Saturday, December 15, 2012

A Comment on Comments

I just found out last week that "comments" weren't working.

A friend told me she'd commented on my last post but they never showed up.  I asked if anybody else had had trouble, and another friend told she had also tried to comment, but her comment, an entire paragraph, disappeared!

There hadn't been any comments but I hadn't been surprised by that.  I have gotten a few but most people who had something to say seemed to prefer to say it on Facebook.  That is, when I posted my blog entries on Facebook.  I had been writing about politics and religion; some of the posts I hadn't even been putting on Facebook.  My followers being few (but select), I had gotten used to there not being comments.

On my recent series, though, I had thought there could be comments.  The series was what some would consider controversial, so I turned on the "moderate" function.  I thought that would give me a chance to think through replies.  And if there were replies that got nasty (not from my friends, of course), I'd have a choice about whether to publish them.  I think that's how it works.

Now it turns out there have been comments.  People bothered to write them up and then they were lost in cyberspace.  Oh, no!

The comments, not the people, but that's bad enough.

On investigating it turned out I had "word verification" turned on.  That's where the commenter has to copy a strange series of case-sensitive letters or numbers of varying degrees of legibility.  It's supposed to keep out spam, but the "help" response tells me there are better "spam filters" these days so it's not really necessary.  That may have been the culprit.  Turned it off!

I also turned off the "moderator" function.  That means that comments will show up right away.  I haven't had a problem so far.  Maybe I was borrowing trouble.  Anyway, right now, losing the comments is the larger problem.  We'll see.  I don't care for those situations where respondents get into polemical free-for-alls with each other.  There's enough nastiness in the world.  But as I said, so far that's not the problem.  I should be so lucky as to have great numbers of respondents!

There is one thing I do worry about, though, and that's the fact I'm concerned my responses to comments won't be as good as the original posts.  The posts themselves are the result of turning things over and over.  They take me a while.  I'm learning as I write.  I try to tell "just the truth, ma'am."  I try to get the defensiveness out, and I try to get the gratuitous pokes at other people or groups out.  In responding to comments I might not do so well.

So here's my plan.  I may not respond instantly.  It may even take a day or two.  Also, I am going to remember to look at the responding as part and parcel of my learning process.  That means the commenter may be my teacher.  But more likely it'll be the dialogue itself that will be the source of learning.

After all, it is anyway.  Dialogue has provided my stimulus and raw material.

Okay, then!  Comments, ready or not!

Sunday, December 2, 2012

Corrie Verdict, Part III Rachel Corrie, Israel, and Liberal Christian Theology

This is the third part of my discussion of the Rachel Corrie verdict.  I looked first at the facts, second at the fraught narrative about the Middle East, and have now arrived at a level that entails a look at some theology, specifically at the evolving theological discourse within liberal mainline Christianity.  (Follow the link to Part 1 for the introduction and a disclaimer.)

I started to refer to liberal Christian theological impositions on Rachel Corrie and Israel, but decided that would be biased terminology whereby I refer to my own theological thought as "midrash" or "homiletic," and the thinking of the liberal Christian "other" as an "imposition."  So, I'll stick with "theology" all around.  I will say that if the reader thinks Israel is a social justice issue plain and simple, and not a theological one, than that reader needs to emerge from the cave he or she has been in for the last 20 years or more.

In the beginning, it seemed it would be enough to talk about Rachel Corrie in this regard.  I do want to arrive at the issue of whether the issue is justice, or revenge, because that will be the subject of Part IV, but it was first necessary to include the overall issue of Israel, that being the context for the Rachel Corrie narrative.

Understanding the liberal Christian anti-Israel narrative means taking a look at anti-Judaism in Christianity, which, traditionally, culminates in the Christ-killing charge against "the Jews."  Anti-Judaism is in no way the main or only dynamic in Christian tradition, which also includes an opposing pole of pro-Judaism, Jews being the first Christians and the people closest to Jesus, himself a Jew.  But anti-Judaism is the dynamic that ties in with the anti-Israel narrative and with the perceived martyrdom of Rachel Corrie.

To see anti-Judaism as stemming directly from the deicide charge against the Jews may be too neat.  We can't just say that reactions prevalent today stem directly from the Christian foundational story.  That would be too simplistic.  More precisely, the New Testament often portrays Jews as bad (related to the foundational story in which they are cast in the bad-guy role) so, in the emerging Christian-based culture, "Jew" acquired a negative valence.  Thereafter, whatever (or whoever) was considered bad tended to attract characteristics thought to be Jew-like, while that which became associated with Jews could exude an aura of "not-good."  One example of the negative valence attached to things Jewish in Christian-dominant culture is the word "Jew" itself; still, today, many people of Christian origin will go out of their way to avoid saying the word "Jew," as though it were a pejorative term.

I am speaking generally; the degree to which those stereotypes prevailed depended on specific historical circumstances.  Down through the unfolding centuries, though, whatever was associated with Jews could take on some degree of unsavoriness--an aspect of impurity--in the dominant Christian culture.  In Christian Europe, Jews eventually became the "other,"--the perennial outsider over against whom peasants, craftsmen, and gentry eventually unified themselves into nations (Jerry Muller, Capitalism and the Jews).  But despite all the complexity, when it comes to the death of a young Christian American woman, it makes some sense to talk about the deicide charge in particular.  Rachel Corrie defined herself as standing up to Israel; her advocates frame her as a martyr--one who was saving suffering Palestinians from Jews through her own death. 

Some people will ask why I have to write about all that--the deicide accusation and the low esteem in which Christian society tended to hold Jews.  The answer is that if it is implicated in the narrative, I have to deal with it.  In an ideal world those things would not be an issue, but in the world we have, it is better to shine the light of day on difficult issues than to let them fester.  See Part II for a related discussion.

It was a Christian tradition of nearly two millenia that all Jews were collectively responsible for the death of Jesus.  Since WWII and the Holocaust, all major Christian denominations have officially repudiated that belief, as far as I know.  Most denominations still teach that some Jews or "the Jewish leaders" turned him over to the Romans or resorted to mob violence against him.  Even in churches that value pluralism and "pro-Semitism," the preaching and teaching may still retain too much belief for my tastes in the Jews having conducted a personal vendetta against Jesus, in the collusion of all the Jewish leaders, in a picture of Judaism as corrupt and in need of reform by Jesus, and in blasphemy as the cause of Jesus' death--all of which speak to Christian tradition and theology, but not to eye-witness history about the Jews or otherwise.  (There is no eye-witness history; traditions developed gradually, only later becoming the officially sanctioned traditions; and the first Gospel wasn't finalized in writing until two generations later and even then in a different culture and language. The Gospels, like other scripture, contain remembrances of history, but are theologies, not histories.)  Still, the official belief in Jewish deicide is no more--thank God for that.

I said the official belief is done for.  But old beliefs die hard, especially deeply engrained and useful old beliefs.  It's my impression, formed over the last five years, that for many Christians, official pronouncements are just so much political correctness--in other words, as though the Jews did kill Jesus but it's not nice to say so.

And so, all of that is part of what I hear when I hear individual Christians (or post-Christians), a church community, or representatives purporting to speak for a denomination, who are obsessed with the unique evil of Israel--for example, such that they consider a belief in the corrupt nature of the Rachel Corrie trial to be a priori justified.  They do not officially play the deicide card, especially in public, but it gets touched on indirectly, coming out in posts, in hymns, or in light of the groups with which individuals or the church community affiliates.  Those are the emotions that I hear, the emotional chords and depth vibrations of the "We are just criticizing Israel" mantra.  It is a preoccupation that, under the guise of declaring the right to "criticize" or "confront" Israel, can and often does extend to the criticism of Judaism as well, and which can continue in Fellowship Hall a theme introduced upstairs in church.  In fact, the "upstairs" and "downstairs" themes--the theology and the politics--are mutually reinforcing.  The preoccupation with Jews/Israel being so extensive, it runs the risk of crossing over (under the rubric of "criticism") into active incitement of hate toward another religious community.  The fact of the matter is that criticism is one thing, but a narrative that defines Israel as the opposite of all that is good is another.  For then what we have is a projection of the dark side upon "the other." In other words, under the guise of "criticizing Israel," we begin to see the demonizing of Israel.

