Archive for October 2008
Who Assassinated Former Prime Minister Rafic Hariri in 2005? (March 7, 2005)
Since the assassination of former Prime Minister Hariri, thousands of citizens have been gathering, every day and night, in Downtown Beirut demanding to know who assassinated Hariri. Not many believe that the government has enough credibility to investigate properly this political crime.
The UN has sent a team headed by a former Irish police officer and then later, the Lebanese government asked the help of several crime experts and investigators from Switzerland and Denmark.
So far, how the blast occurred and what kind of explosive was used is still not conclusive and pretty much vague and divergent. The government is claiming that it was a suicide car bombing done by Abu Adass who sent a video to Al Jazira channel, one hour after the incident, claiming the responsibility of an unknown group. The government hinted that it analyzed genetically remnants of the perpetrator. A political scientist, Dr. Nakash, believes that the video is real and that two similar simple terrorist techniques were successfully used in Iraq and Saudi Arabia. Dr. Nakash produces documents published in the New York Times of many serious threats to King Fahd, owner of Al Arabiya channel and the main mentor of Hariri.
Apparently, Al Arabiya was toning down information in Iraq that could damage the US presence there and Saudi Arabia bribed Alawi (Iraq’s prime minister) with two billion dollars to shut down the offices of Al Jazira channel and to crack down on the militia of Al Sadr in Najjaf, which Alawi did effectively. Hariri was for some time following the political lines of Saudi Arabia in Iraq but had a change of position lately: Was it too late?
The Hariri’s deputies in the Parliament affirm that the detonating charge was planted underground and the material is so new that the labs have failed to determine its composition until now. One of the surviving bodyguard claims that the street was clear and no visible obstructions was evident before the blast.
May be the people want to know but the powers to be, locally, regionally and internationally are not that excited to divulge the parties behind this barbaric crime, if we set aside all the rhetoric from President Bush, Chirac and the European Union. It is hardly credible that any Lebanese political party is behind this assassination.
It seems that Syria has much to lose from the death of Hariri because of his wide range of connections and the many favors he enjoys with Saudi Arabia, the main financial backer of Syria and stabilizing power within the Lebanese political system. I am leaning toward an Israeli/USA connection for several reasons:
1) The next day to the assassination, Sharon dismissed or refused to extend the appointment of Yaalon as head of the army and appointed the head of Israel’s secret services to replace him. Was Yaalon against this assassination decision or was he not informed and expressed his position accordingly?
2) Hariri failed many Israeli attempts to internationally cast Hezbollah as a terrorist organization and he succeeded in Europe and in France.
3) Hariri was behind snubbing Israel for the failed May 17 agreement to sign a peace treaty with Israel in 1983.
4) Hariri was behind the April understandings in 1997, with the direct involvement of the USA, on the procedures of conducting war between Hezbollah and Israel. This agreement seriously hampered Israel in waging its devastating traditional attacks on civilians’ targets in the South and carrying out mass detentions.
5) Hariri was for the return of the Palestinian refugees to Palestine and could certainly block any UN resolution to the contrary. The timing of the assassination was appropriate because Israel was under pressures to negotiate with Adu Abbass (The recently elected Palestinian prime minister). Israel wanted a free hand to pressure Abu Abbass into a flexible understanding about the refugees’ problems and Hariri could very well exercise effective counter attacks when he was to return as prime minister after the April election.
6) Israel has a history of eliminating every enemy to its plans of expansion and the timing was perfect because Hariri was no longer a prime minister, the political discourse within Lebanon was very heated for blaming Syria of the many current setbacks, especially for generating the UN resolution 1559. The unfounded rumors that Hariri was behind this resolution could divert the guilt for the assassination to Syria for an extended period of time.
7) Since Israel never makes such serious decisions before receiving the green light from Washington and France, it is obvious that the USA and France governments had an interest in eliminating Hariri at this junction. Hariri was to be reelected in April and be appointed prime minister again.
Hariri was a heavy weight internationally; his personal friendship with President Chirac of France was putting Chirac in a corner: Chirac had decided to connect openly with Israel and didn’t want any exacerbations with the US after the two States agreed on main critical diffculties, especially commercial and economical. It was France that coaxed Bush Jr. for passing the 1559 resolution in the UN that demanded Syria to withdraw from Lebanon.
As newspapers in Israel rightly analyzed the situation: Syria is very probably not directly the guilty party in the crime, but Syria is certainly the party to pay the price and the consequences. Bashar Assad gave Israel the proper ammunition and the excellent timing for his inexperience and his hubris responses to international pressures. I am certain that it is the Lebanese citizens who are and will pay the price for years to come.
Note: I do differentiate between Near East (example Turkey, Syria, Lebanon, Jordan, and Palestine/Israel) and Middle East region (for example adding Iraq, Iran, and the Arabic Peninsula States) and George W. Bush Administration of Greater Middle East (adding Egypt, Afghanistan, and Pakistan). It is not just a geographic expansion of influence but a fundamental strategic view among the superpowers.
A Regional Power in the Making in the Near East (December 18, 2004)
Turkey is the new pivotal power in the Near East in the coming decades. Turkey will be asked to exercise its beneficial influence in restoring peace, stability and economic prosperity in the region. It will inevitably join the European Union with the unavoidable important changes that Turkey will have to accept and undergo in matters of democracy, liberty, human rights and social and economical constraints.
