A Shooting On Yom Kippur


Friends –

As many of you know, I am Jewish. That’s why I was in Temple on Yom Kippur, when a gunman in Germany again tried to slaughter Jews as they prayed. He did not succeed in getting into the synagogue where over 50 worshippers sat together.

So he took his hate out on others nearby, apparently trying to fulfill the pledge he made in his online manifesto. “If I fail and die, but kill a single Jew, it was worth it…After all, if every White man kills just one, we win.”

My Rabbi condemned this violent act of anti-Semitism, as she remembered Pittsburgh and Poway.

Jews around the world—including in the U.S.—are at risk because of anti-Semitism. And horrifically, so are many others. This hate is not limited to targeting my Jewish community. It affects Muslims and Christians in countries all around the world. It targets Bahá’ís and Sikhs and Hindus.

Anti-Semitism reflects these wider social trends. It is often referred to as the “canary in the coal mine,” and often indicates a rise in stereotyping, demonizing others and widespread bigotry and hate.

And that’s why we are addressing this issue on November 14th, during a courageous conversation called Confronting Hate: Examining Anti-Semitism through Religious and Ideological World Views. It’s time to tackle violence against Jews head-on—and how it can fuel hatred against so many others.

We must stand together as allies to condemn anti-Semitism. And to protect one another.

Joyce S. Dubensky
CEO, Tanenbaum

 


 

Remembering & Understanding 9/11

Friends –

In the days following September 11, 2001, our nation experienced an outpouring of support, generosity, and empathy from our neighbors and every corner of the globe. Today, there are children for whom September 11th is a moment only experienced through textbooks. But, for many of us, it is still a time to remember the 3,000+ lives lost and to reflect on how our way of life has changed.

I still remember when I could go to a meeting in NYC and not having to go through security. A time when we were not worried about terrorism; when Islamophobia, anti-Semitism and Sikh hate crimes were far less out in the open.

September 11th marked a time of change and challenges with which we, as a nation, are still grappling. That’s why it’s important to remember, to learn from that seminal moment, and to move forward together.

I’m proud that Tanenbaum can be a resource as we navigate emerging extremism and hate. For those who still care about the facts, for educators, clergy and community leaders, we offer some easy-to-use materials, including:

  • Our September 11 Fact Sheet is an easy-to-use resource highlighting the facts and history of 9/11.
  • To understand terrorism, we offer our Talking Terrorism Fact Sheet for more information about global terrorism, as well as our White Supremacy fact sheet (because more Americans have died at the hands of white domestic terrorists since 2001 than any other type of terrorist attack in our country).

With a commitment to truth and justice,

Joyce

Islamophobia isn’t a joke

Friends-

At a town hall event on August 27th, Rep. Steve King (R – Iowa), specifically referred to China’s crackdown on the ethnic Uighur minority and other Islamic groups. But then he said,

“They want them to put on Chinese clothing and eat Chinese diet, which includes trying to force the Muslims to eat pork,” King said. “That’s actually the only part of that that I agree with, everybody ought to eat pork. If you have a shortage of bacon, you can’t be happy.”

Taken in context, it appears that Rep. King may have thought he was bringing attention to the issue, while also attempting to make an inside joke to his constituents. Iowa is the top pork-producing state in the U.S. However, this is also not the first time King has scorned Islam’s dietary restrictions. In a 2018 Breitbart interview when discussing his district’s meatpacking plants, he objected to the plants employing Somali Muslims, saying,

“I don’t want people doing my pork that won’t eat it, let alone hope I go to hell for eating pork chops.”

While King is not the only American lawmaker who has made Problematic Statements, this is also not the first time that King’s statements have sparked controversy. He has been condemned by his Democratic and Republican colleagues alike for his repeated use of Islamophobia, anti-Semitic, and white supremacist rhetoric.

And that rhetoric is dangerous. At Tanenbaum, we understand the devastating effects rhetoric such as this can cause, often with devastating and deadly consequences.

Tanenbaum unequivocally condemns Islamophobia and all forms of religious bigotry. We all have a responsibility to stand against hate and xenophobia, and hold not just our elected representatives—but ourselves and everyone around us—to higher standards.

You can be part of the solution. Together we can create a groundswell of credible, responsible voices against religious hate. One way is to use our Combating Extremism resources, Explaining Extremism and Addressing Islamophobia and Five Ways to Counter Extremism on Social Media for practical approaches to opposing and discussing extremism.

In partnership,

Joyce S. Dubensky
CEO, Tanenbaum

 

Beyond Grief

Friends—

This weekend left no time to grieve. Instead, there was only time for fear. More Americans have died at the hands of white domestic terrorists since 2001 than from any other type of terrorist attack in our country. Men, women and children of every religion, race, nationality, age, gender, ethnicity, sex and class are being gunned down at school, shopping and during prayer. And many of us no longer feel safe.

It’s time to understand the phenomenon that spurs on white terrorism, to recognize the many ways it is fueled (including through social media) and to do something. If you haven’t yet read our overview of White Supremacy, I encourage you to do so now. And when you’re ready to respond, consider our resource 5 Ways to Combat Extremism on Social Media—because we’re all responsible for finding a pathway back to safety and communities where differences are respected.

