Israeli student representatives mingling in Qatar.

January 29, 2008

Here’s a little contact theory for y’all on a dreary Tuesday:

Israeli, Syrian high school students meet in Qatar

“A delegation of Israeli high school students attended an international convention in Qatar, simulating the United Nations…

The 30 Israeli students, along with their peers from other countries, got a taste of real-life international politics, as the UN-Model had them “represent” different countries around the worlds in various political and diplomatic situations…” (ynet)

Reading things like this used to make my stomach churn. Israeli representatives? Within this crowd? But it seems the students made quite an impression:

“The Israeli delegation reportedly made an exceptional impression, showing great proficiency in debates mimicking Arab League meets and US Security Council sessions, as well as excelling at describing the Israeli-Palestinian reality and issues involving the Iranian nuclear program, winning eight awards by the time the convention came to its end.”

Apparently the Israeli delegation was one of the largest, which is nice to hear. The article continues to describe relations between the Israeli students and their counterparts from what are considered ‘hostile’ countries – especially Syria and Lebanon. It seems at first, debates were heated and very political, but as time went on (and contact increased) the students engaged in other forms of conversing – gadgets, soccer – and relations warmed somewhat:

“Undoubtedly, a large part of the convention took part on the sidelines of the official debates: The Israeli students soon befriended their Jordanian, Palestinian, Gulf and Lebanese peers, and eventually even the Syrian ones, as the heated debates soon turned from politics to soccer and electronic gadgets.”

I always wonder, if to some degree, world leaders do the same when they meet. Of course, I don’t just mean the friendly ones. Is there a point where they are worn down enough to crack a joke? To make a comment about the upcoming Olympics?

Anyway, back to our students:

“‘With everything happening between the Israelis and the Palestinians, what happened here is very important… Arab teens found out first hand that the Israelis are not monsters, but people, just like them,’ [said Israeli commerce attache Roi Rosenblit]…”

Well, good for them! Pats on the back all around. I hope to read more stories like this more often.


Professor of intercivilizational conflict resolution.

January 27, 2008

A professor of mine was interviewed for a piece in the Bangkok Post. The article details Dr. Ben Mollov’s work in intercivilizational conflict resolution and conflicts in the Middle East:

Working for Peace

“A professor of social sciences at Israel’s Bar-Ilan University, Mollov has made the study of managing and mediating conflict through cultural and religious dialogue the basis of his life’s work.

A prolific writer and lecturer on the subject, Mollov was in Bangkok last week en route to a conference in Malaysia, where despite the lack of Israel-Malaysian diplomatic relations (Malaysian passports read “valid in every country but Israel”), he was invited to speak about moderating intercivilisational conflict. He also spoke there in 2005, when, in his first visit to the country, he was pleasantly surprised to be received by audience applause, a prominently displayed Israeli flag and inter-faith bonding with Muslim conference participants over the troubles in finding Halal and Kosher food when traveling.”

Dr Ben MollovIt’s nice to see some positive, enthusiastic work coming from my department’s faculty, as well as some major steps taken to ‘speak outside the box’. What I mean by that is Dr Mollov’s work spreading to Southeast Asia – Malaysia, especially – as opposed to just keeping within the Israeli/American/Anglo academic scenes.

I’ve been critical of my program, but I think with a little open-mindedness and patience, I can really learn a bit more from my professors’ actions in addition to their words. If we can’t all learn one-on-one, the least we can do is watch from a distance and pick up what we can.

 


Out of absentia.

January 27, 2008

I know that I have been quite absent lately – from my school life, from talking about my studies… But there has been a senior professors’ strike on since the beginning of the academic year. The strike has affected all of us – student, faculty, administration alike – and it has been as frustrating as it has been disturbing.

Well, the strike finally ended last week. I am still trying to pick up the pieces and figure out how I will work towards finishing my last credits and projects by this summer.


Baby steps for 2008.

January 1, 2008

This morning, I got an email from OneVoice with this graphic:

OneVoice Happy New Year

Translation: “We will make an end to the conflict – because that is what is good for Israel.”

The graphic is heartwarming and all. Yes, hopefully we will see some progress. Progress, not miracles. I do think it’s important to keep optimistic with a dash of realism. Heartwarming is good.

That’s all I can really say: Baby steps for 2008.