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.
- Women Who Pursue Peace and Justice: A resource sheet on the efforts of courageous, religiously-driven women in armed conflicts and in programs Combating Violent Extremism.
- Shared Visions: On Women: A reflection for the #MeToo movement—on how diverse faiths inspire respect for women.
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.
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!
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).
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.
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.
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:
- Martin Luther King Jr.: Faith and Nonviolent Protest: A fact sheet sharing the many ways King put his nonviolence values into action, the obstacles he encountered and his inspiring resolve.
- Questions for Consideration: A question sheet to use alongside “Rev. Martin Luther King Jr.: Faith and Nonviolent Protest” that can help guide reflection, discussion and study.
Hate and violence hold no answers for us,
Joyce S. Dubensky
|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.
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
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
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…
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!
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.
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:
- Guidelines for Conducting Open Conversations: A “How-To” guide to help you share and discuss all of our Combating Extremism resources.
- White Supremacy: An Overview: A comprehensive fact sheet about the varied white supremacist movements and groups.
- Opposition to Places of Worship and Religious Practices in the U.S.: See how historical opposition to places of worship affected so many communities and how it continues to do so…
- What is Fake News? Do You Know?: Fake News – the Five Key Takeaways
- Five Ways to Counter Extremists on Social Media: A “How To” resource sheet for rising above social media extremists and right-wing hate groups.
- Calls and Prayers for Peace and Justice: Read calls and prayers for peace and justice from many of the world’s great religions and philosophical traditions. They echo common threads that connect us, regardless of our different beliefs or lack of belief.
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 Initiative, Interfaith 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.
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