Hi everyone. Sorry this blog has been quiet since Yom Kippur.
I recently got a new job working as a regular freelancer for TRIBE Magazine (owned by The Jewish Journal...the LA Jewish paper)and I've been drowning in work. I've actually just finished a large multimedia package for them about the protests in Israel (including an article, podcast, and slideshow) that's due to go online next week. I'll post the link as soon as it's up.
To catch you up on what's been going on (if you haven't been compulsively scanning google news), last week, the Israeli government made a deal with Hamas, the government in Gaza, to free over 1,000 Palestinian prisoners (including a number of people directly responsible for the deaths of 599 Israelis in terrorist attacks) in exchange for one kidnapped IDF solider, Gilad Shalit. It's incredibly controversial for fairly obvious reasons.
It also might have undermined the Fatah government in charge of the West Bank. It pretty much illustrated the fact that the West Bank and Gaza are NOT united...otherwise, Israel would not have been able to do a prisoner swap with one without the other agreeing. They are effectually two different governments with a similar national heritage (the WB and Gaza). It's such a convoluted mess.
I just hope things stay relatively peaceful...
On a brighter note, it's been really wonderful getting to become friends with a young woman from Syria who's in my Muslims and the Media class. Today, she even gave me a HUGE bag of zataar (Syrian style! So delicious.) Zataar is a spice mixture that's common in the Middle East. The Israeli version is thyme, sesame seeds, and sometimes garlic, while the Arab zataar has sumac, coriander, cumin, and sesame seeds. BOTH are awesome.
Besides the shared culinary enthusiasm, we've also been able to have some really interesting discussions about the Middle East, Jewish/Muslim relations, and government-created hate. It's hard for us to really come to terms with the fact that the only place we could both safely meet in the Middle East would be Jordan...touristy enough and on good enough terms with Syria,Israel and America for no one to question our motives (which would be to see Petra probably...)
I'd love to be able to go back to Israel and cover the Jewish/Arab school in the Negev that's one of the few that is really working towards a common understanding between the two communities--and it would be especially great to be able to go with my friend who speaks Arabic (and honestly, a lot more Hebrew than I speak). We'd both be able to talk to the people involved with a level of trust we might not get cross-culturally, and we'd be able to show the world that the insanity can be stopped...maybe it would convince others to follow suit. I don't know. Pipe dreams for now I guess...
Anyway, that's a fairly scattered blog about what I've been up to and what's going on. My next posts will hopefully be somewhat more comprehensible.