We live in
dark times, my friends, and the recent tragic violence in Lebanon is an
indication of just how dark things have become!
It is hard for us to conceive, from this distance, what it must have been
like for our sisters and brothers in Southern Lebanon, who endured a
month-long military bombardment! The carnage, the destruction, the misery
and the inhumanity have left none of us untouched, and yet ... we realise
that this is only a short chapter in a much larger and more miserable story
that has not yet reached its conclusion!
The immediate future is unknown, but the indications are in no way
encouraging. Somehow Israel has proclaimed its attack on Lebanon to be a
victory, while the USA continues to posture for an attack upon Iran. And
fuelling this insanity is an increasing amount of propaganda, coming from a
number of directions, depicting this conflict as a war between religions -
I'm not sure when this transformation happened, as in the case of the
attacks on both Lebanon and Gaza, the initial issues were reasonably clear.
Both conflicts concerned disputes over the integrity of territorial
boundaries and the release of prisoners - a total of three Israeli prisoners
on the one hand, and around 9,500 Palestinian prisoners, plus a number of
Lebanese prisoners, on the other.
These were the
issues. I'm not saying that they are easy issues to solve, but they are not
hard to understand. They are significant issues - politically and
historically - but they are not religious issues, except in so far as the
level of human abuse involved is an offence to all religions! How is it then
that the violence in the Middle East has become a war of religions? It is my
belief that the only explanation for this is that there must be some
powerful groups with a vested interest in dividing Islamic people from
Christians and Jews.
I believe it is deliberate, as the rhetoric and the propaganda and the way
the media has twisted events, even in this country, is just too
well-thought-through and too systematic to be the result of a simple
I believe that there are forces at work - powerful and well-financed sources
at work - trying to divide Christian people from their Islamic sisters and
brothers, Christian from Moslem, Moslem from Christian, Moslem from Jew. And
the truth is that these forces are currently proving to be very successful.
As some of you will know, I run a number of websites, and have a number of
subscribers to my websites from all around the world, most especially from
the US - around 5000 in all. Every day, it seems, I receive emails from some
of the people on my mailing list, telling me that Moslems want to kill them!
Every day I receive these emails, and every day I write back: 'brother,
please tell me which of our Islamic brethren is trying to kill you? Brother,
do you actually know any Islamic people? If so, have you asked them why they
want to kill you?'
The answer I get back is always basically the same: 'no, I don't personally
know any Islamic people, but I have been reading a lot about Osama Bin
'Brother', I reply, 'if we were Islamic, I think we would have much better
grounds for believing that the people of the West are trying to destroy us!
Afghanistan did not declare war on America. It was not Iraq that invaded the
US. It was not Lebanon nor Palestine that invaded Israel. And I personally
do not believe that Iran is about to initiate violence against anybody!'
Somehow everything has been twisted! Everything has been turned upside-down!
Israel, the most militarily aggressive country in the Middle East, is
somehow always seen as the victim. America, the most powerful country in the
world, is somehow seen as being terribly vulnerable to attack!
It is rhetoric, propaganda, a twisting of the facts, and a number of
downright lies that have brought us to this point. And we know full well
where this path is going to take us if we continue on it - into further
violence and bloodshed.
For this reason, I appeal to you tonight, my Islamic sisters and brothers,
to please resist the temptation to cut yourselves off from your Christian
friends. I ask this humbly, recognising that so many Moslem people in this
community feel themselves to be under siege and the victims of prejudice,
and for good reason. Even so, I ask you, please do not give up on us.
Please be patient with those amongst us that are struggling against the
weight of propaganda that is aimed at dividing us. Give us another chance,
so that we might stand with you against this violence and inhumanity that
threatens to engulf us all.
As I said, it is not our respective religions that led us into this
violence. Ironically though, I do believe that our common religious values
may be able to lead us out.
Christians, Moslems and Jews, at a faith level, are all ultimately committed
to peace - to peace and mutual respect. These are values that are sacred to
all of us. Perhaps some of us have forgotten this. With all the violence and
inhumanity, we have forgotten who we are and what we believe. Please
dialogue with us and help us to remember.
I was fascinated to read about some recent research done by a Professor Pape
of the University of Chicago in the US. The Professor did a detailed
profiling of Hezbollah suicide bombers, following the 1982 Israeli invasion
of Lebanon. What Pape found surprised many - namely, that out of 38 suicide
bombers he studied in detail, only 8 were Islamic. Three were Christians.
The vast majority, it seems were people of no faith. What united them was
not their common religion, but a common commitment to resist the occupation.
reminds me again that these wars are not about religion, and yet, as I read
about Christian and Islamic people working together there in violence, I
think, how much more should we be able to work together for peace - for the
rebuilding of Lebanon, for an end to the Palestinian occupation, and for an
end to all this bloodshed.
Salam Alaikum. Thank you for the hospitality you have shown me tonight.
Free Aticles Directory @
Father') Parish priest, community worker,martial arts master, pro boxer,
author, father of three. Get a free preview of Dave's book,Sex, the Ring &
the Eucharist when you subscribe to his newsletter at