This is part of Marc H. Ellis’s “Exile and the Prophetic” feature for Mondoweiss. To read the entire series visit the archive page.
Is there a red line in Jewish life, one that Israel, Jewish leadership and Jews around the world, including our rabbis, won’t cross – under any conditions?
The state of Israel has crossed so many red lines. Israel’s invasion of Gaza is the latest red line crossing, one that is being hotly debated in Jewish communities around the world. Right now in the United States the debate is being played out in a small synagogue in Evanston, Illinois where Rabbi Brant Rosen has been on the red line hot seat for years.
Small synagogue – huge issue. Yet over the years so many red lines have been crossed that the color chart is blurred. At least for Jewish eyes. For some Jews, red has turned gray and gray, white. Now its gloves off, give them what they deserve.
Jews of Conscience are fighting that color blurring. It’s an uphill battle for sure but one worth fighting.
Example: Should it surprise us then that Israel having destroyed Gaza is economically benefiting from its rebuilding? Apparently no red line here. Some years ago Naomi Klein’s The Shock Doctrine analyzed how capitalist ventures benefit off the misery of others. Her book needs an Israel update. Now it’s “Israel will destroy Gaza and benefit from Gaza’s rebuilding.”
This is how EuroeActiv describes the situation:
At least 65,000 people in the Gaza Strip are homeless after the recent seven-week conflict. Infrastructure ranging from water desalination centres to power plants lies in ruins.
No formal Israeli ban prevents the import of reconstruction materials that were not made in Israel, but EU sources speaking on condition of anonymity say that in practice, Israeli security demands present them with a fait accompli.
“If you want aid materials to be permitted to enter, they will almost inevitably come from Israeli sources,” an EU official said. “I don’t think you’ll find it written down anywhere in official policy, but when you get to negotiate with the Israelis, this is what happens. It increases construction and transaction costs, and is a political problem that has to be dealt with.”
As well as Israel’s security restrictions on aid, “it can be very difficult to export materials to Gaza,” the official said. “A lot of goods for a Gaza private sector reconstruction project we had, ended up being held in Ashdod port for very lengthy periods of time – months if not years – so there was de facto no alternative but to use Israeli sources.”
The source added that the policy had benefited Israel’s economy to the tune of millions of euros and was, in his view, deliberate.
The European Union and others, ostensibly Palestine’s better friends, are paralyzed. The only ones who will speak about this dire situation remain anonymous.
But then anonymity has been the name of the game on all sides of the Israel-Palestine issue for decades. That’s how red lines blur.
The reckoning that should have happened after Gaza isn’t happening. Only a collective effort can reverse the course of destruction and profiting from the destruction.
Is the reckoning that isn’t an international red line changing color?
It isn’t for lack of trying. Check out Germany’s and the European Union’s attempt to break the cycle of destruction in Israel-Palestine.
Germany believes that delivering Israel a fourth submarine will break the cycle. The submarine will arrive in Israel in the coming days. Chancellor Merkel is stepping up her efforts by agreeing to address a demonstration in Berlin next week against the rising tide of anti-Semitism in Germany. No doubt she hopes that this combination will solve the German/Jewish/Israeli question.
The EU’s border management agency is holding discussions with Israel’s weapons industry about how drones can help Europe hunt down asylum-seekers. A new Israeli drone tested in the Gaza war is of great interest to the Europeans who continue to fight against their colonial subjects showing up on their shores.
If I were a conspiracy theorist, I would note how Germany and the European Union are coordinating their efforts. Does their end justify their means?
So there we have it. Sophisticated submarines, anonymous sniping against Israel, demonstrations against anti-Semitism and drones for Europe tested against defenseless Palestinians.
Red lines fading to gray, then white. So soon?