We may be a bit off the precise timing, but our seasonal greetings to people of different faiths are just as cordial: Merry Christmas, Delightful Diwali, Ecstatic Eid, Happy Chanukah, and a prosperous New Year to you all!
The more we have tried to improve the US & Russia relation, the more we realize that it can hardly be done without replacing the now prevailing paradigm of "clash of civilizations" by a realization of common destiny of humankind.
So, let me save your time for holidays celebration, by placing just two items inside RAGA Antidote 55 greeting.
First, I am delighted to forward the holidays greeting from Rich Siegel, an American musician and singer, who does his best to overcome the pernicious divide between Israel and Palestine, Jews, Muslims and Christians in the Holy Land. I got Siegel's greeting via Israel Shamir's readers list. (Shamir is my old friend who first emigrated from the USSR to Israel and then, upset about Israel's racist attitude toward Palestinians, moved back to Russia and now resides in Sankt-Peterburg).
Rich is an American peace-loving singer and musician. As a Jew, he is nonetheless happy to say "Merry Christmas" to Christians and "Happy Hanukkah" to Jews regardless whether they are in the USA or Israel or Russia or anywhere. But he feels especially distressed by the injustices and even terrorist attacks committed by Israeli extremists against Palestinian Muslims and Christians and even against Archbishop Atallah Hanna of Christian Palestinian Church in Jerusalem.
Rich quotes Archbishop:
“I would like to remind all Christians all around the world there is no point in celebrating Christmas if you do not pay attention to what is happening in Palestine as it is the birthplace of Christ and where Christianity originated and spread its message throughout the world.” ~Archbishop Atallah Hanna~
Unfortunately, the Archbishop believes that in his opinion“ISRAEL” IS RESPONSIBLE FOR POISONING ME". Quds News Network. Amman, Dec. 23, 2019. http://orthochristian.com/126648.html In Russian see https://russian.palinfo.com/news/2019/12/25/A
The second item is devoted to Professor William Brumfield of Tulane University who has done more for the restoration of the glory of Russian Christian architecture after the ravages of Soviet anti-religious campaigns than just about anybody. As RAGA friends may have noticed, just about every newsletter for the past several years ends with Professor Brumfield's photographic record of Russian Christian architectural monuments with brief and lucid commentary. Please read about Brumfield's recent trip to Moscow and his talk at The Andrei Rublev Museum ( https://www.moscovery.com/andrei-rublev-museum-of-ancient-russian-culture-and-art/ ) on December 23, 2019 in conjunction with his recent award by the Russian government.
I like to think that Siegel and Brumfield are just two American examples of cross-religious, cross-ethnic, and simply global solidarity that is so essential for the survival of the Planet. That is why lately, RAGA has become affiliated with the Global Harmony Association, founded by Dr. Leo Semashko of Sankt-Petersburg twelve years ago and now attracting global membership. A former Marxist-Leninist, Leo is determined to turn around Marxist class-struggle into class-cooperation, solidarity and HARMONY. Please take a look at Leo's personal page https://www.peacefromharmony.org/?cat=en_c&key=253
My own writings, both in English and Russian, can be also found there
Finally, as a non-Jewish member of Jewish Voice for Peace (JVP), I am just as concerned with the recent stabbing attack on five people at the home of Hasidim Rabbi in Monsey, N.Y., but I remain hopeful it was an act of a mentally unstable man rather than expression of Jew hatred in general.The governor called the violence an “act of domestic terrorism” after a suspect was arrested in Harlem. https://www.nytimes.com/2019/12/28/nyregion/monsey-synagogue-stabbing-anti-semitic.html
Here are Rich Siegel's holiday greetings!
I want to wish you all a Merry Christmas! I'm not big into saying "Happy Holidays!" I find that a lot of people are intimidated into saying that. And when they say Happy Holidays to me and I respond with "Merry Christmas" they get really happy. Like it's OK! Yes, it's OK.
I was raised Jewish and my family celebrates Chanukah. So I'll wish all my Jewish family and friends a Happy Chanukah! And I'd also like to wish all my African American friends (and African Canadian friends and African-African friends) a Happy Kwanzaa! Wow! We're all different and we celebrate different things. Let's CELEBRATE THAT!!
I had to promise an employer recently that I would not mix promoting their music venue with political statements. So recently my mailings have only included information about my performances, and also my daughter's performances. So now this will be the political mailing.
I want to say something about the incident that happened. That venue received an anonymous phone call. The warning was that if Rich Siegel performs at the venue there will be people carrying picket signs out front.
Really?! I was playing piano and singing Sinatra tunes and all my favorites songs from France and Cuba and Mexico and Brazil, for people who come out because they like that stuff. Have I really made anyone so angry that they think I shouldn't be allowed to work- that I shouldn't be allowed to entertain people?
Of course I'm aware that political activism is bound to offend some people. But I don't like to hide this part of myself, to pretend that I'm a non-political person when I'm performing my music. I think music and activism very connected, and in fact I have a very political CD for sale (scroll down).
