Monday, August 21, 2006

Letter to Farah

Heres is a piece of correspondence written to a dear friend of mine from Philadelphia who went to Lebanon to help the civilians there. We used to march together at peace gatherings.
Her letter to me is on the comment on the previous post.
Hey Love,
Two quick prefaces;
1) I hate Political squabbling, I'd rather play guitar.
2) I hate war and my yearning for peace has never been stronger in my life.

But in the name of Truth finding, I'll share my perspective.

I was sitting on a porch, playing guitar, and some people started throwing explosive missiles at me.The people who threw the missiles at me got the missiles and learned how to throw them at me from a place called Iran, who has a very popularly elected by the people for the people president, who openly proclaims;

"Israel must be wiped off the map,"

"There is no doubt that the new wave (of attacks) in Palestine will soon wipe off this disgraceful blot (Israel) from the face of the Islamic world."

"Holocaust was a myth"

(I was surprised when I looked over your blog to see a speech of his. He doesn't seem like a peace-maker)

So I ask myself, what should Israel have done? Let these people, who dream of our destruction, destroy me and this country? Is that peace? At what point do we start defending ourselves? How many Jews have to die before we're allowed to defend our right to exist? In WWII no one stood up for us until 6 million of my ancestors were reduced to human ash.

Conversely, the Israelis aren't trying to kill civilians, that's why they pirated radio stations and dropped tens of thousands of flyers in southern Lebanon warning civilians to leave town. And that's why the Govt sent in ground troops instead of more bigger bombings, to distinguish civilian from war-maker (Guerilla). No one here dances in the streets and passes out candy when news of Lebanese civilian deaths come through the radio. Hizbolah aims at hospitals. On the Sabbath, they would aim at the old city where the Jews where gathered. I know this for a fact as I was there hiding in a shelter. The people shooting missiles at me were shooting them from civilian houses and even from mosques. That's why they were targeted.

You say this was a war over land, but Israel already gave Lebanon the land she wanted? Gaza was given and still missiles fall every day. The main agenda and platform of this current Israeli government was to hand over land... So why would an army attack a nation in the middle of handing over huge tracts of land? Whats the truth? I personally believe the publicly elected president of Iran (and check signer of the missiles that were thrown at me) who brazenly proclaims he wants the total destruction of Israel.

If Israel put down her weapons, she would instantly be destroyed. If Israel's enemies put down their weapons, there would be peace. No invasions, no annihilations.

These are the truths I have found. I hope there is something big that I missed, and that there was some other way to stop these people from trying to kill us/me here.

I love you and wish both of us peace and clarity and a day where we can sit on the stoop in West Philadelphia and play some music without a nag in the back of our minds of our fellow humans plight on the other side of the globe, because it won't exist.

Love Jer (Fellow human planet walker)


Anonymous ng said...

With heavy saddness in each cell of my body, i thank you both, Farah and Jer, for seeking truth and sharing it to the best of your human ability. I appreciate your words far more than anything broadcast on NPR, CNN, Fox, ABC, etc. Each of your perspectives is SO important. No easy answers can be found. No easy solutions. Nothing easy. Pain and anger. I am sorry humans do this to one another. I pray to all of existence, that you two will, amidst the mess, become microcosms of peacefullness.

1:05 AM  
Blogger Farah Marie Mokhtareizadeh said...

Hi Jer,

Thanks for your post.

I think our dialogue is helpful to me and to others seeking to know how to interact with and respond to human tragedies like this war. It is even very interesting that the cosmos had us both in this part of the world, yet seemingly miles away from one another.

I will continue this dialogue as I started it in a public way and hope it is useful and not hurtful to stay open and public about it.

On your first two points:

1) I agree, though I don’t really know how to play the guitar
2) Yes, yes yes – me too.

A little context on why I put up the letter by Iran’s President. I believe that the US government, certain members, desire to create “a new middle east” which includes setting up a puppet government in Iran. History teaches us that this has happened in the past, the most blatant case was when Eisenhower organized a coup in 1953 of democratically elected and very popular secular leader Mohammed Mosadeque – the coup’s premise was to stop the spread of communism. When I was doing an 18-day fast last year in front of the UN in Geneva asking for the basic economic human rights of Iraqis I spent an afternoon with Abdul Mosadeque (Mohammed Mosadeque’s grandson).

