by: Rabbi Michael Lerner on March 7th, 2012 | 4 Comments »
Today, our ad saying “No” to a first strike (preemptive attack) by either Israel or the U.S. on Iran appeared in the New York Times (in the National Edition it is on page A19).
The media has distorted what has been going on between Obama and Netanyahu, representing it as Obama standing up to Netanyahu and being a hero for peace. But actually what happened is that Obama legitimated a first strike and preemptive attack on Iran, arguing with Netanyahu about the timing of such an attack, seeking to allow coercive economic sanctions to work first, but stating explicitly that Israel should not be constrained in any way to follow what it decides to be in its best national interest in regard to a strike on Iran. That’s why AIPAC gave him a standing ovation when Obama addressed them a few days ago.
Obama has now fully embraced the militarist position of George W. Bush who argued that it was legitimate for the U.S. to take a preemptive attack on Iraq based on the suspicion that they had nuclear weapons, just as Obama two months ago gave the green light to legislation that allows the US to imprison for life without a trial U.S. citizens the govenrnment suspects to be cooperating in some way with terrorists, and just as he has taken the lead in developing drone technology aimed at civilians (which Pentagon militarists say may soon be used inside the U.S.). The media ignores this significant tilt toward militarism in the policies and rhetoric of Obama, and its potential for building even more support for the right wing policies that were once considered extremist in US politics. In so doing, Obama has set a lasting precedent that can be cited by other countries in the future should China, Russia or India ever get to the point where they have sufficient military advances to use the strategy of preemptive attacks against Israel or even the U.S. The ethical foundation for this has been set by Obama’s AIPAC speech and his green light to Israel to attack Iran should they feel the need to do so. His caution of restraint is only about the timing, not about the legitimacy of first strike or preemptive attack.
The media has blocked this position out of public discourse. Our own attempt and the attempt of other peace groups to raise this issue through op-eds and public statements has been totally ignored. That’s why we had to buy the ad in the NY Times, and why we now need to continue this campaign against preemptive strikes by taking similar ads in Israeli and US media. We need your help (and your understanding that we will make these points but may frame some of the sentences differently to make the ad feel up to date by the time we’ve raised enough money to publish it in Israel and in US media). Would you help us do that by donating for this ongoing media campaign at www.tikkun.org/iran, or at least by adding your name to the 2,700 people who signed the ad by the morning of March 7. You do NOT have to donate to add your name, though the donations will help us spread this message beyond the NY Times!
Of course, if you have any influence with local or national media, please contact them and ask them to write about our perspective and interview some of the signatories. As we had indicated in an earlier note, those who gave $300 or more were listed on the ad, but the other thousands couldn’t fit on the page even if we had had nothing but names on the ad, so we had to simply give the email link and could not feature some of our important signatories like Cornel West, Rabbi Philip Bentley, Rabbi Everett Gendler and Dr Mary Gendler, Rev. Tony Campolo, or most of the rest of you to whom I’m writing this note. Yet everyone who signed and/or donated deserves the credit for having made this ad possible. And the rest of you could still help NOW by donating or signing the ad so that we can continue this campaign. Supporting this ad is a form of non-violent political action. And as we say in the ad, “The only path to peace is a path of peace and non-violence; our means must be as holy as our ends.”
If you haven’t done it yet, please send a note to everyone on your Facebook, Twitter, and your largest email lists, including all your personal friends, inviting them to sign and donate to the ad, and explaining why you want them to sign it at www.tikkun.org/iran
So, THANK YOU for helping us take the leadership in this struggle for the ethical and spiritual well-being of the U.S. and Israel. As we say in the ad: we need our leaders to “break the cycles of violence that have physically, ethically and spiritually wounded the human race for so much of its history.” And yet, as we say in the ad after affirming “a strategy of generosity,” as depicted in our Global Marshall Plan (have you downloaded the full version of it at www.spiritualprogressives.org/