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April 28: Tobias Asser

Lawrence Bush
April 28, 2010
Asser, Tobias Michael CarelA Nobel Peace Prize Laureate in 1911, Tobias Michael Carel Asser was born in Amsterdam on this date in 1838. He was an lawyer and international law scholar who sought to preserve international peace by harmonizing international law. Asser persuaded the Dutch government to convene pan-European conferences at the Hague in 1893 that established uniform procedures for civil trials. He presided over these conferences and over gatherings in 1900 and 1904 that resulted in treaties governing European family law. Asser also played a lead role in the formation of the Permanent Court of Arbitration at the Hague, and advocated for the creation of what would become the Hague Academy of International Law. He shared the Nobel Prize with Alfred Hermann Fried, an Austrian Jewish pacifist and journalist who was a cofounder of the German Peace Society and preached the idea of an international organization to assure world peace, which would become the purpose of the League of Nations and the United Nations. Fried was also a prominent member of the Esperanto international language movement. “Peaceableness is not passive. It is the ability to act to resolve conflict without violence. If it is not a practical and practicable method, it is nothing. . . . In the face of conflict, the peaceable person may find several solutions, the violent person only one.” —Wendell Berry

​​​​Lawrence Bush edited Jewish Currents from 2003 until 2018. He is the author of Bessie: A Novel of Love and Revolution and Waiting for God: The Spiritual Explorations of a Reluctant Atheist, among other books. His new volume of illustrated Torah commentaries, American Torah Toons 2, is scheduled for publication this year.