A Rabbinic Guide to 40 Years of Occupation

                The new Israel was larger but not safer, victorious but not secure.
 — Rabbi Arnold Jacob Wolf

The Rabbinic Cabinet of Brit Tzedek v'Shalom developed A Rabbinic Guide to 40 Years of Occupation for use in programming around the 40th anniversary of the Six-Day War and subsequent occupation. The collection is intended to help the American Jewish community reflect on the implications of Israel's long occupation of territory captured in 1967. As many American Jews across the country mark the 40th anniversary, this guide, comprised of reflections by rabbis, Brit Tzedek leaders, and Palestinian-Americans about the impact of the occupation can help frame the discussions across the country. The rabbinic guide also includes a number of resources, including a detailed chronology of the occupation and a list of ideas for congregational tours of the region.

Download the Guide     Review the Table of Contents     Order a Print Copy

Selected Excerpts

We Have Only to Begin by Rabbi Arnold Jacob Wolf
I first visited Israel in 1962. My two young sons and I stayed on the border of a Jerusalem divided; we could look into the old city but could not go there. I wondered what it might be to live in a Jewish Jerusalem, not thinking much about the many Palestinians all around me. [read more]

Recreating a Symbol of Hope by Rabbi John Friedman
In 2004, a beloved graduate of my religious school came to my study to discuss a problem he was facing at his Ivy League university. Andy had always been a committed supporter of Israel, and his attachment was augmented by an emotional six-week NFTY-in-Israel experience. Now, a few years later and after a college-level Jewish Studies course on Israeli history, Andy was having trouble attending Hillel events. [read more]

Sights I Did Not Want to See; Feelings I Did Not Want to Feel by Rabbi Laurie Zimmerman
A few months before the second intifada began, I traveled to Gaza. I was studying for the year in Jerusalem and wanted to see the Israeli occupation with my own eyes. I had a clear idea of what it meant for Israelis, but I wanted to try to understand what it meant for Palestinians. [read more]

Needed: A Bold Response to Four Decades of Israeli Control of the West Bank by Rabbi Herbert Bronstein
As an American rabbi,I can’t help but feel that the occupation’s effect on American Jewry,our refusal to conduct a real dialogue, is among its most disturbing consequences. Criticism of Israeli policies – even when it arises from a Judaically-informed conscience – has been forcefully muted,and groups which endeavor to join pro-Israel stances with a social consciousness have been marginalized. Even in rabbinic organizations, discussions of these issues is often out-of-bounds. [read more]

40 Years of Deepening Spiritual Disorders: Can We Heal Them? by Rabbi Arthur Waskow
There are two profound spiritual disorders that underlie the stubborn and self-destructive attachment of Israel to the 40-year occupation of the West Bank,Gaza,and the Palestinian neighborhoods of East Jerusalem, and the similar attachment of some Palestinians to the use of violence to resist the occupation. [read more]

How Long Are We Going to Get Banners and Trumpets? by Rabbi Joey Wolf
In this passage from Jeremiah (4:21),the prophet laments the way the people flaunted the symbols of victory. In his mind, they celebrated a success that raised as many doubts as it brought vindication. In this sense, flattery and self-congratulation stand in the way of wisdom. [read more]

Palestinians and Israelis Must "Go Back to the Future" by Ray Hanania
The 1967 war is more than just a bad memory. For Palestinians, it's a benchmark that only reminds us that things continue to worsen, a
memory that only feeds feelings of anguish and hatred and fuels the drive for revenge and vengeance. It's a mental quagmire that cannot be resolved,a Gordian Knot that cannot be unraveled. For Arabs, moreover,the 1967 War is not just about occupation of Palestinian lands – it's about the humiliation of being so firmly defeated by a state believed weak and transitory. [read more]

A Moment When We Learned How to Hope by Carinne Luck
I went with my mum to see a play recently. The play, Journey's End, is set in the trenches during WWI and  presents the lives of a British company of soldiers living there, as they struggle with the inanity and insanities of war and share dreams for a future they know they will not see. The play is loud -- the last three minutes consist of shelling sounds as the lights on the stage go down -- and we know that the soldier-actors who have become our friends have not survived. [read more]

It Doesn't Have to Be This Way by Saffiya Shillo
Just before the 1967 war, my uncle arrived from the West Bank to my family's Chicago home. He came to America to earn money for the wife and five children he had left behind, to give them a better life. Life was very difficult, he said. There was a sense of impending doom looming over our people since the 1948 Al-Nakba ("the catastrophe" in Arabic).  [read more]

40 Years After the Six-Day War: The Enduring Legacy of the Seventh Day by Steven David Masters
Conventional wisdom has it that Israelis were slow to see this truth,and that in the heady days following the Six-Day War, only triumphant voices were heard, celebrating the lightning-fast vanquishing of surrounding Arab armies and conquest of Palestinian land. For Israeli society as a whole this may have been true, but it was not so for many of the very conquerors themselves, the combatants who fought and won the war. [read more]

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