A new Haggadah has just been published by SISO (“Save Israel – Stop the Occupation”). It is called the Jubilee Haggadah because it marks the 50th year since the 1967 War, a turning point in the history of the modern State of Israel that the writers and editors conjoin with the biblical Jubilee commandment – “You shall proclaim liberty throughout the land for all its inhabitants. It shall be a jubilee for you…” (Leviticus 25:10) – and with the celebration of Passover, the festival of liberty.
The Haggadah is part of a new initiative begun by prominent Israeli individuals and organizations in partnership with Jewish leaders around the world who believe that the prolonged Israeli military occupation poses a very real threat to Israel’s safety and well-being, and undermines the moral and democratic fabric of Israel and its standing in the community of nations. See SISO’s website – https://www.siso.org.il.
Critics will argue that this Haggadah does not provide adequate historical context nor, in the words of one of its contributors, Professor of Jewish History at Ben Gurion University Haviva Pedaya, a “political outline of how to bring about a solution” to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.
Dr. Pedaya acknowledges:
“Nor is one party alone guilty for the complex situation. In broad visions, the discussion about the concept of the victim and the subjugator is most complex. But those people who ate potato peels on Seder nights, who recited by heart the Haggadah in the concentration camps, like those people who ate the manna in the desert or those slaves whose children drowned in mortar and were built into the pyramids – those people come to us with the demand: turn the face of the brother to the other and to responsibility.”
So many Jews and lovers of the State of Israel have come to accept what seems to be a historical inevitability, that Israel will forever occupy another people. This Haggadah addresses the moral consequences of failing to advocate for the only solution that can best assure Israel’s Jewish and democratic character – a two-states for two peoples resolution of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.
SISO’s editor and publisher describe the Haggadah in these words:
“Thirty authors, artists, and thinkers from throughout the Jewish world have joined together — in commentary, song, and moral outcry — and proposed contemporary interpretations to the Haggadah.
From Amos Oz to Sarah Silverman, Achinoam Nini to Leon Wieseltier, Anat Hoffman to Carol Gilligan, in this fiftieth year, we are proclaiming liberty throughout this land for all its inhabitants.
The Haggadah is edited by Dr. Tomer Persico. The texts are rich, nuanced and diverse, and together with the original artwork and design (by leading Israeli graphic designer Michal Sahar) make this a beautiful work that invites reflection and conversation.
I am honored to be among the thirty contributors (page 4 – item 1). I offer a few commentaries to evoke the spirit of this Haggadah. The entire text that can be downloaded at nif.org/sisohaggadah:
“We were not born to be people of masters… We are condemned now to rule people who did not want to be ruled by us… The shorter the occupation lasts, the better for us, because an occupation is inevitably a corrupting occupation, and even a liberal and human occupation. I have fears about the kind of seeds we will sow in the near future in the hearts of the occupied. Even more, I have fears about the seeds that will be implanted in the hearts of the occupiers…” (Amos Oz – Davar, August 22, 1967)
“We must care for each other. We must see each other clearly… as equal under God … We must recognize each other’s humanity, aspirations, rights, emotions … at the end of the day, the only way to be saved by God from whatever ‘Egypt’ is enslaving you, is to love your neighbor as you love yourself.” (Achinoam Nini – Noa – Israeli singer and peace activist)
“Now that we have returned to the land by the grace of God, and are privileged to move through all of the land of Israel and to settle in it, we have to protect ourselves and to safeguard our security – but not to base our existence on life by the sword. We are tested by our ability not to rule another people by ‘force,’ but to live here by ‘My spirit.’ In other words, to build a model society. If in Egypt we became foreigners who were denied all rights to existence, liberty, and the land, and in this lay the root of our subjugation, we must not do to others what we ourselves hate. The Palestinian people that lives among us also needs its land, its existence, and its liberty…. Only through a brave conjoining of all the children of Abraham who dwell in this land will God’s blessing to our forefather Abraham, and ‘all of the nations of the earth shall be blessed in him’ come true for us.” (Rabbi Michael Melchior, Jerusalem thinker, activist and former Israeli government minister)
“Of all people, Jews know the bitterness of being oppressed – and not being in our own country. That’s what makes the occupation so ironic. Sometimes it’s hard to tell the difference between right and wrong, the situation is complicated and scary, but I’m guessing oppression will always prove to be on the wrong side of history.” (Sarah Silverman, comedian, and actress)
“The quarrel between Israel and Palestine has been a bleeding wound for decades, a wound that is hemorrhaging and is full of pus. You can’t keep waving a big stick and beating a bleeding wound again and again so as to scare it and make it finally stop being a wound and finally stop bleeding. A wound has to be healed. And there’s a way to gradually heal this wound.” (Amos Oz, January 2017)
I recommend downloading the entire Haggadah and using whatever commentaries you choose during the course of your own Seder.