Thursday, September 27, 2007

Why Judaism is Disintegrating

The Nation recently ran an article "Progressive Jews Organize" the assumption being that the Jewish community through its places of worship have not been enough involved in social justice issues.

As we read in Our Yom Kippur Service from an article by Tony Karon "In a recent study funded by the Andrea and Charles Bronfman Philanthropies (an important donor to Jewish communal organizations), Professors Steven M. Cohen and Ari Y. Kelman revealed that their survey data had yielded some extraordinary findings: In order to measure the depth of attachment of American Jews to Israel, the researchers asked whether respondents would consider the destruction of the State of Israel a "personal tragedy." Less than half of those aged under 35 answered "yes" and only 54% percent of those aged 35-50 agreed (compared with 78% of those over 65). The study found that only 54% of those under 35 felt comfortable with the very idea of a Jewish state."

In a September 5, 2007, article in the Forward entitled "Attachment to Israel Declining Among Young American Jews" appears the following: "One finding that Cohen, Kelman and Sasson could all agree upon was the positive influence of a trip to Israel. Cohen and Kelman’s study found that attachment levels increased dramatically, particularly among young Jews, after a trip to Israel. This confirmed previous studies, including one co-authored by Sasson, that had documented the rising sense of Jewish attachment among participants in Birthright Israel’s free trips to Israel."

So the solution for the declining numbers of those who consider themselves Jewish is to send young people to Israel. We have heard that from the "continuity" folks for decades who for decades have funded free trips for Jewish high school students to Israel which they believe will permanently attch them to Israel (Judaism?). It is my understanding that these trips (as well as so-called "missions" for Jewish adults) devote little time to a discussion about the discrimiination of Israeli Arabs and Israeli Bedouins or the treatment of Palestinians in the occupied territories. I wonder whether the sponsors of these trips are truly able to shield the participants from the extent of the social injustice actions of the Government of Israel.

By the way, considering that the "solution" for the last few decades is to send young people to Israel and there is a decline in those who consider themselves Jewish and since less than half of those under 35 would consider the destruction of the State of Israel as a personal tragedy,

as the young people say, "How's that working out?"

As I have stated frequently directly or indirectly in many previous posts, I believe that the Government of Israel has for at least 40 years violated not only international law but the core values of Judaism especially the one that demands that we pursue justice.

As I have not as often stated here, but firmly believe, the Jewish community, through its places of worship in the United States for the last 50 years, has defaulted in dealing with any issue that is important in the lives of Jewish people.

"More issues arose during the last three decades - women began to question their roles in society, divorces became rampant, decent safe and sanitary housing became les available, drug and alcohol abuse increased dramatically, the high cost and unavailability of healthcare services became a scandal, divorced people and the elderly began to be isolated, the public school systems started to fail, jobs were lost as downsizing became a reality, and serious questions began to be raised about the quality of our air and water. Those growing up Jewish looked for leadership and guidance on these issues – advice that might mean the difference between a life of dissatisfaction and one of meaning. In many communities Jewish institutions (Federations, Temples and JCC’s) represented by their Boards issued no public statement of concern or passed resolutions directed at any of these issues (although some Rabbis individually became involved)." For more on this read this article.

Maybe it would make sense to recognize that the disintegration of Judaism has been caused by two factors: its irrelevance as practiced in the US to issues that are important to Jewish people (not to speak of the "curse" placed by most rabbis on the love of a Jewish individual for someone who is not Jewish when they refuse to perform or bless their marriage); and the attempt to try to foster support for the State of Israel when what many have read and understood over the last 25 years is that the Government of Israel has been an occupier, oppressor and killer of Palestinians.

When will there be an awakening in the Jewish community in this country that if we want Judaism to survive we should have more Y2US (Youth to the United States) programs where we provide funds so that Israeli young people can come to the United States and participate in some of the social justice programs being organized by progressive Jews.

Let them learn what Judaism is and what it stands for.

Newspaper Bias Masquerading as Fact

From a story in this morning's Boston Globe entitled "Israeli strikes in Gaza kill 7 Palestinians -
Defense minister warns Hamas"

"GAZA CITY - Israeli forces killed seven Palestinians in an air strike and ground assault in the Gaza Strip yesterday, retaliating for a barrage of mortar and rocket fire into southern Israel."

There is a picture which accompanies the story. The caption says

"Palestinians inspected a vehicle in Gaza yesterday after an Israeli air strike. Israel said it was retaliating for a barrage of mortar and rocket fire into southern Israel."

Note that in the story it is stated AS A FACT that the reason for the attack WAS a retaliation for rocket fire into Israel whereas in the caption it says that "Israel said" it was a retaliation.

Big difference.

In any event, you should be aware that nearly all stories about violent military killings by the Government of Israel state that the reasons the GOI has killed Palestinians is because rockets have been shot into Israel (which most of the time cause no injury and property damage.)

