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No More Charlottesvilles!

Photo Credit: Michael Nigro

Friends,

At Saturday’s white nationalist “Unite the Right” rally in Charlottesville, Virginia, counter-protestors put their lives at risk and stood up to hate. After they chanted, “…No KKK! No fascist USA,” a white supremacist responded, “Too late f — —kers.” My response?

Well sir, I—and the millions like me who stand for respect and inclusion—are here to tell you that you are gravely mistaken. When it comes to fighting for what is right: 

It is NEVER too late.

In fact, I’ll go one step further. I see yesterday as a beginning. No longer can anyone deny that U.S. terrorism is a disease that infects people across race and religion. Plowing a car into an innocent group of people for political ends is terrorism. It is the same heinous act everywhere, whether in Charlottesville by a white man known as a Nazi sympathizer or in London by an ISIS supporter born in the country he attacked.

Charlottesville was terrorism. Plain and simple. And everyone, including our national leaders, must acknowledge and treat it as such.

Together, let’s show those who say it’s too late—that actually—we’re just getting started.

Joyce S. Dubensky
CEO

P.S. People from many backgrounds are responsible for terrorism. Look here to better understand it.

P.P.S. White Supremacy is a phenomenon that exists among our fellow citizens. Understand its complexity and how it perpetuates hate here.

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.

The Survivor Tree: A story of resilience from 9/11

survivortree_bloomingin2010_911memorialdotorg

The Survivor Tree, 2010 | 911Memorial.org

The tree’s branches were severed but a few green leaves remained, each leaf a sign of life against the blackened sky. On that day, we grieved as New Yorkers, and global citizens, for the innocent lives lost and the knowledge that in many ways, life would never be the same.

The Survivor Tree, November 2001 | 911Memorial.org/

The Survivor Tree, November 2001 | 911Memorial.org

The tree was carefully removed from the World Trade Center site and it began to recover, sprouting new branches and flourishing in the sun. Replanted at the 9/11 Memorial, in the spring, it’s white flowers spread across the sky, honoring the victims and reminding us of our strength when we stand together.

Together, we are a strong, resilient nation, just like The Survivor Tree.

By Nicole Margaretten


To view a slideshow of the Survivor Tree’s transformation, please visit the 911 Memorial’s gallery.

 

United Against Hate

Dear Friends,

With resolute condemnation, Tanenbaum acknowledges the news of another terror attack. It is with a heavy-heart that we mourn the slaughter of 36 innocent people and pray for the 147 others now known to be injured at the Istanbul Ataturk Airport in Turkey.

While those responsible and the motivation remains unclear (both the PKK, a Kurdish organization seeking independence from Turkey, and the Islamic State are suspect) – what remains absolute is that we not fall into the easy trap of assigning blame without knowing the facts. We must not resort to stereotypes and hateful rhetoric. We know where they lead. Too often, to harassment and violence against our Muslim neighbors and those perceived to be Muslim.

Instead, we ask that you join us in standing by our Muslim friends and community members. You can help us create a world grounded in respect and inclusivity.

In short order, we will learn more about the perpetrators. For now, let us remember the victims as the details of this barbaric incident unfold. Let us focus our thoughts on condolences for the families of the deceased, and our prayers for the injured and all affected in Turkey. 

Terrorists, like those who targeted innocent people in Istanbul today, want to make us feel powerless. At Tanenbaum, we will not. We ask you to join us in creating a united front against their hate, more empowered than before.

In sorrow, but with a firm resolve,

Joyce S. Dubensky,
CEO, Tanenbaum

Once again, say NO to Terrorism!

Dear Friends,

Yesterday morning, it happened again. We awoke to the horror, pain and anguish of another act of terrorism, this time the deadliest mass shooting in modern U.S. history. The numbers are startling. At least 49 people dead and 53 injured from an attack that occurred at Pulse, a gay club in Orlando during Pride month. So many people, so many families, so many communities destroyed in only a few moments.

