“The day is short, the task is great, the master is insistent. It is not your duty to complete the task, but neither are you free to desist from it….”
—Pirkei Avot, 2:21
Tikun Olam, founded in 2003, is the foremost blog addressing Israeli national security issues. It regularly publishes reports and documents subject to Israeli military censorship or judicial gag orders. It also published in 2009, material from top secret transcripts of FBI wiretaps of the Israeli embassy, exposing an influence campaign advocating an attack on Iran. The source of these materials, Shammai Leibowitz, paid for his commitment to avoiding war against Iran, with two years in a federal prison. The NY Times featured my reporting about the FBI tapes on its front page.
I wrote chapters for the essay collections, A Time to Speak Out (Verso, 2009) and Israel and Palestine: Alternate Perspectives on Statehood (Rowman & Littlefield, 2016). I currently contribute regularly to Middle East Eye and The New Arab. I publish less frequently at Jacobin Magazine and Al Jazeera. In the past, I’ve contributed to Truthout, Alternet, Haaretz, Jewish Forward, Los Angeles Times, Comment Is Free, the Seattle Times, and Tikkun Magazine.
I earned a BA and BHL from Jewish Theological Seminary and Columbia University, an MA in Comparative Literature from UCLA, and studied for a PhD at UC Berkeley. I spent an undergraduate and graduate year studying Hebrew literature at the Hebrew University where my teachers were Dan Pagis, Gershon Shaked and Dan Miron. I co-founded the Bay Area Jewish Music Festival.
Born and raised in the Hudson River Valley, my father’s family’s roots go back to Peekskill, NY in the 1920s. I’ve always had an abiding affection for the River and the Hudson Highlands. In 1969, I crewed for a week on Pete Seeger’s sloop, Clearwater.
I have been interested in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict since 1967 and have worked all my adult life to promote justice and tolerance.
I hike the Cascades and have always loved folk and traditional music including world music. My wife I have lived in Seattle for 25 years.
Favorite Yiddishisms: “Sleep faster, we need the pillows!” “We Jews are so happy…our enemies should only be so happy!”
Origins of Tikun Olam
Tikun Olam is a Mishnaic term meaning “repair [or mend] the world.” Unlike some religious traditions, Judaism comprehends evil as something inherently human. In traditional terms, performing mitzvot (commandments) will repair the world in preparation for the coming of the Messiah. However, contemporary Jewish traditions view acts of justice and lovingkindness as tikun olam or making the word a better place. The mission of this blog is to create these acts: to search for justice and call out injustice.
I welcome doing public talks and interviews
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