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Apr 21, 2008

Is Peace In the Middle East Possible?

The short answer is..NOPE! No Way! They've been living in turmoil for thousands of years. They've been killing each other for thousands of years even before America and Israel even existed! To think that any U.S. President will ever be able to solve the middle east crisis in our lifetime is just plain stupid. The only thing that has changed over the last couple thousand years is that not only do they want to kill each other, now they want to kill us too!

Some of you may have noticed that my posts have been pretty light this past week. In fact, I didn't even get to do my usual BoBo of The Week Award. I've been on the road. However, over the weekend I had an opportunity to hear and meet a most incredible man. Some of you may have heard of him: Jeffrey Goldberg. He wrote an excellent book titled Prisoners. If you haven't already purchased and read this book, I suggest you do.

His speech was about hope. Hope that there may be SOME peace in the middle east. He is very pragmatic and admits there will not be total peace over there in our lifetime. However, he told us some amazing stories that shows there is a possibility that slowly, and with much time, they can solve their internal struggles and perhaps make peace and co-exist with the Western countries. This man is married and has two children. Yet, he intentionally places himself in the middle of a hornet's nest. He willingly walks into known terrorist mosques to talk to the people. He recently spent an entire month in an Al Qaeda Madrassa. He's been kidnapped several times while in the Gaza Strip. In fact, he said he welcomed being able to be present there to provide us his story because he related that most of the time his audiences are carrying AK-47's and don't speak his language.

Here are some stories he told us - He has met with the supreme commander of Hezbollah in Lebanon. He said after months of working on it, he was finally able to get an audience with the commander. They met at a restaurant in Southern Lebanon. To set the tone, while he and the commander ate their meal, the commander's soldiers were all around the them with their guns trained on him the entire time. Apparently, this was nothing new for Mr. Goldberg. In addition, they knew he was American, and a Jew. He said during the course of the meal and discussions, the commander never once smiled...until he asked one question that really set the tone for the rest of his day...his life even...he asked the commander "What will it take for America and Hezbollah to be friends?" He stated that at this point, the commander smiled, then simply stated, "What makes you think we want to be friends with America? We want to kill you!" Mr. Goldberg said he decided at that point that he wasn't paying for dessert.

He told us another story of when he visited a Palestinian friend of his in Northern Gaza Strip. He made this "friend" while he was this man's prison guard in Israel. Nevertheless, he was a friend to him. This "friend" was the leader of a group of terrorists. This guy has a 15 year old son. They had a discussion about "martyr bombers" (their term) and how he would feel if his own son were a "martyr bomber." To his surprise, the man answered "It is his choice to make. But, I would be very proud should my son decide to do this." He likened it to the time when his own parents sat him down and told him they would be proud of him if he went to school to be a lawyer, but it was his choice. In the world of the Palestinian terrorists, this is the same thing.

He said later that he went to visit another of his former prisoners, now friend, in the southern section of the Gaza Strip. This man has a 12 year old son. He related the story about his friend in the north and asked him the same question. This friend says he has that discussion with his son all the time. Only, his 12 year old son is yearning to be a "martyr bomber." He asked his son, "What do you think happens when you blow yourself up?" to which his son replied, "Allah will shower me with gifts and praise and my family will be showered with the praises and good fortunes of Allah." to which he told his son, "No. What happens after they pick up the pieces they can find, they put them in a box, then put that box in a whole in the dirt, and then your mother cries over that little plot of sand for the rest of her life."

This is the hope that Mr. Goldberg is talking about. There are those in the middle east who do wish to co-exist in peace with Israel and the Western countries. There are those who were former terrorists but now see the light. This is that little glimmer of hope we should all try to find...not necessarily the way Mr. Goldberg does...but just to know...it is there!

These are just a couple of the stories he told us. He spoke for about 1.5 hours. That time just flew by. I had an opportunity to shake his hand and talk to him afterwards. He is a very unassuming, plump, stereotypically Jewish looking, man. But, he has some seriously huge brass balls! As I said before, he is married with two children, and he chooses to intentionally place himself in these apparently dire situations looking for that glimmer of hope. Again, if you haven't done so, please buy his book. You too will come away with awe of this man. He apparently has a higher calling that none of us will understand!

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