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Home arrow Blog arrow September 2009 arrow September 25, 2009

September 25, 2009
September 25, 2009: Pursuing a Brazilian connection UPDATED: Oct. 5, 2009: Interview with Chavez

I will be off line until Sunday, to attend a Fleming Family wedding in Memphis: and the bridegroom is Brazilian.

My hope is to make a few connections that will lead to learning what the Church maybe doing about the recent unrest South of the Border;

And I find it most numinous [meaning a God thing] that it was only a few weeks ago that I was attracted to learn about the LIBERATION Theologian, Dom Hélder Pessoa Câmara of Brazil, a Roman Catholic Archbishop who retired in 1985.

During the Vietnam era, he called upon the youth to RISE UP [Intaifda in Arabic] nonviolently against the addictions of their violent elders and break the spiral/cycle of violence.

He lived to see many of his LIBERATION theology reforms rolled back by his institutionalized successor José Cardoso Sobrinho.


Dom Hélder Pessoa Câmara is famous for stating, "When I give food to the poor, they call me a saint. When I ask why the poor have no food, they call me a Communist…When we are dreaming alone it is only a dream. When we are dreaming with others, it is the beginning of reality."


Now, I have no clue if this Fleming Family Brazilian connection will lead anywhere, but I leave you dear reader with an excerpt from my Memoirs in Occupied Palestine and a few links at the end:


UPDATED: Oct. 5, 2009:

Thanks to Max Obuszewski for forwarding

There Is Much to Do: An Interview With Hugo Chavez
By Greg Grandin
http://www.thenation.com/doc/20091012/grandin/single
September 27, 2009


Three years ago, Venezuelan president Hugo Chávez caused a stir when, in a speech to the United Nations General Assembly, he called then-US President George W. Bush a "devil." "I can still smell the sulfur," he said, standing at the same podium where, a day earlier, Bush had given his own address. Last week, Chávez once again followed a US president in the UN podium, but this time he caught a whiff of something different--"the smell of hope." In the following interview--conducted at Venezuela's mission to the United Nations in New York--Hugo Chávez talks about his relationship with Barack Obama and what his election could mean for the United States, as well as about the Honduran crisis, plans to extend the Pentagon's presence in Colombia, domestic successes and challenges, and the legacy of Brazilian president Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva.


 
Greg Grandin: Hugo Chávez talks about his relationship with Barack Obama, the Honduran crisis, plans to extend the Pentagon's presence in Colombia, and domestic successes and challenges.


Greg Grandin: I'd like first to ask you about the Honduran crisis. Manuel Zelaya--the president overthrown in a coup on June 28--is currently in the Brazilian embassy in Tegucigalpa, having returned to the country in secret. What happens next? What can be done to force those who carried out the coup to negotiate?

Hugo Chávez: It's not for me to decide what the next step is. Zelaya has called for dialogue. That was the first thing he did as soon as he entered the Brazilian embassy. The coup-plotters have responded with repression, death and terror. I believe that the brutal nature of this coup will lead to its failure.

GG: But how do you explain the intransigence of Roberto Micheletti, the president installed by the coup? There is about a month to go before the scheduled November 29 presidential elections, and whether Zelaya is returned to office or not, we know that one of two candidates from either the National or Liberal parties--both conservatives--is going to win. So why wouldn't the de facto government want a negotiated solution, allowing a symbolic return of Zelaya to the presidency for a short period in order to legitimate the outcome of the election?

HC: Noam Chomsky has a book, which I read for the first time when I was in Spain, called Fear of Democracy. There is your answer. Fear of democracy. In Honduras, they had a sham democracy. It was run by elites, what was called a liberal democracy but in reality was a false democracy. Honduras has been governed by a small group that for a long time has been supported by the United States, which used Honduras as a military base against other countries of Central America, against Cuba, turning the country into a colony. Manuel Zelaya came from the ranks of the Liberal Party, he entered the government as an intelligent young man, breathing in the new winds blowing from South America, the winds of change, I would say even winds of revolution. It is different from the revolution of the 1970s. This one is carried out not with rifles but by a peaceful people, it is a democratic revolution. Montesquieu said that men needed to be able to ride the wave of events. And that's what Zelaya did. With his cowboy hat he climbed up and rode the wave. And as soon as he broached the question of convening a constitutional assembly to consult with the people about refounding the republic, the political class that has governed all this time, the Honduran bourgeoisie, became frightened. That is the fear of democracy.

GG: What is the importance of events in Honduras for the rest of the continent? There are signs that the right, the transnational right, is regrouping, and that it sees Honduras as the first battle in a larger struggle to roll back the left.

HC: They are going to fail. Of course, it is important not to underestimate the continental right. It has gone on the offensive in many places. They attacked Venezuela, hard, with the support of Bush, as you know. They attacked in Brazil, trying to destabilize Lula so the Workers Party couldn't govern. They failed. They attacked Bolivia, hard, with all the venom of a serpent, in an effort to overthrow Evo Morales. They failed. They attacked Ecuador, and Rafael Correa is still there. Then, in Honduras, they attacked what they believed to be--and in a way was--the weakest flank. But they were in for a surprise. For three months, the Honduran people have been in the street, with unprecedented strength. That's what they found on the supposed weak flank. So I think the continental right should well consider its next step. They haven't even been able to consolidate their power in Honduras, notwithstanding that they enjoy the monolithic unity of the Honduran bourgeoisie and the support of the military, so if they decide to attack again in South America, they will fail. It is a battle, a game of chess, that we are fighting everyday. But the continental right has lost its way, it doesn't have a project for governance. In the United States, the government is bailing out banks, intervening in the economy, yet in Latin America, the right continues to talk about "free markets." It's totally outdated, they don't have arguments, they don't have any sense.

GG: But they will have seven US military bases in Colombia.

HC: It seems as if there are two Barack Obamas. And hopefully, the Obama who spoke today at the United Nations will win out in the end. But it was Obama who also approved the seven military bases in Colombia. Nobody can think otherwise, because who is the president, who is the commander-in-chief of the military if not Obama? If Venezuela decided to send troops to another country, or to set up a military base in Puerto Rico, it would be me, as president, making the decision. So Obama is full of contradictions, and hopefully the people of the United States, you, the thinking public, need to push your president. If I were I New Yorker, I would say, Mr. President, why are you putting military bases in Colombia? I said to Obama in Trinidad [at the Summit of the Americas in April] what I said to Bill Clinton ten years ago--one could at least talk to Clinton--and the same I told George W. Bush--only one time, because one couldn't talk about anything with him--"let's look for peace in Colombia." Hopefully the people of the United States will demand from its president, and its government, and its congress, to stop with the politics of war throughout the world. Obama said some troublesome things today, veiled threats. I have the phrase here, if I am not mistaken, that the US "will know how to defend the interests of all." Does this mean that tomorrow Obama is going to be able to say that he has invaded Iran in order to defend the interests of Venezuela, or of Mexico, or of Algeria? No, Venezuelan interests are to be defended by Venezuela. The US should defend the interests of the US. Where are the US people, where are the intellectuals, who could put limits on their government?

GG: Since President Obama has taken office, has US policy toward Venezuela changed since the Bush years?

HC: Yes, for the worst.

GG: For the worst?

HC: Yes, for the worst. The seven Colombian military bases. They are a threat to Venezuela. Why hasn't Obama--and today at the UN he listed all the steps he has taken [to improve relations with the rest of the world]--eliminated the Fourth Fleet? It was Bush that re-established the Fourth Fleet, a threat to all of Latin America, with the commander of the fleet saying that its purpose was to patrol South America's rivers. We are all worried about this in Latin America, and each country has expressed concern in its own way, Venezuela, Bolivia, even Brazil. Now with these seven military bases, the Colombian conflict is going to be spilling out across South America. Hopefully Obama will listen to other voices, and not just repeat what the Pentagon says, those same advisers of Bush, the war makers.

