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Sunday Surprise: advertising the Christmas spirit, 1914

Sunday, November 23rd, 2014

[ by Charles Cameron — I’m with the British Legion, remembering the fallen, avid for peace — and not averse to chocolate ]
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Apparently there’s some controversy over a recent Sainsbury’s ad. Here’s the background on the ad:

and the ad itself:

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For good measure, here’s the “making of”:

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Given how commercial a holiday Christmas has become, I’d have to say Sainsbury’s — the British supermarket chain — is doing us all a favor, believers and otherwise, by bringing our attention back to the Prince of Peace, in spirit if not by name.

What do you think?

Do you perhaps agree with Rev. Nicholas Clews, Priest-in-Charge at St Margaret of Antioch, Thornbury, and St James the Great, Woodhall, that the ad:

misses the point about the significance of what happened on Christmas Day 1914 [which] was that a chance for peace was missed. It’s a tragedy. For a day: those soldiers realised they were human beings, and they shared that humanity. That’s a tremendous message for Christmas; but the significance of Christmas is that it’s not about a day, it’s about life.

— or with the contributor at Forbes, perhaps, who wonders if it’s even an ad at all?

There’s still an even bigger question to ask, though: What does any of this have to do with selling stuff, which is, after all, Sainsbury’s overwhelming top priority during the most important shopping season of the year?

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Jottings 10: The rabbi who cried Allahu Akbar

Monday, February 17th, 2014

[ by Charles Cameron — expect the unexpected ]
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I can’t claim to understand Hebrew or Arabic, but the late Rabbi Menachem Froman, a leading Gush Emunim settler rabbi, can clearly be heard shouting “Allahu Akbar” at 5.37 and then repeatedly at 5.42 and following.

What’s going on?

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I wrote a while back:

I am hoping to make Jottings a continuing series of brief posts, some serious and some light-hearted, that release the toxins of fascination and abhorrence from my system rapidly, ie without too much time spent in research. Jottings — hey, my degree was in Theology, Mother of the Sciences — derives from the English “jot” — and thence from the Greek iota and Hebrew yod, see Wikipedia on jots and tittles.

Today, I hope to post four more of them. This one’s the first.

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Rabbi Froman was visiting a mosque that had been desecrated the previous day by a group of his fellow settlers, who had scribbled the phrase “price tag” and some slurs against the Prophet on the walls, then set the mosque on fire.

Harvard Professor Noah Feldman, in a Bloomberg op-ed titled Is a Jew Meshuga for Wanting to Live in Palestine? explains:

If Israelis and Palestinians agree on one thing, it’s that more settlements in the West Bank will eventually make a two-state solution impossible. Rabbi Menachem Froman, who died on March 4 at age 68, thought differently.

Froman was a proud and early settler, a founder of the hard-line Gush Emunim (“Bloc of the Faithful”), theologically committed to permanent Jewish settlement in what he considered historical Judea and Samaria. But Froman also fully accepted the idea of a Palestinian state there — in which he and his fellow settlers would continue to live as minority citizens.

Crazy, you say — as did just about everyone else in Israel, to say nothing of other settlers. Froman played up the appearance of madness by appearing in Palestinian villages in his prayer shawl, tefillin (phylacteries) and long white beard and blessing the people in Arabic and Hebrew. His acting and speaking like a biblical figure further underscored the impression that he was some sort of unrealistic prophet, whether utopian or dystopian resting in the eye of the beholder.

But why, really, is it impossible to imagine that religiously committed Jews might live under Palestinian sovereignty as citizens in the way that some Palestinian Arabs live under Jewish sovereignty in Israel proper? Looking at the standard reasons carefully, instead of just assuming their truth, can provide us with a much-needed thought experiment about the viability of the two-state solution, which looks increasingly tenuous to its supporters and critics alike.

Food for whatever that thing is that hearts and minds do.

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Related readings:

  • Yair Rosenberg, To Save the Peace Process, Get Religion
  • International Crisis Group, Leap of Faith: Israel’s National Religious and the Israeli-Palestinian Conflict
  • Adam Garfinkle, If Kerry Wants To Make Peace in the Middle East, He Should Just Put God In Charge
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    Allahu Akbar — God is Great. Not such an unexpected sentiment coming from a rabbi, after all?

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    Heraclitus at the Vatican

    Sunday, February 2nd, 2014

    [  by Charles Cameron — within the Vatican, feathers fly — a second post posted at our zenpuditry site during our recent downtime ]

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    Children, at the side of Pope Francis, release doves in a symbolic prayer for peace in the Ukraine:

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    What happens next is seen in the lower panel — an almost heraldic battle of the birds, black crow against white dove. Consider, then, war and peace, as they are embodied here.

    Heraclitus it was who observed,

    What opposes unites, and the finest attunement stems from things bearing in opposite directions, and all things come about by strife.

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    A Clash of Messianisms: now let me get this straight

    Wednesday, January 15th, 2014

    [ by Charles Cameron — slightly tongue-in-cheek, intrigued at a rhetorical level, not sure who here, if anyone, necessarily believes the words they speak ]
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    Okay, let’s see now.

    • In December 2009, Israeli PM Netanyahu said, “You don’t want a messianic apocalyptic cult controlling atomic bombs. When the wide-eyed believer gets hold of the reins of power and the weapons of mass death, then the entire world should start worrying, and that is what is happening in Iran.” 
    • In April 2012, former Israeli Shin Bet intelligence chief Yuval Diskin, said “I don’t believe in either the prime minister (Netanyahu) or the defense minister (Barak). I don’t believe in a leadership that makes decisions based on messianic feelings…” 
    • In October 2013, Israeli PM Netanyahu told the UN General Assembly, “In our time the Biblical prophecies are being realized.” 
    • In January 2014, Israeli Defense Minister Moshe Yaalon is quoted as calling Kerry “obsessive” and “messianic”.
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      I told you messianism was a big deal. Now will you listen?

      At the very least, it’s heating up the rhetoric of the the quest for peace…

      So how many “wide-eyed believers” have gotten hold of “the reins of power and the weapons of mass death” at last count?

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      I coulda made at least two DoubleQuotes out of that little lot.

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    DoubleBurn: mosque and synagogue

    Sunday, October 20th, 2013

    [ by Charles Cameron — tipping my hat to a moving interfaith gesture ]
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    This past Wednesday, a person or persons unknown torched a mosque in Gdansk, Poland, known to me as the place where Lech Walesa founded the Solidarnosc movement.

    Thankfully, the physical damage doesn’t appear to have been complete [upper panel, below]:

    What brings this particular event to our attention is the response from the city’s Jewish community [lower panel, above: an image of a current Gdansk synagogue].

    The Jewish Telegraphic Agency [JTA] gives us the story:

    Polish Jews say mosque torching reminiscent of Kristallnacht

    Representatives of the Jewish community of Gdansk, Poland, said the torching of a mosque had “frightening connotations” of the Nazi-inspired Kristallnacht pogroms against Jews.

    The association was inescapable, three of the city’s Jewish leaders wrote in a statement Thursday.

    “On the eve of the 75th anniversary of Kristallnacht, during which synagogues were burned in the Free City of Gdansk, the burning of the mosque must bear frightening connotations,” the statement said.

    Unidentified individuals started the fire early Wednesday morning. It consumed the mosque’s door and some of the equipment, resulting in damages to the tune of $16,000.

    “In the face of this cowardly act of barbarism, Jews of Gdansk cannot stand idly by,” wrote the authors of the statement, Michal Samet, Michal Rucki and Mieczyslaw Abramowicz. “We express our deep indignation against the attack on the temple and the sadness of the fact that it took place in Gdansk.”

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    An echo in time.

    A powerful analogy, deeply felt.

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