Wednesday, January 7, 2009

A report on an Israeli official's talk to Kansas City audience

Fellow Mennonites George Melby, John Mueller, Quaker friend Ginger Kenney, and I attended a lecture and Q&A at the Jewish Community Center last night. It was a very unsettling experience for me to hear all the right-wing, pro-war rhetoric from the speaker and from the audience. There was one question offered by a middle-aged doctor wearing scrubs that expressed some skepticism about Israel's end-game and expectations of success through violence. And someone asked about possible spreading of violence to other countries. (This morning the Associated ress
reports on several acts of violence in Europe against Jews and synagogues in France, Sweden and Britain:

There was one brave Muslim who stood up and posed a reasonable question about why the harsh economic sanctions imposed by Israel on Gaza were not relaxed during the recent cease-fire. He was heckled and interrupted by members of the audience, but treated politely by the speaker, although not given a satisfying answer.

The event ended after only 40 minutes, and even though the four of us remained silent during that time, I think we all were formulating comments and questions we would raise if the atmosphere were more conducive or if the event went on another 10-20 minutes. Ginger would
have asked about COLLECTIVE PUNISHMENT, whether Israel respected Article 33 of the Fourth Geneva Convention. John would have asked about the plight of the Gazans at their last election when faced with the choice between corruption vs. militarism (PLO vs. Hamas) -- and
wasn't it a choice between the LESSER OF TWO EVILS. I would have asked about the negative perception the world is getting of Israel using DISPROPORTIONATE force against a weaker opponent, like the fire hoses turned on the children of Birmingham during the Civil Rights struggle.

This morning I received Gene Stoltzfus's newest blog entry:
-- which gives me hope and inspiration for a reasonable long-range solution for the Middle East. And his precious quote from Albert Einstein: "You cannot solve a problem with the same thinking that caused the problem."

Phil Rhoads

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