Justice. Through studying law I found out two things: 1) justice, all in all is simply a way to remove tensions in the community and 2) there is no way to be completely objective to the human cause, as humans are not perfect and we all make mistakes.
But we as mankind managed to create rules called “law.” This useful tool, among others, is used when one is harmed by another. The victim has the right to seek justice.
The recent uprisings in protest of Syrian President Baszar al-Assad, which began in May 2011, have now cost the lives of almost 10,000 people according to human rights activists. The international community, however, has not been quick to respond to the situation in Syria. Despite this high death toll, Russia and China, both longstanding allies of the Syrian regime, have twice previously voted in opposition to a United Nations Security Council resolutions condemning the Syrian regime, before acquiescing and signing a recent UN resolution this week.
Syria’s primary international ally, however, remains Iran. The depth of this relationship was revealed by email exchanges recently attained by hackers who gained access to Assad’s personal emails this past week. These emails revealed high levels of coordination between the two countries, especially recent advice given to President Assad on the best methods for controlling the Syrian media and squashing the uprisings.
This week, the Seattle LGBT Commission cancelled a meeting with Alliance of Israeli LGBT Organizations in response to protests from pro-Palestinian human rights activists who accused the Israeli LGBT organization of “pinkwashing” Israeli human rights violations. The statement timidly read: “The LGBT Commission does not feel thoroughly prepared to facilitate and event surrounding such complex topics at this time.”
A Wider Bridge, a Jewish organization that is currently part of Bay Area UpStart, posted a highly critical response stating: “We are deeply disturbed by the single-minded and dehumanizing tactics of those who would seek to shut down these important opportunities for engagement, dialogue, learning and collaboration.” A Wider Bridge had originally wanted to partner with Alliance of Israeli LGBT Organizations “to inspire LGBTQ Jews to deepen their Jewish identity through connection with Israel and to strengthen LGBTQ Jewish and Israeli communities through international collaboration.” The most forceful condemnation came from A Wider Bridge Executive Director Arthur Slepian who stated, “Thanks to the Israel boycotters for raising the issue, so now we can look at it. It is not pinkwashing to tell the truth.”
“I was killing because Jews are killing in Palestine” explained as justification for his recent killing spree in Toulouse, France. Peculiar idea about justice isn’t it?
The lack of tolerance towards Jews in Europe has been expressed in numerous ways. There have been articles decrying Israel’s unjust treatment of Palestinians and there have been discriminatory actions take by specific European governments targeting Jewish ritual practices. Nevertheless, the murder of 4 innocent civilians in France has appropriately shocked everyone’s sensibilities. The murderer was allegedly trained by al-Qaeda, but that’s really beside the point. The truly disturbing part of the story is how his motivation stemmed from a particularly perverse conception of justice that is beyond my comprehension.
Throughout history, Jewry has encompassed a number of radical individuals who sought to overturn the corrupt status quo of their day. Within these rebels however, is something innately ‘Jewish’ –their conceptions of justice, their humanist values and ultimately, their universal concern for the underdog. The vestigial impact of the historical memory of the discrimination of their own people profoundly influenced these radicals and motivated them to revolutionary action.
Justice in the Jewish tradition is the highest moral virtue. It is upheld by two pillars, tzedakah and tikkun olam, which inform a universal concern for the suffering of others and give rise to a humanist tradition within Judaism that applies to all. With the coming of modernity and the failure of the promise of Emancipation to integrate Jews as equals into society, many Jews rebelled against outward symbols of ‘Jewishness’ through secularizing and universalizing Jewish values into revolutionary ideologies. These new philosophies, such as Marxism, focused on Jewish notions of cosmopolitanism, sympathy for the underdog and the creation of a messianic utopia. In this way, a phenomenon termed by Isaac Deutcher as the ‘Non-Jewish Jew’ was born: radical Jews who were of Jewry but not in it; Jews who found the narrow confines of Judaism too restricting and moved beyond it.
Every now and then I am really happy that my opinions and decisions are not influential. The pressure on the leaders of nations, heads of the armies and other significant individuals must be overwhelming in many cases. The matters of peace and war seem to be, from my point of view, the hardest ones to analyze. The decision is not a theoretical question in an academic debate but a choice that will end in the survival or death of real people.
The recent days have shown that the narration for the need for bombing Iran is not the only one in the Israeli society. The photos of Israelis declaring love towards Iranians and promising NEVER to bomb their country went viral in the social media and were responded by mutual feelings and declarations among some Iranians. Peace is good, war is evil. The ones who declare war are unjust; the justice is always for the peace. If only this could be so simple.
To catch a glimpse of Medieval xenophobic rage, simply google ‘Russia elections Jews’ (in Russian, of course). Hundreds of blog posts, YouTube videos, forum discussions and more offer the following unlikely story: the Jews are out to destroy Russia’s peace and stability by preventing Vladimir Putin’s reelection. Moreover, you will find people saying that in conjunction with vicious liberals from the EU and US, Jews are threatening Russian prosperity by imposing detrimental values on Russian society. While this is certainly not the position of the Russian majority, the mere presence of such a group within Russian society should be extremely disconcerting.
In Africa, natural resources have always been both a blessing and a devastating curse. For hundreds of years, Europeans were colonizing African land and making profits from its wealth, as well as forcing indigenous populations into slavery. The second half of the twentieth century raised the hope that after reaching independence, the situation of African countries would change for the better. However, it wasn’t about to happen, not at all.
Nowadays Africa is mostly governed by dictatorships. African people cannot fully benefit from their goods just for themselves. Africa has many opportunities in the economic field to join the leading and outstanding world powers. Despite the wide range of natural resources, Africa’s most important resource is their youth, who want to work and explore the continent. However, children usually do not have the chance to grow up in loving and caring families that could shape them into the strong minded society. Instead of books they too often are given guns. One of the most horrific examples, not the single one though, is the Lord’s Resistance Army – the rebel group of Joseph Kony that since 1987 “stole” around 30,000 children. Young boys are trained to kill in cold blood and turn girls into sexual slaves.
When discussing Polish attitudes towards potential Iranian nuclear capabilities, it is important to distinguish between two components: official diplomatic responses and the nature of public opinion. Diplomatically, Poland maintains a strong relationship with Israel and, as a member of the EU, generally advocates a position in concert with other EU members such as Germany and France. Additionally, the Polish government strives to cultivate a close diplomatic relationship with the United States, and has actually been accused in the past of being overly deferential to US interests as opposed to the interests of fellow EU members. In tandem, both of these factors would indicate the Polish government has a strong interest in joining efforts to prevent Iranian nuclear development.
If Iran were to attack Israel today, the Polish Jewish community would be deeply saddened. Most of us have family and friends currently living in Israel, and have been fortunate enough to develop a strong appreciation for Israel over the course of our lives. Moreover, for my age group, this would be the first war of our lifetimes in which we felt emotionally involved, adding to the potential impact of this war.