This transformation of a powerful neighbor will transcend into a drastic transformation of the societies surrounding Turkey. The benefits are already materializing in closer ties with Syria, pressures on Israel to agree on a Palestinian State and greater normalization with Iran. Turkey is obviously the main power that can provide autonomy to the Kurdish nationalism spreading among Turkey, Syria, Iraq and Iran. Turkey is the main power that can efficiently check US imperialism in the Middle East and any resurgence of Russia militarism. I have great hope in this new power amongst us, especially that the current Turkish government has proven to be far sighted and confident in its power and role in this region.
Since writing this excerpt Turkey felt the need to crawl in a cave and hibernate after surmounting the imminent obstacles to joining the European Union. Turkey thinks that it can relax for a while but it will quickly learn that it has to keep pace with the culture of Europe by struggling to catch up with lost time. Human rights problems are reemerging, demonstrations are being broken by brute force and its dialogue with Syria is not much evident except the frustration of Turkey from the US pressures ordering Turkey not to return the diplomatic visit of its President to Syria. Turkey’s involvement was badly needed in our current problems with the UN resolution 1559 and it failed in this critical moment to demonstrate its regional power.
Note: Turkey has failed miserably in being a power broker for a resolution to the Kurdish auto-determination struggle. Instead, Turkey opted to squander her financial reserves and earned good will by waging again a hopeless military campaign on the Kurds.
Note: This category is a repository of political articles written since 2005. Current articles could be located in Politics/finance Today.
What’s Next after the Nasr Allah’s Speech? (March 7, 2005)
Last week we discussed the aftermath of former Prime Minister Hariri assassination. The opposition gathered and demonstrated for two weeks in the Martyrs’ Square. They were demanding the disclosure of the investigations and chanting slogans
of freedom, self determination and independence of Lebanon from the Syrian tutelage. It happened that the under secretary of the US state department, Satterfield, paid a visit to Lebanon that lasted four days with many meetings with the opposition leaders.
As it is known, the US and France were the mastermind behind the 1559 UN resolution that demand not only the withdrawal of the Syrian troops but also the dismantling of the military wing in the Hezbollah party and the recuperation of the arms in the Palestinian refugee camps.
During that period, the opposition leaders were trying to open a dialogue with Hezbollah with the hopes of neutralizing its political stands by not taking an open position, as Hezbollah usually did, preferring to focus what credibility it has on resisting Israeli violations of Lebanon borders in the South. The opposition did not show a unified front on the 1559 resolution while Satterfield was present. By the time the opposition resolved on adopting the Taef agreement as the basis for discussion the damage was done.
The speech of Nasr Allah, the secretary general of Hezbollah, was clear: the U N resolution 1559 is meant to destabilize Lebanon in order to pass a US/Israeli plan to ban the return of the Palestinian refugees in Lebanon to Palestine. This plan intend to provide the Lebanese nationality to these refugees through, may be, financial incentives. It is clear that this plan will divide Lebanon into two or three cantons: a Christian and a Moslem enclave. This partition has become de facto after the civil war even without a political resolution for decentralization.
Syria will withdraw under the international pressures and the backing of a sizable section of the Lebanese citizens. After the withdrawal of the Syrian troops, Syria may also withdraw politically from Lebanon if an agreement for settling the Golan Heights, a major stumbling block, is reached with Israel and the US. Then, Syria will be off the hooks with the international community but Lebanon will have to deal with the nagging remaining demands of the 1559 resolution. Dismantling Hezbollah and disarming the Palestinians are two problems that even the whole international community cannot resolve unless a major war is declared by the UN.
If Syria does not withdraw quickly before a Palestinian State is formally recognized by the world community, there is a real danger that the US might use the so called preemptive strikes on Hezbollah bases on the flimsy reason of the Syrian presence in Lebanon. The odds are high for a military intervention by the US, especially if France gives in to the European Union insistence of calling Hezbollah a terrorist organization. Otherwise, the recurrence of another civil war in Lebanon could still take place because, basically, nothing really changed in the sectarian mentality of the population, even among the new generation who did not experience the civil war, or the establishment of a strong and viable government. All the political reforms envisaged in the articles of the Taef agreement, also called the new Lebanese Constitution, did not take place and Lebanon is back to its starting point of 1975 with the only exception that the Palestinian forces are not the main excuse in meddling in our self determination.
Many social and civil laws that were contemplated to unite the Lebanese under a modern fabric were rescinded by the Parliament and in many instances by the direct involvement of Syria. The current political system is not functioning properly: we have no government to present new laws to the chamber of representatives and it is totally powerless to even execute simple orders to run the state. The economy is practically lifeless except for the printing press to produce Lebanese flags and banners for the multitude of demonstrators.
The deputies for the opposition won’t meet to discuss the election law until the heads of the intelligence and security services resign or are fired. The President understands that all these political maneuverings are targeting his legitimacy after he extended his term and will not relinquish the power sustained by these security and intelligence services. There got to be viable alternatives to set the political system on its tracks. Either the President resigns, or the Prime Minister constitutes a majority government to take care of immediate requirements such as passing the election law and scheduling the election process or the President decrees a military government.
Our only hope is that the opposition forces and the Hezbollah party reach a long lasting agreement to put up a unified front against foreign pressures and intervention. Most of the demands of the opposition forces to removing the heads of the intelligence and security forces, the application of the Constitution for the non renewal of the President term and the disclosure of the assassins of Hariri must be met and the demands of Hezbollah to accept the Taef Agreement as the basis for reforms must be wholeheartedly accepted by all the opposition factions with no wavering of any kinds.
I suspect that the situation is getting out of hand and time is no longer of the essence as it should be for any modern and reasonable society. This fact screams the consequent fact: Lebanon is back to foreign dictate.
“Magellan, the vanquisher of the seas” by Stephen Swig (September 30, 2008)
I read an Arabic translation of Stephen Swig “Magellan, the vanquisher of the seas”. Magellan is the first mariner to circumnavigate earth’s seas and oceans. Medieval Europe got hooked on all the varieties of spices and perfumes arriving through the Arab Moslem World; the aristocratic classes even added spices to their drinks and the values of spices and perfume were more expensive than silver and gold; people even sold lands in exchange of spices and perfumes because they were common currencies.
Prices of spices and perfumes were extremely high because the sources of their production were remote lands and by the time every port taxed the shipments and then traveling the deserts of Iraq and Syria and with the loss of one ship for every five in the seas due to the danger of sea faring and pirates then the prices skyrocketed through multi-levels of middlemen. The Arabic kingdoms knew well the sources of production in Malaysia, and several islands beyond Malacca Straight. Malacca Straight is still now the most strategic location for maritime commerce where all the ships coming from China, Japan, Viet Nam, Thailand, Burma and the south-east Asian countries and islands have to cross that straight westward and the reverse for the Nations doing commerce eastward. All the spices and perfumes had to cross the Arab kingdoms one way or another and most middlemen were Arabs.
The European decided to conquer the Near East under the pretense of a Holy War to re-conquer Jerusalem. The main target was Egypt where the shortest route was shipments arriving in the Red Sea. Unfortunately for the European coalitions three targeted Crusading invasions of Egypt failed miserably and the whole business failed for lack of incentives to finance further campaigns.
It happened that in 1415 one of the sons of the King of Portugal, Prince Henrick, started to doubt the theory and affirmations of Ptolemy which stated that there are no exits in the Atlantic Ocean when you sail west or south and that past the equator in Africa nobody can return alive because of the heat, fire and Evil emanations. Ptolemy even said that past the equator Africa is not inhabited and is a desolate land. Henrick resumed his research and investigations and trained mariners and built ships to verify his new theories. Henrick died before he experiences the successes of his endurance and far sightedness.
Within a century, Portugal, the tiniest and poorest State in Europe, became the strongest and richest nations. Portugal ships colonized the whole of Africa, India, and Malaysia and even reached China and Japan. King Juan II of Portugal had a meeting with Christopher Columbus but didn’t see any value of discovering another route to India going west the Atlantic since the southern route was completely discovered and known and the Pope had allotted Africa and India to the kingdom of Portugal. The King of Spain invested in Columbus and the Pope had to divide the Atlantic Ocean into two zones and lands discovered were distributed between these two kingdoms; Brazil was within the dividing line of Portugal.
Magellan decided to tour around the world by seas going westward as Columbus: his closest mariner friend Francisco Sroa convinced him that the route westward is far shorter in order to visit him in the spice islands of Ternate, Mulouk, Panda and Ambo Ana. Francisco had been living the good life for nine years among the aborigines’ four islands; it seems that the Arabs had not reached yet these islands.
Magellan was of a noble family of the 4th rank and he participated in three naval campaigns to India, Malacca and the Moroccan pirates; he was wounded several times and he limped form his left leg the rest of his life. He was short, silent and barely could articulate clearly his ideas. The King of Portugal Manuello failed him twice to increase his monthly pays or even giving him a deserved officer rank. After a year of research in the King bibliotheca for navigation accounts he befriended a well recognized cartography Roy Valero and they shared a secret plan.
Magellan headed to Spain and got married and managed after two years to meet King Charles Quaint who resided in Valladolid (the city of Al Walid). He convinced the King and the naval syndicate of import/export “House of India” that the Spice Islands fall within the demarcation line of Spain. The king signed a lavish document with his oath of honor giving Magellan 5% of the profit of the islands and lands that he discovers and two islands if he finds over six islands. The King would let Magellan dispose of 5 ships and all the expenses for provisions and mariners for two years.
Magellan personally cared for every detail because he had no idea of anything about the climate, people and storms in the trip. For 17 months that took to prepare the ships for sailing Magellan faced many threats, coaxing and betrayals from the Portuguese representatives in Spain and he overcame many schemes to cancel the project. The total expense amounted to over 8 million Maravedi, excluding the salaries of the mariners. On September 20, 1519 the five ships left San Lucar port coming from Seville. The total manpower was 265 mariners; the largest ship of 120 tons was named San Antonio, the next in weight of 110 was Trinidad and led by Magellan, then Conception of 90 tons, then Victoria of 85 tons and finally Santiago of 75 tons. Four of the ships were led by Spanish officers and selected by the Emperor.
