[RFP] Gaza & Beyond; What's the alternative? (fwd)
plevin at u.washington.edu
Mon Dec 29 09:21:50 PST 2008
I forward this from Rabbi Waskow, founder of the Shalom Center in Philly,
long time worker for peace, member of Rabbis for Human Rights.
I have been one of those who've not posted any kind of message because it
felt like any support for Israel was not read in any sort of nuanced
fashion. It has felt like if one felt Hamas was wrong, Israel's
blockage/etc. of Gaza was wrong, and that Israel had the right to defend
itself (a broad statement, not meant to be construed as the right to
injure civilians, imprision Gaza, etc.) one was a fascist. Yes, strong
word indeed, but that's how I've read the tone and content of so-called
So, for me, Rabbi Waskow is an intelligent voice. Share/read/dispute,
---------- Forwarded message ----------
The Shalom Center: A prophetic voice in Jewish, multireligious, and
Gaza & Beyond: What's the Alternative?
Late Saturday night, I asked us to live with the vertigo of choosing
between two versions of the Jewish future: the vision of Zechariah, which
we read every year on Shabbat Hanukkah -- "Not by might and not by power
but by My breathing-spirit, says YHWH Infinite" and the vision of
permanently using --as right now in Gaza -- -- superior power to impose
I received many brickbats, many thank-yous and blessings, and one calm
question: What's the alternative?
So after simply living with the despair of what seem like impossible
choices, we might begin to ask ourselves the necessary question: What's
Right away, the UN Security Council (with no US veto interposed) has
called for an immediate end to all violence into and from Gaza. So have J
Street, the pro-Israel, pro-peace Jewish lobby, and Brit Tzedek v'Shalom.
This call makes sense, and should be applied with equal and immediate
insistence and enforcement to the Hamas rockets against Israel, the
Israeli bombing of Gaza, Israeli interference with shipments of food and
medicine and fuel to Gaza, and Egyptian violence against Palestinians
trying to flee the bombs of Gaza.
But this is a palliative, not an alternative.
The alternative for Hamas would have been to multiply the approach of the
nonviolent boatloads of people who were in the last month bringing
supplies to Gaza, ignoring or violating the Israeli blockade. This
approach was building support in much of the world. Of course it was not
enough to feed the whole people or heal them of disease, but it was
pointing out the injustice and violence of the blockade. Instead of
canceling the cease-fire and aiming rockets once again, they could have
turned those boats into a multitude.
(A message to those who blindly support whatever Hamas does because they
are the underdog: The teaching of the Prophet Zechariah is not just for
Jews. It is about self-restraint when you have greater power, and it is
about nonviolence -- also a form of self-restraint -- when you have lesser
power. It is God's word for everybody.)
The alternative for the Israeli government would be to say: --- Instead of
scornfully rejecting the Saudi/ Arab League proposal for a region-wide
peace settlement among Israel, all Arab states, and a viable Palestinian
state, we encourage it, and encourage its proponents to press Hamas to
join in, while making clear that for us the deal must include only very
small symbolic numbers of Palestinian refugees returning to Israel itself,
and control of the Jewish Quarter and the Western Wall in the Old City of
Jerusalem. And we encourage, instead of blocking, a Palestinian
government of national unity, including Hamas as well as Fatah. We will
attend that peace conference tomorrow ? tonight!
And meanwhile, we seek as much peace as possible with Hamas -- if not full
recognition, then a 50-year truce (as one Hamas leader had proposed.) .
We negotiate openly with Hamas toward ending the blockade, encouraging
economic development inside Gaza, welcoming European and Egyptian aid and
investment, releasing the members of their parliament we are holding in
jail, and in exchange, get an end to the rocket attacks by Hamas and their
acceptance of governmental responsibility to control other groups that may
try to continue. We use the checkpoints to prevent terrorist incursions
into Israel, rather than preventing delivery of food and medicine to Gaza.
(Perhaps even now an Israeli government could take that road ---- arguing,
Now that we have proved we can be bloody, we are not negotiating from
weakness, we are not rewarding terrorism, we can walk this path!)
And the alternative for the US government would be to use the disaster of
this attack to call for all the above: To insist on a regional Middle East
peace conference, to insist that even a Netanyahu government of Israel and
even a Hamas leadership of Gaza or Palestine take part and accept a decent
And that's where the long-range intentions of The Shalom Center come into
focus --- Working for a peaceful and peace-making US policy in the broader
Middle East and the even broader Muslim world, and intertwined with that,
a new US pursuit of sustainable energy sources to heal our planet and make
the conquest of Middle East Oil unecessary. That long-range intention is
where we need your help!
Shalom, salaam, peace -- Arthur
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