In what follows, I'm going to be breaking down those issues for further discussion.

One could hope there would be teaching against anti-Jewish stereotypes as they occur in both scripture and politics.  That was the lesson of the Holocaust, and such teaching does occurI have read that kind of teaching in Christian bibles and have heard it in sermons.  But such occurrences can be rare, and in some liberal settings don't happen at all.  When there are stereotypes and religious slurs that jibe with the political sentiments of the day as well as with engrained traditional beliefs, it seems people who should know better are at best silent.  As with the political Right and racism, teaching that counters anti-Judaism does not appear to be a priority, because anti-Judaism is not typically being recognized as a problem by the political and Christian Left.

What is more shocking is when those same people whom one would think should know better not only do not speak out, but also participate in anti-Jewish teaching themselves.  That is what shocked me awake--that and the political ends to which Christian anti-Judaism lends itself.  Having been taught that prejudices of the past had ended and we are all just Americans now, I did not know that teaching of traditional anti-Jewish beliefs as part and parcel of the Christian religion is alive and well--or maybe, having lessened after WWII, has picked up steam in today's economically stressed and polarized political climate.  To be exact, I did know it went on, but I thought it was relegated to fundamentalist churches where (I thought) they believe Jews are going to hell for not accepting the Christian religion, etcetera.  What I'm talking about is a general portrayal of Judaism in Jesus' time, and now, too, as essentially the inverse of Christianity, for the purpose of highlighting Christianity in contrast.  I did not know such beliefs were so common as to be unremarkable in churches whose members are educated people I consider to be peers, and whom I thought were the very people who were not prejudiced. 

Although I know there exist Christian scholars who have a deep understanding of Judaism,  I think the typical Christian layperson or post-Christian knows next to nothing about Judaism.  In part, that is because what Christians think they know about Judaism is, for the most part, Christianity, and not Judaism at all.  That is, I know most Christians know about a smattering of Jewish holidays and observances, but on a deep level, what they think they know about Judaism--what they learn in church, through Christian education, and via allusions in many popular books for Christians--often reflects Christian polemical thinking about Judaism, not Judaism.  One aspect of such thinking is the assumption that Judaism boils down to simple ideas--usually those that best encapsulate the particular Christian's (or Christian group's) less-than-positive opinion of it.

Based on my experiences of the last five years, it has occurred to me that it would be just about as hard for a Christian--at least, a liberal Christian--to learn about Judaism through what he hears preached and taught through church as it would be for a dyed-in-the-wool Tea Party conservative to learn about liberalism from what Rush Limbaugh and Fox News say.

I remember some years ago waking up from a dream in which my husband had been mean to me--and I got angry at him for misbehaving in the dream!  Part of the plot of the Christian foundational story involves Jews behaving badly. (See my remarks concerning historicity of scripture, underlined above.)   As in the case of my dream, Christians sometimes respond to Jews with suspicion, dislike, or feelings of superiority, to start with, because of those texts, and because of subsequent stereotypes.  No matter what official pronouncements have been made (e.g, rescinding the charge of deicide, repudiating supersessionist theology, or attesting to the continuance of the "old" covenant), the potential for hateful and vengeful attitudes remains with us.

