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Name: Antony Loewenstein
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Friday, March 25, 2005

Rabbis for Human Rights

Be inspired.

Rabbi Arik Ascherman: "...this is a country fighting for its soul, that Zionism is fighting for its soul, that Judaism is fighting for its soul. Nothing, even after the terrible things I've seen, causes me to call the enterprise into question."

"But as a Jew, as a rabbi, as an Israeli, as a Zionist, I've always wanted to believe that we're better. I don't think we're any worse, but I can't any more say that we're better. It only reinforces my commitment to save the soul of Judaism."


Blogger Glenn Condell said...

You may have seen this piece by Rabbi Tony Bayfield, head of British Reform - heartfelt and sensible stuff:,,1443779,00.html

I'm only disappointed that he didn't (couldn't?) go so far as to demand the removal of illegal settlements and condemn the ir ongoing construction.

He makes one intriguing Austrlain connection - 'It (Zionism) was even marked by the fingerprints of colonialism. Modern day Australia is not alone in struggling with the consequences of seeing only terra nullius, the widespread perception of an uninhabited land waiting to be settled.'

This comparison for me shone a light on the often shockingly racist attitudes I've found among Likudniks I've tangled with over the years, especially those who choose to hide behind the anonymity afforded by the net. The hardly human, less evolved trope so generally employed in describing Palestinians finds echoes in some of my memories of the casual racism widespread in my youth here in Australia. The sense that, yes, they copped a raw deal but hey, look at them, they can't even build a house!

The assumptions behind those attitudes have been eroded over time for most of us, with very few I imagine willing to publicly question whether Aboriginals are fully human (Ross Lightfoot excepted) but I don't get that same sense from my admitedly long distance observation of Israel.

As in America, it seems to me that unsavoury attitudes are tacitly encouraged and that the notion of equality is more a rhetorical device than a genuinely shared national mindset. Ascherman is a brave man and a good one, but even he makes oblique reference to having thought 'we were better'.

Well, to me he IS better, but the zealots he's better than are as numerous in his community as anywhere else.

Saturday, March 26, 2005 12:50:00 pm  

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