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Archive for the ‘The Economy–Wealth & Poverty’ Category



Admissions: A Peace-Oriented Film About Israel/Palestine

Mar30

by: John Viscount on March 30th, 2015 | No Comments »

A poster for the movie "Admissions."

After the devastating events of 9/11, it became tragically clear that war was once again on the horizon. As a personal response, I wrote the script for Admissions, a film about the Israeli-Palestinian crisis. My intention was to put forth a more forgiving interpretation of life’s events so people could find a pathway to peace no matter how crazy things got.

In 2011, the script was given to Academy Award nominee and peace activist, James Cromwell, and he graciously agreed to play the lead role. When the film was finished, Admissions began its festival run where it has won 26 international awards, been translated into Hebrew, Arabic, Farsi, and Spanish, and broadcast to 80 million people worldwide.

As a result of the positive response to Admissions, a number of peace organizations coalesced around the film’s message and several efforts were synergized. The result was a new mission to create Ministries and Departments of Peace in governments worldwide.

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“Let the Palestinian people go”: What younger Jews will be asking of Israel at Passover Seder this year

Mar27

by: on March 27th, 2015 | 2 Comments »

What makes this year’s Passover Seders unlike any others is that a majority of American Jews have been forced to face the fact that Palestinians today are asking Jews what Moses asked Pharaoh: “Let my people go.” The Israeli elections, and subsequent support for Prime Minister Netanyahu’s open racism and obstinate refusal to help create a Palestinian state, is not playing well with many younger Jews, and they will be challenging their elders to rethink their blind support for Israeli policies.

Increasingly, young Jews are on the Moses side, and see Netanyahu as the contemporary Pharaoh. So at the Seder more and more Jews will be asking Israel to “let the Palestinian people go.”

The easiest way ​for Israel ​to ​allow Palestinians their freedomis to create a politically and economically viable Palestinian state living in peace with Israel and based on the 1967 borders of Israel with slight border changes to allow Israel to incorporate the settlements in Gush Etzion and Jewish parts of Jerusalem that were built on conquered Arab land in 1967. The terms for that agreement were well worked out by “The Geneva Accord” developed by former Yitzhak Rabin aide (and Ehud Barak’s Minister of Justice) Yossi Beilin, and would include Jerusalem serving as the capital of both states, massive reparations to the Palestinian people to help fund such a state (paid in part by the international community), and joint police and military cooperation, supplemented by international help, to deal with the inevitable acts of terror from both Israeli and Palestinian terrorists who would want to block any such agreement.

Though Prime Minister Netanyahu has now sought to back away from his unequivocal election commitment in mid-March that he would never allow Palestinians to have a separate state, it is clear to most American Jews that he was telling the truth to his own community when he made that commitment. Only a fully unambiguous embrace of a detailed plan for ending the Occupation of the West Bank and the blockade of Gaza, and major unilateral acts on Israel’s part to begin to implement the creation of a Palestinian state, would be believed by any Palestinians at this point. And who can blame them?

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Netanyahu Removes the Mask: The Two-State Solution is Dead

Mar27

by: David Glick on March 27th, 2015 | 4 Comments »

Protesters in London holding 'Free Palestine' signs.

Israel is the home of Jewish and non-Jewish followers of three great religions. Liberal Zionism is nothing but a fiction. Above, activists from the Palestine Solidarity Campaign march in London. Credit: CreativeCommons / James_London

Prime Minister Netanyahu has finally removed the mask. “If I am elected there will be no Palestinian state,” he said in the clearest possible terms. Netanyahu, of course, was merely publicly aligning his words with what have long been his actions. Throughout his entire political career he has done everything possible to thwart the emergence of a viable and sovereign Palestinian state. Furthermore, Netanyahu’s barely coded racist remarks about Palestinians “coming out in droves to the polls” demonstrates there is no place for Palestinians in the Israeli Zionist polity.

The two state solution is officially dead and it is time to give it its proper burial. The truth is that under both Likud and Labor governments, negotiations with the Palestinians have long been nothing but a theatrical production as Israel continued to seize more Palestinian land and build more settlements even as it proceeded with the negotiations. Netanyahu is simply acknowledging what has been true of all of Israel’s leaders, whether of the right, left, or center. For the past 22 years all have been misleading the world, pretending to seek peace with the Palestinians while pursuing policies to ensure there will never be peace and never be a Palestinian state. Had the Zionist Union prevailed, it would have simply tried to restart the same moribund negotiations that have served as a cover for Israel to talk peace while destroying its prospects by building more colonies.

