15 minutes away

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.”

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6 Comments »

  1. 1
    mushafta Says:

    An oppressed people with hardly a backer.
    What kind of world has the West created that ignores their plea?
    That has permitted Israel to behave like their oppressors of old?
    Christianity has failed these folks- particularly the far right with its obsession of biblical stories disconnected from the real politics of today. And the Catholic church whose princely bishops sit on neutral thrones that dares not offend the Caesars of the day. Where are the moral theologians with their licentiates from The Gregorian in Rome? Giuseppe Verdi wrote Nebuccho- the opera and music of liberational inspiration of a former age.
    It inspired the Jews to rise up recalling their oppression in Babylon.
    And now the oppressed are in a hole the oppressors have lost sight of.
    Bystanders- nations, individuals, institutions of timid neutral bystanders.

  2. 2

    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

    What nonsense! What anti-semitic nonsense! Judging an entire people like that. You live in Toronto, in the comfortable, peaceful city of Toronto. You don’t have to worry about people trying to destroy you. So you can sit there in your comfortable home, inherited from your wealthy family background on Russell Hill Rd, and type out your simplistic prejudicial nonsense and pretend you’re an all seeing prophet without worry of prosecution. Must be nice, Ted. Must be nice. But you have no idea what it is like to live in Israel, surrounded by nations that want to destroy you. And you cannot understand that, so you construct a simple “it must be something you Israelites did to deserve that” narrative. Well, there is only one buffoon on this blog that admires you. No one else seems to be paying attention. I only wonder why I continue to do so. I think it is because there is a tremendous lesson in psychology here. Fascinating!

  3. 3
    mushafta Says:

    Ted! You are a wise man!
    You write from your conscience and your experience in Palestine. Sadly, this man has nothing of substance to share, otherwise he would have his own blog for us to scribble on. I’m pleased you show him compassion and tolerance. A great philosopher whose name escapes me once wrote:
    “None can speak of a wound with skill if he hath not a wound felt”. That’s you Ted! I know if no one who has done as much for Jewish people as you. I know of no one who has spent his lufetime devoted to church and social justice causes as you. Whatever happened in Nazi Germany to have turned you into such a true man of peace that you are- I cannot imagine. But I absolutely know you are hitting the target with these great posts! Otherwise, you surely would be ignored by all.

    The Buffoon

  4. 4

    Spent his “lufetime”. You said it!

  5. 6

    BTW, what has Ted done for the Jewish people? And more than anyone you know? I’m curious.


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