Last year, I shared the story about two students who spontaneously wrote a speech for the flustered and unprepared non-Jewish delegate from Israel at Model UN.  This year, one of those students and the Jr Head of Model UN at TCW, Josh Benjamin, challenged the Model UN organization.  Of all the burning issues taking place in the world today, the organizers picked Islamophobia.  Josh questioned MUN’s priorities, and I proudly share his brave, articulate, and respectful inquiry below and its response.

Here’s what Josh had to say:

To whom it may concern,

I am curious to know why combating Islamophobic violence is number one on the topics for the UNHRC.

While Islamophobia is an issue, in the US for example, there are roughly four hate crimes against Jews for every hate crime against Muslims. So maybe we should discuss combating global antisemitism instead. Additionally, Jews are persecuted in Muslim countries and there is a mass exodus of Jews from Europe due to the large amount of antisemitism happening there.

Millions of people are oppressed by tyrannical regimes in the Arab world, Africa and Cuba. Women are treated with the same respect as cattle in Saudi Arabia, gays are thrown off the roof of high rise buildings in Iraq, but somehow Islamophobia is the topic of discussion.

How many Muslims are killed around the world because of Islamophobia compared to Jews and Christians?

Additionally, there are no topics on fighting global anti-semitism, persecution of Christians and minorities like Yezidis, radical Islamic terrorist groups, and rogue nations.

I heavily urge SOMA to rethink your topics to something more appropriate for today’s world.

Thank you, Josh Benjamin

 

Josh received this response:

At SOMA, there are only a limited number of issues which we can address each year. For our 2016 conference, we sought to select areas of discussion that were topical and pertinent, and would result in fruitful discourse with a variety of perspectives. Given the concerning global rise of Islamophobia that has been exacerbated in recent months, we find that the issue of Islamophobic violence is more than relevant to our world, and should be considered in our global dialogue. You are free to disagree; in fact, many nations do. This is exactly the kind of variety of perspectives we encourage at SOMA, and which are the goal of bodies like the United Nations. That diversity of opinion, however, does not negate the severity of the problem.

Choosing to focus on one issue, does not mean that others do not exist. Our choice to have a discussion on the subject of Islamophobic violence, does not mean that anti-semitic violence, and similar acts against other religious minorities, are not transpiring. We do not, and would never, wish to minimize or diminish the horrors of such acts. However, we must ultimately make a choice to focus on certain issues for our conference, and we found that the issue of Islamophobia is certainly pressing and undoubtedly growing.

We believe that any form of undue violence against a religious minority should be considered to be an issue, and engagement in the question of which form of religious-based violence is the worst is ultimately meaningless. Religious based violence is unacceptable. Full stop. Bodies like the UN must respond to these issues, and we are proud to have this reflected within our choices for discussion topics for SOMA XLIV.

We hope that this has answered your concerns sufficiently. If you have any further questions, please do not hesitate to let us know.

Sincerely,

Owen Torrey

USG Communications

SOMA XLIV

 

Rabbi B and Josh Benjamin

 

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