by: Rabbi Dov Taylor on April 2nd, 2015 | 1 Comment »
The recent re-election of Benjamin Netanyahu as prime minister of Israel is a sad portent for Israel, for many Americans – including many American Jews – and for the Palestinians. Netanyahu didn’t hesitate to make a racist appeal to people’s fears, urging his supporters to turn out to vote because “the Arabs are voting in droves.”
“The Arabs” of whom he was speaking are citizens of Israel, exercising their democratic right to vote. To imply that citizens exercising one of the most precious rights of a democracy are somehow a threat is the worst kind of demagoguery.
by: Eduardo Galeano on April 2nd, 2015 | No Comments »
Credit: CreativeCommons / Paulo Brandao.
The following passages are excerpted from Eduardo Galeano’s book Children of the Days: A Calendar of Human History, just out in paperback (Nation Books) as crossposted from TomDispatch.com.
In 1919 Rosa Luxemburg, the revolutionary, was murdered in Berlin.
Her killers bludgeoned her with rifle blows and tossed her into the waters of a canal.
Along the way, she lost a shoe.
Some hand picked it up, that shoe dropped in the mud.
Rosa longed for a world where justice would not be sacrificed in the name of freedom, nor freedom sacrificed in the name of justice.
Every day, some hand picks up that banner.
Dropped in the mud, like the shoe.
This is meant as a supplement to the traditional Haggadah. You can use it in addition to a traditional Haggadah, introducing whichever parts you like to your Seder to provoke a lively discussion, or you can use this as the basis for an alternative Haggadah, which can then be supplemented by the traditional Haggadah.
"Passover" by Lynne Feldman (lynnefeldman.com).
A Note to Non-Jews: You are very welcome at our Seder! Jesus was a Jew, and the Last Supper was a Seder. Our supplement affirms the liberatory message that is part of Judaism, Christianity, and Islam, and is found in many other religious and spiritual traditions as well. You may find some of this ritual helpful if you create your own rite to celebrate the key insight of Easter or of any of the spring holidays of the world: that rebirth, renewal, and transformation are possible, and that we are not stuck in the dark, cold, and deadly energies of winter. Judaism builds on that universal experience of nature and adds another dimension: it suggests that the class structure (slavery, feudalism, capitalism, or neoliberal imperialism) can be overcome, and that we human beings, created in the image of the Transformative Power of the Universe (God), can create a world based on love, generosity, justice, and peace.
We understand God in part as the Transformative Power of the Universe – the force that makes possible the transformation from that which is to that which ought to be, the force that makes it possible to transcend the tendency of human beings to pass on to others the hurt and pain that has been done to us, the force that permeates every ounce of Being and unites all in one transcendent and imminent reality. In short, we understand God in part as the ultimate Unity of All with All, of whom we are always a part, even if we are not always conscious of the part of God we are, or the part of God that everyone and everything is. And you are welcome at our Seder even if you think all of this makes no sense and there is no God.
by: John Viscount on March 30th, 2015 | 7 Comments »
After the devastating events of 9/11, it became tragically clear that war was once again on the horizon. As a personal response, I wrote the script for Admissions, a film about the Israeli-Palestinian crisis. My intention was to put forth a more forgiving interpretation of life’s events so people could find a pathway to peace no matter how crazy things got.
In 2011, the script was given to Academy Award nominee and peace activist, James Cromwell, and he graciously agreed to play the lead role. When the film was finished, Admissions began its festival run where it has won 26 international awards, been translated into Hebrew, Arabic, Farsi, and Spanish, and broadcast to 80 million people worldwide.
As a result of the positive response to Admissions, a number of peace organizations coalesced around the film’s message and several efforts were synergized. The result was a new mission to create Ministries and Departments of Peace in governments worldwide.
What makes this year’s Passover Seders unlike any others is that a majority of American Jews have been forced to face the fact that Palestinians today are asking Jews what Moses asked Pharaoh: “Let my people go.” The Israeli elections, and subsequent support for Prime Minister Netanyahu’s open racism and obstinate refusal to help create a Palestinian state, is not playing well with many younger Jews, and they will be challenging their elders to rethink their blind support for Israeli policies.