At the last minute a Venetian nobleman named Antonio Bejavita joined the crew by request from the papal representative to Spain and he would become the biographer of the trip and of Magellan. After leaving the Canary Islands Magellan headed south instead of west and the Spanish captains could not obtain any explanations from the taciturn and silent Magellan. Most probably that Magellan was acting on secret information that King Manuello had ordered the capture of his ships. Arriving to the coast of Guinea they had to wait 15 days for the western winds to carry the ships toward Brazil and they almost got destroyed by a terrible storm. Luckily, the Portuguese port of Rio de Janeiro was still not thoroughly controlled and the ships managed to refill with potable water and food on December 13. Magellan put under lock for disobedience Antonio de Carthajena, the Captain of the San Antonio.
On January 10 the ships arrived at the current vast gulf Montevideo where the river Rio de La Plata empties. Magellan first thought was that this estuary is the debouche to the Pacific Ocean. After 15 days, the three ships sent to investigate returned with negative results. The Equator was long past and the progress was toward cold and desolate regions. On February 24 the ships arrived in the gulf of San Matthias and the investigations were negative again as was the cases with the gulfs of Bahia de Los Bathos and Bahia de Los Shrabajos. Winter gained on them and by March 31 Magellan decided to spend the winter in the desolate small gulf of San Julian on latitude 49 so that the potential rebellious Captains and sailors would not dare turn back to Seville.
But the rebellion happened and mutineers captured three ships during the night. Magellan counter-attacked in broad daylight and captured the Victoria which gave him an advantage and then blocked the retreat of the remaining two ships. Magellan beheaded Luis de Mendosa and ordered Juan de Cartagena and the priest to be discarded on the land with some food. Winter forced Magellan to stay in the gloomy and desolate Gulf of San Julian four months. The Prince of the Sea made his mariners work non-stop to keep despair and depression at bay which might exacerbate their spirit.
When spring arrived the mariners saw a fearful sight; a giant with large feet (Patagonia) was standing on a hill and gesticulating and throwing sand on his head, a sign that he is ready to communicate with them. Unfortunately, one of the giant specimens was to be captured to send to the Emperor; he died miserably of hunger during the trip. The ship Santiago was wrecked on the river Rio de Santa Cruz but the crews were safe; two mariners walked 11 days to warn Magellan of the disaster.
On August 24 Magellan resumed his voyage south intending to reach latitude 75 and returning via the Good Hope straight if he failed to find an exit to the Pacific. Magellan was actually within two days voyage to his victory when he stayed two months on a tiny gulf. On October 21, 1520 they saw what would be called “Head of the Virgins” with dark water. Magellan ordered three ships to investigate the entrance and to return within 5 days. Nasty storms almost destroyed the remaining ships waiting at the entrance. Suddenly, they heard the ships firing their canons for the first time and the news was good: the water was salty and the depth of the water remained stable signs of an exit to a sea. For the first time Magellan cried hot tears of joy!
The four remaining ships delved in that black desolate gulf; there was total silence and the ships were surrounded by high stiff cliffs and snow mountain tops shown further away and freezing winds blowing during the nights. At every bifurcation Magellan investigated the water ways. At one point Magellan sent the San Antonio toward the south-east branch and sent a canoe to investigate the south west branch while he waited at the entrance. The canoe returned within 3 days with the definitive great news but the San Antonio crews rebelled and quit the trip and returned to Spain without giving notice. The other three ships resumed their advance and exited to the ocean.
On November 28, 1520 the three ships fired their canons to salute the newly discovered ocean. Until Mars 6, 1521, the mariners sailed in a completely serain sea (thus, the name Pacific) with blue skies, very sunny and no winds. The mariners had to boil the leather of the mast to eat and 19 died of famine or the tenth of the total remaining crews. By Mars 17 the ships discovered three islands and they had reached the Philippines (called in honor of the later Spanish Emperor Philip II). Magellan could now claim this land as his own since he had discovered more than 6 islands so far. The natives were impressed by the strength of iron and were bartering 16 parts of gold for 14 equal weight of iron. Magellan ordered his crews from refraining to sell their spears and helmets for fear that the native get a wake up call to the true value of gold.
In the island of Massawa, Magellan’s slave renamed Henrick and who was captured in Malacca years ago discovered that he returned home. This person was the first captive and first man who toured earth and returned to his native island! On April 7, 1521 they landed on the main island of Sibo which was very prosperous and ate in Chinese porcelain dishes.
In order to unify the islands under the Spanish throne Magellan convinced King Homabone of Sibo to conquer the smaller Island of Mactane headed by King Silabolabo. Until now the natives were very impressed by the body armatures of the white soldiers, their rifles and their canons and Magellan wanted to impress King Homabone even further; he decided to conquer Macatane at the head of only 40 mariners. Since the ships had to stay far at large the canons were of no use and the rifles of the mariners on the canoe could not even pierce the protective gears of the natives. Magellan was killed and the Spanish retreated without retrieving their leader’s body. The symbol of white invincibility was chattered. King Homabone decided to trick the Spanish navigators to a lavish dinner and killed 27 of the most important officers. The remaining 115 mariners were left with no skilled navigators and elected Carvalo to lead them and they roamed the seas with no clue to where they were heading. They had to burn the ship Conception that was leaking from everywhere. They sailed for two months pirating whatever ships they encountered until they landed in Mindnaw in the island of Borneo.
