Dialogue C/O EXIST issue
Calvin College's cultural magazine Dialogue publish a special commemorative issue for C/O EXIST Middle East culture series. It contains the Calvin community’s art and writing about the Middle East.
w Contents 2 3 4 5 7 8 9 14 15 16 18 23 26 Syria: Numbers and Locations of Syrian Refugees Humanitarian Information Unit CAIROMANIA Anna Hanchett Introduction to Syrian Panel Jonathan Eigege Summary on Syrian Panel Joel Westra Comments on Syrian Panel Becca McBride Reflection on Syrian Panel Martin Awabdeh Refugees of the Syrian Conflict: Views from Umm el-Jimal Zaatari Camp in Jordan Bert de Vries Recipes Adam Wolpa Untitled Photograph Joel Bulthuis A Revolution in Spray Paint Josh Lee Hope Equals Miracles Mariano Avila Algerian Chronicles Peter Speelman Peace Alone is Not the Answer David Crump 1 C/O EXIST 2 C/O EXIST 3 C/O EXIST 1: Introduction Jonathan Eigege Aim Defeat Rebels Global Russia China Regional Iran Defeat Regime United States United Kingdom France Turkey Saudi Arabia Qatar UAE Egypt Why should we bother? Not only because this conflict could have significant international ramifications but also because we are called, as Christians, to love our neighbors as ourselves. The continuation of the crisis could mean the growth of volatility in the Middle East region. Syria is Iran’s only total state-ally in the region and thus Iran has already sent parts of its revolutionary guard to back the government. It will do anything to maintain the Shiite, Alawite majority in government so it is not left swimming alone in the Middle East. The Kurds and Sunnis in Iraq specifically, but in the Middle East in general, like Iran, also see this conflict as an opportunity to consolidate their positions in Syria. Historically, conflicts and ethnic strife in Syria have spilled into Lebanon and this could occur again. Most importantly, we don’t want an Iraq #2. After the fall of Saddam Hussein, who came from a minority people group just like the Assad family, the majority people group who assumed power participated in an “ethnic cleansing of sorts.’” In Syria, if that does hap- Nongovernmental Hezbollah Iraqi Shi’ite militas PFLP al-Qaeda backed groups pen, the effects will be more far reaching. Most importantly, we must think of the millions of innocent people caught in the middle of this conflict for no fault of theirs; people who just want peace but who have had to watch their family members die gruesome deaths and their lives crumble. People have had to flee their livelihoods and live in a land not their own. The refugee crisis from the Syria crisis is very real and tangible. There are about 2.5 million refugees from this crisis dispersed around the entire Middle-East region. One striking example is the refugee camp at Zaatari, in Jordan, which is now the country’s fifth largest city. Jordan has taken in about 550,000 refugees. Proportionally, that would be like the United States suddenly opening its borders and allowing 25 million people in. Absurd right? But maybe America and the West need to do more to accommodate our displaced brothers and sisters. It’s the least we can do. Like Martin Luther King Jr. once said, “Injustice anywhere, is a threat to justice everywhere.” 4 C/O EXIST II: Summary on Syria Panel Joel Westra The current situation in Syria is one of civil war, in which the government of Bashar al-Assad has used military force in an effort to maintain political power in the face of a protracted armed rebellion. Though estimates vary, it is generally agreed that more than 100,000 people have died as a result of violence stemming this rebellion and the al-Assad governmentâ€™s attempts to quell it. Recently, evidence has emerged that chemical weapons were used within Syria on one or more occasions. These weapons were launched from government-controlled areas against rebel-controlled areas. However, the al-Assad government has denied responsibility for using chemical weapons, claiming that these weapons were used by rebels in an attempt to elicit foreign military intervention on behalf of the rebels against the al-Assad government. In response to both widespread killing and to the use of chemical weapons within Syria, there have been widespread calls for foreign military intervention. Thus far, however, the international response has been limited to non-military action, and multilateral diplomacy largely has been stymied by disagreement among the five permanent members of the United Nations Security Council (UNSC). To understand the limited international response to the current situation in Syria, it is necessary to consider the broader institutional context that shapes and constrains international decision-making. Interaction among states occurs under conditions of international anarchy, in which power and authority are decentralized. To mitigate uncertainty and to facilitate cooperation under such conditions, states have established systems of international order comprising interrelated international institutions that reflect statesâ€™ shared interests and address statesâ€™ shared concerns. Given the purpose and design of international institutions, there are two interrelated tensions inherent in them: a tension between interests and norms and a tension between sovereignty and efficacy. International security institutions, which include intergovernmental organizations such as the United Nations (UN) and the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) as well as international treaties such as the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) and the Biological Weapons Convention (BWC), are based primarily on an instrumentalist logic. Most institutions also include normative aspirations, but their design primarily reflects instrumental goals of enhancing clarity, stability, and predictability of state interaction while also preserving the sovereignty of interacting states. Thus, normative aspirations tend to be included in preambulatory references, implemented via weak institutional structures, and constrained by structures or practices intended to preserve state sovereignty. These tensions between interests and norms and between sovereignty and efficacy, which are reflected in the design and function of international institutions, can be seen in the international response to the current situation in Syria. Consider, for example, how the situation has been framed, which institutions are in the forefront, and what types of responses have resulted. Although there is evidence that the civil war in Syria is taking on characteristics of an 5 C/O EXIST ethnic conflict, insofar as the al-Assad government is dominated by an Alawite political elite and the rebellion consists primarily of Sunni-led groups, there has been relatively little discussion of the conflict as a possible genocide. Nor have states invoked the 1948 Genocide Convention, which would trigger an obligation that states “undertake to prevent and to punish” such actions. In general, states are reluctant invoke the Genocide Convention, because as doing so would obligate them to undertake actions based on primarily norms rather than on interests – at least insofar as those interests are narrowly defined. Instead, the situation in Syria has been framed, more generally, as a humanitarian catastrophe. Even so, there has been reluctance by the Security Council to invoke the Responsibility To Protect (R2P), an informal institution obligating states “to take collective action, in a timely and decisive manner, through the Security Council … should peaceful means be inadequate and national authorities manifestly fail to protect their populations from genocide, war crimes, ethnic cleansing and crimes against humanity.” In general, states have been less reluctant to invoke R2P than to invoke the Genocide Convention, insofar as their obligations under R2P involve the Security Council, in which the permanent members often disagree over their national interests and hence have difficulty reaching agreement regarding collective action. Beyond disagreement over competing interests, however, there also is a concern for sovereignty