Two Voices: our weekly Progressive Judaism debate:
Is lasting peace between Israel and the Palestinians an impossible dream?
• Rabbi Sybil Sheridan says…
The enormous pain and suffering we have witnessed in Israel and Gaza over recent weeks might lead one to think all hope for a lasting peace is lost. But despite this, I hope that peace is indeed possible. It is important ordinary Israelis and Palestinians have the opportunity to meet, to speak and to engage with one another face to face.
This is not always easy. I am certain ordinary Palestinians in Gaza do not support the firing of rockets into Israel, but they are unable to speak out under Hamas rule. Nevertheless, in the long term we must find another way to move forward and I believe the only way is one based on dialogue.
The Movement for Reform Judaism supports organisations dedicated to building bridges – both between Israeli Jews and Israeli Arabs and between Israeli Jews and Palestinians on the West Bank and in Gaza. All we can do is support the people of goodwill, those dedicated to relief of suffering and those dedicated to building relationships of trust across the divide.
Much is outside our hands, but small gestures of caring and support are always possible and so, I believe, is a lasting peace between Israel and the Palestinians.
• Rabbi Sybil Sheridan is chair of the Assembly of Reform Rabbis UK
• David Karat says…
The current events are tragic for both Israelis and Palestinians and hide the extensive efforts by community and faith leaders, here and in the regions, to build bridges between our peoples.
For example, the Cambridge Co-exist Leadership Programme is dedicated to improving relationships between the Abrahamic faiths, bringing together faith leaders for a year-long course of dialogue and learning. My participation in this means that yes, I dare to dream that a lasting peace is possible. The past decades show that violence and war will not provide a victory to either side. The only victory is peace for both sides.
I believe this is not just a dream; it is the embodiment of enlightened self-interest and just may be achieved if and when the voices rejecting violence and extremism on both sides synthesise into a single message demanding peace from their leaders.
Now is an opportunity for citizens on both sides to use every peaceful means possible to impress on their leaders that they reject violence and wish to give to each other the opportunity to live in peace with and next to each other. A vote for violence or extremism is a vote to expose future generations to further suffering.
• David Karat is a trustee of the Movement for Reform Judaism