Will iconic images recorded in the grooves of an ancient vase unite the Holy Land or rip it further apart?

THE VASE

A novel by Mark M. DeRobertis

Muhsin Muhabi is a Palestinian potter, descended from a long line of potters. His business is run from the same shop owned by his ancestors since the day his forebears moved to Nazareth. The region's conflict saw the death of his oldest son, and rogue terrorists are in the process of recruiting his youngest in their plot to assassinate the Pope and Israeli prime minister.

Professor Hiram Weiss is an art historian at Nazareth’s Bethel University. He is also a Shin Bet operative on special assignment. With the help of fellow agent, Captain Benny Mathias, he plans to destroy the gang responsible for the death of his wife and only child. He puts a bomb in the ancient vase he takes on loan from Muhsin’s Pottery Shop.

Mary Levin, the charming assistant to the director of Shin Bet, has lost a husband and most of her extended family to recurring wars and never-ending terrorism. She dedicates her life to the preservation of Israel, but to whom will she dedicate her heart - the brilliant professor from Bethel University - or the gallant captain who now leads Kidon?

Harvey Holmes, the Sherlock of Haunted Houses, is a Hollywood TV host whose reality show just flopped. When a Lebanese restaurant owner requests his ghost-hunting services, he believes the opportunity will resurrect his career. All he has to do is exorcise the ghosts that are haunting the restaurant. It happens to be located right across the street from Muhsin’s Pottery Shop.



Thursday, June 2, 2016

I Agree with Snoop Dog

There's an article about Snoop Dog's complaint concerning the new Roots TV show that is airing right now on the History Channel. He's pretty much saying that throwing these slave stories in our faces over and over again is not cool. I agree with that. Why do it? Levar Burton, the star of the original show, and the executive producer of the current show says it's a topic that needs discussing. Clearly he has a lot invested in the show, so he's defending it. But I ask why does it need discussing? We got that in our history classes, didn't we? It's not a pleasant thing to see or to discuss. It was a dark time in our history. So yeah, we acknowledge it, because it happened.

But discussing it over and over again and seeing these slave movies over and over again seems to promote the idea that only America had slaves. And only white people had slaves. And only black people were slaves. The fact is that pretty much all countries and all races had slaves at some point in their histories. And every group of people had been subjected to slavery at one time or another. Not just black people. So get it through your head: white people weren't the only ones to have slaves and black people weren't the only ones who were slaves.

Blacks had slaves. (And still do in Africa. Even now in 2016. Hasn't anyone seen Blood Diamond with Leo DiCaprio?) And Arabs had slaves. Arabs were big players in the African slave trade, but you wouldn't know it by what Hollywood shows you. The ancient Romans, Greeks, and Babylonians made slaves out of anyone. Didn't matter what race. The Egyptians made slaves out of the Jews and black Africans. It seems with this focus on the African slave trade, all other slave horrors are forgotten. The recent STARZ show, Spartacus focused on the Roman slave trade. Didn't matter what color you were, the Romans made slaves out of anyone. They were equal opportunity slavers!

So throwing the African slave trade in our faces, like Snoop Dog is saying, is misleading and divisive. Why throw it in our faces over and over again? The first Roots story was a good story, to be sure. It was well made, well acted and it's been done. It doesn't need redoing. Take the 1930s movie King Kong for example. It was a well made movie. But it was made in the days before animation was computer generated. Sure, Willis O'Brien was a great animator, but with the new computer technology, Peter Jackson's King Kong was a welcomed remake.

But that's not the case with Roots. It was well done, and didn't need remaking. But the simple point of it not being necessary as a remake is not Snoop Dog's complaint. He's complaining that we don't need that "sh_t" thrown in our faces over and over again. He included Twelve Years a Slave also. He says why not make movies about the success of black Americans? I think they have. Isn't Empire an example of that? I would think Denzel Washington's Glory is another example. There's plenty more.

This brings me to my upcoming book, John Dunn, Heart of a Zulu. It's the true story of John Dunn, a white man who lived with the black tribes in Africa, particularly the Zulus. The story is about Dunn, but it also celebrates the great independent nation of Zululand and their king Cetshwayo. A large part of that story includes the Anglo-Zulu War. Dunn fought in that war. But he also fought in the Zulu civil war that pitted blacks against blacks. Zulu vs. Zulu. It was a horrible event in which 25,000 black Africans, (Zulus) were killed in one day. But they weren't killed by white men. They were killed by other black Africans, just as white Americans killed other white Americans in the American Civil War.

It was an unfortunate turn of events during that time in that part of the world, but Heart of a Zulu is not about slavery. It is about Africa. South Africa, in particular, and one white man who played an integral role in the history of an independent black nation. The Zulu nation. Watch for John Dunn - Heart of a Zulu, available in bookstores this coming November from Knox Robinson Publishing.


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