< link rel="DCTERMS.isreplacedby" href="http://bokertov.typepad.com/ btb/" >

Sunday, February 01, 2004


Daily Camera: Guest Opinion by local high school teacher

Pact shows promise of paving way to armistice
by Jim Vacca

The Geneva Accord is a viable pathway to Middle East peace. Originally brokered by Yossi Beilin, the former Minister of Justice for Israel and Yasser Abed Rabbo, former Minister of Information for the Palestinian Authority, the accord champions a workable two-state solution by returning Israel to its pre-1967 borders and establishing an international fund for re-settling Palestinian refugees in a new Palestinian state and providing compensation to Israelis who fled persecution in Arab lands. This accord shatters the myth that both sides are unwilling and unable to forge a common peace.

This peace process has stagnated under the failed leadership of Ariel Sharon and George Bush. Yet as we approach the national election cycle there is renewed hope and passion that the agenda of the American people will be prioritized by our emerging political leaders ... and make no mistake, we want peace in the Middle East! The race to the White House must not ignore the Geneva Accord.

Yet the real possibility exists that Palestinian and Israeli extremist groups will continue to undermine the hopes of the moderate majorities. Extremists always adopt political and theological apocalyptic contexts, which divide the world into black and white, good and evil, saved and damned. Their message is one of urgent last resort where they falsely assume that violence and martyrdom will restore former status and an insulated way of life. Be they Hamas militants, racist Klansmen, intractable Zionists or gay-bashing fundamentalists, these apocalyptic demagogues contort sacred texts into weapons so as to bludgeon their opponents and distort the healing narratives of divine care and love into documents that merely broker real-estate and make a turf-war the centerpiece of God's design for justice,

Unlike the extremists, I believe that people can live as neighbors. I reject the genocidal assumptions and social Darwinism of Benny Morris as he stated in a Jan. 9 interview with Ari Shavit in the Israeli newspaper Ha'aretz that "even the great American democracy could not have been created without he annihilation of the Indians. There are cases in which the overall final good justifies harsh and cruel acts that are committed in the course of history."

This kind of apocalyptic thinking perpetuates the cycles of violence that that Geneva Accord seeks to arrest. The massacre and uprooting of native populations speaks to our collective shame. There is no moral justification for the realpolitik of American manifest destiny, even as it exists today in our occupation of Iraq.

If the United States wishes to play the part of ethical mediator on the world stage it must renounce its imperialistic leanings that tacitly justify Israeli occupation and settlements. Palestinians must cease the terror targeting of civilians, affirm the right of Israel to exist and abandon the "drive them to the sea" rhetoric that fuels the fires of hatred. In order to support a viable two-state option, we must acknowledge that here in the United States we are on the threshold of a campaign that peddles fear as its greatest export. The current administration believes that we can purchase security from the bank of civil liberties with the currency of fear. How can we support a resolution of compassion and justice unless we as a nation pull the apocalyptic plank from our own eye?

Focusing on the individual atrocities of each nation sabotages the peace process and destroys the possibility that compassion and hope, our most noble human instinct, can guide the future. I am not naive because I desire to live in a world predicated on peace.

We are reminded in metaphor that with a draft such as the Geneva Accord, "the Devil is in the details." I choose to reverse the metaphor, "God is in the details." Paying attention to the creation of peace in the commonplace and the ordinary not only has the power to create meaning in our individual lives but transform the globe through our ethical stewardship, to take individual responsibility for our collective future.

We need to create new metaphors for a new moment, a language that will inspire and motivate our common human goodness and generosity to action.

I approach this issue as a member of Tikkun, a grass-roots community that supports the Geneva Accord and a progressive middle path that is both pro-Israel and pro-Palestine. It seeks reconciliation as a pathway to security and peace. Tikkun's broader vision of transformation is reminiscent of Martin Luther King's struggle for freedom and dignity, a struggle inspired not only by a plan but a dream. The Geneva Accord is a workable plan paving the way to a dream of peace that can be realized.
Jim Vacca is a teacher at Boulder High School. He holds a master's degree in education from the University of Northern Colorado and a master's of divinity from Seattle University. He currently teaches The Bible As Literature at Boulder High.

His halo is on very tight. It's even giving me a headache! And I was feeling so good, too, having just answered the Fernandez letter. Our work is never done...