PACIFIST FIGHT CLUB

We will fight for peace, but we will do no violence.

Monday, December 15, 2014

"The Shocking Move to Criminalize Nonviolent Protest" - TedTalk

On the heels of the detainment of our friends at Solidarity Uganda, we find this TedTalk:




"In 2002, investigative journalist and TED Fellow Will Potter took a break from his regular beat, writing about shootings and murders for the Chicago Tribune. He went to help a local group campaigning against animal testing: "I thought it would be a safe way to do something positive," he says. Instead, he was arrested, and so began his ongoing journey into a world in which peaceful protest is branded as terrorism." From Ted.com

NOT YET FREE: A STATEMENT FROM PHIL AFTER ARREST IN UGANDA

Editor's note: Phil, and his wife Suzan, run a non-profit called Solidarity Uganda. Friends of PFC, they live in Uganda where they offer seminars and clinics training folks about strategic non-violence. We're proud of the work they're doing, and honored to know of them. 

Recently, at one such training, Phil, Suzan, and others attending the training were detained when 'the District Police Commander and other armed personnel forcefully interrupted' their meeting 'without warning'. Suzan was released after 24-hours, however, Phil was detained—without charge—beyond the legal 48-hour period. He has since been released. SU reports that still, "Security personnel in the region have been FOLLOWING, INTIMIDATING, and THREATENING [those who were at the training], promising to make their lives hell." We praise God for Phil's safe release, and continue to stand, in solidarity, with them and the work they are doing. 

An excerpt from Phil's blog on the Solidarity Uganda site:

My friends, the times are evil indeed, but among you I have found an exception to this rule.  We had no idea we had enough clout for so many allies (local and international) to come to our aid like this, which really helped ensure our well-being.

I say “our” – not “my” – because I have spent six days in cells with three concerned citizens of Uganda who are now among my closest friends: Okullu Tonny Fred (student), Orach Vincent (neighbor), and Ocen Ambrose (District Council V, Dokolo).  My beautiful and fearless wife Suzan was also held in a cell for about 24 hours with us.

So although there has been much concern as to why an American citizen has been detained for more than the legally-allotted 48 hours, we should be more actively questioning why anybody – man, woman, or youth (yes, youth) – is being held in inhumane conditions, especially before being convicted of any crime.  Let us shift our focus to the situation at large, rather than focusing on my personal arrest.

We Are Not Yet Free
While there has been much cause for celebration over our release on police bond yesterday morning, to begin using terms like “free” would distort our situation for several reasons:


1) We are expected to return to Central Police Station Lira (one of the two places where we were held and interrogated) on 18 December at 10:00 AM local time.  At this time, we will be receiving more information about our case regarding whether we will be taken to court.

2) Plain-clothes government authorities are still following us, especially those attendees of our informal dialogue on peace-building, human rights, public service delivery, and advocacy who were not present in the meeting at the time of the arrest.  Those who have been spending the past week in cells are actually physically safer than those who have not.

3) Members of our community have been threatened with arrest simply for trying to visit us.

How You Can Help
Therefore, we ask all of you to continue monitoring our situation and help us achieve justice in the following ways:

- Support the organization Solidarity Uganda financially at http://solidarityuganda.org/monthly-giving-initiative/ .  Many resources have been used up during this time, including large sums for transportation, communication, and mobilizing various forms of support.  We have had some tremendous support via our friends through the GoFundMe initiative ( http://www.gofundme.com/Phil-amp-Suzan ).  This short-term support will help defray many of the incurred expenses, but the long-term support of monthly donors is now becoming even more crucial.  This is not something which happened yesterday and will be over tomorrow.

- Stay tuned on any possible progress of our case through the Solidarity Uganda Facebook page to see how you can help.  I am hereby appointing a team of Megan Clapp, Brett Foote, Nathan Richard Sooy, and Oyaka Makmot to streamline communication with the social media public so that those of us trying to reorganize our lives after our arrest are not bombarded with messages asking for basic information which can be received through these individuals.

- Share this statement broadly.  If you are concerned about who to write to at this point, ask Ambassador DeLisi (US Embassy Kampala) to publicly ask President Museveni to uphold Article 29 of Uganda’s constitution, which protects the rights to Freedom of Assembly, Freedom of Speech and Conscience, Freedom to Protest Unarmed and Peacefully, and Freedom to Form/Join Associations and Organizations.  Let’s use my “American citizenship privilege” to advocate for justice here, since we know that much government funding and support in Uganda comes from the US.

Image of Phil, Suzan & Daughter.

