Countering the Politics of Fear: Al Tirah!

Rabbi Sharon Brous of IKAR narrates a video by the makers of The Great Schelp that prompts you and us to counter the politics of fear. Says Mik Moore on the Huffington Post as Jewish FundS for Justice launches Al Tirah:

With many Americans stressed and stretched by economic uncertainty, political leaders and media personalities are stoking our fears of outsiders, the perpetual “other,” and whatever election-time boogiemen they can conceive. The use of fear to drive voters to the polls or away from the polls is nothing new.

I often hear the trope that Germany — like America now — was an open and “civilized” society before nationalist and xenophobic powers whipped the country into an anti-Semitic, anti-gay, anti-foreigner froth. “It can happen anywhere,” the bubbes warn us. The great swath of Jewish defense organizations were established to bulwark against the potential of the Goldene Medina from stumbling upon that same slippery slope.

It is then a wonder why the organized Jewish community has raised only pithy condemnations of the rising tide of fear-based politics in the last year. Some have even participated in the xenophobia by casting blame upon Park 51 for choosing downtown Manhattan as location for a Muslim community center. If only fear-mongering weren’t part and parcel of the fundraising strategies of too many major Jewish institutions already.

Thus the torch has been taken up by the nascent Jewish social justice sector to declare, in Rabbi Brous’ words, Al tirah! Do not fear. Mentioned more times in the Torah than any other edict, 122 times, al tirah is a command billowing from the depths of Judaism’s core belief in the inherent goodness of every human being. And it is a reminder from the most hopeless moments in Jewish history, al tirah, every generation found hope to conquer evil.

I am a perpetual optimist. I believe there is no true evil in the hearts of human beings, only yetzer ha-ra — greed and selfishness. Fear is but an unchecked stampede of selfishness and greed. Counter the politics of fear with generosity and understanding. Any time your uncle sends another chain email calling Obama a Muslim, email back this video with the message, al tirah, do not fear. It is affirmative, but it is also a rejection, a permission to stand firm. With all the fear boiling from right-wing partisans seeking greater power, we have an obligation to stand firm, reject their fear, and protect America’s best principles.

My blessings upon Jewish FundS for Justice for their work and this video — may it reach 1 million views!

Fan the Al-Tirah monsters on Facebook. And in addition to Jewish FundS for Justice’s presence at the Rally to Restore Sanity, you can join J Street DC, New Israel Fund and others too. Name them below if you know more good orgs to go with.

30 Responses to “Countering the Politics of Fear: Al Tirah!”

  1. Greetings:
    It is offensive, but no surprise, that Jewish Funds for Justice launched an “Al Tirah” website.
    Most ironically, you are defending Sharia Law, which is wages war on human rights and women in general, and which is perhaps the most fear-driven of modern religions.
    The video is cute, but not convincing. There are real things to fear, and Islam is one. Further, Islam promotes values opposite your own openly stated liberal views. – Unless you suddenly think it is OK to cut off hands to punish petty theft.
    …..
    Please follow the money on orgs claimed to be “Jewish”. The “Jewish Fund for Justice” is not. It is a Ford Foundation subsidiary, and it supports and promotes all things contrary to and mutually exclusive with Judaism and Torah. The same goes for “New Israel Fund” – note that the concept of a “New” Israel is anti-Jewish, and can be viewed as promoting the Catholic view, as they seek to become The New Israel.
    These are NOT grassroots programs, but are funded and designed top down by a small radical group of FF players.
    Note that the video suggests that we allow ourselves to become overwhelmed by empathy. Kabbalistically we know that if we swing too far over to the side of giving and feeling, we end up feeding evil. Ignorance is not bliss.
    To summarize, we are taught: He who shows mercy to the cruel will ultimately be cruel to the merciful.
    There are real things to fear in our world, and kindness must be directed towards appropriate objects. The anti-Jewish Fund for Justice, and all Ford Foundation subsidiaries, are not appropriate vehicles to promote world peace, nor Judaism.


    Elisheva · October 28th, 2010 at 6:03 pm
  2. 1/ ‘inherent goodness in every human being’?