GG: Do you think it ironic that the Right in the US now uses the same tactics and rhetoric to attack Obama that the Venezuelan right uses against your government? Did you follow what happened just two weeks ago, with Obama's planned address to schoolchildren, when they attacked him in terms very similar to the criticism used against your education reform?

HC: Ah, yes, I read about that, that it was socialist indoctrination.

GG: Exactly.

HC: If only it were socialism! I believe they are scared. And this fear is dangerous. Because independent of whatever reasoned criticism we might have of Obama--such as that concerning the Fourth Fleet, which is an effort to make his actions be coherent with his words--here within the United States, the recalcitrant right is scared. And they hate him. First, because he is black...

GG: This is a debate now within the United States...

HC: Jimmy Carter is saying it. And hopefully Obama won't be assassinated because of it. But Obama has also taken up the theme of social reform almost as if it were a point of honor, because he made the pledge during the campaign. And also, as Obama knows, out of necessity. Everyday there is more poverty in the United States, everyday there is more uncared-for people who don't have medicine, doctors, or even education. This country is eating itself from the inside. What's happening to the American, how do you say it, Dream [in English]. I believe in the American Dream, but the dream of Martin Luther King Jr., not the dream of consumerism, unbridled capitalism or individualism, that craziness, that's not a dream it's a nightmare. Now, the recalcitrant right attacks Obama hard, calling him a socialist...

GG: Even a Nazi.

HC: Yes, a Nazi! When we met in Trinidad and shook hands, the right roasted him here for doing so: "Chávez! Why are you greeting Chávez?!" Imagine the craziness just for saying hello. It's irrational. The right here is scared that Obama is awakening a popular current in the people of the US, and they are trying to stop it. Where it is going to wind up, who knows? But I have a question, where is the US people? Where are the people, when their leader tries to propose something in benefit of the people? The people need to go out into the streets, not just to vote but to passionately protest, to support the president, so he can fulfill his promise. Where are the people?

GG: It is the right that is in the street.

HC: Yes, the right has taken over the street. There is much to do. Those who represent progressive thought--and I include you--need to know that without the people, there is no democracy. The people of the United States need to wake up, wake up and help construct a new country, a great nation, a true democracy. Obama can be an opportunity, and you need to support him with great force, in order to contain those that ferociously oppose whatever change. Like in Honduras. It's the same situation. The progressive community of the United States needs to support Obama to achieve change, and then it has to demand more change, and more change, and more change.

GG: There is a sense among progressives in the US that the Bolivarian Revolution has reached its limits, at least domestically. They have heard much about your anti-imperialism and your efforts to form a multipolar world, but they know less about what is happening in the country, the successes and failures in advancing a "protagonist democracy."

HC: Many political analysts--the majority of them spokespeople for the right--along with the media--also dominated by the right--go around creating the idea that the government of the Bolivarian Revolution is on the point of collapse. The fall of the price of oil affected us in a way, but not fundamentally, not at the roots or the base of the process. We are passing through stages. We are starting the second decade of the revolution, and are now approaching a new political horizon. The communal councils for example, continue to extend, continue to grow, and they have evolved into a more ambitious project, a socialist commune. We are leaving behind--slowly, but steadily, not in a day, a year or five years--oil dependency, advancing the industrialization of the country. If some people here believe--people of good faith, readers of The Nation--that the Bolivarian Revolution is exhausted, tell them that it isn't. You can tell them to come and see for themselves. Venezuela is of course a country that has problems, and its revolutionary government has failures, and has made mistakes, but it is an ongoing process.

GG: Venezuela has impressively reduced poverty, inequality, unemployment...

HC: We have achieved nearly all of the Millennium Development Goals. I was here almost ten years ago, in the Millennium Summit, and they even assigned me the task--I wasn't yet considered the devil, though they were undoubtedly still evaluating me--to coordinate one of the roundtables. I was there for a few days, day after day working and talking with Clinton, Fidel was there too. I remember the day Fidel shook Clinton's hand, Clinton and Fidel, and I was witness to their short conversation. We had meetings with delegates from Africa, Asia, from China, Russia. Now, we proposed some goals [to reduce poverty]. But today, at the global level, we are poorer than ten years ago. And not only in absolute numbers but relative numbers. But in Venezuela, poverty continues to go down. Unemployment continues to go down. The minimum wage is the highest in Latin America. Social security continues to reach more and more people. The standard of living has risen in Venezuela and according to the measures used by the United Nations Development Program we are in the top rank of human development. We are far from our goals, but we have left the inferno. Attention to the excluded, literacy, Venezuela is now a territory free of illiteracy. Poverty has been halved from it was ten years ago, which was one of the Millennium Goals. Access to potable water, we passed that Millennium goal a long time ago. In education, we have doubled the number of children going to school. It is possible to leave poverty, it is possibly to pull people out of misery. We call this socialism. In Obama's reflections--the ones I have heard--there are elements of this thought. We don't call it socialist, but it is a revindication of public policy.

GG: What you have achieved inspires many. But can you talk about the failures, or the concrete plans you have to address ongoing problems, such as inflation, crime and insecurity?

HC: On every front, there are failures and still much work to be done. Right now we are in the process of what we call the three Rs: revision, rectification and re-starting. In health care, in education, improving services, correcting mistakes. We are increasing participatory democracy, protagonist democracy. Delinquency is a global problem, not an exclusive Venezuelan one. Corruption is hurting us. I believe Obama talked this morning of the problem of corruption in developing countries. But here, in the US, there is a lot of corruption. In Europe there is corruption. Capitalism is the reign of corruption. Everything that happened with the big corporations, the big banks, the big insurance companies. What is it? Corruption. Corruption of values, fraud against the people, theft from the citizenry. Now, when I mentioned earlier about a new stage, 2010 to 2020, I was talking about above all a project that had to solve these problems, this weakness.

GG: But how, exactly? Can you give some concrete examples, say, in reference to violence and public security? One recent report identifies Caracas--in terms of homicide rates--as the second most violent city in the world, after Ciudad Juárez.

HC: Ciudad Juárez?

GG: Ciudad Juárez.

HC: I think there are cities in the United States that are more violent. I don't want to minimize the problem. Look, we are attacking the problem with a lot of energy, with distinct programs. For example, a little while ago we enacted legislation restructuring the National Police, because historically, going back many years, the police department was penetrated by delinquents. So we are trying to cleanse the police. But at the bottom of this is a cultural problem. Out-of-control crime, in all these countries, is part of a moral crisis. Ask yourself, how many children right at this moment are watching violence on TV, on the Internet? Music that encourages drug use and irresponsible sex? This is a product of the capitalist model, the culture of capitalism, hyper-individualism. It's part of the great crisis of the time. It requires a new world, with new values. As Jesus Christ says, "love others as yourself." If you love others as yourself, you are incapable of hurting others.

GG: One last question. Since 2003, the relationship between you and Brazilian president Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva has been fascinating. Working together in the field of international relations, you have led what some have described as South America's second independence, or at least have brought about the end of the Monroe Doctrine. But in about a year, that relationship is going to end, when Lula's second, and last, presidential term expires. We are going to be in a "post-Lula" world. Have you given any thought how this is going to affect your foreign policy, since you have worked together in a very...

HC: Closely.

GG: Yes, closely.

HC: Coordinated.

GG: Yes, coordinated.

