June is here. Pride is. Pride isn’t…

20190520_135800Happy Father’s Day everyone! I have sometimes avoided this day since my dad died just as I turned 18 and by age 56, I doubted meeting someone to have a child with. Fatherlessness was an adult quality I began identifying with until Lacy asked me to help bring the amazing Eamon into this world. More than sperm donor, but not quite co-parent either, my role (and claim to the title) as father or dad is a bit unclear. I’m grateful to my family and friends, to Lacy and her family and friends, and first and foremost to Eamon, for making me feel special, even fatherly. What a joyous giggler you are. I feel you in my heart, and I look forward to being in yours all the days of our lives. Thank god for all the great examples of fathering I have seen and experienced.

My Father’s Day prayer: May I and fathers everywhere be clear and strong in our stands against patriarchy and misogyny as we parent and in “every think” we do. Eamon, I’ll be there for you whether you cry or laugh. Even if I’m not present every day in your life, may my love be a comfort to you, and may I be worthy of your love and trust all our lives.

Gonna stand against CUFI again soon

…this time in Washington DC. CUFI is Christians United For Israel. I proudly remember being ejected from my first of their “Nights to Honor Israel” in Las Vegas with my friend Dennis DuVal. At first we just spoke loudly to each other in response to offensive utterances from the stage, “educating” the people who were near us. When they showed a video of the Israeli ambassador to the US though, we couldn’t contain ourselves and stood shouting over him until we were made to leave. Eamon_May2019_jumper_laughThen we greeted people with signs as they exited. The next year I handed out sheets with alternate resources since I remembered many questioning people in attendance that first year. At the end, they made me stand outside as I tried to distribute them, but the crowd was more one-sided. In San Fran, a couple times, small groups of us held signs outside their meeting spaces which were synagogues (!). If Not Now organized a prayerful presence one time, but they stayed away from the entrance, and were easily ignored. Finally, there is a more organized opposition to CUFI jointly led by Friends of Sabeel North America (FOSNA.org), the US Campaign for Palestinian Rights, Jewish Voice for Peace and others.

The confluence of Zionism and antisemitism is pretty damning of Zionism today. It is almost unfathomable, but here we are! I know there were desperate, Jewish collaborators during WW II, and it is certainly true that some Zionists colluded with Nazis, but now we are backsliding shamelessly, and that needs special attention. It must remain a shame to be a white supremacist or antisemite, and Jewish leaders and organizations that work with antisemites need to lose their standing.  We must remember that very few people really embrace violent nationalisms but can be whipped into a deadly frenzy through propagandistic, social media lies. We need to shake off our disbelief and act. As many are saying: It is not enough not to be racist; we must be anti-racist.

Many people are pointing out the myriad shortcomings about Kushner’s upcoming meeting in Bahrain that is ostensibly about ending the conflict between Israelis and Palestinians. (See Hanan Ashwari’s powerful and charming interview on Democracy Now!) I don’t think this meeting was ever planned to address Palestine though; that is just cover for its real purpose. Kushner’s meeting is about consolidating power relationships among all players OTHER THAN the Palestinians. It is about pushing the agendas of the real “troika of terror”: The USA, Israel and Saudi Arabia. They want to destroy hope and opposition. Kushner, Netanyahu and Bin Salman want Arab and all countries to opt for a place at their military feeding trough instead of standing with the Palestinians. They will promise access to repressive, Israeli tools, tactics and training and US weapons contracts to beat down their people at home, and they’re going to be told they better sit still or be targeted themselves. I’m afraid that making the point that Palestinian needs aren’t going to be addressed (whether or not Palestinians attend) is going to distract us from stopping the consolidation of power and the spread of more–and more advanced–weapons to the area that is their real goal.

When Sadat and Begin met with Carter at Camp David in 1978, their goal wasn’t really about peace with the Palestinians (who weren’t invited to the table). The part of the agreement that did address Palestine and the region was subsequently denounced by the United Nations. The other part, about Israel and Egypt normalizing relations, breaking up the Arab block and ignoring Palestinian rights, has continued. Kushner’s meeting’s misdirection also feels analogous to the debates about the Trump/Republican tax plan: There were many issues being legislated in that bill that had nothing to do with taxes but everything to do with stealing the commons for personal gain, eroding public control of resources, impoverishing people with medical needs and destroying what remains of the social safety net. The debates about tax refund sizes and all that was ludicrous at the time. The goal wasn’t really about taxes; it was about robbing and destroying.

Islamophobia is real, but also, secondary to the plan to control wealth and resources and push more and more people into a horrific underclass regardless of race or religion. The Netanyahus and the princes and US leaders don’t care about poor Jews, Muslims, Christians, Kurds or US-ians. If you are very wealthy, they don’t care if you’re anything else; they will welcome you. “Wealthy” may not be enough though; you may need to be in the .01%, not just the 1% to be spared, but their plan is to confuse so many people that we can’t build a movement to stop their greedy, suicidal projects of theft and murder before they engulf the whole world. We must not let them unite around their greed and disregard for people and planet!

Zionists need to deal with the problem of today’s Zionist forces are aligned strongly with virulent, longtime antisemites, Nazi sympathizers and even avowed Nazis. These antisemites are far more likely to point to old, hateful tropes than any Palestinian or leftist/progressive who looks at what Israel is doing to Palestinians and what it is promoting globally in terms of nuclear hostility and repressive assistance to authoritarians worldwide.

Any of them better be able to beat Trump

I have expressed frustration at friends who get into denouncing the Democrats running in the presidential primary race. A post I saw name-calling supporters of Beto O’Rourke really surprised me. I was amazed, not because I am a Beto-head, but since we have to buoy each other up, not put ourselves down. That said, I wasn’t impressed when I heard that Marianne Williamson threw her hat in the ring. I didn’t pay much attention to her since I didn’t pay much attention to her before either. Now, I’m not solidly in her camp as I’m not in any of them really, but I’m grateful for her presence and message. This interview was inspiring! Like when I hear AOC or Ilhan Omar and I feel like someone in office (or running as a candidate) actually hears me and speaks for me. It is only 6.5 minutes: Check out this great interview with PBS Newshour’s Judy Woodruf: https://www.pbs.org/newshour/show/why-marianne-williamson-thinks-she-can-defeat-trump

So much else matters!

It is pride month. There is debate about Jewish stars on flags at celebrations. I actually thought this article from The Forward was pretty good on presenting different issues, including pointing out that putting our religious symbol on the state of Israel’s flag was intentionally done to mute criticism of Israel because of this confusion. That history seriously mutes my outrage when people upset at Israel (the Jewish state) make a mistake. Murderers of Palestinians insist they are doing it on behalf of Jews everywhere. Despite my opposition and disgust, why should the world believe me more than them?

Samantha Bee and John Oliver have done good segments about the history of Pride (Stonewall Inn) and the need finally to pass and ratify the Equal Rights Amendment. Ava DuVernay’s Netflix miniseries about the Central Park 5. The Intercept has published what we must hope will be devastating revelations about judicial misconduct in Brazil, and maybe there has been a positive legal break in the USA about egregious, Republican gerrymandering and the question about adding a citizenship question to the 2020 census.

Attacks on women’s control of their bodies need to stop. Yes, Republican women are women too, and I hope they come around before it’s too late. Black and indigenous women’s lives matter!

 

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May is Always Special, if Mixed on Merry

Welcome to  Jim’s Approximately Monthly Missive for the “Merry Month of May” a familiar alliteration if not always true. My birthday is in May, but my father died a couple of days before I turned 18 in 1980 when he was only 44 (of melanoma, since people tend to ask). I’ve written about him before. He was wonderfully loving and also very even keel. The conjunction in time leads to conflicting emotions of joy and loss, celebration and mourning. I try not to hold myself to having any preset feelings, especially at this time of year. (Note to self: Find a photo of my dad and me.)

May Day is fun to celebrate as an activist and neo-pagan, usually dancing several maypoles a year. So far I have danced two. I like the effect of passing people in a dancing circle making eye contact with people in a safe, frolicking,  but often intense way. I like spiral dances for this reason too. It’s magic!

Lacy_Eamon_Ruth_hallNow that Eamon is in the world, I don’t feel that “fatherlessness” is a thread running through my adult life. Another blessing of Eamon! Pictures of Eamon’s joyous Bay Area visit with Lacy in April will run throughout this Missive rather than being ghettoized at the end. I can’t stop looking at the news or sharing both harrowing and motivational items, so I can’t just turn this into a baby fest. Eamon_Ruth_smilesStill, I am so happy to have given such a bubbly, giggly, gift of life to my mother for her birthday: a grandchild! (Not that Eamon is hers or anyone’s but themselves.) “I’m so happy I could just shit!” is a thought best left to the little one, but I kinda feel like that too. (Insert big laughing emoji.)

Stand with Ilhan Omar! Don’t Repeat “Moderate” Put-Downs of Her or of AOC or the Other Rad Women of Color Stepping UP

Don’t be confused into doubting in Ilhan Omar or AOC or the other inspiring new US politicians. We need to tell the “moderate” Democrats to get on board or we’re doomed. Joe Biden isn’t a safe bet. He’s at least as uninspiring as Hilary Clinton. I hope you will join me in voting for whoever runs against Trump in 2020, but don’t think a more establishment figure has a better shot now than in 2016.

ilhan-omarIlhan Omar in her own words makes me gush and shout out loud in relief and joy. She knows who she represents and why she’s there. It is uplifting to watch and hear her speak! (Thank you Democracy Now! for airing her speaking. It is mind-bending reality that other media outlets speak of her but don’t show her speaking.

aoc-video-panel.jpg“A Message from the Future with Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez”  is a six minute video that was written by the New York Member of Congress with Naomi Klein and animated by Molly Crabtree. It was published through The Intercept, a very important news source. It is moving, motivational to helpful for seeing a future that isn’t dystopian. [Side note: My computer doesn’t recognize the word dystopia or dystopian!] That it came from an elected official but isn’t just saccharine bosh made me sigh and hoot out loud in the kabob place I was sitting in when I first watched it. There was some important and little known history in there too.

Support Friends Defending Venezuela from Inside Besieged Embassy in Washington DC

Eamon_strollerMake no mistake about it. Nothing President Twitter and his team are trying to do to Venezuela has any sincerity or positive intent. US sanctions and sanctimony from numerous administrations has fostered the terrible internal divisions now at fever pitch. President Twitter is destroying much of international relations and statecraft so that all that remains is for US arms manufacturers to supply despots so we and our friends can all eat bullets. (Artist friend: Send me a graphic with T’s face on Marie Antoinette’s body saying, “Let them eat bullets.”)

Image may contain: plant, tree, sky and outdoorHere is an update I received this morning (May 3) from the Embassy Protection Collective in Washington DC:

Activists Continue to Hold Venezuelan Embassy in Washington
Pat Elder
World BEYOND War
May 2, 2019
It is Thursday evening and I am reporting from a meeting of the Embassy Protection Collective in the ambassador’s conference room in the Venezuelan Embassy in Washington.
Determined activists are currently discussing the logistics of their continued struggle to retain possession of the embassy. They have managed to overcome a host of challenges since responsibility for the embassy was officially turned over to them when Venezuelan diplomats who represent the legitimate government of Nicolas Madero were forced out of the U.S. last week.

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Activists are currently unable to enter the building. When members of the collective arrive at the embassy, Guaido supporters, right-wing extremists, sound an ear-piercing alarm, similar to the blaring sound of an emergency vehicle, to rally opposition folks to physically block activists from entering and to seize the opportunity to storm the compound. Meanwhile, Secret Service Police explain to the barred activists that they’re precluded from entering because they don’t have authorization from the “legitimate authorities,” meaning representatives from the Guaido government.

The dozen or so Secret Service officers seem to have bonded with a few dozen pro-coup forces who have displayed outrageous, unruly behavior like the blaring bullhorns that are sounded a few inches from the faces of anti-coup folks, many of whom had been in the embassy but left and were precluded from re-entering the building. The angry, combative counter-protesters have bullied the highly-disciplined peace activists and covered the ground floor windows with pro-Guaido literature. The Guaido folks have been free to bang on the exterior doors while the police stand idly by. They have destroyed exterior surveillance cameras and embassy property.

Legitimate Venezuelan authorities with the Maduro government in Caracas say the possible takeover of the embassy in Washington by Guaido’s people represents a “grave violation” of the United States’ responsibilities and violates international law. Venezuelan diplomats gave the keys to the embassy to the activists with permission to remain until a permanent protectorate can be found. President Maduro is aware of the situation and extends his support to the Embassy Protection Collective.

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On Thursday afternoon, the Secret Service allowed in some food and medicine while the State Department expressed interest in meeting with members of the Embassy Protection Collective: Code Pink co-founder, Medea Benjamin, DC attorney Mara Verheyden-Hilliard, and ANSWER Coalition Director Brian Becker. As of Thursday evening, that meeting had not yet taken place. Meanwhile, activists in the compound are hopeful they can retain possession of the premises.
Verheyden-Hilliard slammed the Secret Service and the DC Metropolitan Police in a letter earlier Wednesday. She wrote, “Your officers are acting as aiders, abettors, encouragers, and joint tort-feasors in the assaultive, menacing, threatening and at times violent conduct against the lawfully present peace activists at the embassy by a mob of right-wing thugs,”
The activists in the embassy understand this is an historic moment. Adrienne Pine, an Anthropology Professor at American University, is among the members of the collective in the embassy. She echoed a theme among the activists that Americans generally have a poor grasp of history. She explained her presence, “The 2009 U.S.-supported coup in Honduras led to a murderous, neoliberal fascist dictatorship. The subsequent U.S.-backed legislative coup that ousted Dilma Rousseff in Brazil led to Bolsonaro’s openly fascist regime, which threatens the survival of the entire planet. There is no way I could not be here, knowing what I do about where this coup—if successful—would inevitably lead.”

Is it Genocidal yet?

Two SusiyasIn 2016 and 2017 I was part of two Center for Jewish Nonviolence (CJNV) delegations. I decided I couldn’t go on the one that is there now, as I type. I hope to go on the one they expect to lead sometime in the fall. I’m getting news from them. As I type, Susiya has been suffering more demolitions, and in the last 24 hours Um Il-Khair went from threatened to demolished. I don’t know what is left, if anything but I have seen photos and videos from friends there of the destruction in process. Social media has kept us in touch in meaningful, interpersonal ways. Hopefully we can also translate that into political power, if not immediately, then soon!save_Um_Il_Khair_header

I close with a letter/post/question I shared this morning with the Jewish Voice for Peace national member forum. If you have any qualms about JVP, make sure you check out their/our website to know what we are actually about. Don’t believe what the David Horowitzes or the Simon Wiesenthal Centers or the Jewish Federations or the JCRCs the Democratic Party leadership say about JVP. Check out our ideas and work in our own words.progressive on palestine shirt

Are things finally getting so bad for Palestinians (prisoners shot while in custody, already injured and laying on the ground; children in tortuous jail conditions; Palestinian tents in Susiya and structures in Um Il-Khair demolished; old city Hebron and East Jerusalem being bulldozed out of Palestinian presence; anti-BDS laws criminalizing their right to speak and organize; frequent racist statements by politicians and the public (going back decades); and Gaza, Gaza, Gaza) so that calling all of this “genocidal” won’t garner the stultifying pushback (from friends and others) it once did? Are people’s relationship to “the g word” changing just as people’s use of apartheid have evolved into obvious acceptance?

Is there still seeming benefit to hiding such thoughts of genocide away? At what point do we need to venture even further into ostracism before we name an emerging truth we strive to stop? Maybe there is no utility to using such a loaded (if true) word. I don’t mean to throw it around loosely, but maybe I do hope that the intensity of the word will help awaken people to the urgent and dire situation at hand.

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Just as global, catastrophic climate change is something we’re still on the verge of, the full suicidality of the direction in which we’re pointed not quite irreversible, so too mustn’t we raise alarm bells about the genocidal fight for their lives that the Palestinians are engaged in?

God bless Palestinian resilience, love and children for making the genocidal aims we are also fighting against less likely to succeed.

I actually started this post after viewing current and past cartoons by Antonio Antunes Moreira that have garnered him the epithet of being anti-Semitic. Yesterday the New York Times dropped the syndicate through which his cartoons are promoted. This J.Post piece shows both the new image and the one from 1982 during the Lebanon invasion that drew directly on Warsaw Ghetto imagery for ‘inspiration.” I don’t think either cartoon is antisemitic (though I think the metaphor from his older image is more apt), and I am glad that the artist is standing by his politics. If JVP is called to stand with him, I hope we do. I confess not to be an expert on Moreira, but seeing the image he chose to run way back when makes me want to come to his defense now. Seeing the horrific direction Israel was heading back then was prophetic or just having his eyes and ears open. He saw the genocidal direction in which I/we were being led and created a powerful, evocative juxtaposition that rings even more true today than it did in 1982.