Finally the crews revolted and appointed three individuals to lead them: Gomez de Spinoza on the Trinidad, Delcano on the Victoria and Ponsero the head navigator. One of the native captives led them to the Muluk Island, the ultimate goal of the trip, and loaded their ships with spices. The ship Trinidad was to stay in the port for major repairs and only Victoria sailed to Spain. Victoria was not to land on any Portuguese colony for fear of being captured and sentenced of treason. On February 13, 1522 the Victoria left Timor meaning to return through Good Hope Straight without further landing anywhere. Then meat got rotten and had to be thrown overboard and the bread got spoiled and famine returned scarier than ever.
On September 6, 1522 three years after five ships left to tour Earth, out of 265 mariners and more natives on the return trip from the Pacific islands only 18 mariners returned on the smallest of a decrepit Victoria. The most glorious trip on seas was lead by Delcano, one of the early rebellious officers. Only ten of the mariners of the San Antonio who arrived a year ago were living and they were saved from punishment because Delcado refrained from divulging the truth of their treason.
“Building a durable World”
That is the first time I felt compelled to review a magazine for its special issue on how to conserve a fragile earth.
The contents involve:
1. the new perils in galloping demography, altered eco-systems, megapolis, depleting resources, increased wastes of all kinds;
2. the necessary knowledge required on the depletion of our resources and the vanishing aborigine civilizations;
3. how to act for nourishing 9 billion inhabitants, producing with more economy, eradicating pollution, preserving the bio-diversity and re-thinking on the urbanization problems;
4. the will to achieving the targets by a slow conscious awareness of our problems, the strategies of taxing pollution, and a notion of the socio-anthropology of industrial evolution.
Many minerals will be depleted within a few decades.
For example, relying on the current exploitation and the total known reserves, gold will be depleted within 17 years, iron within 79, silver within 13, nickel within 40, platinum within 56, copper within 31, lead within 22, cobalt within 112, zinc within 17, aluminum within 131, tin within 20, and palladium within 15 years, oil within 42, coal within 150, natural gas within 64, and uranium within 32 years. Iron and aluminum are very abundant but would be very difficult to harvest any further at any economical cost.
There are a few elements in nature that are very abundant and human kind consumes a tiny fraction, but these elements are being degraded and polluted and quickly becoming sources for major health hazards, sickness and major diseases.
For example, in billion of tons, it is estimated that nature has oxygen in the amount of 10 at the power 9, hydrogen 3 at 10 power 7, calcium 10 at power 9, silicon 6 at 10 power 9, aluminum 2 at 10 power 9, sodium 5 at 10 power 8, potassium 2 at 10 power 8, titan at 10 power 8, magnesium 7 at 10 power 8, iron 1.5 at 10 power 9.
The coming catastrophe for the next generations for discovering the deterioration of the drastic imbalance between what earth and nature can provide and the marketing ideology for producing unnecessary items for the survival of mankind was not a deterministic evolution of industrialization.
Human kind could have evolved relying on hydraulic and eolien and solar energies if trains were not discovered to function speedier with coal as an essential power product around the year 1830.
The train entered our culture as a mean for exactitude in schedule, in long distance transport and thus the delocalization of the centers of power from small towns in remote districts to main cities.
The train had important by-consequences since telegraphic lines were installed along the train lines and then two major world wars that invested on the “fire” energy resources.
The emergence of the textile industry for offering abundant varieties that invaded the market place increased the wants for comfort and consumerism behavior.
The reliance on the choice for “fire” instead of other forms of energies was partially a hazard though. I think, it would ultimately have found the “fire” substitute for energy in the long run.
The industrialization in the USA and France relied mainly on the hydraulic form until the early XX century. The main mistake was done for relying on qualified workers for the “fire” choice instead of the abundant under-qualified workers for the other choices.
Note: In “Science et vie” French magazine special issue of June 2008 (August 10, 2008)
“Igino Giordani” by Jean-Marie Wallet and Tommaso Sorgi (August 5, 2008)
This book is a short history on the Focolari Catholic community through a biography of the activities of the co-founder Igino Giordani. Before 1947, Igino Giordani was already a renowned Catholic writer who published hundred of articles and pamphlets; he was a soldier during WWI, an anti-fascist in the Christian Democratic Party and a member of the Italian Chamber of Deputy.
