Jews of Conscience

July 24, 2014

Though indigenous to the people Israel the prophetic like the covenant travels. The covenant cannot be equated with injustice Injustice practiced over a sustained period of time leaves the community without the covenant. Though the community claims the covenant hoping that the claim will protect the community from scrutiny the reality is the covenant travels to those on the margins.

Marc Ellis Judaism does not equal Israel

israel we know is a secular state and there are many Jews there and elsewhere. who do not see themselves as religious but like many Christians who do not attend services for whatever reasons, they have internalized something of importance.Occupation and Judaism are diametrically opposed. The Exodus is part of their DNA.

For these Jews the pursuit of justice and its absence are more important than belief in God. The Jesuit Henri de Lubac one of the Vatican ll prophets made a similar comment over 60 years ago. He said about Jesus,”to believe in you I must believe in love and justice. And it’s a thousand times better to believe in these things than to pronounce your name.” This of course was a riff on Jesus well known synoptic saying,””Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but only the one who does the will of my Father who is in heaven. (Matt.7:21)

The many Jews who have broken with “the royal consciousness”, the ethnocentric tribal Judaism, those who have embraced a prophetic consciousness have grown massively and are a cause of great hope. Like much of the civilized world they can no longer abide the continuing specter of Palestinians living under a totalitarian,all embracing and never ending humiliation. In a wired world the state lies of Israel are easily refuted. These Jews of conscience here and abroad have a continuous loop playing in their head—the war time shaved heads of their zeydas and bubbes, the horrific dehumanization of lost relatives. They are collectively saying, “Never again.” Case in point.

in New York City on Tuesday, members of Jewish Voice for Peace and Jews Say No! occupied the office of the Friends of the IDF. Shockingly this nonprofit group raises money in the United States to send to the Israeli military. That’s right. supporting the military wing of an occupying power..;.and getting a tax break for it.

These brave people read the names of the more than 600 Palestinians killed and demanded the group stop fundraising for the Israeli military. Nine people were arrested when they refused to leave the premises. Others protested outside the office.

REBECCA VILKOMERSON was the spokesperson, an apt representative of Jews of Conscience:

We are protesting against the war on Gaza, against this incredibly terrible assault on civilians, and protesting the fact that this organization right here is actually raising money for the Israeli Defense Forces, helping them, supporting the assault that they’re making on Gazan women, children and families. So we feel like it’s really important, especially as Jews, to make the statement that this is not in our name and that the Jewish community is not behind this assault in the United States and that they need to stop doing this immediately.

DOROTHY ZELLNE added her testimony

I’m a former civil rights worker. I worked with SNCC for five years in the black liberation movement in the United States. Most of us have been to Israel and the West Bank and Gaza, if not once, many times, and we have seen for ourselves what the conditions are there. And it is totally unbearable to know that this country dares to even say they represent us and they speak for us.


We are here to demand, as American Jews, that Friends of the IDF stop funding Israel’s massacre of Palestinians living in Gaza. Over the past two weeks, 621 Palestinians in Gaza have been killed. We are here nonviolently to do a civil disobedience. We mourn all who are lost, and we are reading the names of those who the Friends of the IDF have helped funded the IDF to kill.

MAIA ETTINGER .expressed these sentiments:

I was raised by two Holocaust survivors: my mother and my grandmother. And in their name, I’m here today to oppose the dehumanization of Palestinians, to oppose collective punishment. These were the things that they suffered and that they taught me to fight on behalf of everyone, not just on behalf of Jews.

15 minutes away

July 24, 2014

Wednesday July 23
663 dead
521 civilians
161 children

The great Hebrew Scripture scholar Walter Brueggemann in his classic work The Prophetic Imagination writes of the religion “of static triumphalism and the politics of oppression and exploitation. One of the The great gift of Judaism of course is the prophetic imagination, the holy cry against what he calls the “royal consciousness”.

Under Solomon Israel had become wealthy. The explosion of consumer goods had satiated the people as Brueggemann says, “It is difficult to keep a revolution of freedom and justice under way when there is satiation.” The Solomonic achievement produced amnesia, the forgetting of the covenant and the mosaic thrust for freedom. In the book of Kings we see the energy of the people used to support the royal court and its needs. The economics of affluence creates the politics of oppression. Religion becomes static, God is subordinated to the purpose of the king. The great scholar George Mendenhall calls this period “the paganization of Israel.”

Now God safely resides in Jerusalem. Goodness and light are ours. The holy is owned by the king. There can be no cries against the royal consciousness. Those on the margin formerly brothers and sisters under the covenant, now have no voice. As one Jerusalemite told me, “Sometime the status quo is the best we can have.” It was of course a status quo which radically favoured him. He could not hear the cries of the oppressed. There was no chance of Newness breaking open his smug world of extraordinary privilege. The “economics of affluence” had replaced “the economics of equality”. The Mosaic moment of freedom from oppression had been totally obliterated.

