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Time for a Jewish reformation?

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In August 1982, a delegation of nine South African colored and black pastors traveled to Ottawa, Canada for the meeting of the General Council of the World Alliance of Reformed Churches. The world body of churches in 107 countries, with some 75 million members, had no idea that an earthquake was about to shake their church fellowship and indeed the global church. Soon after the opening of the meeting, the South African delegates staged a history-changing demonstration in quietly refusing to take communion with their white colleagues. We will not sit at the Lord’s table with you, they announced, because in Apartheid South Africa, by law and by practice, white and black cannot receive the Eucharist together.

The World Alliance got the message. It suspended the South African member churches and declared the international fellowship to be in status confessionis: nothing else moves for our church until this betrayal of the core values of our faith is addressed. The global church on an ecumenical basis took the cue, supporting the South African resistance movements — armed and nonviolent — and the economic sanctions against South Africa, and in little more than a decade South African Apartheid was brought down.

In 1963, writing from a jail cell in response to a letter from fellow clergy urging him to abandon his campaign of sit-ins, marches, and boycotts, Reverend Martin Luther King Jr. called the church to its mission. “There was a time,” he wrote, “when… Christians rejoiced at being deemed worthy to suffer for what they believed. In those days the church was not merely a thermometer that recorded the ideas and principles of popular opinion; it was a thermostat that transformed the mores of society. But the judgment of God is upon the church as never before. If today’s church does not recapture the sacrificial spirit of the early church, it will lose its authenticity, forfeit the loyalty of millions, and be dismissed as an irrelevant social club with no meaning for the twentieth century.” For King and his followers, the gospels provided the blueprint for the Civil Rights movement’s strategy of nonviolent direct action.

In 1939, heartbroken over how the German church (with notable exceptions) had supported Nazism, Dietrich Bonhoeffer wrote that absent a “reformation crisis,” the church was in danger of becoming worse than irrelevant. Not only the pulpits but the departments of theology, he wrote to a friend, existed for the purpose of supporting state tyranny. He returned to Germany from the safety of New York City, called his “Confessing Church” together, and ultimately paid the ultimate price for faithfulness to his principles and to the church that he loved.

Judaism is facing a crisis today on the level of the reformation called for by Bonhoeffer in its confrontation with Nazism, on the level of the challenge that King threw down in the struggle to end legalized racism in this country, and on the level of the status confessionis faced by the global church in its recognition of the evil of Apartheid. The crisis for the Jewish establishment has arrived with the growing awareness that all is not right with our Jewish homeland project in historic Palestine.

A moment of truth

In the fall of 2006, I had just returned from Israel and the West Bank. Speaking at a church in Washington, D.C., I expressed my horror over Israel’s violations of international law and the human rights of the Palestinians, the damage done to Israeli society, and my heartbreak and fear for my people. I charted my “conversion” from a Jew critical of some of Israel’s policies but supportive of the Zionist vision to someone willing to cast doubt on the Zionist project itself. I said that I saw the dispossession of the Palestinians in 1948 and its continuation since the 1967 occupation of remaining Palestinian lands as the cause for Palestinian resistance, and that I was committed to seeking justice for the Palestinian people as the only path to peace.

After the presentation, the pastor approached me and said that while he agreed with much of what I had said, he felt that in talking about the Israel-Palestine conflict, we had to be sensitive to the feelings of Jews. “I have to tell you that as a Christian I feel personally responsible for the evil of anti-Semitism and indeed for the Nazi Holocaust. I have been working for social justice for my entire career, including years spent working with an interfaith group of Christian, Muslim, and Jewish clergy. When the issue of the Presbyterian Church’s divestment from companies involved in the Israeli occupation was raised in 2004, I decided not to push the issue out of sensitivity for the rabbis in the group who were opposing divestment.”

My Jewish pedigree must be impeccable; I looked at him and, with what can only be described as chutzpah (Yiddish, from the Hebrew: supreme self-confidence; nerve, gall), replied, “Pastor, you need to do something else with your Christian guilt. The rabbis who will not engage with you about Israel and Zionism are not acting as friends of Israel. We Jews are in great peril, and Israel is rapidly descending into fascism. We need your help as a Christian leader and as a worker for justice. Holding back from engagement in this struggle is not what Jesus would want you to do.” That encounter was my “Road to Damascus” moment, and the time when I found my voice to speak to the core issue in the discussion about Israel and Palestine.

