Signs of the Times: Spring 1999 Vol. IX, No. 2

Articles and Features

Dialogue
Announcements

Peace Briefs
Letters



Four-year-old Graciela lost her mother in the Deceber 22, 1997 massacre that killed 45 members of the pacifist Christian group Las Abejas (the Bees) in the village of Acteal while they prayed and fasted for peace.

Chiapas, Mexico: Peacemakers Plant Corn On Military Base

More than 50 members of the Mayan pacifist group, Las Abejas (the Bees) together with four members of Christian Peacemaker Teams (CPT) planted corn on the grounds of a military base in the highlands of Chiapas on Easter Sunday.

Soldiers watched from a distance as the group selected a fertile spot near the flagpole on the parade grounds where Mexican troops carry out training exercises. Participants offered prayers and songs in Spanish, English and Tzotzil (the local indigenous language) as the Abejas women consecrated the place of planting with flowers and candles.

CPTers Claire Evans, Anne Herman, Cliff Kindy, and Lynn Stoltzfus joined the Abejas in reflecting together on Jesus' parable of the sowing of seeds recorded in Mark 4. Then they prayed that the seeds of peace might sprout and grow in that place as they began to plant a small area with corn, the Mayan symbol of life.

The Easter morning witness was the culminating event in a series of Holy Week prayer vigils at the base intended as a challenge to the heavy military presence in the area. Beginning on Palm Sunday CPTers and about 20 indigenous men and women fasted and prayed for up to 10 hours each day near the entrance to the base.

At times the soldiers agreed to take their guns and leave the checkpoint hut. The space was then transformed by prayers, songs and scripture meditations for peace. On several occasions when the soldiers were reluctant to leave, the group surrounded the little guard post and carried on their singing and praying.

"We learned a lot about endurance and prayer from Las Abejas," said CPTer Claire Miller. "And we have permanent mud stains on our knees to prove it."

During their opening worship on Palm Sunday, the peacemakers gathered for reflection and prayer at the foot of three Mayan crosses located on a ridge between the refugee village of X'oyep (Show-yep') and the nearby military base.

When soldiers interrupted the worship circle, the Abejas asked them to leave. "Since you are not angels, you have no right to be here by our sacred crosses," they said.

In the small county of Chenalho where X'oyep is located, the Mexican army has established twenty military bases and stationed 2000 soldiers, one for every twelve inhabitants. These "civic action" camps offer medical and dental care, free meals, and a host of other services to community residents. But the people of X'oyep and many other villages in Chenalho want nothing to do with the military's handouts.
CPT Mexico team gathers with
local people for daily prayer vigil during Holy Week.

When soldiers strolled into X'oyep in January, 1998 toting their M-16s and offering the refugees "protection," the women of the community surrounded them and forced them to leave. There has been a tense co-existence ever since the soldiers set up camp just down the road from the village.

About 10,500 people in Chenalho have fled their villages due to paramilitary violence in the past 18 months. Many of them hold the military, the police, and high-level government officials responsible for the December, 1997 massacre of 45 Abejas, mostly women and children, in Acteal carried out by paramilitary groups.

Acteal and X'oyep, several hours walk from each other over steep mountain trails, are the two villages where the majority of the 2500 displaced members of Las Abejas have taken refuge.


Hebron: Building, Birthdays, and the Occupation

By Jamey Bouwmeester

On Saturday April 17th, Sara Reschly, Michael Goode, and I joined Israeli, Palestinian and international activists in the fourth consecutive weekend of rebuilding the home of Hassan Daoud south of Hebron, whose house was demolished last August by the Israeli Army.

Throughout the morning a lone military jeep watched us from a distance as we waited for a portable generator. When it arrived we began to hand corrugated steel sheets up to two men from the Daoud family. They screwed the sheets down onto steel girders to form a roof.


CPTers Dianne Roe (left), Jamey Bouwmeester and Mark Frey (center) along with delegation members celebrate Rajeh Jabber's first birthday.

As soon as the work began more jeeps arrived on the scene. Jeff Halper of the Israeli Committee Against House Demolitions spoke to the officer in charge. The rest of us simply kept working while about 20 soldiers looked on. By the time the last sheet had been bolted down, there were six army jeeps and two civilian police jeeps parked in front of the house, altogether about 35 military personnel armed with M-16s. They seemed quite unsure what to do about us. One or two of them seemed embarrassed by the guns slung over their shoulders.

