[WSMDiscuss] Perspectives on Gaza, Israel, & Judaism

Tord Björk tord.bjork at gmail.com
Thu May 17 09:53:10 CEST 2018

Thankyou, Tord

On Thu, May 17, 2018 at 7:58 AM, Ariel Salleh via WSM-Discuss <
wsm-discuss at lists.openspaceforum.net> wrote:

> *From: *Rabbi Michael Lerner <rabbilerner.tikkun at gmail.com>
> *Subject: **Two Tikkun Perspectives on Gaza, Israel, & Judaism*
> *Date: *17 May 2018 at 3:26:54 AM AEST
> *To: *arielsalleh7 at gmail.com
> *Reply-To: *rabbilerner.tikkun at gmail.com
> Tikkun
> <http://org.salsalabs.com/dia/track.jsp?v=2&c=tb8lLuzXJXu8MrrT9xPcqR9hXaMJ6nNg>
>   to heal, repair and transform the world
> *A note from Rabbi Michael Lerner*
> *Join or Donate Now*
> <http://org.salsalabs.com/dia/track.jsp?v=2&c=aJI%2Bce53mJijwbfiNHIpFh9hXaMJ6nNg>
> <http://org.salsalabs.com/dia/track.jsp?v=2&c=gg8OSNCJ9GLkfyAQ%2F8rk1B9hXaMJ6nNg>
> *!*
> Below are two perspectives both of which deserve to be taken seriously
> even though they differ in tone and direction. Tikkun has always supported
> open debate and disagreement among those committed to healing and
> transforming the world. Or as the Jewish tradition said, when rabbis Hillel
> and Shamai appealed to the heavenly God to resolve which position was most
> in accord with the divine will, the voice from heaven responded "this one
> *and* this one are both the words of the living God."
> To read this online go to: https://www.tikkun.org/
> nextgen/2-tikkun-perspectives-on-gaza-israel-and-palestine
> <http://org.salsalabs.com/dia/track.jsp?v=2&c=xUCvOAMMgSlRbbrYnBHOYx9hXaMJ6nNg>
> *Zionism has Become an Existential Threat—to Jews*
> by Mark LeVine
> With each new death in Gaza the Israeli government is not only sealing the
> judgement of history as to the irredeemably racist and violent core of
> Zionist nationaism, it is also flashing a giant red light at Jews
> everywhere, warning us that the movement started ostensibly to protect and
> normalize Jewish existence has become an existential threat - to Jews.
> What else can one reasonably conclude when a new American embassy is
> opened to great fanfare in Jerusalem, its inauguration “blessed” by two
> pastors who openly call for the eternal damnation of the Jews as Israeli
> and Diaspora Jewish leaders beam with pride and sip champagne, while sixty
> miles away young Jews, in the name of their religion, massacre dozen of
> unarmed Palestinian women, men, children, elderly and young with utter
> inhumanity and impunity.
> The increasingly fascistic Jewish nationalism of the State of Israel and
> its supporters in the organized Jewish communities of the Diaspora is
> widening a split within world Jewry, one that won't be reconciled through
> dialog and understanding precisely because the choice is so stark and
> ground for compromise non-existent. Globally there is a Jewish population
> of some 15 million souls. Well over half of them (about a third of American
> Jews, most Israeli Jews and the large majority of other Diaspora Jews) more
> or less enthusiastically support an unending and brutal colonial Occupation
> and Apartheid regime, an illegal and unconscionable dispossession of the
> colonized population of its lands and resources, the unremitting if
> spasmodic ethnic cleansing of the land, the increasingly genocidal rhetoric
> of the political leadership, and the insidious transformation of Jewish
> history, culture and faith these policies both demand and inevitably
> produce.
> Those opposed to these policies, comprising a small percentage of Israeli
> Jews, a somewhat larger percentage of the global Diaspora, and the (sadly
> still too silent) majority of American Jews, have little power and even
> less room for manoeuvre, as they are squeezed between a rising tide of
> nationalism and anti-Semitism in their home countries and a Judaism in
> practice that is completely alien to the humanistic values of justice,
> mercy and equality which they always assumed represented the core of their
> identity.
