Human Rights in Iran Education Packet 2009
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Human Rights in Iran Education Packet 2009 Human Rights in Iran Education Packet 2009 Document Transcript

  • Stand for Freedom in Iran Stand for Freedom in IranHuman Rights in IranEducational PacketDear Reader:We have compiled this educational packet in anticipation of the upcoming Standfor Freedom in Iran Rally to take place in New York City on September 24, 2009. This Packet is a JointWe learned from our forefather Abraham that we have a requirement to stand up Product of the Yeshivafor what we believe. When God was contemplating destroying the city of Sodom for University Center for theits evil behavior, Abraham protested and argued with God. If Abraham was willing Jewish Future (CJF), theto do that for an immoral society, how can we not stand up for innocent people who Center for Ethics atare suffering around the world? Yeshiva University, andQueen Esther of the Purim story was placed in a unique position of power to save the Jewish Community Relations Council of Newher people (in Persia no less!) When she hesitated to act, Mordechai admonished York (JCRC).her: “If you keep silent in this crisis, relief and deliverance will come to the Jewsanother way... but who knows if this was the reason you attained your royal Yeshiva Universityposition.” We benefit from freedoms and comfortable lives in America, but perhaps 500 W. 185th Stwe were placed in this position in order to speak out on behalf of others. New York, NY 10033“Lo ta’amod al dam rei’ekha -Don’t stand idly by the blood of your fellow.” Silence (212) 960-0041has allowed atrocities to occur throughout the generations, and it is our obligation www.yu.eduto stand up and say “Never Again.” JCRC-NYThis packet would not have been possible without the contributions and help of 70 W. 36th St. Suite 700Dr. Adrienne Asch, Rabbi Kenneth Brander, Rabbi Daniel Feldman, Rabbi Josh New York, NY 10018Flug, Hindy Poupko, Uri L’Tzedek and YUTorah.org. (212) 983-4800 www.jcrcny.orgExplore the sources below, appreciate the rich history of Social Action in Jewishtexts, and take part in our obligation to act on the world stage. Aaron Steinberg Director of the Eimatai Leadership Development Project Center for the Jewish Future, Yeshiva University ajsteinb@yu.edu www.StandForFreedomInIran.org 1
  • Stand for Freedom in Iran Stand for Freedom in IranA. Iran: A Brief OverviewA Contested ElectionOn June 12, 2009, after an unusually bitter campaign, voters went to the polls to choose a newpresident. Shortly after the last of some 40 million paper ballots was cast, the authorities announcedthat Mr. Ahmadinejad had been re-elected in a landslide. The announcement of his victory -- inwhich it was said that he had received more than 60 percent of the vote -- prompted mass protestsby demonstrators who claimed that he had stolen the election. Mr. Admadinejads main challenger,Mir Hussein Moussavi, a former prime minister, called on supporters and fellow clerics to fight theelection results.Protesters poured into the streets for the largest demonstration since the fall of the Shah. But after Iranian Humana few gestures toward compromise, the countrys supreme ruler, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, harshly Rights Abuses:denounced the demonstrations and turned loose the police, the Revolutionary Guards and thereligious militia, the Basij. Days of street battles followed, in which at least 17 people were killed,including a young woman, Neda Agha-Soltan, whose death was captured on video and became a • Women faceworldwide rallying point. Hundreds of opponents were jailed, and the protests dwindled. The discrimination, andelection was certified by the countrys Guardian Council and praised by Mr. Ahmadinejad as the women’s rights groups"freest in the world. are repressed.On Friday, June 19, after a week of large protests and skirmishes between demonstrators andsecurity forces, Ayatollah Khamanei gave an angry sermon in which he warned of violence if dissent • Authorities restrict access to the internet,continued. Over the weekend the police and the Basiji militia moved more aggressively to break up ban newspapers andrallies, using guns, clubs, tear gas and water cannons. student journals, andDetails of the street clashes, the number of deaths and the number of political opponents were prosecute journalistssketchy, as the regime cracked down on journalists and moved to block as much cell-phone, text- whose reporting they deem critical.messaging and Internet traffic as possible, though word filtered out, often through posts on Twitter.A top judiciary official later acknowledged that some detainees arrested after post-election protests • Government critics arehad been tortured, the first such acknowledgment by a senior Iranian official. A reformist cleric and arrested, often by plain-presidential candidate, Mehdi Karroubi, reported in a letter that several women and men arrested clothes officials. Someamid violent demonstrations had been repeatedly raped and abused by their jailers at one detention are detained withoutcenter. trial for long periods and are reported to have been tortured orThe Nuclear Issue otherwise ill-treated and denied access toThe countrys nuclear power program the major source of international tension, leading the United medical care, lawyersNations Security Council to impose sanctions after Iran ignored its order to halt the enrichment of and their families.uranium. In May 2007 international inspectors reported that the countrys scientists had masteredthe process of enrichment, in which uranium is concentrated to the levels needed for power • Minorities are deniedgeneration or, eventually, for an atomic bomb. economic, social and cultural equal rights.Late that year, American intelligence agencies issued a new National Intelligence Estimate thatconcluded that the weapons portion of the Iranian nuclear program remained on hold. • Sentences of floggingContradicting reports have been issued over the years stating that the Iranian government was at and judicial amputationvarying levels of preparedness to produce a nuclear bomb, although it is clear that Irans intentions are imposed and carriedare to have full nuclear capability in the very near future. out.Even so, American officials and international inspectors are concerned that Iran has made -Amnesty Int’lsignificant progress in the three technologies necessary to field an effective nuclear weapon:enriching uranium to weapons grade; developing a missile capable of reaching Israel and parts ofWestern Europe; and designing a warhead that will fit on the missile.Source: Compiled from New York Times www.StandForFreedomInIran.org 2
  • Stand for Freedom in Iran Stand for Freedom in IranB. Jews and Non-Jews UnitedYalkut Shimoni - Genesis 1:13 “Injustice anywhere is ‫התחיל לקבץ עפרו מד פנות העולם אדום שחור לבן ירקרק. אדום זה הדם שחור אלו‬ a threat to justice ‫הקרבים ירקרק זה הגוף. ולמה מד פנות העולם שאם יבא מן המזרח למערב ויגיע קצו‬ everywhere. We are ‫להפטר מן העולם שלא תאמר הארץ אין עפר גופך משלי חזור למקום שנבראת אלא כל‬ caught in an .‫מקום שאדם הולך משם הוא גופו ולשם הוא חוזר‬ inescapable network ofGod gathered the dust [of the first human] from the four corners of the world - red, mutuality, tied in ablack, white and green. Red is the blood, black is the innards and green for the single garment ofbody. Why from the four corners of the world? So that if one comes from the East to destiny. Whateverthe West and is about to die, it will not be said “this land is not the dust of yourbody, it’s of mine. Go back to where you were created.” Rather, every place that affects one directly,people walk, from there they were created and from there they will return. affects all indirectly. Never again can we afford to live with theMaimonides Laws of Kings 10:12 narrow, provincial ‫אפילו העכו"ם צוו חכמים לבקר חוליהם, ולקבור מתיהם עם מתי ישראל, ולפרנס ענייהם‬ ‘outside agitator’ idea.” ‫בכלל עניי ישראל, מפני דרכי שלום, הרי נאמר טוב ה לכל ורחמיו על כל מעשיו, ונאמר‬ .‫דרכיה דרכי נועם וכל נתיבותיה שלום‬ -Dr. Martin LutherOur sages commanded us to visit the non-Jewish sick along with the Jewish sick, to King, Jr.bury the non-Jewish dead as fervently as they bury the Jewish dead, and supportthe non-Jewish poor along with the Jewish poor for the ways of peace. Behold,Psalms 145:9 states: “God is good to all and God’s mercies extend over all God’s ? R. Josephworks” and Proverbs 3:17 states: “[The Torah’s] ways are pleasant ways and all its Soloveitchikpaths are peace.” (The Rav) explained that the Talmudic and Maimonidian statementRabbi Sir Jonathan Sacks, The Dignity of Difference, p.30 mishum darkhei shalomDavid Hume noted that our sense of empathy diminishes as we move outward from “for the ways of peace” should be literallythe members of our family to our neighbors, our society and the world. translated as “for theTraditionally, our sense of involvement with the fate of others has been in inverse sake of Shalom” proportion to the distance separating us and them. What