Monthly Archives: April 2006

A Call to Action

This Sunday, April 30, tens of thousands of people will descend upon Washington D.C. to share their alarm and outrage at the ongoing genocide in Darfur. The event has gotten a lot of press before it even began, and that is a good thing. What I think is a bad thing, however, is if all of the energy poured into tomorrow ends up perceived as a call for more negotiations between the government of Sudan and the rebels. Taking this “negotiations are best” approach, the NYTimes writes,

The best possible solution would be for the Sudanese government and the rebels to agree to the peace treaty draft that mediators at the Abuja talks handed to them on Tuesday. Osama bin Laden’s recent tape accusing the United States of plotting to dispatch “Crusader” troops to Darfur to steal its oil wealth under the pretext of peacekeeping underscores the risks that would come with sending in a United Nations or NATO peacekeeping force against the wishes of the government of Sudan.
But the African Union force that is currently on the ground is pitifully inadequate, as the ongoing carnage shows. So it is incumbent on China and the Arab world to join the Bush administration in pressuring the Sudanese government to sign onto the peace deal and allow the U.N. troops. The deadline for talks can be extended. Obviously, the troops shouldn’t be American; that would just play into nationalistic concerns in Sudan. But troops from Muslim countries, particularly Pakistan and Morocco, could be used as part of a peacekeeping force.
If the world applies enough pressure, Sudan will back down. Tomorrow could be an important moment. We just wish there were rallies in Beijing, Cairo and Riyadh.

I agree with the end, not with the beginning. Negotiating with a genocidal regime in the midst of supporting gangs of rapists is not only immoral and unethical, it is also stupid. Force is not a thing to be looked down upon–the Jewish tradition, which holds “Thou Shalt Not Kill” amongst its ten most important rules, still permits one to use violent force if someone. is out to kill you or someone you love.
And for those who regret the Jewish association with the event, I can only imagine how upset they’d be if non-Jews would have protested while the Holocaust was raging. Yes, I used the Holocaust card. If you can’t use the Holocaust card to oppose genocide, what good is Remembering?
[This post appears also on BlogsofZion, where I post on a daily basis. I apologize for not updating this website more often, but that’s what happens when you’re in grad school and edit a website and are starting a magazine and…so check out BoZ]

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Arthur Hertzberg Passes On

Rabbi and Professor Arthur Hertzberg, whose work included the Zionist Idea–which helped shape the thought of many Jews today–has passed away at the age of 84.
I’ve had my disagreements with Prof. Hertzberg in the past–but no one can doubt his immense contribution to the Jewish People. May his memory be blessed.
[HT Mobius, who beat the JTA and Google News on the Story]

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The Fifth Cup

Tonight, as Jews around the world hold our Sederim, we will pour and drink four cups–and leave a fifth cup for Elijah the prophet, in the hope that he will finally come this year to herald the coming of the Messiah and bring us back to Israel.
What was that? Bring us back to Israel? But we’re here!
Waiting for Messiah has been a way for the rabbinic authorities throughout the ages to subdue the Jewish People and stop them from going to the Land of Israel on our own. But the time to wait has come and passed, and, therefore, the need to hold out hope for some Messianic Era is gone. As Shmuel–the first generation Babylonian Sage–is recorded as saying in the Babylonian edition of the Talmud, “There is no difference between this world and that of the Messianic era, except for Jewish independence from the dominion of foreign kingdoms [BT Berachot 34b].
Thus, let us bring back the tradition of Rabbi Tarfon, who used to drink a fifth cup on recitation of the Hallel–thanking the Eternal for being with us as we have created the State, fought its wars and taken care of its citizens.
We’re free. We’re independent from foreign kingdoms, at least for the moment, and we need not wait for a Messiah any longer. Only the People of Israel , in the Eternal’s grace, will be able to maintain that freedom by good deed and right action.
Hag Sameah!
(Here is a lesson sheet I developed on the subject–texts only). <crossposted>

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