Wednesday, March 22, 2017

Our Tears Are the Same

Over many years, the stories of these families (Bereaved Families Forum) have so powerfully connected women, men and children who've lost dear ones to violence, occupation and terror.  On my last trip to Jerusalem, Bassam Aramim and Rami Elhanan spoke of immeasurable loss (both have lost daughters), and insisted that only freedom, only reconciliation, only shared public life makes sense now.  What might it mean for us--all of us, here, there--to break down the walls that divide us?

Tuesday, March 21, 2017

What is Sanctuary? (Chapter 2)

The Question of Apartheid

Sadly, the UN has been pressured to withdraw its excellent report on "Israeli Practices Towards the Palestinian People and the Question of Apartheid."  In the process, a decent woman and diplomat has lost her job--due to pressure from Israel and U.S. allies.  It's a remarkably well-written document, which you can read here, and includes this preface:
"The authors reject the accusation of anti-Semitism in the strongest terms.  First, the question of whether the State of Israel is constituted as an apartheid regime springs from the same body of international human rights law and principles that rejects anti-Semitism: that is, the prohibition of racial discrimination.  No State is immune from the norms and rules enshrined in the International Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination, which must be applied impartially.  The prohibition of apartheid, which, as a crime against humanity can admit no exceptions, flows from the Convention.  Strengthening that body of international law can only benefit all groups that have historically endured discrimination, domination and persecution, including Jews.

"Secondly, the situation in Israel-Palestine constitutes an unmet obligation of the organized international community to resolve a conflict partially generated by its own actions.  That obligation dates formally to 1922, when the League of Nations established the British Mandate for Palestine as a territory eminently ready for independence as an inclusive secular State, yet incorporated into the Mandate the core pledge of the Balfour Declaration to support the 'Jewish people' in their efforts to establish in Palestine a 'Jewish national home.'  Later United Nations Security Council and General Assembly resolutions attempted to resolve the conflict generated by that arrangement, yet could not prevent related proposals, such as partition, from being overtaken by events on the ground.  If this attention to the case of Israel by the United Nations appears exception, therefore, it is only because no comparable linkage between United Nations actions and any other prolonged denial to a people of their right to self-determination.

"Thirdly, the policies, practices and measures applied by Israel to enforce a system of racial discrimination threaten regional peace and security.  United Nations resolutions have long recognized that danger and called for resolution of the conflict so as to restore and maintain peace and stability in the region."

See the full report here.


What is Sanctuary?

Monday, March 20, 2017

Lent 5 (A Poem)

An Occasional Poem for Lent

In the sanctuary of your heart, 
Prepare an altar of tears,
Shed for barefoot children 
Trapped in burning Syrian cities,
Regrets from other lifetimes and
Graces unrecognized, love unnoticed.

In the sanctuary of your heart,
Burn incense, sweet flames of gratitude,
Licking at a crimson sunset years ago,
A night in the hills beneath holy stars,
A voice, a mentor, a warm heart,
Now departed but not too distant. 

In the sanctuary of your heart,
Close the eyes of your soul
To see what is needed, truly needed,
And then what is wanted, wanted,
Wanted to fit in or keep up or
Just distract the heart from sadness.

In the sanctuary of your heart,
Taste the bread broken, the needed thing,
And open the hands of your spirit
To the hands of all the others
Hungry for the One who is broken
And barefoot, and hold them close.


Sunday, March 19, 2017

Free Issa Amro

Saturday, March 18, 2017

Atalya Ben-Abba - I Refuse

West Cliff Saturday

He plays "Amazing Grace" to the seas.

What They Want

Lent 4 (A Poem)

"Early Morning Fog"
After Matthew 6:25-34

So don't worry about Trump and his tiresome tweets.
Don't worry about Kellyanne, the Kochs or the North Koreans.
These things are like early morning fog, thick and deceiving.
These things are like a tempter's tests, a shell game
While a thief slides in from behind and takes what's precious.
The fog burns off by midday, you know this, so don't be fooled.

The pelican, the pelican, the pelican riding on the spring breeze!
Watch the pelican, how she rides the wind, accompanied
By her mates, surrounded by a formation in flight, this is faith.
She finds all she needs in the seas, on the calloused cliffs,
Without any care for investments and higher education,
Without any thought of growing old or getting sick.

So seek first, seek in everything the formation in flight,
The beloved community of souls, the kingdom of God.
Strive every day for the circle that turns on friendship,
For the just arrangement of the feast on your tables,
And for peace, for holy, generous peace, among enemies.

Seek first the kin-dom, and all the other things shall
Be provided in good time, in proper measure,
By the kin in your kin-dom, by the beloved in your community,
By the strange and unexpected family you draw to your side
When you seek first the kingdom of God.