The other strand of Judaism, Renewal Judaism, takes its inspiration from the prophets and has reasserted itself in every major age of Jewish life. It insists that the God of the Torah is a force of healing and transformation and that our task is not to sanctify existing power relations but to challenge them in the name of world peace and justice.
Perhaps the greatest danger Israel poses to the Jewish people is the extent to which it has helped Jews become cynical about their central task: to proclaim to the world the possibility of possibility and to affirm the God of the universe as the force that makes it possible to stop inflicting on others the violence and cruelty that were done to them. In other words, to make possible the transcendence of reality as it is so that a new world can be shaped. If Israel is ever to be healed, it will only be when it is able to reject this slavish subordination to political realism and once again embrace the transformative spiritual message of renewal.
Criticizing Israel. Criticism of Israeli policy toward Palestinians is fundamentally legitimate. There is nothing anti-Semitic about noting that the recent withdrawal from Gaza was done in the most destructive way possible because its goal was not to jump-start but to stop a peace process: Sacrificing 9,000 settlers to create a horrific scene in Gaza showed the world how painful it was to uproot settlers. How could Israel uproot 300,000 settlers in the West Bank?
But there was no need to uproot settlers. In a genuine peace accord, settlers would have been allowed to stay in the West Bank and Gaza if they agreed to live as Palestinian citizens governed by Palestinian law. Those who wished to move back to Israel would have done so by choice, not as part of a forced evacuation.
Exposing manipulations to retain control over Palestinians, critiquing the policies of occupation and those who abet them, insisting that Western countries pressure Israel to end the occupation of the West Bank there is nothing anti-Semitic about that. In fact, doing so is a favor to the Jewish people and should be warmly welcomed by those of us in the Jewish world who see the best interests of the Jewish people as intrinsically tied to an openhearted reconciliation with the Palestinian people.
Still, there are elements of anti-Semitism that I have encountered in the way criticisms are made, and friends of the Jewish people ought to avoid them.
Here are some examples:
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Tags: Israel Occupation