Bhikkhu Bodhi speaks out

Forgive me if this has already been shared.

Said by a monk I already respect, but who I didn’t know was of Jewish descent, it would be more or less impossible for me to find anything more compelling.



Thank you for sharing this Gillian! :pray:


Yes, indeed, and it’s about time Buddhists start meditating in the streets, standing up, and moving for truth.


Thanks for sharing this.

I agree with everything he says. I have not spoken much on this issue because it is very complex and I don’t know much about it. But it has gone way beyond the point where it could be considered a legitimate response.

It seems to me, again based on very limited knowledge, that calls for peace will not succeed until the source of the problem is removed. In this case, the leadership of both Hamas and Netanyahu is based on the creation of division and conflict. I cannot see how a meaningful resolution or a two state solution can be achieved until such extremists are removed from power. This conflict has been long forseen; I recall discussing it with an Israeli nun at Santi maybe fifteen years ago. She was horrified at the direction her country was going and now here we are. There are many Israelis like her who oppose what Netanyahu is doing.

Easier said than done, I know. I don’t have any answers. I just hope some peace is achieved for the sake of the innocents who suffer.


It is essentially an international problem because Gaza has been occupied and then blockaded and the international powers have done nothing to stop this situation. Keep in mind, it was the United Nations by international voting who created the State of Israel for European people, which resulted in the subsequent displacement of 800,000 Palestinian peoples in 1948. For monks trained in the rules of ethics, the situation should not be overly complex. It is not complex in Wikipedia.

Later, during the 1967 Six-Day War, Israel captured and occupied the Gaza Strip, initiating its decades-long military occupation of the Palestinian territories.[8][9] The mid-1990s Oslo Accords established the Palestinian Authority ¶ as a limited governing authority, initially led by the secular party Fatah until that party’s electoral defeat in 2006 to the Sunni Islamic Hamas. Hamas would then take over the governance of Gaza in a battle the next year,[10][11][12][13] subsequently warring with Israel.

In 2005, Israel unilaterally withdrew its military forces from Gaza, dismantled its settlements, and implemented a temporary blockade of Gaza. The blockade became indefinite after the 2007 Hamas takeover, supported by Egypt through restrictions on its land border with Gaza.[14] Despite the Israeli disengagement, the United Nations, the International Committee of the Red Cross, and many human-rights organizations continue to consider Gaza to be held under Israeli military occupation, due to what they consider Israel’s effective military control over the territory; Israel disputes that it occupies the territory.[15][16][17] The land, sea, and air blockade prevents people and goods from freely entering or leaving the territory, leading to Gaza often being called an “open-air prison.”[18][19] The UN, as well as at least 19 human-rights organizations, have urged Israel to lift the blockade.[20] Israel has justified its blockade on the strip with wanting to stop flow of arms, but Palestinians and rights groups say it amounts to collective punishment and exacerbates dire living conditions

Gaza Strip - Wikipedia.

The Olso Accords Among the notable outcomes of the Oslo Accords was the creation of the Palestinian National Authority, which was tasked with the responsibility of conducting limited Palestinian self-governance over parts of the West Bank and the Gaza Strip; and the international acknowledgement of the PLO as Israel’s partner in permanent-status negotiations about any remaining issues revolving around the Israeli–Palestinian conflict. Bilateral dialogue stems from questions related to the international border between Israel and a future Palestinian state: negotiations for this subject are centered around Israeli settlements, the status of Jerusalem, Israel’s maintenance of control over security following the establishment of Palestinian autonomy, and the Palestinian right of return. The Oslo Accords did not create a definite Palestinian state

Oslo Accords - Wikipedia

As for Hamas, they are not a nation. They cannot be compared to Russia or Ukraine. Despite the unskillful nature of their actions, Hamas is a resistance group of (but not explicitly representing) an occupied land & people therefore it does not sound just/fair to place them on an equal footing with the State of Israel. Again, keep in mind, despite the Olso Accords, a free Palestine nation was never created prior to the emergence of Hamas. In addition, the origins of Hamas were/are questionable (per the video below); however this has no relevance to the inequity of the situation. Israel is a military superpower and Gaza is a helpless blockaded prison. Hamas expressed their rationale in this recent document: Our Narrative…Operation Al-Aqsa Flood. The question of the correctness of Hamas’s rationale is not relevant but it is beneficial to at least try to understand their motivations & to listen to their side of the story.

