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Why Monsanto Wants Me in Jail


by: Reverend Billy Talen​ on January 10th, 2017 | Comments Off

I am facing some jail time for standing up to the evils of Monsanto and other Big Ag usurpers of the Earth. My trial beginstomorrow.

The prosecutor in Iowa appears corrupted by Monsanto and has proposed to a judge that protesters of its toxins be deprived of their constitutional rights at trial. Let’s repeat that. A Des Moines assistant District Attorney has filed a motion that would preclude any “referencing” of the 1st Amendment or free speech protections of the Bill of Rights in my trial. This would retroactively strip a protester, me, of the right to protest simply. Here’s a link to the motion.


Sister Giant Conference – Rabbi Michael Lerner and Cat Zavis to Speak


by: on January 5th, 2017 | Comments Off

Rabbi Michael Lerner and Cat Zavis will be speaking at the Sister Giant Conference in Washington, DC February 2nd-4th. For more information about this fantastic event, please see http://sistergiant.com/the-event/. To get you excited we’ve posted a link to their video below!


It Can and Did Happen Here: In this Election, Hillary was the Reviled Jew


by: Miriam Greenspan on November 21st, 2016 | 7 Comments »

Millions of people were in shock on November 9, but I wasn’t one of them. The Trump victory confirmed what I’d been feeling in my bones for months, following an intuitive thunderbolt that hit me back in May: “Trump will win this election.”

I am not a political junkie or a pundit. But as the daughter of Holocaust survivors, a psychotherapist for forty years, and an empath who can sense the emotional zeitgeist, I could smell the stink of proto-fascism in the air. I am not alone. Many survivors and their children have had a sense of déjà vu with the rise of Trump.

When the thunderbolt struck, Trump was a political joke—the butt of pundits and talk show hosts, a rude, crude orangutan of a man without a clue. What struck me was that this is what Germans in the 1920’s thought of Hitler: a little clown, a silly joke with a mustache, a passing idiocy.

It also struck me that some of the conditions of the rise of German fascism and those of American proto-fascism today are similar: a defeated sense of economic and social decline, rampant unemployment, a country divided and demoralized by a profound national loss of confidence in the government.

Hitler had a very distinct way of speaking and a spellbinding way of using his arms and hands, hypnotizing large crowds into a kind of ecstatic reverence. Trump has a similar charisma, a mesmerizing use of hand motions, and an uncanny ability to mobilize his crowds to do his bidding (“I could stand in the middle of 5th Avenue and shoot somebody and I wouldn’t lose voters.”) People believed in Hitler the way they believe in Trump: as an antidote to their sense of failure, an answer to their economic woes, a savior who would resurrect a lost, glorious past and make the Aryan nation great again.


After Next Week’s Election, What’s Next for Progressives? Come to Tikkun’s Strategy Conference Nov. 12 & 13


by: on November 4th, 2016 | 2 Comments »

Register here: www.tikkun.org/30thcelebration

How can we heal this country after such a divisive election? What’s next for progressives? What will happen to the energy of the Bernie Sanders movement? Will it wither and die?

Tikkun magazine (as a way of celebrating its 30th anniversary), the Network of Spiritual Progressives, and the Metta Center for Nonviolence are bringing some of the nation’s top activists and social change leaders together in Berkeley the weekend after the election to chart a path forward for fundamental change.

What: A two-day strategy conference for liberals and progressives about what direction the left should take after the results of the November election.

The first day will begin with a session led by nonviolent activist Michael Nagler that will focus on “the New Story” of the universe and how that impacts our way of thinking about politics. The afternoon sessions will surround a psychological understanding of American politics and the role a New Bottom Line of consciousness (where our society is built on values of love and justice and not on profit) could add to transforming both the political arena and socio-cultural spheres in coming years.

The second day of the conference will be led by Rabbi Michael Lerner, Tikkun’s Editor-at-Large Peter Gabel, and Cat Zavis, the executive director of the Network of Spiritual Progressives, who will share reflections on the contemporary reality of Western societies and the changes in consciousness necessary to overcome every form of “demeaning the other” and also overcome the forces that are engaged in destroying the environment.

The conference will end with a ceremony to give out the Tikkun Award to a few of the many people whose lives are embodying Tikkun‘s message of global healing and transformation. This year’s awards feature noted peace activist and singer Holly Near, award-winning filmmaker Oliver Stone, Israeli human rights activist Rabbi Arik Ascherman, Stanford history professor and editor of the Martin Luther King Jr. Papers Clayborne Carson, cultural anthropologist Nancy Scheper-HughesAaron Davidman who created the play “Wrestling with Jerusalem,” and Fania E. Davis who founded and is the executive director of Restorative Justice for Oakland Youth.