Just before the shooting, the assailant, Omar Saddiqui Mateen, reportedly called 911 and pledged allegiance to ISIS. Though Mateen had twice been a person of interest to the FBI, no one saw this slaughter coming. And so, it happened once again on American soil.

Sunday’s massacre at Pulse is clearly an act of terrorism, fueled by unimaginable hatred. At Tanenbaum, we stand in solidarity with the people of Orlando but, also, with the people of the LGBTQ community who are being targeted by violence, once again. Indeed, for this community, the violence is both terrorism and a hate crime.

We know that, in times like these, it’s easy to fall back on stereotypes. Across the news, we hear national voices using them. We hear the voices of division, warning us that if one Muslim is a terrorist, we must fear all. But that is wrong. And we know better. As Americans, it’s our responsibility to make sure that we do not conflate Islam and followers of that tradition with Mateen’s horrific actions. And that we do not forget that haters in other shapes and sizes exist, and that they are also dangerous.

We are at a critical moment in our history. The choice is ours. We must not allow terrorism and hatred to destroy our communities. This is a complex and difficult moment. There are many contributing factors to the growing hatred, division and random violence we fear and experience.

But one thing is certain. Our nation is great because of our shared humanity and great diversity. The massacre at Pulse is an attack against all of us. And that means it is the responsibility of each of us to defy the terrorists. We must refuse to let fear turn to unjust distrust and hatred of our neighbors. The time to stand together is now. And in one voice say, No to hate!

In sorrow, but with a firm resolve,

Joyce S. Dubensky
CEO, Tanenbaum

Revisiting “Yes, I Am Afraid”

Earlier this month Tanenbaum’s CEO Joyce Dubensky penned an Op-Ed in the Huffington Post titled Yes, I Am Afraid. The article expressed a sentiment that evoked responses from many readers and we wanted to share some of their comments with you.

A look at history – compassion combats hate:

“These are frightening and dangerous times. ISIS and others are spreading terror in the Middle East, Europe, Africa, Asia, and here in the U.S. Some are claiming to “fight” this by proposing actions as un-American, dangerous, as these terrorists…playing right into their hands.

Cheering crowds at speeches calling for the banning of all Muslims from the U.S. remind many, including Germans, of what happened with the Nazis in the pre-World War II period. This also bears a striking resemblance to the McCarthy era. While it is natural for people to group together with others of the same background, especially in times such as these, it is not the right answer.

The big question is what will happen as we go forward…will more people be infected with hate? Will the bad side win? I think not, history shows us not.

The compassion of all major religions (do unto others as you would have them do to you)—The American way of life which has served as a beacon of hope to the whole world for more than 250 years: Life, freedom, and the pursuit of happiness— always have ultimately won. Let’s overcome our fears, stay true to the right human principles, and we will win again.”

– American journalist

The goal of fear is power:

“Fear is most dangerous environment for human beings – nothing does so [much to] dehumanize people as fear. In our war in Bosnia I discovered the evil of fear when I was facing dehumanized soldiers— they were product of fear.

One German theologian Drewermann finds that opposite to faith is not unfaith, but fear.  [The] Bible is full  of warnings and encouragements: Don’t be afraid.

Terrorism is spreading of fear (fear = terror) with goal to have power on people. Many politicians and religious leaders spread out fear convincing people that they are endangered so expecting to have power on them. All humans who put people in ambient of fear are criminals, terrorists.

Our Peacemaker mission is to unmask production of fear as it is in a manner of peace witness. We Peacemakers are an alternative to fear– while we don’t allow fear to settle down in us, encouraging people not to be victims of fear.

Religions are very opportune tool for spreading fear – religions as ambient of God’s presence are most positive strength in the world, but misuse of religions is most dangerous evil in the world.

There is no Islamic terrorism, but there is misuse of Islam in politics and war. What is happening now inIslam we Christians had more times in history, and also other religions. We have to learn something from the history.”

