National Lutheran News

Israel/Palestine conflict resolution needs citizen pressure, advocate says

Jewish activist for peace and justice says US. politcs, Jewish lobby hinder peace process

Most people at age 68 are looking for ways to start slowing down. Not so with Ned Hanauer.

The Boston-based Jewish college professor, since 1972 the director of Search for Justice and Equality in Palestine/Israel, is writing, traveling, speaking, advocating and critiquing on the topic of conflict in the Holy Land, like a lonely voice in a political wilderness.

During March and April, Hanauer made a swing into the upper Midwest, with 35 appearances in 12 days in Minnesota and Iowa. His message was consistent: the one-sided battle in Palestine pits a heavily-bankrolled Israeli state against poorly-funded Palestinians in a tug of war for territory which is turning into an immoral land and water grab by the Israelis. And, says Hanauer, Israel is winning — largely because the U.S. government thinks supporting Israel, with a $4 billion no-strings-attached gift each year, is in its best interests (Hanauer says the opposite is true). And, he maintains, the U.S. gets most of its signals from the influential, but slanted, “Jewish lobby,” which, ac-cording to Hanauer, doesn’t even speak for a majority of Jews, much less most Americans.

In a conversation at the Minnesota Church Center on April 4, Hanauer told Metro Lutheran that American Christians should be concerned about the conflict because it’s a matter of justice.

“A majority of Jews in the U.S. said, in a survey, that the United States should lean on both sides to make a just and fair peace. But the Jewish lobby tells Washing-ton politicians that 95% of Jews want the U.S. to lean on Palestine only.”

Hanauer said Minnesota Lutherans would be surprised how many Jewish groups are critical of Israel. They make a persuasive case, he says, but they are all fairly small.

Hanauer’s own group has only one staff person — himself. Given that reality, it’s remarkable the impact he continues to make, bending the ear of editors of major publications and getting his voice heard.

He says Americans, Jews and Christians alike, need to take on the Jewish lobby. “It appears, however, that American Jews just don’t care, or they don’t know how to take on the lobby. So, nothing changes.”

And conservative Christians are largely on Israel’s side. For many of them, there is a belief that God wants the Jews to get all the land from the Mediterranean to the Jordan River, because it will, in their mind, fulfill biblical prophecy.

A great majority of Americans don’t share this view, he says, but they need to stop discussing and going to lectures and start working to change politicians’ minds.
To learn more about Search for Justice and Equality in Palestine/Israel, or to support the group, visit www.searchforjustice.org.