“Sometimes I am asked where would I begin if I were to write a Jewish Theology of Liberation today from scratch?” Marc Ellis writes. “A Jewish Theology of Liberation might begin with an addition to Emil Fackenheim’s 614th commandment or, more to the point, the positing of another commandment,” he answers, “after the Holocaust and after Israel – and what Israel has done and is doing to the Palestinian people. The 615th Commandment? ‘Thou Shalt Not Murder Those Who Resist Your Oppression.'”
Category Archives: Culture
A natural gas pipeline from the sea through Jordan is Israel’s latest effort to normalize relations with its Arab neighbors. But Palestinians resist. In Amman, Alice Rothchild visits an exhibit of remarkable friezes by Palestinian artist, Abdul Hay Mosallam. “They killed me and my killer denied me while turning cold in my grave,” are the words on the Gaza piece.
A plan for an alternative Passover seder which is a reaction to the Israeli occupation and the Jewish religious rites deployed in its support: Ira Glunts’s Seder lo b’seder: the seder that skips the traditional seder, and supports BDS.
Andrew Ross’ “Stone Men” is a sobering book in many ways. The subtitle tells the real story: just as Israel could not exist without the land of Palestine, so the country could not be built without the steady toil, skills, and dependability of Palestinian stonemasons.
What motivates the criticism of Israel by Jews in the diaspora? Bruce Robbins talks with Bonnie Honig, one of the most insightful and original political theorists of her generation, who argues by targeting the Jewish diaspora in order to manufacture uncritical solidarity, Israel created, paradoxically, a sense of obligation to criticize Israel.
Sara Burback travels from Washington DC to the West Bank city of Bethlehem to participate in the 2019 Palestine Marathon. Burback says it is a “special opportunity to run through Bethlehem and join runners from all over the world in defense of the basic human right to movement.”
In Shoshana’s latest installment, what she appreciates most about Ramallah on Thursday night (party night) is how committed her friends are to partying, with no hesitancy to dance, an appreciation of letting loose. Shoshana thinks it is a world away from the tension she often encounters in Jerusalem.
A new documentary called WitchHunt points out the narrow room for debate over alleged antisemitism in the British Labour Party. Anti-Zionist Jews are excluded as unrepresentative of British Jews. And why is it okay to talk about antisemitism and Zionism in Britain without asking a Palestinian what their direct experience of Zionism has looked and felt like?
“Even a thousand films on the Nakba would not suffice,” says Ahlam Muhtaseb, co-director with Andy Trimlett of a new film, “1948: Creation & Catastrophe,” which is based in part on interviews with survivors, many of them of advanced years. The film has been subject to protests by Israel supporters, and a screening in West Hollywood was scratched under pressure in December, now rescheduled for March. Stephen Shenfield interviews the co-directors.
Shoshana, an American in Palestine visits Jaffa and finds that it’s different from the movies, “I don’t like Jaffa. In my all-consuming Palestine obsession, I find it frustratingly Israeli. I hear so much Arabic but see no Palestinian flags. It feels generalized and deracinated.”
Marc Ellis writes that the rescinding by the Birmingham Civil Rights Institute of an award to Angela Davis raises issues about the Black-Jewish alliance and the ability of Jews to set parameters for African Americans to speak on Jewish questions, including Israel. There is a war over that question. The Jewish establishment sees Angela Davis as an enemy. Jews of Conscience see her as an ally.
Marc Ellis on the passing of Amos Oz: “Like Wiesel, Amos Oz was a witness to the destruction and reemergence of Jewish life in the formative events of the Holocaust and the birth of the state of Israel. What they also experienced but couldn’t fathom was the formative event of Palestinian freedom as a demand on Jewish history. In missing the next question of Jewish life, while trying to deflect and demean those who did, Oz’s liberal Zionist witness became tarnished and, like Wiesel’s Holocaust consciousness, fated.”
Shoshana Austerlitz boards a bus at the Arab station in East Jerusalem and heads to Ramallah where she is about to party hard with her new friend Murad, a Palestinian Muslim from outside Nazareth.
