[Editor's Note: I want to thank David Thomson for his excellent commentary here on the situation regarding Rabbi Michael Lerner of Tikkun magazine and how it compares with my own plight here in Canada regarding B'nai Brith and their sec. 13 "hate crime" complaint made against myself and RadicalPress.com. Mr. Thomson's very thoughtful appraisal of the situation is most appreciated.]
It is always traumatic to be targeted by criminal elements. To be repeatedly targeted in the manner Rabbi Lerner and other devotees to Tikkun have been the target of death threats and the like, even prior to last nightÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s disturbing act of vandalism against the RabbiÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s home. Each and every incident can be looked on as separate acts to extort, all aiming to violate these peopleÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s rights to freedom of speech and freedom of expression.
Extortion is also a criminal act, is it not?
The only difference is all the physical evidence left to indicate motivation, this time, leading directly back to a highly suspect group of possible perpetrators who fit the personalities of those who drag hapless Canadians before the Canadian Human Rights Tribunal on charges of hate-crimes (anti-Semitic to be precise) where they happen to be critical of Israeli foreign policy, the traditional historical record and/or the rising State of Zionism.
Arthur Topham of www.radicalpress.com fame is one such Canadian currently accused of inciting hate, has been brought to task by a regular consumer of Ã¢â‚¬Å“human rightsÃ¢â‚¬Â products, one Harry Abram. Arthur claims among other things in his defense, that his reference to Ã¢â‚¬Å“ZionismÃ¢â‚¬Â and the Ã¢â‚¬Å“State of ZionismÃ¢â‚¬Â is purely political, not a religious or racial slur.
Yet here in your case, the police say that this is not a hate crime because it is aimed at your political stance against the State of Zionism, not your religious affiliation. Yet IÃ¢â‚¬â„¢ll venture to say that youÃ¢â‚¬â„¢ve been labeled as Ã¢â‚¬Å“a self-hating JewÃ¢â‚¬Â. That, to me, sounds Ã¢â‚¬Å“anti-SemiticÃ¢â‚¬Â.
Am I the only one who sees a glaring contradiction, here, between the definition being thrust upon Mr. Topham for his political views, and the definition that the police provided in your case, Rabbi Lerner?
If you ask me, in both ArthurÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s case and in yours, it all boils down to extorting our individual right to freedom of speech and expression, whether it is religious or political in nature. No one here is inciting hatred or violating the rights of others, except it seems, for some factions who sympathize with such extreme right-wing partisan actions as has been amply demonstrated by this latest attack on the freedoms of Rabbi Lerner, extending beyond his right to freedom of speech and political expression, violating his right to enjoy the peace, the tranquility, and the sanctity and security of his own home.
Naturally, this would extend to include Rabbi LernerÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s family, friends and colleagues, all of whom, as the police have pointed out, are also the targets in this latest attack against the efforts of any and all who support the good Rabbi in his efforts towards peace, harmony and love among all earthlings who inhabit this precious planet, people included, no matter what their race, religion or ethnicity. It could be argued that all of our common problems stem from irrational, conflicted, self-gratifying political ideologies.
Or as Howard Laswell put it: Politics: Who Gets What, When, How (1936), later penning The Garrison State (1941). Like both Rabbi Lerner and Arthur Topham, Laswell was wildly critiqued for publishing his daring perspective into the shape, the shapers and the purpose for evolving political ideologies. It is abundantly evident that for political ideologies to evolve as intended, open, intelligent debate simply will not be tolerated, as we head towards a globally-affected Ã¢â‚¬Å“garrison stateÃ¢â‚¬Â, populated by great masses of the Ã¢â‚¬Å“restless poorÃ¢â‚¬Â, and pacified by the military might of a privileged few. See: http://workingtv.com/jeff.halper.html
Those of us who stand firm on a common platform in support of peace, justice and equality for all, stand squarely in the way of all oppressive agendas. Oppression in all its forms is the primary strategy at work against us, and to exercise our right to speak the truth is our most versatile counter-strategy, both as a shield and to swing back with. The truth can only prevail once it has been amply revealed to that critical mass that gives such weight to the power of public opinion.
We have entered the age of the Ã¢â‚¬Å“computerized communications revolutionÃ¢â‚¬Â (David Korten, The Great Turning: From Empire to Earth Community). Never before have we had such power to contribute to the flow of information that shapes public opinion and inevitably, a social environment that can foster the birth of an Ã¢â‚¬Å“Earth CommunityÃ¢â‚¬Â. Thank you Rabbi Lerner and the folks at Tikkun.Org, Let us all take this opportunity to begin to think and articulate what this might look like.
Yours very truly,
725 Franklyn Road
Kelowna, British Columbia, Canada
Press Release: From Tikkun MagazineÃ‚Â Ã‚Â Ã‚Â Ã‚Â Contact: Will Pasley 510 644 1200
Rabbi Lerner’s Home Attacked by Right-Wing Zionists
Berkeley, Ca. May 3, 2010
Release date: May 4, 2010
Berkeley police today confirmed that the attack on Rabbi Lerner’s home late Sunday May 2nd or early morning Sunday May 3rd was in fact a crime and was being investigated.
The attackers used a powerful form of glue to attach posters to his door and around the property of his home attacking Lerner personally, and attacking liberals and progressives as being supporters of terrorism and “Islamo-fascism.” They posted a printed bumper sticker saying “fight terror–support Israel” next to a caricature of Judge Goldstone whose UN report on Israel’s human rights violations in its attack on Gaza last year has been denounced as anti-Semitic and pro-terror by right wingers in Israel and the U.S.. The caricature has Goldstone talking about his being kept from his grandson’s bar mitzvah, and the caricature of Rabbi Lerner responds by saying “any enemy of Israel is a friend of mine.” This attack and vandalism follows on a week filled with Lerner and Tikkun staff receiving hate mail, prompted apparently by Tikkun’s announcement that in case the South African Zionists had succeeded in preventing Judge Goldstone from attending his grandson’s bar mitzvah, as they threatened several weeks ago, that Rabbi Lerner would gladly hold the bar mitzvah in the SF Bay Area instead, and following Tikkun’s announcement that in light of Goldstone’s courageous willingness to stand up for human rights in Israel (his report called on the Israeli government to do its own independent, public and credibly objective investigation, punish those responsible for the crimes or show that they didn’t happen, and thereby show that these actions were not government policy but the mistakes or evil choices by people in the IDF who were acting as rogue elements and not as a manifestation of the people of Israel) that Tikkun will award our prestigious Tikkun Award to Judge Goldstone in 2011 at the event celebrating our 25th anniversary! This story, which was prominent in Ha’aretz and many other Jewish magazines and websites, has intensified anger against Lerner and Tikkun among those who seek to perpetuate the Occupation, and great support among those who realize that the Occupation is really hurtful both to Israel and to the Jewish people world-wide.
In the 24 years of Tikkun’s operation, we have received many death threats and vicious hate mail, including phone calls to our office announcing that “Rabbi Lerner is dead” and others saying “We will kill all of you.” This particular attack has two worrisome elements not previously there: 1. They attack Rabbi Lerner’s home. As law enforcement people told us, this is a way of conveying the message to Lerner: “We know where you live, we know your house is vulnerable, so don’t ignore our threats.”Ã‚Â 2. By linking Lerner to alleged terrorism, they provide for themselves and other extremists a “right-wing justification” to use violence against Lerner, even though Lerner has been a prominent advocate of non-violence. He regularly critiques Palestinian acts of violence when they occur, including the shelling of Israeli towns by Hamas,Ã‚Â just as he critiques the violence of the Israeli occupation, and as he critiques the US war in Iraq and Afghanistan, the occupation of Chechny by Russia, the occupation of Tibet by China, the human rights violations against their own people by the rulers of Iran, the acts of violence of those resisting the US occupation of Iraq and Afghanistan, the violence against women and homosexuals in many Arab and African countries (and in the US and Israel as well), the genocide in Darfur, the violence against Jews in some parts of Europe, and the list goes on.
Needless to say, this latest attack, on Lerner’s home, has caused great concern to his family.
What can you do? Let people know that this kind of thing is happening in the Jewish world to people who critique Israeli policies.
To reach Rabbi Lerner directly: RabbiLerner@Tikkun.org or call the Tikkun office at 510 644 1200.