Tikkun Daily button
Dave Belden
Dave Belden

Tikkun’s 25th Anniversary Bash


by: on February 20th, 2011 | 4 Comments »

The Spring 2011 issue of Tikkun is in the mail now to subscribers. Here’s the top half of the back cover:

Michael Lerner always puts on terrific events and this will be no exception. We will hear from each of the honorees above, as well as from Michael and Peter Gabel, who has guided Tikkun with Michael from the start. There will be energizing and spiritually deep music in between speeches. So if you can hop a plane, car or bike and come along, don’t miss it! Click here to register.

Chapter & Verse / Poems Of Jewish Identity


by: on February 17th, 2011 | Comments Off

Two things just brought this new collection to my attention. Our friend the poet Adam David Miller came by with a review of it, and two of the poets, Rose Black and Melanie Meyer, let us know that the first San Francisco reading from it will take place next Tuesday evening, February 22nd, at Temple Emanu-El, San Francisco (details here).

“Five Bay Area writers, Rose Black, Margaret Kaufman, Melanie Maier, Susan Terris, and Sim Warkov, all published poets, invited five additional published poets, Dan Bellm, Chana Bloch, Rafaella Del Bourgo, Jackie Kudler, and Murray Silverstein, to contribute to this collection of poems of Jewish identity.”

Chapter & Verse: Some notes and observations

By Adam David Miller

When Rose Black handed me a promo sheet for Chapter&Verse I read “Five Bay Area…poets, invited five additional…poets…to contribute to this collection…,” I wondered what manner of work was this. With the thin-skinned, fragile, ego-driven, fractious nature of many poets I wondered how they even got the book together.

I need not have wondered. From Ethan Kaplan’s cover photograph of “Stained-glass window from Congregation Emanu-El, San Francisco…”; to Tania Baban-Natal’s tasteful cover and book design (in this case “You can tell a book…) with two apt blurbs; to Jane Miller’s (“a well known American poet) thoughtful and inviting Introduction, Chapter &Verse is an anthology readers will immerse themselves in, learn from, cry and laugh with the poets who do cry and laugh at themselves. In plain speech, this is one helluva fine collection.


Israel has nothing to fear from the Tahrir Square revolution


by: on February 16th, 2011 | 5 Comments »

Don’t miss this exclusive analysis from Stephen Zunes, professor of politics and chair of Middle Eastern studies at the University of San Francisco and a long time contributing editor of Tikkun, just posted here on our main website.

Mubarak’s Ouster: Good for Egypt, Good for Israel

By Stephen Zunes

The inspiring triumph of the Egyptian people in the nonviolent overthrow of the hated dictator Hosni Mubarak is a real triumph of the human spirit. While there will likely be continued struggle in order to insure that the military junta will allow for a real democratic transition, the mobilization of Egypt’s civil society and the empowerment of millions of workers, students, intellectuals and others in the cause of freedom will be difficult to contain.

It is disappointing, then, that what should be a near-universal celebration comparable to what greeted the nonviolent overthrows of authoritarian regimes in the Philippines, Czechoslovakia, Chile, Serbia and elsewhere has been tempered by the right-wing Netanyahu government in Israel and its supporters in the United States who oppose Egypt’s democratic revolution.

Israel’s standing among democrats in Egypt and elsewhere in the Arab world has no doubt suffered as a result of the Israeli government’s outspoken support for Mubarak and opposition to the pro-democracy struggle during the Egyptian dictatorship’s final weeks. Indeed, the very assumption that the continued suffering of 82 million Egyptians under a corrupt and brutal authoritarian regime was somehow less important than the possible negative ramifications of democratic change for five and half million Israeli Jews smacks of racism.

In reality, Israel has nothing to worry about….

The rest is here.


