Posts Tagged ‘Hamas’

Letter From New York 02 28 15 Working to understand…

February 28, 2015

It is the last day of February and, as I sit at my desk, the sun is just beginning to set. The amount of daylight is about the same now as it was in October. There are sharp shadows on the ground; soft jazz plays in the background.

It’s been a busy day. Early morning rise to do emails, followed by a run to the Post Office for a week’s worth of mail, a trip to the local Farmer’s Market held indoors in the community hall of Christ Church down in Hudson, a little cleaning, grocery shopping, a stop at the Red Dot for a bite to eat, then home to write this blog.

It was a good day. In my email this morning was one that indicated my Indian Visa has been granted so I will have to gather all the things I need to pick it up on Monday. Next comes finding a plane ticket, giving me the most luxury for the least amount of money. I am working to use miles to upgrade myself on both legs of a very long flight.

Monday I am seeing my doctor to get all my shots.

The world is reeling today from the death yesterday of Boris Nemtsov, a leading opposition figure in Russia who was gunned down while walking across a bridge last night. Every opposition figure in Russia is more frightened than they were. Nemtsov’s mother spoke frequently that she was afraid for her son’s life, afraid that Putin would have him killed.

Thousands paid tribute to him today in a march.

Putin has denounced the murder and is “personally” taking charge of the investigation of the assassination. I wonder how that will go?

In Egypt a new, even more severe anti-terrorism law has been passed. Following that, the Egyptian courts have ruled that Hamas, the Palestinian organization, is a terrorist group, pushing them further into a corner.

Also in Africa, President Mugabe of Zimbabwe threw himself a lavish million-dollar birthday party at Victoria Falls to celebrate his 91st. Yes, 91st. He is the world’s oldest head of state. It doesn’t seem to bother him that his country is desperately impoverished. Let the good times roll! Elephants were slaughtered for the feast and there were seven huge birthday cakes.

In Iraq, 37 people have died in bombing attacks, in and north of Baghdad. IS is believed to be responsible. IS controls about a third of Iraq and a third of Syria, that territory making up their so-called Caliphate.

One of that “Caliphate’s” most famous individuals, Jihadi John, has the world attempting to figure out how a nice kid from London became Jihadi John. People who knew him then say they are stunned by who he has become. Debate rages in the UK as to whether that country was responsible for turning him from the nice kid next door to the gruesome face of IS.

In Tyrone, Missouri, locals and local police are attempting to understand what triggered 36-year-old Joseph Aldredge to shoot eight people, killing seven, before turning the gun on himself. Four of the dead were his cousins. Apparently he had a history of drugs and guns and may have become unnerved at the death of his mother from lung cancer. She was found dead in her kitchen after the shootings, possibly having been dead for as long as 24 hours.

Next week, Netanyahu, Prime Minister of Israel, will address Congress. The address, at the invitation of Speaker John Boehner, in addition to shattering protocol, has shattered the bipartisan show of support for Israel. Many Democrats will not show up for the speech. Several foreign ambassadors that have been invited have also declined. Two weeks after this speech Netanyahu faces a tough election back home.

The Administration has been accusing him of doing everything in his power to undermine the negotiations going on with Iran over their nuclear program.

It is a messy, dicey situation that will get worse before it gets better and it will be interesting to see if the Congressional speech helps or harms Netanyahu back home.

The sun is setting. I am getting ready to go to a neighbor’s for dinner. Tomorrow they are predicating more snow, which caused me to sigh audibly. This is the longest, coldest, snowiest winter I have remembered since being here.

Spring will come. I know it will.

Letter From New York August 19, 2014

August 19, 2014

Or, as it seems to me…

The sun continues to play hide and seek and it is still unseasonably cool in the Northeast; which makes for beautiful weather. I have called these days “Goldilocks” days, not too warm, not too cool, just right.  And today is one of those “Goldilocks” days.  Clear, sharp shadows splatter the gravel circle in front of the cottage.  It is only in the low 60’s with promises of greater warmth for the day.

I am sipping that incredibly important first coffee of the day after having just perused the headlines of the New York Times on my iPhone.  This is the last of the five consecutive days I have spent at the cottage, lost in the thrall of these “Goldilocks” days, able to feel detached from the world while surrounded by green comfort of the countryside.  While I have been here, events move on and I have viewed them dispassionately for the most part.

