Archive for the ‘Church & Culture’ Category

Jewish state, Jewish values, Jewish shame

June 27, 2018

At Passover Seder celebrating Jewish liberation, I felt shame – shame to be a Jew – at the latest massacre of Palestinians by Israeli troops. This unspeakable, unlawful outrage – young Jewish snipers deliberately shooting down unarmed Gazans gathered in protest at the border fence that helps keep them confined in the largest open-air prison in the world, killing 18 and wounding more than 1,400 — was committed pursuant to shoot-to-kill orders from senior Israeli military and political leaders, who put them there precisely to intimidate Palestinians who dared engage in non-violent protest, and to collectively punish, again, the civilian Palestinian population.

 

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Shooting unarmed Palestinian demonstrators pursuant to an open-fire policy is not new, either in Gaza or the West Bank. In December 2017 alone, Israeli soldiers shot and killed eight demonstrators. In the same month, live fire wounded an additional 291 Palestinians in Gaza and 117 in the West Bank. But the Passover killings at the Gaza fence reached a new high, or low, in Israel’s and the Jewish people’s descent into madness.

 

I do not know which is worse, the shamelessness of those perpetrating these atrocities, or the indifference and silence of both Israeli and American Jews – rabbinate and laity – at the routine Jewish large-scale killing and maiming of Palestinian protesters. Israeli military, political and judicial leaders make sure virtually no killers of Palestinians are held accountable, and none suffer serious punishment.  About Friday’s massacre, Defense Minister Avigdor Lieberman assured Israelis that there would be no investigation, saying, “all our soldiers deserve a medal.”

 
Oh yes, the Jewish kids who killed the young man rolling a tire away from the border, the man praying with others, and the young man watching the protests and puffing a cigarette, they all deserve medals? Watch the videos, but be warned, if they don’t make you physically sick, they will make you heartsick at what passes for Jewish values these days.

 

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Before we had a Jewish state, we had Jewish books. Five books. A Mishnah. A Talmud. We discussed, debated, argued about and perfected Jewish moral, ethical and religious values. We knew what they were, and when they were violated. And we knew what it was like to be victimized by others who did not share those values. When we felt the lash of oppression, it stung so bad it really had meaning. We were against it. It was something that the goyim did to us, and to others. It was not for us. So we were for equality, dignity, fraternity, rule of law. We were against racism. We were for taking in the stranger, the immigrant, treating him or her like our own. We were proud to serve in the war against the fascists. We celebrated resisters and their resistance to oppression in Europe, and criticized collective punishment of European civilian populations after such acts of resistance. Even after Israel was born, we marched, here in America, against war and militarism, against white supremacy, against Apartheid in South Africa, and for civil rights of people of color.

 

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But now we have a Jewish state. Now, instead of a book and values, we have power. And it turns out that we are every bit as good at abusing that power, as the goyim. In fact, we may be better at it. A 2008 delegation of ANC leaders visiting the West Bank said our apartheid is worse than the South African variety they experienced and helped overcome.

 

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And our propaganda, our hasbara, is certainly more potent and effective than that of most oppressors around the world, past and present. After all, who else could propagate and maintain for decades the myth of Israeli democracy for American Jews while running a white Jewish supremacist regime for five million Palestinians in East Jerusalem, the West Bank and Gaza as comprehensive and relentless as this one – plain as day when one is there — that accords Palestinians no civil rights, steals their land and water, demolishes their homes, and has no reservations about killing and wounding them in large numbers?

 

But now, the Palestinians are ramping up non-violent protest as the resistance modality of choice, and the Israelis are ratcheting up the violence to meet it. The truth is coming out — that Israeli leaders never feared violence or “terrorism” as much as non-violent resistance. The mask of benign democracy is starting to fall away, and the true face of our Jewish oppression is showing, for all American Jews (and Christians) to see — we Americans who support and facilitate this oppression, and without whose support it would shortly cease to exist.

 

I am ashamed. I am a Jew ashamed of this Jewish state that perpetrates all this, purportedly in my name and in the name of the entire Jewish people. I am ashamed that I did not speak out publicly until my 67th year in 2014, after the massacre that was the Israeli “Operation Protective Edge” in Gaza in 2014. I am ashamed that, at Passover Seder, many of my friends and family are still silent.

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I am ashamed that, in temples and synagogues and Jewish institutions across this land, one hears expressions of support for right-wing Israeli leaders and their crimes while Trumpers are piously excoriated for similar crimes, policies, and pronouncements here at home. I am ashamed that, on Friday, when I first heard about the killings at the Gaza fence, I could not find one TV station reporting on it. Nor can I find, with very limited exceptions, American newspapers who will tell it like it is. That includes you, Sulzbergers, running a paper I’ve been reading since the sixth grade, which proclaims that it publishes “All the News That’s Fit to Print.”

