Posts Tagged ‘Gaza’

One year after Israel’s Operation “Cast Lead” sent Israeli troops, tanks and missiles into Gaza with the stated goal of ending rocket fire on southern and eastern Israeli cities, the anniversary is being marked more outside of Israel than inside. Other than brief words, Israeli politicians did little to mark the war’s anniversary. A rally in Sderot is set for December 31, 2009.

Israeli media, notoriously short of attention span, are preoccupied with the latest internal political maneuvering. Will all or part of the Kadima party join the government? Will Kadima leader Tzipi Livni be toppled by Shaul Mofaz? Is Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu’s politicking brilliant, opportunist, desperate, or all three?

Surely, the political gamesmanship in Israel is influenced by the fallout from the Gaza War, the harshly critical Goldstone Report, increasing global isolation, and pressure from West Bank Palestinians, if not Gaza’s Hamas leaders.

Israel is seemingly united on its combined defensive crouch and counter-offensive efforts to delegitimize Goldstone. However, cracks in the façade of unity are coming through on the seemingly solid support for the effort to bring home captured Israeli soldier Gilad Shalit, held for more than three years now by Hamas (presumably) in Gaza. Netanyahu played down expectations of Shalit’s imminent release in advance of his Tuesday, December 29, 2009, trip to Egypt.

Political leaders and media from outside Israel commenting on the Gaza War are tending to reflect their built-in biases. UN Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon bemoaned the conditions in Gaza. An Al-Jazeera TV special claimed Israel’s incursion into Gaza failed to achieve its goal of reducing Palestinian rocket fire (even as many other media and Israel itself noted that 2009 was a year of relative quiet but for isolated incidents.

Hamas efforts to whip up its populace seem to have fallen flat. Independent reports indicate that the first day of a planned 22 days of rallies (for each day of the war) went by with a whimper not a bang. Egypt has cracked down on a group of pro-Palestinian activists who sought to mark the event from the Egyptian side of the Gaza border.

A smattering of pro-Palestinian, anti-Israel protests (and pro-Israel counter-rallies) occurred around the world. An effort to make Gaza a “trending topic” on Twitter succeeded but faded in less than a day.

Here is a summary of Shalom Hartman Institute commentary on the Gaza War, the Goldstone Report, and Gilad Shalit:

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A student who attended the Religion and the Challenge of Modernity conference at Grand Valley State University in Michigan earlier this month had this to say about Donniel Hartman’s presentation there:

Donniel Hartman, the first lecturer of the day at this conference, did a very good job not only presenting his thoughts, but introducing a theme that could be common in almost every religion. We all have our challenges with modernity, and it creates multiple identities. When we have these multiple identities, we tend to lose sight of who we really are. Years ago, if you referred to someone as Jewish, you knew everything you needed to know about them. Now-a-days this isn’t necessarily the case. People now have more complex identities. (more…)

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A  survey published on Ynet last week and recounted in the Jerusalem Post said 58 percent of Israeli Jews believe that “two states for two peoples” should be the basis of any agreement with the Palestinians. Thirty-seven percent disagreed, and 5 percent said they didn’t know.

So, there is a majority support for a two-state solution. Unfortunately, the article didn’t indicate if that tally is any changed from previous surveys – if such have been taken. So, we don’t know just how the public mood is changing.

The poll showed a gap between religious and secular Jews: 73 percent of the secular population favor idea, while 70 percent of the national-religious and haredi populations opposed. So far as I can see, the secular-religious split doesn’t tell us anything nothing new. But significant percentages of each group actually agree with the other. There are 30 percent minorities – significant numbers, really – of religious who believe in a two-state solution and vice versa for those opposed. Could these findings suggest new political alliances for creative thinkers?

Rabbi Donniel Hartman made an eloquent case for the moral rightness of the two-state solution in his recent column:

It is obviously questionable whether Oslo has produced a beneficial peace process; what is not questionable is its profound contribution to the Jewish moral political discourse of modern Israel….

