Archive for December 2015

Pope Francis way ahead of his JP bishops

December 30, 2015

In Florence, Italy, in November Pope Francis staggered the JPll/Ratzinger clerics who oppose integral change in the Catholic church:


“Before the problems of the church, it is not useful to search for solutions in conservatism or fundamentalism, in the restoration of obsolete conduct and forms that no longer have the capacity of being significant culturally.”

At another point, he said, “Christian doctrine is not a closed system incapable of generating questions, doubts, interrogatives — but is alive, knows being unsettled, enlivened. It has a face that is not rigid, it has a body that moves and grows, it has a soft flesh: It is called Jesus Christ.”

The National Catholic Reporter which has finally got its legs after decades of the Catholic ice age and the harassment of top down bishops pointed out these salient fact:

It was one more item in a persistent litany of invitations that Francis has offered the entire church — but most specifically his bishops — to a freedom that presumes a willingness to wrestle both with the demands of the law and human realities that expose the law as inadequate to many circumstances at hand.
Less than a week later, the U.S. bishops gathered in Baltimore, and it seems the invitation was overlooked by many, perhaps ignored, and even, among some, feared and rejected. During three days of deliberations, the leaders of the American church considered priorities and plans for the future and a political document intended to guide Catholic voters.

What the American church received for the effort was a stale offering of old documents, largely ineffective in their previous iterations and sounding today, in parts, embarrassingly tone-deaf to current realities.”

Tone deaf is an understatement. One only has to look at the bishops in major North American sees who show no leadership on the biggest moral issue in history: climate justice.

The NCR went on:

The conference is quite evidently stuck in a long transition between differing papal priorities and styles. Those who are enthusiastic about the transformation Francis is leading realize that institutional change takes time. On many of the most compelling issues, they simply do not yet have the votes to move beyond the rigid formulations of past decades.

It is understandable. The conference is still top-heavy with bishops formed by or conforming to the expectations of Pope John Paul II, whose ecclesiological preferences were largely unchanged during the reign of Pope Benedict XVI.

John Paul favored loyalty of the sort that raises no questions or challenges. The church under John Paul became a highly juridical exercise with strictly drawn lines, a tick list of orthodoxies and “non-negotiables.” Under that regime, it was easy to detect who was inside or outside the institution, and that distinction was held as highly important. John Paul had no tolerance for questions that he alone deemed out of bounds.

The rigidity of that neat and tidy church, a high-employment zone for canon lawyers, was its undoing. It cracked under the force of tremors emanating from the corruption of the clergy culture and the devastating sex abuse and money scandals. It cracked because it could not withstand the pressures that derived from everyday existence, where the life of faith is not lived in constant consultation with the law.

The rigidly drawn borders, merciless in their judgment of the unworthy, kept people out. They couldn’t, however, hold in those who became disgusted with the corruption or those who became disenchanted with faith by fiat. The model was unable to hold so many young who viewed the church as irrelevant to their lives. Little in the way of invitation was offered to the alienated.

And so North American churches emptied. The most theologically sophisticated, best educated Catholics in history departed. Between 2000-2010, 30 million Catholics said goodbye to a church which had turned its back on the sensus fidelium, the wisdom deep inside.

Pope Francis with his commitment to Vatican ll has once again stirred the embers. The vast majority of Catholics however are trapped in the dioceses of the gray men of the past 2 pontificates…and they aren’t following Pope Francis.

Toronto Star’s self-censorship on Israel

December 29, 2015

Daily papers in cities with a large Jewish population (Toronto, Montreal and Winnipeg) hesitate to go near the third rail of verboten topics, Israel’s ethnic cleansing of Palestine. Even the Star with its long social justice history and Atkinson principles is very wary of having the local Zionist thought police descend on it. This reticence of course pales next to the vibrant Israeli daily Haaretz which regularly flagellates the buffoon Prime Minister Netanyahu and his pathetic cabinet. What a treat to read this paper and how sad to see serious journalism stifled at home.

Periodically however there are small breakthroughs as Israel descends lower on its path to pariahdom over its apartheid-like policies in Israel/Palestine. Such was the case of a story on Toronto’s Ben Dunkelman who was responsible for allowing Palestinians to remain in Nazareth as Israel went on its merry way to depopulate 750,000 Palestinians in 1947 and 48.


