In recent times the left-wing hive mind seems to have collectively aligned itself with an anti-Israel and pro-Palestinian stance, but there is no real reason that Israel’s right to exist should be incompatible with a liberal worldview. With terms like “apartheid” and “illegal occupation” being bandied about, there is a gross misconception that Zionism equates to a kind of colonialism, and this is the kind of ignorance that perpetuates violence in the region.
Archive for June, 2011
Posted by Jacob:
Today in Tel Aviv there was an event that could not have taken place anywhere else in the Middle East – a gay pride parade. According to an article on ynetnews.com, this year’s parade was the biggest in the city’s history with over 100, 000 people in attendance. Religious people marched alongside secular folks, and Israeli flags flew alongside rainbow banners, in a powerful celebration of freedom of expression.
Tel Aviv’s successful pride parade is a display of the progressive attitudes that are prevalent in contemporary mainstream Israeli society. Just as in any modern democracy with a pluralistic populace, there are extremists with homophobic and repressive worldviews who represent a small minority in a country with many voices.
With all the revolutions and uprisings sweeping the Arab world, media coverage in the region does not extensively focus on positive stories like this one. The bloody silencing of civil protests in Syria and Yemen, the violent civil war in Libya, and the successful ousting of dictators in Egypt and Tunisia (among other similarly startling stories), are all far more cataclysmic political current events. I think that the best possible outcome of the so-called “Arab Spring”, is for the people in these countries to one day enjoy the freedom to be able to openly welcome LGBT communities as they do in Israel.
Posted by Rachael:
Shavuot is just a few hours away and I’m really looking forward to it. I’m not exactly looking forward to the spirituality of it or the meaningfulness of the Jewish people accepting the Torah (though we know how beautiful and meaningful that part is) but at this moment in time, I’m really looking forward to spending good time with family and friends. It’s been a tough few weeks in my house. The kids at school have just gone through the ‘crunch’ time with their classes – 1500 things assigned and all due today by 2 pm. It’s been weeks of anxiety, sweat, all nighters and meltdowns. On more than one occasion I laid down on the couch with one or another of my children lying in my arms crying…as I said, I’m really looking forward to Shavuot.
Aside from the rest and recovery, there’s a game I’m planning to play with the family that should allow for some good Jewish speculation as well as some wholesome venting. It’s called: ‘Why do you think God -’ and you play it by having to finish that sentence. There are no limits applied to the context or idea used to finish the sentence and everyone around is welcome to offer an explanation to your question.
But even playing this game, a small part of me wonders if in the wee wee hours of the night on Shavuot, I won’t wondering if God is sitting in the Divine Realms with the angels all around playing the game: ‘Why do you think people -’
Have a great Shavuot!
The holiday of Shavuot has a special connection with Jewish environmentalism. Shavuot in the Torah is described as a Jewish harvest of celebration and unity. The unity first begins in the fields when landowners begin their grain harvest and abide the laws of the Torah by not harvesting the corners of the field. These corners were reserved for those less fortunate to harvest grain as well.
Since a productive harvest is part of the vision of covenant, it is important that all the people are included and given a chance to participate. In fact, we can imagine the process of the whole country involved together, harvesting together and celebrating together.
In today’s world, we no longer celebrate our covenant through harvest and pilgrimage festivals. But the celebration of the Torah and our receiving of it is timeless. Within the Torah are all the laws of Jewish environmentalism and respect for the world and all creatures in it. The Torah is our focus document for living our lives and demands respect for the environment even if it is not the popular stand of a secular society.
Celebrating Shavuot today includes remembering that the source of our environmentalism is the Torah and it dates back to the very formation of the Jewish people.
A teacher once shared with me this story which I felt was perfect to include.
She was teaching her grade 4 class about the midah (attribute) of ‘chesed’ and how important it is to respond to all who are in need even if it’s inconvenient or they won’t say thank you.
The teacher gave an example of walking home and seeing an animal in the road that had been killed by a car and was lying by the side of the road in a bloody heap.
The teacher hoped to get the response from the children that they would find a phone and call someone to pick up the animal since it was not respectful to have it on the road. She called on one of the girls to answer what she would do and the girl honestly told her she thinks that she’d throw up.
It is easy to notice that the Earth’s weather has become more extreme with an increasing number of natural disasters over the past few years. From Katrina a few years ago, to the forest fires all over North America year after year, to the devastating tornadoes recently in the Midwest United States. Each time disaster strikes we ask “where is God?” and we often get two very different answers. Rachael explains.
It’s always a challenge to look past the dairy piece of Shavuot especially if you have an intolerance to the food group. But Rachael explains what you can do to celebrate the holiday without eating dairy food.
Throughout my undergrad experience at Queen’s University I was confronted on several occasions with aggressive anti-Israel rhetoric. I’m not a particularly religious person, but the climate on campus was enough to make me aware and self-conscious of my minority status as a Jew. In this blog post I’d like to relate one of the more uncomfortable situations I was presented with during my time as a student, and invite readers to commiserate with me about the new face of Antisemitism that has infiltrated left-wing politics.
I began university as a fresh-faced film major, eager to get involved with a faculty that initially seemed hip and open-minded. But unfortunately it didn’t take long for this arty department to rear its ugly head and make me feel alienated enough to switch from a double major in film and drama to the only slightly more conservative English literature.
In a first year lecture sized film course, taken by hundreds of freshmen, one particularly charismatic and radical professor thought it appropriate to subject the entire class to an interactive presentation regarding “Israeli Apartheid”. Not only is the very name of this concept disingenuous and hurtful, but the manner in which she raised the topic was distasteful, left no room for discussion and was entirely unrelated to film studies.
I arrived at the lecture hall one spring afternoon to find that all the students were being lined up outside, and a separate group of students who were not signed up for the course were checking ID cards. The students running the screening process singled some of us out at random to wait outside and enter the class late. As it turns out, the purpose of this exercise was to demonstrate how Israeli checkpoints ostracize and persecute Palestinians trying to enter the country. (I won’t even get in to the racial profiling that occurred when I was ‘randomly’ selected to wait outside by a girl in a hijab who read that my name was Jacob Abba Morgan).
Upon entering the class, those of us who were admitted with late entry were made to sit in a separated area at the back. At the front stood this film studies professor standing proudly with her small legion of militant looking students who were all dressed in black. On the screen there was a ridiculous bit of propaganda that showed an army helicopter marked IDF looming over a lone Palestinian boy sitting dejectedly in a fiery wasteland dotted with barbed wire. I couldn’t believe my eyes.
It’s difficult enough to raise your hand and make a comment in a lecture filled with hundreds of your peers, let alone when you are trying to argue a counterpoint. So perhaps because I was shy, or perhaps because I was just too offended to think straight, I didn’t say anything and simply got up and left the classroom. I studied hard for the exam but quickly made the decision to leave the film department and find a place where hate-filled and one-sided politics were left out of the picture. What is clear to me is that this professor abused her position of authority, and despite the fact that I complained to my teaching assistant and I know others did the same, this angry professor never saw any repercussions for her actions.
To condemn checkpoints with no mention of the terrorism that warranted these checkpoints is blatantly biased. This is just one instance of how the Israeli-Palestinian conflict is distorted within the halls of Canadian universities and how many professors perpetuate the problem by abusing their positions to push their warped agendas.