Friday, December 5, 2014

Palestinians and Jews Take A Lesson From Berlin

FROM MUSALAHA:
 
Due to the many events that transpired this past year, specifically the war during the summer, we decided to organize a trip for our young adults. So much was written and said, but very few meetings took place for Israeli and Palestinian young adults who are the rising leaders in their respective societies. Many expressed an interest in meeting, talking, and working through the events of the past months together.
As we began to look into areas to hold the conference, we also looked at Berlin. We have never taken a group here before, but the German capitol holds great appeal. Israel-Palestine is not unique to the world in terms of conflict; many other countries have their own histories of struggle and we can learn from their experiences. This year marks the 25th anniversary of the fall of the Berlin wall, and the unification of Germany. We thought it would be a good opportunity to look at Germany's approach to move beyond animosity and division, a time to visit the Holocaust memorial, and an occasion to reflect on the consequences of hatred and extremism.
This November 2014, we took a group of 18 Israeli and Palestinian young adults and three leaders to Berlin. The focus of the conference revolved around the question, "How do we react during times of conflict?" We began by examining the incidents of the summer, and each side's perspective of what happened. We then discussed how we reacted as individuals and the effects of the conflict on our respective communities. We also reflected on how our spiritual leaders and community leaders publicly responded during the summer through reading various online publications. The purpose of this was to determine whether or not there were voices for reconciliation in our communities, and how we address "the other" during times of crisis.
During the discussion on our leaders' response to the conflict, one participant said "it makes the war personal." If you think about it, it is one thing to read an article from your leader in your home on a screen, and it is another to read the same article with fellow brothers and sisters from the "other side" in Berlin.
There were very different approaches between the communities. Israeli-Palestinian Christian media and websites focused on reporting news related to Christians in Gaza, and they strived to present a balanced view of Israeli and Palestinian struggles. They had a clear call for reconciliation during the war. For Palestinians from the West Bank, the focus was on Christians in Gaza, and a call for justice, prayer, healing and protection. Some of the Palestinian Christian leaders from the West Bank also discussed Israel's disproportionate use of power during the war, and possible solutions to the occupation.

In general, the evangelical Palestinian Christian voice, even the ones that were overtly political in nature, called for reconciliation and peace during the war. They also tried to portray the pain and fears of the Israeli side. At the same time, there were very few evangelical Palestinians who wrote during the war, and none of them were women.
For the most part, the Palestinian Christian participants in Berlin felt that some of the articles represented them. One noted, "What the writers said is what people see. This is their reality." The Messianic Jewish participants reacted with disapproval to the political statements in the Palestinian Christian articles. They did not feel that the articles attempted to sympathize with Israel's situation to an adequate degree.
When examining articles from the Messianic Jewish community, there were many more websites and writers to consider. The Bible was often referenced in Messianic Jewish articles published during the war, particularly with regard to prophecy. They tended to portray the current situation as good versus evil. Many of the writers condemned and blamed Palestinians, seeing their suffering as a consequence of their own actions. There were many calls to prayer focusing on Israel's victory.
In response to the Messianic Jewish articles, the Messianic Jewish participants felt their personal opinions were not represented. They voiced that the articles published by their own community during the war actually posed an obstacle to reconciliation. The Palestinian Christian response to Messianic Jewish articles ranged widely. Some found the material dismissible, and others voiced their disapproval of the content. They also agreed that the articles pose an obstacle to reconciliation.

There were some commonalities between the leadership articles. Both communities used scripture to justify what they wrote, and it was confusing to follow some of switch between politics and scripture. One participant noted, "Just because they are saying a verse, it doesn't mean what they say is spiritual." Both communities tended to focus on the situation without voicing any self-criticism. There was a rush to see fault in the other side, without looking at one's own contribution to the deteriorating situation.
The discussion of the articles was intense. Afterwards, many stressed the need to pray for our leaders. Some participants noted that they know many people who made a decision not write anything during the war. And we saw the result. The more 'extreme' voices in our communities speak loudly, often silencing voices of dissent, and as a result, we tend to think that these 'extreme' voices represent the community.
In our final discussion, we talked about how we should react in the future during times of conflict. We affirmed that there is a need for more moderate voices among us to speak up, and support one another in doing so. We spent time looking at verses challenging us to be a prophetic voice to society. We also learned about the life and work of Dietrich Bonhoeffer under the Nazi regime, and his response during that time.
We left the conference feeling that we were truly able to share our hearts with each other, even when we disagreed. We realized how important it is that we do meet and talk frequently, as it is important to maintaining our relationships. Both sides exhibited great efforts to empathize with the other side, and they approached each other with much maturity and care for one another. We returned home determined to meet again soon, and committed to being more active in reconciliation in our respective communities.
By Jack Munayer and Shadia Qubti
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Thursday, October 16, 2014

Is Buying CALL OF DUTY A Moral Choice?



That video game purchase you just made could be supporting arms and weapons manufacturers.

Fascinating video.


Monday, September 22, 2014

WHERE IS JESUS?


THAT’S WHERE JESUS IS by The Lost Dogs

He's not sittin' up in the White House
Not subject to your big debate
Keeps His hands completely off Wall Street
Don't own stocks, bonds or Real Estate
He ain't up droppin' bombs on people
Or workin' on a college degree
He tunes out all them radio blowhards
Can't stand the networks and religious TV

That's Jesus in the homeless faces
With the junkies in their livin' hell
That's Jesus with the drunks and in
The lonely places
The rest homes and prison cells
That's where Jesus is
That's where Jesus is

He don't hug trees or kill 'em
Or drive a particular car
Won't help you write a big hit song
Don't care how good lookin' you are
And Jesus won't be voting
He's not your party crashin' dog in this fight
Not a fan rootin' for your home team
Don't insure that your future is bright

That's Jesus in the homeless faces
With the junkies in their livin' hell
That's Jesus with the drunks and in
The lonely places
The rest homes and prison cells
That's where Jesus is
Where we ought to be
Here's where Jesus works
Inside you and me
With the folks with AIDS
And the suffering kids
That's where Jesus hangs
That's where Jesus is

On the corner 'round the prostitutes
Is where He'll probably show
He gets invited to church sometimes
And sometimes He don't go
Don't care nuthin' about your status
What you can or you can't afford
Don't care if you're voted best actor
Not impressed with your big award

He's not in the five star restaurant
Eating a six course meal
He's not over on some golf course
Discussing the oil deal

He wants our voice (That's where Jesus is)
That's how He talks (That's where Jesus is)
That's how He walks (That's where Jesus is)
And He wants our faith (That's where Jesus is)
But there's never enough
He wants our hearts (That's where Jesus is)
That's how He Loves

That's where Jesus is
That's where Jesus is
That's where Jesus is

PASSAFIST: THE DR. IS IN.


Thursday, September 18, 2014

When God Predestines a Fight ... (and you both get a swift knee to the nuts...)






If this won't mess with your theology, I don't know what will. And I'm not just talking to the "Pacifist"-minded in our P.F.C. collective. What do you pray after a match if you sincerely believe God has predestined the outcome of your evange-fight—as if GOD is doing the punching and the kicking—and then it ends like this... (Well, watch the video to find out...)

Kudos to the Fight Church documentary.
Hat tip to Matthew Paul Turner for posting this clip on Twitter.


Monday, September 15, 2014

A Conspiracy of War

I know that our Government didn’t fake the ISIS crisis in order to justify the re-invasion of Iraq and yet another endless war in the Middle East.
But, it is kinda strange that so many people have said that those beheading videos looked kinda fake.
And I do know that the CIA admitted to faking some of those Bin Laden videos back when they were trying to justify the last war in Iraq…
...and it is kinda weird that the parents of James Foley are telling us that our own Government sorta threatened them if they tried to raise the money to release their son from ISIS...
....almost as if they kinda wanted him to be beheaded so that they could justify another long war in Iraq.

Almost.
I’m sure it’s also just a coincidence that all of this seems to have fortuitously coincided with the anniversary of 9/11 and just as we’re all remembering that day, and re-watching the videos of the planes hitting the towers, that Obama stands up and declares that we are going to go after the evil guys who beheaded those American citizens in Iraq.

No one could’ve planned that.

Right?

Eagulus: American Super Hero


Sunday, August 24, 2014

End Times Confusion by Heather Goodman



"This is what I'm gonna do," says the Lord, "in the end times."

"I'm gonna bring the Jews back into their land. I know in the past I got really upset if they made alliances with powerful nations to be their providers and protectors, but this time round I'm gonna raise up the USA to provide weapons to my people and I will punish the USA if they ever question a single action that the Israelites perform - I'll send hurricanes and war to the USA if the USA ever stops providing weapons and moral support."

"And that's the other thing - as I bring my people back into their covenant land, I wholeheartedly support having them drive the other people who have been living there in the meantime into gigantic ghettos, like a place called Gaza - and blocking food, medicine, and supplies from getting to them."

"I'm a God of war you know. So, make sure these Arabs know they are not part of my covenant with you Israel - and when they fight back, you will know how evil these people are because they don't readily submit to the way you have treated them. Then kill them - kill them all."


