I weigh in on the controversy over Barack Obama’s possible nomination of Chuck Hagel to the post of Secretary of Defense in a guest post at Muzzlewatch, Jewish Voice for
Senator Chuck Hagel
Peace’s blog. On the issue of Israel and the Middle East, rarely has there been a more important moment for US policy. This is a moment where the Israel Lobby could well suffer a significant defeat, and that matters.
With the year ending, many writers will do their reviews of 2012. I look at where we are and what that might mean for 2013 for Israel and the Palestinians and the outside players, the US and EU.
In case my readers here are interested, in the wake of the Newton, CT massacre, I wrote a piece about what I think needs to be done about the US’ passion for the gun that is leading to more and more horror. It’s here at my general blog.
The United States may be easing up its customary pressure on Europe to go along with it in its blanket protection of Israel no matter how far Israel pushes the envelope. Early indications are that Europe just doesn’t need the pressure, they’re not going to pressure Israel anyway, despite the recent arrogant comments by both Bibi Netanyahu and Yvet Lieberman. But in the long term, maybe there’s a little more hope down the European road than the US one. I explore this in this week’s piece at Souciant.
The idea of Israel building in E-1 has got world leaders in quite a lather. But is it really because it is the death knell for the two-state solution or is it because even raising the issue betrays the reality that there never was a serious effort to reach a two-state resolution to this conflict to begin with, despite the rhetoric? I argue it is both.
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?
Rabbi Brant Rosen, Co-Chair of the Rabbinical Council of Jewish Voice for Peace
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. Continue reading
At Alternet, I argue that Israel’s own behavior is finally breaking down the walls for liberals all over the world, even in the US. The long-held epithet “PEP” (Progressive Except for Palestine) tried to shine a light on the difficult tension between liberal values and support for Israel’s excuses as to why it expands settlements and tightens its occupation. But now, Israel has stretched that to such a point that it is becoming impossible for liberals to ignore the reality of Israeli human rights abuses, rejectionism and land grabs. This wave overtook Europe some time ago, but now even US liberals, even Jewish ones, are moving away from their support for Israeli actions. AIPAC’s influence will become even more expensive as a result.