More "Peace of Iraq's Mothers"

Though Operation Smile’s doctors hailed from across the Western world, Amreeka would go back to Iraq and say that Americans had fixed her daughter’s cleft lip. In the Bedouin tribes, disability may be seen as a family’s punishment from God for some sin, tarnishing the reputations of whole extended families. This surgery meant that not only Amreeka’s daughter, but her sisters and her girl cousins would have better marriage prospects, that Amreeka and her husband might look forward in their later years to the support of a more successful son-in-law.

That is, if there were enough hale and whole young men remaining for her daughters to marry, and if those young men lived into Amreeka’s later years. If Amreeka lived into her own later years. With American soldiers’ fingers nervous on the trigger, and desperate Iraqis perpetrating their own violence, Amreeka’s future and her daughters’ futures were far from certain or rosy.

"The Peace of Iraq's Mothers" has been reprinted in the 2017 Edition, "Refugees and the Displaced," of DoveTales, a publication for young people by Writing for Peace.

If there is to be peace in this world, I believe strongly that doctors and youth will play important roles in it. Indeed, they are our best ambassadors for a more loving, interconnected, prosperous global future.

I found this publishing opportunity through the Duotrope Weekly Wire email.
Duotrope: an award-winning resource for writers

"Snapshots of the Globalized Generation"

“We can’t let them get away with this,” he said. It was the Sunday after the killings at the Bataclan concert hall in Paris. Brussels was on lockdown again as authorities hunted for more young killers in their midst.

“You’re an Arabic speaker,” he said. Word had traveled fast in the congregation over the month since I translated for a Syrian refugee on a panel discussion in this same church basement. “What should we do? We can’t let them get away with this,” he kept repeating. He had me cornered between the coffee service and the wall, and I couldn’t quite put my finger on why his statement made my pulse throb angrily in my throat....

I needed time to grieve, to despair, to be afraid, but I remembered a freshman in my Political Science 101 class on September 11, 2002. She said, “When my mother woke me up a year ago in Portland, Oregon, and told me the news, I was afraid, and I was sad, and I wanted to mourn, but I knew I couldn’t take time for any of that. I knew Bush was going to use this as an excuse to strip people of their rights. There was work to be done, people who would need me to work for their protection.”

This is my generation, the globalized Internet generation, and we have work to do.

The Millennial generation, of which I consider myself on the leading edge as an '81 baby, gets a lot of flack for our self-absorption, our fragile egos, our special snowflake status. There are many arguments to be made for why this is unfair, not our fault, maybe even gaslighting, but I'm here today to say something else.

The Millennials and the generation that follows us, the ones who are in high school right now, are immersed in a globalized, digitized, interconnected community such as human history has never seen. We're going to change the world, and this essay gives a few snapshots of how I know that to be so.

Read "Snapshots of the Globalized Generation" in a special Spring 2017 issue of Stoneboat Literary Journal titled "Beyond Red and Blue: Voices for America."

With special appreciation for "Gail" and "Walt."

I found this publishing opportunity through the Duotrope Weekly Wire email.
Duotrope: an award-winning resource for writers

Refugees I've Known: Hussam Al Roustom

He's been in the New York Times, New York Daily News, the Huffington Post, as well as the British affiliate of Al-Araby and Al-Jazeera English. He's appeared on local affiliates of CBS, FOX and NPR, on CNBC nationally, and in local papers. He's been written about in France, Spain, Vietnam, Pakistan and the Baltimore Jewish community. He has met with a local New Jersey Congressman, and spoken to a Congressional Committee in Washington, DC.

In the fall of 2016, he answered the call to be on a panel about the refugee crisis, hosted at All Souls Unitarian Church in New York City, where I was working.

photo by Malin Fezehai for The New York Times

Mary called me at the church office. "You know we're doing a panel at All Souls about the refugee crisis, right?"

As the Membership Coordinator, I was partially responsible for the church newsletter, so I would have known about the event with Church World Service and the Unitarian Universalist Service Committee even if I weren't attending monthly chapter meetings of the Unitarian Universalists for Justice in the Middle East (UUJME) co-sponsoring the event.

"We asked Church World Service if they could help us include a Syrian refugee on the panel, and they gave me the phone number for one, but when I called, he doesn't speak English. So I remembered that you speak Arabic. You translated for the Palestinian filmmaker who came a few years ago, didn't you?"

Falling Bombs and Heartbreak

During and after the 2017 General Election, I made a decision to focus my political energy and charitable giving on vulnerable domestic populations. This was in part because I was afraid of what a Trump Administration could do to destroy centuries of hard-fought progress. It was also because I was so tired, after the primaries, of being labeled a bad feminist, bad American, bad Democrat, bad woman and bad progressive, in part because of the reservations I had about Hillary Clinton's foreign policy track record. Even so, I continued to believe that my vote and my voice owed some degree of accountability to people abroad who would be affected by the election but not have a voice in it. I'm no Nostradamus, but it wasn't hard to see this coming.

In this excerpt of a longer piece I've been writing on violence perpetrated on the Arab world, I offer a small window on why.

Amman, 2008
The rain poured down on New Year’s Eve outside my apartment. I didn’t know my neighbors, the Iraqi refugees with three or four tall, slender daughters whose DJ-ed engagement and wedding parties sometimes kept me up at night. I had only met their father once. He told me he had lost his son and his right arm above the elbow to the American occupiers of his hometown. I had nothing to say in reply.