Friday, August 24, 2007

Middle East Conflict - The Saga Continues

In a span of about two months, I have read in a succession of three books all of them were related to the topic of Palestinian-Israeli conflict. Each of these three books looked at the situation in a different angle and each presented a valid viewpoint from that particular outlook. As I always believe, there is no good or bad, it is a matter of perspective.

The first book with Ariel Sharon, a former Prime Minister of Israel, as a centerpiece, chronicled his military and political career. Sharon was a controversial figure while on his political stage. Much of his childhood experience biased against Palestinian people has set the tone of how he went about setting the Israeli Administration in West Bank and Gaza Strip trying to systematically and deliberately limit, humble and humiliate Palestinian people's existence. There are curfews, road blocks, separation walls and check points that Palestinian people need to endure every day. In the occupied territory, Palestinian people are treated as sub-human, living in a submissive condition constantly harassed by Israeli's police. The policy under Sharon is that of rapid expansion of Israeli settlement. The goal is to drive Palestinian people to leave the territory out of despondence.

The next book I read is "One Country" by Ali Abuniman, a Palestinian-America. The interesting point is that he proposed a quite radical approach on the problem. Instead of maintaining two states, he proposed one country housing Palestinian and Israeli under one central administration with ample autonomy and equal rights for both camp. I think the idea is good, but it will take a
government with very enlightened top officials and cabinet members to devise policies and procedures equitably to benefit all people. The hurdle is likely to be from decades old of prejudice and cultural conditioning that has become ingrained as part of social fabrics of both people. Apart from Language and cultural difference, we have a formidable religious barrier to contend with. Throughout history, religion is one of the causes of obsession, oppression and aggression of blood shedding and conflict sustaining painful dramas played out in many regions of the world. If we put religious aspect in that Palestinian-Israeli melting pot, we may as well introduce an explosive time bomb in the already delicate and volatile situation. From my humble opinion, the idea is sound and good, but it is decades or may be century ahead of its time.

I thought this book should have caused an uproar if not a mass demonstration on the part of Palestinian people. "My Enemy, My Self" was written in Hebrew by an Israeli journalist and later was translated to English. In order to better understand how Arabs managed to live in the looming shadow of Israeli's tight control, Yoram Binur disguised himself as a lowly Arabic cheap laborer in occupied territories. The book revealed the first hand moccasin walking experience of being an Arab subject to the whim and oppression of his Israeli employer. Throughout the years of occupation, Israeli confiscated most of Palestinian people's properties and its livelihood therefore most of the Palestinians have to make their living employed by Israeli as unskilled cheap labor grossly underpaid and overworked. The Israeli's exploitation of Palestinian people is pervasive and humiliating. I was quite taken aback by his wrenching experience. You have to read the book to fully realize why Intifada uprising was a natural course of action of Palestinian people. It was an outcry of their many years debilitating frustration dealing with Israeli authority. They simply weren't given any chance of dignified living.

I can't help but reiterating the old cliche of "History tends to repeat itself". From the Biblical time, the land of Israel fell under the ruling of many other empires and regions. Particularly, the Roman Empire implemented a systematic and large-scale expulsion of Jews. There was a time that Jews were under the control and conquest of Muslims. Yes, Jewish State of Israeli did not come into its existence easily. It was a cornerstone in human history that through third party intervention a State of Israel was declared of legitimate existence. Now that table is turned in the twentieth century that Israel has become economically prosperous and has superior military presence in the middle east. Now it is their turn to oppress Muslims in the name of survival. How little have we learned from our bloody history!

Saturday, August 18, 2007

Are We the "endangered species" ?

History of mankind has gone a long way and we have literally become caretaker of the myriad species on land, in water around the entire planet earth. In the last hundreds of years, mankind's technological knowledge and application surpassed the last many thousands by leap and bound. We have come to the age of quantum physics, Laser technology and nuclear weapon, a point of our advancing civilization where we are at a technological crossroad.