Parallel crises, parallel opportunities

The crisis for Jews in confronting our crimes toward the Palestinians interlocks with a crisis for Christians still struggling with the horror of Christian sins against Jews. Catholic theologian Gregory Baum has written about the church’s effort to reconcile with the Jewish people. The problem, states Baum, is that “if the Church wants to clear itself of the anti-Jewish trends built into its teachings… it must examine the very center of its proclamation and reinterpret the meaning of the gospel for our times…. Auschwitz summons us to face up to the negative side of our religious and cultural heritage.”

Support for the State of Israel has been central to the Christian effort to atone for anti-Semitism. But the horrific consequences of our Jewish homeland project now pose a challenge to Christians committed to human rights. Ironically, political Zionism owes its success in part to the Nazi Holocaust, the same catastrophe that spurred a radical reevaluation of the foundations of Christianity. Historians have also noted the influence of a deeply rooted Zionism in Western Christianity in the support for what amounts to the illegal colonization of Palestine by the Zionist movement.

So there are two strains within Christianity: one conservative (Christian Zionism) and one liberal/progressive (interfaith reconciliation). Both support the concept and the reality of Jewish hegemony in Palestine. Both act powerfully to stifle criticism of Israel. This helps explain the extreme reluctance of most Christians to call Israel to account for its human rights abuses. We are presented with a tragic irony: Christians, attempting to atone for the crimes committed against the Jews, are by this very fact blocked from confronting the crimes committed by the Jews.

Where does this leave Christians, committed to working for justice and equality at home and abroad? Where does this leave Jews who find themselves torn between their commitment to religious and racial equality and their loyalty and attachment to the State of Israel? And what must we do as a Jewish community as we become increasingly aware of the human rights catastrophe we have created in our quest for freedom and dignity? What is the future we want to create for ourselves?

This parallel crisis presents challenges and opportunities for both faith communities. Christians must indeed, as Baum states, re-interpret the meaning of the gospel for our times, but today this means standing up for justice for Palestine, even when this creates tension and division within the churches and for many an agonizing disruption in Christian-Jewish relations. And Jews have a chance to redo the crisis of having lost the Temple and Jerusalem in the first century when in self-defense we retreated into a brittle exceptionalism and ultimately a misguided quest for a return to ethnic nationalism that has resulted in our embrace, in theologian Walter Wink’s terms, of the “myth of redemptive violence.”

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The problem, as I pointed out in my 2011 blog post about Peter Beinart and his brand of “progressive Zionism,” is not the occupation, nor is it the religiously-based racism of fundamentalist Jewish settler-colonists; the problem is a state founded on an ethnic nationalist ideology. “The late and deeply mourned Tony Judt,” I wrote then, “got it exactly right in his New York Review of Books piece back in 2003:

The problem with Israel [is that]…it has imported a characteristically late-nineteenth-century separatist project into a world that has moved on, a world of individual rights, open frontiers, and international law. The very idea of a ‘Jewish state’ — a state in which Jews and the Jewish religion have exclusive privileges from which non-Jewish citizens are forever excluded — is rooted in another time and place.’

When the history of this time is written, church leaders will be held accountable for their actions, as they are now with respect to black liberation in this country and in South Africa. Some day, when we look back on this period in our history, we Jews will be in deep mourning. We will be on our knees in contrition for what we have done in the name of our own survival and our own redemption. We must honor the memory of the Jewish community of Europe that perished by committing ourselves to “never again” for all peoples. If we are to be true to our prophetic tradition and our demonstrated commitment as a community to human rights, we must come to the realization — and soon — that today, it is the Palestinian story that is our story.

This post first appeared on Patheos Topics, a site dedicated to conversations about faith.

Mark Braverman

Mark Braverman serves on the Advisory Board of Friends of Sabeel North America and is National Program Director for Kairos USA. He is the author of A Wall in Jerusalem: Hope, Healing, and the Struggle for Justice in Israel and Palestine, Jericho Books, 2013.