Let me know when you read a story that says: Palestinians today shot rockets into Israel in retaliation for the killings caused by the Israeli air strike and ground assault or (for a bigger prize) a story that says that the Palestinians shot their crude rockets into Israel today which landed harmlessly in a field in retaliation for 40 years of oppression by the Government of Israel and the frustration of those in Gaza at having to live in the "largest open prison in the world" and the GOI continuing dashing of the hopes of the Palestinians to have an independent contiguous state.

Rabbis Who Asked That We Atone for Our Sinful Acts Against Palestinians

I just read this in a e-mail I received:

"Rabbis across the United States will extol the virtues and high moral principles of Judaism, yet each one (among those working for a congregation that owns a building) will ignore our guilt in the destruction of Palestinian society."

I have written frequently about the core values of Judaism such as "Justice, justice, shall you pursue", “You shall not wrong a stranger or oppress him, for you were strangers in the land of Egypt”, etc.

How could rabbis during Yom Kippur when we, as Jewish people, atone for our sins not speak out about the violations of these teachings of Judaism by the Government of Israel in its treatment of the Palestinians?

Is the writer of this message correct?

I would appreciate if you would, in a comment, let me know the name of a rabbi who did indeed, in a sermon, ask that the members of the congregation, as a Jewish community, atone for the violations by the Government of Israel of the human and civil rights of Palestinians.

Favorite Blogs

I have not created a Blogroll but I thought I let you know which blogs I review daily. By the way, if are not a blog reader or if you simply go to them separately from your favorites menu, you might want to consider using bloglines which is free. I find it an efficient way to access my favorite blogs.

Each day I first look to see if Richard Silverstein has posted anything about the conflict in Israel/Palestine on Tikun Olam - Make the World a Better Place. He seems to have an extraordinary network and an ability to gather facts from a variety of sources as well as a thoroughly compassionate and passionate belief in social justice.

Although there are very few articles posted on this blog, I do look at Pro-Jewish, Pro-Arab, Pro-Peace to see if Andrew Schamess, Steffi Schamess or Brad Brooks-Rubin have written anything because almost all of their posts are well-written and thoughtful.

Next is Philip Weiss writing as Mondoweiss. One of his recurrent themes is based on him identifying himself as an assimilated Jewish person. While I am still reading The Israel Lobby, I appreciated greatly the articles he has written about the Walt/Mearsheimer book stressing the importance of having open and free discussion about "The Israel Lobby" and its influence on US foreign policy such as "Further Evidence That Walt & Mearsheimer Have Opened Floodgates..." as well as this one "Let Us Praise the Greatest Mensch Who Walks the Earth. Henry Siegman"

Dennis Fox doesn't post often but I enjoy reading what he has to say on his blog. Dennis says, "Much of my academic work addresses the interconnections between psychology, law, and justice. Using a perspective within critical psychology, I'm especially concerned about mainstream psychology's support for an unjust status quo." His current interest is the Israeli/Palestinian conflict.

I also quickly scan "Israel Palestine Blogs (Israeli-Palestinian Peace Blog Aggregator)" for interesting articles. The home page has a blogroll of other blogs you might want to review.

For an in-depth analysis of what is happening in politics (mostly about Iraq and domestic issues, and only occasionally about Israel/Palestine) there is nothing better than Daily Kos. (What follows is primarily from Wikipedia.) Daily Kos was founded by Markos Moulitsas Zuniga (Kos from the last syllable of his first name) in 2002. About a dozen contributing editors provide content for the site. Daily Kos has an average weekday traffic of about 600,000 visits, and has between 14 million and 24 million visits per month. Its ads focus mostly on activist causes, media, and political candidates. Daily Kos members are referred to as Kossacks, a pun on Cossacks. Some of the contributors familiar to me are: BarbinMD (Barbara Morrill); Darksyde; Devilstower (Mark Sumner); Hunter (Michael Lazzaro); Kagro X (David Waldman); mcjoan (Joan McCarter) ; Meteor Blades (Timothy Lange); MissLaura (Laura Clawson); Trapper John (Jake McIntyre).

I have subscribed to many others on Bloglines but I just do not devote the time required to review them. Should you want more suggestions for blogs about Judaism, the Israeli/Palestinian conflict, Iraq, domestic issues, abuse of executive powers by the Bush administration, etc., ask me for what you would like in a comment.

