Paul Eisen

Paul Eisen

Friday, 3 July 2015

One struggle,,,

Jeremy Corbyn - a way back to a socialism of true brotherhood

This is from Third Way Magazine and is about Jeremy Corbyn running for the leadership of the Labour Party.

Jeremy Corbyn is my MP and I've already called him the finest man in British politics 

I went off leftyism a long time ago but in this piece, as he simply and clearly explores his positions - but without dogma or constraint - Jeremy shows me a possible way back to a socialism of true brotherhood. 

Left, right - I shall certainly vote for him.

Far Sighted?

Huw Spanner

Jeremy Corbyn 2
According to the Spectator, Jeremy Corbyn MP is 'a genuinely nice man, hugely liked and admired by his colleagues', but his socialist views 'simply have nothing to offer the average British voter.' Third Way looked in on his constituency office.
Even the Daily Mirror describes you as 'hard left', which for me conjures up an image of an intractable ideologue. How would you characterise yourself?
I come from a socialist tradition. I believe in a society where everyone is valued and cared for and included, and if that makes me 'left-wing', so be it. On economic and peace issues, obviously I am on the left of the Lab­our Party; but I don't apologise for that.
Do terms such as 'hard-' and 'far-left' make you wince?
What do they mean? I mean, who defines them? They're an invention by those in the media that don't want to engage in the political debate.
But you would use the term 'far-right', wouldn't you?
I would use the term for somebody who holds racist or neo-Nazi views, of course, and I think that would be appropriate. But how do you describe a socialist, somebody who believes in democracy, as extreme?
On your website,1 there's a picture of you sporting a Lenin cap. Is that making a statement? 
Well, you call it a 'Lenin cap'. How about it's just a cap?
But it's associated with Lenin, isn't it? Are beards associated with Karl Marx? It's a cap. I like wearing it. There's a chap on Stroud Green Road who sells them for £9.
Fair enough! When did you first join the Labour Party?
When I was 16. I first campaigned in the 1964 [general] election with my mum and my dad, and I joined the Labour Party afterwards. I was very active in the Young Socialists, and also in the Campaign for Nuclear Dis­arm­ament and other peace organisations. If there was any one event that shaped and informed my views, it was the Vietnam War; but it was also issues of in­equal­ity and poverty around the world. I did a lot of stuff with War on Want as a kid. My parents' politics had been formed by the rise of Fascism in the 1930s, by their support for the Spanish Republic - that was, indeed, how they met. They were members of the Labour Party and CND all their lives.
What did they do for a living?
My dad was an engineer who worked for English Elec­tric, later GEC; and my mum was a teacher. (She was also a voluntary archeologist-historian. They were both very interested in history and culture - and very keen on nature and its preservation.)
You were one of the founders of the Stop the War Coalition in 2001. Are you actually a pacifist?
I would always try to bring about a peaceful solution to any conflict, and so I opposed the Gulf War in 1991 and, obviously, [the invasions of] Afghanistan and Iraq. To say I was a pacifist would be very absolutist…
If you had been of your parents' generation, would you have applauded the International Brigade in the Spanish Civil War?
My dad wanted to join the International Brigade, but his health wouldn't allow it. Would I have supported it? You can't translate yourself into a different period; but had the rest of the world properly recognised and supported the Republican government in Spain, would the Second World War have happened? We'll never know. I do have respect for those people that were conscientious objectors in the war. Does that make me a pacifist? I can't really answer that. I'm not sure.
