Wednesday, June 20, 2018


Two book reviews: One on apartheid & one on Jim Crow

     I'm probably the very last person in Berkeley to read Isabel Wilkerson's excellent book, "The Warmth of Other Suns".  And how do I know this?  Because when I filed a hold-request for it at the Berkeley Public Library, I ended up being something like 60th in line for the next of 25 copies then out on loan.  However, it was well worth the wait.  https://www.amazon.com/Warmth-Other-Suns-Americas-Migration/dp/0679763880

     Wilkerson's book describes the insanely brutal Jim Crow practices that took place in the American South -- and in such scary detail that it made me cry.  Jim Crow policies were in several ways even worse than slavery.  "But, Jane," you might say, "nothing could have been worse than slavery in the Ole South."  Yes it could.

     With slavery, at least slave owners were slightly constrained with regard to the physical damage they could do because of limitations inherently imposed on them by not wanting to damage their own property.  With Jim Crow, however, there were no such constraints.  Torture and lynchings were every-day occurrences in the "post-bellum" South -- and they were common occurrences there for over 70 years.  This book was chilling.

     Then author Richard Hardigan asked me to review his new book, "The Other Side of the Wall," which is about every-day life in Occupied Palestine for the last 70 years.  And it was deja vu all over again.  Jim Crow had apparently left the American South and moved over to Palestine.  http://www.middleeasteye.net/news/israel-photo-ban-article-1578539473

     Hardigan's book is a fascinating account of a heinous caste system in Palestine that is very similar to the heinous caste system in the American south under Jim Crow -- and just as cruel too.  And, much to my surprise, Hardigan's book was also an intriguing page-turner -- although, unlike Wilkerson's book, no one yet knows how this story will end.  However, reading these two books side by side at the same time, I was struck by the parallel similarities between how White Southerners had set up their caste system and Israeli neo-cons have set up theirs.  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=X2W3aG8uizA

PS:  Sometimes referred to as the Negro Holocaust, untold numbers of lynchings took place in the American South before the Civil Rights movement tried to put a stop to this ghastly behavior.  And in the Jewish Holocaust, approximately six million Jews were murdered.

     Imagine what it would be like if the troubled souls of Negro Holocaust victims could look down on us today, only to discover that much of America is still almost as racist as ever.

     And imagine what it would be like if the troubled souls of six million Jewish Holocaust victims could look down on Israel today, only to discover that Bibi Netanyahu and his neo-con friends are shamelessly using their six million brutal, torturous and genocidal deaths as a propaganda tool and lame excuse for inflicting those same brutal tortures and genocidal massacres on Palestinians.
_____________________________

Stop Wall Street and War Street from destroying our world.   And while you're at it, please buy my books.  https://www.amazon.com/Jane-Stillwater/e/B00IW6O1RM

Sunday, June 17, 2018


NYC Book Expo: "Books are my only friends..."

     Six years ago, my three-year-old granddaughter Mena was spending the night with me.  All evening long she had been wheezing, listless and pale.  Finally at around 2:00 am, she practically crawled into my bedroom, coughing, choking and white as a sheet.  "Gaia, I need to go to the hospital -- now!" she said.  I didn't waste any time.

     We were still in our nightgowns when the doctor told us, "Worst case of asthma I've ever seen.  A few more minutes and she would have been dead!  You saved her life."  No, I didn't.  Mena saved her own life.  And since that day, I've always listened closely to everything she was telling me, just in case.

      Later that month, Mena also told me, "Toys are my only friends."  What could I say to that?  I told her the truth.  "Sometimes I think that books are my only friends."  So when I recently went off to the Javits Center in New York City to attend the 2018 "Book Expo America" being held there -- and walked into a whole giant building all filled with nothing but books, I couldn't help but think that I had just entered a building filled with hundreds and hundreds of my very best friends.

     Once the doors of the Book Expo opened, I immediately made my way down to Soho Crime's exhibit booth and scored an advance-reader copy of the hilarious new Colin Cotterill book, "Don't Eat Me" (and, yes, I did feel rather strange reading a book with a title like that on the subway -- but well worth every stare).  https://sohopress.com/soho-crime/

     I also gleefully swept up five other murder-mystery books by some of my favorite Soho authors -- Martin Limon, Timothy Hallinan, Mick Herron, Gina Apostol and James R. Benn.  I love murder mysteries because, unlike in real life, justice is always done by the time we reach the last page.  https://www.globalresearch.ca/drivers-behind-the-war-on-syria-and-the-impoverishment-of-us-all/5644381

     The next evening Bernie Sanders spoke at the Book Expo.  Gotta love Bernie.  Good grief, how I wish he was in the White House right now instead of having to helplessly watch Trump's yard sale of everything that is American.  I voted for Bernie.  The only thing that used to be wrong with Bernie was his tolerant policy toward Israeli neo-colonialist state-sponsored terrorism.  But recently he has been wising up -- as have the rest of Americans who actually keep up with the horrors happily inflicted onto the rest of the Middle East by neo-con Zionists.

