Regarding Rabbi Eric Solomon’s Aug. 31 Point of View piece about his recent experience in Israel: He wrote about the fear he and his family experienced when they had to go to air raid shelters. His heart broke at the thought of the death of the children in Gaza but at the same time he was sure the Israeli attack was unequivocally justified. This contradiction produced extreme angst, a paralyzing sadness.
He explained this in Jewish theological terms: Jews in their very origin are a people who do not focus exclusively on themselves but open their hearts to others even though this may bring angst. Being of Christian origin, I know this is also a core Christian belief and, of course, Islamic as well.
Three decades ago, at the funeral for my wife’s grandmother, the rabbi began by saying: “We are here to mourn the death of this woman unlike the Arabs who do not mourn their dead.” My wife said she was so angry that day that she could not mourn.
No doubt Rabbi Solomon would disapprove, but it is a symptom of how deeply, in his words, “unfeeling tribalism” is embedded in critical parts of the American Jewish community. Solomon sees an absence of angst in both right-wing Israelis and Hamas. True enough, but the right-wing is in command in Israel. In this country, AIPAC, the right-wing Jewish lobbying organization, has conducted a remarkably successful campaign to tie the U.S. Congress, left and right, to Israeli policies. Presidents, too, acquiesce.
Across the West Bank, Israel has continuously seized Palestinian land and locked Palestinians into ever-shrinking, isolated reservations. The army protects the half million “settlers” who have moved in. This is conquest clothed in religion, a thing that has occurred often because it works so well.
Today, the colonization appears to have gone past the point where a “two-state” solution is possible. Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has made it clear enough: Israel will always control the West Bank for “security” reasons. Israel today has its solution, and it is the one-state solution. The displacement of the Palestinians will continue apace while the U.S. continues to block every attempt at justice in the U.N.
Antony Lerman wrote recently in his essay, “The End of Liberal Zionism,” that “Israel is not Judaism” and liberal illusions about two states are at an end. Miko Peled, an Israeli-born Jew, argues for the creation of a democratic one-state country based on the separation of church and state. This would allow for democracy for all and for people of all faiths, or no faith, to have the possibility of opening their hearts to each other. It is a proven model.
Lerman hopes to see paralyzing liberal angst transcended and turned into an activist political force that will set things right. He has been called a “self-hating Jew.” If all Americans of good will would unite with this, it might have a chance. Ironically, they will be called “anti-Semites.”
Jerry Carr, Ph.D.