Political Science students report daily on twelve Middle East nations
A couple of weeks ago, I mentioned the class on Middle East Politics that I'm teaching this semester at the University of Southern California. Part of the course is to learn about blogging by creating a site and writing for it 5 days a week.
On a number of occasions the students have found stories before the main international media have reported them. That's because they are encouraged to look locally for less familiar perspectives.
Secretary of State Rice's visit prompts easing of some West Bank restrictions
In an apparent attempt to get the peace process reignited, Condoleezza Rice appears to have wrung some concessions from Israel to improve Palestinian life on the West bank by easing some roadblock restrictions.
Israeli foreign minister opposes
her prime minister's delay of Jerusalem issue
Tzipi Livni agreed
with her PA counterpart, Ahmed Qurei, that without Jerusalem on the
table negotiations would go nowhere. Annapolis was an agreement to
discuss all issues, she said. Haaretz commented, "This
means that the order of debates on the core issues is insignificant, as
without an understanding on Jerusalem, any understandings reached on
other issues, like borders and refugees, are meaningless."
A site in Northern Israel for a new Arab city and more Israeli settlement activity in East Jerusalem
It's almost give with one hand, take back with the other. At the same time that the Israeli interior minister announced that he would like to see a plan this year for a new Arab city in Northern Israel, others said that Israel would issue building permits for parts of disputed East Jerusalem.
On Thursday, Reuters reported on Tony Blair's visit to Nablus and Ramallah, where he agreed that the Palestinian Authority under Mahmoud Abbas has made progress on meeting Road Map security conditions. He pressed Israel to similarly meet its commitments
Martin Buber and one of the seminal events in the Arab-Israeli conflict in 1948
It was Jewish philosopher Martin Buber who, with three other Jewish thinkers, wrote to Ben-Gurion that the massacre of over 100 men, women and children by Jewish forces at Deir Yassin is "a black stain on the honour of the Jewish nation" and "a warning to our people that no practical military needs may ever justify such acts of murder."
Ben-Gurion never replied despite being sent several copies of the letter.
Two Jewish underground groups are traditionally associated with the events at Deir Yassin: IZL (Irgun Z'vai Leumi) and LHI (Lehame Herut Israel [Stern Group]). But as Israeli historian Benny Morris has pointed out in Righteous Victims (1990, p.207), there was a third supporting group, comprised of Palmach and Haganah elements (there with the approval of the Haganah command in Jerusalem).
Jewish theologian Marc Ellis notes that Martin Buber also wrote in his letter to Ben-Gurion, "The time will come when it will be possible to conceive of some act in Deir Yassin, an act which will symbolize our people's desire for justice and brotherhood with the Arab people."
For more than a hundred years, the tiny strip of land between the Mediterranean Sea and the Jordan River has been the subject of intense debate and bitter conflict, with one of the main focal points of the ongoing struggle being a single ancient city. Exploring the lives of fourteen key Palestinian and Jewish leaders, this fascinating study examines the roles of identity and ideology in the search for a resolution to the final-status issue of Jerusalem. The book will prove an important resource for scholars and students interested in the Arab-Israeli conflict, peace studies, and political psychology.
In a report from the Israel Project attention is directed to the plight of Palestinian Christians whose numbers have dwindled in recent years. The site of Jesus' birth has been hard hit. As the report notes, "Bethlehem in particular has seen a dramatic decline in its Christian population. Of Bethlehem’s 30,000 residents, less than 20 percent are Christian. In 1948 though, more than 85 percent of the town’s inhabitants were Christian." In the West Bank and Gaza the drop in numbers is even more dramatic. Once at 15% of the Palestinian population (1948), Christians now represent only 1½%. Muslim persecution is certainly one of the reasons for the decline as the report shows.
Though religious tolerance is usually relegated in discussions about the peace process, without mutual respect between Christians, Muslims and Jews, progress in the Middle East will remain a distant dream. The issue of Jerusalem's declining Christian population is a subject I treat inIdentity, Ideology and the Future of Jerusalem.
David Hulme holds a Ph.D. in International Relations with an emphasis on the Middle East. As publisher of Vision and president of the Church of God, an International Community (COG AIC), Hulme's message is one of hope, restoration and peace.