S/SW blog philosophy -

I credit favorite writers and public opinion makers.

A lifelong Democrat, my comments on Congress, the judiciary and the presidency are regular features.

My observations and commentary are on people and events in politics that affect the USA or the rest of the world, and stand for the interests of peace, security and justice.

Thursday, November 30, 2006

Pushing for peace is perilous

The stories highlighted in my post today are there as an antidote to the recurring stories about OCP's (our current president's) trip abroad. It would be easier to merely rant about Mr. Bush. OCP continues seems totally incapable of having the slightest peaceful thought, or risking the slightest peaceful gesture. The current administration's handling of the Israeli-Palestinian situation, for example, has been abyssmal from the beginning of their tenure. The parties have needed our help along the way, and we have let them down up to this point.

A Prime Minister, the Pope, a Republican politician, and an ex-President are currently pushing agendas that could make it easier for peace to have a chance, with risk to themselves. None of these men are my most favorite people, but what they are doing seems brave to me and bravery deserves credit.

A picture of people praying at a wall in the disputed city of Jerusalem, is for me, the most powerful illustrative symbol I could have chosen for today's post. It epitomizes the difficulty of making peace in the Middle East. The prayer plaza is called the Western Wall. It was known in the past as the "Wailing Wall," or in Hebrew as "ha-kotel." It was created in 1967. Even the name is is dispute, according to the Jewish Virtual Library. Jerusalem is a holy city for Jews, Muslims and Christians alike. It is no wonder that control of the city is such a sticking point and left to the last in every attempt to push for peace in the region.

Israel is in jeopardy right now because of the weakened stature of Ehud Ohlmert. Palestine's election of a Hamas majority brought about incredible punishment from much of the West. Despite this, the BBC reports that Israel's Prime Minister Ohlmert is "extending the hand of peace" to Palestine. Secretary of State Condoleeza Rice will be handling the current U.S. diplomatic efforts to assist Israel and Palestine to make peace. Perhaps Rice will be able to help in this perilous situation, perhaps not. (Note that links without attribution all involve My Way News Mid-east articles. It took considerable time to read them all in order to be informed. Things are moving very rapidly all over the region).

Former President Jimmy Carter's latest of many books is titled, Palestine Peace Not Apartheid. A tireless champion of peace, he holds Israel accountable for their part in keeping Palestine in what he terms a kind of apartheid status. He does not excuse the violence on either side, but is very hard on Israel in this book, not an easy stance for him in this country at this time. Note that our former president will be on C-SPAN for three hours on Sunday:

December 3 at 12:00 pm and Monday, December 4 at 12:00 am.
Description: Former President Jimmy Carter is the guest on Book TV's December In Depth. Mr. Carter is the author of a new book, "Palestine: Peace Not Apartheid," and more than twenty others, . . .

A leading Christian, Roman Catholic Pope Benedict XVI is visiting in Turkey trying to make relations between Christians and Muslims more peaceful, as well as healing a long-standing rift between Christian Catholic and Orthodox factions. The Pope has not given up on making peace with Muslims despite an opening misstep. Guarded by thousands of soldiers, the Pope may be willing to encourage the EU to take in Turkey, according to a Tuesday Financial Times story, from which I quote:

Pope Benedict XVI arrived in Turkey at the start of a four-day visit and, according to his hosts, immediately offered to back the country’s faltering bid to join the European Union.
If the claim is true, it marks an unexpectedly lively and political start to the visit, one of the most sensitive trips by any Pope in recent times.
. . . Benedict got a lavish welcome on his arrival. Mr Erdogan, a one-time Islamist firebrand who served time in jail for his political beliefs, broke with protocol to meet him at the steps of the plane, and their meeting was said to have been warm.
The Pope said before leaving Rome that his visit was “pastoral” rather than “political”. In a speech after a meeting with Ali Bardakoglu, the spiritual leader of Turkey’s 70m Muslims, Benedict called for an “authentic dialogue” among religions “based on truth and inspired by a sincere wish to know each other better.”
A leading Republican politician, Senator John Warner is courageously beginning to dissent with his president. The Carpetbagger report points to the Senator's continued move away from the administration. To quote, (Warner):

“‘Stay the course’ is gone. We’re going to try and devise some new strategies, hopefully with the President’s concurrence,” the senator said. “Our soldiers, sailors and airmen should not be in there, risking their lives, losing their lives to stop a Civil War.”
. . . I think it’s safe to say the administration is losing Warner quickly, and with him one of the more respected GOP voices on the military in the Senate. A month ago, Warner, upon returning from a trip to Iraq, said much of the country was taking “steps backwards” and his optimism for the future was on the wane. He opened the door a bit to supporting a troop withdrawal, saying, “I assure you, in two or three months, if this thing hasn’t come to fruition and if this level of violence is not under control and this government able to function, I think it’s a responsibility of our government internally to determine: Is there a change of course that we should take? And I wouldn’t take off the table any option at this time.”
But yesterday’s pronouncements were even stronger, characterizing Iraq as a “civil war,” which our troops should not be involved in. I was particularly struck by Warner saying that lawmakers will devise some new strategies for Iraq, “hopefully with the president’s concurrence.”
Pagosa Springs, Colorado, on the other hand, is pushing against peace. TalkLeft carried this amazing post about how divisive "peace" can become even in mid-America. This is an amazingly silly example of how "nuts" it is get into such a conflict. To quote,

Bob Kearns is president of the Loma Linda Homeowners Association in Pagosa Springs, Colorado. The enormous power he wields seems to have gone to his head.
Lisa Jensen put a Christmas wreath on her condo door. The wreath features a peace sign, although Kearns claims that some residents believe it to be a symbol of Satan.

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My "creative post" today at Southwest Blogger is "of the spirit."

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