Posts made in May, 2016

United Methodists Answer: “What Does It Profit?”

Posted on May 26, 2016

gc2016-sidebar-logoby James M. Wall, Wallwritings

Sixty-two years after the U.S. Supreme Court banned racial segregation in U.S. public schools, the United Methodist Church ended its 2016 General Conference by voting 559-157 to continue investing its funds in U.S. corporations profiting from operations in illegal Israeli settlements in the Palestinian Territories.

This do-not-divest vote rejected an effort by some delegates to the UMC General Conference to halt all investments in three American corporations profiting from Israel’s immoral and illegal behavior.

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Pope Francis: In the face of Islamic terrorism, we should question ourselves about how Western democracy has been exported

Posted on May 26, 2016

In an interview with French Catholic newspaper “La Croix”, the Pope spoke again about the immigration phenomenon caused by the wars going on in the Middle East and Africa and by underdevelopment. He also talked about arms trafficking and integration. Regarding euthanasia and civil unions, he said that when the State approves a law, it must respect people’s consciences. Conscientious objection is a human right of public officials too.

French Catholic newspaper “La Croix” interviews Francis (Photo courtesy of La Croix- L’Osservatore Romano)

Andrea Tornielli

Vatican City, May 16,2016 – “In the face of Islamic terrorism, it would therefore be better to question ourselves about the way in which an overly Western model of democracy has been exported to countries such as Iraq”. Francis said this in an exclusive interview with French Catholic newspaper La Croix, in which he spoke about immigration, war and laicity.

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What Can the U.S. Learn from Radicalization in the French-Speaking World?

Posted on May 26, 2016

[Meserole’s[ running theory was that radicalization took advantage of two central French political ideas: “laïcité et liberté.” France and Belgium forced secularization on Muslims, but also gave them the freedom to organize against it.

A woman at a meeting of the Union of Islamic Organisations of France, northeast of Paris, in May. PHOTOGRAPH BY MARTIN BUREAU / AFP / GETTY

* by Benjamin Wallace-Wells, The New Yorker, May 18, 2016

Late last fall, just a few weeks before the coördinated attacks in Paris, a Brookings Institution researcher named Chris Meserole assembled all the data he could find about which countries ISIS fighters came from, and began to run programs looking for correlations. Much of the scholarship in the evolving field of terror analysis emphasized jihadists’ networks and their psychological profiles, but Meserole and his collaborator, Will McCants, were interested in a separate line of questions. What was the social position of Sunni Muslims in each country that sent jihadis to Syria, and did any aspects of that position seem to correspond with the number they sent? Meserole thought that some new analytics techniques could help cut through the data, and once he applied them he found several correlations. Two were not especially strong or surprising: countries where Sunni Muslims were densely concentrated in cities, and where they had especially high rates of youth unemployment, tended to produce more ISIS fighters. But the third was striking. The most powerful variable by far in predicting how many jihadis a country would produce was whether the people in that country spoke French.

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United Methodist General Conference Calls on Israel to End Unjust Practices Toward Palestinians

Posted on May 26, 2016

Despite fierce opposition, which included calls to delegates from Israeli ambassadors and consulates, the United Methodist General Conference passed strong measures calling for an end to Israel’s unjust practices toward Palestinians.

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Colonial Creations: Sykes-Picot and the making of the modern Middle East

Posted on May 26, 2016

Map of Sykes–Picot Agreement showing Eastern Turkey in Asia, Syria and Western Persia, and areas of control and influence agreed between the British and the French. Royal Geographical Society, 1910-15. (Photo via Wikimedia Commons)

by Elias D. Mallon

(America Magazine, the National Catholic Review) May 17, 2016 – The Sykes-Picot Agreement, one of the most fateful pacts in modern history, was signed 100 years ago on May 16, 1916. It is not an anniversary to be celebrated. An agreement made between Great Britain and France to divide up the Turkish Ottoman Empire after the end of the First World War, it was negotiated by the Englishman Mark Sykes (1879-1919) and the Frenchman François Georges-Picot (1870-1951).

