My “Wrestling” Interview with Truthout

Check out my wide-ranging and freewheeling conversation with Truthout’s Mark Karlin, which focuses on my book, but also touches on subjects such as Zionism, BDS, the two-state solution and Palestinian solidarity, among others.

Here’s a taste, below. Click here for the full interview.

Mark Karlin: Stereotyping any group of people is dangerous. In polls during peaceful periods, most Palestinians and Israelis appear to support peace. A lot of what Netanyahu appears to do is stir up the pot so that there will never be a long enough period to negotiate a peace. That’s not to excuse those in Hamas and Hezbollah who have their own motives in heating up the conflict now and then, along with other parties who have vested interests in stalling peace. When you talk of your Palestinian solidarity, some critics accuse you of abandoning Jewish solidarity and not sufficiently condemning those Arab extremists who are in the “destroy Israel” industry as much as Netanyahu is in the suppression-of-Palestinian-rights industry. How do you respond?

Brant Rosen: At the end of my book I addressed this issue directly:

As a Jew, I will also say without hesitation that I reject the view that I must choose between standing with Jews or standing with Palestinians. This is a zero-sum outlook that only serves to promote division, enmity and fear.

For me, the bottom line is this: the cornerstone value of my religious tradition commands me to stand in solidarity with all who are oppressed. It would thus be a profound betrayal of my own Jewish heritage if I consciously choose not to stand with the Palestinian people.

In other words, I believe my Jewish liberation to be intrinsically bound up with Palestinian liberation. It’s really that simple.

I’ve come to believe that solidarity should ultimately be driven by values, not tribal allegiances. It should be motivated by the prophetic vision that demands that we stand with the powerless and call out the powerful. Of course, in the case of Israel, this form of solidarity presents a very painful challenge to many Jews. I understand that. But at the very least, shouldn’t we be talking about this challenge and what it represents for us?

Does my solidarity mean that I agree with everything that is done by Palestinians in furtherance of their liberation? Of course not. When you stand in solidarity with a people, it is inevitable that you will find yourself standing next to some people whose actions and beliefs you will find odious. That comes with the territory when you choose to take a stand. And I might add that this is the case for liberal Zionists who stand in solidarity with Israel as well.


7 Comments on “My “Wrestling” Interview with Truthout”

  1. estee chandler says:

    Great exchange. I continue to find Rabbi Rosen a very inspirational leader in the Jewish community. His thoughtful, moral and reasoned responses are informative and helpful for all who publicly stand up and speak out on behalf of justice and equality for Palestinians and Israeli Jews alike.

  2. Wendy Carson says:

    I agree totally Rabbi Rosen. Until Jews and Palestinians stand together to acheive peace and equality the tragedy in the middle east will only grow worse.

  3. Kim Rhodes says:

    No wonder you you will be a hero in the Anti Zionist and for a long time the meeting place of Antisemites Mondowiess blog.
    As usual they will stick to everything that you say Anti Israel…….
    I will not wonder that “Veterans today” will make you the hero of the day too………….

  4. Thank you for your comments.

    I’m still committed to two states for two peoples. There are two+ aspects that seem impossible currently towards that end.

    1. Politically. Both Israelis and Palestinians distrust each other, and after a period of hope from Oslo, that breach is wider. The range of opinions expressed by individual and Israeli officials includes themes that would have been rejected as fundamentally repugnant two decades ago. Similarly for Palestinian society and solidarity.

    My response to that is that things change. Either by random external events or by intentional efforts at creating mutual respect and trust.

    An intersection of national interests is still possible.

    Not dead.

    2. Logistically. The principle of self-determination rests on the idea of consent of the governed. The selection of jurisdiction for those that consent to be governed by whatever scale and form of administration is usually determined by some plebiscite process.

    Currently and for a very long time, the super-majority of those west of the green line desire to self-govern in Israel. The super-majority of those east of the green line desire to self-govern in Palestine.

    For Palestine to remain at peace it has to be viable. The relationship of fundamentally subordinate Palestine to dominant Israel will not yeild a peace that endures. A reliable prophet will reasonably declare that the pendulum has not swung, and will.

    And, to be viable, the borders of Palestine have to integrate the Palestinian communities, rather than isolate them. So, the current theme that you are expressing is that without East Jerusalem as Palestinian capital, there can be no Palestine at all. And, with any settler presence, the land that the settlements are on can not be Palestine. The equation is assumed that for Palestine to self-govern, even a 10% Jewish majority is too much. In the words of the right-wing, the assumption is that Palestine must be Jew-free.

    But, that is a false assumption. Current Israelis that reside in settlements could be invited to be Palestinian citizens, protected by equal due process under the law, including Jews, allowing the borders to be drawn very close to the 67 line.

    Delayed certainly. But, not dead.

  5. Bill Pearlman says:

    If part ofbeing Jewish means caring about the lives of other Jews then your about has Jewish as pork chops

  6. Thanks for the post. I agree with this position, so Bill will find me as Jewish as pork chops as well. When I am asked if I am pro-Israel or pro-Palestinean, my answer is that I am pro-Peace. And I don’t believe peace will be achieved by either subjugating or terrorizing the other side.

  7. Sam Bahour says:

    From under the boot of Israeli military occupation, I thank you Rabbi for speaking out and speaking humanity to power.


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