Gaza and Making a World Beyond War
by Jim Haber
August 21, 2014
Anything positive that might emerge in the aftermath of Israel’s assaults on Gaza over the last several weeks could have been achieved more humanely and quickly without any of the military action. Despite all the war crimes being committed in Gaza and Israel, Arabs and Jews are working together more widely than ever before. Honesty and integrity persist, beleaguered though they may be. Fear and retribution have not silenced the peacemakers or totally poisoned the hearts of the victims. Most people just want a relatively simple life in which their children can grow and thrive. Over the last fifty or more years sensitive Israelis and Palestinians have called for much of what may yet emerge as a way forward. At every juncture, war and violence could have been averted.
All the past and present bombs, rockets, missile strikes, attack helicopters, F-16s, ground assaults, and sabotaging of peace efforts reduce the success of any outcome. The loss of life, the destruction of people’s livelihoods, the creation of fear and animosity, the subjugation of an essentially imprisoned people all impede efforts for a lasting peace. They only increase the ultimate cost of that peace.
The message of World Beyond War is that the cycle of violence isn’t inevitable, it can end, and most people actually already know this to be true. Rather than denying anyone their legal right to use force to resist military occupation, WBW is spreading the knowledge that injustice has been stopped with nonviolent struggle more than people are led to believe, and that this and all conceivable wars are promulgated on layers of lies that foment envy and hate in people who are more generally humane.
Despite increasingly violent and even genocidal calls coming from the Israeli right, Palestinians continue to work with Israeli and Jewish activists, and such collaborations are deepening. Interest in Jewish anti-occupation groups has skyrocketed. In July alone, over 50,000 new subscribers joined the Jewish Voice for Peace e-mail list, an unprecedented growth spurt, and they’re not all Jewish.
In 2003 support for the invasion of Iraq suddenly emerged from people who days before were in the streets crying “NO!” Instead of making stronger their opposition to the invasion, as soon as their loved ones were in harms way, many families succumbed to the personal cry of “Support the Troops.” The necessary response, “Bring Them Home Now,” was not as widespread. In the midst of Operation Protective Edge, partnerships are continuing in a way that many of them didn’t during the Al-Aqsa Intifada. Not descending into a vengeful rage is a challenge when loved ones are threatened or killed. For a world beyond war, forward-thinking voices need to be amplified as they rise through the rubble. It is hard to worry about the aftermath when you feel under the gun, so the people who continue to work for a brighter future deserve our greatest support.
The effort to realize a world beyond war isn’t helped by any violent conflict. A corollary to Martin Luther King’s assertion that “An injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere” would be: Military action anywhere increases the threat of military action everywhere. Making money off of war should raise eyebrows about the intent of the profiteer. War doesn’t make economic sense and the profit motive promotes more arms use not less. The use of weapons in Gaza (or anywhere) shouldn’t be used as a selling point at arms bazaars. Arms bazaars shouldn’t even exist!
What can we do? World Beyond War believes that standing with one’s family, tribe or nation can be consistent with standing for truth and justice. In fear and anger, many people cast aside lessons learned as children like telling the truth and “two wrongs don’t make a right.” Somehow, we need to stand up to fear mongers, keep heart when some violence still occurs and instill this trust and vision in others. As the Australian aboriginal leader Lilla Watson said, “If you’ve come here to help me, you’re wasting your time. But if you’ve come because your liberation is bound up with mine, then let us work together.”