web analytics
September 22, 2014 / 27 Elul, 5774
At a Glance

Posts Tagged ‘genocide’

Leftist Campaign Against Purim Hits the Web

Monday, March 5th, 2012

A leftist campaign making the rounds in Israeli cyberspace is telling Israelis to think twice before celebrating Purim because Megillat Esther promotes genocide by Jews against its enemies.

The internet pamphlet plays on a popular Purim greeting, ‘Sameach u’mevadech’ (happy and humorous), and asks rhetorically if people really know what Purim is about. It proceeds to list verses from Megillat Esther that seemingly implicate the Jewish people in genocide. It ends by asking readers if they too think that genocide is “happy and humorous.”

To dispel any idea that it was a hoax, prominent Israeli blogger Yossi Gurevich posted it on a Facebook page titled ‘החברים של ג’ורג’ with text in Hebrew saying “let’s leave Purim to Bashar Assad and celebrate festivals that are a bit more human.”

Anti-Purim Internet Pamphlet

Beyond taking self-loathing to a height that only radical left-wing Jews can reach, it’s clear that the campaign organizers are neither masters nor students of Torah exegesis.

How come the Left always manages to take the fun out of everything, anyway?

If You Don’t See Where You’re Going, You Might Not See Where You End Up

Thursday, March 1st, 2012

Purim is my favorite holiday, and I love to share the joy. I have spent previous years wandering around my neighborhood in costume. This year, I fully intend to celebrate with full cheer, and I want everyone to know why I plan to spend the day in costume, singing Shoshanat Yaakov at the top of my lungs.

Last night, as I was telling my enthralled neighbor the story of Esther, I realized that there was a tremendous hole in the plot. Haman is the all-powerful viceroy to the king. He has the King’s signet ring and he has the power of life and death over everyone around him. As he walks through the streets, trumpets sound and knees hit the ground in homage. Basically, he is the man in charge with the power of life and death, freedom and captivity, poverty and wealth over every person he sees. He has it all.

And yet, one person doesn’t cower before him and Haman goes berserk. The most powerful man in the country stops his busy schedule and decides to engage in a single-minded campaign of destruction against one man with absolutely no power. He most likely could have Mordechai executed on the spot, but even that wasn’t enough.

For comparison purposes let’s take Aishwarya Rai of India who has been called the most beautiful woman in the world by many different magazines. Can you imagine that she would go crazy with anger and revenge if one person didn’t find her the most beautiful? I imagine that she would confidently walk past him, convinced of her own beauty and self worth.

The viceroy here has no internal self worth and confidence. A single powerless person has defied him and he is utterly consumed by this defiance. The only thing that can make Haman feel better about himself is to commit genocide. That is more than using an elephant to crush an ant; I would argue this is using an atomic weapon to destroy the ant.

And in pursuit of that goal, he’s willing to give ten thousand talents of silvers to the king. For those of us in the modern world, a single talent is 67 pounds. That’s more than three tons of solid silver. Silver is around 33 dollars an ounce. At my calculations, that’s more than 35 million dollars. There’s a lot of people I dislike, but I’d much rather have the cash than trash them. So why did Haman flip out in such a self destructive way?

The answer came to me today as I cried on the shoulder of a friend. For the past two years I have been working in Israel advocacy. Dealing with bureaucratic board members, hostile organizations and just nasty people can wear on a person.

Sometimes, I would fantasize about letting out my anger in a vicious tirade. At desperate times, I would dream of getting some sort of revenge by going to the Dean or prominent organizations to get them into trouble. I knew I was right and I wanted the people who impeded the rightness of my cause to be held accountable and apologize for the damage they had wrecked upon the Jewish community. And yes, I know it would have gotten me nowhere – and that is my point. Revenge turns a logical feeling of distaste for injustice into a futile and ridiculous tilt at windmills.

At best, revenge is a distraction from your real goal, and at worst, it becomes a trap that ensnares and destroys those caught in it. Haman may have been a sociopath, but that wasn’t his fatal flaw. He just didn’t seem to know what his real goal was. Although I don’t know the man well, I imagine his goal was to achieve power.