Giordani met Silvia Lubich in 1947 at the Italian Chamber of Deputy. Igino was 54 years old and a father of four grown up kids; Silvia was 28 and had founded Focolari in 1943 after she decided that she should not be a nun or secluded in a convent or even married. Lubich took the name of Chiara because she was attracted to the radical attitude of Claire of Assisi. Chiara’s family home was destroyed by the American bombing of her home town Trente in 1944; her family moved out but she opted to stay with her community. This young community of females is formed to applying the words of Jesus such as when two or three individuals are united in Jesus’ name then He is among them; and transforming our own suffering into charity among neighbors. Chiara had a period of visions in 1949 at Tonadico di Primiero which culminated into a meditation that became a charter for the Focolari. Chiara wrote: “For me the suffering of those whom I approach, for me the suffering of what is not peace, happiness, ugliness and serenity because my paradise is in the heart of my spouse Jesus Christ. I will seek the tears of those in tribulations through the communion of the all powerful Jesus. I have to be like Jesus at the present moment throughout my life”
Giordani was a prolific writer in matter of Christianity, in ascetics, mysticism, dogmatic, morale but especially the apologetic aspect; he had found in Tertullien that Christianity was mainly struggle that John Chrysostome and Augustin of Hippone have worked out a way of life among the Christian societies where the laics and the married couples should live as monks; (that reminds me of the “Takfir fatwa” of the Moslem Sheikh Ibn Tamim when the Mogols were encircling Damascus in the 13th century; Ibn Tamim ordered al the Moslems to be knights during the day and monks at night fall). Giordani discovered that the forefathers of the Church opted for a living Church where the workers, peasants and illiterates were associated in the community instead of being reduced to spiritual proletariats in modern time.
When he listened to Chiara he said that the idea of God and the ideal image of God were replaced by the love of God, a living God. Chiara was not talking about God but communicated with God. The Holy Ghost used to be a dogma that he never tried to comprehend but now the Holy Ghost impregnated his new life, became the warmth and fire and link between God and him. Giordani changed his attitude and behavior from a scholar into practicing love every instant.
Igino fought in the Italian Parliament against allying Italy to the NATO during the “Cold War” period when the iron curtain of Stalin separated West and East. Gioradani said that we are victims of a politic that is expressed by war which is worst than criminal because deicide since it kills one of the representation of God in man. War bleeds the social organism everywhere. In this war neither capitalism nor communism will vanquish; only cannibalism will win and the return of man of the jungle. If we want peace we have to work toward peace and not prepare for war because history has always been a teacher with no attending students. When we are caught up with the fear of war then fear always leads to war. Igino forecasted that the regional European nations are tending toward a European inner-nation and Russia is also part of Europe and we have to accept each other for life to grow.
Igino is the member who, through his political and clerical contacts in the Vatican, allowed the Focolari to be accepted by the Church as an international institution instead of a local secular institution in the city of Trente.
Igino Giordani wrote an article on the “uselessness of war”. War is wrapped in a sort of sacred cult demanding living sacrifices; thus when humanity would have progressed spiritually then war would be catalogued in the same rank as superstitions and witch hunting of the barbarous civilizations. Only a few fouls demand wars, and the influential economical and financial conglomerates of the tiny minorities in any societies deliver senseless apologetics for starting wars because everyone desire to live in peace and live honorably and healthily. No State chief has ever claimed but noble reasons for waging wars and never for dominion because he knows that the citizens abhor war and its miseries. Joliot-Curie stated that the money spent on one day of war could have irrigated the whole of the Sahara desert.
The first WWI was waged against nationalism and militarism and retaining economic markets and we obtained fascism and Nazism instead. Europe spent 1.2 trillion dollars and lost its primordial ranking in World politics and economy to the USA; Germany was so poor that war reparation was levied for the civilian casualties. The second WWII was started to eradicate fascism and Nazism and we ended up with widespread communism and totalitarian regimes; this time around European Nations lost all their colonies. The war cost 300 trillion dollars and the dead amounted to 32 millions among the soldiers, 25 million among the civilians, and 26 millions assassinated in concentration camps. The displaced persons were over 45 millions, the mutilated 30 millions and 30 million homes destroyed, and not counting the orphans and parents without offspring. The US population increased in the last 100 years 670% while its mentally sick persons increased 23,500% even though the USA did not experience direct invasions on its territory. (These statistics reminds me of the calamities experienced by the Iraqi and Afghans civilians and the invading Americans soldiers).
The State that starts a war is the culprit regardless of the causes and all the excuses offered because it uses irrational means that de-humanizes man and disorganizes the social fabrics.
Personal note: When you receive the grace then explanation stops. Comprehending the scriptures with the power of the sole reason is tantamount of fundamental lie; whatever and however are good intentioned your interpretation the moral values you disseminate are fraught with suspicion. Most probably people will ultimately discover your lies through your behavior and activities that are not founded on true belief.
Note: This part includes my comments
It is well believed that it was Paul the genius organizer and founder of he Christian Church; he was the most prolific institutor of new communities in pagan cities, the one who expressed the message and doctrine in epistles, the first documented written message on Christ, and most importantly, the one who kept revisiting the new communities to strengthen them in their beliefs and organization. Paul knew how to broadcast the new message; he asked the converts to mingle with the people during the numerous festivities, especially the pagan ones, and to accept invitations and to eat everything that is offered, except when the host reminds the guest that the meat was sanctified because in such a case it is not appropriate that the host forces his conscious upon the disciples.
The first generation of Christians strongly believed that the next coming of Christ was imminent, so soon that they would meet with Christ before they die. When Christians died in the various communities then the converts were baffled. Paul had to encourage them by writing to them that when Christ comes back “as a thief” then the dead would be resurrected first and would meet with Him first before the living ones.
