Many Chances for a Different Future—Thrown Away

Many Chances for a Different Future—Thrown Away, Thrown Away;

But We Can Start the Healing

by Rabbi Arthur Waskow

On Tuesday I wrote that war between Israel and Palestine was “looming.” {My Shalom Report letter is posted at  )

Now the war is under way. People are dying—more children already than in the infamous murders of four teen-agers. (At this writing, all the newly dead, including kids, are Palestinian.) And last week’s bands of pogrom-seeking street mobs are being dwarfed by “official” bombs and rockets and uniformed troops.

Many— on the scene and in the USA – who felt the killings so shocking when done “unofficially,” feel more callous toward them when done with official flags and fiat. But the blood flows faster.

The claims of “self-defense” (on both sides) boil down to the sour children’s wail, “He hit me first!”  No sensible parents accept that rationale, but instead seek to separate the furious children and nurture the peaceable energies within them.

So the call for a fast on Tuesday – Jews sharing the observance of the Fast of Tammuz with Muslims observing one day of the month-long Fast of Ramadan – as a “Hunger Strike Against Violence” is even more on-point today than it was two days ago.

If you want to join, please click here: — and please also go to the FaceBook sign-up page at

Were there alternatives? Yes—on both sides:

After the kidnapping of the three Israeli youngsters, Hamas could have said clearly that it utterly rejected this kind of violence, and could have joined in seeking out the murderers—even, or especially, if the killers were part of a rogue break-out from Hamas—as seems to be the case.

Whether Hamas had done this or not, the Israeli Government could have focused entirely on pursuing the killers, not using the kidnap/murders as a pretext for destroying all of Hamas through mass arrests and attacks.

Whether the Israeli Government had done this or not, Hamas—instead of authorizing or permitting rocket attacks from Gaza—could have called for Ramadan to become a time of massive nonviolent civil disobedience by Palestinians at the Gaza and West Bank borders, in East Jerusalem, and inside Israel.

Whether Hamas had done this or not, the Israeli government—instead of bombing Gaza and mobilizing troops for an invasion—could have offered to meet with the new “unity government” of Palestine on condition that the rocket attacks from Gaza immediately ceased.

All these chances for a different future—thrown away.

Both sides, and either, could and should have acted to advance nonviolence and peacefulness. But I am not saying the burden of responsibility rests equally on both. The overweening Occupation weighs heavily on the scales, so Israel bears more responsibility to act responsibly – because it is more powerful.

We could almost shape a chant of Lamentation in the wailing melody of Eicha:

All these chances

for a different future –

thrown away, God,

thrown away.


the Season

of Our Sorrow—

Grief and Sorrow.

Yesterday I received the following note from Sheila Musaji, editor of The American Muslim – -  the leading Muslim on-line magazine in the USA:

Salaam, Shalom, Peace,

I posted your article encouraging a fast next Tues. on TAM and tweeted and posted to Facebook. Others in the Muslim community have been sharing and saying they are “in”.

Amomg them is Maha El Genaidi, the President of Islamic Networks Group(ING), and others on this list are also very active in their local and national communities.

Let me know what we can do to add as many names as possible to those of Muslims and Jews who will share this fast. Of course, I would like to participate and to help promote this.

Sheila Musaji, Editor The American Muslim

So the notion of the shared Fast/ Hunger Strike Against Violence on Tuesday is more on-point than ever. If you want to join, please click here: and please also go to the FaceBook sign-up page at

Shalom, salaam, peace— Arthur

Visit Rabbi Waskow’s Shalom Center site at