Thanksgiving & American Indian Wisdom, Quotes & Prayers – Combating Extremism

Dear Friends:

For many of us, the end of November is a time for visiting with family and dear friends, and thinking of the people and things that make us grateful. But often for the American Indian community, it’s different. For many of them, Thanksgiving is a holiday that ignores, and even celebrates, their history of suffering. Suffering that still reverberates today.

For example … did you know that just last May, two young Native men were run over by a white man allegedly shouting racial slurs? Or that Native People are being targeted by white supremacists and right-wing extremists—something we rarely see in the news.

At this moment of gratitude with loved ones, I want to ask you to pause and consider the American Indian experience.

As a starting point, please take a look at this month’s installment of Combating Extremism—and see some short but powerful reminders of American Indian Wisdom, Quotes and Prayers.

To successfully combat hate and ignorance, we must be proactive in learning about each other. Only by recognizing our cultural assumptions will we reduce the stereotypes and ‘othering’ that perpetuate hatred—including toward American Indians.

With gratitude,

Joyce S. Dubensky
CEO

P.S. Since 1970, an organization known as Native Americans of New England has recognized Thanksgiving as their National Day of Mourning. To acknowledge the glaring omission of the American Indian narrative from our traditional Thanksgiving celebrations, the U.S. government made November Native American Heritage Month. And Black Friday is now also known as Native American Heritage Day.

P.P.S There are over 550 American Indian and Alaskan Native tribes in the U.S.

P.P.P.S. Speaking for myself, and everyone at Tanenbaum, we’re grateful for all of you. Thank you for being part of our community, and supporting our work.

Myanmar: When Nationalism Gets Violent – Combating Extremism

Dear Friends:

Often, it is easy to feel disconnected from world events. But what we are seeing in Myanmar, fervent nationalism—at the expense of religious respect for diversity—is tragically, and dangerously, a current global phenomenon.

Since we sent you our most recent Combating Extremism campaign resources about the Rohingya Crisis only a few weeks ago, the U.N. Secretary-General has called for Myanmar to grant the Rohingya, now a stateless people, legal status. He has also called for an end to the violence against the Rohingya, and for the more than 600,000 Rohingya refugees in Bangladesh to return home—though many of their homes were burned to the ground.

The crisis is still so severe that two U.S. Congressmen have publicly called for the U.S. to take action to help end the ethnic cleansing. And there are also reports that U.S. senators are looking to pass legislation that sanctions the Myanmarese military and their business interests.

To fully understand this crisis—and other crises in which religion and nationality are linked—it is important to understand the history of a people. That is why for this month’s installment of Combating Extremism, we dig even deeper into the Rohingya Crisis and Rohingya identity.

With vigilance,
Joyce S. Dubensky
CEO

Rohingya: On the Brink of Genocide – Combating Extremism

Photo Credit: Kevin Frayer | Getty Images

Dear Friends:

The photos are heart-wrenching. In one, a woman embraces the lifeless body of a toddler. In another, a teary-eyed young boy holds out his hand, desperate for food. These are the faces of the Rohingya, a Muslim minority community in Myanmar—now facing ethnic cleansing. Maybe you’ve seen their faces in the news:

Persecuted by Buddhist extremists for decades, the Rohingya are also part of one of the largest refugee communities in the United States.

That is why, for this month’s installment of Combating Extremism, we invite you to learn more about the Rohingya and to start a conversation in your community about extremism and this crisis:

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

In solidarity,

Joyce S. Dubensky
CEO

P.S.: If you want to support the Rohingya, here is a list of organizations taking action.

P.P.S.: And if you want to support Tanenbaum’s work in bringing clarity to these complex issues, please donate here.

Remembering 9/11-Reflections on Nonviolence

Friends,

On this 16th anniversary of September 11th, I chose to commemorate the tragic day by rejecting aloud the idea that violence is the core language of humankind. Instead, it is nonviolence—a transformational force acknowledged by many faiths and belief traditions—that resonates with me and that has moved mountains throughout history.

