1) So we end up a longish day of shooting and head for
Tanoreen. Lunch wasn’t even thought of during the day so we order a little more
than we should, but it’s all so good!
I cannot understand why they want to film me for this
documentary, but they’re the professionals. The Producer, Director, and Vid-guy
are really nice open folk. I like them and I trust them even though they seemed
mad young to me.
The film is called 'Life Under Terror: A Global Story'. “It
is a 45 minute work that will feature individuals whose lives were directly
impacted by terrorism in different cities: New York, London, Amman,
Beirut. The aim of this work is to demonstrate the impact of terrorism on the
human level - to this end we are not concerned with the impact on politics
per se, rather on the indivual subjects, and how the direction of their life,
whether through world-view, professional direction or otherwise, has
2) I spent some time talking with one of them about
Hezbollah. You know, this was the first time I’ve spent that much straight-talk-time
with anyone who felt Hezbollah was doing the right thing. There’s an awful lot
of waiting in a day of shooting, and a lot of opportunity to talk of various
things and share our thoughts about: different ideas about politics, labels for
armed groups, definitions of terrorism, and you know, stuff.
3) And we talked about how sometimes there can be a movement
with 2 arms, each working without communicating (openly) with the other. One
arm commits acts to destabilize the sitting government. I am speaking about
people willing to harm innocent civilians in order to get what they want. Their
goal is to create the social and physical climate that will topple the
government, leave a power vacuum, and make way for the second arm to step up.
All methods are considered acceptable as long as they are effective.
4) If the government eventually falls then the second arm
says to the people, “Hey, we’re on your side. We are non-violent. We have only
been doing good deeds for all these years; feeding the poor, housing the
homeless, tending to the needy. We will take over now and you will have peace.”
I think this would have a strong appeal to a populace traumatized by prolonged
But if you take the terrorists out of (2) and find some
other way to change the government (without violence) then the whole picture
changes. Now your talking about large scale, non-violent social movements that
topple governments. Impossible? No, Hungary, Ghandi, The US Civil Rights
Movement…there have been many successful movements (as well as some failures).
So, I can’t get behind Hezbollah because I think they are
two-armed. And you know what? I don’t even have evidence to prove this. I am not
a Hezbollah scholar. This is just my gut reaction to the little that I’ve
gleaned from not too reliable media. It’s how I feel and I have been learning more
and more to trust my feelings.
Bruce Wallace is PT Witte in Second Life 121Contact is always looking for Iraqi students who want to
communicate with US students. Teachers, too.
Tanoreen: In Brooklyn’s Bay Ridge Chef
Rawia Bishara opened her Tanoreen back in 1999. Specializing in an amalgamation
of Middle Eastern and Mediterranean cuisines, Bishara created her own, unique
spice mix,”Tanoreen Spices”. Be sure to stick around for a bite of knafeh–
unless you go home and sit in your favorite chair, you'd be hard pressed find a
more comfortable place. Corkage fee: $5. (TRAIN: R to 77th St.) 7704 Third Ave, Bay Ridge, NY 11209 · 718-748-5600
It was one month ago today when Nesreen, in Baghdad
was telling me about the iron cat. I can't help it. I go for the cutesy symbolic naming thing. I remember thinking how different our days were: Baghdad-Brooklyn--DUH!
Here's an excerpt from the earlier post: (Mar 24 2007 US House passes Iraq Supplemental Budget, and an Iron Cat in Baghdad). The day was rough, with lots of shooting and detentions. It has started in festive mode as Nesreen headed out with her sister to shop, eat, you know, live. It went downhill from there. While we were talking shots were in the background, and not that far away. I think the checkpoint on the corner was drawing some fire. I don't remember exactly.
n-Oh look! There is
the cat. She is on the fence. Now she is sitting. You know what? b- What? n- When she hears the shooting she goes right on with no
stopping. She is not afraid. This is amazing. b- How old is she? How long have you had her? n- No. She came one month ago. I don’t even know if it is
she or he. She is here one month. You know she has no fear. This is a wonderful
thing. She is Iron Cat. OH! You hear that
now. You can hear that!
