Brian Walt, rabbi emeritus of Congregation Mishkan Shalom in Philadelphia, former executive director of Rabbis for Human Rights-North America and co-founder of Taanit Tzedek-Jewish Fast for Gaza, writes in Tikkun:
For most of my life I have been a liberal Zionist. Since childhood my Judaism had always been connected with a progressive Zionism.
In 1987, I delivered a Yom Kippur sermon, “A Generation of Occupation,” about the corrosive moral effects of twenty years of Occupation on Jews and Judaism. This sermon cost me my first position as a congregational rabbi. Back then, as a liberal Zionist, I saw the injustice to Palestinians within Israel and under Occupation as moral perversions of the progressive Zionist vision — “warts” that needed correction.
Over the twenty-three years since then, I have seen many disturbing instances of blatant discrimination against Palestinians and my view has fundamentally changed. I have seen a Palestinian home being demolished and have stood on the demolished ruins of Palestinian homes. I have walked down streets restricted to Jews in what was once a bustling Palestinian neighborhood. I have replanted trees uprooted by settlers knowing they would be uprooted again. These and many more disturbing personal encounters with discrimination led me to the painful understanding that political Zionism, at its core, is a discriminatory ethnic nationalism that privileges the rights of Jews over non-Jews.
I once was a liberal Zionist, but now I see myself as a religious American Jew in solidarity with justice for the Palestinian people. Israel’s security and our liberation as Jews are both tied to justice for the Palestinians.