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39 Responses

  1. W.Jones on July 10, 2015, 1:53 pm

    “Pastor, you need to do something else with your Christian guilt. The rabbis who will not engage with you about Israel and Zionism are not acting as friends of Israel. We Jews are in great peril, and Israel is rapidly descending into fascism. We need your help as a Christian leader and as a worker for justice. Holding back from engagement in this struggle is not what Jesus would want you to do.” That encounter was my “Road to Damascus” moment, and the time when I found my voice to speak to the core issue in the discussion about Israel and Palestine.

    It’s a neat story.

  2. Mooser on July 10, 2015, 2:02 pm

    “Reformation”? Sure, ‘schism’ is such an ugly word.

  3. ivri on July 10, 2015, 5:48 pm

    You have here the two usual flawed argumentations that simply people are not buying and not going to buy.
    Firstly, there is no chance that the S. African case will be seen as a proper analogy to this one. It is different in just about any aspect of it and just keep repeating that (because S. Africa is seems a useful model for some in terms of BDS of Israel) is not going to change that. Apples and oranges.
    Then, the description of what happened in Gaza will always be set in people`s minds against the thousands of missiles from tunnels, located in populous areas, and continuous shelling by mortars of Israeli civilians around Gaza. People have seen that too. But perhaps even more importantly is the continual violence that emanate from the Mid-East, which necessarily places the conflict here in people`s minds in a broader context – one that determines how people interpret it. There is no escape from that anymore, that is no chance to have it considered in isolation (which is indeed sensible).

    • Mooser on July 10, 2015, 5:57 pm

      “Irvi” you are right, I am wrong. Vaudeville isn’t dead, and you are always ready to give the rubes the old song-and-dance.

    • on July 10, 2015, 7:26 pm

      “..thousands of missiles from tunnels, located in populous areas, and continuous shelling by mortars of Israeli civilians around Gaza. ”

      I can never understand how you guys can believe this stuff given the complete and total lack of a single Israeli fatality from these sources in all of 2014 — until after Israel began assaulting Gaza (and even then only one Israeli Jew who as not a soldier was killed).

      Can you explain to me how thousands of missiles and mortars can rain down on an area and yet hit nobody?

    • RoHa on July 11, 2015, 12:07 am

      Aren’t you supposed to call them “Terror Tunnels”?

      (And is there a single recorded case of a missile being launched from one?)

    • rosross on July 11, 2015, 10:25 am

      ivri, apartheid is apartheid. Both Nelson Mandela, when alive, and Bishop Desmond Tutu, before and still identified Israel as an apartheid State akin to South Africa. The Israeli bigotry is sourced in religious elitism and the South African was racial elitism but bigotry is bigotry and racism is racism and Human Rights laws and the UN make no distinction.

      As to the Palestinians imprisoned in the Gaza concentration camp, firing primitive rockets at settlers on the land and in the homes from which they were driven, after the Israeli military has killed, bombed or attacked them again, the world at large sees not poor Israel, but a brutalised and subjugated people fighting against their occupier.

      Israel is the occupier and Palestinians are the occupied. If you want an analogy for the Palestinians in the Gaza prison, try the Warsaw Ghetto where, like the Jews fighting their German occupiers bent on murdering them, the Palestinians are fighting their Israeli occupiers bent on murdering them.

      They would not be firing rockets if you did not have them imprisoned. There would be no need to fight against an occupier if Israel ended the occupation.

      Israel coloniser and in the wrong. Israel occupier and in the wrong. Israel apartheid State and in the wrong. Wrong, wrong, wrong for Israel and right, right, right for the Palestinians.

      Justice will be done and the evil of Israel’s occupation, colonisation and apartheid will end.

      • bintbiba on July 11, 2015, 11:23 am

        @rosross ,
        “……They would not be firing rockets if you did not have them imprisoned. There would be no need to fight against an occupier if Israel ended the occupation.

        Israel coloniser and in the wrong. Israel occupier and in the wrong. Israel apartheid State and in the wrong. Wrong, wrong, wrong for Israel and right, right, right for the Palestinians.”

        – See more at: http://mondoweiss.net/2015/07/time-jewish-reformation#comments

        Many thanks for your comment , rosross…

        Could anything be simpler ?
        A child of 10 would understand that simple , plain ,glaring Truth !