Sunday, September 23, 2007

Our Yom Kippur Service - 5768

Attached below is the handout from the Yom Kippur service attended by four of us which took place on a beach in the North Shore of Massachusetts.
As you read it, pause after each section and ask yourself:
Do you believe that God really wants the children of Israel to pursue justice?
If God makes a decision that the children of Israel have really sinned, like, a lot, according to the writings of the Jewish prophets, will God forgive them if they spend the day of Yom Kippur praying and fasting?
If not, what are the possible actions that God is likely to take?
May you have a healthy year, one that brings us closer to peace on earth.
Ron Fox
Yom Kippur
Judaism and Israel

And it shall be a statute forever unto you: In the seventh month (Tishri), on the tenth day of the month, you shall afflict your souls and do no manner of work. For on this day shall atonement be made for you, to cleanse you; from all your sins shall you be clean before the Lord to make atonement for the children of Israel because of all their sins once in the year.” Leviticus XVI, 29-34.

Why do we fast? In a Haftarah read on Yom Kippur we find the words of ISAIAH 57:14-58:14: NOTE - this was written between 500-400BC) “Why, when we fasted, did you not see? When we starved our bodies, did you pay no heed?” Because on your fast day you see to your business and oppress your workers. Because you fast in strife and contention, and you strike with a wicked fist! Your fasting today is not such as to make your voice heard on high. Is such the fast I desire, a day for men to starve their bodies? Is it bowing the head like a bullrush and lying in sackcloth and ashes? Do you call that a fast, a day when the Lord is favorable? No, this is My chosen fast: to loosen all the bonds that bind men unfairly, to let the oppressed go free, to break every yoke. Share your bread with the hungry, take the homeless into your home. Clothe the naked when you see him, do not turn away from people in need. Then cleansing light shall break forth like the dawn, and your wounds shall soon be healed. Your triumph shall go before you and the Lord’s glory shall be your rearguard. They you shall call and the Lord will answer: you shall cry out and he will say ‘Here I am’

Here is an excerpt from the Haftarah read on Yom Kippur called Acharey Mos written by Ezekiel ABOUT 400-500 BCE reflecting, perhaps on the cause of the destruction of the first temple in 586 BCE and the expulsion of the Israelites to Babylonia: “O city that sheddest blood in the midst of thee, that thy time may come and that makest idols unto thyself to defile thee. …therefore have I made thee a reproach unto the nations, and a mocking to all the countries. Those that are near and those that are far from thee, shall mock thee, thou defiled of name and full of tumult. Behold the princes of Israel, every one according to his might, have been in thee to shed blood. In thee have they made light of father and mother; in the midst of thee have they dealt by oppression with the stranger; in thee have they wronged the fatherless and the widow. Thou hast despised My holy things and hast profaned My sabbaths…. In thee have they taken gifts to shed blood; thou hast taken interest and increase, and thou hast greedily gained of thy neighbors by oppression, and hast forgotten Me, saith the Lord God. Behold, therefore, I have smitten My hand at thy dishonest gain which thou hast made and at thy blood which hath been in the midst of thee. And I will scatter thee among the nations, and disperse thee through the countries; and I will consume thy filthiness out of three. And thou shalt be profaned in thyself in the sight of the nations and thou shalt know that I am the Lord.” Ezekiel XXII, 3-8:


“The Jew’s Great Revolt against Rome in 66 CE led to one of the greatest catastrophes in Jewish life and, in retrospect, might well have been a terrible mistake.” The zealots, active since about 6CE, were anti-Rome and believed that all means were justified to attain political and religious liberty. The revolt began in the north and no help came from Jerusalem. When the north fell to the Romans, the zealots came to Jerusalem, started a suicidal civil war, killing every Jewish leader not as radical as them. Some great figures of ancient Israel, like Rabbi Yochanan ben Zakkai, opposed the revolt. By 70CE, the walls of Jerusalem were breached and the Temple was destroyed leaving only one wall standing (the Western Wall – the Kotel). It is estimated that one million Jews died in the Great Revolt.

After the fall of the temple, the surviving Zealots fled to the fortress of Masada. The Romans laid siege as the Zealots had been in revolt for nearly 70 years and had started the Great Revolt. Eventually the Zealot men killed their wives and children and then each other. This episode is not mentioned in the Talmud. Why? Perhaps there was Rabbinic anger at the extremist Zealots who had died there.

Simon Bar-Kokhba organized a rebellion again the Romans in 132CE. The reasons for the revolt are unclear. There seems no evidence that the Romans were trying to eradicate Judaism. Rabbi Akiva (135CE), perhaps the Talmud’s greatest scholar, was a strong supporter of Bar-Kokhba, saying that he was the Messiah. When it was over and the Romans were victorious, nearly the entire land of Judea lay waste. Fifty percent of the Judea’s population was dead. Rabbi Akiva was executed by burning. Jews were outnumbered by non-Jews. Those who survived were sold into slavery, some women forced into prostitution. “In the opinion of many Jewish historians, the failure of this rebellion along with the Great Revolt was the greatest catastrophe to befall the Jewish people prior to the Holocaust. It led to the total loss of Jewish political authority in Israel until 1948. “This loss in itself exacerbated the magnitude of later Jewish catastrophes, since it precluded Israel from being used as a refuge for the large numbers of Jews fleeing persecutions elsewhere.” In 1980, Israeli General Yehoshafat Harkabi shocked Israeli public opinion by arguing that Simeon Bar-Kokhba initiated a revolt that was unnecessary and unwinnable.”



A debate was held at the Jewish Community Center in Marblehead, Massachusetts, twenty-five years ago on July 29, 1982 - ISRAEL IN LEBANON: Self-Defense or Invasion? Is the Road to Beirut the Path to Peace?
Two hundred attended: Quotes and comments from coverage in the Jewish Journal of the North Shore. Lappin, “Israel’s entry into Lebanon was an act of legitimate self-defense. We should not allow our compassion for innocent civilians who have the ability to save themselves to becloud the grim reality of Arab actions and intentions.” “In order to reach the talking stage, both Lappin and Metser insisted first on the removal of the PLO”. Hurwitz said that the PLO really posed no imminent threat when the moves were taken. “The alternative of negotiating with the Palestinians has been steadfastly refused by the government”. Perlstein “I reject the myth that Israel will attain security and peace by destroying the PLO. .. Those who call for a change of policy are often called traitors or non-supporters of Israel, when in fact it’s the very policy presently pursued that is at the core of what is most dangerous to Israel.”
Prior to that there was an op-ed piece in the New York Times on June 26, 1982 by Roger Hurwitz and Gordon Fellman: “Under present international conditions, there is little likelihood that Prime Minister Menachem Begin will get the strong Lebanese government – that is, one dominated by Phalangists – that he seeks. His further pursuit of it would entail a prolonged Israeli occupation and strain his country’s resources and morale.….. West Bank Palestinians were moved to protests by expropriation of lands they worked, suppression of their cultural institutions and denial of political rights. … for three decades, Israeli officials boasted that their armed forces respected the lives of innocents … Such claims can no longer be believed, not even by the Israeli public. Until now fear of disunity has muffled public criticism by American Jews of Israel’s approach to the Palestinian issue. This fear must be overcome, for at stake are Israel’s moral future and the identity of Jews everywhere as moral agents.”
And in September, 1982 a letter was send to Ambassador Arens stating in part: “We insist upon the withdrawal of Israeli troops from Beirut and ultimately Lebanon. We urge that the Israeli government recognize the human rights and needs of the Palestinian people.”
One reaction to this 1982 invasion and occupation of Lebanon by the government of Israel was the formation of Hezbollah!!


And now in Israel and the West Bank and Gaza where brutality, injustice and stupidity (or insanity) is mistaken for acceptable political behavior, the government of Israel (“GOI”) continues to take steps to insure that one by one every country in the world will consider Israel as the greatest threat to peace next to the United States.
Is there anyone, anyone, out there who now honestly believes that the GOI will participate in an effort to bring about a just peace for the Palestinians in the West Bank or in Gaza?
Todays article in the Boston Globe describes the participation by Mr Olmert in the discussion with three other leaders in Sharm el-Sheik, Jordan's King Abdullah II, President Hosni Mubarak of Egypt and Abbas. This is another in a series of pretend moves by the GOI to give the slightest appearance that it is, what is the phrase that is used in American Jewish Committee million dollar marketing campaigns, “constantly striving for peace”.
Olmert also pledged to make it easier for Palestinians to travel in the West Bank and to renew trade ties between Israel and the Palestinians. Palestinians have called on Israel to remove some of the 500 checkpoints that strangle commerce and restrict movement for 2.5 million Palestinians living in the West Bank. But Israeli military officials have advised the government against such a move, citing fears of new suicide attacks.”
Another disingenuous pledge, a transparent and false manipulative use of “security” blamed on the military. There are only a few checkpoints between the West Bank and Israel. The other 400 or so are within the West Bank and are there either to protect the Jewish Israeli squatters (which makes it clear that the government of Israel has no intention of dismantling the squatterments) or to harass the Palestinians (so that family by family they will leave “judea and samaria).
“But they parted ways on the topic of how best to bolster Abbas and create a new Israeli-Palestinina peace process. Olmert voiced strong support for the Palestinian president. Unlike Hamas leaders, Abbas has renounced violence, recognizes Israel, and is committed to a two-state peace agreement. Olmert rebuffed Egyptian, Jordanian, and Palestinian demands for an immediate resumption of peace talks and a timeline for a final deal to create a Palestinian state. Abdullah told the gathering that unless Israel makes such broad gestures, hope will fade for moderate Palestinians and the forces of militancy will grow stronger.”
Israeli officials said that such developments were impossible as long as the split between the Abbas-backed government in the West Bank and the Hamas-led government in Gaza was not resolved.”
The GOI knows that Fatah is weak and that Hamas is growing stronger and gaining more and more support every day among Palestinians. The comment of the "Israeli officials", if it is true that they made it, that the resolution of the split between Fatah and Hamas is a precondition to peace talks, is the equivalent of the clock striking thirteen. No longer can anyone take seriously the GOI excuses; i.e., the Palestinians must stop their violence, there is no partner for peace, there can never be a Palestinian right of return.
September 16, 2007
JERUSALEM - Prime Minister Ehud Olmert of Israel delayed a plan to release from prison scores of members of Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas's secular Fatah movement, Israeli officials said yesterday. Officials said Olmert had planned to ask the Cabinet today to release more prisoners, but the item was removed from the agenda amid fears that it would not garner enough support. Plans to release more prisoners have already been delayed once. One government official, who asked not to be named, said the vote had been delayed because a list of prisoners had not been agreed upon. Palestinian officials said that Olmert told Abbas at a meeting Monday he would ask his Cabinet to approve the prisoner release as a good-will gesture for the Ramadan fasting month, which began last week. Israel had been expected to free about 100 Fatah prisoners.

