God, Garments, Godlings

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Forward to My Essay

What Makes a Jew ‘Jewish’? is the title of one of my Chabad references in Chabad’s Supernal Jews.  It’s a far cry from ‘What makes a human Jewish?’  Well, human I am.  What makes this human Jewish?  Both my parents were Jewish and were well aware.  My father was German, and I was born in Germany in 1932.  We were lucky.  My mother’s German-born parents were already living in Newark, New Jersey.  We got out of Nazi Germany in 1937 and out of Holland to the U.S. in September 1940.  (I still have visual memories of an air raid shelter, lifeboat drills, and a gas mask too large for my small head.)  We were liberal Reform Jews, celebrated the High Holidays in Temple and at home, skipped Friday prayers, ate everything, and stretched Chanukah into Christmas when the calendar didn’t cooperate.

I can’t think of any other Jew in the private, secular high school I attended (which started every morning with an assembly that included a Christian hymn, an unanticipated benefit that introduced me to formal multiculturalism, so to speak).  In my freshman year at college I joined a Jewish fraternity.  We painted the walls and desegregated the frat house.   It was my first extended experience (outside my family) with Jews my age.  I learned the rest of my life from many of my fraternity brothers: Be a better human and ‘Jew’ will take better care of itself.  Whether or not you’re religious.  I’m not.

The notion that being Jewish precedes (or replaces) being human is a horrendously bad ideology, as my earliest childhood realities remind me.  What rekindles these memories so late in my life?  The arrival of a Chabad emissary in the neighborhood some eight or so years ago.  I’ve met the young man several times in a one-to-one.  He is truly, sincerely, a nice guy.  The Chabad sect?  If I had come across the name, I had never taken note.  Now I do.  Never having had an education in the history of Judaism, I had to overcome my incredulity that some rabbis conscientiously articulate a Jewish theory of Jewish race.

‘What makes a Jew “Jewish”?’ Is it a Jewish question? A Nazi question? Or both?  ‘Both’ is the right answer.  Although Chabad and Nazi ideologies offer entirely opposite answers to the same question, they agree there is legitimacy and importance to the question as such.  Its underlying assumption is ‘Jews are a unique race’.  Remove the assumption and the ‘What makes’ question is the opener of a joke.  Chabad and Nazi ideologies only share the assumption, not the contents of or causal explanation for their basic premise, not the two movements’ conflicting reasons for promoting and imposing its version of the truth of a Jewish race.  In both cases, the life consequences of the question are not confined to the classroom.  The international Chabad sect wields measurable political influence and power here and in Israel.  It actively engages its influence and power to make Jewish racism the leading ethic for Jewish sovereignty in Israel-without-borders.

Chabad’s Sectarian Jewish Religious Racism

I am a Jew.  I have connections.  No, not the stereotypical I-can-get-it-for-you-wholesale connections.  Being a Jew I am born connected.  I am connected to every living Jew all over the world.  I am connected to every Jew who has lived and to every Jew still to be born.  Jews are a block and the block is timeless.  Put differently, a Jew is not an ‘I’, a self-referential egoist.  We are not a bunch of individuals who decided to come together and form a family, a community, a people, a people-hood, a nation, an Israel.  How come is that?  God did not create Jews as individual beings.  He built that timeless ‘interjew’ connection into every Jew right from ‘In the beginning’.  Non-Jews need not knock. (more…)

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The Trudeau government’s statement on Palestine: redundant and irrelevant

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PAJU (Palestinian and Jewish Unity)

Press Release for immediate publication

Montreal, May 18th, 2021

Once again, the Trudeau government has issued its stock response to the violence in the Middle East, one which is full of the usual contradictions. The statement, which follows a meeting by the members of the UN Security Council, states:” “Canada reiterates the fundamental importance of protecting journalists and press freedom. Journalists and media workers are the cornerstone of any fair, strong and vibrant society and must be free to do their work without fear.”

The statement carefully avoids any mention of the fact that Israel deliberately destroyed the building housing Al Jazeera and Associated Press offices and journalists so as to diminish coverage of what amounts to its current war crimes to go along with a long list of other war crimes committed against the Palestinian people. The building also housed some 6o Palestinian families who are now homeless and were give one hours to collect whatever belongings they could carry with them before the building was destroyed. (more…)

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Time to Investigate Crimes in Palestine, Time for Justice

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Joint Open Letter to the Office of the Prosecutor of the International Criminal Court

Re: Over 180 Palestinian, Regional, and International Human Rights Coalitions, Organisations, and IndividualsCall on the International Criminal Court: Time to Investigate Crimes in Palestine, Time for Justice

29 April 2020

Your Excellency Fatou Bensouda,

On 20 December 2019, following almost five years of preliminary examination, the Prosecutor of the International Criminal Court submitted to the Pre-Trial Chamber a request for a ruling on the Court’s territorial jurisdiction in Palestine indicating that “war crimes have been or are being committed in the West Bank, including East Jerusalem, and the Gaza Strip” and that she had “identified potential cases arising from the situation which would be admissible.” Further, the Prosecutor was satisfied that the Court’s territorial jurisdiction extended to the “Palestinian territory occupied by Israel” since June 1967, “namely the West Bank, including East Jerusalem, and Gaza.” (more…)

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Nakba 2020

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Art credit; Ghassan Kanafani, ‘The Displaced’, 1957, Mixed media on carton, 36 x 50 cm.

There is much that can be said, but what we most want to say is #Nakba72 is on our mind and in our hearts, and shown in our actions.

We call on Canada, as we have for the last two years, to implement SANCTIONS as is its responsiblity under domestic and international law, doing so until the blockade on Gaza is lifted, until the occupation is ended, until there are equal rights for Palestinians in historic Palestine, and until right of return is realized.



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