Steven Clark Bradley, Author of Patriot Acts, Nimrod Rising, Stillborn and Probable Cause is a world-wide traveler who has been to 34 countries. Here is Part One of his three-part series "Brothers At War" which he wrote concerning the constant conflict facing the tiny but powerful State of Israel. One of the huge themes in Steven Clark Bradley's novel, Nimrod Rising, is the series of events that lead up to the final culmination of world war in Israel known as Armageddon. Read part one of "Brothers at War" and learn about the author, Steven Clark Bradley and his experience that led him to write the powerful novel Nimrod Rising.
Part One: Brothers at War
A First-Hand View of Jacob's Trouble
The trip had been planned quickly. I had witnessed the conflict in the Holy Land long enough on TV. I had to see this tiny but very significant country whose actions could cause the world to tremble. I had to write about it and see it for myself. It had come to me as one of those things that I just could not refuse. I felt that there was a story on both sides that was being written piecemeal and that there had to be a way to tell it in the big picture.
Here I was at O'Hare, ready to go. Israel was not the summer getaway it used to be, but I have never been a tourist anywhere I have ever been, and I did not intend to be one now. 911 did have a tremendous impact on me, as with most Americans, and it caused me to take my sizzling, hemorrhaging world more seriously. I knew that there was something historically afoot and I had to be part of it. It gets boring just watching history. Sometimes you have to be part of it and hopefully along the way make a little history too.
To say it appropriately, I had been to 33 countries, previous to travelling to Israel. I have been privileged to be as far East as the Eastern border of Bangladesh, as far North as Iceland and as far South as Senegal, West Africa. Every one of these regions has added something to my life and has made me think differently than before I visited them. The Muslim, the Catholic, the Hindu all gave special memories to me. Nevertheless, all of them combined never influenced the core of my heart like the Jews and the Palestinians in the middle of this war of stones, bomb-blasted bodies and sacred history being waged in the Holy Land. The truth is that both the Jewish and the Palestinian are wonderful peoples. From both of these rich cultures are masses of distressed people who want nothing more than peace. They want to keep their traditions, raise their children and simply live a life that is free of persistent fear.
The Israelis who worked at my hotel became my friends and were far more open about the tragic conflict than one might imagine. I sought to encourage them to trust in their faith and the future promises to their land. I tried to listen pretty well, also. Three workers at my hotel, Biet Shmuel had lost family members on the bus bombing on June 18. It was hard to be positive, but they needed lifted up while their world was crashing down.
Notably, the Palestinians were quite friendly to me from behind eyes that were angry, broken and insecure that even their tear-stained veils could not hide. Having spent time with one family in particular, I can say that they have a deep bond together. They are not nomads with nowhere to go. They are where they all expect to stay, along side of Israel if need be. They are honest and committed to give all for their land, even their blood if need be. Ahmet was the Café manager at my hotel. After talking to him for an hour I realized that this man was very smart. He could speak beautiful English, Hebrew and his mother tongue, Arabic. Take this man out of his entrapped milieu and set him free to be productive and he would make a lot of money. He told me, "I like everyone here. They are all very good people.
Of course I would like there to be a place for my people, but now I have a little boy and I want to live. I am treated very well in Israel. I love my family." These were deep words to me. He is a wise man, having earned respect on both sides of the conflict. Therefore, it is not a fair assumption to declare either side as purely evil or always good, clearly wrong or clearly right. They are two great peoples who have become strategically out of options. That meant that I would need to be ready to write the story as I saw it and to suppress any preconceived notions that I had possessed concerning who was wrong or who was right. I would have to be neutral. I would have to hear both halves of the story. I would ease into the situation after a quiet flight to the Holy Land. It was not to be.
I did my patriotic duty and was at the airport more than three hours early. Quickly, an Israeli security agent came up to me. He took my passport, looked at the eight year old picture inside it and did not quite believe it was me. I totally agreed. I told him that both the picture and the real thing were ugly. He asked me, "Why are you going to Israel now?" At times, I was asking myself the same question. "Don't you know what's going on there?" I told him that of course I did and that I was not afraid. I answered all his questions and I was informed five minutes later that they would not let me go on that flight. I would have to wait for the next morning and no explanation why was being offered. So, after a good night at the Radisson, on ELAL's tab, I boarded my flight the next morning. This experience and the six times that my bags were completely emptied and x-rayed and squeezed and shaken during my trip showed me that this was going to be the closest thing to being a war correspondent that I had ever experienced. This proved to be true as I was confronted head on with the post 911 world and two peoples under siege.
Arriving in Tel Aviv was like landing in the center of the world. History was invented in the Middle East, and Jerusalem was every bit the face of the Eternal City. The traffic ran "a la Middle East", but all the lights worked and few horns blared. I was tired and sleepy, but one doesn't go to Jerusalem during the intifada for sleep, and indeed I did little of it.
The old city of Jerusalem is stunning to see. I had to touch those ancient walls that had served as a fortress for kings. I walked around the walls past the Jaffa gate, the new Gate and finally came to the Damascus Gate. This was the Arab quarter. There were thousands of people there and it was like I had walked out of one country and into another. Covered women and loud voices screaming in Arabic gave me a chance to hear from the other side of the story here and that was what I wanted. Having lived in many Muslim countries, I felt comfortable and walked into the crowd. All together, I spoke to twenty-six different Arab men on my first day. None of them expressed approval for the bombers. The thick quiet serenity of the old city was deceiving. These merchants knew that they had no choice but endure the hard times. The quiet would not long endure though. As I walked, eyes trailed after me and before me. Was it my camera, my Western face or the fact that I was a foreigner who, in their minds, had but one interest, a story, and not necessarily a desire to understand the plight of their people, who had been repudiated by the developed powers of the world and by their own Arab brothers? Overhead that day, in the old city, an army helicopter circled overhead. The word was that there were two bombers in the city and that spelled murder. In all, I spent my first week speaking to many of these normal fathers and children who did not have the slightest hunch what their futures would hold.
It is difficult for placated, satiated Westerners to even marginally contemplate the nightmare of the Palestinians. Their society is far more open than that of many other Muslim peoples. They lead the pack, in the Muslim world, for literacy. Therefore, it is not inconceivable that the Palestinian people could produce good, competent leadership. Freedom for democracy and fair elections would bring in new leadership. If the UN and the USA can convince the Palestinian people that any elections must be fair and democratic, the people will vote for new leaders, because the Palestinians, I have met in their own homes, want peace. Their businesses are failing because the tourists are gone, and their families are in danger. Fairly though, the large majority of Palestinian Israelis stated to me that they were content to be citizens of Israel as long as they could achieve equal rights and be respected as equal partners with the Jewish state. None of them ever expected that prospect to become a complete reality, but they preferred to live in the relative safety of the Israeli side of the disputed borders.
In speaking with Jewish citizens, it was related to me that this was not possible in the present climate. Who could know who was legitimate and who was not? Was a weak Arafat of the past better than a future strong leader from Hamas, Islam Jihad, Al Aksa Martyrs' Brigade or some other terrorist group or faction? How could Israel make a lasting peace deal with a nation that was even divided amongst its own people, as we see today in The Gaza? One young woman who was a Palestinian lawyer expressed it to me this way, "I have so many friends who are Jewish. We really love each other and have always done everything together.
Now, we are not allowed to contact each other and God knows how much I miss them." The bottom line is that from both sides, these are scared, brutalized, bewildered people. They are not all militants and they not all combatants. They wake up, try to go to work and try to pay their bills. When they look at their children, they feel proud and afraid for their offspring's futures. Little is heard about the rank and file residents of the Holy Land, because they do not yield powerful stories of hatred and death. Perhaps if the media would go out and talk to them, the whole world would have a greater sense of hope for future peace in the Middle East. What I experienced next demonstrated why peace is so illusive in Israel...
Steven C. Bradley
About Steven Clark Bradley
Steven Clark Bradley has been to thirty-four countries including Pakistan, Iraq, Turkey and Africa. He has a Master's in Liberal Studies from Indiana University and speaks French and Turkish. He has been an Assistant to a Prosecutor, a University Instructor and freelance Journalist in Iraq, Israel and Turkey. Steven is the author of four dramatic thrillers, Patriot Acts, Nimrod Rising, StillBorn & Probable Cause.
You can find my books almost anywhere across the net and in an increasing number of bookstores. Here are a few links to help readers get copies of my Stories the will read them.
Patriot Acts @ Fictionwise.com (eBook Edition)
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