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As a religious person who holds progressive views on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, I have been subjected to polite and not-so-polite criticism from family members, friends, neighbors, and leaders of religious communities.  With experience and focus, I have been able to withstand their accusations of being naive, anti-semitic, anti-Israel, self-hating, and a terrorist-lover.  I don't mean to state that those names don't hurt, of course they do.  What I do mean is that those words, generally, don't get me into pointless arguments, don't get me to doubt my religious and political views, and, most importantly, don't get me to stop advocating for a more just and equal resolution for the people of Israel and Palestine.  

There are many people I know, however, who struggle with the negative reactions to their political and/or religious views within the I/P conflict.  This causes many of them to shy away from getting involved in solving the problem.  Through my posts, I hope to reach those people who have struggles between what they were taught and what they view with their own hearts and minds.  It is my desire to educate them about about the D.C. related aspects to the conflict and help find a way to put their knowledge into constructive action.

It seems, to me, that many religious, political, business, academic, and media leaders with less progressive views of Israel and Palestine have been able to define religions and craft U.S. Middle East policy ideas by framing them within such direct narratives as the Holocaust, anti-semitism, radical Islam, Islamo-fascism, nuclear war, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, and Adolph Hitler.  By repeating these emotional ideas in religious institutions, think tanks, the halls of governments (local, state, and national), and the media, they have successfully been able to convince many people that those ideas are religiously, morally, and patriotically righteous.  After fearfully tapping into people's base feelings, they are able to get their followers to passionately advocate for these policies and donate to supportive candidates.

Since I view the policies of these groups to have been a failure in obtaining a just peace, I work for the advancement of more progressive I/P ideas.  With the timeframe for a negotiated Isreal-Palestine peace down to 9-12 months, the time has come for me to use the model of the more traditional "status quo" groups to find those direct ideas that will emotionally resonate with progressive secular and religious (and those in-between) segments of the I/P community.

After questioning progressive I/P leaders about my concerns, I heard many understandable and legitimate ideas.  Many of them focused on the academic and intellectual discussions about the conflict.  I also noticed that there is a reactive and defensive nature to many of our comments.  While I believe that these words and ideas are incredibly important, they are better left to those people in the Movement that are much more capable than myself.

Just when I started to give up hope in my potential contributions, a friend gave me a seemingly ordinary bookmark from Jewish Voice For Peace.  It contained the simple and profound statement "Promoting a U.S. foreign policy in Israel and Palestine based on Peace, Democracy, Human Rights, and Respect for International Law".  There it was!

Peace: the absence of war or other hostilites

Democracy: government by the people, in which the supreme power is vested in the people and exercised by them through a system of representation usually involving periodically held free elections

Human Rights: rights (as freedom from unlawful imprisonment, torture, and execution) regarded as belonging fundamentally to all persons

International Law: a body of rules that control or affect the rights of nations in their relations with each other

After being inspired by these thoughts, I was able to come up with a few more:

Equality: the state of being equal (like in quality, nature, or status)

Justice: the quality of being fair

Compassion: sympathetic consciousness of others' distress together with a desire to alleviate it

Tolerance: sympathy for beliefs and practices differing from or conflicting with one's own

These ideas are emotional, straight-forward, form the basis of all world religions, and build the foundation for our own nation.  Thanks to the good people at Jewish Voice For Peace, I have found a way to rebuff critics, as well as frame policy ideas and lobbying efforts.  Even though there are tremendous horrors associated with the conflict, the end result has to be an optimistic push for something better.  I will choose to follow those beloved religious and secular ideas to help move the discussion from hatred and fear to love and acceptance.  I can only hope that there are enough people out there to join in this endeavor.

To those who want to find a way to create fear and promote hatred and bigotry, I ask you to please find somewhere else to peddle your pessimism.  There is just not enough time to spend on those viewpoints.

