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Jorge Rafael Videla, the military junta leader who oversaw a ruthless campaign of political killings and forced disappearances during Argentina’s so-called Dirty War against dissidents in the mid-1970s, died on Friday in the Marcos Paz Prison in Buenos Aires, where he was serving a life sentence for crimes against humanity. He was 87.

At least 15,000 people were killed or “disappeared” during the junta’s campaign, according to government estimates. Human rights officials say the figure is closer to 30,000.

It is gratifying to read of the death in prison of a man who had almost 30,000 people murdered. It is even more gratifying to learn that he spent his last thirty years of life in jail. The successful execution of the rule of law, the nonviolent approach to justice, is the single greatest rebuke to those who cry out for weapons on both sides of this world’s political spectrum. …

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Christian extremism in the U.S. Military, Muslim extremism in the new Egyptian Parliament, the worst kind of racism and fantasies of ethnic cleansing reaching the most official governmental positions of the Israeli Chief Rabbinate. That is just the news from one week, and it all points to the same thing: religion is poison for the State and the State is poison for religion. Want to kill a religion? Give it power in the State. Want to save a religion from those men who would abuse it for their own violent fantasies? Deprive religion of all state power, and the maniacs lose interest in it. 

The State is all about power, and we  have learned from a long and painful human history that no one should be trusted with too much power. That is why religion should remain powerless, so that it can function as a place

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Price tag attack on J’lem church provokes religious condemnation.

 


Here is in excerpt from my latest article co-authored with Aziz Abu Sarah.

…So now we have Christian funds from the United States that have effectively supported the misguided second and third generation settler youth who are actively attacking churches and referring to Jesus as a son of a whore. If this is what Pastor John Hagee and other radical Christians intended, then it suggests a rather bizarre theology of interfaith love and care. It seems in reality that these funds are intended to foment conflict, to promote a confrontational, apocalyptic and messianic end to the State of Israel….


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This expresses some of my feelings since returning from Syria. More poems by Huda can be found here.

The Peacemakers

by Huda Orfali

Friday, September 15, 2006

Dedicated to His Holiness Pope John Paul II and the Grand mufti of Syria Sheikh Ahmad Hasoun

The Peacemakers

Collaboration by Peter Paton and Huda Orfali

As the religious divide grows

In the troubled world

They call for dialogue and harmony

In a country where prayers are heard

From two divine neighbors

The church and the mosque

They echo one another

In one call for love

In the world of Islam

He is a shining light

Who teaches tolerance

And unconditional love for all

A spiritual leader

Of great virtue and purity

Who extols and promotes

The Brotherhood of Man

A magnificent orator

Whose words celebrate the truth

Healing all the divisions

That separate faiths and beliefs

A tireless and blessed worker

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Peace is Not Magic

by mgopin on June 26, 2009 · 5 comments

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By Kobi Skolnick
In the last few weeks, there have been many developments in the Middle East conflict. People around the world have been following the speeches of President Obama and Prime Minister Netanyahu, as well as Hosni Mubarak’s essay in the Wall Street Journal. This high-level discussion signals a shift in policy and progress toward peace. However, some skeptics wonder if this is just another phase in a cycle of false hope. After all, it is not difficult to imagine another suicide bombing in one of Israel’s cities, or an ill-timed Israeli Defense Force operation in the Palestinian Territories, both of which would immediately make peace look like a mere fantasy.

This danger has always existed in peace talks between Israel and the Palestinians. Even when top leaders sign treaties, on the ground there remains a deep enmity between Israelis, Palestinians, and the Arab world. With this in mind, …

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I spent almost an hour on the phone with this excellent reporter, Manya A. Brachear, who wrote the Los Angeles Times story. The more I studied the pictures the more horrified I became that this man was running the United States military, and that our country was actually engaged in a Christian crusade in the eyes of so many of its soldiers. I am so glad the reporter gathered the responses of the Christian community and I do hope that, as I said in the article, there is a bipartisan Christian effort to put this dark period behind us in the United States.

Here is an excerpt:

One passage plucked from the New Testament’s Epistle to the Ephesians instructs believers to “put on the full armor of God.”

An excerpt from the Old Testament’s Isaiah directs them to “open the gates that the righteous nation may enter.”

As American

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A curious animosity has arisen on several sides of the Pope’s visit to Israel. Israeli Members of Parliament as well as very prominent rabbis took every opportunity to snipe at every word the Pope did say, should have not said, or should have said. As I watched the media blitz unfold I was amazed at the acrimony. Roi Ben Yehuda, however, has a positive essay on the Pope’s visit and the potential role of peacemaking for religious leaders. Also, various rabbis of the United States and the world were far more generous in welcoming the Pope to Israel.

I understand policy differences with the Pope. Most of the world has one policy difference or another with this conservative Pope. I also understand that his conservative moves with regard to liturgy have angered Jews who see his reintroduction of a prayer hoping for the conversion of the Jews as detrimental …

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TURKEY’S RETURN TO GLORY

by mgopin on March 18, 2009 · 5 comments

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This article just appeared in Today’s Zaman and in Zaman which is Turkey’s preeminent journal. As you can see this has been part of my ongoing efforts to introduce and encourage far more intermediaries in the Middle Eastern conflict who can be effective, trustworthy and more even handed that Western intervention. This is meant also to encourage the United States, Hilary Clinton, and others to follow the lead of where the most moderate voices of the Islamic world are going. This is also a development of my work in Syria which has encouraged cultural revival that is peace-oriented, practical and visionary at once.

Turkey’s return to glory
by
Marc Gopin
For reasons of history, culture and geography, there is a surprising opportunity for Turkey to assume a position of central global leadership in the 21st century and thereby further all of its legitimate national interests.

This is shocking considering the

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JOURNALS OF ECSTATIC HATE

by mgopin on January 16, 2009 · 13 comments

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Sometimes in the construction of a better world, it is necessary to go into the heart of darkness, to quote Conrad. Sometimes it is only in exploring our heart of darkness that we can figure out where we are, so that we know how to get beyond our current fallen state. I am drunk with blood these days, thoughts of blood, fear of blood, the rage of boiling blood, and so is anyone for whom  Palestine and Israel are a fixation.

This report of carnage in a Gaza hospital in all its horrifying details is typical of the innocents who are being cut to pieces. What stands out is the report of the impatient, smiling Islamic Jihad fighter who is just thrilled with the blood of his own people. New recruits to his cause. He sees around him a man with his

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