Monday, July 10, 2006

Progressive Faith BlogCon

Progressive Faith Blog-Con

I plan on attending the first Progressive Faith Blog-Con this weekend in Montclair, N.J.

See this article from the New Jersey Jewish News.

Who'll be there?

Rachel Barenblat, Velveteen Rabbi
David Buckley, Faith in Public Life: Blogging Faith
Jennifer Butler, Faith in Public Life: Blogging Faith
Barbara, Barbara’s Tchatzkahs
Jude Nagurney Camwell, Iddybud
Rep. Mark B. Cohen, Phillyblog
Thurman Hart, Xpatriate Texan
Mata H., Time’s Fool
Debra Hafner (Matthew Haugen), Sexuality and Religion: What’s the Connection?
Islam O. Yankee, Islamicate
Rabbi Jill Jacobs, JSpot and Radical Torah
Jesse Lava, Faithful Democrats
Mik Moore, JSpot and Jewish Funds for Justice
Michelle Murrain, Pearlbear’s blog
Jon Niven, State of Belief
Shanta Premawardhana, NCC Interfaith Relations
Rev. Bruce Prescott, Mainstream Baptist
Stephen Rockwell, Stephen Rockwell’s blog, Crossleft
Emily Ronald, The Pluralism Project
Sophia, Seeking Sophia
Andrew Schamess,
Lorianne Schaub, Hoarded Ordinaries
Pastor Dan Schultz, Street Prophets
Timothy Simpson, Christian Alliance for Progress
Chris Tessone, Even the Devils Believe
Jenna Tiltsman, Auburn Theological Seminary Chris Walton, Philocrites
Rabbi Arthur Waskow, The Shalom Center
Bruce Wilson, Talk 2 Action
Shereen Zaid, The Interfaith Alliance

Turkey to Donate Funds to Palestinians on West Bank/Gaza Strip

Turkey to Donate Funds to Palestinians on West Bank/Gaza Strip

At Informed Comment, Juan Cole points to a news article that has gotten little American airplay or American journalists' attention. Over 50,000 Turkish citizens protested in Istanbul against the Israeli invasion of Gaza. (The Associated Press said 20,000 - and a Lebanese news source tells us it was 100,000. Go figure.)

Professor Cole says:
Turkey has a secular constitution, and its military is allied with Israel, but the rise of political Islam in Turkey has put strains on the Turkish-Israeli relationship, and the Turkish public's disgust with Israeli actions in the Occupied Territories may become a factor in Turkish domestic politics. Islamists are the main beneficiary of the unresolved Palestine issue, which Kadima policies are exacerbating.

It goes without saying that the United States' own relations with the Turkish public, already damaged by the hugely unpopular Iraq War, are profoundly harmed by these Israeli crimes

According to a very recent report,Turkey has agreed to donate money to the Palestinians living in the West Bank and Gaza Strip.
Turkey will donate $1 million to fund Palestinian business development in the West Bank and Gaza Strip, Turkish Foreign Minister Abdullah Gul said July 10. The money is to be used to help Palestinians develop their own state, separate from Israeli institutions. Turkey has been strongly critical of Israel for its incursions into the Gaza Strip in recent weeks.
Here's a link to the most recent news story about the donation.

As I pointed out this morning, this brings the people of faith in the United States to a personally defining moment about Israel and America's brand of support for Israel's policies. Now, this very moment, is a time for moral leadership - a strong voice from the President of the United States - yet we citizens cannot depend upon it and we know it.

At an interreligious forum called The Meeting of Civilizations that was held in the municipality of Ankara, Turkey, the New Anatolian reports that a session titled "A Dialogue Between Monotheistic Religions" took place. Muslim, Christian, and Jewish clergy participated. The goal was to establish bridges between different civilizations and cultures.
An article written about the conference (before it took place) described the session on "peace-building":

In the session on Peace building many endeavours for peace in the world will be discussed such as the necessity to create a new bridge - a glocal bridge - between societies and civilizations. Other aspects of deliberations will include social projects for women, children, youth, families and disabled people and recreation and rehabilitation areas.

I believe creating "glocal" bridges out of hatred and misunderstanding is the only way we will ever be able to survive this age of terror and come out on the other end as decent and civilized people.

Bush-Hugging Has Damaged Lieberman's Career

When you're willing to win at any cost, you are also willing to lose everything at the same cost.

Bush-Hugging Has Damaged Lieberman's Career
Senator Lieberman Goes From Dem VP Candidate in 2000 to filing as Independent in 2006

Remember those Sore Loserman signs? In a twist of fate, it seems that the same partisan activists who would have touted that derogatory slogan about Senator Joe Lieberman in 2000 when Al Gore won the popular vote are the same ones who'd be his supporters against Democratic challenger Ned Lamont today.

A knowing Senator Lieberman, who must see his goose as cooked in Democratic polling, has filed paperwork that will allow him to collect signatures to "petition his way onto the November ballot if he loses an August primary" as a Democrat. We may see him run as an Independent in the November senatorial race in Connecticut.