When/Where: Veteran’s Day weekend in Berkeley, California. On Saturday, Nov 12, the conference will be from 10 a.m. – 8 p.m. at the Northbrae Community Church (941 The Alameda). On Sunday, Nov. 13, the conference will be held from 1:30 p.m. – 6 p.m. at St. Paul’s African Methodist Episcopal Church (2024 Ashby Ave.). Contact: Staci Akselrod Ÿat 510-644-1200 Ÿor staci@tikkun.org www.tikkun.org/30thcelebration

Overcoming High Holiday Hypocrisy


by: Gabi Kirk on October 7th, 2016 | 1 Comment »

During the High Holidays, Jews chant Ashamnu, the confession of our sins. We beat our chests and ask God for forgiveness, for we have been hypocritical, we have turned away from the truth, we have stolen, we have lied. We are responsible for our own wrongdoings, but collectively we are also responsible for the ills of our society. Many synagogues add specific contemporary sins to the traditional list – gun violence, global warming, poverty – but few synagogues, at this time of year or any other, admit the American Jewish institutional community’s role in upholding Israel’s military occupation, though we have had nearly 50 years to admit, atone, and change.

We have been hypocritical in supporting equality at home but injustice in Israel/Palestine. Growing up, I learned of Jews marching for civil rights for black communities in the American South, standing with Cesar Chavez and the Filipino and Chicano farm workers’ boycott, and working to end apartheid in South Africa. I was never told that Israel maintains a separate system of military law over millions of Palestinians in the West Bank and East Jerusalem, who are subject to separate courts and prisons with a nearly 100% conviction rate. When I learned how Israel “rescued” Ethiopian and Yemeni Jews, I was never told of the deep racial hierarchies present within Jewish Israeli society.


Israel Demolishing Homes


by: Penina Eilberg-Schwartz on September 27th, 2016 | 3 Comments »

A bulldozer during a demolition in the village of Al-Araqib.

A bulldozer during a demolition in the village of Al-Araqib.


“This is Al-Araqib?” I asked Karen when we first arrived in the Bedouin village near the end of June.

I looked to the cemetery on the left, at what looked like a dirt parking lot under our feet, and then back at her. She pointed down at the ground.

“This is where it used to be.”

We walked towards some plastic chairs under a tree and sat down with Sheikh Sayah, Aziz and Salim. Aziz used to be a farmer but now he has nothing to farm so his job is to sit here under this tree, to prove that this place isn’t empty, that this is a place where people live.

We looked as they pointed to all the places that used to make up Al-Araqib — where the trees and houses stood — before the village had been demolished for the first time in 2010 and 98 times since.

A few days after we listened to Sheikh Sayah speak, Al-Araqib was demolished for the 100th time.

There wasn’t much to demolish, just a few tents made from black tarp. But of course there was still somehow a lot to demolish, just like every time the bulldozers come.


Bal Taschit: What’s Wrong With the Jewish Law Against Destruction and Waste — and How to Fix It


by: David Seidenberg on September 8th, 2016 | 5 Comments »

[Managing Editor's note: The spirit of David Seidenberg's insightful Torah commentary (below) is directly related to The Environmental & Social Responsibility Amendment to the U.S. Constitution, a call by The Network of Spiritual Progressives for a radical change in policy about how corporations interact with the environment. Join us at www.spiritualprogressives.org.]

Commentary on this week’s Torah portion – Shoftim

In Deuteronomy, we encounter one of the deepest principles in Jewish law: “When you lead a siege against a city many days … you may not destroy any tree of hers, to hew an ax against it, for from it you will eat, and you may not cut it off! Is the tree of the field a person, to come before you in the siege? Only a tree that you know is not a tree for food, that one you may destroy and cut off, and build siegeworks …” (20:19-20)

For the rabbis and later codes, the rule not to destroy fruit trees in war became an overarching principle, “do not destroy,” bal tashchit. If even in a time of war one could not destroy fruit trees, all the more should one not destroy or waste anything under normal circumstances.

Mainstream Jewish environmentalism in the early days began and ended as a paean to bal tashchit, the prohibition against destroying anything. How far have we come in Jewish environmentalism and ecotheology in the past forty-plus years? How we interpret the prohibition of bal tashchit is a good litmus test. Here’s why:


When Iraq Expelled Its Jews to Israel – The Inside Story


by: Edwin Black on September 7th, 2016 | 3 Comments »

After Hitler’s defeat in May 1945, many Nazis melted away from the Reich, smuggled out by such organizations as the infamous Odessa group and the lesser-known Catholic lay network Intermarium, as well as the CIA and KGB. They ensured the continuation of the Nazi legacy in the postwar Arab world.

