Posts filed under ‘Hope’

making history

Imagine my surprise. I’m sitting on my bed, at the Hotel Daibani in Aden, watching al Jazeera, and I hear, through the rapid jumble of Arabic words, ‘St. Paul, Minnesota’.

St. Paul. Al Jazeera. Did another bridge collapse? A voice of a correspondent crackled across a cell phone. Barack Obamaand Hillary Clinton…elections…votes…South Dakota…count…the economy…Obama…a speech.

Hot scoop: Obama gives a speech!

Why was this speech special? Why was an al Jazeera correspondent reporting from Keillor country? And what the hell was she talking about?

From what I could gather, the reporter was embedded in Obama’s convoy, which had brazenly entered the politically schizophrenic state, and set up camp at the Excel Center. It was a symbolic fort (also the home of the NHL’sMinnesota Wild) where Obama’s battle-hardened antagonist would soon accept the other party’s nomination.

The embedded journalist (or embed as we in the industry like to call it) was reporting Obama’s seeming victory over Clinton’s surprisingly resilient and resourceful insurgency. Obama’s speech sounded as if it might be premature. There were a few dead-enders who couldn’t quite accept our liberation from decades of tyrannical elected officials.

I laid down , trying to put the Arabic words together in my head. Obama, Hillary…speeches, change, freedom. I drifted towards another battle, closer to my room, which had seemed to vanish from the headlines even though it had caused of unimaginable human suffering.

Mission Accomplished?

The next day was quiet. The classes went smoothly, and I didn’t get stuck explaining some obscure English rule that no American has ever followed.

After my second class, one of my favorite students lingered. He frequently stayed after class, and we spent a lot of time talking about verb tenses and shoulds and coulds and runon sentences. He had seen the same al-Jazeera story.

‘It doesnt matter,’ he said, with a wry grin. ‘They…ah…they don’t care who win. Macain. Clinton. No problem. Obama. Ok. One wins and the other laughs. Its ok. They think same…ahhh…Palestine, Iraq, war. They all support…’ and he put his palms up as if there was nothing that could be done.

I said that I had hope for Obama, that he would change things. What things? Things. Then I asked him to write the Arabic word for change on the board.


‘He say ‘change, change’, but no.’

He said goodbye and left. 

I want to believe in change like I want to believe in hope. I want to believe in Obama, and so I’ll vote for him. Hopefully, he’ll win, and make history, as they say. But if he can’t steer our convoy away from the disastrous course it is taking in this region, how much will his achievements matter?



June 4, 2008 at 2:01 pm Leave a comment

Life Must Go On



 When I first heard about this blog, I didn’t believe it.

Two young men, both enmeshed in one of the world’s most bitter and intractable conflicts share a blog called It was created by a Palestinian living in a refugee camp in Gaza and an Israeli living in the town of Sderot, which lies just on the Israeli side of the Gaza border.

They met a few years ago at a conference, where they discussed, well, you know, the situation.

They kept in touch and eventually started this blog, each contributing anecdotal evidence of the failure of both sides’ leaders to come to a peaceful solution.

They use pseudonyms–Peace Man and Hope Man. Peace Man is the Palestinian and Hope Man is the Israeli.

In a recent post, after a Palestinian man murdered 8 Yeshiva students in Jerusalem, Hope Man wondered:

Does it matter to the father and mother, the sister and brother, the friend and the fellow student?Less than a week ago a family of 7 was killed during an Israeli attack in Gaza. Retaliation or Terrorism? defense or offense? Does it really matter to the relatives and neighbors? To the friends and acquaintances?
2 days ago a one month year old Palestinian baby was killed in an Israeli attack. He was killed while Israel was searching for a Hamas militant. The militant was killed but how can such consequences be justified?

A few days before Hope Man’s post, during a brutal Israeli incursion into Gaza that killed over 100 people, Peace Man wrote:

Its was a bloody day in Gaza and I am sure it’s the same with my friend hope man.
I still don’t understand till now, what do they want to achieve by the continuance of violence .
Why they want to kill any chance of hope and peace ?
I wish I can get answer to my question.

Peace Man and Hope Man are both pushing for a complete cessation of violence for one month. No Qassam rockets going into Israel, no Israeli missiles or troops going into Gaza.

Please sign their petition. It won’t stop the violence, it won’t bring peace. That’s almost besides the point. The only hope for these two men, and their compatriots, is for us to show them that we stand with them (if virtually).

A BBC correspondent asked both men if they thought that they would see a day when they could meet for a cup of coffee. Each responded that they were hopeful, despite all of the fighting, that such a day would come. Let’s hope so too.

March 12, 2008 at 1:16 pm Leave a comment

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