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WAWA/WeAreWideAwake is my Public Service to America as a muckracker who has journeyed seven times to Israel Palestine since June 2005. WAWA is dedicated to confronting media and governments that shield the whole truth.

We who Are Wide Awake are compelled by the "fierce urgency of Now" [Rev MLK, Jr.] to raise awareness and promote the human dialogue about many of the crucial issues of our day: the state of our Union and in protection of democracy, what life is like under military occupation in Palestine, the Christian EXODUS from the Holy Land, and spirituality-from a Theologically Liberated Christian Anarchist POV.

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We hold these truths to be self-evident: That all men are created equal; that they are endowed by their creator with certain unalienable rights; that, among these, are life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness; that, to secure these rights, governments are instituted among men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed; and, whenever any form of government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the right of the people to alter or to abolish it. -July 4, 1776. The Declaration of Independence

 

Home arrow Blog arrow March 2008 arrow March 27, 2008

March 27, 2008
WAWA Blog March 27, 2008: Video of the surge from Baghdad and USA tax dollars at work: twelve foot high concrete walls and then some emails.

Baghdad: City of walls

In the first of a series, Ghaith Abdul-Ahad's documents the fifth anniversary of the Iraq war. He investigates the US military surge by travelling through the heart of Baghdad; an open air prison which divides Sunni and Shia populations behind 12ft high walls:


http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/video/2008/mar/17/baghdad.city.of.walls




The Evangelical Lutheran Church in Jordan and the Holy Land   (ELCJHL)

Easter Message                 March  2008

The Living God  John 14: 18-19

This is the holy week.  This is the week that goes from hosannas to crucify him, from shouts of "messiah" to shouts of hatred.   The week that starts with a procession of palms and ends with a cry from the cross:  "Eli, Eli, lema sabach thani," – "My God, My God, why have you forsaken me!" 

 

It is the week that we meet the suffering of Jesus in the midst of our own suffering. As I visited Bethlehem last week, I was asked very challenging questions.  Where is the conscience of the world?  Why can't you demand the world – especially the Christian world – to do more?  Why doesn’t the world take it seriously when 150 people – half of them civilians and 25 of them children – are killed in just a few days in Gaza?   Fear is the common thread.

 

As I go to my office in Jerusalem, things look normal in the streets.  This year we are blessed with a good tourist season.  Yet I hear about the many home demolitions happening.  I hear cries of fear and suffering, as people in Silwan and other neighborhoods are afraid the settlers will take their houses.    Again, fear and disappointment are rampant.

 

And as I go to West Jerusalem, it is the same.  Israelis ask me, what do you think of the Yeshiva killing?  Will the killing cycle ever end, they wonder?  Fear is the common thread.

 

Last week I was shocked to go with our Environmental Center to villages where the majority of their land has been swallowed up in settlements.  We planted trees and visited a man who was able to keep his home because of a decision of the Supreme Court, but it has been fenced in with only 5 feet of space between him and the settlement.  Why can't we live on our own land, they wonder?

 

Now there is talk that the Israelis have imposed a closure on the West Bank because of the upcoming Jewish feast of Purim.  Our people are asking me whether the permits that they had to get will be valid so they can come to Jerusalem for Holy Week.

 

What message can I give in the midst of these deep cries?  O Lord, will the vicious circle of bloodshed continue?  O Lord, will I ever get my land back?  O Lord, when will we see justice?  Is life with dignity possible?  Can we ever live without fear?

 

Sometimes I feel that I am like Mary Magdalene, standing in the entrance of the empty tomb and feeling only death.  "They have taken away my Lord out of the tomb and I don't know where they have laid him. (John 20:5?)  And this is part of our crisis in this country, the empty tomb creates empty faith and thus leads us to empty life.

 

As we stand with Mary Magdalene outside the tomb, we see bad news and that Jesus – and our faith – are dead and gone.

 

But, this is the time to bring Easter eyes into the empty tomb and see beyond the death.  The empty tomb of Easter doesn't stop with hopelessness and death, but leads to the only true hope there is.  This empty tomb revives us, creates within us the power of hope and tells us, "As I live, so also will you live."

 

It is our role as a Christian Church living in the land of resurrection to proclaim this call beyond fear and death into new life.   The Church has survived for 2000 years, not because we wallowed in the absence of God.  We survived because we honestly carried and embodied the suffering and the Biblical story yet still experienced the Risen Lord. We survived because we remember and believe in the Risen Lord and his words;

"I will not leave you orphaned; I am coming to you.  In a little while the world will no longer see me, but you will see me; because I live, you also will live.  On that day you will know that I am in my Father, and you in me and I in you."

 

It is our call here as Palestinian Christians, an integral part of the fear and suffering in a hopeless situation, to be witnesses to hope when we see no hope, an oasis of hope in a broken and battered land.  We are to promote life, security and justice for all peoples.  We are to tell our leaders that the old ways of violence, revenge and retaliation are bringing nothing but more of the same.

 

This year the State of Israel celebrates 60 years since its establishment.  This year the Palestinians commemorate 60 years of the Nakba, when they remember their dismissal and dispossession from their home land.  One celebrates with great joy, the other mourns a deep trauma.  I believe it is time to look into the past 60 years and evaluate where it has brought us.

I ask; can we, Palestinians and Israelis, learn to mutually understand the other's pain and suffering and create a common vision together?   The only way forward is to create a reality in which both peoples can celebrate freedom, justice, security and development equally.  We need visionary leaders who can come down from their virtual pulpits and out of their cush negotiating rooms to the real world and make some concrete changes on the ground so that the grassroots can see and believe that freedom with security, reconciliation with justice  and healing with forgiveness are possible by granting legitimate rights to all.

 

People ask me if I am optimistic about peace.  I tell them I am not optimistic about the political atmosphere.  And really, whether I am optimistic, pessimistic, realistic or idealistic doesn't really matter.

 

What matters it that the church has not survived 2000 years since the First Pentecost because we were optimistic, pessimistic, realistic or idealistic but because we are witnesses to the resurrection.  We have experienced the Light and we try to walk as people of the Light, understanding that God uses us to be witnesses for life in this blessed but often battered land.  We say not, I am realistic or pessimistic or idealistic or optimistic but I have hope.

 

Hope is something you participate in, not because it makes sense or will make you a profit but because it is part of who we are and what we believe.  Restoring right relations, building up the Body of Christ and of humanity, is the right thing to do, and, eventually, one day, it will tip the scales.  Justice and peace will have the final word here, just as in South Africa and Ireland, however impossible and "unrealistic" it seemed at the time.

 

Everyday here – even in the midst of the fear and the suffering - small bursts of community, hope and reconciliation are happening through extraordinary people, Israelis, Palestinians, Jews, Muslims and Christians.  In our schools, programs and churches, we try to plant hope and the resurrection through our children, our people and all those whom we serve – regardless of creed, belief or political belief.  In all of our ministries, we seek to express the hope of the resurrection. In interfaith dialogue, we revive the hope that religion promotes life and life abundantly for all.

 

In a land that too often can only see the empty tomb, we are together – with our partners – helping to create sparks of resurrection of hope, community, joy and new life.  We strive to have hope because the Risen Lord on the cross and by his death has overcome oppression and depression and even death itself and embodied new life for us all.

 

For 2000 years, we have witnessed to the living Lord from these fields and stones that are our home.  We will continue to promote the inclusive vision of justice and peace for all, and encourage all toward mutual understanding of one another's sufferings, for that is the only way forward.  Together, peace is possible, a better future is possible, justice is possible, so that, one day, we will stand in this land, without walls, fences, tanks and terror, occupation violence and fear, and shout to the world:

 

Christ is Risen!  He is Risen indeed! 
Al Masih Qam!  He Haqan Qam!

Bishop Dr. Munib Younan


 

A PRAYER FROM AND FOR THE HOLY LAND

God of the Resurrection,

Lead us all, we pray,

out of the tombs that entrap us,
the hate that embitters us, the despair that paralyzes us

and the fear that holds us hostage.

Open our eyes and soften our hearts

to help us see your face in the eyes of the other,

Make us the church you meant us to be,

The people of faith and courage you call us to be,

Bridge-builders, healers, ministers of  reconciliation.

Deliver us from Friday's darkness and Saturday's fear into Sunday's light of hope

so we can walk as raised, risen and reborn

Easter people on the road.   Amen.
-Prayer by Rev. Julie Rowe


A TEXAS LUTHERAN'S VOICE FOR MIDDLE EAST PEACE
   

Our Holy Land Trip and Upcoming Conferences

Posted: 25 Mar 2008 10:58 AM CDT

Readers, I want to encourage you to join our alternative Holy Land tour in June. I'll also announce a number of upcoming Sabeel events in this bulletin.

Listening in Love and Seeking Peace in the Holy Land

Together with my husband, Pastor Franz Schemmel, I will be leading a group to Palestine and Israel June 9-11, 2008, and we still have a few seats available. I think this will be my 16th visit to the region, though it's hard to keep count anymore. Our resource people, based at the International Center of Bethlehem, are excellent. The cost is $3455. For the full brochure, click to http://www.gtd.org/post/pdfbrochure/080618.pdf

I firmly believe that a blessing of faith and challenge awaits those who make this pilgrimage. We will see the Separation Barrier and its effects on daily life. We will taste and experience the cultures of Palestine and Israel and explore the old city of Jerusalem. We will meet people who are passionately involved in the struggle for peace with justice and worship with the Lutheran congregation in Bethlehem. We will go to the sites associated with the Jesus’ life and ministry and meet the leaders of today’s Christian ministries in Palestine. This pilgrimage will engage us in faith as we witness ancient sites and modern problems.

Friends, in every setting where Middle East justice is discussed, an obvious bottom line is the need for more Americans to see and hear the people there and witness the conditions they experience every day. It is so very important. Please join us for this unforgettable journey.

Please do not hesitate to contact me directly:
To register online go to https://www.gtd.org/gtd_registration_step_I.asp?TID=1115

Now for the Sabeel Conferences coming up.

The Carolina Peace Resource Center & Friends of Sabeel-South Carolina present "Peace in the Holy Land - Justice for Israelis & Palestinians," a Sabeel Conference, April 11-12, 2008, at Shandon Presbyterian Church, 607 Woodrow St., Columbia, S.C.

Featured speakers include Dr. Jeff Halper, Coordinator of the Israeli Committee Against House Demolitions, an Israeli-American peace activist, professor of anthropology and author, and Sami Awad, Executive Director of Holy Land Trust in Bethlehem and a leading Palestinian advocates for nonviolence. His organization emphasizes offers non-violence, democracy and trauma-reduction.

Additional speakers:

Dr. Don Wagner, professor and director of the Center for Middle Eastern Studies at North Park University of Chicago, one of the top scholars on Christian Zionism; Cedar Duaybis, founding member of Sabeel and a member of its executive committee, a retired teacher, active in the Episcopal Diocese of Jerusalem in Israel & the Palestinian territories; Dr. Phyllis Bennis, a fellow at the Institute for Policy Studies, frequent commentator on US foreign policy in the Middle East and the author of a primer on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict; Dr. Mazin Qumsiyeh, a Palestinian orthodox Christian, author of Sharing the Land of Canaan and an activist with the Wheels of Justice tour.

Planned Workshops:
Ending the Cycle of Violence
Settlements & the Wall
Christians in the Holy Land
Jerusalem
Christian Zionism
Effective Advocacy
Christian, Jewish & Muslim Voices for Peace
Nonviolence
Palestinian Refugees
Gaza in Crisis
The Role of the Media & US Foreign Policy.

Cost: $55 ($35 Fridy only, $40 Saturday only). Scholarships available for students/low-income. Contact us early! Donations welcome and registration online. Phone: 803-215-3263. Email:

Email:
Web: www.fosna.org or www.carolinapeace.org

In Seattle April 18-19, "Standing With the Living Stones Of Israel and Palestine," a Western Washington Christian Conference. For information/registration: www.livingstonesconference.org

This event is sponsored by a broad consortium of Christians who are concerned with the plight and declining population of their fellow believers in the Holy Land. Friends of Sabeel - North America is a co-sponsors; others include the Catholic and Episcopal cathedrals in Seattle, a number of denominations, organizations such as Middle East Fellowship, Evangelicals for Middle East Understanding, the Church Council of Greater Seattle, and the Rachel Corrie Foundation for Peace and Justice. Another co-sponsor is the Episcopal Bishop's Committee for Israel/Palestine, which convened its organizing meeting with encouragement from Rev. Naim Ateek of Sabeel to seek a united voice among Christians.

For information/registration:
www.livingstonesconference.org

Dr. Bernard Z. Sabella, a Catholic layman and head of the department of Services to Palestinian Refugees of the Middle East Council of Churches, will lead an trio of international keynote speakers. Sabella is on leave from Bethlehem University and is an elected member of the Palestinian Parliament.

The Rev. Jane Barron of the Church of Scotland (Presbyterian) and immediate past pastor of St. Andrew's Church in Jerusalem will be another keynoter, as will Mr. Sami Awad, a Baptist, who heads the Holy Land Trust based in Bethlehem.

Also to be featured is Dr. Steve Niva of The Evergreen State College in Olympia , whose PowerPoint presentation on events since 1948 has been popular with dozens of audiences, and the Rev. Dr. Fahed Abu-Akel, the first Palestinian-born person to head a major U.S. denomination, the Presbyterian Church (USA).

The conference will feature a variety of workshops, panels and screenings of new resources, concluding Saturday afternoon with a worship service.

The daytime program on Friday, April 18, will be at University Christian Church, including a Middle Eastern lunch. That evening the event will move to University Presbyterian Church a block away for a banquet with music and Sabella's keynote address. Saturday's program will also be at University Presbyterian and will include lunch. Both churches are hosting co-sponsors.

The full two-day registration is $50; discounts are available for pre-registration, groups or for just one day. Go to www.livingstonesconference.org

The upcoming Philadelphia Sabeel Conference, "In Search of a Homeland: The Quest for Place and Peace in Israel and Palestine," will be April 25 & 26, 2008, at Villanova University's Connelly Center.

The Rev. Dr. Naim Ateek, founder and director of the Sabeel Ecumenical Liberation Theology Center, Jerusalem, will give the keynote address. For more information go to http://www.fosna.org/conferences_and_trips/index.html

Links to all these events, plus much more information, are at the Friends of Sabeel North America web site: http://www.fosna.org/index.html



To receive regular bulletins from Ann Hafften, subscribe at the blog, A Texas Lutheran's Voice for Peace - http://voicesforpeace.blogspot.com/



 

 

 
   
 
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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

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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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