Rabbibrian's Blog

A Voice for Justice and Peace in Israel/Palestine

Sheikh Jarah: Even in the Rain and the Cold, we will stand against Fascism

Posted by rabbibrian on February 26, 2010

"Discrimination Endangers us All" Sheikh Jarah Demonstration 2. 26.10

Despite a downpour of rain and hail, about 100 people gathered today for the weekly protest in Sheikh Jarah.   Along with their regular chants today they added: Gam Bageshem, gam bakor, hafashism lo yaavor/ Despite the rain and the cold we will not let Fascism prevail.

I attended the protest with Rabbi Tirzah Firestone who was visiting from the States.

Steven Ruebner, a representative from J Street,  read a statement of solidarity that was extremely well received.

Rabbi Firestone at Sheikh Jarah today

Earlier in the week I visited the neighborhood with Rabbi Firestone and met Nasser who has been evicted from his home and has been living with his family on the sidewalk opposite his home since August.  I thought about him today in the downpour of rain and hail which has continued now for close to 24 hours.  The settlers are in his home and he is on the street, all because he is Palestinian and they are Jewish.

Jerusalem will not become Hebron

I am so glad that Rabbi Tirzah urged me to go out to the demonstration today despite the rain.  It was a privilege to be with these inspiring and dedicated mostly young Israelis just a few hours before Shabbat Zachor, the Sabbath on which we remember the Amalekites who attacked our people as we left Egypt.  Who is Amalek today? Could Amalek be alive within us?  What are we commanded to remember?


12 Responses to “Sheikh Jarah: Even in the Rain and the Cold, we will stand against Fascism”

  1. liz said

    Brian, your posts continue to inspire and (I hope you understand the meaning) depress. I breath in the inspiration of your witnessing, and of you cogent reflections, and feel the weight of time, of government in/action, of history held up and over the peoples of Israel and Palestine. May you and your family find and enjoy the simha of Purim!
    Shabbat shalom,

    • rabbibrian said

      Thank you, Liz. While there are many Israeli groups like those protesting at Sheikh Jarah taking inspiring action against the disastrous actions fo their government, it seems very unlikely at the moment that Israeli society is going it’s direction anytime soon. The Israeli resistance movement is small and marginalized. In some ways the most important work today is to build external pressure from the American government and the American people insisting that as long as the Occupation continues and Israel continues to act with impunity, we will take active steps including divestment, selective boycotts (at least of all products of the settlements), and support for real action by our government, including cuts in aid, to bring pressure on Israel. I know how hard this is for folk like us who have such deep ties to Israel, but as long as we refuse to be actively engaged in bringing pressure to bear on Israel, I regret to say, we are a big part of the problem.

      Thanks so much for your kind comment.

  2. louis frankenthaler said

    There are those who say Fascism has arrived. I think Israel is being led through a long process of de-democratization… I think that the end product is the fascism we are worried about… in any event, the current govt. and its policies will speed this process along. Will the world Jewish community remain silent?

  3. Amita Jarmon said

    I was at the demonstration yesterday too, and very glad to be there, ESPECIALLY in the pouring rain and hail. In fact, that’s me in the cobalt blue jacket in the top photo at the left side of the “Discrimination Endangers All of Us” banner, which I held for 20 minutes shortly after that photo was taken. Funny that I didn’t see you or Tirzah there. I have to admit that I am troubled by accusations of Israel being/becoming fascist. I think that’s an inflammatory overstatement, and I did not join in that particular chant.
    Maybe I’ll see you next Friday in the same spot and we can discuss it.

    • rabbibrian said

      So sorry we didn’t see you yesterday. I think Louis Frankenthaler’s term “de-democratization” is probably more accurate for right now, but as he points out, if it is not stopped, it will lead to Fascism. I am struck by how complicated it is to hold a real effective legal protest against the immoral acts in Sheikh Jarah. The demonstration you and I attended is held outside the town which is completely blockaded by police, no speeches are aloud and it took a court battle, after many illegal arrests, to ensure this level of legal protest. We can’t even hold the demonstration outside the homes in which the settlers are living protected by the Israeli Security Forces. As you know, the situation is even worse on the other side of the Green Line. It may be an exaggeration to call it Fascism, but the increasing attacks on democratic freedoms, human rights organizations, peace activists and journalists, are all going in that troubling direction.

      Thanks so much for your comment and I would welcome a dialogue here and in person. Unfortunately, I will not be at the demonstration next week as I will be returning from the States just before Shabbat.

      • Amita Jarmon said

        Thanks for responding to my comment. Yes, you (and Louis) are right that we are headed in a dangerous direction. Have a good visit in the US and come back safely. I don’t know how to reach you other than through your blog, so please email me when you get back.
        Kol Tuv,

  4. YBD said

    I see we now have “demonstration tourism” with visitors from the States able to now come, be photographed standing next to a sign, and then go home and show their “progressive” credentials to their friends.

    Bernard Avishai was one of the original of these demonstrations and he wrote about it on his blog. Then Yossi Sarid and David Grossman got involved, so it seemed to be the “in thing” among “progressives”, but less has been reported on it in recent weeks. Avishai complained that there were “too many red (anarchist) flags and not enough Israeli flags”. Another “progressive” blogger, Phil Weiss (MONDOWEISS) also did the “demonstration tourism” thing on his visit to us and he also reported that most demostrators were anarchists and not “Zionists”.
    Avishai emphasized that the reason he comes to the demonstrations is because he lives in what the Arabs consider to be a “stolen Arab house” in west Jerusalem and so if he can get the Jews thrown out of Shimon HaTzadik (Sheikh Jarrah), then maybe the Arabs will be grateful to him and overlook his theft (as they see it) of an Arab house (recall that Shimon HaTzadik houses were owned by Jews before 1948).
    Which brings us to RabbiBrian. He mentioned in an earlier post about his visit to Israel that he is staying in KATAMON. Sorry, but Katamon was an ARAB neighborhood before 1948. Now, the Arabs decided to attack the Jews after the UN Partition resolution of 29 November 1947 and as a result of the fighting the Arabs either fled or were expelled from areas in what is now WEST Jerusalem, including Avishai’s house, Katamon, and Sheikh Badr where the Knesset and Givat Ram campus of (progressive) Hebrew University sit.
    RabbiBrian warns us about “fascism”. How do you define it? Is it Jews reclaiming Jewish property in Shimon HaTzadik, but the dispossession of the Arabs in 1948 is NOT fascism? Ask the Arabs who come to the demonstration. Do they view Avishai as having a “right” to live in what they consider a stolen Arab house? Does the owner of the house RabbiBrian is staying have a “right” to that property, along with the rest of the Jewish residents of Katamon, does the Knesset have the “right” to sit on the land that once was part of the Sheikh Bard neighborhood?
    Is there such a thing a “progressive Zionism”? Can one square the circle? Do Jews have a “right” at all to immigrate to Israel? Do “progressives” believe that Zionist Jewish Israelis (about 90% of Jewish Israelis) are suddenly going to give up their identities? Will creating a Palestinian State end the “fascism” that RabbiBrian is warning about, or will Katamon and Sheikh Badr and Sheikh Munis (the name of the pre-1948 Arab village the land “progressive” Ramat Aviv and Tel Aviv University are sitting on) still be weighing on everyone’s minds?
    Are the Arabs willing to face up to the consequences of their aggression in the 1948 and 1967 wars, just as the Germans who were forced out of Czechoslovakia, Poland, the USSR and the Baltic States did by giving up demands to return to those places they lost because of German aggression against those countries in World War II?

