Thursday, August 03, 2006

Don't know much about the Middle East...

But I can't be accused of not trying to make an effort to learn, in my own way.

Here's my one story about it, which I posted to exmo-social in February of 2005:

It was 1996. Rabin had recently been assinated and hardliner Netanyahu had just been elected in Israel. I was a grad student at Rutgers.

One night I went out drinking and partying with two of my girlfriends, both Jewish, in the Arab quarter of New Brunswick, as we loved to do!! Those were the days!!!

It was an interesting experience for me to participate in a discussion of the recent Israeli election with these Jewish girls and their Arab (Lebanese Christian) boyfriends. We were all disappointed about recent events because of course we all wanted peace, and it looked like things were going in the wrong direction.

At one point one of the guys said something negative that to me seemed mild (I don't remember what it was), but one of my two girlfriends took offense and belligerently said "It's attitudes like those that make me glad he got elected!"

I remember thinking "OMG, I don't think you want to be saying that here..." It was night and we were in a closed cafe, just us three girls and the cafe's owners and their friends (all Arab guys) and we were all drunk!!!

My other girlfriend -- the one who was a grad student in Mathematics like me -- smoothed things over. She talked about how Jews and Arabs are really the same people, and should work together rather than letting the west gain advantage by playing them off each other. We all agreed with that, and peace was once again restored to our little microcosm.

Then we talked about something else!!!

7 comments:

Cynthia E. Bagley said...

My brother bought a business from a Jewish (immigrated to America) businessman. It was very interesting. This particular group (living in Las Vegas) is a very closed group. They think of us as gentiles and thought nothing of taking financial advantage.

They were upset that the business was bought by a non-Jewish person. I was kind of surprised at the attitude. --I hope this is only a small percentage of that population--

Many of these guys owned a businesses in Las Vegas. If someone else had told me this... I would have said they were bigoted.
It was Shakespeare all over again.
:-)

Joseph's Left One said...

I'm convinced that peace comes only when we stop seeing each other as members of groups but as people. Your little microcosm could get along because it didn't have to be defined by group membership. OK, so maybe I'm naive.

Matt Elggren said...

In the mean time, it can't hurt for both sides to unite about being pissed at the US and other "western countries".

This was kind of the message of the film "Syriana"...that as long as it's in the best interest of the world's most powerful countries and industries and elite classes to see the Middle East eating its own children, there will be no peace.

I hate to say, but the realpolitik take is that the real enemy needs to be identified and thrown back on its heals.

The Sinister Porpoise said...

It'd be too easy to comment on the political aspects of this like the last poster did.

I doubt we'll ever see peace in the region. I doubt we'll ever see peace as a species.

C.L. Hanson said...

I really hope peace is possible, not just in the middle east, but for our whole species.

Matt Elggren said...

Sweet. Hope is neither knowledge nor faith...it's just a desire. There are still a few good ones in the Bible amidst all the crap. "The meek shall inherit the earth" is a hopeful one. It seems to be about survival.

I hope our species survives too.

C.L. Hanson said...

Hey Matt!!!

I hadn't thought of that verse as being one about survival of the species. (I guess I kind of saw it as the usual "pie in the sky" promises...)

That's a really nice interpretation to see it in terms of one day having a peaceful, sustainable society.