A vacation in Europe – and the tragedies in the Middle East.

After a short 2 week break in Europe, I am back in Boston. I was greeted at the airport (no, not by my family or friends!) but by a 35 degree celsius hot and humid weather. I report in celsius because that is what Air France staff told us when the plane landed. Oh, while I am on air France, I must say they were much better than I remembered or expected them to be. They were more courteous and friendly, despite being less organized and efficient than the cheapest european airlines I took on this trip. Damn – I wonder how that society remains a developed state despite its inefficiency.

In the past 2 weeks I touched ground in France, Romania, Greece, Germany, Czech Republic, Switzerland, Austria and Nederlands. I visited more countries and more cities in one trip than I had ever done before. I saw World Cup Football matches with Germans, ate schnitzel and watched beautiful sunsets in Switzerland, ate goatcheese with cuttle-fish in Greece, took a wonderfully personal boat tour of the canals and watched Cirque du Soleil in Amsterdam, and joined the largest gay parade of Europe (Cologne Pride). What I did in Austria is less exciting: watched a team try to retrofit a heavy duty diesel bus with emission control systems to reduce particulate and NOx pollution :-). Well, that and some other meetings (important ones and very succesful ones for GEO2) paid for most of the trip.

Now I am back. I am horrified at what is happening in the Middle East. One of our friends was in Lebanon (Beirut downtown) during the bombings and escaped via Syria and then to Jordan to return to Boston. Her family is still in Beirut and I am sure she struggles to keep in touch with them. Gaza is already a nightmare due to Israeli aggression and I am stunned by the lack of response from the rest of the world. I had planned to visit the beautiful city of Beirut in December for a friend’ wedding but now its just a dream. Even if I do end up going, for what? to watch buildings burnt to the ground by the bombs from Israeli planes? destroyed bridges and empty beaches? In one week Israel managed to destroy what Lebanese had carefully built up in 15 years after their civil war. Incredible…and the world silently watches. Do read on some of the atrocities at: http://angryarab.blogspot.com/. Some of my Israeli friends called or wrote to ask about my friends’ well-being. I truly appreciate that. I know they suffer the same mental chaos at the current happenings as I do. But I urge them to do more to stop their government from this reckless attack on civilians. I have been disappointed at what I am reading in Israeli newspapers about the public response to this bombing campaign and the campaign against Gaza. Violence has never been succesful for Israel and this will be no exception. Innocents continue to die and the radicals only get stronger. The hatred and animosity against the ‘other’ grows more popular and more vociferous. Please do what you can to stop this madness or the venom of hatred will consume all of Middle East (including Israel) for several decades to come.

I have tons of photos to post from my trip, but right now I must retreat to catch up on hundreds of e-mails, bills, and other stuff- not to mention call a few friends with families in Palestine and Lebanon to check up on them. Will post more soon from the trip.

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