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“Occupation is Not Our Judaism” – Some Final Thoughts

The approach that rabbi Grant Rosen reports on is going to be a large part of changing the future of Israel from abusive settler violence to one where both Jews and Palestinians have equal rights and the white racism has largely disappeared.

Shalom Rav

video by A. Daniel Roth

Even though I’ve been back from the Center for Jewish Nonviolence delegation for almost a week now, I’ll take this opportunity to end this series with some final closing thoughts. There’s so much I wasn’t able to cover – and so much more to say about what I did – but I do at least want to highlight some of my major takeaways from this amazing experience.

To start: I have no doubt in my mind now that a genuine diaspora-based Jewish movement for Palestinian solidarity is rapidly growing. It’s real, it’s broad based and its gaining some serious traction. When I was first invited by CJNV founder Ilana Sumka to join this delegation, I went to their website and read that the trip would include Jews who come from a wide spectrum of organizations such as Jewish Voice for Peace, J Street, Open Hillel, If Not Now

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Does Israel have a future?

Gaza-Israel-Ayelet-ShakedPhoto: ynet.com

Israel is a settler nation, a nation created from cleansing the natives from the territory they sought to occupy. Israel became a nation in 1948, a homeland for Jews in the ancient land of Israel, a land where they could live in peace and security. The story most people heard was a positive one. The true story was and is different. Israel was founded by and lives on terror. To read more about it than I am able to provide in this short blog, read “The Ethnic Cleansing of Palestine” by Israeli historian Ilan Pappe, available in both paper and Kindle.

Looking back through Jewish history, one wonders how a people who have suffered pogroms and the horror of Hitler’s effort to cleanse Europe of all Jews recreate the horror against another people. It’s easy. Divide the world into “us” and “them,” see “them” as being in your way, and go from there. “We” are humans; “they” are are in our way. Jewish militias set out to cleanse the land of its indigenous Arab Palestinian population, home invasions, destruction of villages, and massacres. Upwards of 800,000 Palestinians fled to Lebanon, Jordan and Egypt’s Gaza Strip. There is no right to return to their homeland. Within Israel itself, Palestinians live second class lives. Recently Haaretz daily newspaper reported that Israel’s school system remains separate and unequal. going on to report that Arab (Palestinian) teacher trainees in Galilee receive half the budget of their Jewish peers.

Israeli society is built on racial and ethnic prejudice. If you are Jewish, you have privilege; if you are Palestinian, you have no right to complain or show anger. If you do, you may be killed or thrown in jail, some times for a long time. “Are Israeli soldiers human?” a little girl asks a neighbor. “Why the question?” the neighbor replies.“They shoot children,” she says. All too often this is true if the children are Palestinian.

If you are Palestinian and own a home, you can be evicted if you add to it and fail to get a building permit, even though your family may have lived in the home for years. In the Palestinian village of Silwan, extremist settlers are moving in and taking over homes of Palestinians, some of whom have lived in their home for many years. Last year one family’s home was taken over because a Yemenite Jewish family had owned it in the 19th century. That’s what happens when a society is built on racism, violence and lies.

If this is not enough, Shmuel Eliyahu, the Chief Rabbi of the city of Safed, advises Jews to “kill Palestinians to get closer to God.” Rabbi Shlomo Mlmad, the chairman of the so-called Council of Rabbis in West Bank settlements, calls on settlers to poison Palestinians through their water supply. Rabbi Benzion Mutzafi’s reply to the question if he was allowed to kick an insurgent (Palestinian) or shoot him in order to kill him after he has been arrested by saying “It is not only desirable to do so, but it is a religious duty that you hold his head down to the ground and hit him until his last breath.” http://www.daysofpalestine.com/news/israeli-rabbis-killing-palestinians-religious-duty/#sthash.GgbgqpxM.dpuf

If this is not enough, other right wing rabbis advise poisoning the water of the Palestinians in a rabbinical call for genocide. http://thearabdailynews.com/2016/06/27/zionists-poison-well/

Responding to these facts, Israelis lie, make accusations of anti-Semitism (expanded to include criticism of Israel as being anti-Semitic), and show self-pity. Here is a quote from Israel’s former UN Ambassador Ron Prosor: “I stand before you to speak the truth. Of the 300 million Arabs in the Middle East and North Africa, less than half a percent are truly free – and they are all citizens of Israel. Israeli Arabs are some of the most educated Arabs in the world. They are our leading physicians and surgeons, they are elected to our parliament, and they serve as judges on our Supreme Court. Millions of men and women in the Middle East would welcome these opportunities and freedoms.” In other words, all of the accusations against Israel are lies. Mr. Prosor is using one of Israel’s primary defenses, denial.

