PEACE PROBE by Gene Stoltzfus

Gaza: Just Such A Time As This by peaceprobe
December 31, 2008, 11:09 am
Filed under: Gaza, Immagination, Islam, Palestine - Israel

Today I am in sorrow over what is happening in the region of Gaza.  Is there anything I can do?  Am I limited to government statements, last minute diplomacy, or immobilizing personal outrage?  How do I respond from this place of despair?  What do I tell the children?  Is this the time when the posture of prayer may provide the spirit of openness for a solution waiting to be recognized from the treasures of mystery?

What is at issue in this crisis?  Israel is outraged due to persistent rocket attacks from Gaza.  Hamas is outraged by the Israeli authorities’ ongoing harassment at border checkpoints where supplies and people must travel from Gaza’s confined space to the rest of the world.  

There is also an elephant in the room that most governments across the world are ignoring; the attack and destabilisation of a duly elected government.  In the most recent elections in the Palestinian territories including Gaza, Hamas won with wide popular support.  There were good reasons for this, relating to governance by the Palestinian Authority over the past decade.  But when democracy is promoted across the world and the people elect a government that other nations do not like, by what guide of democracy can the outside world unilaterally decide that this is not acceptable and deliberately undermine that election?  Grumbling about an elected government is part of democracy everywhere, but destabilizing an elected government is not a part of the democratic way of life.  

There is also a stark military economic inequality between the two sides in this violent conflict. Isn’t it suicidal for Gaza residents through their defence institutions, to attack Israel?  Why would anyone make a fight that will surely bring harm to one’s family and neighbors?  One answer may be that when people are pressed to the limit of their flesh, they find a way to struggle.  The people of Gaza are not the first peoples to do so.  Suicidal mission is inherent in any war.  Soldiers in service of a cause – freedom, empire, democracy or religion – know that they may die for that cause .  They believe, sometimes with positive outcomes, that their sacrifice might reach beyond the limits of today’s reason into tomorrow’s solutions.  In this case self sacrifice in their mind is honourable.

Where do we turn for a resolution?  Thousands of board rooms, staff meetings, and grand peace councils set up to deal with crises like this have not produced solutions. When diplomats desperately grope for chimerical cease fires, the time is ripe to feel and acknowledge despair and guilt over lost opportunities.   Will solutions ever come from diplomacy or councils of peacemaking?  Will the 60 year stalemate continue for another 40 years, a full century to explain to the children of Christians, Jews and Muslims?

Alternatively, can the fruits of our  imaginations be ignited through the Gaza crisis of 2008? Can we believe that our collective imaginations of this day might help?  Have we been given one more opportunity to sharpen our seeing and listening for what wants to be revealed from divine mystery?

People who are deeply committed to social justice and peacemaking, religious and secular, are suspicious that meditation belongs only to the pious and spiritual ones who hide behind their exercises to avoid engagement.  The split between people of action and people of prayer is a false dichotomy that appears in every tradition.  If political analysis, dissecting the holy, the manipulation of shame and guilt, or raw activism could have provided the basis for peace in this region of God’s earth, it would have happened long ago.  What has been lacking is the acknowledgement of the mystery of unknown forces at work among and through patterns of violent conflict so heavily focussed on Israel and Palestine.  

The war in Gaza today invites me to prayer.  I don’t promise that prayer will enlighten my imagination in a fresh way. I will try because I know that liberation from false myths of security is born in moments of irrational violence.    I share our common desperation for a break through.  When a sign or nudge to action comes I hope I have the courage to acknowledge it.  And if it comes to me or you,  we can share it with the people on the peace councils, in diplomatic corps, or organizations, share it with all the people on this journey with us.  We may be here for just such a time as this.


7 Comments so far
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Thanks Gene for putting into words what I am feeling about the horrible situation for the people of Gaza, and for the reminder that yes indeed, for better or for worse the Hamas government was elected in a fair election by the people of Gaza.

Comment by Murray Lumley

Warm rays of peace…

I am deeply touched by the thoughts you shared about Gaza and share your intention to engage different solutions and energies for addressing violent conflict. I am a meditator and aside from the active work I do for Mindanao, I spend substantive time for deep meditation and our community has been doing this for the past several years.

