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Home arrow Blog arrow January 2008 arrow January 23, 2008

January 23, 2008
WAWA Blog January 23, 2008: The Jesuit Con John Dear and more MLK: UPDATED: Note From Jerusalem # 6

John Dear, is a Jesuit priest who has done jail time more than a few times, and is facing even more:

 
All for being a nonviolent nonconformist who follows The Way Jesus taught one must be to be an authentic follower of his.


Dear's statement to the Judge follows these words by Rev. Martin Luther King, Jr.

We must learn to live together as brothers or perish together as fools.
 
Returning violence for violence multiples violence, adding deeper darkness to a night already devoid of stars.

Hate cannot drive out hate; only love can do that.

Hatred paralyzes life; love releases it. Hatred confuses life; love harmonizes it. Hatred darkens life; love illuminates it.

Man must evolve for all human conflict a method which rejects revenge, aggression and retaliation. The foundation of such a method is love.

Every man must decide whether he will walk in the light of creative altruism or in the darkness of destructive selfishness.

 I am convinced that love is the most durable power in the world. It is not an expression of impractical idealism, but of practical realism. Far from being the pious injunction of a Utopian dreamer, love is an absolute necessity for the survival of our civilization. To return hate for hate does nothing but intensify the existence of evil in the universe. Someone must have sense enough and religion enough to cut off the chain of hate and evil, and this can only be done through love.

History will have to record that the greatest tragedy of this period of social transition was not the strident clamor of the bad people, but the appalling silence of the good people.

The hope of a secure and livable world lies with disciplined nonconformists who are dedicated to justice, peace and brotherhood. -Martin Luther King Jr



My Statement Before the Judge
By John Dear
 
 
It's a powerful experience to stand before a judge and be sentenced to jail for saying No to war, injustice and nuclear weapons, something I highly recommend for all followers of the nonviolent Jesus. It really helps clarify one's discipleship, one's citizenship in God's reign of peace, one's faith, hope and love. In these days of war, genocide, nuclear weapons, poverty, executions, abortion, torture, global warming, and violence of every description, it's a great grace to be in trouble with the empire for practicing nonviolence, for daring to offer a word of peace, for serving the God of peace.
 
On Thursday morning, January 24th, I'll stand in Federal Court in Albuquerque, New Mexico and be sentenced for our effort, nearly a year and a half ago now, to visit the office of our Senator. Judge Donald Svet asked us to write letters to him about ourselves, and allowed my co-defendants each to make a statement at their sentencing last November. Here below are excerpts from my notes of what I will say in court on Thursday, if allowed. Regardless of the outcome for me, my prayer is that more and more people will speak out against this evil, ongoing U.S. war on Iraq and in the process, we might all reclaim our fidelity to the nonviolent Jesus.
 

 
In 1999, I led a delegation of Nobel Peace Prize winners to Iraq and met with thousands of Iraqis, including Vice Premier Tarik Aziz, the United Nation's leading officials, the director of every non-governmental organization (including Margaret Hassan, head of CARE, who was assassinated several years ago), the nation's leading imams and the Papal Nuncio, and doctors who explained the effects of the U.S. sanctions which killed hundreds of thousands of Iraqi children during the 1990s. I remember visiting the girls' high school in Baghdad, and hearing hundreds of girls cry out with tears, "Why are you trying to kill us?" It was painful to witness so much suffering. Since then, I've been trying to tell the world that we must stop killing Iraqis, including children.
 
I went to the Federal Building in Santa Fe, NM on September 26th, 2006 to present Senator Domenici's office a copy of the "Declaration of Peace," calling upon citizens everywhere, including Senators and Congressional Representatives, to speak out against the U.S. war and occupation on Iraq, to work to stop the war and pursue nonviolent solutions for the people of Iraq and the Middle East. I wanted the staff of Senator Domenici to fax the statement to him and ask him to sign it. Some of us had already mailed a copy to him, but had not received a response.
 
As a Christian and a priest who walks in the tradition of Martin Luther King, Jr., Dorothy Day and Mahatma Gandhi, I believe no Christian can support this war and still claim to follow the nonviolent Jesus because Jesus commands us to "put down the sword" and "love our enemies." Jesus blesses peacemakers, not warmakers. Christians and all religious people are called to obey a higher law, God's eternal law of nonviolence.

