Tag Archives: Foreign Policy
Netanyahu Obama

Contextualizing Prime Minister Netanyahu’s Speech at the UN

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu made a speech to the U.N. General Assembly in New York on Monday, just days after Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas spoke to the same assembly. In the speech, the Prime Minister stated his view that “Hamas is ISIS and ISIS is Hamas” and sought to link the two groups with Iran by saying that they all fall under the umbrella of militant Islam. Netanyahu also offered an impassioned defense of Israel’s tactics in Operation Protective Edge, the military campaign

While the speech was largely a restatement of what the Prime Minister has been saying this summer and before, it launched a conversation within the Jewish community and the Israeli community. Below you’ll find what some have said about the Netanyahu’s speech:

To stay up to date on everything related to the Prime Minister’s speech and Israel issues in general, check out the RAC’s Israel page and our partners in Israel, the Israeli Religious Action Center.

military airplane bombers flying over desert

Just What is ISIS, and Why Should We Care?

Like many self-styled foreign policy wonks, I’ve found myself incredibly disturbed by the extremist group known as ISIS, the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria. There’s no shortage of news these days on ISIS, from what we should call them to what life is like under ISIS control to why the U.S. should attack them to why the U.S. shouldn’t attack them to wondering whether all of this is legal. Read more…

Fifth Birthday and Beyond

Growing up, birthdays were an important day in my house.  The morning started with a concoction called “Birthday Breakfast,” inspired by a dessert my parents had eaten on a date together (it’s two waffles, a scoop of vanilla ice cream, hot fudge, and whipped cream—trust me, it’s amazing).  For my 5th birthday party in 1995, my parents planned a big backyard carnival, complete with games, party signs, and prizes.  I remember that birthday, as well as all the birthdays I’ve celebrated since that day, and the thoughtfulness with which my parents marked each of my birthdays. Read more…

What Does Korach Teach Us?

By Leah Citrin

When “Ken” grew up in northern Kenya, he faced many hardships. In a part of the country that is not agriculturally productive, the people in this region often felt neglected by the government. As a society of nomadic pastoralists, Ken’s community lived without internet, phones, or access to education. The culture around him viewed LGBT issues as “western” and individuals who came out as gay were met with violence and discrimination. As an LGBT activist, “Ken” must mask his name and the name of his organization to avoid imprisonment or even death. In order to express one part of his identity, he must hide a different part of it.

Like “Ken,” Korach, the main character of this week’s Torah portion, sees an injustice and calls the people to action: “All the community—all of them—are holy,” Korach challenges Moses and Aaron, “and God is in their midst. Why then do you raise yourselves above the congregation of God?” Korach’s challenge, that each person has value and holiness, resonates with us today. We, as American Reform Jews, value each individual and his or her abilities and contributions. We believe that there are different kinds of leaders and we fight for justice in the form of equality. In living out these beliefs, we eliminated the ritual hierarchy in Judaism by erasing the distinctions between Priests, Levites, and Israelites. So we can empathize with Korach. Read more…

Caring for the Most Needy: Children Crossing the Border, Alone

It would be difficult to conceptualize a more abject situation than this: a child, escaping poverty or violence in Central America, travelling to a foreign country, alone. But in the past few month, the number of children doing just that has increased dramatically, with a record 47,017 children under the age of 18 apprehended on the US-Mexico border since October 2013. Read more…

CRPD: Supporting Global Disability Rights

The UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD), based on the ideals of the Americans with Disabilities Act, is intended to empower persons with disabilities to be independent and productive citizens. It represents an international effort to bring the world closer to achieving the goals of equality, opportunity, full participation, independent living and economic self-sufficiency for people with disabilities. Read more…

NFTY and the URJ Support Global Disability Rights

By Olivia Kessler

Today, approximately 650 million people (almost 10 percent of the world’s population!)  live with a disability, making them the world’s largest minority.

In July 2009, the United States signed the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD). The CRPD, which is based off the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), represents an international effort to bring the world closer to achieving the goals of equality of opportunity, full participation, independent living and economic self-sufficiency for all people with disabilities. On December 4, 2012, the United States Senate voted to ratify the treaty, but fell five votes short of the super-majority required for ratification.

With the 24th anniversary of the ADA coming up on July 26th, advocates are hoping to see the CRPD reappear in the Senate. If ratified, this treaty will not only open the world for the millions of Americans with disabilities seeking to serve, study, or travel abroad, but it will also promote American business, and reinforce American leadership on disability rights.

As Reform Jews, we have long supported the rights of people with disabilities, and understand the importance of working to remove barriers in our congregations, in our youth groups, in our summer camps and in our society.

Our tradition teaches us, ” You shall not insult the deaf, or place a stumbling block before the blind.” (Leviticus 19:14) Last summer, participants at the URJ Kutz Camp preached this message through a video they made in support of the ratification of the CRPD in the Senate. Participants stressed the importance of this treaty, urging Senators to ratify the Convention so policies and legislation embracing the rights and dignity of people with disabilities can be shaped domestically and abroad.  I encourage you to watch the full video by clicking here.

NFTY’s Action Theme in the coming year illustrates our dedication towards including all people in our programs, from including people of all gender and sexual identities to including people of all abilities.  We want to expand our commitment to inclusion to focus on all people seeking equal rights, equal access, and equal opportunity.

Today, we can also raise our voices and let our Senators know that we support the disability rights around the world.  Tell Congress to ratify the UN Convention the Rights of Persons with Disabilities!

Olivia Kessler, a high school senior, served this past year as NFTY’s Mid-Atlantic Region Social Action Vice President. In October, on The International Day of the Girl, the United Nations recognized her for her hard work and outstanding commitment to social justice. In the upcoming year, she will serve as the NFTY North American Social Action Vice President while attending Dickinson College in Carlisle, Pennsylvania.

The Spread of Polio: A Devastating Development

Earlier this week, the World Health Organization released a statement on the meeting of the International Health Regulations Emergency Committee concerning the international spread of wild poliovirus.  Nine affected countries (Afghanistan, Cameroon, Equatorial Guinea, Ethiopia, Israel, Nigeria, Pakistan, Somalia and the Syria) participated in the informational session of the committee meeting.  After discussing the information provided by these nine countries, the Committee advised that the international spread of polio to date in 2014 “constitutes an ‘extraordinary event’ and a public health risk to other States for which a coordinated international response is essential.”  This is the first time that the World Health Organization has declared the spread of polio an international public health emergency. Read more…