Monday, June 24, 2024

‘Faith in Dialogue’ Won’t Stop Zionist Violence


Zionism violence genocide ethnic cleansing colonialism oppression racism heresy Black Christians Synagogues hypocrisy duplicity racism religion appropriation capture

Lawrence Davidson responds to a recent commentary in The New York Times by two heirs of the Black-Jewish alliance of the 1960s.

In the early 2000s, I was a member of a group called Academics for Israeli-Palestinian Peace. The group went often to the Middle East, visiting most of the countries of that region.

We repeatedly traveled to Israel and the Palestinian Territories. We interviewed both leaders and ordinary folks. When we would return to the U.S., I would seek out venues to report on our findings — which could be critical of Israel.

I spoke at academic institutions, civic organizations, and to religious groups. However there were always two groups which kept me away from their members:

Most synagogues — It was easy enough to explain this. Most organized Jewish institutions are partisan. They were and mostly still are, dedicated to the dream of a Jewish state functioning as a safe haven in an anti-Semitic world.

The downside of racism felt toward, and oppressive policies applied against, the Palestinians were realities they chose not to deal with. Even today, in the midst of overwhelming evidence of Israel’s failure to preserve either Jewish lives or Jewish ethics, most synagogues will not allow anti-Zionists to speak, even if they are Jewish.  

The other group, Black churches, was at first harder to comprehend. During the struggle for racial justice in the U.S., culminating with the civil rights legislation of 1964-1965, there was an alliance between American Jewish and Black organizations.

That alliance was not as smooth and solid as it is popularly believed, but it was real in the sense that you had two groups who saw something to be gained by supporting each other. Black American success in the mid 1960s actually loosened the alliance because it created the space for a Black reassessment of Zionism. 

However, that reassessment did not reach those Black Americans who were religiously motivated to identify with a biblically imagined picture of Jewish history. Or, as the authors we are about to analyze put it, “our shared history of slavery and oppression and our common biblical commitment to the prophetic traditions of justice and equality.”

Where this problematic picture held sway, someone speaking out against Zionism was, in my experience, not welcome.  (more...)

‘Faith in Dialogue’ Won’t Stop Zionist Violence

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