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Archive for the ‘Politics & Society’ Category



Terrorism is Terrorism and Islam is Islam

Apr13

by: on April 13th, 2015 | 1 Comment »

President Obama is correct to characterize efforts against terrorist groups as a struggle against violent extremism and not as a struggle against “Islamic” terrorism. He is correct to deny groups such as Islamic State/Islamic State in the Levant/ Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (IS/ISIL/ISIS) the imprimatur of Islam, to deny them the cover of religion.

Just as words have multiple meanings, groups, individuals, acts, and texts have multiple meanings. Meaning comes not only from what an individual or a group says it is, but meaning also come from what we agree, to what we say: “yes and amen.” When IS says it is Islamic, we can agree to that or we can say no. I say no. President Obama and other world leaders also say no. ISIS is not religious, and it is not Islamic. It is a death-dealing cult of destruction. It deserves no respect. Thus, let us call it by its Arabic name of derision: Daesh. (pronounced daEEsh or dash)

Some people argue that the reason to say “Islamic” terrorism is because to deny the so-called Islamic elements of its ideology would cause misunderstanding and miscalculation in war. It would break an important rule of warfare: “Know the enemy.” I say it is possible to know the ideological goals of Daesh while demonstrating how its ideology falls short of the goals of Islam and is not religion.

Let us consider the meaning of Islam – submission to the will of God. The Koran refers to God as the Most Gracious, Most Merciful Master of the Day of Judgment. Thus, Islam is submission to a gracious and merciful God. The concept of radical means extreme, basic, the root of the thing, so radical, extreme Islam would require an extreme, basic submission to a God of grace and mercy. Too often we use the term radical as a synonym for violent. Further, in Islam, Jesus is a revered prophet whose teachings ought to be obeyed. So Muslims, like Christians, have an obligation to love one’s enemies, to turn the other cheek, and to go the extra mile. So to refer to Daesh and other terrorist groups as Islamic is to insult Islam. To even refer to Daesh as religious is a mistake.

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Strivers and Skivers? We’re All In This Together

Apr13

by: Elena Blackmore on April 13th, 2015 | 1 Comment »

Could society be rebuilt around understanding and compassion instead of shame? The effects would be revolutionary.

A black and white graphic that reads 'Shame on You' with a finger pointing at the reader.

Though it creates vicious cycles that stifle creativity, shame is piled onto those perceived as undeserving of social support programs while consumerist advertising bolsters a "not-enough" mentality. Credit: uldissprogis.com.

The binary rhetoric that currently surrounds the welfare state reflects a deep moral narrative with a crippling social impact. ‘Strivers’ and ‘skivers’ are two sides of the same coin. That coin is shame.

One side represents the deserving, and the other side the undeserving. Rachel Reeves, the UK Shadow Work & Pensions Secretary, recently said that: “We [the Labour Party] are not the party of people on benefits.” She faced some criticism for these words, but these are messages we hear daily, from government and opposition alike.

We’re here for hard-working families. We’re here for the taxpayer.

In this narrative, employment equals worth, while unemployment casts you into the world of the untouchables.

Economic policies are created around this notion of worth. Unemployment must be a choice — you’re shirking — so let’s coax you out of it. You don’t need benefits in your first week of unemployment since you should be looking for work. We’ll put sanctions on you if you’re unemployed for too long.

Shame on you for being unemployed.

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​​Mercy over Vengeance for Dzhokhar Tsarnaev

Apr13

by: on April 13th, 2015 | 4 Comments »

“I would like nothing better than to see you die, Mr. McKinney. However, this is the time to begin the healing process. To show mercy to someone who refused to show any mercy. Mr. McKinney, I am going to grant you life, as hard as it is for me to do so, because of Matthew.”

Thus, Dennis Shepard, speaking for himself and his wife Judy during a heart-wrenching and nearly unbearable emotional court-room speech to one of his son Matthew’s convicted murders, Aaron McKinney, 22, spared both McKinney and his accomplice, Russell Henderson, 21, of the death penalty. As he spoke, his voice often breaking as he wiped tears streaming down his face and falling to the floor, the sound of weeping throughout the courtroom including men and women in the jury box, Dennis Shepard called his 21-year old son his hero, and he talked of Matthew’s special gift for reaching out and helping others.

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And, STOP Calling Me a Non-Profit!