    • rabbibrian said

      Your cynical comment about “demonstration tourism” misses the point. There is a divide in Israel and among American Jewry between those who think there is such a thing as a progressive Zionism, and those who believe that Israel has the right, even the religious obligation to take over the entire land of Eretz Yisrael. You are a advocate of the latter position. I and many of my rabbinic colleagues believe in the path of compromise and reconciliation and want a solution that accords justice, dignity and human rights to both Jewish and Arab residents of Israel and Palestine. This may involve two states, a confederation, one bi-national state or some other political arrangement. The important point is that whatever the arrangement it needs to grant security, dignity, equality and human rights to both Jewish and Arab residents.

      You are right that the homes in Baka were Arab prior to 48 and this injustice needs to be addressed. Fortunately, I am not the only one living in the area who thinks so, although I do wish there were more. Addressing the injustice of what happened to the Palestinians in 48, does not mean expelling Israeli Jews but rather redressing the injustice by acknowledgement, apology and some form of compensation and a political settlement between Israelis and Palestinians. What happened in 48 and since is not the Palestinians fault as you suggest. It takes two to tango. What about Jewish terrorism before and after 48? It was an act of Jewish terrorism that led many Palestinians in Baka to leave their homes.

      • YBD said

        RabbiBrian says:
        This may involve two states, a confederation, one bi-national state or some other political arrangement. The important point is that whatever the arrangement it needs to grant security, dignity, equality and human rights to both Jewish and Arab residents.

        I find it interesting how you are so willing to have us give up our Zionist state that was so-hard earned by positing other possibilites, none of which are remotely feasible. Bi-national state? Are you serious? Where in the Middle East has such a thing existed….the closest is Lebanon. What happened there? Bloody civil war. Look at the other Arab states in the region. Every single one of them is a more or less repressive authoritarian (“mukhabarat”) state with minorities being discriminated against.
        Look at the fate of the Christian minorities in this part of the world. In 1900 Christians were 20% of the population of the Middle East. Now they are 2%. Even if the state of Israel had never arisen, the Jewish population of the Middle East which ended up immigrating to Israel would have been forced out once the colonial powers ended up leaving the region.
        So to even propose that we Jews VOLUNTARILY agree to put ourselves in a minority position outside our own, sovereign state is presposterous and any Jew who proposes we agree to such a thing is putting himself outside the political discourse of Israel.
        Now, you will say “but what about the Palestinians”? Well, they have repeatedly rejected the so-called “2-state solution”, most recently when offered by Barak at Camp David and Taba in 2000-2001, when Sharon destroyed Gush Katif in the Gaza Strip in 2005 and when Olmert again offered it in 2008. The Palestinians know that they can get rid of the settlements in Judea/Samaria at the stroke of a pen if they would only sign a peace agreement with Israel, BUT THEY REFUSE. Thus, their lack of a state is their responsibility, not ours. This is the reality of the situation and the fanciful, wishful thinking I see here is of no relevance.

  5. Dear Brian,

    Yasher Koach! It’s not comfortable standing outside in the rain! But it’s a lot less comfortable to be thrown out of your house.

    Delighted to read your straightforward statements re: the necessity for US citizens to work together to bring the Israelis and Palestinians to serious and honest negotiations for peace.

    The US government is currently supporting the boycott of Gaza – continues to give huge amounts of aid that enables Israel to buy weapons from the US – says that Israelis ahould not continue to build new setlements; yet remains silent as land and houses are taken from Palestinians.

    It is past time for all who believe that people are created in the image of God – to work together for justice and equity all over the planet.


    Cy L Swartz
    Build Bridges Not Walls. . .
    Bubbes & Zaydes for Peace in the Middle East
    Philadelphia PA –

    • rabbibrian said

      Thanks so much, Cy. I am in D.C. for a Christian-Muslim Summit of leaders coming together to promote peace and reconciliation. The work is urgent, challenging, complicated and sacred. Thank God there are many people, Muslims, Christians and Jews, who are waking up to the need to end the hatred and violence that our religions have at times legitimated and inspired. It is also time for us as American citizens to end America’s complicity in the oppression of the Palestinians.

  6. […] Brian Walt has also written a powerful post about a recent protest in Sheikh Jarrah. This is what I wrote about the situation there last December: International […]

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: