In solidarity with the truth in Minsk

Albert Kengerli after release from detention in Minsk credit: Dimitry Shemetkov via Jewish News
Albert Kengerli after release from detention in Minsk credit: Dimitry Shemetkov via Jewish News

Many of us remember the Soviet Union.

The newspaper they published that we regularly heard about was пра́вда – Pravda – it translates as truth.

All news we read is open to distortion. It may tell just one side of the truth. It may be an exaggeration. It may be propaganda, much was in пра́вда. It may be fake news. Пра́вда could rarely claim to be a place of truth.

Many years ago I was in Seoul and staying at the hotel Lotte and as I was going about my work I get a worried call from London, to say that all over the news in UK was coverage of a bomb going off, opposite to my hotel at an American Embassy building. But in Seoul, across the road, life was going on as usual. Sure something had happened across the road. A few emergency vehicles. One window looked smashed. But with camera only on the building they could paint a very different picture. The BBC and CNN cannot always claim to be a place of пра́вда. Truth.

Fast forward. London Jewish Forum have been getting concerned calls about twitter postings of Palestine adverts on buses. On investigation they are all fake. Photoshopped.

Screenshot of photoshopped image from Palestine Action

Not sure why or for who it works to pretend you are campaigning for Palestinians but if it upsets a few maybe they feel vindicated. Twitter is not a place of пра́вда. Truth.

So this is maybe why I was moved so much by the greater truth we could see in the story of Artur Raisky and of the Kenherli brothers. Their arrest, detentions and treatment gave more validity to other reports. As Netzer Belarus people it personalised it.

Knowing Rabbi Grisha Abramovich I could validate and truth-check, I could join them through facebook in their Friday night service, in their shabbat of solidarity.

This is closer to truth.

Through Facebook I could read of the financial needs and make a small donation. We can all do something when we hear bad things. This is closer to truth. And when Albert Kengerli was released last night the picture was a good truth.

I don’t know the story of why my Great Grandfather left Minsk in the 1890s. I do know the history of the Soviet Jewry campaign of the 1970s and 1980s and was involved.

I also know how our communities across the former Soviet Union were rebuilt though many left for Israel, Germany or the USA.

I supported the formation and building of LimmudFSU.

As we watch coverage of news from Belarus I am hoping the lens of the Minsk Reform Community led by Rabbi Grisha Abramovich will continue to be a lens of truth and I urge our communities across the reform and liberal world to show solidarity by watching their services, by supporting their work and I pray for the safety and freedom of all in Belarus.

Let us play our role in solidarity with truth.



About the Author
Andrew Gilbert is a London Jewish Forum Trustee
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