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by Alan Simons
by Alan Simons

Two years ago Tarek Fatah, the Canadian secular, progressive and liberal activist said: “Any nation, any society, any country that is created on the basis of a hatred towards the others, will soon run out of people that it can hate or groups it can decimate and it will devour itself.”

Yesterday evening in Toronto there was not a ripple of hate or intolerance. I had the good fortune of participating in Ve’ahavta’s 16th Annual Community Passover Seder. The event, under Jewish and Aboriginal leadership, was in effect one of the most important social justice events held in Canada for sometime. In excess of 295 people attended the evening which brought together adults and children of all religions without community or family, to share equally in a Seder with Jews of numerous denominations.

“Tonight we concentrate on those who are without community or family, and we ask ourselves, how we can play a role in changing such hardship using our own resources.”  – Avrum Rosensweig

As Avrum Rosensweig, President and CEO of Ve’ahavta succinctly put it: “Our unique and interactive Seder allows people of all faiths to come together in order to recall this historic biblical event which teaches us about bravery, faith, and ultimate freedom. We take this opportunity in the Jewish calendar to unite as a community and to band together to remind ourselves that the comparable atrocities of today are completely unacceptable and will not be tolerated by any of us!”

Ve'ahavta's 16th Annual Community Passover Seder. Toronto April 2015. -photo (c) jewishinfoNews

Ve’ahavta’s 16th Annual Community Passover Seder. Toronto April 2015. -photo (c) jewishinfoNews

Ve’ahavta describes itself as a “Jewish charitable social service organization dedicated to promoting positive change in the lives of people of all faiths who are marginalized by poverty. Ve’ahavta (Hebrew for ‘and you shall love’) is committed to engaging community members in a meaningful and hands-on way to support our collective mission of tikun olam (repairing the world). Ve’ahavta delivers poverty alleviation programs that break down barriers, restore human dignity, foster capacity-building, and empower marginalized individuals to break the cycle of poverty.”

My observations, listening and talking to many of the guests and eighty-ish volunteers present last evening, suggests that at least in Toronto there is a willingness from all societies to outstretch their hands and come together in dialogue, without hate and intolerance. Rosensweig’s Ve’ahavta has a formula that works well.  Let others take note of it!

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SEVENTY YEARS LATER - "Plus ça change, plus c'est la même chose" | "The more things change, the more they stay the same"

SEVENTY YEARS LATER – “Plus ça change, plus c’est la même chose” | “The more things change, the more they stay the same”

Thank God there’s an Israel!

بفضل الله، هناك إسرائيل

ہم اسرائیل کے پاس خدا کا شکر ہے

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Diabolical Barbaric Butchery ! The Taliban joins Boko Haram and ISIS

“At a funeral service for the children who died at great hands of the Taliban, a newly minted banner on the mosque wall has hate all over. It reads”

“The Blood of innocent children will Allah-willing turn
India, America and Israel into dust.”

-Tarek Fatah, Canadian writer, broadcaster and a secular, progressive and liberal activist.

What Others Are Saying

From The Jakarta Post, Indonesia. Thursday, December 18 2014

“No single sane person in the world could understand or tolerate the barbaric acts of the Taliban in Pakistan who butchered at least 141 innocent people, mostly schoolchildren, on Tuesday. The group, which claims to represent true Islam, proudly took responsibility for the massacre at a military-run school in .

“Civilized residents of this planet could not just stand by or merely issue statements to condemn the attack. The Taliban have repeatedly used Islam as their pretext to become ruthless criminals and they are not alone. They insist that only their version and interpretation of Islamic teachings should be followed.

“News agencies quoted a victim as describing the gunmen shouting “Allahu akbar” (God is greatest) before they opened fire. “There are so many children beneath the benches — go and get them,” one of the Taliban ordered his men.

“Indonesia’s government joined the world in denouncing the unimaginable cruelty. However, as the world’s third-largest democracy and largest Muslim-majority nation Indonesia has an obligation far beyond issuing a public statement in convincing the globe that Islam teaches peace and tolerance. Islam is often tarnished by its own followers, many using more than an iron fist to force others, including Muslims, to strictly follow their version of Islam, or suffer the consequences with their own lives.

“We no longer take it for granted that Indonesian Muslims are as moderate and tolerant as many still perceive. There are groups of people here who will never hesitate to use violence to force others to follow them.”

* * *

SEVENTY YEARS LATER - "Plus ça change, plus c'est la même chose" | "The more things change, the more they stay the same"

SEVENTY YEARS LATER – “Plus ça change, plus c’est la même chose” | “The more things change, the more they stay the same”

 Thank God there’s an Israel!

بفضل الله، هناك إسرائيل

 Check out all of our latest jewishinfoNews videos

 الأخباراليهودية.شبكة

  اخبار یهودی

 

An open letter to all Muslims

Why do so many of you have such hatred for others? Why do so many of you, after 1,390 CE years since the Battle of Badr, continue to believe you cannot have honour and pride without a sword in your hand? 

by Alan Simons

O

I say this to you with all the sincerity I can muster. I can’t help thinking of the famous quote by Dr. Martin Luther King Jr: “Hate multiplies hate, violence multiplies violence, and toughness multiplies toughness in a descending spiral of destruction… The chain reaction of evil—hate begetting hate, wars producing more wars—must be broken, or we shall be plunged into the dark abyss of annihilation.”

As a Jew, I continue to shake my head in bewilderment at the reluctance of moderate, hard working and decent Muslims to stand up and be counted against hate, against intolerance, against terrorism, against racism and for good measure while I’m at it, against the vile cesspool of antisemitism.  I ask myself what does it take for you, as Muslims, to vigorously express yourselves openly, as individuals or as a community, against these concerns without losing your dignity or honour? 

Why do many of you find it so much easier to demonstrate against all that is Jewish, yet lack the courage of openly demonstrating against the abhorrent acts of brutality initiated by your fellow Muslims who are slaughtering thousands through sectarian violence, bombings, the kidnapping of women and children and, as we learnt today, ISIS has ordered female genital mutilation for women in Mosul, Syria.

Since this past Monday, an overnight suicide bombing in a Shi’ite district of Baghdad killed 33 people. In Syria, ISIS ordered Christians to convert to Islam, pay a tax or face death. Many of them have fled. Mosul’s Christian population before last month’s militant takeover by ISIS was around 5,000, now only 200 are left. In the Gaza Strip, U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon expressed alarm yesterday that 20 rockets found hidden in a United Nations school in the Gaza Strip had gone missing. In Libya, at least 12 people have been killed and 60 injured in the Benghazi’s Buatni district. And let us not forget, last week 700 Syrians were killed in two days of conflict and two bombings in Nigeria killed at least 42 people in the latest violence blamed on Boko Haram Islamists.

I ask you, is your fear of being shamed, of having to admit these atrocities are committed by other Muslims so powerful that to openly convey your thoughts to non-Muslims might affect whatever power and influence you personally have in your community?

As the Islamic spiritual scholar Maulana Wahiduddin Khan so eloquently put it: “Not all Muslims become involved in acts of violence. Yet all might be held culpable. This is because that section of Muslim–in fact, the majority–who are not personally involved, neither disown those members of their community who are engaged in violence, nor even condemn them. In such a case, according to the Islamic Shariah itself, if the involved Muslims are directly responsible, the uninvolved Muslims are also indirectly responsible.”

Let me remind you of what Tarek Fatah, the Pakistani-born Canadian writer and founder of the Muslim Canadian Congress has said: “Any nation, any society, any country that is created on the basis of a hatred towards the others, will soon run out of people that it can hate or groups it can decimate and it will devour itself.”

For me, I can tell you proudly, we Jews no longer suffer from what is called a victim mentality.  So, learn from our tragedy. Learn that you can still have honour and respect without the sword. Learn, before your own fanatics devour you, your family and your community.

As you approach Eid al-Fitr be gracious and reach out to non-Muslims. The concepts of your hospitality, charity, spirituality and community can be shared by all, irrespective of one’s religion, race and nationality. During the next few days extend your hand out to non-Muslims by inviting them in to your home for iftar.  According to a hadith, Prophet Muhammed said, “Charity is a proof of faith” and “The best charity is that which is given in Ramadan.” Make it so.

And so it is. Kul ‘am wa enta bi-khair! Shalom.