ACTION ALERT: Netanyahu Weighed In — Will you?

March 4th, 2015 - by admin

Kate Gould / Friends Committee on National Legislation & Rabbi Michael Lerner / Tikkun Magazine – 2015-03-04 01:16:07

ACTION ALERT: Netanyahu Weighed In — Will you?
Kate Gould / Friends Committee on National Legislation

Today, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and more than 15,000 advocates are on the Hill pressing Congress for anti-diplomacy legislation and new sanctions on Iran. Netanyahu just finished his speech on the floor of the House, where he spoke out against the current negotiations.

Your members of Congress are hearing a lot of opposition to diplomacy. They need to hear that their constituents support the ongoing talks with Iran. Please call Congress today, and urge them to let diplomacy work.

You’ve already done so much to protect delicate negotiations around Iran’s nuclear program. Thanks in large part to your calls, emails and lobby visits around the country, anti-diplomacy sanctions legislation that was intended to pass in January is currently shelved until at least the end of this month.

What’s more, dozens of members of Congress spoke out before Prime Minister Netanyahu’s speech. They question the content and timing of the speech, and the manner in which the prime minister was invited to speak without consulting the White House. Some legislators expressed their concern by not attending the speech, while others voiced their ardent support for the negotiations and opposition to new sanctions.

But anti-diplomacy legislation could still shipwreck a deal before the deadline for a political framework agreement at the end of this month. That’s why your senators need to hear from you. Call your senators’ offices and ask that they oppose anti-diplomacy legislation and speak out in support ongoing talks.

Please call 1-855-68 NO WAR (1-855-686-6927) and ask for your senator’s office.

Here are some talking points to help you make your call:
My name is ______, and I’m from [city], [state].
Please support the ongoing talks to prevent a nuclear-armed Iran and another war.
I hope the senator will oppose two bills that could lead to a collapse of the talks: the Menendez-Kirk sanctions bill (S. 269) and the Corker-Graham legislation mandating an ‘up or down’ vote on any agreement reached with Iran.
Thank you.

As always, thank you for your tireless work for diplomacy and peace.

Kate Gould is the FNNL’s Legislative Associate for Middle East Policy

P.S. For more context about the problems in content, timing and protocol with Prime Minister Netanyahu’s speech, see the author’s blog post with Scoville Fellow Wardah Khalid.

Benjamin Netanyahu’s Fantasy World
Rabbi Michael Lerner / Tikkun Magazine

“If you take out Saddam, Saddam’s regime, I guarantee you that it will have enormous positive reverberations on the region.”
— Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu urging the US to invade Iraq in 2002

(March 3, 2015) — Netanyahu’s speech to Congress was brilliantly deceitful because it played to the fantasies that Israeli propaganda and right wing militarists in the US have been popularizing for the past thirty years.

The biggest fantasy: that we can coerce others through power over them to do what we consider in the best interests of the US or Israel. This is what I call “The Strategy of Domination.” A more effective path is “The Strategy of Generosity” — showing others that we care about them and recognize their needs as being equally legitimate to our own.

This second approach is the view that made trade between tribes, and eventually between nations possible in the past, and it remains the view that makes it possible for most countries of the world to live in peace with their neighbors. They hate to do business with those who think that they can get their way through power-tripping and manipulations and threats.

This struggle between two world views is the core of the debate today in the US and the reason that the militarists have the upper hand is because the Obama Administration, fearing that it might be ridiculed as believing in “kumbaya politics,” used its first six years to pursue policies that better fit the Strategy of Domination than the Strategy of Generosity.

Predictably, now it finds itself without a popular base for turning toward a more rational path in regard to Iran, having to frame its policies in terms of his policies’ toughness rather than in terms of their humanity and reflection of higher ethical values.

I know so many people who shake their heads in despair at the growth of the right-wing consciousness in the US in every sphere except identity politics, but really what other discourse are they ever exposed to? Obama should embrace the Biblical call for “love the stranger/the other” and challenge Americans to take that call seriously.