Drawing strength from their own faith’s perspectives, icons like Martin Luther King Jr., Mahatma Gandhi, and Nelson Mandela, as well as Tanenbaum’s lesser-known Peacemakers in Action, prove that nonviolence is an effective and loving way to combat oppression, violence and extremism in our time.

Learn more about the various ways our religious beliefs address nonviolence from our latest Combating Extremism resources:

Nonviolent resistance… avoids not only external physical violence but also internal violence of spirit. The nonviolent resister not only refuses to shoot his opponent but he also refuses to hate him.

–Rev. Martin Luther King, Jr., “An Experiment in Love”

In Remembrance,
Joyce S. Dubensky, CEO

Talking Terrorism…Did You Know? – Combating Extremism

Dear Friends,

Did you know that between 2006-2011, 82-97% of terrorism victims worldwide were Muslim?

It’s the truth. So, why have most of us never heard this type of information? To help remedy this situation, please check out this month’s Combating Extremism materials and take a dive into facts about terrorism that go beyond the headlines.

Read, share, and discuss… Because reforming this world requires informing this world.

Joyce S. Dubensky
CEO

P.S. We want to hear from you! Let us know what in the fact sheet worries, inspires, or surprises you. And use this fact sheet to start a conversation with friends about what you’ve learned!

P.P.S. Please encourage friends, neighbors, educators and community leaders to sign up to receive our free Combating Extremism materials.

5 Reflections on London and Virginia

Flowers left in memory for the victims of the attack at Finsbury Park Mosque. June 2017 | Getty Images

Dear friends,

Once again, on a Monday morning, we awoke to news that made us stop in our tracks— terrorism and the slaughter of a 17-year-old girl on Father’s Day because she was Muslim. Again, we mourn and extend our condolences to the families, friends and communities who are suffering these losses most directly.

Below are my 5 Reflections on London and Virginia:

  1. I am heartsick. But I also realize that the volume of the horrors has a numbing effect on too many of us.
  2. As numbness to the deaths sets in, fear is escalating at the randomness with which terrorism and hate crimes are becoming a daily norm.
  3. Terrorism is not limited to any one group or ethnicity. Just look at the perpetrators of these two crimes and you’ll see what I mean.
  4. Terrorism targets all of us— including Muslims.
  5. And the question… How is it that London and Virginia grab at our heartstrings— but we barely notice atrocities in Afghanistan, Iraq, Egypt, Somalia, India, etc.?

With great sorrow,

Joyce S. Dubensky
Tanenbaum CEO

Safe but Scared in Kabul – Tanenbaum Peacemaker Jamila Afghani

Tanenbaum Peacemaker Jamila Afghani, Afghanistan

Yesterday morning’s deadly truck bombing in Kabul was a horrific tragedy. At Tanenbaum, it’s also personal.

The explosion, which killed more than 80 people and wounded hundreds more, shook Kabul as our Peacemaker Jamila Afghani was on her way to work. When we reached her later in the day, Jamila was at home with her family and all were safe. Safe, but very scared. They live close enough to the bomb blast that all her windows were smashed, and the walls cracked open.

At Tanenbaum, we work with Peacemakers from around the world like Jamila, who pursue peace in the places where violence and conflict are the norm. Jamila focuses on improving the lives of women and girls in Afghanistan, despite the violence and constant threats. She is a woman of faith and fearless vision. But on a day like today, her only words were that the bombing was “extremely terrifying” and that it struck “fear in my heart.”

As we continue to mourn the attacks in Manchester, Cairo, and Portland, we must remember those killed and injured in Kabul.

Terrorism has no bounds. It strikes with ferocity. By remembering all the victims, survivors and their families whether in Manchester or Kabul, we align with those who oppose hatred and terror. By acknowledging the random impact of terror on people from all backgrounds, nationalities and religions, we lay claim to our humanity.

Today, we are reminded that greater security and protection for civilians in Kabul and throughout Afghanistan is critically needed. As the international community takes action to stop the terror, let it remember the people of Kabul and the long Afghan war. Let us devote more resources to peacebuilding and diplomacy—and to advancing the work of religious Peacemakers like Jamila.

 


To read more about Tanenbaum Peacemaker Jamila Afghani, please visit her profile page here.

Violence continues against Egypt’s Coptic Christians

Egyptian Coptic Christians march on May 26, 2017, following a funeral for victims of Friday’s terror attack. | NBC News

Dear Friends,

This week, as Tanenbaum celebrated 25 years of combating religious hate, I felt compelled to begin our anniversary Gala with a moment of silence for the victims, their families and the people of Manchester. It is days later and the assault on Coptic Christians in Egypt has continued; this time a bus filled with men, women and children, traveling to a monastery in Minya province, were ambushed by gunmen in uniform.

The attacks in Manchester and Egypt were both claimed by ISIS – and Egypt has responded to this latest terror attack with airstrikes on training camps in Libya. Egypt’s Coptic community has suffered ongoing violence and terrorism since 2011, including the Palm Sunday church bombing in April.

Today, we stand with the Coptic Community in Egypt, with Christians worldwide, and with our global community, from all traditions and none.

We have a responsibility to bear witness and to do everything we can to stop hatred that fuels violence and terrorism. At times we may feel powerless, yet we have real impact as we practice respect and speak up for what is right in our own communities. This is a time to let our hearts be informed by real facts. Because if we don’t, we risk losing our own humanity to profound sadness and fear.

Joyce S. Dubensky,
Tanenbaum CEO

P.S. There are things you can do today. Learn more about the ancient Coptic Community in Egypt; Check out what is happening in the Middle East with Christian persecution; and support those working with refugees and to fight for justice.

Combating Extremism – A Dangerous Symbiosis

Dear Friends,

Last month, we shared information about a specific extremist ideology—white supremacy. But no extremist movement exists in a vacuum. With this month’s Combating Extremism materials, we take a look at extremism from another angle: how extremists on opposing sides invigorate each other.

Listen to reformed white supremacist Arno Michaelis in this month’s video resource: “Without that enemy, I don’t think we would have grown anywhere near as strong as we did or as fast as we did.”

After watching, let us know: Do you think Arno’s right? Or instead of the two sides fanning each other’s flames, are there ways for extremists to embrace respect and dignity for all?

I’d love to hear what you think…
Joyce S. Dubensky
CEO

P.S. Please download, share and use our monthly resources. Encourage friends, neighbors, educators and community leaders to sign up to receive our free Combating Extremism materials.

P.P.S. Also, check out Arno’s story and how he left his white supremacist life in this additional video interview.

Sunday Slaughter of Christians

Friends,

Today, on Palm Sunday, violent extremists struck at the heart of Coptic Christians, when suicide bombers killed at least 44 people and injured more than a hundred in two churches in Egypt. Both churches were filled with congregants, peacefully gathered to celebrate one of their holiest days.

ISIS claimed responsibility for the brutal attacks – crimes against humanity, this time, against a minority Christian community in the Middle East. Not only did these communities lose loved ones on this holy day, but the extremists tried to destroy the feeling of communal security that houses of worship can provide.

Tragically, these suicide bombings are not isolated events. Instead, they are the latest in a litany of attacks against Coptic Christians in recent decades, including the destruction of 40 Coptic Churches in 2013, the beheading of 21 Copts by ISIS in Libya in 2015, and the murder of 30 at a cathedral in Cairo last December.

Today, as we keep the Coptic Christian community in our thoughts, let us honor the victims by recalling the significance of the palm branch. For many, it’s a symbol of peace and victory.

Together, we can choose to define peace as more than just freedom from violence. We can define it as a world where justice is practiced, where differences of belief (or lack of belief) are respected, religious minorities are welcomed and their freedoms protected. Today, on what is a holy day for so many worldwide, let’s recommit to pursuing peace by accepting others and honoring the freedom of peaceful worship.

Wishing all who celebrate, a blessed Palm Sunday,

Joyce S. Dubensky
CEO