One of the letter sprinted in this incomplete portrait was mine which read:

Mitch Potter’s story (Star, Dec.19) of Ben Dunkelman and the saving of Nazareth was substantially true but the author seemingly tiptoes around the back story. It is true that Dunkelman did defy his commanding officer Moshe Karmi in his refusal to depopulate Nazareth. What is left out of the story is that Carmi immediately consulted the Defence Minister and Prime Minister David Ben-Gurion. The wily Israeli leader  knew that kicking Palestinians out of  the hometown of Jesus was bad optics. It would not go down well internationally. “Here the world is watching.”

Apparently everywhere else, ethnic cleansing was acceptable.

Ted Schmidt,Toronto

Notice the editorialists clipped out the very cynical response of Ben-Gurion:”Here the world is watching.” The Prime Minister knew there would be an uproar over kicking out the many indigenous Palestinian Christians  from Jesus’ hometown.

To be fair the Star did allow some online letters to be published as well as United Church minister Karen Rodman.

Re: The man who saved Nazareth, Dec. 19
The man who saved Nazareth, Dec. 19
I appreciate the Star including the article about Ben Dunkelman. It is timely during this advent season to remember why Palestinians remain in Nazareth (and Lod and Ramle), even as we remember the 750,000 Palestinians who were driven from their homes and made refugees in 1948, and the more than 250,000 displaced in the same manner in 1967. A story that has parallels to the sacred Christmas story, indeed.
The article would have been complete if it had mentioned that now, almost 70 years later, there are more than 3.7 million Palestinians in refugee camps in Palestine, Syria (who many are again being displaced in the current war), Jordan and Lebanon, and many other exiles living worldwide.
In 1948, the UN General Assembly passed Resolution 194, which provided for right to return or compensation. Still the Palestinians wait for what is guaranteed by international law under the Geneva Conventions and the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.
Rev. Karen Rodman, Toronto



The Star and Mitch Potter should be congratulated for publishing this. You show courage rarely seen in Western media.The “truth” is insufficient, “the whole truth and nothing but the truth” are mandatory to understand the truth. A good journalist must adhere to this truism, and you have done so, bravo.For decades, Israeli propaganda has hidden the truth from the eyes of the world. Only recently did stories like this emerge
.Haganah, Irgun and the Stern Gang are almost forgotten, if they were ever well-known in the West. I encourage you to probe and publish further as more people in your readership are interested in learning the truth.

Albert Haddad, Concord

Mitch Potter correctly sheds some light, although indirectly, on how Zionist militias, through acts of terror, forced Palestinians from their land in 1947 and 1948. Israeli historian Ilan Pappe has written extensively on how the Palestinian population was either expelled or else fled under the threat of violence being perpetrated by the militias.

The Star should be encouraged to publish more pieces to dispel the Israel narrative.

Ken Green, Cooper Landing, Alaska

This story romanticizes a war crime. To establish Israel, the likes of Dunkelman participated in the ethnic cleansing of up to 800,000 indigenous Palestinians from Palestine. This included my mother’s family, which hails from Nazareth. The British considered foreign fighters like Dunkelman terrorists. today they are called settlers.

Samer Abdelnour, co-founder, Al-Shabaka: The Palestinian Policy Network, Rotterdam, The Netherlands

While the action of an individual like Ben Dunkelman is to be applauded, the fact remains that over 700,000 Palestinians were made refugees and over 400 Palestinian villages were destroyed in the war that created Israel and its aftermath.

A climate of fear among Palestinians preceded this disaster created by the murder of over 100 Palestinian civilians at Deir Yassin on April 9, 1948.

The villagers had signed a non-aggression agreement but were attacked by Irgun and Stern Gang irregulars.
The subsequent war produced an Israel in control of about 78 per cent of Palestine. The Middle East is still reeling from the consequences of this conflict.

Ted Turner, Toronto

The inclusion of these letters is a sign of hope that the end game in Israel is gaining momentum.

But wait there’s more!

The brilliant researcher Dan Freeman-Maloy attempted to engage the Star over its sanitized picture of Dunkelman
Freeman-Maloy dares to go where the Star and Mitch Potter refuse to venture—the well documented ethnic cleansing of Palestine.

