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Archive for the ‘General News’ Category



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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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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Witnessing History

Aug17

by: on August 17th, 2015 | 3 Comments »

I confess.

If you ask me how old I am, I am not going to tell you the truth. Facebook has a number on my page, but call me Hatshepsut because I am queen of de-ni-al. I do not tell people how old my children are because they will know what a shameless liar I am when I talk about my age. The concept of real age was invented for me. This is where age is determined by good eating, exercise, and life-style choices. It is possible to age backwards.

That said, there are times when we must say what we know about the history that we have lived and witnessed. This ages us. Friday, August 14, 2015, I watched as Marines raised the flag of the United States of America over the US embassy in Havana, Cuba. It is a step on the road to normal relations between Cuba and the United States. This is something that is long overdue, and it is way past time to end the economic embargo against Cuba.

In the United States, we have a tendency toward what I call bogeyman foreign policy. We decide that an individual, group, regime, or nation is evil incarnate. We, the United State of America, are always the good guys in the story. We assign these roles without context or nuance. We ignore the inconvenient facts of history where US policies have made the situation worse. Heaven forbid a leader will say the truth. S/he will be accused of apologizing for the United States. Never mind that there are times when apologies are in order.

I was a little girl when Fidel Castro and the Cuban revolution succeeded. I do not remember his first trip to the United States where he met Malcolm X and visited Harlem. I do, however, remember the Cuban missile crisis. My parents and the other adults in my world did their best to protect me from the magnitude of the moment. I had no idea that the world stood on the edge of nuclear war. I knew there might be a war with the Soviet Union. Before bed every night, I got down on my knees to pray while my mother listened. I remember praying that there would not be war. I worried about my Uncle A.C. who was a soldier. I had no concept of the geopolitical strategies or the import of an impending conflict. I only cared about Uncle A.C.’s safety. There was no war, and Uncle A.C. was safe.

Life moved on, and Cuba was not important to my life. In college in the early 1970s, I became aware of how the lives of people of color across the globe were connected in an anti-colonial and post-colonial historical reality. The civil rights struggle was not about civil rights alone, but it was about universal human rights. I studied W.E.B. Du Bois and the Pan-African Congresses of the first half of the 20th century. I studied Marcus Garvey, his Universal Negro Improvement Association, and the truth behind his slogan: “Africa for Africans.” I learned of Malcolm X and his understanding of the end of white world supremacy following the Bandung Conference of 1955.

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Help Wanted to Pressure US Embassy Official

Aug13

by: on August 13th, 2015 | 13 Comments »

A friend of mine, Eritrean-American journalist Michael Abraham, is without resources or means of subsistence in Nairobi because a white US Embassy official will not give him the proof of his US citizenship that he needs to work as foreign correspondent or obtain emergency assistance from media rights groups as a journalist in distress having lost everything in the bloody South Sudan war. He has been offered both employment and assistance, if he can show his passport.

He can’t, because his passport is being held by a hotel manager who will not give it back until he pays the money he owes the hotel. But without a job, he can’t repay the hotel.

The embassy is refusing to provide a temporary proof of citizenship which would enable him to get a job as journalist. Isn’t that illegal? What can Michael do from here? Is there anyone reading this with the legal knowledge to give him free advice?

Here’s the whole story, which appears to be yet another tale of a white official acting racist. I have written it up as a press article, but I haven’t yet found any publication interested. When there is another unarmed Black citizen shot every few days in the US, I guess no one is up for paying attention to a Black citizen being blackballed by our embassy thousands of miles away. But if you have any legal advice, please do email me. The story in full:

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A Letter of Apology

Aug13

by: on August 13th, 2015 | 2 Comments »

Dear Friends of Tikkun and the Network of Spiritual Progressives,

I apologize for the drawing that accompanies my editorial “War With Iran: The Disastrous Aim of Israel and the Republicans” in which I critique Netanyahu and his allies in Israel and in the American Jewish community, who are opposing the nuclear deal with Iran. The drawing depicts U.S. and Iranian diplomats negotiating at a table. Under the platform on which the negotiators sit, a figure representing Congress is sawing away and will likely soon succeed in defeating the attempt to find a peaceful way to prevent Iran from developing nuclear weapons. All fine and appropriate. But then in the hands of that figure representing Congress is a sack of money with a Jewish star on it. I can’t remember seeing that when I was shown a much smaller version of this drawing and approved it, but when I saw it next to my editorial I was shocked and deeply upset.

The implication of that drawing is that somehow it is Jewish money that is bribing the Congress to oppose the deal: a little figure on the side looking like a duck says, “The best Congress that money can buy,” which in the context of the money bag with a Jewish star seems to indicate that Jewish money is behind the whole problem. To me, this is reviving an ancient and distorted anti-Semitic trope that I detest: that Jews have all the money and that they use it for nefarious purposes.

In this very same issue ofTikkun, placed in one of the most highly visible places (inside the front cover), I wrote a statement saying, “Anti-Semitism is Always Wrong.” There, I explain why criticism of Israeli policies and policies of right-wing American Jews is appropriate, but it is inappropriate to blame the entire Jewish people for these ethical errors, and doing so is racist and unacceptable. So imagine my dismay when I saw this drawing – for me it evokes Nazi propaganda against Jews.


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Notes on the National Gathering of Black Scholars in Ferguson

Aug10

by: on August 10th, 2015 | No Comments »

The gathering began with a word: hush. It was the first word of a song, “Hush, hush, somebody’s calling my name.” Dr. Joanne Marie Terrell, associate professor of ethics, theology and the arts at Chicago Theological Seminary, lifted her powerful voice to sing: “sounds like Sandra, somebody’s calling my name.”

