AIPAC rabbis stand up for racial justice in Michael Brown case

US Politics
on 25 Comments

The St. Louis American ran the photograph below today, by Lawrence Bryant, with this caption:

Rev. Osagyefo Sekou of the First Baptist Church of Jamaica Plains, Massachusetts, prayed on the front line of the Ferguson protests on Monday night alongside leaders from Episcopal, United Church of Christ, National Baptist, African Methodist Episcopal, Reformed Judaism, and Church of God in Christ faith communities.

At least two rabbis are in the group praying in front of the Ferguson police station for justice in the Michael Brown case. Both are from the Central Reform Congregation in St Louis: Susan Talve is on the right, in front of the person in the St. Louis Blues shirt, and Randy Fleisher is on the far left near the camera, in blue, with long hair.
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In August, these rabbis held an evening called The Progressive Case for Israel at their synagogue, featuring the Israel lobby group AIPAC and Ann Lewis, a Democratic Party activist who is a giant supporter of the Jewish state.

In the video below, Talve speaks for AIPAC on a trip to Israel, describing occupied Jerusalem as part of Israel, just like Netanyahu does. She also talks about Israeli soldiers healing themselves– “hope for heroes”— so they can can take care of the trauma they’ve suffered and turn it into “something positive.” She describes the Gaza onslaught as something experienced principally by Israel:

especially in this time when dealing with all the missiles coming from Gaza and of course the response to those missiles and the suffering that’s happening on both sides.

Racial justice at home – Apartheid tempered with platitudes about peace for the Jewish state over there. Well, it’s better than other St. Louis area rabbis who aren’t doing much to stand up for racial justice.

Talve wrote a report up on her AIPAC trip: “Our first meeting is with our good friend Yossi Klein Halevi.” A rightwing Zionist, and settler. And in that piece, Talve explains that she sides with AIPAC because, in essence, the Israel lobby is necessary to Israel’s survival:

Why am I here with AIPAC? I am a longtime supporter of Rabbis for Human Rights and I am on the national board of T’ruah. I have lobbied for the rights of the Bedouin and the Palestinians, I oppose the occupation of the West Bank and Gaza and with every bit of my soul I believe in the right of Israel to exist as a Jewish Democratic state. I believe that Israel needs American support and, without AIPAC, I doubt that there would be the understanding in the USlegislature that would have resulted in the funding of the Iron Dome and other critical defense systems that save lives every day. Not just Israeli and Jewish lives. Jerusalem and Hebron have been targets and there is great diversity here, including over 1.2 million Israeli Arabs who are also at risk. I have supported J Street and the New Israel Fund because I also believe that the dialogue is healthy and that these organizations give American Jews a way to engage with Israel in ways that grow our involvement and commitment. Even some of the most ardent Zionists who sacrificed everything to make aliyah are not sure that Israel can survive the hate that surrounds us here, especially as militant Islamists continue to destabilize the region and conveniently use Israel as their scapegoat.

Note that to her great credit, Talve also sponsored a talk by young Jewish critics of Israel, at her synagogue.

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Philip Weiss is Founder and Co-Editor of Mondoweiss.net.

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25 Responses

  1. seafoid
    October 2, 2014, 3:49 pm

    It’s good Judaism in Galut versus very, very bad Judaism in Erez Israel.
    “Because we are worth it”

    Rotten to the core.

    • Krauss
      October 3, 2014, 7:39 am

      People should be judged by how they act in a scenario where they are the majority, not the minority. It’s easy to make an argument as a racial minority that protecting other racial minorities’ rights is protecting your own.

      In other words: is Susan’s stand less principle and more crass racial self-interest? Because of her stance on Israel, the burden of proof is on her. Actually, it isn’t. The case is already settled, she sides with right-wing settlers in Israel. That’s what really counts because she is in the majority in Israel.

      • rightcoaster
        October 3, 2014, 1:15 pm

        It’s a good thing, also, her stand with the majority: Consider what happens to the minorities in each and every single one of the neighboring countries, products of Islam and the Ottomans. Show me a Middle-East, ex-Ottoman country where the rights of confessional or sexual minorities are protected today better than they are in Israel.

        Would you rather be Shia in Israel or Saudia? Sunni in Israel or Syria (or much of Iraq)? Kurd in Israel or almost anywhere but Kurdistan, which is why the Kurds identify with Israel? Queer of any stripe anywhere else? Bahai? Mouthy types such as spend too much time here?

