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Home arrow Blog arrow August 2010 arrow August 8, 2010: Vanunu is out of jail, a Rev. writes from Jerusalem and a homily for Hiroshima

August 8, 2010: Vanunu is out of jail, a Rev. writes from Jerusalem and a homily for Hiroshima
August 8, 2010: Vanunu is out of jail, a Rev. writes from Jerusalem and a homily for Hiroshima 


Vanunu was released this morning, August 8, 2010, from his most recent solitary confinement that began on May 23, 2010.

What Vanunu will say about his days in solitary remains to be heard, but it began with a whimper from a spokesman for the prisons authority, "Mordecai Vanunu was freed from prison on Sunday morning." 


What Vanunu wrote after his first 8 years in prison was:

 

 

"Solitary confinement is living in a grave to live alone is living with yourself, talking to yourself in your mind remembering yourself in the past, living the past in the present, living the past many times. In the present time you are Dead. A dead man walking in his grave. To be alive is to be free. Here I am a blind man my eyes, walls, can see eight years far away from trees, flowers, sea, women, birds -freedom. Now iron gates, doors, grills, cement in this concrete world solidifying me. Only my mind, my spirit is free-free to remember why I am in prison but not prison for my spirit, they cannot chain my mind. And I am free to keep my belief in my action against all psychological brainwash until I can fly from this state prison - until my dead body will rise again from this tomb like an agent who came back from the cold to serve the world in the war against nuclear Holocaust, nuclear proliferation, against nuclear secrets...to be free to live to be alive.” [1]

 

 

 

What Vanunu said in 2006 about his 18 years in solitary can be heard on Youtube:


 

To coincide with Hiroshima Day, an International Petition calling for Vanunu’s immediate full release to freedom was launched. The current goal is for 500 signatures and as of this writing there are 264. To add yours please visit the TAKE ACTION icon in the upper right margin: FREE MORDECHAI VANUNU.

 

 

In 1995, from Ashkelon Prison, Mordechai Vanunu noted:


"A radioactive cloud consumed rubbed out Hiroshima...A live nuclear test sentenced you. A nuclear laboratory…children women trees animals in and under a nuclear mushroom…burning… burned…flattened to ground radioactive ash-Hiroshima...Nuclear weapons gamblers win against you…Hollywood doesn't know you - you are not a Jewish Holocaust."



 

 

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 The 65th Anniversary of USA Terrorism Enlightened by the Wisdom of Nonviolence
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1. http://vanunu.com/poems/mvpoemburied.html

 





Dear Friends,

 After a three-year absence I am back in Jerusalem for the summer. For a variety of reasons I ceased sending my previous series of letters last year. Now I have a reason to begin a new series.

 Please feel free to share the letter which is both attached and embedded. I only ask that you do share it in its entirety, and that you do include my contact information.

 If you have received this letter indirectly and wish to be added to my mailing list, just send me an email and let me know that. If, on the other hand, you wish to be dropped from the list, let me know that also.

For Peace with Justice!

Russ Siler


From Jerusalem Again # 2
7 August 2010

 Maybe tired...maybe angry...maybe frustrated...but most likely just disappointed. It’s not as if this emotional state is new. Disappointment has been a significant part of my perspective on most things Middle Eastern since I first began to take the issues here seriously. Perhaps my return to Jerusalem has just prodded it to the fore. Perhaps it is because one cannot hide from the realities in Jerusalem. Nor can one avoid the harsh brutality of the occupation of my sisters’ and brothers’ lives by Israel. But these realities are not the genesis of my disappointment. The hard truth is that I have come to expect this kind of behavior from Israel. Sadly, they are good at what they do. They actually have leaders in my country contemplating a third war in this rather contained corner of the world. Brilliant! How better to remove the focus of international eyes and ears from the inexorable taking of land and homes and heritage from Palestinian people than to point to Iran and shout, “They are evil! Hurt them and we will be secure!” Certainly Iran has some horrible characters leading it. Certainly many of them wish Israel harm. Certainly another nuclear nation in the region would be one more step in the wrong direction. But when a tiny, nuclear-armed country can bring my nation to the brink of sending thousands more of our sons and daughters to die in a pre-doomed attempt to bring peace and stability to the area, I must bow in adoration and appreciation of its powers of persuasion. I am not disappointed by Israel. 

