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

Coptic Christians are still being targeted, when will this end?

Friends,

On November 4th, the New York Times published an article, Egypt says it killed 19 militants after deadly attack on Christians. The attack occurred last Friday, November 2nd, when gunmen opened fire onto three buses as they departed from the Monastery of St. Samuel, in the desert south of Cairo. The attack killed seven people in one bus and wounded 19 people total. The Islamic State has claimed responsibility.

We’ve been watching the ongoing persecution of Christians and our hearts ache. Tragically this is not a new phenomenon. In May of 2017, Tanenbaum published a blog post condemning a similarly violent attack which targeted another bus filled with Egyptian Coptic Christians. 

Why has there been no change?

On Sunday at the World Youth Forum, Egypt’s President Sisi responded to the attack, by affirming religious freedom for all and reiterating his commitment to fight discrimination. In contrast, critics maintain that freedom of religion is currently in an uncertain state under the current Egyptian administration. 

In this moment of sorrow, Tanenbaum stands with the Coptic Community in Egypt, with Christians worldwide and with our global community—including all people, from all, or no, traditions.

We have a responsibility to pay attention, to stand up to the hate that fuels violence and terrorism internationally and domestically, and to make sure that we do not let hatred inform our hearts and minds.

The time is now, 

Joyce S. Dubensky
CEO, Tanenbaum

Tree of Life Synagogue – 5 Ways to Take Action

In the wake of the Tree of Life synagogue shooting, many people felt sadness, anger, fear—and hopelessness. All of those reactions linger today. But the Tree of Life tragedy should also be a call to action. As the Rev. Martin Luther King, Jr. said in his famous ‘I Have a Dream’ speech, 

“Now is the time to make justice a reality for all of God’s children.
It would be fatal for the nation to overlook the urgency of this moment.”

It was true then and it is true now. Bigotry and violence should have no place in our country. And there are things we can do about it…

VOTE!

Election Day is Tuesday, November 6!

Every 2 years we have an opportunity to shape the legislative branch of our federal, state and local governments. Whether you have been satisfied or dissatisfied with how your public representatives have been voting or responding to current events, this is your opportunity to make sure that those who reflect your vision of America get a seat at the decision-making table!

For more information about where, when and how to vote, click here!

DONATE!

Tanenbaum systematically dismantles religious hatred and violence and promotes respect for people of all religious beliefs. Last week, we were named 1 of the top 5 interreligious organizations to support (see article here). 

Our actions can make a difference and supporting organizations that preserve freedom of religion and respect is one of the best ways to take action. 

CLICK HERE TO DONATE NOW!

PARTICIPATE IN CIVIL DISCOURSE!

Bullying, marginalization, violence and propaganda. None of it’s new. What is new is the scale, frequency and ubiquitousness of disinformation. Tanenbaum’s Combating Extremism campaign is a public education initiative that dismantles stereotypes and counters fake news. As part of this campaign, we regularly post free, practical resources for home, work, school, places of worship and/or your community. Below are some of our resources for beginning conversations: 

Click here for the access to all Combating Extremism campaign resources.

INTENTIONALLY CREATE SPACE!

This is the moment for communities to invest time and energy in one another. One way is to intentionally create space for interfaith and cross-group action projects in your communities. Another is to proactively establish conversations and dialogues in your houses of faith, community centers and homes – and to practice listening even when you may disagree. Some organization with helpful resources include United Religions InitiativeInterfaith Youth Core and Interfaith Center of Greater Philadelphia.

ENGAGE WITH US ON SOCIAL MEDIA!​​​​​​​

TUNE INTO OUR LIVESTREAM! – On Thursday, November 15th, Controversial Conversations: A story of collaboration between a Sikh and a skinhead. Listen and learn from this important discussion between a former extremist and leader in the white nationalist movement, Arno Michaelis, and his partner Pardeep Kaleka on how they moved beyond hate. Make sure to tune into Tanenbaum’s Facebook or Instagram for the livestream at 6pm that evening!

FOLLOW US ON SOCIAL MEDIA! – Keep up to date with interreligious understanding news and events by following us on social media! Followers receive regular updates about everything religion related from around the world, as well as local interreligious activities and conversations from across the nation.

SHARE, COMMENT, REPOST! – When you engage in the conversation, you help us as we keep working to make a better world.

