Shalom Life | October 12, 2014

anti-Israel Rabbi Quits Congregation

Pro-Palestinian rabbi Brant Rosen, a reconstructionist leader and outspoken critic of Israel, has resigned his pulpit

By: Daniel Koren

Published: September 9th, 2014 in News » World

anti-Israel Rabbi Quits Congregation

Rabbi Brant Rosen of the Jewish Reconstructionist Congregation in Evanston, Illinois has resigned from his position at the pulpit after his staunch criticism of Israel became too much to bare for his fellow congregants, reports the JTA.

The rabbi, who is known to harbor a pro-Palestinian stance, has held his position as leader of the congregation for the past seventeen years. He's also the founder and co-chair of the rabbinical council of Jewish Voice for Peace, an organization that promotes the rising BDS movement against Israel.

It's been listed as one of the top anti-Israel organizations in the U.S. by the Anti-Defamation League.

According to Rosen, his congregation did not insist that he resign, and his decision was based by the ongoing disagreements he had with his peers.

“It’s become clear to me very recently that the atmosphere in the congregation is becoming more divisive,” Rosen said in an interview with the JTA. “It’s clear that I am the lightning rod for that division, so I made the decision about 10 days ago to step down.”

Rosen, and the organization he's founded, has been under increased scrutiny since the outset of Operation Protective Edge, during which they supported the calls to boycott Israel, joined fellow anti-Israel crusaders in condemning the Jewish state's "war crimes" against Gaza, and, unfortunately, giving momentum to a growing trend among anti-Israel Jews who have stood by the slogan "not in our name."

Many of us pro-Israel Jews have since felt ostracized by these anti-Zionist Jews in our community. As Ben Cohen, contributor to the Wall Street Journal, Haaretz, and others, put it in a recent op-ed, Jewish Voice for Peace "are, quite simply, the enemy, and we must guard against them.

"They have embraced anti-Zionist eliminationism in the name of Judaism. For that reason, while I still—just about—believe that peace between Israel and the Palestinians is possible, I cannot envisage making peace with the Jewish haters of Israel," Cohen wrote.

Cohen may appear to be harsh here, but a quick history lesson of Rosen's actions leading up to resigning will surely justify his tone.

In 2008, Rosen was vocal about his criticism of Israel and his strong support of Palestinians on his blog, Shalom Rav.

“We good liberal Jews are ready to protest oppression and human-rights abuse anywhere in the world, but are all too willing to give Israel a pass,” he wrote. “What Israel has been doing to the people of Gaza is an outrage.”

Soon after, he founded the rabbinical council of Jewish Voice for Peace.

While Rosen attempted to keep his anti-Israel agenda and his role as rabbi of the Illinois congregation separate, members began to feel conflicted by his views, which would spawn several arguments between them. Eventually, several members would leave as a result of Rosen's stance.

Rosen will remain with the Jewish Reconstructionist Congregation in Evanston for another six months, before he takes his career as an activist more seriously. Let's hope it doesn't go well.

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