OCEAN CITY — A prominent rabbi and social activist spoke about human rights and politics Sunday afternoon at the Ocean City Free Public Library.
Rabbi Arthur Waskow, of the Philadelphia-based Shalom Center, was the guest speaker at event held in honor of Human Rights Day, which is celebrated annually Dec. 10 around the world. The talk was hosted by Amnesty International’s South Jersey chapter.
“Every day should be international Human Rights Day, but this is the designated Human Rights Day,” said Georgina Shanley, of Ocean City, the local chapter’s coordinator.
Waskow, who has written or edited more than 20 books, touched on a number of topics, including the Republican-backed federal tax reform bill, climate change, net neutrality, democracy and resistance.
He said he was arrested last week in Washington, D.C., protesting the Republican tax plan. Waskow said the tax bill represents an attack on human rights.
“I think we face a concerted effort to overturn American democracy and to substitute an oligarchy of the hyper-wealthy,” Waskow told the crowd of about 30.
“We see that in the tax bill is a massive effort to shift enormous wealth and enormous power into the hands of those who already have enormous wealth and power,” he added.
Waskow expressed concern over what the response would be if President Donald Trump decides to fire Special Counsel Robert Mueller, who has been tasked with investigating ties between the Trump campaign and Russian officials.
One suggestion is holding a new presidential election this November and putting all the seats in Congress up for grabs, Waskow said. The proposal generated cheers from the crowd.
“So that’s really interesting because it is real resistance,” Waskow said. “It breaks the rules but in a way that affirms the rules.”
After taking questions, Waskow invited the crowd to read a prayer with him in honor of Human Rights Day, followed by the lighting of a candle.
Human Rights Day was established to mark the anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, an United Nations document that was drafted with the help of Eleanor Roosevelt in 1948.