Yummy_frog

 

Posted in Eamon, Jim's Approximately Monthly MIssives, Palestine Israel Zionism Isalmophobia Antisemitism | Tagged , , , , | Leave a comment

March means Spring. Happy New Year!

[I just want to make sure that people know to click on most of the multi-colored text to be taken to an article or video or other site. They are “active links” but I only rarely show the url (http://www.***). I know most of you know that, but I wanted to make sure, one time, that everyone is told. -Laughing Jim]

Start of Spring is Nowrooz, the New Year in the Muslim World.
Plant a Tree. Join a Peace Delegation.

Codepink Iran Delegation 2019I am heartened by the recent trip and reports about the CODEPINK delegation to Iran in February. It is good to know Iranians and to have friends who have visited there. We actually have a fair amount we share, as is generally the case. You travel the world, and cultures can vary, but people have a lot in common. I highly recommend Medea Benjamin’s recent book, INSIDE IRAN: The Real History and Politics of the Islamic Republic of Iran (OR Books, 2018).  Her books on Saudi Arabia and on drones and weaponized drone warfare are also very informative and readable. (Photo from Popular Resistance.)

I’m very happy that my friend David Hartsough is doing quite well despite having suffered a heart attack early in the trip. He needed surgery in Tehran, and he got it. He is home and seems to be unrestrained by the experience. His travel insurance refused to pay though, because of the sanctions against Iran by the United States. Fortunately, the cost was not what it would have been in the United States, and they were able simply to pay for the necessary services.  Read Medea Benjamin’s report linked above about the trip in general.

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In 2011, I joined Kathy Kelly and a crew organized by Voices for Creative Nonviolence on a 27 person delegation to Afghanistan. We were met and hosted by the Afghan Youth Peace Volunteers (now the Afghan Peace Volunteers). I have written about them before. I learned that planting trees is a common act of celebration for their new year, the Spring equinox. I think of them often, but especially at this time. I understand that the trees have done well! I hope you will consider joining some sort of peace delegation or citizen diplomacy effort. They are very worthwhile experiences.

This Interview with Ta-Nehisi Coates is so worth reading!

https://nymag.com/intelligencer/2019/03/ta-nehisi-coates-race-politics-2020-elections.html

“Ta-Nehisi Coates Is an Optimist Now A conversation about race and 2020.” by Eric Levitz (New York Magazine, March, 2019). This is a great and wide ranging interview that is both personal and very political. I don’t have much to offer other than the link, and the promise to read it several more times myself.

Martin Luther King, Jr., August 31, 1967

The Three Evils of Society. This talk focuses less on Vietnam than his more famous, Riverside Church speech from April 4, 1967. In some ways, this one is more clearly prophetic, speaking to us today and less about that specific affront to humanity.

Remember, it was vitally important to MLK that we enlarge our criticism of society from being anti-racist and anti-materialist, to also being anti-militarist. That third one isn’t just included in the other struggles, but is its own horrifying pillar that must explicitly be opposed alongside our anti-racist, anti-capitalist (and I would add, anti-patriarchy) struggles.

Follow Ilhan Omar and other Rad Women of Color in Congress!

https://splinternews.com/conservatives-have-predictable-freakout-after-ilhan-oma-1833545595

ilhan-omarThe article’s angle (from March 23, 2019) is about the right wing response to Ilhan Omar’s talk to the Los Angeles chapter of the Council on American Islamic Relations (CAIR-LA) on March 23, 2019. Check out minute 18:11. I am amazed that she can say with such moving conviction, “Every country is able to live up to its BEST. Every leader has the ability to lead with compassion, to lead with justice.” The lead up to that is great, as is the whole 21+ minute video. Search on her name. Watch and listen to her. Be inspired to tears and stand with her. Not just her, but WOW!

A lot keeps unfolding about and by Ilhan Omar since I started writing this Missive. I hope everyone listens to her in her own words. I hope she is able to deliver some measurable good to her constituents at home. It is important that she and the other new leaders get reelected, and that is going to take some doing.

Rashida Tlaib on Twitter: “Our budget is a reflection of our values.” No particular reference to share, but she needs our ear and all of our support. I have a twitter account, but I don’t use it much. I have just started to follow some great people though who are under fire all the time. I think they look better if they have more followers, and also, it is a good way to find out what people say themselves instead of what is being said about them. Twitter, sadly, is a way to do that.

Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez also has continued to speak out properly and boldly, including fighting back at the Green New Deal being accused of elitism, At last, a few politicians are pushing back at the hypocrisy of their attackers!

Nuclear Updates and Inspiring Resistance to US Military Bases

Latest Report on US Nuclear Weapons Production and Budget from the Best Source: Tri-Valley CARES Do read it. It is very readable, actually, and not so long. Think about nuclear weapons. Stand with people sitting in, blockading US bases. Smaller nukes like I wrote about last issue are here But they’re not alone. Also, watch this short (1:09 minutes) Love Letter from Kabul #9 from the Afghan Peace Volunteers to the people of Okinawa, and be inspired.

And Here’s…Eamon!

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These are all from March, 2019.

Thank you to all the women of the world.

You deserve so much more than a day or a month here or there to be celebrated, honored…listened to, followed. Thank you, now and always. I will keep trying harder.

Free Chelsea Manning! Again!

Chelsea ManningChelsea is an outstanding example to us all. She is languishing in jail and solitary confinement for the sake of truth and integrity. She is refusing to answer questions from a Grand jury that is after Julian Assange of WikiLeaks who also doesn’t deserve what he has been getting at the hands of this and the two previous US administrations (or the British). According to Courage to Resist, Manning had this to say on March 8 as she was being taken into custody:

“I will not participate in a secret process that I morally object to, particularly one that has been historically used to entrap and persecute activists for protected political speech.”

