Thursday, August 19, 2004

Interesting observations

It's really hard to understand what is going on Najaf. I still don't see the point of the US going there & trying to win a battle it clearly has not been successful at. Is it so crucial to Iraq that the "insurgency" in Najaf be quelled? To me, it looks like the violence that has erupted in the past 10 days is de-stabilizing the whole country & halting all efforts to normalcy for the Iraqis. Every time the US comes closer to destroying the shrine of Imam Ali, hundreds of Iraqis side with Sadr. Maybe it's me, but I don't really get the logic of this operation. Read this article from the Christian Science Monitor about the diversity, coordination, and mixed signals of the Mahdi Army. Here are more developments from the BBC.

I had the most amazing experience yesterday - I was invited by a Jewish woman to a gathering she has organized in the past two years for Muslim & Jewish women to come together & just talk. I am continually amazed at the similarities of religious practices between Judaism & Islam, Hebrew & Arabic. Islam is so much closer to Judaism than Christianity although the religion of Jesus came after that given to Moses. Historically, Jews and Muslims have formed strong alliances under Christian domination and persecution for example, during the Crusades & the Spanish Inquisition.
Amin Maalouf, the author of 'The Crusades through Arab Eyes,' 'Leo the African' & 'Samarkand', explores this relationship & the history of the Arab world in great depth & is a fascinating read. Even in former Palestine, Jews & Muslims lived harmoniously; "anti-Semitism" was not something the Muslims practiced unlike many Europeans and Americans in the past centuries. Ghada Karmi, author of In Search of Fatima, talks about her experiences of childhood in Palestine until 1948, and her immigration to London into a Jewish neighborhood. I highly recommend it for anyone who wants to learn more about Palestine in the early 20th century, Palestinian exodus and identity conflicts. It is a narrative of the conflict that involves real people instead of a boring history book filled with facts and figures. Karmi is a great writer!

Wanted to share these two articles celebrating Palestinian resilience:
Lanterns light up Ramallah (about a Palestinian musical performance) and Refusing to be blinded in the other eye, by Amira Hass - an Israeli peace activist.