What other values did your upbringing implant in you?
Respect for other people's knowledge, whether they're academics or not. A love of reading. My mum gave me a lot of books - indeed, I've got all her Left Book Club books at home.
Were there values you have consciously rejected?
Selective education. But everybody knows my views on that.
Was there any religion in your family?
Yeah, there was. My mum was a Bible-reading atheist - no, agnostic, probably. She had been brought up in a religious environment and her brother was a vicar, and there was quite a lot of clergy in her family. Going back a lot further, there is a Jewish element in the family, probably from Germany. My father was a Christian and attended church; and the school that I went to was religious - we had hymns and prayers every morning.
The school motto was 'Serve and Obey', I believe.
Was it? I don't remember that but it sounds about right! So, I did go to church as a child, yeah.
At what point did you decide that it wasn't for you?
I'm not anti-religious at all. Not at all. And I probably go to more religious services than most people who are very strong believers. I go to churches, I go to mosques, I go to temples, I go to synagogues. I find religion very interesting. I find the power of faith very interesting. I have friends who are very strongly atheist and wouldn't have anything to do with any faith; but I take a much more relaxed view of it. I think the faith community offers and does a great deal for people. There doesn't have to be wars about relig­ion, there has to be honesty about religion. We have much more in common than separates us.
Everyone thinks of you as very much an inner-London man. I was really surprised to learn that you grew up in Wiltshire and went to school in Shropshire.
Yeah, it's a weird world, isn't it? I grew up in the country and I end up representing the most urbanised place in the country! It makes me acutely aware of the way in which children in a high-density urban area miss out on so much of the natural world. Do I miss rural life? Yeah, of course I do. I love cyc­ling in the countryside when I get the chance, and I do quite a bit of that. I've also had an allotment for years.
You didn't complete your social-science degree at North London Poly, is that right?
I barely started it, actually. It wasn't for me. I used the opportunity to stay in a bedsit reading African and Am­erican history. Which wasn't actually on the curriculum at all but I thought it was more interesting than what was on it. I knew full well it wouldn't last.
In your twenties, you worked for a succession of trades unions…
I worked initially for the National Union of Tailors and Garment Workers, based in [the East End of London]. My job was essentially chasing down companies that had officially gone into liquidation owing wages and National Insurance on behalf of their employees and then reopened under a similar name in order to carry on trading. I also examined company accounts, to find out what the directors were doing, and attended negotiations with the wages council. I met Bernard Weatherill there, who later became a Speaker of the House of Commons. He was actually very nice to me.
Wasn't he a Tory?
Absolutely! He was a pretty high Tory, but he was a gent.
I thought I'd read that you said you couldn't be friends with anyone who was not on the left…
I would never have said that. I can't remember ever saying that. Somebody asked me if I'd have a relationship with somebody who was not on the left - now, that's different. But any friend, you're not going to agree on everything. It would be quite difficult to have any de­gree of friendship with somebody who holds appalling views - racist, homophobic or something like that - but with people who hold politically different views, yeah, of course. Surely, we need to have a diversity of opinion around us? It's good for us, is it not?
Jeremy Corbyn

