Sunday, January 24, 2010

Those Intrepid Israelis

After I got over my infatuation with Ari ben Canaan (Exodus, 1958) and his manly involvement in the creation of Israel, long after I admired the fearlessness of the Haganah, the inherent romantic ideal of the Sabra and the immensely sensible structure of the Kibbutzim, I began to doubt all that Israel represented.

Years after the birth of their country in 1948, the Israelis began throwing their weight around in the Middle East and I couldn't help but judge them. They were brainy and belligerent bullies who wanted to own all that land which belonged as much to the Arabs as it did to them. I began to despise the muscle-flexing Benjamin Netanyahu and his threats against Iran.

Yet, I reminded myself, the Israelis had brought forth a veritable garden from the dry and rocky Negev Desert. They had elected Golda Meir as Prime Minister long before most countries would take their women seriously. And, they allowed their women to fight.

Today they have rekindled my admiration somewhat.

This pip-squeak little nation with the attitude called upon all of that tremendous ability to perform miracles and sent “. . .120 doctors and nurses, rescue teams, search dogs and equipment and supplies for establishing a sophisticated field hospital capable of treating 500 patients daily” (

The extraordinary response was accomplished within 48 hours of the Haitian earthquake this month -- all the way from the Middle East and not the from the U.S., which lies only a few hundred miles north. The results of this mission could effectively be compared to what we used to call "American ingenuity" but is solely within the province of Israeli know-how and preparedness.

I salute you, Israel, Ari would have been proud. But do me a favor and stay away from Iran.

Wednesday, January 20, 2010


After hearing of two more bodies pulled out of the rubble today, eight days after the initial 7.0 + quake last week, I am struck by how strong the desire to live is within us humans and how belatedly we realize it.

Here is a statement by a guy named Dieuseul Anglade, the director of Haiti's Bureau of Mines, who predicted in September, 2008 the following:

"For two centuries, no major earthquake has been recorded in the Haitian capitol. The amount of energy accumulated along the fault runs the risk of an earthquake of 7.2 on the Richter scale. . There's no need to panic. But it would be a catastrophe." And of of course it is just that.

Yes, we have all been generous in our response, no matter how encumbered the initial relief effort has been. Though it has shaken us to our core, we have come together as one world in our response -- the earthquake became a worldquake, but how long will it last? What was done to respond to Monsieur Anglade's dire and prescient statement over a year ago?

With an incredible life force that keeps our pulses beating through extraordinary pain and deprivation, our lungs breathing when there is little air to breathe, we desperately want to survive. Why, then, don't we listen to our mother earth, which is shouting out her message?

Why can't we put our differences aside and come together in a world wide response (as we have done in this tragedy) and prepare for the next natural disaster by forming the well-oiled, coordinated machine that ensures precious days are not lost because of "logistics."

I think we can.

Friday, January 1, 2010

The Eagle and the Condor

When the Eagle flies with the Condor, there will be peace and brotherhood among nations. This is a two thousand year old prophecy that is beginning to have some heft in the nations south of us -- all except the peace part, that is.

If you are not aware of the prophecy it goes something like this: The eagle represents North America (and by extension other western, highly civilized and wealthy nations) and its emphasis on the intellect, science and money, to the exclusion of the spirit. By contrast, the condor embodies a powerful spiritual connection to earth and our fellow creatures who occupy it; ie, all of nature, and represents not only the natives of Latin America, but the indigenous people of the world who, through the ages, have suffered through exploitation, suppression and persecution.

The prophecy states that at the beginning of the fifth *Pachacuti, (2000) the balance of power will shift and the indigenous people of the world will begin to resume their rightful place among nations.

If you think this is a lot of hooey, take a look at Hugo Chaves of Venezuela and Evo Morales, the first indigenous president of Bolivia. Both are anti-American in policy and continually spout their belief that we Americans (and others) have carelessly polluted the earth with industry and greed and that we should have to pay through reparation.

I can speak to the condition of the natives of Bolivia: because of language deficiencies, and lack of education, they have allowed the minority, made up of rich white European descendents, to rule their country for centuries. It is certainly time that they have a voice and I was thrilled when one of their own -- a former cocalero -- gained the presidency for the first time in 2005; I support them and the world’s need for a cleaner environment as well as a much stricter policy controlling the treatment of our food animals. However, in his tirade against the U. S. in Copenhagen recently, Morales failed to address the trash heap that is El Alto and sits atop the city of LaPaz, the capitol of his own country. Double standards, perhaps?

A deciple of Chaves, Morales prefers to place blame rather than fulfill the prophecy. The legend speaks of PEACE among nations and brotherhood among men (generic man, of course), not additional wars and recriminations. With Morales' popularity, evidenced by the acquisition of more than 60% of the vote in the December 2009 presidential election, he could help to create the best environment for political d├ętente with his neighbors to the north that has been available during his lifetime.

Using his status, he could re-install the U. S. Ambassador he booted out of his country more than a year ago and he could reinstate a program cut short by his expulsion of the DEA, believing their methods for exfoliating the coca leaf benefited no one, an argument that I can sympathize with in part, and the subject of another blog published earlier in 2009.

It is a complex issue and I do not claim to know the answers. I do know that the Obama administration may be his chance to show his people what the meaning of the prophecy is: let the two magnificent birds of prey learn to fly together and achieve long time peace and prosperity for both hemispheres. It would be a beginning and would, perhaps more important to him, ensure his place in the volatile history of his country.

*pachacuti is an Inca word representing a period of roughly 500 years. Pachacuti was also an Incan ruler and son of Viracocha, the Bolivian sun god at Tiwanaku.