Israel/Palestine Conflict May 2021: What Can You Do?

Biden approved a massive weapons sale to Israel – weapons that we have every reason to believe might be used to kill Palestinians. We have limited time to impact this decision. We need to get as many of our congressional allies as possible to speak out against it and to support resolutions by Senator Bernie Sanders in the Senate and Rep. Ocasio-Cortez in the House that would block this military gift to Israel. Israel already has all the military supplies it needs for any potential assault plus the Iron Dome defense system that, fortunately, has worked effectively to block Hamas rockets.

Here are action steps you can take today:

  1. Please call / email or tweet your Congressional representative and your two U.S. Senators NOW and demand they help block this sale of more military hardware to Israel. Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, along with other House members, has introduced a joint resolution of disapproval (JRD) to stop the latest $735 million weapons sale to Israel while it is relentlessly attacking Gaza. Sen. Bernie Sanders is introducing a Senate companion to this resolution. We urgently need you to call your Senators and Representatives and tell them to co-sponsor these resolutions. 
  2. Urge them to oppose any U.S. plan to sell more arms to Israel until Israel stops the destruction of Gaza and until Israel uses its own funds to repair what it has destroyed, including mosques, residents of civilians, the roads leading to hospitals, the offices of media and peace-oriented organizations, and the water, gas, and electric systems, while also making restitution to the hundreds of Gaza civilians killed and the thousands wounded while not aiding Hamas headquarters. 

If you want to support Tikkun’s efforts to promote reconciliation between Israelis and Palestinians, please donate here.

Tikkun’s motives in asking you to get involved with your time, energy, and donations to Tikkun are: 

  1. To protect Israel’s future. As Israel continues to be seen as a bully for what it is doing to the Palestinian people, not only in Gaza, but also in the West Bank and in Israel itself, more and more people around the world are expressing anger and outrage. Israel is putting itself in serious danger by acting in an immoral and oppressive way toward the Palestinian people 
  2. The New York Times today (May 20) reported that younger American Jews are experiencing a crisis as they are caught between what they were taught about Israel and what they read and see about Israel’s immoral actions. Israel is beginning to undermine its support among the coming generation of Jews. 
  3. Israel is violating the teachings of Judaism as expressed in the Torah commands to love the “other” (e.g., “When you come into you land, do not oppress the stranger/other/geyr-- remember that you were the other in the land of Egypt”). 
  4. If you really want to make a difference, our goal must be to spread a different narrative than the one that has led many Americans to give blanket support to Israel no matter how self-destructive Israeli policy has become. You need to educate yourself about all aspects of this struggle. Create study groups to read Embracing Israel/Palestine--it will be a great help in this education campaign. You can order a copy of the book here. We can send you a free copy if you agree to 2 conditions: you promise to read that book in the next six months and that you agree to pay for the postage that it will cost us to send the paperback version to you. This Tikkun book published by North Atlantic Books has been endorsed by Archbishop Desmond Tutu, Avrum Burg (former chair of the Israeli Knesset, Keith Ellison (now Attorney General of the state of Minnesota),Sami Awad (Holy Land Trust in Bethlehem),  Rabbi Aryeh Cohen (professor of Rabbinic literature at the American Jewish University), Brian McLaren (Christian Evangelical Pastor),Jessica Benjamin (psychoanalyst and author of The Bonds of Love), former U.S. President Jimmy Carter,  and Rabbi Arik Ascherman (former chair of Rabbis for Human Rights in Israel). After you read, invite other friends to an ongoing book group that you can create to read the book together and discuss it chapter by chapter. You will then have some allies to take next steps to help change the public discourse. Work with us at Tikkun for how to take the next steps.
    1. Learn about the details of how in this particular moment Netanyahu, having failed to put together a Knesset majority in the last Israeli election (even after adding to his coalition the explicit racist party inspired by the famous Rabbi Kahanah that in a more democratic moment in Israel’s development had been expelled from the Knesset) and facing a trial for misuse of public funds, moved to prevent another government from forming (which would then have allowed the trial and possible jailing of Netanyahu to continue). Though it may take 50 more years for the detailed records of the communications between Netanyahu and elements in the police and army that manage to stir up violence to be revealed, many Israelis believe that the violence inflicted on young Muslims who had gone to a location next to the gates traditionally used by them during the holy Muslim days of Ramadan and who protested the police blocking that gate touched off all the resentments felt by Palestinians, and escalated from there.
    2. Read the articles on www.Tikkun.org that give you a much more detailed and sophisticated presentation of what happened and why. Send out the articles below to everyone you know, post on your social media pages with a short summary, and send letters to the media and to elected officials, clergy, and social change groups with these same talking points. Do not join any group that is always and only critiquing Israel without also critiquing Hamas. Hamas is evil not just toward Israel but toward its own people, the two million Palestinians trapped inside of Gaza. In 2014, Hamas experienced the horrific consequences inflicted upon Gazans by Israel when Hamas sent rockets into Israel. In choosing to follow that same tactic now it is showing no care for Gazan citizens who are now suffering the 100% predictable Israeli counter attack which is causing huge pain to the Palestinians of Gaza.

Please read and send out the following articles from Tikkun’s website:

And a relevant poem for this moment from Yvette Neisser

DAYENU


Had God taken us out of Europe alive,
it would have been enough.

Had He taken us out of Europe alive
and brought us into the land of Israel,
it would have been enough.

Had we entered the land of Israel
and revived the Hebrew language,
carving its letters on ruins and gravestones,
renaming cities and villages,
it would have been enough.

Had we renamed cities and villages
while Arabic was covered in dust,
enough.

Had we built settlements
but not checkpoints

Had we claimed Jerusalem
but not evicted its residents

Had we evicted them
but not dragged them from their homes

Had we controlled the Old City
but not raided al-Aqsa

not disrupted Ramadan prayers
Iftar meals, Eid celebrations

Had we occupied Gaza
but not shut off the borders—

Had we shut off the borders
but not bombed homes—

Had we bombed homes for one day
but not for days on end—
it would have been enough.

I swear it would have been enough.

Yvette Neisser is a poet, translator, and international development professional living in Washington, DC.

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One thought on “Israel/Palestine Conflict May 2021: What Can You Do?

  1. Hi Rabbi Lerner,
    I was active with you in1970 at UW. I am an editor of Pacific Call, the newsletter of Western Washington Fellowship of Reconciliation (jmrepp@q.com) and want to use the poem Dayenu in the next edition coming out in June. Will that be OK?
    In peace, John M Repp

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