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This high holiday season, expect few words about Palestinians, and even less concern

US Politics
on 22 Comments

This is part of Marc H. Ellis’s “Exile and the Prophetic” feature for Mondoweiss. To read the entire series visit the archive page.

First the good news. Tzedek Chicago, that upstart non-Zionist synagogue, headed by the renegade rabbi, Brant Rosen, is full for the High Holidays.  It’s just been announced that Naim Ateek, the renegade Palestinian Anglican priest and founder of Sabeel, the Palestinian liberation theology institute in Jerusalem, is hosting an upcoming witness trip to Palestine. The world of Jewish and Palestinian dissent continues to grow.

The bad news is that churches like the American Lutherans continue to play around the edges. They are now insisting – for decades now – that Israel stop its provocative actions in the West Bank.  The good Lutheran Bishop Eaton just doesn’t get it. She seems to be Middle East-challenged.

The Palestinian flag about to fly at the United Nations and the rumors that Mahmoud Abbas might declare Oslo null and void can be seen as good or an exercise in futility. But the warning delivered by Gershon Baskin, co-chairman of IPCRI, the Israel Palestine Creative Regional Initiatives,  is startling, pitiful really. His main point seems to be that Palestinians are too dependent on their occupied status to do much, if anything, to overcome – their occupied status. He does suggest yet another symbolic act to lay the groundwork for a Palestinian freedom that is more distant than ever. Whatever you think of his ideas, though, Baskin’s patronizing language is alarming. It seems Jews patronizing Palestinians has a long shelf-life.

All of this crosses the religious and political universe as the Jewish High Holidays are upon us. These holy days, culminating in Yom Kippur, the Day of Repentance, are as rote as ever for most Jews. What is uppermost on Jewish minds on the global scene is the now done-deal with Iran. The Jewish focus on Iran, of course, is on the security of Israel. During the holiday season expect few words about Palestinians and even less concern.

Tzedek Chicago is the exception of exceptions with the notable appearance of Max Blumenthal on, of all days, Yom Kippur. Gaza is still on Blumenthal’s mind as it should be [Blumenthal is author of The 51-Day War.] Tzedek Chicago wants to keep Jews focused on Palestine. Unfortunately, in the Jewish universe, Tzedek Chicago is small potatoes. Unless, somehow and soon, their views become the wave of the future.

In the Jewish tradition forgiveness cannot be asked for and accepted by God without a justice action plan. What is forgiveness without justice?

In years past, I called this forgiveness-justice combination, revolutionary forgiveness. If you like, call it revolutionary justice. Regardless of how it’s named, this is what Jews and Palestinians need now as a pathway to the future.

Marc H. Ellis
About Marc H. Ellis

Marc H. Ellis is Professor of History and Jewish Studies and Director of the Center for the Study of the Global Prophetic. His latest book is Finding Our Voice: Embodying the Prophetic and Other Misadventures.

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22 Responses

  1. Mooser
    Mooser
    September 12, 2015, 11:59 am

    “Unfortunately, in the Jewish universe, Tzedek Chicago is small potatoes. Unless, somehow and soon, their views become the wave of the future.”

    I’ve got a great idea! Why don’t we put on a Tribal Unity Banquet, to bring the different denominations and factions together? We could eat “ocean vegetables”!

    • Elisabeth
      Elisabeth
      September 12, 2015, 5:00 pm

      Sometimes you really make me laugh (as in your post about ‘Get-down-man’ and ‘Piltdown-man’ ) but in this case I just have no clue.
      Ocean vegetables + Chicago? I must be missing something from my side of the ocean…

      • Mooser
        Mooser
        September 12, 2015, 9:30 pm

        I’m sorry Elisabeth, I like Tzedek Chicago, and any mention of it in Mondo puts me in high spirits’

        Now, in the late 1800s, before they began to be depleted, America was blessed with huge beds of delicious oysters in the Chesapeake bay. Mmmmm! And, they made you ah..ummm..”healthy” (nudge-nudge, wink-wink) Now I ask you, why should something so good and so, ummm “healthful” be trefe? Well, if oysters became “ocean vegetables” they were kosher. And they did for a while.

      • Mooser
        Mooser
        September 12, 2015, 10:18 pm

        And that’s my point. It’s very hard to make generalizations or judgements about something which has been around for so long and exists in some form almost all over the world, but I think it would be fair to say that Judaism (and the Jews that come with it, free, included at no extra charge ) has proven very adaptable to differing times and circumstances. I rejoice in that aspect of it.

  2. ivri
    ivri
    September 12, 2015, 12:37 pm

    Mr Ellis, I am sure you accept that living in a “global village” is not just a cliché but a reality with clear repercussions. The reason just about anybody is not concerned about the Palestinians nowadays has a very, very simple explanation. They are part of the Mid-East and today there are in this region problems and risk that immensely dwarfs theirs – no amount of emotional outpouring can change this very basic fact (and it is so obvious and multi-faceted that I allow myself to skip details). They had the central podium for a long time and it is gone.
    In addition they are not just part of the Islamic Mid-East but also, if we recall the history of the conflict, a violent one (indeed, terror in the region has become a world issue when it was first applied against Israel – as prominently in the Munich Olympic, the airplanes hijacking and the second Intifada) and violent Muslim groups don`t garner anymore any sympathy in the US. Of course not so, for obvious reasons, in Christian quarters (and even beyond the fact that by and large they allied themselves with Israel – seen as an island of normalcy in an otherwise out of control region).
    I think these are the FACTS and it is not going change not this season and not in the next ones – if at all probably just get intensified.

    • pabelmont
      pabelmont
      September 12, 2015, 1:37 pm

      ivri — Terror was quite an issue when pre-Israeli-Jews used it against the Brits, against the UN mediators, and against the Palestinians. Israeli Hasbara likes to pretend that “terror” is only used against Israelis, not by them. It is, of course, still used by them, but at such a huge level, and in the name (most of it) of an existing government, that it is not called “terror” (by them) but “self-defense”.

      Another thing: the plight of the Palestinians is known (by those who care to know) to long predate the current struggles in the middle est among Muslims, even predating most of the USA’s predations, even predating the USA’s and UK’s overthrow of the democratic Mossadegh government of Iran (which, indirectly, brought upon Iran the revolutionary government now in power). YES! The USA’s fault, as is so much else. so it’s no use saying the ignoring of Palestine is a result of current troubles. No, it is a result of capitalist big-money-control-of-governments which protects Israel.

      • JLewisDickerson
        JLewisDickerson
        September 12, 2015, 7:59 pm

        RE: “[Terror] is, of course, still used by them [i/e., the Israelis], but at such a huge level, and in the name (most of it) of an existing government, that it is not called ‘terror’ (by them) but ‘Self-defense’.” ~ pabelmont

        VOLTAIRE: “All murderers are punished unless they kill in large numbers and to the sound of trumpets.”

  3. ritzl
    ritzl
    September 12, 2015, 5:17 pm

    Sounds like Rabbi Rosen and Tzedek Chicago are doing all the right things. Courageously so.

    I wish them all success. May they be a model for things to come inside (and outside!) the Jewish “community.”

  4. Steve Grover
    Steve Grover
    September 12, 2015, 6:00 pm

    I thought Rosen was a BDSer. Maybe he should read the tag on his Talit. His Talit is made in Israel by Zion Talis. Is the Shofar used at Tzedek Chicago made in Israel too? The BDS movement will crumble when the Tekiah Gadolah is sounded at “Tzedek” Chicago.

    https://tzedezchicago.files.wordpress.com/2015/06/brantrosen2.jpg

    • Mooser
      Mooser
      September 12, 2015, 9:20 pm

      It’s Saturday night, a Grover is apparently, getting well oiled.

  5. jon s
    jon s
    September 12, 2015, 6:06 pm

    Peter Beinart doesn’t think that there is a community at this point:

    http://peterbeinart.net/haaretz-the-american-jewish-divide-is-about-much-more-than-iran/

    • K Renner
      K Renner
      September 12, 2015, 6:30 pm

      Good. All the better considering it works against that image that Israel and the worst pro-Israel “advocates” try to push– that Jews are fundamentally interchangeable with Zionism and Israel, that Jews are monolithic in their support for Israel and most everything that state does regarding Lebanon and Palestine and the “Iran crisis”.

      Of course, the Jewish population is still shamefully monolithic and extremely morally hypocritical when it comes to Israel and Zionism, by a very large extent. But this sort of thing– the fracturing and discontent along political and other lines within the Jewish demographic is certainly a step in the right direction.

    • Mooser
      Mooser
      September 12, 2015, 10:28 pm

      “Orthodox Jews comprise only 10 percent of American Jewry. Add in the traditionalist Conservatives and you have perhaps 20 percent.” Beinart

      Gee, so that leaves 70% of those countable as Jews secular, atheist or Reform, huh? And no doubt, many, many people who are Jewish but simply not counted in this kind of thing, since they have no contact with organized Judaism.

  6. jon s
    jon s
    September 12, 2015, 6:10 pm

    Let’s hope for a really good year.
    Shana Tova to all!
    (Incidentally , it will be a Jewish “leap year”, with an additional month.)

    • Mooser
      Mooser
      September 12, 2015, 10:25 pm

      “(Incidentally , it will be a Jewish “leap year”, with an additional month.)”

      What, “Jon s”, worry? Naaah. It’s always a good year when you’ve got an escape ticket in your pocket. After all, some day you may not “feel at home”. So it’s time to go, leaving Palestine a shambles, and the Star-of-David right up there with the swastika.

  7. Mooser
    Mooser
    September 13, 2015, 1:06 pm

    MJ Rosenberg (Sept. 11 2015) in “The Nation:

    “The truth, however, is that 82 percent of American Jews belong to no Jewish organizations at all, meaning not only that there is no organization that speaks for them, but that no organization even knows exactly who they are.”

    (My italics, my bold) Oh, BTW in case I didn’t make it clear : “The truth, however, is that 82 percent of American Jews belong to no Jewish organizations at all, meaning not only that there is no organization that speaks for them, but that no organization even knows exactly who they are. “

  8. Kathleen
    Kathleen
    September 13, 2015, 9:52 pm

    Melissa Harris Perry did a segment this morning (Sunday) about where Senator Sanders will be spending the first day of the Jewish High Holiday’s at Liberty University. Find this one really interesting.

    Who knows Senator Sanders may talk about the idea of one’s faith actually manifesting in acts of justice. Legislation that benefits all etc.

  9. Mooser
    Mooser
    September 14, 2015, 2:04 pm

    Let’s see, per Rosenberg we take 18% (the remainder from 82% un-affiliated) of 6 million and get 1,080,000 Jews affiliated with organised Judaism. And we take 10% (per Beinart) and get 108,000.

    108,000 of the real thing! And 5,892,000 milling around outside the tent, hoping to get in.

    • Mooser
      Mooser
      September 15, 2015, 12:11 pm

      So that would be 250,000 to at most 300,00 in the world.

  10. hophmi
    hophmi
    September 15, 2015, 8:34 pm

    Yeah, Gershon Baskin is patronizing, but you, of course, aren’t. You must never actually read what you write here, with its patronizing tone of self-righteousness.

    Gershon Baskin actually does on the ground peace work. He accomplishes something. What have you done that is remotely in his league?

    • Mooser
      Mooser
      September 15, 2015, 11:13 pm

      I’m sorry, I didn’t mean to be self-righteous. No, I didn’t do those figures in my head, I used the Windows calculator app. Why are they so upsetting?

  11. eljay
    eljay
    September 16, 2015, 8:49 am

    … the warning delivered by Gershon Baskin, co-chairman of IPCRI, the Israel Palestine Creative Regional Initiatives, is startling, pitiful really. … He does suggest yet another symbolic act to lay the groundwork for a Palestinian freedom that is more distant than ever. …

    Mr. Baskin’s proposal is pure Zio-supremacism. It treats Israel – the oppressor, occupier and colonizer – as victim. It makes no mention of justice, accountability or equality. And it puts the onus on the Palestinians to pursue a “peace” that:
    – lets Israel keep most of what it has stolen;
    – absolves Israel of its obligations under international law (including RoR of refugees); and
    – absolves Israel of its past and on-going (war) crimes.

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