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Archive for the ‘War & Peace’ Category



A Checkpoint Is No Place for a Mezuzah

Dec11

by: Tali Ruskin on December 11th, 2015 | 9 Comments »

A few weeks ago, I was traveling with a group of 35 American tourists, a Palestinian bus driver, and a Palestinian tour guide from Jenin (a Palestinian city in the West Bank) to Nazareth (a Palestinian city inside the Green Line). When we came to the Jalameh checkpoint, the soldiers pulled us over to an area for additional screening, where we joined tens of Palestinians, most of whom were Israeli citizens on their way home from shopping, visiting relatives, or working.

Checkpoint

What followed for the next fifteen minutes was a routine exercise in ethnic profiling, in which 20-year-old Jewish Israeli soldiers, armed with heavy artillery, are empowered to make decisions about who is or is not fit to pass. After taking the two Palestinians off the bus for interrogation, several more soldiers came onto the bus to check our passports. One soldier stood at the back of the bus, pointing his gun down toward one of the few people of color in our group, staring at him in creepy silence (not unlike the 44 seconds of silence that Netanyahu performed for the UN). When they finally asked him for his passport and saw that is was not American, they did not simply glance at it and return it to him, as they had done with the rest of the group. “Why?”, they asked him. Why was he traveling with a group of Americans, where had he been, what had he been doing, who had he stayed with, did he have family in Jenin. Eventually, they returned his passport to him, and told us to take all of our stuff and get off the bus to go through the metal detector.

Checkpoint GatesAs I approached the trailer that contained the metal detector and soldiers checking IDs, I saw a mezuzah posted on the entrance. My heart sank. At once, I felt shame, sadness, rage, and disgust. I explained to my fellow delegates that the mezuzah is a Jewish ritual object that contains a scroll on which the following words from the Torah are written:

“And thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy might. And these words, which I command thee this day, shall be upon thy heart; and thou shalt teach them diligently unto thy children, and shalt talk of them when thou sittest in thy house, and when thou walkest by the way, and when thou liest down, and when thou risest up. And thou shalt bind them for a sign upon thy hand, and they shall be for frontlets between thine eyes. And thou shalt write them upon the doorposts of thy house, and upon thy gates.” – Deuteronomy 6: 4-9

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The Middle East: Toward I – Thou

Dec1

by: Jim Donnellan on December 1st, 2015 | 1 Comment »

Not Long ago, Martin Buber urged us to move beyond the human tendency to see others as objects.

In a just published book, Padraig O’Malley probes beneath the surface of the Israeli Palestinian conflict. His book, “The Two-State Delusion ” provides insights into the human reality driving this conflict. It is a welcome addition to the many books on the subject because the road to peace has produced 60+ years of frustration. None of these well-intentioned efforts have achieved their objective.

So one has to ask why. Padraig details critical data points which provide significant insight into the answer to that question. At the ground level — the level of human reality — there are huge problems to be overcome before an overarching solution can be achieved. Given the states of mind of the various parties involved, a much different approach than the ones used to date is required.

Let me briefly illustrate:


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Life in Kabul Goes on Under the Helicopters

Nov12

by: Brian Terrell on November 12th, 2015 | 7 Comments »

When I arrived at the Kabul International Airport on November 4, I was unaware that the same day the New York Times published an article, “Life Pulls Back in Afghan Capital, as Danger Rises and Troops Recede.” My friends Abdulhai and Ali, 17 years old, young men I have known since my first visit five years ago, greeted me with smiles and hugs and took my bags. Disregarded by soldiers and police armed with automatic weapons, we caught up on old times as we walked past concrete blast walls, sand bag fortifications, check points and razor wire to the public road and hailed a cab.

The sun was just burning through the clouds after an early morning rain and I had never seen Kabul look so bright and clean. Once past the airport, the high way into the city was bustling with rush hour traffic and commerce. I was unaware until I read the New York Times on line a few days later, that this time I was one of only a few US citizens likely to be on that road. “The American Embassy’s not allowed to move by road anymore,” a senior Western official told the Times, which reported further that “after 14 years of war, of training the Afghan Army and the police, it has become too dangerous to drive the mile and a half from the airport to the embassy.”

