We received the note below from the National Jewish Democratic Council lauding Obama for his embrace of what is in essence the Jewish establishment and AIPAC position on all major issues between Israel and Palestine. While we too seek an Israel that is strong and secure, we also seek an Israel whose moral strength is reflected in its ability to do repentance for the ways it has brutalized and oppressed Palestinians (even as we recognize that Israelis too have suffered from violence from Palestinians, and that the story must be told in a nuanced and balanced way). But there is nothing nuanced or balanced in what the Obama Administration is saying or doing these days.
One of many bright moments that happened at the J Street conference: In a workshop attended by a good thousand people in a session after Dennis Ross delivered the talk printed below, the Al Jazeera speaker commented that J Street ought to be ashamed to have had Dennis Ross deliver the keynote speech because he has been positioned for the past twenty years as one of the most powerful obstructionist forces to any chance of the US adopting a peace plan that could conceivably satisfy the minimal needs of the Palestinians. At least half the audience in that workshop cheered and yooped wildly in support of that criticism. Read his talk below and then try to figure out why many J Street participants felt disturbed at Ross' speech (though still, as we are, strongly supportive of J Street and its accomplishments)
And then we have the statement by David Harris, former chair of the American Jewish Committee and now exec director of the NJDC, praising Obama for his consistent support of the current Israeli government's policies and demands at the U.N. including his Administration's recent veto of a resolution condemning Israeli expansion of settlements in the West Bank. Have these people no shame?
Israeli author and chair of Gush Shalom in Tel Aviv Uri Avnery argues that what has been happening in the Arab world has lasting significance even if it is temporarily repressed or diverted in less revolutionary directions.
[Meanwhile, have you signed up yet for the 25th Anniversary Celebration of Tikkun Magazine--if not, please do it now at www.tikkun.org/celebrate or at least make a tax-deductible contribution to help us keep goingl Check to Tikkun, 2342 Shattuck Ave, #1200, Berkeley, Ca. 94704].
Editor's note: Naomi Klein's analysis dovetails closely with our reason for presenting Justice Goldstone with one of the Tikkun Awards at the 25th Anniversary Celebration March 14 at the University of California Berkeley.
Tikkun has been the voice of progressive Jews for 25 years--and through that time we've challenged (and in turn been denounced by) many of the organizations of Jewish life in the US to speak more honestly about the human rights violations perpetrated by the governments of Israel in their treatment of Palestinians. While others have made these critiques, Tikkun, and now Goldstone, cannot be ignored in the way that other groups have, because our commitment to Israel's survival and flourishing is so transparently obvious, as is our commitment to Judaism and God.
Now, through our Network of Spiritual Progressives, we are also a voice for those Christians and other non-Jews who have the courage to join us in our insistence that Israel's best interest lies with open-hearted reconciliation with the Palestinian people, and that it is generosity of spirit, not military domination, that will utlimately provide Israel with security.
One need only look at Tunisia or Egypt to know how crazy Israel and the US both have been when they've relied instead on alliances with the most repressive regimes in the Middle East, rather than attempting to build ties with the people of the region by acting in a generous and caring way toward the hundred millions Arabs that surround Israel.
One way to get that message heard is to register and come to the event honoring Justice Goldstone. Let him known that Americans, both Jewish and non-Jewish, really support his work. After the House of Representatives, at the time overwhelmingly Democratic, voted to denounce his report and the Hillary Clinton-Barack Obama State Department urged the UN to not take it seriously, Americans can now stand up and honor Goldstone--who will come to Berkeley to receive this award. Be there to show solidarity with him and with Tikkun!!! Registration: www.tikkun.org/celebrate
Naomi Klein did not write her article with Tikkun in mind, it was excerpted from a book on Goldstone and appeared in The Nation, but we are showing it to you because it speaks to one set of reasons for why Goldstone deserves your public support. It is not unlikely that he will be picketed when he speaks in the US--so we need you to be there to honor him.
Of course, there's another reason to come to our 25th--to honor Tikkun magazine's accomplishments.
And if you really really cannot come for reasons of distance, then organize an event in your own area that night- perhaps invite people to your local political, religious or civic organization and have a night in which you read articles from Tikkun and discuss them and convince friends or others to subscribe to Tikkun and/or to join the Network of Spiritual Progressives at www.spiritualprogressives.org.