Louis Bohté, onze vorige voorzitter, schrijft ons vanuit Bethlehem
 

Beste mensen,

Vrede en alle Goeds.

Bethlehem 9 mei 2010

 foto's

Ik wil beginnen met iets opmerkelijks. Toen ik van de week een keer van Al Doha richting Hebron weg liep, kwam een jongeman mij achterop gerend. Hij liep met mij op en vroeg mij of ik rookte. Ik maakte hem uiteraard duidelijk dat ik niets van roken hebben moet. Toen vroeg ik hem of hij rookte. Hij zei ja en toonde mij een filtersigaret in zijn handpalm. Hij zei dat hij drugs rookt, waarop ik hem vroeg of het hashiesh was. Hij beaamde dit en zei dat hij dit één keer per dag deed. Vervolgens vroeg ik hem of zijn familie er iets van merkt, want het geeft een zoete, weeďge geur. Hij dacht van niet. Even later scheidden onze wegen.

De vrouw, die vorige week overleed en voor wier condoleances ik plotseling aanwezig was, was een zus van de vader van ‘mijn’ knul. Het bleek dat zij veel voor hem betekend heeft. Hij vertelde mij, dat ze voor hem een moeder was. Zij overleed onverwacht.

Mohammed Oweineh vertelde mij, dat een neef van hem in de gevangenis was beland, louter omdat een vriend zijn naam noemde. Het is verstandig om je hier van de domme te houden door antwoorden te geven als: hij zat bij mij in de eerste klas. De neef is wel politiek bewust, maar onafhankelijk.

Er is meer onfris gedoe onder de Palestijnse Autoriteit. Iemand, die ik ken, werkte voor de Palestijnse inlichtingendienst. Toen hij hiermee wilde stoppen, draaide hij voor straf een paar maanden de gevangenis in.

Ik kreeg een aanvulling op mijn commentaar op misbruik in de Kerk. De aanvulling betrof misbruik op openbare scholen in de VS: meer dan 100.000 gevallen in 5 jaar tijd en vorig jaar bijna 500.000 gevallen van kindermishandeling in Duitsland. In Nederland sterft bijna wekelijks een kind door mishandeling.

Het kan ook anders. Er is een knul op straat van 10, 11 jaar, Gibriel (Gabriel) die een fan van Messi is, graag op de foto komt en ook graag foto’s maakt. Hij heeft er plezier in en doet het leuk. Zo kun je ook met kinderen omgaan.

Van mijn Israëlische vriendin Hadassah kreeg ik een bericht door, dat ik als aanhangsel bij deze brief voeg. Het is een beetje ingewikkeld verhaal. Het gaat om de man, die voorzitter was van de onderzoekscommissie naar mogelijke oorlogsmisdaden tijdens de oorlog in Gaza. Het betreft de gepensioneerde rechter Goldstone uit Zuid Afrika, die een Jood is. Een groep Joden, die het hem het rapport kwalijk neemt, wilde hem beletten, dat hij de bar mitzvah van zijn kleinzoon zou bijwonen. Het is een belangrijke rite voor Joodse jongens , als zij 13 jaar worden. Bij meisjes is dat 12 jaar. Gelukkig is dit probleem opgelost, maar voor het zover was, had een Rabbijn in de VS aangeboden dit ritueel bij hem in de synagoge te houden. Hij heeft het geweten. Een groep Joden, die hier niet van gediend was, heeft zijn huis besmeurd als een bedreiging.

Met deze man heb ik contact opgenomen om hem te steunen – een zegening van het internettijdperk. Het blijkt dat hij in juli naar Israël komt en graag contact heeft met Palestijnen, Christenen čn Moslims. Ik zal mijn best doen om dit mogelijk te maken.