Credit: Brian Terrell

Helicopters now ferry employees working with the United States and the international military coalition to and from offices in Kabul we are told. The United States Embassy in Kabul is one of the largest in the world and already a largely self-contained community, its personnel are now even more isolated from Afghan people and institutions than before. “No one else,” other than US and coalition facilities, the Times reports, “has a compound with a landing pad.” While proclaiming its mission there “Operation Resolute Support” for Afghanistan, US officials no longer travel on Afghan streets.

We have no helicopters or landing pads, but the security situation in Kabul is also a concern for Voices for Creative Nonviolence, a grass roots peace and human rights organization that I work with and for our friends in the Kabul-based Afghan Peace Volunteers that I came to visit. I am fortunate with my grey beard and darker complexion to more easily pass for a local and so I can move about a bit more freely on the streets than some other internationals who visit here. Even then, my young friends have me wear a turban when we leave the house.


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Obama and Netanyahu: A bad deal for peace, for Israel, for Palestine and for the U.S.

Nov10

by: on November 10th, 2015 | 1 Comment »

OBAMA NETANYAHU

Editor’s Note: Though I published this in the Huffington Post before the meeting, the outcome was exactly as predicted. Netanyahu affirmed his “commitment” to a two state solution, which he has said for years as he continues to expand Israeli settlement in Arab East Jerusalem and the West Bank, and continues with a cabinet filled with overt racists against Palestinians and other refugees. Obama promised him huge new military hardware, as predicted. Netanyahu is paid off for being obnoxious toward the President and arrogant toward the Palestinian people (the latter being the ultimate losers in all this). Of course, I have compassion for Obama, see him as a decent human being, just as I have compassion for the Jewish people still so dominated by Post Traumatic Stress Disorder and seeing the Palestinians through the framework of our past suffering. But unless the rest of us can find a way to heal our Jewish people, the suffering of the Palestinians will continue, as will the growing anger at Jews who are increasingly perceived (unfairly) as having given the Israelis a blank check to do whatever they want to the Palestinian people. My solution can be found in my book Embracing Israel/Palestine www.tikkun.org/eip .

When Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu and President Obama meet in the White House today, their goal will be to make amends in light of Netanyahu’s unprecedented attempts to manipulate the U.S. Congress and the American public into opposition to the Iran Nuclear deal negotiated by six countries including the U.S.

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“Broken Window Policies” are Discriminatory and Should be Opposed in U.S., Israel

Oct24

by: M. Dove Kent, Donna Nevel, Rebecca Vilkomerson on October 24th, 2015 | 8 Comments »

Dear Mayor de Blasio:

 
We understand that, during your recent trip to Israel, you offered the New York Police Department’s “broken windows” approach to policing as a model for world leaders on how to stay alert to anti-Semitism. This advice took place against a backdrop of new legislation approved by the Israeli government enabling police to conduct “stop and frisk” searches without requiring proof of reasonable suspicion — a law that is being selectively enforced against Palestinians. We are deeply disturbed by this recent development, particularly since, as Mayor of New York City, you agreed to court-ordered reforms of the NYPD’s discriminatory “stop and frisk” practices.

“Broken windows” policing is no model for increased safety for Jews or any other community. In New York City, this discriminatory strategy aggressively targets low-income people of color, violates the fundamental rights of New Yorkers, leads to physical and sexual assault, and creates an atmosphere of intimidation, confrontation, and fear, rather than trust. The low-level arrests yielded from this aggressive policing trigger severe consequences for New Yorkers, including job loss, eviction, and even deportation of permanent residents who are not citizens. “Broken windows” policing is fundamentally built on a culture of fear; it must end in New York City and must not be exported elsewhere. It does not, and cannot, aid in the safety in any community, or in the struggle against racism and anti-Semitism.