    Including Amelikites?

    And if there is ‘inherent goodness in every human being’ where does the notion of blotting out the names, yemach shemo, come from?

    2/ Does not fearing mean you should run headlong into traffic? Apparently that’s what JFJ is advising.


    Dave Boxthorn · October 28th, 2010 at 8:21 pm
  3. the notion of blotting out names comes from fear.

    JFJ is advocating for not throwing others into traffic because they may look, think or act differently than another.


    Justin · October 28th, 2010 at 9:04 pm
  4. Dave Boxthorn writes:
    1/ ‘inherent goodness in every human being’?

    Including Amelikites?

    If it weren’t for Amalekites, we wouldn’t be able to fulfill the mitzvah to remember Amalek.

    (And if it weren’t for Biff, we never would have fallen in love.)


    BZ · October 28th, 2010 at 9:46 pm
  5. Elisheva writes:
    It is offensive, but no surprise, that Jewish Funds for Justice launched an “Al Tirah” website.

    The most offensive (and surprising) part is the transliteration. Hey JFSJ, there’s no hey in תירא!

    Most ironically, you are defending Sharia Law

    I didn’t see that part of the video. Can you direct me to it?

    Further, Islam promotes values opposite your own openly stated liberal views. – Unless you suddenly think it is OK to cut off hands to punish petty theft.

    Whereas Judaism reserves cutting off hands for women who grab men by the balls. Judaism also promotes stoning rebellious sons and Sabbath violators and blah blah blah. What’s that you say? Judaism didn’t end with cherry-picked verses from the Torah, and has a rabbinic tradition that limited the application of those punishments to the point that they are never used today? Well, guess what? Islam also has 1400 years of evolving textual and legal tradition, which I haven’t studied, but I’m willing to bet neither have you.

    But the real question is why are you so quick to defend petty theft???

    Please follow the money on orgs claimed to be “Jewish”. The “Jewish Fund for Justice” is not. It is a Ford Foundation subsidiary,

    JFSJ is an independent 501(c)3 organization, not a subsidiary of anything. Its Form 990 is available to the public, like any nonprofit above a certain size.

    and it supports and promotes all things contrary to and mutually exclusive with Judaism and Torah.

    All things? You should really do more fact-checking before accusing an organization of supporting sacrificing children to Molech.

    The same goes for “New Israel Fund” – note that the concept of a “New” Israel is anti-Jewish, and can be viewed as promoting the Catholic view, as they seek to become The New Israel.

    “New” modifies “Fund”, not “Israel”. While it is ambiguous in English, this is clear from the organization’s Hebrew name, הקרן החדשה לישראל.


    BZ · October 28th, 2010 at 10:33 pm
  6. But while we’re at it, what about the American Israel Public Affairs Committee? If the concept of a “New Israel” is problematic, how about the concept of an “American Israel”?


    BZ · October 28th, 2010 at 10:41 pm
  7. NOT EVEN A LITTLE BIT “INDEPENDENT” –
    He who pays the piper, calls the tunes:
    Jewish Fund For Justice = $675,000 from Ford Foundation in 2010.
    $5,435,000 from 2006 – 2010.
    NOT “non-partisan”
    Absolutely a subsidiary org.
    No credibility whatsoever.
    ……………………………..
    Year Amount Region
    Jewish Funds for Justice 2009 $250,000
    Jewish Funds for Justice 2007 $500,000
    Jewish Funds for Justice 2008 $250,000
    Jewish Funds for Justice 2008 $1,160,000
    Jewish Funds for Justice 2008 $1,000,000
    Jewish Funds for Justice 2008 $500,000
    Jewish Funds for Justice 2007 $500,000
    Jewish Funds for Justice 2006 $300,000
    Jewish Funds for Justice 2006 $300,000
    Jewish Funds for Justicel 2010 $675,000
    ========================
    Anyhow, the support of Islam shows ignorance. I cannot understand why liberals try to suppress the truth, and attack anyone who is openly critical.
    One must understand Islam from the perspective of Sharia Law, as it is because the epitome of Islam is Sharia law. There is no debate on that.
    Islam is bad news for all women.
    These are inherent parts of the “religion”.
    Don’t blame me.
    And by the way, the expressions in Torah you cite – do not get implemented, now do they? And this is because they are not meant literally, or are balanced out for many reasons. But Sharia currently and recently and more and more – does revolting things like cutting off hands of people who are poor, need help, etc.


