- Racial Equity
- Talk About Race
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.
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.