Monday, July 15, 2013

The U.S. and Biblical Israel. By Barbara Lerner.

The U.S. and Biblical Israel. By Barbara Lerner. National Review Online, January 5, 2012.

Instead of the “two-state solution,” restore what God gave Abraham’s people.


The mystery is why so many Americans who recognize these obvious facts fail to reject the two-state “solution” altogether; why, instead of saying a clear, confident “No” to the two-state idea, they can only respond to the unending pressure from Muslim supremacists in the Organization of the Islamic Conference, their appeasers in the U.N. and the EU, and their allies on the Bill Ayers Left with a feeble, evasive “Not now.” Why don’t we stand up and say, “No. A Palestinian state is a Trojan horse of an idea; accepting it was a great mistake, and it is past time to firmly and finally reject it”? Some few won’t do that because they still cling to the blind faith that if we just push the Israelis to make more of the sorts of increasingly painful and enfeebling concessions they have been making to no avail since the Oslo accord two decades ago, Muslim supremacists will suddenly make a 180-degree turn and say, “Okay, that’s enough, we accept you as equals,” and peace and brotherhood with a small b — a brotherhood that embraces all people everywhere, not just Muslims — will prevail at last. Most Americans abandoned that illusion years ago, slowly and regretfully, but fully.
The problem for the great majority of Americans, I think, is that they have no new formulation with which to replace the two-state idea, no new policy idea they can openly embrace and work to implement in its stead. And when they look for one in the tangle of U.N. legalisms that greeted Israel’s rebirth, they get nowhere, because it is the wrong starting place. The shrunken and misshapen little piece of lowland the U.N. initially ceded to Israel was militarily indefensible — an open invitation to the attacks that followed. Looking for answers in the Zionist movement Theodor Herzl founded in Europe in the 19th century is no answer either. Herzl and his pioneering followers in Europe and America did yeoman’s work, culminating in modern Israel’s declaration of independence in 1948, but it is shortsighted Western ethnocentrism to say that they created Israel.
A Jewish state in Biblical Israel could not be created by the U.N. or by the Jews of the West, only re-created. Ancient walls, scrolls, steles, and pottery, meticulously dated by modern science, bear irrefutable testimony to the existence of Biblical Israel. It was created nearly 4,000 years ago, and Jews have lived there, continuously, ever since.
It was only in the last 400 or so years that they migrated to the West in significant numbers, first to Europe and then to America. As late as the 19th century, a majority of all the world’s Jews still lived in the Middle East. Often, in their long, tortured past, they were reduced to a remnant in Israel itself, but they never disappeared entirely, and most did not go far; they remained in the Middle East. And from the rise of Islam in the seventh century on, they lived there as dhimmis, subservient, regarded as religious inferiors, impoverished, mostly, and with no rights that a Muslim was bound to respect. Today, these native Middle Eastern Jews — not Ashkenazi immigrants from the west — are a majority of all the Jews in Israel. They became the majority not long after Israel declared its independence in 1948, because Arabs in Middle Eastern countries where Jews had lived for centuries responded by stripping them of whatever possessions they had and driving them out, creating about a million refugees. Mass expulsions like this were not new to the Jewish people, east or west, but this time, all the Jews had a place to go. Nearly all of the eastern Jews, the Mizrahi, went home, to Israel.
But no matter where they were, religious Jews never forgot the dream of a return to Zion, greeting one another each year, on Rosh Hashanah, the penitential Jewish New Year, by saying, “Next year in Yerushalayim” (Jerusalem). And, until the 20th century, most Jews were religious. Like most Christians then, and a majority of American Christians now, they believed what the Old Testament teaches: that God gave Biblical Israel — the land from the River Jordan to the Mediterranean Sea, and from the Golan Heights to the Red Sea — to the Jews to be their homeland forever. They believe that God directed Abraham, the first Jew, to settle there, in Hebron, where he still lies, and his tomb still stands.
