Month: May 2013
The Devolution of the Syrian Revolution
A crisis in Syria’s opposition deepened on Monday when liberals were offered only token representation, undermining international efforts to lend the Islamist-dominated alliance greater support.
To the dismay of envoys of Western and Arab nations monitoring four days of opposition talks in Istanbul, the 60-member Syrian National Coalition thwarted a deal to admit a liberal bloc headed by opposition campaigner Michel Kilo.
The failure to broaden the coalition, in which Qatar and a bloc largely influenced by the Muslim Brotherhood has been playing the driving role, could undermine Saudi Arabian support for the revolt and raise the specter of a rivalry among Gulf powers that could further weaken the opposition. Read more here.
A couple of days ago something moved me to outrage more than all the human rights abuses of the Syrian conflict. I have witnessed helplessly as all my dear friends in Syria have lost everything to
The Only Good Cleric is a Powerless Cleric
Brilliant article simply stated on why fundamentalists cannot be trusted with sole authority over minors. The ongoing scandals of abuse of male students at Jewish Orthodox institutions continues, but what is remarkable is the intention of fundamentalists to keep away secular authorities who might protect the abused.
The evidence is overwhelming across the globe that male clerics cannot monitor their own behavior. It does not matter if they are Hindu, Jewish, Catholic or Muslim. The most important reality is that male clerics are not gods, they are not infallible, and that the fundamentalist presumption of moral superiority before the liberal state is cracking at the seams.
History is proving time and time again in recent decades that humanity has reached a critical juncture with regard to the human flirtation with the sacred and the search for ultimate meaning, which some call religion. It is better left in the hands of …
Troublemaking Powerful Women of the Middle East: What Gives With Their Nonviolence?
I think it is interesting that in just a few days we heard from the daughter of Emir of Qatar that MENA radical intervention into Syria was turning into a ruination of a legitimate struggle because of the violence and barbarism of the religious extremists. Then we heard from the daughter of Khomeini, father of the Iranian Revolution, that the current leaders may be ruining the revolution and replacing it with a dictatorship. What’s up with the new daughters of MENA? These women are not radicalized hippie eighteen year old children of farmers from the countryside. They are from the top elite of each country’s leadership. What gives with these women’s preference for nonviolence? Could this be a kindler, gentler effect of the Arab Spring? Or perhaps the culmination of longer processes at work?
The answer is that the slow and steady increase of women’s voices …
Figuring Out Our Values by Studying Our War Criminals
Jorge Rafael Videla, the military junta leader who oversaw a ruthless campaign of political killings and forced disappearances during Argentina’s so-called Dirty War against dissidents in the mid-1970s, died on Friday in the Marcos Paz Prison in Buenos Aires, where he was serving a life sentence for crimes against humanity. He was 87.
At least 15,000 people were killed or “disappeared” during the junta’s campaign, according to government estimates. Human rights officials say the figure is closer to 30,000.
It is gratifying to read of the death in prison of a man who had almost 30,000 people murdered. It is even more gratifying to learn that he spent his last thirty years of life in jail. The successful execution of the rule of law, the nonviolent approach to justice, is the single greatest rebuke to those who cry out for weapons on both sides of this world’s political spectrum. …
The Holiday of Nonviolence: Shavuot
This amazing portrait of Naomi, Ruth and Orpah, painted by William Blake in 1795, captures perhaps the most dramatic women’s story in the entire Hebrew Bible. It is a story that is associated with the holiday of Shavuot because of the mention of the importance of the harvest for the story and for this ancient holiday. This is a book I urge everyone to read, and read about http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Book_of_Ruth
This is a tale the tragedy of drought, loss, death and homelessness, in other words the most common tale of forced emigration. But the story is unique in its description of undying devotion and selflessness and the unforgettable bond between two women suffering, and the heroic determination of Ruth to rebuild their lives.
What strikes me as important about their behavior and their relationship is how completely bereft it is of anger and violence toward others. Naomi has plenty to be …
Religious Extremism Inside the State, a Poison We Can Eliminate With Good Ideas, Behaviors and Policies
Christian extremism in the U.S. Military, Muslim extremism in the new Egyptian Parliament, the worst kind of racism and fantasies of ethnic cleansing reaching the most official governmental positions of the Israeli Chief Rabbinate. That is just the news from one week, and it all points to the same thing: religion is poison for the State and the State is poison for religion. Want to kill a religion? Give it power in the State. Want to save a religion from those men who would abuse it for their own violent fantasies? Deprive religion of all state power, and the maniacs lose interest in it.
The State is all about power, and we have learned from a long and painful human history that no one should be trusted with too much power. That is why religion should remain powerless, so that it can function as a place …
One’s Woman’s Battle to Evolve the American Spirit: A Mother’s Day Note from Rabbi Waskow’s Shalom Center
Please read this amazing proclamation from 1870 by an amazing American woman, Julie Howe. I grew up with the Battle Hymn of the Republic ringing in my ears, played on so many patriotic occasions, and so very violent. You come to define patriotism and your national spirit by a very few cultural artifacts that are most familiar to you. But so often, digging deeper into history, it turns out that those selections had an agenda at the hands of someone who wanted to define a country in one way, with one spirit, in this case a very militant spirit. I lost that sense of patriotism due to the bad taste that Vietnam and the Cold War left in my young mouth. But I did not have to lose patriotism, I just had to contest its formulation exclusively with ante bellum Julia Howe, and not the whole Julie Howe. We need …
Nonviolent Justice and the Rule of Law Win the Day, Better Than Revolution and Endless Killing
A Guatemalan court on Friday found former dictator Efrain Rios Montt guilty of genocide and crimes against humanity during the bloodiest phase of the country’s 36-year civil war.
He was sentenced to 50 years in prison on the genocide charge and 30 years for crimes against humanity. It was the first time a former head of state had been found guilty of genocide in his or her own country.
Rios Montt, 86, took power after a coup in 1982, and is accused of implementing a scorched-earth policy in which troops massacred thousands of indigenous villagers. He entered the court on Friday to boos and cries of “Justicia!” or justice.
Prosecutors say Rios Montt turned a blind eye as soldiers used rape, torture and arson to try to rid Guatemala of leftist rebels during his 1982-1983 rule, the most violent period of a 1960-1996 civil war in which as many as …
Passover, Shavuot and the Breath of Nonviolent Leadership
I feel the humility of Matsah as I eat it. It has no breath, the breath has been sucked out of Matsah. It does not breathe as bread breathes. It is made in the blink of an eye, and yet it is so thick with life and sustenance it miraculously lasts forever, and gives nourishment in any barren impoverished environment. It sits in my stomach, as if it will never leave, it sits in my stomach so much so that I knowing that if God forbid I give it to a small pet it could kill the poor thing. Matsah in some sense is close to death, it is a companion of death. Without breath it is dead, and yet it gives life to the servant and the imprisoned and the refugee who are dead, and who are in need of resuscitation as they are on the run. …