I have been carrying a vivid memory with me for over 50 years. In it, my father is chasing me around the little circle of dining area, kitchen, corridor, and living room that existed in our apartment. In my memory, this has happened already, to me and to my older sister. I don’t know, in actuality, if it was a one-time event or recurring. As I am running away from him, I suddenly realize there is just no way I can manage to escape. He is bigger, and faster, and I am small, not as strong. Sooner or later he will catch up with me. I stop, crushed by the futility of the effort, and turn around to accept the inevitable slap in my face I know is coming. I stand in my small body facing him as he is coming my way. I close my eyes as tightly as I can, contracting the muscles around them, raise my face in his direction, and wait. The burning sensation of that slap is still imprinted on my cheek. More significant by far is the impossibility, to this day, of having a visceral understanding of how a grown man could look at his five year old daughter, see her stand the way I remember me standing, and still deliver the slap. What could possibly make it appear to be the right thing to do?
I have no awareness of what the “transgression” was that led to this event. I do know that making me submit to his will was a major project for my father. As it is for so many parents in relation to so many children.
Recently, the California State Assembly passed a bipartisan resolution called HR35 that pressures the UC to take harsh measures on anti-Semitism on campus. The bulk of the resolution targets groups like Students for Justice in Palestine and the Boycott and Divestment Sanctions movement as the main perpetrators of anti-Semitism. Many have criticized HR35 for silencing what is actually free speech.
HR35 is based on a recently-released report on campus climate for Jewish students on the UC. The report similarly asks the UC to stifle groups like Students for Justice in Palestine and the BDS movement under the allegation that criticism of Israel is anti-Semitic. In Rebecca Pierce’s video, students and community member express their deep concerns with the report’s shoddy methodology and silencing of free speech:
by: Yigal Deutscher on September 16th, 2012 | 1 Comment »
For what many of us happens to be a subconscious pattern, at every single moment our bodies are set to move with an internal rhythm, a frequency of flow. It is so obvious, so integral, and so taken for granted that it is most likely not something we pay that much attention to. This rhythm is breath, and without this beat, there is no life in the bodies we reside in. The beautiful thing about this simple and subtle, often forgotten, internal movement is that when you pay it some attention, it can take on the force of powerful winds, of strong waves. It creates its own gravity and momentum, each movement taking on an exaggerated expression. Each inhale lifts your lungs and belly, inflating what now feels like elastic skin. Each exhale becomes a gratifying release and surrender, an emptying of something you never knew could ever be so full.
UC Santa Cruz Jewish and non-Jewish student protesters. Credit: Matt Borden.
Two months ago, UC President Marc Yudof’s Advisory Council on Campus Climate, Culture and Inclusion released a report on the experiences of Jewish students on UC campuses. Co-authored by Rick Barton, a council member of the Anti-Defamation League, and Alice Huffman of the California NAACP, the report marks the culmination of what many have come to see as an attack on free speech and academic freedom under the disguise of protecting Jewish students from criticism of Israel.The following letter is a response to the report from an organization of UC professors and other academics who are focused on maintaining free and open academic debate.
Please sign this petition if you would like to urge President Yudof to disregard the report.
Dear President Yudof,
We, the California Scholars for Academic Freedom** write to urge you not to adopt the recommendations of the Jewish Student Campus Climate Report. We find the report’s recommendations pose a clear threat to academic freedom at the University of California. First, the report is based on sloppy methodology and clear bias. A comparison with the Muslim and Arab Student Campus Climate Report is instructive. The latter explains exactly how many people they spoke with, how they were put in touch with them, and lists their names and affiliations. The Jewish Student Campus Climate Report merely implies that they spoke with a range of people but never specifies with whom and how they were chosen. In fact, the two people who conducted the Jewish Student Campus Climate Report appear to have spoken almost exclusively with those who would like to silence criticism of Israel on UC campuses.
Second, the Muslim and Arab Student Campus Climate Report explains in great detail the exact nature of the discrimination that Muslim and Arab students experience on UC campuses, while the Jewish Student Campus Climate Report quotes unnamed people as feeling upset about criticisms of Israel. In fact, the report focuses almost exclusively on criticism of Israel as a supposedly objective measure of anti-Semitism while giving short shrift to the broad range of Jewish student experiences on UC campuses. The Jewish Student Campus Climate Report, despite a brief one-sentence disclaimer, essentially equates criticism of Israel with anti-Semitism, despite having to acknowledge that much of this criticism comes from Jewish faculty and students.
In my last article I discussed The Wild Goose Festival as a paradigm shift. Now I want to explore the shift in a greater, and lengthier context as I lead into describing (in coming articles) the way it is informing and being informed by a larger global culture, a larger spiritual and religious culture, and shifts within all which also lead to increased conversations within and outside of all current contexts of identity. We are restructuring the world, in tiny steps so small that it is often hard to see at the micro-level.