Gandhi and Tahrir Square


by: on February 14th, 2011 | 15 Comments »

Like every other lover of democracy in the world I have been thrilled and at times moved to tears by the courage and success of the Tunisian and Egyptian democracy movements. And like many others I have wondered: where did this extraordinary commitment to nonviolence and creative organizing come from? One commentator wrote that they thought the most critical moment followed Mubarak’s speech on February 10, when he was expected to resign and didn’t, and the Tahrir Square protesters restrained themselves from reacting with violence. If you look at this map of Tahrir Square, above, on the BBC site where it is interactive, you get an idea of how that degree of self control was possible: these people were organized!

But this piece, “A Tunisian-Egyptian Link That Shook Arab History”, from yesterday’s New York Times has done more to explain the movement to me than anything else I have read. The article explains the deliberate way leading organizers like Ahmed Maher, a 30-year-old civil engineer, went about schooling themselves in nonviolent organizing. They were particularly taken with the example of Otpor, the Serbian youth movement that helped overthrow Milosevic, and they were greatly assisted by an organization in Qatar (where it’s worth recalling that Al Jazeera was also founded) called the Academy of Change. Both Otpor and the Academy of Change draw deeply on the work of American political theorist Gene Sharp. According to Wikipedia:

Gene Sharp (born 21 January 1928) is known for his extensive writings on nonviolent struggle: he has been called both the “Machiavelli of nonviolence” and the “Clausewitz of nonviolent warfare.”


Invitation to Join In Some Political Theater on the Subway


by: on February 7th, 2011 | 2 Comments »

Harriet Fraad forwarded us this beautiful email from someone she knows in New York this week:

I experimented yesterday with a Steve Colbert-like agitprop stunt, the purpose of which was to mock the absurdity of Bloomberg’s and Cuomo’s refusal to tax the rich and their preference for budget cuts that penalize working people and ordinary citizens in the city and the state. I wrote up a text, which I attach, which I then performed three times in subway cars. The results were quite encouraging. People laughed, and my girlfriend, who was with me at the time, was impressed by people’s receptiveness, their attention, and the fact that they accepted and carefully read the text of the speech, which I distributed after I was done. The text is a bit long, so my performance usually omitted the middle paragraphs. In any case, it can be changed in the future and I will probably make some further changes myself. In any case, it occurred to me that if fifty or a hundred activists were to do this on the same day throughout the subway system, it might receive some attention and cause a bit of a stir. What do people think?

Good morning my friends. Don’t worry, I’m not gonna ask you for money. I do, for the time being, have a job and an income. I do, however, want to give you a message from our mayor and our governor. You see, our city and state are in crisis. The reason for this is that you, I and all other working people in this great city and state of ours are too rich and greedy. The rich, on the other hand, are suffering the poor things. This is why all of us, working people, have to sacrifice for our suffering brothers and sisters in Wall Street. This is why our governor and mayor, bless their soul, want to cut wasteful spending on education, on health care and other social services. These cuts are inevitable. The only alternative would be to tax the bonuses of our suffering brethren in Wall Street. We can’t do that to them. They deserve their bonuses 100% and that’s why our mayor and governor rightly refuse to raise their taxes. Besides, our brethren in Wall Street are such honest and good people, we can’t possibly deny them their hard earned millions. After all, they are the reason we have such a strong economy. I ask you, where would we be without them?


Jews Supporting the Arab Uprisings


by: on February 4th, 2011 | 8 Comments »

An article by Daniel Ming and Aaron Glantz in yesterday’s (San Francisco) Bay Citizen, also in the New York Times Bay Area edition:

A Jewish Group Makes Waves, Locally and Abroad

Some Bay Area activists hope a new Egyptian government will lead to an end of Israel’s occupation of the Palestinian territories

Hundreds of people, mostly Arab-Americans, are expected to gather Saturday in downtown San Francisco to support anti-government protests in Egypt, and a large contingent of Jews representing a Bay Area peace-advocacy group will join them, one of its leaders says.

