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Toward a Jewish Theology of Liberation – M. Ellis

May 1, 2013

TOJTOLWritten some twenty-five years ago, this Jewish author says things that would get many into trouble today.

Jews are rightly suspicious of triumphalist and supercessionist Christian views of Judaism. Yet the theology that sees the State of Israel as an equivalent to some sort of resurrection after the Good Friday of the holocaust can lead to similar triumphalism and supercessionism. To be critical of Zionism and its treatment of the Palestinians is seen as anti-semitic. A president of Israel can be as unfaithful to his Judaism as a president of the USA can be unChrisrtian.

Palestinians and many other liberation movements appropriate the Exodus story, as a paradigm of God at work to free the oppressed. Some Jews challenge the Zionist consensus, reminding us that the Bible urges us to stand by the orphan, the widow and the stranger in our midst. Palestinians are in the midst of the State of Israel. How are they treated?  At Pesach, the enemy Egyptians are commemorated as part of the celebration of liberation. Might not current day Jews remember the Palestinians too?

The author quotes Greenberg, ‘It is precisely the memory of the Holocaust that has enabled Israel to be a ‘responsible and restrained conqueror.’ I don’t think that can be said any more, in the light of current day events. Nor, ‘…the American Jewish community, in its lobbying for aid to Israel and its ability to block similar aid to Jordan and Syria, as well as in its support for the American arms build—up, plays a pivotal role in securing peace.’

American Jews have something else to tell us. The vast majority of Jews live OUTSIDE the State of Israel, so Zionism isn’t the only Jewish belief-system in existence.

With Greenberg, the author fears a ‘morally deadening rearmament’ and the possibility of idolatry if Judaism fails to critique even as it affirms the State of Israel. This book calls us to challenge this, twenty-five years down the line.

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