We are shocked! Sure you are

December 28, 2015

On December 28 2015,the intrepid journalist Amira Hass wrote one of her finest columns peeling back the layers of israel state hypocrisy.Hass the daughter of a mother who survived Bergen-Belsen is what we used to call a “non-believer.’In other words she is a secular Jew.But the Jewish biblical ethic has mostly migrated from the bizarre fundamentalist rabbinate which would give any Muslim fundamentalist a run for their money.The prophetic is indeed alive among many secular Jews like Hass.They are the real “Jew”. Sinai has descended on their hearts.The thugs who humiliate Palestinians on a daily basis are “Israeli.”


Hass and her fellow scribe at Haaretz Gideon Levy persistently and with great courage continue to call israel back from the precipice which is just around the corner.Naturally this woman who has lived in Ramallah and gaza to the shock of the average brainwashed Israeli is an outstanding example of “the Jewish prophetic.”


This column speaks for itself.
Why Are Israelis So Shocked by the ‘Wedding of Hate’ Video?
Thanks to the country’s mainstream, the West Bank has become the land of unlimited possibilities for the average Israeli Jew. This is the soil that gave rise to those young dancers with their bouncing sidelocks and their guns.

Screenshot from wedding video shows men burning a photo of a Palestinian baby killed in the arson attack on the Dawabsheh family home in Duma. Courtesy of Channel 2


The horror expressed by the Israeli mainstream at the “blood wedding” video is more repulsive than the clip itself. The shock is at the messianic, disruptive representation of the settlement enterprise, the handiwork of successive generations of the Israeli mainstream.
The police are shocked. Every month on Rosh Hodesh, the start of the Hebrew month, a “sivuv she’arim” is held in the Muslim Quarter of Jerusalem’s Old City. The ceremonial circling of the gates of the Temple Mount, accompanied by shofar-blowing and reading of Psalms, is organized by El Har Hamor, a nonprofit association that seeks to rebuild the Temple. The Israel Police provide security for the event, which takes place between shuttered Palestinian stores. Men in white kippot dance, sidelocks bouncing – just like in the video – and pound on the closed doors.
According to documentation from October, they also sing songs similar to the ones in the video (“Burn down the mosque” and “We will avenge one of the two eyes of Palestine, curse them”), and while the Arabs shut themselves into their homes, the dancers chant “Death to Arabs.” Not only are the police there, they also try to prevent leftists from recording the events.
Open and shut cases
The Judea and Samaria district police are shocked. This is the police district that systematically closes investigations of Israeli violence against Palestinians. Out of 1,104 investigations opened after Palestinians complained of violent injury or property damage over a 10-year period, from 2005 to August 2015, 940, or 91.6 percent, were closed without charges being filed, according to the Yesh Din legal defense NGO. In 85 percent of the cases, the closure was due to failure of the police investigation. The reason given in 624 of the cases was “offender unknown,” while in 208 cases it was “insufficient evidence.”
Examples? On Passover Eve 2011, a group of Israelis injured Bruce Lee Eid of Burin, a village south of Nablus. One of the Israelis shot Eid, wounding him severely in the abdomen and right hand. This attack was one of many designed to prevent the villagers from building on their lands. Soldiers fired tear gas at Palestinians who came to defend their neighbor. The incident was filmed, the origin of the assailants (the Givat Ronen outpost) was known, but the case was closed.
In another case, from October 2011, a few Israeli Jews from Combatants for Peace accompanied Palestinians from the village of Jalud on their first olive harvest in 10 years. In all those years the Israel Defense Forces (were they also shocked by the wedding video?) had kept them from working their land to avoid friction with the messianists from the local outposts (such as Esh Kodesh).
Masked Israelis, accompanied by an armed, unmasked Israeli in civilian clothes (perhaps the security coordinator) came, threw a stun grenade, fired into the air and attacked the harvesters with clubs, injuring three Israelis and two Palestinians. Soldiers and Border Police officers who were there fired tear gas and stun grenades at Palestinians. The case was closed despite the wounded Israelis and the presence of soldiers who were witnesses.
The culture of “unknown offenders,” “insufficient evidence” and do-nothing soldiers nurtured the atmosphere of “we can run riot and no one will touch us” seen in the wedding video.
Here’s a less-than-wild guess: The justices of the High Court of Justice are also “shocked” by the video. Two out of three justices last week allowed a person who was convicted of assaulting a Palestinian youth to continue to offend against a different Palestinian, by cultivating a vineyard on private Palestinian land. With the High Court’s approval, five years after appropriating land that did not belong to him, Zvi Strock, son of Habayit Hayehudi MK Orit Strock, can continue to keep Fawzi Ibrahim off his land for another year.
Strock did not return the land, a full year after an IDF appeals committee ordered him to do so. Now he is requesting an additional one-year extension so that the process can be done “peacefully.” That sounds like a clear threat: If he is removed earlier, it will not be peaceful. The mainstream (the state and the High Court) heard the threat, and knuckled under.
Netanyahu ‘shocked,’ too
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is shocked, and the Defense Ministry is shocked. With their approval, dozens of bulldozers continue to nibble with the avarice of real-estate sharks at the land of dozens of Palestinian villages, in order to build homes for Jews. Go to Modi’in Ilit, to Alei Zahav, Barkan, Ariel. Without dancing or bouncing sidelocks, the state is doing much more than the “blood wedding” dancers could.
Thanks to the mainstream, the West Bank has become the land of unlimited possibilities for the average Israeli Jew. It’s a substitute for the welfare state that they ground down with a devotion that would do honor to Milton Friedman. This is the soil that gave rise to those young dancers with their bouncing peiyot and their guns.
Their messianism was born of the incessant secular Israeli disregard for international law and justice, which prohibit settlements in occupied territory. Their deranged messianism is fed by the consistent, deranged political objective of the settlement enterprise: to thwart the possibility of living in equality and peace with the Palestinian people in this land. Fed by and feeding.


