...reflections from a Compassionate Listener

Saturday, July 16, 2011

My Birthday Wish, by Leah Green

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Today is my birthday. As facebook posts came in last night with birthday wishes from Palestinian and Israeli peacemakers – people who I’ve been so privileged to meet, listen to, work with and learn from over the past several decades, I realized that I have a birthday wish also.

Writing today as a woman, as a mother, a peacemaker, a global citizen, a spiritual human being and American Jew, my wish this year is for a Palestinian state. Not because I’m some great fan of the modern nation state with all of its many perils, not the least of which is nationalism and ethnocentrism…but because Palestine is a nation, and deserves its place among the other 192 sister countries that comprise the United Nations.

This September, the Palestinian Authority will petition the United Nations for membership, with plans to declare statehood by the end of the year. Most analysts believe that if it came to a vote today, the resolution would pass the U.N. General Assembly with the support of at least 130 out of 193 member nations. Gearing up to face what one Israeli leader called a “political and diplomatic tsunami” coming their way, some of our own political leaders in the U.S. are beginning to threaten the Palestinian leadership with severe measures if they persist with their “audacious” request for independence, including a Security Council veto on the vote, and cutting U.S. aid.

“Statehood is a game-changer,” said Gershon Baskin, co-Director of the respected think tank, Israel-Palestine Center for Research and Information. “Once Palestine is a member state of the United Nations, Israel is no longer occupying ‘undefined disputed territory.’”

"Palestinians prayed near Israeli soldiers on Friday.
They were protesting land confiscation
 in the village of Qusra, near Nablus."

from NY times, April 2, 2011
This “game” is sorely in need of changing. These past decades, I’ve not only been listening, I’ve been watching. The territorial views from all of the high hills and vistas in the West Bank reveal a vast and sprawling network of Israeli settlements extending deep into the heart of Palestinian territory. Half a million settlers – roughly 15% of the Israeli population, now inhabit over 200 trailer outposts, towns and large cities in the West Bank and East Jerusalem, and their growth continues unabated. A comprehensive report published last year by the Israeli Human Rights Organization B’tselem, which included analysis of aerial photography and relied on Israeli military data, shows that settlements control 42% of West Bank land (this figure does not include substantial additional territory controlled by the Israeli military).

This year, we in the international community have a significant opportunity to help bring sanity and international law to bear on this disastrous and even suicidal settlement policy, by encouraging our lawmakers and governments to support Palestinian statehood, and nurture a healthy future for Israelis and Palestinians.

Even if this is not “your” cause; even if you don’t know much about it, please take some time today and join me in a heartfelt vision for historical and ancestral healing for Israel and Palestine. Send your love – because this is how it’s going to happen, with love, not with more hatred or anger or violence. We don’t need more arguing about victims and perpetrators, we need loving acts that will relieve this vicious polarization and acknowledge the humanity of everyone involved. Send your love – imagine the most graceful, peaceful transition to Palestinian statehood, with humane relations with her neighbors; imagine dignity, justice and safety for all…and please, peaceful nights and sweet dreams.

Thank you for listening. This has been my wish for decades, actually. I hope it will be your wish too. I’m blowing out the candles now.

Leah Green

"To be free is not merely to cast off one's chains, 
but to live in a way that respects and enhances the freedom of others."