Rabbi Michael Lerner, editor of Tikkun magazine and author of frequent (and lengthy) e-mail missives, makes the case that efforts to prohibit e-mail spam could hurt “social change organizations.”
To those who would argue that they have a sweeping right not to have their inboxes invaded by spam (even from nonprofits), Lerner retorts:
The real question here is: do we have a right “not to know?” What if our government is killing hundreds of thousands of people in Iraq with our tax money, or the corporations from whom we buy products are destroying the environment so that our community’s rate of cancer is rising dramatically?
Why do we have a “right” to not know about all this? And, conversely, if some organization finds a way to get our email addresses, why do we have a right to not receive their communications? Is this kind of information really “spam” that should be prevented, made illegal, or stopped by having the service provider sued for allowing non-profits to send this kind of information to people who didn’t request it? How could they have requested it when they never even heard about the issues until the social movements started raising them?
I would go one step further than Rabbi Lerner: Do we have the right to not know we don’t know?
In all seriousness though, Lerner’s larger point is a valid one: There is a good case to be made that mass e-mails from nonprofits should be treated differently than those from for-profits. And if they are succinct and sent sparingly, so much the better.
Rabbi Michael Lerner is sorry.
The Tikkun magazine editor recently issued an apology to three groups that are fiercely critical of Israel — Jewish Voice for Peace, United for Peace and Justice and the U.S. Campaign to End the Israeli Occupation. (UFPJ and the U.S. Campaign are organizing a mass mobilization next month in Washington titled, “The World Says No to Israeli Occupation!” Lerner’s Tikkun Community is a member of both coalitions, although it is not backing the June mobilization.)
“I want to personally apologize to JVP, UFPJ, and the US Campaign to End the Israeli Occupation for clumsy wording in an article I sent out analyzing the ways that the Anti-Israel Left helps to perpetuate the Occupation,” Lerner wrote in a mass e-mail.
Lerner, never known to be stingy with his prose, then spent 1,833 words elaborating on the nuances of his apology. In summary: Lerner opposes the Israeli occupation and supports a two-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. He believes that those who deny Israel’s right to exist, in favor of a “one-state solution,” are practicing a double standard and hindering the cause of peace. He regrets that in his earlier article he had inadvertently seemed to suggest that Jewish Voice for Peace, UFPJ and the U.S. Campaign back Israel’s dissolution, when in fact they leave the question open. For that, he’s sorry.
Notwithstanding his disagreements with said groups, Lerner added that he would still “invite them to work with us in creating an alternative to AIPAC, an alternative that explicitly supports the two-state-plus solution I discussed above.”
“In the long run, however,” Lerner wrote, “we advocate a ‘no state’ solution — the abandonment of all nation states and the reorganization of the planet into large eco-districts whose primary focus is to provide global coordination to supervise how the earth’s resources are to be used, how to repair the global environment, and how to guarantee human rights, individual freedoms, cultural and religious pluralism, and a new global ethos of environmental sensitivity, celebration of the universe and its mysteries, advancement of science, and universal non-violence, generosity and social justice.”
You can read the full text of Lerner’s apology here. Scroll down to read Lerner’s initial article. By the time you finish, perhaps the world will be ready for a no-state solution.