Here the prophet is ignored. No criticism is tolerated under Solomon. Or in modern Israel. So powerful has the royal consciousness pervaded the people that it cannot hear. As Brueggemann says of Solomon,”he has traded a vision of freedom for the reality of security”. He has replaced covenanting with consuming. Today Solomon lays on the beach of Haifa unconcerned with those imprisoned in Gaza. The royal propaganda then (and the hasbara now) cares not a whit for the questions of justice The prophetic apparently had died. Imperial economics had blocked out the cries of the denied ones.

Brueggemann of course was writing largely about North American Christianity but it is obvious the same dynamic is operative in modern Israel where the insularity of power and smugness has resulted in “the annulment of the neighbour.” It seemingly cannot hear the anguish and the grief of everyday life 15 minutes from their doorstep.

The great journalist Amira Hass a few years back wrote about this callous indifference

Could it be that you do not know what is happening 15 minutes from your faculties and offices? Is it plausible that you support the system in which Hebrew soldiers, at checkpoints in the heart of the West Bank, are letting tens of thousands of people wait everyday for hours upon hours under the blazing sun, while selecting: residents of Nablus and Tul Karm are not allowed through, 35-year-olds and under – yallah, back to Jenin, residents of the Salem village are not even allowed to be here, a sick woman who skipped the line must learn a lesson and will be purposefully detained for hours. Machsom Watch’s site is available for all; in it are countless such testimonies and worse, a day by day routine. But it cannot be that those who are appalled over every swastika painted on a Jewish grave in France and over every anti-Semitic headline in a Spanish local newspaper will not know how to reach this information, and will not be appalled and outraged.

It wasn’t that long ago that another people swore they didn’t know what was happening.

But as we’ll see as in Israel of old, the prophetic has not died.Many jews of conscience can no longer stand justifying Pharaoh. .They have had enough of ethnic cleansing, occupation and state racism.they know the road to redemption, to authentic Jwish values is through the pain,suffering and humiliation of another people,”15 minutes away.”

The descent of Israel

July 22, 2014

I say why are our memories so short Have our Jewish sisters and brothers forgotten their humiliation? Have they forgotten the collective punishment?, the home demolitions in their own history so soon? Have they turned their backs on their profound and noble religious traditions/?Have they forgotten that God cares deeply about the downtrodden?
rc Ellis, Jewish American theologian

But the fighting is only one aspect of the conflict which is in its essence a political one. And politically we are the aggressors and they defend themselves. Militarily, it is we who are on the defensive who have the upper hand but in the political sphere they are superior. The land, the villages, the mountains, the roads are in their hands. The country is theirs, because they inhabit it, whereas we want to come here and settle down,
David Ben Gurion June 7 1938

Monday morning in Gaza. Between Saturday and Sunday night 100 killed. They include 72 residents of Shejaylya one of the poorest and most densely populated neighbourhoods. Tuesday morn:
571 dead
406 civilians
129 children
and shockingly the Al Aqsa hospital was bombed

One wonders how a superpower like the USA can watch such barbarism unfold on a daily basis and continue to pay for it to the tune of $3 billion a year.

On one hand one can admire the bold hasbara of the Israeli state in selling war and dispossession in such a clever way. Goebbels had a way with with words which obfuscated the truth. The country has long been an army with a flag, a military regime governed by a war cabinet. Their leaders have been generals and former terrorists like Begin and Shamir. They have got much mileage out of their simplistic bromides as “the only democracy in the middle east, a real howler for anybody who has studied their ‘democracy.”

The propaganda machine as Ilan Pappe says, “attempts again and again to narrate its policies as out of context and turns the pretext it found for every new wave of destruction into the main justification for another spree of indiscriminate slaughter in the killing fields of Palestine.”

And the lies are not simply trotted out in Israel. American and Canadian Jewish institutions leap into the breach in every medium possible to neutralize any criticism. Armed with talking points (”Israel has a right to defend itself, being the most egregious) these neo-tribalists act as living megaphones for Israel. All have little or no experience of the suffering of the Other. There is never any context. There is no historical memory, no need to go any deeper. It is intellectual slovenliness.

The brave Amira Hass, the Israeli reporter who lives in Ramallah wrote Monday in Haaretz:

Those who turned Gaza into an internment and punishment camp for 1.8 million human beings should not be surprised that they tunnel underneath the earth. Those who sow strangling, siege and isolation reap rocket fire. Those who have, for 47 years, indiscriminately crossed the Green Line, expropriating land and constantly harming civilians in raids, shootings and settlements – what right do they have to roll their eyes and speak of Palestinian terror against civilians?

One wonders if these mannequins who buy the israeli drumbeat would have condemned the Jews of April 1943 who fought back with grenades against the Wehrmacht in the Warsaw ghetto. Did they have any right to defend their dignity as humans against a brutal occupier? How about the French resistance? And the ultimate question: Have you walked in these shoes. It’s the old gospel question: What is your location? Do you see the world through your comfort in Pharaoh’s court? Are your eyes those of the occupier or the occupied? Does blood and tribe trump solidarity with the oppressed?

As Jeff Halper,a contemporary Israeli hero ( has shown how his country has mastered and sold the art of penning up people and customizing advanced weaponry and surveillance. The killing apparatus or as Pappe calls it the “incremental genocide” is always followed by crocodile tears and an ascent to the moral high ground. Zionism always has desperately wanted to be seen as l’or goyim a light unto the nations. But you can only put lipstick on a pig for so long. In the age of the instant communication, cell phones, international solidarity tours, the truth has slowly seeped out and many of the truth tellers have been Israelis themselves, “Jews of conscience” as theologian Marc Ellis has called them.

Former speaker of the Knesset, Avraham Burg is another truth teller. According to him israel is “Holocaust obsessed, militaristic, xenophobic and, like Germany in the nineteen-thirties, vulnerable to an extremist minority,

This extreme minority as Max Blumenthal and others have pointed out continues to grow, Rann Bar-On an Israeli peace activist and Duke University mathematics lecturer, was part of a peace demo in Haifa.The israeli storm troopers with police looking on attacked the crowd of 300. His comments to Aaron Maté on Democracy Now follow

I believe that what Israel is doing in Gaza is a racist attack. It is not self-defense in any way. And it is a continuation of Israeli policy that has always discriminated against the Arab population. What happened to us at the protest is not new. This is something that is a trend that has been continuing for many years. There has been much incitement from the political class that has allowed even so-called moderate right-wingers to join cries saying, “Death to Arabs! Death to leftists!” and attacking activists and Arabs in the street.<br />

Max Blumenthal in his book Goliath has captured the deep racism in Israeli society. He told Maté:

So the violence that we’re seeing in Gaza is not just related to a particular military strategy; it’s also influenced by the ideology that has captured the hearts and minds of these young men who have learned to demonize the other and see Palestinians and antiwar and human rights elements as absolutely subhuman. It’s playing out unofficially through a vigilante campaign in Israel, but in Gaza what we’re witnessing is the official revenge campaign orchestrated by Netanyahu and the military.


The murder continues

July 21, 2014



Downsizing the number of Palestinians all over historic Palestine is still the Zionist vision. In Gaza, its implementation takes its most inhuman form.

Ilan Pappe, Israeli historian

Watching the unconscionable siege of Gaza, the pummeling of a civilian population,a penned up people, 1.7 million, hemmed in  on every side at the mercy of sophisticated missiles one wonders how long  the world can tolerate such a callous war crime. The tally Sunday night:

368 Palestinians killed, of whom 299 are civilians, Including 84 children and 43 women, and 2,340 others wounded, mostly civilians, Including 679 children and 478 women; 389 houses targeted and destroyed and hundreds of others extensively damaged, thousands of Palestinian civilians forcibly displaced. Sewage,water and power grids destroyed

Here we have a civilian populace with no army to defend itself at the mercy of lethal hi-tech murder and we have to listen the glib justification of military commanders in perfect English defend the indefensible and legitimate such indiscriminate bombing. Israel is not to blame. It is all Hamas’s fault.

F-16 fighters  and drones  descend   on these “pathetic ducks in a barrel”. They have no bomb shelters, literally nowhere to run or hide in an overcrowded urban center. They cannot leave; all exits are barred. They have no Iron Dome anti missile system.

It is all Hamas’s fault.

The pathetic home-made rockets are simply the crazed behaviour  of an oppressed people encased  in steel. They are the furious howl of a people without hope. This response has simply given israel another chance at “the incremental genocide”(Pappe) Goliath is waging on David.

And all we hear from the craven John Kerry and Barack Obama, “Israel has a right to defend itself.”

And the US keeps sending $3 billion a year as settlements  grow and more  Palestinian  land is eaten up and international law is defied.

US elections are on the horizon and money easily trumps cheap Palestinian blood.

On July 19 several Nobel laureates, public intellectuals  and cultural workers signed an open letter in the Guardian

Among the Nobelists were   Archbishop Desmond Tutu, Adolfo Peres Esquivel, Jody Williams, Mairead Maguire, Rigoberta Menchú and Betty Williams.

