July 2008

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The Jewish Holocaust in Europe is the preeminent memory of millions of Israelis, many of whose families perished. It is a memory that spurs many Jews to suspect any possible coexistence with the Palestinians and the Arab world in general. This psychological reality of Israeli Jews has been resisted for decades by Palestinians precisely because it is so unfair that they should suffer because of what Europeans did to the Jewish people. Khaled Mahameed has challenged that resistance and has instead embraced the suffering and humanity of Jewish victims as a bridge between Palestinians and Jews, and as a way for each group to begin to humanize the other. Watch his methods in this documentary’s excerpts, especially the second video excerpt. Khaleed is representative of a cutting edge approach to conflicts that seem to be irresolvable in which courageous individuals and groups are going to the heart of the …

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The world of disaster relief, overseas aid, and development has always had a difficult time with mixed motives. Why does anyone give large sums to poor nations in desperate need of help? Millions of people donate money to thousands of non-governmental organizations precisely in order to help people who are sick, poor, and in disastrous circumstances, especially when natural calamities occur. The motivation is mostly altruistic. But governments are massive donors as well. The problem is that once government gets involved there is always the question of mixed motives, national interests and economic interests mixed with public expressions of altruism. The problem is even more acute when it is not just the government but the military. That is why there are strong objections to the U.S. military getting into the business of aid and disaster relief:

“Our [foreign] policy is out of whack,” said Kenneth Bacon, a former assistant secretary

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Obama Home Run with the Israelis

by mgopin on July 26, 2008 · 3 comments

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Obama scored a major political victory in Jerusalem last week in his interview with The Jerusalem Post, the major English-speaking conservative newspaper of Israel. David Horovitz, its lead editor, is a hawk who watches every move of his interviewees. His immense respect for Obama’s substance and performance is irrepressible as we can see here:

Two months ago in the Oval Office, President George W. Bush, coming to the end of a two-term presidency and presumably as expert on Israeli-Palestinian policy as he is ever going to be, was accompanied by a team of no fewer than five advisers and spokespeople during a 40-minute interview with this writer and three other Israeli journalists.

In March, on his whirlwind visit to Israel, Republican presidential nominee John McCain, one of whose primary strengths is said to be his intimate grasp of foreign affairs, chose to bring along Sen. Joe Lieberman to

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Below is a letter from Elana Rozenman, an important religious peacemaker in Israel. The letter is a window into a world of Jewish/Christian/Muslim/Druze peacemaking that few know anything about outside of Israel, and yet their experiments in coexistence, dialogue and cooperation need to be studied and embraced. Notice the way in which the group copes with an attack in Jerusalem.

Hebrew translation follows תרגום לעברית בהמשך
Dear Friends,

July 2- 3 we held a gathering of the Abrahamic Reunion CC in Zichron Yaacov along the Northern coast of Israel. We were men and women — Christians, Jews, Muslims, and Druze — sheiks, imams, rabbis, priests, and spiritual leaders. We were Israeli and Palestinian — joined by Sufi International supporters from the U.S. and Germany, including Anna and Shahabaddin David Less, and Andy Blanch. Our joint coordinators were Eliyahu McLeah, Ibtisam Mahamid, and Jirias Mansour.

The Jerusalem group had traveled together

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Mepeace.org

by mgopin on July 21, 2008 · 4 comments

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Mepeace.org burst onto the scene of Israeli-Palestinian peacemaking very recently. This is a crowded field of many fledgling and worthy groups, each seeking to make change in their own way. These groups have one overriding challenge in this most lasting Middle East conflict. That is the challenge of equality and equal voice. There is no greater or more important task today than to create a platform and envision a space in which Jews and Palestinians can engage in equality as they struggle to make positive change. There has been a lot of language thrown around in this conflict, language about coexistence, about dialogue, and about reconciliation. All good words. But we have come to understand that much of this framing is inadequate to addressing the deepest roots of the conflict, as well as a methodology of change that will really make a difference.

The platform provided by mepeace.org, the …

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Badea Abu Al-Naja and Michael Cousins write important pieces on the revolutionary conference that has just taken place in Madrid sponsored by the Saudi Custodian of the Two Holy Places and the World Muslim League. In attendance were hundreds of prominent religious participants representing all the major religions of the world. The event was inaugurated by the two kings of Saudi Arabia and Spain, and the entire cabinet of Saudi leadership. I was there and can attest to the accuracy of these reports. The organizers bent over backwards to demonstrate a new era in Saudi embrace of world religions, and an attempt to develop a non-political track of interfaith engagement that would enhance global cooperation.

The level of responsiveness to participant concerns was at times astonishing. One day there was a very respectful comment from two people, including Rabbi Arthur Waskow, that it would be good if women could be …

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Excellent progress has been made in the Middle East due to the clever replacement of the United States as a third party. First Turkey, which helped engineer the official channel of a rapprochement between Syria and Israel, and now France in terms of a rapprochement of Syria and Lebanon. They have both played pivotal roles in dramatically changing the possibilities on the ground. I heard through the grapevine that Syrian officials had said over a year ago, “If you see us moving toward Iran it means war, if we move toward Turkey it is peace.” This does not mean that Syria does not maintain a deep relationship with Iran, but all its major public moves of late are moving Syria toward Turkey and France.

Most significant is that for the first time in modern history there is a real chance that Syria and Lebanon will engage in an amicable separation

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Years ago I was experimenting with all sorts of alternative therapies to deal with some back problems, and one was called Polarity Therapy. Well, Richard Haass in the May/June 2008 edition of Foreign Affairs has come up with an interesting paper, “The Age of Nonpolarity: What Will Follow U.S. Dominance”. His prognosis for the world and for the United States, however, is one of worry and concern, predicting a world that will be bad for America. While his insights on globalization and its effects are spot on, I do not agree that a non-polar world, one in which America is no longer a unipolar power, will be bad for America in the long run. On the contrary, as soon as American policy makers internalize the reality of “non-polarity”, a world in which there are no simple poles of superior state power, the more quickly will American resilience step to

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Originally published in Common Ground News Service

WASHINGTON – It is the innocent victims of war that break our hearts when nations and groups cannot lay down their arms. We watch them bleed, we watch them die on a battlefield that is their home, and then we seethe with the outrage of Biblical prophets. But there are others among us who have no patience for impassive prophetic rage. They are the ones who sidestep the violence and, instead of shirking the bleeding of the innocent, replace the lost blood. They repair the bodies and thus embrace with both arms the ancient art of healing.

There is a particular group of healers that share a common DNA. They are from two traditions, both tracing back to Abraham/Ibrahim, whose grave lies not far from the bodies that they repair. I speak of Jewish and Palestinian doctors who have partnered in their determination …

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Video courtesy of Haaretz.com TV, April 22, 2008.

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