By Libi Sears
Starting with Human Rights at René Cassin
I have always been impassioned by fairness, equality, and social justice. Choosing to act with compassion and kindness, and my desire to work for the good has only intensified with time. My perspective has widened with the help of my degree, which showcased the importance of interdisciplinarity and dispelling the ease of absolutist narratives. I engaged in processes and worlds different from my own – working with projects such as ‘Changing the Story’ and ‘Our Second Home’ that have profoundly impacted me. I worked alongside some remarkable people and formed relationships I have maintained to this day.
There are multiple ways to communicate your beliefs and opinions, and both projects opened my mind to that very fact. I am aware of the privileges I possess, and I am slowly learning the power of my own voice. Most recently, my experience as an intern at René Cassin taught me to write with conviction and strength whilst enhancing my passion for politics.
You may choose to look the other way but you can never again say that you did not knowWilliam Wilberforce, 1864
Learning From The René Cassin Team
René Cassin is unlike any other human rights organisation I have encountered. Their campaigns amplify hidden voices, those who contradict the bold assurances made by the government. They explain complexities within government legislation, and the lives of many are shown. A consideration is taken, one that connotes patience and kindness in each campaign pursued. They do this by carrying through a Jewish narrative of values and experience.
This internship enabled me to make connections I have not considered in the past, through engaging with politics and people. This one simple thing is how, in our day-to-day lives, our complicity in inequalities and injustices remains unknown, such as the relevance the Uyghur genocide holds over the fast fashion industries within the UK. My eyes have been opened WIDE, and I “can never again say that [I] did not know”.
Whilst pursuing possible campaigns for the new year, I heard stories of the removal of citizenship, the limitations placed on autonomy and the discrimination faced amongst the Sephardi and Mizrachi communities. For example, the 1941 religious pogrom in Bagdad (Farhoud), where shops were looted, and 600 Jews were murdered. The dominant discourse in the UK’s Jewish community’s focuses on the Ashkenazi experience obscuring other voices within the Jewish community. In the future, I will continue to reflect on that reality, and engage in those equally relevant and important discourses, hearing the experiences of those dissimilar to my own family. My Jewish heritage holds great importance and René Cassin helped to transform my personal view of what Judaism means to me.
My Jewish Identity
I am fortunate to have lived alongside my cultural Judaism, engaging with my community, with festivals and traditions. This internship taught me so much about my own personal history for which, I am immensely grateful.
The plunge into Biblical liturgy and commentary is not something usual for me. To my surprise, I enjoyed it, exploring the origins of concepts familiar to me! Concepts of chesed (kindness) and rachamim (compassion) solidified the connection my Judaism has to my passion for human rights.
Now that I have been through this journey, I hope to find my voice, and the ways in which I can assert it.
My internship ignited a desire to continue working within the field of human rights, specialising in immigration and women’s rights. With the hope of tackling the toxicity and hostility within public policy; and addressing the basic human rights violations experienced during asylum claims and confinement to detention. The possible implementation of the Rwanda scheme indicates the chaos within the current political climate. These narratives are unproductive, and often result in the criminalisation of migration.
Take This With You
The opportunity to explore and learn must not be underestimated. Being aware of the socio-political inequalities in the society we live in is essential. If you want an opportunity in which your conviction is brought to life, and you are a part of social change, becoming an intern or ambassador at René Cassin is a must.
Find out how to become a René Cassin here.