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

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

by Alan Simons

There’s a well-known Yiddish expression. Di velt iz sheyn nor di mentshn makhn zi mies. The world is beautiful but people make it ugly.  This is Part II in a series that sees no end in site. Antisemitism, Holocaust denial, Islamophobia, hate towards the Roma, Nigerian children being kidnapped by perverted terrorist sick-os that go by their adopted name of the “Congregation of the People of Tradition for Proselytism and Jihad,”  Geert Wilders, the darling of many American Jews, until he announced his intention of joining the far-right bloc in the upcoming EU parliamentary elections. He’s now somewhat changed his mind! And then there’s Ukraine, South Sudan and the garbage being spewed from the lips of numerous Fatah officials. Hamas, who on TV have pleasure in enticing their children to kill the Jews and finally Canada, of all places, where many Jews wonder who is actually looking after their interests.  Need I say more?

The world is not only in kerfuffle it is ready to self-implode.  If you have any doubts just take a few minutes to read the following items recently published in various media. Their links are attached:

CANADA

A 6 Year old in Hiding in a Church, in Canada.  The Psuma family are Roma/Jewish. They were chased out of their home in Hungary after being set upon by neo-Nazi thugs. They have been threatened with death if they return. Yet Canada, compassionate understanding Canada under the present government want to do just that, deny their refugee claim for safety and return them to the clutches of racist hooligans.

FRANCE

Jewish mother, baby assaulted in Paris.  A woman assaulted a Jewish mother and her baby in Paris while shouting antisemitic slurs.  In Tuesday’s incident, the assailant shook the stroller belonging to a 27-year-old mother while her 6-month-old baby was inside, according to the Drancy-based National Bureau for Vigilance Against Anti-Semitism, or BNVCA. The mother described the attacker as being in her 50s with a European complexion and features, BNVCA said. The mother said the attacker shouted, “Dirty Jewess, enough with your children already, you Jews have too many children, screw you.” Identified by BNVCA by her initials, A.M., the mother said the assailant continued to hurl insults at her in front of onlookers at the Faubourg Monmartre bus stop in the 9th arrondissement, a district in central Paris. BNVCA founder Sammy Ghozlan said the mother has filed a complaint with police and can identify her attacker… He added, “The anti-Semitism which persists despite all the measures taken is causing great distress to many Jewish citizens, who are contemplating their future in our country.”

RUSSIA

“The Simon Wiesenthal Center, a leading Jewish human rights group, on Monday demanded an apology from the directors of state-owned Russia Today Television for airing anti-Semitic programming that contravened Russia’s membership obligations under the 2004 Berlin Declaration on Anti-Semitism of the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe. Known as RT, the outlet has long come under criticism for serving as a Kremlin mouthpiece and for vicious attacks on Israel. “In the very week that the Russian Federation criminalized the denial of the Holocaust and the State of Israel celebrated its 66th Independence Day, your channel apparently decided to trash both Jewish Holocaust victims and Jewish sovereignty…

HUNGARY

Hungary’s far-right party set to come second in EU vote…  Both the European Commission and the European Parliament have taken Budapest to task over questions of rule of law and media freedom. While Fidesz will undoubtedly win the EU elections, far-right party Jobbik is also set to do very well in the 25 May vote. “The surprise would be if they didn’t come in second,” says Csaba Toth of the Republikon Institute. He notes that Jobbik is continuing its push for the political centre, a strategy that already paid off at the polls in April. “Its strategic goal is to become an alternating party to Fidesz,” he adds.

THE NETHERLANDS

Dutch far-right leader Geert Wilders is riding high ahead of this month’s European Parliament The best of Geert Wilderselections, hoping to destroy from within what he calls the ‘monster of Brussels’.  Despite an unprecedented backlash after he called for “fewer Moroccans” in the Netherlands, his Party for Freedom (PVV) looks set to make gains in the May 22 vote, including extra clout and cash by joining a pan-European populist alliance.  The platinum-haired Wilders in November announced “the start of the liberation of Europe” from the European Union after forming a partnership with French far-right party National Front (FN).  Like the FN’s leader Marine Le Pen, Wilders wants to take his country out of the EU and to abandon the euro. “Wilders is hunting for power in Europe. He wants to be part of a broader movement and wants more influence in the European Parliament,” says Adriaan Schout, senior researcher at the Clingendael Institute for International Relations. The latest Ipsos opinion poll on May 1 ranked Wilders’ PVV third in the Netherlands, just below the ruling coalition partner People’s Party for Freedom and Democracy (VVD) and the pro-Europe D66.

CZECH REPUBLIC

Czech Cabinet will not pay for demolition of pig farm in Lety.  Over 1,300 Romanies were interned in Lety during the German Nazi occupation, 327 of whom perished in the camp and over 500 were sent to the extermination camp in Auschwitz where most of them died.  A memorial to the Romany Holocaust was set up at the former burial ground of the Lety concentration camp for Romanies. However, it is situated near a pig farm that is at the site now. Romanies and human rights activists have protested against it for years. Relatives of the Romany Holocaust victims along with the U.N. Human Rights Committee have demanded that the pig farm be abolished.

GREECE

Greece’s top court allows far-right party to contest EU vote.  Greece’s Supreme Court on Sunday allowed the far-right Golden Dawn party to run in European elections this month, despite calls to ban it as its leader waits in jail to be tried for membership of a criminal organization. The court routinely permits parties to take part in elections but a private citizen had asked it to exclude Golden Dawn this time because its leadership is under investigation over a string of attacks against immigrants and opponents…  The party is running between third and fifth in opinion polls, and a strong showing would pose a challenge to the fragile coalition government.

CANADA

Canadians more likely to be antisemitic than Americans, poll finds.  A new global poll reveals Canadians are more likely to be antisemitic than Americans.  The survey by the U.S.-based Anti-Defamation League (ADL) found 14% of Canadians harbour anti-Jewish attitudes, compared with only 9% of Americans…  Although many Canadians want to dismiss anti-Semitism as being a problem of the past, the survey makes it clear it persists. If anything, the modern form of anti-Semitism may be even more dangerous than it was in the past. In Canada, anti-Jewish bullying and abuse take place on campuses, in classrooms and workplaces…

USA

Twitter Is Platform of Choice for Antisemites as Hate Rises on Social Media.  Twitter is the “weapon of choice” for bigots and racists, according to a new report on digital hate and intolerance released by the Simon Wiesenthal Center. The center surveyed hateful content on over 30,000 websites and found that online hatred rose more than 30% over the past year. The report also graded top social media platforms on their commitment to removing hateful posts and on whether the prevalence of these posts on their sites is increasing or decreasing. “If the world is going to effectively deal with the growing threat from lone wolf terrorists, the leading social media companies, including Facebook, Google, YouTube and Twitter must do more,” said Rabbi Abraham Cooper, assistant dean of the Simon Wiesenthal Center. But Cooper reserved special criticism for Twitter, which received a D grade in the report. He said Twitter has shown little inclination to work with his center or to seriously address hateful speech and even terrorist activity. “There are terrorist groups that use Twitter to communicate,” he said. “Twitter hasn’t shown us they have an institutional grasp or commitment of the issue, and that needs to change.”

SOUTH SUDAN

South Sudan violence leaves trail of bodies, starving children and destruction. Bodies stuffed in wells. Houses burned down. Children playing on military hardware. And infants showing the skeletal outlines of severe hunger. These are the scenes from a remote part of South Sudan – Leer – where Doctors Without Borders has just begun feeding severely malnourished children about three months after the aid group’s hospital was destroyed in violence that has been ripping apart the country since December. One child brought to the clinic by a mother hoping for life-saving aid instead died the next day. That and other scenes of desperation were recently filmed by an Associated Press journalist.  UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon told the Security Council on Monday that he visited South Sudan this month in order to “sound the alarm about the violence and the risk of catastrophic famine.” Ban warned that if the fighting continues, half of South Sudan’s 12 million people will be displaced, starving or dead by year’s end.

FRANCE

JIN France attack on a Jewish man May 17 2014

Click on this image

French Jewish leader: ‘It’s not so pleasant living there as Jews.’ France’s flag has three stripes, and its motto promotes three values: liberty, equality and fraternity. Now, its Jewish community – Europe’s largest — faces three threats, according to Roger Cukierman, president of the CRIF umbrella group of French Jewish organizations and a vice president of the World Jewish Congress. In an appearance at New York’s French consulate, Cukierman laid out the trio of challenges: an increasingly radicalized Muslim immigrant population that scapegoats Jews, the growing popularity of the far-right National Front party headed by Marine Le Pen, and widespread anti-Israel sentiment among French leftists. “It’s not so pleasant living there as Jews in this period,” Cukierman said, adding that at a recent anti-government demonstration, “a crowd of 17,000 people was yelling, ‘Jews, France does not belong to you.’” (An audience member disputed his characterization later during a Q&A session, arguing that only about 500 demonstrators joined in the anti-Jewish chants.) Forty percent of violent hate crimes in France target Jews, Cukierman said.

PALESTINIAN TERRITORIES

Israel’s creation is “greatest crime known to humanity,” writes official PA daily op-ed.  To coincide with Israel’s Independence Day, the official Palestinian Authority daily published an op-ed describing Israel’s creation – “the occupation of Palestine” – as “the greatest crime known to humanity.” Other terms of demonization used to refer to Israel’s creation were “a monstrosity was born” and “an despicable mission.” Jewish fighting forces in the War of Independence were referred to as “the Zionist gangs.”… Children in the PA are likewise taught in official education to reject Israel’s right to exist. A PA schoolbook uses some of the same terms that appeared in the op-ed when teaching 12th graders about the establishment of Israel. 

 (Text credit: Canada, Psuma family- Bernie Farber. Photo credit: Greece- universityobserver; South Sudan- sam-bronx photo; France- alliancefr)

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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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