HC: Lula is a great person, a great compañero. They tried to create a rift between us, but it failed. I have the hope that after Lula comes someone who will continue along the same path. Lula has managed to put his own stamp on Brazil. Brazil had lost its way, it had fallen into the hands of, well, neoliberal governments. It lacked leadership. About four or five years ago, Brazil was at the point of losing its petroleum reserves. But no longer. Lula rescued [the state oil company] Petrobras, he invested resources, and recovered the independence of Brazil. The country no longer depends on the International Monetary Fund. Brazil's monetary reserve has grown exorbitant due to exports. The attitude of Brazil toward its small neighbors has greatly changed, toward Paraguay, Ecuador, Bolivia, the smallest and weakest countries, and above all because of Lula. This is Lula's great legacy, and it is going to be difficult to change. Many things will change. Someone will take office with his or her own stamp, own style. But Brazil is now standing. With Venezuela, there will be changes, in the relationship we have, in the strategic alliance. But I have much faith that the person who comes next will be a man or woman of the left, from the Workers Party, who will continue to try to meet the challenge presented by Lula at his inauguration. Remember, the 2002 coup in Venezuela was not just against me but against Lula, who was a presidential candidate at the time. It was meant as a demonstration effect. They were telling the Brazilian people, look, if you elect Lula, this is what could happen to you. So, when Lula was inaugurated on January 1, 2003, I went. I'll never forget it. We were in a terrible battle at home, of destabilization, economic and petroleum sabotage, terrorism, threats of more coups. But I wanted to go to Brasilia. There, Lula told us that we needed a project that covered all of South America. He knew that this challenge needed to go beyond Lula, beyond Chávez, and beyond Evo. When each of us are gone, the people are left standing, and South America is South America, with its own voice.




Greg Grandin, a professor of history at New York University, is the author, most recently, of Fordlandia: The Rise and Fall of Henry Ford's Forgotten Jungle City (Metropolitan). He serves on the editorial committee of the North American Congress on Latin America (NACLA).




My first experience of the Qalandia checkpoint in Ramallah was in June 2005.

By March 2006, it had undergone a transformation. The dark rocky unpaved road had been paved in some places and there are now street lights, but the visceral sense of oppression remained.

My Sabeel [Arabic for The Way and a global Liberation Theology movement founded in Jerusalem] group met with Dr. Hanan Ashwari, Secretary General of Palestinian Initiative for the Promotion of Global Dialogue and Democracy/MITFAH, who informed us:

“We have had difficult times before but this is the worst! When people are constantly under assault and existing in a state of siege, they are too traumatized and they can no longer make rational decisions. Hamas was not just elected because of Fatah’s corruption, but because the people voted against USA policy! It was a vote of anger and revenge! Abbas wanted to postpone the elections because he knew Hamas would win. Technically our elections were free, but when people live under siege, pain and trauma they cannot make rational decisions.

“Israel has all the benefits but takes no responsibility as an occupier as stated in the Geneva Convention. Israel and the USA are perceived as the enemy and are starving the people. We are in desperate need of a viable peace process and need international intervention to control Israel...Unless the world enforces International Law and the Declaration of Human Rights there will be increasing violence and instability. We are in a battle for the soul of Palestine! When people think they are doing Gods will, like with the White House we are all in danger.

“Sharon slapped 14 conditions on the Road Map which exists only on paper. The Road Map is a club to destroy Palestinian society. Israel’s unilateral disengagement is against the Road Map. The disengagement was really just a reorganization of the occupation. The pats on the back for Sharon are amazing! Gaza is a massive prison because Israel retains control of air and sea borders.

“We have had democratic elections before Israel existed, we are not backwards people. We have always believed in the separation of church and state and have had a secular society. Hamas wants to be a credible political party and they are telling the people to maintain the cease fire and do not react to what happened in Jericho. It would be funny if it weren’t so painful!

“Hamas will be pragmatic and flexible, but what worries me is that they will change Palestinian society for the Muslim Brotherhood has taken over. I don’t want a theocracy; I want women’s rights and diversity. Hamas understands while there is injustice there cannot be the enforcing of Shiriah/Islamic Law.

“American aid never went to the PA, it went to USA NGO’s and profit making companies. The USA never paid any PA salaries...Hamas will gradually enforce Islamic Law and they will define what a crime is: such as homosexuality and adultery.

“Unless the world enforces International Law and the Declaration of Human Rights there will be increasing violence and instability. What happened in Jericho was an agreement that the PA would guard the USA and British prison guards. On March 8th it was reported that the guards were in danger and that renegotiations were needed. The Americans were off that day and five minutes after the Brits left the Israelis stormed the prison.”


On our way back to Jerusalem two soldiers with smiles on their faces boarded our bus and asked us if we had a good time in Ramallah. I have found most of the soldiers never look directly at us, but those few who do, will respond with a smile and return our greetings of shalom. Maybe they are just the new ones the job, and they certainly all looked like babies to me!


At the Jerusalem YMCA we met Dr. Bernard Sabella, Executive Secretary of Middle East Council of Churches and Services to Palestinian Refugees who told us the best thing we can do is reach out to the children who live in the refugee camps and the rural villages.

“I challenge you all to enter a new age of reconciliation. We must address the injustice of the occupation, the problems of abuse and denial of human rights for we are in crisis! We must expose the human rights abuses because of this occupation. How can you change hearts and minds when Israel does what it wants and the USA remains silent? We are in a time of crisis!”



In the afternoon of the eighth day of our Reality Tour, the sixty international ecumenical Christians were introduced to Sabeel’s Contemporary Way of Cross. The Sabeel way, transforms the traditional Christian tradition of meditating upon the journey that Christ took after his condemnation as he carried his cross to where he was crucified with an updated meditation on empire and occupation.

In Jerusalem there are fourteen plaques along The Via Delarosa hanging on the walls of buildings depicting where Christ may have fallen three times, meets his mother, is stripped, nailed and dies.

The Contemporary Way suggests fourteen reflections beginning with 1948, The Nabka: The Catastrophe which followed the failure of the UN partition plan of ‘47 when the Irgun and Stern Gang [Zionist terrorist groups] depopulated 400 villages and forced 726,000 Palestinians to flee to Lebanon, Syria, Jordan, and Egypt.

Station Two reflects on those refugees and the 460,000 more that fled during the War of 1967. Currently there are 675,670 registered refugees in the West Bank, 938,531 in Gaza and over two million in Arab countries who have never received compensation and have been denied the right to return as guaranteed in Articles 13 and 15 of The Universal Declaration of Human Rights and in UN Resolution 194.

I was astounded to learn that in Natna, the nearly sixty year old Jerusalem refugee camp has The Wall butted up to the boy’s high school. The ‘playground’ where 780 adolescents gather is in reality a slab of cement ground about the square footage of a basket ball court. There is no view as it is walled in on all four sides by the high school, The Concrete Wall and two smaller cement walls.

A refugee informed our group that on a daily basis, “The Israeli Occupation Forces show up when the children gather in the morning or after classes. They throw percussion bombs or gas bombs into the school nearly every day! The world is sleeping; the world is hibernating and is allowing this misery to continue.”

I wander around taking photos and was warmly greeted by a teenage boy who asked my name and where I was from. I cringed when I said America, for I am ashamed that over one billion USA dollars since 1948 has supported the occupation, promoted violence and helped build the friggin’ wall.

A few miles from the refugee camp, one enters into an Orwellian Disney Land of lush green grounds in the illegal colony of the Pizgatzeev settlement. I was sick at heart and in my gut when we drove less than a mile into the illegal colony for I counted three playgrounds and a swimming pool. I still wonder how many USA tax dollars helped to build them, and why the same was not done for the refugees.

As our group was praying a gunshot issued from the Natna refugee camp, then another and another in rapid succession. I was told that the IDF was showering the refugees with gun fire and terror, and that it was just a normal daily occurrence. I lost it completely then, and sobbed uncontrollably. I felt like the Magdalena when she could not find her Lord, but then I thought of Jesus, and how he cried buckets of tears over Jerusalem.

2,000 years ago roving bands of politically radical and religious Jews rose up and openly resisted Roman rule in Palestine. They were called Zealots, and I imagine if I had lived back then, I would have joined them. But, instead, I ardently, fervently, zealously curse the empire that condones the violent terrorizing of innocent people just because they are Palestinian. I also wonder when will the Israelis wake up and see they too are victims of the occupation, the oppressed have become the oppressors and many have lost their humanity.

I pray the Jewish state would indeed be a democracy, but if they want to be a theocracy, fine with me if they would only just follow Micah 6:8: “What does the Lord require? Do justice, be merciful and walk humbly with your God.”


When Israel became a state in 1948, it was contingent upon upholding the UN Universal Declaration of Human Rights. Article 13 states: Everyone has the right to freedom of movement and residence within the borders of each state. Everyone has the right to leave any country, including his own, and to return to his country.

Any Jew with no historical tie to the land, can move to Israel and live there without paying taxes-if they are Orthodox-, and the young reap all kinds of perks for making Aliyah-

Learn more:
16 Days in Palestine

but the state of Israel denies the indigenous Palestinian people and their families the right to return there.

Read more...




On November 3, 2006, Reverend Naim Ateek, a modest soft-spoken man, 21st century prophet and the Founder and Director of Sabeel/The Way Ecumenical Liberation Theology Center in Jerusalem, addressed over 330 international ecumenical Christians who had gathered in Jerusalem in the Notre Dame Conference Center for Sabeel’s 6th International Conference: The Forgotten Faithful.

He sent chills through me when he stated, “Israel will not survive unless it does justice! The situation is deteriorating and we must frustrate Israel’s plans and actions because they are not built on justice. All we are asking for is that they honor International Law! Israel is afraid of International law and this proves something is very wrong with Israel. We want Israel to live in peace and with security. The only way is honoring International law. That is the bottom line and what we work and pray for.”

Reverend Ateek’s classic Justice and Only Justice laid the foundation of a theology that addresses the conflict over Palestine and explores the political as well as the religious, biblical and theological dimensions. From a position of faith, Reverend Ateek seeks solutions based on justice, peace, nonviolence and reconciliation.


On November 8, 2006 Reverend Ateek spoke again, “In Israel officially speaking of Palestinians is taboo: we are referred to as Arab Christians. When I say the Holy Land I include both Israel and Palestine. Ultimately only God knows about the future of Christianity in this place. We live in the scientific world and God has given us wisdom, knowledge, technology to be used for good and our future and destiny are in Gods hands.

“There are many red lights; external and internal dangers. What can we do at the grass roots level? The Palestinian Christian community must rise above petty denominational differences. The impending dangers force us to ask what can we do, what must we do?

“There is no future in isolation or passivity. Our futures are all linked together. There is an urgent need to articulate and work with other faiths, especially Islam. Our future depends on good relations with all our brothers and sisters. We need a Committee of Christian and Muslim leaders to dialogue and work together to confront militant extremist fundamentalism.

“Our relation with Israel is the most important issue for there can be no peace without justice. There can be no effective policy without ending the occupation in accordance with all UN Resolutions. The city of Jerusalem must be shared and there must be a just solution for refugees.

“Pressure on Israel must be done with nonviolent needs and the way is the way Christ taught: nonviolent and forgiving. The achievement of peace is not the end; but the beginning of reconciliation. The survival of Christianity in the Holy land is through true democracy. We must avoid the minority complex. We cannot depend on the good will of people in power. We want to be protected by a constitution with full citizenship and nationality must be combined. Only in Israel is there a distinction between nationality and citizenship. Only good democracy can guarantee all citizens are treated equally under the same law.”

“What can the West do? There is an urgent need for education about the roots of Christians in Palestine and to challenge the myths. Seek out Palestinian Christians in your midst and relate to them. Be aware of Palestinian concerns for justice and human rights. Work for a just solution of the conflict which is equal human rights for all. Support projects to increase the Christian witness: visit the Holy land and meet with Palestinian Christians. Forge closer links with churches in the West and in the Holy Land. Challenge Christian Zionism. Think Creatively!

“In the beginning the Jesus movement was very small. It began with 12 committed citizens. It began with love and Christ addressed his followers: FEAR NOT little flock! You are the salt of the earth and the light of the world. To capture the essence of what Christians should be is to be salt and light. You don’t need a lot of salt to add flavor and even a small light can illuminate the way for many.

“To be salt and light is to be truthful, honest, have integrity and to be of service and do it with humility. Salt affects change: it is active, never passive. To be a light is a global challenge and when the light is seen clearly so is the glory of God. Sabeel means the way, and the way is to love all your neighbors and labor on with God.”


Every birth begins with labor and pain but joy and love follow. Only when there is justice for Palestinians will there be security for Israelis and that will be the beginning of the way to win the “war on terrorism.”



On the morning of March 18, 2006, the eighth day of my third journey to Israel and Palestine began with a tour of the Old City of Jerusalem.

A sacred hush filled the cypress canopied stone streets of The Noble Sanctuary that lead us to the Dome of The Rock, the site where Abraham offered to sacrifice his son and where it is reported Mohammed ascended to heaven.

We all removed our shoes and all the women covered their hair with scarves, then we silently tread the crimson carpet inside the Mosque.

I was awed by the domed mosaic ceiling, geometric designed stained glass and massive crystal chandeliers above my head and the silence although the mosque was filled with people.

Our group was split into two: some took the basic tour but a few Dutch, Japanese, Canadians, two Brits and I went the political route.

Our guide is Mahmoud whose father was from Chad, his mother Palestinian and he was born in Jerusalem.

Mahmoud tells us with a smile, “I was at the Ambassador Hotel for the public meeting the other day and was arrested and detained for eight hours. The Israelis will not allow Hamas and the PFLP to have public meetings at all. At that same time they claim this is a democracy, but how can that be if they do not allow political groups to meet and discuss the situation and search for solutions?


“When I was nineteen I was arrested for being a member of the PFLP/Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine and spent the next 17 years in jail. I was nervous when I got there and I was tortured for months. Then a strange thing happened. They gave me a shower, clean clothes, then put me in a clean room and spoke to me like a human being. Then the French Ambassador came in and told me he could get me out because my father had French citizenship. He asked me where did I want to go and I answered; Jerusalem! He said it was impossible, I was not allowed. I told him I would rather remain in prison if I could not go home and so I spent 17 years and that is where I learned there is no justification for anyone to take another life. Those who kill are not Muslims.


“I was an eyewitness on October 8, 1990 when a group came to put a cornerstone where they want to rebuild the Temple. The Dome of The Rock is also what the Israelis call The Temple Mount, [the site where Abraham went to sacrifice his second born son, Isaac]. They want to destroy our Holy site but no archeologist has been able to say exactly where The Temple had originally been and they have been digging for seventy years.


“On that day they came I heard women shouting and crying. They were fainting from the tear gas! People got angry and threw stones at the soldiers and guards. Then hundreds of guards came onto The Noble Sanctuary and started shooting and 17 people were killed and 1,500 injured. They claimed we were throwing stones at the Wailing Wall but a Rabbi who had been over there said it wasn’t true at all.”



We walked the narrow stone streets that wind around and into an alley and come to a site known as the “Little Western Wall”, which is in the heart of the Muslim quarter. Construction had begun for a synagogue for women that will also prevent access in and out of the inner area, which is an apartment building where two or three Muslim families share one toilet.


Throughout the tour of the Muslim quarter Mahmoud points out the many cameras on the ancient stone walls and where the colonists/settlers have illegally confiscated Palestinian homes.

“Within the Muslim and Christian quarters there are 70 locations where 1,000 Jews now live. We are under occupation and trying to have a better life and we have had some success. Before 1967 we had no universities and now we have twelve in the West Bank. I am a citizen of the Universe, but I live in Jerusalem.”


We climb to the roof of Al Quds University in Jerusalem where short courses in Arabic are taught. The ancient stone buildings are marred by satellite dishes and lookout towers...




