The Politics of Repentance
By Steve Lipman
Two theological underpinnings of the approaching High Holy Days season have become more topical this year: apology and forgiveness. Classical Jewish thought, formulated by scholars like Maimonides centuries ago, consider those twin acts as preludes to the Ten Days of Repentance, direct apologies for the previous year’s slights a prerequisite for Divine forgiveness. In “No Enemy to Conquer: Forgiveness in an Unforgiving World,” British journalist Michael Henderson argues that apologizing and forgiving have a value on both a personal and political plane. The Jewish Week spoke last week to Henderson about the issue.
Read more here.…
This is an interesting discussion between two thoughtful Jews, Erica Brown and Jeffrey Goldberg, who cannot fathom why Jews, religious Jews, have given birth to so many ethical scandals of late. I sympathize with much of their analysis, except one elephant in the room that is always left out: a modern Jewish education focused on defense of a country, Israel, rather than a set of values that are non-negotiable. That has turned away millions of Jewish kids who look to liberalism or Buddhism instead for peace, quiet and nonviolence, and it has made a mockery of Jewish ethics. You can’t teach hate of billions of people, Muslim or Arab or Palestinian, and expect people not to sell kidneys, torture animals, and destroy foreign workers’ lives. The human psyche does not work that way. And this is an overwhelming reason for the sorry state of Jewish religious life.…
Here is a touching encounter between a Muslim shopkeeper and a robber, suggesting a different approach to religion, violence and justice.
Ross Aden, an Associate Professor of Religious studies has the following detailed review of the book:
In my investigation of religious violence, I discovered a religious peacemaker whose work exemplifies a constructive religious response to the religious aggression of our century. Rabbi Marc Gopin has shared his peacekeeping vision and methods in a new book, TO MAKE THE EARTH WHOLE: THE ART OF CITIZEN DIPLOMACY IN AN AGE OF RELIGIOUS MILTANCY (Rowman and Littlefield, 2009). This is a book of practical wisdom about the critical role of religion in the politics of war and peace in our time. Gopin shows how the theory and practice of religious peacemaking can be integrated and how that integration can contribute to a more just and peaceful world.
Gopin’s is book contains sections on
• Foundations of a Global Community through Citizen Diplomacy
• Global Diplomacy and Incremental Change…
• Diplomacy with a Conscience…
“Our best protection is to communicate with the people we are most afraid of.”
By Kobi Skolnick
Before becoming a peace activist, I spent years as a settler in the hills of the West Bank, planting trees and cultivating the soil. Some of my family and friends still live there, and I remain deeply connected to them. For this reason, as the Obama administration’s new policies unfold, I am of two minds. I understand the settler perspective, but I have a second view that comes from years of experience working for peace.
My two perspectives are reflected by millions of people in the world. After Obama’s speech on June fourth , one group rejoiced, but for others his words were a dark cloud. For the first group, their hearts were filled with excitement, but others felt the tight grip of fear and distress. Some looked at his words and saw …
Obama’s Challenge to the Muslim World
(excerpts below come from here)
The historic significance of President Obama’s speech to the Muslim world in Cairo cannot be overstated.
Never before has an American president spoken to the global Muslim community. His speech marked a major shift in American foreign policy. Obama directly enlisted a religion to build global peace and to resolve the Palestinian-Israeli conflict, end nuclear proliferation and stop terrorism.
In just a few sentences he demolished the phony theory of the “Clash of Civilizations,” which insists that Islam and the West must always be in conflict. Instead, he declared the United States is not at war with Islam and outlined a plan for how the conflict can be resolved.
Perhaps most important, he put religion at the core of the peacemaking process. For too long, Americans had come to fear Islam as an
“So long as our relationship is defined by our differences, we will empower those who sow hatred rather than peace, and who promote conflict rather than the cooperation that can help all of our people achieve justice and prosperity. This cycle of suspicion and discord must end.”
This is an excerpt from President Obama’s speech in Cairo. It is a fairly straightforward statement that most reasonable people would agree on. Obama also understands that it is not enough to simply want an end to conflict and to develop trust. We must also work towards these goals. However, prior to the delivery of this speech many American politicians and pundits criticized President Obama about the first steps towards a more peaceful, just and trusting world. These first steps are acknowledgment of dignity and an authentic apology.
“I have come here to seek a new beginning between the United States and Muslims …
Rabbi slams Jewish ‘hooligans’: Rabbis, Yesha leaders, ministers to join forces in condemning recent settler violence
Excerpts:”What happened yesterday is not violation of law and order – it’s much worse,” said Rabbi Menachem Fruman, addressing the torching of a Palestinian field in Samaria by what he referred to as “hooligans.”
“Targeting Palestinians and their property is a shocking thing,” he said. It’s an act of hurting humanity.” Fruman, who is the rabbi of Tekoa and one of the leading religious figures in Judea and Samaria, harshly condemned recent violence, which radical settlers refer to as a “price tag” for the evacuation of unauthorized outposts. The rabbi is joining forces with settler leaders and ministers in condemning acts he characterized as “hooligans committing the crime of hurting Palestinians.”
“There are camps that think it’s a good thing to burn the fields of Palestinians?it shocks me, first of all morally and
I spent almost an hour on the phone with this excellent reporter, Manya A. Brachear, who wrote the Los Angeles Times story. The more I studied the pictures the more horrified I became that this man was running the United States military, and that our country was actually engaged in a Christian crusade in the eyes of so many of its soldiers. I am so glad the reporter gathered the responses of the Christian community and I do hope that, as I said in the article, there is a bipartisan Christian effort to put this dark period behind us in the United States.
Here is an excerpt:
One passage plucked from the New Testament’s Epistle to the Ephesians instructs believers to “put on the full armor of God.”
An excerpt from the Old Testament’s Isaiah directs them to “open the gates that the righteous nation may enter.”
A curious animosity has arisen on several sides of the Pope’s visit to Israel. Israeli Members of Parliament as well as very prominent rabbis took every opportunity to snipe at every word the Pope did say, should have not said, or should have said. As I watched the media blitz unfold I was amazed at the acrimony. Roi Ben Yehuda, however, has a positive essay on the Pope’s visit and the potential role of peacemaking for religious leaders. Also, various rabbis of the United States and the world were far more generous in welcoming the Pope to Israel.
I understand policy differences with the Pope. Most of the world has one policy difference or another with this conservative Pope. I also understand that his conservative moves with regard to liturgy have angered Jews who see his reintroduction of a prayer hoping for the conversion of the Jews as detrimental …