Michael Lerner on the victory of Hamas

Amidst all of the alarmed reactions to the recent victory of Hamas in the Palestinian parliamentary election, Rabbi Michael Lerner's response struck me as particularly insightful.

Lerner suggests that the recent election "may ultimately make it more likey that a peace agreement entered into by a Hamas dominated government would actually amount to something lasting and substantial."

Lerner acknowledges (and condemns) the terrorist violence perpetrated by Hamas, but points out that "this does not distinguish them, for example, from Ariel Sharon's government or George Bush's government, which have both been responsible for the deaths of more innocent civilians than Hamas (though always excusing themselves because these deaths were 'only collateral damage')." He recognises that the Hamas victory could be very bad, while also recognising the possibility that some good might come of it.

The blame for the election of Hamas falls largely on the shoulders of Ariel Sharon. By marginalising the Fatah party, refusing to negotiate with the Palestinian president, Mahmoud Abbas, and undermining the authority of the Fatah party by unilaterally withdrawing from Gaza ("as opposed to withdrawing in coordination with the Fatah's Palestinian Authority government"), Sharon gave the Palestinians no incentive to vote for Fatah, and the peace-oriented president Abbas. As Lerner points out, if Fatah is too radical for Israel to negotatiate with, what incentive did they have to elect Fatah over Hamas? Fatah hasn't delivered results (thanks largely to Sharon), so why not try something else?

If Hamas continues its violence towards Israel, pressure from the international community for Israel to end its illegal occupation of Palestine will surely be lessened. It might seem cynical to suggest that Sharon was intending to put Israelis at greater risk to avoid making territorial concessions, but how else do explain much of his behaviour as prime minister?

I don't want to misrepresent Lerner's position: he is not suggesting that a Hamas victory was a positive development. At the same time, it is not necessarily the case that this was the worst possible outcome. You won't read that in the mainstream press.

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Worth Reading

I just read an article by Gary Olson entitled, "Calling Out (and to) Homophobes."

It deals with the problem of encountering homophobia (and, by extension, other forms of prejudice) in social settings, and the difficulty we often face in confronting the individuals who express bigoted sentiments. We feel a moral obligation to say something, but find it difficult. I thought it was very insightful, so I recommend reading it.


I didn't know that about myself...

Apparently I'm a "Socinian." I had no idea. I'm surprised I got 0% for "Adoptionist," but maybe that only reveals a flaw in the test. Thanks to Talmida for providing the link to the quiz.

















Chalcedon compliant












Are you a heretic?
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And we're back...

I deleted my most recent post, largely because it dealt with something that was, perhaps, a little too personal (for me), and partly because I don't think it was entirely coherent.

I haven't been posting much in recent weeks, and there are two reasons for that. First of all, my job keeps me extremely busy, and secondly, I haven't had anything I particularly felt I wanted to say.

The last week has been a difficult one for me. As you may have heard, on the day after Christmas ("Boxing Day" as we call it in Canada), there was a violent confrontation between rival gangs in downtown Toronto, and a 15 year-old bystander by the name of Jane Creba was shot and killed. Six others were wounded, also by gunshots. This has been the cause of great anguish for me, because Toronto is my home and it is very difficult to accept that this kind of thing could happen in one's home.

Jane was the 78th murder victim in Toronto in 2005, her death a horrible finale to a year that has left those of us who live here both dismayed and puzzled over what has happened to our city. The murder rate has spiked in a town that prides itself on being particularly safe.

There is a real sense of urgency here about how this problem should be dealt with. With Canadians getting ready to go to the polls in a federal election in just over three weeks, the problem with gun violence is being debated across the country.

Tougher gun control laws seem like an obvious start, but people who abide by the laws of the land are not the ones we need to be protected from.

In today's Toronto Star, Linda McQuaig wrote,
Ten years ago, [former Premier] Mike Harris slashed Ontario's welfare rates by 22 per cent, thereby cutting by almost one-quarter the incomes of Ontario's most vulnerable families.

The young kids in those vulnerable families are now teenagers. Recently, there's been an upsurge in violent crime by gangs of teenagers. Is it far-fetched to think there might be a connection?
And there is the problem. We don't want gun violence, but we are quite happy to countenance poverty if it will reduce our taxes a little bit -- which is why the cuts were made, by the way.

Tax cuts are now being promised by the leaders of both the Liberal and Conservative leaders as part of their election campaigns. The solutions they are suggesting for the gun violence problem are predictable: tougher punishments for gun offenses, blah blah blah. Criminals don't expect to get caught. Tougher sentences might be a good idea, but it won't prevent violent crime from happening. Fortunately Canadians have more than two parties to choose from.

A final thought from McQuaig:
Tax cuts may put more cash in our pockets. But are we really better off if we have more cash for shopping — yet no longer feel safe to go shopping?
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