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Put Yourself In Their Shoes: Taking Obama Seriously for Nakba at 65

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For myself, I refuse to accept that my views have disenfranchised me from Judaism or the Jewish community. My position of solidarity with the Palestinian people is not borne out of enmity to my own people but from a commitment to Jewish values and Jewish well-being.

I care about what the Jewish community says and does when it comes to Israel/Palestine. I care about its pronouncements, I care about its silence, I care about its denial and its indifference.

To ‘put yourself in their shoes and see the world through their eyes’ is a huge ask. For me it has meant overcoming my own racism and prejudice to allow myself to hear Palestinian voices and accept the validity of their story. It’s become an exercise in un-installing the cultural software in my head.

As it turns out, I don’t think Obama takes his own words seriously enough.If he did, the first thing he would need to do is to re-write his whole speech to tell a more rounded and truthful story about how Jews and Palestinians have faced each other for the last hundred years and more.

I believe the Jewish future is dependent on us upholding what the Jewish Liberation theologian Marc Ellis describes as: Jewish prophetic consciousness. That can only mean hearing and seeing the Palestinian narrative and allowing it to shape a new post-Zionist Jewish self-understanding. That doesn’t mean supporting a second Holocaust in Israel but it does mean growing beyond an ethnocentric State to a nation that respects the rights and national stories of all of its citizens.

Right now, that looks like the only way to rescue the Hebrew covenant.

An earlier version of this post originally appeared on the author’s blog, Micah’s Paradigm Shift.

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