Tag Archives: middle-east

Pro-Israel vs Pro-Palestine: Can There Be a Third Option?

About a year ago I wrote a paper on media bias in coverage of the Israel-Palestine conflict. In her feedback, my professor accused me of being a Palestinian sympathizer and in the same breath called me pro-Israel. This conversation, in my mind, highlights the fact that no matter how careful I am, neutrality on this issue has become nearly impossible.

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Bethlehem, The West Bank: Every morning hundreds of Palestinians line up at the barrier to make it through the checkpoint in time for work in Jerusalem. It often takes 3+ hours to make it through.

Let’s face it, no one wants to talk about the Israel-Palestine conflict. No matter what stance you take, you’re going to offend someone. Since violence and tensions have somewhat lessened since last year, or at least have become overrun by other more flashy news stories, there hasn’t been a whole lot of coverage on the conflict. Though governments may be in a constant process of peace talks and negotiation the situation for most Israeli and Palestinian citizens remains unchanged.

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The Western Wall, Jerusalem

About three years ago I spent some time living in both Israel and the West Bank. As a writer and photographer I naturally blogged about my experience, and the response I got was both shocking and highly predictable. This conflict touches on so many aspects of history and culture that it has become absolutely polarizing on the fronts of ethnicity and religion. Like the situation with my professor I managed to piss off people on both sides as I desperately clung to what I liked to think was middle ground, searching for a “pro-peace” option.

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This Post Contains Pictures of Dead Children

43 years ago, a picture was taken. It captured the moments after a napalm attack on a Vietnamese village. Against a backdrop of smoke a nine-year-old girl runs towards the camera, naked and screaming.

The shock that image’s managed to elicit is credited as having helped end the war, and that photograph has become perhaps the most powerful pictures of the horrors of war ever taken.

Until last Thursday.

That is the body of Aylan Kurdi, 3 years old.

Refugees from the Syrian civil war, Aylans family’s had attempted to escape to Vancouver, only for their application to be rejected by the Canadian government. With nowhere else to turn, the Kurdi family fled to Europe in a final effort to escape. While the Kurdis found passage on a small boat bound for Greece, the vessel was far overloaded with refugees and tipped a few miles off the Turkish coast. Aylan, his brother Galip, and six other passengers (all but one of them children) fell overboard and drowned, their bodies washed ashore to where this heartbreaking picture was taken.

Once again, there are no words. Continue reading

Remembering Christopher Hitchens

Today marks the what would have been Christopher Hitchens’ 66th birthday. While the controversial writer lost his long battle with cancer in 2011, nearly half a decade later his legacy continues to remain a puzzle to most. To some, Hitchens was a brilliant iconoclast, fearlessly proclaiming truth and reason in a world crippled by political correctness and blind sentimentality. To others, Hitchens was a traitor who abandoned his radical roots in favor of jack-booted imperialism and  militarism. After all this time, the question remains: Who was Hitchens?

Born in Porstmouth, England, Hitchens first began his prolific career as a writer for a number of leftist magazines, eventually joining New Statesman in the early 70s, where he quickly made a name for himself as a fiery critic of the the Vietnam War. Hitchens would go on to become an acclaimed foreign correspondent, frequent contributor to The Nation and Vanity Fair, and unapologetic critic of most of the political establishment. No one- from Ronald Reagan to Bill Clinton, from Jerry Falwell to the royal family- escaped Hitchens’ unique blend of unimpeachable logic and acidic invectives. Hitchens made a name for himself in particular by viciously decrying Henry Kissinger, who he argued (not without cause) was a power-worshiping war criminal…

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Michelle Obama, Cultural Norms, and Making A Statement

You should all know by now that I’m one of the last people to be up to speed on current events in the political sphere. Having said that, I do pay attention to the news in my Facebook sidebar, which is how I found out that three days ago Michelle Obama joined her significant other on his trip to Saudi Arabia to pay respects to the recently deceased King Abdullah.

Oh yeah, and she also didn’t wear a head covering of any kind.

