I told you I would talk about this more later, so I will try and get a little bit out now. At the end, if you want scroll down, I have a quick story about getting back to Israel. Back to the conversation I had with my friend Ahamad from Baghdad. Just to refresh, he was born and raised in Iraq and then 6 months after the invasion his parents were forced to leave the country. So now he is finishing his degree in Amman Jordan.

I look back at my thoughts on the war and realize that when we in North America choose to make an opinion on a serious political issue, such as war, or even extending to political support or aid, we have no idea how much the ramifications of those decisions can extend to millions of people. Before and after the war began, I was typically a supporter of it. I thought that it would be in the best interest of teh Iraqi people to oust Saddam with the help of the US. Who was I to make such a blanketed thought. Now, after hearing the stories from Ahamad and more importantly, from the life of someone who lived through it and from the perspective of an ordinary citizen, I would have to say that I think differently.

Ahamad lost many friends cause Saddam used them as human shields to protect important military installations. Not only that, his whole life has changed. He no longer has a place to call home. Jordan is not his home. He is Iraqi and will always be that. However, he cant go back, it is too dangerous. So he lives in a country, where he is not even a national. Imagine paying international tuition rates, and other likely fees cause you are not a citizen. The shocking thing is that Ahamad is only one of 1.5 million Iraqi refugees within Amman. Think of that, 1/4 of the city is Iraqi. All of the rich families have fled to other countries. So Baghdad no longer has the money it needs for proper investment. There lives have so dramatically changed and it is cause of the war.

Within our conversation both of us were very candid and open to share our thoughts and experiences. I told him about my friend Jeff who is in the military and currently in Baghdad. I mentioned how he is a good soldier who is there for the people and really is willing to love and help the Iraqis. Ahamad believed me and thought that there were SOME good US soldiers and at the same time many who were just overcome with violence and killing. THE THING IS THAT AHAMAD WHO SHOULD HAVE AN OPINION, WAS THE LEAST OPINIONATED PERSON I HAVE MET. Many people in Morocco and Egypt all had an opinion saying it was about Oil and Islam, not Ahamad. he was very careful to simply say how it had destroyed the lives of the people and he simply wanted to have his country back.

I understood and even agreed with this perspective. Now Iraq has turned into an all out killing field. Ahamad talked about how the Turks, the Russians and the Syrians are in the country all vying for political leverage with their military force. The Islamic fundamentalists are in fighting the normal citizens. This is why you have so much fighting. Who knows when it will end. SO overall, I told him that I was deeply sorry, as an American and that my opinoin now is that the US should do everything it can to rebuild what they have destroyed. I think we owe it to those people, even with our tax dollars.

What struck me the most is the humble posture he took. Right away he wanted to know, what Americans thougth of Iraqis. Did we think that they were all terrorists and killers? I instantly told him no. WEll, I hope not. BUt throughout my time with him he was so helpful. Even 3 days later when we arrived in Amman, we called him and he taxied in to meet us. He spent the day with us and showed us around the city. ALl the time he watched out for us, paid for our taxis and made sure we were taken care of. I couldnt believe the hospitality he showed us. It leaves me with even more to think about. What a wonderful soul i have met in a dark world and a dark region.

Lastly, a quick story about getting home to Israel. So we are in Jordan trying to figure out how to get to Israel. THe norht and south borders are safe, but hours away. The middle border, where we were, goes right through Palestine. With the terrorist bombings and recent political unrest, we thougt we would double check. So the first bus station we went too, had canceled their bus service to Jerusalem cause it was too dangerous. So then Ahamad talked to some Taxi drivers and in their words said “we cant gaurantee their lives”. Cause we look Israeli they thought we might be killed. So here the locals are telling us to take the airplane and spend the money, but be safe. So sure enough, we take the taxi and go straight through it all. After 5 hours at teh border we took a shuttle through Palestine and into Israel. Did I mention we slept the whole way? Oh the wonder of fear. I cant even begin to tell you how much our media in the west controls us with fear. That is for another blog though. I will get to that, but for another time.

Tomorrow we head north to Galilee. We are going to sleep on teh beaches there and bike around teh lake. Then Thursday we are hiking in the Golan heights and then off to NYC.
ALmost over, and I am so changed. One of the best things I ever did.