After studying abroad for six months in the heart of “the holy land,” Jerusalem, I would like to share some insight into the real situation on the ground in Israel. Most students with busy lives have very little time between sips of beer and Four Loko (R.I.P.) to read the extensive histories of every modern conflict. Instead we must rely on the media to give us the SparkNoted version. Unfortunately, the media sometimes fails to act responsibly in delivering the “big picture” of a conflict to unsuspecting readers. The point of this article is not to be condescending, but to share my account as a foreigner witnessing firsthand the Arab-Israeli conflict.
I have studied and toured extensively Israel/Palestine and some of its neighbors, much to the chagrin of my parents (My mom every other week: “You went where?!”). I have seen riots unfold in the Old City and near my dorms, as well as witnessed bomb squads blow up suspicious packages from my window. I have walked and driven through hundreds of Israeli checkpoints and spoken with many Palestinians and Israelis. I have tried my hardest to get the most out of my experience here in the Middle East, both intellectually and emotionally. I can confidently say that the situation here should be viewed with great optimism, but also with sensitive empathy.
When I sit down to eat lunch in the (awesomely delicious) student cafeteria on campus, I cannot help but feel strong emotions as I see a growing line of students waiting for their bags to be searched by an Uzi-wielding guard before they can eat. The cafeteria had been the site of a horrific bombing no more than eight years ago during the second intifada, killing nine students and wounding almost a hundred.
It is hard to imagine someone wanting to kill the very generation that is trying to study and bring about peace. Palestinians and Israelis try to avoid speaking about those times, as the horror experienced by both sides is almost beyond comprehension. Listening to stories from Israelis about their near death experiences from suicide attacks is equally appalling as listening to Palestinians speak about Israeli tanks firing on the guerillas shooting from the home next door. Try to imagine a bomb exploding at the dining commons if the student population of the university were reduced to just the two towers of FT (also R.I.P.) and not 25,000. Paranoia and fear are still very much a reality on the streets in Israel as each resident is reminded of these emotions every time they pass through a checkpoint or a metal detector (which is often).
Over 80 percent of Israeli citizens have or are serving in the Israeli armed forces and 100 percent are related to or know someone in the armed forces. For the aforementioned reasons, it is practically impossible to withdraw yourself from the greater conflict in Israel, yet the perseverance of the Israeli and Palestinian people has allowed them to attempt to lead relatively normal lives.
Israeli and Palestinian media is overwhelmed with headlines about the conflict. The U.S. and Europe, however, are guilty of not caring about peace. Obama’s current political plight is a prime example of this as people generally care more about the federal deficit than his accomplishments in the international environment. Just checking the front page of an Israeli newspaper, such as Haaretz, an Arab newspaper like Al-Jazeera or speaking with an Israeli or Palestinian, will show the dedication of both parties to studying and solving the conflict.
Asking if Israelis OR Palestinians care about peace is as ridiculous a question as asking if a homeless person cares about his next meal. Let’s try to be more vigilant discussing other cultures, conflicts and histories. Let us step out of our bubble and intentionally put ourselves in vulnerable positions for the sake of understanding cultures different from our own, so that we may gain some much needed perspective that is not spoon-fed to us by Time, CNN or Fox News.
Daniel, I’d like to believe the Palestinians are interested in peace with Israelis but their history suggests otherwise and this is why: A hadith says that Muhammad believed rats to be “mutated Jews” (Bukhari 54:524, also confirmed by Sahih Muslim 7135 and 7136). Verse 5:60 even says that Allah transformed Jews of the past into apes and pigs. This is echoed by verses 7:166 and 2:65. Quran (3:56) – “As to those who reject faith, I will punish them with terrible agony in this world and in the Hereafter, nor will they have anyone to help.” Quran (4:76) – “Those… Read more »
Arafat, “put to death everyone in the cities, men, women, and dependents” Deuteronomy 2:31-34 “Do not suppose that I have come to bring peace to the earth. I did not come to bring peace, but a sword.” Matthew 10:34 “Attack Kedar, despoil the Arabs of the east. Carry off their tents and their flocks, their tent-hangings and all their vessels, drive off their camels too, and a cry shall go up: ‘Terror let loose!” Jeremiah 49:28-29 We can go on forever arguing which religion has the most violent scriptures but the truth will end up being that the least violent… Read more »
I agree Buddhism is the path.
I also agree religions are profoundly different. The problem appears to be in acknowledging the reality that as peace-loving as Buddhism is that it’s not surprising that mankind would also create a religion that is the opposite, or some proximity of the opposite and Islam is it.
I guess Richard Dawkins is as “myopic” as me. Makes me feel great that I’m in such remarkable company.
Dawkins on Islam:
Speaking of being in great company, look who else is as “myopic” as I am. (Winston, how many fingers an I holding up?)
All you have done is show other non-qualified people talk about religion instead of actually thinking about what I said. I am curious what YOU have to say about the New Testament and Old Testament’s violent tendencies? I just cannot see how you can argue that both the bible and the Koran have a fair share of hate and violence. At least Islam doesn’t have as extreme an impulse as Christianity to force its religion on others. Things Fall Apart ring a bell? I am not saying Muslims are innocent in the matter-I am just saying that the relationship can… Read more »
Excuse me, I meant to say “unqualified” people. I don’t mean to use unqualified to diminish their intelligence, however, both people you mentioned are far from scholars on the subject of religion, especially Muslim religion. Churchill and Dawkins, while wildly entertaining and intelligent, also happen to both be crazy (cmon, you cannot deny that).
Since we have come down to quoting Richard Dawkins and Winston Churchill, I might as well put this up for kicks.
One additional thought on “taking quotes out of context” and on “comparing religions”. I’d encourage you to read the following two articles. They illustrate quite clearly how uniquely violent Islam is compared to any other religion, and the articles do so by putting Islam and Christianity and Judaism in their true context.
Maybe Richard Dawkins, Winston Churchill, and lil’ ol’ me are not as narrow-minded as you believe us to be. Maybe it is you who needs to re-visit this issue and to question your understanding of it.
Honestly, you have proven absolutely nothing, other than the fact that the issue is contentious and heavily debated-in other words; there is no right answer and there never will be one, indicating the futility of this argument and the need to move forward with negotiating a settlement. Most prominent scholars would balk at Ibrahim’s (Alma Mater, CSU Fresno) incredulous statements (including the most obviously incorrect claim that “jihad … is regarded by all jurists, with almost no exception, as a collective obligation of the whole Muslim community”, as Jihad is one of the most debated translations and ideas in Islamic… Read more »
I am curious to see what you think the solution is to this supposed “problem” you have with Muslims (the way some describe it reminds me of a “problem” a certain guy by the name of Adolf Hitler had). Do we just wipe out one of the largest populations of people on the planet? If I admitted that you and Ibrahim were right (purely hypothetical), what would be the next step? I just don’t see where you are going with such assumptions (other than the solution above), which is why your point of view, while arguably correct (as proven by… Read more »
Not-Arafat, Thanks for asking. I think one part of the solution to the problem of Islam is to educate people about Islam. For instance,let people know about the Muslim practice of taqiyya –which is the Muslim practice of deception to confuse or fool non-Muslims. Or, to let people know how Mohammed was a megalomaniac who raped women, had his men steal and kill from non-Muslims, preached the supramcism of Islam and Muslims over all other religions and people. We must inform people of the truths of Islam and why wherever Islam goes non-Muslims are treated as second-class citizens until they… Read more »
OK so then we have a whole lot of people who are raised to hate Muslims. At that point? We just learn to hate, not hear the opposing side and go to war with them? This sounds like the Hitler Youth here…