     How does that joke go?  "We should make America name Israel as its 51st state," someone recently suggested to Benjamin Netanyahu.

     "Why should we do that?" answered Bibi.  "Then we would only have two Senators in Washington.  Right now we already have 50."  And yet people talk about Russia buying our elections?  Donnie the Mole and Crooked Hilary could never have been bought off by Russia -- because Israeli neo-cons already owned both of them body and soul.  Humph.

     While at the Book Expo, I also tried to get a few publishers interested in re-publishing my book "Bring Your Own Flak Jacket: Helpful Tips for Touring Today's Middle East".  https://www.amazon.com/Bring-Your-Own-Flak-Jacket/dp/0978615719 

     "But this book was written in 2007," one publisher exclaimed.

     "So what," I replied.  "It's still totally right up-to-date.  In the Middle East?  Nothing has changed at all in the last decade.  Americans, Israeli neo-cons and Saudis are still brutally slaughtering anything that moves."  Except that now they are getting even better at it.  http://foreignpolicy.com/2018/06/11/u-s-backed-catastrophe-brewing-in-yemen/

    And then I had lunch with my friend Dinky -- who casually mentioned that her son had just won the Pulitzer Prize.  "What!"  Wow!  And her son, James Forman Jr, also spoke at the Book Expo.  And thus I was gently reminded that books weren't my only friends.  But books, however, will always remain my really really good friends.  https://www.jamesformanjr.com/

_____________________________

Stop Wall Street and War Street from destroying our world.   And while you're at it, please buy my books.  https://www.amazon.com/Jane-Stillwater/e/B00IW6O1RM

Tuesday, June 12, 2018


Fathers Day: America's grim tradition of stealing children from their parents continues...

     America's current moral decline and decay can easily be traced back through its barbaric treatment of children. 

     First there were those nasty "boarding schools" for the thousands of terrified Native American children who were dragged screaming away from their helpless parents.

     Then there were those ghastly slave markets that ruthlessly dragged young children away from their mothers and heartlessly sold them into wretched lives of hard labor and chains.

     And now Americans are at it again -- dragging young children away from their undocumented Latino parents and shoving these human babies into cages as if they were animals in a zoo.

     Not exactly a good way to celebrate Fathers Day, America.  What's with that? 

PS:  America's foreign policy, however, appears to more closely resemble King Herod rather than Oliver Twist.  With the possible exception of paying for those infamous Israeli neo-colonialists' prison camps for Palestinian children, America's foreign policy tends more toward Herod's "slaughter of the innocents" in places like Syria, Central Africa, Libya, Afghanistan, Ukraine, Yemen, Vietnam, etc.

     Am I being too hard on America here -- or not hard enough.  Either we are decent and moral people  -- or we are not.





















_____________________________

Stop Wall Street and War Street from destroying our world.   And while you're at it, please buy my books.  https://www.amazon.com/Jane-Stillwater/e/B00IW6O1RM

Wednesday, June 06, 2018


There's a Whole Foods in Harlem now...

     I was raised in the suburbs.  Back in the Boomer days, suburbs were spozed to be wonderful places where residents could relax, enjoy nature and be happy.  Funny how it didn't work out that way.  My father commuted to his job Monday through Friday, was gone from 6:00 in the morning to 8:00 at night and also worked a second job on weekends to pay off our suburban mortgage.  So much for smelling the flowers.  And my college-educated mother was bored out of her freaking mind with her life there as chief maid, cook, bottle-washer and nanny to her mostly-absent husband and two ungrateful brats.  Ah, white flight.

     There are clearly a whole lot of advantages to living in a city.

     However, for Black people who were forced to live in cramped city slums, who had no access to decent employment or education and who were the targeted customers of their drug-dealing CIA sales reps, urban life was a nightmare.  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=W4U1ozz7nM8

     "Wanna change places?" bored suburban commuters and housewives suddenly started asking Black people.  "We'll take back Harlem and you can go enjoy the wonders of nature by living in a tent under a bridge."

