Sunday, September 23, 2012

In denial?

Confirmation      Our endless apologies that followed misdeeds at Abu Ghraib failed to appease the Muslim world. So, too, American prisoners at Guantanamo Bay had become celebrities; many railed against their supposed mistreatment. Our leaders promised action, humbled themselves. We were sorry for what we had done to Muslim combatants.

Since many we have released have returned to their militant jihad, I’ve had to question the value of our self-flagellation; our persistent Muslim enemies have never followed our example with apologies or contrition.

In truth, our wrongdoings seldom match theirs. Acts that are so horrific can cause us to shut down and deny them. Such was the case with Jessica Lynch. [Jessica Lynch - Wikipedia, the free  encyclopedia "I was captured, but then I was OK -]

After being an Iraqi prisoner for a week, she was freed. But Jessica wasn’t O.K. Details from the Wikipedia article may cause some to wince: The authorized biography, I Am A Soldier Too: The Jessica Lynch Story, by Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist Rick Bragg states that Lynch had been raped in the three hours she was unconscious during her captivity, based on medical records and her pattern of injuries.[16] Lynch does not recall any sexual assault and was "adamantly opposed to including the rape claim in the book," but that Bragg wore her down and told her that "people need to know that this is what can happen to women soldiers".[17] [my emphasis]

Although I hadn’t expected to know any more about Jessica’s abuse, I was shocked to hear that it had been even worse. “When she was released, I was there,” a retired special ops soldier told me. “She had been brutally raped, although she’d claimed to have been unconscious. But that wasn’t the worst part.”

I wasn’t sure I wanted to hear what might have been worse. Scenes of torture in movies are too hard for me to watch; I braced for gruesome details.

“Her bed was positioned so that her window faced a soccer field goal post. Every day, under that goal post, one of the soldiers captured along with her was beheaded. Their remains were buried on the field near the goal posts. She watched as soccer was played on top of those makeshift graves.”

I shuddered. In my class, earlier that morning, my students and I had heard about CAIR (council on American Islamic Relations) and their ties to the Muslim Brotherhood. Speaking to us was the author of Muslim Mafia, David Gaubatz.

“Everything I’ve written [in the book] is based on documents taken from CAIR headquarters. Those are but a fraction of what we obtained. The remainder we gave to the FBI. In time, they will be returned to us.”

Then, Gaubatz assured me, there will be a second, perhaps even more revealing sequel. That made me wonder. Muslim Mafia had named Congressmen with ties to CAIR and had detailed their wrongdoings. “None of them have sued me,” he said. “They can’t. Everything I wrote came from the information we retrieved. All of it is documented.”

As if to emphasize that, Gaubatz mentioned what CAIR had stated when they challenged his right to publish details from the documents that his son, working undercover, hadn’t shredded as he’d been ordered to do by his CAIR supervisor. “In front of the judge, they said that those documents were theirs, not ours. That meant we didn’t have to prove to the judge the connection of those items to CAIR.”

As for the rest of the more than 11,000 documents, those may paint an even clearer picture of CAIR’s intentions regarding what has come to be known as their stealth jihad they share with the ikhwan, the Muslim Brotherhood.

By now, all of us, unless we are blocked by denial, should know what that is. It’s a form of civilizational jihad. Such words may be hard for some to read. Nonetheless, a researcher who works with Gaubatz sent this to me:

It's not that we haven't been given fair warning, either: the 1991 Explanatory Memorandum, in law enforcement hands since 2004 and widely available to the general public since the 2008 Holy Land Foundation HAMAS terror funding trial, states quite explicitly that the MB intends to "destroy the Western civilization from within" "by their [our] hands..."

Then they even provide a list of their organizations that were then already operating in the U.S. There are many thousands now.

Another document that's been in the hands of Western law enforcement/security for a long time now is the one called "The Project." This one was seized from the Swiss villa of key MB member Yousef Nada shortly after the attacks of 9/11.

It's another revealing look at exactly how the MB intends to conquer Western civilization - in stages, by a gradual, stepped process modeled after Sayyed Qutb's "Milestones," itself an essay about the original Muslims and in accord with Islamic doctrine on abrogation and progressive revelation.

So, the real take-away for us in the Egyptian example is that, while violent jihad historically is the preferred method for Islamic takeover, the stealth jihad can be even more insidious, and therefore dangerous, to societies unaccustomed to methods that turn their own freedoms and openness against them…

More than ever, it’s impossible for me not to think about what happened to Jessica Lynch while she was unconscious.

                   B. Koplen  9/23/12

   to read more of my articles and to subscribe to my blog, please go to:

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Hopeful signs?

 Making a better New Year   “It cost $1700! Just for that one short flight!” said the doctor sitting opposite me.  He was talking about a recent excursion and his thrilling ride in a refurbished B-25.

We were having lunch after Rosh Hashanah services at our para-Rabbi’s home.

“Same plane General Doolittle flew over Tokyo,” I commented.

“Yes,” he said, apparently somewhat surprised I knew that. “I love aviation history of World War Two. My Dad was a pilot.”

I’d known the doctor for years, but I hadn’t known that. “Doolittle thought he might be court-martialed,” I said, returning to the B-25 thread as the doctor fiddled with his cell phone.

“With good reason,” he said. “Billy Mitchell, a famous World War One aviator was court-martialed for a much less serious offense. He was pardoned posthumously.”

Others joined in and the conversation veered. I was about to get up when the doctor held his phone for me to see. “That’s my wife. She has her pilot’s license.” In the cockpit next to her was the pilot in charge of the B-25. “Here’s another,” he said.

He was glowing. So was I. For me, this was a good beginning to our Jewish New Year. Due to my having just finished a book on tape (actually, on CD’s) about Pearl Harbor, I’d picked up the facts that had led to a conversation I might have missed.

It had begun when I mentioned my friend’s book, Light One Candle, a Holocaust memoir. The doctor had responded by saying that he had lost family then. Minutes later, another doctor sat with us. He had blown the shofar at our service. And, a few years ago, he had made a presentation to my class about his mother’s niece, Anne Frank.

Yes, that Anne Frank. Along with stories, he brought family pictures that the Anne Frank museum wanted for their collection. My students and I were fascinated. After his presentation, I had no trouble getting them to read their assigned text, Solly Ganor’s Light One Candle.

Early this morning, I reflected on the many good things that book has brought to the lives of my students. For many of them, it has provided a missing perspective that has enabled them to rediscover meaning in their lives. I’d also thought about that as I was chatting with the two doctors.

All of us were connected thanks to our religious affiliation as well as by our ties to the Holocaust. All of us had lost relatives. Nonetheless, all of us seemed to have what appeared to be a deeper appreciation of the past, of the positive aspects of the struggle to find meaning, of the obvious value of sharing stories that brought us together. I had thought about that as I’d said goodbye to our Rabbi. He was at the luncheon too.

“I already know what I’m going to write about in response to your sermon,” I told him. He’d spoken about the complex aspects of the emotion-laden story of Abraham and Isaac that’s always told at the Jewish New Year service.

What Abraham’s story provides us is a platform for sharing diverse thoughts and seemingly unique stories, precious scraps of memories that can be woven into a profoundly beautiful quilt.

That picture struck me early this morning as I worked at editing Solly Ganor’s sequel to his Holocaust memoir. A few sentences caused me to pause. They connected me with comments my Dad had made about the Holocaust, a few years before he died.

Although I haven’t asked Solly’s permission, I believe he won’t mind that I share them with you. They are offered as unexpected lessons, insights gained from even extreme duress if we’re willing to step back from the thought of such things as Abraham’s knife at Isaac’s throat.

When Solly, three days after liberation, met American soldiers who were surprised he could speak their language, he told stories about the concentration camps for the first time to non-prisoners. They were awed and humbled by what they heard.

“ We heard that the Krauts were persecuting the Jews, but what you are telling us is simply too horrible to comprehend. Nobody has told us anything.” They were astonished… There was a long silence, then one of them said, “Jesus Christ! I have never heard anything more horrifying. I always believed that no war can be justified, but your story proved me wrong. And yes, I must admit that this war was fully justified.”

I think it’s justifiable that I believe the story of Abraham teaches that we have so many reasons for trying to make this a much better New Year.

                                                     B. Koplen 9/18/12

   to read more of my articles and to subscribe to my blog, please go to:

Sunday, September 16, 2012

good old days?

Full circle         Usually, I hesitate to write about history with a poet’s passion. But I want to do that now.

“No one showed, so I’ll take my daughters out to dinner,” said the black Councilman, a tall and personable man I’d known and respected for 15 years. Although the block party that had barricaded our short street since 3:00 p.m. had been bad for business, as a political rally, it had come and gone like an empty bandwagon. Other than a handful who’d come to hear a stellar (and local!) rap artist, only the organizers and their coterie attended. It proved a perfect day to play basketball in the middle of Union Street.

Even so, a few found their way into our store. One was a long time customer, Steve, who had moved to Hillsborough. I showed him changes that are in the works, new construction and renovation that will literally change the momentum of our city. He was shocked.

And I was about to be. Two women walked into our store. I assumed they’d come from the rally. That wasn’t the case; they’d come to see me. I knew one of the women. She was the title search wizard at the bank across the street. “My friend wants to rent one of the offices in your building next door,” she said.

Impressed with our renovation of that building, I suggested a tour of my apartment, “Upstairs,” I pointed. Only the banker had time.