Now look, before we really dive into this I should probably remind everyone that being the spouse of a world leader is no cakewalk. To pick just one example out of many, Michelle Obama [referred to by full name to avoid confusion] announced the Best Picture winner at the 2013 Oscars. This prompted Conservative columnist Jennifer Rubin to share that:

“There is a sense of going too far and too much and becoming so ubiquitous that people don’t consider you something special. She is the first lady for goodness sakes. She’s not just a Hollywood celebrity.”

It’s a statement which . . . okay, it’s ridiculous. I would explore that further, especially the comment about the inherent celebrity within the status of POTUS and all related to the person in that role, but I just wanted to illustrate the fact that Michelle Obama is under a lot of scrutiny all of the time about everything. Continue reading

Re: Do Western Christians Want Martyrs? – Yes, They Do

Yesterday, CWR’s own Kat posted “Do Western Christians Want Martyrs?”, a short post questioning the motivations behind the recent outpouring of Western sympathy for the plight of Iraqi and Syrian Christians, currently being massacred by the forces of the terrorist group formerly known as ISIS. That post prompted the following comment: “[it] seems a bit sick to turn this into a critique of Christians or Christianity… what is it in you that wants to make this a critique of Christian hypocrisy?

Now I don’t think it was Kat’s intention to downplay the genocide in progress in the Levant and it certainly isn’t mine either. So why critique Christians?

Because Christians are guilty.

No, they’re not pulling the triggers or wielding the swords, but the actions of Western Christians have contributed not only to the slaughter of Iraqi and Chaldean believers, but the persecution, suffering, and misery of the church  all across the world. And even as Western Christians switch their profiles to the Arabic letter “nun” for “Nazarene”, the self same people continue to be part of the problem.

Let me show you a picture:

These are the first of the first. The oft-forgotten Christians of Palestine. The descendents of the very first followers of Christ. These people are literally Nazarenes.

Where is their defense? Continue reading

Shame Day: Whitewashed Bible Movies and the Christians Who Watch Them

I think it only fair, given the current situation in the Gaza Strip, to shout-out the West’s general view of the Middle East today as having honorary Shame Day status [you can check out yesterday’s post for what that’s all about]. Cue my flawless segue into today’s actual topic, which is in regards to the West’s general view of the historical Middle East.

This retreads some pretty well-worn ground for me, because it’s about Hollywood and race. I’ve spotlit problems with the “one size fits all” approach to casting minorities, heavily criticized Hollywood’s attempts to whitewash their remakes of groundbreaking animated films, and outright condemned producers who cite the inevitable change in the industry while stolidly refusing to have any part of it. The difference here is that this time it’s heavily tied into Western Christianity.

It’s been almost 60 years since The Ten Commandments, and I want to say we’ve come a very long way since then. Again note that that’s something I want to say. To be truly and completely honest there is almost nothing I want more than to be able to write to you all and tell you that in six decades we are so, so far from the time when Charles Heston and Anne Baxter were cast as Moses and Nefertiti, respectively. You know what they say, though, you can’t always get what you want. Continue reading

Fame Day: The One-State Solution

This was originally going to be my topic for Monday, but I decided to put this discussion off for a few days and showcase it here. Our “Fame Days”, after all, aren’t just about celebrating achievements but include shining the spotlight on noble issues or events we believe should have more attention, and I’d be hard-pressed to think of any idea more deserving than the “One-State Solution”.

Chances are that you have absolutely no idea what I’m talking about, and that’s fine. Normally I rail against what I’d consider self-imposed ignorance when it comes to politics or foreign affairs, but this is a really, really obscure concept (heck, that’s the entire reason we’re talking about it today).

When we’re talking about either the “one-state” or (more common) “two-state” solutions, we’re referencing the debate over the future of Israel and the Palestinian territories. Pretty much every so-called “road map” to “peace in the Middle East” revolves around settling the question of the borders of Israel and what would eventually become the state of Palestine. Who gets what land, access to which resources, authority over which sites- you get the idea.

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