Admittedly, the signatories to this statement are all American Rabbis. It would be more encouraging still if a hundred or so Israeli rabbis signed a similar statement. Even so, this is a significant step forward and another solid indication that not all Jews support the war-mongering of the Israeli President.
The most impressive thing about this statement, from my perspective, is the open confession of the history of willful violence enacted on Iran by the United States. Even so, it is disappointing that the great elephant in the room – namely, the massive Israeli stockpile of nuclear weapons – doesn’t get a mention.
Step by Step toward Shalom with Iran
As Rabbis, Cantors, and other Clergy serving the American Jewish community, we are deeply committed, as Jewish tradition teaches –
§ to the shalom –- peace, social justice, functioning democratic process, and ecological sanity –of the country where we live – all of which would be damaged by still another unnecessary war;
§ to the shalom, peace and security, of the State of Israel, to its democratic character, and to its special relationship with the Jewish people;
§ to unequivocal action by all the Arab-majority and Muslim-majority states to make peace with Israel, and to Israel’s unequivocal action to make peace with all its neighbors, including an emergent Palestine;
§ to our respect and our prayers for salaam, peace and justice, among our cousins in the Abrahamic tradition, Arab and Muslim civilizations;
§ to the peace and prosperity of all the “70 nations” of the world;
§ and to the healing of our wounded planet.
For all these reasons, we welcome warmly the greatly increased possibility of a peaceful resolution of the conflicts among the US, Iran, Israel, and other nations.
We especially welcome the new attitudes toward the Jewish people and toward the nuclear issue set forth by the new President of Iran, and his assertion that Iran will never hold nuclear weapons. We also recall the repeated assertions and fatwas by Grand Ayatollah Khameini that for Iran to possess nuclear weapons would violate Islam.
We urge the US and Iran to move swiftly to agree on a step-by-step process of reducing and ultimately ending sanctions against Iran in accord with steps by Iran to make its nuclear research transparent and to allow verification that its research is directed wholly toward civilian uses of nuclear energy. We believe that such a step-by-step process is the best way to guarantee that both parties are fulfilling their commitments.
We urge Iran to make clear its full acceptance of Israel as a legitimate state in the fabric of international relations, protected like all other states from aggression and attack.
We urge the Government of Israel to welcome steps by Iran to make clear and verifiable its commitment to use nuclear energy and research for peaceful purposes only, not for pursuit of nuclear weaponry, and while this process is under way, we urge Israel to end hostile acts and statements toward Iran.
We urge the peoples of the United States, Iran, and Israel to reject and oppose all statements and actions from whatever source that undermine the swift and thorough achievement of agreements to ensure the civilian nature of Iran’s nuclear program and to end sanctions against Iran.
We urge the American people to recognize and do tshuvah (“turning” or “repentance”) for the ethical errors of our own government toward Iran – particularly, the US Government’s intervention in 1953 to overthrow the democratically elected reform government of Iran; US actions to support the tyrannical regime of the Shah until the Iranian people overthrew it in 1979; and US support for Iraq’s wars of aggression against Iran in the 1980s, including US support for Saddam Hussein’s use of chemical weapons to kill 100,000 Iranians.
We urge the Iranian people to do tshuvah for their government’s demonization of the United States and Israel, for its holding US diplomats hostage for more than a year in 1979-1980, and for the support it seems to have covertly given for attacks on Israeli citizens.
We believe that this combination of governmental acts and public rethinking and re-feeling can move American society, the entire Middle East, and the world toward the shalom that Judaism yearns for.
to read the list of signatories, click here
What is Ehud Olmert up to?
For a man who contributed NOTHING to the Israel/Palestine ‘peace process’ during his term in office, it seems a bit rich of him to come out now criticizing Netanyahu for not taking peace seriously!
Having said that, what Olmert says is entirely correct. Now is an opportune moment for Israel, with no real enemies threatening her, to help establish a viable Palestinian state that will ensure Israel’s own long-term survival in the region.
Perhaps, like so many ex-presidents and ex-prime ministers, Olmert is finding his true voice after leaving office. Or perhaps this is part of a hair-brained scheme to regain power? Either way, I hope the Israeli public take what he says seriously.
Olmert Believes Peace Is Possible; Former Israeli Prime Minister Speaks at Dartmouth College
Hanover — Former Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert insisted Tuesday that peace between Israel and Palestine, based on two autonomous states, holds the key to long-term peace in the Middle East.
I n a speech before an overflow crowd at Dartmouth College’s Cook Auditorium, Olmert also endorsed current efforts of the Obama administration and its Western allies to seek some accommodations with Iran over its nuclear capabilities, despite serious objections by current Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.
“An agreement between Israel and Palestine is the one thing that can help provide the backwind for a wider peace process in the Middle East,” Olmert said. “Israeli leaders need to get rid of this cloud and help deprived people of Palestine attain fundamental human rights. This is in the best long-term interest of Israel. Can it be done? I have no doubt.”