Haman started out right. He had managed to survive the whims of a drunken and capricious king; he admits he has everything in the world. The sight of one measly person refusing to bow should have been annoying to him, but not something worth more a few moments of irritation. There was definitely no intelligent reason to go on the warpath like he did and we all know how well that ended. Once the most powerful man in the empire, he is today best remembered for a dessert that resembles his ears.

Haman’s fatal flaw of hubris made him unable to see past his own ego. It didn’t matter how much power he had, any slight flaw in his tapestry of life could not be tolerated. He could not see anything but his own dignity and missed the big picture, instead reverting to genocide as the revenge on one man. He was too ego-driven to realize that power is not something that is only external, but must be matched by an internal dignity.

Students Ask, ‘Where Was The NY Times During The Holocaust?’

Wednesday, February 22nd, 2012

Last April, NYU student Emily Harrold embarked on the production of a film exploring why The New York Times under-reported the Holocaust during the 1940s. Now, a little less than a year later, the project has expanded to more than twenty students. Together the students have interviewed historians, journalists, Holocaust survivors, and American citizens who lived during the 1940s. They are currently working on finishing the project in order to submit it to film festivals across the United States.

“While the film is about The New York Times and The Holocaust,” explains director Harrold, “it is also about how American society understood and dealt with genocide in the 1940s. We are shocked today to learn that papers as well respected as The New York Times kept quiet on The Holocaust. But are we as a society reacting any differently to genocide happening today?”

The film, titled “Reporting on The Times,” was inspired by Laurel Leff’s book Buried by The Times: The Holocaust and America’s Most Important Newspaper. The film is currently fundraising on Kickstarter.com. The team has raised close to 50 percent of its $6,000 goal. Please visit http://kck.st/tq3zbv to make a donation. You can also learn more about the project and see the trailer at www.facebook.com/reportingonthetimes.

French Parliament Passes Bill Outlawing Denial of Armenian Genocide; Erdogan Furious

Tuesday, January 24th, 2012

Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan blasted the French Parliament’s approval of a bill Monday that makes it a crime to deny the Armenian genocide, saying that it was the culmination of “racist and discriminatory” French attitudes toward Turkey.

Erdogan also threatened that Turkey would enact additional sanction if French President Sarkozy signs the bill into law.

The bill had already been a source of cooling relations, with Turkey breaking off economic, military, and political ties with France, and recalling its ambassador last month when when the lower house approved the bill.

Holocaust Scholars Criticize Obama

Thursday, January 19th, 2012

Eighty-five prominent Holocaust scholars last week criticized President Obama for failing to respond to Libya’s hosting of a Darfur war criminal.

The new Libyan regime hosted a visit by Sudan’s president, Omar Hassan al-Bashir, who has been indicted by the International Criminal Court for his leading role in the Darfur genocide. The Obama administration did not comment on the visit.

“Especially in view of the role the United States played in bringing about the overthrow of the Gadaffi regime,” the Holocaust and genocide scholars wrote, “the U.S. has a right, and a moral obligation, to demand that the new Libya join us in treating perpetrators of genocide as pariahs.”

The petition was organized by the David S. Wyman Institute for Holocaust Studies, in Washington, D.C.

The scholars’ petition urged President Obama to “speak out publicly against Libya’s embrace of Bashir and to make it clear to the international community that the U.S. regards the hosting of visits by Bashir as unacceptable.” They also called for “a firmer policy by the U.S. toward perpetrators of genocide and those who coddle them.”

The signatories included Prof. David S. Wyman, author of The Abandonment of the Jews; Prof. Yehuda Bauer, of Yad Vashem; and Prof. Deborah Lipstadt, best known for her courtroom battles with Holocaust denier David Irving.

(Jewish Press staff)

Legacies Of Nuremburg, Eichmann Trials Shape Our World

Wednesday, May 4th, 2011

Sixty-five years ago at the International Military Tribunal in Nuremberg, Germany, 22 defendants stood in the dock. They represented a cross-section of Nazi diplomatic, economic, political and military leadership, and became the first people in history to be indicted for crimes against humanity.

