Friday, February 13, 2009

February birthdays and Arab-Israeli conflict

Tonight my friend and classmate Cara and I are having a joint birthday party at Sequoia, an outdoor Nileside lounge, restaurant, and bar. She turned 24 on the 8th and I will be 23 on the 15th. February's a big birthday month in my family-my dad's on the 25th, my cousin, the 18th, my aunt, the 16th and so on. It's hard to know that thousands of miles away in the States my family are going about their lives: working, going to school, having parties of their own, going to sports games, dealing with challenges that come their way, etc., while I am living my own life here. Despite all that, it's worth it. I am feeling more acclimated and more and more like coming here was an excellent and wise decision despite the sacrifices. I'm thankful that my family is so supportive as well.
Another February birthday was yesterday, Philip Rizk's. Since his abduction and subsequent release, my mind has again returned to the Arab-Israeli conflict and the situation in Gaza. In this vein, I hope that the regular readers of my blog were able to watch the video clip I posted yesterday. Knowing that the conflict is a hugely touchy subject, I assure you that my approach is one of balance and an attempt at understanding the conflict from both sides. But with that said, I have opinions and convictions about the matter and won't apologize for it. The conclusions I have come to are not necessarily fixed–a closed mind is inimical to progress, but I believe I am informed enough to hold them defensibly as they are now. Like many Americans, I have friends and acquaintances on both sides of the conflict and am torn in my sympathies. What it comes down to though is that the current siege on Gaza is inhuman and cruel. The video clip I posted in my previous entry was produced by a UN agency that receives US funding, not by a fringe group or ideological extremists. When I get more time, I hope to craft a more coherent and comprehensive entry on the history of the conflict for those who may be unfamiliar with it.

Rizk's account of his detention
Possible truce between Hamas and Israel:

Conversion from Islam to Christianity in Egypt brings instability and fear of reprisal
International watchdog group criticizes Mideast states' repression of press

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