Readers Respond: Letters from Winter 2015
A NOTE ON LETTERS TO THE EDITOR:
We welcome your responses to our articles. Send your letters to the editor to firstname.lastname@example.org. Please remember, however, not to attribute to Tikkun views other than those expressed in our editorials. We email, post, and print many articles with which we have strong disagreements, because that is what makesTikkun a location for a true diversity of ideas. Tikkun reserves the right to edit your letters to fit available space in the magazine.
JUBILEE AND DEBT ABOLITION
Many thanks for yet another inspiring and stimulating magazine, for Winter 2015.
As you are aware, the theme of Jubilee and Debt Abolition was prominent at the turn of the millennium, especially in the UK. I wrote a reflection on the Jubilee movement of that time which was posted on http://www.integral-mission.org/blog.html (2nd post) The article celebrated what had been achieved and lamented that no more was at all likely. Instead of calling the creditors to be ‘forgiving’, the time had come to explore with the debtors limiting payments without the consent of the creditors. You may find this of interest.
Your magazine also re-provoked some thoughts I have had before about debt forgiveness. A few years ago I talked with a Ugandan professor of economics about starting up a small local savings and loans scheme. Christians in Uganda have a long and remarkable tradition of public specific confession of sin. I suggested that we incorporate this into the scheme. If someone defaults on a loan, they can be forgiven after public confession of sin. They would sign a posted notice at the scheme’s office, and maybe in the local newspaper, explaining the mistakes they had made. Their debt would then be forgiven. The whole community would, we trust, learn from their mistakes.
The professor thought the idea ridiculously generous. A Ugandan Bishop said, on the other hand, that he thought such public admission of failure would be too hard. Either way, the idea was considered unworkable. It would be nice to try it in practice and see what actually happens…
AN OLIVE ON THE SEDER PLATE
As you plan your Seder let me suggest an olive be added to the Seder plate.
Why an olive? Because, for slavery to truly be over, we must end our oppression of the Other. We as a people cannot truly be free so long as we are standing as occupiers of another people, and so long as the Palestinian people living under Israeli occupation cannot be assured that they will be able to provide for themselves and their children, today, tomorrow, and into the following generations.
In the lands of Israel and Palestine, olive groves provide this security. When olive groves are destroyed, the past and the future are destroyed.
Since October of 2000, millions of olive and fruit trees have been bulldozed in Occupied Palestine.
Most are simply destroyed; many others are uprooted, hauled away, and sold either in Israel or to Israeli settlers. Every destroyed or stolen tree is income taken from future generations of Palestinian farmers, creating and extending poverty, and pushing back the hopes of real peace and reconciliation.
Without peace and reconciliation, we are not free.
And so this year, we eat an olive, to remind us of the continuing injustice being done in our names, and to make real our understanding of what it means each time a bulldozer destroys a grove. Without the taste of olives, there will be no taste of freedom for Jews or for Palestinians anywhere in the world.
Barukh ata Adonai Eloheinu Melekh ha-olam, bo’re p’ri ha-etz. Blessed are you, Lord, our God, King of the Universe, who creates the fruit of the tree.
Will you join me in this prayer and the adding of an olive? L’shalom.
PARADIGM SHIFT JUDAISM
I read Shaul Magid’s essay with great interest (“Between Paradigm Shift Judaism and Neo-Hasidisim,” Tikkun, Winter 2015). Professor Magid uses Jan Assmann’s work on the translatability of deities in the ancient world as a source for his Jewish metaphysics for a “New Age.” For Magid, the ancient translatability of deities across cultures serves as a critical feature in what he calls a “post-monotheistic” metaphysics for today. Magid additionally draws on my book, God in Translation (Fortress Press), to show that the Bible itself contains examples of translatability. For Magid, this translatability is in the Bible because monotheism is not complete in the Bible; non-translatability (what Assmann calls “the Mosaic distinction”) is only really the case for a later philosophical monotheism represented by Maimonides: “Smith’s compelling claim is precisely correct to the extent that the Hebrew Bible is not monotheistic, at least not in the normative, Maimonidean sense.” In short, for Magid, Assman’s notion that monotheism precludes translatability of other deities with the Jewish God is realized in the form of a philosophical post-biblical monotheism: “While Smith may be correct when it comes to the Hebrew Bible, Paradigm Shift Judaism’s new postmonotheistic metaphysics is not a response to the Bible but rather to its reception in historical Judaism where the Mosaic distinction may be more palpable.” In this historical scheme, however, biblical monotheism as found in Genesis 1 and many other biblical works fits into neither the translatability of earlier biblical tradition nor the philosophical non-translatability of the likes of Maimonides.
Moreover, Magid’s New Age metaphysics is hardly “post-monotheistic.” (Admittedly, it’s a catchy turn of phrase.) Recognizing deities across religions in association with the Jewish God is not “post-monotheistic,” but intensively monotheistic. Furthermore, the discussion skips over biblical monotheism and its own non-philosophical expressions of divine oneness and its meanings. The power that biblical monotheism has for people lies partly in its capacity to evoke and invoke God in relation to the world without sacrificing divine transcendence. To my mind, because it entails both ontology and metaphor, biblical monotheism resists efforts at metaphysics alone that seeks to explain God and the world in a way that may appear overly rational from a biblical perspective. Indeed, this approach tends to reify God in a manner that strikes me as decidedly not biblical. As a reader of the Bible, I would question the translation of metaphor into metaphysics in the manner that Magid undertakes. Biblical monotheism offers a powerful kaleidoscope of many visions of God and the world; it continues to surprise, in a way that may be characterized as mysterious. Some may find the notion of mystery a bit of obfuscation, but it strikes me as offering a better reading of biblical monotheism. It holds together a vision of God’s ordered world, a good world infused with light in Genesis 1 on the one hand, and on the other hand, the vision of God and the chaotic world, evidently evil and dark, found in the book of Job. It also offers a way to face the terrible trauma when these two visions collide, as we see in the book of Lamentations, which both recounts the trauma and serves to help its audiences cope with it. By contrast, Magid’s discussion largely skips over biblical monotheism, by squeezing it into a philosophical teleology leading up to his metaphysics for a New Age. To my mind, this approach runs the risk of putting God in a box, not unlike Job and his three friends. Yet God in the Bible surprises, not only at the end of Job.
I fail to see how biblical monotheism cannot support, even sing for the social and political causes that Magid champions. For his effort, Magid cites the call at the end of my book: “Translatability of divinity is no mere academic task; it is a central task of human self-understanding. Otherwise, in this situation, something of our humanity—and arguably of our divinity—may be lost.” I welcome the effort that Magid displays, as well as others under exploration. However, when it comes to biblical monotheism, I think Tikva Frymer-Kensky in her book, In the Wake of the Goddess, comes closer to understanding the biblical vision of God’s mysterious oneness, which can link us together. It is also its deeply problematic character that can continue to challenge and, hopefully, inspire in a post-Holocaust world.
—Mark S. Smith
Skirball Professor of Bible and Ancient Near Eastern Studies at New York University
Shaul Magid replies:
Mark Smith’s learned response to my essay “Between Paradigm Shift Judaism and Neo-Hasidism” raises numerous issues worthy of a more lengthy response than I can give here.
Smith questions my deployment of the term “post-monotheism” as a way of describing the metaphysics of Zalman Schachter-Shalomi. He rightly notes that I want to tweak Jan Assmann’s “mosaic distinction” moving it from the biblical Moses (and thus the Hebrew Bible) to Moses Maimonides (and thus “normative” Judaism) who is arguably more metaphysically influential today than the Bible itself. And maybe not. And that is precisely my point.
As Smith notes, the Bible’s monotheism is surely more metaphoric and less metaphysical, more malleable and less dogmatic, borrowing from Assmann, more “cosmotheological” and less “monotheistic” as the term is often understood today. The tolerance the Bible had for “translatability” that Smith notes is all but rejected by Maimonides. For Maimonides “other gods” are not only less than the God of Israel (who is also the God of creation), they are false because they simply do not, and cannot, exist.
This metaphysical distinction surely did not receive unanimous support. The Zohar and Lurianic Kabbalah, for example, do not swallow the Maimonidean Kool-Aid albeit both work so deeply inside a Maimonidean orbit (even when they reject it) that their cosmotheism turns into the plurality of the (unified) godhead as opposed to the translatability to other deities. Kabbalah can thus be described as monotheized cosmotheism.
In this sense, Paradigm Shift Judaism calls out Kabbalah for what it is but cannot fully own. The New Age context and demise of any viable Jewish hegemony allows for that. Smith suggests that we simply go back to the pre-Maimonidean Bible and work from there. As a matter of scholarship, this is certainly tenable. But as a matter of Judaism, less so. Why? Because as my rosh yeshiva once told me, Judaism arguably cares less about what the Bible actually says and more about how it was received.
It is no accident that the medieval jurists forbade Jews reading the Bible outside its rabbinic interpretation. The Bible as it is, so to speak, is only so the extent to which the sages say it is. In deference to Smith, let me give another respected Bible scholar the last word. At the conclusion of his book The Bodies of God and the World of Ancient Israel, Benjamin Sommer writes, “It is meaningful to note that a kabbalist in the thirteenth century C.E. is a monotheist, whereas a worshipper of Marduk in the early first millennium B.C.E. is a polytheist – but it is also meaningful, and perhaps much more revealing, to note that they are much closer to each other in their understanding of the nature of divinity than they are to many other monotheists and polytheists respectively.
As much as this work argues that the terms ‘monotheist’ and ‘polytheist’ are useful starting places for a historian of religion, it also shows that they are no more than that.” Perhaps post-monotheism is one way of heuristically negotiating between these two liquid terms.
– Shaul Magid
WHAT DOES AMERICA NEED IN A NEW LEFT?
I find it dismaying that writer after writer in your Spring 2014 issue on America’s Left stated, almost as a matter of course, that any new Left would be “anti-capitalist.” I sense that this is a reaction to a lack of integrity in the multinational conglomerates that currently dominate the world economy. I agree. There is a lack of integrity. But if there are to be solutions to the problems created by environmental degradation and climate change, where will these solutions arise, except from within the free-enterprise system? Because we have a free-enterprise system, we can choose to save with a local credit union rather than a multinational bank; we can choose to get food from a farmers’ market or through Community Supported Agriculture; we can power our homes with solar energy; and we can patronize local merchants. Organizations like Green America and Transition US are showing us that as we support our local economies we create resilient communities where our dependence on multinational corporations is reduced and their power over us minimized. For now, I will continue to read Tikkun, but I will hope for some articles showing how men and women have worked within the free-enterprise system to create businesses that have integrity and a human face.
—Robert Lynn Kazmayer
Editor Michael Lerner responds:
Any society that adopts the new bottom line as articulated in the Spiritual Covenant with America (tikkun.org/covenant) and orients its economic, corporate, and political decisions toward maximizing love, generosity, and caring will be one that we enthusiastically embrace. There are members of the Network of Spiritual Progressives who believe that capitalist societies could be made to embody our new bottom line and many who disagree. Read Cynthia D. Moe-Lobeda’s Resisting Structural Evil: Love as Ecological-Economic Vocation, Jerry Mander’s The Capitalism Papers: Fatal Flaws of an Obsolete System, and Michael Edwards’s Small Change: Why Business Won’t Save the World for more on the obstacles to creating the caring society that we seek.
Here is my reaction to the various articles about a new Left in the spring issue of Tikkun. Over all, I think we have a forest vs. trees problem. The forest is our society, as reflected in our system of government. We are stuck with the U.S. Constitution unless and until we decide to change it. Our agreed upon system is a democracy, with voters electing a congress and a president. The people we elect have the power to make laws based on their judgment concerning important problems we have as a society. There will obviously be disagreements as to priorities and as to the best response to any particular problem. Their job is to look at the issues, carefully and honestly, reach conclusions, and take action. In this form of government, for a legislator to be anti-government per se would be a non-sequitor—unconstitutional, if you will.
As to the Left, while it’s historically true that its antecedents go back to socialism, the notion of the government owning the means of production is equally inconsistent with the assumptions underlying the U.S. Constitution. A key question now is the appropriate role of the public sector in addressing many current problems. We shouldn’t let the Right get away with yelling “socialism”. There is nothing inherent in capitalism, or in English or American law, which justifies a property owner in allowing his waste products to pollute the property of others.
I would like to see the Left: concentrate on identifying problems that reasonable people would agree exist; force the Right to take a position as to whether they do exist; if they do, what does the Right propose to do about them? In most cases, any response will involve some kind of governmental action. Over time, it may become evident that a fundamental question is whether the Right believes in our system of government or not, including the responsibilities which the Constitution assigns to our elected representatives.
Vero Beach, FL
YOUR WORDS ON ISRAEL IN GAZA
As an African American and father of a former U.S. Marine, I must thank you on bended knee for standing up for all humanity and for peace. You make me so proud, as I am sure you make billions of others proud. One day—one day, hopefully, we shall all live as loving brothers and sisters. Until then, stay strong and take courage. I can only imagine the vitriol that comes your way. May the G-d of Heaven bless all your efforts. Anachnu Acheem (I studied Hebrew in college).
I share Tikkun’s view regarding the moral imperative of recognizing the sadness of the suffering that occurs on all sides. About ten years ago a Palestinian co-organizer and I organized peace vigils in San Francisco’s Justin Herman Plaza. The point of our vigils was not to place blame but to acknowledge the shared suffering and experience what it feels like to come together on this common and deeply human ground: that no one wants to live with such tragedy, to experience such pain and loss. And we acknowledge this as humans, whether we be Jews, Palestinian Muslims, Palestinian Christians, or anyone else.
In a similar vein, I ask that you hold in mind that U.S. involvement in other parts of the world, as unskillful or hurtful as it sometimes is, can spring from positive, healing intentions. And sometimes intervention can be helpful or healing, too. This is a fascinatingly complex deal. In Syria, when we see one side being murdered with chemical weapons, the heart in us cries out to intervene. Is this wrong? Unclear. And then we read about some atrocities committed by groups within the opposition. How confusing. There can be an intention to intervene borne out of caring. There are very few black-and-white aspects here. Maybe the best we can do is acknowledge the shared suffering and continue to question when, whether, and how to become involved as a nation. Keep up the important intellectual and moral questioning, thought, and action!
San Francisco, CA
HAMAS HAS PROVEN ITSELF A HINDERANCE TO PEACE
It has barely been a month since the Western world expressed its support for the formation of a Palestinian unity government. Since then there have been kidnappings, murders, hundreds of rockets fired at civilian towns, and huge levels of violence. An escalation is imminent. The U.S. State Department said they would be watching closely to make sure that the Palestinian unity government would uphold the principles of peace; British Foreign Minister William Hague said, “We have made clear that our continued support to the new government will rest on its commitment to the principle of nonviolence.” How much more proof does the Western world need to acknowledge that Hamas isn’t part of the peaceful solution to the conflict the world desires?
Editor Michael Lerner responds:
Some Israelis have the quaint fantasy that they can choose the policies of their enemies. Or demand to make peace only with people they like. Wrong on both counts. If Israel wants peace, it should have embraced a reconciliation between Hamas and the Palestinian Authority rather than thwarted it. Hamas is an expression of a national liberation struggle of the Palestinian people, and such struggles often involve violence against the occupiers. We oppose Hamas’s targeting of Israeli civilians just as we decry Israel’s massive killing of Palestinians and destruction of the housing, the economic infrastructure, and much else in Gaza. Hamas and Israeli right-wing ultra-nationalist extremists are de facto allies, each giving the other the excuses they need to continue to escalate violence. Only nonviolence and a genuine attempt to understand the other side’s needs will lead to a lasting peace. That will never be achieved until Israel is willing to give up its right-wing government, end the occupation of the West Bank and the blockade of Gaza, and accept the terms for a lasting peace accord outlined in the Winter 2014 issue of Tikkun and more fully in my book Embracing Israel/Palestine.
If the Afghan people were to democratically elect the Taliban, or the Iraqis ISIS, the western world would abandon them to the sorry fate that they chose for themselves and certainly not give them money nor any moral support. So why is it different for the Palestinians? Hamas, which has shown in recent days its sheer disregard for the lives of the people that they are responsible for, did not come to power in a vacuum. Hamas, whose very raison d’être is anti-peace, anti-Jewish and dedicated to the destruction of Israel, was democratically elected by the Palestinian people. It is time for the international community to recognize this fact, and make the message clear to the Palestinian people that while they support a Palestinian state, statehood comes with responsibilities. The last thing the world needs is another terrorist state.
ANIMOSITY BETWEEN THE ABRAHAMIC RELIGIONS
Dear Rabbi Lerner, I was glad to read your article about Israel’s killing of Palestinians – especially horrendous is the massacre of children on the beach, in schools and shelters.
I was also totally repulsed by the whole page ad in today’s NYT [8/4/14] by This World: The Values Network, saying Jews rejected child sacrifice 3500 years ago now it’s Hamas’s turn!
Firstly, Jews didn’t reject child sacrifice. Abraham is revered for his obedience and willingness to go through with it. It was an angel who stayed his hand, not his own.
Second, there is no proof of such Canaanite practices only conjectures and arguments and all references to such supposed practices come later than the Abraham story. I discuss all of this in my book, Abraham on Trial: the Social Legacy of Biblical Myth. Israel is earning the ire and anger of many people around the world for its actions. Personally, I think the animosity and wars between peoples of the “Abrahamic” religions are interminable. They are like brothers fighting over the patrimony, each believing that they have the true word of God and know his will.
MILITARISM CREATES A THEM VS. US MENTALITY
Something you wrote recently ignited a bonfire of thoughts. In a commentary on the circumstances in Palestine you noted, “and we were talking about the distorting influence on young Israelis of having to serve in the IDF for 3 years before they could go on to college or university.” You went on to tell about how the people in this military role are transformed into negative thinking in relation to “the others”. You went on to state that this mode of thinking carries into life beyond military engagement. This in your dialogues with Rabbi Zalman.
The impact on me was the universal truth of this tendency. What occurs in Israel also occurs more generally. I worked with a concentration of veterans for several years, and I witnessed very similar attitudes. Military participation tends to do this, as this is the nature of the beast.
I will propose that we rid the world of militaries. Although it is sold as “defense”, the purpose and nature of military entities are to destroy and control. the purpose should tell us that these only create problems, death, destruction and also subjegation of populations within the “homeland”. The service people are trained to subdue, destroy, kill, etc., and their attitudes about their target population are very negative.
What is happening in Israel-Palestine is a peek into the relationship world-wide. Thank you, and let us do something about militarism in general.
“A LIGHT UNTO NATIONS”
I hate to say this, but we Jews seem to have become a “light unto nations” through our mistakes. To be specific, I can identify three major mistakes in our history that seem relevant to understanding the present conflict between the Israeli State and Palestinian’s demands:
a) the rejection of Christianity arguably led to the persistence of the doctrine of “an eye for an eye,” and — to the persistence of the power of the priestly castes, something that Christianity, especially in it’s early forms, utterly rejects and condemns. (I could expand on this subject at length by arguing that the complexity of Jewish religious laws necessitates an “authority” to interpret ethical principles thus undermining common sense. Jesus appears as a rebel amongst others for simplifying these hundreds of laws reducing them to “love thy neighbor as thyself” and “turn the other cheek”).
b) the refusal of a majority of Jews in the 1930′s to acknowledge the possibility of the rise of fascism which goes hand in hand with the rejection of socialism and the refusal to acknowledge the dark side of capitalism which contributed significantly to the rise of fascism in Nazi Germany and to the undermining of Jewish resistance, and finally
c) the inability, after the fact of the Holocaust, to draw lessons from it and apply them in the struggle for a homeland, the consequences of which are blatantly obvious today.
At the risk of simplifying matters through generalization (there have always been Jewish thinkers who foresaw these consequences —Jesus, Marx, Einstein) I believe a case can be made that these three events are linked not only historically but also conceptually to the Jewish faith, which in its broadest sense encompasses not only the creation myth and the story of exodus, but the entire body of Jewish literature.
The dominant narrative in Jewish literature is that of the victimization of innocents. And there are numerous reasons why that narrative does not conform to the real historical facts. First of all, while individuals cannot be held responsible for the Holocaust, there is such a thing as a collective responsibility: with hindsight we can argue that if Jews had known what was coming they could have taken action to prevent the rise of fascism by collectively supporting the socialist cause. But many Jews, especially in Germany were vehemently opposed to socialism and communism and favored assimilation as a strategy.
I don’t want to stress this point because it can easily be conflated with the anti-Semitic claim of a Jewish conspiracy favoring the bankers, but the refusal or inability to see the true nature of capitalism proved fatal. And it also proved fatal in the creation of the Jewish state because it provided the incentive for land-grabbing and the expulsion of Palestinians, their exclusion from trade unions, the exploitation of Palestinian labor throughout the 1950s to 1980s and finally to the building of settlements, the theft of water resources and the use of high-tech military hardware and technology which is a major source of income for Israel, even though this income does not benefit the Jewish population at large.
Israel today is a super-capitalist state of the worst possible kind. It is a “light unto nations” in that its bad example demonstrates clearly what happens when capitalism is given free reign. To the argument “how can a people that experienced the Holocaust repeat this mistake” I therefore answer: how could they not, given the failure to acknowledge how capitalism persists and finds legitimacy through racism, fear and ignorance? This could happen to anybody and is in fact happening all over the world right now. Think about what this means in your own country!
— Daniel Waterman
The Hague, Netherlands
THE COMPLEXITIES OF MOTIVATION
I have read your recent emails with interest and have a couple humble suggestions. I admire you for viewing the full and great complexity of the situation and for acknowledging the sadness when tragedy occurs. Even as I don’t always agree, or always with the same weighting or nuance of thought, I think that seeing and responding to the situation without oversimplifying is extremely difficult and I applaud your efforts to do that.
As humans, we (understandably) tend to simplify things so that our minds can grasp them and so we may feel comfortable.
I share your view regarding the importance, the moral imperative, of recognizing the sadness of the suffering that occurs on all sides. When you ask (prior note) why Jews aren’t praying for victims on both sides, that implies, or feels like, an all-or-nothing statement. While some (many?) do not mention the other side, as illustrated in your Sabbath service example, many do care and pray for both sides, and I think it’s important to acknowledge that, too. I do. I know many Jews who take a middle or strong position favoring Israel, who acknowledge and pray for both sides. In response to the murder of the Palestinian teen, leaders in the Bay Area Jewish community issued this unequivocal condemnation, which begins: “We are heartbroken to learn that a Palestinian teenager, Muhammad Hussein Abu Khdeir, was kidnapped and brutally murdered in Jerusalem less than a day after Naftali Fraenkel, Gilad Shaar and Eyal Yifrah were laid to rest. Jewish tradition teaches that all human beings are created in the image of G-d and are precious.”
About ten years ago I organized peace vigils in Justin Herman Plaza. I found a Palestinian co-organizer, and the whole point of our vigils was not to place blame but to acknowledge the shared suffering, to acknowledge the sadness of the situation, to experience what it feels like to come together on this important piece of common and deeply-human ground: that no one wants to live with such tragedy, to experience such pain and loss, and we acknowledge this as humans, whether we be Jews, Palestinian Muslims, Palestinian Christians, or anyone else.
In a similar vein, I ask that you hold in mind that U.S. involvement in other parts of the world, as unskillful or hurtful as it sometimes is, can spring from positive, healing intentions. And sometimes intervention can be helpful or healing, too. This is a fascinatingly complex deal. Yes, many of our leaders have blinders, make decisions based on self-interest alone or grabbing (oil? pride? image? comfort? ego?), but there are many of our fellow citizens (and leaders, I think/hope) who actually care and actually want to help or heal the world in much the same way as Tikkun or as I (with different approaches or conclusions, perhaps).
I am fascinated by this complexity. Take Iraq, for instance. It sure seems unhelpful, unskillful and unwise for us to go in. Worse, we went in under false pretenses and convinced others to do the same. Yet even here, it is quite complex. We must also acknowledge that Saddam did some pretty awful things to his people. We must acknowledge that some (too few, perhaps) based their reason for wanting to intervene not on WMDs but on helping to spare an oppressed people from a brutal dictator. We must acknowledge that the lives of some improved by our intervention, and the lives of some (many?) became worse. We must acknowledge that we don’t know what would have happened had we not intervened. Is it possible Iraq would have arrived at this state of affairs eventually via another route? We just don’t know. In Syria, when we see one side being murdered, including use of chemical weapons, the heart in us cries out to intervene, to try to stop the pain. Is this wrong? Unclear. And then we read about some atrocities committed by groups within the opposition. How confusing. There can be an intention to intervene borne out of caring. Not just the ego or the conquest or proving our own “rightness.”
Apologies for the length of this. I guess my main point is that there are very few black-and-white aspects here. What is such a struggle for me, and I suspect for others, is that it feels like some of these situations, for example, Iraq/ISIS, are of the damned-if-we-do, damned-if-we-don’t variety. If this is true, maybe the best we can do is sit with (acknowledge) the reality and complexity of it all, do our best, acknowledge the struggle, the shared suffering, continue to question when, whether and how to become involved as a nation, and, at minimum, when we do act, to act from a place of noble intentions.
Keep up the important intellectual and moral questioning, thought and action!
THANK YOU FOR THE INSPIRATION—FROM AUSTRALIA
You are a voice of truth and inspiration to those who lament and are pained by the great injustices of this world … including especially the cruel and dishonest Israeli occupation of Palestine. I am 65 years, Australian Irish with a Roman Catholic background and upbringing. I came to know about you and Tikkun earlier this year. Through your writings and commentary, which abound with wisdom, charity and intellectual integrity, you have rescued me from despair and renewed my faith in mankind and the spiritual presence of the Almighty in this world. Thank you … and please continue to do God’s work as you have been doing so diligently and selflessly.
It is of real regret to me personally and to my great shame as an Australian that the Australian Government has recently chosen, without any mandate from the Australian community (possibly excluding the Zionist Lobby here), to re-name “Occupied East Jerusalem” as the “Disputed Territory”. Please be assured that this decision has been met with widespread disapproval in Australia. The Abbot Government, since it took office just over 12 months ago has displayed remarkable indifference to and cruelty across a wide spectrum of human rights and social justice issues, particularly in respect of international refugees, but also in respect of disadvantaged communities in Australia, such as the unemployed and disabled … a tragic philosophy of ‘punish the victims’ prevails … at least for now. Many in Australia are very, very unhappy with the flagrant immoralities being attempted/perpetrated in their name.
Thank you again for your work and encouragement for those of us in the world who share your anguish but lack your courage, sincerity and ability to communicate so effectively.