Tuesday, January 13, 2009

GIVING PEACE A HEARING

A leading advocate of practical non-violence begins a two-week, 20 meeting tour of Britain from Friday 16 January through to 1 February 2009, offering case studies of achieving peace without guns in the Middle East and elsewhere.

Gene Stoltzfus, US founder and director emeritus of the Christian Peacemaker Teams (CPT), will be on tour in England, Scotland, Wales and Ireland to share his field experience in global peacemaking.

The visit is organised by Christian Peacemakers Teams UK and is backed by the religion and society think-tank Ekklesia. CPT came to global prominence in 2006 during the Iraq hostage crisis. More information here and here.

6 comments:

Paul Maurice Martin said...

Seems like the hardest practical non-violence tip to teach is the motivation to practice it.

Doug Hynd said...

This event could not be more timely.

We are currently working on establishing a CPT regional group involving Australia, New Zealand, Indonesia and the Pacific. A stronger witness by the Christian church to the peacemaking call of the Gospel is urgently needed.

Michelle J. Kinnucan said...

The biggest problem with the CPT is that they primarily intervene in other countries when the "heart of darkness," as Conrad put it, is on the banks of the Potomac. Or as the Rev. Dr. King noted, the US is the greatest purveyor of violence in the world today.

So, CPT folks go abroad to teach nonviolence or to intervene when the real need is here in their own backyard. There is also something appallingly offensive about their recent statement on Gaza: "We call on all armed groups to cease killing and traumatizing the children of God." This is fine example of Emerson's "foolish consistency" that "hobgoblin of little minds, adored by little statesmen and philosophers and divines." I am a pacifist but how dare Americans lecture Palestinians on how to resist the very oppression backed by the full military, economic, and military might of the US. And how dare they suggest there is any equivalence between the violence of the Palestinians and Israelis.

Simon Barrow said...

Michelle: CPT *is* involved in non-violence work in the USA and in the Americas - Chiapas, Vieques, Puerto Rico and Washington DC. There have been explorations here in the UK too. I personally don't agree that solidarity with Palestinians should mean silence on the tactics (including the tageting of civilians) used by armed groups choosing to act for them them. A passionate Palestinian friend of mine describes such an approach as "patronising" and "inverted colonialism". A lively debate could ensue, I'm sure! Many have accused CPT of being one-sided for highlighting the injustice and disparity that lies at the root of the conflict, so it is ironic that they are also accused of "foolish consistency".

Michelle J. Kinnucan said...

Simon, you write, "Many have accused CPT of being one-sided for highlighting the injustice and disparity that lies at the root of the conflict, so it is ironic that they are also accused of 'foolish consistency'." They should be proudly one-sided in "highlighting the injustice and disparity" but there is no irony in my criticism of their foolish consistency. It stems from their choice to jump on the 'both sides' bandwagon on 14JAN2009: "We call on all armed groups to cease killing and traumatizing the children of God." Kudos to them though for referring to a "massacre in Gaza" and highlighting "the 'root' problems" as "the systemic oppression and domination of the Palestinian people."

Simon Barrow said...

I'm glad CPT are both calling for an end to killing on all sides and identifying the roots of the problem. A wise consistency. I don't have the time to get into a lengthy debate about CPT's work here, Michelle. Overall, I think they are doing a worthy job. You are wrong to guess that my Palestinian friend is either in the West or safe, by the way. But he's clear from close hand that "harbouring illusions about Hamas has nothing to do with siding with the oppressed". And I agree with him. Warm wishes, S.