OPINION: We need a generation of activists to fight intolerance

OPINION: We need a generation of activists to fight intolerance

Rabbi Aaron Goldstein
Rabbi Aaron Goldstein
Aaron Goldstein
Rabbi Aaron Goldstein

This week’s progressive Judaism comes from Rabbi Aaron Goldstein

In recent weeks, I have felt somewhat in a time warp, with Jews attacked in public spaces in Europe, the victory of far-right political parties in many European countries and the horrendous treatment of women: female genital mutilation, so called ‘honour’ killings, widespread rape and torture, with police or ‘justice’ systems condoning, even delivering sentences of floggings and death for choosing to practice one’s religion and for one’s marriage partner.

We know only too well from the experience and history of our people, that a barometer of the moral fibre of any given society is how it treats minority groups, women, gay and lesbian people. We also have a sacred scripture that clarions a timeless, universal call to protect those disadvantaged by life or, as we might put it today, to defend the human rights of all.

We cannot directly protect women in Pakistan, India, Sudan or Nigeria, but we can give birth to a new generation of activists who can affect change. They may be our Muslim neighbours, who should be rallying their case against fundamentalists who give the name of their religion a bad name. 

They may be Christian neighbours who have lacked focus on the plight of their coreligionists in Middle Eastern countries other than Israel, in Africa and in the Indian subcontinent, and all our friends of faith and none.

We can all become activists because a mere click of a button to sign a petition, a tweet or email can encourage politicians to act as they have been doing in the case of Meriam Ibrahim. If only we would choose to postpone our phone call to vote on Britain’s Got Talent for a moment to focus on more serious matters.

And why should we bother? Firstly, because it is the right thing to do. This should remain our primary motivating force through our lives.

But we should also do so because societies that stop caring about the weak, the marginalised and the poor are also those that tend to stop caring about their minorities as well – us. 

• Aaron Goldstein is rabbi of Northwood and  Pinner Liberal Synagogue


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