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Showing posts from July 5, 2017

Israeli Defense Forces: What a Democratic Army Looks Like

The Israeli Army is what a democratic army looks like. I would have said that before setting foot in Israel, but after two train rides, two bus rides, and walking in both Tel Aviv and Jerusalem, I saw an army that is of the people.

First, they are young.  I shared bus stops and train platforms with dozens of men and women somewhere around 20 years old at the most with backpacks, smartphones and automatic rifles.

They are also fit. I went to Iraq with a unit in which four in ten of the soldiers flunked the basic fitness test. All the Israeli soldiers I saw would bury me in a fitness test. And they should. Our all volunteer army cannot compel people, so they entice. And some people they entice are really not the kind of people who should be in the military.

They are part of Israeli everyday life. No one thinks it strange to see a young man sling his weapon under his arm so he can read a book while he waits for a train.  At one bus stop a young woman made a practiced move swing her carb…

A Greek Born in Kazakstan, Living in Germany

Dmitri and Bruder Timotheus at the Memorial/Museum Marking the former border between East and West Germany.  Br. Timotheus was Cliff Almes when we served together in Wiesbaden in the late 70s. He switched to a new uniform when his enlistment ended. Since 1979 he has been a Brother at Kanaan in Darmstadt, Germany. I spent the last week of June at Kanaan. Cliff and Dmitri and I visited Fulda together. More on that later.
During my stay in the Guest House at Kanaan, the man in the room  next door was on a long-term visit. Although he was born in 1967, his story wove together several threads of the politics of refugees and genocide in the 20th Century.

Dmitri was born in Kazakstan in the Soviet Union in a Greek community that came to what was then Russia in the midst of revolution in 1918. His grandfather and many other Greeks had been living in Ottoman Turkey for several generations. As the Ottoman Turks retreated at the end of World War I, the slaughtered more than a million Armenians i…