It is time for American Jews to face the fact that liberal Zionism is nothing but a fiction. It is time to sit shiva to mourn its passing. It is time to confront the fact that a Jewish state that maintains a brutal and illegal 48 year occupation over millions of Palestinians and privileges the rights of its own Jewish citizens above those of its Palestinian citizens is incompatible with any reasonable understanding of liberalism. This latest election was essentially a referendum on the peace process and the two state solution and the outcome was clear. Israelis have rejected both. For American Jews the choice is clear: Israel can either continue to embrace its Zionist underpinning in which case it will remain a Jewish state but not democratic state or it can abandon its Zionist underpinning and become a democratic state but no longer a Jewish state.

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Tea Party & Likud East & West: A Symbiosis of Fear & Division

Mar18

by: on March 18th, 2015 | No Comments »

Only hours after the results revealing the Likud Party’s lead in obtaining the most seats – 30 to its closest competitors’ 24 of the Zionist Union (formerly the Labor Party) — in the next Israeli Knesset (Parliament), the National Republican Senatorial Committee in the U.S. sent an email message to millions of U.S. residents congratulating Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu for what most likely will result in his re-election for a fourth term. The announcement includes a congratulatory petition for people to sign, and states in part:

“The people of Israel have spoken: Prime Minister Benjamin (Bibi) Netanyahu was just reelected to office, in a sweeping victory for those who value freedom and democracy around the world.”

Yes, this election is a “sweeping victory,” but not for those of us “who value freedom and democracy around the world.” Right-wing politicians who run and rule by fear and division stand as the only winners in this travesty: those hardliners who promote intolerance, hatred, xenophobia, and racism.

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How Our Church Freed Its Members from Predatory Lending

Mar16

by: Rev. Rodney M. Hunter on March 16th, 2015 | No Comments »

A sign for tax return loans outside of a brick building.

Predatory lending is especially insidious in low-income neighborhoods. Wesley Memorial United Methodist Church in Virginia has built a unique microloan program to counter these lenders, based on Jubilee principles. Credit: CreativeCommons / David Goehring.

I have served as pastor of Wesley Memorial United Methodist Church, Richmond, Virginia, since 1986. Wesley is a predominately Black middle-class church (approximately 130 active members) where the majority of the members commute from surrounding suburbs for worship. Our church is surrounded by private homes and three low-income public housing developments. Being centrally located in a low-income area means that we are constantly bombarded with community residents seeking rental and utility assistance, food, clothing, school supplies and medical needs, children’s needs, and support for families with a parent incarcerated. Over the years of my ministry, we have been the financial resource to aid mostly single-parent households with weekly and monthly living expenses.

To address these needs, I started a mission’s fund through the church. The mission’s fund worked well for persons who needed a small sum to get them through the week or month until the next pay check came; but, it was insufficient for persons who needed larger amounts, such as car repairs or medical emergencies. The need for more income is today’s financial crisis which is the result of a structural systematic problem created by greed, corporate power, and “the government for the wealthy,” not “the government of the people, by the people, for the people.” This system of financial injustice has diminished the resources of the middle class and put more persons in the ranks of poverty.

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Twelve Reasons Why I Will Not Be Voting for Netanyahu

Mar13

by: Harvey Chisick on March 13th, 2015 | 1 Comment »

1. Pension funds used to be limited to a 0.4% annual service charge. Under Netanyahu that figure was changed to 1.8%.

2. Water corporations. Water bills used to be collected by the Israel water company or by municipalities. Netanyahu established water corporations whose only function is to collect bills for water. The legislation was written so that the corporations could cut off water for non-payment of bills. The old legislation did not allow cutting off water to families in poverty. Currently some 10,000 families a month get their water cut off.

3. Privatizations. Netanyahu is a big believer in deregulation and privatization. State-run homes for the aged have been privatized, and TV reports have shown how the will to increase profits debases service and the people who need them. Places that, for example, force geriatric patients to shower at 4 or 5 a.m. Similar deterioration can be found in institutions for kids with special needs.

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Uncle Pentagon: Growing Up in the Shadow of the American War State

Mar11

by: Frida Berrigan on March 11th, 2015 | No Comments »

A black and white photograph of a young boy holding a woman's hand as they walk in front of the Pentagon.

Growing up as the daughter of two prominent activists, Friday Berrigan spent much of her childhood at the Pentagon. Above, the author (at about two) and Rosemary Maguire at the River Entrance to the Pentagon in 1976. Credit: Frida Berrigan.

The Pentagon loomed so large in my childhood that it could have been another member of my family. Maybe a menacing uncle who doled out put-downs and whacks to teach us lessons or a rich, dismissive great-aunt intent on propriety and good manners.

Whatever the case, our holidays were built around visits to the Pentagon’s massive grounds. That’s where we went for Easter, Christmas, even summer vacation (to commemorate the anniversaries of the atomic bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki). When we were little, my brother and sister and I would cry with terror and dread as we first glimpsed the building from the bridge across the Potomac River. To us, it pulsated with malice as if it came with an ominous, beat-driven soundtrack out of Star Wars.

I grew up in Baltimore at Jonah House, a radical Christian community of people committed to nonviolent resistance to war and nuclear culture. It was founded by my parents, Phil Berrigan and Liz McAlister. They gained international renown as pacifist peace activists not afraid to damage property or face long prison terms. The Baltimore Four, the Catonsville Nine, the Plowshares Eight, the Griffiss Seven: these were anti-Vietnam War or antinuclear actions they helped plan, took part in, and often enough went to jail for. These were also creative conspiracies meant to raise large questions about our personal responsibility for, and the role of conscience in, our world. In addition, they were explorations of how to be effective and nonviolent in opposition to the war state. These actions drew plenty of media attention and crowds of supporters, but in between we always went back to the Pentagon.

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Together We are Strong (On the Labor Horizon at This Moment)

Mar10

by: Aryeh Cohen on March 10th, 2015 | 1 Comment »

A Lyft car with the pink mustache driving in San Francisco.

Classifying workers as independent contractors leaves companies like Uber and Lyft prone to wage theft, regardless of how explicit it may appear. Is this really a "sharing economy?" Credit: CreativeCommons / SPUR.

At a dinner the other night I was talking to a good friend who works in the hi-tech industry. Knowing that I blog about economic justice issues he suggested I write about the “Uber and Lyft economy.” “The whole world is Uber and Lyft,” he said, arguing that the working conditions of Uber and Lyft drivers – wherein the company controls the working hours and working conditions of the drivers, and yet considers them to be independent contractors and therefore is not responsible for paying their social security tax, health insurance, etc. – are not exclusive to Uber and Lyft. Rather, he said, corporations in general were trying to move to a model wherein all workers were independent contractors and therefore the corporations have no obligations to them beyond basic salary.

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Farmworker Women Speaking Up on Domestic Violence

Mar9

by: Brenda Rincon on March 9th, 2015 | No Comments »

(Crossposted from New America Media)

Editor’s Note: This article was produced as part of the California Endowment Health Journalism Fellowships, a program of USC’s Annenberg School for Communication and Journalism. Names have been changed in this story for the protection of the victim.

Latino farmworkers picking tomatoes in a field.

Female farmworkers are arguably the most reluctant victims to report domestic abuse, not least because they (and their abusers) are often undocumented immigrants.

Alicia Montes was only 16 when she fell in love with Juan Alvarez in the courtyard of the trailer park where she lived with her father and siblings.

“I was abandoned as a child by my mother, and I was looking for the love of a parent,” she says in Spanish. “I thought I loved him, but now I see I did not.”

At the time, Montes could not imagine that charming young man would come to shove, choke, and kick her as he did throughout their 15-year relationship.

Montes, now 33, is one of an unknown number of victims of domestic violence in the Eastern Coachella Valley – a largely impoverished agricultural community with approximately 56,000 residents, about 20 miles east of Palm Springs -and one of the few to report her abuser to authorities.

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Print Issue Exclusive: What Would Happen If Debtors Went on Strike?

Mar6

by: Tikkun on March 6th, 2015 | No Comments »

Content from our print issue is usually only available to subscribers, but this week we’re offering free access (for a limited time only!) to one article from our current issue on Jubilee and Debt Abolition. Click here to read the article, “Power Without the King: The Debt Strike as Credible Threat.”

If you are already a subscriber, please share this article with your friends! And if you have not yet subscribed, we invite you to check out this straight-shooting article to see what you are missing.In this piece, author Paul Hampton explores what it would take to achieve Jubilee (debt abolition) through organized pressure from debtors. Considering the historical context of the first mass debt cancellations, he argues that the only way to abolish debt is to do so ourselves from outside of the confines of the market system. Without threatening banks with mass nonpayment, he claims, debtors have no leverage when it comes to negotiating with profit-motivated lenders and legislators. Read his article now to learn how activists are already working to build a targeted debt refusal movement.

This article is also linked to from Tikkun‘s website, where you can leave your online comments. If you find this article worth discussing, please do share it via Facebook, Twitter, and other social media.

We won’t be able to continue lifting up important perspectives such as this without your support. If you appreciate the chance to read hard-hitting spiritual and political analyses such as this one, please do subscribe to the magazine or join our staunch activist and supporter network, the Network of Spiritual Progressives.


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