Saturday, August 16, 2014

Meet The Palestinian Gandhi: Mubarak Awad

Where is the Palestinian Gandhi?
 By Jeff Stein / August 11, 2014 5:24 AM EDT
Amid every cycle of violence and revenge in Israel over the past 60 years came the cry: “Where’s the Palestinian Gandhi?” Not so much today. The answer has been blown away in the smoke and rubble of Gaza, where the idea of nonviolent protest seems as quaint as Peter, Paul and Mary. The Palestinians who preached nonviolence and led peaceful marches, boycotts, mass sit-downs and the like are mostly dead, in jail, marginalized or in exile.
Mubarak Awad is one of the latter. Often dubbed “the Palestinian Gandhi” or “Palestinian Martin Luther King Jr.,” Awad now teaches the theory and practice of nonviolence at American University in Washington, D.C., far from his Jerusalem home. 
Israel kicked him out in 1988. Five years earlier, he had opened the doors of the Palestinian Center for the Study of Nonviolence in Jerusalem, with the goal of fomenting mass resistance to the Israeli occupation in the West Bank and Gaza. Do not pay taxes, he lectured. Consume only local goods, like the Indians who followed Gandhi’s movement against British colonial rule. Engage only in peaceful protest. Plant olive trees on land coveted by Jewish settlers. Above all, do not pick up the gun. March, and sit down, like civil rights protesters in the American South in the 1960s. Take the beatings, clog up Israeli jails.
It started to take, here and there, even though the leaders of the PLO and Hamas disdained it. Awad was arrested on the orders of Israeli Prime Minister Yitzhak Shamir and deported.
Today, now beefy and white-haired at 71, with his TV flickering images of Hamas and Israel trading bombs and rockets, Awad insists he is optimistic about the prospects for a nonviolent protest movement in his homeland. “I am very hopeful. I mean, you are talking to a very hopeful person,” he said, ticking off negotiated resolutions to what once seemed implacably violent conflicts in Northern Ireland and South Africa. “Of course, there is violence along the way,” he said. “Germany and France killed each other for 100 years, and now they are friends.”
That’s the long view, but Awad’s optimism is flagging under the weight of the current Gaza conflict, and he maintains that things could get worse. “The Israelis will leave [Gaza], and we will have even more groups of Palestinians, even more militant than Hamas. The Israelis will say they got the weapons in Gaza, but then [the militants] might go to chemical weapons, or might go to [radiological] weapons—or something worse. These death weapons are getting easy to get and easy to make in the laboratory. So people will engage in worse things to kill each other.”
Many Palestinian youths no longer worry about dying, Awad says, egged on by Hamas and even more extreme elements dispatched to Gaza and the occupied West Bank by the so-called Islamic State (IS), the neck-chopping fundamentalists who have taken over large swaths of Syria and Iraq. “When they see people dying there, they say they are not killed, they are being a martyr,” he says. “And they say those people are in paradise, they are in the hands of God.… They say they are better than us because they have already died.… It’s a crazy religious, spiritual way of dealing with death.”
Extremist cash is greasing the path to martyrdom, Awad explains. “The caliphate—the Islamic state in Syria and Iraq—is funding people who have started recruiting the young people in Jerusalem. A great number of those kids have no jobs, they don’t go to school, and they are on drugs.… They are told that if they join certain groups they will get some money—hundreds of young people. So some people are falling under the sway of the IS, and they are willing to kill anybody—Christians, Muslims, Jews, anybody blocking their way. That’s very sad.” His voice trails off.
 Awad came to pacifism through violence. His father was killed by Jewish fighters during Israel’s war for independence in 1948 when he was 5, but his mother counseled him to turn the other cheek. “She told me, ‘The one who killed your father did not know he was leaving me a widow with seven children to raise.’ She said, ‘Please don’t take revenge on your father, don’t kill anyone, don’t ever destroy a human life.’ And I took that very seriously”—even as his mother dispatched him and his brothers to an orphanage. 
“And it was horrible for me. For five or six years, I never had a full stomach. I never had enough to eat. But because of my respect for my mother, I always pushed hard for nonviolence. Not only me, but my brothers,” two of whom now head Christian institutions in the occupied territories. A Greek Orthodox Catholic, Mubarak was influenced by Quaker and Mennonite missionaries, and in his 20s, in the 1960s, he left Jerusalem for Bluffton University, a Mennonite school in Ohio, where he earned a B.A. in social work and sociology. Then came a master’s in education from Saint Francis University in Loretto, Pennsylvania, and a Ph.D. in psychology from Saint Louis University, a Jesuit school in St. Louis. Settling in Ohio, he established a statewide program to find homes for wayward youths ensnared by the criminal justice system. In 1978 it evolved into the National Youth Advocate Program. But his heart was in Jerusalem, especially with the outbreak of the first intifada, or uprising, which started out as a kind of rock-throwing children’s crusade. In 1983 he returned to Jerusalem and started agitating for massive, peaceful resistance.
After repeated warnings over five years, Israel had seen enough. In 1988 officials charged him with inciting a “civil uprising” by circulating leaflets advocating civil disobedience. Over the protests of high U.S. officials, he was deported. But he has continued to make regular short trips “home” on a tourist visa. His targets: Israeli and Palestinian youths tempted by the siren songs of violence and vengeance.   
The Palestinian kids are a very hard case. “We try to negotiate with them,” Awad says. “They say, ‘Give us money if you want to negotiate. Give us a job, give us something to do, give us some hope.’ And we don’t have any money in nonviolence. All we can do is let them express their anger and their feelings about the situation.”
Venting might work in family psychotherapy in Los Angeles, but not in the cauldrons of the West Bank and Gaza. Awad insists that constant counseling and instruction in alternatives to violence can work—much as Martin Luther King Jr. counseled his followers after the outrages of Birmingham. Like King, he extols massive, passive resistance as ennobling. “I have pushed very hard for the idea that anyone who goes to prison is a hero, that you have a badge of honor, that you honor your family, that you honor Palestine, that you have a purpose, by going to jail,” Awad says.
Many longtime observers think his strategy is, at best, way too late. “Even if most Palestinians [were] convinced of the virtues of nonviolent resistance, it’s likely that there will be small groups who are still committed to violence and will take the opportunity to act on a provocation” from Israeli forces, says Hussein Ibish, a senior fellow at the American Task Force on Palestine, a private group that advocates a two-state solution to the 60-year-long struggle. “This will then justify an even more harsh Israeli crackdown, and the vicious circle will be in full effect.”
In 2005, weekly peaceful protests began in the West Bank village of Bil’in against the Separation Wall, which had cut off the villagers from large tracts of their farmland. The protests spread to other villages, and authorities cracked down hard. In the small village of Nabi Salih, just west of Ramallah, the Israeli government arrested 44-year-old schoolteacher Bassem Tamimi, who had led a small band of neighbors in a protest march against an Israeli settlement that had “expropriated” the village’s spring, “the symbolic center of Nabi Salih’s life,” according to an account by Mark Perry in Foreign Policy magazine. He was charged with "incitement, organizing unpermitted marches, disobeying the duty to report to questioning" and “obstruction of justice,” Perry wrote, “for giving young Palestinians advice on how to act under Israeli police interrogation.” Tamimi, who had been arrested a dozen times, spent the next 13 months in a military prison. Undeterred, he was arrested again in 2012.
The protests escalated, as did the Israeli response. Marches were broken up, sometimes with real bullets, and scores were arrested. More Israeli settlements were built. Hamas was in ascendance. Of the nonviolent protesters, Hamas said only that it “wished them well.”
Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas has embraced nonviolence in theory, but “he’s afraid of the fallout,” Awad says, “that people might say he’s weak.”
Without backing from Abbas or Hamas, peaceful resistance is destined to fail. But so, too, has the violence, on both sides. Despite killing over 1,800 Gazans since July 6—72 percent of them civilian and scores of them women and children under 18, according to the United Nations—Israel has not defeated Hamas and may have spawned something worse. (Israel says it has killed 900 “terrorists,” but it did not provide specifics beyond 368 cases listed in 28 entries on its blog, according to The New York Times.)
Wearied by the Gaza catastrophe, the teacher, far from Palestine, has a fallback position now—a kind of nonviolence bottom line. “The most important thing you can say to Hamas and the Palestinians now is, ‘At least you can take a position not to kill women, not to kill children. Have dignity for human rights.’”
Awad sighs. On television, the carnage in Gaza is continuing, the rockets are flying. “They accept that on a personal level, but on a political level,” he says, “it’s very tough.”

