Genocide and Resistance


February 19, 2008

By Danny Dunn

This morning, we began with Shira (Rabbi Shira Milgrom, one of the study tour's scholars-in-residence) teaching us the first two chapters of Exodus, discussing how both genocide and resistance develop through history. Shira explained that the first stage is amnesia and suppression of cultural memory. The second stage is alienation and making the two people separate. This instills fear in the general population.

To understand the resistance to genocide, Shira discussed the birthing experience specifically the birth of Moses. The women in the story were the heroes: Pharaoh's daughter, the midwives, and Moses' mother.

The Platform for Labour Action, an AJWS grantee, protects the rights of the vulnerable, especially in the workplace. Just like the story of Moses, where at the darkest moment the brightest light was shown, so also with the work that PLA does. PLA works with youth at risk, including children who are domestic workers, and literally saves them and creates hope out of their despair.

PLA discussed their challenges, challenges to Ugandan society as a whole: poverty, lack of resources, lack of government programs, low household incomes, HIV, armed conflict, gender discrimination, orphans, unemployment, low education levels, low functional skills, and inequality between services in rural and urban areas. It felt almost like reading the plagues in the Haggadah, except for the fact that this is today and it is happening in Uganda.

The genocide lies in these challenges, in the spread of poverty and disease. The resistance comes from the 22 grassroots organizations that AJWS supports in Uganda, which give hope where there is despair, and give honor and training and save lives. Perhaps our aid is also a form of resistance.