UPCOMING CONFERENCE CALL

Monday, August 4th — 2:00 p.m. EDT / 11:00 a.m. PDT

Sami Awad will be speaking to us from Palestine on the Israel/Gaza War. Sami Awad is the Executive Director of Holy Land Trust (HLT), a Palestinian non-profit organization which he founded in 1998 in Bethlehem. HLT works with the Palestinian community at both the grassroots and leadership levels in developing nonviolent approaches that aim to end the Israeli occupation and build a future founded on the principles of nonviolence, equality, justice, and peaceful coexistence.

Sami Awad will call in from Bethlehem, Palestine and will be joined by Rabbi Michael Lerner and Cat Zavis (executive director of the Network of Spiritual Progressives).

Conference Call Number: 1-267-507-0240

Conference Code: 241099

Please Note: This Call is for or NSP–Network of Spiritual Progressives currently paid-up members, Tikkun subscribers and Beyt Tikkun members. (Call our office at 510-644-1200 or click here to join today!)

Articles Worth Reading From Around the Web

Editor’s Note: Rabbi David Seidenberg, one of the most creative rabbinic voices explicating the Jewish mystical tradition and championing the environment, presents an important Jewish religious perspective on the religious ethical issues raised by Israel’s war in Gaza. Please share these articles with anyone you know in the Jewish world who has given blanket support to Israel’s current actions in Gaza. Also please read the article by Peter Beinart on the lies being told by the American Jewish establishment and the impassioned plea from Israeli pop singer Noa.

Rabbi Michael Lerner

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One Broken People to Another: We recommend you read Rabbi David Seidenberg article on Jewish ethics and the war in Gaza. Rabbi David Seidenberg is the creator of neohasid.org and author of Kabbalah and Ecology: God’s Image in the More-Than-Human World, forthcoming from Cambridge University Press.

The Talmud (Beitzah 32b) says that the Jews are a compassionate people (rachmanim), and that someone who claims to be Jewish but doesn’t show the quality of compassion is not really a Jew. Sefer Chinukh (Yitro42) says that Jews are “compassionate people, sons and daughters of compassionate people”. The Zohar (1:174a) even says that when Jacob received the name Israel after wrestling the angel, that this was in order to allow Jacob to become attached to this quality of compassion.According to rabbinic tradition (both midrash and Kabbalah), the most important name of God, YHVH (often translated as Lord), is also tied to compassion, whereas the name Elohim (God) is tied to God’s judgment. The Zohar explains that Jacob was renamed Israel in order to bring down into the world that quality of YHVH’s compassion.At the same time, there still is a need for God’s judgment. When is that? Says the Zohar (ibid.), “When the wicked abound in the world, God’s name becomes Elohim” – because God must bring judgment upon the wicked in order to save the world.

Now listen again to what Netanyahu is saying. He is not just prosecuting a war, he is carrying out a judgment, deciding between those who should have immunity, and those who should not. It is as if Bibi were casting the IDF in the role of instrument of God’s judgment. Bibi sounds a note of compassion (“we have to try to minimize civilian casualties”), but he does so in order to validate that what is raining down upon Hamas is truly justice, not just vengeance.But what is justice, and what is vengeance?”

Read the full article...

 

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An Open Letter to the Wind: A passionate letter from popular Israeli singer Noa.

Greetings from our corner of the Middle East, where all hell has recently broken loose.

Terrorized, anguished and depressed, frustrated, angry….each emotional tidal wave competing with the other for domination over my heart and head…none prevail, I am drowning in the boiling ocean which is all of them combined.There is a missile alert every hour somewhere near my home. In Tel Aviv, its worse.

