Santa Cruz Indymedia :
Santa Cruz Indymedia

LOCAL Announcement :: Civil & Human Rights

God in the Middle East: Faith and Palestinian/Israeli Reconciliation


February 17, 2005
University of California, Santa Cruz
Performing Arts M110 (Media Theater)

In a world where religion is too often manipulated for less than noble political purposes, this panel will take a refreshing look at how faith can powerfully influence people toward a greater good. Listen as a Jewish Rabbi, a former Fatah fighter, a Muslim Imam and an Israeli Messianic Jew discuss how Judaism, Islam and Christianity can empower forgiveness and healing even in the midst of seemingly hopeless conflict.

SPONSORED BY: The Veritas Forum and ISI

Questions? Contact Pam at 475-5157
The sponsors wish to make this event accessible to people with disabilities. If you need an accommodation, please call SOAR at 459-2934.
A dynamic panel discussion you don’t want to miss!

Shalom Bochner serves as the Executive Director of the Santa Cruz Hillel Foundation: The Jewish Resource Center for the Campus. He has a BA in Jewish Studies and Sociology from the State University of New York at Albany, an MS in Education from the College of Saint Rose in Albany, and received ordination as a Rabbi in Jerusalem after studying with an orthodox yeshiva program in addition to studying with the Jewish Renewal movement and at a non-denominational center for Jewish studies. Rabbi Bochner has taught Jewish Studies for 12 years to elementary school students, high school students, and adults, and currently teaches a weekly Torah and Kabbalah class on the UCSC campus. He has worked as a summer camp director, youth group director, and teacher.

Taysir Abu Saada was born without a homeland in the Gaza Strip, in1951. His parents immigrated to Saudi Arabia where he was raised as a Muslim. With a hatred of Jews and Israel's existence, Mr. Saada joined the Fatah Forces (PLO under Yasser Arafat) after the 1967 war. He was trained as a sniper to kill Jews and also trained children to fight and kill Jews. In 1974, he came to the United States where he married and worked in the restaurant and hotel industries, becoming a successful executive. He became an American citizen in 1979. After a profound spiritual experience in 1993, Mr. Saada became a believer in Jesus, resulting in a change of heart that led to actively pursuing friendship and reconciliation with Jewish people. Currently, he travels extensively sharing a message of hope and peace in classrooms, churches and other venues.

Souleiman Ghali is the cofounder and current President of the Islamic Society of San Francisco, an umbrella organization established in 1991 administering the largest Mosque and Islamic School in San Francisco. He was born in Beirut, Lebanon of Palestinian parents and came to the U.S. in 1979 as a college student. Mr. Ghali advances the understanding of Islam as a tolerant and just religion through his prominent public speaking and advocacy for American Muslims. He has been featured in many articles in the San Francisco Chronicle and hosted on many radio and TV programs (KGO, KPFA, KQED, NPR, CNN, BBC, German, and French TV). Mr. Ghali is a regular speaker and lecturer about Islam to churches, universities and business people. He has spoken at the common wealth club, World affair council and is one of the most active Muslims in the Bay Area working tirelessly to make a better community for all.

Noad Asaf Shapiro was born in the city of Naharia, located in northern Israel. He was raised on Kibbutz Adamit, a commune that was widely used in the early phase of Jewish settlement in Israel. In 1989, Mr. Shapiro’s family moved to Los Angeles, where he finished high school. He studied at the University of California, Berkeley, where he received a BS in Chemistry and Chemical Engineering, and later a Ph.D. in Material Science. During his years at Berkeley, Mr. Shapiro, previously an atheist came to believe in the existence of God and placed his faith in Y’shua. As a youth, he was cautious and suspicious of his Arab neighbors, but later found his faith leading him toward greater sensitivity of Palestinian concerns.

New Comments are disabled, please visit


Re: God in the Middle East: Faith and Palestinian/Israeli Reconciliation

How do the modern sects of Islam or Judiasm regard women? If these religions still regard women as inferior to men than they are still inherently corrupted.

In Robin Morgan's book "The Demon Lover" she explores global male-terrorist culture and spent time in a Palestinian refugee camp.

Many men in the camps beat the women and forced them to have children they didnt want.

One women had **21** children until she finally found a Dr. willing to give her a hysterectomy since her husband forbade her to use birth control.

Unless every woman on earth is free from male domination, arranged marriages and mandated pregnancy, there there will never be world peace.

Re: God in the Middle East: Faith and Palestinian/Israeli Reconciliation

Palestinian kids used to be worth $25000 per explosion...having kids in Paliland was like having money in the bank!

"Messianic Jew"

Notwithstanding the protestations to the contrary by these "Messianic Jews" or "Jews for Jesus", no person can believe in Jesus as the Messiah and concurrently be or remain Jewish (if he or she were Jewish to begin with). This rule was established and is adhered to by the Orthodox rabbis (and probably backed by the majority in the Conservative Movement) and was augmented by a ruling of the Israeli Supreme Court a few years ago.

Re: God in the Middle East: Faith and Palestinian/Israeli Reconciliation

Goddess worship preceded male sky gods by 20,000 years. ("The Chalice and the Blade" by Riane Eisler, "Gods and Godesses of Old Europe" by Marija Gimbutas, etc.)

Jesus/Yahweh/Allah/Buddha/etc are new kids on the block.

All the current mass organized religions were organized for men and are male-supremacist

All the "gods" are used as cosmic ventriliquists dummies to speak the scripts (scriptures) written by men, so for all practical purposes, men ARE god.

So if one male religion fights with another, who cares which one wins?

Actually, female-supremacist

"Primitive" people deified many forms of life -- birds, bears, rabbits, even mushrooms.

The even more offensive thing about these monotheisms is they encourage us to worship ourselves, humans, as the only sacred beings in the world, when clearly the magical web of all life is the true deity, the thing that spawned us. Call it 'the mother,' fine, just spare me the nonsense about it being a woman. Our alienation from this completely manifest deity is a toxic heresy, a thing that really will destroy us.

I don't really see you correcting this damage, but rather just coming up with your own competing form of self-worship.

There Is No God

The process of evolution preceded any concept of "God" or "gods" or "goddesses". It has been here on earth producing new organisms for the past four billion years.

Concepts contained in religions have been used by our oppressors to create ideologies of obedience and to divide and conquer the people for a much shorter time. To the extent that this event takes away some of the xenophobic momentum to divide us it is progressive, to the extent it promotes religion philosophies to the exclusion of atheism it is backwards.

Yes, but...

I lean toward atheism too, actually (the spiritual model I presented is entirely reconcilable with evolution), but I think there is also a danger in elevating THIS view to the level of holy writ. The hard rational/linear viewpoint also clouds intellect, and ultimately becomes as irrational as religion. A few years ago, some smarmy hyper-rationalists I knew were spouting this line that went "the concept of an objective reality that exists independent of human observation is an illusion." Oh yah, that's verifiable. Maybe it was an in-joke, but they really seemed to have swallowed it whole.

Think of the personality disorder that presumes to know everything, and in effect tries to force others to believe this as well. I can't spend more than five minutes around one of these guys without thinking "Godammit, why didn't their parents just beat them more?" I also fantasize about taking this up myself. After another 10 minutes of being shouted down whenever I threaten to utter a syllable, I have to walk away before the fantasy becomes real. They're not always atheists by any means, but they are devout believers in "knowledge," and they embody the hazards of that faith.

The world just isn't as they imagine, or as ANYONE imagines. It's rational/linear and yet profoundly plural and organic at the same time, in a way that hopelessly outstrips our cognitive ability. At some point it becomes obnoxious to even pretend to understand it, and enlightenment comes only from knowing you're just a pebble on a beach. As to the "real" nature of the beach and all the rest of it, who really knows...

I challenge you to consider that this thing you're blaming on religion
"...have been used by our oppressors to create ideologies of obedience and to divide and conquer the people"
isn't really inherent to spiritual beliefs, but to class. Fight the real enemy. Starting around ten thousand years ago when they themselves were high priests (a class phenomenon), elites have brought all their means to bear on deranging faith into a pattern that delivers God-like power to THEM. There were a multitude of beliefs then, but these have been narrowed down to just the few that do this really well, which seem to be monotheisms. Perhaps a supreme father figure, i.e. a symbol of ultimate authority, serves to sanctify authority itself, including class authority. Who knows. To the extent that they subjugate people's minds to class interests, these faiths provide elites with a decisive and murderous advantage over societies that follow other types, and that's why most of those are gone now. It's inevitable, I think, for faiths that promote mass social organization and aggressive ideological conquest to triumph in this way -- it's all very darwinian. You talked about evolution preceding religion, and I don't disagree, but the two aren't really cleanly separable. The organic-ness of the world creeps in. Criticizing religion won't cause this darwinian dynamic to disappear, any more than it would cause evolution itself to screech to a halt.

Also, if you could press a button and make all religion disappear from the world, the fat cats would just lay hands on whatever system of assumptions was available and start their dirty dealing all over again. Religion HAS declined in the world, enormously so, so they're already doing this with the "secular" polytheism of technology, civilization, humanism, and self. Do YOU accept any part of this belief system, perchance? If you don't, you're one strange bird, and if you do, guess what? You're "religious." A recognized deity isn't necessary; anything people deem sacred becomes "God." That includes political doctrine.

Steven, did you get force-fed religion as a kid? I did, and I completely understand the impulse to blame all the world's ills on this thing, but I've also seen beyond it. Spiritual belief per se doesn't naturally lead to the problem you're describing; that comes from hierarchies and "leaders." The first time someone stood up and pulled this "I'm in charge here" shit and some big buck failed to perform his solemn duty of shoving a spear up this clown's ass, that's when we were all doomed.

Re: God in the Middle East: Faith and Palestinian/Israeli Reconciliation

as an isreaeli born after 1967 i can asuure all of the above
keep god out of it
let us the young and main streem iraelie ana palastinian eork it out
all they want and all we want is to have a good and safe life
so keep god out

Sorry but I am not a pebble on the beach

Condor Says, "I challenge you to consider that this thing you're blaming on religion
"...have been used by our oppressors to create ideologies of obedience and to divide and conquer the people" isn't really inherent to spiritual beliefs, but to class. Fight the real enemy."

Actually this was exactly the point I was making. Our class oppressors use religion against us in the ways I pointed out. The promotion of scientific knowledge and atheism are important antidotes to people being misled by the religious hierarchies working for the capitalist class.

I put theism in the same categories as aliens creating crop circles and big foot, all ideas of man that have no evidence to back them up.

No my parents did not force feed me religion, but I have come across plenty of people like you who consider me "a strange bird" for my atheism. You complain that atheists are too in your face but I've found the opposite. Most atheists are a pretty quiet bunch about what they know, even in the face of insults from bible thumping Christians or new age spiritualists and multi-theists.

So you say, "Enlightenment comes only from knowing you're just a pebble on a beach." Call me too linear in my thinking, but my enlightenment includes the fact that I am not just a pebble on the beach, I am a living organism that has taken four billion years to evolve and unfortunately I'm not on the beach at the moment, but now that you mention it perhaps I will take trip there now.

Re: God in the Middle East: Faith and Palestinian/Israeli Reconciliation

"...people like you who consider me "a strange bird" for my atheism."

But atheism wasn't what that was about. I was describing a subtle secular Quasi-religion that is almost universally subscribed to in the West, and that you probably subscribe to yourself without even realizing it. Your rhetoric about science suggests nothing less. I, on the other hand, am exactly such a 'strange bird.' You need more explanation to really understand what I mean, and since you've turned hostile for no reason, I'm not going to waste my time.

Re: God in the Middle East: Faith and Palestinian/Israeli Reconciliation

Condor, perhaps you are not used to atheists who assert and explain themselves, but I do not enjoy being called religious when I am not. Likewise I do not think a religious person would enjoy being called an atheist. Such arguments seem dishonest.

Likewise my atheism is not the result of some bad childhood experience.

Never the less I do not think that my statements were hostile. They were clear and did not beat around the bush, but they were not put out with hostile intent.

Re: God in the Middle East: Faith and Palestinian/Israeli Reconciliation

With all the talk of atheism, I notice that one of the speakers was an atheist-- and came to believe in God while getting a Ph.D. in science at Berkeley of all places. I'm curious what brought that about.

Also, I find it interesting all the intellectualizing about this event, but there is some down to earth legitimate stuff about it. For an example, one speaker was trained as a sniper to kill Jews and now doesn't go after Jews to kill them because he says his spiritual awakening gave him compassion. If a religion or god or "crutch" can cause a person to shift from killing people to stop killing people, then amen to that.

Its obvious that power hungry sadistic lunatics have used religion throughout the ages to do all kinds of horrible things, but if we can't see past the obvious manipulation of religion by "bad guys" to see the good in authentic spirituality, then we are pretty dumb. It would mean we have been duped by those who misuse religion for their own selfish purposes as much as those who have been fooled into following those leaders.


No events for this day.

view calendar week
add an event


Media Centers

Syndication feeds

Account Login

This site made manifest by dadaIMC software