Fighting the good fight. Has it left the Jewish Community?

“Diaspora Jews. I have a sense we just don’t care anymore!”

by Alan Simons

Why is it, I wonder, Diaspora Jews are willing to show as a group how philanthropic and ardent they are towards raising funds and giving their time and support towards non-Jewish distresses, such as the Rwandan Tutsi, the people of South Sudan, the ethnic rights of minorities in Burma, Canada’s First Nations, and currently Syrian refugees? Yet, as individuals, why do we continue to be uncomfortable to willingly expose ourselves, to open our arms favourably, towards Christian, Muslim and other individuals? Why do many in the Diaspora treat non-Jews with utmost suspicion?

Yes, our long standard tradition of tikkun olam (repairing the world), tzedek (righteousness) and gemilut chassadim (acts of lovingkindness) are renown and respected by non-Jews. But more and more these days we repetitively remain on the sidelines in showing support to those who fight the good fight.

JIN RCMP dThis past Sunday I had the honour of being invited to the inaugural 2017 Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP)/IDI GTA Intercultural Ramadan Friendship Dinner. Organised by the Intercultural Dialogue Institute GTA., the event was held at the Canadian Forces College in Toronto.

To put the importance of this Canadian event into perspective, the RCMPs media advisory reported:

“This occasion demonstrated a gesture of mutual respect and partnership between community and law enforcement.

In attendance were the Chiefs of Police and dignitaries from Government offices. This occasion also included Canada’s 150 year celebration.

The IDI has been working closely with the RCMP and policing partners in the Greater Toronto Area to promote social cohesion, personal interaction, respect and mutual understanding among people through dialogue and partnership. The RCMP Integrated National Security Enforcement Team – Public Engagement Unit has been very active in developing trusting relationships in the community to improve engagement and implement community programs.

‘What an incredible opportunity for us to interact with so many from the diverse communities we support,’ said Superintendent Lise Crouch, Assistant Criminal Operations Officer for National Security. ‘It is events such as this one that continues to remove barriers for our police officers. The police are members of so many communities and contribute both on and off duty. This friendship dinner highlights the strength in collaboration and respect.’ ”

JIN RCMP cOut of the countless hundreds attending from many faiths and cultures, I would hazard a guess there were no more than four Jews present, and certainly, no rabbi found the time to join the clergy from other faiths.

To my mind, I regard in the eyes of the Diaspora, this to be one further example of how the Jewish community has become more entrenched in its attitude of “us” and “them” and less willing as individuals to show where they stand on issues relating to interfaith/cultural (call it what you will) dialogue at the grass roots level.

What a missed opportunity to support those who are attempting to fight the good fight. As Elie Wiesel once said, “We must take sides. Neutrality helps the oppressor, never the victim. Silence encourages the tormentor, never the tormented.”

Diaspora Jews, take heed! Mutual respect and partnership are an integral part of our very being. I have a sense we just don’t care anymore!

(Photo credit: RCMP)

Alan Simons can be reached at alan@alansimons.info

COMMENTS

“I could not agree more, Alan Simons. Well said. Same issues here in Winnipeg. Proud of our Muslim Jewish Interfaith dialogue group, but we are not representative of the attitude of the “institutional Jewish community.” It’s more than just caring, Alan, it is massive ignorance about each other. We might be willing to donate a little money to make ourselves feel better but most Jews know nothing about Islam or Christianity and frankly harbour some horribly incorrect notions, yet purport to “know the truth.” However, other cities are doing better – Calgary for instance because of the example of true leadership by strong clergy in the Jewish, Muslim and Christian communities. The recent recognition by King Abdullah of Jordan reflects their exemplary achievement.”

-Belle Jarniewski, Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada

The Thirst for Revenge. The Media and our Politicians.

SPECIAL REPORT

“Our media have very little moral fiber left.”

There’s a well known quotation by the American writer Eric Hoffer. “Passionate hatred can give meaning and purpose to an empty life.”

by Alan Simons

Among the lives of people, individuals and cultures there are some who maintain that the best thing for man to strive for in this world is to take revenge on his enemies. The satisfaction of thirst for revenge cannot be clearer than it is today. And since November 2016, be it from the political left or the right, America must accept ownership of being in the forefront of adding a venomous fire to religious hatred and intolerance.

The great ninth century Jewish philosopher Saadia Gaon commented that the thirst for revenge affords the pleasure of seeing discomfiture of its enemy, assuages the vehemence of its wrath and puts an end to excessive brooding. Saadia said that the man who is consumed by the desire for revenge gets into a frame of mind of refusing to accept intercession or entertaining any feeling of compassion or pity or listening to any plea of clemency.

Over one thousand years later Saadia’s comments still reflect the attitude that we have learnt nothing. As we observe the hatred between America’s political elites, Sunni and Shia, between Muslim and Jewish sense of victimhood, between Kenyan Luo, Kalenjin and Kikuya, Turkey and its PKK militants, Africa’s Greater Sahel and Lake Chad Basin and the Muslim Rohingya minority in Myanmar, we find very little is based upon the two way acceptance that my world is also your world.

Many gloat over peoples misfortune, falsify historical evidence, instill a hatred in each other’s cultures and religions that no civilized government has a hope in hell or will in stopping. It is a hatred that has its own direction, its own time and space, egged on by the perverse nature of fanatics such as Daesh and the Jew-hating Hizb ut-Tahrir, as well as a score from the evangelical movements, utilizing the services of the ten second clip, satellite dishes, mobile phones, photos of children flourishing guns and Internet web sites.  It is a hatred spurned on by educated societies to the masses of the uneducated and their educated children.

