Thursday, October 21, 2010

A Few Reflections from the PBS Video

Today in class we watched the second video of David Shipler's Arab & Jew: Return to the Promise Land (I hope I got the title right). The video was pretty powerful. I knew the basic history and facts about the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, but this video helped me understand it better.

One can read as many textbooks and analytical essays about a conflict, but using interviews with real people bring a situation so far away closer. For example, I know World War II to to be a war of great proportions, but it was way before my time. Its sort of a myth for the more recent generations. However, talking with my grandparents about their actions and service during the war makes it tangible history. I feel connected with the events that had happened, and it becomes more of a reality. Well, watching the video of very personal interviews today, it made me feel more connected with what is occurring almost a half-world away.

We discussed many themes that came out of the video, and it drives home just how complex this situation actually is. During the peace talks, one can just ask themselves 'Why can't they fix this already?' Well I was one of those people, more or less. I knew the situation and history, so I like to think I wasn't ignorant of exactly what was going on. However, after seeing exactly how Israelis and Palestinians think about each other and the past, it adds another dimension. Though, after watching the interviews, I would like to know how Shipler chose who to interview. Not accusing him of anything, it would just be interesting to see why he chose the people he did.

A quote I jotted down stood out for me. Rita Huri, the Israeli-Arab social worker, said that Israelis and Arabs may "live in some place, but not together". I thought that was pretty powerful. Not to directly compare the situation in Israel, but it reminded me of the Jim Crow laws in the South. White and Black American citizens lived in the same place, but they didn't actually live together. Everything was separate. There was a mental barrier that persisted in the south from fully integrating and accepting blacks in society. I think the mindset, at least a bit, can be used to describe some interactions between many Israelis and Arab-Israeli citizens. I think it is important for Israeli citizens and Arab-Israeli citizens to have a dialogue for further understanding. Once this first mental barrier can be removed, other barriers between Israelis and Palestinians can be too.

At the end of the video, the lawyer (sorry, I didn't catch his name), said "its all over but the body count." Well I hope there can be peace, eventually, without a body count.

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