I haven’t posted about Syria this week because I’ve been thinking a lot about what to say. In recent weeks I’ve met people who’ve told me that: 1) Assad has to stay because otherwise Syria will end up being controlled by a US-Wahhabi-Zionist alliance, and Christianity will be wiped out in the Middle East – once there is peace, though, then he can removed from power by the UN; 2) that the White Helmets belong to ISIS; 3) that after the first gas attack in Ghouta Israeli gas canisters were found – that is to say, the attack was an IDF false flag, which is why the West never responded to it 4) that we don’t know who is responsible for the attacks, or if gas has even been used. I don’t mention these claims because I want to debate them. I’ve already debated them in person. But as everyone…

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As FB friends know, I’m just back from an incredible two weeks in the Middle East; first in Lebanon, as a member of charity Interpal’s Bear Witness women’s convoy, visiting refugee camps; then the West Bank, where I was exploring the Palestinian eco-resistance to the Israeli occupation. I chose to write about my trip on Facebook partly because I didn’t have time to travel, share on social media *and* blog, but also for security reasons: Israel and Lebanon are not the best of mates, and I was worried about storing my photos of the camps and Beirut on my camera and laptop, which Israeli airport guards have been known to rifle through. Posting my pix each night to Facebook was the answer, and it was only natural to turn my albums into photo diaries, a habit I continued in the West Bank, again because I wanted to delete any evidence…

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Midnight Mass isn’t really my tradition. I was brought up a Quaker, and while my ex-Anglican parents would occasionally take us to a hymn service at Christmas, I much prefered being tucked up in a duvet on the sofa listening to Twas The Night Before Christmas, read to us from a little red book with a sellotaped spine. Christmas was also pink grapefruit with brown sugar for breakfast, a Terry’s chocolate orange, a snowy walk in the Saskatchewan prairies, then home to the traditional feast served on a pink and orange tablecloth. After my parents’ divorce my mother’s staunch commitment to the decadance of the holiday became more apparent: while my budget doesn’t stretch to a shopping trolley full of speciality alcohol, and my own taste in decorations runs to pine-cone hedgehogs and felt robins, I always pick up a box of liqueur-filled chocolates in her memory, and adore tinsel-dripping…

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