at play here. When R2P was invoked in the Libya case, the resulting military intervention led to the overthrow of the al-Gaddafi government. Since then, states have been increasingly concerned about the sovereignty implications of invoking R2P – and hence even more reluctant to invoke it than they were before. It is in this context that we can begin to understand why the deaths of 100,000 people by conventional weapons evoked such a tepid international response, while the deaths of several hundred people by chemical weapons evoked a somewhat stronger international response. Pertaining to the use of chemical weapons in Syria, the institutions invoked by states are Declaration II of the 1899 Hague Conventions and the 1925 Geneva Protocol to the Hague Conventions, which prohibit the use of chemical weapons. In these institutions, the tension between interests and norms is not as strong as it in the institutions discussed above. Most people believe find chemical weapons morally objectionable because of the suffering they cause to their victims, both to the combatants that are their intended target and to the noncombatants who are their unintended target. Moreover, states have an interest in protecting their civilian populations against chemical weapons, and so negotiated institutions prohibiting their use. The tension between sovereignty and efficacy in these institutions is much stronger, however. Chemical weapons have military purposes, such that states are reluctant to give them up entirely. Moreover, the process of destroying chemical weapons safely is difficult and time-consuming. Thus, states are both reluctant to forego weapons that might help them to secure their sovereignty in situations of civil or international conflict and reluctant to cede sovereignty to independent actors that could monitor state compliance with these institutions. As a party to both institutions, Syria had no obligation under them to destroy its weapons or to submit to outside monitoring and verification. Its only obligation was not to use chemical weapons, and Syria claims to have complied with this obligation. What was necessary, then, to mitigate the threat of possible future chemical weapons attacks was for Syria to accede to the 1997 Chemical Weapons Convention (CWC), which includes obligations to destroy all chemical weapons and to submit to inspections by the independent Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW). Syria recently did accede to the Chemical Weapons Convention, but why? Most likely because, in ceding some sovereignty to the 6 C/O EXIST OPCW under the CWC, it helped to secure its remaining sovereignty against the possibility of foreign military intervention by removing the most likely trigger for such intervention, viz. allegations that it was using chemical weapons. With states reluctant to intervene primarily for humanitarian reasons, and with Security Council members reluctant to invoke R2P, by acceding to the CWC Syria is able to maintain most of its sovereignty, Security Council mem- III: bers are able claim that they have carried out their “responsibility for the maintenance of international peace and security” under Article 24 of the UN Charter, and the Norwegian Nobel Committee is able award the Nobel Peace Prize to the OPCW and while expressing “hope that this award ... will help broader efforts to achieve peace in [Syria] and (ease) the suffering of its people,” even as the civil war in Syria wages on and the death toll continues to rise. Comments on Syria Becca McBride Today I want to attempt to answer the question: What exactly is Russia doing? Or more specifically, what is Putin doing? There are three specific things Putin has done in the past month that seem puzzling. First, Putin has supported, and continues to support, the Syrian regime; despite the fact that the rest of the world thinks this is a very bad idea. Second, Putin wrote an op-ed for the NY Times in which he appealed directly to the American people. Third, he continues to block a UN Security Council resolution that would hold Syria accountable by threatening military action if Syria fails to follow through in disclosing and surrendering its chemical weapons. I want to answer this question by first discussing two Russian interests that are likely driving Putin’s behavior. Then I will discuss two contradictions, or tensions, in Putin’s recent behavior. First, Russia has an interest in preventing the United States from getting involved in the domestic affairs of other countries. This is in Russia’s interest for economic reasons; Russia sells military technology to regimes that the United States sees as problematic. If the United States gets involved in those regimes’ domestic affairs, Russia could lose customers and take an economic hit. Additionally, if the United States attacks Syria, they will be attacking Russian military technology. If they are able to defeat that technology, this will undermine the quality of Russian military technology. Russia also has an interest in keeping the United States out of other states’ domestic affairs because Russia has its own domestic problems. For example, last year the United States passed a law, the Magnitskiy Act, that prevents Russians who are accused of human rights abuses from receiving visas to travel to the United States and from owning property in the United States. From a Russian standpoint, it is extremely problematic for the United States to adopt a law domestically that punishes Russian citizens. Immediately following the passage of this law, the Russian Duma passed a law banning US citizens from adopting Russian children. Second, Russia has an interest in using its primary power tool, its veto power in the UN Security Council, to reclaim some of the power it lost at the end of the Cold War. Russia no longer has the domestic resources—economic or military resources—to wield significant power in the international system. But Russia 7 C/O EXIST does still have its position on the UN Security Council, and Putin intends to use that position to reassert Russia’s power in the international system. This is one of the reasons that Putin is so adamant that the United States must act through the UN Security Council to gain multilateral support for any military action in Syria. Based on these interests, there are two key contradictions in Putin’s behavior. I hope by highlighting these tensions that we might provide an avenue for discussion. The first contradiction, or tension, is the contradiction between what Syria represents to the United States and what it represents to Russia. For the United States, Syria is a here and now problem. It is something for which we need to find a quick solution. And we hope that our quick solution might contribute to a longer-term solution. But for Russia, Syria represents a much larger problem with the United States seeking to get involved in the affairs of other states. As Dmitri Trenin reminds us, Putin plans to be in power long after President Obama is gone. His problem is not with President Obama. His problem is with ongoing US foreign policy goals. This is why he published an op-ed in a US newspaper, essentially going over the head of the US president and appealing directly to the people of the United States. A public that will be around long after President Obama is gone. He hopes to convince the US public that the only moral course of action is to work through the United Nations. This leads to the second contradiction in Putin’s behavior. This is the fact that Putin criticizes the United States for acting unilaterally in the past instead of relying on the multilateral institutions in place to deal with aggressive states. But Putin, as Russia’s representative, is unilaterally preventing the UN Security Council from holding Syria accountable. The United States has called for a UN Security Council resolution that commits to use force against Syria if the regime fails to disclose and surrender its chemical weapons. Putin continues to block this resolution in the UN Security Council. This contradiction undermines Putin’s message to the American public. If the multilateral tool in place to deal with aggressive states is held hostage by one state, then that tool is unable to effectively accomplish the purpose for which it was created. IV Martin Awabdeh I talked about two things. First, I talked about the complexity of what’s going on in Syria, and then I talked about the little good that is coming out of the civil war. It’s a very complex issue because there are many different rebel groups that are fighting against the government. Some of them are radical Muslims who want to rule Syria under Sharia law, which is the Muslim law. Even under the radical rebels there are many small armies, and under the moderate rebels it is the same. Its very difficult to decide who the U.S should arm fear of handing weapons to al-Qaida linked rebels. The other thing I talked about was the little good that is coming out of the civil war. Many people from Christian backgrounds are starting to know Christ in a more personal level, and even better than that, many people from Muslim backgrounds are becoming believers. They are finding peace and hope amongst all this terror in Jesus Christ. 