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Henry Giroux on the Assault on Youth in the US

Oct22

by: Tikkun on October 22nd, 2015 | Comments Off

Editor’s Note: This article appeared first in the wonderful daily website Truth Out and can be read there also.

Perhaps the most drastic element of the war on youth in the U.S. is the willingness of the powerful to continue to squander the resources of the planet earth and destroy the life-support system of the planet. Having abandoned hope in any real transformation of the world, the powerful are willing to continue to amass wealth and power and to ignore all the scientific data that shows that if we continue in the path that we’ve been on for the past several hundred years, the youth of today will be suffering an environmental catastrophe brought on by the selfishness, materialism, chauvinistic nationalism that together are the consequences of global capitalism. Yet the war on youth today has the consequence of making many of them less willing to embrace the kind of seemingly utopian transformations of our society without which the logic of the capitalist order will continue and may yet yield a fascistic outcome to protect the powerful from the righteous indignation of those who will be suffering through the decline of the earth in the next fifty years. That’s why the ESRA–Environmental and Social Responsibility Amendment is at once so important (read it please at www.tikkun.org/esra) and so frequently dismissed as “too visionary to be realistic.” Yet it is actually the most modest first step in the transition from a capitalist society to The Caring Society–Caring for Each Other and Caring for the Earth.

–Rabbi Michael Lerner

rabbilerner.tikkun@gmail.com

Henry Giroux on:

Youth in an Authoritarian Age: Challenging the politics of disposability:

Following the insight of Hannah Arendt, a leading political theorist of mid-20th century totalitarianism, a dark cloud of political and ethical ignorance has descended upon the United States.(1) Thoughtlessness, a primary condition of authoritarian rule, now occupies a privileged, if not celebrated, place in the political landscape and the mainstream cultural apparatuses. A new kind of infantilism now shapes daily life as adults gleefully take on the role of unthinking children, while children are pushed to be adults, stripped of their innocence and subject to a range of disciplinary pressures that saddle them with debt and cripple their ability to be imaginative.(2)

Under such circumstances, agency devolves into a mind-numbing anti-intellectualism evident in the banalities produced by Fox News infotainment and celebrity culture, and in the blinding rage produced by populist politicians who support creationism, argue against climate change and rail against immigration, the rights of women, public service workers, gay people and countless others. There is more at work here than a lethal form of intellectual, political and emotional infantilism. There is also a catastrophe of indifference and inattentiveness that breeds flirtations with irrationality, fuels the spectacle of violence, creates an embodied incapacity and promotes the withering of public life.


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Predators, Near and Far: The Afghan Health Crisis

Oct22

by: Kathy Kelly on October 22nd, 2015 | 1 Comment »

Editor’s Note: This piece was written September 21, 2015.

Kabul—Some days ago, at the Afghan Peace Volunteers’ Borderfree Center, I met Jamila, the mother of a little girl, Fatima, who comes to the Street Kids School, a program designed to help children working on the streets go to school.  Jamila, a young mother of seven, smiles and laughs easily, even though she faces dire circumstances here in Kabul.

Nine years ago, at age 19, she fled escalating conflict in Pul e Khumri, located in the northern province of Baghlan, and moved to Kabul.  Jamila had already been married for 12  years.

Her family, desperate for income, had sold her in marriage to an older man when she was seven years old. As a child, she lived in servitude to the family of her future husband, earning a small income for them through sewing and embroidering.

At age 13, She gave birth to her oldest daughter . With her when we met were two of her middle daughters, Fatima and Nozuko.  Her oldest daughter is no longer with her, as, at age 12, she was given away, six years ago now, in marriage. Jamila is determined not to give her remaining daughters away in marriage while they are still children.

One and a half years ago, Fatima, then aged 9, developed a fever which lasted for about a month. All four of her limbs became paralyzed.  In a hospital at Wazir Akbar Khan, doctors said she was 10 minutes away from death. They treated her for typhoid meningitis and hospitalized her. After a month, the doctors said she was not ready for discharge, but Jamila had other children to take care of and had already incurred huge debt. The doctors made her sign a form saying they were not responsible if Fatima died.  They said Jamila must continue with twice-a-day injections of strong antibiotics.

After being discharged from the hospital, Fatima continued receiving the injections for a year and a half until, one day, about three months ago, Jamila abruptly stopped giving Fatima the injections.  When Fatima developed a fever, Jamila became panicky again.


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Meaning Well in a Tough Situation

Oct21

by: Jeff Green on October 21st, 2015 | Comments Off

Editor’s Note: Directly below is a prayer from Cat Zavis regarding the recent outbreak of violence in Israel and Palestine. The piece by Jeff Green follows immediately after.

As we watch in horror as violence in Israel and Palestine escalates and there continues to be needless and senseless killings, we offer a prayer of love, compassion and strength.

May Israelis and Palestinians find the love that resides deep in their hearts and pulses through all of us, the love that cries to us from the loving energy of the universe to love the “Other,” the “Stranger.” This is a love that can be hard to access and find and yet it is a never-ending, all pervasive love that encourages and calls us to stand-up for the well-being of each other, for the security of all, for justice for all, for peace. May the Israelis and Palestinians use this well-spring of love to overcome their fears and stand for a new future.

May the Israelis and Palestinians find the compassion that lives in each person but that is often suppressed in times of fear and anger and learn to ask the questions that so many seem afraid to ask. What would cause a young man or woman to kill a stranger? What fear, what sorrow, what pain lurks in the dark crevasses of their hearts? How can we begin to heal the pain, the sorrow, the loss? Where can we start?

May the Israelis and Palestinians access the strength that permeates the roots of Mother Earth and embolden them to demand a different future. To cross divides and build bridges that flow with human beings coming together opening their hearts to each other with generosity and love and work together towards peace and reconciliation.

We bow our heads in sorrow, in grief, in angst and even in rage that innocent lives are being lost on all sides and pray for a healing and reconciliation.


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Stop the Killing in Israel and Palestine: A Prayer, Analysis & Strategy

Oct16

by: on October 16th, 2015 | 8 Comments »

A prayer and an analysis from Tikkun/NSP (please post this on your social media and your web page, tweet about it, and circulate it widely–you have our permission)

THE PRAYER:
As we watch in horror as violence in Israel and Palestine escalates and there continues to be needless and senseless killings, we offer a prayer of love, compassion and strength.

May Israelis and Palestinians find the love that resides deep in their hearts and pulses through all of us, the love that cries to us from the loving energy of the universe to love the “Other,” the “Stranger.” This is a love that can be hard to access and find and yet it is a never-ending, all pervasive love that encourages and calls us to stand-up for the well-being of each other, for the security of all, for justice for all, for peace. May the Israelis and Palestinians use this well-spring of love to overcome their fears and stand for a new future.

May the Israelis and Palestinians find the compassion that lives in each person but that is often suppressed in times of fear and anger and learn to ask the questions that so many seem afraid to ask. What would cause a young man or woman to kill a stranger? What fear, what sorrow, what pain lurks in the dark crevasses of their hearts? How can we begin to heal the pain, the sorrow, the loss? Where can we start?

May the Israelis and Palestinians access the strength that permeates the roots of Mother Earth and embolden them to demand a different future. To cross divides and build bridges that flow with human beings coming together opening their hearts to each other with generosity and love and work together towards peace and reconciliation.

We bow our heads in sorrow, in grief, in angst and even in rage that innocent lives are being lost on all sides and pray for a healing and reconciliation.

This prayer was written by Cat Zavis, the Executive Director of the Network of Spiritual Progressives

THE ANALYSIS:
So where did all this violence in Israel and Palestine come from? Where shall we start? If you want the big historical picture from 1880 to the present moment, you’ll get two very different narratives depending on who is telling it. In my book Embracing Israel/PalestineI try to tell the story in a way that is sympathetic to each side, and critical of each side. The truth is that each side has at times been cruel and unreasonable toward the other.

