The Common Good

U.S. vetoes U.N. peacekeeping resolutio

Sojomail - December 19, 2001


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+++++++++++++++++++++++ 19-December-2001 ++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++
++++++++++++++ U.S. vetoes U.N. peacekeeping resolution +++++++++++++++

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 Q u o t e   o f   t h e   W e e k
     *Shimon Peres: We are becoming war criminals

 B a t t e r i e s   N o t   I n c l u d e d
     *Why does the Arab world mistrust us?

 F u n n y   B u s i n e s s
     *The Amish virus

 B y   t h e   N u m b e r s
     *3,500 civilians killed in Afghanistan by U.S. bombs
     *The way to make amends in Afghanistan: pay up

 S o u l   W o r k s
     *A passage to read to your friends
     *Advent in Dakar

 P o l i t i c a l l y   C o n n e c t
     *Avoiding a generation of terrorism...
        10 lessons from Sri Lanka

 B o o m e r a n g
     *SojoMail readers hit reply

 C u l t u r e   W a t c h
     *Announcing the P.U.-Litzer Prizes for 2001

 W e b   S c e n e
     *Muslims against terrorism
     *Increase your understanding of the Arab world
     *The latest Congressional email addresses
     *Elephant polo

Editor's Note: SojoMail will be on Christmas vacation next
week. The next edition of SojoMail will be delivered the 
first week of January 2002. See you in the new year!     

Q u o t e   o f   t h e   W e e k

"Some of Sharon's military operations make me
horrified.... I hope that the policy of liquidations
is not extended to include the Palestinian political
echelons. If it is, we are going quite soon to be
declared war criminals by the international community."

- Foreign Minister Shimon Peres, as quoted
  in the Israeli newspaper Yedioth Ahronoth.


B a t t e r i e s   N o t   I n c l u d e d
Why does the Arab world mistrust us?

by David Batstone

The past 15 months have been a disaster for Israeli-
Palestinian relations. Since Sept. 29, 2000, more
than 1,000 people have died, over 800 of whom have
been Palestinians. While violent attacks on each side
are justified under the rubric of "self-defense,"
they in reality are inhumane acts that violate
civilians and do little more than fuel the flames
for a counter-attack. They are locked in moral combat.

When hopes for a reasoned negotiation have devolved -
as is certainly the case in the Israeli-Palestinian
struggle - a third party with political and moral
muscle must play a mediating role. No single nation-
state can play that role at the moment, given the
polarized politics that have enveloped the region
historically. Despite its problems, the United Nations
is the sole international body with legally binding
powers and one that can be instrumental in
constructing a peace in the region.

Efforts toward that goal were torpedoed by the United
States this last week, however. On December 15, the
United States vetoed the United Nations Security Council
Resolution to establish a monitoring force in the West
Bank and Gaza (the "Occupied Territories") - the fact that
this item was largely ignored by the mainstream U.S.
media is shameful. The U.N. Resolution "demands the
immediate cessation of all acts of violence,"
"resumption of negotiations," "condemns all acts
of terror...extra-judicial executions [and] excessive
use of force," and the "resumption of negotiations."
Can you think of any more positive steps that would
need to be taken to end the conflict?

I can't, and evidently neither can most of the rest
of the world. The latest U.N. resolution was supported by
12 members of the Council, with the UK and Norway abstaining.
U.N. observers or monitoring forces in the region have been
supported by a plethora of human rights groups and
international bodies, including the U.N. High Commission on
Human Rights, Mary Robinson, the G-8 Summit, Amnesty
International, and Human Rights Watch. Of course, any one
member country can block a Security Council Resolution.
It was the second time in the last year that the U.S. has
vetoed this particular resolution, and the 24th time
that the U.S. has used its veto on the question of Palestine -
far more than any other member of the Security Council.

