Welcome to the Tuesday, December 30, 2008 issue of this Peace&Justice action email!

Let me start by raising the notion of HOPE for the New Year. Hope is one of the driving influences in life. It is the acknowledgement that we are not so prescient as to know the future with certainty, combined with the belief that life-giving dynamics will eventually win the day over the grotesque distortions and misuse of life. And when hope moves from being an unattached, vague feeling, to a firm resolve, then it becomes the life-anchoring orientation that helps maximize life's possibilities for the poor and marginalized around the world. May we make 2009 a hope-filled year!

In this issue we grapple with some of the most entrenched patterns, starting with the disheartening new conflict between Israel and Palestine. Also included are further actions to provide guidance to the situations in Darfur and in the Democratic Republic of Congo.




Reasoned voices regarding the Israeli - Palestinian dynamics are often sidelined by the seemingly perpetual downward spiral created by short-sighted agendas of so many fragmented voices. I have seen enough well-intentioned thoughts and even diplomatic initiatives being shredded on the shoals of its extremely complex, multi-layered and shifting dynamics to be wary of any easy statements or actions.

Yet complexity cannot lead to silence, and the current dynamics regarding the Gaza Strip cry out for some response, especially given the thought of a potential third intifada. Thus I have included two actions, below. The first is from Avaaz, and is a very general statement, that speaks plainly about the first step - a comprehensive ceasefire.

Call for Comprehensive Ceasefire (open to all countries):

Secondly, given how U.S. policy is strongly linked to the overall tone of dynamics, there is an opportunity, below, to request the new U.S. administration to place their policies on a more hopeful footing, one further in line with human rights and international law.

Please note that the email link's content is not as fully robust as I would like to see. The points contain many of the issues needing resolution; but only in its last point can one can infer any responsibility on the Palestinian side (see [*] below for further comments). Nonetheless, given that it was signed by the American Jews for a Just Peace and some mainstream Christian denominations, it seems an adequate signal for the new U.S. administration, which is supposed to be able to hear diverse viewpoints and extract reasonable policies from it.

Tell Obama to Change Israel/Palestine Policy:

(Note: Non-US citizens can use the above link, as there is a Country field, but - dumb form - it still requires you to enter a "State" - so chose whatever state you want).

=== Further Comments ====
[*] This remark is not intended to fall into the trap of the desire to find a tidy balance of points for each side, when in fact the power issues are historically and dramatically unequal. For sure it acknowledges the many prisms through which people become vociferous - whether it is who is responsible for the violence and ending it; or the genuine fears of either side for their well-being; or the constant shifts made necessary given varying extremist views and the way in which innocent people of either side fall victim to their own and the other side's political shifts for survival; or even the way both groups are manipulated for outside vested interests. Unfortunately this is not a forum for in-depth probing of such issues . . . although I would welcome such an effort by a scholar or graduate student, which could be placed on the www.UntilAll.org website. Please contact me if interested.

I lament that reasonable voices on both sides seem unable to prevail - and that remains my formula for an enduring peace - to find and strengthen the reasonable voices on both sides, so that eventually they will be able to marginalize the extremist voices.

Finally, just in case someone has not encountered the polarization that erupts, I have selected below, from the same publication - The Guardian Unlimited - two opposing views. They are somewhat arbitrary - 100's could have been used.

'Terrorism' as a Smokescreen for the Strong to Crush the Weak:
    Gaza: The Logic of Colonial Power

One View of Key Palestinian Strategic Mistakes since 1920:
    What Victimology Does Not Account For





With three weeks before the new U.S. administration starts, policy suggestions have been pouring in. It is hoped the President-Elect Obama will remain true to his approach, whereby he allows diverse voices to be heard and tries to extract reasonable policies from it. In that light, the Enough Project has prepared a list of priorities to help resolve the volatile areas of Darfur, and neighbouring Eastern Congo, and by inference, other areas that suffer genocidal or crimes-against-humanity dynamics. Their work is comprehensive, covering their 3P's of promoting peace, protecting civilians, and punishing the perpetrators.

Send Priority List to Obama for Darfur and Congo:



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Rod Downing

Surrey BC Canada
(604) 535-6550