    Elisheva · October 29th, 2010 at 12:43 am
  8. Elisheva, according the organization’s 990s, JFSJ is a $6 million a year organization. How are they a subsidiary when 90%-95% of their funds come from other sources?

    And what’s wrong with Ford Foundation? They support democracy-building organizations around the world. They’re amazing.


    Kung Fu Jew 18 · October 29th, 2010 at 9:53 am
  9. Elisheva makes very valid points, and she backs them up with facts.

    No one is getting sentenced to death by stoning because of halacha. Why would you even make the comparison to sharia?

    And what’s wrong with the Ford Foundation? How short is your memory KFJ? They have a lengthy, well-documented history of funding organizations that promote Antisemitism and anti-Israel causes that extends to the very recent past.


    curious · October 29th, 2010 at 11:27 am
  10. There is tremendous irony in this post. Appearently, according to Kung fu Jew, we must reject the politics of fear when it benefits Republican election efforts.

    But comparing America to pre-nazi Germany, that is not the politics of fear. No siree, that logic is a one way street.


    formermuslim · October 29th, 2010 at 11:44 am
  11. FM — Did I say anything about Republicans? I think I had strong words to say about using xenophobia, gay-bashing, immigrant-bashing as elections tools instead of talking about real issues. Why on earth did you bring up Republicans? Are Republicans more at fault for this than Democrats? Huh, interesting assumption.

    I think my point is also made by this great faux election site by the AARP: www.jackphillipsforamerica.com/ It cleverly makes a similar assertion about political discourse this election.

    Curious — JFSJ conducts all their work domestically and nothing to do with Israel. I can’t see a nefarious anti-Israel bent to doing fair housing organizing in America.


    Kung Fu Jew · October 29th, 2010 at 1:08 pm
  12. Elisheva writes:
    Anyhow, the support of Islam shows ignorance.

    Can you point to where in the video you see support of Islam? (The video’s message is “don’t be afraid of Islam”. If it said “don’t be afraid of the dark”, would you construe this as “support of the dark”?)


    BZ · October 29th, 2010 at 1:11 pm
  13. KFJ — Nice try at trying to shift the focus from the Ford Foundation. You asked “what’s wrong with the Ford Foundation?” and I explained why a Jew would have concerns about receiving funds from it.

    Elisheva’s contention, as I understand it, is that JFSJ receives sizable funds from an organization that has promoted anti-Jewish and anti-Israel agendas. She’s correct.


    curious · October 29th, 2010 at 1:42 pm
  14. Correct in saying that Ford’s money is objectionable or that a gift amounting to less than 5%-10% of their annual budget would inject anti-Israel content into grants to anti-poverty organizing in the States?

    I think there is nothing wrong with Ford Foundation and I love their work abroad. I know the staff of the Ford Israel Fund personally. Ford supports $490 million worth of amazing human rights groups around the world, including Israel and the Arab nations. And though Israel is but a tiny portion of their granting pool ($10 million to 20 grantees, out of $490 million to 2,200 grantees globally), it is the cause celebre among the right-wing to spin increasingly more conspiracy-laden theories about Ford’s (yawn) Jew hatred infecting everything it touches. It’s just a trope based on, once again, exaggerated claims. (Watch video above about fear trumping rational thought.)


    Kung Fu Jew 18 · October 29th, 2010 at 2:46 pm
  15. Correct in saying EXACTLY what I said: JFSJ receives sizable funds from an organization that has promoted anti-Jewish and anti-Israel agendas. Period.

    Which part do you disagree with, that JSFJ receives funds from FF, or that FF as promoted anti-Jewish and anti-Israel agendas?

    I’m not by any stretch of the imagination “right wing,” by even the broadest definition. To the contrary.

