And you shall not oppress a stranger, for you know the feelings of the stranger,
since you were strangers in the land of Egypt.
jesse owens will forever be viewed as an all-time olympic great. for some, he is the athlete who stood up to hitler in gold medal performances. others, however, view jesse owens’ greatness along side his post-olympic struggles. mr. owens, unlike today’s athletes, was unable capitalize on his well deserved fame. jesse owens’ post-olympic struggles remain a a collective memory in society. jesse owens’ complete life is worthy of study, understanding and appreciation.
kentaro kobayashi was hired to be involved with the tokyo’s olympic’s opening ceremony. his participation hit a cancel culture buzz saw. mr. kobayashi’s participation brought forth controversy. in a 1990s comedy skit, he discussed a “let’s massacre the jews game.” the olympic ceremony he was to be involved with ironically included a moment of silence for the israeli olympic team members who were massacred at the 1972 munich olympics. reuters.com.
did mr. kobayashi understand the irony of his participation in the project? did he connect his improper comedic skit in the mid-1990s with the moment of silence in the ceremony? perhaps, mr. kobayashi, due to time and memory, did not connect the dots. as his dismissal from the olympics was announced, there was no reporting of any pervasive conduct of promoting or expressing hatred. giving him the benefit of the doubt, mr. kobayashi is not some horrible figure, it would appear, however, that he could benefit taking in additional information to improve his understanding. there may have already been contact with the simon wiesenthal center.
while the tokyo olympic organizers were forced to deal with mr. kobayashi by dismissing him, it would behoove organizations committed to fighting anti-semitism and the state of israel to reach out to him.
as it can be extrapolated from the exodus 23:9, we all carry with us hurtful feelings. we may wish to lash out at others with vengeance. the torah expresses the need to show consideration towards those who we don’t truly know or understand. sharing and exchanging knowledge is one positive way we can act so that we can both get along and, in doing so, no longer be a strangers.
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