I sent this approximately monthly missive out the morning of Martin Luther King Jr.’s birthday to a list I have of old and new friends and family. I will be re-posting them here so others can see them, and also so we can have some discussion about them, something that is precluded when simply using the bcc field in an email. I will be asking permission from a some of the people who sent in responses and see where it goes.
I look forward to anything you have to offer (including support for my planned return to Israel/Palestine with the Center for Jewish Nonviolence in May).
Thank you for being in my life,
- Follow up Trip to Palestine with the Center for Jewish Nonviolence in May under the banner: “Justice, Justice You Shall Pursue”
- Reclaiming MLK’s Revolutionary Radicalism – ANTI-MILITARISM
- “Censored Voices” Kehilla Community Synagogue Film Series (I am a member there now and on the Middle East Peace Committee)
- Laughter Yoga
- Discussion of several voices and sources that have touched me and “felt right” about this political moment we’re in.
An important impetus to writing you now is to tell you that I intend to return to Palestine and Israel in May with the Center for Jewish Nonviolence. We’ll bring two or three times as many Jewish justice workers this time. I feel a little shy asking for support for what could seem like a re-visit, but this is about building and maintaining trust, showing commitment and continuity of purpose. I would like to visit somewhere I haven’t been, but I feel a need to return to Hebron, to Susiya, to Silwan, to Umm Il-Kheir, all communities that have seen increasing attacks (physically and administratively) since I was there last July. I need to return to my sister’s kibbutz to continue budding conversations there.
I will be setting up a donations system, but for now, I just want to know that some of you think this is a good idea and is worthy of support. I must say that my experiences during the July trip have given fuel and direction to my work here. I have given well over a dozen presentations about it, and the discussions are always appreciated and give people news and ideas they hadn’t thought about before. Here are just a few relevant resource links to check out. I have seen some amazing pieces also by Amira Haas, Noura Erakat, Gideon Levy, Max Blumenthal and others:
- Orly Noy wrote a powerful call to Israelis and Jews of the world in relation to the villages where I was and the larger context that diaspora Jews and Israelis need to consider and take up. This is a recent article from Israel that really nails a lot of issues on their heads.
- My photos from last July’s delegation with CJNV to Hebron and environs with commentary and descriptions.
- A video made by +972 Magazine about CJNV and our trip last July.
- My photos from 2006 when I attended a conference on nonviolence in Bethlehem, traveled around more, spent new years with the Corries and my friend Tycho in an East Jerusalem hotel, and of course, visited Chava and all.
“The Drum Major Instinct” in which he wrote his own eulogy and (sadly, unused) epitaph. He also makes the important distinction for us between necessary self-promotion and delusional self-aggrandizement.“I’ve Been to the Mountaintop” People need to listen to the entire speech from the night before he was assassinated in Memphis (“Let us develop a kind of dangerous unselfishness.) The last few minutes are often shown for their prescience, but this was also a serious and powerful call to action.“On Love and Forgiveness” (not to be confused with another, earlier sermon “Loving Your Enemies”) in which he calls on people to be intelligent, not only kind. “They weren’t BAD men. They were STUPID men.”“Letter from a Birmingham Jail” which should be essential reading and discussion material for all activists whether or not you consider nonviolence a strategy, tactic or way of life. People have heard of it, but usually not read much if any of it.
“Christmas sermon, 1967”
“Don’t let anybody make you think that God chose America as His divine, messianic force to be a sort of policeman of the whole world. God has a way of standing before the nations with judgement, and it seems that I can hear God saying to America, ‘You’re too arrogant, and if you don’t change your ways, I will rise up and break the backbone of your power, and I’ll place it in the hands of a nation that doesn’t even know My Name. Be still, and know that I’m God.'”
In 1958 Martin Luther King Jr. decried the “inseparable twin of racial injustice: economic injustice.” But by 1967 and until he was assassinated, he was uncompromising in his insistence that there was a third tine to this “triple prong sickness”: MILITARISM. King said, “The issue of civil rights cannot be separated from the issue of peace,” and in the same talk, “Our only hope lies in our ability to go out into a sometimes hostile world declaring our eternal opposition to racism, materialism and militarism.”
In the August 1967 speech, he was less focused on the history of Vietnam and more on political change that was needed. He mentioned good programs being unfunded for political reasons. He mentioned poverty that went ignored. He mentioned strange lies that seemed to win the day in the face of truth.
He spoke of truth being made to stand on its head like we are seeing today. He spoke about the “radical revolution of values” our nation must undergo for the sake of all humanity if not more. The Lying, racist, materialist, violent Donald Trump gets to shut up the opposition party (and to some extent the mainstream media as well) in this country because it has also failed on all those counts. Just as King calls Communism a judgement on the west not following through on the revolutionary spirit it inspired, Trumpism is a judgement on the Democratic Party for leaving behind the very people it was supposed to champion.
I think militarism is often pushed aside as inconvenient or as a seeming distraction when most domestic justice movements address the other two, in particular in connection with Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. If we are truly to celebrate and reflect on his radical, revolutionary legacy, we must include all three prongs in our discussions, analysis and actions. Otherwise we do his memory a disservice, lessen the possibilities of his legacy, and participate in reducing him to an icon. For one example, let me just point out that the United States has made it it’s unique business to sell weapons to the world. The United States sells fully 50% of the weapons in the world according to a recent Congressional study. We foment and promote more bloodshed than any other country and profit from it, even as we denounce and further threaten others for the selfsame inhumanity.
So, this year I encourage you to listen to, think on and discuss this particular Martin Luther King speech.