These have been hard weeks for many at Ipeace. The death, the suffering..the emotional weight of seeing/living War and trying to remain at Peace withourselves and our friends.

There has been quite a bit of argument, debate..some rational, some emotional from the honest depths fo the heart.

There have been "patriots" of both sides, eager to make points for their respective sides: all in the name of "the cause". Sometimes we do so since we feel our back is up against a wall.

Below is one paragraph from a long article and Youtube talk by Rabbi Dr. Donnel Hartman of Jerusalem who speaks, following the war in Gaza about Fighting a "Just" War and Fighting it "Justly".. Without arguing if there is such a thing as a just war, I think Hartmans stance is something we all can learn from.

How can we at Ipeace develop this possibility to critique and listen to criticism so we can all work towards being what we really want to be?

"I have no sympathy for many of our (Israels) critics. Nor do I accept the moral underpinnings of many of their positions.

That said, it does not mean, however, that all who criticize the war in Gaza are anti-Semites and enemies of Israel. Furthermore, because a position is mouthed by foes, it does not follow that the content is unworthy of consideration.

Quite to the contrary, I believe that we as Jews and Israelis are obligated to give serious consideration to these critiques and are bound to ask these questions of ourselves:

What do we believe constitutes a "just" war?
How does one fight justly?

We also must ask whether both the war in Gaza and our conduct there meet the standards that we want for ourselves, our people, and our country. We do a great disservice to ourselves as a Jewish people when moral discourse is limited under the guise of mistaken patriotism ..."

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Thanks for the article and this lovely idea for discussion, Myron (love being able to express myself philosophically :o)).

I believe there must be openness and also self criticism. The only way for a person to grow.
But we need to want to grow, and this comes only when realizing we do not (cannot) see and understand (nor reflect) everything - especially emotions (easier with logical arguments).

Also, in order to grow, we need to know what are our goals because we are fed with lots of information all the time - the brain cannot absorb it all - this is why it filters (if you have goals the filtering comes from awareness, if not the filtering will come from emotions).

Regarding Ruach's (much appreciated) comment "How we see our selves and how other nations see us may differ greatly", I think that today the technology limits the difference in views vs the past. TV, WWW and such discussions kind of "averages" opinions throughout the world - obviously better in democratic populations more when you can say what you think without fear.

Dear Rúach,

I found a spoke to me..
I through it out into cyberspace to be picked up by Ruach..(my spirit)
Now i must also reply??
I'll try..
I think your differentiation of nations and people is important.

Nations are made up of people and maybe this is one of the points that Hartman wants to stress.

The commonality of members of a nation should allow for dialogue and reflection based on and about there common values and vison. It should drive its members to constantly rededicate themselves to these values which make them proud to be members of that nation.

But, a kind of patriotism (dedication to our monolithic oneness, rather than our cultural and value based commonality) can be an armor to stifle our movement as people.
We find ourselves donning armor, coveing our identify with a superfical identity the nation state. The armor's helmet, with visor down, blinds us to the human and moral dimenstions of our acts or lack of action. (This happenns daily..not only during war). We sacrifice our individuality, our humanity, which is the actual carrier of our nation's common values.

Hartman says, that he as a person, (a patriotic person) MUST open his ears to his enemies complaints. They might be correct EVEN if they are foes.

This is a call to transcend the simplistic form of patriotism.

Why did i post this here? It has to do with the types of "discussion" that we've had here.

Maybe i see it as an admission that, at least during the heat of battle, I haven't been able to listen to valid critique- only because they were, sometimes, couched in the language of "foes".

Maybe it is a way of saying thank you to those, like you, whose friendship is as strong as the clear critique that emenated from your heart during these hard times. The pain felt, the tears shed, during these times were proof that we stand naked, not dressed in any armor.

Maybe it is a way of reminding us all, that behind the conflicts of nations there are people: While each side finds itself "fighting for his/her existence"..they are called to remember their humanity and the humanity of the other side. The obvious conclusion would be that the only way to fight "justly" would be "just not to" fight altogether.

