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Archive for the ‘Politics & Society’ Category



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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War is the New Normal: Seven Deadly Reasons Why America’s Wars Persist

Feb18

by: William J. Astore on February 18th, 2015 | 3 Comments »

Crossposted from TomsDispatch.com:

It was launched immediately after the 9/11 attacks, when I was still in the military, and almost immediately became known as the Global War on Terror, or GWOT. Pentagon insiders called it “the long war,” an open-ended, perhaps unending, conflict against nations and terror networks mainly of a radical Islamist bent. It saw the revival of counterinsurgency doctrine, buried in the aftermath of defeat in Vietnam, and a reinterpretation of that disaster as well. Over the years, its chief characteristic became ever clearer: a “Groundhog Day” kind of repetition. Just when you thought it was over (Iraq, Afghanistan), just after victory (of a sort) was declared, it began again.

A U.S. army soldier aiming an assault rifle.

Inflated threats, privatization, and an embrace of the national security state have all contributed to a perpetual state of war for America. Credit: Creative Commons / The U.S. Army

Now, as we find ourselves enmeshed in Iraq War 3.0, what better way to memorialize the post-9/11 American way of war than through repetition. Back in July 2010, I wrote an article for Tom’s Dispatch on the seven reasons why America can’t stop making war. More than four years later, with the war on terror still ongoing, with the mission eternally unaccomplished, here’s a fresh take on the top seven reasons why never-ending war is the new normal in America. In this sequel, I make only one promise: no declarations of victory (and mark it on your calendars, I’m planning to be back with seven new reasons in 2019).

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Jubilee and Debt Abolition: A Bill Collector’s Perspective

Feb18

by: Jerry Ashton on February 18th, 2015 | 1 Comment »

As a “bill collector” by profession, I am the last person that many would expect to advocate for the abolition of debt. If all debts were abolished, my profession would not exist!

But my experiences as a bill collector are exactly why I have arrived at the belief that here in the U.S., if not the world, a Jubilee is in order. I believe that every personal debt of any magnitude needs to be evaluated and – meeting certain qualifications – abolished.

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Oliver vs. Cleveland: Beyond Right & Wrong

Feb17

by: Elizabeth De Sa on February 17th, 2015 | No Comments »

A graphic that reads 'Defy Labels.'

Judgmental labels are pervasive in our society. Did Bryan Oliver identify with the messages he heard and blame himself? Credit: Judy Rose Sayson / Creative Commons.

In the light of Bryan Oliver’s plea bargain and sentencing for the shooting of alleged bully, Bowe Cleveland, increasingly polarized conversations have flown back and forth about who was to blame and whether the sentence is just. I generally enjoy reading comments sections until they become too personal and vitriolic. Is the implicit purpose of commenting to convince someone of a particular opinion and is it effective to do so? Is it possible to be convinced of something just by hearing an opinion in opposition to our own or do we need to be deeply heard first? Do such debates serve as a forum for where the loudest voice wins? Some of the milder comments include telling Bryan Oliver to suck it up, that he deserves his sentence, and that there is no excuse for attempted murder. Other voices include exculpating him and holding the school and authorities culpable for neglecting their duty to protect Oliver from bullying and sexual harassment, and leaving him no choice but to seek protection and justice himself.

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Trans* People Murdered for Truth Telling

Feb16

by: on February 16th, 2015 | 1 Comment »

Abolitionists jointed together to work for the immediate end to the institution of human slavery and the cessation of racial discrimination and segregation. They faced steep opposition from many quarters including a number of Christian denominations who asserted that sacred scripture not only condoned, but more importantly, mandated the practice of slavery.

Trans* Women:

Alejandra Leos,41, fatally shot, Memphis, Tennessee.

Aniya Parker, 47, fatally shot, Los Angeles, California

Young people conducted a number of sit-in demonstrations at Southern lunch counters to end Jim Crow laws of segregated public facilities, to the abusive taunts of onlookers and crashing batons of local police. Demonstrators faced imprisonment and the imposition of permanent criminal records.

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Rising in Death

Feb16

by: Metis on February 16th, 2015 | No Comments »

One of my most favorite film dialogues is from Mr. Magorium’s Wonder Emporium:

Mr. Edward Magorium: [to Molly, about dying] When King Lear dies in Act V, do you know what Shakespeare has written? He’s written “He dies.” That’s all, nothing more. No fanfare, no metaphor, no brilliant final words. The culmination of the most influential work of dramatic literature is “He dies.” It takes Shakespeare, a genius, to come up with “He dies.” And yet every time I read those two words, I find myself overwhelmed with dysphoria. And I know it’s only natural to be sad, but not because of the words “He dies.” but because of the life we saw prior to the words.