> We are quickly facing a moment of rupture potentially as great as that
> which split Islam after the death of the Prophet Muhammad or Christianity
> after Luther's challenge to the Church. But with well over 1 billion
> adherents each, Christianity and Islam are simply too big to fail, even if
> they have literally split over core issues of theology and power. With
> comparative so few adherents Judaism is in a much more precarious position
> and cannot easily survive the kind of split that fundamentally divided the
> other Abrahamic faiths into competing and often warring factions. Quite
> simply, when the Prime Minister of Israel and the Jewish children of the
> President of the United States openly cavort with Christians preaching
> eternal hellfire for Jews and Muslim monarchs who've spent untold billions
> to spread the most viciously anti-Semitic ideology since Nazism then the
> Jewish people are in mortal danger indeed.
> To be sure, many might celebrate the performance at the Embassy as the
> ultimate act of realpolitik, with each side winking to its own faithful as
> they clang their champagne glasses in celebration of their mutual power and
> interests. But as the crematoria remind us, hell fire doesn't need the End
> of Days to descend upon us. (In fact, American evangelicals are literally
> giddy with the prospect that the violence in Gaza heralds the Apocalypse.)
> Undaunted by the hatred of their most ardent Christian supporters, the
> fascist axis that has hijacked Judaism see little reason to compromise or
> reconcile with their fellow Jews, never mind Palestinians. They are too
> drunk with power even to acknowledge the opposition, other than to attempt
> to crush it. Netanyahu, Kushner, Adelson & Co. firmly believe that they are
> the tail wagging the American dog, as American professors John Mearsheimer
> and Stephen Walt famously claimed, who can bend America to Israel's will
> and ensure US support for even the most atrocious policies and wars.
> But these claims have always betrayed a confusion of cause and effect.
> Make no mistake, Israel is the tail wagging to the American war dog's
> rhythm, for whom the Jewish state's worth and function have ultimately been
> as a conduit for untold billions in profit from arms deals, wars, high oil
> prices, a hyper militarized global order and the “shared values” that
> protect and expand them all. In fact, Israel is more like a salamander's
> tail than a dog's; it can be sloughed off the moment it stops being useful,
> has fulfilled its purpose, or gets the US caught in a particularly
> unpleasant or dangerous situation. When that happens the Jew-hatred will
> return unfettered, and those with whom the Netanyahus and Kushners sup
> while Gaza bled and burned will turn their knives towards us.
> In retrospect, it is still shocking how liberal and progressive Jews have
> for so long enabled such intense racism, oppression and violence in their
> name with so little resistance. How easily and tenaciously they've clung to
> the notion that underneath all the harm wrought by Zionism something
> remained that could be redeemed; that the idea of a democratic and Jewish
> state was still possible if only Palestinians could make the hard
> compromises necessary to allow the Occupation to end. So strongly has this
> lie been been accepted by generations of Israeli and Diaspora Jews that
> despite massive human rights violations, war crimes, and crimes against
> humanity committed by Israel, by Jews against Palestinians, Lebanese, and
> the citizens of dozens of dictatorships and war-torn countries across Latin
> America, Africa and Asia whose murderous rulers have routinely counted on
> Israeli aid and counsel, Jews have held fast to the Jewish state as if its
> purity and innocence remained untouched, all that blood simply running off,
> disappearing and forgotten, into the earth.
> Of course, this belief was never anything but a willfully ignorant
> fantasy, as could be easily seen by anyone, Jew as well as gentile, who
> cared to look. The internal logic and goals of Zionism, as an openly,
> self-described settler colonial movement, were and remain based on the
> conquest of territory and the removal of as many of the indigenous
> population as possible in order to ensure permanent Jewish sovereignty over
> it. Everything else has been little more window-dressing at best, smoke and
> mirrors at worst.
> Yes, Zionism has been and could always be many other things as
> well—hi-tech start-ups, medical miracles, avant-garde dance troupes,
> biblical scenery, Oriental heavy metal, to name just a few—just as the
> United States, Australia or any of the other European settler colonial
> states that emerged in the last two centuries could be and have been many
> other things besides ruthless colonial enterprises. But they couldn't be
> those things without ethnic cleansing and genocide, the sine qua non for
> their creation, expansion and continued existence. America's own “manifest
> destiny” and “exceptionalism” tell us as much, without apology. The ongoing
> Nakba is Israel's manifest destiny.
> It is also true that there has always been a surface tension within
> Zionism about the two faces of Jewish nationalism. The historically
> dominant Socialist Zionist movement did everything possible to mask the
> urge to conquest within a civilizing mission that successfully portrayed
> the inevitable conflict as the result of the ignorance and intransigence of
> the natives and the perfidy and hatred of their leaders for a people who
> only wanted to make the desert bloom and bring modernity to a benighted
> land. Revisionist leaders, starting with the movements' founder, Ze'v
> Jabotinisky, at least had the decency to be honest, declaring in 1937 that
> “apart from those who have been virtually 'blind' since childhood, all the
> other moderate Zionists have long since understood that there is not even
> the slightest hope of ever obtaining the agreement of the Arabs of the Land
> of Israel to 'Palestine' becoming a country with a Jewish majority... The
> inhabitants (no matter whether they are civilized or savages) have always
> put up a stubborn fight.”
> And so when Golda Meir infamously claimed there was no such thing as a
> Palestinian people, she wasn't just denying their peoplehood, she was
> denying their humanity, making any sort of violence necessary to secure
> Zionist goals legitimate. Indeed, from the pre-1948 era and particularly
> after Zionist leaders understood that the surest path to victory was to
> dehumanize Palestinians through violence to the point where the only
> response they could produce was a far more feeble, but in fact quite
> useful, attempt at dehumanization in return, with whatever violence they
> could deploy merely serving to justify even more violence (and more to the
> point, more settlements) by Israel.
> Similarly, when Ehud Barak declared that if he were Palestinian he would
> join Hamas, he was not admitting to a sin but rather letting us in on a
> strategy. He understood as well as anyone that the way to continue to hold
> the world's grudging sympathy or at least indulgence was to push
> Palestinians past the point of any possibility of peaceful resistance so
> that they turn to the exact kind of dehumanizing violence that would
> trigger Israel's (self-righteous) “purity of arms” in response. So well has
> this discourse worked that even as Palestinians have always, and today
> continue, to engage in innumerable and creative acts of non-violent
> resistance, the continue to be jailed, tortured and murdered on an almost
> daily basis without comment or concern by the majority of Israeli and
> Diaspora Jews, never mind Israel's “allies” and defenders around the world.
> What the present moment reminds us is that true liberal or progressive
> values simply can't coexist with racially, religiously and/or ethnically
> grounded nationalisms. They are two very different epistemological and even
> ontological systems; when they interact, it is the latter which almost
> always triumphs, as Trump's path of destruction of whatever remains of the
> liberal American state attests. Similarly, Zionism's myriad sins are not
> accidental; nor are they mistakes or excesses of a basically (or at least
> originally) moral enterprise. Rather, they are original to the movement,
> coded into its baseline programming from the start—the same “conquest of
> land” and “conquest of labor” that guided Zionist policies in 1909 produced
> the Nakba in 1948, the Occupation in 1967, and the rise of Greater, fascist
> Israel in the last generation.
> Other than quite literally selling all their land and embracing Zionism as
> a savior—as Herzl imagined would happen in his novel 1902 novel Altneuland
>  (Tel Aviv)--there was nothing Palestinian could do, a century ago or
> today, to prevent this history from unfolding. Indeed, if Americans, with
> our vast territory, wealth and security still cannot own up to the costs
> and continuing toll of African slavery and native American genocide, how
> can we ever imagine a small country like Israel, still engaged in an
> all-out struggle to secure and control the territory it claims for itself,
> will ever be able to do so?
> The situation today presents a very troubling question: What are
> Progressive Jews, those who still put the core Prophetic ideals of our
> religious and cultural heritage, and our shared humanity with Palestinians
> and the broader non-Jewish world, ahead of the idolatrous worship of
> territory and brute power represented by Zionism and Israel, supposed to
> do? Who can we look to for support if our leaders and institutions have
> largely sold their souls? As attested by the near miraculous expansion of
> anti-Zionist Jewish groups like Jewish Voice for Peace, If Not Now and
> other movements who have built upon the moral witness and foundation of the
> Prophetic voices such as Tikkun and other Jewish Renewal groups, the
> Jewish community itself seems finally to be choosing sides—or rather,
> progressive Jews are in increasing numbers choosing to make a decisive
> break with Zionism as it presently exists and could conceivably exist in
> the foreseeable future.