Advent/Christmas 2015

December 25, 2015

Christmas Meditation 2015


II has long been accepted by scripture scholars that the infancy narratives are more interested in proclaiming the meaning of Jesus’ birth than giving us verifiable historical details. Unknown to the first evangelist Mark and written at least three generations after the event, these powerful stories attempt to interpret for first century people the significance of the life, death and resurrection of Jesus.

Matthew and Luke, writing in the glow of the resurrection and knowing the end of the story, rightly insist that even the birth of Jesus is significant. The best way to communicate this, given the nature of the audience and the historical period is by narrative. People love stories. Ultimate truths in fact are best proclaimed by stories. These carefully crafted myths, written by Matthew and Luke against the background of the Hebrew scriptures, contain the eternal themes of life-death, threat-promise, power-weakness etc.

In the fifteenth year of the reign of Tiberius Caesar,
when Pontius Pilate was governor of Judea,
and Herod was tetrarch of Galilee,
and his brother Philip tetrarch of the region
of Ituraea and Trachonitis,
and Lysanias was tetrarch of Abilene,
during the high priesthood of Annas and Caiaphas,
Luke 3:1-2

Reading for the second Sunday of Advent 2015

Ah clever Luke makes sure we get the message.
He actually names the Roman power broker
right off the bat, the ridiculous poser Tiberius, Nero’s son
and stepson of Augustus who styled himself “dominus et deus”
Lord and god…it is to laugh.
Tiberius, trisitissimus hominum, the gloomiest of men as Pliny called him, employs the sycophantic enablers of empire, minor thugs— Pilatus, Herod, Philip, Lysanias interchangeable plunderers of the poor making daily war on the anawim, the bent and broken farmers of Palestine.
Worse than these are the collaborator high priests Annas and Caiaphas
Torah tramplers bought and paid for by the imperium.
Entrance left comes the baptizer heralding the itinerant rabbi Yeshua who “will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and fire.”(16)

In the dark season of Advent when injustice seems to rule
we continue to trust with revolutionary patience in the fiery way of Jesus
who is our Emmanuel, God with us, God with refugees, God with those like Jesus, who live under occupation in the land of Nazareth and Bethlehem.
With the joy his birthday brings we recommit ourselves to the work of justice, nonviolence and peacemaking.

Christus natus est…alleluia.


Merry Christmas from Benzi

December 23, 2015



The infamous rightwing Israeli Benzi Gopstein, leader of the Jewish extremist terror group Lehava, wants all the Christians out of Israel, and they can take their holiday with them. This lovely ecumenist recently wrote “in the best tradition pf Judaism” that “Christmas has no place in the Holy Land … Let us remove the vampires before they once again drink our blood” and claimed the establishment of the state of Israel was “the most ringing slap in the face the church ever received” after centuries of failed attempts to eliminate Jews.

Gopstein a Kahanist  claims Jewish law mandates the burning of mosques and churches.Who knew?

