by: Mark LeVine and Gil Hochberg on August 15th, 2014 | 5 Comments »
Editor’s Note: While there are elements of the argument presented below that differ from that presented in Embracing Israel/Palestine which you can order from www.tikkun.org/eip(e.g. my claim that it was illegitimate for Palestinians to resist immigration of Jews to Palestine, consistent with my view that no group should be excluded from being allowed to come to any country while other groups are being allowed to come — except on the basis of demonstrable lack of land or economic impossibility of that country absorbing the potential immigrants — and my claim that the Palestinians’ refusal to allow Jews living in displaced persons’ camps after the Holocaust generated fury at Palestinians that was not there among the Jewish yishuv/settlement in the years 1945-48 and led to some horrendous treatment of Palestinians thereafter), there is much that is important to absorb in the account presented by Tikkun Contributing editor Mark Levine and his colleague Gil Hochberg which, if really understood by Americans, Israelis, and Jews around the world, could open their hearts to a more generous and compassionate approach to the fate of the Palestinian people today, a compassion which needs to be accompanied by a great deal of compassion for the Jewish people and the traumas that we too carry in our unconscious and shapes how we understand the present realities in ways that keep us from being able to fully understand what needs to be done to make a lasting peace that would work for both sides of this struggle. So please read this note to Jon Voight.
–Rabbi Michael Lerner
Dear Jon Voight,
We write to you as admirers of your work for many years. We are also professors of modern Middle Eastern studies, specializing in the history and contemporary realities of Israel, Zionism and Palestine, and between the two of us have written and edited over half a dozen books on the country and the two peoples who are destined — or doomed, depending on your point of view — to share it.
by: Donna Nevel on August 14th, 2014 | 76 Comments »
A Palestinian man sits on the edge of a refugee camp following the Nakba in 1948. Credit: Creative Commons/palestineremembered.com.
In conversations about Gaza, I have heard many thoughtful people in the Jewish community lament the loss of Palestinian lives in Gaza but then say, “But Hamas…,” as if that were the heart of the problem. I’d like to suggest that, when we have these conversations about Hamas and Israel’s current bombing campaign, we begin with the necessary context and historical perspective.
Re: The Nakba
1. To create the Jewish state, the Zionist movement destroyed more than 400 Palestinians villages and expelled 700,000 Palestinians from their homes and land. Palestinians who remained in what became Israel were relegated to second-class citizenship, had much of their property confiscated, and, to this day, have fewer rights than Jewish Israeli citizens.
Re: The 1967 Occupation
2. In 1967, Israel occupied the West Bank, Gaza, and East Jerusalem and still occupies them until this day.
by: Max Cohen on August 13th, 2014 | 2 Comments »
If Not Now, When? Tisha b'Av evening service in New York City last week Credit: Gili Getz
Tisha b’Av is a cursed day. It was on the ninth day of the Jewish month of Av that the Babylonians destroyed the First Temple in Jerusalem and exiled the Jewish People from the Land of Israel. Megillat Eicha, the Book of Lamentations, describes with the utmost poetic sorrow the destruction that occurred on that fateful Ninth of Av two and a half millennia ago. And so it is that every year on Tisha b’Av we read in Eicha of the destruction, remember it, and mourn it.
But there’s one catch that makes Tisha b’Av not a bad dream, but a recurring nightmare: we kept on experiencing total calamity on that exact date for thousands of years afterwards. On that date in history, the 9th of the Jewish month of Av: the Romans destroyed the Second Temple in Jerusalem and exiled us from Israel for a second time; the Jewish people were exiled from England, France, and Germany, all in separate years; the Spanish Inquisition began; the Final Solution was formally approved by the Nazi Party; the Warsaw Ghetto began to be liquidated; and too many other eerily timed tragedies to count…
So Tisha b’Av is a holiday about adding to the heap whatever calamity Jews have most recently experienced. The profound insight of Eicha, Lamentations, and the rabbis of the Talmud, is to understand our calamities by focusing not our attackers or their moral status, but on our own moral failures.
