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Archive for the ‘Politics & Society’ Category



Reasons for Departure

Feb26

by: Ben Kline on February 26th, 2015 | No Comments »

A screenshot from the movie Salt of the Sea.

About a year ago, I watched the 2008 Palestinian film Salt of this Sea, about a Palestinian-American woman named Soraya and her quest to reclaim her family’s home in Jaffa. The film has quite a few agonizing moments: in one scene, Soraya and her Ramallah-born boyfriend Emad are squatting in what remains of his ancestral village, well west of the Green Line. The illusion that they might build a new life atop these ruins is interrupted by a stern Israeli tour guide, who becomes much friendlier when a panicked Soraya lies and tells him she is Jewish.

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Globalizing Black History Month: Recalling the Professor and the Punjabi Lion

Feb25

by: Murali Balaji on February 25th, 2015 | No Comments »

As February winds down, one of the most overlooked aspects of Black History Month is how African Americans influenced and were influenced by global movements, particularly before the start of the civil rights era.

A long-forgotten part of the global exchange is during the periods between the World Wars, when African-American activists and intellectuals had frequent interactions with counterparts in other parts of the world. In this spirit, it should be noted that long before Mahatma Gandhi’s activism inspired the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. and civil rights leaders, another trans-Atlantic relationship would play a significant role in shaping African-American thought: the close friendship between W.E.B. Du Bois and Indian freedom fighter Lala Lajpat Rai, known by many as the Lion of Punjab.

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Generosity Versus Violence

Feb25

by: Jack Gilroy on February 25th, 2015 | No Comments »

In May of 1955, I was one of thirty United States Infantrymen facing a like number of Russian Infantrymen divided only by a manhole cover, on the cobblestone plaza of Schoenbrun Palace, Vienna, Austria. Secretary of State John Foster Dulles and his brother, Avery Dulles, Director of the Central Intelligence Agency, sat on the sidelines. At a signal, the American and Russian Colonels saluted, that was the official end of the occupation of Austria. The withdrawal of all foreign troops would begin and Austria would start a new age away from a war economy.

There was much to do. Although the Marshall Plan, the economic assistance plan to assist European nations devastated by World War II, had obvious political and even self-serving strategies by the giver nation, the USA, it was evident that it was working. The rubble of war was being cleaned up except across the Danube where buildings remained torn and tattered from intensive bombing ten and more years before.

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Fifty Shades of Jihad

Feb23

by: on February 23rd, 2015 | No Comments »

A Muslim woman walking on a bridge.

What do 50 Shades of Grey and jihad have in common? Masculine violence and hatred against women, argues Roger Gottlieb. Credit: Creative Commons / FaceMePLS

Fifty Shades of Grey and Jihad. Any similarity? Of course not. One is a phenomenally successful, poorly written, vaguely pornographic novel that follows the tried and true formula of romance novels: powerful, gorgeous, got-it-all man falls for shy, immature, hiddenly attractive, and mildly spunky woman. He dominates her; she reforms him. They (and their assorted whips and handcuffs) live happily ever after.

The second is the horror of ISIS beheading and burning and slaughtering innocent victims; a range of killings from Paris to Denmark to Montreal. People possessed by an insane lust for violence in the service of a literal and infinitely intolerant interpretation of a monotheistic text and tradition. Women as chattel or worse.

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Netanyahu Hid Speech to Congress from His Own National Security Advisor

Feb23

by: on February 23rd, 2015 | No Comments »

It appears that President Obama was not the only one whom Israel’s Prime Minister, Binyamin Netanyahu, kept in the dark about his plans to address Congress on March 3. An Israeli outlet is now reporting that Netanyahu also concealed secret negotiations with John Boehner from his own National Security Advisor, Yossi Cohen.

This merely confirms what most observers have suspected: Netanyahu’s speech is not about security, but rather the two-fold chance to embarrass Obama while creating valuable political optics in advance of Israel’s March 17 elections.

Via i24news:

President Barack Obama and his top aides were not the only ones kept in the dark about the invitation extended by House Speaker John Boehner to Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to address a joint session of Congress on Iran’s nuclear program.

i24news has learned that Netanyahu’s decision to address Congress on March 3 was made without consulting his own National Security Advisor, Yossi Cohen.

The invitation was orchestrated by Boehner and the Israeli ambassador to the US, Ron Dermer, but was not discussed thoroughly by a broader forum in Jerusalem. According to well-informed sources, just like the US administration, Cohen learned about Netanyahu’s plans only a short while before Boehner’s public announcement of the scheduled speech.

Cohen, a 30-year veteran of the Mossad spy agency, was appointed to his post by Netanyahu in 2013. According to the law governing the responsibilities of the National Security Council and its head, Cohen’s job includes providing advice to the prime minister and his government on Israel’s strategic relationships.


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Over 1,000 Muslims form ‘ring of peace’ around Oslo synagogue, chanting “No to anti-Semitism.”

Feb21

by: on February 21st, 2015 | 3 Comments »

a An anti-hate campaign launched by Norway’s Muslim community last week, after a tragic attack on a Denmark synagogue, culminated tonight with over 1,000 Muslims forming a ‘ring of peace’ around an Oslo synagogue. Citizens linked hands, chanted anti-hate slogans and offered a show of solidarity with Norway’s Jewish community, one of the smallest in Europe.

Via Reuters:

Chanting “No to anti-Semitism, no to Islamophobia,” Norway’s Muslims formed what they called a ring of peace a week after Omar Abdel Hamid El-Hussein, a Danish-born son of Palestinian immigrants, killed two people at a synagogue and an event promoting free speech in Copenhagen last weekend.

