Meditation Focus #61
Peace on Earth
What follows is the 61st Meditation Focus suggested for the two consecutive weeks beginning Sunday, March 31, 2002.
PEACE ON EARTH
2. Meditation times
3. Peace Watch for the Middle East
Despite the growing tensions in the Middle East where a new heightened cycle of violence is underway and despite the many other low level conflicts still in need to be entirely resolved around the world, the fact is that there is more peace than ever before on Earth and an abundance of signs of hope as well as positive actions taken by individual citizens and a string of non-governmental organizations striving to bestow their assistance and foster peace and greater social harmony wherever they may be.
Since what we focus on grows, it is recommended to turn our collective attention during the next 2 weeks onto the growing sense of our global spiritual unity and personal responsibility to care for each other and for our beloved, living planet that is spreading like wildfire around the world in response to the numerous crisis still beleaguering so many people and countries. And since a picture is worth a thousand words, you will find in attachment a visual aid that has been especially designed to assist us all in fostering a global awakening to the inevitable Peace on Earth that is taking hold in every heart right now. Please hold this thought-form in synchronous unity with all the other participating brothers and sisters and allow the Spirit of God to guide you into empowering with Love and a compassionate sense of Oneness the manifestation of Peace on Earth, for the Highest Good of All.
This whole Meditation Focus is also available at http://www.aei.ca/~cep/MeditationFocus61.htm where you will also find the same attached picture.
2. MEDITATION TIMES
i) Global Meditation Day: Sunday at 16:00 Universal Time (GMT) or at noon local time. Suggested duration: 30 minutes.
ii) Golden Moment of At-Onement: Daily, at the top of any hour, or whenever it better suits you.
Beginning Sunday October 28, these times below will correspond to 16:00 Universal Time/GMT:
Honolulu 6:00 AM -- Anchorage 7:00 AM -- Los Angeles 8:00 AM -- Denver 9:00 AM -- San Salvador, Mexico City, Houston & Chicago 10:00 AM -- New York, Toronto & Montreal 11:00 AM -- Halifax, Santo Domingo, La Paz & Caracas 12:00 PM -- Montevideo, Asuncion * & Santiago * 1:00 PM -- Rio de Janeiro * 2:00 PM -- London, Dublin, Lisbon, Reykjavik & Casablanca 4:00 PM -- Lagos, Algiers, Geneva, Rome, Berlin, Paris & Madrid 5:00 PM -- Ankara, Jerusalem, Johannesburg, Athens, Helsinki & Istanbul 6:00 PM -- Baghdad, Moscow & Nairobi 7:00 PM -- Tehran 7:30 PM -- Islamabad 9:00 PM -- Calcutta & New Delhi 9:30 PM -- Dhaka 10:00 PM -- Rangoon 10:30 PM -- Hanoi, Bangkok & Jakarta 11:00 PM -- Hong Kong, Perth, Beijing & Kuala Lumpur +12:00 AM -- Seoul & Tokyo +1:00 AM -- Brisbane, Canberra & Melbourne +2:00 AM -- Wellington * +5:00 AM
+ means the place is one day ahead of Universal Time/Greenwich Mean Time.
* means the place is observing daylight saving time(DST) at the moment.
You may also check at http://www.timeanddate.com/worldclock/full.html to find your current corresponding local time if a closeby city is not listed above.
3. PEACE WATCH FOR THE MIDDLE EAST
Here are some of the latest developments in the Middle East. Please also keep this situation in mind during your meditations in the coming two weeks to help ensure that Peace may eventually prevail in the Middle East.
Israel Steps Up Pressure on Beleaguered Arafat (Sat Mar 30)
RAMALLAH, West Bank (Reuters) - Israel stepped up pressure on Palestinian President Yasser Arafat on Sunday in defiance of a United Nations call to withdraw its forces from Palestinian cities.
Palestinian Information Minister Yasser Abed Rabbo said Israeli forces had given an ultimatum to Arafat supporters holed up inside his besieged compound in the West Bank city of Ramallah on Saturday evening, threatening to storm the headquarters to arrest wanted people.
"This step is a plan by (Israeli Prime Minister Ariel) Sharon against President Arafat's life. This is a very grave step," Abed Rabbo told Qatar's al-Jazeera television.
He said the Israelis were calling on people inside Arafat's office to surrender "or they will go in."
An Israeli official denied any ultimatum had been given.
According to Israel radio, Israeli military officials met the governor of Ramallah and assured him the army had no plans to storm Arafat's office, but said those inside had been "offered the chance to come out without their weapons."
Israel has repeatedly denied it intends to hurt Arafat.
In the latest violence sweeping the region, a suicide bomber blew himself up in a busy Tel Aviv restaurant on Saturday, wounding 32 people in an attack claimed by a group affiliated to Arafat's Fatah organization.
The al-Aqsa Martyrs Brigades said in a statement it had carried out the bombing in reprisal for Israel's invasion of Ramallah and vowed further attacks.
A defiant Arafat, in a candlelit interview at his tank-encircled headquarters, asked the world to end what he called Israel's assault on his people.
"I appeal to the international community to stop this aggression against our people, this military escalation, this killing," the Palestinian leader told Reuters television.
The Israeli army has cut off water and electricity to Arafat's compound but said on Saturday it had let Palestinian ambulances deliver food, bottled water and candles.
Israeli security sources said Israeli officials believed that among those hiding in the compound was the mastermind of the assassination of Rehavam Zeevi, a far-right Israeli cabinet minister shot dead by Palestinian militants in October.
Israeli forces swept into Ramallah, nine miles north of Jerusalem, on Friday after Israel declared Arafat its enemy and vowed to isolate him after a suicide bombing which killed 22 Israelis.
Raanan Gissin, an adviser to Sharon, denied Israeli forces had handed an ultimatum to Arafat.
However, he said Israel wanted to "isolate Arafat and take all necessary measures to uproot terrorist organizations that have found refuge there (in his headquarters)."
Israel's siege of Arafat's compound severely dented hopes raised by an Arab summit's endorsement of a Middle East peace plan and caused fury across the Arab world.
The world has shown itself powerless to stop the violence which has raged in the region since a Palestinian uprising against Israeli occupation began 18 months ago.
The international community tried again on Saturday when the U.N. Security Council, with rare support of the United States, called for Israel to withdraw from Ramallah and other Palestinian-ruled cities.
Israel criticized the resolution for failing to stress Palestinian responsibility for "terrorist" attacks which it said had prompted its drive into Palestinian areas.
The Palestinian Authority said the resolution was positive and demanded that Israel lift its siege of Arafat's compound at once and pull out of Ramallah and other Palestinian towns.
President Bush, spending Easter weekend at his Texas ranch, called on both sides to find a way to peace.
But he placed the onus for the latest violence on the Palestinians, saying he understood Israel's decision to defend itself and making no call for Israeli forces to withdraw from Arafat's Ramallah compound.
"All of the leaders in the world must stand up against terror...and that especially applies to Chairman Arafat," Bush told reporters.
DEATH TOLL MOUNTS
Elsewhere, 11 more deaths were reported in the region, bringing the toll to at least 1,123 Palestinians and 384 Israelis killed since the Palestinian revolt began.
The bodies of five Palestinian policemen were found in a Ramallah building vacated by Israeli troops hours earlier.
Palestinians accused Israel of killing them in cold blood. Israel said they had been shot in a close-range battle in which two Israeli soldiers had been wounded.
One of Arafat's bodyguards and an intelligence officer were killed in firefights with Israeli troops in the presidential compound on Saturday, Palestinian security sources said. Another Arafat bodyguard died of wounds he sustained on Friday.
Fresh violence erupted when two Palestinians on their way to carry out a suicide bombing in Israel died during a firefight with Israeli border police. An Israeli policeman was killed.
Israeli jets fired missiles near Lebanese border towns on Saturday after Hizbollah fighters attacked Israeli posts in a disputed frontier region, witnesses and security officials said.
Besieged Arafat Receives Supplies (Sat Mar 30)
RAMALLAH, West Bank (AP) - Israeli forces allowed pita bread, cheese and other badly needed supplies Saturday into Yasser Arafat's office building, where the Palestinian leader was effectively under detention, able to hear Israeli soldiers speaking Hebrew just on the other side of the walls, aides said.
Water, electricity and land phones were out in the three-story building within a sprawling Ramallah compound overrun by Israeli troops Friday. Arafat spent much of his second day in confinement working with his aides in a darkened room, his face illuminated by a flashlight.
Israel insists it will not intentionally harm the Palestinian leader, but it became increasingly clear Saturday that Israel intends to keep him penned in for the time being.
At a Cabinet meeting Friday, Prime Minister Ariel Sharon's aides hotly contested what to do with the Palestinian leader. Defense Minister Binyamin Ben-Eliezer indicated Saturday that Sharon advocated expelling Arafat from the Palestinian areas, and only changed his mind when intelligence officials warned him such a step would be counterproductive.
Israel took over the compound and the rest of the West Bank city of Ramallah in what it calls the start of large-scale operation against militants after a string of anti-Israeli attacks.
Palestinian Information Minister Yasser Abed Rabbo, who stayed in touch with Arafat by cellular phone, said Israeli forces were so close that Arafat and his aides could hear the Hebrew spoken behind nearby walls.
When Israeli troops backed by tanks Friday stormed the complex, which is the size of a city block, soldiers entered buildings adjoining the offices, knocking down wall after wall until they reached the wall shared with Arafat's building.
Ben-Eliezer said soldiers had strict orders not to enter Arafat's office building and not to harm him in any way. Army planners "invested hours and hours to make sure no one hurts Arafat, that no one gets close to Arafat, that no one touches Arafat's office," he said.
He said electricity was out in the entire area around Ramallah, and that the nearby Jewish settlement of Beit El also had no power. He said the power company was trying to fix the outage.
But Ben-Eliezer gave no indication that Arafat's confinement would be eased.
He said Arafat was being isolated to cut him off from Palestinian militias that have carried out a string of bombings and shootings. The attacks have killed more than 400 Israelis in the past 18 months of fighting, including 30 over a three-day period this week. More than 1,250 Palestinians have also died.
"He (Arafat) brought this upon himself," Ben-Eliezer said. "This isolation will separate him from the terror groups."
srael widens West Bank assault (Saturday, 30 March, 2002)
Protests swelled in Ramallah and around the Arab world Israel is intensifying its assault on Palestinian areas in the West Bank after trapping Yasser Arafat inside his shell-blasted headquarters in the city of Ramallah.
Defying a United Nations resolution calling for an Israeli withdrawal, tanks also surrounded the headquarters of Jibril Rajoub, the Palestinian security chief in the West Bank, just outside Ramallah.
Israeli incursions were also reported in Hebron and Beit Jala near Bethlehem, and huge protests have been staged around the Arab world against the action.
As the offensive continued, a suicide bomber blew himself up in Tel Aviv, injuring at least 29 people, six seriously.
Israeli troops have rounded up hundreds of Palestinians since using tanks to smash their way into Mr Arafat's compound on Friday.
Street battles raged as Israeli forces conducted house-to-house searches across the city, responding to a wave of suicide attacks by Palestinian militants.
The UN Security Council passed a resolution on Saturday that urged Israel to withdraw from all West Bank cities and called on both sides to move immediately towards a ceasefire.
Israel criticised the resolution, saying it would not pull out of Ramallah.
It warned that the current offensive - launched in response to a suicide bomb attack on Netanya that killed 21 people celebrating Passover - was just the beginning of a long campaign against Palestinian militants.
The Israeli army has called up thousands of reservists.
Arabs Say Arafat Siege Undermines Peace Proposal (Sat March 30, 2002)
Hezbollah Threatens to Open 'Second Front' Against Israel
CAIRO, March 30 - Arab citizens, commentators and officials today questioned the wisdom of the peace proposal offered to Israel this week in light of the continuing siege on Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat. The militant Hezbollah group in Lebanon launched strikes against Israeli military positions in a disputed border region.
Israel responded to the rocket attacks on seven of its outposts in the Shebaa Farms area by firing missiles on suspected Hezbollah positions in southern Lebanon. The exchange underscored the tension created by Israel's move against Arafat's compound in the West Bank city of Ramallah, and added to the danger of a broader conflict.
Thousands of people demonstrated today throughout the Middle East, from the boisterous streets of Beirut and Cairo, to sleepy Persian Gulf capitals like Manama, Bahrain, as well as in Palestinian diaspora communities in Europe. Some set fire to Israeli and American flags.
Following approval early today of a U.N. resolution encouraging Israel to withdraw from Ramallah and other Palestinian cities, Arab leaders lobbied the United States, the European Union and other powers to pressure Israel to comply.
Some said they held the United States complicit because of its military and political support for Israel. "The United States gave the green light for the annihilation of the Palestinian Authority and the isolation of its President," columnist Abdul-Wahab Badrakhan wrote in the pan-Arab Al Hayat newspaper.
Stop the killing, start the talking (3/30/2002)
AT A CERTAIN point in the course of a conflict, it is useful to state the choices in the most basic of terms. The situation in the Middle East is now desperate enough to enlist lessons from other domains of high-stakes conflict. Conflict at its root is fundamentally personal. Grasping the deeper significance of that dynamic can be a potent angle for engaging the sides when all else is failing.
It is time to face the stark choice between killing and talking. There is an opportunity now to recast the enemy as death itself, and to forge an alliance that allows the two leading figures to shape their legacy and their enduring triumph around reconciliation.
Talking while killing has not worked. Prime Minister Ariel Sharon of Israel has simultaneously engaged in bland diplomacy while pursuing military incursions. The killing undermined the credibility of the diplomatic efforts. Palestinian Authority Chairman Yasser Arafat, too, has lauded the importance of negotiating a peaceful resolution while suicide bombers target ed civilian locations. The bombers undermined the legitimacy of Arafat's efforts, rendering him isolated and vulnerable.
Killing while talking also has not worked. The strategies pursued by both sides are not achieving their objectives. Palestinians are no closer to achieving statehood. Israelis are no closer to achieving increased security. Neither can produce convincing evidence for the wisdom of the status quo.
A huge opportunity has recently opened in the Middle East. Arab leaders meeting in Beirut just offered to normalize relations with Israel as part of a comprehensive peace plan. This is a time-limited offer, and its capacity to sway sentiments in the region is a distinct matter of consideration for all sides.
History reminds us that eventually, all wars end. Even the 100 Years War eventually ended. The question now is, how many people are going to perish before this current chapter of violence concludes? Do the people of the region have to wait for a catastrophe with thousands of casualties to shock their leaders back to the table?
Those future casualties - now living and able to voice their concerns - have a stake today in stopping the killing and starting the talking.
More War Is Not the Route to Israeli Security (Mar 30, 2002) http://www.nytimes.com/2002/03/30/opinion/30BEIL.html
Bush Defends Israeli Actions (Sat Mar 30)
CRAWFORD, Texas (AP) - President Bush on Saturday defended Israel's storming of Yasser Arafat's compound and demanded that the Palestinian leader do more to stem violence. He consulted with five world leaders about the crisis, stepping directly into peacemaking made yet more difficult by another suicide bombing in Israel. "I can understand why the Israeli government takes the actions they take. Their country is under attack," Bush said, a day after Israeli tanks invaded buildings in Arafat's government complex on the West Bank. "Every day there has been a suicide bombing, and every day the government sees the loss of innocent life," Bush told reporters summoned to his ranch. CLIP
Arafat Tells TV He Will 'Never Surrender' (Sat Mar 30) http://story.news.yahoo.com/news?tmpl=story&cid=586&u=/nm/20020331/wl_nm/mideast_arafat_tv_dc_3
WASHINGTON (Reuters) Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat, confined to his destroyed headquarters in Ramallah by the Israeli Army, on Saturday told Fox TV that surrender was out of the question and earlier asked Cable News Network to be fair. (...) Earlier, Arafat, operating by the light of candles in a windowless room without water or electricity, told CNN, " ... They have destroyed completely seven of our buildings. Completely around my office and firing my office with all their armaments. "What do you expect? You have to understand, it's the Palestinian people who are facing this challenge, and we are sure that our people will continue steadfast in the face of this terrorism. This is the real terrorism of the occupation; and especially they are using all the American weapons against us, F-16 (fighter aircraft) and rockets and bombs and artillery and everything." CLIP
Middle East Envoys Meet in Jerusalem http://story.news.yahoo.com/news?tmpl=story&u=/nm/20020330/wl_nm/mideast_russia_dc_1
Middle East envoys from the United States, the European Union, the United Nations and Russia met in Jerusalem on Saturday to discuss the latest upsurge in violence in the region, a diplomatic source said.
Mideast Peace, Mideast Carnage (March 29, 2002)
The Arab League took an admirable, if long overdue, step Wednesday when it offered to establish normal relations with Israel in exchange for a Palestinian state's being built on the land captured in the 1967 war. The assertion that Israelis have a right to peace and security a first acknowledgment by the Arab world, in effect, of their collective humanity rings hollow, however, when juxtaposed with the league's indifference toward one of the most horrific Palestinian suicide bombings to date. Arab leaders must take up the challenge hurled at them by Hamas with its carefully timed attack on a Passover seder at a hotel in Netanya. Unless the leaders find a way to end the intoxication with suicide bombings taking over Palestinian society and force the Palestinian Authority to end these acts, the historic peace offer will mean nothing. CLIP
Extended Operation Set in West Bank After Terror Bombing (March 29, 2002)
JERUSALEM, Friday, March 29 The Israeli government declared Yasir Arafat an "enemy" today and sent tanks and armored personnel carriers to fully isolate him in his Ramallah headquarters and to launch an "extended operation" in the Palestinian territories. CLIP He said 20,000 reserve soldiers were being called up to free regular forces for an operation that could last a long time.
Arafat Calls World Leaders for Help (Fri Mar 29)
ANALYSIS: Has Sharon Started Endgame to Oust Arafat? (Fri Mar 29)
(...) PRESSURE ON SHARON MOUNTS Confidence in Sharon has sunk to its lowest point since he became prime minister because of his failure to curb the violence, according to opinion polls. Left-wing members of his cabinet favor a complete withdrawal from Palestinian self-rule areas in the West Bank and Gaza Strip and a resumption of peace talks. Right-wing members of the coalition want steps that include reoccupying all Palestinian areas. Alienating either the political right or left could speed the collapse of Sharon's coalition, elections and a battle for control of his Likud party with former Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu -- a battle he would be far from certain to win. Sharon also has to take into account the United States in any decision he takes. But analysts say he might now be prepared to risk upsetting his American allies if it meant a major boost to his ratings. CLIP
A revolting massacre Civilians targeted during holiday seder (Fri, Mar. 29)
In the spiral of violence that engulfs Israel and the Palestinians, it is difficult to be surprised by a single attack. Yet the deadly explosion of a large bomb during a Passover ceremony Wednesday night was singularly shocking. After 53 years of violence, Israelis have been conditioned to expect the unexpected -- especially during their holy days. Security has been tightened to an extraordinary degree over the months as the suicide bombers grew bolder and targeted civilians more frequently. Yet the timing and scale of this assault was even more audacious and galling than usual. Nineteen people were killed and more than 100 injured. The attack came as Arabs at a summit in Beirut discussed a Saudi ''land for peace'' proposal, as the Bush administration pushed aggressively for a cease-fire and as 250 people -- many of them elderly -- gathered for a ritual Seder in a resort hotel. (...) The terrorist group Hamas, which claimed ''credit'' for the Passover attack, said that one of its goals was to disrupt the negotiations for a cease-fire to end the 18 months of violence that have plunged Israelis and Palestinians into a deadly war of attrition. CLIP
NEWS ANALYSIS: Two-Edged Diplomacy (March 29, 2002)
BEIRUT, Lebanon, March 28 In offering Israel terms for eventual peace with Arab states today, Arab leaders encouraged Palestinians, in the meantime, to keep fighting. "It's not a question of terrorism," said Amr Moussa, the secretary general of the Arab League. "It's a question of occupation of Arab land, which necessarily leads to legitimate resistance." This mixed message suggests why Yasir Arafat will have great difficulty enforcing the cease-fire he said tonight he was prepared to accept. The fact is that an increasingly muscular and effective Palestinian uprising enjoys overwhelming support in the Arab world, while any peace still seems far away. CLIP
Israel and Palestine in Mortal Conflict
Weak Leaders Hinder Middle East Peace
FULL COVERAGE OF THE MIDDLE EAST CONFLICT
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