Stranger than Fiction

April 30, 2010 at 9:36 am (Uncategorized)

The crazy housemate scenario came to a sad close yesterday, as she was arrested on a felony “no bail” warrant in the front yard, by several burly police officers.

There’s nothing nice about seeing someone get arrested when the person isn’t bad but is very very sick.

What a ride the past two weeks have been.  I meet with the landlord Monday and have a new friend in the Monterey police department.


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The Conflict Before the Middle East

April 27, 2010 at 7:52 am (Uncategorized)

Deviating from all things Levantine, our roommate situation of unusually dramatic proportions has taken a more drastic turn.

Turns out that *SHE* has a criminal record, a parole officer, more than one identity (and probably personality), several “friends” in the Monterey police, a daughter not in her own custody, was found to have unusually large amounts of cash and a housemate’s paycheck in her room by the police, and has disappeared from the premises for now.

*sigh of relief* // More to follow when I’m less tired.

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So Much to Do

April 24, 2010 at 11:46 pm (Uncategorized)

I feel like I’m swimming in schoolwork with just four weeks to go before the end of the semester and my trip to the Middle East.

I’m working on Dr. Iyer’s paper, due yesterday, for which I interviewed a Palestinian woman about her experiences living in the occupied West Bank.  I have a group project for Research Methods about AIPAC and US public opinion that is ongoing; we are re-writing our literature review which is due Wednesday.

Our midterm for the same class is Monday; I haven’t done half the reading or begun to study for it.

I have two French papers to write, one about the burqa in France and the other on an as yet undecided topic.  Our second Weapons of Mass Destruction midterm will be handed out next week and the third one on the last day of class (which I’ll submit from halfway around the world because I’ll be in Israel/Palestine!).

I also need to finish my one page account of my upcoming trip for the MIIS blog “The Foghorn” in order to receive my expenses reimbursement.  And it’s time to choose classes for next semester.  I’m also preparing for both Middlebury and the Israel/Palestine trip and will probably come home most weekends from now through May.

And there’s roommate drama because our new roommate has scared away two other roommates who have already moved out.  As long as she doesn’t touch my stuff when I’m gone (apparently my bedroom door was found open yesterday), it’ll be OK; otherwise I’ll have to move too.

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AIPAC: A Scathing Indictment

April 23, 2010 at 7:51 am (Uncategorized)

A couple of years ago, John Mearsheimer and Stephen Walt, two prominent American professors of International Affairs, published the book “The Israel Lobby and U.S. Foreign Policy.” It created quite a stir at the time, but I didn’t really pay attention until my renewed interest in the region began last summer.

This is the link to the working paper version of the book. I read the entire piece last night and was blown away by the quality of the reporting and the stark conclusions. It is a scathing indictment of the second most powerful lobby in Washington (behind AARP), the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC).

It is not a critique of Judaism. For me one of the most important take-away messages is that we cannot confuse anti-Semitism with criticism of Israel if we’re going to have an honest debate. Granted, most anti-Semites are likely critical (more likely hateful) of Israel, but simply being critical of Israel is not anti-Semitic, especially considering that Arabs are also Semites.

In fact, expressing concern that Israel’s behavior is negatively affecting the image of Jews worldwide is pro-Jewish, if anything. I am working on a group research project for Dr. Murphy’s Research Methods class, and we are focusing on AIPAC’s power to sway public opinion and shape US policy, even when that policy runs contrary to our national interest.

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Rashid Khalidi

April 21, 2010 at 9:59 pm (Uncategorized)

One of my favorite new gurus on the Israel/Palestine conflict. I love this lecture he gives at the National Lawyers Guild because he outlines precisely my experience with media coverage of the Middle East (or lack thereof). He describes the two parallel and mutually exclusive universes of media coverage of the Gaza war.

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April 21, 2010 at 9:54 pm (Uncategorized)

I’m finishing my first semester at MIIS and traveling to Jerusalem and the occupied West Bank at the end of May, so I’ve decided to switch this blog from its original use, which was to document my summer in Jordan, to Middle Eastern and specifically Palestinian-related issues.

I’m adding links to the blogroll that have more to do with Palestine and the region.

I leave for the Middle East on May 24th and couldn’t be more excited!e

After that I’ll be at Middlebury College’s Arabic summer intensive session on a Kathryn Davis Fellowship.

In the meantime, I’ve been participating in a firestorm of letters to the editor about the Middle East.

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“Just the [Politics], Ma’am”

April 1, 2010 at 9:33 pm (Uncategorized)

I’m thinking about how politics frequently pre-empts fact. Conservatives try to paint Democrats in general and Obama in particular as “soft on terror” and ineffective on national security. Obama, however, by skillfully boosting our operations in Afghanistan, has proven them wrong. I would argue that he’s a much more responsible commander-in-chief than George W. Bush.

During one of the Democratic debates, Obama had said that as president, if he had “actionable intelligence” on Pakistan, that he would strike. As president, he has had actionable intelligence on Pakistan, and he has acted aggressively with drone airstrikes, yielding arguably more success than Bush’s entire Afghanistan campaign.

Republicans portray Democrats as suckers for a climate-change farce. Sarah Palin, however, just had one of her favorite battle cries upended when Obama decided to open some US territory for oil drilling (Huffington Post ran a headline that read “Drill, Barack, Drill!”).

The Reds (ha ha) have long claimed to be the party of “family values” and Christianity, but Obama is the one who cites scripture in his speeches and can actually discuss the meaning behind it.

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Alastair Crooke

April 1, 2010 at 9:08 pm (Uncategorized)

I’ve started reading a book about Hamas, written by an Arab who knows several members of the group. The introduction to the book is written by Alastair Crooke, former head of British intelligence and founder of a Beirut-based organization called Conflicts Forum.

Conflicts Forum’s mission is to dialogue with Islamist groups and the West, and it’s the organization I most want to intern with. It would make the perfect Boren fellowship, together with Arabic language study!

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Robert [the] Baer

April 1, 2010 at 9:04 pm (Uncategorized)

I just finished reading former CIA operative Robert Baer’s memoir “See No Evil.” It’s riveting. He’s a compelling writer in both style and substance.

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