Who Speaks For Me

by Signe Waller Foxworth, PhD

Netanyahu says he’s going to keep bombing Gaza. Obama says he’s going to keep bombing Iraq. Will the Ferguson Police Department start bombing black communities?

I am Jewish and Netanyahu does not speak for me.

The Palestinians and people of Gaza are like the oppressed Jews trapped in the Warsaw Ghetto during World War II who resisted being annihilated by fascist soldiers. The Palestinians and Gazans speak for me as did the heroic resisters of the Warsaw Ghetto, though I was too young to know it at the time.

I am an American and Obama does not speak for me.

Leaders like Netanyahu and Obama are leading us to the gates of hell, whatever their intentions may be. The rift between such “leaders” and the people has never been more obvious.

My heart and mind are with the brave protesters in Ferguson. They speak for me. And the abuse of police power in Ferguson, Missouri, is happening here in Greensboro and other U.S. cities. The good news is we are already doing something about it in our own backyard.

The Police Accountability, Community Safety and Healing Initiative speaks for me. I support it, chest out proudly, happy to learn that a recently established Interim Citizens’ Police Review Committee is preparing to hear and rule on complaints about police misconduct by Greensboro residents in September.

A statewide coalition to address police accountability is in formation, with Charlotte, Durham and Fayetteville on board. Representative Rodney W. Moore will be introducing a bill in the State Legislature to stop the practice of racial profiling and to empower cities to give subpoena power to their citizens’ police review boards.

If all this is news to you, please do not choose to remain ignorant. A good place to start to become informed is at www.belovedcommunitycenter. org. Dedicated to building a beloved community in the tradition of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., the Beloved Community Center of Greensboro continues to speak out tirelessly against the culture of corruption and double standards prevailing within the local police force. And what do you think of the proposal that the people of Greensboro weigh in on the hiring of the new police chief to help ensure that the next chief understands and supports the idea that the police are accountable to the people?

The nub of the matter is that we have the opportunity, particularly locally, to enact the transparent and democratic processes that we know are fair and just. We should be accountable to each other as we work together to make our local officials and our national and international leaders accountable to those whom they are there to serve. If our leaders are truly speaking for us, then they truly must be listening to our voices too. Not merely listening but amplifying our voices.

I am proud that the Forward Together Moral Movement, our best chance to transform our society so that it is just and democratic, was birthed in North Carolina and is spreading outward. Moral Mondays and its leaders speak for me.

In today’s world, Ferguson is around the corner from North Carolina , the Middle East just down the road.

It is important to me as a Jew that people understand that the atrocities of Netanyahu are war crimes of the government of Israel; it’s not a Jewish thing, my Jewish values tell me.

I stand with Archbishop Desmond Tutu who says, “We are opposed to the injustice of the illegal occupation of Palestine. We are opposed to the indiscriminate killing in Gaza. We are opposed to the indignity meted out to Palestinians at checkpoints and roadblocks. We are opposed to violence perpetrated by all parties. But we are not opposed to Jews.” Archbishop Tutu speaks for me, as does Rabbi Michael Lerner, whose book Embracing Israel/Palestine and other writings set forth a vision and practical strategies for peace and healing in the Middle East.

People the world over, ourselves included, already have the power to change the world. We need only to overcome our fears and unite in order to use our power in a nonviolent manner to repair and transform the world.

Tikkun Olam, as Jews express it.

Archbishop Tutu says, “People united in pursuit of a righteous cause are unstoppable “¦ Goodness prevails in the end. The pursuit of freedom for the people of Palestine from humiliation and persecution by the policies of Israel is a righteous cause. It is a cause that the people of Israel should support. Nelson Mandela frequently said that South Africans would not feel free until Palestinians were free. He might have added that the liberation of Palestine will liberate Israel, too.”

And the liberation of you and me in the City of Greensboro? Oh yes “¦ !