News Release

After Sharon’s Victory: Assessing Prospects for Peace

RABBI ARTHUR WASKOW
Waskow, director of The Shalom Center, is on the steering committee of Break the Silence, an ad hoc group of American Jews who “support Israel and a Palestinian state living at peace alongside Israel.” He is among the signers of a statement being released today on behalf of the Olive Trees For Peace project, which says in part: “We dare not leave peacemaking to the interaction between Prime Minister Sharon and Chairman Arafat. Both peoples must now act at the grass roots. We must take small steps to renew trust between our communities, while keeping fresh before us the vision of a broad and comprehensive peace agreement…. In some Palestinian towns, Israeli soldiers and settlers have even destroyed the olive trees that have been the economic and ecological basis of the town for centuries past and must be for decades to come…. We are joining with Rabbis for Human Rights in Israel — the only Israeli rabbinic association that includes Orthodox, Reform, Reconstructionist, and Conservative rabbis — to help purchase new trees for several Palestinian villages, and then replant these trees and help meet the humanitarian, human-rights, and environmental needs of these villages while the trees regrow.” Waskow added that the Olive Trees For Peace action is intended not only as an immediate way to meet human needs, but also as a first people-to-people step toward ending the Israeli settlements in the West Bank and Gaza, and toward achieving self-government in the Palestinian neighborhoods of East Jerusalem.
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RABBI MICHAEL LERNER
Lerner, editor of Tikkun, a bimonthly Jewish critique of politics, culture and society, and author of Spirit Matters: Global Healing and the Wisdom of the Soul, is rabbi of Beyt Tikkun Synagogue in San Francisco. “Barak proved one thing conclusively: Israel has to choose between settlements and peace — there is no middle ground,” Lerner said today. “The way to build peace is through peace, not through mobilizing forces to crush your opponents. When you insist on having the upper hand and dictating terms, you can sometimes accumulate power, but never reconciliation. Sharon will pose grave dangers not only for Palestinians, whom he is likely to brutalize, but also to the entire region and possibly to world peace…. The path that Israel is following is no surprise. Countries that seek to maintain by force the occupation over another people will eventually drift toward repressive or even fascistic leadership…. The mean-spiritedness in Israel that leads to a Sharon landslide makes many younger Israelis wish to leave Israel and settle in the United States, and many young American Jews to say ‘my parents were Jewish’ rather than claim an identity defined by Israelis as oppressors and people who think that power is more important than love. When the American Jewish establishment rallies around such an Israel, they do more to drive young Jews into assimilation than any fear of anti-Semitism could ever do. So, many American Jews greet the election of Ariel Sharon with great sadness and mourning…”
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For further information, contact at the Institute for Public Accuracy:
Norman Solomon, (415) 552-5378; David Zupan (541) 484-9167