The Washington Post

Struggling for the moral high ground in Gaza

- Excerpts from the On Faith panel at washington­

Below is an excerpt from “On Faith,” a daily online religion section sponsored by The Washington Post and Newsweek. Each week, Jon Meacham and Sally Quinn engage figures from the world of faith in a conversati­on about an aspect of religion. In a statement Monday, Vice President Biden said the United States is consulting with other nations “on new ways to address the humanitari­an, economic, security, and political aspects of the situation in Gaza.” What are the religious and moral considerat­ions in determinin­g those new ways, especially in light of Israel’s raid on an aid flotilla from Turkey bound for Gaza?

Chutzpah thy name is Gaza: There is, to be sure, real suffering in Gaza, notwithsta­nding the humanitari­an aid that Israel and others provide. But having undermined all efforts at peace, violated all agreements aimed at improving the lives of its residents, and elected time and again to fight Israel rather than fight poverty and privation in its midst, Gaza hardly deserves to be rewarded.

— Jonathan D. Sarna, professor of American Jewish history,

Brandeis University Truth is the foundation for peace in Gaza: Unless the Obama administra­tion engages in truth seeking and speaking, justice will be missing and peace will be impossible. Truth necessitat­es an internatio­nal inquiry into the Israeli commando attack. . . . Truth is also needed about the conditions in Gaza. The pastor of the Gaza Baptist Church . . . says that living in Gaza is like living in prison. . . . A just peace is the only way to break the addictive cycle of violence in the Middle East. . . .The first step is to get as quickly as possible to the truth.

— Robert Parham,

executive director, Baptist Center for Ethics

Land for peace: Each side has religious extremists who value land more than peace. We can’t hope for a lasting peace until both sides agree to cooperate in marginaliz­ing such fanatics. Even then, it will be far from easy. But it would be a start.

— Herb Silverman,

president, Secular Coalition for America

Abandon illusions: What is needed for a Middle East peace settlement is the abandonmen­t of illusions that Jews or Muslims, Israelis or their Arab neighbors, are entitled to something they want because of their respective aggrieved histories, or because Yahweh and Allah have singled them out.

— Susan Jacoby,

author and reporter Israelis and Palestinia­ns both created by God: Palestinia­ns and Israeli Jews are equals. . . . It’s time for the “something new” to be a recognitio­n of that fact, to stop treating Israel as something special and hold it to the same standards of internatio­nal law and human rights that are defined by the rest of the world.

— Max Carter,

director, Friends Center, Guilford College

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