Back in January, we reported on a self-styled “peace troubadour” named James Twyman. We’d never heard of him before, but according to his website he’s quite the accomplished chap, having made a bunch of movies, written a bunch of books, issued a bunch of music CDs, and founded something called “The Beloved Community,” a supposed worldwide “network of spiritual peace ministers” whose website reads like a parody of New Age twaddle. (“The Beloved Community has no rivals, because it is non-competitive….The Beloved Community knows no boundaries, for nationalisms are unloving.”)
As noted, we’d never heard of this guitar-toting Oregonian hippie – not until he announced his plans to bring his “message of peace” to ISIS-controlled territory in Syria. He would fly to Europe on January 20, then make his way to Tel Aviv, and from there head for the Syrian border. In Syria, he would share his message and his music in person with the members of ISIS who are busy causing mayhem in parts of that country.
Twyman’s announcement was a stroke of PR genius: he made headlines around the world. We promised at the time that we’d stay tuned and find out what, if anything, happened as a result of his big plans.
Well, we looked into it. Here’s what we’ve been able to find. On February 1, Twyman tweeted as follows: “World Synchronized Meditation on Syrian border HUGE success. Fighting stopped right in front of us. MIRACLE.”
The tweet was accompanied by a picture. Here it is. Make of it what you will. Curiously, this was the only tweet Twyman sent out about this “HUGE success” and “MIRACLE.”
The next day, an item bearing the byline of Eileen Fleming was posted at the website of something calling itself the Arab Daily News. It stated (all caps in the original) that on the previous day “JAMES TWYMAN AND THE ABRAHAMIC REUNION UNITED MILLIONS OF ‘INSTRUMENTS OF PEACE’ WHO MEDITATED WORLD-WIDE WHILE OVER 100 HAD ‘BOOTS ON THE GROUND’ METERS AWAY FROM ISIS, NUSRA FRONT AND HIZBALLAH CONTROLLED TERRITORY ON THE GOLAN HEIGHTS BORDER OF SOUTHERN SYRIA AS THE VISIBLE WITNESS OF THE LARGEST SYNCHRONIZED PEACE VIGIL IN HISTORY.” Enthused though she obviously was about the event, Fleming didn’t mention the “MIRACLE” Twyman referred to, namely the claim that “Fighting stopped right in front of us.”
What’s the Arab Daily News? As the website itself explains, it’s a site that runs items sent in by “freelance writers,” with each item being “the responsibility of the writer.” And who’s Eileen Fleming? Identified elsewhere as the site’s “Senior Non-Arab Correspondent,” she’s an American who, she says, was transformed by 9/11 into “a spiritually driven political peace activist.” A quick look through her archive at the Arab Daily News website suggests that, like Twyman himself, she’s a New Age nutbag and Useful Stooge of the first water. (We’ll get around to her another day.)
Fleming’s was the only online report about Twyman’s big day until February 24, when the website of something called the United Religions Initiative (URI) ran an article headlined “Abrahamic Pulse Global Prayer for Syria.” It stated that on February 1,
the Abrahamic Reunion C[ooperation] C[ircle] joined by peace musician James Twyman, hosted the ‘Great Abrahamic Pulse’, a global prayer for the peace of Syria. 80 people made a multi-faith journey to the Golan Heights, gathering on the Syria border: Israelis from Jerusalem, the Galilee, and the Golan; Palestinians from Bethlehem, Hebron, Nablus, East Jerusalem and Jericho, joined by an international group of spiritual peace seekers.
The article proceed to recount a group lunch at a restaurant “in the Druze village of Mas’adeh,”
followed by a trek southward “to the view point overlooking Quneitra, an abandoned town on the Israel-Syria border” that “is held by the Syrian army,” while “nearby villages are held by rebel groups, including ISIS.” From there, Twyman & co. “drove up to Mount Bental, to hold the Abrahamic Pulse global synchronized meditation event.” There they reportedly saw “a full rainbow around the sun.” Then Twyman and someone named Eliyahu McLean “gathered the diverse crowd into a circle,” and several leaders from various religious backgrounds led prayers.
Like Fleming’s report, the URI piece said nothing in support of Twyman’s assertion that “Fighting stopped right in front of us.”
It’s fair to say, then, that there’s a lot of hype going on here. First of all, Twyman, in his initial sales pitch, strongly implied that he’d be front and center at this event, with everyone else playing supporting roles; in the end, he seems to have been one of several idiots who played equally important roles in this idiocy.
But never mind that. The main thing is that he didn’t hook up with members of ISIS. He doesn’t even appear to have sought to hook up with members of ISIS. He went to the northeastern part of the Golan Heights, which is occupied by Israel. No, of course it isn’t the safest place in the world, but it’s not an active war zone, either. To be sure, it’s not far from a war zone: just over the Syrian border, a civil war is raging, with government troops fighting rebel forces just miles from the spot where Twyman and his buddies held their event. But between them and Twyman was the mighty IDF and the entire Israeli defense cordon.
In any event, ISIS isn’t operating anywhere near this area. Yes, in recent weeks some ISIS-linked groups have been identified as being active on Syrian territory just across the border from the southern Golan Heights. But that’s several dozen kilometers from where Twyman and his friends held their prayer circle. If there was, indeed, fighting underway near Twyman’s event, and he somehow made it stop, we’d be delighted to see the details. His failure to provide any seems, shall we say, conclusive.