 

I am ashamed at the American Jewish rabbinate, our supposed religious leaders, who have been to Israel and know how brutal, systemic and relentless the oppression of Palestinians is there, but who remain silent for fear of losing their jobs or dividing their congregations, when what is really at risk is their Jewish souls, our Jewish values, and the essence of what Judaism has to offer the world. And it is not this.

 

There is no reason that a country with hundreds of nuclear weapons, the most sophisticated conventional military hardware, and the most powerful security and intelligence capability in the world, has to kill, maim, intimidate and collectively punish its Palestinian inhabitants. The Israeli leaders who perpetrate these crimes against humanity – and their citizens who are indifferent to it — may be Jews, but they are not Jewish.

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It is time to acknowledge all this to ourselves, and to be silent no more.

Robert Herbst is a civil rights lawyer. He was chapter coordinator for Westchester Jewish Voice for Peace from 2014-2017,

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Young Jews confront myths about Israel

June 22, 2018

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Young Jews raised in the synagogue with universal Torah values have broken with the silence of their elders  and the timidity of their rabbis to confront the decades of lies
they endured.

 

With rapid post war advance of capitalism, serious deformations occurred in the dominant North American Abrahamic faiths, Christianity and Judaism. Catholics ended up voting twice for Reagan and now for Trump. Rabbi Dr. David Goldberg, the much published rabbi emeritus of the London Liberal Synagogue, wrote this about contemporary Judaism

 

With the erosion of belief, God has been replaced by Israel as the credo of the Jewish people to the benefit of neither. Excessive reference to the Holocaust and dark allegations about resurgent anti- Semitism are two of the diversionary tactics used in the diaspora by the Israel lobby to deflect growing criticism of Israel.

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Computer technology, cell phones and other modes of instant communications shattered Israel’s control of the dishonest narrative they had been peddling for decades. Smart idealistic young Jews have seen through it and discovered another perspective.IfNOT Now is but one such group https://ifnotnowmovement.org. This is their clarion call on their website:

THE TIME HAS COME TO END OUR COMMUNITY’S SUPPORT FOR THE OCCUPATION.
WE WILL BE THE GENERATION TO DO IT.
THE OCCUPATION IS A DAILY NIGHTMARE FOR THOSE WHO LIVE UNDER IT AND A MORAL DISASTER FOR THOSE WHO SUPPORT AND ADMINISTER IT.
IFNOTNOW IS WORKING TO TRANSFORM THE AMERICAN JEWISH COMMUNITY’S SUPPORT FOR OCCUPATION INTO A CALL FOR FREEDOM AND DIGNITY FOR ALL.

‘You never told me’: Confronting American Jewish myths about Israel

A group of young American Jews are challenging the the institutionalized myths they were taught about the Jewish state in classrooms, youth group trips, and summer camps.  Emma Goldberg of IFNot Now

 

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U.S. anti-occupation movement IfNotNow released its “Liberation Syllabus” last week. Crowd-sourced from teachers, students, journalists, and rabbis, the syllabus offers a collection of resources — from picture books to nonfiction, cookbooks to podcasts — that Jewish institutions can integrate into their curricula to offer more balanced and just lessons about the occupation.

 

The syllabus is part of IfNotNow’s “You Never Told Me” campaign, in which alumni of Jewish summer camps, day schools, and youth groups are calling on their institutions to change their Israel education to include honest understandings of the occupation and Palestinian narratives. Some of the resources in IfNotNow’s syllabus, for example, include Rashid Khalidi’s Palestinian Identity and Edward Said’s The Question of Palestine.

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IfNotNow’s campaign is a critical call to action. For American Jews distressed by the intransigence and violence of the Netanyahu government — enabled and encouraged by the Trump administration — distance does not permit inaction. Meaningful responses to current conditions on the ground in Israel-Palestine can start in the U.S., with critical examination of the way American Jewish institutions teach and talk about the occupation. Most importantly, this examination must begin early in the pipeline, engaging the narratives that Jewish youth consume about Israel and the history of the conflict.

 

For a compelling example of the lasting effects of poor Israel education, we need look no further than Jared Kushner. Just last month, Kushner and Ivanka Trump celebrated at the opening of the American embassy in Jerusalem, smiling blithely for selfies and paparazzi, while just miles away more than 60 Palestinian protesters were being killed by Israeli forces on the Gaza border. Kushner, a strong supporter of the decision to relocate the U.S. embassy to Jerusalem, praised Israel’s human rights record during the embassy opening. He also briefly addressed the violence at the border by saying the protestors were “part of the problem and not part of the solution,” a comment that was absent from advance excerpts of his remarks delivered to the press.

 

Considering the narratives with which Kushner was raised, his tone-deaf engagement with Israel-Palestine shouldn’t be at all surprising. From a New York Times profile last year, we know that Kushner was taught in classrooms where eight year olds were asked to draw the map of Israel from memory and were taught to refer to the West Bank by its biblical names, Judea and Samaria: “In his classes, Palestinians were regarded at a distance, in part as security threats who committed acts of terrorism.”

 

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Kushner received precisely the sort of education that IfNotNow’s campaign is targeting: an education that whitewashes, pinkwashes, and greenwashes Israel’s human rights abuses, that stubbornly insists on conflating an appreciation for Israel’s culture and history with support for its current government. Kushner’s callousness shows the long-term costs the Jewish community pays for institutions that fail to intervene and teach the inconvenient truths. For Palestinians on the receiving end of Israel’s abuses, the price is far higher.

By +972 Blog |Published June 19, 2018

Archbishop Tutu: Israel apartheid

June 6, 2018

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16 years ago Desmond Tutu named it. Apartheid in the Holy Land

 

In our struggle against apartheid, the great supporters were Jewish people. They almost instinctively had to be on the side of the disenfranchised, of the voiceless ones, fighting injustice, oppression and evil. I have continued to feel strongly with the Jews. I am patron of a Holocaust centre in South Africa. I believe Israel has a right to secure borders.

 

What is not so understandable, not justified, is what it did to another people to guarantee its existence. I’ve been very deeply distressed in my visit to the Holy Land; it reminded me so much of what happened to us black people in South Africa. I have seen the humiliation of the Palestinians at checkpoints and roadblocks, suffering like us when young white police officers prevented us from moving about.

 

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On one of my visits to the Holy Land I drove to a church with the Anglican bishop in Jerusalem. I could hear tears in his voice as he pointed to Jewish settlements. I thought of the desire of Israelis for security. But what of the Palestinians who have lost their land and homes?

 

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Naim Ateek

I have experienced Palestinians pointing to what were their homes, now occupied by Jewish Israelis. I was walking with Canon Naim Ateek (the head of the Sabeel Ecumenical Centre) in Jerusalem. He pointed and said: “Our home was over there. We were driven out of our home; it is now occupied by Israeli Jews.”

 

My heart aches. 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?

 

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Israel will never get true security and safety through oppressing another people. A true peace can ultimately be built only on justice. We condemn the violence of suicide bombers, and we condemn the corruption of young minds taught hatred; but we also condemn the violence of military incursions in the occupied lands, and the inhumanity that won’t let ambulances reach the injured.

 

The military action of recent days, I predict with certainty, will not provide the security and peace Israelis want; it will only intensify the hatred.

 

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Israel has three options: revert to the previous stalemated situation; exterminate all Palestinians; or – I hope – to strive for peace based on justice, based on withdrawal from all the occupied territories, and the establishment of a viable Palestinian state on those territories side by side with Israel, both with secure borders.

 

We in South Africa had a relatively peaceful transition. If our madness could end as it did, it must be possible to do the same everywhere else in the world. If peace could come to South Africa, surely it can come to the Holy Land?

 

My brother Naim Ateek has said what we used to say: “I am not pro- this people or that. I am pro-justice, pro-freedom. I am anti- injustice, anti-oppression.”

 

LOBBY

 

But you know as well as I do that, somehow, the Israeli government is placed on a pedestal [in the US], and to criticise it is to be immediately dubbed anti-semitic, as if the Palestinians were not semitic. I am not even anti-white, despite the madness of that group. And how did it come about that Israel was collaborating with the apartheid government on security measures?

 

People are scared in this country [the US], to say wrong is wrong because the Jewish lobby is powerful – very powerful. Well, so what? For goodness sake, this is God’s world! We live in a moral universe. The apartheid government was very powerful, but today it no longer exists. Hitler, Mussolini, Stalin, Pinochet, Milosevic, and Idi Amin were all powerful, but in the end they bit the dust.

 

Injustice and oppression will never prevail. Those who are powerful have to remember the litmus test that God gives to the powerful: what is your treatment of the poor, the hungry, the voiceless? And on the basis of that, God passes judgment. I know firsthand that Israel has created an apartheid reality within its borders and through its occupation. The parallels to my own beloved South Africa are painfully stark indeed. 

