Crossville Chronicle, Crossville, TN

November 2, 2010

Lion and the Lamb: We should strive for an Oasis of Peace

By William W. McDermet III
Chronicle contributor

CROSSVILLE — We are fortunate in Cumberland County to have public space on the Courthouse lawn in Crossville where rallies concerning domestic and international issues can be held. A recent photo in the Chronicle depicts a group with a banner proclaiming "America: pro-Israel." One wonders whether that will provoke a counter-rally with banners proclaiming "America:  pro-Palestine?" Probably not, because our government already treats the state of Israel as our fifty-first state. We yearly give enormous amounts of money to Israel for armaments.

The problems between Israelis and Palestinians are deep-seated and long-lasting, requiring the best efforts from all sides to find honest and equitable solutions. It is interesting that some Jewish writers, living in both America and Israel, are speaking out against the way the state of Israel continues to treat Palestinians.

Marc H. Ellis, professor of American and Jewish Studies at Baylor University, writes, "Jews who argue openly for the freedom of Palestinians, over whom Israel has military and territorial power, are branded as self-haters and traitors. Can we Jews argue for a sharing of the land that would give Jews and Palestinians dignity, equality, and justice? When a claim for rights is made for 'us' and not for 'them,' a hypocrisy surfaces that eats away at the Jewish tradition found in the Hebrew Bible prophets."

Ellis concludes his thoughts saying, "May God give us the strength to testify to a fidelity that is inclusive of Jews and Palestinians, even and especially as the unity that is called for seeks to silence those who protest in the name of justice."

Gordon Levy, a Jew living in Israel, is a thirty-year writer for Ha'aretz and a contemporary Amos-type prophet who says of his country: "Everything is tainted--not just the military and state institutions, but the teachers who fail to protest the closing of Palestinian schools, the engineers who build the fences and roads between the settlements, the journalists who do not report, the artists and writers who remain silent [about the way Palestinians are treated]."

The challenge in this situation is one raised in 1948 when Israel became a state: "But what about the Palestinians?" There is no question that Israel has a right to exist. But Hamas has occasionally lobbed bombs into Israel, adding to the enmity and desire for revenge.

Richard Hoff, writing from California, notes: "The ultimate responsibility for this decade-old blood feud lies with Israel, and only Israel has the power to turn it around. The Hamas madmen have been driven mad by generations of living with Goliath's boot on their neck. The fact remains that if you drive people out of their ancestral land, pen them up in refugee camps, impoverish them, and continue to build 'settlements' on land that many recognize as belonging to the Palestinians, they will hate you and fight back."

It is unfortunate that today's state of Israel, like ancient Israel's monarchy, has opted to copy worldly nation-states in its violent ways of possessing land instead of showing the world the new way to possess land that God intended in the promise to Abraham.

If you are up to reading on this issue, I suggest two books: "The Punishment of Gaza" by Gideon Levy (Verso), and "Footnotes in Gaza" by Joe Sacco (Metropolitan).

Finally, I give you a piece of hope for Lions and Lambs. Neve Shalom/Wahat al-Salam is a community in Israel where humans live together as an "Oasis of Peace" that for more than thirty years has been dedicated to dialogue, cooperation, and a genuine and durable peace between Arabs and Jews, Palestinians and Israelis. (www.oasisofpeace.org).

May we all live in peace and hope.

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This column is sponsored by Cumberland Countians for Peace and Justice, an organization composed of representatives from various churches in the area, and dedicated by the local writers to the theme that the lion and the lamb can and must learn to live together and grow in their relationship toward one another to ensure a better world. Opinions expressed in “Lion and the Lamb” columns are not necessarily those of the Crossville Chronicle publisher, editor or staff. For more information, contact Ted Braun, editor, at 277-5135.