July 17, 2006

Listen to Michael Lerner

It's ludicrous to try to establish "blame" in the sense of who did what first. Incidents of violence on the part of Palestinians and their allies cannot be separated from the constant violence of the Occupation, the continual kidnapping by the IDF of Palestinian civilians who are held in prison camps without charges or trial for as long as six months, often enduring torture as documented by the Israeli Human Rights Organization B'Tselem.

Nor can the violence of the Occupation be separated from the misguided policies of many Palestinians who have never been willing to unequivocally acknowledge the legitimacy and right of the Jewish people to the same kind of national self-determination in the land of Palestine that Palestinians rightly demand for themselves; nor from the equally misguided fantasy that peace and prosperity will come from violence rather than from the non-violent strategies used by Gandhi, MLK Jr., and Mandela in his later years.

In my books Healing Israel/Palestine (North Atlantic Books, 2003) and The Geneva Accord and Other Strategies for Middle East Peace (North Atlantic Books, 2004) I show that both sides have a legitimate narrative that needs to be heard and recognized by the other side; that neither side will ever prevail through violence, and that each side needs to acknowledge that it has been unreasonably cruel and insensitive to the needs of the other.


[P]rogressives need to begin with a new discourse, one that demands from both Israelis and Palestinians -- and their Arab supporters -- that they reject violence and crimes against humanity on all sides (e.g. Hezbollah's current bombing of civilians in Haifa and Tsfat as well as Israel's punishment of whole nations), and realize that their only path to peace is one that starts from a place of atonement for their own sins, and a new spirit of open-hearted generosity toward the other side, recognizing it as the only way that either side will achieve what they want in terms of social justice, peace and security.
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