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Sen. Cardin Urges Jews to Speak Up Against Bias and Injustice

12/17/2017 08:10:16 PM


Frank Solomon

To help repair the world is in the DNA of Jews, according to U.S. Sen. Ben Cardin.
"Our upbringing and culture teach us to be concerned about the rest of human beings, to help correct the wrong, and to help repair the world," Maryland's senior senator said on Hanukah Shabbat at Har Tzeon Agudath-Achim. "This is our Jewish value. This is in our DNA as a people."
"We must not be afraid of speaking up when we see evil things. There are many bad things that are happening around us, it's our responsibility to speak up against evil and bad things." Cardin was particularly vocal about human rights violations across the world and vowed that he would always be on the forefront condemning human rights abuse.
The senator quoted Elie Wiesel in emphasizing the importance of not be silent when we see injustice. "Elie Wiesel understood the terrible power of silence, the danger of not speaking out against evil," Cardin said.
Cardin was the Shabbat scholar at the Traditional synagogue on University Boulevard in Silver Spring, Maryland. He and his wife, Myrna, participated in the entire Shabbat service with about 150 members of the congregation on Dec. 16. The senator gave a short speech, and took part in a lengthy Q&A session, moderated by the synagogue's Rabbi Steven Suson. 
In his speech, Cardin, the ranking member on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, affirmed the close relationship between the United States and Israel. He urged both the Jewish community and those who support Israel not to be distracted by other issues agitated by both the ultra-right and the ultra-left. "We have to be singularly focused on keeping the close relationship between the United States and the state of Israel. For we know that the United States is the only friend Israel can count on ultimately on in the world."
Rabbi Suson asked questions on the U.S.-Iran nuclear treaty that the Obama administration implemented, the recent U.S. recognition of Jerusalem as the capital of Israel, and the rising anti-Semitism in the United States and the world. He then fielded questions from high school and college students as well as members of the congregation. Many congregants asked questions about the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions movement and why Israel seems to be doing a poor job in public relations on the world stage.
Iran nuclear treaty: Cardin said that despite the fact that he voted against the treaty, he would not support backing out of the treaty at this time. He said, however, he would want to make sure that everything Iran does is "verifiable." "If we walk away from the treaty, we will lost our leverage," he said. "And Iran will most likely continue to develop its nuclear capability and, in a few years, have nuclear weapons without our being able to check on the.."
Recognition of Jerusalem as the Israeli capital: Cardin said that Jerusalem "is the capital of Israel." "It has been for decades. So what is new here?" The senator, however, said the Trump administration did not use the occasion to advance the peace efforts. "It would have been much better had the administration used this opportunity to move the peace negotiations forward, but it didn't."
The BDS movement: Cardin said the movement has been co-opted by anti-Semitic movements with anti-Israeli activities. "Instead of being a forum for discussion the Middle East process, it has been turned into an anti-Israeli movement," Cardin said. "There is no place for anti-Semitism anywhere. We must not allow people to turn international events into anti-Semitism and anti-Israeli activities."
Israel's "poor" public relations job: One congregant asked why, despite the many things that Israel does to benefit the rest of the world---being always among the first to help other nations and children in need, regardless of politics, ethnicity and national origin, Israel seems to be always the bad guy on the world stage. Cardin said Israel lacks the resources to do an excellent public relations job. He said the United States must help publicize its ally's many actions that help the rest of the world. "Israel can't do it alone. We must help them."
Israel and the United Nations: Another congregant asked, given the bias of the United Nations against Israel, why the United States doesn't just walk away from the world body. Cardin said the United Nations does "many good things remarkably well," especially on humanitarian and nutritional fronts. He said that the bias situation actually has become "much better" in the last decade. "Under U.S. Ambassador Nikki Haley, things have improved tremendously along the anti-Israel front at the United Nations." He said Israel wants to be in the world body in order "to have a voice."
Sen. Cardin's appearance is the latest of a series of Shabbat scholar events at Har Tzeon. On Jan. 27, terrorism expert Mike Kraft will speak about U.S.-Israeli cooperation on counter-terrorism, especially in the United States and the Middle East.
*Frank Solomon is a member of Har Tzeon and lives in Kemp Mill.
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