Britain was wracked by industrial strife in the Seventies. What lessons do you think you learnt from that period?
A great deal. When I was working for the [NUTGW], we were going through a very rapid process of deindustrialisation and companies were often outsourcing work, trying to drive down wages and costs, sending stuff out to 'outworkers' running up garments at home on very low rates. They were also investing more and more in producing in Bangladesh or, later on, China, and we tried to negotiate with some of them about the levels of production they would do in Britain. Marks and Spencer, for example, for a long time had a policy of selling British-made products. The [NUTGW] had grown out of the Jewish tailors' union, which had a fascinating history. I remember reading at least the English versions of its minute books. These were guys who had come originally from Russia in the 1890s and early 1900s and then their families had gone on to be very active in the union. Benny Birnbaum and people like that - I knew them all very well. Then, I got a job with the [Amalgamated Union of Engineering Workers], working with the aircraft and motor in­dustry. Tony Benn came to see us in '74, just after he became Industry Secretary in [Harold Wilson's] government, to talk about how the union could help him in preparing an Industry Bill. We did a lot of work for him, because he felt that we were a better source of information than some of the official sources. Then we had the British Leyland crash, in the mid Seventies, and I was one of a group of people from the AUEW, the Transport & General and the other unions who drew up a plan for British Leyland, which was publicly owned, which involved a high level of industrial democracy. We put a huge amount of work into it. We had enormous meetings of car workers in Bir­m­ingham, some of whom were quite sceptical about the idea of industrial democracy - they preferred the old style, if you like. In the end, British Ley­land was privatised by the Thatcher government some years later. It was an interesting time of development of ideas and debate. Britain was going through a degree of de­in­dustrialisation, but the reality was that we had not invested en­ough in manufacturing industry: there had been far too high levels of profit-taking and not enough investment in product development - they had been relying on easy markets for a very long time, in the car industry, the motorbike industry and others. It taught me a great deal and, yes, it did form my view about the role of government in planning and making sure that we had a diversity of industrial production. I then became a full-time organiser for the Nat­ion­al Union of Public Employees, which I enjoyed very much because it was people-to-people.
In 1983, you stood for Parliament for the first time. Why did you decide to do that?
There was a big debate about democracy in the Labour Party and Islington North's MP, like a number of others, had joined the new Social Democratic Party in '81. I was invited by people in the constituency to put my name forward and we had a six-month selection pro­cess and eventually I was very narrowly selected as the candidate. Then the three old Islington constit­uen­cies were merged into two and so there was another selection process, and then came the general election. I was the first and (as far as I'm aware) only person ever to defeat two sitting MPs, because both of them stood, one for the SDP, the other as an independent.
The Labour manifesto you stood on was later described by your fellow MP Gerald Kaufman as 'the longest suicide note in history'. Do you think he had a point?
Actually, if you read that manifesto and fast forward to 2008, where was it wrong? Where was it wrong about in­vestment banking, about regulation, about industrial investment, about housing policy? I think there was an awful lot in that manifesto that was actually very good and quite far-sighted. The issue in that el­ection campaign was, more than anything else, one of post-Falklands [Conflict] hysteria.
People on the left are strongly committed to 'the will of the people'; but in the last 30 years or more the will of the people in England at least has always seemed to favour the right. How do you come to terms with that?
You have to be prepared to engage in debate and try to change people's perceptions. You win some and you lose some; but you've got to be true to the democratic principle. We're not a completely democratic society even now - no way - but if you look at the general sweep of history from the Great Reform Act in 1832, what followed within a very short time was the Factories Act, and what followed from that was free education, then a second electoral reform, then the introduction of Nat­ional Insurance, then the curtailment of the powers of the House of Lords, then votes for women, then the National Health Service and the welfare state, and then eventually the Human Rights Act and the Equality Act, which I think were the two best achievements of the 1997-2010 Labour government. So, democracy in its own convoluted way does provide the space in which serious radical reform can take place.
Martin Luther King (among others) said, 'The arc of the moral universe is long, but it bends toward justice.' Do you think that's true? Are we progressing towards a better world or do you think it's often one step forward, two steps back?
I think we are slowly progressing. On a global level, there's the UN Charter, the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, the European Convention on Hum­an Rights, the Latin American Human Right Accord, the African Court on Human and Peoples' Rights and so on. On the negative side, there is the juggernaut of glo­bal capital and the growth in power of unaccountable corporations that don't have much regard for either national governments or democracy. I remember a very thoughtful discussion I had when I first met Tony Benn in 1970, when he was recognising the limited power of a national government to achieve its objectives vis-à-vis the global power of - in that case, it was Esso Petrol­eum but it could have been any number of other companies. They are now pushing their luck with the Trans­atlantic Trade and Investment Partnership2 and similar agreements, which essentially enfranchise global corporations at the expense of national governments. And it doesn't have to be a socialist government - Australia is now being dragged through the courts by Philip Mor­ris,3 and there's nothing left-wing about Tony Ab­bott and his government! I think that the growth of military alliances around the world, and especially the global expansion of Nato, is also a huge issue. These are real problem areas. So, is it always an onward march to a better world? No. I wish it was. But socialist values and a socialist dir­ection are something people seize on very quickly, so if you're suffering from bad-quality housing, or you're losing your land in India or Colombia to some global corporation, do you look to the free market for a solution or do you see that as the cause of your problems? I think the latter.
Are you fundamentally optimistic?
Yes, absolutely.
What is that optimism grounded in?
In the fundamental good in people, and [a belief] that you can create a society where people do feel valued, do feel involved and can make a contribution. What a waste there is in poverty! What a waste there is in illiteracy! What a waste there is in unemployment!
Corbyn 3