See y’all again…in approximately a month…for another Missive.
Until then, be well; be active; be inspired.

Posted in Eamon, Jim's Approximately Monthly MIssives, Nuclear Issues, Palestine Israel Zionism Isalmophobia Antisemitism, Peacemaking | Tagged , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Little Babies, Better than Good. Little Nukes, Worse than Bad.

20190213_134147As you can imagine, having Eamon in my life now fills everything with a bit more gravitas. As if I weren’t already concerned about the world at large, now I share responsibility for having foisted existence upon another human being. What a joy he is to behold…and to hold, even more so. I miss his wondrous gaze and expressions.

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I resisted the urge to post a Missive after my mid-February trip east to see and care for Eamon for a few days. I’m not the only person involved in new parenting, and other people I know are more day-in-and-day-out caring for their little ones and how often do they posts about little milestones? I get self-conscious sometimes, not wanting to take credit that isn’t due. I’m not caring for Eamon every moment like Lacy is. I’m just tickled pink when I see and comfort him.

20190210_110035He’s growing by leaps and bounds, obviously, and he’s very precocious for 2+ months, already pushing himself up and over! He’s smiling and giggling delightfully in response to all sorts of stimuli, and he’s already in size 6-month onesies! Eamon head up feb2019

I’ll be back with him March 10, but for now, here are a few images from February, followed by a short litany of news items, events and anniversaries you may have missed. Remember, Peace to all means justice first!

March 1: Remember Bikini. Solidarity with survivors of Rongelap. NO MORE US NUCLEAR HYPOCRISY!

Every year at this time, I bring up the Castle-Bravo nuclear test that destroyed Bikini Atoll in the Marshall Islands on March 1, 1954. It was the largest bomb ever tested by the USA. The people of Rongelap that was known to be down wind at the time of the detonation, continue to suffer physical and emotional harm from its fallout. Look up “jellyfish babies” if you dare. And look up the 2011 documentary “Nuclear Savage.”

Also, bringing this to the present. please don’t take up any of the nuclear-fear hypocrisy of the United States and Israel. Don’t fear North Korea or Iran, especially vis a vis nuclear attack. Unstable Pakistan and Hindu-nationalist India do scare me, but neither Russia nor China have pushed the world to the brink of nuclear annihilation as has the United States. And now we may give nuclear technology to the murderous Saudi crown prince! Talk about a global troika of tyranny or axis of evil: The United States, Israel and Saudi Arabia.please-dont-defend-us-with-wmm-30x20

New US nuclear warheads are rolling off the assembly line as of the end of February. The W76-2 is less than a third the size of the bomb used on Hiroshima and is considered “usable” by some “people.” It is highly targetable and concealable as it will be based on Trident D-5 submarines, the most destructive weapon ever built. At the same time, the updated tailfin design for the B61-12 was being tested. It will be highly targetable and of a more “usable” size with a “dial-a-yield” feature.

You never hear about our nukes. Denuclearize North Korea? Give me a break! Social justice and environmental activists from other causes: you better stop acting like taking on nuclear weapons is beside the point (or worse judgments I don’t want to go into now).

Don’t Pay Your (War) Taxes!

20170424_Military_ExpenditureThe government is led by people that want to destroy it, in part, by unfunding itself. Still, resisting war taxes must continue and grow, at risk of playing into the hands of people who say they want small government just so they can pollute wildly and steal from the rest of us. Please, don’t fear the IRS like they are really going to hurt you. They can harrass, of course, but they don’t suddenly garnish your wages. Mostly they send notices, or more often, but still not frequently, phone calls. More often, I get spam calls, not related to my tax liability. And when they “assigned” my case to a private collection agency, their ability to harrass me or take my money decreased! Check out the National War Tax Resistance Coordinating Committee (NWTRCC) for a wealth of info, stories, and counseling. Don’t bank on tax refunds. Don’t give free loans to the US military. Resist war taxes now!

People’s Life Fund Grant Application (for Bay Area Groups or Projects)

nowartax bannerIn league with NWTRCC, the Bay Area group, the People’s Life Fund, makes grants with money people have deposited instead of sending all or part of their tax bill to the government. Some people put money in escrow accounts for use if and when they do come after us to collect. The interest (and outright donations) to these funds are given out by local groups around the country. Here is the People’s Life Fund’s Facebook page for more info and to “like” or follow. The PLF is receiving grants for local work in the Bay Area. The deadline to apply is March 15, 5 pm. Help applying is available if you need it. Here is a link to the application.

Inspired “Equivocations” on Israel’s Brutal Hypocrisy

First of all: I support Ilhan Omar in Congress and for calling out AIPAC and other funders of Israeli crimes against humanity. She is speaking to contemporary events and alliances in support of Israeli moral and political crimes, not regurgitating old tropes. I’m not impressed at the prospects for Palestine even if Netanyahu has to step down as Israeli prime minister. Zionism’s links to white supremacy are strengthening, and liberal Zionists…not having much impact. The lies and inconsistencies are too big and longstanding; the implications too painful. I am not familiar with the author, but I received this Forward op-ed through Portside Snapshot): Wake Up American Jews: You’ve Enabled Israel’s Racism for Years!