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Peace for Israelis, Liberation for Palestinians: Bringing the New Jerusalem

Posted on May 25, 2016

Mark Braverman

by Mark Braverman, May 15, 2016

I was in Santa Cruz, CA to speak at a conference organized by Friends of Sabeel North America, an ecumenical organization devoted to bringing the voice of Palestinian Christians to the United States, and to mobilizing the church to work for the liberation of Palestinians and Jewish Israelis both from the evil of apartheid in our times.  See this article for the story surrounding that conference — not an uncommon one these days, but the good news is that times are changing as the controversy heats up.

I was asked to stay on an extra day to preach at a local Presbyterian church.  Yes, I’m Jewish but so far the invitations to speak at synagogues have not been forthcoming, much less preach from the pulpit.  But since my return from Israel and the West Bank in 2006 and what has become, apparently, my ministry to help Christians take a faithful stand for human rights on this issue, despite the very real risk (well, really the inevitability) of being charged with committing or supporting anti-Semitism, the invitations to preach on Sundays have continued to come.  See my website for a selection of sermons. Of all my writing, I think these have given me the most pleasure.  I may have been exiled from the synagogue, but not from my love of scripture and my penchant for homiletics.

In this case, even though the pastor was very willing for me to preach, several people in the Session blocked this, saying that my voice would be too “political” and the topic too “controversial.”  As a compromise I was invited to present a “Moment for Mission.”

So I preached.

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Pope Francis launches “Garden of Mercy” to help the poor and refugees in Jordan

Posted on May 24, 2016

( May 10, 2016 – The Apostolic Nunciature of the Holy See in Amman, in cooperation with Caritas Jordan–the social arm of the Catholic Church– and the Latin Vicariate in Amman, intends to launch a new garden offered by His Holiness Pope Francis personally. The new garden, to be located at the Our Lady of Peace Center in Amman, will be named “the Garden of Mercy”. The Garden of Mercy is designed to restore dignity to the forcibly displaced Iraqis who live in Jordan and to provide aid to needy families.

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Syrian crisis poses challenges in Palestinian refugee camps

Posted on May 24, 2016

Dr Farah Atallah, Virgine Nasrawi and Fares Swais. (Photo: WCC)

*By Claus Grue

(World Council of Churches) May 18, 2016 – During the 29 years Virgine Nasrawi has worked in the Talbiah refugee camp, located 40 kilometers south of Amman, the Jordanian capital, she has witnessed many changes.

And the sudden influx of refugees from neighbouring Syria, caused by the devastating civil war in that country, is the most dramatic.

Talbiah is a small camp by current standards, housing 8,000 Palestinians and 3,000 Syrians.

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French Prime Minister Valls Meets Patriarch Twal

Posted on May 23, 2016

French Prime Minister Manuel Valls meets Patriarch Fouad Twal (Photo : © LPJ / Thomas Charrière)

by Myriam Ambroselli, Latin Patriarchate of Jerusalem

JERUSALEM – On Monday, May 23, 2016, the Prime Minister of France, Mr. Manuel Valls, currently visiting in Israel and Palestine, came with his delegation to the Latin Patriarchate of Jerusalem, to speak with the Patriarch Fouad Twal about the French initiative, which would relaunch the Israeli-Palestinian peace process.

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Lebanon Shows Christians and Muslims Can Live Together in Peace in the Middle East

Posted on May 23, 2016

Syrian refugee children stand outside their school in Zahle, Lebanon, in the country’s Bekaa Valley April 12. The international Catholic charity Caritas has been instrumental in helping Syrian refugees attend Lebanese public schools to continue their education. (CNS photo/Dale Gavlak)

by Gerard O’Connell

(America Magazine, the National Catholic Review) May 5, 2016 – “It has been an explosive situation in the Lebanon for the past four years. But I’m amazed that while Lebanon is on the brink of an explosion the miracle is that there is no explosion,” Michael Zammit, S.J., Jesuit Refugee Service regional director for the Mideast and North Africa, told me in Beirut last week.

His words reflect the fact that the land of the cedars, after experiencing a 16-year civil war (1975-92), finds itself today in the midst of a geopolitical conflict, which is being fought with particular ferocity in neighboring Syria but also by proxy in Yemen. But the fact is the Sunni-Shiite conflict has not spilled over to Lebanon in any significant way so far; the local political forces have not wanted this to happen.

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