 The obvious question then remains: If not Israel, then what? If not the Israelis, then whom?

 In simplest form, I am deeply disappointed by the silence of prophets and the absence of prophetic leadership from those who are in good position to cry out for justice. It is no secret that I am growing older, and the long column of years behind me has left on deposit in my life’s savings a rich treasure of memories. I slogged through the experiences of what is termed the “Civil Rights Movement” in the 50s, the 60s, and the 70s. I was inspired by those men and women who refused to nestle in the comforting embrace of dialogue alone when it was little more than an inexpensive substitute for positive change. In other words it was easy then to speak of justice and equal rights. It was much more difficult to risk losing friends and position and prestige to try to make justice a reality. And I remember well that so many of those stood on the solid rock of their faith, bringing Martin Luther’s magnificent declaration into a 20th century context, “Here I stand; I can do no other. God help me. Amen.” I remember well the tragedy of apartheid and oppression in South Africa and South West Africa which gained in its freedom a new name--Namibia. The struggle, of course, belonged to the people of those lands, but all the rest of us were faced with the choice of where we would stand. Again, people of faith--Christians, Jews, and many others--chose to position themselves resolutely on the side of basic human rights for all people...and gradually the scales of justice were set right. In the other direction powerful voices--both within and outside the Church--intoned the grave admonition, “If we do not walk with the standard bearers of the status quo, the interests of the United States will surely suffer.” It became readily apparent that, simply put, when we both speak and act for right, we earn not only justice for others, but respect for ourselves.


 I am disappointed by the thousands of visitors to this land who see for themselves the oppression under which Palestinians live, yet return home and keep silent, giving our leaders the impression that they do not oppose the occupation by Israel.

 I am disappointed by the church when it will issue righteous pleas for feeding hungry children in its own country, but will simultaneously ignore the suffering children in Gaza, East Jerusalem, and the West Bank. I am aware that speaking out in behalf of our own children carries little risk, but speaking out against Israeli actions which produce grinding poverty and daily humiliation may result in angry reactions and even censure by neighbors and dialogue partners.

 I am disappointed by the United States Administration and the Congress who continue to send billions of tax dollars to Israel each year to purchase weapons and weapons systems, especially when I see so many of those weapons aimed at those who only seek to keep their lands and their livelihood in peace. It would be one thing if weapons were used for defense alone, as they are legally intended, but they are not. Too often the arms are used to protect the illegal settlers as they take land and olive trees and security from Palestinians.

 I am disappointed by many things and many people, but most of all because I believe that time is running out. 

 If there are any more prophets out there, please let us hear your voices. Justice and mercy can wait no longer.


Russell Siler
Lutheran Church of the Redeemer
P.O. Box 14076
91140 Jerusalem
02 626 6800
054 262 3359



The 65th Anniversary of USA Terrorism Enlightened by the Wisdom of Nonviolence
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Living by the Sword, Dying by the Sword:

A Homily on the Golden Rule and Matthew 26:51-56

 

Repenting of the Annihilation of Nagasaki Christianity by American Christians on August 9th, 1945

 

By Gary G. Kohls, MD

 

“And behold, one of those who were with Jesus stretched out his hand and drew his sword, and struck the slave of the high priest, and cut off his ear. Then Jesus said to him, ‘Put your sword back into its place: for all who take up the sword will perish by the sword’…Then all the disciples forsook him and fled.”

 

In 1995, during the 50th anniversary week of the bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, I was at Holden Village, a politically and theologically progressive Lutheran retreat center in the Cascade Mountains of Washington. During that week, there was a one-man play about the life of Harry Truman, the president who was in office when the United States dropped the two atomic bombs on Japan. The actor portraying President Truman mentioned pointedly that as a young man he had kept in his billfold a copy of the Golden Rule (“do unto others as you would have them do unto you”), from Jesus’ Sermon on the Mount. Apparently Truman had claimed at various times during his life that he consulted the Golden Rule whenever he had ethical decisions to make.

