When fighting nihilistic, authoritarian, repressive, totalitarian and/
or fundamentalist movements or governments, those on the side of
freedom need to keep in mind the big picture: no such negative
structure has ever withstood the test of time or can compete in a
clean race against liberty of thought and expression.

Acts of terrorism and sabotage as such do not pose an existentialist
threat and cannot be allowed to hijack the mind with fear, which is
their only real threat.

And States built on fear will eventually self-destruct if left to
their own devices.

But two questions remain:

• Is it moral not to aim to liberate or at least support citizens
suppressed within such a system? For children of Holocaust survivors
this is a difficult proposition.

• Is there an existentialist threat from regimes lead by apocalyptic
ideologies and working to develop weapons of mass destruction? Even
if those systems would eventually implode on their own, can you afford
to wait and see if they don’t seriously harm you first?

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Tom Friedman has turned into a global icon by taking complex matters, synthesizing them, and explaining them in easily understood sound-bites that everyone can relate to.  He is excellent at creating clear contrasting images and analogies to our daily experience.  While in the process he often over-simplifies an issue and turns it into pop, this is sometimes precisely what society needs to absorb and popularize a vision or mission.  He also for the most part REALLY gets it.  And he tends to be way ahead of the pack in anticipating trends and understanding recent developments.

 

That is why it is regrettable that he has stopped talking about the Palestinian-Israeli conflict. 

At a talk in Dalian, Tom Friedman reminded the audience of some of his insights: 

               * Steve Jobs dropped out of college, but not without first taking a calligraphy course that influenced his sense of style and contributed to his creation of APPLE; inference: Liberal Arts are an integral component of education; engineering and sciences are important; but creativity, curiosity and design are even more important to the process of innovation. 

               * CQ (Curiosity Quotient) and PQ (Passion Quotient) will beat IQ (Intelligence Quotient) anytime 

               * China is like a beautifully paved super-highway, orderly and efficient, but with a huge speedway bump ahead – called political transition; it could end up being a smooth ride, or the wheels could fall off; India is like a messy dirty and pot-hole ridden super-highway, but with a flat road ahead that looks almost like an oasis or a mirage; who will win? Only time will tell… 

               * Grandma Friedman says ‘don’t assume the 21st century will belong to a country that censors google’s flow of information.” 

I approached Tom after the talk and asked why he had been silent on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict for such a long time. 

“I don’t know what to say anymore,” he replied with stunning and depressing honesty. 

He, and many others, are starting to tune-out, as they are just turned-off by the lock that fundamentalism and violent extremism have placed on the region.  The whole world will soon tune out the entire Middle East, if the Middle East doesn’t get its act together. 

Israelis, Palestinians, Middle Easterners, and the Jewish and Muslim worlds should take seriously the fact that most people are just fed up with the Middle East, with Islamic Fundamentalism, and with the lack of resolution of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

 

If the people on the ground don’t start taking action to take their lives back from the fringe of active and passionate militant absolutists that have hijacked the region, the world will just close its doors to them and will just contain and bypass them.


It is starting to happen.  People are just shutting-out the region, and I often hear people say “let them kill each other.” 

 

It is high time that THE PEOPLE STAND UP and inspire the world to get back behind them. 

Thomas Friedman, where are you? And will you come back to speak for the moderates that are fed up with violent extremism? 

Only if the moderates start showing they’ve got what it takes to do their part.

Then they will inspire Friedman and armies of others to rally behind them.

But the people on the ground have to lead. 

 

On October 18th the people of the region have a historic chance to stand up and speak up!

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It is not PC to admit that Anglo-Americans often have problems distinguishing Asian faces (or for that matter, any other ethnicity).

 But from China Southern Air comes some comforting confirmation that for the Chinese, the opposite is true – Americans (or Westerners) all seem to look alike to them.

On the plane on the way back from Dalian to Beijing, I caught this hilarious variety news item where an intrepid reporter had paired Western soccer players and Hollywood celebrities that, apparently to Chinese eyes, looked fantastically alike – at least fantastic enough to be tv-worthy.

What is hilarious is how far these people look alike!

Here are some of the editors’ wise matches: (click on any of them to enlarge and see it closer – and click again to expand)

Will Smith -with some black soccer player:

  Will Smith and a black soccer player

The only thing these have in common is that they are both black!

 Ben Stiller with some white soccer player:

Ben Stiller and twin

 The only thing these two have in common is that they are both white!

Here are close ups of the twins:

Ben Stiller as ZoolanderBen Stiller’s TwinOk, they did get a couple slight similarities, not sure they are worthy of a tv story, but here is Matt Damon’s soccer alter-ego…

 Matt Damon and Twin

But Brad Pitt’s?!

Brad Pitt and Twin?

And the Dude from Dude Where is My Car’s alter-ego?

Dude from Dude Where is My Car?

And Mel Gibson’s nephew?!

Mel Gibson and Twin?

But the punch line is that their long-lost twin matches included some 23-year old soccer player with 80+ year-old Clint Eastwood!

 Clint Eastwood and Twin

Here are the close ups confirming how much they look alike (not!)

Clint’s Twin?Clint Eastwood

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One of the most stimulating meetings I had at the YGL conference was with Arthur Mutambara.  I had not gotten the chance to connect with him during the conference, until I heard him ask a question at a session with the CEO of China Mobile, Wang Jianzhou.   

China Mobile is the world’s largest and fastest-growing cell phone company, and we were wowed at the enormity of their growth: 330 million subscribers, and 90 million more anticipated within the next 12 months. 

Arthur MutambaraArthur was not awed or intimidated, and yet was very elegant and logical in the way he asked Mr. Jianzhou a question.  He basically asked him, as an engineer and business executive, how he could reconcile technological growth and innovation with a closed political system and whether he felt that in the end China would be able to competitively innovate (as opposed to just emulate) and create new products, if it continued to censor the web and block political development. 