After saying goodbye to the Internationals at our final dinner at The Tent Restaurant on March 20, 2006, I traveled alone three hours away from the Little Town in Occupied Territory of Bethlehem to the Mount of Beatitudes in Israel. This awe inspiring site sits above the shimmering Sea of Galilee where Christ preached the Sermon on the Mount. The Sabeel Reality Tour had concluded and I needed to be alone and silent.

But I ended up delivering my own Sermon on the Mount!


Four Franciscan Sisters, one each from Syria, Jordan, Malta and Italy care for the shrine and the pilgrim guests at the Hospice Center where I spent two nights and a day of silent reflection of all I had witnessed the previous nine days.

At dinner a Catholic Pentecostal from Scotland introduced himself and asked me why I was there and what church I was from. I responded I have Irish Roman Catholic, Polish Jew, Russian Orthodox and Episcopal roots but that my rock is The Beatitudes.

He looked even more perplexed when I told him I came to the Mount of Beatitudes to decompress and reflect upon my nine days in Occupied Territory. I asked him if he were aware of the work of Sabeel, the Palestinian founded organization that promotes a theology of liberation based on justice, peace, non-violence and reconciliation for all, regardless of faith path or nationality.

He sternly admonished me, “God gave this land to the Jews! The Bible never mentions Palestine, and that is that! God gave this land to the Jews and that is that!”

I responded just as fervently that the Palestinian Christians are the descendants of those who first followed Christ and they have been denied inalienable human rights by the Israeli government. I told him the Christians in the Holy Land have shrunk from 20% of the total population to less than 1.3% since 1948 and if things don’t change soon, there will be no Christian witness in the land where Christ promised that it is the peacemakers who are the children of God.


He sputtered, “But the Jews have suffered! God gave this land to the Jews and that is that!”

This really got my Irish up and I retorted, “Yes they did because good people did nothing for far too long, and now the oppressed have become the oppressors. In the 21st century good people are unaware, ignoring or are in total denial of the injustice in the Holy Land. And what about all the Hebrew prophets, such as Micah who reminded the Jews of what the Lord requires: To be just, to be merciful and to walk humbly with your God!”


I could NOT shut up although I knew that that Scotsman was trying to get away-he also looked a bit terrified! But, I was on a tear and barely took a breath as I told him that instead of staying in Israel for his entire visit, he should go and witness life in the occupied territories; go and see the effects of The Wall on his spirit and see what it has done to the Palestinian economy. I told him he should go and tour some of the 58 year old refugee camps and see the ruins of all the uncompensated home demolitions. I brought it on home by telling him that I also doubt that God was ever in the real estate business!

His eyes had bugged out and his mouth had dropped open while the torrent of words spewed out of me. After I finally shut up, he stammered, “But there is suffering everywhere!”

“Yes there is and Christ always stood up for the poor and the oppressed. And he told us what ever we do or don’t do for the least and the outcast; we do it or don’t do it unto God.”

He shook his head and turned and walked quickly away and never again looked my way. Nobody else spoke to me the rest of the evening or the next day. That was fine with me, for I was listening to the voice within and what I kept hearing was Luke 23:34: “Father forgive them; for they do not know what they are doing.”



But when you know, if you are of good will, you must do something. The fastest growing cult in the USA-and also perhaps in Scotland: is the cult of Christian Zionism.

What is Christian Zionism?

Christian Zionism is an extremist Christian movement which supports the claims of those who believe that the State of Israel should take control of all of the land currently disputed between Palestinians and Israelis. It views the creation and expansion of the modern state of Israel as a fulfillment of biblical prophecy toward the second coming of Jesus.

Christian Zionism is a modern theological and political movement that embraces the most extreme ideological positions of Zionism, thereby becoming detrimental to a just peace within Palestine and Israel. The Christian Zionist program provides a worldview where the Gospel is identified with the ideology of empire, colonialism and militarism. In its extreme form, it laces an emphasis on apocalyptic events leading to the end of history rather than living Christ’s love and justice today.

What is the Christian Zionist connection with the Holy Land?

Believing that God fights on the side of Israel, Christian Zionists call for the unqualified support for the most extreme political positions related to the Holy Land. Christian Zionist spokes persons have attributed Hurricane Katrina to God’s wrath over our failure to stop Israel from pulling out of Gaza. They consistently oppose any moves towards a solution to the conflict which would validate the political aspirations of both Palestinians and Israelis.

Who Supports Christian Zionism?

Christian Zionism has significant support within American Protestant fundamentalists, who number between 10 and 20 million. Its reach is broad, by virtue of its favorite themes related to the “End Times” and an Israel-fixated Christian media.  Christian Zionism is both a political movement and a way of interpreting current events. Its focus is on Israel and the Middle East, as much an ideology as a “movement.” Its promoters share many beliefs but are not organized through any one institution.

Throughout history Christians have at times twisted scripture to justify violence: for the Crusades, for Anti-Semitism, and for slavery. Too often the church has been slow to respond to these biblical distortions with disastrous results.

Today Christian Zionists - particularly those with dispensationalist leanings - are at it again. Although their motives are couched in terms of compassion toward the Jewish people based on a literal reading of scripture the political agenda of territorial expansion advocated by Christian Zionists has given rise to injustice against Palestinians and added fuel to the fire of conflict in the Middle East. For some time, individuals, and theologians have spoken out against Christian Zionism. In the past few years, whole church bodies are adding their official voices to the distortions and injustices perpetuated by Christian Zionism.

The GOOD NEWS is that some mainstream churches have spoken out against this inherently anti-Semitic theology. What follows are but a few words from some of those who have.

The Presbyterian Church in the USA at its July 2004, National General Assembly issued a statement on Confronting Christian Zionism: “Christian Zionism promotes a theology that justifies grievous violations of basic rights of people who are also made in the image of God, and is contrary to the gospel of Jesus Christ.”

The United Church of Christ in July 2003, at its National General Synod offered An Alternative Voice to Christian Zionism: “We believe that the tenets of Christian Zionism neither reflect the intention of the teachings of Jesus and the prophets, nor promote peace in the Middle East, and respectfully recommend …an alternative voice to this theology.”

The Evangelical Lutheran Church in America, in June 2005 at its Chicago Metropolitan Synod issued a Resolution to Encourage the Study of Christian Zionism: “the movement of Christian Zionism based on these biblical interpretations seeks to influence U.S. policy toward Israel in a manner that would arguably facilitate mistreatment of Palestinians, continued occupation of the land, opposition to a two-state solution, and exclusive Israeli control of Jerusalem.”

The United Methodist Church, in June 2005 at its Illinois Conference on Unwrapping the Rapture warned, “Every household should give prayerful consideration as to how God will actually judge us for our silence about and complicity in the crushing of the Palestinian people.”

The Episcopal Church, in November 2004 at its Diocese of Chicago Confronted Christian Zionism: “A partial response to Christian Zionism would be to say that we read Scripture in light of [Jesus’] two great commandments - to love God and our neighbor.”

In 2006, The Nation reported that Christians United For Israel/CUFI pressed White House officials to adopt a more confrontational posture toward Iran, to refuse aid to the Palestinians and to give Israel a free hand as it ramped up its military conflict with Hezbollah.

The White House has not revealed the names of the officials who met with the CUFI lobbyists, which is a venomous tentacle from the Armageddon-based foreign-policy view of its founder, John Hagee.  Hagee is a fundamentalist, fire-and-brimstone preacher and a leader of the fastest growing cult in America: Christian Zionism, which is inherently anti-Semitic.

While Jewish Zionism began with the hope that all Jewish people would have a safe and peaceful dwelling place, these corruptors of the gospel Christ preached, adhere to a 200 year old convoluted interpretation of disparate scriptures that they have chosen to weave together to support their fear based judgmental narrow minded doctrine.

