TIME Religion

Why I’m Not Afraid to Be Too Gay on Facebook

175277055
Social media 'Like' symbol on keyboard Peter Dazeley—Getty Images

PatheosLogo_Blue

This article originally appeared on Patheos.

We had just lit a candle, said a blessing and were passing around the broken bread for all at the table to share when we began talking about our respective days. The kids had been about the business of getting the most out of the last days of their summer vacation (we go back to school sinfully early in Georgia) and I had been engaged in the regular ins and outs of working for the college I love, writing for the blog I adore, posting on Facebook frequently (the kids say obsessively) everything from political/theological news to rather base potty humor and the occasional dog video (what?) to responding to the regular sprinkling of hateful comments on my blog and in private messages.

I don’t usually talk about that aspect of what I do in front of my kids but I said just enough in an otherwise glib moment that my oldest furrowed her brow and went off a bit “Mom, you post everything, I mean way too much – like every moment of your life! Ugh, what you eat, who you are hanging out with, pictures of me and you even check in on Foursquare and stuff. Some day one of those crazies is gonna find you and…”

I cut her off there, first hoping to reassure her that it really wasn’t that bad and no one is looking to hurt me but what I needed her to hear was…

Let me back up a bit.

I’ve been writing this here blog for just a scooch over two years. But long before Patheos invited me to stretch my gawd-awful clothes line and hang out my weathered washin’ on the front lawn of my digital acre, I was wrestling mightily with what it meant to live life fully as God created me and to as love openly as my mamma and daddy had when I was growing up.

After stuffing down my truth for for decades I found the love of my life. We fell hard and fast and it was glorious. I wanted nothing more than to love her fiercely and openly. But as it turns out we had very different notions about how to live as a committed lesbian couple. For her it meant carefully maintaining circles of who was allowed to know and who was not. In her career she carefully selected those friends and colleagues who were permitted access to the inner circle of our life. Most of her daily professional life was conducted as if I did not exist or was simply a roommate – a babysitter. I really do understand her need to live out her career not labeled and pigeon-holed into a certain trajectory based on her superiors’ ability to grasp or not grasp equality – but it was hard, real hard to be invisible as a cop’s wife.

Thankfully, in our church and local community life we lived more openly with no secrets from our children’s teachers or folks in the neighborhood. Slowly my love invited old friends into the circle and her family, though the words were never spoken, treated us with love and genuine kindness. I never felt anything less than a daughter-in-law when in the presence of her parents. But there was a limit to our openness. Touching in public, hand holding, a stolen peck of a kiss, a loving embrace – these were always and only permitted behind closed doors. She was ever mindful of what others would think and the potential consequences of encountering hateful homophobes, especially if we were with our children.

But for me, I simply could not wrap my head or heart around the impulse to hide love. Though I tried to respect her way of living out her queerness, it would become a source of bitter conflict that would poison the wellspring of our love.

See, once I came out to my family to utterly devastating rejection, walked away from their abuse – and didn’t shrivel up and die, well a setting resentment began to grow each time I was asked to dampen and hide my affection while watching friends openly share tender moments regardless of the company.

The fault that began to open between us would be the source of many a tiny, deadly tremor in our foundation and would ultimately contribute to the dark and gaping fissure into which our love fell and could not climb out.

I simply do not know any other way to exist in this mortal coil and on this beautiful and broken planet than transparent to a fault.

So now, still fumbling my way though this thing called life, I blog about the willful ignorance of homophobic “Christians”. I post all over the interwebs about my utterly banal homosexual lifestyle, I write about the extravagant welcome of God and the radical hospitality of Christ, and I live openly and unabashedly for any and all to see.

As a result I encounter vitriol all up and down the ignorance, fear and loathing spectrum. Every day. And every day I do my dead level best to confront the vitriol with grace and integrity (but more often than not I fail to live up to my ideal).

It seems like every week someone asks me why I do what I do. “How do can you stand to jump into these abusive conversations? You must have thick skin!” Sometimes all I can say is that I have no idea why I do it and you have no idea how often I cry myself to sleep. But more often than not I answer something like “Because I am compelled beyond reason to show up over and over again and share the good news that God loves us. I am drawn into the fray to say, just for the outside chance that whosoever needs to hear, will maybe hear for the first time in their life, that they are loved beyond their wildest imagination and free in Christ. I know not why, only that I must proclaim, directly from the book that is otherwise used as a weapon, that nothing, nothing, nothing on earth, in heaven or all of creation can separate us from the love of God.”

Most of all I know that I have no skills to be anything other than nakedly, unashamedly myself.

What I need my daughter to know is this. Yes, there are people out there who hate gays and lesbians savagely enough to kill us. They hate queer folk all the more when we have audacity to claim Jesus and cry out to God in thanksgiving for making us who we are. But I must wake up every day and be me and for some damn reason I am called to do so in a public way. I am called to speak loudly to those who would silence me, stand boldly in the light in front of those who would have me skulk away in the dark and reject the heretical theology that God would create me for a life of shame, fear and self-loathing. For do anything less is to give myself over to the power of darkness and admit that evil has already won.

Kimberly Knight is the Director of Digital Strategy at a southern liberal arts college and Minister of Digital community with Extravagance UCC.

Read more from Patheos:

TIME foreign affairs

The Upside of Putin’s Warmongering

RUSSIA-UKRAINE-CRISIS-SANCTIONS
Russia's President Vladimir Putin stands in front of the 6 meters long Tsar Pushka (Tsar Cannon), one of the Russian landmarks displayed in the Kremlin in Moscow, on July 31, 2014. MIKHAIL KLIMENTYEV—AFP/Getty Images

Putin’s madness has created a new Sputnik moment that should spur California into investing in science and math education

Here are two words Californians should say to Vladimir Putin: thank you.

