Sunday, February 24, 2013

Peace in Palestine - Obama to Israel March 2013

Peace must come in many places in the world.  

Indeed, our hope is for peace in all the world.

Rev. Stephen Sizer, who advocates for issues of peace in Israel & Palestine has shared this letter from a prominent Christian in Palestine - calling for U.S. President Barack Obama to help reshape peace in Palestine.

President Obama will be visiting Israel and Palestine in March 2013.

I call on you to write to Obama and tell him that if he is coming to engage Israelis and Palestinians in talks that will lead to a just peace, he is then welcome. Otherwise tell Obama to stay home.

Tell Obama that the world will be watching his upcoming visit and people all over our planet will look to his visit with hope and expectation. Tell him not to disappoint humanity by carrying on U.S. politics in the Middle East as usual.

Tell Obama when he visits us here to stand by the values that he reiterates in almost every speech: freedom, independence, equality, and justice for all.

Tell Obama that if his coming to Israel and Palestine is going to be another American political circus to keep the media busy, or please a certain interest group in the U.S., that he need not come this way. No one here is dying to see him, but many have died and will continue to die if the U.S. continues with its failed policies in the Middle East.

Tell Obama to have his eyes open to see what is happening on the ground rather than offer his ears to  politicians that have perfected the art of deception. Tell him to see the expanding illegal Israeli settlements in the West Bank. Tell him to take a look at the separation wall that is not only dividing Israelis from Palestinians but also dividing Palestinians from Palestinians and their land. Tell him to visit an Israeli settlement in the West Bank and a Palestinian refugee camp. Tell him to walk through one of the Israeli checkpoints.

Tell Obama that he will be coming to visit the Holy Land at a time when Christians are celebrating the passion of Christ and his resurrection. Tell him to let Christ be his example in being courageous and not yielding to political pressures. Have him remember that Jesus bravely gave his life to make peace rather than succumb to political expediency.

Tell Obama to have courage, because most Israelis and Palestinians desire peace and that only the radicals, the racists, the greedy individuals, and those who promote apartheid and segregation will be disappointed if he commits to the cause of peace.

Tell Obama that repeated visits have taken place by American Presidents that did nothing to ease the pain of the Palestinian people. The Palestinians today hope that this upcoming visit will be different than all other visits; it can be the one that will change the course of history in the Middle East. 

Reverend Alex Awad
Pastor East Jerusalem Baptist Church
Dean of Students at Bethlehem Bible College
Toward eupan ~
~ marty alan michelson, ph.d.

Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Leaders to war, followers to peace.

I know very little about the Iranian cartoonist who created this image. The image has captured my thoughts.

"Leaders to war, followers to peace"  by Mana Neyestani

As presented by the cartoonist, the flags represent Israel and Iran.  I post the cartoon here, though, not as a political commentary on either nation.  I think we could place the flag of many separate nations on the podiums and the cartoon would still work!  That fact intrigues me.

The speakers at each podium are images of each other - truly undifferentiated.  They are the same person - despite the flag on their podium - lambasting the same words, though no words appear in their respective speech-balloons!  Their words do not matter - only the "shape" of their speech is important - "bombs" of impending destruction.  

We can not see the face of those who exchange flowers - only that they reach out, hidden from view - trying to reach the other.  Their hands do not reach, though - the podiums are too far apart to allow for their exchange,  despite their attempt.

I wonder if the title shouldn't be different, though.

"Leaders rhetoric of destruction, citizens blossoming exchange"  is one of many titles I considered.  

The image is not perfect - and the title - including my own - is not precise.

And yet, the image evokes my reflection - and I hope our reflection.

What if we took the time to consider the bombastic rhetoric of war mirrored in a few leaders as the minor voice that is challenged by the gift-exchanging hopes of the many citizens?

What if the voices of the many hoping for peace would proclaim softly, but decisively, their words of peace - enough to drown out the few who call for violence?

Toward eupan ~

~ marty alan michelson, ph.d.


Thursday, February 14, 2013

Valentine's Day is for Peacemakers!

It's too bad we've trivialized "Valentine" to baby-faced-winged-cherubs of myth - when a factual human of history is at the heart of today's historical core.

The real historic person, the Saint - of St. Valentine's day -  lived as a peacemaker, embodying love for others demonstrated in allegiance with his Christian piety & care.  The Saint lived to embody relational, reciprocal love between humans that stood in opposition to warfare, violence, enemies, empires or allegiance to nationalistic overlords.
"Not much is known about St. Valentine. He lived in the third century, was a priest in Rome, and was martyred in the final years of the Emperor Claudius II’s reign. Stories about Valentine have him ministering in various ways to persecuted Christians. But the story that best expresses what the saint stands for has it that he secretly married dozens of young Christian couples during a time when Claudius had forbidden male youths from marrying because he wanted them as unencumbered soldiers for his legions. Valentine was discovered officiating at one such wedding and was hauled in chains before Claudius. Once there, he tried to convert the emperor. Enraged at the priest’s presumption, Claudius had him beaten nearly to death and then beheaded."  

From:  a wonderful new book by Kerry Walters and Robin Jarrell—Blessed Peacemakers: 365 Extraordinary People Who Changed the World.

Today - let's celebrate a Peacemaker who valued love for others.  St. Valentine was willing to die for his commitment to love as testimony to how he understood God's love for the world.
 "St. Valentine’s feast day has fallen on hard times. It’s become an annual occasion marked by mawkish verse, images of fat cupids shooting arrows into hearts, and binge spending (in 2011, U.S. consumers blew nearly $16 billion on Valentine cards, candy, flowers, and jewels). Even the Roman Catholic Church contributed to the day’s decline by taking if off the General Roman Calendar in 1969. But despite all the marketing hoopla that’s almost swallowed up the day, peacemakers ought to remember it, because at its best it’s a commemoration of the nonviolent power of love."  (Same source as above.)

Saint Valentine valued human-reciprocal love more than earthly allegiance to warfare and violence, the militarism of his day.

Toward eupan ~

~ marty alan michelson, ph.d.

Tuesday, February 12, 2013

Religious Identity Shapes Social & Political Engagement

The Eupan Global Initiative is not a theological community.  And yet, many who participate bring religious perspectives to the work of extending the good for the all.  I, Marty Michelson, certainly embrace Biblical and Justice and Jesus and Peacemaking perspectives in my shared advocacy toward eupan!

Religious identity shapes social and political perspectives.

I comment on this as I share an article that presents an interview with Megan Phelps-Roper - a family member of Fred Phelps and his particular vision/version of belief embodied in the sadly famous, Westboro Baptist Church.  

Megan was raised with a vision/version of Christian religion that was intolerant, legalistic and hate-filled.  She had to come to discern that and reject it - as she explores what it means to "treat people right."  She wants to emerge from her current journey "with a better understanding of the world and how I fit into it,and how I can be an influence for good.” 

I hope we can all come to better understanding - working to influence good.

Toward eupan ~

~ marty alan michelson, ph.d.