For Americans who are burnt out by the negative and aggressive public dynamic between opposing political factions on Palestine-Israel peace, hope lives! I am thrilled to introduce you to some incredible people with their priorities in order who are coming from the Holy Land and speaking sanely about how to move forward. These people have already demonstrated the ability to reach a diverse political spread of people, and they are only in the earliest stages of their work.
The Iranian nuclear threat seems to be receiving an obvious response a variety of people and societies all over the world. War seems very probable and the Americans appear willing to entertain the idea of a greater conflict. Meanwhile, Europeans may still hope to be a bit removed but nevertheless realize the precariousness of the situation.
However, those who do truly realize the danger of the Iranian threats are the Israelis. They are most certainly the first probable victims of Iran’s aggression. Being pro-Israeli or not, all Jewish communities and each Jewish person ought to be on the Israeli side here. A danger to Israel signifies a danger for the entire Jewish people, and Iran represents an absolute danger.
It is obvious that a child is a human being that should be always offered protection, care and respect. No matter how one behaves, she or he deserves embracing and love. The case of Naama Margolese proves that this perception of childhood might be far from true in some societies.
The girl in question was spat on because she was considered to be dressed immodestly. Arguing what is provocative and what is not seems to be out of place in the context of a child who became a tool in a game of rancor between adults. Apparently, the tensions that have been covered under a thin coat of political correctness and deceptive gestures were released in a most unimaginable way. Naturally, the ultra orthodox tendencies have been present in discussions, they evoked various actions or protests, but the harassment of Naama might have opened a way to privately managed social anathema. From the perspective of a student living in the UK, this type of extremism channeled to an unprotected and evidently innocent being is simply unconceivable. The added religious background of the whole event makes it even more dreadful. What is more, some environments tend to argue that the harassing behavior of those spitting on a girl was an expression of religious emotions. No other logic can be more ludicrous.
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”?
Having grown up in quite a secular Jewish family in Ukraine, I’ve never truly associated myself either with Israel or with religious Jewry. However, I have always cared about what was happening in both Israeli and Jewish religious society, realizing that these two groups are often the most visible and most easily associable faces for Jews around the whole world. My experience has shown me that whatever happens in these two domains immediately becomes attributed to all other people of Jewish origin.
ACCESS Global Voices, continues its debate of the role of religion in politics…
As a Polish sociologist trying to understand the case of Naama (the young religious girl who was spat on and verbally abused by extremist Haredim in the Israeli town of Beit Shemesh) only one thing comes to my mind: that today’s culture and society have been created entirely by men and for the sake of men.
The rules behind today’s culture are no longer logical because they were invented with an assumed willingness on behalf of women. Its entirety must instead be based on heterogeneity, geographical diversity, genuine differences, and continuous changes. Culture as opposed to Law doesn’t need to be completely inclusive or fair-- it doesn’t have to relate to each individual or group in the same way. However, Culture must never be formed in order to restrict or narrow, rather it must serve to motivate and improve.
We must be willing to stand up and take our society back from the ultra-Orthodox.
Seven months ago, my daughter was born in Jerusalem. For both sides of the family she was the first one in many generations to be born in Israel, in Jerusalem no less. My joy at her birth and her upbringing in Jerusalem is tempered however by fear and concern as to what kind of city and country in which she will grow up. As one who chose to live in Israel, my Zionism did not end with my aliyah here, rather it only begins now by playing an active role in shaping the Jewish State, the place where I chose to live my life and raise my children.
Lately in Israel, there’s been a wave of media coverage surrounding the relationship between the Haredi community and the rest of Israeli society. This avalanche stems from a number of recent stories including: a Haredi man spitting on a young religious girl walking on her way to school, Haredi soldiers disobeying orders by walking out of an official ceremony where female soldiers were singing, attempts to create gender-segregated public buses, Haredi men verbally assaulting women on buses, efforts to remove images of women from public advertisements, and the vandalizing of stores because of the books they choose to sell. Efforts to promote, and sometimes even enforce, notions of religious acceptability vis-à-vis “modest” dress and Sabbath observance have occurred --- sometimes sporadically, sometimes more consistently --- for quite some time.
Reflections on South Africa’s Human Rights Day
This week South Africa commemorated Human Rights Day, this year marks 50 years since the inauspicious day on 21st March 1961 that became known as the Sharpeville Massacre. On this day, which has since been declared the International Day for the Elimination of Racial Discrimination by the United Nations, police shot dead 69 unarmed protestors and injuring 180 more who were protesting the carrying of the dompass, an identity document meant only for black South Africans.
This event proved to be a watershed in South Africa’s liberation struggle, it lead to widespread violence and bloodshed around the country, made international headlines around the world and culminated in the banning of black political parties a month later. In many respects it propelled Black South Africans’ struggle for freedom to a new stage in the struggle against Apartheid. The African National Congress (ANC) went undercover, many ANC members went into exile and the party’s military wing Umkhonto We Sizwe (Spear of the Nation) was established the following year. It would take 30 years however until the ultimate goal of establishing a democratic South Africa would be realised.
As Jews we are no strangers to poverty, having experienced it first-hand throughout our history. Even in recent times, the majority of today’s Jews, who now live in the United States or Israel, are the descendents of immigrants who often arrived in their respective countries with barely a cent to their name.
They worked hard to raise themselves and their families up the socio-economic ladder into positions of both influence and affluence. In just a few decades the Jewish people have by and large undergone a profound upheaval in their social status from a poor, nation-less people to a powerful minority group in the modern world. How did they do that? Was it their focus on education, luck or simply a lot of hard work and determination to succeed?