Sunday, October 3, 2010

beyond victimhood - Jews, power and privilege

The post title is not my own, but that of a rabbi who has posted an outstanding sermon online. It is lengthy but well worth reading. What follows is my response to it, long enough in itself, but placed here with the hope that you will read the sermon as well.

Jews, more than any people, should object (and do!) to what Israel is doing in the occupied territories.

Rabbi Brian:

I was raised in a Christian family with little contact with Jews until I was a teenager. As I grew up, however, I enjoyed history and my impression, which grew stronger the more I read, was that wherever someone was in trouble, often beyond hope, there might well appear a Jew to help. Your sermon makes me realize the basis for acts that had led to my impression – a fundamental philosophy that you describe so well. No wonder a Jew might well step forward when there was nothing material to gain and the life or reputation of a person was at stake.

In recent years my positive impression of Judaism has not weakened, but my unquestioning positive regard for all who call themselves Jewish has been tested by Israeli policies. For too long I have done nothing to aid those who, in the occupied territories, are completely at the mercy of a people I had always considered the most merciful.

I believe that we should take as a first truth that, for good or bad, each of us is equally a human being. There is no guarantee of good behavior because we come from one group or another. The most powerful emphasis on doing right can be resolutely ignored by anyone. The Lebanese militias of the late 1970′s that called themselves Christian were no less driven by hatred and prone to violence than their adversaries.

We all should be judged by what we do, not by any claims based on our heritage or family or wealth. May the wisdom in your sermon be widely heard. The opportunity to be a mentsh happens frequently for those who are able to see it. It’s the best kind of opportunity that can knock.

1 comment:

  1. The view you express is, I believe, the only possible way out of this mess, or any mess. It will not be easy, never is, and many will be wasted of life before things move. But other reactions lead us, in various forms, to the settler mentality. Which is why, although I am a no one, I continue, unto my 50's, to admire Gandhi and King.

    Your collection of posts is a real resource. Thanks Clif (got the name right this time)