“Nonetheless,” Mr. Prosor continues, “nation after nation, will stand at this podium today and criticize Israel – the small island of democracy in a region plagued by tyranny and oppression.” Glaring self-pity and denial, even in the face of irrefutable evidence. “There is nothing wrong with us,” Mr. Prosor says, it is with the Palestinians and our critics.

If Israel continues to persecute its Palestinian citizens and the Palestinian residents of the occupied West Bank, East Jerusalem, the Golan Heights and Gaza, the results will be a racist, totalitarian society that many will compare to Hitler’s Germany. Where hatred and abuse of others rules, freedom and justice never does. Will Israel wake up and change? Under its current leadership it will not.

Posted in George Polley, Indigenous people, Israel, Justice, Palestinian people, Peace, Settler colonialism, Settler Societies, Zionism | Tagged , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Looking hatred in the eye, and beating it.

Well, This Is What I Think


One of the effects of events such as the hideous massacre of innocents in Orlando is the repeated assault on the mood and feelings of people who are only distantly connected to the actual event.

At times like this, it is all to easy for our imaginations, driven by empathy for those hurt, driven by our simple understanding of what they went through, driven by the awareness that that could have been us, to be completely overwhelmed by the horror.

The news is inescapable. Media coverage is wall-to-wall. It regularly beats in on all of us, even those who seek to shut it out by avoiding the endlessly repeated 24 hour newscasts. An intrusive internet headline here. A radio soundbite there. A comment from a co-worker. A cride coeur from someone standing next to you in a queue for coffee.

The global psychic effect of the accumulated evil in the…

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On Passover, Israel and Demographic Threats

This post tells it like it really is.

Shalom Rav

2016_0427rrisr_ (Image: Jared Rodriguez / Truthout)

Crossposted with Truthout

The weeklong Jewish festival of Passover is coming to a close, but like many Jews around the world I’m still digesting the myriad questions, answers and discussions that ensued as we retold the biblical story of the Exodus at our seder. While it’s a story our community returns to over and over again, I’m continually astonished at the ways it provides a frame for understanding struggles for liberation past and present.

This year, I’ve been contemplating one aspect of the story in particular: when a new pharaoh arises over Egypt “who did not know Joseph.” We immediately learn in no uncertain terms that this new ruler was considerably more xenophobic than his predecessor:

And (Pharaoh) said to his people, “Look, the Israelite people are much too numerous for us. Let us deal shrewdly with them, so that they may not increase; otherwise…

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New for Passover: “Your Child Will Ask”

Shalom Rav

europe-migrants-hungary Photo:Marko Djurica/Reuters

Your child will ask
why do we observe this festival?

And you will answer
it is because of what God did for us
when we were set free from the land of Egypt.

Your child will ask
were we set free from the land of Egypt
that we might hold tightly
to the pain of our enslavement
with a mighty hand?

And you will answer
we were set free from Egypt
that we might release our pain
by reaching with an outstretched arm
to all who struggle for freedom.

Your child will ask
were we set free from the land of Egypt
because we are God’s chosen people?

And you will answer
we were set free from the land of Egypt
so that we will finally come to learn
all who are oppressed
are God’s chosen.

Your child will ask
were we set free from the land of…

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Not to be an American Indian – a poem to ponder

This is more than a poem, it is a poem with a message about marginalizing people then shoving them aside because of their race, nationality, or just plain prejudice. The author, Jack Brighton, a good man, was my friend. I’ve kept it in my archives, and now I’m sharing it.

What I write


It is best not to be an American Indian
I will give it up
I have examined that kind of life an discovered
it is not worth living.
I will not ask to know the name of my ancestors’
tribe, or what I must do.
I will pluck the inner eyes of emotion
I will sleep with white sex goddesses,
and never get involved.
I will never use the word love and care
for no one.
I will ask no one to care for me, so I will
never be homesick because I will have no home.
I will avoid solitude and never think of
When I die, I don’t want to know what’s happening.
Who wants to root among burial grounds and
taste the bitter roots of the human heart,
only to find that autobiography is tragedy
and that you are only one alone among many,
an inconsolable…

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