Sustaining Abundance & Sharing Justice -- Not Imposing War
We must mourn the dead of Paris. Later in this essay you will see a Mourners Kaddish in Time of War and Terror, in Aramaic/ Hebrew and in English, with an invitation to all of us to draw on it, to use it in our own tongus and teachings..
We must affirm and join the overwhelming majority of the Muslim world in utterly condemning these atrocities. Below you will also see statements issued by the President of Iran and by the US Council of Muslim Organizations (USCMO), a coalition of leading national and local Muslim organizations.
And we must also, as quickly as possible, assess what to do now to prevent such atrocities.
In that assessment, we must take into account what terrible mistakes our own government and people have made in the past that served to sprout the seeds of terror that already existed in the Muslim world -- as in other worlds, including some hyper-nationalist and hyper-racist Americans.
There were two such profound mistakes. One was broader than the Middle East, and has not received the focused attention it deserves. It was the failure of the US and other governments to respond to scientific warnings of impending disaster from global scorching. As the NY Times has reported (March 2, 2015; see <http://www.nytimes.com/2015/03/03/science/earth/study-links-syria-conflict-to-drought-caused-by-climate-change.html?_r=0>),
“Drawing one of the strongest links yet between global warming and human conflict, researchers said that an extreme drought in Syria between 2006 and 2009 was most likely due to climate change, and that the drought was a factor in the violent uprising that began there in 2011. …
“They cited studies that showed that the extreme dryness, combined with other factors, including misguided agricultural and water-use policies of the Syrian government, caused crop failures that led to the migration of as many as 1.5 million people from rural to urban areas. This in turn added to social stresses that eventually resulted in the uprising against President Bashar al-Assad in March 2011.”
So one urgent lesson for the future is that the US and other governments must take swift and vigorous action in the forthcoming Paris international conference on the climate crisis. Without such action, we can expect more such civil wars, millions of refugees, and desperate acts of war and terror as food and water vanish in many regions of the Earth.
The other profound mistake was the US War against Iraq. Allegedly responding to the terror attacks on 9/11, the US government decided to turn away from pursuing the criminal band Al Qaeda in its home base in Afghanistan and instead decided to shatter Iraq.
The war renewed old furies between Sunnis and Shiites, destabilized the entire Middle East, and turned what should have been a sharply targeted police action into a totally unnecessary war between the US and large parts of the Islamic
world (including drone attacks that often murdered innocents and stoked fury among many Muslims).
It also brought deep violations of American values and Constitutional liberties – the use of torture as an act of official US policy, egregious governmental surveillance of practically all Americans without search warrants, and both governmental and private attacks on Muslims in a growing fever of Islamophobia.
Learning from this past mistake means that any decision to use force against ISIS should in both words and practice define the action as policing criminals within a context of protecting the Syrian and Iraqi publics, not fighting a war against Islam.
That means welcoming Russia and Iran, along with France and other Western nations, into working out a political solution to the Syrian civil war and isolating the terrorist criminals of the ISIS leadership as targets. The goal must be returning millions of refugees to their homes and encouraging the peaceful hopes and lives of the vast majority of Muslims.
And to make clear that our goal is to pursue justice for the peaceful and bring terrorists to justice, not to subjugate Islam, the US should take much more vigorous action to insist on the emergence of a peaceful Palestine alongside a peaceful Israel, in the context of a peaceful settlement between them both with all Arab and Muslim states.
Presidents Hollande, Obama, and Putin should explicitly praise the official statement of Iranian president Hassan Rouhani:
“In the name of the Iranian people, who have themselves been victims of terrorism, I strongly condemn these crimes against humanity and offer my condolences to the grieving French people and government.”
Similarly, President Obama should meet with the leadership of the US Council of Muslim Organizations (USCMO), a coalition of leading national and local Muslim organizations, which yesterday (Saturday) strongly condemned “the abhorrent terror attacks that took place yesterday in Paris and left over 150 innocent people dead and scores injured.”