September 16, 2007
JERUSALEM --Prime Minister Ehud Olmert indicated on Sunday that there would be no major breakthroughs in peacemaking ahead of a U.S.-sponsored peace conference this fall, prompting a Palestinian threat to skip the gathering. The crisis erupted just days before the arrival of Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, who is expected in the region Tuesday to gauge progress on preparations for the conference. U.S. officials have said little about the meeting's agenda, and the list of participants has not been set. At a meeting of his Kadima Party, Olmert dismissed recent reports that he and Abbas had agreed on binding principles to guide peace talks, officials said. Instead, he said he and the Palestinian leader would go no further than a non-binding declaration of intent. "There is a difference between an agreement on principles and a declaration of intent," a participant in the meeting cited Olmert as saying, speaking on condition of anonymity because the meeting was closed. Without the outlines of a final peace deal, the Palestinians say, the conference will be a failure. "If Olmert says there'll just be a declaration, it's not worth going to this meeting," said Nimr Hamad, an adviser to Abbas

September 19, 2007
JERUSALEM (CNN) -- The Israeli security Cabinet declared Hamas-controlled Gaza a "hostile entity" Wednesday in response to continued Palestinian rocket attacks. The unanimous Cabinet vote represents a major escalation in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. Under a plan proposed by Israeli Defense Minister Ehud Barak, Israel would disrupt electrical supplies, reduce fuel shipments to a bare minimum to run hospital generators, and choke off shipments of goods to allow only essential food and medicine to enter Gaza. In addition, it will continue military operations "against terror organizations." The ministers, however, voted not to disrupt the water supply to
Gaza, the home of 1.4 million Palestinians. Israel Radio reported that Hamas leader Ismail Haniya had met with a leader of Islamic Jihad to push for a halt in the firing of Qassam rockets into Israel. Israeli Internal Security Minister Avi Dichter said the declaration would enable certain sanctions to be taken, but those sanctions would not cross "the red line when it came to humanitarian needs," he said in a radio interview. An Israeli government statement said, "The Hamas organization is a terror organization that seized control of the Gaza Strip and turned into a hostile area. This organization carries out hostile actions against the state of Israel and its citizens and are responsible for this activity. "In light of this it was decided to adopt the recommendations that the Defense establishment made which include continued military activity against the terror organizations. "In addition there will be further limiting on the Hamas government in a way that will limit the transferring of goods to Gaza, reducing the supply of electricity and fuel and will limit the movement of people in and out of Gaza." In recent months, Palestinian militants have fired hundreds of unguided and crudely made Qassam rockets into Israel, primarily at the southern Israeli city of Sderot. Last week, a rocket landed in the middle of an army camp wounding some 69 soldiers, seven of them moderately to seriously.