California, with its historic reliance on defense-related industries, never quite recovered from the end of the Cold War. Today, Los Angeles has fewer jobs than it did in 1990. Fortunately, Putin seems intent on giving us a new Cold War.

Let’s stipulate that Putin’s crushing of dissent at home, his seizing of the Crimea, his wars against Ukraine and Georgia, and his bullying of European neighbors are bad for the peace and security of the world. But all this Russian madness—not to mention the threatening, nationalistic expansionism of Putin’s Chinese ally President Xi Jinping—presents an opportunity for California.

The belligerence of Russia and China could boost a host of California industries. Aerospace could benefit from increasing insecurity among Russian and Chinese neighbors, since more countries will be inclined to increase their spending on defense, and to curry favor with Uncle Sam by buying American. California’s space industry could become much more important as the United States moves from collaborating with the Russians in space to competing against them—and against a growing Chinese space program. And Silicon Valley’s data security firms are already booming in part because of widespread concerns about Russian and Chinese hackers, not to mention the intrusive behavior of U.S. intelligence agencies.

The threat of Putinism also could change the politics of oil and natural gas production here—more domestic production serving as another counter to Russia’s oil-based economy. (Maybe we’ll hear politicians from the San Joaquin Valley, where development of the Monterey Shale’s natural gas could be an economic game-changer, accuse fracking opponents of being soft on Russian imperialism.) Alternative energy businesses—from wind to solar to geothermal—should also find it easier to wrap their pitches in national security terms. It’s no longer about merely ending our reliance on Mideast oil, but also about declawing the Russian bear.

California’s softer industries could prosper too. Hollywood, which has struggled to develop compelling bad guys since the end of the Cold War, can mass-produce Russian villains again. As for tourism: With headlines of downed aircraft and bombings everywhere, isn’t it tempting to stay closer to home and go to Disneyland, or check out the minions at Universal Studios?

The big question, of course, is whether our governments, our industries, and our people are still in a position to exploit this moment. The pessimistic view: Our dysfunctional governing system will keep us from seizing the moment. The optimistic: Our persistent economic struggles (at least outside Silicon Valley) and the dangerous provocations of Russia and China might spur us to action.

The promise of this moment may be greatest in the aerospace industry, which is smaller but still cutting-edge, producing drones, satellites for commercial purposes, and space start-ups like Elon Musk’s SpaceX. And there is precedent for revival. After collapsing in the post-Vietnam funk, aerospace rebounded in the ’80s, headlined by the F-117 Stealth aircraft, the B-2 bomber, and the space shuttle. Unfortunately, more recently, as defense spending increased after 9/11 and the industry expanded elsewhere, California aerospace continued its decline.

As important as stopping Putin is stopping Texas or another state from becoming the next California, the place the world turns to in its hour of need. Putin’s pronouncement that he will revive his own aerospace industry, at the same time the Chinese military continues it buildup, should rally us to offense. Putin’s madness has created a new Sputnik moment that should also spur us into investing in science and math education; California needs hundreds of thousands more technically and scientifically skilled workers, for good times and bad.

The state has established a military council and created incentives, but it should go further, and provide seed money to fund business investment and research that serve both national security and the state’s economy. How to pay for it? Why not establish an emergency “Putin tax” on certain items (liquor, cigarettes, oil, and big houses would be fitting) or a “Putin break” from regulations for priority industries?

It’s time for the governor to call a “security council” summit of California officials, business leaders, and scholars. The perfect venue would be Fort Ross State Park, in Sonoma County, site of a settlement established by the Russians in the early 19th Century, with the goal, not yet realized, of colonizing America. It’s a beautiful place, and a powerful reminder that there are few things more enduring than the need to keep Russian czars in their place.

Joe Mathews writes the Connecting California column for Zocalo Public Square. This piece originally appeared at Zocalo Public Square.

TIME Innovation

Five Best Ideas of the Day: July 31

1. Sanctions have backed Vladimir Putin into a corner – and that’s where he is most dangerous.

By Julia Ioffe in the New Republic

2. The new vanguard of journalism entrepreneurs won’t destroy media; they’ll probably save it.

By Ann Friedman in Columbia Journalism Review

3. Can Congress rein in the spies?

By David Cole in the New York Review of Books

4. Already heavily subsidized, making mass transit free could help cities attack congestion and pollution.

By Henry Grabar in Salon

5. Things are improving in Africa: A data visualization

By Our World In Data

The Aspen Institute is an educational and policy studies organization based in Washington, D.C.

TIME Business

10 Networking Tips That Will Make You a Success

150415588
Dimitri Vervitsiotis—Getty Images

Everyone needs to network. And I mean everyone.

What determines whether a drug dealer dies or becomes a kingpin? Yup – the size of his network.

Networking is one of the 10 things I recommend people do every week.

Research shows networking is vital to staying employed, salary growth and job satisfaction. It also makes you more likely to land a job.

Via The Tipping Point: How Little Things Can Make a Big Difference:

In his classic 1974 study Getting a Job, Granovetter…found that 56 percent of those he talked to found their job through a personal connection.

It makes you more likely to be successful at your job.

Via The Happiness Advantage: The Seven Principles of Positive Psychology That Fuel Success and Performance at Work:

MIT researchers…found that the more socially connected the IBM employees were, the better they performed.

It makes you more likely to become an expert at your job.

Via Achieving Success Through Social Capital: Tapping the Hidden Resources in Your Personal and Business Networks:

As much as 70% of learning in the workplace takes place via informal interactions according to a 1998 study by the center for Workforce Development.

And it makes you more likely to be creative on the job.

Via Imagine: How Creativity Works:

…businesspeople with entropic networks full of weak ties were three times more innovative than people with small networks of close friends…

Having a big network even makes you luckier.

Alright, alright… Networking is essential. But how do we do it? I’ve read the books, talked to the experts and I’ve got some answers.

And if you’re one of those people who hates the word “networking” because it seems sleazy, rest assured I’ve got that covered too. Let’s get started:

 

1) If Connecting Seems Hard, Start By Re-Connecting

You hate networking. Or you’re bad at it. Or you’re hopelessly lazy and have the attention span of a gnat. Then just go play on Facebook.

I’m being serious. An excellent first step, backed by research, is toreconnect with old friends:

These findings suggest that dormant relationships – often overlooked or underutilized – can be a valuable source of knowledge and social capital.

Give and Take” author Adam Grant points to research showing in many cases friends you haven’t kept up with are even more helpful than current contacts.

(For a dead simple way to reconnect with people, click here.)

Okay, but this is supposed to be networking, right? How do you meet new people? Well, that can be crazy simple too.

 

2) Move Your Desk

Most people constantly make excuses: “I’m shy. Talking to new people makes me break out with hives, boils and open sores.”

It’s really not that hard and it needn’t be awkward. In fact, it can be as simple as moving your desk.

Via Achieving Success Through Social Capital: Tapping the Hidden Resources in Your Personal and Business Networks:

Jeffrey Pfeffer tells a powerful story of a manager who attributes his success to his decision of where to sit… He noted that during the course of the day, people walked to the cafeteria and to the washrooms. He found where the two paths tended to intersect, near the center of the open plan office layout, and took that position as his work location. He attributes much of his subsequent success to that simple move, since it gave him much better access to what was going on in his department.

Not good at going up to new people? Then situate yourself so they’ll come to you.

(For more insights on networking for introverts, click here.)

Okay, clever tricks. But what if we really want to scale this? And be strategic? Then it’s time to bring out the big guns…

 

3) Find Your “Superconnectors”

A disproportionate number of friends and opportunities came your way through a handful of people. These are “superconnectors.”

Who helped get you your current job? Your previous job? Through whom did you meet the majority of your friends? Seeing any patterns?

Brian Uzzi and Sharon Dunlap discussed this in the Harvard Business Review:

After you identify your key contacts, think about how you first met them. In the center column of the work sheet, write the name of the person who introduced you to your contact (if you met the person yourself, write “me”). This column will reveal the brokers in your network and help you see the networking practices you used to connect with them.

If you only send a few emails or make a few calls it should be to those people, because a small investment there can pay off big.

Who’s an easy first superconnector? Contact your mentor.

(Don’t have a mentor? All successful people have mentors. To get the perfect mentor for you, click here.)

So you’re starting to build up a healthy network now. But all these meetings might get expensive. And that can lead to second thoughts…

 

4) Start An “Interesting People Fund”

Set aside money so there’s no reluctance or guilt and you can jump on opportunities to meet new people.

Ben Casnocha, bestselling author of The Start-up of You and The Alliance, says designating this money can make networking much less stressful.

Pre-committing $100 or $1,000 reduces the likelihood that when it comes time to actually do the thing you know you ought to do, you bail.

What about making time? Top networker Keith Ferrazzi sums up the answer with the title of his bestseller: Never Eat Alone.

(For more on setting up an “interesting people fund”, click here.)

You’ve got a burgeoning network and have set aside time and money to meet with them. Great. But what do you actually say when you’re there?

 

5) Three Golden Questions

You want meetings to be friendly and personal but you also want to lay down the foundation of a relationship that is mutually beneficial.

Judy Robinett, author of How to Be a Power Connector has a great short list of questions to make sure you make the most of even brief meetings.

Via How to Be a Power Connector:

Before you leave any meeting or encounter, you always should ask what I call Three Golden Questions.

First, “How can I help you?” This gives you an opportunity to add value immediately with a suggestion, a referral, or an opportunity, and it will establish you as a giver and potentially someone they want to know.

Second, “What ideas do you have for me?” Asking for ideas allows the people you are talking with to add value to you as you have (hopefully) added value to them.

Third, “Who else do you know that I should talk to?” The very connection you need may be in this individual’s network, and the only way you can find out is with this question.

(For more on what to say and do in the moment, click here.)

But this is the kinda strategic behavior some people see as sleazy and shallow. What keeps networking sincere?

 

6) How To Not Be Sleazy

When it comes to business relationships, stop thinking about the word “business” and focus on “relationships.”

So what should we keep in mind when it comes to being a friend to new people we meet? I always think of “warmth, curiosity, and generosity.”

Research shows people evaluate everyone they meet in terms of warmth and competence. And of the two guess which mattered more? Yup, warmth.

And then there’s curiosity. Actively showing interest in other people is powerful — and kind.

Merely listening to what they have to say and asking them to tell you more is all it takes.

When people speak, the best responses are both active and constructive. What’s that mean?

It is engaged, enthusiastic, curious and has supportive nonverbal action. Ask questions. Be excited. Ask for details. Smile. Touch. Laugh.

People who create this kind of positive energy are higher achievers. They get promoted earlier and also improve the performance of those around them.

(For more on how being sincere and positive can boost your career, click here.)

Hey, there were three things: warmth, curiosity and generosity. Where’s generosity? That one is so important it gets its own section…

 

7) The Five Minute Favor

One of the most common problems people have in networking is how to follow up: Great, I met someone. Now what do I do?