Increasingly, young Jews are on the Moses side, and see Netanyahu as the contemporary Pharaoh. So at the Seder more and more Jews will be asking Israel to “let the Palestinian people go.”
The easiest way for Israel to allow Palestinians their freedomis to create a politically and economically viable Palestinian state living in peace with Israel and based on the 1967 borders of Israel with slight border changes to allow Israel to incorporate the settlements in Gush Etzion and Jewish parts of Jerusalem that were built on conquered Arab land in 1967. The terms for that agreement were well worked out by “The Geneva Accord” developed by former Yitzhak Rabin aide (and Ehud Barak’s Minister of Justice) Yossi Beilin, and would include Jerusalem serving as the capital of both states, massive reparations to the Palestinian people to help fund such a state (paid in part by the international community), and joint police and military cooperation, supplemented by international help, to deal with the inevitable acts of terror from both Israeli and Palestinian terrorists who would want to block any such agreement.
Though Prime Minister Netanyahu has now sought to back away from his unequivocal election commitment in mid-March that he would never allow Palestinians to have a separate state, it is clear to most American Jews that he was telling the truth to his own community when he made that commitment. Only a fully unambiguous embrace of a detailed plan for ending the Occupation of the West Bank and the blockade of Gaza, and major unilateral acts on Israel’s part to begin to implement the creation of a Palestinian state, would be believed by any Palestinians at this point. And who can blame them?
by: David Glick on March 27th, 2015 | 5 Comments »
Israel is the home of Jewish and non-Jewish followers of three great religions. Liberal Zionism is nothing but a fiction. Above, activists from the Palestine Solidarity Campaign march in London. Credit: CreativeCommons / James_London
Prime Minister Netanyahu has finally removed the mask. “If I am elected there will be no Palestinian state,” he said in the clearest possible terms. Netanyahu, of course, was merely publicly aligning his words with what have long been his actions. Throughout his entire political career he has done everything possible to thwart the emergence of a viable and sovereign Palestinian state. Furthermore, Netanyahu’s barely coded racist remarks about Palestinians “coming out in droves to the polls” demonstrates there is no place for Palestinians in the Israeli Zionist polity.
The two state solution is officially dead and it is time to give it its proper burial. The truth is that under both Likud and Labor governments, negotiations with the Palestinians have long been nothing but a theatrical production as Israel continued to seize more Palestinian land and build more settlements even as it proceeded with the negotiations. Netanyahu is simply acknowledging what has been true of all of Israel’s leaders, whether of the right, left, or center. For the past 22 years all have been misleading the world, pretending to seek peace with the Palestinians while pursuing policies to ensure there will never be peace and never be a Palestinian state. Had the Zionist Union prevailed, it would have simply tried to restart the same moribund negotiations that have served as a cover for Israel to talk peace while destroying its prospects by building more colonies.
It is time for American Jews to face the fact that liberal Zionism is nothing but a fiction. It is time to sit shiva to mourn its passing. It is time to confront the fact that a Jewish state that maintains a brutal and illegal 48 year occupation over millions of Palestinians and privileges the rights of its own Jewish citizens above those of its Palestinian citizens is incompatible with any reasonable understanding of liberalism. This latest election was essentially a referendum on the peace process and the two state solution and the outcome was clear. Israelis have rejected both. For American Jews the choice is clear: Israel can either continue to embrace its Zionist underpinning in which case it will remain a Jewish state but not democratic state or it can abandon its Zionist underpinning and become a democratic state but no longer a Jewish state.
Only hours after the results revealing the Likud Party’s lead in obtaining the most seats – 30 to its closest competitors’ 24 of the Zionist Union (formerly the Labor Party) — in the next Israeli Knesset (Parliament), the National Republican Senatorial Committee in the U.S. sent an email message to millions of U.S. residents congratulating Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu for what most likely will result in his re-election for a fourth term. The announcement includes a congratulatory petition for people to sign, and states in part:
“The people of Israel have spoken: Prime Minister Benjamin (Bibi) Netanyahu was just reelected to office, in a sweeping victory for those who value freedom and democracy around the world.”