Abraham is the man who gave the world monotheism. Born into a primitive, polytheistic world where every tribe had its own jealous and exclusive god, often one that required human sacrifice, Abraham’s God taught him that there is only one God, a God who created the universe and all mankind, a God who rejects human sacrifice. And from that day to this, Jews at prayer repeat the same ancient affirmation of monotheism: “Shema Yisrael. Adonai Elohanu, Adonai Echad.” (Hear O Israel. The Lord our God, the Lord is One.) This one God is a God of justice, the Old Testament tells us, the God who gave us the Ten Commandments, to make clear our duty to treat all men justly.
The Old Testament tells us that He did this on Mount Sinai, a ways south of the Bethlehem birthplace of the next world-changing Jew, Jesus Christ; or from his crucifixion site on Mount Calvary. Jesus came to us 2,000 years ago, the New Testament tells us, to teach the world love and forgiveness, and well over 2 billion people — about a third of the people on earth — believe that He is God’s own Son, sent here by a merciful Father Who took pity on us mortal sinners and offered redemption and the promise of paradise to all who embrace Him and show true repentance. All this and more happened in Israel, the unique state whose essential geographical boundaries, the Bible tells us, were drawn by God Himself. No wonder, then, that the whole of Biblical Israel is and always has been holy ground to Bible believers everywhere. It is also militarily defensible ground, because it includes both Judea and Samaria — the land Muslim supremacists taught us to call “the West Bank” — as well as the high ground to the north, the Golan Heights.
“So what?” I hear my secular friends saying. “What has all this ancient history got to do with us, here in America, in 2012? Why should we care?” The answer is that we should all care, whether we are Jews, Christians, or Americans of other faiths, or of none, because our civilization — the Judeo-Christian civilization, from which we have all benefited enormously, and of which we are all a part — is under fierce attack today by Muslim supremacists, determined to force us all to bow down before them, either by converting to Islam or by accepting the status of dhimmis. This war did not start with the emergence of modern Israel; it has nothing to do with Israel’s treatment of the million or so Arabs in its midst; and it will not end if we allow Israel to be destroyed.
This war began in the seventh century, when Muhammad, believing that God had ordered him to conquer and rule the whole world in the name of Islam, first used Taqqiya to trick and then slaughter Jews in Saudi Arabia who did not bow to his new religion, and then went on to conquer large parts of the Arab world. It began, and continues today, because too many Muslims still refuse to accept people of other faiths — Jewish, Christian, Hindu, Buddhist, Zoroastrian — as equals they can respect and live in peace with; because too many are still committed to using Taqqiya and violence to establish their supremacy and our subservience. The problem is not that we have mistreated Muslims or failed to show them the respect they are due as people with great civilizational achievements in their own pasts. The problem is that supremacist Muslims have no respect for us. Accepting the ersatz identity of the so-called Palestinian people and groveling before this and other supremacist Taqqiyas does not win us respect. It earns us contempt, and strengthens the conviction — growing by leaps and bounds all over the Muslim world today, even in once-friendly Muslim lands — that we are a weak, confused, and cowardly people, remnants of a dying civilization, ripe for toppling. To change their minds, and our future, we need to reject the Palestinian Taqqiya and embrace Biblical Israel.