It is similar, I think, to another one – “self-hating Jew” - frequently attributed usually to those who criticize the actions of the government of Israel.
Any analysis I undertake of the government of Israel’s actions begins with the question “What Does Judaism Have to Say about This?”
There is certainly much history to draw on to support the writer’s argument that Jews have been oppressed and killed simply for being Jewish and for being committed to Judaism.
Faced with that, where should we turn to guide us on what we should do and how we should act?
One approach is to say that “they” are all against us, “they” can not be trusted, and “they” want to kill us. The only criteria for anything we do is “Is it in the immediate best interests of Jewish people”? Therefore, if we disagree with “them” we can not hope for “them” to be reasonable, so we need to resort to force.
Certainly, one can find some support for this approach in Jewish writings such as the Book of Joshua. It was Joshua’s responsibility to establish the people in the land, divide it up among them, and destroy or drive out the natives of Canaan so that they would not pollute Israel with idolatry and evil ways. And Joshua did that well in Jericho. The city was completely destroyed, and every man, woman, and child in it was killed except Rahab and her family because she had hid the two spies sent by Joshua. After this Joshua burned the remains of the city.
I have a different perspective – one that believes that the core value of Judaism is stated in Deuteronomy 16:20
“Justice, Justice shalt thou follow, that thou mayest live, and inherit the land which the Lord thy God giveth thee.”
With that in mind how should I, as a person who has a strong commitment to Judaism, react when I review what the government of Israel has done or been responsible for over the last 40 years in the West Bank and Gaza: i.e.,
1. Demolished homes and businesses not for security purposes but for building without a permit because the government of Israel does not issue any permits for Palestinians to build: And I read Exodus 22:20-21 And a stranger shalt thou not wrong, neither shalt thou oppress him: for ye were strangers in the land of Egypt. Ye shall not afflict any widow, or fatherless child.
2. Permitted the establishment of over 120 illegal settlements, built hundreds of checkpoints, road closures and road blockades, the effect of which has been to humiliate Palestinians and restrict their movement in such a way as to deny them access to employment, medical services, schools and colleges, and their agricultural lands; And I read The definition of Judaism “What is hateful unto you, do not do unto your neighbor”, Hillel
3. Held Palestinians in administrative detention for long periods of time without bringing charges; engaged in torture; carried out assassinations of “suspected” militants; failed to restrain settler attacks on Palestinians; And I read Isaiah 1:17,27 “Learn to do well – seek justice, relieve the oppressed, judge the fatherless, plead for the widow .. Zion shall be redeemed with justice, and they that return of her with righteousness.”
4. Illegally took private land that belonged to Palestinians to build settlements; is building a wall that cuts off Palestinian access to their land and takes land far inside the green line; enforces lockdowns and lengthy curfews; And I read “If I am not for myself, who will be for me, and if I am only for myself, what am I? And if not now, when?” Hillel
5. Ignored soaring unemployment, malnutrition and terrible poverty of millions of Palestinians, And I read Exodus Rabbah, Mishpatim 31:14 “If all afflictions in the world were assembled on one side of the scale and poverty on the other, poverty would outweigh them all.”
6. Destroyed olive trees, a primary source of income for many Palestinian families. And I read Deuteronomy 20:19 “When you besiege a city … you shall not destroy its (fruit) trees … You eat of them, do not cut them down; for man’s life depends on the trees of the field.
And then I read the footnote of Deuteronomy 16:20 in the Hertz Second Edition 1980 of The Pentateuch and Haftorahs“(T)here is international justice, which demands respect for the personality of every national group, and proclaims that no people can of right be robbed of its national life or territory, its language or spiritual heritage.”
My conclusion based on my reading of these Jewish writings, is that the actions of the government of Israel in the occupied territories over the last 40 years violate the core values of Judaism.
But the government of Israel is not solely to blame. As I understand it, all the descendants of those who were in the desert have a responsibility to understand and live lives guided by these core values.
So we are all responsible for the treatment of the Palestinians.
What if we, as followers of Judaism, don’t speak out and bring pressure on the government of Israel to seek justice, to relieve the oppressed, to judge the fatherless and plead for the widow?
Here’s someone who thinks that the consequences could be quite severe.“Thou hast greedily gained of thy neighbors by oppression and hast forgotten Me, saith the Lord God. Behold, therefore, I have smitten My hand at thy dishonest gain which thou hast made, and at thy blood which hath been in the midst of thee.” Ezekiel 22:12-13
And another voice from again Exodus 22:20-21 but adding to it the verses (22-23) that follow: Exodus 22:20-23 And a stranger shalt thou not wrong, neither shalt thou oppress him: for ye were strangers in the land of Egypt. Ye shall not afflict any widow, or fatherless child. If those afflict them in any wise – for if they cry at all unto Me, I will surely hear their cry –My wrath shall wax hot, and I will kill you with the sword; and your wives shall be widows, and your children fatherless.
Aren’t we obligated to work toward ending the occupation?
And if we do, isn’t it inconsistent and inappropriate to label those critics of the government of Israel who are committed to Judaism and who apply the teachings of Judaism to the actions of that government “self-hating Jews?”

What is likely to happen if we don’t repent?
This prayer is K’riat Sh’ma and is read after the V’ohavtah:

“If you will earnestly heed the commandments I give you this day, to love the Lord your God and to serve him with all your heart and all your soul, then I will favor your land with rain at the proper searson – rain in autumn and rain in spring – and you will have an ample harvest of grain and wine and oil. I will assure abundance in the fields for your cattle. You will eat to contentment. Take care lest you be tempted to forsake God and turn to false gods in worship. For then the wrath of the Lord will be directed against you. He will close the heavens and hold back the rain: the earth will not yield its produce. You will soon disappear from the good land which the Lord gives you.

