When Elephants Fight It Is The Grass That Suffers

When Elephants Fight, it is the Grass that Suffers...a Kikuyu Proberb.

I was listening today, on CNBC, to Tim Russert interviewing Tom Friedman, a New York Times columnist. Friedman used this quote, when elephants fight, it is the grass that suffers, in describing the situation in Lebanon, where Lebanon is the grass. Friedman lived in Lebanon for many years and wrote the book, From Beirut to Jerusalem, which he says remains relevant to this day, despite the 17 years since it was written. I purchased the book a long time ago, meaning to get around to it. I think now is the time.

Rather than blog about my take on what is happening presently in Lebanon, I thought it might be more helpful to share some other blogs that I came across today as I perused the subject online, specifically from the point of view of peace.

Oh My God, that word seems so clear and simple to those of us sitting here thousands of miles away from the turmoil and strife and from the people who live there. I have come to know a blogger who calls herself The JerusalemGypsy and though her blog covers a variety of subjects from her perch in the city of Jerusalem, she is ardently a Pursuer of Peace. It was on her blog that I found THE WOMEN'S TENT....(The women’s tent occurred on Thursday-Friday 30-31st March 2006. 500 Druze, Muslim and Christian Arab, Jewish, American, Australian, Italian WOMEN gathered for 2 days of sharing ,ceremony, workshops, singing, food, dance and togetherness). This is just one example of her blog, called Jerusalm Wanderings .

If you, like me, bemoan the lack of moderate voices from the Arab side of THE DIVIDE, then you are going to want to vsit these next two blogs, that the JerusalemGypsy turned me on to.

The first is called Adventures of Mr. Behi and it represnts, in the JerusalemGypsy's words, Another Peace-nik in Iran. Who'da thunked it, right? Check this blog out and you begin to find something to be hopeful about. Also, it is a wealth of information about the Persian culture.

The next blog with its simple and unassuming name, bob's blog, is anything but (simple and unassuming, that is). This is how he describes it....This blog is a snapshot of Lebanon, its politics, lifestyles and history. And it will also include some book and movies reviews, and a bit about my life...
About Me


This man, Bob, is, I hope, not one of a kind. In response to his posts he gets comments telling him that they hope a bomb falls on him and his family. Because he is representing a more moderate and clear headed viewpoint of the war in Lebanon, stating that the Hezbollah is as much at fault, or maybe even more at fault than the Israelies, he is receiving comments telling him to get out of Lebanon because he is a disgrace to them and that he should go live in Israel. He loves Lebanon, but he also seems to love the truth. Check this blog out. I have linked only his last post because what is interesting to read, besides for his opinions, are the 57 comments that the opinion elicited. It is an eye-opener. There is within it equal parts HOPE and DESPAIR.


Diane S. said...


Thank you so much for these links. In times like these it is so hard to hear the quiet sensible voices in the clamour of the crowd.

May God have mercy upon us all.

Sherril said...

Even I will say...AMEN to that. Oh, and you're welcome.

ps two r's one l


Ricardo said...

Bob sounds like a cool guy. I'll give him a shout out.

Sherril said...

Yes, do, Ricardo.

mark said...

Sherril no offense this is another reason why I stay as far away from religion as possible, if you take away religion a lot of the justification for attacking Israel goes out of the window. However without religion thier is also no justification for Israel

Sherril said...

I am not sure that you are understanding me. First of all, I consider myself an agnostic and not a religious person. I believe strongly that Religions tend to divide people rather than bring them together. I think what you may not know is that Judaism is a lot more than a religion. In fact, there are people that consider us a Race, although we are not, but we are a People. What I mean by that is, there has been a Jewish people in the world for over 5,766 years. The Jewish people are a lot more than a religion. They are historically a Nation, who shares a language (Hebrew), and are bonded together by traditons, common history, rituals, a Hebrew calendar, a love for education and unfortunately being on the receiving end of Prejudice and Persecution. This is what I wrote to another blogger in trying to explain my connection to Judaism.

You see, my belief is that it is the culture and traditions and rituals and symbols that add beaty, continuity and education (among other things) to our lives. That is why I consider myself a cultural Jew. I celebrate the holidays. I have many Jewish symbols, objects and art around my house. I had a Jewish after school education ( i. e. I had a public education, the Jewish one was three days a week, two after school and one on Sundays) and I was Bat Mitzvahed. I gave the same education to my children. I sent my daughter on the March of the Living. I speak Hebrew. I tell you all of this by way of showing how important these aspects of Judaism are to me. They add dimension to my life. But none of this is dogma. I observe and have and do because I choose to, not because I was told I must. You know what I was thinking about the other day. I used to see myself as having a spiritual side to me, but maybe I don't. I mean I do believe there is something out there bigger than us, but I guess I see that to be Nature. I'm just not sure that a spiritual quest is what I'm after, at least not a religious spiritual quest.

So, you see, for me and many other Jews, religion, per se is only a part of the point, in that it teaches the rituals, holidays, etc. I guess the point I am trying to make here is that Jews, like African Americans are a minority in this country and for Jews in every country except Israel. Blacks are a minority in this country and in many others except for those in Africa. By being a minority, Jews, like Blacks have suffered unspeakable persecution, Blacks as slaves and Jews in the Holocaust, but not only the Holocaust; Jews have been persecuted in every country in the world throughout history, since they dispersed from, what people call "the Holy Land", over 5 thousand years ago. The Jewish people started in the land of Israel. The Babylonians and then a successsion of other nationalities expelled them from their own land and then from every other land they settled in. It is called, anti-Semiitsm. People hate Jews for many and no reasons, just like they hate Blacks. It is called Prejudice. For the Jews, there was no choice other than the Zionist one which was to have an ingathering of the Jewish people in the original land from which they came, in order to have a safe haven, one country in the world that would never again expel them. Since 1948 when anti-Semitism has reared it's ugly head, Jews no longer had to be weak and worry about persecution or worse, extermination, like in the Holocaust (6 million Jews were systematically murdered between 1940 and 1945) because since 1948, we finally have a safe place to call our own. So, you see Religion is not the Justification of the State of Israel, existance is.

mark said...

To be honest Sherril Jewish folks deserve peace just like everyone else, but in my oppinion going back in history to use as a basis for giving people land people were already on is not cool. Lets be honest if the british had not taken that area from the ottomans during ww2 would thier be as many jewish people or an Israel at all. Using the logic that was used for the creation of Israel would mean that Native americans should be able to tell everyone in america to leave because this land is thier birthright, Native Americans have 100 times more of a claim to america and a right to tell everyone else here to leave as did the Jewish folks to Israel. But you and I both now that will never happen because might makes right, which is how Israel was created.

Not trying to be a jerk, but it is kind of anoying when Jewish people act like thier was no one on that land before they got thier recently. Arabs left during ww1 when the turks and the british were at war. This is pretty obvious to me. Maybe not every last square inch of what is now known as Israel was occupied by Arabs but a lot of it was.

However I dont have too much sympathy for the arabs in this regard because they took vast swaths of land over a period of thousands of years by the sword. Meaning they took land from Jews or someone else right about where Israel is located today.

Also I dont care what happen, their is never any justification for blowing up women and children, never. Not to mention the fact that even if they were installed on that land after ww2 given the volitile nature of Islam right now they would be blowing something up or each other, or oppressing the minority Jews who have been thier the whole time.

Israel has every right to do whatever they need to do to defend herself, but right or wrong Israel has stiffened the resolve amongst the Hezbolla, Hamas types to keep fighting.

This is not a good thing. It is setting the table for more violence, until you get a moderate and reasonable Arab leader to negotiate peace.This is just my opppinon take it with a gigantic grain of salt

Sherril said...

Much of the land was uninhabited. Much of the land, in fact, was uninhabitable. The Jews made swamps into cities and deserts into cities and yet, kept much of the natural beauty.
Also, I see in your response that you don't refer at all to the crux of my message. As you should well know, prejudice and bigotry did not just happen in history. Unfortunately it is one of the constants in the life of humankind. History happened to teach us lessons for our present. The lesson of the Holocaust was Never Again. The only way for that to occur was for the Jewish Homeland to be reinstated.

As I have said before, as far as I'm concerned, Canada could have been our new homeland and safe refuge. I guess no one was offering it up. Uganda, which was discussed would have been maybe even worse than being in the middle east. The continent of Africa has not exactly been a welcoming place for many of its inhabitants. And besides the Jews had no connection to Uganda or Canada for that matter,, unlike the connection with Israel, which has been historically the Jewish Homeland since Biblical times.

The reality is that the land of Israel has been inhabited by Jews ever since man/woman has been on earth. That tiny piece of land that we call Israel (it is about the size of NJ) is and has been considered the land of Israel, the homeland of the Jews. This is not a new concept. The bible to some extent can be taken as history. If you think there is no relevance to history for today, you are quite simply wrong. And you keep making the link to Native Americans, but what you don't seem to understand is that the Native Americans are the equivalent to the Arabs, not the Jews. Thus if you don't agree that they have rights to reclaim their land, then the association would be that the Arabs do not have the right to reclaim theirs.

You asked me not to take offense, and I don't because I know the situation in the Middle East well and I understand well the need for the reclamation of a Jewish Homeland. The Arabs now have many, many homelands....Jordan, Lebanon, Syria, and the other oil rich Arabic countries. By the way, these lands were also parceled out by the British and the French and the other European countries to the Arabs as these various Arabic countries. The Jews have one. Give them a break, Mark.

Mark said... Lets be honest if the british had not taken that area from the ottomans during ww2 would thier be as many jewish people or an Israel at all.

Quick answer, yes. First of all, like it or not, the aftermath of war means that one country gains land and another loses it. So, the Turks lost the Middle East after WWI, not II. Like the Balfour Declaration, the British Mandate recognized the "historical connection of the Jewish people with Palestine," called upon the mandatory power to "secure establishment of the Jewish National Home," with "an appropriate Jewish agency" to be set up for advice and cooperation to that end. The World Zionist Organization, which was specifically recognized as the appropriate vehicle, formally established the Jewish Agency in 1929. Jewish immigration was to be facilitated, while ensuring that the "rights and position of other sections of the population are not prejudiced." English, Arabic, and Hebrew were all to be official languages.

I am not sure, Mark, if you read my post called, Israel..The Palestinians ..a Look Back. I actually wrote it for you and the others who had said that they were not well versed in the Israel vs. Arabs situation. Much of this information is there.

Mark said... But you and I both now that will never happen because might makes right, which is how Israel was created.

Mark, this is so wrong as to be funny. The Jews who had come to Israel in 1948 were survivors of the Holocaust. These people had been starved, beaten, tortured, seen their babies killed in front of their eyes, had their dignity stripped from them, many for five long years, suffered unbearable and unspeakable horrors. They did not have the physical, nor emotional strength to be mighty. Then there were the people who were there before 1948. They were of course stronger than the survivors, but soldiers they were not. Most had come from Europe with backgrounds in all sorts of things, but not soldiering. They had little money, limited ammunition, little of everything. They had to all but beg, borrow and steal what they could to build up any semblance of an army. Now, mind you, this rag-tag army was about to fight the armies of Egypt, Syria, Jordan and I guess Lebanon (not sure about that one). It was a joke. Of course the Arab nations should have won. They were the mighty ones with armies. All Israel had was its strength of need and desire and hopes and dreams. Well, guess what? Little Israel won that war in 1948 against all odds and all expectations. Israel was created by sheer will. The might was on the other side. Perhaps the right was on Israel's.

Mark said...Not trying to be a jerk, but it is kind of anoying when Jewish people act like thier was no one on that land before they got thier recently. Arabs left during ww1 when the turks and the british were at war. This is pretty obvious to me. Maybe not every last square inch of what is now known as Israel was occupied by Arabs but a lot of it was.

As far as I know, the Arabs did not leave during WWI. I'm not sure on what you base that or what you mean by it. As for the Jews, then and now not acknowledging the existance of Arabs on the land (remember there were also Jews on the land, but it is true that the Arabs outnumbered the Jews before the Jewish Statw was establised) that is and is not true. There were plenty of Jews then and now who worried about what would happen to the Arabs in a Jewish state. As for the Arabs who left when the War of Independence ocurred, or more correctly after the Jews won, there were and are Jews who again wanted to deal with the problem. Frankly, the majority were just ecstatic to have won an impossible war, but all knew that the situation with the Palestinian Arabs had to be dealt with. And it was. The UN came up with a plan for Partition, which meant the Jews would have part of the land and the West Bank and Gaza wouls be a Palestinian homeland (which by the way it was not before...not a homeland, but they did live there..the West Bank had been part of Jordan and Gaza was part of Egypt). The Palestian Arabs refused the partition. The rest, as they say, is history.

I am not sure, Mark, if you read my post called, Israel..The Palestinians ..a Look Back. I actually took the time to write it for you and the others who had said that they were not well versed in the Israel vs. the Arabs situation. Much of this information is there.

Mark said...Israel has every right to do whatever they need to do to defend herself, but right or wrong Israel has stiffened the resolve amongst the Hezbolla, Hamas types to keep fighting.

Yes, with this I agree. But, I ask, what choice does Israel have?

Mark, I want to say to you that I know you are speaking from your understanding and from your heart, as well as from what seems to me to be your humanistic nature. You are a young man, I believe between the ages of my son and my daughter. I very much appreciate your thinking about this matter and dialoging with me on it. You seem to be doing a lot of investigating of your own people. I too have done that. Civil Rights has always been in the forefront of my thinking and sensibilities. I hope we can continue to dialog on these and other issues. It helps me by making me think hard and clarify my thinking for you, as well as myself.

Diane S. said...


A thousand apologies for mispelling your name. My mind wants to do that with your name. I don't know why, but I have to think about it deliberately each time I write you.

Just a quick addendum to your comment on Anti-Semitism and the need for Isreal. It is widely believed that Stalin killed more Jews in Russia than Hitler did in the Holocaust. No one knows how many. Stalin was Very Good at keeping his secrets.

I mention this because I think too many people see the persecution of Jews solely in terms of the German Holocaust. Jewish persecution has a much longer and more global history than that, and continues today even in America, where many country clubs will not accept Jewish families as members.

There must be an Israel. I am a religious person, but I can state that aside from my religious beliefs. There must be an Israel.


From Diane who is not a Jew, but has loved many Jews.

Sherril said...

Dear Diane Who is Not a Jew, but has Loved Many Jews,

I thank you for your support and not only because you have loved many Jews, but because I have come to know you as a person who looks at issues from many perspectives and with thoughtful deliberation, so your opinions on this issue are much appreciated.

As for the spelling of my name....take a look at your comment on the essay post about children going off to college. ("

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Sherril said...

I am so curious how you came upon this post since I wrote it in 2006? I am glad you did and responded. Do read more about it. Life is for learning.