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Monday, May 23, 2005

If not us, who?

For just one blog (or 2), I'd like to go off the Israel beat and discuss a different topic that I think all of us, as Jews and as human beings, should take an interest in. That being the genocide that is taking place in Darfur, Sudan. Check out the statistics As I've mentioned in a previous post, I like to keep up on what's going on in the YU community. An op-ed written by a Stern girl, Rebecca Stone, really touched me and woke me up to the fact that whether we like to admit it or not, there's more going on than what's happening in our own back-yard. With Yom Hashoah come and gone for the 60th time and the words, "Never Again" and "Never Forget" etched into our minds once again, it's time we think about what those words are really supposed to mean. Do they only apply to Jews? Or, do they apply to every population? Meaning, are we only supposed to stop and ensure that the genocide of Jews never happens again, or BECAUSE it happened to us, do we have a duty to ensure that it not only happens to us but that it also never happens to any other people? The world turned a blind eye to the systematic extermination of the Jewish people, and if we don't do something about it, it will happen again to the African people of Darfur. I believe that we, as Jews, have a responsibility to help save these people that are being systematically tortured, raped, murdered, and displaced by the Arab Janjaweed controllers; the very people that are trying to eliminate us. The Talmud tell us that, "he who can save the entire world, and does not, is responsible for the entire world." The talmud also talks about the importance of doing chessed for Jews and Non-Jews alike. I'd also like to borrow some of what Rebecca wrote, and I hope it inspires some of you to get involved:
"As an Orthodox Jew who has spent much time fighting for the welfare of non- Jewish people, I am constantly asked why I am spending so much of my time and energy on non-Jews and non- Israel causes... on a personal note, some of the greatest influences on my life are the righteous gentiles who risked their lives to save Jewish families in the holocaust. Thousands of gentiles helped Jews simply because their consciences told them to. My "self- sacriifice" is nothing compared to theirs. And yet, I am sure they were asked by their friends and families as well why they were risking thier lives to help a people who they had no responsibility to. Why weren't they giving their basements to impoverished Christians or to non Jewish orphans? Why risk their lives for non-family?Why not help their immediate community instead? My extensive holocaust education has left me with the basic outlook that the world betrayed the Jews, and it is because of all of the "innocent bystanders" that 6 million of my brethren were killed. How then, can I live with myself, if I too turn my back on a people who are being wiped out in genocide simply for being different than their oppressors? How can we as a Jewish community say the words "Never Again" if we allow others to suffer the atrocities that we once did? And how can we blame the world for not coming to our aid, when we show the same indifference towards anyone other than Jews. Lman Achai is an extremely important cause. And if we do not take care of our hungry brothers, no one will. But hunger in Israel pales in comparison to 15,000 victims dying a month from genocide. And if we do not fight for them, no one will. Let me remind Yeshiva University students that the role of the Jewish people is to be an Or Lgoyim, a light unto the nations. If we only care about ourselves, then we can not expect any other nation to act differently. If we can only see the plight in our own community, we are no better than the world we condemn. With Yom Hashoa's recent commemoration, I can not help but think that it is time for reevaluation of the lessons we learn from history. The holocaust continuously reminds us how much we have been persecuted throughout the ages. We must be mindful that we are a persecuted minority to this day. But to end our analysis there is to limit the scope and importance of the holocaust in our people's history. If we only victimize ourselves, and do not see our potential to help other victims, we do not sufficiently honor the memory of the martyred, nor do we honor the heroes that risked their lives for them. Eli Weisel, a holocaust survivor, headed a delegation to Sudan, to express solidarity with the victims and to bring attention to this cause. Eli Weisel has been one of the major activists in fighting for the Sudanese victims. He directly connects his involvement in humanitarian issues with his experience in the holocaust... To quote Eli Weisel, if we do not help these people, "what is at stake is our own humanity." When my grandchildren ask me why I stood by when Sudanese Africans were wiped out, I will tell them that I dedicated my time towards helping them, because of my Jewish principles. I hope that all Jews, especially Yeshiva University students, will be able to say the same."
Her and a group of YU students have started a Non-For-Profit Organization called, Not Now, Not Ever Click Here. They are in the process of putting together coalitions and chapters of their organization all over the world. They're putting together a huge concert in DC in September, and they have been organizing support from celebraties, major bands, politicians, Jewish leaders all over the world, etc. The head of the organization told me that they will be having chapters set up in Israel soon, but, in the mean-time, we can get the word out and write letters to Knesset members.
We cannot sit by, as Jews and humans, while thousands of innocent people are murdered, starved, tortured, and raped every day. "If now us, who? If not now, when?"


At 6:55 PM, Blogger jaynkaystone said...

This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

At 6:57 PM, Blogger jaynkaystone said...

Hey "OC". Well you've finally motivated to me to comment. I think it's great that you posted on this subject and I think that we especially as Jews need to be vocal and active on it! (PS I miss you tons! send my best to "OY". Hope the planning is treating you well and we wish we could be there with you!!)

