Heidi Yazdani '21
Although not talked about in the news as often as other current events, the displacement of Syrian refugees is an ongoing and constant crisis that needs to be acknowledged. The Syrian Civil War, which began in March of 2011, has forced Syrians out of their homes and into surrounding countries that treat them with contempt and hostility. Syria’s proximity to Turkey, Lebanon, and Jordan means these countries house the majority of displaced Syrian refugees. All three of these countries are in an economic crisis with major debts to be payed and extremely high unemployment rates. Due to their internal issues, Turkey, Lebanon, and Jordan are not in the right state to take on an increase in population and therefore are very unwelcoming to Syrian refugees.
Fleeing Syria does not ensure stability. Many refugees who could afford to leave Syria lived very successful lives, but now face extreme poverty and struggle to receive any form of employment, education, or even basic necessities and services. Covid-19 serves as a serious threat to people living in crowded refugee camps, and makes it almost impossible for them to access supplies such as food, water and medicine.
Two organizations working to try and relieve these circumstances are Project Turquoise and IROC. Project Turquoise is a youth committee that works with Syrian refugees mainly in Lebanon and Jordan. The youth committee hosts fundraisers, including an annual 5k and a movie night held at Politics and Prose. Project Turquoise works closely with a multi-aid program (MAPS) and educates people about the challenges of being a Syrian refugee in Lebanon. MAPS works to rebuild education infrastructure for Syrian refugees under the Lebanese government and convinces Syrian parents to send their children to school. When Syrians with doctorate degrees cannot find work in Lebanon, there is little incentive to provide an education for their child when they can be at home making money for the family. Through Project Turquoise’s efforts, the organization has raised enough money to send up to 20 refugees to college on scholarship. The youth committee continues to meet once every three weeks to discuss what they have been doing and the different ways in which they can help.
IROC was started by senior Ariana Lotfi, with the help of NCS’s Vernot-Jones family fellowship. IROC stands for Immigrant and Refugee Outreach Center and works towards empowering and assisting immigrant and refugee youth in the DC area. Before starting this organization, Ariana studied the journey of refugees from their war-torn homeland to their new lives in the US. IROC provides tutoring services, college guidance seminars, summer camps and other support services.
Millions of people have suffered from the Syrian Civil War and the Syrian refugee crisis for years, yet this constant human rights violation only gets mass media attention every few years. There are many ways to get involved, IROC and Project Turquoise being two examples. In bringing constant awareness to this crisis, this issue will gain more support and more efforts will be made to help.
Nisa Quarles ‘21, Madeline Hopper ‘21, David Donoghue ‘21
It brings the Editors-in-Chief of The Exchanged great sadness, and it brings America an incalculable sense of loss to hear that Ruth Bader Ginsburg, the second woman appointed to the Supreme Court in American history, died yesterday evening at the age of 87. Her work on women’s rights and LGBTQ+ rights earned her the affectionate nickname “The Notorious RBG,” and was heroized by many for her inspiring and indelible legacy that she will leave on America through her acts both on and off of the bench.
Ginsburg was renowned for her passionate dissents on many cases; she always stuck to what she believed was right, which earned her respect from Americans from both sides of the aisle. One such American was the late Justice Antonin Scalia. Him and Ginsburg had nearly opposite positions and records as jurists. Scalia and Ginsburg worked together in the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals, and upon being appointed to the Supreme Court, Scalia wrote about Ginsburg, “She was the best of colleagues, as she is the best of friends. I wish her a hundred years.” Throughout Ginsburg and Scalia’s time on the court, their friendship was praised as a sign of unity that crosses the lines of political opinions.
However, there may not be such unity in the Senate for the next two months. Already, debate has been struck up about whether or not the Senate will confirm the candidate that President Trump will put forth—no Senate has confirmed a Justice during the last year of a presidency since William J. Brennan in 1956, under the Eisenhower administration. In more recent memory, 2016, President Obama nominated Merrick Garland for the court March of his final year in office, but the Republican Senate strongly opposed this nomination on the grounds that an outgoing president should not nominate a Justice after the primary process has begun. Democrats disagreed, saying that the Senate should confirm the nominee that the President puts forward, regardless of the timing. That nomination ended up being unsuccessful and eventually led to the confirmation of Justice Brett Kavanaugh in 2017.
As we look forward to what will happen in 2020, here is what we know. The Trump administration will put forward a nominee, and some senators have already pledged support, while others have pledged to follow the precedent set in 2016. However, if Trump is able to garner 50 of the 53 Republican Senate votes, his nomination will likely be confirmed, as the Filibuster requiring three-fifths of Senators to agree on ending debate was removed in 2017.
Alfonso III, Fernando. “Live Updates: Ruth Bader Ginsburg Death Reactions and Tributes.” CNN, 18 Sept. 2020, www.cnn.com/us/live-news/ruth-bader-ginsburg-death-live-updates/index.html. Accessed 19 Sept. 2020.