  4. JLewisDickerson on July 10, 2015, 7:19 pm
  5. JLewisDickerson on July 10, 2015, 7:23 pm

    RE: When the history of this time is written, church leaders will be held accountable for their actions, as they are now with respect to black liberation in this country and in South Africa” ~ Mark Braverman

    MY COMMENT: Hopefully, they will be held accountable for much more!

    SEE: “Christian Dogma Should be Questioned”, by André Vltchek, Counterpunch.org, 19 December 2014

    [EXCERPTS] This year as in every other year, Christianity and fundamentalist capitalism, two great allies, are joining their forces to extract billions of dollars, all over the world, mainly from the poor.

    As money flies towards the coffers of the church and into corporate accounts, over-sugary, kitschy Christmas carols and gospels are soaring out from the audio systems of department stores and malls all over the Empire and in almost all of its colonies (Saudi Arabia being an exception).

    ‘White Christmas’ is re-enacted and faked in the steaming-hot tropical ‘client states’, into where Christianity with all its nomenclature was forcefully injected decades and centuries ago. . .

    . . . Dr. Carl Gustav Jung, a giant in psychology and psychotherapy, declared in 1942:

    “The Christian Church should put ashes on her head and rend her garments on account of the guilt of her children. The shadow of their guilt has fallen on her as much as upon Europe, the mother of monsters.”

    But was Jung only referring to the horrors of WWII? Definitely not! He viewed Christian dogma and especially its practices, as racist, intolerant, dictatorial and imperialist, and his conclusion and suggestion for treatment was clear:

    “We are therefore forced to go back to pre-Christian and non-Christian conceptions and to conclude that Western man does not possess the monopoly of human wisdom and that the white race is not a species of ‘Homo sapiens’ specially favored by God…”

    But is the world really moving to embrace what Jung used to call pre-Christian and non-Christian conceptions?

    The Empire itself is constructed on Christian dogmas, symbolism and practices. All of its leaders are Christians, almost all – Protestant. Every time they drag the world into war, their mouths are full of religious rhetoric and ‘mysticism’. We are not supposed to question the logic of bombing some poor countries, into the ground. We are not supposed to question the morality of the societies that are abandoning the fate of people to private and voluntary charities, instead of giving rights to all citizens. We are supposed to ‘believe’, to ‘trust’! And if we can’t believe in such idiocy, then at least we are forced to be scared.

    The dogmas of Christianity, of Western imperialism, capitalism, together with their brainwashing propaganda and ‘education’, have created one powerful entity. It fully controls the planet, allows no intellectual dissent, and destroys everything that dares to stand on its way.

    By now, our minds are fully ‘colonized’, our morality twisted, our logic corrupted.

    Only those who are by some ‘miracle’ spared formal education (read: propaganda) can see clearly.

    Christian crusades and colonialist expeditions did not end with the military terror, with rapes, plunder and physical enslavement of the planet. They have been continuing with spreading the most complete and complex net of indoctrination, aiming at ending intellectual diversity. . .

    ENTIRE COMMENTARY – http://www.counterpunch.org/2014/12/19/christian-dogma-should-be-questioned/

    • JLewisDickerson on July 10, 2015, 7:24 pm

      P.S. ALSO SEE: “Genocides, Not Wars”, by Andre Vltchek, Counterpunch.org 23 January 2015

      [EXCERPT] . . . But it is not just children and women the Empire kills: it kills everything that stands in its way.

      A few months ago I was almost killed by a unbalanced preacher in Surabaya, Indonesia. He said that he would, and he tried to liquidate me. These dudes are particularly malicious, as they or their ancestors, had already betrayed China after the revolution, and then they betrayed again, this time Indonesia, during and after the 1965 massacres. They have been serving foreign interests, they have been brainwashing people, and now many of them are going back to China, obeying orders from their foreign handlers to implant the ‘prosperity gospel’ and all sort of deranged Protestant crap.

      Killing with bombs is not the only way that the Empire destroys entire countries. It also kills through religion, propaganda and ideology.

      Its Pentecostal and Protestant implants have already caused great damage all over Africa, in Asia and all over Latin America, spreading corruption, ignorance and gloom. Only the strongest countries like Vietnam, China and Eritrea have stood firm and defined those religious inserts as weapons of imperialism and fundamentalist capitalism.

      Entire nations have been ruined by the anti-Communist and anti-socialist propaganda, by dark nihilism and commercialism, by pop culture and by the manufactured ‘opposition movements’, those that are serving directly or indirectly the interests of the Empire. . .

      ENTIRE COMMENTARY – http://www.counterpunch.org/2015/01/23/genocides-not-wars/

      • W.Jones on July 12, 2015, 10:56 am

        This however doesn’t take into account the inherent liberatory and liberating power of Christianity. For example, the slave masters taught Christianity to their slaves, but with songs like Go Down Moses, the now-Christian slaves were able to keep a personal sense of dignity and human identity deep inside them even when their dignity was being abused and they were treated like animals.

        In more modern times, Christianity led to the Liberation Theology movements in Latin America, South Africa, and now Palestine.

      • Mooser on July 12, 2015, 6:42 pm

        “This however doesn’t take into account the inherent liberatory and liberating power of Christianity. For example, the slave masters taught Christianity to their slaves, but with songs like Go Down Moses, the now-Christian slaves were able to keep a personal sense of dignity and human identity deep inside them even when their dignity was being abused and they were treated like animals.”

        I didn’t see that.

  6. JLewisDickerson on July 10, 2015, 7:31 pm

    RE: After the presentation, the pastor approached me and said that while he agreed with much of what I had said, he felt that in talking about the Israel-Palestine conflict, we had to be sensitive to the feelings of Jews. “I have to tell you that as a Christian I feel personally responsible for the evil of anti-Semitism and indeed for the Nazi Holocaust… When the issue of the Presbyterian Church’s divestment from companies involved in the Israeli occupation was raised in 2004, I decided not to push the issue out of sensitivity for the rabbis in the group who were opposing divestment.” ~ Braverman

    SEE: “Israeli diplomat in Berlin: Maintaining German guilt about Holocaust helps Israel” | By Nir Gontarz | Haaretz.com | Jun. 25, 2015

    A spokeswoman for the Israeli embassy in Berlin recently told Israeli journalists it was in the country’s interest to maintain German guilt about the Holocaust, and that it isn’t seeking full normalization of relations between the governments.

    Embassy spokeswoman Adi Farjon made the comments in a closed briefing session with journalists at the embassy.

    “We were all in shock,” said a female journalist present at the briefing. “The spokeswoman clearly said it was an Israeli interest to maintain German guilt feelings. She even said that without them, we’d be just another country as far as they’re concerned.”

    Others present at the event confirmed the journalist’s account.

    Some added that the Israeli ambassador himself, Yakov Hadas-Handelsman, was present for some of the briefing, as were other embassy workers who don’t speak Hebrew. Another journalist commented, “It was so awkward. We couldn’t believe our ears. We’re sitting there eating peanuts, and behind the spokeswoman there are two German women sitting there who don’t understand a word of Hebrew – and the embassy staff is telling us they’re working to preserve the German guilt feelings and that Israel has no interest in normalization of relations between the two countries.”

    “I don’t remember saying that,” Farjon told Haaretz in response. “I can’t vouch for any particular quote, she added. “It was an off-the-record conversation, a briefing talk. The way I speak with Israeli journalists is a little different. These things aren’t intended to get out. I can’t reveal the principles I work by. For example, I don’t say who I go to in order to get good stories out here, or who I pay for things like that.” . . .

    ENTIRE ARTICLE – http://www.haaretz.com/news/diplomacy-defense/.premium-1.662962

  7. JWalters on July 10, 2015, 8:14 pm

    Thanks to Mark Braverman for sorting out the various threads of intentions at play here. This can help ecumenicals and others navigate these factors in their moral journey on this issue.

    I’d like to add a point here from Mondoweiss commenter Hostage, who recently said,

    “Anti-Zionism is still a valid Jewish religious or secular fraternal creed that used to be endorsed by the majority of Secular and Reform Jews in this country”
    http://mondoweiss.net/2015/07/california-authorities-criticism/

    He then quotes from “Reform Judaism: The Pittsburgh Platform” (November 1885)

    “We recognize, in the modern era of universal culture of heart and intellect, the approaching of the realization of Israel’s great Messianic hope for the establishment of the kingdom of truth, justice, and peace among all men. We consider ourselves no longer a nation, but a religious community, and therefore expect neither a return to Palestine, nor a sacrificial worship under the sons of Aaron, nor the restoration of any of the laws concerning the Jewish state.”