Haaretz reports:

Gopstein wrote that he is disturbed by “the fall of the line of defense of the Jewish people against our deadly enemy for hundreds of years – the Christian Church which had used “the maximum tools at its disposal to destroy the Jewish people,” and that today “the Church has been defeated roundly when the Jewish people has one of the strongest armies in the world and they have no chance any longer of destroying our body….A last hope remains to those vampires and blood suckers – the mission. If Jews cannot be killed, they can still be converted.”

Gopstein said “missionary bookstores offer their products in front of everyone on Jaffa Road in Jerusalem, whole communities are crawling with missionaries, many businesses are run by them and are used by the mission, many cases using camouflage and without the knowledge of the employees.”

“I call on everyone to raise a cry and fight this corrupt phenomenon in the best tradition of Judaism, before we all, including those who observe the commandments among us, become a community of sycophants.”

What joyous people the settler movement has spawned.

Toronto Star—no mention of Ben-Gurion cynicism

December 22, 2015

The Toronto Star on December 19 ran an interesting story on Torontonian Ben Dunkelman’s little known saving of Nazareth. In July of 1948 when the new state of Israel was activley ethnic leansing the indigenous Palestinian from their city, Dunkelman resisted kicking out the passive natives from their generational home. He was part of a particularly nasty 7th Brigade which was simply exercising the infamous Plan D “In the event of resistance, the armed force must be wiped out and the population must be expelled outside the borders of the state”.


Well, Dunkelman saw no reason to get rid of the people and he flouted the orders to do so. Moshe Carmi the presiding general immediately consulted the Defence Minister and Prime Minister David Ben-Gurion. The wily Israeli leader knew that kicking Palestinians out of  the hometown of Jesus was bad optics. It would not go down well internationally. “Here the world is watching.”

Apparently everywhere else, ethnic cleansing was acceptable.And Isfrael got away with it—until now when the world has awakened to the massive injustice to the Palestinians.

Prostitutes in US congress

December 18, 2015

It is a commonly accepted truth with Israel watchers in the USA that Congress, in Pat Buchanan’s words is “Israel occupied territory”, that nobody who challenges Israel’s barbaric behaviour against the Palestinians will  be around the US legislature long. There are many examples too numerous to mention here but my favourite one is Cynthia McKinney from Alabama who was not rah rah for Israel as a Democratic congresswoman. In 1992 when  she was a candidate for the US Congress, she received a fax from the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC) ready to fundraise for her…they did not even know her and the but this is how ugly things are in the US, lobbies can buy you up. The shocking fact is there are less than 10,000 Jews in Alabama. This despicable lobby however wants you to be a zombie for Israel.

“The fax was a pledge stating that as a candidate I would commit my tenure, should I win, to the military superiority of Israel, to Jerusalem as the capital city, to continued aid at the level requested by Israel. There were around five to seven points on this piece of paper and I didn’t sign it.”

Can you believe the chutzpah of this organization? Needless to say they got rid of Cynthia McKinney.

Recently AIPAC paid for 53 reps to go and see the Disneyland version of Israel offered by the state. You can bet they never walked through a checkpoint or ate hummus in Nablus.

Well they are still at it. Now they give out free trips to ‘the only democracy in the Middle east” and buy off the sheep who will be the amen corner for Israel. Well, I guess that’s just politics. And the cannabalizing of consciences.

The Free Palestine Movement pulled the rug from under these sad people.they offered them a free trip to Palestine! Brilliant. They sent a personalized invitation to exactly the same members of Congress to come to Palestine on the organization’s dime.

Guess how many accepted?

You guessed, zero, none.

Great representatives of the people.

Canada blind on Palestine

December 9, 2015

Brother Phil Little the Bard of Vancouver Island expresses my exact sentiments when I read Justin Trudeau’s statement regarding Brian Mulroney’s receiving the OR Tambo award by the South African government. One wonders in the year of our Lord 2015 when we are approaching the birthday of the most radical Jew to live under occupation, Yeshua ben Miriam (Jesus of Nazareth) how intelligent people can still be deaf, dumb and blind over the new Jews, Palestinians living under the world’s longest occupation.Mike Marquesee in his book If I Am not for Myself: Journey of an Anti-Zionist Jew phrased his incredulity this way:

The blindness of the majority of American and British Jews to the criminality of Israeli behaviour towards the Palestinians beggars belief and is an index of moral, spiritual and intellectual decadence.This is the question. When it comes to 68 year long oppression of Palestinians why is the world so blind?