> Whether in Occupied Palestine or the US, Jews, especially the younger
> generation, are standing in radical solidarity with Palestinians, Arabs,
> Muslims, African Americans, and other oppressed communities, as it becomes
> clear that  Zionism and Israeli policies are not just untenable on their
> own terms, but are inseparable from a much broader set of pathologies at
> the heart of the world system—whether its Saudi Arabia's murderous rampage
> in Yemen, Assad's genocide against his own people, Trump's white
> nationalist renaissance, or dozens of other violent, autocratic, racist and
> hyper exploitative regimes across the globe.
> The power of this solidarity has the potential to offer an unprecedented
> challenge to the Zionist hegemony within the American and perhaps even
> Diaspora Jewish communities. That's precisely why, from the fields of the
> West Bank to American college campuses, the Israeli state and organized
> Jewish community leadership have declared an all-out war against any kind
> of solidarity activism, from BDS to joint actions against land
> expropriations, illegal detention, and once again, mass slaughter. It's
> also why Israel's greatest admirers today can be found among the likes of
> white nationalists and Arab wahhabis.
> The Italian philosopher Antonio Gramsci, facing odds at least as
> overwhelming as those faced by anti-Zionist Jews as he struggled against a
> still young Italy's movement towards fascism, railed against what he termed
> the indifference that allows chauvinistic ideologies to take root and
> spread. “Odio gli indifferenti”--“I hate the indifferent”--he declared,
> explaining that “I believe to live means to be a partisan” for one side or
> another. He would ultimately pay for his choice with his life; his
> martyrdom, like those of Palestinians at the Gaza border fence, remind us
> that ultimately, we are all making a choice, whether its indifference or
> complicity, oppression or resistance.
> The cries of Gaza's Palestinians remind liberal and progressive Jews that
> for too long the choice has been made for them by a leadership in Israel
> and the Diaspora that has long acted in a manner that is the antithesis of
> the Prophetic Jewish values that have long been at the forefront of
> struggles for liberation, humanity and dignity. Zionism has now entered a
> terminal phase, and it is threatening to take us all down with it if we
> don't take a stand. As Rabbi Hillel asked two millennia ago, “If not now,
> when?”
> Mark LeVine, *Tikkun'*s longest serving Editorial Board member, teaches
> history at UC Irvine and is a research fellow at the Center for Middle
> Eastern Studies at Lund University and, most recently, at the University of
> Bologna's Institute for Advanced Studies. He's currently working on a
> collaboratively written history of the Occupation with several dozen
> leading Palestinian, Israeli and international scholars.
> *Mourning for Gaza, Israel, and Palestine*
> by Rabbi Michael Lerner
> On May 14, 2018 Israel raised the number of Gazan mostly unarmed civilians
> it had killed to close to 100, and the number wounded to several thousand.
> Its actions will go down in Jewish history as the height of the Netanyahu
> government’s ethical blindness and arrogance. All people of conscience
> should make May 14th an annual day of mourning for the Gazans and for the
> fate of all Palestinians living under occupation (whether in the form of
> military occupation in the West Bank or in the form of blockade and cutting
> off of electricity, food and medical supplies, and much more to the people
> trapped under the rule of Hamas in Gaza).
> The excuses given by Israeli hasbara (explanation/propaganda) are pathetic:
> 1. “Israel has a right to defend itself.” Of course it does. But it does
> not have the right to occupy another people for 50 years and subject them
> to deprivation of freedom and self-determination. Moreover, there is no
> threat to Israel from the Palestinian people–Israel has one of the most
> powerful military forces in the entire world, and the Palestinians do not
> have an air force, a navy, tanks, or anything else that could over-run
> Israel.
> 2. “The army (IDF) was endangered by a few of the demonstrators who were
> armed with Molotov cocktails and were creating a smokescreen by burning
> tires” The IDF could have withdrawn a few hundred feet and would not have
> faced any danger. They were not facing missiles, but only what a few
> individuals could throw in their direction.
> 3.  “The Gazans were intent on cutting through the border fence and would
> have then been a terrorist threat.”  If Israel had warned Gazans that
> anyone crossing into Israel would have been shot, that would have prevented
> most of the deaths and injuries. Most of the Gazans were at the fence to
> demonstrate their desire to return to their homes taken by Israel in the
> aftermath of the 1948 war. It was not their intent to do that immediately.
> Most of those who would have crossed over the border would have been
> apprehended and imprisoned. The Israeli Army has a huge number of fighters
> at any given time and they could easily have stopped anyone crossing the
> border without shooting indiscriminately into crowds of thousands of almost
> all unarmed civilians, injuring and killing journalists, medics, women, and
> children.
