Israel’s hostile neighborhood – The Washington Post

Israel’s hostile neighborhood – The Washington Post.

This is a must read op-ed.  The challenges in the Middle East today are partially to do with the lack of a cohesive voice between Israel and the United States.  This op-ed is not about peace, but rather it is placing the onus on the United States, a rarity in writing.  I keep looking at the situation in the Middle East and I worry.  While I am not a prophet, the so-called democratization of Syria, Egypt and Libya, while it might be internally good (though that remains to be seen), scares me from a geo-political standpoint.  My bigger fear, however, is whether Israel can stand the storm if it gets worse.  Who will stand behind her? 

Back in 1953, an Egyptian army officer was asked by the magazine Al-Musawwar what he would write to Hitler if he were still alive. “My Dear Hitler,” he began gushingly, “I admire you from the bottom of my heart.” He proceeded to extol the German dictator for, among other things, creating dissension between “the old man Churchill and his allies, the sons of Satan.” If the mass murder of Jews bothered the officer in the least, he did not mention it. Years later, as the president of Egypt, he was himself murdered for making peace with the Jewish state. His name, of course, was Anwar Sadat.

The peace that Sadat manufactured is now unraveling, a thread here, a thread there. The Israelis and the Egyptians have traded insults of all sorts, and now the Israeli Embassy, always an edifice constructed out of wishful thinking, has been sacked by a Cairo mob. The Israeli ambassador is gone, and when he will return, if ever, is not clear.

 

<:ARTICLE>The Israeli-Egyptian peace is in jeopardy, and so is the cordial rapport Israel once had with Turkey. Along with Iran and Ethiopia, Turkey helped make up what was called “the strategy of the periphery,” the relationship that Israel’s founding prime minister, David Ben-Gurion, established with non-Arab nations. But Iran now is Israel’s mortal enemy, Ethiopia hardly matters and Turkey is bristling with hostility. Ankara wants Israel to apologize — not merely express regret — for its perfectly legal attempt to turn back a so-called humanitarian flotilla heading for Gaza last year. Nine people died. Israeli forces overreacted and now Turkey is doing the same.

Israel’s dilemma is that the Middle East, for all the talk of revolution, is slipping backward. Turkey is possibly evolving into an Islamic republic and even if this is not the case, it is reasserting its historical role as a regional power. Iran toppled its modernizing, Westernizing shah with his pro-Israel proclivities and in 1979 became a theocracy. And Egypt, long the leader of the Arab world, may find it cannot lead its own people. The peace with Israel has little support among the populace. It’s not just that Israel is not loved, it’s that Jews are hated.

Think back to Sadat writing his pretend letter to Hitler. This was eight years after the ovens of Auschwitz were demolished and much of the world was coming to grips with the enormity of the Holocaust. Yet not only could an Egyptian magazine solicit such letters, but an army officer with the intellectual wherewithal to someday run the country was an entrant. This suggests a society in which the Holocaust was thought to be either a Jewish concoction, a Jewish exaggeration or some sort of just deserts.

Since those days, the situation has evolved but not necessarily improved. Egyptian society, indeed the entire Arab world, has been drenched by a steady drizzle of government-approved or -tolerated anti-Semitism. It would take willful historical ignorance to dismiss the possible consequences. There are almost no Jews left in Egypt — the substantial community was expelled, first by Gamal Abdel Nasser and then by incessant oppression and fear — but there are plenty of Jews just over the border in Israel.

The clock must move backward for the United States as well. It took Harry Truman just 11 minutes to recognize the new State of Israel in 1948 — and he did so over the vociferous objection of some key aides, particularly the immensely important Gen. George C. Marshall, the secretary of state. As the historian and Israeli Ambassador Michael B. Oren writes in his book “Power, Faith and Fantasy,” Marshall felt so strongly that he told Truman to his face that if he recognized Israel, “I would vote against the president.” Truman didn’t blink.

Marshall’s arguments are not entirely invalid. The Arab world has the oil, the geography and the numbers. But the United States has the moral obligation to stick by the sometimes obstreperous democracy it felt morally obligated to embrace. The Obama administration has to show no daylight between it and Israel — never mind that Benjamin Netanyahu is no Ben-Gurion.

Leaders come and leaders go, but what remains are values and cultural forces that transform glacially. Sadat proved this. He was a confounding character who showed what is possible and what is not. He was hope and he was despair and, finally, he was tragedy. It’s clear he changed greatly over the years. It’s not so clear his country has.

 

Dignity Therapy: For The Dying, A Chance To Rewrite Life : NPR

Dignity Therapy: For The Dying, A Chance To Rewrite Life : NPR.

One of the important pieces of working with the dying is to give them or their families an opportunity to rethink and relay their lives to others.  We are afraid that we will not have a legacy, and as such, some of our fear of death could potentially be alleviated through reflection and story telling.  There is a formal methodology for this, which is called dignity therapy.  Unfortunately, for many, reflection comes too late because of other concerns getting in the way, such as the fear of telling the person the truth because if someone knows he is dying, the person will get very depressed.  Instead, dignity therapy is a means of working through the depression to find a place of meaning that will outlast one’s life. 

For several decades, psychiatrists who work with the dying have been trying to come up with new psychotherapies that can help people cope with the reality of their death. One of these therapies asks the dying to tell the story of their life.

This end-of-life treatment, called dignity therapy, was created by a man named Harvey Chochinov. When Chochinov was a young psychiatrist working with the dying, he had a powerful experience with one of the patients he was trying to counsel — a man with an inoperable brain tumor.

“One of the last times that I went into his room to meet with him, on his bedside table was a photograph of him when he had indeed been young and healthy and a bodybuilder, and it was this incredible juxtaposition of these two images,” says Chochinov.

So in the bed there’s his patient — this skeleton of a man — very pale and weak. On the bedside table, there’s this portrait of a glistening, muscled giant. And Chochinov says that sitting there, it was very clear to him that by placing this photograph in such a prominent position, the man was sending a message: This was how he needed to be seen.

As Chochinov continued his work with the dying, he confronted this again and again — this need people have to assert themselves in the face of death. And he started to wonder about it…

“When you face death, it’s like facing a wall, and it forces you to turn around and look at the life that you’ve lived,” says William Breitbart, a psychiatrist at Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center in New York. He’s been trying to develop new psychotherapies for the dying. He says that many people have the wrong idea about the dying process.

“The prevailing mythology is that you die the way you live, and you can’t change yourself in any way,” says Breitbart. “The fact is that the last few months of life — because of the awareness of death — create an urgency that facilitates growth and change.”

This, he says, is why something like dignity therapy can be good. Though there’s no evidence that it relieves depression or anxiety, he thinks it can help us change in the very last moment of our lives. After all, he says, we’ve all lived imperfect lives.

“All of us fail, and the process, the task of dying, is to relieve ourselves of this guilt, whether it’s forgiving yourself or asking others to forgive you,” says Breitbart. “Or to remember your life slightly differently. But that’s the task of dying.”

As for Frego, she says she’s developed a strange relationship to the document her mother put together. Since her mother’s death, Frego says she’s actually carried the document around with her. She has the story of her mother’s life, always at her side, knocking around in the bottom of her bag.