Friday, November 11, 2011

11/11/11: A World Getting Smaller

Maybe it is because I am from the United States where everything, barring domestic politics and issues, seems so far away and detached, or maybe it's because I have been living in my own little, self absorbed bubble for so long, but now that I am living in and studying the Middle East, I am starting to truly realize just how small and interconnected the world, and especially this region, is.

I'm sure I have known for a while how interconnected this region is, however, the first time this  really resonated with me was when the "Arab Spring" broke out in Tunisia and spread like wildfire across the Middle East from Egypt to Libya to Syria, and so on. I was not in the area at the time when this mass movement began, but because of it's large scale and revolutionary nature it was extensively covered in the West. However, following the Middle East only on Western news sources does not really give a very accurate picture or understanding of how, for example, something happening in Egypt or Syria could both indirectly and directly effect Jordan, Saudi Arabic, the Sudan, and so on.

As most of you know I am choosing to focus my research on Palestinians, the Two State Solution (which also implies I will also be looking at the issues regarding the broader Palestinian Israeli conflict), and the region of Jordan. Since narrowing down these three topics, I have been constantly browsing various news sources and reading all I can on these three issues. I am very fortunate to also be able to read Arabic, and with the assistance of my handy dictionary I have been able to begin collecting information from Arab news sources which paints a very unique perspective of this region from the natives who reside here.

Perhaps the most interesting pieces of information I have found so far assist in painting this picture of interconnectedness between Jordan and various other Arab countries. Just a few examples to illustrate my point: Yesterday at 1 in the morning an Egyptian gas line, supplying a substantial amount of gas to both Israel and Jordan, was hit with explosives and that had major negative effects on both Jordan and Israel. The interesting thing about this is that, even though I'm sure this action was primarily meant to negatively effect Israel (who many Egyptians don't feel should be provided this natural resource by Egypt even though Israel generates 40% of it's electricity from this resource), the consequences in Jordan were profound due to the fact that Egyptian gas provides Jordan with 80% of their electricity. Jordan suffered greatly as an indirect (or what I believe to be an indirect) response to Egypt's "demonstration" against Israel. Again, just another way to see how all of these regions pull from one another and depend on one another.

Another very interesting article I read was on "Jordan and the current unrest in Syria". Before coming here I really didn't understand the delicate connection between these two countries, and now that I have expanded my knowledge it is amazing to me the various relationships between all of these countries. The gist of the article is that Jordan is trying to tread lightly on the issue of the unrest in Syria due to a fear of enraging Damascus which could effect the Monarchy in Jordan. Jordan is, however, being pressured by many of her citizens (especially the IAF: Islamic Action Front), and even outside forces such as Saudi Arabia and other Gulf States, to condemn the brutal murders and attacks going on in the country. Jordan is at a very critical political crossroads and they are having to approach this issue with care for fear of Syrian intervention in their country. Again, without really studying or focusing on this, it might not be immediately apparent that the uprisings in Syria have an impact, to the extent that they do, in Jordan (despite that they border one another) and various other Arab Nations.

Map of Jordan and her borders 

I will wrap this up by merely saying that I am finding my studies to be very eye opening and fascinating. It has been a long time since I have studied something I love as much as the Middle East, and it makes hard work a lot of fun.

Now onto the more personal stuff! I had an amazing time last night reconnecting with a friend I met years ago at a small Jewish camp in the Simi Valley (Alonim). She was one of the Israeli youths brought to participate in this camp and we spent 2 amazing summers becoming very good friends. I recently discovered she only lives 10 minutes away from me in Tel Aviv, and we were finally able to reconnect last night. I am so happy she is so close, and last night was only one of many fun times we will be sure to have together. She is also proving to be a better Hebrew teacher to me than my Ulpan teacher. Maayan tries to only talk to me in Hebrew and she is very slow and patient with the fact that I am not completely comfortable with this language yet. I get frustrated sometimes and answer things in Arabic, but I'm trying not to do that too often!

The reason we were able to see one another is because the boys and I decided to invite some people over for a little pre-housewarming housewarming party. We still aren't totally set up so I'm sure once that project is completed we will have another party (not like we really need an excuse though!), and I thought this would be the perfect opportunity to have Maayan over for a visit. Morgan, who really planned this whole event, made a delicious dinner for all of us, and we had a great time with good friends in our new place. Everyone seemed to really love the set up and I loved showing it off! After the official party, Maayan and I tagged along with Michael, Gary and some of their friends to an IDC party near the central bus station in Tel Aviv. It was a long night, and by 1:30 in the morning my feet hurt more than I was tired, so Maayan and I decided to leave the boys and call it a night. The only problem with that was that Michael had my key and money so I was very glad Maayan had cash for the cab and Morgan was awake so that I could get into the apartment.

The cab ride home was an adventure in itself, and the cab driver spent much of the ride trying to tell me that I should call or text his nephew and arrange to meet him. He told me that he gives all pretty girls that he drives his nephews number, which was really not incentive for me to call him... AT ALL, although the compliment was appreciated. I was very happy to get home and get to bed. I woke up not feeling very well and hope to God that I'm not getting sick... But I've been lucky to stay healthy this far so I have reason to hope that my streak will continue!

Maayany and Me 
Last night was just more proof that Israel is becoming a place I consider home more and more everyday. Really aside from family and a few friends (who I see on skype more than if I was actually at home), I really don't miss the USA much at all. I am carving out a new life for myself overseas and absolutely wouldn't trade it for anything in the world!

Until tomorrow <3,
Jordana Simone 

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