Category Archives: Travels

HOW’S EGYPT COMING ALONG?

The media has not said much about the “Arab Spring” lately. Could be that
summer’s coming and the world is waiting for hot news to explode from Iran. Whatever.

During the lull, we should take a look at Egypt and see what’s unfolding. All is not quiet on the Western front!

The Muslim Brotherhood’s political gains have provided a worrisome trend
that could be a factor in causing more instability in the Persian Gulf region. Unending demonstrations in Egypt remain a factor in creating unrest. Recently, Saudi Arabia recalled its ambassador and shut down their diplomatic mission because of protests over the detention of an Egyptian lawyer. The Saudi’s position was that the lawyer was arrested on suspicion of smuggling drugs. Street protestors in Egypt disagreed and started demonstrations that threatened Saudi staff member.

The incident doesn’t amount to much but demonstrates the unsettledness that still
has a major impact on Egyptian affairs. Moslems continue to dominate; Copic Christians remain frightened. A state of conflict between the emerging culture and what had existed under Mubarak continues. In the midst of this turmoil, Egyptians will have a national election on May 23.

How’s that in a country that has virtually never embraced democracy?

The Egyptian man-on-the-street isn’t sure what to think. Former government
officials have faced off against newcomers in a battle over who wasn’t Mubarak’s big
buddy. Until the upheaval, the ruler of the country sat in an exceptionally high place
overseeing the state and politics. Mubarak and Sadat before him were like pharaohs
embodying divine and earthly rule. A ruler’s health and wealth could not even be
examined in the press. One journalist who tried to approach Mubarak about his wealth ended up in jail for even speculating about it. Today the candidates take jabs at each other about every possible subject. The debate leaves people confused. Political respectability is going down the drain.

The citizens have never seen such attacks and don’t know how to respond.

The presidential race has turned into turmoil and confusion. As two of the prominent candidates debated, a simple question revealed the new landscape in Egypt. A moderator asked about the health condition and wealth of each man. Probably having a clue about what was coming, Abdel-Moneim Abolfotoh presented a copy of his medical records, revealing slight blood pressure and diabetes. Arm Moussa wasn’t as well prepared and claimed the entire issue was a smoke screen. And so the debate goes on with the audience mystified by such personal attacks and candor from their potential leader.

What will May 23 bring? A startled electorate certainly will not be electing
another pharaoh. Possibly the question of reopening the peace treaty with Israel will be somewhere in the mix. Egypt’s ruling military generals probably remain as concerned as any group in the country. The crisis from a year and a half ago may have eased some, but the revolution is far from over.

Keep your eye on Egypt. How the country votes may yet prove to be a
telling omen of what the Arab Spring now means.

Question : Do you think Egypt will come out of this chaos a stronger country?
Could we be entering another stage of confusion? Is there any light at the end of the
tunnel?

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Filed under middle east, Nature, Peace, Prayer, Travels, Violence, World

MEET THE MOSSAD MAN

Meir Dagan remains a robust, bald-headed man with squinting eyes that peer out of narrow glasses. Ariel Sharon once said that Dagan’s specialty was severing an Arab’s head form his body. Dagan no longer comments on such epitaphs and turns his attention elsewhere. During his unprecedented eight-year term, he restored the agency’s prestige. Many of his efforts have proven highly significant including the assassination of Imad Moughniyet, Hevbollah’s notorious chief of operations, and the strike that stopped Syrian’s attempts to develop nuclear weapons.

And his hobbies? Dagan paints. Horses. Olive trees. An old man with his worry beads. Oil painting is his hobby. A man of contrasts, indeed!

Some years ago, I met and shook hands with Menahem Begin when he was Prime Minister. The moment felt electric, and I knew I was talking to a man who had the broadest possible grip on the pressing issues of state. Meir Dagan is of such a caliber.

In an recent interview in The Jerusalem Post, Dagan talked about his views developed from years in the military and working as the head of Israel’s finest espionage agency. Anymore interested in the Middle East will do well to consider his point of view. Meir Dagan loves his country and respects the struggle Israelis are facing. His perspective is worth considering.

In contrast to the current Prime Minister as well as the Minister of Defense, Meir Dagan is not for bombing Iran immediately . His opinions cover a wide range of possibiities. Here’s some what he thinks:
• Military action cannot disarm the core factor in Iranians nuclear quest. That factor is knowledge.
• Israel’s air force can make a significant strike, but the issue is the outcome of such an attack. It could produce an uprising of terrible proportions.
• Iran is not an Israeli problem. (Although their prime target would be Israel). Iran is an international problem that should be faced by the international community.
• The Iranian government is in a difficult position. Sanction are hurting and a new generation will not likely tolerate repressed civil rights that now exist. Time isn’t on their side.

Meir Dagan trusts the President of the United States to stand behind his pledge to keep Iran from developing nuclear weapons. He maintains Israel should remain confident in that promise. Dagan is not saying that a military option should be taken off the table, but he is firmly maintaining that it should be the last option used.

Obviously, many citizens and soldiers within Israel would disagree with Dagan’s conclusions, but they would also highly respect them. Rather that opposing the Prime Minister and Defense Minister, Dagan is offering an alternative point of view with much to consider. He is promoting further debate and discussion. No one could ever doubt the fearlessness and courage of this warrior with a powerful history behind him. Dagan is challenging Israel (and us) to seek a better solution than bombs. His ideas are worthy of a second look.

Question: Does Meir Dagan’s argument give you any second thoughts?

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Filed under Introductions, middle east, Stories, Travels, World

Sitting on Top of the World

One of my annual summer pilgrimages is a hike up Deer Creek Valley and on to the top of Mt. Rosalie. The trail winds through the forest primeval and ends up on top of a 13,000 foot mountain. Inspiration drips off the trees. Your soul flies and you end up literally sitting on top of the world! I’ve never found the equilavent of that trip.

I’ve been doing this walk since I was ten years old and more than a few decades have now passed. However, there is a facet of this climb that still amazes me. Nothing every changes! The climb looks exactly like it always has. In a world that is spinning from one changing scene to another, this valley hasn’t changed a notch. So, when I walk along it feels like time has stopped. The hands on the face on my clock have taken a lunch break. Is that refreshing or what?
Let me encourage you to have a similar space, perhaps seek it in nature while the summer lasts. Sit down. Breath deep. Let it work on your soul.

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Filed under Nature, Rest, Travels

an introduction

As I’m starting this blog to share my writing and life with my friends and readers, I thought a short introduction would be a useful beginning. Adopted into a Gentile family as a child, my original family background was Jewish. Recovering these ethnic origins later in life, I lived both in the church and the synagogue, exploring both worlds. The experiences between both traditions and the research that went into discovering my ethnic roots imparted a vivid view of the WWII death camp trials that destroyed Jewish people. I traveled to many of these camps, including Auschwitz and Dachau where my uncle was imprisoned. Time spent in these areas was invaluable and led, as well, to learning about the current underground groups attempting to reconstitute Nazism.

Attempting to supplement my understanding of the forces that impinged on the history of Israel, I traveled extensively in Greece and across the Italian peninsula, eventually exploring the entire country of Greece a total of six times. Touching on Turkey, my last northern trip extended from Komotini down the plains to Thessaloniki, where I spent time in the ruins of the ancient cities of Philippi, Apollonia, Veria, and traveled down to Delphi and ancient Corinth. In Philippi, I had the opportunity to explore the traditional site of the prison where St. Paul and other Apostolic Christians were held. I had the opportunity to spend several weeks working only in Athens.

During further travels across the entire length of Italy, I found myself curious as to how Rome evolved into the contemporary world. From Milan to Venice and on to Ravenna, I explored both the present and ancient worlds. Eventually I made fifteen different trips to Rome. Studying in the Vatican library and the museum, my research touched on many aspects of the past, including information on what actually happened to the sacred objects in the last Temple after the Romans burned and destroyed Jerusalem.

These explorations into the ancient past have inspired much of my writing. I enjoy writing about history, particularly that which has been shrouded in mystery over hundreds of years. The ancient world had a strong belief in the afterlife and this has also influenced my writing–places such as the Church of Santa Maria della Concezione which displays the bones of more than 4,000 monks. “What you are today, we were yesterday”–as written in the church–urges us to contemplate more than just the here and now but the future and life beyond. Writing is a chance to tell stories about ourselves, our histories, and to explore the unknown.

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Filed under History, Introductions, Travels