Rabbi Michael Lerner vs. Truth Jihad: Which of us is right? – Veterans Today | News – Military Foreign Affairs

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KB: If Muslims immediately bought up the same share of the media as the Jews own now, we would very quickly do a better job, Rabbi.

ML: That is playing right into the hands of the right-wing in the Jewish world. You’re helping the right wing by doing that, by making it sound as though Jews are the problem… You are helping keep the Palestinian people powerless by this kind of discourse. You have to abandon that! Stop blaming the Jews! Stop focusing on the Jews. Focus on the rights and the humanity of the Palestinian people, discuss how they are being hurt. Do not blame this on Jews when, as I said, at least 6 times as many Christian fundamentalists identify themselves as Christian Zionists, who are pushing for a blank check for Israel. If you continue to focus on the Jews as the problem, you actually strengthen the hand of the right wing in Israel and in the United States, who say ‘You know what, those who are opposed to Israel are anti-Semites.’ They want to point out that we are bad people, that we are doing the wrong thing. It’s a mistaken path, it’s a bad strategy you’re using.

KB: I would argue you’re using a bad strategy in not denouncing the bad side of the Jewish elite. It seems to me that …


ML: Are you kidding? You heard me at the Muhammad Ali talk. I’m always denouncing them within the Jewish world, OK? but that’s as a Jew denouncing fellow Jews. But for people outside the Jewish world, it’s a stupid and counterproductive direction, to focus on the evil of the Jews, as opposed to focusing on the humanity and the decency of the Palestinian people and how their rights are being taken away.

KB: Well, I also flay the so-called Muslim elite in Saudi Arabia … We need to overthrow both of these elites.

ML: What I’m saying to you is … we have to change the consciousness of people in this country. That hasn’t happened and it won’t happen as long as you focus on it being a Jewish issue. The majority of those who support a blank check for Israel are not Jewish. … Today the vast majority of Americans support Israel, support Israel’s occupation. That has to be changed. I’m telling you it cannot be changed if those of us who oppose the occupation simultaneously talk as though the Jews are the problem, that the Jews have too much power in this country.

KB: No, the powerless Jews have too little power, and powerful Jews do have too much power as an interest group that is interested in Israel. They do! And we should force them to divest from their media holdings. We should take over the New York Times, Washington Post, LA Times, Washington Tribune, MSNBC, CNN … Rabbi, I think we really have to face the reality that our mainstream media is totally dominated by propagandists for Israel, and my strategy is working, because I’m helping to build an alternative media where Israel is not the least bit popular. And this is scaring the hard-line Zionists. I think that just as militant action against apartheid was what freed South Africa, and Gandhi’s approach was not what freed India—a militant potential is also what freed India—likewise a militant potential against Zionism, both in occupied Palestine and here in the United States and throughout the world is what’s going to free Palestine.


ML: Well I’m a Gandhian, I’m a supporter of nonviolence, both in the Middle East and in the United States, so we disagree. Anyway, it’s nice to talk to you. I appreciate the opportunity to put forward my views, and thank you for listening to me. …

KB: God bless you, Rabbi Lerner, and sorry to speak so strongly…

ML: No, we have every right to both see a lot of the ways in which we intersect, and to have vigorous debate about things we disagree about.

KB: I appreciate your openness to doing that, and it speaks so well about you and your work.

Summary and Analysis

Lerner claims that the vast majority of Americans support Israel and only a minority support the Palestinians, so it is necessary to convince the American people of the Israeli crimes against Palestinians. According to Lerner, the only effective strategy is to continue to emphasize the humanity and decency of the Palestinian people and how their rights are being taken away. Barrett believes that the media exaggerates the popular support for Israel, but he agrees about the importance of publicizing the cause of the Palestinians.

Barrett points out, however, that it will be impossible to sway public opinion and government policy on this issue as long as Zionists control the media and have inordinate influence over Congress. Although he thinks the majority of American Jews agree with Lerner about the Palestinian issue, he says a minority of wealthy and powerful Zionist Jews do not agree, and they control the media and US foreign policy. He says that about half the key positions in the media are Jewish people who are for the most part committed to giving Israel what it wants, and that about 40% of billionaires are Jewish, and that virtually all are hard-line Zionists. Furthermore, AIPAC is such a powerful lobby that it is virtually impossible to be elected to Congress if you don’t sign an oath to support Israel. Barrett believes that the only way to get justice for Palestine is to expose and defeat Zionist power in the US.

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