As the U.S. teeters on the brink of war with Iran, Truthdig columnist Chris Hedges recounts his tutelage under Palestinian professor Omar Othman in Jerusalem, along with his capture by the Iraqi Republican Guard in Basra in 1991. “I was studiously polite because of Omar with my interrogators,” he says. “I swiftly struck up conversations with my guards. My facility in Arabic rendered me human.”

Later, Hedges recalls his imprisonment by Iraqi secret police, the Mukhabarat, and the kindness that was shown to him by an Iraqi family before he was turned over to the International Committee for the Red Cross. “Where are they now these men and women, who showed me such compassion, who ignored the role my own country had played in their oppression, to see me as one of them?” he asks. “How can I repay this solidarity and empathy? How can I live to be like them?”

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