Addict (drugaddict) wrote,

AHA Statement on the Lebanon war

Date:   Thu, 17 Aug 2006 00:37:51 -0400
From:   Carl Coon

The American Humanist Association has taken vigorous positions recently
on certain domestic issues but has stayed in the corner on most
international issues, including anything to do with  Israel. Partly at
my urging, that organization has just made a considered statement that
is pretty evenhanded. Here it is. It doesn't say everything you or I
might feel ought to be said, but coming from the source it is, perhaps,
another small crack that lets a little light in to some people who have
been wandering around in the dark as far as the realities of the Middle
East and our role there are concerned.

Carl Coon

*Humanist Statement on the Hezbollah-Israeli War*

August 16, 2006

The conflict between Israel and Hezbollah that exploded in July
constitutes a humanitarian disaster. Public debate is largely focused on
questions of blame and whether the Israeli response to Hezbollah
provocation was disproportionate. Many humanists believe, however, that
the underlying conflicts and controversies that led to the hostilities
must also be addressed if peace is ever to come to the Middle East.

The present conflict is the product of a toxic mix of religious and
historical differences, leading both sides to subordinate their sense of
common humanity to the crisis mentality of their in group. It seems
unlikely to us that something resembling peace will ever come to the
Middle East until and unless the antagonists rediscover their common

In this context, the principle of the separation of religion and
government becomes critically important. It follows that U.S. policy
toward the Middle East should more explicitly reflect the goal of
secularism than it does now. If we genuinely want the countries in that
region to become more democratic and stable, we should start by putting
more emphasis in our public and private diplomacy toward advocating the
separation of religion and government in their societies.

Reform can and should begin at home. Fundamentalist Christians, who
fervently believe that chaos in the Middle East is a necessary first
step to the achievement of their millennial goals, heavily influence our
present administration. Such sectarian fortune telling has no place in a
rational country’s calculation of its national interest. Future
historians will see the present high level of influence as a singularly
bizarre aberration. Humanists are convinced that mainstream America must
decisively reject “prophesy” as a guide to national policy.

Christian fundamentalists have a right to hold their own religious
views, but the rest of us should not be coerced into following national
policies that are harmful to the national interest and which extend
human suffering abroad.

Carleton Coon is the Vice President of the American Humanist
Association, former U.S. Ambassador to Nepal, and author of One Planet,
One People, Beyond 'Us vs. Them.’

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