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Roseanne Barr says Israel must end their blockade and occupation of Gaza

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Featured, Politics, US, World — By Kathleen Wells on June 17, 2010 at 7:10 am
Roseanne Barr says Israel must end their blockade and occupation of Gaza

Co-authored by Roseanne Barr

It is time for American Jews to demand that Obama instruct Israel to obey international law.

Well-known actress and comedian, Roseanne Barr, has been a consistent and persistent voice for decades against some of the acts committed by the state of Israel.  Specifically, she has vigorously, unflinchingly, unequivocally, uncompromisingly, and courageously called upon Israel to end its occupation of the West Bank and Gaza.

With this latest incident of the flotilla raid by Israeli commandos, we sat down for a talk.

A frame grab from a video released by the Israel Defence Forces shows what the IDF says is an activist hitting Israeli soldiers on a ship heading toward Gaza on May 31. (IDF/Reuters)

Kathleen Wells: Roseanne, talk to me about being Jewish and what it means to you.

Roseanne Barr: Coming out of the closet is hard, but I am going to do it in this [interview with you].  I am an observant Jew!  Now my secret is out

May Hashem guide these words from my lips to the ears of the world:  END THE BLOCKADE ON GAZA NOW  ‘B’ruch Hashem.

I was taught at my Grandmother’s knee and on her lap that Jerusalem is the City of Holy Alchemy — spiritual, mental and physical.  There, righteous souls soar straight to heaven.  The city, she told me, is the heart of the vow that we take every year when we remember the story of how we who were slaves once walked out of slavery into freedom and began to write law that would bring into being a divine utopia.

Kathleen Wells: You are a Kabbalist, which means you study a discipline and school of thought concerned with the mystical aspect of Rabbinic Judaism, correct?  And being a Kabbalist means you study the Tora, (the “teachings” of God, in the Tanach and Rabbinic literature) and consider that study an inherent duty of observant Jews, correct?

Roseanne Barr: Judaism is an interpretation of Kabballah. Kabballah is from the oral tradition, called the women’s tradition.  It’s also a method of meditation to integrate the mind’s severed parts into one working and immovable force for good on earth.

Kathleen Wells: Based upon that study, do you believe that Jews have a righteous claim/inheritance to Israel, i.e., a right to be in Jerusalem?

Roseanne Barr: Jews have a connection to Jerusalem that has not been broken or altered for many centuries, despite ongoing attempts to force us to deny that fact, including torture,  expulsion, being burned at the stake, ghettoized, gassed and incinerated.  When we are still around after a while of that, then we are greatly rewarded and sometimes allowed to live in unparalleled luxury.  This is a terribly bi-polar existence.  It is as if we are the world’s moral hostages, its scapegoat.

Kathleen Wells: However, critics will say that non-Jews are merely taking the word of Jews – the Torah — and that there is no grant deed signed by God which gives Jerusalem/Israel to the Jewish people.   What do you say to those critics?

Roseanne Barr: The deniers (who are both Jew and Gentile) are so very fascinated by their scapegoat’s mind, its might and strength, its hold and hope, that the worst of the world’s mad scientists studied the “Jewish mind,” specifically the “memory banks” of Jewish human guinea pigs in thousands of well documented experiments that took place under Mengele in Nazi hospitals disguised as “labor camps.”

I have read Mengele’s notes and books about him that tell how he sought to map the brain’s synapses regarding memory, and to attempt to affect and alter what in the Jew was irreversibly programmed to connect with Jerusalem, despite Diaspora.

I just want people to know all of this, before they say the Jews do not belong in Palestine/Israel or that we have no real history there.  We do and have always lived there.  Of that there can be no doubt, at least to us. Truth is truth.

Does this mean that there should be a brutal and undemocratic theocracy in the Middle East which has the world’s fourth largest army?  NO. Does that mean that all the Jews who live there now should be deported back to Poland and Germany and America? NO.

At the end of the Passover story, we say, “Next Year in Jerusalem!”   We say, “If I forget thee, Jerusalem, may my right arm wither, die, and fall off.”

I asked my grandmother why it was that Jerusalem meant so much to those like us.  She explained to me that Jerusalem’s promise was not just for the Jewish people, but for the world, because it was to become the first international city of peace and brother/sisterhood.  I was taught that in the Messianic age, there will be no more religion, because divine justice will descend to earth, and there will be no more separatism or division.  We say, “G-d is One.”  One planet, one people, one G-d, or we used to, before the great rewriting of all of our prayer books, which happened when I was about ten years old, in the early sixties.

As the books got more and more Zionist and less and less socialist, my entire generation, at least a large percentage of it, simply left Judaism.  We became Buddhist and Hindu and atheist or agnostic, all of which (except Christian) were more in keeping with peaceful self-transformative ideas that did not bow down to militarism.

Judaism is one of the last of the world’s matrilineal philosophies.  Matriarchies are always the cultures that patriarchy attacks and decimates, because they don’t spend all their money on the military like patriarchy does.  They are easy prey. Patriarchy is a bully notion, which if you will notice NEVER attacks a nation that can defend itself. Zionism is patriarchal and sets Judaism on its head.

Every Shabbat, Jews pray for the peace of the Shekkinah, to descend on Jerusalem/the world.  Our traditions tell us that the highest level of G-d is female, that She is the Sabbath bride, and She brings peace,  beauty, and judgment tempered by mercy into our circle every seventh day.  Right now, She is pretty upset with the way we have poisoned her foundation, Malchut, which is the Earth.  She is belching and getting over-heated, and we had better look out.  This is our last warning, I think.

These holistic and holy ideas are what I was taught about Judaism. They have been culturally wiped away by some post-Holocaust hyper-masculine militaristic Halliburton-fueled war machine that teaches about blood and honor, with none of the spirituality that I learned just fifty years ago.

Our prayer books then, back in the Sephardic synagogue of my childhood in Salt Lake City, Utah, (“The Congregation Montefiore”) were very different than prayer books are today.  I remember when they “updated” them in the early sixties and they became all about the Holocaust and the state of Israel.  The “children of Israel” was replaced/updated with the “the people of Israel” and our Uncle Ben was instructed to say ‘Shabbat’ and not ‘Shabbos’ anymore.

The pigeon Yiddish that my parents spoke was updated into Hebrew.  I remember being very distraught at the rewrites, because I had been told that we were never to allow even one letter to be changed in the Torah.  I feared that there was going to be a price to pay, and maybe I was right.  Maybe, not.

Kathleen Wells: This is complex and compelling.  What and where are the answers?  How can peace descend upon the Middle East?  Palestinians are Muslims and Christians, not Jewish — they don’t read the Torah.  And they hold as tightly and deeply to their traditions and religion as you do yours.

Roseanne Barr: I hold to nothing but envisioning international peace and utopia.  We all have many more things in common than not. I’ve tried to get to the very bottom of the whole subject, and I say it’s the entire world’s fault, not just Israel’s and not just the Jews’, for allowing the terrible crimes against humanity, the ethnic cleansing that is happening in Gaza right now. No government in the Middle East is innocent. Wars make the stock market go up, so no one in America is innocent either, nor anyone anywhere where capitalism reigns.

Occupation is wrong, collective punishment is wrong, and the use of white phosphorous on a captive population is wrong. Zionists are wrong, Hamas is wrong, Bibi is wrong, Obama is wrong, Saudi Arabia is wrong, Egypt is wrong, Jordan is wrong, Russia is wrong, Turkey is wrong, as are the Pope and the evangelicals, and all who do nothing about this terrible failure of humanity.  To me, the only hope at all is the power of grandmothers crossing cultural and religious lines to make peace together.

Kathleen Wells: Talk to me specifically about the Gaza blockade/occupation.

Roseanne Barr: When I think about the blockade and the occupation and the illegal settlements and the breaking of international law and of maritime law that Israel is indeed guilty of, as well as the use of white phosphorous on a captive people who share our DNA and look just like us and act just like us and do what we would do were our positions reversed, I cannot bear it.

I actually double over; I weep and sweat at night.  I recoil from the arrogant and immoral denial of the suffering of people who are living under occupation.  My stomach turns over and my soul withers when I remember that we said we, of all people, would never let this happen on earth again.

I cannot even think politically about it, or religiously either anymore, because it seems divisive to do so, and that is not what is needed now.  I think that I have to find a way to help, to stop this terrible spiritual Waterloo, this ethnic cleansing of ourselves!  These are our cousins!  Obama can make peace between Palestine and Israel.

Kathleen Wells: What are you doing…?

Roseanne Barr: Every Shabbat I meditate for an end to the neocons and their self-destructive agenda that is pushing the entire world to the brink of war.  I write letters to Jewish people. I blog everyday about Jerusalem. I have traveled the world, including parts of Palestine to talk to women about peace. I show up and argue with Zionists, Christians and anti-Zionists, too, all over the world.  I also pray with all of the above, and find that group prayer settles disputes well.

People think I am crazy to think that we can actually have peace if we get a council of grandmothers together to write just laws and peace treaties that work for all.  I have spoken in private homes and in synagogues and Kabballah centers for almost twelve years about how the Jewish people are being given the greatest opportunity to make peace in the world right now, and that if we don’t take this moment, it will seal our doom. I am sure of it.  We are to beat our swords into plowshares and to make peace and brotherhood in Jerusalem, in order to bring Mashiach — the messianic age — A SOCIALIST PARADISE!  I just want to say this, because it ‘s never said, it seems.