Joyce S. Dubensky
CEO, Tanenbaum

Less Than Three-In-Ten Americans Know Rosh Hashana Is The Jewish New Year

Friends-

Did you know that 8 in 10 Americans correctly answer questions about Christian traditions? But that less than 3 out of 10 Americans are familiar with some basic facts about other religions—including Judaism? (See the Pew Research Center’s new poll: What Americans Know about Religion).
Given the surge in anti-Semitic hate crimes being reported, those statistics are particularly disturbing. We’d like to know what you think about anti-Semitism: what it is, where it shows up and why there’s so much of it.

Please spend just a few minutes and take our short anti-Semitism survey!

With respectful curiosity,

Joyce S. Dubensky
CEO, Tanenbaum

How Much Do You Know About Anti-Semitism? Take Our Combating Extremism Survey!

Tanenbaum spends a lot of time thinking about anti-Semitism. And one thing that seems pretty clear, is that people don’t always have a clear understanding of anti-Semitism—what it is, how it works and why it matters.

We know that anti-Semitism is real. And while anti-Semitism is often broadly understood as violent hatred of Jews, or hatred that bears the threat of such violence, sometimes anti-Semitism is quieter and just shows up as microaggressions.

So we want to know what you know and think about anti-Semitism. Please tell us by spending a few minutes taking our Combating Extremism short anti-Semitism survey!

We look forward to hearing what you have to say!

 


 

We the People…Tweet

Friends –

To the Founding Fathers, freedom of religion was a cornerstone of American democracy – even before the Bill of Rights was adopted. And we the people means that we get to use our voices to express our faith – including online!

We’re lucky to live in a country where the freedom to express our beliefs is foundational. So today, we’re sharing our Combating Extremism resource for 4th of July Tweeting! Hear our #FoundingFathers and heed their words and commitment to religious diversity, religious freedom and multi-faith respect – still relevant today. And tag us in your tweets!

In patriotism,

Joyce

The Many Faces of Misinformation

Friends –

How do we decide what news to trust? What exactly is fake news? How often does a fake news story mislead you? And how many false facts does it take to discredit a news story? Who’s responsible for the fake news frenzy? And how do we hold each other accountable?

We asked, you answered! Tanenbaum’s Combating Extremism campaign wanted to know what our readers thought about fake news and you had a lot to say!

Take a look at the conversations happening around fake news today!

And if you didn’t give us your feedback, please take 5 minutes and tell us what you think. We’re interested!

Listening Is Hard

Friends –

Following an evening of Courageous Conversations, the audience’s key takeaway was the power of listening. Though it sounds simple…it’s anything but. These days, we’ve stopped hearing each other. We talk over one another. We prepare our responses while people are speaking. We don’t even consider listening. It’s the new normal. And it’s contagious.

Former white supremacist, Arno Michaelis and former Muslim supremacist Mubin Shaikh, shared powerful stories of how civil conversations helped pull them out of extremism – conversations we should all be aspiring to have. And Kiran Thadhani described why dialogue works.  

Arno shared that everything he did during his extremist days was designed to cultivate hostility. He deliberately provoked people, and he wanted (and expected) people to react with hostility and even aggression. But when random people treated him with kindness—like a woman behind a counter at McDonald’s—he was rendered powerless.

Mubin discussed how 9/11 disoriented his radical beliefs. And how he went to Syria to deeply study and debate the Qur’an with a Sufi master. Mubin recalls how the Sufi master’s demeanor and approach had the greatest impact on him. He was nice, always very loving, smiling and happy. Through this engagement, Mubin “pulled a 180 and became an adversary of his old extremist self.”

Panelist Kiran Thadhani, from Seeds of Peace, rounded out the discussion by sharing how dialogue helps create change. It’s not a method for winning an argument, but rather one that helps build a foundation for answering today’s burning question, how do we all exist here together?

Together, we unpacked the power of kindness and courage, and how Courageous Conversations, even when we differ and they are uncomfortable, present an opportunity for interrupting extremism and division.

I invite you to watch and then share the evening’s footage, and then consider holding a Courageous Conversation of your own.

With courage,

Joyce

How you choose to react depends on who you—and who we are.

Friends—
 
I am sad—again. Once more, on behalf of Tanenbaum, I send our sympathy to the families of the deceased and injured in Saturday’s Synagogue shooting in California. 
 
I am also troubled. Because the violence isn’t a surprise. Hating others based on their religion is now normalized.  
 
While the reality is that only a minority of individuals take hate to the extreme, with a new attack every week, it doesn’t feel that way. It seems easier to define and castigate other people based on their differences. It takes more for us to see people, acknowledge them, be respectfully curious, and inclusive.
 
Which direction you choose is up to you—and up to all of us. 
 
That’s why Tanenbaum persists through heartbreak and today’s hate-filled realities. That’s why we work to stop daily acts of bigotry, counter extremism, and support our Peacemakers—women and men who stand up to violence in Sri Lanka, Yemen, Indonesia, and Bosnia—people just like you and me.
 
Choosing to engage with people who are different isn’t always an easy choice. Yet, it is a choice we can make. And that includes those of us who already embrace differences, those who are wary, and even those who perpetrate hate.
 
Don’t believe me? Check out this clip on one former white supremacist taking another to his first meeting with a Jewish person. You’ll see that we can reach across differences. 

With sorrow and fierce determination.

Joyce S. Dubensky

CEO, Tanenbaum