<< The fire is even heavier than before, and it is
even closer. The quality of what I am hearing changes as the guns move closer
to Nesreen’s phone—more distinct, sharper, higher pitched… >>
And back on March 24th the 30 second beep
came, and we said our goodbyes. ( 'O' was three a little while ago.)
Today, April 24th, Nesreen told me: You know she is dead. The cat. Yes, the iron cat. I remember. They shot her today. Today was a hard day. And the iron cat. We found her in the street. There's a bullet in her head. You know I don't even know if it is he or she? Yeah. Things were very bad today. O, he was so sad. You know only yesterday he fed her. Some chicken, I think. Very sad.
070424 Peaceful Tomorrows—the most functional family around
A small group of September Eleventh Families for Peaceful
Tomorrows is meeting via conference call. They are planning to change the
quietly lay out what the next steps are and one by one they offer their time
and energy so that each task is covered. It is done quietly, efficiently. There
are, after all, only about a dozen people who do most of the heavy hauling for
pervades. Some have done little or nothing about their tasks since the last
meeting. They spend little time apologizing. The focus is: Here’s where we are.
This is the most functional family in the whole world. Not
that they asked to be members. They lost their loved ones on 9/11. That was the
ticket into the club! Now they have dedicated the energy of their grief to
peace work, to moving the world to more peaceful tomorrows.
Their office is virtual. Their mission is concrete, and
nothing is impossible for these brave survivors. Directly affected by political
violence, they have chosen compassion over vengeance.
membership, web site, next year’s campaign, financing, tasks…one by one, step
by step towards more peaceful tomorrows.
you want to know a secret about them? They don't know how to vote! They make
decisions by consensus. Waw! Everyone gets heard as long as they wish to be
heard, even when no one agrees! They have instituted the ‘stand aside’ rule, so
that seeming impasses can be overcome by admission that ‘I can live with that.’
They always get to ‘Yes.’)
you know what else? These are exceptionally bright people who take seriously
the special voice given them by the loved ones they have lost. The voice of
Well, I started going down memory lane and i found this email from Tania addressed to Mimi and Rhoda, students in John Dewey H.S.in Brooklyn. Baghdad to Brooklyn and back again. I think Tania was a grade behind them, so that would make her very wise for her 11 years of age.
My memories of Baghdad go back only as far as the war. For the rest I rely on the baghdadees to let me know what's happened, happening, and wished for.
Bruce Wallace is PT Witte in Second Life
June 24, 2004
“THANKS to all of you, you are
great. I mean no offence, and no hatred, I LIKE YOU ALL .You are special to me.
I wish we could meet in a way or another because I am eager to see you. OK, let
me tell you something, nobody hates you or dislikes you here believe me, we all
have some good thoughts about you,
that you are nice, beautiful, clever and
May be war changed some of us
against you these days because of the mistreatment the Iraqis have got from your
soldiers. I follow news on TV more than Cartoon and I saw what happened to you
(Trade centre fall) but we didn’t do that - for this reason I am asking you not
to dislike us. Let us be more than Friends…OK!
Hello I am Safa (20years old) I have no idea where to begin talking to
you so forgive me about this.
I am a student in the fourth grade in theteacher Training Institute for
girls. Next year will be the last for me. I study English to be a teacher of
English. I have found it very difficult but beautiful to be studied. I like
English romantic poetry.
I heard that some of you are against this fool war on my country and this
pleased me because I thought that all of you wanted this war and thank you for
fighting peacefully to end it.You know this war is not for the Iraqis. It is
against each innocent Iraqi citizen because it aims to divide my country and
make us homeless and till this moment. I can’t believe that is happening for oil.
It is too hard to
let the rebels get into my country to create such daily massacre and such daily
tragedy after the long tragedy of your troops who have destroyed every vital
thing on our land, it is too hard to see most Iraqi children with no schools, it
is too hard to live poor and sad lives while others live happily in this
God bless each one looks for the happiness of others, God blesses every
one who seeks good for all .
Waiting for a comment,
Just click the comment button, below, to let Safa know how you feel.
I wonder if today’s killer of so many innocent civilians is
not the role model for the next sad murderer. I wonder if US terrorism has its own US format: the lone killer seeking prominence through the proven route of killing innocent civilians who are not directly part of his grievance. The US terrorist can, today, be assured of top billilng for a few days, if only enough innocents are murdered.
There ought to be a law. The Ego-Terrorism Statute
With respect to the name and image of the murderer:
No media is to publish the picture.
Any one agglomeration of media outlets may use the name only
amendment: if you own multiple outlets, only one at a time can carry the name))
So I'm at Gustavus Adolphus College, Saint Peter, MN 56082 USA. It's beautiful here, bucolic, far from spending every day immersed in Iraq. Andrea, Talat and I have flown in to do their annual Martin Luther King Lecture.
I'm hangin', waiting to guest a class where we'll speak and open ourselves to questions. I've walked the campus, had breakfast, and now I'm checking my email in the row of terminals lining one wall of a Student Union hallway. (Hmm. They didn't have these back..ah, well.) And then I went to check the blog and then I figured I'd open the pipe and let some of their words through.
"Hi. Do you have anything you'd like to say to students in Baghdad, Iraq?"
-- I am sorry for the great upheavel that you have experienced in the
last decade. I hope that there will be peace in our lifetimes, and that
the pain of this war will end soon. My thoughts and prayers are with
you. Peace. -- Hi, am a student at Gustavus Adolphus College, located in a small town in southern Minnesota. I am currently studying Chemistry in hope that I can enter medical school. I have never really had any contact with anyone in a foreign University. I would guess that the two largest differences would be the Language and the weather. I can't imagine how hard it is to take clases in Arabic when a lot of scientific names have latin roots. I hope that classes are going well for you and that you can achieve all that you hope to be. Kindest Regards Isaac -- I think the US troops should be able to keep everyone safe and get your education. -- My sincerest apologies to any problems that may have been caused by my government and the choices that it has made. Although we are students in two places that seem very far away from each other, I am guessing that we are both feeling the same stress under our studies and the drive to acheive the most in the world. I hope that doors are opened to you in your quest for education and that someday our nations are able to interact in a way where this conflict won't matter. With my whole heart I hope that this war has kept you safe and that we will both be able to live in a time where conflicts of this magnitude are no longer a major issue. Just today in a nation that is supposed to represent peace and prosperity, we have witnessed a shooting rampage that has taken the lives of 31 students just like ourselves. I hope this message finds you in good health and happy times-John -- Wishing you luck with all that is going on in your lives right now.
I am so proud of all you have and will continue to accomplish in your
lives! You are inspiration for the rest of the world. God bless. -- Hi, I don't really know what to say. This isn't something I think about very often. All I can say is that I'm reminded of what's going on over there everyday by news reports, but don't always think about the individuals that it affects. I hope you continue to have hope that peace will come. Until then, continue on knowing that there are many people on your side and thinking about you. -- Hi, I'm a 22 year old college student in a small Minnesota town. I can't imagine going to school everyday with a war going on in your very own country. I hope you all stay safe and that you can enjoy the college experience. -- Hi, I am a student and Gustavus Adolphus as well. I am sorry for the hardships you have been facing over the past few years. I am sure it has not been an easy road to travel. But stay positive. Us troops are there to help ; better days are still ahead! -- I am wishing you the best of luck in this hard time that you face, with various struggles it is hard to maintain a form of identity and rather than look at what separates people, look at what connects them. Best Wishes. -- I actually have no idea what I would say to you, were we standing
face to face, but I do know that any war is a terrible thing. There
are no words capable of expressing that... -- I am wishing you strenght and courage in these troubled times. I am extremely sorry for what you have had to withstand and I hope and pray only the best for you. Much Love. --
Please know that our thoughts are with you, hoping that the war
will be over as soon as possible and the healing and rebuilding process
can begin. Take care. -- Good luck with everything you do! God Bless! -- Good luck and I support you! God Bless! --
So, I don't know. I think I liked those folks. I spoke to some students, some on the way to class, after
they wrote their notes. We were just talking and they seemed
comfortable, not defensive, open, and interested. And the whole time
on campus I never felt a negative stare, or heard a harsh word. I think
they must be doing something right at Gustavus Adolphus, Saint Peter, MN 56082
OK. I’m trying to say something important here, and not
smoke at the same time. What I am trying to say is: The John McCain way of thinking is an example
of a kind of thinking that is common to a lot of U.S.
citizens but less common each day. Let’s call it McThink.
