Assertive Nonviolence in Judaism

Establishing a new program of Jewish resistance.

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Most of these campaigns and struggles have drawn explicitly on Jewish ceremony and Jewish practices. For that reason, they did not have to choose between being "Jewish" and being "universal," they did not even have to "balance" being "Jewish" and being "universal."

In the very depth of their being, they were simultaneously and organically both Jewish and universal. Putting energy into them did not draw Jews away from their Jewish heritage in order to heal the wounded world; it actually deepened their Jewish knowledge and experience.

Nor did these actions pull people into Jewish tribalism at the expense of lost concern for the others endangered on this planet. Like a hologram, like the presence of DNA in every cell of the body, they taught that the whole is fully present in each part. The highest good of each community and the highest good of the planet as a whole are enwrapped within each other. That is why we call this new Jewish form of assertive nonviolent civil disobedience "tikkun olam," the healing of the world.

The model that Waskow develops is universal, though its application to the political situation in Israel reflects his personal politics. It should also be noted that many of the Soviet resisters he mentions were in fact punished and imprisoned for their dissident activities.

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Rabbi Arthur O. Waskow

Rabbi Arthur Ocean Waskow directs the Shalom Center and is the author of numerous books, including Godwrestling, Godwrestling--Round 2, Seasons of Our Joy, The Bush is Burning, and These Holy Sparks.