Tuesday, December 30, 2008

No Peace, Revisited

Last Sunday I wrote, “There will be no peace between Israel and Palestine, at least not until one side annihilates the other.” Now watch the news: somebody reads my blog.

I have no love for Hamas, and wouldn’t mind seeing all terrorists of every stripe suddenly raptured to wherever terrorists get raptured to, but I doubt Israel believes in the rapture, and if they think this new military venture in Gaza is going to promote either security or peace or the coming of the Messiah, they are insane.

Forget who's right and who's wrong. Forget that Israel is trying to get away with whatever it can while Bush/Cheney are still in power. Forget that now everyone running for Prime Minister in Israel looks tough or terror, and can plead her/his case to the Israeli right-wing. Forget that no other nation in the world would sit still while a neighbor lobs rockets and mortars into its cities on a daily basis. Forget that Hamas has sworn to annihilate Israel. Forget moral equivalency, in fact forget morality altogether. Nobody on either side of this conflict really gives a damn about any of this. The people who fire rockets into Israel or order bombs dropped on Gaza don’t care about morality, they just want to win. But there is no winning.

Hamas cannot destroy Israel. Israel cannot destroy Hamas. Even the US would turn on Israel if she attempted the genocide the Palestinians fear, and though I am not sure who would come to the aid of Israel if genocide was once again perpetrated against the Jews, Israel would choose the Masada Option and blow the whole region to nuclear hell with her last breath. Everyone knows this, so nobody is going to take things that far. Instead they will continue this cycle of kill and over-kill until everyone who can has moved out of the region, and those who are left are too weak to throw whatever they have left to throw at one another anymore.

I feel so angry, frustrated, and powerless. Sure I can yell and scream and send money to promote peace, but that seems so abstract, so removed from the human pain and suffering that is the Palestinian-Israeli Tragedy (stop calling it a conflict; conflicts end, this never does). I need to do something more.

Our local newspaper published an article about a Palestinian family here in the ‘Boro. The husband’s mother and sisters live in Gaza, and he worries for their lives. So do I. So I called him. His phone was disconnected. I called our local mosque, but they weren’t answering. I emailed the sheikh of the mosque asking to meet with him, to pass on my prayers to the family, and to join with me to hold a prayer vigil for peace on New Year’s Eve. I haven’t yet heard back.

2009 is going to open with bloodshed. Death and violence continues to define us as a species. The Creationists are right: we humans don't evolve; we haven’t changed since Cain murdered Abel. War is our passion. Death is our obsession. We learn nothing from the past.

Do something different this year. Reach out to the Other with an open hand rather than a clenched fist. Offer dialogue rather than diatribe, bonding rather than bombing. Try something, anything to bridge the gaps between us. It may not save our species but at least you can say to the apes that will inherit the earth that you tried.

12 comments:

Grégoire said...

It's always very easy to blame the players who are actually doing the fighting. Often times I think we (North Americans) on all sides of the issue are quick to place blame on the people immediately involved, and in doing so we fail to see the bigger picture.

Israel is a de-facto client state of the West. It always has been. At some level, we all have to take a bit of responsibility for what excesses Israel might commit.

I'm not implying your criticism of the Israeli and Palestinian oligarchy is unjustified. I find it unbelievably refreshing. I do think we should shoulder a bit of responsibility ourselves though. It's our tax dollars that bought most of those helicopters and hellfire missiles being shot into homes and offices. I suppose that's why I enjoy these articles of yours. Like you, I can't very well just drop out of society and become some liberal tax-dodger. I have kids to feed. We can still speak up when we see injustice without fear of too much retaliation, and for doing that much, I applaud you and the others who are writing such articles right now.

Rabbi Rami said...

Thanks, Gregoire. But what is a "liberal tax dodger"? The people I know who manage to make millions without paying taxes (calling them capital gains rather than income for example) are usually anything but liberal.

Grégoire said...

There are some scroungy hippies someplace who refuse to support such necessities as nuclear weapons, military aid to dictators, and the like. They vocalize their displeasure by withholding a proportional percentage of their taxes.

Of course I would never support such malcontents, and I hope they all end up in prison where they belong. God bless the hellfire missile.

Jordan said...

Shalom Rav,
You wrote:

"Forget that no other nation in the world would sit still while a neighbor lobs rockets and mortars into its cities on a daily basis. Forget that Hamas has sworn to annihilate Israel."