        You are all so myopic, astigmatic, indiscriminate, obsessive. A collective f-stop of 1.8. Sheesh!

      • Annie Robbins
        October 3, 2014, 1:55 pm

        products of Islam and the Ottomans. Show me a Middle-East, ex-Ottoman country where the rights of confessional or sexual minorities are protected today better than they are in Israel.

        oh please! it’s been a long time since the ottomans. the US/IS juggernaut has been messing with all these countries for way too long. you can’t blame what’s happening today in iraq or syria on islam or the ottomans! especially not after all our intervention. remember we wiped out the secular dictator in iraq and totally support one of the most extremist regimes in the ME who beheaded 19 people last month. talk about hypocrisy. the west uses the repression of extremists to keep the ME down down down because of our own self interest. women weren’t in burkas in iraq 10 years ago anywhere near what they are today – because of our intervention/invasion and occupation which fueled extremism in iraq. and as for your bigotry:

      • rightcoaster
        October 5, 2014, 9:28 am

        Annie, a further commentary on Mahfouz’s Cairo Trilogy: in generation #2 the one son who breaks with the past is influenced, not by Muslim thought, which continues to imprison the women in ignorance and the men in hypocrisy, but by Western ideas, following his early immersion in Hanbali Islam. His emotional torture as he gradually escapes the constrictions of his upbringing form an important part of #2 in the trilogy.

      • Annie Robbins
        October 3, 2014, 2:06 pm

        Kurd in Israel or almost anywhere but Kurdistan, which is why the Kurds identify with Israel?

        bs, kurds do not ‘identify’ w/israel because of anti sharia, kurds like israel because they are on the winning end of neocon support because israel/us supports their independence and they do so because the neocon goal is to break up the ME. the US wants another permanent fotthold in the ME and that foothold is in the future ‘free’ kurdistan. in fact, ince could argue (as has been done) US/IS support has empowered the extremist isis/aq in those regions to facilitate (along w/ extremist saudi arabia, our ally) with that break up. and the pershmerga were our allies in routing out saddam too, which massively screwed over iraq in the long run. so lets not fanatasize too much about ‘the kurds’ ‘identifying’ w/israel because of some bigoted reason as opposed their nationalistic goals which streamline with the support israel gives them..including mossad-pkk training/spying..to do their bidding. pinprick example, one among many: http://mondoweiss.net/2012/01/israeli-drones-are-reported-spying-on-turkey-for-the-kurdish-group-pkk

      • Annie Robbins
        October 3, 2014, 4:50 pm

        rightcoaster..i couldn’t help thinking of you when i read this comment (see link below)

        Funny, isn’t it, that Al-Nusra call for jihadists around the world to strike against the global alliance opposing the Islamic State in Syria and Iraq. But not, it would seem, along the border with Israel where they’re settled in nicely.

        and this from winep

        Israel Lobby Supports Jabhat Al-Nusra, Insurgents In Aleppo Surrounded

        Israel gives cover and opened a corridor for Jabhat al-Nusra along the Golan height demarcation line to reach south Lebanon and the southern approaches to Damascus.

        There seems to be no concern in Tel Aviv that one day Jabhat al-Nusra could turn against Israel too. That is somewhat astonishing as both Hizbullah and Hamas started with Israeli support as counterweights to the Palestinian Liberation Organization only to later become the most capable foes of the Israeli occupation forces. One might have thought that Israeli strategists had learned from such foolishness.

        But obviously they have not and now their lobby in the United States, here in form of the Washington Institute, supports that dumb policy by calling for further support for the Al-Qaida affiliate:

        The risk of empowering an al Qaida affiliate is a small price to pay for Nusra’s contributions on the battlefield, said Jeffrey White, a former senior Defense Intelligence Agency analyst who’s now with the Washington Institute for Near East Policy, a think tank.

        http://www.moonofalabama.org/2014/10/israel-lobby-supports-jabhat-al-nusra-insurgents-in-aleppo-surrounded.html

      • W.Jones
        October 4, 2014, 12:58 am

        :Show me a Middle-East, ex-Ottoman country where the rights of confessional or sexual minorities are protected today better than they are in Israel.”
        Cyprus and Armenia?
        Why do folks always forget those guys?

  2. seafoid
    October 2, 2014, 3:51 pm

    The thing is that AIPAC prolly is essential to Israel’s survival.
    Which means it won’t survive.