Some of the soldiers collected the passports and I.D.s of everyone present. Two of the police officers began to take pictures of the activists and the family members; they paid special attention to the two men working on the roof. Michael, Sara, Jeff and I caucused and decided that if any of the family members were arrested we would find a way to accompany them, even if it meant being arrested ourselves.

A few minutes later we were ordered to leave the area. We decided immediately that we would not leave until the family members and other Palestinians were safely away. Jeff and the other Israeli's present stalled while the family quietly made it's way across the hills to the homes of neighbors. With our Palestinian co-workers safely out of immediate danger, we climbed into our vans and left.

On the way back to Jerusalem, we decided to visit the tent of Atta and Rodeina Jabber to celebrate their son Rajeh's first birthday. The Jabbers had two houses demolished last year.

The police followed us from the site of the rebuilding and as we disembarked one officer challenged Jeff in Hebrew. "We ordered you to leave one demolished house and you drive right to another!" Jeff was livid. "It's a BIRTHDAY PARTY!" he shouted back at the officer, "A birthday party for an infant who has had his house demolished twice. See, here's the present I'm bringing him!" The officer was cowed by Jeff's outburst and seemed ashamed, but continued to argue in order to save face. Jeff turned to the group, ignoring him, and said, "Come on, we don't need to waste time with these people."

We all walked to the tent where the Jabber family and their guests were having cake and soda. The police stayed at the bottom of the hill with our vans. Atta asked me why we hadn't invited them up to the party. "Because they haven't learned to play nicely with others yet," I replied. We didn't have to wait long for them to prove me correct. While we sang and laughed in the tent, they fined our driver NIS 210 ($50) because he stepped out of his van to speak with the other driver without turning off the engine.

Later in the evening, the CPT team returned to the tent, along with a three person CPT RAB delegation to celebrate the birthday. We ate Maq'lube (a traditional Palestinian meal) on the concrete slab that used to be the Jabber's roof and watched the sun set beautifully over nearby Harsina settlement.


CPT in South Dakota: Not Another Wounded Knee

On March 22 in Pierre, SD, seven Lakota men set up tipis and established the "First Fire of the Oceti Sakowin" (Seven Council Fires) camp after more than 200 people demonstrated against the U.S. Congress turning Treaty land over to the state of South Dakota. Spiritual leaders conducted ceremonies and lit a sacred fire at the camp-in site as a reminder that the aboriginal and Treaty rights of the Oceti Sakowin nation are not extinguished. The camp-in participants are committed to maintain a nonviolent presence across from the South Dakota state capitol on La Framboise Island in the Missouri River, part of the 200,000 acres in question, until the congressional decision, known as the "Mitigation Act", is repealed.

Since the camp-in began, participants have experienced harassment from the state highway patrol and local police. In addition, Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) agents are staked out near the encampment. Their presence recalls tensions between the agency and tribal members in the early 1970s.

Christian Peacemaker Teams (CPT) came to Pierre in response to an invitation from the traditional elders of the Lakota (Sioux) people and the encouragement of Mennonite Central Committee representatives in Pine Ridge. CPT seeks to help prevent an outbreak of the sort of violence associated with the deaths at Wounded Knee in 1973. Such a presence by committed nonviolent Christians sends a message to local troublemakers and law enforcement bodies that the world is watching.

ACTION: Congressional oversight hearings are needed to reconsider the Act. Write a letter to the House Committee on Natural Resources and the Senate Select Committee on Indian Affairs encouraging them to hold oversight hearings on Title VI of the Omnibus Appropriations Act of 1999. Honorable Ben Nighthorse Campbell, Chairman; U.S. Senate Committee on Indian Affairs; 828 Hart Senate Office Building

Washington, DC 20510; attn: Patricia Zell; Tel: 202-224-5852; Fax: 202-224-1933; e-mail: administrator@campbell.senate.gov

Waiting for an Answer by Melinda Martin (a local native supporter of the camp in Pierre, SD)

We came together to claim what is ours.

The spirits are calling,
we are waiting for an answer.

The land is sacred and needs to be left
with the ones who will give it what it needs.
We will stand by the river for as long as it takes.
The spirits will guide us,
waiting for an answer.