Other well known signatories included:
Alice Walker, Writer,

Brian Eno, Composer/musician, UK

Chris Hedges , Journalist, Pulitzer Prize 2002, US

Frei Betto, Liberation theologian, Brazil

Hilary Rose, Academic,

Ilan Pappe, Historian, author, Israel

Ismail Coovadia, former South African Ambassador to Israel

Joao Felicio, President of ITUC, Brazil

John Berger, artist, UK
John Dugard, Former ICJ judge, South Africa

John Pilger, journalist and filmmaker , Australia

Judith Butler, Academic, philosopher,

Ken Loach, Filmmaker, UK

Michael Ondaatje, Author, Canada/Sri Lanka

Mike Leigh, writer and director, UK

Noam Chomsky, Academic, author, US

Nurit Peled, Academic, Israel

Paola Bacchetta, Academic, US

Richard Falk, Former UN Special Rapporteur on Occupied Palestinian Territories,

Roger Waters, Musician, UK

Ronnie Kasrils, Former minister in Mandela’s gov’t, South Africa

One wonders where is the prophetic voice of religion.

Biblical theology and the view from below

July 18, 2014


Four “terrorist” Palestinians playing soccer just before they are murdered


We must expel Arabs and take their places…and if we have to use force hen we have force at our disposal.”
David Ben Gurion the first Prime Minister of Israel Oct 5,1937 in a letter to his son

Stand up and speak on behalf of the poor
and those who need your voice in this world.
Remember that:
Where you stand will determine what you see;
Whom you stand with will determine what you hear;
What you see and hear will determine what you say and how you act.
Robert McAfee Brown


One of the cardinal things one learns as a student of the bible and as a primer for discipleship is to learn to think from below. This is not easy for the privileged. This is why North American Christianity is caught in a suburban captivity of privilege. Not bad people for sure but our starting point is generally white economic middle class privilege. This is why the growth in churches are those megachurhes. They give people waht they want. The prophets gave people what they needed. Think Joel Osteen and the biblically illiterate Christian Zionist churches in the American South.Any church which dares criticism of the “American Way of Life’ will struggle to survive. The call to the cross and the the kingdom offer of the crucified Galilean is decidedly not in vogue.


The fundamental narrative here is of course the Exodus story told from the perspective of the slaves and not of Pharaoh. For us the interlocutor is not the atheist but the nonperson, the unseen or seen only as a category—(everybody in Gaza is a terrerrorist, The Commies etc). Notoriously at different eras blacks, women, First Nations, the powerless were all people with no megaphones. Liberation theology shifted the essential question from the nonbeliever to the nonperson.


It was the Lutheran pastor Dietrich Bonhoeffer about to be martyred in Berlin in 1945 who most graphically expressed this view in modern times:


There remains an experience of incomparable value. We have for once learnt to see the great events of world history from below, from the perspective of the outcast, the suspects, the maltreated, the powerless, the oppressed, the reviled – in short, from the perspective of those who suffer.

When we analyze Israel/Palestine from this perspective our starting point for Christians is that of the poor. Who are the poor, the non-persons, those on the margin of life? We do not start from these reprehensible and self defeating rockets. We begin with the the radical dispossession of Palestinian people shoved into a crowded prison camp; we begin with the 50 year occupation of a homeland, of ongoing and relentless increase of settlements, theft of land, destruction of olive groves and collective punishment. We begin with second class citizenship, Jews only roads, a people with no nation or citizenship, no army and an asymmetrical poverty compared to the Occupier. We begin with Gaza, a foetid breeding ground of hopelessness hence the pathetic rocket attacks and the asymetrical death counts 270 dead Palestinians, 80% civilians and two israelis, each a child of God.

It is in the situation of these poor that God will be found . This is where the essential pain is.The underside of history and as we will see there are some brave Christian churches which have dared extend solidarity to the Palestinian people without justifying the counterviolence.


Time out for beauty: Charley Haden RIP

July 16, 2014



Beauty will save the world.
Fyodor Dostoevski in The Idiot


Please some relief from the endless suffering in the Middle East.


We present the life of the recently deceased jazz bassist Charlie Haden, a testament to the power of beauty and the healing ministrations of  music.


I want to take people away from the ugliness and sadness around us every day and bring beautiful, deep music to as many people as I can,” Haden said in a 2013 interview with The Associated Press shortly before receiving a Lifetime Achievement Grammy Award.