But beyond that, even though it's the Christmas season, and even though in our culture we like for it to be all warm and fuzzy (OK cold and snowy!) and perhaps we don't want to be reminded about all the unpleasantness in the world, maybe the reason for the season is a guy named Jesus. And even though I was raised Jewish, I've read Jesus' teachings and I like what he says. "Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called children of God", Matthew 5:9.
I want that blessing. I want to be a peacemaker. And I don't believe I achieve that by not taking sides, by pretending that abuses don't exist. And when my own people commit abuses, I feel I have more of a responsibility.
I met the Archbishop several years ago, when he spoke in New Jersey. The talk was in Arabic, which I don't speak, but I wanted to be there, and a Palestinian friend translated the main points later. I was also privileged to have a personal conversation with the Archbishop, and to shake his hand.
Six days ago, on December 18, a gas cannister was tossed into the Archbishop's church in Jerusalem. It is not known whether this attack was committed by IDF or Israeli police or by Israeli citizens. It is known that the gas cannister came from the IDF. The Archbishop was poisoned by it, and hospitalized. He is recovering at this time. Exposure to this gas can cause permanent injury.
I am heartbroken. It should be known, and it is not well-known at all, that attacks on Christian clergy in Jerusalem are frequent. In particular, Christian clergy are frequently spat upon, which is disgusting. This attack was more serious.
"I grew up in Gaza City. I was a stateless child, living with my parents, my uncle, his wife and children, and grandparents in a total of five rooms. I lived through the first intifada. I lived through the constant fear of soldiers raiding our home and arresting my father and uncle. I lived through a shooting near my kindergarten. I lived through my primary school being shot at. I lived through my prep school being bombarded with illegal white phosphorus munitions. Then I experienced the brutality of Israel's response to the second intifada. As I grew into a teenager and then an adult, I lived through countless other assaults, invasions and massacres.
The water in Gaza by now is undrinkable. Contaminated and scarce, owing to Israel's brutal siege and bombing of infrastructure, it is causing death and disease. Gazans also get just five to six hours of electricity most days, sometimes not getting any for a full 24 hours. The food insecurity is also high in the Gaza Strip. Farmers are not allowed to grow food on lands in or adjacent to the so-called "buffer zone" along the fence that the Israelis have established for "security" reasons. Approximately 30 percent of Gaza's agricultural land cannot be worked without severe personal risk, causing the loss of livelihood according to PCHR (Palestinian Center for Human Rights).
Fishermen are also unable to throw their nets freely, as the Israeli sea blockade does not allow them to fully use Gaza's territorial waters. My family's house in Gaza is 1.5km away from the border and we regularly hear Israeli tanks shooting at Palestinians.
Debris dominates the landscape in Gaza. The Israeli siege prevents construction materials from entering the strip, so after every Israeli assault, damaged and destroyed buildings do not get rebuilt. The blockade not only prevents goods from entering the strip, but also prevents people from leaving this open-air prison. Hospitals are lacking medicine and equipment and yet patients have to wait for permits from the Israeli authorities to leave for treatment elsewhere; many have died waiting. Students who want to study abroad, explore the world and learn are also unable to leave. But alhmduallah we are patient and steadfast and have iman and taqwa".
(Meaning: "Praise be to God,...we have faith and piety.")
Bahjat is a Muslim. As much as the media likes to invent the notion that there is a lack of harmony between Christians and Muslims, it's just not true. The Archbishop and my friend Bahjat are very much united in their wish to see the abuses in their homeland end.
Bahjat would like to leave Gaza. He needs a job, and a sponsor. If I can't save the whole population in the the largest open air concentration camp in human history, maybe I can save one guy. If anyone would care to employ Bahjat, please let me know. His English is very good.
Photo: Robert Martin
“The Way to Peace is a stellar recording.” -Brent Black, Critical Jazz
“A memorable album from a deeply sincere artist.”- John Hoglund, Cabaret Scenes
Purchase CD here.
"Today it’s a great honor for us to present professor Brumfield with a high state award of the Russian Federation - the Order of Friendship in accordance with the Russian presidential decree signed on October 26, 2019, for achievements in strengthening friendship and cooperation between the nations, fruitful activity in conciliating and mutually enriching the cultures of our nations and peoples. Please accept our most cordial congratulations!" Antonov said. https://tass.com/society/1096371
As RAGA readers know, just about every RAGA newsletters for several years has ended with Professor Brumfield’s brief and precise photographic record of Russian religious heritage, often Orthodox Christian churches and chapels that fell apart from age, abuse and vicious desecration during anti-religious campaigns of Soviet government.
