Friday, September 25, 2015

In the name of human rights, silencing those discomforting voices

...Bassem Eid is not in hiding, and not in danger of going to jail, at least not in Israel. But (and we have not heard this from him), it might be some time before he willingly exposes himself again to Western (or at least South Pacific) academics or audiences with some specific sub-set of human-rights on their minds, or self-proclaimed advocates of free speech. At a certain point, a person just gets sick of the empty slogans and pines for a world where values and opinions can count on getting a certain degree of respect and exposure.

Arnold/Frimet Roth..
This Ongoing War..
24 September '15..

It's the day after Judaism's Yom Kippur. In some ways, it's a shame the Jewish practice of focusing energy and thoughts on wrong-doings on one long (very long) day once a year - no eating, no drinking - and sincerely repenting for them has not been adopted outside the Jewish world in the way that we Jews do.

Even those not very observant of Judaism's detailed code of conduct do this both as individuals and as a community. Does this make "us" holier than other people? No, of course not, though observant Jews do have a fairly concrete sense of the sacred and what holy means. and strive to bring it into our lives. And are we doing better now that the Day of Atonement is behind us? Only time will tell, but the day does end on a distinctly optimistic note.

We're thinking about this after reading a little-noticed report about a proud, eloquent Palestinian Arab with a passion for human rights and the courage (as we have seen from up close ourselves) to speak out in defence of the values in which he believes even when his audiences are not too sympathetic.

He has just been visiting New Zealand. And according to a seriously disturbing report we have just seen from there, Bassem Eid was treated despicably.

Some readers might be surprised to know that the sharpest of the disgraceful responses to which he was treated came from some of the very people who posture and trumpet themselves as respectful defenders of free, open speech.

(Read Full Post)

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