Tag Archives: Middle East

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Ike’s Gamble: America’s Rise to Dominance in the Middle East

By Michael Doran, (2016, Simon & Schuster, 292 Pages)

Reviewed by Steven R. Maher

This writer has reviewed several biographies of Dwight Eisenhower. Historians rate Eisenhower as one of America’s greater Presidents. Eisenhower balanced the budget (“better dead than in the red”), ended the Korean War, did not overreact to the Soviet Sputnik launch into outer space, and refused repeated requests from the Joint Chiefs of Staff to launch pre-emptive strikes against Red China.

It is against this backdrop of presidential success that one should read “Ike’s Gamble: America’s Rise to Dominance in the Middle East” with a considerable grain of salt. Author Michael Doran is a neocon. He was a Director of the National Security Council during the Presidency of George W. Bush. He was an assistant to Elliott Abrams. Abrams was pardoned by the first President Bush for withholding information from Congress in the Iran-Contra scandal.

In a February 2003 article in the highly prestigious Foreign Relations Magazine, Doran endorsed the invasion of Iraq which took place one month later, stating: “If an American road to a calmer situation in Palestine does in fact exist, it runs through Baghdad.” “Calm” is not an adjective used often to describe Palestine after the U.S. invasion of Iraq.

It does mention in Ike’s Gamble’s biographical section, on the back flap, that Doran “has served as a Middle Eastern adviser in the White House and as a deputy secretary of defense.” It does not mention that this was during the Bush 43rd Presidency. The book is totally silent on Doran’s connection to Bush.

The reviewer starting researching Doran’s background after finishing the book becomes deeply suspicious of what he had read. Doran’s approach reminds one of Dick Cheney’s cherry picking of evidence on Iraq’s nuclear weapons to justify the Iraq invasion. Doran had slim proof to back up some of his assertions, used highly questionable sources, and stated a version of events extremely different from the generally accepted story. The impression one gets is that Doran knew his association with George W. Bush would discredit this book in the minds of many readers.

Neocon hero

The book opens with Winston Churchill meeting Eisenhower after Ike was elected President in November 1952. This is significant: in the neocon world Churchill is an icon. George W. Bush kept a bust of Churchill in the oval office throughout much of his Presidency.

The British Empire was nearing bankruptcy because of World War II. It didn’t have the money to maintain its far-flung empire. Doran gives the impression the world would be a better place if Eisenhower had agreed to fund Britain’s empire. That would have made sense to the dyed in the wool imperialists, bankers and businessmen in London but was opposed by British subjects in Africa or Asia who wanted their independence.

Doran conveys this through “the James Bond” analogy of American bankrolling the British through international institutions while Britain maintains its empire. He cites the first novel in the James Bond franchise, Casino Royale, where Bond loses all his money at a game of baccarat with a Soviet agent. The day is saved by American agent Felix Leiter, who gives Bond a wad of cash and a note reading: “Marshall Aid. Thirty-two million francs. With the Compliments of the USA.” Doran notes, “Resuscitated with American funds, Bond continues to play, and of course,” trounced the Soviet agent. Leiter is the role Doran wishes the U.S. had played throughout the 1956 crisis. He morosely noted: “Eisenhower was no Felix Leiter.”

1956 Suez Crisis

In 1956 Nasser negotiated the British to withdraw their 80,000-man garrison from along the Suez Canal. Nasser’s military was not strong enough to drive them out. After the British withdrew, Nasser nationalized the canal. Enraged, the British and French persuaded the Israelis to enact a farce: Israel would attack the Egyptians in the Sinai and then the British and French, playing the role of unknowing innocents, would seize the canal on the pretext they were separating the warring countries.

In October 1956, the Israelis attacked and quickly overran much of the Sinai.
Eisenhower believed that if the United States were to support Britain and France in their gunboat diplomacy, the U.S. would become identified with western colonialism in developing countries. He also thought that if the U.S sided with Egypt in his crisis, the U.S. would be accepted as an honest broker to resolve the Arab-Israeli conflict.

