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

Courageous Conversations: Join us April 16 at Brooklyn Law School!

Are there some people you just can’t talk to? Our panelists say, “NO!”
Combating Extremism event on April 16, at Brooklyn Law School. Download the flyer here

Celebrating All Women on International Women’s Day

Parliament of World Religions, “Are Our Stained Glass Ceilings Cracking Yet? Women and Leadership in the World of Interfaith” panel

For well over a century, International Women’s Day has been celebrated annually on March 8. It’s a day that’s not specific to a country, religion or organization — rather, it belongs to all women in every group everywhere.

International Women’s Day is about supporting all women. It’s an opportunity to celebrate women as important contributors to the world and across the world. It’s an opportunity to acknowledge that women are one-half of the potential human capital in any economy, and more than half a billion women have joined the world’s workforce over the past 30 years. And an opportunity to recognize that societies which invest in women and girls, are more responsive, transparent, religiously free, democratic and more capable of countering violent extremism.

Please join me in honoring and empowering all women—including women of faith—by reading and sharing Tanenbaum’s Combating Extremism campaign resources on religious women’s courage, compassion and charisma of women across traditions.

We cannot succeed without women and girls. That’s why we should celebrate the contributions of women, not just on International Women’s Day, but every day.

Take Our Fake News Survey!

Friends –

Only a few years ago, news organizations served as gatekeepers for information—choosing what content to amplify and what to omit. Today, things are different and far more complicated. New tools amplify previously unheard voices, and roughly 100 million pieces of information are uploaded onto the internet daily. Some of that information is important, factual, interesting, and reflects critical thinking and opinions. But some is “fake news.”

How to respond to “fake news” is a hot topic, even though there’s no universally agreed upon definition for the phenomenon. And we’d like to hear what you think about it.

Please tell us by spending a few minutes taking Tanenbaum’s Combating Extremism campaign’s short fake news survey!

A Path Forward: Confronting Hate in America

Ken Parker, prior to leaving the KKK and NSM.

Knowing anti-Semitism is on the rise again. Seeing what happened in Charlottesville, then Pittsburg. Hearing the chants, “Jews will not replace us.” In honor of Holocaust Remembrance Day, we have to ask the hard question.

Are there some people—bigots and extremists—who are so extreme, they just can’t change?  Our answer, “NO!”

Support for this can be found in Deeyah Kahn’s beautiful, courageous and heart-wrenching Netflix documentary White Right: Meeting the Enemy. In the film, on the Unite the Right rally and the white nationalists who participated, Kahn introduces us to white supremacist leader and Born Again Christian, Ken Parker. At that time, he was active in the Nationalist Socialist Movement (NSM) and a Grand Dragon of the Ku Klux Klan (KKK). 

Ken hands over his Grand Dragon robe to race relations expert Daryl Davis

The film captures what Ken had to say during the 2017 rally

Jews and homosexuals, they should be exterminated, every single one of them.” 

I absolutely despise Jews, so yes I’m a racist.”

“I will never break bread with a Jew! Ever.”

Today it’s different. Ken is now a “former.” He retired from the NSM and the KKK and denounces hate groups. Part of his evolution included a process of reconciliation, and Ken reaching out to the very people who he used to vilify.

Ken Parker with Jewish Holocaust Educator, Tamara Meyer

Tanenbaum’s Combating Extremism campaign partnered with Arno Michaelis, a former leader in the skinhead movement and now a peacebuilder, who pushed Ken to meet his first Jew—something he vowed never to do.

Arno introduced Ken to Tamara Meyer, a Jewish Holocaust Educator, and to race relations expert Daryl Davis, and videotaped Ken “break bread with a Jew.”  And now, in partnership with Arno, we are proud to present what happened.

A Path Forward: Confronting Hate in America, affirms that a powerful way to move forward through hate is with empathy, understanding and respect. Take a look. And let us know what you think.

 

MLK’s Legacy of Faith and Nonviolence

Friends –

In 2018, we saw communities that refused to let hate divide them. We saw the resilience of faith communities, as they supported refugees and survivors of violence and hate crimes. They remind us of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.—a man who staked his life on preaching nonviolence.

Across faith traditions and within sacred texts, we find guidance on dealing with conflict including the doctrine of nonviolence. It stands out, as the method chosen by many of our most effective, faith-driven changemakers. Like Dr. King, who always believed that religion can and should be a voice of peace.

Today we share with you our latest Combating Extremism resources and ask you to join us in honoring Dr. King by considering his thoughts on and commitment to nonviolence. Grounded in heart and mind, Martin Luther King’s nonviolence remains a weapon of choice we can still use today:

Hate and violence hold no answers for us,

Joyce S. Dubensky
CEO, Tanenbaum

Five Ways to Conquer Fake News – Combating Extremism

Facts are on the chopping block and if you’re not already worried—you should be.

Nearly two-thirds of Americans say they’re having trouble figuring out what’s real and what’s fake on the internet. Identifying facts is getting harder, especially with the bombardment of information tailored to reinforce our opinions.

The challenge for all of us, as thoughtful consumers of news and social media, is what can we do to keep from falling prey to disinformation? And the answer is, learn five ways to use your brain to conquer fake news. See what I mean in our latest Combating Extremism resource, here.  

To discernment!

Controversial Conversations

Friends-

Yesterday was #GivingTuesday and we’re thankful—for all of you who made donations. So, to show our appreciation, we’re making today Tanenbaum #GratitudeWednesday. Because, notwithstanding all that plague us, including religious bigotry and hate, there’s much to be grateful for, including a pair of Tanenbaum friends who exemplify how to move beyond hatred to love.

As part of #GratitudeWednesday, we’re sharing some clips and photos of Arno Michaelis, a former White Supremacist, and his Sikh partner for peace, Pardeep Singh Kaleka, taken during one of our recent events, Controversial Conversations. And we thank you, because we can only hold these learning conversations with your support.

For the first time ever, we live-streamed the discussion on Facebook and Instagram! And we learned a lot about white supremacy, Sikh beliefs in our humanity, and how Pardeep began healing after his father was killed (by another white supremacist).

And again, my thanks,

Joyce S. Dubensky
Tanenbaum CEO