- Israeli Arrogance(After the Burning to Death of a Palestinian infant and his father)
When will israelis stop their settlers from killing Palestinians? The simple answer is, “never—not while the Occupation continues.” As long as Israeli settlers remain in the West Bank, protected by the Israeli Army and armed with the teachings that have led them to believe that Palestinians have no right to be there, a faction of the settlers will choose violence over negotiation as a means to achieve the Palestinians’ removal. Most Israelis and most American Jews are almost totally unaware of the ongoing harassment that the settlers frequently visit on their Palestinian neighbors: they uproot their olive trees, destroy their fields, attack their homes, and have physically assaulted Palestinian men, women, and children. This aggression is supplemented by acts of violence on the part of the IDF as it tries to enforce the Occupation.
Such accounts are readily available online at the Israeli newspaper Haaretz, and are documented by B’Tselem, The Israeli Information Center for Human Rights in the Occupied Territories (btselem.org), and by various Israeli organizations like Breaking the Silence, a group of former IDF soldiers who are morally outraged by what they were ordered to do by their IDF superiors. Nevertheless, most Israelis and American Jews do not wish to know about any of this. They rarely consult these reports, because doing so might weaken their ability to blindly support Israeli policies regardless of how far those policies and the daily realities they create diverge from the Jewish values that many Jews still uphold when it comes to issues unrelated to Israel.
Israeli policies and Israeli arrogance are the major reason for the deplorable growth of anti-Semitism around the world. Those who cheer on Israel’s current policies, including many American Jews who think they are doing the Jewish people a favor or performing an act of loyalty, are actually Israel’s and the Jewish people’s worst enemies. They empower the racists and haters who run Israel today to continue policies that would rightly offend any human being on the planet who’s paying attention.
Much as they try to hide from themselves what they are doing—either by repeating the pathetic excuse that the world wants to destroy all Jews, or the irrelevant claim that ISIS and Hamas are far worse (yes, they are!)—the behavior of the Israeli government, endorsed by the Israeli majority, is a shanda, a true chillul ha’shem, a desecration of God’s name when Judaism is invoked to defend violent Israeli policies.
This is not the Judaism that I and many of my rabbinic colleagues teach in our synagogues, and it is not a Judaism that is sustainable. Much as I believe in the need for compassion for the traumas that distort the consciousness of both Israelis and Palestinians, we also need to address the moral distortions on every side of this and all such struggles with tough love and unwillingness to tolerate violence. We at Tikkun have many times unequivocally condemned Palestinian violence against Israelis and we have for thirty years now been a voice of prophetic critique of our own people when that is appropriate. And it is certainly appropriate to criticize the policies of the current Israeli government.