  3. seafoid
    October 2, 2014, 3:54 pm

    Standing up for racial justice in the US is cheap. Doesn’t cost anything.
    You won’t find AIPAC rabbis tackling the difficult stuff like healthcare for the poor or what to do about junkie Israel.

  4. amigo
    October 2, 2014, 4:02 pm

    What I do for American human rights , I do because it,s the right thing to do.

    What I do for Israel , I do because God spoke to me and told me to protect Israel no matter how wrong Israel is.

    No Mea culpas necessary.

    Rabbinic logic , I guess.

    • seafoid
      October 2, 2014, 6:13 pm

      Judaism seems to have developed this instinctive sense of justice in the US which is beaten out of Jews in Israel. It’s really weird.

      • W.Jones
        October 3, 2014, 12:09 am

        Seafoid,

        I think that the judge in one of the overkill “Red Scare” trials in Pittsburgh in the 1940’s-50’s was Italian, and he was also a defender of Sacco and Vanzetti. Meanwhile, there were folks in the CP who apparently didn’t notice what was happening in the USSR 10 years earlier, but were pretty outspoken on US issues.

        There are plenty of folks in countries, including the US, who are able to find problems by conservatives in other societies rather than their own community.

  5. Sulphurdunn
    October 2, 2014, 5:03 pm

    Anyone who still appears to straddle the fence actually has both feet on the right side of it.

  6. Horizontal
    October 2, 2014, 6:09 pm

    It was interesting parsing the Rabbi’s words:

    “I believe that Israel needs American support and, without AIPAC, I doubt that there would be the understanding in the US Legislature that would have resulted in the funding of the Iron Dome and other critical defense systems that save lives every day.”

    She makes AIPAC sound like some little informative outfit, just giving their opinion, something like AAA Magazine. I think the understanding is more like, “Do as we say or your opponent will get all the money they need to defeat you in the next election, plus you’ll be branded a Jew-hater, too. Enjoy!”

    Another thing, isn’t Iron Dome incredibly destabilizing, as it removes the costs of going to war for only one side, thus making attacks more likely?

    “I oppose the occupation of the West Bank and Gaza and with every bit of my soul I believe in the right of Israel to exist as a Jewish Democratic state.”

    C’mon, pick a side. People have a right to exist; states don’t. States are artificial constructs that can come and go. Herzl’s fever dream of a Jewish State that would be the cure for European anti-Semitism while at the same time improving the Palestinian Arabs’ lives has been a monumental bust. Let it go, already. Israel ain’t Judaism.

    Here’s the kicker:

    “Even some of the most ardent Zionists who sacrificed everything to make aliyah are not sure that Israel can survive the hate that surrounds us here, especially as militant Islamists continue to destabilize the region and conveniently use Israel as their scapegoat.”

    OK, I had to look up aliyah, but still, has she gotten a load of the “most ardent Zionists” lately? And they’re talking about the hate that surrounds them? Sheesh. And I like how she throws the “conveniently” in there, like Israel isn’t going out of its way acting like a monstrous evil in the region and then acting surprised that no one likes them. Some scapegoat.

    I am glad that Talve hosted a critics’ meeting at her synagogue; I hope she can move herself a bit further down the path that will allow her to embrace a more humane and just life for everyone and realize how her support for Zionist Israel is currently blocking that path.

  7. Kay24
    October 2, 2014, 7:06 pm

    What compassion and consideration for those who are harassed, racially targeted, and helpless people. Their standing up for the rights of human beings is so touching. This is all a show for the American people. Their hypocrisy is unbelievable.

  8. yonah fredman
    October 2, 2014, 8:25 pm

    Yossi Klein Halevi is a settler (living across the green line in East Jerusalem), but is he a right winger? I would call him a centrist.

  9. American
    October 2, 2014, 9:07 pm

    Hypocrites.

  10. rightcoaster
    October 2, 2014, 10:00 pm

    No sooner had I posted than I found this in the mainstream press: http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/worldviews/wp/2014/10/01/9-attempts-to-explain-the-crazy-complexity-of-the-middle-east/?tid=pm_world_pop

    How depressing that they cannot simplify everything in the ME, reduce it as a chef might in this Weird and Wonderful World of Weiss, to just the Zionist depredations upon the Palestinians. Gawd, the world is so much easier to understand when we have no decisions to make, and everything fits perfectly our linear model!

    • bilal a
      October 3, 2014, 6:24 am

      Naomi Wolff on Israel as the land given by G_d:

      Okay, so I was challenged below: “Read the Bible! God gave the land of Israel to the Jewish people.” So….I may get crucified for this but I have started to say it — most recently (terrified, trembling) to warm welcome in a synagogue in LA: Actually if you read Genesis Exodus and Deuteronomy in Hebrew — as I do — you see that God did not “give” Israel to the Jews/Israelites. We as Jews are raised with the creed that “God gave us the land of Israel” in Genesis — and that ethnically ‘we are the chosen people.” But actually — and I could not believe my eyes when I saw this, I checked my reading with major scholars and they confirmed it — actually God’s “covenant” in Genesis, Exodus and Deuteronomy with the Jewish people is NOT ABOUT AN ETHNICITY….

      https://www.facebook.com/naomi.wolf.author/posts/10152548360004476

  11. scott9854958
    October 2, 2014, 10:36 pm

    This gal sounds a wee bit confused. She opposes the occupation. Yet she loves AIPAC which supports occupation and expulsion. As for that smarmy tilted head smile…ick.

  12. eljay
    October 3, 2014, 8:33 am

    >> … I have lobbied for the rights of the Bedouin and the Palestinians, I oppose the occupation of the West Bank and Gaza and with every bit of my soul I believe in the right of Israel to exist as a Jewish Democratic state.

    A “Jewish State” of Israel is a religion-supremacist construct primarily of and for Jewish Israelis and non-Israeli Jews. Ms. Talve may have lobbied for Bedouin and Palestinian rights, but she cannot have lobbied for equality for non-Jewish Israelis in a “Jewish State” of Israel.

    (I wonder if she advocates for justice and accountability, or only for “peace”.)

    >> … Even some of the most ardent Zionists who sacrificed everything to make aliyah are not sure that Israel can survive the hate that surrounds us here, especially as militant Islamists continue to destabilize the region and conveniently use Israel as their scapegoat.

    For over 60 years, Israel has:
    – stolen, occupied and colonized Palestinian land;
    – oppressed, tortured and killed Palestinians;
    – refused to honour its obligations under international law;
    – refused to accept responsibility and accountability for its past and ON-GOING (war) crimes; and
    – refused to enter into sincere negotiations for a just and mutually-beneficial peace.

    The fact that “militant Islamists” point to Israel’s past and on-going acts of immorality and injustice as justification for their own acts of immorality and injustice does not absolve Israel of anything.

  13. Pixel
    October 4, 2014, 5:03 pm

    @ Annie ” … beheaded …

    I would suggest, more accurately: … [allegedly] beheaded …

    … which is about as far as we’re allowed to go on this site.

  14. rightcoaster
    October 5, 2014, 9:05 am

    Annie, there is no reply link below your comments to mine re Ottomans. But you make my point as to your own limitations, ignorance of history and time:

    RC: “…products of Islam and the Ottomans. Show me a Middle-East, ex-Ottoman country where the rights of confessional or sexual minorities are protected today better than they are in Israel. …”

    AR:” oh please! it’s been a long time since the ottomans. the US/IS juggernaut has been messing with all these countries for way too long. you can’t blame what’s happening today in iraq or syria on islam or the ottomans!”

    Annie, you typify the naivete of the folks on MondoWeiss: Your f-stop is set at 1.8; you have no depth of field at all, no sense of history beyond the eloquent drivel that is your sole diet. Even the blogs you quote are only those that agree with you. Read “The Peace to End all Peace” by Fromkin, for example. Or the Cairo Trilogy by Mahfouz. A mere 90 years have lapsed — Ottoman Empire died formally in 1922, I think, although the stinking decomposition had gone on for much longer — after 500 years of Ottomans and 1500 of Islam. That’s not enough time to get past those monstrous obstacles to human development. What’s happening today in every country that is both ex-Ottoman and Muslim is a direct result of both. Not that both Ottomanism and Islam are necessary: compare India with Pakistan, and it is clear that the two former British colonies have had different outcomes, and it’s awfully hard not to blame Islam for Pakistan — especially for you, since they had the same Western intervention. On the other hand, consider Morocco: Muslim but never Ottoman (and with similar Western domination). During a visit some decades ago (Hassan II was still absolute monarch) Moroccans attributed in conversation their relative success to having been non-Ottoman. We’ll see how much longer Morocco can resist the sect-driven disintegration of the Muslim world (which has nothing to do with Israel, a paragon of the Western ideal of free markets and human freedom and tolerance).