Why should anyone forget these true statements and not act accordingly? You continued:

"Forget moral equivalency, in fact forget morality altogether."

How convenient this would be to one who sees no difference between the intentional killing of innocents and the accidental killing of innocents.
The Mishna makes the distinction, i.e., b'meizeed
obish'gaga, but why bother with that. You continued:

"Nobody on either side of this conflict really gives a damn about any of this."

And you know this how? You continued:

"The people who fire rockets into Israel or order bombs dropped on Gaza don’t care about morality, they just want to win. But there is no winning."

There you go again, equating the two, and
this repetition of moral equivalency on your part is a blindness which does not serve you well in addition to being a great disappointment. You
trivialized the words terror/terrorism in your previous post by equating the Hamas terror i.e.,
the intentional killing of innocents with what you called (and I paraphrase) the Israeli terror of occupation. Words have meaning and this equation
sacrifices their power at the alter of moral equivalency. How sad. Eem kol zeh, I'll continue to read and learn from others of your words.

Bivracha,
Jordan

PS The only "winning" that is possible is as I wrote
before (paraphrasing Dennis Prager) that which could ensue from a Palestinian civil war where moderate Palestinians prevail.

Jordan said...

Shalom Rav,

You wrote:
"Reach out to the Other with an open hand rather than a clenched fist. Offer dialogue rather than diatribe, bonding rather than bombing."

That was called "The Oslo Agreements," and they failed miserably.

I get it. "We are not obligated to complete the work
but neither are we free to abandon it."
Rabbi Tarfon Pirkei Avot 2:21

And I get this too. In the Talmud, Tractate Sanhedrin states, "When someone is coming to kill you, you must get up sooner and kill him first."

Biv'racha,
Jordan

Rabbi Rami said...

I am taken with Jordan's realpolitik, and I am a fan of Dennis Prager. I suggest you all read "The Return of History" which supports Jordan's position. The problem is we are both making things too black and white. Israel is not of one mind on this policy.

My point with all those "forgets" had nothing to do with moral equivalency. My point was and is this: we can't win. We can't win by bombing and (as Jordan said) we can't win by negotiating. When the next "truce" comes the situation will return to what it was before the attack.

And as far as a civil war among the Palestinians goes, I doubt that will happen, but if it does I imagine the most violent and right-wing will win.

The only "solution" is annihilation and the world won't let that happen (at least not on the Palestinian side). So we are doomed to endless war.

What little faith I have in humankind slips from my grasp a little more each day.

Jordan said...

Shalom Rav and All,

You wrote:

“I am taken with Jordan's realpolitik,”

If by this you mean, “politics based on practical and material factors rather than on theoretical or ethical objectives” I would suggest yes and more as I would add the ethical dimension as well as I did in my last post when quoting Pirke Avot. The combination would be my position.
You continued:

“and I am a fan of Dennis Prager.”

Glad to hear it though I know of your sometime ambivalence toward his views. You continued:

“I suggest you all read "The Return of History" which supports Jordan's position.”

I have and my response is "not completely" as I outlined above. You continued:

“The problem is we are both making things too black and white.”

Black and white (in contradistinction to black or white), is a good start! And I would add all shades of grey in between. Actually this is consistent with your non-dual view of God… black and white and more. The world can be “milk and honey” and also “vinegar and bile.” The non-dual acknowledgement is the first step. You continued:

“Israel is not of one mind on this policy.”

And they will soon cast their vote to determine where as a country they stand, just as we recently did. Some individuals will not be happy with the outcome, just as is the case here. I loved Rabbi/Dr. Daniel Gordis’ recent letter on this:

http://www.danielgordis.org/Site/Site_Dispatches.asp

You continued:

“My point with all those "forgets" had nothing to do with moral equivalency.”

Then why include them? They only provide fodder for those who naively refuse to judge behavior as well as for folks like me who will always point this out. You continued:

“My point was and is this: we can't win. We can't win by bombing and (as Jordan said) we can't win by negotiating. When the next "truce" comes the situation will return to what it was before the attack.”

I agree that this will be so only if Israel yields/reverts back to the counterproductive behavior of Oslo and other tactical errors since. See Daniel Pipes’ recent post:

http://www.danielpipes.org/blog/2008/12/israels-war-on-hamas-a-dozen-thoughts.html

The sad truth of human nature to paraphrase Dr. Laura, is that while some learn from books, and others may learn from experience, most of us learn only after urinating on the electric fence. You continued:

“And as far as a civil war among the Palestinians goes, I doubt that will happen, but if it does I imagine the most violent and right-wing will win.”

And if they do indeed nothing will change. The “little guy,” Palestinian must rise up with others like
her/him, who are fed up with the status quo and face down the bully (Hamas) in the schoolyard. Israel will continue to defend herself. After all, while Jesus, one of the greatest of all Jewish teachers (as you’ve written elsewhere), taught, “turn the other cheek,” he most certainly did not mean to say, in the words of Dr. Henry Cloud, “Blessed are the doormats for they shall inherit my heels.” Until the “little guy” Palestinian really gets this, indeed nothing will change. I agree that there will be no lasting solution imposed by Israel or us or anyone for that matter. It can only come from within the ranks of the Palestinians themselves. Supporting the “little guy” Palestinian in this is the noble way to proceed. You continued:

“The only "solution" is annihilation and the world won't let that happen (at least not on the Palestinian side).”

And what does this say about the world? You continued:

“So we are doomed to endless war. “What little faith I have in humankind slips from my grasp a little more each day” 


Quite pessimistic and perhaps justified. And yet this position because it offers no hope that “everyday” Palestinians could rise up and face down the bully Hamas only leads to the ultimate and
un Jewish/Christian/Moslem conclusion that Life itself is meaningless and futile. Not for me. I’ll stick with Breysheet Bara Elohim, In the Beginning God Created.

May we all resolve to make this a good year, not only for ourselves, but for others as well.

Biv’racha,
Jordan Goodman

roy said...

boy there is a lot here...

I want to underscore Rami's statement that nobody can win, at least not as long as the only tools are bullets and missiles. Everyone can win if someone has the moral strength to say "no more." And in my moral framework the one with that responsibility is the one with more power.

As for the immorality of dropping bombs on Gaza vs. throwing missiles into Israel, I have to say they are morally equivalent. Both sides children - although many, many more Palestinians - die the same. And both sides would point the finger at the other and say they are only acting in self-defense or retribution.

Yes, Israel is certainly not of one mind... but neither are the Palestinians. There are folk of good will working for peace on both sides, unfortunately they are being drowned out by those whose ethics are based in fear.

I cry for the Palestinians. And I cry for the Israelis. Most of all, I wish someone would have the courage to do what must be done.

AaronHerschel said...

What about, y'know, America and Israel funding a covert civil war in Palestine, supporting the moderates (are there any?) with guns and cash a la Charlie Wilson's War? While meanwhile exerting some kind of leverage on Iran to dry up Hamas' funding?

I haven't thought this out at all, so if it's impossible or stupid, I apologize. But if anyone has any ideas... call the CIA.

Jordan said...

Shalom Aaron and All,

Ahhh an actual strategy for how to affect what I was saying. Sounds reasonable to me, as it recognizes that Iran is indeed the major benefactor of the Islamist extremists of the world.

The question of course: is there the will to actually
face them (Iran) down and can it be done without Russia and China?

Re Israel/US covert funding of of moderate Muslims
(While the majority of Muslims are likely to be anti Israel and anti US, I don't believe that the majority are terrorists), who knows what already might be going on. In a related vein check out the article below

Dec 31, 2008 21:27
By TAWFIK HAMID

http://www.jpost.com/servlet/Satellite?pagename=JPost%2FJPArticle%2FShowFull&cid=1230733118401

Biv'racha,
Jordan

Jordan said...

Shalom All,

Here are a few postings to further clarify the Israel/Hamas war.

Shabbat Shalom to all of us,
Biv'racha,
Jordan


Israel's Policy Is Perfectly 'Proportionate'
Hamas are the real war criminals in this conflict.
By ALAN M. DERSHOWITZ
JANUARY 2, 2009, 1:35 P.M. ET

http://online.wsj.com/article/SB123085925621747981.html


Moral Clarity in Gaza
By Charles Krauthammer
Friday, January 2, 2009;

http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2009/01/01/AR2009010101780.html?nav=hcmoduletmv

Peter M. Schogol said...

I have to wonder why, all these years, Israel didn't exchange one missile for one missile with Gaza (and Southern Lebanon)?

If Hamas fires a Katyusha rocket 15 miles into Israel (which is about 5% of Israel's length), Israel should have fired one missile of equivalent destructive capability .8 miles into Gaza (5% of its 4-mile width).

What would the world have said? And to whom?