Which is more painful: to be forced to abandon your homeland, or to remain, watching strangers erase all traces of your culture and history? This dilemma forms the crux of Rabai al-Madhon’s Fractured Destinies, which Lesley Williams calls, “a lyrically rich portrait of contemporary Palestinian society”
Ben White’s consistently engrossing new book, “Cracks in the Wall: Beyond Apartheid in Palestine/Israel,” argues that “The end of Israel as a bipartisan issue of concern in US politics, along with the wider left’s alienation from and the far right’s embrace of Israel” will undermine Israel’s ability to maintain the status quo. But is he right? Joel Doerfler wonders if Israel can get along without its traditional allies.
Shoshana Austerlitz goes on a tour of Tel Aviv’s paramilitary museums honoring Israel’s pre-state militias: “I want to get in there. I want to know what it’s all about. I’m not looking to be wowed by the official narrative but I wanna put myself in the middle of it, to roll in it, to feel how my blood boils in response to it, to make myself a human test subject. Will the propaganda take?”
Micah Goodman’s book Catch-67: The Left, the Right, and the Legacy of the Six-Day War has been celebrated for its “pragmatism” and “realism” and topped the Israeli nonfiction best seller list for weeks while being read by Benjamin Netanyahu and many top officials involved in administering the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. But Joel Doerfler says, “the most striking thing about Goodman’s argument is the utterly conventional and largely unexamined set of historical and moral assumptions on which it is founded.”
From the author of “P is for Palestine,” comes Goldbarg Bashi’s next children’s book “Counting Up the Olive Tree: A Palestine Number Book,” due out in January 2019. Young readers learn to count with a band of Palestinian children who ditch their soccer game to save “the last olive tree” from a “woeful woodcutter.”
Marcello Di Cintio’s political-literary travelogue “Pay No Heed to the Rockets,” follows Palestine’s “brokers of grace,” writers and poets who reveal contemporary Palestinian life, in constant navigation of their own lives set against an occupation.
Ilene Cohen defines ‘Ziosplaining’ as “the efforts of Zionists of so-called moderate stripe, who are endlessly pained by reality, to explain to Palestinians (and the world) that they have no choice but to support the Israeli occupation of Palestine.” She says the latest effort in the genre is Yossi Klein Halevi’s Letters to My Palestinian Neighbor. “That neighbor, by the way, is the author’s imaginary neighbor—the only one possible for such an exercise, because few and far between would be the Palestinians who wouldn’t gag at this patronizing effort to have their situation ‘explained’ to them,” Cohen writes.
In an interview by Robert Cohen on his latest book, “Finding Our Voice,” Marc H. Ellis explains there is only one question for Jews today, after the Holocaust, the creation of Israel and the occupation of Palestine — What side are you on?
A Palestinian Boyhood, the new autobiography by Palestinian writer Reja-e Busailah, relates a remarkable story about overcoming the challenges of growing up blind in Palestine in the years up to and including the 1948 Nakba, which uprooted his family. Georgia Beeston: “Simply written, the book takes the reader through the author’s daily life, underlining the everyday challenges of the visually impaired.””
Reja-e Busailah’s memoir ‘In the Land of My Birth: A Palestinian Boyhood,’ is an unheralded masterpiece of the Nakba. A burgeoning scholar at 18, Busailah was forced out of Lydda with his family in 1948. This book’s poignant portraits of friends destroyed and traumatized by the Zionist militias tops any Israeli’s account of the Nakba.
Ronen Bergman’s book Rise and Kill First: The Secret History of Israel’s Targeted Assassinations tells that story of how from 1979 to 1983 very senior Israeli officials conducted a large-scale campaign of car-bombings that killed hundreds of Palestinians and Lebanese, most of them civilians. While the book has received the highest praise from reviewers, this secret operation has not been mentioned once. Remi Brulin writes this is a perfect illustration of the political discourse on “terrorism”: “The secret car-bombing operation Israeli officials conducted in Lebanon in the early 1980s represents a remarkable historical example of such ‘silences,’ and of the ‘rules’ that underlie the discourse on ‘terrorism’ and ensure that certain things simply ‘cannot be said,’ certain facts simply aren’t ever mentioned.”
Palestinian poet Mohammed al-Kurd talks with Mondoweiss