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ENEMIES

When you stay with a family that thrives on hatred of everyone else, 99.9% of humanity fears you, and certainly dislikes you. When you grow into your original family of humanity, your enemies are only a small percent of your old family that thrived on fear and hatred of the rest. 

LOVE

If you want the joy of loving humanity, you must endure the sorrow of losing many loved ones. The more you love, the more you lose. If you are not prepared, bitterness will swallow you.

If you prepare yourself for loss, then the light of love will endure and even conquer the darkness dividing you from enemies, when the men with guns slink into the shadows exhausted and defeated.

CALCULATIONS

Miscalculations cause much human violence. Each side thinks its escalation of inflicted pain will cause the other to back down, and then it does the …

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My latest Huffington Post piece examines democracy in the modern world:

Democracy is dead, long live democracy. Modi has won by a landslide in India. Touted everywhere as the world’s largest “democracy,” India will be ruled by a man who has never repudiated or apologized for the slaughter of Muslims in his state’s riots while he was in charge, a man who is the force behind the most ultranationalist and bigoted Indian political party in modern history. Right here in the USA, Princeton University demonstrates that most every policy and every piece of ‘democratic’ legislation is supporting the rise of an oligarchy and the disappearance of the middle class. From Russia to India to Israel, we have a problem with elected ultra-right leaders who basically embody what John Stuart Mill, one of the greatest modern architects of democracy, referred to as ‘the tyranny of the majority.’

In every case majority …

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This article was originally published on January 18th here.

At the beginning of December 2011, the Center for World Religions, Diplomacy, and Conflict Resolution at George Mason University convened a meeting of over twenty world famous Islamic scholars and dignitaries together with over one hundred and twenty clerics from every province of Afghanistan. The event was unprecedented in the history of Afghan conflict resolution. Never before had anyone brought together the beleaguered Imams of the Afghan provinces, men who had stood up for peace and risked their lives to fight against the misuse of their religion. These men stood witness as colleagues, who dared stand up at Friday prayer and advocate for Islam’s commitment to nonviolence, for women’s rights, and for tolerance, were assassinated by radical forces in the region and neighboring states whose only purpose was to keep the war going and Afghanistan divided. Nevertheless, these men …

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Get on the Right Side of History

by mgopin on September 24, 2011 · 0 comments

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(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

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From the explosion of Osama Bin Laden into our consciousness on that terrible day in 2001, all the way to his death, feels like a frame of existence, a distinct period of our history and fate as an American community. There have been many deadly wars since then that America has participated in or supported. As an American Jew and a veteran peacebuilder in the Middle East, I also feel like this decade has been a whirlwind of violence, from Iraq to Lebanon to Gaza, and now to Arab countries in which I had worked, especially Syria where I put my heart and soul.

Every war, every massive act of violence, always makes me reflect anew on the origins and nature of human violence, and on its opposites, empathy, compassion, and love. We humans have made so many efforts through the millennia to create one political arrangement after another in …

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(This article was written in collaboration with Aziz Abu Sarah, Co-Executive Director of The Center for World Religions Diplomacy and Conflict Resolution.)

Ever since the disastrous split in Palestinian leadership of several years ago into Fatah and Hamas it has become clear that disunity has been a critical factor standing in the way of Palestinian statehood. Many reconciliation efforts, with several third parties, were attempted and aborted. This time it seems that things are different, despite the enormous ideological divisions and outstanding grievances between Fatah and Hamas.

Why is this happening now? Clearly, the historic impact of the “Arab Spring” on Egypt and Syria, and across the region, is an enormous game changer. The increasing instability of Syria suggests that there is a strong possibility that A) Hamas may no longer have a stable home in Syria, but, on the other hand, Palestinians now have a much more sympathetic …

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By Hind Aboud Kabawat (Senior Research Analyst and Expert in Conflict Resolution, CRDC, George Mason University).

Damascus, Syria

May 20, 2011

Can our beloved Syria be saved from the brink of destruction? This is clearly the question on the minds of millions of our fellow countrymen (and countrywomen). And it is truly astonishing how quickly events have transformed the so-called “facts on the ground” in this country. One of the most locked-down societies in the Middle East quite suddenly erupted in rage, anger and frustration after forty years of political repression and economic stagnation. Just think of it: the first demonstration was on March 15, just a mere two months ago. But so much has changed in the minds, hearts and aspirations of the Syrian people that it is impossible to think that we can ever return to the status quo ante—the Syria of March 14th.

What the …

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Reflecting on 2010, it’s clear that racism in Israel has reared its ugly head. A recent poll published by the Israel Democracy Institute found that only 51 percent of Israelis support equal rights between Jews and Arabs, while 53 percent think the state should encourage Arabs to emigrate from the country. Thepoll also established that Jewish Israelis find the idea of living next to an Arab more troubling than any other minority, and that in the event of war, 33 percent of Israelis support the idea of putting Arabs into internment camps.

In the last few months, these findings were given concrete expression in a number of incidents. These include:

A religious ruling signed and endorsed by 50 state-appointed rabbis forbidding Jews from renting or selling apartments to non-Jews. “Racism originated in the Torah,” said Rabbi Yosef Scheinen, head of the Yeshiva in Ashdod and one of the endorsers …

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Jeffrey Goldberg writes a simple and devastating piece on Imam Rauf. Here is the man vilified by the neoconservative and right wing mob in the United States.

You can read the full text of his remarks on the B’nai Jeshurun website, but here is an especially relevant portion:

We are here to assert the Islamic conviction of the moral equivalency of our Abrahamic faiths. If to be a Jew means to say with all one’s heart, mind and soul Shma` Yisrael, Adonai Elohenu Adonai Ahad; hear O Israel, the Lord our God, the Lord is One, not only today I am a Jew, I have always been one, Mr. Pearl.

If to be a Christian is to love the Lord our God with all of my heart, mind and soul, and to love for my fellow human being what I love for myself, then not only am I a

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This will be a long, hard fought battle that will leave Muslims quite weary, but it has been engaged before and successfully won. Just ask Catholics a hundred years ago, or Jews two hundred years ago. This will require persistence, coalition building, compromise, honesty, an evolution in communication skills, and patience above all. But I believe that history demonstrates that Americans of common sense generally win in the long run. I believe we are just witnessing the second wave of organized hatred that comes from political opportunists (who often wear religious garb). It will exhaust itself in embarrassment as it reaches absurd limits. Critics of Islam with legitimate gripes, such as Wafa Sultan, will begin to distance themselves from hatreds they did not intend to unleash, as everyone learns, in every generation unfortunately, that nothing good comes of hate, and the mob is not controllable.

While a high-profile battle rages

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