People hold hands to form a human solidarity chain at Place de la Republique near the site of the attack at the Bataclan concert hall in Paris, November 15, 2015. .
(photo credit: REUTERS/PASCAL ROSSIGNOL)
Elie Wiesel said, “To remain silent and indifferent is the greatest sin of all.” Indeed!
We live in a time in world history when the rise of populism and nationalism have combined to seemingly dull the senses of thinking human beings who now accept every change in values as the “new normal.”
It is now 74 years after the end of World War II. That war, in which 75-80 million people lost their lives (i.e. fully 3% of the world’s population), was thought to have taught humanity a lesson that democracy and freedom needed to be guarded at all times, lest they disappear in the blink of an eye. Yet today, in almost every corner of the world, we see freedom eroding as nationalistic leaders take power and move their countries toward dictatorships.
Slowly but surely we are witness to human rights being trampled, justice being observed in the breach and democracy on a downward spiral.
Elie Wiesel yet again: “It all happened so fast. The ghetto. The deportation. The sealed cattle car. The fiery altar upon which the history of our people and the future of mankind were meant to be sacrificed.”
And it is all happening once again, so fast that it blurs the mind.
• A 13-year-old is held in jail in Saudi Arabia without charges or an attorney until he is 18 so that now he can be tried as an adult and found guilty and then, presumably, beheaded as is the custom there. And for what? For holding an anti-government sign at a rally when he was just a kid. And the world is silent.
• A newly minted minister of justice in Israel makes his first public statement saying that he does not feel he has to be bound by all of the decisions of the courts in Israel and remains in office. And there are no demonstrations against such a statement by the person responsible for enforcing the court’s decrees, nor is he removed from his position.
• The president of the United States tells a reporter, in clear violation of federal election laws, that he does not have to report to the FBI possible interference in local elections by a foreign government and he is then allowed to partially walk back that statement. This, even though everyone knows he really meant what he said and it is what he believes, the law be damned.
• The US Congress issues subpoenas to the Executive for documentation it deems necessary for its oversight work and the Executive orders those subpoenaed not to comply. And the populace is silent.
Every one of these examples chips away a bit more at the freedom that was won in so costly a manner 74 years ago.
Ronald Regan said, “Freedom is never more than one generation away from extinction. We didn’t pass it to our children in the bloodstream. It must be fought for, protected and handed on for them to do the same.”
We human beings have ceased being vigilant. We accept every change as the new normal where we should be kicking and screaming about how we will not accept the actions of those who attack our freedoms in such a cavalier manner.
Therefore, from now on, I will not be silent. I will write regularly about the challenges to our freedom that are going on around us and urge those who read these pieces to act to protect those freedoms.
Silence in the face of such threats enables those who would take away our freedoms to continue their negative work. We have learned from history how the lack of vigilance can lead to utter destruction. We must not, we cannot, we will not let that happen again. Vigilance is the key to our survival and the antidote to the actions of those who would disempower us. The future, our future, is indeed in our hands. We need to use them for good! The writer has lived in Jerusalem for 35 years and is president of Atid EDI Ltd., a Jerusalem-based business consulting group and is a former national president of the Association of Americans & Canadians in Israel.
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