This is an ad that appeared in the NY Times and LA Times recently. I am helping to spread the message by posting it here. They plan to reprint it in newspapers in Israel, Lebanon and Palestine and would require more funds. So if you’re able, do send in your donations here.

STOP THE SLAUGHTER IN LEBANON, ISRAEL AND THE OCCUPIED TERRITORIES!

Convene an International Middle East Peace Conference to Impose a Final Settlement on All PartiesIn the name of our sisters and brothers suffering and dying in Lebanon, Israel and the Occupied Palestinian Territories, we, the undersigned, call upon the Israeli government, the leaderships of Hezbollah and Hamas, the U.S. Government, the international community and the United Nations to immediately take the following steps to stop the war in these countries:

1. We call upon Hezbollah and Hamas to immediately stop shelling or otherwise engaging in violence against Israel. These actions, which have killed numerous Israeli civilians, terrorized the people of Israel and damaged many towns and cities, played a central role in provoking the current crisis, and do nothing but harm the cause of Palestinian and Lebanese independence and democracy. It is this kind of violence which has over the years pushed many decent Israelis into the hands of its most militaristic and insensitive political leaders.

2. We call upon the Israeli government to immediately halt its attacks on Lebanon. We join with the Israeli peace movement and the thousands of Israelis who demonstrated against this war in Tel Aviv on July 22, 2006 in their insistence that these attacks are utterly disproportionate to the initial provocation by Hezbollah, have killed innumerable innocent civilians, displaced one million people, destroyed billions of dollars of Lebanon’s infrastructure, and will not, in the long run, secure peace or security for Israel. We also call on the Israeli government to supply food, electricity, water and funds to repair the humanitarian crisis caused by its invasion of Gaza.

3. We call upon the U.S. and governments around the world to insist that Israel, Hezbollah and Hamas implement a lasting ceasefire, place an immediate embargo on all shipments of weapons to all parties in the war (including Syria and Iran), and join an international conference to provide security on the border between Israel and Lebanon. By endorsing Israel’s attacks, sending it new supplies of weapons, and explicitly giving it time to do more damage to the people of Lebanon, the U.S. government has become a party to this violence, which, together with American military action in Iraq, is sure to create enmity toward the U.S. and Israel in the Muslim world for generations to come.

These are the minimum steps necessary to stop the violence and the humanitarian disaster in southern Lebanon and the Gaza Strip. But these steps alone will not ensure that the region doesn’t return to an untenable status quo which will again eventually break into violence and new rounds of warfare.

We therefore also issue:

A call for Lasting Peace

We call for an International Peace Conference to impose 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 “impose”? 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 imposes 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); 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 offering full and equal rights to all of its non-Jewish citizens;

An international consortium to provide reparations for Palestinians who have lost homes or property from 1947 to the present, and 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 to protect Israel and Palestine from each other and from other forces in the region who might seek to control or destroy either state; and

d. The quick imposition of robust sanctions against any party that refuses to sign or violates these agreements.

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 to the other side.

Both 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 both 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.

Use This Moment to Challenge the Paranoid and Cynical “Political Realism” That Generates Endless Wars

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 will 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 promote fear, anger and hatred which sometimes are expressed in horribly destructive ways). For the U.S. and other G8 countries, we call for a Global Marshall Plan: for each of the next twenty years, the U.S. and other G8 countries should dedicate 5% 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. This would have to be carefully monitored and apportioned 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.

Similarly, we are aware that eventually the world (plus new and better missiles from the Arab world) will force Israel to accept terms of lasting peace we propose above. But it would be better for Israel, the U.S., and for Jews around the world if Israel were to do so now without being forced, and in a spirit of open-heartedness, generosity and recognition of the Palestinian people’s humanity and equal rights for security and dignity—and it would save countless lives of young Israelis and Arabs alike.

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.

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.

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 impose 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.

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) by modeling something else besides brute power, military might and indifference to the well-being of others. If not now, when?

It is time to overcome national chauvinism and arrogance—but also our own personal sense of powerlessness. We need to build ethical and spiritual solidarity among the people of the world—the necessary foundation for effective political and economic cooperation. Our well being depends on the well being of everyone else on the planet. We need to strengthen international institutions that can foster this sense of solidarity, but we also need to support political and spiritual movements that encourage a transformation of the heart away from the excessive focus on our own individual egos, paths to success and “making it” in terms of fame, glory, sexual attractiveness, accumulation of “things” and money, so that we and all the peoples of the world can put our joint attention to building global peace, social and economic justice, ecological sanity, and a new spirit of mutual caring, genuine and lasting love and generosity. It’s too self-indulgent to let depression about the state of the world render you powerless—your participation is indispensable for changing the world.

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.

We are joining with The National Council of Churches of Christ and many other religious groups in the call for days of prayer and fasting toward the aim of peace, reconciliation and affirming the message in this ad. Use this ad as a way to start discussions with people in your life. And please sign the ad and donate (www.tikkun.org/PeaceAd) so we can reprint it elsewhere. When you do so, include your email address, and we will alert you to other actions that we can take together.

This ad is sponsored by:
Tikkun: A Bimonthly Jewish Critique of Politics, Culture and Society
The Network of Spiritual Progressives and
The Shalom Center

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