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Published on July 7th, 2014 | by Natan Margalit


17 Tammuz / Ramadan Fast Against Violence

(Note: Organic Torah is reprinting an e-mail sent by Rabbi Arthur Waskow, in which he spreads the word about a Hunger Strike Against Violence set for July 15, to be concurrent with the Jewish fast of 17 Tammuz and the Muslim holy month of Ramadan.  As he explains, the idea originated with Eliaz Cohen, a settler, and was joined by a number of Palestinians.  Join us as we demand an end to violence worldwide.  The following text is from Rabbi Arthur Waskow, over his mailing list.)


Dear chevra,

Our chaver Rabbi Eyal Levinson, an Israeli musmach of ALEPH,  wrote about a proposal from Eliaz Cohen (a poet/ settler in Gush Etzion) that in the midst of outbreaks of murder, pogrom, and lynching in Israel & Palestine,  Jews & Muslims join in the fast of 17 Tammuz, July 15, which is also a day in the fast of Ramadan. (Both fasts are from sunrise to sunset.) Eliaz Cohen proposed this shared fast be a Hunger Strike Against Violence.

My thought:  — It would be both a serious expression of commitment to peace and decency and also a serious memorial to Reb Zalman (who schrei’d Gevalt, gevalt, about the massacre of Palestinians in Sabra and Chatila, who visited the Kever Avraham in Hebron not in triumph but in Abrahamic peace, who became a Sufi initiate, who climbed the mountain known as Sinai with Muslims) for us here as well in the USA to join with Muslims on 17 Tammuz in a Hunger Strike Against Violence, and to end the day together with Iftar, the evening break-fast. To do this, we could ask a mosque near any one of us, and/or a chapter of CAIR, the Council of American-Islamic Relations, to join with our own congregation.

Why should we do this? The editorial board of Haaretz, not just an op-ed piece, has just warned that:

There are no words to describe the horror allegedly done by six Jews to Mohammed Abu Khdeir of Shoafat. Although a gag order bars publication of details of the terrible murder and the identities of its alleged perpetrators, the account of Abu Khdeir’s family — according to which the boy was burned alive — would horrify any mortal. Anyone who is not satisfied with this description, can view the horror movie in which members of Israel’s Border Police are seen brutally beating Tariq Abu Khdeir, the murder victim’s 15-year-old cousin. . . .

[We Israelis] belong to a vengeful, vindictive Jewish tribe whose license to perpetrate horrors is based on the horrors that were done to it.

Prosecuting the murderers is no longer sufficient. There must be a cultural revolution in Israel. Its political leaders and military officers must recognize this injustice and right it. They must begin raising the next generation, at least, on humanist values, and foster a tolerant public discourse. Without these, the Jewish tribe will not be worthy of its own state.

It seems to me that for the sake of God’s demand for justice and love for BOTH the peoples of Israel and Palestine, and  for the sake of our own souls as well, we must support such a “cultural revolution in Israel” and in the American Jewish “organized” community  — where idolatry for Israel is replacing love for Israel, despite deep disquiet and disaffection at the grass roots.

Below is what Eyal and Eliaz wrote. And below that is a report from The Times of Israel (NOT a left-wing or liberal paper) about visits of sorrow and condolence between the bereaved families of the two peoples, including a Palestinian Muslim affirmation of sharing the Fast of 17 Tammuz/Ramadan.

(If you want to know more about Eliaz Cohen, as I did,  click here.  The article from The Times of Israel is here.)

Shalom, salaam, peace!  —  Arthur

2 Responses to 17 Tammuz / Ramadan Fast Against Violence

  1. IsraelSeen says:

    It deeply saddens me that politics once again gets in the way of the truth. Condemning a generation because of a group of Jewish terrorists is simply crazy. It appears that Arthur has no first hand experience of the day to day life here in Israel today. The vibrant caring young Israelis bring us hope not despair. Arthur has every right to share his views about Israel and it’s people but that doesn’t mean he has a clear view of the truth. These are difficult times in Israel and much needs to improve in many areas of human relationships but we are a Jewish nation in progress. We are stumbling over the rocks in the road toward a better place for all Jews to live. Life is messy but with so many young so-called Israelis involved in learning Torah and meditation there is hope. Sometimes the darkness needs to crack open for the light to shine. Btw, the Times of Israel is a liberal on-line news organization.

    • nmargalit says:

      thanks, Steve, We do need reminding in these times that there are a lot of amazing things going on Israel. All the learning and meditation that you mention, and there are so many truly vibrant, caring young Israelis, as you correctly say — but I wanted to post this, and join in this extra layer of meaning to the fast of Tammuz davka because this idea for the Hunger Strike against Violence came from right there on the ground. And, the shocking, ugly nature of events just seems to call for a response. Of course we don’t want to blame an entire generation, but when a few people sink so low, it might be a sign that the norm has dropped lower than it should be. It does feel like a time to take stock — especially since that’s what we are supposed to be doing on 17 b’Tammuz anyway.

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