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Rebuilding Begins - New Ideas are Needed

by Salvador Litvak

August 26, 2014 | 12:19 pm

Carrying bricks in Tel Aviv, 1920. Library of Congress.

Rava said: If the righteous wanted, they could create a new world. (Sanhedrin 65b, B. Talmud)

An open-ended cease-fire has been declared in Gaza.

We pray that it lasts.

If it does, new ideas are needed for creating a status quo that won't backslide into more of the same tragic conflict.

I know that brighter, more informed, and more experienced individuals have applied themselves to this challenge.

Either their ideas didn't work, however, or they were unable to cut through the nearly impassable barrier to implementation.

That is not a reason to stop thinking.

My pals, what do you suggest? What ideas would you try? What are your favorite ideas that haven't been tried?

We don't need political screeds, nor rehashing of old arguments. We're looking for new ideas. If your opinion is that Israel shouldn't exist, this isn't a forum for you.

I'll kick it off by saying that the region has been violent throughout its history, with peace achieved only in bursts and usually imposed by strong central authority. I don't say this to doom rebuilding efforts, but rather to suggest that any initiative meant to create long-lasting peace will have to survive repeated setbacks.

Successful initiatives must also change long-standing patterns of thought and behavior.

In light of that, I would look first for a way to reach minds that aren't being reached.

No matter what Israel's critics can say about its policies, they cannot say that their views aren't reaching the average Israeli. Israel has a robust free press and innumerable voices that criticize every decision the leadership makes.

The same cannot be said of Gaza. There is no opposing voice. There is no option to Hamas. Any voice that speaks out against the leadership is terrorized and brutalized into silence. Therefore, the average Gazan never hears alternatives to the status quo presented in coherent fashion.

Dropping leaflets won't do.

Alternative views are available on the internet, but how often do any of us go online to seek viewpoints different than our own, accompanied by an actual willingness to change? Not often.

How often would we do that if we felt besieged by war? Zero sounds like a good round number.

So, I would start with a one-hour presentation in movie format that shows empathy for all that the Gazans have lost, and then paints a picture of what peace would look like alongside Israel - a country that is not only militarily tough, but also forward-looking.

In short, Gaza could become a technological and touristic hub, with prosperity in abundance, if it would simply accept the existence of Israel.

I would then make sure that this movie gets seen by every Gazan that comes through for questioning, rebuilding assistance, medical care, etc. The number is not small.

How many minds would be changed? Precious few. Perhaps only those who are so sick of war that any alternative would be worth a try.

I'm not an idiot. I don't believe for a moment that such a film, no matter how even-handed, would reverse centuries-old thought patterns among a large group of hurt and angry people.

Those precious few, however, might become the building blocks of change, especially if they're equipped with other, better ideas that emerge from brainstorming forums like this one.

So, my friends, what have you got?

Salvador Litvak wrote & directed the Passover comedy and cult hit, When Do We Eat? His newest film, Saving Lincoln explores Abraham Lincoln's fiery trial as Commander-in-Chief through the eyes of his closest friend, Ward Hill Lamon. Litvak shares a daily bit of ancient wisdom from the Talmud with a rapidly growing community at Facebook.com/AccidentalTalmudist.

To receive a brief notice when Accidental Talmudist posts something new, please click here.

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR

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Salvador Litvak is a Chilean Jewtino who’s lived in the U.S. since he was five. He graduated from Harvard, NYU Law and UCLA Film. He lives in Los Angeles with his wife and...

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