Weekly Missive – August 28th, 2013

Hi Fighter,

Are we on the eve of Armageddon?

Love Syria

It’s Father Dave, and I confess that as I write to you today I’m feeling sick in my stomach.

It’s not something that I ate or drank (though I have had a second glass of red tonight to steel my nerves). It’s Syria, and it’s what I’m seeing on the news!

I’ve been watching and listening to European leaders and US and Israeli officials all talking about how urgent it is that we start bombing Bashar Al-Assad into submission, and all this before the UN inspectors have produced a single finding!

I remember having the same sick and sinking feeling on the eve of the Iraq invasion. I remember thinking then, “No. Surely they won’t do it. They’re not that stupid. They know there are no ‘weapons of mass destruction’. It’s all just saber rattling!” And now … 1,000,000 dead Iraqi’s later … history seems to be repeating itself!

Here’s how the scenario plays out in my mind:

  1. The US and NATO attack Syrian government forces on the pretext of the chemical weapon attacks.
  2. The government falls and the country crumbles into uncontrollable sectarian violence with jihadists gaining control of major areas (as in Iraq)
  3. Lebanon’s infrastructure cannot withstand the further influx of refugees (already almost 50% of the size of its citizenry) and so it falls into anarchy as well
  4. Iran is now left without allies (which I believe is one of the main aims of the game) and so Israel attacks Iran’s nuclear facilities, confident that Iran will not retaliate.
  5. Iran declares war on Israel and the regional war against the Shi’a goes into overdrive.
  6. Shi’a majorities in Bahrain and Iraq and elsewhere rise up and turn the entire Middle East into a cauldron of bloody violence.
  7. Israel eventually becomes the focus of the wrath of all its neighbours.
  8. The reverberations are felt throughout the world. Terrorist acts take place in every major city. There is widespread religious and ethnic violence, reprisals, etc.
  9. It all climaxes with some massive nuclear detonations.
  10. Everyone looks back and realises that there never were any chemical weapons attacks carried out by the Syrian government.

You might think this is all very fanciful, but I have military friends in the US that were put on ‘Class 1 Alert’ on the weekend, indicating possible immediate deployment to Syria! Meanwhile, my sources in Damascus are expecting the bombing to start on Tuesday!

A Voice Crying in the Wilderness

with Mairead Maguire - my hero!

with Mairead Maguire – my hero!

Amidst all the beating of war-drums, I was greatly encouraged to hear the lone voice of my friend (and Nobel Peace Prize winner) Mairead Maguire, calling upon her Foreign Minister to stop agitating for war! Says Mairead:

“Arming rebels and authorizing military action by USA/NATO forces will not solve the problem facing Syria, but indeed could lead to the death of thousands of Syrians, the breaking-up of Syria, and it falling under the control of violent fundamentalist jihadist forces. It will mean the further fleeing of Syrians into surrounding countries which will themselves  become destabilised. The entire Middle East will become unstable and violence will spiral out of control.”

You can read Mairead’s complete press release here.

And while Mairead Fights the Good Fight in Britain, my dear friend Ghinwa (who you met last week) is just fighting to stay alive in Damascus!

Ghinwa visting the Ummayyad Mosque in Damascus

Ghinwa visiting the Ummayyad Mosque (Damascus)

Ghinwa and her family are on the move, looking for somewhere safe to shelter. They have lost many friends and family members. As an Alawite, Ghinwa knows she is a target to Jabhat Al-Nusra and the armies of foreign mercenaries that besiege her city.

We haven’t been able to secure a time yet when Ghinwa can join us for a conference call and it will have to wait until she finds somewhere safe to stay. In the meantime, let me share with you our latest text exchanges:

 Ghinwa: I was supposed to contact with you on Sunday but I was caught in Damascus because of clashes on the way back home. I was lucky on Monday to avoid mortar shells. Anyhow, we are all OK. Trying to find a safe place to move on to in Damascus …

Dave: You are in my constant prayers, my friend – you and your dear sister. I hope we can speak again soon. … Just let me know if you want to do that phone conference.

Ghinwa: I wanted to do that but every day something new happens. I was unable to leave home in the past two days, and until now … there are clashes in the area around the place I live in. There are military operations now around Damascus, heavy clashes around us, I have information that there are around 4,000 Al-Nusra fighters in Muadamia. This morning those fighters used chemical weapons against the Syrian Army…

After the massacres against Alawites that killed some 350-400 people (we have the names of 256 persons of them) two massacres took place – one against Christians in Wadi-Alnasara area. 20 Christian people were killed there in what Islamist fighters called the Islamist battle to control Wadi Al-Nasara, meaning “Christans’ Vallley”, and a massacre against Kurds that killed more than 200 Kurds.

… I don’t know what to say!

Dave: God bless you, my sister. It tears at my heart to hear these things. Out here we are being told of various accusations against the government for the use of chemical weapons. I have no idea whether there is any truth to these but certainly things are terrible.

Ghinwa: Yes, I know these stories, but I know the accusations to the government are not true. When I checked videos on the Internet, telling the story that the government used chemicals against people in Ghota, I noticed those videos were uploaded to YouTube before the time the alleged massacre took place…

We see the same people in three different videos. Each video claims that those were killed in a different place. The only difference is that they changed the places of the bodies and arranged the scene in a different way. They put once that those people were killed in Kafr – batna, and the other video tells those where killed in Irbeen area.

I’ll check the videos and send them by email if you wish, Father.

Dave: I will publish what you send me, sister, and try to get the word out. My only concern is whether it’s putting you at any greater risk by having your name and face associated with this information.

Ghinwa: I am already on their death lists. Belonging to Alawites is a justification to kill me. It is something I was born with, not something I chose. So no problems of putting my name and pictures there.

Ghinwa with our delegation in Damascus

Ghinwa with our delegation in Damascus

In case you think Ghinwa’s claims about the videos are outrageous, I note that Veterans News Now are reporting that Al Jazeera and Reuters published news of the latest Syrian massacre one day before it happened (see here)!

Faith without Love = Fundamentalism

As we all know, the looming war on Syria is not just a political issue. It’s also a faith issue.

In the New Testament “Letter to the Hebrews” (chapter 11) the author eulogises over all the wonderful things that people have accomplished throughout history through their faith. When I read this though the first thing that occurred to me was that Al Qaeda and Jabhat Al-Nusra also claim to be ‘faith organisations’ , though it seems to be a very different sort of faith to anything I’m familiar with.

How do we distinguish between good faith and bad faith? As a child I once believed that anybody who espoused the Christian faith must be a person of good faith whereas all members of other faiths are the bad guys. Then I studied the history of the church and realised (to use Desmond Tutu’s phrase) that “God is not a Christian”.

I believe the New Testament itself gives us a straightforward way of distinguishing between the faith that kills and the faith that gives life, and I it’s something that I think all Christian people need to take to heart.

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If you can’t view this video, click here

Vote Wikileaks!

Let me conclude this week’s missive with a shameless plug to all my fellow Australians: vote Wikileaks at the coming elections!

As George Galloway said when he was with us, if Australia votes in Julian Assange as a Senator we’ll be sending a message around the globe saying that Australia does not accept the ways that governments lie to their people and engage in murderous wars without the consent of the voting public!

And while the Wikileaks Party may not be the most polished and professional outfit in comparison to the more established party machines, one great thing Wikileaks does have is a solid policy on Syria (click here)!

with John Shipton (Julian Assange's dad) after church

with John Shipton (Julian Assange’s dad) after church (click to enlarge)

Let me conclude this missive with the same question with which I started:

Are we on the eve of Armageddon?

I think we could be. In my mathematical reckoning FSA+USA=WWIII

But don’t take my word for it. Let’s hear what some of the leaders of the churches in Syria and around the world believe:

“if there is an armed intervention, that would mean, I believe, a world war” 
Bishop Antoine Audo of Aleppo, President of Caritas Syria

The West thinks that with the Sunnis in government democracy will replace the dictatorship, but this is a great illusion: regime change by force, without giving security to the secular parties of inspiration, will trigger a conflict worse than in Iraq.”
Syriac Catholic Patriarch, Youssef III Younan

“the situation in the Middle East is becoming more and more critical as each day passes… there is a plan to destroy the Arab world for political and economic interests.”
Maronite Patriarch, Cardinal Bechara Rai

Once again, as was the case in Iraq, the United States is acting as an international executioner … Once again thousands of lives will be sacrificed on the altar of an imaginary democracy; among them there are, first of all, Christians, about whose fate no one cares.”
Metropolitan Hilarion, Russian Orthodox Church, Moscow Patriarchate.

Will you pray with me, fighter, as I pray with so many sisters and brothers across the world that this threat to unleash all hell on the people of Syria will come to nothing?

Your brother in the Good Fight,

Dave
www.fatherdave.org
www.fighting-fathers.com
www.zerocostwebsite.net
www.prayersforsyria.com
www.israelandpalestine.org
www.how2changetheworld.com

P.S. And as I’m apt to remind you, if you’d like to support our work, the best way is to become a financial member at fighting-fathers.com. It only costs you $10/month but it makes all the difference at this end!

 

About Father Dave Smith

Preacher, Pugilist, Activist, Father of four

Monday Missive – April 1st, 2013

HI Fighter,

Father Dave here and again I’m a day late with my Monday Missive, but this week it’s deliberate!

