The artwork on this note card was created by 5768 WRJ Art Calendar artist Césan d’Ornellas Levine.
In college, I spent a semester working at a London-based Jewish non-profit that focused on development projects within Ukraine’s marginalized Jewish population, and during that semester I found myself learning a great deal about Ukraine and the people who live there. As someone who cares about the people in Ukraine, and as someone who cares about the world around Ukraine, the violence that erupted this summer is scary and depressing. The news was at times hard to believe, from hundreds of thousands of Ukrainians being displaced, to ever-bleaker prospects among the LGBT community there, to the still-unresolved tragedy of the Malaysia Airlines jet being shot down by pro-Russian separatists.
More foreboding was that the United States and Russia found themselves on opposite sides of the conflict in Ukraine. Many analysts agree that Russo-American relations have reached the lowest point since the Cold War: Americans condemned Russia’s intervention in Crimea and eastern Ukraine, and openly sparred with Russia as to how much the Russian military was aiding pro-Russian separatist efforts. The United States, on the other hand, imposed new sanctions on Russia.
These developments are troubling, no doubt, but it’s important to remember that there is a world outside of Ukraine; the United States and Russia still work together to combat ISIS, as well as the Ebola epidemic. The message is that despite the United States’ and Russia’s conflicting spheres of influence, our world still has common problems that demand the cooperation of even the bitterest of enemies.
Despite these political tensions, the prospect of nuclear proliferation, and the damage caused by nuclear tests, demand global cooperation. The URJ has for decades called for a worldwide ban on testing nuclear weapons as a way to help stop this nuclear proliferation and guard against the destruction of God’s creation. To meet these goals, the United States led in the development of the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty (CTBT) in 1996. President Clinton signed the CTBT, but the Senate has still not ratified it, and the treaty has yet to take force. Ratifying the treaty will not make us more vulnerable; instead it will increase international cooperation to combat the spread of nuclear weapons. Even in these unsure times, the United States can still work with the rest of the world to combat nuclear proliferation—our Senators can still use this time to ratify the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty.