At the Palestine Center yesterday, Marc Ellis gave a speech, "The Ongoing Nakba and the Jewish Conscience," with a couple of very good points. One, why should anyone care about the ongoing Jewish argument about Israel?
Palestinians quite rightly decry the Jewish civil war as defining of their struggle. Why should Palestinians be concerned or even have to hear about these Jewish struggles? They’re tired of it, understandably. The Palestinian struggle is about Palestinians and Palestine. My own view is that Palestinians should do whatever they want with the internal workings of Jewish life, including ignoring them. But they should understand that the state of Israel represents a concrete and symbolic expression of Jewishness in the world. Though Israel operates within the nation-state system, it also perceives its destiny as outside of it. Thinking only the political with regard to Israel or as an arena for the struggle of universal human rights has been and continues to be a huge mistake. For Jews inside and outside of the state, Israel represents a primal marker in the world. It has little to do, in the Jewish imagination, with universal human rights.
And he affirmed a great theme: that the desperation of Palestine actually affords Jews an opportunity to well, step up to the plate and be a light unto the world. I’m waiting.
Revolutionary forgiveness in Israel-Palestine begins with a confession by the Jewish people. The confession is simple. What we as Jews have done to the Palestinian people is wrong. What we as Jews are doing to the Palestinian people today is wrong. With that confession, we agree to begin to walk the path with Palestinians towards justice and equality. As that path begins to be walked, the memories of each people, broken by history, remain. But as that path is walked, new memories begin to be created. As those memories of justice and equality are created, they begin to dominate the history of both peoples until in the end an injury against one is an injury against all. Revolutionary forgiveness; confession, justice at the center. In the broken middle of Israel-Palestine which is Jerusalem. Wiesel is right in this case, Jerusalem is important to Jews. Of course, [it’s] important to Palestinians [as well]. It’s the center of Israel-Palestine; cultural, intellectual, spiritual. If in Jerusalem, Jewish and Palestinian life can be shared at all levels — government, policing, education, garbage collection, shopping malls – invest both in ordinary life. As that investment increases, the religions – Christianity, Judaism and Islam – which have been militarized because of the political militarization are demilitarized, then a message from Jerusalem goes out to the world about the possibility of reconciliation, justice and forgiveness and among the world’s religions.