     Can you believe it?  First Black people were forced into Harlem because nobody else wanted it.  Red-lining, slumlords and all that.  Crappy schools.  Unemployment.  Bigotry.  80% of the housing stock in Harlem was under-code and sucked eggs.  "But those are genuine brownstones!" the Yuppies and Techies suddenly cried -- and suddenly their race for real estate in Harlem was on.  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zOoutJtMCi8

     Black people originally came to Harlem in desperate flight from the extreme brutality of Southern Jim Crow.  Seeking their freedom in New York City, they soon discovered that they were living in a concentration camp instead.

     Back in those days Harlem may not have been surrounded by barbed wire like Manzanar or Auschwitz or Gaza, but the iron fist of American social norms (not to mention the New York PD's iron fist) kept Black people trapped there just the same.  And so they did the best that they could and made this new Harlem concentration camp their home -- "made something out of nothing".  But now they don't even have that.

     I just got back from a walking tour of Harlem.  In Harlem today, signs reading "Condo for Sale" are now a common sight.  There is even a freaking Whole Foods located right there on the corner of Malcolm X Boulevard and 125th Street.  So much for white flight.  Goodbye Harlem.  It's now called Central Park North.

     And when brownstones in Harlem are sold for several million dollars each (one seller was asking over six million bucks), who gets all that money?  Does it go to the Black grandmother who had religiously paid her rent every month for the last 50 years?  Even though her landlord never made any repairs and yet charged her double the amount that White people were paying for the same sized unit elsewhere in Manhattan?

     Or do those millions of dollars go to the slumlord who had already made more profit on each brownstone than is morally possible?  What would your educated guess be?

_____________________________

Stop Wall Street and War Street from destroying our world.   And while you're at it, please buy my books.  https://www.amazon.com/Jane-Stillwater/e/B00IW6O1RM

Sunday, June 03, 2018


Meeting the Buddha for lunch in New York City

      For some unknown reason, I've only been able to do a half-fast for Ramadan this year.  Here's me, barely limping along without food until mid-afternoon, never quite making it to sundown.  My bad.  But I'm doing the best that I can -- in solidarity with the millions of tortured, vilified, starving and endangered people in Gaza, Bethlehem, Syria, Libya, Iraq, Yemen, Afghanistan, etc.

     On Sunday I broke my fast with a nice bowl of rice pudding at Barney Greengrass's famous kosher restaurant on the Upper West Side, an area that many former Israelis have immigrated into lately (apparently one in six Israelis no longer live in Israel and have been voting against Netanyahu with their feet).

     On Monday I broke my fast in Harlem, eating shrimp and grits at that iconic luncheonette founded by "Sylvia, the Queen of Soul Food" -- followed by a quick trip to the Apollo theater to buy an iconic T-shirt and reminisce on the good old days when I used to buy a seat in the second balcony every Saturday night for only a dollar and change.

     On Tuesday I broke my fast with some kosher rice pudding from B&H Dairy -- after a morning spent at the historic Riverside Church.  Long story.  Here's the abridged version.  The 17th Gyalwa Karmapa is the latest reincarnation of a long line of Karmapas going back almost to the Buddha himself.  This Karmapa talked to us about compassion, the highest form of human emotion.  And right then and there, in the 26th pew on the left, I had a sudden enlightening realization -- that most of our leaders in Washington are totally lacking the compassion gene and will probably be reborn as toads.  https://www.nytimes.com/2015/08/21/nyregion/bh-dairy-in-the-east-village-reopens-after-months-of-red-tape.html

     So.  After this powerful experience with the Buddha, I'm now starting to wonder exactly who I will be having lunch with next.  Mohammad, Abraham, Jesus?  I'm sure that each one of them would all serve up a nice hot dish of compassion too.

     The moral here?  Human beings today are starving for compassion -- not for wealth or power.  And they are certainly not starving for more "war".  We have totally grossed out on all that shite already.

     And I betcha anything that Jesus would never want America to spend a trillion dollars on some stupid 2000-mile-long border wall -- and that Abraham would never want America to spend a trillion dollars on some stupid Wall in Palestine either.  And surely Mohammad would never want those freaky-weird spoiled-brat princes in Saudi Arabia to join with America in spending a trillion dollars slaughtering Muslims in Yemen and Syria either.

_____________________________

Stop Wall Street and War Street from destroying our world.   And while you're at it, please buy my books.  https://www.amazon.com/Jane-Stillwater/e/B00IW6O1RM

Friday, May 25, 2018


Thoughts on taking the re-eye to New York City tomorrow

     When I used to have a steady job at the law office, I could always travel in style -- flying to places, using major airlines and even staying in actual hotels.  Those days are long gone.

     These days it's all about taking the Greyhound or the MegaBus or using cheapo airlines that don't allow luggage, and sleeping on couches.  But still.  It gets me there.  Use it or lose it.  Anything to get to New York.

    On this trip I'm going to do some new things while I'm there -- stay in Harlem, follow the trail of the Harlem Renaissance, relive my youth spent in the second balcony of the Apollo Theater and, hopefully, eat at the Red Rooster.

     But I'm also going to do some things that are the same -- attend the grand BookExpo America at the Javits Center, eat borsch and rice pudding at B&H Dairy on the Lower East Side and take a bus past the United nations building, giving it the one-finger salute for its role in enabling all those NATO/American/Saudi/Israeli brutal, inhumane and criminal massacres in the Middle East to go on and on and on and on and on.  http://www.bookexpoamerica.com/Events/An-Evening-with-Senator-Bernie-Sanders/

     At the BookExpo, I'm gonna once again attempt to peddle my four wonderful books to the publishers and attendees there.  "Librarians!  Listen up!"  I've just finished re-reading my first book, "Bring your Own Flak Jacket: Helpful Tips for Touring Today's Middle East" -- and it's as funny and accurate and crucially important today as it was back in 2007.  https://www.amazon.com/Bring-Your-Own-Flak-Jacket/dp/0978615719/ref=asap_bc?ie=UTF8

     Yes, all of that shite that I wrote about back then is still going on today -- and from Afghanistan to Gaza, America is still the biggest problem in the Middle East.  And we Americans are still sleeping on couches and pinches pennies to pay for it too.

     And New York City is still well worth a trip on the red-eye.

_____________________________

Stop Wall Street and War Street from destroying our world.   And while you're at it, please buy my books.  https://www.amazon.com/Jane-Stillwater/e/B00IW6O1RM

Tuesday, May 22, 2018


"Mapping Our Return": My report on the 2018 al Awda conference

    The conference was held in Long Beach, CA recently.  It was an emotional and informative experience.  I have written down some of my notes here, of course.  But the title of the conference itself was the most important aspect.  "Mapping Our Return".

     How can one possibly map a return to a country that has been brutally seized via murderous force coldly administered by heartless invaders, ones who now have the full military and financial support of American Zionists -- as well as the possession of approximately 200 nuclear bombs?  How indeed.

    I would suggest that one road we could outline on this map of return is to hold the next al Awda conference in Jerusalem -- entitled "The Year of Our Actual Return".  And Palestinian-Americans with dual citizenship could all attend this conference too.  Just an idea.

     The conference itself opened with a moment of silence for the thousands of victims of Zionist apartheid in Gaza.  I still cannot believe, in a modern world such as ours where our children watch all that caring and sharing on Sesame Street for crying out loud, people and governments and especially the UN still allow such injustice and brutality to exist.

     "Al Awda (the Return) binds Palestinians legally, culturally and morally together -- even despite 70 years of being constantly attacked by well-funded detractors," said the first speaker.  "And we Palestinians, like all other human beings, have the right to leave our homes in the morning and to know that our homes will still be there when we return."

     Even though Zionist thieves stole everything Palestinians have, the victims are just supposed to forget this?  No, no and no.

     "Who owns Jewishness?" the next speaker asked.  "Zionists claim to own it but they do not."  And Palestine is not a "revolution industry" either.  Palestinians just want to go home.

     Oslo was a disaster.  Among other things, it sold Palestinians out to the NGOs, like in Haiti.  "There are 10,000 NGOs in Haiti -- where the money goes to the NGOs instead of the people.  The same thing happened in Palestine after Oslo -- deliberate structural violence.  Oslo is an unbelievable colonialistic document.  You should read it some time."

     Then we watched a film entitled "1948: Creation & Catastrophe," showing the horrors of the Nakba itself.  Old footage of sad Palestinian refugees and dead Palestinian bodies.  Not a dry eye in the house.

      The next speaker was a professional comedian.  "You get a lot more people to listen to you if you use humor to get your point across," he said.  But if you dare to get too political, forget about ever going mainstream.  You gotta sell your soul to the Zionists in order to do that."

     A fashion designer spoke next.  "I could not get a visa to show my designs at New York Fashion Week.  But when I showed them in Milan, Israelis claimed credit for my designs!"  But Israelis still won't let Palestinians in the West Bank work for her to produce garments.  No surprise there.

