We’ve heard the question, as have pastors around the country: Where is God in the death and devastation that struck September 11? One clergyman reported that a New Yorker who noticed his clerical collar stopped him on the street to ask exactly that shortly after the World Trade Center towers collapsed.
We want a word from God. When, before our eyes, hijacked airplanes crash into buildings, and the towers of the World Trade Center plunge to the ground snuffing out thousands of lives, when evil suddenly and irrevocably transcends the limits of what we have assumed is possible, we desperately seek to know what God intends for us.
Two follies, both with track records, were on full display at the recent United Nations conference on racism held in Durban, South Africa: Arab and Islamic states persisted in their misguided effort to brand Zionism as inherently racist, and the U.S. again demonstrated that its commitment to international negotiation is at best nominal.
With the horrifying results of Palestinian car bombings and suicidal bombers regularly displayed in newspapers and on television, Americans are not likely to associate “nonviolent protest” with the Palestinian cause. But in fact nonviolent protest has been and continues to be the Palestinians’ primary weapon.
The word courtship and the idea of it—a prescribed process of getting to know someone in preparation for marriage—is virtually archaic. The courting rituals that members of the baby-boom generation still enacted or endured have largely disappeared. Young people no longer live with expectations about male initiative and female reticence.
Mubarak Awad, a Greek Orthodox Catholic influenced by Quakers and Mennonites, could have become the Palestinian Gandhi. After his father was killed by Jewish freedom fighters in 1948, his mother taught her children to turn the other cheek. In 1983 Awad opened the Palestinian Center for the Study of Nonviolence in Jerusalem, with the aim of fomenting mass nonviolent resistance to Israeli occupation. His peaceful efforts got him kicked out of the country in 1988. He now teaches nonviolence at American University. He remains optimistic about the prospects of nonviolent resistance in the Middle East, but fears the current conflict between Israel and Gaza is driving more people into the extremist camp (Newsweek, August 11).