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So, What's a Nice Irish American Girl Like Me Doing in Occupied Territory?

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I don't have a degree in journalism, but when I was a kid, I wanted to grow up and be Brenda Starr: the red- headed ace investigative journalist of the Sunday comics. I even worked as a copy girl for one year after high school, but decided to go into nursing and that led me to marry a doctor, which enabled me to travel four times to the Occupied Palestinian Territories in the last year and a half.

I am one spoiled American who lives a comfortable life on ten acres in paradise: an environmentally protected sanctuary atop of the aquifer in the Green Swamp of Central Florida. I am a homebody and never cared to fly anywhere, even before that day we call 9/11. But I have been compelled, impelled and propelled by a force greater than myself, to go, witness and report on life in the Occupied Palestinian Territories.

My second book on this topic will be released February 2007. I entitled my work, "Third Intifada/Uprising: Nonviolent, But with Words Sharper than a Two-Edged Sword", because the following words ran through my head all during my last journey in November 2006. They persist:

"The word of God is living and active. Sharper than a two-edged sword, it penetrates even to dividing soul and spirit, joints and marrow; it judges the thoughts and attitudes of the heart. Nothing in all creation is hidden from God s sight. Everything is uncovered and laid bare before the eyes of him whom we must give account."- Hebrews 4:12-13

Because of the borderless world of the Internet, people who would never have crossed paths due to distance, now communicate easily via the World Wide Web. All life is interdependent and interconnected and the Internet is the visible reality of this open mystery.

When I returned from my first journey to Israel Palestine, I gave birth to WAWA: http://www.wearewideawake.org , published "Keep Hope Alive" and have written my second book, all with hope and a burning desire that when the truth be known, we the people of the world will "have it in our power to begin the world again." [Tom Paine]

I was raised in a Catholic family, but gave up on the Institution in the summer of 1964. I never doubted there was a God, but at the tender age of ten, I decided to find my own way and listen to my own heart to lead me to the truth and into the light. But, at the age of twenty-seven, from the pit of hell I had created, I cried out "HELP!"

There are no words to describe the overwhelming sense of connection I felt to the Mystery we call God, but I knew in my gut, that He/She understood me and loved me just as I was. That moment also was the beginning of my journey and desire to discover what exactly I was created for.

At the time I was working as a visiting nurse in the ghettos of Orlando, Florida, and in the shacks and squalor is where I learned about Jesus. While treating the wounds of the poor and the outcast I learned that gratitude was the ultimate expression of love. The poorest of the poor, who were grateful for my smallest kindness, verbally expressed it, by their constant refrain, Thank you, Jesus!

I explored every denomination Central Florida had to offer, but I never was a Pentecostal or Episcopalian; although I attended both churches as I searched for a home in the institutional church. It was not until I broke bread with the Christians in Palestine, did I experience a visceral sense of belonging.

As of this writing, no Palestinian Christian has ever strapped on a bomb and committed suicide/homicide. The Christian Exodus of the Holy Land has reduced their numbers from 20% of the total population to less than 1.3% since Israel became a state in 1948. The reasons are primarily the forty years of occupation, the oppression, The Wall, the lack of economic opportunity, the daily humiliations at checkpoints, the hassle of obtaining permits to be able to move about, ineffective and corrupt governments, the rise of fundamentalism in all three branches of Father Abraham s offsprings and the violence and destruction that surrounds.

Before Emperor Constantine brought Christianity into the mainstream, all the early Church Fathers taught that Christians should not serve in the army but instead willingly suffer rather than inflict harm on any other. St. Augustine was the first Church Father to consider the concept of a Just War. Within 100 years after Constantine, the Empire required that all soldiers in the army must be baptized Christians and thus, the decline of Christianity began.

With the justification of war and violence supplied by Augustine's Just War Theory, wrong became right. Nothing much has changed in two millennia, for in today's Orwellian world politicians claim the way to peace is through war and that nuclear weapons provide protection. I don't care who wears the uniform, or how noble they believe their cause, war is the ultimate form of terrorism for any civilian caught in the crossfire of violence.

I still do not understand the logic that promoted the need for Hiroshima and Nagasaki to save American lives; and why there was never a mention of repentance for the innocent that died. Eisenhower warned America not to bind our economy to the Industrial Military Complex. But, like most prophets, he was ignored.

In 313 AD, Emperor Constantine legitimized Christianity and thus, those who had been considered rebels and outlaws began to enjoy political power and prestige. Jesus' other name is The Prince of Peace, and with the marriage of church and state, his true teachings were reinterpreted. The justification of warfare and the use of state sponsored violence corrupted what Christ modeled and taught. Jesus was always on about WAKE UP! The Divine already indwells you and all others. Christ taught that to follow him requires that one must love ones enemies; one must forgive those who hate, curse and revile them, without a thought of payback.

Christ lived a life that proved evil can be opposed without being mirrored, and that the cycle of a "tooth for a tooth, an eye for an eye", will never bring peace and justice. Before Emperor Constantine brought Christianity into the mainstream, all the early Church Fathers taught that Christians should not serve in the army but instead willingly suffer rather than inflict harm on any other. The term Christianity was not coined until three decades after Christ walked the earth. Until the day of Paul, followers of Christ were called members of The Way; the way being what he taught! Christ was never a Christian, but he was a social justice, radical revolutionary Palestinian devout Jewish road warrior who rose up/intifada and challenged the corrupt Temple and disturbed the status quo of the Roman occupying forces by teaching that God was on the side of the poor and the outcast.

Clement, Tertillian, Polycarp and every other early Church Father taught that violence was a contradiction of what Christ was all about. There have always been those Christians who spoke out against this corruption of scripture and they have been ignored, reviled, rejected, mocked, persecuted and maligned throughout time. There have always been Christians who have never abandoned the true teachings, such as the Quakers, Mennonites, some Catholics and Protestants who have been faithful witnesses to Christ by denouncing violence and caring for the poor. There have also always been Jews, Muslims, atheists, anarchists, secularists and other's who have lived lives that embody the message of Christ.

I have had the opportunity to meet some of these people in Israel and Palestine and they too, are the inspiration for this book. They fill me with hope to believe that as greater numbers of global citizens come together -which is inevitable with the borderless World Wide Web-in solidarity with The Universal Declaration of Human Rights we will find the way to challenge and remedy the wrongs committed by the princes and principalities of this world that perpetuate violence for violence.

It is a spiritual battle we all fight, for both good and evil cut through every human heart.

Because all life is interconnected and interdependent we are all forced to deal with the war within the individual human heart when ever it erupts into society and issues forth from the political realm.

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Eileen Fleming,is a Citizen of CONSCIENCE for US House of Representatives 2012 Founder of WeAreWideAwake.org Staff Member of Salem-news.com, A Feature Correspondent for Arabisto.com Producer "30 Minutes with Vanunu" and "13 Minutes with Vanunu" (more...)
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