The Parliament Blog

Archive for the ‘Middle East’ tag

Michael Lerner: There Is a Nonviolent Alternative to War with Iran

by Rabbi Michael Lerner
from Huffington Post

President Obama is under immense pressure from Netanyahu and his allies in the U.S. Congress, AIPAC, Christian Zionists and Republican candidates for the presidency to give Netanyahu private assurances that if the U.S. strategy to stop Iran from developing the capacity (not the actuality) for nuclear weapons doesn’t work, the U.S. will back an Israeli first strike.

This is the moment for peace oriented voices to speak out and say no to an Israeli first strike with American overt or covert backing. We at Tikkun magazine and our Network of Spiritual Progressives have launched a national campaign to say no! We are attempting to buy space in major newspapers and electronic media on the web to launch this campaign quickly before Obama and Netanyahu meet next week. Please get involved here.

There is a non-violent way to deal with all this. The background info:

Apparently the U.S. and Israel are debating the best method for coercing Iran to stop developing the capacity for nuclear weapons. Israel believes that goal requires a military strike; the U.S. talks of “crippling” economic boycotts. Other military and strategic experts have argued that neither path is likely to succeed in the long run as long as Iran finds itself in a world in which nearby China, Russia, India, Pakistan and Israel all have powerful nuclear military capacities. And with Iran certain to face nuclear obliteration should it use its nukes in a first strike against Israel or anyone else, it is more likely that continuing extremes of poverty, oppression from Western supported elites, and social injustice, rather than the threat of Iranian nukes, will continue to be the primary destabilizing factor among the tens of millions of Middle East Muslims in the coming decades.

Imagine instead if the U.S. were to announce our new non-violent path to homeland security: a strategy of generosity, acknowledging the pain and distortion hundreds of years of Western colonialism has brought to the region, particularly to the Palestinian people, and simultaneously launching a Global Marshall Plan (already introduced to Congress by Hon. Keith Ellison as House Res. 157) aimed at ending poverty, homelessness, hunger, inadequate education and inadequate healthcare both at home and around the world. Dedicating 1-2% of our gross domestic product each year for the next twenty (to be collected not through taxes on ordinary citizens but a 1% Tobin tax on all international transactions of one million dollars or more).

Click here to read the full article.

Sowing Seeds of Peace from Virginia to Iraq

By Rev. Wayne Lavender
From Common Ground News Service

Soon after the tragic attacks on 11 September 2001, I left the church where I had been serving as the senior pastor for 12 years, sensing a call to work for peace and justice. I travelled up and down the east coast of the United States to speak about peace, reconciliation, conflict resolution and mediation wherever I could find an audience – churches, synagogues, civic organisations, schools and clubs.

I saw the 9/11 attacks as crimes against humanity committed by a small group of politically motivated individuals who were using religion as the means to justify their actions. I sought to offer and advocate for a different response from the United States than an escalation of violence – a response more true to the predominantly peaceful texts of the Abrahamic religions. I helped create coalitions of Jewish, Christian and Muslim clerics who were opposed to the war policies being pursued by the United States and who would use their authority to promote peace.

Inevitably, in every location where I spoke, an audience member would stand up and mock my words. The anger some Americans felt towards Muslims at the time was intense. Unfortunately, they were convinced Islam was a religion filled with hatred and violence. The terrorist attacks had shocked, saddened and scared me as well – but I was convinced there was a better way to move forward than declaring war.

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Obama’s Middle East Speech: Religious Leaders Respond

by Jaweed Kaleem
from HuffingtonPost

Religious leaders are responding to President Barack Obama’s ‬much-anticipated speech on the Middle East, in which the president said that “all faiths must be respected” and suggested “bridges be built among them.‬”

Much of the sweeping speech addressed political and economic issues in light of recent democratic movements in the majority-Muslim region. Obama promised U.S. support for democracy, human rights and a two-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

But Obama, who famously addressed the Muslim world from Cairo University in two years ago in a speech focused on Islam, also discussed religion several times in Thursday’s comments.

“We support a set of universal rights. Those rights include free speech; the freedom of peaceful assembly; freedom of religion; equality for men and women under the rule of law; and the right to choose your own leaders — whether you live in Baghdad or Damascus; Sanaa or Tehran,” Obama said in the hour-long speech.

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With Love From the Middle East: Meet the Women Building Peace

Let's Talk: Global Room for WomenGlobal Room for Women is a global community of women who dialogue, listen, discover and engage together. In our program, you decide what is right for you.  You choose your own experience.

In a warm and inviting space of live teleconferences, you will come to know women personally from around the world — mostly remarkable women from developing countries.  We begin each call by listening to one woman’s story. Our featured guests live in Afghanistan, Nicaragua, South Africa, and beyond.

But that’s only half the story. You are invited to share your own voice, talk with our global guest, and have your own conversations with other amazing women in the audience from around North America. If you like, come and just listen!

The Middle East feminist revolution

From Al-Jazeera English

Among the most prevalent Western stereotypes about Muslim countries are those concerning Muslim women: doe-eyed, veiled, and submissive, exotically silent, gauzy inhabitants of imagined harems, closeted behind rigid gender roles. So where were these women in Tunisia and Egypt?

In both countries, women protesters were nothing like the Western stereotype: they were front and centre, in news clips and on Facebook forums, and even in the leadership. In Egypt’s Tahrir Square, women volunteers, some accompanied by children, worked steadily to support the protests – helping with security, communications, and shelter. Many commentators credited the great numbers of women and children with the remarkable overall peacefulness of the protesters in the face of grave provocations.

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The Fallacy of the ‘Clash of Civilizations

From The Huffington Post

As analysts ponder and proffer views on the real and potential impact from revolutionary tsunami in Egypt, it is essential that we in the U.S. also learn valuable lessons presented by this teachable moment. One such lesson is the fallacy of the “clash of civilizations” theory.

For two decades politicians, pundits, preachers, and some scholars have explained the tumultuous international conflict as evidence of a “clash of civilizations.” We have heard this mantra so many times that many people assume it somehow describes the dynamic interaction between “the West” and the Middle East and Islamic cultures.

One of the most frequently asked questions since 9/11 — “Why do they hate us?” — has served to reinforce this simplistic and dangerously misleading framework for understanding.

Click here to read entire article.