After September 11, Americans asked why so many people
in the Arab world harbored animosity toward the United
States. The foolish answer: they are jealous of our
freedoms, our democratic way of life. I think it's more
accurate to say that our lack of support for democracy and
fairness outside the boundaries of the U.S. - blind
support of Israel and almost complete disregard of the
plight of dispossessed Palestinians - eviscerates our
moral standing and makes enemies out of potential allies.



 A new study packet by the editors of Sojourners magazine.
 This 5-session, 48-page study guide - designed for use in
 classrooms, Sunday school sessions, small groups, and study
 circles - is now available. For a table of contents or
 to order your copy, go to:


F u n n y   B u s i n e s s
The Amish virus

Pass along the ultimate low-tech virus. It operates on
the honor system. Please follow these instructions:

1) Reformat your hard drive.
2) Forward this message to everyone in your address book.


B y   t h e   N u m b e r s
3,500 civilians killed in Afghanistan by U.S. bombs

More than 3,500 civilians have been killed in Afghanistan
by U.S. bombs, according to a study by Marc W. Herold,
professor of economics and international relations
at the University of New Hampshire.

Professor Herold has been gathering data on civilian
casualties since October 7 by culling information from
news agencies, major newspapers, and first-hand accounts.
"I decided to do the study because I suspected that the
modern weaponry was not what it was advertised to be.
I was concerned that there would be significant civilian
casualties caused by the bombing, and I was able to find
some mention of casualties in the foreign press but almost
nothing in the U.S. press," said Herold.

Read more about Herold's data at:


The way to make amends: pay up.

by David Corn
Washington editor, The Nation.

WASHINGTON - "We mourn every civilian death," Secretary
of Defense Donald Rumsfeld said at a recent Pentagon briefing,
responding to news reports that scores of Afghan civilians
were killed by U.S. bombs in villages near Tora Bora.
Rumsfeld then discounted those reports as mere "Taliban
accusations," even though they had been based on the
accounts of local anti-Taliban officials (who were
working with American forces), civilian eyewitnesses
and actual victims. U.S. regret met U.S. denial.

The complete article can be viewed at:

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S o u l   W o r k s
"A Ritual to Read to Each Other"

by William Stafford

If you don't know the kind of person I am
And I don't know the kind of person you are
A pattern that others made may prevail in the world
And following the wrong god home we may miss our star.

For there is many a small betrayal in the mind,
A shrug that lets the fragile sequence break
Sending with shouts the horrible errors of childhood
Storming out to play through the broken dike.

And as elephants parade holding each elephant's tail,
But if one wanders the circus won't find the park,
I call it cruel and maybe the root of all cruelty
To know what occurs but not recognize the fact.

And so I appeal to a voice, something shadowy,
A remote important region in all who talk:
Though we could fool each other, we should consider -
Lest the parade of our mutual life get lost in the dark.

For it is important that awake people be awake,
Or a breaking line may discourage them back to sleep;
The signals we give - yes or no, or maybe -
Should be clear: the darkness around is deep.

From Stafford's "The Darkness Around us is
Deep" (1993).


Advent in Dakar

On Saturday, Dec. 15, some of the Taizé brothers
living in Dakar, Senegal, took part in a prayer
for Advent, "a celebration of light," at the Notre
Dame d'Espérance Chapel in the Thiaroye neighbourhood
on the outskirts of the city. The prayers and songs
were in French and Wolof. Meanwhile, in the Grand
Yoff neighbourhood, where the brothers have been living
for the last nine years, the celebrations for the end of
Ramandan have just been completed. For Christmas Eve,
the brothers are preparing a pilgrimage through the
neighbourhood. See "A fraternity in Dakar" at:


P o l i t i c a l l y   C o n n e c t
Avoiding a generation of terrorism:
10 lessons from Sri Lanka

by Shariff Abdullah

The Sri Lanka government has been fighting terrorists
for almost two decades, with no end in sight. On the
other hand, the American "war on terrorism" is only
three months old. Is there anything the U.S. can learn from
the conflict in Sri Lanka? Can America head off 20
years of bloody suffering by looking for lessons in
Sri Lanka? Can the Israeli-Palestinian conflict
be resolved?

I work with Sarvodaya, a 40-year-old self-help development
organization based on Gandhian and Buddhist principles.
In my time in Sri Lanka, I've learned a few things that
can be applied to a "war on terrorism":

1. The war could go on forever. Violence never resolves
2. What each side says about the other is true. What they
say about themselves is not. Help both sides understand
that their actions are part of the problem, and that all
sides, including "the enemy," are part of the solution.

Read all 10 of Abdullah's "lessons," with commentary:


B o o m e r a n g

Denise Bennett of Richmond, Virginia, wrote:

I enjoyed Danny Duncan Collum's reflections [SojoMail
12/9/01] on the Harry Potter craze and raising children
with little video influence. We got rid of the
television 10 years ago on Ash Wednesday when we
planned initially to just give it up for Lent. But after
the 40 days had passed, we found that we didn't miss
it in the least, so we've lived "TV free" ever since.
As a result we all read voraciously, both separately and
as a family. Our two sons, along with my husband and I,
have taken many wonderful journeys from London to
Hogwarts, through Middle Earth and other locations.
We're presently traveling through Narnia.
Yes, we've seen the Harry Potter movie and liked it, but
best of all was the lively discussion that came afterward
about how this or that episode was treated or this or that
character depicted. Our verdict of course: The book (and
our imagination) was better!

Linda Maloney of Saint Cloud, Minnesota, wrote:

I'm one of those who's not laughing at the Ashcroft-Santa
cartoons. What I really want to know is: who are the 1,000
(plus or minus) who have already disappeared into "custody,"
and who's next? How can we know who's being detained and
why? Will we find out by having our own "mothers of the
disappeared" marching in Times Square (or Cadillac Square)
with pictures of their missing sisters, brothers, fathers?

Perhaps it's time for church people to start a "surveillance"
campaign of their own, only I'd rather think of it as
protection: let's each choose a non-citizen neighbor or
neighbor family and check on them regularly, as we would
on an elderly relative, so if one of them, or someone close
to them, goes missing we can look for them before it's too


Chris Meyer of Altoona, Wisconsin, wrote:

I, a United States citizen, cannot condemn the Israelis
for their actions. My country has supplied them with the
means to destroy the people whose land they are stealing.

Isn't it about time the United States quit playing scrooge
to the Palestinians and really stepped up to the plate?
If the U.S. took the billion of dollars that it gives to
Israel each year as a blank check, and used it for
peacekeepers and an economic package for the Palestinians,
it could give the people of the Middle East the most
precious of gifts: a country of their own for the
Palestinians, and genuine peace and security for the
Israeli people.


Steve Heitzer of Innsbruck, Austria, wrote:

Re: your Ramadan fast. Pax Christi here in Tirol, Austria,
is carrying on its "a silent cry for peace" in the city of
Innsbruck every Tuesday from 6-7 p.m. We just stand and keep
silent around a torch and the image of a dove underlined
with "peace needs justice." A poster explains our action that
calls for an end to all violence.


Ned Breslin writes from Lichinga, Mozambique:

I am an American working for a British development charity
in northern Mozambique. My family and I live in Lichinga,
the provincial capital of Niassa Province. Lichinga is a
Muslim community.
I read Joe Laconte's brief submission to SojoMail [12/12/01]
criticizing SojoMail for raising the point that the U.S.
military is now a hindrance to humanitarian efforts in
Afghanistan. He raises the typical response we have heard
from the start of this campaign - the problem is not with
the U.S. but with the Taliban.

What saddened me most about Joe Laconte's submission was
the notion that "Sojourners should devote as much energy
exposing the inhumane tactics of the Taliban." I cannot
speak on behalf of Sojourners, but the international
development community has spoken about the atrocities
committed by the Taliban since 1996, when the U.S. for one
was taken by surprise when they assumed power. The U.S.
clapped nervously, suggested that maybe the Taliban
would be a breath of fresh air from the horrors
perpetuated by the leaders of the time (or allies now)
and then turned their backs on Afghanistan once again.
Where were all these defenders of women in Afghanistan
before September 11?  Where was the U.S. and other
defenders of "liberty and freedom" when international
development organizations and interest groups like the
Feminist Majority Foundation, OXFAM, and the International
Red Cross spoke of the horrors that were unfolding in
Afghanistan? Many of us knew about and peacefully fought
against the Taliban long before most Americans could
spell Afghanistan, or find it on a map.


Dale Dressler, director of the Merom Conference Center
in Indiana, wrote:

In this time of heightened patriotism, I have been receiving
emails and Web links from an eclectic group of people. From
confederate flag wavers to the editors of SojoMail. The
common thread has been the protection of our freedoms. The
freedoms that our founders, our soldiers, our citizens have
given their lives to secure and protect. If protecting those
freedoms means protecting the civil rights of a suspected
terrorist and that suspected terrorist ultimately takes my
life or the life of someone I love it is no less of a price
to pay for freedom than those who have died on battlefields
from the revolutionary war to the towers of New York City.


Dan Rocheleau Sarnia of Ontario, Canada, wrote:

I had hoped, from what we saw initially after Sept. 11
and the response of the international community, that
perhaps we would witness a philosophical change in the
minds of the American administration about how the nations
of the world can work together for the benefit of us all.
Unfortunately, it is becoming clearer all the time that
nothing really has changed - it's 'our way or the highway.'
There really is only ONE power in the world - stars and
stripes forever! Sorry cousin, but I just can't buy it.


Boomerang is an open forum for all kinds of
views. The views expressed are not necessarily
those of Sojourners. Want to make your voice
heard? Send Boomerang e-mails to the editor:




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C u l t u r e  W a t c h
Announcing the P.U.-Litzer Prizes for 2001

The P.U.-litzer Prizes were established by the media
watchdog group "Fairness and Accuracy in Reporting"
a decade ago to give recognition to the stinkiest
media performances of the year. A few whiffs:

Winner: Jonathan Alter of Newsweek
In the Nov. 5 edition, under the headline "Time to Think
About Torture," Alter wrote: "In this autumn of anger,
even a liberal can find his thoughts turning to...torture.
OK, not cattle prods or rubber hoses, at least not here in the
United States, but something to jump-start the stalled
investigation of the greatest crime in American history....
Some people still argue that we needn't rethink any of our
old assumptions about law enforcement, but they're hopelessly
'Sept. 10' - living in a country that no longer exists."

Winner: Panama City News Herald
An October internal memo from the daily in Panama City,
Florida, warned its editors: "DO NOT USE photos on Page 1A
showing civilian casualties from the U.S. war on Afghanistan.
Our sister paper...has done so and received hundreds and
hundreds of threatening e-mails.... DO NOT USE wire stories
which lead with civilian casualties from the U.S. war on
Afghanistan. They should be mentioned further down in the
story. If the story needs rewriting to play down the
civilian casualties, DO IT."

Find more "winners" at:


W e b   S c e n e

*Muslims against terrorism

Check out the beautiful design of this Web site! Muslims
Against Terrorism was founded in the wake of 9/11 by a
group of young American Muslims. They stand against all
forms of terrorism, and seek to increase understanding
about the true teachings of Islam.


*Increase your understanding of the Arab world

This Web site put out by The Council for the Advancement
of Arab-British Understanding offers excellent updates
on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, as well as more
general economic and political issues that impact Arab
relationships with the UK and the West. A free, daily news-
clipping service of the UK press is highly recommended.


*The latest Congressional email addresses

"Contacting the Congress" is a very up-to-date database of
congressional contact information for the 107th Congress.
As of November 26, 2001, there are 528 email addresses (of
which 247 are Web-based email homepages), and 535 web
pages known for the 540 members of the 107th Congress.


*Elephant polo

Those who like their sporting events larger than life
might like reading about this form of competition,
which began in Nepal. The photos of pachyderm-riding
players alone are worth the visit.


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