Tree of Life – Pittsburgh Synagogue

Friends–

With a heavy heart, Tanenbaum condemns the violence that erupted yesterday morning at the Tree of Life Synagogue near Pittsburgh. At least eleven are dead. Families irrevocably shattered. At least six injured. And a shooter who was reportedly making anti-Semitic comments as this slaughter unfolded.

The scale and gravity of this attack, coming only a week after bomb threats, scares all of us—as Americans and as individuals from a variety of minority religious tradition in our diverse country. This shooting is part of a larger pattern in which people are being targeted for their beliefs—religious and also social and political.

Bigotry and violence have no place in America. The discourse that divides, dehumanizes and demeans civility lays the groundwork for violence. That is why we must all stand shoulder to shoulder with those who exercise their sacred right to pray together, to practice their faith, to peacefully assemble, and to advocate for their beliefs.

Tanenbaum strongly urges all communities and groups to reject the violence of hate and the discourse that breeds it. This includes the anti-Semitism so horrifically visible at the Tree of Life Synagogue. Our hearts are with all those who lost loved ones and were injured. Our commitment is to you and to our national values.

We stand—always—for a world that respects and protects our differences—including our different ways of believing.

 


Image: Vector Illustration

Education Matters! Reflections on Combating Extremism!

Friends,

What we learn today, shapes the world we live in tomorrow. And whether we can engage in critical discussions based on facts will make all the difference.

That’s why our Combating Extremism campaign exists – to provide objective analysis, facts and questions to ponder. We wanted to know if you agreed, and sent a survey to hear what you really think!

More than 55% of those who responded agreed…Education Matters! You think it’s the most important tool for combating extremism and hate. But you also had other things to say. Take a look at what you’ve learned so far – and some of the things that surprised you!

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

By learning, listening and asking hard questions….we can find a path to respect,

Joyce Dubensky,
CEO, Tanenbaum

Photo credit: Adam Patterson | Panos/DFID

Reflections on September 11

Dear Friends,

For 17 years, I have paused on this day to remember the traumatic events of 9/11—and the nearly 3,000 victims from a vast array of religions and beliefs who we lost that day.

9/11 is a marked day for our nation. But it’s also an opportunity to reflect on what has happened since that tragic day. Like the overwhelming spread of disinformation and the embedding of deeply rooted stereotypes that breed hate, division and injustice.

As Martin Luther King Jr. so aptly stated:

The function of education is to teach one to think intensively and to think critically. Intelligence plus character – that is the goal of true education.

On this solemn anniversary, we invite you to take another look at our September 11 Fact Sheet, updated last year. It reminds us not only to feel intensively on 9/11—but also to think intensively and critically.

Genocide Finally Named in Scathing UN Report

Dear Friends,

This week, the U.N. released a report that calls for Myanmar’s military leaders to be prosecuted for genocide due to the ruthless and inhumane treatment of the Rohingya, a minority group from Myanmar.

What is happening to the Rohingya?

In Myanmar, religious and ethnic hatred has forced 700,000 Muslim Rohingya to fearfully flee their homes. This hatred was fueled, in part, by extremist Buddhist monks, who see the Rohingya as a religious and ethnic threat.

While this crisis may seem recent, it’s unfortunately part of a much longer story. At Tanenbaum, we’ve been watching this nightmare unfold. Given the new report, we are reissuing the following resources we created in late 2017:

The Rohingya crisis is a stark reminder that extremism touches people from all religions. By combating extremism anywhere, we combat extremism everywhere,

Joyce S. Dubensky
CEO, Tanenbaum


Image: UNHCR/Roger Arnold

Sharia: Just the Facts

Dear Friends,
Do you know…
What Sharia is really all about? How it’s practiced? What it means in the U.S.?
Questions about Sharia are everywhere—in homes and schools, state legislatures and even our courts. These questions need fact-based answers. It’s the only way to move past our cultural assumptions and stereotypes.
That’s why Tanenbaum’s Combating Extremism campaign created a fact sheet addressing common questions about Sharia! Explore its similarities to Judaism’s Halakah, and Catholicism’s canon law. See how Sharia is one more piece of America’s beautiful religious diversity!
Join us to stop hate and Combat Extremism. Let’s get talking!
With an open heart—and open ears,
Joyce S. Dubensky
CEO, Tanenbaum ​​​​​​​
P.S. Whether you convene a formal conversation, engage in an off-the-cuff discussion with family, friends, or colleagues, or simply review and/or pass along Tanenbaum’s Combating Extremism resources on social media or in person, we encourage you to send an email tocombatingextremism@tanenbaum.org and let us know. And of course, please include stories including any on how your ideas or behavior (or anyone else’s) shifted.
P.P.S. When you support Tanenbaum, you help us in the battle for a world where people across beliefs live side by side, free from extremism, persecution and hate.