    So the Jewish Reformation started alongside Zionism. This is a powerful fact. It DESTROYS the Zionist claim that Zionists speak for all Jews. That claim is empty, brazen arrogance. Where does that arrogance come from? For some it comes from a belief in their religious supremacy. For some it comes from their desire for profits, notably war profits.
    http://warprofiteerstory.blogspot.com

    Religious bigots and war profiteers of any religion are not due the same patience and consideration as sincere spiritual seekers.

  8. Shingo on July 10, 2015, 10:24 pm

    An outstanding and concise essay.

    It’s amazing how Jews like this writer and Judt are so erudite and devastating in their arguments against Zionism.

  9. Bornajoo on July 11, 2015, 5:12 am

    “An outstanding and concise essay.

    It’s amazing how Jews like this writer and Judt are so erudite and devastating in their arguments against Zionism.”

    ditto!

    Many thanks Mark Braverman.

    • Lillian Rosengarten on July 11, 2015, 12:53 pm

      Mark, a powerful essay and clear message that the church must free itself from it’s attachment to nationalism and imperialism in order to take a strong stand against present day apartheid in Israel . The church will repeat it’s silence in the face of Nazism , if it does not break its silence against apartheid and the crimes committed against Palestinians , an ongoing catastrophe for both Israel and Palestine.
      Wish you could get this into the NY Times. Important piece!

  10. rosross on July 11, 2015, 9:49 am

    This is an excellent piece and fits with the sense many have about Israel and have had for some time, at least those who have followed its path, that Israel and Zionism give Jews and Judaism a bad name.

    One could almost believe that unconsciously if not consciously, the worst of Zionism and Israel are ‘designed’ to create resentment of Jews so that the Zionist dream of having all Jews fleeing to Israel and Occupied Palestine will happen. What on earth the Israelis think they could or would do to the nearly six million Palestinians they hold under military occupation, does not bear thinking about.

    But the end result for Israel, Zionism, Jews and Judaism is a disaster if Israel is not forced to its senses, assuming it still has some left.

  11. David Doppler on July 11, 2015, 10:24 am

    There’s another aspect to “Reformation,” the situation in Israel, and how America deals with it: the separation of church and state. Christianity evolved from its Jewish splinter sect status in the old Roman Empire, to become the official religion of that empire under Constantine, and the impact on both institutions was profound. You can tour the Vatican today and the impression has little to do with Christian values, and everything to do with gold-plated (or solid gold) works of art – priceless art from history’s masters. Not far away there are the ruins of the Temple of Vesta, which kept the “eternal flame” of the Roman hearth burning for a thousand years, tended by the Vestal Virgins, who were unceremoniously dumped by the new State religion. The hierarchy of the Roman Catholic Church (let’s see what did Jesus say about hierarchy?) is modeled on that empire, with absolute power in the top, a “Senate” of cardinals, to choose successors, and virtually no built-in accountability. Power corrupts, and Martin Luther demanded change, away from that corruption, and only after that and other Protestant schisms were reality, could the Church bring itself to acknowledge the need for Reformation, which, without built-in accountability, has repeatedly failed to root out the most appalling corruption imaginable, until its Priests are being arrested for pedophilia and its bishops and cardinals found complicit through cover-up, and re-assignment.

    In Israel, Orthodoxy is in power. There is no signed constitution, and the Chief Rabbis control various aspects of Civil Law, the implication being they are happy to delegate political power to the elected government, so long as it is understood within the family that power flows downhill from the Rabbinate, who get it from G-d. Again, power corrupts, and absolute power that one believes flows divinely down from the Heaven onto the individual leads to – well, there are all those stories of King David in power to illustrate the point, as well as the ultimate fate of the First and Second Kingdoms.

    Meanwhile, the modern republic, exemplified by the USA, builds that separation into its constitution, while providing other checks to all manner of power, setting seats of power against themselves, so that the inevitable corruption becomes an opportunity for others to root it out.

    So, by all means, American Jews can ponder the Reformation, their Reform and Conservative Jewish institutions, which adapt the ancient Jewish beliefs and traditions to life in a modern state, and contemplate whether and when it becomes necessary to separate formally from an institution that has become the state religion of an occupying power, where the inevitable corruption flowing from that occupation and from that identity of state with religion make continued support and obeisance, from the perspective of life in America, intolerable, on a moral basis.

    I recall a video here some years ago, of a settler assuring Palestinians whose land he was taking over from them for his own farming, with all the certainty of the true believer glowing from his face, that their land was his land, and, once the Messiah came, they could be his servants, if they chose to avoid certain death. And of another settler coveting a home and estate within the valley below his settlement, dreaming of the day he would take it away from its owner.

    Without accountability, the outcome is certain.

    • Mooser on July 11, 2015, 1:23 pm

      “In Israel, Orthodoxy is in power. There is no signed constitution, and the Chief Rabbis control various aspects of Civil Law, the implication being they are happy to delegate political power to the elected government, so long as it is understood within the family that power flows downhill from the Rabbinate, who get it from G-d”

      Those poor Orthodox schlimazels! It’s like watching a blind man walk over a cliff! Everybody is setting up the Orthodox to take the hit.
      It’s a terrible feeling, tribal unity pitted against the urge to say “Hey, I’m Reform, it’s not my responsibility”. I don’t know how I will work it out.

      • Steve Grover on July 12, 2015, 2:07 pm

        Geez,
        […]

      • annie on July 12, 2015, 2:44 pm

        steve, when a moderator trashes your comment please don’t just repost it, we’re backed up on comments and i have better things to do than retrash yours.

      • just on July 12, 2015, 2:51 pm

        lololol!

        (the equivalent of stamping one’s foot aka throwing a wittle tantrum)

  12. just on July 11, 2015, 1:22 pm

    Thanks for this important and revealing essay, Mark.

    I really appreciated this:

    “We are presented with a tragic irony: Christians, attempting to atone for the crimes committed against the Jews, are by this very fact blocked from confronting the crimes committed by the Jews.”

    That’s an intentional blocking, isn’t it? You really can’t atone for crimes by committing or being in complicit in other crimes. One would think that they ought to know better.

  13. ritzl on July 11, 2015, 5:58 pm

    Why the question mark [in the title AND in the thought]?

    • W.Jones on July 12, 2015, 11:03 am

      Marc likes to propose things in his style of writing. He has an open, inquisitive style with thought provoking questions.

      Anyway, I don’t know that a Reformation of Judaism would be needed or even correct. There are Orthodox Jews whose theology doesn’t demand the current Israeli political system.

      Consider Orthodox Jewish theologian Daniel Boyarin in relation to sacred tradition, the real scriptural basis for the Christian view of the Messiah, Orthodox Judaism, and the Israeli system and nationalism.

      • Mooser on July 12, 2015, 6:49 pm

        “There are Orthodox Jews whose theology doesn’t demand the current Israeli political system.”

        That is true. You know, I always knew there was a rough division along the lines roughly called Orthodox-Conservative-Reform, but I’m sure there are many more divisions, sects or denominations than I know about.
        I wonder if there’s a chart, or a graph, showing the denominations and the numbers.

      • ritzl on July 13, 2015, 2:37 pm

        Understood, W.Jones, but to me the phrasing in question form belies the obviousness of the answer. At least it’s obvious to me, but it has been written about enough on MW over the past few years to be a minor site theme.

        The reason I point it out is because this endless posing of questions to describe/suggest overtly and broadly and identifiably moving away from the lock-step status quo of “You have to be Zionist to be Jewish!” orthodoxy is a tepid way to approach the need/subject, style or not. It’s way past a question.

        The question form suggests that the writer is almost asking permission to suggest a solution. But again, that is probably just me.

      • Mooser on July 13, 2015, 2:52 pm

        It seems to me that starting, and developing, a non-Zionist denomination of Judaism is the simplest and most practical plan.
        Tzedek Chicago , led by able and dynamic Brant Rosen, and others experienced in the work seem like a good start in this direction.

