WHO IS THE ELMER BERGER?

I. ELMER BERGER was ordained a rabbi in 1932 (Reform - HUC-JIR Cincinnatti) and served congregations in Michigan before helping to found the American Council for Judaism. He is now (at the time of writing Rabbi Berger was about 82 years old. He died last year at the age of approx. 91) president of American Jewish Alternatives to Zionism (AJAZ) which regularly publishes REPORT, an analysis of news of the Middle East. He is author of The Jewish Dilemma, A Partison History of Judaism, Judaism or Jewish Nationalism, Who Knows Better Must Say So, Letters and Non-Letters, Memoirs of an Anti-Zionist Jew and numerous articles an pamphlets.

From the introduction

There has always been opposition to political Zionism but most public resistance collapsed during and after the demonic anti-Semitic Nazi campaigns. Sympathy for Hitler's victims created a groundswell of popular support for perceived Zionist objectivbes. Contrary to the popular opinion that Zionism would solve "the Jewish problem," a relatively small segment of Jews emerged in the early 1940's with a program designed to continue the democratic tradition of anti-Zionism. Rabbi Berger was among those who insisted that the answer to Hitler and the terror of anti-Semitistm ws not the withdrawal and isolation of Jews in a separate state where they would have preferential national and political rights at the expense of Palestinians. They advocated instead the implementation of genuine democratic rights for all people in all nations. Consequently, a key plank in the platform of these anti-Zionist Jews was that the peace agreements following WWII recognize Palestine as a democracy in which ALL CITIZENS, regardless of religious faith or ethnic orignis, would enjoy full equality of rights and obligations.

Elmer Berger's emergence as a leader in a national anti-Zionist campaign was an outgrowth of his commitment to the historic position of Reform Judaism that Jews are a religious community (this was modified in the 30's by the UAHC-Bill), not a nation. As rabi of a congregation in the late 1930's , he began publicly to challenge demands of the World Zionist Organization (WZO) for U.S. support for a "Jewish State". He later became one of the founders, among 32 other Reform rabbis, of the ACJ and one of it's principal ideological architects. At its peak, this anti-Zionist organization had approximately 50,000 members.

While continuing his opposition to a "Jewish" state on religious grounds, Dr. Berger's perspective expanded to include resistance to the increasing Zionist domination of American Jewish institutions. He also began to concern himself with the adverse political impact of the new state upon both American interests in the Middle East and upon Palestinians. Since 1968 he has continued his concerns as president of AJAZ. During his 45 year career as an anti-zionist advocate and writer, he has continually emphasized tghat Judaism is entirely separate from the politics of the Zionist state and should be kept separate; that the values of Zionism are incompatible with the values of Judaism. He insists that a clearly understood distinction between Zionism and Judaism would helpt to clarify many major issues in the Israeli/Palestinian conflict.

The initial essay in this volume, "Zionist Ideology: Obstacle to Peace," was written by Dr. Berger in 1981. It reflects his prophetic predictions of the drastic consequences for Middle East peace that would result from establishment of a Zionist state. He analyzes fundamental Zionist ideology and the way in which it has been translated into the polliticl reality of Israeli domsetic and international policies, including Knesset legislation.