There was an AP news story in my paper the other day (November 16, 2012, by Gregory Katz) about the recent BBC news scandal in which, after his death, a celebrity had been uncovered as a child molester. In the meantime, an older politician, Alistair McAlpine, was wrongly linked to the scandal and subsequently cleared.  Lord McAlpine was described as "shaken." Here is what he said about the experience of being unjustly accused: "To find yourself a figure of public hatred, unjustifiably, is terrifying."

Lord McAlpine's statement can give a little taste of what it feels like to Jews to have one's reputation slandered within the dominant culture over the centuries.  For some people, Israel presents another justification for doing so. 

Some Christians today, particularly liberals, have difficulty with talk of miracles, divinity, and the supernatural.  Educated liberals also are likely to know that scholars argue about whether all the words attributed to Jesus are genuine.  Various bible scholars who write for the popular market (e.g., Bart Ehrman) deconstruct both the miracles and the intrinsic meaning of scripture. What remains as an object of as-yet un-deconstructed literalistic belief is "the Jews"--the Jews plus Jesus' purported relationship to them.  So, if somebody is unsure about miracles and divinity, what he or she has left is Jesus and the Jews.  It's often downhill from there, as far as the Jews in the Christian story.  Jesus is the social justice hero--Martin Luther King Jr. and Gandhi rolled into one and retrojected back into the 1st century, where he overcomes the morally stunted, hypocritical Jewish leaders (generally understood as one unified yet amorphous group, all working together to thwart Jesus).  Or, in a slight variation, Jesus is recast for today as that enlightened liberal thinker who has been inserted back into history where he can get his Jewish society (understood to be morally backward and masquerading in the guise of today's American conservatism) sufficiently told off.

Even though it is not logical, modern-day Israel in effect has become a stand-in for Jesus' Jewish society.  Jews who condemn it are liberal (good).  Jews who do not totally abandon their affection for Israel are to be seen as Tea Party conservatives.  Even if those Jews consider themselves liberal, they are deemed de facto conservative, given that repudiation of Israel, the state, is the litmus test for acceptance into the Christian Left.  Although that is simplistic, I consider it not far off today's political orthodoxy of the Left.

It is as though for some liberal Christians, confession of Jesus Christ has become insufficient.  What the new orthodoxy demands is that the would-be liberal profess loss of faith in Israel.  Israel has become a wedge issue with a knife-sharp edge, by which liberal Christian-based society is to divide "good" liberals from "bad" conservatives.  Just as in traditional Christian theology all the ways of Judaism soon became unacceptable for Christians, today all vestiges of positive feeling toward Israel are becoming, for liberals, the mark of the wrong way.  So, we will have profession of no-faith in Israel as both loyalty oath and glue of the movement.

Accordingly, the "two-state" solution has become too pro-Israel for the Left's leading edge.  For example, consider "Kairos 2009," a Palestinian Christian document that was taught in some churches circa 2010.  "Kairos 2009" calls for boycott, divestment, and sanctions (BDS) against Israel, in a context devoid of any mention of a two-state solution.  Despite somewhat flowery language with reference to love and concern for all, it amounts to a theologically-based argument complete with scriptural references that tacitly calls for the end of Israel as a Jewish state.  In the summer of 2010, I was in two of a four-session "Kairos 2009" class.

Churches are typically hearing speakers telling them that it is too late for a two-state solution, now considered insufficiently radical.  Now there is flat-out to be no more Jewish state. Not only are they preaching a one-state Palestinian solution, but also, one of those speakers specifically relates his position to alleged defects in the religion of Judaism.  In a book called Fatal Embrace, Christians, Jews, and the Search for Peace in the Holy Land (2011), author Mark Braverman says that not only should Christians give up guilt for the Holocaust so as to criticize Israel, Christians also must criticize the religion of Judaism.  I have read parts of his book and heard two of his talks (one from last year via a video made at a local church, and one given in Amsterdam in September, 2011, that I found on the Internet). I've also talked with my husband about another church presentation that he attended, and I watched part of Mark Braverman's presentation on Book TV via C-SPAN.   I understand him to be saying that our present time, consisting of this 67 years since the Holocaust and during which a Jewish state was established, constitutes a "fatal embrace" by Christianity--a fatal embrace of misguided love and regard for Judaism that was caused by guilt over the Holocaust, and during which Christianity has, in effect, let Judaism get out of control.

