I feel the time has come to speak out. A few years ago my cousin's daughter wrote a book about cousins of ours who lived and hid in italy throughout the war. Reflecting on all that had happened and its impact, the elderly mother of the family said that one thing we had lost was our sense of morality, some kind of capacity to speak out when things are not fair, to admit wrongs-especially our own- and to work to change them. That no matter what has happened to us some moral capacity must be part of our goal. that has stayed with me particularly concerning israel.
I lived and worked in israel for two years in the early 70's and left in the july before the yom kippur war. I go back regularly to visit family and join in the celebrations and situations that are a part of life. When I lived in in the old city in jerusalem, as renovations to the jewish quarter were beginning, we met many palestinians, and one friend came to visit following the shooting down of an egyptian airplane, which turned out to be a passenger plane which has strayed into israeli airspace. Surely there was some mistake, I thought when i heard it. Israel would not have shot down a plane knowing that it was a passenger plane. I was utterly convinced that WE would not do such a thing, that WE would always do the right thing, that WE stood for justice, for compassion, for humanity, for All, not just ourselves. He was not convinced, in fact he was convinced that israel had known that there were civilians on the plane and had shot it down anyway. I was horrified that he could believe that and it shook my conviction and made me look again at what was happening.
It seemed to me that our existence as a people and a state was indisputable, but how we went about defending ourselves was questionable. From the beginning we made a mistake in not giving more concern when our neighbors were so unhappy with what was happening, to the point they were willing to go to war. It was a different time and negotiations about territories were not part of what was commonly considered necessary for the creation of a state, but in our hearts we knew, even then, that we could have no peace if we didn't have a relationship with our neighbors that included respect, fairness, friendliness and decisions based on a reality that
we were neighbors and fellow human beings. Surely as jews we know the ignominy and the building of resentment and hate that follows a creation of any sort that is not so based. It is never simple or easy to work with these as underlying values; to let them inform our actions. To have them as a goal would help us have better thoughts and channel our energies in a more positive direction.
From this perspective, Israeli military has gone too far in Gaza. Are we really to believe that they thought they could fire on Hamas and not inflict great casualties on such a congested civilian population. We are using phosphorous weapons, chemicals that burn the flesh on civilian populations--are we gone mad?!!! It is mad that they are legal weapons and we should know that it is mad. Because they are legal, do they have to be legal in our minds. do we use use whatever THEY say is ok. Really , We have always made up our own minds about what is right and ok. We always have. We choose the rules we think and know to be right, as our moral guide in the world.
So why are we doing it now? Even from a rational perspective, what is the point of telling people to leave when they have nowhere to go? And is blockading a civilian city necessary after it becomes obvious that it is not working to do anything but create cruel realities for people, who in turn will hate us more?
If hamas uses its people as shields for themselves, should we take comfort in our morally superiority? True we don't do that, but what we doing is also wrong. If we go in and annihilate hamas what good is done? There will just be more people to follow, with more hate, and with more 'reason' to fight, from their own way of thinking. what have we accomplished but gained a bit of time. Of course we cannot sit by and be constantly threatened, but surely a lasting peace comes with the slow building of trust, which has been destroyed over and over again. But now it seems it is getting worse and we cannot afford the continual destruction .
I hear over and over again, "they want to annihilate us" as reason for not putting more energy into building with those people who do want peace, do want to sort out the problems that concern the creation of conditions which would allow trust and good will to grow so some creative thinking about how to solve these problems. I hear over and over again " we want the same bit of land and so we cannot both be satisfied, and we cannot have a state as long as they want this land" as a reason for keeping up a war stance, that we must defend ourselves and our nation to the death. My fear is that it would be to the death and this I, personally do not want for my family and nation. Surely it is only in living that we can create and grow. The connection to this land is special and holy for both of us. Surely we can live in peace with this remaining so for us both. Sharing or separating from a mutual point of view, not soly at the instigation of one, is what will be peaceful solution. If both sides are not part of the process, one will feel belittled.
We need to beware of hate, anger, and righteous indignation, and remember that love, inspiration, goodwill and creative actions are also powerful. I think it is past time to see that the Palestinian people are the people who are our neighbors now, even citizens of our country, and that they will become friends in the future. Relationships always change. I still believe we are big enough and we can find fair and firm ways to deal with whatever happens. It helps to stop being driven by our fears, and recognize when we are fueling our own anger and fear by remembering what was done to us and how we have suffered so that it clouds our thinking about what is happening now, and what can be done. It is time we let our painful memories, our past and present suffering not lead us into fear and revenge, as is natural and so easy to happen, but open us to a deeper compassion, not only for ourselves and our own situation, but also for every other human being on earth. Maybe it is time to let them go a bit knowing that they are not gone, but become a part of who we are. Nothing in the memory is ever lost. Time to let our fear inform us of real threats so we can clearly see how to deal with them, and our anger turn into a determination to find a just, workable, way of progressing to a sustainable future of peace and prosperity. I believe that the experience of suffering it shows us that creating suffering is not the way to move forward.
My mother always said when she felt angry and wanted revenge," vengance is mine sayeth the lord". She believed that if she did what was right, God would sort out the injustices whose complications seem unsortable. Of course God works through us as well so we do have a moral duty and an emotional need to do our best to sort out for ourselves what we think and feel the best is, and act accordingly. To act solely from our own interests is often a first step, particularly when fear and desperation are the motivating emotions, but they never finish, never bring full satisfaction and peace. I certainly don't think it is what is necessary now. I think my mother was right. We have survived for over 2,000 years without a state, a place on the earth that we could call our own, where we could have the authority to live as we chose to live, without always being the minority, the ones who had to conform, and feel outside, unwanted, despised as the one who was different-------
This process of building our own place needs a lot of trust in the process of creation. I don't believe that Creation is just a momentary an act of God, but a continual process. The conditions which help to foster an atmosphere where people seem to generally be prepared to cooperate, to care, to have helpful thoughts and creative insights and actions are known. They are not new, but we do tend to forget them over and over again-- respect for uniqueness, inclusiveness, openness, loving responses.......acknowledging that people, ourselves included, can not only be incredebily cruel to each other but can also be a source of inspiration, kindness and support in every way. We can provide love, truth, and nurturance for each other so we can be calm enough to keep looking on the world with loving eyes. We can be inclusive in our considerations of what is best and we can respect the uniqueness of individuals and nations.
We can and must stop firing where and when we know so many of the civilian population are going to be killed. We should do this not just for the Palestinians but for the well-being and sanity of ourselves and our children, wherever we live. Israel's survival must not be at the expense of our collective sense of what
is right. We have a duty to our past -- and our future.

clair weiss lalor

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Comment by clair lalor on February 2, 2009 at 10:24pm
Dear Jale, thank you for responding to my letter.
I cry for israel, i cry for the palestinians. is there no voice which can speak to both? Do i have to completely think everything israel does is ok before you don't hear me as critical? There is wrong on both sides, there is right on both sides. and there is incredible fear and suffering on both. is it not possible to love both, and still stay a Jew. I am a Jew and deeply loves the jewish people its traditions and ways and wants them to prosper and survive. you ask me to say what i think you can do. i think you can support politicians, who are willing to negotiate peace, even though rockets are being fired. I think you can support any person, israeli or palestinian who is prepared to risk a reasonable peace, to risk being fair. what else can you do!? Everything else only prolongs conflict. there will always be palestinians who will fight israelis and israelis who will fight palestinians. nothing else works. if not it is a stalemate, both sides afraid to take the first step, afraid that the other will win and annihilate them. And maybe even that won't. But at least we died doing what we think was in line with our highest understanding of love and peace. rabin was such a man. He was prepared to take a risk. It is a risk say I will live in love, not fear. Wishing you all the love peace and protection of God and the universe. clair
Comment by Jale on February 2, 2009 at 8:36am
Hello to all of you my dear friends On I Peace
I love you all and I respect your ideas of peace
I beg you please come and live with our children, men women, old people in Shederot and around.
Please come with your children and grand children staying with us, Only yesterday 10 rockets over Shderot 2 near a Day caring children place.
Please come and stay with us send every morning your children to school with rockets around, I beg you please come a stay with us for a year, please try to think what is happenned to Gilat Shalit, our soldier Kidnapped by the Hamas , almost 3 years and the Red Cross did not visit him, Please tell us what we can do, we are not anymore in Gaza, Please come and stay with us......
Wish you all Peace and Love and please be less critical.......
Comment by Cas on February 1, 2009 at 2:43am
Well said Clair.. I too read it almost in one breath!
It is so true about such weapons being "legal" and so tragic that whole economies are built on the back of producing and trading them .....
After so much bloodshed, I pray that the people of Gaza will be able to see each other as human beings and not as "the enemy"... It will not be an easy path for the children terrorised by such violence and hatred... We must support the children, for they, sadly, are the ones who will take up the fight down the track...
My heart bleeds for the children!
You are right - it is our duty to act ...
Thank you for your bravery and honesty :)

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