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Brit Tzedek v'Shalom

Jewish Alliance for Justice and Peace

Not by any means the end ...

TMP Cafe

December 12, 2008

By Patricia DeGennaro

At the end of this discussion on Avraham Burg's book, The Holocaust is Over We Must Rise from the Ashes, we are reminded just how volatile the discussion is around Israel and its survival. We also see that so many want to have and participate in such a discussion. Still the situation remains.

In John Mearsheimer's posting, "Why Isn't Burg's Book a Bestseller?," he asks many pertinent questions about why this is. One referring to American Jews, "Why don't they see that Israel is in serious trouble and that the situation is likely to get worse, not better?" They are out there on 'J Street' as Jeremy Ben-Ami says and in Brit Tzedek v'Shalom, both definitely breaking ground. So the change is beginning and to Burg's credit, he is telling us that it is urgent.

Everyone must continue to talk and question. Without questioning, and looking at possibilities and opportunities, how do we change, evolve from violence or learn? How can policy be formed to help instead of hinder all of our interests? While we, in this case and as Burg says, help Israel move away from "serious trouble."

As someone who has spent years working with both Israelis and Palestinians, I do see progress, but unfortunately one step forward is often followed by a hundred steps back. Palestinians continue destructive behavior and Israelis, as Burg points out, continue to "...have contempt for the Palestinians and do not trust them..." I believe in this dialogue, we have definitely pointed out many of the reasons why this is so. The bottom line all to often seems to be trust. Neither side trusts the other nor do they trust those on the outside.

Although Obama's new national security advisor to be, Jim Jones, worked on improving Israel's security in Jenin and Hebron, he is still talked about in many Israelis newspapers and blogs with suspicion. Even a defense official, Amost Gilad, noted in The Jerusalem Post last month that, "there's certainly an improvement," in security thanks to Jones' work, but harsh words of 'Israeli destruction' and wariness persist around his appointment.

Hillary Clinton too, who tirelessly demonstrated her support for Israel during her tenure in the Senate, is also being looked at with distrust because now it is feared that she will work for two States. I hope that she will for everyone's sake.

Jones was chosen for many reasons, but one is because he is brilliant at helping people work together. He gives them voice and they learn to move toward trust. In any conflict this is, not the end, but must begin as the first step.

Of course all of this is up to the parties and the people. And all need to step up to the plate and do their part. One sided, unilateral or independent initiatives never work.

Avraham began this conversation by saying, "there is a feeling, in all of these places (Jerusalem, Milan, New York, Munich, Washington), that a train is about to depart from a station." That train is to moving beyond, beyond violence, segregation and discrimination and toward a better world for all.

Jeremy Ben-Ami's statement supports this. "[American Jewish Groups] are also voting for change, contributing, taking action, and changing our political landscape to genuinely represent the values of our community. And as our movement continues to grow, we can and we will take back the pro-Israel movement to truly advocate for Israel and America's best interests." I would include here the interests of the Palestinians and Israel's neighbors -- a comprehensive instead of partial security is necessary for a sustainable future.

With this discussion, the hope, the emotions and the anger, all of these thoughtful entries tell us, that although the journey is nothing less than tumultuous, we are on our way.

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