Yet, even cosseted in the country, I am not able to ignore events here and abroad.  They feel further away but that is emotional distance not real distance – real distance has been compressed to jet flight hours.  Yesterday a woman on her way to treatment for cancer fell sick in Dubai from what might have been Ebola.  The total death toll from that disease is now above 1200 and mounting with the day.  Those who have sickened but lived to tell the tale are treated with suspicion and fear when they return to their villages.

The fragile Gaza ceasefire seems to have been broken by rocket attacks on southern Israeli towns.  While the tension continues there, anti-semitism is rising in parts of Europe.  In France, Jews are leaving for other countries, many for Israel. In Germany, similar things are happening.  Since the war, a place where Jews have lived, for the most part in peace, there is a sense of shadows falling upon a population that once felt safe.  Hungary has been turning anti-semitic for some time now.  Generally tolerant Italy has seen businesses and synagogues defaced.  There are anti-semitic gatherings in the Netherlands.  Britain is on its way to recording its worst year of anti-semitic incidents in years.  Jews were blamed in Spain for the defeat of Soccer teams. A Belgian doctor refused to treat a Jew for a broken rib.  

Ancient hatreds rise to the surface, it seems, when events scratch away choreographed civility.  And it is shame that civility is choreographed.  Why can’t it be a part of the civil fabric?  Because we have not learned that the “outsider” is not the cause of our troubles?

In Ferguson, MO the National Guard was called out to maintain order.  31 were arrested; unrest continues, fueled by an apparently small number of agitators and outside disruptors.  The wounds of racism have not healed in Ferguson; apparently they were only papered over.  Michael Brown’s death ripped that away and fury erupted.  And it is likely that racism’s wounds still remain to be healed in much of this country.  We’ve come a long way but not as far as we could or should.  If we had, Ferguson might not have happened.



Letter From New York August 17, 2014

August 17, 2014

Or, as it seems to me…

The sun has been an inconsistent friend these last few days; mostly the days are grey with brief moments of satisfying sun pouring through the trees around the cottage.  

The cottage encourages contemplation.  While I have been here, I have not paid as much attention as I normally do to the world around me.  It has seemed distant, faraway, events of the week feel as if they are taking place on a distant planet. All here is calm, placid, the beat of ordinary life going on peacefully, tranquilly.  An evening passed with neighbors and while we acknowledged the world outside, most of our conversation was about our little world:  the circle where the cottage resides, the little town of Claverack and the big city of Hudson.  We talked of golfing days and high school reunions, of neighbors and local politics.  It was intensely rich.

But not so far away, things are happening, things that are deeply disturbing.  A handbook will be written on what not to do after a police shooting, based on what has happened in Ferguson, MO.  A tragic event spiraled into a chaotic melange of toxic negativity.  Photos showed what has happened with the militarization of police in America.  Awash after 9/11 with funds from the Department of Homeland Security, police departments across the country armed themselves to the teeth but for the most part the country didn’t see it – until Ferguson.  Police officers looking like combat troops stormed through the streets of the town, fueling the flames of rage by their presence.  A mishandled tragedy produced more violence and piled wrong upon wrong.

Protests became riots, protestors devolved into looters.  Patrolling police became riot squads.  Some calm returned when the Ferguson police were replaced by State Troopers.  Last night though, despite a curfew, seven were arrested and one shot, critically.  It will now take a long time for this to heal with hopes that all learn from this series of tragedies.

Tragedies.  Our world is full of tragedies.  In Africa the Boko Haram have now abducted about a hundred men and boys, demonstrating their abilities to cross great swaths of Nigeria with impunity, unhindered by the military.  In neighboring Liberia, the Ebola dead are being abandoned where they lie.  Liberia, Sierra Leone and Guinea are vastly under resourced to cope with the ravages of the disease and it looks to be months before the outbreak is contained.  

Spin the globe and arrive in the cradle of civilization.  American airstrikes have broken the siege of Mount Sinjar, letting the religious minorities there to flee into Kurdish territory or to parts of Iraq not gobbled up by ISIS.  The Kurds will likely get Western Arms to fight ISIS, who have been successfully using the materiel left behind by fleeing Iraqi soldiers.  

Arms and death seem to be how resolutions are being reached.  A fragile cease fire exists this moment between Hamas and Israel, with peace talks ongoing in Cairo.  One set of proposals has already been shot down by Hamas.

It seems difficult to find hope and happiness in all this malaise.

But yesterday, as I was driving, I heard a TED Talk on NPR.  The speaker was saying we humans are hard wired for happiness, that we find ways, despite all, to find happiness in our lives. 

If only we were hard wired for peace.