Egypt was a prime destination for German Nazi relocation in the Arab world. Dr. Aribert Heim was notoriously known as “Dr. Death” for his grotesque pseudo-medical experiments on Jewish prisoners in the Sachsenhausen, Buchenwald, and Mauthausen concentration camps. He was fond of surgical procedures including organ removals without anesthesia, injecting gasoline into prisoners to observe the manner of death, and decapitating Jews with healthy teeth so he could cook the skulls clean to make desk decorations. Dr. Heim converted to Islam and became “Uncle Tarek” Hussein Farid in Cairo, Egypt, where he lived a happy life as a medical doctor for the Egyptian police.

Two of Goebbels’s Nazi propagandists, Alfred Zingler and Dr. Johann von Leers, became Mahmoud Saleh and Omar Amin respectively, working in the Egyptian Information Department. In 1955, Zingler and von Leers helped establish the virulently anti-Semitic Institute for the Study of Zionism in Cairo. Hans Appler, another Goebbels propagandist, became Saleh Shafar who, in 1955, became an expert for an Egyptian unit specializing in anti-Jewish and anti-Zionist hate propaganda. Erich Altern, a Gestapo agent, Himmler coordinator in Poland, and expert in Jewish affairs became Ali Bella, working as a military instructor in training camps for Palestinian terrorists. A German newspaper estimated there were fully 2,000 Nazis working openly and under state protection in Egypt.


5 Things the Sanders Revolution is Not


by: Anthony D'Agostino on September 6th, 2016 | Comments Off

The next President of the United States will not be a self-described democratic socialist at the head of a political revolution.  Bernie Sanders and his supporters will close ranks and work for a Clinton victory, at any rate, an estimated 80% of them who will follow his lead.  This does not in any way reduce the significance of the Sanders vote in the 2016 Democratic primaries.  It represents something close to half of the Democratic vote and something like ¾ of the Democratic voters under 30 years of age.  Over a million of Sanders supporters cheered him on in rallies in nearly every state.  When this is taken together with the evidence of similar expressions throughout Western Europe and other parts of the world, it becomes clear that the dialogue on the left and center left in American politics has been fundamentally changed, perhaps permanently.  We now have a social democratic movement capable of quickly becoming a majority and leading a government.  It will seem to be submerged for a time; it will only express itself in a small grouping of personalities in Congress; it may only cause a ripple or two in the Congressional election of 2018; it may only indirectly affect the actions of the next administration.  Yet candidates will know from now on that they can appeal to a set of ideas similar to the ones that were aired in the primaries this year and that there will be a constituency ready to listen to them.  The emergence of social democracy is now a fact of life.


An Exchange Between Wendy Somerson and Yotam Marom on Anti-Semitism in the Left and the Jewish Left


by: Wendy Elisheva Somerson and Yotam Marom on September 2nd, 2016 | 7 Comments »

[Editor's note: The article below by Wendy Elisheva Somerson was written in response to an article Tikkun published on our website a week ago written by Yotam Marom titled Toward the Next Jewish Rebellion: Facing Anti-Semitism and Assimilation in the Movement. We published that long article because it is relevant (though not written as a direct response to) a vigorous debate now taking place in progressive Jewish circles about how to think about an alliance with The Movement for Black Lives in light of its recent platform that included as one of its elements the claim that Israel is engaging in "genocide" against the Palestinian people, but also because it addresses the larger question of how to deal with anti-Semitism in the Left and in the consciousness of some leftist Jews who may have unconsciously internalized the anti-Semitism in the movement in order to protect their status as "loyal allies" to the Left as a whole, and in this case, to the section of the struggle against racism that has the label "Black Lives Matters" (though that is only a small section of the larger anti-racist movements in the US.). To understand Somerson more fully, it makes sense to first read Yotam Marom's original piece, which you'll find athttp://www.tikkun.org/nextgen/toward-the-next-jewish-rebellion-facing-anti-semitism-and-assimilation-in-the-movement. After reading that piece and then Somerson's response, please also read the response from Marom included below! It's an important discussion, and as Somerson points out, one done for "the sake of heaven."]

Arguing for the Sake of Heaven: Toward an Accountable Jewish Liberation

by Wendy Elisheva Somerson

We should always be wary about people who claim to summarize “the Jewish people” whether they are anti-Semitic or trying to elevate Jews in certain ways. Let’s assume we are a complex people,and that makes us very much like other people. – Judith Butler

I was excited to dig into Yotam Marom’s lengthy piece, “Toward the Next Jewish Rebellion: Facing Anti-Semitism and Assimilation in the Movement” after so many of my Lefty Jewish friends posted it on social media. As a fellow Jewish activist, I also long for Jewish culture to be visible in our social justice movements. But when I actually read his piece, I was disappointed because Marom conflates Jews with the State of Israel at a time when we should be doing everything we can to separate the two.