Social Justice and Young Adults

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Young adults are again calling for social justice, just as they did in the 1960s. It is a crucial issue, but sometimes the agitation is not based on a sound understanding of justice or a good analysis of the issues. Many see things in black and white, and over simplistic narratives prevail. We see this, for example, in the call for radical action on global warming. If the drastic steps proposed for handling this were implemented, millions would lose their jobs and be plunged into poverty. An international African conference of all African countries firmly opposed Western leaders seeking to impose fossil fuel restrictions. They unanimously stated that they would not support these measures since the only way out of poverty for Africa includes the use of fossil fuels. This just shows that some issues are indeed complex. Saving the earth for future generations is a justice issue, but how is it to be done? Let’s look at some simpler issues in Israel.

Deuteronomy 16:20 states, “Justice, only justice you shall pursue, so that you may live, and you shall take possession of the Land.”

As I note in my book Social Justice, the correct definition of justice is crucial if we are not to slip into ideas of Marxist equality. The pursuit of justice is a manifestation of love. It is the pursuit of an order of righteousness where the greatest number can fulfill their God intended good destiny. It does not mean sameness of income or leveling in society. It does mean opportunity for all.

It is wonderful to see Messianic Jews in Israel pursuing justice issues. There is an institute of justice founded by a Messianic Jew. There is engagement on the issues of abortion, human trafficking, drug addiction and more. Some of our congregational members in Jerusalem are so engaged. One has started dental clinics for the needy.

If we did not have faith in God’s ultimate judgement, the issue of politics and justice would be depressing. Why do governments tend to ignore justice issues if they are not intensively pressured? Sadly, it is because politicians seek to spend funds for constituents who keep them in power. One example of this is justice for Arab Israelis, those who are full citizens of the state of Israel. They do not get their full, fair share of funds for hospitals, schools, infrastructure (such as road development and maintenance) and police protection. Why not? Because most are not Zionists (that is, in favor of the State of Israel), and their vote is not keeping government coalitions in power. In addition, funds are always stretched, and no sector of society seems to be funded adequately these days.

In the second recent election, the center party (Blue and White) resisted including the Arab party in order to form a government coalition, while the right party (Likud) refused to enter a coalition without the ultra-orthodox parties. Now we are about have a third election within twelve months.

There have been protests by the Arab Israelis, but so far no commitments to change the reality on the ground. If Israel did treat this population justly could they win them over as a force against Arab radicalism? Is this also an issue for engagement for Messianic Jewish justice warriors, whether in prayer and relationship, and beyond?

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