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

Tanenbaum named 2018 Nissan Foundation Grant Recipient

To download the press release, please click here.


Tanenbaum Center for Interreligious Understanding named 2018 Nissan Foundation Grant Recipient

  • Nissan Foundation grant to fund “Combating Extremism and Promoting Respect: A Public Education Campaign” aimed at promoting critical thinking, conversation and reflection to address religious-based fear, misinformation and prejudice.

  • In 26th year, Nissan Foundation maintains its singular focus on recognizing nonprofits promoting
    respect among racial and cultural groups

New York, NY, July, 2018: The Nissan Foundation today named the Tanenbaum Center for Interreligious Understanding as a 2018 grant recipient. The Nissan Foundation grant will help fund partnership building efforts to expand the campaign’s reach, including a public panel featuring experts and former members of extremist groups, as well as six new resources that counter extremist rhetoric, and promote connection, critical thinking and understanding for the diversity within our communities.

“We are grateful to the Nissan Foundation for supporting our Campaign to counter fear and misinformation with knowledge that fosters respect for difference,” said Mark Fowler, Deputy CEO of Tanenbaum, “This grant will help us build new partnerships and opportunities to extend the campaign’s reach and impact.”    

The Nissan Foundation’s 2018 grantees include 29 nonprofit organizations located in Southern California, North Central Texas, Middle Tennessee, Central Mississippi, Eastern Michigan and the New York and Atlanta metro areas. In total, the Nissan Foundation is awarding grants amounting to $730,000.

In 1992, Nissan North America formed the Nissan Foundation in response to the civil unrest that occurred near Nissan’s then U.S. headquarters in Southern California following the Rodney King trial verdict. Every year since, the Nissan Foundation has awarded hundreds of thousands of dollars to organizations that offer educational programs that inform, inspire and celebrate diversity among the various cultural and ethnic groups that make up society.

Over its 26-year history, the Nissan Foundation has awarded more than $10 million to approximately 120 organizations promoting respect and understanding among cultural and ethnic groups.

It is a privilege to recognize the Tanenbaum Center for Interreligious Understanding with a Nissan Foundation grant for the work it is doing to promote the value of racial, ethnic and cultural diversity,” said Nissan Foundation President Scott Becker, who is also senior vice president, Administration, Nissan North America, Inc. “The Nissan Foundation has a proud history of recognizing and supporting organizations making a real impact in this regard.”

The Tanenbaum Center for Interreligious Understanding, founded 25 years ago and based in Lower Manhattan, offers programs and resources providing educators, physicians and corporate leaders with practical tools for addressing religious differences and creating cultures that respect religious diversity. It was founded in

1992 by Dr. Georgette F. Bennett, in memory of her late husband, Rabbi Marc H. Tanenbaum, a humanitarian interfaith leader.

Since September 2015, Tanenbaum has been responding to the further escalation of Islamophobia and other forms of hate that marginalizes religious communities in New York and beyond. Through a public education campaign called Combating Extremism, Tanenbaum creates and disseminates public education materials that address fear, misinformation and prejudice. These monthly materials provide thought-provoking resources to counter divisive rhetoric, promote critical thinking and spread greater appreciation and understanding of our shared values amid diverse religious (and nonreligious) beliefs.

Mark Fowler, Tanenbaum’s Deputy CEO added, “The Nissan Foundation has been a valuable partner in our work to create spaces in our communities for mutual respect and understanding. We are thankful for their continued support.”

Call for 2019 grant applicants

The Nissan Foundation will begin accepting letters of intent for the 2019 grant cycle in October with a submission deadline of Friday, Oct. 26. Nissan Foundation grants are awarded annually; the next grants will be awarded in June 2019.

For more information about the Nissan Foundation and its application process, visit the Nissan Foundation page at https://goo.gl/e3hkuf.

About the Tanenbaum Center for Interreligious Understanding

Based in New York City, Tanenbaum is a secular, non-sectarian nonprofit that promotes mutual respect with practical programs that bridge religious difference and combat prejudice in schools, workplaces, health care settings, and conflict zones. More information about Tanenbaum’s offerings can be found here: https://tanenbaum.org/.

About the Nissan Foundation

Established in 1992, the mission of the Nissan Foundation is to build community through valuing cultural diversity. The Nissan Foundation is part of Nissan North America’s commitment to “enrich people’s lives” by helping to meet the needs of communities throughout the U.S. through philanthropic investments, corporate outreach sponsorships, in-kind donations and other charitable contributions.