In 2004, you were one of only two other MPs to sign Tony Banks's Early Day Motion, which declared that 'humans represent the most obscene, perverted, cruel, uncivilised and lethal species ever to inhabit the planet and look[ed] forward to the day when the inevitable asteroid slams into the earth and wipes them out, thus giving nature the opportunity to start again.' I know that Banks was being droll, but it piqued my interest, because many on the right would see socialists as having much too rosy a view of human nature.
Yeah. My mother always said that the problem with the world was human beings. The most dangerous and ag­gressive an­imal is the human being, not the wolf, not the tiger, not the shark. Where was she wrong? But we are also supremely intelligent and supremely able, and real human values are about co-operation and sharing.
How do green values and red values (if I can put it that way) sit together in you? Many greens would see old-school socialists as being too focused on material goods.
Yeah, well, Lenin's view that socialism plus electricity equals communism. Well, it doesn't. You have to sustain the world. You cannot go on exploiting natural res­our­ces at the rate we are, destroying ecosystems at the rate we are, without paying a price. Unless we protect the natural environment, unless we ensure biodiversity, the implications are very, very serious indeed. So, yeah, I do spend a lot of time on environmental issues. I do feel very strongly about these issues. And we can reach out to a lot of people who think this way.
The Green Party's manifesto is in many ways a socialist manifesto -
It has become more so.
How do you see politics on the left developing?
At a local level, people who are supporters of Labour and the Green Party actually work together on a lot of issues - probably with a few Liberal Demo­crats as well as others, because when you're doing local campaigns you're not necessarily that concerned about other people's political adherence. Is there going to be a change in politics in the fut­ure? Yeah, I think there is, because there is quite a big movement against austerity in Britain, and quite a big movement for social justice. I think the most interesting dev­elopment of the past five years or so has been the growth of organisations like UK Uncut.4 Essentially, it's a mor­al force: they're saying that people should pay their taxes.
You advocated talking to Sinn Féin long before it emerged that the Government was actually doing so. You admired Nelson Mandela when much of the media was still saying he should have been hanged. You campaigned for justice for the Palestinians long before that became respectable. You opposed the 'war on terror' long before many other MPs saw the dangers. Do you ever get credit for being ahead of the political curve?
No - but I don't mind. It's not im­portant. The cause is what's important.
Looking back, are there major positions you've taken that you think have proved wrong?
Proved wrong…? I don't think so. [On the subject of Mandela,] there was one of those amazing days, when he came to Westminster, shortly after he'd been released, be­fore he became president. Quite a few MPs turned up at the meeting and listened to him for a bit and then went away because they'd got other things to do. Mandela's aide said: 'Nelson, you can finish now. The meeting's virtually over.' He said: 'I will stay as long as there are questions people want to discuss with me.' It ended up with Tony Benn, Nelson Mandela and me sitting round a table having a chat - just the three of us.
Many people would look at the campaigns you've been involved in and see them as predictably 'trendy', 'left-wing' causes. Can you yourself see a common thread in them all? And why, for example, don't you speak out on human-rights abuses in Tibet or Burma, or Zimbabwe, or Cuba?
Well, I am involved with the Tibet campaign, actually. Ditto Burma. The common thread is human rights and those values surrounding human rights. It's a question of encouraging people if I recognise what they're trying to achieve. MPs can't do everything themselves - we're not gods - but if an MP says, 'I will support you,' that is probably a help to the campaign.
Most people seem to drift to the right as they get older, at least in this country. Why do you think that is, and why hasn't it happened to you?
People drift to the right possibly because they become slightly more conservative with regard to protecting their own wealth and status, even though those might be relatively modest, and they become concerned about change and what they might see as departures into the unknown. But it doesn't affect everybody. In the election campaign, I met a boy of 18 who was voting for the first time and a woman of 100 who had been voting ever since she'd first come to this country and both of them were extremely radical. I go to quite a lot of pensioners' forum meetings and I meet extremely radical people. I've got a lot of time for them.
Given your record as a campaigner, a protester and also, it has to be said, a rebel in terms of your party, one might see you as a very effective leader of the Opposition. But do you seriously aspire to be Prime Minister one day?
I am much too old for personal ambition. I entered this contest because people asked me to. I entered it in order to put across a point of view. I don't know what the out­come is going to be, any more than you do; but what I do know is that it has given space, legitimacy and op­portunity to a lot of people who adhere to perhaps very traditional socialist values in this country and want the Labour Party to represent those values. The response has been fascinating. Young people in particular are very interested - more than older people.
Why do you think that is?
Well, young people feel put down, often: they go to university and work very hard and then, when they leave university, they've got two problems: one is a debt and the second is an offer of an unpaid job. And they want some­thing a bit better than that. It's up to the political system to ensure that we so run our society and our economy that they can get it, and can achieve their pot­ential.
Corbyn 4

