YOU DO NOT SPEAK FOR ME
Recently, Robert Magid, the owner and publisher of the Australian Jewish News, a publication for which I have been a columnist for nearly a decade, wrote a piece on illegal boat people.
You can read about it here, but in summary, he called for less compassion towards illegal immigrants as they are ‘queue jumpers’, ‘none (are) facing certain death’, and some may be dangerous Muslim extremists.
Now, Mr Magid is entitled to his opinion, as regretful as I consider it to be. However, when defending his postion, he claimed that he spoke on behalf of ‘most people’ – and by that, I believe he meant ‘most Jews’. And it is this claim to which I strongly object.
Obviously not all of us Jews are like minded.
As in any community there are a variety of opinions and a variety of political views. But Jews, in general, tend to be compassionate and philanthropic. We give a great deal to our own community via various charities, and we give a great deal to the wider community as well.
Just last week, for example, I visited The Big Kitchen – a facility funded by the Jewish community which mentors incarcerated men on work-leave, and provides food for Sydney’s needy, both Jews and non-Jews alike. It made me proud.
Being charitable is part and parcel of the Jewish religion.
I’m no religious scholar, but I am well acquainted with the concept of ‘Mitzvot’ (good deeds) which are fundamental to Jewish thought. Some of these Mitzvot include loving your neighbor as yourself, being kind to strangers, and seeking and pursuing peace. Worthy goals, indeed.
However, being compassionate is also part of our heritage. Since the murder of six million European Jews in the Holocaust, Jews have been keenly aware of the plight of the oppressed and persecuted, and many – if not most – of us feel an obligation to help them.
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