Tag Archives: gaza

From Rage to Empathy – From the River to the Sea

I’ve compiled some resources here that I hope will be helpful to you regarding the raging horror taking place in Israel/Palestine. Please save this and explore them when you have time. Feel free to share.

Blessings for peace and justice,

Alan

No problem can be solved from
the same level of consciousness that created it.”

–Albert Einstein

The recent events in Israel/Palestine tear at my heart and I struggle to find words that will not add to the pain. Fortunately, there are a good number of people who, even in the midst of the worst suffering, have found the wisdom and compassion to build bridges of understanding between the two sides. As I searched, I found many groups of Israelis and Palestinians, Jews and Arabs, who are working together for a real peace. Below are just a few. Please take some time to check them out. I hope that they will be helpful to you, as they have been for me, in facing the horror and being able to communicate with friends or family with whom you may disagree.

Following these few links I offer some of my own thoughts.

Combatants for Peace: These are folks who were Israeli soldiers and Palestinian fighters who’ve laid down their arms and are working for a just peace. Their website: https://afcfp.org/
Also, Here is an 8 minute interview with two of their activist peacemakers: ‘We feel the pain of the other… Our lives are intertwined,’

For a more in-depth view, register for this free event on 12/8 (which will hopefully be recorded): Two of the speakers, Avi and Ahmed, will share how they have been intimately impacted by the violence. Avi is CEO of Rabbis for Human Rights and a survivor of the massacre at Kibbutz Nirim in the Negev. Ahmed is a former Hamas member, second generation refugee, and long-term CfP member. Ahmed has lost over 51 loved ones in Gaza. 

Parents Circle Family Forum: Members of this group have all lost members of their family to violence from the other side. They have chosen to be with each other’s grief and share in developing solutions with goodwill and respect. https://www.theparentscircle.org/en/pcff-home-page-en/

Abrahamic Reunion: Composed of religious and spiritual leaders who are Jewish, Muslim, Christian and Druze who focus on the the common ground of their faiths seeking peace. Here is a good 5 minute video summarizing their work: https://www.abrahamicreunion.org/

Roots: Jews and Palestinians fostering a grassroots movement of understanding, non-violence, and understanding among Israelis and Palestinians. Roots/Shorashim/Judur has created and operates the only joint Israeli-Palestinian community center in the entire West Bank. This safe, holy space hosts social, religious, and educational activities, bringing together hundreds of Palestinians and Israelis who begin to realize that there are two truths, two stories – not one – in this land, and the only way forward is to cherish both.
7 minute video https://www.friendsofroots.net/

The Wall Between – Here is one of the best dialogues I’ve listened to on the conflict. Raja Khouri and Jeffrey Wilkinson, a Palestinian and a Jew, wrote the book The Wall Between – What Jews and Palestinians Don’t Want to Know About Each Other. Excellent insights and thoughtful sharing in their discussion:

My thoughts/feelings: While I have plenty of opinions about what is going on, the rights and the wrongs and possible solutions, this message is about the subjective aspects of the conflict and how we transform our fear and rage into understanding and empathy and the will to act for peace and justice.

Although I am Jewish, my life has been blessed to not feel very much of the sting of antisemitism. Yet I know it is very real and that it has taken some of the most horrid forms imaginable. I know the pain and fear that our people carry from across the centuries through the Holocaust. I understand the hope that Israel would provide, finally, a safe home for the Jewish people. I have watched as suicide bombers and knife wielding terrorists have killed brothers and sisters. I understand how fear makes building walls and shutting people out seem reasonable. And now, the horrific, brutal assault on October 7th has brought about boiling rage and crystalized the thought, “Jews cannot have peace with the people who want to destroy them and their nation.” It’s hard to resist the feeling of wanting to drive Palestinians further away or have them killed, to kill or be killed.

I have not experienced anything close to the suffering of the Palestinian people. I am merely a pained witness to the taking of their land and the presence of an occupying army on the little land left for them – an army watching and controlling all their movements, attempting to turn neighbors against each other by paying and pressuring them to spy on each other. The restrictions, the checkpoints, the raids and home demolitions seem endless. There are also the countless humiliations from aggressive Israeli settlers who continue to take more land, harass people and uproot olive groves with the support of armed soldiers. Many Palestinians have been killed or wounded in raids on their communities by the Israeli army or settlers. It is hard for me to imagine how all this, how all of these things and more, must tear at the heart and soul. It’s hard to imagine not sinking into despair or feeling a boiling hot rage and wanting to drive Israelis out or have them killed, to kill or be killed.

All of the darkest feelings any human can have are understandable in light of all this. Yet all wisdom and spiritual traditions tell us that we are not compelled to act from our emotional reactions no matter how seemingly natural or understandable. As humans, we have the ability to open to a higher vision, to find understanding and empathy for ourselves and those who have been our “enemies.”

Who am I to say what is possible for anyone else? I sit in the safety and comfort of my home in New York. But I am heartened to see that there are Jews and Arabs, Israelis and Palestinians, who have felt the deepest wounds possible and are in the midst of it, who have passed through their own rage and hate, and yet now reach out and embrace those they have been taught to hate and fear. They are teachers for all of us in our personal and collective conflicts.

May we all find some peace in knowing they are here and give them our support.