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Archive for the ‘War & Peace’ Category



A Future in Prison

Jan27

by: Kathy Kelly on January 27th, 2015 | No Comments »

The Bureau of Prisons contacted me today, assigning me a prison number and a new address: for the next 90 days, beginning tomorrow, I’ll live at FMC Lexington, in the satellite prison camp for women, adjacent to Lexington’s federal medical center for men. Very early tomorrow morning, Buddy Bell, Cassandra Dixon, and Paco and Silver, two house guests whom we first met in protests on South Korea’s Jeju Island, will travel with me to Kentucky and deliver me to the satellite women’s prison outside the Federal Medical Center for men.

Soldiers and civilians standing in front of an airplane.Drone killings across the Middle East and the casual executions and incarceration of black males in our own country are not unrelated. Credit: Shane Franklin

In December, 2014, Judge Matt Whitworth sentenced me to three months in federal prison after Georgia Walker and I had attempted to deliver a loaf of bread and a letter to the commander of Whiteman Air Force base, asking him to stop his troops from piloting lethal drone flights over Afghanistan from within the base. Judge Whitworth allowed me over a month to surrender myself to prison; but whether you are a soldier or a civilian, a target or an unlucky bystander, you can’t surrender to a drone.

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From Ferguson to Palestine: Dispatch from the Troublemaking Frontlines

Jan23

by: on January 23rd, 2015 | No Comments »

“We are caught in an inescapable network of mutuality, tied in a single garment of destiny. Whatever affects one directly, affects all indirectly.” – Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

If you’ve been to any of the #blacklivesmatter protests, you may have seen the slogan “Justice from Ferguson to Palestine” on a protest sign. You may have wondered: Really? How are these struggles really connected? This December, I was in Palestine, and I found out first hand.

People at a conference raising their hands together

The audience at A Hole in a Brick Wall conference standing to show solidarity with #blacklivesmatter. Credit: Active Stills

I was asked to give a brief keynote about New York’s People’s Climate March at a conference on feminism and nonviolence in Jaffa, the port city that was once the thriving center of commerce in Palestine, now the neglected south end of Tel Aviv, Israel. Why fly halfway around the world to talk about the climate to people who live in a land riddled with its own share of environmental destruction? I guess, sometimes, you have to burn carbon to stop carbon. As I was preparing my talk, the #blacklivesmatter movement was erupting across America. I couldn’t ignore it. My task: illustrate the interconnectedness of climate justice, racial justice, and ending state violence? In, um, under 15 minutes.

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Uncomplicated, in Afghanistan

Jan9

by: Kathy Kelly on January 9th, 2015 | 1 Comment »

On November 7, 2014, while visiting Kabul, The Secretary General of NATO, Jens Stoltenberg, noted that NATO will soon launch a new chapter, a new non-combat mission in Afghanistan. But it’s difficult to spot new methods as NATO commits itself to sustaining combat on the part of Afghan forces.

Stoltenberg commended NATO Allies and partner nations from across the world, in an October 29thspeech, in Brussels, declaring that for over a decade, they “stood shoulder to shoulder with Afghanistan.” According to Stoltenberg, “this international effort has contributed to a better future for Afghan men, women and children.” Rhetoric from NATO and the Pentagon regularly claims that Afghans have benefited from the past thirteen years of U.S./NATO warfare, but reports from other agencies complicate these claims.

UNAMA, the United Nations Assistance Mission in Afghanistan, found that in the first six months of 2014, combat among the warring parties surpassed improvised explosive devices (IEDs) as the leading cause of conflict-related death and injury to Afghan civilians.

This “disturbing upward spiral” has meant the number of children and other vulnerable Afghans killed and wounded since the beginning of the year rose dramatically and “is proving to be devastating.”

Stoltenberg’s assurance of NATO’s positive contribution to civilian welfare in Afghanistan is also undermined by a recently issued Amnesty International report examining NATO/ISAF operations. These operations include air strikes, drone attacks and night raids, all of which have caused civilian deaths and also involved torture, disappearances, and cover-ups. The report, entitled “Left in the Dark,” gives ten chilling and horrific case studies occurring between 2009- 2013. Amnesty International states that two of the case studies “involve abundant and compelling evidence of war crimes.”