This jazz master made the bass sing in new ways and with different collaborators. A groundbreaker with “free jazz” saxophonist Ornette Coleman in the 50s Haden kept moving. One of his greatest strengths was his deep visceral understanding of humanity’s struggle for liberation,It seemed to suffuse his playing.
His evolution was astounding. He came from a well known background of country music. From the age of two he sang with The Haden Family then was struck with polio which damaged his vocal chords. At 15  he turned to the bass and jazz, his musical world lit up by the seminal Charlie Parker.
Haden never forgot the roots of jazz as a revolutionary art form, a radical identification with people’s struggles. He  was ailed for his support of the anti-colonial movements in Portuguese Africa and  had no time for The Bush wars. His Liberation Music Orchestra. mixed songs from the Spanish Civil War, antiwar songs and a tribute to Che Guevera. He remounted this band as a protest against the Bush invasion of Iraq. This  he called Not in My Name.

In the mid 80s he launched Quartet west with pianist Alan Broadbent.and tenor Ernie Watts. They produced a series of lyrical Be bop albums which owed much to film noir Latterly Haden’s stunning bass lines lit up duet albums with jazz giants Kenny Barron, Pat Metheny and Keith Jarrett.

Charlie Haden lived a life of gratitude.A few years ago he told Democracy Now’s Amy Goodman
I wouldn’t do anything different, except I would seek out as many musicians dedicated to life the way I am and dedicated to beauty the way I am, because it’s not really about categories, like jazz, it’s about beautiful music and playing music from all over the world with other musicians who are dedicated, because it’s up to us to bring beauty back into this world. It’s up to people in the arts, the painters, the writers, the composers, the dance troupes, everybody, the actors, the people who write poetry. You know, it’s up to us to try to make a difference in this world and try to make this planet a better to live for all the human beings and stop the cruelty and the devastation that’s going on, you know, and have a great place.


A few years ago Haden came to the CBC concert place and by an accident I ran into him lugging his bass out to a car. He was a amazingly humble when I thanked him for his profound commitment to the human project.


His final album ironically titled Last Dance was released in June of this year It is a stunning collaboration with the piano colossus Keith Jarrett.


Soul music—much like the other dozen Haden disks I play.


No context: Robert Fisk and Ilan Pappe

July 15, 2014

Any text without a context is a pretext.
Jesse Jackson

Downsizing the number of Palestinians all over historic Palestine is still the Zionist vision. In Gaza, its implementation takes its most inhuman form.
Ilan Pappe, Israeli historian

As in prior posts I stated that one must begin before “What would you do if rockets were fired at you.’ and “israel has a right to defend itself” propaganda, The problem here is a lack of context, a lamentable lack of historical knowledge. As for the Hamas rocketry civilized people reject such tactics, Though none have died from these hopelessly inadequate weapons of war, ordinary people should not live with fear and the sound of sirens.
But all the tribalist and talking heads need to back up and contextualize the situation. Whoever is firing the rockets (Hamas) is not a monster. He is a human being like all of us. What drives such a suicidal response? What has happened to such a person to such bizarre behaviour? His violence is violence 2, a response to the relentless structural violence that American Jewish activist Daniel Sitarski alluded to in his brilliant spoof of the ADL’s clumsy cartoon, one which has no context



This is the “incremental genocide” the brilliant Israeli historian Ilan Pappe refers to. “ This context should be insisted upon, since the Israeli propaganda machine attempts again and again to narrate its policies as out of context and turns the pretext it found for every new wave of destruction into the main justification for another spree of indiscriminate slaughter in the killing fields of Palestine.”

Globe and Mail:
”The PMO says Harper reiterated Canada’s steadfast support for Israel and its right to defend itself against terror attacks. Both leaders agreed that Hamas must end its targeted attacks on Israeli citizens.”


Harper is a political naif, am amnesiac with no sense of history or apparent empathy for Palestinian life.



Acknowledged as the pre-eminent Middle East journalist Robert Fisk attempted to school the Harpers of this world in a column on July 9



OK, so by this afternoon, the exchange rate of death in two days was 40-0 in favour of Israel. But now for the Gaza story you won’t be hearing from anyone else in the next few hours.


It’s about land. The Israelis of Sederot are coming under rocket fire from the Palestinians of Gaza and now the Palestinians are getting their comeuppance. Sure. But wait, how come all those Palestinians – all 1.5 million – are crammed into Gaza in the first place? Well, their families once lived, didn’t they, in what is now called Israel? And got chucked out – or fled for their lives – when the Israeli state was created.

And – a drawing in of breath is now perhaps required – the people who lived in Sederot in early 1948 were not Israelis, but Palestinian Arabs. Their village was called Huj. Nor were they enemies of Israel. Two years earlier, these same Arabs had actually hidden Jewish Haganah fighters from the British Army. But when the Israeli army turned up at Huj on 31 May 1948, they expelled all the Arab villagers – to the Gaza Strip! Refugees, they became. David Ben Gurion (Israel’s first Prime Minister) called it an “unjust and unjustified action”. Too bad. The  Palestinians of Huj were never allowed back.