Gstalter, Morgan. “Scalia’s Son Shares Anecdotes about Father’s Friendship with Ginsburg | TheHill.” TheHill, The Hill, 19 Sept. 2020, thehill.com/homenews/news/517204-scalias-son-shares-anecdotes-about-fathers-friendship-with-ginsburg. Accessed 19 Sept. 2020.
amy-howe. “Supreme Court Vacancies in Presidential Election Years.” SCOTUSblog, SCOTUSblog, 14 Feb. 2016, www.scotusblog.com/2016/02/supreme-court-vacancies-in-presidential-election-years/. Accessed 19 Sept. 2020.
Dear reader of The Exchanged,
As the Editors-In-Chief prepared to launch this edition of our paper on Sunday night, it just didn’t feel right that we do so without addressing the aching and hopelessness that many people in our community have felt over the past few days. 2020 has taken many beloved people from this world. It has stolen John Lewis, Chadwick Boseman, and Kobe Bryant. It has stolen 200,000 Americans who should be home preparing for the Holiday season with their family. It has stolen, or maybe more accurately, continued to steal the innocence of black and brown people and children in our country. Now, 2020 has stolen the legendary Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg from us.
Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg was a fierce advocate for women’s rights and a staunch supporter of Roe. V Wade. Justice Ginsburg fought for all women, regardless of socioeconomic status, race, or sexual orientation. There are no words we could write in this article to express what she meant to countless women in our country. As the Editors-In-Chief, we want to not only express our sympathy to those in our community who feel afraid and uncertain due to the passing of Justice Ginsburg; but we want to tell you that we feel it too. It is a scary time to be a woman in America. Even more so, it is a scary time to be a woman of color in this country, or a queer woman in this country, or an uninsured woman in this country.
But, even in darkness there is light and so the Editors-In-Chief want to leave you with a message of hope. Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg should inspire every reader of The Exchanged to unapologetically and fearlessly pave the way for true equality and freedom in this country. As Justice Ginsburg once said, ““Fight for the things that you care about. But do it in a way that will lead others to join you.”
As for the Editors-In-Chief of The Exchanged, we will join you.
Compilation by Sasha Perkins '22
Willa Spalter '21
As our country has entered a long-overdue racial reckoning this past summer, I have often found myself turning to my Jewish values and community to learn how to become a better ally and more fully understand the struggle Black people face every day in America. Tikkun olam is the Jewish commandment to repair the world and pikuach nefash is the Jewish commandment to save lives, meaning that supporting Black lives and fighting against anti-racism is intrinsically linked to one’s duty as a Jew. I initially asked myself how I can use my experience with antisemitism in America to build a tradition of solidarity. Both Black and Jewish people in this country have faced hate crimes, housing and educational discrimination, and exclusion. Yet today in America, white Jews do not face systemic, institutional oppression. We have the privilege to call on the same institutions that oppress Black Americans, so it is important that we use our history of oppression as a source of solidarity with Black people, rather than a way to absolve ourselves of complicity.
Another important component of allyship to the Black community as a Jew is to address the racism and bias in our own community, starting with dismantling “ashkenormativity”. Ashkenazi Jews refer to Jews whose ancestry traces back to Eastern Europe and ashkenormativity has become a unique form of eurocentrism that defines white Jews as the “default” jew, essentially invalidating the “Jewishness” of Jews of color. It is important that as a community we amplify the voices of Jews of color and learn from their experiences.
In our formative years spent in Jewish educational spaces such as Hebrew school and summer camps, we are taught to unequivocally support Israel. While the history and holiness of that land is integral to our religious identity, ignoring the relationship between the Israeli law enforcement and the US creates an inability to discuss police brutality and racial bias in our own communities. We were taught about the significant role the Jewish community played in the Civil Rights Movement. Jews made up a disportionate number of white protesters involved in the struggle and helped found and fund many of the most important civil rights organizations such as the NAACP. The image of Rabbi Heschel marching arm in arm with Dr. King at the March on Washington is often invoked in our education as a symbol for Jewish allyship during this time. While learning by example from these Jewish leaders is crucial as we seek ways to become better allies right now, ignoring and overlooking the US-Israeli relationship with regards to police brutality and racism effectively compartmentalizes racism in our own community, creating harmful effects.
As I seek ways to live up to the Jewish phrase “tzedek tzedek tirdof” (justice, justice, shall you pursue), unlearning deep rooted ideologies and biases in our own belief systems, acknowledging the racial issues that our community perpetuates, and using my privilege to amplify black voices, is where I have begun. I hope white Jews across America can use the high holidays to celebrate new beginnings and reflect on similar ways to support and uplift the Black community, living up to our commandments as members of this religion.