Tag Archives: Syria

Miss Myrtle’s Vancouver: Pomegranates

He smiled. Daroo had always seemed very serious, almost unapproachable. He struck me as being in his late 20’s, and he never cracked a smile. Ever.

Until the morning I put down my only grocery purchase – two large pomegranates. He smiled. I asked if he liked pomegranates, and he answered wistfully “We have two pomegranate trees in the garden, back at my home.” When I asked him where “home” was, Daroo responded “Syria”.  When pressed further, he added “in a small village near Aleppo”. Instantly, I understood the underlying sadness that his face always expressed. Hoping that Daroo might share the story of how he had come to Vancouver by way of Aleppo, asked if we could meet for coffee. He agreed.

Daroo was born in a Kurdish village near Afrin. It sits near the north-west border of Syria and Turkey. The region is called “Kurd-Dagh”, the Mountain of the Kurds. His parents still live there. The village is famous for its bountiful olive, fig and pomegranate trees. Daroo says that once you taste Afrin’s fruit, all others will forever pale in comparison.

“Neighbouring Azaz is also home to many Turkmen and Arab communities. Almost everyone, Kurds included, is Sunni Muslim. Kurdish identity is based not on religion, but on ethnicity and cultural heritage. Overlooking the Afrin River, within sight of the Turkish border, sprawl the vast Roman ruins of Cyrrhus” –  Diana Darke, BBC

The thriving, ancient Syrian city of Cyrrhus was founded in 300 BC, by Seleucus Nicator, one of Alexander The Great’s generals. Its history over the centuries includes Roman, Armenian, Byzantine/Justinian, Muslim and Crusader rule.

Daroo was born into a family of five sisters and one brother, with lots of aunts and uncles. He played with his brother, sisters and friends in the family garden and roamed the streets of his village and Afrin. He remembers that when he was a child, all the members of his family had to sign an Oath of Allegiance to the ruling Ba’ath Party, led by Hafez al-Assad. The family avoided politics, and the community was largely left to its own devices.

Daroo also remembers, that even as a young boy, he knew that he was “different”. He knew early in his life that he was gay. He was not alone – when he eventually went to work and study in Aleppo, he discovered a large, vibrant underground LGBTQ community, where he fit right in. The Hafez al-Assad Regime enforced Article 520 of the penal code of 1949, which prohibits “carnal relations against the order of nature”, and provides for up to three-years imprisonment. Members of that community have been and continue to be jailed, beaten and often executed. Neighbors and even family members continue to inform on others.

Someone reported Daroo in 2008. In jail for 5 days, in an underground cell, he and several friends were packed into “a shithole” where he often had to sleep standing up, hearing endless beatings and screaming. He himself was beaten so severely, that he passed out. The five days felt like five years. His frantic family pooled their resources and paid the local police and judges, expensive bribes. He, his two gay and one transgender friends, were finally released from jail. Even though he was released, he had to go back and forth to court for a year. Fortunately he was given parole.

In 2011 The Arab Spring, which had given so many in the Arab world hope, was hijacked by radicals, but all that the Kurds really wanted, was a secular Syrian Democracy. Life began to change for the worse. Even in the face of all of these challenges, Daroo found something that would underpin his life forever…

Daroo fell in love with the writings of William Shakespeare. He majored in English Literature at Aleppo University. The Bard’s plays transported Daroo to another time, another place – but they also spoke of the very contemporary treachery, horror, loves, lives, wars, births, deaths and laughter that were life in Kurdish Syria. Daroo and his classmates wrote their final exams in 2013. While he sat in the eerily quiet exam hall, with pen in hand, the Russians carpet-bombed the University.

His passion for Shakespeare shaped Daroo’s decision to remain in his family’s Aleppo home, even after they had returned to the relative safety of Afrin, because the Bashir Al Assad – Putin regime stepped up bombardments of Kurdish communities and “rebel strongholds” like Aleppo. On that fateful day in 2013, all around him, many of them friends as well as classmates, 80 students, died. Daroo kept his head down. He kept writing. “I studied so hard and so long I wanted to graduate or die. I wasn’t afraid, I was fatalistic.”

Daroo passed. Aleppo University exams were suspended for a month. Although he didn’t realize it, he was still in shock. The day he was awarded his BA in English Literature, he also received an official notice from the Syrian government, saying that he was drafted into the Syrian military, and must report to basic training. Then and there, Daroo made one of the most difficult decisions of his life. Leaving his beloved family, he fled to Turkey.

Months before, Daroo met a farmer who transported tea and cigarettes into Turkey, in bags on the backs of several donkeys that he owned, in order to support his family, including small children. The man lived in the next village Sheeh, one village over from Afrin. Daroo helped carry some of those bags across the border into Turkey.

His sister had married a Turkish man and was living in Turkey. She had a passport and met Daroo after he crossed the border. He sat, emotionally exhausted, as she drove back to her family home. Daroo lived with his sister and brother-in-law for the next year. They all worked cutting fabric 12 hrs/6 days/per week for 600 turkish lira ($140 Cdn), to survive.

Daroo had applied for a passport before fleeing Syria. Amazingly, a year later, his passport in Aleppo was ready. He stole across the border to Afrin and bribed someone to steal his passport and bring it to him in Afrin. Passport in hand, he fled Syria for Turkey, and eventually made his way to Canada, Vancouver… And a New Life.

To be continued … Pomegranates 1

Footnote. Have never been a chest-pounding smug Canadian, but am very proud of our Country for taking in over 50,000 Syrian Refugees over the past four years. Many people came to Vancouver, and in spite of facing so many challenges, continue to enrich our Community in many ways. Yes, our social support systems are stretched – but life for those who fled the horrors of the Syrian war and impending Kurdish Genocide, is now bearable.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cyrrhus

Never Again Is Now! Remembrance Day November 11, 2018

Never Again Is Now!

Yesterday, Traitor-In-Chief, Fake President Trump stayed in his hotel and tweeted hateful comments to Californians while their state became an inferno. Others, REAL Leaders honored those who served and died, to defend Democracy. They attended memorial services across France.

Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau visited the Vimy Ridge Memorial, where he laid a wreath and made a heart-felt speech in the pouring rain. Vimy holds a special place in Canadian’s hearts and consciousness. 66,000 fought and died during World War One. The Canadian Expeditionary Force served with distinction.

Trudeau at Vimy Nov 10 2018 Canadian Expeditionary Force Flag

They fought heroically at the Battle of Arras, wherein lies Vimy Ridge, and on other bloody battlefields across Europe. On the 11th hour of the 11th day, Armistice Day, we remember their sacrifice during the Great War. We said Never Again.

Canada itself had only become a nation in 1867. At the start of World War 1 in 1914, Canada’s population was just under 8 million. Over 619,000 Canadians enlisted and served, both at home and abroad. Putting that into context, our losses were staggering. While so many perished on the battlefield, many came home alive, but irreparably damaged.

World War 1 was the first major global conflict in which chemical weapons were used. In this case mustard gas, phosgene gas, chlorine gas and tear gas were deployed with deadly and life-changing consequences. The newly invented machine gun and bombs propelled the permanent need for on-site amputations of arms and legs. The number of those surgeries was astronomical. Shell Shock became the euphemism for PTSD. Needless to say, those who survived the Great War, came home with serious untreated mental health issues that they never talked about. Those issues haunted them to their grave. The painting below is by renowned artist John Singer Sargent…

Chemical Weapons Soldiers WW1 John Singer Sargent

The Royal Canadian Army Medical Corps and the Canadian Army Nursing Service performed heroically on the European battlefields. They had previously distinguished themselves attending to Canadian soldiers in South Africa, during the Boer War (1899-1902) and at home.

WW1 Royal Canadian Medical Corps  WOUNDED GROUP Canadian Soldiers WW1

Canada Remembers because the Battle to Save Democracy NEVER Ends.

Nurse with Wounded Soldiers  Canadian Nurses Burial WW1

That is why my Russian grandfather fled the Jewish Pogroms, joined the French Foreign Legion, then joined the British Army and fought in WWI. He eventually made his way to Canada, where he worked and raised a family. My father, his son, served in the Royal Canadian Navy during WW2, working on dangerous North Atlantic convoys. Two of his brothers served in the Royal Canadian Air Force. One became an acclaimed war artist, whose paintings of the liberation of the Bergen-Belsen Concentration Camp, Hamburg and Hanover, hang in the National War Museum in Ottawa. What he witnessed, haunted him for the rest of his life.

Aba Bayefsky War Museum2  Aba Bayefsky War Museum1

Canadians have always had our American Cousin’s backs, never more so than today. We have served in the trenches of every major global conflict, with our American Cousins.

That is why it is so important, perhaps even more important today, to continue the Fight To Save Democracy. Make no mistake, nothing less than global Democracy is at stake in these perilous times. As Putin’s Puppet Donald Trump, meets with his master in France, the Republican Party that is no longer the Party of Lincoln, helped install him. We must understand that while many of the battlefields have changed, the battles are just as bloody.

Putin has weaponized social media and the internet. As he masses forces on Ukraine, Belarus, Polish, Finland & other borders, he has become the de facto ruler of Syria. He and Bashar Al Assad have bombed the Syrian People into oblivion. Putin is playing all sides against each other, hoping to draw America, Iran, Israel, Syria and Saudi Arabia into an all-out Middle East war. He has created chaos everywhere.

He finances and manipulates White Supremacists and domestic terrorists in Europe and North America, uses his own mercenaries in Africa and elsewhere. Very quietly, Putin has taken over much of the Arctic. His newest ice-breaking nuclear submarines have disappeared off the radar, but my money’s on them being in the Arctic, where drilling for oil has become a priority.

Russian Nuclear Sub Prince Vladimir 2017  Medvedev Russian Nuclear Attack Submarine 4th Generation

He and his cronies the Russian Oligarchs have looted and pillaged Russia. They have become obscenely wealthy, at the expense of the Russian people. The economy has fallen flat. His propaganda machine is in overdrive. Once again the Russian people are at the mercy of a cold-blooded tyrant who is murdering his opposition, with impunity. My Russian grandfather is turning over in his grave.

Robert Mueller, his team of Trump Russia Investigators, other intelligence agencies, judicial bodies, investigative journalists – foreign and domestic, Allies around the World and concerned citizens everywhere, have a part to play in the Battle to Save Democracy. Now is The Time For All True Patriots To Come To The Aid Of Their Country – On this Remembrance Day 2018, Never Again is NOW!

– End –

In Flanders Field was written by  Canadian physician Lieutenant-Colonel John McCrae, in 1915. It was written after the Second Battle of Ypres, in Belgium. Since World War One, the Canadian Legion, Canada’s War Amps, the Vimy Foundation, Veterans Affairs and others have played an important role in addressing Veterans needs, and making sure that their contributions to preserving Democracy are honored, from generation to generation.

in-flanders-fields-by-john-mccrae-in-flanders-fields-the-6375884  330px-Lieut.-Col._John_McCrae,_M.D.

Please donate to these organizations, so that the never-ending services and support that they give Our Veterans can continue: Lest We Forget

@RoyalCdnLegion https://www.legion.ca/ @TheWarAmps https://www.waramps.ca/home/ @vimyfoundation https://www.vimyfoundation.ca/ @CanWarMuseum https://www.warmuseum.ca/

Miss Myrtle’s Rectal Cranial Impaction Hall of Fame Part 9

Illegitimi non carborundum – Don’t Let the Bastards Grind You Down

Here for your edification and enjoyment are yet more Inductees into the Rectal Cranial Impaction Hall of Fame. These are the folks who leave us dumbfounded, dumbstruck and dumbfucked, in no particular order:

DISCLAIMERS: Any picture/Inductee duplication is purely intentional. You may also notice that the majority of Inductees are men. Dearies, that should require no further explanation. This blog post includes text and photos…because a picture is worth a thousand words.

