Saturday, August 20, 2011

Day 26: Turmoil In The Region And An Interview With The Far Left

Today brought more troubling and sad news to Israel. Rockets from Gaza have been hitting the Southern cities of Ashdod, Beersheba, and Ofakim all day today, another life was lost, and many more people fell victim to the terror inflicted by the Hamas militants of the Palestinian territories. To add more troubles, it is believed that the IDF (Israel Defense Force) killed a number of Egyptian soldiers that they mistook for Palestinian terrorists, thus creating more tension with a very unstable region. When things like this happen I wonder if this will ever end; will peace ever come to this region? It seems like when Israel has stable relations with one Arab country, the Hamas controlled Gaza, or Hezbolla controlled Lebanon, etc. find ways of shaking up the region once more. It is sad to say that because these conflicts have been going on for so long, they have become apart of every day life. To quote an Israeli friend of mine, he told me "Welcome to Israel. This is our life", after I had expressed concerns upon learning of the first attack on Eilat two days ago.

"This is our life"... these words resonated so deeply within me that I am still pondering their meaning and significance. It is so foreign for me, being an American, to live in a place where terrorist attacks are deemed normal, albeit devastating and awful, and tensions and worries are always high. I will never again sit quite when people complain about how hard life is in the United States; at least there you don't have to look outside your window every night to see if rockets are coming over the border; at least there you don't have checkpoints at every town crossing, soldiers stationed at almost every corner, people afraid to ride busses because of bombs, and so on. I couldn't love a place more than I love Israel, and I am so thankful and proud to be living here, but it makes me appreciate where I come from so much more.

In the midst of all this craziness, I have a very exciting and interesting interview that will take place tomorrow afternoon. As I have mentioned, it is at a co-owned Israeli Palestinian journal, whose headquarters are in East Jerusalem. I did a little research on the man who will be interviewing me, and was quite surprised to hear about all of the things he has done in his life; it was a bit intimidating actually. He is the co-editor of this journal, has worked and written for the Los Angeles Times, has corresponded with a few other very large news outlets in the states, and is one of the co-founders of the "Peace Now" movement in Israel.

One thing to note is that the "Peace Now" movement is about as far leftist as you can get here in Israel. My mom even claimed they were a bit far left for her... If you know my mom, you know that these guys must be REALLY far left for her to say that! For those of you who know me, you know that I am about as far from "far left" as they come, however, I am very open about my love for both the Arabic language and Arab culture, and I am pro two state solution, so I think we will probably get along just fine. Hopefully the interview won't go too much into politics, but if I'm hired I could definitely shake the place up a bit :-). My main objective is to really put myself in a place where I can use my Arabic (and hopefully pick up so much more of the language, especially if I get to work and live in Arab East Jerusalem), broaden my knowledge of the conflict that plagues this area every day, bring unbiased journalism to a very biased region, and travel throughout Israel, the Palestinian territories, and the greater Middle East where Palestinian presence is dominant (i.e. the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan).

Whatever happens I have a passion like you wouldn't believe when it comes to this amazing region that is the Middle East; from the cultures to the languages to the people, I have a love for it all, and a desire to see this area restored to it's former glory. Restored to a place where Israelis and Arabs can pray at the temple mount side by side, a place where people can travel freely between Israel and Egypt with no worry of terror, a place where tourists can visit the gorgeous, timeless, and historic cities of Damascus, Beirut, Tehran, Mecca, and Medina without fear or worry, and so so much more. This is what I hope happens in my lifetime, and I plan on doing everything I can to educate myself and work hard to try and help make an impossible reality come to fruition. It won't be easy, and I might only make a small dent of a difference (if even that), but even the smallest of dents are better than nothing, and they will make all the difference in the end.

A good night to you all, and a reminder to thank God every day that you are alive, safe, happy, and healthy, because you just never know when that can all change. Lilah Tov Chaverim!

Until Tomorrow,
Jordana Simone

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