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Jaclyn Tobia




Stand Up and Be Heard This Weekend and Beyond

Jun28

by: Cat Zavis on June 28th, 2018 | No Comments »

Just when you thought things couldn’t get worse, the Supreme Court upholds Trump’s Muslim ban, and guts public sector unions; and now, Supreme Court Justice Kennedy has announced  his retirement, giving Trump the opportunity to appoint a more extreme rightist to the Court. These are dark times indeed.

Fascist ideas and racist practices are on the rise in our country and as soon as Trump appoints a new Supreme Court justice, many more of our basic freedoms will unravel and be eroded in the name of “limited government” and “judicial restraint.”

So, we must challenge these developments in every non-violent way we can. We must stand up. We must be counted. In the short-term, we must show up at protests and rallies. For example, there are rallies planned around the country this coming Saturday. We at the Network of Spiritual Progressives will be joining with many others to insist that families belong together and to oppose the inhumane ways that the Trump Administration is dealing with people seeking refuge from oppression elsewhere. (Click here to find events near you).

Photo from recent immigration rally in Oakland, CA.

We have created flyers and posters you can print and bring to the events. (Click here for the flyer and here for the posters.) Please send us photos (to chris@tikkun.org) so we can share them with others. Knowing there are others joining our efforts uplifts us all. In addition, we need to help get out the vote in November and in many places in the U.S. it would be very valuable to have ordinary citizens going door-to-door and initiating conversations with our neighbors about what is happening to America and why we need to stand up and defend democracy, human rights, and basic human decency at this moment when they are all under attack. We know that doing that can sometimes feel scary and take a lot of energy, but that will be a whole lot less scary than what we will face if the U.S. continues down the path that the ultra-Right wing has been pushing forward in the past years.

And, as I’ve said before, none of this is enough. We must also work even harder to raise consciousness and build a spiritually progressive social change movement that puts forward a vision of the world we want based on a New Bottom Line of love, care, kindness, generosity, social/economic/environmental justice, compassion, and environmental sanity. It’s only when we can transform our own movements’ discourse so that it includes this larger vision of what we are for (and not just what we are against) that we have any chance of changing the political realities in the U.S.  These are urgent times indeed and we must respond to the urgency with both immediate actions and long-term solutions.

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REVIVAL Album Spreads Love and Hope

Jun22

by: Robin Kopf on June 22nd, 2018 | No Comments »

Just in time for LGBT+ Pride weekend in San Francisco and New York City, the live folk-rock show, REVIVAL, has released an album as of June 21st.

Part of the spirit of Pride is modeling a world that focuses more on love and less on fear and hatred. REVIVAL‘s story based songs do just this – they send messages of healing, spirituality, joy, faith, and caring for the world we live in.

REVIVAL started out as a performance by singers Lea Kalisch and Julia Ostrov, violinist Samantha Gillogly, guitarist Ugene Romashov, and percussionist Anna Wray, all based in or around New York City. The music and lyrics were written by Kristen Plylar-Moore in the wake of the 2016 presidential election and they began performing the show in late 2016.


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Traumatizing Young Children

Jun19

by: Peter Gabel on June 19th, 2018 | 3 Comments »

How can Donald Trump and Jeff Sessions and their supporters, including the ICE workers who engage in the actual behavior, tear small children away from their parents and warehouse them in detention facilities, subjecting these children to trauma and a horrifying sense of shock and loss from which some may never recover?

Border Patrol agent conducts a pat down of a woman at a holding facility

Border Patrol agent conducts a pat down at a holding facility. Photo courtesy of US Department of Homeland Security.

The answer to this is that Trump and his co-participants do not actually experience either themselves or the children as fully human.  Instead, they are withdrawn into themselves, their hearts hardened by a lifetime of conditioning to be fearful of others, and that fear is then displaced onto a mental tableau in which they imagine themselves to be part of an “us” that is being infiltrated by a “them”, who are “crossing the border” without permission. “The border” is supposed to separate us and them, but it is being violated, threatening to reveal our underlying vulnerability to being humiliated by other human beings, indeed the very person next to us wherever we are. We have been thus humiliated in the past, and we must not allow that to occur again. And that fear of humiliation leads these hardened humans to withdraw from the actual world of lived experience suffused with the natural empathy that flows from existing in this real world of beautiful vulnerability, and to pretend, mentally, that they are living in an imaginary world consisting of more-or-less full-time protectionist fantasies.