Soms kom ik mooie mensen tegen. Zo sprak ik gisteren een vrouw, die Moslima is en op een school van zusters zat. Daar heeft zij geleerd op Christelijke wijze te bidden. Toen ze de school verlaten had, verleerde ze dit, maar weet ook niet hoe als Moslima kan bidden. Ik zei haar, dat de manier waarop zij met mensen omgaat, ook een gebed is. Zij kon zich hier goed in vinden.

De foto’s en video filmpjes van de verjaardag van mijn ‘nicht’ Majd heb ik gebracht en zij was er enthousiast over. Een neef van haar vond overigens, dat ik die filmpjes niet aan anderen mag laten zien. Ik begrijp dat wel, want eigenlijk is het hier ongehoord, dat ik die filmpjes heb kunnen maken. De neef is de jongste zoon van Ahmed Balboel, die ruim twee jaar geleden door een Israëlisch doodseskader is gedood. Ik merkte hoezeer dit hem nog bezighoudt.

Jack en zijn vrouw Mona heb ik een paar keer bezocht. De tweede keer was ’s avonds laat. Jack zat om een praatje verlegen. Hij heeft het zwaar met zijn zorgen om Mona.

Bij de familie Al Azza zijn ze bezig een kamer bij te bouwen voor de grootvader, die weduwnaar is. Hij heeft geen eigen huis meer. Met een paar jonge vrijwilligers wordt er hard aan gewerkt, al is daarmee wel een stuk tuin gesneuveld.

Toen ik wegging werd ik vlak bij de ingang van het vluchtelingenkamp door twee tienermeiden uitgenodigd bij hun binnen te komen. Ik was verbaasd, maar ging naar binnen. Er waren veel kinderen binnen, die nieuwsgierig waren naar die vreemdeling. Even later moest ik wel uit de kamer, omdat er problemen opgelost moesten worden. Ik ben toen met een jongeman naar het dak gegaan en heb daar een tijdje gezeten, genietend van het fraaie weer. De jongeman, Mohammed, wilde niet dat ik een foto van een klein kind maakte. Ik gaf mijn fototoestel aan een jongen van een jaar of negen. Hij maakte foto’s, o.a. van een tienermeisje, wat mij nooit toegestaan zou worden en het ook niet wilde.

Ik heb nog iets bijzonders te melden. Geregeld krijgt mijn medebroeder, die voor de melkgrot zorgt, foto’s van babies, wier komst op de wereld wordt toegeschreven aan de poeder van de melkgrot. Van de week liet hij een foto zien, die uit Mexico afkomstig is en al 12 jaar oud is. Het is een foto, die een zuster tijdens haar retraite gemaakt heeft onder de eucharistieviering, toen de priester na de instellingswoorden de hostie ophief. Volgens het bijgevoegde uitleg bleek bij het ontwikkelen (het was nog 1998!) een figuur te zien zijn, die Jezus moet zijn. Het mooie is in ieder geval, dat het een glimlachende man is. Ik voeg de foto toe, die ervan gemaakt heb. De opgeheven hostie is vaaglijk te zien rechts van het midden en wat naar onderen. Ik zie het als een teken van authentiek geloof van de zuster, zoals je ook in iedere godsdienst authentieke gelovigen aantreft.

Naast de twee artikelen die (in)direct met Goldstone te maken hebben voeg ik ook een aankondiging van de vredesdag in Israël eraan toe. Het is een lokale uitwerking van de de dag van de vrede van de VN. Ook voeg ik een appčl van Europese Joden tegen de nederzettingen eraan toe.

Ik wil met iets grappigs eindigen. Sinds een half jaar hebben we een Siciliaanse medebroeder in huis, die Camillo heet. Omdat hij een priester is, staat hij op de wekelijkse lijst voor een dienst. Er staat dan P. Camillo. Dit keer stond hij vermeld als Don Camillo, kennelijk een verwarring met de Don Camillo van een serie grappige films over een Italiaanse dorpspastoor, Don Camillo, die het altijd aan de stok heeft met de communistische burgemeester.

