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.