G20 in Hamburg


Berlin Bulletin No. 130, July 10, 2017

Victor Grossman, Berlin

The concert hall in Hamburg’s wonderful new Elbphilharmonie edifice resounded with Schiller’s thrilling Ode to Joy and world brotherhood in Beethoven’s 9th Symphony. Nineteen heads of state were there for a G-20 conference; only Erdogan from Turkey was missing; he may not appreciate Beethoven or was too busy worrying about the huge peaceful march to Istanbul, a first major response to his repression. All other leaders and their spouses heard the music; even Donald Trump was seen for a TV moment with half-closed eyes, in euphoric enjoyment of Beethoven, we assume. Or why else?

Protecting Egypt and its Coptic Christians by James Zogby

Editor’s note: Tikkun presents this note from the Arab American Institute in part because it highlights the need of people of the world to stand up in defense of Christians in the Middle East who are often under attack from some (not all) Islamic forces in the region. The precarious situation of Christians, particularly in Egypt, but also in other Middle Eastern states, mirrors that of Jews in those same states in the 1900s until they fled to safety in Israel in 1948 and thereafter.  Sadly, these Christians have no place to which they can safely flee, and sadly the establishment of the State of Israel, providing sanctuary for Jewish refugees, came into existence under conditions which produced 800,000 Palestinian refugees, many of whom continue to live in refugee camps around the Middle East. by James J. Zogby  Chair, The Arab American Institute
In many ways, the future of Egypt will be shaped by how the government and the majority of Egyptians treat the country’s minority Christian community. Will Egypt be an open, tolerant, and creative society?

Is Trump Instigating Sectarian Violence Between Shia and Sunni Muslims?

Editor’s Note:  Shia and Sunni forces have engaged in sectarian violence long before there was a president Trump. But as the authors suggest, his attempt to put together a Sunni alliance against Iran will likely contribute to an escalation of the struggle between Sunni and Shia, with unpredictable consequences.  

MAY 31ST, 2017 6:18 AM
How Trump Instigates Sectarian Warfare

By Dr. Abdul Cader Asmal and Craig Considine

In recent years, President Donald Trump has questioned the legitimacy of Islam as a world religion. His body of work in this regard is impressive. He posed the deliberately ambiguous question, “Why does Islam hate us?”, proposed the creation of a registry for Muslims in the U.S., issued a travel ban on seven Muslim-majority countries for those returning  home, and framed the malignancy of “radical Islamic terrorism” as a hallmark of 1.5 billion Muslims worldwide.

Down the Memory Hole: Living in Trump’s United States of Amnesia

Editor’s Note: Glad to share with you another article from our media ally TomDisptacht.com with an introduction from Tom. I can’t really say “enjoy” because the message is so disturbing!– Rabbi Michael Lerner
In the first paragraphs of George Orwell’s famed novel 1984, Winston Smith slips through the doors of his apartment building, “Victory Mansions,” to escape a “vile wind.”  Hate week — a concept that should seem eerily familiar in Donald Trump’s America — was soon to arrive.  “The hallway,” writes Orwell, “smelt of boiled cabbage and old rag mats.”  Smith then plods up to his seventh-floor flat, since the building’s elevator rarely works even when there’s electricity, which is seldom the case.  And, of course, he immediately sees the most famous poster in the history of the novel, the one in which BIG BROTHER IS WATCHING YOU. (“It was one of those pictures… so contrived that the eyes follow you about when you move.”)

Now, imagine us inside our own “Victory Mansions,” an increasingly ramshackle place called the United States of America in which, like Smith, we simply can’t escape our leader.  Call him perhaps “Big Muddler.”  He may not be looking directly at YOU, but he is, thanks to a never-ending media frenzy, remarkably omnipresent.  Go ahead and try, but you know that whatever you do, however you live your life, these days you just can’t escape him.  And if Donald Trump’s America isn’t already starting to feel a little like that ill-named, run-down building in a future, poverty-stricken London, then tell me what it’s like. Can’t you feel how rickety the last superpower on planet Earth is becoming as our very own Big-Muddler-in-Chief praises himself eternally for his “achievements”?  Here’s just a small sample from a recent graduation address President Trump gave at the Coast Guard Academy.

Where Do We Stand Now? Two LGBTQ Perspectives

Speaking OUT: Queer Youth in Focus
by Rachelle Lee Smith, Graeme Taylor, and Candace Gingrich
PM Press, 2014

Against Equality: Queer Revolution, Not Mere Inclusion
Edited by Ryan Conrad
AK Press, 2014

As state after state approves gay marriage, it can be tempting to jump to the conclusion that the most pressing issues for LGBTQ people have been “solved.” Taken together, these two books offer an illuminating reality check. Speaking OUT, a photo essay that pairs photographic portraits with handwritten reflections from youth who identify as queer, offers a glimpse of the wide range of experiences that comprise life for queer youth today. Some teens express a sense of deep joy about the loving support they received from their entire community upon coming out (“the response was 100 percent supportive—100 percent!” exclaims contributor Graeme Taylor), attesting to the meaningful shifts that have taken place culturally within the last half-century. But others describe experiences of physical assault, rejection, and discrimination, attesting to the continued lived realities of homophobia and transphobia in the current era. Ryan Conrad’s anthology, meanwhile, offers a hard-edged political analysis of the many forms of oppression that mainstream efforts such as the marriage equality campaign will never solve.