The Forward asked me to write a piece for them along the lines of the piece on Pam Geller and BDS which appeared in Souciant today. The two articles have both similarities and differences, so you should check out both. Can’t say I’m keen on the title, but it does reflect what I wrote.
Archive for the ‘Jewish Community’ Category
Posted in Free speech, Jewish Community, tagged Anti-Semitism, BDS, Great Neck, Islamophobia, Israel, Jewish Daily Forward, Jews, Judith Butler, Muslims, New York, Omar Barghouti, Palestine, Pamela Geller, Racism on April 12, 2013 | Leave a Comment »
Posted in Anti-Semitism, Jewish Community, tagged Anti-Semitism, BDS, Great Neck, Islamophobia, Israel, Jewish Daily Forward, Jews, Judith Butler, LGBT, Muslims, New York, Omar Barghouti, Palestine, Pamela Geller, Racism, Sarah Schulman on April 12, 2013 | Leave a Comment »
Free speech is now a key battleground in the Israel-Palestine conflict. And, as with virtually all battlegrounds in this conflict, the debate is completely divorced from reason. The comparison of pro-BDS speakers to a hatemongering racist like Pamela Geller is absurd and offensive, and what one thinks of BDS as a tactic and a movement has no bearing on that obvious truth. I explore this at Souciant this week.
Posted in Jewish Community, Jewish State, tagged Abe Foxman, AIPAC, Anti-Semitism, Becket, Benjamin Netanyahu, David Duke, Gaza, Gilad Atzmon, human rights, Israel, Jewish State, Jews, Mahmoud Ahmedinejad, Middle east, Occupation, Palestine, Palestinians, Peter O'Toole, pro-Israel, Richard Burton, West Bank, Zionism on March 19, 2013 | 4 Comments »
“How can the Jews, of all people do this?”
I hear this too often when discussing the dispossession and occupation of the Palestinian people. It’s a tiresome line. Sure, I understand that on the surface this seems a reasonable question. But one doesn’t have to look very far to see that it isn’t.
Oppression and suffering don’t necessarily lead to a greater sensitivity to these things. We see this on a personal level, as well as on a larger scale. The victim of child abuse may well grow up to become an abuser. The victim of sexual abuse may also react to such an experience by repeating it on someone else. Many such people do not repeat the cycle, but many do.
Similarly, some large groups of people face discrimination and then bring it to others. Puritans faced discrimination in Europe, came to “the New World” and visited worse upon the native population, on slaves, and as time went on, on various other ethnic groups. Power changed hands at different times in Eastern Europe, and discrimination against one group or another continued to flourish. Shi’a have faced great discrimination in the Muslim world, and this has not brought about an egalitarian government in Iran. Hutus were once the majority treated like a minority in Rwanda. The Nazis rose to prominence on the strength of wounded German pride after years of economic deprivation in the wake of the First World War. The examples are legion. (more…)
Posted in Jewish Community, tagged AIPAC, Annie Lennox, Anti-Semitism, BDS, Brian Eno, democracy, Elvis Costello, Gaza, human rights, Israel, J Street, Jewish State, Jewish Voice for Peace, Middle east, Occupation, One-State Solution, Operation Cast Lead, Palestine, Palestinians, Peace Groups, pro-Israel, Rabbi Brant Rosen, Rabbis, Roger Waters, Settlements, Stevie Wonder, Two-state solution, United Nations on December 6, 2012 | 1 Comment »
Rabbi Brant Rosen leads a congregation in Evanston, Illinois and is co-chair of the Rabbinical Council of Jewish Voice for Peace. He is the author of the new book, Wrestling in the Daylight: A Rabbi’s Path to Palestinian Solidarity and blogs at Shalom Rav. He stresses that the views, both in his book and in this interview, are his own and do not represent his congregation. We spoke on Monday December 4 in Washington, DC where he was promoting his book. An abridged version of this interview was published by Inter Press Service.
How has your personal view of Israel changed in the past four years?
I think I’ve shifted from a liberal Zionist approach—viewing the conflict as two peoples who have two legitimate claims to the land and the only way out of the morass is two states for two people. I believed in the importance of a Jewish state and identified with Israel as a Jew; that was my narrative growing up. I have deep familial relationships in Israel, visited there many times, considered moving there…it was a gradual thing, but the breaking point was Operation Cast Lead in 2008 (Cast Lead was the code name given to Israel’s 2008-09 assault on Gaza). I came to realize this was not a conflict between two equal parties but an essential injustice that began with the birth of the state of Israel and continued since that time. It is a case of one very powerful party bending the other to its will.