Ike forced the British, French and Israeli forces to withdraw from the territories occupied during a brief war with Egypt. Doran portrays Eisenhower as a naïve President with a simplistic viewpoint of the Middle East. Doran asserts Eisenhower’s poor judgments collapsed American’s position in the Middle East in favor of Nasser. This wasn’t exactly the case. The Israelis seized the Sinai in the 1967 war and Nasser died three years later without achieving his dream of being President of a unified Arab super-state. Anwar Sadat later negotiated the return of the Sinai after the Yom Kippur war.

Sources

There is a controversy over whether Eisenhower came to regret his actions in the 1956 Suez crisis. He had few sources to substantiate this assertion. Incredibly, one of these sources was Richard M. Nixon. Doran preferred to believe Nixon over Stephen Ambrose, an award-winning Presidential biographer.

Ambrose hadn’t resigned the Presidency after being accused of high crimes and misdemeanors, but Doran found him less credible than Tricky Dick. That should tell the reader all they need to know about this book.

Steve parked 🚙 in Rose’s space … InCity Times Book Review

Trouble in the Tribe: The American Jewish Conflict over Israel

By Dov Waxman, (2016, Princeton University Press, 316 Pages)

Reviewed by Steven R. Maher

If you’re looking for a well sourced, even handed account of the split among American Jews over the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, “Trouble in the Tribe: The American Jewish Conflict Over Israel” may be for you. But if you stumbled across it in the “New Books” section of your local library and decided to read it because of a general interest in the Middle East, you may be bored.

This is due to Waxman’s effort to present each side in a neutral, objective style. He has compiled an enormous amount of material and stuffed it into a small amount of space but did so in a bifurcated manner that makes getting the full story more difficult. This is unfortunate because with a crisper, punchier writing style, this could have been a much more compelling story – and a goldmine of information for historians.

First, a few stats. “Trouble in the Tribe” is 316 pages in total, of which 215 pages is the body of the book. There are 72 pages of end notes and 16 pages in the bibliography. There were 563 end notes; chapter 2 alone had 164 end notes. The documentation of the author’s sources was so thorough that their page length was equivalent to 40% of the corpus of the book itself.

This is not a bad thing. Serious historians should cite appropriately to sources. But the author appears to have dumped a great deal of specific information into endnotes, which should have been better served in the main text, or attached as footnotes on the pages where they are cited.

A good example was the author stating that Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu tried to mobilize American Jews against the July 2015 Iran nuclear deal “although initial polling showed that most Jews actually supported it.”

If you go to the end note cited as the source, it reads: “The most reliable survey of American Jewish public opinion regarding the Iranian nuclear deal, conducted on behalf of the Los Angeles Jewish Journal shortly after the agreement was announced, found that American Jews supported the deal 49 percent to 31 percent (more than Americans in general) and that 54 percent of American Jews wanted Congress to approve the deal, compared with 35 percent who opposed Congressional approval.”

To get to this information, you had to turn ahead more than 200 pages and read the end note itself! Doing this every time a vague comment is end noted is too time consuming for the average reader.

Six-Day War

Waxman did bring up some interesting points about American Jews’ less than enthusiastic support for establishing the state of Israel. After Israel declared its independence in 1947, American Jews’ interest in the nascent state waned.

In 1967 Israel’s existence was threatened by Egyptian President Gamal Abdul Nasser, who talked of wiping Israel off the map. This was traumatic for American Jews, who had spent much of the prior two decades learning details about the Holocaust.

There was a prolonged period of agony as Israel sought to resolve the crisis diplomatically. Unable to do so, Israel struck preemptively and achieved what Leon Uris called the greatest Jewish military victory in 6,000 years. In six days, they captured the Sinai, the West Bank and the Golan Heights. It was an astounding military achievement.

From 1967 to 1977 was the golden era between American Jews and Israel. At the time, Israel was run by a socialist government, was an extremely progressive society, and was applauded and supported almost unanimously by American Jews.

This changed in 1977 when Menachem Begin and his Likud party were elected. Begin, was a militant, messianic figure who was called a terrorist in the pre-state days after his followers bombed the King David hotel, killing 94 British soldiers. Begin began the mass building of Jewish settlements in the West Bank. This led eventually to 650,000 Jews (the same population as the entire state of Israel when it became independent in 1947), living on land formerly owned by Palestinians or the Kingdom of Jordan.

It also led to an emotional conflict between the Israeli government and many American Jews, which Waxman describes at length.

It is doubtful an Israeli government will emerge with the political gravitas or skills to relocate these 650,000 Jews into the pre-1967 Israeli borders. The last Israeli Prime Minister who was in such a position, Yitzhak Rabin, was assassinated by a Jewish right-wing extremist.

Palestinian birth rates are far higher than Israeli birth rates. Soon Palestinians will be the majority in Israel and the occupied territories. Unless a Palestinian state is created, Israelis will be confronted with the choice of suppressing the democratic rights of a majority of its citizens – or adhering to their democratic principles and allowing a Palestinian majority to vote themselves into control of the state of Israel.

Steve parked in YY …Turkey faces blowback from allowing infiltration to Syria

By Steven R. Maher

There is a famous saying: “The enemy of my enemy is my friend.” Like Syria earlier this decade, Turkey is finding out the hard way that the enemy of their enemy can quickly turn into their enemy.

The United States invaded Iraq in 2003. Shortly thereafter, foreign fighters began to flood the country.

“Senior Iraqi intelligence officers believe an Islamic militant group which has claimed responsibility for two suicide bombings in Irbil and a spate of deadly attacks in Baghdad, Falluja and Mosul is receiving significant help from Syria and Iran,” the Guardian, a respected British newspaper, reported on February 19, 2004. The Guardian recounted that Iraqi insurgents were “given shelter by Syrian and Iranian security agencies and have been able to enter Iraq with ease” and were “suspected of training suicide bombers and deploying them against US forces in Iraq and Iraqis considered to be collaborating with the US-led authorities.”

Jihadist Highway

At the time, Syrian President Bashir al-Assad was backing the Iraqi insurgents to drive the United States out of the Middle East. When the Arab spring unfolded in 2011, the Jihadists began using Turkey as an infiltration route to unseat Assad. Their efforts were made easier by the knowledge – and the networks set up – to use Syria to infiltrate Iraq.

Turkey’s Prime Minister wanted to see Assad toppled. As the Wall Street Journal reported on September 4, 2014, Turkey allowed the setting up of a “jihadist highway” that “let foreign militants slip across its border into Syria.” ISIS terrorists were allowed to use Turkey’s territory to rest, recuperate, and launch attacks against Syrian forces.

The chickens came to roost with this week’s bloody suicide bombing on Turkey’s main airport, the same airport used by foreign Jihadists to enter Turkey on their way to fight in Syria.

Lesson learned

One lesson to be learned from this is the danger of “blowback.” This was a term America became familiar with after 9/11, when it was used to describe the U.S. supplying arms to Afghans fighting the Soviet Union, who then created Al-Qaeda to war against the U.S. The Syrians saw their country destroyed by the blowback of their government’s support of terrorists to attack U.S. forces in Syria, and Turkey is now facing a very bloody blowback from their government’s decision to set up the “Jihadist highway.”

Another lesson to be learned is that the United States cannot put boots on the ground in the Middle East and engage in direct combat with ISIS.

That will only inflame the Middle East further, unite warring Jihadist factions against the U.S., and motivate some of America’s enemies to befriend each other. The U.S. should stick to its current strategy of using Special Forces, drones and air power to degrade ISIS.

Worcester County’s Veterans …

Maurice Costello.JPG

Image from The National Veterans Art Museum. The National Veterans Art Museum inspires greater understanding of the real impact of war with a focus on Vietnam. The museum collects, preserves and exhibits art inspired by combat and created by veterans.