I fear that we have destroyed not just innocent people, but ourselves, in Gaza.  I ache for all of the people of my DNA, the Palestinians — poor, abused and suffering, wondering how long the bombings will go on and whether there will be food or water tomorrow, of dead bodies rotting in the streets and no medicine for children.

I ache for the Jews who live in fear, too, always.  My G-d, what can I do?  Can I go there? Can I walk food and supplies in myself?  How can I live without attempting to alleviate unnecessary suffering, instead of being a part of its cause?  How can I keep my soul and be a Jew now? It torments my mind.

I am not ready to let go of the idea that utopia can indeed exist on this earth now, that separatism and duality will evolve into cooperation and understanding.   I was not raised a Zionist, but a socialist, as were most Jews before the Holocaust.  This is now, and we all need a reboot of our programs and a lot more empathy for all that is alive.

Kathleen Wells: There are collective fears/concerns that many Jews have that the Palestinians and others in the Middle East would like to see Israel wiped off the map.

Roseanne Barr: Being hated and hunted and blamed for your own suffering makes people kind of testy, nervous, and on edge, and often fundamentalist and extreme.  Bombs get thrown only when people cannot honestly talk together.  Women on both sides of the occupation have been betrayed by their male leaders, who have less interest in helping their own than in ripping them off, just like what is happening to the women in America right now.

Kathleen Wells: What do you think of U.S.-Israel relations?  What do you say to American Jews and to President Obama?

Roseanne Barr: I was asked what message to give to the President by someone who attended a lunch with him where Jewish American opinion was invited.  I told my friend to tell Obama that he must end the embargo on Gaza.  Two weeks later, the flotillas sailed and were attacked in international waters.

It is time for American Jews to demand that Obama instruct Israel to obey international law.  Our people died for international law — laws that prohibit collective punishment and captivity, deportation, and acts of terror against an unarmed and captive population. The cost of the blood on our hands if we do not demand this now will be the loss of our souls, which, unlike the Holocaust, we cannot survive.

When the world is shown the crimes against humanity that have been executed in our names, there in that ghetto called Gaza, I fear there will be no more Judaism left in Zionism at all.  Eighty percent of young American Jews under the age of 30 are not Zionists, according to Zogby polls.

G-d exists nowhere but in our own hearts.  If our hearts are deadened to each other, then they are also deadened to G-d!  We are ridiculed by our own if we say we care about the suffering of the other side.  Are we not capable of loving those who are unlike us, nor those who are like us but disagree with us? This is not who we are.

Kathleen Wells: Talk to me about the dynamic between Israel and Iran?

Roseanne Barr: Is Israel going to attack Iran now?  Israel cannot survive a war with Iran.  This terrible programming is incorrect.  It is lemming programming.  Evangelicals are pushing for Armageddon, the final solution to the Jewish problem.  Wake up America! Wake up Israel! Wake up world!

A Jew is required to correct his thinking and transform the world for the better, but Zionism has changed every single corner of Judaism now. I think the only hope is to go back to a pre-Holocaust socialistic interpretation of Torah.  What are the Zionists fighting for? Land?  For what? Strip malls and movie theatres and tract housing?

They always say that they feel like they want to “undo the Holocaust,” to make sure that it doesn’t happen to the Jews ever again.  I guess this is what happens to people who have lived through “shock and awe.”  The Palestinians will probably keep “defending” themselves forever, too, and doing things to make sure the fighting continues.  But, maybe not.  I know they have grandmothers who want peace there, too.

Jews, this is NOW!!  You are not slaves any longer!  You are not being gassed and hunted now! You are living in great relative wealth compared to the rest of the world.

Kathleen Wells: Supporters/defenders of the state of Israel say that Hamas sends rockets into Israel and that justifies/makes reasonable Israel’s actions/blockade of Gaza.

Roseanne Barr: Sixteen Israelis were killed in one year by Palestinian rockets, so Israel killed 1600 Palestinians.  Israel, by a factor of ten, has killed more civilians than its enemies.

More people die in gang violence in LA in a month than are killed by Palestinian rockets in Israel in a year. If a gang killed one hundred members of the opposing gang for every one of them killed, the entire state of California would step in to put an end to both sides of the whole miserable operation, and that is what Obama must do.

Jerusalem is prophesied to become the city of international brotherhood, and that idea is the central force in Torah. So why not help it happen now? May G-d forgive us all for our cruelty, in that we quibble while tiny little innocent children starve and die.  We deserve to blow sky high every single one of us.

Kathleen Wells: I can hear the critics now.  They will say: You are religious, but this is a political issue.   And that you can’t conflate religion and politics — religious beliefs cannot be used to solve political issues and political problems.

Roseanne Barr: I have to say that I agree with you, but that is not what is happening here or there. Neocons in America made an unholy deal with the evangelicals and took over not only America’s government, but Israel’s government.

