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What Obama should do 10 Sep 2013 22:34 #7940

  • Rabbi Michael Lerner
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Aryeh Cohen, a professor of Rabbinics at the American Jewish University (and a member of the Tikkun Editorial Board) and I, wrote an op-ed on what should happen in Syria. Please read it below.
And then as chair of the Network of Spiritual Progressives, I participated in an outreach to Congress together with 40 "faith leaders." I urge you to send both of these (see below) to your elected representatives and to anyone else.

I'm convinced, however, that while military action is NOT the appropriate course of action, and the U.S. is not the appropriate voice to lead an international response, the feeling of many people around the world that the killings in Syria have to stop comes from a very good place and is a sign of increased caring in the world about our neighbors. I only wish similar feelings had found political expression in the 1930s when both Hitler and Stalin were engaged in genocidal assaults in Germany and Russia, or when France, and later the U.S., engaged in horrific killings in Vietnam and when Pol Pot's regime led to massive killings in Cambodia and U.S. supported coups in Iran and Chile led to massive deaths.

So it's not enough to say "no" to Obama's plan--we also need to develop a long-term mechanism to deal with these kinds of situations, and we should use the present moment to switch the discourse from "should the US bomb Syria?" to "how do we mobilize an effective non-violent response to mass murder inside countries of the world--and what steps can we take NOW to build the kind of institutions and global policies that will make future killings by oppressive governments significantly less likely?" And, yes, we (not just the US, but all people on the planet) have an ethical responsibility to care for the well-being and the safety of everyone else on the planet--and no, that is not intrinsically imperialism or meddling in others' affairs.

That we do not yet have the strategies and institutions that can immediately implement a non-violent response in these situations is not a good argument for a violent response in Syria, but it is a good reason to urgently develop those strategies and institutions now to respond to the needs of those who suffer in this world. I'll be sharing my proposals in future issues of Tikkun (particularly the Spring 2014 issue of the magazine), but I'm anxious to hear your answers to that question--after you read and absorb the two articles below!!! Please post this letter and the articles below on your web pages, facebook or other social media, and send these to every email list to which you have access.

Rabbi Michael Lerner, Editor, Tikkun
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