Our hearts are pure and our minds are strong.
Our pride and beliefs are what keeps us going.
Many will try to bring us down, but will fail.
The spirits are with us,
waiting for an answer.

Our leaders are going to get the job done.
It's going to be hard, the enemy's hearts
are in the wrong place.

All they think of is money, power and greed.
The spirits will show them the way,
while we're waiting for an answer.

Many people have come to show their support.
The spirits will reward them
while we're waiting for an answer.


Wanted: Full-time CPTers

Christian Peacemaker Teams (CPT) has immediate openings for twelve workers available full-time for three years to engage in active peacemaking efforts in settings of violent conflict. Several members of CPT's Peacemaker Corps will soon complete their terms. Who will take their place? CPT needs to expand the Corps of full-time workers from twelve to eighteen. Who will step forward?

Fifteen years ago, in a tough, no-nonsense speech in Strasbourg, France, peace church people were challenged to develop a Christian peacemaker initiative that would push back the boundaries of violence in ways the world had not yet seen. Twelve years ago, Christian Peacemaker Teams made a start.

"These efforts to intervene in the name of Christ when military violence threatens have helped, but the crisis in Kosovo reminds us all that the job isn't done," says CPT Chairperson John Stoner.

"Four years ago, CPT received enough letters, faxes and e-mails to paper a wall crying out for peace teams in Kosovo, but we didn't have the personnel to send," he added. "We need more workers and resources to support them now." Who will heed the call?


And God Said...

Upon learning that Reservist Rick Polhamus would be joining CPT's team in South Dakota before going to Chiapas, Mexico, a friend said, "It must be nice to just take off any time you like." Rick responded that the decision wasn't really that easy. Reflecting about it later he adapted this piece by Ronice Branding.

The Lord said, "Go!"

And I said, "Who, me?"

And God said, "Yes, you!"

And I said, "But I'm not ready yet

And I still need to get ready for Chiapas,

And Max is counting on me to help with his work,

And there is company coming,

And I can t leave my family;

And God said, "You're stalling."



Again the Lord said, "Go!"

And I said, "But I don't want to,"

And God said, "I didn't ask if you wanted to."

And I said, "Listen, there's going to be controversy and maybe trouble.

The FBI and the government are involved.

Besides, some people may not like it,

And will want me to explain my actions to them and others!"

And God said, "Baloney!"



And yet a third time the Lord said, "Go!"

And I said, "Do I have to?"

And God said, "Do you love me?"

And I said, "Look, I'm scared.

What if I mess up?

And God said, "Where do you think I'll be?"



And the Lord said, "Go!"

And I sighed,

"Here I am, Lord. Send me."


Blenheim, ON: CPT Keeps Watch With Caldwell Nation

CPT-Ontario provided a two-week presence in February to deter hate crimes at the Caldwell band office in Blenheim, Ontario in the aftermath of vandalism committed on the band property. Each night three CPTers from southern Ontario kept watch to observe, document and report any undesirable activity.

The Caldwell First Nation is the only federally recognized band in Canada with no reserve land. In December 1998 the federal government offered $23 million to settle the Caldwell land claim, enabling the Caldwell to purchase 4,000 acres on the open market over the next 25 years. There was an immediate backlash from members of the local non-native community who plastered the district with "Not For Sale" signs. On the night of Jan. 28 someone entered the Caldwell property and spiked the tires of a vehicle, cut through supports on the baseball backstop, and sprayed graffiti on a new building.

Chief Johnson commented, "the Peacemakers' presence allowed us to recover some peace of mind and make up some much needed sleep after our family's home and the band's office were vandalized."

In reflecting on his four nights walking around the farmyard-sized property and sleeping in a tent-trailer, CPT Ontario Reservist Joel Klassen said, "I feel grateful for the welcome that the Caldwells gave us. I think I tasted a little bit of the vulnerability I would feel if some people in my community tried to make my congregation feel unwelcome. I know that's only a partial analogy, but it helps me begin to understand the seriousness of the struggle that the Caldwells are involved in."


A Letter to Our Churches About Anti-semitism*

The following letter on Christian anti-Semitism was developed at a CPT Steering Committee meeting in response to CPT Hebron's concern that our work with Jewish partners have integrity. The letter is now being delivered to various church institutions by Steering Committee members to stimulate discussion and action.

