Recent events in Syria include repeated human right offenses such as systematic torture, grave limitations of personal freedoms and religious prosecution, as well as over 15,000 civilian casualties from massacres in Homs, Hula and al-Qubair, with some attacks explicitly targeting women and children. These offenses are all results of an oppressive and ruthless leader using brute force to silence any opposition striving for human rights and democracy. The Syrian military is carrying out these outrageous actions, and Bashar al Assad has undeniably proven those commentators who thought his UK education and background would usher in a different era of leadership as naïve wishful thinkers.
If you are humanistic (which Judaism is, in my opinion), naturally you'll be startled when someone makes a racist remark. Assigning certain characteristics with ethnicity is not cool. It makes you wonder what if this person wouldn't agree with elements in MY personality.
People that we love are people that love unconditionally, that accept us with our faults. This is why taking the side of the weaker link in society is fashionable in some circles. For a time Jews served that image. Being persecuted can make you attractive. It could be that our time has come now to be the supporters for other discriminated minority groups, as an act of strength.
RUSHES רעשס festival will carry this humanistic flavor into action by bringing diversity of Jewish voices to Israel over the course of our most critical festival: Purim.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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”?