    It’s not a “trope” to refer to an entity’s past activities in questioning their motives and agenda. Nor have I exaggerated anything.

    Clearly, you think FF can do no harm. Do you work for them?


    curious · October 29th, 2010 at 3:27 pm
  16. To “Former Muslim” – Be careful. In Islam, there is no such thing as a former Muslim. You are now an infidel of some sort, and they think you should die.
    How is that for a peaceful religion? No exit except by death.


    Elisheva · October 29th, 2010 at 3:42 pm
  17. Re Ford Foundation and the world:
    Sorry again. I have extensively studied and followed the FF money.
    Ford money is always part of an agenda, an overall plan.
    Even in the USA its always bad. They study our laws and intentionally get involved to distort them.
    Ford designed, engineered and funded the “intifada” a decade ago. They set up the groups [ngos], trained the anti-israel attorneys, paid for groups which promoted releasing terrorists, like Barghouti, the works. They start campaigns, always top down and inherently anti-democratic; they pay huge amouns to advertising agencies to promote distorted notions, etc.
    Ford attorneys forced Tibi and Bishara back into Knesset.
    They agitate among non-Jews, and attack the Jewish fabric of the Jewish State.
    There is some good news. Ford’s debacle has proven how much the world does love Jews, because despite all the FF anti-semitism, anti-Judaism and anti-Jew money, we are still around.
    Down with Ford Foundation.


    Elisheva · October 29th, 2010 at 3:49 pm
  18. “Why on earth did you bring up Republicans? Are Republicans more at fault for this than Democrats? Huh, interesting assumption.”

    In a debate one must sometimes momentarily use the terms and definitions of the opposing party while not necessarily agreeing with their perspective and usage of the term.

    Childish wordgames such as these is the reason there is no longer any real debate in America. You say immigrant bashing, I say enforcing the law.

    And lets not kid ourselves. There is enough past history on this issue so that my mentioning of the republicans should not raise any eyebrows.


    formermuslim · October 29th, 2010 at 3:58 pm
  19. Down With “New Israel Fund” – Ford Foundation’s anti-Israel subsidiary flunkie.
    [Note - Garber and his grabbers refused to have a meeting, or even a talk, with myself and other Israel advocates. If you know him, them, please forward to them a challenge to agree to meet.]
    Ford funded the false notion, as a propaganda weapon, from fascist and muslim sources, that there is a modern day “Palestinian people” to worry about.
    So you know these folks? Like Larry Garber, former head of USAID in “Palestine” who aided and abetted the terrorists?
    All of the NIF funding is an attack on Jews, Judaism and the integrity of the Jewish State.
    These enemies of Israel loved Garber:
    See article, all entities are FF programs, plus USAID:
    CSOs Bid Farwell to USAID Mission Director Photo by: Tamkeen>>Walid Salhi, director of Al-Lod Charticable Society in Nablus, presents a >plaque to USAID Director Larry Garber.
    Representatives of approximately 20 Palestinian CSOs bid farewell to >outgoing USAID Mission Director Larry Garber during a reception hosted by >Tamkeen on June 28. The Tamkeen team and representatives of its >subcontractors also attended.>>Hisham Awartani, director of the Center for Private Sector Development, a >Palestinian CSO, credited Mr. Garber with increasing the overall level of >U.S. support to the Palestinians, adding that “USAID has become more >responsive to Palestinian interests” under Mr. Garber’s leadership.
    Mr. Garber noted that he was proud of the success achieved during his >tenure as director. In particular, he said that he was proud that “we did >not do all of the work ourselves or through contractors. We also conducted >work through local partner institutions.”>>The number of such institutions “has grown from six five years ago to more >than 70 today,” Mr. Garber added.
    Mr. Garber concluded by emphasizing USAID’s continuing commitment to the >Palestinians, saying: “The U.S. government will remain engaged in the >Palestinian territories for many years to come for the sake of >contributing to the establishment of a democratic Palestinian state and >fostering friendship between Palestinians and Americans.”


    Elisheva · October 29th, 2010 at 4:59 pm
  20. Elisheva writes:
    Sorry again.

