Tikkun Daily button

Archive for the ‘Politics & Society’ Category



Ferguson Just Happened Again

Nov8

by: on November 8th, 2014 | 2 Comments »

The fatal police shooting of a 22-year-old minority last night, this time caught on video, has once again brought angry community members into the streets to protest in dramatic fashion. This time, however, it’s not the streets of St. Louis which are burning, but those in the Arab village of Kfar Kanna near Nazareth in Israel, where Jesus turned water into wine in the Gospels. Today the streets are running red with blood and rage.

On Friday night, Israeli police entered the village to arrest someone involved in a family dispute. After the arrest, an angry family member, Khayr al-Din al-Hamdan, emerged from a house and began hitting a police van with a small metal object, which residents claim was a bar and police claim was a knife. Soon after, al-Hamdan was dead, shot several times in the back by police.

Law enforcement claimed afterward that their lives were in danger, and that they fired warning shots before shooting the Arab youth. However, CCTV video footage shows none of these claims to be true. Instead, officers broke protocol by by emerging from the van, their lives not in danger, and immediately shooting al-Hamdan, who was backing away and fleeing when he was shot in the back several times. Officers then drug al-Hamdan’s body to the police van rather than calling for medical personnel to treat the victim at the scene.

Read more...

69% of Jews voted Democratic in the 2014 midterm elections

Nov7

by: Rebecca Shimoni Stoil on November 7th, 2014 | 1 Comment »

Editor’s Note:

In this week’s elections, the majority of Jews once again voted for candidates advocating more progressive economic policies (higher taxes and more government support for the poor) – 69 percent according to one poll, 65 percent according to another.

Why did even wealthy and upper middle class Jews, whose own narrowly defined economic interests might better be served by tax cuts, lean progressive? Because the legacy of Jewish religious teachings, Jewish history, and Jewish culture all push Jews to side with the oppressed even at the expense of personal financial or other forms of sacrifice. Even the grandchildren of assimilated Jews carry with them the message of the Torah that we have a special obligation toha’ger (the stranger or “other”) and the Torah’s call to “love the stranger and remember that you were strangers in the Land of Egypt.”

I’ve acknowledged in my books Jewish Renewal: A Path to Healing and Transformation and Embracing Israel/Palestine that there is a counter-strand in the Jewish tradition – I call it “Settler Judaism.” These two strands often appear in tandem as though the editors of our holy books could not fully decide upon which of these two voices to confer legitimacy. It’s a dynamic apparent within most cultures throughout history. In the Jewish context, both strands alternate, and which gains legitimacy depends on many extrinsic factors. What’s remarkable is how strong the voice of caring for the “other” has remained given all the traumas of Jewish history and the pressures of a capitalist ethic pervading most aspects of contemporary capitalist society. It’s true that under conditions of perceived threat, many Jews find themselves unable to apply this message to the Palestinian people. But they nevertheless apply it to domestic politics in the U.S.

Read more...

This Absurd & Offensive Story Represents How U.S. Jewish Institutions Often Misrepresent U.S. Jews

Nov7

by: on November 7th, 2014 | 6 Comments »

This is a strange and deeply revealing story.

It is the story of how a major American (and global) Jewish organization attacked Teresa Heinz Kerry and the Heinz Foundation as an expression of “pro-Israel” support. It is the story of how food wrappers used by a tiny restaurant in Pittsburgh, Conflict Kitchen, became the launching pad for this attack. And it is the story of simultaneous silence and complicity when a top Israeli politician effectively embraced Apartheid in The New York Times.

The Story of Conflict Kitchen

To begin, we must tell the story of Conflict Kitchen. Established in 2010 by Carnegie Mellon University art professor Jon Rubin and Pittsburgh artist Dawn Weleski, the take-out restaurant was begun as an experimental, cultural project. Its vision: introduce local citizens to the foods of those peoples with whom the United States is in conflict. Here is how the restaurant articulates this vision:

Conflict Kitchen is a restaurant that only serves cuisine from countries with which the United States is in conflict. Each Conflict Kitchen iteration is augmented by events, performances, publications, and discussions that seek to expand the engagement the public has with the culture, politics, and issues at stake within the focus region. The restaurant rotates identities every few months in relation to current geopolitical events.