McThink has faith in the Bush occupation policy. I think
most Americans had faith, too, for a while. But time has delivered us facts and
we must be brave enough to face them. All of the facts, not just the ones McThink
chooses to put into speeches and press releases.
I am not talking history here. I am talking life on the
ground in the killing zone. Let’s get real. The facts make this fairly easy to
believe: The continued presence of occupying forces, today, is a detriment to
the Iraqi people.
McThink says, “…we have also made, in recent weeks, measurable
progress in establishing security in Baghdad and fighting Al Qaeda in Anbar province.”
That is true if you look only at the ground war for these past few weeks. It is
far from representative of the truth of the whole Iraqi situation.
some facts McThink left out:
Each day we stay:
The Baghdadi who would steer Iraq to a more peaceful future become less effective; their numbers this as more find ways to leave; they have less hope that they can pull off a peaceful solution; they grow more and more isolated.
The energy of the many Iraqi groups that want to act violently grows. We are the wind beneath their wings, folks. We are the excuse for everything that is wrong in Iraq. If the power is not fixed, it is our fault. Such is the responsibility of the occupier. Today we are failing in that responsibility.
The resentment of the majority of Iraqis, especially the young ones, towards
the US grows. There is no denying that we are occupying their country, directing how they should form their government, and keeping an eye on those oil contracts. There is no denying that daily life in Baghdad is horrifyingly worse than before the occupation began.
We occupy the Green Zone (with its restaurants, clubs, hot water and electricity) much like Sadaam occupied the same space a few years ago.
We fail to live up to the responsibilities of an occupier. We certainly don’t:
Win the hearts and minds of the people
Provide peace and security
Provide the basic amenities that would let the Iraqis feel that the occupation is ‘working to provide a stable platform upon which they could rebuildtheir nation. You know: food, clothing, shelter, power, fuel,
telephony, internet access, letting people live a normal life.
We have created a hell on Earth, and we don’t have to live in it. Imagine
these kinds of thoughts:
“So you have this great idea of democracy. But you don’t have to live here.”
“What is this democracy? Of invading my country and killing my relatives and
friends and students? For Why?”
“you are so great. if you are so great then why don’t we have electricity, power, safety”
“Food for the closing of the neighborhood? We are not thinking of food, we are
thinking of safety. Only that.”
Being guided by Faith is not new. But what Mcthink tells us
is truth is neither faith nor truth. It is blind vision. McThink refuses to see the whole
picture. McThink results in fooling-yourself-logic and errors of judgement.
Sure. I can see McThink’s point that if we remove the
occupying forces then we have lost the ground war. McThink’s assertion that
‘defeat or surrender in Iraq in not acceptable and that winning is the only
option” is false. There is more to conflict resolution than winning or losing.
There is more to building more peaceful tomorrows than “Yes” or “No”. Success
has many parts.
And there are so many positive effects of ending the
occupation that it is easy for me to make a judgement. We gotta get outta there.
--- Bruce Wallace is PT Witte on Second
Life, and Postmaster of 121
Contact – linking students through the wall of political violence www.121Contact.typepad.com<--have you been to
the blog lately?
And I am so proud to be a
member of the steering committee of September Eleventh
Families for Peaceful Tomorrows www.peacefultomorrows.org
(Apr 11, 2007 Senator
McCain spoke to Lexington Va. cadets of the Virginia Military Institute)
I only know a couple of Iraqi refugees in Amman. I'd like to know more about their situation. What can we do to help? Bruce
Iraqi Refugees in Amman Tuesday, March 27, 2007
A photo of the endless queue of Iraqi applicants outside the UNHCR's headquarters in Amman, Jordan, taken yesterday.
reports that undercover Jordanian security officers are randomly
questioning Iraqis on the streets of Amman to find out if they are
overstaying their residency. Some of my friends say they are afraid to
leave their apartments.
You can also check the UNHCR (Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees) on: