Don’t Stand By

01.27.16

Today is the UN’s internationally designated Holocaust Memorial Day. (Not to be confused with Yom HaShoah, which falls in early May this year.)

This year, the Holocaust Memorial Day Trust is urging us to not only remember the victims of the Holocaust, but to turn our focus towards fighting persecution that is taking place in today’s world, right here in 2016:

Don’t stand by is the theme for Holocaust Memorial Day 2016.

The Holocaust and subsequent genocides took place because the local populations allowed insidious persecution to take root. Whilst some actively supported or facilitated state policies of persecution, the vast majority stood by silently – at best, afraid to speak out; at worst, indifferent. Bystanders enabled the Holocaust, Nazi Persecution and subsequent genocides.

We said “Never Again” but that did nothing to stop genocides in Rwanda, Cambodia, Bosnia or Darfur.

We said “Never Forget” but we can’t apply that only to antisemitism when there’s so much discrimination even in our supposedly democratic, free home countries, against people with different skin colours, gender identities, sexual orientations, religions or traditions.

We tore down the concentration camps in Europe and made them into museums. But prisoners are still being sent to death camps in places like North Korea.

Adolf Hitler has been dead for 70 years, but politicians are still running for office and using minority-baiting and drumming up hate, fear and prejudice in order to gain power.

We’ve acknowledged the tragic outcome of saying “none is too many” and yet we still react in fear when desperate refugees from civil wars in places like Syria want to come to our shores.

Competing about tragedies (“ours was worse than yours”) only serves to divide us, to pit us against each other and to further build walls between humans. Instead, let’s focus on calling out injustice and persecution wherever we see it. Not just today, but every day.

It’s not just about being Jewish. It’s about being human.

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Banksy: peace for paris

Disclaimer: This post contains spoilers for the TV show “The Wire”. And also some colourful language, such as you might expect when talking about terrorist bastards.

This week has been a bad one for the world. Unless, of course, you happen to be a giant terrorist asshole. Terror attacks in Beirut, Baghdad, and the deadliest attack in Paris since World War 2 have sent the world reeling. The group known by many acronyms — ISIS, ISIL, or what I’ll refer to in this post as Daesh, has claimed ‘responsibility’ (if such a word could even be used) for all three attacks.

All this has happened against a backdrop of unprecedented humanitarian crisis, as hundreds of thousands of refugees continue to flee Syria’s deadly civil war. Western governments are debating how they can cope with what they’ve dubbed a “migrant crisis”, as though the problem only started when desperate refugees started showing up in Europe. It happened on the eve of the G20 summit in Antayla, Turkey, and in the lead-up to a huge global summit on climate change taking place in Paris.

The responses to the attack, in typical format, have followed the Rorschach Test pattern; people see in tragedy what they want to see. More foreign aid. Less foreign aid. More military intervention. Less military intervention. More solidarity with refugees. Close our borders to refugees. It’s about Islam. It’s not about Islam. And so on, and so forth. French president Francois Hollande has taken a hard line, promising military strikes against Daesh, closing of borders, and crackdowns all around.

Everyone has an opinion on how to fight this so-called “war on terror”. But is this really a “war”?

It strikes me that this so-called “war on terror” bears a lot of resemblance to another misnomer: the so-called “war on drugs”.

Sure, this isn’t exactly an original observation. Plenty of people have pointed this out in analysis after analysis. But, other than depressingly similar tactics, sources of funding and consequences, these two so-called wars parallel each other in other ways. Here are just a few:

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