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September 3, 2014 / 8 Elul, 5774
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Posts Tagged ‘tolerance’

EJC’s Kantor Unveils Model Bill for Europe on Regulating Ritual Slaughter

Thursday, October 18th, 2012

European Jewish Congress President Moshe Kantor unveiled a model bill designed to set “strict legal terms” on religious freedoms for the continent.

Kantor, who is also co-chairman of the European Council on Tolerance and Reconciliation, or ECTR, presented the model bill on Oct. 15 at the European Parliament.

Designed to delineate the legal boundaries of tolerance in light of “anti-Semitism, racism and attempts to limit freedom of worship in Europe,” the document proposes to enshrine Jewish and Muslim religious slaughter practices, shechitah and halal, as well as ritual circumcision. It also recognized the state’s right to regulate the practices.

Citing “overriding” public safety reasons, the bill proposes to ban burkas and other face-covering headgear. Kantor said he hoped the parliaments of European Union member states adopt the principles laid down in the model bill in legislation, as “only by defining the boundaries of real tolerance can we ensure it.”

The model bill was co-authored by Aleksander Kwasniewski, a former Polish president and co-chair of ECTR, a Brussels-based NGO comprised of Nobel Peace Prize laureates, several former heads of states and others recognized for urging tolerance.

Under the model bill, “migrants who refuse to learn the local language may face deportation due to their unwillingness to integrate,” said Yoram Dinstein, one of the documents’ co-authors and an Israeli expert in international law.

“Many support tolerance as an abstract idea but find it hard to specify how it should be applied,” Dinstein told JTA. “This document tries to translate aspirations into practice.”

Using Donkeys to Kill Sacred Cows?

Friday, August 3rd, 2012

Some 5,000 people marched in Jerusalem’s “Gay Pride” parade on Thursday, upsetting many residents and contributing very little to the spirit of tolerance. While in Tel-Aviv the parade enjoys massive local support, the insistence on conducting it in the holiest city in the world regularly upsets even liberal minded religious Jews.

Some Orthodox Jewish men gathered in the Meah Shearim neighborhood to protest the parade with a counter-parade featuring a small herd of donkeys adorned with sheets with the slogan: Proud Donkey. (We could have used the other, legitimate English word for Equus africanus asinus, but there must be several considerations of good taste and proper style why we shouldn’t in this context.)

Mahmoud Abbas’ Adviser Visits Auschwitz

Sunday, July 29th, 2012

An adviser to Palestinian Authority president Mahmoud Abbas visited Auschwitz on Friday.

Ziad al-Bandak, a Christian who advises Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas on Christian affairs, visited prisoner blocs, gas chambers and a crematorium in the Auschwitz-Birkenau complex in Poland, The Associated Press reported.

He visited at the invitation of a private Polish foundation that promotes tolerance.

In 2007, the Palestinian and Israeli ambassadors to Poland made a joint visit to the memorial, according to the Huffington Post.

Al-Bandak, who came at the invitation of a private Polish foundation promoting tolerance, laid flowers at the Death Wall in Auschwitz, where Polish resistance fighters were summarily executed and placed a light at the monument to the camp’s victims.

Let’s Connect…Diversely

Thursday, July 19th, 2012

Living in 2012 means being ‘connected.’ We are ‘connected’ to our cell-phones, our emails, our Facebook ‘Friends’ , and various email lists of interest.

In a world of so many ‘connections’, it’s hard to believe that connecting to our own family- our fellow Jews, would be such an elevated challenge. Indeed, on one such email list, the following story was posted on a few days ago:

” ….my grandchildren, who look quite obviously Haredi, came to visit me in my town, which is overwhelmingly of a National Religious character. My 13 year-old son took them to the park and immediately, the resident children at play, began to shout epithets at my grandchildren, ‘Stinky dirty Haredim,’ they cried. ‘Go play in your own parks.’…grandchildren who immediately left the park and returned to my home to spend the rest of their visit indoors and safe from the hatred extended toward them during what should have been a pleasant visit to Grandma.”

While kids will be kids (and yes, kids can be cruel even if their parents are far from it), and while the same has happened in (so-called) Haredi communities to those not complying with their local fashion of dress, and while these may just be isolated incidents in a park that usually portrays unity and friendliness, I am still profoundly appalled and disturbed to read of such an event.

“Why bad things happen to good people” is the cardinal question to which even Moshe Rabbeinu didn’t get a clear answer (according to one opinion in Tractate Berachot 7a). Thus, I am not about to say that the above incident is a ‘heavenly sign’ of sorts. However, when bad things occur, all will agree (ibid, 5a) that it’s a good time for a wake-up call – to ask if our actions, deeds, educational system, and general behavior is where is should be.

While I feel remain deeply privileged to be part of such a special community, “perfection” is a word that only exists in the dictionary. As we head deeper into these Three Weeks of mourning, a time still upon us due to the “Sinat Chinam” – senseless hatred – that dominated the eve of the 2nd Temple destruction (Tractate Yoma 9b), allow me to bring up three issues that I humbly believe should be reiterated, and refurbished in our actions, when such an event can transpire during such a sensitive time of the year:

Tolerance to some - Jews have usually been tolerant to groups that stand far from their own vantage point and lifestyle. Thus, I can naturally see the very same kids in the park acting cordially to secular Jews, and even to non-Jews as well. Ironically, the “challenge” of tolerance begins when we meet a group of people who share 85% of our own lifestyle; they daven thrice daily, they keep kosher homes, they devote time to learning Torah, they adhere to a standard of modesty and of course, they are Shomer Shabbat. It’s here that, for some reason, we don’t have the same “tolerance” that we bestow upon those that seem far our own lifestyle! Is it a sense of danger, lack of self-confidence or something else, that naturally allows us to be “tolerant” towards groups far from where we stand, and yet so judgmental and intolerant towards ones that are so similar? If we are to be tolerant, then it should be directed to all sides of the spectrum, especially those that are within the realm of Shemirat Torah Umitzvot. Yes, the 15% of dressing differently, our relationship towards the State of Israel, secular endeavors, joining the army and more, will still be “dividers” between our respective communities, and strong debates will yet go on. But will our level of tolerance towards groups who have passed the 15% mark be extended to those closer to it?  If we believe in Tolerance, it can and should run the entire gamut.

Diversity is not a dirty word - Beyond the need for tolerance towards those closer to us, I believe a deeper challenge lies before our communities, one that is not being spoken about enough in the “heat of the debate” in Israel of late; diversity is not a “b’diavad” - it’s not an Ex Post Facto of “three Jews, five opinions,” or the hardships of our long exile! Rather, it’s my view that, after accepting and fulfilling the “Yoke of Heaven,” - the dictates of Jewish Law -that God never intended for all of us to be the same:

How to Handle the Current Market Volatility

Monday, July 9th, 2012

When you opened your morning newspaper recently (or these days clicked on the headlines), what did you see? Let’s take a look at some of the things that you might have noticed:

  • According to a report in The Wall Street Journal on June 21st 2012, the United States … unemployment rate went up by a tick to 8.2% – the first such increase in almost a year.
  • Greece threatens to default… again!
  • Facebook IPO stalls

None of this news exactly inspires confidence in world markets. If you are the kind of person that gets seriously worried by news events, it may be difficult to smile. However, before you call your money manager to sell your portfolio, remember that today’s news becomes tomorrow’s history, and that no one can predict tomorrow’s news. For all you know, next week’s headlines may be a lot more optimistic.

For this reason, instead of basing investment decisions on today’s headlines, it might be wise to think about the fundamental reasons why you invest. How do you decide what stocks and funds to buy? On what do you base your investment decisions? Are they based on how many Americans are going to be working this year, or on where the world will be in five years?

Ask yourself two things: 1. What is your tolerance for risk? Can you hang on through the ups and downs? If no, don’t get involved in the market in the first place. 2. Do you need risk? Depending on the amount of money you have and your expenses, you may not need to take on so much risk.

If you have both tolerance for risk and your financial plan calls for risk, learn about stocks in the online stock course at www.LearnAboutInvestments.com. If you lack either or both of these traits, that’s fine. It just means that the stock market might not be the right place for you. It’s not for everyone.

Western Critics of Democracy – “Accomplices to Injustice”

Monday, June 11th, 2012

Support for people who criticize their own Western democratic societies is now all too apparent among many Western intellectuals, academics, members of the media, international organizations, and religious groups which, while refusing to challenge cases of injustice, particularly in Muslim countries, instead criticize and condemn the state of Israel at every turn, despite the continuing physical and rhetorical aggression against it.