In this latter hallucinated milieu, the rationale of “deterring the immigrants who are crossing the border” answers the pull, coming from the open heart of Being itself, to recognize the psychic violence being done to these children. Trump and Sessions and the millions who support their policy co-intentionally suppress their recognition of the actual humanity of these children beneath an imaginary shield-tableau in which the children are “dehumanized” just as Trump and Sessions have dehumanized themselves. Hardened against the legacy of fear of humiliation that turns like a worm inside them, they express over and over again their determination not to re-open themselves to any human being, those others who “bring drugs, who bring crime, who are rapists.”

For more on this tragic phenomenon that can only be resolved by a healing revolution that may already be occurring, see Chapters 2-4 of my book The Desire for Mutual Recognition on fear of the other and the construction of imaginary communities.

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Peter Gabel  is editor-at-large of Tikkun and the author most recently of The Desire for Mutual Recognition, published by Routledge Press.

The Siamese Twins

Jun15

by: Uri Avnery on June 15th, 2018 | 1 Comment »

Image of President Gerald R. Ford and Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin meeting in the Oval Office

President Gerald R. Ford and Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin meeting in the Oval Office. Image courtesy of Crethi Plethi.

After commenting on most of the episodes on the first Israeli Prime Ministers in Raviv Drucker’s TV series “The Captains”, I must come back to the one whose episode I have not yet covered: Yitzhak Rabin.

Let me state right from the beginning: I liked the man.

He was a man after my own heart: honest, logical, straightforward, to the point.

No nonsense, no small talk. You entered his room, he poured you a straight whisky (seemed to me he detested water), got you seated, and asked a question that compelled you to come straight to the point.

How refreshing, compared to other politicians. But Rabin was no real politician. He was a military man through and through. He was also the man who could have changed the history of Israel.

That is why he was murdered.

The salient fact of his life was that, at the age of 70, he completely changed his basic outlook.

He was not born a man of peace. Far from it.

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Baseball Infamy

Jun14

by: Victor Acquista on June 14th, 2018 | 2 Comments »

A Mound Over Hell

by Gary Morgenstein

BHC Press, 2018

A good place to start making our world a better place is to identify current problems and then strategize on how to solve those problems. What about when the problems themselves are hidden, or entangled in a complex web of truth and falsehood and conflicting ideologies? What we often categorize as “culture wars” has roots in the evolution of consciousness and how individuals and groups at different levels of consciousness coexist. Socially conscious fiction helps to shine light upon social ills. In this sense, it helps to raise awareness.

Image courtesy of Pixabay

In his novel, A Mound Over Hell, Gary Morgenstein has given us much to think about regarding the current state of modern society. Although the story is set in the future, today’s social problems are on full display. Baseball seems an unlikely place to uncover and expose societal conflict. Yet, Morgenstein reveals it to be the perfect construct for digging deep into the underbelly of a future America where baseball is on the brink of extinction. The seeds of past conflict often blossom into future turmoil. His novel is a far cry from A Field of Dreams.

In these times when people exploit half-truths, fake news, and alternate facts, the book itself is timely. The narrative blends a combination of baseball truths and fabrications wedded together, takes readers through a somewhat unexpected trajectory, and reframes historical elements to uncover an uncomfortable present. Surprise! Not all is what citizens have been led to believe. Lies clearly have the upper hand in this marital union. Despite this foundation of falsehood, the citizens live in a zeitgeist of syrupy contentment.