That statement triggered applause from the audience, although at the end of the speech about a dozen young people chanted protests before leaving the hall. Outside, they handed out leaflets stating that their protest was a “die-in” against Israel military operations in Lebanon and the Gaza Strip when Olmert was prime minister between 2006 and 2009.
Olmert, 68, looking trim in a dark suit and red tie, displayed an experienced politician’s métier with flashes of humor and forceful right jabs at the air. He argued that, strategically, Israel is perhaps now in the best position to explore a serious peace initiative with the Palestinians.
Asked in an earlier luncheon with students why Israel seems reluctant to explore peace with the Palestinians, Olmert blamed what he termed a “failure of leadership” by Netanyahu.
“He believes in something very different from me,” he said. “He wants to keep the status quo forever and that is not tactical. Plus he is unable to compromise because 18 out of 20 members of the Likud (Israel’s major center-right party) would not support him.”
Olmert explained his differences with Netanyahu over the Iran negotiations.
“President Obama is trying to find out whether they (the new regime in Iran) are serious or not,” he said. “If not, we will find out. Until then, we owe it to the stability of entire world to find out if Iran is serious.”
Read the rest of this article here.
This latest criminal act has me stupified! What could be the reason behind it?
It makes sense that Netanyahu would upscale the development of settlements in order to ensure the failure of the so-called ‘peace talks’ but why alienate the Christian community at this stage?
Is Netanyahu really thumbing his nose at John Kerry or is there some more subtle rationale at work? Either way, this can only serve to further isolate Israel!
Holy Land: Israel demolishes house belonging to Latin Patriarch
In the same week that US Secretary of State John Kerry has been visiting the Holy Land in an effort to broker peace talks beween Israel and Palestine, bulldozers of the Jerusalem Municipality, accompanied by Israeli Security forces, demolished a house belonging to the Patriarch of Jerusalem, Mgr Fouad Twal. The residential property on the Jerusalem-Hebron road, near the northern checkpoint number 300 was home to a family of 14 people.
The Patriarch inspected the demolished home yesterday, in the company of Bishop William Shomali, Patriarchal Vicar of Jerusalem, and Bishop Giacinto Boulos Marcuzzo, Patriarchal Vicar for Israel, Fr Humam Khzouz, General Director of the Patriarchate, Fr George Ayoub, Chancellor; a number of other priests, the director of the Patriarchate Endowment, lawyers, engineers; consuls of foreign countries, including Italy and Belgium; representatives of churches and institutions; and a crowd of journalists from local and foreign news agencies.
In a press conference held at the site of the demolished home, the Patriarch said: “looking upon a painful and upsetting scene raises discontent and anger. There is no justification for the demolition, but when the municipality and the Israeli government enact demolitions and displace people from their homes, these practices increase hatred and endanger the future of peace. This land has belonged to the Latin Patriarchate long before 1967. The Patriarchate possesses the official deed, and all legal paperwork proving ownership. Even worse, the legal tenants of the property, Mr Salameh Abu Tarbush and his family, were taken by surprise by the demolition.”
The Patriarch added “We are the rightful/lawful owners, and you will hear our voice before all governments worldwide, and we will take legal action in appropriate courts to rectify this injustice, to bring back justice and rebuild this home. We have willpower and a spirit of belonging to this land of our ancestors, this sacred land which is home of our past, present and future.”
The home’s residents spoke about the displacement, which was carried out in the early hours of the morning, rendering them suddenly homeless. Their living situation is now tragic, in the open without shelter. The Red Cross is providing them with tents and assistance.
The lawyer of the Latin Patriarchate, Mr. Mazen Copti, confirmed the illegality of the demolition of this home and land declaring: “We will take all legal measures against the municipality of Jerusalem and the Israeli Ministry of the Interior to rebuild the house as it was.”
This is an encouraging sign, though the author of this article obviously doesn’t see things that way!
For far too long Evangelicals worldwide have been proclaiming that:
- The formation of the modern State of Israel was a fulfillment of Biblical prophecy and that
- Israel’s victory over her enemies is somehow requisite to Christ’s return!
Frankly, these beliefs should be recognised as heresy, as they inevitably lead believers to condone immorality – sanctioning violence on the part of the State of Israel in the mistaken belief that this will somehow serve Christ’s cause!
I’ve written more on the poor theology of Christian Zionism here. It is encouraging that wisdom is finally prevailing.
LOOK WHO’S SWITCHING SIDES IN ISRAELI-ARAB CONFLICT
‘Christian support will completely flip … in next generation’
An interview with an American Christian commentator published by Israeli media this week reveals just how far the evangelical church has moved into the “Palestinian camp” when it comes to the Middle East conflict.
For decades, Israel’s most stalwart supporters were to be found among evangelical Christians, the bulk of whom saw the rebirth of the Jewish state as a fulfillment of biblical prophecy and evidence of God’s faithfulness.
But a new generation of evangelical leaders are “committed to spreading the Palestinian version of the conflict,” said Jim Fletcher, a long-time Christian publisher, in an interview published to Israel National News. “These pro-Palestinian leaders currently control the narrative within the church.”
According to Fletcher, there is a “massive effort … in the heart of the American evangelical church to lure its members to the Palestinian side.” As a result of that effort, it is now “severely mistaken to think that all evangelicals are pro-Israel.”
Among those evangelical leaders one should be wary of are Willow Creek Pastor Lynne Hybels, Saddleback Community Church Pastor Rick Warren, Dr. Gary Burge of Wheaton College and Christian publisher Cameron Strang.
Hybels and Burge were speakers at last year’s Christ at the Checkpoint conference in Bethlehem, where local and foreign evangelical leaders painted modern Israel as a nation wholly disconnected from its biblical roots and prophecies pertaining to it.
Furthermore, this movement interprets Yeshua’s own teachings in a more humanistic light in order to use them against Israel.
“In the Palestinian narrative, emotion is predominant. The emphasis is on ‘land confiscations, checkpoints, detentions, beatings.’ What they call the ‘apartheid wall’ is also mentioned frequently,” explained Fletcher.
But, perhaps most disconcerting, is the lack of a strong response from those who still love Israel and see her for what she truly is, warts and all.
“To my knowledge, there are no broad-based evangelical leaders in the U.S. who will speak out about this problem, which is developing into an epidemic,” said Fletcher, warning in conclusion that “the way things are going, support will completely flip from Israel to the Palestinians in the next generation.”
For those of us sitting in Israel, there is another worrying effect: more and more Israelis are starting to feel that, once again, they cannot trust or rely on Christians.
The mere fact that this interview was published on a religious Israeli media website demonstrates that Israeli Jews see the strong wall of Christian support eroding, and as a result the bonds that were built up over the past century are beginning to unravel
It is encouraging to hear about this new reporters’ guidebook – one that makes the bold attempt to help journalists be more objective in their reporting of Israel-Palestine. It is encouraging at least because it recognises that the words we use are often laden with values and judgements of the kind that journalists are generally keen to avoid. Even so, to suggest that a mere substitutions of sensitive terms will in some way improve media coverage in the Middle East is patently absurd!
Certainly using the term ‘Security Fence’ rather than ‘Apartheid Wall’ to describe the barrier that separates Israel from the West Bank shows clearly which side the writer is on. Even so, the construction and deconstruction of political narratives is far more complex than any simple change in vocabulary.
To write in any detail about the suffering of the Palestinian people is in itself an act that subverts the dominant narrative. And even if writers were able to discuss the violence with clinical objectivity, this would not suggest impartiality by any means! Evil scientists have performed monstrous experiments on living beings, and that fact that they can describe their results in purely scientific terms actually reinforces the horror of their acts!
What we need is not ‘objective’ reporting (whatever that is) but reporting where the agenda is not concealed. For me personally, my sympathies are with the Palestinians, and I say that unashamedly. For me to refer to the ‘Apartheid Wall’ as anything else would be dishonest!
A new reporter’s guidebook released on October 23 aims to balance media coverage of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, a field that often spirals into semantic mudslinging at the cost of clear news coverage.
The Vienna-based International Press Institute (IPI) published Use With Care: A Reporter’s Glossary of Loaded Language in the Israeli-Palestinian Conflict after a year of joint work between six anonymous Israeli and Palestinian media veterans. The two sides worked on separate content submissions, which IPI then combined through several months of back-and-forth editing.
The glossary comprises some 150 terms ranging from “terrorist” to “martyr.” Each word or expression is presented in English, Arabic and Hebrew, with an explanation of why it might be sensitive to Israeli and/or Palestinian audiences. Most entries include a suggested alternative term.
For example, the guide explains why “Apartheid wall” and “security wall/fence” are respectively offensive to Israelis and Palestinians, recommending that journalists use “separation barrier” instead. Many of the entries also address unnecessary adjectives, asking that reporters drop the modifiers from terms like “innocent civilians” and “peaceful demonstration.”
Instead of “Judea and Samaria,” “eternal capital of the Palestinian people” or “united capital of Israel,” the guide recommends geographically specific terms like the West Bank, East Jerusalem and West Jerusalem. “Israel” is recommended over both “Zionist entity” and “Jewish state.” The former is tendentious because it is perceived to deny Israeli statehood, the guide says, while the latter ignores Arab history predating the State of Israel and implies that non-Jewish Israelis are not fully part of the state.
Other terms are less obvious. “Middle East expert” is problematic, the guide says, because ideologues and activists are often referred to as experts without disclosure of their partisan views.
“This tactic is used to magnify and repeat the views that certain journalist or media wish to promote. It is dishonest and is partly to blame for the fact that audience stereotypes and viewpoints are repeatedly reinforced instead of being challenged,” the guide says. “It creates an echo-chamber effect, in which pro-Israeli or pro-Palestinian readers, viewers, and listeners believe that only their frame of reference is reasonable and enlightened, while the other side is hateful, prejudiced, and extreme.”
read the rest of this article here