Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Seduced By Peace

Turn from evil and do good; seek peace and pursue it.
Psalm 34:14

Peace is not an absence of war, it is a virtue, a state of mind,
a disposition for benevolence, confidence, justice.
Baruch Spinoza

Many people want peace in the Middle East between Israel and its Arab neighbors; many think, however, that it can only come about through war and vanquishing the "enemy"; and some think only by the appearance of the Moshiach among Jews, or the Messiah among Christians. It seems the few persons in Israel, and elsewhere, today think that peace can come about the conventional way, through talking and dialogue with your enemies. Such was the way it was done in the past, and quite effectively, might I add.

A recent poll among Israelis puts doubt into the conventional thinking. After Israel and Hamas agreed to an Egypt-brokered ceasefire, the majority of Israelis voiced dissent with the actions of Benjamin Netanyahu's government, considered right-wing by most accounts. The majority of Isrealis wanted a ground invasion, a full-blown military assault in Gaza. Capturing the sentiment is Caroline Glick of The Jerusalem Post, who writes ("The Trap That Arik Built") in a November 22 column with emotionally charged language about the many failures of former Prime Minister Ariel Sharon`s policies regarding Gaza:
The millions of Israelis who opposed the withdrawal from Gaza do not seek personal vindication for being right. They didn’t warn against the withdrawal to advance their careers or make their lives easier. Indeed, their careers were uniformly harmed.
They did it because they were patriots. They felt it was their duty to warn their countrymen of the danger, hoping to avert the disaster we now face. They should be listened to now. And their voices should be empowered by those who shunned them, because only by listening to them will we develop the arguments and the legitimacy to do what needs to be done and stop fighting to lose, again and again and again.
Ariel Sharon, once a war hero, is now one of the chief the reason for Israel's security problems— in the end he was weak. Patriotism. Tribalism, Nationalism. Such are the ideologies ruling the hearts of men (and women) today. Now, for such individuals, well-meaning in their strong language, peace is not really possible other than through the instrument of war and violence. The Orwellian language that "war is peace" has become frightingly normative, so much so that disagreement or holding dissenting views is not possible. A nation under siege has to always fight for peace, and cannot find the time to work toward peace. But what is the end result of such thinking?of such actions? We see some of it today in Israel.

Or, perhaps, peace will come through the Messiah. For such individuals, perhaps unaware of their inner religious reasoning, all man-made peace initiatives are false. And, accordingly, a dangerous seduction.

Alas, some of us are seduced by peace.