Tuesday, December 1, 2009

If Not, Why Not?

I came across this in today's Sydney Morning Herald:

"Rabbi Michael Lerner sports a small lapel pin. It is paired flags of Israel and Palestine... It says a lot about its wearer, a controversial Jewish intellectual and prolific author who is also the spiritual leader at a San Francisco synagogue... [Lerner is i]n Sydney before the Parliament of the World's Religions Interfaith Conference in Melbourne this week... Of the Middle East conflict, he said yesterday: 'The first step towards peace is for both sides to stop saying 'We're the innocent victims and the other guys are evil' - which is the discourse which predominates both in the Arab world and the Jewish world. We have to transcend the blame game and move to a discourse of mutual compassion'." (From jail to the White House, rabbi gets his message across, Kelsey Munro)

I noted that "[a]s a student activist in Berkeley in the 1960s, [Lerner] was arrested and jailed for his role as an organiser in an anti-Vietnam War protest that turned violent..."

The Vietnam War, eh? Remember that? Bit hazy? Well let me jog your memory. Here's what Vietnamese scholar, Nguyen Khac Vien (1913-1997), had to say about that conflict:

"That Hitler's Germany could savagely attack the Soviet Union might be explained. But why should Washington vent its fury on this little country, Vietnam? In what way did our people threaten the vital interests of the United States? Why did 5 successive American presidents seek to crush us by any means possible? There can be only one answer to all these questions. American imperialism nurses vast designs, and its way to world hegemony passes through the conquest and subjugation of the third world. It so happened that Vietnam was giving a bad example by stubbornly refusing to allow itself to be dominated and assimilated, by being determined to preserve its integrity and independence. This black sheep, this alien element, this unfortunate pebble on the road, had to be eliminated at any cost. The best American brains - engineers, scientists, sociologists, economists, ethnologists, churchmen - were mobilized to this end. The Vietnamese people went through many trials: B52s, steel-pellet bombs, laser-guided bombs, election farces, tiger cages, operations Phoenix and Swan. Just think: two hundred billion dollars! And the most extraordinary thing of all is that it failed!" (Tradition & Revolution in Vietnam, Nguyen Khac Vien, 1974, p 3)

Now that got me thinking about Michael Lerner. Was the P plate rabbi back then sporting the paired flags of the United States and Vietnam on his lapel? If not, why not? Was he of the view that both sides were equally blameworthy/innocent? If not, why not? Was he preaching mutual compassion to both sides? If not, why not? Consistency demands it.

1 comment:

非凡 said...

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