Progressive Revival

leadership of the State of Israel has rejected the latest calls for a cease
fire. Only President-Elect Obama has the moral authority to make a call for a
cease fire that could be listened to seriously by the Israelis. But if he is
going to take that step, he should also use this moment to move beyond the
specifics of the present moment and call for an international conference that
could bring together the forces that would effectively insist on a fair and
just settlement.

idea that we are going to reach peace some other way is problematic at best.
The current Israeli fantasy is this: the Israelis decimate Hamas, making Fatah
the only remaining force. Then Israel negotiates an agreement for two states,
but the agreement allows the Israeli West Bank settlements to remain in place,
and the IDF to remain there to protect the settlers and the special roads that
criss-cross the West Bank for use by settlers only. The outcome: a Palestinian
state that is defacto a set of isolated cantons fully surrounded by Israelis,
in effect the occupation continuing but in a different form. Fatah Palestinian
leadership might grab at such a two state idea, and that might provide peace
for a few years or even more. But eventually the nationalist and Islamic forces
will revive from the current slaughter in Gaza, and they will see that a Palestinian state of this sort is neither legitimate nor viable, and the
violence will start up again.

only plausible thing to do is for the people of the world to come together and
create a solution that is just and fair to both sides. 

can you and I do to make this happen? The best we can do at this moment is to
get the attention of our president-elect and put forward the idea of how to
make it happen and what it could look like.

our attempts to present these ideas in the op-ed pages of the Times, the
Washington Post, the LA Times have been turned down. Our only recourse, and
it’s an expensive one, is to buy full page ads in the major newspapers and
present our plan. It’s the one way we will for sure be heard by President-Elect

do that we need your help. Tikkun magazine and the Network of Spiritual
Progressives (our interfaith political education arm co-chaired by Cornel West
and Sister Joan Chittister) do not have the money to buy such an ad. We can
only hope that you will help us by donating to the ad (which you can do at

 ) , signing the ad (which you can do even if you have no money),
and sending this message to everyone on your email lists and asking them to
contribute as well.  Here is what
the ad will say:

Text of
Gaza Peace Ad View Printable Version


Cease Fire Now in Gaza!
Obama: It’s Time to End the

Violence in the Middle East-
Once and For All

Convene an International Middle East Peace Conference to
Facilitate a Final Peace Settlement that is just and fair to All



