How a very simple demand quickly gets very complicated.
I appreciate the good questions. A ceasefire right now = more Hamas killing. I think the Far Left/Progressives/very liberals, whatever you want to call the more polarized side of the Left/Right equation, is facing a reckoning this horrible war is catalyzing, perhaps for the best. The Far Left, like the Far Right, is mired in orthodox groupthink that is now being revealed as having lost the thread of morality and even just plain common sense. As an example, the rise of Queers for Palestine, as if there are LGBTQ rights in any Arab country, let alone Gaza, is a clear cut demonstration of the nonsensical nature of the far left discourse. Please keep writing!
Thank you Rabbi/Dr Jay for grappling with some thorny issues. I can see you're trying to be open and struggling to find a way forward-- thank you. One thing that seems not at all complex to me is the evil of the October 7 massacre and our concurrent obligation to stand up to evil and call it out. It stuns me that I've seen no one else in the meditation community condemn the pure evil we witnessed by Hamas against babies, children, Holocaust survivors. Please tell me I'm wrong and I've just missed the statements of IMS or any of the stellar meditation stalwarts (Sharon Salzberg, Jack Kornfield, Joseph Goldstein, Jon Kabat-Zinn, Pema Chodron, Sylvia Boorstein, Diana Winston) out there. Where is everyone?
Thank you for your brilliant analysis. You are one of the people keeping me minimally sane during these awful times.
This morning I read a usually very thoughtful friend and renewal rabbi saying that the Palestinian prisoners are also hostages, and when we demand release of hostages prior to ceasefire that should include those prisoners. If he doesn’t understand the difference between people detained for suspicion of intent to commit acts of terrorism (even if their held unfairly and for far too long) and people abducted from their homes etc with no intent to harm, then we are really in a world where words rule over thinking, where ideology rules over humanity, rather than the opposite.
As you know, I appreciate the attempt to ask and clarify what we actually mean by these terms, but I think in a few cases, you're trying too hard to reinvent the wheel: it is true the hostages are held by force, but that, in other cases, has not prevented/violated a ceasefire. Israel had ceasefires with Hamas while Gilad Shalit was being held; they have had ceasefires when, like now/always, Israel holds Hamas prisoners by force... in a million cases in world history, I'm sure, ceasefires have been enacted while one or both sides held captives from the other side by force. Likewise, just because neither side is willing to give into the *initial/biggest* demands of the other doesn't mean there isn't room for negotiation. Hamas has given up 4 hostages - for what? Who knows, but it's not the kindness of their hearts. There is some negotiation that happened, which proves that some amount of negotiation with them (by 3d parties, which will be necessary in any case) is possible.
Thank you, Jay, for articulating this and the distinguishing that while we may want to "Cease the Fire" the collective call for a ceasefire is highly problematic for reasons you outlined.
Wouldn’t a ceasefire, or pause, allow for humanitarian aid to be distributed. Sunday 33 trucks were able to cross into Gaza, at that point the most able to get across the border since the parties negotiated opening the border for aid. Humanitarian orgs say at least 100 trucks of food, water and fuel are needed. Wouldn’t a ceasefire assist in being able to distribute aid. That has been what many countries and the UN have been calling for.