This week a friend who had read my blogs asked if I were making any headway with my Jewish friend, Larry. I answered that I do not expect to change Larry’s understanding of the Israel/Palestinian situation. After all, he is going to be slow to accept or believe anything I say. I am not Jewish. My only hope is that he might be influenced by the numerous Jewish authors, journalists and historians who are writing with more clarity and passion than I ever could. Larry shares their respect for the moral teachings of Judaism which I believe sooner or later will touch his conscience.
Of course, Larry has probably never heard of these courageous Jewish writers, but I can’t help but wonder how he would respond to them if he ever would read them. Would he think that they also needed to be enlightening?
Michael Lerner - - Editor of Tikkun
--- We call upon Jews in Israel and around the world to...adopt a stance of
open-hearted repentance for the unnecessary pain Israel has inflicted on the Palestinian people.[i]
--- Israel’s attempt to regain control by denying food to hundreds of thousands of men, women and children, by raiding homes and dragging out the their occupants in the middle of the night to stand for hours in the cold, by savagely beating a civilian population and breaking its bones — these activities are deplorable in any civilized human being.
--- Stop the beatings, stop the breaking of bones, 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 self-determination that we Jews have...”[ii]
---Yet by 1948 the Jew was able not only to “defend himself” but to commit massive atrocities as well. Indeed, according to the former director of the Israeli archives, “in almost every Arab village occupied by us during the War of Independence, acts were committed which are defined as war crimes, such as murder, massacres, and rapes.”[iii]
--- The Two State notion is essentially a code word for the maintenance of the status quo … More than a half-century of chewing and gnawing away at Palestinian land has left the latter more a rag-doll on a stick than the framework for a living social organism. Down to some 8 percent of the original territory, surrounded by the IDF, laced with Jewish-only roads, and peppered with hundreds of settlements that arrogate the water and best land, a dumping ground for Israeli waste, its fields and olive trees destroyed, its land carved up by the “apartheid wall,” the potential Palestinian state is no more than a bad joke… more aptly called a concentration camp than a state-in-waiting.[iv]
--- Today, Israel could have security, normalization of relations, and integration into the region. But it very clearly prefers illegal expansion, conflict, and repeated exercise of violence, actions that are not only criminal, murderous, and destructive but are also eroding its long-term security.[v]
---has identified what he calls the myth of Jewish innocence … It has the effect of making only our suffering important and erasing that of others, even where the others’ suffering is caused by us. The interest of the Jews always occupy center stage; the experience or point of view of others is secondary.[vi]
--- As of 2009, more than 24,000 Palestinian homes have been destroyed – homes, we must add, of people who had already lost their homes inside Israel in 1948 and after.[vii]
---Some 350,000 Palestinians, trapped between the border and the wall, face impoverishment, alienation from their land and water, and eventual transfer. Entire cities like Qalqiliya and Tulkarm have been completely encircled.[viii]
--- You may not give out information about the abridgement of human rights in occupied Palestine, or talk about targeted assassinations, house demolitions, humiliating and life threatening restrictions on movement, or any other examples of Palestinian suffering, without presenting what is usually termed the “other side.” The “other side” is the recognition of the suffering of the Israelis, who are faced with terrorist attacks and the threat of annihilation… In my experience, the demand for “balance” is almost always made as a way to invalidate and neutralize scrutiny if those actions of Israel that are, in my view, the root cause of the threat to its own well-being and survival.[ix]
Larry’s conflict is not with me. It is not even with the Palestinians. His real conflict is with his own faith. There is no way that he can reconcile the teaching of the Jewish prophets with the conduct of the State of Israel.
I remember Marc Ellis saying that Jews today are in exactly the same spot where Christians were in the fourth century. Christians had to choose between the ethics and morality of their faith and the power of Constantine. He said that the Christians made the wrong choice then and we have not recovered yet. Jews today, he argues are having to choose between the ethics and morality of their faith and the power of the State of Israel. He cries when he sees so many of his fellow Jews making the wrong choice .
June 22, 2011
[i].Michael Lerner, Healing: Israel/Palestine, (Tikkun Books, San Francisco, 2003) p. 137
[ii].Rosemary Radford Ruether and Marc Ellis, Beyond Occupation, (Beacon Press, Boston., 1990) p. 99-100.
[iii] Norman Finkelstein, Image and Reality of the Israel-Palestine Conflict. P.110.
[iv] Joel Kovel, Overcoming Zionism, (Pluto Press, London, 2007) p.216
[v] Norm Chomski and Ilan Peppe, Gaza in Crisis, p. 123.
[vi] Mark Braverman, Fatal Embrace. p.93.
[vii] Jeff Halper, Obstacles to Peace, p.46.
[viii] Ibid., p.38.
[ix] Mark Braverman, Fatal Embrace, p. 9.