Gavin McInnes on gay marriage

Wednesday, 1 July 2015

...and here, I am definitely not with the Jew!

There for Each Other: On Anti-Semitism, Christian Privilege and Palestine Solidarity

  American Jewish CommunityAnti-SemitismChristianityHolocaust,Human RightsInterfaithIsraelJudaismPalestineRacism

The following is a transcript of Rabbi Alissa Wise’s remarks to the Friends of Sabeel North America Conference in Vancouver, BC April 2015.
As a young girl, I attended a Jewish day school in Cincinnati, Ohio. The bus I took to school was shared with the local Catholic day schools as well. I didn’t ride that bus for that long. After a few months, some of the kids on the bus started to tease me, asking if they could see my horns. I was quite naïve about what that meant. I thought they were just being silly. Today, I hope I know a bit more about the history of anti-Semitism in the Christian world and the wrong-headed myths about who Jews are.
At that Jewish Day School, education about the Nazi Holocaust was a centerpiece of our learning. In High School, I visited Auschwitz, Majdonek and Bergen-Belsen concentration camps with my Jewish youth movement. We were told stories of how the Christian world was complicit in Nazism and their crimes. I sobbed and wailed at each visit to the camps, horrified and disturbed. I knew then my life would be about interrupting today’s violence and hatred however I could.
In my twenties, I was inspired by the White Rose, a nonviolent group of Christian Germans who organized against Hitler’s regime. My first year in rabbinical school I adopted as my spiritual mentor, Dietrich Bonhoeffer, a pastor, ethicist, and activist who was to me the embodiment of a spiritual leader. He was someone with vision, courage, passion, clarity and purpose. The model of both the White Rose and Bonhoeffer, that of those who benefit from the systems of power and oppression actively opposing and resisting it with their lives, continues to feed me in this work.
As for my Christian counterparts, I see you all working hard to get out from underneath the history of Christian violence against Jews, and I know that our work together as Jews and Christians to stand with justice and equality for Israelis and Palestinians is central to our ability to navigate their internalized messages of guilt and heavy conscience.
As a rabbi, working to support the Presbyterian Church (USA)’s efforts to pass a resolution calling for selective divestment from companies that profit from human rights abuses in the Occupied Palestinian Territories, I am engaging with my Christian counterparts in deep, if unconventional, ways.  For my part, I am continuing to unlearn the legacy of trauma messages I got growing up like “no one will save us” or “we are all alone in the world”. Those dead-end ideas can lead to behaving out of a place of fear or vulnerability, rather than hope and resilience.
By a raise of hands…
– How many in the room are familiar with the claim by some large Jewish institutions that critique of Israel is anti-Semitic?
– How many of you feel like these charges have been made falsely?
Many of us – Jews and non-Jews alike – have had accusations of anti-Semitism lobbed at us for standing up for justice, equality and freedom for all people.
As we all know, there is a conscious strategy that has been developed by large Jewish institutions and Israel itself, to attempt to blur or even completely erase the lines between Israel and the Jewish people.
I want to be very clear that there is nothing anti-Semitic about criticizing Israel and there is nothing anti-Semitic in the BDS call by Palestinian civil society. It is a conditional call that will end when conditions of oppression end; that targets state policies, not the Jewish people. It is based on standards of universal human rights and international law that are specifically not reliant upon ethnicity or religion.
That being said, when I get asked how to deflect accusations of anti-Semitism i do caution people to ask themselves if they are in fact anti-Semitic. While there is nothing inherently anti-Semitic in critiquing Israel, that does not mean you do not also harbor anti-Semitic sentiments toward Jews. This is something worth exploring personally and perhaps also in your congregations or organizations.
