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Rabbi Michael M. Cohen
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Rabbi Michael M. Cohen teaches conflict resolution at Bennington College and is the author of Einstein's Rabbi: A Tale of Science and the Soul.

He is also the Rabbi Emeritus of the Israel Congregation in Manchester Center, Vermont. He was the first permanent rabbi in the Congregation's history. A long time environmental activist, he co-founded the first recycling center in Ewing, N.J., in 1976 while in high school. He served as President of the Reconstructionist Rabbinical Association and co-founded the Green Zionist Alliance. Since 1996 he has divided his time between Vermont and Arava Institute for Environmental Stidies Kibbutz Ketura campus. His views expressed in his blogs are his own and do not necessarily represent the view of any organization he is affiliated with.

He is the author of numerous articles on religion, the Middle East Peace Process, politics and the environment

Entries by Rabbi Michael M. Cohen

An Intractable Conflict with No Solution?

(0) Comments | Posted February 9, 2016 | 4:22 PM

World War I lasted four years. World War II lasted six. The Cold War lasted 44. The Israeli-Palestinian conflict has lasted more than a century, beginning in the decades before WWI. The growing sentiment is that it is an intractable conflict with no solution. The Obama administration is signaling after...

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Untying the Palestinian Israeli Knot

(1) Comments | Posted December 28, 2015 | 11:40 AM

The intractable century long conflict between the Israelis and Palestinians reads like "Knots" by R.D. Laing:

The situation on the ground needs to improve
The violence is caused because the situation on the ground has not improved
The situation on the ground will not improve until the violence...

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Arab Lives Matter, Jewish Lives Matter -- Part 2

(3) Comments | Posted November 12, 2015 | 1:11 PM

After over a 100 years this conflict is still defined by its original clash of two narratives. For Israelis, the Zionist endeavor is a homecoming after 2,000 years of exile. In their understanding they were able to find ways to hold onto a national identity, via a portable religion, that...

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Arab Lives Matter, Jewish Lives Matter -- Part 1

(0) Comments | Posted November 12, 2015 | 1:07 PM

Not long ago my wife and I attended a concert which featured the music of the folksinger and political activist Pete Seeger. A palpable magic transcended and unified the audience in the room, echoing the words and message of Seeger. During Seeger's career the words on his banjo were, "This...

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Two States: A Solution

(0) Comments | Posted July 16, 2015 | 3:02 PM

The stone engraver has taken his place in front of the two-state solution gravestone ready to carve the dates for an idea that in the end was still born. The dates carved will be July 7, 1937 - January 20, 2017. We tend to think the two-state solution as a...

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Israel and Her Minorities

(0) Comments | Posted March 23, 2015 | 2:37 PM

A spectre is haunting Europe -- the spectre of growing anti-Jewish activities. Within that landscape disturbing events build upon disturbing events. In one recent political debate, a French politician said to her Jewish challenger, originally from Russia, "Why are you even here, you belong in Moscow or St. Petersberg. You...

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If Bernie Sanders Runs for President He Should Run as a Republican

(2) Comments | Posted March 8, 2015 | 1:00 PM

In a year the United States we will be in the midst of the 2016 primary season. On the Democratic side it appears Hillary Clinton has a lock on the nomination. Massachusetts Senator Elizabeth Warren announced she will not run, and while Vice-President Joe Biden has not ruled out a...

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Bibi, Moses, and Churchill

(2) Comments | Posted February 19, 2015 | 1:17 PM

Moshe Rabeynu, Moses our teacher, taught by word and deed. His actions could be described as audacious, courageous, and bold. Those same adjectives can also be applied to Benjamin Netanyahu. Moses was also described as, "a very humble man, more humble than anyone else on the face of the earth."...

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What Would RFK Say Today About the Arab-Israeli Conflict?

(0) Comments | Posted February 3, 2015 | 6:06 PM

Of the thousands of lives that have been lost in the Arab-Israeli Conflict one of the most famous is one that is usually not associated with the century old conflict. Robert F. Kennedy. RFK was assassinated by Sirhan Sirhan because of Kennedy's strong support of Israel. Later this year Kennedy...

