Be Careful What You Wish For: Not So Strange Bedfellows Edition

So today the American Jewish Congress and the Islamic Society of North America formally entered into a civil rights protection and promotion and civil society defense agreement:

NEW YORK, Nov. 14, 2016 The Muslim-Jewish Advisory Council, a new national group of leading Muslim and Jewish Americans, was launched this month at a meeting convened by the American Jewish Committee (AJC) and the Islamic Society of North America (ISNA).

The Council brings together recognized business, political, and religious leaders in the Jewish and Muslim American communities to jointly advocate on issues of common concern. Stanley Bergman, CEO of Henry Schein, and Farooq Kathwari, President and CEO of Ethan Allen, are the Council’s co-chairs, and the initial members are listed below.

At the group’s inaugural meeting, the Muslim and Jewish participants met for two hours to get to know one another, discuss the Council’s mission, and identify and agree on a domestic policy agenda. Among the Council’s initial action items are:

  • The Council will highlight the contributions of Muslims and Jews to American society, and aim to celebrate their contributions in the best traditions of American democracy.
  • The Council will develop a coordinated strategy to address anti-Muslim bigotry and anti-Semitism in the U.S.
  • The Council will work to protect and expand the rights of religious minorities in the U.S., as enshrined in the Constitution, so they may practice their faiths in full freedom and security.

“Our two communities share much in common and should find ways, where possible, to work together for the benefit of the entire country,” said Stanley Bergman, Co-Chair of the Council.

“The Council aims to provide a model for civic engagement by two communities, vital to American society, that agree to work together on issues of common concern and overlapping interest,” said Farooq Kathwari, Co-Chair of the Council.

The initial members of the Muslim-Jewish Advisory Council are:

Ms. Raheemah Abdulaleem, KARAMAH
Ms. Shakila Ahmad, Islamic Center of Greater Cincinnati
Chaplain Tahera Ahmad, Northwestern University
Imam Shamsi Ali, Nusantara Foundation
Ms. Roberta Baruch, AJC Commission on Interreligious Affairs
Mr. Stanley M. Bergman, Henry Schein Inc.
Rabbi Angela Buchdahl, Central Synagogue
Ms. Rabia Chaudry, United States Institute of Peace
Senator Norman Coleman, Hogan Lovells
Mr. Steven Collis, AmerisourceBergen
Rabbi Joshua Davidson, Congregation Emanu-El of the City of New York
Ambassador Stuart E. Eizenstat, Covington & Burling LLP
Imam Plemon El-Amin, World Pilgrims
Mr. David Harris, AJC
Mr. S.A. Ibrahim, Radian Group
Congressman Steven Israel, United States House of Representatives
Mr. Farooq Kathwari, Ethan Allen Interiors
Mr. Suhail Khan, Microsoft Corporation
Ms. Daisy Khan, Women’s Islamic Initiative for Spirituality & Equality (WISE)
Mr. Farhan Latif, El-Hibri Foundation
Mr. David Levin, McGraw Hill Education
Mr. Moses Libitzky, Libitzky Property Companies
Senator Joseph Lieberman, Kasowitz Benson Torres & Friedman LLP
Dr. Deborah E. Lipstadt, Emory University
Imam Mohamed Magid, All Dulles Area Muslim Society (ADAMS)
Mr. Talat Othman, Grove Financial, Inc.
Rabbi Yehuda Sarna, New York University
Rabbi Julie Schonfeld, the Rabbinical Assembly
Imam Talib M. Shareef, The Nation’s Mosque, Masjid Muhammad
Dr. Sayyid Syeed, ISNA
Rabbi David Wolpe, Sinai Temple, Los Angeles

As you can imagine the white supremacists, white nationalists, race realists, anti-Semites, and Islamaphobes (also homphobes and xenophobes) that are now being marketed as the alt-right are not amused.

The white supremacists, white nationalists, race realists, anti-Semites, and Islamaphobes (also homphobes and xenophobes) that are now being marketed as the alt-right have always believed there was a Jewish conspiracy against them. And more recently a Muslim one. Well boys and girls you got what you wanted, though it looks like this is going to happen in the bright light of day. Expect to see more of this common cause finding and making between now and he inauguration.



Late Night Fond Melancholy for A Spiritual Teacher

From the Rolling Stone story MisterMix posted earlier:

… “My father passed away peacefully at his home in Los Angeles with the knowledge that he had completed what he felt was one of his greatest records,” Cohen’s son Adam wrote in a statement to Rolling Stone. “He was writing up until his last moments with his unique brand of humor.”…

“I never had the sense that there was an end,” he said in 1992. “That there was a retirement or that there was a jackpot.”…

The final act of Cohen’s career began in 2005, when Lorca Cohen began to suspect her father’s longtime manager, Kelley Lynch, of embezzling funds from his retirement account. In fact, Lynch had robbed Cohen of more than $5 million. To replenish the fund, Cohen undertook an epic world tour during which he would perform 387 shows from 2008 to 2013. He continued to record as well, releasing Old Ideas (2012) and Popular Problems, which hit U.S. shops a day after his eightieth birthday. “[Y]ou depend on a certain resilience that is not yours to command, but which is present,” he told Rolling Stone upon its release. “And if you can sense this resilience or sense this capacity to continue, it means a lot more at this age than it did when I was 30, when I took it for granted.”…

Along with my deep sadness, I’m embarrassed that our country just showed its frog-belly-white arse so gleefully in front of this man, by electing (with an asterisk) the kind of gaudy shouting grifter Leonard Cohen had warned us about for so many years. It’s not the worst thing about Tuesday’s debacle, nor will it be the last insult, but for me it’s one more irritant and sorrow.








