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

What in God’s name is happening in the world?

Has the world gone utterly crazy? 

by Alan Simons

Nigeria’s Islamist terrorist group, Boko Haram, admits kidnapping 276 young Nigerian schoolgirls for the purpose of selling them as slaves. Today, a further group of girls have been kidnapped.

The Palestinian terrorist group Hamas, on Hamas’ TV’s children programme tell children to kill all Jews.

The Palestinian Authority’s (Fatah) TV station gives airtime to a young elementary schoolgirl who recites a poem expressing the view, “To war that will smash the oppression and destroy the Zionist’s soul.”

The Taliban killed seven women and seven children all members of the same extended family, while they visited the tomb of a relative in Afghanistan.

In France, an Islamist gunman shoots dead three children and a rabbi at a Jewish school in Toulouse.

An air strike by Syrian fighter jets targets a school in Aleppo, killing 25 children.

What in God’s name is happening in the world?

A friend, a Holocaust survivor, once said to me that he wanted his published memoir to be a testimony to uncover the worst in human behaviour, so there is an awareness and hopefully inoculation against the repetition of these most evil and shameful acts, irrespective of one’s religion, race and colour, ethnic or national origin. At 85+ years of age he continues to visit schools and institutions to tell his personal story. “For me,” he says, “as a ten-year-old Jewish boy living in my native land, and six years later having survived living in five concentration death camps, my life has given me the ability to know all too well how a normal society can be transformed into a culture where mass murder is tolerated.” My friend believes “human behaviour is such that we can rise to great heights, but also sink to great depths of evil.”

He tells his passionate story to the youth of today. It is a story that asks us to be vigilant and be each others keeper. Is anyone listening?

In many countries children are under siege.  In Syria, it is estimated 7,000 children have been killed, one in three children have been hit, kicked or shot at during the past three years. Over 5 million children are in need of assistance. 

Last month in South Sudan, it was reported that gunmen targeted both children and the elderly and left “piles and piles” of bodies — many of those in a mosque. In Rwanda, just twenty years ago, Tutsi children were raped, tortured, and slaughtered. Between 200,000 to 500,000 women were raped. Local NGOs calculate the widespread campaign of rape and torture led to the births of an estimated 20,000 children.

In Canada, yes in Canada, “thousands of Canada’s aboriginal children died in residential schools that failed to keep them safe from fires, protected from abusers, and healthy from deadly disease, a commission into the saga has found. So far, the Truth and Reconciliation Commission has determined that more than 4,000 of the school children died.” 

Have we not learned anything from genocide and Holocaust atrocities? We live in a world where the lust for killing continues ad infinitum. We have sunk to great depths of evil. As individuals, is there no appetite left in us to overcome our differences, regardless of our religion to stand up to the perpetrators of evil? I wait to hear from you.

 (Photo credit: informationng.com)

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