Russia heeds ‘the Inner Voice of Conscience’–Patriarch Kirill

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Several days ago I posted a video of an interview with Patriarch Kirill of the Russian Orthodox Church conducted over Russian TV. The interview aired live on January 7–Russian Orthodox Christmas Day. What I posted was only a four and a half minute segment that had been translated into English–this of an interview which ran on for more than half and hour–but in that segment Kirill expressed the view that “evil is not viable,” and that “systems where the evil is dominant cannot survive.”

“If evil drives away good from human society, then the end will come,” he added.

The video I am posting above is an additional segment from the same interview and that has now also been translated into English. In it Kirill talks about how Russia “is a country which pays heed to the inner voice of conscience.”

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Russian Patriarch Discusses Good, Evil, and the End-Times

The feature image that Russia Today selected when i uploaded this video is quite cheesy, but the comments by Russian Patriarch Kirill are actually quite powerful and relevant.

Historic revelation shows founder of Saudi Arabia offered Palestine away as if he owned it

 

These few sentences are the essence of #Saudi #regime’s policy towards #Israel since the foundation of the kingdom by #kingAbdulaziz.

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The American Strategy for the End of the World

Darko Lazar

30-12-2017 | 08:51

If Donald Trump’s recently unveiled National Security Strategy (NSS) is a barometer for what to expect in the New Year, states in the Middle East should not be hedging their bets on peace and stability.

Donald Trump

The 68-page document, which lays out in clear detail how the Trump administration plans to treat the world, also dispels any notion of America turning inwards.

On the contrary, President Trump – in sharp contrast to his days as a contender for the White House – is hailing interventionist policies, promising an uncompromising dissemination of American ‘values’, threatening traditional geopolitical rivals (Russia and China), while indirectly declaring war on conventional ‘rogue’ states (Iran and North Korea).

The NSS document vows that the US “will seek areas of cooperation with competitors from a position of strength, foremost by ensuring our military power is second to none and fully integrated with our allies and all of our instruments of power.”

This text is as much about defining Trump’s foreign policy agenda during his tenure at the White House, as it is a skeleton of the US national strategy for the 21st century.

It very openly stipulates that the western empire, which refuses to accept the collapse of the unipolar order, is in the process of planning perhaps its final global thump, designed to bring the world back under its ‘messianic’ flag.

And explaining Washington’s refusal to come to terms with the fact that the international community has new contenders for the post of ‘number one’ is a reasonably straightforward task.

In simple terms, US social, economic and political stability is wholly contingent upon American military adventurism across the globe. It is also the most basic axiom on which modern western societies are built.

This geopolitical doctrine made the US a dominant power throughout much of the 20th century, and is one that many in Washington still believe works.

Donald Trump, as an individual, becomes a figure of little significance. One can argue, with a great deal of conviction, that the US president is a largely marginal character in the big picture.

“The scourge of the world”

It remains to be seen how the newly published NSS document will translate into action on the ground, but whatever happens, it is clear that Washington’s strategy has nothing to do with making the world a more peaceful or stable place.

The language used, which Russia’s President Vladimir Putin labeled as “offensive” and “aggressive”, essentially paints a bullseye on the backs of American adversaries, promising to create the necessary geopolitical conditions to pull the trigger.

The already highly combustible Middle East region is once again in the eye of the storm, and Iran is singled out as the greatest obstacle to American strategic objectives there.

The NSS clearly designates the Islamic Republic as a ‘threat’ to the US, describing the country that acted as the driving force in the battle against Daesh as a sponsor of terrorism and the “scourge of the world”.

According to the Director of the ANSWER Coalition, Brian Becker, “this represents a sharp shift, especially given the fact that the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPA) – the so-called Iran nuclear arms deal – could have been a precursor to a new thaw in relations between the United States and Iran in the Middle East. But this is a sharp reversal of any sort of possibility for that.”

That reversal could very well trigger a wider confrontation, involving both regional and global powers, and driven exclusively by the US desire to dominate the highly strategic Middle East – an objective that can be considered far from realistic without an obedient leadership in Tehran.