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A Note from a Canadian Muslim

Jun5

by: Dr. Junaid Jahangir on June 5th, 2018 | 2 Comments »

The Israeli sniper fatally shooting a 21-year-old nurse Razan Al Najjar in the chest and the earlier shooting of a soft-spoken Dr. Tarik Loubani has disturbed me greatly. Dr. Loubani reminds me of another soft-spoken Dr. Abu Al Aysh, who was yelled at in a press conference just when the IDF killed three of his daughters through a missile strike. I also note the incarceration of Ahed Tamimi, a teenager who was sentenced by a military court. I recall the burning of a young Abu Khdeir and the murder of three Israeli boys — Eyal Yifrah, Gilad Sha’ar and Naftali Fraenkel.

The people I look up to Rev. Dr. Nancy Steeves, Dr. Dawn Waring, Dr. Sherry Ann Chapman, Rev. Betty Marlin, Rev. Audrey Brooks and Rob Wells are all extremely concerned about occupation, apartheid, and ongoing persecution of the Palestinian people. Four of them have been to the Holy Land to stand as witness to the suffering of the Palestinian people that includes Muslims and Christians. On the other hand, I have warm relations with the Jewish community. Conservative Judaism has inspired me, as the writings of the late Rabbi Harold Schulweis (alav ha shalom) have touched me greatly. I have also followed the Responza of Conservative Judaism on same-sex marriage and have borrowed from it in my writings.

I am neither a Christian nor a Jew. For that matter, I am neither a traditional Muslim. After all, I have a drastically different understanding of homosexuality, blasphemy, dying with dignity, all of which would put me at odds with many Muslims who like to pass themselves as carrying “majoritarian” viewpoints. This also includes many LGBTQ Muslims, who just tweak one element in religion to fit themselves but buy neo-traditional values on all other issues. I could be considered a heretic, but it is such heresy that allows me to push the frontiers of thought.

When I write, I like to get my pieces vetted before sending them out in the media. As such, when I compose articles I want them air tight and unassailable. On LGBTQ issues, I have created a formidable discourse with Dr. Hussein Abdullatif, who is Palestinian, along with our brilliant editor Dr. Samar Habib. However, I find myself unable to create a similar discourse on Israel and Palestine. For every argument, there is a counter-argument. The narratives of the two people are utterly different and dialogue does not bridge them. That is why writing on Israel and Palestine has been very difficult for me. I have noted that in the interfaith group I tried to set in Edmonton. The Jewish Rabbi and the Egyptian lady were just at loggerheads.

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Religions Discriminating Against Same-Sex Couples are Religions Lacking Moral Authority

Jun5

by: Dr. Warren J. Blumenfeld on June 5th, 2018 | 1 Comment »

Long long ago in a land far far away at the world’s Middle East then under Roman rule, a man with ivory white skin and long flowing blond hair (really, I thought you said he was from the Middle East?) proclaimed:

“Thou shall not eateth cake if thou expecteth to marry someone of thine own sex, for it is abomination. If thou eateth said treat, thou shall burneth in the flames of the deep hot confectionery hellhole for eternity!”

While the historical Jesus of Nazareth has been shown never to have asserted any mention of same-sex sexuality, same-sex marriage, or the purchase and consumption of baked goods for same-sex couples, people with same-sex attractions and love interests have suffered the ravages of religious persecution throughout the ages on “religious” grounds.

Throughout the ages, individuals and organizations have employed religious dogma to justify the marginalization, harassment, denial of rights, persecution, and oppression of entire groups of people based on their social identities. At various historical periods, people have applied these texts, sometimes taken in tandem, and at other times used selectively, to establish and maintain hierarchical positions of power, domination, and privilege over individuals and groups targeted by these texts and tenets.

The United States of America was founded on Christian justifications for oppression, utilizing so-called “religious” rationalizations for slavery, bans on interracial marriage, advancing racial segregation, against women’s enfranchisement and the rights of women to control their bodies, opposition to public schooling, banning public education and other services for people with disabilities, restrictions on immigration and voting rights, imposition of school prayer and so-called “Blue Laws” prohibitingSundaysales, and many other areas of public policy.

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Proposals for Reducing the Plague of Gun Violence

Jun1

by: Warren J. Blumenfeld on June 1st, 2018 | No Comments »

June has been designated “Gun Violence Awareness Month,” with June 1stas “Gun Violence Awareness Day.” The first day and throughout the month are intended to raise awareness of the estimated 96 people killed every day and the many more injured across the United States.

We wear orange to symbolize the epidemic of gun violence ravaging the country. Throughout the month, organizations are planning educational efforts, voter registration drives, and mobilization activities.

We currently live in a political climate in which national, state, and local governments are increasingly dismantling regulations for the benefit of the corporate sector’s bottom line rather than to better ensure the safety and health of the people.

While no single or a combination of measures will completely eliminate firearms deaths and injuries, I have constructed a list of proposals, thereby bucking the current deregulatory trend, intended to substantially diminish the plague of violence:

Ban and criminalize the possession of semi-automatic and so-called “assault” weapons!

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Conspiracies, Left and Right

Jun1

by: Jonathan Zimmerman on June 1st, 2018 | No Comments »

Last week, the president of the United States went into full-on conspiracy-theory mode. Donald J. Trump asserted that a “criminal deep state” planted a spy in his 2016 campaign, in a failed effort to install Hillary Clinton in the White House. And so “Spygate” was born.

Meanwhile, Trump was being blackmailed by the Russians with a lurid tape showing prostitutes urinating in front of him. That’s why he has refrained from attacking Vladimir Putin, who conspired to swing the election to . . . Donald J. Trump.

No, wait:thatconspiracy theory is being spread by Trump’s enemies, not by the president. And by indulging in their own flights of fantasy, they make it harder to criticize our fact-challenged commander-in-chief.

Let’s be clear: there’s no evidence – none – that anyone planted a “spy” in Trump’s campaign. True, a Federal Bureau of Investigation informant contacted the campaign as part of the investigation of Russian meddling in the election. But Trump claims that the informant was sent by the Obama White House to infiltrate his operation, which is – quite simply – a fantasy.

Yet the “Pee-Gate” story is pretty fantastical, too. It comes to us from a dossier compiled by British intelligence agent Christopher Steele, who has admitted that some parts of the dossier might not be accurate. He described it as a set of leads, not as a full report.

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Response to “Thoughts on Roth”

May30

by: Judith Mahoney Pasternak on May 30th, 2018 | 1 Comment »

As a woman, a Jew, and a writer, I’ve tried for the days since I learned of Roth’s death to parse the grief I felt at that moment. It comes down to the repeated shocks of joy I felt on first readingPortnoyin 1969, before the very different shock of Second-Wave feminism had carried me down different paths, although never away from appreciating his work.

In fact, I think, it was feminism that enabled me to articulate whatPortnoyhad achieved: Roth had revealed, as no one before him had, the ways in which so many men of my demographic saw women – the Jewish American men of my generation, good men, men I had admired, loved, even married. As everyone has already noted about Roth’s work, I didn’t see myself mirrored in it. The so much smaller proportion of published works by women throughout most of Western history – combined, of course, with the profound differences in experience between the genders in a gender-divided world – has always made it hard for us to find ourselves mirrored in the literary canons.

So no, I didn’t see myself reflected inPortnoy. But I saw men I knew. They were exaggerated, of course. I was pretty sure that no one I knew had ever fucked his own family’s dinner, although I rolled on the floor laughing when I read Alex Portnoy’s confession of having done it.

That’s what writers do. We don’t create real people, God does. We create people whofeelreal, for thepurpose of telling a story. There’s never been a literally real Alex Portnoy, or a literally real Mr. Micawber or Constance Chatterley. (One of my worst arguments with my father in our lives was when he told me how well D.H. Lawrence understood women and I demurred.)

Roth wrote great stories. Like what’s still the preponderance of the canons, they were about men, about what men think and feel and experience, including their experiences of the women in their lives. I’m glad there are more women being published now,glad our stories are being told. But I’m also glad Roth was here to write the ones he wrote.

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Now based in Paris,Judith Mahoney Pasternakis a long-time U.S. writer and journalist in the progressive media and an activist for feminism, peace, and Palestinian self-determination.