Sunday, January 11, 2009

Because it seems remiss not to . . .

This is a religious blog, not a political one. I did not create this space for the habitation of my righteous indignation, but rather for my theological, and philosophical reflection. That said, it seems that having a JBlog and not saying something about Gaza are mutually exclusive.

As complete a statement as you can hope for of my theology can be found at the top of this blog. The bit of it that is relevant to the current situation is "Human nature being what it is, things sometimes get ugly, and sometimes booty needs kicking in order to create space in which kindness can prevail."

I will now subject you, patient reader, to the exegesis of my own words. Your patience is to be commended.

There are two parts to the statement. "Booty needs kicking," and "kindness can prevail." While Israel is currently doing what is necessary with respect to the first bit, it is my fervent wish that it will follow through with the second bit by reoccupying Gaza for the purposes of rebuilding its infrastructure, creating an education system that does not teach hatred, and extending a thousand kindnesses to the population there so that no organization like Hamas can get a foothold there again. This is a decades long project, and not likely to meet the world's approval, but the success of the Marshall Plan in Germany and Japan shows how well such an approach can work towards the creation of lasting peace and prosperity. On the other hand, if Israel leaves Gaza an impoverished smoking heap of rubble, as Germany was left in the wake of WWI, it should not be altogether surprised if there are similar results.

I hope that Israel will pursue such a rebuilding effort, and I hope that it will enjoy the full support of the incipient Obama administration in such an effort.

While it is tempting, in my cynicism, to note that if wishes were horses, beggars would ride, I will instead conclude with these words from the Israeli national anthem, Hatikvah - עוד לא אבדה תקותנו - still our hope has not passed away. May we see the space created where kindness can prevail on both sides of the Gaza border, and may it do so.


Jon said...

A more excellent and approachable summation of foreign policy I have not seen in a long long time.

While we're wishing, wouldn't it be great if other honorable parties joined in on this reconstruction? A contingent from the Arab League, perhaps? The World Bank? It would make it perhaps easier to accept if it were coming from the world rather than just from Israel.

Jon said...

Another thought, and I hope you'll forgive me for being an interloping conservative Christian here, but reconstruction efforts have been tried all over. Germany and Japan are perhaps our finest examples, but there is also Haiti, Somalia, Bosnia, to say nothing of Afghanistan and Iraq. How does one survey the landscape and determine which kicked booties will best benefit from the second phase of such a policy?

The Reform Baal Teshuvah said...


What matters, I think, to the success or failure of reconstruction is the level of commitment. In most of the instances you cite, the commitment just hasn't been there. There's a difference between reconstruction and building schools for the media.

Jon said...


Commitment is very important, but I would also argue for containment of a sort - Germany and Japan were fairly insulated from any "bad influences" that were interested in keeping them as they were. Palestine by contrast has a whole lot of people who want them to stay in a wretched state. This is a level of counter-commitment that cannot easily be overcome by any amount of good intentions from Washington.

The Reform Baal Teshuvah said...


You are right. I thought that I had addressed this in this post, but it is, in fact in another piece of writing I did on the subject.

Here is the relevant bit:

If this war can break Hamas’ hold on Gaza, and if Israel can penetrate and build up Gaza to the point where it is thriving, independent of the Arab world with its propaganda, then maybe we can bring them into the world under better circumstances.

The problem is that by focusing on the Palestinians without paying attention to the context in which they are stuck we will find that we have no negotiating partner, not because the Palestinians are in anyway obstinate, but because they don’t have any real power.

How do we give them the power they need? By building up Gaza, by providing schools that don’t teach their children to hate, by providing essential services and a bit of the good life, and by (and this is the most difficult) insulating them against the memes so prevalent in the Arab world calling for Israel’s destruction.