 

Wrong

 

We should put out a clarion call to the government of the people of Israel, to the Palestinian people and say: peace is possible, peace based on justice is possible. We will do all we can to assist you to achieve this peace, because it is God’s dream, and you will be able to live amicably together as sisters and brothers.

 

Catonsville 50 years Ago Today

May 17, 2018

50 Years Ago Today: Catonsville 9 Burned Draft Papers with Homemade Napalm to Protest Vietnam War

 

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Fifty years ago today, on May 17, 1968, in the Baltimore suburb of Catonsville, Maryland, a group of Catholic priests and laypeople stood around a small fire that they had made, praying and singing. They had gone into the local draft board office and taken 378 draft records for the young men in the 1-A category, who were most likely to get drafted to go to war in Vietnam. They set fire to the draft records using homemade napalm, made from gasoline and laundry soap, to symbolize the U.S. military’s use of napalm on Vietnamese civilians. They became known as the Catonsville Nine. Video of the act of civil disobedience was seen around the world. Democracy Now  turns to the 2012 documentary Hit & Stay, which chronicles  the stories of the activists, including Fathers Phil and Dan Berrigan.

 

FATHER DANIEL BERRIGAN: We make our prayer in the name of that God whose name is peace and decency and unity and love. We unite in taking our matches, approaching the fire. We’re all part of this.

 

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GEORGE MISCHE: While people throughout the world, and especially Vietnam now, are suffering from napalm, that these files are also napalmed, to show that these lives can fall on the same fate as the Vietnamese.

 

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FATHER DANIEL BERRIGAN: Amen.

 

DAVID DARST: Napalm, which was made from information and from a formula in the United States Special Forces handbook published by the School of Special Warfare of the United States. We all had a hand in making the napalm that was used here today.

 
JIM HARNEY: Napalm is a very old weapon. It goes back to the Byzantines. But it really came to public attention during the war in Vietnam, in the pictures of napalmed people. So that was the kind of quintessential symbol of the war: We were burning babies, literally, in Vietnam. So that’s why we wanted to come up with something symbolic and also something that would really destroy the files.

 

TOM MELVILLE: Our church has failed to act officially, and we feel that, as individuals, we’re going to have to speak out in the name of Catholicism and Christianity. And we hope our action to inspire other people who have Christian principles or a faith similar to Christianity will act accordingly, too, to stop the terrible destruction that America is wreaking on the whole world.

 

FATHER DANIEL BERRIGAN: We regret very much, I think all of us, the inconvenience and even the suffering that we’ve brought to these clerks here.

 

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FATHER PHIL BERRIGAN: We sincerely hope we didn’t injure anyone.

 

PRIESTS: Our father who art in heaven, hallowed be thy name. Thy kingdom come, thy will be done on earth, as it is in heaven.

 

FATHER DANIEL BERRIGAN: We have chosen to be powerless criminals in a time of criminal power. We have chosen to be branded as peace criminals by war criminals.

 
AMY GOODMAN: The Catonsville Nine were prosecuted and, in 1970, given prison sentences of up to three years behind bars. Earlier this month, a ceremony was held in Catonsville, Maryland, to mark the unveiling of a new historical marker to commemorate the action.

 

 

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Frida Berigan daughter of Phil and liz McAlister with children

Trump’s bizarre pastors

May 15, 2018

 

Here they are insults to Christianity, purveyors of hate and stupidity

Step up Robert Jeffress, introduced to radio by Amy Goodman

 

JEFFRESS

 

An anti-gay, pro-Trump pastor of the First Baptist megachurch in Dallas, Pastor Robert Jeffress, was chosen by the Trump administration to lead the prayer at the opening of the U.S. Embassy in Jerusalem. Pastor Jeffress has a history of making hateful comments against Muslims, Jews, Catholics, Mormons, the LGBTQ community. This is just a few of the statements he’s made over the years.

 

DONALD TRUMP: Where is Pastor Jeffress? He’s around here someplace. What a good guy! Where is he? Well, come here. I love this guy!

 

PASTOR ROBERT JEFFRESS: Here’s the deep, dark, dirty secret of Islam. It is a religion that promotes pedophilia, sex with children. … Mormonism is not Christianity. It has always been considered a cult by the mainstream of Christianity.

 

ANDERSON COOPER: Hindus and Buddhists, Islam—cults?

 
PASTOR ROBERT JEFFRESS: Yes, absolutely. … Muhammad was nothing but a bloodthirsty warlord who beheaded 600 Jews who would not follow him into battle.