But if you focus on the past few decades, the reality is that both people are currently suffering from Post Traumatic Stress Disorder–the Jewish people from the trauma of living as a homeless people for some 1700 years, many in a Christian Europe that blamed us for killing their messiah/god or in Muslim countries in apartheid-like powerlessness, eventually culminating in the murder of one out of every three Jews alive at the time from 1939-1945; and the Palestinian people from the Naqba or disaster of having 800,000 driven from their land in 1948 during Israel’s war for independence and then those who remained being conquered in 1967 and living under Occupation or blockade ever since for the past 48 years. While the Israeli army has been occupying the West Bank, what in 1948 was originally in 1948 800,000 Palestinian refugees living in exile have grown to 4 million, many of them living in some of the worst conditions anywhere on the planet, often treated horribly by the Arab countries where they live in refugee camps. Meanwhile, Israel has provided economic and political incentives to Jewish Israelis to move to the West Bank, build settlements there that, under the protection of the Israeli army, have seized Arab lands and expanded and appropriated the water resources while Arab Palestinians have had desperate water shortages. Many of them go not because they want to oppress Palestinians but because they can live in comfortable villas on the hills overlooking Palestinian villages in comfort they could not possibly afford elsewhere in Israel. But once there, most refuse to listen to the stories of Palestinian suffering, and their role in sustaining that, instead, like most Israelis, stuck in the stories of past Jewish suffering, and seeing themselves as victims rather than as perpetrators. PTSD clouds the vision of even the most decent among them.


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22 People Killed by US Airstrike on Doctors Without Borders Hospital in Kunduz, Afghanistan

Oct12

by: Kathy Kelly on October 12th, 2015 | 6 Comments »

Before the 2003 Shock and Awe bombing in Iraq, a group of activists living in Baghdad would regularly go to city sites that were crucial for maintaining health and well-being in Baghdad, such as hospitals, electrical facilities, water purification plants, and schools, and string large vinyl banners between the trees outside these buildings which read: “To Bomb This Site Would Be A War Crime.” We encouraged people in U.S. cities to do the same, trying to build empathy for people trapped in Iraq, anticipating a terrible aerial bombing.

Tragically, sadly, the banners must again condemn war crimes, this time echoing international outcry because in an hour of airstrikes this pastSaturdaymorning, the U.S. repeatedly bombed a Doctors Without Borders hospital in Kunduz, a facility that served the fifth largest city in Afghanistan and the surrounding region.

U.S./NATO forces carried out the airstrike at about2AMon October 3rd. Doctors Without Bordershad already notified the U.S., NATO and Afghan forces of their geographical coordinates to clarify that their compound, the size of a football field, was a hospital. When the first bombs hit, medical staff immediately phoned NATO headquarters to report the strike on its facility, and yet strikes continued, at 15 minute intervals, until3:15 a.m., killing 22 people. 12 of the dead were medical staff; ten were patients, and three of the patients were children. At least 37 more people were injured. One survivor said that the first section of the hospital to be hit was the Intensive Care Unit.

“Patients were burning in their beds,” said one nurse, an eyewitness to the ICU attack.”There are no words for how terrible it was.” The U.S. airstrikes continued, even after the Doctors Without Borders officials had notified the U.S., NATO and Afghan military that the warplanes were attacking the hospital.

Taliban forces do not have air power, and the Afghan Air Force fleet is subordinate to the U.S., so it was patently clear that the U.S. had committed a war crime.

The U.S. military has said that the matter is under investigation. Yet another in an endless train of somber apologies; feeling families’ pain but excusing all involved decision makers seems inevitable. Doctors Without Borders has demanded a transparent, independent investigation, assembled by a legitimate international body and without direct involvement by the U.S. or by any other warring party in the Afghan conflict. If such an investigation occurs, and is able to confirm that this was a deliberate, or else a murderously neglectful war crime, how many Americans will ever learn of the verdict?

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