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The Potential for Israeli-Palestinian Peace

The conflict between Israelis and Palestinians is obviously a very heated issue, even in American politics. Many politicians and agreements have tried to make peace in the past, from Arafat and Rabin to Oslo 1 and 2. However, there still has been no resolution to the conflict. This begs the questions of if it will be resolved in a peaceful and lasting way in the near future.

My opinion is no, it will not.

While I truly wish this was not the case, and hope to be very wrong, I do not believe peace will be achieved given the current circumstances. As talked about in class, the closer a process gets to achieving peace, the more fiercely radicals on either side will resist it. In addition, more people (or at least those with enough influence) are getting comfortable with the current status quo. Unless the situation for enough people gets worse, and said people have a say in the process, few will be willing to challenge a system that “could be worse” for them. Finally, the salience of the issue (how front and center it is) must become much more prevalent, not only within Israeli discourse, but globally. There needs to be both international support and pressure on both parties to come to an agreement, or neither side will concede.

I truly hope I am incorrect in my prediction, but with what I know, this seems most likely.

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Perception of Cultures

The other day I work, I began to talk with my managers about schoolwork. When I mentioned the Middle East, some very negative opinions on the region came up. My one manager, a former Marine, had deployed to Afghanistan twice and Iraq once. He had an extremely negative view on the region, referring to it as a “sh*thole” of a place. I was understanding of his feelings, as he had lost a few friends while serving there.

My other manager agreed with him, although he had never served. Curious as to why he thought this, I asked him if he had ever been to the region. He explained to me that while he had never been to the region, his grandparents had once lived in Syria. After talking with him further, it appears that they likely lived in modern day Lebanon, part of Greater Syria before the creation of the modern states that exist today. According to what he told me, his grandparents were forced to leave the area in the early 1900’s, as they were forced out by Muslims due to the fact that they were practicing Christians.

While his feelings were understandable, I couldn’t help but marvel at the fact that events over a century ago still mare people’s perception of different cultures and regions within the world. The conversation gave me an appreciation for courses such as this. I would be lying if I didn’t have a similar view to both of these men a few years ago due to many similar conversations with family friends, several of whom deployed with the military to the MENA region, as well as the common perception of Orientalism.  However, classes such as this have showed me the region in a different light, so much so that I plan to study abroad within Jordan in order to gain a first hand experience into the culture and history of MENA.

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My Water Footprint

My water footprint came out to 1,278 Gallons (4,837 Liters) a day, opposed to the US Average of 1,802 Gallons a day. The majority of my consumption was virtual water, due to my large consumption of meat (I work at a BBQ joint) which accounted for over 900 gallons a day. My yearly one was calculated to be 865.9 cubic meters a year. To put my consumption into perspective, here is the per capita consumption of countries in the Levant in Liters per day.

  • Drew- 4,837
  • Jordan- 4,600
  • Israel- 6,300
  • Syria- 5,800
  • Palestine- 2,900
  • Lebanon- 5,800

I think one of the implications of this is that countries such as Palestine have to make sustainability a much larger priority than several other countries within the region. According to the calculator, I consume less water than the average American, and am fairly sustainable (minus meat) in my lifestyle. However, I still use more water than the average person in Palestine and Jordan. Maslow’s hierarchy of needs come to mind, as these countries will have to focus more on the basic necessity of water, while countries like Israel will be able to move higher up the latter in regards to improving living conditions of their citizens, creating a gap in lifestyle, and perhaps friction between cultures.

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Why I am Pro-2A

Why I am Pro-2A

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Us and Them

“In light of readings on Orientalism and the concept of self and other, think about your community (your home, Dickinson, some other community in which you are involved) and consider who belongs and who is an outsider. What group or groups do you experience primarily as plural others, rather than as individuals? How does that affect your perceptions of them? What are the social and practical effects of othering?”

I believe growing up in a town and culture such as mine, groups are often less about physical characteristics and more about beliefs and values, like niches in a high school. However, sometimes these lines can become blurred (which personally I try to do, as to prevent myself from having preconceived perceptions about people). The most visible plural other that I have experienced is through politics, dividing people as democrats, republicans, libertarians, liberals, conservatives, socialists, etc. While appearing innocent at first, as its based off beliefs and not something that can’t be changed (like race and ethnicity), it can be dangerous and dividing none-the-less. It can cause me to “know” what a person believes before I ever get to know them, through a snap judgment. The social and practical effects of this could especially be seen during this recent election cycle, with the fierce partisanship dividing both the government and everyday people, with riots and violence becoming an everyday occurrence. Othering as a whole seems to repeatedly cause a deep divide between groups, and oftentimes can lead to violence and atrocities in the name of eliminating the “other.” The concept has been used at times for somewhat beneficial reasons,  such as rallying people behind as cause such as war. However, the implications can sometimes be detrimental, with the harbored feelings introduced by the othering often lasting much longer than the conflict itself. As we’ve learned about orientalism, I think that while there is an image of innocence to it, (such as the movie Aladdin), it’s still a detriment to establishing proper relations between the “east” and the “west.” Through education about the matter such as this class, the idea of orientalism will slowly be disproven, and hopefully killed off.

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Where I live, where they live

When studying the Middle East and its culture, it can be hard at times to fully grasp and understand the actions and traditions of its inhabitants. Growing up in Appalachia, my home life and upbringing were obviously very different from someone in a place such as Jordan or Syria. This upbringing and varied life experiences will act as a barrier between understandings. We likely will not see eye to eye on the importance and urgency of matters regarding both domestic and foreign policies. For example, a student my age from Riyadh may see access to water as a more pressing issue than I do, or an adult from Baghdad may have a more passionate opinion on the U.S. Invasion of Iraq in 2003. In addition, growing up in a suburban/rural area in America means that my culture and way of life will likely be very alien to someone from anywhere in the Middle East or North Africa. However, in my experience, some of the best ways to overcome these barriers are through personal conversations and friendships. As long as one goes in with an open mind to listen to other and thick skin to not be offended, you can develop a mutual understanding and overcome any barriers.