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Exile and the Prophetic

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“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.'”

Angela Y. Davis and Rasmeh Odeh in 2015. (Photo: Twitter/@incitenews)

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.”

Marc Ellis writes, “Seeing Trump’s Jerusalem Declaration as an end game, as if Trump’s Hanukkah gift came from out of the blue, is a mistake. When celebrated, it gives him too much credit. When lamented, it places too much blame on him. Jerusalem has been in stalemate since the formation of the state of Israel: West Jerusalem colonized by Israel since 1948; East Jerusalem colonized by Israel since 1967. Trump’s Hanukkah gift comes at the end of this colonization. It gives a green light to the final phase of Judaizing Jerusalem.”

Marc Ellis writes: Charlottesville and White nationalism have brought the issue of monuments commemorating the fallen to the forefront. Often remembrance is a form of denial. Jews are very present in the movement to oppose white supremacy and were involved in opposing white nationalism in Charlottesville. Yet, Jews have our own history to struggle with as well. Where and how the memory of our own suffering is portrayed is crucial to the Jewish future. It is hotly contested as well.

A shuttered Palestinian shop in Hebron closed down by the Israeli military that was vandalized with a Star of David, an ancient Jewish symbol adopted by the Israeli state as a national symbol. (Photo: Lauren Surface)

Marc Ellis writes, “Tisha B’Av is upon us, a fast day for Jews, commemorating the destruction of the ancient Temples in Jerusalem. With the accumulation of events of destruction in Jewish history, though, Tisha B’Av has become a time to mourn subsequent calamities that befell the Jewish people. Through most of our history, mourning occurred in a context where most Jews lived on the margins of power or suffered under it. Today Jewish mourning takes place within the context of Jewish empowerment. Like mourning, Jewish empowerment is complex and entangled. Still, one things is abundantly clear: Jewish power, enabled by our mourning on Tisha B’Av, is oppressing the Palestinian people.”

With Tisha B’Av upon us, Rabbi Brant Rosen has released his contemporary take on the Biblical Book of Lamentations – Lamentation for a New Diaspora. Marc Ellis writes, “Rabbi Rosen’s lamentation is poetic, strong and dark. Trauma is the global name of the game. The ravages of mass culture, industrialization, militarism and climate change have taken their toll. The New Diaspora, the community of refugees and exiles of every stripe who gather to protest the coming global catastrophe, are themselves scattered and without hope.”

Last week, the Mennonites passed a historic BDS resolution regarding the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. The thrust of the resolution focuses on adopting a “third way” in Israel-Palestine, meaning a dual solidarity with Palestinians and Jews. Marc Ellis writes, “The question must be faced: Do these BDS resolutions, as important as they are symbolically, actually, because of their limitations, enable the further conquest of Palestine? The interfaith ecumenical dialogue/deal has always been contextual. As times have changed the details of the dialogue/deal have changed as well. The dual solidarity with Jews and Palestinians seems to be the devil in the details. While moving forward, Christians want it both ways.”