Of course Jerusalem is the capital of the State of Israel. But it is also the capital of the State of Palestine, currently occupied by the Israeli army and unable to exercise its sovereignty in the Arab parts of Jerusalem that will some day be an integral part of the Palestinian state. To ignore this fact, and instead play to the most reactionary element of the Israeli people and of the Jewish people around the world is to not only be ignorant and arrogant, but also terribly destructive to the possibility of the U.S. playing a constructive role in bringing an end ot the Israeli/Palestinian struggle.
Those of us American Jews who seek an end to that struggle recognize that a lasting peace with justice for both sides can only be achieved through a new spirit of generosity and repentance from both sides. Instead, by clumsily and stupidly wading in to this struggle and endorsing Israel’s side on one of the central issues of the struggle, namely the future status of Jerusalem, Trump weakens the hand of those in the Palestinian world who want to achieve reconciliation with Israel and strengthens the hands of the Palestinians who have given up on achieving peace through negotiations. Trump has therefore given a gift to Hamas just as he has given a gift to the Israeli settlers and extremists whose goal is to achieve ethnic cleansing by making life intolerable for Palesitnians both within Israel’s pre 1967 boundaries and inside the West Bank, while simultaneously weakening the Israeli peace camp.
To those of us who seek peace, there is no question that the Old City of Jerusalem does not “belong” to any one religion or people–it is a holy site for Jews, Muslims and Christians, and should eventually become an international city that is open to all. West Jerusalem is already appropriately the location of the Knesset and major parts of the government of Israel. East Jerusalem, long the spiritual center of the Palestinian state, must become its official capital as soon as Israel is willing to let that happen or as soon as the international community can use whatever means are at its disposal to make that happen. In the meantime, Trump has pushed that date further into the future, thereby putting Israel and Palestine both into danger of renewed violence and further entrenching hatreds that must be healed. Shame on Trump and shame of those who support this arrogant and destructive act.
As Jews approach the celebration of Chanukah, our own national liberation struggle against the occupation of Judea by an oppressive imperial power that culminated in 165 BCE with the purification and rededication of the ancient Temple in Jerusalem, many of us in Israel and the U.S. will rededicate ourselves to seeking for the Palestinian people the same rights and dignity of national self-determination that we rightly fought for in creating the State of Israel in 1948. Many of us recognize, however, that in the coming decades we must also seek to overcome the poison of all forms of nationalism, and develop instead a commitment to the well-being of all people on this planet and a priority attention to saving our planet from the environmental destruction that Trump’s policies are advancing but which ultimately are rooted in the ethos of the global competitive market system with its imperative of unlimited growth and its promotion of selfishness, “me-first-ism” that is at the core of every nationalist venture, materialism, and hence a rebellion against the core values of Judaism, Christianity, and Islam (and many forms of secular humanism as well as strands in every religion). As the Torah makes clear, from the standpoint of the Jewish god YHVH, noone has a RIGHT to any part of the earth–so it hears God as saying kee kol ha’aretz (“the whole earth belongs to ME”) as YHVH’s response to those who refuse to share it and redistribute its produce every seven years in the Sabbatical year and every 50 years in a fundamental redistribution of all wealth in the Jubilee (Yovel). Woe to all of us on this planet until we take this teaching seriously–and let the lights of peace and freedom overshadow the acts of hatred, selfishness and me-firstism that are polluting our planet and the ethical foundations of a sane society.
Blessings to all as the holiday season for many religions approaches.
Rabbi Michael Lerner
Editor, Tikkun Magazine:
www.tikkun.org 510 644 1200 email: RabbiLerner.firstname.lastname@example.org
Chair, The Network of Spiritual Progressives www.spiritualprogressives.org
Rabbi, Beyt Tikkun Synagogue-Without-Walls in S.F. and Berkeley, Ca. www.beyttikkun.org 510 644 1200 email@example.com
Jewish Renewal: A path to healing and transformation; Embracing Israel/Palestine; The Left Hand of God: Taking Back our Country from the Religious Right; Spirit Matters; The Politics of Meaning; with Cornel West: Jews and Blacks–Let the Healing Begin; The Socialism of Fools: Anti-Semitism on the Left; Surplus Powerlessness: The Psychodynamics of Daily Life and Work; and more.
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