Righteous Jews — Israel’s uncomfortable voices of dissent

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During a recent talk on the “new-anti-Semitism” and the nonsense thereof, DePaul University professor Norman Finkelstein told an overflow Vancouver audience a little-known fact about the International Solidarity Movement–”about 20 percent of its members are Jewish.

A number of these Jews, he said, come to Israel on free “discover your roots” junkets, and then cross into the Occupied Territories to stand alongside Palestinians and internationals fighting against house demolitions, “settler” terror, and other war crimes.

The image of righteous Jews taking a moral and physical stand against tanks and bulldozers is profoundly disquieting to Israel and its North American agents. Unlike Palestinians and internationals, righteous Jews cannot be libeled with the impotent epithet “anti-Semites.” They are a living indictment of the political failure of the zionist state, and of the moral bankruptcy of zionism itself.

Take the case of Rabbi Arik Ascherman–”the U.S.-born, Harvard-educated executive director of Rabbis for Human Rights. For 10 years, he has been protecting Palestinians from “settler” terror, helping farmers with olive harvests, getting people through checkpoints and to hospitals, and obstructing housing demolitions.

Last October, five armed zealots from the “settlement” of Mitzpeh Yutzahr near Nablus confronted and attacked Ascherman and other rabbis who came to help with the harvest. “These people believe that their Torah tells them to vandalize land and abuse Palestinian people,” Ascherman told aljazeera.net. “I will continue to come here day after day to tell these settlers that they are wrong and that the Torah doesn’t teach us Jews to behave in this way.”

Ascherman takes his reading of Judaic tolerance from Leviticus (19:33–”35):
“And if a stranger sojourn with thee in your land, ye shall not vex him.
“But the stranger that dwelleth with you shall be unto you as one born among you, and thou shalt love him as thyself; for ye were strangers in the land of Egypt: I am the LORD your God.
“Ye shall do no unrighteousness in judgment….”

On the question of human rights he cites Genesis 1:27: “God created mankind in his own image, in the image of God he created them.” This is also the core belief of the Israeli peace group B’Tselem [lit: “in the image of”], which it says is inherent in the first article of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights: “All human beings are born equal in dignity and rights.”

In April 2003, Ascherman tried to prevent the demolition of two houses so that Israel could maintain Jewish demographic superiority. This January, he was put on trial for interfering with police operations.*

This double standard toward Jews is disturbingly similar to the Third Reich’s distinction between good Jews and bad Jews. The good Jews were the secular zionists who also wanted to rid Europe of Jewry. The bad Jews were everyone else, especially the most religious. In Israel, a good Jew supports state terror against a defenseless people. A bad Jew uses the Torah to denounce Israel’s irreligious brutality, and has a working moral compass.

Historically, Israel is a typical of a military régime that marginalizes or ostracizes its internal critics. These people present a great danger to the régime because they adhere to original ideals, and retain at least a passing respect for morality and the law. An external enemy, on the other hand, is vitally important because it provides the reason for the régime’s existence.

For this reason, Israel sabotages every peace negotiation, and flogs the canard of the “new anti-Semitism” to give the illusion that Jews are in jeopardy outside of Israel. If ever Israel finalized its borders, it would cease to be an expansionist colonial empire and have to accept the right of Palestinians to exist within secure borders. This, zionists could never do.

To all intents and purposes, Jews and Judaism are meant to serve the zionist state, not the other way around. Any Jew who challenges Israel’s conduct on religious, moral or political grounds can expect to be denounced as a “self-hating Jew” or intimidated into silence.

On Jan. 29, 2003, Rabbi Yarchi and his son R. M. Yarchi set up a booth in Jerusalem to sell a book of the writings of the anti-zionist Satmar Rabbi Yoel Teitelbaum. After about 80 copies were sold, two police officers told the Yarchis they were under arrest for selling anti-Israeli literature.

If Teitelbaum can be denounced in this manner, then so can the vast majority of Jews in the late 19th and early 20th centuries. Fact is, Christian governments were more keen on zionism than were Jews. Typical is this statement by prominent U.S. Jews prepared for President Wilson at the Paris Peace Conference in March 1919:

“We raise our voices in warning and protest against the demand of the zionists for the reorganization of the Jews as a national unit, to whom, now or in the future, territorial sovereignty in Palestine shall be committed. This demand not only misrepresents the trend of the history of the Jews, who ceased to be a nation 2000 years ago, but involves the limitation and possible annulment of the larger claims of Jews for full citizenship and human rights in all lands in which those rights are not yet secure. For the very reason that the new era upon which the world is entering aims to establish government everywhere on principles of true democracy, we reject the zionistic project of a ‘national home for the Jewish people in Palestine.’…

“We ask that Palestine be constituted as a free and independent state, to be governed under a democratic form of government recognizing no distinctions of creed or race or ethnic descent, and with adequate power to protect the country against oppression of any kind. We do not wish to see Palestine, either now or at any time in the future, organized as a Jewish State.”

Freedom, democracy and equal rights for all a single state–”a righteous Jewish solution ruined by zionists.

Notes:
* Shaista Aziz, “Rabbis attacked by armed settlers,” Oct. 28, 2003, aljazeera.net; Ben Lynfield, “Activist rabbi faces trial in Israel,” Christian Science Monitor, Jan. 15, 2004.

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