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Liberia Follows South Africa's Lead Toward A Peaceful Society
an article by Tony Dominski

On June 22, 2006 Liberia's Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC) (see website) formally began work Thursday to document atrocities committed during nearly a quarter-century of conflict in which 250,000 perished. The conflict included a bloody 14-year civil war.

The Liberian TRC is modeled after South Africa's successful commission, which was launched in 1995 at the end of apartheid to document human rights abuses and their long term effects. See CPNN article.

Liberian President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf said a full accounting of the massacres and other atrocities since 1979 will set the stage for long-term peace. She said: "We must make collective restitution to those victimized, rehabilitate the victimizers, while at the same time visiting some forms of retribution upon those whose violations qualify as crimes against humanity." "The future and the stability of our country will remain in doubt unless we face ourselves as a people, unless we tell the truth of what we did to ourselves and to our nation.

Sirleaf's inauguration in January 2006 ended a transitional period meant to ease Liberia toward peace after years of fighting. As stated in Wikipedia, she has been widely celebrated as the world's first black female president and likewise Africa's first elected female head of state.

Some 15,000 U.N. peacekeepers are providing security in Liberia under a 2003 peace deal that ended fighting and arranged the transitional administration succeeded by Sirleaf's government. Liberia, a country of 3 million, was founded by freed American slaves in 1847. It has struggled with colonialism and conflicts between the American settlers living in coastal counties and the tribal population living inland.


Question(s) related to this article:

Israel/Palestine, is the situation like South Africa?, Would a Truth and Reconciliation Commission help?

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The following discussion concerning the Presbyterian divestment from companies aiding the Israeli occupation of Palestine was received from The Tikkun Daily.

Editor’s Note from Rabbi Michael Lerner: We invited the Religious Action Center of the Reform Movement and J Street, both of which have opposed the Presbyterian divestment resolution, to respond to those who support the Presbyterian resolution. Neither agreed to do so. Tikkun has sought to be a safe space in which both sides could present their thinking. But it’s hard to get the two sides in the Jewish world to sit together and discuss the issues, since anyone who supports even the very limited form of divestment proposed by the Presbyterians is, as J Street’s Jeremy Ben Ami said recently in explaining his opposition to any form of Boycotts, Divestments or Sanctions, crossing “a red line” and hence, in the view of the Jewish establishment, automatically suspect of being anti-Semitic. We believe a public debate is a more healthy way to conduct this discussion, and so we are disappointed that neither J Street nor the Reform Movement accepted our invitation.

Presbyterian Divestment – A Jewish Perspective
by Cantor Michael Davis, Jewish Voice for Peace Rabbinical Council

The first time I wore a kippa and talit outside of a synagogue setting was four year ago outside a hotel in downtown Chicago overlooking the Chicago river. I was singing with a group of my colleagues, local Reform cantors, to protest the mistreatment of hotel workers. I had the privilege of getting to know worker leaders, edit a national clergy report into worker conditions and organize my fellow clergy in Chicago. This was an exciting time – we took over the lobby of a Hyatt hotel with a flashmob, met with senior executives, collaborated with Christian clergy, traveled to other cities and on and on. . ...more.

This report was posted on August 8, 2006.