Open Thread: Happy Divali/Deepavali!

India’s Festival of Lights:

Diwali is one of the biggest Hindu festivals celebrated among many people and communities in the United States… Many homes that celebrate Diwali have assorted sweets, savories and Diwali herbs. Some communities organize firework displays and states such as Utah have proclaimed Diwali as one of their state festivals…

Diwali is called the Festival of Lights and is celebrated to honor Rama-chandra, the seventh avatar (incarnation of the god Vishnu). It is believed that on this day Rama returned to his people after 14 years of exile during which he fought and won a battle against the demons and the demon king, Ravana. People lit their houses to celebrate his victory over evil (light over darkness).

The goddess of happiness and good fortune, Lakshmi, also figures into the celebration. It is believed that she roams the Earth on this day and enters the house that is pure, clean, and bright. Diwali celebrations may vary in different communities but its significance and spiritual meaning is generally “the awareness of the inner light”.

Lamps, fireworks and bonfires illuminate this holiday, as the word “Deepawali” means “a row or cluster of lights” or “rows of diyas (clay lamps)”. The festival symbolizes the victory of righteousness and the lifting of spiritual darkness. The goddess Lakshmi, who symbolizes wealth, happiness and prosperity, is also worshipped during Diwali.

Here’s to a new year of light, happiness, prosperity, and the victory of righteousness!








From the History Archives: When Rudy Met Hillary

So tonight is the annual Alfred E. Smith Memorial Foundation Dinner, one of those anodyne quasi-political events which become news only in years when the politics are particularly inflamed. Since His Eminence Cardinal Timothy Dolan is a notorious trimmer who, some people say, was rewarded by Pope Benedict with the plum NYC residency for hiding Church assets from lawsuits by survivors of clerical abuse, and who has since made a prominent pest of himself encouraging hardcore fellow Talibangelicals to resist civil laws protecting reproductive rights and same-sex marriage, reportorial hopes are high for this year’s event. Per the NYTimes:

On Thursday night, Hillary Clinton and Donald J. Trump will appear together again for a ritzier gathering, delivering remarks at the white-tie Al Smith charity dinner at the Waldorf Astoria in Manhattan.

In most presidential campaigns, the dinner, which benefits Roman Catholic charities, functions as a welcome respite, a forum for levity and self-deprecation in the throes of a heated election.

This year’s may be more complicated.

Convened less than 24 hours after the caustic final debate on Wednesday, the event would appear, on paper, to be nothing less than a high-society nightmare for Mr. Trump…

The Clinton campaign has in recent days been forced to navigate its own turmoil after the hacked correspondences of top aides appeared to include messages criticizing Catholic conservatism…

Which reminded me that I wanted to share a remarkable Gail Sheehy article from back in 2000, a Vanity Fair piece on a related NYC event, “When Hillary Clinton and Rudy Giuliani Did Battle for a Senate Seat”:

Tonight is Rudy’s night. It is the annual New York spectacle known as the Inner Circle, where reporters skewer the mayor in cute, amateurish skits, and Hizzoner has the chance for rebuttal with his own skit. Since nobody upstages Rudolph Giuliani, his will be a Broadway-class show, perhaps his final bravura performance before November 2000, when he hopes to be turned out of the mayor’s office by virtue of his election to the United States Senate.

This evening, however, the ravening city media corps is not his chief target. Instead, it is Hillary, formerly Hillary Clinton. The two have been circling each other with the wary menace of prizefighters in the opening round, but it’s been a year now, and still they have not been in the same room. Tonight’s spectacle at the Hilton in midtown Manhattan has drawn an unusually large crowd, 1,300, including poohbahs representing every fissure in New York’s unstable political ground. They are all packed into the grand ballroom, hoping to witness the combatants touch gloves for the first time.
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Late Night Open Thread: “… The Christian Aristocrats!”

As some of us remember all too well, Jerry Falwell Senior made a great profit for himself and his Liberty University project by embracing Ronald Reagan’s most thuggish social policies as the mouthpiece of his very own “Moral Majority“. Now, just as Trump’s campaign has managed to permanently damage the (undeserved) reputations of a number of Reagan-era political holdovers, it looks like he’s going to bang up some of the Religious Reicht’s most valuable second-gen players on his way to flaming out.

From the Washington Post, “Liberty University students protest association with Trump“:

Students at Liberty University have issued a statement against Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump as young conservatives at colleges across the state reconsider support for his campaign.