How to Use Sex Like a Russian Spy. By Peter Sullivan.

How to Use Sex Like a Russian Spy. By Peter Sullivan. Foreign Policy, July 12, 2013.

Whither Egypt’s Democracy? By Ahmad Shokr.

Whither Egypt’s Democracy? By Ahmad Shokr. Middle East Research and Information Project, July 12, 2013.

Libertarianism’s Neo-Confederate Southern Avenger Delusion. By Carole Emberton.

Libertarianism’s Neo-Confederate Southern Avenger Delusion. By Carole Emberton. History News Network, July 15, 2013.

Ramadan Series “Khaybar” Is a Battle Cry Against Jews. By Ariel Ben Solomon.

Ramadan series “Khaybar” is a battle cry against Jews. By Ariel Ben Solomon. Jerusalem Post, July 11, 2013.

The Image of the Jew in the Ramadan TV Show “Khaybar” – Treacherous, Hateful of the Other, Scheming, And Corrupt. By Y. Yehoshua. MEMRI, Inquiry and Analysis Series Report No. 995, July 10, 2013.

“Khaybar”—A Middle East Reality Check. By Jonathan S. Tobin. NJBR, June 20, 2013.

There’s a New Anti-Semitic Television Series Set for Broadcast in the Muslim World. By Sharona Schwartz. The Blaze, June 20, 2013.

New Antisemitic Arab TV Series: Jews of Khaybar Instigate War Between Arab Tribes. Video. MEMRI TV. Clip No. 3874, June 13, 2013. Transcript.

Actors of Arab TV Series Khaybar Make Antisemitic Remarks. MEMRI TV. Clip No. 3902. July 8, 2013. YouTube.

Antisemitic Arab TV Series “Khaybar”: Deception Is the Creed of the Jews, Conspiracy Their Religion. Dubai TV. MEMRI TV, Video Clip No. 3934, August 1, 2013. YouTube. Transcript.

Ben Solomon:

During Ramadan, Muslims fast from dawn until dusk, after which they eat and many enjoy television shows made especially for the holiday.
Arab TV satellite channels are airing a series this year called Khaybar, referring to the Muslim massacre of the Jews of the town of that name in northwestern Arabia in 628 CE.
After the attack, some Muslims, including Muhammad, took surviving women as wives.
The Muslim conquerors charged the Jews a 50 percent tax on their crops and in 637, after Muhammad’s death, the Caliph Omar expelled the remaining Jews from Khaybar.
In Islamic tradition, the chant “Khaybar Khaybar, ya yahud, Jaish Muhammad, sa yahud,” which means, “Jews, remember Khaybar, the army of Muhammad is returning,” is used as a battle cry when attacking Jews or Israelis.
It was, for example, chanted on the Mavi Marmara Gaza flotilla ship in May 2010.
The show deals with the relationship between the Jews and the Arab tribes of Medina as well as between the Jews of Medina and Khaybar, MEMRI (the Middle East Media Research Institute) reported on Wednesday. One Arab media outlet described the film as demonstrating the Jews’ “hostility toward others, their treacherous nature, and their repeated betrayals.”
The plot deals with Jews asking Miqdad, an Arab warrior, to fight for them; he refuses to kill women and children and is sent to prison. Another episode, based on Islamic tradition, involves a Jewish woman whose father and brother were killed by Muslims and who tries to get revenge by attempting to poison the prophet.
The film was produced by Echo Media, a Qatari company owned by Hashem al-Sayed.
The show is set to air on channels such as Dubai TV, Dream TV (Egypt), Al-Iraqiyya TV, Algerian Channel 3, Atlas TV (Algeria), Qatar TV and UAE TV, according to the MEMRI report.
Sameh al-Sereity, one of the main actors in the show, plays Muhammad ibn Maslamah, the bodyguard of the prophet Muhammad. Sereity told an Egyptian newspaper the show portrays the evolution of Jews’ hatred of others.
“The hostility between us and the Jews still exists. The hatred is ingrained. Neither Egyptians nor Arabs need this show to justify their hatred of Zionism. The existing struggles between us provide the simplest proof of this,” he said.
Another actor, Ahmad Abd al-Halim, said, “I play one of the Jewish characters, who demonstrates the behavior of the Jewish human being. All he thinks about is accumulating money.”
The show’s screenwriter, Yusri al-Gindi, said in an interview with Al Jazeera about the series, “The Jews are the Jews. They still act according to their nature, despite the passing generations. They corrupt any society in which they live, and therefore no regime can protect them with any contract or agreement.
The crisis in the Arab world offers the best proof of this, and this is where the show gets its current relevance.”
He added, “It happened in Babylon, Rome, Imperial Russia and Hitler’s Germany. Later, the West banished them to the Arab region, where they continue to serve it [the West] to this day.”

