5-Oct-2001 News National News
Rabbi questions 'solidarity'
A leading Liberal rabbi has called Israel "the last colonial power
in the world," saying it "has long since vacated the moral high ground."
In his Kol Nidre sermon at St John's Wood Liberal Synagogue, Rabbi
David Goldberg argued that Israel's policies made diaspora support "conditional"
for many Jews.
He questioned suggestions the Palestinians alone were to blame for
the collapse of the Middle East peace talks.
Believing that prospects for peace were now "grim," the rabbi added:
"Anyone who seriously believes that [Ariel] Sharon and a Likud government
will willingly cede an inch of Judea and Samaria... such a person must
also imagine that the present Pope is a Jew who will sanction birth control
and married priests."
He said many Jews now faced a "crisis of conscience" at a "pivotal
moment in Israeli-diaspora affairs," when "we are going to be called upon
to show solidarity with a threatened Israel."
Some would say the time had come for Judaism and Zionism to go their
"separate ways," he declared.
Citing a US official who had been present at last year's Camp David
peace talks, he maintained that Israel's offer had not been as generous
as generally portrayed. While criticising the Palestinians for having "resorted
to violence," he noted that settlement-building had increased under then-Prime
Minister Ehud Barak.
"All of us, I hope, strongly defend Israel's right to exist within
secure and internationally recognised borders," he said. "But we also know
that Israel continues to be a colonial power on another people's land.
"It still occupies the land, but has long since vacated the moral high
ground. That makes our support conditional and causes a crisis of conscience
for many Jews."