Hagee has mesmerized nearly 18,000 misled Christians at his Cornerstone Church with his take on whom the anti-Christ is. He also hosts a major TV ministry where he explains his views of how the end times will unfold. He blatantly corrupts and denies the message that Christ preached. Hagee, Hal Lindsay and the Left Behinder’s are doomsday false prophets who believe that the only way to defeat-what they and the Bush Administration refer to as- “Islamist fascists” is with a full-scale military assault.


LEARN MORE:

John Hagee Zionists
John Hagee CUFI
conference in Miami




The cult of ‘Christian’ Zionism is what the concept of the Anti-Christ is all about.

This heretical theology of Premellenial Dispensation worships a god of Armageddon and not the God of love, forgiveness and compassion that Jesus/AKA The Prince of Peace modeled even while being nailed to a cross.

The Left Behind series of fiction is the epitome of what millennium of theologians have always understood to be what the term anti-Christ is truly about.


The term “antichrist” only appears five times in the Bible, but a cult not based on sound theology has created an urban legend that seeks Armageddon. The term “antichrist” never appears in John’s Revelation or Daniel, two disparate works of literature written three centuries apart and under very different circumstances, yet the Left Behinder’s weave them together.


The small texts that mention the “antichrist” were written to attack the Gnostic understanding of who Christ was. A Gnostic relies on intuition and not on dogma and doctrine. Gnostic’s were most certainly free spirits and most all of the writings we have about Gnostics, have been the attacks upon them. That all changed when the Nag Hamadi Library was translated and published, for what had been deemed heretical by those in power in the fourth century can now be read in most every language.


LEARN MORE:
Have you heard the true tale of the Bedouin named Mohammed Ali? Read more...



Biblical scholars today agree that many books of the Bible were written by others in the name of an apostle, for the quickest way to gain credibility is to trade on another’s reputation. We may never know if the author who coined the term “antichrist” was actually the apostle John who wrote I John and 2 John-the only sources where the term appears.

John also say’s much more: “Dear Children, as you have heard that the antichrist is coming, even now many have come.”- I John 2:18

“This is how we know who the children of God are not: anyone who does not do right; nor anyone who does not love his brother.”-I John 3:10

“If anyone has material possessions and see’s his brother in need but has no pity on him, how can the love of God be in him?  Let us love with actions and in truth.”-I John 3:17

“God is love. Whoever lives in love lives in God, and God in him. There is no fear in love. Perfect love drives out all fear because fear has to do with punishment [and God is love].”-1 John 4:18

The theology promoted in the Left Behind fiction is a theology based on fear and punishment. These misinformed Christians worship a punitive father as God. They do not have eyes to see that nature is God’s primary temple, and war the greatest abomination.

During the time when John was writing about the spirit of antichrist, Gnosticism was still in its evolution and far from the intricately developed system of the second and third centuries when the church and its institutional hierarchy became firmly established. During the time John was writing against false teachings, the Gnostics were by and large libertines who denied Christ’s humanity. Some Gnostics claimed that Christ only appeared to have a body; others said the divine Christ joined the man Jesus at his baptism and left him when he died.

The Gnostics left no testimony in their behalf, so all we have to go on is what was written against them until the discovery of the Nag Hamadi Library. These Gnostic texts offer no new information, they provide no answers, but they do illuminate us to the fact that 2,000 years ago that follower’s of Christ were very diverse and engaged in lively debates on who he was and what was his purpose.

The Armageddon groupies believe they will be lifted out of the misery of the world, and neglect to reflect upon the antichrist within their own heart. The term anti/against Christ means to be anti/against his teachings. A neglected and ignored fact is that Christ is quoted in fact Matthew 12:31-32, Mark 3:28-29, and Luke 12:10 which are all simpatico with the Gnostic gospel of Thomas saying 44:

Jesus said: “Whoever blasphemes against the father will be forgiven, whoever blasphemes against the son will be forgiven, but whoever blasphemes against the Holy Spirit will not be forgiven either on earth or in heaven.”

The Holy Spirit has always been understood to mean the spark of the Divine within all beings, for the spirit of God is within all created things. One should wonder what spirit is driving those that want to bomb another, for just who would Jesus bomb? Just who would Jesus torture?

Jesus has been hijacked by the right wing fundamentalists and the time has come to liberate him. Christ was no Christian, that term was not even coined until three decades after he walked the earth. But, Christ was a social justice radical revolutionary Palestinian devout Jewish road warrior who rose up/intifada and challenged the job security of the temple priests by claiming there was no need for ritual baths and animal sacrifice to be OK with God.

Jesus was crucified because he disturbed the status quo of the occupying forces of Rome by teaching subversive concepts such as all people are equal and valuable. Christ taught that to be his sister and brother one must forgive to be forgiven and that one must love ones enemies. He modeled that one must always work for peaceful resolutions, even to the point of returning violence with forgiveness and compassion as he did while being nailed to a cross.

Christ always dealt compassionately with sinners and outcasts, but hypocrites received his wrath. Compassion, which is sorrow for the suffering of others accompanied by the urge to help, is what should define the Christian attitude.

If there is no compassion within a Christian, then it is the spirit of the antichrist that rules. Christian Zionists desire to convert the Jews to Christianity or leave them behind to perish in a nuclear holocaust, for they believe that is Gods desire.



A short history on where this corruption of Christ’s message came from:

In 1891, Christian fundamentalist and lay-preacher, William Blackstone appealed to President Benjamin Harrison to help establish a Jewish state in Palestine. Blackstone was a disciple of Dwight L. Moody and they both were influenced by the father of premillenial dispensationalism, John Nelson Darby.

Darby had great success in connecting with the post-Civil War survivors and was able to transmit his new heretical theology into the heartland of America. Despite the horrifying news of Czarist pogroms that could have been the catalyst to establishing a Jewish state before the Holocaust, the Christian fundamentalists moved onto the Scope’s Trial and forgot about the Jews for a while. OIY!

Fifty years later and after six million innocents were cold bloodedly murdered because good people did nothing for a very long while-and only after the British Mandate ran out, Israel was born.

Most evangelicals interpreted the establishment of Israel to be the fulfillment of -how they understood and interpreted- certain prophetic scriptures. They interpreted the Israeli victory in the 1967 War and the capture of Jerusalem, the West Bank, Gaza, Sinai and the Golan Heights to be an act of God and never considered the fact of Israeli superior military might and USA Intelligence.

The American Bi-Centennial in 1976 was a watershed year for the religious right. While mainline churches declined evangelical fundamentalist churches became the fastest growing sector of American Christianity. TIME magazine named 1976 as The Year of The Evangelical and suddenly they became a legitimate political and religious force.

Following the War of 1967, Israel gained an increased portion of USA foreign aid and military budgets, becoming the ‘western pillar’ of the USA strategic alliance against Soviet incursion into the Middle East...During this period AIPAC and other pro-Israeli lobby agencies began their ascent to power in shaping USA foreign policy. The Roman Catholic Church and mainline Protestant denominations began to develop a more balanced approach to the Middle East, bringing them closer to the international consensus on the Palestinian question. Pro-Israel organizations interpreted this shift as being Anti-Israel and in turn began to court the conservative Christians.

In 1977, when President Carter stated “The Palestinians deserve a right to their homeland,” the Christian fundamentalists and Israeli lobby responded with full page ads stating: “The time has come for evangelical Christians to affirm their belief in biblical prophecy and Israel’s divine right to the land...and affirm our belief in the Promised Land to the Jewish people.” [Ibid]

The Reagan White House hosted a series of seminars from the Israeli lobby and Christian right. This was when Hal Lindsay, Pat Robertson, Jerry Falwell and the Moral majority infiltrated the West Wing.

Falwell received a Lear Jet from the Israeli government for his personal travel...When Israel bombed the Iraqi nuclear plant in 1981, Prime Minister Begin called Jerry Falwell -before he called Reagan- to ask him ‘to explain to the Christian public the reasons for the bombings.

In 1996, Netanyahu and Likud ideology dominated Israeli policy and 17 evangelical USA pastors pledged their support of the illegal colonies in the West Bank, Gaza, the Golan Heights and full support for a Jerusalem under sovereignty of Israel.

The Christian Zionists launched a PR campaign under the banner: “Christians Call for a United Jerusalem.” OIY! They ignored the fact that they were in conflict with American policy and the Oslo process as well as a direct attack on Roman Catholic and mainline Protestant unity with the Churches for Middle East Peace that called for a Shared Jerusalem.


“The coming nuclear showdown with Iran is a certainty,” Hagee wrote in 2006, in the Pentecostal magazine Charisma. “Israel and America must confront Iran’s nuclear ability and willingness to destroy Israel with nuclear weapons. For Israel to wait is to risk committing national suicide.”

The theology of the fictional Left Behind series is the epitome of the spirit of the anti-Christ:  which is the evil within ones own heart that leads one to fear “the other” and compels them to violence.

Thomas Jefferson did America and the world a great service when he penned The Jefferson Bible: The Life and Morals of Jesus of Nazareth which illuminates just how far these Christians have strayed from the message Christ delivered and modeled with his life:

Which was consistently compassionate and nonviolent and to be just: for justice comes from virtue which comes from the heart.

 To treat people the way we want to be treated.

To always work for PEACEFUL resolutions, even to the point of returning violence with COMPASSION.

To consider valuable the things that have no material value.

Do not judge others, do not bear grudges, be modest and unpretentious.

To give out of true generosity, not because we expect to be repaid and that being true to ones self is more important than being loyal to ones family,

And those who think they know the most are the most ignorant.

According to Christ, to be his follower, one must do what the Father requires. The Hebrew prophet Micah summed it up best: “What does the Lord require? He has already told you o’man: Be Just, Be Merciful and walk humbly with your God.” -Micah 6:8:

To be just is to be fair and reasonable.

To be merciful means to treat all people the way we want to be treated.

To be humble is knowing oneself; the good and the evil, for both cut through every human heart.

Christ taught that the only way to resist evil is with good and he modeled that one must always work for peaceful resolutions, even to the point of returning violence with compassion and forgiveness. Jesus did just that, even after being mocked, whipped and nailed to a cross for he prayed:  “Father forgive them for they do not know what they are doing.”



September 13, 2007
They Are All Our Children


[East Jerusalem, Occupied Territory and Arlington, Virginia] "Everyday I must figure out what is the thing for me to do today to seek justice and accountability," Cindy Corrie, mother of Rachel, told the crowd of over 100 nonviolent justice and peace activists who attended the 6th annual U.S. Campaign to End the Israeli Occupation of Palestine held at George Mason University in Arlington, Va. this past weekend.


On March 16, 2003, 23 year old, Rachel Corrie was crushed to death by a USA made Caterpillar D-9, in Rafah, the southern tip of the Gaza Strip. Rachel's hope had been that she and other non-violent peace activists who had been trained by ISM/International Solidarity Movement, would be able to prevent the demolition of the home a pharmacist of three children.

The Corrie family has yet to receive an apology from Israel or accountability from the Caterpillar Company.

[Learn More:
http://rachelcorriefoundation.org/



Over fifty member groups were represented at the conference, among them The Rebuilding Alliance which is dedicated to creating positive facts on the ground. Donna Baranski-Walker, Founder and Executive Director of the non-profit group raised awareness of Abir's Garden, which arose from her family's "decision to turn their tragedy and despair into care, creativity, and teamwork. Abir's Garden will nurture the children of Anata, East Jerusalem and provide a model way to overcome violence because it brings former combatants together to build the playground in Abir's memory."


On January 16, 2007, 10 year old Abir Aramin was walking home from school with her sister and two friends, but instead of having milk and cookies that afternoon; she was shot in the head. An Israeli Border Police jeep had parked outside the gates of the Anata girls' school and opened fire, and Abir was hit with a rubber bullet. After three days on life support her struggle ended.

Avichay Sharon, of Combatants for Peace stated, "Over the past 2 years, the Israeli Border Police and IDF forces have been creating provocations near the school district of Anata [which] has become a part of the daily routine for the children. Ever since construction started on the separation barrier surrounding Anata, the jeeps have been roaming the streets especially near the schools and shooting grenades and tear gas along with rubber bullets.

"Many children have been injured in the past by these brutal actions of the soldiers and on January 16th it became deadly. As in many other cases the police replied that the soldiers were shooting in response to stones thrown at them by children. Even though all the evidence and witnesses stated that no stones were thrown that day" the prosecution dismissed the Aramin family's case, claiming lack of evidence.


Bassam Aramin, Abir's father and co-founder of Combatants for Peace affirmed, "I'm not going to lose my common sense, my direction, only because I've lost my heart, my child. I will do all I can to protect her friends, both Palestinian and Israeli. They are all our children." Mr. Aramin works as a clerk at the Palestinian National Archives, but at the age of 17 he was sentenced to 7 years in Israeli prison for belonging to the then-outlawed Fatah movement. Although he had been beaten by soldiers in prison, he decided that he would not become a prisoner of hatred.


In March of 2006, this reporter was one of over 90 international ecumenical Christians on a Sabeel Reality Tour through the West Bank, who visited Anata and the neighboring refugee camp of Shuafat. Sabeel, which is Arabic for The Way has become a global liberation theology movement, and was founded in Jerusalem by a 1948 refugee and Anglican priest, Rev. Naim Ateek.

We viewed the thirty foot high concrete Wall erected next to the boy's high school and walked around the 'playground' for the 780 adolescents, but the facts on the ground is that their playground is just a slab of cement about the square footage of a basket ball court.

A resident refugee informed me that on a daily basis, "The Israeli Occupation Forces show up when the children gather in the morning or after classes. They throw percussion bombs or gas bombs into the school nearly every day! The world is sleeping; the world is hibernating and is allowing this misery to continue."

I wandered around taking photos and was warmly greeted by a teenage boy who asked me my name and where I was from. I cringed when I said America, for I was ashamed that over one hundred billion USA tax dollars since 1948 have gone to Israel and that over 1.2 million of our tax dollars are eaten up for every one mile of The Wall. The Wall has been deemed illegal and must come down, by the International Court of Justice.


A few miles from Anata, one can enter into an Orwellian Disney Land of lush green grounds of the Pizgat Ze'ev settlement. All the settlements in the West Bank populated by over 275,000 Israeli's are considered illegal under international law.



I was sick at heart and in my gut when I drove less than a mile into the colony for I counted three playgrounds and a swimming pool, and wondered how many USA tax dollars helped to build them, and why the same had not been done for the refugees; who are the indigenous people of that land.


Less than fifteen minutes after my group left Anata, and were praying next to a playground in Pizgat Ze'ev, a barrage of gunshots issued from the refugee camp. I was informed that the Israeli soldiers were showering the refugees with gun fire and terror; just a normal daily occurrence.

I lost it completely and sobbed uncontrollably, and felt like the Magdalena when she could not find her Lord. But then I thought of Jesus, and how he cried buckets of tears over Jerusalem.

2,000 years ago roving bands of politically radical and religious Jews rose up and violently resisted Roman rule in Palestine. They were called Zealots, and I imagine if I had lived back then, I might have been tempted to join them. But, as I live in the 21st century and choose nonviolence, I ardently, fervently and zealously curse the empire that condones the terrorizing and murder of innocent people just because they are Palestinian.

But, the good news is that nonviolent Israelis, Palestinians and Internationals have united as a community to build a positive fact on the ground. Abir's Garden will be more than a symbol of hope, it will be a safe place to grow and play as the struggle for justice and accountability continues.





Why i am RED!

