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.
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.