It’s a beautiful, noble project – the type of initiative which should be replicated across the United States. So what’s the problem, or faux problem? Conflict Kitchen’s newest iteration is Palestinian cuisine, which Pittsburgh Jewish organizations immediately assailed as anti-Israel and illegitimate. The argument being that “Palestine” is not technically in “conflict” with the United States, despite the fact that many Palestinians feel otherwise, since America is Israel’s principal military backer – the same military which supports Israel’s decades-old occupation of Palestinians in the West Bank and repeatedly attacks Gaza.

The “controversy” which resulted after Conflict Kitchen was labeled as anti-Israel has created two outcomes. First, Conflict Kitchen’s newest iteration, Palestinian cuisine, has become its most popular, and has garnered the tiny pop-up restaurant national attention (not to mention hundreds of new customers who never would have known about the restaurant’s existence). Second, this national attention Conflict Kitchen garnered placed it in the crosshairs of a major Jewish institution intent on cutting off its funding.

Read more...

How Should Progressives Respond to The Election?

Nov7

by: on November 7th, 2014 | 3 Comments »

Barack Obama Hope 2008 election

Credit: Creative Commons/Count to 10

This election is a call to progressives to strengthen their own identity, as separate from the identity of Barack Obama and the Democratic Party. The worst outcome of the debacle of the Obama presidency is that it will be used to discredit the Left. In fact, the only way the country can begin to move from the terrible course it is now on is if progressives develop an independent voice, free from both Obama and the Clintons. The beginning of a path toward an independent Left is to remind ourselves why we supported Obama in 2008 and to face the fact that his disappointing performance since then is his responsibility, not ours.

Read more...

James Inhofe: A Not-So Sly Fox Set to Guard the Henhouse

Nov6

by: on November 6th, 2014 | 1 Comment »

The children’s story of the fox that people set to guard the henhouse represents a cautionary tale. It warns us of the dangers of granting unfettered access and responsibility within a confined space or field to someone having a conflict of interest. By us placing the fox in charge, we give the predator free rein to literally kill and eat our chickens. What we are left with is a bloodied and depleted henhouse.

In a larger political sense, the story warns us not to allow an industry to engage in “self-regulation” without ensuring sufficient safeguards and alternate means of control, or of hiring industry insiders to monitor their industry.

Unfortunately, we the people failed to heed the warning of this children’s tale by voting in the majority to turn over control (to grant [relatively] unfettered access and responsibility) of the United States Congress, in both houses, to the Republican Party. We don’t know yet exactly the consequences of our collective action, but one thing is certain: as the “majority” Party, Republicans will serve as the chairs of all Senate committees and will continue to do so in the House of Representatives.

Read more...

Hour for Our Campaign

Nov6

by: Tikkun on November 6th, 2014 | No Comments »


As you know, the fundraising drive is heating up and we are getting closer to our $5,000 goal. The “Hour for Our Campaign” asks that you donate the equivalent of what you earn or charge an hour per month to the NSP as a bold statement that you want to build OUR world – a world based on a New Bottom Line.

The average american works more than 160 hours a month. Would you be willing to put one of those hours toward building our better world? To succeed, we need your financial support and involvement – we need each other, we cannot build this world unless we do so together. We hope you will join us.

As part of our campaign and in hopes to double our membership, we ask that when you join (or if you’ve already joined) that you ask 2 friends to join this campaign as well and ask them to ask two friends, and so on and so on! Through this effort, we will easily meet and ideally exceed our goal of doubling our membership. Won’t you join us with one hour to help build our world?

(Click Here To Donate)

And if you need another reason to support us, here is one more thing Tikkun is doing to help change the world: organized conference calls.

These can be costly and time-consuming–after Skype failed us during one call, a valiant Cat Zavis continued the international conference on her cell phone, which isn’t the cheapest method–BUT we are dedicated to our cause and letting peoples’ voices be heard, and we want to continue bringing you quality conversations that are free for you to listen to and even join.

So please consider clicking here to donate (donations are tax-deductible since we are a 501(c)(3) nonprofit).

Read more...

