He lives and works in Beirut, Lebanon where he said Christians are free to share their faith openly. That’s because it’s a pluralistic city with no religious majority.
Hezbollah is the dominant terror group in Lebanon, but he said dealing with that group is straight forward. It’s a command-and-control organization so when they have issues, they go directly to the leadership and get the problem taken care of. He said that’s very different that Hamas, Isis or Al Qaeda that are much more cell-based without a strong leadership structure.
In the West, because most of the media coverage comes through the prism of Israel that has been attacked by both groups, we equate the terrorist groups, he noted. Living on the ground in Beirut, he’s found they can work with Hezbollah.
He also observed that currently one-third of the country’s population is immigrants, mostly from Syria. The government will not allow any structures that could be remotely considered permanent to be put up in refugee camps. Leaders want the Syrians to return to their country from when it is safe, not remain in Lebanon.
That policy is wise considering what I learned from Jessica Binzoni, who grew up in Pleasanton and now is working with refugees in Northern Iraq. When we talked this summer, she pointed out that the average stay in a refugee camp is more than 20 years—in other words, a generation.
Fans of Strizzi’s restaurants in Pleasanton, Livermore and Fremont should connect with the restaurants on social media.
The Pleasanton location, founded in Ray Bartolomucci, Jr’s hometown in 1989, is celebrating its 30th anniversary with a variety of specials this month. They rotate by the week so following them on Facebook is helpful. There are $30 for two dinner specials as well as $30 dinner specials from a special 30th anniversary menu. There’s a special $10 takeout menu and you can get the delightful bread pudding for just $6 this month. Five local wines are offered for $30 a bottle.
We enjoyed an in-depth interview and meal with Ray late last month. The piece will be posted the week of Oct. 14 and printed in the Weekly on Oct. 18.