SPECIAL THANKS to Colonel Morris Davis, former Guantanamo Chief Prosecutor for creating the phrase Rectal Cranial Impaction

twitter-logo

F**K TWITTER! 

There, I’ve said it. In the strongest terms possible. Miss Myrtle does not use foul language unless there is no other choice.

Have officially inducted Twitter into The Rectal Cranial Impaction Hall of Fame, and am devoting the entire blogpost to them.

For the second time in 6 weeks Twitter has seen fit to lock my account. Was unable to tweet the Vice Presidential Debate last night, or anything today. The last time this happened, the account was down for 72 hours.

Just received the following  email from Twitter Support illuminati. They state my account has been unlocked. IT HAS NOT.

@MissMyrtle2

Hello,

Your account is now unlocked, and we’re sorry for the inconvenience.

Twitter has automated systems that find and remove automated spam accounts and it looks like your account got caught up in one of these spam groups by mistake. This sometimes happens when an account exhibits automated behavior in violation of the Twitter Rules (https://twitter.com/rules).

Again, we apologize for the inconvenience. Please do not respond to this email as replies will not be monitored.

Thanks,

Twitter Support

I stand accused of exhibiting “automated behavior” – a crime obviously punishable by a slow and excruciating death in earlier times. Twitter is a legend in its own mind, and as such has insulated itself from dealing with its pesky users on a true Customer Service basis. You cannot speak with a Twitter human you must use their on-line forms to plead your case and they will get back to you whenever they feel like it.

Dear Twitter, One Algorithm Does NOT Fit All. 

Had just sent a very strong tweet to Donald Trump surrogate General Flynn and not long thereafter the account was blocked. Had also sent multiple tweets to the GOP, Senate GOP, House GOP, Speaker Ryan, Reince Priebus (whose name reminds me of a stray pubic hair), Trump Campaign Manager Kellyanne Conway, Trump surrogates Newt Gingrich (never trust a grown man willingly going through life with the name Newt) Governor Chris Christie and others.

Have also been tweeting about Vladimir Putin and Sergey Lavrov regarding the bombing of Syria and its children, into oblivion. And Russia’s aggression in Ukraine/Crimea.

So here is the thing. ANYONE who believes that the Russian hacking and monitoring of the US election and beyond, is not a reality and a SERIOUS one, needs to rethink that position.

There is an insane madman out to control the World, and for once, I am not talking about Donald Trump. Vladimir Putin has crawled forth from a primordial swamp and is determined to Make Russia Great Again. Which in his case means Back To The Gulag.

In World Wars One and Two, the enemies were clear, The Kaiser, Adolf Hitler. During the Cold War it was Stalin. Now, the Enemy is hidden. Cyber warfare has turned the battlefield upside down and no one has used this more astutely for greater self-interest than Vladimir Putin. He and China have turned cyber warfare into an art-form.

Throw into this toxic brew the recent explosion of social media and its global impact, and you have set the stage for an ongoing drama. Social Media has driven the 24/7 news cycle – not the other way around. It disseminates information and dis-information at the speed of light.

Dezinformatsiya is an old KGB term for spreading false information of all kinds, to undermine your enemy. One of my favorite authors, John Le Carre, created one of the greatest unglamorous, brilliant and world-weary spies of all time, George Smiley. Smiley oversaw the British effort to shut down The Soviet Union’s Cold War spy apparatus.He was a metaphor for the decline of the British Empire, amongst other things.

The Cold War never really ended, despite what Reaganites would have you believe. It has just entered a new and equally dangerous phase. Former KGB agent Vladimir Putin has assassinated or disappeared all serious Russian opposition at home and abroad, to make himself Emperor For Life. He is using cyber warfare to manipulate the US Presidential Election, in addition to supporting his candidate for President, Donald Trump. That is a whole other discussion for another time.

