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July 20, 2015

Dusk, here in cooled-off Jerusalem. The days are wicked, the sun merciless. But here on the mountain…

  • A three day old crescent of moon lingers longer in the sky each night.
  • The desert cool returns each evening, no matter how bad the day has been.
  • The State Prosecutor decided to open a criminal investigation into possible misbehavior in the Prime Minister’s residences.

Reasons for hope.

Werner Erhard used to teach that “hope is below the line.” The act of hoping, he meant, moves nothing forward. No results.

Today, I think differently of hope, which is what we “sell” at the Sulha Peace Project. We create hope, package it, and people take it home with them, like a NYY hat on Cap Night at Yankee Stadium.  Hope has substance, emotional-spiritual substance. It is no less real than people’s experience of our spirit will be, after we’re gone from the earth.

We are heading down a rough and ragged road. The option of a banal existence, here in our privilege, lures us daily. Shall I board the bus to Susia in the Hebron hills on Friday to protest the threatened removal of already-displaced Palestinian families, to make way for IDF firing zones? Or will I do some paperwork, then chop some wood in preparation for next winter, and mess around in the garden? Privileged decisions. We’re part of the problem or part of the solution.

On TV this evening, Malachi Rosenfeld’s mother spoke of his June 29 murder at the hands of a terrorist who was released in the Shalit deal. She had already lost a son in the army some years before. She bemoaned that, had there been a death penalty for terrorist murderers, her son would be alive today. The farthest thing from her mind is that, had we ended the occupation, her son would be alive today. She is a settler, as was Malachi. Her pain is palpable.

Our hearts open to her loss, and we grasp at the possibility of joining hands with her and all Israelis in order to get a grip on the steering wheel of this careening country before it goes completely out of control. Dark winds howl through our lives, in this scorching summer.

August 10, Sulha will join with the Japanese Peace Caravan as we hold a Tribal Fire at the Everest Hotel in Beit Jalla, “area C,” where Palestinians live and Israelis are allowed to be. The guests will bring with them a flame whose origin was one of the burning buildings in Hiroshima in 1945. At the heart of the evening will be listening circles, where we will engage with the Palestinians to understand and express how each of us sees the present and future of our relations. We’ll work with translators so the Japanese are included in the forum, as they carry with them the reminder of humankind’s extreme aggression.

Many Palestinians are under pressure to cease common activities with Israelis, calling them “normalization.” In the recent past, a gathering at the Everest was disrupted and forcibly ended by local Palestinians who opposed the cooperative meeting. The Jewish left is scheduled to meet in Tel Aviv Friday at Peace Now’s annual political conference. Now some are arguing that we should forego the conference and get to Susia. For months, the left has been slapping at the waves of the tsunami of post-election despair.  Everyone’s busy with the blame game.

Are we, the people on both sides who have everything to gain from peace, are we going to fight among ourselves rather than confront the politicians’ self-serving stalemate? When we most need to nourish each other, will we instead eat each other for breakfast? The 9th of the month of Av is approaching, the date when Jews mourn an assortment of historical disasters, especially the destruction of the Second Temple. It is widely acknowledged that one of the central causes of our defeat then was our deadly infighting.

Yet the anti-normalization Palestinians and the righteous Israeli leftists are still talking. It’s the zealots we have to fear. The Kahanists and Jihadists. Zealots sucked our people to dis-unity around the 2nd Temple. Today, zealots seek again to drag us to disaster. We must bring the conflict into discussion, debate. We must speak heart-to-heart, reaching out to those we can still approach.

Ask a right-winger (I’ve done it many times) for his vision of the future, if things work out as he dreams. Aside from eternal victimization and struggle for survival, he sees no future. This may be horrifying, but is it only horrifying? Or can we also see it as his personal humanity’s swan song, a resignation to no alternate future, and if it is that, will we not reach out with our hope and plans, and even our love, and invite him to be our partner? Will we give up on him? Or will we design the craft and tools we must learn if we are to get him to open his door and offer us a cup of coffee as we sit down to talk?

Naïve! you may say.                                                                                                                                                               Yes, and proud of my naiveté! It’s what keeps me going. It’s where my hope comes from. My hope comes from those moments at Sulha when I greet a 20 year old from Jenin and, being the first Israeli he has ever talked with, to look into his eyes and say, “Tsharafna,” we are honored.  If being “realistic” means assessing the future’s possibilities on the basis of the past, then I’ll stay naïve. I am interested in laying new tracks, not clattering to hell on the old ones.

Yoav Peck




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One Comment
  1. Meir permalink

    Thank you Yoav. you may call yourself naive but I call that courageous and a men with vision and principles. Also, we hold naive as a negative or wimpy connotation but it actually gives you access to beauty and simplicity that strong minded and zealous person can not see.


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