Groeten uit Bethlehem,

Louis Bohté

De foto's van deze week

Rabbi Lerner's Home Attacked by Right-Wing Zionists

Berkeley, Ca. May 3, 2010

Release dare: May 4, 2010

Berkeley police today confirmed that the attack on Rabbi Lerner's home late Sunday May 2nd or early morning Monday May 3rd was in fact a crime and was being investigated.

The attackers used a powerful form of glue to attach posters to his door and around the property of his home attacking Lerner personally, and attacking liberals and progressives as being supporters of terrorism and "Islamo-fascism." They posted a printed bumper sticker saying "fight terror--support Israel" next to a carcature of Judge Goldstone whose UN report on Israel's human rights violations in its attack on Gaza last year has been denounced as anti-Semitic and pro-terror by right wingers in Israel and the U.S.. The caricature has Goldstone talking about his being kept from his grandson's bar mitzvah, and the caricature of Rabbi Lerner responds by saying "any enemy of Israel is a friend of mine." This attack and vandalism follows on a week filled with Lerner and Tikkun staff receiving hate mail, prompted apparently by Tikkun's announcement that in case the South African Zionists had succeeded in preventing Judge Goldstone from attending his grandson's bar mitzvah, as they threatened several weeks ago, that Rabbi Lerner would gladly hold the bar mitzvah in the SF Bay Area instead, and following Tikkun's announcement that in light of Goldstone's courageous willingness to stand up for human rights in Israel (his report called on the Israeli government to do its own independent, pulbic and credibly objective investigation, punish those responsible for the crimes or show that they didn't happen, and thereby show that these actions were not government policy but the mistakes or evil choices by people in the IDF who were acting as rogue elements and not as a manifestation of the people of Israel) that Tikkun will award our prestigious Tikkun Award to Judge Goldstone in 2011 at the event celebrating our 25th anniversary! This story, which was prominent in Ha'aretz and many other Jewish magazines and websites, has intensified anger against Lerner and Tikkun among those who seek to perpetuate the Occupation, and great support among those who realize that the Occupation is really hurtful both to Israel and to the Jewish people world-wide.

In the 24 years of Tikkun's operation, we have received many death threats and vicious hate mail, including phone calls to our office announcing that "Rabbi Lerner is dead" and others saying "We will kill all of you." This particular attack has two worrisome elements not previously there: 1. They attack Rabbi Lerner's home. As law enforcement people told us, this is a way of conveying the messaget to Lerner: "We know where you live, we know your house is vulnerable, so don't ignore our threats."  2. By linking Lerner to alleged terrorism, they provide for themselves and other extremists a "right-wing justification" to use violence against Lerner, even though Lerner has been a prominent advocate of non-violence. He regularly critiques Palestinian acts of violence when they occur, including the shelling of Israeli towns by Hamas,  just as he critiques the violence of the Israeli occupation, and as he critiques the US war in Iraq and Afghanistan, the occupation of Chechny by Russia, the occupation of Tibet by China, the human rights violations against their own people by the rulers of Iran, the acts of violence of those resisting the US occupation of Iraq and Afghanistan, the violence against women and homosexuals in many Arab and African countries (and in the US and Israel as well), the genocide in Darfur, the violence against Jews in some parts of Europe, and the list goes on.

Needless to say, this latest attack, on Lerner's home, has caused great concern to his family.

What can you do? Let people know that this kind of thing is happening in the Jewish world to people who critique Israeli policies.

--Tikkun Magazine

To reach Rabbi Lerner directly: RabbiLerner@Tikkun.org or call the Tikkun office at 510 644 1200.

Subject: After Attack on Rabbi Lerner's Home: What you Can do to Help?

So many people have written to Rabbi Lerner to ask what they could do to help that we decided to develop a coherent answer.

In our view, the only protection one has from hateful people is to publicize and critique their demeaning of others, their incitement, and/or their violent acts. As right-wing Zionists proved by assassinating peace-oriented Israeli Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin who sought to end the Occupation, there is no way to protect anyone in this world from fanatics bent on hurting others.