Once I spoke out about Israel’s outrages in Cast Lead, the dominoes really started to fall for me. At first I didn’t know where that brought me, and wasn’t sure where I stood. As a congregational rabbi I was in a difficult place and people looked to me for guidance. About a year after that, I really reassessed my relationship as a Jew to Israel, to the entire issue, not just Gaza, about Zionism in general. In the blog pieces I wrote for the book I wrote very extensively about my thoughts and my activity during this time. Brian Walt and I started Jewish Fast for Gaza, and we found a number of rabbis who stood with us to launch the initiative to end the blockade of the Strip and search for a just peace. I become more involved in Palestine Solidarity work, reaching out to Palestinians, some of whom were friends and others who were activists in this area, moving beyond my fear of them as “other.” So many of them reached out to me when I spoke out on Gaza, and I wanted to learn from them what their experience of this issue was. (more…)
Posted in Jewish Community, tagged democracy, human rights, international law, Israel, Israel Lobby, Jewish State, Jewish Voice for Peace, Justice, Middle east, Occupation, Palestine on September 28, 2011 | 3 Comments »
American Jews are shifting. Still liberal to left-wing on the whole, the anomaly that has been Jewish political attitudes toward the Israeli occupation has long stood out. For a long time, Jewish Americans have had a wide spectrum of views on the occupation, but politically, only one view, reflective of the center-right to right-wing side of the Israeli spectrum, has had real impact on US policy.
More and more, Jews are moving away from that stance and more of all ages are realizing that, whatever their views on Zionism and Israel, the occupation is a practically and morally intolerable phenomenon. Someday, and not too far in the future, the young Jews in this video and many others like them will be at least part of the face of American Jewish leadership. For the first time, young American Jews are organizing and standing up as Jews and within the Jewish community to oppose the occupation. Too often, the response of young Jews has been silence or alienation from the community. That, too, is changing.
Posted in J Street, Jewish Community, tagged AIPAC, BDS, Brandeis, democracy, free speech, Hillel, Israel, Israel Lobby, Jewish State, Jewish Voice for Peace, Kadima, Knesset, Middle east, Peace Groups, pro-Israel, Two-state solution on March 10, 2011 | 2 Comments »
In his 1988 book, Israel’s Fateful Hour, the former head of Israeli military intelligence, Yehoshafat Harkabi, regarded up until the day of his death in 1994 as perhaps Israel’s premier expert on the Arab world and Islam, wrote the following:
“Given that Israel’s predicament also affects Jews in the Diaspora, they too should take an active part in the debate. Israelis must allow them to do so and listen to what
they have to say…they must not be banished from the discussion, and to this end they must do their homework. They must also dare to speak their minds candidly, without being afraid to disagree with Israel. The reticence of the American Jewish leadership is not to their credit. Instead of publicly expressing their concern, they act as apologists for policies and conduct of which many of them privately disapprove, abdicating their responsibilities as leaders in America and as influential advisers in Israel.”
Harkabi is surely spinning in his grave today.
In two separate but parallel incidents, the assault on dissent from Israeli policies, and especially on Jewish dissent, continued and grew in intensity. The first, an all too typical example of the craven way in which the American Jewish community narrowly confines debate for its own people, was at Brandeis University, where the local Hillel chapter refused to admit the campus chapter of Jewish Voice for Peace.
The second was more stunning, and more of a departure from business as usual. This was the announcement that the leading crusaders against democracy in the Knesset – Othniel Schneller (Kadima) and Danny Danon (Likud) – are taking aim outside of Israel’s borders and targeting J Street.
On the Brandeis matter, I will be brief and refer you to the excellent reporting of the matter done by Jeremiah Haber at The Magnes Zionist. Jerry’s excellent take on the matter can be found here, his report on Brandeis’ J Street U chapter criticizing JVP’s exclusion despite the political differences between the groups is here, and Jerry’s spotlight on the Brandeis JVP chapter can be found here. Also, check out Meretz USA’s statement at their blog. (more…)
Posted in J Street, Jewish Community, tagged democracy, human rights, Israel, Israel Lobby, J Street, Jewish State, Justice, Middle east, Obama, Occupation, Palestine, Palestinians, Peace Groups, pro-Israel, Settlements, Two-state solution on February 26, 2011 | 3 Comments »
I came in concerned about the atmosphere at this conference. In 2009, at the first J Street national conference, there was a good deal of hope. Israel was facing great international pressure due to the onslaught on Gaza earlier in the year; President Obama had made it clear that he opposed Israeli settlements in a more substantive way than his predecessors; and that there was a real sense of urgency toward a two-state solution.
Now, the two-state solution seems to have been killed by Israel, Obama has shown that he will not get into fights about his Mideast policies and there is a general feeling of hopelessness about any diplomatic process. So what would this mean for J Street in 2011?
It seems like someone at J Street considered just that question. The decision to have Peter Beinart speak at their opening plenary was a no-brainer. But bringing Sarah Benninga and Dr. Izzeldin Abuelaish was unexpected and turned out to be a very powerful way to begin the conference. (more…)