Yes, this election is a “sweeping victory,” but not for those of us “who value freedom and democracy around the world.” Right-wing politicians who run and rule by fear and division stand as the only winners in this travesty: those hardliners who promote intolerance, hatred, xenophobia, and racism.
by: Rev. Rodney M. Hunter on March 16th, 2015 | No Comments »
Predatory lending is especially insidious in low-income neighborhoods. Wesley Memorial United Methodist Church in Virginia has built a unique microloan program to counter these lenders, based on Jubilee principles. Credit: CreativeCommons / David Goehring.
I have served as pastor of Wesley Memorial United Methodist Church, Richmond, Virginia, since 1986. Wesley is a predominately Black middle-class church (approximately 130 active members) where the majority of the members commute from surrounding suburbs for worship. Our church is surrounded by private homes and three low-income public housing developments. Being centrally located in a low-income area means that we are constantly bombarded with community residents seeking rental and utility assistance, food, clothing, school supplies and medical needs, children’s needs, and support for families with a parent incarcerated. Over the years of my ministry, we have been the financial resource to aid mostly single-parent households with weekly and monthly living expenses.
To address these needs, I started a mission’s fund through the church. The mission’s fund worked well for persons who needed a small sum to get them through the week or month until the next pay check came; but, it was insufficient for persons who needed larger amounts, such as car repairs or medical emergencies. The need for more income is today’s financial crisis which is the result of a structural systematic problem created by greed, corporate power, and “the government for the wealthy,” not “the government of the people, by the people, for the people.” This system of financial injustice has diminished the resources of the middle class and put more persons in the ranks of poverty.
by: Harvey Chisick on March 13th, 2015 | 1 Comment »
1. Pension funds used to be limited to a 0.4% annual service charge. Under Netanyahu that figure was changed to 1.8%.
2. Water corporations. Water bills used to be collected by the Israel water company or by municipalities. Netanyahu established water corporations whose only function is to collect bills for water. The legislation was written so that the corporations could cut off water for non-payment of bills. The old legislation did not allow cutting off water to families in poverty. Currently some 10,000 families a month get their water cut off.
3. Privatizations. Netanyahu is a big believer in deregulation and privatization. State-run homes for the aged have been privatized, and TV reports have shown how the will to increase profits debases service and the people who need them. Places that, for example, force geriatric patients to shower at 4 or 5 a.m. Similar deterioration can be found in institutions for kids with special needs.
by: Frida Berrigan on March 11th, 2015 | No Comments »
Growing up as the daughter of two prominent activists, Friday Berrigan spent much of her childhood at the Pentagon. Above, the author (at about two) and Rosemary Maguire at the River Entrance to the Pentagon in 1976. Credit: Frida Berrigan.
The Pentagon loomed so large in my childhood that it could have been another member of my family. Maybe a menacing uncle who doled out put-downs and whacks to teach us lessons or a rich, dismissive great-aunt intent on propriety and good manners.
Whatever the case, our holidays were built around visits to the Pentagon’s massive grounds. That’s where we went for Easter, Christmas, even summer vacation (to commemorate the anniversaries of the atomic bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki). When we were little, my brother and sister and I would cry with terror and dread as we first glimpsed the building from the bridge across the Potomac River. To us, it pulsated with malice as if it came with an ominous, beat-driven soundtrack out of Star Wars.
I grew up in Baltimore at Jonah House, a radical Christian community of people committed to nonviolent resistance to war and nuclear culture. It was founded by my parents, Phil Berrigan and Liz McAlister. They gained international renown as pacifist peace activists not afraid to damage property or face long prison terms. The Baltimore Four, the Catonsville Nine, the Plowshares Eight, the Griffiss Seven: these were anti-Vietnam War or antinuclear actions they helped plan, took part in, and often enough went to jail for. These were also creative conspiracies meant to raise large questions about our personal responsibility for, and the role of conscience in, our world. In addition, they were explorations of how to be effective and nonviolent in opposition to the war state. These actions drew plenty of media attention and crowds of supporters, but in between we always went back to the Pentagon.