home | FAQ |

Israel, Gaza, Sanity, and Insanity (Part 3)

"When one thinks that this is what is necessary for Israel to survive, that the Zionist dream is based on the repeated slaughter of innocents on a scale that we’re watching these days on television, that is really a profound, profound crisis — and should be a profound crisis in the thinking of all of us who were committed to the establishment of the state and to its success." - Rabbi Henry Siegman

It's easy to get depressed reading some of the comments (over on my Facebook page) to my previous two postings on this subject. They make the above quote from a leading American rabbi all the more impressive. I encourage readers to listen to his entire interview, here.

In any win-lose scenario, neither Israelis nor Palestinians have a chance for what they both truly want and need - which is peace, security, freedom, and the chance to build sustainable prosperity for themselves and their descendants, in peace with their neighbors. In other words, short-term win-lose scenarios are long-term lose-lose scenarios. The long-term well-being of each is bound up with the well-being of the other.

That is true for all of us, which is an insight captured both in the African term "ubuntu" and in the central image of Jesus' message, "the kingdom/commonwealth of God."

More from Rabbi Siegman:

And I have always asked myself, and this has a great deal to do with my own changing views about the policies of governments, not about the Jewish state qua Jewish state, but of the policies pursued by Israeli governments and supported—you know, they say Israel is a model democracy in the Middle East, so you must assume—the public has to assume some responsibility for what the government does, because they put governments in place. So, the question I ask myself: What if the situation were reversed? You know, there is a Talmudic saying in Pirkei Avot, The Ethics of the Fathers: "Al tadin et chavercha ad shetagiah lemekomo," "Don’t judge your neighbor until you can imagine yourself in his place." So, my first question when I deal with any issue related to the Israeli-Palestinian issue: What if we were in their place?
What if the situation were reversed, and the Jewish population were locked into, were told, "Here, you have less than 2 percent of Palestine, so now behave. No more resistance. And let us deal with the rest"? Is there any Jew who would have said this is a reasonable proposition, that we cease our resistance, we cease our effort to establish a Jewish state, at least on one-half of Palestine, which is authorized by the U.N.? Nobody would agree to that. They would say this is absurd. So the expectations that Palestinians—and I’m speaking now about the resistance as a concept; I’m not talking about rockets, whether they were justified or not. They’re not. I think that sending rockets that are going to kill civilians is a crime. But for Palestinians to try, in any way they can, to end this state of affair—and to expect of them to end their struggle and just focus on less than 2 percent to build a country is absurd. That is part of—that’s propaganda, but it’s not a discussion of either politics or morality.