Thursday, December 31, 2009

Give Hope a Chance

I watched District 9 the other night. All I could think of was the apartheid situation in Israel/Palestine (for the record, Jimmy Carter, Desmond Tutu, and Nelson Mandela have all called this situation an apartheid - note that two of them actually lived under South Africa's apartheid). Sure, go ahead and call it my capstone project haunting me during the holidays. However, the conditions and discrimination faced by the aliens in the film are very reminiscent of that faced by the Palestinians in the Occupied Territories.

Since I've been dwelling on that for a few days, this news story was very unexpected. Here are some of my favorite parts regarding the young Israeli boy and Palestinian girl:

Friendship often starts with proximity, but Orel and Marya, both 8, have been thrust together in a way few elsewhere have. Their playground is a hospital corridor. He is an Israeli Jew severely wounded by a Hamas rocket. She is a Palestinian Muslim from Gaza paralyzed by an Israeli missile. Someone forgot to tell them that they are enemies.

“The wounds of our children, their pain, our pain, have connected us,” noted Angela Elizarov, Orel’s mother, one recent day as she sat on a bed in the room she shares with her son. Next door is Marya, her 6-year-old brother, Momen, and their father, Hamdi Aman. “Does it matter that he is from Gaza and I am from Beersheba, that he is an Arab and I am a Jew? It has no meaning to me. He sees my child and I see his child.”

He [Marya's father] and his children have been at Alyn Hospital, which specializes in young people with serious physical disabilities, for nearly the entire time since. The Israeli government, which brought him here for emergency help, wanted him and his children either to return to Gaza or to move to the West Bank. But attention in the Israeli news media produced a bevy of volunteers to fight on his behalf. Marya would not survive in either Gaza or the West Bank. The government has backed off, supporting Mr. Aman on minimum wage and paying for Marya to go to a bilingual Arabic-Hebrew school nearby.

But Mr. Aman has no official status and is also raising a healthy and bright son in a hospital room. He wants residency or a ticket to a Western country where his children will be safe and Marya will get the care she needs.

Volunteers who help are often religious Jews performing national service. Some ask Mr. Aman how he can live among the people whose army destroyed his family.

“I have never felt there was a difference among people — Jews, Muslims, Christians — we are all human beings,” he says. “I worked in Israel for years and so did my father. We know that it is not about what you are but who you are. And that is what I have taught my children.”


“I was raised as a complete Zionist rightist,” he said. “The Arabs, we were told, were out to kill us. But I was living in some fantasy. Here in the hospital, all my friends are Arabs.” Ms. Elizarov, Orel’s mother, noted that in places like Alyn Hospital, political tensions do not exist. Then she said, “Do we need to suffer in order to learn that there is no difference between Jews and Arabs?”


Perhaps through the suffering of others, humanity as a whole could someday come together to create a more peaceful existence for all.

Monday, December 28, 2009

Iran and Airplanes

There is an awful lot going on in Iran. I'm not even going to pretend like I can do the situation justice, so for more on the what's going on, visit The Daily Dish. Andrew Sullivan and company have done a wonderful job over the weekend with analyzing the different news coming out of Iran via the citizens and social networking sites.

CNN all day has been talking about the attempted terrorist attack on Christmas. Al Qaeda has now confirmed that they are behind the 23 year-old Nigerian's plot to bring down a plane from Amsterdam to Detroit Friday. Headline News has been asking people for their opinions about the raised security at airports and some of the responses astound me. There is a lot of racism and religious intolerance regarding this event. One particular gentleman was upset that "our people" are being searched.

For the record, you never know who is going to be involved with terrorism. There are plenty of homegrown terrorists or those who support terrorists. I, for one, have no problem going through more searching if I can be confident that my plane trip will go smoothly or that my loved ones will be fine during their trips.