Trudeau is probably not aware that Nelson Mandela was a fierce supporter of the Palestinian cause. South Africans were well aware that Israel was apartheid’s best friend. Hence  Israeli  PM Netanyahu had the brains to stay home when the great Mandela was buried. He would have been booed out of the stadium.Unlike North Americans black Spoiut africans kneww all too well who their friends were


Sadly, we live in a time of massive amnesia and cowardice in high places.Enjoy brother Little’s fine riposte which follows Trudeau:

On behalf of all Canadians, Sophie and I would like to congratulate Mr. Brian Mulroney on being awarded the highest honour South Africa bestows upon foreign nationals: the Supreme Companion of Oliver Reginald Tambo award. This prestigious award recognizes Mr. Mulroney’s exceptional contribution to South Africa’s liberation movement and his steadfast support for the release of Nelson Mandela.
“Under the leadership of Mr. Mulroney, the Government of Canada strongly opposed apartheid, a system of racial segregation in South Africa that was at the centre of political violence in the country for decades.
“Only four months after his release, Nelson Mandela travelled to Ottawa, Montréal and Toronto as a gesture of gratitude for Canada’s contribution. In 1998, Mr. Mandela became the first foreign leader to be awarded the Order of Canada. He later became the first living person to be awarded honourary Canadian citizenship in 2001.
“In Canada, diverse perspectives and different opinions are celebrated, not silenced. Canadians know that we are stronger not in spite of our differences, but because of them. I am therefore very proud of the role Mr. Mulroney and Canada played in bringing an end to apartheid and helping Mr. Mandela’s fight for freedom.
“I extend our congratulations once again to Mr. Mulroney on receiving this tremendous honour, and on showing the world that Canada champions pluralism and multiculturalism, both at home and abroad.”

The Prime Minister’s Office

Phil Ltitle writes:

Is Trudeau aware of the implications of his statement?  He has praised the liberation struggle in South Africa and the leadership of Nelson Mandela. He says “This prestigious award recognizes Mr. Mulroney’s exceptional contribution to South Africa’s liberation movement and his steadfast support for the release of Nelson Mandela.  “Under the leadership of Mr. Mulroney, the Government of Canada strongly opposed apartheid, a system of racial segregation in South Africa that was at the centre of political violence in the country for decades.”


Apartheid is a system of racial segregation that is at the centre of political violence.  Is Trudeau also referencing Israel?  Surely if there is a state in the world actively engaged in a policy of racial segregation, a military operation of genocide and an internal system of denial of basic rights using a pass system and segregating a different ethnic and religious group to designated areas (such as Gaza) and the imprisonment of dissenters and selective assassination, then Trudeau must be speaking about Israel.

Leaders of the South African resistance, including Nelson Mandela and Bishop Tutu, and even US former President Jimmy Carter, state that Israel is more of an apartheid state than South Africa in its worst time. 

Progressive-except for Palestine

December 7, 2015

Jewish progressives, energized by the long and impressive Torah understanding that “You shall not wrong a sojourner or oppress him, for you were sojourners in the land of Egypt” EX.22:21, the Exodus story, made the contemporary connection with other oppressed groups. Jews were overly represented in the civil rights movement supporting black liberation. Rabbis Heschel and Eisendrath were front and central with Dr.King and Ralph Abernathy in those years. Torah demanded solidarity with the oppressed.


Now incredibly there has arisen a new group,not always Jews, social justice advocates who are PEP—Progressive except for Palestine.One such rabbi Susan Talve was recently outed in St Louis Missouri.

Mondoweiss, the brilliant creation of Philip Weiss called this phenomenon to wider attention. It was based on Sandra Tamari’s Facebook page. The following is an edited version:

A meme created and posted by HandsUp United on Monday December 7 has caused an uproar in St. Louis activist circles. The image that circulated on social media bears the photo of Rabbi Susan Talve, the leader of St. Louis’ Central Reform Congregation. Rabbi Talve is well known figure in the Ferguson protest movement and interfaith community of St. Louis. The controversy surrounds the commentary in the meme about Rabbi Talve referring to her as a “Real Terrorist” for her support of Israeli apartheid and its oppression of Palestinians. The image is part of HandsUp United “Real Terrorist” campaign calling out St. Louis power brokers for their role in perpetuating systems of racial oppression and includes photos of St. Louis Mayor Francis Slay, Missouri Governor Jay Nixon, Missouri Senator Jamilah Nasheed with the hashtag #‎RealTerrorist.Susan Tamari writes:

As Palestinians, we are too familiar with the label “terrorist” and Hands Up’s use of the word attempts to turn the term on its head by applying it to state political power as a way to illustrate society’s hypocrisy about the use of violence. The messaging is blunt and could have used more context. Here I hope to provide some background on why Rabbi Talve was targeted.

