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World silent on Aleppo says Roro

The world is silent. Read the latest from Roro

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Rolene Marks

The world is silent

The streets of Paris are silent. In London, Rome, New York, Johannesburg, Buenos Aires, Barcelona and countless cities around the world, the streets are silent. Nobody has shown up en masse to protest the genocide in Syria. The streets are devoid of people and indignation. The global streets that once teemed with angry protests against Israel for defending herself against rockets from Gaza, have fallen silent for the civilians of Aleppo who have summarily been slaughtered.

The world is silent.

In the hallowed halls of the institutions that are charged with safeguarding our world and the protection of those that cannot defend themselves, the global community of representatives are silent. There are no resolutions, no emergency sessions.

Just silence.

Perhaps there should be less attention focused on Wonder Women’s breasts and more on the genocide in Syria….

From the lofty heights of social media platforms, where many have focused a disproportionate amount of attention on drivel, the armchair pundits and generals are silent.

The movers and shakers and opinion makers from the global media have not dedicated column inches and soundbites to the civilians of Aleppo. No righteous indignation from those that command the airwaves.

Elections Trump genocide.

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Silence governs the human rights organisations.  One would expect these moral high ground practitioners to be leading the charge against the gross abuse happening in Syria but their energy is reserved for other parts of the Middle East…..

Anyone hear a peep from the BDS movement? If they really were concerned with human rights they would be front and centre.

When the leader of the free world tango’d with red lines and allowed the gas to consume tens of thousands of civilians the West was silent. Epic foreign policy failure, President Obama, epic!!

More than 310 000 Syrians have been killed and more than half the population displaced. The State of Israel, while having hostile relations with Syria, has provided humanitarian aid to civilians. While Israel maintains a policy of non-intervention, we have treated nearly 3000 civilians in field hospitals and in Israel.  IDF reserve doctors had this to say in a letter to the army chief-of-staff, in their demand to be called up to help:

We know there are security considerations, and we know there are diplomatic considerations. But there is a principle, there is a truth, and there is morality: We must demand from ourselves to be there for them,” the letter, quoted by Israeli news site 04040.

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Israeli doctor explains prosthetic leg to injured Syrian civilian (courtesy AFP)

Over 70 years after humanity’s greatest atrocity, the Holocaust, the world looked in horror and vowed NEVER AGAIN.  We debated why the railroads to Auschwitz were not bombed, why the Allied powers did nothing to stop the extermination of a third of world Jewry. Many recoiled in horror at the images of the tortured, starved and gassed and said we would never let crimes against humanity happen again.

It is ironic that next month, on the 27th of January, many will commemorate International Holocaust Memorial Day, designated by the United Nations to remember the worst genocide in recent memory. There will be many who will make speeches filled with platitudes about the importance of education and remembrance so that atrocities of this kind never happen again.

But has the world learned anything from history?

Silence has failed the six million and their survivors. Silence has failed Rwanda, Srebrenica, Cambodia and Darfur. Silence has failed Aleppo.

We cannot afford to be silent anymore. None of us in good conscience can say “but we didn’t know”.

As we reach the end of 2016, a year filled with many horrors around the world, we need to use our collective voices. We need to take to the streets and to social media. As media consumers we need to demand proper, balanced coverage. As citizens of humanity, we need to look for WAYS TO HELP

Do not make NEVER AGAIN an empty platitude – make it your resolution. No more silence.

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Rolene Marks

Who is a Zionist?

There has been a lot of debate, discussion and social media brouhaha lately over who is or what defines a Zionist.

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Who is a Zionist?

 

There has been a lot of debate, discussion and social media brouhaha lately over who is or what defines a Zionist.

In simple terms Zionism is nothing more that the yearning of the Jewish people to return to their ancient homeland. The great civil rights leader, Rev Dr Martin Luther King, was rumoured to have coined this definition of Zionism and I reckon he knew quite a bit about human rights. And he was a Zionist! And he wasn’t Jewish!!