I figured that it would be a bit silly to broadcast my Easter sermon two weeks after Easter, and I didn’t think it right to urge Denning to work on the video on a public holiday so … the holiday is over, the video is up and the missive is posted! :-)

Thinking about Syria

It appears that our trip to Syria is back on the agenda! Indeed, it may take place May!

The whole process of postponement and rescheduling has been very educative and has been helpful for me personally in terms of helping me clarify what I see as my own role in the campaign for peace.

Without wanting to divulge information that should remain private, I can tell you that when the initial March visit was suddenly cancelled the day before we were scheduled to leave, a handful of the original delegates did travel to Syria regardless. These persons (who were from India) made it to Damascus, met with Mother Agnes, and returned home safely. From there they organised a follow-up peace conference in Damascus to which Denning and I were invited.

We decided not to attend the conference,  not because we disagreed with the aims of the organisers and not because we’d become any less concerned about Syria, but because the conference seemed to have quite a specific political agenda and I felt that if I had a contribution to make it was more in supporting grass-roots humanitarian work than broad political change.  Again, this wasn’t because I consider the work of political change unimportant – far from it – but because I don’t think it’s my area of expertise and I simply don’t feel it’s my calling to be involved at that level (at least for the moment).

Anyway, it appears now that Mother Agnes is re-initiating the tour of the grass-roots initiatives being undertaken by her Mussalaha (‘reconciliation’) group and I am keen to do whatever I can to support her wonderful work. Of course nothing is confirmed as yet but I would appreciate your prayers and ongoing advice. :-)

Thinking MORE about Syria

While I don’t see myself as being an agent for political change, I am doing my best to understand what is really going on in Syria and the rest of the Middle East, and I normally add two articles each day to my blog on Middle Eastern events – www.israelandpalestine.org – .as well as pieces I publish on our member site.

I’d like to draw your attention to two resources that I’ve found particularly helpful in the last week and that I hope you’ll find enlightening too. Both of them appear on our member site.

The first is a video posted by Fighting Father Ali Baghdadi, entitled “WWIII is Coming Soon and Here’s Why”. It covers the relationship between gold, the US dollar and the trading of petroleum, and how this all relates to the wars in the Middle East that we are familiar with.

The second is an audio of a one-hour radio show that includes a 20-minute interview with Deepa Kumar – Associate Professor of Media Studies and Middle Eastern Studies at Rutgers University in the USA – on the topic of Syria’s alleged weapons of mass destruction.

Kumar draws attention to the similarities between the current talk of ‘Weapons of Mass Destruction’ in Syria and the almost identical accusations leveled against Saddam Hussein ten years ago. Once again it appears that the US is about to unleash massive violence against an already beleaguered nation on the basis of accusations that are at best speculative.

Moreover, as Kumar points out, the assumption behind the US President’s latest ultimatum to the Syrian government is that the USA has the right to intervene militarily wherever it deems it necessary to change the course of world affairs, like a father stepping in to pacify his quarreling children.

It is taken for granted, of course, that this paternal act will lead to the betterment of all the warring peoples involved, and yet even a cursory glance at the recent history of US intervention shows the opposite to be the case! Indeed, the only real beneficiaries of the US interventions in. Iraq, Libya and Afghanistan seem to be US and multinational business interests!

The interview with Kumar is in the first half of this audio broadcast. Even so, I kept the entire broadcast intact as the second half also includes a powerful interview. It’s with Fred Branfman who, in the late 1960’s, was the first person to report to the world the US secret bombing campaign of Laos.

Christ is Risen

Let me balance out these painful reflections with the wonderful proclamation of Easter!

Christ is Risen!
He is Risen indeed! :-)

The resurrection of Jesus is a great beacon of hope for our sick and suffering world. It’s the ultimate reminder that death and destruction are never the end of the story! :-)

That’s not exactly the theme of my Easter sermon but I hope you enjoy it anyway.

[imaioVideo v=1]

  • If you can’t view this video, click here.
  • If you’d prefer the audio recording (with much better audio quality) click here.
  • If you’d prefer to read the written version, click here.

That’s enough from me for today.

Apologies if this Easter missive was a bit ‘heavy’ but I’m sure you’ve had your fill of chocolate and fluffy bunnies over the last few days. :-)

May the Lord bless and strengthen you for the work to which you have been called.

Your brother in the Good Fight,

Dave
www.fatherdave.org
www.fighting-fathers.com
www.israelandpalestine.org
www.how2changetheworld.com

P.S. And as I’m apt to remind you, if you’d like to support our work, the best way is to become a financial member at fighting-fathers.com. It only costs you $10/month but it makes all the difference at this end!

About Father Dave Smith

Preacher, Pugilist, Activist, Father of four