Its statement continued,
“USCMO stands consistent with its position against all forms of violence against innocent people anywhere in Turkey, Beirut, Syria, Paris, and on our soil irrespective of the perpetrators, targets, or reasons. These repugnant acts of violence defy the sanctity of every innocent human live and shall always be condemned and rejected.”
“The US Council of Muslim Organizations sends its heartfelt condolences to the families of the victims and to the people of France and stands in solidarity with them against terrorism and violent extremism. We ask the American Muslim community around the nation to hold candle light vigils in memory of the victims and in support of their families.”
The point is that if action against ISIS is done with the rhetoric of rage against Islam as a whole and if it is undertaken in actual practice with attacks on civilian Muslim populations, as was the Iraq War, then the result will be still more violence against the US and other Western nations.
Any statements by Presidential candidates or others that fuel Islamophobia should be condemned by churches, synagogues, and other ethical opinion leaders in academia and the press as false and slanderous -- and in this historical moment, as incitements to terrorism both by some Islamophobes against Muslims and by some Muslim terrorists against the whole fabric of our own society.
Finally, I offer us all a Mourners Prayer that is rooted in the Jewish tradition of Mourners Kaddish and goes beyond it to mourn the dead innocents in every community who have been victims of war and terrorism: Palestinians and Israelis, Muslims, Jews, and Christians, Buddhists and Hindus, the peoples of Syria and France. I urge Jewish congregations to use the Aramaic and English that are intertwined here, and others to use the English and to translate it into their own tongues.
If we can mourn the dead of ”the others” as well as of “our own,” we are more likely to grow not a future where more and more of us die together at each others’ hands, but one where more and more of us live together in the warmth of each others’ compassion.
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Mourners Prayer in Time of War and Terror
Yitgadal V’yit’kadash Shmei Rabah
May Your Great Name, through our own expanding awareness and our own fuller action, lift You to become still higher and more holy.
For Your Great Name weaves together all the names of all the beings in the universe, among them our own names and the names of those we mourn -- (Cong: Amein)
B’alma di vra chi’rooteh v’yamlich malchuteh b’chayeichun, u’v’yomeichun, u’v’chayei d’chol beit yisrael u’v’chol yoshvei tevel, b’agalah u’vizman kariv, v’imru: -- Amein.
--- Throughout the world that You have offered us, a world of majestic peaceful order that gives life to those whose path is wrestling God and to us all who share this planet, through time and through eternity ---- And let's say, Amein
Y’hei sh’mei rabbah, me’vorach, l’olam almei almaya.
So may the Great Name be blessed, through every Mystery and Mastery of every universe.
Yitbarach, v’yishtabach, v’yitpa’ar, v’yitromam, v’yitnasei, v’yit'hadar, v’yit’aleh, v’yit'halal -- Shmei di’kudshah, -- Brich hu, (Cong: Brich Hu)
May Your Name be blessed and celebrated, Its beauty honored and raised high, may It be lifted and carried, may Its radiance be praised in all Its Holiness –-- Blessed be!
L’eylah min kol bir’chatah v’shir’atah tush’be’chatah v’nehematah, de’amiran be’alma, v’imru: Amein (Cong: Amein)
Even though we cannot give You enough blessing, enough song, enough praise, enough consolation to match what we wish to lay before you –
And though we know that today there is no way to console You when among us some who bear Your Image in our being are slaughtering others who bear Your Image in our being -
Yehei Shlama Rabah min Shemaya v’chayyim aleinu v’al kol Yisrael v’al kol yoshvei tevel, v’imru Amein.
Still, may it be that from the unity of Your Great Name there flows a great and joyful harmony and life for those whose path is wrestling God and for us all who share this planet. (Cong: Amein)
Oseh Shalom bi’m’romav, hu ya’aseh shalom aleinu v’al kol yisrael v'al kol yishmael v'al kol yoshvei tevel -- v’imru: Amein.
You Who make harmony in the ultimate reaches of the universe, teach us to make harmony within ourselves, among ourselves -- and peace for the children of Israel, the children of Ishmael, and for all who dwell upon this planet. (Cong: Amein)