Tuesday, September 9, 2014

Slice of Life

Today's post is from Atlas Obscura, part of a larger article on what is across the street from famous destinations. Right before I saw this, I got an email from a friend in Haifa. She is my mentor on what is going on in Israel; smart, funny, devout, irreverent and involved, I've known her 20 years and she never fails to teach me a lot I don't know about, sometimes things I really don't want to know about, but there it is. Today's offering was based on an exchange we'd been having about the many *enemies* treated by Israeli medical personnel, something that isn't at all a rare occurrence but something not read or about in the standard media outlets. She wrote 
"Rabbi Hillel teaches that if you save one life, it's as if you've saved the whole world.  Every war Israel's been in, the medicos set up a tent to treat the locals.  In Lebanon,  the locals would come from great distances because they knew that the medical care was far superior to their own doctors.
While this last war was going on in Gaza, the PA leader Abu Mazen's wife was being treated in an Israeli hospital. There's the fiction of media reportage and then there's the reality of day to day life in the Near East."
This article illustrates another one of those moments.
Doctors at the country's northern hospitals are used to middle-of-the-night
calls to come and treat wounded Syrians brought across the border for
Israeli medical aid. The 12-year-old Syrian boy who arrived in serious
condition over the weekend to the IDF border post was the first to make the
trek by donkey from Damascus. 
The boy told doctors that he sustained serious
injuries - to his arms, one of his legs, and loss of vision in his eyes -
when a mortar shell exploded near his home in the outskirts of Syria's
capital city. The boy told Israeli doctors that his family had initially
taken him to a hospital in the Beqaa Valley in Lebanon where doctors
amputated his right hand. He was discharged after being administered first
aid to his other injuries but said the route home to Syria was blocked by
civil fighting. He told doctors that his brother had the idea to seat him on
the back of a donkey and cross the Syrian side of Mount Hermon to the
Israeli border. IDF soldiers transferred the boy to the Ziv Medical Center.
"The boy is conscious, he's still in shock, but he's communicating with usand understands what happened. His journey here was not an easy one," saidProf. Alexander Lerner, head of the orthopedic department at the Safed medical center. Prof. Lerner said the boy will need to undergo a series of operations. He said the Israeli medical team is working to save the boy's other limbs from amputation and "get them to function as much as possible."
The healing process will be a long one, Prof. Lerner said, "but the ultimate
goal is to get him walking on his legs again and using his wounded arm. From
the few stories we've heard so far, it seems we're talking about a very
brave boy who has been through a difficult ordeal and has survived. As such
I'm optimistic and believe that he will once again stand and walk on his own
two feet." (via Israel21c)
One thing my friend has told me, over and over and over again, is 'peace is a Western concept unknown in the Near/Middle East' and I, over and over again, knowing this is true, still cannot fathom these lives, that world. Especially from Culebra. Especially. So when I read that and then saw this I thought, there are some harmonics in the Universe going on here and I need to share them. 
Across the Street from the White House: Concepcion PicciottoWashington, DC 
article-imageThe White House Peace Vigil (photograph by Eneas De Troya/Flickr user)
The White House: home of the President of the United States and his family since 1801. Visitors schedule tours up to six months in advance for the chance to get an inside look of the mansion and experience the power of the Executive Office.
Across the street from the white columns, manicured grounds and sharp-eyed security guards is an old woman. She's holding a cardboard sign and a handful of leaflets. Her name is Concepcion Picciotto, and she has been there since 1981, carrying out the longest continuous act of political protest in the United States.
Concepcion, also known as Connie, emigrated from Spain to the United States in 1960. After a bitter divorce and custody battle, she moved to Washington DC, where she met her future partner in protest, activist William Thomas. Fueled by an intense desire for justice and peace, they both joined to protest nuclear proliferation and government deception.
They stood together for over 20 years, holding their signs, talking to anyone who would listen about the need for world peace and nuclear disarmament. The pair became a permanent fixture, despite years of sleeping in parks, living on donations, and enduring police interference. When Thomas passed away from heart failure in 2009, Picciotto was back at their protest encampment the next day, laden with memorial signs, continuing the call for worldwide peace.
Concepcion Picciotto with signs (Photograph by kansasphoto/Flickr user)
Currently, when she is not at her solemn protest, she lives in the Occupy Peace House, a non-profit haven for a political activists, owned by Thomas’s wife Ellen. Other residents of Peace House have joined Picciotto at her protest to give her time to rest, since her age and health problems are beginning to make it difficult for her to continue long shifts.
Thousands of people walk past the White House every day, and many congratulate Picciotto on her message and endurance. In a 2013 Washington Post articleshe replied to them: “People always tell me, ‘We need more people like you. [...] I tell them: ‘But it starts with you. You are responsible for what’s going on.’ If people were more concerned, I wouldn't have to be there."
article-imagePicciotto's protest camp in front of Lafayette Park (photograph by NCnDC/Flickr user)
Have a think about it Tuesday. Do something.