Today, as we fantasize for the return of the Walter Cronkite’s of our world, we attempt to compare the difference between America’s fake news and the flag-waving, drum-rolling entertainment news programmes thrust upon us by the TV networks. For lighting the match of hate and intolerance is by no means a right of privilege of our politicians, who are in direct competition with much of our media.

It’s been said that because our media have very little moral fiber left, they have enhanced the egregious display of open prejudice pervading our society today. The days where media were supposed to spread enlightenment has vanished. We have crossed the red line. It’s an utter travesty. I’ve said enough!

Alan Simons is the publisher and owner of jewishinfoNews

 

Between friends: Folks, black U.S. presidential storms have arrived in Canada.

Opinion

This article contains content that was originally published in the October 16, 2016 edition of jewishinfoNews.

“A president who politically acts like a leader of a tin-pot country.”

by Alan Simons

Was it not Euripides who said “Friends show their love in times of trouble, not in happiness?” Unfortunately, today nothing is more certain than an acute awareness in Canada of a profusion of black storm clouds from the U.S. looming over us. In times of storms one normally takes shelter with family and friends alike. We are one, so to speak. This time it is different.

Canadians in general have an admiration towards our friends living to the south of us. After all, many Canadians have close family ties in the U.S. going back generations. 

Yet, with President Trump’s recent statements condemning various trade agreements with Canada, we are seeing a shift away from admiration to a “weltschmerz” – a mood of sentimental sadness towards a president who politically acts like a leader of a tin-pot country, rather than a statesman of a country that deserves better.

Trumptwit, as he is now referred to in some quarters, is riding high on top of a vicious heap of dirty rags that unfortunately puts America and its people to shame. Trumptwit the American, has lit the destructive match of revulsion unseen in modern day U.S. history. He falsifies credible and substantiated information with such downright bullheadedness and utter ignorance. Simply put, he makes President Warren Harding look like a genius!

Napoleon Bonaparte said: “In politics stupidity is not a handicap.” Welcome to these United States of America.

strangeloveIn fact, as we have regularly seen during the past months, anyone who Trumptwit believes doesn’t agree to follow his train of thought had better watch out. The similarity to Dr Strangelove is unnerving. Trumptwit. He embellishes all that is distasteful in an individual. He is the archetype of a destructive lost soul whose aim in life is to put a culture of fear into people and nations. If it wasn’t all so pathetically sad his character could be taken right out of a Thomas Pynchon novel!

The bottom line is this: We are watching a president whose political thirst for power is so repulsive by many in nature, it goes far beyond the pale. And, as it’s been said: “His actions are outside the bounds of morality, good behaviour or judgment.”

What is so painful from a Canadian perspective, is to observe a president being so violently negative towards Canada. Trumptwit continues to regard the U.S. as a barren doom and gloom economic wasteland, taken right out of Steinbeck’s The Grapes of Wrath and in his mind much of this is seemingly due to Canada.

To quote Trumptwit: “I will build a great wall – and nobody builds walls better than me, believe me …” He’s right on this one. No other modern day president has done more to build a wall around himself that has fractured American society than Trumptwit.

In Canada, America’s largest trading partner, there are now serious concerns of what lie ahead for the country. As reported last year in the Toronto Sun, “Canada’s economy would take a direct hit if Donald Trump follows through on his anti-trade rants, trade experts say.

“If he actually does what he says he’s going to do I think there would be a very significant impact on Canada,” University of Ottawa Law Professor Debra Steger said. Today’s suggestion is he would end significant agreements including the Canada-U.S.-Mexico North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) which took effect in 1994. “NAFTA was the worst trade deal in history,” Trumptwit proudly states. Poo on Trump!

The Government of Canada has for some time correctly seen the need to respond to Trumptwit’s shenanigans by saying:  

Nearly nine million U.S. jobs depend on trade and investment with Canada

  • History has shown that trade is the best way to create jobs, growth and long-term prosperity.
  • Since the Canada-U.S. Free Trade Agreement came into force in 1989, Canada’s two-way trade in goods and services with the United States has more than tripled. Thanks to this agreement and the North American Free Trade Agreement, the trading relationship between our two countries is so strong that we exchanged approximately $2.4 billion in goods and services every day in 2015.

America’s largest customer

  • Canada is the U.S.’s largest customer, purchasing US$338 billion in goods and services in 2015.
  • Canada buys more from the United States than does any other nation – including all 28 countries of the European Union.
  • Canada and the United States are the world’s largest trading partners: more than US$670 billion in goods and services were traded in 2015.
  • The United States is the most important destination for Canadian direct investment abroad, which totaled $448 billion (stock) in the U.S. in 2015.

This week a former U.S. ambassador to Canada came out with a harsh anti-Trumptwit statement with regard to the President’s ridiculous tirade against Canada. 

”It’s goofy stuff, unbecoming of our relationship and frankly unbecoming of the leader of our country,” remarked James Blanchard.

Currently, no one has openly compared Trumptwit with some of the worst Roman Emperors. But I venture to say it might not be too long before somebody freely offers Trumptwit the title, “Aut Caesar aut nihil.” 

 Alan Simons is the publisher and owner of jewishinfoNews

(Featured image credit: lightstalking; Strangelove, sillyfunda)