Apr11

by: Jerry Ashton on April 11th, 2015 | No Comments »

If the very compelling speakers at a recent industry workshop for the AFP (Association of Fundraising Professionals) have their way, not-for-profits would find themselves equal to — if not superior to — the “for-profits” with whom they compete for resources.

The keynote speaker and author, Lynne Twist, offers up a positive re-naming for this industry — “Social Profit.” Equally persuasive was guest speaker, Harvard grad Jennifer Craig, who offered “For Purpose” as a better description.

Let’s think about this.

Exactly why are “non-profits” considered second-tier? Why should a “corporate” business card trump one that reads “non-profit?” Why are (relatively speaking) so fewer dollars directed to social good than to commerce and industry?

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Alternatives to Violence Days

Apr10

by: Jack Gilroy and Sharon Dellinger on April 10th, 2015 | No Comments »

Join Us In Washington, DC April 22-24th – Alternatives to Violence Days

Are you over the hill with workshops, retreats and conferences and want to roll up your sleeves and do some real peace and justice action? Read on!

A truly sane individual does not continue to make the same mistakes. As a nation of individuals we need to work to end our U.S. Government’s practice of using violence rather than compassion and generosity. We know violence is a mistake. Help us correct our past by promoting the Global Marshall Plan, an alternative to violence.

Congressman Keith Ellison of Minneapolis/St. Paul, one of two Muslims in Congress, has presented House of Representatives Resolution Plan for 2015, the Global Marshall Plan. Congressional Resolutions are a good start to bringing about change. A Global Marshall Plan Act is our goal and it can be achieved.

We will be lobbying Progressive House of Representatives offices on April 22-24 to encourage people of compassion and sanity to support the Global Marshall Plan Resolution and Congressman Ellison’s HR 1464, the Inclusive Prosperity Act, a gateway bill to the Global Marshall Plan. Join us at the office of Jubilee USA, 212 East Capitol Street NE, Washington, D.C. 20003 on April 22nd at 9AM in the conference room (Jubilee is just a few blocks from the United States House of Representatives). As a lobbyist, you will have a packet which includes the Global Marshall Plan Resolution. A sheet with a few questions about how your meeting worked out will also be in the packet, along with an email address and telephone number to report on your meeting. Your feedback on the meetings will help guide us in future endeavors.

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Class Suicide and Radical Empathy

Apr10

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

Last Friday, on the first night of Passover, I was asked to share a teaching on Moses, who led our people out of slavery in Egypt. A friend suggested I share it with you:

The idea that always arises for me when I think of Moses and many other leaders of spiritual or political revolutions is Amilcar Cabral’s concept of “class suicide.”

Cabral was the revolutionary socialist leader of the national liberation movement that freed the Portuguese colony of Guinea-Bissau. “Class suicide” describes the act of dying to the privileged class of one’s birth – for instance, by taking a step with no return – and thus sacrificing one’s own privileged position and power in favor of full identification with the oppressed.

In either political or spiritual history, a large proportion of such trailblazers were born into privilege. Siddhartha was the son of chieftain; Mao Zedong was the son of a wealthy farmer; Ho Chi Minh was the son of a Confucian scholar and magistrate; Gandhi’s father was the chief minister of a princely state and Gandhi himself received law training in London. And Moses was raised as a prince of Egypt in Pharaoh’s house.

Clicking my way through a Google search for Cabral’s term, I happened on the work of Frances Ellen Watkins Harper, a freeborn African-American abolitionist and author born in 1825. Her life story is pretty remarkable. One of her books was Moses: A Story of the Nile.


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rEVOLution: NSP News and Happenings in April

Apr9

by: on April 9th, 2015 | No Comments »

Revolution: The NSP Newsletter, April 2015

What is inspiring about the NSP is its call to ground activism in moral and spiritual values. In this time where justice remains elusive, it’s easy to feel despair at the enormous task at hand.

In the spirit of Passover, I found myself reflecting upon the story of Moses’s life and the tremendous burning angst within him that he heard as a call to action. This is a call that we all hear and like Moses, do not believe we are up to the task.To read more about my interpretation of this epic story, please click here.Continue below to learn more about how you can join us in our own efforts to transform the world.

Cat Zavis, Executive Director of the NSP


 

Mark Your Calendars! We are excited to share with you that from May 19th – 21st we are hosting (with the Shift Network) a series of calls with activists, leaders, theologians, historians, authors and others who are working to create a world based on a New Bottom Line of love and justice in fields such as: Conscious Politics, Global Capitalism, Structural Injustice, the Environment, and Youth Activism. We will explore how the values of love and justice infuse their work and how we can build a movement of love and justice. The series is called:The Politics of Love and Justice: Integrating Spirituality and Activism to Build a Sustainable and Caring World. Keep your eyes open for an email in the next few weeks with information to register for the telesummit.


Happenings from Chapters
We are so excited by the outpouring of enthusiasm and support we’ve received as of late and the interest in building chapters and connections with others who share our vision. If you are interested in starting a chapter or project where you live, please click here to read our Starter Guide and then join our monthly calls – see below for details.

To join a local chapter or learn more, please contact the person listed below if you if you live in their neck of the woods. Click here to read more information from chapters throughout the country.

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The Iran Problem

Apr9

by: Theodore P. Seto on April 9th, 2015 | No Comments »

The drumbeats for war with Iran grow ever louder. On March 13, the Washington Post published an op-ed by Joshua Muravchik asserting that “War with Iran is probably our best option.” On March 26, the New York Times published a piece by John Bolton entitled “To Stop Iran’s Bomb, Bomb Iran.” Now the Washington Post editorial board opines that the recently negotiated multilateral framework is irretrievably flawed. Senator Tom Cotton, leader of the group of forty-seven Senators who tried to derail negotiations, promises: “I’m going to do everything I can to stop” the resulting deal.

What has been painfully missing from our national conversation is what a war with Iran would look like. Mr. Muravchik offers one sentence: “an air campaign targeting Iran’s nuclear infrastructure would entail less need for boots on the ground than the war Obama is waging against the Islamic State.” Mr. Bolton suggests that a single airstrike, like Israel’s attack on an Iraqi nuclear reactor in 1981 or its 2007 destruction of a Syrian reactor, would suffice.

No one from the Pentagon has responded. The answers are undoubtedly classified. I suspect, however, that the Joint Chiefs have wargamed this question extensively and do not like the results. I suspect further that their conclusions underlie Mr. Obama’s preference for a negotiated solution.

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Time to Choose: A Renewed Call for Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions

Apr9

by: Liza Behrendt and Jessie Lowell on April 9th, 2015 | 5 Comments »

A billboard in Israel of Benjamin Netanyahu.

By fighting the Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions movement, J Street has allowed itself to be get distracted from its goal of opposing the Occupation. Above, a billboard of Benjamin Netanyahu leading into the 2015 Israeli elections. Credit: CreativeCommons / Dr. Avishai Teicher.

The American Jewish community is now at a crossroads. The recent Israeli elections, following the latest war on Gaza by just six months, highlighted the deep divisions between the liberal values held by a majority of American Jews, and an increasingly right-wing Israel that systematically suppresses the rights of Palestinians on both sides of the Green Line.

The two of us found our first political homes in opposing oppressive Israeli policies with J Street, after witnessing a piece of the everyday inhumanity of the Occupation while traveling in Israel/Palestine. The more we learned, and the more we experienced, the harder it was for us to reconcile Jewish social justice values of full equality and freedom with what we saw happening to Palestinians under Israeli control.

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Remembering Deir Yassin as We Remember the Holocaust

Apr9

by: Gary Yarus on April 9th, 2015 | 2 Comments »

As Jews around world prepare to remember the Holocaust (Yom HaShoah) on April 16th, they too should pause a week earlier to remember the massacre at Deir Yassin on April 9th, exactly sixty-seven years ago. In both cases, Jews should shout, loud and clear: “Nie wieder!” Never again!

Deir Yassin was a tiny Palestinian village outside the area assigned by the UN for the future Jewish state. Being on the high ground between Jerusalem and Jaffa, it was of strategic military value. The villagers had sought to stay neutral in the fighting around it, when it was stormed early in the morning of April 9th, 1948, by 130 Jewish militiamen of the Irgun, headed by Menachem Begin, and the Stem Gang, one of whose three commanders was Yitzhak Shamir. The assault by the two “Jewish Underground” militias received artillery support from Haganah, the future Israeli army. The resulting massacre, in which more that 200 Palestinian men, women, and children were killed, is considered a turning point in Palestinian history.


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