What I am arguing, however, is for the continually proud and vocal adoption of the two-state solution as our only political horizon. To do so is to maintain the quality of Jewish values in our political horizon. To fail to do so is to seriously damage the moral and Jewish fiber of Israeli society. Read the full column here.

There was also a wide difference depending on age groups, with 53 percent of survey respondents under 30 being opposed to the idea, and 63 percent of those over 50 agreeing with it.

I found that youth-age split more surprising and interesting. Does this suggest a narrowing window of time: that is, the longer this stalemate lasts, is there less likelihood of a solution as the younger generation has less interest or belief in a two-state solution? Is it because of a larger religious component among younger Israelis prompted by high religious birthrates? Is it a generation radicalized by the Palestinian terror war of the early 2000s and that has already fought two wars in the last three years?

There are many efforts of young people aimed at a two-state solution. One Voice is perhaps the leading group. But is that group a minority effort? Can it overcome the mass feelings of cynicism and anger against the Palestinians? Is a two-state solution – the morally correct one, as Rabbi Hartman says – in danger of falling out of our grasp?

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The Houston Jewish Herald-Voice called Donniel’s lecture on the Gaza War against Hamas there “intellectually honest and authoritative.” Read the full article here. You should be able to view snippets from the lecture on You Tube by visiting the link above, or YouTube directly. See one of the videos below.

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“Shalom From Jerusalem”: Rabbi Morley T. Feinstein, University Synagogue, Los Angeles, CA, talks about his week-long residency at Shalom Hartman Institute, Jerusalem, Israel, as part of the Rabbinic Leadership Initiative.

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We don’t get enough of David Hartman on our main website (mea culpa). But we have a new and, as usual, provocative, piece from Rabbi David on the future of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. He says it far better than I can.

If we allow the God of Creation to channel our particular religious traditions, the future need not be buried by the past. We must never be discouraged by the obstacles encountered in our search for peace. The anger and bitterness of the past must not inhibit new thinking and bold initiatives. Our total commitment to resolve the tragic conflict with the Palestinians will be the finest expression of our loyalty to a tradition which seeks to unify solidarity with all of humanity and gratitude for the gift of Judaic particularity.

Read his entire piece here – and be better off for having done so.

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Israel’s War on Hamas in Gaza seems to be over (for now), but there is still food for thought on the Hartman Institute website on the subject, with more (related) items to come.

Donniel Hartman’s follow-up to his powerful essay on the war’s morality, Fighting a just war against Hamas justly, the succinctly titled, Gaza War: We won, we left, now what?, is drawing almost as many comments as did his first two pieces on the war. I recommend that you go back and read the comments if you already have read the articles, and not to miss the comments if you haven’t read them yet. Not reading comments on websites such as ours these days is akin to missing the credits at the end of a movie; there is almost always something of value tucked in at the end for those with the patience to go through it all.

Read Gil Troy’s two essays on the subject of living in Israel during a war, and why Israel’s democratic instincts are the right ones:

Gil Troy is not a resident Hartman Institute scholar, but he is a scholar in his own right – he is a professor at McGill University in Montreal – an author of several books, a member of the Institute’s Canadian Friends of the Shalom Hartman Institute (known in-house as, “Cafshi”), and the proud father of a Hartman High School student.

In case you missed them, here are two strong pieces by Hartman scholars, each of which uses recent Torah portions as jumping off points for their commentary:

Click on the authors’ names to get a sense of who they are. There will be more about Bill Berk and the rabbis he works with in an upcoming post, as well.

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Rabbi Dr. Donniel Hartman, Shalom Hartman Institute, talks why Israel’s War on Hamas in Gaza is both justified and moral

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Rabbi Dr. Donniel Hartman talks about why Israel’s War on Hamas in Gaza is both justified and moral – and how to end the war in a moral fashion.

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Rabbi Dr. Donniel Hartman, Shalom Hartman Institute, Jerusalem, talks about the way Israel is fighting a just war against Hamas in Gaza, but that the nature of the war may require immoral methods. Nevertheless, the war must be fought. The final question of justice: When to end the war. See a complete video lecture on this. Read his careful and nuanced essay on the subject of Israel’s war against Hamas in Gaza.

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