    What are you apologizing for?


    BZ · October 29th, 2010 at 5:46 pm
  21. Ho ho! Amazing! Conspiracy theories of the grandest design!

    Shabbat shalom, everyone, this conversation has ended with an entertaining bang. I hope everyone else enjoyed it as much as I did.


    Kung Fu Jew 18 · October 29th, 2010 at 6:34 pm
  22. Hmm. I think what Elisheva means by anti-Israel (to the best I can tell ) is: “any viewpoint I don’t agree with.”
    Ford Foundation does lots of fabulous work, and gives money to lots of Jewish organizations. Certainly Ford was a nut, but his descendants have also certainly made some efforts towards Tshuvah.
    If you don’t like JFsJ or some of the other organizations that Ford Foundation supports, that’s fine, but let’s judge them on their merits. JFsJ does amazing work in the Jewish community, and in partnership with non-Jews. If that makes them anti-Jewish, well, now we know why so many young Jews think the Jewish community has nothing to say to them. Be scared! Be scared! Islam/Nazis/The big bad wolf is coming to get you, so you’d better breed now! (And don’t forget to send us a big check, will ya?)


    KRG · October 30th, 2010 at 11:31 pm
  23. Elisheva writes:
    Ford designed, engineered and funded the “intifada” a decade ago. They set up the groups [ngos], trained the anti-israel attorneys, paid for groups which promoted releasing terrorists, like Barghouti, the works. They start campaigns, always top down and inherently anti-democratic; they pay huge amouns to advertising agencies to promote distorted notions, etc.
    Ford attorneys forced Tibi and Bishara back into Knesset.

    The Ford Foundation did all of that? Come on, some of it had to be the Freemasons, Opus Dei, and ACORN too.


    BZ · October 30th, 2010 at 11:38 pm
  24. BTW, you do know that “subsidiary” has a legal meaning, right?


    BZ · October 30th, 2010 at 11:38 pm
  25. You could call it money laundering if you like.
    A Subsidiary – Ford makes the organization, and pays it to do a task for it, as condition.
    This is how NIF operates, for example, in receiving $20 million a few years ago, and more again. and again.
    The same pro-Arab orgs get money from both.
    Either way, Ford continues to support them. They act in concert.
    My problem with the overall Fund and all is especially that it uses and word “jewish” which it is not. It does not serve ews – who do need assistance – nor are members Jews, nor are the actions taken related to Judaism.


    Elisheva · October 30th, 2010 at 11:48 pm
  26. Money laundering is also legally defined, Elisheva.


    Kung Fu Jew 18 · November 1st, 2010 at 10:24 am
  27. KFJ, don’t bother, it’s only feeding the trolls.


    Chorus of Apes · November 1st, 2010 at 8:11 pm
  28. All about money, Fear it’s the best tools to make money.
    Who’s take the benefit of?
    Who’s Create Those Fear’s?


    mainan · December 8th, 2011 at 12:33 pm
  29. “Why on earth did you bring up Republicans? Are Republicans more at fault for this than Democrats? Huh, interesting assumption.”
    Ford designed, engineered and funded the “intifada” a decade ago. They set up the groups [ngos], trained the anti-israel attorneys, paid for groups which promoted releasing terrorists, like Barghouti, the works. They start campaigns, always top down and inherently anti-democratic; they pay huge amouns to advertising agencies to promote distorted notions, etc.


    parfum · January 10th, 2012 at 7:49 am
  30. [...] the Politics of Fear: Al Tirah! jewschool, 10/27/2010 By: Kung Fu Jew Read the full article. By dprice|October 27th, 2010|Press|0 [...]


    IKAR LA – Countering the Politics of Fear: Al Tirah! · December 12th, 2012 at 8:04 pm

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"I may attack a certain point of view which I consider false, but I will never attack a person who preaches it. I have always a high regard for the individual who is honest and moral, even when I am not in agreement with him. Such a relation is in accord with the concept of kavod habriyot, for beloved is man for he is created in the image of God." —Rav Joseph Soloveitchik