Israel’s history from below

Marc Ellis,  Jewish -American theologian makes the point the prophetic is the indigenous of Jewish, originating in the Jewish bible. We think of the neviim, the great prophets who spoke God’s word of justice to the kings and the powerful.The prophetic is Israel’s officialdom has lost its way. The prophetic cannot coexist with occupation or indeed with covenant.So the prophetic migrates. In Israel it moves laterally to secular justice-proclaimers such as Haarertz columnist Gideon Levy.
The former average Tel Aviv Jewish boy Gideon Levy decided to visit the West Bank and see for himself. Like the great Lutheran martyr Dietrich Bonhoeffer he began to see history from the underside.

Levy 30
In his letters from prison before he was executed by the Nazis in April 1945, Bonhoeffer wrote:
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.


Levy unlike most Israelis is not afraid to visit Palestinians and see life from the underside.
He sets the scene here:


We left the house in the Deheisheh refugee camp near Bethlehem last week with a malaise I cannot remember feeling for a long time: sadness over a boy’s fate, frustration at my helplessness, and rage at those who had caused him the suffering. Issa al-Mouati – a 14-year-old boy whose right leg was amputated after he was shot by Israeli soldiers in September 2015 – is being held in an Israeli prison. Back in the home of his sick grandmother in the overcrowded refugee camp, his mother Rada told me, with remarkable acceptance, what happened to her son since the soldiers left him permanently crippled.

Then he makes the prophetic links: Israel’s defensive shield of obtuseness, with all the automatic blind justifications for the occupier’s wrongs, could perhaps be cracked only through role reversal. What would have happened if Palestinians had shot a Jewish child? What would have happened if they had arrested a crippled Jewish child? And what would have happened if they had abused a Jewish child whose leg had been amputated? It’s not hard to imagine the outcry that would have arisen from Jerusalem to the ends of the earth – “Jewish blood” – the demand to condemn; Danny Danon in the UN General Assembly; the child’s parents in the VIP gallery, waving for all to see a photograph of the stump. But Issa is Palestinian, and his parents are poor and busy with the grandmother’s illness and making a living more than anything else.

And what happens when an ultra-Orthodox boy or young settler throws stones at soldiers? And perhaps Issa didn’t throw stones – it may yet emerge that he fired at the soldiers with a cannon or a tank. Wait, just wait, for his trial. Everything’s OK, occupier, your conscience is white as snow. It was necessary to shoot Issa; it was necessary to bind the wounded Issa; it was necessary to imprison the crippled Issa. For what choice does Israel have when the Palestinians, in their dastardliness, force it to shoot and imprison young amputees?

The prophetic has migrated.

As a great grassroots Protestant theologian reminded us:

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.



  1. 1
    mushafta Says:

    Bonhoeffer is a sacred word that resonates deeply with people of conscience. The holocaust was a real event but in the Christian church world today, one would never know it. Squeaky clean Lutheran and other churches, except for a very limited few, are not on the front lines like Bonhoeffer speaking about the holocaust in Palestine or Syria or anywhere else.
    Bonhoeffer is wake up call to all of us! Get off the pot and do something!

  2. 2
    Bill Heffernan Says:

    Keep ’em coming Teddy. Jeff Halper detained/ arrested according to Democracy Now.


    Sent from my iPad


RSS Feed for this entry

Leave a Reply

Please log in using one of these methods to post your comment: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: