The Jewish Report Editorial

Towards respecting differences

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I would never have imagined I would be celebrating a powerful woman losing an election, but far-right populist National Front candidate in the French election, Marine Le Pen stands for everything that concerns me about where the world is heading.
by PETA KROST MAUNDER | May 11, 2017

Her inward-looking, fanatical right-wing views are frightening. She wanted to rid France of multiculturalism, ensure all French citizenship should be “inherited or merited”, she said. She is opposed to any public displays of religious belief, including men wearing kippot and women covering their heads.

She publicly denied that the French had anything to do with rounding up the Jews during the Holocaust. This was long after former President Jacques Chirac admitted their part in rounding up 13 000 Jewish men, women and children, throwing them into the Vélodrome d’Hiver, an overcrowded sports arena in Paris, before they were deported to death camps.

She is no friend of the Jews or Muslims. And, it was with interest that I notice that Jews and Muslims together opposed her campaign.

Le Pen epitomises a trend in international politics. That is one of closed-minded nationalism, where anyone who isn’t 100 per cent sixth generation from the country, shouldn't be allowed to stay. Remind you of another time and place in Europe? It does for me.

But, look to the US where President Donald Trump is not a huge fan of foreigners and demands “American jobs for American people” and makes it clear certain foreigners are not welcome in his country.

Before that, we had the Brexit vote in the United Kingdom, which stumped so many people who thought it not possible that the British would vote to leave the European Union. But, there too, this was a vote to isolate and separate. It was a vote to keep Britain that much more British. 

For me to see that the centrist, more globalist, dare I say open-minded candidate, Emmanuel Macron won in France, was a relief. I hope that this is a sign that perhaps there is a change or a shift back into realising that the world is made up of different people who all need to learn to respect and live together peacefully.

So, yes, I am glad that Le Pen failed and am concerned that she got as far as she did.

Did you know that Le Pen is a mother of three teenagers? I find it surprising because her public persona is so far from nurturing or empathetic.

Speaking about mothers - and turning from politics to something more nurturing - I want to pay tribute to the mothers of our nation.

In this edition, we take a light-hearted look at the Jewish mamas and what makes us unique and we also celebrate a few unique rebbetzins, who not only look after their families, but their congregations and their careers.

These rebbetzins, along with most Jewish people, are likely to be celebrating Lag B’Omer on Saturday night and Sunday. For me, and I am not an expert here, Lag B’Omer has a big lesson for us in respecting one another. As I understand, the 24 000 Rabbi Akiva disciples died of a sudden epidemic because of lacking love and respect for one another.

So, when is the world going to learn to love and respect each other for our differences? That goes for Le Pen, Donald Trump, Theresa May, and every single one of us.

Shabbat Shalom, Chag Sameach and happy Mothers’ Day!




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