by: Mark LeVine and Mathias Mossberg on August 13th, 2014 | No Comments »
Last month the University of California Press published a new volume I co-edited with Ambassador Mathias Mossberg, One Land, Two States: Israel and Palestine as Parallel States. The book, which is the product of a six year research project and features contributors from leading Israeli, Palestinian, and internationals scholars, explores new definitions of sovereignty that would enable Israelis and Palestinians to establish overlapping or parallel state structures over the entirety of Israel/Palestine. We believe this idea to constitute perhaps the only two state solution left, in the context of the clear impossibility of dividing the West Bank and dismantling Israel’s matrix of control over the territory, and the need to address the issue of settlements, Jerusalem, and refugees in any viable peace agreement.
A brief summary of our main ideas was published by the Huffington Post. A more detailed analysis will appear in Tikkun in the near future. As part of the dissemination of the ideas, we published an excerpt of the introduction, by Mathias Mossberg at Tablet, as well as the conclusion, by famed Israeli writer Eyal Meged. A staff blogger/writer at Commentary, Seth Mandel, read the excerpt from Tablet and decided to write a critique of the entire idea of parallel states based on the excerpt from Ambassador Mossberg’s introduction. He titled it “‘Parallel States’ Plan for Israeli-Palestinian Peace Is a Recipe for Disaster”. As might be expected, being that this is Commentary, and Mandel didn’t bother to read the book before making broad generalizations about the ideas and arguments, his arguments don’t stand up to scrutiny. We took the time to write a response, assuming that in the spirit of informed debate, the editors would allow us to publish a rebuttal, but when I sent it to the magazine I received an immediate reply from editor John Podhoretz stating that they don’t publish responses to blog posts and that if I wanted to respond, I could either put it in my own blog (I don’t blog) or subscribe to Commentary and then put it as a comment. When I responded saying that asking the author of a book that is being attacked to pay to subscribe to the magazine before he can even reply seemed a bit uncollegial, to say the least, he replied that I could “take [my] whining somewhere else.”
Well, there’s nowhere else I could imagine doing so than Tikkun, which after all, is pretty much the first and still most important intellectual space where serious discussion of Israel/Palestine can occur. “All the rest,” its masthead has always said, “is commentary.”
I’m sitting beside a breathing river, listening to my children conjure rapids with their feet, imitating those forming downstream. A waterfall behind us is telling secrets. The sky is reflective, a deep azure telling the world it wants to hold nothing. At least, not today. I nod my head in agreement. Neither do I, I think. That’s why I’m here.
I’ve come to these familiar mountains in Western Pennsylvania for a brief escape from the thunderclaps of war reverberating from Israel and Gaza, and from the tension I feel for speaking out, for critiquing that war. I’m lucky in that I can remove myself from the computer’s glare, the cell phone constantly ringing, and my urban neighborhood. But I also realize this: there’s no real escape. Not for me, anyway.
A blue heron flaps overhead, and I recognize loneliness settling in, the type of existential loneliness about which Louis C.K. loves to joke. Because the only way to survive is to laugh about it.
Or to ignore it.
by: Shmuel Chesed on August 7th, 2014 | 3 Comments »
Images like this have sometimes made the author think, "You are complicit in the death of the innocent!
“You are complicit in the death of the innocent!”
The images call out to me in a personal way. The image of a young dead child being carried by a man near destroyed buildings. Demonstrators in Spain hold up the palms of their hands that they painted red. The images are directed against the silent – against me – screaming that “the blood of innocent is on your hands!”
But, but, but… I can neither dismiss nor accept, with confidence or certainty, the arguments and justifications of Israel’s killing or fighting and the way it is done. A little voice in my head is asking whether these justifications are in fact valid… In fact when I think of most of my Jewish friends or the people I see at shul, I would be reluctant to voice my deep reservations about the justifications. On the other hand, I feel guilty even repeating them privately to myself. It feels like an act of treachery against my Arab friends. “You are defending the indefensible,” one of them said to me some years ago when I publicly repeated some of those arguments at a session with university students.