      • RoHa on July 13, 2015, 8:24 pm

        “It seems to me that starting, and developing, a non-Zionist denomination of Judaism is the simplest and most practical plan.”

        I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again.

        You do it.

        (I’d do it myself, but I don’t know enough about Judaism to fake it. Pity. There’s probably money in it.)

      • ritzl on July 14, 2015, 4:08 am

        Agree Mooser. Rosen and Tzedek are stepping outside of and away from the wagon circle. That’s very brave. There’s no turning back.

        A while back Phil published a conversation with a Jewish guy from London who was agonizing about stepping outside the Zionist orthodoxy because if he did he would be alienated, alone, and “community”-less. Tzedek, as a group, must be in a similar situation. RoHa kinda touched on this above, but I wonder if there’s a role for non-Jews to play in their struggle, similar to the acceptance role that JVP plays with the Protestant Churches.

        I understand from your comments over the years that that is probably a complicated and thorny issue from the Jewish side, but it seems to me that the very worst place Rosen and Tzedek could find themselves is alone in no-man’s land.

        And I second RoHa’s comment. A million Mooser (talknic, Hostage, Bornajoo, Kris, Cigar God, Phil, Adam…; I shouldn’t do that because I know I left many out) clones would really make a durable difference.

        Appreciate you all very much.

      • Mooser on July 18, 2015, 11:26 am

        ” but it seems to me that the very worst place Rosen and Tzedek could find themselves is alone in no-man’s land.”

        “Ritzl” the Jewish religion is decentralized which is a nice way of saying that it is very sectarian. Every denomination and sect is already out in its own no-man’s land. There is no religious hierarchy all Jewish religious institutions must honor. Although I expect to see Tzedek proscribed by all the usual Rabbinical grandees.
        That’s probably one of the reasons Zionism was able to co-opt the religion so well.

  14. yourstruly on July 13, 2015, 1:12 am

    Just as “Christians attempting to atone for crimes committed against Jews are, by this very fact, blocked from confronting crimes committed by Jews”, so too, Jews who accept Zionists’ claim that they speak and act on behalf of all Jews are blocked from confronting crimes perpetrated by Zionists upon the Palestinian people. Practically speaking the question isn’t whether it’s time for a Jewish reformation, it’s how to remove said blockage, thereby opening the way for Jews to confront Jewish crimes. In this effort, educating Jews as to the crimes that Israeli Jews and their U.S. supporters (both Jewish and Christian) are carrying out against Palestinians, while vital, by itself may not be enough. Jews also must be made aware of the consequences of their continued support of the Israeli occupation of Palestine; specifically, the flareup (ie. blowback) of antisemitism now afflicting Europe. That’s because whether or not antisemitism in Europe deepens and spreads (including to the U.S.) may very well depend upon how effective and intense Jewish opposition to Jewish Israeli crimes. Currently, while Jewish opposition to Israel is growing, it’s hasn’t seriously dented the widespread acceptance in America that Zionist Israel speaks for all Jews. Unfortunately the danger to Jews posed by Israel’s crimes against the Palestinian (& other) people is far greater than what’s being acknowledged. The reason the full extent of this threat isn’t getting out is that Israel and its supporters know that if the U.S. public (Jews especially) ever learn the truth – that it’s Israel’s U.S.-backed actions, rather than Arab/Islamic responses to those actions) that drive the region’s cycles of violence – then watch-out, U.S. politicians and other so-called leaders.

    Yet to the extent that Jews are front & center in the movement to reshape U.S. policy vis-a-vis Israel/Palestine, a catastrophe can be averted. Otherwise, unfortunately, there’s that horrific precedent to think about.

  15. michelle on July 13, 2015, 11:41 am

    .
    one can never truly atone for ones sins
    .
    if one truly repents ones sins
    one must turn away from sin and sin no more
    .
    G-d Bless
    .

    • Mooser on July 18, 2015, 11:33 am

      “one must turn away from sin and sin no more”

      That scriptural prescription always makes me think of the day old Dr. Heffenbottom, the geometry professor, retired.

      • michelle on July 24, 2015, 2:00 am

        .
        Hello Mooser
        a million plus one Blessings to you & all you care for
        m
        don’t be cadish explain yourself/your post
        or offer a clue/link
        .
        G-d Bless
        .

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