Monday, September 5, 2011

Day 41-42: A Reflection On The Issue: سلام و שלום

Since yesterday and today were very routine, consisted of going to class, studying, studying more, taking a test, and so on, with nothing of note to really report, I figured this would be a fantastic opportunity to reflect on a major theme that consumes much of my time here: the peace process in the Middle East (most specifically the Palestinian Israeli conflict). With a HUGE United Nations vote on Palestinian statehood coming up, the topic of peace in the region, its likelihood or unlikelihood, and the issue of the conflict itself, permeates every inch of this country. The Palestinians have made a bid for statehood in which they hope to establish a self governing state consisting of Gaza, the West Bank, and East Jerusalem. The United Nations is scheduled to vote on the 20th of September, and if it passes, the vote will carry over to the Security Council. It is extremely controversial here since nothing has been negotiated in terms of territories on either side, and it is expected to cause a lot of problems in the region.

In the next few weeks it is hypothesized that Israel and the territories should expect and prepare for riots, rallies, and demonstrations, taking place on both the sides of the Israelis and Palestinians.  I can't even imagine how Jerusalem, a united city under Israeli rule, however still a very much divided city between Arabs and Jews, will handle the events that are sure to occur in the upcoming weeks. Lucky for me I won't have to do too much imagining, since I will be moving to Arab East Jerusalem only days after the vote occurs. People keep asking me if I am afraid to go, or telling me I should look for housing in West Jerusalem where things might be more calm, but I can't seem to pull myself away from being in the middle of the action. I feel that East Jerusalem is where I need to be, I am, whether it be wise or not, calm and very unafraid, and most of all I am extremely excited.

My Ulpan teacher said it well when she said I was probably Arab in a past life, and to this day I feel like I have an Arab heart and a Jewish soul. Judaism is my identity, but Arabic and the Arab culture is the love of my life, which, for better or worse, makes me unafraid and in search of being in places that will allow me to learn more about this language and culture. There must be a reason that I feel the way I do, and I know it has something to do with the conflict at hand. There is so much hate in this world, and so much hate, ignorance, fear, and non-acceptance between Jews and Arabs, that I almost feel an obligation to show that there is a way to love both without compromising who you are; I have sure found a way to do it.

These next few weeks will be a very trying time here in Israel, and I would be crazy to say that I am not worried. Unfortunately the ideals of the fanatics on both sides make it very hard for the rest of the citizens to escape unscathed, so I can only hope that whatever is to come will be done without violence and harm. As for me, I refuse to let ignorance and fear keep me from trying to make a difference, and from trying to have my voice heard in whatever capacity. I am for a two state solution, and hope to work hard to help find a way to achieve that in a way that is acceptable to both sides. Not a small task, and one that is almost impossible without good lines of communication between the Palestinians and Israelis, which, as we all know, hasn't been too successful as of yet. There is so much work to be done, however, with a good head on my shoulders, diligence, common sense, good judgment, and God's help, I should come out of this with nothing but wonderful, memorable experiences, good ideas, and ways to put them to use.

 I will be constantly keeping everyone updated on the situation here, especially in the coming weeks, and I ask that you keep me and everyone here in your prayers. These are very trying times, but every day brings hope that a solution will be found, and peace will come to this amazing place.

שלום و سلام
Jordana Simone 

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