As we approach this holiest of days in the Hebrew calendar it is appropriate that we of Rabbis For Human Rights also take the time to consider where we have sinned and gone astray and how we can reconnect to G-d in our work, and through that to our basic humanity. It is this connection to the Divine that is the root of our commitment to pursue justice for all, the rule of law and the pursuit of peace. It is our strongest response to those whose Torah is grounded in exclusion, and even in hatred, or who have no “fear of G-d”.The writer isn't asking for forgiveness for baseless hatred of their political opponents. They are asking "forgiveness" for petty infighting instead of demonizing right-wing Jews more than they already are.
We have not done enough to end injustice here, nor have we been free ourselves of the sins of “small-mindedness,” gossip, egocentricity and turf wars. The community of human-rights and peace NGOs in this country (there are one hundred!) suffers greatly from these sins and from a lack of humility and unity. Our opponents in the current Israeli government (and the many well-financed right-wing organizations working to delegitimize us) want to silence our justified criticism of the abuses of the occupation and of the many social injustices ignored by an Israeli ruling elite that lacks compassion or empathy for the weak and disadvantaged. The government and its supporters exploit our weaknesses continuously. They have little respect for the rabbinic notion of dialogue, or basic democratic norms.
(It's also funny that those who do everythign they can to delegitimize the democratically elected Israeli government claims that the other side has little respect for democratic norms.)
In contrast, another leftist Jewish organization, T'Ruah, actually does ask forgiveness for demonizing their political opponents.
Yes – we should speak out and speak up. Yes – we should live and teach our moral and ethical traditions and apply them to the world we live in. However, we must do it without creating more enemies. We must declare that Black Lives Matter, without writing off all law enforcement. We must strive for women’s equality and fair pay, without acting as though all opponents are misogynists. We must advocate for ending income inequality, without assuming the 1% are all greedy and selfish. We must try to make political change, without demonizing those who vote differently.Al chet sh’chatanu l’fanecha, for the sin we have committed against you, for harboring hatred in our heart.Al chet sh’chatanu l’fanecha, for the sin we have committed against you, of righteous indignation.Al chet sh’chatanu l’fanecha, for the sin we have committed against you, when we invoke your name for partisan gains.Al chet sh’chatanu l’fanecha, for the sin we have committed against you, for seeing the world as ‘us’ and ‘them.’This year may we have the courage to speak and to listen, to use our prophetic voice and to pursue justice with hearts full of love rather than hate.I disagree passionately with this rabbi politically but at least she says she wants unity and to stop baseless hatred - unlike Rabbis for Human Rights who want to fan the flames of hate.