Sunday, January 3, 2010

Perspective entrenchment

Carl Jung said people all over the world regard the same symbols in the same way. I would like to put in front of you two flags, one the Israeli flag, and the other is the Saudi Arabian flag. The Israeli flag is the shield of David. When we pray we cover ourselves with a cover of two lines, and the shield of David is in the middle. We are praying and protecting ourselves with the shield. The flag of Saudi Arabia “there is no god except god, and Mohammad is the prophet.” and to emphasize it there is a sword under it. So when we are speaking about symbols, one is having a shield, and one is using a sword. And this is a symbolic thing to think about”

There was  an awkward pause here, and I glanced over to Hussein, who had a strange look on his face.  Obviously, as an Arab, this story must've stung him a little, and he was trying to think of a polite rebuttal that would not embarass his friend. Finally, he said with a laugh:
"But you can also add, what does it mean of the blue color of the israeli flag? It is blue, which represents the occupation of all the land from the Mediterranean and the Indian oceans”

After touring through the Beit Natufa valley, we went to TAEQ, and met up with Raseem. Raseem, the professor of both Hussein and Haim, presented to us a lecture on the situation of the Arab population living within Israel A palestinian living in israel himself, he seemed to have an in depth knowledge of the policies of the government, and, with the exception of the occasional protest from Haim, he spoke to a silent audience. Towards the end of the presentation, Haim presented a rebuttal which set off a furious back and forth between professor and pupil. The other students in the program, all looking bewildered and slightly still jet lagged, simply sat and watched the display unfold. Later, many told me they were uncomfortable with the exchange, since the two men were life-long friends but still could not agree.

While I was uncomfortable to an extent, I was again, quite interested, to see how each party seemed to slip back into their roles and perpetuate their own narrative of the conflict. Much like an argument between a liberal and conservative in the US, their responses did not directly address the other, but rather seemed like a poorly written script where characters were not truly listening to what the other was saying. It was an interesting experience, and one that supports the idea that this conflict truly has become an identity conflict (as if there was any doubt before), since these two men are devoted to peaceful conflict resolution, yet are unable to remove themselves from the conflict. Perhaps most interesting to me was the way in which Hussein used humor in order to break up the conflict, often throwing in absurd stereotypes of both sides that make everyone laugh.

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