David Grossman is one of the greatest Israeli novelists and his sensitivity to the nuances of daily life in Israel is exquisite. For those who don’t understand how far Israeli racism toward Arabs has led that country away from traditional values, just read his latest article (translated by Sol Salbe of the Middle East News Service) and contrast it with the Torah perspective articlated in Deuteronomy Chapter 21 sentences 1-9:
Omar Abu Jariban, a resident of the Gaza Strip, staying illegally in Israel, stole a car and was seriously injured while driving it. He was released from the Sheba Medical Centre while his treatment was still ongoing and handed over to the custody of the Rehovot Police station. The police were unable to identify him. He himself was bewildered and confused. The Rehovot Police officers decided to get rid of him. According to Chaim Levinson’s account, they loaded him onto a police van at night accompanied by three policemen. He was still attached to a catheter, was wearing an adult nappy and a hospital gown. Two days later he was found dead by the roadside.
Today, our ad saying “No” to a first strike (preemptive attack) by either Israel or the U.S. on Iran appeared in the New York Times (in the National Edition it is on page A19).
The media has distorted what has been going on between Obama and Netanyahu, representing it as Obama standing up to Netanyahu and being a hero for peace. But actually what happened is that Obama legitimated a first strike and preemptive attack on Iran, arguing with Netanyahu about the timing of such an attack, seeking to allow coercive economic sanctions to work first, but stating explicitly that Israel should not be constrained in any way to follow what it decides to be in its best national interest in regard to a strike on Iran. That’s why AIPAC gave him a standing ovation when Obama addressed them a few days ago.
A 2009 anti-nuclear demonstration in Tel Aviv.
Would you please help us put an ad in the New York Times, Washington Post (or maybe also Ha’aretz and Yediot in Israel, and other media, depending on how much money we can raise) to put public pressure on President Obama to NOT agree to overtly or covertly approve an Israeli preemptive strike on sites where Iran is developing its nuclear capacities?
Click HERE to see the ad and hopefully make a donation.
As of now, Iran does not have those capacities, and though Israeli leaders are arguing that they must strike now before it becomes impossible to block the development of nuclear weapons, U.S. intelligence sources said on Friday, Feb. 24th, that Iran had not made any decision to go forward with developing nuclear weapons. You can view a sample version of the ad below(though when it is layed out beautifully on a full page in the NY Times and Washington Post, it will not look as wordy as it looks now, and there will be room for the names of some who have signed and donated to it). These ads are expensive, but they’ve been effective for the political Right and we need to help make more visible the peace-oriented majority of Americans who don’t support another war. We need to move quickly because high-level decisions on this are being made soon.
Syrian activists say these five children were killed by the shelling of pro-Assad forces in Homs, Syria on Jan. 26. / Local Coordination Committees in Syria
I and many other progressive Jews demand an end to Syrian genocide and a boycott of Russian and Chinese products– so as long as those countries refuse to join in active measures to replace the Assad government. I call upon the world community to intervene and stop the genocide being waged by the Assad government against the people of Syria.
The world must not sit idly by on the blood of the democracy- and human rights-seeking people of Syria against their brutal dictatorship. The Syrian regime has already killed more than 5,000 of its own citizens, and tens of thousands have been wounded or arrested and tortured. This is a crime against humanity, and it deserves a powerful intervention from the West.
Can you join us this Saturday for Beyt Tikkun Torah study (the portion that includes “the ten commandments”) and for our Tu B’shvat seder followed by a veggie pot-luck? Please let firstname.lastname@example.org know so that we can buy the right amount of food for the seder and supplement for the pot-luck! The only admission charge is to bring a main course vegetarian dish for the pot-luck– something you’d feel honored if someone else served to you! And if you can’t, come anyway and bring your friends. The event takes place at the Friends Meeting House on the NE corner of Vine and Walnut in Berkeley at 2151 Vine St.
The exciting news is that the extraordinary commentator on Torah, Dr. Mark Kirschbaum, will be visiting and teaching us both in the Torah study and in the Tu B’shvat seder, along with Rabbi Lerner. Kirschbaum’s Torah commentary appear weekly onTikkun Daily; theyare a rare blend of contemporary (mostly European continental) philosophy and wisdom from the Hasidic masters of Torah commentary.