A program for ‘confronting’ Iran appears to have hatched in the lead-up to the publication of the NSS document, when representatives of the major “Israeli” and American intelligence and defense hierarchies held a “secret” meeting at the White House on December 12.

A report aired on “Israel’s” Channel 10 claimed that Tel Aviv and Washington have formulated a joint strategy, setting up four separate teams to undermine Iran.

The four areas of interest include Iran’s alliance with Hezbollah and Damascus, as well as its ballistic missile and nuclear energy programs.

Bringing a sword to the world

Perhaps not surprisingly, Washington’s strategic document triggered a process of regrouping and realignment among the world’s key players.

The conclusion is simple: Pax Americana cannot be realized unless a new brand of geopolitical confrontation takes place in the not-too-distant future. No one knows this better than the Iranians, the Russians and all the other ‘offenders’.

In short, the US strategy seeks to ‘bring a sword to the world’ -establishing some sort of new Cold War model that would once and for all ensure “the end of history” in a fully Americanized world.

Of course, the danger is that any attempt at imposing “the end of history” through waging ceaseless wars and conducting nuclear maneuvers could very well be, at the same time, taunting the end of civilization as we know it.

 

Source: Al-Ahed

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The Biblical Land: Given By God But Not Without Conditions

Posted on August 27, 2017

The presenter in the video above makes a good point. While according to the Old Testament, God issued a land grant to Abraham and his descendants, the biblical texts also tell us that the gift did not come without conditions. It was a contractbasically. And the Israelites failed to live up to it. This is what’s recorded in the biblical narrative. Sadly, many Christians today seem oblivious to the fact that the modern day state of Israel is following the same blind path. Hopefully the above video can make things a little clearer for them.

Back in June of this year, Palestinian Christians published an open letter to the World Council of Churches (WCC) asking that it recognize Israel as an apartheid state. I put up a post about it at the time, commenting that while the document makes no specific reference to Christian Zionism, it does nonetheless assert that Palestinians are suffering “because of one political declaration from a Western empire, based on a twisted theological premise.” And as I also remarked in the same post, the phrase “twisted theological premise” is an apt way of describing Christian Zionism. At any rate, I thought now would be a good time to re-post the open letter to the WCC, and so that’s what I have done below.

You’ll notice that among the signatories to the letter–the one at the very top of the list in fact–is the Arab Catholic Scouts Group. A bit earlier this month a group of Catholic Scouts were on a camp out near the West Bank village of Jibya when they found their campsite under attack by Israeli forces. Here is what a Catholic website reported at the time:

Israeli occupation forces yesterday raided a Catholic children’s scout camp, near the village of Jibya, organised by the Palestinian Holy Family Group from the Latin Monastery of Ramallah. They destroyed the tents and threw sound and gas bombs before they left.

Fortunately, the children were away from the camp attending a class in a hall close to the campsite. No one was injured, but the organisers say the children were very frightened.

The scout leader Samir Habash, said: “We practice our scouting right within the Palestinian natural environment, which is guaranteed by international and local scouting laws, but it appears that this right is forbidden to us because of oppressive occupation measures.”

He appealed to local and international scouting organisations around the world to publicise this barbaric attack, especially because it was targeting children.

The Scouts of the Palestinian Holy Family (for boy and girl scouts) were founded in 1996 and have about 180 members.

If you follow the link to the article you will see a picture of the destroyed tents.

Yes, the belief that “God gave the land to the Jews” has indeed contributed to a lot of suffering. This has been going on for a long time, and as the letter below points out, “the situation is still deteriorating.”

By the way, the letter makes reference to two other documents, one of them being the Amaan Call, issued by the WCC ten years ago following a meeting held in Amaan, Jordan. The other document mentioned is the Kairos Palestinedocument, a letter signed by Palestinian Christians and published in 2009. This latest letter urges Christians of conscience not to “hide behind the cover of political neutrality,” and also calls upon the WCC to support the BDS movement.

In June of this year, the WCC did in fact release a “Statement on 50 Years of Occupation.” The statement notes that “half a century after the 1967 war, there is still no peace and no justice among the inhabitants of the land of Christ’s birth, death and resurrection.” It also asserts that Israel’s “matrix of control – in particular through the ever growing web of illegal Israeli settlements – is increasing rather than diminishing” hopes for peace.

Sadly, however, the statement does not include the word “apartheid,” nor does it endorse the BDS movement.

***

Letter from Palestinian Christians to the World Council of Churches

Learn to do right; seek justice. Defend the oppressed. (Isa. 1:17)

Background

As we meet this month in Bethlehem in occupied Palestine, we are still suffering from 100 years of injustice and oppression that were inflicted on the Palestinian people beginning with the unjust and unlawful Balfour declaration. The injustice was intensified through the Nakba and the influx of refugees, the Israeli occupation of the West Bank including East Jerusalem and Gaza, the fragmentation of our people and land through policies of isolation and confiscation of property, and the building of Jewish-only settlements and the apartheid wall.

We are still suffering because of one political declaration from a Western empire, based on a twisted theological premise. Even some churches and Christian leaders supported the establishment of the colonial state in our land, and totally ignored—even dehumanized—the nation, our people who had already existed here for centuries and paid the price for atrocities committed in Europe.

Hundred years later, with thousands of lives lost, towns and villages razed from the face of the earth (though not our memory), millions of refugees, thousands of homes demolished, and continued incarceration of prisoners, our Nakba continues.

A hundred years later and there is still no justice in our land! Discrimination and inequality, military occupation and systematic oppression are the rule. Today, we stand in front of an impasse and we have reached a deadlock. Despite all the promises, endless summits, UN resolutions, religious and lay leaders’ callings, Palestinians are still yearning for their freedom and independence, and seeking justice and equality. Humanly speaking, we have reached the “moment of impossible,” as Emeritus Latin Patriarch Sabbah said recently.

Could it be that we have reached this “impossible moment” because things were built from the very beginning—a hundred years ago—on an unjust premise? Should we expect that such an unjust declaration will create anything but strife and destruction?

Today is also an opportunity to remember the 10-year-old Amman Call. We are thankful to those who stood with us back then in costly solidarity—those who stood for truth and justice. We are also concerned that 10 years later the situation is still deteriorating. Like other initiatives advocating end of occupation, the Amman Call did not achieve its goals in building and achieving just peace. We must ask ourselves today why that is.

We are also concerned by Israel’s systemic assault on Palestinian creative resistance, and on our partners worldwide who use this method to pressure Israel to end the occupation. Many new laws were issued in Israel and around the world to oppose this creative non-violent resistance unlawfully, and to stop all effort toward peace. Not only is this an attack on the freedom of conscience and speech but it is also an assault on our right and duty to resist evil with good. Israel is even now trying to prevent pilgrims from visiting Bethlehem, the city of Emmanuel!

While we are grateful for the ‘costly solidarity’ articulated in the Amman Call and exercised by many churches around the world, we are concerned that some churches have weakened their positions in the last 10 years as a result of Israeli pressure. Many still hide behind the cover of political neutrality, not wishing to offend their partners in religious dialogue.

Finally, we meet in an environment of religious wars and persecution in our region. Religious extremism is on the rise, and religious minorities have paid a painful price. We thank you for your efforts toward the refugees and toward ending the conflicts in our region. We also thank you for your support of persecuted Christians in places like Iraq and Syria.

