An Afternoon in Bethlehem

It was January of 2007, I turned 25 that December, when I found myself standing in a small room, decorated with a beautiful blue and gold traditional rug adorning the wall, holding my pack. The

Palestinians Burning American and Israeli Flags

flight from Pristina, Kosovo had been short in comparison to recent transoceanic hauls, but it brought a sense of tension and trepidation unknown on other travels. I arrived in Tel Aviv late in the afternoon for a 10 day trip, beginning in Jerusalem. A family friend met me at the airport, explaining that it was a good time for me to be there. A recent streak of violence had just ended, and the Israelis, it appeared, were coming to terms with the new Hamas government. While they were never going to except its legitimacy, or forget the apparent violent threat it posed, it seemed, for the moment, the seas had calmed.

 On the drive to my new, temporary home, an expansive flat located in a large Lutheran compound near the Mt. of Olives, with beautiful views of the surrounding valleys, my host explained the most recent goings on. The election of the Hamas government, which the United States deemed a terrorist organization (and still does), forced all U.S. government personnel from Palestine. My host, an employee of the United States Agency for International Development (USAID), a component of the U.S. State Department, said all projects in Palestine had been indefinitely suspended, forcing scores of aid workers to leave as a recognized timetable for the resumption of diplomatic relations hadn’t been negotiated, until shortly before my arrival. Continue reading

In Response To: The Fight Over Medical Marijuana (NY Times Op-ed)


While I am neither on the side of those who oppose or those who condone the legalization of marijuana, it has, as a broad subject, been in the news more so recently, hence, the posts about it. If I were to label myself, as at some point all political views boil down to an either or perspective, I would be on the side of legalized use, outside of the bounds for strictly medical reasons. Conservative mores argue against allowing it to “become prevalent” in our society, for a variety of ethical reasons, either individually or socially, while alcohol is consumed for purely recreational activities and traditional customs, having as we have been witness, personally or anecdotally. Following such logic, alcohol should be illegal. Prohibition in the 1920’s, which failed (I’m able to walk into any convenience store, grocery store or gas station, talk about hypocritical, and purchase beer or malt liquor), because people fueled its production through the black market. The act of drinking, morphed from a socially accepted activity, consuming it at home, because it was available for purchase, or down at the pub, into a cultural rebelliousness that turned a cultural norm into a no-no, elevating those who broke the law into anti-establishment heros. And, who doesn’t worship, or at least appreciate, the role of rebel when an oppressive force has taken, or threatens, to take away a perceived liberty. Even if one didn’t drink during that era, as a personal choice, obviously not a result of lack of access, American individualism, and the support of individual rights, created tension between social expectations and legal code.

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