Friar Ivo Markovic

Reflections on disproportionate fear:

“I think it is important to not “be afraid” and realize there is a difference between not wanting something to occur and being afraid of that occurring. Fear, except in the acute instances of immediate danger, is a most unwelcome emotion.  Most scientists have shown how bad it can be for our chronic health, and how it can lead to horribly bad decisions as your brain becomes hijacked by its reptilian origins.

More importantly, people need to understand that there are other more effective ways of expressing a negative want. If you don’t want something to occur, like a terrorist attack, there are reasonable things that can be done to prevent them. But people have to also understand that all attempts insure ourselves against such danger have costs. The cost of living in perpetual fear is a society where trust has eroded and everyone looks over their shoulders. Even if we prevent such horrible things such as terrorist attacks, we still have to live in such a trustless society. That doesn’t seem like a win-win. In fact, it is clearly a lose-lose.

To put this in perspective, let’s look at two other kinds of risk that somehow people are OK with — driving cars and the huge amount of guns prevalent in America. We all know that about 30,000 people will die in car accidents and another several hundred thousand will be seriously injured. We can immediately put in place a policy that would reduce this tremendously, by reducing driving speeds to 25 mph everywhere, for example. Similarly, we can put an end to the majority of gun violence tomorrow if we just agree to confiscate all civilian owned guns. Both are unacceptable to our society because we’ve collectively decided that fear isn’t worth it — that bad outcomes is a reasonable price to pay for our freedom.

What is shocking about the response to Islamic extremism and terror is that people haven’t come to similar conclusions. That is, that some acts of terror (and other crimes) will always be possible in an open trusting society, and that is a reasonable price to pay for having an open trusting society. People have decided to respond to this negative want with fear, and when fear enters the equation, the only response is the reptilian brain’s response, which is to do anything and everything to avoid and prevent what we’re afraid of.”

Tanenbaum supporter

Claiming the mantle of faith:

“I am a Christian and my color matters not. If a person claims to be a Christian but belongs to any hate group like the KKK or any other group hating certain peoples than they are not Christians based on God’s written word. Don’t be afraid of those hate groups because that is how they grow. When we give in to fear we than start looking at groups of people we might want to join to protect ourselves but in turn we become one of the groups we fear.”

– Paolo Vescovi

Proclaim Enough – Paris Reflections

Peace for Paris

Illustration by Jean Jullien

Dear Friends,

Today is a day filled with sorrow. As once again, our hearts are broken for the more than 120 innocents murdered across Paris. We ache for them, for their families and friends, and for their nation which is under siege.

Today is a day when we stand in solidarity with the French people from all walks of life and diverse beliefs. In one voice, we denounce the violent extremists – apparently ISIS followers – who claim “credit” for butchering people just going about their lives in restaurants, concerts and as they moved across their city.

We also mourn and draw attention to the over 40 Lebanese deliberately slaughtered only days ago – including Sh’ia Muslims, Christians and Druse – by two ISIS suicide bombers in Beirut.

We remember in profound sorrow the Israelis and Palestinians – Jews, Christians and Muslims – who are dying amid a rapidly escalating cycle of condemnation, division and violence in their homeland.

We recognize the Muslim and Christian Syrians who are desperately seeking to escape from the horrors that ISIS and others are inflicting on them in what was once a thriving nation.

And we must not allow ourselves to forget Aylan Kurdi, the Syrian toddler who we all mourned, when he washed onto a beach as his family sought to escape the constant terror that Syrians now face.

Today, with one voice, we must remember the horror of Paris and horrors across our globe. But we must do more. We must reaffirm our commitment to the core values in our many traditions and beliefs, and to our shared humanity.

There are many possible responses to today’s horror in Paris. Sadness fills us. But this is also a time to recommit to one another. To standing together amid our many differences, to honoring our neighbors and joining with them to stand against the aberrant extremism that threatens us all.

Let us stand together and, with strength, proclaim enough!

Joyce S. Dubensky
CEO