 

Later in the monologue, the actor talked about Truman’s decision to order the bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, two defenseless, mainly civilian targets, both of which had been protected, for scientific reasons, from the conventional incendiary bombings that had destroyed nearly every major city in Japan during the first half of 1945. At the end of the play, the actor mentioned Truman’s conviction that ordering the bombings had been the right thing to do, that he had never lost any sleep over the decision and that he would do it all over again without feeling any pangs of conscience.

 

The grotesque contradiction of that statement coupled with Truman’s professed commitment to Jesus’ Golden Rule was too much for me, and so, during the question and answer period, I asked for clarification. How, I wanted to know, did Truman rationalize what Jesus clearly commanded his followers to do in the Sermon on the Mount, with his decision to order the incineration of hundreds of thousands of innocent Japanese civilians, especially with his awareness that Japan had been searching for a way to surrender with honor for weeks before the bombings. All I got was a sputtering defense of Truman’s political decision, and, of course, no coherent comment about the Golden Rule.

 

Harry Truman was a Bible-believing person of faith and privilege who obviously never felt any remorse for his part in causing the cruel suffering of other children of God. But I suspect that if he had been on the ground at Nagasaki in the weeks after August 9, instead of half-way around the world in the safety of the Oval Office, his cavalier attitude would have probably been different. If he had been at ground zero, Truman would have been forced to witness the agony of the living dead, pleading for water, pleading for relief from their pain or pleading for someone to kill them and put them out of their misery. He would have smelled the unforgettable stench of rotting flesh and feces that always follow military air strikes. He is also likely to have succumbed to radiation-induced malignancies himself as did so many American soldiers and Japanese civilians who visited the irradiated cities after the bombings.

 

If Truman had been at ground zero on August 10, 1945, he might not have been so proud of American technological superiority. He may have even expressed shame at having been part of such atrocities, as have so many other American observers of the aftermath. Truman might even have recanted of the deed, asked the Japanese for forgiveness, ordered compensation and looked for other ways to atone for the crime. If Mr. Truman and the tens of thousands of Manhattan Project workers who developed the bombs, and perhaps even the Christian bomber crews that dropped them from the safe distance of 31,000 feet, had witnessed the end result of their efforts up close and personal, they may have stopped cheering their success and instead would have started searching their souls.

 

If Truman’s cabinet ministers, his Joint Chiefs of Staff, his bomber command and the military chaplains who were involved in the war had actually been at ground zero those with any conscience at all would have experienced acute and chronic symptoms of posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD), with overwhelming guilt, panic attacks, insomnia, nightmares, flashbacks, depression, shame and even suicidality. Their symptoms would have persisted for the rest of their lives, as has been the experience of so many victims, perpetrators and bystanders of history’s battlegrounds.

 

If Harry Truman had really experienced the carnage of the scorching, radioactive fireball that created such a hell on earth for the hundreds of thousands of innocent, defenseless civilians, he may even have worked for the abolition of war and refused to put so much time, mind and money into the post-war development of America’s military machine, its nuclear weapons industry and its national security apparatus, all of which have been such tremendous curses to the world and to the soul of America.

 

But the problem isn’t just Harry Truman. And it isn’t just WWII. And it isn’t just the military. The problem is that most post-Constantinian Christians, politicians, war profiteers, super-patriots and the professional officer class are willing to cause others to suffer and die when their security is threatened.

 

The problem lies in our nation’s desire for power, prestige, property and prerogative.

 

The problem lies in our nation’s unquenchable thirst for retaliation when its honor is besmirched.

 

The problem is the church’s silence about, complicity in, or active support for its nation’s wars.

 

The problem is that most of Christianity has been nurtured in the type of religion that seems to never oppose its nation’s war-mongering until it is too late for the war victims, to whom, after the fact, we then pour out our hearts in charity.

 

The story of the bombing of Nagasaki is a particularly sordid chapter in the history of post-Constantinian Christianity, for on August 9, 1945, an all-Christian bomb crew dropped the second atomic bomb on the center of Japanese Christianity - the Nagasaki Urakami Cathedral. The massive Cathedral was one of the few aiming points that the bombardier had been briefed on and the bomb exploded only 500 meters above it. What the Japanese Imperial government had tried and failed to do for over 200 years – destroy Japanese Christianity - was done by American Christians in 9 seconds.

 

Since the Cathedral was at the epicenter of the blast, most Nagasaki Christians who lived in the area did not survive. 6000 Nagasaki Christians died instantly, including all who were at confession at 11:02 am that morning. Of the 12,000 members of the church, eventually 8,500 died as a result of the bomb. Three orders of nuns and a Christian girl’s school were incinerated. Tens of thousands of innocent people died instantly and hundreds of thousands were mortally wounded, some of whose progeny are still in the process of dying from the cross-generational contagiousness of the deadly plutonium.

 

Is this the way of Christ? It is not.

 

For rational non-religious people, it should be obvious that the economic and psychological costs of war are too high. It should be obvious to the followers of Jesus that the spiritual costs of war are way too high.

 

War and violence are equal opportunity destroyers of the soul, whether the psychologically and spiritually traumatized humans in the combat zone are the victims, the bystanders or the perpetrators.

 

When Martin Luther King was asked what he wanted said at his funeral, he said:
”Tell the people that Martin King tried to feed the hungry, give drink to the thirsty and that he was right on the war question.”

 

And looking back on the true history of the monstrous evil that was the Viet Nam war, it was obvious that King was ethically correct when he joined the antiwar protest movement, even though that highly ethical, courageous and very Christlike stance was an unpopular one. It is generally agreed that King was signing his own death warrant when he delivered his famous anti-Viet Nam war speech at Riverside Church in New York City on April 4, 1967, exactly one year, to the day, of his assassination.  The pacifist Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. was right on the war question - and it cost him his life.

 

The pacifist Gandhi was “right on the war question” when he led his nonviolent revolution against British military-enforced economic oppression.

 

The pacifist Christian church of the first 3 centuries was “right on the war question” when it refused, on the basis of their understanding of the message of Jesus, to allow its members to join Rome’s military.

 

The pacifist Jesus was also “right on the war and violence question” – and it cost him his earthly life. “Love your enemies” was not a throwaway line. And Jesus meant it when he said to the sword-wielding Peter in the garden of Gethsemane: “Put up the sword, for he who lives by the sword, dies by the sword.”

 

We American Christians are citizens of the nation that possesses the largest collection of lethal weapons in the history of the world – and we have the military-industrial-congressional complex that has the willingness to use them. Let us not find ourselves on the wrong side of the war question when Judgment Day comes, whatever is that reality. Let us learn and teach and adopt into our lives the ethical lessons of Nagasaki and Viet Nam before it is too late. Let us learn and teach and incarnate the ethics of Jesus in the Sermon on the Mount and the Golden Rule. Let us learn and teach and incarnate what Jesus modeled for us in the way he lived his life – a life of unending mercy, compassionate understanding, forgiveness 70 X 7 and the unconditional love of friend, neighbor and enemy.

 

If we Christians don’t teach and live what Jesus taught - rejecting violence in all its forms, refusing to throw the first stone, rejecting the very human desire to retaliate against our enemies, being merciful to the inconvenient “least ones”, who is going to teach and live it? If we fail to teach all that Jesus taught us, we will find ourselves living by the sword and then we will – along with our progeny and the progeny of our friends and enemies – eventually wind up dying by the sword, figuratively if not literally; spiritually if not physically.

 

We disciples have the crystal-clear model of the nonviolent Jesus to emulate. Let us pray for the courage to follow him and not flee him as the pre-Easter disciples did. Let us pray for the strength to drop our swords and, in that seemingly radical action, minimize the chances of dying by the sword. Our children and grandchildren’s futures, the future of the planet and certainly the future of Christianity depend on whether or not we disciples, and the greater church, finally start teaching and living as Jesus taught and lived.

 

For the past 17 centuries most Christians, contrary to the way of Jesus, have been disobediently and faithlessly trying to live by the sword, and it hasn’t worked out so well. Jesus showed us the way to live. Let us follow that way. Amen.

 

Gary G. Kohls, MD, Duluth, MN for The Community of the Third Way (an Every Church A Peace Church local affiliate – www.ecapc.org)



The 65th Anniversary of USA Terrorism Enlightened by the Wisdom of Nonviolence
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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
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