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New York Mysteries

Ben Okri is a Booker prize-winning author and poet. His book Tiger Work, a collection of stories, essays and poems about the climate crisis, is published by Head of Zeus, and in the US by Other Press


I don’t know how many have died
Or how many died before war flared up.
There must be a way to listen to all
The pain that burns in a people
Must be a way to hear all that anguish.
Pain creates pain creates deadness
Of heart. Distance makes all that suffering
Unreal. How else can great powers
Add bombs and missiles to an agony
That’s engulfing the world in fire and rage?
How did we become so deaf to the death
Of innocent children and their mothers?
How did we get to measure the value
Of one death against another, with one
Worth a thousand of the other?

Surely the heart of the world has died.
Surely we have turned to stone in our veins.
I sit here staring at the sky wondering what
Could change the coldness in the soul
That makes it possible for us to eat our food,
go to work and laugh with our families
When we know that over in Gaza, a brief dream
Away, hundreds of thousands starve,
Their homes destroyed, their lives broken.

There ought to be no religion that lets
Us be indifferent to all that suffering.
Surely something’s wrong with the world.
Something’s twisted in our humanity.
I have friends who weep at the loss
Of their dogs, but whose ears are closed
To the wailing from the flattened houses
Of Gaza. Complexity ought not to stop our
Souls from feeling. For pain creates pain
Creates stones instead of human beings.

There are in truth no distances in the spirit
Of humanity. Any great injustice makes
The sleep of the world howl. We breathe in
The destruction of lives that we don’t see.
In our dreams we die with them. In our sleep
Our souls grieve with them, for their deaths
Are ours, whoever they may be. We grow
Sick with the times. We become twisted with
The wounds. Whether we are silent or not
We are poisoned by the massacres. No
Civilisation can survive on the murder
Of a people. We are watching our demise 
In our silence. Peace is not ignorance or lies.

We are measured by what we tolerate,
The agony we ignore, keep quiet about,
For our peace of mind. Silence helps
Those missiles. Our silence is touched
With the blood of those children. And every
Day that we turn away, and shut our hearts,
Below, in the common earth of all humanity,
The spilled blood rises and ghosts feed on our
Prosperity. For Gaza is not there. It’s here.


That the war must end, it is clear
Find a way, find a way
That does not mean the destruction
Of one people or another.
History, in its wisdom, in its terror,
Has brought us to this place
To this impossible mathematical
Equation where we cannot solve
The future with the past,
With blood or blame or bombs
Or unsustainable slogans.
I see a new future is possible there.
I see the lands fertile in tough
Invaluable collaboration.
I see that the desert will come alive
With music. I see two peoples finding
A new way. I see that this miracle
Is the only pragmatic path.
All that hatred, that anger, can
Only blossom into a miracle.
If vision and love can’t bring us
There, then let all the suffering
Find for us a new road.

I see a shining land where
Two dreams surprise the world
By finding a way to coexist.
It would be the greatest
Breakthrough of our times.
Who would dream it, make it
Real, while the bombs flower
And the children weep?

Who will find a
Way instead of
Taking a side?

Who will find a
Way instead of
Taking a side?

As sure as I
Sit here staring
At the sky, I know
That this vision
Of peace
Must come to be.

It’s an unavoidable destiny.

A Shoutout for Fathers

Kris Conklin, a long-time friend I met at Judson Memorial Church, celebrated and mourned her father’s recent death by describing his sweet, wise nature and sharing this poem.

Shifting the Sun

by Diana Der-Hovanessian

When your father dies, say the Irish,

you lose your umbrella against bad weather.

May his sun be your light, say the Armenians.

When your father dies, say the Welsh,

you sink a foot deeper into the earth.

May you inherit his light, say the Armenians.

When your father dies, say the Canadians,

you run out of excuses. May you inherit

his sun, say the Armenians.

When your father dies, say the French,

you become your own father.