> In short, there was no security (bitachon) reason for the slaughter of
> innocent people.
> There were provocative statements made by Hamas and by some of those at
> the demonstrations. We in the U.S. peace movement know about this. We’ve
> been at demonstrations in which some people call for the overthrow of the
> government or engage in acts of violence against people or property. It was
> these elements that made it possible for right-wing media to portray the
> “Occupy Wall Street” demonstrations several years ago as a group of
> violence-prone extremists and allowed police to disrupt the tent camps that
> demonstrators had set up. We would not accept killing and wounding random
> demonstrators as a legitimate response in these situations in the U.S. and
> they were not legitimate on the Gaza border either.
> This is not to say that Israelis have no reason to be angry at Hamas and
> its followers. Hamas continues to insist that it wants to eliminate the
> State of Israel. In so doing, it provides a perfect partner to Prime
> Minister Netanyahu and the Israeli ultra-right-wing, providing the
> ostensible reason for why ordinary citizens should be afraid. And over the
> past decades individual terrorists have killed some Israelis and Hamas
> managed to send missiles toward Israel in the summer of 2014, though
> happily most of them were destroyed before landing. Yet the Israeli people
> spent hours each day in bomb shelters, and that intensified their fears in
> a very concrete way. Just imagine if North Korea or Cuba had been able to
> do the same to the U.S. and tens of millions of Americans had spent hours
> each day for two months in air raid shelters–can you imagine what a boost
> that would have given to the militarists in any Western country the way
> 9/11 also did.
> I do not raise this point to legitimate the Israeli army violence that is
> taking place on the border with Gaza. It is, let me repeat, ethically
> outrageous. There is no moral equivalency between the struggle of
> Palestinians for their own liberation and the policies of Israel to prevent
> that liberation. Israel has the power to create a solution that ensures its
> security and has the economic, political, and military power to do so. The
> Palestinians have no such power; what they do have is the growing support
> of people around the world, including many younger Jews in the West who
> genuinely care about the suffering of all people who have not yet achieved
> liberation, economic well-being, and security. In their arrogance, the
> Israeli and U.S. governments think that this moment of power will last
> forever, it will not. And sadly, both the American people and the Jewish
> people will pay dearly in the future for the immoral behavior of their
> governments and their silent complicity.
> Our approach at Tikkun, however, is to ask not how do we throw blame but
> how do we contribute to the possibility of a transformation in
> consciousness. And our answer is this: we need to help people on both sides
> of that struggle recognize that each side has been unnecessarily
> provocative and each side has a legitimate story to tell. It does no good
> to *only *talk about the evils of one side or the other or to portray one
> side as the righteous victim and the other as the evil incarnate. To do so
> is only to guarantee more suffering on both sides of this struggle.
> In my book Embracing Israel/Palestine (available at *www.tikkun.org/eip*
> <http://org.salsalabs.com/dia/track.jsp?v=2&c=WYR4NGZw2m%2BvtpnxcHacGh9hXaMJ6nNg>)
> I tell the whole story from the beginning till 2012. I recognize every
> particular outrage in the context of a larger struggle that has been going
> on for the past hundred years, a struggle in which each side has taken
> actions that are ethically unacceptable and each side has legitimate
> reasons to be scared of each other. You might ask “How can the Israelis be
> scared of Palestinians when they are so much more powerful?” Well, do you
> doubt that many Americans were scared and many remain scared of
> “terrorists” after 9/11, even though the U.S. was and remains the greatest
> military power in the world, and with no country on our border supporting
> terrorism? That fear has been magnified by a discourse that comes from both
> Republicans and Democrats, and led Hillary Clinton to advocate not only for
> the destructive war against Libya in 2011 but also for being “tough”
> against Russia. Now imagine that you lived in a state that was a few miles
> away from where ISIS and Hezbollah and other groups were active, and where
> Iran was placing missiles that could easily reach your own home. That
> context makes it easier to understand how right-wing-militarists in Israel
> could convince people that they were in constant danger, and that part of
> that danger, given the experience of the summer of 2014, was coming from
> Gaza.
> “But wait,” you might say, “the Gazans are protesting the Nakba, and that
> was the atrocity that created the State of Israel.” So the first point I
> want to make is that the Nakba was another ethically outrageous result of
> the 1948 war, and we at Tikkun were the first US publication to expose
> the lies of the Zionist establishment that claimed that Palestinians had
> fled because their leaders told them to do so. We printed the accounts of
> the “New Historians” in Israel who had access to the IDF’s archives and who
> were able to show that many Palestinians fled because of legitimate fear of
> Israeli right wing terrorist groups that were seeking to spread fear. At
> least 100,000 of the refugees were forcibly removed from their homes and
> forced to move to what is now the West Bank and Gaza, and many others fled
> in fear that the same would happen to them. There was no legitimacy for
> these deportations. Moreover, when a cease fire was achieved in 1949, the
> Israeli government refused to let these civilian refugees return to their
> homes, a position similar to what India was doing with Muslim refugees,
> thereby creating the Muslim state of Pakistan.
> This situation, however, was the outcome of the Arab states and the
> Palestinian leadership refusing to accept the U.N. proposal of 1947 which
> would have divided the area into a Jewish state of Israel and a Palestinian
> state. Had the Palestinians accepted that proposal, which Israel did
> accept, there would today be a Palestinian state encompassing much more of
> the “Holy Land” than even the most optimistic of peaceniks now believes a
> two-state solution in the 21st century would give to the Palestinian state.
> This was a tragic decision on the part of the Palestinian leadership and
> their Arab neighboring states which would have averted a war.
> Yet how could the Jewish Israelis, many of whom were survivors of the
> Holocaust, allowed this unjust outcome? So now go back to the decade
> previous to this moment, when fascism was spreading through not only Europe
> but also through parts of the Muslim world, and Jews were desperate to
> escape. The Arab states and the Palestinian leaders sought to prevent
> Jewish refugees from coming to Palestine, fearing that the Zionists wanted
> to create a Jewish state in some part of Palestine. The British, who had
> been given the “mandate” over Palestine by the League of Nations, needed
> Arab oil to be able to fight the war against the Nazis which began in 1939,
> and so agreed to enforce the will of the Palestinians to prevent Jews from
> coming to Palestine. This was not aimed at *all *refugees, but only at
> Jewish refugees. And even after the Nazis were defeated in 1945, and the
> Holocaust was known to the world, the Palestinians, aided by the British,
> kept up their demand to keep Jewish refugees from coming. Hundreds of
> thousands of Jews were kept in “displaced persons camps” in Europe until on
> May 14, 1948 the British left and Palestinian Jews proclaimed themselves
> the “State of Israel,” allowing Jews to come there. Many of those who came
> felt deep anger at the Palestinians who had refused them entry while their
> families were being murdered. Palestine was the nearest country to Europe
> with a substantial Jewish minority that was not under Nazi rule. For the
> Jews in displaced persons camps, the Palestinian people’s refusal to allow
> them to come to Palestine was evidence that they hated Jews, who were a
> minority group.
> Leftists have usually taken up the call for open borders everywhere, or at
> least for non-discrimination against refugees seeking asylum. Yet they do
> not ever recognize that a significant section of the Jews who created the
> State of Israel in 1948 were refugees for whom Palestinians had denied
> asylum. Many Jews in Israel and around the world joined with many of these
> refugees in deeply resenting the ethically unacceptable desire to keep
> Jewish refugees out. Just as Palestinians kept Jews out, when Jews had the
> power after the 1948 war, they were not willing to let the Palestinian
> refugees come back. I find their actions ethically unacceptable. At the
> same time, I understand the fear that arises when people imagine refugees
> taking over their land (this applies both to Palestinians before 1948 and
> Jews after 1948). Yet Leftists who are outraged at the way the U.S. and
> many European states are currently treating refugees fail to see and
> understand the significance of this historical truth – namely that
> Palestinians and other Arab states did all they could to prevent Jewish
> refugees from coming to Palestine. This was an outcome of a long history of
> Left-wing anti-Semitism that I analyze more fully in my book The
> Socialism of Fools: Anti-Semitism on the Left. But you don’t have to read
> the book to get the gist—go to read the article by anti-Israel-Occupation
> “If Not Now” activist Benjamin Case on “Decolonizing Jewishness” in the
> Winter/Spring 2018 issue of Tikkun (which you can now read online at
> *https://www.tikkun.org/nextgen/decolonizing-jewishness-on-jewish-liberation-in-the-21st-century*
> <http://org.salsalabs.com/dia/track.jsp?v=2&c=cmOiQBXmIQ%2FF3MhqEj5eAh9hXaMJ6nNg>
> ). You will see there what I mean by Left-wing anti-Semitism (and no,
> it’s not being a critic of Israeli policies, which we at Tikkun have been
> for the past 32 years).
> “Still,” you might object, “wasn’t Zionism, the desire of the Jewish
> people to establish a homeland in Palestine, always simply a colonial
> project to aid European colonial ambitions against the indigenous people of
> the land, the Palestinians?” That question could only arise out of a lack
> of a full understanding of the history of the region. First of all, there
> are no indigenous people in the Middle East and certainly not in the land
> that the Roman conquerors named Palestine. All of those countries in the
> ancient world experienced one group or another conquering and settling
> those lands, moving populations, exterminating those who had previously
> conquered the lands, for thousands of years. By the time the Greeks and
> then the Romans conquered Judea two thousand plus years ago, there was a
> strong Jewish religious population in Palestine and when they were exiled
> from that land they made return to Zion (the hill on which their Temple had
> been constructed) a central part of their religion. When religiously
> practicing Jews hear lefties talking about the return of Jews to the land
> of Israel as a colonial project they shake their heads in disbelief at the
> lack of understanding that claim represents, because for two thousand years
> they have been uttering prayers for a return to Zion before there even were
> any European countries like England, France, Germany, or Russia. If in the
> last 19th and early 20th centuries that yearning became a political
> movement and sought support from European powers to accomplish that goal,
> they were no different from Arab states including Palestinian nationalists
> who similarly sought to win support for their efforts from colonial states
> and until the 1947 UN resolution calling for a two state solution, these
> Palestinians and Arab states had been relatively successful in getting
> colonial support as well (in part because the colonial states made
> conflicting promises to the Arab nationalists and the Jewish nationalists,
> as they did all around the world, dividing the populations they sought to
> dominate in order to conquer the lands).
> So am I saying that “Jews had a right to the land of Israel?” No, I don’t
> think anyone has a right to any land in the world. Instead, I believe that
> all of humanity has an obligation to share the earth which other and to do
> so in ways that protect the fragile life support system of Earth. The
> ongoing military struggles between Jews and Arabs, Israelis and
> Palestinians, like the ongoing struggles among Arab peoples in Syria and
> Iraq, or between Shia in Iran and Sunni in Saudi Arabia, or between the
> U.S. and other forces in dozens of countries around the world—all of these
> are destructive to the possibility of saving the Earth’s life support
> system and all result in unnecessary human suffering and death, and hence
> are deeply unethical and ought to be stopped immediately.
> How can that happen? In my view, it can only happen when all of the people
> of the earth overcome their nationalist demands to control some part of the
> earth, and move toward a consciousness of sharing the earth in a generous
> way. We at Tikkun and the Network of Spiritual Progressives have put
> forward two proposals that are first steps in this direction: the Global
> Marshall Plan *www.tikkun.org/gmp*
> <http://org.salsalabs.com/dia/track.jsp?v=2&c=O%2FJ3NyELuj5ciZlEnWbtNx9hXaMJ6nNg> and
> the proposed ESRA–Environmental and Social Responsibility Amendment to the
> U.S. Constitution *www.tikkun.org/esra*
> <http://org.salsalabs.com/dia/track.jsp?v=2&c=Ju0YUTFXcP%2B3uxiZ0O57oyuJR4BAXRcH> which
> could be a model for many other countries.
> To get to such a world, we cannot continue to side with one side or
> another in their endless struggles. Instead, we need to develop a
> compassionate attitude toward all peoples, and understand why they feel
> angry and threatened by others, no matter how irrational those fears appear
> to be from our perspective. It is only when we can approach all sides of
> these struggles with an attitude of what Cat Zavis, executive director of
> Tikkun’s interfaith and secular-humanist-and-atheist-welcoming Network of
> Spiritual Progressives, calls Prophetic Empathy can we hope to get people
> to move in this direction.
> The prophetic part of Prophetic Empathy is the part that calls out those
> who are tolerating violence, injustice, racism, sexism, homophobia,
> xenophobia, Islamophobia, or anti-Semitism and insists that those behaviors
> must stop. The empathy part is that we combine our calling out of what is
> wrong with an empathic understanding of how people got to where they are
> now in their consciousness, so that we can convey the kind of respect that
> is the precondition for anyone even beginning to listen to the rest of our
> political ideas about how to achieve a different kind of world.