My questions for Twitter are this: Have you been compromised by Russian hackers in the following ways:

  1. They create spam  characteristics for Twitter Accounts that are critical of Russia and Vladimir Putin. You lock these accounts.
  2. They ficticiously report abuse by Twitter Accounts that are critical of Russia and Vladimir Putin. You lock these accounts.
  3. What are you doing to prevent AND deal with this.
  4. Can you assure users that they can trust Twitter to deal with this.
  5. Why do you give Twitter users no recourse to deal with their accounts being  locked other than online forms that are rarely responded to efficiently or effectively.

Dear Jack Dorsey – One Algorithm Does NOT Fit All

 

The Kansas City Royals and American Pharoah Saved 2015

Dearies, have not written about American Pharoah capturing the almost unattainable Triple Crown and The Kansas City Royals coming back from the abyss to win the World Series, for fear that I would wake up and discover that it had all been a dream. A glorious dream, but none the less the gossamer wings of a dream…

American Pharoah (2)  Kansas City Royals Win World Series

As we enter 2016, am finding it difficult to express my sorrow over the horrific global events  of 2015. The Paris, San Bernardino and Charleston Church terrorist attacks have turned the World on its head. We have been shaken to our core.

Paris After ISIS Attacks 2 San Bernardino Charleston Church Victims

The continuing genocide in Syria with the relentless bombings of Syrian citizens by Vladimir Putin and Bashar Al-Assad, created a humanitarian crisis the likes of which the World has not seen since World War 2. The deliberate starvation of of Madaya and Zabadani, the flight of Syrian Refugees and our failure to act, have almost paralyzed us.

Syrian Refugee Camp  Alan Kurdi  ISIS Flag

The year started with the horrific massacre of French political cartoonists at Charlie Hebdo, the satirical magazine, by Al Quaeda. Al Shabaab, an Al Queda branch, murders 148 at Garissa University College in Kenya. ISIS – the radical Sunni brand, expands its House of War – exploiting the chaos of the Middle East, to Europe and beyond. Disenfranchised youth from around the World are answering their siren call. ISIS continued its public beheadings, the murder and sexual enslavement of tens of thousands of citizens trapped in their grasp and the destruction of historic landmarks,.

No one in their right mind could have predicted the rise of bombastic, bloviating buffoon Donald Trump. His high-jacking of the Republican Party and polarizing of The Angry American Right Wing is breathtaking to contemplate. The GOP Clown Car is full: Space-cadet Ben Carson proves that going off of your psych meds can be a very dangerous thing, and Carly Fiorina demonstrates that grinding Hewlett Packard into the dust was just a warm-up for a Presidential run.  Jeb Bush underscores the fact that Dubya was indeed a doofus. Ted Cruz and Marco Rubio are embarrassments to their Hispanic roots: Mike Huckabee and rest of this motley crew prove that GOP Jesus is a vengeful, hateful, hypocrite. NEVER in its history has the GOP sunk this low. Teddy Roosevelt is turning over in his grave!

GOP Clown Car Toon (2)    Donald Trump Putin Horse BFFs

Canada’s very own fascists, The Alliance Party-In-Conservative-Clothing, were vanquished by an angry Canadian electorate. Stephen Harper was relegated to the dustbin of History. The Liberal Party and Justin Trudeau – son of late Prime Minister Pierre Trudeau were elected by acclamation. Mine was not one of his votes, but I do wish he and his Cabinet well. They have the Herculean task of undoing nearly 10 years of Harper damage. Especially wish my friend Harjit Sajjan well, as new Defense Minister. Australia’s ruling Liberal Party dumped their despotic leader, Prime Minister Tony Abbott.

HarperTrudeau Cabinet Tony Abbott

But I digress…

Watching American Pharoah and jockey Victor Espinoza romp home in the Kentucky Derby, for trainer Bob Baffert and Owner Ahmed Zayat, had my heart pounding. His victory in the Preakness Stakes left me breathless and fearfully hopeful. But his victory in the Belmont Stakes in early June, accomplished what no other horse has since Affirmed and jockey Steve Cauthen in 1978…They won the Triple Crown. It was the same feeling of elation I had, being at Belmont to see Affirmed win. The Heart of a Champions is biggest of all…

American Pharoah KD WinnersCircle

And then, that Cinderella of baseball teams, the Kansas City Royals – who knew only too well that defeat can be snatched from the jaws of victory, made it into the World Series again, looking to end a 30-year drought. What General Manager Dayton Moore and Manager Ned Yost did for team owner David D. Glass was magical. Salvador Perez, Drew Butera, Lorenzo Cain, Christian Colon, Johnny Cueto, Wade Davis,  Danny Duffy,  Jarrod Dyson, Alcides Escobar,  Alex Gordon, Kelvin Herrera, Luke Hochevar, Eric Hosmer, Ryan Madson, Kris Medlen, Raul Mondesi, Franklin Morales, Kendrys Morales, Mike Mousakis, Paulo Orlando, Alex Rios, Yordano Ventura, Edinson Volquez, Ben Zobrist  all played with The Heart of Champions.

KC Royals

So it comes down to this – Did Kansas City winning the World Series or American Pharoah winning the Triple Crown, stop the bombing in Syria, the carnage in Paris or the chaos in the Middle East? No, they did not. But sport is also  a metaphor for Life.

As that great wit and raconteur, the late and much-missed Yogi Berra said, it ain’t over til it’s over. Terrorism, genocide, refugee crisis’ – man’s inhumanity to man, will always be with us. Thankfully, the Kansas City Royals and American Pharoah continue to write their stories.  There will always be another pennant to chase, a baby champion to create  and an impossible race or game to win.

And there will always be a reason for Hope in The Better Angels of Our Nature.

 

Ashes to Ashes, Dust to Dust…

june-anne-annefrankch-frank.siIt is easier for a camel to pass through the eye of a needle, than to find a peaceful resolution to what is happening in Gaza today and the Israeli-Palestinian conflict overall. This much we know to be true.

Those who do not know or choose to ignore history, are doomed to repeat it. This much we also know to be true. Dearies, it is with a heavy heart that I write this post. It has taken many sleepless nights to shape the following thoughts.

When Atticus Finch tells daughter Scout, in Harper Lee’s To Kill a Mockingbird  “you never really understand a person until you consider things from his point of view, until you climb in his skin and walk around in it”, he was talking about racism, persecution and hatred. He also cut to the heart of the matter in the Middle East, and the rest of the World when it really comes down to it.

The emotional rhetoric from all sides inflames the horrific situation in Gaza and Israel and creates chaos, where calm, rational judgement and action are needed now more than ever.

The Balfour Declaration of 1917 was a letter from the UK Foreign Secretary to the Zionist Federation of Great Britain and Ireland. It was later approved at the 1926 Imperial Conference.

His Majesty’s government view with favour the establishment in Palestine of a national home for the Jewish people, and will use their best endeavours to facilitate the achievement of this object, it being clearly understood that nothing shall be done which may prejudice the civil and religious rights of existing non-Jewish communities in Palestine, or the rights and political status enjoyed by Jews in any other country.

The Balfour Declaration laid the foundation for the modern State of Israel, which gained its independence from Britain in 1948. The Declaration carved out the State of Israel, bordered by Egypt, Syria, Jordan and Lebanon

Imagine being a newly-birthed nation, surrounded by mortal enemies, who only seek your total obliteration from the face of the Earth, every minute of every day.

Imagine being a nation borne of the greatest Holocaust the world has known…the elimination of 6 million Jews in Nazi concentration camps during World War II.

Imagine being an Arab settler in the disputed areas of Palestine, at the time Israel’s birth. You have as much right to be there as the Israeli settlers do.

How is it then, that those who have know the very worst of persecution throughout history, go from being the persecuted, to becoming the persecutors? I believe that living in a virtual state of psychosis all of these years, has polarized the right in Israel.

