History and Transcendence

The imposition of the “desire for mutual recognition” as the universal that ties us all together in common humanity onto the description of every social phenomena is ahistorical and undialectical—it fails to account for the concrete particulars of time and space that give exercises of social power a particular spin and story.

American Jews and Our non-Jewish Allies Should Rally in Support of the Nuclear Deal With Iran (Don’t let past traumas contribute to our inability to see the looming possibility of a more peaceful world)

We in the liberal and progressive wing of the Jewish world must loudly and publicly congratulate the negotiators who achieved a deal that will prevent Iran from developing the capacity to build nuclear weapons in the coming years, an agreement that also promises an end to economic sanctions. We are glad that adequate inspections and safeguards are part of this deal—no one would have trusted it otherwise. While Republicans rushed to denounce the deal, their response has been predictable and hollow, given their consistent policy of opposing anything that might give President Obama the appearance of having done something valuable. Their primary claim to credibility comes from identifying with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, who immediately decried the agreement as “a historical mistake.” The right wing of the Jewish world is already organizing to oppose the nuclear deal, with the aid of a handful of billionaires who will fund a steady and public barrage of opposition. That is why it is important for Jewish liberals and progressives to speak as Jews to counter the right-wing assault.

We at Tikkun hope to see the day when Iran’s oppressive and human-rights–violating government and mullah regime are non-violently overthrown by democratic means and replaced with a government that no longer limits free speech, ends its oppression of women and Baha’i or other minority religions, and offers a path to peace and reconciliation with Israel.

A Response from the River Jordan

The myth of Sisyphus may imply that the best that we humans can expect is that, when tired from endlessly rolling the rock back up the hill, we may gather together at the River Jordan and weep. I wish Peter were right, but I still doubt that it is possible to overcome the otherness of the Other, except briefly, randomly, undependably.

The Path to Defeat Racism

Racism is the demeaning of an entire group of people and refusal to see them as fully human in the way we see ourselves and those we deem to be “like” us. When we fail to see the humanity of the “other,” we ascribe to them ugly characteristics that somehow justify treating them with less honor and less generosity than we would others who are part of the groups we do see as fundamentally like us. From this place of separation we justify denying the “other” equal rights, benefits, and caring that all human beings deserve. Racism in the United States has a long history. It was foundational to U.S. expansion throughout the North American continent, allowing white people to justify to themselves genocidal policies toward Native Americans, to allow slavery, and to incorporate into our Constitution a provision that would count African slaves as three-fifths of a human being so that Southern States would have higher representation in the Congress, though racists both North and South didn’t think of them as human beings at all.