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The reason that I am writing about this is important.

After thousands of years of being made well aware that we are unwelcome in many countries, we have returned en mass to our ancient and ancestral homeland.  The word Zion refers to those biblical times since time immemorial. It is proof that Jews have “indigenous peoples rights to the land” and in case anybody has doubt, there is antiquity being discovered every day that supports this.

Zionism is also the National Liberation Movement of the Jewish people. It is a guarantee of our rights to organize ourselves politically and assign it a name that hearkens back to our ancient roots and love for Zion. Many thought that with the realization of the modern state of Israel, antisemitism would disappear but instead it has reared its head in a new form – anti-Zionism.

I think that saying that the Jews have no right to organize themselves politically and call it Zionism is racism. And many agree with me and that is why we have a phenomenal support base that includes many Christians who work tirelessly in support of the Jewish state and Muslims, some of whom put their lives at risk to support Israel.

This has rattled some who believe that only Jews can be Zionists. It is like we belong to a secret group that requires a secret handshake and meets in a treehouse.  This philosophy is exclusionary and I find it deeply offensive.

I am a card carrying, loud spoken, flag carrying, Hatikvah singing Zionist. I don’t care much for labels or wings but take exceptional pride in the fact that our beautiful flawed democracy, The State of Israel, is brilliantly multicultural and allows for divergent opinions. Robust discussion and debate is a point of pride in a neighbourhood where you can be killed for disagreeing with the leaders or following a different religion. Are we all not heartbroken by the visuals coming out of Syria or news of Christians being slaughtered in our region?

Is Israel perfect? No – sometimes we are guilty of an epic fail or many but I believe part of being a Zionist is being able to criticize and self-correct. I believe that Zionism means you want to see an exemplary Israel. An Israel that is tolerant and welcoming and grateful for all who support her. This is dignified, this is keeping with the tenets of our founders who envisioned this. There is room in the Zionist tent for everyone – Christian, Muslim, left and right.

“The State of Israel will be open for Jewish immigration and for the Ingathering of the Exiles; it will foster the development of the country for the benefit of all its inhabitants; it will be based on freedom, justice and peace as envisaged by the prophets of Israel; it will ensure complete equality of social and political rights to all its inhabitants irrespective of religion, race or sex; it will guarantee freedom of religion, conscience, language, education and culture; it will safeguard the Holy Places of all religions; and it will be faithful to the principles of the Charter of the United Nations.”

Who are we to behave or treat our supporters differently?

One of my concerns right now as a proud Zionist is the propensity for some to say that Christians cannot be Zionists and if they are they must be on a mission to convert us. This kind of paranoia is dangerous and deeply insulting to our millions of Christian friends who support us whole heartedly. If you are strong in your identity and conviction nobody would be able to convert you anyway so please, stop with the paranoia!!!

I am proud of the many Arab, Druze, Christian and other minority groups who proudly serve in our diplomatic corps and IDF, laying their lives on the line every day for our safety. The rights of minorities while not always respected (and this must be corrected) are enshrined in our Declaration of Independence.

The world is becoming a hostile place for Zionists. Ask the students on campus who are bullied and sometimes physically threatened for their political beliefs. Or the store owners in Europe who find their shops rand sacked for carrying Israeli products. Or the travelers turned away from accommodation for being Israeli. The rise of the alt-right in the USA with their Nazi salutes and propensity for spray painting swastikas or the neo Nazis and BDS supporters in Europe or South America and South Africa has many Jews feeling afraid and isolated.

We should be opening our arms to our friends of all faiths.  Our Christian, Muslim, Hindu and other friends who march defiantly, waving their blue and white proudly, the friends who have come here to Israel to see the facts on the ground for themselves and are loudly proclaiming their support. The friends who at great cost to their safety make the case for Israel in institutions and government buildings where we have been accused of the most vile tomes.  On social media and in houses of worship, where some preach hate and incite to kill, there are others who speak of tolerance, peace and their love for the Jewish people.

To deny them entry into an exclusive club or doubt their motives is intolerant, discriminatory and downright rude. It smacks of horrible stereotypes and treatment that we have received throughout our history.

It was the dream of another great Zionist who while addressing civil rights in America in the 1960’s, voiced a sentiment that is universal and  as relevant today as it was then when he said:

“We cannot walk alone. And as we walk, we must make the pledge that we shall always march ahead.We cannot turn back.”

So if you ask me who is a Zionist, I say I am. And my arms are wide open and hands outstretched to those who say Am Yisrael Chai!

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Rolene Marks

BDS – What you need to know (concise toolkit)

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BDS – What you need to know (concise toolkit)

Dear Reader

What is BDS (Boycott, Divestment and sanctions)? What are the accusations that they level at Israel and what is their modus operandi? How do we deal with the lies and erm….BS that BDS spread?

In this very concise toolkit that I have compiled for World WIZO, we look at the various aspects of the BDS movement. There are links to sites and articles that may be helpful.

I hope this toolkit serves you.

 

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Rolene Marks

Shimon Peres 1923 -2016

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Honouring one of our greatest

He was a pioneer, and a founding father. He was both hawk and dove, warrior and peacemaker. He was an innovator and mediator. He was a Nobel laureate and visionary. He was a leader whose personal and political history was deeply woven with the story of Israel and the Jewish people.

Today Israel is in mourning. We bow our heads for our beloved Shimon Peres z”l, who has passed away at 93.  He was the last of our original founding fathers and a true icon.

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Shimon Peres z”l, was the eternal optimist, a rare quality in this world. He had transcended a decade’s long career in politics where he held many of the top portfolios in government including the office of Prime Minister twice. His relationship at times with the Israeli public was very complicated. He had suffered many political losses and at times was deeply unpopular, more so after the signing of the Oslo Accords.  He endured a lot of criticism for his role in the signing of these accords. Many had held him and Prime Minister Rabin z”l, responsible for the terror that followed in its wake.

Despite this, Peres remained ever hopeful that peace is possible in our very volatile region.

But he transcended politics and in 1996, founded the Peres Centre for peace with the intention of furthering his vision of people in the Middle East working together to build peace through socio-economic cooperation and development and people-to-people interaction.

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He was a great unifier and amongst his many accolades, received both a Knighthood from her Majesty, Queen Elizabeth II and honorary title of Sheikh by Bedouin dignitaries in the Negev for his work on behalf of the people of the Middle East.

A true Statesman, he shook the hands of Presidents and Popes, Kings, Queens and movie stars.  Every celebrity who visited, wanted an audience with our ebullient, eloquent and warm elder Statesman. His love for technology was legendary and I sheepishly admit that he was probably more proficient than I am. Who can forget his final message to the world on Facebook– “Buy more Blue and White” or his infamous job hunting clip on YouTube?

Former President Peres goes job hunting….

I was immensely privileged to meet President Peres when I participated in the Ministry of Foreign Affair’s Young Jewish Diplomats course in 2007. Hearing that young leaders had come to hear him speak, he came over to meet us. He took his time greeting all of us and shaking our hands. When it was my turn he asked in his deeply accented English that had never lost its Polish inflection “where are you from?” This was at a time when South African President Mbeki has made such sweeping statements like HIV does not cause AIDS and expressed support for Iran. I responded (trying not to giggle like a teenager at a One Direction concert) “South Africa Mr President”. After a very short exchange he was on to the next person but left a lasting impression with me who was extremely star struck.

As I write this, tributes are pouring in from all over the world as Peres continues to unite the most unlikely folk.  There will be many, many more for a man truly deserving of tribute and honour.

There will be only one Shimon Peres – and from a grateful nation who bows our head in mourning we say Thank you Mr President, for all you gave us, in the good times and bad, in times of strife and peace. May you look down on us one day as we achieve your dream – of a lasting peace.

May your memory be forever blessed.

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When two great Statesmen met…..


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