Posts Tagged ‘Israel’

Letter From New York 10 16 15 Kardashians, Refugees, Turkey and a night out..

October 16, 2015

Lamar Odom. Khloe Kardashian. Israel. Palestine. Israeli knifings. Turkey. European Union. Refugees. Erdogan.

It is unbelievable to me that we have rounded into the second half of October in the year 2015. Stunning, the way time has been slipping through my fingers.

The last three days have been a battle with paperwork and machines. I had some complicated documents to complete and must have printed page two of the forms four times before I filled them, hopefully, correctly. They got sent off today by UPS and will arrive on Tuesday.

My Internet connection fluttered, my printer won’t print wirelessly and I have done everything in my power to get it back online, to no avail. Time to call in the experts.

Because of all of this, I am behind on a report for a client. ARGH! But all will be well, I’m sure.

All may be well for Lamar Odom, who apparently regained consciousness and is breathing on his own after losing consciousness while on a spree that reportedly included alcohol, cocaine and herbal sex stimulants. He was at a legal brothel in Nevada.

Soon to be ex-wife, Khloe Kardashian, is at his side. Do I see a reconciliation coming for the cameras? Pardon me if I am cynical.

All is not well in Israel, where Palestinians are killing Jews in knifings while the Israelis are killing Palestinians who attack them. Hamas has praised the men killed by Israel as martyrs. And that sad beat goes on; defying efforts to have any kind of peace break out.

It came to me that this violence has been a constant backdrop of my entire life.

Turkey and the EU are bickering over an aid deal to help Turkey with the refugee crisis, a deal that the Turks have called “insincere.” In the mix are suggestions from the EU that they will start accession talks with Turkey again about admission to the EU. Turkey’s Erdogan is skeptical.

In the meantime, it’s estimated 5,000 refugees slip out of Turkey and into Europe every day, not counting all the others that are striving for Europe from all across the eastern and southern Mediterranean.

Like last night, I set up a fire in the wood stove. I just got up and checked it and realized that absorbing the day’s news had made me feel physically tired. It causes me to sit down sometimes and put my head in my hands. It is no surprise that for a day or two, I might ignore the world outside my little glen.

We are all like that, I’m sure.

In the meantime, I must get ready. In twenty minutes, I am headed to the Dot to meet a friend for dinner.

Letter From New York 08 02 15 Striving toward the light…

August 2, 2015

It is a little after five and I am, once more, sitting on the deck. It has been another perfect day in Claverack; the day dawned gloriously. I sat on the deck reading and having coffee before showering and heading down to church. The air was pristine and the creek a mirror, just like it is now.

From far away, I can hear an occasional truck on 23, a road to the north of the cottage. It has to be exceptionally still for me to hear one. There are birds singing and a few insects buzzing.

The entire scene is so serene; I can’t believe sometimes I am living it. Year round, I am endlessly fascinated by the changes in nature that unfold before my eyes. The sun is warm on my back but not so warm as to be uncomfortable. There is almost a suggestion in the air that a light jacket would not be unreasonable this evening.

In a little while, I’ll be heading into Hudson to meet my friend, Jeremiah, and to go to dinner. It feels like a Sunday for a trip to Hudson for dinner.

Jericho, brother to the slain Cecil the Lion, was himself rumored dead but he has been now reported alive and safe. Walter Palmer, the man who hunted and killed Cecil, has apparently, through a representative, reached out the U.S. Fish and Wildlife law enforcement officials who want to have a conversation with him. A petition regarding Palmer to has garnered over 200,000 signatures. The result will be some sort of White House response. The Executive Branch, as I understand it, has to give a response to any petition with over one hundred thousand signatures. This is twice that.

Zimbabwe wants Palmer extradited to face charges there. I am sure he will not want to go.

Shira Banki, a sixteen-year-old Israeli girl, has died from knife wounds inflicted when she was marching in a Gay Pride Parade in Jerusalem, allegedly carried out by an extremist Orthodox Jew who had recently gotten out of jail after serving ten years for having performed a similar attack years ago.

Her death and that of an eighteen-month-old little Palestinian boy in an arson attack, also by suspected Jewish terrorists, has resulted in thousands of Israelis participating in peace marches. President Rivlin of Israel has asked that the attacks “be a wake up call” for all Israelis.

It has resulted in widespread outrage in the country though the backlash against Rivlin on Facebook and other social media outlets has his security forces asking for help from the Israeli police.

In 1995, Prime Minister Rabin of Israel was assassinated as he was departing a peace rally.

All that hate and anger seem so far away as I sit on my deck, smiling at the beauty of the creek.

But it’s everywhere.

Turkish soldiers killed by Kurds, Syrians killing Syrians, IS just being IS…

My friends, Alana and Patrick, sitting on the deck with me yesterday, talked with me about how unfathomable the horrors are that men will wrack on other humans. But we do.

And we do march against the darkness, as Israelis have been doing, in the thousands. I truly believe we strive for the light though the dark souls of some would drag us down.

Letter From New York 03 03 15 An interesting day, all in all…

March 3, 2015

Yesterday, I made the round trip to the city and back so I woke up at the Cottage again this morning where the temperature was nine degrees with a wind chill of zero. Starting about now, the weather will deteriorate and there will be snow, wind, sleet, the full panoply of winter delights. It is not supposed to be much better in the city but at least I won’t be trying to get here.

I have a few appointments this week, including picking up my Indian visa this afternoon after successfully [!] booking the flights I wanted to and from Delhi. Yesterday they were unavailable and today they were! I will leave New York on the 22nd and return on the 5th of April. My speech at the Indian Institute of Technology, Roorkee, will be on the 29th. Before and after, I will spend some time with friends in Delhi and perhaps travel to Goa.

While going about my business this morning, my phone went off with alerts about Israel’s Netanyahu’s speech before Congress. He warned us not to make a “bad deal” with Iran, that they couldn’t be trusted. From reports I have read, it was an eloquent speech and may have been the most important in his life. Netanyahu is facing a tough election back at home and this certainly could give him a boost.

Or it might all backfire.

Certainly there has never been a time when Israel’s relations with the US were so fraught. Netanyahu’s opponent has been making points at home by indicating that Netanyahu’s tweaking his nose at President Obama is causing trouble.

The political exegesis of today will go on for days and will be great to watch.

While Netanyahu was addressing Congress, President Obama was on a video call with Hollande of France, Merkel of Germany, and Prime Minister Cameron of the UK to discuss the crisis in Ukraine.

General Petraeus, once a military legend in his lifetime, resigned in shame from the CIA in 2012 after the revelation of an extramarital affair with his biographer. He also shared some classified information with her. Today, he pled guilty to a misdemeanor charge, agreed to pay a $40,000 fine and will escape jail time.

It was also revealed today that Hillary Clinton used a private email address as opposed to a State Department email while Secretary of State and may have broken rules in doing so. I am sure this will fuel the fire at Fox News. The Washington Post has declared that she is her own worst enemy. Perhaps that is true of both Hillary and Bill Clinton.

In just three days, the Department of Homeland Security once again faces the possibility of being out of money. However, it appears that Boehner will allow a “clean” bill [without anything about Obama’s Executive Order on immigration in it] to reach the House floor. The Tea Party wing is enraged but the bill has a good chance of passing.

At this moment, 2:33 PM, oil is trading higher and the market lower. Clashes in Libya are spooking the oil market while the markets are pulling back from yesterday’s NASDAQ high.

The Supreme Court tomorrow will look at four words in the Affordable Health Care Act. Their interpretation of the meaning may gut Obamacare by making it unconstitutional for the Federal Government to offer subsidies to the poor for health care. The Court may determine that only States are able to offer subsidies. If that is way the ball rolls up to seven million Americans in as many as 37 states will lose their health care subsidies.

Andrew Lack guided NBC News in the halcyon days when both The Nightly News and Today rose to new heights. He brought in Brian Williams to groom him to replace Tom Brokaw. Apparently, he is being wooed to return to NBC News to help them straighten out the mess they’ve fallen into, at least that’s the rumor around Mediaville.

Today has been light on global reports. What’s been happening here in the US has been fascinating, what with “Bibi” Netanyahu stirring the pot in Washington and Hillary having found herself with another “situation,” the Supreme Court about to make what might be its most momentous decision as well as General Petraeus’ foibles.

An interesting day, all in all.

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.

Letter From New York, September 25, 2010

September 25, 2010

@font-face { font-family: “Cambria”; }p.MsoNormal, li.MsoNormal, div.MsoNormal { margin: 0in 0in 10pt; font-size: 12pt; font-family: “Times New Roman”; }div.Section1 { page: Section1; }

Letter From New York

September 23, 2010

Or, as it seems to me…

Fall is in the air; the leaves have begun changing on the trees that overhang my creek and litter my land.  Soon they will begin to fall and will literally litter my drive, unattended they are daunting and so weekends will begin to be devoted to clearing them away.  I both love and hate the fall.  I embrace the brisk wind and the wild tension between the encroaching winter and the summer that wants to linger, a autumnal ballet of seasonal forces, a lovely, painful dance as the world sinks into winter.

As that dance progresses, the world has been watching the tiny island of Manhattan for two events that occurred there, one following the other.  The first was glamorous – the all important, celebrity studded Fashion Week; the rich, the beautiful, the fashionistas, the models, the mavens all squirreled in and through the tents at Lincoln Center, all sponsored by Mercedes Benz.  The city could barely sustain the excitement of all this elegance, luxury and excitement; every morning the city woke to yet another display of fashion fabulousity.

The second event was the General Session of the United Nations.  World leaders gathered; Obama addressed the General Assembly, hoping to elicit the support of others in the world to buoy up the Mid-East Peace Process.  Every leader comes with an agenda, a shift they would like to see the world take in the way it sees their efforts on the world stage.  Thursday, President Ahmadinejad of Iran, took the podium and used his time to decry the United Nations, the United States, capitalism, Zionists, laud the wonders of nuclear power and declare that the majority of Americans think that 9/11 was orchestrated by the U.S. government.

Delegates from many nations walked out on him.  It was, as the United States spokesperson said:  predictable.  Ahmadinejad has used his annual trips to the UN General Assembly to further distance himself and his country from the rest of the world.  The scariest part of this scenario is that this man runs a country with an army, a pretty big army that has been testing missiles that seem to go farther each time they test them.  The saddest part of all of this is that the Presidency of Iran held by someone more rational could wield a huge influence for good in that desperate part of the world.  Iran is using its influence to stir up anti-Israel feelings all over the world and plays its hand on the world stage with a fistful of wild cards.  No wonder he makes the West crazy.  He hates the West.  Likes our toys, like nuclear power, but doesn’t like what we stand for…

Also in that part of the world is poor Pakistan, ravaged by floods, [have you donated anything to help Pakistan?] being torn apart by religious and political strife, the secular being clawed at by religious fundamentalists with a virtual civil war going on in the north west.  And, oh yes, they have a stockpile of nuclear weapons and they rattle that saber once in awhile.

When I think about these things, I feel great disquiet.  No wonder the fabulousity of Fashion Week is so attractive to so many – it diverts us from the fearsome realities that are just across town as the UN General Session met with frightening men like Ahmadinejad standing up there with all the other world leaders, completely free to rant against the organization hosting him and reminding us that he is running a country that is quite capable of the worst kind of mischief.

There is another Iran, the one that doesn’t want him and who marched in the streets in the spring but we saw what happened to them.  Who will ever forget the pictures of the young girl bleeding to death on the street, an event twittered around the globe.

It is fall, the season that precedes the long winter, a time when the mind roams to all the things that could go bump in the night.  And right now I hear a bump.