Saturday, May 20, 2006

Only a few hours to go until the first experiment in Live BlogExplosion Radio! Come to BlogExplosion Radio tonight for my first radio show in 4 years, and hear some great music, have some fun, and talk blogs. It's going to be a blast, so make sure you're listening.

If you want to make a suggestion for the show, or just want to leave some moral support (as others have done on my last post) feel free to do so here. I will raffle off credits to the people who left comments on either post during the show, and more comments mean more entries. So feel free to write in!

Anyway, I'm setting up music to make sure that everyone is very entertained tonigh, with tunes you love and tunes you may not have heard before but will go crazy for. So sit back, relax, and turn on the tunes...we're going to work together to make BE radio a voice for bloggers everywhere. See, er, hear you tonight!

Live BlogExplosion Radio....Radio for Bloggers, by Bloggers, and even about Bloggers!


Posted by Scottage at 1:15 PM / | |  

That's right, folks, I'm coming out of retirement, heading back onto the radio, onto BE radio, Saturday night at 8 pm est. There will be great music, credits being given away, requests, dedications, I'll read headlines off of blogs, the works.

So come listen to Live Blog Explosion Radio Saturday night with your friendly neighborhood nomad as your host. It's BE Radio, Radio for Bloggers, By Bloggers and even about Bloggers.


Posted by Scottage at 3:31 AM / | |  

Friday, May 19, 2006


Posted by Scottage at 2:31 PM / | |  

Airbound Disaster Avoided - For Now

Today an undercover Swiss agent, who had infiltrated an Arabic terrorist cell in Europe, uncovered a plot to shoot down an Israeli El Al plan with a rocket propelled grenade, a shoulder-mounted missile purchased in Russia and smuggled back to Geneva. Until further notice, all planes heading from Israel to Geneva will be rerouted to Zurich.

The plot was foiled simply because the terrorists bragged about their Russia purchase; otherwise, there is no indication that this plot would have been picked up before it was executed.  There have been no arrests, as the plane was never shot down.  

Many Israeli planes contain the Flight Guard Self Protection System which is supposed to detect the missile, alert the crew, and launch countermeasures.  But at a price of $1M per plane, El Al is gradually installing them in more and more planes.  Still, even at that price the cost is cheap compared to the cost in human life and funds of a tragedy.

It seems like, if the terrorist group had not been so boisterous about their purchase, we would never have caught this group before they shot down a plane. To me, this is a clear indication of the value of good intelligence, and shows why intelligence is the only viable defense against terrorist actions.

Who knows if the targeted plane would have had Flight Guard, or it Flight Guard would have helped them avoid getting blown out of the sky. But clearly, the undercover agent was effective in, at least for now, avoiding this tragedy.  Good show!

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Posted by Scottage at 12:22 PM / | |  

Hazings Seem to be Good Clean Fun

OK, I admit it, I am mainly writing this post because it’s just so easy to do a pictorial post, as opposed to a full writing post, and partially because everyone is still talking about the hazing issue, and I figured that now that I have a real opinion, as opposed to being so undecided, I should express it.

So what is my opinion? That this is no big deal!  Bad Jocks printed pictures from 12 hazings at other schools, and frankly the worst thing shown is underage drinking.  These are college freshmen; who cares if they drink a bit? Every college freshmen I know did a bit of drinking, and I think you only condemn these students if you are holding them to higher standards because they’re athletes.  And to me that’s not fair.

The Catholic University Women’s Lacrosse team hired a stripper.  I have no idea if that’s legal or illegal, but I certainly don’t see it as immoral. Men get strippers for parties; let the women have their fun.

Perhaps the most humiliating comes from Elon University’s Men’s Baseball team.  But is this a photo of a crime?  Not in my eyes!

Wake Forest Women’s Volleyball tied recruits to a beam, got them drunk, and painted them.  Some would say that’s pushing the envelope. I might believe that it’s pushing the envelope a bit far for Bad Jocks to list the team’s roster.

Sure, this shirt from Farleigh Dickenson’s Women’s Softball initiation is more than a bit suggestive, and the group of photos includes some passed out girls.  But it does look like everyone’s having a good time, and who’s really getting hurt?

James Madison U Women’s Soccer showed pictures of lots of women, booze and blindfolds, but there is no indication things got any more out of hand than a bunch of drunk college girls.

And the hazing goes ivy, as this is the Princeton Cheerleeding squad.  Now I understand why the Princeton education is so expensive.  They could cheer for me any time, and I see no problem with their hazing.

Finally, the Quinnipiac University Men’s Baseball initiation including this whip cream girl.  OK, I admit it, I want an invitation.  How did I miss out on all this?

Anyway, like I said, to me it seems like good, clean fun, and if these pics are indicative or what was happening at Northwestern, I say reinstate the soccer team, they have done nothing worse then growing up, and should be held to the same standards as other young adults their age.

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Posted by Scottage at 3:07 AM / | |  

Thursday, May 18, 2006

Better Communication a Must between Middle East and West

The Palestinian Chronicle is running a piece this week by Ramzy Baroud called Redefining Middle East.  The essay seeks to indict the United States and the West in general for their misperceptions about the Middle East in general, and map out a better method of communication between the Middle East and the West that could lead to better results.

If the US government wishes to escape its miserable fate in that region, it must redefine its relationship with the Middle East: replacing militancy with diplomacy, coercion with dialogue, and racism with partnership.

While there are many sections of the article which I disagree with, the article brings up some very interesting points which bear examination.  A better understanding of the concepts behind the article could lead to averting a conflict that we are not ready to engage in.

Baroud starts by indicating that, while the West as “a politically charged, fractious region, rife with conflicts and disputes, void of many prospects, save those leading to even further uncertainty and turmoil”, history shows us that great nations have emerged out of the Middle East. Baroud is right on target, and does not even scratch the surface: philosophers, theologians, politicians, all the great religion, all have blossomed in the region.

At the same time, Baroud cannot ignore the military events of the region either. If some of history’s great leaders have arisen out of the Middle East, it must be noted that some of those great leaders were great military leaders. Warfare between the various tribes of the Middle East has been commonplace throughout the region’s history.  Still, this does not refute that there have also been times of peace, times of learning, and of prosperity.

I wholly disagree with the author’s indication that the West intentionally portrays the citizens of the Middle East as war mongering, or even as lesser people. I believe that these stereotypes are the result of a lack of understanding between the two cultures, laziness in getting to know a culture that we share this planet with. Baroud sees these stereotypes as a necessary component of our imperialism.

Appreciating the depth and beauty of a potentially exploitable region can lead to costly hesitation, a loss that empires by definition in need of growth and expansion cannot afford. Therefore, it comes as no surprise that the historic Israeli view of Palestinians either the total denial of their existence altogether, or at best the recognition of a far more inferior breed of human was more or less shaped around the same theme applied in a variety of global historic contexts: Native Americans as ‘uncivilized’, Central American natives as ‘heathens’, Australian Aboriginals as ‘wild dogs’, and so forth.

Baroud then goes on to express his views on Iraq and Iran, views which are not exactly original. But he ends on a strong note.  He addresses the Palestinian push for self-determination and redefinition, two themes which I speak about all the time on this blog.  This is good stuff here, folks:

The fact of the matter is that the Middle East is eager to define itself according to its own terms and aspirations. It’s neither middle, nor an east, and is not destined to eternal violence and chaos. The imperialist West needs to appreciate the complexities of this region, its richness and its growing potential. It needs to abandon the old Israeli view that "Arabs only understand the language of violence."

If the US government wishes to escape its miserable fate in that region, it must redefine its relationship with the Middle East: replacing militancy with diplomacy, coercion with dialogue, and racism with partnership. Either that or uncertainty and chaos will continue to define the region, and define those foolish enough to perceive the Middle East through trite clichés and meaningless slogans.

Whether or not the governments of the West decide they are willing to trust the governments of the Middle East, it is apparent to me that the author is correct: either the West needs to allow the Middle East to define itself and determine its own future, or the conflict between the West and Middle East will continue to grow.  

Baroud points out clearly that the West does not understand the potential and culture of the Middle East, and just as clearly he has shown that the Middle Eastern side does not understand the motivations of the West.  As such, I believe the key is communication, and only through communication will we diminish growing tensions between these two cultures.

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Posted by Scottage at 4:15 PM / | |  

Teacher Fired For Showing Profane Videos – or Anti-Bush Videos?

In Limestone, Alabama an eighth grade science teacher, Steve White, was fired from his job and is being forced off the ballot for a House seat in Alabama District 4 after supposedly showing profane videos to his class. This began with White being reprimanded for showing his students a lewd anti-Bush film, though he is accused of showing other inappropriate films to his kids.

White has been written up, suspended and eventually fired for showing his class a video of President Bush, Fox commentator Sean Hannity and members of Bush’s staff which included profane language.  White was also accused of showing other videos to the class, including a toothless bikini-clad Alabama fan with cigarettes and beer, an animated short film of President Clinton and Monica Lewinsky, and an old lady with dirty advice.

Today the school board met for 4.5 hours and came back with the 6-1 decision that White was ineligible to teach in their school district. The Alabama Democratic Executive Committee has indicated it will look into forcing White off of the ballot for a house seat in the upcoming election.  And the name of the one board member who voted against the suspension was printed publicly to discourage future similar votes.

During this past weekend, we discussed what a great education we received at Germantown Friends.  This was because we were encouraged to think, to question the images we saw in current events, and to criticize, or even laugh at, events that don’t make sense.  And to me it seems like these videos are an effort to get these kids to think, especially considering the presence of an anti-Clinton video balancing the Bush film.

We looked at another case like this in New Jersey a few months ago, and like in that case, there certainly is the question of whether it’s right for the teacher to impose his views on his students. But to me, this does appear to be a teacher trying to get his students to think.  I don’t believe they’re hearing any language the kids wouldn’t have heard by age 14, and I don’t think he’s forcing his views upon the kids.  

If we continually prevent our teachers from teaching kids how to think, how to question, how to make up their own minds, what type of children will we raise?  Let this man, and others quality teachers, teach!  That’s a very real quality of the education they provide.

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Posted by Scottage at 4:02 AM / | |  

Wednesday, May 17, 2006

Big Blogger Task #3: The Ode

For big blogger this week I was asked to make an ode to an object.  I decided to do an ode to my filing cabinet.  So without further ado:

My filing cabinet, standing straight and proud,
In the corner and far from view,
Behind the Chinese screen and door
I don’t doubt your loneliness is true,

And yet in the corner as you sit there still,
Waiting in with patient grace,
You maintain some order in my life,
And allow me to keep my pace.

In drawer one, the most pressing docs,
From bills to insurance to work,
The lessons plans from my Hebrew school,
And all past receipts do lurk.

One drawer down is my past 10 years,
Only important things,
Hebrew and Arabic, Russian and Dutch,
Even Old English from this drawer sings.

One more drawer down finds my childhood memories,
Stories and papers and such,
Some photographs from K-6 stay shut into this drawer,
The memories overwhelm me too much.

And finally the bottom drawer,
With pictures and knickknacks, things special to me,
I go through this drawer time and again,
Just to find what there is to see.

A nomad I am, running around all the time,
And it’s hard to keep track of the past.
Thank heavens for the comfort of my filing cabinet,
Which makes sure all my memories last.


Posted by Scottage at 11:51 PM / | |  

Hazing: Women’s Soccer Team Caught in Compromising Position

The story goes that on the Northwestern campus, where hazings have been outlawed long ago, the Women’s Soccer Team is still requiring new members to submit to the hazing ritual. The hazing included women running around in underwear, performing bondage, lap dances and even some simulated sex acts, all including the freshmen members of the girl’s soccer team.

One of the members of the team took photos, and decided to share the pictures with the rest of the team on a public student file-sharing network. Probably the girl thought the hazing was no big deal, and maybe she’s right.  She included captions and the names of the girls in what must be considered a somewhat brazen manner.

The pictures were forwarded to a blog called Bad Jocks, which normally republishes stories about athletes living outside of the rules of normal society. The author of the blog, Bob Reno, matched the names with pictures of the girl’s soccer team and compared those with the hazing photos, easily verifying that hazing girls were real members of the team.  At this point he decided to break his normal format and publish an original story.

