by: Curated by Tikkun Staff on July 22nd, 2016 | No Comments »
Abdullah Issa was a Palestinian child living in Syria (family of refugees after the ethnic cleansing of 1948 by Israel). He was captured and accused of helping the Syrian government. He had injuries and was thought to be also treated for thallasemia. Pictures show the bandaged boy of perhaps 10 or 11 years old with a catheter in his arm. His captives had him in the back of a pick-up truck (perhaps having taken him from his hospital bed). As he pleaded with them they ignored him and directed their message to the camera against Syrian government then slit the throat of this child. The killer militia shouted Allahu Akbar as the boy was mercilessly murdered. This group is funded and/or supported by the governments of the US, Turkey, Israel, and Saudi Arabia. They were considered by those four governments as “moderate rebels”.
On the same day that Abdullah was beheaded, a Palestinian boy roughly the same age (Mohyee Sedki Tbakhi) was shot by the Israeli occupation forces. I could not help note the similarity between the two as they looked like twins. As happens, only by intensifying our efforts are we able to cope with such tragedies. Coincidentally I accepted an invitation by the US Consulate in Jerusalem for Independence Day celebration (the event was held July 20th rather than July 4th here). Such trips to Jerusalem (without an Israeli permit) are always painful for me but the contradictions and conflicting emotions here were high. The area is in West Jerusalem long since transformed to a “Jewish city” the only real remnant of Palestinian next to the consulate is a cemetery (Mamilla or Maman Allah). But development is even eating away at that space and what is left of it is treated as a garden park.
Editor’s Note: Tikkun does not endorse any political candidate.
Tim Kaine has been consistently ranked as one of the least progressive Democrats in the U.S. Senate. Adding him to the Hillary Clinton ticket would be a kick in the face to Bernie Sanders supporters holding out hopeless hope for some sign of democracy within the Democratic Party.
Kaine was an anti-environmentalist pro-coal governor of Virginia, a supporter of the “right to work” (for less) law restricting union organizing in Virginia, and he is a supporter of corporate trade agreements including the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) and including fast-tracking the TPP. An extremely loyal Democrat, he nonetheless criticized Democrats in 2011 for proposing higher taxes on millionaires.
Kaine is the anti-Bernie Sanders on policy and on process. He takes his direction from those in power, not from the public. In a poll of over 250 Sanders delegates to the Democratic National Convention (by the Bernie Delegate Network), only 2.7% of them said they thought Kaine would be an acceptable vice presidential nominee.
August 9th will mark the 71st anniversary of the U.S. atomic bombings of Hiroshima and Nakasaki. Activists and concerned citizens will stand with survivors of nuclear weapons and all those harmed by nuclear technology by gathering at the Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory in Livermore, California, in conjunction with Chain Reaction: a global action for nuclear disarmament, a nonviolent global movement encouraging nuclear disarmament actions by governments and the United Nations.
The Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory is a branch of the Ernest Orlando Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory. Although managed by the University of California, the lab is under contract with the Atomic Energy Commission (AEC) and has outgrown its status as branch laboratory to become a national resource in nuclear weapons development.
The participants in the Livermore event, called Disarm Now: We Stand with Nuclear Survivors for Global Justice, are scheduled to meet on August 9th at the Livermore lab and demand that the lab cease developing new nuclear weapons for the U.S. arsenal and instead divert funds from their nuclear weapons budget (which makes up 86% of their total funding).
[Editor's note: Tikkun does not endorse or reject any candidate for office or any political party (we are prohibited from doing so by our IRS non-profit status). We do publish on Tikkun Daily and on our website articles from selected boggers and sometimes from submissions directly from our subscribers or members of the Network of Spiritual Progressives, usually without comment, but hoping our readers understand that articles on our web or Tikkun Daily do NOT necessarily reflect our editorial stance which you can find ONLY in the editiorials I write in the print edition of the magazine. Nevertheless, because many of our readers are spiritual progressives, the articles on the election on our blog or website can sometimes seem to give more positive attention to one candidates and less for another candidate. For that reason, we want to again urge our readers to write to us with your feelings and thoughts about the presidential candidates and political parties least likely to be predictably what you'd find in Tikkun, in the hopes of having a wider range of views and a wider range of supporters of positions that we editorially oppose. Send those to Ari@tikkun.orgor firstname.lastname@example.org(along with a one or two sentence bio and your email and snail mail addresses, please.]
If in this article I do a good job of creating a sensible empathic explanation of Trump’s troubling behavior, I’ll evoke what at first to my fellow critics of him must seem impossible, much less undesirable. I hope to evoke compassion for him as the innocent victim of influences beyond his knowledge and, therefore, his control. But why strive to evoke compassion for horrible people? I believe this compassion-evoking view of any person is more credible than the degrading view held by nearly everyone. Incidentally, I’m one of those haters – Trump disgusts me. But it’s vital, I believe, to at least able to be angry at and feel compassion toward practically everyone.
The practical point of this empathic explanatory view? Perhaps most importantly regarding Trump, we must have a credible view of him and his supporters to plot an effective strategy for preventing him from winning the Presidency. That ought to be unarguable. And empathic explanations make the best sense of people. Of course, Trump may alienate the populace enough to derail his bid, but as of this writing, the polls haven’t tipped against him enough to quiet our worries about the possibility that the perhaps the most dangerous man to every run for this office will win the election, the growing number of Republicans for Hillary notwithstanding.
You are not obligated to complete the work,
but neither are you free to abandon it.
Do not be daunted
by the enormity of the world’s grief.
Do justly, now.