 
I wanted to explain to the Senator and his staff, that this war is a complete disaster for the U.S., Iraq, and the world. From the start, it was a complete fabrication. The President and the Pentagon claimed they were searching for weapons of mass destruction, even though many people around the world knew there were none in Iraq, and claimed that Iraq was involved in the September 11th attacks, which many also knew was impossible. The U.S. government used these lies to steal Iraq's oil and further establish U.S. military control in the region. This war is illegal (in violation of international law and the Nuremberg Principles), totally unjust and immoral, downright impractical and mortally sinful.
 
In light of September 11th, this war has turned the entire world against our country, and sowed the seeds for future terrorist attacks against us. It does not promote security but instead threatens everyone's security. It wreaks havoc on the people of Iraq and the Middle East, as well as our country and the people of New Mexico. It is also a complete waste of money. Those billions of dollars spent killing Iraqi children should be used instead to house the homeless, feed the hungry, provide universal healthcare and better schools, heal the returning veterans, and cleanup the environment, here in New Mexico, in Iraq, and throughout the world.
 
I want the Senator and the New Mexico government and the Federal courts and all government leaders to stop this war because it is killing thousands of U.S. soldiers, including New Mexicans, and hundreds of thousands of Iraqis, mainly civilians. No one deserves to die so that U.S. oil corporations can get richer, or for any reason. Our message is: the killing must stop now. That day, I carried the names of every U.S. soldier killed, and some ten thousand Iraqi civilians killed, and read them aloud to remind myself and others of this reality. Although many people are now against this war, unfortunately, the killing still goes on, and still needs to stop.
 
So I hope that Senator Domenici, his staff, New Mexico's government and the U.S. government will reverse its stand, stop the killing, end this evil war, make massive reparations to the people of Iraq, and seek new nonviolent, non-military policies for the people of Iraq, the United States and the world. I also hope that you, Judge Svet, will join us by working to end this evil war and pursuing God's reign of nonviolence.
 
This morning, I think of Mahatma Gandhi as he stood before a judge on March 18, 1922. "Non-cooperation with evil is as much a duty as cooperation with good," he said. I think this war is evil, and every effort to legalize this war and our weapons of mass destruction is evil, so I will continue to resist this evil war in a spirit of Christian nonviolence, love and truth. Accordingly, I will not pay any fine, nor will I undertake any community service; my whole life is community service. I can not cooperate with this unjust system which continues to kill sisters and brothers in Iraq and elsewhere.
 
As Gandhi said to his judge, I think you have two options: either renounce your guilty verdict upon me and join our campaign to end this war by upholding international law and the Nuremberg principles and supporting those who work nonviolently to end this war; or if you really support this unjust system which makes war, maintains weapons of mass destruction here in New Mexico, and kills people in Iraq and Afghanistan, then give me maximum sentence.
 
The whole world knows this war is a disaster. History will judge us all for where we stood, what we did, what we said at this kairos moment. I urge you to choose life, take a stand for peace, and call upon the whole country to speak out against this war and be converted to the truth of nonviolence.
 
But I take my case to a higher court, and plead before the ultimate judge, the God of peace, for us all: "Give us a new world without war, poverty or nuclear weapons, a new world where one and all live by your eternal law of nonviolence. Help us to end this war and abolish war forever. Thank you, God of peace, for hearing my plea. Amen."
 

 
If John is not in prison, he will lead a special Lenten retreat on Feb. 22-24, "The Passion, Death & Resurrection of the Nonviolent Jesus," in Pennsylvania @
http://www.kirkridge.org
 

Learn more:
http://www.johndear.org

 


22 January 2008

Dear Friends,

...In the few days between the writing and the sending of this message the human crisis in the homes of Gaza has intensified almost beyond comprehension. Although the newspaper headlines give the impression that the blockade preventing food, fuel, and vital medical supplies is a new development, the reality is that Israel’s refusal to permit these commodities essential to life from reaching a people now on the verge of starvation is but the penultimate turn of the screw. For long months little has been allowed into the region—just enough to stave off starvation and utter devastation. As I wrote, the exclusion of the people of Gaza from talks and negotiations has skillfully pushed them down the parallel paths of powerlessness and violence, paths which now provide scant, but usable provocation for the Israelis to ratchet up the pain on the fighters…but also on the children, the weak, and the sick.

 

                If you have never contacted an elected official before, make this your first time. Call the White House Comment Line, 202-456-1111, or your Representative or your Senator. Tell them that it is unthinkable that our country would stand idly by, watching this preventable tragedy occur.

Thank you.
Russ Siler, Retired Pastor
 
Note From Jerusalem # 6: 15 January 2008

 

                As I read and ponder the constant stream of news and information flowing from people touched by the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, I try often to listen as I believe someone would listen who has only a limited amount of knowledge and information. Several matters literally jump off the page because of the way they distort or ignore some of the most critical issues and obstacles to peace with justice. It often occurs to me that the speakers, writers, reporters, and editors of such partial truths simply must be aware of what they are doing. Either that or they are not qualified to report on such consequential matters. Here are some examples.

 

                While reading the Washington Post transcript of a “News Conference” held by President George Bush and Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert held in Jerusalem on 8 January, I came on the reply of President Bush to a question about illegal Israeli settlements: “: Look, I mean, we've been talking about it for four years. The agreement was get rid of outposts -- illegal outposts. And they ought to go.” Sounds like he’s getting tough. Right? Actually what Mr. Bush is doing is playing out his role in the well known “diplomatic dance” regarding settlements. The reporter had set the stage by using the words “settlements” and “outposts” as if they are interchangeable. Of course the President chose the one he wanted to use and replied that the “…illegal outposts…ought to go.” The phrase “illegal outposts” refers only to those tiny clusters of trailers a few settlers have erected on fragments of Palestinian land. In most cases they have received electricity, water, telephones, and military protection from the Israeli authorities, even though they have never received permission from those same authorities to be in these outposts. That lack of proper permits is what makes them “illegal.” It therefore sounds as if Mr. Bush is saying that all the settlements must go, when in reality he is merely speaking about a tiny fraction of the tens of thousands of Israeli dwellings on Palestinian land—housing enterprises which the rest of the world regards as illegal. In fact this charade has continued for years. Speaking firmly in public about outposts distracts concerned attention from the huge confiscation of Palestinian land that the settlements accomplish. There will be no peace if this confiscation is not addressed and corrected.

 

                Then there is the question of Hamas. As you recall, the Palestinian people, encouraged by the United States to hold democratic elections, voted Hamas into power by giving them a clear majority of the National Assembly. Remember also that the United States uttered not one word of warning about just whom the people should elect. In a democratic process the people decide for themselves. And two years ago the people did. But from that day to this both Israel and the United States have done everything they possibly could to guarantee that these elected representatives of the people would not be allowed to govern. Yes, I am aware of the violence between Fatah and Hamas. Yes, I am aware of the homemade rockets from Gaza, crashing down near or on Israeli villages. I am also aware of the hundreds of millions of Palestinian dollars illegally held by Israel with the blessing of the United States—dollars which were to be used to pay teachers, doctors, nurses, and other public servants. I am aware that, without giving the elected leaders one chance, the United States pressured the entire world to withhold all assistance from the Palestinian people if even one dollar was touched by a Hamas member. I am aware that over one and one-half years ago Israel imprisoned nearly 40 Palestinian legislators. Many of them are still in prison with no charges whatsoever filed against them. They are simply in prison.

 

                Now put all that aside, along with all the rhetoric from everybody about who says what about the other. Put aside what you think you know about suicide bombings and house demolitions and targeted assassinations, and ask yourself these questions: Is there even the slightest hope of a just peace and settlement of the issues if we continue to ignore perhaps one-third of the Palestinian people? If we actively support the isolation and thus the hunger and great medical and employment needs of the people in Gaza? If we negotiate only with leaders in the West Bank? If we keep pushing those same West Bankers toward armed conflict with their sisters and brothers in Gaza? If we continue to send the  message to the Palestinian people that we will support their efforts only if we approve of the leaders they elect? This type strategy has never worked for us…and probably not for anyone else either. We have called people communists, terrorists, leftists, and every –ist imaginable, but in the end we sat at the table with them and made our demands while listening to theirs.

 

                I have no way of knowing if there was any kind of agreement between Israel and the United States, but if there were, it could not have worked out better for Israel. Gaza and the West Bank are now separated in all but heritage. The barrier between Palestinians in Jerusalem and those in the West Bank grows stronger and more impenetrable each day. The possibility of a vibrant Palestinian state existing alongside a strong, secure Israel diminishes by the hour.

 

                Then there are the concessions, usually referred to by Israeli politicians as “painful concessions.” When we look beneath this phrase, we find that such concessions include sharing Jerusalem between two peoples and among three faiths; returning stolen land to rightful and lawful owners, ending the illegal occupation, naming borders [There are none now named.] acceptable to the world’s nations, and somehow providing justice to those people who have been refugees from their ancestral homes for almost 60 years.

 

                It is my firm belief that the large majorities of both Israelis and Palestinians will accept a fair agreement which brings justice and security for all. It is also my firm belief that the constant distortion of the issues and disguising of the realities will continue to push away both that justice and that reality.

 

Russell O. Siler, Retired


 
 

 


   
 
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