Archive for the ‘Activism’ category

Reverend Lowery’s Moving Benediction

January 21, 2009

Reverand Lowery’s Benediction (transcript, video) on the occasion of Barack Obama’s historic Inauguration lit a fire in my heart and my soul.

The man spoke from his guts. He used straightforward language, and he wasn’t afraid to say what was on his mind. Don’t call him a racist or a man who is stuck in the past; he is a national hero.

A lot of people want to sit on their laurels and celebrate the election of a black man to the highest office in this country. It is a noble accomplishment, and it is something which I hope will be remembered for a very long time. It is something I will tell my children about with pride, and that I will always look towards as a sign of hope and possibility.

But there is still a lot of suffering and discrimination in this world, and in this country. People are put down and kept down for reasons of race, religion, gender, sexuality and creed. Bigotry and hatred persist in this country despite the hard work of men like Reverend Lowery.

There are over 1,000 laws in this country that apply to heterosexual married couples, but do not apply to same-gender couples who are denied the right to marry. Muslim men and women are discriminated, stereotyped and racially profiled everywhere they go. People are judged by the color of their skin, their dress, and their speech. People are not judged by the content of their character.

Rev. Lowery’s words were stirring. He used terms and expressions I would not feel comfortable using, but which he was able to deftly disarm. He was charming, witty, and inspiring. I was lifted by his words like no one elses since Dr. King.

Advertisements

Disturbed and Disappointed by My Fellow Zionists

January 21, 2009

For months now, I have been receiving emails from a woman named Chana who represented the Web site www.thelandofisrael.com. I always assumed they were filled with nice messages about the Land of Israel, and I simply never clicked on any of the articles because I didn’t have the time.

Today I saw a video link in the email titled “Tuesday Night Live in Jerusalem #25: Peace Now VS. Hebron.” Now I was intrigued for a minute because Peace Now is an organization I have been thinking of getting involved with for a while. I believe very strongly that Israel needs to evacuate Jews from the West Bank, and move towards an immediate two-state solution.

I watched the video, and was horrified by what I saw. Two men were standing on a stage speaking in English to a crowd of people. They tried to play it off like a weird mix between SNL and the Late Night Show. In truth they came across like televangelists of the worst kind. They had a room full of sheep that were baying at their every word.

They explained that they believe the Hebron was, and always should be, an important place for Jews to live. After the applause from the audience, they took a man-on-the-street approach, and went to visit both a Peace Now rally, and the settler neighborhood in Hebron.

I was so disturbed by the slanted position they took to this video. The blatant editing tactics designed to change the meaning of someones words were nauseating. The biased questions and unfair approach to the attendees of the Peace Now rally was stupefying. The positive slant to present the settlers as peaceful and the activists as violent was shockingly upside-down.

But I guess I don’t know what else I can expect. When people take their religious beliefs and insert them into the political arena, dangerous things can happen. The extremist settlers living in the West Bank need to leave. They need to recognize the humanity of the Palestinian people, and their right to self-determination. They need to give up their dreams of a Biblical Israel, and settle (no pun intended) for something within the 1949 borders.

Enough is enough. President Obama will hopefully put pressure on the Israeli government to force out the settlers, and that will hopefully put an end to this whole thing. Until then, I will be avoiding thelandofisrael.com like the plague.

Props to PeTA

January 20, 2009

This is not something I will do often. As much of an advocate for animal rights as I may be, I disagree with a lot of the stances and tactics of the organization known as PeTA.

I was talking to a few friends over the weekend, and we concluded that PeTA would respond to the Miracle on the Hudson by claiming that modern air travel is cruel and insensitive to the needs of migratory birds.

We expected pictures of charred and bloodied goose remains to be plastered all over the Web site, and for Hero, Captain “Sully” Sullivan, to be lambasted as an animal killing monster.

Kudos to PeTA for recognizing the bigger picture here, and, so far, not putting anything like that up on your site.

The Right for Gay Marriage

January 12, 2009

One of the basic rights I have always taken for granted was the right I took advantage of on May 28, 2007 when I exchanged rings with my wife, and kissed her under the chuppah.  It never occurred to me that the right to be married was something I should be particularly grateful for.

It didn’t take long after I was celebrating the amazing achievements of this past November 4th that I began mourning the most blatant act of legalized discrimination in a long time. The passing of Proposition 8 in California was a horrible example of what can happen when people are not considerate of other people’s rights.

This has become a cause I am very passionate about for a very simple reason: it is something that is within my control, and the control of my friends, to change. I care about Darfur, but I do not have the money or political clout to make significant difference. I care about peace for Israel and her neighbors, but I do not have the magic touch to solve that problem either.

The discrimination against homosexuals is something that is being done by normal Americans just like me. If a referendum were to come up in New York, I want to do my best to influence those people I know to vote for equal rights to gays. This is in my realm of possibility.

I will be updating this site regularly with links and stories related to this issues. A lot of what I get is from a great advocacy web site called Join The Impact – check it out.

It’s also worth watching these two great videos from funnyordie:

“Proposition¬† 8 – The Musical”

“Protect Marriage, Protect Children, Prohibit Divorce”

Opening Post

January 12, 2009

For a while now I have maintained a blog through my employment that was designed to get the word out about some things I cared about that overlapped with my job. I am lucky enough that I have a lot of common values with my place of employment, and many things I would like to post on my own blog I can simply post there.

I have realized, however, that I do not really have the free-license I would like to have when it comes to maintaining the blog. I think I need to be able to express myself a bit more freely, and explore some issues I might not be allowed to on the work blog.

You will hopefully get a sense of who I am and what I care about through this site, but I will give you a bit of a taste now. I am a Modern Orthodox Jew living in New York City with my wife. I would consider myself a liberal, and believe it is every person’s duty to do his or her best to improve other people’s lives. I have a lot to say about the culture and society we live in, I have a lot to say about my religion and other religions, and I have a lot to say about politics and the way this and other countries are run.

I read a lot of things around the Internet, and I watch lots of television, and I try to stay connected as best as possible. I will be writing about things I care about on this site, and I will put in links that I think are relevant.

There will hopefully be fun and light topics explored throughout this blog, but I hope to make it all relevant to people who share my interests and values.

I am making a commitment not to moderate comments on this blog. I will not give a voice to hateful comments, but will gladly welcome open debate and dialog – so please contribute.

I hope you enjoy this blog – I’m sure I will.