Tikkun Daily button

Archive for the ‘Politics & Society’ Category



Live Interview with Uri Avnery and More

Jul28

by: Tikkun Administration on July 28th, 2014 | No Comments »

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.

Read more...

Letter to My Community: How I’m Pro-Israel

Jul28

by: on July 28th, 2014 | 8 Comments »

I don’t cry.

It didn’t used to be this way – I was a somewhat sensitive kid growing up, and often wore my emotions openly, crying naturally when the world demanded tears. I’m now 40, and haven’t cried in 12 years. Maybe more. I admit that, during the past month, I’ve written the words “I weep” for the loss of life in Gaza and the loss of life in Israel. But such words have just been a metaphor for what, in reality, can no longer be conjured.

Credit: Creative Commons

Why am I starting out by telling you this? Because in writing this letter, I can feel the faint hint of tears, can feel the sensation of what it feels like to cry. It’s a familiar feeling, but one which will spill out into words. Words of sadness. Words of love. And possibly, words of hope.

Many of you know me as an active member of the community. You are my friends and my colleagues. You are Jewish community leaders and community activists. You are Americans and Israelis. You are people I care about, and during this difficult time, some of our relationships are being strained. Which is why I’m writing and sharing some thoughts, hoping that in doing so, the distance created between myself and some of you might be bridged during this difficult time.


Read more...

Front Door, Back Door, Economic Chasm: Not a PBS Series

Jul28

by: on July 28th, 2014 | No Comments »

Credit: Creative Commons

In scenes reminiscent of the PBS series “Upstairs, Downstairs,” and “Downton Abbey,” a luxury condominium complex in New York City’s Upper West Side, according to an agreement reached between the developers and City government, when completed, will contain a door for use by wealthy residents only, and a separate door for lower-income tenants. In exchange for permission to build a bigger and taller building, the developers have agreed to include 55 affordable rent-regulated units.

Residents living in these more “affordable” apartments within high-end complexes throughout the City are usually restricted from availing themselves of amenities granted to wealthy occupants, including swimming pools, gyms, and tennis and basketball courts. Since traditionally in New York City the majority of renters and buyers paying market rates for housing are white and the majority of tenants living in rent-regulated units are people of color, these sorts of “agreements” promote legalized segregation based on skin color and the color of money.

No matter how utterly offensive we may consider this arrangement, it does not even begin to represent the enormous economic gap and segregation of communities in the United States today. While economic disparities plague all nations across the planet, nowhere are these disparities more extreme than in the United States. No other problem affects the security and the very survival of our nation and other nations across our ever-shrinking planet more than the income and resource gap between the rich and the poor.

Read more...

Israel, Palestine, and Us: The Peace That Passeth All Understanding

Jul28

by: on July 28th, 2014 | No Comments »

Facebook has been a forest of assertions and denunciations this week. Maybe it’s the company I keep, but almost everyone is posting links at an accelerated rate, and the subject of this battle of citations is Israel-Palestine.

I spent a remarkable amount of time reading blogs and essays, but still, I was able to consume only a fraction of this material. The volume was such that I could have begun reading each morning, pausing only to sleep, then rolled out of bed and continued till bedtime the next day. The vast majority of posts came from people who, like me, live thousands of miles from the Mideast and, like me, have almost no direct knowledge of the situation. In fact, the intensity of posting seemed to escalate with distance, with people who live here in California screaming at each other with even more force than those who live in the region.

I have no doubt that horror and compassion played key roles in people’s desire to speak out. But they don’t tell the whole story. I think there is another story written between the lines of people’s posts, and that has to do with why, when, and how we rebuke injustice, which of the many outrages oozing from wounds in our social fabric seize our consciences and feed our righteous certainty. I am thinking of our own responsibility and the way it can seem to shrink as others’ culpability grows.

I started looking up the numbers on the U.S.’s own wars. You can’t find one authoritative number, but Wikipedia has an extensive list of sources and estimates you can check out yourself. They led me to put the total for Iraqi civilian casualties in our wars of 2003-2011 at about 100,000 (the UN estimated the number of war orphans at nearly 900,000), plus about 40,000 soldiers, military police, and insurgents. Approximately 4500 U.S. soldiers died in Iraq, including deaths from causes other than combat. I have been thinking about our numbers, a ratio of “our deaths” to “their deaths” that is even more overbalanced than Israel-Palestine, not to justify but to understand how we come to normalize such moral calculus.


Read more...

Two States: Still The Only Way To End The Conflict

Jul25

by: on July 25th, 2014 | 5 Comments »

I keep hearing from people who say “but what is Israel supposed to do?” They then go on to say that it is now more obvious than ever that if Palestinians control the West Bank Israel will not be safe. “They” will just launch missiles from there.

Here are the facts:

No iteration of the two-state solution allows the West Bank to be militarized. The Palestinian state would have no army. Its borders with Israel would be guarded, not only by the IDF which obviously would not go out of existence, but by U.S. monitors. The CIA would play a particular role (as it did in the last years of Oslo), working with both sides, to prevent and combat violence. During that period CIA-brokered Israeli-Palestinian security cooperation reduced acts of terrorism to zero. All this is spelled out in the various documents circulated during negotiations; and all these conditions were accepted by Yasir Arafat and Mahmoud Abbas.