May you stand up in his light, say the Armenians.

When your father dies, say the Indians,

he comes back as the thunder.

May you inherit his light, say the Armenians.

When your father dies, say the Russians,

he takes your childhood with him.

May you inherit his light, say the Armenians.

When your father dies, say the English,

you join his club you vowed you wouldn’t.

May you inherit his sun, say the Armenians.

When your father dies, say the Armenians,

your sun shifts forever.

And you walk in his light.

New York Mysteries. com

Tahseen Ali Ahmad, Kinnan Abdalhamid, and Hisham Awartani are the three Palestinian students who were shot in Vermont. To quote Representative Rashid, “There’s no place safe for a Palestinian.”

I’m printing Hisham Awartani’s dignified and honorable statement to Brown University which is lucky to have him as a student. Because of the shooting Mr. Awartani might never walk again. 

Mr. Awartani said the shooting was emblematic of the broader conflict in a statement after the attack, which was read aloud to students at a vigil at Brown University, where he has been studying.

“I am but one casualty in this much wider conflict,” he said in the statement. “Had I been shot in the West Bank where I grew up, the medical services which saved my life here would likely have been withheld by the Israeli army. The soldier who would have shot me would go home and never be convicted.”

“This is why when you send your wishes and later, candles for me today, your mind should not just be focused on me as an individual, but rather as a proud member of the people being oppressed.”

New York Mysteries

Please go to Representative Betty McCollum’s website to read her letter written with other members of Congress to the President and Secretary of State.

News from Representative Betty McCollum
 November 16, 2023 

Dear Fourth District Constituent, Thank you to everyone who was able to join me for my virtual update from Washington yesterday. If you missed it, you can watch the briefing on YouTube. I cover the latest updates on the status of federal funding and avoiding a government shutdown, and answer questions I have been receiving from constituents related to the Israel-Hamas War.  This week, Republicans tried and failed to pass two more of their extreme federal funding bills for FY 24–the Labor, Health and Human Services, Education bill and the Commerce, Justice, Science bill. Republican leadership pulled them from consideration when they realized they did not have enough of their own votes to pass them. And while I maintain that Speaker Johnson’s “laddered Continuing Resolution” approach is no way to responsibly fund the government for the long-term, I voted to avoid a government shutdown that would harm American families. Now, Speaker Johnson must get serious about a bipartisan path forward to fully fund the government after these short-term bills expire in January and February.  Yesterday, my colleagues Rep. Mark Pocan (WI-02), and Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (NY-14) joined me in sending a letter to the Biden administration asking them to take action to stop the violence to protect the rights of children in Gaza and Israel. With more than 4,500 children killed in just over a month, we ask the Biden administration to push for a regional ceasefire and clarity on the U.S. strategic objectives for achieving a peaceful future. You can read the full letter here, and find all of my recent public statements on the war along with resources and guidance for American citizens in the Middle East here. As always, don’t hesitate to reach out if you need assistance with a federal agency or to voice your policy opinion. Thank you for being an informed and engaged constituent. Sincerely, Image

 Betty McCollum 
Member of Congress

Iceland’s Women On Strike

New York Mysteries. Com

Good News!!! The Guardian reports that many Icelandic women and non-binary people will not work on Tuesday. The goal is to highlight the gender pay gap and the gender based violence. The Icelandic PM, Katrin Jakobsdottir, will participate as well as teachers, nurses, cleaners, caregivers, fishing industry workers.

There’s a 21% wage gap and 40% of women have suffered sexual violence. Ironically, Iceland has been cited as an equality paradise. The strike will include publishing the wages of workers in female-dominant professions and with emphasis on the perpetrators of sexual violence.

Should we American women do this?

New York

Narges Mohammadi, right, from the center for Human Rights Defenders, listens to Karim Lahidji, president of the Iranian league for the Defence of Human Rights, during a press conference on the Assessment of the Human Rights Situation in Iran, at the UN headquarters in Geneva, Switzerland, on June 9, 2008.
Narges Mohammadi, right, from the center for Human Rights Defenders, listens to Karim Lahidji, president of the Iranian league for the Defence of Human Rights, during a press conference on the Assessment of the Human Rights Situation in Iran, at the UN headquarters in Geneva, Switzerland, on June 9, 2008. 

Nargas Mohammadi is serving a thirty year prison sentence. She has been awarded the 2023 Nobel Peace Prize.

New York Mysteries. com

I’m quoting from the GREAT Rashida Tlaib’s recent email:

“We can’t continue the piecemeal, inadequate status quo of government services. Our neighbors are struggling to put food on the table, fighting to keep a roof over their heads, and rationing their medication. Most families are living paycheck to paycheck. 

But the majority of my colleagues in Congress are millionaires. They don’t understand what it feels like not being able to pay rent or make ends meet.

I grew up in a working-class UAW household, and my lived experience teaches me to lead with compassion. I understand how urgently we need bold federal action for economic justice.

I led the fight for the temporarily expanded Child Tax Credit, which lifted millions of children out of poverty in 2021 and cut child poverty in nearly half. But corporate Democrats and Republicans let it expire. So I introduced legislation to cut childhood poverty by 70%—by providing families with a universal benefit of nearly $400 per month per child.

I’m also fighting alongside restaurant workers to end the shameful federal tipped minimum wage of just $2.13 an hour—a starvation wage. I reintroduced the Restaurant Workers Bill of Rights to ensure thriving wages, require paid leave and healthcare coverage, protect workers’ ability to unionize without fear of retaliation, and more.

Last year, I led the fight in Congress to support rail workers preparing for a historic strike. And I ended up being one of the few Democrats who voted against forcing an unfair contract on them. Congress and the President squashed rail workers’ right to strike. We cannot undermine worker power again. 

I’m calling on Democrats to truly be the party of the working class, and to defend the right to strike—which is a powerful tool to fight corporate greed.

Our federal government is supposed to protect everyday people from corporate greed and exploitation. That’s the government I’m building, with your support. 

And adding my two cents: We have a creaking, elderly congress. Who wants to give up his/her position with all those lovely perks??

New York Mysteries. Com

Yesterday, President Biden met with Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu, whose far-right racist regime wants to eliminate Palestinians altogether. 

Thousands of Israelis have been protesting for months against Netanyahu’s recent judicial overhaul as a threat to Israel’s democracy. 

But for millions of Palestinians, Israel has never been a democracy. The Indigenous Palestinian people have been subjected to forced displacement and genocide, and they’re not allowed to become citizens or have basic rights. 

For calling out these human rights abuses, I’ve faced attacks from Republicans and Democrats who want to silence any criticism of Israel. Their denial enables ongoing apartheid. 

But I’m not backing down. So pro-apartheid AIPAC and its affiliated PACs are gearing up to try to defeat me and other members of our Squad as we run for re-election in 2024. 

Funded largely by pro-Trump billionaires, AIPAC hosted Trump at their annual conference and endorsed over 100 far-right Republicans who tried to overturn 2020’s presidential election.  

They’re trying to destroy the progressive wing of the Democratic Party, because we’re building the power needed to end apartheid. 

Last year, AIPAC’s network spent over $1 million to flood my district with misinformation and attack ads in an attempt to mislead voters. But as the only Palestinian-American member of Congress, I will never stop fighting for a world where we can all be free. 

I will keep humanizing Palestinians, educating my colleagues in Congress, and calling to stop sending billions of U.S. taxpayer dollars each year to the Israeli military. Together, we can hold Israel’s government accountable for its ongoing war crimes. Together, we’ll keep building the movement for Palestinian liberation. 

Thank you for being by my side as we fight for the human rights of all people—with no exceptions. 

In solidarity,