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Rabbi Decries Israeli "Settler Colonialism"

Allan Brownfeld, Editor
Special Interest Report
May-June 1998

"On the declarative level, Israelis want peace; on the operative, conscious level what they mean is they want their own security," writes Rabbi Jeremy Milgrom in Sojourners (Feb. 1998).  

Rabbi Milgrom founder of Clergy for Peace, an interfaith initiative for justice and peace, lives in Jerusalem and has a fellowship on Islam and Judaism at the Shalom Hartman Institute. He states that, "When you look at the full picture, what actually is going on (which Zionists and even Westerners in general would rather deny) is a 20th century settler colonialism—in which an Israeli—Jewish society, superimposed upon a native Palestinian society, has taken most of the land and water for itself, and expects peace and security in exchange for a few crumbs."  

Most Israelis, Milgrom reports, "seem to consider Palestinians to have been created for the menial lobs we won’t do... Even Israelis who are not obsessed with security are not much more likely to have an appreciation for Arab culture, to have Palestinian friends, or to have an unmediated sense of what life is like in Palestine. For a colonial society, insularity is an integral part of its ideology. Its self-image, its rationalizations—even its staying power—require filtering out the reality inflicted on the other."  

Rabbi Milgrom recalls that, "During the first decade of my life in Israel, I was intoxicated with Zionism; during the second, with social action within Israel. During these 20 years, I hardly knew a Palestinian from across the Green Line that passes a few hundred yards east of my home, marking the pre-1967 border between Israel and the West Bank. Then the intifada began and, like many Israelis, I took part in activities protesting the moral erosion of the Israeli army."  

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