Submitted by Rabbi Arthur Waskow on
It’s 2:26 on Monday morning, the midst of a dark night. I’ve just awakened and can’t go back to sleep. There’s an email message scheduled waiting to go out to you this Monday morning about a new approach to solarizing America. It’s about winning over with love, not force, the rural and small town neighborhoods that have supported politicians who sneered at the climate crisis as a hoax. I just pushed the “pause” button on that email.
What’s haunting me awake is that the Axis of Death met in Saudi Arabia just days ago -- the Saudi MbS who runs the country and decided to murder and dismember a democracy-yearning Saudi journalist who lived in America; the IsraelI prime minister ‘Yahu has done his best to make a peaceful Palestinian state impossible by jamming Israeli settlements down the throats of the West Bank, and who is facing three different indictments for acts of corruption and tens of thousands of Israelis demonstrating at his office and his home for weeks, demanding his resignation; and Trump’s toady Sec State Pompeo ignoring with his master the suffering and deaths of thousands of Americans from COVID19 as the pathologue president’s term runs out.
And just a few days after they met, the Israeli Secret Service murdered an Iranian nuclear scientist and now brags about it, with an anonymous Israeli official telling the NY Times the world should thank them.
Thank them for what? For “preventing” an Iranian nuclear weapons arsenal? President Obama had done that far more effectively years before by leading an intricate negotiation in which France, Germany, Britain, Russia, China, and the US agreed to step-by-step withdrawal of sanctions against Iran in exchange for an astoundingly intrusive and effective international inspection regime that was conclusively showing that Iran had totally abandoned its nuclear weapons program.
That policy was a brilliant example of one way the Torah seeks peace: “Spread over us the sukkah of shalom.” The sukkah, fragile and vulnerable, becomes a house of peace when two who shake in the cold wind of its vulnerability turn that truth to agreement, not force. Iran was vulnerable to economic sanctions; many countries were vulnerable to a possible Iranian nuclear arsenal.
And the Obama “sukkah of shalom” deal had in it the seeds of a careful, care-filled journey that might have slowly flowered into bringing Iran into a relationship more respectful of its own people and more respectful of its neighbors, including Israel.
But the no-nukes/ no-sanctions deal was shattered by the Dominate-and-Subjugate, Starve-and-Kill policy of the Trump regime. It imposed worse and worse sanctions on Iran, hoping to force a collapse of the Iranian government. The people suffered more and more, but stiffened too. The regime, never a model of democracy, became still more hard-line. So Trump became Trumpier.
The incoming Biden presidency had promised to try to restore the sukkah of shalom. In Trump’s last days, Trump decided to make that policy much harder to make real. He consulted his new yes-men in the Pentagon about a US attack on Iran. They said No. He seemed to accept the decision. But ‘Yahu was willing. And so were the Saudis.
The gravest danger is that the US might encourage a worse Israeli attack. Bombing non-weapon nuclear-energy facilities could easily kill thousands of Iranians, most of them civilians, simply by spreading radioactive materials. Would Trump, ‘Yahu, or the Saudi MbS, care? Not likely.
Now – why did I wake up so haunted so early this morning? What does this have to do with The Shalom Center ‘s mission, especially to work for a new US policy for a Green New Neighborhood Deal, a new interpretation and approach to the Green New Deal that our children and grandchildren have been so presciently calling forth?
Years ago, we decided that the best Jewish and spiritual path for The Shalom Center in the midst of a planetary crisis was to lift up the most Earth-affirming wisdom of biblical Judaism. At first slowly and then more swiftly during the last few years, that has worked to awaken more and more Jews and believers in other spiritual paths to pay attention to our earthy spiritual treasury in the Hebrew Bible. I think we are at the moment, almost two months from now, when those seeds could sprout and flower.
Then why “pause,” even for a few days, an email to nurture that approach?
Because, first of all, in a somewhat narrow sense, when the government of Israel intrudes itself as a stumbling-block against an incipient American government that seeks peace and seeks to heal our badly wounded Mother Earth, our task is to speak out. We did this during the Obama Administration, when ‘Yahu tried to prevent the crucial nuclear-weapons-prevention agreement with Iran in the first place.
And more profoundly -- because I could not bear that the government of what claims to be a Jewish state would poison the blood-stream of Torah with a murder. A murder so blatant, so boastful. I could not bear that The Shalom Center, this voice of Torah, what we claim to be a prophetic voice, would not be raised against it.
I urge that many voices of Torah and all other voices of the Spirit be raised against this murder--
Against any further attacks on Iran,
Against any actions intended to block a new government of the American people from remaking, renewing, improving a seeking of peace with Iran --
One that protects the people of Iran from hunger and disease,
One that protects the people of the world from an Iranian nuclear arsenal,
One that step-by-step begins to welcome Iran fully into the community of nations,
One that welcomes all nations into the new world treaty that has just come into effect -- seeking to abolish nuclear weapons.