Meditation Focus #77

Fostering Peace in the Middle East


What follows is the 77th Meditation Focus suggested for the two consecutive weeks beginning Sunday, December 8, 2002.


1. Summary
2. Meditation times
3. More information on this Meditation Focus
4. Famine and Peace Watch for Ethiopia


Once again the entire Middle East region is coming into sharp focus as an area where the fate of millions of people and possibly the prevalence of peace on Earth are in the balance. On the one hand, there are at long last some clear signs that the Palestinian population and many of their leaders are reconsidering the use of violence as a means to advance their cause and growing wary of the ever increasing military pressure and retaliations of the Israeli army against them. On the Israeli side, an alternative to the radical policies of the Likud government led by Ariel Sharon has appeared with the selection, in preparation for Israel's Jan. 28 election, of a new dovish political leader for the Labour Party, Amram Mitzna, who has promised concessions and negotiations without conditions with the Palestinians, while the latest peace Plan proposed by Sharon who would have left only 40% of West Bank for the creation of a Palestinian state has been roundly rejected by everyone, although for differing reasons. It is still unclear whether the path of peace and non-violence will be chosen, along with new political leaders, and followed by a majority of people both in Israel and Palestine, but there is no denying that the winds of change are blowing towards the inevitable and only possible solution to this excruciatingly long conflict: a political settlement and a peaceful resolution leading to the long healing process necessary to establish the proper conditions for peace, harmony and love-based relationships in this long tormented area of our world.

Meanwhile, in neighboring Iraq, the renewed UN-led inspection process along with the formal declaration through a 12,000+ page dossier by the Iraqi authorities as to the reiteration of the non-existence of any weapons of mass destruction in this country have failed so far to give any ground for the launching of a military campaign by the U.S. and their British allies to disarm Iraq and install a new government through a complete military conquest and occupation of this country, a prospect that could mean the death of countless innocent civilians as weel as numerous and severe repercussions for the stability of the whole Middle East region. Likewise, it is still unclear whether averting a military conflict is entirely assured given the determination shown and pressures exerted by the U.S. government to get rid of Saddam Hussein and grab control of the considerable oil reserves of Iraq. But it is clear however that the whole world is closely scrutinizing the whole process and the moves of all parties involved and is hoping for a peaceful outcome.

Please dedicate your prayers and meditations, as guided by Spirit, in the coming two weeks, and especially in synchronous attunement at the usual time this and next week Sundays, to contribute in fostering peace in the entire Middle East region, with a specific focus on attenuating the distrust that has been for too long a determining element and the basis for so many decisions. May all parties involved seek the higher road of gradually building trust and extending forgiveness in a bid to create a Middle East with an entirely new face of balanced, peaceful coexistence, fairness and gentleness, as well as mutual respect and appreciation, for the benefit of all generations to come and for the Highest Good of All.

This whole Meditation Focus is also available at


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 now correspond to 16:00 Universal Time/GMT:

Honolulu 6:00 AM -- Anchorage 7:00 AM -- Los Angeles 8:00 AM -- Denver 9:00 AM -- San Salvador, Mexico City, Houston & Chicago 10:00 AM -- New York, Toronto & Montreal 11:00 AM -- Halifax, Santo Domingo, La Paz & Caracas 12:00 PM -- Montevideo, Asuncion * & Santiago * 1:00 PM -- Rio de Janeiro * 2:00 PM -- London, Dublin, Lisbon, Reykjavik & Casablanca 4:00 PM -- Lagos, Algiers, Geneva, Rome, Berlin, Paris & Madrid 5:00 PM -- Ankara, Jerusalem, Johannesburg, Athens, Helsinki & Istanbul 6:00 PM -- Baghdad, Moscow & Nairobi 7:00 PM -- Tehran 7:30 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 AM -- Seoul & Tokyo +1:00 AM -- Brisbane, Canberra & Melbourne +2:00 AM -- Wellington * +5:00 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 to find your current corresponding local time if a closeby city is not listed above.

