With Liberty and Justice for All!
Like thousands of others, I too, received Jeremy Ben-Ami’s Independence Day email blast admonishing those who are not expressing optimism about Secretary John Kerry’s “efforts aimed at jumpstarting diplomacy” between Israel and Palestine.
I understand why Jeremy is looking for something to feel optimistic about. He is not the Lone Ranger here. Many of us who work on this issue and care deeply about the people who live in Palestine and Israel, constantly look for things to feel optimistic about. We leave buckets out to catch water, just to keep our cups half full. I get it!
I for one, am feeling optimistic about Jeremy’s letter itself. He asked, ”What would they have said to the Martin Luther Kings, to the Nelson Mandelas, to the Gandhis? Don’t bother; the forces you’re up against are too powerful? Don’t waste your time?”
I was thrilled to hear him praising the efforts of my heroes! Of course, all of them achieved their goals in large part by using the tools of nonviolent resistance and collective legal action against those who oppressed them (using violent means)– Boycotts, Divestment and Sanctions.
“What we need from those who recognize the importance of the Secretary’s work isn’t a recounting of the reasons why this may not work but their help in building momentum and pressing the leaders on all sides to make it a success.”
I agree with him that we need to build momentum and press leaders, but pressing them with words and wishes hasn’t changed the situation, which as we all know, worsens by the (settlement and infrastructure) day.
Maybe all the stories about our founding fathers seeking independence from their colonizers has gotten to me, but I hope that my heroes will continue to fill the thoughts of Jeremy Ben-Ami and the imaginations of those who work for peace between Israel and Palestine but draw the line at urging the Israeli government to change it’s policies squarely between the carrot and the stick. Those who believe it is wise to keep offering carrots but reserve their sticks for negotiating with the powerless Palestinian Authority.
I do believe that my heroes are the clear examples of how We the People can and will create change, not with the words which have failed to move those who continue to expand Israel and block attempts to hold them accountable for their actions; but with tools of nonviolent, democratic action that have turned tides and broken institutional injustice, suppression, and subjugation historically.
While we celebrate America’s independence we still dream and work to make it a reality for all the people between the river and the sea, equally, with liberty and justice for all.