Neocon Zionists and Christian Zionists must abandon the warmongering. They have demonized those of us who are observant Jews (socialists) and called us self-haters.  This is the truth:  Self -haters are those who want endless war and suffering, not those who want peace.

Seriously, neoconservative evangelical Christian Zionists are not doing G-d’s work at all.

All of the problems between Israel and Palestine can be solved in a day, if we take religion out of things.  It is merely a labor issue, as everything really is.  Nothing is really a religious issue at all; it just serves to keep people from blaming the oligarchs.  Religion is the only thing that keeps the poor from killing the rich, and that is why it’s so huge in the USA right now.  The workers get the Bible and the bosses get the money.

Kathleen Wells: Are most of the neocons Jewish?

Roseanne Barr: Many are.  Well, Bill Kristol, who is the architect of the neocons, is.  Ever read the magazine The New Republic?

Jon Stewart always has Kristol on his show and that’s why I am so upset with Jon.  You say that religion and politics are not mixed, but, yes, they are, especially in Israel. The entire Zionist thing got co-opted by evangelicals.   They finance about seventy percent of Israeli tourist trade.

The thing that infuriates me and I have argued this with all of the neocons, is that many Christians believe that all Jews must die in Israel during their terrible Armageddon story in order for Christ to return.  They vote pro-Israel, occupation and settlements, hoping that war will break out and my people will die there.  They are close to being neo-Nazis.  I told the mayor of Jerusalem this after he followed me around Jerusalem demanding that I make a tourist film with him thanking American evangelicals to use as a fund-raising tool.  He told me that Israel can’t survive without them because Jews are no longer visiting or supporting the economy there. I said if Jew haters are our only hope, then that should be the end of it.  There was fallout for me.

I took the whole Book of Revelations to Jews and explained the Nazi-like philosophy behind their support of Israel, and they just laughed and said, “It doesn’t matter what they believe. The guy (Jesus) isn’t coming back.  So what?”  I said, “Their support includes agitating for war with Iran, which to them is Magog. Armageddon is the war of Gog and Magog.”  It draws closer.

Listen to Palin drop hints about all the Jews in America moving there. Their thinking is for real and their think tanks write about it all the time.   I read it all from what the Pope writes about Israel and the Jews to what the Mormons say in their opinions on the same stuff and the Christian think tank, which is called The Family.

Kathleen Wells: What do you say to the Zionists?

Rosanne Barr: The Palestinians have agreed to renounce their previous beliefs that Israel should not exist.  Neocon Zionists are SORE WINNERS!  Come on now, I am an American Jew. I will never allow anyone to destroy Israel, and that includes the right wing idiots in Israel.  I will make permanent Aliyah there and become President, or stand naked at the top of any mountain, if it will help. I want solutions and, in fact, I demand them, because I know that they are possible.  Compromise and solve problems.  I swear to G-d it is the time for that. The time for Tikkun Olam (repentance that transforms the world).

Everything on this earth right now is about labor and slavery.  War is the only American export left that anyone wants to buy from us.  Nice work, neocons!  Nice work, evangelicals!  Nice work, Reagan, and Bush! Nice work, Zionists! Nice work, MEN! Sometimes I think we should be like Solomon and wire the whole place for doom.

The biblical story celebrating Solomon’s wisdom says he ordered a baby, the object of dispute, sliced in half, knowing that the woman who backed out of the deal first was the baby’s real mother. She was awarded the baby.  After we wire Jerusalem to blow sky high, we will settle the score once and for all between Islam and Judaism.  The one who wants peace will win.  It’s in the book of war, for chrissakes. The winners will love Jerusalem the most, and that means they will love peace and brotherhood and international law the most.

Kathleen Wells: Where do we go from here?

Roseanne Barr: Rachel Corrie, a Jewish American young woman, who stood in front of an Israeli bulldozer and bet her life that her fellow Jews would not kill her, lost the bet and was plowed under the wreckage of the Palestinian home she tried to defend. She knew no moral person could remain silent when the government who supposedly speaks for it inflicts suffering on innocent captive children.

Yesterday, my friend told me that a group of Jews who live in Germany are bringing in a boat filled with Jews to break the blockade, to place Israel in the position of having to kill Jews who oppose the neocon Zionist version of who we are.  It is quite perfect, understated and Jewish — the most profound of soundbites in this battle for hearts and minds.  We are all Rachel Corrie now! We are coming from Germany to save ourselves in this part of Jewish history.

Where do we go from here?  We love each other! May the light of peace descend on the world.  NOW!

May the spirit of Rabin, of Camp David re awaken in all the world’s people, now. May what was so close ignite and burn down all fear and hatred, on every side of us.  May we find a way to make peace, and restitution.


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