#Notinourname – Rio de Janeiro Jewish community and its crisis

Where they have burned books, they will end in burning human beings. – Heine, H. Almansor: A Tragedy (1823), as translated in True Religion (2003) by Graham Ward, p. 142

We live in sad times. Politicians rule over our Nation-States without any vision other than their own power, their continuity or their profit – in Israel, under almost a decade of Bibi as Prime Minister, or now with Trump in the US. This political trend has spread over other countries as well, an in Brazil we also suffer from it. Hate speech against the Other, the sexist threats against women, governing by creating terror, the understanding of the history through the negation of humanitarian crisis are all personified in a Brazilian Federal Deputy Jair Bolsonaro, an advocate for a military dictatorship.

A week ago, Bolsonaro was invited to address a Jewish Club. Well, the progressist part of the Rio de Janeiro community led by Zionist Youth Movements foresaw the evils he would condone. By honouring their history of fighting for social justice, they protested at the gate of the Club.

As the invitees were approaching, the protesters were chanting Jewish Songs, demanding the Shoa`s Memory and asking the Jewish Community to deny this politician a platform from which he can continue his blasphemous speech renouncing the humanitarian values that the Judaism is based upon. The protestors also acknowledged Jews killed by the Dictatorship rule in Brazil. The statement was clear, as a minority, as jews, as human beings we can not support Bolsonaro’s spiteful words.

This event caused a split in the Brazilian Jewish Community,  exemplifying the polarizing attitudes of our time – not between traditional partisan lines, but between two world views. Whether or not we see the Other, whether or not we accept that we live a humanitarian crisis and we can not get out of it just by ourselves, by our own Nation-State, by our armies. I belive we can, and must, get on the right side of history. We must create politics of trust and not fear, hope and not hate. By empowering the women, accepting refugees, understanding the damage caused by the slavery we can undue the wrongs and create a brighter future.

From the other side of the world, my duty is to share how proud I am after seeing the activists of the Zionist Youth Movements fighting for the values of our prophets. With tears after watching videos of the event, I support the use of #notinourname – hashtag created to support the protest and the protestors. After all, our Jewish Community can bring an end to the hate speech we, as a people, know too well.

About the Author
Rodrigo came to Israel to study Jewish Education after being a highschol teacher of Jewish Studies for five years in Brazil.
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