Thursday, February 1, 2007

The Real Isreali-Palestinian Conflict is Stupid, and Here

One of the first things I asked a Palestinian-American friend of mine recently, when I found out about her ethnic background, was how devout a Muslim she was. “That’s weird,” she said, “that’s always the first thing everyone asks me when they find out I’m Arab.”

I asked her if that bothered her. “Not really. It’s just that all of a sudden my Muslim identity has become very public,” she said.

Ok, Ok. I asked a stereotypically loaded question, maybe akin to asking Josh, “How many pairs of chopsticks do you have?” But was it really that bad? Was I falling into line with mainstream narrow minded America and judging this girl, my classmate and friend, simply by her brown skin and religion? No way.

At least, I don’t see it that way. I see it as a product of today’s socio-global culture (if it wasn’t a term before, it is now). The fact of the matter is that the War on Terror and Globalization have teamed up to make Islam and the Arab world an interest on the top of every Westerner’s mind. And truthfully, it’s based on precedent and common reason.

Consider the fascination with Eastern European languages during the Cold War: it makes sense that we should be curious about our supposed dialectical antithesis.

In other words, my question wasn’t shallow or demeaning. It was important and educational. The sheer rubbing of perspectives, as we sat and chatted, was conducive to developing both of our broader mindsets and views on the world.

Now, we gracefully evaded emotional issues on Palestine and Israel, but we were able to talk about the way those issues are displayed around the country. I mentioned how, at Stanford University, the campus has recently burst into near-riotous squabbling about the conflict. Students are writing grosser and more groundless, passionate messages in the newspaper and in letters to the editor everyday.

How virulent both sides are, to frame the situation and inevitably lose sight of practical purpose! How similar both sides are, in their emotionally driven arguments and fallacy-ridden propaganda machines! How irrational both sides are, to promulgate peace behind pamphlets of insidious generalizations and groundless jeremiads!

My friend and I sat on the porch of JJ, though it was dark and below 30 degrees. We were both cold, both tired. It was late.

What else is there to say?