Sunday, April 30, 2006

"Never Again" Includes the Genocide in Darfur

After a very relaxing shabbat at the Muqata -- seuda shlisheet with a bunch of our closest friends from our yishuv (what's better than eating outdoors with the Shomron mountains all around during sunset and the kids playing all over the place) -- came the motzei shabbat cleanup. Motzei Shabbat Hockey starts around 10 PM, but I showed up late, being engrossed in a comment thread on DovBear's blog about the planned demonstration (Sunday/Washington DC) against the Genocide going on in Darfur.

So I showed up to hockey late, played for close to 2 hours and now I'm back, still bothered by Darfur.

All around the United States today there will be rallies to promote awareness (and our disgust) at the ongoing genocide of the people of Darfur. Browsing the internet, I discovered the event tomorrow is local to the US and not on an international level, and to my dismay I couldn't find any link to an Israeli protest demonstration.

Growing up in the United States, I could never for the life of me fathom how little was done during the Holocaust to save six million Jews. It seemed to me so obvious that a person would yell and scream at the atrocities going on -- yet for the most part all that could be heard was a "deafening silence".

"Deafening silence" is also the name of the first chapter of Rabbi Meir Kahana's book, "Never Again" -- where he asks where was the Jewish community, its leadership, the demonstrations and the outrage during the Holocaust.

I'm sure there are those readers who can not bear to see the name Kahana in any context except for that of anti-Arab, and there are those of you who question how a settler (ostensibly part of the oppressors of the Palestinians) can care about the genocide going on in Darfur...

Yet, the message of "Never Again" goes far beyond that of Jews standing up for Jews. Just because the world and even most Jews were silent back then does not excuse us from being silent now.

If we are to show the world that Judaism clearly stands for social justice, we cannot be silent. We can never again be guilty of a deafening silence.

And yes, I'm still proud to be a settler, and don't think there's an inherent contradiction by advocating social justice and being a Jew, living in a settlement in the West Bank.

And if you live in the US, and can get to a demonstration tomorrow, I seriously urge you to make an effort to go.

And if you know of a demonstration being held here in Israel, please let me know as well.

Shavua Tov.
First they came for the Communists,
and I didn’t speak up,
because I wasn’t a Communist.
Then they came for the Jews,
and I didn’t speak up,
because I wasn’t a Jew.
Then they came for the Catholics,
and I didn’t speak up,
because I was a Protestant.
Then they came for me,
and by that time there was no one
left to speak up for me.
by Rev. Martin Niemoller, 1945

Wherever I am, my blog turns towards Eretz Yisrael


Anonymous said...

I am on the fence on whether or not I should go. My daughter's school is going as well as many of the Jewish day and religious schools in the area, but with so many people expected to show up, I am just not comfortable heading into DC with two little ones in tow into a mass Rally. Not that don't encourage others to go.

I wish them luck in getting the message heard and action taken!

Anonymous said...

Jack, take it up with Rebbe Meir.

Jameel @ The Muqata said...

KahaneLoyalist: If you read Rav Kahana's book, he specifically berates the inaction of the Jewish establishment during the holocaust -- inaction included the lack of mass demonstrations.

While mass demonstrations maybe worthless in Israel, they still are an important part of American democracy, and can be an effective means of influencing domestic and foreign policy. If enough people make their voices heard, perhaps the serious sanctions (or even military action) could be implemented. After all, America went after Iraw over its invasion of Kuwait...and that was without any human rights demonstrations (OK, don't beat me up for being slightly cynical)

Social Justice and Judaism do go hand in hand, just as "Aniyei Ircha Kodmim" -- the poor people of your city come first. If there was a direct contradiction between what was going on in Darfur, and helping Jews faced with a similar situation, I don't think it would be a Chilul Hashem to save Jews first and foremost. However, since that is not the case today, I don't see what problem you have with it.

AddeRabbi: Yes, I am seeing that its overwhlemingly American Jewish. I don't understand the point of that -- when it should be sheer numbers that the organizers should be looking for.

Eitan Ha'ahzari said...

Jameel: I recently posted about Israel's stance on the Armenian genocide. One of the few things I find appaling in Israel's approach to the world at large is its lack of innitiative--perhaps, lack of concern--regarding genocide perpetrated against racial/ethnic groups. It really gets me mad and is appaling for the life of me. After all, how in G-d's name, can we sit idle as Islamic nationalists murder and plunder what's left of Darfur?

I just don't get it!

Thanks for informing me on the events in DC, Greg.

Jameel @ The Muqata said...

Mike: Avraham Aveinu was a perfect example of lobbying for social justice.

Obviously our morality comes from Hashem -- and the value of Human Life is well defined as priceless.

I think the "Never Again" slogan can be used across the boards.

Shoshana said...

Very important post. You are completely right, and it's sad to see the lack of care about what's going on in the world, and who is being hurt, especially if it doesn't directly affect you. And I can't talk, because I'm not in Washington today. But after reading your post, I know I should be. Thanks.

ADDeRabbi said...

it's not overwhelmingly Jewish mitzad the organizers. it's just that the Jewish community had responded to the call disproportionately. it's a kiddush HaShem, yet disturbing at the same time.

re: the armenian genocide, the issue there is really about a legacy. it happened concurrently with WWI, when Israel was just a 'hava amina'. it's not about taking action against a current evil.
then again, we get pretty upset about Holocaust denial, don't we?