 

IMAM MOHAMMAD ALI ELAHI: That is not true.

 

PASTOR ROBERT JEFFRESS: Islam is wrong! It is a heresy from the pit of hell. Mormonism is wrong. It is a heresy from the pit of hell. Judaism, you know, you can’t be saved, being a Jew and Catholicism represents the genius of Satan

 

and Obama?

 

In 2014, Jeffress wrote a book arguing that Obama was paving the way for the coming of the Antichrist, if not the Antichrist himself. He’s cast Trump as a kind of modern-day King Cyrus: chosen by God as an unlikely leader.

 

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and John Hagee, a bizarre end timer who believe that the Jewish people are going to burn in Hell for all of eternity unless they abandon Judaism and convert to Christianity. This guy is to serious theology as Popeye is to Plato. You simply can not believe the nonsense he promotes like the Blood Moon Prophecy, an end-of-times theory that lunar eclipses are a sign that the world is on the brink of destruction and that the Second Coming of Jesus Christ is near.

 

To have these two “Christians” present at the unveiling of an embassy is to both invite ridicule and debase Christianity.
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Genetic Judaism not enough

May 2, 2018

Once again the intrepid Israeli writer Amira Hass attempts to help North American Jews and indeed those seduced by Israeli propaganda to really arise from their slumber and understand the depth of depravity the Israeli governmement has sunk.

 

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If Americans and Canadians and in particular Jews knew the facts on the ground they would quickly understand that they must withdraw support from a state which prides itself as Jewish. It is doing irreparable harm to the universal tenets of the religion from which Christianity sprung. If they knew the reality instead of the hasbara spun on Israell’s behalf, they could no longer support such abhorrent behaviour in “the kingdom of the occupation”(Hass).

 

YOINGH

 

No democrat and no human being would tolerate for any length of time what the state of Israel is doing to Palestinians. This is why young Jews are abandoning knee jerk fidelity to Israel, They have moved way beyond an atavistic tribalism to a higher plane.These beautiful young people applaud the sentiments of Jews such as Orthodox former speaker of the Knesset Avraham Burg when he says:

 

BURG

For me the Jewish people is about a values system not about genetics. …When you ask today a Jew in Israel, what is the nation, unfortunately too many of my cousins will say it is about the Jewish blood. To me being Jewish is not about blood system. 

if cousins of mine literally speaking are racist, xenophobic, Islamophobic, homophobic, they are genetic Jews but I don’t have any partnership with them. If somebody,might be an Arab, might be the educator of my grandchildren, who is pluralistic, tolerant, humanist, who comes to her position from her Islam not Judaism– she is my partner.

Tomorrow Amira Hass, an Israeli writer whose mother survived Bergen-Belsen writes on

 

The Websites You Must Visit to Understand Israel’s Policy Toward Palestinians 

For those who don’t speak Arabic, these sites will put you on the ground in the West Bank and Gaza

 

Jean Gump, Tireless Fighter for Social Justice, Dies at 90

April 30, 2018

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Who knew her outside of Chicago? Yet the NY Times ran a huge obit for her on their big fat Sunday edition. It made my day. Hopefully the 55% of Catholics who voted for the Groper in Chief read it too.

As the button on my coat says:

 

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At a time when more and more people are living in Fantasyland and posting another picture of their dog on Facebook, it is people like Jean Gump who will save the world and possibly renovate the Catholic church presently good at charity but absolutely lousy at justice.

 

RC JUStUnknown

 

While Jean Dalton was growing up on the South Side of Chicago, her parents became so disgusted by Mayor Richard J. Daley’s ethnocentric and monolithic Democratic machine that they not only enrolled as Republicans but also hid their Irish ancestry from their five children.

 

Within just a few years, though, Ms. Gump had an epiphany. Perhaps it was inspired by the birth of her 12th and last child in 1964, after Kennedy’s assassination, that nonplused her about what kind of world her children would inherit. Maybe it was the rumblings of social justice reverberating from the ecumenical Vatican II council in Rome.

 

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Or maybe it was the inconvenient question posed by her son Joseph one day in 1965, when he turned to her despairingly from the brutal television images of blacks being mistreated in the South and asked what she was going to do about it.

 

“I took the next available plane to Alabama and marched with Martin Luther King Jr. from Selma to Montgomery.”

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So began jean Gumps’ life as a citizen, a life that inspired the Gump children to describe her in a paid obituary last month as “a lifelong advocate for peace and justice, and a convicted felon for antinuclear activism.”

