Friday, January 27, 2012


                                                            By Gulamhusein Abba

“The conflict is due to Jewish nationalism- Zionism, which pre-dates  the holocaust ….. my relatives who were murdered by the Nazis did not die to give cover to Zionist crimes in Palestine, and did not die to give him (Lerner) his ridiculous argument” ….Rich Siegel 

Rabbi Michael Lerner's book discussion event on January 22 for his new book, "Embracing Israel/Palestine” went horribly wrong when it took a completely unexpected and shocking turn near the end.
Sponsored by Riverside Church Israel/PalestineTask Force, and Co-Sponsored by: Brooklyn For Peace, Jewish Voice For Peace,Tree of Life Education Fund, NY, Friends of Sabeel, North America, NY, and  The Israeli Committee Against House Demolitions, USA, it was meant to be a dialogue between Rabbi Lerner and David Wildman, with a Special appearance by  Rich Siegel, a former Zionist turned a peace activist, singing songs from his new CD “The Way to Peace”.  
Everything went smoothly as planned. Rich sang one of his songs. Rabbi Lerner and David Wildman discussed the book and the opics it dealt with. 
 Rich Siegel
Wildman, fhe executive secretary for Human Rights & Racial Justice with the United Methodist Church's General Board of Global Ministries, very well versed on the subject, interviewed Rabbi Lerner,

Lerner talked about the conflict being due to two traumatized people, the Jews traumatized by the holocaust, the Arabs traumatized by colonialism. He also mentioned Arab intolerance of Zionist settlement.
 After the discussion Rich was scheduled to sing another song. He stepped up to do so. This is where things changed dramatically. 
 Rich, to everyone’s surprise, launched into an unscheduled impromptu speech of his own. 
According to Rich, Rabbi Lerner is basically an apologist for Zionism pretending to be a peace activist. In his mini speech, Rich called Lerner on his “ridiculous” claims and stated firmly that the conflict in Palestine is due solely to Jewish nationalism, Zionism, which, he pointed out, predates the holocaust. 
Becoming emotional, he said that his relatives, who were murdered by the Nazis, did not die to give cover to Zionist crimes in Palestine, and did not die to give Lerner his “ridiculous” argument. 
According to reports, Lerner wanted to walk out but Wildman encouraged him to stay, and he did- through Rich’s speech and his song afterwards. 
The whole program was videotaped. The organizers of the event and/or the videographer should put it on the internet. It would make instructive and interesting viewing. 

Rabbi Michael Lerner is editor of Tikkun Magazine, considered to be one of the most respected intellectual/cultural but also the most controversial magazines in the Jewish world.
He is chair of the interfaith Network of Spiritual Progressives, rabbi of Beyt Tikkun synagogue in Berkeley, Ca. and author of eleven books, most recently the national best-seller The Left Hand of God: Taking Back our Country From the Religious Right.

David Wildman is the executive secretary for Human Rights & Racial Justice with the United Methodist Church's General Board of Global Ministries He visits Afghanistan and the Middle East regularly, serves on the board of the National Farm Worker Ministry and is active in corporate accountability work with the Interfaith Center on Corporate Responsibility. 

Rich Siege, an accomplished pianist/vocalist/songwriter, He was brought up in a conservative Zionist family but, after educating himself about the history of Zionism, the events that lead to the establishment of Israel and the policy and actions of the Israeli government towards the Palestinians, became a peace activist speaking  out for justice to the Palestinians.
 He has made a very emotional video about the Children dying in Palestine. In it he mentions some of the myths that Zionists repeat ad nauseum . In the original CD, after the song  Rich and his fellow song-writer Dave Lippman speak their feelings about what is happening in Palestine and what justice demands. Rich makes out a cogent case for a single secular state solution where the Jews, Christians and Muslims live amicably together.

These can be seen on two separate videos on the YouTube at
And at  

Rich carries out his activism through music, singing in bars, at peace events and other gatherings. 
He has just released a new CD “The Way to Peace”, featuring Gilad Atzmon (woodwinds), Eugene Moye (cello), Gary Ciuci (guitar), Cameron Brown (bass), and Anthony Pinciotti (drums). This CD features vocals in English, Spanish, Arabic, and Hebrew and features a new cello arrangement of “In Palestine.”  

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