My Human Rights Wish List For Hanukkah
George Floyd, pandemic, contentious presidential elections, broken political and social discourse. These fractures, divisions, distrust and hate that pervade so much of our nation in 2020 continue unabated with no light in sight at the end of the proverbial tunnel.
Below are my wishes for the eight lights of Hanukkah this year. They are inspired by the late Simon Wiesenthal’s powerful reminder: “Freedom is not a gift from heaven, it must be earned every day.” By focusing on human rights, perhaps we dispose with the name-calling and vicious sound bites and tweets and begin reassembling bipartisan coalitions that can truly make America great again:
- China Human Rights: It is clear that the Biden Administration will forge its own policies vis-à-vis an ascending China. However, it is crucial that the administration as well as US companies – especially Apple – directly address the plight of the Uighurs and demand the release of Hong Kong democracy advocates. Failure to demand changes in Beijing’s policies will only further embolden their draconian policies that are crushing the human dignity of millions.
- Anti-Semitism (Domestic): Appoint a special FBI task force to help bring down the mind-blowing statistic that fully 60% of all religious-based hate crimes in the US last year targeted Jews!
- Anti-Semitism (Global): President-elect Joe Biden and his designated Secretary of State Antony Blinken should confirm current Secretary of State Mike Pompeo’s declaration that BDS (the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions movement against Israel) is anti-Semitic. Biden should announce the next State Department envoy on anti-Semitism immediately. The current Congress should pass full funding of that office for next year to ensure the combating of anti-Semitism abroad. The State Department’s focus on global religious freedom as fundamental human rights should continue.
- Iran: Throughout the presidential campaign, Biden said he would bring America back into the Iran nuclear deal, a move that many Americans, including this writer, oppose. Nonetheless, should that become policy in January 2021, the US, together with the Europeans, should demand that a renewed nuclear deal must be linked to an end to Tehran’s active terrorist infrastructures in Europe, and a halt to state-sponsored Holocaust denial and Ayatollah Ali Khamenei’s genocidal threats to Israel.
- Palestinians: Ramping up ties and support for the Palestinian Authority (PA) must be linked to an end to the PA’s policy of pay-to-slay Jews. Depending on how many Jews were murdered in each attack, the more than 4,000 incarcerated Palestinian terrorists and their families receive anywhere from $400 to $3,500 per month – three times the average salary of Palestinian workers. President Barack Obama gave the PA $300 million to $400 million. President Biden can link renewed aid to stopping this barbaric practice. In fact, the Taylor Force Act, passed by Congress after a US citizen was murdered by a Palestinian terrorist, makes any such aid illegal if the PA’s pay-to-slay continues.
- United Nations: The US should stay out of the UN Human Rights Council – many of whose key members are the global Who’s Who of human rights abusers. The US should not re-fund the United Nations Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA) unless and until it changes its anti-Israel, pro-terrorist, anti-peace curriculum.
- Safeguarding Religious Freedom: The State Department under Pompeo highlighted the plight of endangered and targeted religious minorities around the world. With the latest attacks against Copts in Egypt and Christians in Indonesia, America should have a bipartisan commitment to seeing to it that people should have the right and expectation that they can leave their homes on a Friday, Saturday or Sunday, pray in their house of worship and return home without fear of harassment, discrimination, violence or worse.
- Terrorism in Africa: We should stand up for targeted Christians in Nigeria. Terrorists invoking Allah – ISIS in Africa and Boko Haram – are targeting that religious group in Africa’s largest nation. Over 100 innocent Christians and Muslims were brutally murdered by Boko Haram in one attack on a village in the Northeast of Nigeria this past week. With the world’s 10th largest oil reserve, an inept government and widespread corruption, along with one million children on the streets – potential recruits for ISIS 2.0, the West has the moral responsibility and geopolitical muscle to stop this genocide. We don’t need another Darfur or Rwanda or a 21st century base in Africa for another 9/11.
The legacy of Hanukkah is that God renews the Light when people are ready to pick up the torch of freedom. How each of us speaks and acts in the coming months, will dictate whether and when we will bask in that Light again.