ARLINGTON, Mass. — Author and activist Muriel Mirak-Weissbach will present her book, Through the Wall of Fire: Armenia, Iraq, Palestine, from Wrath to Reconciliation, on Wednesday, December 1, at 7:30 p.m., at the Robbins Public Library Community Room, 700 Mass. Ave.
The event is free and open to the public.
The author, daughter of Armenian immigrant parents who grew up in the Winchester-Arlington area, has been active as a political journalist for the last 20 years in the Arab and Islamic world.
In the 1990s, she led a humanitarian aid effort for young Iraqi victims of Desert Storm and monitored developments in Arab-Israeli relations.
Her book tackles the question: can peoples and nations who have been pitted against each other in geopolitically-manipulated conflict ever reach true reconciliation and peace? Taking the examples of the 1915 Armenian Genocide, the ethnic cleansing of the Palestinians beginning in 1948 and two Anglo-American wars against Iraq, she presents the tragic events through the eyes of those who were children at the time, to communicate the emotional and psychological impact on them and their progeny.
An episode in the Divine Comedy of Dante Alighieri serves as a metaphor for the challenge posed to those caught up in such deadly conflict: it is the Wall of Fire, which the pilgrim Dante must go through to enter Paradise. Passing through the poetical flames, he purges himself of prior emotional states encountered in the Inferno, and discovers the attributes of a moral, universal human being; having gone through this emotional purification, he joins with other political figures to erect a society founded on justice. Translated into contemporary political realities, traversing the Wall of Fire requires abandoning the hatred, prejudice and ignorance bred by conflict. It means facing the truth about the past, acknowledging the historical record in all its brutality and identifying those political forces ultimately responsible. Only then is it possible to “forgive and forget” in the spirit of the Westphalian Peace, to define an utterly new relationship between former adversaries, based on common commitment to enhance the progress of the Other.
Considering bold new initiatives recently launched by protagonists in the three crisis areas, the author sketches out an optimistic vision for the future.