Democracy is the kind of government that does not exist for generations or centuries without work. Time and again, history has shown us how easy it is for a country with a democratic government to secede into authoritarianism.
In Belarus, there is growing discontent with the current government. Current President Alexander Lukashenko claims that he won the most recent election fair and square, but many believe that it was rigged in his favor. Ignoring warning of violence from the army and the police, citizens have taken to the streets to protest the results of said election.
This is what democracy looks like. The average Jane or Joe gathering in large numbers to speak out against a government whom they no longer believe in.
These days, it is easy to become cynical. The negative headlines coming from the various news outlets seem to outnumber the positive ones. But there is still a glimmer of hope, represented by the people of Belarus coming together and demanding a legitimate democracy.
For most of the world, Auschwitz is the most well known of the Nazi death camps. Millions of people were starved, tortured, and murdered simply because of who they were.
But the residents this unfortunately infamous town know it as Oswiecim.
Recently, Israeli Ice Hockey star Eliezer Sherbatov signed on to play for Unia Oswiecim. Unia Oswiecim is the local hockey team for Osweicim. The reaction to his decision was both positive and negative, depending upon who one spoke to.
Defending his choice, Sherbatov stated the following:
“I tell them, what happened 80 years ago will never be forgotten. That’s why, 80 years later, I want to show young people that they should be proud of their heritage and that now anything is possible.”
I agree with him. Though I fully understand the criticism, I feel like this is a sign of hope and the ability to triumph over tragedy. While the we must never forget what happened with the borders of the death camp, we must also live. The fact that the Jews and Judaism is alive and thriving nearly 100 years later is sweet revenge on it’s own.
While we cannot go back in time and change history, we can remember those who were taken from us. Eliezer Sherbatov joining Unia Oswiecim is in itself a memorial to those who were murdered and a reminder that love and humanity still exist.
In our modern world, the nearly century long conflict with Israel and her neighbors (and Palestine specifically) is just another part of the news cycle.
Earlier this week, Israel reached what many have described as a historic deal with the UAE.
I believe that this deal is a good one and a necessary step toward a reasonable peace in the region.
That being said, I am not surprised about the responses. Both Iran and the Palestinians are displeased, to say the least. You know who thinks that he actually solved the problem as a whole. While this is a positive step in the right direction, it will not create a peaceful utopia. There is still a long way to go.
I am also not sure that temporarily stopping the so called “West Bank Settlements” will create the necessary change. Though this another topic for another blog post, when Israel goes back to building what is essentially Israeli land, she will be met with the same criticism and damnation. But in the meantime, putting the settlements on hold is imperative.
But overall, my gut reaction is that the agreement is one to celebrate. Only when we put aside our prejudices can we see the common goals that exist between us. By putting hate aside, both Israel and the UAE are demonstrating that it is possible to live with your neighbor. It just requires the ability to listen and compromise.
There are two sides to humanity. There are ways in which we are different (which is not all that bad). There are also ways in which are we similar.
One of the ways in which we are similar is how we are instructed to treat one other. The Golden Rule aka “Do to no one what you yourself dislike.” exists in multiple religious texts from a variety of belief systems.
Yesterday, a building filled with chemicals exploded in Beirut. As of tonight, 100 people died from the explosion, thousands are injured and many more are homeless.
In response, other countries have sent humanitarian aid and support. Among those countries is Israel. Yes, Israel.
“as a Jewish person,..I was fed a huge amount of lies about Israel…You know, they never tell you that […] there were people there. They make it seem like it was just sitting there.”
Anyone who regularly reads this blog knows how I feel about Israel. I have visited twice and hope to visit a third time at some point in the future. It is a beautiful country with warm people and delicious food. However, that does not mean that I agree with everything that is said and done over there.
The issue I take with Rogen’s comment is that it gives those with antisemitic views the permission to make a similar statement.
If Rogen does not agree with the decisions made by the Israeli government, that is one thing. He is, like all of us, entitled to his opinion. But to publicly make a general assertion without consideration of the facts is another thing entirely and just plain wrong.
