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Archive for the ‘Healing Israel/Palestine’ Category



Forty Holocaust Survivors Condemn Gaza Assault and Call for Boycott of Israel in NYT Letter

Aug23

by: on August 23rd, 2014 | 23 Comments »

letter In a letter published today in The New York Times as an advertisement, 40 survivors of Nazi genocide and hundreds of their children are publicly deploring “the massacre of Palestinians in Gaza,” Israel’s ongoing occupation, and the troubling rise of systemic racism.

The letter, a response to an advertisement posted recently by Eli Wiesel, in which Palestinians were portrayed as championing “child sacrifice,” is the first of its kind to be signed by so many Holocaust survivors, who are making waves by calling for a full boycott of Israel – roundly viewed as anathema by Jewish institutions in both the United States and Europe. Below is the full text of their letter:

As Jewish survivors and descendants of survivors and victims of the Nazi genocide we unequivocally condemn the massacre of Palestinians in Gaza and the ongoing occupation and colonization of historic Palestine. We further condemn the United States for providing Israel with the funding to carry out the attack, and Western states more generally for using their diplomatic muscle to protect Israel from condemnation. Genocide begins with the silence of the world.

We are alarmed by the extreme, racist dehumanization of Palestinians in Israeli society, which has reached a fever-pitch. In Israel, politicians and pundits in The Times of Israel and The Jerusalem Post have called openly for genocide of Palestinians and right-wing Israelis are adopting Neo-Nazi insignia.


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Israelis Living in America Who Oppose Gaza Violence Ask U.S. Jews to Reconsider ‘Pro-Israel’

Aug21

by: on August 21st, 2014 | 6 Comments »

A group of Israelis currently living in the United States, who oppose Israel’s military operations in Gaza and the blockade of Gaza, have recently formed a group called Israelis For a Sustainable Future. This group, with 128 members and growing daily, has written a searing letter to the American Jewish community.

The letter implores Jews in America to reexamine their uncritical support for Israel’s actions and to speak out against the occupation those actions serve. In short, it asks the Jewish community to step away from a binary, zero-sum perspective doing so much damage to both Israelis and Palestinians. At one point, they write, “We are reaching out to you because we want to re-examine what it means to be pro-Israel or pro-Palestine. We argue that these terms might be one and the same.”

Beautiful and honest, the letter in its entirety appears below.

An open letter to American Jews

We are a group of Israelis currently living in the US. We are reaching out to you because we oppose the actions of the Israeli government in operation “Protective Edge.”

This does not mean we don’t recognize the threat presented by Hamas to the Israeli people. We oppose firing of weapons into civilian population and the sacrifice of civilians by the regimes of both Hamas and the Israeli government. Calling to stop the bombing of Gaza does not mean we don’t realize the impossible conditions imposed on the residents of southern Israel. Nor does it mean we don’t demand security for them. But we also recognize that their plight is consistently ignored by the Israeli government until it becomes convenient for exploitation. We have seen three major military operations in less than six years. They repeat themselves because they don’t work. Yes, Hamas reserves are temporary depleted and the group is temporarily hindered. But this is not a moral price worth paying. Even if it were, killing thousands of civilians and displacing of hundreds of thousands doesn’t weaken Hamas in the long run. This bloodshed only feeds the one resource it can’t go without: hate. Only meaningful peace talks and an end to the ongoing occupation in the West Bank and in Gaza (a blockade is still occupation) will prevent both the next round of rockets into Israel and the next round of indiscriminate killings in Gaza.

We are reaching out to you because we want to re-examine what it means to be pro-Israel or pro-Palestine. We argue that these terms might be one and the same. We believe that supporting equal rights for both peoples is the only way to build a better Israel and a better Palestine and we want the American Jewish community to stand behind that message.


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Border Lessons: Jewish Resources for Resisting Nationalism

Aug18

by: Mandy Cohen on August 18th, 2014 | 1 Comment »

Last month I was in Warsaw. I was on my way home to LA after two weeks traveling with a group of university students through places that Yiddish-speaking Jews once called Lita, Lithuania. Jews from this area are called Litvaks, Lithuanians, they have distinctive dialects of Yiddish, and a reputation as intellectuals, given that Lita was the home of the greatest yeshivas, houses of study, in Jewish Europe.

Today, cities and towns that once belonged to the same Russian province are now separated not only by national borders, but by the border of the EU, which feels like it has re-concentrated all of the displaced energy of the open borders within the Schengen zone. All of the stress of border crossing that has disappeared between, say, Poland and Germany, feels manifested on Poland’s eastern border with Belarus. In order to travel through the places that were part of the largest state in Europe in the sixteenth century, the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth, we now travel between Belarus, Poland and Lithuania, moving between time zones, currencies, alphabets, languages, and the legacy of the Soviet Union and her satellite states.

Helix project

Exploring creativity in the places where writers and artists lived for centuries. Credit: Yiddishkayt

I am an instructor in The Helix Project, a program that offers students – Jewish and non-Jewish – an opportunity to learn about the rich intricacies, complexities, and variety of Jewish life in Europe in its 1000 year history, focusing on Yiddish culture, literature and daily life in the great blossoming of that culture beginning towards the end of the nineteenth century.

Necessarily we confront the Holocaust, as we face the reality of towns that were once 60-90 percent Jewish and are now 90-100 percent Polish, or Lithuanian, or Belarusian. But we try to contextualize the Holocaust by giving equal attention to the long history preceding it and the history that continues to be written.


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10,000 in Tel Aviv Protest Israel’s Occupation of Palestinians and Gaza War

Aug16

by: on August 16th, 2014 | 4 Comments »

In the largest protest of its kind in years, 10,000-15,000 Israelis gathered in Tel Aviv to call for a just peace with Palestinians and to protest Israel’s occupation and Gaza military operations.

The gathering is particularly significant given that, in previous anti-war rallies since the beginning of hostilities in Gaza, right-wing nationalists have attacked and sometimes beaten progressive protesters, leaving anti-war activists in Israel feeling increasingly threatened.

Tonight’s rally, sponsored by a number of left-wing groups in Israel, including the political party Meretz, overwhelmed those extremists who showed up with the volume of participants.

image
Thousands of anti-war activists gather in Rabin Square in Tel Aviv.

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A Letter to Jon Voight about Gaza and the History of the Israeli-Palestinian Conflict

Aug15

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.

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“But Hamas…”

Aug14

by: Donna Nevel on August 14th, 2014 | 77 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.

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Tisha b’Av: This Year We Mourned the Calamity We Have Created

Aug13

by: Max Cohen on August 13th, 2014 | 2 Comments »

Tisha b'Av New York IfNotNow

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.


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A Response to Seth Mandel’s Critique of the Parallel States Solution

Aug13

by: Mark LeVine and Mathias Mossberg on August 13th, 2014 | Comments Off

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.”


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Escaping the Thunderclaps of War in a Breathing River

Aug9

by: on August 9th, 2014 | 1 Comment »

image 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.


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Reflections on the War in Gaza

Aug7

by: Shmuel Chesed on August 7th, 2014 | 3 Comments »

A Gaza family stands in wreckage.

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.


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