As with all oppressions, anti-Semitism manifests institutionally, like the quotas at US universities that were in place until the 1970s, but also interpersonally – like ideas of Jews as greedy, controlling, rich, powerful – and also it is internalized by many Jews, leading some Jews to behave out of a place of fear or vulnerability.
Anti-Semitism, just like other forms of oppression, lumps all Jewish people together and assigns us a set of characteristics. Some of the stereotypes we hear include: Jews are rich, Jews are stingy, Jews are smart, Jews control the media, or Jews are to blame for whatever the current crisis is. Even when these stereotypes are framed positively, being reduced as an individual to having assumed attributes based on our religion can be very dehumanizing. That includes the idea that all Jews are implicated by the deeds of the Israeli government.
But – and here’s where things get complicated – that notion can be turned on its head, because Israel specifically defines itself as the state of all the Jews in the world, rather than a state of all its citizens. Israel itself may in fact be the greatest contributor to this fallacy.
To complicate things further, while critiquing Israel is not anti-Semitic, for some Christian Zionists, supporting Israel is.
Apocalyptic Christian Zionist John Hagee was recently quoted affirming that he does indeed believe that the Jewish people are going to burn in Hell for all of eternity unless they abandon Judaism and convert to Christianity. There is hardly a more deeply anti-Semitic notion than that.
While this example illustrates that anti-Semitism certainly does still exist in the here and now, it has largely lost its power in the US.  It does not keep us from jobs, schools, access to health care, housing, or positions of influence.  In other words, Jewish people are not impeded in any material way from pursuing the life of our choosing.
Anti-Semitism has been cyclical throughout history and deeply connected with other systems of oppression. Anti-Jewish sentiment has always served the interests of classism and white supremacy, by placing Jews as middle agents and scapegoats for the crimes of the ruling classes, thus obscuring the structural nature of injustices.
While the recents attacks in France are sobering, we have not seen that level of interpersonal violence against Jews in the US and Canada. Yet, there are still occasional outbursts against Jewish targets that helps keep Jewish fears alive. And despite the lack of structural barriers for Jews in the US, we still live in a country whose dominant culture is Christian. Many Jews in the US and Canada still feel very much like the “other” in society, as do other non-Christian people.  These feelings are real, and not easy.
I also need to name here: it is essential, when we talk about anti-Semitism, that we do so understanding the breadth of Jewish experience – Mizrahi and Sephardi Jews of Middle Eastern, North African, Asian and Spanish descent have had a very different historical relationship to anti-Semitism than those of us who are Ashkenazi, of Eastern European descent. Even when we are reflecting on histories and realities of oppression against Jews, we bump against the relative privilege of us Jews of Eastern European origin. The vast majority of Jews in the US and Canada are Ashkenazi and are thus generally classified as white, with all the race privilege that entails. The important and urgent topic of both internal and external racism within the Jewish community is not something i have time to delve into today, but still felt important to name.
So – it is a balancing act of being sensitive to Jewish history and trauma, without pulling punches about today’s reality. While Jews in the US have more political, economic, cultural and intellectual status than perhaps ever before, the Jewish narrative is still about vulnerability. Part of the work that we as progressive Jews need to take responsibility for is challenging that narrative.