For the sin which we have sinned against You
When we did not say a word about the missiles falling on Sderot until we wanted to justify our protest against missiles falling on Gaza and Lebanon.
When we failed to distinguish between genuine self defense and the use of exaggerated deadly force.
When we said that everything is permitted in the name of our defense.
By allowing the Israeli governments to continue steal land, demolish homes, pave roads, uproot Trees, limit the flow of basic goods, torture, and abuse and humiliate.
By saying that only Jews have rights to the Land.
When we found excuses for collective punishment and the harming of civilians.
When we used force before looking for other options.
Through baseless hatred of all who are not “us.”
By feeling only our own pain, closing our minds to the agony of bereaved Arab mothers and fathers.
By abusing others and calling it Your Will.
By thinking to ourselves and by whispering in closed rooms about that which we should have shouted from the rooftops.
Because we didn’t want to know how we could have helped.
When we said that Tikun Olam (Repairing the World) is “In the heavens” or “Across the sea,” and thus beyond our capability.
For all these and more, God of forgiveness, we ask forgiveness, pardon, and atonement.
May the words and the intentions of our prayer bring us to true repentance and lead us forward to acts of righteousness and tzedaka, in order to make our world a place in which Shechina can dwell.

An advantage of participating in an observance with others is that not only the individual but the entire group atones for the wrongs it has committed during the previous year and, hopefully, will consider making positive changes in the way it operates. In fact, in the Viddui, or confessional, the individual reciting the prayer says “we” to make it clear that each of us is responsible for not only our own acts but also for those of the entire Jewish community.)