demonstrators_signs_gaza1.pngMeanwhile, after years of debate and discussion, Jewish Voice for Peace has declared that we are an anti-Zionist organization. The first paragraph of “Our Approach to Zionism” boldly states: “Jewish Voice for Peace is guided by a vision of justice, equality and freedom for all people. We unequivocally oppose Zionism because it is counter to those ideals.” While I mostly align with the statement that follows, I was viscerally struck by the use of the word “unequivocal” at the beginning. I have been party to countless JVP discussions, debates and events about Zionism. After so much (legitimate) equivocation, it feels too late for us to say anything we do is unequivocal. Evidently the clarity at the Board level is such that they wanted to emphasize the point. If so, it is theirs to make, but I don’t think it reflects the membership to that degree, to warrant such underlining. It felt like a real dismissal of something that was essential to the fact that Jewish Voice for Peace didn’t fade away and instead navigated a shifting landscape of Palestinian liberation efforts and “facts on the ground” to become what it is today.

progressive on palestine shirtI applaud JVP’s leadership for once again not succumbing to the fear of losing members in order to take a stand for truth and justice. A similar juncture was crossed when we signed on organizationally to the Palestinian Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions calls from civil society. It proved to be good to clarify what we stand for, something substantial that sets us apart from other well-meaning Jewish groups including If Not Now, J-Street and Tikkun.

I think the statement includes ample description of the reality of what self-described Zionists have done to the pre-existing and descendant people of historic Palestine. I still hold Martin Buber, Henrietta Szold and Judah Magnes in high regard, but their legacy isn’t important in the name of Zionism lost. Or at least, it doesn’t feel right, asserting their recognition as a need for coalition-building. Palestinians today deserve to call out Zionism, as well as Judaism for what has been taken from them and for making them a diaspora and refugee people and almost outlawing their very identity. We need to deal with that and stop pretending that some other good thing deserves to be seen and extolled first, or that some attacks on us need compensation instead.

How Do You Sum Up All of Torah?

There are a number of scriptural passages that have been equated with the whole kit-and-kaboodle. “Do justice. Love mercy. And walk humbly with your god.” (Micah 6:8) is one. “That which you abhor, don’t do to others.” (Pirket Avot 2:1, a rephrasing of part of Leviticus 19) is another.

So often, the militarists of Israel quote some proverb or rabbi telling us that if we think someone is going to attack us, that we should attack them first. I couldn’t find it just now, online. I would appreciate the reference if anyone has it for me/us. Also, have you ever heard it put forth as though it is the sum total of what we are to glean from our faith? I like to think that there is a preference for the mercy (with a healthy respect for the need for justice mixed in). I think Micah’s sentiment and the Golden Rule deserve such raising up, but not a call to preemptive strike. What do you think? I think…

Eamon is a Big Ball of Adorable!

 

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Jan 2019: Amazing Cute; the World; the Ever-Relevant MLK

Hello Again Friendly Missivistas,

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It has been over a month. You probably thought I was going to post lots of baby pictures from here on out all the time. Rest assured, I indeed have been eternally captivated by Eamon’s wondrous baby charms.img_6681 However, I am on the other side of the continent which helps me take care of business like showing up for work and finally moving into the room in Berkeley I have already been paying rent on for a couple months. (Settling in; still a work in progress.)

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I’ll be visiting Eamon about monthly for now. Who knows what will feel right down the road? I won’t be back to see Eamon until Feb 9. Southwest had an ideal flight Saturdays from Oakland at 1:55 pm that dovetailed with my Saturday work, but they moved it to Sunday, so I still need to figure out my best way to go.

I’m very happy that Sr. Megan lives in the neighborhood, a short walk from Lacy’s. We had a delightful visit, and will again, I’m sure.

Standing with Women of Color. Standing with Palestine.

I cheered on and marched in the Women’s March again this year in San Francisco on January 19. The first two were amazing days for me and so many people. There have been persistent and pernicious attacks against some of the national organizers. They’re being attacked as though they are anti-Semitic, an assertion I firmly reject. Whether you know what I’m talking about already or not, I recommend reading this great article about it: “There’s a Good Reason Many Jewish Women Will Be Joining the Women’s March“, January 17  in The Nation by Sarah Seltzer (who I don’t know). Two key quotes for me:

“The months of online shouting have made me feel compelled to show up as a way of reaffirming my commitment to organizing in coalitions, examining my own privilege, and focusing on the threat of white nationalism.” Also, very importantly: “…The gravest danger is not coming from within activist circles but from without.”

JVP-All-Responsible-logoHuge praise and thanks to Michelle Alexander (The New Jim Crow) for her January 20 column in the Sunday New York Times: “Time to Break the Silence on Palestine.” I recommend reading the online version which I think is a little longer. Very important piece hopefully that will be a reference point for future reflection and action.

Recently a very wise friend initiated a Facebook thread expressing disappointment and dismay at Alice Walker for her poem from 2017, “It is our (Frightful) Duty to Study the Talmud,” in which she is trying to figure out what it is about our people that makes us treat the Palestinians so unjustly and without regard. She has been taking a stand for, and putting her body on the line (and boats) for, Palestine for years. The point of the poem is that Judaism’s interpretive, sacred text, the Talmud, about how to apply the law of the Torah in our lives, is the problem. Admittedly, the poem gets weird, but as I wrote in the thread, one of the only people who didn’t rebuke and recoil from Walker for “hating Jews”:

“Ease up on Alice. Focus your outrage on (proudly insistentent) Zionists and what they do in the name of Judaism and our defense. She could have said to look biblically and not even to the Talmud. Consider for a change, the second part of Exodus in which my people descend on Canaan and take it as an outside force slaughtering nations of people. Maybe we need to ignore the oft read, first part of the book and focus on that and try not to repeat it. Israel is making the blood libel look believable more and more, and I’m not the one confusing lie from fact.”
In response to another distraught writer I wrote:
“Walker was digging and walking deep in that poem. She’s not the one who’s gone too far.”

