Thursday, 11 March 2010

Not a Laughing Matter

(I wrote this for something else, so please forgive the lack of caps.  I know some of you have heard this before from me, but I can't help it.  It's still an issue, and it's still close to my heart.)

i am not all that political.  i am glad to have the freedom to vote and have an opinion, but i don't get very caught up in it all, either locally, nationally or internationally.

i am, however, very opinionated about how people are treated.  especially when it is completely unfair.

i also know that a lot of people will think that this makes me political.  it doesn't.  i'm not anti-anyone-- i'm pro-everyone.  i just think that all people have the right to live and work and love, and to do so in a manner that is not in constant fear or under constant threat.

what made me so mad today was the stupid young undergrads in a class i'm taking notes for.  it's a class on the history of the middle east and all the conflicts there.  i actually am really glad to be in this class.  i have been to israel and the palestinian territories, twice.  i know people who live and work in various parts of the entire region.  i love the history, the culture, the food, the people-- arabs, jews, christians, muslims, all of them.  it is fascinating to me, and i would love to live there some day.  i also took classes in university from a rabbi-- both bible classes and classes on the holocaust.  i am not ignorant of what has been done to jewish people... but neither am i ignorant of what they have done to others.

today in this class, we were talking about the history of the conflict between israelis and palestinians, going back to the 1930s.  it has been a difficult situation for a long time, and neither side is blameless.  for the second half of the class, we watched the first half of a film called 'paradise now' about two young men from nablus, following their journey in becoming suicide bombers.  i don't know how it's going to end yet.

first off, the film is filmed in nablus.  having spent time in the west bank, and really wanting to go back, it actually made me a little homesick, which is funny because it's never been 'home' yet.  also, having spent time there with friends who have family living there, as well as having spent a summer term at hebrew university of jerusalem, i have experienced both sides-- and now i've studied the history of both sides.  this film, seeing these two young men struggle with very limited options, trying to decide what they can do, how they can make a difference for their family, their people, their land... it was heartbreaking.  at many points, i had tears streaming down my face.

and the kids behind me were giggling.  laughing.  ridiculing.  i was furious.  but i just had to sit there.

i want to be clear:  i do not support or approve of violence on either side, whether state sanctioned (israel) or revolutionary (many arabs).  i. do. not. think. violence. solves. anything. or. is. ever. the. answer.  EVER.

that being said, i do understand why many oppressed people around the globe feel that violence is their only option.  i have seen myself what life is like, and how intolerable it can be, when you are the oppressed and occupied people.  one person's terrorist is another's freedom fighter.  israel itself used the very same tactics to claim their statehood-- and are every bit as violent and oppressive towards their arab neighbours as they suffered under the nazis.

how is that fair?  how is that right?  it's not. and it's no laughing matter.

i know that there are no easy solutions, and that violence begets violence, and everyone has claims, and all that.  but i get angry anyway.


Barb said...

Well said! And I'm sorry those silly students don't have enough respect for the people or the issues to pay attention without joking about it. I would have been frustrated myself, and probably wouldn't have been able to refrain from saying something.

Lysana said...

Very well-said and thoughtfully written.

I think you make some really interesting points. I don't know enough about it to have my own opinions, but I do know that there are two sides to every story. It sounds like you are familiar with both. Thank you for sharing this.

And wow about the students. I am saddened that they were able to find something funny in what sounds like such a tragic situation. :(

Amie Vaughan said...

thanks, y'all, for reading. this is an issue generally close to my heart, and i am afraid sometimes that folks will think i just keep harping on it... but i can't not talk about it sometimes. lysana, you are right about two sides to every story; i mostly get upset when only one side is portrayed. =(

Jennie B said...

Did te PRof follow up like you thought would happen?