In the specific case of the vandalizing of Rabbi Lerner's home, the lasting physical damage was slight,  and the hate messages were not different from the dozens of emails he and we at Tikkun have been getting weekly for twenty-four years. Even the death threats he received by phone were not unusual. Rather, it was the fact that these things now intruded into his own home that was a new level. Understandably his wife and his family are very concerned about their safety should the people with hate messages seek to escalate from assaults on his house to assaults on him or his family, and whether they can continue to live where they do with any sense of security.

So what can you do? You can help us demand of the media that they publicize this incident and, equally importantly, the meaning of the incident for Americans and for American Jews. .

      And you can demand of the Jewish world that they stop encouraging incitement by allowing people or groups to be labeled as anti-Semitic or "self-hating Jews" when the only evidence for those charges is disagreeing with the policies of the State of Israel or  supporting strategies like boycott, divestment or sanctions against the State of Israel or against products produced by settlers in the Occupied Territories, or calling for an end to US military aid to Israel, publicizing the human rights violations taking place in Israel. or taking other non-violent but confrontational  approaches to changing Israeli policy.

      While Rabbi Lerner has written a book called  The Socialism of Fools--anti-Semitism on the Left and is well aware that this phenomenon is real and needs to be struggled against,  his book takes pain to distinguish legitimate criticism or non-violent action against Israeli policies that are done in a spirit of respect for the humanity of the Jewish people. on the one hand,  and actions and criticisms that reflect a double standard toward Jews or a determination to demean Jews or Israel that is not applied to other human rights violating states, on the other hand.  So, yes, there is anti-Semitism among some on the Left and some who criticize Israel, but, NO, the criticisms of Israel's policies or the advocacy of non-violent tactics of the sort mentioned above are not in and of themselves either anti-Semitic or prima facie evidence that  Jews who support these activities are "self-hating Jews."

     This labeling as "anti-Semitic" or “self-hating Jews" of those who seek to challenge Israeli policy is increasingly emptying those words of serious negative meaning, which is a big mistake.  If everyone who challenges Israeli policy is anti-Semitic (which would include a majority of American Jews but not a majority of those one encounters in most synagogues or official Jewish institutions) then it may (mistakenly) appear to people that it's no big thing to be anti-Semitic. And that is very dangerous for the Jewish people. Please read Anthony Klug's article on how this mistaken approach helps sustain or even generate anti-Semitism in the May/June 2010 issue of Tikkun magazine.

      To take a classic case of this rhetoric that can incite people to violence, consider Alan Dershowitz's op-ed piece in the Jerusalem Post  on April 29th in which he labeled as "Rabbis for Hamas" all the 39 rabbis who had signed a statement urging South African Jews to allow Judge Goldstone to attend his grandson's bar mitzvah. He went on to say: "And Michael Lerner is the worst of them (and that's saying a lot)."  Everyone knows that Hamas is a violent terrorist group, and that Dershowitz has publicly championed the notion that the US and Israel have the right to take preemptive strikes to kill through "targeted assassinations" those who they "suspect” of being terrorists. So here, two days before the vandalism at Rabbi Lerner's home, Dershowitz associates Lerner and the others with Hamas and terrorism. We don't believe that Dershowitz ever explicitly intended a violent outcome and we don't know for sure that his article directly led to the violence in this case.  We do know that it contributes to a climate of intimidation of those who wish to speak a truth different from that of the right-wing Zionists and that the Jewish world should be doing what they can to isolate and restrain this kind of language and demeaning of fellow Jews and of Jewish-friendly non-Jews who criticize Israeli policies or support non-violent means to change its policies.

      In that respect, the response of the Jewish world has been misleading. Some of the Jewish institutions have issued statements like the following that came from the San Francisco Jewish Federation and the local chapter of the Anti-Defamation League (ADL): "We unequivocally condemn criminal acts perpetrated against Rabbi Lerner's home. Political disagreements must be resolved in a civil manner, and not by resorting to violence. Our communities are especially disturbed that this crime targeted Rabbi Lerner at his home, thereby conveying to him the message that he may not be safe there. We are encouraged by the responsiveness of the Berkeley Police Department to this incident, and we urge its officers to investigate this crime as thoroughly as possible. The entire community must send a message to the perpetrators that we reject violence and criminality as a means to express our political opinions."

This is at once a step in the right direction and yet an evasion of the central issue. We didn't expect that they would endorse violence. What we must demand is that these Jewish organizations publicly and repeatedly make attempts to stop the incitement to violence that happens on a daily basis inside the Jewish community and towards tens of thousands of Jews and non-Jews who speak out about Israeli treatment of Palestinians or who organize to try to change Israeli policies. The Jewish world needs to stop labeling those people as "self-hating" and or "anti-Semitic," unless they have other grounds besides their strong and/or repeated advocacy of political positions about the State of Israel that critique Israeli policies or seek non-violently to change them. If we can get some change in the Jewish world in this direction, we can transform this attack on Lerner into a moment of repentance and transformation that would be good for the Jews, good for Israel and the Palestinians, and good for the U.S.

Until that happens, these attacks may increase, not just again Lerner but against others who speak out, and may even spread to attacks against non-Jews who support Obama (since many of the more extremist elements in the Zionist movement believe that Obama and his Administration seek to destroy Israel or to render it powerless in the face of hostile enemies, and hence could easily start manifesting the incitement or even violence toward Obama or his supporters that they have been willing to champion against peace activists in this country or in Israel).

            Meanwhile, we should also make clear our opposition to similar kinds of incitement that we sometimes hear coming from Palestinian circles or Arabic or Muslim circles toward Jews--and we must similarly demand that the leadership of those communities take the same steps of isolating and preventing incitement in their communities just as we should be asking that of the Jewish world--for example on university campuses or in public debates about boycotts/divestment/sanctions. When, for example, Jews are told that they have the blood of innocents on their hands because of the activities of some members of the IDF (Israeli army) in Israel, thereby blaming all Jews for the activities of some, this is racism straight out, just as it was when Blacks were blamed for the criminal activities of some Blacks. The Jewish people never voted in a referendum to give the State of Israel or its army the right to speak or represent all Jews around the world, despite their desire to do so, and Jews must not be blamed for the actions of that State unless the freely join organizations or synagogues that do in fact claim to be supportive of Israel's policies and its Occupation of the West Bank. So when liberals or progressives stand by passively while these kinds of statements are made by Palestinians or by Jews whose desire to prove themselves "true allies" to the Palestinian people leads them to extreme and distorted statements of this sort, understandably wanting to not interfere with the event happening at the moment, they actually are doing a great disservice to the cause of peace and justice for both Palestinians and Israelis--not only because these statements are racist and should on moral grounds be condemned at the time they are being made, but also because they are then used by the Jewish establishment to discredit the peace forces and to raise the level of fear in the Jewish world against anyone critical of Israeli policies.

            But at this particular moment in early May, the issue that has made itself apparent in the attack on Lerner's home is the hate-language and permission to demean and incite that takes place in many (not all) corners of the Jewish world,  and so it is appropriate now to focus on the changes needed to stop Jewish incitement.

So here is what you can do: write and call people in the media to urge them to do a news story (no national American or European media have picked up on this yet), to interview Rabbi Lerner, and to write editorials condemning incitement. Similarly, letters should be sent to national Jewish organizations asking them to challenge the free use of the charge of anti-Semitism or self-hating Jews among Jews in their communities who are unhappy when they hear others criticizing Israeli policies or behavior.

