5-Oct-2001  News  National News
Rabbi questions 'solidarity'
Simon Rocker
A leading Liberal rabbi has called Israel "the last colonial power in the world," saying it "has long since vacated the moral high ground."
In his Kol Nidre sermon at St John's Wood Liberal Synagogue, Rabbi David Goldberg argued that Israel's policies made diaspora support "conditional" for many Jews.
He questioned suggestions the Palestinians alone were to blame for the collapse of the Middle East peace talks.
Believing that prospects for peace were now "grim," the rabbi added: "Anyone who seriously believes that [Ariel] Sharon and a Likud government will willingly cede an inch of Judea and Samaria... such a person must also imagine that the present Pope is a Jew who will sanction birth control and married priests."
He said many Jews now faced a "crisis of conscience" at a "pivotal moment in Israeli-diaspora affairs," when "we are going to be called upon to show solidarity with a threatened Israel."
Some would say the time had come for Judaism and Zionism to go their "separate ways," he declared.
Citing a US official who had been present at last year's Camp David peace talks, he maintained that Israel's offer had not been as generous as generally portrayed. While criticising the Palestinians for having "resorted to violence," he noted that settlement-building had increased under then-Prime Minister Ehud Barak.
"All of us, I hope, strongly defend Israel's right to exist within secure and internationally recognised borders," he said. "But we also know that Israel continues to be a colonial power on another people's land.
"It still occupies the land, but has long since vacated the moral high ground. That makes our support conditional and causes a crisis of conscience for many Jews."