(A version of this essay was recently published in The Jerusalem Report.)
Across the world in the last 40 years politically organized religious forces have played an increasingly important role in national politics. From India to Indonesia, from Lebanon to Israel, from the United States to Russia, organized religion has increased its impact on politics.
We are also aware of the frightening rise of very violent religion, expressed through terror groups. For this reason, it is easy to misunderstand the relationship between religion on the one hand and between states and ethnic groups and their very secular interests, on the other hand.
Precisely because so many millions of people care about religion, religion has become an essential tool of secular state and ethnic interests. Indeed, what may seem to be a religious issue often turns out to be very secular state interests. Missing this relationship, it becomes easy
Here are two interviews that I did with Fox News and Russia TV on Tuesday, regarding thousands of Palestinian refugees who attempted to nonviolently cross Israeli borders from the Syrian, Lebanese, and Palestinian border last weekend, resulting in several deaths and dozens injured.
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.
In Jerusalem’s Mamilla cemetery, Rawan Dajani stands before a mausoleum where her ancestor Sheikh Ahmed Dajani was buried nearly 450 years ago.
By Omar Kasrawi
Standing outside a mausoleum in Jerusalem’s Mamilla cemetery, Rawan Dajani bows her head and cups her hands upward in prayer for her ancestor Sheikh Ahmed Dajani. He was buried in Mamilla, the oldest Muslim burial ground in Jerusalem, nearly half a millennium ago.
About 200 meters away, a fenced-off construction zone marks the future site of the Center for Human Dignity – Museum of Tolerance, a project overseen by the California-based Simon Wiesenthal Center.
In Israel, starting a new project inevitably means bumping into history. In this case, the construction that started in 2004 has stirred Muslim anger as it displaces hundreds of Muslim graves dating as far back as the 7th century, including the remains of soldiers and officials of the Muslim ruler Saladin.…
This is the day in the Jewish calendar that is the eve of destruction, commemorating all the catastrophes of the last 2500 years, the forced exiles, the crusades, the massacres, the pogroms, an authentically religious national day of mourning for millions of jewish innocents over the ages. Only what is different from profane forms of Jewish mourning, is that religious mourning looks inward, introspectively, not outward for scapegoats. And this is the difference between heaven and hell, the hell created by profane nationalism, and the heaven created by spiritual identity.
I heard a homily in a synagogue yesterday that turned my stomach so badly that I had to leave. It was a celebration of conquest, precisely at this time, an embrace of the conquerors of the Book of Joshua, as role models for a new husband and wife team celebrating their upcoming marriage.
Based in Jerusalem with day trips to neighboring cities and Holy sites
REGISTER TODAY – LIMITED SPACE
Contact: Scott Cooper or Becca Grimm at ‘firstname.lastname@example.org‘ or 1-703-993-4473 (USA)
This seminar will be a combination of theory exploration, training, and concrete practice in the field. Based on Dr. Gopin’s most recent theories in To Make the Earth Whole: The Art of Citizen Diplomacy, the course will create space for participants to understand and measure in a new way the dynamics of their own potential impact on war and peace. It explores:
The theory and practice of positive incremental change and citizen diplomacy
A central case study from the Middle East
The philosophical and spiritual ethics, East and West, of decision making in conflict interventions.
One of the stops on her Going Rogue book promotional tour last week was ABC’s Good Morning America. Noting that the Obama administration doesn’t want Israel to build any more settlements on what it considers Palestinian territory, interviewer Barbara Walters asked the former Alaska governor/vice presidential candidate for her view.
Palin’s response: “I disagree with the Obama administration on that. I believe that the Jewish settlements should be allowed to be expanded upon because the population of Israel is going to grow. More and more Jewish people will be flocking to Israel in the days and weeks and months ahead. And I don’t think that the Obama administration has any right to tell Israel that the Jewish settlements cannot expand.”
More and more Jewish people flocking to Israel? What’s Palin’s source of information? Since 2002 – the year
‘Jews who sell to Arabs are enemies’
By Matthew Wagner
A meeting of The New Sanhedrin
A Jew who sells land to an Arab in Israel should not be allowed to lead prayers in synagogue, should not be given the right to make a blessing during the Torah reading, should not be counted among the quorum needed for public prayers and is considered an abettor to the enemies of Israel, according to a halachic decision issued on Monday night by a group of rabbis calling themselves “The New Sanhedrin.”
What astonishes are the last lines of this piece:
Eliyahu said that in his own city of Safed, a Jew who sold to an Arab was boycotted by the community. “He owned a grocery store and people boycotted it.”
Halacha forbids the sale of land in Israel owned by Jews to non-Jews. However, there is nothing in Jewish law that
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, …
On June 21, 2009 will be the third annual Jerusalem Hug. The Jerusalem Hug is will occur from 4-11 pm, in the Old City. The hug begins with two facilitated listening circles, one in an open air plaza south of the Jaffa Gate and another at Palm Trees' Garden (Suk Al Falahin) west of the Damascus Gate.