Rabbi: The Palestinian People Are Going Through Bloodshed
By Laura Fawaz, Contributing Reporter
The â€œJews United Against Zionismâ€ display booth at the 2014 ISNA Bazaar.
Rabbi David Feldman drove from his home in New York, to Detroit, Michigan for the 51st Annual ISNA Convention last weekend, to let the people know that Zionism is not Judaism.
â€œWhat happened is Gaza in the last couple of weeks is embarrassing, itâ€™s terrible, itâ€™s a catastrophe. Sadly they [Israel] use religion to justify what their doing,â€ said Rabbi Feldman.
He came to the ISNA Convention, along with a few other Rabbis, to explain to people that all of what the state of Israel is doing, as well as their actual existence, does not represent all Jews, nor is supported by all Jews. â€œWe always try to educate people on the great difference of Judaism and Zionism. Judaism is a religion, a religion only, and no politics only. Verses Zionism, which is politics only, no religion,â€ Rabbi Feldman said.
These brave Rabbis were at the convention with tall photo boards showcasing all the activities and demonstrations theyâ€™ve been a part of worldwide. Their booth was filled with flyers; candy for the kids, business cards and information on their synagogue and on Judaism â€“ legitimate Judaism as they saw it, not the political Zionism. All this to explain that the crimes of Israel are, as he put it, â€œcertainly not condoned by the Jewish religion.â€
Rabbi Feldman was very adamant about people understanding the difference between â€œthe Jewish peopleâ€ and â€œa group of political people.â€ He says that the Jewish people are the ones suffering through the crimes being committees by the political group of Zionist. The Zionist have all of the power of the media, and the power of presenting what they want, how they want. Orthodox Jews suffer because they do this in the name of the Jewish people. The Palestinians suffer because this image of Palestine is not being presented properly. Though Rabbi Feldman did note that he feels the overall situation getting better with the rise of social media. â€œItâ€™s better with social media. Sadly, after what just happened in Gaza, people are starting to open their minds, its sad that it took so many people to die for this to happen â€¦ If we go 15-20 years back, almost nothing was publicized to the people or known to the general public. What the Israelis were doing behind closed doors, no one had the chance to see except for the people who were suffering from it,â€ said Rabbi Feldman.
He informed the on-lookers of the unfortunate reality that most Jews have bought into the idea that Israel needs itâ€™s own Jewish state, even though no other religion on earth has one. These people feel as though they have to be pro-Israeli to be a true Jew. â€œWhat happens is that these people sometimes believe that what makes them Jewish is this Jewish nationalism. This is a tragedy within its self because it has transformed Judaism from a religion into this nationalism. It has destroyed the religion; it has destroyed the Jewish identity because people are only supposed to identify with their religion,â€ Rabbi Feldman said.
He shared how much he loved being invited to talk about these issues, especially with all of the great responses that they get. â€œWe are Orthodox Jewish Communities worldwide that are terribly outraged by what has just now happened, but itâ€™s not only now, it has been going on for decades, this occupation in Palestine, which is unfair, unjust, and un-Jewish, according to Judaism, all of this is forbidden,â€ Rabbi Feldman added.
Most Jewish people are not as educated on the issues that come with the existence of the State of Israel as Rabbi Feldman is. He explained that the majority of Orthodox Jews are anti Israel, and that the more moderate Jews have less knowledge and background of the religion. He said that they are not as aware on how Judaism is so opposed to even the philosophy of Zionism. Even without any of the war crimes, the philosophy of building a solid homeland for Jews happens to be totally forbidden, according to Jewish law. Within religious Orthodox Jewish communities such as his in New York, youâ€™ll find 30,000 â€“ 40,000 families with institutions, synagogues and schools. Out of all of these, only three of four of them are displaying the Israeli flag.
Since they feel as though their faith has been so wrongly presented and misused, the Rabbis feel as though speaking out like this is their Godly obligation. They find the catastrophe in Palestine to not only be a catastrophe for the oppressed Palestinian people, but an obligation on humanity, and is in favor of the Jewish people and for humanity. â€œThough nothing is close to the bloodshed and terribly tremendous cost that the Palestinian people are paying for this conflict, but itâ€™s the Jewish people paying the price as well, as we shouldnâ€™t, none of us should have to suffer from this political conflict,â€ said Rabbi Feldman.
Another â€œdefenseâ€ often heard in the media is that Israel has the right to defend itself. Many people interviewed on this issue all believe that it is just a scripted defense for mass murder, and doesnâ€™t make too much sense. And according to Rabbi Feldman, â€œWe have to remember that this is not a question of if Israel has the right to defend itself. People like to put it in the image thatâ€™s there a conflict; rather itâ€™s one political group trying to steel land. Weâ€™ve lived in Palestine before there was a United Nations; before there was anyone to â€œprotect usâ€ we lived in peace. We donâ€™t need protection for ourselves, God will protect us, our neighbors will protect us,â€ concluded Rabbi Feldman.