8 C/O EXIST Refugees of the Syrian Conflict Views from Umm el-Jimal and Zaatari Camp in Jordan Bert de Vries Syrian refugees in Jordan In the middle of May 2012 Awda al-Masa’eid, my master stone mason responsible for a tricky arched-window preservation job at Umm el-Jimal, Jordan, vanished without a trace, and work on the windows came to a standstill. When he resurfaced three days later we learned he had discovered that an extended family of Syrian refugees from a town in south Syria were his distant cousins from another branch of the Masa’eid tribe. Though penniless himself, he had borrowed money for renting a bus to bring them from the border and a house in a nearby village; in addition he acquired basic furnishings and groceries on credit from numerous local merchants. He returned to work $2,500 in debt but totally pleased he had done his hospitable duty to his relatives, people he had never even seen before. This clan of nineteen, Mahmoud and Iman and their children and grandchildren, included three adult males, seven adult women – wives and older daughters - and nine children. In March 2012, they fled from their village, al-Mismiyah south of Damascus after the Syrian army killed ‘many’ of their fellow villagers, destroyed their houses and threatened to kill them because a son and son-in-law were high-ranked soldiers in the opposition Freedom Army. Thus they ‘ran’ south to the border nearly penniless and with only the clothes on their backs. They have now been in Jordan for 20 months, mostly unemployed and with no hope of going back. To help them and Awda we, Jordanian co-workers and our American relatives, colleagues and friends, pooled our funds to pay off Awda’s debts and support the refugee family with a monthly stipend of about $200, for which we continue to raise money. SinAce early 2012 between 500,000 and a million Syrian refugees like them have crossed the border into Jordan mostly from villages nearby in south Syria. Amazingly, many of these have found hosts like Awda because of the shared culture, tribal connections and family relationships that have survived the artificial border imposed by British and French fiat in 1932. Many others, especially those who came with enough money for rent and food, resettled throughout Jordan and have competed with Jordanians in an already strained job market. Though Jordanian hospitality has been impressive, this sudden population increase – roughly 10% - has put a tremendous strain on Jordan’s economy and infrastructure. For example last week we spoke with one young Jordanian, a university graduate, who lost his Burger King minimum-wage job to a refugee who was willing to work for one-third less pay. Understandably, our young friend is frustrated, and the longer the flow of refugees continues the more prevalent such frustration will become. 9 C/O EXIST Zaatari Camp – an alternative “solution” As we finished our archaeology season at Umm el-Jimal in June, 2012, the flow of refugees into Jordan continued at the rate of one to two thousand per day. To absorb them more efficiently, UNHCR, the UN Committee for Refugees, and Jordan’s Government decided to start a refugee camp in July, the now much publicized Zaatari Camp. By coincidence this camp is located on government land only four kilometers south of Umm el-Jimal, within sight Syria itself. As a result, some of my local Jordanian staff with organizational skills honed by archaeological field work have been working as specialists in the camp’s drinking water supply and sewage disposal. Through them we’ve had unusual access to the refugee camp, and I’ve been able to document the growth of the camp from periodic visits from Oct. 1, 2012, to Oct. 7, 2013. The day of my first visit coincided with a super-hot sandstorm which sent some of the UNHCR tents flying and frayed nerves so much that in the night some of the 30,000 residents rioted and burned down some offices, including that of the German NGO employing my colleagues. By late November driving rainstorms turned the volcanic red clay soil into a muddy quagmire and flooded some tents in a foot of water. To remedy these horrible conditions the entire site of the camp was gradually ‘paved’ with a layer of clean crushed lime-stone, storm run-off drains were installed and a paved road system created – i.e., the infrastructure of a small city had to be designed and constructed. In addition, central bathrooms with showers, septic tanks, schools and playgrounds (UNICEF), hospitals and clinics, a food distribution center, and police posts were built and staffed. In our subsequent visits we saw the camp grow to the current size (120-150,000 residents) functioning much like a medium size city, but built from scratch on a piece of inhospitable desert land in little more than a year. On our last visit this October, Zaatari Camp seemed like a well-run metropolis for 150,000 with space for growth to 175,000. (A second camp for 300,000 is in preparation farther east.) The refugees themselves have created a business district they call the “Champs Elysées” where you can buy everything from fresh-baked bread to bridal gowns. Residents themselves deny the reports of sex and drug trafficking as rumor-mongering. There are weddings and several births each day. (For a really fine sense of the rhythm and quality of life read Jack Seeley’s Syrian Wedding, a superbly written extended journal centered on the preparations for a camp wedding, available as a Kindle publication for $2.) My archaeologist colleague Muaffaq, who is now the contractor responsible for overseeing the inflow of 5 million liters of drinkable water per day, and the equivalent outflow of liquid waste, took us around last week. This time the weather was wonderful and everything functioned in an orderly manner. We visited the Italian-Jordanian hospital, basically a clinic for pediatric and pre/postnatal care, staffed by Jordanian army doctors, who were frustrated by the constant shortage of basic medicines for treating their patients, especially children. Thus my wife Sally and I came home with another task: to find quantities of surplus medicines here in Michigan to help restock their dispensary. To have this camp functioning so well is a credit to hundreds of willing and skilled people like Muaffaq, who also have the goodwill and grace to be both hosts and dispensers of mercy. On my first visit I imagined the camp as a concentration camp, but now I see it as a city. In fact, residents are free to leave if they have a sponsor (or to return to Syria), but quite a few who do come back to the camp because life outside is tougher (even if you can get a job at Burger King!). Refugees and the Syrian Conflict Nevertheless, the presence of over 500,000 refugees in Jordan and 150,000 in 10 C/O EXIST Zaatari is a permanently scarring wound on the human landscape. The situation of Jordan repeats itself in Lebanon, Turkey and Iraq in only slightly different ways. Two million Syrians have fled the