by: Rabbi Michael Lerner on March 14th, 2012 | 16 Comments »
On March 7, when we published our New York Times ad against a U.S. or Israeli strike on Iran, we suggested that one step to implement a “strategy of generosity” as an alternative to the current “strategy of domination” would be for Israel to offer Palestinians a reasonable deal (as defined in my book Embracing Israel/Palestine), which would include helping Palestinians create an economically and politically viable state. One commentator, the hawkish foreign policy writer for The Atlantic, Jeffrey Goldberg, said that our raising the issue of Israel/Palestine was “stupid” because to him it was obvious that there was no possible connection.
But our point is that demonizing of Israel, made easy by its occupation of the West Bank and aggressive militarism, makes it possible for the tyrants in Iran and their allies in Syria, Hezbollah, and Hamas to deflect attention from the evils of their own regimes by pointing to the hurtful things being done by Israel. An attack on Iran, we believe, will be used to undermine the “green revolution” that has been partially suppressed by the fundamentalists in Iran already, but which would be forced to join under the leadership of the mullahs to “defend the nation” against these attacks from Israel or the U.S.
Conversely, if Israel were to settle with the Palestinians in an obviously generous, open-hearted, and repentant way, and the U.S. were to launch a Global Marshall Plan, the Iranian dictatorship, the Syrian dictators, Hezbollah, and Hamas would have a very difficult time maintaining the loyalty of their own people. It is not because we support these regimes that we oppose a military response, but because we know that the best and probably only way that a “regime change” can take place is if the people of those countries rebel from inside.
Right now, if the U.S. or Israel gave help to such rebellions, the rebels would be discredited. But if Israel and the U.S. became known for their generosity and caring, we could actually assist the democratic forces in Iran and Syria in a serious way. That’s why our talk about a strategy of generosity is not simply the ethically and spiritually right path; it is also the most effective way to achieve a world in which we and Israel would be safe. That Americans and many Jews are unable to see that this is why they then call for military attacks which will almost certainly backfire as they have for thousands of years, most recently in Vietnam, Iraq, and Afghanistan.
So please read the article below from Ha’aretz to get a sense of how these dynamics work in the world as it is. And if you agree with our approach, please sign and donate to the ad, so that we can have it printed and circulated in Israeli and American media beyond the 2,700 people who already signed and made that ad possible by their generosity.
Syrian President Bashar Assad was advised by Iranian officials to divert attention toward Israel and the Palestinian cause in an effort to deflect criticism of his brutal crackdown, emails said to have been According to the Guardian, the messages were said to have been intercepted by the opposition’s Supreme Council of the Revolution between June of 2011 and February 2012, and include missives from Assad’s private account as well as that belonging to his wife, Asma.
One email sent in December 31 indicated that Assad’s aides advised the Syrian president on the contents on an upcoming speech following “consultations with a good number of people in addition to the media and political adviser for the Iranian ambassador.”
In the composed memorandum, Assad was advised to stress the issue of Muslim identity through the use of Koran quotes, as well as centering on what the email called “Syria’s principles,” which included: “Resistance”; “Hostility to Israel, the first enemy of the Muslims”; and “Protection of Palestinian people’s rights (real prayers should be in the direction of Jerusalem).”
“Maybe here the president can reiterate his stance by condemning forcefully the recent Israeli practices and policies to Judaise Al-Quds (Jerusalem),” the email added, saying that Assad should use “powerful and violent” language in his opposition to Israel.
“Here the subject of Israel comes up and it becomes necessary to put stress on the particular merits of the president by linking the foreign pressures on Syria, which differs in its toughness and content to other countries in crisis, with the geographical proximity to Israel and the position of the people and the regime towards Israel,” the memo stated.
Culminating the email’s section on Israel, the adviser said Assad should make “a clear distinction between the west’s ambitions and people’s demands and that the west and Israel are exploiting part of the Syrian people without their knowledge to break Syria, but the president has a great confidence in the patriotism of the entire Syrian people.”
The emails released by the Guardian also indicated that the Syria leader received advice from noted Lebanese businessman Hussein Mortada, known for his links to the Iran. In one message, Mortada advised Assad to stop blaming al-Qaida for opposition attacks.
“It is not out of our interest to say that al-Qaida organization is behind the operation because this claim will [indemnify] the U.S. administration and Syrian opposition,” Mortada was quoted as saying, adding “I have received contacts from Iran and Hezbollah in my role as director of many Iranian-Lebanese channels and they directed me to not mention that al-Qaida is behind the operation. It is a blatant tactical media mistake.”
Another correspondence of note was between Assad’s wife Asma and the daughter of the emir of Qatar, Hamid bin Khalifa al-Thani, in which the Qatari noblewoman both advised Assad to step down as well as indicated that Qatar may be able to present the Syrian leader’s family with asylum.