The special type of interpersonal dialogue we have developed here is a treasure to guard...and i can tell you that the effects of this goodness are sent out like waves when i tell my neighbors about my contacts here, about the Peace Cafe that took place in the middle of the fighting and about my phone calls to Majed.

In a way Hartman call on us to dialogue with ourselves...constantly. If we can dialogue with ourselves..see both will be much easier for us to dialogue with each other.
Wow..that was wordy! Sorry.
I just made friends with Gaby..and now feel like rushing over (not rushing in :-) to the dialogue between him and Roro..

One day..Roro and her hubby will come by my place for a cuppa coffee!
You guys are sweet :o)
As someone noted..
Obama said "Yes WE can!"

He knows he is not the Messiah..and can't save the world..
Getting the "WE" to do anything good is not so easy.
So climb off the roof..get your feet down to the ground..

But enjoy the hope! Without it the We can do nothing.

Good luck America! Good luck World..
Hi Gemma, wish I was there - saw it on TV and loved Obama's speech and could really relate to it - hope cinicism will not break him ...

Regarding Just Wars, maybe answering these questions can help get to an answer:

Do you believe that a person can be evil?
Do you believe that an evil person can make you angry?
Do you believe that an angry man can attack someone (don't have to be the one that got him mad)?
Do you believe that an angry or attacked man can tell his story so that people relate to it and get angry too?
Do you believe that an angry mob can attack back?

You can see where this is leading right?
To me - the answers are yes to all of the above, this is why I think that the average people all fight the fights of the extremists (because it is easier for the lazy crowd to pick sides rather than try to read, talk, ask questions and find the real evil that started all this).

Just a reflection I had, what do you think?
What is the real evil? Don't think I know enough to answer this.
I also think this is the wrong question, there is always be evil somewhere - there is no start to it.

I think it is now that counts - understanding the problem, not fueling it, and seeing how can we help is the way.

Stages in conflict:
1. Be empathic, this will help ease emotion
2. Understand the problem and translate it to logical sentences
3. Ask for and then suggest logical solutions

I'm a logical guy :o)

Makes sense?
Consider the story of Cain and Abel..first violence, brother kills brother.

Both start off with "noble" reaches the goal, of finding favor in G-d's eyes.
The other thinks his world has crashed under him. He (Cain) actually, almost paradoxically, gets a visit from G-d who warns him and consoles him..yet instead of entering into dialogue with G-d, who asked him about his downcast face..Cain turns his anger and/or frustration(?) out on his brother. (Hey, Cain's gripe should have been with G-d, right?)

It was like a slippery slope..not some demonic evil (although note the Biblical image of the sin crouching at the door)...that little demon in all of us.

There was an opening for dialogue or self reflection that Cain was unable to follow through on. Cain was just too damn human.

When, instead of replying to G-d, Cain turned to Abel in speech..Did Abel answer? Did he speak to Cain? Could Abel have helped Cain overcome??

Can we face our brothers in their frustration, and somehow help them..without them feeling we are condescending?
Lovely answer Gemma, wasn't expecting it! Thanks!
Have been enjoying this thread. I try as often as I can to speak for myself, from my own experience, but in this case, I defer to the words of my teacher, Prem Rawat, a leading voice for peace:

Prem Rawat responds to questions about peace.

We live in a world at war. Is it realistic to hope for world peace?

When I was a child, I used to be enamored with the idea of “world peace,” and it was a great thought to have. Then, as I started traveling throughout the world and meeting people, I realized there was no such thing. In all these years, I have never come across anything tangible that I could call the world. It is not the world that needs to be fixed; it is people. When people are at peace within, there will be world peace. Right now, people are fascinated by war.

Why is it that people create war?

War begins with denial. One group decides that their cause is greater and that the other group's cause does not exist. Causes become greater, and human beings are reduced to nothing.

People fight because they give more legitimacy to their causes than to human life. In their rationalizations, they have diminished the value of human life. The first time someone came up with the idea that a cause was greater than human life, the balance was upset, and it has continued to get worse. Human beings will fight when they do not understand what life is all about, because in wars we squander life. War does not exist only on the battlefield. At home, without a war, we squander life.


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