Shocking Video of Western Men Tormenting a Korean Woman in a Seoul Nightclub. By Max Fisher.

Korea’s Web community roiled by shocking video of Western men tormenting a local woman. By Max Fisher. Washington Post, July 15, 2013. Also here.

Controversial video of Western men harassing a Korean woman appears to have been staged. By Max Fisher. Washington Post, July 25, 2013.

Was video of Western men abusing Korean woman staged? By Suzannah Hills. Daily Mail, July 26, 2013.

Disturbing, 78-Second Video Surfaces of a Korean Woman Being Harassed at a Night Club. By Liz Klimas. The Blaze, July 16, 2013.

Men Seen Harassing Korean Woman in Graphic Video Claim It Was All Fake. By Liz Klimas. The Blaze, July 17, 2013.

A conversation with “lastknownsurvivor” about the “Facebook video.” Gusts of Popular Feeling, July 24, 2013.

Racism Video: Two Western Men Harass and Insult Korean Girl, Viewers Express Outrage on Racist Act. By Jenalyn Villamarin. International Business Times, July 16, 2013.

Video of Western men abusing a Korean woman is even more than it seems. By Rachel Tackett. Rocket News 24, July 22, 2013.

Video on Facebook and YouTube. YouTube.

MBC Report: White Men Tormenting Korean Woman in Nightclub. Video. freeoflegalism, July 16, 2013. YouTube. Also here.

Men Torment Korean Woman in Nightclub. Video. The Young Turks, July 16, 2013. YouTube.

Korean woman abused by white guys in shocking video. Video. TomoNews US, July 17, 2013. YouTube.

The Seeds of Jihad. By Shari Goodman.

The Seeds of Jihad. By Shari Goodman. Family Security Matters, July 15, 2013.


