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Archive for the ‘Politics & Society’ Category



Agenda 21 for Culture

Apr8

by: on April 8th, 2016 | 2 Comments »

Ed Carroll, a friend in Europe, sent me a query:”How come there was not one mayor in the USA that was prompted to submit an application to the Agenda 21 for culture? … The absence on the Map is quite extraordinary.”

My reply? “What a good question!”

“The map” is a graphic on the international award page for cities and regional and local governments that have adopted cultural policies “linking the values of culture (heritage, diversity, creativity and transmission of knowledge) with democratic governance, citizen participation and sustainable development.”

This time around, 83 cities and local governments submitted proposals.As you will see when you click on the map, not a single one came from the United States.

You could say this is unsurprising, since no U.S.-based local government association takes part in the sponsoring organization, the committee on culture of the world association of United Cities and Local Governments (UCLG), “the global platform of cities, organizations and networks to learn, to cooperate and to launch policies and programmes on the role of culture in sustainable development.” Its mission is “to promote culture as the fourth pillar of sustainable development through the international dissemination and the local implementation of Agenda 21 for culture.”

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The Boys Who Said NO!

Apr8

by: on April 8th, 2016 | 1 Comment »

At the Indiegogo site for The Boys Who Said NO!, a film-in-progress directed by my old friend Judith Ehrlich, you can read producer Chris Jones’ 1967 letter from his draft board in San Jose, warning him of the penalty for refusing to register with the Selective Service System. A week before, Jones had sent this note to the draft board:

My non-cooperation by many will be considered traitorous. But I assure you all that it is the only course of action which I can conscientiously take. My beliefs are founded in a deep love for America, for the democracy it can be, for the lasting peace and prosperity for all people, and for the joys of little children which force me to say: Stop the war. End the draft. I refuse to register.

With a glad heart, Christopher Jones

I anticipate the film will live up to the inspiring clip they have posted for prospective donors,and hope that many others will join the folks who’ve already contributed nearly half the target amount in exchange for perks provided by the filmmakers and key characters such as Joan Baez, Daniel Ellsberg, and David Harris. The footage I’ve seen features a wonderful conversations between Harris, founder of the The Resistance and deeply committed to nonviolence, and SDS/Weather Underground veteran Mark Rudd, who now wishes he had chosen a similar path. I saw plenty of familiar faces interviewed and kept scanning the crowd scenes for more.

You see, I worked for years for a draft counseling service in San Francisco. It started out as an activity of the associated students at San Francisco State University, then got pushed off campus during the 1968 strike, settling a block or so from Mission High in San Francisco. The people who did this work of counseling young men facing the draft had different motives: one man’s conscience had been awakened while on active duty, and he wanted to help others avoid paying the same price; others were lifelong pacifists; some opposed the war on political grounds and wanted to make it impossible to fill induction quotas. I’d started out helping my husband apply for conscientious objector status and discovered it was something I could do for others. And to a great extent, we were successful: protests were massive; it indeed became impossible to fill draft quotas in the Bay Area; widespread refusal and disruption cost the system a lot; and by 1973, the baroque structure of deferments mostly gave way to a lottery as the war wound down.

No matter how we draft counselors came to the work, we all recognized a responsibility to disrupt the class and race biases that ran the system; and we all saw something sacred in these encounters with men who had been forced to interrogate their consciences, knowing that the choices they made could affect not only their own futures but the future of this country.

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Creating a Better World

Apr7

by: Father Benjamin J. Urmston on April 7th, 2016 | 2 Comments »

As a veteran of World War II who has celebrated his 90th birthday, I’m not often moved reading current events and commentary.  But the consistent  and hopeful writings by Tikkun and Rabbi Michael Lerner are a refreshing contrast to news that ignores contexts and heartfelt analysis.

The first act of the American Revolution began in 1776. I think it remains for us to write the second act and perform it. This second act would truly bring liberty and justice for our world, for each human person, created in the image and likeness of God. This second act would be non-violent, courageous, imaginative, and comprehensive.

Tikkun advocates that the U.S. implement a form of the Marshall Plan that would bring security to Palestinians, the Jewish people, and others in our uneven world.