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Vandana Shiva is the new co-chair of the NSP! And a request from her…

Jan8

by: on January 8th, 2015 | 1 Comment »

We at the Network of Spiritual Progressives are delighted to announce that Vandana Shiva, the internationally acclaimed environmental activist from India has become the international co-chair of the Network of Spiritual Progressives along with Rabbi Michael Lerner. Dr. Shiva has contributed in fundamental ways to changing the practice and paradigms of agriculture and food. Her books The Violence of the Green Revolution and Monocultures of the Mind pose essential challenges to the dominant paradigm of non-sustainable, industrial agriculture. Through her books Biopiracy, Stolen Harvest and Water Wars, Dr. Shiva has made visible the social, economic and ecological costs of corporate-led globalization.

In her letter to us accepting the position of NSP co-chair, Vandana Shiva requested that we send out to you her request that you read the information below, and then sign and send the letter included below to President Obama and President Modi. You can copy and send the letter below to President Obama at the White House website. President Modi will receive messages mailed to the Embassy of India, 2107 Massachusetts Ave. NW. Washington, DC 20008 or by calling (202) 939-7000 or by faxing (202) 265-4351.

In her letter to us accepting this position, Dr. Shiva also enthusiastically endorsed the Environmental and Social Responsibility Amendment to the U.S. Constitution proposed by the Network of Spiritual Progressives. She had previously told us that she was particularly enthusiastic about the section of the ESRA which eliminates all private and corporate money from elections and the part which requires corporations to prove a satisfactory history of environmental and social responsibility to a panel of ordinary citizens in order to get or renew (every five years) their corporate charter. Please read it at www.tikkun.org/esra and help us get your local city council, state legislature, Congressional representatives and U.S. Senators, your local branches of whatever political party you belong to, your church, synagogue, mosque or ashram, your college of university, your union or professional organization, and your local civic and social change oriented organizations to publicly endorse it.

If you have not yet joined the NSP, please do so now by clicking here. Warm wishes for a wonderful New Year. We face immense challenges with a new Congress determined to undo environmental protections and defund social welfare programs for the poor and powerless. Don’t face those challenges alone! JOIN THE NSP!

With gratitude for your support,

Cat J. Zavis

Executive Director

Cat@spiritualprogressives.org

The Perils and Pitfalls of Singing for Gaza: A Review of 2 Unite All

Jan8

by: Robert Cohen on January 8th, 2015 | 1 Comment »

2 unite all gaza relief album

Credit: 2 Unite All

I was asked to write a review of the new benefit album for the people of Gaza. During the violence of last summer more than 2,000 Palestinian were killed, the vast majority civilians and the casualties included more than 500 children. Many more people were left permanently injured, physically, mentally or both, and thousands lost their homes.

I’d already downloaded all twenty-six tracks of 2 Unite All (126 minutes of music from more than thirty artists) before I realized that the task was impossible.

Writing about a project motivated by peace and love is a complete minefield. What’s the point of saying anything about the music when the real aim is not artistic but humanitarian. In such circumstances, is it ethical to be critical?

But then it occurred to me how much else there was to say about this particular endeavor, even before a single song is considered.

What should the relationship be between the artist and the recipient of the aid that they raise? Is it possible to separate out the humanitarian need from the causes that created it? Is it enough to just sing about peace and love?

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Two Dreams for 2015

Jan8

by: Sharon and Abbsi on January 8th, 2015 | No Comments »

Another Voice

As Israelis and Palestinians, it’s easy for us to become disillusioned and lose the vision for peace. This is especially true after this past year brought us a horrific war in Gaza, followed by a cycle of violence that some have termed a Third Intifada. Tensions have continued to simmer and it seems that even the optimists have lost the ability to hope or dream.

Because of this, we feel compelled to share two short dreams for 2015 and beyond — one written by an Israeli woman and the other a Palestinian. These are both a part of a blogging series by a group of Israeli and Palestinian women, featured on the blog Another Voice.

Sharon’s Dream:

My dream really goes well beyond 2015, but I hope it begins there and that 2015 can be the year that sets a new course for all of us and, especially, my son’s generation.

It seems but a distant dream, one that a few keep trying to grasp but is so elusive. The majority in our societies keeps pushing it further and further away from our children’s reach, carelessly ready to leave them bankrupt and with an even bleaker future than we have.

But I see this dream written on my son’s peaceful face as he sleeps or in the innocent joy of his smile and it gives me renewed hope that it is perhaps possible.  And then I can’t help but dream and think about how I want this place to be for him:

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A Last Word for 2014

Dec27

by: on December 27th, 2014 | 4 Comments »

As 2014 draws to a close, I’m happy to offer some upbeat news about developments in the Network of Spiritual Progressives, the activist and supporter network associated with Tikkun and Tikkun Daily.

conference photoOn Sunday, December 14, the Network of Spiritual Progressives hosted a meeting to re-imagine our political future. Three hundred and fifty people attended, and heard from Rabbi Lerner and distinguished guests including Marianne Williamson, George Lakoff, Reginald Lyles, and Matthew Fox, inspiring a practical vision for change.