“We are deeply inspired by their push for democracy and freedom,” said Cecilie Surasky, deputy director of Jewish Voice for Peace, based in Oakland….

The unrest in Egypt is merely the latest issue to pit a number of Bay Area activists against prominent Jewish organizations, as well as against some Israelis who have come to see the Bay Area as a locus for Jewish opposition to Israel’s government….

The divisions have heightened tensions among Bay Area Jews. During one altercation last year, a pro-Israel activist attacked two representatives of Jewish Voice for Peace with pepper spray. Last March, Rabbi Michael Lerner, the editor of Tikkun, a bimonthly Jewish magazine based in Berkeley, received death threats, and his home was plastered with signs accusing him of “Islamo-Fascism,” after he announced that he planned to give an award to a United Nations official who led an investigation into Israel’s 2008 invasion of Gaza.

And if you are in the Bay Area come to our 25th Anniversary celebration when we will give six people including that official, Judge Richard Goldstone, the Tikkun Award! We’re happy that they picked up on this as well:


Values at Davos? Jim Wallis’ Moral Economics


by: on January 28th, 2011 | 3 Comments »

Jim Wallis at Davos last year

Jim Wallis, at Sojourners, walks a tightrope that gains him many critics. He is probably the best known “left” evangelical Christian in America, and yet he eschews the term “left.” He prefers to use the word “moral” and wants to see a moral politics, a moral federal budget, moral business, etc. And when he says “moral” he means primarily following the Bible’s injunctions to help the poor, the prisoner, the sick. What’s not to like about that? Progressive critics say he pulls his punches: e.g., on the healthcare debate he joined those who said we need healthcare for all but stopped short of arguing for any particular program that would actually make it happen. As I wrote at the time, the result was less than prophetic.

Wallis clearly makes a great effort not to lose his evangelical base. He can’t bring along the hardcore haters and punishers, but there is a vast middle ground of evangelicals whom he and other leaders like Richard Cizik are leading towards empathy for the poor and oppressed, and towards environmental sanity. I assume he goes at the pace he feels enough of them can keep. He talks against abortion but argues that it should be legal and safe. He doesn’t rock the evangelical boat by reneging on key doctrines (particularly the “substitutionary atonement“) even if many other Christians don’t think they are key doctrines. Though I understand the frustrations with him that have been expressed to me, I am happy that he is doing his thing. As Theo Hobson wrote in the piece I linked to yesterday, one of the chief points of hope in America today is the gradual shift of younger evangelicals towards a politics of caring.

On this blog you may have noticed a persistent tension between those who argue primarily for empathy and nonviolence, and for whom conflict is often a bad word, and those who are much more oppositional and want to put the conflict back into nonviolent conflict. This is a major unresolved tension in the spiritual progressive world. Most people seem to agree that Gandhi and King successfully combined the two, but following their example seems hard. Jim Wallis specializes in being in conversation with people who are much more middle of the road than he is. I guess you would say he veers to the empathy side. That’s all by way of introducing his latest blog post from Davos, where he is trying to turn the real rulers of our world on to moral values. Tell us what you make of it. Some quotes from his post, which can be read in full here:


The Religious Crisis of American Liberalism


by: on January 27th, 2011 | 5 Comments »

Theo Hobson

Here’s an excellent analysis from across the Atlantic. British theologian Theo Hobson understands a great deal more about why Obama won the election and why there is no continuing populist movement on the left than anyone I have read in the pages of the Nation, Mother Jones or the Progressive, let alone the Atlantic, New Yorker etc. (not that I read them exhaustively at all). You’d most likely have to read Tikkun or possibly the Christian Century to get a piece as good as this. It’s a pleasure to see it from a different country’s perspective. Some key quotes:

During his campaign in 2008, Barack Obama seemed to be doing more than getting himself elected president. He seemed to be launching a revival of liberal idealism, shifting the United States’s political landscape in the process. This impression hardly lasted beyond his inauguration as president on 20 January, 2009. Never has a national mood of progressive optimism evaporated so fast.

