TAKING ROADS LESS TRAVELLED AND RARELY SEEN!
International telecommunications companies risk being linked to human rights abuses if they enter the Burmese market before adequate protections are in place. Burma’s human rights reforms thus far have been inadequate, including in the Internet and telecommunications sector, so companies entering the country should adopt robust safeguards to prevent and address any abuses linked to their operations.
Photo: A worker uses a mobile phone in Burma, where the government plans to increase mobile access to 50 percent in three years. © 2013 Reuters
However, with sadness I suspect the smell of profits will override our wish to wait for better human rights legislation AND implementation!
Google has de facto recognized the state of Palestine: It has changed the name ‘Palestinian territories’ to ‘Palestine’ across their products. A spokesman said Google consults with a number of authorities when naming countries and is following the lead of several international organizations.
Well done Google, thank you.
Rabbi Yishai Ron looks for ways to restore the meaning to the Zionist promise in fulfilling the shared dream of political redemption for Jews and Arabs.. In “Tazria-M’tzora” we encounter the m’tzora, who makes promises and neglects them. To remain loyal to the promised path, Rabbi Ron asks us to retain a token part of the affliction. A Dvar Torah for “Tazria-M’tzora”.
By: Rabbi Yishai Ron
A dream come true fills me with mixed emotions. On one hand I’ve longed for it to happen and worked to make it real; in my mind’s eye I’ve imagined the joy that would beat within me when it was fulfilled. The moment I yearned for came, and it blossomed into fulfillment. And on the other hand…what now? You can’t dream a dream come true again. It’s lost – but without a dream, what do I have to look forward to? I must find an alternative dream. If the one that came true was big and inspiring enough, anything that comes afterwards will seem petty. But maybe we don’t have to dream only big dreams – even little longings can impart a good taste to life…
For two thousand years the Jewish people dreamed of the return to the land of Israel, for the “renewal of the days of yore” (almost a contradiction in terms), and in our everyday prayers we beseeched God to gather us from the four corners of the Earth and return us to Zion with compassion. We have to admit that for most of that period there was no objective obstacle preventing us from going back ourselves, but the people of Israel fell in love with that dream and found it hard to let go…after all, it was so hot and swampy in the land, and the mosquitoes…the despair in London is so much more comfortable…
“The Arabs underwent a mirror image: they lost all the wars and live in poverty, but they gained big time – they gained a dream, hope and an ethos that yearns to return to its homeland.”
The Zionist dream is emptied and the Palestinians undergo renewal
Now we’re back in the land, through the generosity (and determination) of those who, instead of resorting to prayers to God, took matters into their own hands.
The dream came true and the State came into being – ex nihilo – and the joy of creation spilled over into the task of building it up (somewhat). Hatikvah – The Hope – was fulfilled. But at the same time it became less and less relevant (there’s no reason to make do with “an eye that looks toward Zion” when you can just pick up and move here; and the ones preventing us from being “a free people in our land” are…us. Instead of The Hope there grows an emptiness of that dream-space, an emptiness of vision – Filled in by separate, contradictory, petty dreams (the most common of which becomes, “I’ll make my home” – i.e. amass wealth without counting anyone but myself).
And now, sixty-five years later, we discover that there was a dream, and it’s gone; that perhaps a different dream came true from the one we dreamed: not “a light unto the nations” in the form of a model society to which the whole world looks, but a small, besieged, bellicose country; a state in which the basic value of justice, of equality, does not exist. And instead of a society “…founded on the principles of liberty, justice and peace…” (from the Declaration of Independence), we have a self-righteous society that lacks sensitivity.
And the (disturbing) thought occurs to me: in the struggle to establish Israel we both won and lost, while the Arabs lost and won. We won in the real world – we established ourselves in our homeland with a GDP of positively European proportions, but we lost the dream – The Hope. Whereas the Arabs got the opposite: they lost all the wars and live in poverty, but gained big-time – a dream, a hope and ethos that longs to return to the homeland. They won’t be in any rush to give up on that victory: if we nurtured ours for two thousand years, why should they give up their right to dream? Any demand that they give it up is doomed to fail, even in the context of a “peace agreement.”
So which is better? To win and lose…or lose yet win? Is there a middle path?
We can assume that the leper – the “hero” of “Tazria-M’tzora” – has dreams. He dreams of healing, of ending the discomfort; in his dream he’s just like any other person, and people no longer treat him as a leper. Nothing else is important to him. He marvels at the normal people so caught up in petty affairs instead of rejoicing at their good fortune, that they are not like him; and he feels the pain in the way the healthy treat him and his kind. Distant, isolated, the leper promises himself that if he recovers he will treat the societal lepers better, and try not to let the little things cause him pain.
Miraculously (or through advanced medicine) he recovers; the skin slowly returns to normal and the memory of the affliction – as well as his promise – begins to fade. The ex-leper finds himself once again caught up in petty concerns, and his treatment of other lepers is even worse than others’.