Demonstrators and clergy carrying a golden calf in the shape of a Wall Street bull march from Judson Memorial Church to Zuccotti Park on Sunday, October 9, 2011. / Tom Martinez and Dennis Hearn
The local chapter of NSP in Washington, D.C. has been involved in creating an alternative to the standard conservative prayer breakfast that takes place each year, and we are inviting you to do the same in your community. We’ve been working with Occupy Faith D.C. to create “the People’s Prayer Breakfast.” You can do the same in your area of the country. It doesn’t have to be this week – take your time and make sure you do outreach to Jewish, Christian, Muslim, Hindu, Ba’hai, Sikh, Wicca, Buddhist, Quaker, Unitarian, Religious Science, and all other possible communities of faith to get them involved in the planning.
Challenged by interviewer Michael Krasny on the NPR affiliate KQED’s Forum show Tuesday morning to defend one part of Embracing Israel/Palestine (my claim that the path to peace requires a transformation of consciousness, and that Israel and Palestine not only could live together in peace but that there is no peace and justice for Israel without peace and justice for Palestine, so the best way to be both pro-Israel is to be pro-Palestine, and the best way to be pro-Palestine is to also be pro-Israel), I argued that the majority of both Israelis and Palestinians actually want peace but cannot believe that the other side wants it too.
It is this depressive paranoid certainty that “the other” wants to destroy us that has been a central part of what keeps Israeli and Palestinians from finding the path to their common interests, just as it is a similar paranoid and pathogenic fantasy that keeps the U.S. population willing to finance an inflated military which keeps in an ending state of hyper-alertness and makes it a ready tool for imperial ambitions of the wealthy. I also presented my psychological assessment of both sides and my view that consciousness transformation, though difficult, is both possible and absolutely necessary, both in Israel/Palestine and in the U.S.
The answer from the Jewish Right came tonight in the fourth attack on my house, this time on the first night of Chanukah (Dec. 20th). This one was relatively mild–two black-hooded men pasted signs on the outside of my house and garage saying “Palestine is an Arab fantasy.” They were taking their clue from Republican presidential candidate Newt Gingrich who has tried to out-do his Republican opponents in the primaries by, among other things, showing that he can be even more extreme on Israel than anyone else. Thus the notion that Palestine is an “invented nation.”
Chanukah was the first recorded national liberation struggle against Greek imperialism, and Christmas celebrates the birth of a hoped-for messiah to free the Jewish people from Roman imperialism.
What would a non-consumeristic Christmas look like? Here's one vision: a "Christmas Peace Tree" made from post-consumer recycled plastic installed by artists in Washington, DC, as part of Occupy DC's gathering in Freedom Plaza. Credit: Creative Commons/Elvert Barnes.
The symbolism of a homeless couple giving birth in a manger surrounded by animals because the more comfortable people have not been able to make room for them inside a roofed home is akin to the symbolism of the candles lit on Chanukah to celebrate the victory of the powerless over the powerful: both offer a powerful reminder that both Judaism born of slaves in Egypt and Christianity born of a movement of the poor and powerless were in their times the “Occupy” movement that confronted the powerful and those who served them.
All the more tragic to witness how both religions have been twisted in our own time to serve the powerful. Major forces in the Christian world have sided with the war-makers, ultra-nationalists, and the blame-poverty-on-the-poor cheerleaders for vast inequalities and protection of the rich against the needs of the rest. Jews, while retaining their commitment to domestic liberalism, have become tone-deaf to the cries of the oppressed in Palestine, to the huge inequalities of wealth in Israel, and have allowed their American institutions to be governed not by “one person, one vote” but “one dollar, one vote.”
Reb Zalman Schachter Shalomi is one of the great Jewish mystics and spiritual teachers alive in the world today. He is the founder and spiritual guide of the Jewish Renewal movement, and was my teacher for thirty years directing my study for the rabbinate, and chairing the Beyt Din (Jewish rabbinic court) that examined my learning and gave me ordination (smicha) and the title of rabbi. If you ever get a chance to hear his teachings, please do so! He has written frequently in Tikkun magazine, and I count him, along with my mentor at the Jewish Theological Seminary Abraham Joshua Heschel, one of the great inspirers of the Tikkun enterprise. Here is a mystical message about Chanukah from Rabbi Zalman Schater Shalomi: