November 22, 2023

I woke up to 2 sad & angry letters from folks I like re: Israel & Gaza.

I woke up this morning to two sad and angry messages (one a letter) from folks I like and respect re Israel and Gaza.

My reply to the first, which was pro-Gazan, anti-Israeli:

I don’t think you know what I think, not that what I think matters. I don’t think you’ve read what I’ve written. I’m aware of the land theft, I’m aware of the oppression, the control, the wealth on one side, the terrorism on the other, the military might on the other, etc. You and I both have to acknowledge all truths on all sides. That doesn’t mean being 50-50, it’s much more sensitive and feeling and honest than that. You said I’m “middle of the line,” I didn’t.

I called out Bibi WHEN the terrorism attack happened, and lost thousands of pro-Israeli readers. I’m angering both sides. That’s okay. Calling out terrorism and far-right warhawks, aggression by anyone, any killing of innocents, and children, is simple or should be.

You also need to acknowledge the history of the holocaust and anti-semitism. I think that’s missing from your rather self-righteous writing (assuming I don’t care to have already studied and understand or care is…not on). And if we are righteous about one people, we must be righteous about all oppressed peoples, and that historically and presently does mean standing up against anti-semitism, against Islamaphobia, for the Uhghurs and Tibetans (I hear radio silence on that from the countless suddenly-aware Social Media Heroes), against Amazon and Big Tech and other pushers of inequality and climate crisis, which is destroying our whole world and the vulnerable first and hardest…I do, unlike you to me, assume you are aware and caring about all this.

Obama’s talk was one of the few that acknowledged all truths on all sides. I think John Oliver’s was good, too, the comedian.

To an Israeli friend and longtime writer:

Hey. I continue, frankly, to be confused about why we are on such different pages. I not only acknowledge but have written about anti-Semitism for many years, even when it was not “cool” or common to do so. I simply care about innocents on both sides, I am okay with acknowledging uncomfortable truths (far-right Israeli West Bank bullying/expansion, oppression of Gaza, murder and rape and kidnapping by Hamas, etc). When I was in Tel Aviv, most of our friends hated Netanyahu. I view him and Hamas as two sides of one coin, essentially, with innocents caught between them. And in this case the Gazans are helpless, 50% are children due to such low life expectancy thanks to the extremists on both sides and fear and oppression. I understand fear of another holocaust is at root of much of this pro-active oppression of the Gazans, but that doesn’t make it effective or moral.

As for feeling broken-hearted, re-read Shambhala. Feeling broken-hearted is a good thing. It’s what it’s like to be human and alive and aware and feeling, caring, all of which you are.

As for Elephant being your community, yes, we always will be as long as you like. But we have always been a community that isn’t one voice, that doesn’t agree with itself. Folks always in times like these want to say “elephant is great” “elephant is wrong” “boycott elephant” “share this elephant article” forgetting that every article is just once voice. We are a community, not a cult. Folks disagree with me all the time, and that’s okay/great as long as things are based on facts and common values. Often I’m wrong, and learn as I go. Perhaps this is such a time!

I’ll link various articles by Elephant readers/writers below.

But take it from me, growing up in a wonderful, flawed, but wonderful Buddhist community–there is no refuge. No perfect community. If you want that, if you are looking for that, you will never find it. Please feel free to write more on Elephant and you can always request a different editor if you and Lisa are not on the same page, though I would encourage you to work with one another and listen–this is the hard work the world needs to do.
Waylon H. Lewis
Host: Walk the Talk Show; Founder: elephantjournal.com. Awards. Since 2002. Largest online indie media mindful community in the world.
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More on this topic:
Why Anti-Semitism is En Vogue.
I Do Not Believe more Children need to Die to Pay for my Family’s Suffering.
An (Incomplete) Beginner’s Guide to the Israel-Hamas War.

Today I Woke Up. [Free Palestine]
Powerful Words for Israel, Palestine & Everyone who’s on the Side of Humanity.

In Times of Conflict: A War Cry from Pema Chödrön to take Radical Responsibility.
Poetry is my Response to War.

“Mummy, Are We Going to Die?” Well, It’s Complicated. On Israel & Palestine.
A Pema Chödrön Quote to Comfort & Empower us in Dark Times.

Finally, I’d add that overall I’m humbled by and a huge fan of what Biden as been trying to do, especially in contrast to the lazy hate of Trump and his ilk.



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