Wonderful Ukrainians

It is amazing how in the short space of a week it is possible to feel so much love, hope and
affection for people that you have never met before.  I met many great people during this past week at the YMCA Youth Unify camp in Poland and was most deeply moved through the immense privilege of getting to know an amazing group of people from YMCA Ukraine – specifically Kiev, Lutsk, Odessa and Kharkiv.  They really ambushed me with their friendship and encouragement.  I wish to use this blog post for two simple reasons:

  1. To honour their faithfulness to their nation, the YMCA and, most importantly, to God.  They work tirelessly in their home towns sacrificing time, money and man
    y other things to serve young people.  Their hunger to understand and know Christ is inspiring.  Love and humility just pours out of them.
  2. To call you to pray for the nation of Ukraine which remains in the midst of such violence and a heartbreaking war.  This video shows four of the volunteers from YMCA Ukraine sing a haunting prayer for the peace of their nation. You may wish to use the song as a tool to lead you into praying for the peace of Ukraine.

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A short comment on the Gaza conflict

I think one thing we have to understand is that it is the politicians that are screwing over the citizens of Palestine and Israel.  Hamas, Israeli government, US, UK, all other silent western governments are ABSOLUTELY HAPPY to see war and destruction so long as they have their own personal gain. I urge you not to take a political side or support a political ideology.

The ONLY way forward is reconciliation between people.

Racism and Propaganda

Just a quick post with a couple of examples of the huge mountain of propaganda and racism that stands between the people of Israel and Palestine and a peaceful co-existence.

  1. The first example is a story recently published in Israel’s oldest daily newspaper.  It describes how Israelis (who are occupying Palestinian land) have persuaded the army to prevent Palestinians (with legal work permits) to board the same buses as them and there are plans for the Palestinians to be provided with separate buses.  This should really set alarm bells ringing – have we seen segregation on public transport anywhere before?  See the report here.
  2. The second example is a shocking report by an Israeli organisation that observe the messages that Palestinian children receive from their media.  Palestinian Media Watch report that during the 8 day conflict Hamas broadcast disturbing ideological messages to the people of Gaza, the tamest of which is ‘Killing Jews is worship that draws us close to Allah.’  If you’re interested in the full report click here.

There’s a long way to go to genuine peace and genuine justice…..

Ceasefire to Reconciliation

I am encouraged by the ceasefire agreement between Israel and Palestine last night. It is admirable that both parties agreed and seem to be adhering. However, without a doubt there will be aggression from Hamas factions at some point and there will be many reasons, some honourable and some shameful, for Israel to retaliate.

Obama promised to invest further in Israel’s ‘Iron Dome’ defence system. Wrong answer Barack! You don’t fight this seemingly unfathomable hate with military might. ANY kid could see that and it is time for all interested parties to recognise this.

The only way to swim against the flow of unforgiveness, retaliation and misunderstanding is to invest extravagantly in facilitating reconciliation.

Surely the place to pump resources is in the next generation of Israelis and Palestinians. Programmes should be facilitated that enable children on both sides to grow up with an understanding of and affection for their neighbour. Mixed summer camps, visits across the borders etc. so the next generation have genuine friendships with one another.

At some point this ceasefire will fail. There will be more rockets and power games in coming years. But in 20 years time can there be peace? I believe so, but only if the 20-40 year olds in 20 years time know the bigger picture and know their human brothers and sisters across the border.

It’s not cricket

It started off something like 15-0, then 69-3 and today it’s 152-5. It’s not England’s latest Test innings against India. It’s the Palestinian/Israeli death count in the Middle East and I must confess I find myself looking out for the latest totals in a similar way I might look out for football scores or the progress of a cricket match.

The dangerous thing about statistics like this is that we can too easily use them to prove an argument or to grab attention but they deflect from the human suffering on both sides. The fact that ‘only’ 5 Israeli’s had died up to a certain point dismisses the shattering effect each of those deaths will have on parents, siblings, sons, daughters and communities as a whole.

The politicians and leaders (on both sides) take ‘strong’ action to show their strength and impress their voters but seemingly do not consider human life as precious as the state of their own grip on power.

I must have heard only a handful of names of those who have died. If their stories were publicised as much as headline grabbing figures then maybe more of us would grasp the terrible human cost to this conflict.

Israeli solider assaults Danish protester

This video clip really does not surprise me in the least…

http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2012/apr/16/israeli-soldier-clubs-danish-protester

Will the solider now face criminal proceedings?  And why are Israel tightening their borders to peaceful protesters?  As the victim suggests when interviewed afterwards, the evidence in this video is the tip of the iceberg of Israeli violence against innocents.