It means that we all, collectively, need to be able to hold, simultaneously, the idea that anti-Semitism in our society is still real, if not very potent at this moment; and at the same time, recognize and fight how accusations of anti-Semitism are being used as an effective weapon to silence debate on Israel. In the US we are up against attempts to codify re-definitions of anti-Semitism that would encompass advocacy to hold Israel accountable for its violations of Palestinian human rights. This represents a scary and dangerous development and if successful, formidable obstacle in our nonviolent activism to ensure Palestinian human rights.
A bill was recently passed by the UCLA student government along these lines. The lawyers at Palestine Legal Support have said this about the proposed legislation making its way through campus and statewide legislatures:
The definition is so broadly drawn — and its examples so vague—that any speech critical of Israel could conceivably fall within it.
Likewise, any criticism of Zionism — which questions Israel’s definition as a state that premises citizenship on race, ethnicity, and religion — is considered anti-Semitic under this re-definition, because such speech can be seen as “denying Israel the right to exist” as a Jewish-only state.
Legislating a new definition is a new tactic that is evidence of the desperation of those fighting against the growing strength of BDS.
In light of these efforts, it is all the more critically important to speak out. For those of us who are Jewish in the movement, we strongly feel the obligation – strategically and morally – to speak out when false charges of anti-Semitism are used to tar the movement.
As Jews we often find ourselves in a position of privilege in this realm.  Partially this is because Jews can be the most effective at rebutting the accusations of anti-Semitism which can paralyze BDS efforts, and partially because our overall place in society, and our perceived connection to Israel, gives us greater credibility by society at large than Muslim, Arab, or Palestinian people.
At Jewish Voice for Peace, we try to use our privilege strategically when we can (for example, there is a reason it was useful to the conference organizers for the JVP Rabbinical Council to issue a statement of support for this conference). We also try  -though don’t always succeed – to not participate in reinforcing the very structures of power and inequity that the BDS movement is trying to address.
Nevertheless, as progressive people who are part of a social justice movement who should model the change we want to see in the world — we all need to speak out to make sure that everyone’s full humanity is respected in all cases and at all times.
It is both an ethical imperative and a strategic one to speak out against anti-Semitism if you hear it.  This movement is hurt any time a truly anti-Semitic statement is made, just as it is when we perpetuate systems of privilege – as Jews or as Christians – that we need to dismantle to win.
To that end, I offer  a challenge to you all as Christians in this movement: what can you all do to confront and address Christian hegemony in the world, and in our work organizing for justice? I have frankly been surprised that I am often the person to raise this questio, and hope to see organizations like Friends of Sabeel acknowledge, unpack and address Christian privilege, just as we at JVP do the same as I just explained with Jewish privilege.  Bringing in a Jew to talk on this topic is no replacement for doing the hard work of examining the legacy and current realities of anti-Semitism – and Islamophobia – in Christian communities, and Christian dominance in our culture.
For example, this could look like doing study groups about the legacy of anti-Semitism and Islamophobia in Christianity.
It could look like workshopping ways Christian dominance manifests in our media, educational systems, and pop culture, for example, reflecting on questions such as:
– Have you ever been given a school vacation or paid holiday related to Christmas or Easter when school vacations or paid Holidays for Ramadan or the Jewish High Holidays were not observed?
– Are public institutions you use, such as offices, buildings, banks, parking meters, the post office, libraries, and stores, open on Fridays and Saturdays but closed on Sundays?
– Is the calendar year you observe calculated from the year designated as the birth of Christ?
– Have you ever seen a public institution in your community, such as a school, hospital, or city hall, decorated with Christian symbols (such as Christmas trees, wreaths, portraits or sculptures of Jesus, nativity scenes, “Commandment” displays, or crosses)?
On top of these types of reflections, I can imagine your communities working to support and encourage each other to ensure that your work advocating for Palestinian human rights does not rely on anti-Semitic ideas.
Some members of our JVP chapter in Philadelphia recently put together materials for addressing issues of anti-Semitism and offered some examples. I would like to share them to help elucidate the differences between a clear criticism of Israeli policy and its backers and anti-Semitic ideas often repeated by activists with no anti-Jewish intentions and lines emerging from Neo-Nazi and anti-Semitic organizations.
For example:
– A clear criticism of Israel would be: “Israel has a repeated and ongoing record of human rights offenses.”
– A way to say this same idea in a way that reflects anti-Semitic sentiment, even unwittingly, would be to say: “Israel is a worse humans rights violator than most or all other countries.”
– A way that anti-Semitic organizations or people say the same idea: “Israel is the root of the world’s problems.”
Here is another example:
– A clear criticism: “In this issue, as in so many, the corporate media provide one-dimensional, sensationalized coverage, usually biased toward whatever side the US government is backing – when they cover it at all.”
– A way to say this same idea in a way that reflects anti-semitic sentiment, even unwittingly would be to say: “The media, controlled by Zionists, never talks about the plight of Palestinians.”
– A way that anti-Semitic organizations or people say the same idea: “Zionist control of the media is part of a vast web of Zionist power over banks and world governments in their conspiracy to rule over humanity.”
One final example:
– A clear criticism: “Many Israeli soldiers justify their actions toward Palestinians by saying they are just following orders.”
– A way to say this same idea in a way that reflects anti-Semitic sentiment, even unwittingly, would be to say: “Israelis are just like Nazis.”
– A way that anti-Semitic organizations or people say the same idea: “Israel is worse the Nazis. This wouldn’t be happening if the Nazis were successful,” and so on.
It is important for us to mindful of the ways we talk about the issue and ensure we are not replicating oppressions, as we seek to end them.
I want to reiterate that I personally, at least, find this to be an extremely small problem, much smaller than the issues of Jewish privilege and Islamophobia issues in our movement.
We together, Christians and Jews, are speaking out against injustice when we see it – as our faith demands of us.  As a rabbi I take my role seriously as a moral leader, as we are taught in the Babylonian Talmud:
“Whoever has the ability to denounce [the sins of] their 
family members, but fails to denounce them, is held 
accountable for [the sins of] thier family members; if
[ one has influence] over the residents of his city [but
fails to denounce their sins], he is held accountable
for [the sins of] the residents of his city; if [he
has influence] over the entire world [but fails to
 denounce their sins], he is held accountable for [the
sins of] the entire world.”  (Shabbos 54a)
We will be held accountable should we stay silent as the land theft, home demolitions, restrictions on movement, economic strangling, and other human rights abuses that are the daily realities of life under occupation for Palestinians.
May we have the courage, to not sit silent, but to be able to look back at this time with pride for how we, Christians and Jews together, manifested the most basic ethical tenet of our traditions: what is hateful to you, do not do to others.
May we be part of the transformation of a painful history of Christian anti-Semitism and of Jewish trauma by working together to realize justice, equality and freedom, not just for Israelis and Palestinians, but for all people.
My work alongside Christians is an important challenge to those dangerous and disempowering messages I learned growing up. I no longer believe Jews are inevitably alone in the world, but in fact quite the opposite. I now see just how much we are there for each other.