      Two more ideas were presented regarding how to support al Awda:  Money and Truth.  Money will help support the creativity of Palestinian artists -- and money will also help get out the truth.  "Elevate and make visible the political reality" of the Nakba, of the West Bank, of Gaza, of Shatila and Yarmouk.

     Next a cartoonist from Brazil spoke and he said all the right stuff about Palestine -- but then started riffing off on happenings in Syria and Russia, something he obviously hadn't researched very well.  Several of us audience members descended on him afterwards and tried to set him straight.  "No, Assad is not an evil dictator.  No, Russia is not the imperialist here."  But did he listen to us?  Who knows.

      Other speakers talked about taxation without representation, ethnic cleansing in Jerusalem and the brutal attacks on Gaza.  "Israel fears all Palestinian resistance -- but especially nonviolent resistance.  The Great March of Return terrified Israelis."

     Next speaker.  "What we have done for the last 70 years hasn't been working because we are here and not in charge of Palestine.  We must attack -- attack every lie.  Every time.  All the disinformation.  It's not the Zionists' promised land, Zionists are not the only descendants of Abraham.  Israel is not a democracy.  It is not even Jewish.  And it is definitely not a friend of the United States."

      Then there was a Gala dinner and a fashion show.  Time well spent.  Time to take the #61 bus back to my hotel.

_____________________________

Stop Wall Street and War Street from destroying our world.   And while you're at it, please buy my books.  https://www.amazon.com/Jane-Stillwater/e/B00IW6O1RM

Friday, May 18, 2018


Rwanda & Israel: "Off with their feet!"

     Back in Rwanda in 1995, when the Hutus used machetes to hack off the feet of the Tutsis, the whole world was stunned and shocked by these brutal acts of total barbarity.  https://canadiandimension.com/articles/view/hotel-propaganda1

     Yet when Israeli snipers recently used high-powered rifles to fire expanding bullets into the legs of nonviolent protesters in Gaza, the whole world seems to be defending the Israelis.  "Hamas made us do it," the Israelis cry.  "And they were being anti-Semitic too!"  https://www.facebook.com/NowThisPolitics/videos/2053443944687085/

     The Hutus are condemned as being barbaric.  The Israelis get away with it because they claim to have God on their side.

     Either way, the results are the same.  Thousands of Tutsis had their feet cut off -- and now thousands of Gazans also face having amputated feet.  http://mondoweiss.net/2018/05/american-response-massacre/

     Isn't it amazing what a little propaganda can do.

_____________________________

Stop Wall Street and War Street from destroying our world.   And while you're at it, please buy my books.  https://www.amazon.com/Jane-Stillwater/e/B00IW6O1RM

Monday, May 14, 2018


1948: How Jews brought the Nazis with them to Palestine

     Last week I attended an Al Awda conference in Long Beach and (mostly) had a wonderful time.  Rode down there on the MegaBus, stopped in Burbank to visit Central Casting, was taken to dinner by friends and toured the historic Queen Mary -- but then, once at the conference itself, we all got down to the sad business of listening to 70 years' worth of Palestinian horror stories. 

     Right off the bat, we were shown a documentary film entitled "1948: Creation & Catastrophe".  It was scary.  I'm still in shock.  At the beginning of this film, we watched many happy images of European Jews arriving in Palestine -- but these joyful scenes were soon followed by many brutal and horrific images of these same European Jews doing the exact same thing to Palestinians that the Nazis had done unto them.  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uuLPhGBPq38

     "Throw your son into the oven," one Jewish soldier screamed at a Palestinian father, a baker.

     "I cannot," said the father.  And so the Jewish soldiers threw the son into the flames themselves -- and then threw the father in after him for good measure.

     Over 500 Palestinian villages were gutted and destroyed -- even worse in scope than the destruction of the Warsaw Ghetto.

     The Jews arrived in overcrowded boats.  The Palestinians left on overcrowded boats.  The similarities were not lost on the film's viewers.  And the UN jumped into the mix too.  Instead of splitting Palestine equally between Jews and Palestinians, the UN gave the European Jews all the good areas and herded Palestinians into the scrubs.  The Jews got Haifa and Tel Aviv.  The Palestinians got the Negev desert.

     What else can I say?  The documentary showed us the faces of thousands of Palestinian refugees being driven from their homes (that is, the Palestinians that were not slaughtered).  "Down all the roads they came..." carrying their babies and owning only the clothes on their backs.  And these roadsides were littered with the corpses of dead babies.

     So much for erasing the tainted memories of the Holocaust inflicted on European Jews by the Nazis.  Now these very same Jews were deliberately creating a Palestinian Holocaust.  Watching this film, I suddenly realized that the Nazis too had come to Palestine.  The Jews hadn't escaped the Nazis after all.  The Nazis too had come to Palestine -- hidden in the souls of the surviving European Jews.

     And now, 70 long miserable years later, there seems to be hardly any Jews left in Israel today.  "But how can that be," you might ask.  Because most Israelis appear to have turned into the same fascist types like their leaders Netanyahu and Lieberman -- who will do anything for power and money.  So much for Moses and the Torah.

PS:  Israeli neo-colonialists today are clearly biting off far more than they can chew -- attacks on Syria, attacks on Lebanon, attacks on Gaza, attacks on Jenin, Nablus, Hebron, Ni'lin and Bethlehem.  Nuclear weaponry, torture centers, gigantic jails, night raids.  Imagine if Israelis had used all that $$$ for good.  Imagine if they finally stopped behaving like Nazis.  https://www.truthdig.com/articles/killing-gaza/

     Am I being anti-Semitic here?  Hell, no.  I'm just being pro-justice.  Old-school Jewish prophets such as Jeremiah, Amos, Isaiah and even Moses all warned us that justice is really really really important, right?  So were all of these great prophets being anti-Semitic when they said this?  Hardly.  And neither am I.
_____________________________

Stop Wall Street and War Street from destroying our world.   And while you're at it, please buy my books.  https://www.amazon.com/Jane-Stillwater/e/B00IW6O1RM

Tuesday, May 08, 2018


Mothers Day: Nobody told me that childbirth would hurt so much

     Now that Mothers Day is almost upon us, I've been thinking a lot about the fine art of giving birth -- and now have reached one seminal conclusion based on both experience and scientific research.  "There is no way that it's not gonna hurt."  Take myself for example.

Baby # 1:  I was so totally naive before going into labor.  Was at a late-night party in Greenwich Village (and unsuccessfully trying to chat with Bob Dylan) when my stomach suddenly started getting really bad menstrual cramps.  Huh?  I'm nine months pregnant.  I'm not spozed to be having cramps!  So I street-hiked off to the Women's' Infirmary, suffered through two hours of intense labor, fought off major attempts to give me anesthetics, screamed a lot and then gave birth to a girl.

Baby # 2:  Moved back to California, got pregnant again, went into labor, finally recognized the symptoms, couldn't find a ride to the hospital and ended up persuading my speed-freak neighbors to give me a lift.  Why not.  They were gonna be up all night anyway.  Once at the hospital, I started screaming and hollering once again.  The nurses told me to shut up.  They were old-school.  Two hours later, out popped another baby girl.

Baby # 3:  While suffering from stage-nine pregnancy and looking as big as a house, I moved all my stuff into a new apartment in Berkeley, finished unpacking the last box, gave a deep sigh of relief -- and went into labor.  "Another girl?" I asked.  When they told me it wasn't, this unexpected announcement surprised me so much that I actually asked the nurse, "If it's not a girl, then what could it be?"  

     "It's a boy!" she replied.  Who knew.

Baby #4:  I was finally beginning to realize where babies come from -- but too late.  "You need a C-section," stated the doctor.  Over my dead body!  "That can be arranged."  But I somehow managed to fight off the obstetrical team (literally) and three hours later yet another baby girl popped out -- butt first.

     And as my children grew up, I tried my very hardest to be a good mother.  I really did.  I honestly did.  Must have done something right.  I guess.  Years later, all four of my adult children are alive and doing well.  But how do other women manage to be so good at motherhood and take to it like a duck to water instead of almost drowning?  Hats off to you.  I salute you on Mothers Day.  Good job!

     And I have also discovered another way that childbirth can really hurt.  As the British phrase it, I'd given birth to "One heir and three spares" -- thinking that surely at least one of the four will come visit me when I finally get carted off to the rest home?  But this is never to be.  Just as I'm starting to get old, boring, needy and poor, they've all thought up some cheesy reason or other to bail.  All that childbirth pain for nothing!  Rats.  Not even any Mothers Day cards for me.  I warned you.  I told you that childbirth hurt.

     But still and all, I'm definitely not the worst mother in the world.  I never gave birth to or raised any babies that grew up to be monsters.  None of my kids have blown up the World Trade Center, helped cover up the plot to murder JFK or were personally responsible for the slaughter of over a million human beings in the Middle East!  At least I'm not Barbara Bush.