Instead of joining our allies in an effort to control our enemies, wouldn’t it be better to work together with all nations to promote human rights, an inclusive world economy, common security for all? Now we tend to exaggerate the faults of our enemies and minimize our own faults and the faults of our allies.

My amateur analysis concludes that we are not living in a workable, rational world.  We can’t be a human family at war with one another  and a sharing, cooperative people living in peace on the same planet. We need designs for a workable, moral world.  The present structures outside us and attitudes within us need to change.  I’m glad Rabbi Michael Lerner and many others are leading us in the right direction, cooperation over domination,  love over fear.

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​Ideas for Going Forward by Some Progressive Activists

Apr6

by: Michael Albert on April 6th, 2016 | No Comments »

Around the world powerful and diverse possibilities are in struggle. We the signers of “Some Possible Ideas for Going Forward” think one high priority for progress is activists developing, discussing, and settling on priorities around which to organize multi issue activism in coming months and years. We hope this document can help inspire more conversations within groups and movements that, over time, come to a synthesis. We do this in the spirit of self organization – and as a rejection of preformed inflexible programs and agendas imposed on activists from above. We believe only program that is fully understood and owned by grassroots participants can win lasting change.

To try to help, we have assembled some familiar programmatic ideas rooted in diverse movements and projects. We signers do not each individually necessarily support every single programmatic suggestion given here. Indeed, perhaps none of us supports every single suggestion much less all the specific wording. Instead, we all support having a widespread discussion of these worthy ideas and of other ideas that emerge from the process, to arrive at widely supported program for left activists.
Some Possible Economic Programmatic Ideas

A left agenda might, for example, pursue four central economic goals – better quality of daily economic experience, more fairness, better production priorities, and increased mutual compassion.

For example, new economic program might seek: (1) a law forbidding capital export and relocation without community and worker agreement, and (2) a law delineating punishments for employers who impede nationally mandated economic reforms. Likewise, it could seek controls on work day and work week length – for example seeking 30 hours of work for 40 hours pay. It might demand that the maximum penalty for owners violating the spirit and intent of such laws would be nationalization of their businesses under the management of currently employed workers.

Similarly, new economic program might propose: (1) reducing inequality, (2) reorienting productive potentials to meet social needs, and (3) enlarging economic democracy.

For example, new economic program might propose sharply progressive property, asset, and income taxes, with no loopholes, as well as a dramatically-increased minimum wage, say $20 an hour, and perhaps a guaranteed income for all, coupled with a new profit tax that would be proportional to inequities in each firm’s pay scale. The more oppressive the pay scale, the higher the profit tax.

Due to a new minimum wage law, minimum pay would rise dramatically. Due to a new pay equity tax, industries with a more equitable pay scale would have more after-tax resources. Not only could more equitably structured firms use these extra funds to further improve work conditions and increase their social contribution, they could generally out-compete less socially responsible firms. New property and asset taxes would dramatically diminish differences in wealth.

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Fiddler on My Mind

Apr5

by: Roslyn Bernstein on April 5th, 2016 | 1 Comment »

Theatre Marquis. Photo: Shael Shapiro

Fiddler on the Roof has been on my mind these days, the plaintive strains of the violinist leading me uptown to the New York’s Yiddish Theater: From the Bowery to Broadway exhibit at the Museum of the City of New York (MCNY), then midtown to experience the current revival of the musical on Broadway starring Danny Burstein, and finally back to the MCNY on March 28th to hear a lively panel on Reimagining Fiddler.

The lights dimmed and the actors who play Tevye’s rebellious daughters, Chava, Tzeitel and Hudel, appeared on stage, belting out Matchmaker, as the warm-up act for a panel moderated by the exhibit’s guest curator, Edna Nahshon, a Professor of Jewish Theater and Drama at The Jewish Theological Seminary. The lyrics were perfect, Sheldon Harnick at his best, with clever rhymes—”I’ll bring the veil, you bring the groom, slender and pale”—and puns at the end. The audience smiled when the sisters delivered the line: “Playing with matches a girl can get hurt.”

My memory flashed back to 1965 when I saw the original musical, one year after it opened in 1964, with Zero Mostel commanding the stage. Fiddler broke records and ran for over 3,000 performances.

The big question of the evening: Why was Fiddler such a sensation?

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ISIS is America’s Bastard Child

Apr5

by: Bart Walters on April 5th, 2016 | 4 Comments »

On good authority I pass along to you a judgement of the people of the Middle East: America raped the Arab world, and the offspring is ISIS.

Barack Obama saw it coming.

Listen to his prescient 2002 speech, delivered months before the U.S. invasion of Iraq, when he was an Illinois state legislator:

“I suffer no illusions about Saddam Hussein.  He is a brutal man.  A ruthless man. …

“But I also know that Saddam poses no imminent and direct threat to the United States or to his neighbors. …

“I know that an invasion of Iraq without a clear rationale and without strong international support will only fan the flames of the Middle East, and encourage the worst, rather than the best, impulses of the Arab world, and strengthen the recruitment arm of al-Qaeda.”

I invite you to imagine yourself a small Iraqi child—say a boy of five or six years—as U.S. war planes first roar overhead, U.S. tanks clank and rumble through your village, and American troops hurry through on their way to Baghdad.

Now, fourteen years later, it is 2016, and you (as that former Iraqi child) have grown into young manhood while watching Americans kill and maim literally hundreds of thousands of your civilian countrymen—perhaps one or both of your parents, perhaps one or more of your sisters and brothers, perhaps members of your extended family tribe, almost certainly friends and other villagers you had known.

That scenario serves as one answer to a question you might have heard, and that I heard, again, just yesterday from an acquaintance who was reacting to last month’s bombing in Brussels:

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“Feel the Bern”: Reclaiming Democracy’s Future

Apr5

by: Gennady Shkliarevsky on April 5th, 2016 | 2 Comments »

Editor’s Note: Tikkun does not endorse candidates or political parties. We are actively seeking articles in support of any candidate for the US presidency and from any political party.

Several months still separate us from the November elections but the atmosphere in the country is getting increasingly tense. Americans are angry and they direct their anger against the political establishment. They blame both the Democratic and Republican elites for the continued malaise and political paralysis. While the growing number of American voters believes that the country needs new ideas, there is little new in what either the Democratic or the Republican establishment candidates propose. Neither Ted Cruz nor John Kasichventures in their imagination far beyond the defunct policies of cutting taxes. The agenda of Hillary Clinton is essentially a rehashed and scaled-down version of the New Deal. With their clear anti-establishment message Sanders and Trump, as different as they may be, are the two candidates who stand to benefit most from the current discontent.

Although the elites in both parties are deeply troubled by voters’ prevailing attitudes, they are reluctant to endorse the candidates who are riding at the crest of this discontent. They have displayed considerable uneasiness about nominating candidates who oppose business-as-usual. The Republican brass has gone out of its way in trying to prevent Donald Trump from becoming a nominee. The leaders of the Democratic Party have repeatedly sent strong messages to its rank-and-file that their preference lies with Hillary Clinton, and not Sanders.

After numerous attempts to derail Trump’s campaign, the Republican leadership is gradually warming up to the idea of nominating Trump as their party candidate form. In his turn, Trump has also made an effort to make peace with the party hierarchy. Now it seems increasingly likely that Trump will be the party’s nominee in November. Reince Priebus, Chairman of the Republican National Committee, has stated in a recent interview that Trump is definitely one of the three possible candidates for nomination in July.

On the Democratic side, the party establishment refuses to entertain any idea of nominating anyone other than Hillary Clinton. Despite the fact that Sanders has scored some remarkable victories over Clinton and has demonstrated his staying power and the ability to excite voters, Clinton remains a clear favorite of the party establishment and the pro-Democratic media. The possibility that Bernie Sanders will be the party nominee remains extremely distant, if at all real, even though many polls suggest that his chances of beating Trump are better than those of Hillary Clinton.

Thus the likely candidates in November will be Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton. In this showdown, the general mood among the country voters will favor Trump and his anti-establishment rhetoric, while Hillary Clinton will emerge as an inside-the-Beltway candidate with deep connections to the establishment. Nobody will venture at this point to predict the winner in this face-off, but the dominant attitude among the voters will not be in Clinton’s favor. And it is unlikely that she will find the way to change this situation.

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The UC Regents and Anti-Semitism: A Q&A with Judith Butler

Apr4

by: Ben Rowen on April 4th, 2016 | 4 Comments »

There has been a lot of discussion, and furor, about a recent statement approved by the University of California Board of Regents.

The original statement of “principles against intolerance” contained language both condemning anti-Semitism and anti-Zionism in the UC system.

“Anti-Semitism, anti-Zionism and other forms of discrimination have no place at the University of California,” the proposed statement read.

The language asserting anti-Zionism as an instance of intolerance and discrimination became the center of debate about free speech and the suppression of political viewpoints. Jewish Voice for Peace, California Scholars for Academic Freedom, and activist Judith Butler, among many others, all voiced opposition to the clause.

The UC Board of Regents eventually approved a revised draft of the statement. The language about anti-Zionism was changed to: “Anti-Semitism, anti-Semitic forms of anti-Zionism and other forms of discrimination have no place at the University of California.”

Tikkun reached out to Butler to discuss the revised statement, free speech, and anti-Semitism on UC campuses. Below is our Q & A.

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Women who have Abortions should be Punished

Apr4

by: on April 4th, 2016 | 1 Comment »

IF.

IF abortion is murder, then women who choose abortions are murderers.

IF abortion is murder, it surely should be against the law.

People who break the law should be punished.

IF.

If I ask a third party to kill my wife, and pay them to do so, surely I have broken the law and should be punished.

If I take my wife to a place where she is sure to be killed, I have broken the law and should be punished.

Even if what I have done is not against the law, it should be. And I should be punished.

If.

If, that is, there really is no difference between my wife and a fetus. If morally they are exactly the same. If the fetus is morally just like all the people who, unlike the fetus, do not live in someone else’s body. No moral difference. The unborn the same as the born.

Then abortion is murder.

I do not understand why the pro-life folks can’t follow this simple argument; why they seek to avoid this compelling logic.

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After the Delegation

Mar31

by: Talia Bornstein on March 31st, 2016 | 1 Comment »

Al-Quds University (Source: Keleti, Transferred from he.wikipedia)

The first time I went to Israel, I was two. Since then I have returned for various different reasons. But it wasn’t until my gap year that I realized that Israel, a place I had the privilege of traveling to over six times, was at the center of a conflict I knew almost nothing about. On my gap year I took classes on the conflict, traveled to the West Bank, visited Israeli settlements, and learned about the complexities within Israeli society regarding ethnicity and religion. I returned from my year in Israel with the intention and determination to advocate for a two state solution, voice the reality of Palestinians’ lack of human rights, and fight for Israel’s tarnishing image.

But once I settled back into my apartment in New York, I realized that the in-depth global experience I had in Israel was not quite as well-rounded as I thought it was. I left Israel without ever having had an intentional conversation with a Palestinian. How was it possible that I lived in West Jerusalem for a year yet never even stepped foot in Palestinian East Jerusalem?

I was eager to begin my freshman year at Brandeis, where the conversation on Israel and Palestine dominates campus politics. But once I got here, I was disappointed to learn that I would not have the opportunity to engage with Palestinians’ narratives as I would have had several years earlier, before the suspension of Brandeis’ partnership with Palestinian Al-Quds University. Without this partnership, Palestinian narratives are scarcely represented at Brandeis.

In 2013, President Lawrence suspended Brandeis’ ties with Al-Quds in response to an Islamic-Jihad affiliated political rally held on the Al-Quds campus by a small group of students. Despite the Al-Quds administration’s condemnation of the protest, Brandeis suspended its ties indefinitely. Though Brandeis’ administration is unwilling to restore contact with Al-Quds, students from each school have maintained this valuable relationship for two and half years. The Brandeis-Al-Quds Student Dialogue Initiative (B-AQU SDI) is comprised of students from each university, working to take steps toward renewing our universities’ relations. 

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