HEADLINES: Racism, Violence, Discrimination, Women, Refugees
I hardly know where to begin and certainly not where to finish as I look over the daily news headlines. Our media is filled with the latest stories as well as ongoing developments from yesterday’s news. It's always unpredictable on one level, but the trajectory is set to the right and is gaining traction in our complex, conflicted region.
Seeking peace, and bringing a just end to conflict are retreating dreams in this time. It's all about power to hold positions along with oppression of the weak.
A few of the headlines from this week (and as I write this, it’s only the beginning of the week so I wonder what’s next):
- New evidence shows the government's adviser on international law said in 1968 that demolishing terror suspects' homes violates the Geneva Convention. We knew it all along. Demolishing a family home is illegal, but we do it with impunity, depriving innocent family members of their homes.
- Prime Minister Netanyahu has put a minister who opposed a Palestinian state in charge of talks with the Palestinian Authority. This minister has never publicly supported a two-state solution, and has even expressed his support for West Bank settlement construction. How, I question, can the government expect a person who supports settlement construction in the West Bank to engage in profitable talks with a government that claims the land on which the settlements are being rapidly expanded?
- Western Wall gender barriers stop women reading from Torah. We still have gender barriers when it comes to prayer. In the public place of the Western Wall that’s a legacy for all Jews, Jewish women cannot publicly read from a Torah scroll. This honor is reserved for men.
- Following up on the recent demonstrations of Ethiopian Israelis against racism and discrimination, hundreds of members of Israel's Ethiopian community gathered in central Tel Aviv to protest discrimination. This is something that won’t easily disappear. After all, there is quite an entrenched history of racism and discrimination in Israel. It's always been the “the Arabs” and now its Jew against Jew.
- Israel’s new Justice Minister is one of the originators of the “nation-state bill” that aims to turn Israel’s democratic values into unwanted subordinates of its Jewish identity. She has declared her intention to promote a major piece of legislation, her own proposal that is known as the “NGO bill,” which would limit donations received by human rights groups and other left-wing organizations. Is it possible for a person with this mentality to seek justice for all the citizens of her country? Justice seems absent from her values.
Our neighbors in this region are also prominent in our daily news reports. I’ve selected a few reports from the past few days.
- Refugees continue to flee Iraq. 25,000 people fled the Iraqi city of Ramadi after it was attacked by Islamic State militants and most of them headed towards Baghdad. This ongoing human tragedy has become “old news,” but it continues unabated.
- A Turkish singer was shot in the head and critically wounded in the latest high-profile attack on a woman in Turkey. Worldwide crimes against women are rising.
- Egypt is expecting increased sexual violence against women following the sentencing of former President Morsi. Any excuse, it seems, is sufficient to attack women.
- Saudi Arabia is advertising for eight new executioners, recruiting extra staff to carry out an increasing number of death sentences, usually done by public beheading. No special qualifications are needed for the jobs. This advertisement was posted on the civil service jobs portal. Already this year there have been close to 100 beheadings in Saudi Arabia. And we thought it was ISIS in Iraq and Syria…
Tomorrow and next week the news will be little different from what we read today. Still I continue to read, keep abreast of the events and trends, turning them to prayer for this divided land and conflict ridden region.