On Sunday, Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan climbed onto a bus in Ankara, Turkey in front of a crowd of raging protesters and warned that his patience with the protests—that are now in their tenth day—was quickly running out. [...]
On Sunday, Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan climbed onto a bus in Ankara, Turkey in front of a crowd of raging protesters and warned that his patience with the protests—that are now in their tenth day—was quickly running out.
“Those who do not respect this nation’s party in power will pay a price,” he later said to a crowd of screaming loyalists.
For gay Palestinians, queer liberation is inextricably linked to the liberation of Palestine from Israeli occupation.
On Friday, Israel’s annual gay pride celebration took over the streets of Tel Aviv, spilling from the sidewalks to the streets to the beaches. Israelis and foreigners alike, who now come from around the world to experience what is quickly becoming one of the hottest pride events in the world danced and celebrated in the streets, enjoying the sunlight waving the traditional LGBT pride rainbow flag as well as Israel’s Star of David. In the official video for Tel Aviv Pride, fabulously dressed drag queens dance on the beach, kissing one another and surrounding attractive men while music pulses in the background, Tel Aviv, habibi, Tel Aviv—for many reasons, it is enticing enough to bring anyone to Tel Aviv.
Emily Lindin is a blogger who has been posting her 6th grade diary entries online every day. A couple of months into the entries, her 11-year-old self lies on her parents’ bed and tries to think of ways to kill [...]
Emily Lindin is a blogger who has been posting her 6th grade diary entries online every day. A couple of months into the entries, her 11-year-old self lies on her parents’ bed and tries to think of ways to kill herself. She’s just been dumped – not for the first time – by “Zach,” and her classmates have begun spreading rumors about her sexual experience.
Among liberal Jews, such practices are common, unremarkable, even. But this, however, is Jerusalem.
Among the world’s Jews, a gender war looms at Judaism’s holiest site.
The Women of the Wall are a group of Jewish women who have been holding monthly services at the Kotel, the Western Wall, in Jerusalem. Though this might seem innocuous, the group has attracted arrests and worldwide media attention for their peculiar form of religious civil obedience. The Women of the Wall pray in traditionally male garb – that is to say, they wear the same tallit (prayer shawls) and tefillin (phylacteries) to pray. Among liberal Jews, such practices are common, unremarkable, even. But this, however, is Jerusalem.
The Women of the Wall have been butting heads with Israeli law – a 1967 Protection of Holy Places Law which bars “any religious ceremony that is not performed according to the custom of the place.” At the Kotel, where Haredi (ultra Orthodox) religious practice reigns supreme, this has meant the defacto criminalisation of egalitarian liberal religious ceremonies at the Kotel.
An April 24th ruling granted women the right to pray wearing tallit and tefillin, but the conflict is far from over. The May service was marked by conflict, with the area flooded with Haredi girls.
Heeding calls from their rabbis, religious teenage girls turned up in large numbers to protest the group’s insistence on praying at the wall in religious garb traditionally worn by men. The girls crammed the women’s section directly in front of the wall by 6:30 a.m., forcing the liberal women to conduct their prayer service farther back on the plaza. There, hundreds of police officers locked arms in cordons to hold back throngs of black-hatted Orthodox men who whistled, catcalled, and threw water, candy and a few plastic chairs.
Even after losing the legal fight, the Haredim continue to intimidate the Women of the Wall. Such a scene might suggest a widespread public disapproval of the Women of the Wall, but a recent study by the Israel Democracy Institute found that the majority of Israeli Jews support the Women of the Wall, with support strongest among secular Israelis. Among the diaspora, especially in North America, support for the Women of the Wall appears even stronger.
To understand the ideological flashpoints that the Women of the Wall have raised, we must first understand the differing demographics in conflict, and the relationship between diasporic Jews and those in Israel. In North America, the vast majority of Jews are liberal Jews – Reform and Conservative (Masorti). In Israel, however, the official state Judaism is Orthodox, and an increasingly ultra-Orthodox one at that.
In Israel, liberal Judaism is undoubtedly a second-class citizen. While the state pays the salaries of Orthodox rabbis, it is only recently that the first Reform rabbi, rabbi Miri Gold, won the right for the same. And while the state accepts Orthodox conversions, Reform converts are not considered officially Jewish. In short, Orthodoxy maintains a gatekeeping approach to Judaism in Israel, one which was eventually bound to lead to a conflict between diasporic and Israeli Jewries. While this pales in comparison to the restrictions on Palestinians in the Occupied Territories, it is nevertheless an injustice.
As Judaism’s holiest site, the Kotel belongs to all Jews… including, y’know, women. The minhagim, the customs, of the small minority of ultra-Orthodox should no longer be allowed to rule over the world’s Jews. Though Israeli legislators are scrambling to find a solution, the longer the situation continues, the more relations between Israel and the diaspora will fracture further.
‘The need is great for books that tell different kinds of stories about families, reproduction, gender, and sexuality.’
Sometimes, it takes a community to build a book. Cory Silverberg and Fiona Smyth’s What Makes A Baby started as the little Kickstarter project that could, and bloomed into something much larger as both creators were bowled over by the community support they got for a children’s book that looked at reproductive rights in a more inclusive way. Cory was kind enough to answer a few questions about What Makes A Baby for Global Comment as he prepared for the book’s release; the book, picked up by Seven Stories Press, hit shelves on 21 May.
I am dreaming of the day that I can take this road trip.
“Free, Free Palestine!”
I used to lead the chants at protests as a teenager, but I was never entirely sure of what they meant. Of course, I knew my history. I knew that in 1948 the state of Israel was established leading to the expulsion of 100s of thousands of Palestinians to villages and refugee camps in the West Bank and Gaza. I knew that many more had fled the country, creating a diaspora of Palestinians larger than the amount of Palestinians that remained in Palestine. I knew that it seemed that at the slightest flinch from Hamas that Israel bombarded the Gaza Strip with F16s and drones, raining missiles from the skies over a strip of land that was already described as the largest open-air prison in the world.
How might you determine which adults are most deserving of care while waiting for federal funds? Would a Democratic voter registration card be sufficient to keep you in the hospital?
It’s a pretty familiar meme by now. After the explosion at the West Fertilizer Plant in West, Texas, some progressives couldn’t wait to weigh in on how Texans had deregulated business, implying that the 15 dead and 200 injured deserved what they got. Respectable journalists didn’t usually take things quite that far, but this was the lesson many heard when the articles went viral on social media.
When Moore, Oklahoma was devastated by a tornado more than a mile long, thousands of people tweeted to remind us that Oklahoma senators James Inhofe and Tom Coburn had voted against Hurricane Sandy relief in New Jersey and New York. Host Cenk Uygur echoed this sentiment on The Young Turks after responding to President Obama’s quick response with a quick, “Yeah, that’s not what I would’ve done. He continues:
As I read the stories, nine kids were killed, and there are these heroic stories about the teachers covering up the kids so they wouldn’t get blown away… So I feel tremendously for the people of Oklahoma, but, uh, their two senators are the most vile, ignorant senators there are in the country. And James Inhofe and Tom Coburn consistently vote against relief for other states. They did it on Superstorm Sandy, and they do it all the time. In fact, there was a $12.9 billion for future disaster mitigation which might’ve helped Oklahoma that they voted against. So if I’m President Obama, I would be tempted to say, ‘I will give this disaster
relief to Oklahoma because I’m the President of the United States and I represent everybody. But I will do it immediately after Coburn and Inhofe come out here and give a public apology to the rest of the nation for consistently voting against federal aid when you needed it. But they come begging to me for federal relief.
You can see the entire video here:
This interview was published on May 22, but be assured that similar sentiments were going viral even as Oklahoman first responders dug bodies from the ground. The Huffington Post was one offender, but by no means the only one.
Let’s pause here and consider the subtext of these statements. They seem to say, “I am sorry for the people of Oklahoma but only because I have a generous and magnanimous soul. I don’t really think the people of Oklahoma deserve my compassion.” This kind of “compassion” is offered for the sake of appearances – and allows the speaker to maintain his own sense of personal benevolence while dehumanizing entire segments of population and blaming the people of Moore, Oklahoma for their circumstances. For Uygur and those like him, the victims and survivors of the storm are nothing but the “deserving poor.” For secularists, the thinking gets pretty Old Testament – even children must pay for the sins of the fathers.
So, I’d love to hear from Uygur and others who have taken this position: When precisely would you halt the rescue mission while waiting for an apology for Inhofe and Coburn? Would you finish digging corpses out from the rubble? Would children be allowed to continue receiving emergency hospital care, or would that depend on their parents’ voting records? And how might you determine which adults are most deserving of care while waiting for federal funds? Would a Democratic voter registration card be sufficient to keep you in the hospital? What if some registered Democrats are Old South Dixiecrats who voted for the senators? Or should everyone who lives in Oklahoma pay for the votes of some once the local funds run out?
Uygur is promoting a really disgusting logic here – and one that should never, ever be confused for progressivism. He’s suggesting that the masses of people who are represented by two senators should receive assistance based on whether or not two of their elected officials show sufficient contrition. Never mind that most Southern states – and states thought of as “red states” in general – are usually far more politically divided than people realize. Up until the most recent election, more than 40 percent of voters chose Coburn’s opponent in every election of his life.
In 2010, only 29 percent voted against Coburn but in this case, the Democrats ran a virtually unknown candidate with little funding – policy analysts in Oklahoma tell me it was never a serious campaign, just a placeholder to keep a name on the ballot. Likewise, Jim Inhofe has never won an election by more than 57 percent. That’s a lot of Democratic voters.
But. And this is important: Even if every single Oklahoman had been unified behind the right, you would still be a soulless piece of shit for thinking of Oklahomans as Republicans rather than people worried about their friends, families and neighbors this week.
New York and New Jersey residents who are new to storm relief are incensed that their cities are still rebuilding. Well, so the fuck is New Orleans. And Princeville, North Carolina – the first town in the United States incorporated by African-Americans – was flattened by Hurricane Floyd in 1999, and it will never be rebuilt at all. Of course New York will be rebuilt.
It will not happen equitably – and undoubtedly poor people and people of color will make the most sacrifices. But forgive us for noticing that the magnanimous white liberals of the Northeast didn’t give a shit when our towns were destroyed – and have probably never, let’s face it, even heard of Princeville.
I live in North Carolina, an evenly split purple state – perhaps the most purple in the Union – commonly viewed by outsiders as red. I am certainly as liberal as anyone in America. We get both powerful tornadoes and devastating hurricanes here in the Southern Mid-Atlantic. I am not going to forget that when tragedy struck the people of Oklahoma, many liberals in the Northeast were more interested in using victims and survivors as object lessons rather than demonstrating meaningful compassion for them. I’m not going to forget, next time someone I love is harmed in a powerful storm, that your sympathy for my loved one who loses her home is contingent on her voting record. Nor will I forget that you might just think she shouldn’t be pulled from the rubble if she happens to be a Republican. And I certainly won’t forget the nausea I felt considering the fact that so many people on my political “side” will be self-satisfied and smug next time any of us in the Southern part of the country suffer a mass tragedy. You thought we deserved this all along. I’m not planning on expecting much from you – even now I remember that, when my state passed Amendment One, you were a lot more interested in making “cousin marriage” jokes than showing meaningful solidarity with LGBT people here.
What so often gets lost in these discussions is the fact that politicians are not mirror images of the people. If a far-right candidate gets elected anywhere outside the South, the media provides ample analysis and context explaining why. The Democratic Party in the district imploded and left a power vacuum. The Democrats ran a shoddy candidate and couldn’t get their act together in time to win. Lots of money from the Koch brothers and other far-right billionaires flowed through the state to buy the election.
We do not get the luxury of the benefit of the doubt when we make regressive political choices in the South. Even though our states are disproportionately poor, it doesn’t seem to occur to anyone that it might be easier – and cheaper! – to buy an election in a poor state than a rich one. What it costs for Art Pope to influence an election in North Carolina is far lower than what it might cost in New York. We are easy prey, and our people are the ones who suffer most because of it.
Then, to add insult to injury, progressives cast us as America’s deserving poor every time they’re not using us as punchlines. I do vote for the more progressive candidate in each election, and I’ll keep doing so because I support progressive policy no matter how smug, arrogant and unhelpful I might find Cenk Uygur, Bill Maher or any other number of smug Northeastern liberals who cannot bring themselves to view the residents of “red states” as fully human citizens whose deaths are as tragic as those left in the wake of Sandy.
I did not condemn Sandy relief efforts on the basis that Princeville was not rebuilt. Instead I checked on my friends and family in the path of the storm system. I’d love to see residents of poor states in the South receive the same basic courtesy. Cenk Uygur and others could even show solidarity with meaningful progressive activism ongoing in Oklahoma. That would be much more useful than showing up to make cruel, inhuman pronouncements over barely cold
dead children, just like the members of Westboro Baptist Church.
Photo by the National Guard, licensed under a Creative Commons 2.0 Attribution license.
“I’ve always been fascinated by the idea that a lot of very bad things happen when people have good intentions”
“Fiercely intelligent” is the phrase used by a recent acquaintance, whose husband worked on “Shadow Dancer,” to describe the film’s director James Marsh. It’s a spot-on assessment that I couldn’t agree with more. The Oscar-winning filmmaker behind “Man On Wire” – who I last interviewed for Global Comment in 2011 about his follow-up doc “Project Nim” – is an artist drawn to exploring the complexities and puzzles in life, rather than to providing grand conclusions or even any solutions. Such is the case with Marsh’s latest narrative feature, a nail-biting, Belfast-set thriller (starring the dynamite duo of Andrea Riseborough and Clive Owen) about a single mom forced to choose between going to jail for her involvement in an IRA bomb plot, or turning government informant and spying on her hardliner family. I spoke with the British-born, Denmark-based director prior to the flick’s NYC theatrical release on May 31st. (“Shadow Dancer” will also be available on iTunes and On Demand everywhere else.)
Mothers play a role in their childrens’ lives, yes; but they are not blank cardboard cutouts with nurturing expressions and no political awareness.
Try this exercise: What’s the last thing your mother said to you?
If you can’t remember, you’ve got company: I failed that exercise myself. The power of a mother’s voice is undeniable; it comes from a place so deep and ancient that the actual words she speaks are often overlooked, fogged over by a misty emotional aura. Politicians often invoke images of their own mothers, or the mothers of their children, to add to the mythmaking about their own journeys to power or to simply score political points. Pollsters cite the “soccer mom” demographic in elections, as if this were a real group with real positions on issues (it isn’t).
The question here wasn’t if the building was going to collapse, but when, and how many workers would be trapped when it did.
Today marks International Workers’ Day, and many marches, actions, and activities around the world as most of the globe’s workers and families celebrate labour and fair rights for workers. (The glaring exception being, of course, the US, which observes a separate Labour Day in September rather than joining in with May Day celebrations.) Tremendous strides have been made in the field of labour rights in the last century, but in other ways, it seems like workers are stuck on a treadmill, unable to progress much further from where they were in 1913, or 1863, for that matter.
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