jump to navigation


Posted by wmmbb in Environment, Human Rights, Israel-Palestine.

This commentary from Rabbi Arthur Waskow is interesting on several grounds.

He observes:

Every night, Jews pray to YHWH, the Holy Interbreathing of all life: “Spread over us the sukkah of shalom.” Not a fortress of invincibility, a palace of triumph and security, a temple of orderly and muttered prayer – but these huts where anything might happen. From outside, a storm. A robber. From inside, an “O!” of radical amazement at the awesome beauty, awesome terror, of the world around us. A breath of some new way of praising the One Who Breathes us.

The teaching: We, all humankind, live in fact in a sukkah, vulnerable. No great Twin Towers, no Pentacle of Power, is invincible. Only the shared knowledge of that truth can bring us peace.

When such an undefended, vulnerable building as the US consulate in Ben-Ghazi, Libya, was attacked, its officials murdered, what happened to its assailants? The citizens of Libya rallied to destroy their military base, scatter their organization of attackers, terrorists.

Out of love they acted. Love for the Ambassador who was bringing expressive love and practical love –- schools, health clinics –-to the Libyan people.

Not Drones and Bombs, but Love responding to love.

Is it impossible for a President who thinks his power is undergirded by Drones and Bombs to notice and publicly applaud the love that is a different kind of power? To reaffirm in the Ambassador’s memory that his path is the one America intends to walk?

Am I saying that violence as a path of resistance to oppressive violence and murderous attack is NEVER justified, that only nonviolence is ethical? No, I am not, though some people I respect do hold that view. I do think that under extreme circumstances, violence in a society’s self-defense may be necessary. But I think that far more often, the use of what is claimed to be self-defensive violence turns out to spark another round of far more violence, whereas creative, persistent nonviolence –- practical love — can often, not always, end tyranny and terrorism.

There is a view that change begins within the person, even before the path is identified and followed. For example, this might be what Gandhi was on about. I don’t believe that Ayn Rand, or the heroes she constructed that “built” there worlds, ever concentrated on her breathing, and in fairness she is not alone.

The notion, apparently contained in the ancient texts of Judaism, of the interbreathing of all life, has a experiential relevance, even to those of us who are not consciously spiritual. To restore our humanity, vested with a consciousness made possible by evolution, by resuming our responsibility for the well being of the Planet’s ecological system.

This is a radical change in human understanding and emotional commitment, and we are not there yet, and we do not have the luxury of time, as was allowed in other instances of historical change. What is fascinating to me is the realization that evolving from a scientific outlook to ancient wisdom is a growth process. Such a qualitative change is missed by much political debate and policy because it changes functioning and the system. The child who walks is not the child who crawls. They engage the world differently.

Secondly, Rabbi Waskow makes an interesting critique of nonviolence. He correctly identifies the national state system is based on violence, and I would go further and suggest that this violence is directed to preserving injustice. The climate crisis should at least alert us to the need and possibility to develop alternative source of energy, which when the possibilities inherent in them are realized will change the power structure and the system. One can respect and understand conservatism as resistance to necessary change, but at some point is becomes a form of mental and social retardation.

I might not be able to walk in the shoes of another culture or a religious tradition that is foreign, but simply standing there is interesting. In a democracy freedom of expression has a purpose to discover the truth and reveal the common good. The problem of Israel is, I think, that of protecting minorities. And yet minorities have to be prepared to protect the rights of others, which is, I think, the problem of Jerusalem.

Rabbi Waskow spoke on the situation in Gaza in 9 January 2009:

Rabbi, there are also Hindus, Buddhists, atheists, Native Americans,Maoris and Australian Aborigines, despite the dispossession of colonialism and the brutality of imperialism.


No comments yet — be the first.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: