Global Peace Meditation – An invitation

Having received the following invitation, I ‘amplify’ it further and invite you to join in…

“Women in Black Edmonton (Canada) invite our Sisters around the Globe to amplify our messages and efforts through a Unified Peace Meditation celebrating the March 2014 Equinox. Please consider joining us to anchor the imperative of Peace, Justice and Non-Violence in this focused, Global meditation on (or close to)

March 22nd, 2014 – 10 a.m. to 11 a.m. MST.

If you decide to join us, in any way that you chose to participate, please send a message to the following address so that we can extend our thoughts and embrace your presence: wyrostok@gmail.com

Please pass this invitation along to any other Peace groups or individuals whom you believe may wish to join this Global event.”

For more information about the Women in Black movement, click here, here, and here.

Radio interview between citizens regarding Canadian and Israeli government relationships

Other views of the Israeli government’s occupation of Palestine exist… other views than Prime Minister Harper’s perspective. Here is a link (click here) to a radio interview from 15 Jan. 2014 with Tyler Levitan of Independent Jewish Voices-Canada / Voix juives indépendantes-Canada (Campaigns Coordinator) (here). The interview was conducted by TLV1 which is “an English-language internet radio broadcasting from the heart of Israel – Tel Aviv. Founded in 2013, TLV1 seeks to provide listeners with a fresh and novel perspective on the daily agenda in Israel and its neighbors, and keeps its finger on the beating pulse of Tel Aviv – the cultural barometer of the Middle East. / TLV1 is a trailblazing radio station, combining cutting-edge technology with the highest professional standards. It holds no political agenda and does not tolerate propaganda” (see more here).

When going to the TLV1 link (here), look for and click on ‘New Canadian ambassador to Israel raises controversy’.

 

Ambassador Bercovici – Did you travel freely?

Dear Ambassador Bercovici,

I understand that you have been part of Prime Minister Stephen Harper’s official delegation or small circle of 29 people (all travel expenses paid) in his recent trip to Israel and Palestine (click here). As I look at the list of five groups of people in the larger delegation of 208 people, a recent book, The Armaggedon Factor: The Rise of Christian Nationalism in Canada by Marci McDonald, comes to mind. Have you read it? Some of the people on your trip are the type that McDonald discusses in her book. From this Globe & Mail article, the authors note: “Several of the delegates are representatives from evangelical Christian organizations, including the Christian & Missionary Alliance in Canada, of which Mr. Harper has said he is a member.” The authors also note: “Rev. Bruce Gregersen, a senior adviser on theology for the United Church of Canada who did not participate in the delegation, said it makes sense for the Prime Minister to include a large number of faith-based organizations because faith and politics are closely linked in the region. / But Mr. Gregersen, who has worked on Middle East issues for the United Church, said he was surprised that a broader range of Christian faiths were not included, given that a number of Orthodox, Anglican and Catholic churches have stronger historical connections with Palestinian Christians.”

What ties this delegation together? John Bell notes (here) that Canadian media have noticed the delegation’s size and “questioned the wisdom and motivation of this ample devotion to Israel. Is it calculated interest or a moral drive? Some point out that Harper has much to lose by this stance. The parliamentary electoral gains among the Jewish community, although key to three seats in Toronto, are small in comparison to losses among the Muslim community. Certainly, in Europe, where I live, people are baffled by Canada’s zealous support for Israel” (here).

I am curious, too, about the shift in recent years of Canadian foreign policy to support the Israeli government . How would you respond to these questions (here) prepared by the United Network for a Just Peace in Palestine and Israel (UNJPPI)?

How was your travel? Did you move freely? Did you travel to Ramallah in the occupied West Bank with the Prime Minister? Did you travel by road and go through Qalandiya check point (here)? Or, did you fly? Here is a video (here) created by Neta Efrony, a filmmaker and a member of Machsom Watch (Hebrew for Checkpoints Watch; here). She is an Israeli citizen who objects to the Israeli government’s denial of the freedom of movement of Palestinians (for example, at Qalandiya or Kalandia check point). She asks: Where has compassion gone?

Wondering,

Sherry Ann

A choice: Human security – Dear Ambassador Bercovici…

Have you heard that we have a new Canadian ambassador to Israel? Her name is Vivian Bercovici (more info here). Have you read about some of the concerns about her appointment (for example, click here)? That she is a “staunch supporter of Israel” (click here) and its security policies? Perhaps, Prime Minister Harper and our federal government have made a choice that will serve their interests in support of the government of Israel. I am concerned by this choice. And so, I write to Ms. Bercovici…

“Dear Ambassador Bercovici,

Thank you for your willingness to represent Canada in Israel. Your position has immense responsibility. In your representation of us all, as Canadians, please…please look past the rhetoric of state-oriented definitions of security. Please go to Israeli-occupied East Jerusalem and touch that Wall. The Israeli government describes it as a Security Wall (more info). But, the only thing that wall does is separate people. It keeps people apart. It is an apartness wall – an apartheid wall.Israeli Separation Wall dividing East Jerusalem

Israeli Separation Wall dividing East Jerusalem – 10 Dec. 2010 – Photo: Sherry Ann

Please listen to the conversations nearby, for example, those at the Qalandiya Checkpoint where Palestinians are stopped in their tracks. Listen to the questions: What is happening with Canadian foreign policy that it increasingly supports Israeli government interests? Please accept invitations to walk through Qalandiya Checkpoint, rather than be driven in a darkly tinted and ‘secure’ vehicle…

Qalandiya Checkpoint - 10 Feb. 2011 - Photo: Sherry Ann

Qalandiya Checkpoint – 10 Feb. 2011 – Photo: Sherry Ann

In such situations, I hope that you will perceive a choice…to support “human security which exists when people are safe from direct and structural forms of violence [click here] and are able to meet their basic needs and rights. Human security advocates seek to replace or broaden traditional state-based definitions of security that focus on protecting territory or national interests. Human security aims to reduce the threats of disease, poverty, crime, and other factors that lessen the quality of life” (Schirch, 2004, p. 17).

Last year, as you commented on the Israeli government elections, you wrote: “So in the end, it really doesn’t matter to them [the Palestinian Authority] who wins and leads in Israel. There is no willing negotiator on the Palestinian side” (click here). I disagree with your observation, because I know that many Palestinians do wish to co-create a just peace. Jean Zaru who is Palestinian and a Quaker has written: “Both Israelis and Palestinians live in fear. Neither Israelis nor Palestinians have peace. Both Israelis and Palestinians yearn for security. Others cannot give us freedom, peace, and security. No government, no army, no wall no matter how long or high will provide for us what can only be supplied by the cultivation of mutuality and trust” (Zaru, 2008, p. 129).

As a Canadian, I ask that you represent me in a way that seeks dialogue with not only Israelis but also Palestinians – both of whom include people who are working hard toward human security and ending the Israeli government’s occupation of Palestine. When next you board a plane for Palestine-Israel, please pack two slim volumes in your carry-on bag for reading on your journey:

Jean Zaru’s (2008) Occupied with Nonviolence: A Palestinian Woman Speaks, and

Lisa Schirch’s (2004)  The Little Book of Strategic Peacebuilding: A vision and framework for peace with justice.

Thank you,

Sherry Ann”

Standing together – Practising “Active Hope” in Palestine/Israel and where you live

I invite you to read a recent posting by Aaron, an Ecumenical Accompanier with the newly formed Ar-Ram team, located in the north part of occupied East Jerusalem near the location of the Israeli government’s Separation Wall. Click here.

Aaron describes a situation that might seem hopeless: the proposed expansion of an Israeli national park with disregard for the Palestinians who actually live in occupied Nabi Samwil. I had the privilege of visiting this village on 1 March 2011. Please see my posting for additional information and photos (click here).

However, Aaron also describes what happened recently when about 50 people held a demonstration; villagers, Israeli peace activists, and international visitors stood together. Their solidarity surprised the Israeli armed police officers that arrived. When the demonstrators were told to move, the local organizer, Aeed Barakat, spoke for the group. He declared that, “This is our village. We won’t move.” After trying a few more times to disperse the group, the police left.

In keeping with Active Hope (click here), the demonstrators acted amidst a seemingly hopeless situation. As Joanna Macy and Chris Johnstone (2012) state, “Active Hope is a practice”. “The guiding impetus is intention; we choose what we aim to bring about, act for, or express. Rather than weighing our chances and proceeding only when we feel hopeful, we focus on our intention and let it be our guide.” (p. 3)

I invite you to share my blog posting and Aaron’s posting, far and wide. In 2014, we can choose to look at our realities, name our hopes, and then… act with intention.

Reference  Macy, Joanna, and Johnstone, Chris. (2012). Active hope: How to face the mess we’re in without going crazy. Novato, CA: New World Library.

Let’s be all that we can be… in 2014.

“It is never too late to be what you might have been.” George Eliot (the pen name for Mary Ann Evans, English author, 1819-1880)

I offer thanks to Bob Hetherington, who shared this quotation during a reflection at Southminster-Steinhauer United Church today (click here).

As we transition into new circles of time and place in 2014, I share the hope that I feel, as I sit by a warm fire in western Canada and listen to this tribute to the late Nelson Mandela by the Soweto Gospel Choir in a Woolworths Food store in South Africa (click here). Mandela touched us, on a global scale…

Imagine what would happen if each of us, with support from each other, were to be all that we have dreamed of being… in 2014.

Peace.