A tribunal of judges from the victorious Allied countries – the United States, Great Britain, France and the Soviet Union – did not convict all of the defendants. While 12 were sentenced to death, three to life terms and four to prison terms of up to 20 years, three were acquitted.

Additional trials were held in the following years. Collectively, all of the proceedings are now commonly referred to as the Nuremberg Trials.

Well before the war ended, the Allies had decided to prosecute Germans who were responsible for crimes against civilian populations. They believed the trials would hold an important place in history. They also hoped that establishing a new legal precedent would extinguish the possibility of the world ever facing these crimes again.

Among its legacies, the military tribunal at Nuremberg codified a new law – crimes against humanity – to protect civilians, and it prosecuted Nazi war criminals for atrocities they committed not only against their own citizens but those of other nations.

It rejected the longstanding doctrine of sovereign immunity, which exempted heads of state from prosecution for actions taken while in office, and the doctrine of superior orders, which protected subordinates from being prosecuted for crimes they committed under orders.

The legacy of Nuremberg in preventing future atrocities has been uneven. The United Nations unanimously adopted the Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide on Dec. 9, 1948. However, the United States did not become a party to the UN Convention until 1988, and not until the 1990s were the first international criminal tribunals since Nuremberg established in the wake of the massive failure to prevent genocide in the former Yugoslavia and in Rwanda.

More recently, some encouraging signs that genocide prevention efforts are taking hold have emerged. In 2002, the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court established the first permanent judicial body dedicated to trying those accused of genocide, crimes against humanity and war crimes.

Three years later the World Summit, a gathering of leaders from UN member countries, adopted language maintaining that member nations have a “responsibility to protect” civilians anywhere when their own government cannot or will not protect them from genocide, war crimes, crimes against humanity or ethnic cleansing.

Whether these trends continue will depend on the will of policymakers and the commitment of their constituents to making prevention and punishment a priority.

In addition to its legal legacy, Nuremberg had an enormous impact on our collective understanding of this pivotal era in history. The U.S. chief prosecutor, Robert Jackson, made a crucial decision to base the prosecution on the voluminous documentary evidence produced by the perpetrators of genocide themselves rather than eyewitness testimony, in part because he feared the testimony of survivors and other witnesses to Nazi crimes could be dismissed as unreliable or biased.

Jackson’s decision to rely on documentary evidence presented a fuller picture of Nazi atrocities than anyone had previously imagined, and the trial stands as an eternal testament to the magnitude of the Holocaust. Never before or since have the perpetrators of genocide so thoroughly documented their own evil.

Some 3,000 tons of documents, photographs, film footage and artifacts were presented at the first Nuremberg Trial alone, and the prosecutors’ meticulous work provided the foundation for initial scholarship on the Holocaust and much of what we know about that event today. Jackson’s concept of proving “incredible events with credible evidence” probably ended up having as much of an impact educationally as legally.

Interestingly, 15 years after Nuremberg, a new approach to the evidence would be used but with equally powerful public impact.

One of the primary implementers of the Nazi genocide who escaped trial right after the war was Adolf Eichmann. Captured by the Israelis in Argentina, he was brought to trial in 1961. This time, however, the trial would not take place in occupied Germany but in Israel, home to many Holocaust survivors. This would not be victors’ justice but victims’ justice.

Whatever Happened To Our First Black President?

Wednesday, March 2nd, 2011

            If Toni Morrison, the Nobel-prize winning African-American novelist, could refer to Bill Clinton, a white man, as America’s first black president, then surely we can take a reverse tack: Is it possible that Barack Obama is not the first real black president after all?
 
It’s a contentious statement, so let me explain.
 
            Whiteness and blackness are ultimately immaterial concepts that refer to naught but skin pigmentation but were elevated to earth-shattering proportions by racists and those who wished to suppress blacks for their own advantage. But the principal positive consequence of the barbaric oppression of blacks due to the color of their skin is that in modern America “blackness” has come to represent, more than anything else, a people’s capacity to endure suffering and humiliation yet agitate for their freedom and human rights.
 