has changed is that meaning as Shalom is one  of  thetelevision and the Internet have effectively abolished distance. They have brought names of God (Talmudimages of suffering in far-off lands into our immediate experience. Our sense of Shabbat 10b), ourcompassion for the victims of poverty, war and famine, runs ahead of our capacity to helping humanity is aact. Our moral sense is simultaneously activated and frustrated. We feel that form of imitatio dei imitating God.something should be done, but what, how, and by whom? How does this approachRabbi Sir Sacks is the Chief Rabbi of Great Britain, and a renowned author/educator. of Rabbi Solovietchik change our understanding of  this? Rabbi Sacks writes that technology connects us to people suffering around the responsibility to aid Gentiles? world. What practical impact does such connectedness have on our lives? www.StandForFreedomInIran.org 3 View slide
  • Stand for Freedom in Iran Stand for Freedom in IranC. Silence is Compliance “The world is too dangerous a place toBabylonian Talmud Tractate Shabbat 54B live not because of the ‫כל מי שאפשר למחות לאנשי ביתו ולא מיחה - נתפס על אנשי ביתו, באנשי עירו - נתפס על‬ people who do evil, but .‫אנשי עירו, בכל העולם כולו - נתפס על כל העולם כולו‬ because of the peopleAnyone who can protest the sins of their household and does not, is responsible for who sit by and let itthe people of their household. For the people of their city, they are responsible for happen.”the people of their city. For the whole world, they are responsible for the wholeworld. -Albert EinsteinBabylonian Talmud Tractate Sotah 11A - ‫א"ר חייא בר אבא א"ר סימאי, שלשה היו באותה עצה: בלעם, ואיוב, ויתרו, בלעם שיעץ‬ .‫נהרג, איוב ששתק - נידון ביסורין, יתרו שברח - זכו מבני בניו שישבו בלשכת הגזית‬ ?Rabbi Chiya the son of Abba said in the name of Rabbi Simai: Three men advised Is it fair to punish[Pharaoh]: Bilam, Job and Yitro. Bilam, who counseled Pharaoh to kill Jewish someone forbabies, was punished. Job, who was silent on the matter, was punished with being passive?suffering. Yitro, who ran in protest, earned for his descendants the right to sit athonored seats in the Temple. Should the US enact federal “Duty toRabbi Yitzchak Zelig Morgenstern Rescue” laws requiring people to act on behalfSilence is not merely tolerance. Staying silent is actively partnering with the of others in need?destroyers... passive behavior, to let something die without a eulogy, or to not raise avoice in opposition, is on the level of spilling blood. Cited from She’erit Yitzchak page 126d.Rabbi Morgenstern was the 4th in a line of chassidic masters called the Kotzker Rebbe.Rabbi Abraham Joshua Heschel“The opposite of good is not evil, the opposite of good is indifference. In a free “The hottest places insociety, some are guilty, but all are responsible." Hell are reserved for those who, in times ofRabbi Heschel was one of the leading activist Rabbis of the 20th century, pioneered the American-Jewish concern for Social Action, was very involved in speaking out for civil rights, and marched with great moral crisis,Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. in Selma, AL. maintain their neutrality.” -Dante? Can you think of an instance in your life when silence gave people the false impression that you agreed with them? What could you have done differently? Why does Judaism condemn silence, and consider inaction a sin and a form of injustice? www.StandForFreedomInIran.org 4 View slide
  • Stand for Freedom in Iran Stand for Freedom in IranD. Requirement to ActMan of Faith in the Modern World: Reflections of the Rav p.75 Further Study: How extreme is ourThe Modern Jew is entangled in the activities of the Gentile society in numerous obligation to act? Do weways - economically, politically culturally, and on some levels, socially. We share in have an obligation to savethe universal experience. The problems of humanity, war and peace, political another person’s life if itstability or anarchy, morality or permissiveness, famine, epidemics, and pollution puts our own in danger?transcend the boundaries of ethnic groups... It is our duty as human beings to Log onto YUTorah.org forcontribute our energies and creativity to alleviate the pressing needs and anguish of an article exploring themankind, and to contribute to its welfare. topic of Live KidneyRabbi Soloveitchik, known as “The Rav,” was the Rosh Yeshiva of the Yeshiva University Rabbi Isaac Donation by R. Josh Flug:Elchanan Theological Seminary (RIETS), and a seminal religious figure of the 20th century in http://www.yutorah.org/Judaism. lectures/lecture.cfm/724592/ Rabbi_Josh_Flug/ Halachic_Perspectives_on_LiMaimonides Laws of Courts 12:3 ve_Kidney_Donations ‫לפיכך נברא אדם יחידי בעולם ללמד שכל המאבד נפש אחת מן העולם מעלין עליו כאילו‬ .