If the motion for recognition of the Armenian Genocide was successful this year in the Israeli Knesset, despite his misgivings, Harry Hagopian - alongside scores of other Armenian and non-Armenian scholars, activists, sympathisers and grassroots - will rejoice at this moral and equitable achievement.
The Church of Scotland General Assembly agreed, under threat, to withdraw a resolution calling for a UK ban on goods from Israeli settlements in the occupied Palestinian territories. Paraic Reamonn says that the ethnically-defined nature of the current Israeli state, its treatment of Palestinians and what its policies are doing to the identity of Jewish people should be a matter of priority concern to Christians and others of goodwill.
The International Ecumenical Peace Convocation in Jamaica symbolises the emergence of a remarkable consensus among Christian churches on issues of war, peace and justice, says Stephen Brown. Yet the task facing the ecumenical movement in the 21st century is now to work for a consensus on justice and peace that transcends cultural and religious boundaries.
This week, the Church of Scotland has been discussing a specially commissioned report on Same Sex Relationships and the Ministry at its General Assembly in Edinburgh. Alison Jasper from the University of Stirling unpacks the issues, as part of the Critical Religion series.
There are plenty of grounds for a paradoxical 'pessoptimism' about developments in the Middle East and North Africa, writes Harry Hagopian. The huge Arab struggles for dignity and freedom are vital but will take a long time. History in Europe and the USA should surely teach us that revolutions are never made in one swoop, but take time and cause pain.
Whatever happens in Libya in the coming weeks, the dichotomy in western policy between armed intervention in one situation and lack of an adequate response elsewhere will continue, casting a shadow over humanitarian claims and undermining other proclaimed purposes, says Professor Paul Rogers. The damage and the lost opportunities produced will be measured for years to come. The west's military-political strategy prolongs the war in Libya and gives space to authoritarian regimes elsewhere in the region.
In his speeches at the demonstrations of the citizens’ protest movement in the Kurdish Region of northeastern Iraq, Mullah Kamaran has called for a revolution without violence—a jihad. He has urged the armed militias to put down their guns. He appealed to the demonstrators to see the soldiers as their brothers and not throw rocks or hurt them, and has twice been arrested for his stand. Peggy Gish of Christian Peacemaker Teams reports.
There are serious questions to be asked about the unity pact between the two Palestinian factions of Fatah and Hamas, says Harry Hagopian. But meanwhile the Israeli prime minister remains dwarfed by the real significance of the Arab Spring, and a huge block to progress towards a just peace for all. He is still a tactician at best, with precious little strategic foresight.
The Salafi-jihadist movement is losing its recruitment pool in the Arab world, says Murad Batal al-Shishani, an Islamic groups and terrorism issues analyst. Al-Qaida and others' latest strategies look elsewhere, and the death of Osama Bin Laden will not affect these plans.
No matter which way the winds blow in the weeks ahead, it is clear that the majority of Syrians desperately seek reform but they also fear sectarianism and foreign intervention, says Harry Hagopian. Much will depend upon how parties both inside and outside the country, including the power-brokers, choose to respond. An approach which feeds hope at the base rather than replicating top-down diplomacy is needed.
As Ekklesia has reported recently, FARC and the government are moving ahead with peace talks in Colombia. But many questions remain about the current process, and as this Christian Peacemaker Teams briefing indicates, what lies behind it is a decidedly mixed history. Can the politics of hope overcome a legacy of oppression and despair?
Religious faith and practice can make the most committed and powerful contributions to reconciliation and to economic justice. It can also use texts and traditions to avoid responsibility and to commit selfish or harmful actions, says Dr Olav Fykse Tveit, General Secretary of the World Council of Churches. Speaking to the UN, he offers an inspiring yet honest vision of the way churches and other religious communities can make a vital contribution to building justice and peace for the whole of humanity, while being held necessarily accountable before God and the world they are intended to serve.