For those who care about resolving the I/P conflict and who share in these ideals, please consider starting with one (or more) of these steps today:

  1. If you are in or around Washington D.C. this weekend, the American-Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee (ADC) is holding its National Conference.  There will be panel discussions on the Middle East featuring Reps. Donna Edwards, Keith Ellison, Brian Baird, and John Conyers.  In addition, Professor John Mearsheimer, Professor Saad Eddin Ibrahim, and Israeli Knesset Minister Said Naffaa will speak.  Also, late today it was announced that President Bill Clinton will deliver the keynote address on Saturday evening.  For information on registering, please go here.
  1. Support J Street, the one year old pro-Israel/pro-peace organiztion, by donating to any or all of their endorsed candidates.  You can go here to view their candidates from the 2008 election cycle.  You can donate to these candidates at this page.  Just put the name of the candidate(s) into the comment section and J Street will make sure that 100% of the contribution goes to that official.
  1. For those Democratic officials that do not appear on J Street's list, you can donate to their campaigns through the ActBlue fundraising page, A Dream Of Peace: Justice and Equality For The People Of Israel And Palestine.
  1. Sign up for action alerts from the following groups: J Street, Americans For Peace Now, Arab American Institute, ADC, Churches For Middle East Peace, Brit Tzedek v'Shalom, Jewish Voice For Peace
  1. This October 25-28, attend the First J Street National Conference: Driving Change, Securing Peace.  Information and Registration can be found here.
  1. Contact the various organizations from my blogroll and encourage them to find their common ideals in order to effectively lobby as a large multi-cultural, multi-ethnic, and inter-faith group.  They each may have some different platforms, but they all share the humane and progressive ideas discussed in this post.

If there are any progressive I/P groups that I have left off, I apologize.  Please offer recommendations and links in the comments section.

Originally posted to rbguy on Mon Jun 08, 2009 at 08:11 PM PDT.

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Comment Preferences

  •  you don't have to be someone who (4+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    sofia, Noah in NY, rbguy, soysauce

    "believes" to have a reality based view of this matter. As you have seen, belief only leads to falsehoods when reality is at stake. Thanks for looking at the truth.

  •  We don't want no more trouble (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Noah in NY, rbguy

    Until the philosophy which hold one race superior
    And another
    Is finally
    And permanently
    And abandoned -
    Everywhere is war -
    Me say war.

    That until there no longer
    First class and second class citizens of any nation
    Until the colour of a mans skin
    Is of no more significance than the colour of his eyes -
    Me say war.

    That until the basic human rights
    Are equally guaranteed to all,
    Without regard to race -
    Dis a war.

    That until that day
    The dream of lasting peace,
    World citizenship
    Rule of international morality
    Will remain in but a fleeting illusion to be pursued,
    But never attained -
    Now everywhere is war - war.

    And until the ignoble and unhappy regimes
    That hold our brothers in angola,
    In mozambique,
    South africa
    Sub-human bondage
    Have been toppled,
    Utterly destroyed -
    Well, everywhere is war -
    Me say war.

    War in the east,
    War in the west,
    War up north,
    War down south -
    War - war -
    Rumours of war.
    And until that day,
    The african continent
    Will not know peace,
    We africans will fight - we find it necessary -
    And we know we shall win
    As we are confident
    In the victory

    Of good over evil -
    Good over evil, yeah!
    Good over evil -
    Good over evil, yeah!
    Good over evil -
    Good over evil, yeah!

    My first wish is to see War, this plague to mankind, banished from off this earth. George Washington, 1796 farewell address

    by BOHICA on Mon Jun 08, 2009 at 08:44:47 PM PDT

  •  Your diaries are.. (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Noah in NY, rbguy, soysauce

    ..much appreciated here, rbguy -- and thanks for your personal narrative.  Unfortunately, folks with the more hard-line views seem to predominate on these threads.  You're one of the exceptions.


    •  Thanks for the kind words, Sofia (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      sofia, Noah in NY, soysauce

      I completely understand your point, as well as agree with it.  I'll keep plugging away, however, and hope that something changes within the larger DK community.

      •  Me too. :) n/t (3+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Noah in NY, rbguy, soysauce
      •  btw.. (3+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Karmafish, Noah in NY, rbguy

        ..I believe most in the dkos community actually support your point of view, unfortunately though, the majority tend to stay away from these threads, leaving the discussion to the hard-liners on both sides.

        •  Your idea makes sense (2+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          sofia, Noah in NY

          Do you have any idea how it would be possible to begin to engage that community?

          •  That's the problem with this issue.. (2+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            Noah in NY, rbguy

            ..the broader community tends to stay away because of the hardliners and acrimony so prevalent in these threads.   If you can write a diary with a catchy title, and attention getting first paragraph, you may manage to get on the recommended list, where many will see your work.  

            Lately a few I/P diaries have made it there, but none of those have been action oriented like yours; i.e., something folks could do to help achieve a viable Palestinian state.  My impression is many of the commenters in these threads aren't interested in the two state solution.  More, they promote the one-state idea, or don't want to hear any criticism of Israel.   Keep trying. :)

            •  Sofia, you may be referring to me as (2+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              sofia, rbguy

              one of the "hard-liners" on the Palestinian side.  I am an agnostic on the path to peace.  If a two-state solution is viable, I'll accept it.  I think one-state with equality and civil rights for all is a more just solution, but I am also a pragmatist.  

              From my knowledge of the on-the-ground situation, I am doubtful that two states will come to pass, but that doesn't mean I wouldn't celebrate it if it does.

              I also appreciate your diaries, rbguy.  I hope you make it to the rec list.  We need your voice.

              The three hardest tasks in the world...: to return love for hate, to include the excluded, and to say, "I was wrong". Sydney J. Harris

              by soysauce on Tue Jun 09, 2009 at 02:56:20 AM PDT

              [ Parent ]

          •  My two-cents (3+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            sofia, rbguy, soysauce

            I'm sorry I'm late to this diary. I just 'discovered' it via Mondoweiss.

            I'm afraid that until people come to grips with how much of their present and future lives (and that of their children) depends on the I/P situation, they will not invest much energy in it. There is so much noise that calls for their attention, in ways that appear more immediate than the I/P conflict.

            One must remain hopeful however and go on doing what must be done, which is to disseminate as much information as one can in order to break the wall of silence that surround the real nature of that conflict, especially our participation in it. Once we become aware of that last point, it hurts our soul so much that the only solace is to speak out, to bear witness and to engage in a dialogue geared towards peace and justice for all involved.

            P.S. I think this is a seminal diary that you should consider publishing again at Kos.

  •  Thanks for the diary (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    rbguy, soysauce

    I hope this diary makes the recommended list so it has wider audience.  

    "As president I will recognize the Armenian genocide." Barack Obama

    by palestinian professor on Mon Jun 08, 2009 at 10:26:16 PM PDT

  •  rbguy, (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Noah in NY, rbguy

    I like this diary, but I have a question.

    You refer quite a number of times to the progressive position on I-P.

    What is the progressive position, in your view?

    "War does not determine who is right - only who is left." - Bertrand Russell

    by Karmafish on Mon Jun 08, 2009 at 10:50:22 PM PDT

    •  Thanks for your comment (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      sofia, soysauce

      I'm glad that you appreciated the diary.  I have to get off to work, so I don't have a chance right now to answer your question.  Hopefully, I'll be able to do that this evening.

      If I don't get a chance, please ask the question at a future post.

    •  Hmmm, the progressive I/P position (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Rusty Pipes, sofia, soysauce

      I guess I'll look within the context of the ideas brought forth in the diary.  I know that this will be incomplete, but these are some personal ideas.  I don't expect all of the I/P groups to fit this model.  I do feel that they all honor the general ideas.  (note: I will mention Palestine as a nation in the discussion, since it seems too difficult and dishonest, for me, to not write it this way.)

      Peace: a cessation of hostilities, especially the end of terrorizing and killing citizens.  This involves a cessation within each nation and between nations.

      Democracy: Holding free elections.  Both sides honoring the results of valid elections, no matter what group has won.  Once again, between and within nations

      Human Rights: establishing the human rights of citizens within each nations.  Also, having the one nation honoring and respecting the rights of the other (like the definition mentions: freedom from unlawful imprisonment, torture, and execution)

      International Law: Honoring existing international law to protect the rights of each nation.  Joining all international treaties and bodies of justice, such as the ICC and the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty .  Allowing impartial international bodies to investigate and enforce any alleged violations.

      Equality: Encouraging and protecting the ideas that all people are valid and have the same rights, both within each nation and between the nations.  The elimination of any and all laws that seek to place one group over another.

      Justice: The ability of individuals to seek retribution for any violations of their rights through national and international courts.

      Compassion: Honoring the history and struggles of each people.  Understanding and accepting the history of Jewish persecution, especially the Holocaust and the Nakhba, the displacement, and Occupation for the Palestinian people.

      Tolerance: Acceptance, without persecution, of the many differences within and between the people of each nation (examples- religion (or lack of religion), sexuality, gender)

      The creation of a Unified Palestinian Govt.

      One or Two-State solution is to be determined by the parties themselves, Israel and a Unified Palestinian Government.

      A sharing of Jerusalem, or making it an international city.

      End of all present settlement growth.  In terms of existing settlements, the parties (Israel and a Unified Palestinian Govt.) can determine the ideas of territorial annexation and borders.  For those settlers that will be brought within the negotiated borders, there should be compensation.

      Allow each nation to have sovereign borders and access to air and sea routes for travel and trade.

      Each nation to have the means to defend itself, in case of violations of its sovereign territory.  

      With respect to the U.S. dynamic: honor the results of fair elections.  Monitor the use of any traded weaponry.  If any use of these weapons violates existing U.S. law, then penalties should be addressed.  Create and enforce penalites for any group that violates existing treaties and memos of understanding.

      As I stated at the beginning, I'm sure that this is incomplete and if you have any other thoughts or suggestions, please let me know.  I also want to repeat that these are some of my own ideas, which are just the opinions of one person who does not have to deal in the world of negotiations.  I can understand that groups more directly and intimitely involved in these issues have a much more delicate line to walk since anything too progressive has the ability to weaken their standing.

  •  Your diary reminded me of a song. (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    WB Reeves, rbguy

    Sinead O'Connor has a beautiful song on her album Theology that she dedicates to the Israelis and the Palestinians called "If I Had a Vineyard". The lyrics are based on God's words to warring tribes in Israel found in the book of Isaiah.  This song makes me weep every time I hear it.

    And he looks for justice but beholds oppression
    And he hopes for equality but hears a cry
    Jerusalem and Judah
    This is God's reply

    Sadness will come to those who build house to house
    And lay field to field 'til there's room
    For none but U to dwell in the land
    Oh in the land
    And sadness will come to those who call evil good
    And good evil
    Who present darkness as light and light as darkness
    Who present as sweetness only the things which are

    For the vineyard of The Lord of Hosts
    Is the house of Israel
    And the men of Judah his pleasant plant

    Oh that my eyes were a fountain of tears
    That I might weep for my poor people

    The three hardest tasks in the world...: to return love for hate, to include the excluded, and to say, "I was wrong". Sydney J. Harris

    by soysauce on Tue Jun 09, 2009 at 02:19:21 AM PDT

  •  please dont call it GOOD BOOK (0+ / 0-)

    aside from the "gospel" of Nathew, there is very little good in it and a whole lot of murder and mayhem. And the grief this book has inspired is anything but good.

    Proudly Pagan.

    •  Um (0+ / 0-)

      If you mean the Gospel of Mathew that is of course part of the so-called New Testament. I'm not certain it has any relevance here.

      •  it has relevance. . . (0+ / 0-)

        . . .in that it is the only part of the book that is good. It should not be referred to as the "good book". The bible with a lower case "b" is suffiscient description.

        •  What makes you assume (0+ / 0-)

          that the New Testament is part of what the diarist considers the "good book?"

          •  Maybe. . . (0+ / 0-)

            I jumped to conclusion in assuming he meant the bible (which is often called the "good book"). But I gather he was talking about a religious book of some sort and, in my humble opinion, none of them basically are any more than shitpaper.

            •  You're entitled to your opinion (0+ / 0-)

              My point is that three major religions consider the so-called Old Testament to be holy scripture. Only one of these gives identical status to the so-called New Testament. Shouldn't assume that the diarist falls into the latter category.

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