This is a forward from Michael Lerner. For more information about the Tikkun Community, go to http://www.tikkun.org. (The phrase tikkun olam means literally "repairing the world.")
I'm writing to ask your help in building a national Day of Fasting in support of peace in the Middle East, an End to the Occupation, and an End to the Violence on both sides. That Fast day will be March 27th from morning till dark (after which many Jews will begin our first night of Seder, at which we will be bringing up the issues of the Occupation, using the Haggadah Supplement printed in TIKKUN Magazine).
But I'm writing also for some immediate help from you in support of the IDF Reserve Officers who are refusing to enforce the Occupation because their own personal experience has led them to conclude that there is no way to serve on the West Bank and Gaza without violating universal standards of human rights, and without further intensifying the violence in ways that just generate new terrorism against the Jewish people and new acts of cruel retaliation against the Palestinian people. So I'm asking your financial support for an ad that we are taking in the NY Times in support of the reservists.
I also want your help in our ongoing project to do education around this issue in your area. Even though this might seem to be a stretch for you because these issues may not be your main concern at the moment, I'm writing to you personally because I feel certain that if you read the material below carefully that you'll agree that you actually should be supporting this venture and can do so without undermining the other things you are involved with. Let me explain.
People in the Israeli peace movement informed me today that Ariel Sharon's recent escalation of attacks on Palestinian towns was his strategy to deal with the Saudi peace proposal: by ensuring that the violence and inevitable response by Palestinians (the horrendous acts of terror this past weekend) would weaken the support for the Saudi proposal (which Sharon opposes because he wants to maintain Israeli control over the West Bank and Gaza and has never been in favor of a negotiated withdrawal). The Occupation is close to 35 years old--and in the last few weeks has been enforced in such a terribly oppressive way that people all around the world are expressing deep concern.
Many Israelis are coming to realize that these policies of Ariel Sharon have led to a dramatic escalation of fighting and insecurity rather than security. They have also put Israeli citizens who serve in the Israeli Reserves (mili'um) in an impossible position: because in order to enforce the Occupation, the troops are frequently asked to violate basic standards of human rights, and sometimes to wantonly kill or injure Palestinians.
Recently, these Israeli soldier/citizens are saying that they can't do this any more.
As of today, 320 reserve army officers in the Israeli Army have signed a statement saying that they won't serve on the West Bank and Gaza. These are people who have already served their country, have proved their willingness to risk their lives, but in the course of doing so have witnessed human rights abuses so dramatic and so inevitable when trying to enforce an occupation that they will no longer cooperate.
I am turning to you and to people from every faith, ethnicity, and spiritual background and asking for your help.
Would you please sign the statement of support for them--and help us raise money so that we can publish the ad below in both US and Israeli newspapers? And would you please join the international Day of Fasting on March 27th--in support of the Israeli officers who wont serve, in support of the demand to End the Violence (on both sides), and in support of the demand to End the Occupation? And let your local newspapers and media about these efforts--and convince everyone you can to join the Fast?
This is not just for Jews--the US government has given Ariel Sharon a blank check to escalate the repression on the West Bank. As people committed to non-violence, we also urge Palestinians to follow the strategy of Martin Luther King, Jr. and Gandhi. But at this moment, we need non-Jews and Jews to stand up and be counted.
The Contributions should be sent to Tikkun, 951 Cragmont Ave. Berkeley, Ca. 94708 (credit card info can go to RabbiLerner@tikkun.org) and we will tear up checks or credit card info if we don't get enough money to pay for the ad (unless you specifically specify to "keep the money for other projects in support of the reservists").
Unless you specify not to use your name, we will print the names of anyone who donates at least $250, and if we get enough money to make it a big ad, with more room, then we will print the names of anyone who donates $100 or more.
Please endorse and spread the word about the International Day of Fasting from sun-up to sundown on March 27th--in support of the call to End the Violence on Both Sides, End the occupation, and support the reservists. Also, we are asking Jews to raise these issues at their Seder table on the night of March 27th after the fasting ends (1st night of Passover), and Christians to talk about it in church during Holy Week.
After March 27, and particularly if we succeed in raising enough money to print this ad, we will go into the next phase of our campaign. We will try to create local community meetings with "public opinion shapers" in every corner of the U.S. We will also try to create a network of students and professors on campus who share The Tikkun Community perspective on these issues--and to educate others there. Israeli policy is supported by the US government which blocks every effort at international intervention, vetoes U.N. resolutions calling for Israeli policy to change, and essentially gives Israel a blank check to follow self-destructive policies. We hope to educate community leaders and opinion shapers to a new way of thinking about the Middle East: one that reflects compassion for both sides and a serious commitment to non-violence, justice, and openhearted reconciliation.
We are in the process of developing a 60-80 page booklet to tell the story of the Middle East in a way that shows how decent people on both sides could misunderstand and misconstrue the other side, and then act in ways that gave the most hateful elements in both camps "evidence" for their worst fantasies. We believe that this kind of re-understanding of the situation is necessary on both sides--because We need your help to connect with people of influence, people who shape public thinking, not only specifically on foreign policy issues. Some of these people might be journalists or others working in media. Some might be businessmen and corporate leaders. Some might be judges, doctors, academics at local colleges and universities, writers, high school teachers, union leaders and activists, social change activists who have not dealt with this particular issue, leaders of non-profits, government employees or elected officials (though the latter are least likely to be responsive, given their fear that the organized Jewish community might endanger their future should they speak up critical of Israel's current policies). There are people of influence in your community whom you know or have a way of contacting and who would be more likely to be responsive to you than to us as total strangers. What we are hoping is that you might play a role in creating a gathering of such people in your community or at your home. If you think you might do that, or even if you just want to send us the phone numbers and/or emails of those people whom you think we should invite, please contact Liat at email@example.com to let us know. Please consider signing and supporting the ad, printed below, and the Fast day I've described. And let us know what you will be doing. And follow the discussion of our plans and our strategy by keeping in touch at www.TIKKUN.org
Many blessings to you.
Rabbi Michael Lerner
HERE IS THE AD FOR THE NY TIMES Support the Israeli Army Reservists who say "No" to the Occupation Over 320 brave Israeli Army Reserve Officers have risked their careers and now face jail sentences because they publicly refuse to serve in the Israeli army in the West Bank and Gaza. These soldiers have witnessed their own army violate human rights, practice torture, destroy homes, and perpetrate violence against civilians, acts that have become "necessary" to maintain an oppressive Occupation. They won't be silent partners to the Occupation any longer. Nor will tens of thousands of Israelis who have taken to the streets in demonstrations against the Occupation.
Neither will we.
Join with us and the Israeli peace movement in calling for an immediate end to the Occupation of Gaza and the West Bank. We are a committed pro-Israel movement that, like the reservists, upholds the highest vision of what Israel and the Jewish people stand for a world of peace, justice, love of the stranger, generosity, and goodness. We reject all attempts by some sectors of the Jewish community to portray us as self-hating Jews or anti-Semitic non-Jews.
We call for a compassionate, generous, and openhearted approach to ending the Occupation and providing reparations for Palestinian refugees. This is necessary for peace, as is the end of all terror and violence against Israel by Palestinians. We call upon local synagogues and other Jewish institutions to publicly and unequivocally support the Israeli Reserve Officers who refuse to serve, and to demand that Israel end the Occupation.
We invite you to participate in a worldwide day of fasting on March 27, from sunrise to sunset, in support of the reservists and in opposition to the use of violence by both sides and in opposition to the Occupation.
We encourage you to turn part of your Passover Seder on the evening of March 27 into a mini teach-in on the way that Israel is acting as Pharaoh to a population that is seeking its own freedom and self- determination. But don't be one- sided: both sides continue to make self-destructive and immoral choices and both sides bear responsibility for the tragedy that has unfolded in Israel/Palestine. Nevertheless, on Passover, Jews cannot celebrate our freedom without committing ourselves to the liberation of everyone else as well starting with the Palestinian people.
The new Israeli refuseniks have learned the lessons of history: "Following orders" to enforce a brutal Occupation does not work, when doing so means violating international law, human rights, and the basic moral standards of humanity. We join with these reservists in saying "NO" to the Occupation. Will You Join Us?
[ ] I will donate $ 100 (or _____) to help you reprint this ad in other American and/or Israeli newspapers.
[ ] I will join the Fast on March 27 and publicize it in my community.
[ ] I will raise these issues at my Passover seder, or in my church or in my other religious or progressive community and I'll tell you what I tried and what worked and what didn't. Send me the TIKKUN Passover supplement at the email address I've given below.
[ ] Tell me more about how I can be part of your efforts to create education in communities, a campus network, and a campaign to educate media.
[ ] I will join The TIKKUN Community (the basic membership of $120 includes a one year subscription to TIKKUN magazine
[ ] I will subscribe to TIKKUN magazine ($29; $43 outside the United States).
Email: [ ] Yes! I want to know more and become an activist.
Please add me to your email list. [ ] Only use my email list to send membership info.
City, State, Zip
[ ] Enclosed is a check [ ] Charge my credit card:
Card number: Expiration date
Support the Reservists
951 Cragmont Ave
Berkeley, CA 94708
This ad was organized by The TIKKUN Community. Contact The TIKKUN Community (firstname.lastname@example.org or 415-575- 1200) for help in planning educational gatherings on college campuses, and in community centers, corporations, union halls, synagogues, churches, mosques, and ashrams to rethink the Middle East.