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Thursday, September 25, 2014

The General Assembly and Rosh Hashannah

My neighborhood is tumultuous these days. Streets are closed and sirens are shrieking ceaselessly as heads of states and foreign diplomats are arriving in New York City for the 69th UN General Assembly.

On Tuesday I walked on Second Avenue, not far from the UN. The streets swarmed with Federal agents, NYPD cops, many UN personnel and visitors wearing their ID tags, and delegates, some of whom were interviewed by TV reporters. Nearby a group of South Koreans was demonstrating against President Park, Falun Gong members demonstrated against the Chinese government, and across the street a group of Iranian shouted slogans against the regime in Teheran. Drowned in the commotion was a lone, elegantly dressed woman in her 50s, who was carrying a big sign against Hamas, Muslim terror and Iranian nuclear arms. Not far from her stood a man holding a sign saying that the Jews control the world. Another of the many reincarnations of the infamous 1903 The Protocols of the Elders of Zion, I thought.

The next day, as I was preparing to welcome the Jewish New Year, in his inaugurating speech, UN Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon warned the world that its “fasten seat belt” lights is illuminated. The official agenda of the world meeting concentrates around the issues of the threat and barbarism of ISIL, events in the Ukraine, the spread of Ebola and climate change. But the Secretary General elaborated on additional and related threats to peace and security, including: the plight of refugees and displaced people, the spread of extremism not only in the Middle East, but also in Africa, the depletion of human rights, and more.

The fourth address that morning was President’s Obama’s “right makes might” speech. The President, too, emphasized the dangers of ISIL and spoke about the US’s leadership role in eradicating that scourge.

For the Jewish New Year we wish each other a year of health, prosperity and peace. This year, in the aftermath of the war in Gaza, and the Middle East facing the savagery of ISIL, peace is on the mind of most Jews. But the blessing we recite on the eve of the holiday that our enemies, haters, and those who wish evil upon us shall be eliminated, resonates particularly relevant to all of humanity.

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