Tuesday, August 29, 2006

The In T View: The Man I'm Named After

Update: Thanks to our sharp eagle-eyed readers for pointing it out, that it
was indeed the wrong photo for the story. After conferring with my father,
it seems that the picture was likely mislabled by my grandmother years ago,
and is a photo of another relative who served in WWII. And more information,
I just found out, the Man I'm Named After has a living brother, so that part of the post has been corrected too. My Apologies for the flaws, it just goes to show how hard it is to accurately portray events that took place more than Sixty years ago.


Who knows when that day will come, when we are called upon to make the ultimate sacrifice.


Commander of a Sherman Tank...The Battle of the Bulge... My Father's Cousin... The Man I'm Named After.

I was named after my father's cousin, who died during the Battle of the Bulge, in World War II in the Ardennes region of Luxembourg.

The Man I'm Named After: His Parents are long gone, he left no children, his friends breathe no more...

Who could I turn to, to learn more about him? He existed and passed long before my time.

I was forced to cobble together rememberances of him, from the only source available to me, my elderly father, who has four more decades of existence beyond mine.

My father told me, "You're asking me about something that happened 62 years ago."

But ask I did, and thus the In T View begins...

MG: What was he doing before the war?

MG's Père: Before the war, he owned a gas station on Acushnet Avenue in New Bedford. (MG: New Bedford, Massachusetts , the famous Whaling City - Ishmael sailed from there in Melville's Moby Dick.)

MG: How old was he when he enlisted?

MG's Père: He was drafted. (He) must have been 18 or 19, maybe older, when he went in... I was 17 at the time.

MG: What rank did he hold in the service?

MG's Père: He was a Sergeant in the tank corps.


Sherman Tank photo - Courtesy Wikipedia


MG: What type of tank was he in?

MG's Père: He commanded a Sherman tank.

MG: What type of tank were the Germans using against the Americans?

MG's Père: Tigers.

MG: What Division was he attached to?

MG's Père: I think he was in the 3rd Armored Division.

MG: Was that Patton's Army?

MG's Père: He was there before Patton got there...It must have been the 7th
(Armored Division)...I can't remember everything back then. (MG says: May have been the 9th Armoured Division, since they were located in Luxembourg at the beginning of the Battle of the Bulge.)


The Ardennes: The Day Before The Battle Of The Bulge


MG: What battle was he killed in?

MG's Père: The Battle of the Bulge. He was in Luxembourg.

MG: How did he die?

MG's Père: He was in his tank near a farmhouse in Luxembourg in the Ardennes. He was outgunned by the Germans in their Tiger tanks. They pretty much just chewed up the Shermans... their tank was shot to hell (hit by a shell). He came out of the tank and surrendered...he couldn't fight no more...his leg was pretty well mangled...He surrendered, but the Germans shot him. They didn't take no prisoners, I guess.

(MG Says: In the Battle of the Bulge which took place between December 16, 1944 and January 25, 1945, there were 80,987 American casualties including 10,276 killed.)

MG: And the other members of his tank crew?

MG's Père: Three were killed instantly in the tank, when the shell hit. Another guy got out with my cousin, don't know what happened to him, machine-gunned too, I guess.

MG: In the past, you talked about the actions of a farm girl in connection with your cousin's death - Can you tell us about her?

MG's Père: My cousin was killed near a farmhouse in Luxembourg, as I said before. The farmer and his young daughter came out to the battlefield afterwards, and took his body and buried him on their land. The girl had his wallet and other information, so she wrote a letter to my Aunt.

My Aunt and Uncle went over to Luxembourg, and they sort of adopted the girl. My Aunt brought the girl back to the United States to help with her education. She got married in the U.S. and lived in New Bedford. I use to know her name, but can't remember anymore.

MG: Where is his final resting place?

MG's Père: His mother had his body brought to the United States. He's buried in the New Bedford Catholic Cemetery.

Epilogue: There are times when I think, the man I'm named after was me in a former life. I seem to get emotional about a man I never knew, and have dreams of Germans, and saying I forgive you...


Tuesday, August 22, 2006

August 22, 2006: Surfing Into The Apocalypse


Whoa by Dozens - Flickr


If you want to have good relations with the Iranian people in the future, you should acknowledge the right and the might of the Iranian people, and you should bow and surrender to the might of the Iranian people. If you do not accept this, the Iranian people will force you to bow and surrender.

Via MEMRITV


The above verbose words are from everyone's favorite Messianic leader, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad of Iran, of whom, Joel C. Rosenberg informs us in the National Review is:

a devout Shiite Muslim...telling colleagues in Tehran that he believes the end of the world is rapidly approaching. He also believes that the way to hasten the coming of the Islamic Messiah known as the "Hidden Imam" or the "Mahdi" is to launch a catastrophic global jihad, first against Israel (the "little Satan") and then against the U.S. (the "Great Satan").

Certainly, Ahmadinejad and the Iranian Religious Theocracy are challenging the West with their rhetoric, their continuing quest to become a nuclear power, their long term involvement in state sponsored terrorism, most recently seen with Hezb'allah's actions in Lebanon, and their continued threats to wipe Israel off the map and in to the sea.

And now it is August 22, the day of destiny, which Robert Spencer writing at Front Page Magazine notes:

is known in the Islamic calendar as the Night of the Sira'a and Miira'aj, the night Prophet Mohammed (saas) ascended to heaven from the Aqsa Mosque in Jerusalem on a Bourak (Half animal, half man), while a great light lit-up the night sky, and visited Heaven and Hell also Beit al-Saada and Beit al-Shaqaa (House of Happiness and House of Misery) and then descended back to Mecca.…"

The Night Journey, or Miraj, is central to Islam's claim to Jerusalem as an Islamic holy city. According to Islamic tradition, Muhammad was carried on a Buraq, a miraculous horse with a human head, from Mecca to Jerusalem, where he ascended into heaven and met the other prophets.


Therefor, it was assumed that if Iran carried out any sort of strike especially against Jerusalem or Israel, today August 22nd would be a propitious date to engage in such malevolent tomfoolery. And the theories abounded, over what Ahmadinejad and the Mad Mullahs might do. Yet, not much has happened to indicate any sort of apocalypse.

True, Israeli Radio has broadcast that Minister Eitan has said, Prepare bomb-shelters for possible confrontation with Iran., and the Iranians have fired upon and captured a Romanian oil platform in the Persian Gulf. Perhaps of a more ominous nature, the Iraninans are confiscating large numbers of satellite dishes from their citizenry, and Iran's military is conducting Operation "Zolfaghar Blow", named after the two-point sword of Ali, the cousin and son-in-law of the Prophet Mohammed which involves Twelve army divisions along with air and naval forces and missile units...

Ahhh Twelve, there's that magic number again, and not surprising since, it is the Twelfth Imam that Mahmoud Ahmadinejad is desperately trying to re-incarnate from his hiding place in the well at the Iranian holy city of Qom, or perhaps the Mahdi is located in Iraq:

In this context, you can realise the significance of the bombing of the Askari shrine in Samarra last February for the Shia masses, especially if you know that the basement adjacent to the shrine is where Imam Al-Mahdi was known to have disappeared during the 9th century, and is where he is believed to rise again.


Wherever the Mahdi is located these days in his occulted state, it's clear the Iranians are stalling for time to complete their nuclear program.

And we hold the following truths to be self-evident, Iran can not be allowed to develop nuclear weapons. If they do, we will see a massive hyperproliferation of nukes in the Middle East.

The Saudis, frightened out of their wits by a Shia Regime seeking to usurp their authority in the Kingdom and Mecca will cut a deal with Pakistan for nuclear technology; Syria meanwhile will receive whatever nuclear largesse Iran can spare; the Yemenis are completely insane, God knows what they'll do; the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt will scream like dervishes on fire in demand for weapons to take out the hated Jews.

And the terrorist groups! Imagine Hezb'allah or Hamas with nukes. And could anyone trust the Saudis not to deliver such weapons to al Qaeda, since the Royal Family is populated with a plethora of princes and princesses sympathetic and supportive of Wahabbiest Terrorism?

Truly, then, we really will be surfing in to the apocalypse.


Wednesday, August 16, 2006

Jill Carroll Kidnapping Investigation Yields New Information on Other Abductions

Jill Carroll's eleven-part account of her kidnapping can be read here.

Jill was a freelance journalist for the Christian Science Monitor who was kidnapped last January after a failed meeting with Adnan al-Dulaimi, head of the Sunni Arab-majority Accord Front party. Her Iraqi translator, Alan Enwiya, was murdered in the street during the kidnapping. Her driver, Adnan Abbas, "escaped." Her abduction was mourned and followed by various Iraqi bloggers such as Fayrouz and 24 Steps To Liberty. She was released in 82 days later in late March, and some suspected abductors have recently been arrested.

It is rumored that Carroll is an "an extreme liberal" who, when writing for the University of Massachusetts newspaper, would spell "America" as "Amerikkka". Note: I will highlight the leftist credentials of the people kidnapped by the "Resistance" in this post. I do this to point out that the enemy does not differentiate between members of the political Left or Right. We're all infidels and occupiers here: westerners, journalists, marines, Iraqi police, Iraq elected representatives.

Regarding the arrest of four men suspected of involvement in her kidnapping, see HERE here here here

Kidnappers involved in other kidnappings?

