More than 300 American rabbis and cantors recently called on Israel to stop selling weapons to Myanmar (formerly Burma).
The reason? The country’s ethnic cleansing of its Rohingya people. Hundreds of thousands of Rohingya are suffering in unspeakable conditions, all imposed by Myanmar, and all for no reason. Rohingya are driven from their homes. In fact, their homes are burned to the ground. These refugees — by now, hundreds of thousands of them — are denied basic human services, such as food and toilet facilities. Families are separated. Many have died.
The persecution of the Rohingya reminds us of the Armenian genocide, which was also accomplished through forced exit from homes and long marches.
Myanmar is Buddhist. The Rohingya are Muslim. Buddhism is not normally a religion one associates with persecution. But there it is.
The statement by 302 rabbis and cantors said:
“Our commitment to ‘Never Again’ compels us to take action to protect today’s victims of ethnic cleansing. In this season of teshuvah, when we recommit to being our best selves, we call on the State of Israel to join us in teshuvah for arms sales to Burma, and both the US and Israel to end all military training activities.”
Teshuvah for past arms sales presumes that Myanmar has engaged in ethnic cleansing before the present moment. However that may be, Myanmar is clearly imposing terrible suffering on masses of people at this time simply because of their religion. No one, including Israel, should participate, even indirectly, in this human travesty.
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