Bloodbath at the Gaza Border as We Approach Three Revelations
Today is the first day of the sacred Muslim month of Ramadan, the month when the Prophet Mohammed, peace be upon him, began receiving the revelation of the Quran.
This coming Sunday will be the first day of the Jewish festival of Shavuot, which began in ancient Israel with earthy celebration of the spring wheat harvest and has become the time to celebrate a spiritual harvest -- the revelation of the Torah at Mount Sinai.
And Sunday will also be the Christian festival of Pentecost, when followers of Jesus gathered to celebrate Shavuot and were imbued with the Holy Spirit, opening them to speak in many languages they had not known -- in some ways opening the path to a multinational Christianity.
And as those days of Revelation came close, I am ashamed to say that the government of the state of Israel, which claims to be a Jewish state, opened lethal gunfire on thousands of Palestinians at the Gaza border, killing 60 of them. Haaretz, the newspaper that is often called the New York Times of Israel, began its lead story this morning with this headline::
While in Jerusalem the Netanyahu government and the Designated Daughter of his brother-in-tyranny Trump were drinking champagne to celebrate the new US embassy there, in Gaza the Netanyahu government was getting drunk on blood.
And poisoning the bloodstream of Torah as if, God forbid, its Teaching were filled with hatred and contempt.
Why are thousands of Palestinian willing to risk death? Because especially in Gaza, death is preferable to despair. Despair over the blockade of Gazan goods from being sold abroad; the blockade preventing Gaza’s fishermen from catching the sardines that swarm just outside the line drawn in the Mediterranean where Israelis sink the fishing boats of Gazans; the blockade that prevents the import of goods; the blockade that results in a devastated electrical power system; the blockade that has resulted in an unemployment rate of 40%, the highest in the world.
The solution to Israel’s concern for a peaceful, unthreatening relationship with Gaza is not killing more and more people there, but ending the despair. By replacing the blockade with measures to prevent weaponry, and weaponry alone, from entering Gaza. By responding to a recent offer from Hamas to conclude a “long-term truce.” By taking seriously the need for an independent Palestine living peacefully alongside Israel, and encouraging – rather than undermining -- the emergence of a government of Palestinian national unity to conclude a peace treaty with Israel.
What can we do -- we in America, especially Jews, Christians, and Muslims who care for the justice and peace values of Tanakh (the Hebrew Scriptures) , the Gospels, the Quran?
Individually, I have just joined a group of rabbis who are initiating a Taanit Tzedek -- a Fast of Justice -- in regard to Gaza. One day a month, we will fast from sunrise to sunset and at noon Eastern time on that day, we will take part in an on-line Webinar with various experts on and from Gaza and discuss what is possible to do to bring justice there. The Taanit Tzedek will be open to everyone, not just to rabbis or to Jews. I will share the details with you as they are firmed up.
In collective action, yesterday I was in DC to take part in a rally held by the Poor Peoples Campaign at the US Capitol, focused on the “fusion politics” of a National Call for Moral Revival to kick off 40 days of action in state capitals and the Federal center. The fusion platform includes facing racism and militarism, both of which are behind the Trumpist collusion with the Netanyahu government.
The Poor Peoples Campaign also stands for religious values very different from those of the right-wing Christians who combine extreme support for the Netanyahu government with a profound contempt for Judaism. (They expect Israel’s subjugation of Palestine to lead to Armaggedon, the destruction of Judaism and all other “false religions,” and the Second Coming of Christ.) They are more important to Trumpist politics than even the Sheldon Adelson gambling-casino money that supports both Netanyahu and Trump.
As Bishop William Barber spoke yesterday for the Poor Peoples Campaign, news from Gaza was arriving. To his usual explanation of the Moral Renewal roots of fusion politics, he added that he was heart-broken to hear the news, and that we who call for nonviolence and oppose militarism here must support nonviolence and oppose militarism everywhere.
At the same time that the Poor Peoples Campaign were rallying and risking arrest at the Capitol, a mostly youthful Jewish group called “If Not Now” was demonstrating near the White House against the killings at the Gaza border and the unilateral anti-Palestinian shift of the US Embassy to Jerusalem. (Its name comes from the teaching of the great Jewish sage Hillel: “If I am not for myself, who will be? If I am for myself only, what I am I? If not now, when?”) For me, the emergence of Jewish youth who draw on Jewish symbols, songs, and festivals and carry their profoundly Jewish values into the streets against idolatry of the Netanyahu government is a deeply hopeful sign for the future of evolving, growing Torah.
J Street, a Jewish organization committed to ending the Occupation and making real a peace settlement between Israel and Palestine, both lobbies strongly on Capitol Hill against the Trumpist anti-Palestinian policy, and supports Congressional candidates with a strong commitment to peace and justice for both Israel and Palestine.
May the time come soon, speedily and in our days, when the Revelations of Torah and the Prophets, of the Gospels, and of the Quran, become embodied in the lands that gave birth to them -- and in the hearts and actions of the Americans who revere them.