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Searching for Justice In Church and On Campus

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"The two-state discussion must now become a discussion of rights...Equal rights for all; one person, one vote -- that should be the message of the international community. After all, what could Israel say to this new message? That there cannot be equal rights because the Jews are the chosen people? That it would endanger security? ...

"At the same time, the entire approach to Israel must be changed. As long as it does not pay the price for the occupation and its citizens go unpunished, they will have no reason to end it, or even to deal with it. ...

"For this reason, only punitive measures will remind us of [occupations's] existence. Yes, I mean boycotts and sanctions, which are greatly preferable to bloodshed."

Levi's case is both overwhelmingly moral, and it is unassailable. And yet, the Presbyterian Church U.S.A. will once again argue among themselves on the matter of Israel's right to occupy and oppress the Palestinian people.

Nor will the argument be limited to representatives of the Presbyterian Church. They will be backed by a campaign of Israeli hasbara (propaganda) which infects every U.S. major denomination, and which makes itself heard on U.S. college and university campuses.

The strongest voices against supporting "punitive measures" against Israel's occupation have come been liberal Zionists.

One consistent voice exposing the role of liberal Zionism in these church and campus debates, has been that of Charles H. Manekin, an orthodox Jewish studies and philosophy professor, who divides his time between Israel and the US.

Manekin writes the blog, Magnes Zionist, under the nom de plume, Jeremiah (Jerry) Haber.

Haber notes that liberal Zionists are able to "influence the mainstream from within", operating as liberal Zionists who are more Zionist than liberal.

Reporting on a recent Washington campus debate and vote, Haber writes :

"Optimist that I am, I thought the younger generation of liberal Zionists was different. These young activists seemed to have none of the self-induced neuroses of the 1967-generation, those of us who had been taught to believe that Israel was on the brink of extinction before the Six Day War, a tiny David surrounded by murderous Arab states (a myth put to rest by historian Avi Shlaim, inter alia, in The Iron Wall.)

"Unlike their parents, the millennial generation of liberal Zionists had grown up with a powerful Israel that built illegal settlements, collectively punished Palestinians, erected walls ostensibly for security, but actually for more expropriation of land.

"These young people listened avidly to the testimonies of the soldiers of Breaking the Silence, and in some instances were willing to co-sponsor events with Students for Justice in Palestine and other Palestinian rights group.

"This generation of liberal Zionists may not have endorsed the global BDS movement, but it was not shocked or scandalized by that movement, nor did it see it as anti-Semitic or illegitimate."

Reporting on the campus debate and vote at the University of Washington, in Seattle, Washington, Haber writes that "the scales have fallen from my eyes."

At stake in Seattle was:

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James Wall is currently a Contributing Editor of The Christian Century magazine, based in Chicago, Illinois. From 1972 through 1999, he was editor and publisher of the Christian Century magazine. Many sources have influenced Jim's writings over (more...)

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