Jacob Bender

Director’s Desk: Yesterday in Center City

It was a pleasure to represent CAIR-Philadelphia as I marched down Broad Street with thousands of people responding to the events of last weekend in Charlottesville, Virginia. United in our disgust with the president’s response to the murder of Heather Heyer by a neo-Nazi using his car as a weapon, the march was also a condemnation of white supremacist racism, the implicitly violent ideology embedded into the DNA of American history and culture.
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After Charlottesville

There are moments in history when time itself seems to just stop, and then abruptly change direction. Sometimes the momentous quality of these events is self-evident to those caught up in their wake: the fall of Baghdad in 1258; Lenin arriving at the train station in St. Petersburg, Russia in 1917; Rosa Parks boarding her bus in 1954; the assassination of President Kennedy in 1963; the Iranian Revolution of 1979; the attacks of Sept 11, 2001. What unities these events are their transformative impact, dividing time into a before and an after (as in before 9/11 and post-9/11).
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Director’s Desk – The Meaning of Passover 2017

Jews around the world, and my family and I, are now celebrating the eight day-long holiday of Passover (peysakhin Hebrew), commonly known as “The Festival of Freedom.” Passover celebrates four themes or moments of redemption: the liberation of the earth from the harshness of winter; the liberation of the Hebrew slaves from their enslavement in Egypt; the freeing of humankind from idolatry and ignorance; and the personal and spiritual liberation of every human being from darkness and pain.
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MEMPHIS + 49: Honoring Dr. King

Today, April 4th, 2017, marks 49 years since the assassination of one of America’s greatest faith leaders and civil rights advocates, Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. One year before his death, Dr. King delivered a historic speech at The Riverside Church of New York that forever binds the peace movement with the movement for civil rights and social justice.
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Director’s Desk: This Is What Resistance Looks Like

In the days since Donald Trump became the 45th President of the United States of America on January 20, I have often felt I was living through a nightmare from which, any day now, I would awaken from and return to “normal” life. No such luck, as each day brought new outrages from the Trump Administration, new “alternative facts” with which to bully the opposition, particularly the press.
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CAIR-Philadelphia Collage

Fifty Years Ago. Reflections on Bob Dylan’s Nobel Prize and the 50th Anniversary of the Film “The Battle of Algiers”

I awoke yesterday morning to hear the news on the radio that Bob Dylan had been awarded this year’s Nobel Prize in Literature. To many in the post-war baby boomer generation, I am sure this news was met with near-rapturous joy, as it was by me. Dylan’s words and music were the soundtrack for the whole tumultuous decade of the Sixties -- his words perfectly and ecstatically capturing the zeitgeist (“spirit of the age”) of sudden cultural and political change unfolding before our eyes.
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CAIR-Philadelphia Collage

Director’s Desk: The Obligation to Vote – The Battle for the Ballot

The right of all American citizens to vote for president and other elected officials has taken us as a nation over 200 years after the founding of the United States to achieve. The story of American democracy is the story of the expansion of the right to vote to an ever greater part of the adult population. The wealthy white men who wrote the United States Constitution in Philadelphia during the sweltering summer of 1787 did not believe in universal suffrage: working class men and all women were excluded, while African slaves counted as only 3/5 of white people for census purposes.
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