 

In 1986 she served more than four years, 63 days of that time in solitary confinement, for invading Whiteman Air Force Base near Holden, Mo., with two other Roman Catholic peace protesters on Good Friday earlier that year. It prompted her husband to quit his job,, and join the antinuclear weapons movement. In 1987, he was convicted of conspiring to damage another Missouri missile site. He was imprisoned for three years.

 

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Most people go to prison for violating their conscience. The Gumps were sentenced for rigidly cleaving to theirs.

 

Ms. Gump’s moral code could be condensed into a single sentence: “If you don’t act against it, you must be for it.”

 

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Her last arrest was in 2010, when she was 83. She was protesting upgrades of Trident submarine nuclear warheads at the Y-12 National Security Complex in Oak Ridge, Tenn.

 

“We are people of conscience who know that nuclear weapons are immoral, so we make our statements and expect to be found guilty at our trials.”

 

I was brought up as a bigot and could have become a Nazi,” she told the weekly newspaper The Chicago Reader in 1987. “If the German people who were stunned by what the leaders were doing had said ‘no,’ it wouldn’t have happened. Very early in my life I realized I would never have a child of mine come to me and say, ‘What were you doing then?’ ”

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“My mother was living the American dream and rejected it all in her fight for social justice,” Holly Gump, who confirmed the death, said in a telephone interview.

 

When her first grandson was born, she recalled, she decided that her civil disobedience had not gone far enough. “I realized I had to do something,” she said. “He would have no world to grow up in unless I did something.”

 

SWORE
““I thought I might be frightened,” Ms. Gump said, “but as we were driving out, I felt a tremendous peace that I had never felt before.”

 

After moving to Bloomingdale, after prison, the Gumps wrote letters opposing the presence of Israeli troops in the West Bank and helped start the Kalamazoo Nonviolent Opponents of War.

 

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We have got to have a future for our children, and we’ve got to make some sacrifices for it, O.K.?,” she told Studs Terkel in a Playboy magazine interview in 1988. “Call it a legacy if you want to. What else is there?”

 

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Not my Israel

April 6, 2018

The fallout from Israel’s unprovoked massacre of 1t Gazans continues to reverberate in many quarters. Israel’s contempt for Palestinian life is finally becoming obvious to much of the world which had frequently fallen for its masterfully cynical propaganda. Those days are over and many Jews in the diaspora are breaking ranks and speaking painful truths.

 

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Here in Toronto one Israeli’s disgust with his former home found its way into print, a letter to the Toronto Star, April 4, 2018

This is not my Israel

I do not recognize my birthplace and childhood home. I was raised with the narrative that Israel was a safe haven for persecuted Jews from around the world — a sanctuary.

 

What I see now is a racist, cruel and destructive country intent on punishing refugees, demonizing Indigenous Palestinians and carrying a messianic zealotry I would ascribe to totalitarian regimes. This is not my Israel.

 

Like so many other disillusioned Zionists, I grabbed a piece of hope on Passover and Easter, when Israel announced it had reached a deal to allow its African refugee community to stay or be resettled. A few hours later, the government of Israel suddenly announced it was rescinding this compromise, and would be looking at deporting these refugees forcibly.

 

This is just another reflection of the heartlessness that is now sewn into the cultural fabric of Israel.

Avi Zer-Aviv, Toronto

 

The Toronto Star periodically will publish letters critical of Israel, particularly from diaspora Jews critical of this rogue state. The above letter of Mr. Zer-Aviv is one such example.

 

Sometimes, maybe once a month, a similarly critical oped will be printed. Never will the Star editorialize about the rampant injustice and racism prevalent there.

 

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The Star has always operated on the Atkinson principles of comforting the afflicted and afflicting the comfortable. But it always very wary of offending Israel-firsters in the Jewish community and for good reason. If you poke this bear, there will immediately be an economic attack on the newspaper, threatening dire consequences. Newspapers can not risk this.

 

One can have sympathy with a print organ like the Star avoiding such a situation in these days of folding dailies. Similarly, the CBC must be very careful in this regard, and it is. Ditto the rabbis of major temples who know what is going on so most avoid the topic. A rabbi friend of mine told me the reason I am having trouble engaging these worthies is that most agree with me. Israel has become its worst enemy.

 

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In the waning days of Zionism, there are many in the Jewish community, as there are in most Christian communities where tribalism has supplanted the prophetic impulse. The radical voice of justice ”the voice that God has lent to the silent agony, a voice to the plundered poor” as rabbi Heschel said about the prophets is sadly lacking in all the Abrahamic faiths today. Such religion will as the prophets like Jeremiah, Jesus, Gandhi and King showed, get you in deep trouble. It may even claim your life.

