Tuesday, September 14, 2004

A good idea for peace

Wow.

I don't intend to post much about politics. I laugh along with the rodeo clown show that is our upcoming election, watch The Daily Show, read Molly Ivans, etc. I just don't usually venture beyond my mind and my vote. Today though I read a piece that was such a different and fresh voice, topped with a good idea for helping to promote peace in Israel.

As a Jewish person, I have wondered what my responsibility is toward Israel. I traveled to Israel as a child, fell in love with the roses in Haifa, crawled through under-city catacombs, and dipped my toes in the Jordan River. Every time some asshole with a swastika tattoo makes the news for a hate crime, every time the Aryan Nation holds a parade, every time I look at the photos of family members none of us even know who never made it out of Europe, I am grateful there is another country I could run to, if that ever became necessary. As an American, I am certain my information on all topics is so warped by the time it reaches me that I have generally felt trapped, unable to do or say much on the subject for fear of doing harm through misinformation. Part of the elegance of this idea is that it only enables people to escape from harm, and in so doing reduces the tension in a conflicted region. Hard to see a downside.

This piece of writing has the ring of truth. The facts & figures check out, as do the references to other articles. I am re-posting only part of it here (without permission, but with respect), the "what you can do" portion, but the entire article is worth your time (written in 2002 but may as well have been written yesterday). I would add that this need not be Jews helping Jews, it could be any organization who wishes to promote peace:

So Here Is What You Can Do

Jews in America and world-wide should therefore use their money to support settlers who wish to leave the occupied territories and return to Israel. This should not even be a "political" issue: the settlers (and their children) are held hostage by the Israeli government, exposed to deadly violence. You do not have to be a dove to support people's right not to live in the middle of a battle-field (unless they want to). Sums and conditions can be negotiated, using as guidelines the compensations paid by Israel to the settlers evacuated from Sinai when it was returned to Egypt.

The advantages of such an initiative are numerous.
* On a human level, it respects the free and legitimate will of settlers who wish to leave.
* On a moral level, it does justice to innocent Israeli citizens who conformed to Israeli law and policy, moved to the occupied territories, and now feel abandoned, cheated and betrayed.
* On a national level, it respects the overwhelming majority in Israel that supports evacuation of settlements (without even harming the minority of settlement-supporters).
* On a regional level, it can show Arabs that Jews world-wide are supportive of peace, not of the disputed settlements. Empty settlements can then be sold to house Palestinian refugees.
* On an international level, it conforms to the international as well as American position that the settlements are illegal and form an obstacle to peace.

Now, dear United Jewish Communities of North America: you have collected $265 million in your recent "Israel Emergency Campaign". 65% of the Israelis support evacuating the settlements. Will you take 65% of the sum – $172 million – and offer it to settlers wishing to leave? Or will any other Jewish institution take up the glove? You'll find an overwhelming majority of Israelis and Palestinians behind you, and you will enter History as the initiator of a quantum leap towards Peace in the Middle East.



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