Wednesday, November 22, 2006

Brother's Keeper

So, at the moment I'm suffering from an intense and angry attack on my throat, otherwise known as strep. this particular strain of mine is so fiercely painful that I cannot sleep unless drugged on some 1600 mg of Ibeprofen or something similar. so as I wait for the drugs to kick in so I can finally fall asleep, I thought, what better way to kill time than to blog?
There was a rally in jerusalem for Darfur this wasn't as big as they'd hoped for, and got little to no press at all, which was kind of the point. anyway, people have been talking about it a lot these last few days, so it's been on my mind.
I was in Chevron this past shabbat, (Chaya Sorah) which was amazing, and while we were there (we were with a Betar group) we heard various talks about Chevron and the importance of conquering the land. and this one guy who was speaking made a couple of points that bothered me. He was talking about how when community leaders tried to go and onvince FDR to let the St. Louis in, and how FDR told them "not to make this a Jewish war." and from then on, he claims, silence from American Jewry. But you look twenty years ahead, and who's marching and getting killed alongside the blacks in the battles of the civil rights movement? look around any American Jewish high school today, and what are they all doing? fundraising and public awareness about Darfur.
I think his point was something along the lines of, Jews stick up for the underdog only when it doesn't directly affect our comfortable living situations; let's not turn America into the next Germany, so we need to keep a low profile.
but he neglected several important points. firstly, American Jewry didn't exactly sit back and do nothing. It's true they were prevented by the American government from doing as much as they'd have liked to. that wasn't for lack of trying, nor was it our fault. when the President tells you he's not going to do anything for you - or when he simply refuses to meet with you entirely - there isn't a whole lot you can do from there, you know? "The buck stops here," remember?
second point; both the civil rights movement and Darfur came post- Holacaust. bc G-d forbid we should actually learn somehting from being persecuted all our lives, such as, I don't know, it shouldn't be done. or allowed to be done. Never again didn't just apply to us as victims; it also applied to us as bystanders. we vowed not to be those people who simply didn't get involved bc it wasn't us. that was something of the point.
thirdly, he ignored a few other things; for example, how many Jews protested when the Turks were genociding the Armenians? I was too young to remmeber but I never heard about anyone protesting violently on their behalf. so I guess maybe we do pick and choose our battles a bit.
and then, what about the Jews of Soviet Russia? was this man aware of how many Jews risked their lives by smuggling themselves into that country for the sake of rescuing and teaching the Russian Jews? or smuggling Russina Jews out from behind the Iron curtain? so maybe occasionally, we do stand up for ourselves as a people, even when it is a little uncomfortable.
none of these things were really the point of his talk which is why I let the issue go for the time being. but this is my point about Darfur. we have a responsibility, as a a light unto the nations, as victims of genocide, as people who are supposed to be spreading a message of love for our fellow man which is, after all, at least according to Hillel and Rabbi Akiva, the heart and soul and crux of the Torah.


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