Humans of the Year

The JTA staff has published “In the spirit of the holiday season, … its annual ode to the non-Jews who helped write the Jewish story this past year.” ((JTA Staff, “Gentiles of the Year 2012,” JTA, 28 December 2012.))

I’m quite uncertain about the practice of 0.65 percent of the world’s population ((Aaron Kalman, “Global Jewish population grows by 88,000 over past year,” Times of Israel, 9 September 2012.)) determining who outside of them is to be singled out as a “Gentile” of the year.

I never call myself a Gentile, and I’d prefer if other people not refer to me in a way I do not wish to be identified. Human is sufficient for me. I am a human just like every other member of Homo sapiens. I see no need to separate myself out. Admittedly, this poses a bit of a logical conundrum because my inclusive preference has already, in essence, separated me from those who wish to separate themselves from others. Other physical and behavioral traits will also allow others to categorize me relative to other humans. This is true. Despite all this, I remain human and so does every other person: Muslim, Jew, Hindi, Arab, European, Chinese, White, Black, Green, Blue, gay, old, young, female, male, etc.

Eleven individuals were selected by the JTA staff on the basis of what they are not: they are not Jews. They were also selected on the basis of how they served Jewish interests.

To become a “Gentile of the year” all French-born choreographer Benjamin Millepied had to do was marry one of Hollywood’s most fetching actresses — Natalie Portman. Obviously the bar is quite low for Gentiles to ingratiate themselves with JTA staff.

Actress Claire Danes just had to do her job, acting in the Showtime series Homeland, “an adaptation of an Israeli TV show,” part of which was filmed in Israel.

The deputy speaker of Hungary’s parliament, Istvan Ujhelyi, took a stand that was rightful and public. He showed solidarity with the country’s Jewish community against extremist right-wingers. One wonders, however, about the plight of the comparatively more downtrodden Roma in Hungary. Which politician will take a stand for them?

“NBC sportscaster Bob Costas took it upon himself to remember the slain athletes and coaches,” writes JTA. What kind of person only shows concern about certain slain people? Has Costas ever publicly held a moment of silence for the dispossessed Palestinians? Did he hold a moment of silence for the victims of Zionist Israel’s massacre of Gazans? Does Costas’s public silence to the murders of Palestinians (fellow humans) make him worthy of being singled out as a Gentile of the year?

Newt Gingrich, who calls Palestinians an “invented people,” was also singled out since he “stood his ground, however, saying he supported a negotiated peace but that the onus was on the Palestinians.” What kind of topsy-turvy world is it in which the dispossessed, the occupied, the oppressed have the onus for peace placed upon them by the dispossessors, occupiers, oppressors?

Singer Chaka Khan is a Gentile of the year for “raising $14 million to support the well-being of Israeli soldiers.” These soldiers are the lethal force of the dispossession, occupation, and oppression. Singer Stevie Wonder saw fit to back out of the concert benefiting occupation forces; Chaka Khan decided otherwise. For this she is singled out by JTA.

British tabloid reporters Brian Flynn and Ryan Parry proved “it’s never too late for justice.” They helped nab a suspected war criminal Ladislaus Csizsik-Csatary, 97, implicated in Jewish deaths during World War II. I share no sympathy for war criminals, and there is no statute of limitations on war crimes. That is something Israeli war criminals ought to bear in mind.

JTA considers Mohamed Morsi worthy of singling out for the importance he has and will have for Israel. Barack Obama is an important figure for Israel as well. Strangely enough, arch-Zionist collaborator Mahmoud Abbas was not “honored” as a Gentile of the year.

Special praise, however, was bestowed upon Canadian prime minister Stephen Harper:

an unabashed Israel supporter is an understatement. In the last few months, Harper has shuttered Canada’s embassy in Tehran, listed Iran as a state sponsor of terrorism, personally pressured Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas (unsuccessfully) to drop the Palestinians’ bid for statehood at the United Nations and signed a series of defense pacts with Israel. Israeli President Shimon Peres has called him “an extraordinary friend.”

Yet Harper is extraordinarily biased against Palestinians. That is not surprising, as Harper also takes a strongly colonialist line against First Nations in Canada.

Couldn’t JTA come up with a worthier list from 99.35 percent of the planet’s population?

I am not much for lists of personalities. However, if I were to draw up a list of people, I would refrain from singling out a specific segment of humanity. First, I would attempt to determine what special traits should make people worthy for singling out on a list. I submit that those who dedicate themselves or sacrifice themselves for the good of the greater humanity are worthy of recognition.

I propose the following list of humans to recognize. No particular ranking is meant to be imparted, and the list is not to be considered exhaustive:

• peace activists
• anti-racists
• anti-poverty activists
• supporters of the dignity of labor
• environmental activists
• resistance movements
• Indigenous rights activists
• anti-imperialists
• supporters of LGBTQ rights
• justice/prison rights activists
• women’s rights supporters

There are many people toiling on behalf of others less fortunate in the world. It, therefore, seems remiss to focus on any one or a few persons. Ultimately, it is the mass of humanity that determines what kind of world we all live in. Apathy, inactivity, and insouciance are enemies of a Brave New World for which there are repercussions. Such surrender is very much partially to blame for why the world is beset by war, killing, massive inequality in income and wealth, resource exploitation for private profit with nary a regard for the wider public’s use and enjoyment of the environment, oppression, as well as other social injustices. Consequently, it is a must for a society inclined toward progressivism to cultivate the desired traits among the people that lead to the desired world.

Kim Petersen is an independent writer. He can be emailed at: kimohp at Read other articles by Kim.