Intellectual support for, or acquiescence in, tyrannical regimes and unjust rulers is familiar in history. It runs from Plato supporting the tyrant of Syracuse; Seneca praising Nero; Aristotle advising Alexander the Great, and it extends to modern times with individuals such as Martin Heidegger approving, for a time, Hitler, and Maurice Merleau-Ponty, who, in 1947, justified the fraudulent Moscow Trials which condemned the Russian critics of Stalin.

The Dean of Canterbury in Britain for over 30 years, Hewlett Johnson, embodied a deluded, fanatical mind at work: safe in his ecclesiastical position, and suffering no penalties for his utterances and actions, Johnson was a life-long admirer of both Communism in theory, and the Soviet Union in action. He defended the Nazi-Soviet Pact of September 1939 — the prelude to Hitler’s start of World War II. Johnson’s undying admiration for Communism led him to defend both the arrest in 1949 on false charges, of Cardinal Mindzenty by the Hungarian secret police, and the Soviet invasion of Hungary — for which he was awarded the Lenin Peace Prize in 1950, and the Stalin International Peace Prize in 1951.

As George Orwell – himself familiar with such “fellow travelers” of the Soviet Communist regime who, in their irresponsible fashion, supported or excused that regime despite its tyranny and brutality, and at no cost to themselves – wrote, “So much of left-wing thought is a kind of playing with fire by people who don’t even know that fire is hot.”

These critics, consciously or not, are now allying with groups and states whose open, ultimate, objective is the destruction of the state of Israel. In fairness, people with this mindset have, in recent years, also supported worthy causes, such as sanctions against the apartheid state of South Africa and calls for its abolition. Such support, however, could hardly be considered courageous: no one had to pay any price for it; on the contrary, there were benefits, both ideological and personal, such as enlarged self-esteem or glory in success.

What is important is that the compassion shown by these individuals has not been present in the face of gratuitous attacks on democratic values, or in the face of aggression, physical and rhetorical, against the state of Israel. Nor have Western Europeans, at least, been willing to face the real problems currently exponentiating there, such as the mass immigration of people from other cultures, who have failed to be successfully integrated into Western societies, as well as the rise of Islamism. The critics of their own democratic societies rarely discuss the real difficulties, both demographically and politically, of the multicultural societies of Britain and France, or what the significance might be of over half the Muslims in Britain believing that it was actually the CIA or the Israeli Mossad which were responsible for the 9/11 attacks in New York City.

What can explain this failure by self-proclaimed high-minded people to respond not only to the physical violence against a tiny democratic ally, but also to the attacks on free speech, or the attempts to prevent criticism of some activity supposedly based on religious principles, such as Christians continually being burned alive in their churches in Nigeria by the fundamentalist goup, Boko Haram [literally: "Western Education Is Forbidden"], or the the possible judicial murder by Iran of Pastor Yousef Nadarkhani for refusing to recant his conversion to Christianity, or Iran’s illegal, ongoing threats of genocide against a fellow member of the United Nations?

Part of the explanation, at least regarding Europeans, may be due to what Walter Laqueur, in After the Fall, called a “crisis of lack of will, inertia, tiredness, self-doubt, a lack of self-confidence.” Other people, who are perhaps seeking fame, or acceptance as politically correct, or even material rewards, or who are simply ignorant of political reality, pay no price for their appeasement of the actions and language of countries and groups that are critical of, and actively threaten, democratic values.

UC President Condemns On-Campus Anti-Israel Attacks

Monday, March 12th, 2012

UC President Mark G. Yudof released an open letter calling on UC students, faculty and staff members to “foster a climate of tolerance, civility and open-mindedness,” reports Angela Swartz of the California Aggie.

Yudof specifically addressed recent anti-Israel incidents on UC campuses. He denounced students who heckled speakers at a UC Davis Feb. 27 event, “Israeli Soldiers Speak Out.” He also condemned vandals on the UC Riverside campus who scrawled the word “terrorists” on an Israeli flag which the local Hillel group was displaying.

“With our Chancellors, I remain committed to the principle of balancing protection of free speech and promoting strategies to foster an environment where all students, faculty, staff members and guests can feel safe and respected — no matter their individual characteristics or viewpoints,” Yudof wrote.

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/news/breaking-news/uc-president-condemns-on-campus-anti-israel-attacks/2012/03/12/

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