3. More information on this Meditation Focus

This complement of information may help you to better understand the various aspects pertaining to the summary description of the subject of this Meditation Focus. It is recommended to view this information from a positive perspective, and not allow the details to tinge the positive vision we 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 peace and healing. This complementary information is provided so that a greater knowledge of what needs healing and peace-nurturing vibrations may assist us to have an in-depth understanding of what is at stake and thus achieve a greater collective effectiveness.



Many Palestinians Rethinking Violence (Dec 6)

RAMALLAH, West Bank (AP) - After more than two years of silence, a slowly swelling chorus of Palestinian leaders and opinion-makers says taking up arms against Israel was a mistake and must stop.

The latest voice is that of Jibril Rajoub, once the most powerful security chief in the West Bank. Rajoub now says he warned Yasser Arafat in a strategy session 10 days after the start of the uprising that allowing armed gangs to take over would lead to disaster.

Rajoub's forecast has proven chillingly accurate: 26 months later, nearly 2,000 Palestinians and nearly 700 Israelis are dead, the Palestinian economy is crushed, Israel has reoccupied the West Bank and Israeli travel bans have turned many Palestinian towns into virtual prison camps.

The criticism comes at a time when a possible war with Iraq looms, and as Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon fights for re-election against a dovish political newcomer, Amram Mitzna. But its main spur may be the signs the Palestinian public is tiring of the price it is paying for suicide bombings in Israel, and the hope of winning U.S. support in succeeding the embattled 73-year-old Arafat.

Washington has openly criticized Arafat's Palestinian Authority , blaming it in a document obtained this week by The Associated Press for failing to take steps to stop violence by Palestinian militants.

Palestinian debate about the uprising had been stifled for many reasons — Arafat's autocratic rule, fear of seeming disloyal and a belief that the evils of the Israeli occupation dwarf any Palestinian wrongdoing. Even now, critics of the armed uprising say the initial mass protests in the fall of 2000 were a justifiable expression of Palestinian anger over fruitless negotiations.

The debate now surfacing remains hesitant, and Arafat's aides say he is not about to take on the militant groups most likely to resist a letup in hostilities.

Whether the uprising was a spontaneous one that dragged Arafat along, or whether Arafat orchestrated it, as Israel claims, the Palestinian leader has paid dearly.

Repeated Israeli strikes have reduced his compound in Ramallah, once a symbol of sovereignty, to mounds of debris and barbed wire. The Palestinian leader has been cut down from international statesman to virtual prisoner behind sandbagged windows, afraid to leave lest the Israelis not let him return.

Rajoub's own multimillion-dollar Preventive Security Service headquarters was shelled in April, and Arafat fired him in July after a falling out.

"Some of our people made terrible mistakes, and for this reason we paid a lot," Rajoub said in an interview in his Ramallah home.

Arafat deputy Mahmoud Abbas, widely known as Abu Mazen, had also spoken out against violence, but only in closed meetings.

That changed last month when Abbas' office gave AP and the London-based Al Hayat newspaper a transcript of a tough talk he had with Fatah activists in the Gaza Strip . Excerpts were also published in the Palestinian daily al-Quds.

In an interview with the Qatari newspaper Al-Rayah on Sunday, Abbas repeated that armed attacks have destroyed all the gains since Israel and the PLO signed accords that set up the Palestinian Authority as a government-in-waiting in the West Bank and Gaza Strip.

"All the Palestinian Authority's achievements ... came to an end and a lot of institutions were demolished," he said.

Echoing Abbas to varying degrees are Palestinian Parliament Speaker Ahmed Qureia and Sari Nusseibeh, the chief PLO representative in Jerusalem.

Nusseibeh, a university president with little popular support, said the uprising — which erupted when Israel's previous, dovish government was offering the Palestinians independence on most of the lands they seek — lacked direction from the start.

Abdel Razak Yehiyeh, appointed by Arafat in the summer with orders to reform the security services, was soon forced out because he threatened tough action against militias, including the Al Aqsa Martyrs' Brigade affiliated with Arafat's Fatah movement.

A November poll shows how opinion is shifting. Although 90 percent of Palestinians support attacks on Israeli settlers and soldiers in the West Bank and Gaza Strip, 56 percent now support arresting militants to stop attacks inside Israel. As recently as May, 86 percent opposed a crackdown on militias.

The poll, by the Palestinian Center for Policy and Survey Research, questioned 1,319 people in November and quoted an error margin of 3 percentage points.


In public statements, Hamas says it will continue attacking Israelis. However, those involved in the talks say it would halt bombings in exchange for political representation.

Israel is watching closely for any sign of a leadership change.

"We are seeing the buds of Palestinian recognition that the price they are paying and have paid for their acts of foolishness will become intolerable if they don't hurry to change direction," Ephraim Halevy, former chief of Israel's Mossad spy agency, said last week.

The Palestinians, in turn, are watching the campaign for Israel's Jan. 28 election. Mitzna, who has promised concessions and negotiations without conditions, would seem more appealing to Palestinians than the hard-line Sharon. But Arafat, aware he is hated by most Israelis, is careful to make no endorsements because they would probably be self-defeating.

Rajoub said real soul-searching can only begin after the fighting ends.

"As soon as we have a partner on the Israeli side ... who is ready to make peace," he said, "both sides will regret their mistakes."


See also:

Israeli Incursion Kills 10 Palestinians (Dec 7)
(AP) - Israeli troops backed by tanks and helicopter gunships hunted a fugitive militant in a crowded refugee camp in the Gaza Strip early Friday, setting off chaotic gunbattles that killed 10 Palestinians, including two U.N. workers. Men
called through mosque loudspeakers for people join the battle against Israeli soldiers, who entered the camp just after midnight. Fighters who had been celebrating the Islamic festival of Eid el-Fitr, which marks the end of Ramadan, poured into the dark streets. Gunbattles raged for three hours in the Bureij camp.

Palestinians reject Sharon's plan for state in 40% of West Bank (Dec 6)

Sharon's deal for Palestine: no extra land, no army, no Arafat (Dec 6),3604,854902,00.html
Ariel Sharon has laid out his terms for Palestinian independence with a vision of an emasculated and demilitarised state built on less than half the land of the occupied territories, and without Yasser Arafat as its leader. (...) The prime minister sought to head off accusations that his government wants to turn an independent Palestine into a patchwork quilt reminiscent of apartheid South Africa, by saying a final deal would allow Palestinians to move freely in the new state without submitting to Israeli checkpoints. Yesterday Mr Sharon expanded on his speech on Wednesday by telling journalists he would not rule out shutting Jewish settlements in the occupied territories as part of a final agreement. CLIP

Israel says al-Qaeda active in Gaza (Dec 05)

Israel to Extend Security Fence with West Bank (Dec 06)

U.N. Employees Send Israel Protest Petition (Dec 3)
JERUSALEM (Reuters) - A group of 64 U.N. workers based in Israel, the West Bank and Gaza Strip issued a petition Tuesday calling on Israel to stop what they said has been the harassment, beating and killing of United Nations staff. "For two years, United Nations staff have been subject to escalating harassment and violence by Israel's military, so that the protection supposed to be afforded by the blue letters of the U.N. is being steadily eroded," said the petition, released in Gaza.

Pacifist Shows Israel's Other Face (Dec 5) (Dec 7)
LONDON (Reuters) - Eighteen-year old Tal Matalon is an outcast for refusing to do military service in the Israeli army. (...) Matalon had now found other objectors, she said. In September she wrote to Prime Minister Ariel Sharon along with 279 other young Israelis refusing to serve in the occupied territories. "The state of Israel commits war crimes and tramples over human rights, destroying Palestinian cities, towns and villages," read part of the letter.

Amnesty International USA Statement on Jerusalem Bus Attack (Nov 21)
This is a shocking and horrifying attack that demonstrates a base and callous disregard for the lives of civilians. The choice of this target -- a bus used by commuters and students on their way to school -- indicates that the attackers not only meant to kill and harm as many civilians as possible, but that they aimed to kill children. Such attacks must be universally condemned without reservation. Attacks on civilians are never justified and Amnesty International reiterates its call on the leadership of all Palestinian armed groups to end attacks on civilians immediately. In a July report, Amnesty International condemned attacks against civilians by Palestinian armed groups as crimes against humanity. In an October report, Amnesty International documented how over the past two years, children have been killed, injured and mutilated in a manner that is unprecedented. Since September 2000, hundreds of Israeli and Palestinian children have been killed, approximately 15 percent of the total death toll. This increasing disregard for the lives of children is chilling.

Israeli Defence Force War Crimes Must Be Investigated (Nov 4)
Jerusalem -- at the launch of a report into the actions of the Israeli Defence Forces (IDF) in Jenin and Nablus in March and April 2002, Amnesty International said today that there is clear evidence that some of the acts committed by the IDF during Operation Defensive Shield were war crimes. The report, Israel and the Occupied Territories: Shielded from Scrutiny - IDF violations in Jenin and Nablus, documents serious human rights violations by Israeli forces -- unlawful killings; torture and ill-treatment of prisoners; wanton destruction of hundreds of homes sometimes with the residents still inside; the blocking of ambulances and denial of humanitarian assistance; and the use of Palestinian civilians as "human shields".

Full Coverage on the Middle East Conflict




Iraq Hands UN Dossier Denying It Has Banned Weapons (Dec 7)

(Reuters) - Iraq handed the United Nations a huge dossier on its military programs, denying that Iraq has any banned weapons and setting the stage for a confrontation with Washington. The presentation of the report on Saturday was followed by release of a statement from Washington implying that anything short of an admission of possession represented a lie and preceded by a call by Iraqi President Saddam Hussein to Kuwaitis to rid their country of American troops. CLIP

The dossier has 11,807 pages, 352 pages of supplements and computer disks with 529 megabytes of data, according to captions on a display at the headquarters of the Iraqi National Monitoring Directorate. Hussam Mohammed Amin, head of the Directorate, said that in the dossier he delivered to U.N. inspectors in Baghdad: "We declared that Iraq is empty of weapons of mass destruction. I reiterate; Iraq has no weapons of mass destruction." CLIP

In Washington, a senior U.S. official told reporters, "I think we have substantial evidence. Since 1998 there has been a number of pieces of information, intelligence evidence, that suggest that a number of these programs not only continue but have accelerated. ... There are things, of course, that we're not going to make public." He suggested that the United States may provide additional intelligence and other support to U.N. inspectors in Iraq, who have said it was needed to do their job. CLIP

U.N. Security Council members have decided to postpone the public release of the Iraqi documents for as long as a week to allow experts to screen it for any military secrets that might help outsiders develop their own doomsday weapons. Diplomats say it could take a week before the 15 Security Council members get a copy. U.N. arms inspectors must report to the Security Council by Jan. 26. They can flag any Iraqi violations sooner. Weapons experts returned to Iraq last month for the first time in four years. They say Baghdad has cooperated with searches at around 20 suspect sites so far. CLIP

Bush said earlier on Saturday his administration would take some time to judge the declaration, but repeated that it would disarm Iraq by force if necessary. Earlier this week he said bluntly that Iraq holds weapons of mass destruction. U.S. officials said on Friday Washington was expected to declare Iraq in "material breach" of last month's U.N. resolution 1441 if it stated it had no such weapons, setting the stage for a possible U.S. military attack on Iraq. CLIP


See also:

Bush Prepares to Make Case Against Iraq (Dec 6)
The Bush administration set the stage Thursday for making its case for U.N. Security Council action against Saddam Hussein , contending it has solid evidence that Iraq has weapons of mass destruction. The White House would not say what its evidence might be. Saddam said in Baghdad that Iraq wants to disprove the U.S. allegations, though he did not explicitly deny having chemical, biological and nuclear weapons or a program to develop long-range missiles. The international inspectors in Iraq have detected little that was suspicious in their first searches in nearly four years. Saddam said he had permitted the inspectors to return in order "to take our people out of harm's way." Even while mobilizing for war and preparing for diplomatic combat with skeptics in the U.N. Security Council, President Bush declined to respond directly when asked if the United States was heading toward war. CLIP

U.S. General in Gulf Area for War Game (Dec 6)
Gen. Tommy Franks, the American general who would run any U.S.-led war against Iraq, arrived Friday in the Persian Gulf area to prepare for the opening of a simulated war game next week.

Kurdish areas 'starved of aid' (Dec 6),3604,854737,00.html
Baghdad is stopping vital humanitarian supplies reaching the Kurdish self-rule region in northern Iraq, and the UN, which administers the oil-for-food aid programme, is doing nothing to stop it, Kurdish officials said yesterday. (...) The security council voted on Wednesday to extend the oil-for-food programme for 180 days. It is the largest aid project in UN history, using revenues from the UN-monitored sale of Iraqi petroleum, to buy food, medicine and civilian supplies to ease the impact of UN sanctions imposed after Iraq's invasion of Kuwait in 1990. The programme is managed by the Iraqi government in the centre and the south, but in the Kurdish region, which has been free of Baghdad's control since 1991, 10 UN agencies cooperating with the Kurdish authorities are in charge. CLIP

Iraq inspections 'could last a year' (December 2),2763,851983,00.html
Warning by world's leading expert is likely to rankle with hawks in Washington.

Britain and US step up bombing in Iraq (Dec 4),2763,853370,00.html
Ministry of Defence reveals 300% rise in ordnance dropped over southern no-fly zone (...) The total tonnage of ordnance released over Iraq between March 1 and November 13 this year was 126.4 tonnes. This is an average of nearly 15 tonnes a month. (...) Whitehall officials have admitted privately that the "no-fly" patrols, conducted by RAF and US aircraft from bases in Kuwait, are designed to weaken Iraq's air defence systems and have nothing to do with their stated original purpose of defending the marsh Arabs and the Sh'ia population of southern Iraq. "The figures require further explanation. It appears that there has been a marked increase in the destructive power of the bombs dropped while the number of recorded threats has remained about the same", Mr Campbell said yesterday. He added: "The inference is that these operations have little to do with humanitarian purposes but are being carried out to soften up Iraq air defence systems. There must be a risk that escalation of this kind could provoke wider military action at a time when the inspectors still appear to be able to carry out their work."

Special report on Iraq,2759,423009,00.html

Report From Iraq: "Fear in the Streets" (Dec 6)
Veteran war correspondent Peter Arnett was the last Western television reporter to cover the 1991 Gulf War from inside Iraq. While in Baghdad, Arnett interviewed Saddam Hussein, the last television interview granted by the country's leader. Arnett is now back in Iraq, revisiting the streets, markets, homes, and people of the nation's capital on assignment for National Geographic EXPLORER. Arnett's first report, Back to Baghdad, which premiers Sunday, December 8 at 8 p.m. ET/PT on MSNBC (more details), reveals a land and a people largely unknown to Americans. Earlier this week, Arnett spoke with National Geographic News from Baghdad, sharing his perspective on the return of UN weapons inspectors, the strength of Hussein's regime, and the mood of the Iraqi people.
Is there a sense of impending conflict on the streets of Baghdad?
Yes, Iraqis fear renewed war and speak freely about it to visiting reporters. People we meet express the greatest concern over the fate of their children in an upcoming conflict. The population of Baghdad did survive with relativity few casualties during the bombings of the Gulf War in 1991. But most people seem aware that if the United States and its partners launch war for a second time, the ramifications will be much greater. The possibility of a violent change of government frightens those who look back to recent history when such changes came with murderous outbreaks of violence on the streets during ethnic clashes.
What's the status of education in Iraq?
All Iraqis are required to attend government-provided school until age 14. All subsequent education up to doctorate level is provided free of charge. With such a high literacy rate, there is great interest in foreign culture. American pop music and movies are eagerly enjoyed by younger Iraqis. Almost every Iraqi you meet will express friendship for the American people but will criticize the U.S. government for the policy of sanctions and frequent bombings of their country that have characterized life here during the past decade. CLIP

Conflict in Iraq: Oil reserves,5860,798061,00.html

Intervention in Iraq?

A very public wargame (Nov 27),2763,848796,00.html
As the military build-up continues in the Gulf, Julian Borger in Washington sees US forces preparing for house to house combat.

Bush fails to win over sceptical Europeans (December 5),2763,854029,00.html
Poll on war with Iraq shows France, Germany and Russia opposed, UK divided.

Schröder makes u-turn on Iraq (November 28),2763,849375,00.html
Chancellor will allow US to use German bases in event of war.

CND start court case against government (November 28),2763,850077,00.html
The Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament launches a high court bid to block the possibility of the UK going to war against Iraq.

Iraq timeline,12438,793802,00.html
A brief chronicle of Iraq since Saddam Hussein became president in July 1979.

White House Pressures U.N. Inspectors (Dec 8)
The White House pressured U.N. officials and weapons inspectors Friday to more aggressively court Iraqi weapons scientists with promises of safety and asylum in exchange for evidence against Saddam Hussein

Study: Iraq War Could Cost $1.9 Trillion (Dec 6)

Full Coverage on Iraq

4. Famine and Peace Watch for Ethiopia

Here are some of the latest developments in Ethiopia. Please also keep this situation in mind during your meditations in the coming weeks to help ensure that not only peace prevail but also that the mounting famine there is averted in the coming months.

Ethiopian prime minister appeals to donor to help feed 11.3 million people facing severe food shortages (Dec 07)
Meles said that thousands of deaths could be avoided if the rest of the world takes the scale of the mounting crisis seriously. "What we need are resources," said Meles, who discussed the crisis with U.S. President George W. Bush in Washington on Thursday. "We have a good system, lets use it to deliver aid in time." The government estimates that a further three million people living a dirt-poor existence could also need food assistance unless the situation improves. Ethiopia, which has a population of around 62 million, is one of the world's 10 poorest countries and is regularly beset by drought and serious food shortages. Between 1984 and 1985 famine devastated the nation, and in 2000 an estimated 10 million people needed food aid. Each year some four million people in the country — where the average annual income is US$108 — need food aid to survive, the government estimates. The country is also still trying to overcome the effects of a 2 1/2 year border war with Eritrea which ended in December 2000. Both sides spent US$1 million a day on the conflict and each lost tens of thousands of lives. CLIP

Military leaders from Ethiopia, Eritrea to meet in Nairobi to discuss stalled peace agreement (Dec 05)
Two years after Ethiopia and Eritrea signed a formal agreement to end their bloody 2 1/2-year border
war, top military officials from both countries will meet next week in Kenya to tackle the thorny issues preventing the demarcation of a new border, a U.N. spokeswoman said Thursday. (...) The war that claimed tens of thousands of lives broke out in May 1998. Fighting ended in December 2000, but tensions have remained high between the two countries. Eritrea gained independence from Ethiopia in 1993 after a 30-year guerrilla war, but their border was never officially demarcated.

Groups Urge Action to Avert Famine in Ethiopia (Nov 27)
A coalition of major aid organizations launched an appeal Wednesday for new donations of food
assistance for Ethiopia, which is facing its worst hunger crisis since the famine of the mid-1980s. (...) Six million Ethiopians are already in need of food aid, but the emergency is not expected to peak until the first three months of next year. By that time, it is estimated that over 10 million people will be affected, and in a worst-case scenario, up to 14 million may require two million tons of food costing US$700 million, according to Ethiopian government officials and the United Nation's World Food Program (WFP).

UNICEF chief: Ethiopia must do more to tackle recurrent drought and food crises (Dec 6)
(...) Although Ethiopia hasn't placed any conditions on the kind of food aid it would accept, the government of Zambia has said it will not take genetically modified corn — bred to be drought-and-insect resistant — because it says it hasn't been proved safe for human consumption.

Almost 40 nations face food problems, U.N. agency says (Nov 29)
Some 39 countries, most in Africa, are facing serious food problems, with Zimbabwe, Ethiopia and
Eritrea particularly hard hit, a U.N. food agency said Friday.

If this e-mail has been forwarded to you and you wish to subscribe, send a blank email to (English),

For more information, please review the material posted by the Global Meditation Focus Group at