Michael Lerner

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Rabbi Michael Lerner

Template:TOCnestleft Rabbi Michael P. Lerner was a member of New American Movement and founder of the Institute for Labor and Mental Health.

According to the Network of Spiritual Progressives website:[1]

Rabbi Lerner has been described by thinkers like Cornel West and Jim Wallis as a contemporary prophet.

He is also editor of our bi-monthly Tikkun Magazine, a full time job, plus the chair of our interfaith Network of Spiritual Progressives, and also rabbi of Beyt Tikkun synagogue which alternates services in Berkeley and San Francisco.[2]

GI Civil Liberties Defense Committee

Circa 1969,Michael Lerner, New Left Forum, Berkeley , was listed as a sponsor of the Socialist Workers Party led GI Civil Liberties Defense Committee .[3]

Vietnam Veterans Against the War/Operation RAW

During the Labor Day weekend of September 4-7, 1970, Operation RAW ("Rapid American Withdrawal") took place. It was a three day protest march from Morristown, NJ, to Valley Forge State Park by over 200 veterans. It was sponsored by Vietnam Veterans Against the War. They were joined by members of Nurses for Peace and other peace groups. Dressed in combat fatigues and carrying toy weapons, the march was designed to dramatize a Vietnam-type search and destroy mission to the Middle America they passed through. Upon entering each town along the march, sweeps were made, prisoners taken and interrogated, property seized and homes cleared with the assistance of previously planted "guerrilla theater" actors portraying civilians. The 86 mile long march culminated in a four hour rally at Valley Forge that over 1,500 people attended. The honorary commander during this event was retired Army Brigadier General Hugh B. Hester. Sponsors included Senators George McGovern and Edmund Muskie, Rep. John Conyers, Paul O'Dwyer, Mark Lane, and Donald Sutherland. Scheduled speakers were John Kerry, Joe Kennedy, Rev. James Bevel, Mark Lane, Jane Fonda, and Sutherland. Congressman Allard Lowenstein, Mike Lerner, and Army First Lt. Louis Font also spoke.[4]

Seattle Liberation Front

In the period after the formation of the Weather Underground Organization at Flint Fichigan,, Michael Lerner and Weathermen Chip Marshall, Jeff Alan Dowd and Joseph H. Kelly moved to Seattle to form the Seattle Liberation Front to Bring the Revolution to Seattle.” There they recruited Susan Ellen Stern, Roger H. Lippman, Michael Victor Ables, Christopher L. Bakke, Margaret G. Bennett, Bruce E. Crowley, Karen M. Daenzer, Gerald J. Ganley, Kathleen Ann Korvell, Constance J. Misich, Mark Curtis Perry, Suzanne E. Smith, Arthur K. Sata, and John Vanveenendale. A federal grand jury would indict Dowd, Kelly and Stern along with Michael Victor Ables for a February 17, 1970 attack on a federal building.[5]

An article in the SWP weekly newspaper, The Militant, May 8, 1970, p. 3, entitled "Seattle Liberation Front 8 face 'conspiracy' frame-up", by Stephanie Coontz, Seattle, provided some more information on the violent activities of the SLF8, along with a photo of Michael Lerner speaking at an April 18 antiwar rally. Coontz, a major SWP leader and later college professor at the far-left Evergreen Community College and Washington Post book reviewer and occasional columnist (CITE TO OCT/NOV. 2010 item), wrote the following in the article.

"On April 16, eight members of the Seattle Liberation Front SLF were arrested on charges of conspiring to destroy federal property. The charges grew out of a Feb. 17 support demonstration for the Chicago conspiracy defendants during which a number of windows at the court house were broken. Although many groups including the Young Socialist Alliance YSA had expressed opposition to the tactics and organization of the original demonstration, all of them have united in the face of these conspiracy charges."

"The timing of the arrests was clearly provocative. The Justice Department overruled the local authorities who wished the arrests to be delayed until after the antiwar march scheduled for April 18, in order to make the arrests on the 16th."