And today, well over 6,000 descendants of the Palestinians from Huj – now Sederot – live in the squalor of Gaza, among the “terrorists” Israel is claiming to destroy and who are shooting at what was Huj. Interesting story.
And same again for Israel’s right to self-defence. We heard it again today. What if the people of London were being rocketed like the people of Israel? Wouldn’t they strike back? Well yes, but we Brits don’t have more than a million former inhabitants of the UK cooped up in refugee camps over a few square miles around Hastings.

The last time this specious argument was used was in 2008, when Israel invaded Gaza and killed at least 1,100 Palestinians (exchange rate: 1,100 to 13). What if Dublin was under rocket attack, the Israeli ambassador asked then? But the UK town of Crossmaglen in Northern Ireland was under rocket attack from the Irish Republic in the 1970s – yet the RAF didn’t bomb Dublin in retaliation, killing Irish women and children. In Canada in 2008, Israel’s supporters were making the same fraudulent point. What if the people of Vancouver or Toronto or Montreal were being rocket-attacked from the suburbs of their own cities? How would they feel? But the Canadians haven’t pushed the original inhabitants of Canadian territory into refugee camps.


“Death to the Arabs” Gideon Levy

July 14, 2014


Scottish protestors

There are brave reporters in Israel, men and women who see beyond the hasbara the overwhelming propaganda of the state. These are called “Jews of conscience” by theologian Marc Ellis. They are not necessary Torah Jews but people of common decency who have transcended “the tribal”. Social scientists call this “ideological suspicion”, the sense that what they are hearing is blatant obfuscation, lies which hide the real reasons for state actions.


We all have ideologies, worldviews but ideology has a pejorative meaning. It may be as simple and limiting as the zeitgeist of the time like the greed of the Reagan/Thatcher era. It might be the received consensus which Mike Harris and Flaherty peddled (“It’s only common sense”); it might be a neoliberal view of seeing humans as “homo economicus” the idea that we are all driven strictly by the maximization of profit. But then we have had the masters of suspicion throughout history, often called prophets who see the real motivation in operation. The king is naked.


Jesus would have been one such master in his proclamation of the malkuth Yahweh, God’s rule over Roman rule, God’s rule over the self-interest of the Sadducees or the narrow law of some Pharisees. Marx was a master, Freud also. They are penetrators of the situation. They get to the heart of the matter, see through the flimflam and the booswa. Every society produces such masters. Havel, Chomsky,Tutu and Beyers Naudé in South Africa, Oscar Romero etc. The prophetic never dies.


A friend told me of a rabbi he met in israel whose worldview was collapsing over the treatment of the Palestinians. Torah was finally supplanting Zionism. He was potentially breaking through the “hasbara”. The ideology of conformity, of maintaining power was collapsing. The lens through which he saw the world was losing its distortion. He was beginning to see clearly. He could no longer remain complacent when confronted with such suffering.


Harper IS

In Canada and the USA too many are in ideological captivity. They are isolated and insulated from the suffering, none more than the Prime Minister,Stephen Harper  For tribal reasons they blindly support Israel.They live comfortable lives.They are not under occupation. Their homes are not bulldozed.They do not face daily humiliation penned up in a squalid area with no exits.They are so committed for whatever reason to a false consciousness that they cannot see.


In Israel the reporter Gideon Levy sees with great clarity. Here is his article in Haaretz on Sunday July 13

Israel’s real purpose in Gaza operation? To kill Arabs
Since the first Lebanon war over 30 years ago, Israel’s main strategy has been killing Arabs. The current atrocious war in Gaza is no different.

The goal of Operation Protective Edge is to restore the calm; the means: killing civilians. The slogan of the Mafia has become official Israeli policy. Israel sincerely believes that if it kills hundreds of Palestinians in the Gaza Strip, quiet will reign. It is pointless to destroy the weapons stores of Hamas, which has already proved capable of rearmament. Bringing down the Hamas government is an unrealistic (and illegitimate) goal, one that Israel does not want: It is aware that the alternative could be much worse. That leaves only one possible purpose for the military operation: death to Arabs, accompanied by the cheering of the masses.

The Israel Defense Forces already has a “map of pain,” a diabolical invention that has replaced the no less diabolical “bank of targets,” and that map is spreading at a sickening pace. Watch Al Jazeera English, a balanced and professional television channel (unlike its Arabic sister station), and see the extent of its success. You won’t see it in Israel’s “open” broadcast studios, which as usual are only open to the Israeli victim, but on Al Jazeera you will see the whole truth, and perhaps you will even be shocked.

