Tuesday, March 18, 2008

A Task of the Nonviolent Warrior

Louis Fortis and Lisa Kaiser had a promotional Q&A with Father G. Simon Harak of Marquette University’s Center for Peacemaking in the Shepherd Express, March 12, 2008.
Shepherd: Voices in the Wilderness was the lone group speaking out against the sanctions that the United States imposed on Iraq after the first Gulf War. Those sanctions created a terrible humanitarian crisis in Iraq, although few Americans acknowledged that. So how did Voices in the Wilderness begin?

Harak: We sat down in 1995, sitting at a table, in early August, because we had just done a protest against nuclear weapons, in Chicago. Five of us sat around the table and said, “How should we focus our attention?” And people began saying, “What about these sanctions?” We had such little knowledge about it then. “Do we still have sanctions? Are they bad?” That’s where we were. ...

Perhaps his memory was fresher when he answered the same question in an interview by Robert Jensen, later published in Z Magazine, July/August 2001.
How did Iraq and the lifting of the sanctions become central to you?

... my folks were born in Lebanon, but grew up in the U.S., and I’ve always been interested in the Middle East. That interest increased when I became religious; this was the place where Jesus walked around. And the commitment to nonviolence led me to be concerned. So when in 1990-91 we had the Gulf War massacre, all those concerns came together. ...

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