Authentic Judaism: Ethan Buckner

Kudos to that indefatigable rabbi Michael Lerner the editor of Tikkun Magazine for putting out a 50th anniversary edition of the beginning of occupation. There are many excellent articles from different angles, including some from the victims themselves, the long-suffering and abused Palestinians.

There was one however in particular which inspired me and made me aware that prophetic witness is never lost. It ripples out and if it is a holy spark, it will light up other lives.
Ethan Buckner the author of this article entitled Why My Jewishness Compels me to Stand for Justice in Palestinei. Young Buckner s one of those holy Jewish sparks whose faith is real. He probably never heard of Elmer Berger and those rabbis who early on saw the harmful effects Zionism would have on the ancient biblical faith but in a sense his Judaism which “compels him to stand for Justice” is alive and well because of those rabbis who in 1942 said “no Judaism is not Zionism.”



Raised in a conservative Jewish community in Minnetonka, Minnesota Buckner belongs to one of those groups (If Not Now ( which have sprung up in the past few years, most probably because of the visceral disgust of the mass murders in Gaza in 2012 and 2014.


Like many young Jews, Buckner could not reconcile his Jewish upbringing and identity of tzedek (justice) and hesed (mercy) with the chauvinist and racist state that claimed to speak for all Jews. Buckner took the Groucho Marx cure (”Who do you believe, me or your eyes”).He went and saw for himself, something tribalist Jews and ahistorical Christian pilgrims never do. He joined the Center for Jewish Nonviolence and went to the Palestinian hell on earth, Hebron.There he ‘witnessed the horrors of occupation—the demolished homes, segregated roads, checkpoints, crops destroyed, water poisoned, daily verbal physical humiliations and relatives attacked by settlers.”


At the same time Buckner met young nonviolent Palestinians who inspired him with their resilience. Sadly he met fellow Jews “slinging hate speech” at him. He asked himself if he belonged to the same tradition.This vile Judaism “that embraces racism and violence in Israel and blind obedience in the United States is currently upheld by by mainstream Jewish institutions.”


In the end Buckner chose the other river ”a Judaism rooted in boundless and borderless which demands equity and justice for Palestinians.”




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