About Nissan North America

In North America, Nissan’s operations include automotive styling, engineering, consumer and corporate financing, sales and marketing, distribution and manufacturing. Nissan is dedicated to improving the environment under the Nissan Green Program and has been recognized annually by the U.S Environmental Protection Agency as an ENERGY STAR® Partner of the Year since 2010. More information on Nissan in North America and the complete line of Nissan and Infiniti vehicles can be found online at www.NissanUSA.com and www.InfinitiUSA.com, or visit the U.S. media sites NissanNews.com and InfinitiNews.com.

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Hear Our #FoundingFathers!

Dear Friends,

There will be lots of July 4th talk on Twitter in the coming days… So we put together a Combating Extremism Resource for July 4th Tweeting about our #FoundingFathers and what they had to say about liberty – including religious liberty. Please take a look!

If any appeal to you, please tweet for our founding principles.

To a happy July 4th,

Joyce S. Dubensky
CEO, Tanenbaum


Image Credit: Wikimedia Commons

Our Neighbors, Our Border

Dear Friends,

Across our nation, we are agonizing—and debating—the fate of children being torn from their parents at our border. This is a policy debate. It is a moral debate. And, it is a religious debate. How we read and understand our faith traditions is fueling our views. How we respond reveals our core values.

Today, is World Refugee Day.

It is a time to remember how our many traditions require us to care for the stranger. To encourage Congress to act and to affirm the Governors who will not let their National Guard participate in the separation of families. It is also time to make sure we are informed. To help, Tanenbaum has updated its Combating Extremism resource, A Q&A on Refugees.

We can call the children at our border, and their parents, many names. Often, refugee, asylum seeker, migrant and undocumented are appropriate. But so is stranger. Let’s welcome them and treat them as each of us would want to be treated.

Doing so would honor our traditions,

Joyce S. Dubensky
CEO, Tanenbaum


Image Credit: John Moore / Getty Images

BREAKING NEWS! A Katie Couric, Tanenbaum & Nat Geo Alliance

Dear Friends:

BREAKING NEWS! You can now find Tanenbaum’s Diversity in Islam fact sheet in National Geographic’s official Partner Toolkit for the second episode of Katie Couric’s docuseries America Inside Out, currently airing on National Geographic TV.

Episode two, “The Muslim Next Door,” airs on Nat Geo TV tonight at 10/9c. We encourage you to watch, and then order your free Partner Toolkit, which provides a copy of “The Muslim Next Door” and Tanenbaum’s fact sheet so you can host an informed discussion about this critical topic: What is it really like to be Muslim in America? What does it mean to be American?

Katie Couric and Nat Geo tell us that half of Americans say they have never met a Muslim. It is long overdue that we get to know “The Muslim Next Door.” Here’s an episode sneak peek.

Watch TV to be a more informed, inclusive citizen? Count us in!

Tune In,
Joyce S. Dubensky
CEO

P.S. Please share our NEWS on social media. Let your friends, neighbors and colleagues know we invite them to host a discussion about this issue. Anyone can get a free copy of “The Muslim Next Door” and our Diversity in Islam fact sheet (part of Tanenbaum’sCombating Extremism campaign).

P.P.S. MALA, a fellow America Inside Out partner, invites all Muslims to help elevate public dialogue on Muslim-American identity in the 21st Century by sharing their story. This storytelling campaign aims to empower the narrative of American Muslim’s vast and thriving contribution to the diverse fabric of our nation’s society.

The Right Way to Talk about Extremism & Religion

Dear Friends:

There is no other way to say it. Extremism is rising as our country grows more polarized. Church shootings. Synagogue desecration. Muslim and Sikh youth harassed. Equally troubling are the countless other injustices that fail to make the headlines. It can feel unsurmountable, but there is hope.

Over two years ago, we launched Tanenbaum’s Combating Extremism campaign to get us talking and listening to one another—and especially to those whose beliefs and ideologies differ from our own. Because that is where the hope lies. In each of us.

This means taking responsibility for what we know—and what we don’t. And it means finding out the real facts.

That’s why our Combating Extremism resources are designed to counter misinformation and/or our lack of information about some of today’s most pressing and complex religion-related issues. So that our conversations are based on accurate, objective facts.

To help you share—and discuss—what you learn from these resources in positive ways, Tanenbaum created a “How To” guide for this installment of Combating Extremism:

Guidelines for Conducting Open Conversations; and
Guidelines for Conducting Open Conversations – A Summary

Based on Tanenbaum’s 25 years of work, we know that conversations are critical to bridging divides, which can help prevent individuals from feeling marginalized—a risk factor believed to increase some people’s susceptibility to extremist ideology.

Join us in our efforts 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 to combatingextremism@tanenbaum.org and let us know. Please include stories that highlight how your ideas or behavior (or those of other participants) shifted, if available, as a result.

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.