In a related article, the Christian Science Monitor is reporting on evidence that American reporter Jill Carroll's abductors might have participated in other high profile abductions:

Hassan was a Care International representative and wife of an Sunni Iraqi. At the time of her kidnapping, she was heading a project to help Iraqi children get treatment for spinal chord injuries. After her abduction, CARE International suspended all operations in Iraq which has still not been revoked. Her body was recovered in Fallujah in 2004 during the invasion to flush that nest of scorpions.

More information on her here, here, here, here

Here is a Guardian article on two men tried for involvement in her abduction and murder. One of the men, who was eventually sentenced to life in prison, had Hassan's personal belongings with him.

Sgrena is an Italian journalist for the communist rag Il Manifesto. A ransom of some multi-millions of dollars was paid for her release. She was collected by two members of Italy's military intelligence agency SISMI, one of whom was Nicola Calipari. The CSM article reports that the kidnappers warned her and Calipari "be careful: the Americans don't want you to return to Italy alive". Then, after they left, the terrorists made an anonymous tip that a car matching the Italians' was on the way to the airport and had a bomb. The car was fired on by US troops when it failed to stop when signaled to. Calipari was killed and Sgrena was injured.

Carroll's abductors also warned her that the Americans would try to kill her.

More on Sgrena here.

He and his fellow members of the left-wing Christian Peacemakers Team were abducted while approaching a mosque for a planned meeting with members of the (Sunni religious) Muslim Clerics Association (similar to Jill Carroll's abduction). Tom Fox was executed by a gun shot to his head and chest and his body was left in a garbage dump. His fellow team members were rescued from a house in Mishahda by American and Iraqi forces. CPT initially deferred offering any gratitude to the forces that rescued the team members.

More on Tom Fox here, here, here

Aubenas was a Belgian journalist for the French newpaper Libération. She and her translator (Hussein Hanoun Al-Saadi) were kidnapped after they interviewed Sunni refugees from Fallujah at the Mustafa Mosque. They were both released six months later after (reportedly) the payment of a multi-million dollar ransom.

More on Aubenas here, here

About Sheikh Zubayi

Aside from other similarities in the kidnappings, they all seem connected in the person of the Iraqi Arab Sunni Sheikh Zubayi. As the CSM article states:

Sheikh Zubayi is a wealthy Baghdad cleric. Until last year, he was also a member of the Muslim Scholars Association, a hard-line Sunni group that was involved in both successful and unsuccessful ransom negotiations for foreign hostages in 2004. He's been in hiding since shortly after the Sgrena kidnapping.

Iraqi police investigators and prosecutors, as well as the Italian government, say captured insurgents have told them that Zubayi was involved in the Aubenas and Sgrena abductions, as well as with the kidnapping and murder of Hassan.

In early June, a minor figure in the Hassan kidnapping, Mustafa Salman al-Jibouri, was sentenced to life in prison by a Baghdad court. At his trial, Mr. Jibouri said that Zubayi gave him a bag containing Hassan's purse and ID cards for safekeeping. Jibouri said in his defense that he didn't know they were Hassan's at the time.

Jibouri's court statements, and an interview with the Iraqi prosecutor in the case, paint Zubayi's role as that of a ruthless and mercurial individual, determined to squeeze as much propaganda value as possible out of his kidnapping operations. Jibouri also said in court that Zubayi was involved in Aubenas's and Sgrena's kidnapping.

It is still not clear from the CSM articles whether or not Zubayi is "Abdullah Rashid", the man Carroll identified as the leader of her kidnappers.


Kidnappers "worshipped" Zarqawi

In an interview with ABCNews Carroll says that her kidnappers "worshipped" Zarqawi:

"The main captor during all these interviews I would do was anxious to tell me about this. He told me his name was Abdullah Rashid," she said. "He said he had helped form this council … in Iraq that brought together some of the main Sunni insurgent groups, and he was the head of it. One of those groups in that council was al Qaeda and Zarqawi."

She was held from Jan. 7 through March 30, months before Abu Musab al-Zarqawi was killed in Iraq. Her captors told her that Zarqawi had inspired them.

"Al Qaeda and the whole idea of global jihad was their real overachieving motivation and ideological guide. And they loved Zarqawi. He was … a superhero to them," Carroll said. "They all worshipped him…They would play his sermons for me all the time. … I would hear them talk about this council, and the council was always meeting and making decisions about things … regarding me."

Now that Zarqawi is dead, Carroll said, Rashid is a "powerful" insurgent.

.


The Art Of Human Spirit

He lost his arms in Iraq, now he paints with his heart and wants to help others...



Injured soldier Peter Damon works on one of his pastel paintings... Photo courtesy of Brockton Enterprise


Peter Damon, a former Sergeant in the National Guard, had a less than pleasant experience while serving in Iraq. While working on a Blackhawk Helicopter in 2003, the former electrician lost both his arms, and saw his military buddy from Alabama, Paul Bueche killed, after a tire on the helicopter exploded.

The explosion created a world of hurt for Damon, necessitating his removal from Iraq and a lengthy rehabilitation at the Walter Reed Army Medical Center in Maryland, where he was fitted with a prothesis on his left arm and the process of healing mind and body began for him.

Peter was having a difficult time while recuperating at Walter Reed, coping with the loss of his arms and the limitations he suddenly faced. As he told Alice C. Elwell of the Brockton Enterprise, I was bummed out, I couldn't do anything I liked to do...

Even in the most trying of circumstances, the ingenuity endowed with the human spirit, the drive to overcome can shine through, and Peter found himself with an inspiration, One day I practiced writing... I thought, If I can write, why can't I draw?

And draw he did, though his first efforts were shaky. Peter had to relearn to draw and eventually paint with his prosthesis, a slow going process, but progress was made and he produced his first picture, a pencil drawing of a stuffed bear.


Peter Damon's "County Crossing" depicts a railroad crossing in Middleboro's Rock Village - Photo courtesy of Brockton Enterprise


His wife Jenn almost cried when she saw the drawing, and it became one of her most precious possessions. For her, it symbolized that her husband was getting better. As she said in a recent interview, He doesn't want to be known as the guy with no arms...

After his rehabilitation was completed at Walter Reed, Peter and Jen, and their two children Allura and Danny moved from their native Brockton to a house in South Middleboro, Massachusetts, which was given to them by Homes for our Troops, a group that provides houses for injured Iraq war veterans.

The Damons also benefitted from his government pension, an insurance policy he took out before the war and cashed in, and legislation approved by Congress that provided a lump sum payment to service people injured in Iraq or Afghanistan.

With his family and finances secure, there was no need for Peter Damon to work another day in his life. Still at age 33, he was restless. As his wife Jen asks, Where's the satisfaction in sitting back and watching the world go by? As Peter notes, I didn't have to go back to work, but I wanted to...I couldn't see sitting around, but I knew I had to work for myself. Certain times of the day I have to sit. I get tired easy, and that would make it hard working for someone else.

Clearly hungry for something more in life, and with a burgeoning interest in drawing and painting, old Architecture, and his wife's background in retail business, Peter and his family purchased the former Prescription Pharmacy on Center Street in Middleboro, a historic building originially constructed in 1880, with the goal of transforming it in to an art gallery by the Fall of 2006.

As Peter told the Middleboro Gazette, We want to create an outlet for area artists to display and sell their work...We hope to get a lot of up and comers here, people who weren't sure they were good enough to offer their work for sale or exhibit...

And there is the added pride for Peter, whose artistic muse is Ray Ellis, a painter from Martha's Vineyard, of owning his own gallery, allowing him to showcase his own works,There's a huge sense of 'Now I can still do something.' A sense of worth and the extra drive to get better...



Photo of Peter Damon & Family in front of
Middleborough Art Gallery building - Appears courtesy of Jane Lopes, Middleboro Gazette


Anyone interested in submitting artwork for an exhibition at the gallery can visit the Middleborough Art Gallery website here or email Peter Damon at: contactus@themiddleboroughartgallery.com for more information.

Sources:

Boston Herald: Artistic touch keeps disabled vet inspired

Brockton (MA) Enterprise: Injured National Guardsman plans to open art gallery By Alice C. Elwell, Enterprise correspondent

Middleboro (MA) Gazette, 8-3-2006: Art and Restoration: Town gets an art gallery, the Damons a new career by Jane Lopes


Tuesday, August 15, 2006

The In T View: The Readers Of Iraq The Model Sound Off: Dagney


The edge of darkness by Tennessee-Gator - Flickr


Generally, I In T View bloggers, journalists, writers, human rights advocates, and soldiers, but this time I thought I would expand the horizons a bit and In T View the readers of of one of the most popular and beloved Mideast and Iraqi blogs, Iraq The Model, and let them sound off, share their views, about ITM and Iraq.

Iraq The Model comes complete with a strong and loyal readership and a feisty crew of articulate commenters offering their thoughts on Omar's and Mohammed's evaluation of events in their country, the Iraqi conflict, politics, terrorism, Islam, and the actions of the Coalition Forces.


In this In T View we feature Dagney, a longtime commenter at Iraqi blogs and a very enthusiatic supporter of ITM and Mideast Democracy, who can be found at Dagney's Rants, where she posts her views on why Liberalism is a threat to the United States. Take it away, Dagney...


MG: How did you become aware of Iraq The Model and decide to comment there?

Dagney: I found ITM just after the war extended to Iraq. I found them, and Hammorabi & The Messopotamian around the same time.

MG: Are you as optimistic about Iraq now, as when you first started reading and commenting at ITM?

Dagney: From a historical perspective, I am optimistic. I know how long it took our own country to reach a consensus, and I keep hoping the Iraqis will find their own version of George Washington, i.e., a strong leader.

MG: Did you find that ITM was better when Ali was involved with the blog?

Dagney: I still read "Free Iraqi", and I find that it gives depth to the whole story of Iraq's democratic birth.

MG: There have been criticisms directed towards ITM and the brothers that they are too Pro-American or American Agents, Working for the CIA, not really Iraqis or located in Iraq, etc. How do you respond to this?

Dagney: My response is that there will always be naysayers, but as long as there are positive voices coming out of Iraq, they have an opportunity of becoming democratic leaders to lead the ME out of the negative morass they are involved in currently.

MG: Has it been a learning experience reading ITM? You likely know more about Iraqi politics now, than you did before reading the Brothers' Blog, but have they also given you insights into other facets of Iraqi Society such as cultureand history?

Dagney: I think that Sam, at Hammorabi, has given me more information about the history and cultural make-up of Iraq, but the brothers have given me hope about the future that is ahead for Iraq.

MG: Should the US have involved itself in Iraq? Has it been a worthwhile endeavor?

Dagney: Absolutely! I believe President Bush will go on record in the history of Iraq as a savior, and a hero.

MG: Does the World Media (Television, Radio, and Newspapers) present an accurate view of what's happening in Iraq?

Dagney: Are you kidding? NO WAY!

MG: Which ITM Brother -- Omar or Mohammed -- would you like to give a hug to or have a beer with and why?

Dagney: Both. Omar is the pragmatist. Mohammed is the poet, the prose-master. Both have given me hope for Iraq, and both are precious to me as a little (younger) brother would be, and I can hardly wait until I can go to Iraq and share a cup of tea with them and their family.

MG: On February 20, 1258 A.D., the Mongols overran Baghdad, plundered and destroyed the city, and conducted a massacre of the residents that claimed 800,000 lives. Things don't look as bleak for the Iraqis now, still the topic of an Iraqi Civil War is being bandied about in the Media every day, and I have to ask: Is Iraq currently involved in a Civil War?

Dagney: I do not believe they are in a Civil War. I do believe that the monkey boy, Sadr, should have been arrested/killed/taken out of the equation when the coalition was still in charge, though I understand why he was not. A subtle "hit" on him at any point from now on might lessen the tensions and violence in today's Iraq. I believe he is talking out of both sides of his face. As our own Native American's say, "He speaks with a forked tongue!"

MG: Do you have a Favorite Poster at ITM, who you like or admire, and can you tell us why?

Dagney: I have several. Louise is not as outspoken as she used to be, and I'm sad about that. Ash and Steph are two who usually have sage comments, and Bob's links are very interesting. Mr. Ghost is one whose tongue is much like mine...sharp. [oops, that's you! LMAO]

MG: One of my escapist fantasies is to walk the length and breadth of Iraq from Southern Kurdisitan down to Mosul, though due to my blue eyes and practically albino skin, they'd likely be using me for target practice before I made it out of Mosul, certainly I'd be in trouble in Fallujah, LOL... When conditions become safer for travel in Iraq, would you like to visit the country?

Dagney: I can hardly wait! Sam at Hammorabi has promised a camel BBQ, though he's recently become less enthused, but the brothers feel like family to me.

MG: The Recent Loss of Omar's, Mo's, and Ali's Brother-in-Law elicited many outporings of sympathy from ITM's readers and commenters, similar to if the readers/commenters had lost a member of their own extended family. When you post at ITM, is there a sense of being part of an extended family?

Dagney: Absolutely

MG: Has a bond been established, both between the posters themselves and Omar and Mo?

Dagney: I believe so. It feels like an extended family.

MG: Having come to know Omar and Mo through their writings these last few years, what is the one thing, you would like to say to them?

Dagney: I wish I could give you both a big hug. You have become like my sons. You keep us informed about what is really going on in Iraq, and I wish I could insure your safety. I'm a "pistol packin' mama", meaning I am a licensed concealed weapon holder and I carry a firearm with me wherever I go. I wish I could somehow protect you in the very precarious environment you live in, in Baghdad. I so admire your strength of will and your bravery in the face of a very difficult time for your newly developing country.

MG says: Thanks to Dagney!


Monday, August 14, 2006

The In T View: The Readers Of Iraq The Model Sound Off: Rosemary


Suhad (Palestinian girl applying kohl) by Monica Semergiu - Flickr


Generally, I In T View bloggers, journalists, writers, human rights advocates, and soldiers, but this time I thought I would expand the horizons a bit and In T View the readers of of one of the most popular and beloved Mideast and Iraqi blogs, Iraq The Model, and let them sound off, share their views, about ITM and Iraq.

Iraq The Model comes complete with a strong and loyal readership and a feisty crew of articulate commenters offering their thoughts on Omar's and Mohammed's evaluation of events in their country, the Iraqi conflict, politics, terrorism, Islam, and the actions of the Coalition Forces.


In this In T View we feature the lovely Rosemary from California, who works in the Publishing/Media industry, and is a one-woman blogging machine with more than sixty blogs to her credit including My Newz'n Ideas , Love America First, Knickerbocker News, Causes of Interest, and many many more. Take it away, Rosemary...


MG: How did you become aware of Iraq The Model and decide to comment there?

Rosemary: I first became aware of ITM so long ago, I'd be lying if I told you I remembered how and where, but it was at the beginning of the war (maybe a little before) when I noticed I was not getting the truth. I went searching for some Iraqi's points of view.

MG: Are you as optimistic about Iraq now, as when you first started reading and commenting at ITM?

Rosemary: Yes, I am. There has been much progress we do not hear about, and now the government has finally chosen the PM. Now all they have to do is choose the Cabinet positions. At least they have a 30 day deadline on that! lol.

MG: Did you find that ITM was better when Ali was involved with the blog?

Rosemary: I miss Ali very much, but I understand his reason for leaving. You can still reach him at Free Iraqi. Was it better? It really is hard to say. I believe they are all honestly trying to portray what is really happening over there. I would like to say, "I would like to remain neutral." lol.

MG: There have been criticisms directed towards ITM and the brothers that they are too Pro-American or American Agents, Working for the CIA, not really Iraqis or located in Iraq, etc. How do you respond to this?

Rosemary: BS! How can Mohammed and Omar be in the room to watch the Parliament and reporting on it if he isn't there? Why can he not be PRO- IRAQ? The American Dream and the Iraqi Dream seem to reflect the same values, dreams, aspiration. So? Does everyone have to hate the USA in order to live happily ever after? They are delusional.

MG: Has it been a learning experience reading ITM? You likely know more about Iraqi politics now, than you did before reading the Brothers' Blog, but have they also given you insights into other facets of Iraqi Society such as cultureand history?

Rosemary: Yes, it has been a learning experience. I have seen Iraq through pictures they took, different topics they would write about such as celebrations, etc., and they have a diverse community. In some sections, people don't even know your religion, so tell me...how do they decide if you're Sunni, Shia, or something else? I think that is an American or western hang-up, although there is some strife on these lines. It is not near what it is told to us by the dinosaur media.

MG: Should the US have involved itself in Iraq? Has it been a worthwhile endeavor?

Rosemary: Yes, most definitely. In the first place, Saddam has and had wmd. It is being translated right now the papers we've captured since the march to Baghdad and the overthrowing of the Taliban. So let us get that straight. Do not forget about Uday and Qusay. They were even worse than Saddam, if you can imagine that. We have found 3, count them 3, full length jets (airplanes) buried in the sand. Would you like to explain to me why they can hide that, but not have wmd?

With that out of the way, let's answer the question as to whether or not Saddam harboring terrorists. (Remember the Bush Doctine.) I don't remember his name, but there was at least one terrorists who committed suicide by shooting himself in the head several times. Fascinating how they can do that, eh? He has training fields and camps, and he trained around 7,000 terrorists.

He was committing genocide on the Kurds, until we starting protecting them. He was shooting at our troops every day. We did not sign a truce, it was a cease-fire. There is a big difference in my estimation. In a cease-fire, we start firing again if you fire first. This has already been established.

It was not pre-emptive. It was long overdue, IMHO.

Now to look at the humanitarian side of this. These people were existing in a walking prison where you could be murdered, raped, beaten, or tortured at the pleasure of Saddam's family. Should we allow this to occur? NO. I wish we could go to Sudan's region of Darfur. Oh, OBL's people are there, also. Another point for another day, I suppose.

We have built over 1000 schools, hospitals, and all the children have been vacinated. I would say this is a good thing. Have we lost people? Let me ask a different question. Have you ever known of a way to remove a genocidal dictactor other than war? Do you people die in wars? Yes. Does the number of people who die determine whether the war was a success or not? NO. If it did, we would have turned back from Normandy.

MG: Does the World Media (Television, Radio, and Newspapers) present an accurateview of what's happening in Iraq?

Rosemary: Hell no.