Instead, he tries to measure up against the criteria set by the militarists. Guess what? In that coercion-oriented arena liberals and progressives will always fail, because you have to be unscrupulous to win there.

Netanyahu is a master of manipulating the fantasies that the right-wing discourse advances. For example, the view of the world that sees “our side” (whether that ‘our’ be the US or Israel) as always innocent and good, and “the other” as intrinsically evil.

• So consider his claim that it is Iran that has been making war against countries in the Middle East. No . . . actually it is the US that has been making war against those countries in the past 12 years. You will have to look very hard to find any Iranian troops in Iraq, Syria, Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, Jordan, or Egypt in the past 12 years. But you will find tens of thousands of American troops in Afghanistan and Iraq in the past twelve years.

Similarly, it is Israel that has been decimating Gaza, not Iran decimating a neighboring city or province or country. From a global perspective, and based on the behavior of these countries in the past two decades ever since the peace-oriented prime minister of Israel, Yitzhak Rabin, was murdered by a right wing religious Zionist, the world has more to fear from the US and Israel and our indomitable sense of self-righteousness than it does from Iran.

• Iran is the biggest violator of human rights in the region. Not so fast. Iran has some stiff competition with America’s ally Saudi Arabia, not to mention the US torture operations in Abu Ghraib. In fact, the US still won’t release the full US Senate report on its torture operations around the world because they would be too shocking to the US population.

And the CIA chief recently appointed by President Obama insists that the CIA was not involved in torture, and the Obama Administration refuses to bring charges against any CIA agents who were engaged in torture, thus giving a signal to future torturers that they will be exempt from any punishments. We will deplore their behavior, but then let them continue it.

Undermining negotiations with Iran by continuing sanctions and offering no serious benefits for Iran to agree to anything would lead to Iran accelerating its nuclear program out of fear that it might soon be facing a war with Israel and the US and perceiving itself as vulnerable unless it quickly develops nukes for itself. So following Netanyahu’s path would actually create the very situation he claims to fear — a renewed commitment on the part of Iran to develop nuclear weapon capability.

• Israel is a beacon of democracy. Well . . . not so fast. Palestinians living within the West Bank and Gaza are living under the effective control of Israel on most matters of life, pay taxes to the Israeli government, must get permission from Israel to lave those areas, yet have no vote in the elections (though Jews living in the West Bank do have the right to vote). It’s certainly better than what faces people in many other Middle Eastern countries, but it’s a stretch to call Israel a democracy as long as the Occupation continues.

• Iran with nuclear weapons would be a danger to everyone. Well, that’s partially true and partially false. It’s true to the extent that any country having nuclear weapons is a danger to everyone on the planet (though the US is the only country in the world to have ever actually used nuclear weapons in a war).

But it’s not true that Iran would use those weapons. While I detest the current regime in Iran and hope for its nonviolent overthrow by the people of Iran, I see nothing in their behavior that leads me to believe that they are suicidal. On the contrary, they have a strong desire to make their Islamic republic the model for all future Islamic societies.

Iranian leaders know full well that Israel has the capacity, should Iran strike at Israel, to use its 200 nuclear bombs to wipe Iran off the face of the planet, if the US didn’t do that first in the event of an Iranian use of nuclear weapons against Israel. So Netanyahu’s paranoid fantasy only seems plausible if you think that Iran is the equivalent of the Nazi regime. And that is precisely where political analysis has to yield to psychological investigation.

In my book Embracing Israel/Palestine ( ) based in part on research I did while living in Israel and doing research at Tel Aviv U. and Hebrew U. in Jerusalem, I describe the devastating consequences of Post Traumatic Stress Disorder on the capacity of those who have suffered extreme stress or oppression to make rational decisions for themselves. The PTSD is most acute in both the Israeli and Palestinian population, but far less so among Iranians who have never suffered in the past 70 years the way Jews and Palestinians have.

So if we have any worries about possession of nuclear weapons, that concern should direct us to seeking nuclear disarmament from Israel. But for the impact of PTSD, having those 200 nukes should have yielded Israel a payoff in feeling secure. Instead, Israel continues to live under the cloud of the 70 year old trauma of the Holocaust, and the Prime Minister of Israel comes to the US to shout “Never Again.”

But that slogan was originally meant to be a slogan concerning all peoples — so that no one should ever suffer what Jews suffered. The path to a war with Iran would make a mockery of that slogan. So it was tragic to see Elie Wiesel allowing himself to become a political pawn in Netnayahu’s fantasy trip.

All this plays well for the US militarists and their cheerleaders among Christian Zionists and the rightwing of the Jewish Zionist movement. They raise the same fears and solutions they raised 55 years ago when they hoped to push the US into a war with the Soviet Union when it developed nuclear weapons. That war would have cost millions of lives, and saner voices prevailed. President Eisenhower warned about the dangers of the military/industrial complex and its ability to push the US toward wars.

But Democrats, fearful of being called weak, brought us the War in Vietnam, and refused to cut off funds when the Republicans led us into the trillion-dollar debacle of the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq. Now those same moral idiots who led us into the Iraq war want to let Netanyahu’s brilliant manipulation of our quite justified desire to see Israel remain safe and strong lead us into a war with Iran.

We should resist such a folly. We could have used that trillion dollars to end global and domestic homelessness, hunger, poverty, inadequate health care, inadequate education, and to repair the destruction advanced industrial societies both capitalist and socialist have done to the global environment.

Such a Global Marshall Plan might be dismissed as “unrealistic,” just as the movements to end apartheid and segregation, provide equal rights for women, end legal discrimination against gays and lesbians, were also dismissed at first as unrealistic, naive, utopian or even “dangerous.”

But the only way we can succeed in stopping the Republicans and AIPAC Democrats from following like lemmings the Netanyahu path is to present and powerfully advocate for an alternative — the Strategy of Generosity and a Global Marshall Plan modeled on the one we at Tikkun and our interfaith and secular-humanist-welcoming Network of Spiritual Progressives have developed (d0wnload the full version of our Global Marshall Plan at

Please join us in developing this path rather than in the futuile path of domination that will only confirm the fears of the most paranoid elements of all sides.

You dont have to believe in God or be part of a spiritual or religious tradition or practice to be a “spiritual progressive.” You are a spiritual progressives by our definition if you want institutions, social practices, government policies, corporations, our educational system, our legal system to be judged “efficient, rational or productive” to the extent that they maximize our capacities to be loving, caring for each other and the earth, supporting generosity instead of domination, and responding to the universe not solely as “a resource” for human purposes but with a sense of awe, wonder and radical amazement at the grandeur and preciousness of life itself and the universe in which it has evolved!

Please join the Network of Spiritual Progressives at (when you join you will get a one year free subscription to Tikkun magazine).

Rabbi Michael Lerner is editor of Tikkun, co-chair with Indian environmental activist Vandana Shiva of the Network of Spiritual Progressives, holds a ph.d. in philosophy and a second ph.d. in psychology and was principal investigator of research on stress for the NIMH. He has written 11 books including 2 national best sellers (Jewish Renewal: A Path of Healing and Transformation and The Left Hand of God: Taking Back Our Country from the Religious Right). He is rabbi of Beyt Tikkun Synagogue-Without-Walls in Berkeley and San Francisco, California.

Copyright 2014 Tikkun ® / Network of Spiritual Progressives®
2342 Shattuck Avenue, #1200
Berkeley, CA 94704
510-644-1200 Fax 510-644-1255

No, Mr. Netanyahu
Tikkun Magazine / The Network of Spiritual Progressives

We invite you to sign the ad below, which appeared in the NY Times on March 2nd, and to donate to help us spread this message through American and Israeli media. Don’t let Netanyahu and American militarists push us into another war.

Help us spread the message that Americans do not want a war with Iran — both through Israeli and American media, through social media (Facebook, Twitter, etc.), and organizing. Sign the ad below and donate to make it possible for us to spread the word. You may also view a PDF version of how the ad looked in the New York Times.