‫איבד עולם מלא וכל המקיים נפש אחת בעולם מעלין עליו כאילו קיים עולם מלא‬ ?For this reason, one human being was created alone in the world. In order to teach The Mishnahus that a person who eliminates one human life from the world is considered to that Maimonideshave eliminated an entire world. A person who saves one human life is considered quoted for thisto have saved an entire world. law actually talks about saving “a Jewish life.”Responsa Sh’eilat Yaavetz 2:51, Rabbi Yaakov EmdenAn important person (adam chashuv) has the obligation to rescue the oppressed What do you thinkfrom the hands of the oppressor by all means available to them, whether by direct compelled Maimonidesaction or through political effort, regardless of whether the oppressed is Jewish. So to change the text to beJob praised himself saying “I have broken the teeth of evil,” and the Torah says of more universal?Moshe that “he arose and championed them,” referring to the daughters of Yitro, anon-Jewish priest.Rabbi Yaakov Emden was a noted Talmudist who lived in the 18th century, and is best known for his ?opposition to the Sabbatian Messianic movement. What was Moshe’s standingR. Ahron Soloveichik - Logic of the Heart, Logic of the Mind P.67 when he leftMoshe comes to a well where he witnesses another act of injustice. The local Egypt and arrived inshepherds drive away the shepherd daughters of Yisro so that the shepherds can Midyan? Was hewater their flock first. Here Moshe encounters a dispute between Jews and non- royalty or a fugitive?Jews, a matter seemingly so unimportant to him that we might have understood hadhe stood idly by... [but] Moshe was bent upon emulating the ways of God, one of What does Moshe’s actwhich is to defend a victim from an attacker... A Jew should always identify with the of saving Yitro’scause of defending the aggrieved, whosoever the aggrieved may be, just as theconcept of tzedek is to be applied uniformly to all humans regardless of race or daughters teach uscreed. about who is an “adamRabbi Soloveichik, the grandson of Reb Chaim Brisker, was a renowned Talmudic scholar of the 20th chashuv” and thereforecentury who taught at Yeshiva Rabbi Chaim Berlin, Hebrew Theological College and the Yeshiva obligated to act?University Rabbi Isaac Elchanan Theological Seminary (RIETS). www.StandForFreedomInIran.org 5
  • Stand for Freedom in Iran Stand for Freedom in IranE. An Existential Threat?Babylonian Talmud Tractate Eruvin 45A ‫אמר רב יהודה אמר רב: נכרים שצרו על עיירות ישראל - אין יוצאין עליהם בכלי זיינן, ואין‬ ‫מחללין עליהן את השבת. תניא נמי הכי: נכרים שצרו וכו. במה דברים אמורים - כשבאו על‬ .‫עסקי ממון. אבל באו על עסקי נפשות - יוצאין עליהן בכלי זיינן, ומחללין עליהן את השבת‬ President Mahmoud‫ובעיר הסמוכה לספר, אפילו לא באו על עסקי נפשות אלא על עסקי תבן וקש - יוצאין עליהן‬ Ahmadinejad on .‫בכלי זיינן, ומחללין עליהן את השבת‬ Israel:Rabbi Yehuda said in the name of Rav: If gentiles besieged an Israelite city - youmay not go against them with weapons or violate Shabbat because of them... In “"This terrorist andwhat case was this said? When they came for financial reasons. criminal state (Israel) isBut if their intention was to kill people, you may go against them with weapons and backed by foreignviolate Shabbat. But if they attacked a neighboring city, even if they are just seeking powers, but this regimestraw, you may go against them with weapons and violate Shabbat. would soon be swept away by the Palestinians."? Why would the Jewish people need to take such detailed considerations "I warn you to abandon before defending themselves from attack? the filthy Zionist entity, which has reached theWhat is so dangerous about the instability of a neighboring city that compelled the end of the line. It hasRabbis to compare it to a warring nation set out to kill? lost its reason to be and will sooner or later fall. The ones who still support the criminalPM Binyamin Netanyahu, March 31, 2009 Zionists should know that the occupiers days“The Obama presidency has two great missions: fixing the economy, and preventing are numbered. …Iran from gaining nuclear weapons. Accept that the life of Zionists will sooner or“You don’t want a messianic apocalyptic cult controlling atomic bombs. When the later come to an end."wide-eyed believer gets hold of the reins of power and the weapons of mass death,then the entire world should start worrying, and that is what is happening in Iran. "Our nation has no problem with other“How you achieve this goal is less important than achieving it. I think the Iranian nations, but as far theeconomy is very weak, which makes Iran susceptible to sanctions that can be Zionist regime isratcheted up by a variety of means.” concerned, we do not believe in an Israeli government or an Israeli nation.” ? Do you think a nuclear Iran would pose an Existential Threat to Israel? What, if anything, should Israel do about Iran? What are Israel’s options? www.StandForFreedomInIran.org 6
