My teacher Reb Zalman has offered words about what he hopes to see coming out of the Annapolis conference beginning today: Envisioning Success in Annapolis.
What I find most compelling is his insistence that the narrative has to be changed radically on both sides. That as long as Israel and the Palestinians each hold fast to their understandings of hurt and history, the situation can't change in the ways it needs to. (As my friend Naomi Shihab Nye has written in her poem "Jerusalem," "I'm not interested in / who suffered the most./ I'm interested in / people getting over it.")
I've heard arguments from both sides that these talks are too little/too late, and that the bargaining partner across the table isn't trustworthy, but I don't see how that line of thinking helps anything. Giving up can't be an option. The only way out is through. (This BBC piece articulates concerns with the process, but ends by offering small causes for hope; this NPR story suggests that cautious optimism may be warranted by the conference's achievements thus far.)
When we light candles at this darkest time of the year, may we nurture hope for a lasting peace settlement after too many years of violence and despair. If we learn anything from the story of Chanukah, it is that even when circumstances appear grim -- perhaps especially then -- hope and courage are vital.
That's from the rabbinic
call issued by Brit Tzedek v'Shalom
(The Jewish Alliance for Justice and Peace), which calls
us to rekindle our dedication to the peace process as Chanukah approaches. It's worth reading, and so is the gratifyingly substantial list of Jewish clergy and student clergy who signed the call. (I mistyped my own last name, can you believe it? Whoops. Well, at least I'm on the list.)
In any event, those meeting in Annapolis are in my prayers today. May they be graced with wisdom, compassion, and the ability to move their communities forward toward justice and toward peace. Amen.