Nobody who advocates the two-state solution envisions Israel just walking away and handing the keys to the Palestinians. Every proposed agreement includes ironclad security guarantees. It is also worth noting that the Palestinian Authority, even without any two-state agreement, has successfully eliminated most violence emanating from the West Bank.

Read more...

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.

Read more...

Empathizing with Gaza does NOT make me anti-Semitic, nor pro-Hamas or anti-Israel. It makes me human.

Jul25

by: on July 25th, 2014 | 8 Comments »

On the ground in Gaza, Israel’s war against Hamas has been devastating. Online and in the public sphere, a different sort of war has been taking place – a broad initiative to delegitimize those who raise questions about and critique Israel’s actions.

This initiative is being carried out both by so-called ‘pro-Israel’ individuals as well as student volunteers enlisted by Israel’s government in its ‘social media war.’ The result: those who merely express empathy for the suffering in Gaza, where over 800 people have been killed and 5,000 injured, are tainted as anti-Semitic or pro-Hamas, and those who offer dissenting opinions are labelled as enemies who seek Israel’s destruction.

The goal is to shut down dialogue and debate, something Jon Stewart nailed in a recent bit in which he attempts to discuss Israel, only to be shouted down as a self-hating Jew. It is not a new phenomenon or initiative, though it has become much more intense and widespread as emotions run high over the ongoing violence in Gaza and continued rocket attacks in Israel.

It seems to be affecting everyone who publicly offers critical opinions about Israel’s Gaza offensive, whether celebrities, journalists or anonymous individuals.

The horrible irony is that, as propagandists try to defame dissenters by slandering them as anti-Semitic, thus diluting its meaning, real anti-Semitism is rearing its head in Europe. Anti-semitism is still a real danger, and that danger is being made graver by those who are participating in this online initiative to falsely tar concerned voices as enemies of Israel.


Read more...

Intent & Impact of Giants Hiring David Tyree

Jul25

by: on July 25th, 2014 | 1 Comment »

“This will be the beginning of our country sliding toward, it’s a strong word, but anarchy. How can marriage be marriage for thousands of years and now all the sudden because a minority, an influential minority, has a push or agenda … and totally reshapes something that was not founded in our country.”

 - David Tyree, to the National Organization for Marriage, 2011

Credit: Creative Commons

David Tyree, former NFL wide receiver for the New York Giants, is probably most renowned for his amazing “helmet catch” in 2007 to continue the ultimately decisive game-winning surge against the undefeated New England Patriots in Super Bowl XLI by the close score of 17 – 14. In 2011, though, he announced that he would gladly trade his phenomenal catch in exchange for a law outlawing marriage for same-sex couples.

Tyree, who is married, a father of four children, and a devout Christian asserted that homosexuality and marriage for same-sex couples defies God: “I don’t agree with it [gay marriage] because God doesn’t agree with it. As a Christian, I don’t agree. Society may be changing but God is not.”

He also claimed in a series of Tweets in 2011 that homosexuality is not inborn: “…there are many former homosexual men & women in this country & no scientific data to support the claim of being born gay” and that he has met “former homosexuals.”

Well, Mr. Tyree, if you don’t “agree” with marriage for same-sex couples, don’t marry someone of the same sex. Simple! If you think having attractions for others of the same sex and acting on this is a choice, well, don’t choose it yourself. Period, the end! Can we move on now?

Read more...

Conference Call on the Israel/Gaza War

Jul24

by: Tikkun Administration on July 24th, 2014 | 3 Comments »

For NSP–Network of Spiritual Progressives currently paid-up members, Tikkun subscribers and Beyt Tikkun members.

With Uri Avnery calling in from Tel Aviv (Avnery is the chair of the Israeli peace movement Gush Shalom), Rabbi Michael Lerner, and Cat Zavis (executive director of the Network of Spiritual Progressives).Please note that because circuits from Israel may be impossible to access (often the case, particularly during the current crisis, Avnery may not be able to reach us, though he intends to be on this call). Of course the discussion of the Israel/Gaza war will be carried on nevertheless. We urge you to read the Tikkun website and check out the articles about this before getting on the call. We plan to have time for some grieving the horrendous killings and destruction going on–a heart focus–as well as serious analysis of what is happening and our tasks in the face of the ongoing slaughter of the innocents.

DATE: Friday, July 25th

Read more...

President Obama Will Be Impeached This Coming Winter

Jul24

by: on July 24th, 2014 | 2 Comments »

Credit: Creative Commons

If the polls are correct and the Senate goes Republican this November, the House of Representatives will make impeaching the president its first order of business. And it will pass the Republican House overwhelmingly.

In theory, it shouldn’t matter to the House whether the Senate has a Republican majority or not. The House can impeach regardless. But with the Senate in Democratic hands, the House leadership can argue that there is no point in impeaching (which is merely an indictment) when the Senate won’t convict.

If, as is likely, the Senate is in Republican hands, it will impeach, a Senate trial will take place, and it will be followed by a vote to remove the president from office.

On what grounds, one might ask.

Read more...