MG: Which ITM Brother -- Omar or Mohammed -- would you like to give a hug to or have a beer with and why?

Rosemary: Both of them, because I'm greedy. lol. Omar is such a sweet, gentle, and kind person. I wish I could take away every tear he's ever had to cry. Mohammed is so strong, caring, and honest. He tells it like it is, so does Omar. I would like to wipe away ever tear he's been forced to cry. These are truly two wonderful men that will make 2 women very happy someday when they decide to settle down. :)

MG: On February 20, 1258 A.D., the Mongols overran Baghdad, plundered and destroyed the city, and conducted a massacre of the residents that claimed 800,000 lives. Things don't look as bleak for the Iraqis now, still the topic of an Iraqi Civil War is being bandied about in the Media every day, and I have to ask: Is Iraq currently involved in a Civil War?

Rosemary: Michael Yon seems to think so, and he is over there. I suppose in certain areas there is fighting, but I tend to believe these are the 100,000 criminals that Saddam let out of jail! Criminals commit crimes. What else is new?

MG: Do you have a Favorite Poster at ITM, who you like or admire, and can you tellus why?

Rosemary: Omar seems to get right inside of me, while Mohammed is able to stimulate me intellectual. Not that they both don't interchange, but on average. I'm a woman. I need both things, so I'll say both of them rolled up together. I'll take that to go...lol.

MG: One of my escapist fantasies is to walk the length and breadth of Iraq fromSouthern Kurdisitan down to Mosul, though due to my blue eyes and practically albino skin, they'd likely be using me for target practice before I made it out of Mosul, certainly I'd be in trouble in Fallujah, LOL... When conditionsbecome safer for travel in Iraq, would you like to visit the country?

Rosemary: I would love to, expect for the fact I made a promise to myself that I would never leave my ancestors on this land. I am half Armenian, but I also half Mohawk. What a combo, eh? lol. Plus, I smoke. Do you think I will survive the neocommies? LOL.

MG: The Recent Loss of Omar's, Mo's, and Ali's Brother-in-Law elicited manyoutporings of sympathy from ITM's readers and commenters, similar to if the readers/commenters had lost a member of their own extended family.When you post at ITM, is there a sense of being part of an extended family? Has a bond been established, both between the posters themselves and Omarand Mo?

Rosemary: I used to feel that way with the posters, but recently I've been so busy I only have time to read, comment, write, and get on to the next point of order. There are so many posters! I have no bad feelings, and I will tell off those who make stupid comments, when I catch them, but it's not really what I have time to do anymore. I have about 8 places I write, 3 of which I edit/manage. lol.

MG: Having come to know Omar and Mo through their writings these last few years, what is the one thing, you would like to say to them?

Rosemary: I thank God for your friendship, honesty, courage, and insight into your country. I pray for you all the time. I hope you can feel His Presence and Peace. I think you are wonderful, and I don't know if I would have been able to make it through these past few years without you. Our dinosaur media apparently wants us to lose because of their hatred for our president. Ignore them! Please. We are not backing down. God bless you.

Was that more than one? :)

MG says: Thanks to Rosemary!


Sunday, August 13, 2006

The In T View: The Readers Of Iraq The Model Sound Off: Monica from Philly


Something Red by Jessica Finson - Flickr


Generally, I In T View bloggers, journalists, writers, human rights advocates, and soldiers, but this time I thought I would expand the horizons a bit and In T View the readers of of one of the most popular and beloved Mideast and Iraqi blogs, Iraq The Model, and let them sound off, share their views, about ITM and Iraq.

Iraq The Model comes complete with a strong and loyal readership and a feisty crew of articulate commenters offering their thoughts on Omar's and Mohammed's evaluation of events in their country, the Iraqi conflict, politics, terrorism, Islam, and the actions of the Coalition Forces.


In this In T View we feature the very nice Monica from Philly, a homeschool mom from the City of Brotherly Love, a longtime commenter at ITM, and the proprietress of the intriguing Grizzly Mama blog. Take it away, Monica from Philly...


MG: How did you become aware of Iraq The Model and decide to comment there?

Monica: I saw a newspaper article about them - I guess it was a little over 2 years ago - and I checked it out. It was my first experience with a 'blogger'. I had no idea any such thing existed.

MG: Are you as optimistic about Iraq now, as when you first started reading and commenting at ITM?

Monica: I am so much more optimistic after having read what those brothers in Baghdad have to say. When I first arrived at ITM I was very down and angry about Iraq even though I supported the invasion. I was being led to believe (by everything I heard and read about the campaign) that Iraqis were ungrateful and angry and always complaining about everything. For example I heard a story about a school teacher who complained about the color paint used in a school that the Marines had just risked their lives rebuilding. So that's what I went to ITM with: a lot of anger. Surely things are difficult and I didn't expect things to be easy and bright. The brothers are optimistic but honest about the hardships.

MG: Did you find that ITM was better when Ali was involved with the blog?

Monica: I miss Ali but I believe that they're still doing a bang-up job.

MG: There have been criticisms directed towards ITM and the brothers that they are too Pro-American or American Agents, Working for the CIA, not really Iraqis or located in Iraq, etc. How do you respond to this?

Monica: I just laugh and laugh and LAUGH!

MG: Has it been a learning experience reading ITM? You likely know more about Iraqi politics now, than you did before reading the Brothers' Blog, but have they also given you insights into other facets of Iraqi Society such as cultureand history?

Monica: Yes and yes. I have learned quite a lot - much of what the brothers say about Iraq and the people in Iraq is completely different than they way Iraqi are portrayed in our news media.

MG: Should the US have involved itself in Iraq? Has it been a worthwhile endeavor?

Monica: Absolutely. I believe that what I've seen of Iraqis shows that they are most worthwhile and deserving of the risks our government and mostly our military men and women take. God bless our men and women.. God bless the Iraqi every day - most have shown themselves to be brave and good and willing to stand up for their freedom. It's no easy task.

MG: Does the World Media (Television, Radio, and Newspapers) present an accurateview of what's happening in Iraq?

Monica: No. I point people to ITM a lot.

MG: Which ITM Brother -- Omar or Mohammed -- would you like to give a hug to or have a beer with and why?

Monica: If I could, I would give them all a big hug and buy them all a beer and even treat them to a Philly cheesesteak. They saved me. Those brothers in Baghdad do a great job of giving us information that we would never know.


Mister White by hingeschmierter - Flicker


MG: On February 20, 1258 A.D., the Mongols overran Baghdad, plundered and destroyed the city, and conducted a massacre of the residents that claimed 800,000 lives. Things don't look as bleak for the Iraqis now, still the topic of an Iraqi Civil War is being bandied about in the Media every day, and I have to ask: Is Iraq currently involved in a Civil War?

Monica: It doesn't seem that way to me. The MSM has been crying 'civil war' in Iraq from the git-go. It seems that most journalists would love nothing better than to be able to report a civil war in Iraq.

MG: Do you have a Favorite Poster at ITM, who you like or admire, and can you tell us why?

Monica: A commentor? There are many and I hate to say because I may leave one out by accident. There are many.

MG: One of my escapist fantasies is to walk the length and breadth of Iraq from Southern Kurdisitan down to Mosul, though due to my blue eyes and practically albino skin, they'd likely be using me for target practice before I made it out of Mosul, certainly I'd be in trouble in Fallujah, LOL... When conditionsbecome safer for travel in Iraq, would you like to visit the country?

Monica: I would love to visit Mesopotamia. I think it would make a great homeschool lesson - don't you?

MG: The Recent Loss of Omar's, Mo's, and Ali's Brother-in-Law elicited many outporings of sympathy from ITM's readers and commenters, similar to if the readers/commenters had lost a member of their own extended family. When you post at ITM, is there a sense of being part of an extended family? Has a bond been established, both between the posters themselves and Omarand Mo?

Monica: I think so. I would love to meet most of the people who comment there. There were a lot of beautiful words of condolence and I believe that they were sincere. A nice thing about blogging is establishing contact and trading thoughts and ideas to people across the globe. One connects on a certain level.

MG: Having come to know Omar and Mo through their writings these last few years, what is the one thing, you would like to say to them?

Monica: Thank you to the brothers in Baghdad! God bless you and your beautiful country! You prove your bravery and goodness every time you speak out. Thank you again and again.

MG says: Thanks to Monica from Philly!


Friday, August 11, 2006

The In T View: Israeli Bloggers On The Israeli - Hezb'allah/Lebanon Conflict: West Bank Mama


Please, come and get me... by Petite Corneille - Flickr


Millions of words have been written by bloggers on the conflict between Israel and Hezb'allah/Lebanon. But what do people really know? Those in the United States, protected by the geographical barriers of two great oceans, lack from the immediacy of this war. To know a conflict is to truly grasp its immediacy and intimacy.

Thus we sought out, through a series of varying questions, the opinions of those affected by this war, the Israeli bloggers, their homeland subjected to uncontrolled missile attacks and barrages, damage and destruction, lives lost, innocents dead, and a Israeli response to the Hezb'allah threat by bombings and incursions into Lebanon to seek out the purveyors of this latest round of Mideast hostilities...

In this In T View, we present a female Israeli blogger, West Bank Mama, who's living on the edge, raising a family in the hot zone of Samaria on Israel's West Bank, and describes it all in her nice blog, the aptly named West Bank Blog.

