Sunday, 15 November 2015

Let Justice and Peace Kiss

It has been difficult to know what to write today, but I came across these words by Rabbi Arthur Waskow from "The Shalom Centre" which I think are worth reading on on the recent attacks in Paris. He writes:

“We must mourn the dead of Paris.”

“We must affirm and join the overwhelming majority of the Muslim world in utterly condemning these atrocities. Below you will also see statements issued by the President of Iran and by the US Council of Muslim Organizations (USCMO), a coalition of leading national and local Muslim organizations.”

”And we must also, as quickly as possible, assess what to do now to prevent such atrocities.”

“In that assessment, we must take into account what terrible mistakes our government and people have made in the past that served to sprout the seeds of terror that already existed in the Muslim world -- as in other worlds, including some hyper-nationalist and hyper-racist Americans.”

He notes two factors that led to the rise of ISIS.

One was the effects of climate change, as reported by the New York Times this year. It noted this:

“Drawing one of the strongest links yet between global warming and human conflict, researchers said that an extreme drought in Syria between 2006 and 2009 was most likely due to climate change, and that the drought was a factor in the violent uprising that began there in 2011. …

“They cited studies that showed that the extreme dryness, combined with other factors, including misguided agricultural and water-use policies of the Syrian government, caused crop failures that led to the migration of as many as 1.5 million people from rural to urban areas. This in turn added to social stresses that eventually resulted in the uprising against President Bashar al-Assad in March 2011.”

He comments:

“So one urgent lesson for the future is that the US and other governments must take swift and vigorous action in the forthcoming Paris international conference on the climate crisis. Without such action, we can expect more such civil wars, millions of refugees, and desperate acts of war and terror as food and water vanish in many regions of the Earth. “

That's something I'd rather overlooked, and it shows how climate change also impacts on politics.

And the other factor was the war in Iraq. He writes:

“Allegedly responding to the terror attacks on 9/11, the US government decided to turn away from pursuing the criminal band Al Qaeda in its home base in Afghanistan and instead decided to shatter Iraq.”

“The war renewed old furies between Sunnis and Shiites, destabilized the entire Middle East, and turned what should have been a sharply targeted police action into a totally unnecessary war between the US and large parts of the Islamic world (including drone attacks that often murdered innocents and stoked fury among many Muslims). “

“It also brought deep violations of American values and Constitutional liberties – the use of torture as an act of official US policy, egregious governmental surveillance of practically all Americans without search warrants, and both governmental and private attacks on Muslims in a growing fever of Islamophobia.”

“Learning from this past mistake means that any decision to use force against ISIS should in both words and practice define the action as policing criminals within a context of protecting the Syrian and Iraqi publics, not fighting a war against Islam.”

"That means welcoming Russia and Iran, along with France and other Western nations, into working out a political solution to the Syrian civil war and isolating the terrorist criminals of the ISIS leadership as targets. The goal must be returning millions of refugees to their homes and encouraging the peaceful hopes and lives of the vast majority of Muslims.”

“And to make clear that our goal is to pursue justice for the peaceful and bring terrorists to justice, not to subjugate Islam, the US should take much more vigorous action to insist on the emergence of a peaceful Palestine alongside a peaceful Israel, in the context of a peaceful settlement between them both with all Arab and Muslim states.”

And the Rabbi concludes:

“The point is that if action against ISIS is done with the rhetoric of rage against Islam as a whole and if it is undertaken in actual practice with attacks on civilian Muslim populations, as was the Iraq War, then the result will be still more violence against the US and other Western nations.”

The Statement of Iranian president Hassan Rouhani:

“In the name of the Iranian people, who have themselves been victims of terrorism, I strongly condemn these crimes against humanity and offer my condolences to the grieving French people and government.”

The US Council of Muslim Organizations (USCMO), a coalition of leading national and local Muslim organizations, yesterday (Saturday) strongly condemned “the abhorrent terror attacks that took place yesterday in Paris and left over 150 innocent people dead and scores injured.”

Its statement continued:

“USCMO stands consistent with its position against all forms of violence against innocent people anywhere in Turkey, Beirut, Syria, Paris, and on our soil irrespective of the perpetrators, targets, or reasons. These repugnant acts of violence defy the sanctity of every innocent human live and shall always be condemned and rejected.”

“The US Council of Muslim Organizations sends its heartfelt condolences to the families of the victims and to the people of France and stands in solidarity with them against terrorism and violent extremism. We ask the American Muslim community around the nation to hold candle light vigils in memory of the victims and in support of their families.”

The Muslim Council of Britain has condemned the attacks in Paris and offered thoughts and prayers for the families of those killed.

The council has offered its sympathies to the “people of France, our neighbors” in a short statement.

The council says that while the Islamic State group is claiming responsibility for the attack, “there is nothing Islamic about such people and their actions are evil, and outside the boundaries set by our faith.”

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