Media Alert: Jews Congratulate Pope Francis


Jewish liberals and progressives reacted with enthusiasm to the announcement today that the Vatican will recognize the Palestinian State.

Rabbi Michael Lerner, editor of Tikkun Magazine: a Quarterly Jewish and Interfaith Critique of Politics, Culture and Society, the most prominent voice of liberal and progressive Jews and our non-Jewish spiritual progressive allies, released the following statement on May 13:
“Many liberal and progressive Jews congratulate the Vatican on the important step toward peace it took yesterday in announcing that it will recognize the State of Palestine.
“We have rejoiced in the many steps that Pope Francis has taken to take seriously the biblical injunction to pursue justice and to protect our global environment. Now he has entered a highly contested arena with the courage he has shown on other issues.
“At a time when Israel has formed its most reactionary government ever, based on an electoral victory won by Prime Minister Netanyahu after he promised the electorate that there would be no Palestinian state as long as he is in office (his term could last for five years before another election is required), it has become clear to much of the world and to many Jews that the “two state solution” is in danger of becoming little more than a fantasy. The Pope’s action shows a path to non-violently resuscitate the possibility of a Palestinian state.
“We at Tikkun want Israel to be strong and secure, and know that the best way to provide for Israel’s security is to achieve a lasting peace with Palestinians based on the creation of a politically and economically viable Palestinian state. We hope that the Vatican’s action will spur countries around the world to take similar actions to recognize the Palestinian state and provide it with the financial resources it needs to build its internal society.
“We recognize, however, that it will only be through external pressure that Israelis will be able to move their right-wing government to consider seriously the steps they would need to take to reverse their current direction and provide Palestinians with the rights that we Jews correctly struggled to achieve for ourselves in creating the State of Israel. The chances of that pressure emerging are increased now that the Pope has taken the moral leadership to recognize Palestine. Mazel tov–congratulations–to this inspired Pope as he continues his blessed work! President Obama could finally earn his Nobel Peace Prize were he to follow the Pope’s leadership on this issue. We understand that President Obama is unlikely to take any steps at this moment that might make more likely attempts by Congress to undermine his path to achieving an agreement by Iran to not develop nuclear weapon. We urge our President to use the occasion of the visit of the Pope to the U.S. in the Fall of 2015 to announce that he will follow the path of the Vatican, recognize Palestine, and pledge to support efforts in the UN Security Council to grant Palestine full membership in the United Nations with all the rights pertaining to a sovereign state.”

Rabbi Michael Lerner is editor of Tikkun Magazine: a Quarterly Jewish and Interfaith Critique of Politics, Culture and Society, rabbi of Beyt Tikkun Synagogue in Berkeley, and author of 11 books including 2 national best-sellers (Jewish Renewal: A path to Healing and Transformation and The Left Hand of God: Taking Back our Country from the Religious Right) and also a book with Cornel West called Jews and Blacks: Let the Healing Begin.
To speak to Rabbi Michael Lerner, either call 510-644-1200 and talk to Leila or email him directly at

7 thoughts on “Media Alert: Jews Congratulate Pope Francis

    • Gaza and it’s indiscriminate killings, new government leaders with views about “Genocide”… I ask your are we Jews? This thinking is not new Myer Khani lives again… Revolting!

  1. Thank you and I am hoping and praying for a more nonviolent, loving manifestation of people of God toward each other,”love your neighbor as yourself would be a good vision, going into love your enemies, which is difficult because there are so many hurts and past tragedies that need reconciliation. Reconciliation councils where enemies begin to talk to each other and let go of the hatred must begin. I visited Israel in 1981 and know some of the history, post traumatic stress disorders that come from a tortuous past for both Jews and Palestinians with the great catastrophe for them losing their homes and lands in 1948. I hope that those Palestinians in Gaza and West Bank, Bethlehem, Jerusalem, especially Palestinian Christians, but all Palestinians to be treated with respect, dignity, and fairness. Israel has tremendous power and backing from USA that could be used in life giving ways. The story for Palestinians and USA support sadly is a mixed bag. I am so pleased with Pope Francis and Jewish Voice for Peace, and for the elders like former President Jimmy Carter and another elder who tried recently to get into Gaza, but were banned (not pleased with ban, but with hope of doing something life giving by elders such at Carter is hopeful). There needs to be action for peaceful resolutions by those with wisdom, including Palestinians in the process, who too often have been left out of the plans and manipulated by those who thought they knew best, even by their so called leaders. Gaza right now is suffering in tragic ways, homelessness, refugee type horrors, people dying of lack of health care, basic human needs of shelter, food, water, work are being denied. I pray, hope for relief for Gaza. It is eight months later and I read that not one building has been rebuilt in Gaza. Where is the outrage for such treatment of a group of people? It’s immoral.

  2. Wow as a progressive Christian I am amazed at the vitrulent and passionate comments above. Whenever there is a reaction such as this, it speaks to underlying fear or trauma in our history. Healing is obviously necessary and it is sad that it is maintaining this enmity so virulently.

  3. Janet, Gaza had a great divide. Hamas leaders are billionaires thanks to the backing of rich Persian Gulf states while Gazans live in misery. That’s not Israel’s doing. Thanks for your faux concern that only masks your hatred for Israel.

  4. First the 18 months of secret negotiations between Obama, Castro, and Pope Francis which led to the beginning of the normalization of relations between the United States and Cuba, and now, following this historical momentum, comes Pope Francis signing of a treaty reaffirming Palestinian statehood, which benefits all genuinely concerned with a peaceful solution to the Israel in Palestine generated conflict.
    Pope Francis deserves more than kudos for his dedication to reconciliation, peace, and justice. He deserves consideration for the Noble Peace Prize.
    This Pope is being inspirational to people of all faiths as well as to people who, as this writer, guide themselves by the principles and values os “secular humanism”.
    This historical agreement benefits Christians in Palestine, Jews in Palestine/Israel, and the Palestinians who have been the victims of monstrous oppression, theft, expulsion, house demolitions, and mass murder as the world witnessed during last Summer’s Netanyahu’s ordered massacres in Gaza.
    Among Christians in Palestine, one of the most legendary, bright, official is Hanan Ashwari. She has been a continuous, patient, respectful, diplomatic negotiator striving to reconcile Moslems, Jews, Christians, and Seculars so as to achieve strength by unity in support of an end to the conflict which has now lasted 67 years, since the 1948 Al Naqba, when close to one million Palestinians were forced off their rightful homes and land.
    Contrary to the dishonest propagandist slanderous adulterations of history, this conflict was never based on hatred between Christians, Jews, and Moslems. It has everything to do with imperialistic British colonialism prior to 1948, and after 1967 with U.S. neocon and neoliberal interventionism fostered by the revisionist Zionist ideologues, as opposed to Jews per se, and by the pursuit of control for fossil fuel, which has fueled total deference and tolerance by the US of such tyrannical and corrupt dictatorships such as the Egyptian, Saudi Arabian, Bharaini, United Arab Emirates.
    The main objective of this short article is to denounce the words of the president of the Zionist Organization of America (ZOA), Mort Klein, who in response to Pope Francis’ noble support for and agreement with the Palestinian leadership, had the audacity to declare the following.
    “I’m shocked by the pope’s appeasement and collapsing in the face of radical Muslims. I believe this is appeasing radical Muslims in an attempt to mitigate the continuing murdering of Christians in Africa and the Middle East”. Klein then added that the move represents a resurgence of “the historical Catholic enmity towards Jews”.
    To characterize this hate and fear mongering declaration as imbecilic would be too kind as it would simply presuppose ignorance.
    This declaration reflects the quintessential embodiment of an ideology which insidiously is dedicated to mold perspectives by attempting to culturally program the uninformed in order to divide and conquer and greedily generate monetary and political capital, all along acting out the role of victim to camouflage the real role of perpetrator.
    Mr. Mort Klein is harmful not only to the human rights of Palestinians, but to the best interests of the world’s, as well and Israel’s, best Jews, who he offends as much or more as he offends all genuine Christians and not just Catholics.
    It is no longer possible to tarnish critics of the revisionist Zionist pernicious ideology as being “anti-Semitic” or “self-hating Jews”. These cheap accusations bereft of historical and legal legitimacy have expired.
    It is high time that a conflict solution for the Israeli-Palestine generated conflict be reached and the seed of the solution lies in the practical as well as ideal conversion of Israel into an integral component of a vibrant Palestinian democracy where to it is Palestinians who will have right to return wherefrom they were evicted since 1948.
    Only the UN in cooperation with the EU, US, and a multiplicity of additional governmental and NGO’s, coupled to ruling by the International Criminal Court, will realistically and sustainably usher in a new era of cooperative coexistence for all living equally under the law in an invigorated and united Palestine whose internal walls will be celebratively demolished so that co-healing, co-reconstruction, and co-creation can take the place of the present unsustainable Apartheid state with its Gaza 2 million people massive concentration camp inferno.
    For those not acquainted with this writer’s background, let it suffice to state that he is the son of parents who survived the Nazi genocides against Jews and others, and that his grandfather left the USSR to live happily in Haifa, Palestine wherefrom he departed for Brazil after the 1948 take over of 75% of Palestine’s territory in events which generated the conflict which we currently witness.

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