Not a day goes by when I venture out to any local shopping or recreational area when I am not confronted by many Muslim women in their traditional hijabs or on occasion full burkas. Sometimes they are alone, but more often than not they are in groups and totally oblivious to the non-Muslims within their midst. Deliberately, they avoid eye contact as they gaze past us.
A dozen years after 19 Muslims murdered 3000 of our American mothers, fathers, sons, and daughters in the name of Islam, we find our American landscape transformed with the practioners of the very ideology responsible for 9/11 and the nearly 22,000 murders committed worldwide by Islamists since that infamous day. Reason dictates that the welcome mat should have been removed, but instead their numbers have greatly increased and as their numbers rise so does the threat from a civilizational jihad as outlined in the Muslim Brotherhood’s Explanatory Memorandum: On the General Strategic Goal for the Group in North America.  ( )
As the daughter of Holocaust survivors, I lost too many family members to another supremacist totalitarian ideology, Nazism. It is frightening to see a new present form of Nazism within Islamic doctrine with the same mission of world dominion, the destruction of the state of Israel, and the ethnic cleansing of world Jewry. Cloaked in religion to avoid scrutiny and criticism, Islamic doctrine is far more menacing. While our Judeo-Christian doctrine teaches “thou shall not murder,” Islamic doctrine states that to die while waging jihad ensures the jihadist entry into heaven. (Bukhari 1,2, 35 Mohammed said “The man who joins jihad, compelled by nothing except sincere belief in Allah and His Prophet, and survives, will be rewarded by Allah either in the afterlife or with the spoils of war.  If he is killed in battle and dies a martyr, he will be admitted into Paradise. . . .”) Islam’s command “to kill” vs. Judeo-Christian’s command “thou shall not murder” are two diametrically opposed doctrines that cannot co-exist. It is threatening and offensive to millions of Americans that the descendants and subscribers of Mohammed, a murderous barbaric warlord, who pillaged vast continents with his sword are given a home in the land of the free.
Yet, our elected officials continue to give them entry at our expense. We now have over 2000 Islamic command centers officially known as mosques throughout the United States. A recent study, Mapping the Shari’a Project, by the Center for Security Policy found that over 80% of mosques in this country were preaching hatred of Christians and Jews in their quest to impose Shari’a law upon all of us. ( Additionally, there are frequent demands for accomodations, special prayer time in schools, prayer rooms at private and public institutions, Halal meat only in schools, segregation between the sexes in public pools, Muslim Capitol Days throughout the country, requests for Shari’a application in our judicial courts, and the list goes on.
And as a woman the nearly total cover up and head gear of Muslim women is an affront to Western women’s hard fought battle for equality. We drive, vote, work, dress freely, and express ourselves without male supervision, consent, or fear. As American women we enjoy equal protection under the law; yet, our right to be free will be jeopardized if we continue to import a culture that forbids what American women take for granted. Islamic practices of honor killings, female genital mutilation, child marriages, and polygamy have now made their way into cities across our land. The Women’s Movement born to secure women’s rights and equality remains eerily silent. They should be outraged, but instead their silence is deafening. Perhaps the Women’s Movement was never about aiding women as much as it was about tearing down traditional American institutions.
The question remains: Why are we allowing a hostile population with a culture of jihad and Dawah (proselytizing Islam) entry into our home? They are not here to assimilate, integrate, or adopt our traditions, values, or culture. They are here to colonize, and we are permitting it. A quick glimpse of Europe is a window to what awaits us here at home if we do not stop the colonization. Sweden, a bedrock of civilization and a rescuer of Danish Jews during World War II is now the rape capitol of Europe where Muslim gangs commit nearly 77.6% of the rape crimes of young White Swedish females. ( Malmo, a city in Sweden, once home to many Jews, is now practically devoid of Jews after the many threats and acts of violence from Malmo’s Muslim population. So threatening were the Muslims, that Malmo’s mayor, Itmar Reepalu, declared that he could not protect Malmo’s Jews and suggested for them to leave Sweden.  Instead of ousting the Muslims, the morally bankrupt Leftist mayor added insult to injury by asking the victims of Muslim aggression to leave. In nearby France, cities are rocked by Muslim rioting, and England’s no go zones such as Hamlet Towers are not safe for non-Muslims. The beheadings commonly witnessed in Muslim countries have made their way to England, and instead of protecting its citizens, British authorities are protecting the Muslims by threatening to arrest those who criticize Islam. Unless Europe musters the courage to forgo their policies of appeasement, Europeans will lose their national identity and their once rich culture. Without the motivation or courage to defend their continent Dhimmitude (servitude) awaits them. Europe as we know it will be lost.
In September of 2012, Obama stated that “the future must not belong to those who slander the prophet of Islam” before a U.N. General Assembly. ( His administration is in support of U.N. Resolution 16/18 which would criminalize any criticism of Islam. Not only would such a resolution be a violation of our First Amendment as guaranteed by our Constitution, but instead it would lend support to the Muslim Brotherhood’s mission of imposing Islamic Shari’a law upon our land. Much like Europe, we too stand at a precipice. We can continue to disregard the danger from importing a hostile Muslim population whose religion and culture are the antithesis of ours or we can close down the mosques, ban the Muslim Brotherhood within our shores, and boot out those who refuse to conform to our values and culture. The choice is ours. The future must not belong to those who support a Jihadist doctrine.

Trayvon Martin and Tisha B’Av: A Left-Wing Jewish Response. By Michael Lerner.

Trayvon Martin and Tisha B’Av: A (Left-Wing) Jewish Response. By Michael Lerner. Tikkun, July 14, 2013.


The acquittal by jury of George Zimmerman who shot and murdered the unarmed black teenager Trayvon Martin was emblematic of the consistent  racism and double standard used in the treatment of minority groups or those deemed “Other” in the U.S. and around the world. Where is there justice in a world in which so many people suffer oppression and in which those who choose to use violence as a way to address and deal with their hatred and fear often seem to triumph?
Jewish theology holds that there is a karmic order, so that evil actions will not always run the world. Justice and compassion are both essential to the survival of the planet.  Unlike many religions that focus on individual sinners and imagine that they will be punished in some future not currently verifiable—for example in a heaven or hell after life, or in a reincarnation in some form that provides rewards or punishments for how one lives in this world, most of Jewish theology sees karma as playing out on a societal scale, and over the long run.
There may never be a this-world punishment for George Zimmerman. Murderers and other perpetrators of evil too often get rewarded instead of punished.  James Comey, who played an important role in approving water-boarding and indefinite detention without trial when he served in the Bush Administration, was appointed last week by President Obama to head the FBI.   The Director of National Intelligence James Clapper lied to Congress in denying NSA surveillance of American citizens, but it is Edward Snowden who is now seeking asylum for whistle-blowing and revealing the extent of that lie. Henry Kissinger who played a central role in prolonging the Vietnam war (causing thousands of deaths)  still receives public acclaim. Those bankers and investment brokers who were responsible for the 2008 meltdown of the economy and the loss of homes for millions of Americans received rewards and huge bonuses instead of prison sentences. And corporate leaders who have been responsible for polluting our air, water and land around the planet remain firmly in power while environmentalists are scorned and their message largely ignored by the Obama Administration.
So where’s the justice?
The answer that emerges from Jewish texts is this: God has created the earth in such a way that it cannot tolerate moral evil forever. There will be a judgment, but it will come to the entire society, not just to the perpetrator of evil. For the Jewish people, the Torah predicts that if we do not establish a just society in the Land of Israel the earth will vomit us out. And for all of humanity, we are taught that if the society is not based on the Torah principles of justice, peace, love for neighbors and love the stranger (the Other) there will be an environmental catastrophe and all human and animal life is potentially at risk of perishing.  The reason we will all suffer for the harmful actions of a few is because we each bear responsibility for doing our part to bring tikkun to the world. So if we sit by in silence when people are suffering, the planet is being destroyed, etc. we are also responsible and will suffer for our inactions. The Torah takes a hard line on this—it calls for us to be bringing the issue of justice and fairness, love and generosity, peace and environmental sanity into every situation we find ourselves—both in the public arena and in our personal lives. We are urged to bring up these issues even when others may feel it inappropriate, when some people will tell us we should “lighten up” and should not always bring “politics” into the discussion, when our friends tell us that they don’t’ want to hear about things that are depressing. We should talk about them when we go to sleep at night and when we get up in the morning, teach this to our children, and right it upon the door posts of our houses and our gates. Merely complaining to a few friends is NOT enough.
It was this theology that allowed the Jews to survive through what might be called righteous self-blaming.  When Jews this week commemorate Tisha B’Av, the day of mourning for the various catastrophes that have befallen the Jewish people starting with the exile from our land that occurred after the Babylonians conquered Judea in 586 BCE and after the Romans destroyed the 2nd Temple in 70 C.E. , our prayers proclaimed “because we sinned we were exiled from our land.”  This is a form of self-blaming which is actually empowering, because it tells us that we can change our situation through our own actions as a people (not one by one, but together–and building and sustaining that “together” is really a central underlying Jewish concern and a point of much of Jewish practice–not the lone meditator but the community of people together seeking to connect to the spiritual reality of the universe).
Jewish theologians have pointed out that in this kind of a world, there is much room for human freedom precisely because God does not jump in and right every wrong. To create humans in God’s image, the Transformative Power of the universe (aka God) evolved in humans the freedom to choose how to live, even as that same God gave us a revelation that taught us to love each other and love the Other (the stranger).
Yet there is a danger to this kind of freedom: some people can literally “get away with murder.” Too many of Hitler’s willing executioners, too many of Stalinist Russia’s jailers and murderers, too many of those who implemented Western colonialism and imperialism at the cost of massive suffering in the “underdeveloped” world, too many of those who have abused and exploited in every society, remain powerful and live relatively happy and contented lives while their victims go to the grave without ever having been compensated and their suffering has sometimes even scarred future generations. And every day the capitalist marketplace’s values seep deeper into the collective consciousness and unconsciousness of much of the human race alive in the 2nd decade of the 21st century (in Jewish calculations, the year is 5773).
The highest value of the capitalist marketplace is individual freedom (to consume whatever they want whenever they want and without regard to the social consequence sof what is being produced or consumed. Try to impose restrictions on guns in the name of public safety, and you find yourself surrounded by people who, having imbibed the capitalist notion that the good life is that with the most possessions, that safety comes from domination over others, and that the state must never play a role in restricting individual freedom, inist that there be no limit on the proliferation of guns and weapons, limits that might have kept George Zimmerman from parading around with guns to use on strangers.  A central command of Torah—to love the stranger (the Other) has been wiped out of the collective memory of a society which in other respects (e.g. on abortion or gay rights) often seems to be checking its bible for guidance. So I have to mourn for a society that perpetuates hatred, that created the George Zimmerman and the other George Zimmerman’s in the world.  Or that created George White, the African American man in NY who was convicted of murdering a white teenage boy – a black man who grew up in the lynchings of the South and had a genuine reason to fear for his safety (even if he had other options for how to respond in the situation) and was likely having a flashback at the time but was recently convicted of murder. All this violence, all this fear—and so we need so much more love, compassion, and generosity to heal all the distortions that keep generating so much suffering.
Moreover, when the oppressive regimes of the past are overthrown, the innocent in those societies often suffer as much as the perpetrators of evil. Read the book of Lamentations written in the wake of Jerusalem being conquered by the ancient Babylonians and read this week on Monday night when many religious Jews begin the one day of fasting and mourning called Tisha B’Av, and you can hear the same kind of stories that we hear 2500 years later from the victims of Hiroshima and Nagasaki—that it is innocents who often take the brunt of the suffering even when an oppressive regimen is being overthrown.
That same story will play out on a massive level unless global capitalism is quickly replaced by global economic arrangements that gives priority to preserving the global environment  and building a society that gives primacy to love and generosity over corporate and individual greed. Just as the Torah predicted some 2500 years ago (or more), there will be an environmental catastrophe unless there is the kind of revolutionary changes sought by Torah (including the massive redistribution of wealth every fifty years during the Jubilee—Yovel, the cessation of work every seventh year for the entire society—the Sabbatical Year observed by everyone on the same year, the weekly cessation of all work and all dealing with money or domination or “power over”—the Jewish Shabbat—plus the forgiving of all loans; and of course, the implementation of the Torah laws calling on us to love the stranger—the Other—and love our neighbors). But here again, those who suffer will not only be those who fought to keep corporate power and capitalist materialism and selfishness in place, but everyone in the entire society.
Perhaps the point here is that there is no possibility of people thinking that if they personally live good and just lives they will be rewarded with health, happiness, and the benefits of life on earth. That fantasy is a product of capitalist distortion that encourages us to think of ourselves as “lone rangers” whose fate depends on ourselves. The reality, Torah and Judaism teach, is that we are intrinsically part of a larger society and world, and that our fate is intrinsically bound up with the fate of everyone else on the planet and the fate of the planet itself.
So where is God’s beneficence in all this? That S/He/It conveyed to us that this is how the world was set up, and gave us the insights on what we needed to do to preserve the planet. Exercising stewardship over the earth, acknowledging that we don’t ever have a “right” to the land but only an obligation to use it in ways that are environmentally sustainable and socially just, to be loving and caring toward each other, to respond to the natural world with awe and wonder and radical amazement. Sometimes I wish that God were actually the big man in heaven who intervenes in human history that appears in the imagination of many and that gets called upon in some of our prayers. But that God doesn’t exist, or, at best, is in hiding and can’t be expected to respond to our prayers calling for immediate interventions into history.  Except through us, created in God’s image and now partners with God in the healing and transformation of the world (and the word tikkun refers precisely to that process which we must carry out in this world and at this time).
So, no, there will be no justice for Trayvon Martin, of for the hundreds of thousands of minorities that fill our prisons, or for the hundred of millions of people who are now suffering malnutrition and living in conditions of extreme poverty.  But there will be a price to be paid, and it will be paid, perhaps by those of us still alive in the next ten to twenty years, certainly by the whole human race within the next fifty years.
And there will be a come-uppance for the Jewish people for having allowed Israel to present itself as “the state of the Jewish people” even while it was engaged in oppressive policies toward its own Arab citizens, toward the Palestinian people as a whole,  and toward the Bedouins upon whom the Knesset is now seeking to deny rights. For those of us, including myself, who love Israel and wish it to survive and flourish, the continuing tragic path it chooses, largely a result of the still-dominant Post Traumatic Stress Disorder which I describe in my book Embracing Israel/Palestine and which operates equally self-destructively among Palestinians, the self-inflicted wounds of the Jewish people today raise more sorrow than anger, more wishes to assist in healing than desire to see punishment, more deep sadness for our people which once again, in power, is doing precisely the kind of distorted activity that led to the last two Jewish exiles from our land.
But this time it will be different, because the fate of Israel is intrinsically tied to the fate of the rest of the planet. And that fate is growing more and more disastrous every day we continue to allow the environment to be poisoned and the minds of ordinary people filled with the common sense of capitalist ideology: that are all alone, that we are powerless to change anything big beyond our personal lives, that we can’t trust others except if we have power over them, that domination rather than generosity is the path to homeland security, and that we shouldn’t worry because everything will work out fine.  It is this twin focus, mourning for the mis-direction of Israel and the destructive impact of global capitalism on the life support system for the planet, that is my focus for Tisha B’Av.
So this is all part of what I’m mourning as I start my fasting for Tisha B’Av.  Monday night, July 15.
But Judaism has always included a message of hope as well, and it is this: we human beings are not morally neutral—we have a positive and powerful inclination toward the good, manifesting as a fundamental human need to be in loving relationship with each other and in an equally powerful need to live in a morally coherent universe in which our lives have a transcendent meaning that goes beyond the materialism and selfishness of the world of class structure and oppression. This inclination can never be fully repressed. It continues to pop up even among those seemingly most beaten down . So Tisha B’Av turns on Tuesday afternoon from mourning to rebuilding.
When I was growing up, that rebuilding was focused on the Zionist enterprise, which was seen as “the answer” or “the tikkun”  to the Holocaust and the previous suffering of the Jewish people. Today, it’s  more obvious that Israel and Zionism itself need a huge tikkun, and that must come from returning to the deepest truth: that we are all equally created in the image of God, all deserving of love and compassion, and all yearning for a world of kindness and generosity and caring for each other and the earth.
And that compassion must also extend to those whose own inner distortions lead them to act in racist, sexist, homophobic, or xenophobic ways. It is in building a movement that can at once challenge the global ethos of materialism and selfishness while simultaneously manifesting a great deal of compassion and generosity of spirit toward those who are suffering from their own PTSD or from their indoctrination into the values of the competitive marketplace that there lies the greatest hope for a different kind of world, for the tikkun olam (transformation and healing of the world). And that too is part of the meaning of Tisha B’Av, and a reason for hope that before the next set of disasters paralyze and possibly destroy human life on earth as we have known it,  it may still be possible for an ethos of love, kindness, generosity, ethical and environmental sanity, and awe and wonder at the grandeur of the universe to bring the world to a deeper harmony and a less destructive path. That deep inclination inside every human being is apparent in hundreds of millions of people on our planet, if only we could find a way to work together and recognize each other. I like to call this up-wising (yes, up-wising) of the goodness in humanity: Love’s Rebellion—and it’s what gave Martin Luther King Jr. the faith that the arc of the universe bends toward justice.