by Doug Muder, The Daily Sift, 11/23/15
Six things ordinary people can do to restore sanity.
One of the most difficult experiences of democracy is to watch your country going crazy, and feel responsible. In a dictatorship you could just zone out: The Powers That Be will do what they do, and your opinion doesn’t matter anyway. Your neighbors, your friends, your co-workers — their opinions don’t matter either, so there’s no point in arguing with them, or even letting them know you disagree. You might as well just binge-watch something light on TV, and wait for the wave to pass.
In a democracy it’s different: We are the wave. Politicians really do respond to certain kinds of public opinion, sometimes to our shame. So, for example, my Democratic governor (Maggie Hassan of New Hampshire, who I have voted for, given money to, and was planning to support for the Senate) called for a halt on admitting Syrian refugees. (She later reduced it to a “pause“, “until intelligence and defense officials can assure that the process for vetting all refugees is as strong as possible to ensure public safety.” But the damage was done: Any governor who wants to come out against refugees can claim bipartisan support.) My representative (Annie Kuster of NH-2, who I have also voted for and given money to) voted Yes on the American Security Against Foreign Enemies Act, which at a minimum would delay any new refugee resettlements by 2 or 3 months, and might snafu the process altogether.  (Check your representative’s vote here.)
If my side has been characterized by politicians timidly letting the panic sweep them away, on the other side it’s been bedlam. Ben Carson is openly dehumanizing refugees with metaphors about “rabid dogs”. Donald Trump is talking about closing mosques, because “we’re going to have no choice”. He has advocated forcing American Muslims to register with the government, so that they can be tracked in a database. Marco Rubio expanded Trump’s proposal to call for shutting down “anyplace where radicals are being inspired”. Ted Cruz and Jeb Bush want a religious test for refugees: We should accept Christians, but not Muslims. John Kasich wants to create a government agency to promote “Judeo-Christian values” around the world. 
Chris Christie says we shouldn’t even let in little kids….
continue reading and follow links at The Daily Sift
by Lawrence Davidson, To the Point Analyses
Part I – Reform Judaism vs. Israel
Something significant recently happened in the ongoing political-ethical drama that grips Israel and, by extension, Jewish communities worldwide. As reported by the Jewish Daily Forward on on 6 November 2015, Rabbi Rick Jacobs, the president of the Union for Reform Judaism (a position that makes him the leader of largest Jewish denomination in the United States), publicly broke with Israel’s political and religious leadership. In a major speech at the Union’s biennial conference he said, “Asking Jews around the world only to wave the flag of Israel and to support even the most misguided policies of its leaders drives a wedge between the Jewish soul and the Jewish state.” Going public in this fashion is significant and welcome. However, as we shall see, this aspect of his critique has a long history.
Jacobs then got more specific: “the treatment of Israel’s minorities” and the “way ultra-Orthodox views of Judaism are being enshrined in secular law” are indications that Israeli society is “broken” and that Reform Jews will not be quiet about this. Jacobs offers the concept of Tikkun olam or “good works that benefit the wider community” and the “power and wisdom of pluralism” as antidotes that can help “repair” Israel. This is potentially powerful stuff for the situation here in the U.S., if not in Israel itself….
continue reading at To the Point Analyses
Amnesty International Group 342, 11/4/15
Group 342 member Barbara attended the Bars, Barriers, or Justice expo and conference held in West Chester, PA, on 31 October. She wrote the following report (originally posted here) about the event and has given permission for it to be reproduced on this blog.
Sunday, November 1, 2015
Hidden in not-so-plain sight
Who goes to prison in our country and who goes free? Do we help integrate released prisoners back into society . . . or do we force them to spend the rest of their lives paying their debt?
These were the hefty human questions considered at yesterday’s “Bars, Barriers, or Justice?” expo and conference, held at the C. A. Melton Arts and Education Center in West Chester, PA. My husband Bob and I represented Amnesty International Group 342 and were accompanied by Ron Coburn, Bidisha, and Elzat from the AIUSA Philadelphia Group.
I had the privilege of speaking on the morning panel with Patrick Hall of Campaign to Defeat the New Jim Crow and T.L. (short for Talila Lewis) from HEARD (Helping Educate to Advance the Rights of the Deaf)….
continue reading and see photos and links at Amnesty International Group 342