Historically, Mark Braverman focuses exclusively on the Holocaust, and on Jesus' time on earth.  The latter he bases on what I think of as New Testament fundamentalism--as though it were literal history.  He gives short shrift to intervening centuries and events, jumping back and forth from the first century to the Holocaust, which he says was caused by the New Testament and Christianity.  It's worth noting Mark Braverman has a very foreshortened view of history, nor does he say how the New Testament and Christianity could have possibly led to the Holocaust given his accolades (see below).

At any rate, after saying the Holocaust was horrific, he proceeds to claim that Christianity has healed itself, it has cured itself and made itself right--its only problem being, he says, that the guilt Christians have suffered since then has kept them from criticizing Israel and from confronting the religion of Judaism.

The real problem, according to him, is Judaism.

The essence of the problem of Judaism, according to Mark Braverman, derives from the theology of their being "the chosen" people.  He says he himself is following Jesus, who pointed the way toward universalism, while Judaism is tribal.  He says that since the Jews have rejected him (Mark Braverman, not Jesus, although that can be confusing), he's now proclaiming his message to Christians.  He invites Christians to "help us tear down this wall," in both the sense of the protection barrier in Israel and in the sense of the wall that he claims Jewish "exceptionalism" has built around Jews.  He further insists he remains a Jew and that his own view of what Judaism is versus what it should be is the whole story.

It should also be noted that Mark Braverman claims to be speaking and writing for the sake of Jews, asking--begging--for Christians to treat both the state of Israel and Judaism as he deems appropriate.  He foresees his program of harsh criticism will mean dropping formal interfaith activities between Christians and Jews, and he recommends--encourages--that those interfaith activities be ended.

Although in the foreword, Walter Brueggmann describes Mark Braverman as "a passionate Jew with a long and deep love for Israel," in his talks at churches, he describes himself as a follower of Jesus.  When asked if he has synagogue involvement, he says no, because of his rejection of Judaism--according to his own understanding of Judaism.  He says his Christian listeners are his synagogue.

If this sounds familiar, and if some of his liberal Christian listeners find his words right up their alley, that is not surprising, since what Mark Braverman is teaching is a version of Christianity, not Judaism.  His criticism of Judaism consists of several traditional Christian theological criticisms of Judaism.  It is in essence a polemic that I doubt would pass close theological inspection today.   He sets up a "straw man," names it "Judaism," and, having set it up for the purpose of demolishing it, he does.  I know of one Atlanta church with exceptional clergy leadership that found his condemnation of another world religion wrong, and conducted subsequent corrective teaching for church members.  I hope I'm mistaken, but, hearing of Mark Braverman's glowing reception in many quarters, I fear that is a rare occurrence.

James Carroll, writing in Constantine's Sword, has said that, extrapolating from their numbers as seven to ten percent of the Roman Empire, there should be 100 to 200 million Jews in the world today (instead of perhaps 13 million), if not for Christian persecution over the centuries, culminating in the Holocaust.  The Nazis were not Christian, but they wielded anti-Judaism to weaken the consciences of Christians and gain their acquiescence in mass murder. The Holocaust was the ultimate coming to fruition of the anti-Judaism that is within Christianity, eventually recognized as such by the church as a whole.  That was the lesson of the Holocaust for the church, which, subsequently, for the first time, wanted to excise it, so that the sins of the past in that regard would end.  The Holocaust made the enormous and lethal power of anti-Judaism in Christianity visible.  But Mark Braverman is advising Christians that the period of time since the Holocaust--which is the brief span of time during which Christian persecution of Judaism has ceased--is the aberration.  He is saying Christians should resume chastisement of Jews and their religion, over its ostensible evil and that of Israel.  Oh, and that Judaism is exactly as he describes per his alleged experiences, and that its theology is exactly as captured by him in a nutshell.  And that there can never be a good Jew who hews to his or her Judaism because of the nature of Judaism (according to Mark Braverman).  (And, thus, we can understand why, following that line of reasoning, there can never be a good person who loves Israel, no matter how Left-leaning, no matter if standing in front of bulldozers.)