  • Stand for Freedom in Iran Stand for Freedom in IranF. Taking Action for Human RightsMichael Ignatieff, Human Rights as Politics P.288,291We know from historical experience that when human beings have defensible rights- when their agency as individuals is protected and enhanced - they are less likely to Progress is “an increasebe abused and oppressed... in our ability to seeWe have good reason to be doubtful about the preventative impact of human right more and morecodes. Yet if human rights has not stopped the villains, it certainly has empowered differences amongbystanders and victims. Human rights instruments have given bystanders and people as morallywitnesses a stake in abuse and oppression both within and beyond their borders, irrelevant.”and this has called forth an advocacy revolution, the emergence of a network ofnongovernmental human rights organizations - Amnesty International and Human -Richard RortyRights Watch being only the most famous - to pressure states to practice what theypreach. Because of this advocacy revolution, victims have gained historicallyunprecedented power to make their case known to the world. Out of Three or Four in a Room By Yehuda Amichai (translated by Assia Gutmann) Out of three or four in a room At the age of 18 One is always standing at the window. Yehuda Amichai joined Forced to see the injustice among the thorns, the Jewish Brigade of The fires on the hill. the British army and And people who left whole Are brought home in the evening, like small change. fought against the Germans in North Out of three or four in a room Africa. After 1945 he One is always standing at the window. took part in the four Hair dark above his thoughts. Arab-Israeli wars. In Behind him, the words. 1982 he received the And in front of him, voices, wandering, without language. Israel Prize for Poetry, Hearts without provision, prophecies without water and was nominated for and big stones put there And staying closed, like letters the Nobel Prize for With no addresses, and no one to receive them. Literature several times.? Who are the “four in a room?” Who is the one at the window? What is happening outside the window? What is the impact of what’s outside the window on those inside? What the response of those inside to what is happening outside? www.StandForFreedomInIran.org 7
  • Stand for Freedom in Iran Stand for Freedom in IranG. Time to Get Started!Here are some simple steps for you to get involved in advocating about Iran:1. Attend the Stand for Freedom in Iran Rally. Thursday, September 24, 2009 - 12:00 Noon Dag Hammarskjold Plaza (47th and 2nd Avenue) New York, NY www.StandForFreedomInIran.org2. Contact your Elected officials to tell them what you think about Iran. Find contact information for the President, Vice President, your Congressman, Senators, and State Governors: www.usa.gov/Contact/Elected.shtml3. Write a Letter to the Editor to your local Newspaper. • Write clearly; stay short and to the point. • Make reference to a previous related article published in the paper. • Remember that no newspaper is too small. Try the local weekly paper. New York Times - letters@nytimes.com Los Angeles Times - letters@latimes.com Washington Post - letters@washpost.com Wall Street Journal - wsj.ltrs@wsj.com4. Share your thoughts about Iran on Social Networking sites. • Post messages on your Facebook page. • Tweet about Human Rights on Twitter. Iranian Protesters used Twitter to get the word out when the Iranian government blocked the newspapers. • Search for blogs about these issues, and comment on them5. Share this educational packet with a friend Sometimes the most important thing you can do is spread awareness. Sit down with friends and family to talk about some of the issues related to Iran. If it helps, use this educational packet as a basis for helping people become more informed. www.StandForFreedomInIran.org 8