The Centre for Christian Spirituality: Arts Programming in and about Prison in Cape Town, South Africa

Originally posted on Razor Wire Women:

I’m now back in Michigan, getting ready for the start of the new school year. I apologize for not doing any Brazil blogging while in Brazil, but we had such a lovely, jam-packed trip that my schedule simply did not afford the time. I am going to post a little more on South Africa before writing about our adventures with the PCAP Brazil Exchange this year, but rest assured, I’ll get there as soon as I am able.

A poster from the Robben Island Museum.

A poster from the Robben Island Museum.

When Andy and I were in Cape Town, South Africa, our first order of business was to head to Robben Island to see the historic prison turned museum where Nelson Mandela had spent the majority of his incarceration. Unfortunately, we only got to see the small museum on the mainland shore where one catches the ferry to the island itself. August is winter in South Africa…

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Economic responsibility in our lifetime

It is only through disciplined practice that an artist or musician can attain freedom of expression…what we might call mastery. Behaviour is much the same. Without responsibility, freedom is impossible. If we all behaved in a responsible manner, external laws and controls on us would not be necessary.

We hear so many calls for freedom these days. Some parties call for “economic freedom” for all people. Others call for free markets without government control. But where are the calls for responsibility? We would be wiser to first call for responsibility, because only responsible actions will allow us the space to have real freedom.

It is no co-incidence that we have become a nation plagued by poverty, unemployment, inequality, crime, violence etc. Apartheid and centuries of colonialism and racism left us with a legacy of inequality that we have failed to address.  It is becoming increasingly clear that freedom without responsibility is not possible:  Our poor are trapped in a cycle of poverty and squalor, and the rest live in walled prisons behind burglar bars, too afraid to walk the streets at night.  Poverty and ever increasing inequality have reached the point where revolution seems increasingly inevitable.

Fortunately, its not too late to change things for the better and to heal and build our great nation.  Our beautiful people are so truly powerful, there is no limit to what we will achieve once we get our values straight.

How we value something is reflected in how we reward each other for it.  It is wise to ensure that work is rewarded according to the quality of the work, the difficulty of the task, how much time and effort is expended, how dangerous it is, and the value that that work adds to a product or company and society in general. In rewarding adaquately, we demonstrate the true value of hard work, and we encourage quality people to do the kinds of work that would most benefit our country, our society, our companies and our people. However, because we have lost our values and use the market as an excuse, most employers reward people according to how desperate their workers are for work and money…the more desperate our workers are, the less we reward them, regardless of the quality of their work or value added.




#SAMarch4Gaza: All expectations exceeded!

Originally posted on marthiemombergblog:

We hoped 100 000 people would join the march for Gaza on 9 August 2014. We were wrong!

While an accurate number of participants is not readily available, a Mail & Guardian photographer in attendance estimated there were “well over 100 000, possible even close to 200 000 people”. There is no doubt that the massive march was one of the biggest, if not the biggest, the city has ever seen.

People came from different parts of the country – Benoni, Lenasia, Johannesburg, Durban, Pietermaritzburg, Port Elizabeth and many other places. When the first marchers were half way up Adderley Street in the city centre, the tail had still to leave the starting point in Keizergracht.


What a day. Imagine all these women, men and children walking side by side, singing together….”we are marching, we are marching, we are marching…..” and chanting “free Palestine!”


Whilst the city started to fill up with people…

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SA EAAPI Statement on Palestine and Israel

31 July 2014

We, as a group of 70 South African ecumenical accompaniers who have monitored and reported human rights abuses in Palestine cannot remain silent at a time like this. We remember how often Palestinians told us that if we as South Africans can have a just freedom, then it must be possible for them too.

South African ecumenical accompaniers have worked side to side with other internationals in occupied Palestine since 2004 in the Ecumenical Accompaniment Programme in Palestine Israel (EAPPI). EAPPI was established by the World Council of Churches in response to a call from the Heads of Churches in the Holy Land. EAPPI provides protective presence to the vulnerable Palestinian communities and supports Palestinians and Israelis working together for peace. We have witnessed multiple and layered injuries and losses by Palestinians whether Christian or Muslim. We value and recognise the safety and dignity of all those in Israel and Palestine. Yet we are not impartial when it comes to international law.

SA-EAPPI is appalled and devastated with the ongoing bombings, shelling and rocket firing in Israel and Palestine. However we absolutely reject any arguments that position the conflict between Palestinians and Israelis as two equal sides. The disproportionate killing of civilians including so many children horrifies us. That people are deprived of shelter, food, electricity, water and the hope of freedom is a source of shame to all who value the sacredness of life and the protection of international law. The current escalation in the conflict is not a war, let alone an act of self-defence, but a punitive, planned, strategic, militant expedition by a regional super-power to deepen Israel’s military occupation of Palestine. Moreover, Israel’s systematic, systemic, institutionalised oppression of the Palestinians that violates international law on a daily basis makes the conflict a-symmetric.

SA-EAPPI endorses the Memorandum to the South African Government issued by the National Coalition for Palestine (NC4P) on 28 July 2014 in Cape Town. In addition, we appeal to:
• South African citizens to not buy any Israeli produce or services;
• all faith communities to critically review their interpretations of sacred texts in a quest to uphold those values and principles that foster the flourishing of life for all;
• South African churches to take a clear and unequivocal stand for justice and a viable peace;
• the South African government to break its resounding silence and to demonstrate to the world what sustained, visible solidarity can mean for the freedom of an oppressed people;
• the United Nations’ Security Council to agree on resolutions to end both the conflict and the occupation, and to appoint an honest and an impartial broker for peace talks between Palestine and Israel; and
• the international society to ensure the consistent implementation of international law.

Meditation by John de Gruchy: Peace in Jerusalem


Matthew 23:37-39
Jerusalem, Jerusalem, the city that kills the prophets and stones those who are sent to it! How often have I desired to gather your children together as a hen gathers her brood under her wings, and you were not willing!

The Old Testament exhorts us to pray for the peace of Jerusalem. (Psalm 122:6) Yet, despite this, and the fact that its name means “city of peace,” it has been a centre of conflict for thousands of years, and remains so today. The current war in Gaza may be about Israeli security and the Palestinian demand for the lifting of the Israeli blockade and the release of Hamas prisoners, but it is ultimately about the peace of Jerusalem. A city over which ancient Israel, the Syrians, Persians, Romans, Crusaders, Turks, the British, Germans, Jews, Christians, and Muslims, have all fought, as do Palestinians and Jews today. Jerusalem is the key to peace in the Middle East; it is also a key to peace in the rest of the world. To pray for the peace of Jerusalem is to pray for the peace of the world. But what are we praying for in relation to the present war in Gaza, and why is the United Nations now accusing Israel of crimes against humanity? Was not the State of Israel founded in 1948 in response to the Nazi Holocaust so that Jews might have their own homeland where they could control their own destiny in peace?
I have visited several former concentration camps in Europe built by the Nazi’s to incarcerate and murder those whom they considered undesirables: communists and homosexuals, and millions of Jewish people of whom six million were exterminated simply because they were Jews. This was the result of centuries of anti-Semitism in Europe propagated by Christians. If you have not yet visited the Holocaust Museum in Cape Town then you should do so to be more informed about this sordid crime against humanity. The State of Israel was established in 1948 to make sure that this would never happen again. But does the Holocaust justify what Israel is now doing to the Palestinians whether in Gaza or the West Bank?
The story is a complex one, but simplistically put, the founding of the State of Israel was the result of a war fought by Zionist Jews against British control in Palestine, in order to take control of Jerusalem. And the British Mandate that eventually led to its formal establishment was a European solution to the “Jewish Problem,” but much against the interests of the Palestinian majority living in the country. Naturally there was Palestinian and Arab resistance and even violent attempts to destroy the new state, not helped by some serious errors of judgment. But Zionism prevailed, and Israel has flourished, but at the ongoing expense of the Palestinians, including Christians.
Many Christians in the West think, however, that all this is in fulfillment of biblical prophecy, and therefore they give their uncritical support to the State of Israel. But Israel as the people of God in the Old Testament is about the Jews as a “light to the nations,” a people providing a moral compass in witnessing to God’s justice and mercy; it is not about the modern State of Israel, today pursuing its policies of security through expansion with ruthless power armed to the teeth by the United States. Being critical of Israel today is not being anti-Semitic or anti-Judaism any more than it was when the Jewish prophets called those in power in Jerusalem to account, demanding justice and mercy both in Israel itself and in its dealing with other nations.
More than the five million displaced Palestinians now live in refugee camps in neighbouring countries, and those in Gaza and the West Bank live under Israeli occupation. Israel continually expands its borders in disregard of international law. The situation for Palestinians, especially in Gaza has become intolerable. This has led to the violent reaction led by Hamas, its rejection of the State of Israel, and the launching of indiscriminate rocket attacks on Israeli citizens. Hamas has rejected ceasefires and truces because in the past, despite promises, these have not brought about change; things have only got worse. So the war on Gaza continues apparently unabated. But it is a case of a David versus Goliath, only now David has all the tanks and helicopters and Goliath largely ineffective and inaccurate rockets.
On Tuesday morning I joined thousands of academics around the world in supporting a statement made by almost a hundred Jewish academics in Israel. It reads as follows:
The signatories to this statement, all academics at Israeli universities, wish it to be known that they utterly deplore the aggressive military strategy being deployed by the Israeli government. The slaughter of large numbers of wholly innocent people is placing yet more barriers of blood in the way of the negotiated agreement which is the only alternative to the occupation and endless oppression of the Palestinian people. Israel must agree to an immediate cease-fire, and start negotiating in good faith for the end of the occupation and settlements, through a just peace agreement.
Israelis have every right to live in peace; but the killing of over 650 civilians, with 4,000 more injured, many of them women and children — some of them playing on the beach — and the bombing of schools and hospitals, has turned the war on Gaza into a crime against humanity. Rockets may well be hidden in homes, schools and hospitals. But that does not give Israel the moral or political right to bomb wherever and whatever they choose, and to do so at will. The war has become grotesque and outrageous. But it is also counter-productive. The more Israel acts in this way the greater the resistance not just in Palestine but around the world. The truth is, there is no military solution to the problem, nor will a cease-fire actually solve anything unless the underlying problems are addressed. Conflict will continue, many more lives will be wasted, and the reaction of militants will become more violent. We know that from our own experience in South Africa: the only way forward is to pursue justice with mercy. Former President FW de Klerk said as much to the Israelis on a visit to Israel recently. They have to come to their senses through increasing pressure and diplomacy.

Luke tells us that as Jesus came near to Jerusalem on his way to the cross, he “wept over it, saying, ‘If you, even you, had only recognised on this day the things that make for peace!'” (19:41) Those who challenge Israel today, including many Jews, stand in the shoes of Jesus who wept over Jerusalem because its leaders refuse to recognise the things that make for peace. As we weep for the victims of war in Palestine and Israel, we also pray for peace in Jerusalem, for those who are seeking to make it a just reality, including those Palestinian Christians who witness to the gospel of peace in such terrible times. “Pray for the peace of Jerusalem!”

John de Gruchy
Volmoed 24 July 2014

Petition: End relations with Apartheid Israel now!

Petition: End Relations with Apartheid Israel Now

If you support this petition, please write your name in the comments section below

We, the undersigned, respectfully and yet urgently demand that

  1. the South African Parliament debates the current war on the people of Gaza by the Apartheid Israeli regime and adopts a resolution to condemn the attacks on and killing of innocent people and the destruction of property including health facilities, and to call for the termination of diplomatic relations with the State of Israel.
  2. The Minister of International Relations and Cooperation implement the various relevant resolutions formally adopted by the ANC Parliamentary Caucus, the Gauteng Provincial Legislature, the ANC Youth League and the South African Communist Party to recall the South African Ambassador to Israel and to ask Arthur Lenk, Israel’s Ambassador to Pretoria, to return to where he comes from.
  3. The South African Government to give concrete expressions to the numerous calls from civil society, the trade unions,  religious and community leaders – including more than 100 Jewish leaders – to end South Africa’s military agreements/sales to and all economic relations with the State of Israel.

The gap between what civil society and the ruling party proclaim and demand on the one hand and what the government does and appears to be prepared to do, on the other is far too wide!

We expected an elected government to listen to the voice of the people!

We expect a government whose members are deployed to their positions by a specific party to heed the voice of that party – not lobbies for a foreign government – even these lobbies masquerade as the representatives of a specific religious group!

Issued by the National Coalition for Palestine-

Enough is enough!








Kairos to SA Government: Sever Diplomatic and Trade Ties with Israel

Originally posted on marthiemombergblog:

The role of the South African government is unique in the world, given our country’s history of apartheid. Yet it lags behind in its solidarity with the Palestinians. Kairos Southern Africa asks for urgent, decisive action – not statements – in a formal request to the government of the Republic of South Africa:


18 July 2014

To: The Honourable Minister of International Relations Ms Maite E Nkoana-Mashabane
CC: The Honourable Mr. H.T Magama, Chairperson of the Portfolio Committee of International Relations and Cooperation, and the Deputy Director-General for DIRCO c/o Mr Clayson Monyela

Kairos Southern Africa believes that all lives have the same value, and that all violence is destructive. The current and ongoing situation between Israel and Palestine poses a critical test for the international community’s commitment to international law and human dignity.

Any attempt to remain neutral in this kind of conflict is both futile and immoral. Neutrality…

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