The Jewish Report Editorial

Doing it because it is the right thing to do

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When I was incensed that an Iranian teenager, Maedeh Hojabri, was arrested for putting videos of herself dancing on social media, people looked at me quizzically. I was then so thrilled to see that people around the world supported her and I, too, wanted to do my bit.
by PETA KROST MAUNDER | Jul 12, 2018

Those people who looked at me quizzically asked why I bother. “She is Iranian and has nothing to do with you – she is not even Jewish,” was their explanation. Why care about a young teenager in Iran who has never been allowed to express her individuality publicly?

She is not allowed to actually be seen in public – or at least, not without her face covered. She is certainly not allowed to show her joy in dancing, something I love to do.

As a South African who has the right to express my feelings and views wherever I want to and to dance until the cows come home, I feel her pain. What’s more, I wish I could do something to help her and all those women who have no rights in a country with the most draconian laws pertaining to women. I also feel so lucky to live in a country where, as a woman, I have rights.

I was in awe of the Iranians who showed their support for her by posting videos of themselves dancing on social media. They were risking a great deal more than we would be.

I was so moved that even in Israel, people supported a woman in a country that would like to see the Jewish State wiped off the planet. They too didn’t see her as an Iranian or or as part of the Iranian dictatorship. They didn’t see her as a pawn in a political game, but rather, as a person who needs as much help as she can get…

It is about doing the right thing. It is not about playing political games. It is about being someone who cares. People are not politics – people are living beings.

I am not sure that those of us on the southern tip of Africa who care will make much of a difference to the lives of women in Iran or to the life of Hojabri, but I do hope that somehow she knows there is this upswell of support for her. Either way, it is about doing the right thing.

When 12 Thai boys aged 11 to 16 and their football coach got trapped deep in a cave on June 23 and were unable to get out, the world was horrified. They had gone on an outing and a sudden downpour blocked all exits to the cave they were exploring. They got stranded in the dark tunnels for nine days and were only rescued this week.

They had limited time before the air inside the cave became toxic and the monsoon rains forecast would seal off the cave until next year.

Thai authorities were racing against the clock to save these boys and they simply could not do it on their own.

The first thing that became obvious to me was Thailand, a country that is incredibly polarised by political differences, united behind the struggle to free these children.

Then the world gave their support. An Australian doctor and cave-diving specialist, Richard Harris, gave up his holiday to assist with the rescue operation. He went into the cave and stayed with the boys to monitor their health while they waited to be rescued. There were individual British, Belgian, Danish, Finnish and Canadian nationals involved in the rescue.

And countries like the United States, China, Australia and the United Kingdom got involved with the rescue.

Israel also got on board with its technology, which enabled communication with the boys and their coach, who had all taken refuge in a chamber deep underground.

The point is: politics was thrust asunder as life became way more important and people from all religions, walks of life and political persuasions got involved. It was beautiful. All the boys and their coach were rescued, although one retired Thai Navy Seal died in the operation.

Nobody in the rescue operation questioned who was trapped what religious or political views they had. They simply went in to save lives. Why? Because it was the right thing to do.

As it so often happens, when we are faced with a life-and-death situation, all differences fall by the wayside as we do what we need to do.

Why on earth do we have to wait for life-and-death situations? Why do we need to wait for people to be locked up because all they want to do is dance and show others the joy they get from it? I don’t know.

The South African Jewish community is such a caring and thoughtful group of people and genuinely go out of their way to help others in need.

Whenever we put a story in the SA Jewish Report, in which someone could do with help, they get it. We generally don’t ask for help, but those who need it always get it in bucketloads. This never ceases to amaze me.

I look around at the Jewish organisations that quietly move mountains for people in need – they don’t ask to be recognised, they just do it. Why? Simply because it is the right thing to do.

I will keep doing my best to keep on fighting the good fight – doing things because they are right. Join me…

Shabbat Shalom!


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