Don’t Blame the Children

The three episodes I am introducing in this post happened in three different times, places and situations.  But they have one thing in common: they deal with the education of young people. Bear with me for a few moments as we walk through this important issue together

The first item is titled “Muslim Cleric Praises Tsarnaev Brothers As Models For Muslim Children.” It advises young Muslims to follow the example of the two brothers who executed the Boston Marathon tragedy, justifying their act by claiming that Muslims are under attack by America in their own homelands. For the record, there ARE Muslims who deplore the Boston Marathon bombing and fatwahs have been issued against it. But when a meeting was called in Canada by a group that is opposed to such violence, only 24 people showed up.

In the second item, Yair Lapid, currently the finance minister of Israel and the son of Tommy Lapid, a Holocaust survivor from Hungary, speaks before the Hungarian Parliament. He recounts his father’s life story, and the story of the demise of the Hungarian Jewish community with active cooperation of the population in the six months following the occupation of Hungary by the Nazis.

The third item is called “The Mandate Video” and makes the case for Holocaust education in Pennsylvania schools. Only two college students out of 31 asked about events that took place during World War II and the Holocaust were able to answer coherently, and those two both attended high school in states where Holocaust education was a mandatory element of the curriculum.

Hitler indoctrinated young people in Nazi Germany, conditioning them to believe in the superiority of the Aryan race, and the idea that all other races were subhuman. The result was the Holocaust. Some Muslims are educating their young to view all non-Muslims in a similar fashion, and even going so far as to hold up those who act violently as examples to be emulated. In Hungary even adults whose parents lived through the time of the demise of the Jewish community needed to be reminded of those tragic events in part because of the rise of anti-Semitic parties.

These three episodes chart for us a course of action: reach out to the young. How could they possibly know about the Holocaust if they know nothing even of the historical events of World War II? We must make our young people aware to beware of any attempt to instill hateful or even intolerant thoughts. This is the least we can do. And only by such education will we have any hope of preventing future atrocities.

In my frequent visits to schools I am confronted with the question “What can we do to prevent another Holocaust?” I regret to have to reply that we are powerless to prevent the current atrocities in foreign lands but we surely can influence events in this country starting from our own neighborhoods by being involved, aware, caring, speaking up against injustice, racism and violent behavior. Before we attempt to change the rest of the world let us change our immediate world for the better. The time to start is by educating our young people starting right now!

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From poisonous language to poison gas

Daily attacks on civilians:

Pakistan: church bombings and mosques destroyed

Iraq: public gatherings, mosques, funeral processions, car bombings

Afghanistan: car bombings, assassinations, suicide bombings

Kenya: shopping mall

Nigeria: students attacked in their dormitory at night, 60 killed

Syria: bombings of civilians, women and children killed with poison gas, people maimed, homeless.  And all of this in  broad daylight.

The world: ???

All of the above is well known, but I wanted to know more about the history of poison gas. This blog is not the place to share all of my research, but the United Nations has a brief history of modern agreements on chemical weapons on their site, and if you search Google for “International agreements prohibiting the use of poison gas” you will find much more information for yourself.

Despite all of the international agreements in place, in the Middle East there is unfortunately a history of much use of poison gas. It was used in Yemen by Egypt in 1967, by Iraqis against the Iranians, Shiites and Kurds in the 1980-88 Iraq/Iran war, and now by Syria against its own people.

I wonder who these stockpiles of poison gas that were used so cavalierly against civilians were actually meant for? Were there consequences for the use of these weapons? If 188 of the 292 members of the United Nations agree that there should be no use of these weapons, why have there been no consequences?

Perhaps you, my readers, can help me answer these troubling questions.