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This Christmas, consider a Christian peacemaker’s book about Iraqi reconciliation

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img_0790_2One of the most compassionate people I have had the privilege to get to know is Peggy Faw Gish, a member of the Christian Peace Maker team, who went to Iraq in October of 2002 before the illegal and immoral U.S. invasion. While millions of us were protesting, lobbying our reps and being arrested because of our stances against the invasion during the fall of 2002 and winter of 2003, Peggy took a much more serious and ultimately life threatening step: she went there to try to stop the invasion.

“I first went to Iraq in Oct. 2002 because I wanted to do all I could to try to stop that war from happening,” she writes. “As I fell in love with the Iraqi people, and saw the horrific devastation the U.S. caused, I wanted to walk with Iraqis who were discovering nonviolent ways of struggling for justice and reconciliation in their society. ”

Peggy has a second book out about her direct experiences with the Iraqi people. It includes collecting direct reports starting in the spring and summer of 2003 from family members of people who were tortured and of those tortured in Abu Ghraib. Here is a book description of Walking Through Fire: Iraqis’ Struggle for Justice and Reconciliation:

Through Iraqis’ eyes—through their stories—this book “tells the truth” about what war and the U.S. government’s antiterrorism policies have really meant for them. Iraqis recount the abuses they experienced in the U.S. and new Iraqi detention systems, the excessive violence, and collective punishment of the U.S.-led occupying forces, as well as tensions between Kurds and Arab Iraqis—tensions rooted in Saddam Hussein’s genocide against the Kurds. Stories coming out of Iraq between 2004 and 2011 also describe the efforts of courageous and creative Iraqis speaking out against injustices and building movements of nonviolence and reconciliation. We also get a glimpse of how the author, a peace-worker, immersed in the violence and chaos of war, dealt with the pain and suffering of those around her, as well as her own personal losses and kidnapping ordeal. Her experiences strengthen her belief that the power of nonviolent suffering love (the way of Jesus) is stronger than the power of violence and force, and can break down barriers and be transformative in threatening situations. She counters the myths of the superiority of violent force to root out evil in places such as Iraq and challenges us to do all we can to prevent the tragedy of any future war.”

This is a time of year when many people are hopefully in a spiritually reflective mood,and millions are focused on the birth and life of a man, Jesus Christ, who dedicated his life to peace, love and understanding. This book about Iraq was written by a woman who walks in his foot steps. It would make a great gift for those interested in peace and reconciliation, in walking the talk.

Peggy also has a new blog dedicated to helping others develop a deeper understanding about just how the invasion effected the Iraqi people. Her blog is focused on peace and reconciliation. Please join her.

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Thank you, Kathleen. How lovely that you’re writing here, to add to all you’ve taught us in your helpful Comments. Thanks for telling us about Gish’s book–with her beautiful photo–, as well as all you’ve said for years about her and her late husband, Art Gish. Thanks for all your great work, Kathleen.

As much as she is right in her criticism of the Iraq war and its aftereffects, it is also impossible to deny the sectarian tensions between Shia, Sunni, Kurd and Christian that existed before. The invasion and the disaster of governing afterwards made it all worse, but from what I’ve read from Iraqis that have since fled they insist what was coming was coming anyway, just like the chaos in Syria is being exploited by… Read more »

What Saddam did to the Kurds was a picnic compared to what he did to the Shia. After the Gulf war in 1991, the Americans encouraged the Shia and the Kurds to rebel against Saddam and when they did and took almost all the country (except Baghdad), the promised American help never came and Saddam and his Republican Guards went after both groups with a vengeance. Tens of thousands of Shia died, thousands of Kurds… Read more »