Mr. Jianzhou’s reply was that these matters are very complicated. 

I was struck that Arthur’s question was particularly gutsy, given an otherwise artificial atmosphere of total adulation that ignored the big elephant in the room.  It takes strength of character to be able to ask tough questions that could be controversial but important, and it takes elegance and sophistication to do so in a professional way. 

Later that night I got to learn where this passion and eloquence emanated from. 

Arthur leads a political party of the opposition in Zimbabwe, the Movement for Democratic Change.  Leading an opposition party in Zimbabwe is not an easy proposition: the ruler is an authoritarian dictator whose government has jailed, tortured and decimated opponents, and brought Zimbabwe down to shambles. 

Arthur actually felt he had not done enough.  “I live in a country where people may be jailed.  Where I may be jailed when I come back to my country.   I could be tortured.  I don’t know how many civil rights leaders or activists are being kept inside dark rooms here in China.  But I feel a duty to stand up and call for freedom.  If something happens to me, will others stand up?” [I am paraphrasing to the best of my ability] 

 Arthur reminded a group of YGLs that leadership is about “taking risks, self-sacrifice, and rebelling for justice” where necessary. 

Gutsy guy.

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Love and Fear

Published under Favorite Quotes, Global, Life Sep 07, 2007

At the concluding session of the Young Global Leaders, a group of YGLs
from all over the world provided a very powerful paradigm contrast as
to leadership styles and life styles: of love vs fear.

“There are only 2 things in the world: love and fear. If you don’t
love it, you fear it.”

“Fear = Exclusion.”

“Love = Inclusion.”

I will try to get the full text to the Fear vs. Love Model. It is
very powerful.

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A YGL from Colombia mentioned at a session here in Dalian that
‘reality changes faster than perception,’ which is a challenge to
Colombia because even as vast economic, social and political
developments take place, the stereotype about Colombia as a dangerous
guerrilla-ridden zone will take far longer to change.

The same problem exists in conflict areas.

It is a serious challenge because media will have a big incentive to
report the bad, but relatively little compunction to report the good.

At a session on simulating business management of risks, an executive
of a newspaper explained he was primarily driven by selling more
newspapers, so controversial and negative developments that shock,
scare, and incite will always take the front page.

For OneVoice, and for moderates and centrists worldwide, this presents
a serious challenge.

Sent from my iPhone – pardon typos

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Definition: Naive

Published under Definitions by DL, OneVoice Movement Sep 07, 2007

Conventional wisdom definition for Naive: someone too innocent and
dreamy who thinks he or she can help change or impact socio-political
conditions or somehow alter the course of history or their surroundings.

In areas of conflict, it also tends to be used to counter someone who
does not think ‘the enemy’ is mono-chromatic or wholly arrayed to the
destruction of the other.

OV Definition for Naive: someone who believes 2 politicians alone can
bring peace to the region or otherwise resolve a nation’s ills;
someone who believes inaction is a luxury they can take, and does not
realize every day that moderates don’t take action they cede the
agenda to extremists who are passionate and committed enough to do
something.

Sent from my iPhone – pardon typos
.

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Israeli Taxi Drivers are very special. They are also psychologists,
political scientists, and socialites all packed into one.

Unlike NY taxi drivers where seating on the front is only done when
there are too many passengers, with Israeli drivers you are just as
likely to sit in the front, and the drivers can – and will not
hesitate to – speak knowledgeably about almost any topic.

Many Israeli cabs are brand new Mercedes Benz cars (partly because of
a culture of pride in the car driven, partly becuase of the lo g-haul
quality, and partly because Taxis don’t need to pay the massive 45%
government tax). Fares are reasonable AND tipping is an appreciated
exception.

The best way to get a feel for the sentiment on the Israeli street is
to talk to Taxi drivers. Even though I have a car there, going to
meetings within Tel Aviv can cost you more in parking and give you
more headaches finding a spot than just taking a cab. And there is
the added plus of the taxi drivers.

Trying to get taxi drivers to believe in the power of the people is
not easy – they are skeptical creatures. But they are far more
skeptical of politicians. And when they eventually come on board,
they are strong emissaries. Some have agreed to hand out OneVoice
Mandates from their cabs.
.

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The Palestinian parliamentary elections in 2006 gave Hamas a plurality
in all districts except one.

The only place where Hamas was soundly defeated and gained not one
seat was Qalqiliya. What is remarkable about Qalqiliya is that it is
also the only area where Hamas had gained total control in the prior
municipal elections less than a year before.

According to two different polls, if elections were held again today
15% to 25% would vote for Hamas, underlining that wherever Hamas has
governed, it has provided the roots of its own demise.

The BIG problem is that this lesson is not lost on Hamas itself and
they are unlikely to accept new elections.

Like Bernard Lewis once wrote, Islamist parties believe in the axiom
of ‘one man, one vote, one time.’

They will probably have to face the destiny of the Taliban.

Sent from my iPhone – pardon typos
.

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This last Friday, Gazans organized a protest against Hamas. They
called on people to pray outside the mosques.

The background to this is that Hamas has seized total control of the
mosques, banning any Imam who does not follow the party line, and
using the pulpit for their political and ideological propaganda.

Needless to say, the people are fed up about Hamas’s abuses. What is
remarkable is that this protest came from the people and from civil
society groups, not from political parties.

This is thus a potential milestone, when the fight is not just between
Fatah and Hamas, but now also between Hamas oppression and popular
disgust.

Hamas reacted with harshness, beating up people praying on the
streets, which will only further alienate the public.

Reporters were injured in an effort to intimidate the media from
sharing the news.

Sent from my iPhone – pardon typos
.

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