I clarified further which my friend appreciated:

“I’m not sure if Walker, in the poem which I have read through twice, is repeating old tropes or pointing out weird portions of Talmud without citation. Sacred texts often are full of weird shit, and pointing it out isn’t helpful. If you are wondering why a people are behaving cruelly, murderously, the opposite of what you thought them capable of, then one might look at their teachings and be given pause. And you might write a poem in your anguish…I feel like what Jews are doing to Palestinians and people who try to fight for their human and political rights is so egregious as to justify hate back at us, and that will sound very offensive indeed. What is done is done in the name of Jews, mostly by Jews, with relatively little pushback from Jews like me/us. For people to look at what Israel is doing in the name of Jews and say, WTF, Jews?” is reasonable. It can lead to weird shit, and I guess I am sad to see that in there, but Walker has stood up for Palestine for a while, including on a flotilla to Gaza, so I’m not worried about her. If she meets Jews, I don’t imagine this poem will be relevant in how she is with them/us.”

After some time my poet/writer/activist friend responded more fully. I wasn’t informed algorythmically for some strange reason even though they were responding to a comment of mine, so I’m glad to see this great point now:

“Our personal feelings, thoughts, words, and actions contribute to the larger systems of abuse and oppression. Right now, as you know, we are fighting the rise of actual Nazis and fascists. So for a staunch pro-Palestinian non-Jew to speak out with such vitriol (in my eyes) toward Jews? That’s not helpful to me. It actually feels devastating to me.  I want us to find ways to keep addressing injustice without spiraling into hatred. Hatred is poison. It is toxic to us all.”

Two War CrimesI so appreciate and resonate with those sentiments. Not to over-reduce their points, but I agree that the personal is indeed also political. I’m just aware of a visceral shift I’ve notice in myself. I’m still figuring out how troubled I am by it. I am far less compelled to rebuke almost any response, much less tell women of color how to express their outrage, how to condemn their attacker. I used to make the point about what I found “helpful,” but now, less so. It is still a fair point, but I can’t muster the gumption to say it as I used to. Israel is tragically, ironically providing deadly, new, contemporary reasons, grounded in painful reality, for questioning the morality of my people, Israel. I wish there were more libel than blood being spilled today.

Beyond the inhumane treatment of Palestinians, Israel is carelessly (literally, literally: “without care”) selling the tools, tactics and training for social repression to despots around the world. I can’t fault people for wondering what is wrong with us. And given the terms and weapons Israel is utilizing and spreading, must we not put our most vociferous condemnation there? Must we not resist being distracted? Alice Walker, Linda Sarsour and Tamika Mallory are no anti-Semites especially next to the classical ones we see cavorting with the Israeli and U.S. leadership, be they Nazis or “Islamists,” in the halls of power, which is where the real threat to freedom and justice lies. They act reprehensibly and beyond all reason while much of their base act like they should be treated as beyond all questioning. Let us help the world direct our questions at them!

Finally, Some Martin Luther King Jr., from “The Drum Major Instinct” Feb. 4, 1968, his amazing, last sermon at home, Ebenezer Baptist Church, Atlanta, Georgia.

King Posters -No Nukes_Page_3I recommend listening to this sermon often. I do. Be sure if you look for it, that it is the full 38+ minute version. Edited forms are out there, and they often edit this part out. Even on what I consider the definitive archive at Stanford, the audio leaves this out although it is in the printed version. The whole point of this sermon is beautiful, compassionate, prophetic. At the end (start at minute 35:30) he tells us of how he would want to be remembered, hopefully as a “drum major for justice, a drum major for peace,” and more. I cry every time. I see it as a call to action. I leave it to you to find that gem however, since I want to share this more politically pertinent point (from about minute 23:45 in the version linked above):

If somebody doesn’t bring an end to this suicidal thrust that we see in the world today, none of us are going to be around, because somebody’s going to make the mistake through our senseless blunderings of dropping a nuclear bomb somewhere. And then another one is going to drop. And don’t let anybody fool you, this can happen within a matter of seconds…

“[W]e are drifting there because nations are caught up with the drum major instinct. “I must be first.” “I must be supreme.” “Our nation must rule the world.” (Preach it) And I am sad to say that the nation in which we live is the supreme culprit. And I’m going to continue to say it to America, because I love this country too much to see the drift that it has taken.

“God didn’t call America to do what she’s doing in the world now. (Preach it, preach it) God didn’t call America to engage in a senseless, unjust war as the war in Vietnam. And we are criminals in that war. We’ve committed more war crimes almost than any nation in the world, and I’m going to continue to say it. And we won’t stop it because of our pride and our arrogance as a nation.

But God has a way of even putting nations in their place. (Amen) The God that I worship has a way of saying, “Don’t play with me.” (Yes) He has a way of saying, as the God of the Old Testament used to say to the Hebrews, “Don’t play with me, Israel. Don’t play with me, Babylon. (Yes) Be still and know that I’m God. And if you don’t stop your reckless course, I’ll rise up and break the backbone of your power.” (Yes) And that can happen to America. (Yes)

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Welcome Eamon Bua Sanford MacAuley!

Eamon’s here!

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Eamon holding my finger.

Eamon Bua Sanford MacAuley was born on Saturday, December 8, 2018 at 5:41 pm at Reston Hospital, Virginia. He was born lovely and healthy by non-emergency C-section in a relatively short, straightforward operation. Gratefully, Lacy came through very well too. I was in the next room just outside the door while Lacy’s twin sister, Lorien, was in the operating room. I heard the first exclamation of, “Oh, look at the beautiful baby!” and his first cries seconds later. Eamon was wheeled out and into my waiting arms within minutes, Lacy following suit just a few minutes after that. The whole procedure lasted less than 20 minutes. It followed, however, a long arduous process of contractions, inducing efforts and fatigue, plus a long stint after the bag of waters broke. Nonetheless, as a fetus, Eamon never faltered.