In a sense, William Brumfield has been playing a role similar to that of Savva Yamshchikov and dozens other selfless Russian restorers of Russian religious art after decades of Soviet abuse. As Wikipedia says, Savva Yamshchikov (1938 –2009) was a leading expert on Russian provincial art, particularly medieval icon painting and of the 18th and 19th centuries. Graduated from the Moscow University, Yamshchikov worked at the All-Russian Art Restoration Center in Moscow. He went from one province to another in order to find medieval icons that required cleansing. Yamshchikov …advised Andrei Tarkovsky on the film production of “Andrei Rublev” and Sergey Bondarchuk on the film Boris Godunov. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Savva_Yamshchikov
So here William presented his latest book “Puti k Belomu Moriu” (‘Ways to the White Sea’) which is actually a Russian translation of his book “Architecture at the End of the Earth: Photographing the Russian North” published by Duke University Press in in Durham, London, 2015. As I currently reside in Moscow, it fell upon me to say a few words about William after his introduction by the Museum rep.
I told the audience how I founded the Russia & America Good Will association (RAGA.org) in early 1990s. After the collapse of the USSR, all former Soviet associations of friendship also disintegrated, including the one in Washington DC. That’s why I decided to fill the vacuum with an organization that was essentially non-political and non-partisan. We favor neither Democrats nor Republicans, neither Capitalism nor Socialism, neither neoliberal economics nor Neo-Conservative politics. After over 70 years of isolation from the outside world, former Soviet citizens, as well as Americans, needed People-to-People contacts. To make those contacts more rewarding we should abandon all prejudices and act always in the spirit of Good Will.
As former professor of Russian Studies and-- after moving to Washington DC in 1991-- as a free-lance interpreter and translator I knew full well that in addition to whatever cultural and language barriers, all former Soviet citizens – and I worked not just with Russian and Ukrainians, but also Georgians, Azerbaijanis and all Central Asian republics –badly needed to overcome the political prejudices and restrictions imposed on them by Soviet propagandists. On a much smaller scale and with meager resources, RAGA had been doing the work similar to that the Open World Leadership program (https://www.loc.gov/loc/lcib/9908/rlp.html ) founded Dr. James Billington (1929 – 2015) of the Library of Congress and Russian Academician Dmitry Likhachev (1906 – 1999), a former GULAG prisoner on the Solovky Islands , photographed by Brumfield.
Sharon Tennison’s Center for Citizen Initiatives (https://ccisf.org/) in San Francisco has also served as RAGA’s role model, as well as Eduard Lozansky’s American University in Moscow (http://us-russia.org/)
Among RAGA’s favorite sources is The American Committee for East-West Accord, Ltd. (https://eastwestaccord.com/). RAGA relies on such perceptive authors as Dr. Gilbert Doctorow who watches the world from Brussels and Patrick Armstrong, a former Canadian diplomat, who always presents an excellent overview of US-Russia events.
In addition to RAGA, I have published my own articles on the site of Fitzgerald Friffin Foundation (as W George Krasnow), Johnson Russia List (https://russialist.org/), Veterans Today, and Antiwar.com. I have been interviewed by Dr. Kevin Barrett’s Truthjihad Radio. Lately, The Unz Review and Russia-Insider posted a number of my articles.
Whenever I can I try to acquaint Russian people with how Americans view Russia. I have also translated into Russian a number of such outstanding American authors as Patrick Buchanan, Chris Hedges, Noam Chomsky, Allan Brownfeld, Chas Freeman, Charles Bausman, and Marjory Cohn.
In Russia, where I currently reside, my articles appeared in Predstavitelnaya vlast’ (http://www.pvlast.ru/archive/index.565.php), an independent State Duma magazine, and in a number of local newspapers. I was also often interviewed by RADIO RADONEZH, an independent Christian radio station that broadcasts worldwide. In Russia, RAGA closely works with the Global Harmony Association founded by Dr. Leo Semashko of Sankt Peterburg (https://www.peacefromharmony.org/?cat=en_c&key=253) some twelve years ago. I have published my articles there too: https://www.peacefromharmony.org/?cat=en_c&key=884
Overall, I must conclude that Professor Brumfield’s pictographic presentation of the uniqueness of Russian civilization to the outside world, especially to the Americans, constitute an important ingredient to RAGA’s peace-promoting endeavors, and I personally congratulate him on receiving a high award from the Russian government.
To see Brumfield’s pictographic art, any RAGA reader can review previous issues of RAGA Antidotes.
W George Krasnow (http://wiki-org.ru/wiki/Краснов,_Владислав_Георгиевич)
Peace and Justice to the World.
миру мир и благоволение в сердцах
From RAGA site:
"We are an association of Americans who believe it is in the U.S. national interests to foster friendship with Russia on the basis of mutual Good Will and non-interference in each other's affairs. RAGA is a gathering of people who share common interests in Russia's history, culture, religion, economy, politics and the way of life. We feel that Russian people have made outstanding contributions to humankind and are capable of greater achievements. We envision Russia as a strong, independent, proud and free nation and as a partner in achieving peace in the world."
All statements in this report are an opinion of the author. Act at your own risk. Russia & America Goodwill Association (RAGA) is not responsible for the content of the article. Any views or opinions presented in this report are solely those of the author and do not necessarily represent those of RAGA. Any liability in respect to this communication remain with the author.