My son and I stopped our car in the middle of the street today and rushed to a nearby corridor as the piercing siren went off…a few minutes later we heard three loud booms that shook the walls. In the south it’s unbearable. Their lives down there have come to a standstill, their livelihood crushed; they spend most of their time in bomb shelters. A large part of the missiles are intercepted by our defense system, but not all. Every civilian is a target, our children are traumatized, the emotional scars are irreversible. And the tunnels, dug underground, reaching the very doorstep of some of the Kibbutzim on the Gaza border…in the dark dungeons of my nightmares I imagine what they are intended for: smuggling, kidnapping, torturing, murdering…. !

Our soldiers are on the front line. These are our sons, the sons of our friends and neighbors, the young men and women of this country called to duty by their government…and already, coffins draped in the flag, tear drenched funerals, shattered lives, Kadish…the well known, devastating routine.And the Gazans.. Oh lord, the Gazans…what could possibly be more miserable and horrible than what these people have to endure? Will their destiny be forever to suffer under the hands of cruel tyrants? The pictures of the bleeding children, the crying mothers in blood stained clothes, the rubble and devastation, the terror in their eyes, 5 minutes at best to get out of your house, to run for your lives because the bombs are falling…no shelter…the Taliban tactics of Hamas on one side and the F16 bombers of the Israeli army on the other, these people are clamped like walnuts, crushed by the thick metal jaws of blindness and stupidity!….the death toll rising and rising…for God’s sake….how much longer will this go on??

Read the full letter…

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Gaza Myths and Facts, what the American Jewish Leaders Won’t Tell You: Excerpts from a terrific new piece by Peter Beinart. It appeared in Ha’aretz and it is essential reading, especially useful for rebutting the Jewish community’s myths about Gaza.

If you’ve been anywhere near the American Jewish community over the past few weeks, you’ve heard the following morality tale: Israel left the Gaza Strip in 2005, hoping the newly independent country would become the Singapore of the Middle East. Instead, Hamas seized power, ransacked greenhouses, threw its opponents off rooftops and began launching thousands of rockets at Israel….To grasp the perversity of using Gaza as an explanation for why Israel can’t risk a Palestinian state, it helps to realize that Sharon withdrew Gaza’s settlers in large measure because he didn’t want a Palestinian state.

By 2004, when Sharon announced the Gaza withdrawal, the Road Map for Peace that he had signed with Mahmoud Abbas was going nowhere. Into the void came two international proposals for a two state solution. The first was the 2002 Arab Peace Initiative, in which every member of the Arab League offered to recognize Israel if it returned to the 1967 lines and found a “just” and “agreed upon” solution to the problem of Palestinian refugees. The second was the 2003 Geneva Initiative, in which former Israeli and Palestinian negotiators publicly agreed upon the details of a two state plan. As the political scientists Jonathan Rynhold and Dov Waxman have detailed, Sharon feared the United States would get behind one or both plans, and pressure Israel to accept a Palestinian state near the 1967 lines.

“Only an Israeli initiative,” Sharon argued, “will keep us from being dragged into dangerous initiatives like the Geneva and Saudi initiatives.”…It’s no surprise, therefore, that the Gaza withdrawal did not meet minimal Palestinian demands. Not even the most moderate Palestinian leader would have accepted a long-term arrangement in which Israel withdrew its settlers from Gaza while maintaining control of the Strip’s borders and deepening Israeli control of the West Bank. (Even in the 2005, the year Sharon withdrew from Gaza, the overall settler population rose, in part because some Gazan settlers relocated to the West Bank).

Read the full article…

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A Statement from JStreet on the Gaza Conflict:

For more than three weeks now, fierce violence has raged between Israel and Hamas, taking an enormous toll in human life and suffering. J Street is deeply shocked and saddened by the losses suffered in this round of violence, from dozens of Israeli soldiers and civilians to the more than a thousand Gaza residents dead, and thousands more wounded.Our hearts go out to the families of all those who have died or been injured, in particular the children whose lives have been cut short by this deadly conflict. The devastation and homelessness in Gaza must be addressed immediately or the suffering there will only continue to lay the seeds for further and deeper violence. J Street’s position on the violence and our recommendations for actions to end it are as follows…

Read the full statement…


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