Tuesday, January 22, 2008

Today: by Ann

Hope your holidays were Merry .Here's to a 2008 filled with Peace and Happiness to all of you.

Reed and I spent our Christmas holidays in the Occupied Territories (Jerusalem and West Bank) and in Tel Aviv (Israel). We were in Bethlehem on Christmas Eve and stood in the very spot where Jesus was born (true story).

At sunset we gazed over Shepherds Fields and tried to imagine what the voices of those angels who were heard on high sounded like as they announced the birth of the baby Jesus but it was really hard because the Israeli construction crews were hammering away.

Busy little elves building illegal settlements. What would Jesus say about the flagrant violation of UN Resolution 242? (WWJSAFVUN242?).

Not sure who promised this:

Thank God George Bush showed up to make peace in the Middle East. He's only been in office for 7 years.

My job is pretty amazing. Today I chatted with a former aviation engineer who had visited Seattle in the late 70's. His host from Boeing took him Sockeye fishing in the Sound and their dinghy deflated and they had to be rescued. It felt surreal to be having this conversation with a refugee en route to resettlement in Utah.
Words like Mosul and Anbar have taken on new meaning as there are faces and stories to go with the names of these places. I have met engineers, doctors, lawyers, librarians, cartographers and artists. The stories are sad and heartbreaking but as always there is a whole lotta hope in the room that the US will offer a new start in life. I try to feel hopeful too- that people will be kind to them and recognize what they have been thorough and not call them terrorists and beat them up at the 7-11. And that all the lost husbands, wives, parents, children, neighbors, and limbs are not in vain but of course we all know that nothing will ever be worth it.

Meanwhile we work out at our swanky gym across the street from Starbucks and Bennigans. On TV I watch Oprah, Dr. Phil and Shaq's Big Challenge (the latter being my favorite). Hummers careen through neighborhoods of McMansions that would make Carmela Soprano swoon. There is still the odd empty lot with a few Bedouin families and their grazing sheep but soon they will be gone as the Gulfies build their summer homes in Amman to escape the heat and the mall craze continues. We go to dinner parties with relief workers where conversation topics include the rising land costs in Kurdistan and the best carpet shops in Damascus. Our friends are Palestinians, Circassians, and Assyrians-not to mention Serbian, American, Italian and Romanian. I love the blue, blue sky and the olive trees and the kindness and complexity of the Arab culture. It's a fantastic place to be at a pivotal moment in history .

We are excited for spring (it's snowing today!)

and more days at the Dead Sea wallowing in the mud. In a few weeks I'll go to Cairo for work so we will spend Reed's birthday in Egypt.

Lots of people ask how to help. The resettlement agencies always need help-always. Many Iraqis are very highly educated and skilled... if you would like to help with job or financial assistance I can put people in touch with an agency in any city in the US. And of course the Burundians are still en route-I was interviewed for this article in the Des Moines Register: http://www.desmoinesregister.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=2008801130331

As always Reed updates the blog and if you click on a photo it will take you to the gallery: http://blog.reedko.com/

So here's to Peace on Earth. Let's hope that it actually materializes this year- Inshallah.
Mucho love, Ann

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