 

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Bravo for Mr Zer-Aviv for speaking his truth in public.

 

Martin Luther King Jr. presente!

April 4, 2018

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I was driving up University right by Del. It was still daylight on April 4, 1968 and I was at the U of T working on my Masters 5 months before I arrived at Neil. I heard the news and pulled over to the side of the road and wept.
MLK was assassinated 50 years ago today.
In my journal for that fateful April day:
Completely numbed by the sudden shock of MLK’s assassination…the lunacy of it all, the american way.God damn it—it doesn’t make any sense. King the disciple of Gandhi, both lovers of peace who cut through the sectional bull shit and confronted people. Their questions found only violent answers in the end..it’s gonna be a long and hot summer, baby. Christ help us.

 

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The Doc was my hero, an authentic gospel man who put it on the street, in the world where it was meant to be.
5 years earlier when the brother was only 34, he challenged fellow clergymen when he was in the Birmingham Jail, a piece of prophetic literature which threw a great challenge at timorous church people. It resonates today.

 

King was a accused of being “an outside agitator.” his response:

 

I am in Birmingham because injustice is here. Just as the prophets of the eighth century B.C. left their villages and carried their “thus saith the Lord” far beyond the boundaries of their home towns, and just as the Apostle Paul left his village of Tarsus and carried the gospel of Jesus Christ to the far corners of the Greco Roman world, so am I compelled to carry the gospel of freedom beyond my own home town. Like Paul, I must constantly respond to the Macedonian call for aid….Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere.

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Some other gems which are memorable:

We know through painful experience that freedom is never voluntarily given by the oppressor; it must be demanded by the oppressed.

Exactly what the Palestinians are doing today.

 

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King then laid the daily, grinding humiliation of Afro-Americans, the Jim Crow laws which flew in the face of a serious democracy

 

Then he wrote about nonviolent direct action in these terms:

 

Actually, we who engage in nonviolent direct action are not the creators of tension. We merely bring to the surface the hidden tension that is already alive.

 

This hit home as last week I saw the violent response to the  peaceful  Palestinian action calling attention to 50 years of brutal occupation.

 

My favourite part of this letter is MLK’s challenge to the Christian church to live up to the way of the crucified Christ

 

I have wept over the laxity of the church. But be assured that my tears have been tears of love. There can be no deep disappointment where there is not deep love. Yes, I love the church. How could I do otherwise? I am in the rather unique position of being the son, the grandson and the great grandson of preachers. Yes, I see the church as the body of Christ. But, oh! How we have blemished and scarred that body through social neglect and through fear of being nonconformists.

There was a time when the church was very powerful–in the time when the early Christians rejoiced at being deemed worthy to suffer for what they believed. In those days the church was not merely a thermometer that recorded the ideas and principles of popular opinion; it was a thermostat that transformed the mores of society. Whenever the early Christians entered a town, the people in power became disturbed and immediately sought to convict the Christians for being “disturbers of the peace” and “outside agitators.”‘ But the Christians pressed on, in the conviction that they were “a colony of heaven,” called to obey God rather than man.

ML2

Small in number, they were big in commitment. They were too God-intoxicated to be “astronomically intimidated.” By their effort and example they brought an end to such ancient evils as infanticide and gladiatorial contests. Things are different now. So often the contemporary church is a weak, ineffectual voice with an uncertain sound. So often it is an arch defender of the status quo. Far from being disturbed by the presence of the church, the power structure of the average community is consoled by the church’s silent–and often even vocal–sanction of things as they are.

 

But the judgment of God is upon the church as never before. If today’s church does not recapture the sacrificial spirit of the early church, it will lose its authenticity, forfeit the loyalty of millions, and be dismissed as an irrelevant social club with no meaning for the twentieth century. Every day I meet young people whose disappointment with the church has turned into outright disgust.

 

An anti-Passover for” the pathologically indifferent”

April 1, 2018

Pi=Levy

 

Once again the reincarnated Jeremiah, Gideon Levy holds the mirror up to the “pathologically indifferent” both in Israel and in timorous government circles elsewhere.

IJV

Outside of those wonderful Jews of conscience Independent Jewish Voices,(IJV) few community leaders in Canada will dare speak such scalding prophetic words like Levy. IJV however speaks its following truth

 

IJV Canada is outraged by the murder of 17 unarmed Palestinians and the wounding of hundreds of others by the Israeli army in Gaza Friday,

 

Canadian Jews celebrate Passover to commemorate the liberation of Jews from slavery in Egypt, more than 3,000 years ago. The horrific irony that Israel massacred captive Palestinians on Passover cannot be ignored.