Buddhists without prejudice/bias who wish to better understand this situation should have listened to the case presented under the Genocide Convention brought against Israel by South Africa to the International Court of Justice. It was broadcast live. It is probably best to listen to trained professionals on this subject. Also, the International Court of Justice will be conducting public hearings for all of next week on this matter (refer to Press release No. 2024/15 9 February 2024](Press releases | INTERNATIONAL COURT OF JUSTICE)).

I have always agreed with this view however it is unjust to impute equity towards both parties. I attended the weekly rallies below. I think it is important to act like this. Numbers/participation are important. Despite attending a number of times, I did not see or listen to any Buddhist monks or Christian priests speak, despite the rally being in the shadow of a Cathedral.


Australian Government must do better on Israel-Gaza War Andrew Wilkie

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Thank you, Gillian, for sharing this! I would add as backdrop to his statement (which I support):
Here in the US over the last two+ months there’s been a fervent effort led by some lay Buddhists (including former monastics), joined by some monastics (including Bhikkhu Bodhi), for a call-to-action. I am not privy to their discussions (nor would I be).

That said, the call-to-action seems to focus on social media as a means not only to issue the call-to-action but to (1) organically shape/consolidate the message and (2) call out those lay Buddhists – often by name and including their associated lay Buddhist communities – who are silent on this crisis. At times, there are inferences that Buddhists (at least in the US and lay or otherwise) are misusing their religion (however we might call this) to remain silent. Frequently, it appears that the litmus test is engaging social media to demonstrate one is not being silent and to define what Buddhist activism looks like in this crisis.

I have not, during this awful time of watching the human misery unfold in Israel and Gaza, seen Bhikkhu Bodhi doing this in the slightest-- the calling-out and shaming part; however, I do note use of the not-remaining-silent admonishment in his statement and wanted to add the backdrop. He may very well be speaking completely independently of the grass-roots effort I described above.

It’s been very painful for me to watch this play out in the US Buddhist community (mostly US). I feel many lay Buddhist teachers have been publicly shamed. I’m not convinced social media is the best way to activate people for this crisis – especially when it feels like shaming and, frankly, bullying. Perhaps more amicable discussions are happening in private; it’s not apparent to average people like me.


I’ve not seen the public shaming of Buddhists, but it doesn’t sound particularly conducive to a unified front of empathy and compassion.


Public shaming does not sound like a Buddhist practice to me. Possibly this can be clarified. If Western Buddhists considered it important to present a public voice on this Gaza matter, I picture it being lead by monks & nuns, who I also picture (being a Sangha) have the efficient means to communicate with each other. Also, while I picture many Western Buddhists would be compassionately influenced by the Holocaust history, i think it is important to be mindful Israel is a major contributor the Western military industrial complex (examples here, here & here), which is Wrong Livelihood in Buddhism. As said, this Military Industrial Complex is not solely a Israeli phenomena but an interconnected phenomena of many Western nations, such as the USA, UK, EU & even Australia.

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Thanks for the context. People respond to crises in their own way, and it is an important part of Buddhism to respect differences. I think staying silent sends an important message: not everyone has to express an opinion about everything. Not everyone who wants to teach meditation and Dhamma has signed on for a role in counseling on international relations. And not everyone believes that “speaking out on things” will make a difference.


Thanks for posting that, had not seen that until today. I’m also of Jewish descent and I lived in Israel during my high school years and I agree with him.


I hope the Venerable remained silent about the issue for the following reasons:

1- He spoke of “legitimate response” engaging with the slippery slope of violence. Even if the venerable was addressing “worldly standards” or “being realistic”, i still disagree with his assessment. By and large, Israel’s response is illegitimate because it was initiated from a place of weakness - i.e covering up the security failure on October 7th - in a country that was established as a safe haven for the Jewish people. As such, the venerable’s analysis failed to meet the spiritual standards of ahimsa, and the worldly standard linking truth to power.

2- He reiterated the ICJ opinion calling Israel’s actions as “plausible genocide” which puts legal designations above ending violence (ceasefire). It makes one wonder how the venerable differentiates the essential from the non-essential in this particular context.

3- The venerable still has faith that the key to the solution is in the US hands. Only if the US pressures Israel enough, they would stop. If the US demonstrated that it is not an honest mediator, then why should we still have faith in its intervention? Maybe its best for Israel, and the rest of the region, to stop being a US puppets.

I recommend everyone read Vaclav Havel’s The Power of the Powerless. When people are required to speak out and voice a particular view, it’s a hallmark of ideological control. When an ideology becomes monolithic, people “speak out” to be safe in a society that will attack them for being suspiciously silent, not just for dissenting. This was what life under Marxist rule was like, and this same type of control of behavior and speech is increasingly evident in the so-called liberal democracies, all of which are sliding into illiberal democracies if they haven’t already reached that point. As @sujato says, it’s not normal for people in insist someone read from a script to be considered acceptable to them.


They both hate each other, and both refuse a 2 state solution. You’re never going to get peace with a far right party in charge in Israel and Islamic terrorists in Palestine (Gaza).

Thanks so much Charles, that’s exactly the point I was trying to make.

In my whole life, since I was 18, I’ve been involved in various kinds of protests. The first public one, I was on the nightly news talking about the abuse meted out to the elephant in our Perth zoo.

In all the things I’ve done, one thing I have consistently seen: none of it has made any difference. I walked with the children against climate change, in hundreds of thousands, and all the (former) government did was send police with guns. The people with power just … exercise their power. If they feel like accommodating you they might. Otherwise they just go on. And on.

So at this point in my life I am assessing, what are we really doing? If we want a better world, what is stopping us? Not to get all philosophical, but anyway, that’s where I am at right now.

Most things; we are in samsara.

If having any solutions to solve the issues, one does not need to worry and distress; if unable to have any solutions to fix the problems, one does not need to concern too much either. Just do what one can do for overcoming dukkha in the world.

Things, yes, but mostly these good people who want a better world created according to their ideas, and who think our better world isn’t at all a good world for them. :thinking: And of course who have more power at their disposal.

Right, might. It is right to follow the right, it is necessary to follow the mighty.

Right without might is helpless, might without right is tyrannical.

Right without might is challenged, because there are always evil men about. Might without right is denounced. We must therefore combine right and might, and to that end make right into might or might into right.

Right is open to dispute, might is easily recognized and beyond dispute. Therefore right could not be made mighty because might challenged right, calling it unjust and itself claiming to be just.

Being thus unable to make right into might, we have made might into right.


That sounds pretty logical, but I doubt Palestinians will find consolation in such logic.

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Although this was posed more as a hypothetical, and setting aside every overt description of suffering we find in the Pali Canon, the reason there is a perpetual falling short of making the world better is because that need is always based on the collective desire of individuals, which for most people is a heavily shifting and layered affair. One’s reasons for desiring change do not remain consistent - they shift with health, age, maturity, intelligence, responsibilities, new desires, greed, hate, infatuation, wisdom, and the list goes on. With that, the responsibility of making the world better is constantly shifting between individuals, generations, groups, nations, depending on how you want to analyze it.

The point I’m trying to make is, the end goal of a “better world” does not take center stage at all times for any individual, let alone groups of individuals. Every person is fighting their own personal battle to gather some meaning for their life before they get to unhealthy or too old, and the “better world” is external to that. It is at best an acquisition for the person who puts in an effort they deem acceptable (one they will still have to lose like everything else). And that acceptability, for most, can only ever be based on the individual’s assessment of their own agreement or disagreement with their circumstances.

So what’s stopping us? The fact that our understanding of the world and its betterment is a product of how each individual lives. Billions of products perpetually under the threat of personal collapse and death. Coming and going. Hard to stay dedicated enough to the externality and eternality of the world with all that to deal with.

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