Although you wouldn't know it -- not if you followed Jewish life simply through the activities of such major Jewish communal bodies as the Conference of Presidents of American Jewish Organizations and the Anti-Defamation League -- the extent to which the eight million Jews of the Diaspora identify with Israel is increasingly open to question (much to the horror of the Zionist-oriented Jewish establishment). In a recent study funded by the Andrea and Charles Bronfman Philanthropies (an important donor to Jewish communal organizations), Professors Steven M. Cohen and Ari Y. Kelman revealed that their survey data had yielded some extraordinary findings: In order to measure the depth of attachment of American Jews to Israel, the researchers asked whether respondents would consider the destruction of the State of Israel a "personal tragedy." Less than half of those aged under 35 answered "yes" and only 54% percent of those aged 35-50 agreed (compared with 78% of those over 65). The study found that only 54% of those under 35 felt comfortable with the very idea of a Jewish state.
As groups such as the Jewish Agency in Israel (which aims to promote Jewish immigration) and the American Jewish committee expressed dismay over the findings, Cohen and Kelman had more bad news: They believed they were seeing a long-term trend that was unlikely to be reversed, as each generation of American Jews becomes even more integrated into the American mainstream than its parents and grandparents had been. The study, said Cohen, reflected "very significant shifts that have been occurring in what it means to be a Jew."
Cohen's and Kelman's startling figures alone underscore the absurdity of Shepherd's suggestion that to challenge Israel is to "defame an entire people." They also help frame the context for what I would call an emerging Jewish glasnost in which Jewish critics of Israel are increasingly willing to make themselves known. When I arrived in the United States 13 years ago, I was often surprised to find that people with whom I seemed to share a progressive, cosmopolitan worldview would suddenly morph into raging ultranationalists when the conversation turned to Israel. Back then, it would have seemed unthinkable for historian Tony Judt to advocate a binational state for Israelis and Palestinians or for Washington Post columnist Richard Cohen to write that "Israel itself is a mistake. It is an honest mistake, a well-intentioned mistake, a mistake for which no one is culpable, but the idea of creating a nation of European Jews in an area of Arab Muslims (and some Christians) has produced a century of warfare and terrorism of the sort we are seeing now." Unthinkable, too, was the angry renunciation of Zionism by Avrum Burg, former speaker of Israel's Knesset.
The Ferocity of Nationalism, The Universality of Justice
More immediately threatening to the Zionist establishment, however, is another reality: Many Jews are beginning to make once unthinkable criticisms of Israel's behavior. If you want to bludgeon Jewish critics with the charge of "anti-Semitism" when they challenge Israel's actions, then it's hardly helpful to have other Jews standing up and expressing the same thoughts. It undermines the sense, treasured by Israel's most fervent advocates, that they represent a cast-iron consensus among American Jews in particular.
That much has been clear in the response to the publication of John Mearsheimer and Steven Walt's controversial new book The Israeli Lobby and U.S. Foreign Policy, which challenges the wisdom and morality of the unashamed and absolute bias in U.S. foreign policy towards Israel. In an exchange on the NPR show Fresh Air, Walt was at pains to stress, as in his book, that the Israel Lobby, as he sees it, is not a Jewish lobby, but rather an association of groupings with a right-wing political agenda often at odds with majority American-Jewish opinion.
Just last week, Danny Rubinstein, senior correspondent covering Palestinian affairs for the Israeli newspaper Haaretz, was slated to speak to the British Zionist Federation – and then, at the last minute, his speech was canceled. The reason? Rubinstein had pointed out that "today Israel is an apartheid state with different status for different communities." (While many liberal Jewish Americans can't bring themselves to accept the apartheid comparison, that's not true of their Israeli counterparts who actually know what's going on in the West Bank. Former education minister Shulamit Aloni, for example, or journalist Amira Hass use the comparison. (The comparison first occurred to me on a visit to Kibbutz Yizreel in 1978, when the elders of my Zionist youth movement, Habonim, who had emigrated from South Africa to Israel, warned that the settlement policy of the then-new Likud government was designed to prevent Israel letting go of the West Bank. The population there, they told us, would never be given the right to vote in Israel, and so the result would be, as they presciently put it, "an apartheid situation.")
Use of the term "apartheid" in reference to the occupation does draw the attention of those who prefer to look away from the fact that Israel is routinely engaged in behavior democratic society has deemed morally odious and unacceptable when it has occurred in other contexts. It is precisely because that fact makes them uncomfortable, I suspect, that they react so emotionally to the A-word. Take black South Africans who suffered under apartheid on a visit to the West Bank -- a mild-mannered moderate Nobel Peace Prize winner such as Bishop Desmond Tutu, for example -- ask them about the validity of the comparison, and you know the answer you're going to get.
Moreover, it's an answer with which a growing number of Jews, who place the universal, ethical and social justice traditions of their faith above those of narrow tribalism, are willing to deal.
In an earlier commentary, perhaps presaging his break with Zionism, Burg noted in 2002:
Yes, we Israelis have revived the Hebrew language, created a marvelous theater and a strong national currency. Our Jewish minds are as sharp as ever. We are traded on the Nasdaq. But is this why we created a state? The Jewish people did not survive for two millennia in order to pioneer new weaponry, computer security programs or antimissile missiles. We were supposed to be a light unto the nations. In this we have failed. It turns out that the 2,000-year struggle for Jewish survival comes down to a state of settlements, run by an amoral clique of corrupt lawbreakers who are deaf both to their citizens and to their enemies. A state lacking justice cannot survive. More and more Israelis are coming to understand this as they ask their children where they expect to live in 25 years. Children who are honest admit, to their parents' shock, that they do not know."
Although I am not religious, I share Burg's view that universal justice is at the heart of the Jewish tradition.
Growing up in apartheid South Africa was an object lesson in Jewish ethics. Yes, there was plenty of anti-Semitism in the colonial white society of my childhood, but the mantle of victimhood belonged to others. And if you responded to the in-no-way-exclusively-so, but very Jewish impulse to seek justice, you found yourself working side by side not only with the remarkable number of Jews who filled leadership roles in the liberation movement, but also with Christians, Muslims, Hindus, and others.
Judaism's universal ethical calling can't really be answered if we live only among ourselves -- and Israel's own experience suggests it's essentially impossible to do so without doing injustice to others. Israel is only 59 years old, a brief moment in the sweep of Jewish history, and I'd argue that Judaism's survival depends instead on its ability to offer a sustaining moral and ethical anchor in a world where the concepts of nation and nationality are in decline (but the ferocity of nationalism may not be). Israel's relevance to Judaism's survival depends first and foremost on its ability, as Burg points out, to deliver justice, not only to its citizens, but to those it has hurt.

What will happen if we do repent? Again written sometime between 500-400 BCE by ISAIAH 57:14-58:14 and in the Haftarah read on Yom Kippur: “If you remove from your midst the yoke of oppression, the finder of scorn and the tongue of malice, if you put yourself out for the hungry and relieve the wretched, then shall your light shine in the darkness and your gloom shall be as noonday. And the Lord will guide you continually. He will refresh you in dry places, renewing your strength. And you shall be like a watered garden, like a never-failing spring. And you shall rebuild ancient ruins, restoring old foundations. You shall be known as the rebuilders of broken wells, the restorer of dwellings places.”

We conclude with this Yom Kippur prayer:

May we see the day when war and bloodshed cease
When a great peace will embrace the whole world
Then nation will not threaten nation,
And mankind will not again know war.
For all who live on earth shall realize
We have not come into being to hate or destroy
We have come into being
To praise to labor and to love
Compassionate God, bless the leaders of all nations
With the power of compassion
Fulfill the promise conveyed in Scripture
I will bring peace to the land
And you shall lie down and no one shall terrify you
I will rid the land of vicious beasts
And it shall not be ravaged by war
Let love and justice flow like a mighty stream
Let peace fill the earth as the waters fill the sea.
And let us say: Amen