country, and another four million are internal refugees. That means one fourth of Syria’s population is uprooted. Living across the border in a camp, even one as well run as Zaatari, or working in a fast food joint in Amman, is not the key to happiness, but is a mere salve on the deep wounds of uprootedness and shredded identity. Euphoria over the current international diplomacy over Syria’s chemical weapons has overshadowed awareness of the undiminished suffering in a war that continues to rage unabated with little international effort to end it. While the removal of the chemical weapons may prevent massacres in the future, it does nothing to relieve the continued flight of Syrian people from their towns and villages, not sim- ply to escape ‘collateral damage,’ but to flee from intentionally targeted bombing and shelling of their houses. Listening to NPR today, even as I write, you’d think that the Obama-Putin negotiated chemical weapons cleansing is all that remains to bring peace back to Syria. While we were in Jordan last week (Oct 7-14) the refugees could hear the bombing of villages just north of the border. Hordes of refugees are massing at the border, but few are getting through, because Jordanian authorities feel the country is saturated with refugees. Rumors are that those stuck north of the border are without food and shelter and suffer killings from periodic government shelling. I feel strongly that any internationally brokered solution that does not put their plight at the center is phony and heartless. And the world should mobilize to prevent the reoccurrence of such heartless victimization of civilian populations in the future. Photography by: Bert de Vries Awda Masa’eid at work buttressing an arched window at Byzantine Umm el-Jimal. 24 May, 2012. 11 C/O EXIST Awda (on the right) with some of his 19 Syrian refugee relatives. Mahmoud and Iman, the clan parents, are in the middle. The son-in-law in the white shirt, a mason, has only been able to find occasional work. The younger women find harvesting jobs now and then. 20 May 2012. Children of Zaatari. Less than half the 10,000s of school age children attend the UNICEF schools. Some young boys prefer to fill their time scavenging and pilfering camp equipment to earn small change, and for the adventure. 18 January 2013. 12 C/O EXIST Recipes Adam Wolpa 3/4 cup quinoa 1 1/2 cups veg broth bring to a boil, turn to low heat, cover and cook 13 minutes. 3 cups chopped parsley leaves (about 2 bunches) 1 cup chopped mint leaves 2 T cold pressed olive oil juice of one lemon 1/2 cup diced tomatoes salt and pepper mix all together with cooled cooked quinoa 13 C/O EXIST 13 C/O EXIST 2 whole eggplant cut into long sixths and salt heavily to extract liquid allow salt to penetrate for 15 minutes, then rinse and squeeze all water out of slices 1 green pepper, seeded and quartered toss in olive oil oil, salt and pepper and roast or grill at extremely high heat. grill is best! pepper and eggplant should be tender with a nice, dark char. 3 T tahini juice of half lemon salt and pepper 14 C/O EXIST Photography by: Joel Bulthuis 15 C/O EXIST Josh Lee If you walk through Cairo these days, chances are you’ll see graffiti and spray paint covering just about any open wall space in the capital. The graffiti ranges from the first days of the January 25 revolution in 2011, to the most recent protests by anti-military and Muslim Brotherhood supporters. You can essentially trace the revolution’s history in spray paint. In many ways, and perhaps even more importantly, the graffiti is also deeply symbolic of where Egypt is today. Almost three years ago during my senior year at Calvin, I watched the streets of Egypt explode into protests. It was frightening yet thrilling to see millions of Egyptians marching in the streets and eventually overthrowing thirty years of dictatorship. I remember talking to my Egyptian friends back in Cairo who I had met during a semester abroad in spring of 2010. Even in the midst of a frigid Michigan winter 6,000 miles away from Cairo, I could feel their excitement. Euphoria might be a better way to describe my friends’ and the protesters’ optimism that painted the streets of Cairo in the colors of the Egyptian flag. I saw Christian protesters link arms and protect fellow Muslim protesters during prayer and vice versa. There was genuine hope that this was the change everyone had been waiting for. Fast forward two and a half years later, and you’d be hard pressed to find the same energy and idealism that drove former President Hosny Mubarak out of power. The colorful graffiti that so loudly expressed the frustrations and the hopes of the 25 January revolution are fading fast on the walls surrounding Tahrir Square. It hasn’t yet been three years since the first protests, but there are now even tours being offered to see the “graffiti of the revolution.” It’s almost as if the revolution is done and dusted, something of the past. Revolutionary jargon such as “martyrs of the revolution” is common place now, and political leaders and parties are quick to justify their actions using phrases like “preserving the revolution.” The result has been that with the cheapening of the word “revolution,” the revolution as an idea has been cheapened. Nothing kills a revolution quicker than memorializing it before it is complete. The graffiti from the first wave of protests, however, is steadily disappearing and being painted over. There is still a fresh layer of spray paint coating Cairo almost every week, but it couldn’t look any more different from the idealistic colors of the 25 January revolution. In the days and months leading up to the mass protests that overthrew former President Muhammad Morsy, buildings throughout Cairo were covered in “Morsy out” graffiti. Following Morsy’s ousting, Egypt witnessed some of the worst violence the country has ever seen when counter protests and sit-ins were forcibly cleared in Rabaa and Nahda squares. Protests against the military have continued nearly every Friday since then, leaving “Sisi killer” scrawled in angry red letters side by side with the “Morsy out” graffiti. Much like the graffiti that covers its walls, Egypt is very much a jumble of opinions and divisions. It’s tempting to simply state that it’s the military and the liberals pitted against the Muslim Brotherhood and the religious conservatives. But as always, reality is far more 16 C/O EXIST Photography by: Josh Lee complicated. There are liberals both for the military and against the military, and there are religious conservatives for and against the Muslim Brotherhood. You also have the Christian population in Egypt which has been increasingly targeted and attacked during pro-Morsy protests. Itâ€™s not difficult to see why many Egyptian Christians are relieved to see the Muslim Brotherhood gone. So what now for Egypt? We wait and see. The current government backed by the military is cracking down on the Muslim Brotherhood. Recently, the Muslim Brotherhood was banned by Egyptian courts and its assets were frozen. Much of the Brotherhood leadership is behind bars and awaiting trials. Itâ€™s not a stretch to say that things are as bad or worse now for the Muslim Brotherhood than under the Mubarak regime. The Constitution is being amended (again). The economy is still flagging and the tourism industry near non-existent. Many Egyptians seem disillusioned with the democratic process. The same friends of mine, who had taken to the streets in 2011 and actively participated in the following elections and referendums now refuse to take part in any political process. Egypt is tired. There are many who talk longingly of the stability under Mubarak. It all seems discouraging. What needs to be remembered is that Egypt is in transition. Democracy is a messy process and, having been silenced, bullied, and abused by its government for over 30 years, it is not surprising that Egypt is struggling. However, what we know is that Egypt has found its voice which, once given, cannot be taken away again. So. What is left for us now is to wait, see, pray, and hope that this revolution can be more than just the fading words of spray paint on the walls and streets of Cairo. 17 C/O EXIST Mariano Avila Three women in their fifties helped me find ways to hope for reconciliation among the people of the Holy Land: one woman lost her faith, the other lost her home, and the third lost half of her brain. I. The first time I went to Israel and Palestine, was during Sukkot, the Jewish Feast of the Tabernacle, in which the observant set up tents and live in them for seven days, to remember the precariousness of the forty years in the desert as well as God’s deliverance into the Holy Land. There were thousands of people gathered to pray in the large, sunken square in front of the Western Wall. I arrived during a particularly important prayer in which a handful of men took turns reading from the Torah while standing on a small altar or stage. Being that they were rabbis and likely Chassidic or Orthodox, I imagined that they were wearing black beneath the white shoals that covered their heads and shoulders. All of the rabbis not in the prayer area sported black wool suits despite the 100ºF temperature. Some men even wore fur hats. But inside the prayer area was a brilliant pool of white made up of thousands, all praying and reciting together, a call and response. Next to them was the women’s section where everyone had their arms and hair covered, and some stood on chairs, clinging to the wooden fence dividing sexes in order to feel closer to the prayers and catch a better look. I stood taking video behind everyone, in the common area, where men and women can stand together. No doubt I looked out of place dressed in tan linen and no head covering. I take it you’re not Jewish, said a grinning woman in her fifties who wore a white, billowy dress, a white and blue tichel, or head scarf. Her accent could have been from any country where the language uses a hard “r” and a hard “h.” I offered her a somewhat regretful smile, because truly, in the atmosphere of multitudes gathered from around the world to pray, the most basic part of our spiritual humanity wants badly to belong, to participate. It’s alright, she said, you see that man leading the prayers, the one in front, well that’s my husband. Her eyes shone with pride as she looked over at her husband, who had clearly achieved honor in his religious community. Still, I caught a hint of something else in that look. Not knowing how reverence is shown in the Middle East, I did a half-nod, half-bow that made her chuckle. Mariano Avila manages Hope Equals, a project of Christian Reformed World Missions that connects North American college and graduate students to peacemakers in Israel and Palestine. He is a Calvin graduate (2003) and has an MFA in creative fiction writing from Warren Wilson College. He lives in Grand Rapids, Michigan with his wife Kate (2005), and their six-month-old daughter Isabel Paz. 18 C/O EXIST For the next fifteen minutes she explained the prayers and translated what was being said, prayers for deliverance, prayers for success. She explained the tents and why everyone seemed to be holding long palm-like branches wrapped up into pointy rods—part of the holiday’s command to take “the four species” mentioned in Leviticus to the synagogue or temple: fruit, palm, bough from a leafy tree, and willow branch. She pointed out men from the Diaspora, wearing kippahs, small, disk-like head coverings worn on the crown of one’s head, and the little boys kippah’s featuring FC Barcelona, the New York Yankees, and Sponge Bob. We are children of the world, she said. But this is home. So, how about your children, I asked, are your kids here? Her excitement dissolved and her eyes shot back toward her husband with sadness this time. I don’t know what made her trust me enough to say what she said before we parted ways. Our daughter isn’t observant, she said. Tears filled her eyes. She doesn’t come with us anymore. Mortified at the insensitivity in my question, I apologized. It’s not your fault, she said, it’s alright. Can I ask what you believe? I told her I was Christian, and in another well-meaning gesture, I said I had no choice, my dad was a pastor and theology professor my whole life. Still looking toward the praying multitude and the wall and her husband wrapped in white, she said, my husband is also a rabbi and theology professor. I could hardly bare so much embarrassment. You have a choice, she said lifting her chin and touching her hand to the place where a single strand of long hair was curling out of her tichel. Most Chassidic women keep their hair short after marriage, it’s not required, but it’s a practice that has its advantages. I couldn’t help but wonder what choices she was thinking about making or had already made. We all have choices, she said, we all do. When she finally turned to me, she placed my hand between both of hers. -God bless you son, welcome to Israel. The Wailing Wall is the last remnant of the second temple, destroyed seventy years after the death of Jesus. The forty-five giant limestone courses that make up what’s visible of the wall symbolize what has been lost, what has been recovered, and what Israelis hope to gain yet. By all rights an insider, that woman welcomed a gentile man to Israel, in the holiest place to Jewish faith, at a moment when her own faith seems fragile to her. We parted ways. She went into the women’s section. I left the old city and headed for Bethlehem, in Palestine. II. Al Walaja is a small, Palestinian, farming community just outside of Bethlehem. It is built around a large hill and is surrounded by Israeli-only areas: Jerusalem to the north, Gilo settlement to the northeast, and Har Gilo to the south. Um Mohammed (not her real name) a thin peace activist in her fifties, lives there with her five sons. They are all part of the nonviolence movement in the town, except her husband, whom she says has given up hope. She inherited her home from her father who built it in the 1930s, but in the early millennium it was confiscated for by the Israeli army and demolished. Three times. On the dusty afternoon that I visited Al Walaja, Um Mohammed was wearing black slacks, flat sneakers and a long-sleeve T-shirt under a pink, short-sleeve with the NYU written on the front. She didn’t wear a hijab, like most Muslim women in town, instead she had her hair hidden under a feminine version of a turban that she fashioned herself. She lead us to the site where the bent rebar and broken cinder blocks that used to be her home now lay in a pile of rubble. What did my sons ever do to them, she said, looking down the hill at the workers and yellow Caterpillar trucks clearing her neighbor’s olive grove to build the 30-foot-tall concrete wall that Israel is building throughout Palestine. When her house was demolished the first time, her sons came to try to talk to the Israeli army 19 C/O EXIST but were immediately arrested and taken away. No charges. The oldest got a beating that put him in the hospital for days. Um Mohammed, though unhurt, lost nearly everything in the demolition. They gave me ten minutes to take out documents and valuable things from my home before a bulldozer made my house into this, she said stomping on the rubble. I followed the length of the wall, or what is visible, about a mile’s worth. The path of the wall never got closer than 200 yards from Um Mohammed’s home. She watched me trace the line of the wall up and down several times before she spoke again. They sent a notice the first time, she said. They said the wall would go right through our house and they destroyed it. There were no tears in her eyes, rather, I saw a certain numbness that made me feel powerless. But you built the house again, I said. She nodded. The wall took a different rout, she said, we thought we’d be safe to come back and rebuild, but another notice came saying we are a threat to the wall because we are 100 yards from it. Down the hillside, the Caterpillar trucks looked different than the ones I’d seen anywhere else , their cockpits were shielded in bulletproof glass and reinforced metal panels. They looked like yellow tanks with front-loader buckets. The second time her house was torn down, her sons and husband hid in a nearby cave and managed to avoid the beatings and arrests. So what made you build after the second demolition, I asked. This is our land, she said, I don’t have anywhere else to go. She then explained that the rout had moved yet again, even further away, and that the town pitched in to build again. The whole town showed up to protest when they tore it down, she said, but what can we do, we are Palestinians and we are nonviolent. Some people were beaten, many of the men and boys got arrested. A week before I showed up in Al Walaja asking questions, Um Mohammed received money to rebuild her home. The gift came from the Israeli Committee Against Home Demo- litions, an international, largely Jewish, organization that rebuilds Palestinians houses demolished by the Israeli army. Um Mohammed stood there 5’2” and 100lbs, a silent strength, nothing aggressive, nothing violent, just resilient and dogged. How can you possibly keep building, I asked her. -I refuse to leave as long as my body allows me to stay, even if I have to live in the cave beneath my garden. I told her that internationals like me would keep standing with her and her sons in nonviolent resistance. I realized almost immediately that I’d said it more for my sake than for hers. I could feel the anger swell up inside me, righteous at first but if left to fester, it’s a dangerous thing to hold. She had every reason to be angry, hateful even, but she seemed alarmingly calm in the face of it all. -Refuse to hate, she said, as long as you have your mind don’t poison it with hate. III. Toward the end of my first visit to the Holy Land, I broke off from my group and spent a few days making connections in Bethlehem. When it was time to meet up with them again, I decided to go back to Jerusalem and try to stay at the Casanova Hotel, where the group had stayed for the first few nights. I took a bus from Bethlehem to the depot near Damascus gate, which is in the Muslim Quarter. As soon as I got off the bus I sensed tension. There were hundreds of people in the street and very few children. Almost everyone was heading toward the Damascus gate with eerie determination. As I made my way down the narrow street I saw vendors closing their shops. By the Damascus gate was a large crowd of Palestinians and international activists. A group of riot police scrambled a block away, trying to form a line. I made my way as quickly as possible to the gate and asked a man selling dates and figs how best to get to the Casanova. As I got inside the walls of the Old City, rubber bullets began 20 C/O EXIST to fly from the police, people yelled and ran in every direction. The Old City is a maze of narrow corridors with shops of knickknacks, souvenirs, and a few genuine antiquities here and there. If it’s one’s first visit, every corridor looks like the next. Even with a map, it gets complicated, especially if one is trying to stay within certain areas. I ran around for what seemed like an hour, but was likely only fifteen minutes. There was a line at the front desk of the Casanova. A Korean man with his wife and three daughters, I assumed, was just leaving. Behind them was a young, Catholic priest, and then a couple in their fifties. The husband was short to average height, had a thin build, and looked like a seasoned traveler. The woman was wearing a peasant skirt and a white blouse, both cotton and embroidered with little multi-color flowers. She had a huge, floppy hat, blue, I think, atop a scarf, which she wrapped tightly around her head. The Korean family left, the priest asked if he had any calls, he had none, and the couple simply wanted the keys to their room. The attendant dispatched everyone quickly and graciously, which made me feel comfortable for the moment. I’d like a room, I said. The man looked quickly at his screen and without quitting his professional smile he turned and told me they were fully booked. I explained that I’d been staying there with a group and had only just gotten back after a few days out. No dice. The lady with the hat stood next to me taking things out of her purse and placing them on the counter, looking for something. She and her husband were speaking Spanish in a Caribbean accent. I asked the attendant to please check again. Which he did, gladly, as he put it, then turned and suggested I go around the way and try the Gloria Hotel, only a two minute walk away. Outside the shots had turned to rapid fire, but nobody inside the Hotel seemed concerned. I picked up my bag and camera gear and made for the door. Just as I was about to leave, the woman in the floppy hat turned to me, and in Spanish, which I had not spoken at that hotel yet, she said, come back in a little while, you’ll find a room here. Her suggestion made no sense, and with little time to waste, I couldn’t tell if she was mocking me or if the giant hat and scarf had overheated her head. I don’t remember if I said anything, but whatever look I gave them, her husband grabbed her stuff off the counter and dumped it back in the purse. Good luck to you, he said, and took her down the hall toward the rooms. I would have felt more guilt if I’d had more time, but frankly, I was getting nervous. I shot out of the Casanova in search of the Gloria. The riot noises had subsided some. The Gloria was not far, and just inside Jaffa Gate. The only room they had was well out of my price range so I asked for other hotels and guesthouses nearby. I ran around the city for an hour, but none of the guesthouses had rooms. Desperate, I went back to the Casanova and asked to use a phone to call my team leader. Their advice was to find a hotel within walking distance or to get a cab and go to Tel Aviv, which was a $120 ride. I was leaving the Casanova when I felt a tap on my shoulder, it was the attendant who wanted to know if I was still looking for a room. I think I might have something now, he said. I followed him back to the desk where he offered me a double room at the student rate of a single room, basically a $150 discount. I agreed and spent the rest of the evening listening to the gunshots, which stopped as the daylight dimmed. The next morning I went to the dinning area to get breakfast, fresh cucumbers and tomatoes, powdered herb mix of oregano, lime, and thyme called zatar, freshly baked pita bread, cheese slices, and boiled milk for the boiled coffee. I was pouring my coffee when the Spanish-speaking lady in the big hat walked over to me, dressed up and ready for what looked like a fancy event. I told you you’d find a room if you came back, she said in English this time. How did you know I spoke Spanish when you talked to me yesterday, I said, knowing my ac- 21 C/O EXIST cent is a mixture of Philly and West Michigan. With a shrug she invited me to sit with her and her husband for breakfast. When her husband came back and found me sitting at the table he seemed unsure of who I was but not surprised. This is the boy who couldn’t find a room last night, she said, see now, I told him he’d find one and here he is, you see? The husband smiled at her and shook my hand and introduced himself as John and his wife as Sheila. I told them about the great deal that I’d gotten and not knowing why, I thanked her. Well, I didn’t tell them to open a room up for you or anything, she said, they listen to me, but I don’t meddle. I just knew, that’s all. Her husband brought the sugar closer to me and lifted a teaspoon of it toward my cup. Little miracles and little wonders are pretty common around my wife, he said, and poured two loads of sugar into my coffee after I held up a peace sign. Did you know she’s part of the proof for a canonizing process? There is no way to represent the two hour conversation that we had but the short version is that Sheila had lost close to half of her brain to benign tumors that were nonetheless lethal if left untreated. She had had over 25 removed in 14 surgeries and miraculously bounced back from all of them without major side effects. Not only could Sheila walk and talk, but as it turned out, Shelia was also an extraordinary artist, of some renown, whose work hung in the Vatican and in almost every major Catholic church in the Holy Land. She was so successful as an artist, in fact, that she was named an ambassador at large of her country, Panama. They showed me pictures of Sheila with Pope John Paul II, of her art hanging in the Smithsonian, and other venues that would have been impressive for someone who was completely healthy, but in her case seemed so unlikely that I barely knew what to say. What are you doing in Jerusalem, she asked me after telling me her story. I’m looking for ways to get North American students connected with the peacemakers here in the Holy Land. That’s a good use of life, she said, for you and for them. She dug inside her purse and pulled out a tiny, pewter crucifix. I’ve taken this to every Christian holy site here, the Holy Sepulcher, the church of the Nativity, the Ascension, and everywhere I’ve gone, I’ve prayed that it would go to someone whose life was to follow our Lord. She handed me the cross, closed my hand over it, and said: find him! Now, to this day I don’t know if she meant “Find him,” the one who is following Jesus, or “Find Him,” as in Jesus himself. She prayed over me before we parted ways and her last words to me were: -“Make the most of yourself, you only happen once.” A year later I gave the cross that Sheila gave me to a Buddhist friend of mine who was on an extended trip trying to “find himself.” When he asked me how Christians found themselves I told him that in my own faith tradition, whoever found himself would lose himself, and whoever lost his life for Jesus, would find true life. What does that look like, he asked. I have to respect who I was then and simply say that whatever answer I offered was sincere and the best representation of my faith at that moment. I wasn’t trying to convert him, but I could only offer my own faith, so that’s what I did. -I think your Jesus fits within my Buddhism, he said right before leaving. The next day he put the cross around his neck and went to the deserts of New Mexico to continue his search. If my friend were to ask me today what it looks like to lose yourself, I would tell him that it means being thankful for having a home in which to welcome friends. I’d say it also means using the stability it offers to advocate for those who don’t have homes or whose homes have been taken from them. I would tell him that it means being thankful for my health, but using my able body and mind to be an ally to those whose abilities are limited or interrupted. If I had to boil it down to one sentence, I’d tell him my faith says that he’s a miracle that only happens once. Recognizing that miracle in everyone is what gives me hope. 22 C/O EXIST Peter Speelman The Algerian War of Independence was already well underway when Albert Camus published Algerian Chronicles, a collection of his own articles, letters, and essays ranging from 1939 to 1958. The collection was a final effort by Camus to influence the fierce conflict raging between French nationalists, anti-colonialists, French-born Algerians, and non-French indigenous Algerians (mostly Arabs and Berbers). It was a plea for moderation – a plea that fell largely on deaf ears. Published in French on June 16, 1958, Algerian Chronicles was predominantly met with either derision or silence. Camus was well aware of the unpopularity of his positions, and to some degree the futility of voicing them. He described the collection as, “among other things the history of a failure.” Prior to publishing the collection, out of concern for friends and family currently living in Algeria, he had refused to exacerbate the situation by voicing opinions he believed would only invite polemics and inflame the controversy. With Algerian Chronicles, Camus dramatically broke a 29-month period of self-imposed silence on the Algerian question, a silence that was translated by many French contemporaries as either cowardice or irrelevance. He was similarly alienated from Arab Algerians by his solidarity with French Algerians and his staunch refusal to support an Algeria completely independent from France. Following the disappointment of Algerian Chronicles, Camus largely returned to silence regarding the Algerian conflict until his death in 1960. It is significant that Algerian Chronicles was not published in English until 2013 – the last work by Camus to have never been fully translated. Despite the collection’s poor reception in 1958, it has almost become more relevant over the years. Today it offers a candid depiction of the Algerian conflict at that time, as well as a prescient view of things to come. Useful parallels can be drawn. For example, the French theory developed at that time to suppress Algerian insurrectionists arguably formed the basis of what the United States now calls counter-insurgency in Iraq and Afghanistan. Many of the pan-Arabist republics he was so wary of Algeria aligning with (Egypt and Syria), are today crumbling. The question he asks of how to reconcile two people groups, both of whom have valid claims to a territory, has been relevant since even before the Algerian conflict with regards to Israel and Palestine. Although Camus does not engage with the substantive theory of French counter-insurgency in Algerian Chronicles, it is clear that he found the tactics, particularly torture and terrorism, to be altogether deplorable, humiliating, 23 C/O EXIST and self-defeating. He writes, “even those who have heard enough talk of morality must understand that even when it comes to winning wars, it is better to suffer certain injustices than to commit them,” reasoning that besides its evident immorality, even assuming lives could be saved through its employment, torture is not an effective measure if it ultimately serves to produce more radicals, who will then change tactics and cost the lives of still more innocents. He continues, “When, for example, these practices are used against those in Algeria who do not hesitate to massacre the innocent or torture or excuse torture, are they not also incalculable errors because they risk justifying the very crimes that we seek to fight?” It is difficult not to find parallels in current U.S. foreign policy. Camus also declined to comment extensively on the pitfalls of pan-Arabism or Nasser’s Egypt, aside from asserting that Algeria should have little to do with either. It is easy to consider Camus’s opinions on this subject antiquated or parochial, given his steadfast belief that Algeria would wither apart from France. Given the aftermath of Algerian independence, however, he was not entirely misguided. Furthermore, notwithstanding the allegations certain of his virulently anticolonial French contemporaries laid against him, Camus had keen and compassionate insights into the motivations and interests of the Arabs and Berbers in Algeria – what the mainland metropole considered the “wretched, faceless mob”. He sought to replace a political problem by a human problem. He recognized the extreme poverty in parts of Algeria, and identified the Algerian drive for social prog- ress as the true catalyst in the movement to obtain political rights. He personally believed these rights and opportunities for self-determination, along with social change, could come from France. He realized, however, that if social progress was not forthcoming, Algeria would ultimately effect the political change from within. The same basic social motivations for political change existed throughout North Africa in 1958, just as they remain driving forces in the Arab Spring revolutions today. Perhaps his most novel insights regarded the difficulties of two distinct people groups inhabiting the same territory. By Camus’s figures, at that time there were around eight million Arabs (including Berbers, though they are not separately mentioned) in Algeria, along with one million French. Some of these French Algerians had lived in the country for over a century. Within the context of post-war Europe, still navigating the dissolution of colonialism, to classify French Algerians