Friday, September 22, 2006

Christian and Jewish Fundalmentalism Compared
A fascinating email received today from a friend of mine:
Please read this amazing blog by Brad Rubin, the US Refusenik coordinator who compares right wing Christian televangelists with pro-Israeli mainstream Jews. Its long, but well worth it, I promise you!!! Also read below Kay Halpern's response to this article. Kay is a member of the Washington Interfaith Alliance for Middle East Peace and a member at Adat Shalom synagogue in Potomac, Maryland.



Read your postings. I couldn't agree with you more. I think your points are extremely important and very well put. I have always deeply appreciated the substance of your emails on the AS listserve, even if they were sometimes a little stream-of-consciousness and therefore a bit repetitive and sometimes hard to follow. In these postings you obviously took time to organize your thoughts and craft your words, so the substance of your ideas comes through beautifully. I, too, bemoan the similarities between what I think of as a "born again" mentality in the (mainstream) Jewish community and the simplistic views expressed by some fundamentalist Christians and the current administration.

I once went to an Israel Project luncheon (I didn't realize what it was until I got there) in the heart of Jewish Establishment power in the ADL building on K Street to hear a Palestinian/Egyptian woman talk about how she thought Israel and Jews were setting a good example and how she was raised on Arab hate. Her speech was very one-sided and gave no acknowledgement of Palestinian suffering under ongoing and newly developing (e.g., the wall) Israeli policies. At the end, she received a standing ovation from all present. The event struck me as the mirror image of some pro-Palestinian events I have read about, where everyone bashes Israel and "Zionism" is synonomous with "evil."

What appears to be happening is that the old knee-jerk fear response is kicking in: when push comes to shove (the Walt - Mearsheimer paper, Lebanon...), circle the wagons. As you pointed out, even the old liberal standard, the Forward, toes the party line. (I used to work for the Workmen's Circle and the Forward back in 1982 - after which I worked for the National Conference on Soviet Jewry - but that's a story for another day.) The American Jewish establishment organizations and the powers that be in Israel, together with the Bush administration and its fundamentalist Christian supporters, appear to be in the grip of what, in physiological terms is the fight or flight response - backs to the wall, fists clenched, when what's really needed is something more akin to the relaxation response, which opens the heart and mind.

You posted your pieces on a progressive blog. But how does one get through to more "mainstream" groups? Are you thinking of sharing your posting with the AS listserve? I know some will turn away from them, but others won't. Maybe you can send it to key people like Rabbi Fred, Rabbi Sid & Haya Laufer.

Speaking of the complexity of the situation in Israel, Mark Braverman and several others recently returned from a trip to Israel & the West Bank. I saved their 7-day trip report as a Word doc and am attaching it here. I think you will find it very moving, insightful and provocative.

Keep doing what you're doing,


Peace, Shalom and Salam



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