I am hurting. I feel depressed and heavy. I feel tired and unmotivated.
Accusation. Justification. Refutation. Accusation. Justification. Refutation. Counter-argument. An exhausting dance inside my head.
by: Tikkun Magazine on August 7th, 2014 | 3 Comments »
Rabbi Michael Lerner appeared on CNN this morning (Thursday, August 7) for a short interview. To hear his insights on the recent Israel/Gaza war, watch the full interview below:
Afterwards, Lerner bemoaned the shortness of the interview, which didn’t give him time to dispute the lies and distortions of Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu or to critique the ethical obliviousness of Hamas.
Credit: Creative Commons
The last item Congress voted on before going on vacation for five weeks was a $225 million appropriation to “replenish” Israel’s Iron Dome system.
That makes sense. The system is protecting Israelis from rocket assault, Of course we want to replenish Israel’s arsenal?
The answer is simple. No replenishment was necessary now. Nor will the vote speed up the resupply which was in the pipeline anyway.
by: Tikkun on August 5th, 2014 | 2 Comments »
Credit: Creative Commons
On August 4th, we held a conference call for NSP members and Tikkun subscribers with Sami Awad, a Palestinian nonviolent peace activist in Bethlehem, Palestine. Mr. Awad has been working to counter Hamas’s hate talk among his fellow Palestinians. Sami Awad talked about the importance of being visionary – putting forth a vision of the world you want and not something more “realistic.”
He talked about the importance of having prophetic voices in each of the different communities – Jewish, Muslim, Christian-to counter the impression that each community has that there are very few people in the other communities that care about a solution to the Israel/Palestine struggle based on justice, security, and peace.
According to Sami Awad, the assault on Gazans in the past month has caused many people in both Israel and Palestine to doubt the efficacy of many of their own efforts to build local face-to-face peace making between Israelis and Palestinians. Awad thinks one reason for this heightened despair by people who have spent months or even years in building dialogue and trained people in peace-making is that the efforts were grounded in the wrong motives, often out of fear of the other (unless we can tame them, they will hurt us) rather than a genuine deep commitment and care to the well-being of all.
Rabbi Michael Lerner’s article in Salon.com this Monday is being featured on Salon’s home page right now. Below is a fuller and updated version (the Salon article was written on Friday).
Israeli behavior toward Palestinians is destroying Judaism and creating a new kind of hatred of Jews by people who never before had any issue with Jews. Credit: Creative Commons/Jordi Bernabeu Farrús
My heart is broken as I witness the suffering of the Palestinian people and the seeming indifference of Israelis. Tonight (August 4) and tomorrow (August 5), which mark Tisha B’av,the Jewish commemoration of disasters that happened to us through Jewish history, I’m going to be fasting and mourning also for a Judaism being murdered by Israel. No matter who gets blamed for the breakdowns in the cease-fire or for “starting” this latest iteration of a struggle that is at least 140 years old, one of the primary victims of the war between Israel and Hamas is the compassionate and love-oriented Judaism that has held together for several thousand years. Even as Israel withdraws its troops from Gaza, leaving behind immense devastation, over 1,800 dead Gazans, and over four thousand wounded, without adequate medical supplies because of Israel’s continuing blockade, Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu refuses to negotiate a cease-fire. He is fearful that he would be seen as “weak” if Israel gave way to Gazans’ demand for an end to the blockade and the freedom of thousands of Palestinian prisoners kidnapped and held in Israeli jails in violation of their human rights.
Let me explain why Israeli behavior toward Palestinians – not just during this latest assault but also throughout the past decades during which Israel militarily enforced its Occupation of the West Bank and the blockade of food and building materials to Gaza – and the cheerleading for such behavior by Jews around the world is destroying Judaism and creating a new kind of hatred of Jews by people who never before had any issue with Jews (not to mention strengthening the hands of the already existing anti-Semites whose hatred of Jews would continue no matter what Israel or Jews do or do not do).