MG: How has the Conflict personally affected you?

West Bank Mama: The war has affected me "personally" by changing my blogging - I write mostly about the war now, instead of about general Israeli politics and about my own family life as an Orthodox Jew. It has affected many of my close friends much more seriously. Four of my friends have husbands who have been called up for reserve duty in Lebanon, and a few have sons fighting there. I try to offer emotional support to these women, and here and there do something nice for them by inviting them for a meal. We also hosted some kids from the north of Israel who needed to get away from the bomb shelters for a while - so they came to our settlement in Samaria and we spoiled them for a few days.

MG: Has Ehud Omert been a strong leader during this crisis? Do you have confidence in him or do you think Benjamin Netanyahu would have been a better choice to lead Israel during this period of war?

West Bank Mama: I think that Ehud Olmert has been fine so far - which honestly surprises me. If you read my post about his speech to the Knesset, you will see that he is on the center/left of the political spectrum in Israel, while I am firmly on the right, and his proposed "convergence" plan may very well end up with me being kicked out of my home. So I have no reason to like him - but I think so far he is going in the right direction. He perhaps is showing a bit of hesitation to expanding the war, but on the whole "so far, so good". As far as Bibi is concerned - I honestly don't know what he would have done better.

MG: Americans, other than when natural disasters strike, have no concept of what a shelter/bomb shelter is and living in one of them - if you've spent time in a shelter, could you describe the experience for us?

West Bank Mama: I live in Samaria (what we call the Shomron, which is its biblical name)in a house built after 1991. After the Gulf War Israel passed a law that all new homes had to be built with a special room called a mamad. This room has to be reinforced so that it could sustain anSo far the central area of the country has not been bombarded with rockets, but if it is, I would go into my special room (which I have stocked with water and some non-perishable food) if need be To make a long story short - I don't know what it is like to be in a bomb shelter - but if need be I have my own "personal bomb shelter" in my own home.

MG: Does the world have the wrong impression of Israel? Do you feel that you're misunderstood?

West Bank Mama: I think that in some parts of the world Israel is completely misunderstood. We are a modern democracy - with ancient roots. There are some in our country who are completely secular, a large number who are "traditional" and a significant minority who are religious. This means that we fight amongst each other quite a bit - but underneath we love each other as brothers. When an enemy comes against us we fight fiercely to defend ourselves. In protecting ourselves we unfortunately sometimes kill civilians, but we never target them, despite what our enemies say in their propaganda.

MG: Should Israel invade Syria, or are you worried about Syrian missiles and Iran's response?

West Bank Mama: I am not sure that this is the time to go after Syria, although they certainly deserve it! We are fighting on four fronts already (in Gaza, in Judea and Samaria where I live - constantly going after the terrorists, in Lebanon, and on the home front in the north of Israel - fighting fires and tending the wounded from the rockets.) Personally I think Syria can wait - but if they threaten us we can take them on also.

MG: What would you say to your compatriots in the Lebanese blogosphere?

West Bank Mama: I would ask those in the Lebanese blogosphere to fight for their freedom. I they don't take advantage of this opportunity - when Hizballah is being crushed - then they might not have another chance. We were all thrilled to see the demonstrations against the Syrians - because here in Israel we hope to make peace with Lebanon, and we knew that this will only happen if the country truly is free.

Hope I answered your questions!
Regards, Westbankmama

MG says: Our thanks go out to West Bank Mama.

Wednesday, August 09, 2006

Ladybird Says Goodbye - We Say Take Care



...fragile like bubbles by Nicole. - Flickr


(Update: Ladybird, like Joan Crawford has risen from the grave and is blogging again. Ladybird, how can we miss you, if you won't go away?)

Well, one of the more sui generis Iraqi Bloggers has called it quits, saying goodbye, in her own unique way:


This Is The End

Cyber-Life finished, Real-Life continues

I apologize if I said anything bad to anybody here.

These are the last words.

Bye all

Posted by LadyBird


Yes, Ladybird the blogger, is no more, and we say to her, "Take Care!"

I didn't often agree with Ladybird. Our political philosophies were radically different. I winced at her constant proliferation of posts critical of the United States. I totally disagreed with her about Israel, and there were a lot of times I thought some of her beliefs were right out of the Arab Parallel Universe.

But I always had a soft spot in my heart for Ladybird. She had high hopes for a better Iraq, and grew disappointed like many Iraqi bloggers, which may have fueled her distrust, along with the kidnapping and death of her friend and mentor Margaret Hassan.

And she suffered a lot in Old Iraq. Her family members and relatives were killed for their political beliefs, her parents were imprisoned, she had to flee the country for the West or face the same consequences as her forbearers.

And that Ladybird was a tough gal who made something out of her life as a member of the International Red Cross in Africa and parts beyond, helping a wide range of people. She survived wars, being shot at, snakebites, was kidnapped, I believe, more than once. Ahhhh, what a book she could write about her life and experiences.

So, we say Goodbye Ladybird and Take Care, Better Days, we hope are in store for you.


Tuesday, August 08, 2006

The In T View: Israeli Bloggers On The Israeli - Hezb'allah/Lebanon Conflict: Yael K


Architecture on the waterfront in Tel Aviv by Ark47 - Flickr


Millions of words have been written by bloggers on the conflict between Israel and Hezb'allah/Lebanon. But what do people really know? Those in the United States, protected by the geographical barriers of two great oceans, lack from the immediacy of this war. To know a conflict is to truly grasp its immediacy and intimacy.

Thus we sought out, through a series of varying questions, the opinions of those affected by this war, the Israeli bloggers, their homeland subjected to uncontrolled missile attacks and barrages, damage and destruction, lives lost, innocents dead, and a Israeli response to the Hezb'allah threat by bombings and incursions into Lebanon to seek out the purveyors of this latest round of Mideast hostilities...

In this In T View we present Yael K from Tel Aviv, a very fine blogger found at Step-by-Step: Making Aliyah to Israel who emigrated to Israel from the U.S. in what is known as Making Aliyah, and loves her three cats.


MG: For those Americans and others who question Israel's actions in Lebanon, what would you tell them?

Yael K: I would tell those who are questioning our actions that this is not a war that Israel wanted in any shape or form. It is not one we were looking for and it is not one that we started. It is a war that was forced upon us. It is certainly not a war that anyone on our side is taking any joy or comfort in. It is a situation that is taking a terrible toll on civilians on both sides of this conflict and our hearts go out to the innocent Lebanese civilians caught up in this chaos. We are not fighting a war against Lebanon. We have no anger or enmity toward the Lebanese people. Far from it. We are fighting against a terrorist organization that has as a stated goal the destruction of our country and all within it and that uses the citizens of Lebanon as human shields. In a conventional war you have two armies facing off and they are fighting one another --and even still there are inevitable civilian casualties. Hizbollah is not waging conventional warfare but rather guerrila warfare, making their attacks from the midst of populated areas. We are not bringing the full weight of the Israeli army down on Hizbollah because to do so would be to bring it down equally on the civilians trapped in Hizbollah's preferred battle areas --the villages, cities, and towns in Lebanon. We are trying and certainly failing in all too many instances in our attempt to not hit civilians as we target those who are targeting us with their missiles and rockets. It should be noted that Hizbollah sends their missiles not at our military installations at all but rather at our towns and villages --and our military is not fighting from within these civilian domains. They are trying to hit as many civilians as possible while we are trying to avoid hitting civilians.

MG: How has the Conflict personally affected you?

Yael K: This conflict has affected me personally on so many levels it is not even possible to enumerate. I know the families of two of the Israelis killed thus far in the conflict, one a civilian and the other a young soldier. I worry about people that I know who are in Lebanon and their families. I worry about people I know who are spending their days in bomb shelters in the north of our country. There is the constant stress and fear and I am not living in the areas that are constantly under attack but certainly I worry that the area I live in will also be targetted. I feel overwhelmed, daily, by a deep sense of sadness, grief, and helpless anger. Only weeks ago I and many other Israelis were talking with many Lebanese bloggers and we were all filled with this incredible sense of hope and promise, experiencing this incredible sense of joy at discovering one another and how much we all share in common. Hopes, dreams. We talked of one day hosting each other, giving our guided tours of Tel Aviv, Beirut, watching sunsets together from our various vantage points along the beautiful Mediterranean that we share. We share so many things in common. But this conflict, or perhaps more so the bonds I formed prior to it, has strengthened my resolve to not allow the dreams and hopes for our futures to be destroyed by Hizbollah. I will keep working in whatever small way it is possible for an individual to work to bring the dreams of peace and prosperity and respect for one another into reality.

MG: Could you tell us what sustains you during these times of crisis in Israel?

Yael K: What sustains me? Hope and the dogged belief that the future must be better.

MG: If you had the chance to watch any of the international coverage of the war like CNN, BBC, or Fox, do you think their coverage has been fair and objective?

Yael K: I find the BBC coverage to be extremely biased and no longer watch it. CNN is somewhat better. I don't have access to FOX and so am not able to judge. I get most of my news coverage from, (outside of the Israeli press) coverage in the german newspapers and newscasts and from bloggers in the region, including but not limited to Lebanese bloggers.

MG: What would you say to your compatriots in the Lebanese blogosphere?

Yael K: I would say to my compatriots in the Lebanese blogosphere to hang in there, to know that we are thinking of you and grieving with you, and to not let the dream die.

MG: After Hezb'allah's ability to wage war from southern Lebanon is neutralized, where does Israel go from here?

Yael K: Where does Israel go from here after Hezb'allah's ability to wage war from southern Lebanon is neutralized? Well, assuming that it can be neutralized and I certainly hope that is so, we rebuild. Whether they are neutralized or not, we will rebuild. And Lebanon rebuilds. And my hope, my dream rising from the ashes if you will, is that we can rebuild our shattered countries together. Hey, I'm pretty good with my hands neighbor and my hand is extended to help in whatever way that I can.


Beirut from the Balloon by Jolieexis - Flickr

MG says: Our thanks go out to Yael K.


Monday, August 07, 2006

The In T View: The Readers Of Iraq The Model Sound Off: Don Cox


Mug by DerekB - Flickr


Generally, I In T View bloggers, journalists, writers, human rights advocates, and soldiers, but this time I thought I would expand the horizons a bit and In T View the readers of of one of the most popular and beloved Mideast and Iraqi blogs, Iraq The Model, and let them sound off, share their views, about ITM and Iraq.

Iraq The Model comes complete with a strong and loyal readership and a feisty crew of articulate commenters offering their thoughts on Omar's and Mohammed's evaluation of events in their country, the Iraqi conflict, politics, terrorism, Islam, and the actions of the Coalition Forces.


In this In T View we feature Don Cox from England, who has had a long term presence commenting on many Iraqi and Mideast Blogs and is a strong advocate of a Democratic Mideast. Take it away, Don Cox...


MG: How did you become aware of Iraq The Model and decide to comment there?

Don Cox: The first Iraqi blog I found was Where is Raed? I can't remember how I came across ITM, but it would be a couple of months later.

MG Are you as optimistic about Iraq now, as when you first started reading and commenting at ITM?

Don Cox: Yes, but I now think it will take longer. The Islamists have got their fangs into Iraq, and it will take a few years to get rid of them. The coalition was too optimistic, and did not move fast enough to lock down the country. Al Qaeda took advantage of this.

MG: Did you find that ITM was better when Ali was involved with the blog?

Don Cox: As Ali has his own blog, there are still posts to read from all three.

MG: There have been criticisms directed towards ITM and the brothers that they are too Pro-American or American Agents, Working for the CIA, not really Iraqis or located in Iraq, etc. How do you respond to this?

Don Cox: I think the claims that they are not Iraqis or not living in Iraq are absurd. Certainly they are Pro-American, but so am I, so that is OK by me. It would be more accurate to say "Pro-Democracy", though. The USA is not the world's biggest democracy.

MG: Has it been a learning experience reading ITM? You likely know more about Iraqi politics now, than you did before reading the Brothers' Blog, but have they also given you insights into other facets of Iraqi Society such as culture and history?

Don Cox: Mainly insights into how some Iraqis think today. You have to read a number of blogs to pick up the range of opinion - and even then, we hear only from the people who are computer users.

MG: Should the US have involved itself in Iraq? Has it been a worthwhile endeavor?

Don Cox: It's too soon to say if it has been a success - it may be 30 years before we can see these events clearly - but I am certain the endeavour is worth while. Even if it fails and Iraq sinks back into tyranny, it was worth trying. Also, remember how Greece was liberated from the Nazis, then had a civil war, then later on had an episode of dictatorship, before finally settling down as a democratic state that is a member of the EU. It can be a hard road. The invasion did remove a big road block on the route to freedom.

MG: Does the World Media (Television, Radio, and Newspapers) present an accurate view of what's happening in Iraq?

Don Cox: Don't know, I hardly see them, except for the BBC news web site. That doesn't seem to be very accurate.

MG: Which ITM Brother -- Omar or Mohammed -- would you like to give a hug to or have a beer with and why?

Don Cox: Either.

MG: On February 20, 1258 A.D., the Mongols overran Baghdad, plundered and destroyed the city, and conducted a massacre of the residents that claimed 800,000 lives. Things don't look as bleak for the Iraqis now, still the topic of an Iraqi Civil War is being bandied about in the Media every day, and I have to ask: Is Iraq currently involved in a Civil War?

Don Cox: No, but a few more incidents like the Adhamiya battle and it could be.

MG: One of my escapist fantasies is to walk the length and breadth of Iraq from Southern Kurdisitan down to Mosul, though due to my blue eyes and practically albino skin, they'd likely be using me for target practice before I made it out of Mosul, certainly I'd be in trouble in Fallujah, LOL... When conditions become safer for travel in Iraq, would you like to visit the country?

Don Cox: Yes.

MG: The Recent Loss of the Omar, Mo's, and Ali's Brother-in-Law elicited many outporings of sympathy from ITM's readers and commenters, similar to if the readers/commenters had lost a member of their own extended family. When you post at ITM, is there a sense of being part of an extended family? Has a bond been established, both between the posters themselves and Omar and Mo?

Don Cox: Yes, and the same applies to other regular bloggers such as Najma or Hammorabi. It is a good way to get to know people that you would otherwise never meet.

MG: Having come to know Omar and Mo through their writings these last few > years, what is the one thing, you would like to say to them?

Don Cox: Just "Thank you".

MG says: Our thanks go out to Don Cox!


Sunday, August 06, 2006

The In T View: Israeli Bloggers On The Israeli - Hezb'allah/Lebanon Conflict: David Bogner


The Wanderer- Photo by Limuse - Flickr


Millions of words have been written by bloggers on the conflict between Israel and Hezb'allah/Lebanon. But what do people really know? Those in the United States, protected by the geographical barriers of two great oceans, lack from the immediacy of this war. To know a conflict is to truly grasp its immediacy and intimacy.

Thus we sought out, through a series of varying questions, the opinions of those affected by this war, the Israeli bloggers, their homeland subjected to uncontrolled missile attacks and barrages, damage and destruction, lives lost, innocents dead, and a Israeli response to the Hezb'allah threat by bombings and incursions into Lebanon to seek out the purveyors of this latest round of Mideast hostilities...

In this In T View we present a very fine Israeli blogger, David Bogner, who lives in sunny Efrat, Israel and blogs at the very popular www.treppenwitz.com where he's got his finger on the latest pulse of public opinion, thoughts, and
news on Jewish Culture and Israel.


MG: For those Americans and others who question Israel's actions in Lebanon, what would you tell them?

David Bogner: Hezbollah has spent every second of the six years since Israel left southern Lebanon preparing the ground for this war. They have created complex networks of trenches and bunkers throughout densely populated civilian areas and have deliberately placed over 13,000 rockets in close proximity to schools, hospitals and mosques. They did this on the assumption that Israel would adhere to a 'Judea-Christian' ethic about avoiding civilian casualties at all costs.

For their part, during the same period the Lebanese government willfully ignored their responsibilities under UN Resolution 1559 that required them to root out all militias and exert sovereignty over all Lebanese territory. They and the UN observers stationed in the south both sat by and watched for 6 years as Hezbollah prepared to launch this war, and now act shocked that Israel has taken off the gloves and responded forcefully to a clear provocation and violation of its sovereignty. Quite simply Hezbollah wagered that using Lebanese civilians as human shields for their infrastructure would keep them safe from serious reprisals. They are now in the process of losing that bet.

MG: Do you feel that the U.S. shackles Israels? Does it let Israel operate at full capacity against terrorist groups like Hezbollah and Hamas?

David Bogner: Up until this war began the US kept a fairly tight leash on Israel and allowed it only 'measured response' to the kinds of provocations that would have launched any other country into full scale war. My opinion is that this is due to the murky legal/national status of Israel's perennial antagonists; the Palestinians. However in this latest conflict I feel that the US has allowed Israel to 'take off the gloves' because the law is much more clearly defined.

MG: Has Ehud Omert been a strong leader during this crisis? Do you have confidence in him or do you think Benjamin Netanyahu would have been a better choice to lead Israel during this period of war?

David Bogner: It is hard to judge how much of what is going on is due to Ehud Olmert's leadership or whether he is simply getting sound advice from his advisers. In either case I am satisfied with the way he is conducting the war but wish he would address the nation more often to reassure us. The fact that the Knesset still hasn't decided if this is legally a war or not is an example of the information vacuum that exists between the government and the people. I don't know if Bejamin Natanyahu would have been as capable (or perhpas more capable), but the sad truth is that the Israeli left would not have lined up behind him the way the right has lined up behind Olmert.

MG: Americans, other than when natural disasters strike, have no concept of what a shelter/bomb shelter is and living in one of them - if you've spent time in a shelter, could you describe the experience for us?

David Bogner: I have never had to spend an extended period of time in a shelter. But when we bought our home it was sobering to note that, like most Israeli homes, it was built with a concrete and steel reinforced 'safe room' where the family could take refuge if our town came under fire such as is occurring in the north right now. That this is standard construction practice throughout the country should give the reader some idea of the depth to which Israel has, by necessity, developed a bunker mentality.

MG: Could you give us your thoughts on whether the world has the wrong impression of Israel?

David Bogner: Too simple a question. Readers should think for a moment about the complexity of the societies within which they live. Now think for a moment if you could sum up or crystallize the essence of your country in a few sentences. What this question is asking is that I take that task and add an extra level of complexity to it by trying to figure out if the rest of the world sees Israel according to the same short-hand essence that I do.

MG: How does your routine or perception change during a crisis like this? Do you become a news junky, call frequently to check on your family members and friends, worry a lot, spend more time with your loved ones?

David Bogner: Yes, I am much more addicted to the news these days, although I was never really disconnected from current events. However, the current conflict has not really had any effect on the way I relate to my family and close friends.
Thanks for the opportunity to offer my insights.
Warm Regards,
David Bogner
Efrat, Israel
www.treppenwitz.com

MG says: our thanks go out to David Bogner.


Saturday, August 05, 2006

The In T View: The Readers Of Iraq The Model Sound Off: Christine


Lilly and Puzzle - close up by Celeste33 - Flickr


Generally, I In T View bloggers, journalists, writers, human rights advocates, and soldiers, but this time I thought I would expand the horizons a bit and In T View the readers of of one of the most popular and beloved Mideast and Iraqi blogs, Iraq The Model, and let them sound off, share their views, about ITM and Iraq.

Iraq The Model comes complete with a strong and loyal readership and a feisty crew of articulate commenters offering their thoughts on Omar's and Mohammed's evaluation of events in their country, the Iraqi conflict, politics, terrorism, Islam, and the actions of the Coalition Forces.


In this In T View we feature Christine, who was the winner/designer of the current ITM Banner, and has a strong blogging presence at Infidel Bloggers Alliance, Arts For Democracy, SEARCH, The Killing Zone, Drive On, C.F., and more. Take it away, Christine...


MG: Hi Christine, how did you become aware of Iraq The Model and decide to comment there?

Christine: If I remember correctly, I discovered ITM through CMAR II's site.

MG: Are you as optimistic about Iraq now, as when you first started reading and commenting at ITM?

Christine: Yes, I am still optimistic.

MG: Did you find that ITM was better when Ali was involved with the blog?

Christine: I didn't start reading ITM until right after Ali left.

MG:There have been criticisms directed towards ITM and the brothers that they are too Pro-American or American Agents, Working for the CIA, not really Iraqis or located in Iraq, etc. How do you respond to this?

Christine: It speaks volumns about those who would make these accusations. The brothers just happen to be very public about being pro-American. This has placed them in the position of becoming victims of some people who were against the war.

MG: Has it been a learning experience reading ITM? You likely know more about Iraqi politics now, than you did before reading the Brothers' Blog, but have they also given you insights into other facets of Iraqi Society such as culture and history?

Christine: Yes, very much so.

MG:Should the US have involved itself in Iraq? Has it been a worthwhile endeavor?

Christine: Absolutely!

MG: Does the World Media (Television, Radio, and Newspapers) present an accurate view of what's happening in Iraq?

Christine: Absolutely.... NOT!

MG: Which ITM Brother -- Omar or Mohammed -- would you like to give a hug to or have a beer with and why?

Christine: I would like to have a group hug with both of them. Maybe I could gain some of their courage, strength and will through osmosis.

MG: On February 20, 1258 A.D., the Mongols overran Baghdad, plundered and destroyed the city, and conducted a massacre of the residents that claimed 800,000 lives. Things don't look as bleak for the Iraqis now, still the topic of an Iraqi Civil War is being bandied about in the Media every day, and I have to ask: Is Iraq currently involved in a Civil War?

Christine: At this point in time I cannot say. The situation is extremely complicated and the violence there is caused by many different factions. If there is a civil war going on, it is a very low level one and only in the beginning stages.

MG: Do you have a Favorite Poster at ITM, who you like or admire, and can you tell us why?

Christine: I tend to like Marine Dad's posts. He seems to be very knowledgable and most of the time stay's on topic without too much emotion.

MG: One of my escapist fantasies is to walk the length and breadth of Iraq from Southern Kurdisitan down to Mosul, though due to my blue eyes and practically albino skin, they'd likely be using me for target practice before I made it out of Mosul, certainly I'd be in trouble in Fallujah, LOL... When conditions become safer for travel in Iraq, would you like to visit the country?

Christine: Yes, I would love to visit Iraq it is a beautiful country. Also, I won a dinner out with Omar and Mohammed when I won the banner contest and I really would like to meet them.

MG: The Recent Loss of Omar's, Mo's, and Ali's Brother-in-Law elicited many outporings of sympathy from ITM's readers and commenters, similar to if the readers/commenters had lost a member of their own extended family.When you post at ITM, is there a sense of being part of an extended family?

Christine: Yes, all of the regular posters there have come to know each other pretty well.

MG: Has a bond been established, both between the posters themselves and Omar and Mo?

Christine: Yes. Most of us have become rather attached and protective of Omar and Mohammed.

MG: Having come to know Omar and Mo through their writings these last few years, what is the one thing, you would like to say to them?

Christine: I have actually told them this. They have a heart of gold, courage of steel and the will of superman.

MG says: Our Thanks go out to Christine!


Friday, August 04, 2006

The In T View: Israeli Bloggers On The Israeli - Hezb'allah/Lebanon Conflict: Rafi G.



Memories (Shop Window, Angers, France) by Louise - Flickr


Millions of words have been written by bloggers on the conflict between Israel and Hezb'allah/Lebanon. But what do people really know? Those in the United States, protected by the geographical barriers of two great oceans, lack from the immediacy of this war. To know a conflict is to truly grasp its immediacy and intimacy.

Thus we sought out, through a series of varying questions, the opinions of those affected by this war, the Israeli bloggers, their homeland subjected to uncontrolled missile attacks and barrages, damage and destruction, lives lost, innocents dead, and a Israeli response to the Hezb'allah threat by bombings and incursions into Lebanon to seek out the purveyors of this latest round of Mideast hostilities..

In this In T View we present an Israeli blogger who's young and hip, urban and country. He's well taught and well learned, at the forefront of the changing face of the Israeli blogosphere. It's the one and only Rafi G from the very nice Life in Israel, and Torah Thoughts blogs.


MG: How has the Conflict personally affected you?

Rafi G.: I have been affected personally in the sense that many of my friends have been called up for reserve duty. Friends who live in the northern section of Israel are either living in bunkers or have become refugees and staying in other parts of the countries. I call this "personally" because we are all borthers and sisters. What affects them, affects me.

MG: Could you tell us what sustains you during these times of crisis in Israel?

Rafi G.: What sustains me is the strength of charachter we have all seen of the Israeli people. Nasrallah himself said they were surprised by the response of Israel. They assumed we would roll over and play dead and negotiate with them. They were wrong and the people of Israel showed they care. The government cares and the people have shown they care by the great outpouring of help and assistance offered all over the country for both the residents of the north who have been displaced, and for the soldiers who have been fighting for us.

MG: What would you as an Israeli like to say to the world about the necessity of this war?

Rafi G.: We did not ask for this war. We did not look for this war. We ignored the border for 6 years, enjoying the virtual quiet, despite knwoing Hezbollah was arming themselves to the teeth. We would have been happy enough to let it continue like that. Just let us live in peace and quiet.

After they attacked us, as a sovereign state, we had to respond. They were the straw that broke the camels back. After Hamas attacked us from the Gaza border, Nasrallah's timing was terrible. We could not let his attack go with no response.

MG: Iraqi blogger Sam from Hammorabi writes: The Israeli attack on Qana in Lebanon... in which tens of handicapped children and women killed represent the ugly face of terrorism by the Israeli forces. Terrorism got only one face and the ugliest of it represented by state terrorism which is shown in Qana...

What is your response to this?

Rafi G.: I will not honor that with a response. It has already been shown that the "massacre" in Qana was staged by Hezbollah in a major PR coup.

That being said, it is very sad that innocent civilians have had to die. Unfortunately, that is part of warfare. While it is sad, this war was started by Hezbollah, not by Israel. Hezbollah uses civilians as shields, hiding in bunkersunder civilian buildings and storing their weapons in civilian buildings. If the civilians in these areas are willing to give their support to hezbollah and allow them to operate in this fashion, they are putting themselves in danger.

MG: What would you say to your compatriots in the Lebanese blogosphere?

Rafi G.: I would tell them that we did nto want this war. It was forced upon us. If the Lebanese are upset, they should be upset at Hezbollah for putting them at risk for absolutely no reason. They should be upset at Syria and Iran who use the Lebanese people as pawns in their own political games, because they consider Lebanese blood cheaper than the blood of their own citizens. Uproot Hezbollah from your midst. Tell Iran and Syria to martyr their own citizens instead of the Lebanese. We have no beef with Lebanon.

MG: The Lebanese appear to be a people weakened by decades of civil war, occupation, internecene fighting, and political turmoil which has rendered them incapable of dealing with Hezb'allah. So, can they really be blamed for the actions of Hezb'allah?

Rafi G.: There is no one else to blame. We are all big boys and we must take responsibility for our actions. if they allow Hezbollah to operate in their neighborhoods and use them as shields to attack Israel from behind, they are responsible.

MG: Does the world have the wrong impression of Israel? Do you feel that you're misunderstood?

Rafi G.: I do not feel we are misunderstood. I feel we are held to a double standard. No other country would put up with what we are made to put up with. A similar attack on any other country would draw the immediate wrath and retaliation of the country and nobody would stop it. When it happens in Israel, we are controlled by the worlds governments. everybody has to have their say and tell us when enough is enough.

Nobody stopped the Russians when they destroyed the Chechens. The USA has been destroying Iraq and Afghanistan for years now. Nobody cared much about Serbia and Croatia. Think of the conflict in Somalia.

I do not think we are misunderstood, I think it is latent, if not overt, anti-semitism that causes the perception and double standard Israel is held to.

MG: Americans, other than when natural disasters strike, have no concept of what a shelter/bomb shelter is and living in one of them - if you've spent time in a shelter, could you describe the experience for us?

Rafi G.: During this war I have not spent time in a shelter. However, in the original Gulf War I spent much time in shelters as Iraq rained Scud missiles on Israel.

A shelter is generally not big enough for the occupants. It is a room meant for short term stay, and after a couple of hours the air gets stale and the company gets nervous and uptight. In the Gulf War our stays in the shelter were generally short.

Unfortunately, this war is different. The residents of the north have been forced to stay in small shelters for many hours and even days at a time with only small opportunities to come out and get some fresh air and stretch their legs. Staying in a shelter for long periods of time can make a person crazy, and sick as well.

MG: If you had the chance to watch any of the international coverage of the war like CNN, BBC, or Fox, do you think their coverage has been fair and objective?

Rafi G.: I have not watched their coverage. From their coverage on their websites I would say ti is mostly fair. Their are some pieces written in favor of Israel and some in favor of Lebanon, so it has mostly been fairly reasonable. BBC is usually worse than the others and more anti-Israel.

MG: Do you have an opinion on whether the US or Israel will take out the Iranian nuclear facilities?

Rafi G.: I do not think it will happen. It does not look like anybody wants to get involved over there just yet. That would open a big can of worms.

MG: The Iranian government and the Mullahs and the religious junta that rule Iran have basically stated that they want to obliterate Israel, nuke Israel - When you hear about another country wanting to destroy you, what goes through your mind?

Rafi G.: Not again! We have always been the object of other peoples' desires for destruction. It is practically a miracle Israel was ever created. The desire of these countries to destroy us is nothing new and nothing we should be afraid of.

MG.: After Hezb'allah's ability to wage war from southern Lebanon is neutralized, where does Israel go from here?

Rafi G.: Hopefully we will go to having peaceful relations and quiet borders, so we call live happily and prosperously. We should all have the ability to send our children to visit their relatives and friends and the mall and wherever they want to go, without having to be concerned that they will be a victim of a suicide bomber or a rocket attack.

We just want to live in peace and quiet. leave us alone and we will happily leave you alone. Thank you for the interview and for the opportunity to express my views to the world.
Rafi

MG says: Our thanks go out to Rafi G. for a thoughtful In T View.


Thursday, August 03, 2006

The In T View: The Readers Of Iraq The Model Sound Off: Jim the Wiz


Batik "Tribal" by Christian Bachellier - Flickr


Generally, I In T View bloggers, journalists, writers, human rights advocates, and soldiers, but this time I thought I would expand the horizons a bit and In T View the readers of of one of the most popular and beloved Mideast and Iraqi blogs, Iraq The Model, and let them sound off, share their views, about ITM and Iraq.

Iraq The Model comes complete with a strong and loyal readership and a feisty crew of articulate commenters offering their thoughts on Omar's and Mohammed's evaluation of events in their country, the Iraqi conflict, politics, terrorism, Islam, and the actions of the Coalition Forces.


In this In T View we feature Jim the Wiz, a longtime commenter at ITM and other Iraqi blogs, who sees the need for order among the chaos in the Middle East via a strong democratic foundation. Take it away, Jim The Wiz...


MG: Hi Jim the Wiz, how did you become aware of Iraq The Model and decide to comment there?

JTW: I read an editorial in the paper in which ITM was mentioned. I was thrilled to able to discuss the issues with true Iraqis still living in Iraq. I spent a week or so reading before getting the courage to comment as it was the very first blog I ever read. I decided to jump in as I felt I could contribute to the discussion.

MG: Are you as optimistic about Iraq now, as when you first started reading and commenting at ITM?

JTW: I am still optimistic but I would say it is better tempered now. I was naive of the complications of Iraqi society and its history. I knew that Iraq was in a bad neighborhood but the internal issues are worse than I thought.

MG: Did you find that ITM was better when Ali was involved with the blog?

JTW: Ali is a good writer and three varying opinions are always better than two. But Omar and Mohammed do a great job. Plus Ali started his own blog but has very little time to write so he probably would have written very little had he stayed.

MG: There have been criticisms directed towards ITM and the brothers that they are too Pro-American or American Agents, Working for the CIA, not really Iraqis or located in Iraq, etc. How do you respond to this?

JTW: I have read many such accusations. In this world of Spy vs Spy (a salute to Mad Mag readers everwhere), its nearly impossible to determine what is real. But the Brothers have been featured in newspaper articles, been to the US, and even met with the President so there is ample evidence they are as stated in their blog. The real question then becomes are the detractors of ITM working for the enemies of a free Iraq?

MG: Has it been a learning experience reading ITM? You likely know more about Iraqi politics now, than you did before reading the Brothers' Blog, but have they also given you insights into other facets of Iraqi Society such as culture and history?

JTW: Indeed, I have learned much about Iraq and its history, natural beauty, the vibrant people, and more not only from the brothers but also from the other commenters on the board.

MG: Should the US have involved itself in Iraq? Has it been a worthwhile endeavor?

JTW: The ME and Iraq in particular has been an inhumane disaster wrought by dictators for decades with no hope of reforming itself. It endangered us and the rest of the world. We were right to try to improve on the plight of the people by giving them a chance for freedom and democracy. It will only have been a worthwhile endeavor if we win and Iraq becomes a stable and prosperous democracy.

MG: Does the World Media (Television, Radio, and Newspapers) present an accurate view of what's happening in Iraq?

JTW: Definitely not. That was one of the things that attracted me to the site. I knew the whole story wasn't being told after talking to soldiers after they returned from Iraq. The corporate media is too reliant on ratings to make a profit and thus they emphasize the dramatic news of the day like IEDs and daily death counts. ITM affers me a look at whats going on behind the headlines.

MG: Which ITM Brother -- Omar or Mohammed -- would you like to give a hug to or have a beer with and why?

JTW: These guys deserve much more than a hug or a beer for the great courage they have shown. They are both great assets for their country and I would be honored to but either one a beer. Or give them a hug.

MG: On February 20, 1258 A.D., the Mongols overran Baghdad, plundered and destroyed the city, and conducted a massacre of the residents that claimed 800,000 lives. Things don't look as bleak for the Iraqis now, still the topic of an Iraqi Civil War is being bandied about in the Media every day, and I have to ask: Is Iraq currently involved in a Civil War?

JTW: Hate to play word smith here but it all depends on the definition of "civil war." If you define it as a segment of a population revolting against its government, then one could say that Iraq has been in a constant state of civil war since the Kurdish rebellion in the 1980s, perhaps even earlier. I wouldn't call the current situation a civil war but more a country with an old regime still in the death throws. The country was much closer to a civil war in 2004 when the insurgents were very active in the center of the country and Sadr tried to take control of several cities like Najab with his militia. Iraq was on the precipice of civil war then but not now.

MG: Do you have a Favorite Poster at ITM, who you like or admire, and can you tell us why?

JTW: They are all valuable to making ITM the vibrant debate forum it is. Having people with different takes on the situation is the surest way to better understand the truth. Too many sites stiffle debate or people with opposing veiws. But I especially like the commentors that can debate without insult or demeaning personal attacks. (Was that PC enough?)

MG: One of my escapist fantasies is to walk the length and breadth of Iraq from Southern Kurdisitan down to Mosul, though due to my blue eyes and practically albino skin, they'd likely be using me for target practice before I made it out of Mosul, certainly I'd be in trouble in Fallujah LOL... When conditions become safer for travel in Iraq, would you like to visit the country?

JTW: I would love to visit Iraq some day but like you I would stand out as a westerner. Since I have thirty years of construction experience, I would even like to work there some day rebuilding Iraq. . .maybe even build a project designed by Hameed Abid, a fellow poster at ITM.

MG: The Recent Loss of Omar's, Mo's, and Ali's Brother-in-Law elicited many outporings of sympathy from ITM's readers and commenters, similar to if the readers/commenters had lost a member of their own extended family. When you post at ITM, is there a sense of being part of an extended family?
Has a bond been established, both between the posters themselves and Omar and Mo?

JTW: We all have become close to Omar and Mo and felt their loss very deeply. Perhaps the best thing we all have learned from commenting at ITM and interacting with people from all over the planet is that we are all basically the same, that even though we are seperated by thousands of miles, centuries of history, different religious beliefs, and wide cultural gaps, we are all members of the same extended family.

MG: Having come to know Omar and Mo through their writings these last few years, what is the one thing, you would like to say to them?

JTW: First and foremost, I hope they have mended any problems between them and Ali. A strong family is one of the most important things in life, especially in difficult times. Second, stay focused on the future and what Iraq will soon be. And last, a heartfelt thank you for sharing their insight into their world and for having the great courage to speak out on the issues and building a better Iraq.

MG says: Thanks go out to Jim The Wiz!


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