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Home arrow Blog arrow June 2007 arrow June 6, 2007

June 6, 2007

John Lennon sang, Life is what happens to you, while you're busy making other plans

I know this well and I still make plans.

My plan had been to return to OPT this July to spend two weeks in the three Bethlehem refugee camps to bear witness and report on what life is like for children, youth and mothers,

But as my family must come first, I am now making other plans;

For the needs of elderly parents take precedence over my agenda.

My expose in regards to freedom of speech on the Daily Kos and the state of our union will be published tomorrow,

Today, I offer:

PART 4: Sabeel: The Way and Christian Zionism: The Way NOT!

A 21st Century Christian Prophet

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: The Palestinian Christians

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 to us 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 a real beginning to 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 first born son Ishmael and where it is reported Mohammad 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 silence was the only sound I heard, 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 was Mahmoud, his father was from Chad, his mother a Palestinian, and he was born in Jerusalem.

Mahmoud told 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 archaeologist 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 came to a site known as the "Little Western Wall", which is in the heart of the Muslim quarter. Construction has 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 pointed 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 then climbed to the roof of Al Quds University in Jerusalem where short courses in Arabic are taught. My heart broke when I learned 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 of Bethlehem: Occupied Territory  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!

And that's another story.

   
 
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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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UNIVERSAL DECLARATION OF HUMAN RIGHTS

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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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