 

Canadian Jews celebrate the liberation story of Passover we must acknowledge Israel’s illegal and brutal occupation of Palestine. Every Canadian Jew who values freedom must speak out against the relentless oppression of Palestinians that is carried out by Israel in our names, enabled by successive Canadian governments that have been oblivious to the plight of the Palestinians.

Levy in today’s article The Israel Massacre Forces sums up his Haaretz piece like this:

Pi=prison

The shooting on the Gaza border shows once again that the killing of Palestinians is accepted in Israel more lightly than the killing of mosquitoes

He goes on to write in his justifiable sarcastic tones the following:

The death counter ticked away wildly. One death every 30 minutes. Again. Another one. One more. Israel was busy preparing for the seder night. TV stations continued broadcasting their nonsense.It’s not hard to imagine what would have happened if a settler had been stabbed – on-site broadcasts, throw open the studios. But in Gaza the Israel Defense Forces continued to massacre mercilessly, with a horrific rhythm, as Israel celebrated Passover.

 

If there was any concern, it was because soldiers couldn’t celebrate the seder. By nightfall the body count had reached at least 15, all of them by live fire, with more than 750 wounded. Tanks and sharpshooters against unarmed civilians. That’s called a massacre. There’s no other word for it.

Comic relief was provided by the army spokesman, who announced in the evening: “A shooting attack was foiled. Two terrorists approached the fence and fired at our soldiers.” This came after the 12th Palestinian fatality and who knows how many wounded.

 

Sharpshooters fired at hundreds of civilians but two Palestinians who dared return fire at the soldiers who were massacring them are “terrorists,” their actions labeled “terror attacks” and their sentence – death. The lack of self-awareness has never sunk to such depths in the IDF.

As usual, the media lent its appalling support. After 15 deaths Or Heller on Channel 10 News declared that the most serious incident of the day had been the firing by the two Palestinians. Dan Margalit “saluted” the army.
Israel was brainwashed again and sat down to a festive meal in a spirit of self-satisfaction. And then people recited “Pour out Thy wrath upon the nations that know Thee not,” impressed by the spread of plagues and enthusing at the mass murder of babies (the killing of the first-born Egyptians, the 10th plague).

Pi=Rabbi

Christian Good Friday and the Jewish seder night became a day of blood for the Palestinians in Gaza. You can’t even call it a war crime because there was no war there.
The test by which the IDF and the pathological indifference of public opinion should be judged is the following: What would happen if Jewish Israeli demonstrators, ultra-Orthodox or others, threatened to invade the Knesset? Would such insane live fire by tanks or sharpshooters be understood by the public? Would the murder of 15 Jewish demonstrators pass with silence? And if several dozen Palestinians managed to enter Israel, would that justify a massacre?

 

The killing of Palestinians is accepted in Israel more lightly than the killing of mosquitoes. There’s nothing cheaper in Israel than Palestinian blood. If there were a hundred or even a thousand deaths Israel would still “salute” the IDF. This is the army whose commander, the good and moderate Gadi Eisenkot, is received with such pride by Israelis. Of course, in the holiday media interviews, no one asked him about the anticipated massacre and no one will ask him now either.

 

But an army that prides itself on shooting a farmer on his land, showing the video on its website in order to intimidate Gazans; an army that pits tanks against civilians and boasts of one hundred snipers waiting for the demonstrators is an army that has lost all restraint. As if there weren’t other measures. As if the IDF had the authority or right to prevent demonstrations in Gaza, threatening bus drivers not to transport protesters in territory where the occupation has long ended, as everyone knows.

 

PI Whitewash

 

Despairing young men sneak in from Gaza, armed with ridiculous weapons, marching dozens of kilometers without hurting anyone, only waiting to be caught so as to escape Gaza’s poverty in an Israeli jail. This doesn’t touch anyone’s conscience either. The main thing is that the IDF proudly presents its catch. Palestinian President Mahmous Abbas is responsible for the situation in Gaza. And Hamas, of course. And Egypt. And the Arab world and the whole world. Just not Israel. It left Gaza and Israeli soldiers never commit massacres.

 

The names were published in the evening. One man was rising from his prayers, another was shot while fleeing. The names won’t move anyone. Mohammed al-Najar, Omar Abu Samur, Ahmed Odeh, Sari Odeh, Bader al-Sabag. This space is too small, to our horror, to list all their names.

PI=Gaza