The bodies in Gaza are piling up, the desperate, constantly updated tabulation of mass killing that Israel boasts of, which already numbers dozens of civilians, including 24 children as of noon on Saturday; hundreds of people injured, in addition to horror and destruction. One school and one hospital have already been bombed. The aim is to strike homes, and no amount of justification can help: It’s a war crime, even if the IDF calls them “command-and-control centers” or “conference rooms.” Granted, there are strikes that are much more brutal than Israel’s, but in this war, which is nothing other than mutual attacks on civilians — the elephant against the fly — there aren’t even any refugees. In contrast to Syria and Iraq, in the Gaza Strip the inhabitants do not have the luxury of fleeing for their lives. In a cage, there’s nowhere to run.

Since the first Lebanon war, more than 30 years ago, the killing of Arabs has become Israel’s primary strategic instrument. The IDF doesn’t wage war against armies, and its main target is civilian populations. Arabs are born only to kill and to be killed, as everyone knows. They have no other goal in life, and Israel kills them.

One must, of course, be outraged by the modus operandi of Hamas: Not only does it aim its rockets at civilian population centers in Israel, not only does it position itself within population centers — it may not have an alternative, given the crowded conditions in the Strip — but it also leaves the Gazan civilian population vulnerable to Israel’s brutal attacks, without seeing to a single siren, shelter or protected space. That is criminal. But the barrages of the Israel Air Force are no less criminal, on account of both the result and the intent: There isn’t a single residential building in the Gaza Strip that is not home to dozens of women and children; the IDF cannot, therefore, claim that it does not mean to hurt innocent civilians. If the recent demolition of the home of a terrorist in the West Bank still stirred a weak protest, now dozens of homes are being destroyed, together with their occupants.

Retired generals and commentators on active duty compete to make the most monstrous proposal: “If we kill their families, that will frighten them,” explained Maj.Gen. (res.) Oren Shachor, without batting an eyelid. “We must create a situation such that when they come out of their burrows, they won’t recognize Gaza,” others said. Shamelessly, without question — until the next Goldstone investigation.

A war with no goal is among the most despicable of wars; the deliberate targeting of civilians is among the most atrocious of means. Terror now reigns in Israel as well, but it’s unlikely there is a single Israeli who can imagine what it’s like for Gaza’s 1.8 million inhabitants, whose already miserable lives are now totally horrific. The Gaza Strip is not a “hornet’s nest,” it is a province of human desperation. Hamas is not an army, far from it, despite all the fear tactics: If it really did build such a sophisticated network of tunnels there, as is claimed, then why doesn’t it build Tel Aviv’s light rail network, already?

The 1,000-sortie and 1,000 tons of explosives marks have almost been reached, and Israel is waiting for the “victory picture” that has already been achieved: Death to Arabs.



“What if your neighbourhood was a giant prison”?

July 13, 2014

One loves the oppressors by liberating them from their inhuman condition s oppressors, by liberating them from them selves. But this cannot be achieved except by resolutely opting for the oppressed, that is, by combatting the oppressive classes.
Gustavo Guttierez
One of the biggest canards grasped by defender of Israel’s ongoing slaughter of Gazan civilians is “What would you do if you were threatened by rockets?” This blather is mouthed inter alios by people like Canadian Foreign John Baird…yada, yada yada. “Doesn’t Israel have a right to defend itself”?  This is a classic example of decontextualization.


How about trying justice for a people penned up in prison. These are authentic Jewish values. Unmitigated and longstanding oppression of another people for over 60 years is a stench in the nostrils of God. Murder and injustice is Israel’s response.


The rockets launched by Hamas are pathetic the desperate and crazed attempt —much like the suicide bombers—to respond to a suffering the world ignores. The complicity of the United States and now Canada is unconscionable. What are these hopeless rockets, yet to kill anybody when compared to the sophisticated weaponry of the massive fire power of Israel. They are pathetic  cris de coeurs which the world has ignored for far too long.

Daniel Sidarski an activist American Jew openly mocked the embarrassing ad trotted out by the Anti Defamation League (ADL) which showed showed rockets descending on New York city from say New Jersey…”Imagine if Hamas terrorists were targeting you and your family…no country would allow such danger and neither will Israel.


Sidarski responded with his own ad and commentary. He called the ADL”s campaign an attempt to justify the bombing of Gaza(at this moment over 150 dead most civilians and one quarter children) “ just the latest act in a storied history of shameful behaviour.” Jewish theologian Marc Ellis would describe Sidarski as one of the “Jews of Conscience.”