At 7:46 PM, Blogger Olah Chadasha said...

Thanks. We miss you too and wish you could be here with us. I hope that you can come to visit soon, and I hope that what I wrote will inspire many of us to get involved. Love ya and miss ya tons.

At 9:48 PM, Blogger menachem said...

reminds me of all those posters you see all over the armenian quarter about the armenian genocide.

supposedly part of hitler's rationale for the holocaust (or at least his rationale for thinking he could get away with it) was the armenian genocide precedent. the world was quiet then, he could count on the world being silent again...

incidentaly, what do you think about jewish genocides? read Joshua, there's a pretty detailed description about how the Jews split their army in two, lured Ai's army (Ai was the second canaanite city conquered by Joshua; after Jericho) out of the city walls with half of their force, and massacred the women and children noncombatants who remained in the city with the other half. i was always troubled by this sort of stuff when i was a kid. the only reason i'm not now is cause i try not to think about it too much.

At 12:03 AM, Blogger Olah Chadasha said...

Well, Menachem, let me go re-read my Navi, and I'll get back to you. Before that, though, I have to say I always thought that since it was ordered by G-d, the society was supposedly more corrupt that S'dom, and it was war in a completely different time period, that it was different than today. But, don't hold me to that. I want to look into it further. But, very interesting question.

At 12:21 AM, Blogger stillruleall said...

We always wipe out the women and children. Otherwise, whats the point of fighting if you know that in a few generations they can get you back. Same thing with amalek. We werent just winning a war, we were destroying a people. And as we see, we didnt kill everyone and they made problems for us later.
In terms of Dafrur, dont you think there's so many other problems closer to home? There are thousands of hungry homeless people here, Jewish women who get stuck with Arab husbands and cant get away, orphans, abondened kids, etc, etc, why do you have to go looking for problems elsewhere??? I think Jews feel the need to show the worls that we help everyone even if they wont help us. So we sent a plane of supplies to Sri Lanka even after they refused to allow our doctors to set foot on their holy soil. Think of how many people here those supplies could have helped. How many Israelis are dead because they didnt have proper medicines, but G-d forbid the Sri Lankans or the Dalfrurins should suffer!?!

At 12:56 AM, Blogger Olah Chadasha said...

OK, stillrule, calm down. Take a deep breath...Now, let it out...Good, is that better? I think that we can help more than one cause at a time. We have the ability to multi-task. It's a beautiful gift if you know how to use it.
I think the supplies sent over to Sri Lanka weren't things that were sacrificed, with people here not getting them. They were surplus supplies that we always have in stock. I seriously don't think any-body died or suffered b/c of the supplies they sent over there. I think we would have heard about it if did.
I also think you missed the point of the article I copied. She did mention that she works for many Jewish and Israeli causes, but she also decided to make a contribution to a non-Jewish cause. Also, it's a bit of an isolationist attitude to believe that we can't help others while we're helping ourselves and our own people. The Darfur people aren't just suffering from hunger, and it's a hunger different from the ones experienced by Israelis here. They are being forcibly starved to death. Sound familiar? They are being tortured, raped, murdered, mamed, and all sorts of horrible things. Are you really going to tell me that if you could and had the ability to help, you wouldn't just b/c they weren't Jews? That would be so sad.

At 1:30 AM, Blogger menachem said...

uh oh, you're going to go and actually get a NAvi? i was just pulling stuff outta my ass and from whatever i remembered from 7th grade. the blogosphere is no place for facts!

is a native of darfur a darfurnian? maybe they're darfuri, or darfurons

At 12:18 PM, Blogger Olah Chadasha said...

they're from tribes, so I think they go by that. Well, whether you like it or not, you brought up a very interesting question, and now I really wanna look. But, I will attest that this is your fault. That's my story, and I'm sticking to it.

At 2:13 PM, Blogger The Rabbi's Kid said...

the tenach is full of necessary ethnic cleansing, it was a struggle for the future of mankind

At 4:00 PM, Blogger menachem said...

"it's necessary ethnic cleansing; it's a struggle for the future of mankind" - Adolf Hitler

ok, maybe he didn't say that, but he could have, and that's just my point

At 10:16 PM, Blogger Olah Chadasha said...

See, now you're starting to make this all serious and stuff. Now, I really have to look it up!

At 7:41 AM, Blogger The Rabbi's Kid said...

Menachem - tis called being contraversial. And yes, a moral relativist will have very grave difficulty formulating a moral philosophy that is binding.

At 4:54 PM, Blogger menachem said...

yeah but... what did a 4 year old girl from Ai or Jericho ever do to you?

i dont think this is moral relativism anymore. these are serious things form tanach that just dont make sense anymore.

At 7:04 PM, Blogger Olah Chadasha said...

They don't make sense to us b/c we don't live in that period. We can't understand what it was like. Haven't had time to look it up, so will refrain from anything more until then.


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