as indigenous, then to further propose equal political rights on that basis, was understandably contentious. Yet Camus was unique in that realized the futility of the alternatives: In one sense, as reason clearly shows, Franco-Arab solidarity is inevitable, in life as in death, in destruction as in hope. The hideous face of this solidarity can be seen in the infernal dialectic according to which what kills one side also kills the other. Each camp blames the other, justifying its own violence in terms of its adversary’s. The endless dispute over who committed the first wrong becomes meaningless. Because two populations so similar and yet so different, and each worthy of respect, have not 24 C/O EXIST been able to live together, they are condemned to die together, with rage in their hearts. The relevance of this insight to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict is manifest. There is hope, Camus argues, if the two parties can acknowledge and act on what they innately know to be true: that each party has a right to security and dignity in the land of their birth. Despite the nagging sense of inefficacy Camus undoubtedly felt in writing and compiling Algerian Chronicles, he would not have published the collection if he did not feel it offered some hope and some possibility of shifting those not already entrenched toward moderation. In some sense the entrenched opinions are more appealing. Sartre famously opposed Camus on the Algerian question, unequivocally advocating Algerian independence and supporting the FLN separatist group. By contrast, Camus’s positions can seem limp, sometimes bluntly moralistic. The exigencies of war and conflict tend to suspend moralistic and temperate arguments in favor of realism; hard-nosed pundits and shrill polemicists dominate the discussion. In such climates, where any appeal to decency or compassion is subject to derision, it is easy to despair. There exists a definite appeal in fatalism – a temptation to stay out of the conversation and let the inevitable unravel. In Camus’s words: I know that many people are fascinated by the awfulness of history’s great tragedies. Because of this, they remain transfixed, unable to decide what to do, simply waiting. They wait, and then one day the Gorgon devours them. I want to share with you my conviction that this spell can be broken, that this impotence is an illusion, and that sometimes, a strong heart, intelligence, and courage are enough to overcome fate. All it takes is will: will that is not blind but firm and deliberate. Camus urges strongly against disengagement. Algerian Chronicles, which he describes as a history of failure, is at the same time a testament to the practicability of compassion, written at great personal expense. Although history did not follow the course he would have hoped, Camus’s collection stands as a forceful counterfactual in a world confronted by many of the same issues he sought to address. 25 C/O EXIST David Crump Two summers ago my wife and I lived for six weeks in the Aida refugee camp on the outskirts of Bethlehem. Aida is home to some 5,000 Palestinians descended from those who were expelled from their homes during Israel’s 1948 war for independence. We skype regularly with our Aida family on Sunday afternoons, and they tell us about the latest acts of abuse and discrimination suffered at the hands of the occupying Israeli army. Here is a recent incident. Several truckloads of Israeli soldiers drove up late one evening to the home of Mohammed’s (not his real name) mother. She is in her 80s, suffering from Alzheimer’s disease. Most of Mohammed’s brothers, sisters, in-laws, nieces and nephews were gathered together that night in their matriarch’s home celebrating a brother’s visit from America where he had emigrated years ago. Without warning, Israeli soldiers kicked in the front door and surrounded the family, automatic weapons drawn. They began to search the home, demanding to know the whereabouts of a certain nephew. (This young man is a photojournalist who was shot in the face with a rubber bullet by an Israeli soldier. His crime was photographing a local protest from the veranda of his home. The incident, covered by major news organizations, made international headlines.) The man was eventually found hiding in an upstairs bedroom. In the meantime, the invaders persistently slapped the women and pushed the men onto the floor while kicking them, brandishing automatic weapons in everyone’s faces. The American brother pulled out his US passport hoping that the soldiers’ behavior might improve if they knew that there was an American citizen in the room. Instead, the soldiers beat him more severely, breaking several of his ribs. The soldiers left as quickly as they had arrived, leaving the injured to care for themselves. This is daily life for the millions of Palestinians living in the Occupied Territories, otherwise known as the West Bank and Gaza. The primary enabler of their oppression is the United States of America, the dutifully blind benefactor who single-handedly bank-rolls Israel’s military might. The largest constituency applauding America’s loyalty to Israeli colonialism is the evangelical/fundamentalist wing of the church, a body held captive to the unbiblical teachings of Christian Zionism. I find that even moderate, non-Zionist Christians often refuse to criticize Israel’s policies while insisting on the need for a “balanced” perspective. All I can say is, God save us from the moral lassitude and intellectual befuddlement that finds a moral equivalency between oppressors and their victims. There is no such thing as balance as long as one side is keeping its boot squarely on the other’s neck. There is no faithfulness in a church that plugs its ears to the cries of the weak while helping to buy more bullets for the shooters. Oh sure, there are always two sides to every story. The European colonists who settled (invaded) the Americas, decimating the native populations and extinguishing their cultures had a grand story to tell of western expansion and Manifest Destiny. Slave owners in the antebellum south had “Biblical” justification for treating fellow human beings like chattel. Israel’s Jewish citizenry also has an epic story to tell, a story that defends Israel’s existence as a Jewish state (i.e. a nation where the full spectrum of civil rights is available only to Jews). Theirs is a tale of modern-day colonialism, justifying acts of ethnic cleansing which erase the indigenous people from the landscape, denying their very existence. We need to understand that justice is never impartial. Our Creator is always on the side of justice, which means that God always stands with the oppressed and always condemns every oppressor. Thus the people of God have no choice but to defend victims of injustice, to condemn their oppression and to work towards its undoing. This is why peace per se is never synonymous with justice. Peace talk can easily become a cheap fig leaf covering over the festering wound of an overly familiar injustice. There is such a thing as an unjust peace. Without justice there can never be genuine, lasting peace. Neither does the passage of time automatically erase an injustice. Bystanders may choose to forget history’s lessons and the indelible connection between past and present, but God never does. Neither will the families whose unarmed children are beaten with impunity by black-booted soldiers. God’s aim in salvation-history is peace with justice. This divine goal must also be the paradigm for Christian activism in the world. Our challenge is not merely to coexist, but to coexist in equality, mercy and justice. Priscilla Lin C/O EXIST COORDINATOR Michael Kelly editor-in-chief Tanice Mast layout editor, print edition John Muyskens layout editor, electronic edition MAGAZINE SPONSORS Dialogue Magazine Visual Arts Guild Cave CafĂŠ affiliated departments and organizations Art History Department Communication Arts and Sciences Department Film Arts History Department Hope Equals INTRO Middle East Club Political Science Department Religion Department 28 C/O EXIST