We live in a world in which hate and racism have a firm hold on us. The only way to break that hold is to speak the truth and be willing to listen to one another. Unfortunately, Rogen’s declaration only added fuel to the fire that is hate and racism.
When the Internet and social media took off decades ago, they both seemed to be a beacon of freedom of speech and communication. We would speak to and (virtually) meet people who we might otherwise not meet and become a better world.
But while the technology has changed, the world has not.
While the social media giants claim that they are all for freedom of expression, they continue to ignore the elephant in the room. That elephant is racism and antisemitism that continually flows from various tweets and posts.
Twitter, while claiming that hate speech is not allowed on the platform, does not prevent Iranian officials from threatening Israel with annihilation via tweets.
I wish it was easy to remove ourselves from social media. But, they are so much of a part of lives that to do so would be akin to cutting off a limb. The only solution is that the people who run the social media platforms follow through on their terms of service. The question is, will they?
If there is one thing that has lasted throughout the history of humanity, it is the appalling way in which we treat our fellow humans.
After the Holocaust, the phrase “never again” echoed from the lips of the survivors.
Unfortunately, “never again” has become an empty statement over the decades.
In China, the Uighurs are a Muslim minority. According to reports, the Chinese government have been forced to leave their homes for “re-education camps”. A segment on Last Week Tonight with John Oliver released on Youtube on Monday revealed the harsh treatment that these people are experiencing.
Watching the segment immediately took me back to everything I know about the Holocaust. The details change, but the basic facts are the same: a minority or minorities are dehumanized and forced into a specific location/murdered/tortured because of who they are.
I had hoped that 75 years after the end of the Holocaust, we might have finally learned from the mistakes of past generations. But humans are still humans. We still hate and kill one another strictly based on a face value identity.
Maybe one day, we will finally treat each other with respect and dignity.
When we are hurt by someone, the question of whether we are able to forgive and forget often comes up once everything calms dawn.
In Hamburg, former Concentration Camp guard Bruno Dey was brought to trial as one of those responsible for the murders of innocents at the Stutthof concentration camp. His fate will be decided on Thursday.
Some might argue that he has age in his favor. At the age of 93, even if he is sent to jail, Mr. Dey’s proposed three prison sentence will be short. He was also a young man during World War II, perhaps unable to fully comprehend his assignment.
However, that does not give him a free pass to live out whatever years he has left on Earth. He is still, in his own small way responsible for the murders of the innocent people who died in front of him.
I have often spoken on this blog of my immigrant ancestors and their loved ones who were murdered just for being Jewish. As much as I would love to say that this case is black and white, it isn’t. There are too many factors involved to declare it to be easily won either way.
But there is one bright spot. If he can say “never again”, then perhaps the world has a chance of finally learning from the past.
In a certain sense, humans are stupid creatures. We are well aware of the failures that exist in our collective history. But instead of learning from those mistakes, we make them again and again.
Earlier in this week, a pro-Palestinian rally in Belgium turned antisemitic. Which should be a surprise no one.
Back in November of 1961, The Twilight Zone aired an episode called Death’s-Head Revisited. The premise of the episode is as follows: a former SS officer smugly decides to visit Dachau, where he was responsible for the deaths of innocents. To say that he receives his comeuppance is an understatement.
To those who would deny the Holocaust or advocate for the murder of Jews today, I would recommend that they be dropped into Auschwitz (or any concentration camp) for the night. Let the ghosts of those murdered teach them a lesson they will never forget.
When George Floyd was murdered two weeks ago, it was more than the taking of a life. His death is sadly the personification of everything the things that humanity needs to fix.
That being said, there is a difference between protesting injustice and taking advantage to promote one’s personal crusade.
The most recent Palestinian lie is to link their “cause” to George Floyd and the protests that have erupted around the world in the last two weeks.
If there was a legit issue, that would be one thing. Not that everything the IDF or the Israeli government does is perfect. But they have at least attempted to live in peace with their neighbors. I cannot say the same for the Palestinians.
What happened to George Floyd, I would not wish on anyone. I would also not wish for his memory to be co-opted for a deliberately created falsehood.