Sunday, October 29, 2023

Notations On Our World (Special Sunday Edition): Overtime: Andrew Cuomo, Scott Galloway, Melissa DeRosa |

Monday, October 23, 2023

Notations On Our World (Weekly Edition): #RandomThoughts For the Week



The only journey is the one within.
- Rainer Maria Rilke

We shall not cease from exploration
And the end of all of our exploring
Will be to arrive where we started
And know the place for the first time
- T. S. Eliot

The longest journey is the journey inwards.
Of him who has chosen his destiny, Who has started
upon his quest for the source of his being.
- Dag Hammarskjold

The key to growth is the introduction of
higher dimensions of consciousness into our awareness.
- Lao Tzu

Never make your home in a place.
Make a home for yourself inside your own head.
You'll find what you need to furnish it -
memory, friends you can trust, love of learning,
and other such things.
That way it will go with you wherever you journey.
- Tad Williams

Tuesday, October 10, 2023

Notations On Our World (Special Edition): On the War Between Israel and Gaza

 As the War Between Israel and Gaza rages on,  our team decided to feature this analysis from the  Coop Scoop that we hereby present throughout all our properties:

Coop Scoop: Israel --and the World-- on the Brink

Israel has plenty to criticize. None of it justifies Hamas' mass slaughter


October 10

By Marc Cooper

Criticize and condemn Israel as you please.  Denounce its 50 year long occupation of Palestinian territory. Its institutional subjugation of Palestinian and other Arab citizens as a  second class caste.  Call it an apartheid state.  Detest the supremely corrupt and always bellicose Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. Condemn his ultra-right and racist administration packed with some individuals as religiously zealous, as extreme and as bent on conflict as much as any Jihadist.

All of the above criticism and much much more can rightfully be placed at the feet of the Israeli regime.  

But none of it serves to justify, rationalize, downplay or, God Forbid, support the action taken by Hamas which has once again proven to be nothing more than a soul-less, horrific, terrorist organization willing to deliberately massacre hundreds —perhaps thousands---of innocent civilians merely because they are Israelis or, worse, because they are Jewish.

Forty years ago the ADL climbed on my back and tried to get me fired, claiming my coverage of the 1982 terror bombing of Beirut by Israel was “anti-semitic.”  This is this ADL’s favorite play and it had not effect on me as it was miles away from any truth.  I was well tuned into its cynical c=game of conflating all criticism of Israel with anti-semitism.

But as someone on the Left, and as a Jew, I can easily distinguish between legitimate anti-Zionist rhetoric and anti-semitism. They are not the same.  Or, at least, they should not be.

That is NOT the case with Hamas.  It is not a heroic, outnumbered underdog resistance group fighting the Leviathan state of Israel in order to liberate the Palestinians.  It is itself a corrupt, authoritarian  terrorist group who deeply and wholeheartedly believes that Israel and that all Jews must be eradicated from the Middle East.  A group that haphazardly launches thousands of rockets into civilian population centers, that butchers and kidnaps any Israeli that crosses their path, that takes 85 year old grandmothers hostages on the back of motorbikes and that invades a peaceful music concert to slaughter quite literally hundreds of it attendees should be condemned as a threat to humanity and itself should be eradicated.

Terrorists. Not freedom fighters.

There can be little doubt that among the scores of civilian hostages taken by Hamas this week were numerous Israeli civilians who just a week or two ago were in the streets protesting the Israeli government and demanding the resignation of Bibi Netanyahu.  That process will now be reversed.  Early reports from Israel indicate that the anti-Bibi liberal left opposition in Israel will now fold itself, at least for the moment uncritically, into the pro-Netanyahu coalition and will give full support to what will undoubtedly be IsraelÕs very violent and most likely over-reaction.  Indeed, there was a disturbing split screen moment several times on network news during the day.  While the narration spoke of the bloodshed and death, one side of the screen showed jumpy video of Hamas militants running over a fence. On the other side, long wide shots of massive urban destruction Ð collapsed and smoking buildings, piles of rubbles destroyed neighborhoods. That side, of course, was footage from Gaza which was already being laid waste to by the Israeli counter-response but the TV audience was never told it was Gaza, leaving the clear impression that the hellish destruction was on the Israeli side.