On the other hand, human nature seems to stay pretty much the same throughout history. We are just as easily provoked by our neighbor at the slightest implication as of a cave man fighting for food and survival. It is undeniable that entire human history is littered with bloodshed and conflict. But we have learned a great deal as a species and we are much more conscious and aware of the impact affecting the ecosystem as a result of our actions, our exploitation of natural habitation and resources.

As a naturally warring species, we come to the point of our civilization that we do have the technology to obliterate our very existence if we do not carefully plan ahead of how we are using the technology in the future. I am introducing a book called, "endangered species - How we can avoid mass destruction and build a lasting Peace" written by a former Director of the Defense Threat Reduction Agency, Stephen Younger. His analysis is very well rounded, bringing the forefront of political diplomacy, economic development and military capabilities into the round table of peace initiative intending to stabilize the troublesome regimes in the world. The fact that there are a score of countries now having the capability to construct nuclear weapon of mass destruction is worrisome. Now that the enemy that we are facing is not so much of technology in nature, but that of humanity itself. If we are not careful, We can become a very efficient killing machine having potential to plunge entire human race along with the natural world to the brink of extinction.

Out of these three fronts, I am particularly interested in the illustration of economic factor. Most of us has an inherent desire to better ourselves if given the opportunity. Much of the troubled spots of the world are politically unstable and the citizens are deprived of basic and essential living needs. Ever since the instant communication and rapid transportation become the reality worldwide, no one and no nation can be isolated for long. With the ever expanding information and resources now available to people all corners of the globe, this phenomena is increasingly becoming a double-edged sword for the safety of nation and its people. The book,"endangered species"brings vast knowledge and wisdom to the thorny issue of nuclear technology.

Saturday, August 11, 2007

A Parable - Middle East Conflict

The conflict between Israeli and Palestinian has been an ongoing saga ever since the
United Nation's partition plan after the WWII. I read a website using Parable to illustrate the situation very empathically and it seems to bring over half century old family feud a little closer to our heart. Unfortunately, with current state of mind of mankind, happily ever after for Israeli-Palestinian conflict remains a mirage, an optical illusion. Perhaps time, patience and understanding will illuminate the hearts and souls of millions and guide us to a more peaceful and enlightened path.
R. Jerry Adams, Ph.D.
Evaluation and Development Institute

Parable of the Family with an Orphan
A large family takes in an orphan. The house is already crowded so the orphan must share an attic room with a child too weak to protest the intrusion. The parents give each of the two children half of the room but ask each child to share a beautiful cabinet, treasured by both. The parents take a long trip, leaving their strongest son in charge.

When the parents leave, other children in the family attack the orphan and try to get him to leave. The weakest child, in particular, fights unfairly. He waits for the orphan to sleep and then attacks him. The orphan wakes up each time and hurts the weak child; he also takes over more of the room, including the beautiful cabinet.

As the orphan continues to take over more of the room, the weak child continues to take revenge. The strongest son tries to bring peace and sometimes succeeds for short periods. The basic problem, however, is that each child believes that he should have the entire attic room to himself.

Finally, the parents return. They realize that they made a mistake by leaving home while there was such a difficult situation in the attic. They don't just ask the two children to stop fighting, however. Instead, they take immediate action.

The parents decide that the boys need temporary separation, something constructive to keep them busy, and careful supervision. The parents work with the two boys to build shelves and cabinets down the middle of the room, with private storage space for each boy on each side. They install plumbing so each side of the room has plenty of fresh water. Finally, when the crisis is over, the parents set up a way for the boys to share the beautiful cabinet.

The parents do more than just provide better space, however. They provide the love, kindness, and supervision that each child needs to do well. They also make sure that the other children support the solution.

Each boy reverts to his old behavior a few times, but the parents remove his privileges each time and the old behaviors stop. Besides, each boy becomes too busy pursuing his own goals to be distracted by fighting.

They lived happily ever after...with a few disagreements here and there.

The "large family" is the United Nations. The "orphan" is Israel. The "other children" are the Arab states. The "weakest son" is the Palestinian people. Attacking the orphan unfairly means "terrorist attacks." The "attic room" is the territory of Palestine before the United Nations carved Israel into it. The "beautiful cabinet" is Jerusalem.

The "strongest son" is the United States. Alas, there are no wise parents to supervise the boys. The UN Security Council has not been able to perform this essential role.

The "strongest son," therefore, must work with the "other children" to implement peace. If the "strongest son" and the "other children" work together effectively, then peace will spread throughout the entire family.

Recently, this has not happened. Instead, extremist Palestinians have engaged in bombings when Israelis agreed to work on peace. Extremist Israelis have engaged in assassinations or other acts of aggression when Palestinians agreed to work on peace. Israelis are swiftly completing a wall between Israel and Palestinian territory, but the wall is not on the 1967 border. Rather, it snakes into Palestinian territory to unlawfully take land and water rights from 200,000 Palestinians. Extremists from both sides have destroyed the peace process.

Saturday, August 04, 2007

Crashing Through - A Book

Several years ago, I read a book " Shadow Divers" from an author named Robert Kurson. This book ingrained a great impression on me for the adventure of sea diving not for the treasure hunting but for solving the mystery of U-Boat identity of shipwreck in WWII. Robert Kurson took us on this incredible journey of the seven-year search with exquisite detail and suspense. I got the chance to learn a bit about history of U-Boat, but most fascinating is the exciting and painful drama of human spirit intertwining while the story unfolded.

Several years later of today, I got another chance enjoying his second book, "Crashing Through". It is every bit of adventure and exploration considering our hero this time was blind, a victim of chemical explosion when he was only three-year old. But was Mike May a victim? Absolutely not!

As the title indicated, he lived by crashing through life day after day. He has this adventurous spirit that I often thought he was more alive than I am. Ordinary people has all of the five physical senses intact but despite of these "blessings", we often live a life quite ordinary. To May, everything is fascinating, life is literally an adventure for him. After forty some years of full, happy and joyful life, he will be facing another life changing as well as life threatening challenge. Will he dare taking the chance to become ordinary so that he can "see" the sunset and endure all the ordeal that go with the so-called privilege that is normally unavailable for the blind? Well, you shall see!

Friday, August 03, 2007

shining brass horse exhibition - Astral Travel

I have been away from my posting for a month mainly due to the lack of inner experience that was worthwhile for recording. I often have sporadic and vague memory of dream fragments, but most of them were just pure non sense so I did not bother to write them down. Last night's astral travel was the first after six-month of drought.

It started as my routine one and half hour meditation. After chanting the mantra, I laid down for relaxation, and then several minutes later, I felt a spiral and swirling sensation and up I went touring around my bedroom. When I was floating near the wall of my room, the incredible thing happened, I saw thousands of thousands of shining, silvery brass horse images stretching beyond my eyes can see. All the while, a shimmering fog was making these three-dimensional brass images a little more mysterious. I could not believe what I saw, so I turned around and floated to the other side of the wall for confirmation. Again, there were rows and rows of horse images stretching as if there was no more boundary of what we call wall.

Shocking of what I just saw, I swirled out of my window. As I made my way out, I felt that my feet tripped over something as if there was physical part of me banged on the concrete wall. Once I was outdoor, I floated past buildings and trees and made a daring loop so that I floated in the air with my back against a field of gravel road. There were times that I floated so low that I could easily touch the ground. From that position, I could see clearly the blue sky and the lazily drifting cloud. I had astral travel many times like this before, after a while I started thinking to myself, "what is the purpose of this flying?" Immediately, as if responding to my thought, the motion, the sensation of floating and the scenery gradually evaporated into the thin air....

Perhaps there was no purpose of my astral flying other than that it was an interesting experience. What worth noting is that I had done swirling around my room many times, this was the first that the so called wall was not really a wall when I past through it. It was rather other worldly looking, especially the vivid fog-like mist that shrouded the entire exhibition.