She loved it. “I’m from New Jersey,” she said. “This is like something I might see up there. I want to see this in all of these buildings.”

Downstairs, our conversation shifted. We talked about the Civil Rights Era when she her family had lived in Danville. “That’s why my parents left,” she said. “I grew up away from events like Bloody Monday.” She explained that her parents didn’t want her to grow up afraid of the harm segregation might cause. Although she would come to know that her parents regretted the limitations placed on blacks in southern Virginia, she grew up knowing little about the denial of civil rights in the south.

“But when I started working at the bank, I learned about Maceo Martin. His daughter works in our bank!” She was excited. “She has so many stories to tell.”

I wanted to hear them, especially because, although my family was in the middle of that Civil Rights Era in Danville, I didn’t know the man. “Maceo was a visionary. His daughter told me about the time when she was ten years old. Her father told her to get on the city bus and to sit in the front. She loved her father so she did what he said to do.”

I was intrigued. Maceo had instructed his daughter to be polite, not to argue. He’d explained that she might not be allowed to ride the bus if she sat in the front seat. If so, she was to leave the bus, then walk to his bank, not many blocks from where she got on the bus.

“The driver refused to move the bus, said he wouldn’t go unless she sat in back. She told him she was comfortable sitting right where she was. He asked her three times. Each time she refused. Then he called the police. A policeman came and escorted her off the bus.”

From there, she walked to her Dad’s office at the bank. “She was afraid,” the banker told me. “But she did what her Dad told her to do.”

I wanted to hear more, asked whether I could meet Maceo’s daughter. Then I mentioned my Dad and his Civil Rights work, that he had the first integrated staff in Danville. We talked about that for a while, about Rev. Lawrence Campbell and his sons.

“When it was my turn,” I said, “I tried to integrate one of the area’s private golf courses.” Briefly, I explained how I had secured a share of stock for a black realtor who was an avid golfer.

When I mentioned his name, she was surprised as if I’d just called out her lottery ticket number. A moment later, she explained why.

“Of course, I know him. He was married to Maceo’s daughter!”

                                    B. Koplen 9/16/12
   to read more of my articles and to subscribe to my blog, please go to:

about Maceo Martin:
In 1948, Maceo Martin, an African American from Danville, Va., tried to enter Staunton River State Park and was refused.
…Maceo Martin, an African American from Danville, Va., tried to enter Staunton River State Park and was refused. Martin subsequently filed suit against the Virginia Conservation Commission, to test the validity of the commission’s policy of not providing overnight facilities in state parks for persons of color. According to the Board of Conservation and Development minutes of Dec. 2, 1948, the commission “desiring to provide comparable facilities for the Negroes…decided to expand the facilities of the Negro recreational area in Prince Edward County.” …in 1950, keeping with the separate but equal doctrine, Virginia opened Prince Edward State Park for Negroes, with facilities comparable to those in other state parks…eight Virginia state parks, however, continued to operate under a policy of racial segregation.

Sunday, September 9, 2012

an improbable win!

Said who?             I couldn’t think of a better place to sort through the stack of ideas I’d been trying to make sense of.

“I’ve got a ticket if you want it. Why don’t you meet us in Charlottesville?” My friend Alan mentioned that UVa was playing Penn State. Without realizing it, Alan had answered my question about where to find a good place to think. Watching UVa football, I figured, wouldn’t interfere with that.

Part of what I wanted to resolve concerned my feelings about an almost heated conversation with my Rabbi the night before. Although he and I had never before touched on politics, I’d seen him as being open minded and very bright, surely someone who was willing to share conflicting and highly charged ideas.

At least I’d hoped so after hearing him mention Avraham Burg’s book, The Holocaust is Over; We Must Rise From Its Ashes. As if challenging me with his affirming synopsis, I looked forward to a friendly confrontation at our oneg after services.

Instead of a pleasant tete`-a-tete, we wrestled with the notion that, if Israel was only more willing, the Occupation of Palestinian territories would end and there would be peace. According to him, Netanyahu was the wrong man for that job.

Not one to insult our Rabbi, I suggested that Burg was naïve. Indeed, I remarked about reading articles from the left leaning Haaretz newspaper in Israel for information about that viewpoint rather than saying that our Rabbi leaned that way too.

He wasn’t so reluctant. “They want peace,” he said, speaking of the Palestinians.

Some do; in Israel, I met a few of those who did, many more who still thought of Israel’s existence as being the result of the naqba, the Disaster. But that was’nt the problem.

His assertion about peace caused me to think of Daniel Barenboim, the brilliant conductor, and his close friend, Edward Said. In their book, on page 181 of Parallels and Paradoxes, Explorations in Music and Society (ISBN: 1-4000-7515-7), Said writes:

…it has been a foolish and wasteful policy for so many years to use phrases like “the Zionist entity” and completely refuse to understand and analyze Israel and Israelis on the grounds that their existence must be denied because they caused the Palestinian nakba…we too have to go beyond such idiocies as saying that the Holocaust never took place, and that Israelis are all, man, woman, and child, doomed to our eternal enmity and hostility…

What troubled me about Said’s remarks has little to do with his words and their good intent. Actually, they were published in Al-Hayat also. [Al-Hayat - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia Al-Hayat (Arabic: الحياة ‎ "Life") is one of the leading daily pan-Arab newspapers… -]

Although Said considered himself a Palestinian, he and his family were Egyptians, Egyptian Christians to be exact. Had Said been alive to attend with me (Jewish like Daniel Barenboim) the Palestinian Solidarity Movement conference at Duke University in 2004, [Duke News & Communications | Palestine Solidarity Movement ...
On Oct. 15-17, 2004, the Palestine Solidarity Movement (PSM) held its national conference at Duke University, –], he would have witnessed it as the hatefest that it was. A seething ISM was an active presence there, too active and too dangerous (I thought) for anyone like Said. [please see: FrontPage Magazine - The ISM at Duke: The Saga Continues
Opponents of the PSM conference at Duke brought the ISM’s violent agenda to the attention of Duke President Dick Brodhead and his Vice President, John Burness. ]

Without reservation, they joined the PSM in promoting Israel as murderous. T-shirts and pamphlets condemning Israel for the ‘massacres’ in Deir Yassin and Jenin were for sale on tables that lined the walls of the auditorium. Rachael Corrie memorabilia (more T-shirts) were everywhere; she was the hero they rallied around just before speakers from a Presbyterian wing explained why a boycott of companies doing business with Israel was essential. [please see: Palestine Solidarity Movement Conference Speakers Attack ...
... activists and speakers from around the United States and abroad converged on Duke University in ... Palestine Solidarity Movement Conference Speakers Attack Israel. Anti ...]

Conference handbooks, available only to those who had registered early, listed available workshops. One of those taught how to take over college newspapers for propaganda purposes. What they were supposedly promoting, according to Duke President Broadhead, was dialogue. Instead, their agenda was that of Arafat-led Muslims who wanted to destroy Israel and its Jews.

As a Christian Arab, Edward Said apparently didn’t understand that he was being used by the ruling generation of Muslim Arabs; they didn’t seek peace, at least not the same one he did. Like our Rabbi, Said assumed (I think) that Arafat’s Palestinians worshipped the same ethical God as my Rabbi’s, the same love-thy-neighbor God as Said’s.

But that wasn’t the case. Suras in the Koran say as much (please see: True Orthodox Polemics - “Peaceful” Statements of Islam– Strike terror (in the hearts of) the enemies of Allah... SURA 9:14 – Fight (kill) them (non-Muslims ... and are still considered non negotiable by those Palestinians in charge of Gaza and the West Bank.

And that’s a huge problem, especially with regards to Burg’s thesis. People who don’t want cooperation and friendship aren’t going to be swayed by people who do,
good-hearted people like our Rabbi.

“He won’t believe that,” I told myself. It was time to stop thinking, time to return my stare to the 50-yard line and the scoreboard. With less than four minutes remaining in what had been a rag-tag game at best, Virginia, ten point favorites, were down by six, 16-10. And it had started to rain.

“It’s not worth getting soaked,” I told Alan and his wife, Judy. I headed for the concession stand, its concrete overhang, and its monitor. In disbelief, I saw a Virginia receiver made a spectacular 30-plus yard catch. With a minute and half left, the same young man caught the touchdown pass that set up the winning point after kick.

Few had left the stands despite the rain. To their delight, they watched as Penn State’s kicker missed a field goal attempt to end the game. Virginia had won, 17-16! I cheered, clapped for the Cavaliers with my dry hands.

How would I best describe the day? I wanted an image to help with that. As I waved goodbye to my hosts, I decided to go to a store that resembled a huge bazaar; it looked like an unruly Wal Mart. On that strange day, I found what I wanted and carried it to the cashier.

I tried not to stare. I wasn’t sure of the cashier’s gender. Was that a dress or a kind of black robe? In addition to lip piercings, rings that looked like body armor decorated each finger. Very long bangs in front were a much different color than the mottled gold and brown hair, closely cropped, on top. As for the forehead tattoo that spidered down past the temples, I was struck by the fact that they seemed permanent. A second later, I saw hairy arms, much like mine.

“Do you sell bottled water?” I asked.

“Yes!” he said. His voice was kind and helpful.

I must admit that I wasn’t sure what to expect.

Then I looked outside. The sun had returned. I hadn’t expected that either.

                                                                     B. Koplen 9/9/12

   to read more of my articles and to subscribe to my blog, please go to: