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Sunday, July 02, 2006


'When Will You Ever Learn,' Rabbi Lerner?

Response to Rabbi Michael Lerner's "When Will They Ever Learn?"

Dear Rabbi Michael Lerner:

Imagine, rabbi of peace and love, how different things would be if today the Israeli government said, "We will immediately implement the inalienable right as stated in Article 13, Section 2 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights for the 7.2 million refugees out of a 9.7 million population to return home: "Everyone has the right to leave any country, including his own, and return to his country."

Imagine how different things would be today if you used your pulpit to proclaim that Israel is in violation of UN Resolution 194, which has been reaffirmed every year since 1948, and educated your doting minions about what it says: "the [Palestinian] refugees wishing to return to their homes and live at peace with their neighbors should be permitted to do so at the earliest practicable date." Imagine if, instead of the "international consortium," that you suggest pay reparations that Israel, the country that stole ninety-three percent of historic Palestine, assumes its responsibilities, and pays the reparations itself?

Imagine if you actually listened to the Palestinan researcher Dr. Salman Abu Sitta, who has debated you (in vain, alas), and heeded his words that right of return is not only inalienable but feasible and repeated his words, "After all we only occupy fifteen percent of the ninety-three percent of the land we stole lock, stock, and barrel from you in contravention of international law."

Imagine how different it would be if instead of insisting upon a Jews preferred state and instead of portraying the indigenous people who merely want to return to the place of their births as is their inalienable right as extremists, we acknowledge that we have demolished, defaced, committed cultural genocide, committed politicide, pushed many of the 7.2 million refugees into the squalor of refugee camps that we bomb repeatedly and unmercifully so that Jews with no ties to the Holy Land other than spiritual could act out fanatical religious fantasies of Moses in the wilderness. In your own words, "Nothing less than this will work."

Imagine if we came clean about the pesky historical fact that "Ben Gurion depopulated 250 villages and expelled half the total refugees before the state of Israel was declared on 15 May 1948 and before any Arab regular soldier came to reverse the ethnic cleansing."

Imagine if we confessed our sin loudly before the world that since 1948, 675 Palestinian towns and villages that came under Zionist control were depopulated of their Palestinian inhabitants, that Ben Gurion used the best Jewish brains he could gather to replace the Arabic names of towns and villages with Hebrew names, just like he replaced his last name, Gruen with Ben Gurion. Imagine if you sent your peace loving friends copies of Dr. Walid Khalidi's All That Remains, the book which documents 438 Palestinian villages demolished and depopulated by Jewish supremacist immigrants who have waged relentless war on the indigenous inhabitants of Palestine since the late 1880's.

Imagine instead of preaching to Palestinians, among whom your credibility is nil, to practice non-violence, that you acknowledged that Israel rounded up three non-violent protestors the same night it kidnapped one-third of Palestine's democratically elected legislature; imagine if you acknowledged that Paul Larudee, a non-violent activist piano tuner, was just turned around at Lod Airport; imagine if you acknowledged that non-violent protestors are more of a threat to Israel than armed resistance. Imagine if you had one tiny bit of the courage of the little boys you tell to knock off throwing rocks at Israeli tanks.

Imagine if you as a rabbi could find it in your soul to realize that your "middle path" is a crock and that Gandhi and you, whom you admonish Palestinians to follow, are in way different leagues as long as you continue to believe that Palestinian rights are relative to Jewish rights. As long as you believe that it's OK for yuppie Trudy from Canada, from France, from Brazil, from the US, to traipse on over to Israel in search of a man, while old men from Jaffa and Haifa may not be buried in the villages of their births and while their children and grandchildren are prohibited from returning to the land of their concrete fathers, not some spiritual fathers of biblical fantasy.

Imagine that you understood the Palestinian character and weren't out to make a buck from their suffering. Imagine if you think that after the long struggle that any leader worth the respect of his people would acknowledge as you admonish them to proclaim the disproved propaganda: "when offered a two state solution in 1947 it was your own people who rejected it and denied that Jews could have any state of their own, while Muslims could have more than a dozen states in which their language, culture and religion was the official position of the society."

First of all, imagine, rabbi, what kind of fools would agree to partition fifty-five percent of their country to foreign immigrants, whom you alliteratively but disingenuously claim "climbed out of crematoria," who owned seven percent of it? And do tell, why a person who owns a house and tills some land whose parents and grandparents before them did as well should welcome foreign invaders in their midst whose express purpose was not to live peacefully and blend in with the indigenous people but to exercise political Zionism. Or does "a land without a people for a people without a land," not ring any bells for you. Does "there is no such thing as a Palestinian" uttered by none other than an Israeli prime minister not indicate to you that political Zionism is rotten to its core.

And so, pontificating rabbi of the "middle path," who is so full of advice for others, I leave you with some sage advice from Dr. Salman Abu Sitta. Just imagine that instead of pursuing the path of Israeli black propaganda, you found the courage to take the following advice from Dr. Abu Sitta to your fellow hasbarist Gershon Baskin into your heart of hearts:

"Baskin, true 'friendship' should go to the Israelis to help shake them off their collective amnesia about what they have done and are doing to the Palestinians and to advise them that their salvation lies in shedding racism fully and forever. They have to amend their ways, reverse ethnic cleansing and make reparations.

"For it is clear that the history of Jews will ultimately be marked indelibly, and above all other historical events, by what they have done in Palestine."

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