            That agitation reached its apogee in the person of Martin Luther King, Jr., who restored America to its founding principles. Prior to Dr. King, America was a great but deeply contradictory nation whose brave soldiers liberated Jews from Hitler while back home cowardly lynchings continued, and whose troops bravely fought the Communist menace in Vietnam while black children were denied the right to drink from water fountains on hot summer days in Selma, Alabama.
 
Dr. King ended all that. His reward was a bullet to the neck. But ever since then his memory and the black marchers who followed him and desegregated America has become synonymous with the willingness of a people to bear immense burdens to promote justice and freedom.
 
It was because of that extraordinary legacy that many of us looked forward to the elevation of the first black man, or woman, as president of the United States and leader of the free world. Surely that person would usher in a new era, utilizing American influence to promote freedom and the rights of man worldwide. And whoever it would be would have a tough act follow after the actions taken by President Bush to promote democracy and human rights in Iraq and other parts of the Middle East.
 
Indeed, America has an almost shameful record when it comes to stopping genocide, as Samantha Power chronicled so adeptly in her 2002 Pulitzer-prize winning book A Problem from Hell. The United States responded very inadequately to the genocide of the Armenians in World War I and the Cambodians in 1975-1978. President Roosevelt famously refused repeated entreaties to bomb the railroad tracks to Auschwitz during the Holocaust.
 
Morrison may have felt Clinton was the first black president but Clinton did not so much as even meet with his senior advisers to discuss Rwanda during the three months of the genocide there in 1994 when 800,000 died through the low-tech slaughter of being mangled by machete. Clinton likewise did little to stop the killings in Bosnia and Srebrenica, waking up only, and finally, to intervene in Kosovo.
 
   Fast forward to President Obama, whose actions with regard to dictators and wholesale human slaughter taking place on his watch – the Libyan massacres in particular – have been utterly baffling. I have already written of my grave disappointment in Obama’s warmly greeting dictators like Hugo Chavez or rolling out the red carpet, literally, for President Hu of China while Obama’s fellow Nobel Peace recipient, Lu Xiaobo, rots in jail and his wife is held hostage though she has never even been accused of a crime. There is the further issue of Obama’s gross disrespect of the Dalai Lama – sending him out of the back entrance of the White House last year past huge piles of garbage in order not to offend the bullies in China.
 
   But Obama’s abrogation of leadership and failure to champion human rights in Libya defies all comprehension and shows just how much the president has strayed from the legacy of Dr. King. First there was Obama’s utter silence for days as Khaddafi opened fire on his own people with jets, helicopter gunships, large caliber weapons and RPG’s. Then, almost a week into the killing, Obama issued his famous denunciation of Khaddafi’s mass murder as “outrageous and unacceptable,” words perhaps more relevant to the threat of a baseball strike than mass human slaughter.
 
   The president further threatened Khaddafi with the possibility of economic sanctions, a subject, one would think, not exactly on the mind of a brutal dictator fighting for his very life. Finally, on February 26, Obama, in a telephone call to German Chancellor Angela Merkel, said Khaddafi had “lost the legitimacy to rule and needs to do what is right for his country by leaving now.”
 
   Come again? Was our president suggesting that a dictator who had slaughtered and tortured his political opponents for four decades, funded international terrorism, and blew up discotheques and airliners somehow had legitimacy in the first place? And what is the meaning of the statement being made in private to the German chancellor? Is Obama too timid to call a press conference and announce in bold, unequivocal terms that Khaddafi is a tyrant who, if he survives, will be tried for crimes against humanity?
 

   And so we continue to wait for America’s first black president – someone who will step into Martin Luther King’s shoes and use the most powerful office on earth to make freedom ring, not just from Stone Mountain, Georgia and Lookout Mountain, Tennessee, but from Tripoli to Riyadh and Damascus to Beirut.

 

 

 

   Rabbi Shmuley Boteach, founder of This World: The Values Network, is the best-selling author of 25 books and has recently published “Renewal: A Guide to the Values-Filled Life.” Follow him on Twitter@RabbiShmuley.

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/indepth/opinions/whatever-happened-to-our-first-black-president/2011/03/02/

Scan this QR code to visit this page online: