The General’s Son: Middle East Turmoil Explained

I just finished reading The General’s Son by Israeli peace activist, Miko Peled. It is a gripping memoir of his life growing up as the son of famous Israeli General Mitto Peled who was instrumental in the decisive Israeli victory in the 1967 War which led to Israel’s ongoing occupation of the West Bank. After his retirement from the army, General Peled earned his PHD in modern Arabic literature at UCLA and became an activist for peace and reconciliation.

Although I personally do not agree with a One State Solution as the author suggests, I respect his opinion and his ongoing campaign to bring about peace and prosperity for everyone on both sides in this troubled but very important part of the world.

For anyone interested in following Miko’s work, I suggest they look him up on Facebook and follow the links and interviews with Miko and with Rabbi Steve Leder on PBS.org with Travis Smiley. Here you will see two differing but well thought out positions on this grave Middle East situation that will inevitably boil over again unless things change.

Indigo Park Royal Book Signing: Teeth, Lies & Consequences

I will be hosting a book signing event at the Indigo Bookstore at South Park Royal Shopping Center on Sunday June 4 from noon-3:00 pm to introduce my latest novel, Teeth, Lies & Consequences.

A free signed copy of my first novel Blue Saltwater will be given to each individual who provides a purchase receipt for Teeth, Lies & Consequences from the store as well as their email address which will help us provide ongoing information about future writing projects.

We’re expecting a lively crowd and hope to engage a discussion on the current buzz issue of Cultural Appropriation as it applies to Fiction Writers. 

 

 

Cultural Appropriation: From Two Sides Now

The feature article in today’s front page of The Globe and Mail newspaper is entitled The Debate is Over. In it, the indigenous editor and writer, Kateri Akiwenzie-Damm makes the case that non-aboriginal authors should cease writing stories about aboriginal subject matters, fiction or otherwise since it is viewed as outright theft of Native Stories.

https://www.theglobeandmail.com/opinion/the-cultural-appropriation-debate-is-over-its-time-for-action/article35072670/

The author takes the position that by expressing aboriginal themes in their work, non-aboriginal artists are suggesting that aboriginals are not capable of telling their own stories with the skill, beauty and depth that white middle class writers could, or that, the aboriginal version would be too biased. I would beg to disagree.

A non-aboriginal like myself taking on a story like Blue Saltwater was in no way meant to denigrate the artistic work of aboriginal writers but was only hoped to be regarded as another attempt to reveal the complex experiences of both Native and non-Native persons in the building of a democratic, multiethnic, inclusive and tolerant Canada.

This author’s position smacks of censorship of the worst kind and can be seen to restrict the artistic imagination of all authors, songwriters, playwrights and screenwriters. By allowing aboriginal or other ethnic subject matters to be under the exclusive ownership and control of those connected by birth, will inevitably lead to co-option by powerful elites within the communities who will become the final arbiters of what can and cannot be expressed by their own artistic community. Thus a sanctioned form of censorship will become entrenched.

I also think that this attitude serves to perpetuate rather than diminish the solitude that still exists between our aboriginal communities and the broader mainstream multiethnic Canadian community.

There should be no limits on free speech unless it borders upon hate or outright discrimination. Each work of art regardless of the ethnicity of the author should be allowed to stand on its own, to be judged or critiqued by public input that is unfettered by any form of racial or ethnic coercion.

For an opposing view to the link above see: https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2016/sep/13/lionel-shrivers-full-speech-i-hope-the-concept-of-cultural-appropriation-is-a-passing-fad

Real Life Inspiration for Scenes in Teeth, Lies & Consequences

Dr. Ken Stones and his volunteers with the Semiahmoo Dental Outreach were inspirational in the writing of this novel. In Section II, Frankie Mendelssohn makes a life-changing choice when he recognizes that his destiny has always been to assist disadvantaged children like so many in the orphanages of Gaza and the Occupied West Bank. The following is taken from a feature article recently published in the University of Manitoba, College of Dentistry Bulletin. http://umanitoba.ca/faculties/health_sciences/dentistry/media/Bulletin_Winter2017-Web.pdf

 

In 1994, a University of Manitoba-trained dentist found himself travelling down a remote tributary in the Amazon River basin. As the lone dentist with a volunteer group, Ken Stones [DMD/69], then in his 40s, had been asked to give two Brazilians a crash course in extractions. “There were no roads,” recalls Stones, now 70 and retired in British Columbia. “I lived with them on their boats and we visited villages. I gave them dental lessons for three weeks. “I got so much more out of it than I put in. It was the most incredible holiday I’d ever had. It really was life-changing. It gave me a focus of wanting to do more of that kind of work.” Stones, who was born in Montreal and moved to Winnipeg as a teenager, had long felt a drive to explore the world. “Ken was always an adventuresome type,” recalls his U of M classmate Dan Green [DMD/69]. When most members of the Class of 1969 were establishing practices in Western Canada, Stones went to live and teach in New Zealand. He eventually settled into practice in White Rock, B.C. After that first Brazilian adventure, he took every opportunity to participate in humanitarian dentistry. He donated his services to alleviate suffering in countries such as Guatemala, China, Fiji and Morocco. His parents, he says, had done charitable work and instilled in him the value of volunteering. In 2009, Stones founded a charity, Semiahmoo Dental Outreach (christened after the First Nations name for the peninsula where White Rock is located). He started to plan trips and partner with overseas organizations. Retired since 2014, he now leads two foreign clinics per year, each requiring a volunteer team of at least 20 dentists, dental hygienists, dental assistants and non-dental helpers. Semiahmoo Dental Outreach focuses on treating children who lack access to basic oral care. Teams have travelled to the Philippines, Vietnam, Cambodia and Peru, typically treating 400 to 700 children per trip. Team members pay for their own airfare, accommodation and food. Some use two weeks of their holidays from work to take part. Many describe it as one of the most humbling and fulfilling experiences of their lives. “The camaraderie of the team and the communion with the community are very special,” says Stones, who has reached a personal total of about 25 trips in 23 years. The working conditions are often challenging, but the satisfaction is enormous. “These little kids get out of the chair and hug you and thank you,” he says. “Seeing that joy and knowing that you’re helping people is an incredible reward. It’s pretty magical.” In the developing world, Stones says, the availability of cheap, sugar-laden food, drinks and candy has caused a staggering increase in painful decay and infection, often within one generation. People die from dental infections at a rate that would shock most Canadians. “It’s heartbreaking,” Stones says. “Prevention is far more important, long-term, than what we can achieve by treatment.” Semiahmoo Dental Outreach has made some headway. In the Philippines, Stones and his teams have held an annual clinic on the island of Siquijor, with a population of about 100,000, for the past seven years. When the team first arrived, the island’s schools had canteens stocked only with high-sugar snacks. “It was not uncommon for 20 per cent of kids to be absent in any one month from toothache,” Stones says. Then one school principal, inspired by preventative presentations by the outreach team, declared her school a “candy-free zone” and brought in healthy snacks. The number of decay free students rose from virtually zero to more than 60 per cent in just three years. Now all the schools on the island have banished junk food and candy. Stones is currently working as a consultant on a planned program in Tanzania. It will train community health workers to deliver preventive oral health education at a grassroots level. Although he says he’ll eventually leave the hands-on dentistry to others on his overseas trips, he has no plans to stay home. “I’m still dreaming big,” he says. “I’m excited about the prevention thing.”

Ken Stones’ outreach work has inspired creativity – and generosity – in a fellow member of the Class of 1969. Dan Green [DMD/69] had a long career as a dentist in West Vancouver, while Stones practised in White Rock, B.C. The former classmates kept loosely in touch. Eight years ago, when Stones organized his charity’s first outreach trip to Vietnam, Green and his wife, Maureen, volunteered as members of the team. In Vietnam, Green was particularly struck by how stoically the children endured dental work. “The courage they showed was very impressive,” he remembers. The experience was a profound one for the Saskatchewan-bred Green, who had retired in 2003, studied creative writing and pursued a passion for crafting fiction. Now Green has independently published his second novel, a fast-paced historical thriller called Teeth, Lies & Consequences in which the main character and his son are dentists. The novel is set during and after the Second World War, in locales ranging from Germany to Palestine to California. Green based scenes of humanitarian dentistry at a Middle Eastern orphanage on his Vietnam experience. “Everything I wrote about the orphanage was inspired by the school clinic I worked at in Vietnam,” says Green, 72. “The setting is in Gaza, but the innocence of children in war-torn countries is the same.” The author describes Teeth, Lies & Consequences as “the story of a dentist who makes a vow never to reveal a secret, but goes back on his word to save the life of his son.” Green dedicated the book to the U of M Dental Class of 1969, and to “all the dedicated and caring dentists, hygienists, assistants and reception coordinators” he has known throughout his career. Members of the Class of 1969, he says, will recognize character names as nods to real people. The thriller is available from Amazon Indigo and other online booksellers, in paperback or as an e-book. Green is donating 25 per cent of every sale to Stones’ Semiahmoo Dental Outreach. “I’d like to raise as much money as I can for Ken’s foundation,” Green says. One of the novel’s themes is the importance of integrity and empathy in dentistry. “Those values go back to the education we received at the U of M,” the author says. “Our instructors instilled in us that dentistry is about helping others, and that every patient, no matter what their background or circumstance, deserves compassion and care.” What does Stones think of Green’s support for his humanitarian efforts? “I’m thrilled,” Stones says. “He’s quite a wonderful guy.”

WHO ARE WE TO BELIEVE?

In this day of almost infinite access to information, opinion and opposing points of view, it is often becoming difficult to be certain as to who is telling the truth or spreading information about which they are mistaken.

A case in point is Conrad Black’s column in the Dec 17 issue of the National Post. http://news.nationalpost.com/author/cblacknp?__lsa=68ec-bd77.

In it he asserts that a possible one centigrade degree rise in the world’s temperature in 80 years is not enough to justify environmentally friendly low emission cars, solar paneled roofs, forests of windmills, etc. Certainly if this is the case and a one degree rise has been proven to be insignificant, then who could argue with him.

But on the other hand, I recently saw an item on television purporting to show the dramatic decrease in sea ice around the North Pole which is jeopardizing the polar bears’ effort to find food and may lead to their extinction. Would a one degree centigrade temperature rise cause such a magnitude of melting or not? Both items purport to be telling the truth but one must be wrong, because they are inconsistent.

Neither of these mainstream media assertions contained links to the scientific studies that must surely back up their competing claims. This is happening more and more and so the Cynic in me and many others is asking; Who the hell are we to believe?

Our Canadian Pipeline debate is another example with environmentalists adamant that their view is sacrosanct and that they have the “social licence” to stop all progress no matter the cost, since it is their sacred duty to save mother earth and their actions are above the law. No one wants spills or dangerous overheating of the atmosphere but demanding a complete ban on fossil fuel use is irresponsible nonsense driven by a lack of trust that is being fueled by the glut of misinformation and half-truths bombarding us. 

The public needs to be more demanding that all media back up their claims in order to contain this emotional backwash of suspicion and denial that serves no useful purpose, prevents us from making rational decisions and is causing dangerous rifts in our society.

 

New Bookstore and Online Listings

I am pleased to announce that my distributor Red Tuque Books has listed Teeth, Lies & Consequences on it’s website as well as that of Book Manager, Amazon.ca and the Indigo database. The book is also available on Goodreads and the Barnes and Noble websites.

Dental Society Midwinter Meeting a Success

The Vancouver and District Dental Society held their annual midwinter meeting at the Hotel Vancouver on Dec 2. Several local dentists spoke on their areas of expertise while on the commercial exhibit floor, live televised dental implant procedures were presented. I had the opportunity to spend time at the Life Members Booth where I sold copies of Teeth, Lies and Consequences with 25% of the proceeds going towards the Semiahmoo Dental Outreach Society.

I was very gratified with the generous response and plan to repeat this effort at the much larger Pacific Dental Conference  being held at the Vancouver Convention Centre – March 9-11, 2017. Thanks to everyone for their generous support.

BCBOOKLOOK.COM:

I am grateful to announce that I have been profiled on bcbooklook.com, an online news service that provides electronic access to the B.C. BookWorld newspaper. This paper is published four times per year and is the hub of the publishing industry in British Columbia.

The goal of BCBookLook  is to serve the B.C. publishing industry by  providing as much useful information as possible, about as many B.C. books and authors as possible, to as many people as possible, on a daily basis, via the internet. Together with the ABCBookWorld reference service, which serves and promotes B.C authors, the two sites attract more than 4000 visitors per day.

Dentists and world mayhem

December 02nd, 2016

Dan Green

After a career practicing dentistry in West Vancouver, Hamilton-born Dan Green studied creative writing at UBC. He has two published books to his credit, the latest title being Teeth, Lies & Consequences (Red Tuque $19.95). The story begins in the mayhem and horrors during World War II and its aftermath. Friedrich Mueller, a well-off dentist living in Germany, is caught concealing his Jewish ancestry and must swear a secret oath to escape the gas chambers of Auschwitz. He flees to Palestine with his wife where they open a dental practice in the Jerusalem’s Old City. They practice equality and tolerance and in the process adopt Frankie, an Arab boy, only to be caught up in the sectarian violence that swept through the Middle East in 1948. The family escapes to California where Frankie grows up and follows in Friedrich’s footsteps by becoming a dentist. Initially successful serving famous Hollywood people, his life spins out of control and he travels back to Gaza to re-connect with his Arabic heritage. Things don’t go well for Frankie and he is arrested as a terrorist and murderer. Friedrich rushes to his son’s rescue only to find that, in order to save his son’t life, he must divulge the secret oath he took back in the 1940s. Dan Green continues to live in West Vancouver. He is a member of the Canadian Authors Association, The Federation of BC Writers, and the Palm Springs Writers Guild. 9781537529677

Dental Society Fundraiser

My daughter and cover designer along with myself will be attending the Vancouver and District Dental Society Midwinter Convention at the Hotel Vancouver on December 2. We will be introducing the novel, “Teeth, Lies & Consequences” to dentists and their staff from the lower mainland and other parts of the province. This will be our first big push to raise money and enlist volunteers for the Semiahmoo Dental Outreach Society. $5.00 from the sale of each book will going towards the tremendous humanitarian work being done by Doctor Ken Stones and his merry band of volunteers who are presently taking care of children in the Philippines.

Five Star Amazon Reviews of Teeth, Lies & Consequences

I’m gratified by the first two five star reviews on Amazon.com and that both readers found the depth of emotion and meaning that I tried to express about religious strife and unconditional love. I’ll be looking forward to more feedback in the coming weeks.