"To the best of my knowledge, the pictures were posted by a player on the team," Reno said. "All the captions for the photos led me to that conclusion."

On Tuesday, Northwestern athletic director Mark Murphy suspended the team from all athletic activity.  The university cited the need to take swift action in light of the controversy at Duke University, and noted that the team’s season doesn’t begin until August, leaving time to investigate the incident to determine if the suspension is merited.  In a later press conference, Murphy said this:
"Northwestern University today learned of allegations that hazing took place last year involving the women's soccer team. Hazing is forbidden under the university's anti-hazing policy. ... I have asked all athletic department staff, team coaches and members of the team to cooperate fully in the investigation by student affairs.  If the investigation shows that there has been a violation of Northwestern's policies, appropriate sanctions will be imposed and the athletic department may take additional action as well."

There is also considerable condemnation for Bob Reno for publishing the photos. Some say he did not do enough to determine the veracity of the story.  Others indicate that by reporting the story he was blowing a minor issue way out of proportion.  There were even calls that he had violated copy write laws, but those claims have been proven false.

So is it a moral tragedy that hazings still occur on college campuses? I was never a member of a fraternity, so I never had a hazing, but I’ve always thought of hazings as mindless and stupid, but not really immoral. Yes, the students are underage, but aren’t the hazings a right of passage? To me it didn’t seem like the end of the world.

BadJocks indicates that the hazings are wrong because they violate the rules, and with the posting of these photos the rules are being violated blatantly.  But again, we’re talking about kids here, right, just experiencing their first taste of adulthood? Is anyone being hurt here? Are the girls being coerced to participate? Nothing indicates they are participating against their will. So I don’t see the crime.  

But I’m also not one of the people speaking out against BadJocks.  They have the right to their opinion about the soccer team, and the fact that the team actually published the photos first seems to me to indicate that they wanted it to be public, or at least didn’t care.  So by all means, BadJocks has the right to publish all 46 photos and write their opinions.  Even though I don’t share their opinion, hey, it’s a valid opinion, the girls broke the rules.

What do you think?  The University has suspended the woman’s soccer team, do you agree with that, or is the University at fault for blowing this out of proportion? Do you think that this is all the blogger’s fault for having published the photos in a more public manner and addressing the issue? Perhaps the girls were wrong for having performed the hazings in the first place?  Or maybe they just shouldn’t have publicized the rituals?

My belief is that the hazings are no big deal, and the University should lighten up.  I also think Bad Jocks has a right to publish the photos, and did enough investigation to determine that they are valid. But I need more data.  Give me your opinions, and maybe we can arrive at some better answers together.

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Posted by Scottage at 1:55 AM / | |  

Tuesday, May 16, 2006

Bono Guest-Edits The Independent – RED Edition; Half Revenue Donated to Fight Aids

Recently I’ve done a number of postings on people, whether they be celebrities, bloggers, and normal individuals who have spoken up for issues they’ve cared about. Of late, I’ve focused more on people who have spoken out against the government, as I see serious dangers associated with our government’s policies; but it’s not the anti-Bush sentiments that earn coverage from the Nomad, rather it’s the push to make a difference.

Perhaps no celebrity has been more socially conscience than Bono of U2. U2 has some good songs, maybe even a few great ones, and definitely some powerful lyrics, though I don’t consider them great artists.  They do put on a great performance, though, and at the heart of that performance is Bono.

It is not Bono’s voice that makes him so powerful, to say the least.  He has a presence, a charisma that rivals any politician or superstar you can think of.  Understanding his strengths, Bono has decided to use his appeal not only to make the almighty buck with his music, but also to make a difference in the world.

Today Bono’s primary cause is the war against Aids, predominantly in Africa.  And his latest effort to earn money for this cause is to guest-edit the May 16, 2006 edition of The Independent, the leading British newspaper, with half of the proceeds being donated to his anti-AIDS initiative, called Red.

Bono has authority to decide which stories run in today’s issue, titled The Independent – No News Today.  He also wrote an essay for the edition, named “I am a Witness.  What can I do?”, and also helped create the cover, which included the statement that “Just 6,500 Africans died today as a result of a preventable, treatable disease (HIV/Aids).”, and a reference to Genesis 1.27:

God created man in his image; in the divine image he created him; male and female he created them.

Whatever you may think of Bono, it’s hard to refute that he’s a positive force in the world, and that he’s making a difference using his unique talents. Unlike many of my rock and roll heroes, Bono doesn’t see himself as some sort of God, but instead sees himself as a member of the world community, and that he has responsibilities that are associated with membership. View this passage from his editorial in today’s paper:

May I say without guile, I am as sick of messianic rock stars as the next man, woman and child. I am also tired of average work being given extra weight because it's attached to something with real gravitas, like the Aids emergency. So I truly try to tread carefully as I walk over the dreams of dignity under my feet in our work for the terrible beauty that is the continent of Africa. I'm used to the custard pies. I've even learnt to like the taste of them. But before you are tempted to let fly with your understandable invective, allow me to contextualise. Not for the sake of my vanity, but for the sake of people who are depending on you - the reader - to respond to the precariousness of their lives.

I first saw U2 at a concert in Hayarkon Park in Ramat Gan, just outside Tel Aviv, Israel. The show was on Erev Rosh Hashanah, September 30th, 1997, and the band was greeted by roughly 200,000 fans, half Palestinian and half Israeli. The concert was extraordinarily political, and Bono spoke in Hebrew, Arabic, and English as he pushed for peace in the region.  The concert was amazing, and not one fight was recorded.

Bono is known for the socially conscious and sometimes religious lyrics incorporated into many of his songs.  He has supported a number of causes over the years, including 3rd world debt, trade with Africa, and the fight against aids, while being an organizer of Live Aid in 1985 and Live 8 in 2005.

He has met with both Junior and Senior President Bushes and President Clinton, Treasury secretary Paul O’Neill, Canada’s Prime Minister Paul Martin, UN Chairman Kofi Annan, Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon and a host of other dignitaries to argue for his specific causes.  And coming from a world of violence, Bono has always preached peace and moderation.

Now I can’t tell you whether Bono is qualified to edit as important a paper as The Independent, even for a day.  But I certainly applaud his efforts to assist the growing plight of Aids stricken Africa, as well as the direction he has taken with his career and his political efforts. As such, Bono is this week’s Inspiration of the Week!

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Posted by Scottage at 11:32 PM / | |  

Monday, May 15, 2006

Bush Wants Sweeps Time, Speaks on Illegal Immigration

George W. Bush has once again demonstrated that his true talent is neither governing nor understanding the complexity of crucial issues facing our country; his true mastery lies in manipulating the media and capturing the limelight.  

During a sweeps week replete with blockbuster television shows and high-priced advertising, Bush demanded and received a half-hour of high-priced time to pitch his plans for increasing border security. Unfortunately, the plan he put forth lacked specifics, and in the few places where specifics were included Bush seemed sadly out of touch with the real issues being faced today.  

Let me say, I liked some of the generalities I heard tonight from the president. I like the idea of a guest worker program, which would allow people in need of work to match up with potential employers to work in the country on a temporary basis, and return home to their families and communities. And the provisions to enable long-time residents of the United States to gain citizenship with some penalty of back taxes seem fair as well.

Unfortunately, specifics were lacking.  Members of the guest worker program are supposed to receive identification cards with thumb-print identification.  But who will foot the bill for this ID program? How long will the program last and how often will new ID cards need to be reproduced?

Regarding the citizenship program, how long must a person have lived in the US to be eligible for citizenship, and how much back taxes do you expect to receive from the poorest demographic in our society? What other criteria, such as family ties, will be considered in determining candidates? And what differs this from an amnesty program that we know will get shot down by house republicans?

I also believe in securing our borders, and I think it is essential to enhance local law enforcement, and support it with new technologies, to slow the stream of illegal immigrants and prevent terrorists from infiltrating our country.

