via Jewish Voice for Peace :
Opposed to Bombing Civilians? Sign Jewish Call to Action Petition
Saw the "What is Israel Doing?" ad we are running in The Nation? (Download a PDF of the ad here, and help pay for the ad here.) Or did you read about our work in the paper, see us on television or hear about us from a friend? Whatever got you here, we're glad you've come to learn more and make your voice heard. Please sign the Jewish Voice for Peace Call to Action Petition, read the JVP In-Depth primer below, and don't forget to start here with a primer about the occupation.
As Israel loses more soldiers in actions that increasingly resemble the catastrophic 1982 invasion of Lebanon, the question for Jews in Israel, America and the rest of the world becomes not just whether Israeli actions are morally justified, but whether or not they are strategically sound. The answer to both is no.
Sadly, the actions of the U.S. government have contributed to a destabilization of the region that can only harm Israel. It has vetoed two U.N. Security Council resolutions calling for a cease-fire and immediate negotiations. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice was quoted as saying she did not see what purpose a cease-fire would serve. Such comments leave the impression that halting the deaths of innocents doesn't even factor into Rice's thinking.
This diplomatic failure by the U.S. has defined the Bush administration's "strategy" in the region. The U.S. completely supported Israel’s actions in closing off the Gaza Strip's land, sea and air access shortly after a democratically elected Hamas government took power at the beginning of 2006. This devastated an already crippled economy in Gaza and weakened a Hamas government that had held a shaky truce with Israel for more than a year and was moving toward negotiations on implicitly recognizing Israel along its 1967 borders.
Meanwhile, ongoing skirmishes between Hezbollah and Israel over Israel's continuing presence in the Sheba'a Farms region—which Israel claims is Syrian territory, while Lebanon claims it as its own—were simply ignored by the rest of the world. Instead of pushing for a solution to these problems, the Bush administration preferred to let them simmer. It boiled over when Palestinian groups and Hezbollah attacked Israeli army posts inside Israel, taking Israeli soldiers hostage.
All sides rightly condemned Hezbollah for those attacks and for the deadly rocket attacks on Israeli towns. But those rocket attacks only started after Israel started bombing Lebanese civilians. The Israeli government is responsible for escalating the conflict, and it showed total disregard for its own citizens, let alone the Lebanese, by doing so. That doesn't excuse Hezbollah's actions, but Israel knew very well that it was opening the door to civilian casualties of its own when it hit Lebanon.
Now, more than two weeks after Israel invaded Lebanon and almost a month since Israel began its assault on the Gaza Strip, Israeli leaders have admitted that these operations have little to do with freeing their captive soldiers. Instead, we hear daily of the "new Middle East" which this war will create. This was attempted before, when in 1982 Israel attempted to install by force a government favorable to it in South Lebanon. The results then, as now, were only an intensification of the "old" Middle East violence. [read on...]
Advertisement to END THE SLAUGHTER IN ISRAEL, LEBANON and GAZA
READ the ad that is running in the NY Times 7/31/06. With your help, we can reprint the ad in the Washington Post and several newspapers in Israel, Palestine, and Lebanon, but it can only happen if you donate now.
Explanatory Note: We at Tikkun and the Network of Spiritual Progressives ask you to join our effort to place ads in national and international newspapers calling for an end to the slaughter in Lebanon, Israel and the Occupied Territories—and to use this moment not only to create a temporary cease fire, but to resolve all outstanding issues between the various parties in the Middle East. We are calling upon the international community to foster a new approach to resolving conflicts. We approach these issues from our commitment to a "Progressive Middle Path," recognizing that in the context of the past 120 years, both sides have legitimate grievances and both sides have acted with insensitivity and cruelty toward the other. We do not accept that one side is the "righteous victim" and the other side the "evil aggressor." But we do recognize that at this moment Israel has far greater military power, and so we ask for Israel to take the first steps toward ending the cycle of hatred and violence, even as we condemn Hezbollah for initiating the current escalation of violence. [read on...]
The Mideast death dance
Hamas and Hezbollah, Lebanon and Palestine, Syria and Iran, the U.S. and Israel: Unless these four pairs of actors turn away from their failed policies, the Middle East will sink further into violence and despair.
By Rami G. Khouri
July 15, 2006
You need to understand the relationship among four pairs of actors to grasp the meaning of the escalating attacks by Hamas, Hezbollah and Israel in recent days. The four pairs are Hamas and Hezbollah; the Palestinian and Lebanese governments; Syria and Iran; and Israel and the United States.
Simplistically, President George W. Bush has depicted this latest round of war as a clash between good and evil, while the Israeli government has tried to blame Palestinians and Lebanese who only want to make war against a peace-loving Israel. The more nuanced and complex reality is that, collectively, these four pairs of actors play roles in the ongoing fighting, as we witness the culmination of four decades of failed policies that have kept the Middle East tense, angry and violent. [read on...]
via The Independent:
Oren Ben-Dor: Who are the real terrorists in the Middle East?
What exactly is being defended? Is it the citizens of Israel or the nature of the Israeli state?
Published: 26 July 2006
As its citizens are being killed, Israel is, yet again, inflicting death and destruction on Lebanon. It tries to portray this horror as necessary for its self-defence. Indeed, the casual observer might regard the rocket attacks on Israeli cities such as Haifa and my own home town, Nahariya, as justifying this claim.
While states should defend their citizens, states which fail this duty should be questioned and, if necessary, reconfigured. Israel is a state which, instead of defending its citizens, puts all of them, Jews as well as non-Jews, in danger.
What exactly is being defended by the violence in Gaza and Lebanon? Is it the citizens of Israel or the nature of the Israeli state? I suggest the latter.
via Shalom Center:
via Shalom Center:
We are taught: "pekuakh nefesh, saving lives" is our highest duty.
This war is killing people now. And the rage it creates will kill more people later.
As Akiba and the sages taught: Learn for the sake of acting. The action site will come toward the end of this letter.
This war marks not only a crisis in the future of Israel, Lebanon, and Palestine, but also a crisis in the moral universe of Judaism, Christianity, and Islam.
There is a teaching in the Talmud: "If someone comes to kill you, kill him first." Then the Talmud continues: "But if you can prevent his killing you by wounding him rather than killing him, and nevertheless you kill him, you become a murderer."
Violence in self-defense, the rabbis are teaching, is legitimate - perhaps even required. But only self-defense that uses the smallest degree of force that would stop an attack.
This is wisdom for Jews and for the Jewish state, but not only for Jews. Something like it arises in all religious traditions that do not prohibit the use of violence altogether, even in self-defense.
So we all face today the question whether the present government of Israel and the present leadership of Hezbollah are following this precept.
I think not. I think the attacks on Lebanese infrastructure far from the Israeli-Lebanese border, like those on the civilian infrastructure of Gaza just a few weeks ago, are going far over the line of legitimate self-defense.
And I think the rocket attacks by Hezbollah against Haifa and many other Israeli towns, as well as the original attack across the international frontier, also go far over the line of any conceivable "self-defense." [read on...]
Shock and Awe
There is a case for a full-scale Israeli ground offensive against Hezbollah. It may yet come to that, if Israel can't find any other way to protect itself. There is also a case for restraint — limited counterstrikes combined with diplomacy, an effort to get other players to rein Hezbollah in, with the option of that full-scale offensive always in the background.
But the actual course Israel has chosen — a bombing campaign that clearly isn't crippling Hezbollah, but is destroying Lebanon’s infrastructure and killing lots of civilians — achieves the worst of both worlds. Presumably there were people in the Israeli government who assured the political leadership that a rain of smart bombs would smash and/or intimidate Hezbollah into submission. Those people should be fired.
Israel's decision to rely on shock and awe rather than either diplomacy or boots on the ground, like the U.S. decision to order the U.N. inspectors out and invade Iraq without sufficient troops or a plan to stabilize the country, is having the opposite of its intended effect. Hezbollah has acquired heroic status, while Israel has both damaged its reputation as a regional superpower and made itself a villain in the eyes of the world.
Complaining that this is unfair does no good, just as repeating "but Saddam was evil" does nothing to improve the situation in Iraq. What Israel needs now is a way out of the quagmire. And since Israel doesn't appear ready to reoccupy southern Lebanon, that means doing what it should have done from the beginning: try restraint and diplomacy. And Israel will negotiate from a far weaker position than seemed possible just three weeks ago.
And what about the role of the United States, which should be trying to contain the crisis? Our response has been both hapless and malign.
For the moment, U.S. policy seems to be to stall and divert efforts to negotiate a cease-fire as long as possible, so as to give Israel a chance to dig its hole even deeper. Also, we aren’t talking to Syria, which might hold the key to resolving the crisis, because President Bush doesn’t believe in talking to bad people, and anyway that's the kind of thing Bill Clinton did. Did I mention that these people are childish?
Again, Israel has the right to protect itself. If all-out war with Hezbollah becomes impossible to avoid, so be it. But bombing Lebanon isn’t making Israel more secure.
As this column was going to press, Israel — responding to the horror at Qana, where missiles killed dozens of civilians, many of them children — announced a 48-hour suspension of aerial bombardment. But why resume that bombardment when the 48 hours are up? The hard truth is that Israel needs, for its own sake, to stop a bombing campaign that is making its enemies stronger, not weaker.