The answer to that is: give. Think of the other person first.

Top Wharton professor Adam Grant, author of Give and Take, offers a piece of advice on how to network he learned from Adam Rifkin.

It’s The Five Minute Favor:

One of my personal favorites is probably Adam Rifkin’s idea of the “Five-Minute Favor” (if you can do something for someone that will take less than five minutes, just do it.) A lot of people look at the idea of helping others and say, “Gosh, that’s going to be time consuming, or exhausting, or put me at risk of being exploited.” I think that Adam’s idea enables us to a sense of, “What if I just took a couple minutes every day to try to help someone in a way that a small commitment to me, but could be of large benefit to them?”

You know that hippie-sounding bumper sticker “Practice random acts of kindness”? Corny as it may sound, you should actually do that.

(For more on the five minute favor, click here.)

You’re giving. You’re even making a game out of it, trying to figure out the best way to help others. Now it’s time to flip that on its head.

 

8) Cement A Relationship By Asking For A Favor

Asking people for favors can actually strengthen the bond between you.

My friend Michael Simmons mentions a great networking method used by none other than Benjamin Franklin.

There was somebody who really did not like Ben. And as much as Ben tried to be nice to the guy, nothing worked.

So instead of trying to help his detractor, Franklin took the opposite route — he asked his enemy for a favor. Ironically, that made them friends.

Via The Autobiography of Benjamin Franklin:

Having heard that he had in his library a certain very scarce and curious book, I wrote a note to him expressing my desire of perusing that book and requesting he would do me the favour of lending it to me for a few days.

He sent it immediately – and I returned it in about a week with another note expressing strongly my sense of the favour. When we next met in the House, he spoke to me (which he had never done before), and with great civility. And he ever afterward manifested a readiness to serve me on all occasions, so that we became great friends, and our friendship continued to his death.

What happened? When someone does something for you they need to justify it — maybe by changing their mind about you.

How can you do this without coming off like a selfish taker? Judy Robinett says to stick to the “rule of two”: give two favors before asking for one.

And don’t be afraid. Research shows we tend to underestimate just how helpful people are.

(For more on how to be a giver the smart way, click here.)

Now it’s all starting to come together. What do the experts say we need to know when looking at the big picture?

 

9) Tips From The Best

Fortune Magazine called Adam Rifkin the most networked guy in Silicon Valley. He has a few things anyone can do to be a better networker:

1. Do something every single day. Make it a habit. The more of it you do, the better you can get at it. Every day is an opportunity to get better, but do not try to do too much at once. Take the longview, and connect with at least one person professionally every day. Could be following up with someone you already know; could be asking for an introduction from a mutual connection.

2. Once in a while, think of two people who should know each other but don’t, and introduce them. Follow through with them later to learn from whether that introduction was worthwhile, so you can get better at making introductions. Practice!

3. Imagine you got laid off today. Who are the 5-10 people you’d write to for advice? Make sure to invest in those relationships regularly, not just when you have an urgent need.

4. Look at the 5-10 people you’ve spent the most time with in the last 3 months. Are you happy with the way they’re influencing you? If so, find another person who belongs in that group and invest in that relationship. (If not, change the way you’re spending your time! How you spend your time determines so much in your life.)

(For more insights from networker extraordinaire Adam Rifkin, click here.)

So you’ve got tons of contacts now. But how can you possibly maintain them all? There just isn’t enough time. Unless you do something very fun…

 

10) PARTY!

Good networkers build bridges, becoming a linchpin between disparate networks. But as Michael Simmons notes, great networkers form communities.

They make sure that their contacts get to know each other, exponentially increasing the connections and opportunities.

And forming communities actually makes managing networks easier – have regular get-togethers with a rotating group of your contacts.

It’s a trend you see again and again among top networkers:

  1. Keith Ferrazzi, author of Never Eat Alone, throws a monthly breakfast, introducing his connections to each other.
  2. Adam Rifkin hosts his “106 miles” gatherings where Silicon Valley power brokers and newcomers mix and mingle.
  3. Harvard’s Gautam Mukunda regularly gathers the most interesting thought leaders in Boston for steak dinners.

I’ve attended the latter two and can’t say enough positive things.

(To learn more about how you can turn your network into a community, clickhere.)

So where does all this take you in the end? Let’s look at the key point that makes all of this so powerful.

 

Sum Up

Here are the ten networking tips that bring success:

  1. If Connecting Seems Hard, Start By Re-Connecting
  2. Move Your Desk
  3. Find Your “Superconnectors”
  4. Start An “Interesting People Fund”
  5. Three Golden Questions
  6. How To Not Be Sleazy
  7. The Five Minute Favor
  8. Cement a Relationship By Asking For A Favor
  9. Big Picture Tips From The Best
  10. PARTY!

Old people, economists and insurance adjusters all say the most valuable thing in life is relationships. They make you happier – and healthier.

Via Achieving Success Through Social Capital:

…according to a study reported in the Journal of the American Medical Association, “More diverse social networks were associated with greater resistance to upper respiratory illness,” conclude researchers from Carnegie Mellon University.

It’s the first day of kindergarten again, folks. Go make some friends.

What’s the best next step? Send these five simple emails.

I’ll have more tips from networking experts in my next weekly update so join the community of over 90,000 readers here.

Related posts:

How To Be Resilient: 8 Steps To Success When Life Gets Hard

What 10 things should you do every day to improve your life?

How To Make Your Life Better By Sending Five Simple Emails

This piece originally appeared on Barking Up the Wrong Tree.

TIME foreign affairs

How the United Nations Human Rights Council Unfairly Targets Israel

ISRAEL-PALESTINIAN-CONFLICT-GAZA
Israeli army armored personnel carriers (APC) move along Israel's border with the Gaza Strip on July 30, 2014. JACK GUEZ—AFP/Getty Images

Curiously absent from the latest resolution is any mention of Hamas

There are 1,725 words in the latest resolution released by the United Nations Human Rights Council, which cynically chastises Israel for so-called “human rights violations” in Gaza.

Nowhere among those 1,725 words will you find the name of the terror organization that is truly responsible for every civilian death and every human rights violation in both Israel and Gaza: Hamas.

Instead of focusing on actual human rights violators around the world, as this international body was created to do, the UNHRC keeps its main focus on Israel—a nation that has gone to extraordinary lengths to protect and preserve the lives of civilians, both during this latest conflict and throughout previous defensive responses to Hamas’ terror.

A nation, Israel, which Colonel Richard Kemp, the Former Commander of British Forces in Afghanistan, has said “did more to safeguard the rights of civilians in a combat zone than any other army in the history of warfare.”

Since its inception in 2006, the UNHRC has released a total of 103 resolutions. Astonishingly, 56 have focused on criticizing Israel. The UNHRC has held a total of 21 special sessions to address dire humanitarian crises throughout the world. One has addressed Sudan, another Sri Lanka, another Ivory Coast and another Libya—while 7 of the 21 special sessions have irrationally targeted Israel.

While the UNHRC goes after Israel, it has completely ignored Hamas’ actions. There have been more than 2,600 rockets lobbed by Hamas at Israel. But you’ll find the word “rocket” appear only once in this latest resolution.

Hamas makes no secret of its intentions. This terrorist organization openly states that it deliberately fires rockets at Israeli civilians and calls for the kidnapping and murder of all Israelis.

Even the Palestinian representative to the UNHRC, Ambassador Ibrahim Khraishi, stated in a July 9 interview with Palestinian television that such attacks against Israel violate humanitarian law. He said, “the missiles that are now being launched against Israel, each and every missile constitutes a crime against humanity, whether it hits or misses, because it is directed at civilian targets.”

What makes Hamas’ actions a double war crime is that they target civilians in Israel while exploiting civilians in Gaza and using them as human shields.

Hamas is building its terror command centers and weapons storage facilities among schools, hospitals and mosques, showing no regard for civilian lives. Israel’s concerted efforts to avoid harming uninvolved civilians have been well documented. Hamas instructs the people in Gaza to ignore Israel’s phone calls, leaflets and text messages, warning civilians of pending attacks against terrorists. Knowingly, they put Palestinians in harm’s way turning them into propaganda tools.

Hamas spokesman Sami Abu Zuhri said in a television interview earlier this month, “the fact that people are facing Israeli warplanes bare-chested to protect their homes, I believe this procedure has proved its efficiency. And we in the Hamas movement call on our people to adopt this procedure.”

Where is the condemnation for this war crime? Where is the so-called “Human Rights Council”?

UNHRC’s mechanisms for voting and membership seem designed to protect some of the worst human rights violators in the world. This is an organization whose elected membership has included such stalwarts of human rights as Saudi Arabia, Cuba, Iran and Libya under Muammar Qaddafi. Israel is the only country that is on the UNHRC’s “standing agenda” to be debated at each session—not Syria, not the Congo, not Sudan—but the only democracy in the Middle East.

There have been more resolutions aimed against Israel than all 191 countries in the world, combined.

The real tragedy is, of course, the suffering that civilians in Israel and Gaza are experiencing because of Hamas’ terrorist actions and motives. Hamas has disrupted the lives of millions of Israelis, forcing us into bomb shelters on a daily basis. Hamas’ decision to ignore and reject ceasefires, divert international aid meant to restore basic infrastructure in Gaza into the production of more weapons and an underground network of terror tunnels and, most heinously, their decision to use civilians as human shields are all evidence of how Hamas continues to perpetuate the suffering of their own people in Gaza.

Instead of wasting its time on these misguided, one-sided resolutions that antagonize Israel, the UNHRC must turn its attention to true human rights violators throughout the world, especially terrorist groups like Hamas. Hamas and its ideological partners in Al-Qaeda, ISIS, Boko Haram and Hezbollah are committed to terror. They stand against the most basic and natural human rights, they have no regard for human life, they mistreat and violate the rights of women and they oppose all believers in free speech and democracy.

The UNHRC must shift its focus to eradicating these crucial injustices facing humanity today, and abandon its politically motivated and cynical agenda to target Israel.

Ambassador Ido Aharoni is the Consul General of Israel in New York.

TIME Humor

Sharknado 2: Five Things Deadlier Than a Sharknado—And How to Survive Them

How to Survive a Sharknado
How to Survive a Sharknado Courtesy Three Rivers Press

Tuning into 'Sharknado 2: The Second One' tonight? A new guide has some critical tips on staying safe from the wildest of creatures in your wildest of dreams (or tele-movies)

1. MEGA PYTHONS

Let it try to eat you. Lie on the ground perfectly still, with your feet toward the snake. Do not struggle as it begins swallowing you. Its backward-curving teeth will scrape you, but it probably won’t bite down. When you are in its mouth up to your chest, pull your knife out and stab it in the eyes. You may not kill it, but you will distract and blind it while you make your escape.

Mega Python

2. FIRENADOS

Treat burns. Wash the burn with water for three to five minutes. Do not break blisters. Cover the burn with a moist sterile bandage or cloth. Seek medical attention. Do not apply ice, ointments, or home remedies such as egg whites and butter. Who does that anyway? Egg whites? Everyone knows you’re just supposed to use the yolk.

Firenado

3. BASILISKS

DON’T: Shoot it or try to blow it up. Conventional weapons can’t penetrate the beast’s thick body armor. It survived a fiery inferno in- side an exploding building, indicating it is also impervious to high temperatures. It’s either the Eye of Medusa or nothing if you want to stop a basilisk.

Basilisk

4. BOARICANES

Take a tip from T-Pain—get low. If you can’t reach shelter, you’ll need to protect yourself from flying debris. Get low to the ground. Curl into a ball. If a flash flood washes you away, you’ll roll to safety like a human tumbleweed.

Boaricane

5. DINOSHARKS

The best defense is a good offense—specifically, a harpoon gun. If you’re on a boat, your options are limited. Dinosharks can swim as fast as any boat, and strike a hole through the hull as well. While the Puerto Vallarta dinoshark measured twenty feet, adults can grow up to fifty feet—meaning it could easily punch a hole in a Regal Islands International cruise ship. Fight back, or become the next victim. According to McGraw, the creature’s ex- terior is resistant to gunfire and grenade blasts. The weak spots are its mouth and eyes. Possibly its genitals, though we don’t rec- ommend taking the time to look for those. A harpoon through an eye stopped the Puerto Vallarta dinoshark. That’s a difficult shot to make, even for an experienced marksman at close range. But we have faith in you. We’ll just be waiting right . . . over . . . here . . .

Dinoshark[1]

Excerpted from How to Survive a Sharknado And Other Unnatural Disasters: Fight Back When Monsters and Mother Nature Attack, by Andrew Shaffer. He is the author of humorous nonfiction and fiction, including Literary Rogues, Great Philosophers Who Failed at Love, and, under the pen name Fanny Merkin, Fifty Shames of Earl Grey. His writing has been published in Mental Floss, Maxim, The Daily Beast, and more.

TIME Humor

‘Lena Dunham’ Congratulates ‘Allison Williams’ on ‘Peter Pan’

Allison Williams and Lena Dunham
Allison Williams and Lena Dunham Paul Archuleta—FilmMagic

When 'Girls' are cast as boys*

Lena Dunham: Allison! Hi! You know what — let’s kiss on both cheeks in case there’s any photographers around. That will help them with their headline “Lena Dunham goes Euro.” I really do try to think up headlines for them. I just can’t help it. It’s just what my mind does! Anyway. I wanted to have coffee with you because I wanted to tell you how totally excited I am for you that you’re going to be in Peter Pan Live on NBC. I mean, wow. What an opportunity. Why are you looking at me like that?

Allison Williams: I am suspicious of this meeting.

LD: Really? You are? God! How fascinating. Why?

AW: Well, I feel like Le Pain Quotidien is such the place that you, like, meet someone if you want to make it look your intentions are neutral and benign but they’re really sinister.

LD: Allison! That makes me feel terrible. I mean, it theoretically makes me feel terrible. It is the kind of thing that someone would feel terrible about if they felt terrible about things. Although I am still open to feeling terrible if in fact whatever you’re suspicious of is something that ends up happening. Anyway. Did you think it was weird that one of the producers described you as having a boyish vulnerability?

AW: Not really. I mean, I have a kind of a square jaw and maybe, like, a boyish glint in my eye?

LD: I guess. I thought it was so creepy. I mean. This isn’t against you. But I feel like the kind of guy who says stuff like that is the kind of guy who goes on vacation to Thailand, alone. You know what I mean?

AW: Look. I know you said this isn’t against me, but when you say things like “the producers who are responsible for the show you’re about to do are probably into underage sex vacations,” that is hurtful. And. Not everyone can write a book for a couple million dollars and have their own show. I’m very exited about playing Peter Pan. I have been wanting to play Peter Pan since I was three years old…

LD: Oh my God, I got it. I got it. Talking to you right now I totally know where I want to go for season four! I mean, I seriously, honestly, came here just to congratulate you, but now, I mean, I really know what direction I want to take …

AW: You’re not firing me are you? Le Pan Quotidien is so exactly where you fire someone.

LD: I’m not firing you. But you’re right. This would be a good place to fire someone! But listen, listen, listen. Oh my God, I love this so much. Wouldn’t it be cool next season if maybe Marnie was in… I don’t know, a made-for-television Broadway play. Like — wait. Oh my God. Jersey Boys. Listen. Oh, this is so great. Some weird female director – like, Julie Taymor decides to do Jersey Boys, but women playing all the guy’s parts, and Julie Taymor sees Marnie at a party at that gallery, and she’s like, “Oh you have such great boyish energy” and she casts Marnie … And it’s supposed to be this big thing, so interesting and avant garde, and it ends up being a huge flop. And then…

AW: If you think Le Pan Quotidien is a good place to tell someone you’re going to insert them in a story line where they play one of the male leads in an all-female, live television broadcast of Jersey Boys, directed by Julie Taymor, that ends up being a flop, it is not.

LD: Wait, wait, wait. I didn’t even get to the best part: In the last episode it’s revealed that the novel that Hannah’s been struggling with all season that she won’t tell anyone the plot to is actually a roman-a-clef about Marnie’s horrible experience.

AW: But that makes me look like such a loser.

LD: I don’t understand.

AW: Well it makes it look like my career, not just, you know, Marnie’s career, but my career, is a joke.

LD: Would it make you feel better if the novel Hannah writes is really, really bad and no one will publish it?

AW: Slightly better. Can Marnie sing My Boyfriend’s Back?

LD: Of course.