"In response, the Student Mobilization Committee SMC issued a statement charging that the Justice Department was attempting to provoke violence at the April 18 march and pledging that the marchers would not fall into this trap. SLF spokesmen reiterated this statement at a press conference the next day."

"Since the arrests, there have been a number of coalition meetings of groups interested in defense work. There is a good deal of disagreement over whether to build a united-front campaign against the charges or to tie defense work to acceptance of all the Seattle Liberation Front's politics. But so far the united-front perspective has dominated. The Young Socialist Alliance, the Independent Socialists IS, and a number of other groups around the state have issued support statements. On Friday, April 17, the SMC turned over part of its strike activities to a defense rally for the SLF defendants pointing out that the conspiracy charges are an attempt to intimidate all leaders of the movement by holding them responsible for any actions which may occur at demonstrations they organized, even if such actions were caused by police provocateurs."

(KW: This was a standard communist tactic of charging non-existent "police provocateurs" with the violence that the more extreme communist radicals perpetrated. Among those groups who actually perpetrated violence against the police, businesses, other groups, ROTC and other university buildings, etc. were the SDS-Weatherman faction, the PLP Progressive Labor Party, the Revolutionary Contingent, the October League OL, and the Revolutionary Union RU, to name a few.)[6]

"Contributions may be sent to: Seattle Legal Defense Fund, P.O. Box 1984, Main Post Office, Seattle, Washington, 98111."

New American Movement genesis

The concept of the New American Movement originated soon after the disintegration of Students for a Democratic Society in Chicago in 1969, when John Rossen, a one-time district organizer for the Communist Party USA and then the landlord of the SDS offices, distributed a number of pamphlets calling for a new revolutionary force based on a combination of Marxism and American nationalism, and organized the Johnny Appleseed Movement for Peace and Human Rights.

Rossen's ideas gave birth to two groups. Chicagoan Jeremy Rifkin took over Rossen's pamphlets and and graphics to form the People's Bi-centennial Commission, in which Rossen remained active until at least 1975, while another group developed other aspects.

Rossen's influence with the early New American Movement remained at least through the end of 1971, contributing an article to the first issue of NAM's newspaper New American Movement dated September-October 1971.

In January 1971, Rossen's ideas were adapted by three former SDS activists - Theirrie Evelyn Cook, one of the negotiators of the People's Peace Treaty with the Vietcong; Michael P. Lerner and Charles "Chip" Marshall, then enjoying a brief notoriety as leader of the Seattle Liberation Front, then trial for inciting a riot in response to the contempt citations in the Chicago 8 Conspiracy Trial. The three Seattle organizers circulated papers call1ng for the creation of a new revolutionary party which they then termed. the New American Community Party.

In the late winter of 1970 and into the the spring of 1971, this group worked closely with Rennie Davis in developing plans for the Washington, D.C. Mayday disruptions in support of the Vietnamese communists, with Lerner and Marshall becoming active leaders National Mayday Collective. The Mayday organization provided· the New American Community Party with the opportunity to reach a large segment of the radical community and to receive input from New Left theoreticians such as Douglas Dowd and Staughton Lynd.

New members were gained and the name New American Movement began to be used.[7]

Early NAM founders

Among the earliest founders of the New American Movement were James Weinstein of Chicago and West Coast radicals including Michael Lerner, formerly of the Seattle Liberation Front, Theirrie Cook, a supporter of the Peoples Coalition for Peace and Justice and Dan Siegel, former student body president at the University of California, Berkeley.[8]

In June 1971, a pamphlet and other materials calling for a New American Movement national organizing meeting began to be circulated, sponsored by Theirrie Cook, Michael Lerner and Charles "Chip" Marshall, plus Douglas Dowd, Karen Hamilton, Charles Fulwood, Joy Marcus, Roger Hamilton, Dan Siegel, Nina Marina, David Danning, Judy Oringer, Louis Feldhammer and Kathy Johnson - later on the staff of the People's Bi-centennial Commission.[9]

