Saturday, September 1, 2012

More Than One Way

There are many ways that we can approach the problem of seeking justice for the Palestinians.

One, is a head on confrontation with Israel. You hear those who hold this view saying such things as: Israel will never voluntarily give up power or give up claiming Palestinian land for its own use. Therefore the only solution is force. The Palestinians need a sponsor, they say, some Arab nation willing to risk suicide to send an army up against the state of Israel which has the fourth strongest military on the globe. Or, they say, “The Palestinians need a PAC. They need to organize enough financial resources to bribe US politicians into taking up their cause.” Those in this camp are pessimistic about anything of this caliber ever happening. Therefore, they say such things as, “It’s sad, but the Palestinians are a lost people.

This position leads some to justify Israel’s brutal control over the Palestinians and assault on its neighbors by declaring, “Israel lives with a siege mentality. They know if they let down for one moment, the Arabs will push them into the sea. Israel is forced to operate under a no tolerance policy against any threat, real or imagined.” Thus, Israel kills 1400 citizens in Gaza in the winter of 2008 because some renegade fired homemade rockets into Israel. “Israel can only survive by pouncing upon anyone who appears to be gaining power in the region.” Besides,” they say, “Nothing is going to be gained by criticizing Israel, especially in an election season.”

There is another camp of opinions which advocates, “allowing the two parties involved to work it out between themselves. Those who take this position say such things as, “Until both sides want peace enough to compromise, it’s not going to happen.” This seems to be the position of Hillary Clinton who says, we won’t do anything to help the Palestinians until they come back to the negotiating table.

This proposal sounds noble, but it’s a little like telling the slaves in 1830 to just work it out with the overseer. The problem is, only one side has power. Only one side has an army The weak side lives behind an apartheid wall and is controlled by the stronger.

Then, there are those who seek peace by bringing hearts together.. This group brings Jews and Arabs together to work and study toward accomplishing some goal beyond just talking about how to get along. The results of this effort, (I want to say ministry) is that individuals get to know each other. They hear one another’s narrative. By the end of their time together, they have developed a relationship of respect and affection.

This works. I have seen it in the youth camps run by Roscoe Possidenti where Jews and Palestinians hug and weep on the others shoulders. Elias Chacour, a Melkite priest in the West Bank village of Ibillin built a school in which the faculty is half Jewish and half Arab. The student body is also equally divided. The goal is education, but the result is united hearts. Jim Crupi brings together business and community leaders for training. The participants in his seminars include those of ethnic and religious backgrounds from numerous Middle Eastern nations. In the long run, this may be the best solution to bringing about harmony among some very hostile nations and people.

However, all these approaches to peace are too slow. Before Israel comes to any just agreement, or the Palestinians find a big brother, or enough hearts are changed, there will be no Palestine. Israel will have very well claimed the total of Palestinian land and natural resources, including water, except for a few Bantustans here and there. .

There is another possibility. What I think will happen and what is happening, which will result in peace and citizenship for the Palestinians, is that Israel will not be controlled from the outside but will crumble from within.

The conscience of the world, including many young Jews, both in the US and in Israel, are rejecting the brutality of the right wing Zionist regime. Today’s younger Jews are not as emotionally tied to the holocaust, or to the state of Israel, as are their parents. Non-Jews simply find it hard to stomach the stories of cruelty coming out about the actions of Israel. And Israel is being trapped by its own Jewish theology. The story of Naboth’s vineyard found in the Book of First Kings, and such texts as Amos, “Let justice role down like waters, and righteousness like an ever flowing stream,” cannot be reconciled with the bombing of civilians, building of settlements, check points, restrictions on travel, demolition of homes, the assassination of neighboring scientists and treating a whole people as subhuman. This “God gave your land to me" theology, just does not fit with historical Judaism’s mandate for justice.

I honor those who chip away at the hard line Zionist agenda. I teach classes, lead discussions, donate money, give away books, show documentaries and put a bumper sticker on my car in an effort to support the “chippers”. I believe their method of seeking justice is the only hope for peace for Palestine and Israel and I believe it is working.

Thomas Are
September 2, 2012

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