By Jim Vacca
Concessions necessary on both sides of Mideast conflict
Thu Aug 10, 2006 02:45

 
Concessions necessary on both sides of Mideast conflict
By Jim Vacca
Aug 7, 2006, 08:20


Where do you start a story? If you begin the history of African-Americans with manacles and chains on the shores of the "New World" rather than with the immoral and imperialistic violation of a sovereign and tribal people a half a world away, you get two different stories. If you start the story of immigration reform with the narrative that details illegals jumping fences in order to leech the public coffers of scarce resources needed for American citizens, rather than with the capitalistic land-grab known as the Mexican-American war, you get two different stories.

If you start the story of the crisis in the Middle East with the collapsed attempts of Hamas and Hezbollah insurgents, fanatically militarized and financed by Syria and Iran to spark a proxy war rather than with the 1948 displacement of thousands of Palestinians from their ancestral homeland, however justified as necessary and legal, you get two different stories.

The spiral of escalating violence will not create peace for the Palestinians or security for Israel. The flexing of military might around the globe — from the rock-throwing teenager in Gaza, to the rockets' red glare in North Korea, to the nuclear ambitions of Iran, to the occupation of Iraq by American troops — make this world a dangerous place.

Violence is a tool of moral weakness and implants such trauma in each generation that the desire for revenge trumps the human impulse to live as neighbors in peace.

Israel holds prisoners without charge in the same way that America holds suspects at Guantanamo Bay. The democratic ideal of both nations is tarnished when the tactics for gaining security devolves into that of a police state.

Israel's refusal to negotiate a prisoner exchange with Hezbollah is an intentional departure from an historical practice (last enacted in 2004) that held a fragile peace. The bombing of civilian infrastructure such as power plants disproportionately punishes an entire people for the acts of a deranged minority.

Iran and Syria do not lie outside our moral critique. Rabbi Michael Lerner notes that they too have exhibited "a history of indifference to the plight of the Palestinians in their own countries and failed to supply material support to Palestine to build its economic infrastructure which suggests that their assistance to Hezbollah comes more from seeking political advantage and domination in the Middle East than from a genuine moral solidarity with the Palestinian people."

All people who desire peace in the region stand with Israel in agreement that U.N. Resolution 1559, that seeks to free Lebanon from Syrian occupation and to disarm Hezbollah and Palestinians in occupied Lebanon, be enforced. Yet it is hypocritical of the West and Israel to demand selective enforcement of U.N. Resolution 1559 while ignoring scores of resolutions that attempt to hold Israel accountable for their actions and intractable behavior within the region.

Everyone shares in the blame, but blame offers no solution. A progressive middle path that recognizes the rights of Palestinians and Israelis and acknowledges their common humanity must be pursued in order to end the cycles of violence and establish a lasting peace. Some components of this radical re-visioning include:

Reparations to Palestinians who lost property and homes from 1947-67, and to Jews who fled from Arab states during the same time.

Enforcement of all U.N. resolutions

Creation of a joint Israeli/Palestinian border patrol supported by international peacekeepers.

Return to the 1967 borders coupled with an understanding that Jerusalem be shared so that Palestinians have access and control over the Temple Mount and surrounding Mosques.

Empower a Truth and Reconciliation Commission (as in South Africa) to hear grievances so that wounds, mutually inflicted, could begin to heal.

Now is the time for a new Narrative born from the wisdom of the ages beautifully expressed by Lao Tze:

If there is no peace in the world

There must be peace in the nations

If there is no peace in the nations

There must be peace in the cities

If there is no peace in the cities

There must be peace between neighbors

If there is no peace between neighbors

There must be peace in the home

If there is no peace in the home

There must be peace in our heart

May we be so moved in our hearts that we demand a new bottom line of nonviolence as we commit ourselves and our national resources not only to peace in our homes, but peace in the home of every Iraqi, peace in the home of every Israeli, peace in the home of every Palestinian evidenced by the presence of justice enacted through compassion.

Jim Vacca is a member of the Network of Spiritual Progressives, Social Justice Co-chair of Open Circle Unitarian Universalist and teaches at Boulder High School.


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