I never thought of him as a "Loserman." For the better part, I've really liked Senator Lieberman for what he's tried to do for Connecticut's citizens. He got too close to Bush on Iraq and for all the good things he's done for Connecticut, he's remained at the willing mercy of the rubber stamp Republicans.

Will he win in Connecticut as a Democrat? As an Independent? It remains to be seen. Most people, especially independent voters, can no longer respect the kind of weakness from Democrats where they take what crumbs they can get regardless of what they're giving up (in the good name of citizens) to amoral Republican greed. That kind of political maneuvering isn't seen as "centrist" or "moderate", mind you. It's seen as weak. Americans are sick of the D.C. partisan games. I don't think that Senator Lieberman realized which way the tide was turning and he went gurgling under the Democratic grassroots' wave.

I'll wager he loses to Lamont in the August primary. I don't think Senator Lieberman would risk taking my bet for any substantial amount.

But will this political calculation cost him his seat in November? Does he think he'll retain enough Democratic support or gain respect among enough independent voters to retain his power in the Senate? The grassroots has become a very tough crowd. With the birth and ensuing popularity of the blog, the availability of alternative internet news sources, and the people-powered politics inspired by Howard Dean, we are far more discerning than we've ever been.

Israel & Americans of Faith: A Defining Moment

A Defining Moment For The Relationship Between Israel and Americans of Faith

Rabbi Michael Lerner reading from Scripture
Photo by Jude Nagurney Camwell

Rabbi Michael Lerner emphasizes the immoral nature of the path that Ehud Olmert is currently taking on behalf of Israel and he asks that citizens of faith respond with a plea for humane treatment of innocent Palestinian citizens. He makes the point that we American citizens cannot depend on our own U.S. government to convey this sentiment "without qualifying its concerns in ways that essentially communicate that Israel can do whatever it wants and [the U.S.] won’t interfere."

" ....this week it’s impossible as a Jew and as an American to not notice that a new human rights violation by Israel has taken place which manages to surpass many of its previous violations in cruelty and in the outrage it has generated.

Anyone has ever faced the crippling heat of the desert-like conditions of southern Israel or the Gaza strip knows the desperation for water that comes each summer. So when Israel bombed and destroyed the electricity system for 1.2 million Gazans and thereby made all electric pumps inoperable, they inflicted a collective punishment on the entire Gazan population.

He discusses the "kidnapping" situation in more than 'black-and-white' terms:
The alleged justification was a desire to punish Palestinians for electing a Hamas government, and more immediately to retrieve a soldier who had been “kidnapped” (the quotes because this was not a civilian but a soldier in uniform, so if Israel sees itself as at war with Hamas, then the only possible description is that their soldier was captured by the other side). The Hamas government, however, has publicly urged the “kidnappers” whom it does not control to free the captured soldier.

Moreover, the outrage in Israel about this “kidnap” reflects a huge level of systematic denial going on in the consciousness of Israelis and many who support its policies—because virtually every human rights group including the various Israeli human rights organizations has chronicled tens of thousands of acts of "kidnap" of this sort by the IDF against Palestinian civilians, who are then kept in detention for as long as six months without a trial, often facing brutal torture, and then released without ever having been charged with any crime. Of course, and I thank God for this because I care for the well being of the people of Israel , and as a Jew I am deeply tied to the success and safety of this particular Jewish society, the Palestinians have never been able to punish hundreds of thousands or millions of Israelis collectively for these systematic violations of human rights. To the extent that they do so through acts of terror, I condemn those acts.

"This is a defining moment in our relationship with Israel for all Americans of whatever faith":
This is a defining moment in our relationship with Israel for all Americans of whatever faith. Just as we need to make clear to our own government that its human rights violations in Guantanamo and Iraq are unacceptable, so we need to communicate to the Israeli people that the mass punishment of a million people for the acts of a few is as unacceptable when it comes from a democratic society as when it comes from the willful oppression of entrenched authoritarian dictators. Even if, God forbid, the captured soldier is murdered by the lunatics who captured him, it is only they and their conscious sponsors who should be punished, not random Palestinians, unless you think it equally appropriate to some day punish the entire American public for the three million Vietnamese killed by American action in Vietnam or for the horrendous acts which continue in Guantanamo and Iraq even today.

Unfortunately, we can’t count on our U.S. government to convey this sentiment without qualifying its concerns in ways that essentially communicate that Israel can do whatever it wants and we won’t interfere.

Here is what Rabbi Lerner says we need to do:
So the onus is upon us as ordinary citizens to act and act decisively. We need to communicate our concerns to legislators and media. We need to organize demonstrations in front of the offices of our elected officials, and also outside Israeli consulates and those Jewish institutions which continue to use their influence to support Israeli policy even at this moment (there are a few which have spoken out in critique, but very very few). And we need to write to those in power in Israel, starting with Prime Minister Olmert, telling them that even those of us who love Israel and will never let it be destroyed find this particular action unconscionable, demand that Israel immediately rebuild the electricity system, and that Israel stop trying to impose its will with military might but instead sit down with the Palestinians and negotiate a lasting peace.