Jewish liberals and progressives reacted with enthusiasm to the announcement today that the Vatican will recognize the Palestinian State. 

Rabbi Michael Lernner, editor of Tikkun Magazine: a Quarterly Jewish and Interfaith  Critique of Politics, Culture and Society, the most prominent voice of liberal and progressive Jews and our non-Jewish spiritual progressive allies, released the following statement on May 13:

Many liberal and progressive Jews congratulate the Vatican on the important step toward peace it took yesterday in announcing that it will recognize the State of Palestine.

We have rejoiced in the many steps that Pope Francis has taken to take seriously the biblical injunction to pursue justice and to protect our global environment. Now he has entered a highly contested arena with the courage he has shown on other issues.

At a time when Israel has formed its most reactionary government ever, based on an electoral victory won by Prime Minister Netanyahu after he promised the electorate that there would be no Palestinian state as long as he is in office (his term could last for five years before another election is required), it has become clear to much of the world and to many Jews that the “two state solution” is in danger of becoming little more than a fantasy. The Pope’s action shows a path to non-violently resuscitate the possibility of a Palestinian state.

We at Tikkun want Israel to be strong and secure, and know that the best way to provide for Israel’s security is to achieve a lasting peace with Palestinians based on the creation of a politically and economically viable Palestinian state. We hope that the Vatican’s action will spur countries around the world to take similar actions to recognize the Palestinian state and provide it with the financial resources it needs to build its internal society.

We recognize, however, that it will only be through external pressure that Israelis will be able to move their right-wing government to consider seriously the steps they would need to take to reverse their current direction and provide Palestinians with the rights that we Jews correctly struggled to achieve for ourselves in creating the State of Israel. The chances of that pressure emerging are increased now that the Pope has taken the moral leadership to recognize Palestine. Mazel tov–congratulations–to this inspired Pope as he continues his blessed work!  President Obama could finally earn his Nobel Peace Prize were he to follow the Pope’s leadership on this issue. We understand that President Obama is unlikely to take any steps at this moment that might make more likely attempts by Congress to undermine his path to achieving an agreement by Iran to not develop nuclear weapon. We urge our President to use the occasion of the visit of the Pope to the U.S. in the Fall of 2015 to announce that he will follow the path of the Vatican, recognize Palestine, and pledge to support efforts in the UN Security Council to grant Palestine full membership in the United Nations with all the rights pertaining to a sovereign state.”

  —Rabbi Michael Lerner is editor of Tikkun Magazine: a Quarterly Jewish and Interfaith  Critique of Politics, Culture and Society, rabbi of Beyt Tikkun Synagogue in Berkeley, and author of 11 books including 2 national best-sellerS (Jewish Renewal: A path to Healing and Transformation  and  The Left Hand of God: Taking Back our Country from the Religious Right) and also a book with Cornel West called Jews and Blacks: Let the Healing Begin.


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