October 2010

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President Obama has signaled in recent days that he will be confronting China much more on its global policies. But China is on the rise as the premier economic global power, even as America is on the decline, and it remains to be seen what kind of confrontation could be effective. Will China’s rise actually be good news for the world? This will depend on how China rises, and it will be wise to challenge China on its humanitarian impact every bit as much as on its economic impact globally. Let’s look at one example.

Burma has one of the worst governments in the world, a place where citizens live in terror. The military junta seized power when Aung San Suu Kyi’s party won 392 of the 492 seats in Parliament. It does not fully control the Hill Country on the west and east sides of the country, inhabited by …

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Iraq Sentences Tariq Aziz to Death – NYTimes.com.

Is this really a victory for democracy, for freedom? Especially in light of the wikileaks. I find his sentence rather disgusting because it just adds one more body on the pile of reverse injustices. Now we know just how many Sunnis have been slaughtered unjustly. Has this really made Shiites more secure? I don’t see the real transition yet to peace or justice. Of course, the man should be in jail for the rest of his life for the crimes against humanity, but soon he will hang in the gallows the way Saddam did. Will this solidify peace and democracy, has it ever? It is just one victorious side, while millions of Sunnis languish in neighboring countries. There are consequences for these endless cycles of revenge.…

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Poll: Abbas enjoys support of young PalestiniansNearly 40 percent of young Palestinians say they would vote for Palestinian presidents secular Fatah faction, with only 10 percent backing Hamas.

via Poll: Abbas enjoys support of young Palestinians – Haaretz Daily Newspaper | Israel News.

This is very important as a step toward statehood. As I suspsected all along, the young are more pragmatic, less focused on revenge for all the injustices, and more aware of how Palestinian national aspirations can really be attained.…

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He was racing in a Humvee with four other soldiers, having arrived there just days before, 19 years old. The day he got there his best friend was shot in the head, boom, gone in an instant. Now he was racing along this road when a missile directly hit the cab of the vehicle. One guy’s legs were gone and another was killed right away, and the missile flew right by his head, just missing him. He seemed uninjured, but he was, and now he is back in Boston.

It was a sunny August afternoon in Boston as I leaped into a cab. I had just finished attending a conference of great religious educators at Boston University, and I was feeling very good about my presentation. I thought it was a home run because I really connected with the message and the people.

The 50-something Irish cab driver, whose presence …

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Recent sputterings of a peace process between Israel and Palestine, the termination of Israel’s settlement building freeze causing a demise of said peace process — again — has produced a loud, global yawn. What else is new in this endless conflict? Negotiations cannot succeed without a vision, and there is no widely shared vision of peace among these people that could truly spur their politicians forward.

The hardest part of building peace for the future is freeing oneself from the wounds of the past that create brutal behavior in the present. One way forward may be to suspend skepticism for just a moment, to free the mind to build a world of practical possibilities should peace be achieved. Armed with this imaginative exercise it might become easier to lobby for practical ways forward.

Let’s imagine the following: official creation of a state of Palestine on the West Bank and Gaza

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The hardest part of building peace for the future is freeing oneself from the wounds of war, the mutual recriminations of the present, the painful memories of a lost past, and the unreasonable fantasies of a world where one’s enemies magically disappear. Sometimes the way forward is to free the mind to build a different world, a world of practical possibilities should peace be achieved.

Let’s imagine the following: a full peace treaty between Israel and Palestine, official creation of a state of Palestine on the West Bank and Gaza, with East Jerusalem as its capital, a shared civil regime for the quarter mile of the Holy Basin in the Old City of Jerusalem that is overseen by Israeli and Palestinian Jews, Muslims and Christians, and a way for every Palestinian refugee camp’s residents to be awarded citizenship and compensation in a variety of countries including Palestine itself.

The first …

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It was three days before Rosh Hashanah, and I was predictably anxious about my identity, my life, about my family’s Jewish future. As a good and fractious Jew, I was somewhat ambivalent about which synagogue I would go to: The one I sometimes go to? The one I would never step foot in? The one that I really should create on my own, maybe?

This Rosh Hashanah was different for two reasons. My 87-year old mother, who lives alone 400 miles away in Boston, had pneumonia. So we were on our way to Boston, but I had to honor a commitment to my dear friend Yahya Hendi, who is an imam. He wanted the whole family, the whole world, it seems, but especially Jews and Christians, for an iftar, a very sacred celebration as a part of Ramadan. He wanted us all to share in every aspect of the evening, …

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