    Another respondent, Jones, gave Cyprus and Armenia as ex-Ottoman counterexamples — and neither is Muslim. Just look at the relative prosperity and freedoms in the two parts of Cyprus if you can get past the hobble of your f1.8. Free Cyprus has a GDP of $26k, Turkish Cyprus $14k (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Economy_of_Northern_Cyprus). Free Cyprus has ties to Israel and is part of EU, Turkey is headed back to the abyss from which Ataturk freed them in 1923, and EU membership prospects are receding.

    The Muslim part of the region remains crippled by its history… and Israel’s success as an economically, socially, and politically modern state (ditto Cyprus’) only further highlights the failure of the confessionally and tribally riven parts.

    The last part of the Cairo Trilogy (set in the mid-30s, I think) shows the pull of the contradictory forces on the morally corrupt Ottoman/Muslim society over the three generations it spans. The third generation (first gen was strict Hanbali — predecessor to Wahhabism) includes two sons — one becomes a communist, the other a Muslim fundamentalist — one can read Nasser/Baath vs Muslim Brotherhood/Hamas between the lines.

    Annie, you need to grow up. Your lesbian friends (if I have them here, you must have them in Lalaland out there) can live and be out of the closet in Israel. You can live out of the closet in Israel, without becoming a sex slave (recent rediscovery by IS), a Muslim, or wearing a burqa. You can start a business, be a successful Arab, do any damn thing you want. Could a woman, a queer, or a Jew do as well in “Palestine” — especially in Hamastan?

    I recently heard that Israel has set up a field hospital and tents for Syrian-refugee women and children in Jordan — and the hospital in the Golan that treats Syrian wounded without regard to confession or pollitics has made the news repeatedly.

    Compare that with the videos, e.g, of Hamas rocketers setting up under a tent (Indian news team video) adjacent hotel and ?apartment building? in Gaza; then launching. Did the Hamasniks tell the inhabitants to vacate, the way Israel did before blasting the source?

    Annie, you are naive beyond your years.

  15. rightcoaster
    October 5, 2014, 9:55 am

    Annie, here are two more reactions to points you made in reply to mine:

    Annie: “women weren’t in burkas in iraq 10 years ago anywhere near what they are today – because of our intervention/invasion and occupation which fueled extremism in iraq. …”

    RC: Nonsense, Annie: Women were not in burqas or other gender-repressive garb in Iraq because of the Baath party then in charge. They were and remain in burqas and niqabs or whatever other name they may be called in Iran, in Saudia, Yemen, and in Taliban Afghanistan — and in Philadelphia, USA. This has nothing to do with the US, except insofar as in Iraq we stupidly took the lid off the pressure cooker by offing Saddam. It is Islam, enforced according to the political clout locally of the right-winger medievalists.

    Annie: “…bs, kurds do not ‘identify’ w/israel because of anti sharia, kurds like israel because they are on the winning end of neocon support because israel/us supports their independence – ”
    RC: More nonsense annie and you surely aren’t emulating archie are you? It’s a bit hard to understand the specifics of your intent, as you must have dashed off the response without editing…. you are clearly saying the Kurds like Israel because Israel supports their independence, and that’s a good part of it since failure to support would not lead to friendliness; but your naivete again locks you into your reflexive ideologue mode (“neocons”!). Evidently you also are saying that while both the Kurds and the Israelis eschew sharia law, albeit for obviously different reasons, that’s not why the Kurds identify with Israel. Well, if I implied it was because of a shared opposition to sharia law, I apologize! That never occurred to me. I perfer to conclude that Kurds identify with Israel because Israel is a modern and minority-rights-tolerant state, with a shared opposition to being murdered by their neighbors. In Turkey speaking/writing Kurdish was not a good idea. Since the Kurds are Sunni, I assume they have problems in Iran, almost the way the Bahais do (the Bahai Temple in Haifa is lovely). They can see that neither Sunnism(?) nor Kurdish language problems would exist in Israel, hurray for Israel. Get off the knee-jerk ideology, Annie, and use your brain. Try to get some perspective, starting with f2.8 (a twelve-step process toward f32).

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