You’ve heard about Hong Kong’s Occupy Central “umbrella” movement in the news, but may not know much about it and its history and its similarities to Jewish causes and Israel’s struggle as a democratic nation surrounded by a sea of others with different agenda. It is even similar to the issues faced by students at Augsburg College fighting for the right to have a Students Supporting Israel chapter.
They are all fighting for or supporting democracy, human rights and equal rights. Those who want to learn more about Hong Kong’s struggle and its ties to Jewish relations now have a chance at 2 PM on Sunday, November 2 at Adath Jeshurun to hear from Samuel Chu, who organizes members of synagogues and nonprofits, training them in practical skills they need to engage on important social justice issues of the day. Samuel also heads community organizing for MAZON: A Jewish Response to Hunger. Samuel happens to be the son of Reverend Chu Yiu-ming, the co-founder of Hong Kong’s umbrella democracy movement.
Samuel recently returned from Hong Kong, where he spent a few weeks helping with Occupy Central. He told us “this movement demands universal suffrage – the right to vote for their leader in democratic elections beginning in 2017.” But it is a movement deeply rooted in so much more than just upcoming elections.
“There was a promise made during the turnover from British rule back to China: Hong Kong was not going to only maintain its democracy and free press and intellectual freedom, but really given a chance to govern itself,” he said recently in an interview for Free Speech Radio News. “That has always been the key demand and when, on August 31st, when the Chinese government announced that they were not going to allow an open election.– in fact they came up with this sorta sham election format where their people were going to only approve the candidates who “love” the country and then they let people vote on those candidates… that really became the rallying cry.”
So what is being demanded now by the students, by Occupy Central, and really on a united front for movement in a protest this big, is the election for 2017 [and] as a part of the opening up of the political reform that they’ve demanded, it requires also the resignation of the current government.
For Hong Kong’s students and the Occupy Central movement, this is very much about the erosion of free press, intellectual freedom, and a long growing economic inequality. This is the type of cause typically supported by Jewish organizations.
“People have been experiencing and struggling with this for the last two decades,” says Samuel, “and I think that you have seen now the boiling point, the tipping point of people saying that, ‘You know what this is important not just because we want self determination to select and elect a leader, but because that decision is gonna impact the kind of economic equality, the kind of civil rights, the kind of freedom of press and academic freedom that you’re going to see.’
So stop by Adath Jeshurun on Sunday to hear Samuel Chu. It is a free event with refreshments, but reservations are strongly recommended. RSVP online here. Even come a little early, or stay a little later and catch 1500 pieces of Israeli art that are on a traveling exhibit at Adath from the Safrai Gallery in Jerusalem.