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LEO THE HEALER REVISITED: ARE DEEDS OR WORDS MORE IMPORTANT?

Folks, would love your feedback on this, comments, debates.
I had written a piece earlier on Leo Kramer's pioneering work supporting Palestinian and Israeli doctors who work together. Leo's follow-up article, Israeli, Palestinian Doctors Affect Change on the Ground, is even more revealing. Leo writes that the medical work is vital because doing is more important than talking, a theme I have been trying to push recently in It Is What You Do That Defines You. Leo writes:

These efforts, however, must also be directed toward achieving results on the ground. That means ameliorating the insecurity of the Israelis, while addressing the deprivation of the Palestinians, their need for medical services, goods, utilities, food and freedom of movement. The overt violence of the conflict is bad enough for both sides, without the medical and humanitarian border crises, which thwart the struggle to maintain a basic standard of living for the Palestinians.

To properly approach security and standard of living concerns, we must consider the following:

1. Israel came to agreements with Egypt and Jordan without demanding that they first recognize Israel.

2. The Palestinians do not have the military capability to invade Israel. They can do harm to nearby cities, but a Palestinian invasion is out of the question.

3. To believe in democracy and promote it by deeds as well as words means countries (including the United States and Israel) must accept the results of an honest election, even though they did not support the winners.

4. When the deeds do not match the words, trust is lost. After an election that was certified as honest by observers from the United States, necessities which cross the border to Gaza were rationed, cut back, and limited. What religious tradition advocates such actions against a civilian population? Certainly the Christian, Muslim or Jewish religions would not justify such a response.

5. Israel recently prevented university students from Gaza to travel abroad to study at institutions which had already accepted them. This involved hundreds of students who are still waiting for permission to cross the border, including Fulbright scholars to American universities. It is to Israel's advantage to have an educated populace at their border, especially if they have received their education in the western tradition.

I agree with Leo that deeds much more than words define relationships between adversaries. The beauty of positive gestures and deeds is that they often can be crafted in such a way as to give away nothing strategically but to make a profound impact on the psychology of conflict. The key to the future is not peace or conflict resolution, which can elude us for so many reasons at any given time. It is our deeds that promote a positive change in human relationships. Every purposeful act of humiliation creates ten more enemies. Every authentic act of generosity, kindness or respect creates ten more friends. This much we can be certain of in a chaotic world.

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Yes, good example, Elaine. sort of? There are gestures as symbols, then gestures as strong moral deeds. What he did were strong symbolic gestures. He had two roles, he was party to the conflict, in terms of Egypt and Arab states gainst Israel, but he was also a third party to an existential fight for one piece of land of Palestinians and Jews. His gesture was beautiful symbol as a party to the conflict to reach out to Israel. In that way, it was phenomenally successful. But as a third party he showed great respect for the Jews in this land, but did not really make a gesture to the Palestinians. He fought for them in the peace process, but in the end he came out only taking back Egyptian territory. He was seen as betraying the Palestinians, or the Arab Cause. I don't have much respect for the latter but alot for the former. If i were advising him at the time I would have suggested something he do meaningful and substantive for Palestinian refugees, the Arabs of israel, the Islamic holy places, or something. he gained many jewish friends and lost many arab friends. Third parties need to win friends on both sides--and be willing to lose some on both sides.
I think #s 3 and 4 are very ill-taken, for reasons I've expressed many times already.
And three of those Gaza students (#5) were just sent back by the US - after great efforts were made to get them there without proper vetting.

But I agree with the general tone of this piece. I agree that
"The beauty of positive gestures and deeds is that they often can be crafted in such a way as to give away nothing strategically but to make a profound impact on the psychology of conflict."
and that
"It is our deeds that promote a positive change in human relationships. Every purposeful act of humiliation creates ... more enemies. Every authentic act of generosity, kindness or respect creates ... more friends."

We certainly need more small and unquestionably positive acts,
than grandiose but illusory ones.
i understand your objection to three and four. i understand the moral position. i wish i could hear a good alternative that would acknowledge the crime of encouraging elections then rejecting the results, even engineering a coup that backfired, or of helping to create an atmosphere in the first place in which Hamas was preferred by 30% . this is not a completely created Jewish problem, or american problem, but responsibilty must be shared, and alternatives given. collective punishment of millions is not the way. war with hamas in perpetuity is not the way. what is it? what positive deeds could be done to break the deadlock if you think we should never recognize a hamas government there?
Deep question.
First, have some principles others can see in us and respect.
The crime was promoting an election in which an anti-democratic entity was allowed to participate.
I can imagine the argument being made that when it says "must accept the results of an honest election" that means 'must do whatever hamas say because they won, even to the extent of accepting their verdict on Israel's existence.'
Can't happen.

War in perpetuity is certainly not the way.
War to win and get the enemy to admit defeat, maybe.
Creative use of your resources to obtain your objectives without war, far better.

I don't even say "never recognize" a Hamas govt.
I'll gladly recognize a Hamas govt. that recognizes human rights.

What positive deeds? On a personal level, make personal connections.
Help build civil society and dignified jobs, and human rights institutions, within Palestine.
On a large-scale, I could give you a very long list of simple, but potentially really- meaningful, things that the Israeli gov't should be doing right now, and isn't.

Marc wrote that: "Leo writes that the medical work is vital because doing is more important than talking." That indeed is true. And so we must look at all of the relevant deeds.

And it may well be true that: "Every authentic act of generosity, kindness or respect creates ten more friends. This much we can be certain of in a chaotic world." And so that is why SOME members of this so resolutely attempt to focus their activities on that. They are FOR something, that is humane and constructive.

That is unlike the phony peacemakers who want to ban and silence others who disagree with them, and some who simply attempt patriarch-like to impose their views and who assert that disagreeing with them is impertinent.

Indeed, the only thing there is, is deeds: real constructive deeds and not unsoundly based egotistical platitudes!

hi paul, you are very angry. lots of burned relationships here. try to heal them and move on to the more important work we are trying to accomplish here. i know you want to. there may be some very different conceptions afoot as to what is legitimate debate and what is aggression. cultural differences and human differences. try to heal them and move on. we have important work to do here. best, marc

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