Magazine article Sojourners Magazine

Pax on Both Their Houses

Magazine article Sojourners Magazine

Pax on Both Their Houses

Article excerpt

Pax on both their houses Embracing Israel/Palestine: A Strategy to Heal and Transform the Middle East, by Michael Lerner. North Atlantic Books.

EVERY SO often an extraordinary book appears with potential to bring change-or at least advance justice by mitigating nationalism or prejudice. Rabbi Michael Lerner's Embracing Israel/Palestine: A Strategy to Heal and Transform the Middle East is such a book. The appeal is clear: Be both pro-Palestinian and pro-Israeli and pray for the best for each.

The book is a gut-wrencher as it describes the results of cyclical violence and reaction that fuels descent into paralyzing trauma and anger for both Arabs and Israelis.

Lerner, an advocate for Middle East justice and founder of Tikkun magazine, speaks truth about the human-made tragedy of the Israeli/Palestinian conflict. His transformative counsel about what people and nations can do to participate positively is desperately needed. Social justice advocates have been offered a candid and honest reprise of the tragic thinking and actions of oppressed people who should have known better than to visit the same on "the other."

Lerner's way toward peace is grounded in many years of living in and traveling to Israel/Palestine, loving the two protagonists equally, and constantly exploring his and others' souls. In spite of the victimizing and traumatizing of both Jews and Arabs, he remains hopeful. Embracing makes for a compelling and even inspiring read. I devoured most of it in two sittings, captivated by Lerner's vision.

His recurring theme is the danger of depending upon "nothing but force" as the cause of monumental misunderstanding and pain. Lerner bears clear witness to the root problem, declaring that "the struggle between Israel and the Arab states, like every other part of the story, can be told persuasively from each perspective." And each side suffers irreparably from unhealed victimhood. Reading the detailed history of each and the resulting fear-driven ghetto mentality serves to crush the spirit but for Lerner's hopeful appeal. He contends that God's mercy is sufficient. Options out of the long stalemate can be offered.

The European colonial powers do not escape his scathing analysis, nor do the principals' monumental mistakes. …

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