But his mention of 6,000 National Guardsmen to assist border patrols seems unrealistic all the way around. 12,000 border patrol agents are presently ineffective in fighting illegal immigration, hardly slowing the tide of new immigrants, so bumping up to 18,000 patrollers does not strike me as assuring success.  

But even that number will be hard to muster, as we are entering a storm season that most people suspect will dwarf last year’s storm season. As we all know, we did not have enough National Guardsmen to handle the disasters this country faced in the past year, and spreading that force even thinner, while the number of guardsmen is already decreasing, seems to be a poor allocation of resources.

All in all, it seems like this “comprehensive bill” will cost a lot of money, yet no specifics of a price tag for this effort was mentioned. It was unclear whether the president was asking us to trust him on the specifics or if he just wasn’t aware of them himself.  But either way, without any meat to his argument, Bush’s speech came off as more of a publicity announcement to prove that he had a plan illegal immigration and increase his sagging 29% approval rating.

Where is the indictment of big business, and their culpability for promoting illegal immigration?  Without disincentives for hiring illegal workers, we will always see a demand for this form of cheap labor, and a steady stream of immigrants crossing the border. Any plan for fighting immigration that does not include sanctions for companies who purchase illegal immigrants will not be effective.

And where is the call for improved relations with Mexico to help combat toe problem on that side of the fence. Almost every military expert says that any plans for securing our borders that does not include coordinated efforts with the Mexican police will be ineffectual, but Bush made no references whatsoever to coordination with Mexico.

I may not agree with Bush on many things, but in general I’m happy to hear any plans he would like to share with the country, especially those pertaining to our security.  But in the absence of any substance, this appears to have been more of a publicity stunt than a real response to the growing issue of illegal immigration in this country.

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Comics from The Republic and Red Patriot State.


Posted by Scottage at 10:28 PM / | |  

The Reunion – Aftermath

I arrived back home last night after my 20th high school reunion, and now that I’ve recovered some, it’s back to posting as well as a million other tasks. But at the very least I want to begin with blogging, and blogging about my high school reunion, which I must say I really enjoyed.

One of the unfortunates of being a nomad is that you invariably lose touch with amazing people, as you are never anchored in one place long enough to keep a phone number or email address (thus the reason I didn’t hear about the reunion until the last minute).  And while traveling around, meeting new people and facing new challenges is often exciting, it’s hard not to sometimes look back on the lost friends with regret.

Now I must say I felt like a bit of an outsider at Germantown Friends School, not really fitting in with the majority of my classmates; friendly enough with all of them to share a conversation, but not really close with many of the people.  Of course the majority of the blame falls on me, who hadn’t really found myself enough to find other people.  But still, I quickly realized that I was part of a very special group at GFS.

Seeing these people again drove home how special they are.  Their occupations ran from a botanist working in the hills of Tibet to a professor of Renaissance History, from an author/editor to a surfing specialist to a classical singer, with a wide variety of educators and other professionals in between.

Many had amazing families with bright, intelligent children and roots dug into our community.  Our hostess has a full family and owns and runs her own pastry shop which I understand to be amazing – where does she find the time?  In all, I couldn’t help but be impressed with all the people I saw there, and to wish I had taken more time to keep in touch with these individuals after leaving high school.

I wake up today thinking how much better I’m going to be at keeping in touch with these people. The realistic side knows that by tomorrow there will be new goals and challenges that will occupy my thoughts and time, and I will be struggling to keep up with all the tasks that face me, but there are some things you just have to make time for, and this is one.  And I hope that I won’t wait 20 years to get my next updates.

All the photos from the reunion party can be seen here.

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Posted by Scottage at 10:56 AM / | |  

Sunday, May 14, 2006

Real Solutions between Israel and Palestine

Hi all, I’m back from my high school reunion with pictures, stories and memories, which I’ll try to only bore you with occasionally. But before I get into that stuff, there are a couple posts I want to get to.  

During the reunion party, I was having a fascinating conversation about the politics of Israel, and developed upon a theory I spoke of when I first started writing this blog about why present peace proposals continue to get rejected, and a potential solution that speaks to the real issues that maintain the level of hostility between these two people.

Needs of the Palestinian People

During my years in Israel, I interacted with many Palestinian people, nearly on a daily basis.  The vast majority were willing to make sacrifices to have a homeland again. Most renounced the violence, though many said that it was the only way they could further their cause. And they all spoke on a national pride, of a return to a time when they controlled Jerusalem.


But interestingly enough most spoke of Jerusalem in economic terms, as opposed to religious terms.  Of course there is a huge amount of awe and affection for the Dome of the Rock, but many spoke of the thousands or even millions of tourists that the Dome draws every year, and the admiration and traded afforded Palestine as keepers of the holy place.

Jerusalem is in many senses a commercial center for the Palestinians, with huge percentages of Palestine’s trade moving through the city. The ancient nature of the city as well as its fortification led to a respect for the city that Palestine has translated into an economy since its inception. I believe that, while the Muslim community outside of Israel demands control over the Holy city, the Palestinians only wants the respect attached to it.

The Real Jerusalem Problem

As Israel promises to provide Palestine with a country consisting of the West Bank and Gaza Strip, it has become obvious that Jerusalem will never be returned willingly to the Palestinian people.  Without Jerusalem, the Palestinian people are provided with land with minimal fertility, natural resources or ability to sustain life.  Israel’s promises to provide funds and irrigation appear as handouts to children who can’t thrive on their own.

But would an agreement be possible if the offer included a means for the Palestinian people to develop their own autonomous economy?  My first project in Israel was helping create two autonomous economies for the Israeli and Palestinian people, and I saw first hand that with even small investments in Palestine’s economy, the economy blossomed and tensions eased. Dignity is a powerful force, and can transform a society.  

That feeling quickly evaporated in 2000, but the memories don’t fade so quickly, and I truly believe that, if Israel not only provided Palestine with a country comprised of the West Bank and Gaza Strip, but also provided the Palestinian people with the means to rebuild their economy, real strides could be made towards peace between the two people.

An Original Solution?

My belief is that, along with returning land to the Palestinians, Israel should pay to build the infrastructure for one city, which should probably be Hebron, or al-Khalil to Islam, the oldest city in the world. The city has nearly as much significance to the Muslim community as Jerusalem itself, and if properly rebuilt, could draw the same tourism as was drawn by Jerusalem, even more in the “novel” stage.

The Process

The funds to pay for the city should be provided both by Israel and by the Jewish Diaspora community, as in many ways, Israel serves as a safe haven for all Jewish people everywhere, and as such all of Judaism owes Palestine some debt for retaking the ancient land of Canaan.

The international community as well holds some responsibility for the present dilemma of the Palestinian people, and we must admit that when some Muslim leaders speak of US and EU favoritism for Israel, they are not necessarily wrong all of the time. Yes, sometimes we see the UN or EU countries come out against an Israeli action or decision, but more often then not they are sympathetic to the Israeli plight, as the US always is.

Still, some responsibility for the present displacement of the Palestinian people must fall on the Muslim world as well, who told them in 1948 to leave their homes while they swept the Zionist threat into the sea. The Muslim world has also used the Palestinian people and their leaders as pawns in a wide variety of conflicts over the years, further propagating the dilemma.

As such, the international community should be responsible to provide infrastructure between the city and major modes of transportation, allowing for the resumption of the tourist trade.  And the Muslim community should be responsible for renovating Haram Ibrahim, the mosque signifying the tomb of Abraham. Anyway, only a mosque funded by the Muslim community would be visited by the Muslim community.

Rebuilding Dignity

But while the money should be provided by these groups, the designs and the work needs to come from the Palestinian people. They need to rebuild the city from their own ideas, with their own creativity, and with their hard work, so they can rebuild their dignity at the same time.  Not to mention the project will provide thousands of jobs and help grow the sluggish economy.

Yes, there are security concerns over providing the Palestinian people with funds and/or building supplies. And yes, there are many logistics that would need to be worked out to make a program like this feasible. But we need to get at the roots of the problems between Palestine and Israel, the problems will continue to grow and escalate, and to do so we need to start thinking outside the box. This is one possible way to do so.  

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Posted by Scottage at 7:19 PM / | |