I know this song because I have heard it all my life in church. I thought: “Is here a Sandra in the Bible?” My mind started its own survey of the text. The song usually calls the roll of biblical characters. When enslaved Africans lost the names of African ancestors, they substituted the names of biblical characters to remember their stories of faith that could give enslaved people the spiritual strength to keep on keeping on in the face of structural violence. However, as Dr. Terrell continued to sing, she added the names Michael, Rekia, Eric, Oscar, John Crawford, and finally: “Sounds like Jesus. Somebody’s calling my name. Oh my Lord, oh my Lord what shall I do? What shall I do? ”

All of these people were killed by police who, when we give them a gun and a badge, become representatives of the state. The people police officers kill are victims of state authority. This song reminds us that they are calling our names, and the question we ask in response to their call is: what shall I do?

This gathering of black scholars was convened by womanist scholars, many of whom are also ordained clergy, to commemorate the first anniversary of the death of Michael Brown, an unarmed African-American teen shot by a police officer in Ferguson, Missouri. Brown’s death and subsequent police involved shootings spawned what has been called the new civil rights movement. It is known by many names including Black Lives Matter (BLM) and Say Her Name.

Last year when protestors in Ferguson faced police equipped with military hardware who used tear gas on the crowd, womanist scholar/ preacher/teachers came by various routes to Ferguson. Reverend Dr. Valerie Bridgeman came at the invitation of Rev. Traci Blackmon, pastor of Christ the King United Church of Christ in Florissant, Missouri. Reverend Dr. Leslie Callahan, pastor of St. Paul’s Baptist Church in Philadelphia came when PICO National Network, a faith-based community organizing group, put out a call. These women and others came to offer the ministry of presence. They came to put their body, souls, and minds on the line for social justice.

About two months before this gathering, through conversations on Facebook and on the telephone, Bridgeman, along with Reverend Dr. Pamela R. Lightsey, associate dean of community life and lifelong learning at Boston university School of Theology, and others decided to gather black scholars and students from across the country along with local activists in Ferguson to think about what comes next for both scholars and activists in this challenging moment. With sponsorships from several theological schools, Chalice Press, and WomanPreach! Inc., the gathering convened at the Center for Social Empowerment and Justice August 7-8, 2015.

We came to answer the question: what shall I do?

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In Memory of Ali Saad Dawabsha, z”l

Aug7

by: on August 7th, 2015 | No Comments »

Like something left behind
A passport
A sweater
A child’s
Toy worn and loved
And lost
Tears and sweat
In the memory of the fabric
Supposed to be here
But not
In your icy panic
Who could you call
To find it
Bring it
Back?

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Jews Respond with Anger and Despair at Israeli Murders of Palestinian and Gay Victims

Aug7

by: on August 7th, 2015 | 2 Comments »

Editor’s Note:

Flickr: zeevveez

Faced with the horrendous crimes of an ultra-orthodox Jew stabbing participants in a gay pride demonstration in Israel, and the firebombing of Palestinian homes and resulting burning to death of an 18 month old Palestinian baby while others in the family are in critical condition and may not survive, many Israelis and American Jews denounced these horrendous acts. Netanyahu and his government ordered a few Israeli settlers arrested in “administrative detention,” the polite word to describe the practice which till now has been used against thousands of Palestinian civilians–arrest without formal charges, often held in detention for months or more without trial, and in the case of Palestinians often tortured. The Israeli settlers arrested did not face what most Palestinians “suspected” of terrorist acts usually suffer: the homes of the family of the suspect are immediately blown up by the occupying Israeli Army in the West Bank. That no such punishment was immediately meted out to the Israeli settler suspects was not surprising, but just another manifestation of the racist treatment Palestinians in the Occupied territory face (though of course we don’t support this tactic against settlers or Palestinians). As many Israeli human rights and peace advocates point out, the firebombing of Palestinian homes is just one of many variants of violence visited upon Palestinians in the Occupied West Bank, the goal being to make life so difficult that Palestinians will eventually be “ethnically cleansed” and Israel can make the West Bank a fully Jewish-majority part of Israel. I should hasten to add that most West Bank settlers do not participate in acts of violence, though they overwhelmingly vote for extremist right-wing political parties whose policies are racist and whose goals are not fundamentally dissimilar to those of their violent West Bank settler neighbors.

For us at Tikkun, all this has left us stunned, saddened, repenting for these horrific crimes on the part of our people, and all the more determined to insist on the need to end the Occupation and create an economically and politically viable Palestinian state, while purging our own peple of the hatred and racism that too many Israelis and their American Jewish allies have been willing to ignore, apologize for, or deny. On the other hand, the attack on homosexuals, equally outrageous and horrendous, does not flow from the policies of the State of Israel, which have been friendly to gays and lesbians in the past decade, but rather from the homophobic perspective of the ultra-orthodox community. Until those attitudes are purged from the orthodox world, gays and lesbians will face oppressive treatment in those communities. As I argued in my book Jewish Renewal, the anti-gay texts in the Torah can be reinterpreted in the same spirit that led the rabbis to redefine all the commands for animal sacrifices to be understood as really commands to pray (avodah zeh hu teffillah). Where there is a communal will there is a Hallakhic way, so just as Jewish religious law has evolved on many other issues, so it can follow the rulings of Conservative Movement in Judaism and make changes in their understanding of Torah on this issue–if the will to stamp out homophobia prevails, as it should.

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