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Gaza

If there’s one thing Americans can now do, a particular skill that the vast majority of this large nation has learned, it’s that it is possible to hate a war without hating the country that, while provoked, is responsible for the violence. It is possible to understand how the war begins and hate the war. It’s possible to empathize, to be angry at wrongdoing, and oppose a war. It’s possible to change your mind about the effectiveness of violence and political cycles based upon it. So let’s do that.

Let’s say, together, that we want for Israel a just and lasting peace. Safety. A place in the world. That we will defend their right to exist, that Israel is not alone. And let’s add that when we refuse to condone the kind of violence that uses cluster bombs in highly populated civilian areas (especially when an estimated third of cluster bomb casualties are children), we see ourselves engaged in a battle for Israel, too–for its soul. This is not moral solipsism; this is love. And more than that, this is practicality. This is understanding that there may be a time for armed conflict, but armed conflict should not be our first and only approach to diplomacy. The kind of military engagement Israel uses to deal with the essentially political question of Palestine has ceased working. That’s not me speaking, that’s many other people, much smarter than I. As they say, the definition of insanity is doing the same thing again and again and expecting different results. So let’s refuse to do that thing again.

I signed the Jstreet petition and then heard the Executive Director, Jeremy Ben-Ami, on Rachel Maddow’s radio show, pitching the idea that a progressive, pro-Israel community exists out there, and that we can make a difference. It looks like a ceasefire is off the table for now, but if we keep the pressure on, who knows?

So read the talking points, consider signing the petition, and don’t let anyone tell you that violence is the only answer worth considering. My mother taught me to use my words, and when I couldn’t, to take a time-out in a quiet corner. We could all use a dose of that right now.

–Mel Weiss