The "O" Word and Jesus Christ!

The Walid Shoebat Show and "America is Beautiful, but she has an ugly side." - Neil Young

2,000 years ago the cross had no religious meaning and was not a piece of jewelry. When Jesus said, "Pick up your cross and follow me" ...

A reflection on Iraq I wrote shortly after the USA bombed Baghdad


2007+2008 :Click here for more details.


July 21, 2009: Agitating for Freedom: Anniversaries, Dreams and Persistence  Read more...

July 20, 2009: Freedom of Conscience and Expression under Criminal Investigation   Read more...

July 19, 2009: More Breaking of the Silence:  Read more...

July 18, 2009: To all the Sharp Dressed Soldiers Shipping Out  Read more...

July 6, 2009: Letter from USA in Spirit with Humanity  Read more...

July 12, 2009: Viva, Fast, March for Gaza: Lennon, MLK and X Read more...

 


June 15, 2009: Israeli Police and Military Brutalize PEACEFUL Protesters at Netanyahu's Speech and related links 

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June 13, 2009: MasterCard and the Extremist Settlers of Silwan 

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June 12, 2009: Getting Gassed in Bil'in

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June 11, 2009: Winning the War of Legitimacy  

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June 9, 2009: An Evening in Sderot

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June 8, 2009: Israel's Future Leaders 

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June 7, 2009: It's All About the Children 

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June 21, 2009: SECURITY and Loose Canons 

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May 20, 2009: The Attack on the LIBERTY: The Untold Story of Israel's Deadly 1967 Assault on a U.S. Spy Ship: A Book Review and Much More... 

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May 27, 2009:Nobel Peace Prize Laureate VS Homeland Security

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May 15, 2009: On Politics, Popes and Reasons to still HOPE   Read more...
May 13, 2009: Open Letter to the Mossad Read more...

May 9, 2009: Mother's Day Manifesto 2009: UPDATE May 11, 2009 @ END

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May 7, 2009: A Nuclear Free World is a Matter of Conscience and/or Faith

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May 6, 2009: Close Encounter with a Gator and the Violence Within Read more...

April 29, 2009:Failures of Intelligence has reaped the Militarization of Christianity Read more...

May 4, 2009: The Irish lead the way... 

April 12, 2009: Resurrections, Revolutions and Making Christ Contemporary 

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April 8, 2009: Giving Peace a Chance

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April 5, 2009: What happened to Jesus and what's a Christian to do with it?  Read more...
March 31, 2009: Brenda Starr+Dorothy Day=Citizen Journalist Read more...
March 28, 2009: Dali dreams, John of the X and what does it mean to be a Christian? Read more...

March 23, 2009: Land Day, BDS and items banned by the Israeli authorities last week include jam and biscuits...

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March 20, 2009: My response to the LA Times duo of op-ed essays by two American Jews with diametrically opposed views of Zionism.

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March 6, 2009: More on and from The Lancet: Withdraws Gaza Article, Author Responds

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March 3, 2009: Just because people say they are Christian; if does NOT mean they are...

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February 25, 2009: "To Gaza, With Love" and a Call to ALL who claim to be Christians

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February 23, 2009: The Battle for Bil'in

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February 22, 2009: Images and Memories, Nightmares and Dreams

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February 20, 2009: A Review of A Palestinian Christian Cry for Reconciliation by Rev. Naim Ateek

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February 13, 2009: The Bell Tolls: A Review of We can have Peace in the Holy Land, by Jimmy Carter

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February 10, 2009: Shelter from The Storm: A Gathering of Doves  
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February 8, 2009: "People really need help but may attack you if you do help them. Help people anyway."

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February 5, 2009: "In the final analysis, it is between you and God. It was never between you and them anyway."-Mother Teresa

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February 3, 2009: JC spoke in parables; I tell stories...

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February 1-2, 2009: Christianity, Anarchy, Tolstoy and Day

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January 29, 2009: Why a nice Irish-American 'girl' like me went to occupied territory

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WAWA Blog January 26, 2009: Could Jon Stewart be Channeling Abbie Hoffman?

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WAWA Blog January 21, 2009: My first FAX to the Obama White House, "The Long-and Largely Untold-History Of Jewish Opposition to Zionism" and The Cult of 'Christian' Zionism is what the concept of the Anti-Christ is all about.

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WAWA Blog January 19, 2009: In Honor of King and with Hope for Change

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WAWA Blog January 16, 2009: Where's the Love+Peace+VOICE of the Artists Against Apartheid?   

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WAWA Blog January 14-15, 2009: ISRAEL IN GAZA: A CRITICAL REFRAMING from ICAHD, more facts from Finklestein and WAWA  

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WAWA Blog January 12, 2009: Thanking Jon, Eye Witness in Hell and Israeli Jews re: Nothing but Gaza UPDATE Jan. 14, 2009 The Spirit Leads

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WAWA Blog January 11, 2009: Welcome to Occupied Orlando

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"HOPE has two children.The first is ANGER at the way things are. The second is COURAGE to DO SOMETHING about it."-St. Augustine

 "He who is not angry when there is just cause for anger is immoral. Why? Because anger looks to the good of justice. And if you can live amid injustice without anger, you are immoral as well as unjust." - Aquinas

BEYOND NUCLEAR: Mordechai Vanunu's Freedom of Speech Trial

Published 10/30/10

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www.EileenFleming.org

Vanunu's Message to

Hillary Clinton re:
The Apartheid Wall



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UNIVERSAL DECLARATION OF HUMAN RIGHTS

Everyone has the right to freedom of opinion and expression; this right includes freedom to hold opinions without interference and to seek, receive and impart information and ideas through any media and regardless of frontiers.


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The Paradoxical Commandments
by Dr. Kent M. Keith

People are illogical, unreasonable, and self-centered.
Love them anyway.

If you do good, people will accuse you of selfish ulterior motives.
Do good anyway.

If you are successful, you win false friends and true enemies.
Succeed anyway.

The good you do today will be forgotten tomorrow.
Do good anyway.

Honesty and frankness make you vulnerable.
Be honest and frank anyway.

The biggest men and women with the biggest ideas can be shot down by the smallest men and women with the smallest minds.
Think big anyway.

People favor underdogs but follow only top dogs.
Fight for a few underdogs anyway.

What you spend years building may be destroyed overnight.
Build anyway.

People really need help but may attack you if you do help them.
Help people anyway.

Give the world the best you have and you'll get kicked in the teeth.
Give the world the best you have anyway.

© 1968, 2001 Kent M. Keith

" In the final analysis, it is between you and God.  It was never between you and them anyway."-Mother Teresa


“You cannot talk like sane men around a peace table while the atomic bomb itself is ticking beneath it. Do not treat the atomic bomb as a weapon of offense; do not treat it as an instrument of the police. Treat the bomb for what it is: the visible insanity of a civilization that has ceased...to obey the laws of life.”- Lewis Mumford, 1946



The age of warrior kings and of warrior presidents has passed. The nuclear age calls for a different kind of leadership....a leadership of intellect, judgment, tolerance and rationality, a leadership committed to human values, to world peace, and to the improvement of the human condition. The attributes upon which we must draw are the human attributes of compassion and common sense, of intellect and creative imagination, and of empathy and understanding between cultures."  - William Fulbright



“Any nation that year after year continues to raise the Defense budget while cutting social programs to the neediest is a nation approaching spiritual death.” - Rev. MLK
Establishment of Israel
"On the day of the termination of the British mandate and on the strength of the United Nations General Assembly declare The State of Israel will be based on freedom, justice and peace as envisaged by the prophets of Israel: it will ensure complete equality of social and political rights to all its inhabitants irrespective of religion it will guarantee freedom of religion [and] conscience and will be faithful to the Charter of the United Nations." - May 14, 1948. The Declaration of the Establishment of Israel
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posted 3/25/2009

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