Recently we have been reminded of the persistence and pervasiveness of anti-Jewish bias in our denominations. In our peacemaking work in Israel and the West Bank we work cooperatively with Jews and Moslems; we are working with people who are taking significant risks for peace. They reach out, beyond their fears, in the hope that people of different faiths can respect each other enough to live as neighbors. Our relationships with Jews are threatened when expressions of Christian anti-Semitism rekindle their fears and memories of the role of Christianity in fostering hate and violence towards Jews.

Some of our churches are doing significant anti-racism work. Thankfully, there is no longer any credible theology undergirding racism. In contrast, we still have many adherents who use theological arguments to support their anti-Semitism. We have encountered simplistic characterizations of the Hebrew Bible as vengeful and ungraceful, beliefs that Jesus' criticisms of some Jewish leaders of his day apply to all Jews then and now, and Christian Zionism, in which Jews become pawns with magical power in an end-times drama.

It is our sense that we need to undertake strong denominational educational efforts to understand how our theological assumptions have been shaped by an anti-Semitic ideology. We can begin by acknowledging that ignorance of the history of Christian anti-Semitism is a problem, our problem. Whether we like it or not, even whether we know it or not, we are the spiritual heirs of the Crusaders, of those who expelled the Jews from medieval Spain, of those who refused asylum to Jews fleeing the Holocaust; others remember even if we don't.

We suggest, as one starting point, that the following questions be addressed by our denominational educational and publishing institutions:

  • Where in our school curricula are our students taught about the history of Christian anti-Semitism? Are they exposed to modern Judaism as a living faith?
  • Where in our seminaries are future church leaders given the tools to confront anti-Semitism in congregations they may pastor, in church conferences, or in ministerial associations?
  • In our congregations and meetings, does the theology in our Sunday or First Day School curricula prepare our members for respectful encounters with Jews?

Many CPTers have made a commitment to confront anti-Semitism wherever they encounter it, whether on the street, in sermons or in jokes. We ask you to join us in this commitment, knowing that it will be neither easy nor comfortable. We encourage you to raise this concern in your communications with conference and congregational/meeting leadership. We look forward to your response to the above questions, and to further discussion.

Respectfully,

Christian Peacemaker Teams Steering Committee

*We use the term "anti-Semitism" in its popular sense, recognizing that this causes a problem for our Arab friends, who are also a Semitic people. For them, using "anti-Semitic" to mean "anti-Jewish" seems to be a way to render them invisible. We do not equate criticism of Israeli government policies with anti-Semitism.


THE SWORD AND THE CROSS : FINAL VIGIL, by Doug Pritchard

On Good Friday, 4 CPTers joined 80 other Christians in a final vigil at the "Sword and the Cross" war memorial at St. Paul's Anglican Church in Toronto, ON calling on church leaders to take down the sword from this cross as a symbol of the church's renunciation of all war. We were met by 30 armed police directed by church officials standing beside a large sign which read, "Welcome to St. Paul's".

This event was the culmination of 6 months of vigils, letters, interviews, and attempts to meet with the leaders of Toronto's churches. After a final prayer that some church leader would come to lead in this action, 3 witnesses crossed the fence into the enclosure around the war memorial to remove the sword. They were immediately arrested and charged with "intent to commit mischief over $5,000" which carries a maximum penalty of 10 years imprisonment. Don Heap, Anglican priest and former Member of Parliament; Bob Holmes, Catholic priest; and Len Desroches, Catholic writer were released on their own recognizance on the condition that they not go within 300 m of St. Paul's.

St. Paul's Anglican Church chose the physical force of the state to protect its sword. But, in response, we were called to take action within our own churches against the swords imposed on the cross of Jesus by the false doctrine of "just" war.


CPT to Grassy Narrows, Ontario

CPT is initiating a fact finding mission at the invitation of the Grassy Narrows First Nation Community in Northwestern Ontario. The mission will study concerns about clear cutting plans submitted to the Ontario government by Abitibi Consolidated to harvest timber in forests traditionally claimed by the Grassy Narrows people. CPTers Doug Pritchard, Wes Hare and Cole Hull will spend up to two weeks in the area meeting with First Nation members and government officials. People in this 800 member community have threatened to blockade lumber trucks if their concerns are not satisfactorily addressed. Grassy Narrows is located approximately 85 kilometers northeast of Kenora, Ontario.


