The Common Good

The Shehada Assassination

Sojomail - July 31, 2002


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++++++++++++++++++++++ 31-July-2002 +++++++++++++++++++++++++
+++++++++++++++ The Shehada Assassination +++++++++++++++++++

 Q u o t e   o f   t h e   W e e k
     *God's firm hold

 P o l i t i c a l l y   C o n n e c t
     *Rabbi Arthur Waskow on the Shehada assassination

 B y   t h e   N u m b e r s
     *Demographics of the Occupied Territories

 C u l t u r e   W a t c h
     *Are smart people overrated?

 F u n n y   B u s i n e s s
     *Buy stock or beer?

 H e a r i n g   t h e   C a l l
     *Wallis urges Congress not to blame the poor for poverty

 R e l i g i o n   &   S o c i e t y
     *Religious riots loom over Indian politics

 S o u l   W o r k s
     *Mahatma Gandhi: Conserving your anger

 B u i l d i n g   a   M o v e m e n t
     *Break the silence about nuclear weapons on August 3, 6

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

 W e b s c e n e
     *Literary treasures in the Catacombs
     *Discover your inner plastic
     *Snapshots of life in the USA

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

"Faith becomes the one wholly inflexible ground for
resistance to violence, precisely because it teaches
us how to face death - not in excited expectation of
reward, but in the sober letting-go of our fantasies
in the sure hope that a faithful God holds us firmly in
life and death alike. This is the hope that allows us
to recognise power for what it is and isn't: As what
is given us for the setting-free of each other, not
as the satisfying of our passion for control."

            - Rowan Williams, appointed the 104th
              Archbishop of Canterbury on July 23


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P o l i t i c a l l y   C o n n e c t

(Jim Wallis is on vacation with his family. Our guest column this week is by Rabbi Arthur Waskow).

The lightning flash
by Rabbi Arthur Waskow

The events of last week in Gaza, Israel, and Washington are like a lightning storm that illumines very deep issues in the current agony of the Israeli and Palestinian peoples. Every day, some new lightning flash dispels the shadows around an additional aspect of this event.

When the lightning keeps flashing, it is wise to notice where it is landing.

From articles that have appeared in the Israeli press (especially by a veteran reporter for Yediot Akhronot, a right-of-center large-circulation paper) we have learned that last Monday, July 22, intense negotiations among various Palestinian militias - including some like Tanzim that had resorted to terrorist mass murders - had resulted in an agreement to halt all attacks against Israeli civilians.

We know that Hamas' top leader had also publicly moved in this direction. We have also learned (from the Saturday, July 27, Philadelphia Inquirer) that the U.S. had persuaded Saudi Arabia to cut off all money to Hamas unless it agreed to this.

We know that as of the afternoon/evening of the 22nd, the Israeli government knew all these facts.

We know that for months, the Israeli government had targeted Sheikh Shehada for assassination because of his role in planning terrorist attacks (and because the Palestinian Authority had refused to arrest him for trial by Israel for these murders), but had held off (according to Israeli government statements) because they could not be certain of avoiding killing civilians.

And we know that at midnight that night, 90 minutes after Tanzim had committed themselves to cease bombings, with an agreement scheduled to be published in Israeli, Palestinian, and U.S. papers within a few days, the Israeli military dropped a bomb on Gaza, aimed at Shehada.

We know this bomb was dropped on an apartment complex at midnight, and was almost certain to kill civilians. Indeed, it killed 15 civilians (mostly sleeping children) and shattered the agreement reached that very evening by the Tanzim.

The question gets more and more stark, the possible answers more and more horrifying:

Why, after what the Israeli government says were months of shadowing Shehada and not killing him to avoid killing civilians, did the Israeli government order him killed when it was 99% certain to mean the killing of civilians nearby?

Was the reason that the Sharon government was desperate to shatter the impending cease-fires lest they force Israel into a peace negotiation moving toward a viable Palestine alongside Israel?

Was it because the Sharon government is uninterested in a peace agreement with a Palestinian state and wants total control of all territory west of the Jordan and the destruction of all efforts at Palestinian self-government and possible statehood?