I think the greatest piece of this is the understanding that there is something bigger and better in God than we ever before conceptualized. We are beginning to see that within “my Christianity,” “my Judaism,” “my Islam,” “my Buddhism” there is a small sliver of God we are allowed to see, illuminated both through our own personal sacred texts and our visceral experiences of God in relationship to the faith we have learned (or as I sometimes call it, “faith of origin”). The second half to this is that we are realizing that my sliver of God-light and your sliver of God-light emanate from the same source and that saying that is no longer easily poo-pooed as heretical within my tradition but enhancing the basis of my traditional understanding with a God greater than we have ever been able to see or frame in our world-view before.
We are able to see that God can be many things to many people and to say that doesn’t make me a heretical Christian but makes me a Christian able to see God’s light from many different angles–like a prism refracting and dividing the sun’s light and sending it outward in millions of different directions.
Last evening I attended the Global Women’s Leadership Network graduation for a group of amazing women who will now head off to spend the next six months working on projects to improve lives and make the world a better place. A young man approached me during the reception afterwards and introduced himself. He is an engineering student at Santa Clara University and was attending the ceremony as an assignment for a class focused on women in engineering. I asked him how many men and how many women were in the course. “Five men and two women.”
Interesting, don’t you think?
Empowering girls around the world to get equal education, especially in areas of math, science, medicine, and engineering, was a common theme among the dreams that last evening’s graduates had for their work. Sally Ride, who passed away this week after a battle with cancer, would have been there applauding these women and I think the discussion with the young Santa Clara engineering student would have been quite fun.
Interfaith delegation including young Jews and rabbis with Jewish Voice for Peace who advocated for boycott and divestment at the Presbyterian General Assembly.
We are writing to you as two young American Jews who have just seen something extraordinary. Last week we were guests at the 220th Presbyterian Church (USA) General Assembly in Pittsburgh where we witnessed the historic plenary vote to boycott Israeli settlement products. We congratulate you as people of faith for aligning your practice with your values and taking a principled stand. Mazel tov!
At the General Assembly we watched Christian clergy and laypeople engaging in dialogue on a very difficult topic – the Israeli occupation of the West Bank – with respect, grace, and open hearts. It is a true blessing to walk the path of peace with you in solidarity. Both of us have spent years educating ourselves on the issues, traveling to Israel and Palestine, and researching companies complicit in the Occupation.
There is citizen journalism and then there is photographic philanthropy, and they each serve a purpose. I have been covering Occupy events in my area by shooting photos and making them available on flickr, as well as tweeting them around. A few publications have asked me to post to their sites as a citizen journalist, but I haven’t taken that step yet.
April 26, though, I shot an event that wasn’t about Occupy. It was a photographic exhibit called “Facing Forward” by volunteer Marsha Guggenheim that displayed beautiful profiles of women who had graduated from the Community Health Worker Training Program of the Homeless Prenatal Program, alongside short blurbs about their success stories.
The opening event was packed. Like Occupy, it was a mixer of all kinds of people – culturally and economically. I find it the most powerful when philanthropist types come together in the same space with the economically disadvantaged people being served, with shared goals.
I don’t know what sort of graduation ceremony typically happens for women who graduate the Community Health Worker program, but this event was a truly high and joyous celebration of the 132 women who have graduated from the program since its inception in 1995.
There are people in this world who can show their wounds only by inflicting them. – Aurora Levins-Morales
I have been deeply touched by the many responses to myrecent post about bullying. So many questions and topics have come up, that rather than responding to specific comments, I thought I would collect them and respond in one post. I see the entire question of bullying as deeply significant, capturing in it so much of what I want to transform in how we overall relate to each other in the world, and to our children in particular. I imagine that every child learns deep lessons from the prevalence of bullying and from seeing how bullying is handled. I want those lessons to be ones that will support them in trusting the possibility of workable systems and human relations, and in their own capacity to make a positive difference in life around them. If even a few parents or teachers are inspired to shift the environment within which bullying happens, it would give me the satisfaction of having made a difference myself. My hope and vision are far bigger, which if you read this blog regularly you already know anyway…
My Own Path
I was asked how I was able to transcend what happened to me and come to a place of being open and vulnerable. I am not surprised this question is coming up. I have pondered some version of this question for years. It seems big and huge to me. While it seems pretty commonly accepted these days that people who act violently toward others were themselves previously traumatized and often abused, it is equally clear that not all those who are abused pass the violence on to others. If I understood fully what made it never appealing for me to inflict harm on others, not even in my fantasies, perhaps I could use this understanding in supporting others. Why is it that what was most painful for me was my inability to understand why anyone would treat me, or anyone else, the way I was treated? Much more painful than the actual experience of leaning against a tree all night and shivering. The more I am able to understand, the more calm there is in my heart.
My friends at Waging Nonviolence have been putting together some amazing articles about successful nonviolent movements from the past and present, with a hope that today’s activists can learn from history and current actions. I was intrigued when I was sent this article about the “Red Square” movement in Canada.
Started because of increases in tuition, the movement is rapidly growing and judging from reports of mass arrests, beatings, and pepper spraying, it is starting to really annoy the powers that be. While our friends to the north are complaining about “staggering” student debts of nearly $30,000, US students are facing debts of hundreds of thousands of dollars.
Both sides of the border are feeling the pain and more and more young people are starting to stand up. Read more to get an on-the-ground perspective from recent actions in Montreal.