The Acts to Paul, an apocryphal manuscript written in the second century and discovered recently, says that St. Paul was decapitated in Rome during Nero on July 29, 64, the same date that Peter was crucified three years ago.
Notes (personal and others); the enumerated notes are not in logical orders:
1. Paul was a big traveler by land and by sea and visited his new communities regularly all over Turkey, Macedonia and Greece with the intention of strengthening their organization and fighting off the counter-offensives of the Christian-Jews dispatched by Jack from Jerusalem to disrupt the successes of Paul. These successive visits, at least three times, were urgent because the Christian-Jews managed to win over many of Paul’s communities because concrete customs overcome abstract notions.
2. The tactics of the Christian-Jews was to circumcise the new converts in order to gain physical recognition of their power in the name of the Jewish Law over the spiritual emphasis of Paul. It is clear that people need formal rules and regulation to continue as a community and could not go on based on spiritual messages and follow Paul’s Hellenistic higher level of reasoning for long without frequent physical encounters with Paul.
3. Jack took effectively the leadership of the community in Jerusalem around the year 44 when Peter fled the prison of Agrippa I. I am under the impression that Jack, one of the real brothers of Jesus and who was hostile to Jesus’ message during his life, has struck a deal with the Sanhedrin, usually headed by a Pharisee Grand Priest, to desist from converting Jews in Judea. It would have been impossible for the Nazarene community to survive in Jerusalem without a drastic deal with the Sanhedrin. My impression is that Jack had to send the important apostles that might contest his leadership out of Judea to proselytize the Jewish communities in the Diaspora so that he might remain a dead weight of gravity in Jerusalem for a reduced sect that suits his mentality of a strict Jew following the Law.
4. Paul was warned not to travel to Jerusalem but he was stubborn and wanted to deliver the collection that he amassed from the communities of Christian-Pagans that he had established. I believe that Paul understood that the Christian-Jews are getting too powerful to overcome their meddling in his communities that he wanted to regain the favors of Jack. Paul even accepted the recommendation of Jack to do penitence in the Temple for a week and had his head shaved. It didn’t work as intended and Paul was captured in the Temple and went through many ordeals as a prisoner in Jerusalem, then sent to Caesarea where he stayed prisoner for over a year and then shipped to Rome as a prisoner.
5. Jack was lapidated to death in 62 by a Sanhedrin headed by the Sadducee Grand Priest Anan who took advantage of the vacancy in the Roman governorship at this period after Flavius died.
6. It is believed, from a newly discovered Acts of Paul, that Paul was beheaded by order of Nero around 64 shortly after Rome burned; Paul was permitted to be beheaded because he was a Roman citizen and not crucified like Peter.
7. The first journey of Paul started from Antioch, to Selucie port, to Cyprus, and then from Paphos by sea to Atalie, to Perge, to Antioch of Pisidie, to Iconium (Konia), to Lystres, to Derbe, and then back in the same route and then sailed from Attalie back to Antioch of Syria. He was lapidated and left for dead in Lystres. This trip lasted over two years and Paul must have walked over one thousand kilometers.
8. The second journey started from Tarsus, to Derbe, Lystres, Iconium, Antioch of Pisidie, to the region of Galatia up north, to Dorylee, and then sailed from Troas to Samothrace, then into Macedonia to Philipes, Amphipolis, Apollonie on the seashore, Tessalonique, Beroe, then by sea to Athens, Corinth, Conchrees, and by sea to Ephesus, Rhodes, then by sea to Cesaree, Ptolemais, Tyr, Sidon, and then to Tarsus.
9. The third trip started from Antioch of Syria, to Tarsus, the Galatia region, Ephesus, Mitylene, Philippes, all the way to Corinth, then backtracked in same route and stopped by sea at Milet, Rhodes and Caesarea.
10. Paul’s epistles and his name were overshadowed for a whole century after his death until a few of his communities rekindled his works.
11. St. Augustine in the IV century considered Paul his theological Master.
12. The Church in the Middle Age totally obliterated Paul’s works and teachings and erected Peter as the patron saint of the Church.
13. Luther resurrected Paul because it was very convenient for efficiently attacking the Church making obscene commerce for the absolution of sins. Luther spread the message of Paul through the newly discovered printing press by Gutenberg. The core of Paul’s message is that the forgiveness of sins is done by faith in Christ who died for the forgiveness of our sins and his resurrection. Consequently, all people can be saved by faith and do not necessarily need to know the Jewish Law and follow the rules in order to be forgiven. The Protestant erected Paul as their patron saint.
14. The Church had to follow suit, tactically, and opted to raise Paul at the same order as Peter but failed to build churches or cathedrals in his name.
15. Paul dictated his epistles to the disciple scribes who followed him. His writings are passionate and logical but he was not a good orator. Paul could preach and talk for hours on until his listeners fall asleep. Paul didn’t need the Jewish teachings and Law to spread Christ’s message because he never mentioned Jesus teachings as the later New Testaments told us. My intuition is that since Paul was very learned on the Pharisee Law and the sayings of the Jewish prophets and Fathers then it was very convenient to repeat by rot all that he memorized in his preaching, especially when confronting the Jews in the Synagogues.
16. There is no proof that Paul ever married; the Christian-Jews went as far as saying that Paul agreed to be circumcised because he wanted to marry his mentor’s daughter but the later refused. I would not be surprised for the anti-feminist attitudes of Paul; no wonder since he was not physically appetizing and I assume that he was a taciturn man focused on learning the Pharisee laws for many years during his youthful period. The anti-feminist behavior of Paul in his first apostolic trip was evident in his epistles that forbade women to join in the discussions in the meetings of the new communities and to totally and unconditionally obey their men since they are from their ribs. Paul’s inclinations might be the consequences of his lack of exposure to women and awareness of the capabilities of women in the organization of the communities. After Paul acquired more experience in dealing with women he practically changed attitude but not his rhetoric. When Paul met Phoebe in Corinth his judgments toward women changed and he accepted Phoebe to lead a new community of Christians.
17. I recall that John Wesley, the founder of the Methodist Church in England, adopted the same strategy of Paul by constantly visiting his new chapters and then splitting them into smaller units when they grew very large to keeping communication efficient and organization manageable.
18. Paul performed many miracles and he recognized that he was flagellated 5 times by the Romans and wiped 7 times by the Jews. He was imprisoned at least four times and twice extensively; he was shipwrecked at least three times and once Paul told us that he had to swim for over a mile to shore. Paul never mentioned that he was lapidated, probably because the memory of watching Etienne being lapidated to death never left his consciousness. It is hard to believe that anyone endured so many catastrophes in over 30 years of apostolic missions and kept up the faith strong and alive.
19. During Paul’s second visit to Jerusalem, he was assigned the mission of converting the pagan Greeks and Romans and Peter the Jews. When Paul was thrown in prison in Ephesus it is believed that the disciples of Jack, in cooperation with the orthodox Jews, were behind the plot.
20. Peter was a married man as was Jack. I suspect that Peter had a weak character with shifty convictions for a long time and was constantly changing allegiance among the apostles in Jerusalem. Most of time, Peter sided with the uncompromising Jack, the real leader of the Jerusalem Christian community. Peter was the elder of the original 12 apostles but he acquiesced to Jack’s leadership as is the tradition in patriarchal and monarchic systems where the eldest member of the close family (Jesus’ family) is generally offered the leadership. Jack was frequently trying hard to undermine the work of Paul by sending messengers to places were Paul had established new communities and insisting on the application of the Jewish Law.
21. Peter was illiterate and under the influence of myths and the Jewish Law. My hypothesis is that, since Marc, a young disciple and not one of the original apostles, was the constant companion of Peter in his travels, and since Marc was the first person to put in writing the first version of the New Testament, then what was inserted as “Jesus proclaiming that Peter is the rock on which his church will be built upon” was inspired by Peter.
22. If Peter traveled extensively with his wife outside of Judea it must be because his wife had firmer conviction than Peter in spreading Jesus’ message and might have been somehow literate.
23. I am under the impression that Jack’s wife enjoyed the cozy life of the partner of the leader of the community and didn’t care much about changing anything in her status or the hard life of traveling.
24. Paul changed his name from the first king of Israel Shaoul, Saul, to Paulos or the (little) in Greek while he was in Cyprus with Barnabas so that he might be considered a Greek instead of a Jew during his apostolic trips.
25. St. Peter also changed his name several times from Simon to the Aramean Kepha (rock) that Jesus labeled him and to the translated Greek name Petros and then known in the Latin form of Petrus. So far, Paul was the first person who wrote about Christ in his Epistles before the first Bible was written 30 years later; he even wrote what Jesus said during the last supper about sharing bread and wine in memory of his body and blood; the entirety of the quotation was later transferred in the Bibles.
26. It is estimated that the population under Roman rules at the time was 50 millions and 10% had Roman citizenship. Consequently, The Diaspora Jews were numerous in every large city enjoying special status in taxes; Alexandria hosted the majority of the Diaspora and when Emperor Claudius chased the Jew out of Rome they settled in Thessalonica in Macedonia.
27. So far the gathered epistles of St. Paul are two to the Corinthians, one to the Colossians, one to the Ephesians, one to the Galatea, one to the Philippians, one to the Romans, two to the Thessalonica, two to Timothy and one to Tite.
28. The Acts of Paul mentions that Peter was crucified in Rome three years prior to Paul. Peter might have been crucified upside down to satisfy the Church distinguishing Peter above all Saints and apostles because Peter said that he was not worth being crucified as Jesus. I am not sure the Romans had the habit of changing their rules and regulations as people wished.
29. During sabat the Jews in their synagogues follow an exact tradition; they read a chapter from the Torah (the parasha) then a passage from the Prophets (the haptara) the predication (the drasha) usually delivered by a visiting rabbi. Paul used to his status as a rabbi to predicate. The Church adopted the same Jewish tradition in reading a passage from the old testament (mostly in Protestant Churches), then an epistle from Paul, then a chapter from the New Testament and then the predication, then the Credo, then the communion with Christ (in Roman and Orthodox Churches).
30. Now, if the Jews are still waiting for the coming of a Messiah and the Christians are also waiting for the next coming of the Messiah then what is the problem between these two religions? Maybe the Christians should believe strongly that Christ has already come to absolve us from our sins so that our spirit might live in peace and adore God not in fear but as a friend who will never deny us his absolution.