Rabbi Michael Lerner & 9/11 Skepticism

A 9/11 Gov’t Conspiracy? ‘I Wouldn’t Be Surprised,’ Says Tikkun Editor

Daniel Treiman | Tue. Feb 06, 2007

Rabbi Michael Lerner, the longtime activist and editor of Tikkun magazine, has published an essay saying he is open to the possibility that the American government may have been behind the September 11 terrorist attacks.

“I would not be surprised to learn that some branch of our government conspired either actively to promote or passively to allow the attack on 9/11,” Lerner wrote in an essay published in the new book, “9/11 and American Empire: Christians, Jews, and Muslims Speak Out.” Lerner added that he would also not be surprised if it turned out that the attacks were not the result of a government conspiracy.

“I am agnostic on the question of what happened on 9/11,” he wrote in his essay for the book, which includes articles by other contributors arguing that a government conspiracy was behind the September 11 attacks. “As other authors in this collection have shown, there are huge holes in the official story and contradictions that suggest that we do not know the whole story.”

Contacted by the Forward, Lerner repeatedly insisted that he was, in fact, “skeptical” — a word that did not appear in his essay — toward claims advanced by the book’s other contributors of a government conspiracy.

“I’m skeptical about this material, and I wrote this essay with a clear element of skepticism,” he said. “It was clear in my head that I was being very skeptical about what they were saying.”

Lerner, the founder of Tikkun and the newly formed Network of Spiritual Progressives, is arguably the most prominent contributor to “9/11 and American Empire.” In the 1990s he gained national attention after a meeting with then-first lady Hillary Clinton, during which they discussed his ideas about the need for a new “politics of meaning.” Since then, he has emerged as a leader of efforts to reconcile left-wing politics and religious belief, calling for a “Spiritual Covenant” to transform America.

The Berkeley, Calif.-based Renewal rabbi occupies a distinctive niche on the political landscape, keeping one foot planted in the Jewish community and the other in the world of left-wing activism. Maintaining credibility in both milieus has involved a delicate balancing act. Lerner, for instance, has been an outspoken critic of Israeli policies, but he also has firmly defended Israel’s right to exist. Recently, Lerner sent an e-mail to supporters saying that he had recently spoken on the phone with former president Jimmy Carter in an effort to build support for a left-wing pro-Israel lobby to take on more hawkish elements in the Jewish community.

The book in which Lerner’s essay appears is billed as having been “inspired by” David Ray Griffin’s “The New Pearl Harbor,” a seminal text of the so-called “9/11 Truth” movement. The new book includes an essay by Griffin in which he makes the case that the September 11 attacks were likely “orchestrated, like many previous false-flag attacks, by U.S. agents as a pretext for a war to expand the American empire.”

In his own essay for “9/11 and American Empire,” Lerner wrote: “For those who watched the reactionary political uses made of this tragedy, it’s easy to conjure up a variety of possible conspiratorial motives that would have led the president, the vice president, or some branch of the armed forces or CIA or FBI or other ‘security’ forces to have passively or actively participated in a plot to re-credit militarism and war. We’ve learned enough about the subsequent ways that the Bush administration lied to the American public to no longer be shocked if there had been some active involvement by them in these deeds.”

But, Lerner immediately added, “Neither would I be surprised if, when all the archives were opened and all the communications revealed, it turned out that there was some other non-conspiratorial explanation for elements of the story that currently seem to make no sense.”

Lerner told the Forward that he has good reason to be suspicious of the government.

“I’ve had a lot of personal experience of government lying and doing things that are very destructive and pretending that they weren’t doing it,” Lerner said. “I was part of antiwar demonstrations in which violence was done and the violence later turned out was being done by police agents. I had that personal experience…. After that, nothing surprises me about what this government would do to achieve what its perceived ends are. Nothing would surprise me. That doesn’t mean I believe it. That doesn’t mean that I believe that that’s actually happening right now.”

In his essay, Lerner argued that searching for conspiracies — “even when there are real conspiracies” — tends not to be politically useful. He wrote that focusing on conspiracy theories wrongly leads people to believe that “the major problems we face are those generated by evil people in powerful positions, not on something more systemic.” Lerner wrote that September 11 conspiracy theorists should work to create a “Spiritual Covenant” to heal American society.

Still, his essay offered words of encouragement to those who are engaged in such theorizing.

“I salute the people in this collection of articles who are doing an amazing job of examining what may prove to be one of the most perverse conspiracies in the history of democratic governments,” Lerner wrote.

Asked about this passage, Lerner responded, “It says ‘may.’ This is very tentative. It’s not like what I believe to be.” He added: “This is like a bone thrown to them to say, ‘Well, sure, keep up the good work, go and investigate.’ I don’t feel that this investigation is going to lead anyplace, but it might, and if it does, I don’t think that it’s going to produce a conspiracy of the president and the vice president…. I would be surprised if that turned out to be true. So maybe I shouldn’t say, as I said before, ‘I wouldn’t be surprised.’ I guess I would be a little surprised.”

