In one of his “Early Addresses” titled “Judaism and Mankind,” Martin Buber said:

Every man whose soul attains unity, who decides, within his own self, for the pure and against the impure, for the free and against the unfree, for the creative and against the uncreative, every man who drives the moneylenders out of his temple, participates in the great process of Judaism.

Though I’m Catholic, these words resonate with me and, like much of Martin Buber’s accessible discourse, serves as a reminder of the sheer idiocy of any form of supersessionism: the belief that Christian faith yields a holier heart and mind than what is contained in Judaism. Indeed, Martin Buber delivered those words over a hundred years ago, between 1909 and 1911; just this week, a glaring headline in the National Catholic Reporter read “Vatican office calls religious sisters, priests to live poorly, reject capitalism.”

Perhaps many of the holy rollers of my church, the Roman Catholic Church – the very ones whose high on the hog living is now the subject of Pope Francis’s reforms – would have done well to read some Martin Buber before making bank off the name of a poor first-century Jew who was killed at 33-years-old by Pontius Pilate. But isn’t a slow learning curve better than none at all?

Even though I am not Jewish, the issue of supersessionism is something I take very seriously. For starters, I see its lingering psychological footprints and legacy literally all over our national political discourse; a discourse so often consumed over worries about the “blowback” effects of the Israeli government’s transgressions against Palestinians, yet treats the for-pay U.S. soldiers who have participated in massive-scale war crimes and humiliation of Iraqis and Afghans as de facto moral untouchables. Moreover, on a personal level, I see supersessionism for the phoniness that it is: How could I not, given that I belong to a church run by men so spiritually demented as to put on the same moral plane sexual acts between two consenting adults and a grown adult who sexually molests a child? “All sin is sin,” as a Catholic priest once told me when I highlighted the Catholic Church’s demented sexual ethics, and the disastrous effects those demented ethics have on real people.

Supersessionism, and the spiritual pomposity that goes along with it, is not simply unjust; it is actually dangerous for actual human beings who are living on this actual planet.

Some readers of my blog posts on Tikkun Daily may wonder why someone who espouses such radical liberal views – wanting to end the for-pay soldiery, promoting same-sex marriages not only for lovers but as a way for our undocumented brothers and sisters to achieve U.S. citizenship, along with any other number of radical liberal positions – takes such a strong stance not only in support of Israel as a Jewish state, but in taking on those I believe to be attacking Israel’s right to exist as a Jewish state.

For me, it all comes back to supersessionism, and my awareness of its persistent physical, actual danger, every bit as much as I’m aware of the physical, actual danger of alligators when I sojourn through the Florida Everglades. I love what God has created, but I cannot pretend that the spiritual alligators of this world are not there; they have harmed my life, my safety and my well-being, and I see the danger they pose to others, including the Jewish people.

Thus, my support for Israel as a Jewish state has no grounding whatsoever in conservative, or even moderate, political thought, and it certainly has nothing to do with a belief that Palestinians deserve less rights than Israelis. Rather, it is based on my lived awareness of the persistent spiritual and physical dangers associated with supersessionism. As such, I am obligated, by mind and spirit, to support Israel’s right to exist expressly as a Jewish state, with a minority Arab population that is granted full and equal rights – a position similar to what the great Martin Buber articulated so many decades ago.

What, then, from my standpoint could be considered an optimal discourse to address the need of Israelis to maintain their statehood as a Jewish state with a Palestinian minority population, and Palestinians across the Green Line to achieve statehood for themselves? And what about the Palestinian Right of Return, a right which if implemented inside the Green Line, would effectively end the Jewish state as a Jewish state?

I would argue the way is for a framework of moral addition to emerge, not a framework of moral subtraction: namely, literally adding to the moral framework of this conflict resolution through the use of additional lands – for both Israelis and Palestinians. Lands, that is, that would be legally purchased and negotiated, not wrested by force.

For example, should the duly-elected government of Israel publicly declare that it wishes to include the territory of the Golan Heights into its permanent borders, such a declaration should not be considered a scandal – or an act of “empire building” – but an opportunity; an opportunity to help secure the Jewish state through peaceful means. As the U.S. already gives $3 billion a year in foreign aid to Israel, the United States should consider purchasing, on behalf of Israel, the Golan Heights from a post-Assad government in Syria. No war. No conquest. But rather a negotiated purchase and transfer of land from what will, hopefully, be a new state of Syria led by a democratic and human rights-respecting government, to the state of Israel.

The same for Palestinians: namely, in addition to most of the West Bank and all of Gaza, the U.S. should consider purchasing uninhabited rural lands in southern Syria from the future Syrian government on behalf of Palestine. All Palestinians in the diaspora would be allowed to resettle in any three of the territories of the state of Palestine. Additionally, the U.S. should fund a state-of-the-art, high-speed railway connecting all three territories of Palestine; a rail system which would be under shared security administration of both Palestine and Israel.

These U.S. land purchases for both Israel and Palestine, if they are to be holy, must be completely delinked from a massive U.S. foreign aid package – something along the lines of a Marshall Plan – that should be offered to the people of Syria as they rebuild their country from the sheer horror and destruction inflicted by the Assad regime. In other words, no matter what response a future Syrian government would have to these land purchase proposals, we as Americans, and really all the world, should commit ourselves to help the Syrian people rebuild their devastated infrastructure.

Where, oh where, you may be asking, is all this money going to come from to help forge a U.S. Middle East policy based on moral addition and not moral subtraction?

For starters, if we ended the wholly immoral, wholly disastrous for-pay, standing soldiery that is currently housed in the U.S. Army and Marines, and transformed the U.S. Army into a genuinely all-volunteer force – meaning people only volunteer to defend their country or serve as peacekeepers, not get paid to engage in wars of aggression – that alone would save hundreds of billions of dollars each year, and make America far more safe than at present. Indeed, there is no greater threat to our American freedom and domestic security than our own government continuing to train young men to A) kill people and B) kill people and feel no remorse whatsoever and C) brainwash them – and all of us – into believing that such killing has anything whatsoever to do with love for our country.

Martin Buber, in his address mentioned at the outset of this post, was addressing German Jews at the turn of the 20th Century. But I believe there is a universality and timelessness to his message that we not only can access here in 2014 America, but help to guide us as we cope with the massive injustices carried out by the U.S. government, both domestically and in the foreign realm. Again, from Buber:

Every man whose soul attains unity, who decides, within his own self, for the pure and against the impure, for the free and against the unfree, for the creative and against the uncreative, every man who drives the moneylenders out of his temple, participates in the great process of Judaism.

If you wish to leave private comments for Timothy Villareal, he can be contacted at timothymvillareal@gmail.com


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