Economics According to the New Testament

Nov5

by: Kevin Daugherty on November 5th, 2014 | 1 Comment »

rich and poor

Credit: The Hampton Institute

Growing up, I was often exposed to the idea that capitalism and Christianity go together. Profit and wealth were not simply compatible with Christianity, but were a sign of God’s blessing or your personal piety. I remember going to the Christian bookstore once or twice and seeing large piles of books with that topic specifically in mind, usually by Dave Ramsey, who was recently on the 700 Club for a new book of his. In that interview, one of the first things mentioned is how Ramsey and Robertson agree that wealth is a good thing, and that those who see wealth as bad are wrong, even “gnostic.” I don’t think the heretics here are the “gnostics” who believe that wealth is wrong; rather, I think the heretics here are Ramsey, Robertson, and others in their camp, who seem to have forgotten what the New Testament and early church taught concerning economics.

Read more...

Empathy in the Holy Land

Nov5

by: Neil Arya on November 5th, 2014 | No Comments »

Credit: Creative Commons/Makaristos

I am writing after seeing a series of letters from fellow practicing physicians justifying acts of brutality during the most recent conflict in Gaza. What concerns me more than any particular political position is finding empathy in such short supply among those within the healing professions.

To begin with the numbers of killed and injured on each side are not as Stalin would have put it mere statistics. They DO matter, first and foremost because they represent real people, each of whom has grieving and aggrieved brothers, sisters, mothers, and children, but also because proportionality is an element of international law. According to various sources, during Operation Protective Edge Israel lost sixty-six soldiers and six civilians including one child while just over 2,100 Palestinians died in Gaza with over 75 percent as non combatants, six times as many were injured, 17,000 had housing damaged, and more than a quarter were displaced. The economic cost with damage to civilian infrastructure is estimated at 6 billion dollars, and even with the influx of international aid, it would take decades to repair. This tally appears remarkable when one of the most sophisticated (and reputed “moral”) army in the world faced off against reputedly callous, terrorist groups. Neither side appeared to hesitate prior to launching rockets or indiscriminate attacks in areas with no places for children to hide — in schools, daycares, playgrounds or beaches — spawning nightmares and lifelong fears.

Read more...

Post-Election Letter to A Friend

Nov5

by: on November 5th, 2014 | 2 Comments »

Here’s the note a friend sent me on Facebook late last night:

Arlene, now that the midterm results are in, how can the dreams/predictions that you make in your recent books The Wave and The Culture of Possibility come to fruition? How can Citizens United be overturned and democracy be given back to the people?

My dear friend, what a good question! I am sorry for the suffering it reveals, suffering that is widely shared this morning. I woke up with five possible answers jostling their ways out of my brain. I hope one or two of them may help.

1. I never make predictions, but I do write and speak about possibilities. As sad as many of the election results turned out to be, no single phenomenon (such as a seven-seat gain in a midterm election) forecloses possibility. Indeed, the very same information can be given two opposing meanings, depending on what else happens. We know that when a paradigm shifts – when an outdated worldview begins to be edged offstage by a new and more powerful understanding – those who benefit most from the old order tighten their grip. How many times in history have we seen such darkness before something new dawns?

A friend who works closely with elections told me last night that given which seats are up for re-election in 2016, it’s almost a certainty that Democrats will regain the Senate then. That’s his prediction (I don’t make them, remember?). But if two years down the road everyone who is crying this morning wakes up in a celebratory mood, will the nature of reality have shifted? Or just our ideas about it?

Read more...

In Remembrance of Matthew Shepard

Nov3

by: on November 3rd, 2014 | No Comments »

The Laramie Project

Scene from The Laramie Project, a play based on the 1998 murder of Matthew Shepard. Credit: Creative Commons/Wikipedia

Last year, when I was teaching a university Queer Studies course, I opened a unit on the topic of violence directed against members of our community. As I discussed Brandon Teena, Gwen Araujo, and Matthew Shepard, a number of students stated that while they had heard of Brandon Teena because they saw the film “Boys Don’t Cry,” they were not familiar with Gwen Araujo (even though her story was profiled in the film “A Girl Like Me”), and most surprisingly to me, they had not heard of Matthew Shepard or the remarkable play and film “The Laramie Project.”

It was difficult for me to conceal my disappointment and concern, but on reflection, I know that I cannot expect young people to know their own history when the schools continue to omit our history, our literature, our contributions, and our voices in the classrooms of our nation.

Though I had difficulty reading through to the end without breaking off with emotion a few times, I read to the students in my Queer Studies course an address I gave on Thursday, October 15, 1998 on the Amherst, Massachusetts Town Commons, three days after the death of Matthew Shepard as part of a memorial tribute called in his honor.

Read more...