Sunday, August 26, 2007
along the way
Yesterday, I had the opportunity to spend time with colleagues from Grace Cathedral at the Friends of Sabeel Regional Conference in Berkeley. What an amazing gathering of articulate voices for justice and peace in Palestine/Israel. The conference's theme "Breaking Down the Wall of Silence: Voices We Need to Hear" describes well what took place at St. John's Presbyterian Church. I was most grateful to hear Mubarak Awad, Palestinian founder of Nonviolence International, Cindy and Craig Corrie (parents of martyred peace activist Rachel Corrie, Huwaida Arraf, co-founder of the International Solidarity Movement, and Anna Baltzer, a Jewish American scholar and peace activist. I was pleasantly surprised to discover that someone I had been introduced to earlier this week at Martin de Porres House of Hospitality, Chris Brown, was among the panelists connecting the nonviolent movement for Palestine with the African American experience and the movement to end Apartheid in South Africa. This was a very moving and hopeful gathering that reminded us all how very important a just and peaceful resolution to Palestinian/Israeli situation is to the future of this planet. An author and scholar that I would highly recommend to anyone interested in learning more about what is happening and what can be done both locally and internationally is Stephen Zunes. I have been reading the excellent work of Professor Zunes since I was a student at Virginia Theological Seminary (on CommonDreams.org)--particularly regarding the build up to the war in Iraq. Zunes responded almost immediately and regularly to the numerous false and twisted assertions made by the Bush Administration regarding weapons of mass destruction. I was delighted to meet him at the conference yesterday, purchase his book "Tinderbox: U.S. Middle East Policy and the Roots of Terrorism" and learn that he is the son of an Episcopal priest.
Serendipitously, I have begun communicating via social networking sites and web chat with Palestinian friends made many years ago while attending a youth course at St. George's College in Jerusalem. My prayer is that these newly developing and rekindled connections will help stimulate action both personal and collective for peace. Recalling the words of Nelson Mandela, "education is the most powerful weapon which you can use to change the world," may we each seek to educate ourselves and our communities about what is happening around the world and consider how we might help bring real progressive change for all.
To learn more about Sabeel, an ecumenical liberation theology center in Jerusalem please click here. Sabeel is an Arabic word for way, spring, or channel.
The photos and the graphic below are from Jewish American scholar and activist Anna Baltzer's website.