A recent 'call-to-arms' by rabbi Avi Weiss for more 'spiritual activism', set Abby Wisse Shachter thinking about two deserving human rights causes in the Pittsburgh Jewish Chronicle - the genocide in Darfur and the rights of Jews from Arab lands: (with thanks: Tom Gross)
"Weiss’ presentation brought to mind two very different ongoing human rights campaigns. One well known, the other not. One heavily supported by Jews, the other less so. One Gentile, one Jewish. The first is the humanitarian crisis in Darfur; the other is the advocacy effort on behalf of Jewish refugees from Arab lands.
"Jews were out front early trying to stop the killing and displacement of millions of innocents in western Sudan. And Jewish groups, including many younger Jews, were very visible at the national march last year in Washington. More recently, however, Darfur hasn’t been leading the news, as they say. Indeed, David Rosenberg, head of the Pittsburgh Darfur Emergency Coalition, would like to encourage the Jewish community “to re-engage” on the issue.
"The campaign to raise awareness of Jewish refugees from the Middle East and North Africa is a very different story. It is not and has not been a leading concern for most Jews. Instead, small but committed groups like Justice for Jews from Arab Lands and The David Project have been working hard to push for greater awareness, as well as pushing for changes to U.S. and international policy regarding rights and redress for Jewish Middle Eastern refugees.
"There is a movie, “The Forgotten Refugees,” which chronicles the story of those who were forced from their homes, lost their property and were exiled from their home countries. The movie has yet to be screened in Pittsburgh but when I asked a representative from The David Project about getting a copy here to Iron City, I got a very enthusiastic response. Will Jewish Pittsburgh respond?
"Meanwhile, these two efforts, on behalf of the refugees from western Sudan and refugee Jews, would seem to exemplify Rabbi Weiss’ call to arms. Let’s fight for the rights of others no more and no less than we would the rights of fellow Jews. And then, if Rabbi Weiss is correct, the pathway to love of all mankind (and greater engagement on Darfur) will be achieved through love of medinat yisrael (and fighting for Jewish rights and justice).
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Some useful links about Jewish refugees:
Frequently Asked Questions
How much did Jews lose? (includes background reading)
Seven myths about Jews from Arab Countries