Tuesday, August 5, 2014

WAR IS HELL: M*A*S*H


Frank: Well, everybody knows war is hell.

BJ: Remember, you heard it here last.

Hawkeye: War isn’t hell. War is war and hell is hell, and of the two war is a lot worse.

Father Mulcahy: How do you figure that, Hawkeye?

Hawkeye: Simple, father. Tell me, who goes to hell?

Mulcahy: Sinners, I believe.

Hawkeye: Exactly. There are no innocent bystanders in hell. But war is chock full of them. Little kids, cripples, old ladies, in fact, except for a few of the brass almost everybody involved is an innocent bystander.

A Christian In Iraq: Loving My Enemy by Jeremy Courtney


My wife and I moved to Iraq in 2007 to assist in relief and development. We have since made friends on all sides, deep behind “enemy lines.”
Since the fall of Mosul to Sunni militants in June, the world has struggled to accept the failure of the American project in Iraq, the rise of “political Islam” and the marking of Iraqi Christians and other minorities for death or expropriation.
The world may watch from afar and denounce all Iraqi Muslims as militants bent on conquest. But up close, the reality is very different.
It was a Muslim cleric who may have saved this Christian's life. And I'm not the only one.
Even as jihadists justify their atrocities in the name of Islam, millions of Muslims are standing in solidarity with Christians who have been expelled from their homes.
In Najaf, displaced Christians are being housed in the most revered holy site in Shia Islam. Sunnis, Shia, and Christians worship side by side in Baghdad, praying for the peace and future of Iraq.
Our first six months in Iraq were difficult. The lack of electricity and water, the drive-by shootings, the explosions that more than rattled our windows — they shook our souls.
It wasn’t until we began helping a little girl who needed lifesaving heart surgery that we could drive back the gripping fear. Working with her father to save her life injected meaning into an otherwise confusing conflict.
Soon after, word began to spread that we were helping “last chance children” who had been rejected by the other humanitarian aid organizations. The larger organizations looked at pediatric heart surgery and saw nothing but risk.
We spent tens of thousands of dollars sending children outside the country to Israel and Turkey for surgery. Soon Sunnis and Shia, Kurds and Christians were lining up in our office in search of hope.
One day in a hotel lobby I bumped into a Muslim cleric decked out in robes and headdress and found myself fumbling for words. We had been taught to fear these types of clerics. They were supposed to be the crazies who promoted suicide bombings and sectarianism.
But that wasn't the case with Sheikh Ali.
“Peace be upon you,” he said with a huge smile. “We are here as a conference of Muslim scholars. We are against the terrorists.”
The sheikh welcomed me for tea with 10 other clerics and, at great personal risk, welcomed me deeper into his life.
Over time, Ali joined our effort to eradicate the backlog of children who were waiting for these lifesaving surgeries. He introduced me to Muslim leaders. He told me stories about fending off Shia militias as they sought to capture his neighborhood hospital and turn it into a partisan outpost.
When a top Sunni cleric issued a fatwa calling for our death because we sent children to Israel for surgery, our lives turned upside down.
It was Sheikh Ali who defended us against his friend, arguing that if we had saved just one life, as the Quran said, it was as if we had saved the whole of humanity.
He may have saved our lives with that move, but he fell out with the cleric after sending us a baby girl from his own mosque who needed surgery.
Demand for our work at Preemptive Love Coalition rose as international news reported on Iraq's shocking birth-defect crisis. We stopped sending children abroad and partnered with the Iraqi government to train Iraqis in their own hospitals.
Heart surgery is full of meaning in every culture, but especially in Iraq, where fathers find themselves begging anyone who will listen to donate blood while their child lies vulnerable in the operating room.
Once enemies have each other’s blood coursing through their veins, or your nemesis is holding your child’s heart in his hands, it is impossible to hate without condemning oneself, as well.
We know the world is not all rainbows and roses. There is a version of Islam out there that is dangerous and scary.
But there are far more Muslims like Sheikh Ali.
There is a lesson to learn from the fatwa that called for our death: It’s not violence or pre-emptive strikes that terrify the terrorists. They need violence to be done against them to justify their cause.
But pre-emptive love — shown through heart surgeries or simple hospitality — upends our simplistic stories and threatens hatred everywhere.
Or, in the words of the fatwa issued against our work:
“We must stop [these heart surgeries] lest it lead our children and their parents to love their enemies!”
God willing, Preemptive Love Coalition will mark our 1,000th operation next month in Iraq, with the help of Christian donors and Muslim sponsors like Sheikh Ali.
One thousand children, with thousands of fathers, mothers, aunts, and uncles across Iraq.
We’ve drunk their tea, celebrated miracle birthdays, and prayed for their children as they go off to school. The Iraqis we are training will save the lives of tens of thousands more.
So, in the end, I have to admit the cleric was right: Pre-emptive love does work. It destroys enemies by making them friends.
Jeremy Courtney is executive director of Preemptive Love Coalition, an international development organization in Iraq, and author of "Preemptive Love: Pursuing Peace One Heart at a Time." The views expressed in this column belong to Courtney.

Saturday, August 2, 2014

U.S. Holds World Record For Killing Innocent Civilians


By Prof. John McMurtry and Kourosh Ziabari
Global Research, July 29, 2014

READ FULL ARTICLE HERE>
A world-renowned Canadian philosopher argues that the United States holds the world record of illegal killings of unarmed civilians and extrajudicial detention and torturing of prisoners who are detained without trial.
Prof. John McMurtry says that the U.S. government is a gigantic mass-murdering machine which earns profit through waging wars, and is never held accountable over its unspeakable war crimes and crimes against humanity. He also believes that the U.S. has become a police state, which treats its citizens in the most derogatory manner.
 “I have travelled alone with only backpack possession through the world, and have found no state in which police forces are more habituated to violent bullying, more likely to draw a gun, more discriminatory against the dispossessed, and more arbitrarily vicious in normal behavior,” said McMurtry. “The US now leads the globe in an underlying civil war of the rich against the poor.”
 “The US can … detain, kidnap and imprison without trial or indictment any US citizen or other citizen anywhere by designating them enemies to the US,” Prof. John McMurtry noted in an exclusive interview with Fars News Agency.

Monday, July 28, 2014

AND JESUS WEPT





“Hamas started this war,” said Anthony. “The soldiers of Israel must smash their skulls and break their spines.”

When he said that, a standing-room crowd of pastors and activists and politicians rose to its feet, waving the twin flags of the countries God loved.



READ FULL ARTICLE HERE>

Friday, July 25, 2014

Should Jesus Inform Our Christianity? by Rachel Held Evans


The myth of redemptive violence—the notion that we can kill our way to peace— is a powerful one, and I'm constantly amazed at how it sneaks into our culture, the Church, and even my own heart.

We saw it stated rather overtly when Sarah Palin, a Christian, declared to a roaring crowd at the National Rifle Association annual meeting that true leaders “put the fear of God in our enemies,” and that if she were in charge, those enemies would know “that waterboarding is how we baptize terrorists."

The myth was perpetuated again last week by President of Southern Baptist Theological Seminary Al Mohler who, in response to Clayton Lockett’s botched execution in Oklahoma, wrote a post for CNN entitled “Why Christians should support the death penalty.

“In a world of violence,” he argues, “the death penalty is understood as a necessary firewall against the spread of further deadly violence.”

Violence to stop violence to stop violence to stop violence.

And on and on it goes...

I found it telling that in making his case for the Christian view on capital punishment, Mohler does not once consider the teachings of Jesus Christ. Instead, he supports his position by primarily citing Old Testament law, which he neglects to mention prescribes the death penalty not only for murderers, but also for adulterers and disobedient children.

And it is ironic that Mohler, who has been a tireless advocate for young earth creationism on the basis that the straightforward and direct reading of [Genesis] describes seven 24-hour days,” does not seem to think that a straightforward and direct reading of Jesus’ teachings regarding violence is necessary.

In his famous Sermon on the Mount, Jesus confronted the myth of redemptive violence head-on:

You have heard that it was said, ‘Eye for eye, and tooth for tooth.’ But I tell you, do not resist an evil person. If anyone slaps you on the right cheek, turn to them the other cheek also. And if anyone wants to sue you and take your shirt, hand over your coat as well. If anyone forces you to go one mile, go with them two miles. Give to the one who asks you, and do not turn away from the one who wants to borrow from you. You have heard that it was said, ‘Love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’ But I tell you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, that you may be children of your Father in heaven.”

And when Jesus was given the opportunity to participate in the execution of an adulterer, he refused, challenging those who had gathered around the woman to drop their stones and walk away.

Funny how it’s easy to favor a “straightforward reading” of the text until the text says “love your enemies.”

Since he’s a brother in Christ, I’ll give Mohler the benefit of the doubt and assume he didn’t quote Jesus because he believes Jesus’ teachings regarding violence are intended to be applied exclusively at the personal level without affecting public policy. (While Old Testament law still applies?) He’s entitled to that opinion, of course, but I do wish he would stop accusing Christians who don’t interpret Genesis 1 as a literal, scientific text as having a “low view of Scripture” when his piece reveals that his own literalism is as selective as the next guy’s.

(Reality check: We’re all selective about what we interpret and apply literally from Scripture. And most of us are doing our best to honor the meaning of the biblical text while also considering its original context, culture, genre, and language. Disagreements don’t have to reflect a high view vs. a low view. Most simply reflect different views.)

Still, when we have folks declaring that support for torture and the death penalty reflect the Christian position on justice, I think it’s worth asking a seemingly obvious question: To what degree does Jesus inform our Christianity?

A recent Barna poll showed that only 10 percent of practicing Christians in America believe Jesus would support the death penalty for criminals. And yet a much higher percentage (42 percent of Christian Baby Boomers and 32 percent of Christian millennials) support the death penalty themselves.

That’s a pretty significant disconnect.

And I suspect it exists because we have created a culture in which Christians tend to see Jesus as a sort of static mechanism by which salvation is secured rather than the full embodiment of God’s will for the world whose life and teachings we are called to emulate and follow.

Basically, we believe that Jesus died to save us from our sins, but we haven’t yet embraced the reality that Jesus also lived to save us from our sins.

We haven’t embraced the reality that following the ways of Jesus leads to liberation and life more abundant - not only for ourselves but also for the whole world.

Instead, we tend to think of the Sermon on the Mount and the stories of the gospels as interesting backstory to Jesus’ march to the cross, where the penalty for our sins was paid in full. We flatten out the words of God-In-Flesh—(God eating and drinking and walking and teaching and laughing and crying among us)— and give them equal (or often lesser) value to those of the apostle Paul or Old Testament law.

But the Bible isn’t flat. The Bible reaches its culmination, indeed its fulfillment, in the person of Jesus Christ. So it seems like we ought to listen to what he had to say….and what he’s saying still.

But here’s the rub:

It’s easy for me to spot Al Mohler’s Sarah Palin’s inconsistent application of Jesus’ teachings, but the minute I turned to the Sermon on Mount to load up with proof texts against them, I was hit by this zinger:

“You have heard that it was said to the people long ago, ‘You shall not murder,and anyone who murders will be subject to judgment.’ But I tell you that anyone who is angry with a brother or sister will be subject to judgment. Again, anyone who says to a brother or sister, ‘Raca,’is answerable to the court. And anyone who says, ‘You fool!’ will be in danger of the fire of hell."

That word, ‘raca,’ basically means “idiot,” and when I think of all the times I’ve muttered that word under my breath in response to folks with whom I disagree, it’s a little convicting.

….Okay, a lot convicting.

(Seriously. Every time I go to the Gospels to mine them for a theological point to use in an argument, I end up walking away saying, "Dang it, Jesus! WHY!?!?")

The truth is, Jesus doesn’t always inform my Christianity either. In fact, sometimes I’m not sure I want to follow Jesus. I'm not sure it’s possible to be a healthy, well-adjusted person and go around loving your enemies and giving without expecting anything in return and turning the other cheek. For all my well-intentioned advocacy against the death penalty, I'm not certain I'd oppose it if the person on death row had killed my mother or my sister or my husband.

But if Jesus is really God-in-flesh, if he really shows us the way to live, then I need the Church to help me figure out what it looks like to do that faithfully. I need the Church to help me wrestle with these teachings, not ignore them.

And I think that begins by putting Jesus at the center, not the periphery, of what it means to be a Christian.

READ ORIGINAL ARTICLE HERE>
 

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Why I Object to Israel’s Military Campaign

[Even as Hamas fires missiles at my city]
 
By
 

Even today – when rockets are exploding above the city I love most in the world – even now, I oppose this military operation wholeheartedly.

I would still like to believe that this whole thing is a misunderstanding, and that if my own people would only give some more thought to the reality in the occupied territories, they would change their minds overnight. I want to believe that they don’t fully grasp the nature of the occupation, which is why they are so enraged by whatever the Palestinians do. This mindset leads to yet another violent Israeli response, which only paves the way for the next escalation. I do not know if this line of thinking is more na├»ve or more patronizing on my part, but what other explanations are there?

I keep running into Israelis who don’t know, for example:

  • That we still control Allenby Bridge (which connects the West Bank to Jordan)
  • And with it each entrance and exit of every Palestinian into the West Bank
  • That the Israeli Defense Force still operates in Area A, supposedly under the full control of the Palestinian Authority
  • That there is no 3G network in the West Bank because Israel doesn’t permit the Palestinian cellular providers to use the necessary frequencies
  • That we imprison hundreds of Palestinians without trial for months and years
  • Or any other factual, undeniable aspect of the occupation.
 
 

If all this is unknown, then perhaps this is all just a big misunderstanding.

Most of the time I try to correct misconceptions and argue over such details, but if I had to explain the whole thing briefly, I would use the following metaphor:

We’ve built two giant prisons. Let’s call them “West Bank Prison” and “Gaza Prison.”

The West Bank Prison is similar to a minimum-security facility, where prisoners get to run their own affairs as long as they behave. They are entitled to vacations from time to time, and once a year they are even taken to the beach. Some lucky people get below-minimum-wage jobs in nearby factories, and when you consider the low prices in the prison canteen, it’s actually not a bad deal.

Gaza, on the other hand, is a maximum-security facility. It is difficult to visit and impossible to leave. We allow in essential food, water, and electricity so that the prisoners don’t die. Apart from that, we don’t really care about them—that is unless they approach the prison fence, or the “forbidden” perimeter, where anyone who wanders too close is shot, or if they try to throw something over the fence.

The prison facilities now hold a total of 3.5 million people—an entire nation—all sentenced to life. Under such conditions, prisoners can turn to desperate measures, such as suicide missions, digging long tunnels, or swimming miles and storming our tanks with their old rifles.