The result of the coup was US/UK-friendly yet hugely oppressive government of Reza Shah – I believe the Shah’s “reign of terror” helped to sow seeds that led to the oppressive theocratic dictatorship of Khomeini in 1979 which ended all relationships between the US and Iran.

The current Iranian president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad was NOT popularly elected because he hates Jews (in all honesty he wasn’t really popularly elected), but because of the growing economic disparities in Iran, the geopolitical and religious results of the Iraq war, and also thanks to the “influence” of certain hard-line militias like the Revolutionary Guard and the Basij. Iran as we all know is not a free society, speaking out against the government will get you put in jail or killed this is a working reality in the lives of Iranians living in Iran.

What is also true is that there are approximately 60,000 Iranian, Jews in Iran – they do suffer discrimination, but they are NOT being taken out into the streets of Tehran and executed. I believe this is an important point because it separates the argument or perhaps clarifies – opposition to the state of Israel does not equal hatred of Jews. Opposition to the ways Israel operates through military and economic intimidation does not equal for me a belief that it should not exist. I believe it has the right to exist and exist peacefully. Likewise I believe Lebanon and Palestine have the right to exist and exist peacefully.

I put the letter from the President of Iran to George Bush up mainly because I believe that many Americans do not have great access to a wide range of views in the media. I put it up to give folks who might read my blog another perspective. I think that if we want to understand an “enemy” than we have to know that enemy – I’d like to believe that people aren’t just naturally inclined to hatred but that they are conditioned in a myopic sense of reality and the result is hatred. I certainly do not agree with Ahmadinejad’s words about “wiping Israel off the map” or that the holocaust was a hoax, but if I had the opportunity to ask him why he thinks these things than I certainly would. Similarly, I have found it useful to speak to members of Hezbollah about their views, aims and reasons for creating war against Israel. Let me also say that the members of my group that met with a Hezbollah leader challenged him and courageously suggested that the war the Hezbollah fought against Israel was not right and that it certainly will lead to more violence. We told him that we believe that using weapons against Israeli civilians is wrong no matter what the IDF has done. He explained that Hezbollah wasn’t created just to hate the nation of Israel, but was created to defend the rights of Lebanese in the South. Like you, many members of Hezbollah told me that if Israel put down its arms so would Hezbollah and everyone would live in peace. Please God may this be true some day.

“The worst crimes were dared by a few, willed by more and tolerated by all.” – Tacitus

With that said I want to say these few more things . . . you said,

“So I ask myself, what should Israel have done? Let these people, who dream of our destruction, destroy me and this country? Is that peace? At what point do we start defending ourselves? How many Jews have to die before we're allowed to defend our right to exist? In WWII no one stood up for us until 6 million of my ancestors were reduced to human ash.”

Peace is contructed, not fought for.

In the “six day war” in the 1960’s (1967?) Israel pretty much anniliated most of the armies of all its neighbors. Israel has enormous military strength backed-up by the US which has the largest military-industrial complex in the world – in fact a huge percentage of the US economy is based on weapons manufactoring and sales – billions of US tax dollars go to Israel’s build up of its military machine. Hezbollah, Syria and Iran in comparison and just on a sort of rational level could not destroy Israel militarial even if they wanted to – combined they don’t have half the strength.

The war Israel waged in Lebanon, although sold as a war against a terrorist organization called Hezbollah, was in form, a war against civilians, a war against poor Shia Muslims from the South.

I’d call this war, without reservation, ethnic cleansing.

Hezbollah opperates in Lebanon as more than just a guerilla militia and that militia is only about 500 – 600 fighters large. It also operates as a social welfare organization and political party. I am not saying Hezbollah is good because it reaches out to poor Lebanese folk, but what I am trying to point out is that a war against “Hezbollah” isn’t very cut and dry – its not like fighting an army – the majority of Hezbollah is not a part of the militia, Hezbollah operates very differently from lets say Al Quaida. We can’t necessarily say all of Hezbollah and its supportors and sympathizers are terrorists or bent on destruction of the Jews – that is over simplified and simply not true. Hezbollah fighters captured and later killed 2 Israeli soldiers. This was wrong, but this was not a massive war against Israel or the Jews. We all know what transpired as the war escalated – in northern Israel you saw nearly 40 people killed and loads had to in shelters to avoid being killed by thousands of missiles being fired at you by Hezbollah fighters.

