Rabi Cohen and activism

I am one of those whom attended the discussion group, this monday. The talk was synthetised by others so i would like to discuss on another aspect.

These past few week, there has been a lot of discussion whether how activism should be defined and whom should fullfill this task. The question ; «Is an academic an activist» did not have a concrete answer. One of use suggested that the activism is more of a social implication activity rather then am obligation to inform. I believe that we have a perfect exemple of that theory applied in this group of discussion. The Rabi is a learned men, no doubt in my mind, but he is far from being an academic. Nevertheless, this men is the co-founder of an environmental institution and a passionnate fond raiser. The Rabi, du to his religious duties has a convincing voice when he defends his ideal. I doubt that any of his fellow scientist in the institute could have explained has simply why this institute is so great in views of futur politic and environmental action in the present. The gift of communication his giving to few and in my opinion of the, the Rabi definitly had it. Does that mean that somewhere along the line somebody is not fullfilling his duty but letting the Rabi speak in his place. I don’t think so. Even though it might not be the Rabi project, he knows the implication, impacts and needs and his able to move the crowd and convince then of the importance that institute.

This brings me to the motive of the speaker. Indeed, he was passionnante about environment and solving politic problem in that area of the world. But i think that his motives where elsewhere then to inform us of the problem and potential solution. The institute is a NGO and therefore needs outside funding to perform its tasks. Futhermore more, the institute’s wish is to grow in number, which means they will need more students. Since they mix palestinian with jordanian, jews (both from ME and North America) and north american, they need to recruit here as well. I think those were his personal two obje ctives.

Finally, i would like to bring emphasis on the discussion concerning the funding. The institute seems to get 10% of it’s funding from a Jew organism which as been labelled racist by a men in the discussion circle. The Rabi made two clear point on the subject, other then we need the money which obviously they do. He started by saying that the institute questionned the proposed money du to the groups intention. They finally accepted the money and they now have one member on the executive commity. This enable them to critic the work of the organisation, giving them a voice in issues they believe are unfaired judge. The Rabi used the terms fighting from the inside instead of fighting from the outside. The second argument was more related to the region of the world being in a bad state. Friends and enemies are not chosen, they are given. What you do with those relationships is up to you afterwards. But the facts still remains, the decision of accepting the money is conflictuing with ethics and thats why they feel compelled to act within this jewish group. Knowing that, it is clear to my mind the politics, ethics and activism are linked together. Sciences also have their own ethic which is probably the link beetween all those aspect. In respect to that, i believe that being an activist or have a personnal ethic as nothing to do with the person function (academic or Rabi) but as more to do with personnal choice. It is up to you to decide whether or not you feel the your personnal contribution could make things progress.

2 Responses to “Rabi Cohen and activism”

  1. patagonia says:

    I agree with your comments about the motives of the speaker; you could tell he was very charasmatic, a real public relations guru…or rabi. I found it, at times, difficult to absorb the real message of the Avara Insitute due to the advertisment side of the presentation. He even started by plugging his own book. Nonetheless, he was and is clearly the right man for the job of fundraising and advocacy for the Institute, and that can be an important role within an NGO. The point I would like to make is; when it comes to activism or sharing ones knowledge/message, each person will feel confortable presenting ones knowledge or message by various methods and at various stages and public levels. At first glance this is not a bad thing, it simply means that different researches will appeal to different audiences. But it seems to me that, inevitably, it will be the best funded, best presented, most prestigeous, and pro-economy type research and research bodies that get their information heard by the most influencial audience (politicians/ policy makers). This is not always the case, as for the IPCC which is a hot topic within many influencial goverments, but it often is. And to clarify, by ‘best presented’ I am refering to the leadership and representation of a piece of reserach, idea, or platform. Rabi Cohen was and is a strong leader who is capable of captivating and convincing an audiance of his cause. In comparison, Stephan Dion was not a strong leader and was unable to captivate or convince his audiance of his platform, resulting in the Liberal party loss and consequently the loss of some important enviromental policies (carbon taxes, etc.). It is sad but true, that is todays culture of flashy TV and advertising, good reserach, good policy and political platforms mean nothing of not presented properly. The general public simply does not get self motivated and read into important topics like climate change, therefore many do not understand the research and significance of the issue. Similarily, many people do not read a party’s platform, and thus vote for a backwards conservative party stronger representation. As an aside, did anyone else here the gossip on TV during the Canadian federal elections over who dressed the best, how Elizabeth May would do better if she had a makeover, etc etc. It is sad when appearance and presentation are made to be more important than good research, good policy and good politics.

  2. guesswho says:

    I agree with your comment about the fact that Rabbi Cohen was really trying “to sell” is university. Nevertheless, I didn’t think it was much different to some seminars, presented by researchers, that we’ve attempted during the semester. After all, Ricciard’s presentation was all about convincing us that invasion of exotic specie are happening unprecedented rate, Dr.Ebi argue during all her presentation that health problems were to emerge from climate change, and so on.

    Perhaps that the common link between all these lecturers is that they are concern by, or let’s say involved in, the issue they are presenting on, and that therefore, they have a certain will to convince people about the importance of this issue.