A Call for Lasting Peace
President Obama, please issue a public call for an immediate cease fire in Gaza, and  call for an International Peace Conference to facilitate a fair and lasting solution to all aspects of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and to the conflict between Israel and other states in the region. Why do we say “facilitate”? There are too many forces in each country in the region who are committed to continuing this struggle forever. Their provocations will continue until the international community stops the violence once and for all and facilitates conditions of security that will allow the peace and reconciliation forces in each country to flourish. Such a solution would be based on the following conditions:
a. The creation of an economically and politically viable Palestinian state (roughly on the pre-1967 borders with minor border modifications mutually agreed upon between Israel and Palestine); withdrawal of Israel from the Golan Heights, and simultaneously the full and unequivocal recognition by Palestinians and the State of Palestine and all surrounding Arab states of the right of Israel to exist as a Jewish state (e.g. celebrating Jewish holidays and the Sabbath in the same way that Christmas gets official sanction as a state holiday in the U.S.) while offering full and equal rights to all of its non-Jewish citizens (preferential treatment for Jews only with regard to immigration, and that to be phased out when anti-Semitism in the world has disappeared; and the same preferential treatment for Palestinians in the Palestinian state as long as they face discrimination or reduced rights or threats to their safety in other parts of the world);
b. An international consortium to provide generous reparations for Palestinians who have lost homes or property from 1947 to the present, and generous reparations for Jewish refugees from Arab states from 1947-1967;
c. A long-term international peacekeeping force to separate Hezbollah and Israel in southern Lebanon and northern Israel, to ensure demilitarization of the Golan Heights, to protect Israel and Palestine from each other, to police the borders and the corridor that will need to be established linking Gaza with the West Bank, and to protect both Israel and Palestine from other forces in the region who might seek to control or destroy either state, and treaty agreements with the U.S. and other Western states to protect both Israel and Palestine from any assault by other countries (e.g. Iran, Pakistan, China or Russia);and
d. The quick imposition of robust sanctions against any party that refuses to sign or violates these agreements.
It would be in the interests of Israel, the Palestinians, the Arab states, the Jewish people, the U.S. and the world if this solution could be facilitated on the parties now. It breaks our heart to see the suffering of the Israeli people, the Palestinian people, the Lebanese people and others in the region when we know how unnecessary it is. The basic issues can be resolved. No matter how maximalist the fantasies are on each side about eliminating their enemies, the truth is that the majority of the people on all sides of the struggle would embrace peace if they thought it could be established in ways that provided for genuine security from military assault and terrorism for everyone, real justice for Palestinians, and acknowledgment of the wrongs that had been done to each side as a first step in healing the humiliations and huge psychic woundings that have happened to Arabs and Jews throughout their histories.
A New Spirit of Open-Heartedness and Reconciliation
We know that no political solution can work without a change of consciousness that minimally includes an open-heartedness and willingness to recognize the humanity of the Other, and repentance and atonement for the long history of insensitivity and cruelty each side has shown toward the other side.
All sides must take immediate steps to stop the discourse of violence and demeaning of the other in their media, their religious institutions, and their school text books and educational systems. They should implement this by creating a joint authority with each other and with moral leaders in the international community who can supervise, and if necessary, replace those in positions of power in Jewish, Islamic and Arab societies who continue to use the public institutions of the society to spread hatred or nurture anger at the other.
Once the other parts of a lasting peace have been set in place, we call upon the parties to this struggle to launch a Truth and Reconciliation Commission, following the model used in South Africa.
We Affirm the Sacredness of All Human Beings
This may well be the last chance we in the advanced industrial societies have to avoid international catastrophe (either environmental or nuclear), if in our way of dealing with the world can model something else besides brute military might, economic self-interest, and indifference to the well-being of others. If not now, when?
It is time to overcome national chauvinism and arrogance, and instead to build ethical and spiritual solidarity among the people of the world. Our well being depends on the well being of everyone else on the planet. So we need to build and strengthen those international institutions that can foster this sense of solidarity which is the necessary foundation for building global peace, social and economic justice, and ecological repair of the planet.
A Global Marshall Plan
The self-described “realistic” version of global politics asserts that we live in a world in which our safety can only be achieved through domination, or others wil
l seek to dominate us first. Of course, when we act on this assumption, it becomes self-fulfilling. We propose, instead, a strategy of generosity-to act on the assumption that people have an enormous capacity for goodness and generosity (without negating the truth that certain conditions pro- mote fear, anger and hatred which sometimes are expressed in horribly destructive ways). For the U.S. and other G8 countries, we call for a Domestic and Global Marshall Plan: for each of the next twenty years, the U.S. and other G8 countries should dedicate 1-2% of their Gross Domestic Product to eliminating global (and domestic) hunger, homelessness, poverty, inadequate health care and inadequate education for the peoples of the world.
We’ve developed the details of a Global Marshall Plan which would carefully monitor and apportion funds in ways that ensure the care reaches the people for whom it was intended. But what is critical is the spirit in which it is done-not as an attempt to manipulate, but as a genuine expression of human caring about each other. The first focus of this Global Marshall Plan would be to eliminate poverty and suffering in the MIddle East. The only protection that we in the advanced industrial countries of the world can ever really have for our lives is to spread a spirit of love so powerful and genuine that it becomes capable of reducing the anger that has understandably developed against the powerful and the wealthy of the world. Similarly, Israel’s security would be greatly enhanced if the money spent on enforcing an occupation and protecting West Bank settlements went instead to build a prosperous Palestinian economy.
The “cynical realists” claim that others are entrenched in their hatefulness, and that war and domination is the only way to battle them. This kind of thinking has led to five thousand years of people fighting wars in order to “end all wars”-and it has not worked. It’s time now to try a new strategy of generosity, both economic generosity and generosity of spirit. As stated above, there will first have to be a transitional period in which real military protections are available to people on all sides of the struggle. But by beginning now to simultaneously commit our economic resources and change the way that we talk about those whom we previously designated as “enemies,” we can begin the long process of thawing out angers that have existed for many generations. Precisely at this moment, when our global economic meltdown requires a fundamental rethinking of how we’ve organized our global economy, we can now shift the funds from military spending and other wasteful production towards building a sustainable global reality–and that requires global economic justice.
Nothing can redeem the deaths and suffering that all sides have faced in this struggle for the past 120 years. But this very moment could also be the time in which the human race realizes the futility of violence and comes together not only to facilitate a lasting solution for the Middle East, but to begin a new era and to recognize that our own well-being depends on the well-being of everyone else on the planet.
The International Middle East Peace Conference should be structured to achieve this end – which means it should have an explicit psychological and spiritual dimension and a visionary agenda.
Unrealistic? Nope.
What has proved unrealistic time and again-whether we are talking about U.S. policy in Vietnam and Iraq or Israeli and Arab policies in the Middle East-is the fantasy that one more war will put an end to wars. The path to peace must be a path of peace.

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