Entering into politics so as to practice the most cherished of activities of liberal/progressive Jews, some Rabbis – and Cantors - have found the time to sign on a petition that has been published (the New York Times splashed it). I presume, a la American liberal Jewish practice, they view this action as a supreme expression of their deep commitment to Jewish values. Unfortunately, I suspect that their liberalism has become their religion whereas their Jewish values have become no more than their expressions of culture.
The letter, sponsored by J Street, Rabbis for Human Rights and Americans for Peace Now, some of the most extremist groups still within the Zionist tent, seems, though, to contradict Lyndon Johnston''s famous quip about tents and directions for urinating.
Addressed to "Dear Prime Minister Netanyahu" and after the pro-forma but meaningless notation that they are "deeply committed to the long-term security and viability of Israel as a Jewish and democratic state" and have "raised millions of dollars to develop the State of Israel and its civil society" (that wouldn''t be a veiled boycott threat, would it?) they formulate their politics:
…the ultimate safety and security of Israel as a Jewish state will depend on reaching a peace agreement that also allows Palestinians to live safely and securely in their own state . . . We fear that building settlements in E1 would be the final blow to a peaceful solution . . . it will cut East Jerusalem off from its West Bank surroundings and effectively bifurcate the West Bank . . .
They then assert that all this
…would violate repeated commitments to the United States, dating back to 1994, not to build settlements in the area . . . we urge you to cease plans to construct new settlements in E1, elsewhere in the West Bank, or in East Jerusalem. We pray that you follow Aaron’s example by returning to the negotiating table as quickly as possible.
And, they include this additional statement:
The current situation in the occupied territories violates Palestinian human rights and undercuts the very values on which Israel was founded – democracy, liberty, justice, and peace.
Another instance of the Phenomenon of the Brazen American Liberal Rabbi (and Cantor).
In the first place, that "bifurcation" is pure BS. There is continguity. And even if it were true, since the Arabs have been demanding the bifurcation of Israel in the form of a corridor from Gaza to the area of Ramallah, and, as this JCPA illustration there shows, what''s wrong with it?
If it''s good enough for Israel, why not for the Pals.? Preferetnial Pal. behavior?
And that is always the failing of such liberal Rabbis (and Cantors). They are of the "Blame Israel" Gang. Always highlight Israel''s foibles, real or mostly misrepresented or usually false, and never, but never preach to the Arabs. Do not highlight their immorality, their violations of agreements.
Secondly, assuming a stand against construction in the new Jerusalem neighborhoods, part of historic Jerusalem as decided upon by the United Nations in drawing the boundaries for the city in its November 29, 1947 partition proposal which were
the present municipality of Jerusalem plus the surrounding villages and towns, the most eastern of which shall be Abu Dis; the most southern, Bethlehem; the most western, Ein Karim (including also the built-up area of Motsa); and the most northern, Shu''fat,
they are now placing themselves outside the tent. (And to explain my use of “historical boundaries” - since the US and other countries refuse to recognize Israel''s sovereignty in the city, westside, eastside, all around the town, based on the fact that the Partition Proposal was the last valid statement on the situation on the ground from a geopolitical standpoint, I use it to define the municipal boundaries of the city which is no worse that Olmert claiming about the city).
Thirdly, those "commitments to the United States, dating back to 1994" were superseded by the 2004 Bush Letter which President Obama has reneged on. Since I presume they are so very close to the President, can they exert their influence more on behalf of Israel''s true security requirements and get Obama to get back of the track of ''no light'' between the US and Israel?
One last, fourth, comment. When emphasizing that Israel''s policies supposedly undercut "the very values on which Israel was founded – democracy, liberty, justice, and peace", can they ever mention, or mentally recall, the other values, despite the fact that to be exact, the word "democracy" doesn''t appear in Israel''s Declaration of Statehood (what does appear is the ensuring of "complete equality of social and political rights to all its inhabitants irrespective of religion, race or sex") .
Values like re-establishing the Jewish People "in their ancient homeland", which includes Jerusalem as well as Judea and Samaria, the "right of the Jewish people to national rebirth in its own country", "the natural right of the Jewish people to be masters of their own fate, like all other nations, in their own sovereign State". Those are the phrases of that Declaration.
And among the values declared, we should not forget, dear Rabbis and Cantors, there were these: "freedom, justice and peace as envisaged by the prophets of Israel", prophets who lived, like Amos, who was among the herdmen of Tekoa, or Jeremiah, who was of the priests that were in Anathot in the land of Benjamin or Isaiah, who lived in an undivided Jerusalem who envisioned a Temple on Mount Moriah and requested, Come ye, and let us go up to the mountain of the LORD (and you know, Rabbis, how not easy it is for Jews to ascend to the Temple Mount and act as Jews there despite the document you quote from wherein it is written the state "will safeguard the Holy Places of all religions"), or Joel who wrote " Beat your plowshares into swords, and your pruning-hooks into spears;", not exactly a normative pacific attitude.
In 1948, the founders of Israel appealed "to the Jewish people throughout the Diaspora to rally round the Jews of Eretz-Israel in the tasks of immigration and upbuilding and to stand by them in the great struggle for the realization of the age-old dream - the redemption of Israel".
We still expect them to do so.
Put that in you pulpit.