That much we know. But what was unique about Obama’s campaign?

Barack Obama’s vision of hope had religious echoes. He boldly presented himself as the heir of the civil-rights movement, which, thanks to Martin Luther King and others, was an expression of liberal Christianity as well as progressive politics. King himself was inspired by the “social gospel” movement that influenced Roosevelt’s New Deal….

Obama knowingly drew on this tradition, with his impassioned talk of hope. This went much further than the “hope” rhetoric of other politicians; it often referred to the biblical concept of faith – implicitly, of course….


The Campaign for Al-Arakib and Justice for Bedouins in Israel


by: on January 26th, 2011 | Comments Off

Our guest post Where Are The Jewish Greens? by Devorah Brous has been widely read in Israel as well as the US. The organization she is with, Bedouin-Jewish Justice, has just sent us this update on the campaign that Tikkun and the NSP have joined. Please sign the petitions to Netanyahu and the Jewish National Fund below.

18 Israeli and American Jewish groups:

  • Strongly oppose Beer Sheva District Court’s failure to grant a permanent injunction preventing Israeli Government and Jewish National Fund (JNF) bulldozers from resuming work to plant a JNF forest over Negev Bedouin village of Al-Arakib
  • Welcome the court’s recommendation that the Israel Land Administration (ILA) and JNF refrain from planting trees in Al-Arakib and irreversibly altering the status of the land
  • Strongly object to Israeli Government and JNF for 9th & 10th Demolitions of Al-Arakib and to ILA announcement yesterday of their intent to ignore Israeli court recommendations in their rush to eliminate the village of Al-Arakib forever
  • Call on all who care about Israel to join the over 7,500 who have already signed our two petitions of protest to Prime Minister Netanyahu, Foreign Minister Lieberman, Leaders of the Israel Land Administration and JNF Leaders in Israel and the US

January 25, 2011 – The Beer Sheva District Court, which issued a temporary injunction a week ago stopping all further work by the Israel Land Administration (ILA) and the Jewish National Fund (JNF) in the Negev Bedouin village of Al-Arakib, decided on Sunday, Jan. 23, not to extend the injunction, permitting the village to be permanently destroyed and replaced by a JNF forest. Judge Nechama Netzer “recommended” to the JNF not to “rush” the afforestation of Al-Arakib, but failed to order the Israeli Government, the ILA and the JNF to stop their efforts to wipe out the village.


Politics is not at bottom about the struggle for power


by: on January 25th, 2011 | 6 Comments »

At one time in my life I taught sociology to both young undergrads and older social work students. I had a great time with the older students, some of whom had been working for many years already and really wanted to understand and change the world. But the younger, middle class students, many of them from Catholic high schools and homes where obedience had been taught more than curiosity and argument, needed a showman, an entertainer, to wake them up, and someone brilliant with ideas to give them something deep to think about once awake. That person did exist in our department: Bruce Luske. He was way to the left of most others at the college, but was able to put radical ideas across in highly popular classes. When I was contemplating crossing the continent to work at Tikkun he gave me good advice and encouragement, because he had studied with Michael Lerner years before. It’s a great pleasure that he has emailed me with his recent piece on OpEd News, drawing on Michael’s ideas:

A Note on Politics and Spirituality

by Bruce Luske

My remarks here as we engage a new year are inspired by pieces debating spirituality in the military and by the work of Rabbi Michael Lerner and others; and are meant to broaden the discussion to society as a whole. I begin with the premise that we humans are born with an innate need for positive recognition and connection to our fellow humans every bit as fundamental to human life as the need for food and water. In fact, as psychologists who study early childhood teach us, we will not become fully human unless this need is met. We are born needing to care and be cared for. I further believe, with all the major world religions as well as aboriginal spiritual traditions, that this innate need for recognition and connection to others has an intrinsic spiritual wellspring to which we must return.