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.”
by: Anouar Majid on August 11th, 2014 | 8 Comments »
Editor’s Note: Anouar Majid’s critique of ISIS is also a critique of many in the Islamic world who are too quiet about the crimes being done in the name of Islam. For that reason, we at Tikkun have to consider his views, just as we ask the Jewish world to consider our views about many in the Jewish world who are too quiet about the Israeli use of violence in Gaza. What worries us is the degree to which Majid may be willing to abandon Islam entirely, something we are not willing to do in regard to Judaism.
When the world awoke to the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001, some wondered why no one had taken the previous destruction of the 6th-century Buddha statutes in Bamiyan, Afghanistan seriously. Those attacks should have warranted a massive airstrike on the Taliban government and its supporters. Blowing up a part of our history in such a cavalier fashion amounted to a crime against humanity, but enlightened people shrugged their shoulders, chalked up such behavior to backward Muslim extremists and moved on. They should have known better. Who knows? Immediate military intervention could have spared us many years of strife and sorrow.
The Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS), now known only as the Islamic State, did the same a couple of weeks ago when they detonated the tomb of the biblical and Qur’anic prophet Jonah in Mosul. It was one of their many attacks of pre- or non-Islamic monuments and even people. For the caliphate-crazed Wahhabi-inspired fanatics who trampled on the heritage of a city that was more than 6,000 years old when Islam was born, such monuments, as well as Christians or any group of people who are not like them, are desecrations that that have to be violently uprooted. It should, therefore, come as no surprise at all that ISIS is now waging a genocidal war against the Yazidis, a people whose religion has remained an enigma for centuries. Like many Muslims, ISIS considers the Yazidis as ungodly and must, therefore, be eliminated.
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.
Israel Defense Forces near the Gaza Border in July Credit: Creative Commons-Flickr Israel Defense Forces
Much has been written about the silencing of anti-war dissent in Israel by a populace almost universally supportive of military action in Gaza. Such support – inspired by feelings of vulnerability amidst rocket fire and informed by the country’s rightward shift – has made speaking out against the violence not just uncomfortable, but dangerous. Not a single anti-war demonstration in the past month has concluded without participants being attacked and beaten by nationalistic counter-protesters.
And yet, while the silencing of anti-war dissent has been a troubling manifestation of Israelis’ support for war, even more troubling has been the societal numbness; the societal disregard for Palestinian suffering which has been manifested in unsettling, and sometimes shocking, ways.
It’s not bombastic to say that empathy is dead in Israel right now from a societal standpoint, a metaphorical casualty of the current violence. Evidence of this isn’t just being seen in statistical polls, but in a seemingly endless stream of incidents. Consider the following three, representative of a real phenomenon few in Israel deny:
- Israeli soldiers prank called a Gaza hotel, joking about it being bombed.
- A moment of silence in Jerusalem’s artsy theater for those killed in Gaza is met with shouts of “Shame!” and “You’re raping the audience!“
These scenes are just three representing countless such episodes happening online and in everyday life. Of course, they’re not scenes taking place within a vacuum. A conflict is ongoing. Israelis have had to run to bomb shelters with each rocket attack. People are being traumatized by the constant threat of war.
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.
by: Kirk Schneider on August 6th, 2014 | 5 Comments »
(Cross-posted from Alternet by Kirk Schneider)
From the crises in the Middle East to mass shootings in U.S. schools to the reckless striving for wealth and world domination, there is one overarching theme that almost never gets media coverage—the sense of insignificance that drives destructive acts. As a depth psychologist with many years of experience, I can say emphatically that the sense of being crushed, humiliated and existentially unimportant are the main factors behind so much that we call psychopathology.
Why would it not follow that the same factors are at play in social and cultural upheavals? The emerging science of “terror management theory” shows convincingly that when people feel unimportant they equate those feelings with dying—and they will do everything they can, including becoming extreme and destructive themselves to avoid that feeling.
The sense of insignificance and death anxiety have been shown to play a key role in everything from terrorism to mass shootings to extremist religious and political ideologies to obsessions with materialism and wealth. Just about all that is violent and corrupt in our world seems connected to it.