And where would you find those addresses? Click here or go to www.spiritualprogressives.org/article.php/media or paste that address in your web search and go there. We've listed lots of media people. Pick a few from different media and in your own words tell them why you think they should let the American people know about this assault, about the potential danger to Americans if these dynamics continue in the Jewish world and spread to American politics, ask them to contact Rabbi Lerner either at RabbiLerner@tikkun.org or through his assistant will@tikkun.org . And ask them to raise the larger question of how to preserve freedom of conscience for people to challenge Israeli policies without being demeaned or facing this kind of vandalism of their own private homes.

And then please write to one of the Jewish organizations (you'll find them listed also at that same location, at the very bottom of the media lists. Ask them to make a public statement that goes beyond condemning the injury to Rabbi Lerner and directly condemns the labelling as "anti-Semitic" or "self-hating” of those who challenge Israeli policies or seek non-violent methods to change those policies.

And yes, there is another thing you can do. You could yourself join the Network of Spiritual Progressives (for non-Jews as well as Jews, for atheists as well as theists) and help support Tikkun Magazine! And you could urge everyone you know to do so. Nothing would make Rabbi Lerner feel more supported and less scared of the haters if more of the people who believe in a world of love would support the organization that has been out there seeking to put forward the notion that love and generosity are the real paths to peace and security than a significant influx of new members (who also automatically receive Tikkun as part of membership). You can do that at www.spiritualprogressives.org/article.php?story=donaterenew

Contacts: NATALIE WOLNER  natalie@tikkun.org  or WILL PASLEY will@tikkun.org  510-644-1200   Mailing address: 2342 Shattuck Ave, Box 1200, Berkeley, Ca. 94704

Meanwhile, Rabbi Lerner asked us to include his own deep thanks for everyone who has written to him--he has read those notes and they have meant a great deal to him. But, he doesn't want the focus to be on him, nor even on Dershowitz and his attempts to discredit Lerner and Tikkun, but on what we can together do to change the dynamics in the world so that no one has to feel insecure in their homes for articulating their ethical and political views. And that's why the way to support him is to follow the path being suggested in this email.

A Palestinian boy protesting in East Jerusalem.

(Reuters)      Last update - 13:55 02/05/2010                                               

3,000 European Jewish intellectuals urge end to Israeli settlements

 

A new leftist European Jewish group, JCall, has written a letter to be delivered Sunday to the European Parliament calling for a cessation of what it calls systematic support for Israeli government decisions.

JCall, which describes itself as "the European J Street" and is to be officially launched Sunday with the presentation of the letter, has raised a storm with its call to stop construction in West Bank settlements and East Jerusalem.

The letter is signed by some 3,000 Jewish intellectuals, among them philosophers Bernard Henri-Levy and Alain Finkielkraut, considered some of Israel's strongest defenders among French intellectuals. Signatories also include Daniel Cohn-Bendit, leader of the student protests in the 1960s and now a member of the European Parliament, as well as other Jewish members of the European Parliament.

The letter calls occupation and settlements "morally and politically wrong," noting that they "feed the unacceptable delegitimization process that Israel currently faces abroad."

According to Prof. Zeev Sternhell, "The French Jewish left has decided that the official institutions do not represent most French Jews, and following the example of J Street, have decided that the time has come to do the same thing in Europe." He supports the letter but hasn't signed it.

Richard Prasquier, the chairman of CRIF, the committee representing French Jewish organizations, harshly criticized the document, saying that the petition will serve Israel's enemies.

The document calls on the European Union and the United States to pressure both parties "and help them achieve a reasonable and rapid solution to the Israeli-Palestine conflict."

It says that systematic support of Israeli government policy is dangerous.

Meanwhile, Israel has repeatedly protested that the PA is using money from donor countries to promote a ban on products from the settlements.

A second meeting of the Knesset Economics Committee on the matter is to take place today. In the first meeting, Foreign Ministry official Yael Rabia-Tzadok told the MKs that the campaign to confiscate goods manufactured in settlements has moved ahead since the new economics minister in the PA government has taken office, Hassan Abu-Labda. She said PA Prime Minister Salam Fayyad supports the campaign

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