In the summer of 2014, Palestinians around the globe, including the community in St. Louis, watched in agony as Israel assaulted our people in Gaza for over 50 days killing over 2000. Our anguish was only amplified by the murder of Mohammad Abu Khader in Jerusalem who was set on fire alive by Jewish settlers. In the midst of this agony, Mike Brown was killed in Ferguson. For many of us, this awakened an active love and solidarity with the Black liberation movement. The pain of both of our communities was raw and fresh, and was being met with very similar responses of state violence.

During our summer of sorrow, Rabbi Talve was traveling in Israel with a delegation organized by AIPAC, a conservative, war-mongering lobby group that has vigorously supported U.S. funding and defense of the Israeli policies of settler colonialism in Palestine.

During her time in Israel, Talve sent dispatches back to her community in St. Louis. In her messages, Talve asserted that all of Jerusalem belonged to Israel, blamed the deaths of Palestinians in Gaza on Hamas and praised the Israeli army for their morality and courage. When she returned from Israel, she hosted a promotional event for AIPAC at her synagogue. AIPAC hosted Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu at their annual conference in Washington, DC in March 2015, the day before he spoke to the US Congress. His message to Washington was clear: the US and Israel are engaged in a common war against the “uncivilized” of the Middle East. His racism against Palestinians, Arabs, and Muslims rivaled his racialized hatred of President Obama. AIPAC is the organization Talve chose to travel to Israel with and to support in St. Louis. Her actions made it clear that she supports Israel at all costs. At the Ferguson October events in 2014, she told a reporter, “A lot of American Jews are very conflicted as I am about the occupation, they’re scared for Israel because we don’t feel safe in this country.”

As a Palestinian who is exiled from her father’s country of birth, those words could not sound more privileged and racist. In this sick logic, my family and millions of other Palestinians are denied return to Palestine so that Talve and her co-religionists can have a back-up country. The idea is absurd and that it comes from the lips of the “progressive” rabbi makes it harder to comprehend.
In March 2015 the Missouri History Museum censored a panel, From Ayotzinapa to Ferguson to Palestine by telling organizers that Palestine was not permitted to be part of the discussion.

Talve is at the center of social justice movements in St. Louis. For that, she should be commended. But her hypocrisy of fighting against racial injustice in St. Louis while supporting it in Israel is what HandsUp United was calling out. Zionism has no place in liberation spaces led by people of color. I am so grateful to my family at HandsUp United for understanding that none of us are free until all of us are free.
Bravo for Susan Tamari for calling out Rabbi Taive on her selective blindness. The latter is obviously a good woman with humane instincts who has allowed a settler colonial movement, called Zionism to overwhelm Torah’s demand for tzedek,tzedek tirdof (justice, justice you shall pursue) Deut 16:20.

Sadly another person who is PEP—progressive except for Palestine.

We didn’t know–yes, you did

December 5, 2015

Don’t Say We Didn’t Know 477

So begins the indefatigable defender of the Bedouins, the Israeli kibbutznik, Amos Gvirtz.


477 flares in the night, never reported in the USA or Canada, always below the radar.

Bu please, when it all comes down, don’t do a good German act for the world to see, that you didn’t know.You knew, this house was built on the original sin of the expulsion of the original inhabitants.

But this is one Israeli among so many who are acting as a conscience to a Zionism which long ago lost its way…about 100 years ago!

One wonder how these soldiers day in and day out make silent war on the Bedouins, who after all are Israeli citizens but live in the Negev which Israel dearly wants to inhabit.But few jews in the diaspora are interested and so Amos writes.

It is International Struggle Against Racism Day! But here we have no such struggle. Racism and its daughter – cruelty – are running wild, unimpeded. After the army yesterday confiscated all the temporary shelters and tents brought by the International Red Cross, as well as rods and other equipment, tonight the people of Al Hadidiya sheltered themselves under nylon sheets. It was raining, not hard but still annoying and wet. In the middle of the night the Israeli army arrived, removed the nylon sheets and took them away.