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I cried a lot too.

The baby weighed in at 7 lb. 14 oz. and was 20.5″ long. Significantly, his head was 10.35 cm in diameter, a bit above the 10 cm target for dilation most people talk about being necessary for vaginal birth. Lacy and or Eamon would have suffered so much more physical trauma (or worse) if a well-trained hospital staff weren’t available for a C-section. Eamon would not be as healthy today if we didn’t have bottles and formula to help him grow as Lacy and Eamon work into the most naturally productive feeding method possible as her milk starts to flow and his “latching” improves.

I am grateful to all the labor and delivery nurses and maternity nurses, midwifes, dulas and encouraging staff who are there for mothers, babies and families. I don’t think there are other hospital units where professionals openly speak of their own personal experiences with what the patient is going through so readily. I love and am in awe of my friends in the field all the more! I’m grateful for Dr. Hashemi’s deft surgical hands.

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Sarah, Lacy and Eamon.

I apologize for the delay in informing you of Aemon’s amazing presence and thanking you all for the loving and prayerful responses to my last post. I want you all to know how absolutely beautiful and moving Eamon is and how special it feels to hold him. I am not one who “needs” to hold newborn babies. I gaze entranced at them, and prefer a gentle touch while they are in the arms of another or laying down. With Eamon, I immediately felt pulled to hold him close though, to soothe and celebrate his crying with my own. (There they are again, my tears, as I write this.)

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Everyone at home together, at last!

I am back in Oakland now with plans to go back in early January. Our way forward is still coming into focus. I know Lacy has love, community and family there–much help, close at hand, ready for the asking–and this was her vision. I helped prepare their house for safer, more comfortable habitation. I was there to help Lacy settle in and set up her space for her and Eamon. I shopped and tended. I also soothed and comforted. I changed poopy diapers and was able to be at his first doctor visit. I’m not done giving and being there for Eamon. It is probably helpful also to be giving Lacy, Lorien and Sarah a little time to redefine their homespace with Eamon there.

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Eamon and his remarkable Aunts MacAuley: Lorien, Sheridan and Christian.

I am grateful to all the mothers I know and the children who have taught me how to relate. Thank you to the fathers I called for council and reassurance. This is new, and I don’t want to analyze things too much. I do feel far away, and I’m out of Eamon’s field of view unless I’m right there. I still trust that he will recognize my voice and respond familiarly again to my deep tones with stilling cries. I am so looking forward to holding him again!

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Eamon Bua Sanford MacAuley, day 3.

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On the Imminence of Fatherhood

In February, a former lover wrote me the most wonderful invitation of a letter I have ever received. In it, Lacy asked me to be her “baby daddy,” a loosely defined label I am still not sure about in part because of its negative origin and uses. I like the playfulness of baby daddy, but it also sounds not quite serious enough when I think of all that fatherhood rightly entails, and all I intend to provide to this late-in-life progeny. Lacy was willing to accept loving conception or go all anonymous without me at all, but she asked me and has welcomed my desire to be in “our” child’s life. I’m honored. I’m tickled to tears. I’m thrilled!

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Lacy now!

Lacy flew to the Bay Area in March for us to reconnect, and as it turned out, she didn’t have to return in April or May. My heart goes out to friends who have struggled or failed to conceive. Ours was destined to be easy, and I am writing at this 11:59th hour to ask for my Missive readers to offer up prayers for as easy a delivery. The official due date of this big ball of wonder is today, December 3, and it may very begin this evening! Mother and baby-to-be are huge and healthy! At last Friday’s sonogram, the radiologist said it looked like the baby-to-be was already a whopping 8 lb. 10 oz.! At the birthing center this morning, all indicators are positive, and Lacy has even dilated substantially since last Thursday. It is Chanukah, and the women of this amazing household (plus the adorable 2 year old Serena) just walked in with a Christmas tree.

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Best sonogram was months ago.

I was going to write a Missive about this for months, but it kept feeling like I was getting ahead of myself. I will write more as it grows, I assure you. My role in the life of this child is unclear, yet definite, so again, I’m not sure what exactly to write. Lacy and mine is an atypical, emerging re-lationship. Very 21st Century. I’m not a sperm donor. I’m not an uncle. I live in the San Francisco Bay Area and Lacy lives in Washington DC. We both have other significant relationships not to be undone. I sometimes feel as far away as I physically am, and I expect to be visiting DC frequently in the coming years. Maybe I’ll move here, but not planning to at present. I will be a stay at home dad when I’m in town at least.

Last week I decided to wait until after the birth to write anything, but now, MY dam has burst, and I want to tell the world how excited I am to about to become a father even as my friends are becoming grandparents! I am asking for all your hopeful energy, prayers, candle magic, blessings and spells to help Lacy and baby-to-be emerge all whole and healthy ASAP!

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My father as I remember him the most.

Fatherhood can’t be defined for life by any one snapshot in time. I am committed to the child for life. Lacy didn’t go anonymous like she could have. She didn’t know if I would say yes, or if I would want to have any parenting role at all if I did. Thank you, Lacy, for how thrilled you have been at how thrilled I am. I am also so, so happy my mom will get to dote on the little one as her grandchild! May this gift of love and hope arrive soon. We are ready to receive you!

My father, Sanford, was a wonderfully loving and stable presence in my life until he died, even during his mortal fight with melanoma. I’m grateful to him and my father-friends for such great examples to follow. Thank you again for all your immediate love, prayers and well-wishes.

May my next Missive be called for soon!

 

 

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