The Israeli government has said since the bombing it had no expectation the cease-fire commitment would matter. But now we know that with the Saudi cash in jeopardy, there was very good reason to think that indeed it might matter.

So - did the Sharon government do this bombing because it had no hope that the new agreement would matter (but then why, after months of waiting, rush to attack?); or despite the likelihood it would shatter a serious step toward ending violence; or BECAUSE it was likely to shatter that effort?

Does the Sharon government care about Israeli civilian lives? Or does it see Israelis eating pizza at Sbarro's as "troops" who must die if necessary to serve General Sharon's vision that Israel can control the whole West Bank/Gaza and shatter every vestige of Palestinian nationalism?

What would such a total-control policy do to the future of Israel, the Jewish people, the Palestinian and other Arab peoples, the world as a whole?

What should Americans - Jews, Christians, Muslims - do in the light of this lightning flash?

Precisely because in the Middle East religion has been so often mobilized for war, is this not the moment for an effort to gather an alliance of Jews, Christians, and Muslims to bring deep changes in U.S. policy toward action for peace between a viable Palestine and a secure Israel?

Rabbi Arthur Waskow is author of Godwrestling: Round 2 and director of The Shalom Center, a North American network committed to drawing on Jewish wisdom, old and new, in order to pursue peace, justice, and the healing of the earth.


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B y   t h e   N u m b e r s
Demographics of the Occupied Territories

****West Bank

Population: 2.45 million

Ethnic groups: Palestinian/Arab: 83%
               Jewish: 17%

Religions: Muslim (mostly Sunnis): 75%
           Jews: 17%
           Christian/Other: 8%

****Gaza Strip

Population: 1.1 million

Ethnic groups: Palestinian/Arab: 99.4%
               Jewish: 0.6%

Religions:     Muslim (mostly Sunnis): 98.7%
               Christian/Other: 0.7%
               Jews: 0.6%

****Golan Heights

Population: 38,200

Ethnic groups: Jewish: 52%
               Arab: 48%

Religions: Jews:           52%
           Druze (Muslim): 43%
           Alawis (Muslim): 5%

Source: San Francisco Chronicle (4/30/02)


C u l t u r e   W a t c h
The talent myth: Are smart people overrated?

by Malcolm Gladwell

Five years ago, several executives at McKinsey & Company, America's largest and most prestigious management-consulting firm, launched what they called the War for Talent. Thousands of questionnaires were sent to managers across the country. Eighteen companies were singled out for special attention, and the consultants spent up to three days at each firm, interviewing everyone from the C.E.O. down to the human- resources staff. McKinsey wanted to document how the top-performing companies in America differed from other firms in the way they handle matters like hiring and promotion. But, as the consultants sifted through the piles of reports and questionnaires and interview transcripts, they grew convinced that the difference between winners and losers was more profound than they had realized. "We looked at one another and suddenly the light bulb blinked on," the three consultants who headed the project - Ed Michaels, Helen Handfield-Jones, and Beth Axelrod - write in their new book, also called "The War for Talent."

The very best companies, they concluded, had leaders who were obsessed with the talent issue. They recruited ceaselessly, finding and hiring as many top performers as possible. They singled out and segregated their stars, rewarding them disproportionately, and pushing them into ever more senior positions. "Bet on the natural athletes, the ones with the strongest intrinsic skills," the authors approvingly quote one senior General Electric executive as saying. "Don't be afraid to promote stars without specifically relevant experience, seemingly over their heads." Success in the modern economy, according to Michaels, Handfield-Jones, and Axelrod, requires "the talent mind-set": the "deep-seated belief that having better talent at all levels is how you outperform your competitors."

But did it turn out to be a myth? Find out more at:

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F u n n y   B u s i n e s s
Buy stock or beer?

If you had bought $1,000 worth of Nortel stock one year ago, it would now be worth $49.

If you had bought $1,000 worth of beer one year ago, drank all the beer, then traded in the cans at a redemption center for the nickle deposit, you would have $107.

Given the current conditions of the economy, my advice is to drink beer and recycle.


H e a r i n g   t h e   C a l l
Wallis urges Congress not to blame the poor for poverty

Jim Wallis, president of the faith-based anti-poverty group Call to Renewal, said the last time Congress reauthorized welfare payments in 1996, many lawmakers "pinned failures (of former welfare law) on the poor themselves." That should have no place in this year's debate, he said. To read the entire article, link to:


R e l i g i o n   &   S o c i e t y
Religious riots loom over Indian politics

by Celia Dugger

Here in the adopted hometown of Mohandas K. Gandhi, the great apostle of nonviolence, Hindu mobs committed acts of unspeakable savagery against Muslims this spring.

To read the entire feature, link to [free reg. required]:


S o u l   W o r k s
Conserving your anger

I have learned through bitter experience the one supreme
lesson to conserve my anger, and as heat conserved is
transmuted into energy, even so our anger controlled can
be transmuted into a power that can move the world.

                         - Mahatma Gandhi


B u i l d i n g   a   M o v e m e n t
Break the silence about nuclear weapons on August 3, 6

Livermore Lab is celebrating its 50th anniversary with the slogan: "Making History. Making a Difference." Under contract to the University of California, the Livermore and Los Alamos Labs have designed and tested every nuclear weapon in the U.S. arsenal. That work is still going on today. The Nuclear Posture Review identifies new scenarios in which the U.S. might use nuclear weapons, and "advanced weapons concept teams" have been established at the Labs to dream up "more useable" nuclear weapons.

Saturday, August 3, 2002, starting at 11 a.m.
Gather at Carnegie Park, Fourth & J Streets, downtown Livermore for a day of speakers and music.

Tuesday, August 6, (anniversary of the day the U.S. dropped an atomic bomb on Hiroshima), for a vigil at Livermore Lab's West Gate (on Vasco Road near East Avenue).

MORE INFORMATION: Livermore Conversion Project: (510) 663-8065; Tri-Valley CAREs: (925) 443-7148; Western States Legal Foundation: (510) 839-5877.

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B o o m e r a n g

Nancy Buchan, assistant professor of marketing at the University of Wisconsin, writes:

Thank you so much for your weekly e-mail. It's food for the mind and the soul. I really appreciate it - and recently I learned how much. My husband, Mark, is a Lutheran pastor and recently the little town where he is now serving held an ecumenical service. The Sunday happened to follow the 4th of July and the pastor from the Assemblies of God church gave the sermon. Although I have occasional discussions with people who are fundamentalist and on the radical right of Christianity, I have never been subjected to listening (without the ability to respond) to a 40-minute diatribe. The sermon started with the statement that America is the richest and greatest country in the world because we are Christian, and that poor countries are lost in a morass of immorality and their populations will go to hell.

I was so shaken and angered by the sermon that I was crying the whole way home, and have been ruminating on it since. In those first few days after the sermon my husband and I discussed the issue at length - and I often found myself lamenting that it's the radical right Christians who seem to be out in public and on the airwaves, and that unfortunately (and somewhat shamefully), those of us who are also Christian but have very different views often do not speak up. I kept wondering where's the Lutheran (for example) Jerry Falwell or Pat Robertson.

And then one night Mark and I remembered all the things I've been reading from SojoMail - and I honestly felt like I'd found my light in the darkness. Thank you so much for what you do. You have been my hope and strength.


Jack Lesniewski writes from San Pedro Carchá, Guatemala:

I had a bit of a delayed reaction to the Enron bit (news travels slowly to the hills of Guatemala). If a welfare mother "stealing" a few thousand from the welfare office to feed her children requires "fundamental reform of a broken system" (fill in the name of your favorite Contract with America signer) than why does an Enron, Worldcom, or whatever executive stealing millions or even billions just require "tougher enforcement of existing laws?" Just wondering....


Lee Alley writes from London, England:

When Mao Xedong was asked his opinion on whether the French Revolution was a good or a bad thing, he replied, "'s too soon to tell." This might be a good thing to keep in mind when one reads Jim Wallis ["Robbery with a Fountain Pen," SojoMail 7/17/02]: "...the tree of the American economy is rooted in the toxic soil of unbridled materialism, a culture which extols greed, a false standard of values which puts short-term profits over societal health...."

Hmmm, maybe, maybe not. True, some business executives have been criminal in their actions lately, and corporate cultures of some companies inculcate less than the best attitude toward proper fiduciary behavior, but not all are or do. Maybe Mr. Wallis is just a wee bit over the top here. I'm no lover of Microsoft but their chairman has led the way creating a fund that's gathered over 10 times the amount for health aid for the Third World than the paltry $2 billion world governments have stumped up. What kind of world would it be if there weren't free, universal access for rich and poor alike to great collections of art, etc., through funds donated by the Tates, Rockefellers, and Guggenheims of the world? If you remember, they were the horrible, greedy capitalists of their day. American universities (with the highest rate of access to minority and poor students anywhere in the world) would be the mediocre slums of state-run European higher education if not for the foundations established by the Carnegies, Vanderbilts, and rich businesspeople like them.

All I ask is that Mr. Wallis, and the Christian Left, please give credit where it's due, not just use the current mess to make a universal point.


Greg Bowman writes from Bally, Pennsylvania:

David Paterson's optimistic hopes for attaining "public virtue" by "harnessing privates vices" in a "well-regulated market" [Boomerang 7/24/02] are sadly misplaced, I fear. Economies based on personal need would be one thing. Personal greed is different.

In the name of stockholder profits, corporate leaders can take actions with hideous human and ecological consequences. Legally. Profitably. Until there is true democratic and community accountability for corporations, "regulations" are merely political compromises and smokescreens for externalizing negative impacts downwind and downstream, underground or into the atmosphere, or to powerless communities, or to the next generation.

Sorry, David. Maybe some day more Christian shareholders will take responsibility for their investment dollars, and seek common decency ahead of pension profit. Maybe some day lots more corporations will be truly born again to honestly account for the social and ecological well-being of their places, people, and products. Until then, the corporate system will reflect more of its captivity to private vice than to public virtue.


Jim Coffey writes from Dublin, Ireland:

Re: The potato patch joke...Palestinian? Israeli? The original farmer was a widow in Co. Kerry whose son was in a British jail, circa 1916.


Ken Thurow writes from Logan, Utah:

In regard to Yucca Mountain and nuclear storage [featured in last week's "Webscene"]...Part of the problem is the U.S. mindset that everything must be "disposable." The materials that will be stored at Yucca Mountain are still radioactive, a quality that was desired in their original application. I have read that in Western Europe, many of the materials we see as nuclear waste are reprocessed for further use. Why not here?


Shari Vogt writes from Madison, Wisconsin:

How interesting that Sarah Stockton's article, "The Creative Imperative," came out in SojoMail last week on the same day that my Web site launched! My site, Found Art, promotes a global art project in which people use their creative talents to create art to share with the world. Small pieces of art will be left in public places in hopes of bringing joy and hope and love to whomever find it.

If you'd like to see my site:


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:



W e b s c e n e
This week's best of the Web

*Literary treasures in the Catacombs

An online magazine at the junction of art, religion, and social transformation [Ed. note: Hey, that sounds like!]. Find poetry, interviews, art and essays...and an invitation to sumbit your own material. Link to:


*Discover your inner plastic

Want to know what you would like if you were a Lego figure? Stop wondering and visit ReasonablyClever. Choose a plastic block face, hair, arms, legs, and torso. And don't forget to accessorize with hats, tattoos, capes, musical instruments, sports equipment, and other fun stuff. If you're proud of your creation, you can save it to share it with friends, family, or random strangers. Parents who believe the virtual figures might be a bit too anatomically correct can launch the "Safe for Kids" version.


*Snapshots of life in the USA

Experience moments of life in the United States through a selected series of stirring photographs. Without staging or direction, these honest, slice-of-life images give us a fleeting glimpse into everyday life.


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