Love mercy, now.
Walk humbly, now.
- Rabbi Tarfon in Pirke Avot (Ethics of Our Fathers)
For the past few years, I have ended my classes at UCLA with a reflection with my students about this excerpt from a poem by Rabbi Tarfon and its significance for them. Many of us who work for social justice often work on organizing campaigns with short timelines, with little resources, and moving on all pistons at a grueling 24-7 pace. This extreme pace can consume the important things in life that contribute to a person’s well-being. It’s a kind of martyr’s code that measures a person’s commitment to justice by their willingness to sacrifice personal time, health, and relationships.
STOP THE VIOLENCE!
We mourn all the victims of violence, including the large volume of violence against people that goes unreported and underreported, including poor people and people of color, but also we mourn for the very few police officers who have been hurt or killed by those outraged at the way police have been harassing or murdering members of their community, their people, their race, etc. EVERY HUMAN LIFE IS PRECIOUS. None of the violence is ok. Not black on black violence, not white on black violence or black on white violence, not police violence, not acts of violent retribution. A hard message to get across in a society that responded to the horrendous killing of 3,000 plus Americans on 9/11 by engaging in assaults (both military and economic) on Afghanistan and Iraq that caused the loss of lives of hundreds of thousands of people. Yet violence continues to produce more violence. So the violence we delivered in the Middle East engendered ISIS/ISIL, and so it goes throughout history, and today in our own country. But for us in the religious world, the ongoing violence normally ignored by the media and genuinely not known or understood by most Americans is a spiritual, religious, and ethical emergency that deserves the attention of all people in every country of the world.
Soon after the news from Nice popped up on my newsfeed an old friend wandered into our shop. Last I’d seen her she had told me that her partner of 16 years had died after a long battle with cancer. She was leaving town, then, and I wasn’t sure if or when I’d see her again. Now here she was, grieving, in need of a friend to talk to. I closed my computer and for the next hour and a half, except when briefly interrupted to help another customer, I spent the time talking… actually, mostly listening.
The other day another woman was standing outside our shop looking lost. I went out and asked what was wrong. “I can’t remember where I parked my car.” I told her that it happens to all of us. “I just lost my husband and ever since he…. My brain just doesn’t work right anymore.”
Most people would walk by my friend and this other woman and not notice that something terrible had happened to them.
All of last week I was at a Theatre of the Oppressed (TO) training. I was drawn to the intensely evocative and provocative forms first created by Augusto Boal in the 1960s, designed to support marginalized groups in creating social change. Intuitively, I sensed these practices could support the rudimentary role play forms that are part and parcel of learning Nonviolent Communication (NVC) and dramatically (pun almost not intended) enhance NVC’s social justice applications.
This week became a thick, rich, powerful, challenging entanglement of the personal, the symbolic, and the political as a group of 36 of us from across many social divides and several countries grappled together with our experiences and all else that unfolded that week. By necessity of care for our agreement to protect the specifics of what happened in the room, most of the below is only about my own experiences and lens.
On July 9, at the DoubleTree Hotel in Orlando, Florida, the 187-member Democratic Party Platform Committee considered an amendment to the draft platform’s Middle East plank. Submitted by Maya Berry of the Arab American Institute and championed by Cornel West, the amendment sought for the Democratic Party to acknowledge ― finally ― Palestinian suffering and territorial concerns alongside lengthy mention of Israel’s security concerns and traumas. It sought for Democrats to recognize, officially, what every U.S. administration has in recent memory: that a military occupation exists in the West Bank, and that settlements are an impediment to Palestinian sovereignty.
It read (in part):
Palestinians deserve “an end to occupation and illegal settlements so that they may live in independence, sovereignty and dignity.”
As Berry noted during her explanation of the amendment, passing it should neither have been controversial nor contested. For not only has President Obama recognized Israel’s military occupation and Palestinian suffering, so too has Hillary Clinton. Indeed, she wrote this in 2014:
Despite Clinton’s past words and beliefs, Berry knew better than to think consideration of the amendment would be anything but contested. After all, AIPAC had already enlisted black leaders to help Clinton defeat a similar motion when the draft platform was being created. It did so via a letter written by Bakari Sellers and signed by over 60 black leaders – a letter intended to counter West’s support. (See my recent investigative essay exploring this in depth.) It was a letter which also mirrored testimony given on Clinton’s behalf by Robert Wexler, President of the S. Daniel Abraham Center for Middle East Peace, who argued Democrats should not include mention of the occupation or settlements in the party’s platform.
Indeed, before debate on the amendment even commenced, Governor Dannel Malloy – for the first time while chairing proceedings – acknowledged that things might get heated, and reminded everyone that, should there be a close vote, delegates from U.S. territories would have their votes count proportionally rather than fully.
He knew what he was talking about. After passionate words from West, Clinton delegate Mayor Stephen Benjamin of Columbia, South Carolina, who has long been associated with AIPAC, rose to oppose. He argued that adopting the amendment would overturn the hard work of the Drafting Committee, upon which West sits, despite the fact that such is the nature and purpose of amendments.
Although he said little substantively, it didn’t matter. Clinton and AIPAC had won before the debate began, and the amendment failed 95-73. The Democratic Party would deny the occupation through omission, refusing to recognize its existence and the horrific abuses it levies against Palestinians. It would also explicitly oppose Palestinian civil society’s nonviolent movement, Boycott, Divestment Sanctions (BDS), denying a recognition of Palestinian suffering while also denying them nonviolent recourse.Protests and cries immediately erupted. The anger among party progressives was clear as security stepped in.