Mark Braverman, although claiming to speak as a Jew, for Jews, is himself wielding anti-Judaism so as to weaken the consciences of susceptible Christians toward Jews, so as to tell those Christians their own prejudices--and behaviors based on them--are justified.  This is the vicious cycle of worsening attitudes toward Jews that I mentioned in Part II: He assigns Jews the role of "the other" for Christians, and the more they call the other evil, the worse treatment is required, and the worse the treatment, the greater the evil that must be assigned to justify it.

Of course, part of the confusion happens because Mark Braverman claims to be speaking as a Jew.  It may be for that very reason that activists are welcoming or recruiting Jews with views that are useful for such a movement.  If a Jew says these things, that's supposed to make it somehow okay.  Except that it is not okay.  Misinformation is misleading, and the advice is wrong--no matter who is talking.

With friends like that, one doesn't need enemies, but he is an example that can be instructive.  That's why I've spent so much time on him.  Speakers like Mark Braverman are aiming right into the blind spot of Christianity.  It is as though there were no further Christian exceptionalism and triumphalism, and as though Christianity were a perfected religion here on earth, whole and unified, with all its adherents themselves perfect and free of human motivation (e.g., conflict, fear, and desire for vindication).  Mark Braverman is telling Christians that they have been chosen to start taking over other religious groups.   He justifies that because, according to him, Christianity is a universal religion and Judaism is a tribal religion--a Christian rationalization possibly still accepted in some settings as valid theology--or because, despite his demurrals, he himself is now an adherent of Christianity who is subscribing directly to its anti-Judaism for reasons of his own.  Whatever, all is justified (according to him) because of the evil that is Israel.

Another useful aspect of Mark Braverman's message is that it elucidates the kind of theology underlying the anti-Israel movement in liberal mainline Christianity.  Although I've read other theologies and although theology underlies "Kairos 2009," for example, Mark Braverman has brought it front and center.

In saying "they"--Jews--were once abused but have now become abusers, we are not in liberal territory any longer.  That formulation is recognizable as a Ron Paul brand of libertarianism.  During the build-up to the presidential campaign, some liberal Christians of my acquaintance flirted with supporting a Ron Paul candidacy.  Trouble is, Ron Paul's approach is the same toward all the minorities, not just Jews.  Those acquaintances wanted to stand behind African-Americans, gays, immigrants, and so on.  They wanted to use the "you-were-abused-but-are-now-bullies" approach only toward Jews.  (As an aside, some liberals have wanted to go after the financial sector using anti-Jewish tropes, but were urged by others to keep the focus on Israel.)

Based on Mark Braverman's recommendations, I found myself wondering whether he has moved beyond libertarianism.

During Barack Obama's first presidential campaign, he got into hot water over the message of his church's pastor, Jeremiah Wright.  The possibility of negative attention to their own churches doesn't seem to trouble even the more antagonistically anti-Israel congregations.  They blithely invite speakers with messages like Braverman's into their churches or recommend attendance at similar lectures.  If there is any risk to the reputations of these churches or those individuals who make up the audiences, it is under the radar.  Pastors give their approval, and upstanding citizens of the community attend such talks without any sense of pressure--no concern, no sense that anyone could question or disapprove of what is going on.  Their consciences are quiescent on the matter of attendance at lectures proclaiming that Israel shouldn't exist, that they should work toward that end, and, in Braverman's case, even proclaiming Judaism as an immoral religion with which they should interfere.  It does not occur that they themselves could be making immoral decisions, and are not merely questioning those of others.  It's as though they don't know what they are doing and where they are headed.  The law of "good intentions" could apply.  Jonathan Haidt, writing in The Happiness Hypothesis, says that, contrary to popular opinion, most evil in the world stems neither from greed nor sadism.  No; according to him, it takes an idealist--a "true believer"--to get a real humanitarian disaster going.  Switch the figure and the ground, and organized mainline Christianity comes into focus with its large bully pulpit--its large potential for bullying and raising up hate.

When liberals hear about anti-Islam preaching and posturing, particularly in conservative churches, they tend to go ballistic in their condemnation.  Are those churches and groups agitating against Judaism and against the existence of Israel really any different?  If those involved--activists, speakers, and listeners--even give it a thought, it fails to activate the conscience, because they tell themselves in this case the people they are censuring deserve what they will get.  But everyone believes their own prejudices.

The problem is not "criticizing Israel."  Criticizing Israel is one thing.  Working to sink the country or to spread prejudice through Christian theological slanders of Judaism is something else.

At any rate, in this section I have pointed to theological underpinnings of the anti-Israel movement and to anti-Judaism growing within the mainline liberal religious community--examples that demonstrate the admixture of theology and politics.  Criticism can be understood as pointing to problems that need to be fixed.  Calling for the take-over of Judaism and/or the end of Israel as a Jewish state on the basis of newly tailored Christian theological beliefs are matters altogether different.

In the present case, it's as though the goal for some has become casting Rachel Corrie's death as a Christ-like sacrifice for the humiliation of Judaism.  The International Solidarity Movement decided the world was not giving the proper attention to the suffering of Palestinians but would give that attention to a Westerner.  From that angle, whatever the facts, the story line demanded that she receive an unjust trial.  The next question is whether the story line demands justice, as is claimed, or revenge.

The anti-Israel vendetta, along with the portrayal of Rachel Corrie as a martyr to the cause, raise issues of justice and revenge that I will be exploring in the next section.  One of the most disturbing aspects of the Rachel Corrie campaign is that its proponents bill it as a peace and justice movement.  My claim is that, instead of peace, it has the form of a movement whose aim is to assign blame and exact revenge. 


If I've painted with too broad a brushstroke and characterized all of liberal mainline Christianity as teaching anti-Judaism, I don't mean to do so.  Not everybody is supporting such teaching.  On the other hand, it is rare down here in the trenches to hear a voice raised to contradict what's going on in the liberal community. It certainly seems that, like racism on the Right, anti-Judaism is animating the liberal base, and no one, it seems, wants to mess with what works.  There are voices raised to deny "antisemitism," but few voices raised to confront the anti-Israel movement as it threatens to transform into active anti-Judaism.

Let me just mention in passing that the people whom I hear leading the anti-Israel charge for justice for Rachel Corrie heavily overlap those people who, when it came to Troy Davis, excoriated the McPhail family's desire for justice as bloodthirsty and misguided.  Troy Davis, too, had had a trial and a verdict that was rehashed in the public sphere.  When the people who are crying for justice for Rachel Corrie were looking at somebody other than their icon, they apparently saw issues of justice versus revenge differently.

In this third section I have looked at Rachel Corrie in the role of martyr and Christ-like figure viewed by one American contingent as having died for the sake of the Palestinians while standing up against a country that represents an evil outside of everyday evil and, as such, beyond comparison to the actions of other countries and nations that are committing much greater violence.  That formulation focuses attention on the question of whether her death demands a payment of blood in return, and, in fact, on the whole scandalous question of blood in scripture--even on blood spilled in redemption, and whether that blood demands a payment of further blood in return.  Those questions will be the subject of my long and winding midrash (Part IV).