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Sunday, March 29, 2015

Israel Faces Moses’s Demand to Pharaoh

Israel Faces Moses’s Demand to Pharaoh

The racist dishonesty of Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu has
challenged Judaism’s humanistic principles, as many young
Jews will now flip the Passover script, putting the Palestinians
in the position of Moses demanding “Let my people go” – or
give them the vote in one state.

By Rabbi Michael Lerner
Consortiumnews.com
Sunday, March 29, 2015

What makes this year’s Passover Seders unlike any others is that
a majority of American Jews have been forced to face the fact
that Palestinians today are asking Jews what Moses asked Pharaoh:

“Let my people go.”

The Israeli elections, and subsequent support for Prime Minister
Benjamin Netanyahu’s open racism and obstinate refusal to help
create a Palestinian state, is not playing well with many younger
Jews, and they will be challenging their elders to rethink their
blind support for Israeli policies.

Increasingly, young Jews are on the Moses side, and see
Netanyahu as the contemporary Pharaoh.

So at the Seder more and more Jews will be asking Israel
to “let the Palestinian people go.”

The easiest way ​for Israel ​to ​allow Palestinians their freedom is to
create a politically and economically viable Palestinian state living
in peace with Israel and based on the 1967 borders of Israel with
slight border changes to allow Israel to incorporate the settlements
in Gush Etzion and Jewish parts of Jerusalem that were built on
conquered Arab land in 1967.

The terms for that agreement were well worked out by
“The Geneva Accord” developed by former Yitzhak Rabin
aide (and Ehud Barak’s Minister of Justice) Yossi Beilin,
and would include Jerusalem serving as the capital of both
states, massive reparations to the Palestinian people to
help fund such a state (paid in part by the international
community), and joint police and military cooperation,
supplemented by international help, to deal with the
inevitable acts of terror from both Israeli and Palestinian
terrorists who would want to block any such agreement.

Though Prime Minister Netanyahu has now sought to back away
from his unequivocal election commitment in mid-March that he
would never allow Palestinians to have a separate state, it is clear
to most American Jews that he was telling the truth to his own
community when he made that commitment.

Only a fully unambiguous embrace of a detailed plan for ending the
Occupation of the West Bank and the blockade of Gaza, and major
unilateral acts on Israel’s part to begin to implement the creation
of a Palestinian state, would be believed by any Palestinians at this
point.

And who can blame them?

But Netanyahu, like Pharaoh, has a hardened heart.

Like Pharaoh’s dealings with Moses, he is likely to make statements
seeking to appease the people he holds in bondage on the West
Bank and Gaza, but when it comes to actions, he will give little
but token steps that are not close to the freedom the Palestinian
people rightly ask for themselves.

In a tragic reversal, we who had been oppressed now oppress, as
though the psychological dynamic of the victim identifying with
the oppressor is now playing out in a way that brings dishonor to
the revolutionary vision of freedom that the Jewish people brought
to the world and have celebrated for at least 2,000 years as central
to Judaism.

Not that we had no warning — our Torah explicitly repeats over
and over versions of the following theme:

“When you come into land, do not oppress the stranger/other,
remember that you were the stranger/other in the Land of Egypt.”

Given this reality, many Jews, and a disproportionately larger
number of young Jews, will be asking a provocative question at
their Seder tables:

“If Israel won’t let the Palestinian people have their own state,
then don’t we have to insist that the Palestinians in the West Bank
and Gaza be given the vote?"

“After 45 years of Occupation and subordination to the Israeli
government, Israel can no longer claim to be a democratic society
while denying the vote to those Palestinians who live under Occupation."

“If West Bank Palestinians and Gazans are not allowed the same
rights as Jews living next door to them in West Bank settlements,
how can we pretend that Israel is not acting as an oppressor and
forsaking any claim to be a democracy?”

The call for “One Person, One Vote” has a strong resonance with
the American people and with most people on the planet.

It may even resonate with many Israelis who have memories of
what it was like to live in societies that did not give Jews equal
rights.

But for other Israelis, that demand might be the one thing that
would open them up to the need for the immediate creation of
a separate Palestinian state.

Fearful that giving Palestinians in the West Bank and Gaza the same
rights already given to Palestinians living within the pre-’67 borders
of Israel might give Palestinians real power to influence the
outcome of elections, they might respond in the same panic that
led Netanyahu to scare Israelis that they had better get out to vote
because Israeli Palestinians were already going to the polls in large
numbers.

The Palestinian Authority might find that adopting the demand
for “​One Person, One Vote”​ might be the most powerful way
to get the two states they’ve unsuccessfully sought up till now.

In my view, two states are preferable to trying a forced marriage
between two peoples that have so much mutual suspicion – they
need a clean divorce, not a shotgun wedding!

But since Israel won’t give that divorce any other way, the demand
for a fair marriage is better than Palestinians remaining a de facto
slave to Israeli​ fears and Israeli power.

Passover Seders are all about asking important questions — this
year, many American Jews are likely to be asking how Jews can
celebrate our own freedom without insisting that Israel “Let their
people go” or at least give them the vote!

Many younger Jews are good at sniffing out hypocrisy, and they may
be causing a heated debate at any Seder that avoids this question.



Rabbi Michael Lerner is editor of Tikkun Magazine, chair of the
interfaith and secular-humanist-welcoming Network of Spiritual
Progressives, www.spiritualprogressives.org and rabbi of Beyt
Tikkun Synagogue-Without Walls in San Francisco and Berkeley,
California.

https://consortiumnews.com/2015/03/27/israel-faces-mosess-
demand-to-pharaoh

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