Earlier this month I attended a conference organized by the World Zionist Organization aimed at countering world anti-Semitism. Growing up in a North-Shore suburb, surrounded by thousands of Jews ranging from Orthodox to Reform, I was truly astounded to see the extent to which worldwide Jewry must struggle. With the last survivors of the Holocaust now passing on, those that remain are playing witness to rising levels of violence and hate across Europe and around the world.
BDS-ers attempted to impose a boycott of Israeli products (BDS) at my trendy, hipster food coop in Brooklyn, New York. All of FIVE products to protest Israel’s human rights violations against Palestinians! Absurd on one hand that a political debate should take place at a food coop (see Jon Stewart “Daily Show’ www.jewlicious.com/...bdsfail-park-slope-food-coop-on-votes-on-boycott-of-Israeli-goods/-91k )
Scary: Many members of the aggressive BDS faction are Jewish. Of course! Jews are leaders in supporting human rights for all. Our strength as Jews is our ability to argue and disagree amongst each other. Yet, we ARE Jews, and this we must remember.
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 following is a reflection from a recent AJC and Germany Close Up trip to Berlin. To take part in our next Germany experience this August, click here to apply!
As we passed one of the numerous stores that sold “I Love Berlin” t-shirts, I turned to a few other participants in the group and joked, “They should sell shirts that say ‘I visited Berlin and I’m still sorting out my feelings.’” I received a few empathetic laughs, or maybe my new friends were just trying to humor me.
Several months have elapsed since I returned from the week-long trip to Berlin, and I continue to sort out my feelings. The trip was organized by the AJC and a program called Germany Close Up. As a group of young Jewish professionals, we spent the week exploring the city and its history trying to find out how the country has dealt with its past while also learning about Jewish life in modern-day Germany and Germany’s current relationship with Israel.
I am a women, a mother, a Jew. I have been educated at University and in my Jewish home. I see things happening around me, both the good and the bad. However, one would imagine that in today’s society there is a certain level of freedom, tolerance, respect, the ability to live without fear, to feel safe and to have human rights protected.
Who gives someone the liberty to humiliate, bully, or harass another human being, especially a younger person? Surely this is not fear but possibly some combination of a lack of education, discrimination, hyper-nationalism, extremism, and self-anti-Semitism within the one country that Jews were waiting for. Why is this happening?
Naama’s story reached many people in the world, through the written press and TV outlets. After reading about the story you ask yourself, “is this actually possible”?
There was a lot of talk of miracles at the Chanukah party hosted by the new Austrian Consul General in New York, Peter Brezovszky, on the second night, December 21.
The theme, of course, lends itself as we celebrate the unlikely defeat of the Romans at the hands of the Maccabees, and the oil that lasted eight nights. But on this occasion, a few other layers of history were pealed back and in the process, some tender wounds exposed along with hopes that healing may be at hand.
David Harris, AJC’s Executive Director, came to the party, which was filled to capacity with over 150 ACCESS and Austrian guests. He recalled his late father, whose work in physics as a young man in Vienna was put to an abrupt end with the Anschluss. In the 1960s, David returned to the city to help Jews in transit who were escaping the Soviet Union for safer harbors. He recalled lighting the Chanukah menorah with families who had just arrived on free soil – their first open Jewish act after hiding their faith for so many years.
This morning we had the opportunity to meet our ten German counterparts who will join us for the rest of the week. The day began with four hours of eating, starting with breakfast at the hotel, and immediately followed by a decadent brunch at Villa Flora, a nice restaurant in Munich. There, over white wine and an endless spread of food, including my very first true German Bratwurst, I got a chance to talk with some German peers. Though I’m a pretty observant pescatarian in California, I decided it wouldn’t be a complete German experience without trying some authentic bratwurst. I’m no expert, but I have to say the meat seemed lighter and the taste was more flavorful and nuanced than the typical large-scale breakfast sausage in the U.S. After four hours of eating and drinking, the Americans and Germans at my table were all on joking terms.
After lunch, we stayed in the room for a panel on “Diversity in Contemporary Germany.” 20% of German society comes from what is known as a “migration background.” However, this segment comprises only 2.5% of Parliament and only 2 -3% of journalists. The Iranian-German journalist Saba Farzan finds hope in the popular German TV show “Turkish for Beginners,” which features an intermarried German-Turkish family. Just as “The Cosby Show” portrayed an ideal American family as an African American family—perhaps in some way paving the way for Obama’s presidency—she hopes this show will help assimilate the large Turkish minority into mainstream society.
In March of 2009, I was one of 100 or so Israel supporters that attended the Sweden-Israel Davis Cup games in Malmö, Sweden. The Baltiska Hallen Arena, where this sports event was held, holds 4,000 seats; however, no public ticket sales were allowed due to security concerns. This resulted in those attending being either Swedish Tennis Federation bigwigs or, people such as myself, those associated with the Jewish Community or the Israeli Embassy.
This absurd version of home court advantage may well have been a contributing factor to the Swedish team, although seen as favourites going in, ending up losing the games to Andy Ram's side. Outside the arena the tension was palpable. Hundreds of police officers besieged the surrounding area, creating an environment that is very far from what one would expect of a friendly sports event in peaceful Sweden. At the same time in central Malmö, a 12,000 people strong demonstration, where violent far-left activists, as we are well acquainted with from G8 and WTO summits across the globe, joined forces with pro-Palestinians and neo-Nazis. The common denominator was that they were all looking for a fight as well as a common enemy, and a Jewish-Israeli team playing a "white sport" such as tennis did the trick.
Since my teenage years I’ve been fond of Franz Kafka – it all started when I read his novella “The Metamorphosis” for the very first time. I have always been fascinated ever since by his talent of having such an unexpected and unforgettable impact on his readers. Therefore I’ve come to view Kafka not only as one of the great authors of his time, but actually more as the greatest novelist of the entire 20thcentury.
When I was a teenage kid growing up in Germany and becoming a worshipper of Kafka’s literary work, something very similar was emerging on the other side of the world; a young generation was growing up inside of Iran with Kafka as well. But those readers, unlike myself, were experiencing Kafka under extremely different circumstances-- they were reading his work secretly.
The coastal villages south of Mumbai were the first home of the Bene Israel Jewish community which has been in India for 2000 years. Here they built synagogues, ran oil-pressing businesses, and lived in peaceful coexistence with their non-Jewish neighbours.
Unlike their brethren in other parts of the world, the Bene Israel Jews faced almost no religious hatred. Indeed, they hardly understood the concept of anti-Semitism.
This is very much in keeping with Indian culture. Many diverse religious, ethnic and linguistic communities coexist peacefully in an atmosphere of tolerance and acceptance. Indian Jewry is fortunate and proud to have found such a wonderful host country with a glorious tradition of diversity, acceptance and peace.