REVIEWS OF: “LOVE and TERROR in the MIDDLE EAST, 4th Edition”
|VOL. 21 – NO. 39
OCT 9 – 16, 2016
|PO BOX 13283
OAKLAND, CA 94661-0283
BOOK REVIEW: “Love and Terror In The Middle East”
by Frank Romano
Oct 14, 2016
In the face of the murders of his activist friends in Israel and Palestine, and the Paris and Nice massacres in his home country, France, author Frank Romano, PhD remains in the fight for a durable peace in the Middle East as he provides a profound insight into the relations of Jews, Muslims, & Christians in the Middle East in his latest book “Love and Terror In The Middle East” (AB Film Publishing). This Fourth Edition is a magnificent book on the current events and the road to peace. Romano has spent a decade organizing grass roots efforts to make changes for the greater good in the Middle East, but he doesn’t merely talk about the possibility of sustainable peace in the Middle East; he champions programs through interfaith unification and has seen first-hand the results of these efforts.
Even though he has found himself in dangerous situations, he has spent decades of his life working towards peace in the Middle East. His story began decades ago with a move from California to France to study philosophy. He later ventured to Morocco on his way to the Middle East, where he was to participate in the interfaith peace movement. In his quest for the universal religion, which at first he thought might be Islam (meaning “peace”), he soon realized that the Islamic cult he met had little to do with peace and more to do with radicalism. After daring to ask questions relating to Islam and women, he was wrongly accused by Muslim extremists of being a Zionist spy and was imprisoned. This ultimately led to a spiritual awakening and, eventually, to his escape.
Dr. Romano just returned to Paris from a month in the Middle East, during which time he organized interfaith groups and peace demonstrations. He also endeavors to be a part of what is certain to be more involvement by the American public relating to Middle East issues. His hope is to create a positive impact on American thinking which seems to be more open to interfaith peace activities.
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Dr. Frank Romano is a lawyer (in France and the US), author, speaker, and professor of law, literature, history and philosophy of law at the University of Paris, France, and continues to be an advocate for peace in the Middle East.
Joint Forces Journal
October 9-16, 2016
REVIEW OF: “Love and Terror in the Middle East,” 4th Edition”
Man with a mission
By Ira M. Edwards of Medford, Oregon, USA on December 17, 2014
Frank Romano is a remarkable man, able to fit in with numerous cultures, loving and learning. I first met him as a homeless lad who had some meals with my family. Many years later, I met him at a book signing, a lawyer, author of two books, and professor at the University of Paris.
I read his books for two reasons. One, because Frank wrote them. I found them worthy and informative. Two, I look for various sources and viewpoints to understand Islamic thinking. Frank’s remarkable attempt at understanding and peacemaking between Jews, Muslims and Christians show me the thinking of one who desperately wants to see the good side of Islam, even after seeing some of the worst.
First, still an adventurous and impulsive young man, he travelled to Morocco, intending to learn (though knowing little) about Islam there, and then to work his way across North Africa to Israel, and back to Paris. His mission was to find a universal God who reigns over all religions. With many hours of meditation and solitude, he had somewhat of the religious experience he sought. However, the solitude was enforced, as he was a prisoner in a mosque. His trip was a disaster, and he barely escaped with his life, back to Paris. As an adventure book, his STORM OVER MOROCCO is tops.
Now, I see him as a profile in courage, a man possessed with a mission, and willing to risk anything to gain a little. Though highly intelligent, emotions governed his decisions, allowing him to accomplish what a rational man could not. This emotion-driven life involved troubled loves and marriages, which added many pages to the book, but necessary to the story.
What Frank accomplished with peace demonstrations in the West Bank, demanding Israeli withdrawal from “occupied territories” leaves me with questions. He did unite some Jews, Christians and Muslims who genuinely wanted peace and justice. He also may have been used by Palestinians who only wanted to push Israel out but would not be satisfied with anything less than destruction of Israel. He favored the Palestinian position, seeming not to understand Israel’s need for defense, again an emotional, not rational sentiment. He never answered the question, “What would happen if Israel withdrew?” Continued conflict, with Israel in a worse defensive position? He lost friendship with his Jewish friends because of this.
Read it, but you won’t find the end of the story. I wish the best for Frank’s continued mission, and for peace and justice in the Mid-East, for Israel as well as for the Palestinians, which in my understanding depends on Palestinian acceptance of Israel, which unfortunately is contrary to their religion.
Review of “Love and Terror in the Middle East,” 3rd Edition
“Romano has faced enormous hostility while traveling between Israel and the West Bank to lead interfaith activities which he chronicles in his book, his mission to ease tensions and bring understanding and cooperation among Jews, Christians, Moslems and non-believers.”
Arlene Mukoko, Bronxnet, Cable
Television, April 24, 2012.
Review of “Love and Terror in the Middle East,” 3rd Edition
I finally got the chance to read Frank Romano Frank Romano extraordinary book, “Love and Terror in the Middle East.” This book provides a profound insight into the relations of Jews, Muslims, & Christians in the Middle East. I was at Jenin Refugee Camp over 2 decades ago as a peace activist to provide aid and support for the young Palestinian children. My friends and I faced many challenges from the Israeli government…. I studied Christian & Muslim Relations at the University of Cambridge. As I reflected back on my studies while reading the book, I thought, “What are we fighting for?” A magnificent book on the current events and the road to peace in the Middle East.
Rosa Syed 26 February 2014
Stanford University School of Medicine.
Studied Christian and Muslim Relations at Cambridge University
Review of “Love and Terror in the Middle East,” 3rd Edition
“One of the most interesting authors to have addressed the controversy
stemming from and surrounding the Middle East.”
Angeo Mar, host of Artist
Extreme show, MNN Time Warner Television, Ch. 56, December 2011.
Review of “Love and Terror in the Middle East,” 3rd Edition
“…there is much more to this story than meets the eye. Love, Terror, Murder,
Peace, finding yourself. This book has it all.”
Charlie Stanton, host of Get Behind
Me, Now Stay There show, January 23, 2012.
Review of “Love and Terror in the Middle East,”3rd Edition
Frank Romano’s memoir Love and Terror in the Middle East chronicles his quest for spiritual meaning and his work in the interfaith peace movement.
The Introduction begins with the statement: “This book recounts the fulfillment of a 30-year-old vision that I would someday work for peace in the Middle East.” He observed:
My search led me to the most contested areas in the West Bank, such as the Jenin Refugee Camp and the Old City in Hebron, to especially work with extremists. My life became quickly tangled with the people there, some still living in the shadow of the Intifada, others motivated by hate, fear and illusions.
The book begins with remembrances of his earlier life and relationships. After passing the California Bar and opening his own law firm in downtown San Francisco, he wanted to extend his practice to the international sphere and was accepted for a graduate fellowship in an international law masters program at the University of Paris in France. The year was 1993. He eventually became a professor at the University of Paris and worked on international law cases. When his wife left Paris with their children, the upheaval left him to explore new relationships yet his search for love would be ultimately fulfilled through his metaphysical understanding.
He wrote about his decision to prepare to take the French bar exam so that he eventually could become a French lawyer:
. . . I wanted to get out of the corporate world and get back to my working class roots: to litigate, to wrap myself in the lives of victims and go to court on their behalf, as I’d done in the US before coming to this place.
It had been a long-time goal as I needed to get back into the gritty trenches of life and ease out of the ivory tower of my safe professorship. I was also desperate to get away from the carrot-on-a-stick greed of the world in corporate law firms (where I was employed as a law clerk previous to the professor position), or shifty corporate types skulking around in a superficial business world, oblivious to the world’s suffering and sometimes the heartless cause of it.
Twenty seven years after the events chronicled in his book Storm Over Morocco, he decided to again pursue the goal of participating in the interfaith peace movement in the Middle East. In 2005 his life was unsettled anew as he left behind a job as a civil law litigator for a Marseille law firm and traveled to the ‘Holy Land.’ Upon arriving at the airport in Tel Aviv, he boarded a train and what he saw would not be forgotten.
For the first time, I saw youngsters, men and adolescents alike in khaki uniforms, carrying rifles on shoulder straps. I had to remind myself that Israel was constantly in a state of alert.
Romano described his encounters with people involved with the interfaith movement and articulated his perspective.
I shared with them my views on Islam which I considered a loving, peaceful religion, and that the extremists distorted the true meaning of it. I continued by focusing on my faith, which was to pray and study, as well as live according to the common denominators among religions. I sought to be unattached to a specific church and/or the rituals of one religion and not confuse them with truth, the light. I then, remembering the teachings of Ramakrishna, shared the idea that one should not confuse the physical church and rituals with the truth, that they were just vehicles and paths to the true light; and, most importantly, there were different paths leading to it.
In Ramallah, Romano was led to a hotel where he attended a meeting celebrating the recent liberation of long-term prisoners of the Israeli government. When he went to sleep in his hotel room that night, he was aware he was surrounded by men who were considered militant extremists.
And then a voice echoed from somewhere, “Beware, beware, fool . . .” so loud it woke me up. I sat up rigidly with my back flat against the wall and tried to focus, but everything seemed to fade into fuzziness, maybe subconsciously to soften the reality of this destitute place.
A man he met at the meeting, Abdullah—a prisoner of the Israelis for 28 years—would be instrumental to Romano meeting a variety of other people interested in peace. Abdullah provided him with a list of names and phone numbers of people in several West Bank cities.
In Galilee, he visited the Hukuk Kibbutz, where he became involved with the group’s interfaith events. Romano wrote about his participation in an event where he decided to lead a group meditation instead of following the course of recent meetings where it had been “almost a tradition to have a medium channel at each interfaith event.”
Usually during our meetings, we gathered around a lady who put herself in a semi-trance and became the medium through which the spirit of God communicated with us. They called it channeling. I remember the first time it happened about a year ago: I looked over at the Muslims who showed disapproval, as they believe no one can be the mediator between Allah and his servants. However, they explained to me, not wanting to obstruct the peaceful interfaith meeting, they begrudgingly bowed their heads and listened to the woman channel.