Dialogue

In Dialogue, we lift exchanges from CPT.D, an open e-mail discussion on CPT's vision and work. A major discussion on Anti-Semitism involving over forty writers and well over a hundred messages emerged following a posting in which Rabbi Michael Lerner asked what Christian pacifists were willing to do to stop the murders in the former Yugoslavia. The following excerpts attempt to share some of the essence of that ongoing discussion.

Rabbi Michael Lerner, Berkeley, CA (from initial post): The nonviolent methods that were used in Bosnia seemed ineffective in stopping mass murder, rape, and destruction. I was also very unimpressed by the impact of all those who chose nonviolent resistance to the Nazis, and believe that my own continued life (as a Jew) was only made possible by the armed intervention of the Soviet Union, the U.S. and others who went beyond passive forms of resistance. I'm glad that the more violent Christians stepped in and stopped Hitler before he murdered every Jew on the planet. Now that the lives of so many Muslims are at stake, don't I have a moral obligation to try to do for them what the U.S. army did for Jews in WWII? I say this with all humility, since I myself feel very unsure of the way to walk with God in this situation. On the one hand, I hate all forms of violence. On the other hand, the Torah commands me to "not stand idly by the blood of your neighbor" which has always meant, in Jewish tradition, to actively resist those who are oppressing others.

Reginald Stuckey, Cincinnati, OH: There is no such person as a violent Christian. Since you probably don't believe that Jesus was Christ, or the message he taught, "love your enemies, pray for those who persecute you" you cannot possibly understand how we as pacifists get our reasoning. It's not that we don't care about the terrible cruelties that are happening around us -- we do! We are saddened about the holocaust, or any loss of life due to wars, murders, etc., be they Jew or Gentile. As Anabaptists we also have ancestors who suffered and died through the centuries. More Christians have lost their lives trying to live as Christ taught them, than Jews during the holocaust. How can you judge us when you don't believe the new covenant? An eye for an eye was left in the old covenant, and is no longer a valid law. Until the hearts of men are changed from evil to Christ there will always be "wars and rumors of wars."

Rabbi Michael Lerner: This letter represents the not-well-veiled legacy of anti-Semitism in the Christian tradition based on a total misunderstanding of Judaism. I have long been a strong defender of the role of the Christian Peacemaker's Team in Hebron, seeing it as a legitimate ally to those of us in the Jewish world who believe that the current government in Israel is denying the legitimate rights to national self-determination of the Palestinian people. But I had no idea that this community of [Anabaptists] did not have a much higher level of consciousness about anti-Semitism and the role of Christianity in having fostered it for close to two thousand years. Is it really true that the alternatives in the world are only evil or "Christ?" If so, no wonder that some Christians, with this way of thinking, had such an easy time genociding all the rest of us.

Andrew Taylor, Bluffton, OH: Your remarks now lead us to the heart of Christian theological anti-Semitism. It states that Israel forfeited the "inheritance" by rejecting Jesus as Messiah, therefore the Church is the "true Israel" and "the Jews are reprobate." Since no one comes to God save by Christ other religions are pagan or savage idolatry. This mind set has caused many evil threads of racist anti-Semitism to blossom.

Gerald Biesecker-Mast: This discussion reveals that [peace churches] need more intentional education about the devastating history of Jewish-Christian relations, especially as we become involved in political activism in our communities on behalf of justice for Palestinians. Those who become enthused about the Palestinian cause are often ill-equipped to understand why their actions create so much anxiety and ill-will among Jews, who are often a minority in the areas where [Anabaptists] live, and who experience such protests in the context of their life-long struggle against prejudice and hostility.

David Stowe, Tenafly, NJ: Maybe there is some anti-Jewish bias in the churches -- I never encounter it, either in person, or in church literature. What I do encounter is . . . pervasive pro-Israel reportage in the media, in which Jewish persons are obviously active and influential and generous use of Jewish wealth to fund pro-Israel activities of all kinds . . . It is perfectly true, and wonderful, that so many Jews are leaders in compassionate and socially progressive causes. Many deplore and oppose current Israeli policy in Palestine. But the fact remains that the weight of Jewish influence in American policy is disproportionately favorable to a "protected status" for Jews, domestically and in foreign policy.

Kathy Kern, CPT Reservist, Webster, NY: Anti-Semitism exists in the North American church. I have seen it, both on the level of people believing that Jews are a race of people who are responsible for social ills and on the level of religious triumphalism in which Judaism is viewed as less developed than or inferior to Christianity. I believe that Christian Zionism, in which Jews become pawns with magical power in an end times drama is also a form of anti-Semitism.

Nancy Frey, CPT Reservist, Goshen, IN: There is a strain of anti-Semitism in the Mennonite church. We may argue that it is a minority voice, but that does not make it less noxious or mean we can ignore it. Most of us don't know how to respond to the anti-Semitic bias in our churches because it has gotten mixed in with our theology; it is not only a matter of attitudes and feelings among certain people. We must address this issue in a systematic fashion.

Rey Lopez, CPT Reservist, Manila, Philippines: We must make sure that the charge of anti-Semitism not be used as a sort of modern day "Red Scare" to intimidate people from discussing valid issues of peace and justice in the Middle East.

Shady Hakim, CPT Reservist, Arcadia, CA: Arabs broadly, and Palestinians specifically, have the historic inconvenience of being on "the other side of the conflict" in the Middle East. When the victimization of Jews historically is coupled with latent anti-Arabism and profound ignorance of the Middle East, something strange happens in the American mind - the holocaust, anti-Semitism, etc, get inextricably linked with the Israeli-Arab conflict so that at every critique of Israel, mention of Palestinian rights, or suggestion that there is an injustice to Arabs at the root of this conflict, anti-Semitism is raised. The Arab-Israeli conflict is a completely different issue with a different history and power dynamics than the holocaust/European anti-Semitism. I am not in any way suggesting that we diminish the holocaust and anti-Semitism awareness. But in the anti-Arab context of the U.S. we must be careful not to omit the Arab voice altogether.


Announcements

Peacemaker Congress V: Y2K Compatible

"From Violence to Active Nonviolence" is the theme for Christian Peacemaker Congress V, which will meet in Washington, DC, December 27-30, 1999. Main speakers and workshops will focus on Jesus' way of nonviolent resistance as the call for the church of the 21st century. Participants will be invited to join a post-conference event for peace workers who plan to usher in the new millennium.

Students, peace workers, parents and grandparents will gather at Peacemaker Congresses V to meet like-minded people, feel the energy of the occasion and plan actions for peace.

Congress planners believe that people will be drawn to the event as a preparation for the spiritual and interpersonal challenges of the of the next millennium. "Christmas is a busy time," said Congress coordinator, H. A. Penner. "But we have discovered that people like to connect with friends over the holiday. There is no better place for that than a Peacemaker Congress, especially at this auspicious turn-of-the-millennium time." Individuals may choose to extend their stay in Washington, DC through New Year's Eve to bring in the new millennium with other Congress participants.

Kathy Kern holds forth in the fall 1998 CPT Congress in North Manchester IN. Kathy is now a reservist after serving full time with the CPT Peacemaker Corps for almost three years. She coordinated the CPT e-mail service, CPTNET.

The Congress will meet at Luther Place Memorial Church; 1226 Vermont Avenue NW; Washington, DC. Sponsored by Christian Peacemaker Teams and New Call to Peacemaking, the Congress has developed a hosting style of frugal simplicity in a culture of consumerism. For more information on this pilgrimage from empire dominance to jubilee justice, contact CPT at 312-455-1199, e-mail: cpt@igc.org or New Call to Peacemaking at 717-859-1958, e-mail: jkstoner@ptd.net.


Note: new e-mail address for The Games Project for evaluating computer games: info@gamesproject.org


Peace Briefs

An Appeal to Rescue Bethlehem: A cry for help from Bethlehem on the eve of the 2000th anniversary of Jesus' birth has been sent to world leaders. Bethlehem district has suffered from Israeli polices such as settlement creation, construction of by-pass roads, house demolitions and diversion of water sources to Israel and its settlements. This has resulted in acute shortages. The main source of income in Bethlehem is tourism. This industry faces hardship due to these practices. Under the current Israeli government, these activities have intensified to an unprecedented level.

Nonviolent Bed Sheets: Palermo, Sicily, has rebelled against the Mafia's hold on the city after especially brutal Mafia executions of two Sicilian judges. One citizen scrawled anti-mafia signs on a bed sheet and hung it from her window. Others joined the sheet action and the "Committee of the Sheets" was formed. The bed sheet protest caught on until the vast majority of city residents were hanging bed sheets. According to the Mayor, "On certain days, you could look up at an apartment building and see where the Mafia don lived -- it was the apartment without a bed sheet". The bed sheet protest was followed by marches, sit-ins, demonstrations. The populists didn't let up until the Mafia's grip on the city was broken. One observer suggested that a similar campaign was needed to break the hold of certain corporations.

Burundi Yearly Meeting and the Friends Peace Teams Project is sponsoring the Kamenge Reconciliation and Reconstruction Project in Bujumbura, Burundi from approximately July 18 through August 15. Six young adults (18 to 35 years of age) from Burundi Yearly Meeting and six foreign young adults as a symbol of reconciliation and concern will help the members of Kamenge Church rebuild their residency/guest house destroyed in 1998 in the ethnic cleansing of that section of Bujumbura.. Those wishing to participate or wanting further information should contact African Great Lakes Initiative, Friends Peace Teams Project; c/o David Zarembka; 17734 Larchmont Terrace; Gaithersburg, MD 20877; Tel./Fax: 301-208-1862; e-mail: davidzarembka@juno.com; on the web at www.quaker.org/fptp/agli.

Partial List of Countries Bombed by the U.S. since WWII: China 1945-46; Korea 1950-53; China 1950-53; Guatemala 1954; Indonesia 1958; Cuba 1959-60; Guatemala 1960; Congo 1964; Peru 1965; Laos 1964-73; Vietnam 1961-73; Cambodia 1969-70; Guatemala 1967-69; Lebanon 1983; Grenada 1983; Libya 1986; El Salvador 1980s; Nicaragua 1980s; Panama 1989; Iraq 1991-99; Bosnia 1995; Sudan 1998; Afghanistan 1998; Yugoslavia 1999 - You write the commentary on this.


Letters

We received a couple of e-mails from the CPT group in Hebron today. We have a notebook that we keep adding them to for all our members to read. Janet Ediger - Administrative Secretary, Faith Mennonite Church, Newton, KS

We have followed your work with interest. Our only concern is that the teams endeavor to work in a non-partisan way. If the team in Israel/Palestine is perceived as totally pro-Palestinian, future work there may be threatened or even prohibited. Michael & Carolyn Yoder, Orange City, IA

We continue to thank God and take heart when we receive news of CPT. A recent visit to the Peasant Movement of Papaye in Haiti gave us a gleam of hope for peaceful change in that country. Keep on "Getting in the Way." J. Benton Rhoades, LaVerne, CA

We are redirecting our "war taxes" to Christian Peacemaker Teams this year. Enclosed is our check and letter to the IRS. Keep up the good work you are doing. Ken & Noreen Gingerich, Iowa City, IA

We, members of the Peoria Area Peace Network, support your courageous work. You give us all hope with your commitment and living out your Christianity. We are a peace activist group. Our members are of different faiths - Protestant, Catholic, Jewish - who share a common goal to promote peace in the world. Peoria Area Peace Network, Peoria, IL

In Switzerland public opinion against the policy of the Israeli government is also getting stronger. Every other Friday there is in Berne and in Z’rich a what we call "Mahnwache" -- a group of people with posters and banners protesting silently against the oppression of the Palestinians and the demolition of so many houses. Ueli Bachmann, (November CPT/FOR delegation participant) Z’rich, Switzerland

CPT should not decide to have nothing to do with people or organizations who are forced to bear arms to defend themselves. I am afraid that CPT may develop a sort of sanitized country-club peace and justice mentality. People who are forced to bear arms in self-defense are the very people that need to hear the power of the gospel of nonviolence and they need the protection that a CPT presence can provide. CPT is a Christian organization based in the U.S. whose institutional violence -- be it in the form of the IMF and World Bank or weapons and School of Americas alumni -- is felt mostly in third world countries. Reynaldo Lopez, CPT Reservist, Manila, Philippines

I support your work and the wonderful messages of love, hope and compassion that your [CPTNet] link provides. I send some of the e-mail to National Public Radio in the hopes that they will someday interview your people in Chiapas and Palestine. I also send the letters to friends and neighbors, some of whom are of Palestinian birth. They are encouraged that someone is there to witness these crimes against humanity and the Geneva Conventions and to offer support to the victims of ethnic hatred and ethnic cleansing. Lorraine Nagy, internet