The success of the conference was followed by some more amazing news: Dr. Vandana Shiva, the famed environmentalist from India working for seed integrity against international corporations that are seeking control over every inch of the agricultural process, is enthusiastic about our ESRA (the Environmental and Social Responsibility Amendment to the U.S. Constitution) and has just become the international chair of the Network of Spiritual Progressives, co-chairing with national chair Rabbi Michael Lerner.

2015 has the potential to be our best year yet, as we build a renewed movement at the intersection of spirituality, social justice, and the common good. We’re revitalizing our communication — look for our newsletter and a new website soon, breathing new life into the national network of NSP and local chapters.

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Releasing “The Interview” on Christmas: What Would Jesus Say?

Dec24

by: on December 24th, 2014 | 12 Comments »

Judging from the enthusiastic response on social media, Sony’s decision to release the movie “The Interview” on Christmas day seems to be a victory for the American way of life, but there is a tragic irony in the very truth of that view. For the “way of life” thus vindicated is addicted to a view of freedom as the right to say and do anything one wants, indifferent to the substance of what is actually being said in freedom’s name.

billboardPersonally, I am repulsed by the prospect of a distributor releasing on Christmas Day a public film depicting the assassination of a living person as something “funny.” Apart from the fact that such a film is provocative toward a North Korean leadership and culture that already appears fear-saturated and perhaps dangerous, made by producers and evidently actors who think that it is some kind of progressive political act to engage in this kind of provocation, the theme of the film should be seen as offensive and even shocking to anyone with an open heart and a respect for human life. What is funny about depicting the murder of a named individual who is currently alive? And how is it reflective of any spiritual meaning of Christmas to release such a film on a day celebrating the birth of Christ, or to non-Christians, celebrating at the very least family gatherings based upon loving human connection?

The entire public discussion of “The Interview” has focused not a whit on the actual moral substance of the film and exclusively on the importance of an ideal of free expression, no matter how offensive the expression is. This amoral view of the substance of freedom is reflected not just in relation to “artistic” freedom and the First Amendment, but also in relation to the freedom of a “free market” that sees workers mainly as factors of production-for- profit rather than beautiful human beings deserving of respect and dignity and that exploits the natural world without regard to beauty of creation and the sacredness of all life through which creation, whatever its wondrous origin, is made manifest . Freedom conceived in this way also embraces, in the name of democracy, a political process that vindicates the ability of billionaires to manipulate the consciousness of a society of isolated and socially separated television-watchers in order to influence their voting patterns.

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The Choices of 1947 Return: A Review of Zionism and Its Discontents

Dec24

by: Abba A. Solomon on December 24th, 2014 | 20 Comments »

book coverZionism and Its Discontents: Radical Currents in Israel/Palestine
by Ran Greenstein
Pluto Press, 2014

Kol Yisrael areivim zeh ba-zeh. This assertion, that “All Jews are responsible for each other,” has the crux of the situation. How are Jews to work out their relationship and “responsibility” to the “national home of the Jewish people”? To act decently, we must face what happened, face what the “return to Zion” led to.

Zionism and Its Discontents by Ran Greenstein reviews opposition to the Jewish nationalist state project in Mandate Palestine and after the State of Israel was proclaimed, May 14, 1948. Israeli-born Greenstein’s focus on Israel/Palestine is enriched by his study of South Africa’s liberation from Apartheid ideology.

Reading of pre-State opposition — from Arabs, non-Zionist and anti-Zionist Jews, and Zionists who rejected the “Jewish state” goal — reminds us that the consequences of making a Zionist state, consequences of perpetual conflict and injustice, were foreseen.

As I found, while researching a book on the American Jewish establishment and Zionism, the records of Jewish organizations are full of predictions of disaster that would come from taking possession of Palestine as a matter of right, over the interests of residents of that land.

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Merry Christmas – John Lennon

Dec22

by: on December 22nd, 2014 | 1 Comment »

John Lennon

Jesus was not a Christian and Buddha was not a Buddhist but their religion was love. Can it really be this simple? That the ultimate religion is love! Perhaps we all need to see what we have settled for in order to fully realize that there is another choice besides war and injustice as well as understanding the full meaning of Lennon’s Merry Christmas (War is Over), which was recorded in 1971 – nine years before Lennon was shot down and killed in December, 1980.


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