Here, the building I was meeting with other Lebanses young folk in shook when 600-pound bombs, dropped a 15 minute car ride away from us. Members of our group watched as Mothers pulled their children from the rubble as surprise attacks on apartment buildings in Southern Beirut killed scores of civilians – in one area in the Shyah district three apartment buildings were bombed by surprise killing 48 people.

In Soultineyeh the village I was staying in while visiting Southern Lebanon my friend and fellow traveler, Ramzi Kysia, asked for our driver to stop the car as he spotted something suspicious in the road. Five feet in front of us were two cluster bombs sitting in the middle of the road. Had Ramzi perhaps not been in war zones before (he was a part of the Iraq Peace Team with me) or had decided against stopping the car because he couldn’t quite make out the strange objects I may not be writing these words to you now – I believe he saved our lives. Later that evening, when we returned to the house where we were staying we found four more of such “unexploded ordinance” around the garden outside the house – these bombs were rush shipped over to Israel by the US to aid in its offensive. These sorts of weapons kill indiscriminately and 10% are designed to to explode on impact so that they might “serve” as land mines.

Early the next morning we visited Qana, we visited family members of the children that were killed in home hit around the 30th of July. While we were there we could hear the unmaned drone Israeli survalience plane over head constantly taking pictures of what is happening on the ground.

The Mother of one young boy that was killed, six-year-old Zeineb, told Kathy and I that she had seen the Israeli planes many times, and the Israeli planes can see her. The pilots of these planes fly close to the ground, not high up in the sky. Zeineb’s Mother explained that the pilots knew what they were attacking when they hit the Qana bomb shelter causing the internal organs of the small children sleeping inside to explode, killing them. There are many stories like this in villages all across Southern Lebanon. I believe you have heard many stories like this across Israel too. We will not learn to live together in peace by killing each other’s children.

“How many Jews have to die before we're allowed to defend our right to exist?”

Hezbollah (and lets just say all of Lebanon) is not an existential threat to Israel. Let’s not confuse ourselves and compare the slaughter of the Jews in the Holocaust as the same thing as what is happening here because I believe if we do that we really loose touch with the reality of this situation and with our ability to find roads for peace – poor Shia’s from the south of lebanon can not be punished for war crimes committed against Jews in WWII. Nor should a state created in the aftermath of such gruesome, unjust, disgusting and horrific slaughter use similar means to impose its will for if Israel goes down that road (and it has) there was nothing redemptive, nothing learned by it or by any of us and we shall continue to perpetuate that sort of inhumanity in our world. Let us, please God, chose another way.


The remnants of this war’s wreckage, ash and dust, I wear as death’s vestiges, a reminder of what I have seen and heard. I will never forget, and I will never stop working for peace for us all . . .

Oh my name it is nothin'
My age it means less
The country I come from
Is called the Midwest
I's taught and brought up there
The laws to abide
And that land that I live in
Has God on its side.

Oh the history books tell it
They tell it so well
The cavalries charged
The Indians fell
The cavalries charged
The Indians died
Oh the country was young
With God on its side.

Oh the Spanish-American
War had its day
And the Civil War too
Was soon laid away
And the names of the heroes
I's made to memorize
With guns in their hands
And God on their side.

Oh the First World War, boys
It closed out its fate
The reason for fighting
I never got straight
But I learned to accept it
Accept it with pride
For you don't count the dead
When God's on your side.

When the Second World War
Came to an end
We forgave the Germans
And we were friends
Though they murdered six million
In the ovens they fried
The Germans now too
Have God on their side.

I've learned to hate Russians
All through my whole life
If another war starts
It's them we must fight
To hate them and fear them
To run and to hide
And accept it all bravely
With God on my side.

But now we got weapons
Of the chemical dust
If fire them we're forced to
Then fire them we must
One push of the button
And a shot the world wide
And you never ask questions
When God's on your side.

In a many dark hour
I've been thinkin' about this
That Jesus Christ
Was betrayed by a kiss
But I can't think for you
You'll have to decide
Whether Judas Iscariot
Had God on his side.

So now as I'm leavin'
I'm weary as Hell
The confusion I'm feelin'
Ain't no tongue can tell
The words fill my head
And fall to the floor
If God's on our side
He'll stop the next war.

3:53 PM  

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