As Policy Director of Just Foreign Policy
, I am campaigning to end U.S. wars, like U.S. participation in the Saudi war in Yemen. When we end these wars, innocent foreign civilians like Yemeni children will be spared. I am raising funds to host and publicize a free public theater screening of "Seder-Masochism
," a film by animator Nina Paley, which critiques the traditional Passover story from an anti-war perspective.
This screening will take place on May 8 at 7pm
at the historic Virginia Theater
in downtown Champaign, Illinois. The Virginia is owned by the Champaign Park District - that is, the Virginia is owned by the public
, by us
, like the public library. There is no question that the First Amendment to the U.S. Constitution is Standing Tall at the Virginia. At the Virginia, I can question anything, and engage in "a ruthless criticism of all that exists." We will do just that on a panel immediately following the film. Seder-Masochism and Just Foreign Policy
The Passover tradition celebrates the rescue by God of Jews from slavery in Egypt. So far, so good. Slavery is bad. Rescue from slavery is good. "They tried to kill us. We survived. Let's eat." But in the traditional Passover story, in order to rescue Jews from slavery, God employs gratuitous violence against Egyptian civilians who aren't responsible for the enslavement of Jews. No explanation is given in the traditional Passover story for why a just, omnipotent and omniscient God doesn't employ means of rescuing the Jews which leave innocent civilians unharmed, or why we should celebrate gratuitous violence against innocent civilians.
When the U.S. government today emulates the God of Exodus in its actions in other people's countries, the U.S. government commits war crimes. 85,000 Yemeni children have starved to death because of U.S. participation in the Saudi-UAE blockade of Yemeni civilians. The same ideology of tormenting civilians has enabled the blockade of civilians in Gaza and economic sanctions against civilians in Venezuela, Iran, Cuba, and Syria. Thus, the consequences of celebrating the Passover "victory" without asking why civilians were unnecessarily tormented and abused isn't only about Judaism, or even only about "religion."
The ideology of "American Exceptionalism," which holds that the U.S. government is uniquely exempt from international law and norms in its foreign policy - laws and norms like protecting civilians from wars and sanctions - is enabling the persecution of foreign civilians by the U.S. government every day. Since 1945, "American Exceptionalism," a "secular" ideology, has killed far more civilians than any "religion" has.
Many Americans who resonate with the simple "rescue from slavery" characterization of the Passover story are very open to anti-war critiques. Let's try to apply that openness to the traditional Passover story - to help free our minds for more empathy for the foreign victims of U.S. government policies.
Please help me campaign for more empathy for the civilian victims of U.S. foreign policy by donating to help me show and publicize the movie Seder-Masochism
at the Virginia.
- Robert Naiman, Just Foreign Policy