AW: And can the reviews say that’s a highpoint of the show?

LD: Absolutely. Oh, but your character also has to become best friends with Carrie Underwood, because she was in the The Sound Of Music, and kinda got crap for it, and she’s the only one who can understand Marnie’s pain.

AW: I don’t know about that. That makes Marnie seem really – I don’t know. It just doesn’t seem like Marnie, to be friends with someone who says “mean people need Jesus.”

LD: Well, it’s kind of too late, because I already talked to Carrie Underwood and she wants to do it, so…

AW: Wait a minute. You acted like you just came up with this story line while we were sitting here. But you actually came here knowing that you were going to tell me this.

LD: Ok, remember I said I was open to feeling terrible? I feel terrible. And I will totally have a scene where Carrie Underwood finds the MS of my novel and tells me that it sucks. Ok? Plus, you agreed to come to Le Pan Quotidien. What did you think was going to happen?

*At least this is how such a conversation might go in Sarah Miller’s imagination. She also writes for NewYorker.com and The Hairpin, among other outlets, and has published two novels,Inside the Mind of Gideon Rayburn and The Other Girl.

TIME Media

Why I’m Actually Pretty Psyched for the New Sarah Palin Channel

It adds to the incredible variety of media sources but will flourish only if it actually contributes to ongoing conversations about news, politics, culture and ideas.

+ READ ARTICLE

Former governor, vice-presidential candidate and reality-TV star Sarah Palin has started her own subscription-only web-based news channel. That’s good news for people who want to follow her – and for people who want to ignore her, too (she’ll be showing up far less often on cable news channels). “I want talk directly to you on our channels, on my terms, and no need to please the powers that be,” she explains in a (free!) intro video.

Palin’s new project is the latest sign that we live in world of gloriously fragmented media and culture that allows just about anyone to express themselves more fully than at any time in human history. That’s a great thing, even if it means trouble for long-established media companies and empowers conspiracy ranters such as Alex Jones.

Twenty years ago, just as the Internet was developing into a mass medium that catered to individuals’ unique tastes and interests in unprecedented ways, critics were foolishly flipping out about “media consolidation” and how a few companies such as AOL Time Warner would control all our news and information (as if!). Now, they are more likely to worry over the loss of a common news culture and the seeming ability of people to consume only self-confirming points of view. That may seem plausible on the face of things, but it’s equally wrong.

Palin is hardly a trailblazer in launching her own channel. Her ideological confrere Glenn Beck launched The Blaze network on the web in 2011. It spread to satellite TV a year later, and claims north of 300,000 subscribers paying $9.95 for full access to tons of print, video and audio content. Elsewhere on the political spectrum, pioneering blogger Andrew Sullivan sells access to The Dish (which touts itself as “biased and balanced”) for $1.99 a month and The Young Turks offer free, basic ($10) and premium ($25) access to a wide variety of text and video. RedState, The Daily Kos, Huffington Post, PJ Media and others all offer unlimited amounts of news, commentary and community for free. Everywhere you look, there are not just more ways to access the news, but more voices entering the marketplace of ideas.

The Sarah Palin Channel will flourish only if brings something truly different and substantial to the table. The eponymous host promises her service will be “a community” and that she’s most excited about hearing directly from her audience. That’s a start (and a shift from the old-style news broadcasting), but only time will tell whether that’s enough to keep folks shelling out $10 a month for the long haul.

What is clear is that even with the proliferation of news sources with distinct points of view, Americans are reading deeply and widely. Earlier this year, the American Press Institute released a study called “The Personal News Cycle: How Americans choose to get their news.” Among the key findings: 75% of us consume news every day and increasingly we pay attention throughout our waking hours, checking in across different platforms, media and sources.

Far from walling ourselves off in ideological gardens that tell us just what we want to hear, “the majority of Americans across generations now combine a mix of sources and technologies to get their news each week.” We go deep on stories that interest us, reading multiple accounts from multiple places to get more information—something that wasn’t possible back in the days of three broadcast channels and one or two hometown newspapers. Perhaps most interestingly, we apply a sliding scale of credibility based on sources, with 43% having high trust levels in reports from well-established news organizations, 21% from “word of mouth” ones, and even less from unsubstantiated social media sources.

So welcome to the 21st Century media world, Sarah Palin. New voices and platforms are always welcome, but it’s a jungle out here. You don’t have to “please the powers that be,” but you do have to bring real value to your readers and viewers – and that’s no walk in the park in the mediascape of endlessly fascinating and proliferating choices.

TIME foreign affairs

In Ramallah, a Wedding Stands Against the Chaos and Hate

Israeli attacks continue in Gaza
Smoke rises when Israeli attacks continue in Gaza, July 29,2014. Anadolu Agency—Getty Images

Israeli and Palestinian narratives insist on continuing the carnage, with neither side seeming aware of the humanity of the other

Weddings in Ramallah usually take place on Saturdays or Sundays. But when my daughter Tania and her in-laws to be were discussing her wedding date, the main concern was to avoid the World Cup finals. The only available date was Friday, July 11th. Little did we know last April, when we met with the priest at the Latin Church in Ramallah with our expected new in-laws, that this July date would be in the crossfires of a war on Gaza in which rockets would be flying all over.

In addition to local friends and family, we were expecting relatives to arrive from Jordan and the U.S. via Jordan bridges, and some straight into Tel Aviv.

As the wedding day neared, we had to reassure friends and relatives that Ramallah was safe. Friends from Nazareth, Jerusalem and Amman were calling us, saying that they are worried about coming. A week earlier, my brother-in-law, his wife and another couple were nearly killed by angry settlers as he was returning from a wedding in Ramallah. The incident caused us all to reserve half a local hotel in Ramallah to ensure that family and guests would sleep in town rather than risk returning home at night.

