Arthur Waskow on Israel’s Multiple Denials of Human Rights

My Qualms and Self-Correction

“Tshuvah: Till by Turning, Turning, We Come Round Right”

 I have been having qualms about some aspects of what I wrote a few days ago in response to Rabbis Marc Angel’s and Uri Regev’s open letter called “Vision Statement: Israel As A Jewish Democratic State.” (See the link at the end of this message, for their text.)

I have no qualms about the basic religio-political stance I set forth, but I do have qualms about the way I said it, So I want to do some self-correction – what especially at this time of year we call “tshuvah,” turning in a more ethical direction. As I wrote, I started reading Rabbis Regev’s and Angel’s “Vision” statement with hope, based on its title. But I finished reading with deep disappointment. I share the anger and sense of betrayal that many of my colleagues feel about the Israeli government’s refusal to recognize marriages or conversion ceremonies at which we officiate, or to honor the spiritual presence of Women of the Wall.

Atzma’ut 69, Occupation 50: Does That Add Up?

FOR ISRAEL, this summer marks the 50th anniversary (June 10, 2017) of the end of the Six-Day War and the beginning of the Israeli Occupation of the Palestinian West Bank, East Jerusalem, and Gaza. And that historical marker quickly follows another one: the 69th anniversary of Israel’s statehood, commemorated by Israelis as Yom Ha’Atzma’ut (May 1 and 2). Yom Ha’Atzma’ut is usually translated as “Israeli Independence Day.” That English word means “not hanging on.” But the Hebrew would be more accurately translated as “Day for Standing on One’s Own Feet, Day of Affirming One’s Own Essence” (Etzem, the linguistic root of “atzma’ut,” means “bone, skeleton, internal essential structure.”)
From that deeper perspective, the 50th anniversary of the Occupation casts a deep pall of doubt upon the 69th birthday of the State. Has Israel really been independently “standing on its own feet” or has it for five- sevenths of its history been simultaneously standing in military boots on a subjugated people and depending (not “independing”) on the military and money support of the United States government to do so? The present Israeli government, elected just two years ago, is by far the most right- wing—politically, economically, and religiously—in Israel’s history.