PS:  Will be spending Mothers Day in Long Beach of all places.  Am going there to attend the Al Awda conference on Palestine http://al-awda.org/conference13/ 

     What is happening in Gaza right now is totally painful too.  And insanely criminal as well.  In the past four weeks, Israeli snipers using high-powered rifles have deliberately succeeded in knee-capping and/or maiming approximately 7,000 non-violent Palestinian protesters.  That's just gotta hurt.  If anyone needs some five-star mothering right now, it's those poor wretched Palestinian rebels.  Mothers Day in Gaza is gonna be painful for sure.  Oy vey!  https://jpstillwater.blogspot.com/2018/05/horror-movie-in-gaza-theyre-eating-our.html

_____________________________

Stop Wall Street and War Street from destroying our world.   And while you're at it, please buy my books.  https://www.amazon.com/Jane-Stillwater/e/B00IW6O1RM

Monday, May 07, 2018


Photos of ancient and damaged churches in Aleppo
     These photos that a friend in Aleppo just sent me are amazing!   Everything seems so freaking OLD in Aleppo -- but in a good way.  We have NOTHING like this in America.  Makes me want to win the lottery and get on the first flight to Aleppo.  I love old stuff.  When I was a kid, I always dreamed of going to Egypt and living in a pyramid.  Obviously that didn't happen.

     Please pray for the brave Syrian army.  Over 60,000 of its soldiers have been slaughtered and murdered while trying to defend Syria from ISIS and the United States.
____________________________________________________ 
 


1.  At the centre of the photo, there is the star of David formed out of the window’s steel bars.  The symbol was seen in so many historical areas.  It was a normal sign used by all faiths in decorations and religious shield (mostly by Christians in this case) centuries before the creation of the state of Israel.  The building is on the Little Cross square.
image1.jpeg  
2.  Epitaphs inside the Armenian Forty Martyrs Church (AFMC).  Some of them, like this one, are written in three languages: Armenian, Arabic, and either English or French.
3.  Damage at the top floor of the AFMC.  Its main door was damaged and the opening was filled with temporary blocks and cement, as shown in the previous examples.  The façade is dated back to 1840s, with a renovation dated 1992.
image1.jpeg

4.  The bell tower of the AFMC.  1912.
5.  The bell tower of the Greek Orthodox Church (GOC) in the background, seen from the shared yard of the AFMC.



         
 



image1.jpeg
6 and 7.  Samples of the mortars that were shelled upon the heads and roofs of the people and their houses and churches, are shown in the AFMC yard.

8 and 9.  Some decorated architectural features from the 19th century in the AFMC.












image1.jpeg  10.  In memory of Armenian genocide 1915.  Another genocide took place a century later against them and the rest of Syrians from the grandsons of the Ottomans, in Aleppo and everywhere else on the Turkish-Syrian borders.



11.  Destruction to the AFMC gate and entrance seen from the Little Cross square.
12.   The GOC’s domes and roofs are of the most damaged ones among the churches.


 13.  The alter and eastern niche in the GOC looks in good condition.


14.  One of the copies of the original work that dates back to 1750.  I didn’t have the chance to know if the original one was looted or just hidden in a safe place.
image1.jpeg
15.  The Lady’s Lament Church, for Greek Orthodox Community (GOC)
image1.jpeg
16.  Epitaphs and the internal gate of the GOC, dated 1852.

     Then my friend sent me these ones too.  The titles and descriptions are also his: 

      From the ancient Christian sector of the city -- or to part of it, to whatever left of it.  It’s called al-Jadeedah, or le-Jdaïdé (the New) for female, meaning the new part of the walled city of Aleppo, New neighbourhood, new sector, new Aleppo.... it was new when it had been built after the Mongol conqueror Timur (Tamerlane) sacked Aleppo in 1400AD. 

     People started coming back to the ruins of Aleppo little by little, and the Christians started building that sector to the north of the walled city, outside of it. Most of its buildings now belong to the ottoman era (16th-20th centuries), having beautiful traditional courthouses, schools, and churches. 

     Christian Arabs and Armenians lived in it for centuries before it was destroyed recently in the war, mainly by the armed gangs supported by Turkey.  It seems that their hatred to the Armenians is timeless!  The ancient sector housed around 11-15 different Christian sects with their churches.  Some of them are pretty small (like a group of 4 churches, mostly Armenians, sharing one court, smaller than one courthouse in a big traditional house).




image1.jpeg

     "The Maronite Cathedral 1873-1923 (50 years building it). In front of it is a statue of a seated Maronite bishop called Gabriel Germanos Farhāt (1670-1732), whom the square is called after him (Farhat Square). The left tower had a clock that chant every 15 min. part of the Ave Maria tone. It had been restored recently by an Armenian clock technician, who was among the crowd today, and received a great salutes and greetings from everyone.



image2.jpeg

Signs of the damage on its façade.



image9.jpeg


Quote from the Bible: Wisdom of Yeshua son of Sirach: 48: 4:  (Elijah!  Your miracles were marvelous!  No one else can boast of such deeds!).

