Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Jews for Justice

“I appreciate your bumper sticker.” She said. I turned and there stood a lady admiring my “Free Palestine – End the Occupation.”

“And I am Jewish,” she added. “I want to support the State of Israel but right now I cannot. I hate what Israel is doing to the Palestinians but when I say that in my synagogue, I get ostracized. Sometimes I feel like I am the only one. It gets sort of lonely.”

I didn’t have the foggiest idea who she was or where she had come from but there we were talking in the parking lot for a few minutes. Then we each went our own way. As soon as she was gone, I thought of many things I wish I had said to her, starting with, “You are not alone.”

I think of Michael Lerner, editor of TIKKUN, one of the leading Jewish magazines in America which has been calling Israel to a more civilized behavior for years. Back in 1990, Lerner wrote:

Stop the beatings, stop the breaking of bones, stop the late night raids on people’s homes, stop using food as a weapon of war, stop pretending that you can respond to an entire people’s agony with guns and blows and power. Publically acknowledge that the Palestinians have the same right to national determination that we Jews have, and negotiate a solution with representatives of the Palestinians[1].

And I wish I had told her of Marc Ellis, a prolific Jewish author whom I claim as a friend. He stayed in my home while lecturing in Atlanta. Ellis has written, among other things, Beyond Innocence, (1990) a sharp indictment of Israel’s non-Jewish policies and Unholy Alliances. (1987).

And I wish I had asked her if she were familiar with the works of Noam Chomsky. My mind kept racing across the many great Jewish authors who for years have struggled to reconcile the ethical and moral teachings of their faith with the immoral and brutal practices of the modern state of Israel. If I knew who she was, I would send her a list of books by Jewish authors who have influenced me; I would begin with:

1982 – Jacobo Timerman, THE LONGEST WAR, (pp167).
Timerman was actually tortured in Argentina because he was a Jew, Yet looking at Israel, he writes:

In these past months, I have left behind many illusions, some frustrations, several obsessions. But none of my convictions. Among all these things, there is one that shatters me beyond consolation, I have discovered in Jews a capacity for cruelty that I never believed possible.[2]

1983 – Noam Chomsky, wrote a classic, THE FAITHFUL TRIANGLE,
(pp 469.)
It is long, but well worth the read.

1990 – Marc Ellis with Rosemary Rather Ruther wrote, BEYOND OCCUPATION,
(pp 298.)
This was one of the first books to open my eyes to the truth of what is happening in Palestine and Israel’s brutality.

All of these authors, writing twenty to twenty-five years ago, left me with the feeling of embarrassment. I claim to be an educated person and yet, I did not know this history. Jewish writers are still making the same claim: Israel is out of control.

2003 – Michael Lerner – HEALING, ISRAEL/PALESTINE. (pp 184.)
This marvelous book seeks to tell the story from both sides, but as the more powerful, Lerner holds Israel responsible, saying,” Israelis, have increasingly used methods to secure the Occupation that violate international standards of human rights and make a mockery of the highest values of the Jewish tradition.”

This hard hitting book documents the real history of Zionism’s conquest of Palestine.

2006 – Ilan Pappe, THE ETHNIC CLEANSING OF PALESTINE, (pp.261.) This is the most provocative book I have recently read documenting the real motive behind Israel’s imperialism and its savage brutality toward the Palestinians.

2007 – Joel Kovel, OVERCOMING ZIONISM, (pp 247.)
Kovel describes his own passion. “I wrote this book in fury about Israel and the unholy complicity of the United States and its Jewish community that grants it impunity?”

When non-Jewish authors write, they are immediately labeled as anti-Semitic. When these Jewish authors write and criticize Israel, they are writing out of a great concern and commitment to their Jewish heritage and moral standards ingrained in them by their Jewish tradition…and they must be heard and respected.

I would refer my Jewish lady to the magazine TIKKUN, published by Rabbi Michael Lerner, and ask her to Google Ha’aretz, a leading Jerusalem newspaper. In many ways, it seems that the Jews of Israel are far more free to criticize their own government than are the Jews of America.

No, she is not alone and those sharing her concerns are increasing every day. She is one among an ever growing number of Jews who have chosen to live out their faith above everything else, regardless of the cost.

Thomas Are
July 23, 2009
[1] Marc Ellis and Rosemary Rather Ruether, Beyond Occupation., p.100.
[2] Jacobo Timerman, The Longest War, Israel in Lebanon, p.158.

No comments:

Post a Comment