NAM contacts

In the early days of NAM, contacts for the organization included Lynne Shatzkin and Jerry Coffin, NY, Michael Lerner, then working from the Cambridge Policy Studies Institute, a branch from the Institute for Policy Studies, Andy Starr, Philadelphia, Alice Lynd and Staughton Lynd, Chicago, Frank Blumer, Seattle, and Jim Williams, by 1975 a co-editor of the Communist Party USA trade union publication, Labor Today.[10]

Early NAM leadership

In 1971, the New American Movement National Interim Committee was composed of:

Travelers for NAM:

NAM first national conference

The first national meeting of the New American Movement was held in Chicago October 9-11. Up to 75 delegates and observers from 25 cities participated. The meeting laid the basis for a Thanksgiving conference on program in Chicago. The politiçal principles, program, and structure of the organization were discussed;

At the conference, a body mandated a committee to write a shorter version of the original NAM document in a style, adapted to mass distribution. People elected to this committee were:[12]

The committee was mandated to have the basic document written by October 23.1971

Congress on Religion and Policies


Theologies of Peace and Justice: A Congress on Religion and Politics. Chicago Theological Seminary May 27-30, 1988.

Plenary Speakers:

For conference information please contact: Religion & Politics Congress Rm 1201, 1608 N. Milwaukee, Chicago, IL 60647

Democratic Agenda

More than 1,200 people attended the Democratic Socialist Organizing Committee initiated Democratic Agenda Conference held November 16-18, 1979, at the International Inn and Metropolitan AM Church in Washington 1 DC. The conference focused on "corporate power'; as the key barrier to "economic and political democracy," concepts many Democratic Agenda participants defined as "socialism.'

The Democratic Agenda meetings attempted to develop anti-corporate alternatives" through influencing the direction of the Democratic Party during the period leading to the July 1980 Democratic National Convention in New York.

Workshops included "Fighting the New Right" - James Farmer, CAPE; Midge Miller, InterChange; Mary Jean Collins, moderator; Dr. Michael Lerner, Institute of Labor and Mental Health.[13]

New American Movement 10th convention

In 1981 Barbara Ehrenreich, Long Island NAM; Michael Lerner, NAM Assoc, founder, Institute for Labor and Mental Health; Richard Healey, Co-Chair, Political Education Commission and Peg Strobel, Co-Chair, Campus Commission spoke at a public plenary entitled Visions of Socialism at the 10th Convention of the New American Movement. The convention was held in a union headquarters in Chicago and ran from July 29 - August 2, 1981.

Lerner also led a workshop entitled Occupational Stress and Class Consciousness[14]

Socialist Scholars Conference

Michael Zweig; Michael Lerner, Editor, Tikkun; Pamela Brubaker and Larry Rasmussen, Union Theological Seminary were speakers on the Religion and Economic Justice panel at the Tenth Annual Socialist Scholars Conference. The conference was held April 24-26, 1992 at the Borough of Manhattan Community College, New York City.[15]

DSA member

In 1982 the Democratic Socialists of America Feminist commission initiated a publication called "Women Organizing". The August 1982 issue included articles by Barbara Ehrenreich, Kate Ellis, Roberta Lynch, Michael Lerner and Deborah Meier.[16]

In a 1998 list of Democratic Socialists of America aligned publications, Michael Lerner was described as a "DSAer"[17]

DSA-ish Publications
That is, mags which express the range of our politics, from the revolutionary to the left liberal, and including some sympatico Candian and British mags.
Tikkun - The journal of the Jewish left, edited by DSAer Michael Lerner.

Working with Cornel West

Cornel West, Michael Lerner

"Blacks and Jews: Ambivalent Allies"

Alan Snitow's 1994,"Blacks and Jews: Ambivalent Allies" consisted of four 1 hour shows, co-Produced with Bari Scott and KPFA/Pacifica Radio

A four hour radio series looking at ethnic identity, stereotypes, racism and anti-Semitism, the Civil Rights Movement, and the potential future cooperation and conflict between the two ethnic groups. A cultural journey through music, storytelling, poetry and interviews throughout the U.S. With Cornel West, Michael Lerner, Henry Louis Gates, Letty Cottin Pogrebin, Anna Deavere Smith, Steven Spielberg, and Patricia Williams.[18]

911 "Truther"

Rabbi Michael Lerner editor, Tikkun Magazine, author, Healing Israel/Palestine ,was one of 100 "prominent Americans" who signed an October 26 2004 statement[19]circulated by 911Truth.org calling on the U.S. Government to investigate 9/11 as a possible "inside job".

...we have assembled 100 notable Americans and 40 family members of those who died to sign this 9/11 Statement, which calls for immediate public attention to unanswered questions that suggest that people within the current administration may indeed have deliberately allowed 9/11 to happen, perhaps as a pretext for war.

Social Policy

For over 30 years, Social Policy has served as "key site for intellectual exchange among progressive academics and activists from across the United States and beyond", including: Frances Fox Piven, Jonathan Kozol, Noam Chomsky, Marian Wright Edelman, Ivan Illich, Stanley Aronowitz, Michael Lerner, Gloria Steinem, and others[20].

Jewish Alliance for Justice & Peace

As of Jan. 1, 2010, Lerner was a member of the Board Rabbinic Cabinet of the Jewish Alliance for Justice & Peace.[21]

Lerner's Blame-America Response to a POLITICO question, August 4, 2011 edition

The liberal-left Washington, D.C. political newspaper POLITICO, has, on its "Opinion" page, a section entitled "Arena Digest" wherein political figures are asked for their views on a daily question. In the August 4, 2011 edition of Politico, the question was: "Is Texas Republican Gov. Rick Perry's Day of Prayer and Fasting Appropriate?". One of the respondents was Rabbi Michael Lerner, the longtime marxist radical who has been posing as a "Jewish" liberal voice on political issues, and is the editor of the far-left magazine Tikkun. Here is his full answer as published in this newspaper.

"Our country needs atonement, and an ethically grounded political leader has every right to suggest prayer, fasting,etc. Such a leader would have us atone for our destruction of the environment, our ignoring the poor and the powerless both in the U.S. and around the world, our turning our backs on the undocumented immigrants, our inability to see that our own well-being is inextricably tied to the well-being of everyone else on the planet, our fighting wars around the world to support our waning empire, our materialism and selfishness that were manifested in a budget deal that takes from the needy and does not ask sacrifice from the wealthy and our arrogant self-satisfied nationalism and insensitivity to each other."

External links


Template:Reflist [[Category:Social Policy]

  1. http://www.spiritualprogressives.org/index.php?topic=jobs
  2. Magazine staff
  3. Undated, GI Civil Liberties Defense Committee letterhead circa 1969
  4. The Philadelphia Inquirer, Sept. 8, 1970, page 33
  5. The Seattle Liberation Front, Information Digest, May 2, 1970, 1, 3, 4-5
  6. Personal communication from former Human Events and Pink Sheet/American Sentinel reporter Max Friedman, who covered many such demonstrations in Wash. D.C. during the 1970's and 80's, including the extremely violent May 1971 attack on D.C. Police Chief Jerry Wilson, which left him with a bloody head, several of his officers injured when knocked off motorcycles by rock-throwing Maoists, and Friedman with a bruised chest after being hit by a large rock.
  8. New American movement's attempt to revive the New left, off to a slow start, Mark Ugolini July 14, 1972
  11. New American Movement newspaper Vol. 1/No. 2 1971
  12. From New American Movement, Nov,-Dec, 1971
  13. Information Digest, December 14, 1979, page 370/371
  14. NAM 10th Convention Agenda, July 29, 1981
  15. SSE Tenth Annual Conference Program, 1992
  16. DSA Keylist newsletter July 1982, page 1
  17. http://web.archive.org/web/19980626083306/http:/www.dsausa.org/rl/Links/Mags.html#DSAish
  18. http://www.snitow-kaufman.org/#who
  19. 911 Truth statement
  20. http://www.socialpolicy.org/index.php?id=804
  21. Rabbinic Cabinet