Magazine article Tikkun

Readers Respond

Magazine article Tikkun

Readers Respond

Article excerpt

A NOTE ON LETTERS TO THE EDITOR

We welcome your responses to our articles. Send letters to the editor to letters@tikkun.org. Please remember, however, not to attribute to Tikkun views other than those expressed in our editorials. We email, post, and print many articles with which we have strong disagreements because that is what makes Tikkun a location for a true diversity of ideas. Tikkun reserves the right to edit your letters to fit available space in the magazine.

BEYOND A CEASEFIRE, WHAT'S NEEDED IS COURAGE

Two years ago, when the Palestinian Authority and Hamas agreed to form a unified government, Israel had a golden opportunity to lay out a lasting blueprint for peace. Finally, they had a true partner. No such luck. In Israel's mind, why back a peace process? It is far easier to keep Hamas as an enemy than to give up land to the Palestinian Authority, uproot settlers, deal with Jew- on- Jew violence, and even risk a civil war. The whole notion of giving up something tangible, such as land, for something abstract, such as peace, just doesn't compute.

As a Jew - a Zionist - it pains me to see what Israel did in Gaza and then what happened at the Al- Aqsa Mosque. Again, Palestinians were being singularly criticized for killing Jews when, while not for a second condoning those killings, we have to ask ourselves what Jews were doing there in the first place. After the 1967 war, no one less than Defense Minister Moshe Dayan clearly laid out the boundary lines: Jews would pray at the Western Wall and Muslims at the Al- Aqsa Mosque. Chief rabbis honored these boundaries for years and forbade Jews from entering the mosque compound. With the rise of the religious Zionist movement, all of this has changed. And sadly, the cycle of violence continues. What next?

Until the United States is willing, in earnest, to put pressure on Israel, little if anything will change. Our uneven support for Israel and the Netanyahu government, with its disingenuous efforts for peace, is doing little to change the dynamics in the region. With our leverage, we are the only ones who can help bring about change.

Let's urge Congress and the president to exercise the strength - and the courage - to stand up to Israel instead of blindly standing behind it.

- Ron Ovadia, Irvine, CA

AN ABUSIVE GOD

Walter Brueggemann writes with stirring eloquence in his contribution to Tikkun's Summer 2014 issue. As his former colleague, I remain inspired by his faithful, virtuoso attention to texts on their own terms and in dialogue with our world. Yet after years of friendly debate, I remain entrenched in my resistance to his view that God actually punishes and abuses. If this is so, those shattered by abuse, oppression, and affliction have no recourse, for God becomes the agent of dehumanizing anguish. It is undeniable that biblical texts say God abuses, but are these texts to be taken as ontological statements about divine character or agency?

In my work on Jeremiah, I have argued that the prophet's fire and brimstone is a form of contextual theology. The abusive God functions to mirror experiences of trauma, to create narrative frameworks for chaotic destruction, and to show that the Holy One is not impotent against the gods of Babylon. Such theology is a survival strategy, a way to move toward the future, or as Robert Frost said about poetry, "a momentary stay against confusion. …

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