Have faith that it is the only way we can heal our wounds and come to peace. For peace, ultimately, is our original nature. In deep silence, we reconnect to that wellspring within and create vibrations that will reach the minds of many
until the world comes to peace… it is a power that people will ultimately surrender to.

“Never have doubt that a few thoughtful people can change the world, in fact, it is the only thing that has”. (Margaret Mead)

Comment by peaceprobe

I thank you for your encouragement and dedication to prayer and meditation. Yes, as one commenter replied, inner peace is essential for both discerning correct action and to be prepared for the indeterminacy in the consequences of those actions.

Comment by George Muedeking

Dear Gene,

Thank you for your reflection on Gaza. I firmly believe that only God can bring about peace. His Plan is embedded in the Holy Scriptures, and we are distributing it. Please look it over, and if you feel it’s worthy, help us. If you;d like to talk to Bob Mendelson, who put it together, send us your phone #, and he’ll be glad to talk to you. A nutshell version is below.

Peace, Carol Wolman, MD

Nutshell Peace Plan:

How can Muslims, Jews, and Christians come to agreement on a workable and just peace plan for the Holy Land?

A good start is by respecting the holy books of all three “Abrahamic” religions, both the Bible and the Qur’an. That’s simply being realistic–
after all, religion plays an important role in the lives of a large percentage of all inhabitants of the region. A peace plan satisfying the holy books includes:

1) One nation including Israel, the West Bank and Gaza, with two “states” based on the 1967 boundaries.

2) Both Israelis & Palestinians recognized as citizens.

3) Jerusalem shared as national capital.
Ramallah & Tel Aviv as the two “state” capitals.

4) Right of return & reparations

There is a peace plan being circulated spelling out these requirements and others according to the Bible. As it so happens, the Qur’an agrees
with what the Bible says, so Muslims can agree with the peace plan, too.

Comment by peaceprobe

Last night some of us were saying the same thing in discussing demonstrations where opposing sides shout insults at one another. The pre-inauguration fast and hundred days campaign to stop torture and shut down secret prisons starts Sunday, and we will keep a presence as close to the White House as we can. All these crises of terrible violence are one issue that needs to be met in our hearts.

Comment by peaceprobe

Thanks for sending me Gene Stolzfus’ moving text which reflectes the concerns and feelings of many of us. I think it is important to work both an an inner and an outer plane. On the Theosophical Order of Service website http://www.theoservice. org there is my text “Light for Iraq” as I believe that meditation and visualization of the Light can help those working in areas of conflict. I believe it is also inportant to appeal directly to the authorities of those in conflict. Thus the Appeal to Israeli and Hamas authorities at the very start of the conflict. At this stage, I think we need a rapid cease-fire so that more fundamental questions can be undertaken. With all best wishes, Rene

Dear Colleague,

As soon as the military operations of the Israeli Defense Force (IDF) « Operation Cast Lead » began in Gaza, the Office to the United Nations, Geneva, of the Association of World Citizens appealed to H.E. Ms Gabriela Shalev, Permanent Representative of Israel to the UN in New York, and to Mr. Khaled Mesha’al, Head of the Political Bureau of the Islamic Resistance Movement (Hamas) urging all parties to act in compliance with international standards of humanitarian law applicable in times of armed conflict, in particular when it comes to the protection of civilians. We also urged that access of humanitarian workers to the wounded be facilitated.

The Office to the United Nations, Geneva, of the Association has joined with others in calling for a rapid cease-fire and for serious negotiations to end hostilities and provide security for all.

Your help in stressing these ideas with government officials in your country and with NGOs is most welcome.

Rene Wadlow, Representative to the UN, Geneva, Association of World Citizens

Comment by peaceprobe

Sisters and Brothers,

Through tear-filled eyes I want to send you a special thank-you for today’s CPT messages by Gene Stoltzfus and Kathleen Kern. They are helping to guide me at a time when I feel so deeply pained and helpless in regard to what is and has been happening to the Palestinians people in Gaza and elsewhere in the area. May the God of love and peace hear our prayers and give special wisdom and strength to all the victimized people in the Middle East and wherever there is ongoing conflict.

God in your mercy give us your peace!

Larry Kehler

Comment by peaceprobe

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