Our friends coming from the U.S. were bombarded with news about how almost all of Israel was being hit by rockets from Gaza. The news and images were accompanied with voiceover and scrolling text that portrayed Palestinians as merciless terrorists who were carrying out a totally unprovoked attack on innocent Israelis and terrifying the entire country.

Relatives from Jordan who were also invited to attend the wedding were seeing the same images, but with an entirely different subtext. The rockets were given names and the attacks were part of the heroic Palestinian resistance. In addition to the images of destruction and killing, the narrative of the Arab media was of the Palestinian heroes who were presented as nothing short of some kind of Superman that could go through fire without getting hurt.

Both narratives accompanied angry voices refusing a ceasefire and insisting on the continuation of the carnage in order to accomplish some unclear political or, rather, emotional goal.

The American relatives coming via the Israeli crossings on the Jordan River were extensively questioned and interrogated. In one case, after six hours of delay, Israelis finally allowed all but my nephew. The reason this young man, who belongs to the pacifist Mennonite Church, was not allowed to attend the wedding was because he had volunteered a year earlier with the Christian Peace Makers teams, a faith-based group that helps disenfranchised groups around the world. They have missions in Mexico and in the Palestinian town of Hebron. His main job at the time, in a Palestinian town without any Christian Palestinians, was to help kindergarten children cross the street and protect them from rowdy Jewish settlers who feel that the city of Hebron is their God-given territory, irrespective of who has been living in the city for centuries.

Our Mennonite relatives that did make it visited the Tent of Nations near Bethlehem. The farm, owned by a Christian Palestinian family, is dubbed “people’s bridge” and has turned into a Christian retreat for locals and volunteers. This educational and environmental farm has become a target of nearby Jewish settlers. A few weeks earlier, Israeli troops had uprooted some 1,500 fruit-bearing trees, an act the Palestinian Christian owners felt was a prelude to a possible confiscation to make room for the expansion of the nearby Jewish settlement.

One group of relatives from the U.S. were surprised to find us sitting relaxed in a local hotel balcony when they arrived in Ramallah. On their way, the tourist bus driver had an app on his cellphone that would blare a siren every time a rocket was launched from Gaza. After some hot shawarma sandwiches and Ramallah’s best Rukab ice cream, our relatives began to settle in.

Judging by the diametrically preconceived attitudes formulated by mass media, it is difficult to find anyone on the planet that is neutral in this decades-old conflict. Neither stereotypical images of Palestinians as terrorists or as superheroes does much to show the humanity of Palestinians.

The ongoing onslaught of Gaza is being spun, on the one hand, as an act of self-defense. No country can accept being shot at with rockets, is the typical Israeli line. The speakers never tell their audience that Israel is no ordinary country, that it has been holding another people under military occupation for 47 years, that it has brought Jewish settlers into and besieged the occupied areas in contravention of international law. This siege of Gaza for more than seven years hasn’t been approved by any international body, yet no one is able to put an end to this basic right, describing it as a reward to Hamas rather a right to the human beings living in Gaza.

On the other hand, Palestinian fighters facing up F-16 fighter jets and powerful tank and naval shells respond with unsophisticated rockets that have barely caused any fatalities or physical damage—yet has produced much anger. While the war on Gaza takes on an asymmetrical nature when you look at the reported casualties (more than 1,200 Palestinian civilians versus three Israeli civilians), the conflict is never written about with anything but stereotypical adjectives.

A follower of the Israeli narrative hears the word Hamas as if every one of the 1.8 million Palestinians is a Hamas fighter holding a knife in his teeth and waiting to destroy the entire state of Israel. The pro-Palestinian narrative is similarly oblivious of the humanity of the Israelis and the desire of the majority of Israelis for peace irrespective of the fact that their government is being pulled to extreme positions that have included the yet to be proven justification of the war. Even though Israel began the war on an unproven accusation against the Gaza-based Hamas leadership, the fact is that those killed in Hebron, or in Jerusalem as well as the hundreds in Gaza, are human beings.

Neither side, nor their respective supporters and allies, seems aware of the humanity of the other. After an unbearable seven-year-long siege, Gazans want to live in freedom and independence with open borders so they can visit relatives and friends in Cairo or pray in Jerusalem. And Israelis don’t want to have to run to their shelters every time a siren warns of an incoming rocket.

The day after my daughter was born, September 7th 1990, I got a message on my beeper. Israeli soldiers had clashed with Palestinians in Jerusalem’s Al-Aqsa mosque, leaving 17 Palestinians dead.

Despite all obstacles since her birth, my daughter has grown into a beautiful, smart and outgoing young woman. Her wedding and the festivities following it were beautiful and joyful. The bride and groom went to Turkey for their honeymoon and returned. But the war on Gaza has not stopped.

The hatred and the dehumanization have escalated to unprecedented levels on both sides. Neither calls of death to Arabs nor anti-Israeli rhetoric will change the basic problem that continues to fester.

The underlying roots of this conflict are political. No military solution can replace the human aspiration of people to live in freedom and independence. The sooner all parties can deal with these yearnings, the sooner we all can have our humanity back.

Daoud Kuttab is an award-winning Palestinian journalist. He is a columnist with Al-Monitor and a former Ferris Professor of Journalism at Princeton University. Follow him on Twitter at @daoudkuttab.

Your browser, Internet Explorer 8 or below, is out of date. It has known security flaws and may not display all features of this and other websites.

Learn how to update your browser