Jameel @ The Muqata said...

AddeRabbi: Israel ignores the history of the Armenian Genocide for purely political reasons.

In any event - I'm glad the Jewish community is heeding the call in the US.

FrumGirl said...

I must educate myself about this matter better.

Jack Steiner said...

Jack, take it up with Rebbe Meir.

Sorry pal, it doesn't work that way. If you quote someone it is assumed that you agree with their position unless you state otherwise. This isn't my blog so I was trying to be polite, but I don't suffer foolish commentary.

And it is the heart of narishkeit to suggest that our blood is any redder than any other person. I don't need to quote Torah or Gemara to know that.

Jack Steiner said...

P.S. I fully support the protests. What would have happened in '39 if someone had spoken up. What would have happened if more than one voice had joined together to protest the inhumanity that was being perpetuated.

Anonymous said...

I agree, it is important to go I happen to not be within six hours of any demonstrations.

Lady-Light said...

This is an important post, as Shoshana stated earlier in her comment. Technically Jameel, you are right: Jews should stand up against genocide anywhere, wherever possible. The USA has a history of Jews standing up for tolerance of others regardless of race, religion or ethnic group; case in point: The Civil Rights Movement, especially during the late '60s, where the three Jewish activists were murdered.
The reason we have to be a bit careful, is that we have to also stand up for ourselves; that is what Rav Kahane(z"tzl) - whom I had the honor of meeting in 1990 three months before he was murdered - meant in "Never Again". We Jews are the only ones who will ever stand up for ourselves, and we should have then, during the Shoah-but didn't. We have to concentrate on ourselves, before/in addition to helping someone else. Because no one else will (at least, they're trying to muddle around with 'peace treaties' and 'humanitarian aide' for Darfur). Who is doing anything to help Israel? The Gush Katif evacuees? Even the Israel government is all messed up! Again, if the Jews/Israel had listened to Rav Kahane in the '70s - whose predictions all came true - Israel would not be in the predicament it finds itself in today.
I commend you for being a 'Settler'. Once, all Israelis were 'Settlers'! Where in the Shomron are you?
Kol HaKavod - keep up the good blog!

Jack Steiner said...

jack, of course I support that statement since it is from the Gemara and is Torah Shebaal Peh

When Avraham Avinu argued with Hashem saving the innocent in Sdom he didn't do it because a goy's life was worse less than a Yid. Have you no common sense. Where is your sechel. My friend Hashem asks that you think for yourself and not blindly accept mindless precepts.

rockofgalilee said...

I just posted on my blog why not to protest Darfur. Not included in that post are these comments on your comments.

Avraham Avinu didn't protest killing the inhabitants of Sedom and Amora. His protest was: Will you kill the righteous along with the wicked?

Moshe didn't protest the commandment to wipe out Amalek.

Joshua didn't protest the command to destroy the Canaanites and the Jebusites.

In other words: Bad people deserve to be killed.

Jameel @ The Muqata said...

Rock: The OU and alot of Rabbanim in the US decided that this was a worthwhile cause -- and as to who started shooting first, its sort of irrelavent if a mass massacre is taking place as reprisal.

Lastly, if G-d decides judgement on a people, thats one thing. For man to decide that "bad people deserve to be killed" -- then there are normative ways to establish if they are "bad", and what punishment they legally deserve.

The world decided often enough that the Jews were "bad"...and then meted out, "Bad people deserve to be killed."

rockofgalilee said...

Rebellion is punishable by death.

They decided it was a good cause for political and public relations reasons, not religious.

Jameel @ The Muqata said...

Rock: The rabbanim at YU (Rav Blau, Rav Shechter, and others) said it was for "good cause for political and public relations reasons, not religious?"

I doubt that -- they gave shiurimg on the topic last week (though I wasn't there, so I can't comment directly) Maybe someone else who was there, can comment?

rockofgalilee said...

It would be interesting to hear the actual reasons given.

But the rebels keep turning down agreements to end the war. The going assumption is that it is because they are hoping for US/UN intervention.

Jack Steiner said...


You can argue that point until you are blue in the face and you will still be wrong.

Anonymous said...

jack, wrong about what? the quite is certainly true, and from the Torah. I guess I am right about that. Jews are required to believe and follow all the Torah. So I guess I am right after all.

It would also help your argument if you would bring actual proofs rather then repeat KL is wrong.

Jack Steiner said...


You are dangerous. You misquote Torah and then make specious claims. I am embarrassed for you.

I don't need to prove that the sun is warm or that the sky is blue.

Our blood is no redder than any other human and to claim that is shameful, irresponsible and misguided.

You would do well to do tshuva for such a thing. I am serious, but I expect that you'll just ignore this as the rambling of another guy who fell off of the derech.

Good luck to you.

rockofgalilee said...

Another point is that if the US/UN gets involved that would mean killing Sudanese and JanJaweed so that they don't kill the Darfurians who started killing them to begin with.

How is that justice?

(I read cross currents and posted my full comments there)

Anonymous said...

musta hated my darfur post eh ?
Actually you forgot to mention what exactly kahane bashed in never again. YES he bashed the rabbi's silence in the holecaust. THEN he bashes them for marching and geting arrested in alabanma and mississppi.

Ask yourself this!

Where was this outrage august 17th ?!?!

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