No one could ask for better grandparents than mine: “Gal & Big Daddy” and “Granny & Grandaddy”. As long as they lived, they were the ties of love that bound two families together. And once they were gone, both families fractured and segmented – never again to gather ’round the same Christmas tree, or share another family reunion feast.
The greatest gifts my grandparents gave me were not material, but the material gifts they gave me were precious. One of those was “Gal’s Pillows”, which you can see hanging on my clothesline in the accompanying photo. She made those pillows from scraps and sewed every stitch by hand. She gave them to me when I was in my twenties, which means they’re at least 30 years old now. The stuffing’s lumpy and the covering’s worn thin, but they’re still with me: I sleep with one stuffed in each of my pillow cases every night, and hang them on the clothesline to let my slumber’s drool dry out every day.
I’m a grandparent myself now, and my hope is that someday, somehow I’ll manage to give my own grandchildren a gift as lasting as my grandparents’ love – and Gal’s Pillows.
The McClatchy news service scoop that Labib al-Nahhas, the Syrian foreign affairs director of al-Qaeda’s ally Ahrar ash-Sham, visited Washington, DC in December 2015 should have created a huge political stir in a presidential election year.
However, the fact that the Obama administration has been consorting with terrorist allies of al-Qaeda and the Islamic State in Syria, Iraq, Yemen, Libya, and other countries has received little to no coverage in the American media. More astoundingly, Ahrar ash-Sham, which, along with the al-Nusra Front massacred 19 Alawite Muslims in the Syrian village of Zara in May, is not designated a terrorist group by the US State Department.
The simple fact is that from CIA director John Brennan to national security adviser Susan Rice and US Central Command chief General Joseph Votel to Senate Armed Services Committee chairman Senator John McCain, the Obama administration and the Republicans who control Congress have consorted with Islamist terrorists. These groups have included those who have executed Americans and who help finance and plan terrorist attacks against civilians around the world. The visit of al-Nahhas to Washington follows a long tradition of the US government consorting with Sunni Mujahideen (called the “muj” by their CIA overseers), jihadists, and Salafists starting with the support for Muslim insurgents in Afghanistan and continuing with the provision of military training and weapons to Sunni Arab guerrillas in Iraq.
U.S. Army General Joseph Votel, who paid a May visit to northern Syria, is not the first US official who entered Syria for a “get acquainted with” session with US-armed jihadist rebels, which was disguised as a “fact-finding mission”. In May 2013, Senator McCain entered northern Syria and met with a man who strongly resembles Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi. The more McCain’s staff and his neo-conservative apologists tried to claim the man was not al-Baghdadi but an unidentified commander of the Northern Storm Brigade, a group linked to the practically non-existent Free Syrian Army, the more McCain’s and the neocons’ lies became apparent. Reports from Damascus, Baghdad, Tehran, and Hezbollah’s media outlets in Beirut all confirmed that the CIA, along with the Israel Defense Force, were actively providing weapons, training, and logistics support to ISIL and allies units in Syria and western Iraq.