No, Mr. Netanyahu — you do not speak for American Jews
Most polls indicate that a majority of American Jews (and most non-Jews) support President Obama’s attempt to negotiate a settlement that would prohibit Iranian development of nuclear weapons rather than the Netanyahu approach of undermining those negotiations.

Most polls indicate that a majority of American Jews oppose the expansion of West Bank settlements that Netanyahu favors and support the creation of an independent Palestinian state living in peace with Israel.

And . . . The American People
Do Not Want a War with Iran!

Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu’s attempt to shape American foreign policy toward Iran is unwelcome. A poll in February showed 62% of Americans opposed the way that the Republican leadership had invited Netanyahu to speak. Choosing to make his American visit a few days ahead of Israeli elections lead some to suspect that his visit is a tactic to help build support for his political party.

Misleadingly, much of the media quotes “American Jewish leaders” who support Netanyahu — but those leaders are not elected by American Jews and the media should be quoting leaders who represent the majority sentiments of American Jews who have long been committed to peace and reconciliation with the Palestinian people.

While many of us hope to see the people of Iran non-violently work to transform Iranian society to foster democracy and human rights, we know that war with Iran will only strengthen the repressive hold of the Islamic fundamentalists and decrease the security of Americans and of Jews around the world. So we oppose the efforts of some in Congress and the Netanyahu faction in Israel who together seek to derail negotiations with Iran.

We who sign this ad (the full list can be read at are American Jews and our non-Jewish allies who oppose any attempt to drag the American people into another war. We remember the way that the Bush Administration lied us into a war with Iraq by providing false information about a non-existent threat of Iraqi nuclear weapons.

We do not need a repeat of that scenario as militarists in Israel and the US once again use the fear of non-existent nuclear weapons to manipulate us into another war. It is not in the interests of the U.S., Israel or the people of the world.

The strategy of domination over those identified as “evil others” and used by the US and Israel as the path to homeland security has not worked. Using force, violence, wars, bombings, torture, and coercion has been tried for the past five thousand years and it has not produced a world of peace or security.

It is time to switch from full spectrum dominance to a Strategy of Generosity. The US spent over a trillion dollars on the war in Iraq and Afghanistan. The outcome was a greatly weakened Iraq and ISIL (the “Islamic State”) armed with weapons brought to the region by the US.

That same trillion dollars could have been used to create a Global Marshall Plan that could have wiped out global and domestic poverty, homelessness, hunger, inadequate education and inadequate health care — thereby demonstrating to the world a U.S. that cares for the well-being of others (see for example, a resolution in support of which was introduced into the Congress by Rep. Ellison and endorsed by two dozen other Congressional reps).

The Islamic extremists and others who resort to violence would have a much harder time recruiting fighters and supporters to struggles against the West if we were known to the world through our generosity, humility and respect for indigenous cultures rather than through our military and economic power.

Similarly Israel would achieve far greater security were it acting in a spirit of generosity toward the Palestinian people. The “realists” scoff at such thinking — yet their strategies have continually failed for thousands of years.

Signatories. For a full list of the 2400+ signatories visit (all institutions listed below for identification purposes only)

Rabbi Michael Lerner, Editor Tikkun Magazine
Cat J. Zavis, Executive Director of the Network of Spiritual Progressives

Inner Editorial Board, Tikkun
Rabbi Aryeh Cohen, Prof. Rabbinic Literature at American Jewish University, L.A.
Jill Goldberg, Langara College
Peter Gabel, Editor at Large
Dr. Aaron J. Hahn Tapper, Director Jewish Studies, USF
Dr. Deborah Kory, Psychologist
Prof. Mark Levine, Political Science, UC Irvine
Ana Levy-Lyons
Prof. Cynthia Moe Lobeda, author of Resisting Structural Evil
Prof. Shaul Magid, Chair, Jewish Studies, Indiana University
Dr. Phillip Wolfson, Psychiatrist
Prof. Stephen Zunes, Politics and International Studies, USF

Copyright 2014 Network of Spiritual Progressives and Tikkun Magazine
2342 Shattuck Avenue, #1200 – Berkeley, CA 94704 — Phone 510-644-1200 – Fax 510-644-1255