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Defuse the 'Religion Bomb'

(0) Comments | Posted January 15, 2015 | 1:44 PM

In response to the Paris attacks former Vermont Governor and presidential candidate Howard Dean said, "This is a chronic problem. I stopped calling these people Muslim terrorists. They're about as Muslim as I am. I mean, they have no respect for anybody else's life, that's not what the Koran says....

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Maps and Conflict

(0) Comments | Posted January 12, 2015 | 7:42 PM

During the Middle Ages maps of the world often placed Jerusalem at the center. This was based on the vulgate, the Latin, translation of Ezekiel 5:5 which Jerome understood to mean Jerusalem as terrae umbilicus, the "navel of the earth." While Jerusalem is no longer placed at the center of...

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Jacob and Esau: Lessons for Israelis and Palestinians Today

(0) Comments | Posted January 8, 2015 | 5:19 PM

The opening paragraph of the Israeli Declaration of Independence not only references the connection of Jewish people to the Land of Israel but notes that out of Zion the world was given "the eternal Book of Books." A book remains eternal for a number of reasons. When it comes to...

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Why a Palestinian State Is Essential

(30) Comments | Posted October 27, 2014 | 4:07 PM

U.S. President Barack Obama and Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu tried during the prime minister's last visit to the White House to recalibrate their relationship.

The rapidly changing face of the Middle East was one factor.

In addition, their awareness of the eventual setting sun on their respective political careers should...

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Israelis and Palestinians Fight: Don't Forget Jordan

(0) Comments | Posted July 11, 2014 | 7:06 PM

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas don't trust each other and they don't like each other. That may be the case, but they both need to put aside those differences and act soon. Violence has erupted again between Palestinians and Israelis threatening to reach a new...

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Obama's Peace Assets in the Middle East

(5) Comments | Posted July 22, 2013 | 3:34 PM

Conventional wisdom says this is not the time to forge a peace agreement between Israel and the Palestinians. Conventional wisdom also says we have passed midnight for a two state solution; unconventional wisdom says clocks can be pushed back.

Since the start of the President Barack Obama's second term, the...

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Thanksgiving and Hanukkah: Celebrating Religious Freedom

(4) Comments | Posted November 21, 2012 | 4:24 PM

This piece first appeared in Jerusalem Post on Nov. 21, 2012.

Thanksgiving in the United States is the quintessential American holiday. The smells of the turkey cooking in the oven, cranberry sauce, pumpkin pie and apple pie fill American homes as families gather to be...

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Interfaith Work and the Middle East

(7) Comments | Posted October 30, 2012 | 12:51 PM

I am sitting in the synagogue of Kibbutz Ketura. To my right is a Palestinian asking me questions about Judaism, and to my left is an Israeli trying to figure out what Judaism means for her. I can't think of a better place where I would want to be, or...

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The Lawnmower

(2) Comments | Posted October 17, 2012 | 2:57 PM

About five years ago I traded my gasoline lawnmower for a battery-powered lawnmower made here in Vermont by the Neuton Company of Vergennes. I like that it's one-fourth quieter than my former lawnmower, but I especially like that it's much better for the environment.

Decades ago, while a student...

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Turning Weakness Into Strength: A Biblical and Olympic Lesson

(0) Comments | Posted August 30, 2012 | 12:09 PM

With Labor Day approaching we sense the end of summer fast approaching and the smells and colors of fall beginning to appear, announcing the end of one season and the beginning of another. As with most transition moments we often pause and think where we have been and where we...

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Opening Our Lives to the Holy

(0) Comments | Posted April 20, 2012 | 11:20 AM

The counting of the Omer is an exercise in opening our lives to the holy in what we do. This task is not limited to the Omer period, but everyday throughout the year.

We count the Omer from Passover to Shavuot, the holiday that celebrates the giving of the Torah....

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