Sidarski created a brilliant response and as he told Ali Abuminah of the Electronic Intifada: “The ADL has been a consistent embarrassment to the Jewish community…While Israel does have a legitimate and responsibility to protect its citizens from attack, and while I strenuously oppose all attacks against civilians to pretend that the current escalation is merely a defensive measure by Israel and not a part of a greater policy to undermine the PA unity deal (of Hamas and Fatah) is to deny the obvious. My Jewish community opposes occupation and warfare..the ADL does not speak for us.


Sidarski’s spoof is brilliant. He understands “structural violence”. This shows itself before a shot is fired This systematic and silent violence, hidden from TV cameras (though less and less today) engages in silent genocide, starvation and exploitation,a racist legal structure, an unbalanced underfunding of education and water rights etc.The situation seethes with violence.It is much more destructive than the counterviolence


He contextualizes the whole sorry mess. He understands that the fundamental and absolute primary violence is occupation and humiliation. That is where all must begin. The ongoing, unrelenting and unremitting humiliation of another people and in this case over 1.5 million Palestinians penned up in a concentrated slum with no access to exits, air space, fishing rights etc.

Sidarski is part of the Abarahamic minority, present in all communities, who has moved beyond tribal loyalties (I am a Jew, a Catholic, an American etc) and who embraces universal values of compassion and justice. Unlike high priced apologists like Alan Dershowitz who sit in academic offices and who defend “the tribe” without walking in the shoes of “the Other” Sidarski has realized that his loyalty to the deep ethical values Judaism entails transcends a narrow Zionism Too many have stayed at the level of the tribe a location which is too narrow, too partial. Sidarski found as we all must a deeper loyalty.


He took the narrow tribal view of the ADL and turned it on its head and asked the more fundamental question Israel defenders do not ask: What if your neighbourhood was a giant prison?


Imagine you have been stateless for 66 years, living under military occupation for 47 and under a devastating trade embargo for the last 8 Imagine that anyone around you could be arbitrarily executed without die process by the occupying army. Imagine you had no legal recourse for addressing youer prdicament.No people would tolerate such conditions forever and neither will Palestinians.

That’s why Palestinians are fighting back





The Disconnect

July 12, 2014

Rachel Fraenkel,the mother of one of the Israeli youths brutally murdered in the West Bank last month spoke out against the horrific reprisal murder of Mohammed Abu Khdeir

Even in the depth of the mourning over our son, it’s hard for me to describe how distressed we were over the outrage that happened in Jerusalem. The shedding of innocent blood is against morality. It’s against the Torah and Judaism. It’s against the basis of our life in this country. The murderers of our children, whoever sent them, whoever helped them, whoever incited towards that murder, will all be brought to justice. But it will be them and no innocent people. And it will be done by the government, the police, the Justice Department, and not by vigilantes. No mother or father should go through what we are going now, and we share the pain of the parents of Mohammed Abu Khdeir. The legacy of the life and death of Naftali, Eyal and Gilad is a legacy of love, of humanity, of national unity.


Undoubtedly these are touching words of another mother who has experienced the searing pain of losing a son on the cusp of life.


There seems to be a disconnect here. This woman with such compassion and insight lives on stolen land, is a settler. It does not compute. There is no mention at all of the illegal settlements prolonging the gross injustice meted out to the Palestinian people.



Miko Peled the author of The General’s Son: Journey of an Israeli in Palestine quickly threw water on the idea that Rachel Fraenkel, a settler woman was the emerging voice of peace in Israel/Palestine

I don’t think she’s emerging as a voice of peace at all. I think if she wanted to be recognized as a voice of peace, she would condemn, completely condemn, all Israeli violence towards the Palestinians. Ever since these three boys went missing, the Israeli military has gone completely mad. The Israeli soldiers have been marching through Palestinian towns and villages like Roman legions, destroying everything in their path, destroying homes, beating children, arresting, torturing. Countless have been killed, of innocent civilians have been killed. This has been complete madness. And if these parents were really interested in calming things down, they would tell Netanyahu to pull back his troops, to stop bombing Gaza, to relieve the people of Gaza of this brutal and inexcusable siege. People living 45 minutes from me, and they don’t have—they can’t have water fit for drinking or the most basic medicines, not to mention any way to deal with the horrific attacks that they’re subjected to right now. So, if anybody is really interested in calming things down, this is where they need to point the finger. This is who they need to be talking to.

Just yesterday, I happened to be at the grave of one of the boys killed on the 15th of May, Nadim Nuwara. And to listen to his father, Siam, speak at the gravesite of this 17-year-old boy, all he asks for is justice. All he asks for is justice, you know? And to compare that, to juxtapose that with the madness going on in the streets here in Israel and the madness that the Israeli military has been subjecting the Palestinians is just unbelievable.


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