And that is the dilemma the thinking part of the world is faced with. On the one hand a ruthless terror organization that has much more in common with ISIS than, say the French resistance.  And a regime led by a corrupt authoritarian who was already well on his way  to dismantling Israeli democracy.  That does not make this a symmetrical both-sides-are-wrong conflict.  The Israelis are infinitely more powerful than the Palestinians who when we last looked did not have anywhere near the army, the air force, the superpower backing and, ultimately, the nuclear weapons possessed by the Jewish state.

On the other hand, the blame for what has happened this week rests firmly with Hamas who, like Bibi, have even less interest in a two state peaceful solution.  The previous half century of Israeli policy could and should absolutely be considered as contributing factors, but it is Hamas and only Hamas that triggered this onset of what will be a season of massacres.  And it is Hamas that is guaranteeing Bibi at least another couple of years in power (until it is “discovered” down the road a few years from now that his current response will not eliminate the Palestinian issue). There is also the issue of the monumental intelligence failure that we witnessed this week and once the fighting tapers off, months from now, the Israeli political class might just get around to investigating that little snafu Ð which Bibi will take the heat for.

What then leads Hamas to attack precisely at the moment when Netanyahu was at his weakest?  As far out as it sounds —and it is pretty far out—Hamas and most certainly the Palestinians of whom they represent only a portion, would have accomplished much more by trying to build bridges and peacefully ally with the anti-Bibi forces in the street rather than kidnap and butcher them. And this assumes there might be enough Israelis to make that happen…also a stretch.

While the US is making a lot of political hay out of it, there can be little question that Iran has a direct hand in this conflict.  They have long been supporters and funders of Hamas as well as the Hezbollah based on the northern border of Israel.   The Mullahs are not at all comfortable with the current love affair between Netanyahu and the Crown Prince of Saudi Arabia who recently announced a coming marriage of convenience brokered by the United States.  This alliance stands as a direct threat to Iran’s influence and power in the region and it would certainly be interested in spoiling the wedding,

Of course, this will not be the case.  If anything, this attack by Hamas will hasten the Israeli-Saudi alliance (unless the Israelis kill enough Gazans to make it impossible for the Saudis).  And with Iran directly involved in the conflict, that can only mean heightened involvement of the Biden Administration which spent all day Monday denouncing and threatening Teheran.  We know very well that the US is going to defend Israel no matter what so there is little reason to expend much energy in denouncing the relationship as it is not going to change.  To date Biden has shown less interest in the  Middle East than Trump (who paid a lot of attention for all the wrong reasons).

The question is not whether the US will support Israeli counter-measures.  To some degree this is incumbent upon all of us.  As I said, to a degree.  Only the most naive, most ideologically dogmatic, only the true lost minds among us, will not recognize that is a political obligation by any state to retaliate when hundreds of its civilians have been ruthlessly slaughtered.

The bigger question is will Biden exert any pressure on Israel to somehow restrain its response so it does not become one more act of large scale terror as it has in the past. I’m not optimistic about that but let’s see. Just as hard to imagine, is some real pressure from the U.S. on Israel to seek some sort of viable solution beyond the immediate warfare.  

Once the smoke clears, will anybody in Washington begin to seriously question the total Israeli starvation blockade of Gaza and its ongoing occupation of the West Bank?  This is just one among dozens of equally pressing issues that underlie this conflict that one day must be confronted honestly and in good faith by both sides.  And what, in fact, do we do about Iran as it seems to me, given its own obscurantist nature, should very much be roped into a nuclear deal that has faltered for the last number of years. I prefer this solution to one of bombing Teheran and thereby guaranteeing the development of Iranian nukes in the very near future.

ThereÕs only a few certainties to be counted on in the days and weeks to come. Thousands more will be killed Ð mostly Palestinian civilians. The American media will be indistinguishable from Israeli State TV (though in general the Israeli media is much more critical of Israel than the US is and today the daily Ha’aretz editorialized that the person most responsible for this conflict is, in fact, Benjamin Netanyahu).  You can also bet that you will find pockets of knuckle-headed leftists from New York to Paris who will be offering up heroic narratives about the fearless resistance fighters of Hamas.  Their infantile outlook is always the The Enemy of My Enemy is My Friend, My Comrade.

No, thank you. I want no part of that dementia.

With this weeksÕ massacres, Hamas has upended the entire Middle East chess playing board. The individual pieces have landed in a big vat of fire, blood and bone.  And many hands besides those of Palestinians and Israelis are destined to be dipped into the same pool of macabre horror in the days to come.

Too bad the Trump-Kushner duo are still not in power.  I’m sure they would have solved this in 5 minutes as Trump always claims. ++

Monday, October 2, 2023

On Our VirtuaL Route 66

 As The New Quarter Dawns, we present the following for our community as we look forward to the privilege to serve:

UAE leaders welcome astronaut Sultan Al Neyadi at the new Abu Dhabi International Airport terminal. UAE Presidential Court
UAE leaders welcome astronaut Sultan Al Neyadi at the new Abu Dhabi International Airport terminal. UAE Presidential Court

Returning from an extended work trip, I am already plotting my next travel adventure – so I can understand exactly why Sultan Al Neyadi now has his sights set on the Moon, or even Mars …

OK, my last journey – or my next – won’t be half as epic as the UAE astronaut’s six months on the International Space Station, but on the sentiment we are simpatico.

And while I came back with a cold (sob), Dr Al Neyadi came back to the UAE having contributed profoundly to science and to the country’s standing in the global space industry.

As President Sheikh Mohamed said: “The people of the UAE are united in pride for his remarkable achievement, which has further advanced our nation’s space exploration ambitions.”

Also returning to the UAE this week was a team of medical volunteers who provided help to earthquake survivors in Morocco. The team also gave urgent maternity care and treated people for diabetes and heart disease.

Please do read on for more … and if you want some travel inspiration you can find the latest edition of our new "travel unpacked" series in the highlights.

PS. I went to Germany, it was lovely and enlightening – you can read about it here.

Best wishes always,

Nicola Leech
Do you have beshara to share? Email me:


Al Ain’s najmonaut

UAE astronaut Sultan Al Neyadi, the first Arab to perform a spacewalk, is welcomed back to his hometown of Al Ain. MBRSC
UAE astronaut Sultan Al Neyadi, the first Arab to perform a spacewalk, is welcomed back to his hometown of Al Ain. MBRSC

“When I was young, I used to see the Milky Way from Al Ain when there wasn't any light pollution,” Dr Sultan Al Neyadi said after a grand welcome reception in Abu Dhabi. “It was a special experience to see my dream turning into reality.”

So perhaps it was at this hero’s homecoming that the scale of his achievements really became clear.

Dr Al Neyadi was greeted by hundreds of people, welcomed by dignitaries and treated to a traditional Emirati dance. It was a fitting tribute to the man who put their town on the map of najmonauts – find out what that means here.

And speaking of Al Ain, read this wonderful story from one of our graduate trainees about a tree that has become an unlikely nature spot and something of a local legend in its own right.



Keep pushing boundaries, breaking stereotypes and inspiring future generations of women in science. We have the power to make a difference

– Sara Ishaq Alkhoori, a PhD research student at Khalifa University is exploring how biofuel production can be used to mitigate carbon emissions and protect the environment


Care amid aftershocks

A UAE-based team of medics deliver urgent care and training in Morocco after the deadly earthquake. Photo: Aster Volunteers
A UAE-based team of medics deliver urgent care and training in Morocco after the deadly earthquake. Photo: Aster Volunteers

A team of medics is back in the UAE after volunteering in Morocco in the aftermath of the 6.8-magnitude earthquake.

The doctor and five nurses went on a six-day mission to the worst-hit parts of Marrakesh and surrounding areas, where they faced aftershocks.

While providing urgent health care, the team also trained local people.

“Volunteers now know how to diagnose and see if a patient or victim is alive or not, and how to activate the emergency response system,” Haitham Naeem, a Jordanian assistant chief nursing officer, told The National. Read more here.

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