A sign underneath a tree that reads 'Love Prevails.'

Deah’s brother, Farris has explained that whether this tragedy is classified as a hate crime or not, “so much good has come out of it” and it may help people understand that “hate can kill.” Credit: mcwooten 92 / Instagram

I have quoted this several times but never has it made more sense than now with the triple homicide in North Carolina on February 10, 2015. 23-year old Deah Barakat, his new wife 21-year old Yusor Abu-Salha and Yusor’s 19-year old sister Razan Abu-Salha were unarmed and gunned down (execution style) inside their apartment by their neighbor Craig Hicks. Police claim the murder of all three took place in response to a parking dispute with the neighbor. Hicks is a self-identified anti-theist and the dead were all Muslim.

Most of us didn’t know the victims personally. We will probably never meet their families. Yet there is more than simple empathy that makes their death so real to so many of us, and some have come to realize that it was not their death or how they died, but because of the lives we saw prior to their death that makes their loss so painful to accept. Social media has that power. Within hours their Facebook pictures, messages, evidence of active social work, and even wedding photos were all over the Internet. In less than 24 hours the world knew the lives the young man and the two young women had lead.

In their death, they had risen.

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Netanyahu Suggests Leaking U.S.-Iran Negotiations After White House “Limits” Information Sharing with Israel

Feb16

by: on February 16th, 2015 | 1 Comment »

The Obama administration has begun to limit the information it shares with Israel regarding America’s ongoing nuclear negotiations with Iran. The reason? White House officials fear that Israel’s Prime Minister, Binyamin Netanyahu, may leak details both for his own political gain and to railroad delicate talks.

Barak Ravid at Haaretz reports:

As a result of the recent tension between the United States and Israel, the White House has begun to limit the scope, quality and depth of the information it shares with Jerusalem about the progress of the talks with Iran about its nuclear program, senior Israeli officials involved in the issue have told Haaretz.

The administration apparently believes that Israel and the U.S. now have a conflict of interests regarding the Iranian issue, the source said. While U.S. President Barack Obama wants to make every effort to reach a nuclear agreement with Iran, Netanyahu is doing everything he can to block one.

One of the main reasons for the decision to limit the information the U.S. shares with Israel on the nuclear talks is a fear of leaks. The Americans fear that Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu will make use of the information given to Israel for his own political needs, and will try to undermine the talks between Iran and the big powers.

Now, in a thinly-veiled message directed at Washington, Netanyahu is suggesting exactly what Obama administration officials fear: his leaking of such information for all the world to see. Again, via Barak Ravid:


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Global Divestment Day: Undermining the System that Causes Climate Change

Feb13

by: on February 13th, 2015 | No Comments »

Calling on the United Methodist Church to Divest from Fossil Fuels.

 

Check out the many divestment actions that are taking place around the world today–Global Divestment Day.

The movement to divest from fossil fuels undermines the system that is causing climate change. The worldwide system of unrestrained free-market capitalism, dominated by global corporations and fueled by money, is based on the view that market forces will sort everything out.

Those of us who are working to get our churches, synagogues, colleges, and other institutions to divest from fossil fuels are challenging this system by saying, “Money is not the highest value.” There are good financial reasons to divest from fossil fuels, but even if there weren’t, “If it’s wrong to wreck the planet, then it’s wrong to profit from that wreckage.” There are values in life that are more important than money.

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‘Yes, we have no bananas’

Feb13

by: Matt Canfield and Phil Bereano on February 13th, 2015 | 3 Comments »

The drive by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation to introduce a genetically engineered ‘super banana’ into the Ugandan market can only be viewed as part of a powerful and coordinated effort to transform Africa’s agricultural systems to serve corporate and foreign interests.

Yes, we have no bananas

We have no bananas today.

Yes, we are very sorry to inform you

That we are entirely out of the fruit in question

The aforementioned vegetable

Bearing the cognomen ‘Banana’.

We might induce you to accept a substitute less desirable,

But that is not the policy at this internationally famous green grocery.

I should say not. No no no no no no no.

But we have no bananas today.

– as sung by Eddie Cantor, 1923

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