Our Call

“God blesses those who hunger and thirst for justice, for they will be satisfied.” (Matthew 5:6)

“Blessed are those who are persecuted because of righteousness (Justice), for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. Blessed are you when people insult you, persecute you and falsely say all kinds of evil against you because of me”. (Matthew 5:10-11)

As we stand in front of this “impossible moment,” it gives us no pleasure to say that “we told you so” eight years ago when we declared the moment as a Kairos moment! We stand facing the impossible, but we have not lost hope, since as followers of the Risen One, we are the people of hope. However, we need you and we need you now more than ever. We need your costly solidarity. We need brave women and men who are willing to stand in the forefront. This is no time for shallow diplomacy Christians. We urge you to hear our call and adopt the following:

1. That you call things as they are: recognize Israel as an apartheid state in terms of international law and in agreement of what a person like Desmond Tutu said and as the UN ESCWA report said: “Israel is guilty of imposing an apartheid regime on the Palestinian people.. We are disturbed by the fact that states and churches are dealing with Israel as if the situation were normal, ignoring the reality of occupation, discrimination, and daily death in the land. Just as churches united to end apartheid in South Africa and whereby the WCC played a courageous and pivotal prophetic and leadership role, we expect you to do the same!

2. That you unequivocally condemn the Balfour declaration as unjust, and that you demand from the UK that it asks forgiveness from the Palestinian people and compensates for the losses. We ask that churches and Christians support the Palestinians in their request for justice.

3. That you take the strongest theological stand against any theology or Christian group that justifies the occupation and privileges one nation over the other based on ethnicity or a covenant. We ask that you adopt and live the theology suggested by Kairos Palestine and that you organize conferences to bring awareness toward this end.

4. That you take a stand against religious extremism and against any attempt to create a religious state in our land or region. We ask that you support us in combating the foundations of extremism and that you seek our council when acting against religious extremism so that you do not jeopardize and harm our standing here.

5. That you revisit and challenge your religious dialogue partners, and that you are willing to even withdraw from the partnership if needed, if the occupation and injustices in Palestine and Israel are not challenged.

6. That you lead campaigns for church leaders and pilgrims to visit Bethlehem and other Palestinian cities on this side of the wall in cooperation with Palestinian tourist and pilgrimage agencies, in response to recent attempts by Israel. We ask that you publicly challenge any attempt by Israel or other Christians that discourage pilgrims from visiting Palestinian places.

7. That you defend our right and duty to resist the occupation creatively and non-violently. We ask that you speak in support of economic measures that pressure Israel to stop the occupation and that you support atheltic, cultural, and academic measures against Israel until it complies with international law and UN resolutions urging the ending of its occupation, apartheid, and discrimination, and accepts refugees to return to their homeland. This is our last peaceful resort. In response to Israel’s war on BDS, we ask that you intensify that measure.

8. That you create lobby groups in defense of Palestinian Christians. We ask that you publicly and legally challenge Christian organizations that discredit our work and legitimacy.

9. We therefore propose as a matter of the greatest urgency that you create a strategic program within WCC similar to the program “To Combat Racism” to lead efforts to lobby, advocate, and develop active programs toward justice and peace in Palestine and Israel and maintain the presence of the Palestinian Christians through supporting their organizations, church work, and peaceful efforts.

As faithful witnesses, we acknowledge, affirm, and continue the long-standing prophetic tradition, especially the one started by the Amman Call and articulated in the Kairos Palestine document. We fully grasp the pressure church leaders are facing here and abroad not to speak the truth, and it is because of this that we are raising this call.

Things are beyond urgent. We are on the verge of a catastrophic collapse. The current status quo is unsustainable. This could be our last chance to achieve a just peace. As a Palestinian Christian community, this could be our last opportunity to save the Christian presence in this land. Our only hope as Christians comes from the fact that in Jerusalem, the city of God, and our city, there is an empty tomb, and Jesus Christ who triumphed over death and sin brought to us and to all humanity, new life.

We are hard pressed on every side, but not crushed; perplexed, but not in despair; persecuted, but not abandoned; struck down, but not destroyed. (2 Cor. 4:8-9)

12 June 2017

Signed By:

Jerusalem
Arab Catholic Scouts Group
Arab Orthodox Society, Jerusalem
Caritas, Jerusalem
Department of Service to Palestinian Refugees—Middle East Council of Churches
Greek Catholic Sayedat AlBishara Association
International Christian Committee
Laity Committee in the Holy Land
National Christian Association
Pontifical Mission Palestine
Sabeel—Ecumenical Liberation Theology Center
Seeds of Better life
Union of Arab Orthodox Club, Jerusalem
Young Men’s Christian Association—YMCA
Young Women’s Christian Association—YWCA

 

Gaza
NECC office

 

Bethlehem (NCOB) Network of Christian Organizations in Bethlehem
The East Jerusalem YMCA—Beit Sahour Branch
The Arab Educational Institute
Holy Land Trust, Bethlehem
Wi’am Center, Bethlehem
Saint Afram Assyrian Society
Holy Land Christians Ecumenical Foundation, Bethlehem
Joint Advocacy Initiative (JAI)
Arab Orthodox Club, Beit Sahour
Arab Orthodox Club, Beit Jala
Arab Orthodox Club, Bethlehem
The Arab Orthodox Charitable Society, Beit Sahour
Bethlehem Bible College
Siraj Center for Holy Land Studies
Alternative Tourism Group, ATG, Beit Sahour
Senior Citizen Charitable Society
Environmental educational Center, Beit Jala
Saint Vincent Charitable Society, Beit Jala
Shepherds’ Children Society, Beit Sahour
Kairos Palestine

Hour before the Dawn

[ Ed. note – Another poem by Palestinian poet Nahida Izzat. Nahida is a Muslim. As I read her poem, however, it brings to mind for me, strangely perhaps, the following spoken by Jesus after the resurrection: “And lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age.” The words are from the very last line, in the final verse, in the final chapter, of the Gospel of Matthew.

Indeed, we seem to be fast approaching the end of an age. As Nahida puts it, “Earth is throbbing/The avalanche is fast approaching.” The poem also contains suggestions of a soul preparing to make the journey from life into the afterlife: “Raise your gaze up to the sky/Note the signs to your dwelling place.” Yet worth remembering is that in the post-apocalyptic age to come, heaven and earth will merge. This is the case in Christian theology, at any rate, and I suspect Islam probably has its parallel.

In any event, when I read poetry like this I tend to become convinced that it is the Palestinians (and certainly not the Khazars!!! ) who are the true descendants of the earliest followers of Jesus. Christians should consider that we potentially have far more in common with Muslims than we do with Jews. ]

 

Hour before the Dawn

* * *

Earth is throbbing in curious anticipation

The avalanche is fast approaching

People dazed in deep sleep

Some eyes are peeled as if they know

* * *
* * *

Time to retreat, weary soul

Time to retreat

Rest in a niche where Light descends

Hand it all over to the One Supreme

Carve a hole in your heart, braid your loved ones in

One by one

* * *

* * *

O soul

Put your temporary house in order

Clean up the mess before the storm

Pluck up the weeds and plow the soil

Scatter the seeds for those to come

Give it back better than you received

Stunning… Atrociously beautiful

Humbly put your head down and pray

A modest sign of ample gratitude

* * *

* * *

Raise your gaze up to the sky

Note the signs to your dwelling place

Adorn the garden of your home eternal

Let love flow free, let kindness prevail

Follow your soul, she knows the way

Let her guide you to your heavenly abode

Beneath the Throne of a Gracious Lord

Gaze in amazement at the glorious sight

Wither to nothingness before the Majesty

Splendour no eye had ever seen

* * *

New video refutes ‘God gave the land to israel’

Source

 

More Americans believe than do not believe Israel was given to the Jewish people by God. But does the Bible support this belief?

The claim that God promised the land to the Jews has been a major factor in the establishment of today’s state of Israel, the Jewish colonization of the land, and the terrible suffering this has caused for Jews as well as Palestinians. But is this claim true?Answering this requires examining the conditions God put on the “land grant” and the consequences of violating those conditions.

Dan McGowan, Executive Director of Deir Yassin Remembered, narrates this “rest of the story,” citing The New English Bible for clarity. Then viewers should be better able to decide whether God gave the land to the current state of Israel and how to help end the suffering.

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