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Barack Mandela
Attorney, Veteran, and Philosopher

Jewish Liberation Theology: A Revolutionary Faith

Barack Mandela, founder of Jewish Liberation Theology, visiting Bir Zeit University. (Personal Collection)

Liberation Judaism or Jewish Liberation Theology is a new Jewish theological approach emphasizing the liberation of the oppressed. It is concerned with the liberation of oppressed peoples around the world.

Within the Christian context, liberation theology is best known within Latin America. Theologians such as Gustavo Gutierrez of Peru have advanced the cause of socio-economic empowerment of impoverished peoples.

In creating this new theology, I was particularly inspired by Gustavo Gutierrez, a Catholic theologian and Dominican priest, who is one of the founders of Latin American liberation theology.

Born in 1928, Gutierrez studied literature and medicine, before focusing his theology on the “preferential option for the poor”. In summary, Gutierrez believes the grace of God favors the poor and the Kingdom of God on Earth favors empowerment of poor, oppressed, and marginalized peoples. He asks the question: “How do we convey to the poor that God loves them?”

It is important for Jewish Liberation Theology to operate within Jewish theology, Jewish values, and Jewish history. Moreover, it must consider the painful history of antisemitism and the Holocaust. In short, Jewish Liberation Theology must be a ‘Jewish’ movement.

The ‘Jewish’ nature of this new liberation theology is based on Torah (Bible), Siddur (Prayerbook), Halakha (Rabbinical Law), and the historical traditions of the Jewish People. Moreover, Jewish Liberation Theology must be inclusive of all major denominations of Judaism.

Within the Jewish and Israeli contexts, Jewish Liberation Theology must contain a “preferential option for Palestinians”. This new approach is based on principles of grace and mercy for Palestinians without endangering the security of the State of Israel.

As the founder of Jewish Liberation Theology, I have ‘security credibility’ because I served in the Israel Defense Forces (IDF) during the Second Intifada in the 7th Brigade of the Armored Division where I drove the Merkava battle tank. I served in the same unit as Israel’s foremost war hero, Avigdor Kahalani.

Since I was a combat soldier and fighter during war, I am perfectly qualified to transform Israel’s “war cry” into a “cry for peace” and “cry for justice”.

To advance Jewish Liberation Theology, I call for the creation of a series of forums called “Conferences on Jewish Liberation Theology” at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, Bar Ilan University, University of Haifa, Ben Gurion University of the Negev, Reichman University, Tel Aviv University, and Brandeis University in the United States.

Moreover, I call for Palestinian leader and activist, Hanan Ashrawi, to be invited to the conferences to provide a ‘perspective of peace’. Ashrawi is distinguished scholar who was an official spokesperson of the Palestinian delegation during the peace process.

Jewish Liberation Theology is focused on empowering poor people throughout the world—not only in the Israeli-Palestinian contact. As such, this new theology aligns itself with indigenous rights, black rights, women’s rights, worker’s rights, and LGBTQAI equality.

To advance the cause of this new approach, I ask for support from: Rabbi David Wolpe of Sinai Temple, Mark Zuckerberg co-founder of Facebook, Ronald Lauder president of the World Jewish Congress, Jonathan Greenblatt CEO of the Anti-Defamation League, Deborah Lipstadt special envoy for monitoring and combatting anti-Semitism, and Ronald D. Liebowitz president of Brandeis University. I also ask the Jewish rapper, Drake, to support this cause for justice.

Our Jewish community is known for fighting for social justice and empowerment of marginalized people. In addition, our community is known for its generosity in philanthropic and charitable giving. Therefore, I call upon the Jewish community to help me establish and fund an organization called “Jewish Liberation Theology Initiative”.

As both a soldier and human rights attorney, I have learned that a head without a heart is not humanity. Mercy and compassion must be married to our intellect. Instead of thinking solely with our brains, we must learn to think with our hearts and souls.

This is about a whole new way of thinking; an expansion of the mind to see the world in a different way. My goal is to save the world with revolutionary compassion and deep love.

Jewish Liberation Theology will save the soul of the Jewish People while empowering impoverished and marginalized people throughout our world.

About the Author
Licensed Attorney. I earned a Doctor of Law at the University of California, Hastings College of the Law (1997). I earned a Bachelor of Arts from the University of California, Riverside (1994). I was an international student at the University of Costa Rica Faculty of Law (1991-1992) and the Hebrew University of Jerusalem Faculty of Law (Summer 1996). I am a military veteran of the United States Air Force, United States Army, and the Israel Defense Forces (IDF). I am a laureate of the National Defense Service Medal from the Pentagon (2006). I am a financial donor to following: Harvard Law, Yale Law, Stanford Law, Berkeley Law, UC Hastings College of the Law, UC Davis Law, Columbine High School, Choate Rosemary Hall, Phillips Exeter Academy, Sidwell Friends School, Viewpoint School, Beverly Hills High School, Eton College in the United Kingdom, Special Olympics, Children's Defense Fund, Obama Foundation, Clinton Foundation, Barbra Streisand Foundation, Princeton University, Florida A&M, Howard University, Spelman College, Morehouse College, and the British Red Cross. I am former special assistant and staff attorney to Governor Pete Wilson of California. I was public affairs assistant to US Senator Barbara Boxer and Mayor Ehud Olmert of Jerusalem and Jerusalem spokesperson Haggai Elias. I am a member of the John F. Kennedy Presidential Library and Museum, and I am a member of the Republican Jewish Coalition.
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