Lerner said that Tikkun is planning to publish an article by Griffin in its March issue, which would be accompanied by “a little note saying if you go to our Web site, you’ll see why we don’t agree with this.” Although he says he does not agree with all of Griffin’s conclusions, Lerner said that Griffin — who has suggested that the Twin Towers were brought down by “controlled demolition” — draws attention to important unexplained facts about the attacks.

While Lerner is willing — if only skeptically — to entertain those who posit a plot by the American government, he has no such indulgence for another popular conspiracy theory, namely that Israel was behind the September 11 attacks. He said that whereas the Bush administration benefited politically from the attacks, and thus had a “plausible motivation,” Israel had no such interest in seeing the attacks occur.

“Anything about Israel and the relationship to 9/11,” Lerner said, “I think is total baloney.”

You bastage...

I was just about to post this. :)

"So where is the oil going to come from?... The Middle East, with two-thirds of the world's oil and the lowest cost, is still where the prize ultimately lies."

Richard Cheney - Chief Executive Of Halliburton

I just tried to.


Since it probably won't be posted on my blog, let me just say I think the fact that Griffin has an article in the March issue of Tikkun is marginally good news for those looking to chip away at left-progressive resistance to 9/11 Truth.

Given the recent attempts

to smear this movement with labels of anti-semitism, we need to make as much hay out of this as possible.

I'm willing to overlook....

....the last 2 paragraphs....for the bigger picture of what Rabbi Lerner says here...

.....for now....


His comment at the end will, of course, bring out the trolls; but consider his audience in this publication, first, and then consider the possibility that he is right. It doesn't matter, though, because his overall position is one of agnosticism, which is what all of us should adhere to until more is known.

Bottom line: He encourages more investigation, and he doesn't think the official story is coherent. Good enough.

Rabbi Lerner's questioning of the OV...

....is to be lauded and appreciated....and I thank him for that...

Still, the out-of-hand dismissal of Israeli involvement or cui bono (given the evidence) regarding 9/11, while not surprising and almost understandable in this case, still strikes me as gatekeeping....

Sorry for the "rant".....

(And I say that with all due respect for simuvac's posts here....and I'd feel the same way if American or British interests' involvement/subsequent benefits were equally "off-limits" or taboo...)

I'm just tired of


..."Israel had no such interest in seeing the attacks occur."
“Anything about Israel and the relationship to 9/11,” Lerner said, “I think is total baloney.”

then what did this mean...
On the day of the 9-11 attacks, former Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu was asked what the attacks would mean for US-Israeli relations. His quick reply was: "It's very good…….Well, it's not good, but it will generate immediate sympathy (for Israel)"

do your homework, sir. here's a great starting point.

here we go...

Look, everyone here understands that his comments at the end are dubious at best. Consider his audience. Then consider that we don't have to open up this never ending harangue about Israeli complicity every time the words "Israel" or "Jew" appear in a 9/11 story.

Maybe Israel was involved. Maybe they even benefited from 9/11. It doesn't matter (for now). First, prove the official story is wrong. That's all we have to do. Prove the negative.


You did a comprehensive analysis of who would benefit most from these attacks..... Israel would be near the top.

We have some evidence which could point to their involvement but it definitely needs to be investigated.

In the end.... when the truth surfaces.... all governments will be under the microscope and that's exactly what the world needs.

Because it is False Flag Terrorism which must stop.... if peace will ever succeed.

FFT has been our great divider..... and Government has been our conquerer.
Ignorance is NOT Bliss

All publicity is good publicity

All pubilicty is good publicity.  He's raising awareness simply by talking about it.  Those that are truly concerned will look into themselves. Hopefully they will reach their own conclusions.

Show "Lerner" by cowpoke1

Lerner is not being very helpful

He sounds like he's willing to contemplate (and by extension condone his supporters contemplating) LIHOP, or maybe weak MIHOP (i.e. with evil muslims intact). In addition he asserts with no justification that Israeli involvement is "baloney". How does he know that for sure? He doesn't, that's how. Yet he adds fuel to the argument that anyone suspecting based on strong circumstancial evidence Israeli elements were involved must be bigoted. That is not fair and it does not help prepare people for what could well end up being proven beyond anyone's ability to deny.

Lerner has a racket as a "progressive Jewish guru" that sells him lots of books. He is, in other words, there for jewish folk who can't stomach right wing zionists and neocons. While his baby steps seem like progress, I think we are all just expecting much too little from people like Lerner and Kucinich. If they are to live up to what they claim to be, they have to step out of their comfort zones just like we have. They have to acknowledge the obvious problems and do what they can to work towards a full accounting, and that is not possible when he dismisses one very possible explanation out of hand as baloney.


Real Truther a.k.a. Verdadero Verdadero

WTCdemolition.com - Harvard Task Force


Interesting article

The fact that they would publish this in the Jewish Forward is even more interesting. Perhaps this is an attempt on the part of the Forward to cause the Tikkun to lose credibility.

9/11 Inside Job Cartoon

"Cogito ergo sum"

Funny ....and