Reflections on recent events
Originally posted here on Oct. 19, 2015.
I am starting to see very clearly that there are those people who have the moral and emotional intelligence to understand two sides of a conflict, two enemies at once, and there are those who need to demonize someone in every situation. There are those who can empathize with their own community and with another, and there are those who at every turn look to demonize one group and whitewash their own. These are two camps of humanity, one with an evolved mind, and one with a primitive mind. Educational levels and graduate degrees having nothing to do with these two camps.
I am horrified by the mob mentality, I am saddened by many people I have helped and defended, not from my own community, who the first chance they get, join virtual lynch mobs.
The fact is that it is easy to …
Forgiveness as a rational necessity: My outsider’s take on Easter
As we end this Passover/Easter time, I am struck and impressed by the emphasis Christian friends have placed on their tradition’s understanding of Jesus having said, “Forgive them, Father, for they know not what they do.” Frankly, that resonates with me for two reasons. One, it is good science. Everything we know today about groupthink, war crimes, the authoritarian personality, the origins of genocide and state crimes says to me that most people don’t know what the hell they are doing as citizens, and they end up hurting a lot of people without even knowing it. I am astonished at the collective narcissistic personality disorder of most enemy groups I work with, deeply obsessed with the pain of those they love, and clueless about the rest. So those words resonate: we have to forgive ourselves because we are pretty stupid when it comes to the big crimes we have all …
Syria’s Christian Conundrum
by Hind Kabawat, CRDC Senior Research Analyst and Expert on Conflict Resolution
This article was originally published by CNN here.
One of the most perplexing aspects of the Syrian revolution is the deep ambivalence felt by so many of the country’s Christians when faced with the prospect of freedom after four decades of authoritarian dictatorship. Some Christians have enthusiastically embraced the prospect of democratic change and a more open civil society, but many have not.
As a Christian, this provokes a great deal of sadness in me and others who are committed to transforming Syria into an open, democratic, inclusive, secular and religiously tolerant society. But the problem is that many, if not most, Christians in Syria do not believe that this will be the outcome of changing the regime.
On the contrary, they believe the present regime — corrupt and repressive as it has been — is the …
Price tag attack on J’lem church provokes religious condemnation
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….
Clashes in Cairo Leave 12 Dead and Two Churches in Flames – NYTimes.com
Notice the pattern of conflict escalation, the role of religion, the focus on sexuality, women and the boundaries of group power, all focused on women, and all rather removed from any real spiritual matters. This is a classic example of religious rioting.
Like many recent episodes of Muslim-Christian violence here, the strife began over rumors of an interfaith marriage. Muslims in the neighborhood said a former Christian had left the church and married a Muslim. They said they had heard that she had been abducted and detained inside the church of St. Minas against her will, reflecting a pattern of accusations that has recurred in several recent episodes of sectarian conflict.
Christians in the neighborhood said that the story was a fiction, that there was no such woman in the church.
Both Muslims and Christians involved in the fighting said that early Saturday evening a relatively small group of Muslims
Reading from the books that some would burn | The Shalom Center
Hello friends, I want to join Rabbi Arthur Waskow in calling on everyone to read from the Koran on September 11 as an act of solidarity with the Muslim community of the United States as they suffer the insult of the terrible act being committed on that day in Gainesville, Florida.
The best way to resist hatred is with love, humiliation with respect, ignorance with knowledge, alienation with friendship.
Reading from the books that some would burnBy Rabbi Arthur Waskow | 8/31/2010 Devoting Jewish Holidays to Peace Interreligious Relations Rosh HaShanah Yom KippurClick here to see a listing of all recent blog postsIn New York, speaking out for freedom and diversity might mean joining a vigil at 7:15 pm Friday evening September 10 at 51 Park Place [near the Park Place stop of the #2 or #3 subway], the location of the Muslim-rooted community/ cultural center that has been the
U.S. was born a Christian nation – CNN.com
Lest anyone doubt the direction and agenda of the Christian right, here is a clear statement of approval of John Jay that only Christians should rule the United States. So how could Jews with any sense of their own safety and security promote this extremism, welcome Christian extremists to Israel and take their funds for the settlements? Because the Israelis who take the money and support put their interests above those of American Jews, they don’t think American Jews should be living in America anyway they should be in Israel, they calculate that the threat against them from Palestinians, Arabs, Muslims is more immediate than the the chance that radical Christians could one day take over the American government.
Of course, this entire way of thinking is very misguided. It never pays to think this selfishly, it always comes back on your head. Better to think in terms of justice …
ON THE SHEIKH HASSOUN AND JOHN PAUL, BY HUDA ORFALI and PETER PATON
This expresses some of my feelings since returning from Syria. More poems by Huda can be found here.
by Huda Orfali
Friday, September 15, 2006
Dedicated to His Holiness Pope John Paul II and the Grand mufti of Syria Sheikh Ahmad Hasoun
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
Detroit Muslims join Jewish group for Mitzvah Day Helping the Poor
Stories of cooperation and affection have been suppressed by two groups, those whose interests lay in weaponizing religion for nationalist purposes, and enlightenment liberals who wanted to establish society on a secular basis jettisoning the usefulness of clerics as weavers of civil society. But the fact is that along with the harm done by benighted clerics and hierarchies there were also moments of beauty in history that have yet to be extensively documented.
This story below is typical of many today that suggest a new era of global civil society has arrived when Jews and Muslims team up to help Christians on Christmas. But it is not as new as some might imagine. Tales of cooperation, mutual study and reverence, abound in anecdotes passed down from history that our age of militancy has tended to suppress. For a variety of reasons most of us around the globe are trying to …
After 40 Years of Wilderness, J Street Meets at the River’s Edge: Pro-Peace, Pro-Israel
After 40 Years of Wilderness, J Street Meets at the River’s Edge: Pro-Peace, Pro-Israel
By Rabbi Arthur Waskow
Tonight and for the next few days, in Washington DC, 1200 people are gathering in the name of a “pro-Israel, pro-peace” US policy. Because of my broken leg, I can’t be physically there. But my mind and spirit and 40 years of my work are there today.
Forty years ago, in the summer of 1969, I visited Israel for the first time. On the same trip, guided by a brilliant Israeli kibbutznik-sociologist, Dan Leon, I also visited Palestinian leaders in Hebron, East Jerusalem, and Gaza — old-fashioned notables, social workers, lawyers.
To a person, they told me they had marched and spoken out against occupation by Jordan or Egypt, and would oppose occupation by Israel. They said they had no objection to Israel as it had been before the 1967 war.