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Home arrow Blog arrow June 2008 arrow June 22, 2008

June 22, 2008
WAWA Blog June 22, 2008: Not from Jerusalem #11, WCC Press Release and Jeff Poster, Second in the New Voice Out of the Wilderness Series


Dear Friends,

 As most of you know this “Not From Jerusalem” series of messages, written from my home in Virginia, is a continuation of the “From Jerusalem” series of letters I sent during my four years in Jerusalem’s Old City as Pastor of the English-speaking Congregation of the Lutheran Church of the Redeemer.

 
Not From Jerusalem # 11

16 June 2008

 

Some years ago a friend and I were discussing the circumstances under which people change their minds. Aware that I had been known to get fairly loud and forceful in expressing my own opinions, he asked, “When was the last time you got someone to change his mind by yelling at him?” With a small sheepish grin, I responded, “That would be never.” That bit of wisdom is on my mind every time I sit at the keyboard to write one of these periodic letters or any other presentation on the subject. It is also uppermost in my thinking when I offer public seminars and workshops on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. All of us—almost without exception—are prone to react emotionally to the subject, often to the extent that the content of what we hear is obscured or even ignored. All of which is why I try to emphasize to those to whom I am speaking that what I say or present is entirely what I have seen, experienced, or learned. Obviously, I have strong opinions on the issues, but what I want my hearers to do is listen, read, and learn, and then form their own opinions. Verbal force—just as physical force—may alter behavior, but it will not change attitudes and opinions in a positive direction. So I often place before others ideas and propositions which require all of us to think beyond our preconceived notions, images, and stereotypes.

 

For example when the subject of Iran and its potential for producing nuclear weapons arises, I may ask if the fact that Israel has a substantial stockpile of nuclear weapons and the capability to deliver them might act as a motivator for Iran to counter with its own such weapons. From there we might move to the fact that the United States has engaged in a kind of international, diplomatic word game with Israel which goes something like this: “If you don’t state publicly that you have nuclear weapons, we will act as if you don’t have them. OK?” And the “game” has now gone on for more than 50 years. Let me be clear: the fact of Israel’s nuclear arsenal should not determine how the rest of the world should treat Iran, but, if we are to make sound decisions which involve the welfare of countless millions of people, we should consider all the facts available to us.

 

Again, I recently was told that it is a “sin” to term the dispossession of the Palestinian peoples from their homes in 1948 a nakba[or naqba] , the Arabic word for “catastrophe.” The pronouncement came within an episode of written “shouting” in my direction. There was no attempt to share a differing point of view, just a desire to overpower me with one perspective rather than work to see if we might find points of concurrence from which we could proceed to greater understanding. My point is not that we both must agree, but that, if any progress toward a just peace is to be made, we will both understand these two parallel phenomena: Israel, many of the world’s Jews, and much of the rest of the world celebrate the events of 1948, marking the founding of the state of Israel, as a great, positive watershed development; at the exact same time Palestinians, other Arabs, and many in the international community look to that year as a time of grievous injustice, and the intervening years as having compounded what is seen as an international tragedy. We must not only realize that there are two diametrically opposite recollections of the same sequence of events; we must also understand what brought Israelis and Palestinians into such a fierce conflict.

 

For several generations people have been told of the vicious attack on the fledgling Israel by Arab forces immediately at the declaration of statehood in May 1948. Yet there is another perspective. Even Israeli historians today disclose that official pre-state records and files maintained by leaders of the national movement give ample evidence that there was far more to the situation than that: these now-open records show that para-military operations, marked by fear and terror tactics, long preceded the 1948 war. Our approach must not be to see which side can shout its version the loudest, but to acknowledge that there conflicting viewpoints which must be reviewed honestly and resolved with integrity.

 

There are three things I would ask of each of us:

1.       Keep telling everyone you can that there are stories of two peoples—not one—written in the soil of the Holy Land.

2.       Even while you are telling the neglected story, remember to listen to the concerns of those who stand opposite you.

3.       Refuse to allow others to stifle the strong witness for peace with justice by raising concerns that we will be misunderstand and our relationships will suffer.

 

If we do not stand with courage in behalf of justice for those who are oppressed, I cannot see that we have anything left which will be worth standing for.

 Russell O. Siler, Retired
< >


World Council of Churches - News Release
Contact: +41 22 791 6153 +41 79 507 6363 media@wcc-coe. org
 
For immediate release - 18/06/2008 10:39:37

IN PARISH AND PARLIAMENT, CHURCHES OF 40 COUNTRIES GIVE WITNESS FOR MID-EAST PEACE

In Australia a broad spectrum of church leaders came together to address national public opinion makers on the Israel-Palestine conflict and launch a parish awareness kit. In Scotland a cross-party group in Parliament met with Christian, Jewish and Muslim representatives. In Budapest, Hungary's second largest church sent letters about peace for Israelis and Palestinians to the national and foreign governments. In Norway the foreign minister and a Palestinian bishop addressed a multi-religious peace service.
 
In these and some 40 countries last week, there were peace vigils, seminars, concerts, festivals and public gatherings. The activities were part of a joint advocacy initiative, "International Church Action for Peace in Palestine and Israel, 4-10 June 2008", convened by the World Council of Churches. Many used a special prayer for the week from church leaders and a common message saying "It's time for Palestinians and Israelis to share a just peace".
 
"Knowing that churches all over the world are supporting a just peace means a lot for Palestinians, Christian and Muslim, in this 60th anniversary year," said Nora Carmi in Jerusalem, one of the week's planners and a staff member at Sabeel, a church-related organization.
 
People as far afield as Jamaica and Vanuatu and as near as Lebanon and Israel emailed prayers and wishes to Bethlehem to be shared in local schools and churches. Some of the messages were read in Manger Square on June 8, where locals and internationals with torches and drums formed a "living clock" to commemorate six decades of living as refugees and 41 years under occupation. Volunteers from the Ecumenical Accompaniment Programme in Palestine and Israel took part there, in a blog on-line and in events in various countries.
 
At a Canberra press conference, a statement signed by 57 leaders of churches and specialized ministries called on the Australian government to give a much higher priority to working for peace in Israel and the Occupied Palestinian Territories. A Member of Parliament then put the church recommendations on record.
 
At parliament in Edinburgh, 70 politicians and religious leaders addressed the international silence over the blockade of Gaza and the international complicity in not implementing United Nations resolutions on the conflict. The head of the Scottish Episcopal Church urged people in Scotland who are "free to denounce injustice" to support Palestinians and Israelis who persist in working for peace with justice.
 
North American and European leaders of Pax Christi International held a peace vigil in Antwerp, Belgium. World Vision International sent the Jerusalem prayer to 30,000 staff members worldwide. In the Philippines participants found ways to connect local struggles with the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and every member church of the National Council of Churches received the action week message and prayer.
 
In Sri Lanka, the Church of Ceylon's reconciliation office took on the task of educating parishes about Israel and Palestine. National church organizations in the US held an ecumenical service in New York City using the Jerusalem prayer and an accompanying liturgy.
 
International Church Action for Peace in Palestine and Israel:
http://www.oikoumen e.org/?id= 3627
 
WCC member churches in Israel/Palestine:
http://www.oikoumen e.org/?id= 4746
 
Video of the Bethlehem event:
http://www.youtube. com/user/ aeiopenwindows

Additional information: Juan Michel,
+41 22 791 6153 +41 79 507 6363 media@wcc-coe. org
 
The World Council of Churches promotes Christian unity in faith, witness and service for a just and peaceful world. An ecumenical fellowship of churches founded in 1948, today the WCC brings together 349 Protestant, Orthodox, Anglican and other churches representing more than 560 million Christians in over 110 countries, and works cooperatively with the Roman Catholic Church. The WCC general secretary is Rev. Dr Samuel Kobia, from the Methodist Church in Kenya. Headquarters: Geneva, Switzerland.



I received an email from a new voice out of the wilderness, Jeff Poster, with his thought provoking poem which follows.

I have not read
his, "The Switch" or "Reality Check" but this quote on his site resonated deeply:

"Freedom is always in danger, and the majority of mankind will always acquiesce in its loss, unless a minority is willing to challenge the privileges of its few and the apathy of the masses."
~ R.H.S. Crossman


Jeff Poster wrote:

I'm an American who has a hard time believing that there's any hope for America and the human race, so that's why I'm doing my darndest to prop hope up with my manuscripts The Switch and Reality Check.

The Switch can be read at http://www.stoplittering.com/theswitch.htm

This poem of mine encapsulates it:

If Jesus Were Alive Today
By
Jeff Poster

If Jesus were alive today,
He'd surely feel despair,
Amidst a world of plenty,
And a bounty that's not shared.

If Jesus were alive today,
He wouldn't understand,
The system of oppression,
And how so few give a damn.

If Jesus were alive today,
He'd certainly be distraught,
Because the animals of Earth,
Are not treated as they ought.

If Jesus were alive today,
His eyes would have some tears,
And based on all the evidence,
I'd say he was sincere.

If Jesus were alive today,
He'd have to jump and shout,
To wake us from our slumber:
"THE FUTURE IS IN DOUBT!!"

If Jesus were alive today,
You know he'd try in vain,
To save us from each other...
(No doubt he'd go insane.)

If Jesus were alive today,
I expect we'd be rebuked;
It is likely he'd remark:
"Knock it off before I puke."

If Jesus were alive today,
No way he'd vote for Bush;
To those who say he should,
He'd say,"Kiss my tush!"

If Jesus were alive today,
With Bushies he'd be pissed:
"Ignorance is no defence!
Otherwise, get yourself a psychiatrist."

If Jesus were alive today,
He'd put John Kerry in his place,
As the world's lamest candidate:
"Why'd they even let that Jackass race?!"

If Jesus were alive today,
Boy, would Congress get a smack,
For practically everything they've done,
Especially for trusting Jr. with Iraq.

If Jesus were alive today,
He'd say the media was to blame:
"Don't think I haven't noticed,
That you people have no shame."

If Jesus were alive today,
The Democrats he would scorn,
For keeping out Wes Clark:
"Was it yesterday these fools were born?!"

 

If Jesus were alive today,
His sense of humor would be great.
Too wry, perhaps, for some,
But that's how he'd get laid.


If Jesus were alive today,
He'd be branded as a cynic,
Because no one wants to hear,
If it's raining at their picnic.

If Jesus were alive today,
He'd force us all to see,
That hope and love are the answer,
To who we're supposed to be.




Contact Jeff  < > 
   
 
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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

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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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