> So to return to Israel and Palestine today, we must challenge the immoral
> behavior of the State of Israel toward the Palestinians and seek to
> mobilize against that behavior. Simultaneously, we need to project an
> understanding of the dynamics that have led all the different actors in
> this struggle to come to where they have come to, rather than appear to
> only care for one side or another.
> This struggle is a manifestation of the inner struggle that goes on in
> almost every human being between the idea that we can best achieve our
> needs by dominating others (whether that be the Israeli desire to make all
> of Palestine a subordinate part of Israel or the Hamas desire to make all
> of Palestine including what is today Israel an Islamic state under the rule
> of Hamas with a compliant Jewish minority) or the voice that tells us that
> human beings have the potential to respond to generosity with a generous
> and caring spirit if they can believe that generosity would not be taken
> advantage of by others. It is my contention that this struggle is worldwide
> and our task as tikkunistas (those who seek to heal and transform the
> world) is to strengthen the voice of generosity.
> Speaking now as a rabbi committed to the well-being of the Jewish people,
> I insist that our well-being can only be accomplished when every other
> religion and every other people, every other ethnic group, on the planet
> have also secured their well-being. There is no longer in the 21st century
> a path to security and justice for one people that does not also involve a
> path to security and justice for all peoples. My religion teaches me that
> this is the direction not only because it is in our self-interest as human
> beings, but because at a deeper level the truth is that every human being
> is a manifestation of the sacred and deserves to be treated as such. But if
> you don’t like language about the sacred, and most Israelis don’t because
> they hate anything smelling of religion because of the way the
> ultra-orthodox in Israel have forced religion down their throats, then
> accept the self-interest argument for a prophetic empathy approach to all
> struggles.
> I deeply mourn and am outraged by the loss of lives and injuries of Gazans
> caused by Israeli soldiers and the ongoing blockade that makes life in Gaza
> untolerable and unlivable. And I believe that the path to peace and
> security for Palestinians and Jews alike rests in our righteous call for
> Israel to abandon its “domination over others” perspective and realize that
> it is only with a policy of generosity toward Palestinians, not murdering
> them, that can provide a path to lasting peace and justice for
> themselves. As a Jew I also mourn for Israel and for Judaism that has
> become associated with a nation state and hope to see a Jewish liberation
> movement develop that will make clear, as we’ve been doing in Tikkun for
> the past 32 years, that Judaism must be divorced from the policies of the
> traumatized people who have allowed the State of Israel to become a
> manifestation of values that are antithetical to what Judaism has been for
> the past several thousand years. I call upon friends of the Jewish people
> in every religion and every national or ethnic group to join with Tikkun in
> challenging Israeli policies that simultaneously rejects shame and blame
> and embrace an empathic discourse as we critique these horrendous policies.
> Yes, it is a difficult path to follow. But if we ever hope to change the
> world, it is the path that is most likely in the long run to help us build
> the world we want and need. And in the meantime, we should also hope that
> both the Hamas regime will be overturned by the people of Gaza and that the
> Netanyahu and far right regime in Israel will be overturned by the people
> of Israel, so that a new regime in Israel and Palestine can negotiate a
> lasting and just, and humanly and environmentally sensitive and caring
> peace for all of the inhabitants of the region.
> --Rabbi Michael Lerner is editor of Tikkun magazine and rabbi of Beyt
> Tikkun Synagogue-without-walls based in Berkeley, California.
> <http://org.salsalabs.com/dia/track.jsp?v=2&c=wtISvnK4ElYB87kbJSU0zR9hXaMJ6nNg>
> <http://org.salsalabs.com/dia/track.jsp?v=2&c=PepUT0hfZvzCJzRx0tqiqB9hXaMJ6nNg>
> If you wish to see this kind of dialogue on a variety of critcal
> contemporary issues continue to be published, please make a generous
> tax-deductible contribution to TIKKUN at www.tikkun.org/donate
> <http://org.salsalabs.com/dia/track.jsp?v=2&c=ztW4EqL99alGL9dWwSj3xR9hXaMJ6nNg>or
> by sending a check to Tikkun, 2342 Shattuck Ave #1200, Berkeley, Ca. 94704
> or by calling to share your credit card info with us at 510 644 1200  9
> a.m.-5 p.m. M-F   (Pacific Daylight Time)
> ------------------------------
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> ------------------------------
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