The Torah tells us that one who recovers from leprosy must bring a guilt-offering. Our Sages explain: his affliction was punishment for gossip and selfishness. But today, now that we have (one hopes) internalized the idea that sickness is not a punishment for one’s behavior, we can give a different – even opposite – interpretation to the offering: not guilt over his sickness (the pathology of which was not his fault) but the guilt of the future former leper, the guilt of forgetting. Forgetting those who are still afflicted, those who still live in pain, and the guilt over concerning oneself with petty issues at the expense of the grand dream.
How can I not fall into the sin of the recovered leper, when the natural tendency is to forget? Maybe the answer lies in the possibility of not healing completely; leave a little of the leper inside me, one who still holds the dream of healing. That remnant will enable me to remember the pain of the lepers and their dream, and leave an opening for hope –for them and for me.
In the midst of the dead-end feeling that characterizes our relations with the Palestinians, perhaps the best thing for us would be to give up a bit of our material victories and renew, to some degree, the dream that sustained us for two thousand years (go back to dreaming about our return to the city of our patriarchs and matriarchs, among other places). At the same time, we would allow the Palestinians to fulfill a small part of their dream, thus lowering the flame (however slightly) of their dream (that so threatens us). Perhaps instead of our victory measured only on the ground, but which lacks the flame of hope, and their victory measured in hope but landless, we can share both?
Rabbi Yishai Ron
As I read this, it made me think, what has happened when I take major matters into my own hands without prior prayer and spiritual discernment. Yes, in some way I make expensive mistakes, and sometimes hurt those I didn’t mean to.
When we read this article, we see how the state of Israel and its ungodly use of Power- over has been corrupted and the dream begins turning sour.
Over at the Paris Review Online, one of my favorite writers — John Jeremiah Sullivan — has a short essay about the tension between religious belief and religious music. It is also an essay about a new collection of old country music —Work Hard, Play Hard, Pray Hard — collected by Kentuckian Don Wahle, who kept the records in boxes until the day he died. Says Sullivan about the track “Beyond the Starry Plane”:
From the abyss of the static come “dear Mother” and “no matter what I do” and “we shall meet again” and “Jesus is my God.” I listen to this song and imagine Don Wahle listening to it, leaning forward to hear it better. An infinitesimal point of communion, a shared pause before the obliteration.
Sullivan also wrote the liner notes for the collection, which Milo Miles reviewed for Fresh Air a few weeks back.
Image by Tennessee Home and Farm via Flickr Commons
Love this b/w picture.
Prayer for the State of Israel
Sovereign of the Universe, accept in loving kindness and with favor our prayers for the State of Israel, her government and all who dwell within her boundaries and under her authority.
On the 65 anniversary of her founding, reopen our eyes and our hearts to the wonder of Israel and strengthen our faith in Your power to work redemption in every human soul. Grant us also the fortitude to keep ever before us those ideals to which Israel dedicated herself in her Declaration of Independence, so that we may be true partners with the people of Israel in working toward her as yet not fully fulfilled vision.
Grant those entrusted with guiding Israel’s destiny the courage, wisdom and strength to do Your Will. Guide them in the paths of peace and give them the insight to see Your Image in every human being. Be with those charged with Israel’s safety and defend them from all harm. May they have the strength to protect their country and the spiritual fortitude never to abuse the power placed in their hands.
Spread Your blessings over the Land. May justice and human rights abound for all her inhabitants. Guide them “To do justice, love mercy and walk humbly with your God.” (Micah 6:8.), and “May justice well up like water, righteousness like a mighty stream” (Amos 5:24). Implant tolerance and mutual respect in every heart, and may all realize that, “We were not brought into this world for conflict and dissension, nor for hatred, jealousy, harassment or bloodshed. Rather, we were brought into this world in order to recognize You, may You be blessed forever” (R. Naḥman of Bratzlav). Spread over Israel and all the world Your shelter of peace, and may the vision of Your prophet soon be fulfilled: “Nation shall not lift up sword against nation, neither shall they learn war any more” (Isaiah 2:4)
So may it be Your Will that speedily and in our day all inhabitants of the earth will say of the State of Israel, “It is very good.” (Genesis 1:31) for she will have become a blessing to the entire world and a “Light unto the nations.” (Isaiah 42:6).
Photo: Image by Amir Farshad Ebrahimi (License: CC BY-SA 2.0)
People with mental disabilities suffer severe abuses in psychiatric institutions and spiritual healing centers in Ghana. The Ghanaian government has done little to combat such abuse or to ensure that these people can live in the community, as is their right under international law.
Photo: At Heavenly Ministries Spiritual Revival and Healing Center, some people with presumed mental disabilities lived in buildings with cubicles for each resident and were chained to walls. They could not leave the cubicles without permission of the staff at the prayer camp.
© 2011 Shantha Rau Barriga/Human Rights Watch
This is rather disturbing, and in the name of spiritual healing something’s looks to have gone seriously wrong!