A statement issued late Wednesday by the group Liberty United Against Trump strongly rebuked the candidate as well as the school’s president, Jerry Falwell Jr., for defending Trump after he made extremely lewd comments about women in a 2005 video. The students wrote that Falwell’s support for Trump had cast a stain on the school’s reputation.

“We are Liberty students who are disappointed with President Falwell’s endorsement and are tired of being associated with one of the worst presidential candidates in American history,” the statement said. “Donald Trump does not represent our values and we want nothing to do with him. … He has made his name by maligning others and bragging about his sins. Not only is Donald Trump a bad candidate for president, he is actively promoting the very things that we as Christians ought to oppose.”…

Paul Ryan attempted to faith-shame Clinton staffers, got rebuked by actual practicing Catholics:


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Excellent Long Read: “Leonard Cohen Makes It Darker”

Suspect there may be a few here who also admire this spiritual seeker / musician. David Remnick, in the New Yorker:

Leonard Cohen lives on the second floor of a modest house in Mid-Wilshire, a diverse, unglamorous precinct of Los Angeles. He is eighty-two. Between 2008 and 2013, he was on tour more or less continuously. It is highly unlikely that his health will permit such rigors ever again. Cohen has an album coming out in October—obsessed with mortality, God-infused, yet funny, called “You Want It Darker”—but friends and musical associates say they’d be surprised to see him onstage again except in a limited way: a single performance, perhaps, or a short residency at one venue. When I e-mailed ahead to ask Cohen out for dinner, he said that he was more or less “confined to barracks.”

Not long ago, one of Cohen’s most frequent visitors, and an old friend of mine—Robert Faggen, a professor of literature—brought me by the house. Faggen met Cohen twenty years ago in a grocery store, at the foot of Mt. Baldy, the highest of the San Gabriel Mountains, an hour and a half east of Los Angeles. They were both living near the top of the mountain: Bob in a cabin where he wrote about Frost and Melville and drove down the road to teach his classes at Claremont McKenna College; Cohen in a small Zen Buddhist monastery, where he was an ordained monk. As Faggen was shopping for cold cuts, he heard a familiar basso voice across the store; he looked down the aisle and saw a small, trim man, his head shaved, talking intently with a clerk about varieties of potato salad. Faggen’s musical expertise runs more to Mahler’s lieder than to popular song. But he is an admirer of Cohen’s work and introduced himself. They have been close friends ever since…

Marianne’s death was only a few weeks in the past, and Cohen was still amazed at the way his letter—an e-mail to a dying friend—had gone viral, at least in the Cohen-ardent universe. He hadn’t set out to be public about his feelings, but when one of Marianne’s closest friends, in Oslo, asked to release the note, he didn’t object. “And since there’s a song attached to it, and there’s a story . . .” he said. “It’s just a sweet story. So in that sense I’m not displeased.”

Like anyone of his age, Cohen counts the losses as a matter of routine. He seemed not so much devastated by Marianne’s death as overtaken by the memory of their time together. “There would be a gardenia on my desk perfuming the whole room,” he said. “There would be a little sandwich at noon. Sweetness, sweetness everywhere.”

Cohen’s songs are death-haunted, but then they have been since his earliest verses. A half century ago, a record executive said, “Turn around, kid. Aren’t you a little old for this?” But, despite his diminished health, Cohen remains as clear-minded and hardworking as ever, soldierly in his habits. He gets up well before dawn and writes. In the small, spare living room where we sat, there were a couple of acoustic guitars leaning against the wall, a keyboard synthesizer, two laptops, a sophisticated microphone for voice recording. Working with an old collaborator, Pat Leonard, and his son, Adam, who has the producer’s credit, Cohen did much of his work for “You Want It Darker” in the living room, e-mailing recorded files to his partners for additional refinements. Age and the end of age provide a useful, if not entirely desired, air of quiet.

“In a certain sense, this particular predicament is filled with many fewer distractions than other times in my life and actually enables me to work with a little more concentration and continuity than when I had duties of making a living, being a husband, being a father,” he said. “Those distractions are radically diminished at this point. The only thing that mitigates against full production is just the condition of my body.

“For some odd reason,” he went on, “I have all my marbles, so far. I have many resources, some cultivated on a personal level, but circumstantial, too: my daughter and her children live downstairs, and my son lives two blocks down the street. So I am extremely blessed. I have an assistant who is devoted and skillful. I have a friend like Bob and another friend or two who make my life very rich. So in a certain sense I’ve never had it better. . . . At a certain point, if you still have your marbles and are not faced with serious financial challenges, you have a chance to put your house in order. It’s a cliché, but it’s underestimated as an analgesic on all levels. Putting your house in order, if you can do it, is one of the most comforting activities, and the benefits of it are incalculable.”…



Open Thread: We’re With Her, Too

This is what being ‘people of faith’ is supposed to look like: These Mormons take their religion’s teachings seriously, and attempt in their daily lives to live up to its ideals. And when it comes time to vote for civic leaders, they look for those who’ve also tried to live by their common virtues, even if their punchlist of “issues” isn’t in total alignment. (As a nun once told me, We’re looking for guidelines here, not for loopholes.) Good for the people in this ad… and for the people on HRC’s media team that put it together!