A moving petition by the Council on American-Islamic Relations came my way recently. To view the text, and some heart-rending but not horrifying images of the destruction in Lebanon, go to http://www.notinamericasname.org/ .
I like the tone of the petition, which encourages Americans, in particular, to take a stand against the continued bombing of civilians in Lebanon.I like the tone of the petition, which encourages Americans, in particular, to take a stand against the continued bombing of civilians in Lebanon. Around one million Lebanese have now been displaced. (The news articles about families torn apart, parents digging their toddlers from the rubble, and the continuing horror there are unbearable). The petition reads, in part, "We, the undersigned, wish to state that our government's refusal to call for and work toward an immediate cease-fire in the Middle East is unjust, immoral and counterproductive. We believe that those elected officials who reject a cease-fire are not acting in our nation's best interests and we wish to state clearly that they do not speak in our name."
CAIR , a national group headquartered in Washington, DC, concerns itself with promoting interfaith understanding and protecting the civil liberties of Muslim Americans. It eschews the rhetoric of rage and violence, and condemns terrorism on all sides. The group's home page endorses a fatwa against terrorism issued on July 28 by the Fiqh Council of North America and supported by an array of other U.S. Muslim groups and leaders: "Islam strictly condemns religious extremism and the use of violence against innocent lives. There is no justification in Islam for extremism or terrorism. Targeting civilians' life and property through suicide bombings or any other method of attack is haram – or forbidden - and those who commit these barbaric acts are criminals, not martyrs."
The focus on ending the suffering of civilians and reaching peace is heartening.
So is a large demonstration for peace in Israel. Tikkun magazine e-mailed a summary of reports by Yuli Kromchenko and Yoav Stern, Haaretz correspondents , and Reuters: "More than 5,000 people marched in Tel Aviv on Saturday evening, to protest the ongoing Israel Defense Forces operation in Lebanon. Demonstrators set off from Dizengoff Street and marched along King George Street, which was closed to traffic, calling for an end to the conflict and the withdrawal of Israeli troops from Lebanon, and denouncing Defense Minister Amir Peretz."
Also in Tikkun, Israeli peace activist Uri Avneri condemns the "arrogance and contempt" of the Israeli government's approach to dealing with the Palestinians and Arabs.
Beyond the Israeli and American governments' belligerent and destructive behavior in Lebanon, and the mounting rage of Hezbollah and its supporters, these voices for peace and for protecting civilians in Israel, the United States, and the Arab world, are reason for hope.
Ruth Conniff covers national politics for The Progressive and is a voice of The Progressive on many TV and radio programs.