220px-Begin,_Carter_and_Sadat_at_Camp_David_1978

Prime Minister Begin, President Carter, President Sadat -Camp David Accords

President Menachem Begin was once considered a terrorist by the British, as a member of the notorious Stern Gang, fighting for an independant State of Israel. President Anwar Sadat was part of the coup that overthrew King Farouk and brought Gammel Abdul Nasser to power as Egypt’s first President. Sadat succeeded him. These two polar opposites managed, with the help of President Carter, to negotiate the Camp David Accords and a 1979 Peace Treaty. Both Begin and Sadat were awarded the Nobel Prize.

In his Noble Prize acceptance speech, Sadat stated

 Let us put an end to wars, let us reshape life on the solid basis of equity and truth. And it is this call, which reflected the will of the Egyptian people, of the great majority of the Arab and Israeli peoples, and indeed of millions of men, women, and children around the world that you are today honoring. And these hundreds of millions will judge to what extent every responsible leader in the Middle East has responded to the hopes of mankind.

President Sadat was assassinated by fundamentalist army officers on 6 October 1981.

Prime Minister Rabin, President Clinton, Chairman Arafat – The Oslo Accords

In September 1991, on the lawn of the White House, President Clinton oversaw the signing of another Middle East Peace Accord, with Chairman Yasser Arafat of the PLO and Israeli Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin.

Prime Minister Rabin was assassinated by an Israeli ultra-nationalist terrorist on November 4, 1995, at a rally in support of the Oslo Accords.

The great warrior-peacemaker Moshe Dayan once said

If you want to make peace, you don’t talk to your friends, you talk to your enemies… Israel cannot afford to stand against the entire world and be denounced as the aggressor…Jewish villages were built in the place of Arab villages. You do not even know the names of these Arab villages, and I do not blame you because geography books no longer exist.

Mahmoud Abbas inherited the leadership of the Palestinian people upon Yasser Arafat’s death on November 11, 2004. He has had to tap-dance on the head of a pin, as Hamas and its masters have tried to undermine him at every turn, even as he considered making peace with Israel. They have succeeded.

I believe that religious extremist groups like Hamas have polarized the right in the Arab nations. Their message of hatred and destruction resonates strongly with the hopelessness and despair of young Arabs, and that is something that must not be ignored

Saudi Arabia, Dubai and other Middle East Countries abandoned the Palestinian people long ago.Instead of helping them build a socially and economically viable home, they have watched nervously from the sidelines. They pray that the hatred focused on Israel’s total obliteration does not eventually turn back on them.SHAME  ON THESE WEALTHY COWARDS!!

Iran of course, has set the cat amongst the pigeons in unleashing Hamas and other groups, not just in Gaza but Syria and elsewhere. It is quietly licking its chops in anticipation of further chaos.

Anne Frank

Yet who are we to cynically reject the optimism of the extraordinary young Anne Frank, who died in a Nazi concentration camp. She wrote in her famous diary

” It’s difficult in times like these: ideals, dreams and cherished hopes rise within us, only to be crushed by grim reality. It’s a wonder I haven’t abandoned all my ideals, they seem so absurd and impractical. Yet I cling to them because I still believe, in spite of everything, that people are truly good at heart. I simply can’t build my hopes on a foundation of confusion, misery, and death. I hear the approaching thunder that, one day, will destroy us too, I feel the suffering of millions. And yet, when I look up at the sky, I somehow feel that this cruelty too shall end, and that peace & tranquility will return once again.  “.

Ms. Frank  eloquently puts the situation in Gaza in perspective. Every dead child in Gaza and Israel adds to that perspective.

The many Arab and Israeli peacemakers such as those featured in Bridges Across An Impossible Divide: The Inner Lives of Arab and Jewish Peacemakersrefuse to be drawn into this continuous cycle of death, destruction and chaos. The book is by Rabbi Marc Gopin, a peacemaker in his own right. Seeking Peace does not demonstrate weakness. Just the opposite, it shows a courage,strength and wisdom beyond the use of guns, missiles and other weapons of mass destruction.

There is path to Peace – there must be. But it needs the willingness of Mr. Netanyahu, Mr. Abbas, the leaders of Hamas and all involved, to understand history and NOT REPEAT IT…