Statue of Saint Elijah in side the Maronite Church - 1929



image5.jpeg

The second gate of the Maronite Cathedral (1873). It used to be called by then as the church of the Alive Saint Ilïās (Elijah).



Restoration inside the Maronite Cathedral. Interesting that the engineer who is working over there is a Muslim.  The crisis united people from different faiths against the terrorists. It divided them somewhere else though.  You can see the sky over here because the roof was destroyed and collapsed completely.


image7.jpeg

Inside the roofless Maronite church - western entrance.



image3.jpeg

Decorated water well in side the Maronite church. Interesting note said that the designer was European, he put his design on a transparent sheet. But the local professional sculptor knows no Latin a century ago, so by mistake, he mirrored the Initial letters of the Holy Name of Jesus (IHS) (Iesus Hominum Salvator) ! They left it as it is.



image3.jpeg


Melkite Greek Catholic Church (MGCC), on Farhat Square.



image1.jpeg


Statue of Maximos III Michael Mażloum (1779-1855), the patriarch of the MGCC (1833-1855).  The engraves below show his meeting with one of the Popes, and the other scene shows his meeting with one of the Ottoman sultans.  The whole statue was built in memory of him a century after his death.  1955.



image1.jpeg

The entrance of the MGCC, dated 1852, as a restoration after it had been burned in an uprising in the mid 19th century.  The decoration above the door considered by some as the Syrian/Alepian rococo style.



image2.jpeg

Inside the MGCC.


Restoration of the roof and dome of the MGCC.  The altar is decorated with the same rococo style is hidden behind the scaffolding.



image1.jpeg



image6.jpeg



image3.jpeg



image5.jpeg



image5.jpeg

Through the cobbled paths, arches and vaults intervene the way.  Parts of those houses are built above them. Damage at the roofs and upper edges are clear in some photos.  Those upper rooms on the vaults break the boredom and the long paths, and gave several spots with shades and shadows among the sunny ways.



image3.jpeg



image4.jpeg

Properties (houses, shops, churches , and restaurants) had been looted in the war, many original doors had been damaged or broken. Temporarily owners had closed the opening of the doors with stones and cement till they fix and prepare the original doors.



image1.jpeg\

This little square is formed out of two intersected paths in X-like square, called the Little Cross, dates back to early ottoman era (16th century). The amount of destruction is huge around here, where the Armenian churches and houses are. People were having tears in their eyes, while others were cursing the terrorists and whom ever supported them (mainly the Gulf states, Turkey, and the US).

image2.jpeg


One of the big traditional courthouses, from the mid 18th century, that had been turned into a school in the last decades, and it’s housing some refugees today.

Different details for each and every opening.



image4.jpeg

The Īwān, which is the biggest vaulted niche located in each traditional courtyard house on the southern direction.  Some old inscriptions inside it mentioned the Virgin Mary’s name, as a proof that the owners were Christians.



image5.jpeg

More decorations that takes the Star of David style, although the house originally was for Christian family.  That was centuries before the creation of the state of Israel.



image6.jpeg

Internal motifs on the wooden cornice that have paints of fruit dishes
... and poetry just below the ceiling.



image1.jpeg

Another house which was housing Institute Saint Basile, for one of the Catholic sects.



image2.jpeg



image5.jpeg



image6.jpeg

Fig tree in the courtyard!



image3.jpeg

Damages at the roofs of Basile institute.


image4.jpeg



     I have to mention that half or more of the Jdeïdé area was closed for people.  It had been heavily damaged and destroyed after been looted by the terrorists.  The civilian resistance is to stay and rebuild it again as it was and even better.  Arab Christians and Armenians staying in the region are the best resistance to all the the foreigners’ agendas to cleanse the Levant from minorities and Christians.  

     I know that many had already left to Europe and other countries, but many of them are still living here and asking their families to come back and help in rebuilding their properties.  It’s a long difficult struggle, but not an impossible one. 🤞🏻


_____________________________

Stop Wall Street and War Street from destroying our world.   And while you're at it, please buy my books.  https://www.amazon.com/Jane-Stillwater/e/B00IW6O1RM

 
Me, in Damascus, 2014