagining, mobilizing and organizing of people into what they think America and the world can or should be. The work of completing America’s revolutionary and transformative promise and indeed, of all humankind’s hopes is now so immediate and profoundly necessary that the fate of the species and natural world literally is in the balance. And the radical left is also vigorously questioning the specter of America’s past and its present destructiveness and dysfunctionality.

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Where are our Cities of Refuge?

Jul29

by: Howard Cooper on July 29th, 2014 | 1 Comment »

Let me start with the most immediate, the most obvious, the most unwelcome, the most disorienting, the most frightening of experiences, in this week when we read from the Torah (Numbers 35) about those six Biblical ‘cities of refuge’- places where anyone could go (Jew or non-Jew, resident or stranger) and seek shelter, protection from bloodshed or vengeance, places you could go where you could await justice, safely, await the processes of law to take effect and not be at the mercy of those who had a personal vendetta against you, or who wanted to take the law into their own hands. What an extraordinary concept those cities of refuge were, protected spaces where – whatever blood had been spilled unwittingly – you could still feel safe from the sudden arrival of someone or something intent on revenge.

Credit: Creative Commons

And what is most disturbing, most disillusioning, most damning, most dementing, about the world we live in and we see unfolding on our TV screens and in our newspapers every day more than two and a half millennia since those texts were written, is that in reality there are no places of refuge. The Torah is like a dream. And then we awaken from it – and the nightmare is that there is nowhere that is safe from death’s sudden arrival, however guilty or innocent one might be. You can get into a plane to fly off on holiday or to a conference – and be blown out of the sky. As those of us living in London remember, you can get onto an underground train or a bus on a sunny July morning – as in 2005 – and you find out that nowhere in our modern world guarantees a refuge from acts of human destructiveness.

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YoHana Bat Adam: The Spiritual Heartist

Jul29

by: Sara Weissman on July 29th, 2014 | 1 Comment »

"Ascending" Mixed Media on canvas 23KT Gold leaf, Swarovski Crystals 43.5″ x 55.5″ Carved 22KT gilded Basswood frame

For years, YoHana Bat Adam didn’t call herself an artist. She jumped from one financially sustainable job to the next, from cleaning houses to working in a hair salon. “I was in survivor mode,” she says. But around eight to ten years ago, she can’t quite recall, Bat Adam decided to turn her love of art into a lifestyle. “One day, after doing so many things, I kind of realized, that’s it, from today I am an artist,” she says.I’m an artist because an artist is a state. It’s a state of being creative, being connected to the higher in you and manifesting yourself as you truly are in the moment.” Her career began with an artistic kite shop along the beach in Hertzliya, Israel and, after experiments with media from aerial design to sculpting, her art blossomed into the variety of work she creates today in her studio near Nevada City, California, including colorful paintings on canvas, silk, and wood.

Bat Adam calls herself the “heartist,” a label that she feels embodies the message behind her art. She hopes her work will inspire viewers to soul-search, to “go to their hearts and be present to what they see.” For Bat Adam, “art is kind of a silent language of the heart” and should inspire personal introspection. She finds this inward focus to be lacking in much of modern art, which, in her opinion, is primarily based on shock value. Citing an example, an installation of four cars hanging from the ceiling at MOMA, Bat Adam says, “I’ll remember it, but what did it add to my emotional ability to be in contact with myself? What did it really create? It’s a sensation of the mind, not the depth of the heart.”

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LA Youth Fast for Central American Youth – ‘We Are Just Like Those Kids’

Jul29

by: Michael Lozano on July 29th, 2014 | No Comments »

Credit: New American Media

 

(Cross-posted from New American Media)

Editor’s Note: Young people in Los Angeles held a fast during the fourth week of July to call attention to the welfare of Central American children crossing into the United States. They are asking the Obama administration to take executive action to treat the children as refugees. The Obama administration is currently considering whether to make this change, according to The New York Times

LOS ANGELES – Young people are once again leading the moral charge on a humanitarian issue that they say has been hijacked by politics.

Eight Los Angeles youth between the ages of 14 and 22 are fasting to call attention to the welfare of the tens of thousands of Central American children who have entered the United States to flee violence in their home countries.

Eighteen-year old Yamilex Rustrian says she decided to participate in the seven-day fast to remind the country whom the White House and Congress are seeking to deport: “These are children, not animals,” she said. “They still deserve to have human rights.”

The youth are spending their nights inside a giant white tent encampment perched on the grass lawn of historic Olvera Street in Los Angeles, hoping that Washington, D.C. politicians will consider treating the 50,000-plus children coming into the United States as refugees.

Attitudes toward the Central American children have clearly become politicized. Forty-six percent of Democrats support speeding up immigration proceedings even if those eligible for asylum may be deported, as do 60 percent of Republicans, the Pew Research Center reports.

But the fasters say they want to keep politics out of the discussion. 

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The Real Danger to Israel

Jul29

by: David Glick on July 29th, 2014 | 18 Comments »

Israel is facing what many fear could be a point of no return. It must now decide which is the greater danger to its existence: the crude rockets fired from Gaza and immobilized by Israel’s Iron Dome, or the right-wing thugs running through the streets shouting “death to the Arabs” and beating up Israeli Palestinians and Jews protesting Israel’s deplorable and merciless assault on Gaza. Israel is fast slipping into a kind of neo-fascism. Is this what we Jews have learned from our own dreadful experience at the hands of the Nazi fascists, to become like them? We Jews, who suffered so mercilessly under fascism, ought to be especially alert to the danger signs of this menace stalking Israel. But are we?

These are the facts: Israel’s occupation of Gaza and the West Bank is illegal under international law. Period. Full stop. And Israel’s seven-year siege of Gaza is simply occupation by another name. Israel completely controls Gaza from the land, sea, and air, making it the world’s largest outdoor prison. The blockade is responsible for devastating the economy and infrastructure of Gaza’s 1.8 million people who have survived through sheer tenacity under unbearable living conditions. Throughout its illegal blockade, Israel has placed severe limits on critical food and medical supplies – measures that have resulted in numerous deaths and injuries, as well as malnutrition, disease, and other severe health risks – all of which have gone unreported in the mainstream media.

People under occupation have a right to resist and fight back. Whether or not one condemns or approves of Hamas’s rocket fire, one thing is clear: Israel is not really defending itself from rockets, it is instead defending its self-declared right to swallow up more and more Palestinian land and empty it of more and more Palestinians. If Israel were serious about peace, it would have welcomed the formation of a unity government between Fatah and Hamas with which it could have entered into negotiations. If Israel were serious about peace, it would have long ago accepted the Arab peace initiative of 2002, which the Arab League endorsed, and would have normalized relations between Israel and the entire Arab world. Even Israel’s so-called archenemy Iran endorsed the peace initiative, but Israel rejected it out of hand without even entering into further negotiations regarding the proposal.

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Live Interview with Uri Avnery and More

Jul28

by: Tikkun Administration on July 28th, 2014 | 1 Comment »

Last Friday’s conference call with Uri Avnery, Rabbi Michael Lerner, and Cat Zavis is now available on recording! Listen here to Uri Avnery’s interview from Tel Aviv and then read some articles below from Israel and Palestine.

As always, the views we send out reflect our desire to expose our readers to a range of discourse usually unavailable in the Western media – but NOT necessarily our views, which are expressed only in articles signed by Rabbi Michael Lerner or listed as Editorials in Tikkun magazine. We trust our readers to not confuse our desire to expand your range of analyses with a desire to advance any particular analysis unless it is filled with love, hope, compassion, open-hearted generosity, and empathy!

Interview with Uri Avnery conducted by Rabbi Michael Lerner and Cat Zavis. Tel Aviv, Friday, July 25

Credit: Creative Commons

Click here to listen.The first 15 minutes is background by Rabbi Michael Lerner while waiting for technological issues to be resolved till we could reach Uri Avnery on the phone. Lerner has some important insights on how to contextualize the current war in Gaza. Then most of the call is Uri Avnery for the next hour or so. Then we have fifteen minutes of questions and conversations from call participants with Cat Zavis about the pain and strain that many who care about both the Israeli and Palestinian people are feeling as we watch the carnage continue. If you wish Tikkun to conduct more interviews of this sort but you are not yet a member of the Network of Spiritual Progressives or a subscriber to Tikkun, help us keep going by joining or donating to the NSP now.

Editor’s Note: This first article is a communication we got from Tel Aviv last Friday evening.

Demonstrators Assaulted in Tel Aviv After Protesting the Gazan War

It happened after the demonstration -the biggest in Tel Aviv against the war yet, estimates of over 6,000 demonstrators- had mostly dispersed. The now-familiar group of right-wing demonstrators had worked themselves up into a frenzy throughout the speeches by left-wing Knesset Members and bereaved parents and chants to end the war, end the siege, end the occupation, end the violence. They were screaming: “Traitors!” “Death to Arabs and Leftists!” “You all get fucked in the ass!” The usual. The two demonstrations had been tightly cordoned off by the police, though. And then, after.

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Former Iran Hostage Voices Support for Diplomacy with Iran on Capitol Hill

Jul25

by: Maiya Zwerling on July 25th, 2014 | No Comments »

Josh Fattal, and FCNL's Kate Gould and Maiya Zwerling lobby Senator Angus King (ME)

Long before Josh Fattal was released from Evin Prison in Iran, it had become abundantly clear to him and the rest of the world that his imprisonment had little do to with himself. Josh had found himself a victim of the over-thirty year rift that has consumed U.S.-Iran relations. Two years before, an Iranian patrol detained Josh, along with his two friends Shane Bauer and Sarah Shroud, at the Iraqi Kurdistan border during a vacation hike. Despite the fact that they spoke no Farsi and had no Iranian money between them, the government charged them with espionage. Only through negotiations brokered by Oman – much of which occurred through back channels – did Josh, Shane, and Sarah reach freedom.

The progress U.S. and Iranian diplomats have made today toward an end stage nuclear accord builds on the success of the back channel negotiations to secure the release of the three Americans imprisoned in Iran. As a living example of the pain caused by the U.S.-Iran governmental dispute, Josh hopes for a settlement to the country’s differences. That’s why, last week, Josh Fattal joined the Friends Committee on National Legislation (FCNL) to share his message with lawmakers that we must let diplomacy work with Iran.

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