Image credit Ilmgate

Preventing Syria’s Next Massacre – Guest post by Hind Kabawat

This article was published on Medium by Tanenbaum Peacemaker in Action, Hind Kabawat, on July 31, 2018


As I walked among the tombstones that demarcate the Srebrenica Genocide Memorial for the infamous 1995 massacre, I could not help but draw parallels with my country’s own conflict. These 8,000 innocent Bosniak Muslims, left to be slaughtered by Bosnian Serb troops under the command of Ratko Mladic, demonstrate the deadly consequences of the international community’s failure to protect civilians occupying the UN’s declared “Safe Haven” zone. I fear that it is this same fate that may befall some of the millions of civilians currently residing in Syria’s Idlib province.

For the past year and a half, the Idlib region has served as a safe haven for other regions of Syria that have seen violent conflict. As Bashar al-Assad’s offensive has seized control of most of Syria within the past year and a half using military aggression with the support of Iranian fighters, as well as aerial bombardment by their Russian allies, in areas such as Homs, Eastern Ghouta, and most recently Daraa, opposition groups have acquiesced to ‘reconciliation’ agreements under the condition that any opposition fighters or civilians unable or unwilling to live under regime control be granted the option to relocate to Idlib. These fighters, their families, and countless civilians have been transported in buses by the Syrian regime under the supervision of Russian forces from their homes to the Idlib province, in what is far from an act of reconciliation but rather a targeted practice of forced displacement and “demographic engineering”, which is a violation of Rule 129 of Customary International Humanitarian Law.

The population of Idlib, which once numbered around 750,000, has swelled to nearly 3.5 million in recent years due to the influx of internally displaced people seeking safety and security. Currently, the province is a distorted reflection of the diverse Syrian nation that existed prior to Bashar al-Assad’s violent crackdown on his own populace, containing Syrians from all over the country and from different ethnicities and religious groups. While a certain percentage of Idlib residents are members of armed opposition groups and an extremist presence exists in the form of Tahrir al-Sham (HTS) and a select few other radical groups, the vast majority of the province is populated by civilians. It is these individuals whose safety is of immediate concern.

While Idlib has been the evacuation point for the rest of Syria, there no longer remains anywhere for civilians to evacuate to in the event of an attack by the Syrian regime. Over 3 million refugees have entered Turkey since the Syrian conflict began, stretching Turkey beyond its ability to take in and care for those fleeing to its southern border, and there is no safe passage or open border elsewhere that residents of Idlib can hope to reach. Thus when the regime turns its eye to Idlib, which as of July 27, 2018 Bashar al-Assad directly stated his intention to do, these civilians will be trapped and left to be caught in to crossfire of the regime’s campaign against northern opposition groups.

According to the Geneva Conventions of 1949 and their Additional Protocols of 1977, civilians and all persons not taking part in combat may under no circumstances be the object of attack. The Syrian regime has repeatedly demonstrated its contempt for these laws, directly targeting civilian infrastructure such as hospitals and schools while also detaining civilians and peaceful protesters. As of July of this year, the regime has released more than 7,000 death certificates for detainees that bear evidence of their death under torture, demonstrating the confidence acquired by Bashar al-Assad’s continued impunity for his repeated war crimes and crimes against humanity.

Without international intervention, once the Syrian regime consolidates its hold in the country’s southern provinces, they will turn northward towards Idlib while maintaining their narrative that the province is under the sole control of al-Nusra despite clear evidence to the contrary. In line with his prior military tactics, observers and military experts expect this campaign will be marked by heavy aerial bombardment by Russian forces, targeting of civilian infrastructure such as schools and hospitals, and the use of chemical weapons. With nowhere else left to flee, millions of Syrians would be sitting targets.

With each disturbing image released from the Syrian conflict, of children pulled from piles of rubble and of mutilated corpses of women, men, and children detained by the Syrian government, the world has decried the brutality of the Syrian conflict and vowed to take action. The civilians, women, and children of Idlib standing waiting for those nations to fulfill their vow, or to leave them to their fate at the hands of a government whose repeated war crimes have been extensively documented, just as the people of Srebrenica did in 1995.

This article was written by Tanenbaum Peacemaker in Action, Hind Kabawat


Image: Srebrenica-Potočari Memorial. Credit: Remembering Srebrenica