“Humanity is one and we are here to demonstrate that,” Zeeshan Abdullah, one of the protest’s organizers told a crowd of Muslim immigrants and ethnic Norwegians who filled the small street around Oslo’s only functioning synagogue.

“There are many more peace mongers than warmongers,” Abdullah said as organizers and Jewish community leaders stood side by side. “There’s still hope for humanity, for peace and love, across religious differences and backgrounds.”


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White House to Snub AIPAC Conference Over Netanyahu Speech Before Congress

Feb21

by: on February 21st, 2015 | 1 Comment »

A significant development in the ongoing rift between the Obama administration and Israel’s government: it appears White House plans to snub AIPAC’s upcoming policy conference are intensifying over Binyamin Netanyahu’s March 3 address before Congress.

AIPAC officials have known for weeks that neither President Barack Obama, Vice President Joe Biden, or Secretary of State John Kerry would likely attend, already a notable and unprecedented snub. Now, the Associated Press is reporting that the Obama administration may not even send a Cabinet-level representative to the conference:

The White House is mulling ways to undercut Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s upcoming trip to Washington and blunt his message that a potential nuclear deal with Iran is bad for Israel and the world in what has become a nasty grudge match.

[...]

Among them … a pointed snub of America’s leading pro-Israel lobby, which is holding its annual meeting while Netanyahu is in Washington.

The administration has already ruled out meetings between Netanyahu and Obama, saying it would be inappropriate for the two to meet so close to Israel’s March 17 elections. But the White House is now doubling down on a cold-shoulder strategy, including dispatching Cabinet members out of the country and sending a lower-ranking official than normal to represent the administration at the annual policy conference of the American Israel Public Affairs Committee, the officials said.


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Say “No” to Netanyahu’s Attempt to Drag the US into a War with Iran

Feb20

by: on February 20th, 2015 | 7 Comments »

Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu is coming to the US March 3rd to speak to a joint session of the US Congress to popularize the idea that the U.S. should essentially make impossible Obama’s efforts to negotiate a nuclear deal with Iran, hence putting the U.S. and Israel on path toward war with Iran.

We are taking a full-page ad in the NY Times, if we get enough people to donate to make it happen. We need YOU to sign the ad at tikkun.org/PeaceProject and to donate generously. Here are some guidelines to consider: People of means might consider donating between $1,000 to $5,000. People with incomes above $60,000/yr might $400 to $300 (and anyone giving $300 or more will have their name appear on the ad itself, though the ad will also have a link to all the people who sign the ad). Any amount you give will help us reach the amount we need to make this statement possible. We hate giving this money to the Times, but they won’t print our op-eds and the national media is already filled with ads from the militarists supporting the Netanyahu position. Another voice needs to be heard–and we at Tikkun and the Network of Spiritual Progressives are making this happen.

This is not an ad for Jews only–it is already being signed by leading figures in the Christian, Muslim, Buddhist, and HIndu worlds as well as by secular humanists and atheists of every possible ethnic, religious and national background (people from around the world are invited to sign and donate). If you want your organization listed as a co-sponsor, the minimum it can donate for that is $2,000, and any that donate $20,000 or more will get a significant chunk of space in the ad for higher visibility at the bottom of the ad.

You may often feel powerless when reading about the craziness of what the current Congress is doing, what Netanyahu is doing, and the way that Obama too often ends up compromising with the Right-wingers. HERE IS SOMETHING YOU CAN DO: Donate now and donate generously, stretch beyond your normal capacity, to make this ad happen. You can sign the ad and then donate at tikkun.org/PeaceProject.

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The Second Exodus

Feb20

by: Dvora Lederman Daniely on February 20th, 2015 | No Comments »

A painting of Adam and Eve.

The role of women and matriarchs as leaders is evidenced throughout the Bible (and Torah). Credit: Creative Commons / Tilemahos Efthimiadis

The story of salvation from Egypt is the founding story of Israel’s faith and religion. Every year, the Jewish people convenes and celebrates the Passover Seder – a ritual feast involving a retelling of the biblical story of the liberation of the Israelites from slavery in Egypt.

Rachel Adler argues in her book “Engendering Judaism” that the biblical story gives the deity a body, and indeed, the hegemonic text emphasizes the story that gave divinity and the leader of salvation a male body. But beyond the hegemonic display, serving a patriarchal culture, a different presentation of events dwells in the text of salvation, one that gives divinity a female body, and characterizes the forces of salvation as female corporeal-spiritual ones.

The beginning of the story is in fact a testosterone-filled competition between two belligerent fathers – the God of Israel and Pharaoh; the two men are playing a game just “to spite”. In the book of Exodus chapter 1, the king is depicted as calling to his sons, the Egyptian people: “Come, we must deal shrewdly with them or they will become even more numerous” (Exodus 1:10). Pharaoh fears the fighting capabilities of the Israeli males, and therefore tortures the people of Israel. The other father, God, as depicted by the male hegemonic text, declares

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Acknowledging the Racism that Saturates Our Nation

Feb19

by: on February 19th, 2015 | 1 Comment »

“What parents have done for decades who have children of color, especially young men of color, is train them to be very careful when they have…an encounter with a police officer.”

- New York Mayor Bill de Blasio, ABC’s “This Week”

The Mayor added that “With Dante, very early on, we said, ‘Look, if a police officer stops you, do everything he tells you to do. Don’t move suddenly. Don’t reach for your cellphone,’ because we knew, sadly, there’s a greater chance it might be misinterpreted if it was a young man of color.”

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