Memo to Team Obama: Read Rabbi Rosen and Roger Cohen Before You Announce Your Middle East Team

by James M. Wall                  

On Sunday morning, our pastor led us in a “Congregational Reaffirmation of the Baptismal Covenant”. We were asked to respond to a series of questions, including this one:

“Do you accept the freedom and power God gives you to resist evil, injustice, and oppression in whatever forms they present themselves?”

Monday morning, Episcopal priest Cotton Fite, from Evanston, IL, introduced me (via email) to Rabbi Brant Rosen, also of Evanston, a religious leader who is courageously responding from his own faith tradition to use the freedom and power of God to “resist evil, injustice and oppressive” in all of its forms. 

Rosen, the rabbi of Jewish Reconstructionist Congregation (JRC), writes a blog which he calls Shalom Ray. His December 28, 2008 posting is “Outrage in Gaza: No More Apologies”.

My latest definition of courage: A Jewish rabbi who is outraged over the deaths in Gaza, and says so, out loud, so all can hear him.  This courageous rabbi concludes his posting with a question: “Now I have said it. Now what do I do?”

If after reading Rosen’s blog you have the same question, I have a series of suggestions for all of us.

First, read Rosen’s posting (pasted below) and then link to his blog for his earlier postings. Next, flood Team Obama with links to Rosen’s blog. Team Obama needs to know that before the new president promises “change” in the Middle East he must listen to different Jewish voices, like that of Rabbi Brant Rosen.

Next, send Team Obama a link to Roger Cohen’s New York Times column: Mideast Dream Team? Not Quite.

Finally, add your comment of your own to Rabbi Rosen’s blog, and then write an email note of thanks to Roger Cohen.

Here is Rabbi Rosen’s posting:

The news today out of Israel and Gaza makes me just sick to my stomach.I know, I can already hear the responses: every nation has a responsibility to ensure the safety of its citizens. If the Qassams stopped, Israel wouldn’t be forced to take military action. Hamas also bears responsibility for this tragic situation… I could answer each and every one of these claims in turn, but I’m ready to stop this perverse game of rhetorical ping-pong.

I don’t buy the rationalizations any more. I’m so tired of the apologetics. How on earth will squeezing the life out of Gaza, not to mention bombing the living hell out of it, ensure the safety of Israeli citizens? We good liberal Jews are ready to protest oppression and human-rights abuse anywhere in the world, but are all too willing to give Israel a pass.

It’s a fascinating double-standard, and one I understand all too well. I understand it because I’ve been just as responsible as anyone else for perpetrating it. So no more rationalizations. What Israel has been doing to the people of Gaza is an outrage. It has brought neither safety nor security to the people of Israel and it has wrought nothing but misery and tragedy upon the people of Gaza.

There, I’ve said it. Now what do I do?

One final word: Turn that ship around, Mr. President!

This ominous essay from Global Research reports that large shipments of US arms are headed to the Middle East, bound for Israel. The shipment is being handled by a Greek merchant shipping company.

Does this mean we can expect even more attacks beyond Gaza which will lead nowhere but to the suffering shown in this You Tube presentation of the song of defiance and hope,  “We Will Not Go Down”

Arms used by Israel in Gaza were shipped well before the current invasion began.  Does the new shipment promise attacks beyond Gaza? Global Research believes they are:

The request by the Pentagon to transport ordinance in a commercial vessel, according to Reuters, was made on December 31, 4 days after the commencement of the aerial bombings of Gaza by F16 Fighter jets. 

Analysts have hastily concluded, without evidence, that the 2 shipments of “ammunition” were intended to supply Israel’s armed forces in support of its military invasion of Gaza.

“A senior military analyst in London who declined to be named said that, because of the timing, the shipments could be “irregular” and linked to the Gaza offensive.” (Reuters, January 10, 2009)

These reports are mistaken. Delivery of ordinance always precedes the onslaught of a military operation. The ordinance required under “Operation Cast Lead” was decided upon in June 2008. Further to Tel Aviv’s request under the US military aid program to Israel, the U.S. Congress approved in September 2008 the transfer of 1,000 bunker-buster high precision GPS-guided Small Diameter Guided Bomb Units 39 (GBU-39). 

The GBU 39 smart bombs produced by Boeing were delivered to Israel in November. They were used in the initial air raids on Gaza: 

“…The Israel Air Force has used the new lightweight GBU-39 Small Diameter Bomb acquired from the USA, in the recent attacks in Gaza. The [Jerusalem] Post mentioned the new weapons ordered last September having arrived last month [November], and already put to action with the IAF fighters. These weapons could have been deployed by the Boeing/IAF F-15Is, since sofar SDB is cleared for use only with this type of aircraft.

Team Obama has to know this. It also has to know that “delivery of ordinance always precedes the onslaught of a military operation.”  

President Obama, on January 20, announce a Mideast team that will deliver “change we can believe in”.

And, may we also suggest, Sir, with all due respect,  that on January 20. you order that ship to turn around and proceed back to the US. 

About wallwritings

From 1972 through 1999, James M. Wall was editor and publisher of the Christian Century magazine, based in Chicago, lllinois. He was a Contributing Editor of the Century from 1999 until July, 2017. He has written this blog, wall, since it was launched April 27, 2008. If you would like to receive Wall Writings alerts when new postings are added to this site, send a note, saying, Please Add Me, to Biography: Journalism was Jim's undergraduate college major at Emory University, Atlanta, Georgia. He has earned two MA degrees, one from Emory, and one from the University of Chicago, both in religion. He is an ordained United Methodist clergy person. He served for two years in the US Air Force, and three additional years in the USAF reserve. While serving on active duty with the Alaskan Command, he reached the rank of first lieutenant. He has worked as a sports writer for both the Atlanta Journal and Constitution, was editor of the United Methodist magazine, Christian Advocate for ten years, and editor and publisher of the Christian Century magazine for 27 years. James M Wall died March 22, 2021 at age 92. His family appreciates all of his readers, even those who may have disagreed with his well-informed writings.
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3 Responses to Memo to Team Obama: Read Rabbi Rosen and Roger Cohen Before You Announce Your Middle East Team

  1. Pauline Coffman says:

    Thank you, Jim. Last June 2008 at the Presbyterian General Assembly, the Institute for Religion and Democracy presented Dennis Ross in a 30 minute video to about 50 people. Mr. Ross is clearly a neo-con who sides with Israel on every issue. There is no benefit to the Palestinians if he is named Middle East envoy.

  2. Harris Fawell says:

    My congratulations to you for speaking out about the Gaza debacle. I was aware of Brant Rosen’s feelings in regard to the Gaza “war” and appreciate his speaking out. Harris Fawell

  3. Thank you, Jim Wall, for continuing to shine a light on Israelis who (finally) are strenously objecting to the Israelis’ government actions that make “shalom” impossible. We’re not a critical mass yet, but the tide may be turning. We need to keep the pressure on the US administration to follow through on lofty goals. Insisting on settlement “freeze” is a good start if we can only make it stick. The jury is still out on that one. JRK

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