The event also featured speakers discussing similarities and differences among religions.
Some of the common denominators mentioned by the speakers were the belief in one God, the obligation to help the poor, the interdiction of killing and treating neighbors as thyself, with respect and dignity.
Romano reported that he later began being viewed as a radical by the group and was no longer invited to be involved with Kibbutz events. Difficulties arose when he included in his flyers the statement “The occupation of the West Bank must end as a precursor to peaceful coexistence.” Also criticized were his constant visits to the West Bank.
Romano was in Israel during one military conflict and commented, “Watching the constant rain of bombs over Northern Israel and the retaliatory bombing and destruction in Southern Lebanon, I had reached the real gates of hell . . .” He reflected:
War, so terrible, so unnecessary, so cruel; it was often just a blowing off of steam or like retaliatory actions countered by more retaliatory actions. The end result was often the many innocent victims paying for the short-sighted and ruthless excesses of others, only to be shoved to the side in importance, losers in the struggle for power.
Conflicting information among Israeli and Al Jazeera telecasts led Romano to wonder, “Were they all spinning the reality to suit their propaganda goals?”
Omar Al Sahaf—”a high civil servant employed by the Palestinian government”—befriended Romano by advising him that if he ever had a problem with the Palestinian police during a peace march, to have them call Al Sahaf and he would vouch for him, thus several major difficulties were avoided.
Being prepared to bring peace to the land was my interest, my cross and my passion. I would learn to love and hate going into the West Bank: I loved it because I felt that I was making my small contribution to a peace movement which would eventually give rise to a durable peace in the area; I hated it because each time I headed there, I had to go through a maze of checkpoints, walls, and I could never anticipate what would happen during the dialogue/marches. I would sometimes be stopped, detained, arrested or harassed by the Palestinian Authority Police or by Israeli soldiers, depending on the jurisdiction. I guess nothing is worthwhile without a struggle because at the end of the day, I was able to organize and participate in interfaith peace dialogues and marches there, mobilizing the people and bringing hope to some who had lost it—Jews, Muslims and Christians alike.
I’m very much opposed to suicide attacks and my non-violent peace work would not allow me to be in any way linked to anyone even indirectly involved with them.
. . . I realized that I would always have God and the prophets with me. I wasn’t alone, after all!
Here is the message translated into Arabic during the dialogue/marches.
INTERFAITH PEACE MARCH
You are welcome to participate in The Interfaith Peace March on [Date].
The group will set out at [Time and Address of event].
The people in the Holy Land, Muslims, Jews and Christians alike, are enshrouded by deep suffering, terrible restrictions on freedoms, limitation of circulation, restricted access, unfair confiscation of land, etc. Whenever that happens in the World, we all suffer because I truly believe, my friends, we are all connected.
When they are free (of suffering, etc.), only then can we be free! It’s time we all do something about it, in an effective, non-violent way.
Let this march be a precursor to freedom through love and understanding by bringing all people together, as brothers and sisters and as children of the creator, showing the world that all people want peace in Israel and Palestine.
—Dr. Frank Romano
Romano realized, “. . . if I didn’t answer the call to do something about the humanitarian disaster in the West Bank to bring people together, to at least help raise peoples’ consciousness about the situation and at the same time find a solution for a durable peace, WHO WOULD?”
He responded to the point of view that anyone working for peace to the Middle East must have a Messiah complex or a death wish: “. . . helping to bring peace to the Middle East was a true vision I held deep within.”
An epilogue to the third edition of the book concludes with Romano recounting a dream.
That night, I dreamed I was walking on the sand in a place shrouded in mist. It was so quiet, I could hear the crunch of each footstep as it settled into the sand. Each foot lifted, raining down grains of sand. The mist became heavier so that I could only see a few feet in front of me. Then it suddenly lifted and the vastness of infinite sands spread in all directions.
Nothing was visible on the farthest horizon, except a tiny, greyish dot off to the right. I walked toward it and as I approached, the dot looked more like a Djellabah crowned by a pointed hood. Closing in, I noticed the black and white striped patterns on the enormous back of someone sitting in the sand with his legs crossed. I swung to the front and saw the face within the hood . . . it was Juliano [peace activist Juliano Mer-Khamis was murdered in Jenin]. His dark eyelashes were closed and hovered over a glimpse of his full lips. Ever so subtly, their corners stretched upwards into a faint smile creasing the edges of his smooth, olive skin . . .
Reading Frank Romano’s memoirs, I was reminded that paths of spiritual discovery involve the intellect in relation to one’s dedicated research and contemplation. As in Frank’s case, there may also be visionary experiences, instances of transcendental communication, and noticeable occurrences of what is sometimes called ‘synchronicity’ (or opportune co-incidences). I also found myself acknowledging once again that the true ‘holy’ land in the transitory world we call Earth is not limited to any geographical area but is the condition where one recognizes that all people are members of the same vast family.
By Mark Russell Bell Jan. 9, 2014