To learn more, click on the link below:

http://www.nvam.org/ 

… Homeless, but not Hopeless

By Maria Jannace

With the rate of U.S. homeless veterans doubling in the last five years,
organizations like Veteran Homestead are working hard to help achieve the “zero homeless veterans by 2015” goal.

Picture it. The year is 2015. Though the scars of wars from as far back as 50 years ago still grip the minds and bodies of hundreds of thousands of American veterans, there is some comfort in knowing that at least they all have a place they can call home.

Picture it. The year is 2012. More than 200,000 brave men and women who fought for your freedom are without homes. More than 400,000 veterans will experience homelessness at some time during the course of this year. It is stunning to know that veterans make up nearly a quarter of this nation’s entire homeless population.

A noble goal by the Department of Veterans Affairs is to end veteran homelessness by 2015. The crystal ball is a bit fuzzy, but given the critical nature of today’s statistics, nothing short of a miracle will bring the number of homeless vets down to a mere zero in the less than three short years ahead. The United States government is taking action and in July of this year, the U. S. Senate unanimously passed H.R. 1627, a bill that addresses several areas of concern for veterans, including health care, housing, education, and benefits. Thankfully, there are organizations founded and funded by private citizens that are also leading the charge to end homelessness among American veterans. One such organization is Veteran Homestead headquartered in Fitchburg, Massachusetts.

Veteran Homestead founder and CEO Leslie Lightfoot served in the Army as a medic from 1967-1970. She spent two years at Landstuhl Regional Medical Center in Germany during the Vietnam War, witnessing – on a daily basis – injuries and deaths unimaginable by civilians. Her experience led her to become a Board Certified Expert in Traumatic Stress and she holds two Psychology degrees from Fitchburg State University. She has been serving the needs of the veteran community ever since she left the Army in 1970. In 1993, Lightfoot founded Veteran Homestead that now has six facilities throughout New England and Puerto Rico. It is a crushing task that faces Lightfoot and her accomplished team each day, but progress is being made.

“Almost half of all homeless veterans in America fought in Vietnam,” Lightfoot said. “But there are as many as 20,000 vets who have returned from Iraq and Afghanistan and have become homeless in the past five years, including women veterans with children.”
Women are the fastest growing segment of veteran homelessness.

“Our military men and women who come back from war with traumatic brain injury and Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) are truly the ‘walking wounded,’” Lightfoot said. “They may not be missing an arm or a leg, but many are damaged deeply.”
The mission of Veteran Homestead is to minimize and even reverse that damage by providing medical, psychological, and spiritual care. For people like Adam Morse, Veteran Homestead has become a lifeline.

Morse was still in high school when he joined the National Guard, never expecting to see battle. Fate intervened, and Morse returned from battle emotionally scarred by the weight of his experience that led him to alcohol and drugs – a not unusual plight for homeless veterans. Morse has been sober for a year now, and he truly believes that Veteran Homestead saved his life and saved his family.

Andrew Rosacker had been a member of an elite Marine Corps anti-terrorist security team but was working with a civilian contractor for the State Department when he served in Iraq. Entering the city of Fallujah, he spotted a car speeding toward his vehicle. The car refused to stop. Rosacker opened fire. The vehicle stopped. The driver looked up at Rosacker. Smiled. Then pushed the button.

The explosion threw Rosacker from his vehicle causing traumatic brain injury. Then he was shot in the stomach and declared dead. After he was revived, he returned home and was diagnosed with PTSD and depression. He subsequently suffered a stroke that left his left side paralyzed. Sometimes his depression got so bad he would just turn off the lights and sit in the corner of a room and cry. Imagining a 6-foot-1 tough marine (and former Seal team member) crying alone is heartbreaking. But Rosacker, and many others, are making steady inroads into recovery at Veteran Homestead facilities including the recently opened Northeast Veteran Training and Rehabilitation Center (NVTRC) on 10 acres of land given by Mount Wachusett Community College in Gardner.
The NVTRC, the only facility of its kind in the United States, sits on ten acres with twenty 2-bedroom homes, an indoor swimming pool, weight/exercise room, gymnasium, and other amenities designed to prepare residents for a life in which their disabilities will be less of a burden.

“The loss of a limb, a disfiguring burn, a traumatic brain injury, or an emotional scar due to post-traumatic stress are all life changing events that affect both the veteran and his family,” Lightfoot said. “The idea of not being a whole person or having your loved ones perceive you as someone much different than you were can leave emotional and psychological scars that dwarf the physical.”

NVTRC’s focus is on education (offering college courses in a partnership with Mount Wachusett Community College) and physical, occupational, and emotional therapy with an emphasis on family counseling along with the life and recreational skills that are so often taken for granted. The two-bedroom homes at the Center enable wounded warriors to practice daily living skills and provide privacy for both the veteran and his or her family. There is a therapy-dog training program there as well. Veteran Homestead endeavors to replicate the NVTRC facility model all across the United States.

Veteran Homestead is working to secure grants, but much of their support comes from private citizens and corporations that understand the importance of helping veterans revive their pride and become productive citizens. Unlike many charitable organizations, at Veteran Homestead, 90% of all funds go directly to programs that benefit the veterans. Only 10% is used to cover administrative support. And at all Veteran Homestead facilities, compassion is key. Beginning with Lightfoot herself and permeating throughout the staff at all six locations is a pervasive sense that “there but for the grace of God, go I.” Many on staff are veterans themselves.

They have lived the lives of their clients. They have been in the trenches and understand the gap in which veterans sometimes fall. Sometimes, it’s more than a gap – it’s a chasm. Lightfoot’s children – as she herself was – are exposed to the ordeals that can beset a body and mind with PTSD. Lightfoot’s Army daughter is a veteran of Kosovo, Iraq, and Afghanistan. Her Air Force daughter is a veteran of Desert Storm and Iraq and has been in and out of Afghanistan. Lightfoot’s National Guard Son is a veteran of Afghanistan.

“Every soldier is someone’s child,” Lightfoot said. “We never forget that, and whether they are 22 or 62, these veterans have earned and deserve the utmost help and hope and a life of dignity. It is our deepest desire that by giving them a home – whether short or long term – and helping the healing process, these American heroes can accomplish the dreams they set forth before the cruel arms of war assaulted their lives.”
Dignity is at the center of daily life at Veteran Hospice Homestead in Fitchburg, a residential facility dedicated to veterans living with life threatening illness and the only privately run, veteran-specific hospice in the country. Hospice specialists provide innovative transitional housing programs for homeless veterans who are diagnosed with terminal illness and are no longer able to care for themselves.

Hero Homestead in Leominster is a facility designed for elderly veterans. Residents are encouraged to help each other and attend to as many of their own needs as possible.
Also in Leominster, Veteran Homestead operates Armistice Homestead in a beautiful neighborhood where veterans with a progressive outlook enjoy innovative programs that enhance camaraderie and accomplishment.

Ever looking to create environments that help veterans immerse themselves fully into quality living, Veteran Homestead developed The Victory Farm in New Hampshire, the first of its kind in the United States. It’s an 80-acre working organic vegetable farm that offers a lifestyle change to homeless veterans who have not been successful transitioning from residential treatment programs to independent or transitional housing. Veterans are responsible for the feeding and caring of dozens of animals and tend crops as well.

In Puerto Rico, Veteran Homestead’s large residential home – and the only such facility in this U.S. territory – is located in beautiful Caguas. The focus of Hacienda de Veteranos is restoring a sense of self-worth with therapy sessions provided by the Veterans Administration and in-house case managers.

With the rate of U.S. homeless veterans doubling in the last five years, organizations like Veteran Homestead are working hard to help achieve the “zero homeless veterans by 2015” goal. Lightfoot says she will continue to grow her nonprofit organization for “as long as it takes.” In January, Governor Patrick Murray announced that the state of Massachusetts had achieved a 21% decline in veteran homelessness from a year ago. Perhaps Massachusetts can lead the way in eliminating homelessness among our nation’s walking wounded. Perhaps Veteran Homestead can replicate its programs in other states so that they, too, can give help and hope to their citizens who have fallen into the chasm of homelessness after serving their country. Perhaps there is a future where heroes like former U. S. Navy Seal Andrew Rosacker never need to utter the words, “Sometimes I just cry.”

War on Women

By Mary Bennett

There are only a few places in the world where women have some semblance of equality. The U.S. is one of them, thanks to the brave work of feminist scholars and researchers who helped bring about this seismic shift in our cultural understanding of what it means to be a man or a woman. Moving toward more egalitarian relationships hasn’t been an easy transformation, but the gains made have greatly enhanced the well being of American families and institutions and it has also given hope to others in the world struggling for equality.

The so-called “war on women” playing out in the media has served to heighten awareness of potential threats to women’s rights. Powerful coalitions between religious conservative groups, including Catholics, with the blessing of the Vatican, are working together over issues relating to sexuality in particular. Adding to the concern is the recent attacks on women religious in the U.S. who have been ordered to reform their statutes, programs and affiliations and conform to “the teachings and discipline of the Church.” However, before you dismiss this matter as a Catholic problem with little consequence for the rest of us, please consider that the Catholic Church has worldwide influence over the lives of women throughout the world and many of them are depending on that influence to hopefully bring some semblance of equality into their lives too!

And, what are these statutes, programs and affiliations these women religious have engaged in that have given rise to so much criticism? They are programs supporting impoverished Americans, antiwar efforts, social justice issues including abolishing the death penalty, health care for all people, etc., and, according to the Vatican, not enough on abortion, contraception and gay marriage. And, heaven forbid, some of their affiliations were in support of the ordination of women! Now that will get you in trouble with Rome!

What women religious have done is really quite extraordinary for they moved way beyond outdated patriarchal constraints, and transformed themselves into models of egalitarian non-hierarchal communities. And unlike their brothers in Rome they have applied what Vatican II encouraged 50 years ago, more collegiality and a decentralization of power.

Perhaps Rome has demonstrated something here that is worth noting, because the way in which they stepped in without regard for the sensibilities or accomplishments of these women, with such remarkable disregard for their feelings and needs, serves as a chilling example of patriarchal thinking and entitlement and how it leads to abuse.

Although the Catholic Church has never been a democratic institution, the recommendations of Vatican II for greater collegiality and shared decision-making were an invitation to at least “open the window” in that direction. It is not surprising that Rome would have problems with the idea of shared decision-making and shut the window. Believing in their own superiority, most men in the world have done the same. One of the problems with power is that it is so hard to let go of. This is the same type of resistance that occurred in so many families throughout the U.S.

Growing up in Worcester in an Italian American family, I recall my father struggling with this shift in thinking that questioned his authority as head of the family as he insisted that he had to be in charge because he reasoned someone has to make the final decision. To his credit when his three daughters questioned this logic with hands on hips insisting on shared decision making between he and our mother, he changed.

Whether you are for or against abortion, contraception or gay marriage – we need to ask why conservative religious groups place so much emphasis on matters of sexuality? Abortion and gay marriage in particular have rallied so many conservatives. Yes, these issues are part of what they believe to be true. The question is, why isn’t there the same fervor and concern for issues related to nonviolence? Jesus was all about nonviolence. Love of neighbor. Sell all you have and give it to the poor. You would think war making, economic injustice, corporate greed, climate change and its catastrophic consequences, to name a few, would get the attention of conservative religious institutions. Perhaps the focus on sexuality and “traditional family values” may have more to do with a longing to return to the past, where male dominance was the rule?

Nonviolence and equality go hand in hand. What happens to women when cultural, familial and religious values do not promote equality? Women suffer. Some of the horrors include acid in her face, beatings, coercion, and female circumcision. She can’t drive, she can’t go out, and she can’t speak. You know this list.

Inequality also harms women’s psyche. As a young woman coming out of the Worcester public school system in 66 career options were very limited for women and there were constant reminders of my inferior status. A few examples include my guidance counselor who said, “You don’t need math because you are a girl.” Getting a job meant I had to endure the humiliation of being asked if I intended to get married and if I did would I use the pill. At home it was clear that my father was in charge (it was a slow transformation for all of us) and at church a male hierarchy would not allow women to come near the altar. In so many ways, like so many women I put myself last and believed I was less. It is shocking to remember how much I believed these cultural messages. 46 years later, it is shocking to note that most women in the world probably still do.

However, the real problem IS NOT MEN! The real problem is power. Women are just as likely to abuse power and act with aggression if they have the power to do so.

We have been studying women’s anger in Worcester at UMass Medical Center. There is ample research on interpersonal violence showing that if there is aggression in a relationship it is bilateral –unfortunately, women are “manning up,” and acting tough as men has done. This is bad news for women, because men are generally more physically powerful, which means women are still suffering and dying due to male aggression. The bilateral nature of the aggression suggests that women feel more empowered in their relationships and they are also using aggression just as men have done to try and get their needs met. In other words, it seems that equality has given women an equal opportunity to be aggressive. We certainly do not want this to be the end product of women’s rights!

There is also evidence that the perpetrator suffers as much as the victim. Acting out with verbal or physical aggression will generally cause an increase in cortisol levels, heart rate, blood pressure, stomach acid, etc. We are in fight or flight mode and this causes stress to our vital organs and we suffer psychologically. Did you know that almost 60% of men and women coming back from Afghanistan and Iraq have Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder? That’s moderate to severe PTSD! We are just beginning to catch on to the fact that the human species may not be designed to do harm!

Equality is a fundamental human need – women’s rights, gay rights, civil rights, Palestinian and Israeli, Bahraini, Egyptian, Libyan, environmental justice, animal rights, etc. All beings have an intrinsic value and they have their own needs, which also means there will be conflicting needs. Power struggles are inevitable and using aggression to try and win the argument, to make others comply by force is ultimately self-defeating. Conflict resolution skills / nonviolent communication / anger management – these skills are giving men and women the tools they need to navigate conflict safely.

We can’t afford to wait for Rome, Wall Street, Corporations or the Dictator, to change. The church belongs to the people of God – that was also recognized by the Second Vatican Counsel. We the people are the 99% who own the government, not the other way around – The Occupy Wall Street Movement showed us how to remind those in power of that fact with their awe inspiring, radically egalitarian, non-hierarchal and nonviolent methods.

We have other examples in Worcester that are also showing and teaching us how. The Center for Nonviolent Solutions in Worcester is an amazing resource and Professor Michael True, who helped found it, has been one of Worcester’s most preeminent teachers of nonviolence. The Goods for Guns program founded by Dr. Michael Hirsh is another. The Quakers at Worcester Friends Meeting House, with their emphasis on the peace testimony, The SS. Francis & Therese Catholic Worker House, along with Scott and Claire Schaeffer-Duffy and Annette Rafferty who started Abby’s House in Worcester and Rose Tirella who had the guts to start this newspaper and keeps those in power locally accountable. That’s just a few. Worcester is an awesome place to work for peace.

“Follow the Women” bike ride for peace in the Middle East

By Mary M. Bennett

“Everyone wants the same thing,” said Jo Ann Smith from California, “a place to raise your children in peace.”

This is what the Israelis and the Palestinians both want.

Many Palestinian women were with us that first day this past autumn in Beirut when we began our bicycle ride for peace. Over 200 women from 38 countries joined ‘Follow the Women’ the largest international peace keeping mission in the Middle East.

The fact that it is highly unusual to see women riding bicycles in the Middle East is one of the reasons why Detta Regan from England came up with this novel idea seven plus years ago. Seeing so many women on bicycles riding in solidarity with other women from the region; (For many it was the first time they had been on a bicycle!) calling for peace as they ride through Lebanon, Syria, Jordan, and across the Allenby Bridge into the West Bank, draws attention to the most vulnerable victims, women and children and the need for peace. Promoting freedom of movement for women in particular and empowering them to get more involved, Continue reading “Follow the Women” bike ride for peace in the Middle East