Meditation Focus #38
The Unrelenting Middle East Crisis and the Ever Greater Need for Peace
Web posted on May 12, 2001 for the 2 consecutive weeks
beginning Sunday, May 13, 2001
What follows is the 38th Meditation Focus suggested for the two consecutive weeks beginning Sunday, May 13, 2001.
THE UNRELENTING MIDDLE EAST CRISIS AND THE EVER GREATER NEED FOR PEACE
2. Meditation times
3. More information on this Meditation Focus
With every passing week, peace seems ever more elusive in the Middle East as news regularly break out about some new escalation in the continuing cycle of violence between Palestinians and Israelis. Despite some recent renewed efforts by the United States, Egypt and Jordan to rekindle the peace process, the hopes of a historic agreement nurtured during the waning days of the previous U.S. administration appear more and more unrealistic against the backdrop of daily confrontation of the new Palestinian uprising which the Sharon government seeks to quell with ever more ferocity and fire power. The demons of war agitate the minds of millions of people caught in the emotional turbulence of desperation, fear and hate hovering like a dark swirling cloud over the whole Middle East area and stirring ever more violent actions and words that could very well lead to a much wider armed conflict if no counteracting measures were taken and no counterbalancing throught-forms were emitted by the caretakers of Peace worldwide. Never has the need for Peace been greater and never has the determination of the Forces of Light been so essential in averting the incalculable loss of lives and unacceptable evolutionary step back that a new Middle East war, and even a possibly larger conflict, would cause in the carefully planned awakening and surging ahead of our world towards a new era of Light, Peace and Harmony.
Please rededicate your prayers and meditations, as guided by Spirit, in the coming two weeks to help open the door onto a new spirit of mutual understanding, mutually beneficial tolerance and mutually reinforcing assistance in the hearts and minds of everyone directly concerned with the Middle East situation, so as to foster the cocreation of peace, security and stability in this region, for the Highest Good of All.
2. MEDITATION TIMES
i) Global Meditation Day: Sunday at 16:00 Universal Time (GMT) or at noon local time. Suggested duration: 30 minutes.
ii) Golden Moment of At-Onement: Daily, at the top of any hour, or whenever it better suits you.
These times below are currently corresponding to 16:00 Universal Time/GMT:
Honolulu 6:00 AM -- Anchorage * 8:00 AM -- Los Angeles * 9:00 AM -- Mexico City, San Salvador & Denver * 10:00 AM -- Houston * & Chicago * 11:00 AM -- Santo Domingo, La Paz, Caracas, New York *, Toronto *. Montreal *, Asuncion & Santiago 12:00 AM -- Halifax *, Rio de Janeiro & Montevideo 1:00 PM -- Reykjavik & Casablanca 4 PM -- Lagos, Algiers, London *, Dublin * & Lisbon * 5:00 PM -- Jerusalem, Johannesburg, Geneva *, Rome *, Berlin *, Paris * & Madrid * 6:00 PM -- Ankara *, Athens *, Helsinki * & Istanbul * & Nairobi 7:00 PM -- Baghdad *, Moscow * 8:00 PM -- Tehran * 8:30 PM -- Islamabad 9:00 PM -- Calcutta & New Delhi 9:30 PM -- Dhaka 10:00 PM -- Rangoon 10:30 PM -- Hanoi, Bangkok & Jakarta 11:00 PM -- Hong Kong, Perth, Beijing & Kuala Lumpur +12:00 PM -- Seoul & Tokyo +1:00 AM -- Brisbane, Canberra & Melbourne +2:00 AM -- Wellington +4:00 AM
+ means the place is one day ahead of Universal Time/Greenwich Mean Time.
* means the place is observing daylight saving time (DST) at the moment.
You may also check at http://www.timeanddate.com/worldclock/full.html to find your current corresponding local time if a closeby city is not listed above.
3. MORE INFORMATION ON THIS MEDITATION FOCUS
This section is for those who wish to understand in more details the situation outlined in this Meditation Focus. For those who wish to read on, we would encourage you to view the following information from a positive perspective, and not allow the details to tinge the positive vision you wish to hold in meditation. Since what we focus on grows, the more positive our mindset, the more successful we will be in manifesting a vision of healing. We provide the details below because we recognize that the knowledge of what needs healing can assist us to structure our awareness to maximise our healing effect.
Mideast Killings Highlight a Growing Crisis Over Settlements (May. 09, 2001)
Deaths of two Israeli teens and a Palestinian baby increases focus on U.S. alarm over Sharon's support for Israeli enclaves
A four-month old Palestinian girl's life blasted away by an Israeli tank shell in a Gaza refugee camp; two fresh-faced Israeli adolescents found stoned to death and mutilated in a cave near Bethlehem
The savagery of the violent Israeli-Palestinian stalemate in the West Bank and Gaza appeared to be escalating this week, with every new outrage fueling the fires of revenge and reaffirming in their own minds, at least each sides claim to the righteousness of letting their weapons do the negotiating. Peace, right now, is a fantasy of yesteryear, and each new lifeless child committed to the contested ground of the West Bank and Gaza pushes it a little further beyond reach.
And while the eye-for-an-eye blood feud escalates on the ground, Washington is growing increasingly alarmed at the inability of the region's political leaders to bring the violence under control. In part, that is because the flash-point of that violence is fast becoming become the network of Israeli settlements dotted throughout the West Bank and Gaza, built after those lands were captured by Israel in the war of 1967. Palestinian militants have begun to make the settlements the focus of their mortar and shooting attacks, and when Yasser Arafat has under pressure from Washington called for an end to such attacks, he has simply been ignored. The settlements are an appealing target for the militants not only because are they universally hated by Palestinians as the product of confiscation under the power of occupation, but also because even Israel's closest ally the United States has little sympathy for the policy of settling Israelis in the West Bank and Gaza. Indeed, many Israelis themselves have little truck with the desire of the settlers, who are mostly motivated by religious or nationalist passions, to live in these predominantly Palestinian territories. Indeed, the future of the settlements had been subject to Israeli-Palestinian negotiation in the now-defunct Oslo peace process.
A champion of the settlers
But while his predecessor was prepared to negotiate away many of the settlements, Prime Minister Ariel Sharon has historically been a fierce advocate of the settlement movement for both security and ideological reasons. And on Tuesday he flatly rejected Washington's call to freeze settlement activity as one of the requirements for a cease-fire with Palestinians. Sharon built his political career in large part as a champion of the settlers, and although he accepted a freeze on building new settlements as a condition for getting the Labor Party into his unity government, he is committed to an aggressive expansion of existing settlements (Israeli media reported Tuesday that Sharon was planning to spend $350 million expanding existing settlements). The news set off alarm bells in Washington, because though there are plenty of reasons for doubting whether Yasser Arafat has either the political will or the capacity to rein in Palestinian militants, it is a relative certainty that no cease-fire will even be signed without Israel agreeing to some form of settlement freeze.
Conflict between a Bush administration and a Likud Party-led government over settlements certainly has a familiar ring the same issue provoked a public fallout between the first Bush administration and the government of Yitzhak Shamir, in which Washington threatened to withhold financial aid if Israel went ahead with settlement construction. This time around, both sides will be inclined to fight shy of a public confrontation, but there will inevitably be some tough diplomatic bargaining behind closed doors.
A growing gulf
This week's killings, though, are a reminder that resolving the settlement standoff may be getting harder all the time the more settlers are killed and maimed, the more difficult it becomes for Sharon to sell any compromise on settlement activity to his own supporters. And in the absence of any resumption of political negotiations, Arafat may have a hard time finding the will or the political authority to curb attacks on the settlers. Then again, the settlements are only one of a number of issues on which the gulf between the two sides has grown considerably since last year's Camp David talks. The only certainty, now, is that many more men, women and children will die on both sides as the Israelis and Palestinians try to wear down each other's resistance by attrition. And the most chilling fact of all may be that the hard men on both sides believe that time is on their side.
In the Mideast, the Taste for Peace Appears Fleeting (Friday, May. 11, 2001)
As violence intensifies between Israelis and Palestinians, ominous signs that peace may have been merely a pause in the natural state of affairs between the two peoples
For the first few months of the current intifada, it seemed possible to imagine the violence as an alarming interruption in the ongoing Israeli-Palestinian peace process. But after eight months of bitter fighting that has left Israelis and Palestinians more intractably divided than ever, it appears that the peace process itself may have been a short-lived interim in an epic conflict. Fierce fighting throughout the West Bank and Gaza on Friday and for most of the past week underscored the fact that, almost eight months into the current uprising, the two sides appear further than ever from reaching a truce, much less from concluding any sort of political agreements. Palestinian militants continue to fire mortars and rifles at Israeli positions and settlements, and Israel this week intercepted a shipment of weapons bound for Gaza from Lebanon, which included Katyusha rockets and surface-to-air missiles, and told the Israeli media they believe at least two such shipments got through before this one. In other words, Israel is bracing for a serious escalation of Palestinian guerrilla actions. And Israeli military sources warned Friday that the Fatah movement of their erstwhile negotiating partner Yasser Arafat, as well as his security and bodyguard detachments, were now considered enemy forces by Israel. Incursions by Israeli forces into areas formally under the jurisdiction of Arafat's Palestinian Authority, which were unprecedented a month ago, now occur almost daily, along with rocket strikes on Palestinian Authority installations. And yet the Palestinian militants appear undeterred, continuing a relentless campaign of attacks against Israelis.
On both sides, the strategy appears to be a war of attrition: The Israelis want to make the cost of continuing the uprising unbearable for Palestinians; the Palestinian militants want to make the cost of maintaining an Israeli military and settler presence in the West Bank and Gaza unbearable for the Israelis. And this trial of strength creates something of a long-term political crisis for leaders on all sides:
- Israelis have rallied behind Prime Minister Ariel Sharon's promises of tough measures to restore
security. But while the measures get tougher, the security menace to daily life in Israel and
particularly on its settlements in the West Bank and Gaza shows little sign of abating. A low-key
state of war is once again becoming a way of life for the Jewish State, and that may take a heavy toll on its morale after the optimism of the '90s.
- Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat's political authority has derived, in large part, from his promise that the peace process would end Israeli control over the West Bank and Gaza. But now that the intifada has eclipsed the peace process, his relevance is under threat. Already, a number of calls made by Arafat under pressure from Washington to curb Palestinian attacks have been
ignored, even flouted, by his followers. Arafat may be politically unable to embrace a cease-fire if its terms make the sacrifices his intifada has demanded of ordinary Palestinians over the past eight
months seem worthless. And while the Israelis constantly promise to ease the load on ordinary
Palestinians and isolate the militants, such promises have meant very little on the ground, where
poverty, rage and despair continues to drive Palestinians into the arms of Hamas, Hizballah and other forces more radical than Arafat.
- The continuing uprising is a domestic political nightmare for both Jordan and Egypt, whose
regimes are coming under growing pressure from a citizenry enraged by images of carnage from
just across the border. It is in their urgent self-interest to calm the situation in the West Bank and Gaza, which is why they've been promoting a cease-fire plan with the Israelis, Palestinians,
Americans and Europeans. But there are few signs, thus far, that either the Israelis or the Palestinians are politically able to embrace its terms.
- The U.S. is growing increasingly concerned over the danger that an escalation in violence could
destabilize the region. The Bush administration has hoped to take a more stand-off approach to the region, but violence has escalated despite its calls for calm. In order to make a cease-fire possible, Washington has been leaning on the Palestinians to halt attacks on Israelis, and is growing more vocal in urging Israel to freeze settlement activity and ease the burden of daily life in the West Bank and Gaza. But thus far, theres been little progress on either front.
The sobering reality is that the events since last September have dramatically diminished not only the prospects for a return to peace negotiations, but also the appetite for it on either side. The Palestinian uprising has forged a unity among Israelis rarely seen outside of war-time, and they've lost all faith in negotiations with Arafat or any other Palestinian leader. Ideas such as a settlement freeze right now are dismissed as "rewarding violence," and the settlers are pressing the government for even harsher measures against Palestinians. Among Palestinians, too, nobody's talking about peace any more. And each new casualty on either side raises the political obstacles to the leaders returning to the negotiating table. The mutual hatred that Oslo was meant to bury may now be at an all time high.
Still, all is not lost. Peace and violence, of course, move in cycles in the Middle East. And while the peace cycle of the 1990s appears to have run its course, there's little doubt that eventually the two sides will tire of the increasingly bloody stalemate and start talking again. But that would require a winding down of the cycle of violence. And right now the signs are that it hasn't yet peaked.
US qualifies endorsement of Mitchell report (Saturday May 12)
The United States on Friday qualified its endorsement of the Mitchell commission report on violence between Israelis and Palestinians, saying there might be portions of the document it did not agree with. State Department spokesman Richard Boucher repeated praise for the report offered on Thursday by Secretary of State Colin Powell who said it could serve as the basis for a new Middle East peace initiative.
The Mitchell commission -- headed by former US senator and Northern Ireland mediator George Mitchell -- said Israel should halt all settlement building in the occupied Palestinian territories and refrain from using rubber bullets against unarmed demonstrators. The commission, set up in October to determine the causes of the ongoing Palestinian uprising, also highlighted the Palestinian Authority's failure to exercise proper control over its security forces.
U.S. Sees Hope, But More Die in Middle East Unrest (Friday May 11)
The Palestinians renewed criticism of Israel and slammed its missile strikes against Palestinian security targets on Thursday which injured 13 people following a Palestinian roadside bombing which killed two Romanian workers.
``It's very dangerous steps toward declaring war in the region and against the Palestinian people,'' parliamentary speaker Ahmed Korei said in a television interview. Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon has vowed to press on with raids and reprisals to quell the Palestinians' uprising against Israel's occupation in the West Bank and Gaza.
At least 410 Palestinians, 79 Israelis and 13 Israeli Arabs have been killed since the start of the Palestinian revolt.
Tension is unlikely to drop as Palestinians prepare for marches on May 15, the day they mark the creation of Israel in 1948 on parts of what had been the British mandate of Palestine. They remember the state's birth as the Nakba, or catastrophe.
Sheikh Ahmed Yassin, founder of the Islamic Hamas group which opposes interim peace deals with Israel, urged Arab and Muslim states to send more money and weapons for the uprising. ``We tell Arabs and Muslims that our people will not give up to the Israeli aggression. We need them to support us with money and weapons,'' Yassin told Reuters during a rally in Gaza.
Israel's military has asked for an extra $720 million to combat the uprising, but Finance Minister Silvan Shalom told reporters in London he could not make such a large allocation.
At the heart of the conflict are settlements built by Israel on land it occupied in the 1967 Middle East war. Settlements built on occupied land are illegal under international law. Sharon says he will build no new settlements but will continue construction work at ones that are already built. An opinion poll published on Friday showed a majority of Israelis would back a settlement freeze in return for a cease-fire with the Palestinians, whose uprising began after Sharon visited a Jerusalem shrine holy to both Muslims and Jews.
Syria Not Afraid of War With Israel (Friday May 11)
Analysis: Middle East's spiralling violence
By the strict legal definition it may not constitute open war as none has been formally declared. But in the context of the scale of the conflict over recent weeks and months, the latest escalation of violence in the West Bank and Gaza Strip must be close to the point where it must be called warfare. CLIP
Police clash with protesters in Jordan (Saturday, 12 May, 2001)
Israel's 'assassination policy'
CLIP - The policy has come in for criticism domestically and internationally. Human rights organisation Amnesty International has called the assassinations extra judicial killings. The policy has even been challenged in the Israeli high court.
All Israel/Occupied Territories related documents on the Amnesty International website:
FULL COVERAGE - MIDDLE EAST PEACE PROCESS
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